graceaplenty

Grace should be my middle name.

Name:
Location: United States

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Why My Friends Are Way Cooler Than Yours

Eleanor hipped me to this blog right here:

http://www2.foxsearchlight.com/gardenstate/blog/index.html

We may both be in love and I may have to fight her for him!

Why My Apartment Complex Is Cooler Than Yours

1. This afternoon, I sat up in the very air conditioned clubhouse, using free wireless internet. in front of a big screen TV, while eating free pizza and drinking free coke.

2. The frogs that lurk around here at night might actually be able to eat my grandmother's dog.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Monday

So after 3 hectic, but good weeks, I feel like I have my feet on the ground. I feel like I live in my apartment and I feel like I can do this teaching thing. Not that I didn't before, I guess. Just even better now.

Cleaned the closet - check.
Organized the piles of books all over the floor - check.
Put away the clothes, hither, thither and yon - check.
Vacuumed - check.
Turned in lesson plans to be reviewed by principal - check.
Apparently am doing just fine as far as lesson planning, as evidenced by principal's signature and smiley face sticker - check.
Watched the video music awards while printing out headshots of my students for their self-portraits - check.
Cleaned out those nasty shelves in my classroom - check.
Time for making dinner, a powerpoint, and finally finishing that nasty order - check.
1 glass of wine - (hopefully we'll check that off this evening.

Not too bad of a feeling on a Monday afternoon. Quite a change from the dread and slight anxiety I felt this morning..."Ah, I only had 6 hours of sleep...What if these kids can't do grid drawings?...Am I a bad art teacher for making them do grid drawings?...Are they going to hate me for these grid drawings?...Do grid drawings really fit with my postmodern art education philosophy?...What if the principal totally calls BS on my lesson plans, ESOL adaptations and Sunshine State Standards lins?...Because she totally could, I made all that shit up?..."

Monday morning anxiety can be so unfounded sometimes.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Sick

I knew I'd probably catch stuff from my kids. But I thought it would happen around flu season or something.

I didn't think it would take 3 weeks for bacteria to set in. I'm such a germaphobe - I was my hands constantly and use hand sanitizer. When I got chilly yesterday around noon and started sneezing and felt a tickle in the back of my throat, I thought, "NO, IT CAN'T BE!" I'm going to go ahead and trace it back to that lady that sat way too close to me at daily mass yesterday morning and who's perfume knocked me over with it's crappiness and pugnancy.

I took some Nyquil and didn't set my alarm clock last night, and popped some vitamin C. But when I woke up after almost 12 hours of sleep, I knew I had a fever. Not a high fever, but a fever none the less.

So I drugged up, slept, drank grapefruit juice, sweated like a mo fo and watched AMC. Then I took a bath, felt much better. I lounged around and finally decided I HAD TO CLEAN MY APARTMENT. It was DRIVING ME CRAZY. And I must say, I got a lot accomplished. Then I sat and went through 4 yearbooks from college. And it was fun and I was impressed with myself because it didn't make me sad.

By that time, I was starting to feel the chills coming back, so I popped some more drugs, exited my apartment for the first time today around 6:48 and went to Walgreens for some Gatorade and Theraflue. And then to Blockbuster. I couldn't find what I was looking for, but I think I did pretty well with The Girl With the Pearl Earring (a movie that I was dying to see, but left the theater the very day I went to see it) and Happenstance (a French Audrey Tautou movie, who is Amelie for those keeping score at home).

It's a rather nice evening here tonight. I just hope I get to watch all my movies before falling asleep.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Miss G and L.J.

Setting: School cafeteria, 30 minutes into the first sixth grade dance.

Characters: Miss G, brand new, young hip and totally-happening-in-a-far-out-way art teacher. L.J., awkward 11 year old sixth grader who has learning disabilities, but is gifted and knows all about history and was super enthusiastic when he was assigned Dwight Eisenhower as his president for a portrait. This kid KNOWS US history.

L.J.: Miss G., I always feel so stupid when I dance!

Miss G.: (feeling sorry for him but trying not to act like it) Oh, don't worry! All you have to do is get in the middle of a big group of people and no one will even see you, there's like 400 kids here!

L.J.: But I feel like I look so stupid!

Miss G.: Well, this is one of your first dances, after about ten or so, you'll be a total pro. I know, I've been to a lot of dances.

L.J.: But I feel really stupid, even when I dance in my room by myself.

Miss G.: Hmmmmmmm... (Is thinking, "Probably one of those things you keep to yourself, if you want to embark into any sort of coolness within the next 6 years")

Yeah, that kid's a trip. First, he's all excited about Dwight Eisenhower. The only presidents any kid has gotten even somewhat excited about are the usuals: George Washington and Abe Lincoln. They could give a rat's ass about the rest of them.

Then, when I call out the presidents names, he asks me, "Do you think you could call him GENERAL Eisenhower?"

Next, he totally knows the dates of D-day and does this great narrative background of the events behind his portrait of GENERAL Eisenhower.

Then, he asks me, "Wasn't there a president who was elected a bunch of times, so they had to make the law to limit presidents to 2 terms?" I'm like, "Oh, totally! That's FDR!"

Finally, he asks me if I think a hippie could ever be elected president. Trying to be diplomatic and not interfere in swaying any children's political ideas, I say, "Well, I don't think that a dude with long hair, beard and bell bottoms on would necessarily get elected president. But it might be possible for someone to be elected who USED to be a hippie." He says to me, "Well, I sure hope there's never a hippie elected! Because then he'd get rid of all our nuclear weapons and we'd be screwed!"

Dude, this kid has opinions about foreign policy, a working knowledge of US history and good critique on white-man-dancing. He's going places. I can tell.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Silent Art

It was a sad, sad day that it had to come down to Silent Art.

I hated to do it, but I had no choice. After yesterday's loudness and off-taskness in 8th period, I had to lay down the law and show them that I was boss. That meant Silent Art. You know, they were pretty good at it for a while. but then I sort of got bored and started talking to them.

Good kids. Just SO chatty. They're hillarious too. Man, there's on kid that just has to look at me and smile and i can't keep a straight face for ANYTHING. Then there's another who absolutley can NOT stop talking. Like can NOT. For the last few minutes of the period, I have him stand up next to where I bark out clean-up procedures. Just stand there, with no one to talk to. So he talked to ME and I kept talking back! It must be hopeless with him.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I Heart B&N Worker

I may or may not have a crush on a Barnes and Nobles worker. When I inquired about finding "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat", he knew exactly what I was talking about. Automatically making him cool. Plus, he works at Barnes and Nobles. Obviously he’s literate. He could get me books and free cappuccino. THAT could only be good.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Debate

Due to recent activities at school, I am bringing up the subject regarding the Cha Cha Slide.

For those of you who don't know, it's a cool, hip, new, line dance sort of thing where the song calls out what you are supposed to do "square dance" style. It's not lame, I promise. Ok, so it's lame, but I'm trying to get to the bottom of a question I have about it.

How does one "Charlie Brown?"

One of my friends and I need to know. We NEED to know. I told my friend that I'd ask the 6th graders.

First though, I was in a discussion with my 20 year old sister about this. She said she did a good bit of Cha Cha Slide out in San Diego. And she informs me that "Charlie Browning" is when you bend over, put your hands on your knees and move your knees in and out, hands along with them. Reminds me of some sort of clownish, Roy Rogers Follies thing.

So then this morning, I asked my 2nd period class what doing the "Charlie Brown" is. And about 6 of them stood up and did something totally different. They all pulled their foot up to their butt, as if they were stretching their hamstring and jumped around. Looked like something circa 1994 that Kriss Kross might do. I said to my 6th graders, "Are you sure that's right?" They were positive. I asked, "Are you sure it's not when you put your hands on your knees and move them in and out?!" They said, "Absolutely NOT, there is another part in the song that specifically states to put your hands on your knees!"

So now I have conflicting answers. I IMed my sister. She says that she is absolutely right and that I shouldn't listen to 6th graders because they're too young and are only 1 year older than our littlest sister. I told her that could be true, but that she might, in fact, be too OLD to know of something like the Cha Cha Slide. I mean, how many cool 20 year olds know about that stuff? I'm guessing not many.

Any thoughts, anyone?

Next, my research is taking me to Goggle and then on Friday to the 6th Grade Dance, of which I am chaperoning. It's a really good thing these kids are young and oblivious to know how excited I am about chaperoning. They'd know for sure I was a total loser and give me no respect.

With Respect to Yesterday's Blog

There's a difference between a 21 year old reading that and a 55. But I'll try to stop making fun of people in Barnes and Nobles. After all, I was only there because I just had to get out of my house.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Just a Hint

Not to make fun of sad lonely people innocently exercising their freedom to read whatever they choose. I mean, I often am one of those sad and lonely people. But anyone who sits in the café section of Barnes and Nobles, reading An Idiots Guide To Dating, needs to stop. No, just STOP. If you must read that, do it in private. Is this some new fangled way of picking up a date or something? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Idiots Guide to Dating would totally NOT endorse such action. Or maybe I’m just old fashioned.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Someone On My Mind

This little boy I teach eighth period is just the most hillarious and precious thing. I would tell you his name, but I don't want to get in trouble or anything. Just know that his last name is very Polish sounding with "Wahoo!" in the midst, which totally matches him because he's a very excitable and outbursting kid. But in a good way. He's blond, clean and has classes and whenever I call roll looks up and is all wide-eyed and loud.

I have a restroom in my classroom, which is nice. But at the beginning of the year I had a dilemma of whether to allow my kids to use it. The janitor said that he wouldn't let them, but other teachers seemed to act like they would. So I decided to have a use-the-bathroom-only-twice-per-nine-weeks system. The students can use it only twice each the whole quarter. I figure that this allows them to use it, but also makes them take responsibility and ration out their chances to use the bathroom.

So one of the first things of note about this little kid, besides his excitable nature is that he asked to use the bathroom like the second day of school. And then he asked to use it about 4 days later. All the other kids were like, "NO, don't go NOW, you only have one more chance!" They were funny - really concerned. But, this kid took the gamble and went anyway. I sort of remember him mentioning something about medication that made him have to go more, but when I pursued asking him about it, he said he wasn't on medication.

Well, the next day or so, I was in an ESE meeting where the specialist went over with some of us the kids who were learning disabled or something. This kid was one of them. So after that, I moved him right up front to where I teach from and I paid closer attention to his drawings. I noticed immediately that they his motor skills were under grade level and that he had trouble following my directions of how to draw a face.

He had asked to go to the bathroom, after his two chances, so I took him aside privately and asked about this medication. He said that he had been on medication for ADD that made him have to go to the bathroom a lot, but that he is not on it right now, but that he still has to go a lot. So I let him have "special permission" to go whenever. He's not one of those sneaky kids that asks to go to the bathroom when their bored or annoyed or something. Thus, I let it slide.

So during class, while everyone is drawing, I sit up in the front and take care of business and help him. And WOW does he need a lot of attention. I must have told everyone about 35 times that the eyes go half way down the face. We even folded the paper and made patterns and I had the overhead projection up. And still, it took him a long time to get that through his head. I work with him and as the other kids need help, they come up on the other side for individual assistance. It seems to be working out in this class.

As a whole, they're a cool group of kids. No one's annoying or needy or irritating. They're really active though and really talkative. REALLY talkative, but not in a disrespectful way. I think that I've got a lot of the gifted kids in there. I can sort of tell that they're pretty on the ball. And they're funnier than the other classes. From knowing what it's like to be in the "gifted" classes when I was in school, putting a bunch of gifted kids together in one room can equal absolute insanity. I may be dealing with that here.

There's also the cutest little kid who's little and super organized. His name kills me. His first name is a city in Italy and his last name is VERY Italian. He also has this sweet way of tawking wike a wittle kid. I love it! His mom told me that art is his favorite class. I may or may not have a crush on him. Please don't report me.

For Anyone Who Didn't Believe Me...

The afore mentioned movie is spectacular. It's even just as spectacular the second time you see it - which I DID. Yeah, thats Friday AND Saturday nights AND I also bought the soundtrack and it may be of equal quality to the movie.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Giving Amelie Some Competition

Once in a while, you hear of a movie and you think, "Hmm, that might be good." You also think that it has the potential to be really horrible. You read a couple reviews and you ask around a bit, but no one's seen it because it's new and low budget or foreign or something. You decide, "What the hell, I'm going to see it!" You take your chances and are rewarded with 90 minutes so rewarding that you feel like you've been punched in the stomach - but in a good way. Yeah. The Garden State - see it ASAP. I don't want to have to call the movie theater and get the times for you!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Other People's Parents

Thursday night is my first Open House with the Parents night. We see each class for only 8 minutes, and that's all of NOTHING, so it's no big deal. But to be perfectly honest, it makes me freak out when I think about it. Just me and the parents. Scary.

I got my first nasty note back from a parent today. I know and KNEW I was totally in the right on the whole situation, which incidently was not that big of a deal. But it sort of bothered me. Parents. I hate them.

It'll also just be wierd to be on the other side of the Open House Night. The side that never got to go. Every year when my mom and dad went to my open houses, I'd always wait up for them to come home and ask them all about what they thought of my teachers. Now, I'm the one everyone is coming to meet.

Being on the other side is sort of surreal. Like during the televised morning announcements. These kids LIVE for the morning announcements. If I forget to turn on the TV, they're all like, "What about morning announcements, Ms. Grace?" I remember getting all excited for that sort of thing too. It was so exciting to see that eighth grader or whatever get up and bumble over words and crack silly jokes. But let me tell you, those morning announcements are just a big fat plate of nothing. But hey, for sixth graders, it's the little things, I guess.

The little things like, being impressed that I can name all the presidents of the United States in order. Impressed that I know how to tell the difference between a crocodile and an aligator. Impressed by my 10 minute contour line drawing of my shoe. It's all about the respect, guys. And I'm earning it inch by inch.

I think that this grade might just be perfect for me. I think you push me up to eighth graders and they'd think I was the biggest, squarest, lamest, jerk of a teacher ever.

Too bad that I don't think they're parents will be impressed by that sort of thing. Oh well, I'll do what I can.

Missed Calls

When my dad calls my cell phone and I don't answer, he doesn't leave a message, but he calls 4 MORE TIMES?! WTF, Dad? This has been especially irksome this week since my mom has been out of town and he needs someone to herd. At least that's my theory. I just can't tell you how annoying it is to check your "Missed Calls" and they're all from "Daddy Cell". All. Of. Them.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Not Bad

If someone could please tell me what could possibly feel better than...

1) Waking up with a little doggy snuggling next to you under the covers.

2) Waking up refreshed, but early enough to get ready leisurely, have a cup of coffee and read the paper before heading off to start the day.

3) Hearing a kick ass homily at Mass by a man who seems to be a kick ass Franciscan.

4) Having wings and lemonade for lunch with an old college boyfriend. Having the wings be great, the conversation fun, and the taste in my mouth afterwards not feel spicy or nostalgic.

5) Going down to the mall to return a very "un-Gracie" dress which the ex-fiance gave me the weekend of my melt down when I realized that I could never, ever marry him, and finding out it was worth $69.99 at THIS store (which comes close to heaven).

6) Proceeding to buy a perfect skirt and cute necklace and earrings for some occasion that has not popped up yet, but WILL most definitely pop up eventually.

7) And only having to spend $14.99 in addition to the store credit of the "un-Gracie" dress.

...they must be watching the sun set on the French Riviera while drinking drinks with limes in them along side Audrey Tautou, Clark Gable, and of course Albert and Eleanor. And where Clark completely ignores everyone else and thinks you are the most stunning, smart and angelic creature in existence.

PS. Yes #1- happened all today. Boom!

Friday, August 13, 2004

Dear Charlie

Even though I haven't seen a spot of rain today, Charlie, this is for you...

You made it possible for me to make a much needed trip to the bank.

You also made it possible for me to get my tire fixed with no hassles.

You also allowed me to stay up later and finish the book I've been reading.

You allowed me to NOT set the alarm last night before finally going to bed.

You were the reason I got to see Katie Couric in Athens this morning.

You are why I could crawl back into bed and sleep a little more.

You are the reason that when I finally did get up and showered and dressed, I could put on my flip flops and wear them for the rest of the day.

You are why I'm catching up on things that needed catching up on.

You are why I now have a 3-day weekend.

Thanks, Charlie, I owe you one.

PS. You are the reason one of my "holidays" will be made into a school day. But I won't hold that against you right now.

The First Day

The first day of school from a teacher's perspective was so different than it was back when I was in sixth grade. I remember my first day of sixth grade. It was also my first day of private school. For five years I attended your average public elementary school. I had friends. I rode the bus. I sang in the choir, played the hand bells and was in art club. I even did a stint as a "square dancer" which was the highest notch on the elementary school dancing hierarchy, with "folk dancers" following behind.

A new school, a private school and my first day in what we call "Middle School". It was also my first day in uniforms. We had PE uniforms too, that you had to change into in a teacher's classroom. Boys and girls were segregated for PE, which seemed strange at first, but I actually ended up liking.

The girls were nice and I made friends. But they didn't associate much with the boys. I wasn't a big dater back when I was 10 years old or anything, but this struck me as bizarre. Every birthday party in 5th grade was of the boy-girl nature with the likes of Roger Rabbit, the Cabbage Patch, and of course, everyone's favorite Running Man. There might even be a slow dance to Timmy T, with more than enough room for the Holy Spirit, Father and Son. Back in fifth grade, they also played spin the bottle, though I was always one of the outsiders on that affair. I distinctly remember totally relating to DJ's boy-girl birthday party on Full House. Come on guys, 10 years old, OK?

So sixth grade brought things other changes other than uniforms and a regression in male/female relationships. It also brought changing classes. I don't remember that as being much of a big deal. But I do remember that keeping track of all the teacher's books, folders, homework and one locker combination to be a challenge. Sixth grade meant organizing.

When I got the the first day of school as a first year teacher in a sixth grade art classroom, no, I really wasn't nervous. I had it all planned out. I knew what I was doing. I finished student teaching with minimal amounts of tears and flying colors. 6 classes of sixth graders. Piece of cake.

What my secret weapon was, was knowing that they were more scared than I was on my first day of teacher pre-planning. They were terrified. They were small. One boy was afraid to TALK.

I heard talk of the first day of school back in teacher preparation classes. "You'll go straight home and go to bed and not wake up until the next morning!" "You'll never be so tired as you are your first year!" "The first year, man are you in for it!"

I don't make light of the situation, or exaggerate my classroom management abilities.

I'm too nice. I give in. When I asked that they bring in their "Welcome Letters" signed by their parents TOMORROW "or else it's a ZERO", I knew that I wouldn't be giving out any zeros the next day. I laugh at the bad kids inside. I think about which boys I would fall in love with, if I were in sixth grade. When a boy farted in my class, I wasn't sure what I should do. I say things like "cool". And "awesome". And "dude".

I went into this school taking the don't-smile-before-Christmas attitude. I wanted the kids to behave. I don't want chaos to erupt in 4 weeks. I want them to make great art. But on the first day, when I heard a student tell his friend that "Middle school is really hard because the teacher's are so STRICT!" and I was stupid enough to as, "Like ME?!", he said, "NO, you're nice!"

Yeah, I suppose that's usually a compliment. But I was so excited at the fact that I might be STRICT, it was crushing to be called NICE. I wasn't going for NICE. Maybe it's a good thing I was shooting for strict because if I had shot any lower, I would have hit SOFT or EASY or something much worse.

By the third day of school, I was kicking some ass and taking names. I haven't given out a referral. Yet. And I haven't given out any zeros. But tomorrow's the day. Tomorrow will mark one week down with many more to go!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Basta!

Enough of summer!

Summer officially ended 3 days ago. Work has commensed and Monday will be exciting and terrifying.

I'm ready for it all to begin. I about a month off and it was a nice month of pools, beaches, apartment fixing and family time. Enough of that, I'm ready to start my career.

My room is pretty much ready. My lesson plans are pretty much ready. And I'm ready to have a nice relaxing weekend with a friend's family and babysit her baby while they party at a wedding.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Summertime

This summer has officially one day left in it for me. One. Day. Left.

Started out perhaps the rockiest summer of my life. Is ending smoothly. I think it may be the calm before the storm because this next year is going to be a ride. Let's just hope a safe and theraputic one.

Some things I learned this summer are...

My parents rule.
My friends rock.
When I get married, I will not have assigned seating, my mother do all the work, a stressful experience.
What happens in Key West, stays in Key West.
Just because someone's 23 years old does not mean that she is above wetting her pants in public.
Eating Harry Potter jelly beans with 10 year olds is fun.
Coming back home is a blessing.
Weekly city auctions are better entertainment than VH1.
There are things in life that keep me sane - I'll let you in on some of them as we go.

There's a short list, that is by no means complete. When I think, as I have this past weekend, about where I was 1 month ago...and 2 months ago, I shudder. I don't want to go back there again. I wish I could erase it from my memory. I guess there's no use in that though. Remembering bad things can be just as hard as remembering very good things.

But for now, I'll concentrate on that last day of summer. Enjoy it. Love it. Hold it. And do the same with the career and life that has begun. And give me the strength to kick some 6th grade ass.

Aw Yeah

Here we go...