Saturday, September 27, 2008

Other People

I was walking through the dog park today and I realized with some surprise that for once in my life, my thoughts were with other people. Don't worry. I'm not giving up my self-absorbtion for good, but today, for one day, I'm thinking about somebody else for a change.

I'm thinking about how I hope the weather is good in Washington DC today, because Lisa is getting married to Nick there today, and I don't know Lisa or Nick, but I've grown to care about them from reading Lemon Gloria regularly, so I hope their ceremony is beautiful because it matters to Lisa, who is so happy to have found Nick she can't stop crying.

On my morning walk with Buddy, my thoughts also turned to T, who accidentally participated in a home-birth this week, successfully delivering a baby girl, despite unsuccessfully making it out of the house and to the hospital. Who knew she'd follow in our hippie-mothers' footsteps and deliver in her own bedroom?

And finally, I've been thinking of John McCain, only not in any sort of a deep way. Thinking of John McCain deeply hurts my feelings. No. I've just been thinking about how he said that he looked into Putin's eyes and he just saw three letters - K, G, and B. Now, if you know me in real life, and you haven't seen the letters under my eyes, then ask me to show them to you some day. This week I've been showing them off to my students because we're all sharing our stupid human tricks lately. So anyway, l've been imagining Putin with veins under his eyes spelling out KGB, and it's been making me giggle a little bit.

That last paragraph was sort of about me, wasn't it? OK, back to me me me. Carry on.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What Not to Do

If your kid says to you, "The reason I don't get math is because my teacher never goes over our homework, and I don't even know whether my homework is right, because my teacher never corrects it," then you will probably feel a slow burn of outrage. How can any teacher be so lazy?

But, if the same kid has been issued, in addition to a text book, a solution manual to the text book, you might want to ask her (or him) why she isn't correcting her own homework. You might want to stop for a minute, and imagine 120 kids just like yours diligently practicing factoring limit problems (just as yours does). Even if they only have about 25 problems a night, you will soon see that the result is 3000 problems. No one can correct 3000 problems. A day. No one can circle in red pen just where each child went wrong on each of those 3000 problems. Every day. No one can write enough happy faces or stars on the ones that made no mistakes. On 3000 problems. Each of the days of the week.

Still, even if you don't know this basic fact of math teacher-hood, even if the quantity of homework problems doesn't occur to you, and you decide to take your outrage out on the teacher, and you decide to email her (or him) with your anger and your frustration, then, please, for the sake of your child, whatever you do, don't cc the principal.

Don't do it. Really. Your relationship with the teacher will be better. Your relationship with the principal will be better. Your child's relationship with the teacher will be better. The teaching will be better. The world will be a better place. There will be rainbows and flowers where before there was only sewage and toxic waste.

Just believe me, OK? I know what I'm talking about.

My Claim to Fame

So, at this moment, if you're feeling sad and lonely, and you're sitting in the dark somewhere with just the Internet to keep you company, and you go to google at your wits' end, wondering just how you're going to make it another day, and you type "How to Live Alone" into the search engine, hoping against hope that someone, anyone, out there in cyberspace will help you muddle though your loneliness, down there at number four on the list of results is this blog. It's me, reaching out to you, one solitary figure in the dark to another, saying, "It's OK. We can do this."

Of course, this cracks me up, because it seems to me most days that I'm only about half a step away from typing just those words into google myself, and who's going to help me? Myself?

For some context, I've been stood up by the same guy two nights in a row. Well, not really "stood up", but canceled on at the last minute. The reasons sound valid. One of them was a double-booking problem, which I, of all people, should understand. The other was illness. And I don't really care that much, because I don't know the guy well enough to care, but here's the deal: I don't have time to get to know him, especially if, when I make the time, he cancels. I am working an incredible number of hours at school, and I'm still behind. I'm robbing my sleep bank in order to pay my lesson planning creditors. It's nearly 8:00, I haven't had dinner, I don't know what I'm teaching tomorrow in either of my two classes, and I have to get up and go to work in nine hours.

How to Live Alone? How about How to Eat, Sleep, and Make Time for Friends and Romantic Interests (Even Flaky Ones) All While Getting Your Lessons Done Before School Starts?

Excuse me, I have some googling to do. I just hope I'm not on the first page this time, because I happen to know that I'm not much help.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shopping at this Time of Month

Oh my god, nutty bars are on sale! They're only a dollar. Should I buy two boxes? I don't need two boxes. Man, I can practically taste the fake peanut butter and chocolate flavor right now. OK, I'll just get one. I definitely need some nutty bars for my lunches.

Now, where is the chocolate milk? I need chocolate milk. Right now. Ooo. I remember this All-Star chocolate milk. I didn't know it had double the calcium. I'll get the big -- hey! is that string cheese? I love string cheese. It's a lot of packaging, but I can take it to school for lunches. It'll remind me of my childhood, so it's totally worth destroying the earth.

I wonder if they have a case of individual ice cream treats, because I could really use some ice cream right now. I can even eat it in the car - oh, yeah, Drumsticks. Just what I need. Chocolately, peanutty, icecream-coney goodness.

OK, this is getting ridiculous, I have to get out of the dairy aisle and find the cashier. Wait! Slim Jims. Perfect. I'll have a Slim Jim and a Drumstick for dinner. The cashier is totally going to think I'm pregnant. Who cares? Damn, if only I could figure out how to gracefully chug my half-gallon of chocolate milk while I'm driving, I'd have the perfect meal. Maybe I should go back for another box of nutty bars. They're only a dollar...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Don't I Know You From Somewhere?

So, I was on a second sort-of date this morning. I know. I know. A second one. Shocking.

Anyway, get over it. So we were on this sort-of date, and we were having breakfast.

Yeah, OK, get your mind out of the gutter. I don't even know why I talk to you.

We met for breakfast for our second date because both of us had other evening plans this weekend.

As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, we were having breakfast. My family occasionally eats breakfast, as you may know, which is why he let me pick the restaurant, and so I picked a family favorite, because it's reasonably priced and the food is local and good. Big mistake. Halfway through the sort-of date, who should walk in?

Go ahead guess.

Right. My mom and Jimmy. Big as life. She's a pretty good spy, and so naturally she tried to choose a table within earshot, but Jimmy's a better friend, and he firmly escorted her to the farthest corner of the restaurant. Still, I was left to explain to my sort-of date why even though he let me pick any restaurant in the city, I just happened upon the one place where my parents were dining this morning.

Unless he noticed that my parents are pretty hot for their age, he probably thought I was a big old dork. Of course, when he asked me about my other plans for the day and I said I was going to study Calculus, I'm sure that didn't help convince him otherwise. Damn.

Next time I go out for a secret sort-of date for breakfast, it will be at the Copper Dome. I'm going to have to eat first, though, because the food totally sucks, but it's a small price to pay for not running into any family members. Also next time I'm going to pretend that I teach something sexy, like, um, ceramics.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


The hip-hop team at my new school is all white. I tried to judge them by the content of their characters, but they were dancing so self-consciously, like a bunch of white folks, and hip-hop looked like something they are just trying on, like joining the math team or playing intramural basketball.

The hip-hop team at my old school was more colorful and they danced together with all of their hearts as if they were dancing out a place for themselves within the mostly white school. And where do the black hip-hoppers go at this new school? How do they dance themselves into acceptance? I'll tell you one thing: I'm pretty sure it won't be with the crew I saw today, unless I'm very wrong.

And so begins a year of Al comparing where she is with where she has been.

Also, phew! I'm beat after six twenty-five-minute-periods today.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Al for VP

So, I was thinking about this birthday I just had, and how now that I'm 35, I might as well be 40, and how I'm not where I thought I would be by the time I was 40, and I was feeling all down on myself and the world, and then I remembered how exciting it was to turn 16, 18, and 21. When I turned 16, it gave me the right to get into a car accident every year until I really learned how to drive. And of course, nerd that I am I counted the days until November after my 18th birthday. And although it wasn't until years later that I felt comfortable doing it, turning 21 gave me the right to buy liquor (which, granted, seemed more exciting at the time).

And I remembered that actually 35 is a good birthday, because it gives you the right to run for vice president. I used to think that I wasn't really qualified to be vice president (and up until August 17, I wasn't), but I certainly feel capable of being mayor of some podunk town of 8500, and from there it would be a small leap for me to govern a state with a population only double that of Minneapolis.

I'm also the possessor of two fully functioning (we think) ovaries, and while I do not bring together the conservative base, I also never used my authority to try to get my brother-in-law fired. And, so, in conclusion, I have decided that I would be as good a candidate for VP as what's-her-face. Thank goodness I had that birthday before the election. I'll leave my phone on, just in case McCain rethinks his choice.