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.

Friday, January 26, 2007

'Til We Meet Again

Well folks (or "folk" depending. I don't know I have more than one reader left after this week of non-posting), the time I thought would never come has come.

Not to be melodramatic, but there is just too much going on in my life right now for me to justify blogging regularly. I'll be taking a little hiatus, about 6-8 weeks - or perhaps more - starting today.

I'm not going to make a big "see ya" speech about how much your comments and support have meant to me over the past year and blah, blah, blah because I do plan on returning to the blogosphere, eventually.

Until we meet again, thanks for being such great and supportive readers.


Teacher Lady

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Why I Love Rate Your Students

Believe it or not, I've sort of come to the conclusion that I actually like students. They may be maddening, uneducated, poor writers, rude and badly behaved, but at least with traditional-age college students, what you see is pretty much what you get. Except for bat-shit crazy. Not too many people actually appear to be bat-shit crazy, so that's always somewhat of a shocker.

Even with all the crazy stories, dying relatives, strange excuses, odors and bizarre pajamas masquerading as clothes, they're still better to be around than many university administrators. No - I didn't slip on a patch of black ice and smack my head on the ground - I guess what's been going on with my classroom lately has really given me a new found empathy for students and what they have to go through. Man, if I spent several grand on a class and had no desk??! I would probably do absolutely nothing but bitch about it on this blog, but you get the idea.

However. I still am not jazzed about some students evaluating my work and here's why. Rate Your Students nails it, every time!


Friday, January 19, 2007

Aimless prattle

Sounds like somebody needs a dictionary!

As if these kids aren’t dealing with poor spelling all over the Internet, now they’re HEARING it on the radio. I will confess that I like the song Fergalicious. I know the video is completely antithetical to feminism, but it’s got a groovy beat and I can dance to it. I give it an 85. I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what the hell is spelling at one point and today I figured it out. He’s spelling tasty, but he’s spelling it wrong!!! (I know, I know, poetic license and all that stuff.) Tastey. Cripes. Just what I need. Good job, Fergie! Soon you’ll need to open your own school for kids who can’t read good because of all the damage you’ve done. Thanks for nothing, bitch.

How to get a whole new wardrobe without spending a dime!
Disclaimer: This only applies to people who are unbelievably messy and disorganized, like myself.

In a rare fit of Virgo-like activity, yesterday I decided to clean out my closet. Guess what I found in my "to-be-dry-cleaned" basket? About 4 pairs of pants, 7 sweaters and 3 blouses that I had completely forgotten about. Like forgotten I owned them. Lately, I’ve been saying to Mr. J., “I feel like I’m wearing the same things over and over again,” and guess the fuck what? I was. Duh.
A Family emergency

I guess my body has decided to ring in the beginning of every semester with a wicked-bad bout of insomnia. Sigh. Here we go again, folks. Hopefully this round I will neither hallucinate nor shower with my glasses on. Hence, I was watching Will & Grace at around three a.m. In this episode, they were at Jack’s graduation from nursing school and the? head nurse? someone? said the guest speaker wouldn’t be coming because she had a family emergency which of course, everyone knows is code for “vaj problems.” I couldn’t stop laughing. Today I checked my e-mail and a female student told me she would not be in class on Monday because of a family emergency and all I can think now is “vaj problems.” This is not good. And it’s going to be even worse if a male student tells me this because I will automatically think, “Oh, I get it. Your girlfriend has vaj problems.” I am probably too juvenile to be teaching anyone. Definitely too juvenile to be teaching college students.
Oy with the siblings already

Guess what, gang? Another set of sibs is in my class this semester - young women who look so much like twins that I would think they were except one is nearly a foot taller than the other. And they sat next to each other and whispered and giggled the whole class. My hairy eyeball and pointed pauses were not enough to shut ‘em up. I wonder if I SHOULD have said something to show what a “hard-ass” I can be? Years ago, the department chair was female and she would advise all the female professors to wear high heels (not a problem over here!) and a suit on the first day of class (okay, THAT’S a problem. Do I really want my Ann Taylor suits covered in chalk dust? I do not) and act really mean. Because you can always get nicer, but you shouldn’t start out nice and then have to get mean. Or something. I get the gist, but who wants to be a raging bitch the first day of class? Okay, probably some people. All right, probably me, sometimes. Teachers – whaddaya think? Start out like a humorless drill sergeant and then back off as the semester progresses? Or does anyone else even put that much thought into their classroom “persona”?
Yeah, we live like rock stars around here
A few years ago, some of my friends decided to – wait for it – put together a list of our most hated words. Do we know how to party or what? (Of course, that little endeavor led Mr. J. to christen me “Word Nerd” and I have been stuck with that moniker ever since.) I am in charge of the list. I still have it somewhere. If I’m not mistaken, there were categories. (Jealous yet? I'm sure this is how Aerosmith spent their Saturday nights pre-rehab!) “Products” that were made-up words like McGriddles. Corporate words and phrases like “post-mortem” and “ramp up”. Other made-up words and phrases that are complete bullshit like “wintry mix.” That one truly vexes me. I HATE when the weather person says, “Tomorrow, be on the lookout for a wintry mix.” Way to cover your ass. What the hell does that mean? Could be sleet. Could be snow. Could be cold rain. We don’t really know so it’s a wintry mix! Sounds like a party snack but a lot less fun. And finally, real words that just . . . blech! You don’t want to say them or read them and – perhaps worst of all – you definitely don’t want to hear them. Like probe. And kumquat. And finally the word that inspired this particular paragraph: Repository. Can we PLEASE call it something else? Something that doesn’t sound so much like suppository? I mean, really.

On a cheerier note, I would like to give a shout out to a few of the words I really, really like: Kerfuffle, mercurial, solipsistic! Hey kids! Love ya! Now I see why we didn’t have a list of words we loved. I guess it’s easier to be annoyed by something, especially if you’re me.
Classroom Update – Now I’m Mad!

I have been moved to a different room in the same building because, well, I’m not really sure. But I no longer have electronic window blinds. The department secretary called me and asked me if I would be willing to change rooms. Why not? Isn’t that the same as asking if you’d like to see a different part of hell? “Do you have more than 75 students?” she asked me. I have exactly 75. Perfect! She put me in Room D for Dungeon. I went over there to check out my new digs and found exactly 70 desks. I counted three times. Yes, folks, 70 desks and not much room for one more, let alone five more. Now that shit pisses me off. I am mad for my students. They have paid boatloads of money to take my stupid class and personally? I think a freakin’ desk should be part of the damn purchase price. Mr. J. assures me I won’t have to worry because I will never have all 75 students in the class at the same time – but – hello? Exams? So . .. then what? They’re supposed to sit on the floor? I’m supposed to be so student centered that you can plagiarize the hell out of an assignment and not get in trouble, but sorry, we’re fresh out of desks. WTF?
Got whole milk?

No? I didn’t think so. At the risk of repeating myself, I must address this Very! Important! Subject! Since it’s January every magazine and newspaper is featuring a “lose that holiday weight” article. And they all include advice on “how to lose 10 pounds in a month without even trying.” And they ALL say, “Replace whole milk with 2%, 1%, or even skim!!!” Seriously. Who are they kidding. Is there ANY woman in America who drinks whole milk?!!?! What is wrong with people? Disclaimer: If you drink whole milk, I am wrong and I apologize to you, madam. But I’m pretty sure I’m not wrong.
On Being Brave – And How I Wasn’t
This is my only truly serious topic today and I’m embarrassed about it, but I guess if I sit in the giant confessional that is the Internet and then do 10 Hail Marys, 10 Our Fathers and 10 Glory-Bes, I will be absolved. Or not.

I am in some classes that are masters/doctoral level. After class, a bunch of us were standing around talking – I was the only doc student so I don’t know them as well as they know each other. One of the masters students was bitching about how disappointed she was in someone’s work. Apparently, one arm of the department was having a student conference and someone had volunteered to make a brochure. The masters student (let’s call her Janice) was going on and on about how it was the worst brochure EVER and she couldn’t believe that Molly sent it out to the whole group without her approval first and there were SO many things wrong with it on and on ad nauseum. Finally I asked, “Who’s Molly?” She replied, “You know, Molly Jones.” Molly is a doctoral student in my program. We started the program together and we have shared almost every class. I adore her. She is hard working and funny and articulate and a whole lot of things and just – what’s not to like? I also know that her partner of 11 years up and left her around Thanksgiving – for a man – and she is (understandably) devastated. But unlike me, she is very composed and together. In fact, you wouldn’t know she was going through something so horrible unless you really, really pushed her to admit something was wrong and maybe not even then. Point is – she’s not a complainer or a whiner or an emotional trainwreck like I would be in that situation. She and I discussed her situation a lot over e-mail during the holidays which – of course – were incredibly difficult for her.

I stood there and let Janice bad-mouth Molly to 9 other masters students while I did nothing. I kept wanting to yell, “Stop it! She’s an amazing human being and you have no idea what she’s going through and how dare you talk about her like she murdered children when all she did was send out a ‘disappointing’ brochure!” But I didn’t. As Janice raged on (BTW, in case you haven’t figured it out, Janice needs her meds adjusted and I am just a little bit afraid of her), all the other masters students nodded and clucked sympathetically and shook their heads in that, “Some people are just so unbelievable” kind of way. Finally, I interrupted her but it was too late. And I didn’t say what I wanted to say. The only thing I said was, “You need to tell Molly that then. She needs to know how you prefer to work so she doesn’t make the same mistake again. It’s only fair.” Janice nodded and agreed and I know she will never say a word to Molly – just continue to bad-mouth her behind her back. As the group dissipated, I stood there with a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t stick up for Molly. I didn’t defend her. And you know what? I can pretty much bet that she would have defended me in the same situation. I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions, but this year I want to become brave. I think at 36, it’s a little overdue.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Just When I Thought I Had Run Out of Things to Whine About!

One Day Only! All new fresh complaints!

Disclaimer: Believe it or not, I occasionally try to keep things in perspective. I do realize that if this is the biggest problem in my life right now I'm pretty damn lucky.

For those of you who teach at universities, I'd be interested to know how the classroom situation works on your campus.

I typically teach in the same building as my office/department. It's very nice. Every room (permanently) has all the A/V equipment my technologically-challenged little heart could desire. Even when I have my heavy bags of Play-Doh or my giant collection of feminine-hygiene products, I can just run up and down a few flights of stairs and make two trips. (Although Mr. J. likes to remind me I should never run up or down stairs - especially not with the shoes I wear!)

For some reason, this semester I was assigned to a new building. And not just any building - the sparkly, new, "Hey look at me! I'm an EXPLOSION of technology!!" building. Tried to get my class switched back to my building, but to no avail. Okay. This will be a challenge for me, but I can try to be a little flexible for once in my life.

Until. I found out how this building works. It is easier to get into the Pentagon, it would seem. The super-pimped out classrooms are kept locked at all times. Because I do not work for the psychology department, I am not allowed to have a key. Hence, every day before class, I must traverse the length of this massive building to have the secretary let me into the classroom.

Then, I must sign out the "A/V" cart (interesting, isn't it? The building is all pimped out so the students can watch on a giant screen - that descends gracefully from the ceiling in all its electronic glory - if I wanted to surf the 'net for the whole class, but there is ONE DVD player in the whole damn building and it's kept in a (locked) closet next to the secretary's desk.) Then I must wheel this cart (can't wait) through the building (including a ride in the elevator) to my classroom. When I am finished, I must return this equipment. WAAAH! Just typing this I realize how lame I sound.

But, I just went from walking down two flights of stairs five minutes before class, knowing my classroom would have everything I need, to adding 30 minutes to my prep time. No - that's not even "prep" time - it's just "getting into my damn classroom" time. I lost a half an hour and I want it back!!!!

Yeah, yeah, my life is so hard. I know. I'm obnoxious.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My Newest Goal

Remember how I said I was going to start naming National Weeks?

Well, I think that's my new goal. To name a week, every week. Plus, I have to teach in about 3 hours and I can't think of anything else I should be doing right now.

Next week will be . . . National Blog About Your Favorite Under-rated or Low Profile Actor Week.

Here are some guidelines:

This actor should not be featured in People Magazine on a regular basis. And NOT on the cover; NEVER on the cover.

There probably has not been an E! True Hollywood Story about this person.

This person probably does not have a "combo" name like Brangelina or Bennifer II or Vaughniston or . . . you get the picture.

A regular presence on the Red Carpet? Not your favorite under-rated actor. (Is underrated hyphenated? I don't know. I don't think so now, but it looks weird all together like that.)

This person should also not be so obscure that only the brightest art film snobs will know of whom you blog.

For now, let us stick to both big and small screen actors. Perhaps we will do another week where we discuss that Great White Way.

For my entry (I'm getting a head start on next week, see), I give you:

Alan Rickman.

I love him. I love him as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter Series. I love him as Harry in Love Actually. I love him as Metatron in Dogma. And I love, love, LOVE him in the HBO movie Something The Lord Made. (Add to your Net Flix Queue - you won't be sorry!)

That's all. See how easy it was? Let me know when you blog about your favorite under-rated actor. You know, in honor of the National Week and all.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

It's Finally Here! How I Dated My Husband: Part II in a Series

Y'all have been so patient. Not like anyone has been banging down my door for second helpings. When I was writing about the blind dates from hell, my dear readers couldn't get enough of my misery. Schadenfreude is part of the human experience, I guess. I'm guilty.

Since it's a new year, I'm required to recruit new members to the Mr. J. fan club. Let the recruitment effort commence:

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm not just mentally unstable. I'm also pretty evil. After the whole Blane experience, I decided that for our first "real" date - i.e., unchaperoned by Steve and Suzanne - we would go to the same notorious cash-only restaurant that showed me Blane's true colors early on. Yes, heterosexual gentlemen readers (all 4 of you). I set a trap. However, please do not use my opprobrious act as evidence that all women are manipulative shrews.

I was running late for our date. (Okay, if you've been a reader for more than a month, I don't need to type that anymore, do I? Let's just assume that's how every story begins if I'm to leave the house, okay?) I was not dragging my feet late, just oh-my-gosh-I-like-this-guy, so I must change clothes 17 times late. It was also raining unbelievably hard outside; I knew I wouldn't find a parking space very near the restaurant. Hence, I resigned myself to parking several storefronts down and seeing Mr. J. for the first time in a week wearing the costume of "drowned rat." So much for the 17 outfit changes.

One last refresh of the lipstick in the rear view mirror and then my heart stopped. Some weirdo was here to kill me before my date. Someone was standing next to my car. Did I have my cell phone? Who should I call? Is, "Someone is standing outside my car and it's dark and raining" a legitimate reason to dial 9-1-1? And then I looked again. It was Mr. J. - holding an umbrella and a dozen teeny tiny pink roses. I opened the car door while mentally praying all I had done was check my lipstick and not, um, my nostrils or anything else embarrassing. Mr. J. spoke first, "I didn't mean to scare you. But it's raining so hard and I wasn't sure if you had an umbrella." I didn't. Then I stammered, "But, I'm, um, 10 minutes late. How - where - were you standing outside for the past 10 minutes?" He nodded. "Yeah. It wasn't bad at all." He's an excellent liar sometimes.

Then he handed me the roses. "You probably don't want to bring these into the restaurant, so if you want to put them in your car now, that's fine." He was right again, and I did put them in my car.

Do I really need to tell you that he had cash for the restaurant? Because of course he did. Stay tuned . . . many more nauseatingly romantic tales to come!


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Because she is patient and lovely

which is more than anyone can say about me!

The lovely Ms. Shawnee politely tagged me nearly a week ago. I did not ignore or forget her tag, even though it may appear to be the case.

Finally - here we go!
What comes to mind when you see the color orange?
Um, oranges?
Did you ever get in trouble while you were in school? If so, what was it for?
When I was in eighth grade, I was trying to be cool and said "hell" in front of a bunch of fourth graders. I got called down to the fourth grader teacher's classroom and was accused of saying "H-E-double toothpicks."
Which topping(s) make up your perfect pizza?
Is there any such thing as an imperfect pizza? I think not. Although, I do enjoy pineapple and banana peppers. But come on. That's like saying, "What types of bills make up your perfect million?" I'm not going to gripe if you give me hundred-dollar bills instead of thousand-dollar bills.
Do you believe in UFOs/aliens/etc.? Why or why not?
Well, yeah! If humans are it, the whole universe is kinda screwed, don't ya think? Somebody's gotta be smarter than we are!
What color is your bedspread/comforter/quilt?
Our duvet cover is cream, with white and dark beige leaves, from when I was going through a "Japanese decorating theme" phase. Side note: NEVER buy towels off the Internet, no matter HOW cool they look. Hello, sandpaper!!


Friday, January 12, 2007

A Trip Down Memory Lane Inspired by Guilt

Minnie is SO not loving having another dog around. Let me rephrase that. Minnie hates Bugger so much that if she could speak, she would say to me, "You ruined my life, you ignorant slut." In fact, yesterday Brady was shamelessly pandering for some cuddles and just as I leaned down to pet him, Minnie walked in the room. I swear, the look on her dog face was the same look female actresses use when they're portraying a character who walks into her own home to find her husband in bed with another woman. Horror. Heartbreak. Disgust. Disbelief. Then again, perhaps I'm giving Minnie too much credit. Or not enough credit to the likes of Markie Post and Tori Spelling.

My hope was that after fostering Bugger for a while, we'd just sign the papers and say, "Yeah, we're just a bunch of suckers for a fuzzy face and a bouncy gait. We'll take him." But Minnie is struggling with sharing me with any other dog-like entity. And I feel pretty damn bad about that.

Then I think about my own childhood and I feel even worse! After all, I am doing to Minnie what was done to me, lo these 32 years ago, when my parents dethroned my only-child ass by bringing home a baby brother. I can still vividly recall the evening: I had been spending days at my grandmother's house and evenings at my beloved Nana's house while my poor mother was in the hospital with her 3-week-overdue pregnant stomach. During dinner at Nana's, the phone rang. A few minutes later, Nana hung up and whooped with her characteristic enthusiasm, "Hooray! You have a baby brother!" and then she picked me up, hugging me and spinning me around. She set me down and I can still remember looking at her doubtfully. "Are you sure?" I said, "Because I was really hoping we could get a dog instead." She probably laughed and hugged me again and gave me a great pep talk about the joys of being a big sister - I don't remember, but I do remember I wasn't buying it. If being a big sister was so great, why did everybody go for the hard sell?

That night I had a very vivid dream during which the Blue Fairy of Pinocchio fame (don't ask) told me that my new baby brother would immediately need some Flintstones chewable vitamins and an overnight bag that was soft like a stuffed animal. The next morning my dad came to pick me up and bring me back home where the intruder baby and my mother were waiting for us. In the car on the way home, I told my dad I was ready to assume big sister responsibilities and thus, we would need to stop at the drug store and pick up some Flintstones chewables and then a nice soft overnight bag.

Heaven bless my father. That man didn't protest. Hell, he didn't even blink. Here's a man with a four-and-a-half year old daughter who's clearly already headed for the loony bin and a giant blob/baby impersonator waiting at home with an exhausted wife and what did he do? He drove us straight to the nearest Revco (I believe) and plunked down some of his hard-earned cash for Flintstones chewables and an overnight bag that was shaped like a lady-bug. No questions asked. Because I guess it was more important to him that my request - although inspired by a fairy-tale character - seem reasonable to me. And perhaps because he wanted me to get off to a good start with my big-sister responsibilities. Or maybe he didn't want me to feel stupid and insignificant in light of the new family situation. I don't know. Maybe I'll ask him one of these days.

So if Minnie tells me that Bugger needs an overnight bag and some Flintstones chewable vitamins, and she knows this because a fairy-princess told her during a dream, I am all over it.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Good Talking To

Well, folks, apparently it's National De-lurking week and those of us who blog (and lurk) obsessively are supposed to de-lurk. I've tried to de-lurk on SOME blogs, but what with the (literal) pissing match going on around here, time has been kind of tight.

So, forgive my lame attempt at bossing you around and just de-lurk already, would ya?

Also, I'm going to start inventing national "weeks". It would seem that anybody can invent a week and I have now deemed next week national, "Patronize your local hardware store" week in honor of us getting our keys for our new house and my grudging reliance on and long-standing resentment of Home Depot. (Shakes fist at sky, muttering about big-box stores and the same-i-fication of America. And not a WORD about the same-i-fication invention. Somebody has to make up new words -why not me?)


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Urgent Cry for Help!

Remember when I said I was toying with the idea of getting a foster dog? No? Don't care - too frantic to link to it.

Anyway, foster fella - let's call him Bugger - is here. In the past 24 hours, he and my biting Wonderdog have gotten along okay - not great, but okay - except for ONE thing. It has been a poop/pee fest and really only in the last 3 hours. But DAMN if these two dogs aren't determined to mark up this whole rental unit. Other than taking them out compulsively (which I'm happy to do if it will prevent more little presents), is there anything else I can do?

Those of you who have multiple dog households and/or foster dogs: Does this subside? Minnie has been the culprit in 2 of the 3 recent marking episodes and I honestly can't blame her. This is HER house and I guess nobody really likes to share. And she is the only female dog I've ever seen who leg lifts (outside, on trees, but still. A leg lift's a leg lift.) So perhaps I should have expected this.

Sorry so short and perhaps badly written - must dash off to store for more carpet cleaning supplies!!!!


Monday, January 08, 2007

Oh, the Humanity!

Alternate title: You know it's time to seriously consider shutting down your blog when the following search brought some very unfortunate person to your site:

Warts on anus look like Nerds candy.

Oy Vey Gevalt on a Stick!!!!!!

What the FUCK is wrong with people?!?!

And yes. I know that if the freak show parade wasn't already marchin' right through Teacher Lady Town, they sure as hell are now, thanks to me typing out that Google search in its horrifying entirety.

Here is what I (someone who is supposed to be a "sex educator" and hence, not easily shocked) want to know: If you have warts on your anus, does it MATTER what they look like? I mean, seriously. Dude. (Or Dudette.) Genital warts can be transmitted anally. I've seen more than a few cases in every single textbook review copy I've ever gotten (Thank you, textbook publisher people. I paid you boatloads of money during my undergraduate years and this is what I have to show for it now. Pictures of genital warts. Gee, you shouldn't have!) and again I ask you: Genital warts, anal warts, any kinda warts - who CARES what they look like!? Run for the hills and get those suckers frozen off, right!?

I thought I was scared for our future. I didn't know a damn thing about scared, people. Now I'm scared. If you need me, I'll be under my bed. With some Vicodin and a fuzzy blanket.

It's Really Just Psychology

I love my new hair stylist. Have I mentioned this? Love. her.

Because I am so annoying fascinated by other people's jobs, I asked her about a million questions when she tackled my terrifying root problem on Thursday night. She told me about one of her continuing ed classes, which was called something like, "The Psychology of the Chair." Psychology of the Hair would have worked just as well for a title, I think, but nobody asked me.

Apparently, the instructor told my stylist and all the other stylists that when you have a new client come in for a consult, if s/he cannot figure out what s/he wants within the course of a 10-minute conversation, it is time for your calendar to suddenly become full-to-bursting. You are not accepting any new clients - sorry, but you just realized that right this very second.

"What's the logic?" I asked, completely intrigued. "Well," she replied, "Someone who cannot decide on a haircut or style within 10 minutes of discussing it will never be happy with anything you do. Ne-ver. With anything. And I learned that years ago and never forgot it because it is 110% true." Now I was absolutely hooked. "Really? It's that simple? You can tell if someone is going to be a huge pain-in-the-ass within 1o minutes!? That's a miracle!" She shook her head. "Not really. Don't you think that's true in life in general?"

I thought about it. I realized that I know a lovely business woman who owns a catering company and has managed to determine in a single consult if a bride will ruin her life and somehow then steers the bride to another caterer.

My advisor told me last spring, after about my third or fourth run-in with Inappropriate Sister (do I really have to link to her?) I should have expected it. "Why?" I asked, again mystified by things that people seem to know that I don't.

She has been teaching college for 30 years. "Didn't you tell me that she e-mailed you the first week of the semester, begging you to add her brother to the class?" This was true, I had made the fatal mistake of adding her brother to my roster. Then she (Inappropriate Sister, not my advisor) traipsed in late the first day of class and then spent the remaining minutes of class giggling and talking with her brother until I gave her the stink-eye and finally, the verbal bitch-slap.

But how did my advisor know that would happen? Here was the Yoda-like answer: "I have found - fair or not - that students who have problems at the very beginning of the semester - just getting into the class - will be a problem all semester long. I know it seems harsh, but it always seems to work out that way. Now, when my class is full and someone is begging me to add them, I just say no. It's never worth it in the long-run. It's basically a fool-proof way to determine who is going to drive you nuts all semester long with an endless array of problems and issues."

I thought about this today because when I opened my e-mail I had about a three paragraph plea, explaining some kind of problem, begging me to let her into my (already closed) class. The semester hasn't even started. Ordinarily, I would just e-mail her back and write, "Sure, no problem. People usually drop anyway - not a big deal." But then I thought about my very recent conversation with my hair dresser. And my not-so-recent conversation with my advisor who has been doing this a helluva lot longer than I have. And now? Not so sure . . . I will you keep you posted.

On a similar note, anybody else in education or any other field have a "fool-proof method" for determining if a student/client/customer is going to be a nightmare? I find this stuff fascinating!


Friday, January 05, 2007

Bossy, Yet Still Polite

I learned two things yesterday from FirstCityBook.

1.) Some people think I am opinionated. And I'm all, "Wha? Huh!? Me?"

2.) And then I learned that, "The BBCNews recently reported that many of the blogs that have been created are generally abandoned within the first month or two because the blogger discovers how little he/she has to say after all." (Must I use proper APA format when citing other bloggers or is it okay to say that FirstCityBook over at Red Moon Cafe wrote this?)

And then I thought, "People think they don't have anything to say? Really? Or it only takes them a month or two to realize this? How is this possible because I have something to say all the time. In fact, sometimes I have so much to say I can't sleep at night, because of all the things that need sayin' flying through the frantic and crowded ghetto that is my brain." And then I thought, "Oh. Perhaps that is what he means by opinionated."

Here is what I have to say today. It's about a very critical and important issue and this is why my blog will go on into infinity - I'm opinionated about very critical and important issues. Today's critical and important issue: My very important and opinionated thoughts on a bumper sticker I saw yesterday. The sticker in question read:

Please don't put my American flag on your foreign car.

Because I'm trying (honest! I swear!) to be less "knee-jerk liberal" and more "open to multiple opinions" I first identified what I liked about the bumper sticker. It is polite. I mean, really? How many bumper stickers (or any stickers, for that matter) have you seen lately that begin with "please"? Not that many, right? After all, manners are social lubricant. (I didn't make that up. Someone important said it. Maybe Miss Manners? Ann Landers? Carolyn Hax? If you can tell me the answer, you get a first-time subscribers only Teacher Lady newsletter or whatever other non-prize I can think to make up).

So, if you start your bumper sticker with "please" you have my attention.

Now here's where I get all Teacher-Lady-Opinionated on your asses: My flag?!?! My flag. Oh, my - aren't some of us presumptuous! Listen, mister, unless your name is Betsy Ross, (in which case, way to go on the nifty reincarnation as a pick-up truck driving white dude) it ain't your flag. I believe it is our flag.

Yeah, that's right - our. I said our. As much as it might vex you, I am an American citizen, too and hence, it is also my flag - but I believe it is a collective "my". You see, I was born in this country. As were my parents and their parents and their parents before them. No, we're way too ethnic and loud and messy and dysfunctional to have been Mayflower passengers, but still. Americans, just the same. I have worked crappy jobs since I was 16 years old which means I have been paying taxes for more than half of my wretched life. I have a Social Security number. I vote. In almost all elections - even local ones, sometimes, if it's not raining.

I pump money into our local economy by trying my damnedest (how do you spell that, anyway?) to patronize locally-owned businesses and avoid giant chains. (Although it's getting harder every day.) I rescued a dog that no one else wanted and I pick up her dog turds after each and every neighborhood excursion. I have car insurance because it's the law - but many people don't anyway - and also so I can be a good citizen. I have volunteered for countless organizations (all American, by the way - American Red Cross, the Arthritis Foundation, the Ronald McDonald House, and our local (and American) county dog shelter.) I give blood when I don't get turned away for being borderline anemic and when I had a real job I also gave money (and not just time) to charitable organizations. Oh - and I teach. American college kids who are just going to end up hating me for telling them they can't have a word bank and actually need to learn seven words, but I try.

But. I drive a "foreign" car. Does this mean that everything else I do that I consider part of being a good American citizen is crossed out by my choice of fuel-efficient vehicles? Somehow, it is no longer "my" flag - it is now "your" flag and yours alone? And working and paying taxes and being born here and all the other things we use to determine citizenship don't count because . . . of what I drive? Oh - and also, I forgot: You sir, and you alone can lay claim to the American flag. In fact, why even call it the American flag anymore? Let's just call it _______ (insert your name here)'s flag? Okay? That seems fair.

So that's today's opinionated rant. And also, even though I'm not sure I agree with the bumper sticker, I do appreciate that it asked politely.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

2006: A Retrospective

Because I'm so lazy 2006 was such an eventful year, I thought I'd do a month-by-month retrospective, highlighting all the big events in my fascinating life during the glorious year of 2006. Plus, this keeps me from having to come up with an original thought. Ready? Here we go!!

January was my inaugural blog month. I also barely survived my first cruise! Could my life be any more interesting!? (And also? That is NOT a picture of me, as someone asked. People - that is a DUDE! Granted, a very tan, very clean-shaven, rather dainty dude, but a dude all the same.)

In February, I proved to the world my psychic friends' network talents by prematurely awarding Inappropriate Brother and Sister the PITA Award. (If I only knew what awaited me . . . sigh. Ignorance truly can be bliss.)

In March, I took it upon myself to educate the ignorant, unwashed masses (not you, gentle readers - definitely not you!) about the proper way to discuss (or not discuss) a woman's state of . . . motherhood? Parenthood? Child-free, uh, dom? Okay, I just decided to get all bossy and rant and stuff. What else is new, really?

Home repairs were a big theme in 2006, and April was the month during which I almost hung myself with an extension cord. Finances were also tight when some extra vet bills made their way onto the balance sheet. Fun. Dog tranquilizers + Home repairs = wee bit o' insanity!

'Tis May! The lovely month of May! Where do I begin? May is the month during which I realized that when you teach at a B-list school, retention of students is more important than anything else. More important than fairness, or ability, or, well, anything. Although our kitchen was finished and lots of other wonderful things happened, May is the month that I realized I might be marching into the wrong profession.

Ah, June. My part-time summer jobs as wedding planner and student advisor kicked into full swing. Enjoy the trip down memory lane!

July: More weddings and more classic Teacher Lady bitchiness. What would I do without this blog and a whole bunch of anonymous people to boss around with my priceless unsolicited ass-vice?

August wasn't good for me or my poor dog. We put our house up for sale and the world's strangest realtors took it upon themselves to fill our house with little signs that, ah, stated the obvious - to say the least!

September: A move + the worst case of insomnia I've ever had = bad, bad things!

I found out during the month of October that no matter what you do (or don't do) in a Human Sexuality class, you're going to offend someone. Seriously. These kids expect to watch porn in my classroom, but a human uterus? Now that's offensive.

November = I'm a NaBloPoMo dropout. It was kind of fun while it lasted, though. And it did bring us the beginning of a new series, How I Dated My Husband.

And I guess the big news in December was . . . I got bangs! Just kidding. We bought a house. Not a bad way to wrap up a crazy year, if I don't say so myself.

Now, all you bloggers go back and do the same thing. Review your year so I can read the highlights in 30 minutes or less. Go! Get out of here, go on! And then come back and tell me when your retrospective is posted. Peace, y'all.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My New Year's Resolution

This will not be an entertaining entry. It will probably not even be clear or well-organized. Not exactly the way I had hoped to kick off the new year, but even Teacher Lady can mature. Or suffer from incurable clinical depression. To-may-to, To-mah-to. But I had a strange, brief experience yesterday that has me (perhaps inexplicably?) rattled and depressed.

Yesterday I went to Borders to drool over some of the home decorating magazines. After all, we are soon-to-be the official proud owners of a 70-year-old house and what else can you do with your spare time, sanity and disposable income (all of which are in short supply) besides gut and renovate, gut and renovate, gut and renovate some more? (Seriously. I’m taking suggestions. Since Mr. J. and I got married, that is all we do. I think other people have hobbies and children to use up their spare time, sanity and disposable income, but I’m not quite sure.)

The home decorating magazines are kind of obnoxious which is why I can’t decide whether I love them or hate them or love to hate them. You know the kind – an article entitled, “Bathroom Must-Haves!” includes “must-haves” like a ceramic tile floor with a heating element underneath so your wee tootsies never feel the winter chill when stepping out of a fabulous (also must-have) spa-quality steam shower. Did I mention on every other page is an ad for the European towel warmers – also listed as a “must-have” in the ubiquitous bathroom “must-have” articles – explaining how now you can bring the luxury of your recent European vacation home with you? I’ve never been to Europe. Perhaps if I get one of these towel-warmer thingies, I will feel like I have been to Europe.

As I was mopping my drool off the shiny cover of the newest issue of “Fabulous Things for Your Home That Most of You Will Never Be Able to Afford” I overheard – no, not overheard – I was exposed to – a most disturbing cell phone conversation. Not disturbing like seeing a parent beat his or her child in a supermarket, but disturbing nonetheless.

This young woman was speaking so loudly that for a second I thought she must be speaking to me, until I turned around and saw her less than five feet away from me, on her cell phone, facing the only blank space of wall in all of Borders. Her first conversation went like this:

“Yes, I’m 22 years old and I’m 5’1” and weigh 126 pounds. I have a very high percent of body fat and looking in the mirror is extremely upsetting to me. I’d like to have some of my problem areas liposuctioned. I have some savings and I have some insurance.” Because I’m so nosy, I had to turn around and get a better look at this young woman. I only saw the back of her, but quite honestly? She looked fine to me. Then again, maybe her abdomen was the “trouble area” but still – liposuction at 22?

I tried to block out this conversation because I didn’t want to leave the drooly decorating magazine area. After all, can’t you call plastic surgeons from just about anywhere in Borders? Much to my relief, she finished the conversation quickly and I was able to get re-absorbed in an article about Italian! Ceramic! Tile! It’s not just for Billionaires anymore!

Then, she dialed another number. (Does she have numbers for all the local plastic surgeons programmed into her cell phone? Why was she doing this at Borders? Trying to hide this desire for liposuction from roommates or family members?) The second conversation was longer and louder and even more disturbing – this girl was losing it. You could hear her choking back the tears as she talked about how much she hated looking at herself in the mirror. And – again – the stats – I’m only 5’1” and I weigh 126 pounds, I have a very unhealthy body fat ratio, etc., etc., and I just can’t stand myself anymore.

I finally grabbed some snooty decorating magazines and ran to another part of the store, but this woman’s public angst and self-hatred sticks with me, even 24 hours later. I have a new year’s resolution now: Stay home. Don’t venture into the outside world unless absolutely necessary. Not only are people in lots of psychological pain, they are comfortable (unwittingly?) sharing it with the outside world. I don’t know what rattled me more – the self-hatred, the tears or the complete and total willingness to have this conversation in public.

I understand that just by being a member of society, one will see and/or hear things that one does not want or need to see or hear. I worked one summer during college at an amusement park. Seeing strangers vomiting? Yeah, no one needs to see or hear that, ever. And when you work at an amusement park, it becomes pretty routine. Not tolerable, ever, but somehow still routine. Car accidents, domestic spats, all kinds of things come into our line of vision when we are the least prepared (emotionally/physically/psychologically) to see them. But something about overhearing this young woman’s conversations was more disturbing than seeing a stranger vomit a chili dog after staggering off of the Hurricane. (And believe me, I have lots of experience with that one.) In a way, I felt like I had accidentally walked in on this young woman while she was in her therapist’s office. Or a department store dressing room. Or a public restroom stall. And all I could do was cringe in embarrassment and horror and apologize profusely and back away with my eyes closed.

I’ve read and heard about people overhearing inappropriate cell phone conversations in places where they (the over-hearer) are trapped – i.e., a bus, the subway, an elevator, etc., This was kind of a first for me – although I wasn’t exactly trapped – and I’m sure it won’t be the last inappropriate conversation I overhear. But what is happening in this world? I know I’m not asking anything original or deep – or at least not anything that hasn’t already been asked publicly by everyone from Oprah to Andy Rooney. Is this just now a part of modern society? We will be exposed to everyone’s secret, painful private business, whether we are interested or not, on a regular basis? And – although I don’t really want the answer – would I have been a Good Samaritan – or at least a better human being – if I had approached the young woman between calls and said something like, “I’m sure you don’t realize it, but we can all hear your conversation and it sounds like something you would probably like to keep private?” Or would that have been rude and somehow have implied that I was eavesdropping and therefore the one at fault? After all, I could have walked away as soon as I got the gist of the first conversation.

I think I have a slogan. 2007: The year of the tiny but powerful earplugs. Happy New Year, indeed.