Psychic Income

May 22, 2010

Well, another school year of trying to influence the lives of the 11-13 year old set is about to end. My second year of teaching — first year as a full-time teacher. How do I feel? Exhausted, drained, spent, and surprisingly enough, exhilarated. I just had another of my “psychic income” moments, and this year, my psychic piggy bank is more than half full.

After cruising through life unfulfilled, I decided to go back to school and embrace my DNA. When I was in teaching school, my supervisor said something to me during one of our meetings that really caught me off guard: “You’re going to be an amazing teacher.” I wasn’t sure how to respond without coming across as an egotistical bitch, so I quietly changed the subject. But inside, I was furiously nodding my head and saying “DAMN STRAIGHT I AM — MY MOM IS WATCHING.”

I’m a fourth-generation teacher, and it’s a title I wear proudly. When anyone asks me what I do for a living, I hold my head up high, smile broadly and say: “I am a TEACHER. I teach language arts to MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS.”  I’m always amazed at how many people respond with: “You poor thing, middle school.” I’ll tell you, I’d take hormonal middle-school students over snot-filled, leaky primary students any day. Kids in grades K-5 don’t understand my dark sense of humor. I make them cry (not intentionally, however!)

My first year of teaching, I had to learn how to survive in an environment where I was bullied by grown ups who hadn’t really grown up yet — most of them younger than I am. I not only had to learn how to teach, but learn how to maneuver my way around a school filled with cliquish staff members who banded together to make other people’s lives (usually the ones who aren’t willing to play such immature games like these — i.e., me) miserable.  Fortunately, I quickly won the support of my students, their parents, and a principal — the only three groups of people I really need to impress anyways.

Some might wonder why I stayed at a school where I was bullied by staff. It’s simple — teaching jobs are tough to get, and my co-worker and I are so much alike, we were even dressed exactly the same when I interviewed for the position, as she told me after she insisted to the principal that I get hired immediately or “she’s walking”.  And, since God answered my prayers for a teaching job within 45-minutes of sending it up, I decided I owed Him one in return.

I digress. What I really want to say about teaching is this: “Teaching pays me in ways no amount of money ever could.” Oh sure, if someone offered me a high salary, I certainly wouldn’t thumb my nose at it. But, the money isn’t the issue — it’s the “psychic income” that comes from the relationships I’ve developed with some of my students and their parents.

I had one student last year (and again this year) who couldn’t write a full paragraph for me at the start of the year. His words were all over the page, and he wouldn’t capitalize or punctuate in the right places. Many teachers had him pegged as “odd” or “lazy,” I saw him as brilliant and untethered.

I worked with him all last year, slowly encouraging him to write more and more. When he came back to me this year, his writing exploded off the page. I couldn’t get him to stop writing, even when it was time to switch to reading, or vocabulary, or whatever else I had to teach. His stories had characters, intricate plots, development, structure, creativity! His grammar and punctuation were near perfect. His poetry was filled with the full spectrum of emotions. And most importantly, he worked with me and he thanked me — for being his teacher and showing him the joys of writing and poetry. Ka-chink.

This year, I had two students who made deposits in my piggy bank. One boy, who I suspect has dyslexia (yet undiagnosed), can now write clear sentences most of the time. He stops, takes the time to write carefully, and doesn’t slop his words onto the page anymore. The other boy, who I suspect has Asperger’s (working in a private school, there isn’t a high number of Special Ed students with definitive diagnoses to warrant services), has been struggling to write coherent thoughts all year long. His first writings were totally incomprehensible. I couldn’t even tell what shape the letters were supposed to be, much less what they were trying to say. These were my “project” students — two students I decided needed extra encouragement and help.

The first boy, the one with suspected dyslexia (I’m not an expert, just going on a hunch here), has been a poor speller and writer since kindergarten. So says the Special Ed teacher providing services to him (I use that term “loosely”, because I think he’s just feeding him answers, not assistance). When I saw the boy’s handwriting, I asked if there were anything I could do to help him improve. I was told “That’s the best you’ll ever get out of him. Trust me, I’ve been working with him since kindergarten, and he’s never gotten any better.” Well, of course that was the moment when I decided no teacher was ever going to tell me to give up on a student, so I said “We’ll see..” and grumbled off. A month or so later, it gave me great pleasure to walk up to that teacher, show him a thank you letter written by this student (without a single misspelling or grammatical error) and sneer “Told you, I’d get him to write.” Bitchy of me? Yes. But that teacher deserved to be taken down a notch. Ka-chink.

The other boy, the one suspected of having Asperger’s, continues to struggle with writing. But, something wonderful happened today. I made his mom cry. Why? Because I think she finally has an answer to her son’s situation — I sent her a link about the struggles Asperger’s students have with writing. She read the link and was so overwhelmed at how similar the post sounded to her own son, she started to cry and had to stop reading further until she could get herself back together again. All this time, she had been thinking herself  as crazy, because she knew something was “odd” but couldn’t figure out what.

I have had many moments this year where I heard the coins drop into my piggy bank:

Having an entire class tell you that “You’re the only teacher here who likes us, Mrs. B”

and, when I gave a breath mint to everyone “I LOVE YOU, Mrs. B, you’re the BEST!”

and just recently, “Wow, we’ve never had the chance to read for an entire class period! Can we do that again, Mrs. B?”

Ka-chink! That’s the sound of psychic coins plinking into my piggy bank. And I love that sound.


Language and Television Shows

April 30, 2010

Language fascinates me. Vernacular too. But what really fascinates me is the way “acceptable” language on television has changed over the last 25-30 years. Sitting down one night a week or so ago to watch an episode of the 1970’s TV hit “All in the Family”, it suddenly dawned on me: the censors have lost their grip on reality and sensibility.

The main character in “All in the Family”, Archie Bunker, was portrayed as a racist, bigoted, hate mongering, stereotypical buffoon. He was an EOO – Equal Opportunity Offender — spewing bigoted comments towards all minorities with equal aplomb. No minority, race or religion was granted immunity from his misguided and often misdirected hate: Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Catholics, Polish, the list goes on forever.

The following are some (but not all) of the terms Archie would often use to “describe” various minorities:

Kikes (Blacks)

Pollacks (Polish)

Mics (Irish Catholics)

Heebs (Jews)

Spades (Blacks)

3As and 3Bs (Hispanic Mexicans and Puerto Ricans)

Jungle Bunnies (Blacks)

(you get the hint, right?)

But, therein lies the problem with today’s censors. I’m not condoning the use of any of the above terms, but don’t they seem a little less “offensive” than, perhaps, some of the language that is allowed to pass through the censors today? Isn’t it entirely possible to picture a “Jungle Bunny” as a furry, cuddly rabbit hopping around a tropical forest somewhere, searching for fresh fern leaves to nibble? And isn’t the word “spade” just another word for a garden tool? “3As and 3Bs” is as innocuous a scientific classification as possible, so what’s wrong with using those to describe someone?

Nowadays, it seems like everyone on TV can swear all they want. I find it ironic that censors will let “ass” slide through, but bleep out “hole”, so it comes across as “ASS(bleep!)”  And for reasons no one has seemed to be able to explain to me, it is now perfectly acceptable to say G-ddamn. I know every time I say that, I look for lightning bolts to suddenly appear.

The ironic beauty of the language used in  “All in the Family” cannot be overlooked. Despite the racist overtones, offensive stereotyping and political incorrectness, Archie never did utter a single “curse” word. Yet, if today’s scripts ever used any of the same terms he used, there would be organized marches going on across America within ten minutes of hearing those words spoken over the airwaves. But, “reality TV” censors don’t want to run the risk of “offending” anyone.

And G-ddamn it, ass(bleep!)s like that really piss me off.


The Taylor Swift/Father Tiresias “Get Me Some” Postulation

April 17, 2010

Want a romantic love song to sing or play to your beloved? Below are two suggestions. You’ll see by reading them which one is more likely to “get you some” (that is, if you’re over the age of consent), when played on your surround sound stereo.

“Love Story” by Taylor Swift

We were both young, when I first saw you
I close my eyes and the flashback starts
I’m standing there, on a balcony of summer air

I see the lights, see the party, the ball gowns
I see you make your way through the crowd
You say hello, little did I know…

That you were Romeo, you were throwing pebbles
And my daddy said “stay away from Juliet”
And I was crying on the staircase
Begging you please don’t go…
And I said…

Romeo take me somewhere, we can be alone
I’ll be waiting, all there’s left to do is run
You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess,
It’s a love story, baby, just say yes

So I sneak out to the garden to see you
We keep quiet, because we’re dead if they knew
So close your eyes
Escape this town for a little while
Oh, Ohhh

Cause you were Romeo, I was a scarlet letter,
And my daddy said “stay away from Juliet”
But you were everything to me
I was begging you, please don’t go…
And I said

Romeo take me somewhere, we can be alone
I’ll be waiting, all there’s left to do is run
You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess
It’s a love story, baby, just say yes

Romeo save me, they’re trying to tell me how to feel
This love is difficult, but it’s real
Don’t be afraid, we’ll make it out of this mess
It’s a love story, baby, just say yes
Oh, Ohhh…

I got tired of waiting
Wondering if you were ever coming around
My faith in you was fading
When I met you on the outskirts of town
And I said

Romeo save me, I’ve been feeling so alone
I keep waiting, for you but you never come
Is this in my head, I don’t know what to think
He kneels to the ground and pulled out a ring and said

Marry me Juliet, you’ll never have to be alone
I love you, and that’s all I really know
I talked to your dad-you’ll pick the white dress
It’s a love story, baby just say…yes…
Oh, Ohhh… Oh, Oh, Ohhh…

We were both young when I first saw you.

*******************************************************

“Cinema Show” by Genesis

Home from work our Juliet
Clears her morning meal.
She dabs her skin with pretty smells
Concealing to appeal.
I will make my bed,
She said, but turned to go.
Can she be late for her cinema show?

Romeo locks his basement flat,
And scurries up the stair.
With head held high and floral tie,
A weekend millionaire.
I will make my bed
With her tonight, he cries.
Can he fail armed with his chocolate surprise?

Take a little trip back with father Tiresias,
Listen to the old one speak of all he has lived through.
I have crossed between the poles, for me there’s no mystery.
Once a man, like the sea I raged,
Once a woman, like the earth I gave.
But there is in fact more earth than sea.

Take a little trip back with father Tiresias,
Listen to the old one speak of all he has lived through.
I have crossed between the poles, for me there’s no mystery.
Once a man, like the sea I raged,
Once a woman, like the earth I gave.
But there is in fact more earth than sea.


The Britney Spears/Todd Rundgren Battle of the Lyrics Continuum

April 17, 2010

“Hit Me Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears

Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby
How was I supposed to know
That something wasn’t right here
Oh baby baby
I shouldn’t have let you go
And now you’re out of sight, yeah
Show me, how you want it to be
Tell me baby
‘Cause I need to know now what we’ve got

[CHORUS:]
My loneliness is killing me
I must confess, I still believe
When I’m not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time

Oh baby, baby
The reason I breathe is you
Boy you got me blinded
Oh baby, baby
There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
That’s not the way I planned it
Show me, how you want it to be
Tell me baby
‘Cause I need to know now what we’ve got

[Repeat CHORUS]

Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby
Ah, yeah, yeah
Oh baby, baby
How was I supposed to know
Oh pretty baby
I shouldn’t have let you go
I must confess, that my loneliness
Is killing me now
Don’t you know I still believe
That you will be here
And give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time

[Repeat CHORUS]

I must confess that my loneliness
Is killing me now
Don’t you know I still believe
That you will be here
And give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time

********************************************************

“Parallel Lines” by Todd Rundgren

Face the facts
Some things never come together
Parallel lines running on forever
And you can’t turn back
There is never any starting over
Parallel lines never do cross over

It’s a challenge
Gotta make myself remember
Facing the truth, well, that doesn’t mean surrender
What is bravado and how much is a force of will?
I know that the world is full of opposites that attract
But unless we ignore the physics
Very soon we’ll have to

So I send you the gift of empathy
If you’d once in your life acknowledge me
I have visualized so thoroughly
That when I think of me I think of we

Can’t face the truth
It means that we must surrender
Understanding won’t satisfy the hunger
It whittles away at the destiny we fulfill
And like an animal running wild
You can’t call it back
And it’s just gonna make it harder
When it’s finally time to

It’s like a train that’s stuck running on a track
Parallel lines running on, running on, running on

Score: Todd – 1, Britney – 0.


MPD and My Muse…An introduction

November 6, 2009

Well, this is fascinating. My muse has recently been diagnosed with a new disorder. It seems she has a “slight” case of MPD – Multiple Personality Disorder. This could explain her wildly fluctuating behavior and speech patterns. I’ve suspected something for a little while, but going back through the transcripts of previous conversations, I realize now I was talking to several different “people” –sometimes all at once. I was finally able to connect the dots when, out of the blue, “Trudy” actually took the Marlboro ciggy out of her mouth and popped in a wad of Double Bubble bubble gum — a signal that something was up.  Of course, Trudy was still being as belligerent and orny as ever — between bubbles, she was muttering such semi-incoherent phrases as “Peach cobbler, bitch!” and “Kiss my ass, state trooper boy”.  No reason for such rude behavior, honestly. I’ve tried to talk with Trudy and tell her how inappropriate her comments can be at times, but last time I did it, she threatened to “put my black belt to the test”. Since she carries a switchblade and a 9 mm in the cab of her semi, I declined her invitation to an ass-kicking and spent most of the next half hour “talking her down” from whatever menopausal moment she was having.

But the bubble gum — so out of character for her. That’s when it hit me — that wasn’t Trudy. Gone was the 5’2″, 150 lb lesbian truck driver with the smoker’s cough, missing upper teeth, leathered skin and thinning gray hair. Sure, she was still dressed in her typical trucker uniform – red flannel shirt over a “wifebeater” T, dirty jeans and loggerhead boots, but that wasn’t the Trudy I knew and admired for her open honesty and willingness to put me in my proper place. Oh no, this person in front of me was much, much younger. I had to get a good look at her.

I say “her” because honestly, men don’t chew and snap their gum that way. Maybe the person who stole Trudy’s spotlight is gay — I don’t know and really don’t care.  That’s between them. I’m just here for the entertainment factor anyways. But still, something told me this new character was a lot younger, and definitely less “street smart” as Trudy. I sense a naivete that can only be matched by the stupidity of youth. So, I am going to go out on a limb and say I was talking to a 17 year old cheerleader. Some of the clues? Well, the constant gum chewing — like watching a cow standing in the field, vapidly staring at the barn, chewing its cud. And the hair twirling — annoying as hell. The constant twirling of the index finger around the pony tail. Leave your hair alone, dammit!

But the final clue? Every other word out of this one’s mouth was either “like” or “whatever”. I hate having to spend a moment of my time listening to my beloved language get slaughtered. I try to keep our conversations short. On the other hand, it is fun to mess with youth. I can tell her practically anything, and she’ll believe it. Or at least crinkle her cute little button nose, lean her head to the side and in her high pitched, annoyingly nasaly voice, giggle “Oh my god, that’s so, like, funny!” She does like to hang on every word of mine. She also likes to hang on every high school football player too. I see a teenage pregnancy in her future if she doesn’t pull her shit together soon and stop acting like such a slut. I’ve checked her Facebook and MySpace sites, and she’s gathering a long list of “friends”, most of whom probably aren’t aware she’s still underage. Someone’s going to get in real trouble if they don’t watch out. Honestly, my “mother-daughter muse” talks we’ve had seem to go over her head. This whole “I’m immortal” thing is being wasted on her youth, I have decided.

There is one other personality I’ve had the pleasure to meet who is by far my running favorite. Oh for the days in my twenties when I was still willing to meet the world head on and tackle life’s mysteries! She’s a real go-getter this one. She’s everything I never was, which is why I love her so much. She’s twenty-something (somewhere between 22-25) and just does what she wants, to hell with the circumstances. She spent some time over in Italy with the entire national soccer team. She won’t tell me “exactly” what happened – but I sense a few unconventional sex practices took place. She and her sister muse — Erato– probably found a supply of Mazola, whipped cream, feathers and satin laced handcuffs and had themselves a party. I bet she never asked for names. I also heard she’s engaged to a Croat named Jakob, but that relationship is probably doomed. She’s a bit of gold digger, and continues to find a long list of men to supply her with all the latest gidgets and gadgets to keep her on her eventual path to self-destruction. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have a model’s face on a perfect body devoid of wrinkles and the after-effects of childbirth and age-related gravity. She’s happy to tell everyone that “her boobs still point to Orion” (She’s Greek, so of course she had to get that shout out in there). Even though I love her, she does need to get her ego in check. There will always be someone coming up behind her who is prettier, thinner and more desirable. She just doesn’t know it yet. Ahh, youth.

That’s it for roll call. I continue to have conversations with my muse (now “muses”) and some days, I’ll find myself having to change my own behavior based on who decides to show up. Honestly, I like the mystery of it all. It’s so, like, awesome. Unless, of course, the Sandman shows up. He’s kind of a douche bag towards me. I bet he and John Gosselin are friends.


This Post is All About “Me”, Seriously

October 24, 2009

Just a peek at some things about me. Read em, don’t. I don’t care. But, I own these and accept them for who and what they are. So, there.

Favorite Type of Fabric:

Fleece

Least Favorite Type of Fabric:

Sandpaper, The thong concept was an abysmal failure.

Favorite Punctuation Mark:

Umlaut, followed closely by the accent mark over the e.

Least Favorite Punctuation Mark:

Semi-colon. Too much drama.

Favorite Substance:

Mercury. Liquid, yet cohesive.

Least Favorite Substance:

Jello. You can’t nail it to a table.

Favorite Chemical Equation:

C6H12O6. Sweet!

Least Favorite Chemical Equation:

CH4. Smells like farts. I’m not 13 any more.

Favorite Planet:

Saturn. It looks like it’s wearing a funny hat, or a fashionably over-sized belt.

Least Favorite Planet:

Venus. She’s very toxic to be around.

Favorite Genre:

Suspe…

Least Favorite Genre:

Historical Romance. Bloomers and corsets are not sexy.

Favorite Literary Device:

Irony

Least Favorite Literary Device:

Irony. Think about it.

Simile or Metaphor?

My brain burns white hot with this question. Like smelting steel.

Alliteration or Assonance?

Quit it with confusing conundrums. Clearly I’m dearly devoted to dual devices.

Dichotomy or Juxtaposition?

Dichotomy. I prefer safe distances.

“Six of one, half a dozen of another?”

I haven’t decided yet.

More or Less?

Both, please.



Random Thoughts From the Nerd

October 22, 2009

I want to know what dogs are thinking, but not smelling. I don’t want to have to work that hard or experience that much.

Cats are impossible to read. They need an interpreter – perhaps a chinchilla?

I really don’t want to know how swine flu went from swine to human. Or for that matter, how ebola went from monkey to human. Regardless, someone was acting inappropriately in both situations.

Is it possible to freeze electricity?

There HAS to be a speed of dark. I just feel it. I’d be shocked if there weren’t.

Nothing smells better in a house than a batch of snickerdoodles fresh from the oven.

Any word that has “oodle” in it is fun to say.

The best punctuation mark in the world? The umlaut. Not just fun to use, but fun to say. Try it, you’ll agree.

Ask the Amish if they use hybrids. They’ll probably say, “Yes, I own a mule.” Great tie in with biology.

If Edgar Allan Poe were alive today, I would want to be his Facebook friend. Only.

People who think the world cares about them, but we really don’t:

  • Heidi and Spencer Pratt
  • Jon Gosselin
  • Paris Hilton
  • Tila Tequila
  • Balloon boy dad

People who will some day get their asses kicked by an assorted group of fed-up middle class and lower class folks:

  • Same folks

If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t anyone create chocolate covered potato chips? Two PMS problems solved at once.