Wednesday, October 31, 2007
in the spirit of halloween…
Another story start:
Even now, from behind the bars of this loathed cell, Goodwyn failed to see what all the fuss was about. Everyone deserves to be loved, even if some of us are a bit harder to love than others. So, maybe his methods were a bit…unorthodox. After all, most of the girls were minors, some could probably call what he did “kidnapping,” and injecting his lovers’ brains with antifreeze in order to create his own private harem of zombie brides certainly isn’t a practice your average Joe would condone. But even still – from inside this dark, dank and dismal cell, sitting accused, judged and convicted - Goodwyn couldn't help but think that his hack lawyer had at least a moderately good case. To note: if you don’t actually kill them, how can you call it murder? And if an official member of either church or state doesn’t preside over the marriage ceremonies, how could it be polygamy? And finally, if they don’t eat brains or communicate in slow, low moans, can you really call them zombies? At the very least, Goodwyn felt he had adequate grounds for an appeal.

Some corny Halloween jokes:

Who did Frankenstein take to the prom?
(His ghoul friend)

What happened to the guy who didn’t pay his exorcist?
(He was repossessed.)

What’s the ratio of a pumpkin’s circumference to its diameter?
(Pumpkin Pi)

Why did the ghost go into the bar?
(To meet his Boo)

And finally, the movie that will be playing while I distribute candy to all the feral adorable neighborhood kiddies:

happy halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007
six sentences
I just recently stumbled upon Six Sentences, a blog that invites you to write about anything so long as it be six sentences long – no more, no less. Rather than clean or grade, I elected to spend the last hour of my life tooling around over there, and it’s full of some pretty interesting and highly readable material. In fact, I recommend it. Highly, even.

Inspired, here’s the first six sentences of a piece that I’ve been tooling around with all day. My students are just beginning narrative writing, and since I’m on this little kick where I try to model what I’m asking them to do, I’ve started writing my own narrative as well. I suppose the appropriate thing would be to submit my piece to the folks over at Six Sentences, but to be honest I've recently found myself a bit light on ideas for “pretty”, so I’m keeping this one here for now. Enjoy?

The Note

From as far back as I can remember poor spelling has always been my Achilles heel, and thanks to Catholic schools filled with nuns who’d rather hold spelling bees than prepare an actual lesson, I got the opportunity to flaunt my flaw with humiliating frequency. Though an avid reader, a strong writer and overall quite intelligent, I was always the worst speller in my class. Whenever we had class spelling bees (which my memory insists was constantly), I had to brace myself for the same inevitable, unavoidable conclusion: I’d be certain to miss the first - or, if I was lucky, the second - word and would have to spend the remainder of the afternoon burning with shame while listening to my classmates spell, spell on. In a class of only seventeen it became my unfortunate claim to fame, for it was common knowledge that Matt was the best at math, Jenny was the prettiest, Faith the nicest, Kendra the scariest, Stephen had the worst cold sores, and Maggie couldn’t spell. Although it didn’t occur to me at the time, I’m sure this is why Sr. Marie immediately had me pegged as the author of THE NOTE, a single-sentence found abandoned on the floor of my 8th grade classroom so vile, evil and reprehensible that my teacher dedicated four hours of class time to sniffing out the culprit, obtaining a confession, and then leading a class prayer service for the author. And since I was the only person in the class who would spell the word “whore” that way, three of those four hours were dedicated to me.

zombies in plain english
Because Halloween is right around the corner and it would just kill me if something were to happen to you, please prepare yourself by watching this easy-to-understand and highly educational video:

And remember, zombies don't eat candy. They eat brains.

Friday, October 26, 2007
I'm planning to cram all these little beasties in my hair for tomorrow night's "Gods a Monsters" themed Halloween party:

Case you can't tell, I'm going as Medusa. Planning on turning some dudes to stone and whatnot. And...yep! - that's about all I can manage today.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007
responses that this teacher (thankfully) kept to herself whilst parent conferencing
I hesitate saying anything at all because I really do understand the value of parents and teachers collaborating for the betterment of students, but every year I tend to leave conferences frustrated and annoyed. Rarely do the parents who need to come show up, and many of those who DO come usually do so to either 1) bask in the perfection that is their child, or 2) complain that the A- isn't an A.

This year I had a whole lot of "2"s, and when repetitively faced with the question, "What will it take for my kid to get an 'A'?" it was a tremendous internal struggle not to respond with one of the following:

"Have you considered the possibility that your child may not be a genius?"

"You do realize that most high school grades are grossly inflated by points that have little to do with his/her intelligence or ability, and so that B+ should really be something like a C? Furthermore, do you realize that "C" means average? Bet that inflated, meaningless, "above average" B+ don't look so bad now, eh?"

"Let's just say that bribing me with baked goods wouldn't exactly hurt your cause."

"I don't know. Earn more points?"
Hmpf. I don't know. Maybe I'll just give 'em all "A"s so I can call in sick come Spring conferences...


Tuesday, October 23, 2007
why i've been banned from kroger
A few days back, I made an unusual weekday afternoon grocery stop to quickly pick up a few essential items. Judging by my overall experience, it appears that 4 o'clock on a Thursday is "octogenarian hour," which is good to know because from here on out I'll make a point to plan around it. See, it's not that I'm an ageist, nor that I'm the quickest pony out of the gate, however, when a girl's tired and in a hurry and just wants to get in and out without the fuss, she simply doesn't want to deal with guys like Earl.

And for the record, “Earl” probably isn’t really his name; it's simply what I'm dubbing him. Well, maybe it is his name and I'm just an amazingly spot-on judger of names. It's possible. Weirder things have happened, I suppose.

Anyway, "Earl" - ancient, tortoise-slow, and unironically wearing a John Deere baseball cap and Wrangler jeans - haunted me throughout my quickie trip to the grocery store. Our entwined and interminable journey began in the bread aisle. My first impression was that he was cute, despite taking an eternity in front of the peanut butter. He seemed sweet in the kind, feeble sort of way that only eighty-something-year-old men wearing baseball hats can, and I had to resist an inappropriate urge to hug him while waiting for him to select his jar of smooth and creamy and moveonoveratoutofmywayalready.

Finally able to grab what I needed, I next whipped it on over to the shampoo aisle where there he was again - putzing around the Tresemme. At first I didn’t think it was the same guy – it couldn’t be. There’s simply no scientifically possible way that a man operating at such a molasses-slow pace could have made it there before me. But apparently the laws of physics don’t apply to Earl, because there he was – John Deere-ed up and taking his sweet, sweet time amongst the conditioners. Again, it was slightly annoying to have to wait for him, but I recognize that old men deserve well-conditioned hair too, and so I donned my best grin-and-bear-it attitude while waiting four minutes to grab my shampoo.

Next, I hightailed it three aisles over to the cleaning supplies and - grrrr - there....he....was. Again, I was positively bewildered by how he got there so fast, and steamed as I watched him poking and prodding and generally taking his sweet old time picking at the dishwasher tabs I wanted.

He was with me in aisle three, farting around the Rice-A-Roni.

I met him again in the frozen food section, dallying amongst the Lean Cuisines.

He was even in the organic section with me – slowly contemplating every single bottle of Vitamin Water.

Having a terrible headache and just wanting to get home already, his tediously slow and tyrannically perpetual presence was beyond frustrating.

I fumed.
I burned.
I locked my jaw and gritted my teeth.
I resisted the desire to scream, and stifled an urge to hurl myself to the floor and throw a straight-up temper tantrum.

But being a generally level-headed and reasonable human being, I ultimately sucked it up, pulled it together and recognized that there was only one prudent solution to my problem.

And so I killed him.

Sunday, October 21, 2007
every day is like sunday
Due to round two of parent/teacher conferences I'll be M.I.A. again tomorrow, so in my stead here's the best moment from a weekend that was full of great moments:

And for my money, "Nothing's changed, I still love you, oh I still love you - only slightly, only slightly less than I used to" is one of Morrissey's finest moments, lyrically speaking.

Labels: ,

Friday, October 19, 2007
suddenly, haiku!
Nathan surprised me this morning with Morrissey tickets for tonight, and to say I’m excited would be putting it lightly. The gift itself is just about the sweetest darned thing ever when you consider that Nate doesn’t even particularly like Morrissey, and even I - a fervent fan - can freely admit that the man is beyond annoying. So good on him!

As it so often does, my excitement has moved me to a particular mode of Japanese poetry. Actually, it moved me thrice. All lines are Morrissey song titles, and I think they capture his snide melancholy quite nicely, if I do say so myself…

hated for loving,
Satan rejected my soul
pretty girls make graves

hairdresser on fire
you’re the one for me, fatty
life is a pigsty

on the streets I ran
November spawned a monster
dear God, please help me

And now I’m even more excited than before I began. Should you need me ‘round 8 o’clock I’ll be drooling in my best black outfit while perfecting my falsetto, and I. Can't. Wait.

Yay! Yay! Yay!

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 18, 2007
thank goodness for tenure moment of the week
My throat is fried from having talked non-stop for nearly thirteen hours yesterday, my back sore from spending four hours perched on a backless cafeteria stool, and my brain mush from lack of sleep and general overworkedness. Over in classroomland, my freshmen have been working on varied sentence construction and things have been a bit dry, and so I - in my infinite wisdom - decide to scrap the planned lesson in favor of letting them go as nuts as my anxious, respectful, anal-retentive freshmen can get by having them re-write fairy tales, incorporating description and varied sentence construction. And nuts they go - obsessing over wording and the minutest details of an assignment that I dreamed up ten minutes before class because frankly, I was too tired to teach. Actually, they were really quite adorable.

Afterward, I start reading some of their creations aloud. 27 sweet, attentive little faces smile up at me – the authors giddy and shaking with embarrassed pride - as I start reading the first offering, titled “The Really, Really Ugly Duckling.” It’s to a silent, expectant room that I read:

“Once there was a really, really ugly duckling. It got it from its mama. In fact, Mama was ugly, papa was ugly and all seven babies were ugly too. But Fugly - with his jacked-up teeth, squinty eyes and lime green feathers - well he was just plain uuuuuuuugly. Which is why they called him Fugly…

[And rather than quote the entire story for you, I’ll stop to summarize. Basically, Fugly’s family is poor and can’t afford to buy him a paper bag to wear over his head. He’s crying over his predicament when his sexy, bikini-clad fairy godmother (who’s also a duck) suddenly drives up in a Hummer and grants him his wish. Now able to cover his fugly face, he’s finally content, and so fast forward to the final bit when…]

... tears of joy ran down from under Fugly’s new paper bag. Finally happy, he looks up at his fairy godmother and says, “Thank you godmotherduck. Thank you!”

And now, try saying the word “motherduck” out loud. If you can get through it without a terribly embarrassing mispronunciation, then good on you, buddy. You’re a better person than I.

My points - such as they are - are that 1) I should really lessen the pace when I speak, 2) to a 9th grader, getting your English teacher to accidentally say the word “motherf#$k” in front of the entire class is about the funniest thing ever, and 3) once again, I find myself comforted by the sweet, sweet institution that is “tenure.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Due to after-school conferences, today's gonna be one of those 13-hour marathon deals, meaning not much time for idle chatter. However, as a few of you may already know, my mom hasn't been feeling so well as of recent, and although today's going to be a rather long and busy one, she'll continue to be on my mind the whole time. To know my mother is to understand that she's the sort of woman who spends most of her time thinking, worrying, and praying for everyone except herself. So for today, rather than spend a few minutes reading my drivel, I was thinking those minutes might be better spent by returning the favor and thinking about her. Thanks, and I'll try to be back up and running tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007
some new music releases i've been liking, each reviewed in only one sentence
(Or, the one where I push the limits of a complex-compound sentence 'till it bleeds.)

In Rainbows, Radiohead
Admittedly, I'm a fiercely loyal Radiohead fan, having defended this band through even their most annoying Amnesiac moments, but the In Rainbows Radiohead, while still atmospheric, chooses to be so in a prettier, much more palatable way than the past two albums have been; and, as an added bonus, Johnny Greenwood has even started playing his guitar again!

The Flying Club Cup, Beirut
I'd be flattering myself to think that more than two people who read this will even care, however The Flying Club Cup - while slightly less "ethnic" than Gulag Orkestar - is a more consistent and so very lovely little album, but I should also admit that had he just released the pitch-perfect "Guyamas Sonora" on a hour-long loop I could not ask for more.

Cease to Begin, Band of Horses
Perhaps it's not Everything All the Time in that I didn't immediately fall head-over-heel in love, but I've been listening to this album pretty much on repeat for the last two weeks, which turns out to be exactly how long it takes for me to 1) pencil this in as one of my favorite albums released in 2007, 2) decide that "The General Specific" is my new "Weed Party", and 3), realize that I don't blanketly hate all "twangy" music after all.

Now looking forward to:
downloading the new Maritime, eventually getting around to the new The New Pornographers, and, perhaps, a nap.


Monday, October 15, 2007
headline of the day:
"Forecast: Sex and Marriage With Robots by 2050"

And I'm not sure what's funnier - the fact that a guy actually titled his doctoral thesis "Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners," or the moment during the interview when he said:
At first, sex with robots might be considered geeky, "but once you have a story like 'I had sex with a robot, and it was great!' appear someplace like Cosmo magazine, I'd expect many people to jump on the bandwagon."
Can you imagine the possibilities for Cosmo headlines of the future? "10 Sure-Fire Ways to Please Your Android (Starting Tonight!)," "I Was Living Large Before the Robots Stole All My Johns: How the Oldest Profession Met its Demise" and "Bored Housewives and the Robots Who Love Them" immediately come to mind. I can't wait.

Friday, October 12, 2007
the mysterious ticking noise
Suspecting they were up to no good, today I chastised a group of students who were huddled around a computer, struggling to contain their giggles. Sheepishly, they promised to close out the offending site, but insisted on staying after class to show me what they were watching. Please look. It's ridiculous. And funny. And involves hand puppets and Voldemort.

And if you enjoyed it, you might just appreciate the sped-up version too...

So yes, happy Friday. Here's to hoping the weekend in front of you is filled with much whatnot.


Thursday, October 11, 2007
i'm starting with a book, but best to brace for a veer of sorts
I can well imagine an atheist's last words: "White, white! L-L-Love! My God!" - and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying, "Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain," and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story.
I'm a bit stubborn when it comes to finishing things. Those who have had the *pleasure* of observing me with a sudoku puzzle might prefer the word obsessive. I say this because I very nearly had to force myself to finish reading the last few chapters of Life of Pi (the source of the above passage). It's not that I wasn't enjoying it so much as that I wanted to like it so much more than I was. But after nearly abandoning it twice, I finally decided to accept myself for the fervent task-completer I am and hunkered down to finish. And since the payoff came hard and fast at the end, boy am I sure glad that I did.

But my point here isn't really about the book as a whole. Instead, it has more to do with that above quoted passage. Recently, it seems as if there's a never ending pile of detritus I find myself having to sift through, and it's conspiring to make me feel nervous, tired, overwhelmed and a bit mopey. However, as I was fluctuating between all these emotions on my commute home, I remembered that tiny little chapter in Life of Pi.

See, I refuse to believe that this is the better story. But since I'm having a hard time finding that better story at the present, I suppose I'm just going to have to author it myself. And thus:

My principal hired me a full-time paper grader/copy maker/complimenter/masseuse.

I have just won the lottery.

The sun is shining, the trees have finally turned, and I will never again need the three umbrellas I seem to have lost.

My hoped-for trip to sunny Spain did not fall through.

Everyone I love feels safe, happy and healthy.

And I, whenever necessary, can become a tiger.
Oh, yes. That is the better one, and so that is what I choose to believe.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007
and the award for my favorite spelling error of the day...
goes to the word "barley," as in:

"The poor, poor African slaves barley had enough room to breathe during the Middle Passage."


"My grade is only barley passable."


"Perhaps more barely in my grandma's diet will resolve the fact that her digestive system barley works anymore."

P.S. "Defiantly" in place of "definitely" came in second place, however just barley.


youtube! metube! fight! fight! fight!
While getting ready this morning, I managed to catch this story about a high school teacher in Gilbert, Arizona who was placed on administrative leave after a student used his cell phone to record her performing a cheerleading routine in class.

Frankly, I'm not really sure what the big deal is. My students tell me they really look forward to Shadow Puppet Mondays and Tap Dancin' Tuesdays - that it helps them learn good and junk. Test scores are through the roof! Go team!!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007
10 before 30
For those unaware, my husband will be celebrating something super special in a few days - his thirtieth birthday. I suppose this is the sort of event that gives one pause, makes one reflect on what he or she has - or hasn't - accomplished, and then promptly causes one to fall into a panic-y tailspin.

But I happen to think that's dumb.

Everyone knows that fat is the new skinny, college is the new middle school, dumb is the new smart and thirty is the new twenty, so really - what's the big deal? Compiling a list of goals to accomplish before one turns thirty is fine and good and all, but vowing to save more, travel more and finally sit down to write that novel is so...cliche. So instead of practical goals, here's a short list of activities I would like to see Nathan accomplish during his last 50 or so hours of his twenties:

1. Get a awesomely ridiculous haircut. A rat-tail, a mohawk, or something like this, perhaps?
2. Start a bar fight.
3. Tattoo my name on his arm. Or, perhaps on his butt. His choice.
4. Shoot a gun. Preferably, a great big one.
5. Speaking of guns - catch a bullet either in his teeth or with his bare hand.
6. Get an eight-track tape of LA Woman and steal a car. Get in that car, play the tape full blast, and drive West. When the tape ends, get out, and go to the nearest bar, and start to play pool, or pinball, or possibly even foosball, and wait to get into a fight. Afterwards, get back into that car, and drive till it runs out of gas. Then, torch it. And as he's standing there, watching those flames, if he can still hear the Doors sound, he can then become a Doors fan.
7. Wrestle a bear.
8. Stab an elf king and purloin his cloak of invisibility.
9. Write an epic poem about the twilight of his youth in perfect iambic pentameter.
10. Streak.

That's the preliminary list, anyway. I may add more things as I think them up, but feel free to add your own, should you feel so cruel inclined...

UPDATE: Nathan tells me he's already done #4 (lucky dog), so in its place I'm suggesting that he burn all his money, get drunk on Walden and head out - on foot - for the Alaskan wilderness taking only a thirty pound bag of rice, his Swiss army knife and a head full of Thoreau quotes and London-esqe landscapes with him. In other words, pull a McCandless.

Of course, he only has two days before the big 3-0, so I'd be satisfied if he'd just shop shaving, grab a few packs of Ramen noodles and wander aimlessly around our backyard for an hour or two...

The good news is I have lots to say.

The bad news is I've been positively slammed with work, thus have no time to say much of anything at all.

But the great news? The great news is interest is high, the votes have been tallied, and it looks like me and a gaggle of teenagers will be heading to sunny Spain this July, where Madrid, Seville, the Costa del Sol, Granada, Valencia, and (hopefully) some smokin' hot matadors are all on the agenda. ¡Más excelente!

And I think you should come too. Yes, you. I truly do.

(I promise to write more interesting things tomorrow after my mountain of papers has been scaled, my vision restored, and a modicum of feeling has returned to my right hand.

Well, perhaps you won't find it interesting after all, however it will be longer. Oh yes. Girl Scout drop-out's honor.)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007
mrs. white goes to wal-mart
In case you haven't heard, I hate Wal-Mart. Passionately, even.

I won't bore you with my long list of whys, especially since they're well-documented and you've probably heard them all before anyway. Furthermore, I certainly understand that a large segment of the population shops there regularly, placing me solidly in the consumer minority. However, let it be known that due to my philosophical objections, the fact that my local Wal-Mart was the epitome of hopelessness and grime, and also because I have several other, nicer options and can afford those options, I simply do not shop at Wal-Mart.



Except today.

You see, I'm in the market for a moderately expensive gift for my husband's impending birthday and needed to do some comparison pricing. A new Wal-Mart (the very one that resulted in my city being labeled racist and thrust into the national spotlight) finally had its grand opening, and so I thought, "Heck. Why not? I'm certainly not racist, and perhaps the new store is better!"

After spending no more than fifteen minutes on store property, I:

  • exited my car and was immediately accosted by a rather dirty, rather skeeery man who demanded I give him my spare change so he can purchase gasoline,
  • traversed the parking lot where I passed a sobbing, forty-something-year-old toothless woman with a garbage bag flung over her shoulder and a long cigarette dangling limply from her gums,
  • was leered at, winked at, and wildly gesticulated at by a former convict, a future convict and an escaped convict, respectively,*
  • stopped to appraise a display of Apple Bottom jeans, and momentarily had myself convinced that I should buy a pair because to do so would make perfect, perfect sense,
  • and finally, nearly stepped in a puddle of what I can only presume to be liquefied human despair.

So, yes - this new store is actually quite a bit nicer than the one it replaced. It's cleaner, neater, and smells significantly better, too. In fact, I might just put my stubborn resolve aside and make my moderately expensive purchase there after all (all the while being mindful of wildly gesticulating men, Apple Bottom displays and pools of despair, of course). It all depends on what price I decide to put on my morals/hygiene, I suppose...

* Do I actually know that these men are past, present or future convicts? Course not. But that's who they are in my head, and what's in my head is all that really matters to me, silly!

Monday, October 01, 2007
an open letter to the politicians of the state of michigan
As a general rule I tend to beg off political discussions, leaving those to people who are better equipped to participate; however, I just can’t let this go without comment. I was neither comforted nor pleased to wake up this morning to the news that the partial state shutdown we’d been threatened with was over, lasting “only” 4 ½ hours. Instead, I was disgusted that such extreme measures were taken at all – regardless of the length of time. I suppose I could be appreciative of your concern over whether or not and by how much to raise my taxes, however this morning’s shutdown strikes me more as the result of stubborn partisan pouting than genuine concern for my well-being.

As far as I can see, genuine concern would have meant both political parties would have put their differences aside to resolve the budget debate sometime during the course of the seven months the proposed budget sat in law-makers’ hands. Genuine concern is not threatening citizens with an absence of state police protection, environmental regulations, and transportation services. Genuine concern is not creating extreme amounts of stress in your thousands of government employees who were originally told not to report to work today, and that they should prepare to go an undetermined length of time unemployed and without pay. Genuine concern is not putting me in a situation where I have to receive emails from my school district clarifying if and for how long I can continue to receive my paycheck. Genuine concern is not making every resident of the state of Michigan doubt the competency and sincerity of the lawmakers we voted into office.

Frankly, I don’t care that the government only closed down for 4 ½ hours. I care that it closed at all. I don’t care whether it was the fault of our Democratic governor, who could have signed an extension providing lawmakers with more time to revise the original proposed budget; or whether the blame should be placed on the backs of our Republican legislators, who didn’t like what they read so chose to sit on their hands until the eleventh hour. What I do care about is that what little trust I had in my state politicians to do their jobs has been shattered.

And if the current state economy didn’t mean that there’s not a chance in hell of me selling my house, you could bet your ass I’d take serious consideration to moving out of state.


Mrs. White