Monday, December 28, 2009

You may not realize it but...

This means I have to virtually give away my banana cookie secrets.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So. Many. Good. Videos. Lately.

5 Second Films. Slogan? Wasting your time, but not very much.

"...and I don't / use enough / jumpcuts."

Christmas Facts with Hank and John in the same room.
Gesticulation NOW.

Bill covers the Beach Boys and sweetly serenades YouTube.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Invade my privacy?

I'm actually fascinated by these. I haven't asked anyone a question, but I like reading what other people have asked...other people.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Project For Awesome is Awesome

Do you see this? This is the Most Discussed on YouTube page 2. See that at the bottom? THAT'S ME!

Yay Charities! Yay P4A!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

a realization

I hate change.

I hate sharing things.

I just realized I should never get married.

Monday, December 14, 2009

SantaCon and Tom Milsom's NYC Launch Party

In which Emily recounts her time spent this past Saturday (12/12/09) in New York City with her mother, stumbling upon SantaCon and meeting Charlie McDonnell, Edd Plant, Tom Milsom, Alex Day, Michael Markman, and some other YouTubers / Nerdfighters.

soon there will be more than two full songs here.

Cool things? My videos embedded on Tom's website.

and Alex's website.

and then Michael Markman, who set up the show, tweeted:

Mickeleh: Best video I've seen on the NY gig of @eddplant @realnerimon @hexachordal and @coollike thanks @ChateauOfADoubt (RT by myself and @liliesarelike who is Charlie's mum and some 12 year old girl from Florida).

and then a comment on said video from Charlie's mum.

Blah blah blah, I know you don't care, but this is my blog, and I want to record these things.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

In support of You....Tube

OK, ok...I like get it.

But wait! YouTube is great for fangirling!

I didn't think I'd have anything interesting to put on my new blog, but something....LikeTotallyAwesome happened.

Check it out.

I probably have twitter to thank for this, too.

Friday, December 11, 2009

OMG! The sub knows who sxephil is!!!

In which Emily (who is 24) shares about students' misperceptions about her, how Philip DeFranco got brought into this, and probably says "PUH lease!" one too many times.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No shave forever.

Don't shave your beard.

just sayin'.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I love New York

In a two stop tour including London and New York, I'm super-glad to live so close to the city.

Here's hoping it doesn't snow anything serious.

Who? Why....Alex Day and Tom Milsom, of course....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

You Spell Your Name Wrong

In which Emily shares about how the interesting things parents do when selecting names for their children make her job that much harder.

Thank you to Jer at for making a widescreen version of the TV test pattern.
You were right. It was useful to someone.

Apologies to:
Charlie McDonnell
Natalie Tran
Craig Benzine:

So I've set up one of these. All the cool kids were doing it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Recession Crafts

In which Emily recounts selling crafts at Tight Knit in Troy, and discusses how the economy is effecting her.....and how it doesn't really matter.

With Hands project blog:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mac v. PC. v. Everyone (EXPLICIT)

Secret Secret Jayce

A lot of my friends make music.

I don't know why this is. Ever since High School (when I hung around with Random Fit), it seems that somewhere in my social circle there is always some sort of a musician, usually a band.

The thing with having friends in bands is that you lose your perspective of whether or not their music is any good. They're your friends, they're playing a show, you're of course going to go, and if you don't already, you will soon like their music.

But then sometimes, even when I do like their music, I can't quite keep up with everybody.

Beware the Other Head of Science, Desperately Obvious, The Boston Celtics, Secret Secret Dino Club....Can we talk about the interchangeable band members?

Every now and then I get to a local show which involves one or two of these. Once a year I get to check out most of my friends at MillFest, which is always a treat (and moreso if you don't have bronchitis).

So today, I'm subbing in this high school, and my favorite student comes in. It's not that he always does his work to the best of his ability, it is just that he is so darn friendly. Everytime I see him he shouts: "Ms. Armstrong!!!" and runs over to hug me.

The class he is in is a science class with a lab, and the second portion is reserved for finishing something that most of the students have already done. My Favorite Student has his iPod out. Many other students do too, and cellphones. I'm not asking them to put them away because there isn't really anything for them to do. I ask MFS what he's listening to. He names a band I've never heard of. He comes over to me and asks me to name who I know. He starts going through his list of artists on his iPod. I say a name aloud when I see someone I've heard. I know this is absolutely ridiculous, but it isn't as though he is distracted from the thing he is supposed to be doing.

"Antsy Pants"
"Cat Power"
"I've heard of Metro Station, but only because you told me about them"
"Passion Pit"
"Secret Secret Dino Club"


At the same time we begin yelling at each other and shouting "WAIT YOU KNOW JAYCE?"

I try to remember why I know Jayce outside of mutual-Albany-friends. That is probably the best summation.

MFS tells me that he started listening to Secret Secret Dino Club when he lived in New Jersey (is that why he's so nice?), and saw him perform a few times, and eventually met him.

Perhaps these sorts of interactions challenge my guise of authority.

So I come home and start googling Jayce (TWSS). Did you know Secret Secret Dino Club got signed?

Man, I've really not been keeping up with anything. It's not as if it were a secret secret.


Today I subbed for a high school science teacher. The task at hand was to watch Planet Earth and take 10 notes. No big deal.

A student who I've seen before walks in, looks at me, punches the air and shouts: "woo hoo!" He is soon gushing with comments about how happy he is that I am there, and questions aloud whether he should just give me twenty dollars. He is that happy.

I tell him I'd take the twenty, but he revokes his offer; that is his lunch money for the week.

Another student who I know a little better (he was in one of my classes when I was student teaching) walks in, grumbles something like "oh no, not you!" and turns around to walk out. When he walks back in again I tell him that I didn't realize he secretly hated me.

"I don't secretly hate you," he says.

"Oh, sorry, I didn't realize you publicly hated me."

"It's not hate, just severe dislike."

I know some kids might hate me for being mean, but I've never had an issue with this kid. He was always pretty nice, a little weird, but no one I've "told off" "played" or "pwned."

If you were ever wondering how I keep my balanced sense of self, this is it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


In which Emily discusses what she did on her Thanksgiving, which involved a lot of Wii-setting-up for her Father. Who wanted the Wii to bowl virtually. Even though he's been seriously bowling in real life for over 40 years.

Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk.

Yesterday I went to the Farmers' Market. I wanted to get some pea shoots and milk. When I walked in, the people selling milk were right inside the door, and I felt funny walking up to them in that way, so I went and looked for pea shoots. It seems they were only available for a limited time. I went back to the dairy stand and exchanged them my empty glass bottle and $3.25 for a filled glass half-gallon of their whole milk- creamy stuff. I started walking towards another stand to double check about the pea shoots and as I walked, I went to drop the bottle of milk in my bag.

Only it didn't quite make it there.

It dropped on my toe. It dropped on the tiled floor. It smashed into a million pieces.

Milk everywhere. All the milk. Spilled. I wanted to cry, but you aren't supposed to cry in this situation.

When you're in grade school and someone drops a tray, the whole cafeteria always breaks out into an accusatory "OOoooooooo!"

When you're in the farmers' market and you break a milk bottle, the whole place breaks out into a sympathetic: "Oooohhh!"

I start walking towards CVS in a daze, thinking that maybe they'll have a mop. Before I get there I find myself explaining this to someone who informs me that a janitor has been called. An older gentleman suggests that we try picking up the large pieces of glass. After we get all the big chunks, I'm scraping milky tile with my hand to get the smaller chards. I know this is a stupid idea but I don't know what else to do with myself.

The man whose stand I spilled milk near has a large push broom and is standing and keeping the milk puddle away from his sacks of potatoes. After a while he tells me that a janitor is coming and that I can go. I've been standing next to him apologizing to people since I finished picking up the glass pieces.

I thought about running out of the place, but now my toe started to feel numb and running was no longer an option. I decided that I did need milk, and I was going to have to pay another $2 bottle deposit somewhere, so I might as well just go pay $5.25 for a new bottle. As I walked up to the milk stand, the girl walks out to me with a new half gallon of whole milk. I open my wallet to give her the $5.25 and she says "Just two, just the bottle deposit, that's fine....I feel your pain."

I thank her profusely and share that the pain is indeed in my pride but also in my foot.

Good business practices are good for your business.

Patronize Gumaer Farms. Their milk is delicious.

Whose v. Who's

USAGE A common written mistake is to confuse who's with whose. The form who's represents a contraction of ‘who is’ or ‘who has’: : who's going to feed the dog?;: I wonder who's left the light on again? The word whose is a possessive pronoun or adjective: : whose is this?;: whose turn is it?

Why hadn't I looked this up before? I wonder how many times I've screwed this up.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You're Giving Me a Headache.

I was substituting in this high school a few weeks ago, and a boy came up to me in the hall and said: "See, I don't even remember you!!"

If he hadn't said that, I wouldn't have recalled anything. As it stands, what I recall is pretty vague. I think I got mad at him for being disrespectful and pulled the "one day you'll remember this and feel so ashamed for what a jerk you were being" card.

Today I subbed in a middle school. I would have gotten 3 planning periods, which is unheard of, but they stuck me in this self-contained classroom with another teacher. I didn't really do anything the whole class, I sort of helped one or two kids. One kid who I wasn't helping kept walking over to the desk where I was sitting and trying to fight me.

"C'mon. Let's do this. Right here."

I would tell him very quietly and flatly to sit down.


"Ask you again. Please sit down."

Ay, yi, yi.

All the teachers take off because they can't handle the crazy before the holiday-ness, but I can't handle it either!

With Hands!

I'd like to draw your attention back over to the With Hands blog. I've finished my semester and created some products that you can enjoy (for free!) if you surf over thataway.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

When everyone passes around their licenses.

A while after I first got my drivers license until just recently, I would often find myself engaged in this game of Share-The-Shame-That-Is-Your-License-Picture.

This was almost entirely because no one had updated their license picture since they got it, so everyone looked like their old ridiculous selves.

This is no more for me.

The new ones don't scan as well as the old ones. This seems to be intentional. In both cases, the photo looked best when shown on the DMV's computer monitor, and degraded in quality after printing, and even more so once I scanned it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

How I Spent My Substitute Educators Day

I don't really like to sub for younger grades. Have I mentioned this before? I'm sure I have. Sure, kindergartners are cute, but they're so needy. This, clearly, is why I have a cat.
Wednesday for some reason I could only get a half day gig. I subbed in the middle school in Troy, and I had accepted a job to sub in that same school the next day, for the full day. After hearing that this next day was a teacher-parent-afternoon conference day, I ran home and canceled the job. Just because it says full day on the subfinder doesn't mean they won't send me home with half a day's pay, or worse, cancel the job 5 minutes before I show up. Since I was home before the other subs, I took the opportunity to peruse the available sub jobs on the sub finder website. There was a gig Thursday at the school with the ED room, and the teacher's name hadn't yet made it on my DNS list.

When I showed up Thursday, I was greeted by a door with four names on it. This serves as a metaphor for the entire experience of this classroom. Another adult is already in the room when I arrive, and she gives me a brief rundown of the day. It essentially consists of my standing by and looking on, as other adults will apparently be running most of the show.

This is the school with the morning program. A few other schools do this too, and as I've said before, I think these entire-school daily-morale-booster things are to be encouraged. Standing on the sidelines, I heard surprised expressed from the other adult in the room when a chubby little girl from our class is called up to the front, as it is her birthday. Over her chubby little gut she wears a shirt that is pink and says something about her being a princess or very cool or attractive in shiny letters. Standing beside a woman with the mic, she suppressed a smile and put her chin to her chest as the entire school screamed at her: "BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM! SOMEBODY TOLD ME IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY TODAYY!!" which concluded with them screaming HAAAAPPY BIRTHDAY! while throwing arms over heads and bowing them at her in praise. When we went back to the room, it was decided that she needed a crown. As a super-kindergartner, she knew right where the crowns were kept. She pulled open a drawer for me and pulled out the plastic - enclosed collection of two-step crowns. Step one: remove excess crown by tearing along perforation. Step two: staple to head width. She wordlessly handed my the stapler, and I searched for a sharpie to write "Lilly is 6!" in the star. If my memory serves me, they have not changed the design of these crowns since I was in kindergarten. My mother has a picture of me on my birthday, wearing such a crown. For some reason this was the birthday tradition in Miss Tracey's first ever kindergarten class (traditions have to start somewhere, right?). Only in my picture, there is more than me in my crown standing somewhere in the room. There is Scott. This wasn't allowed, having another person in your birthday picture, but apparently, Scott and I were quite fond of each other. I remember liking Scott. I remember what I liked about him: he was blond and blue eyed and vaguely reminiscent of my boyfriend Jonathan. Jonathan was only my boyfriend because our mothers were good friends, so we were often babysat together. I think much of our intimacy was encouraged by adults. We would kiss and he would hold my hand and tie my shoe and zip my coat and show me wheel of fortune on the radio at the same time it came across on the TV (in other words, magic).

I could only find a fake sharpie, which is less opaque than a real one. Lilly happily wore her crown and took position as lead counter-of-days-in-school during morning circle time. Someone made a "days of the week" song to the tune of "The Addams Family," it must be taught in early childhood programs, every kindergarten in the greater capital district seems to employ it.

"Days of the Week (snap snap) Days of the Week (snap snap) Days of the Week, Days of the Week, Days of the Week (snap snap)....There's Sunday and there's Monday, there's Tuesday and there's Wednesday..."

At one point, I called one little girl's name to get her to start doing something...or maybe to stop doing something "LaKiesha!!" I called.

"It's WAH Kiesha," she corrected me.

"WaKiesha? LaKiesha? That's what I said!" I defended.

"No, you said Kiesha!" she said with a silly grin. Later in the day I made a big show of checking her ears for earwax because she didn't seem to be hearing anything I said correctly.

And then there's Grant. The mystery for me about what men DO with all the time they waste hogging the bathroom, which begun for me with my father and grandfather is starting for Lilly and LaKiesha and all the other kindergartners in his class every time he turns on the light and shuts the door. The kid is in there for at least 20 minutes at a go. I don't know if he comes out without being prompted. He's a heavy set little boy, and it is hard to not think of him as an old man.

Kindergarten stresses me out. All day long I've got kids begging me to tie their shoes and zip their coats and work out their fights because Jimmy won't share the saw ("Yes I will!" shouts Jimmy from across the room).

When the hoard of other adults in the room made lots of comments about the teacher being out the next day too, I assured them I wouldn't be in. When they asked me if I had a gig for the next day, I told them that though I didn't, I figured I'd treat myself to working at a High School for Substitute Educators Day. When I went home, I made a point to check that the gig was indeed one day as I had thought.

I was wrong.

Good thing I checked.

Frakkin ayyy.

So Friday I wake up and get ready to face all of those people I assured I wouldn't be in twice. Luckily, the closest thing I got to a comment on it was "Good morning, again!"

Along with my distaste for classes of the younger variety, there is the issue of plans. I want my plans to tell me what I am to do. I do not want plans that are merely a schedule or essentially notes to one's self. I do not have a degree in early childhood. I do not know all the acronyms. I also do not know how things are run. If you write three page numbers down for math, and then someone tells me that when I do math, the book I need is sitting on the easel, I will attempt to dictate the entire lesson. How was I to know that the students had individual workbooks? How am I supposed to keep up the appearance of authority if I have no clue what's going on?

There are bagels in the teacher's lounge. I figure this is part of something that everyone has paid money for, so I don't touch the bagels. I am wearing jeans, though I don't normally, as that is a privilege many teachers contribute money to some charity for. It is substitute educators day, and since no one realizes this or cares, I'm going to do my best to make myself comfortable. Thankfully, the other adult in the room invites me to go get a bagel. Not only do they have sesame bagels, but they have honey walnut cream cheese to boot! This is always my bagel order. Maybe it won't be such a bad day after all. Whoever has provided this breakfast has also set out some of those Nonni's biscotti things, and I pocket one for later.

When Lilly comes in, she starts talking about the fat hamsters she received the night before. Soon she starts insisting that today is her birthday and yesterday was not. Surprisingly, today she was not called up front during morning program.

During Thursday's morning program there was a session of W -(something)-A-N News, in which many students sat at a table and read unconvincingly news about the license plates I thought I heard we weren't going to have to get anymore. All of a sudden, one student flatly interrupts another, ("") sharing that Patterson has put the kibitz on this. Both days, the children sang and signed a song about being thankful and praying around a table, which seemed a little too church-state for even me. Both days, children said the pledge of allegiance (which is creepy, the more I think about a Nazi sort of way) and then sang a jazzed up version of This Land is Your Land, made suitable for children by way of the circus, apparently. Instead of having a real life news show, today to the question of: "Do you know what tiimmmee it isss?" all the children started shouting O-PEN MIC! O-PEN MIC!

Immediately following was Open Mic. One small boy got up and sang a Spanish version of Frere Jacque. The two other acts required no mic, and were probably more suited for a Talent Show, which maybe is what this inappropriately labeled gathering is. The next act was a smattering of third graders hula-hooping and jumping rope to a song. Only one of them was really worth watching. The last act was a group of sixth graders with a jump rope, jumping to a song. They were decent, and one boy would get into the rope with style, and jump up and down while jumping sections of a 360. Unfortunately, even he couldn't keep it going for more than 30 seconds.

The one thing that really upset me Thursday was the group time. No one really told me what group time would entail (how long, if we switch or not...anything), so I tried my best to have the students get the most out of the cutting-pasting-coloring sheet that was my activity with them. The other teachers began rushing me as soon as the kids in my group had half of their little pieces awkwardly cut out of the paper. Today I wasn't going to have it, and my groups were finished way before I was harassed about it. I took the opportunity to try and draw two of the boys who I feel are the cutest. One boy reminds me of the little boy from Family Circus, not that I really read Family Circus....but he has almost no neck, and a very round head, and this cute little way about him. In the morning, when it was announced he would be line leader, he balled up his fists, threw them into the air and his whole body followed as he leapt out of his chair in joy. He cheered and several other students cheered for him: "Hooray! Hooray for Joshie!"

The other boy I was trying to draw looks like he is straight out of the 1950s. H e would fit right in any of those feel-good black and white TV shows. He told me all about the sleepover he is going to have with his cousins this weekend; about how much fun it will be. In the group, in a discussion about who-knows-what, he said: "Do you know what's better than pumpkins?


Someone painted a small part of a hallway black and painted all the planets in relative sizes on the wall. They even included Pluto. This hallway was cut off with a few black curtains, and someone had drawn constellations on black sheets adorned with glow-in-the-dark plastic stars and tacked that to the ceiling. The kindergartners were given about 20 minutes to sit on mats in this darkened hallway and watch a poorly researched, poorly funded video about the planets (with a heavy focus on ours). This was a cute idea except that it was decided that everyone would take off their shoes and then walk into the area on the mats. A stinky-feet smell is not the issue here. The issue is creating a need to tie SO MANY shoes all at once. I thought my head might explode. After we mastered all the shoe tying, all the students sat on the rug to listen to a story. One student came up to me and asked me to tie his shoes. How on earth have they come untied from just sitting on the rug?!? Later in the day I accused him of untying his shoes. "Well I do untie them," he admitted "but I didn't this time!"

Soon it was Reading Buddies time. I have seen this in private schools, and that it is employed in this public elementary school is heartening. Another teacher brought down her sixth grade class, and they all paired up or grouped up with the kindergartners to read them stories. This is all well and good, but then the other adult says she needs to run out and grab her glasses, and then the sixth grade teacher says she's going to run to the bathroom, and instructs me to walk around and make sure they aren't fighting.

Wait. How did you just leave me alone with a room full of 40 students? How are you asking me to do something you yourself aren't doing?

Grant not only takes forever in the bathroom, he also goes at least 4 times a school day. Another adult speculated that this was an avoidance thing. So, one time, after waiting forever for him to get out of the bathroom, I met Grant at the sink while he washed his hands. I asked him what he's doing in there for all that time. He didn't really give me a decisive answer, but he did say that yesterday his "butt was bweedin'."

Ohh ho ho! :( Poor baby. He has more old man issues than I thought. (To be clear, I asked him if he'd told an adult, and he said he'd told a teacher who told his brother who told his mother).

So sure, Kindergarten can be cute and interesting....but the cute doesn't outweigh the neediness and the part where I don't even have a moment to read a page from my book.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Too Soon for Holiday Music!!

In which Emily complains about the increasing presence of holiday music before Thanksgiving.

You know it bothers you too.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

50 Book Challenge Update

Maybe my reading books intended for teenagers is cheating, ....maybe not. I would have read them anyway.

39. Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd - H. Black & C. Castellucci (eds.)
40. The Nimrod Flipout - Etgar Keret
41. The Small-Mart Revolution - Michael H. Shuman
42. Boy Meets Boy - David Leviathan
43. The Industrial Revolution - R. Conrad Stein
44. 13 Little Blue Envelopes - Maureen Johnson
45. Zeitoun - Dave Eggers
46. The Bermudez Traingle - Maureen Johnson

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Before I put on my makeup

Tuesday night I got a call asking me to sub for this tech teacher at Troy High. I really like subbing there, and the job was from Thursday until Monday. I was psyched. I received a call asking me to babysit Thursday, a call from a teacher asking me to sub for him Thursday, and a whole bunch of other things of the sort. Wednesday night (no school Wednesday) I went on the subfinder website to double check the name of this teacher I was covering for. It was then I noticed that the multi-day job went beyond Monday. It went all the way until Monday the 30th. Could I be the tech teacher that long? Wouldn't the students have to be working on actual projects? Wouldn't I be responsible if they cut their fingers off? I tried not to worry about it, and told myself I would have to make sure my grad school work was done with plenty of time to spare if I wouldn't be able to take the Monday off.

This morning, just as I was waking up for the job, I got a phone call from the Troy line.

That's odd. Generally I only get calls for that day during the morning, and I'm already subbing today. I answered anyway.

"This. is. a. cancellation. notification." The computer voice told me.

Who is the jerk who asks me to sub for almost three weeks and then cancelled the whole shebang right before I have to be there? Do you know how many other ways I could have been earning money today? Grrrrrr....

So instead, I used today to run errands. I lost my wallet on that fateful day before Halloween, and now that I've cleaned my house and searched my car, I'm ready to give up on finding it. I already replaced my library card (that was painful. I'm no longer 21182004831864 and now I've got a new 14 digit number to memorize), my discover card, I called up today to cancel my debit card (and there hasn't been any activity on it, so I feel like it still might be someplace findable) and located the DMV in Troy to get a new license.

I've been putting this off because I had been having all my legal stuff point to my parents address, but now that I'm 24, they can't claim me as a dependent and it makes as much financial sense to admit that I live in Troy. Also, the picture on my license is from when I turned 16. I have long, yellow hair that gets more and more neon with each new license they send me. When I turned 21 I looked bad the day I went to renew my license so I kept the picture that was on it. Nowadays, bouncers give me funny looks like "you-really-expect-me-to-believe-this-is-you?" and when I get pulled over cops hassle me for not living where my license says. So, this is only forcing what is long overdue.

I grabbed my passport, a pay stub, and a national grid bill and headed to the DMV. Immediately upon arriving, I was asked to sign a piece of paper and stand in front of a gray wall. After this, I was given a form to fill out, so I went to the back counter and checked boxes and filled in numbers. When I was finished, I went to get in line to finish up, and had some trouble getting around this lady who had been standing next to me. At the very moment as I tried to squeeze past her, she decided it was also time to get in line. She walked one pace in front of me all the way through the snaking lines to the place of the torn This Is How You Spread Germs feat. fake Jim Halpert poster. Her (presumably) kids squeezed past me. They were at least of driving age, but probably not older than me, a girl and a guy. The girl wore one of those drawstring backpacks with a large button on it, and the guy had black framed glasses. The girl looked at me, and then gave me a curious glance downward. I looked at her and then glanced down at myself too. What's so curious about a 24 year old wearing a nice black top, makeup, black jewelry with sweatpants and pink skull boat shoes while holding a cloche hat, multi-color hobo style scarf and a book intended for teenagers?


My new license picture is sooo good. Maybe I'll scan it when it arrives (if I haven't changed my mind about it by then)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's Never How You've Envisioned It.

In which Emily discusses how things are generally not the way you've imagined them.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Apple Snob

In which Emily and Dawn eat apples of the Wine Sap variety.

An open letter to motorists.

Dear Motorists:

I'm sorry if it pains you to have to share the road with cyclists, but please remember this:

Honking to show your frustration only increases the chance that said cyclist will get scared and wobble into your path, with the possibility of your vehicularly causing the cyclist great bodily harm, if not worse. This severely increases the probability of you being seen as the bad guy in the cyclist-motorist-roadway debacle.

Love, Emily

P.S. That was me you almost killed. And I do more that bike. I read. I blog. I vlog. I teach, and when I really feel strongly, I vote.

Should I stay or should I go now?

I haven't been feeling well lately. This is mostly because I'm a sub and every single kid I meet with germs shares them with me over his or her elbow. I've been trying lately to sleep more than usual and I decided that maybe I wouldn't even work this morning, that I would just sleep. About 9 am I couldn't sleep anymore, and I got a call to sub at a school not so far from my house, half day. I accepted, and the computer that was calling me told me to check for the "written special instructions" on the website. Now, as I've mentioned before, these are usually ridiculous if not worthless, but I decided for that teacher-who-thought-herself-meticulous's sake that I would check. The written special instructions were hardly worth the effort of finding and stealing wifi.

"pre-k class"

Ugh. Did I really agree to that? (toss the beanbag!) I don't know if I've mentioned before how my preference lies with the older students. Then I remembered that at this school, pre-k gets out an hour before the rest of the school. Score.

So I grab an apple and drive over to the school. I figure it's pointless to pack a real lunch as I probably won't be having any real breaks anyhow. We spend most of the day at lunch or on the playground (it was such a nice day!) and when we're heading back in, the TA is updating me on the rest of the day. "...and then they go home, and then we have to stay [for another hour.]"


Wait. Wait.

They made me do this my first days of subbing LAST year. Not in this district. And the pathetic thing was, ALL the students had gone home and ALL the teachers were required to stay for an additional hour. I was told by a long term sub. But what do they need *me* to stay for? I'm assuming this end-of-the-day time is reserved for meetings among the teachers, and what in the world would they need me there for? The first day I stayed, fuming. The second day I just left.

So, yea. I usually bring a book with me, but I didn't bother to grab it because I assumed there would be no downtime. I suppose I understand the staying-till-the-end-of-the-day, but the TA has a duty that I don't think I have. And seriously, I'm a sub. They hardly know my name. THERE IS NOTHING FOR ME TO DO.

SO I said "Is there anything else in here that can be cleaned, straightened, organized?"

So I said "I think I'm going to go to the library and help shelf the books"

So that's what I did...but then no one was in the library. No librarian, just one scared looking little girl. So I went to the computer lab and used the internet.

To type this blog.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I don't think I could handle you at 100% health.

Last night I drank a glass of cold duck, hung around, and then went somewhere. When I got in my car, I noticed my throat was sore. By the time I got home, I had a headache to match. This is all after I'd accepted a job to sub for an elementary teacher. The thing about subbing is that, if you don't work, you don't get paid.

When I showed up this morning, they told me that I was in for a reading teacher (score!) but that one of their TAs was out, so they were going to have me cover the morning for the TA. In the ED room. Do you know what ED stands for? No, not that ED. Not that one either. Emotionally Disturbed. Great.

They promised I'd get paid just the same, but...just the same, I wouldn't have taken the job if it was two half days.

There's three ways twohalfdays can go. That's good, bad, or mediocre. (get the reference?)

So, the good would be lots of breaks in the morning, lots of breaks in the afternoon.

Mediocre would be the average amount of breaks, as in a busy morning and a slow afternoon or vice versa.

And the bad, well....did I tell you about my bad experience? Oh right. I did.

Yea. It can be no breaks and hardly a lunch, which doesn't really allow for enough time to rejuvenate if the kids are really trying.

So I go to the ED room and the teacher asks the students to introduce themselves to me. Two do so, one is hesitant, and one is like "YEA RIGHT!! I DON'T CARE!"

Soon after this warm greeting, the teacher asks me to do her a favor. She needs some things picked up from the library printer. She is about to ask me to grab it for her when she realizes it would be a great idea to make one of the students bring me. You know that one that yelled rude things in lieu of his name? Him.

He starts saying that he can do it himself, which is ridiculous, because I can do it myself, and 1. I'm allowed and trusted to walk unaccompanied and 2. I'm not a student in the ED room.

As soon as we walk out the door, he takes off running. He sprints down the hall and I just stop.

"Come on," I say quietly. I am wearing heels. If I wasn't wearing heels, I still wouldn't run. Not in school. We don't run in school.

I poke my head back in the classroom and tell the teacher "he just took off."

She doesn't seem fazed. "Oh yea, he has trouble with that." She then pokes her head out the door and politely requests that he walk with me. He is peeking around the corner.

She goes back inside and I start walking. I hear him say out loud, to no one in particular: "I wish she'd hurry the hell up."

I round the corner to find him standing there, alone.

"One. Watch your language. Two. I'm wearing cowboy boots and Three. We DO NOT run in school."

No one trained me how to work with ED kids. No one gave me tips on how to discipline them so they won't try to murder me.

He walks ahead of me for a few steps and then takes off running again. I walk, normal paced, until I reach the library. He is standing there, waiting for me, but not waiting for me. He goes over the this table where the printed papers are placed. He picks up one stack. He picks up the top paper from the second stack and glances at it, trying to figure out if that's what he's supposed to grab or not. In an attempt to not have been simply taken for a walk, I grab the rest of the stack and hold my hand out for the sheet he was holding. He wordlessly handed it over, walked out of the library, and took off running toward the classroom. I walked my normal pace back, and the classroom teacher just sort of shook her head and smiled.

As she was going over the day with me, she mentioned some sort of morning program. Some elementary schools do this, I think it's a good idea. Get all the kids together, make them talk about the announcements, sing a song, feel like a part of something. What I don't think is a good idea is the part where she mumbled something about it being my break time but I could come along with them to the program.

"Alright," I said before I could realize what I'd agreed to. I hate how some teachers assume that a sub has nothing to do on the plan periods but do their bidding. They pay YOU the big bucks to plan during those times. Me, they pay the small bucks so I can regather my thoughts or maybe work on stuff for grad school.

In the middle of my reeling at being in the morning program, I noticed something that made my head explode.

On the overhead projector were the words to a song about animals. It was something really lame with a cassette version of kids singing in painful falsetto. "I like owls, I like owls..."

When it got to the really exotic animals, grammar rules seemed to be out the window.

"I like hippo's, I like hippo's"

"I like kangaroo's, I like kangaroo's"

The hippo's what? The kangaroo's what? I hate the panicky thing people do when trying to pluralize a word they don't often pluralize that is sprinkling apostrophes where they don't belong. To illustrate how much this bothers me, I'd like to draw your attention once more to Improper Apostrophe.

Directly from there we go into the computer lab and try to type letters. One little girl complains her MS Word isn't working. When I go open up a New Word Document for her, she makes the background green and proceeds to type SILDIDFJJKJKJKJKJKJKJKJKJKJKJKJKJKJKJSDJFJFJFJFJFJIEEEEEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSJKJKJKJ until the page is filled.

After the computer lab, we stop at the gym. The classroom teacher looks at me, says "have fun, see you in 40 minutes," and ushers me into this tiny gym. I felt like saying "Hey, I know you have a break now, but you can come with us into the gym."

In the gym there is no where to hide, and that rude boy with the running? Yea, I'm pretty sure he was TRYING to hit me with tennis balls. Did I mention I'm sick and have a headache? I bet the first time was an accident, but he got so much pleasure out of watching me duck and cover my head that he tried for it again. Again, I was wearing cowboy boots, and I don't think I mentioned, a dress.

After the hell that was gym class was over, the gym teacher made me bring the students to the water fountain and back to the classroom. The teacher inquired as to how gym went. I informed her that almost everyone mostly followed directions, but that the gym is a dangerous place to be. This seemed like news to her. She inquired as to why, and then reproached the students with her ever present half smile that seems to make everything not-a-big-deal. She might have the patience of a saint, but I was losing my patience for her.

She then informed me in elaborate detail about taking two students to the library to do a practice test. I reminded her that I was only to be with them for another 15 minutes. She said that she would have the person coming to relieve me stop at her room so she could explain first. Great. That means even longer that I have to be working with these students.

In the end, the person to relieve me showed up 15 minutes late, and by the time I figured out the classroom I was actually supposed to be in, I was like 20 minutes late for one of my classes. I showed up to the room to find that the classroom teacher had already administered the test that I was supposed to give, and I listened to three students read me tiny books, and then worked on a puzzle.

After this there was a two hour break in my schedule. This is due to 1.plan 2.lunch and 3. a one student class in which the student moved. Without this I think I would have caused a riot.

I, of course, took the opportunity to leave, get gas, buy orange juice and cough drops, stop home, cook lunch, try to upload a video, and read more of Zeitoun.

I'm compiling a DNS list, that is Do-Not-Sub. It may be a mental list, but I doubt I'll lose it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm not allowed to tell you this,

If I've agreed not to tell anyone something, does that indicate that I won't tell the specifics or I won't tell the story? I'm going to take, in this case, it to mean the specifics. So I won't tell you the specifics. (Do I ever? That seems like a good way to never get a job and maybe get sued).

I subbed today. Surprise, surprise. I woke up right when my alarm clock went off, feeling totally awake. I knew I had enough time to go back to sleep, and even though I was wide awake, I took advantage of the half hour. When I woke up, I didn't exactly have enough time to make lunch, so I threw these things in a bag: a container of cottage cheese, a raspberry yogurt, almond butter, jelly, a loaf of italian bread, and a muffin and a half. I don't have a ton of money. Ever. I got a statement about my taxable income from the past...8? years, and I don't quite understand why I don't qualify for food stamps. It's got to be well below the poverty level. Even I was surprised at how little I earned last year, subbing full time and all. So sometimes I'll splurge and get all the ingredients to make a very involved dinner, and sometimes I just eat a lot of beans or toast (but not beans on toast, though I hear that's a regular English snack [breakfast?]). When I arrive at the school I don't have time to put my lunch in the fridge, which is concerning because, as you'll recall, I packed dairy products. It was actually a few hours before I had a chance to do this. By this time, I had eaten the half a muffin. I went to the teachers lounge and put the cottage cheese, the yogurt, the jam and the almond butter in the fridge. I put the whole muffin in my bag, and left the loaf of bread (in its bag in a shopping bag) on the counter. Before I left I noticed a giant ziploc bag of Halloween candy on the counter. Sometimes people leave stuff for you to nibble on. I helped myself to one of the tiniest candy bars ever. The bag was mostly filled with malted milk balls, which I hate. I never understood why people would pay extra to ruin their milkshake like that, and I never got the appeal of the candy. There was one additional tiny candy bar in the bag, and I fought myself for a good thirty seconds before deciding to eat it. I've never been a big fan of finishing up things that aren't mine.

I had felt a little foolish making a point to put my lunch in the fridge at that time, as it would be hardly an hour before I'd be eating it, but oh well.

I went back to the teachers' lounge at lunchtime, and noticed the bag of candy gone. I didn't think anything of this, maybe whoever was sharing decided not to share anymore. I got out my yogurt and my cottage cheese and then realized something else was missing --- my loaf of bread. I've been eating a lot of bread since I bought this loaf. That is to say, I've probably consumed 6-8 pieces of toast, and somehow, the loaf is still larger than most of the smooshy square loaves you find. So, most of a loaf of bread, in its bag in a grocery store bag is no where to be found. I look in the fridge, poking each and every plastic bag contained within. None of them contain a loaf of bread. I look atop the fridge, on the table and counters and in every single one of the cabinets. I stop and think about the steps I'd taken just in case I'd left it somewhere else.

Nope. Definitely left it there.

I find a piece of paper. I write a note. I try to sound as non-accusatory as possible:


EMILY (11/4)


I told the other adult who was working in the room with me. This other adult was furious. This other adult lacks confidence in the trustworthiness of the rest of the faculty and staff. This other adult acknowledged that where I left my bread is commonly read as "up for grabs."

During an afternoon break, I took out a book. A member of the administration poked in the room, asking how my day was going.

"Pretty good, except that someone took my bread...." I really didn't want this to go unnoticed. I was already formulating my blog / facebook status / twitter post about it.

I was angry.

(Dear Thief at Such and such a school. Stealing a loaf of bread? Seriously? They have GOT to pay you more than me. If they don't, I suggest seeking employment elsewhere)

"I heard!!!" the member of the administration replied, voice containing sheer concern.

I described the specifics of the loaf. Italian. Sliced. From that bakery in that town (in case it was spotted).

Soon after, the other adult in the room with me returns, having somehow been filled in on the details of my missing loaf. It feels really pathetic at this point to make such a big deal out of a two dollar loaf of bread, but it wasn't just my lunch. It was my breakfast, lunch, dinner, on and on. It was the vehicle for all the condiments that make up 75% of the food contained within my refrigerator.

The other adult in the room is a fan of italian bread. This makes the crime more heinous. The other adult in the room presses a five dollar bill in my hand. I insist that this isn't neccessary, fight it, try to give it back. I finally give in , pocketing this bill. I tell TOAITR that the bread only costs $2, but TOAITR insists that I deserve two loaves. Soon, TOAITR and I run across the principal, who has also heard about the bread antics. The principal reaches into a pocket, saying "please let me buy you another loaf." I inform the principal that TOAITR has already done so, but no one really needed to do that, I just wanted to get my original loaf back. The principal apologizes profusely, and then asks that I please not tell anyone about this.

So I feel like maybe I'm cheating the principal, but maybe not including the story would cheat the subbing portion of my blog. And I'm going to assume that what the principal was concerned about was the story being linked to the (forever unnamed) school.

It's been a tired, cranky week.It's worse when there isn't food to be had. Going to bed hungry results in difficulties waking up.

Do you think I was getting paid back for eating those candy bars?

Do you think my house got egged because I refused to answer my door on Halloween even though I was clearly home? (I didn't have any candy! Or maybe I was egged because some kids hate me because I'm a sub and they know where I live? Or maybe I was egged by that guy in the Jeep because I honked at him?)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween, loser.

In which Emily Is. Not. Scared. and reads some Poe to her cat, in continuing of a several year long tradition.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Road Rage! Speed Racer.

I was just on my way home from watching The Office with my mom. I could get off exit 7 or 6 to get home, and as I drove around the ramp onto alternate 7, I wondered why I hadn't chosen the other exit. I decided that the convenience of either is probably equal, as one involves more stoplights at the beginning part, and the other at the end. As I waited at a stoplight on 6th, I noticed the vehicle next to me creeping forward. I know exactly what it's doing...I tend to do it myself. The right hand lane becomes a right hand turning lane, so if you want to pass the line of cars in the left lane, you've gotta step on it. I inch forward also, letting the driver know that I'm awake and not planning to hesitate when the light turns green. A right hand turning arrow lit up and said vehicle (which happened to be a Jeep Cherokee) almost drove through it. When the light really did turn green, we both stepped on it, nose to nose, with the Jeep pushing me into the other lane. Finally I decided that winning was not worth crashing my new car, so I slowed up. But I was angry. Doing the right hand speed up lane thing is a jerk move. I know, because I often do it. For some reason, however, I think that it should only be employed and pushed if the other person is old or slow and would thus be in the way. So, in my view, this Jeep was being a jerk. I lay on my horn for...I don't know, probably about a minute. I would have laid on it longer had we not been approaching the police station. I high-beamed on and off, figuring that my station wagon was most likely not tall enough to have any effect. As the Jeep took a right on route 2 (congress? fulton? the west bound one) I started to dread the fact that I would have to be turning left soon, and this is another two laned road and said Jeep would probably try to race me again. Instead, the Jeep pulled into the first left hand turning lane and took a left on 5th. As he waited for the opportunity to turn, I honked again as I drove by. I got a look at him, he looked angry and confused. I mouthed an angry word at him. Small white boy. Why would you race a girl in a station wagon? It's like beating up your grandma. Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should. I took my left up third and thought about how my car isn't made for racing, how I was afraid the offender might work for a school, things like that. When I pulled in front of my house, I took a minute to gather the things in my car, being sure to remove dirty tupperware so I don't have a disaster zone like I left in my last car. I get out, lock my car, and am startled when a vehicle drives by and honks at just the moment it passes me. I get a glimpse as it rounds the corner closest to my house. Sure enough, a Jeep Wrangler. I present my one leg no wing greeting, and go inside.


He knows where I live.


I feel safe in this city because I don't have any enemies. It seems I've made an enemy. Crap. Crap. Crap.

Every car that pulls up freaks me out a bit. Why would one drive up Fifth and then down Second? Down my block? Was this guy LOOKING for me? Did this guy know where I live? Is this a supposed friend of mine? One of the RPI guys? I think they all drive little cars.

Are you the jerk who tried to race me? Show yourself! They don't call me Brazofuerte for nothing!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

it's nice to be appreciated

Subbing is not for the faint of heart.

Yesterday I was subbing in this middle school. Apparently, many teachers were out on some sort of conference, and the kids were going berserk. There was an announcement early in the day stating that any kid getting kicked out of class would be suspended for the rest of the week. The previous day I had subbed in the same classroom, and I only attempted to kick one kid out. He walked out of the classroom, and a monitor never came to escort him anywhere. The monitor showed up 24 hours after the fact, looking for him. When I said that he never showed up to class that day, the monitor said something about that student threatening to beat someone up. Maybe I'm glad he didn't show.

At the very end of the day, I kept an eye on the clock. When I sub art classes, I like to give 5 minutes for cleanup. There was 6 minutes to go. A janitor peeked in and said "it's chair time, isn't it?" because she wanted the student to put their stools up before they left. I tried to say 'no, no, not for another minute' but it was too late, the kids already put their stools up, and refused to keep working, because, after all, they'd already cleaned up. A minute may not seem like a big deal to you, but a full sixty seconds of trying to make sure students aren't sneaking out into the hallway, beating each other up, or doing any other terrible thing that I see them get into when they're not otherwise occupied is rather stressful. The janitor recognized her mistake and apologized profusely. After the bell rang, she came in and apologized some more. "Yea...people do this to me a lot," I told her flatly. Several days prior, a T.A. called clean up 3-4 minutes earlier than I had intended. When I explained that I was waiting for a certain time, and that I was going to let the students leave at the time specified on the teacher's plans, she had said, yea yea it takes them a long time to clean up. Then she excused herself and slid out the door as the entire class stared at me expectantly for a full 4 minutes. Jerk.

So this janitor must be trying to make up for the grief she caused me, because she starts complimenting my classroom management. I would take this as just an attempt to make up, but then she told me that 5 of the subs there that day had (threatened? requested?) wanted to leave soon after they'd arrived. (There had been almost 20 subs there that day).

"It sounds like they don't have any cajones," I reply.

And it does seem that they're lacking in that department. Seriously? If you can't handle the heat, get out of the middle school.

Someone tell me why I don't have a real job yet?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

wolf suit discusses Where The Wild Things Are

In which Emily puts on her wolf suit, and goes into perhaps a little more depth than she did here.

Harvest Time

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This is Why I'm Single.

I met this guy the other day. He was nice enough, and from our initial awkward interaction, I figured we wouldn't have much of a conversation. Of course, I was mostly wrong about this as he soon began asking me questions about myself and telling me a bit about him. Soon we got onto the topic of gardening, which, apparently, we both do a little of. He talked about how his tomatoes didn't do well this year, and I said: "Oh, yea, we had the blight," but he continued on about how he wasn't affected by this and talked about all the rain, and how the only thing that did well were squash. I told him about how last year I grew a lot of carrots, all in one plot and they did really well, but this year I interspersed them with everything else and I didn't get as many. He explained to me that carrots like sandy soil, and I already was aware of this, but didn't feel like making sure he knew that. Then he started talking about how slugs have been eating his zucchini plants, how they eat the flowers (which I didn't know) and then explained how the flowers are necessary, because the zucchini grows from them. Seriously? I think I've known this since I was 10. And honestly, are you not listening to me when I say that I have a community garden plot? That I grow things? That I've been growing things? Why are you assuming that I don't know this stuff?

Later in our conversation, he started talking about things he's studying in school, and before explaining something, he would ask if I was familiar with it. I think he would have been safer assuming I didn't know anything about his area of expertise, and asking about my familiarity with gardening.

No one likes being talked down to.

Also, the other night, I asked one of my good friends six years, if no one loves me, if he would assist in my having children. After a brief discussion as to why I would want or need him for this and not some hobo, he recognized the query as a compliment, and stated that he has six years to think about it. I added that our children would be really cute. He agreed.

I've been thinking about asking him this for some time now. Of course, I hope that within six years, I can be married and planning my own kids with my husband, but things haven't been looking too promising lately, and I have to be serious about things and not put all my....uh, eggs in one basket. I'd put off asking him because I figured it would freak him out and he wouldn't want to be my friend anymore.

Luckily, this wasn't his reaction. He actually even added that we should talk more.

It's a miracle that I have any friends in the first place.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Make your house feel like a home: Living Room / Bedroom edition.

Ch ch ch changes

Do you remember that song / hand game: Where is Thumbkin?

It has to be british. Thumbkin? We would never have come up with that. Also, "very well, I thank you..."

I don't know. Today I was imagining small British children singing the song instead of the American children who reminded me that it existed.

This year I'm subbing in the same districts that I subbed in last year. This is the first time that my subbing has spanned the gap of a summer break in a given district. It is less comforting that I would think it to be, as schools move classrooms around, and make other changes.

This morning I subbed in my favorite elementary school. They apparently changed the part where they're my favorite. Generally, with this school, you sign in when you arrive, tell the woman in the office who you are, and she tells you what classroom to go to. Then you go to the classroom, where there are plans on said teacher's desk, a detailed schedule, specific tasks for that specific day. Generally, when I sub for a special ed teacher in this school she (it's always a she) has a lunch, a plan period, and then ludicrous amounts of free time in between the students she works with.

Today I was to work two half days at the same school. The morning would be for a special ed teacher, and the afternoon for a regular classroom teacher. When I arrived not only was the sign in book missing, but the whole table where it had sat was gone entirely. Also hiding was the woman who tells me where to go. They had apparently given her her own office, which may or may not come with increased responsibilities. Also changed was the ease of exchanged we generally have. She looked pained as she sifted through e-mails and papers trying to figure out where I was supposed to be. She went and found me sub folders. Now, these are a staple in some schools, but not once last year was there made even a mention of these. She handed me a nearly empty one from the special ed teacher, and one that contained nearly a half ream of paper (literally) from the classroom teacher. The woman in the office told me that the special ed teacher works with these two rooms, but did not think she had a room of her own, and knew nothing of a desk. Someone else said her desk might be in this one room, so I went there, and the woman in that room said that the teacher I was covering for never comes in that room, and that she doesn't have plans, and that I should just go to this one room and stay there until I had to go to the other room. Great. No plans, no tasks, no breaks.

The teacher in this classroom shook my hand but didn't tell me what to do. I filled in and opened muffins, tied shoes where necessary. I even listened to a little girl hold up a black crayon and say "my daddy's black!" (Black like this crayon?) "Yep!"
This little girl had chocolate colored skin. Weird.

Then the teacher decided that all the kids were going to draw a picture and write a sentence. She wrote an example on the board for them to copy. One little boy asked me for help, and I crouched down and told him which letters he needed to make the words he was trying to make. All of a sudden I hear the teacher loudly saying that no student was going to be getting help on this, she wanted to see what they could do on their own. Great. Thanks. Way to tell me.

They go to lunch ten minutes before I'm supposed to be to the next classroom. I sit down for three minutes in the teacher's lounge and the report to the next classroom. This teacher has plans for me. These plans say this like: 11:30 - 12:20 English

Instead of writing down what I was to have the students do, she tells me. She shows me a million worksheets with a million different instructions, and then tells me all about different rules for detention and lunch and go home time and this and that and nothing is written down. Then, as she's leaving, she threatens the kids that if she receives a phone call from me, they will be in major trouble. She looks at me and asks if I still have her number, in such a way that I can't tell if I'm supposed to play along. It is soon apparent that she isn't joking. "No...I..." I stammer. She insists that I should have this information because it was included in the special instructions online. I half lied and told her that I didn't have internet access the night before, and she wrote it down for me. I have a special gripe with this part of the sub caller system. You get phone calls asking you to work, and then the phone calls tell you to go online and look at these special instructions. You'd think they could read them to you (some computer-sub-callers do so), but no. And many times, the instructions same something obvious like "plans will be on desk in room 214"

Buhhhh. I have practically broken myself in half to get online to read waste of time special instructions like this. So I'm sorry half-ream teacher who thinks she is over prepared but doesn't leave helpful notes. You will be part of the reason my hair falls out early.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The wrong gender pronoun.

Dear Socially Progressive Parents who allow their son's hair to grow long,

Please don't cut your son bangs. OR, if you do, please accept that, in many situations, your little boy will be mistaken for a little girl. I don't regret making the mistake, but I hope I didn't cause him humiliation.


Lying to Children

Sometimes it is necessary to lie to children. I don't generally advocate it. Mostly, what I do is tell the truth, however relatively that may be.
Sometimes I lie out of annoyance. After getting asked at least 10 times daily if I'm related to Lance, Louie, or Neil, I just start answering flatly: "yes."

The student asking will then grin, look at me and exclaim: "No, you're not!"

So if you didn't really think so, why'd you ask?

Yesterday I was subbing in an elementary art room. I was reading a book to the class, and having the students make predictions. I would take these until it started to get a little redundant or silly; then I would move on. One little girl started crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she whined: "IIII didn't get a tuuurrrrnn!"

"Neither did I!" I said, exasperated.

This is less of a lie, and more just incongruous.

In the same elementary art room, with an older class, I found one student had made it his mission to be a thorn in my side. After 20 minutes of distruption and insubordination, said student started asking to go to the bathroom. I would tell him no, and he would accept this, returning a while later with the same question. At one point he pressed further why I wouldn't let him go.

"Maybe I would have if you weren't being such a wiseahhh...."

I almost said it. But I didn't. I didn't look for his reaction, I didn't want him to see the look of horror on my face that comes with almost swearing at a little boy.

He turned, and quietly asked: "Did ...did you just...say the a w-"

I cut him off: "crack. I said Wisecrack."

Sometimes I lie to children because it is less complicated than confessing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Subbing you is easy 'cause you're beautiful.

Doot-n-doot-n-doo doo, AHHH!

I wouldn't know that song if it weren't for South Park. Yesss middle school.

Also, sort of related but not really, after years and years of searching for people to teach me to play Dungeons and Dragons, I found one in my friends circle... so I think I'm going to be making a trip to Flights of Fantasy in Colonie sometime soon to buy some dice....four sided, six sided, ten, twelve, and twenty.

You don't know how excited I am.

What is art? A video essay in two parts.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Where The Crying Things Are

Tonight I went to see Where The Wild Things Are with my parents. My dad hated it. My mom thought it was mediocre. I thought it was great. Perhaps I'm partial, as a Karen O and Dave Eggers fan (Eggers who has been criticized for being overly twee), but I'm not sure that this was it. I was annoyed by the large amounts of kids in the theater, and I wonder if they enjoyed the film as much as I did. The score was melodic, mysterious, and whimsical in a way that felt very Arcade Fire-ian (though was actually Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O plus a team of indie rock's finest, and a choir of children). The film was very nuanced, which I told my father was the reason he didn't like it ( he complained it had no plot). I appreciate a film that respects its audience as intelligent enough to not have to be told where to draw the connections. That being said, I could see clear connections between the Wild Things and issue's in Max's real world. The characters were complex, and I think that the audience, along with the main character have learned something about themselves by the time the film is finished.

I wonder if two weeks is enough time to make a costume.

Not-In-Balloon boy pwns national news.

Buck pwns not-in-balloon boy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Three Line S

You know the ones, the thing you drew when you knew you were so cool. You know you wrote: $chool $ucks but replace the dollar signs with those angular doodles.

Georgia Who?

Monday, October 12, 2009

distorted self-image

We know that doing damaging things to our bodies has been in high fashion for many years. (Consider the corset or perhaps chinese foot binding). Though these were physically damaging, were they as emotionally damaging as the impossible ideals our society has set?

I once spent a good six months trying to convince a close friend that the girls in myspace pictures were not more pretty than her, they just were wearing more makeup.

Thanks computers.

And take a look at this monstrosity.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

50 Book Challenge, continuted

35. An Abundance of Katherines - John Green
35 a. (AB) Feed - M. T. Anderson
36. Paper Towns - John Green
37. YouTube: An Insider's Guide to Climbing the Charts - Alan Lastufka & Michael W. Dean
38. Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life - Allan Kaprow


The other night at my small group, someone brought up Aslan, who was apparently clearly God when Narnia is I haven't read them. Anyhow, right at the time when Sam was saying "...the Chronicles of Narnia..." right exactly at that time, Dave said "What?"

At first, this seemed unmiraculous, and then it struck me as very funny, and I looked over at Dave to see if his timing was intentional. His straight face revealed nothing.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Suzuki: a feature feature.

If this was canned, it would either be something outside of my creativity level, or maybe just not that funny. But I legitimately found this, last night, in just the way I describe. Win the for?
This video will make more sense if you've watched the "clutterbank" video I embedded a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How do you know Crazy?

I was subbing in a special ed classroom, and I was warned about a boy I was to be working one-on-one with. "He's crazy. Like actually crazy. He just says random things. He hears voices."

Going with this information, I was not phased when he would stop me and say "hold on a sec--" and then make some strained facial motions whilst moaning some almost-sensical phrases. He would then conclude this by saying "Sorry, that was from [name of a movie I know exists but have not seen]."

This was the most crazy thing he did to me, in the several days I worked with him. I wonder if this is really evidence of a reaction or response to voices in his head, or if this is an attention-seeking / ADD / Autism Spectrum thing. I know that higher functioning kids on the autism spectrum will sometimes memorize lines from movies and employ them when it seems fitting, as a way of trying to be part of common conversation.

Perhaps they've taught me about too much for my own good, and all my special-needs education forces me to diagnose every quirky kid I meet. Or perhaps I'm right.

Cliché High

Today and yesterday I worked in the same school. Over the course of two days, three things happened that I thought only really happened in movies or books. I suppose clichés come from somewhere, but I honestly didn't think I would run into them.

1. There was a food fight in the cafeteria. I'm talking at least 150 kids involved. As I was walking down to the cafeteria to get some additional snacks, I saw some of the fallout - notoriously bad kids being escorted away by monitors, black hair smattered with white mashed potatoes or ranch dressing. Shirts splashed with juice. A disgusting mess.

2. There was an un-planned fire-drill (I don't know what to call this). This was not because there was a fire, or even because someone pulled the alarm. This was because a chemistry class made some smoke in an experiment that set off the alarms.

3. This was only rumored, I hope it never came to pass -- students were apparently armed with urine-balloons.

Seriously, is this Cliché High School?

Monday, October 5, 2009

I love you as a sub

Seriously, what is it with people asking me a question, and arguing about my response? If you'll only accept one kind of answer, you need to specify. "What should I have for dinner, Mac & Cheese or Mac & Cheese?" Don't say "Mac & Cheese or Pizza?" if you've got your heart set on one.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Decent Friendship

.and I would like to make decent friendship with you.

...for a moment there, I thought Sonya (bless her heart) had figured out I was stealing her wifi and WEPd me. It looks like that's not the case. Phew!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The value of telling the truth

I believe I rambled about my issues with getting this new car. Perhaps I mentioned the big dent that appeared between the time when we said we'd take it and when we came to sign the papers and pick it up? Russ, the guy who was selling us the car had insisted that the dent must have been there, because *he* drove the car from the K-mart parking lot back to the dealership.

I know 2 things: 1) A dent can happen to a car when no one is inside it. 2) My dad has the eagle-eye when it comes to car exteriors. I wouldn't have even noticed something on my car, and when I pull up into his driveway, he'd yell out the window: HEY! What'd'ya hit?

So, to appease my family, Russ said that we could make an appointment with the "dent doctor" and at that time they'd also re-detail my car (it hadn't been done well at all). So when I finally called to make the appointment, I talked to the receptionist (who asked how she may direct my call): "Yes, I recently purchased a car from your dealership. I worked with Russell Frost. When I picked it up, there was a new dent and Russell Frost told me to call and make an appointment with the dent doctor. Russell Frost."

She decided to redirect my call to the body shop, who didn't answer, so I left a message: "Hi, yes, Russell Frost told me to call and make this appointment yaddah yaddah Russell Frost."

About an hour later, I get an angry call from Russell Frost, who essentially conveys to me that he thinks I'm an idiot.

"You need to call ME for that. I'M the one that sold you the car."

Dude, like I know how a dealership works. I shouldn't even need to be doing this. GAH.

"How's 2 on Wednesday?" he inquires. Did he ask me when I was available? No.

" about 4," I reply, and he agrees.

When he first told me about this, he said it would take about 2 hours. I decided that since I was going right after work I would just bring a book and sit in the waiting room for that time. It wasn't really enough time to try and get someplace else. Also, the weather was crappy. At 4, when I walked into the dealership and handed him my keys, he says: "ok, you're dropping this off?"
"Nope, I'm staying here." He repeats this in a slightly-concerned manner. He tells me he'll be back soon.

I settle into the waiting area and it isn't even 20 minutes before he calls me over to a desk. "Alright, so they've taken a look at your car, and now we just need to make an appointment for the dent doctor."

"WHAT? This WAS my appointment with the dent doctor!!" Can you feel my tension rising? This would have been two whole wasted hours had I dropped it off!!!

"Yea, but the dent is too big to do in-house and it's too late to get the professional today. When are you available next week?"
He asks this as he dials the phone. I scowl. ", anytime after 4, but just not Tuesday.."

As he speaks to someone on the phone, he turns to me and says: "How about 3?"

"No, absolutely not. I can't do that." What the heck dude? SERIOUSLY? Are you trying to make it so I can't ever work, so I can't pay for this damn thing?

"Can't you drop it off before work and pick it up after?" By this point, he has told the person on the phone that he will call her(?) back.

"How'm I supposed to get to work?"

"Can't someone bring you?"

"No! I live in Troy, I work in Troy or Schenectady, my parents live in Saratoga, they work full time, they've got their own thing going on. No."

Then he mentions that they're going to need the car for two full days.

"You said this was going to take TWO HOURS!"

At this point he tells me to calm down, that we're going to figure this out.

"I'm sorry, this has just become a huge hassle."

"But it's got to get done, so when can you do it?"

"Can you please just acknowledge the fact that this has become a huge hassle?"

"Fine. Yes. It has."

He is being very short with me, and is clearly annoyed with the exchange. I have resented this guy since he wrote down the trade-in value for my saturn ($100). I hate him.

"How'm I going to get to work those days?" He does not offer any sort of help on this. Saturn of Albany always drove me where I needed to be when they were working on my car. "Well, maybe I can drive my Saturn. It's a good thing I didn't trade it in He starts telling me that this is impossible, as it doesn't have plates. This notion is false. My Saturn is sitting in my parents driveway in Saratoga, just as drivable as it was two weeks ago. Then he remembers putting new plates on the suzuki. Also, he does not understand why my parents can't just drive down and drop off a car, yadda yadda. I'm not just going to make plans and ASSUME my parents are going to be available and willing to follow through, and I REALLY don't appreciate someone else making plans for me with that same set of assumptions.

"Also, it has been very difficult to work with you. You've been treating me like you don't respect me at all."

Somehow, this personal attack was biting enough to change his demeanor. He takes out a business card and writes "Maria" on it in sharpie. He apologizes and says he didn't realize that I'd felt that way, and if I wanted to just call her and not have to deal with him anymore, then that would be fine. I tell him I just need some time to talk to my parents and discuss what will work for us. I call my mom. Her schedule is certainly not wide open. My uncle is coming to visit from Utah next week. I think they usually let him use one of their cars. She says she'll help me drop off the car on Sunday night so they can work on it Monday. I go back into the dealership to tell him this. All of a sudden, he is offering to have me pick him up, drive him to Saratoga, and he will drive one of the cars back to Albany.

"That's OK, but thanks." We make the appointment, and I bring him outside to show him the place in my car where it looked like much soda was spilled and never cleaned up. The problem with fold out armrest cup holders is that they can be hidden and left a mess. I tell him that the bit of dirt not vacuumed up didn't work me up much, but that armrest thing was completely disgusting and unacceptable. He agrees. "It certainly is disgusting." He explains that at these sales, they sell such a quantity of cars in such a short amount of time that some quality, especially in their already-crappy detail department, declines. I share my year experience as "detail technician" at Hoffman's Carwash. "This would have gotten me fired," I say.

This is a hyperbole. It would have gotten my hours cut down so I was forced to quit.

He asks what he could have done differently to do right by me, and where he went wrong. I try to be vague when answering him, but he pries for specifics.

I recount the phone call where he was mad at me for not calling him directly. He does what you shouldn't do when apologizing: tries to defend himself. He starts explaining that he was the one who sold me the car so why would I talk to anyone else yadda yadda. (Back me up here. If he was the one fixing the dent, then I would understand his frustration. But he is just the middle man.) I explain to him that though I mentioned his name a million times, I was connected to the body shop. "Ohh, so it was a receptionist..." he ponders. As though someone else typically answers the phone? I tell him that quite frankly, even as early as that Monday, when-I-absolutely-couldn't-spend-time-doing-anything-but-my-school-work and yet I was made to go to the dealership, I was pissed. He explained that he had remembered about my paper but my father had told him it was OK.

"It was conveyed to my parents that the car absolutely had to be picked up by Tuesday, and Tuesday I had a doctors appointment and Literacy Volunteers training and we couldn't do it earlier."

Though I stated that in that way to not blame him for anything, he starts rambling that he was the only one who ever talked to my parents, and that picking it up Wednesday would have been fine, it was only important that it was out by the end of the month. Now he is calling my parents liars. Smooth move.

He explains to me that most of the sales reps only last for three months, and he has been there for three years, and he doesn't want me to think he's a sleazy sales guy (he's a different kind of sleaze...he had his sleeves pulled up during this interaction and I could see his painful tattoo). I told him that he'd remedied the situation, and that I'd drop the car off on Sunday.

I called my mom on the way home. "He said WHAT? There's no way! Wednesday would have been better for us too!!

So even if he is some sort of a sleaze or an idiot, I'm no longer so angry at him. Instead of violence or screaming, it is really effective to directly state the truth. I find this also works with students. Some people need to hear that their actions truly do effect others, and watching someone's face drop (in this situation) is really really satisfying.