Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reasons I Should NOT Work At Home Full-Time......

When my part-time online teaching job started hiring folks full-time (WITH benefits AND retirement), I almost fluttered myself to death. The hopes....the dreams....the possibilities.....

I have come to realize, however, that working at home full-time would NOT be the ideal job for me. And that's not JUST the sour grapes talking, either.

Here are some reasons I should NOT work at home full-time:

  • I have a hard time creating a schedule. I just work all the time until it's all done. Which is pretty much never.
  • I try to watch Wimbledon over the top of the laptop while I'm grading work. I'm sure I have interjected a profanity or two into my comments on students' assignments.
  • My hair would NEVER get brushed.
  • I would NEVER wear a bra again, and you know what that means for someone past forty.
  • Hubby would always expect me to prepare his lunch when he comes home from work.
  • After January (or February or March), Hubby will be home all the time (when he's not at the golf course), and being on a computer does NOT constitute work to him.
  • My posture is horrible enough now; imagine day after day of sitting in the recliner with the laptop.
  • The kitchen is just a few steps away.
  • I get used to not leaving the house, and then it becomes a painful ordeal just to go to the grocery store.
  • My friends at my "real" job would miss my sarcasm.
  • Having 10 students this summer is wearing me out. If I taught full-time, I might have 50 or more at a time. I'd be bonkers. Even more so than I am now.
  • Right now when I get overwhelmed, I just quit for the night even if I'm NOT caught up. And I say to myself, "Screw it. Let them fire me if they want to." If I worked full-time, I would not have that luxury.
  • If I worked full-time online, I wouldn't have time to have another part-time job that I would use to buy toys. (There's something bass-ackward about that, but I can't pinpoint it.)
  • I have already learned that teaching online does NOT allow the freedom to travel that Hubby and I are looking forward to, even if it seems like it would.
  • My wardrobe would consist of ONE t-shirt, ONE pair of shorts (sweats in the winter), and ONE pair of flipflops. And no one would even know that the t-shirt would be the same one I wore on the elliptical the day before. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!
  • I would never be able to convince some of Hubby's family members that although I never left home, I wasn't really available for errands, drop-ins, and gossip.
  • Gus would be up all day every day, and he would never again get the proper amount of sleep.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!

It is nearly impossible for me to believe that the jaundiced baby I brought home from the hospital in a yellow dress and yellower skin turns 25 years old today. Just how is that possible?

Here is that "baby" standing on the flight deck of the USS Harry S. Truman on their way to the Persian Gulf. Isn't it some sort of crime to allow your only child to work on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier? And go off into a war zone?

This grown-up girl can't be the same one who fell with a toy baton in her mouth and tore her uvula.

Who wrecked her bicycle and had scratches IN HER ARMPIT.

Who took dance for 10 years and now crawls around on helicopters for a living.

Who scampered away from me in the train station in Munich when she was 9 years old because she had absolutely no fear of getting lost.

Who was disappointed the first time she flew commercially, because she found out she couldn't jump out.

Who didn't crawl for the longest time because she could get where she wanted to by rolling over and over.

Who, when she asked where the car was at and I responded "Behind the 'at'" pointed out to me, "Mama, that's not an at....that's a van."

It's just not possible that she's all grown up now.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

If I Won the Lottery Tonight I Would.....

  • Pay to fix Nurse Jane's air conditioner and pay for them to sleep in a hotel until it's fixed.
  • Buy Katydid a new house so she doesn't have to pay rent.
  • Buy a bigger Harley.
  • Pay off Sweet Girl's mortgage and her car.
  • Put new windows in our house.
  • Sell our house and build a new one on a few acres of land. (Never mind the one above.)
  • Tell Hubby not to bother going to work tomorrow.
  • Hire a personal trainer.
  • Buy the things for my school that we always hear we can't afford.
  • Go on a cruise to Hawaii.
Excuse me while I go buy some tickets.

Never mind, the lottery isn't high enough tonight for all that.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Nash Bash.......

We are smack-dab in the middle of our annual family reunion, lovingly referred to as the Nash Bash. My mother's maiden name was Nash, and she is the second eldest of six children. Most of them reproduced, so we are quite a clan of Nashkin. This year's extravaganza is being held at Hickory Knob State Park in McCormick, South Carolina.

Pay us a visit over at the family website. The place to go to see what's going on with everyone in the family (or at least those who will post updates and newsy stories) is the Nash Trash. The get-together every year doesn't cost anyone attending one penny. It's all paid for out of Nash Cash.

To replenish the Nash Cash fund every year, we hold an auction after our huge meal on Saturday. You never know what item is going to create the most frenzied bidding, or what two cousins or in-laws will get into a war over some memento or the other.

One year the bidding was fierce for a poster-sized print of my grandparents on their wedding day. Long after the other bidders had dropped out, my cousin's husband and I were still trying to outdo each other. Hubby sat beside me, saying, "Bid. Bid." If possible, he's even more competitive than I am. I finally won the poster for $205, and I considered it well worth it.

Today I donated the picture back, and it went for $60. Go figure. But I've had it for several years, and it's someone else's turn. And $200 was pretty cheap, considering all I've gotten from the Nash Bash all these years. This year it was two nights' lodging, a huge lunch, a cookout tonight, and two breakfasts.

During today's auction, I found out the answer to a mystery regarding this photo. I have previously posted the picture on my blog, and I wondered if my brother, who couldn't have been more than 7 or 8 years old, were actually "shooting a bird" as he appeared to be, or if it was just a fluky way his hand was captured in the photography.

He's the angelic-looking one on the far left of the middle row. Cousin Jimmy (second from right, middle row) cleared things up for us today. Seems that ALL the boys were supposed to surreptitiously make the obscene gesture with the middle finger, but everyone chickened out at the last minute. Except for Jack. The youngest one. Boy, was THAT a portent of future events.......

I brought my kayak along, and Sweet Girl tried it for the first time. I think she discovered it's more work than it appears, even just doing flatwater paddling.

My uncle, who is no longer married to my aunt and hasn't been for probably 30 years or more, but he still comes to the Nash Bash. He even wears the t-shirt. And my cousin's husband, who has been known to run up bids in the auction even for items he doesn't want.

My cousin Jimmy, Aunt Jo, and Uncle Shelby prior to the beginning of the auction. Shelby has been our official auctioneer for as many years as he's been in the family, and he does an excellent job.

Rhawnie and April. Rhawnie is the daughter of my first cousin. Which makes her my first cousin once removed, NOT my second cousin. Sorry, I'm picky about that.

My cousins Sharon and Keni. Who used to be Carol. She has a brother, Carl, who used to be Kenny. When you figure it out, let me know.

My niece Kim and her boyfriend Sam. They really ARE happy to be there, honest. No one made them. They chose to come. I promise they did not come to the Nash Bash under the duress that this picture implies.

And this dude (dudette?) wasn't even invited.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sports in England.....

I just love it when major sports events take place in England. In the United Kingdom. Which of those is correct? I don't want to offend anyone.....

Lakeland Jo wrote a couple of weeks ago about what a pain it is when Wimbledon is going on. I guess if I lived there and had to contend with the crowds and the hype and all that I would feel differently, but I loooooooooooooooooooooooove Wimbledon.

I love it that it happens in the summer, when I'm home from school. And I love it that it comes on at 7:00 AM, because when else can I watch sports at that hour of the morning?

I have strict rules for deciding which players to pull for.

Generally, I pull for the Americans. That's sometimes a futile exercise when it comes to Wimbledon. I think 16 or 18 Americans started, and there were 6 left at one point this morning. And the one I was pulling for went down, so then there were 5.

I look at the seedings and pull for the underdog. Unless the underdog is playing Roger Federer. And anyone playing against Roger Federer is an underdog. He's just so darned cute. He even makes cute commercials. Last year I struggled with whether to pull for the cute Federer or the cute Nadal. This year I don't have that conflict, since Nadal had to pull out with an injury.

I pull against one of the Williams sisters, because it's so boooooooooooooooooorrrrrriiiiingggggg when it comes to a final between the two of them. I mean come on, how much of each other's game can they NOT know at this point? This year I'm pulling for Venus, which sort of goes against my own rule, because she's won more times than Serena has. But Serena grunts.

I pull against any women players who grunt. I find the grunting very distracting, and if I were playing against a grunter, I would send a line drive right toward her larynx. Game, set, match. It's not just me, either. The commentators did a whole segment about the grunters one day this week. One of the guilty ones was interviewed and she basically said, "No one's gonna make me stop grunting and I'll do it if I want to, and if anyone doesn't like it, they can just leave." I think she's up for the Miss Congeniality award.

I pull for anyone who has made it further than he/she should have had. Someone considered too old to play tennis, someone who has had a baby, someone fresh out of rehab....... oh wait, that's not tennis.

The only thing I don't get is the whole strawberries and cream thing.

One more week of Wimbledon, then it'll be time for the British Open two weeks after that. Sigh. Life is good.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Our Romantic Wedding.....

Thanks to MamaNeena for providing me with a blog topic tonight. I was going to write about how I felt Farrah Fawcett got cheated today, but this is much more interesting. At least to me, and it's my blog.

Like many modern couples, Hubby and I lived together before we got married. I didn't really feel right about it, having a teenaged daughter and all that, but I also didn't feel right about continuing to pay rent on a cracker-box little duplex and then spending every evening (and countless dollars in gas) running up and down the road to be with him. As soon as I could get out of that lease, Sweet Girl and I moved in with him.

Both of us assumed from the beginning that we would get married, but neither of us was in too big a hurry. We had both been through nasty divorces, and we were both a little gun-shy. I didn't believe there was a decent man left on the face of the earth, and no matter how good he was to me, I kept waiting for the "real" person to emerge.

Poor Sweet Girl. She had the lousiest excuses for men in her life. Every time Hubby would do something nice for either one of us.......... and I'm not talking roses and jewelry here, I'm talking about things like mopping the kitchen or taking a Pepsi fountain thingie to Sweet Girl's middle school dance....... she would look at me with her jaw hanging down and say, "Mooooooooooom?????" Like, "What is up with this guy being NICE to us?"

Poor Sweet Girl.

Anyway, right after we moved in, Hubby's company changed his schedules to the night shift for a brief period. I thought I would hate it, but it actually gave Sweet Girl and me the chance to get used to living together in a new place. Again. I was finishing up the year teaching high school but trying to get a job in another county, and Sweet Girl was in middle school. We were all busy.

The subject of getting married came up a few times, but we didn't get down to the details.

We talked about having something very small at our house, just inviting the family.

Then when we realized my mother would have to come, we talked about just inviting HIS family.

[Aside: Poor guy. The first time he met my mother, he tried really hard to make a good impression and everything. He took his courage in his hands and said to her, "I'm going to take care of your daughter." Her reply: "You'd better."]

We didn't spend a lot of time on the topic; we had other things going on.

Along about May, we were standing in the kitchen one Wednesday night [the day of the week will be important in just a moment], and the subject came up again. We started flipping through the calendar pages. By then Hubby was on a strange schedule in which he only had the entire weekend off every third week. I played the piano at church, so we were also limited by my obligation to be at church. [When you're a Presbyterian, you can get away with living in sin and being employed by the church. You should try it sometime!]

"How about this week?" he asked, pointing at a weekend in June.

"Can't....that's BRAG." Damn, was I die-hard or what?

"How about this week?"

"That's when we're going on a family vacation. Do you really want the teenager on our honeymoon?"

This went back and forth a couple of times, and pretty soon we were all the way through summer with no dates that we could agree on.

I looked at the calendar again and said, "There's this Friday."

"That'll work."

This Friday as in two days from when the conversation was taking place.

That took care of the inviting people problem. It did NOT, however, take care of the problem of having to have blood tests in the state of Georgia [we have since abolished that archaic practice].

Hubby had to work that Friday, but he said he could get finished around lunchtime, and we could drive to Chattanooga, the closest place where blood tests would not be required. It sounds so.... illicit, doesn't it? I put in for a personal day at school, although I wound up going in for the morning because I was in charge of putting together the graduation program. Since I had a substitute in my classroom, it gave me several uninterrupted hours to work on the program. That little detail has almost NOTHING to do with this story, and a good blogger would edit it out.

Hubby's work took him longer than he thought, and I was beginning to think he had changed his mind. We finally left around 12:30 or 1:00, which was still puh-lenty of time to get to Chattanooga.

Only they chose that weekend to rebuild I-75 North.

We crept along in traffic, watching our watches, watching each other watching our watches, wondering if it could be a sign that we weren't supposed to get married at all, wondering if the other person was wondering that too. Hubby drove [just about the LAST time he would ever drive anywhere in our marriage] and I proofread the dissertation of my now-ex-best-friend. If I had known she was going to dump me as a friend, I certainly wouldn't have taken her dissertation along with me to get married.

Finally we got to Chattanooga and had NO IDEA where the courthouse was. We happened upon it purely by chance, and there was an empty parking space right on the corner. We wheeled in and parked, then ran up the stairs to the courthouse. It was 4:25. Puh-lenty of time. Maybe this was meant to be after all.

I was wearing a short navy-and-white print dress with Mary Janes and bobby sox because at that point I was still A) slim; B) young; and C) fit enough to get away with it. That also has nothing to do with this story, but damn, I miss that body.

There was a guard in the entrance, leaning back in his chair with his hands behind his head.

"Where do we go to get married?" we asked, out of breath.

"Take the elevator upstairs, turn left, second door on the right," he said langorously. [Don't you just love that word?] Then he looked at his watch.

"They close at 4:30," he said.

They married us PLUS the two couples who came in after us.

It was a very efficient, assembly-line-type affair. You bought your license at this station, you did this at this station, you did this at this station, and then you went out the door. Outside in the corridor there were several retired old ministers, and each one had his own particular place to marry folks. One was by the steps, one was by the bench, one was outside under the tree. Would you believe I don't remember which one we did? I don't think we went outside though.....I think after our breathless run up the stairs, we took the one who would require us to walk the shortest distance.

Isn't that romantic?

Isn't that just the wedding that every little girl dreams about?

Just goes to show you......

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Am Blessed.....

Tonight will not be a whining, complaining, bitching, self-pitying, or sarcastic post.

Therefore it will by necessity be very short.

Every now and then I just like to remember (and point out) that I am very blessed.

Life has been good to me. Better than I probably deserve. If something were to happen to me tomorrow, I have lived a good life.

I hope it doesn't, because my computer room is a mess. And I haven't finished the family scrapbook for this weekend's family reunion.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another Note to Self.....

Note to Self #2:

This note to self should be saved and stored away until late next April or early May, whenever the folks at your virtual PART-TIME job start asking who wants to teach summer school.

You know how you always say it's hard to turn down extra money?
You don't need it. You're not broke. Walk away from the money.

You know how you always say it's only a couple of hours a day?
It's 8:00 at night, your floors need to be swept and mopped, you are NOT caught up, and the students will turn in a dozen or so assignments overnight because that's when the little bastards....I mean darlings....like to do their work. You haven't been in the pool since Sunday, and even then you felt guilty. It's way more than a couple of hours a day.

You know how you say you can't tell these people no because you might want to teach for them full-time?
The full-time job you already have isn't this hard. And you only have 540 more school days until you can retire. Then they'll pay you to stay home. It's okay to say no every now and then, particularly if it's to save your own sanity.

You know how school starts in August and you always feel like you didn't have a summer?
Could be because you spent all summer working at a PART-TIME job. Take the summer off. Instead of the one week you will have between the end of the virtual school summer session and the beginning of your real job.

You know how you always think if you could just get caught up everything would be all right?
There is NO SUCH THING as getting caught up in summer session. The night before exams (WHICH IS DURING THE WEEK OF HUBBY'S OTHER VACATION, I MIGHT ADD), you will still be grading assignments (albeit halfheartedly) and wondering if they really matter.

You know how you always think this is something you can do to be productive while Hubby is at work during the summer?
Hubby usually gets home by noon. And you're on the computer. All afternoon.



***By the way, I hope you pay more attention to this note to self than you did the one from last August. That note to self was to remind you not to ever go to another UGA football game because you suffered so at the last one. Don't think I didn't notice today when you bought Hubby a new pair of UGA shorts to wear to the first home game.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Diet and Exercise.....

This is how my diet went today:

  • I had half a grapefruit with Splenda for breakfast.
  • I went to the grocery store and bought lots of fruit and veggies.
  • I came home and slathered a graham cracker with peanut butter and then sprinkled it with chocolate chips and popped it in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  • I ate a few more chocolate chips.
  • Then I had a salad.

This is how my exercise regimen went today:

  • I did 45 minutes on the elliptical. (It scares me that I actually LIKE the elliptical. My knees, however, do not.)
  • I prepared to do Day 2 of my "Slim in 6" DVD. (Note that they did not say "Slim in 6 WHAT?")
  • The DVD player would not work, so I knelt down to see if the wires were plugged in completely.
  • I'm still there.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Weird Dream #5.......

I don't know why I tell these things. I'm sure one day after telling one of my dreams, I'm going to find the men in white coats at my door, ready to take me away.

Last night I dreamed I was chaperoning the prom. Only I also had a date to the prom, a teenager whose identity I can't figure out from the dream. Probably a good thing. Only I also had a Hubby in the dream, so this date must have just been a pretend thing.

A school bus (yes, a yellow one) took us all to eat at Applebee's. Service was terrible, and all I ordered was a beer. Apropos, but not necessarily realistic if I were chaperoning the prom. I tipped generously for my $3 beer (I always do), but my receipt read $14. I raised all kinds of holy you-know-what. And they would NOT change the amount. One of the waitresses justified it because one table of our students had ordered $35 worth of food and only tipped $3.50. I told her it might be true that they needed to be educated regarding proper tipping, but that didn't mean I had to pay $11 more for a beer.

And then I argued so long with them that when I got ready to leave, the bus had left me there. I was trying to remember who was on the bus whose cell phone number I had, and I finally remembered one student who graduated last year. I was crying by the time I got hold of him, and I distinctly remember saying, "Nothing has gone right this whole night." And then I proceeded to walk home.

I can't figure out why Hubby couldn't come get me. He might have been pissed about me having a date to the prom and all.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

How Far Will a Parent Go?.......

One of the things I like about teaching online is that I (usually) don't have to deal with difficult parents. I don't have to deal with difficult parents too much in my real job either, but when I taught in the traditional school it just went with the territory.

I'm teaching summer school online this summer because I cannot seem to turn down extra money. We don't really need it per se, but it's easy money. Usually.

I have this one parent who is creating an awkward situation. She's logging in to her son's virtual school account when I know he's not there. In fact she TOLD me he wasn't there. She said she was "downloading some stories" for him but she couldn't get one of them to work, so she called me. First of all, there is no "downloading stories". You click a link, the story opens, you read it. Second of all, aren't you just a little embarrassed to admit TO THE TEACHER that you're logged in under your son's name? Hello?

When she posted a message on the discussion board that was clearly from HER, not her son, I became a little suspicious. So I started checking his log-in history. There were multiple log-ins during the times he is supposed to be in summer school. A quiz was even submitted during that time. Every time there is a question, it is MOM who calls. Never the student.

I don't like to assume the worst of people, but there's too much evidence against this woman. I started thinking about last semester, when I had her OTHER son in a different course. (I teach students from all over the state of Georgia, and I wind up with two from the same family in two different courses? Lucky me.) At first I was so impressed with how on top of things this mom was, how involved. (Yeah.......HOW involved?) Some parents don't know their kids are even taking an online course, and some never return my phone calls. So it was a welcome change to have a parent who knew what was going on with her son's school work. Ummmmmm hmmmmmm..... Maybe I'm just a little slow.

Last semester the older brother was doing fine in the course, turning in his work on time, participating in discussions, doing very well. And then he just dropped off the face of the earth. No log-ins, no assignments submitted, no tests taken, zip. Zilch. Nada. I called and left messages, I emailed, I tried to contact his high school counselor, I even contacted our virtual counselor. (We have one of those just in case our students have virtual problems. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) I got no response. He (naturally) didn't take his exam, he (naturally) failed the course. It's not uncommon in the virtual world. Students get behind, they give up.

When I called the mom at the beginning of summer semester because I had the younger son, I found out the whole story. Seems that mom was called away to South Africa suddenly because they thought her father might be dying. She left the country and instructed her husband to stay on top of the son's progress in his virtual course. He never turned in another assignment.

I sympathized with her when I first heard the story. She was so angry at her husband for not following through and making the son do his work.

After this new problem surfaced, however, I began to have my suspicions. Perhaps last semester the work dried up because SHE WASN'T HERE TO DO IT? And even if she weren't the one doing the work (I'm willing to give her an itty bitty benefit of the doubt), should a high school senior who has to have a parent telling him to do his work really be taking an online course ANYWAY?

Yesterday the student (or parent, as the case may be) submitted an assignment and had the audacity to ask if his mother could just attend the live computer lectures IN HIS PLACE and tell him what he needed to know. Good Lord!

I had been avoiding the mother's phone calls, something I never do, because I was waiting to hear from my virtual administrators (yeah, they exist in the virtual world too) about what to do. In the meantime, she called AGAIN yesterday while I was at the conference (I refuse to call it a "professional learning symposium"), saying some quizzes that she knew her son had done were showing up as not completed. I'm sure she's anxious to see how she did on them. I didn't take her call because I was in a meeting, but I sent her an email explaining where I was and why I couldn't take her call. I'm rude enough to EMAIL during a professional learning conference, but not rude enough to take a call. I do have some scruples. Okay, one. Scruple.

In my email I explained to her that it was really much more effective to talk to the STUDENT when there is a question about his/her online course, and to have her son call me Monday evening after he gets out of summer school. I'm sort of over taking this woman's phone calls on the weekends.

She called me again. Last night. On a Friday night. At 7:20. By now, of course, her number is programmed into my cell phone, and I ignored her call again. Her message was "give me a ring" (I did mention they were from South Africa, didn't I?). This time she didn't even say what the problem was, but she sounded pissed.

I dread talking to her. I don't know if someone from her son's school has alerted her to the fact that we think she's a big old bag of cheating, or if she's still just anxious to learn how those quizzes came out. I refuse to speak to her this weekend, though. In fact, I haven't even logged in all day. We are entitled to take the weekend off, particularly after two whole days of meetings and a night away from home. So what if I got to sleep with my husband anyway; I missed the DOG. (Please don't tell him I said that.)

I'm not usually one to put things off, even uncomfortable, awkward things. I'd rather deal with it and get it behind me. So this is going to hang over my head until sometime Monday, when I probably won't get the chance to call her because she'll call me first. I don't know how it will turn out; it's possible nothing is going to happen at all. But at some point I HAVE to tell her that logging in under her son's log-in is inappropriate. It feels weird having to tell a grown-up that.

I wouldn't wish anything bad on her family or anything, but maybe she'll get called back to South Africa. Summer school is only 4 more weeks........

Friday, June 19, 2009

Awesome Show.....

Last night, I spent the night in the big city of Atlanta. We were having our two-day "professional learning symposium" (give me a large personal break), and normally I just drive back and forth instead of staying overnight.

This year, however, I had an ulterior motive.

After yesterday's session, I went to a hotel just down the street from our gathering place and checked in. I set up my computer and graded a few things. I freshened up my make-up and combed my hair. I still had a good bit of time, so I took a brief nap. Listening to presentations all day had worn me out.

About an hour later, there was a knock on the door. A good-looking man stood outside my door, and I let him in. We went to eat at the Broadway Diner and then went to see Jersey Boys at the Fox Theatre.
Okay, it was Hubby, but it felt sort of illicit. I mean, I checked into the hotel, he got there about an hour later, we spent the night, and then he got up and left early this morning. Gus spent the night alone (well, he had the cats for company), and Hubby wanted to get home and let him out to relieve his bladder. Plus he had a tee time. Hubby, not Gus.

Hubby's parting shot as he left this morning: "It's been a long time since I had a one-night stand."

Me: "It better have been."

I can't tell you how fabulous Jersey Boys was. One of my readers, Mickie (who hasn't posted lately.....I wonder what's up?), had commented that I was going to love Jersey Boys, but I had no idea just how much.

Oddly enough, it was Hubby's idea for us to go see the show. He's not big on....... shall we say..... events that smack of "culture". We bought the tickets way back in January, because that's the way we do things. We CAN be spontaneous, but we tend to plan things ahead. We're already scoping out tickets to an Atlanta Falcons game in November. Football is much more up Hubby's alley than a musical production, but he saw an advertisement for Jersey Boys and thought he might like to see it.

As big a Billy Joel fan as I am, I liked Jersey Boys MUCH more than Movin' Out. I loved the music, I loved their performances, I loved the humor, I loved the everything. I would go again tonight if I could.

But I wouldn't go alone. And there would go the whole one-night-stand concept.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Katydid!

Happy Birthday to my sister, Katydid!

I had a favorite picture I wanted to post with this blog, but I went off and left it at home, and I'm away for the night. It is a picture of Katydid on her bike, somewhere on the Withlacoochee Trail in Florida the one year we did Bike Florida. I snapped it with a disposable camera (before digital) while I was on MY bike. And we both lived to tell about it.

I was always envious of Katydid when I was growing up. She was A) skinny; and B) pretty. And she had C) straight hair, which folks in our family would gladly kill for. She was a high school cheerleader (when I was still very, very, very, very, very, very young ha ha ha ha ha), and they had these cute little outfits they wore for pep rallies. Because we were the Warriors in our county, their pep rally uniforms were navy blue squaw-looking things with white fringe all around the edges. And they wore white moccasins with them. And thank goodness for spell check, because I always think moccasins has one "c" and two "s"'s.

I had crushes on every one of Katydid's boyfriends, including the one named Bubba. She finally found out his real name, but I won't publish it here, just in case someone out there knows him. I wouldn't want to embarrass him. Let's just say being called Bubba was a very good thing.

The first time I decided to ride in the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia, Katydid was going to give up her vacation and go along with me as a "sag", or support person. It wasn't necessary, but it meant I wouldn't be totally alone. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. Probably a good thing. Two months before the ride was to begin, Katydid bought herself a bicycle and decided she would go with me. Two months. And she did. She rode every mile with me. She waited while I lay down on the side of the road (and we have pictures to prove it), but we never got into a sag wagon. That may be because we didn't know there was such a thing. If we had known that in a truly dire situation a vehicle would have taken us to the next rest stop or maybe even into camp, we probably wouldn't have finished that first year.

But we did, and we went back the second year. And the third. And the fourth. And the fifth. And we just finished riding part of BRAG for what was my 18th consecutive year. Katydid took a hiatus for a few years, but she came back and picked up right where she left off.

We had always wanted to ride a tandem. Well, actually Katydid wanted it more than I did. I wasn't sure how we would manage. But when she came back from the Land of the Strange and Unusual, we bought a tandem. I don't think we ever discussed who would be the captain; we both just sort of figured it would be me. And she trusts me. I need to talk to her about that.....sometimes it may not be a good thing that she trusts me. Because I don't always have the best judgment. I haven't gotten us killed yet, and we haven't even fallen over (although there have been a couple of close calls), but sometimes I don't think things all the way through before deciding what to do.

Katydid was always good at sewing, a skill that somehow eluded me. I know how to read a pattern, and I understand what it's telling me to do, but I can't make my fingers obey what my brain is saying. I cross-stitch, I crochet, I quilt, but I cannot sew. I will sew on a button under duress, but that's about it. If I have a pair of pants that need to be hemmed (and every pair of pants I buy needs to be hemmed, except for capris, which on me just become pants of a proper length), I either go to the alterations shop (if I have time) or I use masking tape (in a pinch). But whenever I had a special occasion, I could count on Katydid to sew something for me. Like my prom dress my senior year. I had a specific pattern in mind, and I bought the fabric, the lining, the pattern, all the notions, etc. And she made a beautiful dress for me. She told me when she was finished to throw that $%!*::&^! pattern away, but she still made it. She made my going-away outfit when I got married, and she even altered it for summertime wear. It was beautiful yellow linen.

When I was 10, Katydid's then-husband was stationed at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. Mom put me on a bus by myself, and I went to visit for a week. (Oh pipe down, that kind of thing wasn't considered at all dangerous back then.) Katydid and I hung out at the pool at their complex (trailer park? apartment? I can't remember) while her husband worked all week. They took me bowling for the first time. I don't remember what my score was, but I can assure you it ain't much better today.

I always knew I could go to both of my sisters with any problem in the world, and if they couldn't solve it, they would help me figure out a way at least to make it better.

Katydid, however, sometimes has to be reminded that I'm all grown up now.

Seriously. "Did you go to the bathroom?" Did you really ask me that? Just last week? Seriously?

Happy Birthday, Katydid!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Polluters Make Me Sick....

It amazes me that people will go to a state park and throw trash either in the woods or in the lake.

Actually, it does more than amaze me.

It sickens, annoys, saddens, depresses, irritates, angers, and bothers me.

Why can't people take care of their trash?

Every time I go kayaking in the park, I take along a plastic grocery bag and, following the example of my friend Rozmo, I pick up trash at the water's edge.

Some of it is very old, like the Miller Lite can I found today that had the old-fashioned pop top on it. You know, the ring with the tab that came completely off? Either somebody was hoarding some very old beer, or that can has been floating in the lake at Fort Yargo for a very long time.

I didn't get pictures of everything today. But I figure if you've seen one plastic bottle or beer can, you've pretty much seen them all.

Bait containers are also frequent finds.

Sometimes I find floats, lures, and hooks, and I really can't hold that against anyone. There are lots of trees around the edge of the lake, and it's understandable that one's fishing line may occasionally get tangled. I can also understand why they didn't want to wade out there and retrieve the floats. Today I found a fake worm wrapped around a tree branch, and I didn't want to touch it even though I KNEW it was fake. But I did. Yuck.

This is the bag full of trash I collected just from one small portion of the lake today. I finally cut short my kayaking, because the trash was beginning to take up too much room in the kayak.

I don't mind, though, because if I weren't cruising around the edge of the lake picking up trash, I wouldn't be able to get shots like these.

I started shooting from a good ways away, because turtles are shy and generally jump in the water before I can get a good shot.

I was drifting, and the angle was perfect as I got closer to the tree.

He's trying to determine how much of a threat I am.

Wary but not afraid.

That's close enough, lady. Sheesh, I'm just trying to get some sun here.

And this one was right before my kayak bumped his tree. That was pretty much the end of that. I did, however, tell him thanks.

Click on the link below if you're curious to see the "route" I took in my kayaking adventure. If you click on the "Player" tab, you can see it in action. I think it's hilarious that it looks in some places like I was kayaking on dry land. Not!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Feeling Inferior.....

I was going to write a whole post about how much I hate Pioneer Woman, but then I had to be honest and admit that I don't really HATE her. She's impossible to hate. But she makes me feel so.........darned inferior.

I would love to be the photographer that Pioneer Woman is. She just knows so darn much about it. I have a big honking digital SLR camera that I paid mucho dinero for, and I still use it like it's a point-and-shoot. It doesn't help that Pioneer Woman also apparently has a bottomless pit of a money source, and she has all the best toys and gadgets for her cameras. Even after I retire and have gobs of time to spend learning everything about photography, my brain will never hold one millionth of the information she knows. That's hateable.

Anyone who has read Pioneer Woman's blog knows that she is also an amazing cook. Not only does she devote an entire section of her blog to her cooking, she has produced a COOKBOOK, for God's sake. And I'll probably feed her damn legend and buy a copy, hoping against hope that I can duplicate.....maybe just ONCE.....her success in the kitchen. But I know I'll never measure up, and I'll go on flippantly saying I hate cooking anyway, when I know the truth of the matter is that I'm just not good at it. And not interested in getting any better. But Pioneer Woman can cook in her sleep. That's hateable.

I could aspire to reach her level in photography and cooking, but I have to admit that matching her parenting skills is beyond me now. My Sweet Girl will be 25 in 13 days, and any hopes I had of becoming a better mother went by the wayside years ago. I've always said that parenting is nothing but blind luck. Pioneer Woman, then, should go to Las Vegas and spin the roulette wheel. 'Cause she got really lucky four times.

I can't even write as well as Pioneer Woman, and I've got three college degrees. One of them in English. Maybe I can -- I found a grammatical error in one of her posts when she said something about "laying by the pool." Everyone knows it's "lying by the pool." So maybe I do have one small thing on her. Never mind that only six people in the world, the ones who read this blog, know that I have one tiny bit more of intelligence as it relates to English grammar than the paragon of blogging, Pioneer Woman.

One area where I DON'T feel inferior, however, is comparing Hubby to Marlboro Man. She can have MM's forearms and chaps. I'll take Hubby's legs over MM's forearms any day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Vacation is Killing Them.....

One of those Kodak moments that got away from me....

I had the perfect opportunity to capture Hubby and Gus, both asleep in the recliner. But when I got up to go get the camera, Gus got curious enough to open one eye. And when I came back, he decided he needed to be an equal opportunity recliner dog, and he jumped over here with me. He tries very hard not to play favorites.

But he couldn't sustain it, and he got down in his usual place under my laptop table. He props his little head on the bar all the time. It doesn't look comfortable to me, but he must not mind it.

Hubby is on vacation this week, and he didn't get his "power nap" today. He mowed the lawn, he put pine straw out, he had a man come pick up some scrap metal that we have somehow accumulated, he repaired the telephone line where said man yanked it out of the side of the house in his zeal to get at our scrap metal, he worked on the pool pump, he sprayed for weeds.

I floated in the pool.

Oh hush up, I helped too. I did the PUSH mowing, and I did most of the pine straw on the bank where we've planted juniper. And I washed my motorcycle. Most of it.

I just find it much easier to relax than Hubby does.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mystery Letter.....

I love a good mystery, but I love it a lot more if it can be solved.

My two sisters and I went to Mom's house yesterday to go through some pictures. Mom is getting ready to (probably) move again for the umpteenth time sometime in the next year or so, and she wants to pare down her junk. I mean valuable possessions. She also wants us to scan about a gazillion old pictures into her digital picture frame, and I'd pop whoever mentioned THAT possibility right in the mouth, if only I knew which one of us was the guilty party. Just in case it was me, I'll go ahead and slap myself.

Mom had a letter that was sent to my step-father in 1956 (postage was three cents). Sam lived in the Raleigh area, and the sender was Homer someone from Decatur, Mississippi. Not only did he have atrocious handwriting, but he couldn't spell very well either. I didn't notice it yesterday, but looking at the envelope today I noticed that it had gone to three towns in search of Sam. Varina, North Carolina (which doesn't exist except as the hyphenated town of Fuquay-Varina, but the postmark SAID Varina); Nakina, North Carolina; and Norlina, North Carolina. I don't even know for sure which town was the correct one.

The letter almost appears to be in code. There are random phrases that are decipherable, but mostly there are words and numbers that may be Bible verses in some cases. The writing is very close together and covers both sides of a very yellowed sheet of paper. At the bottom of one side, it says, "Please answer, Homer Loper (?), Decatur, Miss." It is possible to pick out the words "Father," "Christ," "Spirit," etc., among others. But there does not appear to be a complete sentence anywhere.

I know these images don't do it justice, and you probably can't even figure out what any of it says. I just scanned it in to preserve it and to give you an idea of how impossible it is to read.

I have so many questions about this letter.

  • Who was Homer?
  • What do all the (presumed) Bible verses mean?
  • What did he want Sam to do with this information?
  • Why does he say at the end of the letter, "Please answer"?
  • Why did Sam keep the letter all those years? It was mailed in 1956, and Sam died in 1977. Mom didn't even MEET Sam until 1972, and she doesn't know who Homer was.
I got all excited when I saw the letter, because I was sure it was very DaVinci Code-like, and Hubby would know how to break the code. Sam was a Mason, and Hubby was (is) a Mason, so I thought he would have some insight into what Homer was trying to get across.

Hubby says it doesn't have anything to do with the Masons.

I think he's just maintaining the secret.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

In On the Joke......

Sometimes (a lot of the time, actually), baseball announcers get on my nerves. Not only do they use improper grammar, like saying, "So-and-so was telling Joe and I in the elevator the other day....." ARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH........, but sometimes (a lot of the time, actually), they go off on tangents, running on and on about nothing and not letting the viewers in on whatever they're talking about. Sometimes (a lot of the time, actually), you can tell they might be talking about something slightly risque, but they can't tell what it is because that would be unprofessional. However, they continue to snicker in the background, and sometimes (a lot of the time, actually) they start laughing so hard they almost can't continue whatever they're trying to say.

Tonight, however, I am on to them. Since Hubby is out of town, I was able to stay up and watch an ENTIRE baseball game last night, and I know what they're talking about. It's SO risque that they couldn't really even allude to it last night when it happened, but I knew immediately that they were ribbing each other in the booth.

Joe Simpson said something last night after this incident that he needed to practice on the telestrator, or whatever they call that thing where they appear to be writing on the television screen. Or perhaps the other dude (Boog somebody, whatever the hell that kind of name is supposed to be) suggested he needed to practice.

Tonight Joe immediately started talking about how he got to the ballpark early tonight just to practice with the telestrator. They started laughing, and instead of being ticked off because I didn't know what they were talking about, I felt smug, not only because I was in on the joke, but because it turned out to be EXACTLY what I thought it was last night. Only they still can't talk about it.

The Braves are playing the Orioles at Camden Yards (I hate interleague play, but that has nothing to do with this topic). Apparently a high-rise building has been built out beyond the outfield, and it blocks out a clock tower that used to be visible from the ballpark. During last night's game, Joe was saying how you used to be able to look out there and see what time it was, and he started drawing in the tower where it used to be visible. Only his clock tower looked exactly like a......................................................penis.

They were still laughing about it when tonight's game started. When it came time for Joe to show off how he had improved since last night, he (or some producer person) inserted a PHOTOGRAPH of the old clock tower out there in the outfield.

I realize this would be much more relevant (well, maybe not) and humorous if I actually had a picture of the picture.

I have realized that I use the word "actually" way too much, and I apologize. I'll stop immediately. Well actually, I'll stop starting tomorrow.

I have also realized that I use the word "realize" way too much.


Another T9 story from my friend W the WP. She's at her son's baseball game, and she was texting a mother who is not there but whose son is playing. Her oh-so-intelligent phone, programmed to predict from keystrokes what the intended word is, told this mother, "[Your teenage son] is up to bat....no nuts."

I'll leave it to you to figure out what she really meant to say.

Friday, June 12, 2009

When the Hubby's Away.....

I love my Hubby dearly, and after all he IS the world's last perfect man, but when he goes out of town (usually on a golfing expedition), it is sort of a mini-vacation for me.

It's not like I got to a male stripper bar and stuff dollar bills in their Speedos or anything. I just have NO expectations. Few interruptions. No obligations beyond giving Gus a little warning before I push the computer table away so I don't roll over him. I feel so.......free.

I had a Big Mac (can I even say that without violating copyright laws?) value meal for lunch, followed by a pint of Moose Tracks (can I even say that without violating copyright laws?) ice cream. Hubby is diabetic, so I felt compelled to eat the whole thing. He can't come home and find a carton of real ice cream in the freezer. Not that he would be tempted; it just seems cruel.

I had garlic bagel chips and spinach dip for "dinner."

I read a little over half of Of Mice and Men, since my students have been turning in questions from the book all week and I had never read it. Shhhhhhh............. They'll kick me out of the English Teachers' Club.

I took a nap.

I have watched an entire baseball game, and no one has changed the channel even once.

I watched the recording of the gymnastics championships. Again. And no one was here to make fun of me. Actually, that's inaccurate to say, because if anyone had been here, I would have been embarrassed to watch them. Again. I'm almost embarrassed to admit it here.

It is after 10:00 PM, and I haven't gone to bed yet.

I miss Hubby, and I'm glad he will only be gone two nights. That's about my limit.

I'm also glad this is NOT one of those golf trips where he is playing in a tournament with my ex. I don't know why it makes me feel weird when they do that; they certainly don't have a problem with it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

8 Things.....

Having been tagged by my friend Maggie, I will (this time) participate in this meme. Because writing about myself means I don't have to think very hard.


  1. My first summer school paycheck. Cha-ching!
  2. Retirement
  3. Seeing Sweet Girl at NashBash
  4. Sleeping in on Sunday and all next week when Hubby is on vacation
  5. Hubby's retirement
  6. Football season
  7. Gymnastics season
  8. Being with my sisters this Saturday


  1. Rode a tandem
  2. Rode a tandem
  3. Rode a tandem
  4. Rode a tandem
  5. Rode a tandem
  6. Worked on my virtual school course
  7. Worked on my virtual school course
  8. Ate at Red Lobster


  1. Use jumper cables
  2. A back handspring
  3. Lose weight
  4. Play the violin
  5. Have straight hair
  6. Publish a book (have to write it first)
  7. Speak French fluently instead of merely un petit peu
  8. Know how to handle people
  1. CNN Headline News with Robin Meade
  2. Dancing with the Stars
  3. Atlanta Braves baseball
  4. Football
  5. Replays of gymnastics meets THAT I ATTENDED LIVE
  6. Friends reruns
  7. Newhart reruns
  8. Golf

  1. Pizza
  2. Pasta
  3. Chicken
  4. Beer
  5. Nachos
  6. French fries
  7. Beer
  8. Chinese take-out


  1. Alaska
  2. Out West
  3. Hawai'i
  4. France
  5. Australia
  6. England
  7. Italy (again)
  8. Bermuda
  1. MamaNeena
  2. Katydid
  3. Heartbreak
  4. Annie
  5. Lakeland Jo
  6. ??
  7. ??
  8. ??

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Roses and Rocks.....

I am shamelessly stealing the format for tonight's blog from my friend Maggie. She's a hilarious blogger and fellow English teacher. And I hope she gets a full-time job soon, but I don't think she wants to teach again. She should get an online teaching job like mine, so she can join me in pulling my hair out.

I always do this. Overestimate my own talents and abilities to balance way too many spinning plates at one time. I thought "Of course I can teach summer school and ride my bike (partway) across the state at the same time. It's online!"

I've been inundated with assignments, phone calls, text messages, emails, instant messages, and disasters. I will be so far behind in my grading when I go home tomorrow night that I may be forced to put it off for yet another day. And that makes so much sense it is frightening.

But I digress....

Roses to things that make me happy; rocks to things that make me want to throw them.

Roses to:

  • people who sit on their porches and wave at us cyclists as we ride by
  • dog owners who keep their pets under control when the cyclists ride by
  • ice cream at the end of a long, hot ride
  • a motel room with air conditioning
  • wireless internet service so I can "work" during the bicycle ride
  • a department chair who thinks I am wonderful (the same one who counted off points on my evaluation for "not volunteering")
  • a Hubby who doesn't mind that I disappear for a week (or part of a week) every year
  • fast downhills on safe country roads
  • State Botanical Gardens only 5 miles from the end of a ride
  • baseball
  • naps
Rocks to:

  • uphills
  • wind
  • rain
  • squeaks
  • loose dogs
  • automobiles that pass too closely to cyclists
  • cycling shorts that keep rolling down
  • people who create drama
  • discovering that you have no brakes after you just paid $55 to have the bike "serviced"

Monday, June 8, 2009

Swing Batter Batter...

Sitting in a catered booth at Turner Field. Braves had a comfortable lead, but now it is tied. I would love to post a picture, but I don't have a clue how to do that from the Blackberry. Maybe tomorrow.

The first time I came to a Braves game was when I was in college. Back then, if you called the Braves' ticket office to ask what time the game started, they would ask "What time can you get here?" The players knew the FANS' names and birthdays.

I can't take the credit... or the blame ... for either of those lines.

The booth is sponsored by the Golden Moon Casino. You might have a problem if a casino two states over calls and invites you to a baseball game...

The booth is stocked with plenty of hot dogs, chips, dip, popcorn, and... other amenities. And we have a designated driver. I may be sorry I have to go to school tomorrow. I'm already sorry.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

One of Those Nights.....

I really, really wanted to post about my bike ride today. I even thought about profound things for the blog as I was riding, but since we were in the MOUNTAINS, most of them came out profane. I'd love to tell you about all the hills we climbed today, and my maximum and minimum speeds. I'm not sure the GPS tells the minimum speed, but I can tell you that at one point I looked down and I was going 2.8 mph. But I didn't walk any of the hills. I'm much too stubborn for that.

I'd love to tell you about the screaming downhill we had coming off Unicoi Gap. My hands were killing me when I got to the bottom, just from braking. Or trying to. If a deer had jumped out in front of me, we would have just had a Bambi (and Bragger) disaster, because there was no way to stop.

I'd love to tell you about our rest stop at the Babyland General Hospital, where the original Cabbage Patch Kids are born. I wanted to post the video of a silly man pretending to be a doctor and "delivering" the baby. Give me a large personal break.

I'd love to tell you about why I was wearing my clunky winter-type cycling shoes instead of my wonderful cycling sandals that allow my toes to breathe and my toe ring to shine.

I'd love to tell the story about how 5 of us slept in a motel room with one king-size bed last night.

But it's all going to have to wait until another day. After riding 50 miles on my bicycle (with a grand total of 4 days of training ALL YEAR), I'm beat.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Verbal Faux Pas.....

Another verbal faux pas. They always seem to be associated with cycling. I was talking to the CEO of BRAG about the possibility of Hubby riding his motorcycle along the BRAG route next year, after he retires. Sort of in a support capacity. We had a "motorcycle gang" years ago.

I asked how long each day Hubby would have to ride, because his back starts to hurt after extended periods on the bike. Three or four hours was the answer.

"That's good," I said, "but he has to get off every hour or so."



Apropos of absolutely nothing, a videographer wearing an eye patch makes me go, "Hmmmmmmm..."

Friday, June 5, 2009


Two graduation ceremonies in two nights............

After 23 years of teaching, all the speeches sound pretty much the same.

Ironically, I also graduated on this date, 31 years ago. If you're trying to calculate my age, you'll come up a year more than I am. I skipped a grade in elementary school, so I had just turned 17 when I graduated.

Instead of a trip to the beach, my BFF Jason and I left at midnight, along with my mother, my eldest sister, and her two children to move her to Dallas, Texas. We drove for 19 hours or forever or something like that. Jason had family in Fort Worth, so we visited there for a couple of days. I think I've told the story before about how we went to his grandmother's house to spend the night. We really were best friends. Fought like brother and sister. His deaf great-grandmother lived there too, and when his grandmother asked Jason which sofa bed to make up for him, he said, "Neither one. We'll sleep together." Jason was fond of the shock factor. When we left the next morning, Jason's great-grandmother gave us a wedding present. I'm sure she assumed that was the only reason two young people of opposite sex would be sleeping in the same bed.

Also on this date, twenty-seven years ago, I got married to Sweet Girl's daddy. We went to Daytona Beach for our honeymoon. Daytona Beach is NOT a good place for a honeymoon.

Hubby also got married once on this date. We had to figure out the date because he didn't know it. He knew the year, and he knew it was a Wednesday, because back then he was off on Wednesdays, and he knew that after the ceremony (?) at the courthouse, he went to the golf course. Is it any wonder THAT marriage didn't last?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

"Welcoming" Committee.......

Our little non-traditional school will complete its fourth year tomorrow, making it the second-longest I have stayed at one school. I've never been fired or non-renewed, although at one school they made it so uncomfortable for me that I chose to leave. I just tend to move on to new things. The toughest school I have ever been in was the one I stayed in for 8 years. Go figure. I finally told the principal there "the inmates are running the asylum," a statement she didn't bother to contradict. I probably won't break the 8-year record, as I only have three more years until I'm eligible to retire. While I MAY continue to work a year or two past eligibility for retirement, especially if I can find someone with whom to share my position, it ain't likely.

But I digress.

I went back to that county when they opened the first non-traditional school much like the one where I teach now. I loved the concept, loved the fact that it was computer-based, loved the fact that I would be working with a math teacher I had worked with before, loved the fact that we didn't have school on Fridays. [That actually sounds a lot better than it turned out to be. You'll just have to trust me on that one.]

The drive to school, however, was about 35 minutes, so when they opened a similar school in the county where I live, only 7 miles away, I jumped at the opportunity. The principal was glad to have me because the whole concept was new, and she was thrilled to hire someone with experience in that setting. When I interviewed with her she told me, "The job has not officially been posted, so I can't offer it to you today. But I'm not interviewing anyone else." I was flattered at the time. I have since discovered it was because she's lazy. What a blow to my ego.

She is also the principal of our district's punitive alternative school, which is a bargain for the county because they get two principals for the price of one. We are housed in the same building as the alternative school, but on the other end of the building, and our students don't have to wear uniforms.

Our school is in an old elementary school that probably wouldn't meet any codes of any kind today. We do well just to keep the fire marshal off our backs, and sometimes we don't do a good job of THAT. Our end of the building was renovated for our program, and each classroom was outfitted with 15 brand-new computers, computer stations, office-type chairs, and new equipment for the teachers.

But we had to share the building with a staff that was already in place, the staff of the other program.

They seemed nice enough.

However, on our second day there, we arrived at school to find that some of them had spray-painted their names on parking spaces.

How charming.

What a way to make the new folks feel wanted.

I remember the guy who was our electives teacher at that time standing in the parking lot, looking at those spaces and saying, "What a bunch of idiots!"

Turns out that karma, however, is a bitch.

In one of life's great ironies, it occurred to me the other day that out of the six people who marked their territory not with urine but with spray paint, this is the only one who is still there.
And rumor has it that she may be on her way out due to some recent conflicts.

I didn't get to know this guy very well. I think he moved on to work for the State Department of Education or something like that. I've heard that's where teachers and administrators go to die at the end of their careers.

This lady was a paraprofessional who died from a brain aneurysm. In a very strange set of circumstances, she told everyone (including her family) that doctors were trying new treatments and procedures but she had to wait for blah blah blah, but after she died her doctors said they had told her there was nothing they could do for her. She kept it even from her family. So sad.
This one left the alternative setting to return to the traditional high school.

This one was another paraprofessional who may or may not have been stalked by her ex-husband but disappeared for days at a time, and then altogether. Rumor has it that her stories of being stalked may have been clouded by her use of controlled substances. She has since abandoned her son (who is now enrolled in the alternative school, surprise surprise) and reportedly moved out of state.

This one may take the all time irony prize, however. He was summarily fired only days after the parking space painting incident. Apparently, in addition to being particular about his parking spot, he was conducting business with a prostitute USING HIS SCHOOL COMPUTER AND EMAIL ACCOUNT. The prostitute with whom he was communicating, offended by such a blatant misuse of government property and time, forwarded his emails to the superintendent. She was referred to on at least one occasion as the "hooker with a heart of gold."

Pardon me if I seem smug. It's just that I feel so much more.......................welcome.............now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Don't Ask if You Don't Want to Know....

Back in the early days of my teaching career, I taught middle school for three years. It's as close to hell as I ever want to come. Seriously.

There were only two teams of teachers for each grade level, so we were a pretty tight bunch.

But sometimes even people who work closely together should know when to back off.

I was the youngest of the bunch (those were the days), so some of the older teachers sort of mothered me sometimes.

One day I was on hall duty, and I am guessing my co-worker could tell something was wrong. I don't hide my emotions very well. Or my pain. I couldn't walk without grimacing, and standing was killing me.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"Nothing," I lied. Poorly.

"No, really, what's wrong?" she insisted.

"I'm okay," I answered, mortified by the realization that I was not going to escape from this conversation.

"Are you hurt?"

"No, really, I'm fine."

"You've dislocated your knee again, haven't you?"

"No....." That would have been a perfect lie, and I don't know why I didn't run with it. Except that the absence of crutches and physical therapy might have given her a clue. But at least it would have shut her up right then.

"Then what is it? I can tell something is wrong."

Why, oh why won't people just give it a rest sometimes?

"Uh........it's not really something you talk about in polite company."

There. That should do it. That's as big a hint as I've got in my arsenal. Subtlety has been abandoned. Time to back off.

"That's okay, what is it?"

I turned beet red. I couldn't think of a lie on the spot that would satisfy her, so I finally gritted through my teeth.

"Let's just say I will never laugh at another Preparation H commercial."

She looked appalled and walked away. I would have kicked her square in her nosy rear end if I could have hobbled that fast.

I apologize profusely for sharing this with the unsuspecting public. Okay, the three people who read my blog. I'm sorry.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I don't know what it is about being evaluated that sets me off. I guess it's my competitive nature or something.

I tell myself it doesn't matter, but I won't listen.

This isn't even about my real job, either. It's my part-time online teaching job, which according to my calculations pays about twelve cents per hour that I put into it.

It's not that the work is hard. And the pay IS decent. It's just that I am so driven to perfection, to overachieving, that being marked DOWN for something really gets my goat.

Almost as much as cliches do. Sorry.

One category I got marked down in (receiving a 3 out of 4) was in responding to emails and phone calls. I'd like to see the documentation, please. Because I have NEVER, EVER failed to return an email or phone call related to one of my online students. I even respond to them in the middle of the school day, when I'm not actually (ahem) supposed to be working on my "other" job. On the other hand, when I placed an urgent call to my immediate supervisor because I had a student who was locked out of a quiz and I didn't know how to get her in, I got her voice mail. I explained the situation as best I could.

She emailed me back IMMEDIATELY and tried to guess at what the problem was and gave me a non-solution.

Thanks for that, but if you'd actually TAKEN MY CALL, I might have explained it a little better. And we could have resolved it quickly over the phone instead of the ensuing forty-two emails it took.

And this is the person who docked me for not responding to phone calls and emails.


Let me say here that I adore her, and I WOULDN'T HAVE HER JOB, because not only does she have to teach like a gazillion kids online and she has two young ones at home herself, she also has to deal with the GROWN-UPS in the online world, the teachers who AREN'T perfectionists, who DON'T overachieve, and wouldn't READ THE DIRECTIONS about how to do something if their lives depended on it.

She has it tough, I'll give her that.

But I take it personally when I get a 3 out of 4 that is completely unjustified.

Mark me down on grading within the required 72 hours, because I readily admit guilt in that department. Because I was teaching a course that was brand-new to me, often I hadn't read the assigned material when the students got to it. I guess I could have just graded them anyway without doing the reading myself, but that's not my style. So there were a couple of occasions when I didn't get something back to them with appropriate feedback within the 72 hour window.

I also got points deducted for not volunteering for extra things.

Excuse me?

It isn't like this is a traditional school, and I could offer to do someone's hall duty because she was on crutches. Or run copies for someone during my planning period. Or chaperone the prom. [An online prom......now THERE'S a concept I'd like to see developed a little more fully.....]

What was I supposed to say, "Got anything I can volunteer for? In the spare time I have between my full-time job and my part-time job and the elliptical and the pool?" I DID volunteer to teach AP English online, although I shudder at the thought because I have never taught AP English in the REGULAR classroom. It's such a high-stakes course, and I don't think the one-week training session I went to 3 years ago makes me necessarily qualified for it. But my online employer was the one who footed the bill for the training, so I felt obligated at least to consider teaching it. I certainly hope they don't take me up on it. Still, I VOLUNTEERED.

And when they were trying to develop a broadcast journalism course and asked who had yearbook or broadcasting experience, I opened my mouth on that one too. When the response came back that I didn't have the necessary qualifications, I said, "Find out what I need to do, and I'll do it." Not because I need the money, mind you. Just because I like taking on new things, and I thought I could help them out. So I VOLUNTEERED.

I wouldn't mind their little rating scale if A) I got an explanation of the things I was marked down for; and B) I got extra points for extra effort in other areas. For example, each teacher was required to do 3 hours of online professional development during the course of the semester. I didn't get marked down for that one; I got a 4 out of 4. In the comments section, it was noted, "You had 15 hours. Great job!" So for doing 500% of what was required I don't even get one of my 3's taken away? Or maybe a 5 out of 4 just to balance things out?


I spent roughly 16 hours last weekend coming up with a pacing guide for summer (a 5-week schedule and a 6-week schedule) for a course I've never taught before. I spent several more hours setting up the live computer sessions required (3 per week in summer, thank you very much) and pretty much arranging my entire life around this summer session. Only to be told today that my department chair doesn't have enough students to satisfy her contract, and she may have to take that course back from me.

Which is fine. Really.

Even considering the fact that she MAY be able to give me two other courses, each half of the one I had already set up (don't even try to figure it out), only those WON'T BE SET UP YET.

Forgive me -- I didn't really intend for this to become a bitch session. I had another perfectly good blog topic picked out, but I need pictures to do it justice. Maybe I'll get them tomorrow, but everyone has to be gone from the back parking lot to do it. Ponder on THAT for a while....

I think I'll just go back to my book about two runaways now.

This vent has been brought to you today by the letters R and W and by the number 3.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Weird Dream #4.......

I was awake at 3:37 this morning, and it was the kind of awake where I thought to myself, "Uh oh, I'll never go back to......zzzzzzzzz." I almost got up at that ungodly hour, but I fell back to sleep before the thought could crystallize.

Then of course I was dead to the world when the alarm went off. The clock is on my side of the bed, and I haven't hit the snooze once in 12 years, ever since one morning right after we started living together when Hubby said, "Why don't you just get up when it goes off?" It's my responsibility to turn the alarm off. But that doesn't necessarily mean I wake up to do it.

In our little morning routine, I turn off the alarm while I'm still sleeping, and Hubby gets up and goes into the bathroom. He shaves and gets ready in about 7 minutes, then comes out into the bedroom to dress. He doesn't turn the light on, using the light from the bathroom instead, and at some point in that space of time I come awake and get up.

Just before he came out of the bathroom this morning, I was dreaming about one of our students. She finished her coursework right after the semester break, and she and her twin sister will graduate this week. In my dream, she was sitting at the table in my classroom talking about her college grades. She told me three grades, a 31 in something, a 13 in math, and something else. In all my kindheartedness and with the warm fuzzy support I'm known for, I said to her, "C., those grades aren't passing if you ADD THEM ALL TOGETHER." Then we started trying to factor an equation.

My friend Wanda the Warrior Princess thinks there are some deep underlying meanings to all our dreams.

I don't want to know.