Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back in the Saddle


I am back and am much better, thankyouverymuch.

Many, many things on my plate, but tomorrow morning, I am up at 5:45 so BrownBear can get on the plane for the three day Washington, D.C. field trip with the 7th grade. All I can say is that field trips have gotten way better than when I was in 7th grade when we took the train for an all day to New York City.

She has been asked to participate in the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. While she is honored by being asked, Prep and I spent an anxious hour trying to find suitable attire for this event. She isn't amused by the fact that she has to spend time in a dress. Trust me.

If you're up tomorrow, send good thoughts toward BrownBear and those two flights full of 12 year olds, winging their way toward the Capitol. And send some my way - and remember how much I love to fly.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wretched Vile Non-Hand Washing Fifth Graders

Down with the evil stomach virus.

Down three pounds.

Heaven help us.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Houston, I Must Apologize

Galveston, too. And Shreveport and St. Louis. Because this big pile of crap blowing your way must, in some way, be my fault.

Our dishwasher gave out Sunday. (Heaven help me, but that is another story for another day.) I cursed it out before going to big church. (Heaven help me, again.) Dishwasher fixer can't come until Thursday (?!?!), so we have been making due with paper products. (I'm not proud - the planet is going to have to wait for me to get back on board. I'm having to wash these bad boys by hand.)

LawyerBoy graciously volunteered to wait out the repairman on Thursday. (You know how they can't be here at a specific time? They can only promise you that they will make it between 1:00 and 5:00. Well, unless I bring the class on over here, I have to take half a day and get a sub. I don't think so.)

So, while LB is waiting for the repairman, he mows the lawn, trims the hedges, does the freaking laundry.

If you felt that tilting of the axis of the earth, well, it came from here. Sorry.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lest We Forget

This pretty much says it all for me. I was teaching school that day. I didn't have a homeroom and for some reason, I didn't feel compelled to turn on the morning announcements and then the Today Show, as was my custom. Prep was in 4th grade and BrownBear had just started kindergarten. (She was still dew-eyed and almost chubby cheeked; the very essence of angelic.) I went about my morning routine, taught my first class and had started second period when the principal came over the intercom and said, "Teachers, what has occurred this morning has been a terrible national tragedy. However, it is in the best interests of our students for us to turn off the TVs in the building and continue on with our regular day." My students and I looked at each other and went "national emergency?" They begged me to turn on the TV and the goody two shoes that I am, I wouldn't do it. I had just been told by the guy in charge to turn it off; I bloody well wasn't going to ignore his request in front of a room full of 7th graders.
As soon as the bell rang and I got rid of those students, I turned on my TV. The Art teacher, the Speech teacher and a few others ran into my room and we watched what had already unfolded. The towers were down, the Pentagon was in flames and a plane was down in the Pennsylvania countryside.
Tom Brokaw said that Foggy Bottom was on fire and that the White House and Capitol were under alert.
I will never forget that.
I had ridden the Metro past Foggy Bottom (the State Department stop) all during my college internship.
But the real kick in the stomach was the fact that my only brother-in-law worked for Merrill Lynch in the World Trade Center. The one that was already gone.
Cellphone service was gone and there was a line for the only working phone on my hall: the band teacher had cancelled after school practice and every kid in the band was calling his parents. Believe me - I pulled rank and cut. I couldn't get LawyerBoy, I couldn't get my sister (who later told me that she could see the Pentagon burning from her school, I couldn't get my parents, I couldn't get my brother (who was working somewhere near Dick Cheney's hideout in Pennsylvania) and finally, finally, I got my in laws, who calmly informed me that the ShoeKing, who wasn't the ShoeKing at the time, hadn't gone to work that day at all.
And that's when I lost my crap. I could hardly form words but I made them promise to go find out how Prep and BrownBear were. And then I pulled it back together, because I had a room full of 8th graders, dwindling by the minute, who were waiting for me to come be teachergirl.
I don't know what I did that day, but I sure would like to see a repeat of what passed for a lesson.
BrownBear and Prep had a million questions that night and I'm not sure how I answered them. I remember that Prep had been trying to imitate George Bush all summer and that night she finally nailed it and I had to tell her to can it because it wasn't the right night to pull out her comedy routine.
I remember that I drank about a million Cosmopolitans that week - a good, strong Cosmo reminds me of that week, even today. I remember how empty the freeway was that afternoon going home. I remember how crowded the Red Cross was that afternoon - the line was so long that they said to come back another day to give blood. I remember how odd it was to not have any commercial airplanes flying but how comforting it was to hear the fighter planes circling the perimeter. I remember going to the local firestation with Prep and BrownBear and signing the big banner we sent to New York.
I remember all of this, because today, as I talked to my fifth graders, I realized that they don't really have their own conscious memories of this day. What they "remember" is a lot like the Kennedy assassination to them. It is what they have seen on the History Channel. It isn't raw and painful to them. It isn't being unable to find a loved one, only to realize he was at home the whole time. It isn't outrage over being attacked on your country's own soil and having to watch helplessly as your own friends and neighbors leap to their deaths or watch firefighters take the remains of their own out of the rubble. It isn't the sorrow of watching a mother tell the Pope that her son was murdered that day and there wasn't anything left of him to bury. It isn't the courage of those workers who labored day after day, scouring the debris of those towers, hoping to find remains for parents and husbands and wives and children to bury. It isn't the fortitude of those left behind to re-open places like Cantor Fitzgerald and those other companies decimated that day. Our students don't have those memories - they only have us. And like so many other things we have to provide our students with, we have to provide them with our memories of this day, so that they won't forget it.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

To Sleep; To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

I am drop dead exhausted, y'all.

I have been out of my house the past three evenings in a row.

Book club Monday night. Don't get me started on the disastrous choices they have laid out for us to read for October. I refuse. I will go to the party but will not buy either of their choices, including one Swan House, by a former Atlanta native who now resides in the south of France where she serves as a missionary and writes Christian fiction. Discuss among yourselves. Because that raises all kinds of questions I certainly can't answer.

Last night, the LB and I went to Back to School night at Prep's school. We were on the death march to Bataan, going to and from classes in a herd of well dressed preppy folk. By the time we got to French 4 (my question is does Prep know any French at all) we were late to class and had to stand, shamefaced in the back. Prep has learned French from several foreigner teachers, including a Chinese woman and an African man. No French nationals. Discuss. Because, again, it raises all kinds of questions I cannot answer.

In Botany, LB leaned over to me and started quoting Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men." He started off with "I'd just appreciate it if you'd just say thank you or take up a rake and shovel and start out there in the garden." I don't know why he got started or why I thought it was so damned funny, but it took everything in me not to snort out loud. Poor, precious botany teacher is about 12 years old. And has a ponytail. Quite a few of the teachers I looked at this year are about 12; and Prep is 16, so I am a little concerned, to say the least.

Tonight was choir.

Right now, I am watching Prep graph functions. I really don't understand what she's doing and the mere fact that she asked me to help her cracks me up. I handed her the colored pencils. That's about all I remember from Calculus. And in actuality, I don't even remember using the colored pencils.

I think it's time to form that prayer chain Cupcake keeps talking about.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Just Another Manic Monday

Every month, schools are required to have a fire drill. If you pay close attention, you can tell it is coming, because principals, guidance counselors, secretaries and janitors all have roles to play and assume their positions before the alarm goes off.

Today, right after we returned from specials and had let our kids go to their first classes, the fire alarm sounded. I was a bit puzzled because I thought the administration would at least wait until our kids were safely in their classes before pulling the alarm. It's never a good idea to pull the alarm with kids wandering around - seriously.

Silly me. When I got outside with my class, my teaching partner had two different groups - my own homeroom and her homeroom. She was trying to pawn off a class to me, but, as I pointed out to her, I already had a group. Kind of like a Chinese firedrill. I kind of knew something was up when I looked over at the front door and spied the Principal and Assistant Principal.

Apparently they were kind of in the dark, too. They hadn't pulled the alarm - one of the ladies in the kitchen burned some butter and it caused the smoke alarm to go off. Once that happens, it's all automatic.

The funny thing is that firemen were in the building teaching fire safety.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

You might not recognize her, but this is Georgia's fearless leader in education. The State Superintendent. And tonight, heaven help us, she is going to be on Jeff Foxworthy's show "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?"
She has already said on one of the promos, "I probably know more than most people." Apparently, she didn't know enough to stay off of television in the first place or to get a makeover when she plowed ahead with plans to go on television. She didn't know enough to tell the teachers of the state that the Social Studies and Math super big state tests were going to hell in a hand basket when she knew months ahead of time.
I am amazed. If she flames out, everyone is going to say, of course, she's from Georgia. And if she succeeds, who is going to be surprised? She is the freaking Superintendent of Education. She should be smarter than a fifth grader.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Tales Out of School

If I know I am going to be out of my classroom, I leave detailed, detailed, lesson plans which I expect to be followed to the letter. If I didn't expect them to be followed, I wouldn't take the time to make the plans in the first place. I'd just leave some pile of crap on my desk and let the kids muddle through the best that they could. However, I don't do that because I care about what my students are doing, even when I'm not there.

Apparently, my substitute yesterday didn't share my enthusiasm for the plan. She sat in my chair, behind my desk and ate Cheerios from her box. She shouted directives from behind my desk and when those didn't work, she called my kids special. Now, what the hell is that supposed to mean? Something sarcastic, as one of my kids told me. They aren't stupid. They got it. She didn't even write my assignment on the whiteboard.

Never fear - I took her name off our sub list.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sick Day

Y'all. I am no longer qualified to be that soccer mom I used to be. Today, I had a doctor's appointment, so I took the whole day off. After all, I had to go midtown to get to my doctor. That, in and of itself qualifies for a sick day. But the rest of my glorious sick day? Nails, massage and hair. And let me tell you. I am exhausted. Personally, I don't understand it. Perhaps it has something to do with me never being in a position of being relaxed. Today, I was caught so off guard, that my poor little body didn't know what to do. I am about to take a nap.

But at the doctor's office: she said, "You've lost weight! Tell me what you did." My crowning glory for the day. Or week. Maybe the entire rest of the year.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Hurricane Holiday

My brother cracks me up. He chose this week to go see my Dad at the beach. If he hadn't noticed, it's freaking hurricane season. My sister and I go a little earlier in the summer. Not our brother. He likes to do things a little differently. As far as I can tell, it's going to be sunny there on Wednesday. Nothing like a beach vacation with a four year old and a storm coming up your coast.

I can honestly say I would rather be here than at the beach house. Crazy sister-in-law who is a loud drunk, father's girlfriend living in my mother's house, nephew who hasn't gotten a real routine yet and my brother who operates on a short fuse.

You can't pick your family, can you?


adopt your own virtual pet!