Monday, June 27, 2016

Jenners "Teaches"

Poor student teacher, unaffectionately named Bruce "You don't know how to say Genre correctly" Jenners has to work towards planning and then, (sharp inhale) execute an actual lesson in front of real live students.

It was time to begin lesson planning.  We were studying The Crucible, so naturally, that seemed a good place to start.  Let the record state that he had not read it.  How is that possible, you may ask?  And my answer is: who the hell knows?

I hand him a copy (since he didn't have the good sense to get a copy himself or even ask me for one) and suggest he finish reading it as soon as he can, so he can actively participate in class discussions, and can then (theoretically) take a portion to teach.

You would have thought I handed him ancient Greek texts to translate.

"Um, Mrs. I'm not sure how I will be able to do this with my schedule..." and then he rattles off classes, other obligations, and other shit.  I've stopped listening because I'm thinking of all the things I could be doing right now instead of this.  Clearly, the honeymoon phase is waring thin.

"Well, this is real life.  Suck it up." And I give him a soft scuff on his shoulder.

The robot-boy was not amused.

Jenners then awkwardly goes back to his sanctioned side of the room to actually read the play. At this point I need to mention that he has a specific way of walking where he rolls on balls of his feet so he almost does a sort of bob up-and-down.  Add hands in his pockets for the most accurate image--if you dare.

Days pass, and he's still in his corner reading.  Mind you--the play is under two hours.  But it's time for him to actually teach!  Yikes.  We hold the perhaps the most awkward conversation about what he could teach the students--since he has NO IDEA what this job really means--and come up with some ideas.  He's to have an engaging opener, that will lead into the bulk of the lesson--in this case the play and what's happening, and then move into the written piece, which I'd already prepared.

You would have thought he was delivering the State of the Union address to defend his mother f-ing life.

Jenners was on that Mac just typing his little fingers away.

But I thought he was poor!  

Me too!

Anyway, I'm still teaching the shit out of The Crucible.  Days later, he finally submits something that on some planet could resemble a lesson plan but without any logic or reason or purpose.  Now, this is not something I've encountered.  I have dealt with details left out, with activities in an illogical order, with transitions lacking.  But this?  This was another beast.

"Warm up:  Think about a time you had no idea what was happening.  (1 minute)"

I'm having that moment right now.

"Engagement: Then have students read in groups for thirty minutes and answer the questions.  Then they write about what they've read."

That's it.

I wish I was kidding.  What the hell was he doing back there all those hours?  This?

So, a thousand email exchanges later, it's time.  He has to stand in front of the children to teach something.  One would have hoped with such scaffolding from his professors and from me--the actual teacher, he would have made necessary improvements.

No.  That did not happen.

Jenners arrived early.  Three HOURS early.

He wore his little costume neatly pressed which almost made matters worse.  Picture a short male, perhaps 5 foot 3 inches wearing a suit and tie, with shiny black loafers, his black hair plastered down with gel,  and then a huge ass back-pack walking his special way--sort of rolling onto the balls of his feet--so he's bobbing down the hall.

This is Jenners.

It's one thing for the kids to witness him in the room making his little bird faces at them, but it's an entirely different scenario when he's the authority.

Cancer? Maybe. Pregnant? Yep.

Being a woman of a certain age, never having a pregnancy scare (thank you, Baby Jesus) and using birth control for what seems like decades, I was anxious about my ability to conceive. The hubs and I were on no schedule, but I had serious doubts. So, we agreed to lay off the bc and just see what happened. As a planner, I immediately began prenatal vitamins--go Girl Scouts! Wait—Girl Scouts doesn’t prepare you to get pregnant, just to be prepared. Ok, now that’s out of the way…

After a few months of being sans pill, I scheduled an appointment to begin the discussion of fertility at the gyno office. I’d done some “research” on what to expect by asking my friends, co-workers, and the pregnant teen working the HEB check-out. The internet provided more details than I cared about or understood. But ultimately I felt prepared about the way the discussions would go.

“Yes, irregular periods, etc. “

So, when the kind but random nurse practioner asked if I’d ever had these nodules on my throat checked, my stomach dropped.

“What nodules?”

And that’s when she dropped the c-word. Cancer. It could be thyroid cancer, but then she quickly added it was a very “treatable cancer.”


She said words. I have no idea what they were. At some point someone asked if I’d had a pregnancy test, to which I retorted: “Of course not. That’s why I’m here. I can’t get pregnant!” They still poked me and took a blood test. There was talking… I was to see some other doctor about how my body had betrayed me and made cancer. I made another appointment about baby-making, was told that if there were any major issues on my blood test they’d call and then left. Totally mf’ing shocked. This was why I hated going to the doctor. You go in for help, and you leave with cancer.

The next day I went through the teaching routine of kids, jokes, Englishy-stuff, and all the while, I think: I might have cancer, I’m a statistic, I’m going to lose my hair. Shit. And then I get a phone call from the gyno’s office that I should I call and ask to speak to someone “regarding my blood test.” That’s when you know shit ain’t good. Everyone knows that you get bad news from a humanoid, good news from an automated machine or some dashboard of numbers with your name at the top.

Naturally, with only five minutes between classes, I desperately attempted to seclude myself and call, got their voicemail and left a thoughtless message. I somehow made it through the next class and then locked myself in my room to try it again. I flipped through my phone for the office’s number, accidentally called a random relative by mistake, took a deep breath to get my shit together and dialed again.

“Oh, yes, we’re so glad you called. Let me connect you to someone immediately.”


“Yes, looking at your numbers ma’am, you are pregnant. Very pregnant.”

Wait. Whaaaaa...?

At the follow-up appointment the next day, the hubs and I had our first sonogram appointment where we heard a heartbeat. It was fucking amazing. We were also told I was quite far along—as in eleven weeks. I’d been pregnant for eleven weeks totally doubting my ability to even get pregnant. I remembered all my judgment bestowed upon the “Sixteen and Pregnant” girls who didn’t know they had a human life growing inside themselves. What idiots!


Yes, I’d been easily annoyed and unbelievably tired all the time. Huh. But that’s how you often feel as a high school English teacher.  And, yes, actually I had been nauseous in the morning. Huh. But I thought it was because of these spinach and banana shakes I’d been forcing down. And yes, my pants had been a little tighter. Huh.  But I’d also been eating a lot of cheese.

So, that’s the story.

I successfully completed tests concerning the nodules and cysts in my throat, but the annual checks done by my bad-ass endocrinologist confirm they are not a threat. Cancer? Nope.

Oh, and twenty-nine weeks later, I had my healthy and happy baby. Baby? Yep!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Brony Love

I want to take a brief moment to discuss just how weird some of my students are.

One of my senior varsity football players also happens to be a Brony.

What's a Brony?

That would be a male who openly watches and enjoys the most modern CARTOON of "My Little Pony." Yes, you remember the show from the 1980's, but there's a new version with similar pony characters, but they have the new anime-giant-eyes thing happening.

There are conventions, apparently, where these folks meet and discuss ... something about the shows. What exactly this entails is beyond even my imagination.

As far as the class project went, this student made considerable effort of integrating this kiddie cartoon as a legitimate and worthy source of media. He was making Hamlet references for Christ's sake.
None of these people are actually students of mine, but you get the picture.

So, what makes a kid a Brony? I have no fucking idea.

However, I would also like to point out that one day this same kid left to use the restroom (with permission, of course) and came back with a large, clear plastic bag filled with kale. I really only happened to notice because he was munching away on it as he returned. 

Me: "Brony, what the hell are you eating?"

Brony: "Kale!" Munch, munch, munch.

Me: ?

Brony: "Don't worry. I just bought it. I'm going to make a kale dip when I get home."

Apparently our culinary students were selling food items that hadn't been used as ingredients during the lunch service, and my kid happened upon them in the hall. For one dollar, Brony got a big bag of crunchy, raw kale. 

What happened to good old fashioned drug deals? 

Damn hippie kids. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nesting is Going to get me Thrown Out of the Tree

Once again I've found myself in the not-uncommon occasion of doing something I absolutely abhor; this time it's moving.

It's stressful.

It's expensive.

It's basically a pain in the ass.

However the hubs really wanted to "change it up" and leave the past behind--only about five or six miles behind--but he thrives when completing projects or serving a purpose.  He is his best when there's a set of tasks before him and a due date for completion.  In this scenario he gave it to himself.  While the "old" place's amenities were indeed  aging, and the rent was increasing, there wasn't anything categorically terrible.

It was our first place together as a couple.  Then we enlarged our little family by adopting our dog.  We got engaged and then married in this apartment. (Well, I mean, not IN the apartment.  Jesus, that would be depressing and totally bizarre.) After time, clearly this became home.  Especially because--and this is the important part--I'm a nester.  That's right. I've pretty much always needed or craved my own space and desired to make that a unique and special place for me.  I like to make sure my little area of the world in which I lay-me-down-to-sleep, is ideal for me.  I like painted walls.  I like pictures of loved ones, and places we've traveled thoughtfully placed around the vicinity.  I love various flowers and plants to bring life both indoors and out. And after five years of living in this home, I had a pretty fucking amazing nest.

We'd accrued some fancy (and by that I mean, matching!) kitchen ware, two nice (also matching) sofas with complimentary pillows to the wall colors, and a whole patio of plant friends.

This might have something to do with control--needing to assert it or maintain it, but it manifests in a weird way where my home has to be perfect.  Whatever.  It doesn't hurt anybody, so I'm going with the innocuous term, nester.

So, with lead in my heels, I agreed to look around for something different.  Needless to say I was one picky bitch.  Deal breaker?  Small closet space.  I'm out!

Naturally we eventually find something nicer than what we've had.  But here's the deal--NO patio, NO garage, and a bit smaller. But I'm totally sold on the granite countertops, the fancy island, two outdoor pool options, two huge gyms with all the newest equipment and a place that has never even been lived in.

Then comes the moving part.  I'll skip this since most people have moved, and most people, like me, hate it.  So why would you want to read about it?

Ok, we've moved in.  I'm emotionally battered and physically bruised, but no matter.  I've already painted the living room and the office/ study so I'm feeling pretty good. We didn't sell as many items as planned, but no matter.  Surely we'll get our deposit from what I am now referring to as "that old dump."

But now, we have two bathrooms.  Hoo-ray!  I love the hubs, but let's face it.  Every woman needs her space.  Now that means we need some new items.  I begin small.  I tell you.  I go with our biggest needs.  There HAS to be a shower curtain.  And there should be a rug, but then one rug looked funny.  So, I bought another.  And then the matching bathroom accessories were on sale, so... you know where I'm going with this.

I also blame the summer.  This all occurred when I had way too much free time to judge, ponder and then act without consulting the budget-Nazi.  This also might have been on purpose.

I changed lamp shades, bought entirely new lamps, towels, and more bathroom items.

Currently, I've got my eye on a new rug for the kitchen.  The one I like is in the three-digit range.  That's two digits too many as far as he's concerned.  Better yet, why get a rug?  The heathen!

While this search continues, I'm also working on two new side tables that I keep mistakenly refer to as console tables.  So, when the kind lady at the fancy furniture store that I pretend I don't know asks what I'm looking for, I tell her "two matching console tables" I have to quickly edit my mistake out loud--not unlike an autistic person--and explain that, yes, I am a dumbass, and no she will not be receiving a giant commission.  One--because I'm never going to be able to afford anything for this store and two--because I meant side tables, not giant ass coffee tables.  They should just all call them coffee tables, btw.

Needless to say, the hubs will reconsider our next move.  Of that, I can be sure

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Student Teacher: Mr. Blindspot, aka, Bruce "Literary" Jenners.

My student teaching experience was not unlike most other folks.  I had a wonderfully talented, funny, and inspirational cooperating teacher named Mr. Blankenburg, whom I still consider, after thirteen years of teaching, to be a dear friend.

It was scary at first.  I remember.  But I also worked my ass off to make sure I knew what the hell I was talking about while keeping my target audience in mind--namely to keep them awake and not humping each other during group activities. I wrote down everything Mr. B did in class during those observations.  I stayed up late perfecting my lesson, memorizing names, and practicing my emerging teacher-face, now perfected with the Mom-stank-eye when the kids get on my last nerve.

These fond memories inspired me to, years later, embark upon the similar journey of mentoring potential future educators.  So, for many seasons now, I've agreed to host college students from around the area to observe my classroom and my teaching.  I've encountered quite a few teachers-in-the-making, with their eager and nervous smiles.

All of them, I feel fairly confident in saying, found their way in the world--most as current teachers.  All of them had potential to do something in this world.  All of them could communicate thoughtfully and effectively.  All of them except for my current student teacher.

I shall dub him Simon.

Simon arrived to our first meeting over 40 minutes late.  He was small, sweaty and strange. It was one of those moments, like on a first date, where you think to yourself: well, this is gonna suck.

I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt; however, more time spent together only strengthened my case.  He came over six times late.  That's six times too many, homey.  Naturally each time he'd arrive late, he'd interrupt my teaching, a few kids got distracted, and he'd creep over to the other side of the room, waiting expectedly for me to come over to him and summarize everything he'd missed.  When I finally confronted him on it, Simon became Simon, the Martyr.  That other apostle no one wants to talk about because he was just that fucking annoying.

He couldn't afford a car, because he couldn't afford college, because his parents were poor, because who knows.  He had to ride his bike--in the rain--up hill--both ways--and then the chain broke--and then someone almost ran him over--and then, and then, and then I want to scream and go all Wolverine on him in the head.  We have our various crosses to bear and at this point, it's not professional to announce them prior to having any type of relationship.

Well, that confrontation backfired on me, because the next time he showed up early.   Two hours early.  Two additional hours with Simon, the Martyr. Since this was my planning period which meant no students to interrupt him, Simon took it upon himself to begin the world's most awkward interview.  Each question would begin the exact-same-way.

Simon: "Um, Mrs. -I have a question."

Me: Stopping what I'm doing and turning to him. "Sure, Simon.  What's up?"

Simon: Without any noticeable expression.  "Um, so.  Um.  How do you, like know, like what to teach?"

Me: Blink. Blink.  "Do you mean what texts I teach? Or what lexicon level of texts? Or skills?"

Simon: "Yes."

So, then I'm thinking that perhaps this college isn't quite up to par in their preparatory courses anymore, and instead introduce all the different ways the English department creates the scope and sequence for the year including all the TEKS skills, district course guides, etc. Meanwhile Simon simply sits there looking around me--not at me. After I finish, hand him several more handouts with information about our courses, he begins again.

Simon:  "Um, Mrs. -I have a question."

Me: Thinking this would be a follow up question related to what I've just spent the last seven minutes discussing. "Go for it."

Simon: "Did you buy a class ring from your college?"

Me: WTF? Take a deep breath. "Um, no."

Simon: "Um, Mrs. -I have a question..."

Me: Warily.  "Ok."

Simon:  "How do you work with students who don't care?"

Me: Thrown yet again by the drastic change in subject manner and complexity of the real answer. 

... Twenty or so minutes pass in this way while parts of my soul have just died. 

And this now concludes the Q and A part of our session.

Each "interview" is the same completely random and disconnected set of questions with the same introduction.  "Um, I have a question...." Well, no shit.  We're not friends, and you certainly don't know what you're doing. Just ask it!

Days pass and poor Simon is still fiddling with paperwork, or looking through all the documents I've given.  And then, one day, Simon is just sitting.  Nada.  Then he's--dare, I say it?--on his phone and ostensibly texting.  This is while I'm leading the class through an analysis of an excerpt from Meria Edgeworth's novel, Belinda, in my senior AP class.  Texting.  Really?

Am I boring you?

It's an insult from a self-centered and immature teenager, but somewhat understandable. However from a senior in college preparing to actually be a teacher, who's entire job at this point is to OBSERVE, it's something else.  Again, I want to Wolverine your face.

Yes, I just made "Wolverine" a verb.

So, I get all teachery on his ass, and suggest he move around the room to help with students'  questions on a writing exercise.  I return to my podium in the front where students have been coming up to ask for individual help.  Kids are visiting with me a few at a time.  I briefly scan the room.

Students working? Check.
Simon walking around the room? No--hmm.
Simon in his corner?  No.  Uh-oh. 

I do another quick scan and nearly have a heart attack because it's then I realize Simon has been standing in my blindspot for some time now, with his hands in his pockets.  Just standing.  In the front of the room, in the left corner, not doing anything.

The nickname Captain Blindspot was born that day.

Then it came time for Blindspot to begin his lesson planning to then actually deliver a lesson to one of my poor classes. The questions were relentless.

Blindspot: "Um, Mrs. -I have a question..."

Me: Yeah, I bet you do.

With his rigid schedule (he mysteriously can only be available Wednesdays and Fridays) the best viable option for him was to lead a lesson in my elective course--Literary Genres.  Selfishly, I'm also aware that he can do the least amount of damage to an elective course where I can literally make things up as I please.  The kids are fantastic and the focus is by my design.  I thought this would be an amazing opportunity to craft a lesson using pretty much any medium with the only stipulation that the focus be in the adventure genre and there's some planned analysis.

When I describe this rare gem in one's teaching career to Blindspot, he does not share my enthusiasm.

Blindspot: "Um, Mrs. -I have a question."

Me: Here we go. "Yep."

Blindspot:  "I don't know what you do in this literary genres class."

And now think to yourselves how to say the word "genre."

I bet it was not "jenners" which is how he pronounces it.  "Jenners" as in Bruce Jenners.

This is a mistake I would absolutely allow for a middle school student to make.  This is something I might hear from a high school student.  But for a senior in college who majored in English, and plans to be an ENGLISH TEACHER?

Houston, we've got a [yet another] problem.

And mind you, he's now been observing this class for three weeks with every piece of syllabus and class material the students have also been given.

Bruce "Literary" Jenners has emerged.

He has two weeks to prepare a lesson for Literary Genres. I've never been asked more questions in my life.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Books of 2013

The following titles are novels that I've read (or reread) this year in order from January to... (why am I writing this part?).  I tried to be brief because sometimes I just want to know the gist of something--give me the seed of the story, whether it's worth the time, and then shut up.  So, that's what I've done, with some anecdotal information because it's my blog.  

The Hobbit by Tolkien
     There's not much more to say about this stunning story that hasn't already been written, so although this was my first choice for the new year, I won't even attempt to be clever or creative, but rest assured, if you haven't read this and are contemplating it, stop reading this and pick up one of the best stories written, grab some hot tea (how very British of you!), and get to reading.  Sweet but not sappy, inventive and absolutely addictive.

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
    So, I teach the hell out of some Shakespearean tragedy, but it's important to include his comedy as well.  While he's got some famous ones, I prefer Twelfth Night to do the job.  There's a line in there where Viola (dressed as the young man, Cesario) is cryptically telling the man she secretly loves that the only female in her family (referring to herself) could never speak her love, but sat "like Patience on a monument, smiling at grief."  That always gets me.  The whole plays is about mistaken identity and reinforces the idea that unless we are brutally honest with ourselves, we may never even know what we want anyway.  To the right is the promotional image for the film because there aren't any interesting covers for the actual play.  The movie is fun too!

Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling:
     I really, really, really wanted to like this book.  However, in the end, I didn't.  Here's the deal: I knew there was no Harry in this.  I knew there was no magic, or Hogwarts, but come on... just a little nod to something of the genre.  Just a knowing, wink-wink, would have been appreciated.  Oh, and for those of us who loved the emotional and physical adventure of Harry and Company, be prepared to be absolutely underwhelmed by the lack of both.  Tear, whimper.  It's an ostensibly realistic portrayal of a town with the old money and then those "on the other side" where characters from both sides are monsters.  It's a little dark, definitely depressing, but certainly well written.  I'll admit that Rowling's facility with language was a surprise; I'd pegged her as brilliantly creative, but left it at that.  This novel lets her flex those linguistic skills.  I just didn't like the story!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
     What a page turner, and much needed after the bore fest of my previous choice.  This one was chosen by our book club and was a perfect escapist novel filled with interesting narrators and some wild plot twists.  You have two narrators--one the husband, and one the wife--and as the reader, you're torn on more than one occasion as to which one you trust or even like.  I got into the style of the novel as well--it wasn't a bubble gum beach read by any means, but I didn't feel like I had to work too hard either.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
   To be fair, this is another one that I'm using with my juniors, but as an English teacher, I invariably need to reread it.  At times this can be taxing, but my-oh-my how I adore this little novel, ahem, novella.  The story of an unlikely friendship between two men, Lennie and George, trying to make their American Dream become a reality. And the film with the fantastic John Malkovich and Garry Sinise is really wonderful as well; I cry every time.  (This past semester I didn't really "prepare" before reading the last chapter aloud to them and I totally couldn't get my shit together.  Another sweet kid took over for me.) I love this particular cover.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
     This is an outside reading option for a large research paper my AP seniors will be using basically as one of their sources, but all that doesn't seem to matter.  You will fall so deeply and completely into the dark world of Celie--you love her and want to fight for her.  Even when she's an adult, you still see her sometimes as this helpless child whose innocence was stolen from her--whose life was stolen.  You celebrate her evolution as a character through her diary entries which are also her prayers to God, whom she at times denies, and for good reason.  This is both a heartbreaking and heartwarming novel.  Pulitzer--duh?!  National Book Award, of course!  Now I get it.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
     Yet again, I'm cheating a bit in that I've read this one, but it was worth the reread.  Each time another chapter speaks to me in a way I hadn't expected.  It's a collection of war stories told by Tim O'Brien--who was in the Vietnam War.  Except this is fiction.  Why?  Because sometimes you have to lie to tell the truth.  This is infuriating for a seventeen-year-old, but fodder for valuable class discussion.  It's raw, complicated, beautiful, and terrible.  It's humanity.  I was enthralled from the first stories and then overwhelmed later as you get to more "truths" or explanations revealed in later chapters which at times contradict details earlier forcing you to ask those important questions, like does it even matter?  I think my juniors got a lot out of it--some simply because they could read a book with cussing, but be that as it may, it reaches all the kids in some manner.

Wild: From Lost to Found On the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

   This one has been on lots of book club lists (including my friend, Oprah), and that's exactly how I was inspired to read this one--my book club.  It's a memoir about a young woman who takes a year off from regular life to hike the rigorous Pacific Crest Trail because she is lost emotionally (and at times physically), yet by the end becomes... you guessed it, found!  There were some sections in the reading which were extremely compelling including the portions with her dealing with the recent death of her mother and clearly coping with all the complications that a mother's death can create.  It was heart wrenching stuff, but the low-middle class kid came out and started to get annoyed with all her self-induced, bullshit drama.  I felt like yelling at her to "suck it up.  Get a real job. Stop using so many drugs and stop fucking around."  But some people need  a long trail and a year off to figure it out.  Either way, it's well written, but if you've had enough with the Eat, Pray, Love entitled, white woman drama, then this isn't for you.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James (Trilogy)
     Alright, alright.  I know. But I had to find out what all the hub-bub was about, and here's the deal.  I totally get it. It's a story that, yes, certainly has sex in it.  But more importantly, it has the equivalent of sex for most women.  It's centered around a hot, brilliant, and wealthy young man who needs help.  Help from whom?  Help from a young and also hot brilliant young woman.  He NEEDS her--it's so thick with Lifetime Television-esque scenarios the academic in me sneered.  But... I kept reading.  It also has her detailed shopping trips, what savory dishes they ate with the wine, what vacations they took to romantic and picturesque places around the world.  It just had all the frivolous things women take pleasure in, and then we get the added benefit of just how desperate he is without her.  We get the physical AND emotional intimacy!  Oh my!  This was also the first book (I refuse to call this a novel) where I read it solely from the comfort and protection of prying eyes using my iPad.

The Passage by Justin Cronin
     The reviews for this novel really intrigued me including one by the famous Stephen King who is quoted as saying "Read this book and the ordinary world disappears."  Whoa! Right? Now, I typically don't go for unnecessary blood and gore in my summer reading, but this was something right out of the X-Files, and you know I'm a slut for anything Scully and Moulder-related.  So, I embarked on this journey and was not disappointed.  The gist is that there has been a terrible government experiment gone awry causing the end of the world as we know it.  And as cliche as that sounds, it seems totally believable while you're reading. You meet a whole host of protagonists and even skip around in time.  This novel plays with all kinds of genres including science fiction, fiction, romance, and definitely a little gothic! Word to the wise, this is a long one, so you'll have to commit.  Also it's the first in the triology, but really it gives a sense of closure if you don't want to read the second or third. I'm on the fence about reading on.

Saturday by Ian McEwan
     When I saw the film, Atonement, I was really blown away by the whole thing--the sweeping story line of love and betrayal, told from an outsider's narration who affects the plot early on.  Then someone suggested the short but dense novel, Saturday and I was intrigued.  It's just one day in the life of this neurosurgeon, but it was so incredibly well written with phrases that just cut right to the truths of humanity--get it?  "Cut"...You delve into the past of this interesting and articulate family and then something dramatic happens... It really is a worthwhile read.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
     This felt like the "summer of Gatsby" since the film finally came out, and since it was summer, I finally found the time to go see it--at a super sketchy dollar theater, ironically--but this was also the first time I am preparing lessons for the kiddies upon their return.  This was their summer reading as well.  This novel is as a beautifully written as its character's are ethically flawed, all save Nick--our little cowardly lion who is able to grow a pair by the end.  Can't wait to hear the seniors' take on it--I'm sure they'll be critical, and I'll have to destroy them.

The Lacua by Barbara Kingsolver
     One of her previous novels, The Poisonwood Bible, really is like a religious text for literature teachers looking to use a novel rich with texture, distinctive narrative voices, and a deeply moving plot line.  I've always wanted to read more of her works, and I finally got my grubby hands on The Lacuna.  While the former was set in Africa, the focus of this novel is really Mexico during the exciting and turbulent times of the Russian Revolution while in the home of the infamous painters and rebel thinkers, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.  Our narrative then travels back to the U.S. and our narrator is forced to confront the ugly, and frankly embarrassing, trials against involvement with Communism with the HUAC trials. The concluding pages just take you to another place altogether--compelling, wondrous, evocative and lovely. Read!

Next up? A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
     Ok, this one is going to be short.  "It was the best of times; it was the worst..." and I'm asleep.  Sorry Dickens.  You lost me on this one.  NEXT!

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
     What an interesting read.  Now, I was unaware of the whole index in the back--but those are for yuppy cheaters.  I roll the hard way and made various family trees (or really webs with all the bastard children) on post it notes. Quite handy as you start getting through the various plot twists. This puppy took some time for me, by no means a slight on the novel, but more a commentary on how fucking busy the end of the semester is.  You've got political conspiracies, murder, cover ups, and then let's talk about love.  You've got thwarted love, familial, fraternal, hell, even incestuous.  This series has it all.  Now, since it's a series there's quite a bit to cover which the HBO series leaves out for the sake of time and to keep the attention of the typical ADD-prescribed viewers, but all the same it's damn entertaining. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cell Phone Murder Painful for us All

Well, I'm a murderer. 

I've killed my cell phone.

You know how this blog is about the fact that I'm a teacher, but I still do stupid things, or make poor choices?  This one is just such a rookie mistake, probably made by many.

For some reason, I put my cell phone in the back of my shorts and took Piper out to go play.  (Did I think someone important was really going to need me in the twenty minutes it took to play with the dog?) It's over 100 degrees in the shade here in Austin, so I got back and was disgusting and sweaty.   I just started to a load of laundry, stripped and thew in my shorts, along with all the rest I'd been putting off. 

I take a shower, grab a snack and, as I usually flip though Facebook or my emails while I eat, I began to look for my beloved.  Instantly, the cold shock realization that I have totally fucked up hits me. I sprint to the washing machine pulling everything out, which is all ten times harder now with the water weight and the tangling. I grab it out, but yes, it was totally submerged at some point in the wash. The cursing began here. 

I remembered I'm supposed to keep it off and get it as dry as possible.  (Yes, from a previous encounter with a tub of water at the pedicure place.)  So, I look for rice to start sucking out the water--but no dice.  But, I've got couscous!  Then I attempt to make a couscous bowl ASAP, but it's literally all over the floor now in my frenzy. I get on the computer to watch some You Tube clips about getting into the phone to remove the battery before any more damage is done.  

Have you ever looked at the screws on the I phone 5?  Ok, the screws at the bottom which I'm instructed to remove are so freaking tiny I have to get out my glasses. I don't have a microscopic screwdriver for the microscopic screws, so I thought, hey!, why not run up the conveniently located Apple store where I can get instant access to the pros?!?!  I put my dripping hair in a crazy-ass looking bun, put some actual clothes on, and literally run up the street to the store where I'm met with the most patronizing man with his hip, clear glasses.  After explaining my whole situation with sufficient self-deprecation and the I-screwed-up-please-help-me-smile, he replies that "they" aren't open.  (What, do you own Apple?  Is this your family?)

"Um, I'm here talking to you.  The door wasn't locked or anything."

"Well, yes, but we open at noon on Sundays."

"Ok, that's in thirty minutes.  No, ok, well can I just borrow one of those microscopic screwdrivers to avoid more damage on my super-expensive-phone which has everything on it?"

"I'm sorry, but there's just nothing we can do at this point." Shaking his head as if he cared, and then queuing up his stupid functioning I-Pad.  "But you can make an appointment for this evening with our Genius Bar."

Um, thanks for nothing, asshole.

So, now I'm frantic AND pissed off.  I quickly head back home to the car and then out to HEB to get a special screwdriver to open up the case. Along with actual rice since the couscous is getting in the small openings of the phone.  While there, I can't find anything useful except that little plastic case people use for glasses with some extra screws.  Whatever, that and rice and I scoot.

I race back home, now just frantic and less pissed, because I am taking this challenge head-on!  I can change this outcome!  I've got my own will and abilities! Only to find that no--in fact this teeny tiny screwdriver is small--but NOT microscopic.  Lots of cursing. 

Then Speed Racer out again to Home Depot for another set of screwdrivers.  I'm still trying to pump myself up here and not to give up.  Some little old man employee was eyeballing me since I was taking out all these screwdrivers to make sure this time.  "Ma'am, may I help you?"

"No. I'm fine."  Seriously man, you do not want to unleash the Kraken boiling up inside this sister.

I pay for the deluxe set of 16 screwdrivers thinking the smallest one HAS to work.  

Naturally, it doesn't.  The bile is now rising in the back of my throat.  I've now personified my cell phone as drowning in a car, and I can't help it. 

I basically found one of the flathead attachments to use, which really wasn't the right size either, but I made happen, all to figure out that the YouTube video was for an I phone 4, not 5.  Meaning, I needed more special tools to open that one up.  At that point the hubs came home from work (yes, working on Sunday) and I totally broke down-- bawling from frustration.... and also hormones and let's face it, hunger. 

He hugged me and let me complete my Ugly Cry.  We left it in some rice (thank you HEB) overnight and that poor puppy was still fried.  I tried to turn it on finally the following morning and it literally was blinking red and white.  My phone was bleeding.  Totally a Johnny Five moment for me. 
No disassemble! Johnny-Five alive!

So, from our research, it seems like I can pay a small fortune and just get a replacement.  That was going to be my school clothes shopping money.  Also a tearful moment. 

First world problems indeed, but they're my problems so they count--yo. The hubs said he thought a family member died I was so upset when he came home.  I told him one did.  I loved that phone.

And now, naturally, I have to walk back to the Apple Store and make a stupid appointment with the "Genius Bar" to get another phone.  God, I hate that name. And I'm going to make sure that I have on make-up and dry hair this time.  

Lesson learned?  Get the stupid insurance coverage and don't be a dumb-ass.