Diapers and Dragons

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why Papercuts Are A Very Real Job Hazard

I did the math.

I rather wish I hadn't. But what's done is done.

I added up the average of essays that I assign, taking the low side of page numbers per essay, added in a guesstimate of essays from tests, the pages of writing on projects as well as essays, and multiplied by the number of students I have per year (around 150--this year I have 148). I did NOT include the other kinds of grading I do, including objective quizzes and tests, "checked in" notes and vocabulary logs and graphic organizers and the like, and presentations.

According to my calculations, I grade a rough average of 16,000 pages worth of writing per year.



On a not-unrelated note, the first marking period ends next Friday.

Any wonder why I'm not posting much lately?

And, uh, anyone want to come help me wade out of this paperlanche that seems to have fallen on me?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Sappy And Semi-Coherent Post (Sometimes I Just Can't Help Myself)

Today marks the eight-month anniversary of my first date with MTL and the first time I met him face-to-face, although we had been communicating through e-mail and text and phone conversations for a little while before.

Eight months. I know: I feel a little silly keeping track of each month's anniversary, and it's not like we're doing some big shindig for it (though I think we'll do something special for the one year mark), but I did notice the date this morning and its significance popped into my head and I said something about it to MTL.

(No, I didn't make him try to guess its significance, although he's pretty good at remembering these things anyhow, because those games feel too manipulative to me. I'm nice that way. Not in many other ways, but that way.)

Honestly, it always comes as a little surprise to me that it's only been that long, since it feels like we've known each other for years instead of months. It's all very sappy and mushy and I'm honestly a little embarrassed about it even though I shouldn't be.

Anywho, I've been feeling sentimental and I tried to write a poem and apparently the path between my brain and fingers/mouth is corrupted today because I can barely put one coherent sentence together, verbally or written. But there is a poem by the ever marvelous e. e. cummings that fits (and oh I wish I could write like him and Carl Sandburg and Ann Lamott and a host of other amazing people, but I'll just have to settle for what I have) and so here you go:

"I carry your heart"

I carry your heart
I carry your heart with me (I carry it in
my heart) I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go, my dear ;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

I fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)

--e. e. cummings

I love you, MTL. Always will. Thank you for entrusting your heart with me. You know you have mine.

Friday, October 15, 2010

If Wishes Were Horses, I'd Totally Sell The Horses And Get This Stuff Instead. Forget Black Beauty. I'll Take Black Boots.

There is an increasingly large gap growing between what I WANT for Christmas and my birthday (which are totally the same day so it's convenient for gift-giving, but it's NOT okay to just make one present work for both unless it's a REALLY BIG PRESENT) (just sayin') and what I NEED for Christmas and my birthday. This is one of the sadder parts of becoming terminally adult.

Well, that and all the joint creaking. You should hear me when I get up from bed or the couch or, well, pretty much any position in which my joints have to move from one angle to another. I sound like a really big bowl of Rice Krispies, or possibly a bag of microwaveable popcorn. Plus I often have to hoist myself up and then put my hand on my lower back because my back, it's lopsided and stuff. I'm 32 years old and already moving like a grandma.

It's sexy as hell, yo.

Anywho, I have a growing list of all the fun stuff I'd really like to get as gifts, as well as a growing list of all the things I actually need and don't necessarily have the money to get. And since I know you are all DYING to know what's on those lists, I'll share them with you!

You're welcome.

Here's What I Want, What I Really Really Want

1. A bunch of t-shirts from my new favorite merchandise website, ThinkGeek.com, especially these ones:

Because cookies make everything better. Especially double dark chocolate.
Because it's the Answer, of course!*
SPACE INVADERS! Now with extra destruction!
"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Seriously, I think my life would be complete if I had this.**
This just makes me giggle.
Oh yes. I am that geeky. Although Next Generation is still my favorite.***
Sheldon is my hero. Even though I think I would probably stab him to death with a hundred very sharp pencils if I actually lived with him. I don't know how Leonard handles it.****
So. Awesome.
And again, brilliance from Sheldon. I want this in poster form, too.
This is what I'm talking about. I mean, seriously. LOVE.
2. Boots. I know, I know, I have a ton already, but there are a couple kinds I really want. One is a pair of tight-fitting brown high heeled boots that will perfect several specific outfits:

Like these
Or these. I'm not picky.
And then just because I've wanted a pair for a very, very long time, a pair of thigh-high black high heeled boots (but not a pair that looks too hooker-y. Because I have standards.):

Yes. Perfect.

3. And of course I really want an elf ranger outfit to go with my ears, only that's going to be really hard to do because even the stores/websites that sell things like this seem to have never realized that maybe WOMEN want to dress like elf rangers and would prefer something of quality rather than the stupid little Peter-Pan-ish Halloween-y crap that is the only stuff I can find. ARGH. Anyhow, an outfit that would look something like this:

Yes, the bow and arrows and bracer and boots too. 
Because I'm a total geek, that's why.
4. Also from ThinkGeek.com, I really, really, really want this USB Webcam Missile Launcher that would allow me to launch foam darts at my students without them even realizing I'm watching them on the webcam. Sleeping when you're supposed to be working? PEW PEW!!! Talking to your neighbor when you shouldn't? K-CHOW!!! Just being a general annoyance? PEW PEW K-CHOW WHAM PEW PEW PEW!!!!!!

Beware my wrath!!!! PEW PEW PEW PEW!!!!! Mwahahahahahahaha!!
5. And because I'm not totally selfish and would also like something that our entire massive family can enjoy, I'd love to get a Wii system and a bunch of fun games. I'm generous like that.

I already own both Raymond's Ravin' Rabbids Wii games, and I love them. But I can't play them. This makes me sad.
What I Need and Should Probably Get Instead

1. Four new tires for my Saturn Vue. The current ones are almost entirely bald and squeal like I'm a crazy maniac driver every time I take a corner, even if I'm going about five miles an hour. And Michigan winters are a bitch, yo, and these tires will NOT handle things. I should probably get these before Christmas, actually. Sigh.

They may be black and sleek in their own way, but they just aren't the same as those boots. SIGH.
2. Also for my poor overworked Vue, a rear wheel hub assembly. It's only the fourth one needing replacement in the last few months. It's bizarre: that car is awesome and reliable, but apparently at around 130,000 miles all the wheel bearings start screaming. And, um, I mean that pretty literally. They're LOUD, people.

Oooh, shiny. Still not exciting, though.
3. And because that's not enough, I should get those brakes replaced soonish too. Geez, you'd think I was working as a chauffeur these days. Oh wait. I AM.

Why do all the repairs happen all at once? Thank God MTL can do a lot of that car stuff. Makes him handy to have around.
4. Oh, and speaking of those cold Michigan winters? It would be pretty awesome to have an electric blanket. Not exactly exciting, but awesome.

Now with extra snuggles.
5. Finally, even though MTL and I have a walk-in closet, I don't exactly have room for all my Stuff. Especially the stuff that doesn't hang up. Like socks. And underwear. You know, things like that. I have exactly one drawer in MTL's dresser that is mine. And while I totally <3 MTL for giving me a drawer (of his own free will, mind you, and without my badgering or even hinting), it's not quite enough. This is why I need a dresser. Preferably one of those long low ones, because then I can also put things like my jewelry chest(s) and Other Girly Things on top instead of on the floor/bathroom counter/random surfaces as I have to now.

Like this, only cheaper, because I'm pretty sure it's an antique. Which mostly is just another word for "It's been sitting around here for a few generations and it isn't completely broken."

Sometimes being a low-maintenance, practical, responsible adult Sucks the Big One.

And to think: for the sake of brevity, I'm not including all the piddly stuff I gaze at wistfully, like dozens of books and CDs and movies and that really cool necklace I saw at Aldo's the other day and things like that.

I'm not really all that materialistic. Really. But a girl can dream.

*From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. If you don't get this joke, I'm deeply disappointed in you. Also, you need to go read the first three books. NOW. Forget about the last two in the series. He only wrote them because he was pressured into it and you can tell.
**From The Princess Bride--both book and movie. Again, ditto above if you don't get it.
*** STAR TREK, people. /facepalm
****From The Big Bang Theory, which is currently just about the only half-hour TV sitcom worth watching. LOVE IT.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Unexpected Post : Now With Lava. And SHARKS.

So a dear fellow teacher and friend of mine posted this link on her Facebook page with a statement about how all the cruelty in the world saddens her, and I read it while I was wasting time procrastinating taking a break during my prep hour and then commented that people like this should be exiled to an island where we wouldn't have to share the same air. And she commented back about how they don't deserve the beauty of an island, and I responded that it could be one of the ones devastated by nuclear testing and we can surround it with electric fencing and SHARKS, and she said they'd still get to enjoy the sunsets and that just doesn't seem right.

So we came up with a new idea. We think that all the evil douchebags of the world (including but not limited to cyber AND non-cyber bullies as well as massive numbers of politicians, Wall Street brokers, megacorporation CEOs, and of course idiot drivers who think the road belongs to them and their massive SUVs) should be air-dropped into the center of the very very deep caldera of a dormant volcano with impossible-to-climb sides. The top of the caldera should be rimmed with electric fencing, just in case.

We are also debating the possibility of genetically engineering lava sharks, because there need to be sharks. Obviously. We think one of our science teacher friends may be able to help us.

And just think of the excitement the evil douchebags will get to experience on a daily basis, what with all that wondering whether the volcano will decide to end its dormancy!

Talk about fire and brimstone. We have all those ultra Baptist preachers beat by a mile.

Because we're talking LAVA SHARKS, people!!!!

Like this. Only a lot scarier and more shark-like, because honestly this doesn't exactly make me shake in my shoes. Don't blame me. Blame mishaelley.
I fully expect a Nobel prize or two when we've accomplished all this. You're welcome.

Who else should we include in our group of future charcoal briquettes exiles? We're open to the possibility of employing multiple volcanoes, if need be.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where I Am

Once upon a time, lots of people were reading this blog and I was posting just about every day. Not so much these days. In fact, it's been a rare post lately around here.

I just haven't felt much like writing. And when post ideas DO pop into my head, I'm invariably in the car or shower, and by the time I'm where my computer is, all thought of posting has vanished.

Truth be told, there just isn't much going on that I feel like blogging. I stress enough about the politics of teaching without putting it out here and getting all sorts of comments on it that will make me feel more stabby than I already do. Despite nixing the emailing of posts (which did help, I will admit) there are still things I don't feel comfortable posting here for privacy's sake. And I've never really been the sort of mommyblogger to write post after post about how dang cute those kidlets are (even though they are.) I can't pull it off without just being boring as hell.

The biggest reason, though?

Life is different these days. Despite the occasional bit of angst over kidlets and stepkidlets and the whole merging of families bit, life is remarkably drama-free.

In fact, a major component in The Dark One's desire to live with her mother instead of us is because, according to her, we're boring. And by boring, she means drama-free. Whereas life at her mother's is full of chaos and drama and this, again according to her, is far more interesting.

We think we can live with being boring if that's what it takes.

Personally, I love where my life is now, crazy as it can be at times. But she's right about it being quite lacking in the Drama area. And that means that it is also quite lacking in the Fascinating Blog Fodder area as well.

There's no more angst over The Ex. No more agonizing over decisions and the relationship's disintegration. We're divorced, quite amicably in the end. We've become MUCH better at communicating and working through the occasional issue. We don't yell or argue any more. We're almost friendly. Remarkably, we are far more functional as ex-spouses and co-parents than we EVER were as a couple. And I mean EVER. It's a good place to be.

My depression has lifted remarkably. Not that my journey is over: in fact, I will be returning to therapy in a week or so to work through some other old issues that need addressing. It's not a major crisis, though, and it's not really depression. Just...stuff that I need to face and haven't for, oh, three decades or so. At this point, I'm not comfortable writing about it here, but maybe I will later. Maybe. This would also be a reason I haven't been writing much poetry on here--poetry has been a major form of catharsis for me, and there just isn't that much Stuff to work through that way lately.

And my home life? My home life is happy. I love MTL more deeply than I ever knew I could love anyone. I am loved, deeply and completely and thoroughly and without a doubt. We have our little spats from time to time, and then we work through them and learn from them and move on. We're learning how to parent together in a blended family. There are the obstacles that come with this sort of paradigm shift, but we're facing them together. It's a good life, an incredibly good life, and I feel blessed every day to have been given such a life. I feel blessed every day that after all the crap I went through and all the mistakes I made and all the pain and heartache, I got to meet the love of my life. And we get to grow old together, which is happening sooner rather than later with all our joint and back issues. We CREAK, people. We're going to be that old couple inching along with walkers and wheelchairs. But we'll be holding hands every chance we get.

(We'll also be the old couple who delights in embarrassing their kids and grandkids every chance we get. Trust me on that one. ANY WAY WE CAN.)

Isn't it strange how being happy dries up my blog posts? It does.

So maybe I am boring now. I'm certainly not bored.

Maybe it's just that life has become so much more worth living in real time, rather than online.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dear So and So: An Emotional Rant (Or Four)

Pants With Names posts every now and then with her very amusing versions of her friend Kat's postcard posts. You know, the "Dear So and So" type of thing. Today, I think I need to do it too. Because I am in a MOOD. One that even Ghirardelli dark chocolate with raspberry filling cannot fix.



Dear Electronic Grading System,

WTF do you mean, it's Progress Report time??? I'm not ready! I'm not prepared! I'm still scrambling to get everything done AND figure out how to balance Work and Home Life right now, and it's still in the early stages. Plus I had to take that day off to stay home with The Widget, and it's taking me twice as long to catch up as it would have to just be here.

Your little asterisks of Grades Have Not Been Entered mock me!

Yours in frantic desperation,
Ms. Buried-Up-To-My-Neck-In-Paperwork TeacherMommy


Dear Current Students,

No, M&Ms are not suitable replacements for Godiva. Also, it's Cherry COKE. Cherry Pepsi is an abomination.

Your Favorite English Teacher


Dear You Know Who,

I know. It's AMAZING that moving to that town didn't fix all your problems. Such a shock! I never would have guessed.

I really need to work on my bitterness.

Trying To Forgive,
One of the People You Left Behind


Dear Media, World, and People I Love,

I know there are problems with the system. I'm not saying it can't improve. And I love that there are options for people, like private schools and charters and homeschooling. But here's the reality check: they're not all perfect either. Or even always better. And every time you lump all of us educators together under the category of "lazy" or "useless" or "outdated" or "unnecessary", you injure a group of people who, in a far greater majority than you give them credit for, have chosen a career that is full of stress and challenge and (increasingly) very little thanks--and do a damn good job.

You want to measure my efficacy? You want some stats? Today alone I actively taught five classes (three different courses), graded eight sets of quizzes, rewrote two quizzes, prepped questions and activities for a novel, answered over twenty emails, entered grades into the grading system, wrote a wiki rubric for the district benchmark "test", checked in three classes' worth of vocabulary assignments, and helped several individual students who had issues or questions outside of class.

That was in five hours. And I'm still behind.

That doesn't even include the unmeasurable aspects: getting students excited about literature, making them laugh, working with other teachers to develop ideas and activities and curriculum. How are you going to gather statistics on the number of students I impact in the ways that don't show up on standardized tests?

And I'm not even the best or hardest working teacher I know, not by a long shot. AND THEY'RE EVERYWHERE.

And here's the other thing: we take everyone. That's EVERYONE. Regardless of ethnicity or religion or gender or financial status or, especially, disability. We don't get to pick and choose like almost every private and charter school does. We take everyone, and we care about them, and we do our damnedest under increasingly difficult circumstances.

And then we get shit on from every direction. Including our own administration, our politicians, the media, and (God help me) even our own friends and family.

I told my students' parents on Sneak Peek night that I teach because I love doing it and I love working with these kids. It's true. But for the first time in my entire career, even when I was so close to burn-out that I could taste it (twice), I realized this week that if I miraculously won the lottery with that ticket I never buy, I wouldn't keep teaching.

Stop saying "Oh, but I didn't mean YOU." Yes, you did. Because I'm in this along with all the others.

It's been a hard week.

Your Emotionally Raw TeacherMommy
Related Posts with Thumbnails

Wait! Where Are You Going?

Wait! Where Are You Going?
Clicky Web Analytics