Monday, February 28, 2005

Three Bad Things. Okay, Four.

One: My left wrist hurts like a motherfucker, and I didn't even do anything to it. Ow.

Two: Stepping between some desks and a short, crappy file cabinet, the sharp metal corner of the cabinet caught and ripped my cords, which are also my one and only pair of size-8 trousers (thus the only ones that fit--thus affirming my relative thinness!). A small enough tear that if I were so inclined, I could probably sew it back. Sadly, I am not needle-handy. I will definitely continue to wear them out and around, but probably not to school anymore. Boo.

Three: Despite the impending DOOM of this storm, the chances of school being cancelled are virtually nil. I hear that snow has to be like three feet for school to be canceled, because those great and awe-inspiring plows make the streets "clear." Dammit. [In comparison, two inches of snow in Seattle will at least postpone school for an hour or two, and if it's more, or especially cold and thus icy, we're out of there, baby.]

Four: False Alarm! Phlegm stage of Monewts still fully active and engaged!

Weird, random aside: I do some pretty good planning/thinking in the shower. And also during the walk to the train the morning. Both are totally free times, and I often will (quietly) talk myself through a lesson or the week or figure out the logic of lesson order. Am I the only one who does this?

Here We Go Again--Double Whammy

First day back at school after midwinter break. ALSO, another big ol' snowstorm! We're supposed to get between 6-12 inches between earlier this afternoon (2ish) and tomorrow at noon. Eek.

Well, let's start the day at the beginning, shall we? I went to bed at 11 and, of course, was not tired. Naturally. All night I tossed and turned, doing the "my eyes are closed! look! i'm sleeping! right? RIGHT?!" thing. Meaning, not really asleep. Weird worry-half-dreams about school and lessons and shit. After the alarm went off (which was really terrible to wake up to! I miss vacation already!), I was quite awake and alert, considering I wasn't really sleeping anyway.

Going to school felt very strange and surreal. Like I wasn'tsure I was doing what I was supposed to. And not positive it was the right day. (I'm always second-guessing myself like that.) Quite odd, altogether. Had to make a mad dash for the bus, which was idling at the curb when I emerged from the subway entrance. (Can you emerge from an entrance? Hm.) So I ran down the block, getting slowed/stopped by an old woman and then a car. I actually yelled out, "Move! Move! FUCK!", which kind of made me giggle, mid-panic. I made the bus, and I was the last one; a minute later a few more people tried to get on, pounding on the closed door, but the driver just moved on. Harsh.

Let's see. I was kind of happy to see the students. Shh, don't tell anyone. However, my head ached and felt fuzzy from lack of sleep and eat. I still coughed all day and blew my nose a bunch. Sexy!

Class A started things off...they were quite rowdy at the beginning of class. A lot, really. Once things got settled, though, they actually calmed down and were all on task. Just one little bugger was all talky and noisy. The others...were good. Holy cow.

I did decide to do the basics first, and I will do sort of a 'skill of the week.' We're starting with character development. I read them "Eleven" by Sandra Cisneros (an excellent and very short story; I highly recommend it), and they took notes on personality of the main character. Then they finally got to start reading Bridge to Terabithia, and they took notes on that main character.

For writing workshop, we made character maps. A few weeks ago we did self-character maps, but today I asked them to think about somebody they know really well, and make a character map about that person. For homework, they are to use those details to make a written description about them.

Class B was okay. Attitude A was in top form, so I sent her shrieky ass out of the room. Those two boys who don't do anything...didn't do anything except cause trouble today. But two boys who can be troublesome did pretty well staying semi-focused. That's cool.

Class C was okay too. They did pretty well with the reading stuff. Fairly chatty with the writing stuff. Same old, same old.

I stayed about an hour after school, doing paperwork type things, because they canceled the PD! Whee! See, snow is not so bad, is it?

Question: Should they still call it a "Winter Storm Warning" AFTER it's started snowing?

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Hi-larious links! Or, What Do You Mean? Of Course I'm Working!

These links are some seriously funny shit:

From the Funny State Mottos:
Washington: Help! We're Overrun By Nerds And Slackers!


I don't wanna go back to school tomorrow! Waah! Boo!

Yesterday I did some vague preparation for the week, by finding some great story-writing-tip sites. Printed out a bunch of stuff to help me help the kids. I found some really good stuff. What I really would love to do is write my own short story. Then they can watch me rewrite and edit, so that they can get some ideas of how it's actually done.

Here's what I really need to focus on: taking my sweet time in the classroom. That last week, where we worked on the basics of writing dialogue the whole time, really showed me that if they get to keep practicing things, they will actually get it. So that's what I need to do. A workshop topic of the week, if you will. I think this week I will continue with what I started before break: using descriptive language, in dialogue, and also in setting, action, and plot.

Or I should start focusing on the elements of fiction. We need to do some character development practice (not like I have any clues how the fuck to do that myself, let alone teach it!), and some plot work, at the very least. I suppose that could come after the descriptive language. Hm. Or actually, it probably makes more sense to do the fundamentals first and then revise it with descriptive language. Fuck. That's more complicated and more work for me. Dammit.

I still have to form the groups for literature circles. I'm really dragging my feet with this shit. I've been anxious to get it started, but I'm not motivated to do all the necessary work for it. FUCK.

Yesterday seemed to mark the end (finally!) of the phlegm stage of this month's Monewts, but I'm still becoming more and more congested. Dammit. It was tough to sleep last night, because I couldn't breathe through my nose. Then I have to try and breathe through my mouth, which causes nasty-tasting cotton mouth...and I'm also always a tiny bit afraid of creatures that would be able to crawl in. Yeeech.

I realized that for nearly the past week, I've only slept five hours a night. No wonder I've been utterly exhausted! The jetlag and timezone adjustment, plus my natural nightowl tendencies, and social opportunities, have joined forces, not unlike Captain America, but significantly less benevolent, to create a terrible pattern of sleeplessness and malaise. Again, BOO! HISS!

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Think You're Smart?

Take a gander at this here:

I've never even heard of a few of these things, and much of the rest I never learned. I wish we could still learn and teach this kind of thing; it's hard core, but I bet it's effective for producing intelligent and productive citizens for the future.

From the car: the Space Needle and Experience Music Project (the shiny, weird-shaped building behind the light pole).  Posted by Hello

Friday, February 25, 2005

The requisite Seattle skyline shot.  Posted by Hello

The Boy Scouts donated this very small replica of the Statue of Liberty on Alki Beach. Let there be light! Posted by Hello

My little sister and me at Snoqualmie Falls, in that golden, late-afternoon light. Posted by Hello

I'd never seen this view before: the Olympic mountain range from Alki Beach in West Seattle, Puget Sound, and a ferry, all behind a tiny Statue of Liberty replica. Gorgeous, no? I'm telling you, you East Coasters are missing out, big time. Posted by Hello

A bit of melancholy

This has been a very odd week. A weekend at home, ignoring work. Then most of a workweek spent not working, but on 'vacation' back on the West Coast. Now back for a frenzied weekend of work to prepare for school.

I'm not sure how I feel about being back in New York right now. I certainly wanted to avoid coming back to all the work. But I don't feel different or wistful about the home I just visited, either. It's strange. I do miss my people out there, don't get me wrong. It was nice to visit with all of them. But this new, insane life out here takes up so much time and effort that the year is speeding by and I don't really have time to think about what I'm 'missing' at 'home.'

The strange thing is that I actually have a life out here. It's meaningful and it's understandable to all people (unlike AmeriCorps). It was kind of gratifying to go back and talk about what it is that I do. I felt like a responsible person, a grown-up person doing her own thing.

For I really am that pioneering, crazy girl who struck out on her own, doing this insane thing that many people would not. It's beyond difficult, and it's proving to be the ultimate adventure, as well as the penultimate personality test.

I'm feeling proud of this new, true independence.

How will I fare by the end of this idealistic sojourn? It's most likely that I will only stay in New York for another year, maybe two, and then return to the Northwest. Will I be ready for the 'letdown' of returning to my comfort zone after years in a veritable battle area? Will I want to continue my quest to help better the education of American children? Will I flounder again in career fatigue and indecision? Stick myself with a deadend temp job while I desperately try to find my real identity and ideal career path?

Family and friend issues have a singularly depressing effect on me. When I think about that stuff, I get all melancholy, feeling unworthy and lonely. I question my identity and whether I have any valuable skills or attributes. I question whether anyone really would want to be my friend. If I even have any true friends. I roll my eyes and say to myself, god, no one wants to put up with this self-indulgent drama bullshit; of course there are no friends out there. I feel undesirable. I'm shy and awkward, like my inner self is still fifteen.

I've been utterly exhausted for days on end. I can't shake this fatigue. It could be this stupid illness, it could be jetlag--hell, it could be mono. I took a nap for nearly five hours this afternoon, and still could have/should have gone to bed no later than eleven tonight. But I stayed up and then when it was already far too late, too much stuff was rolling around in my head. Also, I couldn't breathe properly. So, in an effort to put off thinking about work and how far behind I am, I got back up. When it's the middle of the night, I always revert to that negative, introspective, poor-self-esteem state of mind that I really should have grown out of after freshman year of college. So here you have this entry: a peek into my head, full of loneliness and self-doubts even though I can identify parts of my life that I should be excited about. I deliberately turn my back on that happy shit and focus on the sad.

Inside Out and Otherwise All Mixed Up

I have decided that I need to name this illness: Monthly New Teacher Syndrome (MoNewTS for short). MoNewTS is a serious, though unheard-of, sickness involving the immune system, various muscles, and mental health. It's kind of like herpes; you only get occasional breakouts. Sometimes it goes into 'remission' and you think you're completely cured. But oh ho, you are not.

You'll know if you have MoNewTs if you consistently get a little bit sick each month. It usually takes the form of a nasty cold involving excess body fluids, sneezing, and sore throat: all things that a teacher needs the least. You will be excessively tired all month long, but more so when MoNewTS is active. There will be much uncomfortable coughing, phlegm-hacking, nose-blowing, and decongestant-intaking. You will also be lethargic, but with an extra perk: you will not have any energy for fun things, but you will also not have any energy to get your real work done. Or in some extreme cases, you won't even be able to get it started.

Inexplicably, MoNewTS is a short-term disease, affecting people for anywhere between 8 and 10 months and then finally clearing up. It's like colic; most everyone goes through it, and some cases are worse than others.

February's MoNewTS got things a little mixed up. The sore throat started things off, like it normally does. There followed a week of apparent normalness. However, then came the coughing. Soon enough, the urge to cough included the urge to expel lovely, sticky phlegm. After nearly a week of that, the MoNewTS is moving upward, causing congestion, stuffiness, disrupted breathing, excessive sneezing, and general discomfort. Usually MoNewTS goes the other way: it all starts up top with the throat and the congestion, eventually moving down into the lungs. I'm blaming the antibiotics.

Can't wait for March's outbreak! What new, titillating surprises will it bring?

Mount Rainier, from my dad's house. This view continually takes my breath away, and I've been seeing it for fifteen years.  Posted by Hello

Sitting outside at my dad's house. Look at that expanse of grass--and that's just on one side of the house! It was so lovely that day; I didn't even need that coat. Posted by Hello

Two Thousand Hits!

Wow, I feel so loved! You guys rock.

I am home again now. In New York, I mean.

Last night I thought I was being all prudent by not arriving at the airport until 11 for my midnight flight. Well, stupid me always forgets about checking times online, so when I arrived at the check-in desk (no kiosks or anything! Just two lousy counters! JetBlue, I'm disappointed. Get more routes out of Seattle already!), I was rather bummed to find out the plane was delayed due to snow.

So I walked, zombie-like (so, so tired), through the security checkpoint and to the N gate. All the gift shops were closed (what?!), and the restaurants closed very soon after my arrival (dammit!), so I returned to the main terminal, dragging my one small rolling suitcase. I bought a cup of Orange tea and an apple fritter at the sole open establishment, our good Seattleite friend, Starbucks. I sat and read Pamie's excellent book, and tried to stay awake.

At 12.15, I trudged, half-awake, back to the gate. The plane took off around one, and I crashed. I slept the whole flight. Not the best sleep I ever got, I got a crick in my neck, and I was dreaming weird things. But I couldn't keep my eyes open if I wanted to. I only opened them after we landed.

After waiting on a bathroom line and then for four AirTrains, I eventually made it back to my neighborhood. The ground and buildings are covered in 4-6 inches of snow. Just a tip: it's not easy and/or fun to pull a rolling suitcase through slush and snow. In case you were wondering.

I emptied the dirty clothes out of my bag and then jumped in a shower. I miss the stronger water pressure and better heat from my mom's house. I also miss her 17-inch, flat-screen computer monitor. And the cable wasn't bad either.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

I'm leaving tonight

Life here is definitely different than in New York. It's slower and almost idyllic in comparison. Wide open spaces, green spaces aplenty, green trees always in the background, mountains whichever direction you look, shiny deep blue water everywhere. It's yuppieland; more obviously middle-class and upper-middle-class and upper-class people walking in the market or driving their fancy cars on the clogged freeways. However, the materialism is here, but different and sometimes more subtle than New York. Cars and houses seem more important than designer duds and iPods.

These four days have passed quickly. I'm ashamed to say that a few times I've felt just plain bored. But I have to remember that that's the point of vacation--not to get stressed out with a million things to do, including going to work.

I did mark some papers, two sets of the nine. I only have three assignments to correct, which is much better than five. The dialogue is indeed improving. Monday's homework shows that most of the students are grasping the fact that each speaker gets a new paragraph. I'm expecting that Wednesday's and Thursday's homeworks will show that even more so.

Let's see. On Tuesday afternoon, I hung out with my dad and little sister. We drove up to see Snoqualmie Falls right before sunset, and then had dinner with a family friend. Wednesday, my dad showed me around the neighborhood he works in, West Seattle. We stopped for pretty pictures of the Seattle skyline and mountains (Olympics and Cascades). We have smog! Mt Rainier has been a mere shadow of its normal self these few days, and it breaks my heart. That mountain is a glorious beacon watching over the entire Seattle area, and to have it obscured by pollution is just plain depressing.

On Wednesday night, I visited someone I haven't seen in four and a half years. We'll call him the Freshman (ha, you know who you are :). I had a great time. More intelligent/intellectual conversation in one night than I've had in months and months. There was other, regular fun too. I like fun. The lack of frequent fun is one of my biggest problems in New York. Boo!

This morning I had lunch with my mom and two women that she's known for thirty years; they are part of a group that all taught at the same middle school and became friends outside school. They still meet several times a year to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Anyway, they were very eager and interested to hear about my experiences so far this year. Even though they couldn't relate to the urban setting, most of the things I'm going through are things that ALL teachers go through, regardless of the year or the area. Which I love, because they just get what I mean. Talking to friends my age who do other things, it's hard to convey exactly what my work/life is like. Because, let's face it, new teachers are new teachers. They're not regular people anymore; they are ridiculously stressed and overwhelmed with work and all kinds of other things. So older teachers completely understand all that without explanation.

My flight home to New York leaves at midnight tonight. I won't have to worry about a busy check-in, so I can get there at eleven and be just fine. That means I have a good five hours to chill out, watch tv, eat, and ignore the shitload of work I need to do by Monday.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I'm here!

My flight was fine on Sunday night. I watched some television--they have cable!, took a nap, and read. Mom was there to get me at the airport. By then I was wide awake again. The ride home was strange in that it didn't feel/look strange at all. Everything looked exactly the same, and it felt completely normal to be doing that.

The house looks good. The kitchen has gotten new counters, but it still looks pretty much the same. My old room has been niced up since my brother left. Still very sunny.

Sunday night I stayed up really late, watching a movie until 2 or 3. On Monday I was up at 6.30 though (9.30 to my body). Not much happened the rest of the morning. I watched some cable--awesome but brain numbing--and helped empty out some cabinets. A quiet day. I made some mango bars and brownies from box mixes in the pantry. Yum.

Around 2.30, Stacey picked me up. We went to the store for junk food supplies and then to Dan's for the hangout (they are selling the house and so for the first time, it's clean. heh). Rob, Brandon, both Dans, Kyle, then Raegan were there. We had some drinks, played Yahtzee, 7-11, and Cranium. And ate a lot of junk food. Nachos, garlic bread, brownies, popcorn, cookies. Excellent. I took a break about 7.30 (my normal bedtime of 10.30 in ny) and sort of napped on the floor, then did a crossword on the computer. Eventually I became more alert and social again and rejoined my friends.

Again, it was strange to see them in that it felt totally normal. Like no time had passed and I was poppping right back into place. I guess that's pretty cool. Those are good people. Except for Big Dave and Trevor, who didn't show. Punks!

When I got home at 11.30, I went right to bed. I slept nicely til about 8.30, when I decided to get up, even though I was still tired.

A few days ago, I started coughing a bit. Yesterday but mostly last night, I really felt a rattle in my chest. This morning I did some nasty coughing and phlegming. Yuck. Also, bad. I just had this a month ago! Dammit! I don't know if it's because after the first three days, I keep forgetting to take the antibiotics from last week's 'strep throat'.

The weather is lovely, all sunny. Temps in the 40s and 50s, so not exactly warm and pleasant, but definitely better than freezing my ass off. The sun coming in through the windows is warm and excellent.

I'm stuck without a car until later this afternoon when my dad will pick me up. If I'm a good girl, I will shower sometime and bundle up in my NY winter clothes and go for a walk. That seems like a big if. Because if I'm going to be a good girl, then I would work on some of the giant pile of homework to correct. Meh. Work schmerk.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Getting close!

I'm going to leave in tne next 45 minutes or so. I want to stop by a few places before I get on the train for the airport.

The Costco trip was successful. Spent $90 but I got plenty of good stuff: Two books, lots of yummy food (juice, fuji apples, sugar snap peas, cookie dough, yogurt, frozen mini pizzas), shampoo and conditioner.

Haven't really done anything since then. Finished washing the dishes, cleaned out the old crap I had in the fridge, and ignored all my schoolwork. Bwah.

I LOVE that it's Sunday and I don't have to go to work tomorrow!

In eight hours I'll be in Seattle! I wonder what will look the same or different. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures (with the new memory card I'm going to buy) and post them up here. Mom told me that the weather is supposed to be nice; that will just enhance my experience. I would love to have time to take an afternoon drive somewhere, exploring and enjoying the scenery.

Later, friends!


You Are 50% Psychic

You are pretty psychic.
While you aren't Miss Cleo, you've got a little ESP going on.
And although you're sometimes off on your predictions...
You're more often right than wrong
So go with your instincts - you know more than you think


You Are A Romantic Realist

You are more romantic than 50% of the population.

You tend to be grounded when it comes to romance.
Sure, you can fall hard... but only for someone you've gotten to know.
And once you're in love, you can be a total romantic goofball...
But you'd never admit it to your friends!

I think that's fairly accurate. I'd like to be a romantic, but the world isn't like that. The frames of my glasses are rose-colored, not the lenses.

You Are 23 Years Old


Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Hm, so is that a good thing or a bad thing, that I 'act' two years off my age? Should I be acting two years older? Or exactly my age? I've always felt mature for my age, but this 'adult' thing is pretty weird. Just this year am I even kind of getting the hang of it.

J is for Jealous
U is for Unforgettable
L is for Luscious
I is for Irresistible
E is for Excellent

Ha ha, this is very true! :)

Happy Birthday Tomorrow

February 21st will be the one-year anniversary of this website! I've kind of cheated, though, by putting all the archives from my other site on this site as well. My four-year blogger birthday will be in June. Wow. Four years of writing to an invisible audience...

Let's see. Yesterday was supposed to be a bit busier than it actually was, but I suppose that's okay. I did get to go out, hang out, and eat. Mm, food.

All evening I just sat around, watching tv and surfing the net. Found some good links on Fametracker to keep me occupied. I did end up cleaning my room, or at least hanging my clothes back up. Always a big step. I need to wash dishes this afternoon before I leave. And I have all these empty cereal boxes sitting here. I haven't tossed them because I think I will use them for a project with my kids. Maybe. Some time in the next month or two. Gah.

I went to bed at midnight, totally zonked. Sadly, my brain woke up around 7, which my body was not happy with. I got up around 7.30 and got in the shower. Now I can have a bit of time to organize the few things I will bring home with me. Don't hate me for this (or maybe you should), but I'm going to bring all the homework to correct and the reading lesson book with me. Just in case I really have nothing to do, or I start feeling anxious about all the work that will have to be done in three days after I get back.

I'm going to Costco this morning with Ms C, I'm looking forward to that. Think of the books they might have! I need something to read on the plane...

Twelve hours from now we will be taking off!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Why am I so tired?

God, I feel ready to drop. I have been sleepy all day. Even after supposedly sleeping for nearly twelve hours.

I went for a late lunch in Woodside with K, it was fun. We gorged on junk food. Mm, half-priced Valentine candy.

The stupid 7 train was all backed up and it took me an hour to get home. I dozed most of the way. Still, quite tired.

It's kind of scaring me. With the nasty throat last week, this extreme fatigue might be evidence of something more.

I should really start picking up my room. Most of my clothes are in a pile instead of hanging in my closet.

Packing schmacking. I really think I might be able to bring very minimal things. Good luck to me on that.


In the last six months, I've only seen one movie in the theatre, and that was on Christmas Day. But since I finally made my way through all of Felicity's DVDs, my Netflix queue is all actual movies again.

Last week my roommate rented The Notebook and let me watch it. It was sweet. I was impressed with Ryan Gosling, because normally, I think he's kind of weird-looking and creepy. But he and Rachel McAdams had fantastic chemistry and it was a nice, romantic movie.

Yesterday I watched Saved, with Jena Malone, Mandy Moore, Patrick Fugit, and Macauley Culkin. I really liked it. It was witty, tongue-in-cheek, altogether great fun. "I crashed my van into Jesus!"

This morning I watched Before Sunset. I only saw Before Sunrise once, but I liked it alright. And I heard this one was pretty good, so I figured I'd check it out. Little did I know the whole thing takes place around Paris! I nearly wept with joy. It also takes place in real time, and it really feels like you're just watching two friends catching up. I loved the opening in Shakespeare and Company. I've so been exactly right there! There were some goofs with the boat scenes, though. They got on the boat just east of Notre Dame, but once they were on, you could see Pont Neuf in the background. Pont Neuf is west of Notre Dame. They went under Pont Neuf twice, and even if you didn't recognize the bridge itself, you would recognize the big sign that goes by reading, "Bateaux Pont Neuf." Plus, the Quai Henri IV is only three bridges away from Notre Dame, and they went under more bridges than that. Overall, I really liked the film.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Friday Forum questions

1] Has there ever been a moment in your life that you wish could have LASTED forever? In other words, you would have frozen time at that very second in order to live that moment for eternity? When did it happen, and how did you feel?

Oh geez, so many, I'm sure. Lots of travel moments. Standing on the Pont Neuf at night, gazing down the flood-lit Seine. Just being in the square of Notre Dame on a quiet, gray summer morning. Walking around the Parthenon, or Delphi, or strolling the beach near Olympia.
Lots of AmeriCorps moments come to mind, too. In fact, the whole year. It was so intense, and all of my feelings and reactions were so honest for me at the time, I felt everything so vividly, the good and the bad.
The thrill of graduation is always exciting: high school, college, AmeriCorps (again).
Many of the summer days that I walked near the river when I worked at the mortgage company: Good music streaming through headphones, sunshine toasting my shoulders, the scent of fresh blackberries and woods, the high of endorphins, a pleasantly (temporarily) empty mind.

2] Have you ever finished in LAST place, whether during a race, a contest, a competition, an exam, or something else? How did it make you feel? When a situation like that occurs, do you usually maintain a positive attitude or feel like you have completely failed?

Our high school gymnastics team came in second to last in all three district rankings. I felt happy that we weren't actually last. It didn't bother me too much, we really sucked and everyone knew it.

Other than that, I've always been intelligent enough to be at least in the middle of the pack if not near the front. (Rarely have I ever been in first place, either, though.)

3] Who's the LAST person you talked with on the phone? E-mailed? Received an e-mail from? Hugged? Went out to lunch with? Thought about? Made something for? Made plans with? IMed?

I just talked to/made plans with my friend K. Quasi-friend, lately, or old roommate/ acquaintance. Hm, I got an email from Mz Smlph last night. Hugged? Good lord, who knows. I never get hugs. Fucking singledom. Thought about: ghuh? I think about hundreds of people a day. Made something for: no clue. IMed: teammate Jess.

4] When's the LAST time that you did something nice just for yourself? What was it? How do you usually treat/reward yourself? Do you take time out of each day to do something for yourself? Do you buy yourself a birthday gift or Christmas gift each year?

Lately, my treat to myself has been not working. I mean, taking time to ignore all my schoolwork.
I've been really good about not buying clothes since before Christmas.
I do tend to go to the dollar store and Duane Reade for snacks/junk food way too often that is necessary.
My birthday present to myself was the digital camera: the gift that keeps on giving. Christmas gift: nothing really, I guess. Maybe my nice coat.
So far I've made decisions to take trips; that's a pretty big reward too. Next week Seattle, then Las Vegas in April.

5] What do you think you'll be doing on the LAST day of this month (February 28)? If you could choose a month and have it LAST forever (in other words, it would be July all the time from now on), which month would you choose and why?

Ugh, I know just what I'll be doing: returning to school and teaching after a well-deserved midwinter break. After school, I'm going to be helping present at professional development, for which we will most likely be vastly unprepared.

What month I would choose to have it last forever....that would depend on where I was living. For instance, July is much more pleasant in Washington than it is in New York. I suppose that May is pleasant most everywhere.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Random snippets that I keep forgetting about

It's already my bedtime, but I wanted to get this stuff down before I forgot again.

I have a Word Wall behind my door. I've got cards with words up there, but I've never discussed the Word Wall in class. The words are from class, but I put them up there with no reminders or explanations.

On the pillar next to this Word Wall, I put up cards with parts of speech. The other day, a group of girls were ambling out of my emptying room, they stopped at the piller. One of them said, as if to 'insult' one of the others, "You're an adjective."
She said primly, "I'm a noun--a person."
The other girl said, "You're a proper noun."
It was weird and completely out of the blue, but it was awesome nonetheless. Osmosis in the classroom works! If you've got it up somewhere, the kids may (or, more likely may not) notice it and someday it might sink in. Talking about parts of speech! On their own!

Little C walked up to me one morning as his class was lining up outside my door. "Ms C, why is your hair always the same?"
I replied, a bit defensively but in that joking way he probably knows by now (what he may not know is that's the only way I can keep a straight face when they come up with these strange comments), "What an odd question to ask! Why is your hair always the same?"
He grinned and said, "It's not; I just got a haircut!" running his hand over his short hair. Then he turned away and that was that. Very odd.

I told this girl to read The Egypt Game since she likes mysteries. I also told her that The Westing Game is fantastic. So she read Egpyt and loved it, but has been chomping at the bit about Westing. Today at lunch, she announced that she had finished it (Egypt) and can she read the Westing Game now? I said, tell you what. Write me a letter promising me that you will let no harm come to the book, and maybe I'll let you take it home with you over break. She said, "Okay!"

At the end of sixth period, she came up to me, "Ms C! Look!" And showed me a letter that read something like, "Dear Ms C., I promise that if you let me read The Westing Game, I will take care of it. Love, T." So cute!

"...wasting [our] precious youth in a Sisyphean endeavor."

Oh man, you have to read this.

It's the Onion at its best: using thinly-veined satire and sarcasm to expose the ugly truth. Because really, every thing in that article IS true. I have had almost all of those thoughts, and I've heard it from many of my compatriots, idealistic corps members or not. Except TFA/NYCTF isn't responsible, exactly; it really is the cities and the systems. They suck you in and then suck out your energy and drive and will.

I've only survived on stubbornness and a little bit of grit. Idealism went out the window way before I stepped foot in my own classroom. Optimism and idealism are for pansy-asses.

Harsh but true. Other urban (and maybe even suburban and rural?) teachers will back me up on this.

Good lord, one more day

Class B was really great today!

Our work was 'spicing' up dialogue using varied speaker tags. For instance, instead of always using "said," using verbs like "whispered," "shouted," or "trembled." That makes it more interesting to read and it helps set the mood, no matter how mundane the actual words spoken.

Well, they got really excited and hands were waving all around the room. We made a list for "said" and a list for "asked" (pondered, wondered, inquired) and one for "laughed" (giggled, grinned, smiled, cracked) Even one for "walk" (bounced, jogged, stomped). They also kept coming up with adverbs, we made a list for that too (fiercely, aggressively, shyly).

I had to actually make them stop so that they could practice using these words. We used the silly little dialogue from yesterday (What are you doing? I'm fixing the dishwasher. Why is it making that noise? I don't know, that's why I'm fixing it.), and they wrote it twice: using different kinds of speaker tags to create a different mood of the conversation. It totally worked, they came up with great stuff.

I had been looking forward to seeing how Class A did with it, but unfortunately we had a stupid assembly. It was one of those fund-raising things that get the kids all riled up for prizes they'll never sell enough items to win. Grr.

Class C was chatty and distracted and it irritated me. I finally got fed up and gave them a pop quiz (just about the same one from Class B earlier this week).

Blah, I have more things I could probably talk about...but the most important thing to know is that tomorrow is the last day of school before break starts!

Still can't wait. Eee!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Oh my lord, y'all, two days of school left until midwinter break.


Jumping up and down, laughing with glee, clapping my hands: that is me every time I say, TWO DAYS!!!!

Anyway, I have to make this brief, because this was one hell of a day and it's nearly bedtime.

First things first, Class A was good today. Not perfect or anything, but good. They did their work, and I'm really seeing improvement with dialogue writing skills (I've been hammering them with punctuation rules for three days). That makes me feel really good, because I can see the fruits of my labor, if you will. That means that I'm not just standing in front of them speaking nonsense; it's actually going into their heads! It's working!

Class B was not too bad either. Two of them happily and quietly cleaned up the nasty mess that Class C left in there during social studies (that traveling teacher uses my room during all of my preps except lunch). Most of them also did their work, and I am seeing improvement. Whee!

I lit into Class C at the beginning of class, talking about the filthy, disgusting mess they left my room in, and if they did it again, they would ALL be in there at lunch scrubbing desks and everything else in the room. After that, once we got to work, they did okay. Still a lot of talking going on, but plenty of people were working. Even some of the lower-level kids are almost perfect with their dialogue! Not quite as much improvement across the board in that class, but it is an inclusion class, so I'll cut them some slack.

After school, I went to a diner with Ms C, Ms J and the other Ms F. We had a good time and I was stuffed afterwards. Yum. I got seasoned curly fries, a chocolate milkshake, and a giant caesar salad that I couldn't finish.

Then, soon enough, it was time for conferences. I was not looking forward to it, other than to get it over with. However, it was pretty unstressful, overall. I didn't have a big backup like I did before. I think that there must have been fewer parents or something. Of course I didn't see many parents of the bigger problem kids, but most of them I've already been in contact with and can call them or something.

They kicked all of us out at 8.15 and I got home by 9.15.

Oh, I forgot something really cool. Did I mention that I was in the paper? During the MLK Day volunteer event, the two students of mine that came and I got interviewed by a reporter at Newsday, and the article came out the next Sunday. Well, I always forget that it's not just me anymore, that I'm in the school framework/family now, so I didn't tell anyone at school. (I'm not linking to it to keep my school's and my own anonymity. You're not missing much; I'm mentioned in the first sentence, and then it talks about my students for awhile, then goes on to talk about other people. But still, pretty cool.)

Yesterday someone must have brought in the article and showed it in the office. Mr Principal stopped in this morning, first to tell me that he talked to Obnoxious Mother yesterday but 'took a bullet for [me]' and supported me. Awesome! I thanked him. Then he congratulated me on the article and praised me for doing that. And shook his finger at me for not telling anyone. I was all, aw shucks.

Later on, I checked my mailbox in the office, and they photocopied the article, put a note saying 'look what Ms C did!', and gave a copy to the whole faculty. Wow! And Mr Principal wrote up another note to me recognizing my 'going the extra mile' kind of thing. So now I have something to put in my file for good stuff. Neat. :)

Now, of course, it's up to me to get off my lazy ass and KEEP finding volunteer opportunities. We all know that once a year for two hours does not cut it. Even once a month is pretty trivial. So get on that, me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Training: AmeriCorps, chapter 4

After that most intense first week, there was another four or five weeks that the entire corps spent on campus, training and getting ready for the year.

There was driving training, saw and tool training, firefighter training, Red Cross training, a diversity workshop, a conflict management workshop, a health (sex ed) workshop ("There is no shame in your humanness!"), service learning, day projects, PT (physical training), all corps meetings, unit meetings, team meetings, military physicals, weekend trips, project meetings, project packing, it went on and on.

It was a crazy time, but fun, too. I felt like I met someone new at least several times a week: people in the next house, people on other teams, people on the other unit, other team leaders. Young, (mostly) enthusiastic people everywhere. It was radically different than any other part of the year, because only after fourth round finished was the entire campus together again for more than a day or two.

There were regular trips to the Rendez-Vous and regular hangouts in neighbors' or teammates' houses. Not a ton of time to really bond with the team, because you were always just overwhelmed with people all the time.

Let's see. I know that one of the first things we did was a day project. Most of my team and most of Fire 3 went to Delaware, to the Brandywine River. (We spent the last half of the ride making "Hi...we're in Delaware" jokes, like the lameasses we were.) There was an old mill/factory that we worked at, preparing a giant truck bed to carry a Civil War-era cannon. There were piles of old lumber that we picked up, moved, and removed nails and other things from. Then we brought it outside and stacked it on the truck bed. It sounds simple and easy and sort of silly, but it was exhilarating, hard work. We all used hammers, crowbars, levers, and hauled around twelve-foot planks. We had a fabulous time getting dirty and bonding with each other.

It was our first exposure to posturing men that dominate manual labor tasks, who talk down to girls and assume we can't do anything. (We had some very strong girls on our team, for one, and two, ALL of our team was motivated and driven to do the best we could. So fuck off, condescending chauvinists.) Again, it was only the first; there would be many that year. Lots of sexist people still about.

Another exciting time was the military physicals. (I can't remember the catchy acronym for some reason, but they were called something, maybe MPs? No, that's military police. I don't know anymore, I'm old and losing my memory.) The entire Fire Unit (90 people) got up at 6 or something, and drove to Baltimore, or was it Washington? and crowded into this building. We were all nervous about the pee test for some reason. Everyone was drinking water so we would be ready to go. However, like all things government and especially AmeriCorps, it was a day of sitting around and waiting. So some of those water-guzzlers really had to pee, even though it was nowhere near pee test time.

We sat in the front area/waiting room. Some of us had pillows or books to kill time. We had to fill out some forms, I think. They called groups of people, separated by boys and girls, and sent them into lines. There was a pee test line. Then you got into another waiting room and waited there, then went into another line in the bathroom. FYI, the pee test requires an open stall door. No sneaking! People were nervous and then some of those water-guzzlers had to dance around and go before it was their time, because they were so desperate. Others couldn't 'perform' under pressure and had to go back and wait in line again.

There was also a line for the hearing test, where five or six people went into a special room and sat in booths with giant headphones. They did the same kind of hearing test that we all had in elementary school. I always second-guess myself with those; very quickly I can't tell if the tones and beeps are in the headphones or just reverberating around my head.

Another line for vision checks. We looked at computer screens that had those big circles of multi-colored dots, and you had to tell the attendant what you saw in the dots. (Color blind people, like our Sethie, would not be able to differentiate.)

Then, I think it was last, we had a physical examination. Ten or so girls got into yet another waiting room, and put on those fun open examination blouses. We waited in a long line to see one of the two doctors. When we got in the exam room, we lay down, the old man doctor palpated us (felt us up) for a few seconds and then let us go. Apparently the boys had a harder time, having to do some kind of chicken walk, or hop around on one foot, or some such nonsense.

A lot of Red Cross training was spent trying to stay awake. The information was a little confusing and overwhelming, so it was hard to take it. They were trying to explain the finer points of damage assessment, and we were all, " do we get to the disaster?"

Let's see. Our team leader and Fire 3's team leader put together an activity to tell us where our first round was. First we all joined hands and closed eyes, and they led us around to a 'mystery location' that ended up being the TV house on 3rd street. Then we split into small groups and got puzzles that fit together to make key words. End result: local round doing education in Baltimore.

For the first night, I was really bummed. Supremely disappointed. I was so excited to get 'out there' and have an adventure...somewhere. Staying at the Point, commuting to Baltimore? LAME!

But soon enough, I got excited. Education was the one type of project that I figured I might know something about ahead of time (as opposed to projects like Habitat or other manual labor). We would still get to live in our spacious, funky houses but without so many other people in them. In fact, I would have my house to myself that whole round. (More on that later.) We would have nearly free reign of the computers, since only three other teams would be on campus that round. We would still get to go to the regular grocery store on our own.

Next chapter: the real work begins!

First conferences DONE!

The crazy conference night is tomorrow evening...blurgh, I'm trying not to think about it.

We had a half day today, dismissing at 10.30 (after third period). So I only had Class B. We did some literature circle stuff. Then, I had wanted to do some fun and games. However, the class had some, shall we say, issues. Six students were chewing gum. TWO of those girls chewed gum more than once. Meaning, I told them to spit it out, they denied it then finally got rid of it. A few minutes later, more gum/candy/paper chewing. From one girl, FOUR DIFFERENT TIMES, I had to ask her to spit out gum. Unbelievably rude. From girls that though sometimes have an attitude, are decent students and want to do well.

So, instead of getting to do something fun, I gave them a pop quiz. I had them put some phrases into correct dialogue form (with punctuation and quotations and stuff), I had them use homophones in sentences, I had them use alliteration in a sentence, I had them define 'infer.' I also asked them the capital of the United States and the number of continents. A bonus question asked the names of the Great Lakes.

Bwahaha! It was awesome. I felt a sense of 'ha, take THAT, brats!' They need to know that there are consequences to their misbehavior and disrespect. I need to remember this as a tool to help correct unwanted behavior.

Anyway, I joined a couple math teachers on a lunch run and then tried to organize my room to see parents.

We only had two hours, and I saw 18 parents. For a little bit, it was busy and rushed, but I caught up just fine.

The pain-in-the-ass mother that I've spoken of was there this afternoon. The first thing I told her was how great he's doing third quarter, and showed her that he's got over 100% (because he turned in some extra credit). We talked about his proposal grade (15/40--ouch), and I explained the requirements from the rubric that his work did not meet. She seemed to accept that. Then we got onto the holiday packet. Remember, her son forgot to bring in the multiple choice answers on the day it was due, only turning in the written portion.

Get this: She accused me of having a double standard. Because 1, I did not accept the thing the next day. (I did tell her that I agreed to compromise and give him half credit...but the administrators did not get it to me in time to include in the grade.) But 2, I pushed back the due date for the proposal--because of the blizzard.

So somehow, an act of GOD is on par with her son forgetting to turn in a goddamned piece of paper. If there was a flood or hurricane that prevented him from doing the homework, or being able to turn it in, then absolutely, he will get excused. But forgetting negates a fucking blizzard.

That is utter lunacy. Completely unrealistic and unreasonable. (Teachers and friends, let me know what you think, please. Maybe I'm the one being unreasonable...I firmly believe that I'm the sane one, but I love to get objective input.)

Of course, she went to meet with the AP about it. He came to me beforehand to find out what we talked about. I told him about the ridiculous double standard accusation.

There's nothing I can do about the grade now, because it's in the past, grades are in and whatever. If the admin decides to give in to her stupid demands, that's up to them, let them deal with it.


but other than that, the afternoon went very nicely. The parents understood where I was coming from, and admonished their kids for not doing the right thing, whatever it was. That support is good. I tell the parents, and the kids, "He/she/you are MORE than capable of doing the work. There's no reason that he/she/you should be anything other than a level 3, if not 4. He/she/you are just not doing the work!"

And then I put things back together and was out of there by 2.30. Sweet!

This morning I was not feeling well, so I moved kind of slow and got the late train. On that train, in the full and crowded car, some asshole man brings out his personal DVD player type thing, and plays music on it. THEN, he plays a sitcom or something. Outright noise. SO FUCKING RUDE!

Then, I got on the bus, also very crowded. Lo and behold, loud, obnoxious music playing again. Can you believe some people?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Four More Days!

For reals, yo, the countdown is ON, big time.

Class C was indeed chatty. Grr.

I got some work done after school, made some copies, and whatever. At home, I had to redo my grade program, but thank god it's only two weeks into the quarter. So far, a LOT of my students are failing. ALREADY. Not the right way to start the quarter, I tell you.

Anyway, like I said, I am feeling pretty good. In fact, I don't really feel sick anymore. Sweet. I will do my best to get in bed by 10.30 and get all rested for tomorrow's afternoon parent conferences.


Be vewy, vewy quiet!

Sh, I'm at school right now, it's my final prep of the day.

We practiced dialogue writing today. Or at least that's what I asked them to do. Explained it eighteen times and still got, "What are we doing, miss?" and "I don't get it..."

Class A was all kinds of rowdy this morning. I was ready to throttle about half of them. GRR! Two kids started throwing around race remarks and accusations, toward me (ie, saying I'm treating them bad because they're black/Spanish/native/blah blah). I let them know that is NOT okay.

Class B was not too much better. No racism there, but lots of talking, shouting, and no working.

Here's holding out a tiny shred of hope for Class C to be a bit better. Ah, who am I kidding? They're always chatty.

This literature circle stuff is all mixed up; each class is going to be at a different place. Only Class C will probably get to start reading the books this week. The others I'll hold off til after break.

FOUR MORE DAYS OF SCHOOL! I could weep with excitement and relief that the break is so near.

After my nap last night, it took awhile to feel alert again, but I finally did. I had to stay up til 11 watching Crossing Jordan. This morning was not too bad, waking up. Hurrah.

I feel a thousand times better than I did on Friday. My sore throat is almost gone! Amazing what rest and food and not talking and staying inside can do for a sick person.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


Actually, URGH...I had to force myself awake after a two-hour deep sleep nap. Now I have that leaded-body feeling.

But the 'whee!' refers to the fact that seven days from right now, in exactly one week, I will be on my way to the airport to visit home. I am very excited. I think I'll get to see a lot of people, both friends and family, and I'll get to just enjoy being in the lovely northwest again. I'll do my best to not think about school at all. (Yeah right, but hey, I can try.)

And speaking of whee!, I'm almost done correcting homework!!! Only two more sets to do! Hurrah!

I have a rough sketch of the week. But it is complicated by the fact that on Tuesday, we'll have the kids for only half a day, then a few hours to set up, and then a few hours of parent conferences. I'll cross my fingers that I won't be busy during that time again, because well, I just want to chill out. Then we'll be at school all night on Wednesday. Thursday night is a celebration for my ELA AP; I doubt I'll make it, but I'll feel guilty if I don't.

I hope to have some debaucherous fun next weekend, but I'll need to find some other people. Lone debauchery is just pathetic.

Internet CRACK

This morning I downloaded Morpheus and have been trying to redo my collection of music. I've gotten 45 new songs already so far.

I stayed up late watching the beautiful Jason Bateman on SNL. Did you see the photo of him all trussed up like Cary Grant or whoever? Day-um, the man is gorgeous.

It's nearly noon and I have gotten no work done. I finished another three sets of homework! Only six more to go. Not to mention all the lesson plans for the week that I should plan now so as to reduce the massive stress that comes with parent conferences and being the week before break. FIVE MORE DAYS OF SCHOOL!

I hope to get the kids actually reading the books for literature circles on Monday and Tuesday. Although Class A missed both times going over the roles, so they are probably going to be behind the other classes. That sucks; I hate having to keep track of classes being on different subjects. I have no idea what sort of lessons I'll teach for reading this week. One will be an introduction of Katherine Paterson (who seems awesome and fabulous, from what little I've read of her, interviews and bio snippets and such).

In writing, we will keep working on narrative. All the kids need more work on dialogue. Monday, I will continue 'teaching' the punctuation and stuff. Must introduce the fact that each time someone speaks, it's a new paragraph, very few kids knew that. I didn't talk about it on Friday, but jesus, these kids read every day. Things they read have dialogue in it; they're just not recognizing it. So I should point that out. I also want to talk about varying speaker tags. Instead of always saying 'he said' and 'I asked', using interesting verbs like 'he whispered' and 'I chuckled'. Basically, using synonyms to create more engaging text.

Bah, I'm sure I should go and start planning right now. And correcting homework. And redownloading gradekeeper so that on Tuesday the parents can see how their kids are doing so far third quarter.

WAAH! I don't wanna!

In other news, how in the world is it already Valentine's Day 2005? My, how time does fly.

Thinking about AmeriCorps, chapter 4. I might try and work on that a bit today, if school work gets too tedious.

Oh God, please get me through this week quickly and as painlessly as possible. I just want to get it done so that I can recuperate physically and emotionally, and visit friends and family.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Making progress...on several fronts, even

My throat is actually feeling better. The glass shards have been whittled down to, say, paper shards? Something much less sharply painful. I can't believe that antibiotics work so quickly; maybe I have just been building it up in my head.

So I was five days behind on grading homework. Since I have three classes, that means I had fifteen sets of work to correct. Last night I got three sets (one day's assignment) of work corrected, and this afternoon I took my sweet time getting three more done. Down to three assignments and nine sets. Gah. It's gonna take FOREVER.

Because I cannot focus solely on work, I half-watched Strictly Ballroom with the commentary on, and then the last episode of Felicity's third season.


Last night at the grocery store: The woman in front of me was a lovely, 30-something, nice-shaped woman...whose groceries were all low-carb or low-fat. Bread, yogurt, milk, meat, everything. The man behind me was an older guy, and his entire selection was blueberry blintzes, a pint of Godiva chocolate ice cream, a single banana, and three rolls of paper towels.

Somehow I stayed up until midnight last night. This morning I was up by ten. I had a healthy breakfast of wheat toast (one piece with crunchy peanut butter and one with fat-ass margarine), a banana, and juice.

I also looked over all the tax stuff my mom sent out. I made $21,000 last year, spread out over six jobs. Wow. Sometime very soon I need to go to an accountant, because my roommate let me know that since technically I am here as a student, all the city and state tax I've paid should be refunded. Nice!

That refund check, however big it ends up to be, will probably be my only fun-money for the Las Vegas trip in April. How depressing it would be to go on vacation to Sin City with school friends and be too frugal to join in the frivolity.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Strep! Whee!

I went to sleep at 8.30 last night. I didn't know I could do that! I slept fairly well, dreaming some about school and some about something weird that I can't remember. Something about being in a trailer being turned on its side, and being underground, and possibly a monster.

This morning I still felt fatigued, despite more than ten hours of sleep. Although I did not feel like a zombie, which is an improvement.

So my test prep (Stupid!) involved a super quick mini lesson/model of predictions, using a short Pakistani fairy tale. Then, using the same story, each group answered a set of questions using the skill that group needs to work on. Meaning there was a group working on sequence, details, drawing conclusions, response, and making predictions. I was supposed to stay with the predictions group, but it's impossible to stay with one group very long. Well, not impossible, obviously, just extremely ill-advised. Especially because a few groups were not working well together and really needed a teacher stink-eye every few minutes to keep them on track, if not me actually going over to them.

Class A was alright. Not great like last week, where all the groups were actually engaged. Class B did not have much time, and they were also only okay. Trouble with a bunch of boys in that class. Class C was extremely chatty and off-task.

My throat was killing me all day. Swallowing feels like shards of glass inside my throat. The extensive talking also irritated my throat in another place. All I had to eat was a banana, and that was painful. There was no time or energy to eat anything else.

Right after school, I left. (Which I never do; it felt a bit illicit and also lazy.) I went straight to the clinic...where I was told that the urgent care doesn't begin until 6pm. It was all I could do not to burst into tears at that point; I was so tired and getting medical attention was the only thing getting me through the day.

So I got home, ate some food, and popped in the tape of tv that I taped all week. Lounged about, trying not to fall asleep. I have a secret: I like to watch the reruns of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch that come on at 5.30. I'm sorry! It's terribly cheesy, but I just always watch it!

Finally I left the house again, which I hated having to do, at 6.15. Though I did get some homework corrected, which is great for me. I arrived back at the clinic and had an almost eery experience. It only took a few minutes to wait, get called, fill out the form, and get into a room. The nurse took my pulse and blood pressure. Then she said, "The doctor will be right in." Which they always say. I got up to grab the homework, but the doctor was actually standing right outside the door. He shuffled in, all old and droopy and slow. Didn't introduce himself or anything. He asked, "So what's the problem?" He looked in my throat for a few moments, checked my lungs and very briefly felt my neck, all without speaking. He said, "Allergic to penicillin?" I said no. And he wrote out a prescription. Me: ", what is it?" He said it was strep. "Scientifically" he could take a culture and send it in and wait three days and then start the medicine, but from what he saw (for all of the two minutes), it's strep.

Leaving the office, I didn't even have to pay a co-pay. (Way to go, premium-free teacher insurance!). I walked two blocks around the corner to a Walgreen's pharmacy. The prescription was supposed to take fifteen minutes, but it was done in seven. For the bottle of amoxycillin, I only paid $2. Sweet!

I stopped at the grocery store and was home by 8.30. I had anticipated an hour or more waiting time at the office, plus more time in the exam room, and obviously more to pay for the prescription. But geez, it was so fast and so cheap. I love it!

I do feel a bit vindicated at the diagnosis; at least I wasn't just whining or making shit up. The doctor said that in a few days I won't be contagious anymore (oohoo, fun--I've been contagious! At school. Nice.) and be getting better.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Oh man, almost there

I can't WAIT for the weekend. I am tired and anxious and possibly sick again, and I just want to rest and relax.

Today I taught how to punctuate dialogue. It's complicated! I tried to liken the quotation marks to earmuffs, in that they go on each side of the spoken words, and the punctuation wants to stay warm too, and thus stays inside the quotation marks.

By the by, it's hard to write out rules about it without the guide of, well, an actual grammar guide.

There was a lot of talking, but a lot of kids making efforts to do the work, too. They seemed to get it for the most part. Their homework is to write a story with an argument in it, that gets resolved by the end, WITH correct punctuation and speaker tags. Once again, I'll let you know next week how it turns out. Ha.

Today I wore pinstriped pants and a pale pink, short-sleeved sweater, and my hair up in a bun, and someone in Class A said, "Ms C, you look like a ballerina." Someone else chimed in, "Yeah, you do!" I was all, "Thank you?"

Yesterday some of the kids at lunch told me I looked nice, I think because my hair was up. And they sounded surprised when they said it too, which is kind of funny.

Tomorrow is stupid test prep. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Hate the stupid test.

Blah, throat hurts like a motherfucker. Hurts to swallow, and to eat and drink, and the space just under my jawjoint is tender to the touch. BOO HOO! WAAH!! I want to stay home and sleep tomorrow!

I didn't think I was in this shitty a mood. I don't think I even was until I sat down at home and knew that I had a TON of work to do. Just don't want to do it. Lalalala!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Real quick like

Class A was (were? darn you, British FTers!) good today! At least during the writing lesson about point of view/narration, they were quiet and appeared to be listening. Another miracle! Of course, when it was work time, there was talking and goofing and non-work, but at least there was some quiet.

I had a coverage of 8th graders this morning. It was hell, and I hate all eighth graders.

Class B was okay, I believe. Decent for the most part. A group of boys that does no work and only talks and bug each other continued their pattern of nothing-productive-doing.

Class C was only one period, and they were a bit chatty. Of course.

I made a chart listing very quick things about first-person narration and third-person (and yes, they all asked, "where is second-person?" I told them I didn't know. Any teachers out there know and want to enlighten us?), and then an example of describing the same action using different points of view.

The classwork was to practice writing in first-person, so we did "I Confess..." Some good stuff came of it. The homework was to write a short vignette: once in first-person and once in third-person. We'll see if it works. I'll let you know next week when I get around to grading it. Ha!

After school went to QC for our classes. Reading was short and kind of boring and pointless. Social studies was completely pointless. I tuned out rather often and wrote notes back and forth with the cute nice boy (the one who gives me rides home and talks to me and stuff).

The exciting thing I realized today is that I won't be in class for the next two weeks. Next Wednesday night is the second parent-teacher conference night. The Wednesday after that is midwinter break, and I will be, you guessed it, at home in Seattle. Whee! However, I am sad about not seeing cute nice boy and other chums in class.

Is it Friday yet? I am tired, I need to sleep in.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


So out of eleven sets of homework assignments to grade, I got five done. Six left. Plus the three I will get tomorrow. And three on Thursday. OH GOD.

Have I yet mentioned that parent-teacher conferences will be next Tuesday night? Oh, and potential-holdover (not passing sixth grade) letters went out last week, too. Gee, that will be fun. I have TONS of organizing to do. All of my records for the first two quarters of grades were LOST this weekend, so I can't show parents printouts or anything. What I can do is get those homework portfolios put together. And maybe let the kids see them too, so they know that the homework bin is not some innocent-looking black hole from whence their work never resurfaces.

Still not totally sure what lesson I will do tomorrow for writing workshop. I think I'll do first-person voice vs third person, and use an exercise in a book I found about writing a 'confession' in the third person. Then maybe the homework can be to write a third person account of it, more objective and more judgmental or whatever. Sure. Working our way through the elements of fiction, slowly and jerkily and haphazardly but surely.

It's already past ten. Boo! I want to read my book some more! And then sleep in until nine!

Being a grown up sucks ass sometimes.

Steady on, tomorrow is Wednesday

This morning began with an extremely malodorous...person (can you say bum? hobo? homeless person? anything?) on the train. The entire car had a VERY unpleasant aroma. I've never had that experience--that moving down in the car doesn't help. I just shielded my nose with my scarf and it wasn't too bad.

Jess, I blame you for this new internet crack, Goodness gracious.

I really, REALLY need to grade homework. I still have assignments from last week to do. And now two from this week. Tomorrow I won't get anything done at all because of classes. Oh, and if you think I got ANY work done for class, you are totally wrong. If you predicted that I'm a lazy sack of shit when it comes to my own classwork, you are entirely correct.

Ooh, the book orders came in yesterday. At lunch today, some students helped me sort it all. They were so excited, and so was I. I got a giant pile of books, a total of 23 I think, for about $60. Can you believe they have paperback sets of the first five Harry Potter books for twenty-two bucks?! Sweet! On the commute home, I began to read a book called "Goose Chase" by Patrice Kindl. It is fantastic. It's a fairy tale kind of story, with a 'common' and very clever, witty 14-year-old girl central character. I love it already. Go read it if you can.

We did onomatopoeia today. I played my CD with the French song "Comic Strip" for them and had them write down any words they recognized. They heard the onomatopoeias like "pow" and "zip" and "crack". Then I defined the term for them and said that there are an infinite number of onomatopoeias. I wrote a brief vignette in six sets of sentences and they copied them down, including onomatopoeias, then write their own sentences with onomatopoeia. For homework, they will write a one-page story, any subject, with at least five usages of onomatopoeia.

If I must say, it was a perfect writing workshop lesson. A quick minilesson, a workperiod to practice the skill, and homework to further practice and evaluate. Hurrah!

Monday, February 07, 2005

And we're off

Unfortunately I don't mean "we're off" like we're off of school, I meant "we're off" in the sense of racing or whatever. Because the week has started and two weeks from today I'll be chilling at home in the greater Seattle area (and I do mean greater, heh).

Happily, the media player finally kicked into gear and went back to copying CDs in mere minutes rather than hours. I'm working my way through my CD collection, copying it all into this here computer.

Also happily, this thing runs faster and smoother now, without all that extra crap that I'd piled into it in the past two years.

Today we worked on plot. I explained briefly the parts of plot: exposition, conflict, climax, falling action, and resolution. Then we practiced identifying those bits using Disney movies like Aladdin and Lion King. If they had time, they got to come up with a movie or book on their own and identify those parts.

Tomorrow I will do onomatopoeia with them. I'm excited because I have a great French song called "Comic Strip" to play for them. I wrote a little vignette that they will copy and then add in the onomatopoeia. Should be fun for us all.

Class A was okay today. We changed seats and they seemed to be okay. Class B was fine, though rushed a bit. Class C was alright, chatty. Changed seats there too, so some talking problems were solved (these girls that never stop talking were really excited to sit at the front without their friends. hm.), but some new ones were created. So it goes.

At the bus stop this morning, I was finishing up writing in a paper journal about the weekend. This woman came and stood next to me and seemed to be looking over my shoulder, so I moved over a bit. A few minutes later, I put the notebook away into my bag, and she asks me, mouth covered in Dorito crumbs, "Can I borrow your notebook?" And I'm thinking, yeah that's really weird, but maybe she needs a piece of paper. So I ask why. She replies, "Just to read for a bit." "No," I said back with just a touch of are-you-crazy tone. "Oh, okay," as if surprised I shot down her oddball and invasive request.

The weather was decent today. Walking out of school at 5pm, I put on my gloves, but they weren't really necessary. Also, I couldn't even see my breath! It hasn't been 'warm' enough for that in months. Sweet. Like I said, spring seems to be in the air.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

REALLY not my day.

Okay, so I tried to go to sleep at 8pm, feeling proud of myself for prioritizing my rest. So it figures that I couldn't sleep. I felt okay but just wasn't sleeping. And my lower legs are achy, like they've been for the last two weeks. Not a productive combination for nighttime.

So I got up, switched on the tv and tried to wear myself out that way, and also put my feet up. Nothing doing so far. Then I wrote a post, Blogger ate it, and my legs still hurt and I feel boo hoo.

Also, it took two full hours to copy one ten-song CD to media player. RIDICULOUS.

At last---a big night out

So last night I got to have a fun time drinking with new friends. Whee!

Met up at an apartment in Brooklyn for some pre-drinking and chatting. Eventually we left for the big party that we all were going to go to. The train took forever to come, and finally we couldn't wait any longer. All of us needed a bathroom, so we scrapped the party idea and went to a bar around the corner instead.

There were drinks, conversations, laughs, and even some play for little miss Julie. I would go into more detail, but it's not really appropriate. But whee, what fun.

I was up pretty much all night, no real sleep. Got home at 10 this morning, took a nice shower, and then began battling my computer.

I am trying to copy CDs onto my computer, but it is going extremely slowly for some reason. Like molasses. One song has been downloading for almost ten minutes, and it's still at only 75%. Stupid 'new and updated' media player.

Got a lesson plan page typed out, and a worksheet for tomorrow. Vague plans for the next two to three days.

Took a nap for maybe a couple hours. Am totally exhausted. It's almost seven. I might take another shower and get to bed ASAP. So tired.


My computer crashed today. Would not even complete the power-on function. Total meltdown.

So, I had to do the unthinkable: erase the hard drive and restore to default settings (ie, what it was like brand new).

Reinstalling essential programs will be easy. And, I have back ups of almost all my pictures, and some of my documents.

HOWEVER: I did not back up anything in my "teaching" folder in My Documents--that had parent letters, lesson plans, seating chart templates, everything, lost. FUCK.

ALSO: I did not back up any music files! I must have had over 700 songs in my computer, many from CDs, but a good number downloaded too. I will never remember all of them to get them again. GRR.

And, of course, redoing my favorites bites, too. I had tons of sites bookmarked that I don't know if I'll be able to find again, most notably lesson/school-related stuff.

Sucks to be me this morning.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

A moral question

What do you do when it's another person's handwriting on a student's homework? How about if that student's parent is already a pain in your ass? Should I call this parent--the very same one who insists that her son should get to be exempt from the rules--and tell her that I know that her son did not actually write his homework? Because I'm presuming his mom or dad did, it's not his handwriting.


Other than that, it's been a decent day. I slept for a nice ten hours, then dutifully traveled to school to get some work done. I just missed the bus, though, so I walked down the main drag for almost ten blocks. It was most pleasant, the sun was out, the snow was melting, it felt positively spring-like.

Approaching the front door of the school, I saw a group of boys on the front steps. Then I recognized a few of my students from Class A. They seemed to light up and all yelled out, "Ms C!" and two of them came up to meet me. They teased me some more about the janitor, and I shook my finger at them.

In my classroom, I made out some new seating charts. God, I hope they work. I really need to crack down on the movers. I hate that, blatant disregarding of the rules.

I also got work done on the bulletin board. Yesterday the kids who stayed in at lunch were excited to help me out clearing out the old one and helping get stuff ready for the new one. I also had kids keep sorting the books, starting with fiction and nonfiction. It still amazes me how thrilled any kid will be to do something to help, even if it's something crappy like spraying down desks. Weird, but I will work it for all it's worth. Both because it helps them feel good about themselves, and hopefully it builds a bond between us, and because it helps me out. Duh.

Did some other stuff too, but now I gotta run.

Friday, February 04, 2005

And the other side of the room is better now, too. Those crates now hold the notebooks for each table. Isn't that so much friendlier than being precariously stacked on the old computers?  Posted by Hello

The bookcase! Hurrah! Look how neat and organized it all is, immediately tidying up the entire wall of the room. What a relief!  Posted by Hello

Before the bookcase, part 2.  Posted by Hello


Another good day!

My lesson today was word study/play. The 'beginning' group did work with root words and prefixes (easy ones like "un-" and "dis-"), the middle groups unscrambled homophones and used them in sentences, then added prefixes and/or suffixes to a list of root words, and the advanced group made word trees using Latin roots like "aud" and "vid".

Good lord--all the groups (with a few individuals excepting), in all the classes, were engaged and on task most of the time! It was noisy, and I was sure that they were just chatting and goofing around, but sure enough, it was work related!

A MIRACLE, I tell you!

Today I got an unprecedented second coverage for the week. This time it was for Class C, third period. So at least I knew what I was going into, and I used the extra time to my advantage. My 'writing' time today was for rewriting their MLK letters for the bulletin board, so I had Class C do that third period, and told them that if we finished, then eighth period we could do something fun. Well, who doesn't want to do something fun on Friday afternoon?

So after we did the word study, which they seemed to enjoy, we did some MadLibs. It took awhile, because they were quite chatty and I would not let anything continue during the noise. But what a great tool to teach parts of speech, and these kids really need it. We must have had over ten prompts for plural nouns, and every single time, they needed a reminder what that meant. I was patient, though, and prompted them and reminded them, and we eventually got through it. So hurrah for MadLibs, I hope to keep using it as a fun way to help them learn about language.

Before the bookcase.  Posted by Hello

I think I took this one three or four days after the blizzard. It's now been two weeks and there's still lots of snow, but lots has melted too. For the first time today, there was NOT a deadly patch of ice on one of our brick steps. Whee! Posted by Hello

Here is our same walk, right after the blizzard stopped that Sunday morning. That's a good foot of snow blanketing everything. Crazy and pretty, huh? Posted by Hello

This is the view of our walkway, looking out the door. This was the first snow, maybe a month ago. I was excited about it. Ha ha, little did I know!  Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Ants in my pants again

ie, work ADD.

I put on the tape of the shows from this week and half-watched it while typing up test prep stuff and trying to start correcting homework. I have three days' worth to catch up on! Three assignments from three classes...UGH. This situation is one where I'm glad that I don't get homework from every single student. Although this week, numbers seem to be up. Good for them, but bad for me and my personal time. What personal time?

Anyway, I got about halfway through the very first pile (out of NINE) before I decided that I should write my rent check. Then I figured I'd better pay Cingular or they'd cut me off. Now I'm thinking I should get in the shower in time to watch Joey. (Dude, it's habit. I admit that I'm really dumb for watching it. But I'll be taping, not watching, The Apprentice. Yeah, not much saving face here.) But I also needed to upload those pictures from the AmeriCorps entry, and blog about how much I'm procrastinating.

So maybe I'll update later on how much I got done! I really need to get Monday's assignment (letters to Martin Luther King, Jr) corrected, because I will have them rewrite it tomorrow in class so that I can put it up on the bulletin board. There are some really touching ones! Maybe I'll put them up!

Goodness, it's a MIRACLE!

I think I had a pretty good day today!

Let me preface this by saying that Big D is now in PM school (that means students come after regular school lets out and are NOT in regular school), the Asshole has apparently transferred to a different school, and another pain in the ass (the one who got switched from Class A to Class B [not to be confused with the one who got switched from Class A to Class C--that one got expelled]) is also in PM school. That means that the biggest problem-makers are GONE! At least for this quarter. Thus, the classes are the mitest bit easier to manage. Because, of course, there are always more troublemakers.

Let's see. So in Class B, we finished up our rubric for literature circles. They were well-behaved. In fact, Ms J and Ms CT stopped in to check out my library (to supplement stockpiles for other grade literature circles) during that, and later Ms J told me that she was really, really (etc times 8) impressed with how I was doing. Yay! I was so happy to hear that and grateful that she told me.

For writing workshop, I read a short picture book called The Paper Crane, by Molly Bang. While I read, they were to listen for and identify the elements of fiction that I had very briefly defined on a chart. They listened very nicely and identified the elements, EVEN the theme! Fantastic!

I told them that I rated them 'excellent' for both periods on the class sheet that all the teachers are supposed to sign every day. (Those sheets rarely see the eighth period teacher, because all of us forget about them.)

Right after they left, Class A came in for one period. Also, two of the janitors brought in the bookshelf. Hurrah! They had to do that during the class, which meant that the kids wanted to watch and listen to that instead of me.

Now, at some point earlier in the year, Little K and Little C decided that I liked the janitor on my floor. I don't. He's friendly and we chat most days when he comes in after school to clean up. But, eleven-year-olds being what they are, they keep on bugging and teasing.

So, those two were all murmuring about me liking the janitor as the janitors were coming in and out of the room. Then the rest of the class joined in and were all trying to tease me. I was all, "hey, that is NOT true, do not start silly rumors!" and they were all, "Ms C, you're blushing! Your face is all red! It's true, it's true!" Of course it's not true, but they would not believe me. Now, I might not believe beet-red-faced me, either, but I promise you, it's true. I tried to tell them that I am pale-faced and blush easily when confronted, but they didn't care. If anyone puts me on the spot like that, about the Pope or whoever, I'd blush. But the whole class was giggling and I couldn't keep a straight face either. Oh lord. I just hope that they were pleased with seeing me laugh. More likely, they were pleased that the teasing was 'effective' and I won't ever see the end of it.

At lunch, students helped bring the books over from the stupid milk crates and put them in the real bookcase. Hurrah! I am so excited.

Fifth period, which is the one period all week that the room is ALL MINE! BWAH HA HA!, I moved the writing notebooks and reading bags into the six milkcrates. One crate for each table, so that the books for all three classes are in there. This way one student can fetch the crate at the beginning of the period and the transition should be a little easier.

I can't tell you what a difference all this makes in the room! I meant to take pictures today but I forgot, so I will tomorrow. The space is used more efficiently and it's so much tidy in appearance.

Class C was okay. I read The Paper Crane and then we practiced having a literature circle discussion. It was okay, but I really had to push things along. Then for writing, I read it again and they identified the elements. It's funny, they were totally cool with hearing it a second time. One kid wanted to hear it a third time, with the participation questions and everything. Goof.

Last night I went back to school. Boooo. However, there were several people from my class last semester and FA group, including one of the cute and nice boys. That was a relief, to have a friendly face around.
First we have a class on reading. The professor wants to "babysit" and "hold our hand" through the class. Um, yeah, WE'RE not the elementary children, we are their TEACHERS, who are ADULTS. I don't need my hand held. She's all matronly and soft-spoken, and it's kind of annoying. Does that make me a bad person?
The other class is social studies. I think I will like the content, but the teacher might get to be a little much. She talks a lot, about things that aren't really on topic but are about her own books.

The boy gave me a ride home and we talked for a bit, and then I went to bed just before 11.

I was so tired while sleeping. My legs hurt while I was asleep. I was so exhausted when the alarm went off. Waah.

Tomorrow is Friday! I am excited! Not only because it will be the weekend, but because with assistance from Ms J, I put together some fun tasks for test prep tomorrow, about words. I hope to instill in at least some students the excitement of language.

top: Geo, Mandi, me, Seth, Jess, Dez, Ashley. bottom: Brodie, Shannon, Jeopardy, Joe. Just think--on the day this photo was taken, I had no idea who any of these people were. Three years later, I still count them as extended family. Awww.  Posted by Hello

The beautiful bench! Quite impressive, no?  Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Fire 4 is born: AmeriCorps, Chapter 3

So all eighteen teams were newly assembled in the gym. Our team leader was a pixieish blonde from Georgia named Ashley. The other ten of us corps members introduced ourselves. We had six girls and four boys. Three people from Washington, three people from Iowa, two people from Texas, one person from Arizona, and one person from Nebraska. Ages ranged from 18 to 24.

As an icebreaker, we played some kind of body-contact, Twister-type game. That was pretty interesting. Meeting strangers and then joining shins or backsides.

We did not have much time to shoot the shit; we had to sit down for a working lunch. There was a seminar-type thing about banks or loans or some such. We tried to keep getting to know each other while the lady was talking.

Either that day or the next, our team traveled--in our fifteen-passenger van, which we eventually christened Ghetto Booty--across the river to Havre de Grace. There's a lighthouse and park with some historical significance right there. We sat in a circle and shared and 'a-ha' moments and stories. Then we exchanged beads and put them on our ID badge chains. We were still strangers, we were still all quiet and unsure of ourselves, no one knew anyone's name...compared to what we became, that group might as well have been different people altogether. If that makes any sense.

That was the site of our first team picture, in front of the Havre de Grace lighthouse, us all awkward.

This isn't about the team, but let's not forget our first trip grocery shopping. Even something as mundane as getting groceries is an adventure in AmeriCorps! Because our campus is the only one with individual housing, we got special government, non-tax vouchers each week, around thirty-seven dollars a week per person. One or two representatives from each house would ride to the local Klein's grocery store, and then make the rounds with lists and calculators in hand. We could not go over the voucher amount even one penny, so calculators, pen and paper were a must.

The first trip, I was the only one from my house at the store. It was tough shopping for people that have normal food tastes, because I only eat a few things. For example, my roommates requested mayonnaise, and I got miracle whip, because I don't know the difference. Oops. Anyway, my cart was completely full and very heavy, but the seven-person-house teams had two full carts. Yeesh. We all did our own thing in the store, and it was kind of fun to run into new friends in the aisles, comparing prices and products, and getting ideas for what to get. As we checked out, the team leaders (who had to quickly do their own shopping, too) distributed the vouchers and then got vans ready. It was always fun to meet and chat with other corps members and team leaders. We would compare stories about whatever, and just generally relax.

Back to Fire 4: Our first sponsored team-bonding opportunity took place in the next week or so. All the teams gathered on a lawn behind the administrative building. It was cold, we were all bundled up and still a bit awkward with each other. Each team had a wooden pallet, a hammer, crowbar, three nails, and two rubber bands. Our task was to build something with it, in an hour.

We discussed what to do. No one really agreed on one thing or another, so one person just decided to make a bench, because he knew how to. I remember being irritated that there was no attempt at consensus or agreement or anything, and I tried to voice that. (After AmeriCorps is when I finally realized what a pain in the ass I could be and thus calmed down my argumentative side. I was rather a bitch to my team at times.) But after rolling my eyes and crossing my arms, I tried to pitch in what I could. Some of the girls were hanging back and not talking or anything (you two know who you are! shy pretenders!), but the group encouraged everyone to help out and contribute.

Needless to say, it was rather a tough task. We started by taking apart the pallet, separating the boards and salvaging as many of the bent, rusty nails as possible. Not having enough nails was our real problem. I believe we decided to use some kind of lever mechanism. No, that's not right. A hinge? Something where a single nail held two crossed boards together, so that they formed a triangle with each other and the ground. The gravity held it together and down, so it was decidedly unsturdy. The rubber bands were used to hold other pieces down.

We finished in time, and of course by then I was fully psyched about our work. We made a bench! Out of a pallet and rubber bands! It was awesome. We were all proud of our first project, and it sat faithfully on Seth's porch the rest of the year.