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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Tics


Last week I cried a couple of times about my dissertation and my job and my tiredness and the whole overwhelming all of it. But this week I don't feel like I'm one breath away from a coma after a morning of working. Maybe it helps that I finally broke it down for the students today and explained to them that when they slam books down on their desks or tap their pencils incessantly or make distracting noises with their tongues or use their scissors to break down their erasers to a near molecular level, I get distracted. And I develop nervous tics and twitches in my eye lids and my neck. Plus all thought flies out of my head and I lose my place and need to be redirected. After I explained, a few kids still did the tapping thing, but when my face started twitching, they apologized and stopped. Then someone else reminded me of my last sentence and the lesson went on. I think we're getting a system going that might work for all of us. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Sittings


I actually sat with my dissertation for awhile tonight, a little visit to get reacquainted. It seemed ready to move forward, but was waiting patiently for me to take the lead.
I sat down during the pledge this morning, in solidarity with two girls who sat when the pledge was read over the intercom. Legal mandates that are all about indoctrination get on my last nerve.
I sat again after reading about cool loneliness in Pema Chodron's book. She suggests treating alienation and heartbreak as opportunities. I wonder if I would ever be able to do that?

p.s. I have extras of these bumper stickers, if you want one. They make great gifts. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Haystacks


Happy Birthday to my Mom! She's 75 today. I love her just because she's my mom, but there are things she does that impress and inspire me as well. She's a volunteer nurse at the monastery, tending to the ill and elderly monks. She's a good friend to anyone who needs any kind of help at any time. And she exercises about a zillion times a week. She also makes these cookies called haystacks for me every xmas and looking forward to these all year gives my life meaning and hope. She's a great mom to seven children and a spectacular grandmother to 3 grandkids. Please send good birthday wishes into the universe or the blogosphere for my mom today. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Jeopardy


KC told me that she played "rule" Jeopardy with her middle school classes so I decided to give it a try. I handed out sheets of rules for dress code, playground behavior, lifeskills, and bullying and relational aggression. The kids looked over the sheets and wrote the questions on Thursday. Friday we played the game. It went like this. Kids would call out, "Dress code." I read a card that said, "These straps are strictly forbidden at our school." After consulting with their team, a kid would answer, "What are spaghetti straps?" YES! Then someone picked Aggression. I read the answer, "A comment that could result in immediate expulsion." After the required consult, a kid would answer, "What is 'I'm going to kill you?'" YES! We really covered quite a few rules and I was amused by the whole event, which is important. I'm sure they'll never forget these rules and will strive to achieve their personal best behavior for the next 177 school days. Thanks, Savvy Mom. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Insomnia


Why am I not sleeping? Could it be that I'm charged up after watching John Stewart tear into hateful Christopher Hitchens? Or could it be the latte I drank at 6 thinking it was finally time to get back to my dissertation work? Or could it be a lingering clinging to summer time, when staying up late had no consequences, and nothing absolutely had to be done during the day time?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Beginning


First day news. Teen Daughter's a freshman now and had a locker snafu, but other than that things went well. One teacher staged a dramatic eviction of a student that shook everyone up, but it was all a joke. After school she got this cool haircut. #1 son is a sixth grader and has performed imitations of his four teachers' introductions to our great amusement. I muddled through a long homeroom and 2 periods of language arts enjoying these big children. I wasn't quite on my game, but everyone seemed happy and relaxed. I told them they could pick their seats, but tonight I made a seating arrangement. Being too nice has too many drawbacks. Hope they're not overly disappointed and I also hope they don't think I lie regularly. Husbandman is not in school until next week so he's been singing Summer Time songs gloatingly this evening. Perhaps sensing our disgruntlement with his jollity, he volunteered to wash dishes for all of us this evening. It seemed only right. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Union


Judy and I signed up to be the new union reps at school. I've been wanting to get more involved in the union for awhile. I really want to get rid of standardized testing. And I'm hoping to reduce class sizes after that. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Convenience


My thumb hurts a wee bit and it has hurt for a long time. A few weeks ago, I decided to investigate my pain by actually looking at my thumb and was surprised to see that my thumb is somewhat deformed and misshapen. I guessed it might be arthritic so I googled "arthritic thumb" but arthritic thumbs usually hurt in a place nearer to the base of the thumb. So then I worried that I might have some type of growth in my thumb. When I went to the Hunt's house on Friday, I decided to ask our friend Jim the doctor about my thumb. I was embarrassed to bug him for medical advice, but he's always nice about these things. He said it looks like arthritis, not to worry. He told me the thumb bump has a name----something node---but I wasn't paying close attention once I found out it wasn't a growth. Talking to Jim saved me considerable time and money. I resolved that afternoon to work at steering Teen Daughter and #1 Son into the medical professions. This is going to be cost efficient in the long run. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Flaw


Yesterday I had two moments that lingered on unpleasantly. Both had to do with being overly defensive, a minor character flaw. When a new teacher asked if the rocking cool posters I had just purchased had any curricular or thematic significance, I replied that they did not, that they were on the walls simply to make the room look good, and then I just had to add that I thought thematic curriculum was often “forced and artificial.” Unnecessary. A simple “no” would have done the job just fine. Later another teacher commented that the books I planned to teach might not be very “fun.”
“These are FUN!” I screeched back.
I think the screeching freaked her out because she quickly responded, “I was just kidding.” Again, unnecessary. Reading about the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the war in Sarajevo might not be considered fun by all readers and I have to accept that, hard as it is to understand.
When defensiveness sets in, it is a signal that I need to back away from the schoolpeople and spend a day with Judy buying clothes in the big city to the north. Wearing the new school clothes, defensiveness in the workplace will be unnecessary.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Vigil


We joined others downtown last night for a vigil of support for Cindy Sheehan. Our town had a good turn out of folk and people kept the candles lit while forming two large rag tag circles. My teacher self must be returning because I contemplated taking charge of getting everyone into one large circle, but I let that impulse go and stood quietly along with the others. I'll be getting back to crowd control soon enough. Sheehan's project inspires me and I'm glad we gathered on the square to show support, though the vigil was brief and perhaps one large circle would have been slightly better. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Chagrin


When I couldn't find any sign telling me to stay out, I crossed a rocky trench to get close to this totem. I took some fine fotos and returned to the crowd. Found a small sign off to the side later, telling me to stay away from the totems. The Canadians are just way too polite in their signage, but I was still embarrassed. I've always been a pretty good sign follower. And because Husbandman repeatedly asked me what I was thinking crossing the trench. He pointed out that it looked really odd to see me over there. Another embarrassment occurred yesterday when my credit card was denied at a local poster shop where I was buying some rocking cool posters for my classroom. Husbandman called credit card company and they told him that they put a hold on our card because they detected charges from out of the country. Credit card man suggested that we call the company whenever travelling outside of our nation's borders. Thought I'd pass this helpful tip along to others. Classroom's almost done, and though I am embarrassed that I have very little to write today, I couldn't NOT blog before leaving the house. That's a little embarrassing, too. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Wallowing

Today was my first day back to school after over a year away. I spent six hours schlepping boxes from my old huge classroom, the one with a private office, into my new minute classroom, the one with no private office. I left a zillion books behind for my former partner because they're too young for my new group and because I'm a philanthropist. After I schlepped everything into the new space, stress really set in as I stared at the boxes of books that need to be placed in bookshelves that do not exist. If I ever do get the room in order, I'm going to need some lesson plans and I have no idea how I want to begin the school year. If I ever do get settled on some themes and develop some cool units, I probably won't ever have time to work on my dissertation and 8 years of grad school will all be naught. My life is impossibly overwhelming and there's no use even trying to sort it all out. Will this day never end?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Orca


On the ferry ride to Galliano Island, I saw an orca leap out of the water very near the boat. The sight stopped my breathing and all time stood still. I finally yelped an exclamation in time for a few fellow travellers to see the orca too. I kept my eyes peeled for orcas constantly after that, but saw none. When my kinfolk chided me for not being satisfied with an awesome first day sighting, I recognized their rightness and switched over to an attitude of gratitude, while still scanning the horizon for orcas at every opportunity. Galliano Island is a spectacular place to swim in icy water, bury yourself in pebbles, hike along high ridges with stunning views, and cavort with cousins. Please head over to Galliano Island as soon as possible. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Trip

Tomorrow we leave for the Gulf Islands, off the coast of Canada. We will head to Seattle, join our kinfolk, and then ferry to Galliano Island. Packing's taking forever, but I'm ahead of schedule, as it is still daylight. Bought some fine crafts for afternoon fun on the island---sunlight print paper, wickistix wax for molding and lanyard keychain kits. Sadly, we just discovered that #1 son and Teen Daughter have expired passports. That's a concern, but what can we do at this point? We'll cross that country when we get to it. If we see orcas, my life will be complete.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Fun


Tired of waiting for friends to arrive, #1 son utters words never before spoken, "Give me jobs." He cuts up strawberries, fills the bird feeders, takes out the trash. He goes into his room to clean up and emerges later in costume, ready to welcome guests. Finally our Friday fete begins. Boys run about with walkie talkies. Croquet is played. Teens lounge in the living room. Grown humans crowd onto the deck to discuss ingenious ways of dealing with the mandated moment of silence. Another summer day has been spent well. We won't be having any regrets once s****l begins. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Silence


A new state law requires that every student be given the chance to say the pledge of allegiance AND take a moment of silence each day. I have no idea why this law was passed and every school system will now have to spend time working out policies for its implementation.
Participation in the pledge and the silence is voluntary, but if you don't choose to participate you can't distract others. If I decide not to be silent, wouldn't that be distracting?
I'm lazy about sitting regularly on my zafu, but if I bring it into school and meditate during moment of silence, I could save time in the evenings. Multi-tasking during the moment of silence. This could work. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Spider


Human Rights Watch has a disturbing article about another disgusting decision coming out of our government's current administration. In 1997, 145 countries signed a Mine Ban Treaty. The U.S. did not, but had intended to sign. We stopped manufacturing "antipersonnel mines" at that time. In February of this year, the Bush administration presented a landmine policy, in which the "U.S. abandoned its long-held objective of joining the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which comprehensively prohibits the use, production, trade or stockpiling of antipersonnel mines." In December decisions will be made regarding the manufacture of a new type of landmine called The Spider. According to Steve Goose, director of HRW Arms division, "We are beginning to see the bitter fruit of the new Bush administration landmine policy....The U.S. appears well on the way to resuming production of antipersonnel mines. Renewed export and renewed use of these inhumane weapons may not be far behind."
Whenever there's a chance to do something decent with the rest of the world, this administration moves instead toward actions both inhumane and shameful. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Job


In 3 weeks, I will be a teacher once more. Not working really has agreed with me, so I’m a little anxious about re-entering the classroom. Here are some of my main concerns presented in the form of a bulleted list:

  • Right off, my colleagues will ask about my dissertation progress. Not a huge concern because I’ve already planned my cheery responses---“So close!” and “It won’t be long now!”
  • Despite the fake-it-til-you-make-it facade, I am nervous about making dissertation progress once school gets underway. Teaching is a way time consuming job. Check out this comparison of the work day of a pharmaceutical salesperson and that of a teacher in the new book that I will soon own called Teachers Have It Easy.
  • I love teaching, but I hate resisting stupid mandates and restrictions. I do resist quite successfully, but why must I? Just let me do my job, you evil standardizers. Sunday NYT has several articles in their Education Life about rigid restrictive curriculum making new teachers rethink their gig choice.
  • Another NYT article wonders if education schools present too much theory and not enough practical tips. They reach the startling conclusion that teachers need both. Doi. The author infers that new teachers are leaving in droves because they haven’t been taught how to teach, but they offer no evidence to support their claim. The one woman they interview who left teaching went her merry way toward jewelry consulting for an insurance company because teaching had too much paperwork, took up too much of her time and the pay was bad.

It’s good to write down my concerns. I can store these away for now and go back to my summer evening with a glass of wine, a little blog reading, and sitting on the deck watching the last few visitors to the birdfeeders before the sun goes down. Saw 2 goldfinches today. I'm wondering if 3 weeks is enough time to get the backyard birds to handfeed. Saw Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill this weekend.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Deck


Nancy reminded me to go get a pedicure today. That's a great plus of blogging, friend-readers let you know what you're supposed to be doing. This color is called
"Lighten Up, You're Sixpence."
I almost got another color that was very similar, called
I'm Hungary for my Honey."
I'm telling you naming nail polish is a job we can do. What's holding us back?
And what's holding us back from celebrating a Friday on the Deck this coming Friday at 4pm? The Hunts are home from Germany, so get over here. Yay.