Sunday, November 30, 2008

I will not let winter bother me this year

I seem to struggle a little bit in the winter. I like to sleep more. I like to not deal with people more. I think that while I seem to be a relatively social person on the outside, I like large amounts of time to be alone and this is especially apparent in the winter. Last winter I didn't really have to worry about this because I saw the same 22 people every day, all day, and sometimes the large part of the night. Parts of my personal life were at an all time high and other parts were as low as they could possibly be. I didn't have time to think about hibernation or all the gray and darkness outside. It was a wonderful, draining, terrible and exhausting feeling.

This year, I seem to be doing well during the week, since I'm generally too busy to think about much else except work. But the weekends are starting to get to me. So, to combat this, I have created a playlist that is both happy, but has a touch of that melancholy feeling I seem to like having in the winter. I listened to it three full times in the car yesterday. It's an interesting story why:

I went out Friday (I don't know what I was thinking; I needed new bath towels). I walked by Victoria's Secret and they were having a sale. I bought two things and they gave me this ugly free bag, which I said I didn't want. When I got home I checked my bank statement and there was a $90 purchase pending. I couldn't figure out what that was. At this point, I had cut the tags off my two things and emptied all my bags. I found the Victoria's Secret receipt and saw that my two things were what cost me $90. I nearly fainted thinking I paid $90 for two bras. So I took the receipt and bras back to the store yesterday. They told me they couldn't return them without the tags on them. I pointed out the style number (since I know how retail works as an expert employee at Gap) and asked why they couldn't just type that into the register. Apparently it doesn't work that way for their store. I went home, dug out the tags from the garbage, and went back. This time they told me I needed to have the free bag I got too. I swear, if I could have developed a tick in my eye, it would have been now. I went home AGAIN and dug the bag out of the garbage and brought it all back. I don't think there was anything more I'd rather do on a Saturday afternoon than drive to the mall three times.

Here's my playlist (I tried to pick odd videos for them):

1. "Whatever Happened?" - The Strokes (Room on Fire)
2. "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)" - Mika (Life in Cartoon Motion)
3. "I Don't Feel Like Dancing" - Scissor Sister (Ta-Dah)
4. "The Model" - Belle and Sebastian (Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant)
5. "The Boys Are Too Refined" - The Hush Sound (Goodbye Blues)
6. "Tears Dry On Their Own" - Amy Winehouse (Back To Black)
7. "Tell Me What You Want" - The Pippettes (We Are The Pippettes)
8. "Turn Off The Lights" - Nelly Furtado (Whoa, Nelly!)
9. "The Enemy Guns" - DeVotchKa (How It Ends)
10. "Luv (Sic) Pt. 3 (Feat. Shing02) - Nujabes (Modal Soul)
11. "New Soul" - Yael Naim (Yael Naim)
12. "She Moves In Her Own Way" - The Kooks (Inside In/Inside Out)
13. "Coming Home" - The 88 (Over And Over)
14. "If Looks Could Kill" - Camera Obscura (Let's Get Out Of This Country)
15. "When You Were Young" - The Killers (Sam's Town)
16. "How To Be Dead" - Snow Patrol (Final Straw)
17. "This Modern Love" - Bloc Party (Silent Alarm)
18. "You Were Right" - Badly Drawn Boy (Have You Fed The Fish?)
19. "Don't I Hold You" - Wheat (Hope and Adams)
20. "Chicago" - Sufjan Stevens (Illinois)

Monday, November 24, 2008

My cool points have significantly increased

Thank you, again, Rick Beach for being the master of all that is technologically relevant in the classroom. You may or may not recall a project in which my wonderful accomplice and I did a class project on covers last fall. Here it is, if you don't remember, or don't feel like reading posts from a year ago: What makes an awesome cover song?

Last week, we did a unit on voice, part of the 6 + 1 Traits of writing. Andrea, it's your favorite topic. No, they're not called the 7 Traits of writing; 6 + 1, remember? So, in order to understand voice, which is more or less the way (tone and word choice) the writer uses to write something, I brought in music. I asked if students ever turned on the radio, without any prior knowledge to the song playing, and knew who was performing it.

This is where my cover project came in. Sort of. So in order to understand voice and how no two people will ever write the same paper because of it, I made a cd of three different songs, performed by several different people. My playlist is as follows. I will say, that when we got to Rufus Wainwright's version of "Hallelujah," they were quite impressed that I was aware of current music and movies, since that version was on Shrek 3 or 10 (I don't remember which). They also loved that not only did I know who Britney Spears was, but I had awesome covers of her music and they liked that I loved The Beatles. I know, I just all around rock.

"Across the Universe"


"Baby One More Time"

Oh, and my students wanted to know if Fiona Apple was like Britney Spears. This is exactly how I described Fiona Apple: "She's kind of a crazy woman. And I don't mean crazy as in 'rock and roll crazy.' I mean crazy as in 'the old woman that shuts herself up in her apartment with 15 cats.' "

Monday, November 17, 2008

On Feeling Alive

This past Friday I helped host a school dance. I was more or less dreading this after the ungodly displays of affection at the prom last year, but it ended up being pretty innocent. A few of my students created their own dance and tried to get as many people involved in it as they could. At one point they had this massive circle that was so packed, people had to push and squeeze their way into it. A lot of students, namely boys, played dodge ball and Guitar Hero. Ping pong boy, from a previous post, challenged me to a game of ping pong, since tables were set up, and soundly beat me. He said I wasn't that bad though (he may have just been trying to be nice).

While watching the students on the dance floor, and sometimes partaking, I got an old familiar feeling I used to get when I was in high school and college. "Dance Floor Anthem" came on. The kids started jumping up and down to the song, and I felt it instantly. It was the need to feel alive.

Obviously, we're all alive, thinking and breathing. But there are moments in my life where I've desperately needed to feel it. This often meant committing some rash act that may or may not have endangered my life. For example, I needed to feel alive, so I pierced my ears three times at once. I needed to feel alive, so my friend and I chased every large wave on the lake in an attempt to flip over her jet ski.

I saw this moment in a more touching light on Friday. The kids danced to the song so close, moving against and around other people, touching their hands while they were reaching up in the air. They needed to feel alive with each other. It wasn't the kind of feeling that made me want to remind myself that yes, I will indeed die some day. It was the feeling that made me want to bond and connect with someone else. They wanted to know they were alive together and share this moment. Years from now, the same need will probably be felt during long car rides at night, or watching a fire works show huddled on a blanket.

I've felt this when I've listened to a familiar song as if it's the first time I've been introduced to it. And I don't mean hearing a song. I mean, really hearing a song. Hearing a song that I connect with and understand so well that I think for a moment I may have written it because it captures my thoughts and understanding of the world at that exact moment. I think, whether they recognize it or I'm just crazy, my students experienced this. They connected with a song and each other. They felt alive together.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I have the best homeroom ever. I love them all dearly and I think they like me too. This last Thursday was the last day of the quarter and on Wednesday, I worked through my prep hour to get my grades entered so I wouldn't have to stay late Thursday and all afternoon Friday. I had my lunch while I worked, which basically consisted of my usual peanut butter on bread, a granola bar, water and, since I found about 75 cents in change that morning, a soda too.

After my kids came back from lunch for homeroom, I remembered that I should have gone to the bathroom before they came back. Cute as they are, they sat down and waited for me to make my announcements. Of course the only one I had was that I had to go to the bathroom because I don't know how to manage my time yet or that I have the smallest bladder known to man. Lisa, I know what you're thinking, and no, it wasn't as bad as the night in Rick Beach's class (but it was close).

I told my class that I had to go to the restroom and I was trusting them to behave and that I didn't want to come back and find someone "dead on the floor or taped to the wall." I did actually say that.

I came back about a minute later to see two things: first, that every student in my class was lying on the floor pretending to be dead, and second, two students from another homeroom standing at the front of the room staring in disbelief at all the students face down on the floor. One of them turned to me and said, "What do you do in your homeroom?"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I remember caucusing like it was yesterday

Today is election day. I'm just throwing that out there in case you've been in a third world country trapped under a very large and sound proof rock for the last two years.

I have one short story related to the title. On Super Tuesday last winter, I was riding home with my friend Chris. We stopped at a stoplight and Chris said to me, "Do you think that homeless guy over there knows to caucus?" He then rolled down my car window and nearly threw himself out of it, yelling across the street and on-coming traffic, "Remember to caucus!!!!" I'm surprised, for how long this election has been going on, at how that memory doesn't seem so long ago. And after today (God willing), it will all be over. I'm very relieved, but at the same time I think it will be somewhat weird to not have the country all up in arms over the next president. It's been going on for literally years now. But really, I'm mostly filled with relief.

For the rest of my post, I'm linking all of my previous political posts in a nostalgic effort to see how far I've come and where the political year has taken me. I think it will be pretty hard to figure out who my vote is going for. No, Dad, it's not McCain.

To: Red Forman
A Sad Face with a Tear
Obama Your Mama
No, I really do have a crush on Obama
Happy Birthday Dad
Who would you rather have as president?
IDK my BFF Toni?

P.S. I still got a crush on Obama.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What I do at staff meetings

Today we, me and the five other teachers on my team, did this little questionnaire as a group. I'm curious to see what other people put as answers. Fill it out as we go and then I'll explain it at the end. No cheating! Ready?

1. What is your favorite animal?
My answer: dog (I know, big shocker)

2. Four adjectives that describe why you like that animal:
My answer: cute, friendly, loyal, trustworthy

3. What is your favorite color?
My answer: green

4. Four adjectives that describe why you like that color:
My answer: natural, neutral, pretty, naturey (I'm an English teacher; I'm allowed to make up words)

5. What is the last book you read completely?
My answer: The Alchemist

6. Four adjectives to describe why you liked this book:
My answer: exciting, quick, interesting, meaningful

7. What is your favorite movie?
My answer: Amelie

8. Four adjectives to to describe why you like this movie:
My answer: funny, understanding, meaningful, deep

Okay, so here's how it works:

The responses to the second question describe who you are. The answers to the fourth question describe how other people see you. The answers to the sixth question are how you view school and the responses to the eighth question are supposed to describe who you will be in 30 years.

Looking back on my responses, I see now that I should have chosen more wisely on some of them. I feel a little conceited and self centered now. I'm not sure how true it is. I don't really know how people see me. I guess I am friendly and trustworthy. I do see school as exciting, interesting and meaningful. And I don't know what I'll be in 30 years. I'm a little disappointed I'm not understanding, funny or deep now. I have to wait 30 years for that, seriously?

Also, Mom, it seems I have taken over as the family hippie, if you note my response to question four.

How did yours turn out?