Running Out of Time

Last weekend, Jessica and I hit the thrift stores for the purpose of buying books for classroom liberries. We each found some real good steals, but Jessica hit the gold mine with one particular find, Running out of Time. Take a moment to read the back cover:

"I may have to ask you to do something very dangerous," Ma said."

Jessie's mother is desperate, for the children of Clifton are dying, and in 1840, there is no medicine to help them. This leads her to reveal an enormous secret to Jessie: It is actually 1996, and they are living in a reconstructed village that serves as a tourist site. She asks Jessie to do something that will put her life in jeopardy: to escape into the outside world to get help, before the children run out of time.

This revelation turns the world as Jessie knows it upside down. Her odyssey becomes a gripping page-turner that combines the fascination of a mystery, the power of a historical fiction, and the wonderment of science fiction. Like Jessie, who must come to terms with a world she has never known, readers of Running Out of Time are challenged to look at their own world in a new way.

That is the most amazing plot I have ever heard of; even though Jessica has no spare time in her life right now, she made time to read this book and swears it is every bit as stupendous as the description might lead you to believe. Knowing that this piece of fiction exists makes me that much more excited to live in the world.

The following paragraph contains a movie spoiler. Highlight the white text if you're brave enough to read it:

When Kline got a rundown on the book's premise, she revealed that that was essentially the twist in the film, The Village. After doing some research, I found out that the publishers of Running Out of Time sued M. Night Shyamalan for stealing their story. I don't know the specifics, but it certainly was a story worth stealing! I remember when a friend of mine watched the movie, ey expressed thanks that I hadn't been able to watch it with em because I would have "made fun of it" the whole time. Indeed, I would have, because the premise is ridiculously enjoyable.


Put Them in Their Place

I'm a phenomenal teacher. I'm so devoted to my profession as an English educator that I've started vandalizing. Large signs at my school advertise "DANCE TONITE" and I can't help but sharpie a thick line through the "TE" and write in "GHT." Let's not think of it as vandalism, but large scale editing. Never mind the fact that I have to "edit" discreetly and act like nothing's up when someone walks by.

It's all about putting students in their place. Frequently, my students forget their textbooks. I can't let one student go to the lockers to get it, or then I'll have to let ten of them leave class for the same purpose. After unsuccessfully begging me to let her get her textbook, Lenore* asks if she can use the restroom. "If you're only using the restroom," I stipulate. Lenore assures me that that's the case, however, moments later shows up with a book in hand. "Looks like Lenore likes to read on the toilet," I announce to my class. Lenore turns various shades of red; she won't be lying to me again soon.

I almost always let students use the restroom when they ask; I don't want to burst any bladders. Unfortunately, their laxness on my part means that everyone is asking to use the bathroom, though I only let one student go at a time. After one student comes back, she hands the pass to Monique*. Manuel* complains that he was next. I support him, explaining that I had said Manuel was first. Monique gripes, "Excuse me, haven't you ever heard of ladies first!" "Ladies first has nothing to do with bladder control," I retort, irritated. "Yeah, but ladies have cycles!" she tries. "I understand that," I counter. "But certain students in this class ask to leave like they're cycling every other day." The class erupts at my slam. A word of advice to fellow teachers: if you make a menstruation joke, the class is bound to get off track.


I Didn't Project That

My principal came to perform eir first unannounced formal evaluation of me yesterday. As soon as ey walked through the door, I panicked and questioned whether the lesson I had prepared was impressive enough. My students were unusually well behaved, unsurprising considering the presence in the classroom. I plugged the overhead projector into the wall and rolled it to the center of the room. I hadn't used the thing before, not even to test it out, so I worried that it might not work or have some kind of technical difficulty. Fortunately it powered on just fine and I nervously began my lesson. Just as I noticed that a funny smell was permeating, a student in the front row announced, "The thing's smoking!" I turned and saw that, indeed, the overhead was dispelling copious amounts of smoke. I feverishly tried to find the problem, ultimately discovering that there was a piece of foam attached to the light bulb (I presume to protect it during shipping), which had caught on fire. Quickly, I yanked it off the machine and clapped the flame out, though smoke continued to billow. "Mr. [Kevin] made a boo boo!" I awkwardly apologized to the class, avoiding eye contact with the principal out of embarrassment. More on the edge than ever, I continued with my lesson, pushing through the numerous complaints about the burning odor. And no, I'm not sure whether the principal was one of the gripers.

Ah, there's nothing like a good first impression! Only a truly competent teacher like myself could start a fire in eir classroom with the prinicipal watching.



For a variety of reasons, while waiting for America's Next Top Model to start earlier tonight, I started pantomiming what it would look like if I was to have sex with a disembodied head. You know, the usual. As Amy watched in horror, Jessica, bless her heart, just laughed. Looking for an expert opinion, I asked Jessica for a scientific explanation for necrophilia. Sitting me down, she deadpans, "Well, it all starts when two people really love each other... and one of them is dead."


An Andrew One-Liner

Andrew: "You're not an organ donor? That's ironic considering you break so many hearts."



Every few weeks, when the food doesn't make itself, and often it doesn't, my housemates and I have an easy fix: pizza. Just a quarter mile down the road, Little Caesars has a special offer where for five dollars, they'll hand you a large cheese or pepperoni pizza on the spot. This superb deal is called "Hot and Ready."

After Shea picked us up a pie last night, we sang the praises of the Hot and Ready. "Hot and ready," Shea smiled. "Just the way I like my women." Laughing, I tried to come up with my own women/pizza analogy. "I like my women covered in sauce... and crusty." There was a collective wince at the word crusty.

That's right. I like 'em crusty.


Horatio's Brother

On my way to sign my contract a few weeks ago, I stopped at the bank. There, I ran into Andrew, who had escorted a couple of British exchange students to sort out some financial matters. I shared my good news of employment with the three of them; they probed me with questions to get more information. The half dozen other people sitting in the little waiting area were also listening pretty intently, probably intrigued that someone who looks fourteen could actually be a teacher of fourteen-year-olds.

Anyway, I left them to take care of business (that's banking business, not business business), but on my way out, I went to say goodbye, and heard the two exchange students repeatedly saying "fellatio," which becomes that much more intriguing of a word when said with a British accent.

"Kevin," Andrew looked to me for help. "What is the American colloquialism for fellatio?" I glanced at all the people still sitting in the waiting area, which included children and senior citizens. Though I was prepared to offer up "giving head" or "blowjob," (and by that I mean the words, not the acts), there was no way I could do that in front of mixed company, particularly mixed company that just heard the name of the high school for which I would be working. "I'm not touching that!" I said, backing toward the door. "Please!" Andrew pleaded. As much as I'd have loved to discuss oral sex with exchange students, I'm a teacher. There are certain rules of conduct.

Recounting this story to four friends all sprawled out on my beautiful bed, we all started saying "fellatio" in our best British accents, in the same manner I still find myself mimicking, "When are you ever going to need to say Plexiglas?" with a German accent. Hearing us from the next room, Kline comes in and starts imitating as well. After getting a few in, she stops to ask, "Fellatio? Is that Horatio's brother?" Everyone laughs until Kline admits that that was a legitimate guess and that she really doesn't know what fellatio means. Of course, I figure she must be kidding, so I continue to laugh, going so far to actually point at her while I laugh. As I soon discover, however, Kline really doesn't know the word fellatio, so I step in and offer up some synonyms, like giving head and blowjob.

After all, as an educator, it is my job to promote vocabulary development. Still, there are certain circumstances where it is more appropriate than others to teach about oral sex. Like lying in bed, for instance.


This Just Might Be My Most Concise Blog Title That I Have Ever, in My History of Blogging, Created

Kevin: The funny thing is, even though I'm supposed to give her extra time, she doesn't write that much. She's usually done way faster than the others. That's not to say it's bad, it's often thoughtful, it just tends to be concise.
Michael Michael: Being concise is hard. I didn't learn how to do that until my senior year of high school.
Kevin: I still don't know how to be concise! If I'm going to write something good, it's going to be long. It's like I don't know how to make a point without being very wordy and describing it in great detail. The more I say, the better I feel about it and the more I want to elaborate about it... (noticing Michael Michael's eyes starting to glaze over)... kind of like I'm doing right now.


Vagina Lips Donkey

My new favorite hobby is cleaning out my trash can at school. That basket is a certifiable gold mine. As I've discovered, students write notes during my class, then toss them on their way out the door. The things I've learned about my students in this context is rather valuable: I know who is planning to drink this weekend, who is bisexual, and who is considering losing their virginity. Not to mention who is not paying attention during my class. Though I've seen notes badmouthing other teachers, it's been several days of checking before I've found the inevitable criticism of me. The following crumpled up note is an exchange between two students:

I've been kinda bored... what about you

Same as you. Yea this class is pretty boring.

I kno... dat teacher's a vagina lips donkey... watta weirdo

haha. lol Your mean He isn't a whatever u said haha. I think he's an okay teacher He's been pretty cool.

I kno... I was kidden... he cool... lol...

Well, it could have been worse. I may be a weirdo (which I'll gladly own up to), but I'm "pretty cool" too. Awww! I'll take my validation wherever I can get it, even if it does follow being called a vagina lips donkey. If it were even a tad more appropriate, I'd be tempted to ask the question "What is a donkey lips vagina?" on the next test just to watch those two students wince in their chairs. In the meantime, we clearly have a lot of work to do on spelling, punctuation, and creating sensical insults.

*The photo, of course, is of Donkey Lips from Nickelodeon's Salute Your Shorts, though the student is much too young to understand that reference.


A Well-Rounded Relationship

While having a discussion with a friend about his long term significant other:

R: (taking out a picture) Hey, do you think she has a round head?
K: Umm, yeah, I guess I see that.
R: See? She has a round head!
K: Does it bother you or something?
R: I know this is going to make me sound shallow, but I'm not sure I can date her.
K: You would break up with her because she has a round head?!
R: I don't know. Maybe. It's just so round...
K: That is shallow!
R: Hey!
K: I would have never noticed if you hadn't mentioned it first.
R: Me either! It would have been fine, except that she brought it up a few weeks ago. Now it's like I'm kissing a basketball.


Caught with My Pants Down

I've having bathroom problems at work. Before you quickly close your browser, I promise that this post is not about diarrhea.

For the first few days, I had to use the student bathroom. Naturally, this situation was unacceptable as I am "better than" the students, plus I get remarkable stage fright when next to someone at the urinal. Fortunately, an empty office located near my classroom has been unlocked for the staff's benefit. The empty office features both a men and women's restroom, which are completely identical aside from the sign on the door. Twice now when I've found the men's bathroom occupied, I've decided to take the liberty of using the women's restroom. Both times I have done so, however, I've been caught. The first time, I made a quick apology and excuse to the woman waiting outside to use the toilet. The second time, thinking no one was in the vicinity, I sang and talked aloud to myself while pooping. Emerging from the restroom, a woman standing just feet away from the door, probably embarrassed on my behalf, avoided eye contact with me. Oh, like she doesn't sing while she's taking a crap when she thinks she's alone.

Today took the cake, however. I used the men's room, as it was unoccupied, but I somehow managed to forget to lock the door behind me. (In truth, I suppose I almost never actually lock the door.) While in the wiping phase, another teacher I know only by recognition walked in on me. In that quick "AAHHH" moment, he saw both my penis and my dirty ass. We both apologize profusely as we try to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, it can't really be remedied.

He quickly closed the door and I had not intention of opening it again anytime soon. Firstly, I dreaded the awkward second exchange that would have to happen, and was not ready to emerge. Secondly, he probably got a better view of how dirty my butt hole was and, in case it was quite a mess, I wanted to make sure he would believe I cleaned up properly. Thirdly, I needed to exaggerate the time I took to wash my hands, including lots of loud scrubbing sound effects. Once I felt strong and prepared enough to take my exit, I opened the door and winced in anticipation. Alas, I discovered he was not there. Where did he go? I wondered. That's when I heard him -- humming in the women's restroom.



Teaching stresses me out. I dream about having to be responsible and disciplining constantly. On Saturday night, after trying to teach Bosco the nuances of fetch only to find he'd prefer to lick my crotch, I started passing out on the kitchen floor. Appropriately, Michael Michael coaxed me into bed. I'm not exactly sure what I proceeded to dream about, but a few hours later in some hazy daze, I recall calling Michael Michael on his cell phone, inquiring about the whereabouts of a student. I was panicking, and said I knew where Michael Michael and Preston were, but where was the "other one?" Naturally, Michael Michael was confused, and told me that he thought everything was fine. "But he left me a note" I insisted. Michael Michael said it was okay and to go back to bed. Even in my semiconscious state, I started to pick up on his slightly amused tone and that he was merely appeasing me. Embarrassed, I hung up. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what I had been talking about, so I went back to sleep.

You've all heard of sleep talking. You've all heard of drunk dialing. But that, folks, might be one of the first recorded cases of sleep dialing.


A Conversation at the Ball Park

After seeming disinterested for a long time, Amy cheers wildly after a home run. I give her a quizzical look.

Amy: (explaining) "I like home runs."
Kevin: (gives her another quizzical look)
Amy: "I just like cheering for things, okay?"
Kevin: "So it's not home runs, it's just things to cheer for?"
Amy: "Yeah."
Kevin: "Would you cheer for AIDS?"
Amy: "AIDS?"
Kevin: "Yeah, you know, you like to cheer for things. How about AIDS?"
Amy: "No."
Kevin: "What if AIDS was personified and hit a home run?"
Amy: "I don't think AIDS personified would be strong enough to hit a home run."


Take Me out to the Ball Game

Fifteen of us went to the Dodgers game tonight. Fourteen of us cheered for the Dodgers; I cheered for the Padres. I wasn't trying to be antagonistic, but practically everyone in the stadium was there to cheer for the Dodgers, so I felt like the Padres could use a little love. Don't we all deserve motivation? Isn't the drive that makes us cheer for the home team the same factor that causes us to bomb other countries for few reasons other than pride?

At any rate, as a highly religious person, I felt compelled to root for the Padres. For my gringo readers, padre means father and father means the Lord. I dare you to cheer against God. Furthermore, the fans in the seats surrounding us were compromised predominately of Spanish speakers. Why they cheered for the Dodgers when the Padres is a team name in their own language is beyond me.

The jumbotron disturbed me. When it showed a baby wearing a Padres shirt, the entire crowd booed. They booed a baby! What the hella? Worse than that is the awkard "Kiss Cam," on which couples (all heterosexual) are shown at random and obligated to kiss for the amusement of tens of thousands of people.

People are noisy. They need to shut up and enjoy the game. Most of them are not even there to watch the game, their priorities are to 1) attract the attention of a television camera, 2) get on the Jumbotron 3) participate in the wave 4) hit a beach ball. If necessary, familiarize yourself with my diatribe about why the wave is the stupidest thing ever. The beach ball phenomenon might be even worse, however. These people pay money to see a baseball game, and then they completely ignore the game for fifteen minutes at a time so that they can focus on a beach ball bouncing amongst the crowd. I used to be impressed with how Bosco could be so fascinated by a ball that seemingly nothing else in life mattered more. Apparently, it's not a unique occurrence. Some people acted as though their entire life would be fulfilled if only the ball came close enough to them that they could take a swat at it. Ironically, you know that these are the same people that, were they to be sitting and watching television at home, could not be bothered to play a beach volleyball game for all the money in the world.

By the end of the game, the Padres had totally kicked some ass. At least that jeered baby and I were happy.


A Determined Teacher - or, Failing that - Determined to Be One

Some of my best lessons happen on the spot. I suppose it's worth admitting that many of these lessons have to happen on the spot seeing as I did not sufficiently plan something ahead of time, but it can be difficult! In essence, I am to script out two hours worth of material, which is a lot of work. Film screenwriters can take as long as they want to craft an hour and a half worth of material. Sitcom writers have a week to make half an hour. Soap opera writers have to make an hour's worth of original material every weekday, so I guess I'd closest compare myself to them, but I have twice as much without the commercial breaks. Also, people don't expect much quality from soap operas, so hopefully my students and administrators will adjust their expectations accordingly.

Today my students read a story that dealt with the theme of fate. After I asked my one prepared discussion question about what they think about the concept of fate, it occurred to me that I could take this topic so much further. Suddenly, I found myself completely diving into the topic of free will vs. determinism, which is some pretty hefty stuff for their grade level; Mike and I used to debate this subject for hours. With enough explanation and examples, though, they developed a pretty good grasp on the concepts and held their own in a real philosophical class discussion. A good portion of my class copped to believing in fate because God has already determined a path for them. I ran with that thought and had us discuss the different ways in which "God" can play into determinism and free will and what it means to believe or have faith. "Are we allowed to talk about this?" a concerned student asked. "Sure," I bluffed. "I'm not telling you what to think, just asking that you do think." Amazingly, I was able to maneuver in such a way that I made the Bible-thumpers look critically at their religion without seeming antagonistic.

After the conversation lasted for more than an hour, some of the students got a bit antsy about not being able to reach a conclusion. It might take some time before I can convince them that the questions without concrete answers are the most meaningful of all. Still, seeing those students, even those who would typically rather die than participate, arguing and thinking critically about these world views was intensely satisfying. Truthfully, these were the types of things I got into teaching to do; literature is the perfect jumping off point for developing the ways we look at life.

Toward the end of the period, one student who clearly had eir mind blown (but not raped) cried, "Stop! Mr. [Kevin], you're making my head hurt. I'm thinking too much." That was the most delightfully perfect thing I could ever hear. It was so delightful, in fact, that I laughed. Except that I didn't just laugh, I kind of cackled. My students looked at me disturbed. I had to apologize and explain that thinking too much was precisely the point. Then, regrettably, I half-cackled again. All right, so they think I'm crazy... but at least they're thinking!


The Art of War

Tonight Kat came for a visit, and she brought her lovely Norwegian friend with her. Norwegian is a fascinating individual and seemed equally fascinated with my experience working at a public high school. Though she attended a California high school with Kat as well, it was an art-themed boarding school with lots of creative yet angsty theater and performing arts kids, a world of difference from the bunch you'd find at your typical public school. Norwegian was shocked to hear about the immense discipline problems and that students will not hesitate to tell me to "fuck off" if they feel like it. When I explained the problem with gang affiliation and the prohibition of certain colored clothing, Norwegian couldn't fathom this being a reality at her school. Indeed, her classmates cared more about Annie, Get Your Gun than guns. Still, I've had fun imagining the logistics that a gang presence at her school would entail:

* Concealing blunt weapons (ie: clarinets) in backpacks
* Diluting rival gangs' acrylic paints
* Shakespearean graffiti on the walls
* Drive-by glitterings
* Flashing the gang sign, jazz hands, as a death threat

Of course, all of this would also culminate in the banning of all purple clothing with pink polka dots for the safety of the student body.


My Magic Poe-tion

My students are largely disinterested in literature, even the honors students. I choose to begin with Edgar Allan Poe because I figured he's just creepy enough to hook them in and get them excited. It's about death! It's about betrayal! It's about morality! All right, the last one isn't so compelling to them, but I'm trying. Some of the kids find the eeriness fascinating and are engaging with Poe's material, but at least half are still drifting elsewhere, unconcerned.

As private conversations begin to overpower my lesson, frustrated, I let loose, "Poe was an alcoholic!" Heads turn toward me in interest. That's right, they want to know the dirt. So I explain the mystery surrounding his death featuring his bizarre collapse outside of a tavern. Was it murder? Alcoholism? Rabies? They want to know an answer; of course, I don't have one for them. Not wanting to lose the momentum, however, I blurt out that Poe married his thirteen-year-old cousin when he was in his 20s. There are cries of "Gross!" and "Poe's a freak!" Now that we've established Poe as a questionable character, the class is interested in reading the disturbing things that he writes.

I do fear, however, how this will alter subsequent lessons. I wonder if I'll have to drag all major authors through the gutter. I can't substantiate these claims, but I've heard that Harper Lee once gouged a man's eye out with her bare hands. And enjoys putting gerbils up her ass.


Blue Diamonds, Purple Horseshoes, and Green Feces

When grocery shopping, I have no qualms about buying store brand products except when it comes to breakfast cereals. My brand loyalty has been well-established on that front, and despite being cheap, I'm willing to pay the price for deliciousness. Stater Bros. finally got me, though, with its faux Lucky Charms offering. Taunting me with a "Bet You Can't Tell the Difference" sign, I decided to take that challenge.

Well, I'm pleased to announce that I could taste the difference. As if there was any doubt, Magic Stars is an inferior product to Lucky Charms. The knowledge that I have discerning taste buds is reward enough to me, so I decided not to pursue a money-back offer. It's a good thing, too, because I noticed something noteworthy the next time I pooped. As Laura insinuated in her comment response to this post*, my poop turns green after eating Lucky Charms. And wouldn't you know it? Magic Stars produce that same foreign hue in my bowel movements. As it turns out, Stater Bros. claim is true: I can't tell the difference.


* Looking back, the spam comment beneath Laura's is quite hysterical, too. It's good to know that that person agrees with Laura about being cautious of Lucky Charms because of its effects on turd tint. Additionally, that person is a doctor, so it's safe to assume that's not just an opinion but a medical opinion. I'd guess there's significant scientific research done on the subject.

Also, fellow college graduates will be interested to hear that that Ralph's location (the one that furnished our booze for four years) has gone out of business. One summer without our biweekly alcohol purchases, and it has to shut down. Now Old Farts like me have to get our senior discounts elsewhere.


Family Television Programming: Gather Your Klan Around

During my summer teaching experience, I worked at a school with a 99% Latino population. Though it was diverse to me, I ultimately hoped for a more racially diverse setting because I thought that may facilitate better, more enlightening discussions. Currently, I'm at a school with an amazing cross-section: no racial group comprises more than half of the student body, with substantial populations from each of our four highest ethnicities. I'm already disappointed, though, because these different student groups largely do not interact. Sure, when I force them to sit interspersed, they'll chat, but they're most interested in shouting across the room to like-color-skinned friends. Before school and at lunch, I see the students voluntarily separate into four distinct groups: Hispanic, White, Black, and Asian. As I verbalized this aloud to Jessica, I realized: oh my gosh, it's just like Survivor!

For those of you who have been living under a rock (or have lives exciting enough such that you don't follow reality television), the upcoming season of Survivor divides the contestants into four race-based tribes. When I first heard about this twist, I thought, great, this is it, I can't watch the show any more. There are certain institutions that I refuse to support, one of which is segregation. From my perspective, by categorizing people according to their race, we give credence to it being a viable way to separate people. In truth, it bothered me the three times Survivor split its tribes by gender (as does any time someone suggests breaking teams into "boys vs girls!"), but that type of division is so accepted by society that it'd probably turn into a one person crusade. People are outraged by the race division, though, which just goes to show that racism is at least societally deemed a more taboo subject than sexism.

At the same time, I'm coming to realize that it's reality. (I know, a surprising concept from reality television.) Just as my students do, it's undeniable that many people, often subconsciously, choose to group themselves by race. As much as I'd like to pretend this sort of thing doesn't happen, it does. And by putting this topic in the spotlight, at least it's forcing people to talk about it.

So thank you, Survivor. Thank you for making us reflect on the way our world operates. I have hope that this series could actually have a positive impact on America. Unless, of course, some white folk ends up winning the million dollars. In that case, I fear riots worse than those that followed Rodney King.


Mind Rape

Someone uses the phrase "mind raped."

Allison: "That would have to be with an infant because only babies' heads would be soft enough to penetrate."

(Out of habit, I went to Google image search for some kind of funny picture to accompany this post, only to realize I don't even know what search terms I'd use to come up with a photo I'd quickly realize was wildly inappropriate.)


East Coast/West Coast Rap Wars

During my teaching introduction, I inform the students that I'm originally from the East Coast. After class, a student tries to strike up a conversation.

Student: "Where is the East Coast?"
Me: "The other side of the country."
S: "Oh, like New York and stuff?"
M: "Yeah, that area."
S: "Oh, I thought you meant the east coast of California."
M: "I don't even know where that would be."
S: "Yeah, I know!"

As an odd afterthought, it's probably not appropriate to represent an interaction with a student with S&M.

East side!


I've Been So Nervous about Teaching

that I've put on a little bit of weight.


Two Days In

How's teaching going? Well, two days in, I've already been tackled and molested.

On the first day of class, we're told to play ice breaker games with our students so that they become better acquainted and comfortable with one another. Unfortunately, students can only play so many games of People Bingo (get creative, teachers!) before they've had it up to here. Jessica taught me a game that essentially amounted to get-to-know-you musical chairs. Let me tell you, the shyest students are also the most aggressive if it means not having to share a factoid about themselves. Hence, if the teacher and a timid student find themselves running for the same stool, it quickly becomes a smack down.

On the first day, a student literally knocked me to the ground so that she could get to the stool first. Like any teacher would, however, I let my competitive instinct kick in and grabbed her ankle, holding her back long enough to get there first. Point for teacher!

The following day in a different class, in a skirmish for the last stool, a student makes accidental (yet prolonged) contact with his hand on my genitals. This action, of course, mortified him and left me unsure of what to say. Someone from the side cries, "Mr. [my last name]! You just got molested!"

Not exactly the type of incidents I would expect to be most memorable after two days of teaching, but I'm going to guess this stuff will be par for the course in my classroom.


First Day of School

I'm about to leave for my first day of school. I'm not quite terrified, but I'm certainly nervous. In these situations, people always say to just picture your audience in its underwear. Normally, I'd be game, but I'm pretty sure that's an inappropriate approach when dealing with teenage students.

Wish me well. Here goes (slightly more than) nothing.


Bad News/Good News

Michael Michael had a dream about me. We were on the subway together when armed police officers swept through the cars looking for a suspect. For whatever reason, I apparently ran at the sight of the cops, and one of the cops thought I was the guilty party and shot me through the neck.

Seeing my limp body held in an officer's arms, Michael Michael ran over to see if I was okay. "No, he's dead," said the officer. "But his journal's really funny!"

Well, at least I have that going for me.


"I Found It on My Pants"

After some initial resistance, I am proud to announce that I have gotten my housemates into Arrested Development. In all honesty, I find it very hard to respect anyone who "doesn't get" the show: it's the type of thing that could be a friendship breaker for me. Fortunately, I let the show speak for itself, and it seems to have won everyone over. I make daily references to Arrested Development, and it's sucked having no one understand them. (In summer school, I had a bit of a problem with hormonal teens touching one another, so each time I observed such an incident, I'd slam on something and yell, "NO TOUCHING!" They found it amusing, but the reference totally went over their head.) But now that Michael Michael has gotten through the first two seasons, he's spitting them out even better than me. My life is twice as good now that I have someone to trade lines with regularly.

After coming home from a bar last night (yes, we seem to be doing that a lot lately), Jessica and I were ready to go to bed, but Michael Michael was ready for some Arrested Development, pouring me a drink from Right-On to entice me to stay up. As Michael Michael was discovering, the only thing better than watching an episode of Arrested Development is watching an episode of Arrested Development a second time because than you not only get to enjoy all the jokes that you missed the first time around, but laugh wildly in anticipation of the big cleverly crafted comedic climaxes. (That alliteration was not intentional, but a pleasant surprise.) It's pure joy to watch Michael Michael convulse in laughter at jokes that haven't even happened yet; meanwhile, I convulse just enough to repeatedly spill my drink on my shirt, which my friends also found to be quite hilarious. Not appreciating their lack of support, I switched to a Kohoutek shirt so that if I were to spill on myself again, it would be at the expense of the music festival Michael Michael headed at college. That shut him up.

It's important to note that Jessica was, um, "worldly" again. Mid-show, I heard Jessica spit and watched her pull a black piece of plastic out of her mouth. "What is this I tried to eat?" she said angrily. After I gave her a puzzled look, she tried to explain, "I found it on my pants," as if that would justify trying to eat it. (I'm not actually judgmental of this action as that would make me a hypocrite, but it puzzled me that other people would do it as well.) Embarrassed, Jessica stood up to walk away and then spotted what she was looking for: chip crumbs on the couch cushions (more incidental alliteration). She promptly gobbled them up. Okay - that may have been better than an episode of Arrested Development.


Decoration Celebration

Jenna and Kat gave up their afternoon to help set up my classroom yesterday, for which I am eternally grateful. If anyone has ever seen my style of decorating, you'll know that Martha Stewart I am not - except for my excessive use of doilies. A fellow teacher asked if I was using them for their "feminine touch," but the truth of the matter was I needed these two gals for their brute strength. I've been put in an art classroom and have tables and stools rather than desks, so I required an extra set of arms to lift and move the furniture around. Altogether, we spent an hour and a half pushing the tables around trying to find the exact right way to organize the classroom. At the end, my whiteboard was covered with all sorts of odd diagrams that came to look like elaborate football plays. Finally, we found a seating arrangement that added elements from all three of our ideas and we declared it "done." Perhaps we were just tired by that point, but it seemed nearly perfect.

It was exhilarating to have my friends come to visit my classroom. Like, that's my classroom. And my friends get to come and see it if they want. So I'm a real teacher with a real classroom at a real school where my friends are adult friends of the teacher all looking to better the education of our nation's youth. It's freaking surreal. Just when I was starting to feel mature, I found that Jenna made her way into the band room and took the liberty of banging on the drums for a while. And you know what? That's awesome, too. I would have done the same had I found them first. Because we may be (gulp) adults, but we'll never be those stiff lame adults that resist the urge to pound on an unattended drum set.

Jenna rocked the palindromes. After mounting the sheets on construction paper, she attached them to my walls in a patterned fashion, just the way palindromes should be. (I worry that I describe this task like I am commending a third grader, but I really am impressed and very thankful.) Meanwhile, Kat and I were like monkeys, climbing atop the art cubbies nine feet off the ground to hang my cheesy posters. I needed her eye for detail because y'all know I wouldn't spend any time centering or straightening anything I hang. At one point, a custodian came in while we were both lying just below the ceiling and seemed confused.

Before we left for the day, danger occurred. I could hear footsteps coming from the floor above us, then suddenly, the Plexiglass panel covering one of my lights came crashing down from the ceiling with Jenna sitting directly underneath it. In that split second, I feared for Jenna's life and wondered whether the school's insurance policy would cover my guests' injuries. Fortunately, part of the Plexiglass was attached to hinges, so it stopped dropping and merely swung repeatedly above Jenna's terrified hand-covered head. The three of us all panted in shock; as we would say in C2, my classroom is NOT SAFE!

At night, the three of us and a dozen more went to some random shabby bar for RJ's birthday where we drank beer, shot pool, and cut a rug on the tiny dance floor to Latin music as Hispanic men stared at us/asked to cut in with our womenfolk. It was bizarre, but I need bizarre experiences like that to counteract the bizarre realities of being a teacher.