Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I will be the envy of the blogosphere.

It doesn't often happen that anyone would envy me for anything, but this weekend, all of you will be absolutely GREEN with envy, because I am flying west to visit HULA DOULA! And she has promised us an outing with these lovely people as well!!!

Please don't hate me because I'm so lucky.

I'm going to bring Hub's camera, and if I don't drop it in a puddle or sit on it, I'll have some awesome pictures when I come back on Monday.

So those of you who think I'm just bragging, will know I really did go.

That camera has a better chance of surviving a fall into deep water, than being sat on by me. Remember that scene in Disney's "Fantasia" where the tutu'd hippos sat on the wolves? Yeah, like that. It does have a wrist strap, but while that might prevent me from dropping it, it won't prevent me from swinging it into a brick wall, or forgetting it's there and gesturing wildly and blackening my own eye.

I am the clumsiest person in the world. Really, I have no rivals. None.

I've already started packing. Presents for the two little Hula kids went in the suitcase first.

Because, you know, it's just not RIGHT to go visiting with one arm as long as the other.

(Old Irish expression; explanation upon request.)
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:15 PM | |

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Like Charly, I could use a glass of fragmented grape.

My last two hours' worth of music:

Louis Armstrong – Amazing Grace
John Hiatt & Bonnie Raitt – This Thing Called Love
Emiliana Torrini – Sunny Road
Laura Nyro – Up On The Roof
Meatwad & Carl – Shampoo The Road
Blue Rodeo – Till I Am Myself
Bruce Cockburn – The Coldest Night of the Year
Dan Bern – Albuquerque Lullaby
Dobacaracol – Love
Lord of the Dance – Violin Duet
Mercedes Sosa & Nana Mouskouri – Credo
Melissa Etheridge & kd Lang – Sleep While I Drive
Moxy Fruvous – Teenager
Reel Big Fish – It’s The End of the World As We Know It
Sam Roberts – Brother Down
Rufus Wainwright – Sonnet 29
Theme Song – Meow Mix
Tom Cochrane – I Wish You Well
Trance – Tribal Techno
Suzanne Vega – Tom’s Diner
Brak – Discombobulated Cheese Balls
Sarah McLachlan – Do What You Have To
Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Surprise Symphony
Roseanne Cash & John Hiatt – One Step Over The Line
Rockapella – Walking In Memphis

. . . and of course I'm still humming the Meow Mix theme song, interspersed with the discombobulated cheese balls. Somehow I always hone in on the classy ones.

Still no word from the family in Gulfport. They all lived within spittin' distance of the sea so I doubt there's anything left of their homes. That's not important right now. What I want to know is if there's anything left of THEM.

Several of the gas stations in this town are closed. They are out of gas. As in, there is no gas left in the tanks because people bought it all. Holy cow. Shades of the seventies. . . .

I'm glad my computer threw a few random silly songs at me tonight. Sometimes, you just need a little random silliness. Tonight is one of those nights.

In a few minutes I need to go pay the bills. I never liked doing that and now I dread it above most other things, because it fills me with fear. We don't have enough money, and it gets worse and worse. We just don't have enough money. Some nights I am really frightened.

Okay, that wasn't quite accurate. EVERY night I am really frightened.

How shameful of me to worry about money, when others are fighting for their lives, wading through high water, huddled in shelters hoping they will still HAVE a home, etc. . . .

If I had three wishes, I hope I would have the courage and heart to use them all for other people with far worse problems than mine. But I am just awful enough to hope that I get FOUR wishes, and that there would be one left for me.

Oh poop. I would use the first wish to wish for a million wishes, and then I could be selfless and selfish too.

I am so hungry. I wish I had some discombobulated cheese balls right now. I shall substitute some potato chips and a pile of essays to be scored, and hope it will suffice.

Nothing like getting your essay back and realizing it has chocolate smears and potato chip grease on it.

Yeah, I'm so the sophisticated culture prof.


Fragment: incomplete sentence

Fragment: man without a penis, ie 'incomplete'

Did YOUR teacher fill you in on that interesting little piece of word history? No? That's because your teacher wasn't sophisticated and cultured like me.

And now, you see, my whole class will giggle all through tomorrow's lesson, and they will remember it, too. Because that which we learn while laughing, we usually remember.

To paraphrase Tybalt: Bring it on, fragment!

Bonus points if you know where the title came from.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:59 PM | |

Modular schools were so cool. . . . .

My very first teaching job was in a brand-new high school that was set up in a non-traditional way: some of you may remember the "mod" system? No? I feel old.

Twenty-two 20-minute periods, or "mods" a day. A week was 6 days, and most classes met every other day. A regular class was usually two mods; a study period might be any length, from one to four mods; labs were four or five mods, etc. Academic classes were divided into large group/small group, just like college. For example, a student might have English on Days 2, 4, and 6 during mods 9 and 10. Day 1 wasn't necessarily Monday; it was simply the day after Day 6. Attendance was taken first mod and wasn't taken again the whole rest of the day. Students had a huge commons area for 'free time.' There was a SMOKING AREA on the side of the building, and teachers had duty there! The sense of openness and freedom and personal responsibility was tremendous.

Except for the smoking area, I loved it.

All the kids loved it, except the ones who couldn't adapt to the freedom. Kids who desperately needed, REQUIRED, a rigid routine, just couldn't cut it. But for the above-average kid, it was heaven.

Unfortunately, above-average kids weren't the majority.

The experiment was ruined by those kids who just cut classes every day and hung out in the smoking area or the commons, or who left the open campus at noon and never came back, day after day, or who wandered aimlessly, lost and confused, trying to figure out where they were supposed to go on Day four, Mod seven. Even though they had a schedule in their hand.

Many parents never quite understood the concept either, and objected. Mostly the parents of the kids who never quite understood the concept.

At the time, I really did think I'd died and gone to school-heaven. I envied the students. For someone like me, that kind of 'schedule' would have been perfection. For many kids, it WAS perfection. For the first time, a school was actually catering to the bright trustworthy kids.

It didn't last long, of course.

It lasted two years, and then the school board decided to go back to 'traditional' scheduling. Unfortunately, the new building had not been designed for anything traditional; it was too open.

So they cut up all that lovely open space into little cubicle classrooms with no windows and turned into a traditional six-period high school. The smoking area stayed for a few more years and then common sense kicked in, the only time common sense was ever utilized in the history of this building.

The building was planned and built for grades 10-12. A few weeks before it was finished, the board decided to send the freshmen there, too. And then they wondered why it was too small from day one.

It's a shame. Even though it was too late for me as a student, for the first time in my life I had been exposed to a concept that catered to the smart kids, the reliable kids, the GOOD kids, the funky kids, the quirky kids, the kids who could be trusted with a little time.

But, as usual, because of the other kind of kids (and their parents) we lost it.

I am thinking as I write this of two famous writers and their philosophies. One is Plutarch, and the other is Mark Twain.

It was Plutarch who said, "Being about to pitch his camp in a likely place, and hearing there was no hay to be had for the cattle, 'What a life,' said he, 'is ours, since we must live according to the convenience of asses!' ”

And it was Mark Twain who said, ""In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards."

Of course, Twain also said "I have never let schooling interfere with my education."


And please don't think I am heartless, although I'm sure many of you do. I firmly and thoroughly believe in a good sound remedial program; that's what I teach now.

I just don't believe that the remedial and special programs should dictate or slow down the programs for the entire student body.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:08 AM | |

Monday, August 29, 2005

A hurricane is nothing to trifle with. . . . .

I have a zillion cousins on my father's side, and I am right smack in the middle, age-wise. When I was a little kid, I thought all the older cousins were adults, because, well, anybody that much taller than me, just HAS to be grown up, right?

Uncle T and Aunt J's kids, M, K, and A, were some of my favorite cousins, even though they were quite a bit older than I was. They were always willing to play with the younger cousins, and there was nothing cooler than walking downtown with K or A to visit their grandparents (I always wondered why these grandparents weren't MY grandparents!) who lived in a great big house across the street from two huge limestone lion statues. K and A would lift up my sister and me and let us 'ride' on the lions.

Everything is made of limestone here.

Then Uncle T and Aunt J moved down south, where Uncle T worked for NASA in Huntsville, Alabama, for several years. For a while, they lived in Tuscumbia, right around the corner from Helen Keller's birthplace; I think that's why I've always been fascinated with Helen Keller, and did lots of school projects about her. Heck, I'd been to her house!

After leaving NASA, Uncle T moved further south to Gulfport to raise and show orchids, and his kids eventually followed him down there, except for M who is a professor in Florida.

A few years later, Aunt J's parents moved down there to be with their family.

In 1969, Hurricane Camille hit Gulfport, and their grandfather, who had refused to evacuate, was killed. Camille taught them that a hurricane is not to be trifled with.

My cousins, and my aunt and uncle, still live in Gulfport, right on the edge of the continent, with an awesome ocean view from their kitchen windows. At least, they did up until yesterday morning.

Nobody up here has heard anything from or about them since the storm hit. I am hoping, hoping, hoping, that they are safe. K and A have several children and tons of grandchildren, most of whom live in the area. I've never met most of them, but I have pictures.

I hope they're all right.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:48 PM | |

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I cried, but I didn't swear. Not out loud, anyway.

My cousin Mitzi did it again: she says this one has made the internet rounds many times already, but I hadn't seen this particular one before. It's an urban legend, but it could have been true. True stories just like this happen all the time, you know. Not this particular time, but all the time.

If there are any typos in this post, it's because. . . . well, you'll know why.


As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners... he is a joy to be around.." His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle." His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest, and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken." Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class."

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.

Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to."

After the children left, she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.

Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "teacher's pets.."

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer.... The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important, and showing me that I could make a difference"

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."


Now, if you've gotten this story in your email before, I hope you do realize that it's fictional. The essay goes on to say that Teddy Stoddard founded the Stoddard Cancer Wing at Iowa Methodist in Des Moines. That isn't true. There IS a Stoddard Cancer Wing at Iowa Methodist, but it was not founded by Teddy Stoddard. It was founded by John Stoddard, a businessman who has no connection whatsoever with the Teddy Stoddard of this little piece of fiction.

But any teacher, and any parent, will recognize the potential of stories like this to be true. This one isn't, but others are.

And any little child sitting in our classrooms right this minute might be the ONE. That is one of many reasons why all good teachers treat each child as if he/she were the most special and wonderful child in all the world.

It's so easy to do. And besides, each and every child in each and every classroom anywhere, IS the most special and wonderful child in all the world.

There is such potential in a child. Such wonder and glory and things thought that were never thought before, in every child.

Why are so many school curriculums and administrations so bound and determined to stamp that out in the name of standardization? There must be a special circle of Hell for anyone who deliberately stifles a child's own gift. Who knows what kind of world we might have, even now, if every child's potential was allowed and encouraged to flower?

The job description of most teachers (thrust into many a teacher's face whenever someone starts to seem a little more human and caring than the administration likes) states in black and white the duties of the teacher. The duties are to teach spelling, math, English, writing, geography, etc. Their duties are NOT to teach children. I think this goes far beyond absurd, far beyond the ridiculous, and into the realm of the disgraceful.

And now I shall stop ranting lest I use a dirty word when describing administration. . . . .
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:18 PM | |

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The condensed form of the already-condensed form.

Want to catch up with your reading but just don't have the time? Check out this site.

Sample, from Return of the King:

Aragorn: We must travel the Paths of the Dead.

Eowyn: You'll die. (They don't.)

Gandalf: The Hordes of Mordor will destroy Minis Tirith. (They don't.)

Gandalf: We must attack Mordor. We'll all be killed. (They aren't.)

Gollum: Mmmm, yummy finger! (dies)

Frodo: The Ring has been destroyed, but now we will die in Mordor.

Sam: Buck up, Master Frodo.

(A bunch of feathered DEUS EX MACHINAS come out of NOWHERE and save EVERYBODY.)



Or, for the kids, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

(Charlie buys a Willy Wonka chocolate bar.)

Charlie: Hooray. I'm an instant winner.

Willy Wonka: Hi kids. Four of you will undergo severe physiological distress that in the real world would get me sued, and one will be picked to be the Special One.

(Charlie gets picked.)

The End.


What's not to love?
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:10 PM | |

Friday, August 26, 2005

And how was YOUR day?

I was thinking tonight about the last junior high dance I chaperoned, a few years ago. I always loved to chaperone those little dances, even though we were not paid for doing so, unlike the teachers who worked the ball games and got the big bucks. . . .Okay, let's not go there.

Chaperone for free. That was me.

At this dance, some of the boys came up to the principal and told her that one of the toilets in the boy's bathroom was stopped up and when it was flushed, it turned into Mt. Vesuvius.

The principal turned to me and told me to go in there and try to fix it.

You see, our janitor was a man of principle and did not do toilets. Or vomit. We used to wonder what he did with all that time he saved by not doing his job, but there was a tv in the janitor's workroom that was always blaring so we assumed he was watching educational videos about plumbing and stuff.

I knocked on the restroom door, got no answer, opened it a crack and called out a warning, and walked in.

The offending toilet was the one on the end, and when I took a good look I instantly realized it was stopped up and overflowing like Mt. Vesuvius. Oh wait, that was what the boys had already told us. Well, they were right.

I sent the boys to ask for a plunger, but they couldn't find the janitor. We figured he was watching the tv in the janitor's workroom down on the elementary floor so nobody could find him and make him do his job so the noise wouldn't bother anybody at the dance, but nobody would answer the door when we knocked, at either workroom.

Back to me.

The principal now tells me that if I don't get that toilet unclogged soon, it will flood the hall and we'll have to send the kids home early from the dance, which was not possible as they were all dependent on their parents for rides, and all the parents were out celebrating three hours of freedom at Wendy's and wouldn't take kindly to cutting it short because some kid (not theirs) laid a loaf in the can.

I was told to unclog that toilet in whatever way I could.

Cut to next scene, where Mamacita is kneeling on the sticky floor beside a toilet in a junior high boy's bathroom, with her hand stuck in the hole up to her elbow, wiggling her fingers to help disperse the, uh, cloggage. My audience was large and ever-growing. Several boys told me it was the coolest thing they'd ever seen. Yes, I like to impress my students with bathroom humor.

Listen, I wouldn't do that in my OWN bathroom, but I had to do it in a nasty junior high boy's restroom during a dance. I will never be able to hear "Sk8tr Boi" without thinking of that moment.

I got 'er done. I flushed. Mt. Vesuvius was gone.

I stood at the sink and washed my arm over and over and over.

Nothing could happen now to make this night worse, I took comfort in thinking.

On the way home, a tire came off the truck and rolled down the hill.

Hark! Do I hear music in the distance?

"He was a sk8er boi she said see ya later boi. He wasn't good enough for her. . . ."

The tow truck would have gotten there sooner had it not been for all the ice on the roads.

When I got home I stood in the shower for about three hours. I haven't bitten my fingernails since that night.

I kind of expected the principal to, you know, THANK me for doing that, but I suppose "it took you long enough" will have to suffice.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:08 AM | |

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ask me something I know.

When I was in school, it often occasionally happened that I did not know the answer to a question. (insert shocked never-that face here!) Yes. I did not usually find school much fun, when I was a child, for MANY reasons, and one-but-only-one of those reasons was that I was asked questions for which I did not know the answer.

Or care.

But I can remember vividly sitting there in the classroom, year after year, and I include the college years in this memory, wondering why the teachers so seldom asked me about all the things I DID know.

We read about Clara Barton and the Red Cross. I got a C on that test. But if only someone had asked me about Clara's home life, and how she was so horrifically shy she could barely walk down the street for fear of meeting people, and how her parents withdrew her from school, and how her brothers kept getting sick and dying, and WHY she was so interested in helping other people's brothers. Nobody ever asked me those questions; just stuff about dates and stats and politics.

We learned all about the solar system. I LOVED this subject and I had already read, read, read everything I could find at the library about it. But I didn't do well on the big test because it was all about telescope lenses and distances between orbits, and numbers. If only someone had asked me specifically why a person couldn't live on Venus, or why it had no moon while other planets had several, or what the rings of Saturn were made of and where the stuff came from, or why the combined large seas of the earth are approximately the same size and shape as the Moon, or what happened to the planet that is supposed to be between Mars and Jupiter, or how science-fiction writers take science and run with it, and why their books are sometimes awesomely believable and sometimes ridiculously stupid, or talked about the incredible connection between Greek and Roman mythology and modern astronomy. Nobody ever asked me those questions; just stuff about discoverers, dates, stats, math, and why NASA should or should not be abolished so all that money could be used for world hunger.

I loved reading, LOVED LOVED LOVED to read, but nobody ever let me read books I was interested in. All our reading came from a prescribed list of approved titles, and there was seldom anything worth reading on there. I was reading Gone with the Wind in third grade, but when we took our field trip to the library, we ALL had to get a book from the baby section. Sometimes I took a Reader's Digest to school, just to kill time. But no matter what kind of book I read, I had to write a report about it. The report had to follow an organizational pattern, and creativity was discouraged. And no illustrations, as I discovered the hard way. Who cared about a story after you had to dissect it under someone else's direction? They never let me use a book I had read for fun; they weren't on the list. Nobody ever asked me to talk about those books. We just talked about the titles on the squeaky-clean limited vocabulary list.

I loved the world of words. I loved finding and learning new cool words. I kept lists of beautiful words, ugly words, scary words, etc. But I wasn't encouraged to use them in my writing at school, because they might require someone else to use a dictionary. In senior comp, the teacher (and I use that term loosely) didn't really read our papers for content; he simply searched for words that were 'too long' and deducted points for each one. I still hate him.

How much do I still hate him? Draw a picture of a big lima bean and put a face on it. That would be him. Then silk-screen it on a shirt. Give me that shirt and I would wear it.

I still love words, though. They couldn't kill THAT one. . . .

My point is, we are all full of information that would astound, if only someone would bother to ask.

That's why I always give my students bonus questions. They're hard, as bonus questions ought to be. They are worth points. The first student to answer gets the points. If nobody can figure it out in class, the first student to email me gets the points.

There were two questions today. Already, a student has emailed me with a correct answer to one of them. ("gerund") Ten points. The other question is a little harder, and although I've received thirty-four emails already, nobody has it yet. So I'll ask you.

In the world of grammar, what is the word we use to describe the dissecting of a sentence?

Ten bonus points for the first one to get it right.

Update: Yes, the answer is "parse." Good job.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:35 PM | |

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A sound of thunder.

The new textbook for my class has a copyright date of 2006.


Where's the DeLorean?

There was also a dead butterfly on the carpet behind my desk. I'm not kidding.

Chaos theory.


I'm not sure how good the movie is going to be, but this is one of the best short stories of all time.

A Sound of Thunder, by Ray Bradbury

The sign on the wall seemed to quaver under a film of sliding warm water. Eckels felt his eyelids blink over his stare, and the sign burned in this momentary darkness:


Warm phlegm gathered in Eckels' throat; he swallowed and pushed it down. The muscles around his mouth formed a smile as he put his hand slowly out upon the air, and in that hand waved a check for ten thousand dollars to the man behind the desk.

"Does this safari guarantee I come back alive?"

"We guarantee nothing," said the official, "except the dinosaurs." He turned. "This is Mr. Travis, your Safari Guide in the Past. He'll tell you what and where to shoot. If he says no shooting, no shooting. If you disobey instructions, there's a stiff penalty of another ten thousand dollars, plus possible government action, on your return."

Eckels glanced across the vast office at a mass and tangle, a snaking and humming of wires and steel boxes, at an aurora that flickered now orange, now silver, now blue. There was a sound like a gigantic bonfire burning all of Time, all the years and all the parchment calendars, all the hours piled high and set aflame.

A touch of the hand and this burning would, on the instant, beautifully reverse itself. Eckels remembered the wording in the advertisements to the letter. Out of chars and ashes, out of dust and coals, like golden salamanders, the old years, the green years, might leap; roses sweeten the air, white hair turn Irish-black, wrinkles vanish; all, everything fly back to seed, flee death, rush down to their beginnings, suns rise in western skies and set in glorious easts, moons eat themselves opposite to the custom, all and everything cupping one in another like Chinese boxes, rabbits into hats, all and everything returning to the fresh death, the seed death, the green death, to the time before the beginning. A touch of a hand might do it, the merest touch of a hand.

"Unbelievable." Eckels breathed, the light of the Machine on his thin face. "A real Time Machine." He shook his head. "Makes you think, If the election had gone badly yesterday, I might be here now running away from the results. Thank God Keith won. He'll make a fine President of the United States."

"Yes," said the man behind the desk. "We're lucky. If Deutscher had gotten in, we'd have the worst kind of dictatorship. There's an anti everything man for you, a militarist, anti-Christ, anti-human, anti-intellectual. People called us up, you know, joking but not joking. Said if Deutscher became President they wanted to go live in 1492. Of course it's not our business to conduct Escapes, but to form Safaris. Anyway, Keith's President now. All you got to worry about is-"

"Shooting my dinosaur," Eckels finished it for him.

"A Tyrannosaurus Rex. The Tyrant Lizard, the most incredible monster in history. Sign this release. Anything happens to you, we're not responsible. Those dinosaurs are hungry."

Eckels flushed angrily. "Trying to scare me!"

"Frankly, yes. We don't want anyone going who'll panic at the first shot. Six Safari leaders were killed last year, and a dozen hunters. We're here to give you the severest thrill a real hunter ever asked for. Traveling you back sixty million years to bag the biggest game in all of Time. Your personal check's still there. Tear it up."Mr. Eckels looked at the check. His fingers twitched.

"Good luck," said the man behind the desk. "Mr. Travis, he's all yours."
hey moved silently across the room, taking their guns with them, toward the Machine, toward the silver metal and the roaring light.

First a day and then a night and then a day and then a night, then it was day-night-day-night. A week, a month, a year, a decade! A.D. 2055. A.D. 2019. 1999! 1957! Gone! The Machine roared.

They put on their oxygen helmets and tested the intercoms.

Eckels swayed on the padded seat, his face pale, his jaw stiff. He felt the trembling in his arms and he looked down and found his hands tight on the new rifle. There were four other men in the Machine. Travis, the Safari Leader, his assistant, Lesperance, and two other hunters, Billings and Kramer. They sat looking at each other, and the years blazed around them.

"Can these guns get a dinosaur cold?" Eckels felt his mouth saying.

"If you hit them right," said Travis on the helmet radio. "Some dinosaurs have two brains, one in the head, another far down the spinal column. We stay away from those. That's stretching luck. Put your first two shots into the eyes, if you can, blind them, and go back into the brain."

The Machine howled. Time was a film run backward. Suns fled and ten million moons fled after them. "Think," said Eckels. "Every hunter that ever lived would envy us today. This makes Africa seem like Illinois."

The Machine slowed; its scream fell to a murmur. The Machine stopped.

The sun stopped in the sky.

The fog that had enveloped the Machine blew away and they were in an old time, a very old time indeed, three hunters and two Safari Heads with their blue metal guns across their knees.

"Christ isn't born yet," said Travis, "Moses has not gone to the mountains to talk with God. The Pyramids are still in the earth, waiting to be cut out and put up. Remember that. Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler-none of them exists." The man nodded.

"That" - Mr. Travis pointed - "is the jungle of sixty million two thousand and fifty-five years before President Keith."

He indicated a metal path that struck off into green wilderness, over streaming swamp, among giant ferns and palms.

"And that," he said, "is the Path, laid by Time Safari for your use. It floats six inches above the earth. Doesn't touch so much as one grass blade, flower, or tree. It's an anti-gravity metal. Its purpose is to keep you from touching this world of the past in any way. Stay on the Path. Don't go off it. I repeat. Don't go off. For any reason! If you fall off, there's a penalty. And don't shoot any animal we don't okay."

"Why?" asked Eckels.

They sat in the ancient wilderness. Far birds' cries blew on a wind, and the smell of tar and an old salt sea, moist grasses, and flowers the color of blood.

"We don't want to change the Future. We don't belong here in the Past. The government doesn't like us here. We have to pay big graft to keep our franchise. A Time Machine is finicky business. Not knowing it, we might kill an important animal, a small bird, a roach, a flower even, thus destroying an important link in a growing species."

"That's not clear," said Eckels.

"All right," Travis continued, "say we accidentally kill one mouse here. That means all the future families of this one particular mouse are destroyed, right?"


"And all the families of the families of the families of that one mouse! With a stamp of your foot, you annihilate first one, then a dozen, then a thousand, a million, a billion possible mice!"

"So they're dead," said Eckels. "So what?"

"So what?" Travis snorted quietly. "Well, what about the foxes that'll need those mice to survive? For want of ten mice, a fox dies. For want of ten foxes a lion starves. For want of a lion, all manner of insects, vultures, infinite billions of life forms are thrown into chaos and destruction. Eventually it all boils down to this: fifty-nine million years later, a caveman, one of a dozen on the entire world, goes hunting wild boar or saber-toothed tiger for food. But you, friend, have stepped on all the tigers in that region. By stepping on one single mouse. So the caveman starves. And the caveman, please note, is not just any expendable man, no! He is an entire future nation. From his loins would have sprung ten sons. From their loins one hundred sons, and thus onward to a civilization. Destroy this one man, and you destroy a race, a people, an entire history of life. It is comparable to slaying some of Adam's grandchildren. The stomp of your foot, on one mouse, could start an earthquake, the effects of which could shake our earth and destinies down through Time, to their very foundations. With the death of that one caveman, a billion others yet unborn are throttled in the womb. Perhaps Rome never rises on its seven hills. Perhaps Europe is forever a dark forest, and only Asia waxes healthy and teeming. Step on a mouse and you crush the Pyramids. Step on a mouse and you leave your print, like a Grand Canyon, across Eternity. Queen Elizabeth might never be born, Washington might not cross the Delaware, there might never be a United States at all. So be careful. Stay on the Path. Never step off!"

"I see," said Eckels. "Then it wouldn't pay for us even to touch the grass?"

"Correct. Crushing certain plants could add up infinitesimally. A little error here would multiply in sixty million years, all out of proportion. Of course maybe our theory is wrong. Maybe Time can't be changed by us. Or maybe it can be changed only in little subtle ways. A dead mouse here makes an insect imbalance there, a population disproportion later, a bad harvest further on, a depression, mass starvation, and finally, a change in social temperament in far-flung countries. Something much more subtle, like that. Perhaps only a soft breath, a whisper, a hair, pollen on the air, such a slight, slight change that unless you looked close you wouldn't see it. Who knows? Who really can say he knows? We don't know. We're guessing. But until we do know for certain whether our messing around in Time can make a big roar or a little rustle in history, we're being careful. This Machine, this Path, your clothing and bodies, were sterilized, as you know, before the journey. We wear these oxygen helmets so we can't introduce our bacteria into an ancient atmosphere."

"How do we know which animals to shoot?"

"They're marked with red paint," said Travis. "Today, before our journey, we sent Lesperance here back with the Machine. He came to this particular era and followed certain animals."

"Studying them?"

"Right," said Lesperance. "I track them through their entire existence, noting which of them lives longest. Very few. How many times they mate. Not often. Life's short, When I find one that's going to die when a tree falls on him, or one that drowns in a tar pit, I note the exact hour, minute, and second. I shoot a paint bomb. It leaves a red patch on his side. We can't miss it. Then I correlate our arrival in the Past so that we meet the Monster not more than two minutes before he would have died anyway. This way, we kill only animals with no future, that are never going to mate again. You see how careful we are?"

"But if you come back this morning in Time," said Eckels eagerly, you must've bumped into us, our Safari! How did it turn out? Was it successful? Did all of us get through-alive?"

Travis and Lesperance gave each other a look.

"That'd be a paradox," said the latter. "Time doesn't permit that sort of mess-a man meeting himself. When such occasions threaten, Time steps aside. Like an airplane hitting an air pocket. You felt the Machine jump just before we stopped? That was us passing ourselves on the way back to the Future. We saw nothing. There's no way of telling if this expedition was a success, if we got our monster, or whether all of us - meaning you, Mr. Eckels - got out alive."

Eckels smiled palely.

"Cut that," said Travis sharply. "Everyone on his feet!"

They were ready to leave the Machine.

The jungle was high and the jungle was broad and the jungle was the entire world forever and forever. Sounds like music and sounds like flying tents filled the sky, and those were pterodactyls soaring with cavernous gray wings, gigantic bats of delirium and night fever.
Eckels, balanced on the narrow Path, aimed his rifle playfully.

"Stop that!" said Travis. "Don't even aim for fun, blast you! If your guns should go off - - "

Eckels flushed. "Where's our Tyrannosaurus?"

Lesperance checked his wristwatch. "Up ahead, We'll bisect his trail in sixty seconds. Look for the red paint! Don't shoot till we give the word. Stay on the Path. Stay on the Path!"

They moved forward in the wind of morning.

"Strange," murmured Eckels. "Up ahead, sixty million years, Election Day over. Keith made President. Everyone celebrating. And here we are, a million years lost, and they don't exist. The things we worried about for months, a lifetime, not even born or thought of yet."

"Safety catches off, everyone!" ordered Travis. "You, first shot, Eckels. Second, Billings, Third, Kramer."

"I've hunted tiger, wild boar, buffalo, elephant, but now, this is it," said Eckels. "I'm shaking like a kid."

"Ah," said Travis.

Everyone stopped.

Travis raised his hand. "Ahead," he whispered. "In the mist. There he is. There's His Royal Majesty now."

The jungle was wide and full of twitterings, rustlings, murmurs, and sighs.

Suddenly it all ceased, as if someone had shut a door.


A sound of thunder.

Out of the mist, one hundred yards away, came Tyrannosaurus Rex.

"It," whispered Eckels. "It......


It came on great oiled, resilient, striding legs. It towered thirty feet above half of the trees, a great evil god, folding its delicate watchmaker's claws close to its oily reptilian chest. Each lower leg was a piston, a thousand pounds of white bone, sunk in thick ropes of muscle, sheathed over in a gleam of pebbled skin like the mail of a terrible warrior. Each thigh was a ton of meat, ivory, and steel mesh. And from the great breathing cage of the upper body those two delicate arms dangled out front, arms with hands which might pick up and examine men like toys, while the snake neck coiled. And the head itself, a ton of sculptured stone, lifted easily upon the sky. Its mouth gaped, exposing a fence of teeth like daggers. Its eyes rolled, ostrich eggs, empty of all expression save hunger. It closed its mouth in a death grin. It ran, its pelvic bones crushing aside trees and bushes, its taloned feet clawing damp earth, leaving prints six inches deep wherever it settled its weight.

It ran with a gliding ballet step, far too poised and balanced for its ten tons. It moved into a sunlit area warily, its beautifully reptilian hands feeling the air.
"Why, why," Eckels twitched his mouth. "It could reach up and grab the moon."

"Sh!" Travis jerked angrily. "He hasn't seen us yet."

"It can't be killed," Eckels pronounced this verdict quietly, as if there could be no argument. He had weighed the evidence and this was his considered opinion. The rifle in his hands seemed a cap gun. "We were fools to come. This is impossible."

"Shut up!" hissed Travis.


"Turn around," commanded Travis. "Walk quietly to the Machine. We'll remit half your fee."

"I didn't realize it would be this big," said Eckels. "I miscalculated, that's all. And now I want out."

"It sees us!"

"There's the red paint on its chest!"

The Tyrant Lizard raised itself. Its armored flesh glittered like a thousand green coins. The coins, crusted with slime, steamed. In the slime, tiny insects wriggled, so that the entire body seemed to twitch and undulate, even while the monster itself did not move. It exhaled. The
stink of raw flesh blew down the wilderness.

"Get me out of here," said Eckels. "It was never like this before. I was always sure I'd come through alive. I had good guides, good safaris, and safety. This time, I figured wrong. I've met my match and admit it. This is too much for me to get hold of."

"Don't run," said Lesperance. "Turn around. Hide in the Machine."

"Yes." Eckels seemed to be numb. He looked at his feet as if trying to make them move. He gave a grunt of helplessness.


He took a few steps, blinking, shuffling.

"Not that way!"

The Monster, at the first motion, lunged forward with a terrible scream. It covered one hundred yards in six seconds. The rifles jerked up and blazed fire. A windstorm from the beast's mouth engulfed them in the stench of slime and old blood. The Monster roared, teeth glittering with sun.

The rifles cracked again, Their sound was lost in shriek and lizard thunder. The great level of the reptile's tail swung up, lashed sideways. Trees exploded in clouds of leaf and branch. The Monster twitched its jeweler's hands down to fondle at the men, to twist them in half, to crush them like berries, to cram them into its teeth and its screaming throat. Its boulderstone eyes leveled with the men. They saw themselves mirrored. They fired at the metallic eyelids and the blazing black iris,

Like a stone idol, like a mountain avalanche, Tyrannosaurus fell.

Thundering, it clutched trees, pulled them with it. It wrenched and tore the metal Path. The men flung themselves back and away. The body hit, ten tons of cold flesh and stone. The guns fired. The Monster lashed its armored tail, twitched its snake jaws, and lay still. A fount of blood spurted from its throat. Somewhere inside, a sac of fluids burst. Sickening gushes drenched the hunters. They stood, red and glistening.

The thunder faded.

The jungle was silent. After the avalanche, a green peace. After the nightmare, morning.

Billings and Kramer sat on the pathway and threw up. Travis and Lesperance stood with smoking rifles, cursing steadily. In the Time Machine, on his face, Eckels lay shivering. He had found his way back to the Path, climbed into the Machine.

Travis came walking, glanced at Eckels, took cotton gauze from a metal box, and returned to the others, who were sitting on the Path.

"Clean up."

They wiped the blood from their helmets. They began to curse too. The Monster lay, a hill of solid flesh. Within, you could hear the sighs and murmurs as the furthest chambers of it died, the organs malfunctioning, liquids running a final instant from pocket to sac to spleen, everything shutting off, closing up forever. It was like standing by a wrecked locomotive or a steam shovel at quitting time, all valves being released or levered tight. Bones cracked; the tonnage of its own flesh, off balance, dead weight, snapped the delicate forearms, caught underneath. The meat settled, quivering.

Another cracking sound. Overhead, a gigantic tree branch broke from its heavy mooring, fell. It crashed upon the dead beast with finality.

"There." Lesperance checked his watch. "Right on time. That's the giant tree that was scheduled to fall and kill this animal originally." He glanced at the two hunters. "You want the trophy picture?"


"We can't take a trophy back to the Future. The body has to stay right here where it would have died originally, so the insects, birds, and bacteria can get at it, as they were intended to. Everything in balance. The body stays. But we can take a picture of you standing near it."

The two men tried to think, but gave up, shaking their heads.

They let themselves be led along the metal Path. They sank wearily into the Machine cushions. They gazed back at the ruined Monster, the stagnating mound, where already strange reptilian birds and golden insects were busy at the steaming armor. A sound on the floor of the Time Machine stiffened them. Eckels sat there, shivering.

"I'm sorry," he said at last.

"Get up!" cried Travis.

Eckels got up.
"Go out on that Path alone," said Travis. He had his rifle pointed, "You're not coming back in the Machine. We're leaving you here!"

Lesperance seized Travis's arm. "Wait-"

"Stay out of this!" Travis shook his hand away. "This fool nearly killed us. But it isn't that so much, no. It's his shoes! Look at them! He ran off the Path. That ruins us! We'll forfeit!
Thousands of dollars of insurance! We guarantee no one leaves the Path. He left it. Oh, the fool! I'll have to report to the government. They might revoke our license to travel. Who knows what he's done to Time, to History!"

"Take it easy, all he did was kick up some dirt."

"How do we know?" cried Travis. "We don't know anything! It's all a mystery! Get out of here, Eckels!"

Eckels fumbled his shirt. "I'll pay anything. A hundred thousand dollars!"

Travis glared at Eckels' checkbook and spat. "Go out there. The Monster's next to the Path. Stick your arms up to your elbows in his mouth. Then you can come back with us."

"That's unreasonable!"

"The Monster's dead, you idiot. The bullets! The bullets can't be left behind. They don't belong in the Past; they might change anything. Here's my knife. Dig them out!"

The jungle was alive again, full of the old tremorings and bird cries. Eckels turned slowly to regard the primeval garbage dump, that hill of nightmares and terror. After a long time, like a sleepwalker he shuffled out along the Path.

He returned, shuddering, five minutes later, his arms soaked and red to the elbows. He held out his hands. Each held a number of steel bullets. Then he fell. He lay where he fell, not moving.

"You didn't have to make him do that," said Lesperance.

"Didn't I? It's too early to tell." Travis nudged the still body. "He'll live. Next time he won't go hunting game like this. Okay." He jerked his thumb wearily at Lesperance. "Switch on. Let's go home."
492. 1776. 1812.

They cleaned their hands and faces. They changed their caking shirts and pants. Eckels was up and around again, not speaking. Travis glared at him for a full ten minutes.

"Don't look at me," cried Eckels. "I haven't done anything."

"Who can tell?"

"Just ran off the Path, that's all, a little mud on my shoes-what do you want me to do-get down and pray?"

"We might need it. I'm warning you, Eckels, I might kill you yet. I've got my gun ready."

"I'm innocent. I've done nothing!"


The Machine stopped.

"Get out," said Travis.

The room was there as they had left it. But not the same as they had left it. The same man sat behind the same desk. But the same man did not quite sit behind the same desk. Travis looked around swiftly. "Everything okay here?" he snapped.

"Fine. Welcome home!"

Travis did not relax. He seemed to be looking through the one high window.

"Okay, Eckels, get out. Don't ever come back." Eckels could not move.

"You heard me," said Travis. "What're you staring at?"
Eckels stood smelling of the air, and there was a thing to the air, a chemical taint so subtle, so slight, that only a faint cry of his subliminal senses warned him it was there. The colors, white, gray, blue, orange, in the wall, in the furniture, in the sky beyond the window, were . . . were . . . . And there was a feel. His flesh twitched. His hands twitched. He stood drinking the oddness with the pores of his body. Somewhere, someone must have been screaming one of those whistles that only a dog can hear. His body screamed silence in return. Beyond this room, beyond this wall, beyond this man who was not quite the same man seated at this desk that was not quite the same desk . . . lay an entire world of streets and people. What sort of world it was now, there was no telling. He could feel them moving there, beyond the walls, almost, like so many chess pieces blown in a dry wind ....

But the immediate thing was the sign painted on the office wall, the same sign he had read earlier today on first entering. Somehow, the sign had changed:


Eckels felt himself fall into a chair. He fumbled crazily at the thick slime on his boots. He held up a clod of dirt, trembling, "No, it can't be. Not a little thing like that. No!"

Embedded in the mud, glistening green and gold and black, was a butterfly, very beautiful and very dead.

"Not a little thing like that! Not a butterfly!" cried Eckels.
It fell to the floor, an exquisite thing, a small thing that could upset balances and knock down a line of small dominoes and then big dominoes and then gigantic dominoes, all down the years across Time. Eckels' mind whirled. It couldn't change things. Killing one butterfly couldn't be that important! Could it?

His face was cold. His mouth trembled, asking: "Who - who won the presidential election yesterday?"

The man behind the desk laughed. "You joking? You know very well. Deutscher, of course! Who else? Not that fool weakling Keith. We got an iron man now, a man with guts!" The official stopped. "What's wrong?"

Eckels moaned. He dropped to his knees. He scrabbled at the golden butterfly with shaking fingers. "Can't we," he pleaded to the world, to himself, to the officials, to the Machine, "can't we take it back, can't we make it alive again? Can't we start over? Can't we-"

He did not move. Eyes shut, he waited, shivering. He heard Travis breathe loud in the room; he heard Travis shift his rifle, click the safety catch, and raise the weapon.

There was a sound of thunder.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:53 PM | |

Aloha Ow: Love, greetings, farewell, hello; from such a pain you should never know.

Oh, is it time to be politically correct again? At school? Well, if we must. . . .

Now don't any of you be offended. I mean, "euphorically-challenged."

No one fails a class any more; he's merely "passing impaired."
You don't have detention; you're just one of the "exit delayed."
Your classroom isn't too crowded; it's just "passage restrictive."
No student is lazy; he's "energentically declined." She has "dawdling issues."
Your locker isn't overflowing with junk; it's just "closure prohibitive."
Kids don't get grounded any more; they merely hit "social speed bumps."
Your homework isn't missing; it's just having an "out of notebook" experience.
You're not sleeping in class; you're 'rationing consciousness.'
You're not late, you just have a 'rescheduled arrival time.'
You're not having a bad hair day; you're suffering from 'rebellious follicle syndrome.'
You don't have smelly gym socks; you have "odor-retentive athletic footwear."
No one's tall. They are "vertically enhanced."
No one's short. They are "vertically challenged."
No one's clumsy. They are 'gravitationally challenged."
No one's shy. They are "conversationally selective."
No one's too talkative. They are "abundantly verbal."
You weren't passing notes in class. You were "participating in the discreet exchange of penned meditations."
It's not called gossip any more. It's "the speedy transmission of near-factual information."
The food in the cafeteria isn't awful. It's "digestively challenged."

All ways of NOT telling it like it is. I hate euphemisms. I've ranted about them before and every year it gets worse. We are not fooling any kids. It's easy, however, to fool their parents.

More, from an awesome teacher-website the url of which I have lost. If anyone knows it, please tell me and I'll put it right on here so she can get credit for her wit!

Molly demonstrates problems with spatial relationships.It's November and she still hasn't found her cubby.
Sarah exhibits exceptional verbal skills and an obvious propensity for social interaction.She never stops talking.
Paul's leadership qualities need to be more democratically directed. He's a bully.
Jonathan accomplishes tasks when his interest is frequently stimulated. He has the attention span of a gnat.
Donald is making progress in learning to express himself respectfully. He no longer uses vulgarities when talking back to me.
Alfred demonstrates some difficulty meeting the challenges of information retention. He'd forget his name if it wasn't taped to his desk.
Bunny needs encouragement in learning to form lasting friendships. Nobody likes her.
Kenny is working toward grade level. He may even reach it -- next year.
Joel appears to be aware of all classroom activities. He just can't focus on the one we're involved in.
Sandy seems to have difficulty distinguishing between fact and fantasy. He lies like a rug.
Allie enjoys dramatization. She may be headed for a career in show business. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus comes to mind.
Takira's creative writing skills are reminiscent of Socrates. It's all Greek to me.
Elinor is a creative problem solver. She hasn't gotten an answer right yet.
Jack demonstrates an avid interest in recreational reading. He "recreates" while other students read.
Mayrita appears to be showing an increased desire to consider demonstrating acceptable classroom behavior. She now appears to know the classroom rules. Some day she may even obey one.
Pablo participates enthusiastically in all art activities. He's especially adept at throwing pottery … and paint … and. …
Jeremy is stimulated by participation in sequential activities. He consistently insists on fighting his way to the front of the recess line.
Juanita needs more home study time. Could you please keep her home more often?
Michael demonstrates a need for guidance in the appropriate use of time. Three hours a day is entirely too much time to spend picking his nose.
David frequently appears bored and restless. You might want to consider placing him in a more challenging environment. Prison, perhaps?

Yeah, there are a million others.

Have you seen the Top Ten Politically Correct Terms for "Sin?"

10. Mostly righteous on a good day.
9. Ethically non-enlightened
8. Morally Dyslexic
7. Good (if marked on a curve)
6. Bearing a strong family resemblance to Adam.
5. Microsoft Perfection v.1.0
4. Gravitationally influenced (fallen)
3. Motown Motivated (Supremely affected by all the Temptations)
2. Living by trial and error.

(insert drum roll here)

1. Beta holiness.

Did I mention that I hate euphemisms? Euphemisms are for sissies.

I will tell you outright that I am fat, half-blind, clumsy, and dorky. Would these things change if I used different words? No. They would not. Would fancy words make me feel better? No. Spreading icing on a shitcake doesn't change anything; it just makes you madder if you bite.

I'd list some favorite government euphemisms but I ain't got all day.

It's already been a long day. A really, really long day.

You know. Mercurially AND chronologically challenged.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:55 PM | |

My people.

MY people.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:18 AM | |

Monday, August 22, 2005

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the most ignorant of them all?

First day of class.

I found the first classroom, went inside, and set it all up.

As the students are entering, I notice that their textbook doesn't look like mine. Oh, they're both green, but mine is pale green and theirs is dark green.

I didn't panic.

I had about fifteen minutes till the class began so I calmly walked out the door, down the hall, and into the elevator. I rode down to the first floor, and calmly walked down another hall to the chairman's office. I asked her about the book and she went pale. She was so incredibly sorry, she forgot to tell me that the textbook had changed. She gave me a book from her shelf and apologized again.

I didn't panic.

People make mistakes. People forget things. People are busy. It's okay, I understand. I'm not mad. That's not sarcasm, either; I'm really not mad. I really do understand. She's a lovely person and a good chairman. She just forgot.

But. . . .

That syllabus I prepared? Worthless.

I guess I can also mention that the faculty page of the college's website was down today, so I couldn't download my class rosters, but I won't.

I still didn't panic.

So I walk back down the hall, get back into the elevator, ride up to the top floor, walk down the first hall, and re-enter the classroom, which by now has filled with students.

Nameless, anonymous students, with dark green textbooks just like the new one I haven't had a chance to even open, yet.

I don't know who they are, and I've never seen the book before.

I didn't panic then, either.

We managed. And now I have to make a new syllabus.

And somehow find out their names.

Oh, please, please, faculty website, recognize my 'open sesame' and give forth your rosters of students' names that I might quickly learn them and apply them to the eager faces that stared at me so trustingly today, knowing not that for three hours this morning, I was the most ignorant of them all.

I can only hope they didn't notice.

I'm finally home. Please, may I panic now?
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:49 PM | |

Sunday, August 21, 2005

I like to get forwards from some people.

My cousin Mitzi sent this to me.

Charles Schultz Philosophy

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip. You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just read straight through, and you'll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America Contest.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winner for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember very many of the headliners of yesterday.

These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are not world-famous. They don't live in mansions. They aren't in the headlines.

The people who make a difference in your life are the ones who care.

There are people out there who have made a difference in your life. Tell them.

"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." (Charles Schultz)

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:03 PM | |

Not knowing knowledge never ennobles.

If your college instructor didn't have a syllabus ready for you on the first day of class, what would you think?

You would? Really.

Oh, okay. I'll get one ready. Tomorrow's the big day.

It's hard for me to stick to a syllabus. No matter how hard I try, a syllabus is not accurate after about four class sessions. That's one reason why I always put up a website for each class. Back in the middle school, the parents of my students could, 24/7/180, go to their child's class website and find out precisely what was done in class that day, get any assignments, and hopefully get a clue feeling about the class in general. They could always email me from the class website, too. I use the same website (Schoolnotes.com) to post my college syllabus, and any assignments. Students can also get extra credit by answering bonus questions listed on the website.

I also know teachers who won't put any contact information on their syllabus. What's with that? Sure, some people might abuse it, but most people are very considerate. If a student or parent needs to call me, let them call! I always put my home phone on the syllabus. It encourages the nice people to keep in touch. The obnoxious people will find and use your phone number anyway, folks.

I encourage it. It's part of my job, as I see my job. I do ask that they don't call at dawn, or after midnight, but why shouldn't they call if they need me for something? Helping them is my job.

Email makes it even easier. I get email from my students all the time. I still get email from students I had twenty years ago, in fact. I love it that they keep in touch.

Now that my students are at the college level, I don't hear much from their parents any more, and I miss that. Well, to clarify that statement, I miss hearing from the NICE parents. The other kind, nobody would ever miss.

I've heard lots of teachers say that their job is from 7:50 a.m. till 3:10 p.m. and after that, they want no part of it. After that, their time is their own.

Say what? Sure, we all need our own time, our own family time, down time, etc. But teaching isn't the kind of job you can just turn off like that. At least, I can't.

A good teacher isn't just an intellectual who stands behind a lecturn and spouts knowledge. A good teacher has to be more than that. A good teacher spouts more than knowledge. A good teacher tries to spout wisdom, and don't ever confuse that with mere knowledge. Wisdom, fed by knowledge, validated by experience, energized by compassion, and compounded in a cup of nurturing.

I've known teachers who didn't even know their students' name at Christmas. I find that appalling. I've also encountered parents who didn't want the school to know ANYTHING about their child beyond his name. I find that really creepy. It was a red flag. Social Services often stepped in, for those poor children, at some time during the year.

A good teacher must know more than their names.

I STILL know their names. And I also knew where they lived. I knew their parents' names. I knew the circumstances of their lives away from the school. I knew their friends. I knew their favorite song. I knew who their current crush was. I knew why they were afraid to ride the bus home after school. I knew the name of their dog. I knew what they were reading. Knowing these things helped me to find the best ways to teach them. How can a teacher not know these things?

Even now, at this level, I know these things about my students. How can a teacher truly teach, without knowing these things about their students? Everybody learns differently, and to know just how to help a student, the teacher must know these things about each student.

"I can't do that, there's no time, I have too many kids, I have a LIFE. . . . "' Oh, shut up. You can do it if you try to do it. And if you don't bother to try, please leave the profession and get some impersonal job you can leave at 5:00 and not think about till the next morning.

But all of this ranting is just me.

Administrations much prefer the "can't be bothered" type of teacher. Administrations much prefer the teachers who do their job and go home. Going that extra mile can be risky.

It sure can.

But the good ones will do it anyway.

Tomorrow morning. I'm all excited!

Because, you know, these students are going to be THRILLED out of their MINDS at the prospect of learning basic grammar and writing.

As well they should. It's fun. Really, it is.

And if it isn't, then it isn't being taught correctly.

Come on down and sit in.

Another reason I love teaching at the college level? I can do it with a diet Coke in my hand the whole time.

Coke. It's not just for breakfast any more.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:06 PM | |

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I'll be your huckleberry.

What a fun, fun day!

I drove up to Bloomington to meet her, him, and him, for lunch and we had a GREAT time! She had chosen to meet at a local restaurant landmark; I hadn't been to this place for . . . . well, a really long time.

Once inside, the years peeled back. The only noticeable difference between this pub NOW and this pub THEN was that NOW, the tv's are bigger. Oh, and the servers were a lot younger than they used to be.

And no, Belle dear, we did not hear the sounds of little lambs begging for their lives, back in the kitchens. Not this time.

How funny that to my family, a superb western movie always conjures up memories of an equally superb Greek restaurant. In this house, we can't talk about one without talking about the other. It just doesn't happen. They go together. And the conversation will include vivid sound effects.

Greek restaurants and Doc Holliday. Yes, they go together. You're a daisy if you do.

But today, the focus was on four people who had never heard of each other a year ago, and who now live in the same neighborhood, and know all about each other, and like each other a lot.

Some of us had never SEEN one another till recently (today, for example!) but we knew all about each other nonetheless. And the neighborhood in which we all live is FULL of lovely people who are all interested in each other as well, and who know, in some ways, as much if not more about each other than if the geographical distances did not exist.

The blogosphere is an awesome phenomenon. Next door is the same as the other side of the planet. All spatials have disappeared. People meet, and become friends, and those friendships are not any less real just because the friends have never actually met in person. And when blog-friends do meet, it's EXTRA wonderful. This coming Labor Day Weekend comes to mind. . . .Oh, you'll all die of sheer envy when you find out who I'm going to visit. . . . .

Isn't it long past time for a big gathering? I think so, too.

And yes, I'll be your huckleberry.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:00 PM | |

Big and Rich. Not the country band.

I'm getting ready to drive up to the city to meet some Blog Friends for lunch!!!!!

Don't you wish you were me?

Well, actually you don't want to be me. You'd weigh 900 pounds and be poor.

But, but, but, I feel RICH today because I'm going to drive up to the city to meet some Blog Friends for lunch!!!!!!!! I'm RICH!

Rich, but not thin.

I hope someone and someone else bring a camera. Hub just drove off with ours. He's going to an auction.

But I'm going to the city to have lunch with BLOG FRIENDS !!!!!

Seeya later.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:47 AM | |

Friday, August 19, 2005

"Make your mark heavy and dark." And stop that laughing, and thinking, and writing, and singing, and drawing, and innocent ananda at ONCE !

This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild,
Had Mary been filled with reason,
There'd have been no room for the child.
--by Madeleine L'Engle

School administrators puzzle me. They don't seem quite human sometimes. When they look at a group of students, what do they see? I mean, what are they really SEEING, when they look at our children?

I think they see statistics. I don't think they see children, I think they see numbers, and dollar signs. Their schools are not filled with children, they are filled with potential federal cash cows.

"Children' are not measurable. Statistics are.

I have a hard time understanding people who see progress only as a measurable statistic. I have problems with people who see creativity as a threat to order. I don't get along well with people who see rebellion as a disregard for the status quo. What a sad commentary on our society, that the movers and shakers are mown down and shackled, just when they most need to be exposed to every innovation, every wonder, every aspect of the world that can possibly be brought into the classroom.

What kind of people have we become, when attempts to guide are interpreted by those in ultimate control as journeys into perversion? When did going out of one's way to try to help someone become inappropriate? Why must everyone now be so very equalized that much individuality is lost? Of what societal or individual use is an echo?

What possible good can be accomplished by a reflection that is not one's own?

When the arts are removed completely (and they already are, in some schools; for the rest, it's just a matter of time.) to make room for more practical, measurable, easily understandable lessons in math, sports, grammar, sports, science, sports, sports, sports, PC, and sports, what will our children have to write about? And why should they bother?

Our nation isn't, to our shame, much about the intellectualism thing. (I made that sentence appalling on purpose.) It's strange to me, then, that administrations set such store by IQ's and standardized testing. An IQ cannot measure artistic ability. A high score on the ISTEP does not measure a capacity for love. Statistics are not facts. I've ranted about that before. Statistics are people, with the tears wiped off. (Professor Irving Selikoff ) This is not good. We need the tears, too. The numbers are not accurate without the tears. Or the laughter.

Tears and laughter are not measurable. Therefore they are of no use to school administrators. They want only those things that can be measured with straight numbers, by a machine.

In order to do this, things that make our children laugh or cry or sing or dance or draw or paint are no longer allowed in many of our schools. And yes, sometimes crying in school is a good thing. I've had students weep over a story in a book, or a scene in a film, or a headline in the newspaper. It's GOOD. (I'm not talking about bad things that make children cry.)

The ability to love, to be loved, to express love: can it be that these are more important than grammar, or math, or social studies? I think they are. I also believe that a good teacher can do both at once, if ever he/she is allowed to do so again.

How do we teach children to have compassion, to allow people to be different, to understand that "like" is not the same as "equal?" How do we teach our children to laugh, to love, and to accept the fact that the most important questions a human being can ask do not have - nor do they need - statistical right-or-wrong answers.

There are even "educators" (and I use the term loosely) out there who believe that creativity itself can be taught, and who write learned (hahahahaha) and usually dull, treatises and articles and textbooks on methods of teaching it. Word: If you try to eat air, you'll. . . . well, you know what happens when you eat air. What comes out usually stinks.

The creative impulse, like love, can be killed, but it can't be taught. What a teacher CAN do, in working with young people, is to give the flame enough oxygen so that it can burn. As far as I'm concerned, this providing of oxygen is one of the noblest of all vocations. Teaching out of a text so a test score will be higher is not.

In modern schools, however, the providing of oxygen is forbidden. Only the hot air of measurable statistics is permitted, because this is the only sort of thing understood by many of those in charge.

When we make complicated that which is simple, the powers of darkness rejoice.

The powers of darkness rejoice whenever a child's creative light is ignored or extinguished by a system that considers only statistics to be of merit. Not on the test? It won't be tolerated.

What a funny thing. What an ironic thing. What a joke on me. All these years, I thought my job was to teach and help young people. What a reality jolt to be told, after all these years of what people told me was success, that my job is NOT to help students, or to teach students, it is to teach spelling, grammar, and literature, and that it must be done with absolutely no delving into humanity, personality, or creativity. The language arts made rational.

It is a travesty.

And when all the glory and wonder and magic of the language are removed, there is nothing left but the very safe, very statistically provable, very politically correct picking of the bleached, sanitary bones. Our language, in all its glory, forcefully ebbing, forcefully waning, its light put under a filter so no one might see something sentient and therefore potentially controversial and unmeasurable. Our children's talents buried, hidden under a bushel, to be dug up every nine weeks for a progress check.

I guess that in today's educational mentality, dormancy is a positive; at the very least it means a child has not regressed (bad for statistics); at the very most, it means that a child has not done any thinking. (also bad for statistics.) How safe, for those in charge. Imagination, that creation of an image for one's thoughts, is the great enemy of the payroll statistician, of the elected administration, and of the population created by them.

Also, when a school's scores are low one year, and higher the next year, the school gets more money than if the scores had been high all along. Improvement has merit; being good all the time does not.

"Picture Satan in a business suit, with well-groomed horns, a superbly switching tail, a wide, salesman's grin, sitting with folded hands behind a large shiny desk, its top littered with the paper trails of many a person's demise, thinking 'Aha! If I can substitute images for reality, if I can substitute statistics for people, if I can substitute good public relations for truth, I can get a lot more people under my domination." (L'Engle)

Statistics. Scores. Public opinion. Administrative opinion. Political correctness. Euphemisms.
And by whose values is a test labeled "objective?"

An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers. To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy. Current methodology, the morbid preoccupation with scores and statistics, is destroying our society's ontology: its essence, its BEING.

It seems that when those in charge do not understand a thing, they straightaway condemn it. Simplicity itself. They are the kind of people who never understand anything unless it is told them in very plain language and hammered into their heads. And even then they understand it only with their brains and not with their hearts. Such people don't like creativity. They like facts. Facts are easy to comprehend. They take little effort. They represent money.

Money talks. Statistics mean money. What is then the most important thing to listen to? Statistics.

The whispers of creativity and love and kindness and hard work are seldom heard above the screaming of administrative-types seeking money-making statistics.

"The concentration of a child in play is analogous to the concentration of an artist of any discipline. But unless the child's output can be objectively measured, many administrators dismiss such activities and substitute activities which have a statistically measurable output." (L'Engle)

Recess is gone, in many schools. The time is needed to prepare for standardized tests. Wiggly little children have no outlet for their natural energy. They 'act up' and are punished. Helpless teachers cry out in vain for common sense and fairness and they are not heard. Such things do not exist in the world of statistics and measurements. And our children are standing in the corner, trying not to move, lest they disturb other children who are having facts crammed into their heads that they might retrieve them for the State.

I believe in testing. I'm no tree-huggin' earth mother who thinks children should sing and dig clay out of the ground for art and eat granola all day long. I believe in math and science and grammar and spelling and history.

But I also believe that these are only a partial list of things that our children need to learn, so they will become rational adults who care about others, are able to more-than-adequately take care of themselves and of others, and who know how to use their leisure time to laugh, and be enlightened.

We must never lose sight of the fact that civilizations are judged by the arts they leave behind, not for statistics and varsity letters. What will the archaeologists of the future be able to say about our civilization? That we taught our children to be joyless? That we valued a statistic far more than a painting? That we stifled laughter and encouraged apathy? "Where are the statues and paintings and stories?" Can you hear them wondering? CAN you?

It is sad but true that we are a litigious society. It is sad but true that many of the above facts originate out of fear of a lawsuit, or fear of adverse public opinion/publicity. The self-esteem police and the PC patrol are rampant, and are to be truly feared. That is sad, too.

But it is even sadder that the society which strikes the most fear into the hearts of the schools was created by this fact-finding mentality that is so prevalent today.

The saddest, and the truest, is that this is a vicious circle, and no one seems to have the intestinal fortitude to straighten it out. Indeed, as so many of us have discovered, it is too dangerous to try.

(Bonus points if you know what 'ananda' means.)
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:34 PM | |

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Playlists and old age.

I love to set my player on random.

1. ELO – Illusions in G Major
2. J-Kwon, Murphy Lee, & Chingy – Still Tipsy
3. Wilco – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
4. Nana Mouskouri – Early One Morning
5. Mark Oh – When The Children Cry
6. Dan Bern – God Said No
7. Frank Sinatra – Send In The Clowns
8. Hanna McEuen – Something Like A Broken Heart
9. Raphael Saadiq & Q Tip – Get Involved
10. Madagascar Soundtrack – I Like To Move It Move It (heavy bass mix)
11. Mississippi Children’s Choir – Thank You Lord
12. Grey DeLisle – Sweet Saviour’s Arms
13. Walter Carlos – March from “A Clockwork Orange" (Beethoven’s Ninth, Fourth Movement)
14. Jewel – Standing Still
15. The Dears – Never Destroy Us
16. Roseanne Cash & John Hiatt – One Step Over The Line
17. Sarah McLachlan – Do What You Have To Do
18. Moxy Fruvous – Billie Jean Medley
19. Incubus – Drive
20. Peter, Paul, & Mary – Boa Constrictor

How old am I? I remember when Wendy Carlos was Walter Carlos. Some of you might be wondering who Walter/Wendy Carlos is. Excellent. Wondering is good. Wondering makes you smart. I love it when people wonder.

Look it up.

Sorry, it's the teacher in me.

Plus it might take your mind off how old I am.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:01 PM | |

Peeping Toms.

For the past several days I've been getting dozens of spamails telling me that my thighs don't HAVE to look like cottage cheese.

What are these people doing, looking in my WINDOWS or something? I mean, how else would they know that?
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:23 PM | |

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Reasons why I should sue and get lots of money from people.

It's noon and I just got up. Don't tell anybody, ok? They might think I'm lazy.

I'm not really lazy. It's just that my energy only comes out at night. It's not my fault. I should not be penalized for something I can't help. I have Night Owl Syndrome (NOS) sometimes referred to as Vampiric Life Style (VLS) and I should have been receiving special treatment from my school and workplace all my life. Those schools and workplaces are set up for people who are lively in the daytime; I needed ACCOMMODATIONS for my specialness and I never got them. I should sue.

The sad thing is, I could possibly win.

Um, I also function best with a diet coke in my possession at all times. Those same schools and most of the workplaces did not allow that, and thus both my attitude and my quality of work suffered. It wasn't my fault. I had no accommodations. I should have sued.

Exceptions should have been made just for me and my preferences. It's fine with me if none of the others are allowed to do what I do; just so I get to do it. It's all about me.

Oh, I adapted. It meant that I had to try a little harder but I did it. Kind of like math; it never came easily to me so I had to work harder than some of the others to get the same results. How unfair. I should have had accommodations so I could pass without all that extra effort. Tommy in the next seat over got his math done in fifteen minutes, whereas it took me a few hours to do the exact same thing, and with fewer right answers. It just wasn't fair. The teacher made me do the assignments anyway. I should sue.

When my dad told me that since it didn't come easily, I would just have to work harder, I thought it was good advice so I did it. My math grades weren't all that good but I passed, and I passed on my own hard work and merit. It was only years later that I realized how UNFAIR he was to me. He KNEW I had numerical dyslexia and he should have demanded that I have a tutor and a reduced workload and an automatic C on my report card for sheer effort. But noooo, he made me do it all myself even though he KNEW how hard it was for me. Okay, so I eventually learned how, but still. He always stayed in the room with me, reading, and I could tell he really wanted to help me, but though he would answer a few questions, he wouldn't do it for me. The meanie. He should have accommodated me so I could go outside and play before it got dark EVERY night.

And in fourth grade when I had that awful Mrs. Webster, and I just couldn't 'get' long division, Mom taught it to me herself rather than march to school and insist that the teacher go the extra mile just for me. I'm telling you, my parents were MEAN.

I also had Locker Combination Anxiety (LCA) to such a degree that even now I still dream about standing in the hallway trying frantically to open my locker. . . . I should sue for that, too.

And my weight? That is SOOO not my fault either. I was really thin until we moved out into the country. Is it my fault that there are no amusement parks or shopping malls or friends within walking distance? No indeed, my obesity is due entirely to poor rural planning on the part of. . . . well, somebody else. Not me. With nothing but cornfields and woods surrounding me, what else could I do but take up a lifestyle of sitting in front of a computer, eating Hostess cupcakes, and riding around the lawn on a John Deere? I should sue. It's not my fault.

Sometimes my teachers gave me assignments that conflicted with Youth Group at church. I wasn't allowed to go till my homework was finished. Sometimes, I was LATE. This was so unfair. The Youth Group director tried to set up a room where we could bring our homework and do it right there before the meetings started, but a parent objected because it wasn't fair to make kids do schoolwork in a church. Thank goodness for that, because if the teachers started getting completed schoolwork on Thursday mornings, they'd expect it all the time. I mean, SHEESH. Way to go, Mrs. Thorne. Thanks for getting us off the hook with the homework room thing. In America, ONE SINGLE PERSON's objection can really make a difference. I should still sue that director for trying to make us work inside the church. I had serious running around to do in the church basement; I didn't have time for no stinkin' HOMEWORK!!! I should definitely sue.

And teachers should be ashamed of themselves when they assign homework on Varsity Ball Game nights. Who has time to do it on those nights? I mean, the games start at six and you don't get home till ten or so. And between four and five-thirty, Jerry Springer's on tv!!! Woot woot woot! And you gotta eat. As for the team, why should they do homework at all? Aren't they representing the school? Isn't that enough? Get real.

Item: If you are offended, get a life. I am NOT making fun of people with legitimate needs. But I AM poking fun at. . . .well, most of you can figure it out easily enough.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:32 PM | |

Carnival of Education !!!

The new Carnival of Education is up; wander over and catch up on things. It's a really good lineup this week.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:56 AM | |

Sunday, August 14, 2005

"He coulda been a bartender."

I was remembering something that happened in 1999, not long after Columbine, in my classroom back in my former school. . . .

8th grade.

I had a student who was really a pretty nice kid; he might have done fairly well if his mother could have left him alone and let the school do its job. He was ADHD but with the help of his medication and some patience on both our parts and a little trying on his part, he might have done well. I gave him extra time on all of his assignments, and a peaceful corner of the room in which he could retreat and work with fewer distractions, when he needed such. It was his choice whether or not to move there.

Unfortunately, it was also his choice to NOT do most of his assignments at all. It was his choice to watch tv at home, and play video games, rather than do his homework. His mother came in to talk about it, oh, maybe a hundred or so times. Maybe a thousand. Talk. She wouldn't turn off the tv or unplug the video game system, but she did love to come to school and talk to all her son's teachers about how hard he worked and how unfair it was to require things of him, and how she could never limit his tv watching because that would punish the whole family, etc.

I told her that not doing his homework was a choice he was certainly allowed to make, but that if he made that choice, he should be prepared to take the consequences.

Momzilla did not believe he should have the same consequences as the other students. He was sensitive. And besides, homework was infringing on their family time, which was basically sitting in front of the tv for five or six hours every night.

Whoops, that was a judgement on my part. Sorry. How utterly UN-PC of me.

I also mentioned to her that perhaps if he arrived at school on time, instead of fifteen to twenty minutes tardy every morning, he might not feel so rushed in my classroom.

She went off like a volcano. It was NOT his fault that he was late every morning, it was HERS. She didn't want him riding the bus because of all the mean kids that teased him, so she drove him to school every day. But she had trouble hearing her alarm clock because she liked to stay up late so most of the time she overslept and he was tardy to school.

I suggested an alarm clock for her son. She told me that as his mother, it was her responsibility to wake her children in the morning. She told me that I should be ashamed of myself for marking him tardy every morning because it wasn't his fault. She told me that if I HAD to mark someone tardy, I should mark HER tardy since she was the one responsible for the chronic lateness. I told her that I had no choice but to mark her son tardy; it was out of my hands. And I told her that I could not mark HER tardy since she was not enrolled in my class.

She said, "Well, we'll see about that one," and went downstairs.

I was told to cut the boy some slack about the lateness. It wasn't his fault.


The boy was failing anyway. I gave him every chance in the world but he set everything to the side and said he'd 'finish it at home.' Even tests, and when I went to the office to ask what to do, I was told to let him take the tests home.


I let him, but I didn't like it. And, I let him with the stipulation that he bring them back the next day or not at all. I made him sign a contract. I mailed the contract home and had Momzilla sign it. They signed.

He still didn't turn anything in. At midterm, he was failing.

Then one memorable day, Momzilla came to school again. It was the middle of Period One, and the front doors were all locked tight against a possible Columbine scenario. However, the downstairs elementary teachers had propped open a side door, and after trying all the doors she found the open one, and slipped inside the school and up the back stairs to my classroom.

She walked into the classroom without knocking and loudly tried to give me about a dozen of her son's papers, most of which had been due two or more weeks ago. Most of which had been filled out in her handwriting. I told her it was too late, and that I would not accept the papers, and that any papers done in handwriting other than her son's would not be accepted at any time.

She went berserk. She didn't exactly hit me, but she pushed me into the corner of the classroom with her finger, repeatedly "tapping" me in the chest and screaming. My students were terrified; they ran to the back of the room and crammed up against the wall with each other. The call button was on the other side of the room. I was trapped; they were paralyzed with fright, she was screaming and 'tapping' me with her finger. . . .

And then the secretary came on the loudspeaker in my room and asked me where my attendance slip was. I said, 'Send help NOW,' and a few minutes later the principal came running.

He sent me to the lounge so I could cry and stop shaking in private, and he took the mother down to the office. Another teacher took my class for the remaining few minutes of the period.

After I had calmed down, I went back and finished out the day. It was a Friday.

Saturday morning, I noticed that Momzilla had left a huge bruise on my chest with her persistently tapping, accusing finger.

Monday morning, I showed that bruise to the principal, and told him that I had been advised by friends and other teachers to press charges against Momzilla. He told me not to do so, because the school was going to take care of the issue for me. I agreed, and thanked him.

The next morning, Momzilla was back in the office, grading papers and xeroxing coloring book pages for the elementary teachers.

I asked the principal about that. He told me that she said she was sorry.


I had a classroom of traumatized 13-year-olds, and a bruise the size of a baseball on my chest, but it was now okay because she was SORRY?

That's right. Nothing else was ever done.

She was a fixture in the school all the rest of the year.

I had another teacher grade and record all his work for the remainder of the year, lest she accuse me of cheating him out of points. He failed the class. In fact, he failed everything. Of course, he went on to high school anyway, but don't even get me started on that policy.

On Honor Day, the principal gave Momzilla an award because she had been so helpful.

Public school.

This is only one of many memorable happenings. When I think about it, I'm not sure why I loved and protected and made allowances for so many things when I was there.

I don't think I've mentioned recently how much I love my current job?

I ADORE my job.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:54 PM | |

Saturday, August 13, 2005

This 'quietness" is making me crazier than I already was.

How do people cope with soul-deadening silence peace and quiet?

Ben and Christophe had to leave before I was finished loving on them! I hope they come back soon and stay a really long time. Move in. Never leave. I'm not kidding. Pictures to follow.

It was so nice to have a chattery little child in the house. A smart, sweet, extremely well-mannered chattery little child: nothing better. You're doing a good job, Ben. Tell your mother I said so. (I love her, too!)

Here is the playlist that came up this afternoon. Look, Mango, no Moxy Fruvous this time!

Gosh. It doesn't seem right not to have even one of my favorite band's songs on a random playlist. How very. . . . random. Oh well, one must be truthful about one's random playlist.

1. Red Elvises – Lonely Highway of Love
2. Robbie Williams – Undone
3. Ben Folds – Golden Slumbers
4. Bono and Frank Sinatra – I’ve Got You Under My Skin
5. Brak and The Chieftains – I’ll Tell Me Ma
6. Chevelle – Closure
7. Eva Cassidy – Tennessee Waltz
8. Irish Tenors – Amazing Grace
9. Pulp – Common People
10. Ray Stevens – Mississippi Squirrel Revival
11. Weezer – We’re All On Drugs
12. Lily Lanken – Alice Blue Gown
13. Beth Orton and Ben Harper – Love Like Laughter
14. Ataris – Boys of Summer
15. Beck – Golden Age
16. Jamie Cullum and Katie Melua – Love Cats
17. The Smiths and Morrisey – I Am The Sun, I Am The Air
18. Josh Groban – Remember When It Rained
19. Chrono Trigger – Magus’s Theme
20. Norah Jones and Adam Levy – Love Me Tender

Just to let you know, I'm listening to the Happy Happy Joy Joy song as we speak. It missed the cut by one.

Oops, now it's the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, with "Beethoven's Last Night."

I love musical randomness.

Belle and I watched a little of the meteor shower from the back patio last night; it was beautifiul. We didn't stay out very long, only a few minutes, because of the intense humidity which in turn attracted BUGS, but what little we saw was awesome.

She's still here but is getting ready to go to work. We've been burning cd's for each other.

Oh, and I listened to my MixMania cd to proof it; whoever gets mine: it works. Jim's themes (the latest one is "Driving Music") are always awesome, and his coordination of the whole thing is fantastic. I hope everyone who participates remembers to thank him for all that work.

Now I must go into the kitchen and get out all the leftovers. I'll take the long route through the living room so I can admire the vacuumed carpets before the dust starts to settle on them again.

Leftover BBQ pork tenderloin, potato salad, sliced tomatoes, and corn on the cob.

Come on over.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:56 PM | |


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