Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Baby Mama

Also, I saw Baby Mama yesterday, and hard as I try to be hip (oh, I do, too, try), I just can't say "baby mama". I can try "baby's mama", but that's as far as I can take it. It just doesn't feel like English to this middle-class white girl. I can understand it, though, so if you want to say it, then, by all means, feel free.

Oh, and, if you run into anyone who was at the Riverview last night, I wasn't crying. I got some brewer's yeast in my eye, is all. Sheesh. I'm like a rock. I dare you to make me cry at a movie.

No fair bringing in Corinna, Corinna though. That's just epically sad.

What's New is New Again

I've been working at the same school for five years. It's 17 miles away from my house. I guess some people are OK with a 34 mile round-trip commute. A lot of people would have moved closer, maybe to the suburban wasteland where my school is located. Unfortunately, I'm the kind of person who would type something like "suburban wasteland", so moving closer was never an option for me. I'm also the type of person who felt guilty every time she filled up her car with gas. "Damn it," this type of person thinks, "I'm killing the world, and I'm using up gas, and we don't have that many days left of there being oil in the world, besides which I might as well just be the person dropping bombs in Iraq if I'm going to be using all of this gas." As you might imagine, this type of person doesn't really spend a lot of time enjoying the scenery through her windshield.

I even started hyper-miling, which mostly means that I accelerate as if I don't want to crush the eggs under my gas pedal, and I coast to red lights, hoping they'll turn green before I stop so I don't have to burn energy starting up from a dead stop. Even with the hyper-miling and the 30-mile-per-gallon car, I still had to fill up every week, and the guilt was making me crazy.

On the other hand, it was good for me to work at the same place for more than a year. This is a first for me, you know. Al (good, solid, reliable Al) never worked the same job for more than a year until she found this suburban school. She flitted back and forth between computer science and community work and preschool teaching. She never experienced turn-over as the one staying behind before this job. Always the one leaving, never the one staying. So, yes, it was good for me to see a place change around me, good for me to take on more responsibility as I learned how the place worked. Really good for me to learn the seasonal rhythm of a place.

I ran into a student in the hallway whom I taught this year and also when she was a freshman. She's a super-senior now, so she's been at the suburban school for nearly as long as I have. She handed me a letter thanking me for putting up with her as a freshman (She was pretty challenging back then, but always bright and filled with personality) and thanking me for believing in her until she finally graduated this year. I was glad to have been there long enough to see her come around. If I had known only the freshman, I would have held onto my nagging worry about her, but since I stuck around, I got to see a glimpse of what the grown-up version of her would be like, and she's going to be OK.

Anyway, I was hired at a new job today. A different school, 10 miles away from my house. You have no idea how good it feels to drive 10 miles when your body is used to 17. It feels good to take an exit that used be about half-way to school and know that I can park my conscience 7 miles earlier than I used to. It also feels good to come into a place knowing that I'm competent and that I will find my niche. I have a new place to learn. I can't wait to start.

Also, I have to learn Calculus. Calculus? Yikes. There goes the summer.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Why Crushes are Better than Dates

Crushes never live with their baby's mama (even though they both date other people now). They don't have disturbing relationships with her that involve threatening to take the baby away or calling the cops on each other.

Crushes will be easy to talk to once you get over that stuttering. You'll have so much in common you won't be able to shut up.

Crushes will shave and wear a nice shirt for your date.

So, anyway, that's why my dating moratorium until August is still in effect. And P.S. I'm in the market for a new crush.

Remember Your First Time?

I walked into my fourth hour computer science class towards the end of the year. Granted, a fourth hour computer science class never seems to lend itself to particular diligence and intellectualism, and, yes, it does get worse as the year draws to a close and the weather outside gets nice. Remember, after all, that the computer science classroom houses an unusual number of ninth grade boys. Still, on this particular day, my special trio of yahoos (and I say that with all of the affection in the world), seemed more-than-ordinarily rambunctious. One of them was practically falling out of his chair laughing.

I wasn't in the best of moods. I don't remember why, but it probably had to do with suppressed guilt at procrastinating on grading their web projects. Anyway, before I could snap at the boys to pull themselves together, I flashed back to my own ninth grade year and German class. A kid whose name I've long since forgotten, but whose gawky silliness I still can recall, smiled in the front row, and Herr Larson snapped. He yelled at him for a good minute. "Wipe that ridiculous grin off of your face. You look like a fool." Don't worry. The kid played trumpet in marching band. I'm sure he recovered with self-esteem intact. I, on the other hand, was afraid to smile for the rest of the year. The memory of Herr Larson's red, angry face did its usual trick and I swallowed my impatience with the yahoos' shenanigans. Instead of yelling, I just raised an eyebrow at them, so they'd know I was watching them.

Yahoo#1 (falling apart laughing, barely able to speak): "Sorry. It's just-"

Yahoo #2 (seeing that his friend was unable to continue): "He's not being rude. It's just his first time eating Pop Rocks."

OK. Glad I didn't yell then. Made it easier to laugh at - er, with - the poor kid for nearly choking on the surprising explosions going on inside his mouth.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

School's Out

Way back when I started this blog, it was because I was traveling to Hungary with Habitat for Humanity. I gave myself the trip as a reward for finishing the school year without having a complete nervous breakdown. This was the a place to write down stories from my trip.

Hungary was a reasonable place to go. Most people didn't ask me where it was. They sometimes thought I was going to Turkey, but they accepted that Hungary was a separate country, and they understood that it was in Europe somewhere. On the other hand, almost no one knows where Kyrgyzstan is, and no one can spell it. Still that's where I'm going this year. I leave in less than a month. I just wish I knew something about it - other than that they like to drink fermented mares' milk and sleep in yurts. I guess someone needs a guidebook, now that she doesn't need to haul around all of those teacher's manuals any more...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I spent the weekend coming up with awards. Little things I've noticed about our students, not all of them academic, not all of them all that great, but all of them phrased in as positive a way as I could. I enlisted the help of the other teachers for the ones I couldn't invent myself. Finally I got them all together, typed them into the computer. Youngster put them on fancy paper and made them look official.

We pulled the kids into a circle. Forty-four faces awaited their awards, some of them we've known all year, an unfortunate rarity in our school, which is on a block schedule so most classes only last a semester. I even typed up awards for the teachers, so everyone was included.

We announced the awards. Kids get excited for this kind of thing, even though they are supposed to be too old to be thrilled by a little piece of paper. It's the details they like. The somebody-noticed-me-in-this-great-big-school effect. Kids we never see smile, smiled when they heard their description tied to their name. Heck, the grown-up para got excited when she got hers.

So it was nice. It was perfect, up until it was all over, and some of the kids said, "Hey, what about XXX", the quietest kid in the room. The kid who likes to answer questions with as non-commital a grunt as he can. He didn't have an award. On the spot, I couldn't do it. My well had run dry. I could think of nothing to say. I didn't have one for him. Either his name got skipped or the award got lost, but the quietest, most invisible, kid got nothing on the day that was supposed to be about noticing every single one of them. Damn.

I thought this thing was going to get me into teacher heaven, but it turns out I'm going to Hell after all.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Someone is Wrong on the Internet

Duty calls so I must point out that a mistake has been made. Despite the best efforts of the editors of this here Internet, a bit of hate speech leaked onto the Web. I'm sure it won't happen again.

The object of this hate's me.

"There is nothing more pathetic and… alien… than a pre-menopausal aging childless woman throwing herself headlong into the chaotic vagaries of dating. When a woman doesn’t have children to nurture and raise by her early 30s she morphs rapidly into a sad and tragic creature — a shell entity of raging cynicism that can do no more than go through the motions — that no one wants to be around. Whatever is left of her innate femininity, beauty and sexiness is destroyed to dust by that point."

Sometimes I think that men feel this way, as I walk down the street and smile at a moderately attractive man, and he responds with an off-putting scowl. I think, "He thinks you're a sad, pathetic pre-menopausal woman on the prowl for sperm, and he doesn't want to encourage you with a smile," and then I think, "Oh, Al, you are being melodramatic again. We're in Minnesota. People just don't smile here."

Of course, it could be worse. I could be dating one of them.