31 August 2006

overheard in 4th period

"how many idiots does it take to turn on a cd player?...*ouch*...well, it takes just one to cut himself."

the previous statement occured during 4th period, while four of my boys were trying to get my cd player tuned to an actual channel, as opposed to static with a few hints of country music. it was said by little pat, also known as shane, as he accidentally stabbed himself in the hand with what was left of the antenna after someone last year broke off the top half. they then proceeded to make me a new antenna out of scissors, three paper clips, and some scotch tape. said antenna remained upright via the scissors stabbed into my bulletin board. this activity occurred immediately following them hanging my rubber chicken from my overhead projector screen (and when i mean hanging, i mean execution-style - noose and all), making the richard nixon shower head cover talk, listening for the ocean in the seashell from my desk, and playing with the barrel of monkeys hanging from the flag holder. the boys, a.k.a. skyler, shane, ted, tyler, and corey had finished their work early and decided that i needed company at my desk. so they descended upon me during the last fifteen minutes of class.

this is why they always tell you to plan enough work to last till the end of the class period.

also, i have discovered a new discipline strategy that they never tell you about in education classes. it's called: the big, scary man across the hall discipline plan. all it takes is for me to say, "do i need to go get mr. cash?" and cody of the poofy hair from third period sits down and shuts up. it's really a great resource to have.

more words of wisdom

yet another nugget of joy from my sister:

"I hope you have a good day teaching today. Just remember that nobody can make Jackson interesting. He was a boring dude."

30 August 2006


quote of the day:

michael: "so if north dakota and south dakota ever resolve their differences, will they become just one big dakota?"

i wasn't aware they were having any relationship issues.

the weirdness i am referring to in my title is that i have a student, in 4th period to be exact, who is a clone of pat. i'm not kidding. it is bizarre. he looks like him, they have the same build, they have the same hair, they sound the same when they talk, they dress alike. they even walk alike. and react to things the same way. very freaky. i keep doing double takes. i know one of these days i'm going to call him pat and he's going to look at me like i've lost my mind. not that my students don't do that on a fairly regular basis anyway. i keep expecting him to start waving a sword around and singing about crowbars and life preservers.

29 August 2006

hall pass

at the high school where i student taught, the students had agenda books which we signed as their hall pass. at this high school, the teachers make their own hall passes. i think this is much better. why?

because i just saw a boy walking from the bathroom carrying a big rubber chicken.

and it made me laugh.

28 August 2006

survival of the fittest

it has been two days. i have survived. my feet hurt, tomorrow's lessons aren't planned, and i don't think i'll ever get 3rd period (29 people, 3/4 boys, 3 foreign exchange students) to shut up. but i have survived.

no one has rioted, no one has thrown anything at me, they open their books when i say to.
and they might remember their homework.

my day has consisted of exchanges like this:

me: "what country controlled canada?"
class: silence
me: "what country does canada still give it's allegience to today?"
class: silence
me: "come on, guys, what language do they speak in canada?"
class: silence...look at each other...silence

or this one, with one of my (very few) african american students:

tj: "do you like kool-aid?"
me: "yeah."
tj: "word."
me: "is that a good thing?"
tj: "oh yeah. i've never known any white people who liked kool-aid."

it's going to be an interesting semester.

24 August 2006

words of wisdom

a few words of wisdom from my sister, given in a series of emails written in response to my ever increasing state of panic due to the beginning of school:

"you didn't get a normal job like a normal person, because then you would not have been able to interact with a kid named tater or coondog on a regular basis. you'll be fine. at least y'all won't have a crazy murderer man running loose at the school on your first day. hopefully."

"don't be nervous about friday. that's silly, you will be nervous, it's very scary, but you will be Fabulous (with a capital F!)."

and my personal favorite...

"think of all the morons you had as teachers in high school. compared to them, you should be the Teacher of the Century. at least consider this an opportunity to spread conservatism in a sea of liberal weenies. think, these kids may never hear again that the u.s. was justified in bombing hiroshima. you're doing a valuable service for your country."

i should probably listen to her more often. and her first bit of advice sounds rather far-fetched, except for the fact that she goes to virginia tech and they really did have a crazy murderer man running loose on the first day of classes.

so i guess i'm due for an update. as you can tell, i start school tomorrow. i'm not quite as panicked as i thought i would be. i have my syllabus, attendance sheets, student surveys, parent letters, and first day activities all typed up, copied, and hole punched. i understand the attendance and discipline referral policies. i have enough desks. there are history related posters on the walls. the textbooks are stacked neatly. there are no piles of trash anywhere. and i have a bulletin board containing nothing but THE richard nixon shower head cover. (i will eventually get around to putting other things up on that board, but not now.) all i really have to do is rearrange my desks a little and make a seating chart and i will be good to go. my mentor told me that of all the people she has mentored, i am by far the most organized and most prepared. (they call it organized, the american psychiatric association calls it obsessive-compulsive disorder. i simply can not function without lists or charts.)

i'm still fairly scared though. i mean, i'm completely in charge of this whole shindig, and if i screw it up, it's going to be bad. it doesn't help that my classes are huge. my smallest class has 28; the other two have 30. what am i supposed to do with 30 sixteen-year-olds for an hour and a half every day? and they keep adding people. it also doesn't help that one of the other teachers seems to think it is his life goal to squelch any optimism i may show. that really makes it hard, because i get depressed every time he walks in here. it makes me feel like my students will never turn in work, never pass their tests, never bring their books, never pay attention, and never stop talking when i want them to. i feel like i can handle everything, then he shows up and i just want to crawl under a rock. i finally reached the end of my rope with it today. i said, "look, i'll be honest. i'm a bitch. they may not like me, they may not like history. but they will turn in their work. and they will do what i say. or they will fail my class." i feel like there needs to be a rule: if you can't say something positive to new teachers, keep your trap shut.

there is some good news, though. my mentor is great. she's getting me a desk chair and a podium. it's so ironic. i come all the way to north carolina, and i get a mentor who is from pittsburgh, spent a year at westminster, graduated from pitt, and got her masters from duquesne. we have a sort-of mini steelers fan club going, along with the guy who teaches tv production. i've also met two younger teachers, jennifer and kellie, who i love. it was really nice to realize that i wouldn't just be surrounded by married people with children. jennifer is in the room next to me, so i figure we'll be seeing a lot of each other.

so yeah, overall, my life's looking pretty good right now.

22 August 2006

hoo boy

what in the name of everything holy have i gotten myself into?

18 August 2006


i don't have "coon dog".

but i do have one named "tater".

no lie.

10 August 2006

and it has begun

the teaching career has begun. yesterday i went to mhs and got my classroom and textbooks and the Keys to the Kingdom, a.k.a. my room and the outside doors to the school. not everybody gets the school key. i just have connections.

all i can say is, i'm glad i've got my aunt. i can't imagine moving to a new town and starting a job in a school where you don't know anybody (much applause to jess and katiek and anybody else reading this to whom the previous statement applies). i'm freaking out enough as it is. my aunt already introduced me to all the important people: the secretaries, the custodians, the guys in the vo-tech department who can fix your car and weld broken things, the assistant principal who can locate extra podiums and bookcases, the computer tzar who can make you a really long internet cable when you decide to move your desk all the way across the room because you'll freeze sitting next to the air conditioner, etc. my classroom is in a good location - near my parking space (vocational lot #25), near the library, near my cousin, and, most importantly, right next to the athletic director and the iss director, both of whom are very large men and both of whom will come to my rescue if i have any fights or serious behavior problems. unfortunately it's also right next to the girls smoking bathroom, and since i am the only female teacher at that end of the hall it's my job to bang on the door and yell "put 'em out" while i come stomping in. i spent today cleaning my room. it was a wreck. trash, old stuff, kids' notebooks from last semester, candy wrappers, an entire bag of 80s clothes (???), etc.

anyway, i'm having fun so far. but then again, i don't have any students yet. my cousin has a student nicknamed "coon dog". i only hope i have him too.

07 August 2006

one small step for me, one giant leap into adulthood

so...my last night living at home. tomorrow i pack up my little car with a ridiculously large amount of stuff, particularly books (how in the world have i accumulated so many? i need to stop going to library book sales. i'm a sucker for $1 hardbacks. it's quite similar to my addiction to the $5 movie rack at wal-mart.) and head off into the wild world.

well, not exactly.

i'm heading to my grandfather's house, in a tiny town i've known my entire life where everybody knows me, and where i'll be teaching at my parents' high school with my aunt and cousin. but that's as close to the wild world as i care to get right now, thank you very much. it may be a cop-out but i really do not care. and yes, i am really excited about the whole thing even though i'm beginning to reach the point where i start hyperventillating whenever i think about standing in front of a classroom.

nevertheless, it's still kinda weird. and sad. i've lived away from home before, and the argument can be made that once you go to college, you don't really live there anymore (your siblings take your furniture, your room becomes the computer room, your dad puts a giant classified materials safe in your closet...what? nobody else had that happen?), but you still think of it as home base. but not any more. from now on, i'll just be a visitor. my mother is handling this better than i thought she would, particularly since sister #2 is leaving for college in a week. i'm just trying not to think about it too much, because it does make me sad. i mean, i know i can't live here anymore, we would all drive each other completely batty. but it's kind of hard giving up that last shred of childhood and completely vaulting into adulthood.

i'm completely in charge of my life now.

oh, i know i'm going to screw this up.

02 August 2006


as promised...the weekend:

on thursday night, the trip started in untypical fashion, because i managed to avoid the characteristic parks family failure to launch and actually made it out of the house in time to pick up my dress from the dry cleaners. i even had 15 minutes to spare. i had an uneventful trip to arlington which i spent obsessively channel surfing (attempting to hear josh turner's "would you go with me" as many times as possible...every summer i have one or two songs that i become obsessed with and spend every moment i'm in the car trying to find a radio station playing them. last summer it was "this is how a heart breaks" and "accidentally in love". don't ask. i don't know either.) and laughing at the poor buggers sitting still on southbound 95 while i sped north. i love driving against rush hour traffic. scheidenfreude, anyone?

after a slightly harrowing parking adventure in front of neil's house ("self, let's not side-swipe a congressman's car.") we were on our way to lancaster and the casa de beth. neil and i had a lovely trip where we discussed many important issues and i showed my extreme brilliance by spilling cranberry juice on my new khaki shorts. are we altogether sure i should be teaching 11th grade? we spent the night at beth's house and i had my first experience with a face mask. the fact that i was shown how to do it by neil and not beth made the experience slightly less normal than most, but hey, it's us. i also fell in love with post-secret. beth, the fascination is contagious.

friday morning saw us in harrisburg, delivering important legal papers to the courthouse. well, strike that. friday morning saw beth delivering important papers and neil and i checking out the dunkin donuts next to the courthouse. then we learned that it takes a very, very long time to copy 500 30-odd page documents. that must be collated. and stapled. for some reason we thought this would take an hour, tops. you would think our combined internship experiences of becoming one with the copy machine would have given us greater insight into this, but, alas, we were mistaken.

so we made it to our hotel a grand total of five minutes before neil had to be at the rehearsal. fortunately for him, though not hans'n'rachel, the chapel had double booked rehearsals and the first 45 minutes of it were actually spent in the parking lot. the drive was not a total loss, though. i got to see many amish people, who never cease to fascinate me (reminding me of course, of freshman year and the "amish fetish"), and we also passed a wonderland of excitement known as claude peeper's reptiland. not reptile-land. reptiland.

trey and allan arrived amid much obnoxiousness towards me and laughter on their part. trey wins the "and you have a college degree?" prize for the weekend by somehow choosing a route from kentucky to pennsylvania that involved an hour and a half trek through indiana. (hans runs a close second, for leaving his cell phone on the roof of the car on his way to his wedding then walking back down the middle of the street to stick his head in the limo window to ask his mom to go back and look for it. but he was disqualified due to the fact that he was a little preoccupied at the time. it's still funny though.)

the rehearsal dinner was lovely. i managed to not use any wrong utensils or commit any other etiquette blunders. rachel looked great, they showed an adorable picture slideshow including my most favoriteist picture of hans in white shorts, pink shirt, white knee socks, and coke bottle glasses, and the food was amazing. the rehearsal dinner was also the scene of the quote of the weekend.

beth: is jz's sister still dancing with the ballet?
trey: yes, but she hurt her leg recently.
beth: oh, is she going to be ok?
travis: they're going to have to put her down.

after the dinner, we stopped by a wegmans and i experienced for the first time - a walk-in beer cooler. i was not aware such things even existed. the boys bought a case of beer. i bought a harry potter book. we were all in formal clothes. it was 11:30 at night. i think the clerk was a little weirded out.

we slept with five people crammed in one hotel room. neil snores like a freight train, allan kept making these noises like he was trying to talk to whales, and trey talks in his sleep. in latin. also, beth can sleep through anything. trey apparently can not. at one point in the night he tried to smother neil by throwing two blankets over his face to get him to shut up. didn't work. he just snored right through them. that's pretty impressive, if you ask me. i'm not quite sure how i got any sleep at all.

we drug our carcasses out of bed in time for the continental breakfast with a whole host of people from long island and brooklyn. i came to a major revelation that morning: and people say Southern accents sound stupid? lindsay and dan were collected from the airport and we were all having a lovely time crammed into the hotel room, watching the folgers "happy morning" commercial. many, many thanks go out to katie k for discovering this gem. it is simply a-ma-zing. it is impossible to describe. i will have find the link and post it on here at some point. when i do make sure you watch it. multiple times. though probably not while wasting time at work, unless you have headphones.

while we were a cackling over this, who should arrive but...the wandering nomads from texas!! yes, ryan/luke and shelly had arrived to surprise us all. in celebration of this and other pieces of exciting news, the boys broke out the beer, ignoring the fact that it was 10:30 am and we didn't technically have a bottle opener. did you know it's possible to open beer bottles on a fold-up cot? since we had now definitely reached the maximum saturation point of the room's capacity to hold people, we adjourned to friendly's for lunch.

the wedding was beautiful. rachel looked gorgeous, her grandpa was adorable performing the service, and the chapel was amazing. kind of a gothic cathedral-type place with statues and stained glass windows. had it not been five zillion degrees inside, it would have been perfect.

the reception was a blast. the food was great, and i was very excited by the chocolate fountain. (makes me hope one of the cousin weddings has one, despite andrew's threat of sticking his head under it.) i sat at a table with allan, trey, and my two lovely suitemates. i was really glad to get to talk to them. we were sitting next to what the dj dubbed the "rowdy table", containing who i believe to be hans' cousins and friends from home. they were a hoot. the music was perfect for dancing, particularly since we had katie and travis around. rachel, jenny, and i even got to do a performance of the "dancing queen" dance from freshman year. at the end, we all went back to the holiday inn, except for trey, lindsay, and dan, who went to...(insert ominous music here)...the aloha motel.

while i never actually went into the aloha, i heard many stories, and i feel that it deserves mentioning here. they were at the aloha because mixed communication lines resulted in only one hotel room for 7 people, and by the time this was discovered, there was no room left at the inn. we had turned around in the aloha parking lot the previous day, and immediately noticed the creepy guy lounging in the open window. on the second floor. trey freaked out. of course we put the most obsessive-compulsive clean-freak in the group in the bates motel. this is the same guy who had to go wash his hands after touching the pepper shaker at friendly's. we looked for the red lights, because travis informed us this was where the local hookers hung out, but couldn't find any. according to the people who stayed there, the lobby contained an exercise bike and a microwave on a filing cabinet. the room fridge came pre-stocked with half a gallon of milk and a cookie wrapped in a paper towel. you couldn't turn off the water in the sink or tub. the shower had a large hole in the ceiling from which emerged a bare light bulb surrounded by wires. i feel that this will be one of those things that we are still bringing up 20 years from now and laughing about.

everyone took off for home the next morning, after many sad good-byes. it was great to see everybody. beth and i were discussing in the car how we just feel like our group of friends likes each other a lot more than most groups of friends. i mean, we love hanging out together. goodness, we treked from all over the country to see each other and to see rach and the hansasaur. and we can't wait to do it again. we talked about how it's cause we all did theatre together and basically spent our college careers living together, which is true to some extent. there is nothing like spending 10 hours a day trapped in a theatre together to promote group bonding. but i think it goes beyond that. the more i think about it, the more i think it's because 1) we've managed to find other people just as odd, and with the same warped sense of humor as we have, and 2) we laugh together so much. throughout college (and beyond, aparently) we did so many off-the-wall things together. condo weekends, treks to pittsburg in the middle of the night to see movie premiers, late-night sheetz runs, watching the entire second season of arrested development at once during finals week, dressing up in odd costumes at random times, techie dances, e&c and ben's nights, winning nascar bowling bags at 2am. filling somebody's entire dorm room with 20 garbage bags full of balloons.

it all adds up to some of the greatest friendships i've had, and to the reason why i don't regret going to gcc. there've been times that i've wondered why i didn't go to a big school, where i could have the "traditional" college experience, where the administration treats you like an adult and where i could actually get to see a football team that doesn't suck. but it all comes down to this: i have made some of the best friends i will ever have there, and i wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.