Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Throw a Bucket of Water on Me and see if I Melt

Today was rotten. No joke. April 1, 2008 ranks up there with election day in November of 1980.

There may have been worse ones, but not so laughably awful.

Perhaps I should compare them. . . .

Election Day, 1980.

I was living in Las Cruces, NM. I was newly married (to my ex-husband) and a student at New Mexico State University. I can remember that I was pretty disgusted with the presidential offerings. At a costume Halloween Party the weekend before I'd made everyone laugh when I called up the Lyndon Laroche infomercial and got a campaign supporter on the phone and started asking her really stupid questions and then asked her if his show was a game show or a pilot for a new comedy show. (Amazing how beer can make some things funnier) The very sincere young lady on the other end of the phone finally made a disgusted noise and hung up on me. That was funny too.

I get up on election day and I go and perform my patriotic citizen duty and I cast my ballot for 3rd party candidate John Anderson. What's funny now is that I have a hard time remembering who I was voting against (Reagan and who?) What an odd thing to remember, but I was wearing some substantial heels that day (like I need heels at five foot nine). I went to my marketing class with Dr. Lill. I really liked him and I really liked the class very much. I remember standing in line after class to ask him a question. The next thing I remember, I'm on the floor and the kindly professor was kind of shaking me and looking very concerned. I had apparently passed smooth clean out in the small auditorium. Mortified, I assured him that I was just fine and having forgot my question, got to my car and went by a friend's house. It was about 11 am and we were standing outside and she asked me if I had been drinking.

I told her that the last time I'd been drinking that she was with me and sweet Luisa said "You don't look like you are okay."

I decided that perhaps I'd better go home, so I did. I figured this was a good day to find a great book and chill. I had to eat though and took the easy way out and heated up a can of chef boyardee ravioli (still one of my favorite comfort foods) and went to my chair and set the plate down on the ottoman in front of me and then sat and leaned over and put my drink down on the end table. I heard a rumble of thundering paws and my tiny cat Kamikaze Louise launched herself at the ottoman and stuck her face right into my plate of ravioli. I was incensed. I reached to swat her and she swerved and I got up and chased her and ran smack into the wrought iron chandelier in the dining area (that didn't have a table yet). I woke up on the floor with Kamikaze licking my face (I guess she could have been eating my food)

It was at this point that I decided that I was having a bad day. Unconscious twice by noon in a single day is a bad omen. I decided that I was going to lay VERY low and get on the couch and not move for the rest of the day. One would normally think that is a non hazardous behavior but at some point a spider crawled out from under the couch and bit my ankle resulting in a nasty whelp.

John Anderson lost.

April 1, 2008

I missed last Thursday and Friday because of medical issues. Today I was back with my AP Art History kids and we were prepared to finally do our presentations on cathedrals. I set up my not very portable technology (it takes 20 minutes out of a class period to put up the projector and laptop and power it down and go store it down the hall). The announcements came on and there was some stern stuff being said. There was a big fight yesterday after school and I guess trouble has been brewing because there were offers of consequences for bad behavior. THEN, there is an announcement that there is going to be a meeting for seniors at the end of announcements which pulls out all but two of my students.

Criminee. So we can't do our presentations and we are pushed back another day, so I spend the period with the two kids left trying to explain the beginnings of the Renaissance. They didn't know who Marco Polo was or what city-states were.

Have you ever tried to explain who Marco Polo was? I'm grateful that I am enough of a student of history that I can do a passable job, but juniors and seniors in high school should freaking know who Marco Polo was (other than a game in a swimming pool).

I have to teach this class in the library which is inconvenient because other folks can randomly wander in and look for stuff. Also, if testing is going on in the library, I may get five minutes notice that I have to teach art history in the cafeteria that day. That doesn't work very well.

I have to go make a copy, so I wander across the library. . .while I am at the copy machine I see the library clerk with a stack of what looked like hardback comic books. They look like something you'd see in a rack at an elementary school and they are obviously new because she is adding shelving stickers to them.

"What the hell is that?" I ask as I point at the stack of at least 25 skinny colorful books. She tells me they are graphic novels. I've noticed a trend in that direction, so I pick one up and it's really juvenile. I shake my head and say "Why do we buy these, this is baby stuff" and she shrugs and says, "well, it's popular and it gets them to read." As an educated human, and a taxpayer in this district, I'm somewhat offended (I don't blame the clerk, she's just putting stickers on) but still I tell her what I think about such a thing. She tells me that a lot of things are coming out in graphic novels and that it's a way to get the kids to read stuff they should read. She says the graphic novel of Beowulf is pretty popular.

I'm still offended and I see a theater teacher and an English teacher that I adore. I ask them if they had to read real books when they were growing up and they both said that they did. I pointed at the stack of graphic novels and they shake their heads. I do too. They are funny and cute and nice and we talked a few minutes about what book nerds we are and I outnerded them by telling them that I'd read every play by Shakespeare when I was in high school.

Late in the period, all the seniors came back and I ask them if anyone has read The Complete Shakespeare. They look at me blankly (as they normally do). One guy says, "I read Hamlet." One girls says she read MacBeth. The Hamlet guy says "What do you mean, The Complete Shakespeare?" I look at him and say, "that means I read all of his plays."

"How many is that?" he asks. I don't know the exact number but I tell him "almost 40." The kids look at each other and they look back at me like I've grown a second head. Hamlet boy says "Miss, WHY would you do that?" I look at him and then at all of them and say "Why have you NOT?"

I often ask this group of kids if they think they have gotten a good education. They seem to think it is okay. I often tell them that I think I worked harder at it. I think that was obvious today although we all left feeling kind of strange.

I was pretty sad as I walked across our huge campus to another building to teach my next class. I have a few minutes (it's called lunch) and I pull up my email and there is a message that enrages me. Not a little, I'm so mad that I start crying and I can't stop. I'm trying to compose a reply that stops short of saying that I have small armed tactical missiles aimed at the business office of the school and the kids start coming in for the next class. Several of them stop on their way in and ask me to do things and I told the first kid "I'm really mad right now, it's not about you, I want to bite someone very much, would you rather wait to talk to me." He decides it's better to wait.

Pink Angel comes in and she has a question and I tell her pretty much the same thing. I ask her to give me five minutes and I will answer her question. I've totally lost my composure at this point.

Intermission: Why am I so mad? I've been trying to get supplies for 65 students in a particular class all year and I'm told that I can't buy from the ONLY vendor in the state that I know of because they are inactive. The vendor is inactive because they refuse to do business with my district because it took six months for them to get paid last time. They will sell to us but only with cash up front. I've scrambled for almost everything to supply 65 kids all year (all that has kept me going are the generous donations of wonderful friends), I've bankrupted every studio supply that I personally own and I'm just out of everything. I thought I had made arrangements to get my supplies through another angle but the business manager and I do not communicate well and for about the fifth time she tells me to find another vendor. I blast back at there that there is NOT another vendor that I cannot snap my fingers and make one appear. I've BEGGED for help from the people in my administration and I'm not getting it. My blood pressure is dangerously high (148 over 109)

So, I'm sitting in my class and I'm crying. I think it scared the kids. One boy said "Miss, is this an April Fool? Are you just messing with us?" A girl smacked him on the arm and said "Boy, you are stupid, she's really upset." I try to do my job and help them advance the current project (they are doing well and I appreciate them) but I'm barely holding myself together. I am sure to tell them that I am NOT mad at them that me being upset has nothing to do with them. One girl comes up and says "Miss, do you need a hug?" I accept it gratefully. I calm a little bit and I try to explain in very simple terms that I am frustrated by the way that our district does business because it keeps me from being able to provide the best I can for our kids. I want to bite someone.

They are all working and I go sit down. Pink Angel comes up to me and she says "Miss, it's okay. It's going to be okay. You're alive. Just pray to God and it will be okay. God loves you Miss, and I love you Miss. "

I almost melt down again. She tells me that if I want to get another job that she bets her daddy can get me another job. She says she knows I'm a good worker. She offers a donation of ten dollars. This is a ninth grade child who is fifteen. I tell her to keep her money but then she asks if I can at least go get her a Sprite out of the teacher machine (20 oz bottles instead of 12 oz cans). She said if I have change for a ten then I could have nine of it.

I go get her Sprite and I come back and she hugs me and holds me close and says "Miss, it's going to be okay."

During my conference period, I go to my friend the nurse and she takes my aforementioned blood pressure and fusses at me. She tells me I'm going to die if my blood pressure doesn't go down. She directs me to our friend the dean. I talk to him and he tells me who I need to talk to solve my problem. I start crying again and he's kind, but tells me that he cannot solve my problem, but directs me to a specific person.

I go to the main office, I'm obviously distraught. The office ladies want to know what I want and I tell them that I need to talk to someone in particular who happens not to be available. They take me out of the lobby and have me sit and give me kleenex. I can see that the principal is in his office meeting with someone and I'm sitting outside waiting for the other dean. The principal escorts out his guest and he sees me and he names my class that I'm having issue with and I melt down again and he has me come in. He makes several phone calls and promises that he will do what he can to get me what I need for my students. I tell him that I'm not being a big girl today and he's so nice and says I don't have to be.

I get to my next class which is filled with my incredibly smart kids that I love more than anything. They are kind and offer to beat up the world for me. I'm so grateful for them. They are strange and quirky and so so smart. They love to learn for learning's sake. They are every shape size and color and they are a family, and I'm grateful to be part of that family. This is the good part of the day.

Drumrollllll. I get to go get the results from my MRI. I've apparently got an almost complete tear in one of the tendons in my shoulder. Not all the way, just mostly all the way. My chiropractor looks at the report and says, well, this means surgery.

Chiropractors usually don't say the surgery word. DAMN.

This does not sound like fun.