Sunday, October 31, 2004

Here are Superman, Ninja Turtle and their dad trick or treating down my street. Notice the sunshine and pretty fall foliage.  Posted by Hello

Halloween is almost over

These crazy New Yorkers trick or treat at the shops instead of houses! That seems weird to my suburban self. There were tons of Spiderboys and princesses wandering the streets and subways today. What a day for it too, it was gorgeous. Clear blue sky and warm air. Not a trace of an autumn chill, just completely pleasant and nice. The winner for best costume was one I saw near the Queens central library. This man was walking with a tiny little girl, maybe three, all decked out in a full nun's habit, rosary and all. It was adorable! It went too quickly to get a photo.

I spent all morning and then some working, and then went out for errands. Got a bunch of YA books at the library--hey, it's research! No, really. The author of the month is Katherine Paterson, so I got three or four of her books to review. I went to Target and then to the grocery store. I keep forgetting it's Halloween until I run into dressed-up children in the streets and stores. Good thing I accidentally put on my one orange shirt today, at least I looked in spirit.

Happy Halloween and Daylight Savings


When I got up this morning, at 7.30, I set right to work bubbling in grades and comments. It took awhile and was pretty tedious, but I believe that I'm all finished. I'm planning on checking over everything to make sure I did it right and stuff.

Now I'm working on next week's lessons. I'm going to jump into poetry for a day and do an activity for the bulletin board. It should be fun--I will use Shel Silverstein, who rocks, to introduce alliteration. Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Big Loser, by choice

So I think I've decided that I'm too blue to go out in public. I may try and force myself out to sit in the Barnes & Noble later on...but god, the one time I have a reason to be out on a Saturday night and I'm just too melancholy. Oh, the irony.

In other words, I am a big loser.

A particularly pretty tree on my street. The fall colors come in like highlights, top/outer branches first. Posted by Hello

One view of my messy room. Some things never change!  Posted by Hello

I live on the third floor of this house. The dormer window on the right side, next to the tree, that's me.  Posted by Hello

The yellow bulletin board on the right is for my room. My door is right next to it. That's part of the hallway. Now imagine it completely stuffed with kids, and that's what it's like between classes.  Posted by Hello

Here's the corner with my desk in it. Another (good) discipline chart, a few artifacts, and my inevitable clutter. On the windowsill you can see my display of "special" books--the ones that I brought from home that I especially love. Posted by Hello

Welcome to my room! This is the artifact-heavy wall of my classroom. You can see edges of maps, a discipline chart, and my homework banner, among other things.  Posted by Hello

Holy shit, two days

In two days, I have to turn in my grades for the first quarter of my first year teacher. Also, I will turn twenty-five. Scary on both counts.

This morning I was up at 8.30 and went into school for about an hour and a half. I checked reading notebooks and "organized" my library. I separated them into genres, super general ones though: fiction, science/reference, biography, autobiography, fairy/folk/tall tales. It looks better. Once I label them it will be nearly done. What I really need is some contraption to hold all of the books. They're still separated into two sections, one on each wall. Not enough space, or crates.

After that I tried to go shopping, but the weekend train construction made such delays that I just went home.

I watched "To Sir, With Love." It was very different in style and music from any kind of movie recently. Sidney Poitier was cool and everything, but I preferred the book. It was more emotional.

I finished grading the reports, and put what I believe is all the numbers into my grading software program. Wahoo! However, out of 89 students, 39 will get an F. Four more should get an F, but I didn't give them a potential failure notice last week, and we can't fail a student if we didn't fill that sheet out for them. So 43 out of 89 failed my class, just about 50%. Dang. Although actually, I kind of thought it would be more! Eight of them actually have a grade of 10% or less. Good lord. The lowest score we can give is 55, though, doesn't that seem like a gift? Anyway, ten kids will get a D, 18 will get a C, eleven B's, and one student scored an A-. That will have to be bumped down to an 89 though, because we're not allowed to give out level 4s. Holy cow, the politics!

Now I have the bubble sheets and comment sheets to attack. Ho hum. It's very possible that by the end of the year I will end up with carpal tunnel or something. Could be all the typing I do here, too.

There are two Halloween parties tonight. I don't particularly feel like going to either; I have no money or interest in a costume. I'm probably tired. Apparently I've gotten used to my little anti-social rut. But going to a party with a large number of strangers is hardly the place to reassert my social side; that's the time when I shut down. God, I suck.

Monday is my birthday. I've said before that it's going to be a seriously shitty birthday, and the closer it gets, the more shitty I know it will be. School all day, then professional development, straight to QC for boring classes and no dinner, home after 10pm. Blurgh.

I got a card from my grandma in Chicago today in the mail today. She enclosed a little note about her goings-on, and she also enclosed a note that my dad mailed to her in December 1979. The postmark is clear and everything. I was brand new then, and he was writing to her about me. This little gesture (she said that she'd been waiting for the right time to give it to me), as well as the note itself, teared me up but good.

I also got a nice assorted package from a friend at home. Stacey, thank you so much! I miss you guys. I could really use a low-key night hanging out with all of you.

I wish I had people around me for this Monday. Being alone on the East Coast is more lonely than I'd thought; I figured I'd be immune to homesickness or whatever. But I'm not. I quite miss my family people. Despite that, I'm not going home for the holidays (either one). Part of me wants to, but the rest of me remembers that I hate the holidays anyway. It becomes a battle for time; it's like I *owe* people time, and so my vacation is spent fulfilling that obligation, and there's no joy in it. I drive all over the place, just feeling tired and irritable and not "in the holiday spirit" at all. So I'd been wanting to be on my own for Thanksgiving/Christmas. Ten days on my own with nothing to do will certainly be a challenge. Perhaps I can see more of Manhattan, and go ice skating or something.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Materialistic Impulses

I bought that digital camera today on my way home. Squee!! I am so excited. Tomorrow I am going to take pictures of everything--my house, my street, my school, my classroom--and post them.

Wow, phew, it's Friday. The week hasn't been too bad. Like I said, possibly my standards have gotten lower, and/or my skin has gotten tougher.

Each Friday is supposed to be test prep. Which is pretty intrusive when you're trying to move along on specific lesson themes. Anyway, today I had the students do one page set, a passage and then three questions. The passage was about a frontier woman and her life, so I did some explaining of mining and ghost towns and women's life. A lot of the students had chosen the wrong answers. When I reviewed the questions, I read the question out loud first and, before talking about the answer choices, I asked them to look back at the passage to find the answer. After we talked about the information in the passage, I went through the answer choices asking, does this one make sense? How about this one? Once I did that, the kids could chorus

My writing connection was summarization. I modeled writing a four-sentence summary of the passage. One sentence for the beginning, two for the middle, one for the end. I totally made that up, I have no clue if there is a "real" way to write a summary. I figured these kids need to see a structure, even if they don't know how to use it yet. The classwork was then to write a summary of the last book they read. I'm not sure if that part worked, but I gave it a shot.

I stayed for an hour after school reviewing writing notebooks, giving quick grades for classwork.
After I got home and set up my new tech toy (ee!), I marked off homework and the four square quiz and put in all the new numbers into that super duper grading program. I've got about half of the reports graded, once I finish that, I'll nearly be done with grades.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Free lunch

We had a potluck in the teacher's lounge today. Mm, food!

Today really wasn't bad. It wasn't great or anything, but it wasn't bad either. How awful that my standards are so low.

I did a four square review and taught connector words. The sandwich idea from another teacher seemed to be clever enough to work. I told the kids, don't forget those olives! And toothpicks/commas! (Got a teeny bit of grammar in there, too, from another teacher's comment.) I had them do a Halloween four square and they were excited about that.

I made a bit of a gaffe today. The principal asked me how everything was going, we had a quick chat, and I said, jokingly, you know that I have no idea what I'm doing, right? He waited a beat, and said, we've all been there. God, I am dumb. Anyway, it got me thinking. I think I'm beginning to feel fairly comfortable in the classroom. Obviously my lessons need a lot of help, but I'm doing okay, I think, for a clueless first year teacher.

Yesterday and today I introduced Catherine, Called Birdy as a read-aloud. I'm only three pages in, but the students seem to like it, or at least don't hate it. Today I read it and stopped to define all the weird, old-fashioned words. Hurrah for expanding their vocabularies!

On the ride home, I was thinking about the digital camera that's on sale at Staples right now. I'd already decided to just buy it, and today I decided to go buy it right now. I got there and looked at a few other cameras too, but with the help of the guy, decided my original choice was best. However, they were all out of stock! I was really bummed. The guy told me to try back tomorrow after an order comes in.

Then, after I got home, I spent a good chunk of time with a fabulous grading program. A teacher mentioned it today after school; you just input the numbers and percentages and it calculates everything. Whee! What a blast. It changes the student's grade with each number you put it. It's fun. And it really is alarming how many of my students are failing. Oh well, most of them deserve it.

Now I have to get started grading those reports. Argh. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to fill out a rubric sheet for each one, or just give a score? I'm going to start with just a final score, because I can't print out eighty rubric sheets from my little printer.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Gargamel Takes All

We had this giant-sized deck of Smurf war cards, with Papa Smurf, Smurf, and Smurfette, and Gargamel was the trump card.
That's my shitty metaphor for the way that the universe has its way of getting you back.

Today was not as good as Monday or Tuesday. I suppose it wasn't horrible or awful, but just not very good. I had to give that test, and it took so freaking long to get them to be quiet, and hand out pencils for those unprepared, and read the directions, and snap at the willfull children who ignored directions and started turning the pages. The gall!

Reports came in today. I only did a tally in my last class; more than HALF of them didn't even turn one in. More than half!! Good lord. A bunch of kids in all classes came trotting up full of excuses why they didn't have it or why it wasn't typed. Bullshit. That so pisses me off. You knew the directions THREE WEEKS AGO. It's on you, not me. Again, willful ignorance of rules and guidelines. Do the freaking work.

To the ones who turn it in late, I think I will only give half credit. Three weeks!!!

My only solace is that I had no visitors today, except for one AP who was alone, and who had to tell me about food problems. I think I sounded assish, because I said that I do have the kids clean up at the end of the day. Apparently that's not enough, and she's heard, on the next floor, how my room has food in it. So I said I'll do better, and they know that they can't eat in the room. She was all, they have to do what you say. I said, yeah, I know that, but they don't do it. So she said, but they have to. I didn't say anything, but I was like, DUH! Can you make them? I sure can't. Anyway. This one kid totally lied to me three fucking times that he didn't have any food in his desk. I said, I can see it. Bring it up, now. He said again, I don't have anything. When I said again that I could see it, he moved it farther into the desk. Bloody cheek. That's the kid that doesn't do jack shit in my class.

My other solace is that tomorrow is Thursday, meaning the week will be nearing done. Sheesh.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Wish my students luck!

They should be finishing their reports tonight, as they are due tomorrow. Yikes! I can't wait to see how they did. I'll let you know.

Today actually wasn't bad. Class B was first thing this morning, and they were pretty good. Not perfect, but certainly better. Cross your fingers for me, please. Even Class A wasn't too bad. (All of the boys in that class were late, because they ALL got in trouble at lunch. Hurrah!) There are still issues there, but it wasn't as bad as it sometimes is.

Classes today weren't terribly structured. In the writing workshop, we did publishing. I reviewed the chart I made with the steps to publish, and then gave them each a piece of white paper to make their title page. I lent out some crayons and they got to color and stuff. They were excited.

The rest of the week is going to be busy. We have a quick test to do tomorrow, a test prep on Friday, and some lessons to squeeze in between. I think that tomorrow I'm going to do a quiz on the four-square, then review it and continue with connecting words. Another teacher told me about a great way to teach the paragraph; use a sandwich model. I shall use that.

As if that's not enough, the administrators will be coming in to classrooms for quick checkups on things like artifacts in the classroom (I think I'm okay for that), connection between reading and writing (sometimes but not nearly all the time), evidence of classroom management (sort of), and standards-based instruction etc (yikes). I am totally going to "fail." Trying to think of a way to combine two lessons with the test plus making sure that administrators wouldn't yell at me for doing something wrong. Plus my lessons are kind of vague and silly and don't accomplish anything. I really don't think my kids have learned anything. Man, I suck.

If you are a person who would like to donate to a GREAT cause, visit It's a fabulous site where teachers (like me!) can submit proposals for materials (like dictionaries) or experiences (field trips) that will benefit their students. I just submitted my first proposal this afternoon, for dictionaries and thesauri. Wish me luck.

I had this crazy dream last night. I was visiting some dining establishment and agreed to be hired on for short shifts, to begin that very day. Everything was red and black, and it was a small place with a line of bar seats, and a few tables. There was a pretend celebrity there, I think it was Harrison Ford? Then I was trying to get trained or a uniform or something, and the other employee was a big old bitch. I kicked myself for thinking I could have another job.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Woohoo! Failing!

We received the report cards today. They must be filled out and returned by next Monday. Call me twisted, but I'm relishing the thought of failing all the kids who deserve it. Bwah! Take that, irresponsible carefree students! Even the "bad" students don't want to fail. Even if they don't do any of the work or classwork. Go figure.

I decided that since next Monday means a new marking period, and they start over with a clean slate, I will no longer accept late homework! I've been far too nice with that this term. So next time, if they don't have it the day it's due, automatic zero. I will give extra credit options for them to earn back points, though. But enough with the late homework; they don't even care. So I'll take away that option.

Today's lessons didn't turn out very well. I had them do peer editing, which worked fine, except half of each class didn't bring their revised drafts to class. D'oh! There I go planning on the kids DOING THEIR HOMEWORK. Silly new teacher.

Actually, it wasn't a bad day. They were talkative, but I didn't have an engaging lesson. Class A got real quiet when I called the dean to report a problem student. Ooh-hoo. However, then they started talking again. Oh crap, that reminds me, I need to call that kid's house tonight. Shit.

During reading workshop, instead of a mini-lesson, I gave a surprise dictation test, to test spelling and homophone knowledge. A lot of them did pretty poorly. Bad spellers, kids. I shall definitely work on that. Grammar police unite!

We had QC class tonight, but only one of them. Hurrah! I was home by 8pm, which was awesome. It's so early still! I can actually eat dinner.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Ooh, Ooh, Guess What I Did?

I voted!! Well, sort of. I filled in the absentee ballot that my mom forwarded me. I just need to buy stamps so I can send it out.

Hurrah for the democratic process! Well, hurrah for doing my part and being a responsible citizen!

Use your voice and your vote. Aux armes, citoyennes!

Brrr, part 2

The heat finally came on last night. But this afternoon, our science class at QC had a 'field trip' to two parks and man, it was chilly out there.

Last night I stayed in, of course. This morning I was up pretty early and spent an hour in my classroom. I finished marking all the writing notebooks. Then I headed to the field trip stuff. It was okay, a little boring.

It's already the end of Saturday. I have QC homework to do (making a mini cereal box?!), a week of lessons to begin planning, things to buy and read...god, all in one day. Poo.

How many Saturday nights in alone does this make? I don't even want to think about.

In just over a week, I will hit the quarter-century mark. Scary, etc.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Friday Questions

1] Are you a spontaneous person, a planner, or somewhere in-between? Have you ever gone on a spur-of-the-moment road trip or vacation? When, and did you have fun?
I suppose I'm in between. I'm bad at planning very far ahead of time; I choose paths and then rely on instincts. I have taken spur of the moment road trips, but only for an afternoon. And usually I was thinking about it for a few days before. But I only thought about driving, and maybe a direction. Rarely got to the destination I originally thought. Always fun to do. Wish I had my car for that right now.

2] Are you a baseball fan, and do you plan to watch the World Series? Who do you think will win? Do you go to a lot of baseball games or mostly watch them on TV? What is your favorite baseball game food?
I like baseball, but actually, I mostly just like the Mariners. I don't care about the World Series if the Mariners aren't in it, and I don't have time for it anyway. I love going to games, it's a fun atmosphere and they play games on the big screen. At the stadium, I like nachos, or ice cream, and always want cotton candy.

3] If someone gave you $25 right now and said that you had to spend it within the hour, what would you buy and why?
Probably a fancy dessert at a restaurant. Or actually, a couple books. Yeah. Maybe one book and a dessert at a not-so-fancy restaurant.

4] Name three things that you're looking forward to in the near future and why.
Being able to travel sometime when I have time and money, getting to the point in my first year of teaching when things start coming together, and, um, finding friends to hang out with in NYC.

5] Do you know any foreign languages? Which ones? If you could become fluent in any language [writing and speaking it], which one would you pick and why?
I speak French. Never got fluent, but I am, or at least was, easily proficient. I actually spoke some French to Class A today, because they wouldn't shut up and I was irritated. So I jabbered a little bit, and then said, Fermez les bouches! They didn't listen though, those punks. I would like to be fluent in French, I suppose.

I really should learn Spanish. I probably have a basic grasp of it now, after my week of teaching. Basic, like, super duper basic.

I also want to learn Italian. Someday.


I don't understand how the heat works in this blasted house, but it's not on at least half the time. It's really freaking cold in here right now; I can hardly feel my hands.

I beheld a minor miracle today. My crazy Class B was actually completely silent for about two minutes, while copying revision strategies from the board. There were little noises or chatting the rest of the time pretty much, but I was so shocked at even a tiny bit of utter noiselessness. Perhaps I am making progress, one inch a week or something.

Big Class A is still really rowdy. There are too many disruptive boys. There is simply no way to deal with them. Two that sit on the opposite sides of the room, could not be farther apart, THROW THINGS AT EACH OTHER. Others are very sweet on their own, but near a classmate or in a whole-class environment, still talk and cause trouble. Thankfully, I'm not the only teacher who notices this problem with this class. But what are we to do?

Wish me luck in calling parents this weekend. I've been making lots of calls this week, no big changes as of yet. However, once I have tried to get in touch with parents, and there's still no improvement in behavior, the administrators will get involved. Hurrah!

Let's see. So it's Friday! Wow. It's been a long week, but I can't believe it's already over, if that makes sense. I have a lot of work to do to prepare for next week. Too many lessons to do in too short a time. Fridays are supposed to be dedicated to test prep, too. Yeah, right. I'm still getting the hang of regular lessons. Test prep just throws me for a loop.

The weekend will be busy indeed. I'll spend some time at school tomorrow morning, hopefully checking through reading/writing notebooks and also attempting to organize my library. In the afternoon, our science class is doing a field trip/extra credit thing.

I'd love to go into the city, go to a posh bar, and have some drinks with good friends. However, that will not happen. Possibly ever, for lack of cash to pay for said drinks at said posh bar, not to mention the plural of friends, even good ones. What a convoluted sentence. It just means I'm lonely and broke and pathetic.

Oh! Speaking of pathetic, I was really excited yesterday to get my copy code for the school copier. You pay ten dollars and get five thousand copies! I'd heard it was five hundred, which is quite piddly for a school where all teachers have at least ninety students. But geez, five thousand is awesome. And the machine is in the teacher's "lounge," so no need to worry about getting things into an office three days ahead of time. I'm still trying to plan for a week at a time, but I often don't cement my actual plan of attack until the morning of school. Which is really bad. You're not supposed to wing it. You're supposed to have lots of interactive activities. That's really my weakest point so far, besides classroom management of course. If they have something to do, almost all of them will do it. Especially when I walk around looking to see what they're doing.

Yesterday we did similes, and I was really impressed with what they came up. One girl wrote, When I'm tired, my mind is as blank as a white piece of paper. A boy wrote, A mother's kiss is as sweet as a beautiful rose. Someone else wrote, When I'm happy, I'm like a monkey with a lifetime supply of bananas. Awesome, no?

The homework was to write a paragraph using figurative language. A few forgot that part, but the rest did really nicely. I'm skinny like a rake, when I'm mad I'm as red as a chili pepper, I get angry like a lion, I'm quiet as a mouse, etc. I was pleased.

Next week, we'll do some peer editing and then the final drafts of the reports will be due on Wednesday. From there I'll move them into doing narrative accounts, autobiographical. But you know what hit me this week? I've got to get them to do something for the November bulletin board. It's coming up in two weeks, I think. Hm, could do something about the writing process, like revision for clarity. Or a four-square. Shit, I have no idea. But if I get it done or at least started next week, I should be okay. I hate that planning ahead thing! Yikes.

I guess that's enough for now. Have a nice Friday night.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

A nice big dinner

Hurrah! Ms F invited me out with a few faculty ladies. They were fun and entertaining and friendly too. It felt great to have a nice big meal.

Today I began the day with the same out of control class from yesterday. I tried to have a discussion about yesterday. I asked how they felt after class. Some said they were mad at losing the lesson, and several said they felt sorry for me. Hmm. Anyway, I let them come up with expectations for themselves, so that we can work together so the events of yesterday never happen again. Then we came up with some signals. We ended up doing it a few times because they STILL TALKED.

The rest of the day went okay. I met with three parents today, only one meeting was scheduled. They all went fine, the parents were understandably upset to learn their children are failing my class. But hopefully that will be the kick in the pants the kids need to begin shaping up.

I'm sick, all stuffed up and icky. Bleh.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

What an awful day

Just like last week, I completely lost control with Class B. It was horrible. I had them for a double period, and it started off horribly. About ten minutes into class, I was fed up. I had the students reflect on the class: what happened, why it happened, what you think will happen tomorrow. It was fascinating to read through them. Here, in their own words, is what happened:

"As soon as the class came in the class started to talk. Ms C told us to be quiet but the class just kept going on. And then Ms C couldn't take it so she told us to get out side. Then she told us to walk to the gym's stairway.
...[When the class came back into the classroom] the noise came back and everybody was talking. She flicked the light on and of. And when that didn't work she told us to...write about what happen today."

..."Some people in the class was igenoring Miss C completely. They were disrespecful to her. She didn't like it. She went [unintelligible], she got so made it was the Hulk!!!! People still didn't care. I thout that wasn't far that she had to sceam so loud."

"In [other classes], we acted more mauter in the other classes. We couldn't get finish with your Reading workshop, and our lesson wasn't finish because of the unmauture class."

"I think this class is bad because they dont listen to Ms C. My class had to walk the hallways and other classes was looking at us. I want this class to be good. I think tomorrow there going to be good."

The Hulk thing is quite an exaggeration. God, I only WISH I could turn huge and green and throw stuff. That certainly would shut them up. See, it's really true that with other teachers, or even when another teacher is in the room, they aren't like this. They know that someone will crack down and give them Saturday detention. But I'm the Hulk? Sure. Now, surely I'm not nicey-nice. I'm very firm and no-nonsense. Why should I give them more than one chance? I should not have to tell them three, or five, or TEN times in one freaking class period to listen.

It was awful. Then, after school, the YMCA teacher confronted me in front of the students, and was quite rude and full of attitude. She told me that it wasn't appropriate for me to be in my own classroom after three o'clock. Among other things. I'm proud to say that I remained calm and rational, but stayed firm. My hands were shaking and my heart was pounding, because I'm not used to that knid of confrontation, but I dealt with it very professionally.

So I didn't leave until I talked to the principal. I let him know briefly of the confrontation, and he asked me to walk with him to the YMCA room. He asked who was teaching in my room, and sounded appalled to learn it's a teacher. Like, a teacher at my own school. He reminded them of moving that group, and then assured me he was going to take care of it right then. Phew. But still, what an end to the day, right?

Fuck, I need to go plan for my day tomorrow. Never enough hours in the day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

My throat is killing me

It's tough to teach with a sore throat! Duh.

So it's Tuesday today. Monday was pretty crappy. I had no control, and I could not raise my voice to make myself heard. Of the three classes I taught, only one actually got a lesson. I was frustrated and tired. We had professional development after school, which was very helpful. We got mini lessons for teaching reading skills. However, when I was chatting with the literacy coach, I got/get the distinct impression that she thinks I'm an idiot and is all impatient with me. If I annoyed her, oh shit, you know? Cause I need her help! She's a former Fellow, so she should understand how desperately underqualified I am right now. She still talks to me and offers suggestions, but it's the tone of it, you know? Anyway, that sucks.

Today went better. A lot of the help was from Ms F, who came into Class B this morning--they're the ones that are now as bad as Class A. She helped keep the noise down, helped with discipline, etc. After class, she told me that she really liked my lesson. Hurrah! I did a good lesson!
I was actually pretty stoked about it--I made a mix CD of songs that illustrate strategies for writing engaging introductions. I used the Rainbow Connection for asking a question, El Condor Pasa (If I Could) for a bold/challenging statement, What it feels like for a girl for a quotation, Downtown for a snapshot, and Seasons of Love for a statistic. The kids seemed excited to have music, but were too easily excited, making noise and stuff, so they couldn't hear the lyrics.

Anyway, I'm at the library because, remember, our internet at home is down. And that SUCKS, a lot. DSL will be installed soon.

Okay, I have to go home, grade papers (the first drafts of the report!), and plan in earnest for the rest of the week. Oh shit, and make copies. And maybe eat a semi-healthy dinner. Haven't done that for ages.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Stupid wireless networks

So the dumb landlord is being uncooperative in letting us get our own cable internet, and his is broken. No internet at home for a week. Crapola! At least I've got lots of Alias to tide me over, and a week of lesson planning to do. Having a plan for this week made my life much easier. Cheers to that, and to Ms J the lit coach for assisting me with that. Here's to hoping that I can organize next week even better.

Yesterday was Friday, which was excellent. My day wasn't an awesome day like Thursday, I had to revert back to some strictness, but it wasn't as bad as Tuesday and Wednesday. That should be motivating.

This morning I slept until about 8.45, and it was lovely. More weird dreams. The night before last, I woke up with a real-life ex, who reminded me with a cake that it was my birthday. Then there were issues with a parking lot and coins, and I could not remember where I lived. I think I was in Seattle or thereabouts, and finally decided I must live in New Hampshire. But I was so confused. Last night, I guess I already forgot. But it was weird.

I made it in to school, and arrived to an empty classroom. Hurrah! I dont know if they finally moved the YMCA people, or if YMCA isn't actually there on Saturdays. In any case, I got some work done. I checked reading and writing notebooks, and looked in despair at my disaster of a library.

I left after an hour because I had signed up for a lesson-planning seminar, but didn't know when it was. And having NO INTERNET at home, I couldn't check. So I got my ass up to St John's University AGAIN, and found nothing. However, I did get into the library, where I am now, and discovered that the thing is at 4.00. Hm. That's three hours from now, so I think I shall try to get to the main branch of the public library, check out some books or movies, and then come back. I did pay some bills, though. Good for me.

My throat feels scratchy, and I've been sneezing more often the past few days. It also seems like my left ear is blocked a little. Grr.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

At long last, a reprieve

A miracle has occurred, my friends!

The positive behavior index-card chart that I talked about yesterday, I began it today. And it WORKED. Class B, who were so out of control yesterday, were like a dream today. Oh my god! It was fantastic. I had big nasty Class A one period, and they were much better. Still chatty, but BETTER. A miracle, I tell you.

I felt so much better about myself today. The past few days, I heard myself talking to the classes, and I was the teacher I never wanted to be. Today I didn't have to do that. I tried to focus on encouraging them to be on task, and I witnessed kids on task that normally are not. And of course, I rewarded them with praise and a tally on their card.

Ironically, or maybe not, irony confuses me, the Queens College mentor observed me for second and third periods. I'm very eager to hear his feedback. Also, I'm a little glad that today worked so well. (Oh god! I just realized, maybe they were better behaved because a strange old white man was in the room!) If he'd been there yesterday, he would understand my situation, but I would also be ashamed a little bit, to have someone else witness my lack of control as a teacher.

Here's something else. Over the weekend, I bought a cheap little boombox for my classroom. Today I had music playing during reading time (when, praise the deity, they were actually QUIET, and READING!), and they liked it! Didn't want to have it turned off!

My last class, the small Class C, was actually more rowdy than the other classes today. Weird. But not out of control or anything. The one time it got a little talky, I went over to the index cards and said, So and So is on task, Someone else is too, and put up tally marks. That quieted them. Wow!

And it's funny, but those ones can make me unwillingly smile. I think they can read me a little better or something. More likely, I'm tired of playacting a meanie by the end of the day, and they are pretty easygoing kids. It's fun to loosen up with them, one on one. Sometimes I feel like a kid, too.

PLEASE, if you like me at all, or even just if you KNOW me, please think good thoughts about continuing this new behavior. Me AND the kids.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Ups and Downs, Continued

Happy birthday, Mom!

Today continued this week's trend of being difficult (boy, what a terribly-constructed sentence. Oh well). My Class B is nearly at the level of Class A in terms of me lacking control. It really frustrates me.

The literacy coach offered some ideas, stressing that behavior management is all about innovation. That made me groan inwardly, because in things like this, I'm really uninnovative and uncreative. However, clearly I need to make a change. The notes home didn't work, names on the board didn't work, the hollering to make myself heard doesn't work, the (negative) chart doesn't really work.

Must begin some positive reinforcement. Someone does a system with index cards and stamps/stickers, and use that for participation points. I like that idea, except I'm pretty sure my kids would lose them. And if they went in the bags with notebooks, they wouldn't have it all the time. So what I'm thinking is to post them all up on a wall chart thing, each class on a different one, and put marks or stickers on that. Publicity may not be good for all of them, but maybe that will be another incentive to do better. Let's see. I'll give them a tally mark for each time I catch them on task or participating, etc. Each five tallies will get a sticker. At five stickers, a reward. Or does that sound too long-term? Hm. See, so much to think about, that I don't actually do anything. But right now I'm writing out index cards. Wish me luck.

Thus, with all the behavior problems in class, I finally made some calls this afternoon and spoke to parents. I've been nervous and worried and intimidated, and have put that off. But, phew, they have gone well. All the parents/relatives are very nice and cooperative and want to know if their kid isn't doing homework or acting up in class. Thank goodness! It's also nice to know some background on the kids--home situations or family life or whatever. Puts things into perspective better.

A pretty significant number have done no work at all, and are not on task in class. Make up homework doesn't really make sense because the homework has built on itself, but I think offering extra credit assignments would be fine. I found a book report form, and that could be worth two homework points or something. And the other kids could do them too, for more extra credit.

In other news, the YMCA people really DO want to kick me out. The teacher found me yesterday after school; they went to a different classroom for some reason. I stayed for awhile, but still got hardly anything done. God, there is SO much I need to do in there, it's ridiculous.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Inner Bitch, Come out, Come out, Wherever You Are!

I felt refreshed and ready to go this morning. Ha! I had no control today. It was not good. My plan for practicing etc was a little overeager. There was still some organizing to do. Tomorrow I shall practice with them, of course.

The report stuff seemed to confound them. They were all, "What? What is this? How do you do this? This is hard!" I was like, oh, whatever. No, not really. Actually, I told them that I am going to walk them through it, step by step, and even do a sample one too. (I chose Spain after my teaching adventures last month.) And that if they follow along and FOLLOW the DIRECTIONS, they will do well. We'll see how it goes. Ms F came in to help out with one class, and saw that apparently my vocabulary, like "draft" and "source/resource," was baffling them. Wow! I'll have to try to remember to explain things better and make sure they get it.

Um, what else? Oh, I met with the literacy coach, and she helped me organize my lessons for the next two weeks. Cool! And she noticed the Time for Kids notebooks that I'd found in the teacher locker. We opened them up and found all kinds of lessons, transparencies, and articles with activities. Hurrah! Going through all of it will take a big chunk of time that I don't have now, but thanks to whoever left them in the room! I'm sure they will come in very handy. Man, if I had an overhead projector, that would make so many things easier. Less sloppy writing on the blackboard, for one.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Hoping for another new start

After a downer of an evening yesterday, today I have put together a plan for the week.

I will begin each class tomorrow by pointing out and explaining the daily rituals (I will have to scramble to make the poster before school begins). We will practice the steps, signals and errands within those rituals.

Then I shall pass out information about the report. It will be due on Monday, October 25. The report will be at least two pages in length, double spaced, plus a title page and pictures. It must have elements of the 5Ws, and some compare/contrast. (God, two pages sounds so small--I could do that in my sleep! Must remember the level they are on. My mom made an excellent point--make the assignment so that they can all SUCCEED. If I get them to write a good two page paper, that should begin building a solid writing foundation that will eventually lead to longer, more complicated papers.) My timeline gives them two weeks and two weekends to do everything. In class, we'll work on vivid language and peer editing and revision.

I have lesson plans actually typed out for Tuesday and Wednesday, complete with Objectives and Standards. Woo! I feel much better having a plan like this. Plus, hopefully it will make my week easier, and minimize the work to do after school.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

A not-so-wee Poem

What are my insecurities?
what aren't my insecurities?
is a better question
I'm not smart enough
not nice enough
not creative enough
not thin enough
I'm too selfish
too weird
too common
too shallow
too introspective
not involved enough
not interesting enough
too sheltered
too white
too frugal
not focused enough
not ambitious enough
too loquacious
just off the top of my head.
does that suffice?
so what the f*** do I do now?

Sleep, Part 2

I slept ten hours, then took a shower and watched Alias. By 5, I could not keep my eyes open, so I went back to bed. It felt like many hours, but it was only about one and a half. Holy crap.

It's 8.30, I feel a little more awake now. Awake enough to realize what a loser I am; yet ANOTHER Saturday night at home. Sigh.

I thought about trying to go to Target, or at least up the street to Duane Reade for snacks. But then I'd have to get dressed, and ugh, am I really up for that? Maybe later. Tomorrow I suppose I really should leave the house.

Beautiful Sleep

I could easily have crashed at 6pm last night, but I stayed up until 2am. I was actually dizzy by then. I slept hard til 12 and had to force myself to wake up. I think I must be anemic, because holy crap, I get so freaking tired.

I watched the debate last night. I didn't see the first one, but Bush seemed pretty well prepared for this one. When he tries to be all charming and clever, he comes across as smarmy and icky, to me anyway. Kerry gave a great response to the question about abortion/choice. Hurrah! I couldn't tell you who "won," but I still know who I'll vote for. (Dear postal service in Washington, please mail absentee ballots VERY SOON.)

I haven't begun to really think and plan for next week yet. I'm scared, because it's going to take a lot of effort. At the moment I have no brainpower. Since there are two more full days to rest and plan (HALLELUJAH!), perhaps I will take today as a personal day, and watch me some Alias. The discs have been taunting me, sitting on top of my computer, all week.

Shit, I'm tired. Maybe a nap, too.

Friday, October 08, 2004


The second week has come to an end. Whew, I am tired.

My exciting plan for today was kind of moot. Two classes didn't even get that far, and the one class that did totally didn't get it. I think I overestimate their skills. A lot of them are really literal. They're really used to copying things off the board and don't use critical thinking skills. So when I direct them to use author, genre, etc to write about a book, they make a list saying, Author: So and So. Genre: fiction. or whatever. GAH!

Overall, today was so-so. I got angry one time, but it was my fault (obviously) because I'm not being consistent with structure, and the kids have too much time to just sit. I gotta work on that. But I'm hoping that after the chaos today, things start to get smoother. They all have reading books, and most of them have writing notebooks. They still need to get reading notebooks. Dammit, if I'd been here since the first of the year this wouldn't be a problem. It's irritating.

I think I've said this before, but these kids DO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO DIRECTIONS. It drives me nuts. I should be more firm, and only say the directions twice, and make them ask for help from peers. I hate repeating myself, and plus I hate being ignored.

I met another first-year Fellow who seems much more settled and at ease than I feel. It's reassuring, plus she can give me tips and know where I'm coming from. Also, I talked more to the literacy coach, and she gave me some more information and offered to help me map out some lesson plans. Whew. I told her about the YMCA thing the other day, and she reacted the same way I did. Thank god. AND she offered to talk to the principal. All three of us walked out of the building, and Mr Principal was there. She asked him about it, and he was just like, we'll find them a new room. Wow! I was thrilled and relieved to have an advocate like that, and to feel like people were on my side and understood that HELLO, I need to have access to my own damn classroom!

Next week, even though it's a short one (Woohoo!), I will probably have to begin anew, AGAIN. I must decide on a structure and routine and actually stick to it. I'm going to start from scratch on the report thing. Bring on the mini-lesson.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Almost Friday!

Hallelujah, this week has gone so quickly. I can NOT wait to sleep in on Saturday! I am exhausted.

Today went okay. I had to do a coverage, of another sixth grade class. I brought my activity book and did a following directions game. They really sucked at it. But I was glad that they were willing to do it. There's the power trip; the kids would do anything if a teacher told them to. They will write it down, do it for homework, probably even jump up and down. It's kinda crazy.

More success with the Read Aloud today. Still working on management/behavior. I sent three more notes home today, just in one class. Big D made a better effort today, he raised his hand to participate in our discussion of news reporters. A good step. I must chat with him individually to encourage him.

After school (I only stayed til about 2.40), I went to our last FA meeting, at a diner in Woodhaven. We all sat around and vented, sharing our stories. I enjoyed seeing people that aren't in my class this semester, and I was so relieved to hear that no one else has a clue what they're doing. Thank god.

I've got tomorrow pretty well figured out. Today I introduced the 5W's and H, with a short article on a museum opening. I decided that tomorrow, we'll practice using the 5Ws to report. So they can connect to their reading books, choose a character and event from the book, make up a when/why/how etc, and write an article/short report on it. Cool, eh? That is a great tie-in, so that the reader's workshop flows into the writer's workshop. Hurrah. Over the weekend I'll be figuring out some better details and plans for the next week.

I'm feeling good right now because I can go to sleep soon, and it's almost the weekend, and it will be a long weekend. YAY!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Two small victories

I'm hoping they will be at least a little significant. At the very least, they were entertaining.
Both were in my middle class. You know, I have the big, bad class (say, Class A), and the small, pretty good class (Class C). Then the other one (Class B) is still pretty rowdy, but a little smaller and not as tough as the first one.

This class features a few talkers, lots of distracted/distracting kids. One in particular is really bad. He literally can't sit still, can't keep his hands off other people's things, desks, and bodies. He bugs me and everyone around him. I have him in the most front-and-center desk and table, but that doesn't really prevent anything; I just can see him do everything. He totally doesn't do anything, and is really a huge distraction. What can I call him? Hm, I'll go with Big Distraction.

So. We were doing something, I was doing my bitch routine and instructing. (The bitch becomes a teacher when instructing, don't worry; I don't want to alienate the kids so much they don't participate.) And Big D throws out, "This class sucks."

So I replied, "What if I said that YOU suck?" And the class crowed at that, some actually applauded.

When I got back to the front of the room, I heard some kid say, "Now he said that you suck."

Having cut my teaching teeth in the urban ghetto of Baltimore, I knew exactly what to say. I retorted, "If I were one of you, I would be talking about his MAMA."

The room ERUPTED. Hoots, cheers, shouts for a solid two minutes. I tried, pretty unsuccessfully, to hide my grin. Big D was all nodding, saying, "I can't beat that, you got me." And the other kids were all, "Ooh, you got PLAYED!"

It was pretty awesome.

A bit earlier, I had begun to implement the Reader's Workshop. Since I'm such a newbie and feel clueless, I'm starting my skill lessons on the Seven Habits of Efficient Readers. First and easiest, activating schema. (If you've ever taken a psych class, you know that that means your network of prior knowledge networks.)

So I talked about the Three Little Pigs and then a Chinese version of Little Red Riding Hood. I did my Read Aloud with the latter, called Lon Po Po. (By the way, that was actually a no-no; I had never cracked the book, it was all impulse. Thank god it worked. I will plan next time.) Some of the kids had heard of it, and it was actually pretty interesting. Quite different from our version, so it was perfect.

There's never enough time for anything, and I happened to get to a page with a suspenseful end bit. Something like, "The wolf didn't answer." And I Thought Aloud, "Oh, I wonder what he's thinking? We'll have to find out tomorrow." And the whole class chorused, "Noooo!"

They can be reached! I really hope that today was a benchmark in the Forming-Norming-Storming-Performing thing. After Monday's low point, and getting my class structure going, I feel so much better about everything.

So now I have to actually start teaching. Eek! The students are expected to produce a report of information by the end of ten weeks (this is week four!). Oh, AND a narrative account (fictional or autobiographical). Perhaps once I get them started with the report stuff (which will take a couple weeks, I imagine. Most of these kids don't know how to write a paragraph.), I can do the autobio/fiction in class. God, this is going to be tough.

Ms F, my teacher center savior, helped me today after school, coming up with lesson ideas for the rest of the week. Phew.

Then came the bad part of the day. The YMCA comes to our school to do an on-site after school program. One group of them is in my room starting at 3.00. Since time is so crunched during the day, and I only get about twenty minutes before school, I've been trying to stay after school and work on organizing things, or decorating, or making charts or whatever. And now they're having a cow.

The after school teacher (who never erases the blackboard! Hello, common courtesy?! Grr) muttered something like, "We've gotta get a new room" when I came in today, after meeting with Ms F. Of course I ignored it, but I was a little irritated. So she went and chatted with the YMCA guy, who "tattled" to the YMCA people downstairs. I'm sorry, I know that's childish and inflammatory, but really, that's what it felt like. Because then this lady came in to the room and tapped me on the shoulder, and asked if she could have a word with me outside. Of course, I agreed to, pleasantly.

When we got to the hallway, this lady said that they have been assigned this room for the program and that I'm disturbing the class, and something something. I said, "well, this is my classroom." I wasn't sure if she thought I was some kind of wanderer. But I guess she knew that. I told her, look, I'm a brand new teacher, I'm still putting my room together. There's no time during the day, and I get here before 7.30 every day. She still was all, "But Mr Principal." I said, "I understand you have to use the room. But I do, too. I would love to sit and talk with everyone and maybe work out a compromise." The lady said, like I was an errant fucking child, "well, I'll talk to Mrs So and So, and she'll have to tell Mr Principal about it." Like they were going to tattle on me for doing something wrong and inappropriate. That really irritated me, but I just said, "Okay, sure."

So I walked out of the building at 4.00, nearly two hours after school was over, worn out and all riled up and defensive. I certainly don't want to insist on someone not getting the room or anything, I know that they need it to help the kids. That's cool. But for fuck's sake, IT'S MY CLASSROOM! Are they going to kick me out of my own room once it hits 3pm? How will I decorate my room? Work on my library? Do ANYTHING AT ALL? And then I realized they'll probably be there on Saturdays, too. I'd hoped to go in for a couple hours on Saturdays, just chill out, and work on my room and lesson stuff. All of my supplies are there, for chart making, all the books that I should be using for lessons, everything. I carry lesson books home, but that's about it. There's no way I'm going to cart paper, markers, decorations around on buses and trains. That's just ridiculous.

I'm still all irritated. I've barely even met the principal, so now the YMCA people are going to make me look like an intrusive pushy stupid new teacher. Who will advocate for me? There's no way I'm going to back down about this. I certainly don't expect to stay so late every day, and maybe eventually, I won't need to really stay after at all. But I can't plan ahead to what I might need to do, or how long it will take. Oh, or WHERE it might take place. The lady tried to suggest limiting my activities to the back of the room.
I think it's just stupid to think of limiting my extra time in my own fucking classroom. If a meeting should take place, which I would totally welcome, I would of course be polite and courteous and professional. I can discuss this calmly, we can figure some way to mutually understand each other, so everyone's needs get met.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Calm after the storm

Probably more like an eye rather than the calm, but still. Today was so much better. The first thing I did on getting to my room was put up the posters I made last night. A huge relief.

The turning of the calendar page seems to have prompted Mother Nature to turn too. This afternoon was a clear azure sky, with a distinct chill in the air, especially in the shadows. Appropriate, because...

I was a hardass today. I spent time going over the rules and consequences that I told you about yesterday. And a noise-level chart too. I was very stern. It seemed to have some effect. What really did help was putting names on the board. Even the problematic ones were all, Noooo! when I followed through on their misbehavior. Thank goodness I didn't have any repeat offenders, because I don't yet have a note to send home. I'm going to make one tonight.

There are some nice things that I can relate about yesterday. One was announcing jobs for my last (good) class. Each time I said who got what job, they were like, Yesss! All excited. It was so cute. Also, when I got home, I had my first email from a student, asking about the homework, that it wasn't on the website. It was neat.
And of course, Ms F and Ms J talked to me and reassured me that things will get better and that I'll be okay. Thank you so much to them.

So, today was better. I was sterner, but I could have been even bitchier. I'll have to work on that. (No, I'm totally serious; everyone agrees that to make it in your first year, you MUST embrace your inner bitch.) It can be kind of fun, playacting the villian. BWAH HA HA!!

I had even more great help today, from both literacy coaches and Ms F again. Two of them helped me with my bulletin board, and one went over in more detail how to use notebooks and workshops, AND gave me a great setup of the scant "furniture" I have to create a decent-looking library.

After school, I stayed for about an hour. I put together the bulletin board, except the rubric, which I'll do tonight...or tomorrow at lunch. I organized my desk a little more. I put up erasable memo-paper on which to write my homework, objective and standard each day. Again, it is a huge relief to finally get these small but gigantically-important things up and done. It only took me a week! Sheesh. But still, hurrah that it's done. Well, not done, but well on its way.

Monday, October 04, 2004

My breaking point

Today was my breakdown. I cried three times. That one class, I have zero control over. It frustrates me so much. I know that it's a tough class (other teachers have problems with them too, so thank god it's not just me), but I also know that I bear the responsibility of not getting control.

So tomorrow I plan to begin executing my rules and consequences. Still figuring out what exactly those should be. My rules WERE "Respect" and "Be Prepared," but those are so vague that they need accompanying explanations. So those will still be the expectations, but I am going to make a clear list of rules that can actually be followed or broken. I think they will be: Listen when teacher or others are talking, Stay in your seat unless permitted/directed otherwise, Raise your hand to speak, and Bring homework and all materials to class each day. Then my consequences will be something like: name on board, check by name=note home, teacher-student conference and phone call home, parent-teacher-student conference, then a conference with the dean or something.

Good god, wish me luck. It's not that I can't do this, I just don't know how yet. I really must work on being a mean hard-ass. I wish I had a louder voice.

Okay, I have to go write charts and then sleep. Ha.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Oh god, here comes the breakdown

So I feel like I can't do this. I have no resources! I'm supposed to have a school-based mentor, AND a city mentor. The whole reason I did the Fellows program was for the support and comeraderie. There is no support, anywhere.

I'm not supposed to have more than thirty students in my room (one class is 31, the bad one is 35!). I don't know how to do the things they want taught. I can't get my students to shut the hell up so that I can talk, let alone teach. There is no room to move them when they are repeatedly disruptive.

Surely I feel overwhelmed, but it's deeper than that. It's like drowning, but worse. Like, drowning while in a swimming race. You're still expected to get to the finish line, even though you aren't in the right-size pool, you're wearing clothes instead of a swimsuit, you don't have goggles, you've never had a coach tell you how to do the stroke you're competing in, and the other racers are using your lane but still ignoring you. No one is helping you with anything, but you will be PUNISHED if you don't get to the finish line. If you can even find it. Don't forget that even while you're flailing, you're getting more and more broke.

Broke financially, and I think today I've finally broken mentally. I don't even know if I can function tomorrow, a Sunday. Monday is just going to be scary--thirteen hours straight through or something insane like that. God, how can I do this?! Right now I can't even tell you how desperately hopeless I feel.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Do you know who you are?

Would you pick yourself out of a crowd? What sort of person are you? Do you ever wonder that secretly you're not actually okay?

Me, I honestly don't know much about myself. Sometimes I think I'm pretty decent or whatever, but then I catch myself being really catty and petty. Like, my classroom isn't really all mine; another teacher comes in to teach social studies during my preps. At three, a YMCA school group is in my room. I want to stomp my feet and holler, it's MINE! Go away, this is MY ROOM!

I'm not at a full-fledged breakdown, but I'm definitely past the tip of the iceberg. Today I finally met some resource people--a teacher center person (who says she will help me with my bulletin board!) and the literacy coach. They got into all the details of what I need to have in my classroom and what I need to do. See, I still don't know what all of it is, or how the hell to do it. It's all very new-age and stuff, so it's not like I could rely on my own memories of school (if I had any useful ones). So, while I was thrilled and relieved to discover some people who can help me, it also made me despair at all that I lack.

This week, I had nothing. Nada. Nothing to teach, nothing to teach WITH, no materials, not nearly enough space, NOTHING. They threw me in a room filled with rowdy eleven-year-olds. Sure, I got some handouts on the workshop model. But you have to teach students how to be in the workshop periods, and I have nothing to teach them! I am completely clueless. I'd thought that the week went fairly well, for what I had to deal with, and honestly, I still do, I guess. But I can't even tell you how much I should be doing next week. Most of it is stuff that is still unclear to me, or just plain vague. "Teach a minilesson on picking a book." WTF? You just pick a book. Ha, yeah right. There's a fucking "strategy" for EVERYTHING now. Stupid Vygotskyian hippies at the department of ed.

So yeah, there's your answer for what kind of person I am. I can fake it, but I can only take so much pressure, then I completely collapse.

To make things more "exciting" (remember how quotations=sarcasm?), the pay is absolutely ridiculous. I'm supposedly making this great salary; I WILL NET TWO GRAND A MONTH. That is fucking bullshit. I DARE you to advocate for a goddamn billion-dollar football stadium. Football stadium in the middle of midtown Manhattan? Are you nuts? Of course, all the people with money (namely the Mayor and the Jets-DUH) are gung-ho; they only stand to get more money. How about you take that billion dollars and use it to teach your kids? Oh, right, YOUR kids go to private academies! Because REGULAR TEACHERS GET PAID NOTHING, SO THE SCHOOLS SUCK! All the regular people move out of the city so they can get a decent education.

Circle of life: Put no money in the system, nothing comes out. It pisses me off to no end. You probably can tell, huh. It sort of feels like it's a big thing for show, like oh look at our democratic process! We're not looking for money, we...want the Olympics here! Right, the Olympics! Go, America, etc! See, it's not greed, it's national pride! And world peace! No, it's totally not about the money I stand to earn! And who cares if people get displaced and/or disturbed--not to mention the TRAFFIC--for the next five hellish years of construction? MONEY! Er--I mean, GOD BLESS THE USA!

There, I know who I am: I don't take bullshit from the conservative right-wing rich.

Holy crap, go read this.

An email report from an American journalist in Iraq. "The situation," indeed.