Sunday, February 25, 2007

By the way

I'm using my tax refund to get back into Pure Romance. I figure that this way, I'll be spending it on something will actually, in turn, bring more money in, which I need for various medical bills and dental work (specifically a couple of crowns, which are still really expensive even WITH insurance). And, if all goes well, then THIS could be my summer job. I sure made enough before, and since I'll be able to devote myself to it full time over the summer, I should be able to pull in at LEAST a party or two a week. I make about as much that way as I would doing like a full 20 hours a week at your typical retail place (I was only going to work part time over the summer, since I'll still have my full teaching paycheck coming in).

Renee, if you still have some of those HGP letters, fliers, etc, I'll need those again. Thanks!
Nice guys don't always finish last

On Valentine's Day, I had a first date with a guy named Dave. I had a great time, and how could I not? He cooked me dinner (filet mignon), had the chef at his golf club make chocolate-covered, he was a very funny, very sweet guy. Oh, and did I mention that he's successful? He's the superintendent at a golf club in Naples; in fact, he was just made a finalist for Golf Club Digest's superintendent of the year. (Pretty amazing, huh?) We hung out a couple more times after that, and by Sunday, it was obvious that he was really into me. I should have been on cloud nine, right?

If you said "right," then you obviously have not been reading this blog for very long (or you just haven't been paying attention). That would be too easy, people! Dave was a nice, sweet, sincere, caring guy. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT TO DO WITH A GUY LIKE THAT. I'm not used to that shit. If you know me at all, you know that I talk about wanting to find a great guy and settle down, but as soon as one comes along, I lose interest--or, more to the point, get scared. See, it's easy to date the jerks. It's safer. Yes, your heart will inevitably get trampled on, but at least there's no real risk of the TRULY scary part--finding someone you could really be with and start a future with. Someone who might actually be able to MAKE your dreams come true. To me, there's nothing scarier than that. Because that, you see, is when you actually let down your guard and let someone in. That's when you have to let them see the real you. Which is why I've been pushing guys away for years. And the NICE ones, with no drama or issues, the ones who treat me nicely? Pshaw. Not interested. If there's anything I've learned over the years, it's that RELATIONSHIPS NEED DRAMA.

So, Dave comes along and for the first few dates, I wasn't sure what to make of him. I mean, I loved hanging out with him, but he was just so NICE, and so sweet, and sometimes I wanted to hit him over the head and tell him to grow some balls. He'd say something romantic and I'd get uncomfortable. It got to the point (as many of you know via various emails) that I was about ready to break it off. "He's awesome and I have so much fun with him," I said, "but he's so NICE. So BLAH. I don't think there are any sparks."

As it turns out, there are. They're just a different kind of sparks. The kind that comes from slowly getting to know someone, the kind that develop as you get to see new parts of their personality, a little at a time. The kind that come when you become attracted to someone for who they are and not what they look like. The "sparks" I've always had before were based on pretty much the physical stuff--and that's what drove me and kept me in the relationship, even when it became clear that the guy was a jerk. This is a new kind of spark.

We spent a lot of time together this weekend, and I can now officially say--WOW. What an amazing, amazing man. I already care enough about him to have explained to him about Dysfunctional Jen, my evil twin, and how in the past, she's had a hard time dealing with the good guys. So every now and then, when the niceness is getting to be overwhelming, I'll tell him so and he'll call me a sufficiently sarcastic name, and all is well again. =-) He loves the fact that I can be incredibly sweet and a huge smartass, sometimes in the same sentence. "You have an edge to you," he said. He tried to tell me that HE had an edge, too, to which I replied that he was about as edgy as the Pope.

The best part of the weekend was when he was teaching me how to play Texas Hold 'Em on Saturday. (He has a monthly poker game, and we're now in training for me to get ready for the March one.) This guy LOVES poker and he's pretty good at it. After he showed me the basics, we started to play for real: and my sweet, nice Dave became a hardcore player. We talked shit to each other and went for the jugular. He took no mercy on me and, I'm proud to say, I was able to wipe him out a few times. (And I'd do it with this fake kind of innocence: "I have all shovel thingies. Is that good?" I'd say as I laid my cards down and he cussed a blue streak.) It was AWESOME.

Anyway...I don't know what will happen and, for once, I'm trying to just enjoy it as it happens and not think too far ahead. (Although I will say that he's the first guy I've dated since my Psychic Adventure with Anna a year and a half ago that actually fits the description of "the one," pretty much to a T.) As I'm learning, though: sometimes nice guys aren't all that bad.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

It's raining men

In honor of Joelle's 25th birthday, a group of us went to a gay bar last night. And then we went to the strip club (which we had to do to get the guy teachers to agree to Destination #1. Well, that and the fact that "dude, maybe there'll be some hot lesbian action! Sweet!" There wasn't).

I have never seen so many young, HOT men in one place. It was kind of depressing, actually. THAT'S why it's so hard to find a good man--they're all dating EACH OTHER.

We had a blast, though. The table of guys next to us LOVED us proceeded to drag us out on the dance floor all night. Dear LORD, gay men can move. (So can straight guys PRETENDING to be gay so that they could grind up on innocent, unsuspecting women, as we discovered.) "God, I wish I were a gay man!!" I remember declaring on several occasions. (Exactly why, I'm not sure.) When we announced that we were leaving, a chorus of "Nooooooo!" rose from our new-found friends. We explained where we were going and invited them to go with us. Much to our drunken delight, they agreed: "Hell, I can be straight for a night," one of them said with a diva snap. It was hilarious.

They never showed up and actually, the strip club wasn't NEARLY as much fun as the gay bar. We didn't stay long. However, I woke up this morning more sore than I've ever been in my life. Dancing at Tubby's is WAY more fun than the treadmill or Tae Bo, I gotta say. I think I've found a new workout regimine.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


So Frank drops the bomb on me today and tells me that he's buying a condo, he put the down payment down yesterday and he's moving out in a couple months (end of April or so).

That puts me in quite a pickle.

I've been brainstorming the last few hours, and making phone calls, and heres what I've come up with.

1) Take over the lease and try to find a roommate. This would be nice because *I* wouldn't have to move; plus, I wouldn't have to worry about finding a new place and having to pay first month's rent and a security deposit. We'd just change the lease from his name to mine and life would go on as usual. The major flaw in this plan is FINDING a roommate, since all of my friends (teacher-friends) are all in leases until mid to late summer, depending on when they got down here. I thought about trying to do it on my own till they started getting out of their leases (Joelle and I, for example, had talked about living together when our leases were up), but there's just no way I can swing it on my own. Right now, I'm paying a flat $600 a month for my part of rent, utilities, etc. I found out tonight that rent alone is just over $1000 a month (yes, housing is VERY expensive down here), plus all the bills....I just can't do that on my own. So I would HAVE to find a roommate right away.

My best lead on that is actually another girl at school, who's out of her lease in late March (so the timing would be absolutely perfect) and has already said that she's going to be looking for a new place to live. The big drawback here is that this is the teacher who just had a baby, so I'd be living with an infant. Not that I dont LIKE babies...but...yeah. Still, it would really work out well for both of us, timing wise, etc--plus, I have a washer and dryer in the apt, and I know that that was something she didn't like about her current place --hers didn't, and as you know, you do a LOT of laundry with a baby.

Or, I could find a roommate the way Frank found ME, with, but that's taking a big chance again....the whole living with a stranger thing worked out great with Frank, but i may not be that lucky next time.

2) Move into a one bedroom somewhere, but again, I'd have to shell out for first months rent (and security deposit, etc) which is a bit pricey......along these same lines, I know that some apartment complexes let you switch from one apartment to another in the same commplex and consider that "staying in your lease," so Frank's going to check with the office about that possibility (my taking over this lease from him and then switching to a one bedroom. THAT would be great, living on my own and still not having to pay first rent/security deposit, etc, if I can afford it, which I have to look into).

3) As a last resort, there's a teacher in our little social circle who has a condo with a spare (furnished) guestroom.I could ask her if I could rent that out from her through the summer, at least till the other teachers start getting freed up from THEIR current leases, and then move into a new place with my new roommate.

My big problem with options A and B at this point is getting furniture....all the furniture here belongs to Frank--shoot, I still dont have a BED. =-) He did say he'd leave some of it behind, like the entertainment center, couch and maybe dining room table....but I'm still looking at having to get a lot of stuff relatively soon. If I can stay here and just get a roommate, that will help a lot....but if I have extra costs associated with all this (like security deposit, etc, somewhere new) then I may have a bit of a problem.

So....I'm going to start exploring these options and we'll see what shapes up.
Death of a celebrity....and a hero

By Jeff Mullin, Commentary

Joshua Frazier died Tuesday. His death went relatively unnoticed, particularly when compared to the media frenzy that followed the untimely demise of Anna Nicole Smith.

That is understandable, of course, since Smith was, if nothing else, famous.

She might have been famous simply for being famous, but her name had become a household word.Smith’s fame seems a testament to the cult of celebrity that grips this country. We love celebrities, or, at least, we love to scrutinize every aspect of their lives.We hang on every juicy detail of their love lives, from the first blush of romance to the wreckage left strewn in the wake of their breakup.We want to know where they live, how they live, with whom they live and what substances in which they indulge to help them get through their lives.We love them when they succeed, we envy them when they are at their sleek, beautiful, sexy, talented best. But we take guilty satisfaction in their downfall, as well. We can’t look away when they gain weight, get arrested for drunk driving, shame themselves by spouting racial epithets or slide into the morass of addiction.

In return celebrities crave our attention. Without the public, they would have no career. But after a time, all try, largely without success, to hold the public at arm’s length, to submit to the relentless scrutiny of adoring fandom only on their own terms.It never works. In the world of celebrity, there is no having your cake and eating it too.

Joshua Frazier was no celebrity. He was a 24-year-old kid from Spotsylvania, Va., located just off I-95 south of Washington.He was, by all accounts, a good kid. When a friend had a death in the family, Josh would sit up with them all night, if need be. If someone he knew, even casually, was in the hospital, Frazier would spend hours visiting them. When he was home, Josh Frazier even slept with a teddy bear, one given to his mother when she was pregnant with him.No one ever saw fit to base a reality series on his life. If they had, they would have focused on a young man who would party on Saturday night, but was always up for church on Sunday morning.Josh Frazier collected guns and was a huge fan of Spider Man.Television news programs did not devote long minutes to coverage of Josh Frazier’s death, as they did with Anna Nicole Smith. Magazines will not feature the demise of Josh Frazier on their covers, as they will Anna Nicole. Smith, after all, helps sell magazines.

Why do such people fascinate us? Is it because we wish we could be them, or because we are so glad we’re not?Anna Nicole Smith was an exotic dancer, turned Playboy playmate, turned blushing bride to an 89-year-old billionaire, turned widow embroiled in a legal fight over her late husband’s estate, turned model, turned grieving mother and now martyr on the altar of society’s obsession with celebrity.She shared much with her idol, Marilyn Monroe — her blonde hair, her figure, her pouty beauty. But Marilyn had something Anna Nicole lacked, talent. In the end they share an untimely death surrounded by mystery and innuendo.

There is no mystery surrounding the death of Josh Frazier. After graduating from Spotsylvania High School, he enlisted in the Marines, because he wanted to make a difference.He was on his second deployment to Iraq, and served with Company A, First Battalion, Sixth Marine Regiment in the Ar Ramadi region of Iraq.Frazier described the area to friends as the most dangerous intersection in the world.

Aaron Mallin, Josh’s older brother, told the Fredricksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star Josh was proud of the difference he and his fellow Marines were making in Iraq. Frazier said once his unit moved into the area, local people could again cross the street without being killed.

“And he was very proud of that,” Mallin told the paper.

Michelle Luehrs, a friend of Frazier’s since grade school, had tried to talk him out of extending his most recent tour in Iraq, a decision he made only recently.

“He said, ‘Michelle, there’s a lot of really bad people over here and I can’t go home while they’re still here,’” Luehrs told the Free Lance-Star.

Frazier talked to his mother, Sheila Cutshall, a week ago. He told her of his recent promotion, and his plans to re-up for a third tour in Iraq.

Tuesday a sniper’s bullet ended the life of Sgt. Joshua J. Frazier. His death made news in his hometown, but elsewhere he was merely a statistic.We have a skewed sense of what is important, when the death of a celebrity dominates the airwaves and is considered front page news, and the death of a fighting man or woman is treated almost as an afterthought.

Anna Nicole Smith was a troubled celebrity whose life ended too soon. Marine Sgt. Joshua J. Frazier was a hero.

I pray we never lose sight of the difference.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Letter from Grimm's mom

I came home today and found a padded envelope on the kitchen table from Matthew's mom. It started out, "Thank you so much for your beautiful card, the letter you put in the Daily Tribune anad please thank the students for all the wonderful cards they made." She also wrote, "We miss him so much and it is very hard not to think that one day he will come home and walk through the door with his big old smile."

Inside the envelope was a DVD. She said, "I'm sending you a memorial video that his brother, Andrew, made and was played at the funeral home." It took me a while tonight to be able to watch it; it showed pictures of Matt from the time he was a baby until right before he died. I was a mess after watching it, of course, but of course it made me smile, too (actually, parts of it made me laugh out loud; let's just say that my soldier went through quite the "awkward" phase, LOL).

The letter ended with, "Thank you once again for being an angel in my son's life. May God bless you."

I have his pictures up on my filing cabinet in my classroom. I also have the word magnets for the kids to play with (you know, the ones you can use to make sentences and poems and things). Today, I noticed that a student had placed three words around his picture: "We remember always."

I still miss him so much.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Are you #^#&#(#))# KIDDING me?
Otherwise known as: my meeting today

Let's just say, it's a good thing I don't have to go to these meetings on a regular basis.

Let's also just say that I have pretty much decided, after the meeting, that I will NOT be teaching middle school next year (at least, not at this school). Immediately after the meeting, I shot an email to the 5th grade teachers, begging "Please can I come join you next year??!?" There is going to be at least one 5th grade opening next year, maybe more (depending on who comes back), so I have a good shot at it. Plus, they set it up kind of like middle school, in the sense that one teacher teaches science to all kids, one does social studies, etc. Right now, they ALL teach language arts (they only have 3 teachers, so they have designated math/social studies/science teachers)--so there's literally a perfect place for me in the team for next year.

That is, IF the principal and VP want me back next year (which is why it's a good thing I don't go to those meetings regularly, because I was getting some looks from them based on my very angry and hostile body language).

Basically, the meeting was a waste, and the problems that I described in my earlier post are not going to change, at least not as long as the current administration stays in place. We spent about 75% of the meeting talking about the other concerns on the list (I think they did that on purpose) so that we had to rush through the "lack of support in disciplinary matters" portion of the meeting. I'm paraphrasing here, but this was the general message:

1) If you can't handle the kids, it's because you're a shitty teacher and your classroom management sucks. There are no problem kids, only problem teachers.

2) Things like insuborniation are "level 1" offenses (verbal warnings, etc) and kids will never be suspended for that anyway. "Yes," one teacher was quick to say, "the FIRST TIME. Repeat offenses are level 2 and level 3" (suspention and expulsion). This is according to OUR CORPORATE HANDBOOK. The powers-that-be, however, basically said that they will handle discipline as they see fit. "There are teachers who NEVER send referrals to the office," they said, "because they can handle the students." Yeah, like the 5th grade team--BECAUSE THEY KNOW THAT NOTHING HAPPENS WHEN THEY **DO** SEND KIDS DOWN, SO THEY'VE GIVEN UP AND HANDLE THINGS THEMSELVES. I know this for a fact, because THOSE TEACHERS HAVE TOLD ME SO. Furthermore, middle school students ARE a whole different animal, and you can still intimidate elementary kids in a way that you can't with the older grades. And guess what--if EVERY SINGLE TEACHER in middle school has a problem with a student, and if that student has been EXPELLED FROM OTHER SCHOOLS, THEN NO, THE PROBLEM IS NOT WITH THE TEACHER.

So tomorrow, I'm going to email the powers-that-be and put the bug in their ear now that I'd like to move to 5th grade next year (basically, put my "dibs" on it). I'll start off very complimentary and polite, that I genuintely like and respect them both, I love the school, blah blah blah. I can play the corporate-kiss-ass game with the best of them. I'll also acknowledge that as a first-year teacher, I know that I have made mistakes, that I can always improve in classroom management. and that I still have a lot to learn. However, I would prefer not to teach middle school next year because of a couple of students (namely, "F" in 7th and "D" in 6th). I'll say that I'm really sad that two or three students have "ruined" middle school for me, but that's how disruptive and outright disrespectful these particular students are. And I'll say, tactfully, that although I don't necessarily agree with some of their views regarding discipline, I have to agree to disagree, as I defer to them and their vast, almighty knowledge and wisdom, blah blah blah; therefore, since certain middle school students will continue to attend this school, I would prefer to not teach at that grade level.

What do you think? I do want them to know why I don't want to teach that level next year; I think it IS important for them to understand, especially because they're going to have one, MAYBE 2 returning middle school teachers for next year, whether they know it yet or not (although "0" is also a possibility, too, as my friend really wants to teach PE next year). However, I will still have expressed my respect for them and my desire to remain a part of the team; I will also take some of the fault/responsibility onto MY shoulders with the whole "I'm a first year teacher so I KNOW I still have a lot to learn, I've made mistakes, as well, etc" part, rather than saying "The fault is all with you since you won't do anything about these kids."


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A few things, all equally random

1) According to Blogger, I've posted almost 650 entries. (Not COMMENTS, just straight-up POSTS.) Wow.

2) I never have to work again!! I received a check in the mail today for $1.34, my share of a class-action lawsuit that I was apparently a part of. Somewhere, somehow, someone screwed me over, but dammit, TODAY, JUSTICE WAS SERVED!

3) I've been recruited to serve on the SA public relations team. I'm going to be writing press releases for them to be distributed to the media (which was always my favorite part of PR). See, my first degree isn't TOTALLY going to waste! =-)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Teaching sucks ass

Okay, teaching itself doesn't suck ass. It's the kids who suck ass.

No, it's not even the kids. It's SOME of the kids.

See, teaching at Suck Ass Academy has gone seriously downhill since, oh, Christmas break or so. There are two main reasons for that:

1) We started getting all the "problem students" who were kicked out of the public schools. Fighting? No problem. Attitude issues? We'll take 'em. Drugs? Sure!! We're a charter school; ie, a FOR-PROFIT COMPANY! WE'LL TAKE THEM ALL!!

2) And once they're here, we won't kick them out, for ANYTHING! WE'RE A CORPORATION! WE'RE ALL ABOUT MAKING MONEY!!


The problem is that administration does NOT have our back on "disciplinary issues." We have kids who are REPEATEDLY sent down to the office, for blatant disrespect, insubordination, classroom disruptions, etc. And five minutes later, the office sends them right back up. It's become a joke (albeit a very unfunny one, at least to us teachers). It's gotten to the point where kids actually say to me, "Why do you even send them down, Miss K? Nothing's going to happen to them anyway."

And that's exactly the problem--first, that nothing's going to happen and second, that they KNOW nothing's going to happen. Therefore, they can do pretty much anything they want in class because there are no repercussions. Lunchtime detention? Yeah, they sit at the "detention table" with their friends. We had to discontinue it because after a while, lunchtime detention was the "cool" place to be. After-school detention? Yeah, we don't have that. The TEACHERS have to run their own detention, and call me undedicated, but I'm not going to spend an extra hour after school with the same damn kids who drove me crazy all freakin' day. Plus, I'm busy after school 3 days a week with the yearbook and the spelling bee. In-school detention? Sure, if the VP or principal ever GAVE IT TO THEM. Call the parents? "Shoot, call my mama, I don't care," one kid told me. And no wonder. I left several voicemails and have never heard back from his mama.

So frankly, I just don't know what to do, besides look for another job at a public school, where 1) at least they DO kick kids out 2) they have little things like "detention" and "ISS", because they have funding to pay for such staff members 3) the benefits are better and you have to pay less out of pocket 4) the pay is higher 5) you don't have to buy your own "extras"--you know, like copy paper and pencils.

Otherwise, I could stay at Suck Ass Academy and teach a slightly younger grade, where at least they're still somewhat intimidated by the teachers. Also, it's a lot easier to set up specific routines and procedures when you have the same 25 kids all day as opposed to 125 kids for various 45-minute increments. (Then again, you also have that same annoying-ass kid ALL DAY LONG.) And the thing is, I really do like middle school. And I like the majority of the kids, too. That's what makes it so sad. I could name about 5 kids in the entire middle school who should be kicked out for blatant (and REPEATED) disregard for authority; it would make a huge difference in the individual classes AND in the middle school as a whole.

I don't know. I'm so damn frustrated and tired. And it's barely February.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Hey Man, How's It Hangin'?

Dutch Gym to Introduce 'Naked Sunday'

By TOBY STERLING, Associated Press Writer
Fri Feb 2, 12:00 AM

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Self-conscious about what you wear while working out? A Dutch gym plans to introduce "Naked Sunday" for people who like to huff and puff in the buff.

Patrick de Man, owner of Fitworld gym in the town of Heteren, said he got the idea in part from two of his customers who are avid nudists.

"I heard that some other gyms are offering courses on 'pole-dancing' as a sport, so I thought: Why not bring something new to the market?" de Man said.

He said the response had been overwhelming _ positive and negative.

The 70,000-member Dutch Federation of Naturists was curious to see if Fitworld's plan would work, spokesman Bernd Huiser said.

"We recently conducted a large survey among our members, and most prefer to exercise with their clothes on," he said. "The most popular activities (for nudists) are things you do outdoors, like walking on the beach, or swimming in a lake, or maybe gardening."

De Man said the first question Fitworld customers were asking was whether it would be sanitary.

Nude exercisers would be required to put towels down on weight machines and to use disposable seat covers while riding bikes. All machines would be cleaned and disinfected afterward. "We clean them every day anyway," he said.

The first "Naked Sunday" is scheduled for March 4.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Towel or not, the thought of getting on a bike right after a naked, sweaty crotch of any gender is NOT my idea of a good time. And what happens if you fall off the treadmill like Eduardo? Things could get STUCK, people! And even if you escape getting your parts stuck and pulled through the conveyor, you could still get a nasty burn! As Jerry Seinfeld pointed out, there's good naked and there's bad naked. This, my friends, is BAD naked.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

RIP Fancy

One of my guinea pigs died today. She was relatively old (in guinea pig years, anyway), and I left them with Mom and Steve when I moved to Florida this past summer.
Even so, I had Fancy since she was a baby, so I'm still pretty sad. She was just so damn sweet and good-natured (I know she's just a "rodent" but they really do have distinct personalities). She hadn't been eating much for a few days, so Mom and Steve took her to the vet yesterday (Wednesday). Apparently, her teeth had grown a little too long so she was having a hard time eating and drinking and was kind of weak. The vet told them to feed her Kayo (or however you spell it) syrup to give her energy every hour through the night and the morning...and Steve, bless his heart, actually called into work last night so he could do it. Mom was going to take Fancy to work this morning so she could do it during the day and Steve could sleep....they got in the car and arrived at Mom's work, and Fancy was gone. (At least she wasn't alone when she died, so I feel better. She was with her new "parents.")

Honestly, other than the whole "starving her to death thing," ;) she really had a better life this past year with Mom and Steve than I would have given her. They were much more attentive, etc., than I could have been.

And yes, this is not nearly as significant as the recent death I experienced, which is probably because I'm not as emotional as I thought I'd be....still, I feel bad that I didn't say goodbye to her before I left Michigan last month. (Stupid, I know.) But she always squeaked when I came into the room and still seemed to know me....and I'll miss her.

She was awesome.