Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Is it just me or did Annie Lennox look completely possessed by the Devil on the Oscars last night? Seriously, I got the chills. And what the hell was up with Liv Tyler? It looked like a joke, but she wasn't laughing.

Sorry to blog about the Oscars...but I watched them alone and I just had to share.
Friday, February 27, 2004

I got a snowday today! So I have been able to finish my planning for next week before the weekend even begins. And the snow wasn't even a big enough deal to be annoying!

I win. ¶ 6:37 PM
Thursday, February 26, 2004

Not to get all political...

But as I was watching the season finale of "The Bachelorette" last night, I was struck by the hypocrisy of all this "protection of the sanctity of marriage" stuff going around.

People all over are freaking out about the prospect of gay folks getting married-- because, of course, allowing that would somehow ruin the special and sacred institution of marriage to have it be anything but a man and a woman.

But how does meeting someone on television, going on a total of 6 dates or something, and then getting engaged uphold the sanctity of marriage? On "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" there is always an engagement. But there have been a bunch of seasons and only one marriage. I think that these shows are much more troubling to the institution of marriage than gay people.

Don't get me wrong, though. I love the shows. And I did cry last night when Meredith sent Matthew away and then cried again when Ian surprised us all by getting down on one knee. But, personally, I find it even more moving to see a gay couple who has been waiting decades for the right to get married finally say their vows. ¶ 3:15 AM
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Wow. My students have this amazing ability to depress the heck out of me when I'm not even trying to dig up family history or whatever.

Today, in this very innocent activity where we were doing questions about a novel we are reading, I asked them this question:

"What do you think the character meant when he said, 'Sometimes I don't know why I look when I know what I see is going to tear me up inside'."

The book is about a boy who goes to see his absent father and finds out his dad is an alcoholic. Pretty tame stuff. Here are some of their responses:

"What he mean is that maybe his dad be beating on his mom and he just a baby so he just cry, stare."

"Mean like maybe your moms husband is a wife beater and your not supposed to tell or whatever because she told you no so you just have to watch."

"What is happening is sometimes a husband beat a mom and the kids not supposed to say nothing so they get teared up but they dont say."

Yeah. The story has nothing at all to do with men hitting women or wives being beaten by husbands. But I got EIGHT responses just like these. Jeez! It hurts me.

And today I got another one of my students kicked out of my class. I take way too much responsibility, actually. He was targeted by several people, including the principal. He is the student I talked about a long time ago, who is wanted for burglary. I met with his mom today and she told me that she was the one who called the cops on him for that burglary. She kept saying, "I'm just through with him. I have done all I can. I'm done." While the Special Ed team was telling her about how he was going to be moved into a self-contained special ed class, she just stared off into space, nodding. "Do what you think is right. I'm done."

It was so sad. I saw at least three women at my school today, coming out of the behavior management room after presumably having a meeting about thier kid, sighing deeply and looking totally resigned. Something has gone wrong with their children, who are fighting and running away and cursing out their teachers. They don't know what to do.

Many of these parents (I say parents mostly just to be nice- I have yet to meet or see a father at my school) work at least two jobs and can't be home to watch these kids. Many of the teachers I know sneer about these mothers and knowingly say things like, "If these women would stay home with their kids, then we wouldn't have such a hard time with them!" Maybe so, I guess. But then, starving children can be pretty unruly, too, I would think.

The long and short of it is that my third period class is down from 18 students to 7. Wow. ¶ 1:57 PM
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Alright, Party People!

I know that it is only February. I know that it is presently not quite 7:30am. But my mind turns to spring and people fawning over me...

May 1! Yes, it is going to be my birthday soon. I feel I must start talking it up early this year because I am so far away.

I want all of you friends out west to think about the fact that you have never spent any significant time in North Carolina. I want you to consider the eagerness you have to hear the stories of this wonderful state. And then I want you to check for cheap tickets to visit me on my birthday.

It is on Saturday this year. I can promise you places to stay. I can promise my undying love.

And, of course, all of you wonderful people who are already in North Carolina...please mark the date on your very busy calendars. ¶ 4:20 AM
Thursday, February 19, 2004

Ways to Get Fired from Teaching at a North Carolina Public School:

1. Say to your students, "I know you are having sex and smoking lots of pot. I don't judge you. Just don't write about it in your class journal."

2. When your students tell you that the guidance counselor recommended that they sign up for shop classes next year in high school instead of honors English, tell them to have their Mom call the school right away and make her change it.

3. When you see ROTC (the high school training camp for future soldiers) on 90% of your students schedules for high school, tell them that the military is already packed full of poor young men of color who are being sent to foreign lands to die for causes they don't have any responsibility for and that they need not join those ranks. Tell them that it is a lie that the military is the only way to pay for college. Say the words, "Yes, sweetie. The guidance counselor is lying to you. Trust me."

4. After a student hits or shoves another student, make them give a "love touch" (a pat on the back or a sqeeze of the hand) to make up for it. When they say, "Man, Miss! This is gay!" Say, "So what. Do it anyway."

These are just four things I did today that could get me in trouble if anyone cared enough to check on me. I think I am going to hear back about the guidance counselor issues. I am just so frustrated, though. Every one of my students were encouraged to take "Career" classes instead of "University" classes. Every one of them was also encouraged to join the ROTC and told that they should not start out with a college track because those classes are "really hard". I guarantee that the primarily white advanced classes were not told that college track classes were really hard. I don't think most of my students understood what I was saying about ROTC, but one of my girls really took it to heart. She said, "Wait a minute! Yeah, there aren't a whole bunch of rich white people in the army! It's poor folks!" And she really got it. But, then again, she is also the student who told me that she thought "her friend" might be bisexual and she was okay with it. I love her. ¶ 1:18 PM
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Joy of Sharing Number One of Sharing a Trailer:

Your neighbor can hear everything you say!

Today, the teacher who shares my trailer thought I had completely lost it with my kids. She said she almost called the principal, but then decided to ask me about it first. Thank goodness.

I was explaining a new system that I have created with my kids. It is a system where, if I hear them insult another student, they then have to write down 5 compliments for that person and then present them to him or her during "shout out time". I am doing this because I am surrounded all day long by kids calling each other names and it gets on my nerves. I also started a consequence where, if I hear a student say a derogatory word, they have to write the real definition of that word fifty times.

So I was explaining what I meant, but what my neighbor heard my yelling was:

"You stupid! Retard! You dumb! You wack! You ain't got no sense!"

Then a few minutes later she heard me holler:

"Fag! Faggot! Fruitcake! Queer!"

I was, of course, telling them the words they would have to define and showing them examples of what I considered insults. But she didn't know that. For a minute or two she actually thought I was calling my students those things. It makes for a funny story, but if she had actually told the principal, maybe not so much.

But the system is working. And it is sweet to end each day with "Shout Outs" and have the kids complimenting each other. Although one student did say, "Miss, you are too much, yo! You're always coming up with some new way to make us do stuff. Dang!"

To which I replied maturely, "Ha ha!" ¶ 12:01 PM
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I just got the terms that I need to teach my students for the standardized test in May (brace yourself for many entries on this damn test, there are sure to be a million).

The words that I taught my kids last week were (for some perspective): rank, conflict, extraordinary, etc.

The words I have to teach them for the test are: cliche, lethargic, dubious, discordant, cutterage, cryptography, etc.

Do you see the divide I see? Who are these children in the state who know the word cutterage? Where do they live? Because I don't know that word, or didn't until I looked it up. My students are not prepared for these kinds of vocabulary words...and as much work as I do and all, I don't think I can get them there before May.

It is so unfair. I feel like it is so obviously unfair, but it is allowed to go on. I guess I better go back to my classroom and figure out how to make learning the word cutterage the by, the definition of that word is "the surgical scraping of a body cavity". Thank goodness they are going to finally have a word for describing that! ¶ 5:48 AM
Sunday, February 15, 2004

Weekends do cure all ills. I hope everyone out there managed to have a good time on Valentine's Day...even those who cringe at the mere mention of it, due to the commercialism and whatnot.

I got to spend the weekend with my Valentine and go dancing and see a dragking show. All very very good things. I am very tired. I did not work for school. I don't care. But I will tomorrow.

Although, they are calling for 2-6 inches of sleet mixed with snow or snow with sleet in it or sleety-snow type mixtures of all kinds. I know that I shouldn't hope for that because they are just going to tack on days to the end of the year...but if I did have to stay home tomorrow, I could catch up on some grading...and that might just be worth it. Luckily, this is the kind of thing that I have absolutely no control over. I like that, sometimes.

In other consumerific news, I got the fanciest new cell phone ever. And I love it. And I feel very fancy...which is an important thing to a girl like me. If I was fancy enough to have a link to a picture of it here, I would. But alas.... ¶ 2:02 PM
Thursday, February 12, 2004

From the "I Can't Believe You Just Said That!" Files

I was observed teaching the other day by one of my boss' who will, for the sake of my job, remain nameless. I felt like I had had a good day that day and I wasn't too worried about how my post-observation chat would go.

I went in this morning to talk to this woman, who has decades of experience over me, and we started off in a really pleasant way. She was told me I was on the right track, showed potential, etc.

Then, in the delightful way that things tend to do, everything went surreal.

"There is one fairly big problem with your teaching style..." Boss X began. "It has to do with your use of sarcasm."

Me, sarcastic? Never! Oops, I was being sarcastic just then. I thought this may come up at some point. It has been mentioned to me in the past. I was told early on that kids don't "get" sarcasm and it takes too much brain power for them to figure it out. I just heartily disagree. I think that my students find my sarcasm funny and I think that the way it catches them off-guard and makes them think is healthy and educational. Not to mention the fact that I find it absolutely impossible to delete sarcasm from my way of being...I just swim in it all the time. I was taught to be sarcastic before I was taught to walk, probably. But I wasn't going to argue.

"Yes," I agreed. "I have been told that I should tone it down. I'm working on it."

"Well, perhaps it has worked for you in the past. You see, sarcasm works for the smart children," she began, as I smiled and nodded in affirmation. "...the white children. It just doesn't work for the Blacks."

My smile froze and my nodding head kept bobbing up and down senselessly. I hate these moments and I have them fairly frequently, here. Where I am relating to someone or having an innocent conversation and suddenly I am trying to figure out how to get out of it quickly and whether to say something about how awful I think the person is but feeling very much the foreigner and just ending up staring like a deer caught in the headlights.

I can think of a lot of people I know in the Bay or in Portland who would tell me that I can't let racism go unchecked...that I should stand up for what is right. In fact, I myself have a poster in my classroom that reads, "Stand up for what is right; even if you are standing alone" and I spout that to my kids daily. But I just never know what to do here because I do feel like I would be terribly unsupported if I said anything. I wonder why these teachers work with the population they do if they feel the way they feel.

The rest of the conversation went something like, "And I should know because I have worked with the Blacks for many years...blah blah blah." I had stopped listening.

I know that it is good for me to get out of the bubble of the West, where people just don't say that kind of thing-- not out loud and with immunity, no matter what evil really lurks in their hearts. It is just still so shocking to me that these folks just assume that I will be with them in their beliefs about non-white people.

And the kids got on my nerves today. But tomorrow is Friday. And we all know how much I love the weekend. ¶ 2:10 PM
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I had a dinner tonight with a bunch of other TFA'ers and realized something terribly heart-warming: It is really a lot of fun to make fun of kids in a group!

Today, when I was saying something to the class, one of my students parroted me in a dorky way. I told him, "Don't make fun of me when I am standing right here! Wait until I can't hear you to make fun of me...the same way I wait until I'm at home to make fun of you." He looked shocked and asked, "You don't really make fun of us, do you?"

Well, yes. I do. I make fun of most of my kids when I am at home. And tonight I found out how much fun it is to make fun of students with other teachers. I think it is really cathartic. I, in reality, really love my students. I would never make fun of them and make them feel bad. But it sure is funny to do little impressions of them to teachers who have had one too many glasses of wine.

I can't believe that the year is going by so quickly. People I know are already busy making plans for the summer and beyond. I'm still very uncertain what I am going to be doing, but it looks really likely that I am going to get my transfer to the Bay. I am just letting things be and hoping they all work out...which is my way, I suppose. ¶ 6:35 PM
Sunday, February 08, 2004

Everything I need to know I learned from Michelle Pfeiffer.

I have gained this affinity for movies where beautiful celebrities enter classrooms and change the fates of entire schools. I don't remember caring one way or another about movies like "Dangerous Minds", "Lean on Me" and "Stand and Deliver". But now I watch them with a zeal I never would have imagined.

Tonight my roomate and I watched "Dangerous Minds", a movie where Michelle Pfeiffer comes into a terrible situation with out of control teens and in one semester bonds them like a family, gets a pregnant girl to stay in school, and teaches them all the meaning of life and death through Dylan Thomas' poetry. Ah, perhaps I like it so much because it is so realistic! No, that can't be it.

I guess I now watch these movies the same way real doctors must watch "E.R.". I look for obvious errors and feel superior when I find them.

"No way would all those kids talk one at a time like that!" I hollered indignantly during one scene.

"Yeah, as if a principal would fund all those kids to go to an amusement park." My roomate snorted cynically a few minutes later.

There is something comforting about watching Michelle Pfeiffer get pelted in the head with balls of paper, even though she gets to save the world a mere half and hour later. I did get a couple of good ideas from the movie, though.

Tomorrow I get to give my kids their practice end of the year test...yes, the fabulous high stakes testing game! I am excited and grateful that we have a practice so that I can find the weak spots in their learning. This will be helpful. I am also thankful for the full day of them testing so that I can do some planning for the week. I did none this weekend, but I socialized, which makes me a better and nicer teacher. ¶ 5:27 PM
Friday, February 06, 2004

It is raining really hard here right now. I love it when the weather gets all dramatic. I don't even say to it, "Save your drama for your mama" like I say to my students when they get all tumultuous.

I was observed today by someone who is apparently important for some reason or another in my district. I was never officially introduced to her or anything; she just showed up in my room with a clipboard, looking official. I just went about my business and did a few things and then when the kids were settled into some task or another she came to talk to me.

She first asked, very quietly and after clearing her throat several times, "Tell me...these kids education, yes?" And here I thought I had been doing a good job. Not that there is anything wrong with special ed, but my kids aren't and if she got the impression that they were, I was going to feel a little bad. I told her no and considered for a fraction of a second asking her if she was special ed.

But then she told me she had thought that they were in special ed because the class size was so small (it is small, of course, because all of my repeaters have moved on to high school). She also said that she had observed my class with another teacher and their behavior was "insane and unbelievable" and because they were so quiet for me, she assumed I must be their special ed teacher. So that felt good. Besides, my kids are "special" in so many ways...they just don't get extra free tutoring.

I managed to throw my back out by slipping on an icy mat in front of my classroom. The plus side is that I got muscle-relaxers and I didn't have to pay for them! The down side is the incredible pain. Oh well.

It is the weekend again! ¶ 4:40 PM
Thursday, February 05, 2004

From the Mouths of Babes File:

The way I know I am a good English teacher:

"Miss, I think you be a good English teacher 'cause when I came in here, I wasn't knowin' nuthin. And now? I know all kinna crazy junk! Dang!" --Di Miquez, age 13.
¶ 3:50 AM

The cute child who made the endearing comment that I documented below was just suspended for calling a teacher a "dirty ho" and hurling a desk at her. Oh, the ups and downs of teaching middle school! ¶ 5:11 AM
Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Oh, to be working at a public school in the South! Will the surprises ever stop?
Today, I opened my school email box to find a forward from a co-worker. This is not unusual...I get several emails a day reminding me that my friends are just angels with wings and giving me the opportunity to show my devotion by sending at least ten other people the same reminder. I opened up the attachment with the expectation of an angel message.

What I got, however, stopped me in my tracks. It was a long email that some man is sending around the internet about how he wrote a letter of disgust to CBS about the fact that one of the characters mothers on "The Practice" had come out as gay. Apparently, the character on the show has some problems with this. I guess in the show, the character eventually comes to terms with his mother's confession and loves her anyway.

This is just too much for the man writing the email. He goes on and on about how the media is trying to convince us that gay is okay and how that is an abomination before God, blah blah blah.

I'm not shocked by such a thing. Of course not. But I do feel a little bit gay-bashed to have to get this kind of thing in my very own work email. I was even more upset when I realized that the person who had sent it to me was the first person that I came out to here at school. I guess she isn't really okay with me.

Yesterday, I talked to Teach for America about being transfered back to San Francisco, where I was originally accepted to teach before being hoodwinked into come to Rocky Mount. They sounded pretty positive about it. Today's email makes me want to go even more. ¶ 5:53 AM
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

I've learned so much, I say!

Today I am going to be observed today by my Teach for America folks. I was observed at the beginning of the year, too. It is always nice to look back to last semester and think about how much has changed.

When she came last time, I was in the middle of having a nervous breakdown, I think. I don't recall being very nervous, but that is only because the Universe has seen fit to provide me with a pretty misguided sense of confidence (or perhaps apathy?). I generally feel like I will do fine in most things (or I just don't care very much?).

But, looking back, I remember that I put my students in groups of four to work on a very vague assignment. And they sat there and chatted while I went from group to group admonishing them. And they didn't finish the assignment...or even know what we were studying by the end. Not so great, in hindsight.

But I know that now I am much more clear in my directions and I know that my students know exactly what they are studying. And I know better than to let those little angels get near each other when I want them to learn.

So it is good that I feel like I have improved. I am feeling a little hyper today...which is never good because the students pick up on that energy like magnets to metal shavings. I'm going to try to calm myself. This is what happens when I get more than 8 hours of sleep.

Last night I was so bored that I played Monopoly with myself while watching that "Fat Obnoxious Fiance" show. It was a new low for me. Not to mention the fact that I lost against myself. Don't ask how. Just trust that it happened. ¶ 5:30 AM
Monday, February 02, 2004

How do you manage to watch the whole half-time show of the Superbowl and miss Janet Jackson's boobie?

I watched the dumb Superbowl but I totally missed the "wardrobe malfunction". I don't know how I managed to do that. I am extremely disappointed...not because I have any particular interest in Miss Jackson's parts, but because things like that are the only reason I watch the Superbowl to begin with. Oh, well.

The Superbowl party at Owen and Charles' was a hoot. Lots of fun. The drive back to Rocky Mount at 4:30am was a little less fun, but I got here fine.

Being a tired teacher is not a good thing. One of my students inquired today, "What's the matter with you? You never be this mean to us." I don't think I was actually being mean. But I refused to entertain questions that were unrelated to the topics at hand and I wouldn't stop this argument about one kid breaking another kids pencil. In this world, that's mean. But normally I would help with stuff like that. I just don't have the patience today.
Saturday, January 31, 2004

Ah, it is hard to yell TGIF with any real zest when you only worked for one day. Owen says there is a chance of an ice storm on Monday...the only reason I wouldn't want it really is that if we miss many more days of school we will probably have our spring break taken away. And I really want to go on a trip during spring break.

Also, I was long term planning for my classes (something I should have done at the beginning of the year) and I had the shocking realization that, as far as the amount of time that I have to teach the objectives that I am supposed to teach, the school year is practically over. I barely have the time to teach what I need to teach as it is. So I am hoping for no real terrible weather.

Also, I wanted to go to this Superbowl party at Owen and Charles' house and considered driving back at night after it and I can't do that if there is freezing rain. Alas, this is one of those things I can do very little about.

Day 9, no smoking. Going fine. ¶ 6:50 AM
Thursday, January 29, 2004

I can't believe it is already almost the weekend again! This week has been such a bust.

Nothing is happening. I can now get out of the house, which is really nice. I made a delicious stir-fry last night. That's all.

I am now waiting to find out if there is school tomorrow. On my school site there is nothing listed, so I am assuming there is school tomorrow. It will be fun to spend a Friday with a bunch of kids who have been sleeping in and acting wild all week. Hmmm. ¶ 2:01 PM
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I will have been out of school an entire week if we go back to school on Thursday.

On Sunday, bad weather hit and I barely made it back into Rocky Mount from Chapel Hill alive. Cars all around me were sliding into ditches and Goldie (my cutest car in the world) and I used all of our powers of concentration to stay on the road.

It snowed and then got so cold the roads became ice-skating rinks. So school has been cancelled all week and is still cancelled for tomorrow. The first day of no school was a nice relaxing day, but it has become tedious since then. It would be one thing to have no school when you could actually go places and do things, but I can't leave my house because of the roads. My roomate and I were about to kill each other, but finally tonight she went to stay at her boyfriends house. All for the best.

I have done no work for school and I was feeling pretty bad about that, but now I have a second chance. Since there is no school tomorrow, I will plan for a couple of weeks in advance. That will feel nice. Tonight I will play "The Sims" and relax some more.

I am finally not coughing every three minutes. I am still coughing a bit, but I think that is from the quitting smoking more than anything else. Still no cigarettes (day 5) and I still feel good about it. I even live in an apartment where my roomate and her boyfriend smoke in the house and I am managing. I'm proud of myself.

Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow and some of this snow will melt. I can't imagine how wild the children will be after four days off to come back on a Friday, but we'll see. ¶ 4:06 PM
Friday, January 23, 2004

Republicanism IS patriotism...duh.

No, it isn't. I don't see that message on my comment box, though. I don't know where it is.

I am feeling a lot better today. Perhaps I am allergic to school! Yes, I had better not go is for my health, you know!

This weekend is packed with promise, like usual. Ice skating is in my future. Please pray for my bottom...I don't ask that of you often.

I am also making teaching just a little harder by trying to quit smoking! It will be hard, but I am feeling committed. Plus, I just spent fifty dollars on quit smoking aids so I can't afford to buy cigarettes, too. This seems like a good time for an attempt-- things have been going okay for me and it is just impossible when things are really hard.

Wish me second demand of you for this blog. ¶ 5:31 PM
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Blogging about being a first year teacher becomes a little boring when things are going well.

Most of the challenging students I had have moved on. Not that I am complaining...especially since they moved on to high school, mostly, instead of me having to send them down the river to an alternative school. I did get a new student today. I had heard about her from the teacher's class who she was leaving. That teacher said, "If you get her, you should consider resigning." So when she walked in, I was a little apprehensive.

But I gave her my student survey that I give all of the students. It asks questions like, "If you wanted me to know one thing about you, what would it be?" On her survey, she revealed that she wanted to "start over" and didn't want me to "listen to the hype" about her. So I took her outside and told her that I don't listen to what people tell me and that I judge by action. I told her that I expected that she was going to do very well in my class and sent her home with a note to her mom telling her that I was excited to have her daughter in my class. These are my anti-bad-behavior devices and hopefully they will work.

This afternoon, I planned on starting applications to grad schools...then realized that I don't have the qualifications to really get into any. I don't think I can pull that one off. So I changed tactics and looked up private school postions in the Bay Area. There are a million of them. I could potentially get hired at a number of schools. Of course, that would mean that I keep teaching...which, right now, when things are going well, doesn't seem so horrible. It also means that I could take an assistant teaching position, which is a little less stressful, maybe, and make just as much money. I am seriously considering doing it. Who would have thought?

Coming off of my great four day vacation is wonderful. My head is much clearer. I sang some great karaoke with Owen and then relaxed for the rest of the weekend, helping bake a vegan cake and making a fun mixed cd. I am tired and pleased today. ¶ 2:55 PM
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Today I outed myself to about four teachers.

I wish I could tell some heroic story about how strong my convinctions are and how I decided not to live a lie and take a stand. But, like many things, it was a total accident.

I was emailing the woman I am seeing and a few teachers came up behind me as I was writing "Kisses to you" at the end. One of them read it (isn't that just the rudest thing?) out loud to everyone else. They all started fawning about how the just knew I had to have someone and why hadn't I told them, etc. I looked quickly at what was visible on the screen and sighed in relief when I saw no actually names or indications that it was a woman. So I just pressed send.

Well, Hotmail writes, "Message sent to ----" and the person's name. So they also read the name. And the name of the woman I am seeing is not a "Chris" or a "Pat" or even a "Leslie" or "Kelly". It is just plainly a girl name. The silence that fell over my small crowd was stunning.

Needless to say, the fawning ceased. Then I was immersed in the awkward silence of a group of people suddenly finding me difficult to be near. I changed the topic quickly and just closed my browser. Ugh.

I guess it is okay. I think it is for the best. But considering the reaction that the one woman I came out to had, I am not looking forward to having so many others know.

But this weekend is looking great. I took Friday off so that I can hopefully karaoke with Owen and friends tomorrow night. And Monday is a holiday. ¶ 1:40 PM
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Everyone said that the second semester would be so much better...and they were right.

I am afraid at how well things are going (those that know me well know that there is much knocking on wood occuring at this moment). The kids just seem...settled. We all know each other very well and I know what to let go and what to pounce on. I am so much more relaxed because I am not worried that something weird is going to come out of nowhere at me.

I have moments where I actually consider teaching another year here. But then I wake up and remember that I do not want to have to go through another first semester here. I am tortured with indecision about what I am going to do with myself after leaving Rocky Mount. I just know I have to leave here.

I suppose I could teach another year, just not here. But I don't think I really want to. It is tolerable, but I don't want to spend a whole lot of time doing something I only consider tolerable. ¶ 5:45 AM
Friday, January 09, 2004

It is snowing in Rocky Mount!

Just a little. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this development. One advantage is that they may close school early. One disadvantage is that all the kids know they might and will do nothing all day whether they do or not. All I will hear about today is snow. No learning will take place.

I got a new student the other day. And once again I was reminded of how kids get pigeon-holed into roles. Before I even met her, all of my other students were saying that she is bad and that she has a history of hitting her teachers. I immediately steeled myself and my head went to this place where I decided I just wouldn't mess with her and I'd let her sit and do nothing as long as she wasn't disruptive.

But then the Teach for America kicked in. So I decided to hold her accountable and treat her like I had never heard about her. And, what do you know? Yesterday I had her reading a major part in the play we are reading and she did her journal and was pretty pleasant. I don't know if I'll have problems with her or not, but I do think that pretending that I have never heard of her is the only fair way to go.

Golly how I love Friday. Owen is coming to Rocky Mount to bear witness to my life here. Then tomorrow we are going to somewhere we've never been. We are not sure where yet. ¶ 4:25 AM

Kids are so uncontrollable.

I think I have too much empathy for them. I just felt at the beginning of the day like I couldn't punish them too much for throwing snowballs at each other...because they are children, you know? I felt like all the older teachers were being so crotchety yelling at them and punishing them for the harmless fun of snowball fights.

But then reality set in when I was reminded that my school is not a Norman Rockwell painting. One cherub of mine good-naturedly (?) hucked a snowball at another of my little pumpkin's and latter pumpkin ran up to him and came crashing down on his skull with his fist. Beautiful moment turned to chaos. Both of my darling's ended up bloodied and bandaged and suspended.

So, that's why those older teachers were being so crotchety! I instantly became crotchety after that. My kids know how cranky Ms. Me gets when one of them attacks another. But they were still unruly all day long. They also love to run up my slick as oil metal ramp with all the little tacks sticking out of it (i lovingly call it the "ramp of death") and crash into the side of the trailer. It is a lot of fun until i run out of band-aids and make them stop their bleeding with their own sweatshirts.

But Rocky Mount is lovely covered in snow. And I just bought a six-pack of beer and am awaiting Owen's arrival. ¶ 11:23 AM
Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Ways that teaching has changed my life:

1. I am now officially using eye cream twice a day to try to prevent the wrinkles that have newly carved themselves into my skin.

2. I sort of like sweaters with pictures knitted into them.

3. I have developed a taste for weak coffee with grounds floating in it and the feel of styrofoam cup on my teeth.

4. I have begun to start sentences in the copy room with "I don't mean to be catty, but..."

5. I'm not shocked anymore by the knowledge that many 12-year-olds have sex as often as I do. ¶ 7:26 PM
Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Everything is going so well! It is pure insanity.

I am teaching a drama lesson. So we are reading a play about Anne Frank. The kids have never heard of Hitler or the Holocaust and all they could say about being Jewish was "they are going to hell". They are very devout Christians, almost without exception...or perhaps without exception. When I explained (basically) what being Jewish meant, they conceded that it wasn't terribly different from their own beliefs. So we have been having huge discussions about all of this. And by discussions, I mean that they are actually participating and listening. This is pretty new.

I have lost several students to high school. Many of my second year eighth graders have been moved up. This is a great thing because it didn't seem like it was going to happen. I am thrilled. I now have tiny classes and the hardest kids are gone...well, most of them. I keep having to pinch myself when I think of how much I have covered in class over the last two days and how...well, pleasant...the children are being.

Stay tuned for the inevitable crash from this pleasing delirium. ¶ 11:56 AM
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Vacation is most officially over.

Tonight I must lesson plan like a dog because I did none of it over break. I feel fine about that, though, because I didn't want to work over break. And I didn't.

I was sick for most of break. But I still got to hang out with family and friends. I didn't get to go to the Bay, but I got to be in Portland while it snowed more than I have ever seen it snow. I had a great time.

Then I got back to Chapel Hill and had a simply delicious weekend. Perfection.

Now, back in Rocky Mount. Thinking about going to school tomorrow. I thought for just a moment when I left that things would be completely different when I got back. I thought that I may have a revelation about education and know what I was doing suddenly. But I am just as lost and confused as when I left. I am just trying to get through it, which seems like not the best attitude to take. But I'll try to improve.

Wish me much luck with a bunch of students who thought they would be advanced to high school over break and were not. Send me good charma for the fifty kids who have fogotten all the rules since we have been out so long. ¶ 1:00 PM
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

I got to spend several days at my dad's house burning cd after cd!

On the downside, I have been sick the entire time that I have been here. It is true. Last night I coughed so much that I threw my back out. And I may be one of the only people in the country who has actually lost a little weight during the holidays...and I have been trying so hard to work on my "teacher ass" and everything!

I feel a little better about not getting to go to the Bay because of the sickness. I would have hated to waste a trip being sick. At least being sick with family feels fine. I am hoping that I can be better by the time I come back. ¶ 1:10 PM
Thursday, December 25, 2003

Santa brought me sickness for Christmas.

I woke up this morning at about 2am and didn't fall back to sleep all night on account of the obsessing about whether or not I would throw up. I did.

I don't mind being sick that much, usually. I'm not a whiner about it and it doesn't happen that often. But it was pretty sketchy here because of the neice and nephew and all the scary stories of little kids getting really sick from the flu. So I decided to just hang out at the house while they went to celebrate.

Time is going by a little too quickly for my tastes. One week of vacation is almost over. I'm trying not to think of it like that, though. I still have a whole week to be here. I'm glad that the whole Christmas thing is over after today and things will be normal, again. Holidays are a lot of pressure.

Tomorrow I will go see my Dad, who was kind enough to drive all the way to the Bay to get all of my belongings out of storage. This is very exciting because when I stored everything I thought I would be back to get them within a couple of weeks and I ended up in North Carolina for four months. So there is a lot of stuff in there that I really want. I get to go through it tomorrow and ship myself some stuff.

Hope everyone's Christmas is rockin'. ¶ 4:55 PM
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

I am in Portland, Oregon and my life is filled with playing Strawberry Shortcake games with my neice and changing the diapers of my nephew. I couldn't be more pleased.

This is a big break from the teaching life. I feel so much lighter and I feel all the muscles in my back releasing from their 4 month long clench.

I think we will be going to the beach for Christmas and I get to go to an aquarium! Very exciting. Tonight I may be off to karoke, which is a love of mine.

All is well. ¶ 11:34 AM

It looks like I may not be able to cruise down the coast to California to visit all of those out there whom I would love to visit. It would just take more money and time than I have.

I miss all of you California friends! I promise that I will make a special trip to come see you in either February or March. I miss the Bay...and I miss all of you. ¶ 5:52 PM
Saturday, December 20, 2003

I won't be seeing my kids faces for two whole weeks!

Bliss. Yesterday was every teachers nightmare. There was absolutely nothing we could do about any misbehavior (all of the staff for that was gone, they knew we couldn't give them detention or suspend them right at the end, so on), so the kids went buck wild. For the first time since the beginning of the school year, they just refused to listen to me. I would shout at them and they would completely ignore me. It reminded me of how far we have come because they just don't do that anymore and I had forgotten that they ever had. It was nice to see that they, at least, somewhat listen to me normally.

As soon as the bell rang, I and a fellow teacher ran to a restaurant and slammed down a jack and coke. Just one. I had packed the night before, so I was ready to leave the Mount! As I went to my car to jet on outta there, I realized that the rain looked funny. Turns out, it was snowing! But it was a silly little snow that made me laugh because they were such tiny flakes and they were dissolving in mid-air. Plus it was all sunny in the sky and warmish. But it made me happy that it was snowing a little and not enough to make my trip to Chapel Hill hazardous.

Now I am in Chapel Hill...sleeping, mostly. I may go see a movie in a bit. Then sleep some more. I am trying to gather energy to be a playmate to my four-year-old neice and my 9-month-old nephew. I'm so excited. ¶ 5:33 AM
Thursday, December 18, 2003

One more half day to go...

I got a Christmas card from a student today. It reads:

To my A+ Teacher and My most coolest Techer I have had some of my Superb! In your class have a happy Holiday
From: Isiah

I learned four things from this card:

1. Isiah maybe doesn't hate me after all.
2. I have been misspelling his name for four months.
3. We need to do a lot more grammar, spelling, and writing work.
4. They did learn how to use the colon!

I went out to breakfast, this morning, with the whole eighth grade department at my school. I learned a lot from just sitting and listening to their stories of how their year has been going. It is nice (and awful) to learn that it is not just me having a difficult time getting the kids to pass their tests and behave. Even the most veteran teachers are struggling. When I told some story of how I had reacted to some situation or another (I think I told them that I had let a sick child call home), all of the older teachers laughed and rolled their eyes. One of them said, "Oh, you still have empathy! That'll pass!"

It is pretty official in my mind that this is my first and last year teaching. I do still have empathy and I am not looking forward to the time when I don't. Some days I already don't. I really just know that teaching is not for me, and at 28-years-old I just don't feel like I have the time to spend two years doing something that is not for me. But I am holding steady for this year. And I will always have an overwhelming respect for career teachers. ¶ 10:24 AM
Wednesday, December 17, 2003

After yesterday's trauma, I decided that I deserved a day off.

So today I treated myself to hours of reality television and doing laundry in my own sweet time. I also treated myself to a Subway sandwich (another one of my comforts) and a Dr. Pepper. Things are looking up today.

I am also thankful today for Nicole...she has a lovely blog of her own that many of you reading link to at I am thankful to her because we were in college together and went through the whole TFA application and interview process together, too. I am so glad that I have a friend who is dealing with the same stuff I am all the time. It is nice to talk to someone who knew me before TFA about all this stuff. I feel a lot less crazy about it.

So I think I will just go get my laundry out of the dryer, now. Then I will have a Queer as Folk marathon (I rented a DVD from the movie store). In this way, I will prepare myself for the last two (half!) days of teaching middle-school for this year. ¶ 1:16 PM
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

So, I realized today that all the bad days I've had were not really that bad. I learned that because I actually had a really bad day today.

During homeroom, one of my students had a grand mal seizure...complete with blood coming out of her nose and mouth. Because I have First Responder certification, I was officially the most highly trained medical staff at my school. Due to budget cuts, we only have a nurse on Wednesdays.

She stopped breathing for a couple of seconds and I was faced with the realization that I was going to have to give mouth to mouth. But luckily, she started up again. The ambulance took a long time to arrive.

One positive was that the rest of my students were really great. They didn't laugh or take the opportunity to go nuts. They sat quietly and showed a lot of empathy for the student, later. I'm still waiting to hear how she is doing. She has no history of seizure, so the paramedics thought that maybe she had a high fever due to the flu.

This flu thing is hitting a little close all of a sudden. Another one of my students went to the hospital yesterday with a 107 degree fever. She didn't have the dramatics of the seizure, but she very well could have. I have a bit of a fever myself and am considering just staying home for the rest of the week.

I am very ready to have a vacation and not be responsible for the lives of others. It was very heavy to feel like it was up to me to save this girl. I don't feel trained enough for that. I am very angry that we don't have a nurse on campus at all times. You would think we could get the money for that somewhere. ¶ 6:10 PM
Monday, December 15, 2003

Know what's fun? Lying.

Tonight I went to a coffee shop to celebrate the accomplishments of a few of my students who did really well on their progress reports. It is a little function put on by my team teacher. Only two kids showed up and they were over an hour late. Which means I was stuck chatting with the other teacher.

I don't like being stuck having real conversations with people around here...on account of being in the closet and all. Whenever I am left alone with other women, they always ask me about dating and stuff. They are being friendly, but I always feel awkward.

So she began to quiz me about past relationships, etc. I became uncomfortable about changing pronouns, gender, and so on. But then I had a breakthrough! It would be so much less awkward if there was no truth whatsoever to what I was saying! So I began to spin a tale for her of heartbreak and drama that would make you weep. She got a tear in her eye.

I characterized my life as a series of unfortunate periods where dedicated men loved and lost me...all due to my wretched independant nature and the fact that I just "couldn't settle down". I told her about Jeff, the artist, who wanted nothing more than for me to drop everything and move to Paris with him (Paris being the only place he thought he could really accomplish his "work"). I, of course, ran away from his love and moved to California, knowing that I could never really dedicate myself to him the way he deserved. Especially since I had such important work of my own to do and found it impossible to compromise...even for love. I admitted that, to this day, I receive heartrending postcards from him (he's never really loved again).

I told her about the others I'd left behind, too. Of course, this is all a huge lie. There is no Jeff or anything of the sort. And I am the one, usually, in my relationships that is left behind in my partner's cruel trail of ambition. But it was much more comfortable to lie completely than to just lie about the gender of the person I am dating/ have dated. And it was really fun.

On a different topic, I am slightly disturbed by the web that I have woven (weaved?) with this blog. I am finding that I am popping up everywhere on internet places that I would not have expected. Because I write the words "Rocky Mount" and "Teach for America" all the time, I pop up when others enter those words for entirely unrelated searches. I only mention because it is beginning to dawn on me that this blog may be very easy to come people like other teachers at my school and the parents of my students. I can see how my silly musings could easily blow up in my face. Oh, well. The blog has become a beast of its own-- who am I to attempt to contain it? The internet is a wily venue for my thoughts.

4 days until vacation. ¶ 6:39 PM
Sunday, December 14, 2003

Trying to write a cummulative test for my students is a very humbling task.

What I have realized, as I have begun to write a two hour test for my students to assess what they have learned from me this last four months, is that they haven't learned more than four or five things from me. Well, this is what I thought at first when I tried to make a test. They haven't learned much that relates to the North Carolina State Standards. But here is a small list of what I think they have learned:

1. What the word harmony means.
2. That saying the word faggot is hurtful and never allowed in my class.
3. That you can get arrested for protesting a war and not just selling drugs.
4. Spitting in a trash can indoors is gross and means you'll never get a date in high school.
5. You can be funny and sarcastic without being mean.
6. Cussing makes you sound stupid.
7. Al Gore is not the same person as George Bush.
8. Having Arnold as California govenor is stupid.
9. You don't have to jump up and spin around a room to show that you are can use words!
10.If you have more than one penny you say "cents", plural! Not fifty-cent, but fifty-cents.

So, maybe that wasn't what they were supposed to learn...I can't give them a test on it, anyway. But I can feel okay about it. ¶ 6:26 PM
Friday, December 12, 2003

Yes, I have been neglecting the blog...

I think about writing something everyday, like I was doing for awhile, but then I sit down and I can't think of anything to write about. I have already told so many stories about things that are occuring-- kids screaming at me, me watching Baby Story, going to Chapel Hill on the weekend. I think I would rather say nothing than say the same things over and over. And nothing new has happened in a while.

I think I am just ready to go one vacation. Much like my students, my vacation started in my brain about a week ago. We are all now just going through the motions. I'm sure I will have plenty to say again once I am back on the West Coast.

5 school days until break! And two of those are half-days! ¶ 5:47 PM
Thursday, December 11, 2003

All I have to say today is:

6 days until Christmas break! ¶ 1:02 PM
Monday, December 08, 2003

I went to Winston-Salem this weekend and saw the RJ Reynolds factory! It was hideous!

What a kind of depressing town. There is a downtown that could be kind of nice, but then there is this giant Dr. Seuss looking factory in the middle of looks exactly like the machine that the Oncler built to make Sneeds in "The Lorax".

I went with Owen and we also hung out in Old Salem, which was super cool. It is this colony that was built in the 1700's by some German settlers. Everything (most everything) was really old and well preserved. It was neat.

I like being out here when I take trips and remind myself that I am somewhere new. I wish I had more time to check things out. I still want to see Charlotte and I would love to go to Georgia and/or Florida. I will work on that.

I am now officially begging my principal to remove one of my students. She is completely out of control and throws the whole class out of whack. She was yelling that she hated me in the cafeteria today. This came after I had to send her to the principal earlier and she didn't go. She went home, instead. After all this, I still have to have her tomorrow in my class. I've had to kick her out the last three times she has come. Sheesh. ¶ 1:11 PM
Monday, December 08, 2003

I went to Winston-Salem this weekend and saw the RJ Reynolds factory! It was hideous!

What a kind of depressing town. There is a downtown that could be kind of nice, but then there is this giant Dr. Seuss looking factory in the middle of looks exactly like the machine that the Oncler built to make Sneeds in "The Lorax".

I went with Owen and we also hung out in Old Salem, which was super cool. It is this colony that was built in the 1700's by some German settlers. Everything (most everything) was really old and well preserved. It was neat.

I like being out here when I take trips and remind myself that I am somewhere new. I wish I had more time to check things out. I still want to see Charlotte and I would love to go to Georgia and/or Florida. I will work on that.

I am now officially begging my principal to remove one of my students. She is completely out of control and throws the whole class out of whack. She was yelling that she hated me in the cafeteria today. This came after I had to send her to the principal earlier and she didn't go. She went home, instead. After all this, I still have to have her tomorrow in my class. I've had to kick her out the last three times she has come. Sheesh. ¶ 1:11 PM
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Bad news.

All semester, my repeater kids have been told that if they met these certain goals (few absences, no fights, etc.) they would be moved up to high school in the spring semester. This has been the carrot in front of the cart for the last four months. We dangle it constantly.

Yesterday, I found out that they aren't going to get to go, due to budget cuts at the high school. So everything that they have been working for is for nothing, as far as they are going to be concerned.

I am sure I will have an easy time gaining their trust back after this one. ¶ 4:31 AM
Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Oh, the drama.

Remember that post when I was all proud of myself because I decided to keep all of my students in the face of having the option to send them off to alternative school?

Today I found myself in the principal's office begging her to send a couple away. This came after an entire class revolted against me, led by one of my precious and anger-inclined repeaters. I'll spare the details...just picture literature books flying through the air, threats of being sued, and one very mad 14-year-old screaming "I hate you white bitches always trying to control me!" All because I don't let them go to the bathroom whenever they please.

I still feel bad about the prospect of any of my students going away to alternative school. I feel like it is a giving up on them of sorts. Teach for America teaches us not to do that. I know that going away isn't going to be good for this student, who is bright and full and ideas, but I am at the end of my little rope. I am coming to the thought that it isn't fair for the other students in my classes to let a few completely bring learning to a halt with their behavior. Other students who actually care about their education and are trying to improve themselves.

The "good" students just don't quite make as sexy of a story, in the end. It makes people shudder to hear the story of the near convict who gains a love of literature and life, all because of your wisdom and dedication. We are all left breathless from the tales of that one ragged and unkept teen whose wild and seemingly violent tendancies simply hide the genius that is trapped beneath his poverty. We want to be the teacher who attends the award ceremony when he gets a scholarship to a community college and says, "You were the only one who believed in me..." with a tear in his eye. It is all very "Stand and Deliver".

But what about the kid who has been trying really hard all year? The one who sighs heavily when the books start to fly in her classroom because she knows this is going to be yet another hour where, instead of learning grammar, she knows she is going to be watching an episode of Jerry Springer?

I'm tired of catering to the kids who don't care. I don't think it is fair to the other kids. So I think I am going to get the kids who are causing the most trouble out. And the principal is supportive of it. It is hard to be in Teach for America, sometimes. We get a lot of messages that tell us that we are a revolution and that the old ways have to go. That we need to fight for the kids that seem hopeless. But then there are people, like my principal, who have decades of experience and I have to wonder, don't they know more than me about this? Shouldn't I trust her instincts?

It is all very confusing. But in the end, I am simply tired of having things thrown at me and being called a bitch. I need some peace. But maybe teaching isn't where peace is gotten. ¶ 3:28 PM
Sunday, November 30, 2003

Washington D.C. was surprising to me. I think I expected it to be something else. I don't know...bigger or older or something.

It is a very pretty city...everything seemed pretty clean. I guess they pay people a lot of money to scrub it down so it looks good to tourists and politicians. The White House was much much smaller than I expected. The first thing I did there was go to the Holocaust Museum. When is one in a good space to go to that, I wonder? I just kind of went because it was the first thing we ran into on my list of places to see. It was heavy and intense. I learned a lot about the Holocaust that I didn't know. It was also sort of...packaged, I guess. I just kept thinking about how it seemed a little like a big, shiny advertisment. Not an advertisment...but it was all very slick. But I guess that is good because people are most responsive to things that are slick and well-packaged. But I'm really glad I went. I learned a lot.

Terri and I got our pictures taken in front of the White House and in front of the Washington Monument. It is hard to avoid the Washington Monument, though, because it juts out into the sky and you can see it everywhere. We passed on getting our pictures taken with the cardboard cut-outs of Bush and Clinton.

We also cooked a pretty impressive Thanksgiving dinner, complete with a real turkey! We labored for over an hour in the grocery store trying to figure out what our capabilities were in the cooking a turkey sphere. In the end, we decided to go for it and we cooked a pretty nice turkey. I was a little may have been slightly pink...but Terri and her sister said it wasn't, so I trusted them. Still, I think we did pretty well.

The weekend was somewhat relaxing and totally fun. Today, I had to get back to teaching reality and plan for the week, but everything feels much nicer with the knowledge that I only have three teaching weeks until break! And on December 21st, I fly to Portland! I don't come back until the 1st! So, Portlanders, what is up for New Years?

I hope to also make it to the Bay Area for a spell...though money is looking bad on that front. But if I can lie, cheat, and steal for the dough, I'll be seeing you folks, too. ¶ 7:15 PM
Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Very exciting times, these.

My kids are just finishing their poetry portfolios and I read a few of them today. I was struck by how eloquent kids can be...I was also struck by how many of their fathers are dead. Really, more than a couple wrote about their fathers' deaths and at least one about her mothers. It is strange. But their poetry is simple and good. Most of them put some thought into it.

And tomorrow they are going to do poetry readings, which is fun. The kids like to perform for others so it should be a good day. As long as I can keep them under control. Tomorrow is a half-day, so they will be all amped up.

And today when we were talking about traditional Thanksgiving food, the kids were shocked at all of the things I never had heard of or eaten. They were talking about pig ears and chicken pastry and all of this southern food that I know nothing about. When I told them I didn't know what they were talking about, they all promised to bring me plates of the food on Monday! So I could very likely have way more southern Thanksgiving leftovers that I could eat. While the pig ears I could do without, the chicken pastry sounds interesting. And they promised me collards because I have never had good collards. So exciting.

And tomorrow my friend Terri is coming to hang out with me and my students! My first visitor! It will be interesting to see what she thinks of my monsters. I wonder what they seem like to outsiders. Probably cute.

Then we are off to D.C., where I have never been. I can't wait.

And, today I got my plane tickets to go home this Christmas break. Two glorious weeks to be on the west coast again. While I don't hate it here as much as I used to, I can't wait for all that Portland Oregon green and Bay Area weirdness. A little slice of heaven. ¶ 2:29 PM
Sunday, November 23, 2003

The Teach for America party was fun. It was good to see some people that I have missed.

And from my very unofficial poll, I feel much less alone in my circumstances. At the party I heard of all these people who are probably going to quit at the end of the semester. While I feel bad about that-- not just for the kids and the schools, but also for the teachers because I know what a heart-wrenching decision that is to make-- it makes me feel a lot less alone.

My friend Dale and I were talking and figured out that most of us are fairly miserable...but those of us not quitting have just sort of resigned to it and are used to it. I definately think that is true for me right now. When I really sit down and think about it, there isn't anything here in Rocky Mount that I actually enjoy. I love my students, but if I could think of an easy way out of this, I would probably take it. I love them, but I don't yearn to spend tons more time with them.

The parts of this experience that I am happiest about don't have anything at all to do with teaching. I could have just moved out to Chapel Hill and waited tables or something. But now, I have created a web of debt here that entangles me and I have to keep my salary. That is a huge part of why I don't just move to Chapel Hill or something.

But it is gorgeous here, today. I mean, one of those kinds of perfect weather days you just live for. I can't believe it is like this in November...I pictured it much colder. The weather here has been pretty good the whole time I've lived here...aside from the hurricane and near tornado, that is.

And my weekend was lovely...Owen and Charles whipping my behind in Monopoly (apparently I would never make it as a real estate tycoon), delicious indian food, making fun of people in the sunshine over cold eggs and potatos....perfect. ¶ 10:58 AM
Friday, November 21, 2003

I just thought I would write my weekly "Thank God it's Friday" message. Not much going on here at school at 7:30 in the morning.

This weekend I am going to a Teach for America party filled with Teach for America people. I hope that it is fun. It is always interesting to try to talk to people that you once had all of these circumstantial things in common with that you no longer do. Awkward, often. But there are a few people that I will be glad to see.

It will also be interesting to see how everyone else's teaching is is easy, sometimes, to feel like you are doing a uniquely horrible job, but I am finding that many of us feel like we are doing pretty poorly. And from the stories I hear, some people are doing way worse than me. And, even though that is terrible, it makes me feel a little better.

Then Chapel Hill on Saturday.

Then clean the apartment and work on Sunday. But let's not think that far ahead just yet.

Today I just have silent reading with my kids and game day. Game day is the best thing I have ever done with them. They earn time to spend going outside to play football. It is a break for me and for them and a chance for us to have fun together instead of pushing at each other constantly. TFA drilled into us how the kids don't have any instructional time to waste and how every moment is precious for learning...and I feel a little guilty about the half an hour each week we don't spend in instructional time. But in the end, I think the time I save holding this over their heads all week amounts to more than a half an hour.

Whatever. I just like it. ¶ 4:38 AM
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

I've still done nothing to figure out my life. I haven't even gotten my student loans deferred and all that takes is putting this letter in an envelope. I have been trying to accomplish this task for about three weeks. As of today, I have the letter filled out and the envelope addressed. Now I have to get it stamped, fill in one part of the form, and put it in the mailbox. It is ridiculous that it is taking me this long.

Especially ridiculous because I do nothing with my time during the week. My roomate's father passed away and she is New York for the week, leaving me alone with the apartment. It is nice, in a way, to have the place to myself-- even though, of course, the circumstances are awful. But being here by myself just highlights the fact that that I am leading a pretty solitary existance-- except for on the weekends. My weekends are filled with things that I really like, but Monday through Friday I seriously sit in this weird apartment every night, wandering around aimlessly and talking to myself. I keep telling myself I should get out and do something, but I really don't think that there is anything to do.

There are other Teach for America teachers all around me-- and they are nice. But I just haven't really clicked with any of them. Plus, they are all exhausted, too. And there is this Young Professionals network that I am a member of, but their events are all about schmoozing and finding husbands. I don't want to do either of those things. And I had a friend or two at school, but I came out to one of them and she doesn't talk to me anymore, really. And the other one says awful things that offend me to the core all the time and is hard to take. Today she told me, "My father got himself two little Mexican men to scrub his floors. They are good at work like that, the little Mexicans." It hurts me to be near it.

I am used to a very social those of you who are reading this and know me are very aware of. Some TFA people deliberately went to a rural place to learn to be alone or find themselves in the solitude. But I didn't want that. I've done this kind of thing before and I know I don't like it. I guess I am just lonely and spend too much time sitting around. I am also pretty homesick right now and missing all my friends who have known me for a long time.

Today I had to be evacuated from my classroom. My classroom is a metal trailer out behind the school. And there was a tornado warning in my county. You gotta love North Carolina. So far, I've had a hurricane and now a potential tornado. You should have seen me when I got that news. I am much more afraid of tornados than most things...perhaps with the exception of tsunamis (which has to be the most horrifying natural disaster, in my opinion...did you know that the ground liquifies in a tsunami and you actually get sucked into the sand long before the wave really hits you? and that right before the wave hits there is an ungodly silence and the ocean goes back so far that it seems to disappear? isn't that just the creepiest thing?). So I had all of my kids with about three other classes wedged into the library and I had to try to keep them quiet. It was stressful, but at least we didn't fly away.

But on the upside, I have met a few people here that I am really glad that I met. Plus, I get to live near Owen. I'm glad my weekend life is what it is...I would just like my weekday life to improve a bit.

¶ 4:56 PM
Monday, November 17, 2003

I am feeling stumped about my blog, lately. I suddenly feel like I no longer have anything interesting to say about the South or about teaching. Either I am getting used to things or I am actually no longer interesting.

Right now I am feeling overwhelmed by possibilities for next year. I have been convinced that I don't want to stay here and teach for my second year, so I haven't been taking the classes I need and stuff to do that. But now I am starting to panic a little because I don't know what I will do instead. Student loans loom in a very ugly way ahead...I want to go back and be near my family in Portland, but there are no jobs there...I am interested in grad school, but am totally not certain what I want to do...I miss California like crazy.

I just don't know exactly what to work towards, so I am not making any decisions. But that feels bad, too, because there are time limits to all this stuff-- classes, GRE's, applications.

I think I need a nap. ¶ 12:49 PM
Friday, November 14, 2003

Better now. Friday. Thank you to a higher power.

I love Friday so much. It is my favorite day. Saturday is not as good because I feel pressure to make it great. Then Sunday is kind of sad because I know the weekend is ending.

But Friday is perfect because it is hope! So much weekend ahead! So much promise. I am the happiest, nicest teacher on Fridays. ¶ 4:32 AM
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Now that I have my new glasses, I feel awkward wearing them. I feel like I am making a big deal of them by wearing them.

I hate having new things. The wear in period is always awkward. Like when I get a haircut or something. I hate all of the "Oh! You got a haircut!" stuff. I feel like I am in a parade or something. I feel like I am purposely drawing attention to myself.

Perhaps I overthink most things?

Tragically, I know I may not wear them much because of these random insecurities. All it took was one student saying, "How come you are wearing glasses?" to make me take them off. Blindness is preferable to the attention. (knock knock).
¶ 6:04 AM

I'm really upset right now.

So the day started out on a bad note. Two of my students started fussing with each other. Tiara and Travis started out good naturedly insulting each other, which I tried to stop. But it got all serious and then Tiara stood up to go smack him. He stood up, too, and suddenly we had a potential fight. As I tried to get them apart, Travis called me a bitch. But I got them apart and took them aside seperately and just tried to get them to calm down. It was only homeroom and I didn't want to send either of them to the office that early, so I didn't. I just asked them to try to avoid each other for the rest of the day.

But now I feel awful because during fourth period, Tiara ended up stabbing Travis with a pencil in the back-- twice. Like, she hurt him, blood and all. I guess they never figured out their differences. I know that if I had sent them to the office earlier, that wouldn't have happened. They would have been in a little trouble, but not what is happening now. Tiara is the girl who threw a desk at me in the beginning of the year. She was really difficult at first, but for the last month or so, she has really improved. She has been awesome for a while, now. But because of this, she is now long-termed. Gone. When some other teachers were talking about her, they were saying things like "She had so much potential" and "I had some hopes for her". They were talking about her like she had died. She is now out of our hair and they all seemed so flippant about it. I guess they have been doing this much longer than me, because I cried all the way home. What happens to a kid once they are long-termed? They go to some school with a bunch of kids that are even more violent and messed up than them. That is not going to be good for Tiara.

To top it all off, in that same 4th period class, another one of my students got suspended for 7 days for pushing the teacher. The frustrating thing is that the class all of these students had is taught by an awful teacher. I hate to sound superior, but how do students even get into a position where they are stabbing each other? How does a student get so angry at his teacher that he pushes her? I just don't think that could happen in my class. The kids aren't out of control maniacs-- they lead up to things like this. There has to be opportunity and build up. With structure, you can avoid those things. But this teacher is awful and the kids are completely wild in her room. And Dennis, the kid who supposedly pushed her, is really not the kind of kid who does stuff like this. I just know it is at least partly her fault.

So the end of my day consisted of talking to this sobbing 15-year-old boy who's mom was going to kick his ass. He just kept saying, "You know me, Ms. Roberts! I wouldn't push her! I was playing." And he had been so happy earlier in the day because his grades had gone up. He was so proud and he couldn't wait to get home to show his folks.

I feel like drowning myself in the sink. I don't like having this much responsibility. When I make a mistake, it has potential to really mess up some small people. I don't like that at all. I know the Tiara thing isn't all my fault-- I didn't stab anyone with a pencil. But I also know I could have done more to prevent it. I want to go back to working at a book store. ¶ 12:36 PM
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I am not a fan of the military, necessarily, but damn I've loving those veterans, today. Day off. Much needed. Much loved.

I am even doing work-- which feels great. And I went grocery shopping. And to the library. And picked up my new glasses. So productive. So pleased. Ahhhh..... ¶ 9:02 AM
Monday, November 10, 2003

I had a really lovely weekend, which has made me a better teacher. I think that the state should give teachers everything they want and need and then the achievement gap will close. Happy teachers are good teachers.

I'm feeling a little frustrated today by standardized testing. I know this is to be expected. But seeing it up close and personal really puts it into perspective. In North Carolina, students are required to pass this computer test. Makes sense in a lot of ways-- I agree that students should be familiar with word processing and the internet. These are now required skills for many jobs and just some things in general. It would be hard to navigate college applications and financial aid, for instance, if you didn't know a thing about the internet.

But my kids are also required to know how to build databases. How is that a necessary skill? I am sure that it is useful, but for a group of kids that read and write way below grade level, I feel like their time is better spent learning those skills. Also, no one is training teachers (at least not at my school) on these skills, so the kids aren't being taught well at all. The teacher responsible for teaching the database portion of the test told me today that she just reads from this script thing and hands out worksheets. She says there is no way she could build one herself. So basically, I am sending my students out this week to have a two-hour opportunity to fail and feel crappy about themselves. Because God knows they don't have enough of those opportunities.

And they take these tests really seriously. They understand that they are important. They also understand that they keep failing them. They think they are stupid and as much as I try to teach them how the system is screwing them, they are not at a place where they can understand such big concepts. It is so much easier to believe that they are just dumb.

So that is a bummer. But I am also having a really good time with my students lately. I am actually enjoying their company. I have met with a few parents of the really hard cases and that is helping a little. My principal asked me today if I had any students I wanted to "long term", meaning kick out of school all together and send to an alternative school or something. I had a lot of power to do that because she knows how unruly and violent some of my kids are. It was a revealing moment for me because when I sat down and considered each of my students, I realized that I didn't really want to lose any of them. Not my burglar, not the girl who threw a desk at me, not my petty thieves, not the girl who hurled a book at me and called me a bitch. Given the chance to get rid of them, I told my principal that I would keep them all. That feels amazing. ¶ 12:56 PM
Friday, November 07, 2003

It is always kind of exciting to come back to school after a day off to see what occured in your absence. Being a teacher sort of makes me feel very important. I honestly have trouble understanding what my class would do without me. They are so difficult for me to handle, I always wish I could be a fly on the wall when someone else is there.

This was the best absence yet. Nothing far as I can tell right now. And the sub said they were all pretty good.

The only trouble was really weird trouble. I have a student named Geneva who is really nice and sweet. She asked at the beginning of the year if she could sit at the table on the side of the room. I said, "Sure." So there she has been, all this time. Sweet as a pea.

I recently created a new seating chart and I forgot to write down that Geneva sits at the table. So yesterday, apparently, the sub didn't see her name on the seating chart and asked her to sit in a chair. Then, though I cannot imagine this at all, hell broke loose. Geneva freaked out in some major way, refused to sit in a chair, began cussing at the substitute, got sent to the office, and then started throwing things at the Assistant Principal. She is suspended for three days.

It is never what you think it is going to be. Who knew that her whole world was wrapped up in sitting at the table? I had no idea it was so important to her. I feel bad, because I should have written it down, but at the same time-- there is no excuse for her to act that way. I should probably call home and ask her what the hell she was thinking.

It is the weekend! Tonight I am going to Henderson to hang out with my friend Terri, who is a third (umm...fourth?) grade teacher. I am going to the elementary school "Fall Festival", so that should be exciting. I am hoping for little ones in fall costumes, but I don't know if that is what this is all about. It is amazing what I now do for entertainment. Then, to Chapel Hill, my home away from...well, Rocky Mount. ¶ 6:07 AM

I just found out that someone found my blog by typing in "what to do about a teacher screaming at her class" into google. I don't know how I feel about that. ¶ 2:07 PM
Thursday, November 06, 2003

So the car is going to be fine. It will cost about three hundred dollars at some point, but it is not so dire that it can't wait a bit. Compared to the blown engine on the last car, I feel fairly lucky. Even being in Durham for a few hours wasn't so painful. The two guys that worked at the shop were unbelievably (and at a certain point, creepily) friendly. We talked and talked until finally one of them asked me if I wanted to go somewhere. So he took me to 9th street, this kind of college street near Duke, and I got breakfast at this cute place and then planned for next week at this coffee shop.

It is really really nice to not be at school today. And tomorrow is Friday and nothing real ever happens on Friday anyway. And then there is a nice weekend to look forward to, followed by Monday at work, and then Tuesday off for Vetrans Day. Good times.

I have so much to do before the weekend...laundry, getting my nails done. Sometimes I wish I never started this whole getting my nails done thing-- it is really a never-ending task...but the girls in my class really relate to my acrylic french manicure and I think I would probably to even more drastic things like get a nose job if it helped them relate to me. But I am sleepy, so I am off to nap.

It is so fun to find out that people I don't know are reading the blog...I wonder who else is out there... ¶ 10:52 AM
Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Today I had to turn in my grades for the last six weeks. I am pretty proud because only four of my kids failed. I am not sure if that means that I am not being harsh enough or that they are doing more work.

But I do have a success story. One of my students spent the first six weeks sleeping and didn't turn in a thing. But in the last three weeks, we did an intervention and he has really started to improve. He went from an F to a C for this report card. It was really a pleasure to see him light up when I told him his grade. The more success he has, the more he wants to be successful. I wish all of the kids took to it like that. ¶ 5:51 AM

I am feeling very homesick, tonight. And I am not even sure what home I am sick for. Maybe the Bay, where my friends are. Maybe Portland, where my family is.

I am a little tired of being surrounded by new things. I am enjoying my time here, but I think I need a break. I miss being around familiar and predictable people and things. I am also oddly exhausted and have been for a couple of weeks. I don't get enough sleep or exercise. Just in a funk, I guess.

And my students are so...much. They take up ninty percent of my brain at all times. I feel overwhelmed by all of their needs and wants and problems. I need to carve out more of a life of my own here and not just wait for weekends to come so I can go to Chapel Hill. I know what things would make me feel better, but I am so tired at the end of the day, I don't do any of them.

But tomorrow I have the day off to take my perfect little car to the VW mechanic. Her check engine light is on, which stresses me out. I hope it is nothing serious. And I hope there is a coffee shop near the mechanic shop. ¶ 8:06 PM
Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Um, I came out to a very very very straight teacher here today. I don't know why I did it. It was unplanned and uncontrollable.

I'm kind of freaked out.

More later... ¶ 9:43 AM

Well, it was one of those awkward situations that I have been having since I got here. Being closeted means that when other people are having conversations about past relationships and boyfriends, I have the choice of either changing pronouns and stuff or seeming like I have never in my life had a relationship and not be able to ever join in the conversations. I like to be part of conversations too much to do that all of the time.

So, today, a teacher that I hang out with a lot were outside and chatting. She was telling me these stories and I joined in the conversation, but at some point she asked me point blank the name of the "guy" I was talking about. One thing I have always drawn the line at is doing things like calling a "Julie" a "Julian" or something, so I tried to avoid it. But I tried to avoid it for so long that I started to look like a freak and I think she began to think that I just didn't want to tell her because I didn't trust her or something. It got very awkward.

So finally, I turned to her and said, "Well, the thing is-- the guy? He is really a girl."

I have never witnessed such a reaction. In the West, people are just sort of used to it and would at least try to be cool. But her jaw just dropped and it was awful to watch. Awful and awkward and I didn't know what to do.

But at the end of the day, she was going out of her way to be friendly to me, I think. She is young and I think she likes me so I think this will be okay. I worry a little about it getting out. I worry a little about losing one of two friends I have there. But I also feel really great about the fact that I have probably rocked her perceptions a bit. I hope that it is all worth it. ¶ 1:26 PM
Monday, November 03, 2003

Big talk earlier. Oh, yeah. I am so tired of doing this! Sorry to be so all over the place, but jeez! I don't know why my tolerance for them is so low right now. I am tired of talking over them and making a million really important decisions every day.

One day it is deciding whether or not to turn them in for stealing from me...AGAIN. They are stealing all the time from my room. Stealing things that are meant for them anyway. Then it is deciding whether or not to turn them in for blatently cheating on tests, assignments, printing poems from the internet and handwriting their names on them. They lie to me constantly. Kids or no kids, it gets really old.

I may just be having a crappy evening. In fact, I am having a crappy evening for a million reasons. But even so, I can't believe I have to do this for another 7 months.

Pardon my angry first year teacher rants. Positivity will resume soon. Promise. ¶ 8:11 PM
I am having a Teach for America moment, where I realize that I have this huge responsibility to these kids. And also that I have sort of been giving up on them. I can hardly believe that it only took a couple of months for me to do exactly what TFA tells you not to do.

I am going to try harder today. I am going to try to remember not to take things so personally and remember that they are the children and I am the adult. What they say and do does not have to effect me personally, right?

Then again, it is only 7:30am and I have yet to see a child today. We'll see how I do. But I do need to recommit myself to this thing. I need to be a grown-up. ¶ 4:38 AM
Sunday, November 02, 2003

I think that I have forgotten how to think about being a teacher. I really have so much to do today-- like new seating charts for my classes, an entire unit for poetry, etc. I really want to make them love poetry the way that I love poetry and I have a lot of good ideas, but it would be very easy for me to be lazy and just do book work. The thing is, when I try to do exciting things, the kids go nuts. Like I have all of these dreams of playing music and relating poetry to folk songs and things, but all of these things go easily out of hand. I can picture putting on some of my favorite songs that I consider amazing poetry and having all of them bitch and whine about how they hate my music and why can't we listen to 50 Cent, etc. That will break my heart.

But I think I am going to try it anyway. I think I am going to go to the coffee shop or the library in Rocky Mount (which is actually quite big and nice) and just buckle down. This is what I think, even though I have been doing nothing but cleaning my apartment like a madwoman and emailing people all morning. The cleaning was necessary...I guess the emailing, too, works to keep me a bit sane.

Last night as I was driving to Rocky Mount kind of late, I came very close to hitting a deer while going 70 miles an hour. This brought back this summer when Owen and I did actually hit a deer going 70 miles an hour and even more recently the fact that Owen dressed up as said dead deer for Halloween. It was really scary to slam on my breaks on the freeway going that fast and as I contemplated my death, I almost laughed at the irony of it. But then I did not die and neither did the deer and we are both very pleased. ¶ 9:32 AM
Saturday, November 01, 2003

Chapel Hill, again. I had a lot of fun last night for Halloween. Owen and Charles had a party at their house and I must say that there was a lot of creativity flowing! Owen was roadkill (a dead deer, complete with crows pecking at his carcass), Charles was Clay Aiken (a really big deal out here because he's from North Carolina), and there were prom queens and a Wonder Woman, and lots of cool things.

I did what I always do, which is chicken out at the last minute and not dress up at all. Go me.

After the party, the ladies and I went to Bully's Basement, a girly bar in Durham. We saw a Drag King show and then just hung out. Then we went to get burritos. I love late night burritos.

Then, today, I had breakfast at the co-op and watched hippies and babies and puppies frolic in the sun. It was a gorgeous day out here. Then I went for a walk around Chapel Hill and UNC campus with Owen, which made me so hot and tired I came back and had a two hour nap. Love it.

Tonight I am going to Ethiopian food and I can't wait because I haven't had that in ages. And they certainly don't have it in Rocky Mount. You take culture where you can around these parts.

Tomorrow I must do work! I must! Poetry isn't just going to leap into these children's head, you know. ¶ 3:55 PM
Friday, October 31, 2003

I just found out that if you enter "fulsom street fair" (the leather extravaganza in San Francisco) into google, my blog comes up on the second page. And there is a quote from me writing something like "men spinning in circles spanking themselves".

I love technology. Sometimes I think this thing is getting out of hand. ¶ 4:15 AM
Thursday, October 30, 2003

I have been laboring over a costume for Halloween and I have finally started getting it together. I went to a craft store last night and spent way too much time there. I ended up with, not only what I needed for the costume, but knitting supplies as well. Someone is going to get a poorly knitted black scarf for Christmas! Watch out, it could be you.

But I am going to dress as a teacher for Halloween. I don't think that many people will get it-- if they haven't been around schools for awhile. But last night I puffy painted a black t-shirt and wrote (in orange) "There is nothing SPOOKIER that ignorance!". Then I am going to tye things to it, like pumpkins and spiders. Good times.

Today is one of those days where I realize that I have a cushy job, in ways. For instance, when I think about it, I only really work from 9:30-2:30. That is when the kids are here. Everything else is pretty chill. Not so bad. It can only be hard because of all of the trauma that kids can pack into those 5 hours. But I feel happy and lucky today.

And, once again, I am excited for the weekend. I have a pretty good life here in North Carolina, now. I am still homesick, but hopefully Christmas going down the Western coast will help that. ¶ 5:38 AM
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Well, I had to throw out the entire reward system that I had (tickets to excellence) because I figured out that more kids were involved than I thought.

I did give me an opportunity to give this awesome speech to my classes, though. They were actually listening, I think. I struck some sort of chord. And believe me, that is not always the case. But I stood up and said,

"You have an opportunity, right now, to decide what kind of world to live in! You can let a few people ruin your class, ruin your fun, ruin your chances in life-- or you can stand up for yourself and take charge! It is not noble to protect those people who are hurting you. You are not being a friend by refusing to tell me who the guilty parties are. You are being cowardly and you are deciding that you have no rights. If you decide to do that-- well, then, you don't deserve to have rewards. You don't deserve to have fun. You don't deserve my respect. You don't deserve Tickets to Excellence."

After that, several kids gave me notes telling me who did what and who stole things. I am trying to teach them that the "good" kids outnumber the "bad" and that they need to take their classroom back. It is sort of working, I think.

But now, I have to create a new system. Off to Office Depot I go, to find unique paper and perhaps some rubber stamps. Yes, rubber stamps! Oh, these are the things that teachers love! ¶ 5:46 AM
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

I actually taught a for real lesson today! I have been so lazy, lately, and just kind of floating along. But today I taught a lesson on symbolism and they did activities and everything. It was sort of annoying, because they kept talking, but it was better than what they have been doing-- which is throwing things, stealing things, screaming obsenities at me.

It helps that many of my kids, as always, were suspended. While I was away, one of my students broke into the student store and stole $200 dollars worth of school supplies. He probably would not have been caught, except that he promptly went into his next class and started handing out the goods to other kids. He also stole a bunch of my "tickets to excellence", which is how I reward kids for doing well. It ruined my system, but at least nothing else was stolen from my room.

I also got to be detention monitor, which was great. I got to send kids out for talking and not have to do any paperwork. The other teachers out there know what a blessing that is. No paperwork. Imagine.

I am also feeling a lot better. One of my kids told me what the proper color of my car is. According to Timara, my car is "Champagne", not gold. Makes sense. ¶ 1:09 PM
Monday, October 27, 2003

My car is still really cute. And the old car is officially gone. And, did I mention that my car is cute? ¶ 2:49 PM

Ugh. I am siiiick. I hate having colds. I am coughing and have a fever.

I took the day off from school. I will pay for it by having to deal with whatever they do to my substitute, but really, the rest is worth it.

But in the happy news department-- I have the cutest car in the world! I got a goldish 1997 VW Gof and it is little and cute and I love her. Her name is Goldie (named so by the previous owner). She is perfect for me.

I must go cough some more. Cheers. ¶ 11:43 AM
Saturday, October 25, 2003

Last night I went to a houseparty at one of my roomates fellow teachers house--let's call her Jackie, for the sake of anonymity. She is woman that I have met once before and I like her very much. She is a master story-teller and brings me to tears with her imitations of her kids- who are just about the age of mine. I think I have written of her before.

D and I drove up the prerequisite 25 miles through country roads to get to her house, only to be slammed by the smell of hogs when we got out of the car. Jackie lived in a really awesome, beautiful home...that happened to be situated right behind a hog farm. She said that you can hardly ever smell them, so we must have just gotten lucky. She also shared this fun fact with me:

"If you ever need to get rid of a dead body-- I mean, all of it, the fingernails, bones-- just feed it to hogs. They will eat the whole thing. They eat anything!"

We proceeded, with our new knowledge, to suck down more jello shots than any one person should. Anyway, all was fun and games until...

Jackie was telling a story about a woman when she said, "She is this ugly dyke-lookin' woman"

But wait- I didn't even mind that, so much. I expect it out here and I have been trying to seperate out the fact that I like people that say awful things. If I didn't, I would be friendless here in Rocky Mount. I was prepared to let it go. But as soon as the words came out of her mouth, she wheeled around to me in horror, grabbed my arm and said, "Oh, my god, Michele! I am so sorry! I didn't mean anything!"

The situation of this is, of course, the fact that I am closted here. I haven't told anyone that I am queer-- for safety reasons, for the knowledge that I could lose my job, etc. My roomate knows, though. Jackie's reaction made it clear that my roomate had outed me to this woman, whom I barely know. And, to make things worse, there was a guy there that I don't know at all, who saw the whole interaction, so I was outed to him, too. Suddenly, I was this weird queer girl at a party in the country.

My reaction to the whole things was a bit startling to me. I almost started to cry. D apologized when I confronted her, but it didn't feel like enough. I think one of the things that bothers me the most is that I haven't felt okay to tell people. It has been weighing on me so heavily and I haven't been able to talk to people about it. It feels like theft that D felt like she got to talk about it, when I can't.

I don't know really how to handle this. I feel so vulnerable, all of a sudden. And I also feel a bit like a coward- and have all of this time- that I haven't come out, already. I have been considering doing it. My kids ask me if I am gay all of the time because I am always yelling at them for saying "faggot" and the other teachers don't. I don't fear losing my job all that much; most days, I would consider that a blessing. But I do fear walking down the hallway while everyone stares at me with a disgusted look on their face.

But today, I have the house to myself. I am sick, so I will sleep. The car drama continues...maybe I will do laundry.... ¶ 6:15 AM