Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WNBP: Not What You'd Expect

OK.  I missed a week.  This, of course, represents a most unforgivable breach of Blogging Trust and I don't suppose for a minute that you'd consider forgiving me without at least a little of the dirty looking and finger waving.  Not a problem.  I deserve it.

I'm going to go ahead and hit you with a few bullet points while I wait out the shame.  Perhaps if I am entertaining enough, things will settle down more quickly.

*Yes.  I am fully aware of the fact that people have lives and that the petty goings on of one lone blogger doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this cold, cold world.

*It's just that I pretty much base most of my self esteem in the belief that the world awaits my every word with bated breath.

*I like to think that everyone was out there all worried about how I might be trapped in a snow bank last Wednesday because I live in the wilds of Maine and March is a pretty harsh month in these here parts.

*The reality is that I was trapped in a classroom during an 85 degree day and that the stifling heat didn't even dissipate once the sun went down and Parent/Teacher Conferences were in full swing.

*I didn't even have any conferences.  I was just stuck at school until 8:00 with only Mrs. Secretary Who Sits At The Back Desk to keep me company.

*Which isn't so bad because MSWSATBD is a hoot.

*I finally completed my computer set up here at the manse.  Got me a shiny new monitor and now I can blog like a real person rather than using the television as my screen!

*Well...mostly I can blog like a real person.  When the cats let me.  Apparently the comfy chair I set up and the warmly glowing screen is like a magnet for cats.

*Da Boyz take turns hogging the space.  And someone has been using the keyboard to enter search terms when I'm not looking.

*The last time I came back to the computer, the letter "r" was cryptically displayed.

*I do not know which feline was doing the searching nor do I know what he was looking for.




*It is all kind of disconcerting...

*And speaking of disturbing, here is a little snippet from last week that might help define for you just how far my life has devolved.  And why blogging just couldn't be expected of me.

The Time:  Early Afternoon

The Place:  A stifling middle school classroom where our beloved Ms. Sheep has reached her limit with trying to educate unresponsive and unapologetically disruptive students on a March day that feels like late June.

Ms Sheep (gesticulating wildly and sweating profusely as she has been doing for at least a full five minutes while her class looks on in utter disbelief):  ...and THAT is why I have had it with trying to educate you unresponsive and unapologetically disruptive students!  Now I am going to share with you why it is a bad thing to try the patience of a middle aged woman during a March heat wave!!!

(Suddenly, MS is struck dumb.  She freezes in place as a small hand begins rhythmically scratching her back and a youthful voice croons at her soothingly. She turns her head only enough to catch sight of Little Einstein who has somehow managed to sneak up behind her during the tirade)

LE:  There you goooooo.  It's Okaaaaaay.  You're all riiiiight...  Shhhhhh.....

MS:  ?????

LE:  (smugly)  And there you go.  Works every time.  The old people love this.

MS:  (begins to sputter uncontrollably)

LE:  (blithely unaware that his life is rapidly reaching the end point)  No, really.  One time, I did it to my grandmother and she fell right over!

MS: (unable to speak due to the pressure created by the expanding blood vessels in her brain)

LE:  And my 41 year old grandpa likes it, too!!

*There will be no further discussion regarding this matter.  I am just telling you about it so you will know of my trials.

*The Cheerful Teaching Assistant has been laughing herself sick over the whole sorry affair for a week straight.

*I'm not sure if I am more concerned about The Old Lady Issues or the fact that I let Little Einstein sneak up on me unexpectedly like that...

*A great wrong was done unto me at work recently.

*Not the aforementioned Old Person Scratching.  Something more along the lines of an administrative screw up.

*That was bad, but now people have to be nice to me.

*The stress situation at school has reached critical levels as the restructuring of the district rolls forward.

*Lots of people don't know where they are going yet.  They might stay put.  They might move to the high school.  They might have to change grade levels or subjects.  Everyone is all a-flutter as they await either their own fate or that of their peers.

*I don't know if it is the Be Nice To Ms. Sheep Protocol or just the luck of the draw, but I get to choose between three job sites and positions.

*For the record, they are not the sorts of jobs most people actually want, but that is sort of the nature of my career.

*Being told I could choose was unexpected.  Highly so.  I don't know of anyone else who gets to do that.

*Have to choose by Friday.  Little Einstein thinks I should stay with him.

*Or, as he put it, "Well, you either get Loud Kid or Loud Kids Who Smell Bad.  Seems kind of obvious to me..."

*Still not sure, but I promise to factor in the smell.

*In between bouts of laughing at me, The Cheerful Teaching Assistant has been trying to get me to read a book.  I didn't think it was going to be my cuppa, but she has pretty good taste and I was bored so I figured I'd give it a go.

*Lady of Devices: A steampunk adventure novel was brilliant!

*Even thought it had neither zombies nor werewolves...

*I downloaded Her Own Devices: A steampunk adventure novel immediately!!!

*With those complete, I felt ready to finally tackle Timeless (The Parasol Protectorate, No. 5).  Why I've been putting that off, I don't know.  I love this series.  It is smartly written and hysterically funny.

*Although I hear tell it is the last and that makes me sad.  

*One expects this sort of thing to continue forever and ever, after all.

*Half the characters are werewolves and the other half are vampires and only a quarter of the third half is even mortal at all.  It would seem to me that this would lend itself to a series that lasted longer.

*Especially with all that crazy math involved!

*Maybe I shouldn't take the job at the high school now that I think of it.  They might have higher expectations with regard to the math instruction.  

Well, I see by the clock on the wall and the gathering of felines that my time on the computer is just about up.  I only get about an hour and then I have to give up my chair.  I suppose I should see about some dinner and getting some clothing ready for tomorrow's day of teaching.  The weather seems to have turned towards something more "expected" and snow is falling randomly so it will probably take me a while to sort through the t-shirts and sandals before I find something appropriate.  I need to get back on track here.

And I promise to be more on top of the expected Wednesday Night Bullet Posts in the future!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WNBP: Change Is Healthy. Or So They Tell Me...

Well here we are.  It's another Wednesday night and I am recovering from the day to day grind known as my career choice.  I shouldn't complain. I bought the ticket to this ride and it certainly does have its interesting moments. Besides, if I didn't have somewhere to go during the day, I'd just be sitting around the manse getting bossed around by the cats and that is certainly no way to live, now is it?

Of course, I'd also be eating bon bons and lording it over everyone that I am the only on with actual  thumbs, but I guess that might have some drawbacks as well.

Let's take a look at this week's highlights via the Wednesday Night Bullet Post.

*The weather has taken a most definite turn lately.

*I don't know how I feel about 74 degree days in early March.

*On one hand it is rather nice.

*On the other, it smacks of an impending apocalypse and that never seems to work out well.

*It also generally leads to a surprise snow storm right around the time you put away your winter woollies and you end up shoveling out your car wearing a tube top.

*And no one wants to see that...

*I decided to try eating dinner at the table last night.

*I figured that, after a quarter century of dining whilst slumped on the sofa, it was time for a change.

*I was surrounded by cats within minutes.  About a billion of 'em.  All thrilled to discover a large, flat surface upon which to perch as they eyed my food.

*Now it's back to the couch where I can sit hunched over my bowl of stew like a prisoner at chow time.

*It's where I belong.

*The day before they sent us off for winter break, the superintendent fired off an email for our general amusement.

*Changes.  Big ones.  The sweeping kind.

*I won't go into detail because that would bore you into a coma and probably cause you to question the very fabric of our reality.

*But it boils down to overcrowding at the primary schools which requires moving students to other buildings and causing overflows that lead to more students moving until, finally, the 8th grade ends up at the high school.

*And that WAS the less complicated version.

*This isn't a bad thing.  There are about nine million good things that will come out of this.

*But change doesn't always go over well, especially in established systems.

*I, of course, am not an established system.  I move all the time.  It's the nature of the job.  I follow the population of students who need my services.

*For a long time now, I have been an island of serenity in a sea of angst-ridden despair.

*Translation:  I don't care where I go as long as they keep paying me.  Everyone else is freaking out.

*Now I have to go to at least one meeting per week where I and my colleagues are spoken to soothingly and where they tell us that we shouldn't worry.

*Then they tell us that the way they thought they were going to do this wasn't going to work at all and that we should just sit tight until a firm plan for the transition is in place.

*Then everyone heads off to freak out some more as the "plans" become ever more convoluted.

*Today I went to a meeting where the entire special education department was displaced (on paper) due to a school board decision that no one knew about and which could mean I will be teaching my class in a small van on the football field come September.

*And the freak-outs continue...

*As I said to my director once the meeting was over, "Is someone going to tell me where to park my car before the first bell rings next year?  That is all I ask, really.  Just a little heads up."

*I have taught the following grades since arriving in the school district: Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth.

*Just tell me which school, preferably sometime before opening day.

*I'll figure the rest out from there.

*She thanked me for my flexibility.

*And said that, if I played my cards right, I might end up in the abandoned science lab with the gas taps that still work if you jiggle the handles right.


*Sarcasm is generally lost on administrators in times of crisis.  That is pretty much an unchanging law.

*And who can blame them what with all the freaking out and whatnot?

*My reading situation has remained unchanged.  Still enjoying some oldies, but goodies.

*Well...not so much old as "stuff I've read before but liked and it is saving me some money while I pay off the new computer."

*Went back to visit with my friend. Felix Castor.

*The Devil You Know

*Fantastic series.  Really well done.

*And, in bigger news, I finally managed to reach the end of 11/22/63: A Novel.

*This is a long one and the audio version was really the best choice for me.

*Exceptionally well read if you aren't bothered by the narrator's tendency to substitute a Massachusetts accent for a Maine one.

*Which is really only problem if you can tell the difference and, honestly, how many truly can?

*It was thirty hours well invested and made the daily commute somewhat less of a drag.

*I was off Stephen King for a while.  He's a self-admitted Purge Through Prose kind of guy.

*And he really did seem to be working out a lot of his issues in print for a while there.

*That isn't a bad thing.  It is, in fact, a very good thing for both the writing and the reader.

*It just got kind of intense for me and I needed to walk away.

*But I think I'm ready to dive back in so I downloaded the audio version of Dreamcatcher.

*Not quite as well-narrated, but still quite enjoyable.  At least as far as I've gotten.  

And there goes the dinner timer!  Apologies for the abrupt departure, but the buzzer waits for no man (or Sheepie).  I think I'll wrap this up and go see how my chicken is doing.  Might just be time to curl up on the sofa with my meal and dream of the day when I know where I work and sometimes eat sitting upright like the humans do.

It could happen, right?  If not, I've still got my prison-hunch dinners to look forward to and lots of "interesting" changes to keep me entertained.


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

WNBP: Missing Vacations And Snow Days

This has been a stupidly busy week.  It is only Wednesday and I already miss those halcyon days of vacation, back when all I had to do was loll about and my only worry was possible bedsores by noon.

Yeah...I am probably one of those people who might require a check-in now and again.  It is entirely possible that I have lost touch with the concept of movement.  One day I could easily find myself incapable of getting off the sofa due to severe loss of muscle tone.  Or the will to find a reason to do so.

Here's your weekly version of The Wednesday Night Bullet Post.  On the plus side, that gives me a reason to get up.  I don't have the laptop anymore.  Now I gotta go to the keyboard...

*Last week, I was predicting a snow day.

*Got it.

*There was just enough snow to make it worth calling off school.

*I'm lying.  There was a lot of snow.  A stupid amount of snow.  It was the kind of storm that makes people want to compare notes afterwards.

*As in, "I had so much snow on my car that I gave up trying to move it and just decided to let the plows run into it like any other snowbank.

*I didn't do that.  But I gave it some serious thought.

*This week, I am sweating in my classroom due to the 60 degree temps and the inability to shut off the heat in that section of the building.

*Too weird...

*And not something I want to contemplate for too long.  I have Parent/Teacher Conferences tomorrow night and the idea of being trapped in my own personal sauna for 11 hours is something of a buzz kill.

*Might get confused tomorrow morning and think I am on vacation again just to avoid it.

*Don't be fooled by this cat.  He looks cute.  I know I've said it before, but people just won't take heed.

They just look at him and say, "Awwwww!"

*He is, in fact, The Naughtiest Kitty In The Whole Wide World and can frequently be found dangling from The Very Expensive But Now Tattered Drapes whilst simultaneously nibbling on a spider plant.

*No.  That situation does not seem to have gotten any better.  Thanks for asking.

*I have been making steady progress on 11/22/63: A Novel since school started back up.

*That is a 30+ hour audio book if I remember the stats correctly.  One does not simply whiz through that much audio.

*It's good.  Very good.  But it is something of a commitment.  One needs to be very secure in one's relationship with this novel.

*Or be trapped in a car for a couple of hours per day.  That works, too...

*Otherwise, I'm reading some old stuff.

*Visiting with my favorite zombie PI, Matt Richter.

*Currently re-enjoying Dark War: A Matt Richter Novel (Matt Richter Novels)

*These are an almost blatant ripoff of the Nightside series, except that they maybe kind of aren't.

*What can I say?  Maybe they are an homage....

*I don't care either way.  They are fun and dark and keep me from suddenly realizing that the Very Complicated Kitty is trying to eat the printer.

*I know that seems random, but I just looked down while I was typing to see the VCK chewing on the paper tray and I just can't seem to process that visual in any way that makes sense.

*One cat is eating the plants.  The other is eating my printer.

*This was not the life I envisioned for myself when I was a wee, little Sheepie.

*Ballerina/Lawyer/Super-Spy, yes.

*Middle aged woman living with cats who are literally eating her out of house and home?  No.

*Don't even ask what happened to my favorite set of size 2 sock needles over vacation.  It wasn't pretty and I think it might have been a team effort.

*Busy weekend.  I was off helping to score tests for the Maine Academic Decathlon.

*I've done this for about a billion years now and it is always rewarding.  Very tiring, too.

*Which is weird because it isn't exactly a physical endeavor.

*I get a t-shirt.  I like activities that result in t-shirts.

*Plus, I get to see my niece-by-proxy and that is always fun.  

*Except for the part where she keeps growing up on me.  I swear to you that she is only three.

*She tells me that she is going to be in 7th grade next year, but I highly doubt that.  I think she is confused.

*I am not that old.

*Three works for me.

*You don't tell a woman with destructive cats and a marked lack of vacation days in her life that she is aging like that.  You ease into it.  Say, over a period of years.

*Perhaps even decades.  Or don't even mention it at all.

*I don't normally have many girls in my class.  This year, I have two.

*The Siren (who lures the boys to their ultimate doom with her irresistible song) was cranky today.

*Also grouchy.  And achy.  And impossible to reason with.  And unwilling to stop sharing how unhappy she was with anyone who crossed her path.

*I finally sent her to the nurse for ibuprofen and then informed her that she was to eat chocolate when she got home.  

"I don't care in what form.  You can lick the almost empty packets of cocoa mix if that's what it takes.  Just get some into your system before one of us kills the other!!"

*She looked at me thoughtfully and, without missing a beat, said, "I've got Nutella.  I should be OK."

*Then we laughed and laughed and talked about desserts and all the boys edged their chairs away from us with looks of abject horror pasted upon their pale faces.

*They probably miss vacation, too.  But I lack sympathy.

Well, that should about do it for this week.  We had a staff meeting after school today and Mr. Assistant Principal directed us to get lots of rest tonight.  I am not one to ignore a direct order, especially one that allows me to rest.  I am good at that.  I'm pretty sure he wanted us to look all bright eyed and bushy tailed for conferences tomorrow, but I still take it as a directive to loll on the couch.

It's a long time before the next vacation, after all.