Wednesday, March 12, 2014

At the Corner of Random and Whatever

I've started no fewer than four blog entries in the last few days and none of them have panned out into anything worth a full post. I'm going to claim grading fatigue after reading and marking 180 English I benchmark essays in three days time. According to Web MD, I should now have the brain function of a woman with a penchant for sucking on car batteries.  Herewith some samples gleaned from a recent dumpster dive into my brain:

*How do I express my real thoughts about hot-button issues without generating a Category 5 Shitstorm Alert from at least three people in my real life? Once I observed an elderly woman directing her husband into a parking space and I described her impatience with him on a previous blog. Because it was my blog and I thought their interplay was amusing. I was immediately pilloried by a guy I knew from college who said I was making fun of old people, which was not even true and certainly not at all the intention of the post. Needless to say I did not give him the location of my current website.

This kneejerk enmity is actually a much bigger problem on Facebook, since I seem to have absolutely no trouble getting 159 people to weigh in with their favorite kind of pie in a span of 30 minutes. However, even this lame conversational thread will immediately be followed by an exchange of gunfire and an argument started by an old acquaintance who will claim that President Obama's alleged love of pecan pie was a direct result of his influence by the pecan lobbyists. Then someone else who knows me but does not even know the author of the pecan comment will attack said commenter and I start to wonder if there is ANY topic that won't initiate a Shiite-variety response, because apparently none of us is even allowed to have an opinion on anything unless we have personal and documented experience with that particular thing. Which is weird, because I thought the very definition of opinion meant that it didn't necessarily require experience.

Meanwhile, I have a total of 16 people who profess to read this blog and only eight of them comment regularly. Maybe if I wrote about pie every day...

*Spring Cleaning. By this I mean the literal kind where I begin hauling out unworn/ill fitting clothing in bags designated for Goodwill, beating rugs on a clothesline and attacking every cobweb with a shop vac. And... the figurative kind where I distinguish the difference between those people in my life who are authentic (read: here for the long haul) and those who are merely familiar. There's a lot of dead wood in my life and I'm currently busy using all of it to build a bridge which I will promptly set on fire.   The unfortunate result of this will be a greatly reduced circle of friends, but it's my belief that people have to earn that designation and I've been far too generous with it in the past. Case in point: Do not use the amount of time my job requires from me to justify how busy YOU have been--and thus-- explain why you haven't returned a text or call from me since November.  My watchword for this year is going to be reciprocity. I refuse to participate in relationships (face-to-face or on social media) where reciprocity is not at work. Ain't nobody got time for anything else...

* Recent staff meeting reminder: Apparently, it is now considered bad form to use all capital lettering on any word in any email communications (for any reason) with parents of students. Downtown authorities are calling this a bridge too far because it's like we are shouting at parents and their delicate feelings. Even when they deserve it.  Whatever. I'm over it.

*I gave up wine for Lent, but I actually started it two weeks early. Not because I'm worried about being an alcoholic, but because wine touches off my grim attraction to every salted food in the house. Kosher dills lead to cashews which lead to popcorn. Popcorn is the gateway drug for kettle chips and I'd rather be caught driving carpool in a pair of parachute pants and a Hello Kitty! shirt than live life without kettle chips. Is there a medic alert bracelet for this?

*Impending birthday realizations: 1) Four years of teaching at the New Jack City/Hamburger Hill of elementary schools did not in any way prepare me for dealing with middle-class parents who believe in a world where formalwear dances are un-ironically held for 7th and 8th graders and terms like "date" and "corsage" and "grinding while you dance" are used.  I do not understand why they need to have this experience so early. 2) It occurs to me that I will never know what it is like to live in New York City or spend any length of time in a respected and well-paid profession (Rosie O'Donnell calls this "sick Oprah money". Yes, please.) Those ships have sailed and I'm sad about both of them. 3) Every recent picture of me suggests a relapse photo from High Times magazine. (Disclaimer: If you have a friend struggling with addiction, please pump the brakes on your personal umbrage. I'm not addressing anyone you know.)
4) Personally, I believe that the Tea Party movement is nothing more than a clown car full of maniacs with a bad case of road rage and every time I see a treasured friend quote them on Facebook I lose the will to live. Then end.


  1. We would make good IRL friends. You say what I think but do not often say myself.

  2. Isn't it something how you say something honest and real and the haters launch assaults, but put up a PUPPY or KITTEN and everyone likes you. Makes my ass weary.
    And the tea party can just go suck an egg. Morons. Wish their CPAC would get sucked down a giant fracking-induced sinkhole.
    Guess I had some pent-up road rage here.
    Good luck on the wine.

  3. I think it is sort of nice that everyone can agree on pictures of kittens. You gotta take what you can get.

  4. And blog commenting is way down. I'm amazed how many more comments I used to get on posts, while readership numbers have stayed roughly the same.

  5. It's so easy to go into attack mode from the safety of your computer. Maybe facebook "debates" are the new Circus Maximus. I admit, I've read a few blogs (not yours) which express opinions that make it hard for me not to leave an acid comment. It's mostly smugness and judgment that make me angry, but then, aren't I being judgmental for judging someone else's blog? Still, smugness is rampant in the blog world and extremely irritating, and yet I can't look away and consider those blogs as pleasurable hate reads.

  6. Almost no one reads my blog, but everyone I know claims to. I like to say I have the best known little read blog around. And comments? I have a handful of regulars who almost always leave a comment and that's it.
    I have had a few 'friends' who are quite smug & righteous behind a keyboard. One recently resulted in name calling in a facebook debate about a hot issue here in town. I knew better than to chime in, but the 'facts' he was citing were wrong. He admitted the facts weren't important and continued to name call. Needless to say, we are no longer 'friends' because I don't tolerate that.

  7. Reciprocity! Yes! I have, in the past, dropped "friends" who were more than happy to come to my house for dinner but never returned the favor. Works for commenting, too.

    Kettle chips...oh so good....I won't buy them. I'd eat the whole bag starting when I got in the car to drive home from the place of purchase.

    Not commenting on Tea Party...dumb folks.

  8. Mmm . . . the wine thing. I'm right there with you, except . . . I just got a case of a wonderful variety of reds delivered from Naked Wines. I don't think I'm going to give them up just yet :-)

    As the mother of a 13 year old girl --GAH! (Caps required.) All the other girls in her class are apparently dating. What? When did middle school kids start doing this? And how do they even do it? Mom and dad drop them off somewhere? Good lord, they're hardly out of diapers, emotionally.

  9. Dude. Keep fighting the good fight. Say what you want and if the haters come at you, DELETE them! See, caps totes required.
    Good luck with the wine.

  10. Facebook has gutted the blog community. And that is only one of its myriad faults. It's the online equivalent of junior high study hall. Ugh.

    Re: people being busy. Can everyone everywhere please agree not to say this/use this, ever? It's an insult, really. What it really means is, "You are not a priority." Even if it's true, why put that out there? A simple "Sorry I haven't been in touch lately" will do; then, get on with your business. Besides, everyone is busy. Even if a person is busy doing nothing, he or she is busy not doing stuff.

    Don't give up all wine for Lent. Give up only reds. Give up only cabs. Give up only domestics. But don't give it all up. No one expects that level of sacrifice from a mortal, let alone a teacher.

  11. Reciprocity is a good test, indeed. I have always been annoyed by those that insist on starting the dances, etc. so soon--or, at least, making them into such a huge deal. I can only conclude that a lot of women (let's be real--we're the ones planning this stuff) are trying to re-do their adolescence through their kids' lives.

  12. About 75% of my teaching years were spent in very cushy middle-class middle and high schools, so I started gnashing my teeth early on about things like taking your daughter out of school for the day to get her hair and nails done for the prom/8th-grade dance/homecoming - not to mention the limos, after-parties, and dinners at Ruth Chris for 13-year-olds beforehand. The longer I live overseas and the longer I work in a European international school, the more I understand that it's extremely American (and, in their eyes, slightly laughable) to turn every.single.occasion. into an enormous Deal. In some cases, I love that about us- we are nothing, if not enthusiastic. In other cases - like the 8th grade dance, or kindergarten 'graduation' (which still makes me cringe) - I think it's ridiculous. It's no wonder that so many young women get to their weddings and - after years of thinking that a school dance was the equivalent of an affair of State - believe that it is the Most Important Event In The World and expect everyone else to behave accordingly.

  13. I'm so offended by a gajillion things in this post. How dare you refer to popcorn as a gateway drug? What about the poor popcorn farmers who need to feed their families? What are they supposed to do now that you've branded their wholesome snack a drug?

    Actually, I love you, and I love this post, and I'm sorry you're dealing with all these crack whores.

  14. I love your blog! You write what I only dare to think in fear of being shouted down by nearby Tea Party conservatives/fundamentalist Christians. I have pretty much stopped commenting on most things because of the haters out there who resort to name calling and various other unhelpful responses. I mostly don't read comments any more either because the level of vitriol makes me fear for the future.

    I made a resolution this year to be more proactive about staying in touch with the people who really matter to me. Now that the winter is maybe finally almost over (please don't smite me, weather gods) I feel more optimistic about following through on that.

    Totally with you on the subjects of kettle chips and school dances.

  15. A great article indeed and a very detailed, realistic and superb analysis, of this issue, very nice write up, Thanks.
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Be nice. It's not as hard as it sounds.