All this happened, more or less...

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

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Break Phase II: Livin' the Rough Life

Very Nearly Impossible

After exhausting myself skiing, I need to go on an actual spring break to someplace with pools, palm trees, and lots of rum. The only logical solution is to go visit my aunt and uncle for a bit. They've recently finished constructing their dream home in Florida -- a lavish little number oriented around a graceful lanai. The front of the house opens up entirely to the lanai and faces a little canal, where the folks can conveniently pop down the dock for a little bout on their modest yacht. I'm sitting in the lanai at the moment, watching the sailboats passing, listening to the little frogs in the palm trees, sipping on a Rum Runner.

And snickering to myself about the snow that's still piled high at home.

I may live from paycheck to paycheck in the bitter North, but that doesn't mean I can't take advantage of my better-to-do relations in the Tropics.

The Canal

For the next few days, I intend to do very little. When I return to work, we only have two months left in the year, and it'll be a mad rush to graduation. Once summer starts, my shenanigan schedule is packed from the first of June until Labor Day. So this little pause is a welcome Calm before the Storm.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spring Break! Phase I


Dating a college student comes with a unique set of complications. While other women get hurt and huffy when their menfolk work 'til 5:30 or 6 (primarily because dinner's gotten cold), my Mr Right is in class until 10:30 in the evening at least twice a week. Other days, he's home before noon but barricaded into a corner by Statics & Structures, The Physics of Soil Composition, and fifteen volumes of Basic Real Estate Law. Leaving work at "the office" is a laughable impossibility. When he does make an honest attempt to get everything done at the library, he ends up in the library until midnight. If he brings it home, he spends all day Saturday hunched over the my Mac typing papers or doing the infamous CAPA problems. In short, it's not really the boozin' good time that I remember college being. This isn't exactly Boyfriend's fault. Given that he's completing six years worth of study in four years worth of all-nighters, he does a pretty remarkable job of managing a cumbersome load of responsibility, but he does stray precariously close to the All-Work-No-Play Zone on a regular basis.

Just when I think I can't take it anymore, he gets his Spring Break.


Spring break is a time-honored festival for high school and college students alike. They shake off the winter doldrums, go to Cancun, and spend a week throwing back shots of tequila diet Cokes*, listening to Jimmy Buffet, and getting sun-burned.

At least, that's my idea of a proper spring break, especially when it's still snowing in Michigan at the end of March. (Curse you, Global Climate Change! shaking fist at ozone layer)

Of course, Boyfriend's idea of a proper spring break is 180° different from mine. He insists on spending the week on the side of a snow-covered mountain, with brief but frequent breaks to play poker and drink brewskies. Nothing about this strikes me as "springy", but I go along anyway because I'm a pretty respectable poker player and I really do love to ski.


The fine art of downhill skiing is a new addition to my little Bag'o'Tricks. I went for the first time last year, but I haven't gotten in much practice this season due to the lingering effects of The Sickness. In the last couple of months, I've finally been feeling 100% and hearing the sweetly tempting call of The Slopes.

Skiing is the perfect sport because in it one finds the delicate balance between ecstasy and terror. On the one hand, you zip downhill with the wind in your hair and the snow crunching under your skis, all your being focused on carving your sassy way down the mountain. On the other hand, you could be killed or maimed at any moment. For a rookie skier, every run presents at least a dozen obstacles that might lend themselves to your untimely demise. If I had known how awesome it was, I wouldn't have waited so long to try it.

It's my duty to report that on this particular trip, I conquered my first Double Black Diamond -- a steep, narrow run lined by trees and littered with jumps (both excellent candidates for bringing Death and/or Maiming). I am told that I have chutzpah. Fortunately, Boyfriend and I both managed to cheat Fate and return home with all appendages attached, brains safely stashed in skulls, and only a few bumps and bruises.


After his brief sabbatical into the Land of the Living, Boyfriend is now buried back under his pile of books, and I'm packing my bags again. Next week, I head to Florida for my actual spring break, and I'm looking forward to some much-needed face time with Mr Sunshine.

*Part of my continuing campaign to be a positive role model for the impressionable youth. How am I doing?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Daily Grind

Every job has its perks and its quirks. In college, I managed a little coffee bar and had the delightful privilege -- nay, the duty -- of starting my day with a free 20 oz. latte. Every day. This was important because as I sat at the register drinking my cup of joe, I demonstrated to the passing populous that I believed in the quality of our product. It also served as the "test run" to insure that the machine was working properly and that the grind was up to a Goldie Lockean standard of excellence.

On the other hand, my coworkers insisted on watching Dawson's Creek from 10 to 12 every morning. The only thing about that show that I ever enjoyed was the time that Jen's dying wish was for Joey to make up her frickin' mind!!!


You don't often see those moments of raw honesty in teen dramas.

Speaking of teen drama...

(Wasn't that a good segue? I knew you'd like it.)


Teaching high school is a bit like being in a very bad spin-off series of Dawson, but with fewer moments of inane personal reflection and more hip-hop. Regardless of the official curriculum, every group of students is an entirely fresh experience, so while I should have only two preps (that's teacher talk for two different courses), I actually have four. This year, I am inadvertently teaching the following courses:

Writing in the Hood -- In Writing in the Hood, we explore what it means to string two or more sentences together coherently in an attempt to convince the tax-payers that American public education is not an utter charade. Please do not be offended when I tell you that "You be trippin'" is not grammatically correct. I do respect your culture; it's just that you're about to graduate, and I want you to be able to get a job that doesn't involve a funny little hat.

Just Trying to Make it to May -- The students in the Just Trying to Make it to May course skim dutifully over the surface of many interesting pieces of literature. We can't be expected to remember to do work outside of class, but in class we will not protest to doing copious amounts of reading and grammar exercises. Occasionally a fiery discussion of some kind will spring up, reassuring the instructor that all pulses are still pumping. We're not really here to learn, but we don't mind if it happens accidentally.

Modern Women for a Matriarchal Utopia -- Extra credit assignments in this course consist of such lofty aspirations as "Create World Peace in Seven Steps or Fewer" and "Become the Supreme Ruler of the Earth Using only the Internet and Four AA Batteries". The name is not deceiving -- this group of students is, by some fluke of scheduling, 100% female. I estimate that the probability of one of these young women actually becoming a world leader is about 7:1 for. Not only does this course cover the required federal, state, and College Board material for both eleventh grade English and AP Language & Comp, but discussions very often branch into the realms of philosophy, international politics, religion, and art, as well as the finer points of linguistics. For example, the other day a student quite astutely observed that the word "of" sounds like "uv". I responded with a somewhat brief explanation of the concept of voiced and unvoiced sounds (in this case, fricatives). This blossomed resplendently into an intricate exploration of the evolution of language in general and English in specific, including -- but by no means limited to -- Indo-European roots, the Battle of Hastings, and why we shouldn't be so quick to judge those who say "aks" instead of "ask". In a normal classroom of 16/17 year olds, I'd have lost them at "fricative" (Hu hu! She said "frick!"), but my Modern Women were on the edges of their seats, all attention riveted on the discussion, every voice chiming in to confirm that they really did a) understand and b) care.


I Think I'm Smart & My Mom Says I'm Special -- The title of this fourth and final course really says it all. This course was originally supposed to have the same material as the Modern Women course, but as I said, no two groups of students are the same. The major flaw in the I Think I'm Smart & My Mom Says I'm Special class is that sometimes there just isn't enough Smart and Special to go around. When Student X receives some Smart in the form of the instructor saying "Yes, X, that's correct," Students A-W universally resent Student X, feel it necessary to defame and slander Student X behind his/her back, and may eventually make Student X feel so uncomfortable that he/she refuses to speak up in class again. It's important to note that Student X is not one particular student -- simply whichever student has answered the question correctly. The equal distribution of Special is also cause for malice and unrest, but this is aimed particularly at students who have long-standing relationships with me, the instructor and Highly-Qualified Distributor of Smart and Special. These unwitting victims include students who had me last year, students who participate in a club that I advise, students whose brothers or sisters are friends of mine, and my second-cousin-once-removed who simply can't help coming from a long line of literary geniuses.

With a day as colorful as this, who would want any other job?


Okay, I do kind of miss the free coffee...