Friday, March 30, 2007
Do you realize
...that my hairdryer broke this morning, leading me to the discovery that it is impossible to dry my hair with a curling iron despite a solid attempt? That, surprisingly, my hair looks better today than it has all week? That the fact that I’m even thinking about this still means that my vanity is hopeless?

…that the new Modest Mouse albums sounds much better in my car at 6:30 am than it does in my house on a Saturday afternoon?

…that there is a chance, albeit only a sleight one, that I may have viral meningitis, but since I wish to not subject myself to either a spinal tap or an MRI, I will continue to self-medicate with cough drops and aspirin and chocolate chip cookies? Of course, it might only be a cold coupled with a sore neck induced by stress, but if I call it viral meningitis I can justify skipping the gym all week?

…that if I skip the gym for only one week I immediately feel as if I have gained 10% body fat? That I really do need to get back there else you won’t ever love me?

…that it’s harder than you might think to explain the difference between war and genocide to curious teenagers?

…that I’m really digging the book that I’m reading right now, both in its concept and execution? That it's sentences like, “so I let the rain drum its tune on my coat as the others ran past me over the road to the school gates with bars like teeth ready to eat another day out of them and out of me,” that make me love it all the more?

…that I’m finding it terribly difficult to find a single Allen Ginsberg poem that would be appropriate for my kids to read? That I’m not sure how I could teach then about the Beat Generation without covering Ginsberg? That I’m thinking of risking it and giving them “America” to read anyway? That I think they might like me just enough not to rat me out to THE MAN?

…that it’s Friday? That I have four more wake ups to go until spring break? That this is awesome?

Well, do you?

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Thursday, March 29, 2007
thou shall not make some noise for detroit
I found this little gem on A Special Way of Being Afraid, a blog which you really should be reading by the way. So start already. As for the song, like so very many things that are British, I love it. The artist goes by Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, a name which is a mouthful, ridiculous, and completely awesome. I've watched this video something like fifteen times since yesterday and I can't get lines like:

"Thou shall not judge a book by its cover. Thou shall not judge Lethal Weapon by Danny Glover."

"Thou shall not shake it like a polaroid picture. Thou shall not wish your girlfriend was a freak like me."

"Thou shall not use poetry, art or music to get into girls' pants. Use it to get into their heads."

out of my silly little head. I happen to find it awfully catchy and terribly clever but please, judge for yourself.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007
books: 8 down, 16 to go: the areas of my expertise
For the unfamiliar, John Hodgman (who most would recognize if nowhere else, as PC from the Apple commercials) created a completely absurd and thoroughly silly almanac of absolutely pointless fake trivia and titled it The Areas of my Expertise. In his almanac, Hodgman includes sections named "Beard Manual," "How to Raise Rabbits for Food and Fur: The Utopian Method," and "Basics of Snow and Ice Warfare," to name a few.

Although it should not have, it seemed to take me an absurdly long amount of time to read The Areas of my Expertise. And I can't even blame it on all the time I've been spending recently grading papers, finding a cure for the common cold, and inspiring millions of poor, repressed villagers to rise up and overthrow their cruel android dictators. No, it took forever to read because nearly every single sentence in Hodgman's fake almanac is so gosh-darn funny. In fact, I fear I was terribly annoying to be around while I was reading it because I would frequently break down into hard-to-control fits of giggles, and would make anyone who was near listen while I read sections aloud. I'm sure I was tiresome, but Nathan did a very good job humoring me. For that I am thankful.

As if you even care:
My favorite individual sections were "Secrets of the Mall of America," "Films in Which I, John Hodgman, Have Made Cameo Appearances," "Hobo Matters," and "Common Short and Long Cons."
- My favorite chapter was "What You Did Not Know about Hoboes"
- My favorite hobo names (of the 700 provided) were as follows: Colin, that Cheerful Fuck; Pantless, Sockless, Shoeless, Buster Bareass; Experimental Hobo Infiltration, Mr. Wilson Fancypants; Ol' Barb Stab-You-Quick; The Unanswered Question of Timothy; Rex Spangler, the Bedazzler; Skywise the Sexual Elf; Feminine Forearms Rosengarten; Abraham, the Secret Collector of Decorative China; Socks Monster; Tom the Gentle Strangler; and Nick Nolte.
- And, although I used to think otherwise, I now contend that I would choose flight over invisibility

And were you aware that there is a website displaying artistic renderings of 800 of the 700 hoboes named in the novel? Because there is.

Up Next: The Dead Fathers Club, by Matt Haig

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007
reasons to smile (in case i forget)
adorable sea otters, holding hands through this here sea of life (smile via Carrie):

the promise of weekend plans which, if all goes well, will bring me joy:

doggie play dates that result in hilariously tense standoffs over giiiiiant sticks:

as well as:
-the sprouting of daffodils
-new moleskines
-the charming predictability of my parents' responses while playing Apples to Apples
-a temporary respite from grading
-the girl who asked to borrow all the books in the Anne of Green Gables series


Monday, March 26, 2007
welcome to my monkey house
Believe it or not, under all this sarcasm I'm usually a pretty positive person, but to be completely honest there just haven't been too many reasons for me to smile recently and my frame of mind has been suffering. Work's been frustrating and overwhelming, and after hearing some pretty depressing news over the weekend I came to work only to hear even more depressing news which, although unrelated, made me relive what I felt on Sunday all over again. It sucked. I was sad. I desperately needed a hug.

But one of the hardest things about teaching, aside from the fact that my trips to the bathroom are limited to frustratingly small and specific windows of time, is that so much of it is acting. So you're miserable? Tough. Get over it, smile, and keep on as if infinitive phrases really do matter in the grand scheme of things. (And for the record, they don't.) So anyway, by 5th hour my resources were nearly depleted, I was feeling beyond low and was basically just waiting out the end of my day, trying to keep it together until its end when I could drive home, crawl into bed and be done with it already.

Enter: my 6th hour

I've taken to calling my 6th hour my monkey house because they have reached a level of silliness and absurdity that is truly epic. Although there are several key figureheads of the monkey house, the clear leader is RJ. I'd attribute RJ's behavior to my suspicions that his attention deficit hyperactivity medication has completely worn off by the end of the day when he reaches my room, but I suspect there might be more to it than that. Secretly, I suspect the root of the problem that is RJ lies not in his ADHD, but in his absurdly large self esteem. He's constantly referencing how hot he is, how his mere presence makes the temperature in the room skyrocket and the impressive size of his "muuuuslces." Mix all this with puberty and a very foul mouth and, well, he's a force - the silverback gorilla in the monkey house that is my 6th hour.

So anyway, back to me. Recall that I was feeling pathetic and low and sad and la de la de da - poor pitiful me. About midway through the hour, I let the kids break for a stretch and a drink, since the temperature in my room must have been somewhere near 80 degrees and we were all feeling a bit sticky. Somehow in the chaos of the break I had lost two of my monkeys, RJ being one of them. Knowing that it's never good to have monkeys wandering loose, I interrogated the rest of the monkey house until the escapees were ratted out. Apparently, there was a rumor that there were nipples* next door and they boys set out to see them for themselves.

Low and behold there they were, posing as students in Mrs. B's neighboring classroom, waiting hopefully for the promise of the nipple sighting. After profuse apologies to Mrs. B, some simian whining and a small struggle, I managed to wrangle my escapees back into their cage. When I asked RJ what the hell he thought he was doing, he shot back, "Aw, that room's better. They have nipples in there!"

To which I said, "Well, we'll watch that movie eventually in this class too."


"When we study Romeo and Juliet. But we won't see any nipples. I have to fast forward that scene."

"But whyyyyyyyy?! We're old enough, dammit!"

"Sorry. I guess you'll have to rent it and watch the naughty bits at home."

"Aw man, that's dumb! I have my own naughty bits at home!"

Now, it's this last sentence that I'm still struggling with. Did he mean some female friend's naughty bits? His own? I can't be sure, and frankly I don't really want to contemplate either interpretation too closely, but I do know one thing - the whole scene made me laugh. Hard. I had temporarily forgotten everything that was making me feel so low and, although it's a bit shameful for me to admit, I was sort of thankful for RJ and my 6th hour monkey house. (Although I wouldn't mind too terribly much if their doctors would up their medication every now and then.)

*Not wanting to assume your familiarity with Zeffirelli's version of Romeo and Juliet, please note that there is one scene when - if you watch very closely, squint, and tilt your head to the left - you can see a bare-chested Juliet. The anticipation of this rare, curriculum-sanctioned nipple sighting tends to build around the end of February and gain momentum throughout the semester until the students finally get to see it and all of its blurry beauty for themselves. For the record, I usually fast forward the scene because, well, I value my job and have no real desire to see nipples. I have, however, occasionally "forgotten" to fast forward the scene when you can see Romeo's bare butt because, well, it is a nice one.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007
Please, a request. Although I wouldn't normally use a forum such as this to discuss such personal family matters, I just discovered a few hours ago that my Aunt Peggy, who I love very very much, woke up this morning to discover that her left arm is paralyzed. She has been successfully battling melanoma for over twenty years, but in these last few years the battle's taken its toll. She's been told that paralysis was possible and, although none of us wanted to think about its fruition, it looks like the possibility is now becoming a reality. In this last year alone her family has experienced more tragedy than anyone should have to see in an entire lifetime, and Peggy's somehow faced it all with a grace that is both unbelievable and inspiring. If you are the praying sort, I know that she would appreciate it.

Friday, March 23, 2007
and all that jazz
Sorry to post another "teacher" post so soon after the last (I thought I remember saying at one point that this wasn't going to be a teacher blog, didn't I?), but my kids were just so freaking cute today and I feel compelled to brag.

Mrs. W's little suburban over acheivers (otherwise known as the Honors lit kids) had their annual Roaring 20's party today, and they were absolutely adorable. I took a grossly excessive amount of pictures that I can't in good conscious display here, so you'll just have to trust me that the costumes were spot-on. In attendance we had the cutest little 4 foot 10 Charlie Chaplin I've ever seen, a very plaintive ee cummings, a truly batshit crazy Zelda Fitzgerald, an alarmingly thin version of Fatty Arbuckle, Lenin and Stalin and Trotsky (oh my!), and more gangsters and flappers than you can shake a stick at.

They decorated the cold, formal room to look like the inside of The Cotton Club, where we danced the Charleston and the foxtrot and the shimmy and, inexplicably, the cha-cha slide. We played marbles and golfed and drank shirley temples. We listened to Duke Ellington and Fats Waller and Muddy Waters and, inexplicably, the Internationale (to which all of my communist leaders stood firmly at salute until it ended).

Phrases that I never thought I'd hear uttered in my classroom such as:

"Okay, now I need all my bootleggers over here for a group picture!," and

"Hey commies in the back! Get your butts out here on the dance floor!," and

"Mrs. W, can I go out in the hallway and work on my foxtrot?," and

"Prepare, my friends, to witness my glorious revolution!" (because our Stalin insisted in staying in character the entire day),

were frequent and awesome and funny.

They researched and planned and organized everything despite the fact that the grade was negligable at best. Was it dorky? Thoroughly. But it was also innocent, sweet, fun, and exactly what I needed after the sort of week I've had.

But now I'm exhausted, and in desperate need of some bathtub gin. Or, at very least, my bathtub.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007
a little perspective
I may have made mention of this before, but although the school where I teach may not lack for much, one area where there is a definite lack is in ethnic diversity. Due to our school-of-choice status and a heavy push to gain students from a nearby inner city area we are gaining more and more African American students every year, and the increase in diversity has also brought an unfortunate increase in racial tensions. In the past four days alone there have been two pretty brutal fights in the hallways, both between a black student and a white student, both initiated when the white student started throwing around racial slurs. The closest boys bathroom in proximity to my classroom has been locked due to the phrase "no n---ers here" being repeatedly written on the walls. In other words, while they may be careful of what they say in my classroom, it looks like a fair number of kids aren't being so careful when they aren't being supervised.

Some of my colleagues were discussing this at lunch today, and I brought up the diversity program that's recently been implemented in our district. We offer an entire class on it, in fact, however the class is only being offered to the advanced placement kids, most of who come from well educated homes and are pretty open minded already. In other words, the ones who don't really need it. Several of my fellow teachers basically told me that they felt it would be pointless to even try to educate our racist population on issues of diversity since their parents are most likely racists too, that they're too far gone at this point anyway, and it would be a waste of time and resources. In their defense I can honestly understand why they would think this way, but I wish they could have seen what happened in my classroom literally five minutes later.

After lunch I headed back to my classroom to listen to my 9th graders give speeches, the topic of which was someone who they felt was a hero. Up first was T. T is a school-of-choice student from the previously mentioned inner city school district. She lives with her grandmother because her mother abandoned her. She is sweet but desperately needs attention (wonder why?), is very loud, terribly scattered, and failed most of her classes last semester. I had read the research paper which her speech was based off of, and as a consequence I didn't really expect much from her speech. Shame on me.

T's speech was on Ruby Bridges, one of the first black students to be integrated into the previously segregated New Orleans public school system. (This is a topic her grandmother insisted she switch to by the way, after learning that she initially wanted to research Tupac Shakur.) T began her speech in her normal speaking pattern - scattered and goofy and with intermittent laughter at inappropriate places - but mid-way through a visible change came over her. She diverged slightly off topic and began talking about her previous school - how dangerous it was, how poor, and how most of the kids she knew there were only concerned with their gangs and staying out of jail. And then she started to cry. She paused, too overcome with emotion to talk, and I gave her the opportunity to stop if she wanted to. She refused, choosing instead to give the rest of her speech while sobbing. She spoke about how much better off she is here, how hard people like Ruby Bridges fought to give her the opportunity to be here in the first place, and how she's been wasting that gift by failing her classes. She spoke about how every student has the right to not only a good education, but to be educated in a place where they feel safe and loved.

Although it was hard to tear my eyes away from T, at one point I looked around at her all-white audience. For the most part, these are kids who come from homes ranging from pretty comfortable to downright wealthy, they have never had to go to a "bad" school, and they probably wouldn't consider themselves lucky to be receiving the education they are receiving. But at least for this one moment they were riveted, wide-eyed, and more than one was crying.When she finally ended her speech, the applause was thunderous and sincere.

As I was hugging T in the hallway after her speech, my shoulder soaked with her tears, I started to remember the conversation I had at lunch and found myself wishing that the rest of the building could have been in my classroom at that moment to hear what T had to say. I bet it would have made a difference.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007
who says book burnings are bad?
Aside from this blog I've never been very good at keeping a journal, although I've made sincere attempts at it most of my life. Since I was a little kid, I always find myself inexplicably drawn to pretty notebooks in bookstores, so I will often buy one with the best intentions of keeping a regular journal. Inevitably, I'll write in it for a few weeks and then abandon it, and this is something that I've done since I received my first diary as a 5th birthday present (Strawberry Shortcake was on the cover, and I dictated my entries - which were mostly about kindergarten and my mommy and daddy and trips to McDonalds - to my mother, and yes I still have it, and yes it is awesome).

I say all of this because for some reason I pulled one of my old journals off the shelf today while giving myself a break from grading my research papers. I started this particular journal when I was thirteen, and although it contains entries that I wrote in high school and even into college, by far most of the entries were written by my eighth grade self. The entries are unintentionally hilarious, at times a bit pathetic, thoroughly embarrassing, and there is absolutely no way that I will ever let you read it so don't even ask. Most of it was about boys, my best friend/worst enemy, and worrying about leaving Ohio and moving to Michigan, which was apparently much more traumatic than I remembered it being. But even though I'm opening myself up to ridicule, I still feel compelled to share at least part of one entry. Don't ask me why. I must find some sick pleasure in humiliation. Anyway, here is what was on my mind on January 14, 1992: is really getting to me. I can't stand all the pressure of having to ace every test, being horrified of what nightmares my grade card will tell, all of it. Especially French. See, we only had one quiz and Sister Barbara didn't warn us about it before hand. I got a 45%. I think I'm going to die. I even had a dream about my French grade. It went like this...I was at school and Mrs. Larrison told us we were going to get our French mid-terms, only the grade on our mid-terms cannot be changed before report cards. When I got mine, it read F - right there in hard red pen. Not C. Not D. Not even D-. Just F. I was petrified.

The entry goes on for awhile detailing the rest of the dream, the climax of which involved a conversation that I had between myself and Mrs. Larrison about my report card. Apparently the conversation didn't end well, because I wrote that "I began crying uncontrollably and started to hit her, over and over again. And then I woke up."

So, what has this experience taught me? Apparently:
  • I was every bit as neurotic and anal retentive at thirteen as I am today,
  • I was just as prone to exaggeration and fits of hysteria as I am today,
  • although I have absolutely no other memory or record of it, it seems that I briefly studied French in the eighth grade,
  • and finally, nuns are every bit as scary as I remember them being.
And with that, I'm off to start a bonfire lest this baby fall into the wrong hands. Anyone got a match?

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Monday, March 19, 2007
forever ranty
Again, it's Monday. Again, it finds me ranty. But admit it, this is how you like me. Today I'm seething about:

Post-St. Patrick's Day Wreckage
It's two days later yet my head still sort of hurts, my voice is still firmly in the "Kathleen Turner" range, and my tongue remains faintly green. Man, that was some rockin' baby shower I was at on Saturday. (Seriously, I really was at a baby shower. It was soaked in Guinness and champagne punch, but it was baby shower nonetheless.)

My Telekinetic Failures
All day I've been trying to move and/or destroy things using the power of my mind, yet each and every attempt has been met with failure. I focused really, really hard, but I when I tried to get that velcro-kid* to stop talking about Neitchke and leave my room, I failed. Tried to light the five-inch think pile of ungraded research papers on fire. Failed. Tried to get the vending machine to give me free soda since I was desperate, yet broke. Failed. Apparently there's more to it than furrowing your brow, closing your eyes and hoping really hard. Damn my frustrating lack of paranormal ability.

Recent Pet Food Recalls
I swear to God, if anything happens to my sweet little pillow humping, red hair-shedding baby girl heads will roll.

Aw screw it, I'm calling in tomorrow. I got papers to grade, videos to show and sick days to burn. If you need me I'll be the pajama-clad lady sitting in the back corner of the closest Panera, alternately grading my five-inch stack of papers and attempting to light them on fire using the power of my mind. I'm guessing I'll be there awhile.

*A velcro-kid, for those of you who don't teach lonely teenagers, is a kid who is either really really bored or who doesn't have much of a social life (usually both), so he or she hangs around your classroom after school and tries to engage you in hour-long conversations about German philosophers or The Great Depression or Eliot's use of stream-of-consciousness or really anything else that might be interesting if it weren't the end of the day and you didn't have hours worth of work to do and you really, really, really just want to go home, eat potato chips and watch Dr. Phil. (Go ahead and think it. I'm a horrible human being.)

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Thursday, March 15, 2007
so, i'm thinking that
...I kinda want to bitch slap that parent at parent/teacher conferences tonight who told me that the A- that her son received in my class is the only A- he's ever received in his life, and he's so utterly dejected over it that he's thinking about throwing in the towel, abandoning his ivy league ambitions and basically giving up on life. When I pointed out a low test score and said something to the effect of: "Well, we all screw up every now and then." She replied with, "Not me. My son might, but not me."

Well I see then. No wonder your son is so easily defeated; it must be tough having a perfect mother. I certainly hope this is the one and only speed bump life throws his way because you certainly haven't equipped him with any tools to deal with disappointment.

...I thoroughly enjoyed last night's Lost. Claire, who usually bothers me tremendously, didn't bother me at all; I continue to find Desmond's whole sudden ability to see the future intriguing; the ending posed all sorts of interesting questions about Jack, who I'm usually not at all interested in; and Locke has, at least for the time being, been removed from my Pussy List (although not everyone agrees with me, apparently). But seriously, how tight was it when he threw Professor Eye-Patch into the electronic fence of head-exploding doom and then nonchalantly turned to his buddies and simply said, "sorry"? Best.

...I'm annoyed with myself for my last-minute bracket revisions. Old Dominion over Butler? Marquette over MSU? Grrr. Why can't I just leave well enough alone?

...I need to find a new 1920's era costume for the annual Roaring 20's party, which is scheduled for next Friday. Last year I borrowed a flapper dress from a colleague. It was a size 12, and not a size 12. I don't think the boys minded the looseness around the cleavage, but I blushed a bit. Lack of time/money/sewing skills are a bit of a hindrance, so if anyone knows of someone who would own such a oddly time-specific clothing item I'd be interested in hearing about it.

...I might want to just skip dinner and eat the rest of those tiny brownies that parent gave me tonight at conferences. And don't give me that whole food pyramid crap. They're not really brownies, I'll have you know. They're vitamins. Delicious little, chocolate chip filled, frosted vitamins.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007
beware all-white casts and overly determined penguins. also guitars.
Since we have no children and, despite my baby face, I actually AM old enough to watch R rated movies (take that old lady who carded me last time I went to the theater) I've never thought to check out the parental advisory notes posted on Netflix. Why would I? But for some reason Nathan did, and it turns out that whoever writes the warning notes can be a funny little guy. Or gal. Or hermaphrodite. Whatever, I don't judge.

It's not so much that the writer is trying to be humorous, but there's something in the tone that cracks me up. See?:

Sin City: Social Behavior - Diverse characters; women are strong and capable but also mostly hookers and/or nude.

Pulp Fiction: Violence - Rape, drug overdose, car accidents, shootings, killings, vast amounts of blood, and so much more.

Alice in Wonderland: Violence - The Queen of Hearts yells "off with her head!" but as a card she's hard to take too seriously.

The Big Lebowski: Violence - Men threaten to cut off the Dude's penis; fighting between the Dude and some nihilists; a police chief throws a coffee cup at the Dude's head

March of the Penguins: Social Behavior - Penguins are very determined and very cute.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Social Behavior - All major characters white.

Stranger Than Fiction: Commercialism- A wristwatch figures prominently in the storyline. Also guitars.

At least, I find it funny. But then again, I'm also the person who thinks that Basket Case is one of the finest pieces of comic cinema ever created, so what do I know?

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007
books: 6 down, 18 to go: lost and found
Unfortunately, the powers that be saw to it that my weekend was one hour shorter than usual, and consequently I never did get to spend any time staring blankly at a wall as I had hoped I might. But fortunately, between being depressed by fine film and watching friends perform at the annual Metro Times Blowout, I was able to spend some time making headway on the 6th novel of 2007, Carolyn Parkhurst's Lost and Found.

Lost and Found tells the story of contestants participating in an Amazing Raceesque reality game show. Essentially, the novel is a character study of the contestants themselves, whose motivations for being on the show are quite varied. Among the teams are the former child stars who are hoping to resuscitate their stalled careers, a mother/daughter team who hope to forge a connection after the teenage daughter hides a unplanned pregnancy from her distracted mother (that is until she gives birth in her bedroom. oops), and a married couple who are both "reformed" homosexuals with a goal of spreading their message that homosexuality can be overcome and their "happy," traditional marriage is proof. Like any reality show there are unexpected twists and turns and the term "reality" is applied only loosely, thus ensuring plenty of drama.

As a self-professed reality television junky it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed Lost and Found quite a bit, although I probably would have liked it nonetheless since the characters were intriguing, it was funny when it needed to be, and the dramatic moments were genuine without becoming trite. So well done, Parkhurst. I approve.

Up Next: (because I need a laugh) The Areas of My Expertise, by John Hodgman

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Monday, March 12, 2007
act jail
Tomorrow I get to spend my day proctoring the ACT, and during that time I'm basically forbidden from enjoying the following activities:

*Saying anything unscripted
*Going to the bathroom
*Engaging in any type of technology more sophisticated than a pencil

And if I DO indulge in any of these activities I will be thrown in...

(dramatic pause)

...ACT JAIL!!!!

I'm not sure what exactly ACT jail entails, but I'm fairly certain it will place me knee-deep in number 2 pencils and bubble sheets, and I will be forced to take math tests for hours on end without the aid of a calculator.

Boy oh boy I sure do hope I don't go to ACT jail. But should I be done in by my weak bladder and/or my inability to make off-the-cuff "humorous," snide comments and I find myself in...

(dramatic pause)

...ACT JAIL!!!... you'd visit, right? Preferably bringing gifts of cakes baked with erasers hidden inside? Right?!?


Saturday, March 10, 2007
because it's been a good long while since i've discussed important pop-culture matters, this week i've been...
finally getting around to catching up on some Oscar noms/winners:

The Prestige -
Thoroughly enjoyed it, and not just because I've always secretly wanted to be a magician's assistant and Christian Bale is on my "if I ever meet him in real life and the situation is right, Nate's given me permission" list. It was well executed with a engaging storyline, tight performances and involved magic, which is always a plus in my book. I can't say much or risk revealing the secret behind how the Transported Man trick works, but I'm still trying to form my own opinion of it. So, if you've watched the film and are so inclined, feel free to e-mail me, text me, call me, or show up unexpectedly on my front porch and we'll chat it out.

Babel - Nope, didn't like it. Perhaps it was because I watched this alone, late (?) in the evening after everyone else was asleep, but this movie sorta made me want to kill myself and I had to force myself to finish it. I mean, I get it already. Regardless of our socio-economic status or the continent we live on, deep down we're all pathetic and lonely and dirty and naked and peeing in a bedpan in some random Moroccan man's house. Or something like that, anyway. Blah.

listening to some new music:

Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? - I love it on a lyrical level and as an overall album I like it enough I guess, but as for individual tracks, I'm enamored with "Gronlandic Edit," "The Past is a Grotesque Animal," and "She's a Rejecter."

Arcade Fire
- Neon Bible - Overhyped? Perhaps. Perfect? No. Good? Yes, yes, yes.

Menomena - Friend and Foe - 'Tis good, my friends and the entire thing is streaming for free over here. So, check it.

Peter Bjorn and John - Writer's Block - I don't think I love this as much as most critics do, but it's solid and makes me happy every time I listen to it.

Patty Griffin - Children Running Through - There's a reason why this album is the most critically acclaimed album of 2007 so far. Even though she'll probably never make another Living With Ghosts, which I was pretty much obsessed with for a solid year during my late teens, Patty Griffin's one of the best songwriters alive and will always be amazing.

Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity -
Huh? Am I missing something? Why, exactly are the critics raving about this? E-music, I want my ten downloads back, please and thanks.

and watching some television:

Rome - Dear God, last Sunday's episode was awesome and intense. Way to make an exit, Servilia!

The Amazing Race -
Bye bye, Kentucky - you were too nice for this game. And how happy am I that Oswald and Danny, my favorite AR team of all time, have aligned themselves with Rob and Amber, the team who I predicted five minutes into the first episode will take it all this time around. You'd think this would bother me, but not so much.

Lost -
I'm so happy that Sawyer is back on the island being his good-old wise cracking self and I appreciated that we've (sort of) learned something about the distinction between the members of the Dharma Initiative and the Others, but why can't Locke go back to being the wise, knife wielding rock star he was in season one? I miss that badass.

Oh, come on team Ravu. I hate it when one team dominates the other. I get it. You're hungry and tired and dehydrated and depressed, but suck it up and win something already.

Battlestar Galactica - Now, I realize that I've only watched five episodes of this show total, but I just don't buy that they're going to kill Starbuck off. Right? And would anyone care to explain the whole yellow, blue, red circle thing to me? Something tells me that's important.

And as for the future, I'm looking forward to:

the releases of Andrew Bird's Armchair Apocrypha and Modest Mouse's We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (March 20th can't get here soon enough if you ask me);

when my mailman delivers Stranger Than Fiction and Thank You for Smoking, both next in the queue, as well as finally getting around to watching The Departed, which I own yet still haven't watched for reasons I can't explain;

watching Mirna and Shmirna get eaten by sharks on The Amazing Race, Rocky continuing to whine like the great big cry-baby he is on Survivor, the overall quality of Lost being erratic but good enough, a new episode of The Office next week, and 30 Rock continuing to be the most quotable show on television.

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Friday, March 09, 2007
all out of answers

For the past two weeks I’ve been firmly entrenched in the great big scary beastie that is the 9th grade research paper, and I’m so very, very, very tired. Understandably, the act of assessing the validity of sources, compiling facts, and synthesizing them into a paper complete with proper citations is a fairly challenging undertaking for the average fifteen-year-old so I do my best to be patient and kind, but after two weeks that’s getting harder and harder to do. Every day I seem to develop a throbbing headache that, like clockwork, starts around 11am and then miraculously disappears at precisely 2:12pm. Maybe the whole ordeal wouldn’t be so painful if it weren’t for the questions – the constant barrage of questions. For three hours of my day I feel like I’m on a game show where I am forced to deflect a steady stream of questions in order to keep myself from falling off the ledge and into the water tank teeming with circling sharks. The questions aren’t exhausting because they’re thought-provoking:

“Mrs. W, how does this computer turn on?”
“Mrs. W, where’s the parenmathetical button on this keyboard?”
“Mrs. W, does my head look lumpy to you?”
“Mrs. W, who do you think would win in a fight – me or Arnold Schwarzenegger?
“Mrs. W, what’s a thesis?”
“Mrs. W, do you want to see my pecs dance?”
“Mrs. W, what month is two?”

…because most of them require rather simple answers:

“Try the big blue button.”
“You mean the parenthesis key?”
“Neither. Chuck Norris would beat you both.”
“Black History Month.”

…but they are incessant and pervasive and inescapable.

But don’t cry for me, Argentina; I’ll be alright. Sure, a weaker woman who was not raised on a healthy diet of Catholic guilt and her father’s “walk it off” life philosophy might spend more time hiding in the bathroom than I do, but it’s Friday and I have two beautiful, research paper-free days looming on the horizon. On those two days I’m looking forward to not once being addressed by my surname, not reading anything written by a fifteen-year-old, sitting down, responding only to declarative statements, and – if I play my cards right – spending a good, solid hour in a silent room staring blankly at a wall.

And it will be bliss.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007
irrefutable proof of my brilliance, even at 2 am
Me: (suddenly awake, and yelling) Nathan! Where are you?!

Nathan: (also suddenly awake, and yelling) I'm right here!

Me: Oh. Sorry. I thought you fell asleep looking for Chloe.

Nathan: (who's sleeping three inches away from me) Huh? No. I'm three inches away from you.

Me: Sorry...So, did we win the lottery?

Nathan: (laughing) No.

Me: (dejected, sighing) Crap. I was hoping I didn't have to go to work tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007
my students' vocabularies are alarmingly diminutive (that means small)
...and while this is something that I've always known, I didn't fully understand the full scope (which means extent) of the problem until I had to explain to one of my classes that "italics" is the word used to name what they have been referring to as "the slanty words." So, in an attempt to rectify (which means to correct) the issue, I've made a solid endeavor (which means attempt) to use and define bigger words when speaking to them in order to help them acclimate (which means adjust) to a world where someone may throw a word or two around containing more than two syllables. I've also incorporated weekly vocabulary words and periodic (meaning regular) quizzes over said words. Today was the first such quiz, and five of the words making the list were pompous (meaning full of yourself), efface (meaning to erase), sporadically (meaning randomly), candid (meaning honest), and benevolent (meaning kind). One of their arduous (meaning difficult) tasks was to use those three words correctly in a sentence. The results were:

correct, yet hilariously so:
"Only pompous people and George W. Bush would own an SUV."
"I effaced this sentence. Oh wait, no, I didn't."
"The pompous king wanted all the unicorns to himself."
"I tend to sneeze sporadically every fifth Tuesday."
"If you make me angry, I will efface your face!"

incorrect, but hilariously so:
"I think the baby's father is benevolent and has a tail."
"A celebrity candided along the red carpet."
"The efface of some people is very ugly and hard to change."
"Me and my mom made a very big pompous for dinner."
"You are benevolent like an acrobat on a balance beam."

ignorant of the definition, yet honest about it:
"I don't know what efface means (well, it's a sentence...)"
"I didn't study, so I have no idea what pompous means."
"Benevolent is a big word with five syllables."

and making me wonder whether or not I should alert a school psychologist:
"This is very benevolent, like my secret places."

And while I'm still not quite ready to throw in the towel and let them return to monosyllabic (one syllable) words and primatal (primate-like) grunts, I am still left feeling perplexed (confused), crestfallen (depressed) and, surprisingly enough, mildly hungry (um...hungry).


Sunday, March 04, 2007
apparently, (my weekend)
if my husband goes out of town without me for a long weekend, newspapers and mail won't get brought in, groceries will not be purchased, and my navigational skills - already appallingly poor - actually worsen.

indeed, there is a white people's section in the women's department of the Macy's at Fairlane Town Center Mall, although once discovered it proves to not be worth the search.

I am too old to tolerate small bars with DJ's playing booty music whose popularity peaked with I was an undergrad.

although I should be, I am not too old to tolerate slightly larger bars with DJ's playing booty music whose popularity peaked when I was an undergrad, so long as there is a dance floor and I am with a girlfriend who will humor me (and my booty) for a song or four.

I will never be too old to clap my hands and loudly sing along with fake Irish bands covering The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)."

graffiti would indicate that there are a great many people who have used the 2nd stall in the women's bathroom of The Old Shillelagh who have quite varying, yet passionate opinions about the band Edgewise.

rather than wait in yet another line, when a barroom hostess asks me, "Are you with them?" I will look her squarely in the eye and with the utmost confidence lie, replying, "Yes. Yes I am."

either I'm not as smart as I thought, or The Black Dahlia really was that confusing.

while nearly unwatchable in the aforementioned film, Scarlett Johansson was actually quite good in The Prestige (although I suspect that a strong script and Christopher Nolan's direction are what truly deserves the credit here).

if given the opportunity, my dog will happily eat cat poop.

I won't be kissing my dog's nose any time in the foreseeable future.

a 2-hour long documentary on the Black Plague really is that interesting.

those 50 essay tests I brought home with me ain't getting graded, 'least not this weekend.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007
overheard in the grocery store
(Conversation gathered while standing in line for the u-scan machines which are located next to a large rack of various gossip magazines, nearly all of which are sporting various pictures of various celebrities doing a wide variety of various, stupid things.)

"Mommy? Why did she shave her head?"

"Who, Britney Spears?"

"Yeah. Why'd she do it, mommy?"

"Because, honey, she's crazy."

(short pause) "Like Uncle Jimmy?"

(longer pause) "Um..sort of baby. But Uncle Jimmy can't help it. Remember how we talked about that?"

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