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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dear Home Depot

Dear Home Depot-
Your lack of customer service makes me want to punch a kitten. In the face. Twice.

The saga of renovating a home is never ending. Every time you think you've got something done, something else goes to hell. For instance, we purchased a new bathroom vanity from HD. And the reason we needed a new vanity is because I decided to remove the wallpaper in the bathroom. Yeah, you heard me. I started peeling the wallpaper and somehow hit the lightswitch. The switch arced, popped, and blew a fuse. I asked the Prince (who happens to be incredibly handy) to fix the switch. While he was working on that, I decided to pull the fake wood paneling off the wall. One good yank and I managed to hit the sprayer on the sink and break it which meant the hose dropped down into the vanity and started to leak. The Prince abandoned the lightswitch to investigate the leak only to find that the bottom of the vanity had rotted out and was coated in black mold. Needless to say he solved that problem with a Sawzall and we removed the old vanity piece by moldy piece and headed out to buy a new one. We spent a good hour in the store trying to pick one out, then another hour trying to find someone to get it down from the top most shelf (of course). Eventually a child about the age of 12 came down the aisle with a large, wheeled ladder and a plan to slide the 37" vanity combo down the railings of the stair thing. Brilliant idea. Solid. Thankfully he realized he couldn't do this on his own. So he got another 12 year old to "spot him" so he could slide the vanity down. It took about 10  minutes to convince these brain trusts that this was most likely a BAD IDEA and they should get someone with a lift to come get it so it didn't end up smashed to smithereens. After waiting another hour for someone with a forklift license, as well as someone with a license to operate those little flag thingies, we finally got our vanity.

The next morning we opened the box...and the top was smashed to smithereens. Thanks HD.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jane Austen Ruined My Life

It's wrong to want to kill 50% of your students...right?

This summer I started teaching at a small independent, for profit college which is a whole new experience like nothing I have ever done before. The environment is completely different as is the student body.

This semester I was asked to teach composition and effective speaking. Obviously composition is a no-brainer and very easy for me teach. Effective Speaking however is a whole other animal. And for some reason the college thought it would be a fun joke to put 30 students in my class. THIRTY. Now I know a lot of elementary school teachers who have to deal with numbers like that on a regular basis but I think I can comfortably say I would much rather have a room full of 30 11-year-olds than a crowd of disgruntled adults who don't want to be taking my class. Technically it's an elective but the students weren't allowed to actually choose their elective. They were just herded into Effective Speaking and told they had to take it.

Last week we discussed censorship, ethics, and responsible speaking. I passed out topics to each table and asked them to come up with discussions, impromptu speeches of a sort, based on each topic. I knew it would spark debate but I was unaware it would lead to an almost bitch fight. Somehow one particular student got off on a tangent about "rednecks", racism, and his love of the hispanic community (he's a skinny white country boy).

So far I have heard from my students that my class is boring. I have also heard every excuse in the book as to why certain individuals can't get up in front of the class and speak (ranging from panic attacks, to passing out, to throwing up). I had one student refuse to do the assignment last night because well, she just refused. Another told me it was all a bunch of bull.

Tonight I took the time to tell my boss my concerns about the attitudes in my class, and to share with him that tonight my room became the great racial divide. My class literally divided themselves into all the white kids on one side, every other ethnicity on the other. Upon discovering this, the skinny white country boy walks in and says, "What is this, a bus?"

Sweetie, only if your name is Rosa Parks. Jackass.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Money Pit

So I thought for my first day back I would tell you all a little story.

Once upon a time there was a beautiful castle built high upon a hill and surrounded by glorious green forest. In the castle lived a dashing young prince who was desperately seeking his princess...

Oh wait...wrong story. The prince is real but he doesn't have a castle so much as he has a run down old house that would scare the pants off of a small child. His gallant steed is actually a gas guzzling truck and he's more a fan of whiskey than of medieval mead, but I still believe the fairytale comparison holds. The Prince and I met many years ago in high school and the first moral of this story is: first impressions are rarely correct. Especially at the tender age of 14 when I stated, and I quote, "Who him? Pfft. He's a jackass." Yes kids, even princesses swear.

Many years later The Prince invites me to his kingdom to see his regal home. Maybe it was the combination of the giant raccoon size holes in the floor or the sweet aroma of the dumpster outside the restaurant next door, but as I gritted my teeth and tried not to visibly cringe, I fell in love; with The Prince, the house, and his functionally retarded dog.

For the first few months I refused to touch a light switch in that house. Did I mention that I had to reach through bare insulation in order to find the majority of the light switches? The Prince had proudly led me through the house, regaling me with tales of the hardships he had faced while rewiring the whole thing at 1am. That is how I learned that the holes in the ceiling of the royal bedchamber were caused by The Prince falling through from the attic, nearly turning himself into a medieval Eunich. The other moral of this story? Anything can be accomplished under the influence of Evan Williams.

Fast forward a few weeks into royal bliss. Now you all know that I'm a tad- clumsy shall we say. For some reason, in spite of this knowledge, The Prince decided it would be a good idea to allow me to help work on his palace. (Yes, snigger away. I'm sure you all know what's coming.) One afternoon I was happily tearing apart the attic with a hammer and sheer elbow grease. I was prying wooden nailers off the roof joists while sitting on the top of the ladder, which we all know is a big ladder no-no; I was comfortable however so I ignored the stick figure warning on the top rung. I also ignored The Prince's suggestion to get off my lazy ass and get the pry bar from downstairs because if I kept prying away with the hammer something bad was going.....

And that's when both the nailer and the hammer let go. The nailer broke and went flying. The hammer kicked back and smacked me across the bridge of the nose. I fell off the ladder. Well, almost. Thankfully my Prince Charming was there to catch me and make sure I was safe and not bleeding.

Then he laughed at me and called me "Beak" for the rest of the day.

The End.
For now.

Monday, December 19, 2011

"It's been a long time but I'm back in town..."

Yes, you heard right...I'M BACK! Isn't that what you were all wishing for this Christmas? See, I knew it. There's a little change to the web address but really, nothing else has changed. I'm still me. Easter the Cow is still on her throne.

However, in a strange twist of fate, I'm now teaching college. That's right, college. Granted I work at a college that was originally intended to be a strip club but hey, they never got their liquor license and there don't seem to be any poles left in the building so it's legit.

I just finished the first semseter teaching psychology and this semeseter I'm teaching composition and effective speaking. For those of you who have never met me in person, my ability to write far out strips my ability to speak properly. In other words I'm a total idiot when trying to string sentences together verbally. Thankfully my boss doesn't know that yet so shhh, don't tell him!

I'm also in the process of helping to remodel an old Colonial era farmhouse and I have inherited the love of the dumbest beagle known to man. I must run, but stay tuned for the hilarity I know you've all missed!

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Wouldn't it be great if your 'stache could smell like watermelons?"

Generally I hate Mondays. Today was no different. It's the second day of spring and in the middle of reading  to my 5th graders I looked up and snarled, "IT'S SNOWING!" The poor kid in front of me looked like he feared for his life. I think I had a little Linda Blair crazy eye going on. I was planning to start Robert Frost today but I do believe the imagery of walking in the woods would have been lost on the 6th graders. "Two roads diverged in a wood...and I forgot to bring a shovel."

So I know this happened a number of weeks ago but I've been busy and am just getting around to commenting on the teacher in Pennsylvania who was let go for ranting about her students in her blog. Now many of you have been reading my blog since it's inception a few years ago. I get thousands of visitors from around the world and so far have only managed to piss off a select few. However, I have a bit of advice for Natalie Munroe (of course I do hehehe).

Every teacher in the known universe is frustrated with their job in one way or another. We're frustrated with the changes in society, the shifts in education, and the lack of priorities demonstrated by many of our students and their families. However, that's never an excuse to vent publicly and refer to your students as "lazy whiners".

Here's a tip: if your job makes you that miserable, it's time for a career change. Or better yet, change the way you teach and find a way to push these kids out of their educational rut. Did you ever think that part of the problem might be you and the way you present your class? Now, before everyone gets all nutty, I don't know this woman from Adam. The only snapshot I have of her and her personality is from her blog and her highly publicized firing. In fact I was so disgusted with her that I didn't even bother to read the rest of her blog. Hell, she might very well profess to love her job more than she loves her lousy haircut or crummy fashion sense (like how I worked that in? ZING!). However, if you are that negative about your students, it's time to rethink your position in education.

If it turns out that teaching is truly your passion and you simply can't make heads or tails of your kids' behavior, here's another tip: DON'T BROADCAST IT ON YOUR BLOG! If you have issues with your current job, tell your mom. Talk to your therapist. Vent to your cat. They won't tattle on you!

Or better yet, talk to your supervisor, your lead teacher, or your principal. Make suggestions, ask for help from your colleagues, shake things up and turn the kids on their ear.

Look, I love being able to share my every thought with all of you but it's time the world realized that what they perceive as the relative anonymity of the internet isn't some sort of magical invisibility shield. There is always someone out there in the world who can connect you to your virtual self, your online personality. Right now there is some computer nerd in a giant server room registering my IP address every time this blog entry auto saves on Blogger. Chances are there's also some white collar criminal sitting in his crappy one room apartment doing the same thing. All it takes is one person to point the finger and your anonymity is shattered, your job on the line.

I love teaching and I love sharing my stories with you all. I've shared the laughs, the triumphs, the frustrations, and the anger, but I have to say, I would never pull the kind of stunt this woman pulled. I hope for her sake that someone out there is willing to overlook this major faux pas and give her a job in the future. Then again, knowing our nation's priorities, someone has already called asking for the rights to her story so they can make it into a Lifetime movie. Damn my misplaced sense of responsibility towards my job....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"I gotta go count my balloons..."

So sorry I have been MIA lately. Finishing the special edition of my asylums book has essentially taken over my life. And if I wasn't fit for commitment to one of those places before, I sure as hell am now. However, you'll all be happy to know that I have not been neglecting my memoirs. Ok, maybe I have been. But that doesn't mean I won't get them done! I did, after all, give up procrastinating for Lent. Although, I did move that to my To Do list for tomorrow....

Anyway, for the first time in my life yesterday I put down a book and refused to finish it. Now, I rarely (never) do that. I always finish a book, even if it's slow going and doesn't seem to have much to say because, hey, I'm an author and I wouldn't want anyone chucking my book in the bin before they've read my tear jerker of an epilogue! However, "Mr. Instability" by Tom Elsa is, in a word, unreadable. I bought the book off of Amazon thinking it would be a humorous account of a man who has had more job changes than I have (an impressive feat all its own). However, the moment I cracked this messterpiece I was immediately turned off by the lousy grammar, terrible spelling, and generally crappy writing. He professes in the opening pages that at his first job the trailer he had to work in was "hot as Haiti's". Come on, really? And while he freely admits he never did well in school and "sucks and grammar", I found that to be no excuse for poor writing. Mr. Elsa, as a fellow self-published author I urge, please don't ever EVER put pen to paper ever again. Or if you do, call me first. I'll edit it for you so that those of us with a higher than 3rd grade education can actually enjoy what you have to say.

Other than that the school year is winding down. Book Fair is next week which of course I'm excited about (no one's surprised about that) then two weeks of standardized testing in which I get to watch my 5th graders turn into pickled vegetables right before my eyes! I expect lots of whining, perhaps a few tears, and a LOT of crankiness. However, it's spring and we've moved on to writing in our English class which of course makes me quite happy.

What would make me even happier is the disappearance of Justin Bieber, followed by the eventual discovery of his shorn locks in a dumpster outside of Brooklyn. I finally had to outlaw all things Justin Bieber in my class after a cat fight erupted in the 6th grade on the day of the young star's birthday. Three of the 6th grade girls came to class wearing star shaped PostIt notes that read "Future Mrs. Bieber" on them. Yes, I threw up a little. So the thing they call Bieber is no longer allowed in my room. Those who utter his name are automatically scorned. That in mind, one of the 6th grade girls made a CD for the classroom. She brought it in and asked if I could play it while they were writing. She then apologized, saying that she made the CD before I outlawed Bieber Fever in my room so there were indeed two Justin Bieber "songs" (I use the term loosely) on the CD but we could just skip those. Damn right we could skip those. I pop the CD in and wait for it to start up, given that we use the DVD player and TV to play music as I don't have CD player. We make it through a portion of the first track when we hear this pop, followed by a fizz, followed by what appears to be, upon further inspection, the sudden and untimely death of the TV.

My response? "See! Justin Bieber broke my TV!"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cabin Fever

It's official. The snow days are rotting my brain. It's 8am on a snow day and for some god awful reason I'm awake. I had a dream that my mother forced me to throw out all of my scrapbooking supplies because they irritated her, but I couldn't throw away my crayons because I had to finish cutting and coloring frilly Valentine's Day banners for underprivileged local gang members. And no, I did NOT drink before bed last night.

Well, it looks like this coming school year is now up in the air for me. I knew it was a possibility that enrollment would be so low that I wouldn't have a job come fall, but after a tuition hike and the announcement that even more of my students would rather rough it at public school where there's no homework and teachers are just barely qualified to be standing in front of a classroom, it looks like I'll be on the hunt once again.

Every time I interview for a job I make it clear that I would really like to find a place where I can die behind my desk. And not in the way I could have died behind my desk at the DarkSide. I don't mean murdered by one of my little angels. I mean I want to teach in one place for so long that when the doctor confines me to bed because I'm too old to even stand on my own, I tuck myself into my ergonomic desk chair with a blanket around my knees and continue teaching the joys of grammar and composition. Apparently that's not on the agenda here. *Sigh*.

Anyway, on a brighter note, I started classes this semester. I've decided to take a couple undergrad courses at the local community college to get myself ready to start the arduous process of applying to doctoral programs. I registered just before Christmas for Forensic Psychology and Statistics. Obviously I was beyond excited for the Forensic Psych class. I ordered my books from Amazon and had 5 chapters read by the time the semester was about to start.

Forensic Psych is a Tuesday class and the semester finally started this past week. Now class is at 6:15 so I left my house at 5:30 even though I only live about 15 minutes away from campus. I wanted to give myself enough time to find a good parking space, use the ladies room, maybe get a drink. I successfully made my way all the way to State St., which is the main road running parallel to the campus, and suddenly traffic is at a dead stop. Unfortunately I was stuck on an incline, behind a large truck, so I couldn't even see what was causing the hold up. Of course I could see the glint of blue lights and in that neighborhood that could mean anything from utility work to a drive by shooting. Thankfully it was only utility work but it was enough of a jam to make me sit in traffic until 6:05, and of course by this point I have to pee.

I follow the flow of traffic onto campus, looking for Lot 2 which is what my parking sticker says. I'm driving around wondering if Lot 2 means it's right near the building my class is in which happens to be building 2, when I notice that all the lots close to the buidlings don't have numbers. They have letters. Crap. I find my building and realize there is absolutely ZERO parking available and it's now 6:11. I pull off the campus and slowly cruise the lots across the street. Yup, there's Lot 2. Now let me tell you a little bit about the overflow lots at this campus. Many many years ago when I was in high school, I took classes at this same community college and I parked in that overflow lot. Back then there were two very large apartment buildings in front of the lots and one sunny, wintry day as I was walking to my car with my friend Lana, one of those apartment buildings exploded. Now do you get the picture what kind of neighborhood this is? So now, 12 years later, the apartment buildings that were fire bombed are long gone. However, the minute I park my car and get out, I can still hear the criminal element slowly creeping towards my skinny white ass. It's tough to run in the night. Hell, even the parking attendant looked like he was casing the cars.

So I hike a mile, uphill, in the snow. Literally. By the time I get to Building 2 it's 6:25 and I have to pee so bad I'm pretty sure I could have floated up to the 4th floor. I get to my floor, find the classroom, and stumble through the door, now 20 minutes late. Thankfully another woman walked in right behind me so I didn't feel quite as ridiculous. I take a quick glance at the professor, making a pregame judgment, as you do- and I'm horrified. She's sitting (SITTING!) in front of the class with her hands in her pockets, legs splayed out in front of her, lounging back while addressing the motley crew assembled in front of her. Now call me old fashioned but I tend to stand when addressing college students. Maybe I missed the memo about Casual Tuesday teaching.

Anyway, I take a seat while the professor is in the middle of enumerating her requirements for the class. I'm not really listening while I'm unpacking my text book and notebook, but when I finally do tune in to what she's saying I realize she's just told the class that she's a "sticklier" for good grammar and schoolin' cuz she's met too many people who don't got no clue what they doin' in life. Thank god I have some self control and didn't bang my head on the table. Then she proceeds to tell us that her only requirements for our papers is that they're typed, double spaced, and most importantly- stapled. Yes, she informed us that she has much better s*&t to do than try to figure out which piece of paper goes with which other piece of paper.  She then proceeded to tell us a little bit about herself using the word f%$k at least 8 times in a 5 minute span of time.

Needless to say I spent about 25 minutes hiding in the ladies room once I finally got up the nerve to excuse myself to go pee.