Friday, February 27, 2004

Ideas, please.

...somebody get me outta here.

I started to post the event that happened to me today, but deleted it. I just can't live through it again. I'm still stunned, and somewhat reeling. It wasn't a good kind of stunned, either.

So, instead of reliving the horrifying events of today, I am going to make a list of...

Things I Would Rather Do Than Teach In That Woman's Class Again

1. Watch "Survivor."
2. Get a bikini waxing.
3. Watch anything on Fox. (Actually, I am into the "Celebrity Spelling Bee." Fox got a word wrong! "Supersede." Carol Liefer spelled it "supercede" and they said she was right! WRONG! Check the dictionary, Fox! I already emailed them a letter. Yes, I am a geek.)
4. Drive through Nebraska.
5. Drive through Houston during rush hour.
6. Milk a goat.
7. Bite myself.
8. Stub all my toes at once.
9. Get a UTI.
10. Gouge out my eyes with a white-hot poker covered in fire ants.

--groovygrrl, queen of clarity

Thursday, February 26, 2004

I hope you have this experience someday. heartwarming.

Last night, I googled a friend, to see if there were any photos of him on the web. He's an actor, and I am out of contact with him. I was hoping to see if he had been doing anything important enough to be photographed.

I found some imgaes of him! However, the photos were from many years ago, in college. It was from this theatre group we had at the University of Iowa, called No Shame Theatre. Every Friday night, at 11:00pm, we would pack ourselves into Theatre B, paying $1.00 for the pleasure of actors trying out their personal works. Most of these pieces we viewed were funny. Some were dramatic, some were meant to provoke thought. The pieces performed were submitted at 10:30pm, and there were largely no rules about who could perform. You just couldn't mess up the theatre.

In any case, I was looking through the No Shame (Iowa City) website, and found their archives. This surprised me , because when I was doing the No Shame thing, the internet was just beginning to be a reality (1988-1992). Most of their archives are just notes from the order of the performances. Very few scripts exist from back then; if they do, it is because the writer/actor submitted them within the last few years.

I was intrigued by all of this, and set out to find my name. I performed a few times in No Shame Theatre, and wondered if it was logged. I couldn't believe what I found.

In some notes that a woman took from back then, were these words:

"...wonderfully enticing limericks from a beautiful young woman...who is that woman in blue??? (sounds like A-- H---)."

She was talking about me. I was the one with the limericks. I had this schtick where I would pretend to give a poetry lesson, and then completely botch whatever form of poetry it was. The people found it funny, I remember that. It worked at the time.

What I didn't know was some woman I had never met thought I was a beautiful young woman. She also thought enough of me to add my name (spelled incorrectly, but she had only heard it, not read it), and ask herself who I might be, in her journal that she kept of the performances.

I am stunned and happy. My heart is 3 times the size it was yesterday.

Someone thought I was the beautiful young woman in blue.
Someone thought I was funny and intriguing.
Someone thought I was important enough to literally take note.

And I never knew it.

--groovygrrl, queen of nostalgia

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

It was Punny.

...what he said.

So I'm in class today, teaching with S., who loves puns. I generally don't. Generally, I find them eyeroll-worthy. However, today he made one that made me laugh out loud.

We were discussing myths and mythology with our 7th grade students. S. says to the class, but I know he's really talking to me, "So! Why was Medusa really hip?"

And the kids responded, "Huh?"

And S. said, "Medusa. You know, monster in Greek mythology, snakes for hair. Why was she hip?"

And the kids responded, "I don't know." ..and their eyes glazed over.

And then S. said, "...because she got her Gorgon."

And I busted out laughing.

--groovygrrl, queen of tomfoolery

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Baby Girl eats! at eleven.

I think it will be hard for me to explain the unfettered joy I felt when I learned that my Baby Girl was eating again. Unless you have a child, or are particularly attached to an animal who has been ill, you might not get it.

My baby was ill, as I had written before. We took her to the doctor on Friday, and he said she had a run-of-the-mill bug, and we needed to just wait it out. We were doing everything right: lots of fluids, the B.R.A.T. diet, etc. She just wasn't eating much at all. She would have 3 bites at breakfast, and the rest of the day, she would drink apple juice.

I really started to worry when I picked her up from her nap on Saturday, and she felt cold. Last week a fever, and this week? 95.7 degrees. She was scaring me.

Therefore, I was completely rejuvenated yesterday morning, when she had a huge poopy diaper that was semi-solid, for once! Woo hoo! I thought she might be recovering, and she was. Papa reported to me that she had been hungry all day, and was eating a lot at each meal. She even sat with me in the evening, and had a snack after her dinner, while I ate mine.


I've never been so happy to see another person eat.

--groovygrrl, queen of motherhood

Sunday, February 22, 2004

What do you do when... feel constantly insulted?

I think I am going to have a serious problem going to school tomorrow. Getting there physically isn't the problem, I mean mentally and emotionally it will be difficult. More and more, I hate the job.

So jaded! So cynical I am! So talking like Yoda I am! See? See what public schools do to a person? get myself through, I am going to focus on subversion. I will have to subvert the act of teaching into something meaningful. I believe I will start with a moderately-sized, handmade sign, taped to the wall above my computer. It will read, "Do you care?" To others, it will appear that I am an advocacy zealot, constantly reminding myself that I am a teacher because I care.

Of course, I will know, and now you know, I will post it there so I can remind myself, "No, I do not care, and I don't have to care. I just have to do a good job and go home." Which is what I will tell myself everytime I look at it.

"So sad, Amy! That is such a sad story!" you opine.

"Zip it, Freakshow!" I reply. "I care about my family! I have cared about everybody else's family for my entire career! Doesn't my family deserve my care?"

"Well, jeezy creezy, when you put it that way, I kinda feel like an ass," you say to me.

"Well, you should," I say back. Then I stomp off, trying to shake off the guilt that years of indentured servitude have impressed upon me. Then I grumble, "Sorry. You are not an ass."

I am trying not to feel like one, myself. THIS is what public school does to a person. It makes a person feel bad for wanting to take care of her own family.

--groovygrrl, queen of free agency

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I teach and teach and teach

...and then I come home and collapse.

Most days, that's how it goes. I wonder if my day seems normal to anyone. So, here goes:

A Day In The Life of Amy, Teacher/Public Servant

4:45am: Alarm rings. This is the alarm on my cell phone, as Baby Girl smashed my wonderful Zen alarm clock that woke me with a gentle *ding! .......ding!* each morning. She didn't know any better....'twas my own fault.

4:50am: I shut off the snooze feature, and get up. Pee. Brush teeth. Et cetera.

5:15am: Breakfast. Sometimes.

5:30am: Dress

5:40am: Breastfeed Baby Girl. This part of the plan is slowly receding. Some days she wants to, and some days she wants to sit in her crib and talk to Monkey. Whatever, Girly!

6:00am: Leave house to either a) catch the bus or b) walk to work. Either way, I get there on time. It pretty much depends on how cold it is. Cold=bus.

6:45-6:50am: Arrive at school.

7:00am: Power up computer. Situate my outerwear. Get water. Email S. See that he is coming to my office to talk. Finish my email, anyway. Talk w/S about the movie we are writing. Sometimes we plan for class.

7:25am: Go to 1st period. Stand in hallway and greet students for the morning. Receive varying comments, the range of which is: "Good Morning, Ms. K!" to , "uuuunnngh."

7:30am: Period 1. Math class w/K.

8:15am: Period 2. My planning period. I either a) plan for my day in my office, doing paperwork, emailing folks, creating work for kids, meet w/team members to plan for classes, meet w/parents or b) go to Starbuck's w/S, and plan with him on the way.

9:12am: Head upstairs to...

9:15am: Period 3. Reading class w/A.

10:07am: Stand in hallway and tell the 8th graders to get it together, do they think this behavior will get them anywhere in high school, and would you please pull up your damned pants?

10:11am: Work with kids w/autism on writing and keyboarding skills, until

11:00am: My lunch, during which I am usually a)working. There is no b) eating, unless I am c) apathetic, at which point I will put my feet up and b) along with d) reading a good book.

11:53am: Period 6: My resource class. Work w/7th grade kids on their homework. Tell the 6th graders to shut it. More homework w/7th graders. Tell the two 6th graders to shut it, already, they are on their last warning. More homework, some whining from 7th graders, send one of the 6th graders downstairs, document the action, and then that's about time for...

12:45pm: The bell.

12:49pm: Period 7. Language arts w/S. Teach teach teach. Until...

1:38pm: The bell. My IEP time. Time to write IEPs, meet w/parents, call parents, email parents, email people downtown who are supposed to help me, realize that I have a new kiddo with an IEP, go to the file to get it, but it isn't there because the school hasn't sent it yet, so how am I supposed to teach this new kid, well don't worry about it, Amy, he's suspended already, anyway.

2:30pm: Last bell. School's out. Sit in my office and do work until

3pm: Time to go home. If there isn't a meeting, and there usually is.

Let's assume I do get to leave. Well, I don't go home, now, do I? I either

a) go to a class that I hate, which I have done before, and don't even want


b) go home, feed my baby, then at

4:30pm: run off to

c) my college class that I'm teaching. Teach teach teach. Become exhausted.

8:30pm Arrive home. Collapse.

Now, someone help me. Does everyone do this? That's a Thursday I just described, where I get up at 4:45am and get home at 8:30pm. Does everyone live like this? Is it just me?

Oh, and don't PAY me what I deserve, either!!!


--groovygrrl, queen of crankiness

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

My Baby is Ill

...and I am very sad.

I was out and about today. I had a lot of reading to do (homework for the class I hate, but I can't bring myself to slack off...too much pride, I guess. Nah, stupidity), and sat in Starbucks for a few hours, nursing my Venti-Soy-NoWhip-Mocha. Yum. I was not enjoying the activity, but was thoroughly enjoying my time by myself. I don't often have a moment that is all to myself. It was refreshing.

I finished reading. Got in my car. Drove on down the road and realized: I haven't been to the dentist in a long time! I thought this because I was driving right by the dentist office. So I stopped in and made an appointment. Good for me.

Went to Target after that, and spent some birthday money (thanks, mom) on some coteure (sp?). Clothes, people! I can't spell in French! Mon dieu!

Met w/Sherri after that, for some lunchy lunchy. It was very refreshing (again with the refreshing?) to sit with her and catch up on things. We decided, since she still had some time before going to work, that we would meet at the Apple store, to drool over computers.

No such luck. I checked my voicemail, and Israel had called. My baby had vomited twice, and had an explosive blowout of diarrhea. Eep! I drove to the store for some electrolyte sugar water stuff and popsicles.

My poor baby! She had yet another poopy blowout, vomited again, and has a fever! Don't worry, I have checked with the medical professionals, and I am handling it as best as can be at this moment. Poor little chicken took 3 naps today, and is already in bed. I expect she will wake up tonight, dehydrated. Poor, poor, chicken.

Israel is also feeling ill! Therefore, I am taking tomorrow off from work to care for Baby Girl. I guess Israel is on his own.

--groovygrrl, queen of healing

Monday, February 16, 2004

President's Day Break which Amy sleeps in until 6:30am, watches Teletubbies and has a stroke...

One of the only benefits of teaching in public schools are the breaks. Today is one of them. We get today off because it is President's Day, and we get tomorrow off because of budget cuts. Whatever. I get a 4-day weekend, during which I can relax, refresh my mind, and spend time with my family.

"Ha!," you shriek, as you point at me, accusingly,"You're full of crapola! I know you are working while you're home! You can't just sit and relax! You teach in public schools! Liar! Liar!"

......oooooh, you're right. I am doing work this weekend. However, my husband is sleeping in at the moment, and I'm spending time with my baby girl, who is currently watching Sesame Street. We both dig on Sesame Street, especially the "Journey to Ernie" segment and, of course, "Elmo's World." Unfortunately, I turned the tv on a little early (I don't know when SS is on! I work all day!), and the Teletubbies were there.

*blinkblink* Ok, folks. Have you seen this show? Frankly, it frightens me. There's this baby face inside the sun, that looks down on the Teletubbies, like some freakish, infantile Big Brother. It laughs at them. I don't like it.

Furthermore, these Teletubbies don't quite speak. They say something that sounds like, "Uh oh!" and "bye bye!" They also said, "Do it again!" when one Teletubbie (named Flippy-dippy, I think) broadcast this little scene of kids doing crafts. Well, Flippy-Dippy actually broadcast it...again! They showed the same little crafty segment twice! Then they danced around and said, "Flippy dippy! Poo! Pee Diaper! Wee Wee!" proclaiming their names, said good-bye, and jumped down their rabbit hole.

Yaaaaaaaah! I cannot deal with this! I can deal with the fact that Flippy-Dippy is gay. I don't care about that. I worry that they are DERANGED! And that damned Baby-sun god freaks me out!

So now, we are groovin' on Sesame Street. They are singing karaoke at Hooper's store today. All together now: "Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhood? .....we are the people in your neighborhood. We're the people that you meet, when you're walkin' down the street, we're the people that you meeeeet, eeeeach daaaaaaaay!"

Unlike those Teletubbies. *shudder*

--groovygrrl, queen of days off

Friday, February 13, 2004

Valentine's Day Social

Teenagers and Modern Love-Fests

Yes, you should be cringing by now. Today was the Valentine's Social. 400 12-14-year-olds in a darkened gym, with DJ music blaring, streamers streaming, and teachers "on duty." My duty wasn't too bad: I was helping sell pizza, soda, pickles, and candy, which was in the adjoining gym. Hectic, but not unbearable.

Steve had detention duty. Some students didn't even make it to the social. I would count them among the "lucky few." They got to sit up in the cafeteria and do their homework. Steve got to sit there and watch them. This would be considered the "easy" duty.

Then there are the other teachers who were actually in the dance area of the social. I suppose their duty could be called, "Grope Detail." Not fun. It's hot in there, the kids are all acting like fools, and it's a modern cultural "love day." Please!

It's just grody, you know? All these sweaty, pubescent boys and girls, "dancing" with each other.

EEEeeeeewwww. It's just eew.

I'm glad I'm finally home for a 4-day weekend.

--groovygrrl, queen of valentine's day

New Link

Someone reallly likes me!

I have been informed that Susie Q. has linked to my site. Since she is a teacher, and we folk tend to stick together, even if we don't know each other, I am adding her blog to my links, as well. I hope you enjoy us both.

--groovygrrl, queen of parity

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Goober Central

Not everything regarding teaching is bad.

My favorite quotes from students:

1. (While I was eating chips, after school): Miss! You can't eat with your mouth full!
My response: Really? How do you eat?

2. (After a discussion about whether or not their dad was present when they were born): Yeah, my dad wasn't there when I was born. My mom wasn't there, either.

3. (This is proof that they listen to every word you say...when she was urging a kid to open his book and get started, this student said): Dude, use the two brain cells you have to rub together!

4. (Our perennial annoying favorite, which happens almost every day): Do we have to write this down? Our response, every freaking day: If I write it down, then it's probably important enough for you to write it down.

5. (Aaaaand this is probably my personal favorite): Miss! I'm not late, my stuff was here!

Coming Soon: 803 Reasons Why Teaching In Public School Will Kill You Slowly

--groovygrrl, queen of snappy comebacks

What I Figured Out The Other Day

It Happened During a Math Meeting

While sitting in an all-day math meeting (don't even think about it, folks. Seriously. We don't need any more of us even contemplating it), bored as usual, I began to make a plan. The plan is for me to quit teaching.

"No, Amy! You can't quit!" I heard all of you shouting.

"Shut up!" I shouted back in my head, "I can't make my business plan with all this badgering!"

"But Amy! You can't quit teaching! You are so good at it! And you will miss the kids! Isn't that why you are a teacher? Because of the kids?"

" I thought I told you to SHUT IT!" I shouted back in my head, even louder. And I continued to make my plan.

This plan of action involves me becoming a freelance commercial writer. I want to be paid for something I enjoy. I don't mean paid here-and-there. I mean, paid so that my bills are covered and my baby's butt is covered by some clothes, and I don't have to wonder about where it's coming from. I mean, paid so that we can go out to eat once per month, and not worry that our budget is going to suffer, and on the 30th of the month we'll have to eat rice three times per day. I don't want that. I want real money.

I've read up on it. I recommend a book titled The Well Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman. It is easy to read, and full of practical advice about becoming a writer that actually gets paid. Ok, and thanks to my friend L., who first recommended the book to me, and got me started with blogging. She's part of this insanity, too.

Details on all that, later. So I'm sitting there in the all-day math meeting ("Fun For The Whole Family"), not listening, happy to have a break from school in any form, and making calculations. This is what I came up with:

1. Realistically, I need to make $This Amount per year to pay my bills, feed my family, and have some savings. That's with very little credit card debt, either, folks. And I own my car outright, so no lectures. Thank you.

2. I cut that number in half, to be realistic. That number is $HalfTheAmount. That's the amount of money I want to make by writing, part-time.

3. I multiplied that number by 5 years (my goal for quitting teaching) and got $5xTheAmount. That's the amount of money I can save in 5 years, if I save all my writing money.

4. I multiplied that number by .66, in order to be real about us spending some of the savings. I am now at $5xtimes2/3TheAmount.

When I have that much money saved, I'm quitting teaching. It's possible. For those of you who know me, you know I'm not afraid of hard work. If I bust my rear on getting writing jobs as hard as I bust my rear getting an education I don't even want, imagine how much money I'll make. For those of you who don't know me, then send me a comment! We'll talk.

"But, Amy!" you still cajole me,"Why on earth would you want to quit teaching? It's such a noble profession!"

No. I disagree. Nobility has nothing to do with taking the scraps that are thrown to me from a bureaucrat's table. There is no nobility in enduring the indignity of public school teaching. Nobility does have something to do with taking care of one's family, and raising one's own children with care. I'm tired of taking care of everyone else's children, instead of mine.

"Amy! You are so cranky! What happened to you?" you whine.

I woke up.

--groovygrrl, queen of dignity

I really am quite a pleasant person...

...really, I am!

Really. I'm just crabby today.

--groovygrrl, queen in charge of niceness

Annoying Crap

The Daily Crap in Public School That Annoys Me

1. The constant gossip. Teachers gossiping about other teachers, paraprofessionals gossiping about teachers, children gossiping about other children. If they took all that energy and used it for something productive, we could fix public schools forever.

2. The children who are jerks. Oh, I'm SO SORRY that I called a child a jerk. Too bad that it's true. Some of them use no manners whatsoever, and apparently they show up every day because they enjoy tormenting someone other than their parents.

3. Administrators who lie.

4. My salary is not equitable. Do you really want me to go into this? Perhaps in a separate post, I will. Let it suffice that this annoys me, all day, every day.

5. We are the only profession where we are required to pursue an advanced degree in order to be paid more. I have to PAY for my own raise.

6. The endless BS that we have to do: paperwork, meetings that are endless, interventions for students who couldn't care less, more meetings, oh, and don't forget the extracurricular activities! We need to show up after work, to prove that we really care! My presence and spectacular performance aren't enough.

7 . The beck-and-call attitude that some people have for me. I serve children, not other teachers. I'll help you when I'm done teaching. (Which, considering my crankiness, will be sooner rather than later.)

8. Breakfast duty. Yes, we need people with Master's degrees supervising the children while they eat...or rather, while they purposely break the rules, so they can then yell at me and call me names first thing in the morning, while I correct their behavior. Who needs coffee? :/

9. "Maintaining the Integrity of the 40-Hour Workweek." Please! When was the last time I only worked 40 hours? Are you people insane?

10. Upper-eschelon (sp?) administrators who get a $10,000/year raise during the year when teachers got NOTHING, and then come speak at our meetings and say, "We are going to ask you to work harder." I'll work harder at NOT throwing this stapler at your head, maybe.

--groovygrrl, queen of rants
My first blog.....aaaaaaah. So refreshing. What follows is an email that I sent to the superintendent of Big School District yesterday. It sums up my righteous indignation and despair at the moment.

(don't worry. I'm sure happier blogs are to come)

Dear J.,

I want today back.

Unfortunately, time marches on, and I can't have it back. You
can't give it back to me, either. But you can listen to me, if you choose
to do so.

Today, I left the house before my baby woke up. I wanted to get a good
start to my day, which would be spent on Special Education paperwork and
meetings. I would always rather teach my students, but sometimes
we sped teachers get buried in late IEPs, and have to meet with teams
when there is no other time. Today was one of those days. It was busy,
somewhat hectic, and tiring, like most days. It was productive.

After school, I left to go to class. I have to take this class
because I have to get a Moderate Needs endorsement to my license, to keep
my job. This is after a Master's degree that took me 4 years, full-time.
My Master's degree is 72 credits. That's twice what most folks have
for their Master's degrees. After last semester, this semester, and
one more practicum this summer, I will have 88 graduate credit hours.
Someone who got a 30 hour Master's degree in anything, and got 58 more
credits in anything, is getting paid more than I am, while I languish at
the Master's level on the salary schedule. They move ahead, because
they chose a less rigorous program of study. I get penalized
financially for choosing to serve the students who need the most help. This is
what I was thinking about, while I was sitting in class, listening to
the same literacy instruction I heard a few years ago, but hey, the state
says I need the hours.

After that class, I walked through the frigid night to my car,
and drove home. I entered the house, took off my coat and shoes, and went
to the bedroom. There, in her crib, my baby was sleeping.

I attended a class that the state says I have to have, so I can have an
endorsement that I don't even want, for a job that doesn't reward me
equally with my peers. I have to suffer the indignity of being
paid less for a job that is the most difficult to staff, AND I have
to get more education on top of it, for nothing. Nothing! I don't get
paid, I don't get any more knowledge.

Worst of all, I didn't get to talk to my baby today. Not once.
Not one word. I touched her hair when I left the house, and I just
touched her hair when I came home. I got to look at her, like a precious,
fragile object in a museum. I got to wonder what she learned today,
what she discovered, what new things she can do. I got to wonder these
things, not see them.

I want these tears to stop rolling down my face. I want to be
able to withstand this torture for one more day, but frankly, I don't
know if it is possible. Day-to-day, I don't know if I can take it anymore.
I just keep getting up in the morning, somehow.

I want to get paid what I deserve. I realized at the beginning
of this year, when we got no pay raise (while others did get hefty
ones), that it would be up to me to make more money for my family, by
finding extra jobs, doing extra things. Taking this class is throwing money
away, not making it. I do not get compensated for it in any way. Every
day, it makes me more and more disgusted. I feel devalued, every single

I want you to really think about what I'm saying. I want you to
listen to the desperation in my voice. I want you to realize that I am
the only person "supporting" my family financially, at it is a stretch,
because I have to put money out for classes, still! I want you to
understand that I am not asking for a reply that says, "We in the administration
understand that you work very hard, and we appreciate your
efforts." I want a reply that tells me you have thought long and hard about
the implications for my family, because of my absence in order to
serve the children of others' families.

I want many things that I know I will not receive. I will not
receive more pay, because there is no more money left in the budget. I
will not be able to dry my tears, because I still have 12 weeks left of
the class I'm taking: 12 more Wednesdays of coming home to my precious
baby, asleep in her crib, not having seen her mama once that day. Not

I want today back!