Monday, December 22, 2008

Ten Christmases

Today, I watched the movie, Four Christmases with Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon and boy did it ring true. Traveling from house to house to house, and by the end, you start to question what the whole thing is even about. It's enough to make you not want to celebrate at all.

Except my version would be called Ten Christmases. I even came up with a coding system on my detailed week planner to make sure we're seeing everybody. My immediate family, my mom's family, my dad's family, Andrew's immediate family on his dad's side, Andrew's immediate family on his mom's side, Andrew's dad's family, Andrew's mom's family, Andrew's stepdad's family, Andrew's stepmom's family and then, of course, we need to save time just for Andrew and me. And somewhere in the midst of all the chaos, we stop to ask ourselves why.

Why do we drive all over the Greater St. Louis area 5 times in one day? Why do we go see one family just to see the basic components of that family with a few additions a few hours later? Why do we eat cookie after cookie? Why do even bother taking off our coats?

In the movie, this same basic plot laid itself out, so that at one point, the main character's didn't even know who they were or what they were doing. It was that crazy. But somehow, by the end (of course), they realized, more than ever, what the meaning of family was and why they needed them. The ritual suddenly seemed important, nay, crucial to their lives.

And already in the midst of a weeklong battle for my time, I often stop to ask myself why and start to go crazy. Until I realize just how important family and friends are to me, and the why becomes so obvious. I need these crazy busy trips to St. Louis.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I have tried. Really, I have.
I bought 4 CDs - 70 songs.
I bought a new movie and watched it.
I decorated.
I baked cookies and dipped pretzels.
I went to parties.
I bought outfits for the cat.
I've watched all the special episodes.
I even watched the muppets.
I've bought gifts.
I've gotten gifts.
I went to the special presentation at church.
I've listened to special sermons.
I taught special Sunday School lessons.
I even taught it to my 6th graders in a comparison of other cultural celebrations.
I've worn the special colors and special jewelry.

Nobody can say I haven't tried.

But I can't seem to find the holiday spirit within me. It's not there. It was killed by the cynic. The realist who doesn't buy the BS. The tack. The greed. The COLD. The traffic. The stress.

The grinch inside of me says "Bah Humbug" (yes, mixed metaphors. It's that bad).

In all fairness, you had to see this coming.
At least last year, I seemed to find some sort of hope.
Don't say I didn't warn you...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


So I've got another teacher story to tell:

We went to a block schedule this year with A and B days. Well, we also have C days on Wednesdays where we meet with every class for 35 minutes. On 4 day weeks, we just scrap the C day and ABAB. It's ok if you can't follow along, either can we. All you really need to know is that classes were shorter and we still aren't quite used to the schedule. Not to mention, I'm fighting off a winter cold and didn't want to wake up this morning...

So it's 2nd period, and I'm apparently in the no-tolerance zone. I'm snapping at students and being really sarcastic and demanding with them. At one point, I kicked a couple students out of my class for interrupting me. And I finally get my class focused to teach and I hear commotion in the hallway, so I go out and yell at them.
Not just a "Be quiet!" like usual, but a full-out lecture on how its rude to be loud in the hallways while a teacher is trying to teach and how would they like it if i made a lot of noise in the hallway while they were trying to work, etc etc...
and I return to my class who immediately becomes stoic and is paying attention as I continue. More noise in the hallway draws their attention away again, and so I yell, "Is there somebody teaching in the hallway? Is that why your attention is there and not on me? Or is there somebody right in front of you trying to teach that you should pay attention to??"
So I get their attention again and continue to tell them what their homework is going to be for tomorrow.
Being a schedule I'm not familiar with and feeling toward the end of my lesson, I check the schedule on the wall and look at my watch to see how much time I have left. I get a real confused look on my face as I keep trying to figure it out because the time on my watch is 10:32 and there's nothing on the schedule that fits that.
I couldn't make sense of it, until a student, very quietly and politely says to me, "um, you were supposed to let us out of class 5 minutes ago..."

so that explains the commotion in the hallway...
I immediately dismiss them and tell them I'll notify their teachers.
To top it all off, one student says on his way out, "I thought about telling you, but I didn't want you to yell at me for being off-topic."

Yeeeaaahhh.... I'm one of those teachers that the students are so afraid of, they won't even tell me when class is over...

Friday, December 5, 2008

6th graders

There are so many moments that I think to myself "Oh I should write that down" and most of these moments happen in my classroom. I honestly think 6th graders are the cutest, funniest, most adorable group of people in the world. The things that come out of their mouths would make you laugh so hard...
and for so long I've wanted to share cute funny adorable stories with you... but by the time I get home and get to posting (which is long after ive checked email, facebook ten times, etc), I really do forget the details. And I hate telling stories where I don't remember the details (that's where the greatness lies of course).

So alas, no stories.
Besides, there's a large part of me that thinks you wouldn't appreciate them nearly as much as I would. Although some of the things are truly universal.

well, let's try this one that just came to me:

So as class is getting started yesterday, a student says to me, "You look just like this teacher I had last year."
I instantly reply, "So she must have been beautiful...?"
[Laughter] "Oh no..."

I suppose I set myself up for that one, but I really thought I taught my students to at least lie for tact's sake... which I instantly taught him, don't you worry and he instantly corrected himself.
Oh, the real lessons of the classroom...

Monday, December 1, 2008

long december

I'm not much of a poet or into literary symbolism as my AP Eng teachers would hope, but there is one metaphor that really always stuck with me:


the cold, crisp air
the dying of nature
the hibernation of animals and people
the early dusks and late dawns

and December continues the illusion

the end of a year
the conclusion of holiday anticipation
the reflections and lists
the finality of another chapter

and so i've got this "end" in mind and that something is "dying"

this is the coldest darkest time for me, where i just want to hibernate and reflect upon what's been before i continue on...
it's already december, and it feels like it's going to be a long one.

oh, and January or February don't exactly get much better. at least i have a fireplace this year.