Sunday, January 6, 2013

If You're Happy And You Know It Keep It To Yourself: Christmas Break Is Over

Here's how my train of thought runs these days: I'm having lunch with two friends from yoga when my mind strays for just a second as I wonder how it is that the three of us---all public school teachers--have the time to eat lunch in a restaurant in the middle of the day. For a brief moment I think it's summer until I remember we are all wearing sweaters. It sounds crazy, but sometimes when I'm really tired my brain enjoys a little selective amnesia. Then I realize we're living in the last gasp days of the winter holiday. My eyes fall to my iPad and I remember that there's a Muriel Spark book on there I have to finish for a book group I've not been attending and then that makes me think about the stack of books next to my bed which makes me think of the movie Desk Set--one of my favorite movies where books and the information contained in them feature prominently.

Which then brings my thought process back to the books I haven't read, some of which were gifts that I asked for specifically with the intent to read when suddenly I was all "Crapdammit! I forgot to read!"

And --son of a nutcracker!-- if it isn't too late to have a single lazy day where I sit around my yoga pants happily surrounded by books, mugs of hot tea and back issues of the New York Times and the crossword puzzle. 
A day where it looks like this outside. Dig it, people. This was Christmas Day around these parts.

Christmas was lovely and I ate way more than I should have and suffered from a brief bout of Mashed Potato Cramps, but I'm better now. Tomorrow it's back to my alarm going off at 5:17 and driving in the semi-darkness past the bail bondsmen, Cisco's Taqueria and the Weave Palace to my school where the kids will get an extra day of vacation and the teachers will be asked (and I'm completely serious here) to attend a small seminar on suicide prevention (Student suicide, though they ought to be equally worried about their employees offing themselves.) and then a group activity with markers and paper where teachers must write and perform a rap song detailing the need for academic rigor in the classroom.

Your tax dollars at work, my friends. And then we will begin school on Tuesday having had absolutely no time to finish the lesson planning things that would make us even remotely ready for class. Coming back in after a holiday is a lot like re-entering the earth's atmosphere from space. No matter how prepared I am, I always lose a few heat tiles in the process. And it shows. We'll spend the next few weeks all ramped up on stress from the greatly anticipated yet somehow "surprise" classroom judgement visit from downtown administrators, none of whom have we actually seen, but the threat is potent and carries a kind of Keyser Soze weight to it.

Pardon me while I adjust my victim hat. Anyway. All this to say that the last two weeks have allowed me to think about other jobs I might pursue if things in public education fail to improve.

1) Container Store employee. There's an enormous one opening here and I've heard even part-time workers get benefits. Over the holiday I met a young man who used to be a railroad conductor and he says it's an incredibly happy place to work. Discounts on wrapping paper. Score!
2) Bartender. When life is good, everybody drinks. When life sucks...well...everybody drinks some more. Seems like a win-win prospect to me.
3) Technical writer. Sure, I'd be hammering out mouth watering prose for pamphlets where I direct consumers to "insert Tab A into Tab B", but I wouldn't have to walk any of my co-workers to the bathroom or stand by impassively while their parents curse me when I balk at taking work that is two weeks late. 
4) GED instructor at a prison. At last! People are finally ready and eager to learn. Armed guards standing nearby.
5) Crime scene clean-up. It's a growing market and I would never run out of stuff to blog about. 

What's sad is that teaching school used to top this list back before the inmates started running the psych ward. Unfortunately, there's nothing remotely funny about that. 


  1. I love Desk Set. It's one of my favorite movies, too. Esp since I'm a researcher who plugs info into a computer and retrieves info (when I can) out of one. On a good day. My computer is not room-sized though I kind of wish it was. People would be more in awe of what I did all day instead resembling the boss from Office Space.

  2. Sounds like the use of inservice time is no different there than here. Too bad teachers don't run the schools, isn't it?
    Glad you snagged some leisure time over the holiday though--some shred of sanity recovered.

  3. Oh, Inservice. What a fat lot of bullshit that is. So much chart paper gives its life for so little. Don't miss that at all, nope!

  4. Back when I was still teaching in TX, one of our inservices was a drumming group. We all got drums and practiced repeating rhythms and working together to create patterns blah blah blah. I can't remember if that took place before or after the inservice on effective time management.

  5. I've never seen Desk Set. Now, much like your mountain of books, I must add it to my to-do list!

    If you're ever thinking seriously about tech writing and want a brain to pick, mine is at your disposal. I can't say that Corporate America is much different than walking kids to the potty, though.

  6. I really encourage you to add to your list adult education for either a non-profit or (more likely) a for-profit school. I bet you could teach English in the Criminal Justice classes. Email if you want more details. I am a very happy camper and the money doesn't suck.


Be nice. It's not as hard as it sounds.