Monthly Archives: September 2008

Tomatoes just don’t go there


So my son did something I thought only happened on cheesy family sitcoms. He put food in the VCR.

I’ve heard a great many myths about kids and their antics, and I always thought the stories I’d heard about kids “feeding” the VCR was something off of Full House or Everybody Loves Raymond. I don’t actually remember it happening on Full House, but the show was wacky enough…it probably happened after I stopped watching (sadly, it wasn’t until Uncle Jesse and Becky’s kids were toddling around). I’ve never actually seen an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, but just from the commercials alone it seems like the kind of show were kids are likely to stick a grilled cheese in the VCR.

But my son proved it is not the stuff just sitcoms are made of. He took two cherry tomatoes from our neighbor’s yard (she is kind enough to let him stuff himself on her extra ones), and after walking around with them for a good twenty minutes, came inside and deposited them straight into our VCR. Luckily the only use the machine sees on a regular basis is being turned on so we can watch DVDs. Still, my husband was momentarily perplexed as to how to get the little boogers out of the VCR. They rolled right out of reach.

So, after my son went to bed, he unhooked everything (with a few swear words as he had to move the DVD rack and try to figure out which of the web of wires behind the TV belongs to the VCR. The tomatoes were out in minutes, it gave us both a huge laugh, so I guess in the end, no harm was done. Considering one of my good friend’s sons put an entire waffle, complete with syrup into hers (and this was about 10 years ago when she used it all the time), I got off very lucky.

Kids are so weird!

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Filed under food, motherhood, my son, ramblings, TV, what makes me me

Band directors, education’s narcissists

Today during my prep I ran down to the office to check my mailbox. I was a bit thirsty, so I decided to swing into the copy room and grab a drink from the water cooler. When I walked into the room I saw our band director sitting, apparently waiting for copies. I don’t know him very well, but said hi. He tried to make random small talk about the day. I made a generic TGIF comment (without using the letters) and he retorted with, “yes, for you I guess that is good. I have a 13 hour day with the kids tomorrow.” I didn’t quite know what to say, so I responded with something like, “oh yeah, I had plenty of those when I used to do drama.” Then I said a quick goodbye and left the room.

When I got into the hall, I started to realize the snottiness in the comment. It’s not the first time he’s made some sort of comment about his “superior dedication” or his “amazing time commitment” to the school. In fact, usually when I bump in to him, he manages to bring up one or the other. The implication is clearly that I am lucky to be just a teacher who puts in her 7 hours a day and gets to go home. The implication is that when I leave the building at 3:15, I spend the rest of my evening (and weekends) lounging around in front of the TV or hopping from one wild bacchanal to the next while he is stuck at a practice, a football game or a contest.

This seriously pisses me off. After I had a moment to ponder his little “poor me” comment, I had a bunch of comebacks for him. I realized, however, that running back into the copy room to shout something at him probably wouldn’t be the mature way to handle my anger (or productive since he’d think I was a freak) and instead fumed silently. Until now.

What I should have retorted back was, “yeah, that sucks, but the thirteen hours you’ll be at school doesn’t compare to the 10 or so hours I’ve already spent this week and the 10 or more I’ll spend this weekend grading.” Or I could have responded with, “wow, that sucks. That’s probably why in addition to your salary you also get stipends for a gazillion extra-curricular bands that almost doubles my pittance.” I could have also pointed out that the private music lessons he gives after school (using school resources) for which he receives an exorbitant hourly rate must be nice considering the rest of us have to help our students improve on our own time for free. I could have reminded him that I’m teaching an extra class and not getting paid one extra cent. I chose to take on the grading hassle of newspaper as a benefit to my students for all their hard work and dedication, even though the school is still only paying me the same tiny stipend they always have. I might have also chimed in that while I don’t spend my 13 hour days on the weekend, I still do have them, at least twice a month during deadline time.

But of course, I didn’t. As usual, I didn’t think of all this until after the fact. Next time though, I’m armed. I don’t care if it does make me stoop to his level. Sometimes I just get sick of being the bigger person.

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Filed under bad people, life as a teacher, pet peeves, ramblings, what makes me me

A fallen teacher

This afternoon I got an email from my father. It was a link to a newspaper article from back home. It seems that in addition to burying Galveston and parts of Huston under water and producing a hellacious wind storm yesterday, Ike has ravaged the Northwest part of the state as well. In its wake it left at least one man I knew dead. There’s a good chance he won’t be listed as one of the hurricane’s casualties, but it was because of the storms and flooding left over from Ike that he, and his father, lost their lives.

Mark Thanos, my high school journalism teacher and yearbook advisor, heard a young boy crying for help. He and his father, jumped in to  help the boy who was being pulled into a flooded culvert under the street. The boy, was thankfully washed onto the shore of the ditch, but Mr. Thanos and his father weren’t found for another 30 minutes, and by then it was too late.

I’m not going to put on some fake show and say he was the reason I became a teacher. He didn’t even inspire me toward journalism, except that he sponsored the yearbook and gave me an outlet for my writing. I took his class for three years while it was combined with the newspaper program. When they were separated my senior year, I opted for newspaper. I liked the “hard hitting,” fact finding of the high school newspaper far more than the perpetually upbeat recounting of club events and dances. While he wasn’t the direct inspiration on my teaching, he was a nice guy who made me enjoy class. He always had positive feedback, even for the most obnoxious kid in the class (and we had plenty of those). He took our ribbing and goofing off in good humor, because he taught us it was ok as long as we still made our deadlines. He wasn’t any sort of expert on journalism, just an English teacher they stuck with a yearbook class, but he tried. He really tried.

Although I am saddened by his death, I am not at all surprised he died trying to save someone else, especialy a child. He was a good man. Even though I haven’t thought about him for a dozen years or so (except briefly when shown old yearbook photos), I miss him. He was a good teacher.

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Filed under bad days, life as a teacher, my childhood, ramblings, what makes me me

Cake thieves deserve to be boiled in oil

In my ten or so years of teaching I’ve heard several of my colleagues complain about having things stolen at school. Almost all of us have had pens and pencils swiped from our desks when we weren’t looking. Some have had staplers, hole punches and scissors disappear as well. A surprising number of my female co-workers have had money stolen from their purses (one actually had her entire purse stolen), which astounds me. Not because I don’t think teens are capable of stealing. I know they are. I guess I was just spoiled by my first teaching job. I was at a school where I felt so safe and trusted my students so much that not only did I not lock my purse up, I actually left it sitting on the floor next to my desk in my office all day, even though I spent less than two hours in my office, my door was unlocked and the office filled with students at every moment. I actually think that is why nothing ever went missing. Enough students really liked me that had anyone even attempted to take something out of my purse, they would have been ratted out (albeit privately) in a heartbeat. Plus it’s not like I ever really had cash on me anyway.

Still, when I moved to Florida and had kids constantly in and out of my classroom due to their time spent in lock-up, I started moving my purse to secure cabinets and drawers. I’ve kept the practice up at my new school. First in my cabinet and then when I got a class of real jerks last year, I moved it to my lockable filing cabinet. Nothing has ever gone missing though…until today.

And the sad thing is that it wasn’t a kid who stole from me…it was a teacher.

Yesterday I took a cake in to share with my lunch time friends. Since the fridge in my classroom is of the mini variety, I took the cake, which was securely wrapped in foil, to the teacher’s lounge and stuck it in the fridge. We didn’t get around to eating it because a representative from Costco came in (trying to sell memberships) and brought a giant cake and several packages of cookies with him.

Today when I pulled the cake out of the fridge I noticed the foil looked funky, like someone had been poking at it. Sure enough, when I opened it, I found that not only had someone opened it, but he/she/they had taken almost half of the cake. To add insult to injury, they’d taken all of the yummy center pieces. They had to dig cake out to leave just the edges.

Needless to say, I was very pissed off. Our faculty is usually pretty good about sharing. Whenever I bring a treat in for my lunch friends, I offer whatever is left to those in my lunch. If no one wants it, I leave it on the tables for the next lunch. So do tons of other people. However, my cake had no such note on it, and was tucked away in the fridge. It was obviously homemade. Someone (and I’m guessing several someone’s from the empty pan) knowingly went in and took what was not theirs. And I’ll be honest, I just don’t get it.

Why take something that isn’t yours? Especially if you are a teacher at the school and you know it has to belong to a co-worker? People store treats for their classes, items for celebrations and on rare ocassions, student food in there. Why take it?

I was so upset I sent a polite, but pointed email out to the school. I know I’ll probably never find out who ate my cake. The email really wasn’t about that. It was more about wanting people to know that what they’d done was unacceptable. Which I suppose was a bit pointless. They knew what they were doing was wrong. I just can’t believe teachers, who bitch and moan about how students take no responsibilities for their actions, would do something so underhanded and rude.

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Filed under bad days, bad people, food, life as a teacher, pet peeves, problems with society, what makes me me

My newest waste of free time

The last few weeks things have been ridiculously busy. The honeymoon of the new school year is over and suddenly I find myself with more work to grade and lessons to plan then I feel I have the time for. I’ve currently got one set of AP essays sitting on the floor of my classroom next to my desk. They are on the floor so as not to confuse them with all the other essays on my desk. And those are in addition to the stack of AP essays in my take home folder for “immediate” grading and the teetering pile of AP summer work stacked atop of my overhead projector waiting for my perusal. Good thing I almost never use transparencies. And that’s just my AP class. We won’t even talk about the two essays for film lit (or the one kids are writing their second draft of, due to be turned in on Friday) or my remedial English class, which doesn’t have hard work to grade, but since they don’t get it, it is very time consuming.

This is not, as it appears, a pity me party (although please, feel free to pity me. Heck, offer to grade for me, or to take me out to dinner so I don’t have to cook. Or to just buy me something pretty to make me feel better). No, this is about the newest way I’ve found to waste those few precious few moments of free time I’ve had (or manufactured…I’ll admit, I did nothing of value Saturday night…and in a moment you’ll see why).

It hasn’t been on my blog or even catching up on the myriad of blog entries my more concientous friends have written. It hasn’t been snuggling on the couch with my husband watching disk 2 of Dexter (although not for trying…apparently Netflix doesn’t want me to have it). My stolen moments of irresponsibility have been spent in front of this very computer screen…playing a video game.

I know, I know, it’s a waste of time. But I couldn’t help myself. I had to run in to Target last week to pick up a few items. While searching for the rechargeable batteries, I stumbled across the computer game section. And right there on the end cap was a Sims expansion pack I didn’t have: Free Time. That’s right, the few spare moments of free time I have had have been spent not on bettering myself, but on bettering little simulated computer created people. Instead of learning how to fix various items around my house, I’m making one of my Sim teenagers tinker with everything in sight. Rather than going out and exploring nature myself, I’m letting a Sim child hunt for bugs (and get chased by bees…in that respect I think I come off the winner). No studying cooking or making fancy dinners for me. Nope, I leave that to my Sim mom. And sports, forget it (for many reasons). I have another Sim teenager who can care about the big game.

The irony of spending my free time playing Free Time is not lost on me. Yet somehow I cannot pull myself away. Even now, just looking at that enticing purple box sitting open on the desk next to me, I am compelled to play. Sure, I have essays to grade, clips to find for film lit and a ton of reading to catch up on. But there is a huge part of me that wants to pop in the disk and make my Sim students do their homework, my Sim mom read a book and a Sim child watch a movie instead.

That’s really wrong, isn’t it?

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Filed under addictions, bad days, entertainment, life as a teacher, products, ramblings, what makes me me

A labor-free wekeend

I know it’s Labor Day weekend and that means I’m supposed to be refraining from labor in some sort of remembrance to, well, I guess important people who have labored in the past. While I’m all for an extra day off of work, I also look forward to three day weekends to get some actual work done. This year though, I have accomplished very little. Not that I’m complaining, because it has been fun. More like I’m disappointed in myself because I know I’m making my life sans holiday much, much harder.

On Friday night I was so exhausted from a really rough work (newspaper deadline, department meetings, three sets of essays, quizzes, etc) that I said to hell with everything else. It was just me and the munchkin, so I microwaved some leftovers for dinner, played with him for a little while, put him to bed and vegged on the couch. I watched several episodes of Corner Gas (a Canadian TV show that is quirky, inoffensive and amusing to me–like most of Canada). I was in bed by 10:30 because I was tired and knew I’d have to get up with my son.

Saturday wasn’t very productive for me either. It started off early enough (7 am), but all my energy was spent on chasing my son. We ran some errands and he fell asleep in the car , which is always bad because it means he doesn’t take a regular nap. I had about an hour to myself while he was in his crib babbling to himself, but during that time I got one load of laundry done and some reading for my class. I knew I wouldn’t get anything done Saturday night because I went out to help celebrate a dear friend’s birthday. I’m definitely not complaining, because it was fun to go out for tapas and see a movie, even if it was the worst movie of the year, Death Race.

I don’t even think there are words to describe how bad this movie is. The plot is non-existent. The characters are all unmotivated. The dialogue is a joke. It is the biggest pile of steaming shit I have witnessed on the big screen in a really, really long time (rivaled by Ghost of Mars, another birthday movie choice of the same dear friend). If you don’t believe me, go see the movie. Then we’ll see who shits on the sidewalk.* I knew the movie was going to be bad. It’s tradition to watch the worst new movie of the summer as punishment for being his friend. I just didn’t realize how horrid it would be. Still, even a bad movie is fun with the right friends and a full belly of amazing tapas.

Sunday was also spent in the pursuit of fun. My husband was back home, and since I’d had two days with the monkey (our nickname for the little one), it was his turn. I got to go work out, have lunch and see another, much better, although still awkward at times, movie…Hamlet 2. I got home and had a headache, so I spent the remainder of my evening on the couch, nursing my aching head and playing with my son. We finished our evening with The Orphanage and I was in bed by 10:30.

Today I’ve actually gotten a modicum of work done. I finally swept and mopped my kitchen (it really, really needed it), got a load of baby laundry put away and two other loads finished. I even wrote a quiz for my Film Lit kids because I know they haven’t been reading “The Body” like they should be. I felt slightly productive, until I went to Half Price Books and then to work out. I made up for it a bit by coming home and cooking dinner (and not from a box either, all from scratch). And I know that when I finish this blog I’ll have to kick it in to high gear and actually get some grading done. I’m not looking forward to it, but I knew I would have to labor on this sacred anti-laboring day.

I don’t want this blog to end.

*I realize this is only mildly amusing to people who have seen this movie, but I just couldn’t ignore the worst line in the movie.

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Filed under entertainment, food, life as a teacher, my friends, my son, ramblings, TV, what makes me me