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.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why We Are Bitter

There are lots of conversations going on all over the web about why we teach college if we think students are so horrible. Why are we so evil and mean-spirited and why do we post our students' e-mails on the Internet if we're truly "educators"? Can't we be more compassionate? After all, surely we weren't perfect when we were undergrads, right? Honestly, aren't they just kids? Can't we cut them a break now and then? Don't we all make mistakes?

You truly cannot grasp the complexity of emotions that accompanies teaching until you've done it. Believe me, three years ago, I would have been on the "Boo! Hiss!" wagon of do-gooders who thought professors were cold and heartless and students were people, too and bang the drum of empathy and understanding, ad nauseum.

But this explains it, better than I ever could. And this happened to me my first semester teaching (and it has happened at least once every semester since), the only difference being I lived 44 miles away from campus (not 30) and my student called me to tell me she had "something going on" and a colleague of mine saw her walking into Subway at our appointment meeting time. I guess the something going on was lunch. Although I might have been more pissed if it were Homecoming banners.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You

I'm a NaBloPoMo drop-out. Can I go to summer school? Get the equivalent of a GED?

Those of you who know me IRL know that I can procrastinate like it's nobody's business. In fact, in undergrad, I medaled (gold, thank you) in the procrastination Olympics.

Procrastination in grad school is a different kettle of fish altogether because you're actually expected to be coherent and know stuff. If you want to know the unplanned pregnancy rates of young women in Nigeria, I'm your gal. If you want to know where this blog entry is going or where the hell my car keys are, I have no idea.

Last night while I was driving home, I had this BRILLIANT idea for a blog posting. Truly - it was great. And then this morning I was trying to type it up and it's not the same at all. In fact, it sucks. (And no, I'm not fishing for compliments - too tired to do any sort of fishing.)

But, knowing myself and knowing that two days away from posting could quickly become two weeks and then two months . . . I forced myself to get right back on the wagon. Or the horse. I'm not sure which is the relevant analogy in this case.

This Stupid List I Made Up Last Night that Seemed Really Witty at the Time. It is called:

Really Fun Things about the End of the Semester
  • You never really know exactly how much sleep you need to stay awake while driving until you test yourself, right?
  • Not only do you know all the names of the toll booth operators, but you have favorites.
  • Your dog is always extra excited to see you – largely because she thinks you’re a stranger invading her home.
  • All the things that kept your mind swirling in a mad cyclone of angst – the war in Iraq, the 3% drop in the average home price, Gilmore Girls going completely in the toilet – they no longer upset you. Mostly because you can’t remember what upsets you. Actually, life seems pretty damn great! From what you can remember of it.
  • No sleep + no food = pants falling off of you during your presentation. It’s educational! It’s risqué! No, it’s two types of public humiliation at once!
  • For the first time ever, you can truly understand how people fall asleep while driving. (Mom, I hope you’re not reading this! Look away! Look away from the computer!) It’s important to develop empathy for others, right?
  • You are now intimately familiar with all the stupid “energy” drinks – Red Bull, Rock Star, Tommy Lee on ‘Roids, whatever – and when dining out you can make good recommendations about what type of high-fructose corn syrup goes with what. Your friends are really impressed!
  • You realize that coherent thoughts are highly overrated.
  • You save lots of money on alcohol because you don’t need to drink – you can already fall asleep while standing up.
  • Your students’ papers begin to make sense. A lot of sense. Finally.
  • After spending hours each day in the car (sensing a theme, here?) and listening to the radio station that plays “All Christmas, All the damn time,” you realize the song “We Need a Little Christmas” is really deep. It’s got, like, secret meanings and stuff. No, really.
  • You’ve lost the will to make obscene gestures at bad drivers. Sleep deprivation is making you a better human being!
  • Being awake at 3:00 a.m. gives the mind time to explore complex issues. Like WHY is there now Secret deodorant with “sparkles”? It’s not enough for that area to be clean-shaven and stink-free, now it has to be glittery, too?
  • Except for wondering about glittery armpits, by and large, self-maintenance has become a thing of the past. After all, in some cultures, enormous eyebrows and bloody cuticles are considered sexy. Right? Right!?!
  • You compile a lame list of things that aren’t really funny and make sense to no one but you and post them on your blog.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Professional Opinion

Last week, I was out with a bunch of health doc students. We got into this conversation about what it means to be a "Professor of Health." In order to be taken seriously, do you have to be a "role model" or can you pretty much do whatever the hell you want as long as you're cranking out the research?

My argument was that you don't have to be perfect, but you have to set a fairly decent example. After all, would you go to an accountant who had filed for bankruptcy? Would you go to a personal trainer who was 300 pounds and smoked while s/he coached you through your workout?

But - the problem with the notion of "health" and setting a good example is that it's so broad. If you look at the current health professors in my department, of course, none of them smoke. That makes sense to me - and I also like that one because I don't smoke either. 90% of them do not drink alcohol. Ever. Strike one for me. I'm not exactly gunning for AA membership, but I do likes me a glass of wine with dinner. 90% of them exercise regularly. A few of them might be teetering on the brink of exercise addiction. Huh? What? Exercise? I don't remember what that is. Strike two for me. Almost all of them eat really, really healthy. In fact, one eats so healthy that most of us can't even look at the food she brings in because it's THAT disgusting. (Lots of steamed squashes as entrees and lots of unrecognizable whole grains.) I try to get in my daily servings of fruits and vegetables, but I also like some crappy food now and then. In my field, this is akin to worshipping Satan. In fact, for the past two years, I've gotten bitched at for bringing my left-over Halloween candy into the office. (There was lots - we didn't get any trick-or-treaters.) I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

So, one of my fellow doc students was bemoaning the fact that she might not be taken seriously when she is a professor because of her size. Personally, I think she looks fine. She's very curvy, but she's also very tall and broad-shouldered, so I don't look at her and think, "Morbidly obese. At risk for Diabetes and other obesity-related causes of mortality." As we tried to give her a pep talk, another colleague said, "No one is perfectly healthy. Remember, there are so many dimensions of health - not just physical, but emotional, mental, spiritual, etc., After all, look at Teacher Lady. She's skinny, but she's a wreck."

How sad and pathetic (and how much of a wreck) am I that in a split second I went from really insulted to all gushy-grateful, "You think I'm skinny!!! Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!" I think I just heard that "mental health" dimension disappearing. Oh, well.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

I've Arrived at My Last Neurotransmitter

And it's a dead end. All the other ones have been burned up by this stupid NaBloPoMo. I'm out of thoughts.

So, I'm finally reaching for the post I said I'd do - except I'm totally half-assing it. If the construction guys in my head decide to build a bridge, I may go back later and try to link to each of these crazy searchers. But I doubt it.

Today alone, 5 people have gotten here by Santa Baby. Now that one I understand (and remember). But "unexpected gay kidnapping" - from someone in Belgium, no less - not so much.

Anyway, me and my sad little last burned out transmitter give you, random weird interesting strange disturbing searches that have brought people to my humble blog:

Ford Windstar

hollaback stalkers

double d lady

bumps on scrodum

woman has sex with rabbits

Harry hamlin’s wife

Purse mary louise parker weeds

Brother and sister love

Hair body wave Minneapolis

Eyebrow pressure

Blinded by the light lyrics analysis

My husband has an undescended testicle. Can we still have kids?

Unexpected kidnapping

Drive-thru crossdresser

She don’t know me Bon Jovi grammar mistake.

Lie to me baby

Chicken pocks + spell


Kind rude behaviour infuriates

GOB turn pennies dollars

Lady teach in classroom

Biblical answers plastic surgery

crossing her legs masturbate in public

My first sex dog teacher

rapt sex

free first pelvic exam video

Chicken pocks third times

Sister raises her skirt

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Friday, November 24, 2006

A Moment of Silence

Folks, let us take a moment of silence to honor our brothers and sisters who are suffering today in the world of retail. I myself am a seasoned retail veteran. Ten Christmases in a retail environment. Somewhere in heaven, a purple heart of retail awaits me. If you’ve never experienced the swirling vortex of chaos that is retail during the holidays, you cannot understand.

A few “Teacher Lady Tales of Christmas Past” to help you empathize with your brethren currently trying to just survive the trenches of Macy’s, Borders, Ann Taylor, Abercrombie & Fitch, Williams-Sonoma, The Limited, et al.

Dreaming of a White Christmas
A young, harried mother of 4 high-spirited boys basically crashed into this rather large, snooty “for the person who has everything store” where I labored one winter break during college. At the front of the store (why, gob, WHY?) was a display of very heavy, very expensive snow globes. The wee cherubs had apparently not had their Ritalin and each seized a snow globe and started shaking it like Bobby Brown used to shake Whitney. (Oh, Teacher Lady! Domestic violence is no joke! Shame on you!) I was quickly marching over there to stop this shake-a-thon when little Tommy (or Timmy – whatever) dropped a snow globe. There was a fantastically loud crash and pieces of glass and that fake snow stuff went flying. What did Mom do? I suppose she did what any mother of four boys under the age of 7 would do. She quickly looked around to see if anyone was watching – obviously instantly determined that I had no legitimate power, grabbed her kids and ran. That was fun. I enjoyed cleaning that up. Mom of 4 boys, wherever you are, if you never get another Christmas present in your life, it’s because ME cleaning up shards of wet glass (in short shag carpeting, no less) was the best Christmas present you’d ever get.

Big Things Come in Big Packages

One holiday season during graduate school, I worked full-time as a gift wrapper at a mall. Good times. I am still amazed at how demanding and bitchy people can be when something is available to them for FREE. Yeah, that’s right. Free (and damn good, if I don’t say so myself) gift wrapping. Three colors of paper: Red, cream and purple and two choices of bows – silver or gold. Pretty easy, right? Because seriously, if I could get somebody to wrap my presents for me (did I mention the “for free” part), I would be happy with just about anything. Happy Birthday wrapping paper? Perfect. After all, Christmas is celebrating Jesus’s birthday, right? Newspaper? A reminder to all of us about the “Good news” the angels told to the shepherds minding their flocks by night. Plastic bubble wrap? Just a visual representation of me bubbling over with holiday joy. And yet. Do you know how many people said, “Purple!? That’s not even a holiday color. And red and cream? How boring? Don’t you have anything with trees/stars/angels/elves/Santa/mood elevators on it?” And I had to stand there and smile and say politely, “No, I’m sorry. Just the three colors of really thick, nearly indestructible wrapping paper and if you’ve gotten a paper cut from it – as I have several - you’d think your thumb had been sliced open by a scalpel, but sorry, no. I can see why you’re upset when you’re getting your presents wrapped FREE of charge by me. However, I do have numerous paper cuts that have not healed and I am happy to sprinkle blood all over the cream-colored paper in an effort to make a festive snowflake design.” Also: Have you ever tried to WRAP a fucking croquet set from Brookstone? That sucker doesn’t exactly come in a box. Imagine trying to neatly gift-wrap a squirming, 25-pound child. It’s kind of like that. Except when you’re finished wrestling the stupid thing into submission, the giver of the croquet set makes an unpleasant face and says, “That’s not very pretty.”

Shook Like a Bowl Full of Jelly
I worked at Williams-Sonoma for two Christmas seasons. My co-workers were fabulous. The discount wasn't half-bad, either. But when I'm carrying a freakin' Kitchen-Aid mixer that weighs a ton AND trying to wrap it in the unweildy pineapple wrapping paper, do NOT cut in line to tell me that we're out of that stupid free cider and your kid wants some. And also, will we be making more (FREE) gingerbread soon, because we're also out of that, and little Mikey is starving. Because guess what? When there are 20 other PAYING customers in front of you, trying to get their stuff and get on with their miserable lives, YOUR "problem" isn't really at the top of my list. In fact, it's not even on my list, okay? Go to the food court and buy your kid some fried crap like every other parent in the free world. After all, McDonald's spends a third of its marketing budget trying to lure in your tykes, so go be the consumers they want you to be.

Now, I can't honestly blame shoppers for this one, because many W-S stores are a little crowded. I think it's fair to say that if you're the proverbial "bull in a china shop," you may want to send in your friend while you wait on one of the fake park benches in the middle of the mall. (Aside: When I was little, I was even more uncoordinated than I am now. I was often warned to be careful and not be "a bull in a china shop." For some reason that my therapist and I cannot yet figure out, I thought this was a HUGE insult - and also, equivalent to profanity. (Might have been due to the fact that I also misheard it and thought my mom was saying "You're a bullina china shot," which actually is an insult in many cultures.) When I got mad at my mother, I would mutter under my breath, "You're a bull in a china shop!" and felt evil and gleeful all at the same time. After all, what kind of a four-year-old was I, calling my mother such a horrible name?) One day, I had just assembled a lovely display of their cranberry compote or apricot chutney or some other fake-festive Christmas food. I had only taken two steps when I had "that feeling." I turned around in time to see a very tall, very thin young woman going to hug someone she recognized and her pointy elbow knocked into my chutney display, and - damn do those jars crash and shatter on those hard-wood floors. She said "Oops!" and then giggled and then also ran away. Sigh. Glass and cranberry compote. Also a lot of fun to clean up. Lots.

Oh, I could go on for hours. But I won't. Just remember, if you're shopping this weekend, the people who are ringing up your purchases and answering your questions and keeping your toddler from sticking a safety pin in an electrical outlet (this actually happened to me when I was working at A&F) have a LONG month ahead of them. Be patient. Be understanding. And for cryin' out loud, keep your bony little elbows away from the damn chutney!

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Like This Needs to Be Said:

I am thankful that (surprise! For once!) the American people have said not just "no", but "hell no" to OJ Simpson's book. And no, I'm not going to link to any online articles about it.

I am often frustrated with Americans. I feel like we typically put the em-PHASS-is on the wrong syl-LAB-ble. We've got all kinds of problems and yet, from listening to or watching any kind of media, you'd think the only thing happening in the whole entire world was "Tom-Kat's wedding." Gag. Who wants to start a betting pool on number of months they'll be married? But I digress.

For once, I am proud of the American people. Or proud of someone remotely related to someone in America somewhere. Because a book called "If I Did It, Here's How" or something equally ludicrous is just about the cheapest shot I've ever seen a publisher take. And according to a book I'm reading, Judith Regan in considered both the "most feared and most powerful woman in publishing." And somebody has finally shut her down.

I don't know much about the publishing industry, and I don't even know exactly who said, "This is really inappropriate and in extremely poor taste," but I would like to buy him or her a drink. Or several.

And also, I'm sorry this post sucks. Too much turkey and too much red wine makes Teacher Lady a really crappy blogger. Plus, just in case I needed another excuse, NaBloPoMo is really starting to fry all my synapses.

Hope you all had a save and healthy Thanksgiving.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Breaking Up

It's been coming for some time. Things just weren't the same. He wasn't listening to me anymore. I told him about the things he did that made me unhappy and he said he'd fix them, but he never did. Yesterday, I woke up and it was the last straw.

I left my hairdresser for another woman.

We started our new relationship today. Already, I feel different. She listens to me. She understands my past and my present. She "gets" my shortcomings and weaknesses but doesn't use them as an excuse not to do her job.

I figured she was the best person to ask about being dumped. After all, it happens to everyone eventually. And he doesn't even know I've left yet. Typical. It will be at least 3 weeks before he even notices I'm gone.

She suggested honesty - and of course, courtesy and kindness. "You should send him a note. Let him know why you finally had to leave. At least he will know and he won't be up at night, wondering what he did wrong, or if there was anything he could have done to save the relationship."

Okay, so this was obviously tongue-in-cheek, but yet it is such a serious issue that it warranted its own Seinfeld episode. How do you "break up" with your hairdresser? Can you just "stop calling" or does it depend on how long you were together? What if you see him out in public? Are you just supposed to act like nothing happened? But just by looking at you, he can see you're with someone new. And how can that not hurt a person? He's still waiting by the phone, doodling your name in his appointment book and you have so clearly moved on.

Question du jour: Have you ever had to "break up" with a hairdresser? Did you ever "cheat" on your hairdresser? Break up and get back together? Try to be in more than one relationship at a time? (That would be the person who goes to one salon for color and a completely different one for cut.) What, exactly, is the protocol here? I believe my new hairdresser that sending a kind "Sorry it's over, but here's why" note is probably the mature thing to do. But when have I ever been mature? That's right, never. Would you send a note?

Inquiring minds really do want to know.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bits & Pieces

Because none of the topics below merit their own post, I present to you bits and pieces of my fabulously exciting life. (I can hardly stand the suspense either - have you fastened your seatbelts?) Then again, with my ability to ramble on endlessly about absolutely nothing, who knows? I might get ten or eleven posts out of this.


I missed Gilmore Girls tonight. Did I really miss anything?


Should I be worried that lately people at school have been saying to me, “We’re worried about you”? At first I was touched, but then I decided it’s sort of like when you walk into a room and somebody says, “Oh wow – are you sick as a dog or what?” and the answer is no. Or, if you want to make a person really squirm, the answer is, “As a matter of fact, I’m the picture of health. Why do you ask?” And then the person has to say, “Uh, no reason.” Or, “You’re just – um – a little pale or something. Maybe it’s the lighting.”

One of the good things about having a very sensitive “vex-reflex” (hey, that rhymes! Look at me! I can rhyme and I have the attention span of a gnat!) is that I am also easily delighted and amused. Tonight I went to a brand-spanking-new Target. And they had a Starbucks. INSIDE. I marched right up and got myself a non-fat gingerbread latte. Then, I kept looking for signs reading, “Please enjoy your beverage before shopping and grabbing toiletries, etc., etc.” But I didn’t see any. When my latte came up, I asked the barista, “Can I drink this while I shop????!” She looked at me like I was insane. “Yeah.” What more was there to say? “Really?!” I can always find more to say. “Yeah, really.” “Oh, wow,” I said. “Thank you!” I know she wasn’t sure why I was thanking her. And then I shopped and drank my gingerbread latte at the SAME. TIME. It was all I could do to not call my friends and say, “You’re never going to guess what I’m doing right now. I’m walking through Target buying shampoo and new mittens and I’m drinking a piping hot Gingerbread Latte!” I was very excited and throughout the whole shopping trip, I just kept marveling to myself, “I’m shopping AND drinking Starbucks at the same freakin’ time. What will they think of next!?” See? I’ll be thrilled about this for the next 3 days, at least.

Somebody - anybody - everybody, please tell me that Victoria's Secret bras fit strangely. Otherwise, I may have to look into very expensive surgery. I don't care if you're a man who happens to be a drag queen. Just tell me they suck.

I always said I wouldn’t be one of those bloggers who posts about their dreams, because honestly, unless you’re a psychoanalyst, who the hell cares? And now I’m eating my blogging code of ethics because I have a recurring nightmare that the stupid dream websites don’t interpret to my satisfaction. Read: I don’t like the interpretation – and I don’t think it’s relevant, so maybe you can help me. Here it is (Remember, I did say details from my fascinating life!): I wake up (in my dream) and start spitting out my teeth. VERY disturbing because, 1.) I like my teeth where they are, and 2.) Spitting teeth is disturbing. I manage to grab a Ziploc bag which happens to be right near by. (We do not keep Ziploc bags in our bedroom – I wanted to make that perfectly clear.) I then spit what is left of my teeth into the Ziploc bag and now they’re not even teeth – they’re like broken pieces of teeth and I just keep spitting and the pieces keep getting smaller and smaller until they’re basically just finely ground gravel. I then take my Ziploc bag of teeth to the dentist and present it to him, like he’s actually going to do something with it – you know, “You’re the dentist – you can fix anything – just work your magic and make these back into teeth and let’s get ‘em where they belong.” And he looks at me like I’m crazy and tells me that basically I’ve given him a bag of gravel and he can’t help me. Then I feel complete deep and utter horror and helplessness. I’ve lost my teeth. I have truly done something that is irreversible. I can’t “unring that bell.” That’s actually the worst part of the dream – something went wrong and there is no way to fix it. The stupid dream websites talk about “needing to be heard” or in some cases teeth represent financial stuff (huh?) and the dream means you’re worried about financial security. I never had this dream until I started living alone, just after I broke up with my first post-divorce boyfriend (when I was around 30). All through the dating fiascoes I had it repeatedly and although it’s decreased in frequency, I still have it about once a month. (Hmm . . . can dreams be “hormonally driven”? I mean, other than pregnancy dreams?). If you’re still reading, I want to know if 1.) You have this dream and 2.) What you think it means.

I have stopped believing in the theory of natural selection. An OB/GYN told me that a young woman came to her who has having problems with the patch – her method of birth control – like breakthrough bleeding and a few other symptoms that weren’t resolving themselves with time. The doctor examined the young woman and found that she had cut her patch into the shape of a Playboy Bunny. This is a person whose birth control is going to fail. THESE are the people who should be procreating!? If you buy into the whole “survival of the fittest,” how the hell do you explain this!?

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Monday Movie Madness!

This weekend, we watched two movies:




Anyone seen them?

Brick was extremely, extremely disturbing in a way that only an indie film can be disturbing. And yet, if you're in a violent, strange mood, it might be just the movie for you. I'd give it 3 demented, bloody open-wound stars (out of four.)

The blurb on the back of the 11:14 box compared it (or itself?) to Crash. No "lessons" or hard questions that can't be answered, but the design of the movie (one event shows how many people in this small crappy town are linked) was supposedly similar. And? For a movie I'd never even heard of before Friday night, some very well-known actors - Barbara Hershey, Patrick Swayze and Hilary Swank for cripes sake! I think it also had something in common with the movies Sliding Doors and Memento, if only from a "we're really gonna mess with the time-space continuum and if you don't pay rapt attention, you'll be so completely confused you won't even know if you liked it or not." Although Mr. J. and I had to pause it at least half a dozen times to check in and confirm details about what the hell had just happened, I liked it. And less than an hour and a half long. I liked THAT a lot. I give it three and a half very disoriented stars (out of 4.) Rated R for one of the creepiest sex scenes I've seen in a long time.

What did you watch this weekend?

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

I'm Only Brave on My Blog

I think I've considered myself a feminist from the time I learned the word and truly grasped what it meant. After all, I was born in 1970 - even in utero, you don't experience the 70s and not come away completely unaffected.

I didn't take Mr. J.'s last name (you're thinking, CRIPES - we KNOW that already, lady! Do you really need to beat us over the head with it?), I always knew I would have a "career" - whatever that meant - and I was never quite hip on the whole "children" thing, if only because I'm inherently lazy (yes, I've also mentioned this) and didn't see too many dads doing the heavy lifting of parenthood, if you catch my drift.

And yet. I must have absorbed quite a few of society's messages about what it means to "be a woman" and those messages have been duking it out in my psyche with the feminist messages for the past 36 years. Who will win? I'm still not sure.

Recently, I met a friend out for dinner. I was excited about this. Big people dinner. No students, no advisors, no college bar food. No draft beer, no bathrooms that made a truck stop seem posh, etc., etc., etc., I drove all the way into the city (in the pouring rain, I might add) and found parking for the grownups (that's parking that requires payment and does NOT feature a sign that reads, "Expectant Mothers Only") and walked proudly through the city wearing my big girl, "I am too a professional if only for the day" clothes.

About the same time I walked into the restaurant, my friend phoned me. She had gotten sucked into an urgent meeting and was running late. "If you're starving, please eat something. Don't wait for me. I'll get there as soon as I can." I had planned for just such a thing. I had stopped at a drug store and picked up the new Vanity Fair. I was going to sit at the highly polished bar, enjoy a lovely glass of Pinot Noir and inhale each and every page of that Vanity Fair as if it were cocaine.

Aside: No, I don't have kids, so I'm not 100% sure why this alone time felt so scandalously luxurious. Maybe it's because the dog wasn't barking or doing something she wasn't supposed to be doing. The phone wasn't ringing and a pile of ungraded papers wasn't staring at me screaming, "Hey, slacker! We're not going to grade ourselves, you know!" I wasn't surrounded by needy students asking for an extension on their papers because Pop-pop's girlfriend (who is "almost, like, a grandmother or something to me") was in the hospital being treated for gout. I wasn't trapped in a classroom, listening to a professor pontificate on his own brilliance while I did my best to look genuinely fascinated. Nor was I in my office (which I share with 8 other doc students - and oh? Did I mention my office is the size of a broom closet?), trying to have 6 or 7 intellectually stimulating conversations at the same time. And for just that moment, I felt like I was back in my corporate life again - somebody credible, somebody who knew what she was doing, somebody "grown up." Because let's face it: No matter how old you are when you're a student, there is still something about being a student that makes you - okay, probably just me - feel somewhat like an insignificant, not-exactly-tax-paying member of society. Five years ago, if someone said, "What did you do today?" I had an answer - usually one that sounded pretty cool, like, "I made this pitch to an internal client after working my ass off on it for 3 months and he absolutely freakin' loved it!" And now? "What did you do today" is typically answered by something like, "I revised my lesson plan for next week's class, I read 6 peer-reviewed journal articles, I bought 6 different types of lubricant to bring to class where we will discuss the dangers of oil-based lubricants, I took the dog out and I . . . aw, hell, I don't remember."

Where was I going with this?

Oh, yes. So, I had my glass of Pinot Noir, my Vanity Fair, my seat at the bar and (relative) peace and quiet. After about 15 minutes, I was kind of hungry so I asked the bartender for a menu. I couldn't believe my eyes: The most glorious thing, especially for a rainy day: A grilled Camembert cheese sandwich! WITH tomatoes!! Sign me up!

My sandwich arrived uneventfully, as sandwiches typically do. I was just unrolling my (cloth) napkin, ready to up my current level of bliss, when he sat down next to me. Probably 10 years younger than me, not necessarily creepy, but definitely clueless. Hel-lo!? Wedding ring?! And also? I'm EATING!!!! (Or trying to, anyway.) Eating a meal in a big-people restaurant (although, admittedly, grilled cheese isn't exactly a big-people meal), enjoying my wine and Vanity Fair and life was about as perfect as it gets.

"Well, hello!" said annoying 26-year-old who was probably gay but didn't yet realize it. "Are you from around here?" he asked me cheerily.

And here's where I kick myself. And kick myself and kick myself. I answered him. Politely. Like I was the freakin’ Welcome Wagon or something. Because a lady is always polite and gracious. Because some men still have no problem interrupting a woman who is alone, regardless of what she is doing because . . . why? If she’s alone, sitting at a bar, eating a gooey cheese sandwich she must be “asking for company”? Because nothing I’m doing is more important than his being bored or lonely or whatever?

Personally, I cannot imagine seeing a man at a bar who was reading the paper and eating his dinner and CLEARLY enjoying himself and plunking myself down next to him and saying, “Hi! Watchya readin’?” Why? Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps because it’s un-fucking-believably rude.

Since I answered him politely, I guess I had signaled to both of us that the conversational door was now opened. Permanently. He was from out of town. He was in town for a wedding. None of the other members of the wedding party had arrived yet so he was on his own for the evening. What were the fun things to do in this fair city of mine? Did I like this restaurant? Where was I going after this? What did I do? Oh, wait, who cares? He had a fascinating, scintillating life as a tennis pro. He knew Andre. And Steffi. And everybody. He bet I’d never met a tennis pro before. Wasn’t I so lucky?

And me? I found myself adopting the face I use in some of my classes – the “Gob, I’m so bored I could scream but that’s rude so I’ll sit here and try to look interested,” face.

But you know what? I don’t blame him. Honestly. Even though he didn’t go away when my friend showed up. Even though he didn’t really go away for HOURS because apparently we were his new best pals. Plus, isn't any woman flattered by any male attention?

I blame myself. Because for all my feminist ranting on this blog, when push comes to shove, I’m about as much of a feminist as Rush Limbaugh. I can talk the talk, but I can’t walk the walk. I’m really outspoken and bossy and brave. When it doesn’t matter. When it counts, I’m a spineless jellyfish. WHY didn’t I say, “I’m meeting someone,” when he pulled up a chair and sat next to me (completely uninvited) and then go back to paging through my Vanity Fair and eating my sandwich and pretending he didn’t exist? Because that would have been assertive. Which, clearly, on some subconscious level, I associate with rude. And a “lady” is never supposed to be rude. She is supposed to be flattered by and welcome any and all male attention because . . . again, I’m flummoxed.

Perhaps, if I had finished that glass of Pinot Noir, and been almost through my second, I might have said something slurry like, “I’m partish-ipating in a university experiment and I’m not shupposed to speak to shtrangers.”

Because a lie would have been more palatable than the truth. Because I don’t think I have ever said, “I’m enjoying my own company and would prefer to be left alone, thank you.” That’s polite. And it’s pretty damn clear. But his feelings are more important than my immediate needs, so I sucked it up. And let my sandwich sit there until it was cold. And then kicked myself for days and days and quite frankly? I haven’t stopped yet.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Is It Acceptable for a Grown Woman to Smell Like a Gingerbread House?

Wait, don't answer that. For today, it's too late.

The last time I visited Bath & Body Works, I bought this. You know, me, Christmas/Christmas, me. We're like this. (Cue mental image of index and middle finger crossed tightly in universal sign for inappropriate relationship between human being and holiday.)

It's one of those annoying 27-in-1 products. You know, I'm a shampoo, I'm a bubble bath, you can use me to wash your dishes AND your car, I'm also a dog shampoo, a floor cleaner and a cocktail if you add rum. So my plan was just to use it as hand soap and leave it at that. I don't like to encourage over-achievers. They can be so smug and presumptuous.

But this morning, I was out of my Aveeno shaving gel (of course - I'm always out of something) and I figured using the 3-in-1 Gingerbread Explosion wouldn't be a bad substitute. And hell, while I'm in here, I might as well just use it as a shower gel, too. But not the shampoo - NEVER the shampoo. My stylist would take out a hit on me if he found out I did that.

And now, as I march around, doing Saturday chores and running Saturday errands, I keep looking over my shoulder, expecting to see a giant gingerbread man following me. (Note to self: Must. Stop. Eating. Dog. Tranquilizers.)

In our sexuality textbook, the authors wrote something about men finding the scents of doughnuts, pumpkin pie and black licorice most arousing, so if I want to attract a bunch of weirdos who were interviewed by the authors of a human sexuality textbook, I guess I'm all set. (Gingerbread being in the same neighborhood as pumpkin pie, I think.)

So, what's the rule, anyway? WWAWD? That's "What Would Anna Wintour Do?" for you non-Vogue readers. My hunch is, she'd rather be doused with fake blood (which, you know, she should be used to by now) than dip her limbs in anything smelling like gingerbread. I guess I have my answer.

Signing off, with much shame, Teacher "I'm really a human, not a Christmas decoration" Lady.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

And I Thought I Had Problems

While driving to school this morning, I had the opportunity to hear this priceless exchange between a DJ and a caller:

Female caller: Hi, can you play "Ain't No Other Man" by Christina Aguilera?
DJ: Sure, and is that going out to anyone special?
FC: Yeah, my boyfriend Ted.
DJ: And where is Ted this morning?
FC: Jail.
DJ: Silence.
FC: So, if you could play it really soon, because I think they're only allowed to listen to the radio from 8:00 - 10:00 a.m.
DJ: S-s-sure. This is going out to Ted. In jail.
FC: Awesome! Thanks so much.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Today's Post is Brought to You by the Letter "F"

As in "Flunk." As in "Failing." As in "Founder, Flounder, Flop and Fizzle." As in, "Somebody really Fucked up and I don't think it was me."

You know that episode of Seinfeld where George says something along the lines of, "It's not you, it's me"?

No matter how long I teach, I think I will always struggle with this: Yesterday students took midterm. Last night, I graded midterm. Today, I played around with the results - average, standard deviation, commonly missed questions, etc., And guess what? The results were, um, pretty f---ing lousy.

So now I go through my Seinfeld-esque question: Is it them? Or is it me? Was my exam too difficult? Or did they not study enough? Did I not spend enough time lecturing? Or did they spend too much time looking at the clock, wishing it was 2:30 already?

Experienced lecturers, teachers, instructors, professors, please weigh in: How do you know if/when an exam is "too difficult"? How do you know when to say (if only mentally) to your students, "It's not you, it's me"?

Mr. J. has been teaching college kids for quite some time. He says that the average score I came up with is not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, if it were any higher, I would be guilty of throwing them a nice, underhand, um, lob? Softball? I know nothing about sports, clearly. Let's be creative and add another "f" and say I would be guilty of grade inFlation.

But, they did a lot worse than they did on the first exam. A. lot. worse. Only TWO students did better on this exam than they did on the first one. In true Teacher Lady fashion, I present to you a multiple choice question of sorts. My students did poorly on this exam and that can best be explained by (check all that apply):

  • I warned them about the first exam being extremely difficult (which I did) and subsequently put the fear of gob in them and so they did fairly well. This gave them a false sense of confidence which led to less studying and thus, that loud flunking sound heard throughout the land yesterday was the result.
  • I should have warned them to study for the second exam. I did not threaten, cajole and scare the living daylights out of them, so they didn't study and this is what happens.
  • I spent too much time trying to use the classroom for application, with the expectation that they could read the text on their own. (And this raises a whole other post about textbooks: Base your lecture heavily on the text, and you get whiny evals that say, "All she did was lecture from the book - I could have done the reading on my own and just taken the exams and done just as well. I didn't need to go to class!" Try to use the book as the knowledge piece of Bloom's Taxonomy - and make students responsible for that - and use the classroom for comprehension/application and you get even whinier evals that say, "Why in the heck did I have to buy the textbook when she never lectured from it? If it weren't for the stupid exams, I never would have opened it at all." Aside: Teaching has given me a deep understanding for the phrase, "Damned if you do; damned if you don't." Much like my first marriage. But I digress.)
  • The questions were hard to understand - what with all the "GRE" words like "nocturnal" and stuff - which, by the way, is a term used in the text, which then brings me back to . . .
  • They don't read the textbook and expect to do well on the exams just by showing up and staying awake for an extended period of time.
  • Other: Write answer here.

What do I say to my students tomorrow? "Hey, gang! Y'all tanked on the exam, but don't worry - it's not you, it's me!" Sigh. Help!!

EDITED TO ADD: Don't worry, I'm currently seeing a professional regarding my ellipses addiction.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Gilmore Girls Gone Bile

Okay, I know "bile" does not rhyme with "wild." I also know that "bile" doesn't really make sense in that sentence. But:

Let me tell you a little story about my girls. I have hideous taste in two things (no, not clothes, you haters!): Candy and television. So I was proud to say that I believe I "discovered" Gilmore Girls. I realize that since other Americans were watching it and the WB wasn't making episode after episode just for me, I didn't exactly "discover" it. But I was watching long before anyone in my circle of friends was watching.

It had crackling, razor-sharp dialogue with lots of obscure pop culture references thrown in. It had lots of quirky, nutty -yet lovable - characters. Even the creepy guy, Kirk, wasn't creepy-scary. Most of the time.

And then, the WB and UPN "merged" ("collided in a nasty, chaotic, blood-letting explosion" is more like it) and the WB let Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband get away and now we have this schlock: Some sort of demented completely uninteresting combo of Melrose Place, Desperate Housewives and . . . I don't know . . . Newhart, the second version? There's an inn, there's a small town with a quirky, nutty - yet lovable - bunch of characters.

And worst of all, there's Christopher. There's something about him that's so . . . annoying. Maybe it's because he's too . . . Connecticut squeaky-clean compared to Luke (who Lorelai should really be with), I'm not sure, but gob do I want to watch his blue-blood, self-absorbed, whiny, clean cut head wander out of Star's Hollow forever!!! But alas, now (SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! If you didn't see GG last night and you're saving it on TiVo, stop reading now!! I mean it! NOW! Okay, don't say I didn't warn you!!) Lorelai married the spineless, namby-pamby boy-child and wait . . . what's that sound I hear? Ah, yes. It's the sound of Gilmore Girls being flushed down the toilet. Sad, so sad. Wait - there's another sound . . . it's . . . the sound of dozens of readers screaming at me to get my own life and stop being so over-invested in pretend TV people's lives. Well, you know, when you only watch one show that you're not COMPLETELY embarrassed to be watching, these things matter. Even if they only matter to you. I mean me.

And I never would have expected this from a show with such fabulous lines about Rory's signature drink ("The Rory" of course) that Luke says tastes like "My Pretty Pony."

All good things must come to an end, I suppose. But I also hope that the person who let Amy-Sherman Palladino walk away gets so fucking fired.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Not as Easy as It Looks

Found this over at Seeking Academia. Tag, you're it!

You can only type one word. No explanations.

Yourself: Perplexed
Your partner: Organized
Your hair: Blonde-ish (is too one word!)
Your Mother: Teacher
Your Father: Quiet
Your Favorite Item: Ring
Your dream last night: Husband
Your Favorite Drink: Starbucks
Your Dream Car: AudiTTConvertible (see, it's one word if you type them all together)
Your Dream Home: Oahu
The Room You Are In: Office
Your Ex: Republican
Your fear: Aging
Where you Want to be in Ten Years? Moon
Who you hung out with last night: Mr. J.
What You're Not: Tall
Muffins: These
One of Your Wish List Items: Coach
Time: Enemy
The Last Thing You Did: Ate
What You Are Wearing: Cozy
Your favorite weather: Fall
Your Favorite Book: Many
Last thing you ate: Cereal
Your Life: Messy
Your mood: Neurotic
Your Best Friends: Wise
What are you thinking about right now: School
Your car: Filthy
What are you doing at the moment: Procrastinating
Your summer: Lame
Relationship status: Married
What is on your tv: Nothing
What is the weather like: Blah
When is the last time you laughed: Yesterday

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Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm Not Really Much of a Thinker

This will likely be a rambling reflection, because it's late and I'm so tired my vision is blurring. (Wah! Boo-hoo! Woe is I!)

But: I'm starting to wonder if students aren't told anymore, "Go and look it up," or, "I don't know either - why don't you find out." Or finally, "Use your noggin. You know the answer. You just don't know you know it."

I thought about this today: My first semester teaching, I gave an exam that had a question about drug addiction and "enabling" (this is when I taught the comprehensive health course - we try not to mix drugs with our sex in the class I teach now) and one of the response choices was, "Tina is 30 years old and economically dependent on her parents because of her meth addiction." At least 5 students raised their hands for help and all asked me the same thing: "I don't know what you mean by that."

I was so taken aback when the first student asked me that, I don't think I believed her. Perhaps she was playing a joke? "What?" I stammered, "Come on - sure you do!" She shook her head - "No, I really don't." I tried to walk her through it. "Well, think about it: What does 'economic' mean?" She didn't know. After some coaching, she was able to figure out what "dependent" meant. I had to explain economic. But what about the tried and true, "hooked on Phonics" sounding (or "working" in this case) it out?

And as the semester progressed, I found that during exams, students rarely asked me questions about the exam content; they asked me questions about what words and phrases meant. Words like, "Economically dependent" and "rivals" and "impasse."

This is where the tired and rambling comes in and where maybe you can help me out: I was always told, "There is no such thing as a stupid question." But: I wasn't always given the answer, either. In fact, I still remember vividly having to stay in one recess (fifth grade) to look up every single one of the words I didn't understand in the first 3 chapters of Island of the Blue Dolphin (and write out the definitions) because I had asked too many questions during English class.

I've since tried to simplify my exams and I try to avoid using any of those "GRE-type" words. And yet, I always get questions about the meaning of words that I never in a million years thought would stump a college student.

This isn't a rant - I'm really wondering: What is going on here? Unrealistic expectations on my part? Poor reading comprehension skills? A high school focus on a small set of words that will be found on the state proficiency exams? Nerves - i.e., words they'd recognize in other situations, but due to test anxiety suddenly seem unfamiliar?

I honestly don't know. It's just another mystery that remains unsolved for now.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

A New Day in America

I haven't addressed this yet, because I needed some time to savor the moment.

Since early last week, I have become distinctly aware of a perceptible shift in the universe.

The sky seems bluer, the sun shines brighter and I've even noticed a spring in my step.

We've been waiting so long and now our day is finally here. It's what we've dreamed of and now, we can smile and say proudly,

Britney dumped K-Fed on his sorry (white trash) ass!

It is a new day in America!!!


Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Winner

A brief return to posts about students:

Yesterday, a student told me she had to leave class early because of a "last-minute beauty pageant."

Was she invited to participate at the last minute? Was the pageant put together at the last minute? "Hey, it's Friday afternoon. What could we do?" "I know, we could have a beauty pageant!" "Yeah, cool!"

I don't know and I don't want to know. Hence, I didn't ask. I don't think I even blinked (two years ago, my eyes would have bugged out and then fallen out of my head.) I smiled and said, "Okay. See you next week."

Would someone please let me know what planet this is and when the next shuttle comes so I can get back to earth? Thanks.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

I Have a Gift

Yes, folks, I have a gift. I am, what they would call in education, “gifted and talented.”

Some other people say what I experience on a daily basis is not a gift. It is karmic retribution. To-may-to, To-mah-to.

I have the ability, when presented with a multitude of lines in grocery stores, gas stations, department stores – doesn’t matter - to pick the one line that will cause me to wonder why Gob hates me so much. What did I do in a past life? Was I a serial killer? Did I wear synthetic fibers once too often? Was I perhaps a clerk in Olson’s Mercantile and I just happened to be really bad at making change? So now I’m being punished by being made to wait in line, instead of making others wait in line?

Lest you think I exaggerate, let me present, Exhibit A:

Last Saturday, I went to Target. I was expecting mass chaos, so I had (as Mr. J. sometimes nicely reminds me) “put on my patient cap.” When I decided to pay for my goods (note – about 3 things, at most), I was pleasantly surprised to see that although there were MANY long lines, they all appeared to be moving quickly. I happened to be standing nearest the register in which an elderly couple was just paying their bill – purchases rung up and bagged. “Perfect,” I thought. “There’s no WAY this can turn out to be the slowest line.” And this is where Gob laughed and said to him/herself, “I’ll show you, missy!” The cashier was handing the couple back their credit card, couple was walking away when she said, “Oops! I forgot to ask you if you’d like to open a Target account today and save 10%!” (Maybe she was being monitored by management? – that does happen in retail). I thought surely the couple would say, “No, you can take your 24.99% APR and stick it where the sun don’t shine. And don't call us Shirley.”

But no. Mr. Slow and his wife, Mrs. Pokey looked at each other. “Well?” he said, eyebrows raised. Mrs. Pokey looked back at him. “I don’t know. What do you think?” “I suppose we could.” “Yes, I suppose we could.” “All right then, let’s do it!”

I looked around frantically – how was this happening? People in the other lines were moving along, moving along. I had avoided all the other lines because they all had at LEAST 4 or 5 people in them. How could something so right suddenly go so wrong!?!?

Cashier said, “Great! Let me run and get the form. The whole process only takes about 10 minutes.”

Now this is where my gift really turns into a curse. Just like when I’m reading a book I don’t really like or enjoy, I feel it’s somehow my obligation to stick with it. Like, maybe you shouldn’t judge a book by its first 300 pages. Who knows? It might get really good. And when I have chosen the world’s crappiest line, I start this little conversation with myself:

Optimistic Self: You could move to that other line over there. It’s only 6 people long.

Pessimistic Self: Who are you kidding? The minute you move over there, you might as well apologize to all the people in front of you because you know something will happen. Probably the cashier’s hair will spontaneously burst into flames and then all the other cashiers will be on their break and we’ll have to wait for the fire department to come and put her hair out and you know how long that will take.

Optimistic Self:
But look – the whole time we’ve been standing here, three people have already gone. I saw them leaving. With their purchases! That could be us!

Pessimistic Self: You’re delusional. We’ve already been standing in this line 10 minutes. You know as soon as we move, Mr. Slow and Mrs. Pokey will get their Target card and you’ll be standing in the “Ouch, my hair is on fire!” line.

After this pointless and somewhat schizophrenic conversation, a woman and her teenage son got in line behind me. I said to them, “Although this looks like a short line, you may want to choose another. They’re opening a Target account and this may take a while. Plus, Gob hates me.”

Get this: Woman was EXTREMELY grateful, she and son moved two lines over that had TWO families in front of her and I was still standing in my “line” (question: Is it really a line when it’s just you and one other party? Or is that more of a hyphen or a dash?) when I watched them walk out the door, all paid up and somewhere to go.

Hand to Gob, 15 minutes later, all other lines were empty and I FINALLY got up to the register.

I have taken it upon myself (since last week) to become a walking public service announcement. Whenever people get in line behind me – anywhere – Target, grocery store, Ann Taylor – doesn’t matter! – I turn around and say, “Excuse me, you don’t know me, but I believe I have an amazing talent for picking the line that has the biggest problem. You may want to choose another one.” Sometimes they seem grateful and move to another line and then wave at me, smiling and mouthing “Thanks” as they leave the store. And sometimes they don’t listen to me and stay where they are and 20 minutes later, when they’re looking at their watch and sighing loudly, I just turn around, look them in the eye, shrug my shoulders and say, “I told ya!”

In the past two weeks alone, I have countless examples of this strange phenomenon: Getting in line behind the sweet elderly woman at the grocery store - her groceries were bagged, it was the shortest line in the store. And then. She took out her beaded change purse and started counting out pennies. A tear rolled down my cheek.

At the toll booths, where I chose the lane that had only one car in it. All other lanes had at least 3-4 cars and maybe one or two semis. I gave myself a pep talk as I drove behind the lone Volvo station wagon stopped at the booth. "There is no way. No. Way. that this will turn out to be the longest line. It's just impossible. It goes against all laws of nature, including the law of um, gravity and astrophysics or Newton something. Plus, Volvos are kind. Volvos are good. We have many positive experiences with Volvos." Alas, this was not to be one of them. As big rig after big rig rumbled by me, I sat. I think the woman in the Volvo had either a.) run into a long lost friend, or b.) Didn't really know how toll booths worked and was surprised to find out she needed to have money. Maybe she was writing a check for .50 - doesn't matter. I got to memorize her license plate number while all the other toll booth operators with empty lanes took their coffee breaks.

At the gas station - Oy! Don't even get me started. But here's a little tip: When you've filled up your car and paid, get the hell out of the way!!!! When every pump has at least 2-3 cars, and you have ME waiting behind you, why do you think that's when you need to balance your checkbook? Asshats. I don't get it.

At the ATM: To rip off a bit from Jerry Seinfeld: The ATM is NOT the place to pull off some major financial transaction. Transferring money from your Swiss bank account to your kid in jail in Guadalajara? Go inside. If you're in the regular banking drive-thru line, it is ALSO not the time to give the teller your new Tupperware catalogue. Do you not SEE the line of cars behind you?

In closing folks, if you are anywhere in the world and happen to get in a line, if a woman turns around and says, "This is probably going to be a very long wait simply because I'm standing here," believe her. Move. And then fire off a thank-you e-mail to, because it was probably me.

Today's public service announcement has been brought to you by Teacher Lady and the makers of Valium.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

New Series! How I Dated My Husband

So, if you were a fan of the How I Met My Husband Series, you know we last left off where I finally met Mr. J. - on an "I almost didn't go" blind date.

Was it a "love at first sight" thing? No. After my first marriage imploded, I decided that was a load of crap. But there were some cute things I noticed.

For example, I can't remember if I blogged about this but I have a bizarre phobia. Heights? Don't care. Snakes, rats, spiders? Don't want to be covered with them a la Fear Factor, but no big thing. Teacher Lady now shares the completely humiliating secret with you and you alone, Internetweb friends: Birds scare the shit out of me. I am really afraid of birds. I hate them with the white-hot heat of a thousand suns.

Steve and his wife loved birds. In fact, they had just rescued some African-gray thing that was very rare and just "the most loving bird ever." Just typing that made bile rise up in my throat. Won't be able to type about birds much longer . . .

Anyway, I shame-facedly told Steve about my little, uh, problem long before I went to his house. He was very kind and understanding (having a daughter not too much younger than me, he was probably well-acquainted with all kinds of crazy). They kept the birds in an upstairs bedroom, they would make sure they were all caged when I came over and wouldn't expect me to look at them. (The birds, not Steve and Suzanne).

Since Mr. J. was a good friend of Suzanne's and understood how much she loved her birds, one of the first things he said was, "May I see the birds?" and Suzanne said sure, she'd love nothing more!! Mr. J. looked at me and Steve came to the rescue. "Ah, Teacher Lady can't look at birds. (Gotta love Steve's way with words, right? Like I was Lot's wife and I'd turn into a pillar of salt if I looked at birds) She's afraid of them." I think I love that man more in this moment than I ever have. Because he didn't blink, or make a face, or roll his eyes or shake his head in some, "Women! Aren't they nuts?" kind of way. He just said, "Oh, okay. See you in a minute, then."

After some drinks and small talk, we headed for the restaurant - a cute little Chinese place I had never visited. We all chatted together. Sometimes Mr. J. and I chatted, just the two of us. Then the waitress brought our check and fortune cookies. Waitress asked how the check should be divided. Used to Blane, I said, "Separate" and Mr. J. looked at me and said, "I'd like to take care of this, if you don't mind." Did I mind?!? Hell, no, I didn't mind!!

Then, the only small red flag: We all got our fortune cookies and went around the table, taking turns reading our fortunes out loud. Somehow, when we came to Mr. J., he managed to do something socially subtle but it was clear he was distracting us from the fact that he didn't want to read his fortune out loud. I was kind of bummed: Was this a "too cool for school" type of guy? Just a generic party-pooper? Or perhaps he belonged to some super-scary cult that forbid the reading of the future because only Master Moonbeam or whoever can tell the future.

Months later, I asked Mr. J. why he didn't read his fortune out loud. "I still have it," he said. I was flabbergasted. "You do?" He nodded. "Why?" He replied, "Because it read, 'A great romance is about to enter your life,' and I liked you so I didn't want to freak you out."

Gotta love him!


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lame-O for NaBloPoMo

I'm really scrapin' the bottom of the barrel here, folks. Apparently, my rants need at least two or three days to fester in my brain and THEN I can blog my little heart out.

All I have to say are these 2 VITs (that's Very Important Things):

VH1 is showing a "100 Best Songs of the 80s" and since I am a child/teenager/college student of the 80s, I felt it was important for me to at least watch the top 20. Number 1? Best song of the eighties?!!? An entire decade and the best VH1 could come up with was . . . Livin' On a Prayer by Bon Jovi. I'm sorry,what!???! Then I realized that viewers had voted and my guess was only 13 year olds boys voted because seriously.

The EIGHTIES, dudes!!!!! With Prince and Madonna and REM and The Cure and Edie Brickell and Depeche Mode and New Order and Yaz and Cindy Lauper and The Pet Shop Boys and all that glorious alternative/electronica and dance/party music (who could forget, "Living in the Wild, Wild West" or "Waitin' for a Star to Fall"?) and Janet Jackson and Bobby Brown (pre-crazy) and Paula Abdul (DEFINITELY pre-crazy) and Fine Young Cannibals and Nenah Cherry and The B-52s . . . (and that's pretty much just my freshman year of college) And yet? Bon frickin' Jovi. Excuse me while I kill myself.

Next: I just started reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and oh. my. GOB. Why has no one told me about this book? How has it been out since 2005 and I'm just now reading it? I started it around 6:30 this evening (hence, another last-minute post) and put it down only grudgingly to continue with my little NaBloPoMo delusion of posting every day this month. I am seriously contemplating staying up all night to finish it (the book, not all my remaining NaBloPoMo posts, which would count as cheating), which would be a mistake for SO many reasons, but yet . . . discipline and self-control are NOT my strong points. So we shall see. Perhaps my post tomorrow will be a little book report.

Later, dudes!!

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Santa Baby Wishes His Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me

I made the mistake of going to Bath and Body Works tonight. It was packed. Is there some kind of pending soap shortage that no one told me about? Some kind of code-red dry skin emergency? I did not know that Tuesday night was the night all kinds of suburban women go nuts buying shower gel.

Anyway, they (B&BW, not the surburban women) are ALL decked out for Christmas, including the Christmas tunes playing. All I can say is: Gob help those poor women. Those poor, poor, poor women. If you've worked retail during the holiday season you know exactly what I'm talking about.

As I was waiting for one of the lovely young women to come and separate me from my hard-earned cash, I picked up the "Bath and Body Works Christmas Joy CD of All That is Wrong and Unholy in the Universe" because it includes my all-time favorite Christmas song, Santa Baby done by the PussyCat-freakin' slut-Dolls. As Fraulein N would say, "Aw, hell to the naw."

There is one person who performs Santa Baby. Her name is Eartha Kitt. No one else has any business singing that song. As far as I'm concerned, Madonna, Willa-Freakin'-Ford and now the Pussy Cat Dolls might as well have pulled out a handful of the Virgin Mary's hair and poked the Baby Jesus in the eye. It is so wrong.

(And if anyone points out that Santa is secular and technically has nothing to do with the religious traditions behind Christmas, the Baby Jesus won't be the only one gettin' poked in the eye.)

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Beauty School Drop-Out

Remember that great song from Grease? Well, that's not me, but close. I'm in danger of becoming a NaBloPoMo dropout. I literally got home 10 minutes ago after a heinously long day.

This is the best I can crank out in 20 minutes on no food since noon:

Go VOTE tomorrow!

If you're not sure why you should vote, ESPECIALLY if you're a woman, go rent Iron-Jawed Angels, the HBO special with Hillary Swank (Why does that look funny? Is she a one "l" Hilary?) right this minute.

Okay, you can wait until your local Blockbuster reopens. But go rent it. Then we'll talk amongst ourselves. I'll give you a topic: Patrick Dempsey looks better in Iron-Jawed Angels than he ever has as Dr. McDreamy. Discuss.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Teacher Lady's Happy Sassy Sunday Ass-vice Column

I should learn my lesson. After completely exhausting my warehouse of rants on Friday, I am facing another NaBloPoMo day thinking, "Hmm . . . will I be the first blogger to drop out of this contest?" I think chances are quite good that I will be.

I can always whine about how I'm not sure I should keep going with this school thing, but I actually did that all day long yesterday with an extremely sympathetic friend.

How about if I whine about what I should do for a living if I don't do the school thing? Agreed? Agreed.

Friday, I discussed the personal marketing consultant gig. Although I love to boss people around, I'm not sure I'd be comfortable doing it and then asking for a couple grand. After all, isn't that why people have parents, bosses and older siblings? To boss them around for free!?

I've also taken more than a few of those career assessments and guess what they tell me? That I should be in health. Or education. Or health education. Whoopeee!!! Thanks.

Although, in high school we had to take one of those career tests and I swear, a fellow (male) student came away with only two career recommendations: Sanitation engineer and rodeo clown. So it could always be worse.

Since I don't think I could handle the rodeo clown gig, today, I will explore the idea of me becoming an advice columnist. I've been a HUGE fan of Carolyn Hax for years (see my links) and Amalah's Wednesday Advice Smackdown as well (see Blog Roll). Ann Landers and Dear Abby - not so much, but with a dash of snark and a heavy sprinkling of sarcasm, I think they might just be okay.

I have very strong opinions and I don't often care if I'm wrong or right. I'm just opinionated. So, that will be my "hook" - Some newspaper editor asks me, "Teacher Lady, do you know anything?" I say, "No, not really." Editor says, "Well, you must be known for giving good advice to friends and family?" I reply, "Actually, the opposite is true. I give terrible advice. No one should listen to me, ever." Editor is mystified: "Why should we hire you to write our new advice column?" Me: "Because I have lots of opinions on just about anything. If someone writes to me about a situation, I will have something to say. It might not be right, and it might not be intelligent, but it will be something." Editor: "Genius! You're hired!!"

So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the line forms on the right. Teacher Lady is currently taking questions for her "Dear Teacher Lady, You May Be an Idiot But You're My Only Hope" ass-vice column. All in the name of career exploration, my dears!!! Bring it!


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Public Service Announcement

I don't have any children (that I know of). I have never adopted anybody - unless you count my dog, so let me clarify: I have never adopted any humans.

However, I love Barren Karen of The Naked Ovary. Even though I've never struggled with infertility and I've never gone through the pins-and-needles waiting for a referral from the CCAA, her blog is addictive and fascinating.

Perhaps one of the reasons I adore her so much is because she is probably the only other person in the blogosphere - no, in the world - who has to deal with as many asshats as I do. She, too, must have the "Freak Magnet" thing written on her forehead in glitter glue.

I don't know why I'm still amazed at the things perfect strangers (and some not-so-perfect "unstrangers" who should know better) decide to ask. I suppose I should be used to it by now. Yet, I still end up shocked and just stand there, slack-jawed and stammering. I'm George Costanza, who, two days after someone said, "Hey George, the ocean called and they're running out of shrimp" comes up with, "Yeah? Well the jerk store called and they're running out of you!" Definitely not that funny and clearly not timely.

But since Karen has adopted her gorgeous daughter, MP, people have felt comfortable asking her all sorts of obnoxious questions. And it's upsetting to her. And it's rude. Although, many of us honestly blurt out things and have no idea we're even being rude.

So, if you're like me and occasionally stick your foot in your mouth (at least I can say I have never said to a non-pregnant woman, "Congratulations!!! When are you due?" unlike some people), go read Karen's latest post and brush up on your "stranger etiquette." Look at me, I think I'll invent a new word: Your stretiquette. Peace, y'all.


Friday, November 03, 2006

More Friday Fun Corner

Okay, I have no idea what that means, but it sounded better than "a whole bunch of unrelated stuff".

A friend of mine teaches seventh grade social studies. He is a freakin' saint. His students call him Mr. Pina Colada because his name ends in an "a" - cripes, these kids can't even RHYME!! Anyway, we were discussing his recent lesson on the pioneers. "They're bored," he said. "And what's worse is, I'm not a big fan of the pioneers myself so I'm really struggling to teach this. What kind of assignment should I give them for this topic? I cannot read another book report on Little House in the Big Woods."

"Oh! I know! I know!" I said in my obnoxious teacher's pet voice (I think I even raised my hand). "Have them do a diorama." He looked terrified. "Do you mean 'diarrhea'?" I rolled my eyes. "I think if I meant diarrhea, I would have said 'diarrhea'. And I don't even want to know what that kind of assignment would entail." He had never heard of a diorama. I swear, I made at least 4 or 5 of these between third and seventh grade. He thought I was making it up. Am I alone here? Anybody else ever have to do a diorama?
I have finally figured out what my new career is going to be. I found it yesterday, while perusing my new Time magazine. I'm going to be a "personal marketing consultant." Why the hell not? Recent college graduates (and apparently anyone else who doesn't know what they're doing with their lives) pay these folks anywhere from one to three grand to tell them who they are. I can do that! I know a fair amount about astrology, both Chinese and Western. I watch way too much television. I get too many magazines. I'm judgmental and bitter. How hard can it be? "Let's see here, Timmy . . . You are a Capricorn born in the year of the Rat, and from looking at you, I see that you're sloppy, lazy and you happen to be stoned most of the time . . . I'm going to say you're a modern day Cheech Marin, with just a touch of Johnny Knoxville and a sprinkle of Nick Nolte from his DUI mug shot. We'll call it, 'Slacker chic' and your ideal job is operating a ski lift. That will be $3,000, please."
More ranting about drivers: With my new commute, I am spending a LOT more time in the car. And I do not enjoy it. I know everyone thinks they are a really good driver (or an "excellent driver" in some cases) but this is not statistically possible. Most of us are going to be "average" drivers with some spectacular and some spectacularly heinous drivers filling out the tails of the bell curve. I'd like to think I'm a slightly better than average driver. Here is why: I use my fucking turn signal!!!!!!! I believe I've said this before, but if you are physically incapable of lifting your arm to operate your turn signal, you should not be driving!! A few other things: Going 45 miles an hour on a one-lane, 35 mile an hour street is fast enough. Get off of my ass, you effing tailgaters!!! One of these days, I will slam on my brakes and you will be sorry. To quote Evelyn Couch from Fried Green Tomatoes, "I'm older and I have more insurance." Plus, as we all know - it's the "rear-ender" who is at fault. That'll teach ya to tailgate!!! Bastards.

At the other extreme, we have the drivers who seem to be afraid to go the speed limit. Really, it's okay. You can do 35MPH and not get hurt. In fact, you're probably safer than when you're going your 26MPH, because it's only a matter of time before the tailgaters get ya.

This is how a toll booth works: Step 1.) Hand over your ticket. Step 2.) Hand over appropriate amount of money. Step 3.) Drive the fuck away, already!!!! The toll booth is not the place to: ask for directions; chat about the weather; spend 20 minutes digging in your purse or wallet for the exact change. Although you may be on vacation, some of us have places to go - like work, and chances are excellent that we are already late. So save the small talk for your waitress and lemme get on my way!
I really do love Christmas. I love the cookies and the decorations and the cheesy Christmas songs. I love the TV specials and stockings and trees and all that crap. But, even I had to say when I drove by a small store last night, "You are really pushing it." Because said store was completely pimped out for the holiday season. Lights display complete with entire gingerbread village - in, well, LIGHTS!! I'm going to be digging Halloween candy out of my freezer for at least another 6 weeks. I need some "down time" in between the holiday madness.

That is all. Clearly, I have nothing nice to say, but that still didn't stop me. See you tomorrow (if you haven't stopped reading!)

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

The First! The Last! The Only . . .

Recipe ever posted by Teacher Lady!

I'm not much of a baker. Wait. That just won the medal for understatement of the universe. I bake exactly twice a year. That's about all anyone can handle of my baking. I do not find baking enjoyable or relaxing. I find it extremely stressful. Then again, you're reading about someone who has managed to ruin rice, so lots of times I'm just afraid of starting a kitchen fire.

Yesterday, got to talking with a friend about delicious foods and I found myself boasting - me! boasting about my culinary abilities! - about the only thing I really bake. And I only bake it on Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings. Perhaps that is why I love them so much; they are truly a rare occurrence, like a blue moon or Jessica Simpson without a tan.

The recipe is from an out-of-print cookbook called 'Tis the Season: A Vegetarian Christmas Cookbook. I present to you, my famous in my own mind White Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Muffins (best served with a cup of coffee and an unimpeded view of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade):

2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and allowed to cool slightly
2 eggs
1 cup white chocolate chips (personally, the one cup is a minimum - I usually go totally nuts with both the chips and the cranberries, but equal amounts of both must be used!)
1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries

Spray 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together flour, brown sugar, salt and baking powder. In separate bowl, beat milk, butter and eggs together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture, along with the white chocolate chips and cranberries, and fold together. Fill muffin cups three-quarters full with batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown. Cool on wire rack before serving.
Makes 12 muffins.

No lie - these are the ONLY muffins that taste even better the next day. I don't know why. Must be all the holiday magic and booze.

If you make these, please let me know. Well, only let me know if you loved 'em. A gal can only take so much criticism and I try to keep that confined to my work.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Never Been One to Waste a Perfectly Good Deadline!

Have you heard about NaBloPoMo?

Apparently, November is National Blog Posting Month and to participate, you're supposed to post. every. freakin'. day.

The good news is, I think that rage goes really well with the November color palate, so I think I'm set. Just in case I lose steam at the end of the month, I thought I'd jot down some potential topics that have been floating around in my head - irritating me like so many gnats! I know you'll be waiting with bated breath:
  • Drivers and their damn driving. Would it kill you to NOT be in the fast lane if you don't enjoy going the speed limit?
  • Today, finally lost it and asked student the obnoxious TL question: Do you think you're invisible!??! I can see you, you know.
  • Why I'm probably quitting school and going back to the rat race. (Hint: Might. just. lose. mind. FOR GOOD!!!!)
  • How students can now post photos of their instructors on (Hail NO I'm not gonna link to it!!)
  • Why my dog has suddenly started scooping up a mouthful of food then wandering into whatever room I happen to be in, opening her mouth, depositing a surprisingly large amount of kibble food-type bits and then chomping on them loudly, one at a time. This is a recent development. I don't understand it, and honestly? It creeps me out when she opens her mouth to let the food out. One of these days, it's going to be vomit - I just know it.
  • Entries in the "How I Met My Husband" series - now I guess it will have to be the "How I Dated My Husband" series.
  • The kick-ass blow-out I'm planning for Mr. J.'s birthday this month. (That is a complete and total lie. I could not have told you more of a lie if I told you I was once the first runner up in the Miss Kansas Corn Pageant contest. You will see why once I start up with the "How I Dated My Husband" series.)
  • More fascinating reflections on The Girls Next Door.
  • And, um, you know I know I had all these ideas - like, just today! Um, a blog entry called, "Why My Cuticles are Raggedy and Why You Should Know About It"?

All right, clearly I have some work to do as far as drumming up ideas, but considering how weird things constantly happen to me, I imagine all I will have to do is leave the house on a daily basis.