Sunday, January 30, 2005

My senior year...

Continuing this from Sarah's blog (we went to the same school, and were quite good friends for a while, although not our senior year - you'll have to ask her.)


[What year was it?]

[What were your three favorite bands/music artists?]
Duran Duran, Sting, the Hooters (don't ask)

[What was your favorite outfit?]
How the f*ck should I remember that? All I remember about my clothes in high school was dressing like a 30-year old, because we weren't allowed to wear jeans. My school had a really fusty dress code. I had a couple of turtleneck sweaters that I liked. Geez - it was 17 years ago for Chrissakes!

[What was up with your hair?]
Ok, I had marginally cool hair. It was a sharply angled bob that was long in the front and cut halfway up my head in back, exposing a slice of closely-shorn scalp. I loved that haircut. I might get it the next time in in the salon.

[Who were your best friends?]
Jeremy, Brian, Becky, Burke, (who had to leave school 6 weeks before graduation for being an asshole... I'm not going into details, although the people I went to school with will remember), and Stephanie.

[What did you do after school?]
Played volleyball (badly), practiced the piano, went to Musicianship classes, watched my little brother

[Did you take the bus?]
Yes, from Pre-First grade until I graduated. This was a really sore point for me at home - all the kids in my class were getting expensive cars, or at least their own cars, when they turned 16, and I still had to ride the bus. How much did that suck? Quite a bit.

[Who did you have a crush on?]
Brian. Since 10th grade. And he bloody well knew it. And was so kind about it. He totally didn't hurt my feelings about it, and he could have. And kind of a mini-crush on David R. He was adorable, but I didn't really know him like I knew Brian, so it wasn't as deep.

[Did you fight with your parents?]
Yes, and I learned that it was better to approach an argument with my father with a lighthearted, witty attitude, as surliness only brought out the control freak in him. If I could make him laugh, I knew I had the argument won.

[Who did you have a celebrity crush on?]
Well, I gave up on Nick Rhodes when he got married. To his beard. I really don't remember if I had a celebrity crush after that.

[Did you smoke cigarettes?]
Well, only when I was with my stepsister, who started smoking when she was 15. Her mom smoked, and didn't mind her daughter befouling her lungs. Strange, as her mom was a nurse.

[Did you lug all of your books around in your backpack all day because you were too nervous to find your locker?]Hell, no. Our graduating class was like, 68 people. Who was there to be scared of?

[Did you have a 'clique']
No, I kind of felt on the outside of everyone after about 9th grade, when my clique graduated. Andy, Alistair, and Mike - how I missed you!

[Did you have "The Max" like Zach, Kelly and Slater?]

[Admit it, were you popular?]
I wish. No, I was "the musician." You know, every class has one. We're never the popular ones.

[Who did you want to be just like?]
Violet Richman, my mentor. She was the chorus teacher, and was so arty and enthusiastic about life. I think I've succeeded in some ways.

[What did you want to be when you grew up?]After I didn't make it into music school (a huge blow to my self-esteem, and verily, my whole identity), I was thrown into a tailspin - I didn't know what I wanted to do then.

[Where did you think you'd be at the age you are now?]
Pretty much where I am now, but with more kids.

[Did you go to your senior prom? If so, who with?]
Yes, I did. I went with my friend Joel, who was a junior at Concord at the time. The July before my senior year, I made Joel promise that if I didn't have a date by 2 weeks before the prom, he'd go with me. Ironically, Brian asked me to the prom after I'd already confirmed with Joel. It felt good to turn him down, though, as he made it clear that he'd already asked Sarah, who turned him down. I hated being a second choice.

All things considered, what I remember most about my senior year was hating it. I had few friends in my own grade, and most of my friends had already graduated. I spent the year feeling isolated and miserable. Here's my own personal series of events for senior year:

Not making captain of our pitifully small volleyball team, and having to put up with Beth L. as our captain. Having to sit on the ends of the rows during assemblies and collection, as our headmistress (the bee-otch) took away the seniors' section in the back. Sitting in between Becky and Julie G., as I had since 7th grade. Fun English classes - Film and Literature! Shakespeare! Jeremy driving me to film night for Film & Lit, and stopping at McDonald's to get Happy Meals. The word "Duty" in Film & Lit - BWAAAAAAA. Buying a segment of Jeremy's shoe, and then decorating it. My disastrous Eastman audition. Madame Angelle's leaving halfway through the year, and having a substitute who translated a "How to Host a Murder" game for us to play in French- boy, did I realize I didn't know much French. Independent art classes. Accompanying Jenn P (who later changed her name to Willow and embraced an alternate lifestyle) on the piano. The Kokosinger's assembly, when they picked me out of the audience to sing to, and I hammed it up to the lyrics. Meeting for Worship. Trying to figure out what the deal was with all my friends either loving the Grateful Dead or Peter Gabriel - I wasn't sold on either. Richard the III didn't do it, I tell you! Watching George Carlin with Alex. Taking the Japan class with Ms. Powell. Trying desperately not to be hurt by former friends who had blown me off the previous year, but not quite succeeding.

Looking back on my senior year has been quite an experience this morning. Like Sarah, I won't give money to my school, as my daughter would need a full scholarship to go there. They pay their teachers a pittance. A position teaching french there opened up there last year, and I would have had to take a 50% pay cut to teach there. Imagine, now, the fabulous salary of a public school teacher and cut it in half. Right. However, unlike Sarah, I'll probably go to my 20th year reunion. I didn't go to the others, but I'd like to see how many people look the same, and, more importantly, if they act the same. I'll bet they do.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Flatulent Canines

There is no odor as noxious as dog farts, and this is coming from a woman who has changed many a diaper in her day. My younger dog, Zippy, is capable of clearing a room in under 3 seconds. This dog is FOUL!!! His gastrointestinal tract could be classified as a deadly weapon - instead of mustard gas, there'd be Zippy gas.

Can you tell I'm lacking inspiration? I believe I'm going to bed now. When one starts rhapsodizing about the quality of one's dog's odorific emissions, I think it's time to hang it up for the night.

Bonne nuit a tous. I live for the day when I figure out how to do accents over my letters...

I am 28% loser. What about you? Click here to find out!

I'm not a loser! Only 28% of people are cooler than me! I always knew I was cool! Oh, wait... I can feel my loser quotient rising with that last statement... Take the quiz and tell me how big of a loser you are.

My friend Melanie sent this to me. Being a French teacher and a Democrat, I loved it. I'm going to check it out with the Urban Legend people, though. I'll get back to you with my findings. Posted by Hello

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Snow Day!!!

I love snow days! I get to hang around the house, catch up on unfinished projects, and read trashy romance novels. It started snowing in Delaware at about 9 am, while I was on my way from Wilmington to Middletown to pick up my daughter. She had spent two days at my mother's house, and I wanted to get her home before the snow started. Driving down there wasn't bad, but coming back was crazy! The visibility was down to about a quarter-mile, and the snow was covering the roadway. Crossing the St. George's bridge was a nerve-wracking experience, to be sure.

We holed up inside today and watched the snow fall. I dusted my furniture and shined my sink, and am steadily plowing through a mountain of laundry. I've drunk a pot of tea (Earl Grey, hot) and have lit fragrant candles (sugar cookie! yum!) I'm halfway through a Lindsey Davis book (one of her Falco series - not trashy, but fun just the same) and have one more to go. My baby is playing with her dolls right next to me, chattering away, inventing dialogues and intrigues for her Barbies. The Mister is on his laptop, practically begging me to whup his butt in online Scrabble (which I'll do after I put the baby to bed - both play and whup). Truly, this is pretty much perfect for me. And to think - I have one, potentially two, more days of this. Hope I don't run out of books!

Friday, January 21, 2005

What will their narrow little minds think of next?

So what are the Conservative Christian groups going to do next? Check this out (from

Family values are going a little too far, people: Conservative Christian groups have issued a gay warning about a music video starring SpongeBob SquarePants. The video is made by the We Are Family Foundation, which encourages tolerance and diversity. The video, which shows SpongeBob, Barney, Winnie the Pooh and the Rugrats, remakes the 1979 disco hit “We Are Family.”

Oh, for cying out loud. Next thing you know, Winnie and Piglet will "outed" and we'll hear a call to boycott them, too. I don't care for SpongeBob, but this is just wrong.

Some days are just a waste of makeup...

So yesterday I had to go to a conference on Positive Behavior Support, a program that my school is running. It's all about using Positive Reinforcement to effect a change in student behavior. I understand how it works, and totally support the program. However, we spent half of the morning on learning how to make a pyramid graph in Excel and the other half "discussing" (read: listening to a speaker drone on... Bueller, Bueller...) the discrepancy in the statistics for Suspensions. Um, definitely not positive, because (1) they gave us a handout that told us how to make the pyramid chart in the most idiot-proof language possible. It featured screen-captured pictures. My three year old could have followed it; and (b) they didn't tell us anything we didn't already know: the suspension rate for black students is disproportionately higher than that of white, hispanic, and asian students. What they didn't do was go into any detail (and they could have, believe me, they had the information) about why the suspension rate is so much higher. Are black students "targeted" or are they just disruptive?

It's always a sticky topic, racism. As a teacher of the pale persuasion, I'm always careful about equity - do I praise a student more because of their color? Are my academic expectations higher or lower because of color? Behaviorally, do I expect different things of the different races? Do I make more allowances for students of a certain race? All of these questions are tricky, because your first instinct is to say NO, unequivocally. Because, as a teacher, you're supposed to have the same high standards for everyone, regardless of their race, religion, or gender. Yesterday, however, we were exposed to a different view. One that I don't totally agree with.

There is a paradigm shift in Multicultural Education (oh, I can just hear Professor Plum and my friend and fellow educator Dave banging their heads now) away from the "equality" and "color-blindness" of yesterday toward "equity" and "self-evaluation" of tomorrow. We're supposed to look at equity now - no longer do we have the same standards for everyone, but we need to examine the students' culture and assist them in a culturally-appropriate manner to reach the standard. Reading from the slides, one should ask "Is my work contextualized in a bigger social picture than incorporates the history of oppression experienced by a variety of individuals and groups?" and "Does every student who walks into our schools have an opportunity to achieve to her or his fullest regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, first language, (dis)ability, and other social and cultural identifiers?"

Ok, here's the deal - NO, I don't contextualize and include the history of everyone's oppression. I do talk about oppression in North Africa when the French decided to colonize it, but that's because it pertains to my subject (I teach French, by the way). I talk about the German occupation of France during the Wars, but that's because it pertains to my subject. I don't talk about oppression in general, because it is not germane. When I teach children to conjugate verbs, I don't have to contextualize it into a bigger picture that incorporates the history of oppression (yeah, generations of schoolchildren have been oppressed and made to memorize verb endings...). And students who walk into our school all have the same opportunities. People who don't work in education often don't realize the variety of programs offered and accommodations made for students who don't fit the traditional mold. The opportunities are there waiting for students to take advantage of them. It only takes a parent to ask or a teacher to recommend.

But I digress. Here's the deal: you can certainly tell me that racism exists. I won't cavil. But I don't think that you can tell me to treat students differently because of the history of oppression in their culture. How do I know what their culture is? Not everyone that looks a certain way has the same culture. People are individuals. Children from the same parents and household are different - sometimes radically so. So how are you going to differentiate between cultures?

It all comes down to getting to know your students. This is not a new idea!!! Good teachers have been doing this for centuries. You don't have to cater to anyone's "culture." You don't have to spend any more time dwelling on the unfortunate circumstances of everyone's ancestors. What you do have to do, is get to know your students. Learn each individual's strengths and weaknesses. If a student needs extra help, offer that student extra help - you don't need to offer help to everyone that you perceive shares the same "culture" on the basis that it's part of their history of oppression. You'd be wasting your time and insulting the students who didn't need it.

I feel that this kind of outlook, although well-intentioned, only serves to cultivate the victim mentality in our young people. It gives them what they feel is a legitimate excuse to not try their best. It also irritates the crap out of most teachers. Why? Well ask yourself: why did most of us become teachers? For the money? Hah. For the glamour? Right. For the low stress level? Sure. For the light workload? Whatever. I can't speak for everyone, but I think that most teachers, like me, got into this profession because we genuinely care about young people and want to teach them what they need to know to succeed. A victim mentality will ill serve our students when they graduate and have to get a job. Can you picture me telling my boss that I can't possibly turn in my grades on time because my grandmother dropped out of school to get married when she was 16, and we don't have a great history of education in my family culture? Yeah, that'd fly.

I'm not saying that students should not get to know and honor their heritage. That is very important to me. What is beyond the pale, is to dwell on it so much that it gives students the idea that they can rely on that "history of oppression" to get them anywhere in life. Recognize it and honor it, but don't let it get in the way of your striving to do your best every day of your life.

So what was this diatribe saying about my day? I didn't feel that the conference yesterday was Positive. This was taking place at a Positive Behavior Support seminar, and it didn't address the positive. It brought me, and others, down. I felt like a part of the evil oppressive majority, holding others down, when all I ever strive to do is build people up. Am I oversensitive? Probably. But I'm honest. And this day was a total waste of makeup.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Shades of Elle Woods

So I went and got a manicure and pedicure on Friday. Do you remember that scene in Legally Blonde where Elle is depressed and heads to the salon to get her nails done? Yep, I now know why. It is so marvelously therapeutic! The whole experience is like Nirvana for a sensualist like me. First, your tootsies are immersed in a scented, swirling pool of warm water where they can flirt with the bubbles created by the whirlpool jets. Then, your nails are carefully shaped and the cuticles playfully nipped to prevent painful ingrown nails and hangnails. Depending on your salon, your soles are either shaved or roughly scrubbed with a pumice stone to reveal the baby-soft new skin. Exfoliation follows, where a gritty gel is massaged into your calves and feet, softening and renewing your skin. After the rinse, warmed lotion is smoothed onto the tender skin, soothing and caressing your legs. Polish is slicked on, and your feet are suddenly the most beautiful part of your body. While I normally view my feet as a method of transportation, now I glance down at my toes and get a boost by how cute they look. Sick, huh?

Even worse, my nails match. I feel outrageously pampered and completely feminine. Delicate, even, and that's really an accomplishment for a woman built roughly like a draught horse. Working on it, though. That's what the manicure/pedicure was for - a reward for losing 30 pounds. I'm big on rewards. Really big. So, I'll stick with Elle for now.


I've been having issues with the people who want stickers placed on high school textbooks, warning students that information on Evolution is contained therein. The Gooch at Hube's Cube and I have been chatting about it. What about you?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Harnessing my Chi

So I've begun taking Tai Chi lessons. One of the teachers at my school is an instructor and has offered free classes on Mondays & Wednesdays to anyone who wants to learn. I can always use the exercise, and the stress relief is welcome! After a Monday chock-full of 7th & 8th graders - oh, the unbelievable angst!!! - I am wound tighter than a 25-hour clock! It wasn't hard. All those years of dance training were useful: pay attention to your body, move slowly and deliberately, see where you're going before you go there, etc... I look forward to making it a part of my routine.

Tai Chi makes me think of M'ok Bara, you know, the Klingon Martial Arts. I just need a Bat'leth, then I'd be ready for the Romulans. Yes, I've always been a Trekkie. Way back in the mid-70s, when I was in summer camp, the counselors would have movie day when it rained. We'd gather in the gym (this was YWCA day camp) on the mats and watch Shatner & Nimoy projected onto the gym wall. I learned all about the Trouble with Tribbles while the rain pattered softly outside. I loved those rainy days. Of course, in college I discovered the inimitable Jean-Luc Picard - make it so, number one! Tea, Earl Grey, hot! Engage! Then came Benjamin Sisko, steeped in gumbo, but with the most precise enunciation I've ever encountered. He was much better bald. Those beginning episodes are a trip to watch. Katherine Janeway was not a favorite of mine - really, Voyager was where it all started to go downhill for me in TrekWorld. Neelix was cloying, Seven was too vulcanized, Chakotay was practically castrated by the StarFleet uniform, Torres was too wishywashy to be half-Klingon and live... and the list goes on... Don't even get me started on Enterprise. Scott Bakula? Oh for the love of Kirk, no!

Now, if you really want to get me started, just start reminiscing about Babylon 5 or Farscape. I long for these shows. I hope that Sci Fi picks Babylon 5 back up. I'd love to make that a part of my routine again. Maybe I can do Tai Chi while I watch.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Some people call it laziness, I call it loyalty.

I like certain things. I always have. I don’t change my perception with the passing wind of the masses. Some have called it immaturity, still others have called it just plain sad. It has been said that I haven’t “grown enough,” when what I hear is that I haven’t changed enough for some people. I’m fixated in the past, preocuppied with 1985, like the woman in the Bowling for Soup song. You know what I have to say to these charges? In the immortal words of Clueless Cher, “as if!”

I prefer to think of myself as timeless. Classic, if you will. I’m a connoisseur of nostalgia, a misty-eyed memory-keeper of a bygone era. A couple of bygone eras by now, I’m sure. I don’t wallow in the past by any means, but I don’t mercilessly nihilate it, either by dropping the old for the new on a whim. I understand the cyclical nature of fashion, although I still contend that the Seattle Grunge of the 1990s remains inexplicable and pray it doesn’t cycle back, but I still remain faithful to the classics – Jeans, polo shirt, and white sneakers. Ok, ok, so the polo shirt isn’t as vital a component as it was back in the day. These days Ralph Lauren doesn’t figure much into my Target/Sears wardrobe, but I digress.

I have bid adieu to several friends now who have moved on to undoubtedly newer and more exciting models. While this really hurt at the time, I suppose I can see their side of the relationship. There they are, bursting to be a part of the latest, cutting-edge scene and I’m still happily spinning vinyl and grooving to Duran Duran. They want to meet exciting new people with bigger and better experiences. They want to hear their stories, emulate their style, grab some of their cachet, breathe in some of that “new-friend” smell. I mean, who wants to see the same old people forever?

Well, um, that would be me, actually. I don’t mind seeing the same people every day. In fact, I kind of enjoy it. The routine is nice and comfy. We humans are creatures of habit, no matter how hard we rebel. Habit has taught me a lot about myself. I know that Earl Grey is the answer to any knotty problem, as it has been for years. I know that Duran Duran remains an excellent dance band. And I know that my husband of nearly 15 years still secretly loves the version of me that he fell in love with those many years ago the best. I am this knowledgeable because I kept my old habits while still managing to embrace the future. Because I have, you know – embraced the future, that is. You see, while the Fab Five still remain in my collection and are spun with regularity, I have added some Evanescence and Maroon 5 to the mix. I not only follow fashion, but I ruthlessly dog its every move, wondering if the pointy toe will triumph over the rounded one. And I’ll always want to know what’s new in the world.

But, you’ll have to forgive me if I continue to cling doggedly to my favorites, like treasured books in a life’s library. Because, to me, a good relationship is like a book – you dive in and muck about for the duration. Sure, you might lose a few characters along the way, but page after page, chapter after chapter, it’s still the two of you moving throught the plot together. Some may choose to close the book prematurely when the writing stutters a bit and the plot gets a bit hackneyed. As I said before, I understand.

But I’ll always want to know what happens in the next chapter.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Friday on my mind

It's Friday, and it couldn't have come too soon! I have sooo much to do this weekend, that I doubt I'll have time to blog, so here goes nothing:

I have to take my daugher to her friend's birthday party tomorrow at the Deptford Mall. I'll be traveling into South Jersey, the veritable heart of darkness, to go to Friendly's and Build-a-Bear for this party. The last party I went to was at Gymboree with about 20 little kids running amok. Kids parties are such a make-or-break part of parenting now! I had a really small one for Rhiannon, just her and her best friend, but suddenly, everyone and their sister is inviting her to these massive birthday shindigs. I swear, I'll have to take out a loan for her next party if things keep inflating like this! Whatever happened to cake and ice cream followed by your parents putting on music and playing "dance fever 1977?" I'm going to fail, comparatively, as a parent if I don't keep up. Story of my life, actually, but I digress...

Sunday is all about the errands, as usual. I always go to the supermarket Sunday mornings, prompting the Mister to observe that I must be a "Marketarian." I am. Devout. Then the usual round of laundry, - Mount Washmore awaits me in Rhiannon's room - cleaning, and grading papers. Ugh. If I'm lucky, I might get to read another book.

I just started the most recent Myth book by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye. My friend Jeremy got me hooked on these books back in 1984 and I've been a fan ever since. I can't remember the title, but it's the one with the Wuhses in it. Now if I can only summon up the energy to get through this weekend... I'm such a Wuhs.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Een, twee, drie, vier

Check out my friend Dave's blog - or as I put it "see how the other half thinks." Dave's a political kind of guy from the other side of the spectrum (the Dark Side), but he's like the big brother I never had.

A couple of years back, Dave & I took a class in teaching Foreign Languages at the Elementary School. We learned a hilarious song in Dutch, all about a paper hat (hoedje van papier, for those of you that need to know these things...). I've called him Hoedje ever since. Sing along everybody: een, twee, drie, vier, hoedje van papier...

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Brand New Year

So it's the first day of the new year and it's 59 freaking degrees out. This is not typical Delaware weather for January. I should be freezing my butt off instead of going to the park in a polo shirt. I think every parent had the same idea today - take your kids to the park, it'll be the last time they can run around without a snowsuit before April. I let my sweet baby girl run around until she was stumbling with exhaustion, dragged her off the playground - literally kicking and screaming - stuffed her into the car, and hauled her home today. The little stinker still didn't take a nap. I miss those naptimes she used to have when she was tiny. Now that she's 3, she eschews the afternoon nap on weekends. I must be getting broody...

Lack of naps aside, it was a wonderful start to the year. I got to read (yet another) book - I think I set a record for reading books over vacation: I visited the used book store twice, the library once, and Borders twice. I think I have an addiction... Anyhoo, I did my favorite things - read, played with my daughter, cooked, watched TV, everything but eat chocolate and have s... well, the night is still young, ok? Maybe I can get them both in at the same time. You know, start the new year off with a bang!