Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I Swear, It Has Taken on a Life of Its Own Now

The saga continues. (Yes, my hair! Nothing else will matter until I can stop perseverating over it.)

Last night, I took a shower and began the onerous business of futzing around with it, trying to do something to make it so that I could walk into the high school building and not feel like I was Medusa, or Regan from The Exorcist with my head spinning around, drawing attention to The Bad Haircut practically announcing itself on my head. I finally gave up and hoped for the best in the morning, deciding that if worse came to worst, I would shove it behind my ears and call it a style.

Oh. My. GOD. The exact minute I arrived at my classroom door a student sang, "I like your hair, Mrs. D.!" I muttered "Thanks" and hurried into my room, shutting the door behind me. I don't even know who it was. The rest of the day was a constant litany of: Did you cut your hair? I like your hair! You got a haircut, didn't you? Your hair looks cute! Oh, your hair is cut! Someone got a haircut over the weekend! and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. Did it matter that I said, "Thank you for your kind compliments, but I'm really unhappy. I'd rather not talk about it. Let's get to work." No. They had to wrench the life out of it. Oh, why? It's cute. Who did it? Did you go someplace new? Did you tell the stylist? And on and on and on and on and on and on and on. Oh. My. GOD. What part of my clearly articulated sentence "I don't want to talk about it" did they not understand? Sigh. I know. They were trying to be sweet. They were. I thanked them, but repeated that it was not a topic I wanted to discuss any longer and that we had real work to do.

But I had to endure this five times today. Not counting staff encounters in the lounge. I know--it's me. It's all me. They were all nice. Or is everyone just incredibly good at lying? >gasp<


As soon as was humanly possible, I lit out of school early and drove like a maniac back to the salon. I had called earlier (7:45 AM!!!) and had practically sobbed on the phone. Yes! I could be recut at 2. Something to live for! I couldn't shoo my 7th period class out the door fast enough! I walked into the salon and my stylist was calm and apologetic. She didn't even cringe, even at the recut attempts of my husband. Little by little, we snipped and combed and somehow came out with something I can live with until it grows back out. At least it looks like it's supposed to be something.

Today. God, I hope it still looks like that something tomorrow. If not, I will have to be sedated. Heavily and perhaps for an extended period of time.

Vanity, thy name is Nance.

Monday, May 29, 2006

What NOT to Do when You're Pre-Menopausal and on a Particularly Bad Run of Hormonally-Induced Attitude

Okay, so...been feeling down, negative, crappy lately. (Variety of reasons; not gonna bore ya, yadda yadda yadda.) Not finding the Road Out of It. Really frustrated. Skip to Saturday. Have a hair appointment. Find myself ready to leave about 2o minutes early. 'No problem,' I think. 'I'll look at the hairstyle books and maybe find something new. Maybe that's what I need!' Get there and the place is all but empty; I'm the last appointment of a shortened holiday weekend schedule. I confide in my stylist that I've been in a funk lately--possibly hormone-induced--and that I might be, might be looking to do something a little different. I've been feeling down, crabby, etc.

"I know how you feel!" she cries out. "I have been exactly the same way! I'm ready to jump out of my skin lately." We look at a book of hairstyles together while she readies her station and gets out a cape for me. I find something kind of choppy and cute, but I think it's too short. My stylist says we won't go that short, but we will do something like it.

It's over before I know it.

She whips me around and I look in the mirror. I try to be brave because she is excited and keeps talking about all the cool techniques she got to use. Something called "slithering" is all I remember. Because all I can think about is the scene in Little Women (the book, not the movie, of course) where Jo takes off her bonnet and Marmee says "Oh Jo! Your hair. Your one beauty!" At least half of the hair from my head is now on the floor. I think of the word "crestfallen"--literally. I think, 'Why didn't I at least wait until school was out so that I could fool around with it all day for a week if necessary to figure out what the hell to do with it?' I think, 'Why did I come here in a mood like this? I know better.' I think, 'What do I tell her? That she needs to fix it somehow? There's nothing left to fix, unless she shaves me bald.' My stylist says, "It looks really cool. You're going to love it!" I say, "It's so different right now. I have to get used to it." And I get out of the chair and try to forget about it. Hah. As if.

Yesterday I tried to fix it like the book's picture. We had 87 degrees and high humidity, and everyone's hair looked like crap. Today, I decided to do what most people do with a new hairstyle: fix it like my old hairstyle. It looked horrid. Finally, my husband couldn't take it any longer. He got out his scissors and said, "Tell me what to do." We stood in front of the bathroom mirror, and in between me pointing and him recombing, he recut my hair for me. I'm not sure what it needed, but I was damn sure what it didn't need. And so we cut those parts off.

Tonight, I'll be rewashing and restyling my hair as many times as necessary until I get to something I can live with. Because I have to face the world's harshest critics at 7:45 AM tomorrow: high school girls. It's not that I care what they think. I don't. I only care what I think. I just don't care to hear about what they think, or hear about what they are trying to pretend that they think. See? And then, for the rest of the summer, I won't be getting any more haircuts. I won't need any. I'll be growing out the one I just got.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

DoN Challenge: You Be the Teacher!

Okay, so here's a conundrum for all of you in the "real world", and by that term, I mean the world outside the confines of education. Because, you know, it's different here on The Inside. On The Inside, all logic is suspended and all laws of physics, science, and everything else that defines normalcy is/are just plain up for grabs.

Here goes. Today, I handed back my sophomore honors students' essays over The Catcher in the Rye. They had had three days in class to work on them, confer with me, peer conference, yadda yadda yadda. The essays, they knew, had a significant impact on their 4th quarter grades. Many students were disappointed in the grade they earned on the paper. After they had read the extensive comments I made on the papers, the mutterings began. Without fail in each class, the following plaintive cry comes to me: "But I worked really hard on this! I spent hours! And I typed it! How could I have done so bad on it?"

Here is your question: What is the proper response to this? No, really. Keep in mind that, almost without exception, this is coming from a student that never came to my desk to ask for any assistance. That this student had three days in class to take advantage of my individual assistance. That this student was shown a model of how to do this essay--each paragraph, the intro, the conclusion, the citations. That this student truly believes with all his/her heart that he/she "worked hard" on it. That to them TIME, no matter how it is spent, is the measuring stick here, not the product. And that, somehow, I am supposed to know how much time was spent and figure it in, regardless of the product of said time. And--this is critical--that this is an honors student who really doesn't want to hear the answer to this question unless it is "You didn't. I made a mistake. You really got an A."

I hate any essay return day. It is excruciating. It is either the best day in the life of a student or the worst. It is Drama All Over The Place. And the aftermath is just as bad. My school email inbox and voice mail will be flooded with Honors Parents, anxious about the nemesis of every teacher, Extra Credit. "Can Biff do a 17-page book report on War and Peace by Friday for Extra Credit?" "Can Buffy do a 65 slide multimedia extravaganza on The Life Of J.D. Salinger, including an Original Song tonight and present it to you after school tomorrow for Extra Credit?" Or worse: "Can Belvedeere rewrite his paper with corrections? He was confused and upset because we had to have his iguana put to sleep and I just know it affected him." AAARRRGGGHHHHHH. And at least one or two of them will demand a conference with me and the principal. Every end of the school year is fraught with this shit and I hate it.

So, you play teacher in the comments. Give me the perfect spiel. I'll edit the post and tell you what I usually say. I sure hope your ideas are better. At the very least, give me something to hang onto to get me through till June 7.

It can't be summer soon enough.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Of Shredders and Microfilming, Yet not about Being a Spy, Darnit!

Believe it or not, one of the worst jobs around my house is manning the shredder. As with most of our distasteful household tasks, we ignore it and let it become even more horrific; in this case, papers had piled up, cascaded down, and formed a small landfill. With my husband and the boys doing outdoor chores in the brisk and decidedly un-springlike weather, the task fell to me, the one practically upholstered in fleece and cowering indoors, surreptitiously inching the thermostat ever higher.

Shredding documents really is a crappy job. You can't watch t.v. and do it because the shredder is loud, you have to pay attention while feeding in the papers, and at my house, there is no t.v. in the room where the shredder is anyway. Oh, sure--I could move the whole operation into the living room, but I'd need a wheelbarrow, an extension cord, and I'd have to make too many trips.

Anyway, there were about 3 months worth of credit card and health insurance statements, restaurant and department store receipts, and other documents that contained numbers far too prone to identity theft to just chuck unmauled into the regular trash. I swear, it was like A Brief History of The Family of Nance, circa March thru May, 2006: What They Bought, What They Suffered From, Where They Ate and What They Ordered, etc. Very instructive. And very helpful to an identity thief.

It reminded me of my first job way back in 1977 when I was a bank teller. I was a "floater", which meant that I traveled from branch to branch, filling in for people on vacation. If no one was on vacation one week, I had to report to the main office and microfilm records. What a lousy job that was. Very reminiscent of manning my home shredder, but multiplied by fifty. Here's how it went: I went down into the creepy basement where they had set up an industrial microfilm machine. It was about the size of a stove. When it was on, it was enormously loud. You couldn't hear a thing. Someone could stand next to you and shout, and you wouldn't hear them. I had a floor-to-ceiling bank of shelves next to me full of drawers. Each drawer was full of bank slips: deposits, withdrawals, loan and mortgage payments. The drawers were about the dimension of a dollar bill, but 24" deep. I had to microfilm all of these documents by feeding in a stack at a time. That's all I did for 8 hours a day. It was ridiculous. I sat on this horrid old stool that they dug up for me, under a bare bulb. It was like a scene out of a 20th century Dickens parody.

Here's the thing: All of those bank documents...they were the originals! They had signatures, account numbers, and they were all still active. I was an 18-year old kid. I could have done almost anything with those. This was before computers, but I could have taken an account number to another branch and cleaned that sucker out. I had access. But I never even considered it. Apparently, neither did they. Who ever heard of identity theft 29 years ago, either? And...I was responsible for microfilming all of those documents. And changing the film in the machine. I had no idea if I was doing it right or accidentally exposing the film. No one ever even checked on me. Sometimes I wonder if anything ever even made it onto that film, or if anyone ever asked for proof of their payment on that 1977 Chevy Monte Carlo.

Every once in a while, I would think about writing something funny or evil on the back of one of those payment slips and feed it through the microfilmer. But I never did. I was so serious and virtuous back then. And easily cowed by authority.

Boy. Things have changed.

Monday, May 15, 2006

When the Bough Breaks...

When I was little, I'd have these moments where I'd get really upset and angry at the same time and feel like crap. I didn't know if I wanted to cry or scream. I couldn't decide if I wanted to wreck my bike by riding straight into the closed garage door and jumping off at the last minute or if it would feel better to just pull a few overripe tomatoes off the plants at the back of the garage and squeeze them as hard as I could while yelling. Most of the time, I'd just climb up into the tree in the front yard and sit among the leaves and see if I needed to cry about it or think about it or both. I'd sit there and try to figure out exactly where it was all coming from and then, more importantly, exactly what I was going to do about it. If, that is, there was something I could do about it.

Eventually, I'd get it figured out and come down. A little tear-streaked, perhaps. A little tired, perhaps. Once in a while hungry and thirsty, both for food and companionship. Sometimes, I would be moody and quiet; sometimes, lighter and happier than I'd been in days, as if I'd left whatever burdened me up among the branches.

I find myself metaphorically up that tree these days. So much to think about, so many cares and woes. And there are the small things, too, that pester and poke: relentless rain, slow Spring, lost sleep, disengaged students, toxic people, quarreling kids, and my own guilt that these petty provocations can get to me in the face of other people's greater challenges. And the weary feeling that I just might 'run out' before the school year does.

So I'm up here amongst the branches, sorting it all out as best I can. I gotta tell ya, it was easier when I was eight. (But at least the latest polls are helping.*) I'll keep remembering that maybe part of it will resolve itself on June 7th when school is out; perhaps things will also look better when I get a bit more sleep. Let's hope so. In the meantime, stuff looks a little bleak...from way up here.

*Harris Poll , Newsweek Poll, AP-Ipsos Poll, USA Today Poll <------He's going LOWER!!!!!!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Keepin' It Free..for You and Me!

Save the Internet: Click here
Internet providers such as AT&T and Verizon are right now lobbying Congress with the specific intent to gut Network Neutrality, the Internet's First Amendment and the key to fundamental Internet freedom. Network Neutrality prevents AT&T from choosing which websites open most easily and readily for users based upon which site pays the ISPs more. So Amazon doesn't have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to work faster or more properly on your computer.

Many members of Congress take campaign contributions from these companies, and they don't think the public are paying attention to this issue. We're being distracted by mounting casualties in Iraq, high gasoline prices, and the usual bickering in D. C. Let's show them we're smarter and more aware than they think - please click the icon above and sign this petition today. Please preserve the freedom of our internet.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Who Are These People and Why Are They Living in My House?

Saturday was a nightmare and it was our own damn fault. We had put off going to the grocery store so long that we were out of everything needed to sustain life except Heinz ketchup, soft margarine, and olive oil. As I began helping to put all the groceries away, it hit me.

I share my home with some very objectionable people. People with whom I have very little in common. People who, were I not related to them, I probably would not choose to spend much time with. Individuals who, if I had not lived through and witnessed their bodies being propelled forcibly from my own, I would deny had any genetic material in common with my own. And one person in particular who, if he had not the official document to prove it, I would--at times--not believe I had chosen to spend the rest of my life with.

Let me explain, and start with the refrigerator to do so. "My" items, such as chevre, capers, English blackcurrant preserves, and homemade basil pesto jostle for space amid "their" Velveeta, kosher spears, gallon jug of Hershey's syrup, and salsa. I can hardly get past the quart of neon Kool-Aid to get my coffee creamer. And when I go to the basement refrigerator, the array of beers is sometimes staggering now that Jared is 21. Regardless of this, my husband purchased a 12-pack of Killian's Red. I said, "There is plenty of beer in the basement already."

And that was my mistake. At this, he assumed a professorial stance and looked at me pityingly. He sighed. "Nance," he said in a softly instructional tone, "the Coors Light is my 'emergency beer.' It is in cans and is for you to cook with and for me to drink should I run out of the other beer. The Trinity Oatmeal Stout is my 'trial run experimental beer' and is almost gone. I got it to see if I liked it, and I drink it every once in a while to decide. The Miller Light is Jared's beer that he got with his own money, and I don't drink that. Killian's is my 'regular beer'. I'm almost out. So I need more. So I'm getting it. See now?" Aaaarrrggghhhh.

These people! They drive my car and when I get into it, the CD player blares their music. Or what passes for "music", because it's nothing I'd call music. It's more like the soundtrack of tribal thuggery. There's no melody, nothing uplifting or lyrical, just nonstop verbiage. If I want to feel harangued and nagged at, I'll call my mother and tell her some things I did when I was away at college. IF, that is, I can even understand any words at all--Sam usually has the bass line turned up so far that what comes out of what's left of the speakers is a fuzzy, blurred boom that is not only mercifully indecipherable, it immediately gives me a jolting arrhythmia. At the other end of the spectrum and almost as frightening is my husband who, at this later stage in our marriage, has suddenly developed a fondness for--of all things--country music. His job involves long hours of driving from job to job, and he finds country music relaxing. He likes the fact that the songs tell a story. (I guess the fact that they all tell the same three stories doesn't bother him.) When I discovered this horrifying fact about his newfound musical taste and added it to the fact that he drives a small truck for his construction supervising job, I sat him down immediately. "Promise me right this minute," I begged him, "that you are not now, nor have you ever been, nor will you ever be a Republican!" He assured me that he isn't, wasn't, and wouldn't be. And yes, I extracted an oath that he would never, ever listen to Toby Keith. Whew!

Aliens! They mess up my house and don't even care! Cat vomit is invisible to them all! Cat hair on the draperies does not bother any one of them, only me! They only vacuum if I ask them. They only empty wastebaskets if I tell them. Sometimes I play a game. I leave the same glass or empty Pepsi can on the bookshelf for days and days and days. I can outlast them, I think. I will wait and see how long it will take before someone finally takes it to the sink or the recycling. But they win! They always win! I self-destruct before them! Take this damn glass or Pepsi can to the kitchen! I scream insanely, instantly at DefCon 5. Do you know how many days it has sat there? Eleventy billion and ten! Am I the only one who can take a drinking vessel to the kitchen?!?!?!? They all turn and look at me. They are patient and kind and a little bit sad. "Wow," they say or think, "all you had to do was say something the first day."

I am no Martha Stewart. I am just a person, really. I eat Marshmallow Fluff! I like those neon orange cheese cracker sandwiches with the peanut butter in them. I don't listen to classical music. I say the word "fuck" way too often--just ask my husband. But really--these people who live in my house...they could use some shaping up.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Separated at Birth: The Sporty Edition!

The Cleveland Cavaliers are in the NBA playoffs; The Cleveland Indians are playing baseball. I have 2 sons and a husband in command of the television, so it's Sports Central at our house. There's nothing else on anyway. I've been noticing a few striking resemblances. Let's see what you think:

That's Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards on the left, and Jesse L. Martin of Law & Order on the right. Jessie L. was also in Rent.

Now for another one, this time from the Cleveland Indians baseball team. Take a look now at Jai Rodriguez on the left--he's the Culture Vulture from Bravo's show Queer Eye for the StraightGuy. And his twin from the Indians is on the right, catcher Victor Martinez.

Try to overlook the airbrushing in Jai's picture; he's such a vanity fairy! (And I have no idea who the little guy is. I'm just too lazy to crop him out. But he's cute.)

And then there's this one--also from the Cleveland Indians. On the left is lovable animated character Shrek; his sports doppelganger, Travis Hafner, the Indians' designated hitter, is on the right.

Travis even has a similar nickname, "Pronk". Very Shrek-y. Move those ears up and color Travis a bit green...do you see it? !!!!!

Finally, a really creepy one. On the left we have NBA commentator Hubie Brown, and on the right, well...don't you dare try to tell me that you haven't thought it yourself!
(Has anyone ever checked Ol' Hubie for a pulse lately? Seriously, the man looks like he's already been pickled and stuffed. Yikes.)

I've been touting the LeBron and Fantasia Barrino (American Idol) "Separated at Birth" phenomenon for a year now. I'm sure you don't really need to see it, do you? Oh, okay.
(Fantasia is the one with the cleavage.)

Geeze. This post took me forever. I hope you appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I think you should do a cheer for me. Right now.


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