A Student's One-Liner

"I posted my résumé on Monster.com and they fired me."


Time Isn't on My Side

It’s really disconcerting to have no sense of time. I woke up yesterday morning and found that my computer clock and my clock radio displayed times with an hour difference. At first I attributed the discrepancy to my computer being a freak. Lately, each time I restart it, until I reset the settings, it thinks it’s 1969 –- I’m not expert, but I’m pretty sure personal computers didn’t even exist at that point! Why, then, I wondered, is it only off by an hour this time? Then it occurred to me – Daylight Saving Time! We always fall back the weekend before Halloween. As a kid who took my candy gathering seriously, I knew that that extra hour of darkness would come just in time to provide additional trick-or-treating opportunities. I mentally thanked my computer for reminding me about the time switch; I couldn’t believe I had slept through my extra hour!

I went about resetting some clocks to adjust for the time and lived my life accordingly. My busy schedule consisted of lounging until getting brunch at 3:30 – give or take an hour. Later at night, someone asked the time and I provided a different answer than another housemate. I vouched for the earlier time, citing Daylight Saving Time, but was shut down. “We’d have heard if that was this weekend,” a housemate said. “Who would tell us” I asked. We don’t watch much TV, don’t get a newspaper, and don’t have contact with too many people who are on top of this sort of thing, so it’s not necessarily information that would be conveyed to us. So then I convince people it’s an hour earlier and everyone rejoices. Being handed an additional hour is an immeasurably amazing gift.

I decided to procrastinate on finishing my grading for the following day with my extra hour by playing Scrabble with Anna. Within ten minutes, however, someone discovered that the time had in fact not changed when it was discovered that our cellular phones uniformly weren’t synching up with the new time. Though it had only been ten minutes, the time we wasted while thinking we could waste time made everyone fly into a panic. “There’s so much that needs to be done!” “I have work to do!” Consequently, I felt so guilty for not doing work, I could barely enjoy my game of Scrabble. Sure, I still finished the game. And sure, I still played another one immediately after that. But you wouldn't believe how stressful that all was.


Act Your Age

Sometimes I feel I can act any age but my own.

Before The Go! Team concert last Saturday, Stacy and Allison brought a flask of rum to nip on in the parking lot. We concealed ourselves in our car in the parking lot, oddly enough next to a car with a duo of (underage?) strangers engaging in the same semi-covert activity. There’s nothing like a bunch of people well over the age of twenty-one having to conceal their alcohol consumption like a bunch of teenagers. Perhaps it’s only fitting since we were drinking like teenagers: the rum proved too strong for me to take more than a few sips, while others ended up having pukelets in their mouths. Afterwards, Michael Michael suggested we head to a bar he saw nearby. As it turned out, that bar was actually a Mexican restaurant. Across the street, however, we located a wine bar, but we decided it was too sophisticated for us, so we opted for the Mexican restaurant that served margaritas with wine instead of tequila; we ordered beers.

After the concert, my friends and I went for round two at a bar where 90 Proof was playing. Aside from us, the crowd was pretty firmly 40 years and older, so we drank a lot of beer until it didn’t matter. Honestly, though, I don’t think it’s necessary to drink in this situation for us to feel comfortable anymore, though we might pretend we have to. We’re encroaching more and more on official “townie” territory.

Earlier in the evening, Kurosh had been poking around a building at our former college and found a room with a multitude of funny hats. After many beers, we decided we needed to try on these funny hats, even if it was two in the morning. Our getaway car pulled up and four of us hopped out, prepared to wear amusing headpieces. Alas, we encountered our first obstacle when the door Kurosh thought would be unlocked was now locked.

While Kurosh tried to find another way in, I noticed a new statue nearby. Taken by its bizarre posture, I chose to gratify it anally.

After my romp, Allison took her turn to mount it. By the time my slow camera actually snapped the picture, Allison had begun falling off the poor guy. Sometimes technological inferiorities are a blessing, as you’ll see from the photo below.

Meanwhile, Kurosh found other ways of breaking into the building, returning to let us in through the side door. Touring through the unoccupied building, we discovered the hats were missing, either reclaimed by their owners or pillaged by an earlier posse. No matter, we still had some adventure in us; certainly there would be something to pilfer. Stumbling across some napkins, I shoved them down my pants. Soon we encountered other disposable paper products: toilet paper and paper towels, essentials the school used to provide to us for free. It amounted to the pettiest of crimes, but it still provided a rush. On the way out, Kurosh rolled one of the paper towel rolls down the hall and out the door as a calling card for our thievery. We sprinted comically to meet our getaway/designated driver and escaped without arrest.

Only once we were safely home did it occur to us that that building has many security cameras. It would be pretty embarrassing if the college administration checked the source of the minor mayhem and recognize a group of recent alumni. Stacy disavowed herself of any wrong-doing, citing having not taken any toilet paper. I recalled her taking a picture of the pope from the custodial closet, however, an act she denied for a second before checking her person and remembering what she had done. Stealing toilet paper might be mildly unscrupulous, but heisting a religious decoration is downright blasphemous. Fortunately, considering a week has passed without any repercussions, I think we’re in the clear. Alas, I don’t feel this passage of time has helped us mature any.



Many teenagers use the word “gay” to express that they find something dumb. While I overlook the occasional utterance, I do question the word’s use by those who say it frequently. In one class, I have a student, “Ivan” who is otherwise fairly quiet except when expressing displeasure toward an assignment. Apparently, unbeknownst previously to me, most homework I assign enjoys being sodomized in the butt, or so I gather from Ivan’s cries of, “Gayyyyyyyyyyy.”

For this particular student, I’ll often stop the instruction to ask whether Ivan could think of a synonym (or as my students always say, “cinnamon”) to replace “gay.” Most often, Ivan opts for “stupid” or “lame.” One time, however, ey decided neither of those words fit the occasion properly (which led to an impromptu lesson on connotation!) and I offered another suggestion: “cheesy.” The students found this word to be a hoot, so many of them adopted it into their vocabulary as a way of reminding each other how square Mr. [Kevin] is for saying cheesy.

The other morning, Ivan was not excited to finish eir rough draft. “Gayyyyyyyy!” Ivan announced. “What other word could we use?” I asked. “Uh… cheesy?” Ivan tried. In this case, “cheesy” was probably not the most appropriate word choice for what ey wanted to convey, but I accepted it anyway. “All right, so your essay is cheesy?” I follow up. “I… uh… no!” Ivan says, frustrated. “I don’t want to say ‘cheesy.’ Saying ‘cheesy’ is gay.” For once, in a very roundabout way, I actually sort of agreed. “You mean that saying ‘cheesy’ is cheesy, right?” Ivan, now associating “cheesy” with homosexuality tried to find a way out of having to say the word. “What if I just do my rough draft?” Win-win!


Happy Hours

Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I hung out with my coworkers socially. I was a bit reluctant at first since it carried so much potential for being boring and uncomfortable like previous occasions. For example, my last work-but-not-really-work outing was to Applebees. But when the person in charge of organizing the event selected a location ey described as "a bit of a dive bar," I knew I was in.

I made an excuse early that would allow me to potentially bail after forty-five minutes if necessary. Fortunately, that proved unnecessary when, *gasp*, I had a good time.

There were eight of us, and all of us were in our 20s. We swapped annoying student anecdotes. We made inappropriate jokes that, in the wrong crowd, would get us fired. We drank. We sang. We shared our respective propensities for falling asleep at 6 and 7 at night. We agreed that our next gathering would include board games. That's right: board games! These people are great company and it looks like there is potential for outside-of-work friendships, the main obstacle being when do we find much time while working in a fairly thankless job that keeps us far too busy.

I limited myself to two drinks over the course of three and a half hours because I didn't wanted to be labeled "that guy" on our first outing, but I could see myself becoming comfortable enough to let loose even.

I have to share my "best" joke of the evening, because it perfectly captures the atmosphere of the moment. On the bar's television screen, there was a news report about a local evacuation. The teacher next to me asked, "Is that at a school or a jail?" With a funny voice and exaggerated shrugging arms, I responded, "What's the difference?!" Out of that context, it's a really crappy joke, but I swear they responded like I was a professional comedian. Ah, teacher humor. I swear I could be a teacher for years to come if it were just the after hours part.


The Go! Team

On Saturday night, I went to the Go! Team concert with some friends and had a brilliant time.

Before the show, we encountered lead singer Ninja outside entering the tour bus. I wasn't positive it was her, though, so I did nothing. "If that was her," I said. "I'm going to... do nothing" I ultimately decided. Truthfully, I have nothing especially meaningful to say to her. I just want to ogle, adore, and idolize her.

Once the show began, I danced the entire time. It's nearly impossible to stop yourself from shaking to the music. The crowd apparently agreed: everyone was bouncing along, except for one intoxicated person in front of me who seemed to have trouble standing up.

Describing the sound of the band is kind of hard, since it's nothing like your typical music. According to the band's founder, Ian Parton, the band's sound is a "mix up of all [his] favorite kinds of stuff like noisy Sonic Youth guitar, double dutch chants, Charlie Brown piano, and car chase horns." I also like Wikipedia's description, calling them a "mixture of action theme songs, cheerleader chants, guitars, and early hip hop with a hint of '70s funk.

Check out the Go! Team's latest (totally fun) music video, "Doing It Right" for a taste:

As you can see, there is definitely a "punk cheerleaders on meth" kind of appeal, which I dig. In the past, desperate to compare it to something, I've likened it to something that could be found on Jock Jams in that it is guaranteed to get large groups of people pumped up and on their feet. Unlike Jock Jams, however, it has some musical credibility with its amazing samples, beats, and harmonies. Maybe if all cheerleaders where as genuinely charismatic and fun as Ninja and not so insipidly dull, I wouldn't make fun of cheerleaders so often.

Speaking of Ninja -- SWOON! She is definitely one of the most captivating performers I have ever seen. It's difficult not to be enchanted by her carefree movements on stage. Below, I've posted a live performance of "Titanic Vandalism." Be sure to watch for how she kicks off the song, then, even if you're not digging the sound (admittedly, the Go! Team isn't going to be for everyone), skip to the 2 minute mark and watch her hit new heights of movement mastery during the song's interlude.

My one gripe - if you can call it that - about the band is that I rarely have any idea what the hell they're saying. In that sense, it really is like being a large stadium setting where voices are amplified for the sake of hearing better, but only come out more muffled and muddied than before. That doesn't stop any of us from singing along. I just string together nonsensical syllables that go with the music and beam with joy regardlessly. With that in mind, my favorite Go! Team lyrics is the coherent yet terrificly simple "2, 4, 6, 8, 10" at the end of the song "Bottlerocket." Indeed, it is another cheerleader chant of counting off by twos, but it's inexplicably fun to sing along, too. You can hear the crowd doing the same toward the end of the song:

That clip is also awesome because Ninja takes a break from her own rocking dance moves to mimic the steps of people shaking along in the audience. I love her, love her, love her.

Go! Team!


A Resson Rearned

Shortly after making fun of Engrish, I had an experience that made me think twice. A couple of weeks ago, my language learning students underwent formal standardized testing to assess their language abilities. At after school tutoring, a Korean student, not my own, showed up to practice eir speaking skills. Part of the test involves being recorded on tape, so I went over the types of questions that might be asked of eir and appropriate ways to respond. The student spoke pretty well for someone who had been in the country for only two months. The student's main problem was enunciating L's properly. I often couldn't understand eir because of this. "People" sounded like "paper"; "apple" was "apper" and so on. No matter how many times I repeated the difference, ey could not discern it, which was frustrating since the are clearly two distinct sounds. Because the student couldn't hear the difference between R's and L's, I made eir pronounce it funny. Since it's only on tape, I had eir practice sticking eir tongue out when saying L's. Though ey still couldn't really hear the distinction, it forced eir to feel it. "Peop-ullllllll" ey'd say with a tongue hanging out. I felt like some fascist imposing my cultural on eir, but this student came looking for help on the test and this suggestion was one of the best I had to offer.

One component of the test is to ask questions of someone. For example, if the student is told to borrow a pen from someone, the student would have to ask, "May I borrow a pen, please?" The "please" (pronounced "preeze" when eir tongue didn't stick out) part was often forgot, so I had to keep reminding eir. I figured that since the student is so sweet, ey must be polite, and would definitely say "please" if ey was more familiar with the language. (Why they test manners in addition to language acquisition is a rant for another day, I suppose.) With this in mind, I asked what the Korean word for "please" was. The student said it and I tried repeating it back. The student laughed and said it again. I probably attempted it after the student seven times with no success. I could swear I was saying exactly what ey said, but this student was hearing a laughable distinction that I failed to detect. That's when it occurred to me that such phonetic problems were not unique to any one group of people. It's pretty short sighted to assume these issues go one way, as clearly I couldn't hear something that seemed so obvious either. I'm a teacher, but I'm still learning.


The Host with the Least

As much as I enjoy entertaining people, I have been a shitty host. It's not entirely my fault, as my living conditions aren't exactly ideal currently. One of my housemates compared our home to a third world country, which is offensive and unfair... to third world countries. (Besides, they're now called the much more optimistic sounding developing nations, get with the program.) Our washer broke. The internet stopped working, and were it not for the fact that we can sometimes faintly pick up a neighbor's wireless, this blog would never be updated. Our phone was disconnected for unknown reasons since we are still paying the bill. The sprinklers have stopped working and our landlord won't do anything about it, so our lawn is dead. Our bathroom is still out of operation.

Kurosh came this past weekend, but clearly the accommodations weren't too impressive. I gave him a run through of what kind of things weren't exactly working at the time and introduced him to our backyard for when he needed to pee. You know, the usual make yourself at home spiel. "You want to take a shower? There are ways, but that's easier said then done..." Kurosh is a reasonable person, so I don't think it was that bad until he woke up the following morning really having to poop and having nowhere to go. Whoops. To make matters worse, the previous night had been cut short in a fairly unceremonious way when our fuse unexpectedly blew. Since our usual quick fix for that kind of thing did not work, we were stuck in the dark. 10:26 is as good as any time to go to bed, right? I asked.

Needless to say, I was pretty embarrassed. Not embarrassed enough to stop from bringing Christine over after Margarita Mondays. As might be expected after a night of margaritas, I had to urinate. I was intending to have just one drink; I drank so slowly at first in fact that Katy and Amber's dad made of me for having maybe a gulp gone when he had already finished one. But then someone bought me a second drink, and then the employees gave us free drinks, and before I knew it, I had had three and was glad I hadn't driven tonight. So, yeah, as I was saying, I had to urinate, hence, I had to urinate in the yard. Christine was a bit taken aback, her bladder similarly full. We spent an hour or so drinking water, chatting, and then the police showed up. We heard a call from out the window that it was the police, so we all laughed because clearly it must be a joke. Irritated, the police officers repeated, "No really, it's the police." As it turned out, one of my housemate's was, and this has never been clarified, potentially illegally parked. Though the problem was fixed easily, again, it was pretty embarrassing to be like, hi, welcome to my house, feel free to pee in our yard and please ignore the visit from the cops.

Try as I might, for your own sake, please don't accept any invitations from me until I get stuff squared away.


Trader Joe's Jubilee

If I were to make a time line of the most important events ever in my life, September 30, 2007 at 5:57 PM would make the short list.

For my birthday, my Ant Chrissy bought me a gift card for Trader Joe's. It took me a while to use it, but when I finally did, it was positively amazing. I didn't need too much: some bread, cheese, and meat for sandwiches; milk; corn; and a couple of impulse buys. Throughout my spree, I did not make any attempt to calculate how much I was spending in my head. While in the checkout aisle, I was delighted to find my grand total came to exactly $25.00. What a nice round number and pleasant surprise. I couldn't have hit that number so perfectly again if I tired. When I pulled out my gift card, the cashier asked how much it was for. "Maybe $25," I suggested. "Wouldn't that be great?" I was genuinely hopeful. The cashier ran it through and it was in fact $25. I emitted a triumphant squeal. "I should get a prize or something," I said smiling with satisfaction. The cashier seemed pretty indifferent to the MOST AMAZING THING THAT'S EVER HAPPENED. Asshole.

"Have you ever seen this before?" I asked, looking for some sort of validation. "I don't know," the cashier said. "I'm going to start working at Starbucks next week instead." Firstly, I didn't ask about the future, I asked about the past. Secondly, I'm glad the cashier is taking that sour attitude to a place I don't shop. This employee clearly worked at Trader Joe's (and now Starbucks) for the trendy, mainstream factor rather than the friendly, vaguely hippy-esque environment. No matter, I wasn't going to let one apathetic cashier kill my high. It may have just been $25, but it felt like at least $25 million.



Student A: Did everyone see the diarrhea in the hall?
Students: Ewwwwwww, what?
Student A: I swear, there was diarrhea in the hall. All over.
Mr. Kevin: Student A, please focus on your work.
Student A: But there was diarrhea!
Mr. Kevin: I doubt it and I don't care.
Student B: Who did it?
Student A: I don't know, but it couldn't be a girl.
Student C: Yeah-huh it could be a girl.
Student A: No, it's diarrhea, so it couldn't be a girl.
Mr. Kevin: I don't have the time to explain this to you right now, Student A, but contrary to popular opinion, girls do poop.
Students: laughlaughlaugh

Probably provoked by laughter, an unknown student farts loudly, spawning more laughter.

Student A: Ha! Who farted?
Mr. Kevin: Well, we know it can't be a girl...


Dirty Laundry

Since our washer grew decrepit and died, my housemates and I have had to frequent the laundromat. It's an odd place, to say the least. It's a reminder that some people have no qualms about fighting in public. When I went to the laundromat a few weeks ago, during the wash cycle there was an unrestrained verbal argument between a couple, then during the dry cycle, a parent and teenager had an argument so heated that it ended in a dramatic shoving match. I'm not sure whether it counts as domestic abuse when it occurs outside of the home, but I'd say the repercussions should be at least as serious for incidents happening in a laundromat.

As these disputes unfolded, I made eye contact with a quiet laundry-er adjacent to me to indicate "What the hell?" The fellow patron took that as a sign to start a whole conversation. Ey never once asked me about myself, instead ranting on eir own life. "You think your life is hard? I work seven days a week, I never get a day off. That's just what I have to do to make ends meet." It went on and on, like some supposedly poignant monologue in an off-Broadway play on the plight of the working class. Meanwhile, I wondered what I had done to make eir think I needed such a speech. Still, later when I had a lot of work to complete, I thought twice about moaning in my head since apparently I don't have it that bad. I also thought twice about how freaking weird that person was.

It's taken me a long time to return to the laundromat. Though my clothes have gotten dirty, I've ignored that fact to prevent the awkward company. It finally reached the point where I needed to do a wash. I loaded my clothing into a large suitcase (my twist on a laundry basket), catching my head on a large spider web decoration adorning my living room for Halloween.

I brought something to read since I was not looking to have any conversations this time. I spy someone rolling a joint, then smoking it in the laundromat. Apparently, laundromats are now like international waters, you can get away with anything in them. I made it my goal to stay as far away from this person as possible, sitting in the opposite corner. Wouldn't you know it, however, the toker approached me to ask me about fossil fuels. I continued reading as I was asked a few batty questions. Though I gave em nothing to work with, ey still got worked up enough to rant about how we'll probably die in a few years with the conclusion of the Mayan calendar. The toker then conceded that there was some hope, because there's another secret calendar that only "old people" can see that takes us until 2050. Part of me wanted to ask whether old people meant senior citizens or an older civilization like the Mayans, but I wanted to give no impression that I cared.

I sat there pondering why in a room full of people seemingly more deranged me that this crazy would choose to converse with me. As I contemplated the potential reasons, I happened to scratch my head. Drawing my hand forward, I saw that a stringy piece of cotton has snagged in my fingernail. What? I wondered. I rubbed my head further and discover that there was a ton of fake cobweb material matted into my hair, evidently resting there without my knowledge for my entire stay at the laundromat.

No wonder I attract crazies at the laundromat. I am a crazy at the laundromat.



The biggest news in my life as of late is that my car just hit 70,000 miles.

Honestly, I'm not quite sure why I care. I don't have any particular affection for my car like some people. It's a car. It transports me. It's a device that helps me accomplish a task, much like a can opener. I have no special affection for my can opener either, for that matter. (If anyone does have affection for eir can opener, let me know, I find that fascinating.) If anything, I think celebrating a feat in driving is wrong in that it is not environmentally responsible to champion pollution. Forgive me, Melissa Etheridge.

For me, the achievement itself is not as important as the round number. We mark milestones by its correspondence to powers of ten. Consequently, 70,000 is admirable for concluding with a whopping four zeroes.

I missed paying attention to my car's change to 60,000. I told myself I would be conscious of 66,666, but I somehow got distracted (probably by paying attention to the road or some shit) and suddenly found myself at 66,667. Hence, I was determined not to miss 70,000 when the time came.

On my way home from work on Monday, I got nervous. With 70,000 fast approaching, I didn't want it to happen on my commute back from work. Granted, that's when I accrue most of my miles, but I hardly wanted to celebrate this milestone in such a mundane fashion. Fortunately, I made it home with less than two miles to spare. Fortuitously, this allowed me to reach the 70,000 landmark en route to Margarita Monday. Now there's a way to celebrate.

The reason I knew it was meant to be was that the odometer changed to 70,000 miles exactly as my car entered the parking lot. The universe worked overtime to help cause that happen.

Because I know you're as excited about the event as I am, I've commemorated it with some photos:

Margarita Mondays was fun, too. It's gotten colder and our attendance has dropped to about nine of us, but it's still a good a time as ever. Since I had my camera, I took some photos of the big night.

Anna and I also engaged in this ridiculous photo shoot:

As you can see, in honor of the evening, we also had 70,000 margaritas.

Oh, Mondays. You really are the best day of the week.


Definitely Not Now

Last weekend, Anna invited me to dinner with two of her housemates. They were fun people, but also quite a handful. And immature. It's probably worth mentioning that Anna's housemates are age four and six. The idea of taking kids out to a restaurant without their parents sounded like it could get messy. Yet that was the appeal, an opportunity to remind myself exactly why I'm making no attempt to procreate currently.

When Anna picked me up, the girl was already in the back seat and was clearly painfully nervous around me; Anna claimed she had never seen her behave shyly before. After I asked her a few of the typical questions about school, however, she opened up to me. "There were ten mermaids at school today!" she said delightedly. I wasn't sure exactly what that meant, but I acted excited. Then she laughed maniacally before shrieking, "I FOOLED YOU! There was only one mermaid, not ten!" Ah, yes. Of course there was only one mermaid, how silly of me. She may have been a trickster, but she was painfully cute, too.

We then went to pick up the boy from a play date, which he declared the "best play date ever!" meaning he was all sorts of rambunctious. Enjoying the experience, Anna expressed that she couldn't wait to be a parent and asked if I felt the same way. I told her that I think I want kids someday, but "definitely not now." I began to elaborate that I could not see myself being a teacher and a parent simultaneously as I find the experience too draining, but I couldn't finish when the kids inexplicably began screaming at the top of their lungs. They admitted there was no point other than to be loud. Anna, who initially was ready for kids now, said, "Yeah... definitely not now." Then the kids started hitting each other; when Anna intervened they explained that it was okay because they were just "playing a violent game." Oh, apologies. Carry on, then. Mid-admonishment, it got quiet. We found that the boy, who was screaming less than a minute before, was now fast asleep. Golly, that must have been some play date after all.

The first restaurant we tried had far too long of a wait for hungry, antsy kids, so we made our way to a pizza joint on one of its karaoke nights. The kids had never been exposed to karaoke before, so Anna tried to explain the concept of it to them as we entered the establishment. "I don't get it," said the boy. I find that to be the most honest, accurate sentiment one could express when being introduced to karaoke, even from wise adults.

I tried to get the kids to sing with me, but they wouldn't bite. Instead, the girl wanted me to sing a song for her. When I asked if she had a request, she suggested "The ABCs." I never followed through with that... regrets, I have a few. The kids played video games, a ton of air hockey, and drew pictures. The girl was like Van Gogh, but with twice the ears. She drew me a series of pink squiggles entitled, "Cake in a Jar." I loved it, but I admit I was most jealous of Michael Michael, who joined us with Jessica at the restaurant part way through our night. The girl loved Michael Michael most of all, drawing him several pictures, my favorite being "Exploring," a big green blob which she drew without looking at the paper even once. When she handed it to Michael Michael, she also wasn't looking, and accidentally handed him a blank sheet of paper. When Michael Michael showed that the picture wasn't on it, she thought he performed the most amazing magic trick that ever occurred. It was positively adorable.

Though we had planned to going bowling afterwards as well, the night got a bit late for the kids. When Anna inquired about the kids bedtime, the girl said, "20:30." I laughed, thinking she was trying to make up some time that would never come so that she could stay up forever. Then Anna realized she was using military time and suddenly it made sense. I don't even know military time, why is a four-year-old using it? Again, positively adorable.

As it turns out, kids can be cute. Especially when you can return them to their parents at the end of the night. Still, though: definitely not now.


Foreign to Films

The last time I went to a movie theater was in the spring to see Freedom Writers. I wouldn't have wasted my time watching yet another inspirational teacher movie, except that I was able to get in free with my teacher ID, so, you know. In fact, Freedom Writers is the only movie I've seen in theaters in the past year -- and I didn't even pay to see it. Prior to that, the last movie (again, in a theater) I saw was in August, the Hollywood premiere of Snakes on a Plane, which obviously was a special occasion. I just can't be motivated to go. I have no idea what's playing, it's expensive, and I get bored.

I'm a multi-tasker: if I'm not doing several things at once, I'm dissatisfied. My high school years were spent sitting in front of a computer IM-ing with friends, doing my homework, watching television, and listening to music all at the same time. Doing all of these activities simultaneously was essential to me to keep myself interested. No one task seems exciting enough to devote my full attention to, for whatever reason.

Nowadays, I'm not sure I could handle those four at once (honestly, who watches TV and listens to music at the same time?), but I still need to have at least two activities going at once. If I'm eating, I'll be watching TV, grading, or reading at the same time. If I'm on the phone, I'll be reading, driving, doing yard work or sometimes going to the bathroom at the same time. Even when writing blog posts, I tend to be listening to music and surfing the web as well. Sometimes I even write them at school on a notebook while I circle the classroom "monitoring" my students. In fact, the only activity I am willing to devote my full attention to these days is sleeping, unless dreaming counts.

I cite my multitasking tendencies as my reason for steering clear of the theater. When I used to go to screenings as a media studies student, I'd bring a book of puzzles and sit under the emergency light so that I could have something to do in addition to watching the film. I don't have the same opportunity at traditional theaters. When I'm at the movies, I'm forced to immerse myself in something, and I'm not too keen on subjecting myself to that. It'd be okay if I could talk through it, but that's considered unacceptable behavior (except with Snakes on a Plane!), and most of my friends are there to watch, not discuss -- at least not in the moment. Inevitably, I get antsy and want something to supplement the experience, but there's no light to permit an additional activity.

Now that I get Netflix, I am watching more movies than I used to. I get to watch them my way, however, which is to say barely at all. To me, movies are a diversion, a background distraction. If it turns out a movie is good, then sure, I'll pay more attention to it and stop my other activity, but generally I'm disinterested enough to pull off multiple activities without interruption.

My weird movie-watching tendencies have become problematic lately. My friends love going to the movies, an interest I appreciate and certainly don't fault them for, it's just that I know I can't share that enjoyment in the same way. When we watch movies at home, it's fine, because I can write/type/play a game by myself while the others pay more attention than me. At the movie theater, however, I feel stranded. Each time a friend suggests going to the movies, I panic a little bit. I think about how horrible it will be if I don't like the movie and I'm stuck there for an hour and a half with nothing to amuse me, not to mention the fact that I paid about $10 for the experience. It'd be one thing if it were free, but I'm not down to pay to end up somewhat uncomfortable. I used to make excuses to my friends as to why I couldn't/shouldn't go, but now I'm starting to be honest with my friends about the reasons I'm always declining such invitations.

Admittedly, it's peculiar to stress over the idea of going to the movies, but it's my reality. It concerns me because I feel I should be able to enjoy something at face value, to just relax and watch a movie without looking for outside entertainment. On Saturday, a few friends went to the theater. I tried to get myself excited for it, but then decided I would be much happier doing my laundry and grading essays. I think that speaks to how extreme my movie-phobia has become that I would rather do two things I normally dislike. The redeeming quality was that it was in fact two things, an opportunity the movies don't generally afford me.

I've had an internal conflict about my condition since then. I want to take the plunge and see a fucking movie, for crying out loud. Tonight, some of my friends went to the movies again. I researched the film a bit and got reasonably excited about it, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I came home from work and took a nap, since I didn't want my tiredness to be an excuse. I got a call informing me that the movie we were going to see was showing too late, so it wasn't certain what movie we'd end up seeing. Again, I panicked. Some movie? We're just going to see some movie? I was ready to see the movie, but not some movie; I'm not yet ready to see a movie in those circumstances for the sake of just seeing a movie. Having that element now out of my control, I internally freaked out and declined the opportunity again. It may just be a movie, but it stressed me out, as if it were the worst idea ever. So now I'm at home, not at the movies, and Shea's trying to get me to eat his tuna and peanut butter casserole. (That's one thing I'm not going to beat myself up for being disinterested in.)

If anyone has a diagnosis or thinks they know what's wrong with me besides, you know, everything, please give me a holler. We can discuss it over dinner, a book, and just maybe a movie, too.


A Shitty Mess

After being unclogged for a couple of weeks, my toilet is clogged again. The funny thing is that we discovered it was plugged up literally thirty seconds before the previous clogger showed up at the house, which was fortunate so that the blame wasn't pointed at this same person again. (See? It really does clog all the time.) Later that night, unable to use the toilet, the former clogger made the best of a difficult situation and peed in the shower; the next morning, we discovered that our shower was clogged, too. So either the clogger has some super magical urine or our plumbing is backed up altogether at this point. It's gross.

Not as gross as the fact that certain housemates have pooped in the clogged toilet knowing it was clogged and then complaining that no one has fixed it yet. Listen: I will take my turn plunging in normal circumstances, but when you add your shit to the the mix, then that is your responsibility to clean up. If someone expects me to work around their poop in order to fix the toilet, they are sorely mistaken. This Constipated Camel (a former nickname indicating my ability to not use the bathroom for an entire day) can go without a toilet for far longer than the rest of them.

The following night, Anna, Michael Michael, Jessica, and I play a rousing game of Cranium. Perhaps arousing is a better word - Anna was doing charades trying to get me to guess the word on the card. She started out thrusting her pelvis, then grabbed her breasts. "Sex? Boobs?" I tried. She then pantomimes swallowing a pill. "Drugs? Sex, drugs, and rock and roll?" Anna shakes her head no, thrusts her pelvis again, squeezes her breasts, then squeezes my chest. I'm thoroughly confused, this game generally is not risque, and in hysterics, while Anna acts out putting a needle in her arm. "Heroin?" She violently humps the air and grabs for my body again, and we both dissolve into laughter as the time runs out. The word? Hormones. Ah, there's the connection between the sex and drugs. Having almost peed myself during that round, I excuse myself to the front yard to urinate since our toilet is clogged. Meanwhile, Anna confesses that she has managed to pee herself a little bit and runs for that unusable toilet.

"Gross!" she shouts when she discovers the first toilet is in a filthy condition. "Use the other toilet," Jessica responds. "Oh grosssss!" we hear again. "I said use the other toilet!" Jessica says again. A few more seconds pass by and Anna screams again. "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! You guys need to see this!"

We assume she's still just in the first bathroom petrified by the scene, but in truth she has attempted to travel to the other toilet, only to encounter more of a shitty mess. Unbeknownst to us game players, the house's backdoor has been closed, leaving the dogs with nowhere to relieve themselves. At the threshold of Jessica and Michael Michael's room sits a huge puddle of dog pee, which Anna managed to slosh her bare feet into it, prompting her second "Gross!" exclamation. From there, she sprints with her wet feet toward the toilet, only to step firmly into a pile of dog crap. The poop cakes to the bottom of her foot, even squishes between her toes. She tracks the poop on the carpet for a few steps before hopping to avoid spreading it further.

Jessica enters the room and finds it in disrepair, feces and urine in several places, the stench overwhelming. Anna is freaking out in the corner, hopping on one foot and gagging. Jessica puts Anna in the shower to wash off her foot and begins cleaning up the shit off her rug. Alas, Anna is too disgusted and ill to rub the poop off her foot; even with the force of the water, it is too firmly attached to come off. As Jessica uses her hand to wipe the poop off, Anna declares that she has to vomit, so Jessica grabs the trash can. Unfortunately, the trash can is now full of dog shit, so that when Anna sticks her face over it to throw up, the smell is too repulsive for her to even spew, so she has to hop to the functioning toilet where she finally discovers a clean enough environment and successfully vomits.

Meanwhile, Michael Michael and I take the dogs out to make sure they don't relieve themselves indoors any further. When we come back in, Jessica is upset that we didn't help clean up, so she jokingly sprays cleaner fluid in our direction. It gets in Michael Michael's eye, so he has to run to the sink and flush his eye out for fifteen minutes, while Anna is in the shower next to him trying to clean/compose herself, and Jessica continues to scrub the shitty mess off the floor.

As for me, I was pretty unhelpful. That was my bad. The world was falling apart in front of me and I chose to lay down rather than address it. I couldn't handle the pee, I couldn't handle the shit, I couldn't handle the vomit, and I couldn't handle the toxins in the eye. Besides, someone had to finish the Cranium game, right?

Golly, that was a sight to see.


A Reasonably Fun Time

My trip to San Francisco wasn't all drugs and hippies. On the second day of the blue grass festival, I opted out in order to visit Susan, a welcomed reprieve from the music and atmosphere that became overwhelming the previous day.

Susan picked me up from Desiree's apartment and brought me to her new place. She's living on a coastal town that's beautiful which she in part selected because of its resemblance to Cabot Cove, the fictional location of many episodes of Murder, She Wrote. Apparently, it's also recently been discovered to house at least a couple of brothels, so she'll never be short on entertainment. ("Kevin!" I can hear Susan saying as she reads this. Oops.)

The big activity for the afternoon was walking through a cornfield maze. I was excited yet apprehensive for this activity, since I have an irrational fear of mazes. I am afraid of anything that has the potential to last forever, so the idea of wandering into a maze and never finding my way out is sort of terrifying. I'm not afraid of things jumping out at me (it turned out it wasn't that kind of maze), but spending an eternity trapped in a maze, living off corn would be all sorts of hell.

It was interesting to go from the bustling activity of the city one day to the desolate windy roads of the country the next. We met up with Kim and her clan, some of whom were at the Price Is Right taping, for the big event.

The corn maze didn't seem too intimidating. Children were entering it, so I figured it could not be so difficult than children were dying in there. That's got to be a liability or at least bad for the crops. The farmer operating the maze, however, was scary. He was elderly and lecherous, expressing a romantic interest in Kim and offering her a private nighttime walk through the maze. As unfortunate as it probably was for her to give up an opportunity for a lifetime supply of pumpkins, I think she made the right choice to forego waking up every day at sunrise to a wrinkled figure in overalls. As long as the farmer would not be accompanying us in the maze, I was game to proceed. If ever we got too lost in the maze, we could plow through the corn to the perimeter for an exit, crops be damned.

We employed a system of taking a right turn at every opportunity so we could at least keep track of where we had traveled when we needed to backtrack. We walked, hit dead ends, walked, joked, walked, questioned our methods, walked, and walked some more. We hadn't seen where the exit was when we entered, so there was some concern that the corn maze (the Native Americans would call it a maize maze) might be some sort of trick. When we covered ground that we thought we might have covered again, someone suggested leaving a trail of something as a reminder. I recommended that we poop every so often so that we would have both a visual and scented clue to assist us, but this idea was not well received.

After about an hour, we finally found our escape. The exit conveniently let out to the spot where pumpkins were available for purchase, demonstrating that the creepy farmer had sales on his mind in addition to women 1/3 his age. Upon finishing, I said, "Well that was a reasonably fun time," which I fear might have offended some of our party. I modified with the word "reasonably" because it was a corn maze, for crying out loud. We walked and we got frustrated; I mean it wasn't a party. On the other hand, it wasn't a blue grass festival. Hence: reasonably fun. The fun part was a credit to the company, I promise.

Yesterday, Anna and I were driving around and were a bit lost. Anna pointed out that it's funny how in some contexts trying to find something is fun, like in a scavenger hunt, but when you're lost as to a destination, it's just stressful. It brought to mind how I felt about the cornfield. I paid to intentionally get lost in a labyrinth. Don't get me wrong, it was fun, or, you know, reasonably so, but I can't help but question what the difference between these events is. People are a peculiar species. Particularly that farmer.


Putting the Grass in Blue Grass

This is a tale of how I was kind-of-accidentally-yet-sort-of-intentionally drugged.

At pretty much the last minute on last Friday, four of us decided to travel to San Francisco for the weekend. Phoebe wanted to attend a blue grass festival and I... well I just wanted to get away and do something interesting. It's not that I don't like blue grass music, but the last time I was excited for someone playing a banjo was Kermit the Frog. I didn't go for went to be social, to have an adventure, to see Desiree who so kindly shared her home with us.

The festival attracted about 100,000 people, mostly of the hippie variety. I joked as we walked two and a half miles to the park that it wouldn't be that difficult to locate since we could just follow the stench of B.O. and weed. The truth wasn't far off, and yet it was charming all the same. These people were kindly, they shared, recycled, and rode their bikes and/or took public transportation to reach the event. This is a far more ideal society than that of their "civilized" polluting, littering, rude, selfish counterparts.

When I got a little claustrophobic in the mob, we made our way into the woods on a hill overlooking the stage. From there, we made a little spot for ourselves in the greenery and dirt; Anna and Desiree wore a boa and put on body glitter because while you should be able to do that anytime you want, it was safer since no one was going to judge them there. Our spot afforded us a nice view of the stage, as well as passersby unwilling to wait in the line for the port-a-potties who instead snuck into the trees to urinate. One person peed for what seemed like the duration of an entire song directly in front of us, concealing this activity from everyone, yet still sharing it with us. After a minute passed, Anna exclaimed, "It's magical!" I'm pretty sure she was referencing the body glitter, but it was equally as appropriate for the perseverance of the tinkle.

Also by the woods, we happened upon a pair of friendly, entrepreneurial hippies. Beware of friendly hippies, as they are all about peace, love, and drugging you. We decided to stimulate the local economy by buying their homemade baked goods for cheap and found them to be more than what we bargained for.

Now, I don't want to portray myself as naive. Given the source of the brownies, without officially knowing that they included a special ingredient, we knew to expect a certain special ingredient. I went to a liberal liberal (repetition intentional) arts college, so I'm familiar with marijuana. I've had friends who love the substance, though I've never been a fan myself. That said, whereas in high school I was totally judgmental of pot, I now recognize that it is a pretty harmless diversion for some that is less addictive and dangerous than alcohol. For this reason, I'd support its legalization, though I would not personally be a frequent consumer.

As some of my friends gobbled down their brownies, I took one whiff of mine, felt sick to my stomach, then put it away uneaten in my backpack. Our group traveled from the woods and found the tiniest plot of land a good distance from the stage. We pretty much crammed ourselves in a non-existent area between other groups' blankets. No one said anything, of course, because they're friendly hippies and, you know, this land is your land - this land is our land. I ate some peanut butter and crackers then, noticing my friends didn't seem high, slathered some peanut butter on my brownie as well, taking a couple of bites found it gross and decided I did not want to partake.

The scent of marijuana was strong throughout the field; people were openly smoking as they listened to the music. Phoebe made a comment about how there was "Too much pot for babies," then curled into a ball and became incommunicative. Soon after, Michael Michael was giggling a lot. Glad I wasn't in that mindset, I maintained a normal, sober, intelligent conversation with Desiree for at least another hour. Feeling tired, I then laid down and closed my eyes for five, ten minutes tops.

When I got up, the world felt different. Half the time I felt normal, while half the time I felt funny. It came in waves and alternated about every ten seconds. I tried to resume my conversation with Desiree, but found it unsuccessful. As Desiree would later tell me, she thought she was the one having the difficulty understanding since I had exhibited no prior signs of being anything but coherent. When other concert-goers began encroaching on our plot of land, Desiree said, "I think we're losing space." I was excited , "I was just thinking the same thing." Then realizing what she meant, I added, "Wait, I meant on a metaphysical level." I had been lost in thought about the world and the concept of space altogether, clearly I wasn't high, I was being far too profound.

It's funny how I was in denial with myself about my situation. I was just tired. I only had a couple of nibbles, I couldn't possibly be stoned. Maybe I was just a little sick. Then I was convinced Desiree was messing with me. The reason I couldn't understand her was her fault. I confronted her, "Are you saying real words?" Her response was so genuinely confounded that I knew she wasn't merely tricking me. A few minutes later I had to ask whether I was even talking at all. I couldn't discern between the thoughts in my head and the words I spoke aloud. At that point, I had to acknowledge that I was not in a sober state of mind.

I felt bad, because now there was no sober company for Desiree, which I had been happy to be previously, but there was really nothing I could do. Cold, tired, and unable to hold a coherent conversation, Desiree went home. Meanwhile, Anna, who had been watching music at another stage, called to get our location to meet up with us. I was pretty much useless, however, in communicating anything with her and vice versa. She asked me to text directions which was one of the most difficult tasks of my life. Then I got a couple of more texts asking me to please send the text so that she could find us. I was frustrated since I had been sending them, but as I later discovered, I had been sending them to the wrong number altogether. Finally, I called her again, but Anna couldn't hear me over the music. I tried shouting the nearest landmark -- a kettle corn stand. "Kettle corn," I said. "Kettle corn. Kettle corn." Details beyond that were impossible to articulate. Anna still said she couldn't hear me, so I screamed louder. "KETTLE CORN! KETTLE CORN! KETTLE CORN!" At about my eleventh shouting of this, I recognized that I was screaming over the sweet sound of blue grass and was probably disrupting the experience for the others.

Eventually, Anna found us, I'm still not quite sure how, but things remained difficult. Phoebe was still bent into awkward postures clearly having a bad time. Michael Michael thought the other people were talking about us, which I'm not sure whether is true or not. I'm sure we were a sight to see, but a lot of them were wasted in some manner, too. I really wanted to not be in that moment anymore so I told my friends I wanted to "be below sleep - I want to be unconscience." Michael Michael, paranoid about the world, freaked out that it was some sort of suicidal wish, but I couldn't really tell you what it meant. Simultaneously, I was freaking out about the fact that I said "unconscience" instead of "unconscious" and believing this to be my worse sin while on drugs yet, tried to amend my statement. "Unconscience," I said trying to correct myself, only saying it wrongly again. "Unconscience. No! Unconscience!" I probably said it six or seven times incorrectly while desperately trying to say it correctly, each time only frustrating me more. Anna laughed at me. I still wanted to be unconscious.

The music was pretty secondary, perhaps tertiary to the experience. Most of the time I couldn't tell you what was going on on stage. I neither came to see it nor could pay attention to it anyway. I do know that the giant tree above the stage looked just like a piece of broccoli and I occasionally imagined eating off its head. Finally, I calmed down and played cards with Anna, which Michael Michael was in awe of since he could do almost nothing functional. Everything went swell until I felt a sharp pain in my butt, which prompted me to stand up and scream "Owwww! MY BUTT!" When I couldn't offer an immediate explanation, Anna was convinced I shat myself and was starting to figure out how we would deal with me having pooped in my pants amidst tens of thousands of people. But I hadn't pooped my pants, I merely suddenly felt like I was sitting on a root or something large and uncomfortable. After standing up, however, I saw that there was nothing. I then tried to rub the ground with my hand to show that there was some non-existent thing protruding that caused the incident, but my friends didn't buy my Princess and the Pea scenario, nor should they have.

Walking home was a bit terrifying. My waves of comprehensibility started outweighing the incomprehensible ones, but it was still scary and I didn't want to feel that way anymore. On our long trek home, we stopped at a thai restaurant to rest and eat. Although it was nearly full, no one in the restaurant was talking which was creepy for us in our conditions, we were hoping to be unassuming. That didn't really happen, unfortunately, no thanks to Phoebe passing out against the wall.

Desiree took us out later at night to meet up with her friend at some trendy bar. It was pretty embarrassing because her friend was super nice, but all of us were zombies to the world. Anna was done with people and danced by herself in a corner. Michael Michael attempted conversation with Desiree and friend, but could never manage more than a couple of words. I probably appeared comatose, or Bernie in a real life adaptation of Weekend at Bernie's. I could not keep my eyes open or say anything, at one point going "unconscience." Even when a dramatic bar brawl broke out about five feet from me, I could barely open my eyes enough to peek at the events.

As we stumbled home, the one thing we could agree upon was that whatever was in the brownies was not marijuana. Or at least not just marijuana. Those drugs royally messed with us. There's no lasting effects, thankfully, but I've learned a lesson in knowing what I'm consuming for my own well being. Damn hippies.

P.S. It was also sort of fun.



Disciplinary issues are still a point of contention in my classroom. I thought I had seen it all last year, but this year there's a whole new crop of problems. One new issue is that a few of my students can't help but dance. It looks to be some new strain of ADHD: these kids are physically incapabale of sitting still and will be doing dance move from their seats, or in some cases, get out of their seats to do the dance moves, right in the middle of a lesson. Interestingly, this handful of dancing students are exclusively male. At this point in time, it's cool for teenage boys to perform choreographed routines to impress others with their moves. I find it cool as well, just not during instructional time. I feel as though things have reached new levels of absurdity when I find my most frequent reprimand to be "Stop dancing and work!" It's as though I'm the un-hip authoritarian in Footloose. To counteract some of the impromptu dance moves in my jiggiest class, I've actually agreed to learn a couple of steps from their favorite dance at the end of each day that they have behaved. I like to dance, but I can't follow steps for the life of me, so it ends up being fairly embarrassing, but I recognize that's kind of the point for these kids and I'm willing to make that trade off.

As I was explaining this strange scenario to one of my coworkers, this teacher told me about eir student who constantly acts like a robot. Apparently, this kid speaks using a cyber voice, employs jerky arm movements, and randomly beeps. Furthermore, Robo-kid is always in character, even when the other students yell at em to stop and get a life. Clearly, Robo-kid either has major guts or perhaps has been hardwired to be a facsimile of a human with such qualities. At first, the teacher found it amusing, then annoying as the joke wore thin, and now just normal since it happens all the time. According to the teacher, it's become so routine that it's hardly disruptive anymore. The only problem was when the principal came to evaluate the teacher and included a note in the formal write-up about not allowing students to "behave like robots." Try explaining that one.

At least my kids aren't that eccentric. They're too concerned with their image to portray themselves as cyborgs. The only robot I imagine I'll be seeing in my classroom is the dance move.


America the Ignorant

As much as everyone rags on Miss South Carolina, I must concur with eir belief that U.S. Americans are worse off for not having maps after a couple of experiences of my own.

Today's incident, however, takes the cake:

Student: "Mr. [Kevin], do we live in North America?"
Me: (befuddled that this is even a question) "What?!"
Student: (taking my shock to be a "no" and turning to a friend) "See, I told you we're from South America."

Holy, holy crap. Come to think of it, I'm not sure whether a map would even help someone at this level of global knowledge. Students like this one might still think the world is flat, if they even took the time to consider its shape at all. If I don't send my kids to private school, it's because I don't love them.


The Sound and the Jury

What do you call someone who serves on a jury?

If your name is Anna, you might say a "jury duty server." If you're anyone else, however, the answer is "juror." Say it aloud, but don't go out of your way to enunciate. Juror. Juror. Jrurr. Jurrrrr. The quicker and more frequently you say it, the more absurd it sounds. Plus, it's guaranteed to make Michael Michael and I giggle, because when you get someone to say "juror" aloud, ey look like an idiot. Sucker.

For a while, this word has been an inside joke of sorts. Like any inside joke, however, it takes a different amusing path when it somehow hits the mainstream or pop culture. Sort of like when we found out that lots of people used Laura's famous "poop on a stick" comment, though in an entirely different context.

I started watching some of the first season of 30 Rock on DVD these past couple weeks and was positively delighted by these clips:

Adding "rural" to "juror" is a brilliant, brilliant move. Rural juror -- I can't stop saying it. Or, hell, I can't stop trying to say it anyway. You try saying it five times fast.

Rural Juror is the new Toy Boat.



Assistant Principal: I love your belt.
Teacher: Thank you, it's [insert forgotten designer name]. I like it because on one side it's black and on the other side it's brown, so you can flip it over to match your outfit.
Assistant Principal: Oh neat...
Kevin: Hey, my belt's like that, too!
At this point, I look down to show off my belt, only to discover it is not around my waist as expected.
Kevin: I could have sworn...
Assistant Principal: Mr. [Kevin], I don't even want to know.
Kevin: Maybe I...
Assistant Principal: Again, I don't even want to know.

I still could swear I was wearing a belt that day.


Shark Attack

Here's a conversation from college that has been saved on my computer for more than a year and a half and has never been deemed funny enough to make it to the blog. The more time passes, the more I realize I should just delete it. Except, I can't. So in the interest of purging it, I share it here and bid it farewell.

P: M told me not to check my bag unless I absolutely had to, because they might lose it and then I'd be that guy who has to keep wearing the same clothes every day. But I was like, whatever, man, I always check my bag, and I did, and you know what happened?
A: (with all of the fake interest one could muster for an obvious rhetorical question) What?!
P: (realizing ey needs to switch it up) I was attacked by sharks! Right there in the airport.
J: Seriously, that's, like, my biggest fear.
**more laughter**
J: What's funny? I really am scared of that.
**further laughter**
J: What? They always lose people's bags.
K: See, I thought we were still talking about shark attacks in the airport.

Maybe you had to be there...


That Is Not the Truth

Now that I teach language learners, I feel a little guilty for having a fondness for Engrish. The best rationale I can offer is that mistakes in the English language are much cuter and more genuine when made by a non-native speaker. The fact that the use of English, even when used incorrectly, has become "trendy" in some cultures is additionally amusing to me.

I have a Vietnamese student who is a good student, but writes with awkward syntax and is often clearly confused, bless eir heart. For example, when I distributed a survey at the beginning of the year, the student's response to "What celebrity do you despise?" was "Christmas." On this same student's binder, the student has written the phrase "freinds 4eva" featuring pictures of eirself and only eirself. It's cute, really.

This language learning class is comprised mostly of students of Mexican descent who largely ignore the two Asian kids, except when there is a chance to make fun of them. When one of the Asian students makes a grammatical error, you'd think my Mexican students must be English scholars the way they criticize their peers, never mind that their dumb asses make errors at least as frequently. They also pick on the Asians students just to get a rise. One student loudly exclaimed that the Vietnamese student had a crush on the slobbish, drug-abusing Mexican student, an obvious mismatch. My Vietnamese student immediately became cross. "That is not the truth! That is not the truth!" The student's dismissal struck me as odd since most kids in America would say something like "That's a lie!" or "Not true!" "That is not the truth" seemed extremely formal. And familiar. And then it occurred to me where I encountered such a phrase before -- printed on this Japanese shirt:

What does this mean exactly? Putting aside the obvious errors, why would anyone want to wear that message anyway? And just what does the teddy bear signify? Peopie is one letter away from People, but also Poopie, which might muddy the interpretation further. I get the haunting feeling that this apparel was made by some patriarchal system to discourage women from accusing their rapists when they must have secretly wanted it all along. Then it was mass produced and the euthanasia (youth in Asia) bought it since it featured English words and a cute teddy bear.

Teeheehee. That is why Engrish is awesome. And that - that is the truth.


I Will Always Love You

During my graduate program for education, my peers and I would discuss our own educational backgrounds as a point of reference. My classmate with the most colorful background, Herman*, would often discuss eir background as a drug addict who dealt and used in eir school with no consequences. According to Herman, the worst teacher ey ever had was an English teacher who never cracked a book, instead putting on The Bodyguard every single class and proceeding to take a nap on eir desk, while the students openly snorted coke and took meth in the classroom. Initially Herman took part in these activities, but when ey finally decided ey needed to clean eir act up, Herman actually had to drop out of school in order to avoid contact with illegal substances.

Now more than a decade later, Herman is now a teacher emself in a school equally as notorious for drug use and teachers who don't give a crap. Herman does give a crap, and tries a heck of a lot harder than showing The Bodyguard in order to educate the students. Oh, and Herman's sober now, too, though ey still does feel high each time ey hears Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You."