Sunday, April 22, 2007

My Students Are Funnier Than Yours

Last week I assigned my TA the tedious task of scanning old documents (of which I have no digital copies) and purging, then recycling, my paper files; I'm moving at the end of the school year and I'll be damned if I'm taking 14 boxes of vocab quizzes with me. Perpetually agreeable, my TA fell to this task with her usual good cheer. At one point she came across a typewritten overhead transparency and asked me what I wanted her to do with it. "Toss it," I answered, to the shock of a nearby student. "Why would you throw away a perfectly good transparency?!" he demanded, plucking it from the trash. "Have you EVER seen me use the overhead?" I countered. Nobody has, not since my first year of teaching.

Why anyone -- let alone a high school student -- would want a used overhead transparency is beyond me, but this kid did. He kept holding it up and laughing. "What the hell is so funny about a transparency," I wondered to myself, even after I noticed that he'd drawn thick, dark wavy lines in its blank spaces.

He kept laughing and I kept wondering. Soon all the kids around him were laughing too, some uncontrollably. (Oh, and PS, was this disruptive to the learning environment? Answer: yes.) I looked more closely at the transparency. "Mustaches? You drew mustaches?" I hypothesized, which only served to move the mirth-o-meter up a few notches. I remained puzzled. I mean sure, mustaches are funny, but not THAT funny. So, "What's so funny about mustaches?" I asked dismissively. My kids were now laughing so hard they were practically falling out of their seats.

And then, finally, I got it. Behold:

"The first mustache is my favorite," Mr. Transparency Plucker announced. "I like the second one better," another kid responded. They examined me, alternating mustaches. "Yeah, if she had a mustache she'd definitely have the second one," Plucker finally agreed, "it's snooty." "You think I'm SNOOTY?!" I demanded. They thought about it for a minute. "Well no. You're smart, not snooty. But most smart people are snooty."

So. What did we learn in class on Thursday? That mustaches are funny. We might also have learned why developing countries just can't catch a break, but I can't be positive. Oh, and I bet those pictures are all OVER MySpace.

Happy Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, here's a picture I took of some turtles the other day:

PS, Is it just me or does it look like two of those turtles are about to get it on?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Clotheshorse Calls It Quits

I'm pleased to announce that my federal tax return has been accepted. What I'm not so pleased about is that this year I owed money. For like the first time ever. Not very much money, but still. And it's not because I made more money either; it's because I fucked up my exemptions.

As you might expect, I've been bitching about this quite a bit. The other night, just as I was about to submit my tax return, my dad said to me, "You know, you could reduce your tax owed to zero if you contributed to an IRA," which sounded fabulous to me even though I don't know shit about IRAs. "Uh, okay," I responded, "how does that work?" I'm not sure why I asked the question; I totally tuned out the answer and waited while my dad cruched some numbers. "That's cool," I thought to myself, "I'll just put the $246 I owe in an IRA and that will be that. Even steven." But alas. "If you put $1500 in an IRA, your tax owed would be zero," my dad finally announced.


I laughed. Then I gave my dad my best are-you-fucking-kidding-me face. "You don't have $1500?" he scolded. "Um, no. I absolutely do not have $1500." "Don't you have a savings account?" he asked. "Of course I have a savings account," I answered indignantly. "Well, how much do you have in it?" my dad pressed. "At the moment? 67 cents," I said, "but I have a LOT of cute outfits."

And I do. I like having cute outfits. I like it so much that instead of saving money I hang it in my closet in the form of gauzy t-shirts and olive drab chinos and drapey skirts. Which is stupid for approximately 8012 reasons. For starters, I don't NEED any more clothes. I am currently in possession of enough cute outfits to last me years. Also, I'm 31, I could probably use a savings account. Not to mention the fact that some people can't afford dinner yet I find it necessary to own FIVE pairs of nearly identical pants.

I don't like this about myself. I don't like constantly wanting stuff I don't need. I don't like caring about something as silly as t-shirts. I don't like that I'm spending more money than I should be, and I certainly don't like the business practices of many of the companies I shop with.


I will not buy new clothes for the next six months. Starting now. Sure I could say a year, but let's not kid ourselves here. Also, there's a swimsuit exception: I'm allowed to buy a new swimsuit this summer. Maybe two. But that's it. No new clothes.

There is, however, nothing in the rules that would prevent other people from buying me new clothes. Just sayin'.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ut Prosim

In the wake of this morning's shootings at Virginia Tech, President Bush reminded us that "schools should be places of safety and sanctuary and learning. When that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom and every American community." For once I agree with him.

I actually didn't know anything was amiss in Blacksburg today until late in the morning when my students started receiving text messages from friends and older siblings at Tech. "Can we turn on CNN?" once typically tough guy asked me anxiously. "Why would we do that?" I wondered. "Look at this text I just got from my sister," he answered, explaining the situation as he handed me his phone. "Dougie, I'm scared. 20 people are dead," I read.

And I didn't turn on the TV, but I have spent most of the day doing something I ordinarily hate: tracking the news in the hopes of receiving some actual news. I've watched the death toll climb from one to thirty-three and noted the headlines growing increasingly sensational -- the shooting of 11 AM is now a mass-murder, a bloodbath, and a rampage in which the victims were not shot or killed but massacred and slaughtered. I've quickly grown disgusted with folks on both the left and the right who seem to care about this act of violence only for the fodder it provides for the gun control debate. I've thanked my lucky stars I'm not a Hokie parent awaiting word on my kid and blinked back tears as I've remembered those who are.

Of course, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Virginian who doesn't know somebody at Tech, so I've also sent emails to beloved former students asking if they're okay. I really hope they are. But even if my kids are okay, somebody else's aren't.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Back In The Saddle

I've been accused of "Family Circus"-like lameness by a disgruntled fan (namely my boyfriend), chastised by CP for my complete absence from the blogosphere, and implored by Lulu (via top secret email) to get rid of Jeffy or Billy or whoever that is because "his sorry little ass" is just too depressing. So fine. Here's a post. I can't guarantee that it will be any good, but at least it'll get Billy's lame little towhead out of sight.

Randy hypothesized that the steamy romance with my (disgruntled?) boyfriend was perhaps sucking the creativity out of me, but that's definitely not the case; I feel just as creative as ever. Hell, I have a veritable shit-ton of blog material kicking around in my brain, and a plethora of stupid letters to the editor stacked next to the computer awaiting my response. But here's the thing: blogging is something I do more as an outlet for myself than as a means of entertaining others. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE that people both read and respond to what I write -- and that's certainly part of my motivation (otherwise I'd just keep a journal) -- but the ole' blog is not something I really want to feel obligated to keep up with.

Plus, check out all the cool stuff I've been doing lately during times I might otherwise have devoted to crafting lengthy (but witty) posts:

1. Spent a weekend at the beach with my sister and several girlfriends from our middle school years. We drank a lot.

2. Saw My Brightest Diamond and The Decemberists, the best show I've seen in quite some time. If you get a chance to see either band live, GO! I meant to post about just how awesome said show was but then I got sidetracked doing other cool stuff. Fortunately, this person was not too busy to detail the awesomeness and this person (from whom I swiped the above photo) was not too busy to post some great pictures.

3. Spent a couple afternoons wandering around the city taking my own cool pictures. Which means I've recently updated my Flickr site.

4. DC Cherry Blossom Festival, which included visits to both the FDR Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial. Of course. Oh, and about 14 tramillion tourons, none of whom understand how to use the Metro despite its complete lack of complication.

5. Introduced the family to the boyfriend over dinner (and plenty of beer) at our friendly neighborhood seafood dive. It went smashingly.

6. Languished on the beach with said boyfriend for a week.

7. Read two books: A Girl Named Zippy, which was fine, and The Bell Jar, which was considerably more than fine.

8. Introduced the boyfriend to my NoVa friends over dinner and plenty of beer at our friendly neighborhood brewery.

9. Spent the weekend with my sister and her boyfriend. We drank a lot.

So there you have it. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Which means I guess I'll start posting again. . .

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


At this point, Megan is approaching a lameness of "Family Circus"-proportions with her utter lack of posts, don't you agree?

A Disgruntled Fan