Farewell, Old Friend

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The good news is that Lion Brand Yarns answered my email in less than an hour.

The bad news is that it's true. I had hoped it was some dark urban legend, but Lion Brand Cotton Ease yarn has been discontinued.

It was the only moderately priced cotton/acrylic yarn on the market and the colors were bright and lovely. It became a poncho for me, but I had hoped that it would be my first adult sweater.

Now it's not to be, it's too late.

Denial is over, I have moved to anger.

Sometimes I Wonder Too

Recently, my knitting teacher sent me a blog entry in which a woman outlines why she quit teaching after a year. She wanted to know if it was really how it is.

Fortunately, she sent it at the beginning of the Thanksgiving break. It's always better to reflect on my career choice when one is not actually doing my career. Had I gotten the entry at the end of a work day, I might answer, "Yes!! And sometimes worse!!". Instead, I offer my rational, well thought response (please oh please read sarcasm).

I have felt every emotion that blogger felt. She talks about being swept up in teenage drama, insane scheduling and grading, classes overloaded with kids who need more attention than we can give, and parental scrutiny of our every move. It's all very true at different times (with the possible exception of parental scrutiny, it seems most often I have the opposite problem--which also makes for hard times).

When I first got this entry I thought it would be great to blog. As I turned it over in my head, however, it sounded so self important. "Yes, I teach! And it's worth it all at the end of every day!! I am changing the world!!". Eigh. Bah. I can't claim to be anywhere near that noble nor would I ever speculate that this blogger was anything less than a great teacher who just made another choice.

So what's the difference? Why am I still around? Some of it is just practical. I have an education degree and it's the job I knew I was qualified for. I don't have to be creative in relating my degree to some other job. No defending my skills. Here's my diploma and my certificate. Here's the activities I sponsor and some letters of recommendation. Hire me, please. Sometimes it sucks, but so does every job.

Sometimes I stay because of the breaks and the great opportunities they offer. I have outlined my passion for teacher nerd camps here over and over. Are there other jobs that allow me extended time to travel, reflect, and concentrate effort on improving my work? Nope. I figured that out when I worked retail and befriended lots of the managers. It's all in the manual, the corporate office tells us how to improve.

Now, I know that the law of the three point build states that this is where I put the paragraph about how they change me. I get kids smart enough to challenge me, kids who are hilarious and inspiring. Seeing them grow up is satisfying, too. Yep, this is that paragraph. Some kids take from me much more than they leave and most of the time, I only come out even. But at least once a year, some kid leaves me with just a bit more in the tip jar of my soul. In fact, I can point to the hardest times as when I didn't have those kids---just one "giver" usually makes the semester worthwhile.

I just reread that paragraph and made the vomit face, but it's true.

Somehow The Campus Talent Shows Matter Less Now...

There is nothing like having to recount your possibly cruel actions while watching a possible victim on the big screen.

I am sitting in the theatre, ready to be engrossed in Walk The Line. I am fully into the present, in the moment, when the opening credits take me to my presumably bitchy past.

Waylon Malloy Payne.

Waylon plays Jerry Lee Lewis in the film and, strangely enough, attended Oklahoma Baptist University for a year--he was a freshman when I was a sophomore. Waylon Payne, not Jerry Lee Lewis. After seeing Waylon/Jerry Lee on screen and confirming that it was the guy I vaguely knew that year, I remembered the joke a friend made, "His middle name is excruciating.". I remember him involved in very little, but somehow always around. He auditioned for every show, was never cast, but hung out at rehearsal quite a bit. I don't remember him in either of the select choirs, but was somehow on the heels of all my music major friends as they would come to the cafeteria after rehearsal. He floated around the edges of my world and was gone the next year. Some interviews (because, yes, if you are in a major motion picture and I know you, you shall be Googled.) state that he made it two years and then was expelled, but I don't recall that. I just recall a guy that tried to find a place to belong, but never found it. The only memories I have of him was rolling our eyes at him--not that I am terribly proud of that.

What a unreal reminder of my bitchy past.

...and to think that I saw it...

I just saw a child in the hall wearing a light up scrolling marquis belt buckle.

Really, I did.

Please don't ask what the message was, I refuse to focus my eyes there for any amount of time.

An Entry On My Springy-Nerd-Like Neck

Mid December to late February is a busy time for my kids. We refer to it as "nerd season". We The People, Model UN, and Youth and Government all have their culminating events during this time and I will probably have only one non-holiday weekend free. Lots of these kids do all three events, and we laud them for completing "The Nerd Trifecta".

Nerd season kicked off early this year with We The People district competition this past Saturday. It was a lovely time, the kids exceeded my expectations.

Sometimes I wonder how I must look while listening to my kids compete. I go into this otherworldly state of notetaking, concentration, and active active listening accompanied by nodding. It's quite intense and I am usually worn out after a day of competing.

I had an interesting talk with one of the many parents that went with us this weekend (we had some fifteen spectators, all of whom were appropriately proud). After this wonderful morning of watching children speak intelligently, his first thought was, in all seriousness,

"You must be really tired now."
"Yeah, it takes a lot out of me."
"How tired is your neck, you know, from all the nodding?"
"Um...well...a little bit. I guess maybe I looked a bit like a dashboard
dog or something?"
"Yes! You did! That's it!!"

It's good that children have the biggest nerd ever leading them in nerd season.

"What Fresh Hell Is This?"

I desperately need to find a new career. What the hell can a burned out 30 something offer a potential employer? What the hell am I even qualified for? Besides letting pubescent little boogers drive me insane, that is. Can I even do anything else gainful?
DH is in a royal snit, as well. He's supposed to be the stable adult at our house but he has left that up to me tonight and I think I'm going to disintegrate. Is 6:57 pm too early to put my kids to bed?

You may think I'm being facetious, but I assure you I am 100% serious.

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Resume by Dorothy Parker

Sophomores, Wise Fools

In my never ending effort to make the study of rhyme scheme edifying for us all, we used song lyrics to learn the concept today. We had Beatles, Prince, a stanza of Nas, and some Marvin Gaye. Listen in...

  • Educat attempts to uncover meaning in Prince's Sign O' The Times

"So what do you think it means when the author says 'In September, my cousin tried reefer for the very first time, now he's doing horse, it's June.'?"


...at last a quiet voice dares to speculate....

"Umm....did he quit weed and become a jockey? I mean, it says he's on horse, so he rides one, right?"

  • Educat and Class expound upon Eleanor Rigby

We have wrapped our head around the possiblity that Father McKenzie is a bit self centered. After all, poor Eleanor is right there, cleaning in the church. For that matter, why does Eleanor never reach out to McKenzie?

"What, then, do you think is the answer to the question that the author asks? Where do the lonely people come from?"

And an answer comes from the boy who hasn't answered a question all term.


A Brighter Black Friday

Jim is already dreading Black Friday. It hardly seems possible that the holiday fracas is coming-a week away! It only just got cold and it feels like school just started.

With all the depressing events of the last week, reading his post brings to mind the best holiday blessing for me.

I won't be working retail this year! For the second year running!!

I'm not just being funny. I mean, I am paritally being funny. I don't miss getting excited when someone buys the biggest gift set in the store. I don't miss sore feet, counting the day's take and counting down to our sales goal, or wearing silly reindeer antlers (which, with the events of the last week would be more traumatic than ever to wear) while working to uncover your lotion and gift giving needs. It was an unnaturally crazy life and one I don't miss, but mocking the excesses of American Retail Christmas is only part of my message here.

My after school tutoring job allows me to work fewer hours a week and make more extra money. It's satisfying to be able to help my parents. Furthermore, I believe it's more helpful for me to help a child get that much closer to graduation than to uncover your need for personal care products.

We are again sharing Thanksgiving with dear family friends this year and their tradition is to read aloud a "what we are thankful for" list. This year, I can meaningfully say that I am thankful for Ms. Educat's After School Club For Kids Who Don't Read Good.

I Wonder...

  • If the child who told me I "Look hot" with contacts was just sucking up...
  • If the child who pointed to his genitals as he asked to use a hall pass was harassing, intentionally obscene, or just, well, stupid...
  • How cheap I can get my hands on an autoharp so I can approach the coolness of Sheryl Crow last night singing Ring of Fire on the Johnny Cash tribute show last night...
  • How the child who never writes for me in class can manage a three page rebuttal to the referral he got while I was out the other day...
  • How a class who cannot exist for more than five minutes without someone shouting, burping or farting will write for two hours straight on the End of Instruction exam...

How You Could Be My New Favorite Auto Body Shop

Some really wise and creative body shop could give my car a blog while it's in the shop. I could hear what it's doing every day and see pictures of its transformation.

Granted, hiring those bloggers would cost me, the consumer, but I'd pay for it!

The Last Entry On The Deer, I Promise

Preferable Ways For Deer To Commit Suicide (rather than run in front of my car)

  • Ingest an unhealthy amount of pills via her salt lick
  • Slit her hooves
  • Somehow find a house with a gas oven and stick her head inside
  • Suck on an exhaust pipe

There, now I am done. Please cease and desist all jokes concerning road kill and mind how you use the phrase "deer in the headlights".

The Important Stuff

Thanks to everyone who wished condolences as we remembered Nana this week. We remembered again what it is to choose family and make community as my mother spoke at the funeral today.

It turns out my mother is a kick butt funeral speaker. What she said today was probably a better message than the "heaven" sermon I have heard a thousand times--now a thousand and one.

She recounted the story of Nana "choosing us" and explaining our relationship to those around her. "We are family in the heart" she said, "we chose each other.".

To those who love her, the job is to live her memory not dwelling upon the last year, but always by the example what she told us "There are givers and there are takers in this world, and you and I are going to choose to be givers."

Another Reason To Love My Father

He picks the deer hairs out of the grill of my car when I just can't handle it. Forget the crumpled hood and hanging signal light, the deer hairs matter the most. Now it's totally driveable.

The Most Surreal Evening...

There is so much to share about tonight. Some of it's funny, some sad, some philosophical. First, I'll just get the facts out. This way we can examine it later.

  • I had a lovely evening in Shawnee, visiting friends I hadn't seen in more than 10 years.
  • My mother called in the middle of the visit to tell me that Nana passed away this morning.
  • And somehow, I haven't been upset yet. Even when I hit a deer (yes, I hit a deer) on the way home.

The hope was that typing this to you would get it out and I could get to sleep.

Let's hope that works.

My New Idol

But I can't decide if it's Severus Snape or Mary Beth Ellis. Check out http://blondechampagne.blogspot.com, and http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9959467/ . Then let me know what y'all think.

Where, Just For Grins, I Bring Back An Old Character

I just ran into the Leg Wrestler in the hall (do you know how long it took for me to choose the post I would link to for this child? How I love him! How I miss him!!). I haven't spoken with him in at least a month, and he waved excitedly at me, so I smiled as I approached him.


"I have a rash!"

I wasn't sure how to take that. Is he proud of the rash? Excited?

You Think You Know...

...but you have no idea.

You have no idea what I do on those nights I go to knitting class.

My knitting teacher sent me this link. Go now, and know.

I love you, little smart ass boys.

The Happiest Day Ever

The Archie McPhee Catalog has arrived!!! I am skipping about and squealing like a pig!!! I want monkey band aids!! I want pencil toppers with our Lord and Savior!!

If I had a zillion dollars, it'd be Christmas for us all.

The McPhee Catalog comes on the same day as My Name Is Earl...It brightens a bleak day.

How To Make Me Squirm In Knitting Class

The following is a near transcript of my Haloween knitting class. This may not be exactly how it happend, but it's the picture my memory creates. And I'm sticking with it. One of the longer 60 second periods of my life.

Educat (chuckles to self):Boy, I do a lot of baby knitting for someone with
no kids.

Lady From Class #1: Oh, if you had kids you wouldn't have time
to knit.

Educat: That's true. I also sort of enjoy being the Fairy

Lady From Class #2: But Hon, you have to get out there,

Educat: I've always wondered exactly where out there--

Lady 1: Do you go to church?

Educat: I'm sort of betw--

Lady 2: Oh, sugar, all the young people are going to the Life

Educat: Well, I don't know if I'm that young.
Besides, I'm sort of a recovering Baptist.

--silence fills the room like
I just announced I needed a knitting chart for a pentagram---

...and you can't exactly go to church for the sole purpose of meeting
someone, now, can you? So I'm fine. If it happens, it happens. If this is all my
life is, it's pretty good.

You know, I don't know if I really sounded that "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" at the end. I don't think I am that articulate in person. Let's remember it this way, though.

Hey! You're Applauding For No Reason!

During last night's fall musical performance, I was lucky enough to sit behind a man I have come to know as Hey!.

Hey! always seems to have tickets on the same night as I do. I have never known who he actually is, however. At the end of many of the musical numbers, Hey! will shout (what do you think he will shout?) "Hey!" in that sacred quiet moment between the end of the song and the applause.

It unnerves me, and I hate it. So here I am, sitting where I can see him, and I can't do a thing about it. How would it look to have a teacher confront a parent at a school event? I so wanted to ask him why he shouts like that. I so wanted to challenge his choice of time to yell (for example, if you are going to shout, why didn't you do it at the end of It Takes Two? It was an adorable number and very important to the plot. The kids were able to sing and act at the same time. Bad choice, Hey!. Bad choice.

While I have you here and you're listening to my thoughts on theatre ettiqute, can we also discuss the standing ovation?

We have devalued it. How many performaces (of any type) have you attended recently where one schmoe stands up? All of them, right? Then, just because he did it, five more people stand up and before you know it, everyone around you is standing and if you don't you're a bastard who doesn't appreciate everyone's hard work and the stock for applause just plummeted. Little Johnny goes to college and appears in his first college show and thinks, "Man, I got a standing O every time I got onstage in High School and now I hardly ever do. I must have peaked in high school."

And he weeps. Do you want that on your head? I don't.

I would like to propose a minimum basic criteria for a standing ovation and I would like to do it here. Please share your ideas here and the findings of our committee will be shared in this space at a later date.

We could change the world and save little Johnny.

The Week In Silly Crap

-Selling tickets to the football game, a former student came to my window. He took Debate with me and was clearly in over his head. I pushed him while trying to help him understand the work and never knew if it did any good. I got a very perverse answer to my question that night.

"Ms. Educat! I saw Plato on a commercial! On TV!!"

"Really, what was he selling?"


I guess we all have to moonlight sometimes.

-Same football game, guy comes to my window. Very much in shape and well (if not overly) groomed. Immaculate eyebrows. Tan. Black fitted T shirt that said "Dolce and Gabanna Parfum". So I think I have him figured out, right? I sell him his tickets and when he speaks to me, it's wretched grammar and a Slingblade accent! It's like Carl got a Queer Eye Makeover! It's like Scott's story in reverse!

-After seeing the Fall musical at school last night, I have decided that my ideal cast of Into The Woods would feature Gary Busey as The Mysterious Man. Then he'd stop The Baker in the woods and be all, "Looking for a cow? Cow means Can Obtain Wealth. And you can!!".

Go, Blog Reader, Go And Be My Sarcasm

I got nothing. It's past bedtime, after a football game, and I have to be a teacher tomorrow. It's time for bed and I have little left.

So, it's gonna have to be you, soopa-readers. Enter The Phantom Prof's word nerd challenge. There's humor here, I just...can't...reach...it...

And so I leave it to you.

Always Teaching...

As I walk about the front of my classroom, rifling through stacks of paper, looking for the handout I made yesterday, I speak to my class...
"Guys, the best and most important thing you can learn about writing for school is to have an organizational pattern. (I flip through a stack of papers)  I learned a pattern when I was in High School that I was able to use through college and now I teach it,  (I lift up a stack of books) I can't emphasize enough the importance of organization in your writing."
I find what I needed and look to see that most of my class is trying to hide their laughter...at me.
"And so what literary element would this be?"
"Irony"-- from the whole class.

If You Mess With Me, I Will Totally Cut You On The Internet--Now With A Guilt Induced Edit

I had to go Cobra Neck today.

I am in the process of getting approved by my insurance for a perscription (because you know those educated, medical doctors, they're car-azy!! Not like insurance companies!!). Yesterday, I spent my entire plan time on the phone (mostly on hold) just to get the insurance people to send a fax to the Doctor so that he can explain my silly perscription.

So today, as recommended, I call the doctor to verify that they have said fax. After waiting on hold, I get Slingblade in the referral office.

"Uuuuhhh, I don know whur your fayux is. Wait, uhhhh...damn. You gon have to call back."

Please be aware that I do not use the Southern-esque accent to make her sound dumb. Her words do that job nicely. I myself bear a wee bit of the twang. No accented Americans were harmed in the writing of this post.

I can't call her back, I am a teacher on planning period. It goes like this for a while. I can't convince her that she could use my case number and insurance information. She asks me if I have tried anything else.

Did you get that? She asks me if I have tried anything else. Like I don't leave that to the discretion of my Medical. Effing. Doctor!!!

Yes, I respond. Furthermore, the doctor wrote me that prescription and I thought that perhaps that meant it was okay to fill.

I have a message from her now on my phone. I will check it when there aren't thirty children in the room.

Who can all speak better English than the gal in referrals.

Thank you, internets. I feel better now.

I feel even better now that it is resolved and I realized a few things. I am fortunate. I am fortunate to have even bad insurance and a job that covers it. I am fortunate to be able to pay my copay. I know this. I also know that Slingblade is fortunate that I have this job and didn't come after her.

Now I really feel better.