Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh, and also, too

I may have mentioned this before, but Black Orpheus remains the most lovely, beautiful, elegant, touching, whimsical film ever, EVER. Although it is my very favorite movie, I don't watch it very often, and I wonder why until I next view it. Then I remember just how very sad it is, hopeful and often funny but sad, and then I put it aside for another long passage of time, until I forget how sad it really is. Later I watch it yet again, and again grow surprised at my own weepiness.

What a perfect soundtrack it has, too. Tristeza nao tem fim...


My research paper on the legislative roots of NCLB is now, at long last, at the point where Dubya is going to take office and reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act under the name No Child Left Behind. What a journey it's been, from Sputnik and Brown v. Board of Education, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the origin of ESEA in '65, leaping ahead to Reagan (crazy, crazy Reagan), Bush I, and Bill Clinton. The influence of governors, the influence of corporations, the influences of the Cold War and civil rights...Sigh.

After we tidy up Bush and the current Act, we'll speculate about Obama, fix the references, and hopefully call it a day.

Then I'll need to finish my thesis proposal. Thankfully, that's in pretty good shape.

Thanksgiving has been like this: Type-eat-read, type-read-eat, type-check email-procrastinate, read-read-type, type, type.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving!


PS I keep thinking it's Christmas for some reason.
PPS Highly recommend these cookies.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wearing red.

I am wearing red today, to see if it might "melt off the fat". I'm not any thinner yet, but I do believe it plays a little psychological trick. My red scarf is like a red string around the finger, a reminder of my intent not to visit the vending machine, a reminder to take those few extra steps.

Those magickal people are clever, even if they don't know why.

All I'm askin' is for a little RE RE RE RE

Three girls, around age 13 or 14, were incredibly disrespectful today. It amazes me, given the high premium placed on respect in teen culture, that some kids do not understand that they need to give respect. I told them as much: That I treat them with respect and expect the same. They had Evil in their eyes today, though; they were possessed with some demon of adolescence. Hence, two girls who had been "mostly good" with a side of "not doing much work" rapidly elevated their stature to "major pain in the ass". One had me so angry, somehow, through some adolescent demoncraft, that I was consciously avoiding telling her just what a f-ing pain she was being. Consciously restraining myself from cursing at a student--NICE. Trust me that I was provoked. Then their friend who is not very bright and just follows along joined in the fun and was sent to the assistant principal to join her belligerent friends.

Then a kid puked in my class, right after returning from the nurse with a headache. He looked gray! Poor guy. Poor us, cleaning it up.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Oh, is THAT all I had to do?

My appetite--especially for sweets--increases fourfold in the winter. I Googled "Winter Weight Management" for tips on preventing the creeping hibernation belly, and the first result is, er, surprising.

Still. I'm totally going to wear red. Any little bit.


that's pronounced "khi-mai", is the most beautiful language in the world. Now I'm lucky enough to hear it almost every day at work, where about half of the children speak Khmer as their native tongue.

Even the writing is beautiful.

Of course, I am open to the possibility that I'm enamored with this Cambodian language largely because I can't understand what the kids are saying in it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A brief moment of complaint.

I think I'm getting a cold. I also am definitely getting my period soon. Altogether, I feel foggy, tired, stuffy, sniffly, sneezy, and irritable. And hungry. The "hungry" bit is all PMS.

Plus, I have a lot of work, and it seems like many friendly souls cannot comprehend the idea that I really, truly cannot do anything except substitute teaching and grad school work until Dec 6. Really. TRULY.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Debate topic: Chocolate chip cookies.

Soft or crispy? Support your answer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ths positive side of winter.

Sure, my hands were as cold as death as I tried to type in the library, and yes, the pitch-black world pressed against the windows at 4 PM, but, hey!, let's try to find some positive things about this godforsaken time of year.

Ruby red grapefruit is in season!
Maybe I'll snowshoe soon!
Lips are chapped! (Sorry--not positive!)
Soup and bread!
That special clear quality of sunlight when it appears for half an hour!
The Nutcracker Suite!
Fluffy bathrobe!
The shower: That happy warm place with moisture in the air!

Come to think of it, maybe I'll just stay in the shower until April. Hand me a grapefruit once in a while, would you? I'll pipe in The Nutcraker.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUP. And on being a lump.

I made a simple cabbage soup from the French Farmhouse Cookbook this evening. It was elegant, hearty, warming, and delicious.

In other news: It is dark and cold and I am becoming a lump. Though in fairness to myself, I did take a 30 minute walk yesterday, when school let out but before the sun went down, and I did about 30 minutes of yoga, as well. But then I stayed up too late and woke up too early. As a result, today I was sleep-deprived while minding 8th graders, and when I came home I fell asleep on the couch without much ado. Upon waking, I peeled myself off the couch and made soup while G. went to volleyball alone. (My rotator cuff is Not Quite Right. I could certainly use the exercise and the leaving-the-house, but my shoulder needs to work into old age.) He came home, we ate soup, we watched The Mentalist, and here we all are.

I had grand plans to exercise and to do some work for my classes. But I am foggy-minded today, and it's cold out. I feel all the more lumpish because my husband went to volleyball and came back energized, but I just puttered around.

The soup was probably my crowning achievement for the day. I'm trying to decide whether that's sad or not.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hurray, it's cold enough to bake.

I'm mixin' it up and putting some cornmeal into a white bread recipe. More fun than adding whole wheat! Tomorrow I'll make a French-style cabbage soup to go with it.

I've also become a chutney-makin' fool. This recipe for cranberry chutney is incredible, though I would either leave out the onions or add them at the beginning to give them time to soften. I also left out the celery. I love chutney, I love cranberry sauce, and to have their perfect lovechild gracing my fridge is...NOM.

Ms. F, are you married?

...asked one of the 7th grade boys today. They were lined up to return from library to homeroom. We were waiting for one slow child, and the kids in front of the line noticed my rings.

I said that yes, I was married.

"To who?"

"My husband."

"No, what kind?"

"Oh! Part English, part French..."

"Where's he from? Is he from here?"

"He's from Connecticut. His dad was from Oklahoma, though."

The exoticism of Oklahoma and its cultural distance from New England did not impress the Cambodian kids. Go figure.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How does one clean house, again?

My parents invited themselves over for a visit. The condo is a mess. I don't remember how cleaning works.

...We have been busy lately.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh, the things children say.

The kids at my school are indignant when reprimanded. They have good reason. As one pointed out, "You're just like Ms H--you don't like Asians!" Yes, yes, that's it. I don't like Asians. The truth is, I can't really tell the Cambodians apart from the Hispanics at this school. Most of their names--Shaidiamond? Chansolida? Jeessell?--are not (to me) obviously from any linguistic group. In both ethnic groups, girls tend to wear gold bracelets and hoop earrings. The kids wear school uniforms. Except for a few children obvious in their appearance or in their names (the two Carloses and the two Rafaels, for example, have names that reveal their backgrounds), I cannot guess who is what.

Also: If I disliked Asians, why would I work at a school that is 50% Asian? If I disliked Hispanics, why would I work at a school where the remainder is Hispanic?

Moving on.

Many of the kids seem to have a short circuit in the "consequences" section of their brains. Ergo, when I reprimand one, I often receive the charming response, "Why you pickin' on me?" If my answer is not to the offended child's satisfaction, he often rewards me by saying, "Woooooowwwwwwwww," in exasperated, indignant disbelief at the injustices inflicted upon his poor soul by a soulless substitute teacher.

I say "he", because the girls are more likely to stare at me with an evil, defiant glint in their eyes and repeat the offending behavior, rather than arguing with me, the teacher. Perhaps they are smarter. I'm not convinced that is the case, however. I think that these kids have developed their own gender norms for misbehavior protocol.

It is interesting, this anthropology of adolescents.

Oh, and also! One charming young man called me a bitch and said he hated his fucking school in front of the vice principal, immediately after being released from the vp's office for another offense! Needless to say, he did not make it back to my class that afternoon.

PS Nonetheless, I maintain that 7th grade is way more fun than 1st.

Spent the end of my workday on "soft lockdown".

How was your day?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Interesting factoid uncovered researching NCLB.

The youngest Bush brother, Neil--the Stephen Baldwin of the Bush outfit--owns a test prep and educational software company! Yessiree, he does. I'm sure it's all above-board and NCLB's high-stakes testing has nothing to do with this.

Oh wait, maybe it does.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Guess who's lacking focus and slightly overwhelmed?


I have a lot to do before the term ends on Dec. 6. If you see me blogging too much here when I should be a writing research paper and working on my thesis, please tell me in the comments to go back to work.

Love and thanks,

Monday, November 10, 2008


You may recall that I was nervous about leaving my job of seven years. I was afraid I'd miss it, that I'd discover it was really my life's work.

Turns out? Not my life's work. Do not miss it at all.

Of course, I miss many of my friends. They also email me to say how I'm missed. They STILL have not hired someone for my position. It has now been 7 weeks since I gave notice. Silly.

A List of Things I Do Not Miss about My Former Job:
  1. Should I have capitalized "about" in the above title-case header? Who gives a f^ck?
  2. A colleague informed me today that my former office again smells like dead rat.
  3. They still haven't replaced me? WTF? Get it together, people!
  4. Anal-retentive colleagues with control issues telling me what to do.
  5. Monday morning status meeting. Ye gods, that thing was heinous. The tension!
  6. The tension! The tension!
  7. The steady march of corporatization on the culture and expectations of a formerly small, family-owned publisher.
    7a. Squeezing vendors for every last dime.
    7b. While knowing that said vendors have not received a salary increase in years.
    7c. And that many have had drastic layoffs.
    7d. Managers now must sign off on everything, up to and including wiping your ass.
    7e. Listing monthly "wins". That really was the last nail in the coffin for me.
  8. Boredom. Hours and hours of daily, grinding tedium. The days were sooooooo loooong.
    8a. It's not as if I wasn't busy. I was constantly, completely overloaded with work, and bored to tears by all of it.
  9. Crushing workload. CRUSH-ING.
  10. Although my colleagues are nice people, and many are friends, they are the most neurotic group of individuals you could hope to collect under one roof. Everyone is full of hang-ups. Every conversation could suddenly turn awkward for no apparent reason. See also #4.
  11. Being grossly underpaid.
  12. Pretty much everything about my former job: I do not miss it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Brighter Day Will Come.

I find this video a stirring tribute to the President-Elect.

Meme from Ann: One Word Each.

Where is your mobile phone? Somewhere
Where is your significant other? Bathroom
Your hair color? Brown
Your mother? Mom
Your father? Dad
Your favorite thing? Cats
Your dream last night? Forget
Your dream goal? Homeownership
The room you're in? Office
Your hobby? Cooking
Your fear? Falling
Where do you want to be in 6 years? Present
Where were you last night? Nia
What you're not? Dogmatic
One of your wish-list items? Travel
Where you grew up? Dighton
The last thing you did? Exhale
What are you wearing? Clothes
Your TV? HD
Your pets? Cats!
Your computer? PC :(
Your mood? Fatigued
Missing someone? Unsure
Your car? "Shelley"
Something you're not wearing? Shoes
Favorite shop? Local
Your summer? Short
Love someone? Much
Your favorite colour? Pink
When is the last time you laughed? Today
When is the last time you cried? Election

Friday, November 7, 2008

And now, a word from Protagoras.

Concerning the gods, I have no means of knowing whether they exist or not or of what sort they may be, because of the obscurity of the subject, and the brevity of human life.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fifth Grade: Really Great.

Of course, it helped that I was in a very different school, a school in an affluent suburb with a normal-length school day, rather than school in a poor city with an 8-hour school day. (Ignore my misplaced modifiers. I know they are there, but lack the reserves for revision.)

I know that the extended school day is a theoretical boon to students, and I concede that the children may be better off at school than at home alone, or wherever else they might go after a short day. However, my experience thus far is that kids cannot handle 8 hours. They become tired, cranky, belligerent. Even with breaks such as enrichment activities and recess, they become overstimulated. It is too much for their young minds and growing bodies. A six-year-old burst into tears on Tuesday because, in the 7th hour of school, he missed his mommy and daddy. Another six-year-old started crying because she missed her brother by hour six. The seventh-graders just got distracted and mean.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Seventh Grade: Much Better.

Oh, there were miserable, evil pre-adolescents, to be sure. However, no one mauled me in a desperate, needy plea for attention. No one tattled. No one cried! There was no crying!! It was excellent. It was a little slice of educational heaven. Well, not quite heaven...but it was much, much better.

The other teachers were friendly and helpful, too. In first grade, not so much.

Hurray for seventh!

Happy Liberal Christmas to All!

I love to see blue.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Christmas in November

Election Day. There is a current in the air just like Christmas. A buzz, an excitement, a nervousness. I hope that Santa is good to the Liberals.

I'm making Election Day brownies and oolong tea. How are you celebrating?

First Grade Sucks.

There is whining. There is tattling. There is grabbing the teacher with grubby little hands of neediness every time she walks by. There is more tattling. There's the sick girl who has to come home. There is forgetting hats, coats, gloves, anon at cafeteria, office, gym, anon. There is lots of noise, and more noise. There is more grabbing the teacher. There's a lot of crying after lunch, when the kids are tired.

There is NOT a lot of listening.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Beginning, Part 2.

Oh, dear. I've been called in to teach FIRST GRADE tomorrow.

Oh, dear.

Oh, dear me.

I'm a dork.

A reference librarian was able to track down an article for me. When the pdf arrived in my inbox, it was like Christmas morning. Title? Peer-Peer Interaction between L2 Learners of Different Proficiency Levels: Their Interactions and Reflections

It is official: Dork dork dork.

The Beginning.

No call came requesting my substitute services for today, so I have a chance to--get this!--get some work done for my master's classes. The Assessment class, in particular, has me feeling buried. I'm doing a much better job keeping up with my thesis, because I chose (as my advisor suggested) a topic which I would dream, eat, and breathe. It amuses me to realize that I've been procrastinating my Assessment work by...working on my thesis.

The last few weeks, I've had NO TIME to help out around our little condo. My cooking night? Pizza it is. Dust bunnies? Let 'em breed. Hungry cats? G. can feed 'em. I am therefore happy, really so very happy that it's silly, that I will have time today to do all the grocery shopping for the week AND have chili on the stove by dinner time. I might even whip up a cake, if I'm feeling crazy. And do some laundry! Imagine! I really want G. to come home and just be able to relax, because he has had to do ALL the chores lately, and he deserves some spoiling.

OK, it's time for me to carry on with my day. I'm keeping a log of how I spend my time to prevent dawdling on the Intertubes.