Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Weeds and Wedding Showers

Like I need a new vice. Wednesday, I was in the mood to "chill out" in the freakin' "heat emergency oh-my-gob-it's-so-hot-my-head-might-fall-off" heat and watch rented DVDs. I wanted something fun and funny. So, like the uneducated dumbass I am, I rented the first 6 episodes of season 1 of Weeds. After all, Elizabeth Perkins was just nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy. A comedy. A summary: Mary Louise Parker plays a woman whose husband dropped dead while jogging with his 10-year-old son. They live in a scary-looking Mom-bot/Stepford wife community and she wants to "maintain her lifestyle," so she becomes the neighborhood pot dealer. The writing is brilliant and the soundtrack makes me realize how little I actually know about music. However. A widow and two boys without a father. Widow and older brother are in serious denial and the 10 year old is asking to be put on Prozac or Zoloft or whatever. Elizabeth Perkins' younger daughter is overweight and she torments her poor daughter (Her daughter's name is Isabelle, but she calls her "Isabelly") every day. Death. Drugs. Drive-by shootings in the 'hood. Infidelity. Eating disorders. Financial troubles. Hahaha, hahahahahaha! Oh, the hilarity! Good times.

Yes, there are some killer funny lines and there are absolutely no sacred cows in it. I liked it so much that I totally binged on it (healthier than bingeing on a bag of potato chips - I'll take dark circles under my eyes over cellulite on my ass any day) and ran back the next day to the video store to rent the second half of season 1. Lest you remain unclear about how much I love this show, let me elucidate: I watched the special features. I even watched the episodes with the commentary on. I never do that. I've tried to do that and I find it annoying and pointless. I will ask for the soundtrack for my birthday, which is coming up. (Yippee. No mothers say, "Your child is 36? That's a fun age!") But it is not a "comedy." I don't know if I would even call it a "dark comedy." Because I cried while watching it, more than a few times. I don't think I ever cried while watching a Seinfeld episode (that I remember. Maybe, this one time, when I had too much wine) - although Seinfeld wasn't a dark comedy, apples to apples and all that, I get it. Have you ever watched Weeds? What do you think? Is it a "comedy"? Personally, I think it's a really sharp soap opera with great acting and super-cool "I can too still be hip after the age of 35 because now I know of obscure bands" music.

Okay, I know the correct term is probably "Bridal" shower, but I likes me some alliteration. I didn't take Mr. J.'s last name. Before we got married, we discussed that probably over the years, there would be times when people would call me Mrs. J., or people might call him Mr. Teacher Lady, and we'd just laugh and be cool with it.

However. When you send me an invitation to a bridal shower, which is basically a "gimme some stuff" request in a nice envelope, you might want to be cognizant of the fact that I didn't take my husband's last name. After all, if you know me well enough to ask me for a cappuccino maker and some fluffy new towels, you know me well enough to know this. But, sometimes with extended families, the word doesn't always get around, so call me Mrs. J. - I get it, it's cool.

But, let's say for illustration's sake that Mr. J.'s last name is Smith. The invitation was addressed to Mrs. Smithington. I hate: families, bridal showers and stupid people. Not in that order.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

One Question

What the hell kind of party is this invitation for? (I know, bachelorette; it's really a rhetorical question. I just think it's one of the stranger ones I've seen.)

Have I been teaching Human Sexuality too long and I'm reading too much into it?

Sorry, that was two questions.

As you were.

Sigh . . . The Saga Continues

You're not going to believe this. 'Cause I don't believe it. I almost crapped my pants yesterday when I opened up my e-mail and found a message from (scary chords: Dun, Dun, DUN!!!!!!) Inappropriate Sister.

She is, it would seem, in Africa and she sent an e-mail about her experiences to, well, it looks like everyone in her address book. I am conflicted about whether I will post it here - wait - no, I definitely won't post the whole thing because it goes on forever. I sent it to a friend of mine and her response? "This is a psychotic rant." Indeed. I'm also concerned about posting even a portion because with my luck, she'll Google CRAZYJESUSLOVE, find my blog, figure out what's up and have me fired. Okay, I take it back. I just reread this "paragraph" - and I use the term loosely, I decided it is just too freakin' strange for me to deal with alone. I'm a'scared. It makes me go to my "scary place." Just the spelling alone is enough to send me into an epileptic fit. Look, read and be very afraid. I give you the e-mail of a recent college graduate:

wow so here i am sara met me at the airport and was my saviors expression as she paid the visa soldier man that had me sat down bringing different guys to gawk at me but none help me coz i am not arabic able at all. i was sooooooooo tired even tho i had slept a double 4 hr. shift on the milano flight where an albanian man who lived in columbia tried to complain about rich girls i fell asleep on a two seet fetus ride, mmm , it was hard leaving the closeness that develped in Dakar.

I've seen the future of this country and its name is Rain Man. I may take this post down in a few days, just to cover my fat white ass, but few people in my "real life" grasp how crazy she is. Feel privileged, my friends! Oh - and also? The spellchecker almost exploded when it got to her paragraph.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Your Advice, Please

I never know when to keep my mouth shut and when to say something. Either way, I usually end up kicking myself, so perhaps I need to start asking others for their advice.

Yesterday was the last day at the advising center. We have officially scheduled 3,700 incoming freshmen. Good news for us; bad news for Wednesday's students. Talk about beggars not being choosers. I was SO tempted to quote Caddyshack about half a dozen times: "You'll get nothing and like it."

I scheduled a young woman who was just adorable. She looked like someone famous, but I couldn't quite place which famous person she resembled. However, what she had in looks, she lacked in manners. She seemed polite enough, until I started actually registering her for classes and she whipped out her phone, turned away from me and started text messaging someone. Of course, every schedule was a chore yesterday - everything decent was closed, filled to overflowing. At one point, I said to young girl, "All of these psychology sections are closed," and she looked up from her text messaging and asked, "Oh. Is that bad?" I understand that classes don't close in high school and this concept is new, so I said, "Well, it just means we'll have to put you in another general education requirement." She looked at me. "Nothing before 11:00, okay?" and went back to text messaging. Interesting. Hasn't yet learned the concept of a closed class, but has grasped the concept of no classes before 11:00. I made the mistake of trying to talk to her, "I'll do my best - I promise, but you and this group of students here are the last 35 freshmen out of 3,700 to register. It's kind of slim pickings." She wasn't listening; she was text messaging. She sat next to me for approximately 15 minutes while I cruised through the university's massive database trying to find what might work out of the dregs. Every 5 minutes or so, she'd look up from her texting and say with a polite smile, "How's my schedule coming along?" What I wanted to do SO badly - so, so badly was say, "Please put down that phone and at least act like you're remotely interested in your educational future." But I said nothing.

Why? Because the woman who runs the advising program is big on customer service and enrollment. "Remember," she says every day, "They don't have to choose us. They might have been accepted by 5 other schools and if they have a bad experience with us, they can always go somewhere else." (Although based on most of the transcripts I've seen the past month, I doubt it.) Or sometimes her daily pep talk is, "No matter how awful they might act, we have to be polite. You're not just representing yourself; you're representing the entire university."

So her speeches ran through the back of my mind as I contemplated saying something to our pretty young thing. And then I thought, "This blows. I'm going to see her in my classroom in two or three years (if she doesn't flunk out which seems a distinct possibility, based on her transcript and her attention span; a gnat has a longer attention span - no offense to gnats) and I'm going to have to explain six times during the first class why she has to put her phone away - 'cause I know she ain't gonna read my "e-policy" on my syllabus.

After she went bouncing out of the advising center, I found myself wishing I had said something, but what? I just felt so, I can't exactly articulate it, maybe, disregarded? Inconsequential? Like the maid in the four-star hotel who people pretend not to see? Have I lost all sense of what decorum means in a "mobile" society? Are there new "rules?" Does it matter that she didn't stop text messaging once since I didn't truly need her to be engaged? After all, there was nothing she could really do - except to remind me about her not being a morning person. Was she being rude? Or am I just being overly sensitive and old, out of touch Teacher Lady? Your thoughts (honest ones), please!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Vanity Plates

I have mixed feelings about vanity plates. My ex-jackass husband had one and since he also had 4 maxed out credit cards, perhaps that is part of my problem - bad memories, you know?

Some vanity plates are cool or cute or funny. And some of them? Downright mystifying.

The one I saw on Saturday night (on a white Jaguar):


I'm guessing the driver was some kind of ENT specialist, but so? Would a proctologist have a vanity plate that read ANUS 4 YOU or UP YRS?

What's the strangest vanity plate you ever saw?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

How to be a Good Wedding Guest: More Life According to Teacher Lady

Another wedding yesterday. This one was (for the most part) really quite lovely. The bride could not have been sweeter. The usual suspects (the mother of the bride and the maid of honor) were also charming and low-key. It was a few of the guests, unfortunately, who were the problem.

A few people have told me I should write a book. I don't really think I have it in me to write a book, but I could write a hell of a pamphlet. And for a few years now, I have been meaning to publish a pamphlet about weddings. I realize the world does NOT need another wedding book - it doesn't even need a wedding pamphlet. But this wouldn't be like Jessica Simpson's "How to Have Your Dream Wedding on a Budget of only $1.5 million" book. (Actually the title is Jessica Simpson I Do: Achieving Your Dream Wedding. Now having a wedding is an achievement? Sheesh. No wonder the divorce rate is stratospheric.)

Oh, no. This would be a completely different spin. It would be entitled, "How Not to be a Huge Pain in the Ass at Someone Else's Wedding." And it would never sell a single copy because no one ever thinks they're being a pain in the ass. Although - can you IMAGINE the social scandal that would ensue if some bride bought hundreds of copies and enclosed one with each invitation? That is a delicious scenario and I relish it like a bite of expensive chocolate mousse. I know - see you all in hell, etc.,

Anyway, since I adore all of you dear readers who take time out of your lives to read my yammerings, I now present you with an exclusive! sneak! preview! of my never-before-seen Teacher Lady/wedding planner pamphlet!

How Not to Be a Pain in the Ass at Someone Else's Wedding:
  • Don't vomit in public.

The end.

Just kidding. But that's probably one of the most important ones. Here are a few others:

  • Last night, post-ceremony, pre-reception, a guest approached me. "Are you the event planner?" she asked. Fuckin' stupid radio. That and my sour expression probably give me away every time. Yes, I'm the planner, nods, smiles. "I didn't want to bother the mother of the bride, but I'm lactose and gluten intolerant. I'm just wondering what will be available for me to eat?" How about the bottom of my shoe, lady? I'm pretty sure you won't find any dairy OR gluten in it. Seriously!!? Seriously. Now is the time to inform someone of your food allergies? The plated salads have already been pre-set, the band is playing the standard, "Let's all sit down and eat" music and now is when you tell me you're lactose and gluten intolerant? I can't imagine a better time for you to give anyone that information. I had a copy of the menu and double-checked it. I could barely contain my joy, "We're having seared salmon!" I declared. "Oh, thank you, Jesus, for the seared salmon," I thought. I was almost dancing with joy. Until she said those hated words, "Well, I can't eat it if it's been prepared with butter. Can you please go check?" Again. Why now? Why not 35 minutes ago? Because you know, if you had told me (or, heck, someone in the family, oh, I don't know, when you got your freakin' invitation), perhaps I could have said to the chef, "Hey! Please don't put butter on that one because it's for the lactose-gluten-guest who wants to rain on everyone's parade." So folks, those of you with dietary restrictions: While guests are being seated for dinner? Not the time to mention the 74 things you can't eat. I think that should be easy to understand.
  • I may offend some people, but: Do. Not. Take. (Under any circumstances!) a place card/table number/seating thing that is not your own. Unless (and this is a very specific unless) you have said to the other person, "When I get to the reception, I'll get your place card/table number/seating thing." And really, you shouldn't do that because here's what happens. At EVERY wedding!!! Every one! EVERY damn one! (Am I making myself clear!? This drives me crazy!) Mrs. Smith walks up to place card table, where I am often stationed with a back-up alpha-numeric list. (You'll see why this is important in a minute.) Mrs. Smith says to her hubby, "Oh, look! The Crapmeisters are here. I wonder where they're sitting?" And then she takes the Crapmeisters' card, looks at the table number and says, "Oh, they're with us at Table Number 'we'll-make-the-planner want-to-kill-herself.' I'll just grab their card for them." And in the instant that Mrs. Smith says she'll grab their card, someone turns to me to tell me they're sad because they didn't get their netted tulle Jordan almond favor or the ring bearer wet his pants and do I have any extra Pull-ups and I miss a crucial piece of information. Because 10 minutes later, the Crapmeisters are in front of the table and all three of us are combing through 300 place cards, trying to figure out why we can't find their card. Then Mrs. Crapmeister says, "I have never been SO offended! I've known the Peoplepleasers for 35 years. I can't believe they don't have a table for us!" And luckily, my alpha-numeric list comes in handy and I tell the Crapmeisters where their table is and apologize profusely for any confusion, knowing perfectly well that some yahoos took their card. But on the way to the table, the Crapmeisters will run into the Peoplepleasers and say, "Clearly, your wedding planners are not up to snuff. Can you believe they didn't have a place card for us?" and we're off and running. So people: Trust me. Your dear friends the Crapmeisters will never in a million years think that you just "did them a favor" by grabbing their place card, so don't do it. Hands to yourselves, okay? Your card, and your card only. Thank you.
  • Back in May, a guest walked into the reception with her two daughters. She looked at me, giggled in a pretend-embarrassed way and said, "Now, don't be mad at me." (I guess my snarky bitterness exudes from every pore.) I pretend-smiled. "Oh, come now. Why would I be mad at you?" Guest says, "Well, I only RSVPd for one, but BOTH of my daughters came home from college to surprise me for Mother's Day and I couldn't just leave them at home, could I? So, I didn't think it would be a big problem if I just brought them with me. How hard can it be to find two extra plates, right?" Lady. Ahem. Lady. You have two daughters. Do not tempt the Fates. Karma is a bitch, and when your daughters get married, you will find out exactly how hard it is to find two extra plates when some clown brings two extra people to your reception. And I hope, as it was the case the day that you made some other bride's mother (ostensibly your "friend") freak out, that the ballroom is packed, and each table is a 10-top, and there are not any no-shows, and there is absolutely no place to seat two additional people, except maybe in the corner on the floor. And I hope I am there to see it. Even if it's looking up at you from the burning flames of hell.
  • No, you cannot switch tables. Have you been living under a rock? Don't you know that doing wedding reception seating charts is only slightly more daunting than the seating chart for the White House Press Corps dinner? Aunt Millie hasn't talked to Cousin Myrtle in 17 years, so they have to be across the room from each other. Susan dated Mary's husband back when they were all in college and they can't be anywhere near each other. Rick and Uncle Paul used to be best buds until someone borrowed someone's socket wrench and never returned it, so we're going to have to split them up and put them with the other side of the family. It's just a few hours for one night of your life. Who cares if you're at the "losers' table?" You probably deserve it. I know - me, hell, handbasket.
  • And finally: Do not be late. Do not, do not, do not, do not be late. Do not come crashing into the church/temple/museum/field of daisies/primate house at the zoo with your faux whisper (which happens to be louder than your normal voice would) telling me your sob story about getting lost or losing your hotel room key or whatever your problem is. The bride could give a rat's ass. She will give a rat's ass however, that everyone is not staring at her stunning bridal glory, but is now turned around and staring at you. And you lose points for asking the obvious. As you look at me and then look up at the front of the church/temple/monkey house at the zoo, you must see the officiant, the bride, the groom, the assembled maids and men standing underneath the chuppah, the three-piece string quartet musicians, their bows hovering over their instruments, as the bride and groom slide cool metal rings on each other's fingers. So why do you ask in your loud whisper, "Oh, am I late?" What do you think?

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Unrealistic Expectations?

Summer session is over and I am back in the advising center. Yesterday, I met an adorable incoming freshman. She was sweet, polite, well-mannered (she didn't text message anyone once!) - all the things you hope for in an advisee. Until.

The Sociology 101 section her advisor had selected was closed. Psychology 101 was listed as an acceptable option. I sighed and mentally steeled myself for a fight, because Sociology was Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 1:30, and Psych was on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. (I won't take a Friday class! I won't take a class before noon!). I gave her the news about Sociology being closed; good news: the psych section has room for you! Yippee!!! She made a face. "Here we go," I thought. "What is it?" I asked, thinking to myself, "Freakin' stupid generation I-don't-know-what-letter with the sense of entitlement."

"Um," she said softly. "Yes?" I inquired. "What, um, what is psychology?" Of all the things I was expecting her to say, this was not one of them. And then I realized, even though I had minored in psychology in undergrad, I was hard-pressed to explain it. "It's the study of how the human mind influences behavior," remembering my dad's motto (If you can't blind 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with bullshit). I probably sounded smarter than I felt. Later, I looked it up and found out I wasn't too far off in my definition - at least not according to the geniuses over at Wikipedia. In spite of my damn good bluff, she didn't look convinced. She looked scared. "Is, is that it? I guess I don't know what that means."

Emboldened by my semi-bullshit answer, I kept going. "Oh, come on. Remember Pavlov's dog? You probably learned about that in one of your science classes, right?" She looked completely blank. "No," she said. "I've never heard of that." I started regaling her with the fascinating tale of drooling dogs and ringing bells. Speaking of bells, I said, "That probably rings a bell, right?" She shook her head again, "No. But it sounds really interesting. So is that psychology?" I have almost always been in a field that no one has ever heard of and so I am used to explaining a whole discipline in two or three sentences. But it's always my discipline, so I know what the hell I'm talking about it. This was daunting. "Um, no, well, there's more. What about Skinner? Remember Skinner and the rats? Operant conditioning, I think that's called." Another blank stare. "Or Freud!" I was grasping. "How about Freud? Oral stage? Anal stage? The father of psychoanalysis?" Frantic head shaking. "No," she said. "That doesn't sound like anyone I've heard of." I didn't know what to do. I said, "I think you'll find it interesting, and it's often a prerequisite for other courses you may need. Plus, it fits one of your general education requirements." She still wasn't convinced. "And, if it's not what you thought it would be, you can always drop it." Now that had her attention. "Okay," she said. "Sign me up."

Here's where I wonder about my unrealistic expectations. I know I knew what psychology was before I went off to college - perhaps because my high school offered a psychology class for seniors and I took it. But still - I swear we learned about Pavlov's dog and classical conditioning in eighth grade science. I know we learned about Skinner's rat boxes in tenth grade biology. And Mr. J.'s niece knew enough about psychology in high school to choose it as her major before she even left for college. After my sweet, timid advisee left, I looked at her records: She attended a decent high school in another small college town about an hour away from my big college town. Although it might not be the world's best high school, I know something about public schools in college towns: Professors' kids go there. Professors aren't the type to put up with substandard education. So what gives? Or am I just living in my fantasy land where high school graduates know what psychology is?

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I'm an Autistic Third Grader

Last week, our professor was sharp enough to bring in food the last day of class. End of semester course evaluations + food = tenure, I'm thinking. I may have to take a page out of that book someday.

I'm standing in the food line and fellow doc student behind me strikes up a conversation. Sometimes, I hate telling people what subject I teach. I need to come up with an alternate subject - a "teaching alias," if you will, for when I just don't want to get into it. Something boring that will make folks' eyes glaze over. I don't know, maybe "I teach the History of Accounting." But anyway, the fellow doc student handled the real answer pretty well. She replied, "Well, that must be a fun class to teach! How is summer session going for you?" I answered probably more than I should have - I was really just thinking out loud and I said, "I'm worried about my students. Half of them really tanked the midterm. Sometimes I think students take my class, expecting to get the world's easiest A. I'm guessing they think to themselves, 'Hey - I've had sex, so I know all there is to know. How hard can the class be?'" and fellow doc student laughed.

However. Another fellow doc student happened to be standing across from us and I guess I wasn't using my inside voice. She cleared her throat and said loudly enough for the whole room to hear (she definitely wasn't using her inside voice, but I think that was the point), "I work with autistic third graders and one of the things I have to practice with them are things that are appropriate to say in public and things that are not appropriate to say in public. And what you just said was a perfect example of something I would tell my autistic third graders is not appropriate to say in public."

Inappropriate? Moi? Not possible!

But seriously. Is there a polite, appropriate way to ask, "So when is your surgery scheduled? You know, the one where they remove the stick from your ass."

After the whole class took a shocked breath, followed by a nervous giggle, I said, "Well, I guess my perspective is a little different than the average person's. For example, I have no problem telling nosy people that the reason I don't have children is because my husband has an undescended testicle and my cervical mucus is hostile to his sperm." Class laughed heartily. Is it okay if I say, "One point, Teacher Lady," or did I just make the nearest autistic third grader look really socially savvy? Wait - no, don't care. One point, Teacher Lady.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Oh, the guilt!

Grades for summer session are due by midnight tomorrow night. I received this e-mail at approximately 1:30 p.m. today:

hi Teacher, this is Steve Sleeve from your human sexuality class from summer 1. i am currently trying to enroll in business finance but need proof of my grade in your class before i can register. i need an A- to be able to and im not sure how close i am to it so any help would be greatly appreciated! The counselor informed me that i need an official grade transcript or letter from you by wednesday, July 19th. Thank you very much for your time and I really had a great experience in your class. Steve

Oy. Why do they tell me these things? Because it makes me feel like I'm supposed to, um, do something. And just between you and me and the dozen or so other folks who read this blog, poor Steve is nowhere near an A-. Not even close. So now he won't be able to take his business finance class and although it's not my fault (at all - I am in touch with reality - I know this!), I am still feeling the guilt. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: e-mail is the worst thing to ever happen to higher education.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Four Weddings and Some Annoying People

I have a contractor set-up where I run weddings at a local museum. People like to get married there. For example, Saturday there were four weddings there. So, Teacher Lady put on her wedding planner hat and ran around like a lunatic for approximately 10 hours.

If there is anything worse than a bride, it is four brides. If there is anything worse than a snippy matron of honor, it is four snippy matrons of honor. And finally, if there is anything more terrifying than a freaked-out, crazy/controlling mother of the bride, it is four freaked-out, crazy/controlling mothers of the bride.

But I think I held my own pretty well. It was actually people who had nothing to do with any of the weddings who drove me nuts. For example:

The first wedding of the day involved a bride who wore something very exotic looking. It was electric blue satin; pants and a short-sleeved top with lots of elaborate gold embroidery edging the entire outfit. She had the whole henna hand thing going on and she also had gold chains draped throughout her hair. She was Caucasian and I knew she had two officiants - a Muslim cleric and a Baptist minister. (No, this isn't the beginning of an inappropriate joke - that's really who married this couple.) Her bridemaids, however, all wore saris which I associate with Indian culture.

Upon her arrival, the security guard had contacted me via radio that morning to say, "The bride is here." Since the first three weddings were pretty much back-to-back and each bride was getting ready in a different location, I said, "Brandon, can you tell me which bride it is so I know where to direct her?" He responded, "She's in some kind of Aladdin outfit." Nice. Brandon is really a sweet guy, but come on. Those radios aren't supposed to be for conveying quiet information or inappropriate jokes. That's not really getting the day off to a brilliant start.

During the ceremony, my job is to stand near the site entrance and glare at any regular museum guests who might try to wander into the ceremony location. Of course, I'm standing in 95 degree heat in the museum garden, wearing black (as is the standard dress code for wedding and event planners), sweating profusely, praying it doesn't rain on anyone and suddenly, a strange looking couple is standing next to me. "Yes?" I ask, giving them the hairy eyeball. They both are trying to peer around me. "We just love weddings," says the woman. "We just want to see the bride." I sigh and move out of the way. "Oh!" exclaims annoying woman. "How interesting! Is she being married by a Buddhist Monk?" Why do people ask me these things? And why do I engage in these conversations? "No," I whisper, "A Muslim cleric and a minister - two parts of the ceremony." And her husband decides to take this moment to lecture me.

"Actually," he says, clearing his throat, "That can't be right." (And oh my gob, I'm having flashbacks to inappropriate sister. Unless I'm in a classroom, I honestly try to avoid telling people that they are wrong- or that I think they are wrong. Because ultimately, who cares? But sometimes I wonder: Why can't I be so unabashedly know-it-all-esque? And also? Why do I seem to attract these know-it-alls? Every-freakin'-where I go!?) "You see," he continues in his annoying scholarly tone, "The women are wearing saris. Now, a sari is a traditional Indian garment, and Indians are typically Hindus or Buddhists, so I doubt that's actually a Muslim performing the ceremony."

Here's what I wish I had said: "Dude. Can't you see I'm working? Do I wander into your office and tell you how to do your job or ask you inane questions and tell you that you're wrong? No. So scram."

No. I had to get into it. Because I'm an idiot. I said, "The father of the groom just introduced me to him and said, 'The Muslim cleric who is performing the ceremony has a time conflict and needs to perform his ceremony first, which is not what we practiced at the rehearsal,' so I'm pretty sure he is a Muslim cleric, since there was clearly some sort of relationship between him and the groom's family and they would probably know." (and I wanted to add, "and they would probably know better than you, you nosy asshat.")

And annoying dude just shook his head at me like I was a student who happened to be failing his class (due to my innate stupidity) and said, "Yeah," sighed, shook his head again and said, "I doubt it," and walked away!! One of my professors told me that she thinks I have a magnet on my forehead that reads, "Freaks," and I'm starting to think she's right. Except maybe it doesn't just read "Freaks," it reads, "Know-it-all Freaks who like to bother people when they're working." Because really? Nothing else explains my life.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Thursday Night Grammar Police

Remember this shirt? Well, family and friends (and Mr. J. - I guess you are both!), my birthday is next month and if you are at a loss . . . well, "loss no more!"

Once someone buys me this shirt, I have decided that every Thursday night, I will wear it to our neighborhood grocery store. There, I will hand out fines to any and all offenders. Last night, in one brief shopping trip, I saw these two egregious misuses of the English language:

1. We have peach's! No, you don't. You have peaches. Peach. es. Freakin' morons. And stop with the exclamation points. Peaches (and even peach's) aren't that! exciting!

2. We have necterines. People. If you work in the produce department, you should be the best spellers of produce anywhere. You have nectarines. As in "Nectar of the gods," not "Necter of the gods." What's next? Nestorines? (No offense to anyone named Nestor.)

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Absent-Minded Professor

I've officially lost it. Exhibit A:

Yesterday, I could not find my car keys. Could. Not. Find. Them. I'm rummaging through every conceivable pocket in my purse - every little nook and cranny in that stupid bag that always seems too small until I can't find something and then it's this massive black hole.

I begin the "stinkin' thinkin'" (thank you, Stuart Smalley) that goes, "Gob, why do I lose everything?! Every. damn. thing. What is WRONG with me? Why can't I be more organized? I don't just need a sippy cup, I need a string to put my keys on so I can wear them around my neck. I suck."

And then, I realize, I don't need to freak out about not being able to find my car keys, because . . . they are in the ignition and I am driving.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Not So Fast!

I have not seen the designated mess in quite some time. The last time I saw her was the day she came crashing into class to hand me a paper, while breathlessly telling me she couldn't stay (bad migraine) and that was it. Then I would oh-so-nervously check my online roster, holding my breath each time, praying, "Please, please, please, let her NOT be on the roster" and she has not been. She has mysteriously disappeared. Thank gob!!

Oh, did I celebrate. Hooray, hooray, hooray! Only fresh-smelling students in my class! For the most part, I don't have to hone my student-interrupting skills, which I hate to do. (Stinky Girl (aka "designated mess") also liked to make lengthy, lengthy comments - okay, comments is a misnomer - monologue is more like it - which ultimately had nothing to do with the class discussion for that day. You have no idea how vexing it is to watch your four hour class slip away from you because Stinky Girl is going on about subliminal messages in Disney films. Finally, an unsympathetic tenured professor gave me the unceremonious whack on the side of my head I needed and told me to (duh!) interrupt the damn girl and move. on.) It's really been lovely.

Until. Yesterday, I got an e-mail from a student in my fall section. He was asking me for the title of our textbook - preferably by ISBN number. Question: Why do students have NO problem e-mailing me with questions - all kinds of questions and favors: I can't get to the online study guide - can you print me a copy and bring it to class? What is the ISBN number for the text book? Can you write me a letter so I can get out of jury duty and hurry it up, please, because the letter was due yesterday, you stupid whore! And yet, their fingers all unfathomably wither up and snap off when it comes time to type, "Thank you." What's wrong with writing, "I got the letter you e-mailed to me and gave it to my parole officer and now I won't get re-arrested so THANK YOU." Hmm?!?! Would that be so damn difficult? But I digress. I guess if I were truly interested in being treated with some consideration, I would not have gone into education.

Anyway, Mr. ISBN student didn't say, "Hello, Teacher Lady. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Manners McMannersen and I'm a student in your fall Human Sexuality class." It was just, "I need the name of the textbook. Ideally, by ISBN. Later, Rudely McSniderton." So I decided I'd better check my fall roster, just in case this clown actually belonged in someone else's class this fall.

And what smacked me right between the eyes? Stinky Girl's name. There she is. Sitting there, stinking up the joint, on my fall roster.

And here I thought I had narrowly escaped. Sigh. I wonder if I'm allowed to bring scented candles to class - or would the fire marshal frown upon that, do you think?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Cupid & Psyche

My blog skin designer, Julie, over at Bookworm, asked this question last week: Do you have a favorite painting? And I do. It is this one. It has been this one since I saw it when I was in the eighth grade.

I won't bore you with the details, since an Art Nerd I am not, but two of the things I just love: The look on Cupid's face and the fact that he is not going to sneak away so easily: Check out his left heel caught in the sheet. Psyche is sleeping on his wing and he is probably going to trip on that bow. I wonder if there is some kind of psychological test that indicates a correlation between favorite paintings and future career choices? 'Cause if there isn't, I think there probably should be.


Friday, July 07, 2006

In Honor of Thumper's Father

When I was just a wee lass, one of the first movies I ever saw was Bambi. I must have really liked it, because my parents were always asking me, "Now remember: What did Thumper's father say?" And of course, for those of you who missed this important staple of childhood brainwashing the answer is, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Does anyone besides me find it ironic that that was one of the earliest lessons my parents tried to teach me? And clearly, it didn't stick? I'm more of the Claree Belcher from Steel Magnolias mindset: "If you can't say anything nice about somebody, come and sit by me."

But, even I am exhausted from all the snarkiness and negativity as of late, so I decided to say some nice things about . . . some nice things. Note: This will not be like the O list from Oprah magazine. Because the "O list" ('a few things I think are just neat-o' or whatever) is just off-the-charts obnoxious. Who can afford napkin rings that are $425 - EACH!?! Or the $695 Burberry purse on her "Christmas gift suggestions for 2005" list? C'mon, Oprah! Put down the crack pipe and remember your humble roots.

A few things I (Teacher Lady) think are just neat-o:
  • The new Haagen Dazs Mayan chocolate ice cream. This is a big deal for me to write this, because I am not a chocolate addict. As you may recall, I like cheap, crappy, sugary candy like SweetTarts and Sour Patch kids. But this new ice cream? A true "must have."
  • The Starbucks Green Tea Latte. Yummy and refreshing!
  • This lipstick. It's heavier than a lipgloss, yet not quite a lipstick. It is the perfect combination of both. I like the Chai Love You color. Great for summer!
  • If you, like me, are entering perimenopause, and happen to be bewildered by the sudden freaking out of your once-clear skin, I have found the solution: Not too drying, not too moisturizing. The Goldilocks of acne-prone skin: Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser.
  • For the angry blemish that happens to bust through security, I highly recommend this: A bit pricey, but totally worth it and it lasts a long time.
  • Looking for the perfect quick summer read and just as irritated with the complete and total disappearance of manners as moi? Then here, my friends, is the book for you! Oh, how I wish I'd written it myself.
  • I'm sorry, I don't care how skanky you think Christina Aquilera is. Her new song is amazing. Lordy, that girl has pipes!
  • Is your air conditioner broken? Then head to your local Multiplex and take in The Devil Wears Prada. Will it win any Oscars? No, of course not. But it has Meryl Streep and fashion. The clothes! The bags! The shoes, oh my gob, the shoes! It's like a red-white-and-blue popsicle for the mind. No nutritional value and not something you'd want to taste every single day, but perfect for that hot summer day. Or you can just watch the trailers over and over. I do.

And, as Meryl Streep says (playing the terrifying Miranda Priestly), "That's all."

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

My Name is Not Katie

I guess you know you've made quite an impression on your students when one of them e-mails you and the salutation is this:

Hey Katie this is Roberta I am sorry to write this but I wont be in class tonight.

Now, I don't know what offends my delicate sensibilities the most: Could it be the complete and total lack of punctuation? Or the fact that I have been addressed not as "Hello" or "Dear" but as "Hey"? Or (finally), could it be the fact that my name is not Katie? My name doesn't start with the letter "K." It doesn't rhyme with Katie. It's not Kate or Kathleen or anything even remotely resembling Katie and yet . . . here I am. Teacher Katie.

On a different note, I actually like this student quite a bit. She's funny and entertaining. However, her father is a physician and she wrote to tell me that he has non Hotchkins (spelling is hers, not mine). And, she has also mentioned on more than one occasion that she attended a private, very exclusive boarding school during her high school years. Apparently, they don't teach spelling there. I don't know what you get for your $50,000 a year, but it ain't a dictionary.

Signing off,

Teacher Katie

Sunday, July 02, 2006

People Are Asshats

I'm exhausted. I just got home from working a wedding. 10 hours yesterday; only 7 today. I also have a 15-page paper due tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. that is not quite finished (and only barely started for that matter) but I just have to say this:

When your day begins with touching up your makeup in the public restroom of a very posh hotel and then your makeup application is interrupted by a complete stranger crashing into the bathroom, running over to the sink next to you and then vomiting violently into it, you can take it in one of two ways:

Way one: Really, your day can only go up from here, or:

Way two: It is a bad omen - a harbinger of really, really bad things to come.

In my case, it was way #2.

Stay tuned.