Thursday, October 26, 2006

i'm not that asshole

okay, so all that stuff i said about those kids getting on my nerves and me doing a count down til the end of my student teaching experience...chuck it all. i love these little critters (today). so first and second periods were par for the course--kids jumping and screaming and getting merry like christmas (maya angelou anyone?). then fifth rolls around. now let me give some background: first period is a freshman class and my least favorite; having an alright time during first is no spectacular thing. second is my lone junior class; they're sometimey--there's a lot of love and hate there. fourth is another freshman class, and contains of strange mix of the quiet and the snarky; they're fine. and then you have fifth (yet another freshman class). this class is my clear favorite. they're hilarious and smart and gregarious and a little kooky, everything that freshmen should be. in this class are many characters; one, in particular, is a boy we shall call clem. clem has severe anxiety issues, like he hasn't been diagnosed, but we (my cooperating teacher and i) know that he has asperger's. he expects absolute perfection of himself and can never just let something lie; all assignments have to be done correctly the first yesterday, i passed back the freshmen's first real paper, the one where they were required to identify a theme and support it with their chosen text. now clem didn't do so well; he didn't do so poorly either, but that's not the point. yesterday, while trying to explain to him that he needn't worry about not having gotten the whole theme paper thing right away, he started crying. now i'm a cold mickeyfrickey with a heart of stone, but the sight of some fourteen year-old kid leaking at the eyes was too much for me to handle; i felt horrible. i tried to assuage his fears and told him to simply go home and work on the things that i had clearly identified as problems. "fine," he says, and i feel better. he feels better, too; he now has a plan of action. fast forward to today. now while his classmates are acting like crazy people, he's still shook about this paper. he is unable to let this paper occupy a smaller part of his existence. "it's driving me crazy," he says. i then launch into this exhaustive explanation and demonstration of how to rewrite, restructure, rework his paper. he smiles. he says, "thank you, ms. ellis." he makes an extra effort to tell me to have a nice day when he leaves. his anxiety has been eased, at least for now. i feel all warm and shit. i am an absolute softie.

in other news, and in an effort to toot my horn even louder, some random student who does not have me tells me that she's heard that i am an excellent teacher (pronoun soup), that she's heard from several students that i "rock." dude, i so needed that. these past two months have been really trying. i can do stuff. i'm a pretty confident person. i believe in my abilities. however, performance (as my first blog entry reveals) really isn't my thing (unless, of course, i've had four vodka-cranberries, rum and cokes or apple martinis and am at or near a karaoke bar). i've really struggled with transmitting the stuff i know, making it palatable and somewhat interesting, and making the kids give a damn. i remember high school. a lot of my teachers sucked balls. i do not want to be that teacher. it's good to know that at least to some kids i'm not that asshole. exhale.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

mouth goo

i've decided to be really pretentious today. this post will not mention meat today; meat is too real, too resonant of being and bodies and tangibility. no, this entry shall contain the delicate soup of truth, shall be composed of those things we consume only because we believe we're better for doing so (sorta like reading "important" novels and giving up comfortable seats to the pregnant and elderly). it--the soup--shall contain organic leafy greens and spices purchased from trader joe's (when aldi is right down the block). it shall boil in a stainless steel pot of the finest quality even though the local k-mart sells a pretty good martha stewart soup pot for fourteen bucks. it shall be flavored with red wine though this adds nothing to the overall flavor. it shall entice the nostrils to sniff (SNIFF!!!) the wondrous flavors therein, though it'll probably disappoint in both nutritional value and taste. you dummies should've ordered the turkey club (and stopped reading when i used the phrase "delicate soup of truth").

see how easy it is to be pretentious? that was fun. it's much harder to be sincere. i'm actually not feeling all hilarious like my crazy soup story. i'm feeling rather serious these days and for those who know me this isn't good. seriousness can be pensive or helpful or maturing, but my seriousness is an annoying transient with wet bread crumbs in the corners of his mouth; i can't focus too long on anything important cuz i'm too disgusted by the moist goo on his lips. i'm still not making sense here. anyone up for shopping? buying shit always sorts things out for me.

i've done nothing especially important today. my freshmen are working on a two-week mythology project that requires very little from me. my juniors will be tested on early and middle british history tomorrow. i'm anticipating their anger with not being prepared. how many times do i have to tell them to take advantage of my help before i decide to shut up? after that, we're reading "the scottish play." apparently (and i'm supposedly a failure as an english major for not knowing this), referring to macbeth by its actual name is bad luck if you do so in a theater. i'm sure that i've seen a production of macbeth in a theater and i'm also quite sure that i've uttered its name in said theater. this explains a lot. here i was thinking all my shitty moments were part of the necessary balancing act of the universe when in actuality i brought them all on myself. good grief (charlie brown face).

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I haven't felt like blogging, so I haven't. It kinda sucks that after only three days of commitment I've devolved into the querida of yore. that last sentence was too work intensive; using proper capitalization is extra work. i'm watching the texas chainsaw massacre under duress. on one hand, i love this movie (it reminds me of and the first two evil dead movies) and i enjoy watching it. on the other hand, i don't want tomorrow to come and the more i watch, the more time will pass, which will signal the end of this wonderful day of non-effort and the beginning of tomorrow's stress-filled uncertainty. plus, they (fuse n nem) keep cutting the gory details of the kills. hello! the movie has massacre in the title; i think we're entitled to some close-ups of bone chunks and human bits.

i've officially reached the point where i'm counting down to the end of this experience. it's been about seven weeks and i've been a properly restrained emotional blank, but these kids are getting on my nerves. there, i've said i guess i'm happy to be having an imperfect experience to prepare me for the undoubtedly more stressful two years ahead, but fuckems. i'll stop there; i feel a whining fit coming on and i hate whining.

back to leatherface though. he is really putting a hurtin' on these silly little hippies. he was a fantastic villian--dimwitted but creative, portly but swift--a real villain's villain. plus, he actually did things with the carcasses--lamps, sculpture, eats; he really had a knack for recycling. hats off to you leatherface!!! you were a true champ.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hambone Redux/Let's Move On

okay, so i totally feel the need to somehow put yesterday's events in perspective. after reading the slew of comments on "hambone" (two. i received two comments), i feel the need to point out that the brer rabbit incident really wasn't an issue. i simply like to be fastidious about possibly coonish moments. for example, shmoe-digga, monica and i tend to look down upon those who eat chicken (prepared in any manner) in public. we also disallow ourselves from eating or drinking any sort of watermelon product in public. see? it really is quite ridiculous. anyway, my kids (my freshmen) are sophisticated enough to understand context and know that dialect is not indicative of any sort of deficiency in intelligence. today's discussion of american culture (that of individuality and me, me, me) and the reception of american culture by outsiders proved to me that they get it, especially when some poor kid got checked for framing a comment about the immigration issue in a less than cultivated manner. these kids really are sharp, man. fifth period, especially, really makes me happy that some people chose to procreate. after identifying archetypes that commonly appear in american media and tradition, they were still able to understand that these archetypes are not the apotheosis of culturally transmitted images. they, in all their 14 year-old glory, understood and expressed (nearly unprompted) that culture, belief and experience are pretty relative and that there is not necessarily a right or wrong. one kid even knew who ed gein was; we enjoyed a delightful aside about sexually-repressed serial killers and their place in the horror movie canon. yay! (not yea, monica, yay).
to move on, i'm still stressed everyday. this teaching stuff is hard and crap. how am i supposed to teach someone how to write? i can teach them mechanics--annoy them when they splice commas and bloody their papers when they use personal pronouns in formal papers, but i can't teach them style. looking over their first thesis papers, i'm surprised some of them can speak. stuff like, "i think the theme of this book is that people are really nice and then something bad happens and then they are not nice anymore" doesn't cut it. i need a theme, sweetie--an identifiable thread that you found throughout the book and can support. i cares not whether you thought one of the characters was really pretty (how can you see them anyway?). i guess they really are 14.
in other news, i want some ribs.

Monday, October 16, 2006


so all you "people of color" will be glad to know that i set the race back about 210 years today. in my freshman english class, we started a unit on mythology today. eventually, the kids will have to present the mythology of certain cultures on their own, so i figured i'd do a little modelling. emulating the mammies of days past, i decided i'd have the kids crowd around while i read an uncle remus brer rabbit tale in, get this, southern dialect. that's right, good ole q read in her best southern slave voice as the chilluns (mostly caucasian, hispanic and asian) gathered round and marvelled at my ability to sound so "country." it was fun. maybe i'll fry chicken in class tomorrow.

okay, so i might be overreacting. i will say that i did feel a bit weird though.
so schmoe-digga and i went to macarthur's today. it was a lot nicer than i expected (the restaurant, i mean). i was ready to pull up to some ramshackle hole-in-the-wall with a dilapidated awning. instead, i found an oasis of rather attractive appearance serviced by tired women ready to girl bye me; i was quite surprised. all in all the experience was okay. some asshole who looked like preemo's slightly smarmy older brother took the last bbq ribs so i had to settle for the bbq chicken. it was tasty, but i can do just as well at home. the yams and macaroni were adequate; but again, i can do better. i will go back for the short ribs, though. i do love the short rib.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

greasy, fat meat--an introduction

this is funny, my having a blog and all. some years ago, i had a webpage, but failed to continue updating it because i fell into a depression and am a generally lazy person. it was called "the fruity pork page," which begs the question, "why am i so obsessed with meat?" that's a completely separate discussion, but here i am again, spilling my guts under the guise of extolling the virtues of various meat products. here again because i have recently embarked on the path of real adulthood, and i'm scared shitless. see, on september 5 i began student teaching, which is supposed to prepare me for actual teaching, which will be my vocation until i die in a freak accident or decide that i just can't do it anymore. for once, i'm not just working a job because it's fun and/or easy or because i need money to buy the overpriced and strangely placating consumables that i love so. i'm actually preparing to do something i've worked quite hard for and will be held accountable for, so yeah...i need to blog; and since i really don't have any friends anymore, i figured i'd share with the hollow and acquiescent web universe and strangers who don't know me from adam.

one instantly apparent aspect of teaching involves performance, is performance. when i decided to be a teacher, i never realized how much of the salesman, the court jester, the entertainer i'd have to be on a regular and consistent basis. i'm a moody, obstinate cow; i talk to people when i feel like it (rarely), never answer the phone, and have ruined a number of relationships through simple silence--the consummate performer, the gregarious funambulist i am not. now, though, it is up to me to make the sterile realm of English literature palatable and exciting to a bunch of teenagers. who am i kidding? i was once a teen-aged high school student; i hated it. however, i have put myself in the position to somehow re-write history and make the impossible possible. follow me as i fail (or not) and slowly become the cantankerous she-devil all English high school teachers eventually morph into after years in the system (unless they're male in which case they become he-devils). enjoy!