All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Reentering Society

finally, after months of being under the weather, am feeling like myself again.

mono's a killer -- not in a life-threatening way, but in the headlines reading "beloved young teacher tragically erased from existence" way. indeed, i wondered many times as i lay on my couch watching old "office" episodes how long it would take someone to find me if i did suddenly kick the proverbial bucket. *knock on wood*


fortunately, we'll have to conduct that experiment another time because i'm back up on my feet now. not exactly running my regular rat race of a lifestyle, but i'm at least out of the house every day. at my doctor's suggestion, i'm "easing" myself back into work by cutting my hours down to half-time for a bit. it's not ideal, but there are certainly some benefits, including the following:

1) instead of chasing after a substitute teacher, trying to plan lessons for her, and trying to grade papers based on what i think she's been doing, i've just turned total control of my morning classes over to somebody else. this drops my stress level in a way that no other chemical-free solution can.

2) i get to throw all my energy (which isn't much, but getting better every day) into my afternoon kids, who are loving the extra attention. my first class of the day has only fifteen students, thirteen of them girls. this is approximately half as many kids as a normal class, which raises the quality of discussions and activities through the roof and allows us to move at whatever pace suits us that day. brilliant!

3) i get a lot of sleep. a lot. typically about ten hours a night. i think the last time my schedule allowed this, i was sleeping ten hours a night in those one-piece jammies with the feet. this is exactly what my body needs; i feel better every day.


but that's just work.

the other parts of my life (ya know, the important and interesting bits) are starting to normalize too. i actually went out with a bunch of friends last night, to many merry cheers of "G! YOU'RE HERE!" every time someone else arrived. turns out i've been knocked out of the game so long, my friends now have a regular spot in this new pub that i hadn't even been to yet! they know all the bartenders and everything! yeesh! of course, i'm not allowed to have anything to drink because of the meds i'm on, but at least i was there!
got to exchange monotales with big'n'tall and hear about his latest brush with death (i'll spare you details, but it involves a chainsaw and a major artery). most of the other people there were casual acquaintances whom i started spending more time with once liz abandoned me to marry some guy and bizarro moved to iowa to pursue her acting career (really).

i'm sure i'll be talking about them more in future, so i might as well introduce you.

first, there's fay. fay's awesome. she teaches elementary school, so we have a lot of teacher-bonding moments. fay's also one of those low-key, confident people who's supremely easy to be around. she doesn't bowl anybody over or dominate the limelight, but she has a way of being in the center of things without ever pushing or interrupting. i wish i could be more like her. she also has one of those on-again-off-again relationships that i don't even ask about anymore because i gave up keeping track.

her on-again-off-again guy is tom, who is generally quiet but always has one of those wry half-smiles on his face. clever, generous, all-around solid guy. the only weird thing about tom is that he hunts every day of bow season. every day. religiously. i don't know anyone else who does that and i think it borders on a compulsion.

every group of friends has that one guy who sits there quietly watching all evening and then with a totally straight face says the driest, funniest thing you've ever heard in your life. by some gift of fate, our guy is actually a pair of twins. they play off each other brilliantly -- never have i met two people who have their act down so flawlessly. they run a little advertising company and are currently working on a campaign for a gay rodeo. what else can i say?

then there's watz. watz is this crazy, ginger-headed guy who works at a bank, which seems totally out of character to me. i can only assume that the intense energy and noise radiating out of him in the evening are just a reaction to being pent up in a necktie all day. last night, while sipping on a gummy bear martini, watz solemnly declared that he has given up on women. he meant this to be surprising, but it was met with some relief from the ladies present, as we've all given up on him.

there's also another girl -- we'll call her bekah. i never have any idea what she's thinking. ever. this is very unusual for me and somewhat disconcerting. for now, i'll leave it at that and i just won't play poker with her.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Big P/T C

so... let's talk about parent/teacher conferences.

the first time i ever went to a parent/teacher conference was when i was student teaching. my mentor teacher, yvonne, thought it would be a good experience for me to come along and listen in, though i didn't really have much to contribute, since i was just a stupid college kid. (my words, not hers.) we sat in her classroom all evening as the parents filtered through and asked about how their little susie or billy or whoever was doing in english class.

three years later, i don't remember much of that evening. i do remember one parent. she came in, quite flustered, sat down, pulled out her daughter's progress report, and burst into tears. TEARS.

for a moment, i thought maybe it was because her child was failing the class.... o no. she had a B. probably even a B+. how unstable of a mother do you have to be to weep in frustration and disappointment over a B? how screwed up will your child be by the time she graduates from college? even the wisest cannot tell.

somehow yvonne talked her down and we all survived the horrifically embarrassing encounter, but i've got to admit: it's sort of tainted my idea of conferences. every time a parent walks up to me, i always think "i wonder if she'll cry. what will i say if she does?"

the building where i work now is absolutely huge, so we don't do conferences in our classrooms. parents just have too much trouble navigating the corridors and hoofing it up and down the four stories worth of stairs. instead we all sit at tables in the gym in alphabetical order and the parents wander around to find us. (incidentally, you'd be surprised how difficult the concept of "alphabetical order" is to a lot of parents.) i was on the lookout for a weeper again this week, but luckily she didn't come.

most of my conferences go well, as i have a lot of high level kids who basically do their work and behave themselves. i was a bit nervous about this year, since i've been out sick -- nervousness spurred primarily by a dire warning i received from a coworker -- but none of the parents took issue with that, and many of them were genuinely concerned about my health. (i've got to remind myself to stop listening to warnings from people who don't have the same charisma points i have. parents friggin' love me.)

at any rate, i did have a couple awkward encounters i want to share with you.

the first was a darling little mexican woman whose son is in one of my writing classes. she sat down and we exchanged pleasantries for a moment. i told her that her son is delightful to have in class -- great sense of humor, really neat kid. then i pulled out his grade report and gave her the bad news. he's not failing. he has a "0%". that's right. he has NO grade in my class because he has turned in absolutely, positively, not one blessed piece of work all year. i know he does his work. i sit there and watch him do it. then i go grade the stack of papers and he never, ever, even accidentally turns anything in. *shrug* i dunno what you want from me, lady.

only a few minutes later, another mom sits down and asks how her daughter is doing in my class. well, i say, i had her last year, so i know her pretty well, and i'm sure she'd be doing fine in the class if she was ever IN the class, but she's not. ever. i haven't seen her in two weeks. at least. she's been marked absent every day and you should be getting phone calls from the attendance office every day. mom looks puzzled. "she leaves the house every morning..." well, yeah, they all leave the house every morning. they don't all come to school.

but the true delight of parent/teacher conferences comes the next day. the "0%" kid hands me a folder with every assignment for the entire year in it, all beautifully done. the truant kid shows up at last, grumbling about how i "hoed" her out to her momma.

:-) i love my job.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Down with the Sickness -- The Mono Chrons Cont.

o yes, i'm still down with the sickness. i was very well-behaved and took three whole weeks off work, but i can't stand it anymore. one can only spend so much time cooped up, you know.

this week, i'm attempting to be back at work half-time. this should actually be less stressful than staying home, where i'm constantly behind on paperwork and trying to chase down substitute teachers who don't return phone calls. sometimes i wish i was a substitute teacher -- then i could get paid $80 a day to show up late, lose things, and ignore all the work and energy the actual teacher has put into lesson plans a chimpanzee could carry out. if anyone had a problem with it, i could just say "well, i didn't know" and that would make everything all right.

okay, enough bitter ranting.

i'm back with my kids in the afternoons, and that's the important part. luckily for me, my afternoon kids are actually my really good kids -- one honors american lit class and two senior writing classes. as every teacher knows, students fall into two basic categories: those who invigorate you and those who suck the life out of you. these kids are the former, so even in my somewhat delicate condition, i actually felt better after spending time with them than i do just loafing about at home.

* * * * * * * * *

in other news, i got a very exciting phone call from one of my brothers yesterday. he called under the guise of asking how i was feeling and then said he wanted to cheer me up. naturally, i supposed he meant he was going to do a little song and dance number for me or recite a little poem or maybe send me a gift of some kind... after all, that's what i do to cheer people up. but no! he had a much better plan.

he called me "aunt g."

then he said, "o hang on, *other brother* is on the other line. just a second," and put me on hold!


i sat there for a second musing. when he came back, i felt it necessary to clarify. "we aren't talking about your stupid cat, are we? 'cuz i'm not that cat's aunt. and we're not talking about *other brother's* new dog? i mean, we're talking about your wife being pregnant, right?"

we were, indeed, talking about his wife being pregnant.

so sometime in mid-april i'm going to be an aunt. i come from a sizable family, but currently, the youngest "baby" in my family (both sides included) is my cousin, who is twenty and engaged, so it'll be quite a change for us to have a little one around.

that is pretty damn cool.
warthog xing