Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Santa and Christmas

Why I tell my Child THERE IS NO SANTA CLAUS:

Just kidding. It's Christmas. I don't tell my kid there's no Santa. I'm not a jerk.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Why I Play the Lottery

It's not about the money.

Okay, okay, that's a little simplistic. Playing the lottery, naturally, is about the money. And it's common knowledge that when someone says it's not about the money, it's precisely about the money. And, strangely, people use the same expression about teaching.

So I'll try again. It's not about striking it rich. Hmm... Yes, that's about right. I don't definitely don't have some pressing need to buy a million things and go crazy (like most every lottery winner tragically does).
What is it about, then? Why throw away that dollar? If you're looking for a sense of financial security a dollar spent in any way whatsoever is bound to disappoint you. If you're looking to buy interesting things that ordinarily we wouldn't consider, there are plenty of Dollar Trees around. No, the whole motivation is something different entirely.

More and more, I want to feel that I don't "have" to do these things at my job. I like my job. Actually, this year, SLO's aside, I can even say I love my job. But there is so much hassle, enormous amounts of paperwork that only satisfies state and federal requirements with realistically 1% of all of that effort in some way getting back to helping students.

What would I do if I won the lottery? I would like to think that I would stay at my job. I love my school and believe in the mission of working with children to help them achieve a better life. So I'd like to think I would stay. In all of this, though, it would be nice to have some sense of security. It would be nice not to be 99% sure that the state pension is a lie that will be revoked from teachers 15 years down the road. It would be nice to earn a wage in some way commiserate with how much I work, how much training I've had, and how important my job is.

Sadly, though, I will probably never get those things. But the thing I would like most of all is the assurance that, of all these tedious things our school systems cook up, I don't have to them. Don't get me wrong - I do them. Sometimes I want to cry about doing them. What I mean is that I would like to not feel so compelled, that I don't have to do them. That I don't have to spend countless hours on documentation no one will view,that I don't have to attend meeting after meeting when I'd much rather be preparing my classroom, and - our favorite this year - that I don't have to write SLO's.

Instead, I would like to have the feeling that we did when we first entered teaching: I do these things - sometimes plenty of extra things - so that I can work with children. If I do all of these things, then I can make a difference in someone's life. We made plenty of sacrifices just to get in to teaching. Somehow I kind of expected them to stop after a while, but no. There are more than ever.

So I play the lottery to remind myself that working with children is a gift that I chose. Everything else that goes with teaching is a shame for sure, but at the same time, it can act as a reminder of how special the profession really is.

That's how I win.

Monday, September 23, 2013

MUSIC - Good Listening Through the Year

We've had a few cold spells, and even now the nights are chilly. On those stiff mornings, I put in one of my favorite albums. The days are warm, but once the sun has set we need more than shorts and a tee-shirt. So I put in Revolver.

Every Beatles album - each one of course one of my favorite albums ever - sounds that much better if played during the appropriate season. Please see my musical calendar below.

  • Summer days: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • Long, hot summer days: Yellow Submarine (the album, not just the title track)
  • Long, hot summer days, after sunset: the “White Album”
  • Summer turning into fall and fall days: Revolver
  • Fall before sunrise or after sunset: the “White Album” (can be listed here twice since it’s only a nighttime preference)
  • Fall turning into winter: Let it Be
  • Christmastime and before or after winter parties: Abbey Road
  • Dead of winter: the collection of singles (Past Masters, really Volume 2)
  • Winter into spring: Rubber Soul
  • Spring: Magical Mystery Tour
  • Spring turning into summer: Help!
  • When you’re just really bored: Please Please Me, With the Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, and Beatles for Sale

Try it out this year and let me know what you think.

Friday, August 23, 2013

TEACHING - that warm, back-to-school feeling

Why is it that at the beginning of the school year, everything has such a rosy glow?

You get all revved up for the start of the school year. You rush and stress and work super long hours the first week of school (after having worked during the summer) in order to throw yourself into that first week of students. More long, stressful hours. The coffee helps, but it’s really the positive vibes that keep you going.

Then, the crash.

Reality sets in. The drawbacks of the job stand out. I don’t know why, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Everyone in November is basically the same as they were in August, but something has changed. You start asking yourself questions, questions that don’t necessarily make you happy. It can really mess with your mojo. I don’t even think that it’s anything bad about the job of teaching. Maybe it’s just that adrenaline can only last so long.

Don’t get me wrong. Right now, a few days before students, there are plenty of questions.
Are the new evaluations fair? How many hours a day should I be working? What was (insert name of department) thinking in writing its new curriculum? Why does the teacher’s union have a cookout? …on a military base?

That’s the magic. It’s August. It’s okay not to have satisfying answers. Okay for now. During the grind of the school year, these kinds of questions would probably have me shaking my head ruefully. Now, though, I think I’ll go eat a hotdog. 

It's going to be a good year.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Things that give me a thrill

I was walking into Target and some guy asked me if I knew the area. He asked me about the roads, if it was Montgomery or Dobbin, and I immediately knew that he was looking for the Columbia location, not the Ellicott City one we were currently in. Shopping is one of my biggest thrills (even though it’s for basics like toilet paper and groceries). So at that moment I felt like a woman. Then I gave him directions to the Columbia Target, using directional words and names of roads. So I felt like a man.

Another thrill has been rewatching season 3 of the Vampire Diaries. This show has amazing storytelling, with so many interesting characters and their lives and desires interweaving in unforeseen ways. There was one scene, though, that really made it hard for me to suspend disbelief and just distracted me from the heart of the episode. Here there are vampires, werewolves, witches. At the beginning of the season, the werewolf kid reveals to his mom his bizarre curse, and he does this by putting her in this weird dungeon place where he can transform during the full moon and hopefully not hurt anyone else. The mom is forced to stay there through the entire night and witness how her only child transforms into a horrible, savage animal. No doubt she was scared. I’m a very sympathetic person, so I kept thinking: “If I were in a cage all night, I wouldn't care if my son were a werewolf - all I’d be able to think about was needing to pee.”
Tyler's mother went through something no parent should ever have to endure:
She unexpectedly had to spend 12 hours without a toilet.
For that reason, this was the scariest episode of the series.

Then we watched the Avengers, and they put Loki in this super cage prison thing. If he tried to escape from the virtual bubble, he would plummet to a sure death. Natasha asked me where he was going to pee.

Another thrill I used to get was going to church. I used to love thanking God, praying, and in general thinking about all of the blessings he gives us. But now all I do is fight with my three-year-old son. So now that thrill is more like angry shudder.

And I’m working on a young adult novel. That’s pretty cool.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

TEACHING - Getting a Raise

Wow, looks like we’re getting a raise!


Well, immediately we can afford a happy hour. For next school year we’ll be earning 101% of what we used to! Just make sure the happy hour is at a fast food place where extra ketchup is free.

And then in the middle of next school year, we’ll actually get a raise.
Sorry, sorry, that is not exactly accurate. We will receive a contractual pay increase that in some way reflects the number of years we’ve (without a raise) worked. Not a raise.

Maryland keeps getting ranked as #1 in public education, but there’s no need to pay teachers more for that. When I used to work at a restaurant, there we had an expression for when customers said how great the service was and then left a lousy tip. Actually, there were a lot of expressions, but the one you may not have heard before is verbal tipping.
verbal tipping - it's not just for waiters anymore
But hey, getting those rare, infinitesimal pay increases is better than in other school systems where all the teachers get fired, right? Right? I mean, what we’re doing now is better than just leaving, right? We shouldn’t just give up and stop working in a broken system where no one appreciates us, right? … right?...

-(clears throat amid deafening silence)-

Oh, wait – it's summer.
Okay, so I can't be too bitter with weeks of vacation at hand. But please understand that the teacher appreciation image above is intentionally missing parts.
Enjoy the summer, everyone!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

TEACHING - the Gardener

So now I am a gardener. I went from using my strapping biceps sawing logs to planting daffodils. Really.
last year

this year
trying to flex muscles but looking like I hurt my back

Some people even asked me: “Do you garden?”

Haha. No. “garden”? You should see our little patch of dirt and weeds in front of the house. Haha, no, I don’t garden.

But I helped put down a mean bed of daffodils. And there are some other well-known, beloved gardeners: Samwise from the Lord of the Rings, God from the Book of Genesis, and Betty Gailes from school. That's pretty good company.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

TEACHING - the new alcohol

In college, people would ask me:
Do you like vodka?” “Sure.”

Wine?” “Oh, yeah.”

Whiskey?” “Definitely!”

Do you like-“ “Just give it to me, and I’ll drink it.”

Eventually I coined the phrase: “I love all of God’s alcohols.”

I’ve had a lot of changes over the past few years: kid, house… okay, not a lot of changes, but big ones. Maybe there haven’t been so many because I’m not a big “change” guy. I like consistency. I eat the same exact lunch every day, drives my wife crazy.

Yet going back a few years ago, there is something new, something I never would've expected: Coffee. It was never interesting to me until recently. For all my life I was horrified at the idea of people spending tons of money for a fancy Starbucks every morning. And one of my friends in high school was so caffeine-addicted that he got headaches if he went for 12 hours without a Mountain Dew. For those and whatever reasons, I didn't see the point.

Maybe it’s that our grocery store gives free samples. Maybe it’s having a child. And then there’s my school. There are always two pots ready to serve.

everyone who drinks from that should be contributing, too, whoever you moochers are!
There’s one last big reason. Coffee gives you that extra comfort you’re looking for, but you’re actually allowed to drink it at school. It’s normal. It’s everywhere. Half of the teachers have a drink in hand when kids enter in the morning. That wouldn’t float with beer.


Coffee is the new alcohol.

But DON’T worry – I’m still very traditional and am not looking for a replacement for non-school life. Some things never change.

 choose, but choose wisely

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

WRITING - this blog

Dear Everyone,

Look, it's been a while.

Fortunately not tooooooo long. And I shared the epic story of the the carrot in the nose, which I hope you enjoyed. So I wanted to say thank you for reading and let you know a little about what is going on.

First of all, to address the name of the blog. Originally the name of the blog was Between Wednesdays. I went to a writers group on Wednesdays, and so the blog name indicated my passion for writing, implying that everything else was simply whatever happened outside of this extraordinarily important event. Then I stopped going. That is, now I only go on special occasions, having decided to stick to a different group that I joined and have been an active member of since 2008. So the Wednesday group is essentially out, and now the blog is named The Days of the Week to carry more of a day-to-day, "teacher" feel.

Second item of business: I've had some writing projects going on. In fact, I recently finished a revised draft of my young adult novel! I'll still be working on it for a while but hope to have it in presentable condition by the end of the summer.

Third, no more hiatus. Why the lull? It's been a rough year. And then the novel has taken a lot of my writing time. And I always have a top secret project or two going on, link not provided. But from now on, I'll make a new post in the middle of every month. Promise.

I hope you enjoy. I like sharing with you.


PS: the YA novel thing is not a joke. I really wrote one.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

FAMILY - video - the Carrot in the Nose

Narration of the Carrot in the Nose. It helps understand the poem's rhythm. You'll want the other post's pic to clearly see the words. Enjoy!

Croft And Barrow Carrot End Hem Kitchen Towel (Google Affiliate Ad)

Monday, March 4, 2013

FAMILY - The Carrot in the Nose

The poem says it all, I think. It seemed to hurt only when we tried to get it out - artistic license.