back to school....

an early year, this 2008-09 school year.

up until 3 years ago we reported back to school after labor day, for 2 professional training days before the kids came back.

now, thanks to randi and her lame reign as uft prez, we report back two days before labor day weekend. and now, the kids come tuesday, starting the school year off with a 4 day week.

we will survive.

i've spent most of monday and tuesday morning and afternoon in my new classroom. i'm really looking forward to being just a teacher, instead of a coordinator, which, at my old school was really just a glorified teacher position with no advantages because of the overall disorganization of the school.

my new classroom is HUGE! i could fit 3 of my former middle/high school labs inside it. i have 6 beautiful clean windows that look northeast towards sunset park and park slope. i can see lots of green from the greenwood cemetery, being on the 4th floor. it's by far the nicest view i've ever had from a classroom. tough to beat the ground level, concrete courtyard, glimpse the gowanus expressway (and smell its glorious fumes) from my old room.

i spent my time rearranging furniture, putting up fresh bulletin boards, cleaning, and putting my boxes of stuff away. today, the former tech teacher, who had a baby 2 weeks ago, came in to give me keys and show me some of her organization tactics, which i'd picked up on. she gave me passwords to the lab and carts and now i feel pretty ready to begin.

the staff seems cool, i don't think i'll ever get a staff like my former school again, that was some kind of once in a lifetime experience. i mean, i met d at my interview there, and intent to maintain contact with many of the friends i made there. i'm hearing what i expected to hear, that the kids are really quiet and nice. even if they're nightmarish hellspawn, i can handle it. i'm looking forward to meeting them.

to all the teachers out there, i hope your two professional days are easy and productive, and i hope your principals let you leave early. i'll probably be freaking out friday afternoon and will stick around until 8, setting up surveys for parents and kids and assignments and homework and lesson plans and all that stuff. i kind of want to do it right this year.


tell me it's alright to have two dogs

because i am so in love with a tripod.


the great worm escape of 2008

picture it, sicily, 1932 ~~-~~

yesterday i looked at the worm bin and noticed it contained no bedding and was entirely comprised of castings with a small amount of eggshells, avacado skins, and a few chunks of carrot. d and i sifted through the finished compost and pulled out all the worms. we left the compost out on the balcony covered with a screen to dry out, as it was pretty wet. the worms, about 500 of them, were placed in a sealed tupperware. it's really interesting to watch them form a giant wormball and wiggle and burrow under one another. they're highly sensitive to light and temperature so it's best for them to be on the bottom of the pile.

today was a really interesting day. i feel like sharing:

3am * couldn't sleep even though i had to wake up at 8 to do a nerd job in the city
7am * walking the dog, giving him breakfast, eating some blueberries
8am * opening the wormball tupperware to give it some air. closing it back up tight.
9am * leaving the house, battery tunnel bound
10am * arriving at k's for some serious geekery
12pm * breaking ie 7 with java update, decimating outlook web access with hotfixes
2pm * lunch break
3pm * picasa tutorial
4pm * itunes tutorial
6pm * breaking itunes
7pm * repairing itunes and getting paid an obscene amount of money considering how much i broke
8pm * arriving home to pick d up and take her out to dinner
830pm * opening the wormball tupperware to give it some air. closing it back up.
9pm * cafe steinhoff for some bavarian treats
915pm * either a food allergy or panic attack causes me to be unable to swallow food
10pm * arrive home, pee
1002pm * notice dozens of worms all over the dining room table, chairs, under the table, on the rug and floor - yes, worms, dozens of them, like 75 to 100 worms, out, in my living room, uncontained, wriggling around
1004pm * freak out on couch and cry a little with toes in full retraction
1005pm * eat xanax and set up fresh bedding for worm bin
1030pm * sample ben and jerry's creme brule ice cream
1145pm * decide to blog about the great worm escape of 2008

as of today i think i might like the idea of the worms more than i like the actual worms.


is this really bad?

i think kids suck. i think the idea of having kids sucks. i think the idea of raising them and dealing with them sucks. this i feel personally, in regards to my own life, and luckily for me, d agrees, though we have discussed briefly adopting a pre-teen or teenager at some point when we're old, financially well-off, and/or actually into dealing with a kid outside of our jobs. while it's inevitable that we'll someday be old, it's unlikely that we'll ever be financially well-to-do, being teachers and all, we've conceded to be terminally somewhere between meager and comfortable.

the part that i think might be really bad is my overt judgment of people who choose to procreate. based on solid statistical data, which i should link, but don't feel like digging up right now, and may insert later, and can probably provide a list if you want, the world population is growing so fucking rapidly that by 2050 there will be 9 fucking billion people in the world. can we just consider the issues we're having with the 6.5 billion that are already here? energy needs, food supply, basic survival requirements, and fucking space! hello? why would we want to cram MORE people into urban areas? why do we want to create more of a burden on the ecosystem of the earth? why do we want to deplete even more natural resources? why do we want to pump money into corporations that exist to clothe, feed and educate humans? and when i ask we, i am asking the global population. i understand that some people don't look at making a baby as a burden on the global ecosystem or global economy. i consider it though.

ok, so the part that burns me, the part that makes me an evil cruel person who is going straight to hell when i die, is the part that does not understand, agree with, or respect people's choice to have fertility treatments when they could adopt. it's like nature saying, hello, your ovaries are busted, your sperms don't swim, how bout taking this kid, his parent don't want him. i know, adoption is really, really hard. i know, it's a dirty process filled with money exchange, extortion, kidnapping, reluctant mothers, foreign crookedness. something needs to change with that process. i hear so often about homeless kids, kids in foster homes, wards of the state, orphans, abused children, abandoned children, children living in conditions that go beyond squalor, this, that. why can't the process for getting these kids into safe, loving homes be easier, partially because, well, they're a kid who needs a loving home, and partially because why should a family have to mortgage their home to get a petri dish embryo implanted in a uterus which may or may not take, and may or may not result in the mother giving birth to quadruplets which they may or may not want or be able to afford? yes, everything comes back to money (thanks dad).

i understand the desire to create blood children. but i don't understand fighting the signs. i understand the advancement of medical technology. i don't understand the justification of the cost compared with the desire to nurture a child. why is a needy child not as good as one that does not exist yet?

i am biased - i have absolutely no desire to push a child out from my loins (omg i said loins, ew). but ugg, why can't people take responsibility for this planet! there are so many ways to do it, this is only one.

and why does this make me so mad? i must be like passionate about it or something.


ps: if there is anyone who reads who has adopted, or knows people who have adopted, thank you, and thank them. they deserve it because they've done something selfless, helpful, and amazingly beautiful.

update: i do recognize that not everybody's worldview is as grim as mine, and i do understand the inherent nature of humans to maintain, continue (and hopefully advance) the species. i appreciate the thought that future generations may contribute towards solving our global crises, as our knowledge base grows deeper, our technology stronger and more advanced, and our capability of global cleanup grows and becomes more essential to survival of the species. perhaps there is a critical mass which needs to be reached before a turnaround in our collective thinking takes place. the 'go green' phenomenon is definitely catching on, but is it enough in its infant phases? that's a post for a whole other time.

i also realize that i label myself as a huge contradiction, claiming i have no interest in children, yet spending my days teaching them. to clarify, i have absolutely no interest in raising them. educating them, preparing them to exist as highly functioning, productive members of society, is another story. i guess somehow i feel this is my role in global overhaul. for now at least.



ok - so the us women's volleyball team is so beyond lame, misty-may treanor actually BENT OVER so dubbya could spank her, (though somehow his pea-brain make him think better of the idea so that he only brushed his hand across her lower back).

i added the video to the post below of walsh and treanor excitedly thanking bushey for his inspiration. LAME!

sorry that the video is all layout-sucky and excessively long. skip ahead to about a minute and 15 seconds to witness the girls stick their tongues so far up his crack they embarrass for the whole country.



good news, and bad news

the bad first:

women's volleyball, hot, sweaty, sandy, toned women running around barefoot and in sporty bikinis on a faux beach, swatting a ball around a net and embracing each other each time they score a point. what's so bad? the embarrassing speech kerri walsh gave immediately following her and misty may-treanor's win over china just a few minutes ago. i'll post video as soon as it's available, but she said, and i paraphrase:

this is for you mr. president, thank you for your words of inspiration

ummm, really? seriously? in those two phrases i lost all respect for her and she became another bimbo on a fake beach to me.

and now the good news:

congratulations rachel! ms. maddow has been named the newest face of msnbc prime time political commentary! bravo!


the year to come

i've taken a very childish attitude regarding the remaining 6 days of summer vacation. when someone mentions the end of august i snap, 'shut up'.
when someone complains about the summer flying by i stick my fingers in my ears and sing liz phair songs.
when someone tries to ask me when i have to be back at work i change the subject to cheese. i ate a grilled manchego with tomato today. tasty.

i've been muddling my way through alan november's book, web literacy for educators. a great book, that i'm just barely getting into, not for lack of content interest, but more for lack of ability to recognize that within 3 weeks i'm going to need to be full steam ahead with learning.

i dig alan november a lot. he's an incredibly smart and sarcastic man. he's basically disgusted with the state of public education in our country and while he's profiting off seminars and book sales that are supposed to help, he's not impacting the problem enough to bring about the changes we need. he's a revolutionary thinker but doesn't seem much of a fighter. he must believe his supporters will create the revolution in his stead.

november has given me a seed of an idea. his schtick is real learning happens while using technology for a meaningful purpose, and talking to real people about it. the seed is this: imagine a middle school, say 8th grade class learning about the american revolutionary war. maybe they're into it, maybe they're tired of it, but either way, they have content they've learned and notes they've taken, and maybe a quiz or test or essay along the way. what i'd like to do, thanks to alan, is get that class into my computer lab for a few sessions. first session we talk about the revolutonary war. we answer some simple questions. how did it start? who were the key players and why them and not others? what exactly was the reason for the war? how do you think the different sides felt about the war? on and on. we spend another session talking about podcasts. i intro garage band, or if i'm lucky, i partner the kids in groups of 2 and hand out the ipods and audio recording adapters i will win on a grant in time for the project through donor's choose, expect a link once they've approved my proposal. we learn how to create a podcast, how the software works, and how to upload it to itunes. boom, bang, done.

we put together podcasts answering the questions answered in the first session, and push them up to the itunes store so someone else can download and listen to them.

we find a cooperating class in england, preferably, who wants to participate. the british class downloads the podcasts, listens to them, reacts, and sends back their own, which my kids receive, listen to, and react. it could go on forever. a real, international substantive debate amongst middle school kids on topic of the american revolutionary war.

and how cool would it be to end the unit in a videoconferencing party where kids in new york and kids in england have some snacks, maybe pizzas, maybe fish and chips, and some sodas, and they can get on a laptop and see and talk to the person in real time who they've been listening to the podcasts of. they can talk about the project or they can ask questions about life in england but either way they're making a social connection with someone far away and likely quite different from them, but possibly a lot the same. it would be a very very exciting thing to watch.

does anyone who reads here, and i know there are a number of you, know any teachers or know anyone who might know a teacher in the UK, england, great britain, the other side of the pond. i have some feelers out to find the class i'll work with, but no good leads yet.

this project is going to be my baby this year. like the student newspaper and photography exhibit was last year. damn, i still need to post some pics of that.

so i guess i'm back on the schoolbus.

wish me well this year.

i might actually be dealing with children who understand that when they come to school, they will spend much of their time there learning.

i'm optimistic.



my not-so-secret crush

i've been totally hot for rachel maddow for like, going on 5 years now. i know, just because she's making humongous media headlines right now i had to jump on the bandwagon. she's even making waves out there on the lesbo pop culture blog! but really i do crush so hard on this smart, funny, hot, really smart lady, d is starting to get sick of my constant need to jump in the car at 6pm every weeknight, and then scream fuck, fuck, why the fuck? NOOOO! just because she's filling in for keith olbermann on msnbc and won't be doing her nightly radio show.

my first two years of teaching, she was my morning commute companion. she brought me news, she brought me interesting factoids about cocktails, and she taught me that it's fun to poke a sharp stick at the soft white underbelly of the right wing. she schooled me on the politics i craved but couldn't find the right sensei for. she became my pre-d dream woman.

i love her history, i love that she met her girlfriend while working as a repairguy in northampton, even though she didn't know how to repair anything. i love that she's a rhodes scholar. i love that she never thought she'd be doing any of what she does now 10 years ago.

and have i mentioned how deliciously sexy she is? i love her diverse nerdy/gussied up styles. the lady is where it's at.


in the sleepy west of the wooded east

monday, while a thunder cell loomed over the east river making the sky look like something out of armageddon, d and i hauled some essentials, plus eddie, plus crate, out to my recently repaired 9 year old jeep and headed north.

4 hours later, we arrived in northampton, a trip which d claims she's done in 2.5, but i've never done in under 3, so i think she's mistaken. we checked into our hotel and headed directly into town. cha cha cha had turned into a bueno y sanyo, a burrito not to be missed, so i left d and eddie on a bench and went in to order.

when i came out of the burrito shop, d informed me that she'd just run into a person she'd formerly dated, person being the word which threw me for a loop. d dated t briefly, several years back, not exclusively, not seriously, but i'd heard her name mentioned enough times to make me curious. and so, now t is male-identified, though t made no verbal mention of a transition to d during their run in, d felt that the display of facial hair and deepened voice was enough evidence to identify t as male-identified. and after d's initial shock subsided, and she was able to tell me how she could barely speak to t and kept gesturing towards the burrito shop, saying my girlfriend, as if i was, an actual burrito shop, and after my initial shock of jealousy wore off and i was able to ask if he looked hot, and what he's doing here now, and what his girlfriend is studying, and how she identifies herself, and all the rest of the questions i wonder about when in such close proximity to someone trans. i don't know why i'm so enamored with trans folks, the courage, the commitment to identity, the breaking of traditional roles, all of the above. it's an obsession i've always had, a curiosity, an enchantment. it's stuff for another post.

we spent tuesday morning and afternoon hiking the small trail through puffer's pond and a teensy weensy portion of the 35 mile robert frost trail. my good pal and photoblogger, pattyb, inspired me to take some pics of some of the lovely fungi that was in bloom. does fungi bloom?

yes, it appears that fungi do bloom.

we spent the rest of the trip eating delicious things, sandwiches from the black sheep, amazing foccacia grilled cheese and cuban rice/bean/banana dishes from the haymarket, ice cream from herrells. d loved faces and essentials, the wool store and the dog treat shop i lived above. i loved the reminiscing, i love not living there anymore, i love the fresh smell and odd sounds at night, i love the friendly eyes you see from strangers just walking down the block, definitely exaggerated when you have a dog. and eddie, he did pretty well there. enjoyed himself mostly.

what am i doing here?

i think i need to update my 'about me' section.

i keep reading all these other blogs that seem to have a direct purpose, which itches my inadequacy triggers and makes me feel purposeless out here.

and then i remember that it is summer, and i am a teacher, and we do have summers off so this lull in geekteacherly episodes is to be expected during the months of july and august. on that front, i've been muddling my way through some books that should help for the fall, coming up with some entertaining ideas, and formulating a welcome/survey/checklist

or maybe it's that i'm not ready to publicly display all of the things i'd like to out here. for the last 10 years i've been a bit of an internet nomad, and as in reality, i enjoy feeling like i'm settling down a bit, so i'm hesitant to up and move somewhere to establish some type of new anonymity. i'm going to try to embrace this one for a while longer and then make a decision.


a ride that kicked my ass

prospect park southwest humbled me today.

twice i've ridden up this hill without so much as breaking a sweat.

but today, after bringing my car back to the pros to figure out the check engine light mystery, colonel mustard and i broke down mere minutes from home.

i'm somewhere between disabled and dying right now.

and the dog wants a walk.

and i don't think i can.


sleeplessly updating

august is here, which means summer vacation is mostly over.
that's a bummer.

but we do have 25 days until we need to be back in the school buildings, and about 30 until kids arrive. i'm looking forward to meeting my new kids. i'm hoping that their internal filters, sense of decency and morality, and self motivation levels are all set a few notches higher than at my last school. hopefully they'll happily surprise me.

i've been brainstorming some ideas for the upcoming school year. anybody know any middle school teachers in the UK? i'm not sure what they call middle school over there, but it would be in the realm of 11 to 14 year olds. drop me a line if you do, i've got a podcasting/american revolutionary war/global classroom project in mind.

d and i are taking our first vacation ever together. it's only taken me 2 years to get her to agree, but i'm really glad she did. we're headed to my old stomping grounds of western mass next monday and tuesday. i'm pretty psyched to have the opportunity to show her northampton and amherst, the farms of hadley, the back roads of sunderland and belchertown, and maybe head up to deerfield or greenfield for a hike. eddie is accompanying us...poor little guy has an eye infection which we're treating with an antibiotic ointment that he'd prefer we not smear in his eye twice daily. i'm going to check into a multivitamin for him. maybe he needs a little immunebooster.

my car has been doing this finicky occasional refusal to start. it began over the winter and i thought it was cold-related, but it continued into the warm weather. i suspected it had something to do with dampness and/or humidity getting under the hood and causing a disconnect from the battery, or that the battery had some type of leak, or the electrical system was improperly grounded and something was draining it. turns out with my model jeep, the battery terminals are located directly on top of the battery, exposing them to all the air flow that enters through the grill. this causes the terminals to corrode more quickly than most cars. as long as i clean them off every few months the car should start and i can avoid this ridiculous problem that's plagued me since november. baking soda, coca cola, or a wire brush should do the trick. that's my latest installment of cartalk.

so while it's nearing 2am, and i'm wide awake despite having taken xanax earlier, i can likely attribute this to the 3 hour nap that d and i had following some really exhausting gettin it on time. the fatigue from the lex withdrawal is SO worth the fading away of the sexual side effects which have been source of frustration for me. i'll admit that part of my decision to stop taking the lex revolved around curiosity regarding sensitivity, stamina, libido, and getting turned on.

i set up a googlereader today. i often find out about these cool new technologies and procrastinate about using them until it's way too late. but i'm really trying now to stay more up to date so i can show my new students cool tricks this year without having to hear them yawn and say, god ms. a, that's so last year. and stuff. i added all my favorite subscriptions to the reader and now i can read all my blogs in one place. convenient. it even recommends other blogs that i might enjoy. one of them was spot on - nyc educator. hysterical.

my sis is in town for the weekend. i should be seeing her sometime tomorrow or tomorrow night with her boy. she might even be spending the night. my first overnight guests! now - to find a drinking establishment we can all agree upon. the criteria are: must serve a variety of unusual beers. candidates meeting the prefered criteria will receive extra attention: indoor and outdoor space, serves food, casual, walking distance of the slope, not overly crowded, gay friendly, and dog friendly. suggestions are welcome.

time to bond with the neglected cat.



blacking out the friction

i'm settling into this groove, alternating nights fighting this awakedness.

and so it goes.

and i certainly hope it subsides by the end of the month, when my body will require a more consistent sleeping schedule.

the drawback to being a teacher - lack of a yearly sleep pattern.

since i began teaching, summer has been my experiment, 04 brought a return to family and the beach, 05 found me relapsing into old emotional shit, and eventually in black rock city of all places, 06 was the summer of secretly lusting after d while she pretended not to lust after me, 07 saw a mental breakdown, and now 08 is my own early renaissance. i'm starting to feel like myself again, and i recognize this person who stays up late into the night and morning, and i like her.

a few days ago eddie and i had a brief trip to the end of valentino pier where a small, darkened, triple masted schooner sailed silently by me. i watched for a few seconds, appreciating its simplicity and darkness on the water before the pirate urge began its tickle. a number of years ago i was making preparations to learn the art of sailing by doing. i planned to board a vessel and not get off until i could sail it. i wanted to be a crew member, a deckhand, a part of something that left little to nothing in its wake. i wanted to flee.

for as long as i can remember, when life gets unbearable, i prepare to flee.

"i think that it's brainless to assume that making changes to your window's view will give a new perspective. "

i envy people who are able to spend the majority of their headspace in the present. i've never been a live for the moment person, more like a harp on the past or agonize over the future type. how many times have i wished i could just jump 3 months, 1 year, 10 years into the future just to catch a glimpse of where i might end up.

the reality is that i'm not surprised, i'm not disappointed, i'm just thankful to be where i am. i like my little corner of brooklyn. i love my life with d. i love having a dog. i like teaching and working with technology. i'm glad to have these things to enjoy. it makes me feel like all those years of expecting the worst but hoping for the best might not have been the worst philosophy.

leo asked me if my queer identity might have anything to do with my teens being so disgustingly difficult, and vice versa. if it did, i wasn't yet aware. i knew i valued the closeness i could feel with girls way more than what i could have with boys. but i also knew i was expected to be interested in boys, and obliged that expectation. i banked on the assumption that i just hadn't found a good guy yet. i generalized that all guys were assholes, stupid, only interested in sex, drugs, and video games. in high school i had a definite type of guy i was interested in. long hair, delicate features, rail thin, offbeat characters. think dave pirner or a very young robert plant. boys who looked like girls. but i wasn't thinking about it that way back then. i just knew what i liked. which probably led me to identify as bi for so long in college. i felt i was trying out different boys. seeking that connection that never came. it wasn't until i fell in love with my best friend that i put it together, girls were what made sense for me. and still, i continued to act promiscuously with boys, because it was just so fucking hard to meet girls. my dating strategies left a lot to be desired.

i met d after i'd been completely single for 6 years. my last hetero relationship had fallen apart, my entire life needed rebuilding, and i'd spent those 6 years reinstituting me. 6 years is a long time. i had been on the verge of giving up. something in her sparkled and challenged me. something in her tugged at me and i couldn't ignore it. she asked me to have a date with her and i declined. two months later i made my move. it was the smartest one i made in years.