Friday, April 30, 2010

Foolish Notions About the Importance of Love.

I don’t like it when couples break up. This includes celebrity couples. I know nothing about them, of course, and they’re so distant from my life that they could be made up. But we all think we know celebrities, and that we know all about their fairy tale perfect lives. It just seems like such an admonishment of “true love” when a couple like Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins split; if they can’t make it who else is doomed to fail? The current situation with Sandra Bullock and Jesse James fits this category. They’ve never really been on my radar, per se, but having seen random interviews, the stories they shared about life together always seemed very sweet. And then, of course, there was Sandra’s speech at the Oscars. You just seemed to feel the love she had for her husband. Not only was it cute, it just felt real. It made her moment all the more special because this was a non-conventional relationship that seemed to be beating all the odds to bring both husband and wife real happiness. Recent scandal in their relationship has been all the more titillating to the public because of the discrepancies between the projected image and what seems to be reality. I’ve polled friends about their feelings. Not so much, “Do you think he’s a cad?” The feelings on that one I’d expect to be unanimous. I wonder, though, how many people would file for divorce over infidelity such as this.

Infidelity can be a terrible thing. No one likes to feel that they’ve opened themselves up to a loved one just to have that trust trampled. Sex is associated with love, and for many people the two can’t be separated. If someone cheats on a relationship, it is akin to saying that they no longer love their betrothed. A bond has been broken.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Sex can be a simple act that doesn’t have emotional connection. It can mean love, or not. Sometimes it’s simply about the physical. There are plenty of people that believe love can exist without a relationship becoming physically intimate; surely the reverse can be true, can’t it?

I would think that what would really be hurtful and damaging would be the lies that went along with infidelity, or the idea that something that was supposed to belong only to one person was carelessly shared with others. There was a House on recently that featured a couple with an open marriage. The program made a lot of moral judgments about this situation, and no doubt such an arrangement could certainly be harmful to a relationship. It doesn’t have to be, though. The honesty could make up for the pain; without the lies, the situation may be not only bearable but quite workable for some people.

With most people I’ve spoken to, it’s been indicated that the magnitude of James’ infidelity is the problem. It’s not that he cheated once, it’s that he has a chronic problem. Despite how contrite he seems, his consistency with being duplicitous is what can’t be forgiven. “Once or twice, maybe even more, I guess you could forgive. But to constantly be having affairs and pretending everything was good in the marriage, that’s not something I think I’d want to live with.”
Only one person considered the situation in a different light. He made a point that I found really intriguing. It was much more upsetting to him, and by far much more of a deal-breaker” that James had racist tendencies. Rumor had broken that many of his indiscretions were with women that had first been encountered on hatemongering websites. For my friend, and for myself, this was the stumbling block that we personally wouldn’t be able to overcome. Finding out my husband was a letch; I might be able to overcome that. Overcoming white supremacy? Not possible. I found it very intriguing that the two of us in my extremely informal polling of friends that agreed infidelity could be overlooked were also the ones that found mistreatment of others to be the deciding factor. The personal could be potentially dealt with; the impersonal could not.

I don’t know that there’s any real conclusion to be drawn from this. Maybe my concurring friend and I are masochists that have to be proven wrong repeatedly before giving up on a person and everyone else is very wise. I like to think, though, that maybe we’re just a little more realistic and willing to overlook or deal with others’ imperfections in the name of keeping something rare like love alive. A hopeless romantic, perhaps, but I’d rather be a trusting soul who becomes disillusioned than a constant cynic who doesn’t trust at all.

Would Doogie Howser make Angie's List?

If Doogie Howser were real, would you let him be your doctor? I asked this to some friends the other day and didn’t get any sort of real response. One insisted that “Doogie couldn’t be real, so this conversation is pointless.” His refusal to suspend disbelief left me without the answers I was looking for.
The way I see it, if a kid were brilliant enough to get through medical school by twelve or thirteen, his mastery over the content is probably pretty complete. Obviously, his EQ would most likely not match his IQ. In some ways, this may actually be beneficial to his patients. He would see quite analytically what the answer to a medical question would be, without considering emotional complications. As a patient, you’d be receiving just an honest, cut and dried set of options. The facts would be laid out and a patient would be able to choose his course based on simply medical facts and figures without the doctor’s baggage attached to the recommendation.
Plus, you could probably haggle and trade medical services for the price of a Playboy, admission to an R rated film or a six pack of beer.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Music for Every Occasion.

Until I was studying Education, it never occurred to me that people learned in different ways. Perhaps it is narcissistic, or just generally short-sighted, but I just assumed that all people learn and think as I do. Through the beauty of meta-cognition, I have become very intrigued by notions of others’ thoughts and perceptions. I find myself discussing this with a lot of different people, and I’m always fascinated to find out about differences.
For most of the world, scent is the most powerful of the senses in terms of evoking memory. Of course, Proust had his madeleines, so I suppose that this, too, is different for everyone. Scent is strongest for me, but sound is a very close second. If I have done an activity while listening to something specific, say television or particular music, the activity/completed project will trigger an entire playback of it later. A certain poster I framed while Welcome Back, Kotter played in the background always calls to mind a Barbarino conversation about “the Great French Fry phantom” (the Great Potato Famine, for those of you who aren’t Vinnie-literate.) And certainly songs are attached to people. For the most part these are songs that were played at an important time that they were around. Maybe a favorite song that played a lot on the radio, maybe a song played during a first kiss.
This isn’t always the case, though. I’ve discovered that many songs I attribute to people, I’ve actually attached after the fact. The song comes to make me think of them, and it becomes a strong association. I’ve found that this is somewhat atypical, and it surprised me to find that this isn’t what happens with all people. For one, a fellow that would never be clear about feelings, it’s Todd Rundgren’s “Hello, It’s Me.” For my best friend, it’s Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day,” after spending a most lovely afternoon at the zoo. A childhood friend will always be “Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone,” due to an uncanny resemblance to the front man for Glass Tiger.
I think I have a song in my head for just about every person I know. I’m like the Secret Santa Ally McBeal, a theme song for all, but it plays in my head instead of theirs.

Monday, April 26, 2010

You Can Give it to Me When I Need to Be Turned On

courtesy of I Am the Worst Blogger
A Letter from Richard Feynman to His Wife
To Arline Feynman, October 17, 1946


I adore you, sweetheart … It is such a terribly long time since I last wrote to you — almost two years but I know you’ll excuse me because you understand how I am, stubborn and realistic; and I thought there was no sense to writing. But now I know my darling wife that it is right to do what I have delayed in doing, and what I have done so much in the past. I want to tell you I love you.

I find it hard to understand in my mind what it means to love you after you are dead — but I still want to comfort and take care of you — and I want you to love me and care for me. I want to have problems to discuss with you — I want to do little projects with you. I never thought until just now that we can do that. What should we do. We started to learn to make clothes together — or learn Chinese — or getting a movie projector.

Can’t I do something now? No. I am alone without you and you were the “idea-woman” and general instigator of all our wild adventures. When you were sick you worried because you could not give me something that you wanted to and thought I needed. You needn’t have worried.

Just as I told you then there was no real need because I loved you in so many ways so much. And now it is clearly even more true — you can give me nothing now yet I love you so that you stand in my way of loving anyone else — but I want to stand there.

I’ll bet that you are surprised that I don’t even have a girlfriend after two years. But you can’t help it, darling, nor can I — I don’t understand it, for I have met many girls … and I don’t want to remain alone — but in two or three meetings they all seem ashes. You only are left to me. You are real.

My darling wife, I do adore you. I love my wife. My wife is dead,


PS Please excuse my not mailing this — but I don’t know your new address.

found at Cynical-C

This tears your heart out. I see so much of my own relationship in it and the empathy is palpable. A terrible thing to be left alone, and yet always in the presence of the one you love.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


You are only as old as you feel. Be young at heart. Age is a state of mind, not a number. I really do believe all of these things, as a rule. On days when all attention is paid to you and an increase in your official number, however, it's somewhat difficult to not pay a little attention to it.

When you're really young, every increase in number means some new special privilege. Twelve was going to the mall with girlfriends alone, sixteen was driving, eighteen was voting (and for others I'm sure it also meant things like smoking and porn shops, but I was not that kind of girl), twenty-one's the most awesome, of course. Someone asked me the other day at which point new birthdays stopped being exciting because there was no new prize with the day, and I quickly responded "twenty-four." In my head, twenty-five equaled adulthood. At that point, things like unemployment or reckless behavior were not so adorable anymore. Expectations set in. Twenty-nine was okay; it was kind of a last number hurrah. My early thirties really didn't bother me, either. And with thirty-five, I just went for that, "Okay, now I can be President" attitude. But thirty-six... it's on the other side of the fulcrum. The teeter-totter's directed at forty now. Like Meg Ryan, "I'm going to be forty!," but "someday" isn't that nebulous. It's just lurking around the corner now.

People that are older than me all scoff. People that are younger indicate "pfft, who cares?" but I have noticed that this usually comes after, "Oh my God. You're going to be 36? I thought you were a lot younger. You don't look 36." Sigh. That really doesn't make anything better. Like it's some horrendous number, but at least you don't look that old; if you did, that would be worth fretting about.

Looking in the mirror over the last year, I see sun damage. I see faint lines around my eyes where the skin seems to be getting thinner. (The only part of me that seems to be getting thinner, despite attention to calories and giving in and actually using the home gym.) I have the beginnings of "parentheses" near my nose and mouth; the skin on my hands and feet seem crepey after sun exposure now; my knees sound like someone shaking a Yahtzee cup when I'm on the stairs. I deal with things like heartburn now. And the furrow line; a little vertical stitch dedicated to all the stresses accumulated over thirty-six years (though most likely attributed to the last five, spent in public education.) Ah, well. Like my age, these things are only going to increase in number. And they're really only noticed by myself. They are superficial bothersome things, and not really worth worry. After all, I've always loved how men's eyes get little lines around them as they age. Perhaps I should look to find some positives in myself, as well.

It's really the other things that accompany aging that are truly worrisome. I always assumed at this age I'd be totally settled, and contented in life. While I may know who it is with whom I'll spend the rest of my life, I am technically thirty-six and unmarried. Barren (yeah, I'll use the "old maid" words for dramatic effect here.) Tubby. Fairly unhealthy. Debt. Still driving what Niles Crane would refer to as "some sort of hunchback" that prominently displays a dashboard Donald Duck. I've got education that makes me pretty much overqualified, but under-experienced, for any career I'd dream of. I'm unemployed. I think that's the real kicker. I feel like I'm starting over; still forced to deal with the huge question of "what do you want to do when you grow up?" I don't feel like I'm anywhere near "grown-up," despite my age, and I'm no closer to knowing what it is I'm supposed to do with the rest of my life.

It's easy on days like this to ignore the accomplishments of my life. And I know that friends would be quick to point these out. There are certainly things I have to be proud of. They don't seem today like the ones I am supposed to have accomplished, though. I don't know. I feel like I'm too old to be a cool kid, and too young to want to acquiesce into bland and settled. I don't want to be Carrie Bradshaw in the ill-fated being forty and fabulous photo shoot, but I don't like this weird in-between, still-trying-to-figure-it-out stage, either.

Is there such a thing as 'tween years for those of us technically ready for a mid-life crisis?

Awkward Breakups.

I've never understood people that choose to have difficult conversations in public places. We've all unintentionally been privy to these somewhat hushed and then waaay too loud conversations between couples. Sometimes it's a test-the-waters trial reconciliation, sometimes it's an irrational argument that ends with someone storming out, and every now and again you get the super-awkward breakup. The worst I have ever witnessed was the ending of a relationship that took place at Disneyland. Seriously, the Happiest Place on Earth.

Not all of the details were apparent. At a table adjacent to my own at the Blue Bayou Restaurant (the one inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride), was seated an early twenty-something doting boy and his less than enthused female companion. While the animatronic man o' the bayou played "O Susanna" on a loop, the girl spoke in stern quiet words. The guy gasped audibly, his voice broke as he choked out, "But why?" There were more incomprehensible feminine words, followed by even higher pitched plaintive "b.b.but's" and "I don't believe you really mean this's." All the while, families in mouse ears are scarfing down cajun-esque food and soaking up air conditioning. Pirates are chanting about the yo-ho life for them and there are too many rolling "R"s and "mateys" to keep track of in the air. I don't know how this eventually played out. After a few very awful sniffling minutes, the waitress returned to their table with the credit card (and yes, to make this even worse, he had paid), and the no-longer-a-couple left.

I've thought about this event way too many times over the years. Who thinks this is a good idea? The duo was obviously at the park together, and it doesn't make any sense that they would have driven there separately. To have this make any sort of sense, I have always gone with the assumption that the two were local, so at least there wasn't a hotel check-out and travel that had to be done together afterwards. At the very least, there was the walk to the car, and the ride home for these people to have to endure with one another. It just makes no sense that this girl would have done this at this location. Who picks an amusement park for a break-up? I don't even get the whole public place thing, but really, Disneyland? I imagine this sensitive fella in his youth, totally enamored with Mickey Mouse and the gang, and totally in love with all the adventure that Disney tales provide. He probably had a 'coon skin cap and an Indian head dress. And it goes without saying in my invented story for them, he was a devoted swashbuckler. The Pirates was probably his most favorite ride of all time. And now, the place of his dreams was turned into a place of heartbreak and sorrow. I don't know the story behind these two; he could have been the world's biggest prick for all I know. It's just really, really wrong to break someone's heart at Mickey Mouse's California home, no matter your motivation.

How Fucking Inept is the Average Person? eegads.

There are People out there that Get Frustrated at Work? Weird.

video courtesy of Bits and Pieces

"The only good part of "How to Raise a Dragon" is that I finally got to see a real life Pegasus." - Aunt Linda

image courtesy of Bits and Pieces


Woman arrested for shooting people with blow darts
A 41-year-old Plover woman is behind bars awaiting charges after allegedly driving around hitting people with blow darts.

Stevens Point Police say Paula Wolf was arrested at about 9:30 on Wednesday night, after police say she drove around in her van shooting people with blow darts. In total, police say about 5 people were shot with blow darts.

Wolf tells police the reason she shot people with blow darts is because she likes to hear people say the word 'ouch.'

Police say when Wolf was pulled over they found a blow gun, a sling shot, and a small bucket of rocks sitting on the floor of that van she was driving. She is currently in the Portage County Jail.

posted by arbroath at 8:06 AM Comments

a blatant cut & paste from Arbroath

Hard to Top a Monkey.

image courtesy of Arbroath

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Keeping More Than One Thing In My Head.

I don't like to think of myself as scatter-brained, but I suppose I really ought to. It's not as if I'm a squirrel distracted by shiny things. I simply tend to fixate on one thing and the others I'm trying to multi-task get fuzzy. Case in point: I just found my ipod in the refrigerator. This isn't the first thing to be found there. Car keys, remote control, telephone. Apparently whatever I've got in my hand at the time I grab a drink just sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.

At work, I am known to make myself lists of things to accomplish on a plan period that includes "bathroom," just to guarantee I get that done. I was once in such a hurry to get a song to a friend for a project (prior to the days of digital files and easy internet access) that I Fed Ex-ed an empty CD case to France. I've mailed empty envelopes, too.

A friend once told me that he thought these things were charming, that I was so caught in the moment that a few details would get lost. That sounds much nicer than "ditzy," so I'll happily take it.


Every morning, the alarm rings at 4:45, and I blindly swat at it until it stops making sound. Repeat. Repeat again. Repeat again. When I finally can stand it no more, or I am forced to admit that time is not going to stop for me, I turn the alarm off completely and get out of bed. So why is it that on the weekend I wake up all on my own, wide awake and unable to fall back asleep if my life depended upon it? Despite having no interest in being awake at 5, or the 6:30 I am sometimes able to eke out, I am up and ready to start the day. Sigh.

Voice of a Generation.

According to the AOL splash page this morning, Bryan Adams was the voice of a generation. Hmmm. I think I have to take umbrage with this one. Not that I wish to question AOL's expertise about such things, of course, but as I recall he basically had the one hit before he jumped the same shark Rod Stewart skipped over and became a sappy love song crooner with a raspy voice who became the voice of a Kevin Costner as Robin Hood film.
I've always considered "the voice of a generation" to be someone huge and iconic that changed the way things are done with their honesty and a unique sound. Frank Sinatra. Elvis Presley. Bob Dylan. Bruce Springsteen. Kurt Cobain. Writers. Poets. I'd argue that you could put Morrisey on this list. I could see where people of various niches would say Marshall Mathers has a place on the list, or Billy Joel, or Joe Strummer. In any case, these are people that have made special, prolific contributions. Bryan Adams does not make any such list.
It reminds me of an idiot college professor I had that declared to her class during a '60s lecture that music was incredibly important for understanding each decade and the people that came of age in it. "I won't use examples by Bob Dylan, though. I saw him in concert once and he told the audience to fuck themselves, so I decided he is rude. Instead, I'll tell you about Neil Young because he's not rude, he's just a nice, smart man."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Too Controversial.

a gift from student artist Courtney Morgan

This is a gift I received from one of my very talented students. This year in art classes, students were asked to consider larger themes, and consider how art can be used to deliver import social and political ideas. Several of them worked on politics and government systems. Yesterday when I visited the art display, there were several pieces dedicated to Totalitarianism, particulaly Nazism. These were not pro-Nazi images, these were simply pieces of art depicting the realities of such a regime. Apparently, they were deemed "too controversial" to remain a part of the collection.

We send the message that you're only allowed to know some things on the most surface level. We don't encourage deep thinking in a quest to process ideas encountered. Whose delicate sensibilities are going to be damaged if they see that a student took away from Holocaust Studies that precious lives were stolen in a violent, unforgivable fashion? Isn't that what education is?

I am so proud of this gift. Not only is the piece itself very well done, it proves to me that this student learned and took away from my class the very things I hoped she would. In a year where 70% of students found a way to sleep while I tried to impart knowledge, this was the finest, most precious gift I could receive.

Art accomplishes for many what words, facts and figures cannot; in this piece lies proof that I actually taught this student this semester.

Lost Headphones.

It's my favorite type of day. It's spring, and we're having a gorgeous warm rain. Gray and storm-cloudy, but with the most amazing sense of energy in the air. My system seems to feed off of this. I just spent some time in the front lobby of the high school looking at the work submitted to the art fair. There's always amazing stuff there, and this year is no different. The art kids just have a much deeper sense of life than the others, especially at this age. And their cultural references are always much, much cooler than those of the other kids, too. They're not quite sophisticated enough to be edgy and pretentious hipsters yet, so they're much more palatable than they will be in art school, just a few years down the road. For now, they're just a little off-beat and interested in the things that others scorn, things like: learning, creativity, curiosity about life, thinking deeply because they can, trying to come to conclusions about their place in the world.

Rainy day, lovely art, and a long plan period to enjoy it all in. Now if I could just find my headphones, this would be a perfect morning.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Express Equine.

I'm not sure exactly what this sign means... Are the horses really so fast that if you're not totally on your guard they'll pop out of the trailer and be gone? I like to think that these are fillies of questionable reputation who've been segregated with the equivalent of Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter. Maybe they're all on board because they're being taken to a reform school for wayward ponies.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ego Boosts from the Pooh.

care of Sober in a Nightclub

The Most Modern Car Teachers' Money Can Buy.

image care of Bits & Pieces

I'm not sure if this makes me feel better or worse about still driving a car that only has a tapedeck.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I live in a townhouse row. I've been blessed with pretty remarkable neighbors over the years. Sometimes I wonder if I'm not the bad neighbor of the group since the locations that have the highest turnover rate are the spots on either side of me...

Actually, there was a terrible guy that lived next door for about a year. He was twenty-something, and apparently he moved in when his frat house decided he was too unclean and uncouth to stay there. He would come home late and turn up his video game system as loud as it would go until the walls shook. I actually had frames fall off the wall one night to the sound of rapid machine gun fire and explosions with him yelling, "Yes!" every few minutes. He would leave his screen door (with a totally functionable window and screen, mind you)open all the time, tied to the porch rails with fishing line. A bachelor's party left a blow-up sheep dressed in a french maid's costume on the front shrubbery. An unexpected snowfall inspired an anatomically-correct and very excited snow man on the front lawn that didn't melt for three weeks. My favorite, though, was the potato that made an appearance one spring morning on our shared porch. It sat there for two or three months until it rotted away to black globby nothing-ness. Freak. It was a joyous occasion when he finally snuck away in the middle of the night to avoid paying back rent owed.

Now, the neighbors are all fine people. In fact, most of them are really fantastic. The only trouble now is the boyfriend of a neighbor that comes to pick her up. He parks out front and waits for her, all the while listening to a car stereo that knows no limits, proving to all the world his "goes to eleven." You never know when the front of the house is going to turn into a booming ghetto disco. Noon on Sunday and the walls are throbbing, the beat is bumping, the joint is jumping and everyone is dancing along wildly to "Can't Wait to Fuck You Up Against the Wall."

The Goodwin Special.

The Fiance has a thing for banjos. Always has. I associate such things with frightening people that live in the hills and make strangers squeal like pigs. This is ridiculous, I know, but there's just nothing sophisticated about an instrument that inspired countless hours of Hee Haw proclamations like, "I'm a pickin' and I'm a grinnin." Doo, dee, doo, doo, doo, doo, doot, doo, doo. Not a refined instrument. Last night a very dear friend showed him how to play a bit. And he was picking it up pretty quickly! Instead of being happy for him and enjoying his joy, all I could think was, "There's going to be one of these in my house soon. I just know it." He was playing the friend's "Good Time Special" banjo (seriously, that's it's name; just sounds like something designed solely for The Country Bear Jamboree) and they decided his would be the Goodwin Special and his surname made it destiny for him to be a picker.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Do Not Get It.

I am very intrigued with the "Next Blog" feature on blogger, but I have to be honest. I just don't get it. When I play with this from my blog, it inevitably takes me to one of three realms: sites written in foreign languages, recipe sites, or religious sites (with a fondness for Mormons.) It's supposed to take you to sites like the one from which you started. Am I oblivious to obvious connections between myself and righteous Portugeuse?

Something That Grosses Me Out.

I hate orangy-red stains. For some reason, this seems to be advertisers favorite type of stain, and it's always on TV. Remember the one a few years ago where the fat little eskimo kid was eating chicken wings and went through an entire roll of paper towels? Ewwww. Always made me blanch. I learned what it's start sounded like and learned to look away. Parents seem to think nothing's cuter than their child covered in spaghetti, but they are wrong. It is not cute. It is just gross. I'd much rather just throw away a plate that from which I've eaten any type of tomato-based pasta sauce, but it's pretty irresponsible, so I just make the Finance wash those.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Longest, Dullest Day Yet.

Watching 24. This is the eighth and final season, and with each new episode, I think about how they really should’ve stopped when they were ahead. It’s been the same crappy day for Jack, but with minor variances. It’s become Bauer’s Groundhog Day. A terrorism plot, always involving Middle Eastern villains. Always a President’s authority to be challenged by claiming they are unfit or are behaving illegally. Mid-season, the one person’s whose story line has met its logical conclusion will be found out to be a mole in a way that smacks of a writing team’s desperation to liven up the season. You can guarantee that some unlikely character will make an empty threat to shoot a group of people, whether this be Jack holding up a gas station or Chloe wanting to take out the IT troubleshooters. Severed digits or other appendages. Double-crossing lovers. You never feel that Jack’s life is seriously in danger, and you never care enough about the side character du jour to care if they make it out alive. ZZZzzzz. It’s like a book you stopped caring about after the first few chapters but feel somehow obligated to finish, simply because you started it.

Oh, McSweeney's. I Love You.

care of McSweeney's Internet Tendency Lists
Hemingway Novel Character or Match Game PM Star?

- - - -

1. Brett
2. Charles
3. Robert
4. Santiago
5. Vicki
6. Fannie
7. McLean
8. Frederick
9. Pilar
10. Jo Ann
11. Jake
12. Nipsey

Hemingway Novel Character: 3, 4, 8, 9, 11
Match Game PM Star: 2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12
Both: 1

Denying Yourself Things You'd Really Like to Have.

Usually This Indicates Rabies, No?

The Cost of Giving Up on Education.

Recently, I was reading a blog that questioned "What is the most foolish thing that you have ever done after having been inspired by a movie?" Mixed in with lots of Mary Poppins leaps with umbrellas from rooftops was this gem: "After seeing Dead Poets Society I became a teacher." All I could do was laugh along, because I was duped by this syndrome, too.

After taking out student loans to cover the cost of certification (after having obtained a Bachelor's and taken out an absurd amount of loans for graduate school and a Master's), I became eligible to compete for a job that pays approximately $43,000 per year. What I didn't know at the time was that teaching in Social Studies is incredibly competitive. In public education, the amount of education you have, coupled with the years you've been a part of the district, determines your salary. I was starting out as a first year teacher, but with my Master's degree, plus 36 hours. This made me an expensive chance, and one that didn't coach a sport. The first year I didn't even get an interview. The second year, now armed with both History and English certifications, it took me 13 interviews to land a job.
Clearly, it was incredibly important that I be a teacher because I love high school students. It was important because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of some really fantastic kids. Not for the money, and not for the hours. They say that the first year of teaching is the worst. You're constantly having to come up with new lessons, discover the best way to do things and teach yourself how to cross everything off of the massive check list you're handed each week. The crazy time crunch didn't end after my first year, though. I was still swamped my second, third, fourth and fifth year. Every year I got a different subject to teach, and usually had to create a class from nothing. With each new year, I also became increasingly involved in the district. Without realizing how, I found myself on five special committees. On one hand, it felt good to feel important and recognized by peers for elected positions. The flip side of this is that I usually had three two-hour meetings after school every week. It's not been uncommon to have a 16 hour day three or more days per week, just trying to fit in all of the things that need to be done. This made my salary amount to $9 an hour.

The state is now broke. Since the state cares for education, this means that a lot of districts across the state are struggling to recreate a budget that will work with what they'll receive in the forseeable future. The school that I work for has cut 8 positions so far, including mine. All the extra things I had done as a teacher had not mattered. The extra hours were important for me and my students, but not viewed as valuable by anyone else. The bottom line is that I am nearing tenure (you obtain it the first day of your sixth year; I will literally be one day short of accomplishing this,) and I am the most expensive non-tenured teacher in my department. I also took some extra time off this year to deal with illness. Result: Expendable.

I'm not feeling any bitterness about it. I'm somewhat disappointed, but it's with undertanding of the situation. I know that no one in my district wants to lose teachers, and that no one believes it is what is best for students. I am disappointed personally because despite the challenges of the profession, I genuinely love my job. I love the students I work for, I love the people I work with, I love the subjects I've taught and I love guiding students as they learn new things. The most important thing to me is always getting to know students and build a personal rapport with them. You don't find opportunities like that in other careers. The big picture disappointments I feel, however, have to do with the way that people regard education. It's ridiculous that education is ever a place where budgets can be cut, let alone the first place. If children are the future, and education is the only way to prepare them to become productive citizens, how is it even remotely conceivable that you can cut the funding that provides it?

There was a levy up for vote yesterday in the school district I am employed with (for a short time yet.) It amounted to $300 extra dollars per year in taxes for each family. It failed by 73%. This is a community with quite a bit of wealth. A lot of it has come from people that have been very successful in trades like construction or blue collar situations who have then become entrepreneurs. More power to these folks, but they never came to believe that education was key to their success. It's not a value that this community has. They believe the school should teach the basics, provide a great football team that will provide entertainment on Friday nights throughout the fall, and somehow keep all the local kids out of trouble. Three-quarters of the community could see no reason to support a levy that was the only way to keep staff, class options, technology, and programs. It leaves you speechless and sad. In my case, it gives me the very clear evidence I need to wholly grasp that my values and what I want to accomplish simply don't match with those people I've been trying to service. As much as it pains me to say it, it's most likely for the best that I'm leaving education for a while. There have been a reported 3000+ teacher jobs lost in this city over the last few months. It is a ridiculously flooded market. Who knows when teaching positions will exist again? Maybe by that time, the pendulum will have swung again, and people will be more appreciative of what goes into educating an individual and they will remember why it is important.

The numbers really say it all:
-Number of homes I could have purchased outright in place of student loans for degrees making me a "highly qualified teacher:" 1.2
-Percentage of paycheck I've actually seen after mandatory Retirement deposits, paying to increase our super-cheap provided insurance and NEA dues: 57%
- Total amount I've invested in resources and classroom supplies over five years:$5600
- Maximum amount I can take out of my contributions to a mandatory teacher's retirement account (to live off of since there are no available jobs to be found): 31%
-Savings: $0
- number of non-compensated hours given to the district over five years: 15,460
- number of times a parent's called or emailed my principal upset because their student was failing or because I "picked on their child": 7
- number of thank you's from parents: 23
- number of times I've been told, in some variation, to go fuck myself by a student: 9
- number of times a parent has removed an artificial limb during a conference: 1
Recognition from the community where I've worked that my time has been well spent: 27%

I'm not sure what I'm going to end up doing. I will find something, and hopefully it will be something that I love as much as I have loved teaching. Maybe I will return to teaching down the road. As of right now, however, I am simply feeling very disillusioned and impoverished. It's with rue that I recognize my inspiration from Dead Poets Society. It's perhaps a shame that I didn't find inspiration from another Robin Williams lead. I could've been a one hour photo stalker or a military dj much more cheaply.