Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Exactly How Windy Are We Talkin'?

I'll be in Chicago (freezing my ass off) for the rest of the week. . .

Friday, December 22, 2006

Gifts I Received From Students

Most high school students do not give Christmas gifts to their teachers, and my students are no exception. There are, however, always a few kids (usually girls) who do. Yesterday I received some baked goods and a number cards with sweet little notes in them. One of the cards, from three girls I taught last year, came taped to an envelope that was too small for it and included this PS: "A riddle: How many blondes does it take to buy an envelope big enough for the card?" More than three, I guess. Anyway, two other girls from last year gave me a tote bag ("for carrying around those papers you never grade") they'd decorated with postcards from their travels ("hope it shows your Geo pride! The Amish and whatnot are cultural!").

In addition to that stuff, I also received this

and this

and my personal favorite. . .

a crazy cat lady action figure! Which, you'll note, comes with six cats, not including the cats hiding in her coat.

Have I mentioned I love my kids?

On The First Day Of Christmas Vacation. . .

I have a hangover, about a billion things to do before I leave to go visit my parents, a 3 to 4 hour drive, and a party to be at by 7:00. Shit.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

In Response To A Letter To The Editor, Vol. IX

To the Editor:

Personal trainers are the folks you pay to get you in shape, keep you on track and help prolong your life. They are in the service industry just like waitresses and bartenders, but we don't think to tip them at this time of year.

So in the spirit of giving this season, surprise your personal trainer with a tip (usually a week's pay) and make their day. I will.

--Cindy, Virginia Beach

To Cindy:

Thanks for the great idea!

I was going to suggest that in the spirit of giving this season, folks with extra cash -- you know, the kind of folks who can afford something as decadently asinine as a personal trainer-- donate to a worthy cause. I'm partial to America's Second Harvest and Heifer International, although if I spend too much time with my mom I'll also write an occasional check to the Alzheimer's Association out of sheer desperation. These organizations, along with many others, are working hard to alleviate all sorts of suffering.

But you know what they're not doing? Keeping my ass in shape.

That's why I'm glad you have a better handle on this whole "spirit of giving" thing than I do. While I would have urged people to celebrate Christmas by trying to eradicate hunger, you've reminded us of the spiritual benefits associated with tipping the guy who helps us lose weight.

I do have a question though: is one week's pay enough? Wouldn't two weeks' pay be more generous and therefore MUCH more Christmas-y? Think about it.

--Megan, Norfolk

Funny Things My Students Have Said Recently

"Uh, we took a group vote? And Chapter 10 is bogus." (to explain why he wasn't doing his work)

"America is for AmeriCANS, not AmeriCAN'Ts." (purely to annoy me, I think)

"Hey, you're a fan of the things that are weird. . ." (prefacing a question about karma)

"Are you EVER gonna get married?!" (completely out of the blue)

"Dude, the Christians OWNED the First Crusade!" (during a discussion about Islam)

All The Cool Kids* Are Doing It

Plus I don't have time to think up something substantive. . .

You are The Lovers

Motive, power, and action, arising from Inspiration and Impulse.

The Lovers represents intuition and inspiration. Very often a choice needs to be made.

Originally, this card was called just LOVE. And that's actually more apt than "Lovers." Love follows in this sequence of growth and maturity. And, coming after the Emperor, who is about control, it is a radical change in perspective. LOVE is a force that makes you choose and decide for reasons you often can't understand; it makes you surrender control to a higher power. And that is what this card is all about. Finding something or someone who is so much a part of yourself, so perfectly attuned to you and you to them, that you cannot, dare not resist. This card indicates that the you have or will come across a person, career, challenge or thing that you will fall in love with. You will know instinctively that you must have this, even if it means diverging from your chosen path. No matter the difficulties, without it you will never be complete.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

*The cool kids being Flannery, Lulu, and Vikki. And maybe some others whose blogs I haven't checked lately.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I've Always Wondered What To Serve With Chicken Noodle Soup

At the beginning of every school year I have a conversation with my students about what kind of environment they learn best in and what they need from me in order to learn. Inevitably, the kids mention something about liking to listen to music while they work, which is good since I myself can barely function without music. So whenever the kids work on something in class -- like a map, for example -- we have music playing in the background. Sometimes we listen to my music (lately it's been last month's Paste CD sampler) and sometimes we listen to theirs. I reserve the right to veto anything I don't like.

Recently I vetoed one of their favorite songs: "Chicken Noodle Soup." If you work with teenagers or have a thing for horrible music, you've probably already heard the chicken noodle soup song. If not, you'll need to listen below before we continue.

Alrighty then. So you can see why I vetoed it.

"This is awful!" I said as I watched my kids dance in their seats. "It doesn't even make any sense." "Naw," one of my kids disagreed, "it's about when you're sick and you eat chicken noodle soup. With, like, a ginger ale. Makes you feel better." "Well, what's up with the crap about 'let it rain. . .and clear it out' then?" I asked, making rain motions with my hands. My kids just shrugged and kept on chicken noodle souping.

So now I guess I have to do a whole lesson about minstrel rap, which I guaran-damn-tee you will not be on the state exam at the end of the year. But still. It's my duty as an educator, right?

Right. So let it rain. And clear it out. And then maybe break out your old Tribe Called Quest records.

Bringing Righteous Indignation Back

Melissa, one of my favorite bloggers, disappointed her adoring fans when she closed up shop last June. However, I am happy to report that she is back. Melissa is intelligent, witty, tons of fun, and not at all shy. I've added her blog, This is it? Seriously?, to my blogroll and I'm sure you'll like her as much as I do. She'll probably kick your ass if you don't.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Here's a picture of tonight's sunset.

If I hadn't taken time out from working to watch the sunset from my classroom window, I might have actually been able to post something tonight. Or, better yet, get some sleep.

Monday, December 11, 2006

MySpace, Revisited

My students, as you may recall, like to make fun of me for A) having a cat, B) not having a MySpace, and C) thinking reading's cool. One class in particular makes daily jokes about my presumed status as a crazy cat lady, and has even gone so far as to decorate the class tissue box with cat-related grafitti.

This morning we had the following conversation while cramming for an impending quiz:

Kid 1: What'd you do this weekend? Read?

(collective laughter)

Me: Um, I read the newspaper. And some websites.

Kid 2: Like what?

Me: Oh, I was all UP in some MySpace this weekend!

Kid 1: You on MySpace now?

Me: No. I was kidding.

Kid 2: You need to get a MySpace!

Me: (for like the eighty-twelfth time) Why?

Kids 1, 3, 4, 5, & 6: So you can meet a man!

Kid 2: (quietly) Instead of a cat.

(collective laughter)

Me: Maybe I already met a man. Did you ever think of that?

Class: Whoa! DID you already meet a man?!

Me: I'm just sayin' it's a possibility.

Kid 1: See, if you were on MySpace everybody would KNOW you met a man.

Me: How would they know?

Kid 2: 'Cause you'd have pictures up there of you, like, kissin' him and stuff.
Actually, I wouldn't. Here, however, is a picture of me kissing my cat.

Admittedly, a man would probably be a bit more receptive to my kisses. But I'd have to feed him more often.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Crush Chronicles

Shortly before Thanksgiving, WonderTurtle tagged me to write about my childhood crushes, which I'm just now getting around to doing, having been fairly preoccupied with a certain adulthood crush.

Although WonderTurtle and Coaster Punchman both remember having crushes as early as the age of four, my first memorable crush was on Jon Black in the fifth grade. Jon Black was a short blonde boy who lived next door to me. We attended some sort of after-school recreation program together which, as I recall, mostly involved eating mentos, playing on the playground, and -- if you had a boyfriend -- kissing him behind the portables. As it turned out, Jon Black had a crush on me too, and he asked me if I wanted to go out with him. Of course I wanted to go out with him, but I was also the world's biggest goodie goodie so I told him I'd have to ask my mom first. "Where are you gonna go?" inquired my mom. "No, Mom, we're not gonna GO anywhere. He's just gonna, like, be my boyfriend" I tried to explain. "Your boyfriend?!" said my mom, "You're ten. You're not allowed to date until you're 16." Which is pretty much what I told Jon Black while my younger sister, to whom it never would have occurred to ask permission, looked on shaking her head and rolling her eyes at my stupidity. I've often wondered whether my mom's answer would have been different had the favorite pastime of Jon Black's four older brothers not been shooting our dog, but I have never repeated the mistake of sharing the details of my love life with her.

In the sixth grade there was David Kerr, who my friends called "chipmunk cheeks." I have no idea what I liked about David Kerr except, perhaps, that his name was David. (It became apparent later in life that I had a thing for Davids.) But in the sixth grade I liked David Kerr so much that I went to school on days I would have ordinarily faked sick. I often pretended to be sick so that I wouldn't have to go to school, not because I didn't like school but because I didn't like waking up. My mom's rule was that if you didn't go to school, you didn't get to do anything AFTER school -- a reasonably good way to determine whether you were faking or not. On one particular Friday that I'd decided to fake sick my mom reminded me of A) the rule and B) the 5th and 6th grade roller skating party that night. After considerable internal debate I decided to go to school so that I could go to the roller skating party where, for sure, David Kerr would ask me to skate with him. He didn't.

In the eighth grade I fell for Jeff, whose wardrobe consisted entirely of Polo and who NEVER did his Latin homework. I was enamored of Jeff for all of eighth and ninth grade and into the beginning of tenth, until I learned that my best friend had gone to the mall with him -- even though she knew I liked him (!), at which point I (temporarily) stopped speaking to both of them. To be fair to her, my best friend only went to the mall with Jeff to make HIS best friend jealous and they (my best friend and Jeff's best friend) are now happily married.

Somewhere in here, although I'm not sure where, was a summer crush on Dave Kelley (see? another David). Dave was an out-of-town friend of my sister's boyfriend Ryan, and his family spent a couple weeks visiting Ryan's family at the beach. Dave was tall and goofy and nice. We sat around at bonfires and went for walks on the beach (ha!) and I think he might have even held my hand. His mom told my mom that he'd gotten some Garfield stationery so that he could write me letters when he went home. I don't think he ever did.

In the tenth grade there was Mike Elkins. *sigh* Mike had long black hair (not black like mine, which is actually dark brown, but black like "quoth the raven 'nevermore'"), painted black fingernails, and approximately three outfits: jeans and a Jane's Addiction t-shirt, jeans and a Danzig t-shirt, and jeans and a Screaming Trees t-shirt. He thought school was pointless and refused to dress out for PE, choosing instead to sit quietly on the gym floor reading Steinbeck or Hemingway or Sylvia Plath and talking to me about politics and religion. As much as it's possible to love someone when you're 15, I loved Mike Elkins.

My junior year in high school I moved from Virginia Beach to the suburbs of DC and developed a crush on Bryce (collective groan), who was also new to school. Bryce was bad. I say that now with a great deal of hindsight, but even then Bryce was bad. My eleventh grade crush on Bryce faded when he got arrested for grand larceny (because, really, a girl's gotta draw the line somewhere), but returned in the twelfth grade after we played Trivial Pursuit together and he asked me to marry him when I correctly answered a question about acetylsalicylic acid (ah, dork love). Bryce and I spent most of our senior year hanging out but not actually dating, due in no small part to a probably-true rumor that he'd bet his best friend he could sleep with me before graduation. A bet he lost, by the way -- I was 17 and saving myself for true love.

I have, like, three more Daves to go, but we're beyond a crushes now so I'm stopping. Anybody else wanna play? Meaghan? Lulu? Chris? Flannery? Big Orange? It's fun. You know, until you're 15 or so.

Overheard At J.Crew

Teenaged girl with hot pink ribbon around her ponytail: (petulantly) I wish I knew what my mom's getting me for Christmas so I'd know what not to buy myself.

Teenaged girl with light pink ribbon around her ponytail: I give my mom, like, a whole LIST and then she buys me, like, something ELSE.

Teenaged girl with hot pink ribbon: What a bitch. (in all seriousness)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This Just In: Pot Calls Kettle Black

I read last week about Jim Webb's unsuccessful attempt to avoid our current president at the White House reception for newly elected members of Congress. Aside from being grateful that we elected Webb instead of that jackass George Allen, I really didn't spend much time thinking about the event until I saw this piece by the perpetually-pompous George Will a few days later.

Although I think he's an intelligent man and an excellent writer, I try not to read George Will's columns, as they invariably piss me off. It's not that I disagree with him, though I often do, it's that I think he's a snooty elitist. But he's a snooty elitist who can usually put together a cogent argument.

Not so much with this column.

Let's start with paragraph two:

Wednesday's Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb "tried to avoid President Bush," refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "I'd like to get them [sic] out of Iraq." When the president again asked "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "That's between me and my boy."
If you read Wednesday's WaPo, you know that Will's representation of the exchange between Webb and Bush is inaccurate at best, and deliberately misleading at worst. What Bush said in response to Webb's "I'd like to get them out of Iraq" was not a simple repetition of his initial question. Bush first said, "That's not what I asked you," and THEN repeated his question. Kinda changes the whole tone of the conversation, dontcha think?

Will goes on:
Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency.
(You know, I can't get too excited about this. It's not like Bush has treated his office with much respect.)
Webb's more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being -- one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another.
A civil and caring question, as one parent to another?! Give me a fuckin' break.

First of all, you don't get to send a bunch of kids to die in a war for which you manufactured justification and then ask their parents how they're doing. If you gave a shit about the troops you wouldn't have gotten them into this mess in the first place.

More importantly, "how's your boy fighting my war in Iraq?" is not a question the president can ask simply "as one parent to another." Bush, like most of the ruling class, does not have children on the front lines of this or any other war. Although Webb's son is truly a volunteer, he is an exception. The kids who enlist in the military tend to be the kids with limited options, as John Kerry so ineloquently attempted to point out. I'm sure parenting the sorority twins is not without its tribulations, but I doubt the Bush family lies awake at night worrying about the same things the families of our soldiers on the ground in Iraq do. Bush asked this question as a politician, not a parent.

George Will calls Webb "a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language," and advises him that "in a republic, people decline to be led by leaders who are insufferably full of themselves." Thankfully, we can also decline to read their snooty little columns.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Single And Lookin'?

Forget Match.com and eHarmony! Sean Hannity -- everyone's second-favorite Fox "News" personality -- offers an online dating service, Hannidate, the place where people of like conservative minds can come together to meet. Now certain bloggers who are always bitching about how hard it is to meet cool women really have no excuse.

I, however, doubt I'll meet anyone on Hannidate, as there are exactly zero men between the ages of 18 and 80 seeking women within a 100 mile radius of my zipcode.

And they say Virginia's a red state.