Sunday, October 30, 2005
The trip back today, however, wasn't as smooth. Each seat was filled, and the bus was stuffy and smelly. I get claustrophobic easily, and felt it badly this trip; having the window seat didn't help matters. The bus was set to leave at 4pm and didn't start going until 4:30, then traffic made the usual three-hour trip a four hour one. Luckily, the lights worked and I read 200 pages of this month's book club selection for the English teachers at my school - Causasia by Danzy Senna. Even with the earlier problems, it's still not bad to get from NYC to Baltimore for $20.
It's good to be back. The quiz for tomorrow is written, and I'm going to bed now. Unbelievably and unfortunately, I have to wait tables tomorrow night. I doubt if anyone will come, as it's Halloween in Fell's Point and I doubt the Halloween crowd mixes too much with the fine dining crowd. I'm scheduled for four days this week. I'm composing a letter to the boss about working me too much because as my friend Neil - who I can speak to better than I can anyone - told me on Saturday over beers on the Lower East Side, "You're working yourself into the ground, Epiph." I am. I need to stop.
I'm going to school as Charlie Brown tomorrow. I will be a very scruffy Charlie Brown if I don't find my razor by that point.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
This is the best thing about going to a huge, Big-Ten University - being able to pick up wherever I am and find instant friends. We all sat and watched the Spartans clobber the Hoosiers, and drank. A lot. Erin and I stumbled home through Central Park and got ready for our show tonight. We saw Taye Diggs and James McDaniel (the boss guy on NYPD Blue) star in a play called A Soldier's Story. It was good. It's another NYC trip without seeing a musical, but that's okay. This was Off-Broadway, so it was cheaper, and we had about sixth row seats to a pretty powerful play. As Erin said before we went to go see it as she sold me on it, "Well, it's about racism and prejudice - you know, all the themes that we love." It sure was goofy to hear that out loud, but it is true - we love those themes. But it wasn't even mostly about that, it was a murder mystery, reminding me a little of A Few Good Men. Cool play. I think it's been made into a movie and I'll have to Netflix that.
Tomorrow, it's off to Ellis Island and then home to Baltimore. It's been a good vacation.
It wasn't my scene and we only stayed fifteen minutes, and didn't see any of the above people. But there was a bathroom attendant and that was a first for me.
Today, we're watching the MSU game with the NYC alumni group. Good times.
Friday, October 28, 2005
1. I was apparently more desperate than $50 for my laundry to get done. I'm embarfassed by how much it cost me to have my 130 pounds of laundry washed, but I don't think they've ever been washed so well. I used a laundry service. I hope to never have to laundromat every again; my new landlord tells me that a new washer and drier will be in by Thanksgiving.
2. Yesterday sped by with me never falling out of my good mood. Even though another Sox team won the World Series, nothing could bring me down. Today is my first day off since August 19. It's an amazing feeling.
3. The bus ride took almost exactly three hours - a touch less. $20 to get from Baltimore to NYC. I still can't believe how easy and cheap that trip is.
4. My friend who we're staying with has an apartment two blocks from Times Square. It's a studio, so we're a little crammed in, but it's a beautiful place and so far we've had a good time.
5. I have a couple of funny school stories to tell from Thursday but I'll have to hold off - the makeup is applied and we're ready to go.
6. Every time I think of New York City in my head, I think of those Pace salsa commercials where the guys can't believe the competitors' salsas were made in New York City. "New York City?!?" Yup. That's where I am.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
I've worked the second job five days in a row, and I'm just exhausted. My car has been loaded up with four laundry baskets worth of nearly a month's worth of laundry that needs to be done before I go to NYC this weekend. My plan is to leave school early tomorrow during my planning period, run to a Sudsville, and spend a few hours doing laundry before I have to pick up my friend from Penn Station at around 5:30. That's unless the laundry just washes itself out in my car tonight. I've been driving around with it for a few days now, hoping I'd be able to grab a couple hours to do it, but it hasn't been meant to be.
In other news, I don't have a lesson planned for tomorrow yet and need to go in extra early to bang one out. I've got parents sending me irritating e-mails about grades because the quarter ends next week and (as usual) a large percentage of my 9th grade students are not passing in the first quarter because they don't yet get that I mean it when I say you have to study and that I don't accept late homework. I did have a great Coach Class yesterday with two especially funny kids, and am feeling some breathing room with grading at the moment, at that's all good. School is not entirely stressful lately. It's just becoming too much to have the second job, at least with as much as I'm working lately. Luckily, the effects of the Polish Girl's resignation are starting to ebb - two new servers are trained, and I'm now off until next week. Also, she got a job at Kisling's today and is watching my dog this weekend. Awesome.
However, beyond feeling exhausted from lack of sleep, I'm feeling very unhealthy because I haven't been to the gym in at least a week. I could also really use a massage. I've never really gotten one but I know I could use one right about now. Oh, my aching back and shoulders.
Erin and I leave on the China Bus Thursday at 5:30; we'll find something to do in Baltimore tomorrow night provided that my laundry gets done. The house isn't quite ready for company but it will have to do. I'm just so overwhelmed right now that this miniature NYC vacation is just what the doctor ordered.
I couldn't make it home today in between the day job and the night job, so Holden had to go about sixteen hours without a bathroom break. Luckily, my dog is a saint so he made it through. A saint that eats cat poop.
Monday, October 24, 2005
"I promise I'll never complain about Baltimore again! I was in Detroit this weekend and it's terrible. There were junkies everywhere. There were twice as many as here."
She then did an impression of a guy she saw in front of the Renaissance Center. I think I remember him.
When I was an RA at Michigan State, the following poem
was a bulletin board that we could choose to put up on our
floors. It sounds a little trite to say it,but I was
always inspired by the poem. The idea that one person
can make a difference in the world is one of the guiding
philosophies of my life. For this reason, I've always
been inspired by the story of Rosa Parks.
Ninety-two years on this earth and she'll be remembered
for centuries for her role in the American Civil Rights
movement. She took what could have been just a footnote
role in history - after all, others had been arrested
before her, she was just the right one - and gained respect
of all by never making herself bigger than the issue and always
conducting herself with serenity and dignity.
She settled in my homestate of Michigan, in Detroit,
and Rosa Parks Boulevard is a main artery through the city.
What an amazing life. Rest in Peace to the grand dame
of the Civil Rights Movement.
I am only one person.
What can one person do?
Was just one person.
She said one word.
She said it on December 1, 1955.
She said it on a bus.
She said it to the bus driver
On the Cleveland Street bus in Montgomery.
The bus driver said,
"Stand up, nigger woman,
And give up your seat
To that white man!"
Said one word,
The word was "No!"
Said one word
And a nation
Said one word
And a world
Said one word
And a world
Said one word
And the Supreme Court
Said one word
And the buses were
I am only one person.
What can one person do?
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Gotta give the White Sox credit for taking advantage of all the extra baserunners that the horrible officiating wrought. These umpires are doing what the Sox players did in 1919... I couldn't believe the Dye HBP call.
This is terrible. The Astros must now make quite a comeback.
These World Series games are making the 5am gym trip a rarity. Hopefully tomorrow I'll make it. I wonder if I just start to give myself the rule of no hitting the snooze button, if it will help. I generally hit snooze three times and then set my alarm again for 7am on the days I skip the gym.
I can't believe how terrible the weather looks in Chicago. It makes me want to rethink this whole move thing.
There's an August Wilson Obit with lots of great photos from his plays in it, but they printed it on the front and back of one page. I want to make a poster of it and laminate it to put up in the hallway at school, but don't want one page of it to be a black and white copy.
I'd be indebted if anyone has it and would be willing to mail it to me, or even just the August Wilson article. I'd pay for postage, too. Shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment if you might be able to help me out.
Paying bills was another of my tasks tonight. A shitty one, at that.
Bills paid tonight:
1. Car payment: $401
2. Student Loan: $265
3. Summer Credit Card: $157 (still paying on because I still have not received either the check from the school system for my summer training - I've had to go to the union to protest - or the check from my insurance company for the deductable from my car getting hit while parked)
4. Dad payment: $150
5. Gym: $40
6. 2002 Tax Bullshit: $100
Aargh. All my money, out the door. I wonder if I'll ever get the point where I feel like I'm working for myself, and not for other people.
BGE and Rent ignored for now. I'm so glad the new landlord wrote ten days of flex time for every rent payment into the lease, because I've utilized it each of the two months so far and will probably need it this month as my next paycheck doesn't come until Nov. 3.
Wow, I am so tired. The goal of the evening is to go to the gym, then go to the laundromat and grade papers while I wash clothes. However, I'm worried about even accomplishing the monumental task of carrying all the clothes that I have to wash from my basement to the car.
Here goes nothing.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
I had no idea a new Wal-Mart opened up in the Towson Target shopping plaza. I went there, felt dirty, and saved money. I even bought a Johnny Cash CD for $7.50. I cannot stomach going to Wal-Mart more than once a year or so, but it was okay today, especially since Target's parking lot was full.
It was an especially strange night at the restaurant. For the first time since I started working there, a fling from my confident, svelte, pre-eye surgery days of a few years back came in. I didn't recognize her at first, and did my standard, "How are you all doing?" line to the couple. The guy gave a normal response, but the woman gave a response of, "Hi there. How have you been?" It took me a moment, but then I recognized her through her Tina Fey glasses. She smiled a little and could probably tell that I wanted to squirm away. I was so embarassed that I wanted to give away the table, but stuck with it, and she never looked up again the entire meal when I came over to ask how things were or fill water glasses. I don't think she could be mad - after all, it was she that gave the cold shoulder back in the day - but it was still awkward.
I got cut early, making $67. Not a bad night, but we were expecting to be slammed and had four tables with reservations not show up. Back to the grind tomorrow. At least I really like everyone I work with.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
"Is it just me, or are our twenties just terrible? I can't wait to be done with them."
Yup. 23 through 26 were pretty darn good, but the late twenties have pretty much bit the big one. Here's hoping the thirties rock.
Speaking of which, I used the word "rock" as a verb in class the other day. I was talking about a student's thesis statement that we had transcribed on the board. We were talking about all the good things the sentences had in it, and all of a sudden I was tired of saying that this was effective and that this was good, so I said, "This... rocks as well." I paused a long time before I said it and got quite a few laughs.
We were also discussing the word "malevolent," which is one of our words of the day. I called on a couple of kids to share their sentences using the word correctly, and would get answers like, "The malevolent boy got in trouble," so I would ask them what sort of things made him malevolent. It turned into a brief discussion of malevolent behavior, and I mentioned putting the head of a dead horse in someone's bed while he slept. I'm sure none of the kids got the Godfather reference, but at least one of them noticed my comment and laughed. Sometimes, it's only that I amuse myself.
The last funny story of the week involves me going through the list of words of the day as a review and coming across the room "tyrant." When I asked a kid what it meant, my funny colleague with whom I share a room made this big production of pointing at me and grinning. It was pretty funny. But what was even funnier was that the next word was the word "harlot." All I had to do was glance at her to get the whole class - and her - roaring in laughter.
Tomorrow is Professional Development Day. In a rare move of civility, they're giving us the day to grade papers and plan units. Amazing. I really am touched and happy about it.
2. Roger Clemens - It's pretty much time to annoint him as the greatest pitcher ever, isn't it? I mean, doing what he has done in these explosive offensive times is pretty amazing. And even though I thought he was a jerk for demanding the trade to Toronto back in the mid-nineties when Toronto was a contendor, he hasn't to my knowledge done anything classless in the last several years. Plus, I noticed last night that he has pretty much the same body type as I do, and it's kind of cool that one of the greatest athletes of my generation looks a little chunky like me.
3. Brad Ausmus - He was always the picture of class when with the Tigers.
4. I hate all Ozzie's, but none more than Ozzie Guillen.
5. I hate Journey, and AJ Pierzinski said that their song "Don't Stop Believing" has been the Sux's team song this year. It's only their theme song because they don't have a song titled "Please Umps Let's Screw Over the Angels."
6. As much as I thought Phil Garner was sort of an idiot when he was the manager of the Tigers, it's pretty clear that it was us, not him.
7. The Astros are doing this while losing the best free agent in baseball last off-season, Carlos Beltran.
8. First World Series for Houston, ever.
9. First World Series for Texas, ever.
10. Everyone else seems to be rooting for the White Sux, and I like to be contrarian when it comes to sports.
11. I think long, long stretches without a World Series victory are good for baseball. The Curse of Joe Jackson should live on.
The only things the White Sox have going for them in my eyes are Mark Buehrle (one of the coolest pitchers in baseball to watch pitch), Frank Thomas (he's whiny and broken down now, but he's certainly someone I would never leave my seat for when he's at the plate), and the fact that Illinois is a blue state with Barack Obama as its Senator. Otherwise, go, Houston, go.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Besides, it's depressing me to work so much and I'm not the greatest company at the moment. I've spent the last half hour looking up IB public schools in Chicago. A mentor of mine just sent this e-mail, after I said I was considering it: "There's a lot of exciting things happening in the Chicago Public Schools right now. Look up Arne Duncan (Chicago Public School CEO). The more I think I about it, the more excited I am about this possibility for you." It's something I'm considering. I don't really know how to start a job hunt, I just know I need an upheaval of some sort.
But the thing is, I know what's making me unhappy here in Baltimore right now. It's not hard to figure out. I live for others. I'm simply working too much. And the thing that has made me happy in recent years - my job at school - isn't making me as happy as it used to, because I feel like I'm surrounded by idiots. Or at least one - an important one. And I'm trying, I really am. I'm trying to like this person, and others that are making me think that mediocrity is steamrolling its way through our school. But I lose faith constantly. We're not striving for excellence, we're striving to please the higher-ups.
I think I'm someone who needs to be inspired by my leaders and, absent that, they at least need to get out of my way so I can do my job. Neither has happened. And every year seems to get worse, not better. I miss feeling the team comraderie I felt. And the older colleagues would tell me that it was rare, that our staff from around 2002-2004 was one of the best deparments you're ever going to find, when I felt like I was surrounded by collegial, intelligent folks I respected. And many of them are still there. Heck, most of them. But the cohesion isn't.
Then, all I do on the side to unwind is wait tables. I'm looking at thirtysomething hours there this week and next, and the only thing that happens if I refuse or if I quit is that my friends, my co-workers, get screwed over by having to work more. Just like has happened to me now that the Polish girl has quit. I'm not going to do that. The owner-manager knows my wishes about shifts. He's not a bad guy. But his hands are tied because it is nearly impossible to find decent help in this city. I mean, look at some of the servers you've had in your dinners here in Baltimore. There are a lot of servers who know nothing about their craft. And that's clear by the applications we get. We're training two right now; hopefully they work out so I can cut down to two days a week; this schedule, I actually like.
It was kind of nice to go to the bank tonight and deposit the $260 I made in tips this weekend. And that was after a $35 fillup of my car. At least I'm making a little bit of money, although it feels like it's all going to other people, with bills still being caught up from the summer and before.
My living situation has just gotten sucky, as well. It appears I'm going to be heading into the winter months with a 33% rent increase unless something miraculous happens. I can afford it, but it sucks. More of my money going to someone else, which is where all my money goes. Rent's still relatively cheap, but it sucks. Sucks sucks sucks. I can't even blame anyone. Not even myself - and you all know I'm pretty good at that usually. It just sucks. I could move, I suppose. But that's tough with a big dog.
Speaking of which, last night was a chilly night and I needed my electric blanket / dog. However, Holden decided he'd rather sleep in the basement. I woke up in the middle of the night cold and called to him, but he either didn't hear or ignored me. When I went downstairs to get my clothes in the morning, he's asleep on the basement guestbed, curled in a ball on a pile of laundry strewn on the bed, wagging his tail, shaking sleep out of his eyes, and looking especially sheepish. Like he knows he heard me at 4am when I called to him but he ignored me and now he's feeling guilty about it. In other words, I'm even being spurned by my dog.
I need a little happiness right now. At least next weekend, I'm taking Friday off and going to New York on Thursday night. New York City! My old friend Erin is going up with me after her conference in DC and we're staying with our friend Jason, who lives a few blocks from Times Square. My good friend Neil just broke up with his girlfriend of a couple years a couple of weeks ago, and he lives in Manhattan as well, and he definitely needs a couple nights of carousing. It's going to be a good time. I need it.
It's too bad that I have to go out of town to have a good time. But it's my own fault. Bah.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
In my head, I'm all, You go, girl. Don't let them do you like that.
But the other part of me is pissed that she didn't give notice.
See, we were shorthanded as it was, so now this means I have to work on Friday until 1am, Saturday until 1am, Sunday from 9 until 5:30, as well as Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. Part of it is because I asked for next weekend off to go to NYC. But it looks like I have to work every night until then starting Friday. Much because of the Polish girl. Good thing she's cute.
Thank goodness Friday is a professional development day, and I've heard rumors that we'll actually be able to use the time to grade and plan lessons.
I don't really talk about sex here, nor do I call my kids "stinky" (although today I bent down to help a kid with something and her breath about knocked me over). Also, I haven't accessed this blog from my school computer. Heck, I don't even have a school-owned computer. But I also haven't accessed it from my computer at school, and couldn't even if I wanted to (blogspot is blocked).
But otherwise, has anyone ever heard of a teacher being fired for his or her blog? Many Education blogs get many more hits than I do, but I'm not sure if as many eliminate geographic anonymity like I do with the title "Epiphany in Baltimore."
Gosh, I just really need a night when I'm not doing something. My "me" time is completely absent right now. If I'm not at Happy Hour tomorrow, then that's why. Wiffleball last night, Work tonight, Dodgeball Thursday, Work Friday, Work Saturday, Work Sunday. I really need to do laundry, as I'm now out of undershirts and have only tank top A-shirts to wear underneath my dress shits, and I don't like them nearly as much because my armpits aren't covered. There's a stack of mail to go through by the door. I owe people phone calls to phone numbers I haven't had the time to look up, and e-mails on e-mail accounts I haven't checked since last week. I need a rest.
Monday, October 17, 2005
I had called her for a post-wiffleball game drink while at Kisling's, right by her house. She came out and joined us, and broke the news. She returned to work and was punished for her vacation by getting crappy shifts, so she just walked out. I'm sure it's been brewing for a while; after all, the left on vacation without permission (even though she gave several months' notice, the restaurant was too shorthanded to give her permission to go), and came back not knowing if she would have a job or not.
She's happy. I'm glad for her. She'll get a new job pretty quickly, I'm sure.
But she was hired the month before I was, so I'm now ranked second in seniority at the restaurant. Two and a half years waiting tables at the same place. Pretty amazing that this minor second job has taken on such a prominent role in my life.
After she broke the news, we went to a new bar called Red Brick House, where Alan and I watched baseball while the Polish Girl chatted and looked bored. When she went to the bathroom, Alan told me how cute we looked together, and I reminded him that we weren't together, and that she had just gone on vacation with another guy to Key West. She's a good friend, that's it. And I'll miss her, but I'll make sure to make a point of still hanging out as often as possible.
A small army of twelve came into my room at around 9:15, and stayed for a grand total of seven minutes. I hope they feel like they've justified their salary today. All I could think was what a complete waste of resources this was. Instead of spreading those people around, they went to just a handful of classrooms, and stayed all of seven minutes. I got good feedback, but it's empty; how in the world can they know what is going on in seven minutes?
Sunday, October 16, 2005
I continue to hope what I hoped for at the beginning of the playoffs - the elimination of the White Sox and their manager, Ozzie Guillen.
Now it's up to the Cardinals. I still have faith. Go St. Louis! (I can't root for Houston because Phil Garner used to manage the Tigers and was a total idiot. However, I will root for Houston if they do get in. It is, after all, sort of cool that it would be their first World Series.)
Below is the hated Ozzy Guillen. And this is a good example of why I hate him. Showing the choke sign on the field to his opponent. What a classless bastard. That, and he called Detroit Tiger Magglio Ordonez a "Venezuelen piece of shit."
And I'll leave you with this immortal homage to St. Lou-AY, written by Nelly in the opening lines of his classic album Country Grammar.
Mmmmm you can find me in St. Lou-AY
Where the gun play ring all day
Some got jobs and some sell yea'
Others just smoke and fuck all day
Go St. Louis.
I doubt if you have a longer middle finger than Textureslut's, but you're free to compare, this Wednesday at Dougherty's Pub for the monthly Baltimore Blogger Happy Hour that he and Team Moose and Squirrel are hosting.
I have to work that night, but am hoping to make a cameo before or after.
Anyhow, I discuss him here because I'm finally going to get around to posting about the Melissa Ferrick show I attended with Fool and Textureslut (who wrote a little entry about the show here) and a couple others on September 10. Glenn McDonald has the best description of Ferrick's music that I could find - much better than my standard "She's like a lesbian Bruce Springsteen" line. Incidentally, I'm also with him about Ani DiFranco at this point.
Here, you can see a review of Melissa Ferrick that pretty much sums up how I feel about her, and I've cut and pasted here for easy access: I say "Ani DiFranco", when I'm talking about independent, aware, fast-acoustic-guitar agit-folk by women you assume to be lesbians (even if you aren't necessarily surprised if they later vacillate on the issue), because at this point the informed music listener is expected to know who she is, approximately what she sounds like, and very loosely what she stands for. I haven't actually liked an album of Ani's in a while, but that makes her even more useful as a symbol, to me, since it's clear, at least inside of my own head, that if I mention her at all I'm probably doing so solely for symbolic purposes. In my opinion the current master of the kind of music Ani represents is, as it has been for a while, Melissa Ferrick. After years of harboring reservations about Melissa, based on a lingering wish that she'd reverse her slide into acoustic simplicity and make the dense, roiling, noisy rock record of which the busier songs on her debut Massive Blur hinted she was capable, I was finally conclusively won over to her cause by seeing her play live a couple times. One by one, her stripped-down concert versions of songs I'd wished were more complicated convinced me that my wishes were wrong. This didn't help my experience of her actual records that much, though, because now instead of wishing they were all more like Massive Blur, I just wished they were all concert albums. Her second (and first full-scale) concert album, in fact, came out a few months ago. It is a two-disc, twenty-two-song, ninety-seven-minute concert recording (a whole concert, banter and sound negotiations and all, which "concert" albums often aren't) called Skinnier, Faster, Live at the B.P.C., BPC for Berklee Performance Center, the very nice auditorium connected to the Berklee College of Music. Ani's Living in Clip would be the obvious comparison, but that was a meta-concert assembled from many shows, and a career retrospective, and big. Skinnier, Faster is resolutely small, despite its length, a single show apparently unretouched, the set list shamelessly biased towards new songs (everything from Freedom and half of Everything I Need, but only three songs from Willing to Wait and nothing from Massive Blur). It's just Melissa and her guitar and a large room full of people who are abundantly willing to think of themselves for the night as her closest friends.
And this is all so plainly Melissa Ferrick's proper environment to me. "Freedom" is measured and stirring. The tour-song "Win 'Em Over", basically redundant in this long-ago-won-over setting, becomes a shared celebration of the sustaining strength of being home. "It's Alright" is jagged and seething, and her guitar is lucky to survive a furious rendition of "I Will Arrive" (in the middle of which her monitors finally start working). The would-be roar "Blind Side" is disassembled and picked through for parts. "Everything I Need" is rapturous, "Faking" reticent and gentle, "This Is Love" spiked and jittery. "North Carolina" almost gets away from her, but she tracks it down somewhere in the second verse. "Particular Place to Be" is a frenetic guitar thrash, but "Gotta Go Now" is subdued almost to lullaby. Somehow "Willing to Wait" has evolved into Melissa's "All Along the Watchtower". "Will You Be the One" and "Welcome to My Life", in advance of Valentine Heartache, slide into their spots in the set just as comfortably as the songs the audience has heard for years. "Mr. Bumblebee", an improvised sketch for a later sea shanty, clears the way for the finale, a menacingly vivid performance of her seduction anthem "Drive" that it sounds like several members of the audience are trying to volunteer to help her reenact. A tacked-on studio-munged remix of "Drive" only highlights how much more vital these songs are when Melissa is allowed to perform them without any outside interference.
Anyhow, the show at the 8X10 Club was amazing, just as great as the concert CD that McDonald describes, and the night was memorable because it was full of good people and good times. Now, a month later, I have some photos:
Fool, a vision in lavender, is having a great time.
The opening act, Natalia Zukerman. She was alright. I couldn't hear her voice too well.
Here's Melissa. I remember commenting to a friend how unbelievably hot she looked this evening. I'm not sure what it was; she looked just as lesbionic as ever. It was something about her belt, though. The friend said, "Yeah, it looks so loose," and I said something like, "Yeah, I think I could undo it with my teeth." Because she was that hot that night.
She duetted a bit with the opener chick. I got the feeling that they were doing it.
This is from the field trip we took the kids to a few weeks ago.
I'm not really sure how things like the Pulitzer are awarded, but I hope the Baltimore Sun series gets some attention. The piece is a good reminder of how important the press can be. In a newspaper that is rarely worth more than a five minute flip-through, this was a moment of powerful clarity. The story deserves some national attention. Just the light it would shed on the state of teenagers in Baltimore would make it worth it.
Reading through the series, it was hard not to be reminded about "Bobby" - the kids all share a loss of a parent at a young age, a coming-of-age in dangerous neighborhoods, a descent into hustling, an uncertainty of having gas and electricity at home, and an exposure to substance abuse of people living in his homelife. He's still up and down. The widow-girlfriend of his brother, murdered at 24 in August 2004, had his brother's baby in March. The mother - homeless and strung out on drugs - put the baby (who is Bobby's niece) in Bobby's house for several months and exited the baby's life. She then came back a few weeks ago, after Bobby and his sister had cared for the baby for the past six months, and demanded the baby back, saying she had gotten everything back together in her life. He followed her, and she's living in a motel. Social services did not show up when called. He's worried. His AP teacher tells me his latest essay is a week late, even though he's lively in class discussions and has definitely read the material (Camus's The Stranger). Bobby is telling him he doesn't want to make excuses, but a lot of things are going on in his life right now.
His latest plan is to join the Army and get his PhD in Psychology while they pay for school. I still just hope that he can make it out of here come graduation in May and doesn't get caught somehow in this city beyond then.
It also made all the difference in the world this week to have Friday night off. Going in on Friday nights is hellish, and until this Friday night, I'd done it every night of the school year. This Friday night's respite was enough to make me not feel overworked for the week. I work the same Tuesday-Saturday night-Sunday morning schedule this coming week, and I'm glad. I also was asked, and agreed, to come in and work the Fancy Smantzy Wine Dinner on Wednesday night, but that's only for a couple hours and hopefully I'll make a bundle.
I still haven't had a day off of working since August 19 or so, but at this moment, at least I don't feel ridiculous overworked.
There's a new Polish girl at work with the exact same first name as the Polish girl. I've trained her my last two shifts. Zack, who does not like the Polish girl, swears that the new Polish girl is hotter. Let me tell you, they're not even in the same ballpark.
Tomorrow is going to be a ridiculously stressful day. I'm being observed by the head honchos of the city for longer than any other teacher tomorrow. I feel like the future of our unique English curriculum is in my hands.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
It felt okay, though. I definitely was not the worst singer there.
It was a fun night. Kelly's is a cool place.
Tonight, on the other hand, was a lot of hard work. I had expected to be cut early, to make it over to a friend's party, but my upstairs section was hopping and I didn't leave until 12:35. I was so expecting the early cut, in fact, that I wore my new I guess there was never a curse, they just sucked for 85 years t-shirt, which I wanted to show off at the party, under my work shirt. (I also couldn't find a clean undershirt when I left for work.) It was embarssing, because in certain light you could read the shirt, and I kept worrying that someone would mention it. It didn't happen. At least I made good money.
Have to be back in at 9 tomorrow. I'm sore.
Last night, a girl told me I should complete a triathalon instead, especially if I get bored with runnings. Which I sometimes do. She did one, and even though it involves three miles of swimming (ugh), I think that may be more feasible.
Right now I'm too out of shape to think about it too much. Only twice to the gym this week. Today will make three. Tomorrow... I don't know if I'll make it tomorrow as I work 9-5 on my feet and the gym closes at 8.
The 9:30 Club is not tiny, either. Bummer. I guess I underestimated her current fan base.
I haven't seen Tracy in concert since 1995, and it would have been nice to review the show of the artist who probably was most influential into my appreciation of music. She was so good live, too. She performed at the State Theater in Ann Arbor, a few months before "Give Me One Reason" broke. I went to the show with some girl I met off the Internet who was also a TC fan. I didn't have a car because I was a freshmen in college, and she picked me up on the way from Grand Rapids. I had a 4th row seat and was bowled over by the performance. Afterwards, we waited for a few hours out back for TC to come out. We got her drummer's autograph, but when Chapman came out, she (a very short woman) was shrouded by a huge bodyguard and didn't stop to talk. I don't know why we thought she would; she is amazingly shy, used to not even be able to make eye contact with the audience. The show, however, remains one of those goosebump moments - my first concert I went to on my own and my first real religious music experience. Only Dan Bern and Melissa Ferrick have come close to matching that since.
Friday, October 14, 2005
I just googled the joke, and the other punchline was, "I don't like black people either." I guess I'm glad she didn't share that one with the class. Oy.
Fun night tonight, in the night of the most needed happy hour ever. Oddly enough, I didn't feel stressed at all at school today so I didn't feel quite as in need of a beer as I did on, say, Wednesday. But Brewer's Art was fun, and, damn, those rosemary garlic fries are the bomb, right up there with Thirsty Dog's Hearts Afire Salad and Nick's Fish House's seafood pizza as the tastiest and best buys in Baltimore. Later, we meandered to Ze Mean Bean for some music, then to Kelly's for some karaoke. All told, I went to three places and had dinner, and spent less than $40 for the night. Not bad for my first weekend night out all school year. One thing about this city is that I'm pretty good at finding cheap places to hang out, and usually don't spend much. As long as you forogt Slante's. But at least that was for a good cause.
Monday should be a very interesting day. I found out at about 2:30 today that the big Monday visitation that has been planned for the last month - the day that the head of the city public schools, and all the subordinates, and the governor for all I know - will fall mostly on my shoulders. It's me and another teacher that they'll be observing - that's all. It's English I that they're assessing, so I feel like the entire future of our special curriculum is in my hands. If I'm good, they'll say, yeah, you can still do what you want as a department. If I suck, it could be to the crappy citywide curriculum.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Dad: "Anonymous" is right in her comment, but easier said than done. I'm going to set that aside for a little bit. Maybe he'll start talking to me again if I get my November payment in on time.
Happy Hour: The most important happy hour ever is tomorrow. I have sent out the e-mails, planned the locations, and am ready. Ready ready ready. At 3:06 tomorrow, you can be I'll be on my way to Brewer's Art for its start. I don't know if I've ever needed a happy hour more.
Dodgeball: The McHenry Bridge tunnel was diverting traffic tonight off onto Keith Avenue. I'm not sure why, but it sucked. That meant that I had to drive across from Canton to Federal Hill via the rush hour jam packed streets along the water. I left at around 5:20 for my 6:15 game in Brooklyn (south of Federal Hill). I never got there, instead stopping off at Nick's Fish House, the sponsor of the league, at 7:10. It took me almost two hours to get there. Terrible.
Netflix: Having Netflix friends is fun. I've decided, though, that renting a whole TV series is just too much. I send back one Lost DVD and the next one comes. Too much commitment right now. I'm going to put those down on the bottom of my list and wait for the Bruce Willis black and white comic book movie to come instead.
This is part of what my mom e-mailed today: "One thing I've learned over the years is to stay out of Dads arguments because my 2 cents usually makes things worse. I also know how proud he is of you and how much he loves you. Your letter hit him hard. He is keeping track of all our money issues because he is worried about our finances--seems silly and maybe unrealistic to you but in 10 years we better know what we are doing financially . He gets no social security because he worked for the state and they don't pay social security taxes. My income is pitiful. I could earn more working at a factory but at least it is rewarding. He was raised to keep close records of everything--never to charge things and it is even hard for him to take out a car loann. Enuf of that. When Dad comes up with these things just try to understand that his parents came to this country not knowing English and with no money. He was raised entirely different than you or even me. I beleive he is very hurt right now so please don't be so hard on him. "
Sad. I'm not sure why she's telling me about the financial records. There was a small part of the last letter where I told him I was feeling like just another bill to be paid. I've never missed a payment to him for the money I owed him, but a few have been late. Like, a few days late - like my rent always is, which is the only other bill I pay with a mailed check rather than the Internet. I finally found out it bugged him, so I made sure to get this month's in the mail on the 22nd - a day before I got my first paycheck on the 23rd. I even told him right when I mailed it because I happened to be on the phone with him.
I had no idea until I talked with him last Thursday that he didn't get it. In fact, he still hasn't gotten it. I immediately sent out another one, which he has gotten, and apologized profusely, but his reaction - not telling me he didn't get it, yelling at me, cruel words, then refusing to speak with me - have made me very, very angry and upset. He didn't believe me, which infuriates me, and I feel like he's treating me like he is a debt collector. I will admit that this feels like it's worse than any fight we've ever had. I have no idea right now how to extricate myself from it. The fight feels like it has control over me.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Sorry, I wasn't quite done with my bitchfest yet. I have no idea what these administration type folks think when they offer a directive like that. Is there research that suggests that high school students are motivated by having their work posted on the classroom walls? I've got 170 students; how will the 165 whose work is not posted feel about their work not getting posted? Will they notice at all, either way?
The Baltimore City Public School System is rife with problems. I don't have enough books for my students. Let me repeat: I do not have enough textbooks to give out to my students. Our school cannot afford/supply/whatever water to allow students and staff to drink even though we have lead in the water. Yet the directive I get from the powers that be is that I need to post student work and write a bullshit 20-question multiple choice test by the end of the week when I have hundreds - literally, hundreds - of essays to grade and vocab tests to score.
I'm not going to do it. Heck, I don't even have a classroom. And if I'm asked, I have to decide whether to be combative ("I'll post student work if you can prove to me either that it's educationally sound or if I'm contractually bound to do so") or whether I will dodge the topic by simply pointing to the student work of other the students into whose classrooms I float.
I can't believe how tied up in knots I feel right now. I should be at the gym right now, but that's been trumped by listening to whiny chick music and eating Fruit Pebbles. At least they're the "half the sugar" kind, so their caloric content is not that high. And "aspartame" sounds so much more natural and healthy if you pronounce it "as part of me."
While the movie was on, I ran downstairs to get some water - since no water gets delivered to our floor anymore - and ran into two guidance counselors. Older black ladies, they both greeted me with big smiles. One of them said, "I've been talking to your students this year. Hearing lots and lots of good things!" The other said, "You've been with us five years now, huh? Five years, imagine that. Now you're an old hat, like us." After a few more pleasantries, we parted ways.
I needed the conversation, and was glad that I resisted the urge to tell her that this is perhaps the worst it's been in those five years. I didn't tell her that I often leave work wanting to scream into somebody's face. I didn't tell her that, for the first time in my five years there, I feel like we're being tainted with the mediocrity that envelopes other schools in the system. For a long time, it was as if we were being led by people that told the folks that run the system that, no, we're not going to do that. Now, we're doing those things.
These are things I think to myself lately when my boss comes and asks me to do things:
1. If you want me to post student work, get me a classroom.
3. Fuck you.
5. Where in my contract does it say I have to do that?
6. Do you work yourself.
7. I refuse to put up with any more bullshit. I want to teach my kids and that's it.
However, all I say is "okay." Then I get behind on grading and get stressed out.
I need a break. I need about a month off right about now.
I'm school shopping. Have no idea what I'm looking for or even where, but I'm looking. I bet Chicago is nice this time of year.
And it's only Wednesday.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
No ticket, though. The two times I was pulled over in my early twenties in Michigan, I gracefully entered the fact that my father was a state police officer into the conversation. No ticket, either time. The last two times I was pulled over here in Baltimore, I've been able to use the "I'm a teacher and am on the way home from the second job I keep to make ends meet" card. I actually didn't use it the first time, but the cop mentioned my "Another Teacher for Kerry" bumper sticker. This time, the cop asked me if I was in a rush, and I was able to say right away, "No, I'm sorry, I didn't realize how fast I was going. I'm just a teacher and I'm tired and trying to get home from my second job to make it to bed." He didn't take my license when I handed it to him, asked me where I taught, and then sent me on my way.
I'd feel guilty if it wasn't the truth.
Twelve years of driving and still no moving violation.
I'm tired but wired, and am happy to say I found my wallet at the restaurant tonight. It had been lost since Sunday. I was starting to get concerned. I would have broken $100 tonight if those asshole businessmen weren't 14% tippers.
Monday, October 10, 2005
I'm tired of the best player of my generation being derided because he's never gotten one. And, yeah, I respect the Yankees. During this season, they sucked a lot of the time, but they went out and did something about it - went out and got Chacon and that other guy whose name escapes me at the moment. It wasn't about money; these weren't expensive free agents or anything like that. they just made the move they needed to make.
Jim Beattie couldn't do that. He sat on his hands and now he's lost his job. Deservedly so. No one not a fly in the wall of the offices knows whether the Burnett trade could have been made or not, or whether it was Angelos's fault that it didn't. But from where I stand, Angelos has spent plenty of money the last few off seasons. It's fashionable, and maybe accurate from a historical standpoint, to bash Angelos for the failure of the Orioles. But they've thrown a lot of money around in the last few years. Just at the wrong people. At this point, he needs a GM with the balls to get things done. I would have fired Flanagan, too. It's certainly true that Brian Cashman has a lot of money to work with, but he also knows what to do with it. I can't stand teams complaining that they're poor because the vast majority of them are just stupid.
The Yankees are currently down by two after seven innings, though. By the time most of you read this, it will be decided. And you can laugh at me.
I'm rooting for the Cardinals first, though. Then the Yankees. Then, any team except the White Sox. Unless they Ozzie Guillen drops dead; then I could root for them again.
Speaking of sports, our wiffleball team lost 12-0 tonight. After an 0-8 season last year, we've now dropped our first game of the season. I allowed the first eight runs; Fool allowed the last four, meaning my earned run average is 24.00 and hers is 9.00.
Update: The Yankees lose. Go Angels! Then... Go Cardinals!
I thought I did.
Then, I ask her to be my Netflix friend. She agrees. All is fine. Today, however, I click on her page for the first time.
She hated two of my favorite movies from the last few years - Magnolia (two stars) and The Royal Tenenbaums (one star) [!].
And that's not even getting into the fact that she gave My Big Fat Greek Wedding five stars. Auggh!
The horrors. We will have to discuss this tonight over wiffleball.
I'm only kidding, of course.
What you might not know, though, is that this Friday is the first weekend night I've had off all school year, with the asterisked house concert night the only exception. Therefore, I'm going to party, party, party.
I am hoping we'll decide to hit The New Haven Lounge, out by my house. Every time I go there, I feel like I'm in the Harlem Renaissance, except for the neon lights, and it's been a while. But it's not like I ever really go out much, so I'd be happy just about anywhere. Another night at Brewer's Art would suit me just fine. Or Holy Frijoles. Or Rocky Run. Or Thirsty Dog. Or Red Star. I'm not picky. It's someone 40th birthday party on Sunday, so we're letting her choose the place. I'm trying not to make it all about me and my first day off all school year.
In other edge of your seat news, I just ordered a t-shirt that reads "I guess it wasn't a curse" on the front and "They just sucked for 85 years" on the back. Maybe I'll wear it on Friday. I wonder if it's too early to start pouring salt in the wounds of Red sock fans.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
I'm getting really excited about the NYC trip, as well.
Friday, October 07, 2005
The meetings were better than usual, today, though. Specifically, I didn't feel like shooting myself after we were dismissed. The principal ended the meeting - which was oddly pleasant in tone - by talking about having a Christmas party. Somewhere, he said, where we could have a few drinks. That's something I never would have imagined any of my other three former principals say.
I have to work tonight. Of course. The Polish girl is taking her first vacation in two and a half years - a trip down to Florida - and we're all picking up the slack. Lots of long hours this weekend. I'd really like to get off in time to watch the end of the Sox vs. Sox matchup. My two least favorite teams, but I think I hate the White Sox more.
By the way, if anyone in the area is into talking to a bunch of sophomores on Career Day in the middle of November, shoot me an e-mail.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
It comes down to money, and he not believing me about something that is 100% true, and me feeling incredibly let down by him. I actually hung up on the phone with him tonight, something I've never done, and went home and wrote the e-mail. I'm still simmering.
As happy as I am at times, I live a hard, lonely life. I live for my job, and am enriched and enlivened by it, but live my days feeling like I'm only on the outskirts of other people's lives. An afterthought. I know this isn't their fault, or really even mine, I just know it's true. I even know the reason - it's because I'm so busy, so spread thin. But I need to be. I need to get ahead, I need to get to a point where I can stop worrying about money. I've been working this second job now for 2.5 years, and am feeling better about things, but every year, it's something else - like getting audited from 2002, for example, something that's going to put me back $1200 because somehow I did my taxes wrong. I had savings, but now they're pretty much gone.
I keep my eyes on that prize of a debt-free existence and look for a balance where I can have a week with a night off to ask a girl on a date, or take a class so I don't lose my certification in 2008. That rarely happens, but I'm optimistic. If it doesn't happen one week, I assume it will happen the next. It's like I live week to week. I make it through one, then see if I can make it through another. I always can. I'm strong. I'm optimistic. I've now not had a real day off since I returned from my North Carolina vacation in the middle of August, but that's okay. I know what I need to do.
But the last thing in the world I need is to call my parents and end up feeling like I did tonight after our conversation. Like absolute shit. I'm a good person, flawed but good, and I'm doing the fucking best I can. And I do it all for them. He can go to hell.
Sorry that we missed each other. We actually stopped by the restaurant in a hurry around 4:30 on Saturday but missed you. We did not miss, however, a beautiful young woman who was working there. Who is she?
Hope you are well, and definitely looking forward to seeing you later this month.
My stomach gurgled all night long. When I woke up at 4:45 to go to the gym, I listened for a second to my stomach, and decided to just reset the alarm clock for 7. At seven, I hit snooze twice, then got up and did a little praying to the porcilin gods. Then a little sitting. By the time I was finished and into the shower, it was 7:53. School starts at 8:15. Technically, I'm supposed to be there by 8:05.
I can get ready, showered and dressed with contacts in, in ten minutes, but today I couldn't find clean pants. My gym bag was already packed in the car and I didn't want to spend the time to go get it, so I had to search for pants. In the flurry to get ready, Fool saw me in my skivvies. I'm pretty sure she saw me, at least. It was actually pretty funny.
I rolled in at 8:18. I've never actually gotten there after the bell rang. Luckily, my department head is lazy and doesn't get in until 8:30 everyday, so no one noticed. I just walked into the classroom and pretended like everything was normal. It worked.
And I had a pretty great day. I talked to Bobby, and he got a lead role in our school's production of As You Like It. I can't quite believe it. I wanted to hug him when he told me, but I played it cool. On December 16 and 17, if you're looking for something to do, I'll hook you up with tickets. Actually, I won't hook you up, as I'll be paying along with everyone else, but I think you should go. I don't know the play at all, but apparently he is playing Orlando, which is a pretty big part. He has no understudy.
Later, I held my 9th grade film club series, showing Dead Man Walking after school. We compare it to A Lesson Before Dying - it's a similar story in that someone is guiding another to redemption before being sent to their death, but eliminates the issues of guilt/innocence and racism. The kids were rapt. Next film, I really should go for something a little lighter.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
A good reminder that I need to read the damn Shakespeare play before I go see it performed. If it were any number of plays I had read before, I think I would have been fine. I would have loved to have seen Romeo and Juliet, which I haven't seen since I started teaching it. Macbeth would have been awesome. But King Lear was a complete bust.
That's two disappointing Center Stage productions in a row. This one was probably more my fault than theirs, but the last one (the silly Voysey Inheritance, also about old British people) from the previous season was also a flop in my eyes. Here's hoping that the next production rises to the level Permanent Collection or Elmira's Kitchen, two of the most powerful theater experiences I've ever had.
I'm going to be spending a weekend in NYC at the end of the month, and am deciding what show I want to see while I'm there. Erin and I will be china-bussing it up there and staying with our college friend who lives a few blocks from Broadway. This is the time when all my readers with connections with the NYC theater scene give me advice about what I should go see. Or send me free tickets or something. I've never seen a Broadway musical, and really want to see a famous one, like Rent, Wicked, or The Lion King, for my first one. However, I'd have to go alone. I also sort of want to see Hairspray. Not that I need to see a musical. I "only" saw a play last time - August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean - and was very happy with that, so maybe I'll do that again. I will probably go to the half off place and see what I can get. Last time I was there, I just missed getting a Rent ticket for $50 there, but had to run across the street to the ATM, and when I returned, it was gone.
I was intrigued by the fact that my dot landed right on Hillary Clinton's hairline, and right underneath Robert Redford's nose.
Go, Hillary, go. I love that woman.
And, by the way, why in the world does anyone know Adam Sandler's political views?
If I find it overwhelming, what might my kids think? Actually, they all live day by day pretty much, so they're probably not overwhelmed by it. Or maybe they are, judging by how many kids currently are not passing English.
Today, the principal - who never comes on the PA, because he wants the kids (and us) conditioned to know that whenever he goes on the PA, it's something serious - came on the PA in the middle of third period and said, "Excuse me teachers and students. At this time, we must evacuate the building immediately."
There have been some scary moments in my teaching career. 9/11 occurred during my second week of teaching (although we didn't know its extent then). We've had bomb threats, snipers, and gang activity. But I don't think I"ve ever been more scared at school than I was today. I had no idea what this, which we've never done before, could be.
We were let back in two minutes later, though. It was a drill, albeit one called by the fire department, not by the school. So teachers didn't know about it. Our time for the last fire drill was seven minutes, and this one was just two minutes, so it worked.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Made $60 tonight. $55 last Tuesday. The money tonights paid for the yearlong season tickets to Centerstage, where I'll be seeing King Lear tomorrow night with friends.
I had to work with a very drunk Ukrainian man as a dishwasher today. It was terrible. They should have sent him home when he showed up drunk, but there was no one else to wash the dishes.
A table tipped me $20 on a $57 bill. Two flirty older ladies. I like that. That's the sort of thing that will put me in a good mood for a while.
At this time last week, I was really down in the dumps. This week, I'm feeling pretty good about things.
I'm excited about Jim Leyland being hired to manage my Detroit Tigers.
I'm excited that tomorrow is a B day and my lesson went well today. I even built in a 25-minute silent reading activity into the lesson, and, believe me, it's beautiful not to be front and center for at least a third of the 90-minute class period.
Tired now, though. Sleep.
Then, we made writing folders in class. That takes forever, especially with two staplers.
After school, I expected to have a messload of kids come into my office for extra help, but all teachers and students were asked to evacuate the building immediately because of gang activity in the area. No after school events. It seems strange to me that they would want to evacuate the building rather than keep the kids inside, but it was the police's orders. At least outside was blanketed with tons of both uniform and plain clothes cops to make sure all the kids got to safety.
Then, I returned home and none of the water works. I have no idea why. The sink was making a strange noise, so I turned on the water, and nothing came on. I flushed the toilet and it flushed but did not fill. None of the downstairs sinks work.
Uh, Fool, the water doesn't work. I haven't checked yours upstairs though.
I'm hoping that this is a problem that just goes away by the time I get home from the restaurant tonight. It really sucks because I have to make my daily post-school crap and now I've apparently got to do it there instead of here.
By the way, overheard in the teachers' lounge today: "Well, that will teach him to skip school." Referring to this kid.
Monday, October 03, 2005
She definitely seems underqualified and this looks like cronyism, but I'll try to keep an open mind until I hear the confirmation hearings. My first instincts on Roberts were negative but ended up sorta liking him despite myself.
At first, I was surprised and didn't know what she was talking about, but something about the amount of eye contact she made with me made me realize that the person she was talking about had as much to do with me as he did to her.
"Yes," I said. "I heard. Isn't that sad?"
The colleague standing next to me was confused and concerned. "Who passed away?," he asked.
Arnisha fielded this one. "August Wilson died yesterday."
He had not heard.
And that's how the day went today at school. Have you heard the news? Where did you hear it? Have you seen the NY Times full page story yet? Yes, yes, that's sad. But at least he got his ten-play cycle done in time.
I asked one woman to read an announcement about his death over the PA, thinking for sure that she had heard already. It was 2pm by then. She hadn't. When I told her, she was thunderstruck in the hallway, and her voice broke when she told me about the time she met him, and how he signed her copy of Joe Turner's Come and Gone with the note, "(Melissa), You are a Shining Woman." That's a paraphrase from the most famous line of that play.
Our school loves August Wilson. We used to have every kid read a play by him every year, this four-year study culminating in a senior research project that links the four pieces together. That has since been abandoned in favor of a bit more Shakespeare and a bit more prose, but since I've been there, I know that Jitney, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, and Two Trains Running have all been taught. But, more than any other is Fences. Every kid at our school reads that one; it's practically a graduation requirement. Most kids in the country read it at some point, I'd say. It's Wilson's most famous - and I'd argue best - work.
It's about fathers and sons, strong women, baseball, and the Negro Leagues. How could I not love that play?
In person, Wilson was just as poetic and musical as his play's dialogue were. His plays were magical. We've lost a great one.
Ate dry oatmeal for dinner. Oatmeal is my emergency food at school. But there was no water. Or, no lead-free water. So I had it dry.
Very tired and smelly right now. But I got a lot of work done. I was a grading machine.
Deciding whether it's better for me to drive out to Bally's, or to watch Prison Break while I lift weights. I'm leaning towards the latter. I also think I have to run to Safeway, because I am out of two of my diet staples - veggie burgers and mustard.
August Wilson dies
Wilson completed his life's work - a ten play cycle chronicling the African American experience in the 20th century - just before he died. Seminal works include his examination of a Negro League baseball star's post-life Fences, The Piano Lesson, and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Baltimoreans can see his last play - the 1990s drama Radio Golf - this April at Center Stage. I'll be there.
I've been a fan since I saw Wilson speak at Michigan State eight years ago; as a speaker, he was just as his plays were - rich, poetic, and musical. Last year, I was lucky to see Phylicia Rashad star in Gem of the Ocean on Broadway, and have spent my teaching career teaching at least one Wilson play a year - Fences and Joe Turner's Come and Gone are always favorites for the students.
His name certainly deserves its place alongside - or above - Arthur Miller and Tennesse Williams as the nation's most important playwrights.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
In my underwear.
It's time for bed. This is post eleven of the weekend. 4:45 is only five hours away.
Still no call back. I sent an e-mail tonight as a last ditch effort. I'm certainly not holding my breath. It's alright. I couldn't believe how early this week I had to fill up on gas after that round trip down there last Sunday. That is just too far.
I probably should have gotten a clue since we were taking TV breaks from our activities. In her standup, Margaret Cho talks about how she sometimes would go down on dates to get rid of them. She's not a slut, she's a timesaver. While I didn't get gone down on (uh, yeah, I is an English teacher), I wonder if I got some sort of guilt-induced makeout session. I mean, I didn't even have to make the first move.
Don't worry, I'll take it, and I'm not feeling bad about it. I have other prospects right now and I'm working out more and more, so my confidence is getting where it needs to be. Needs to get a little higher and I need to get less busy, but things are okay. I might even ask someone out this week. I am trying to figure out how to work it into the conversation with her.
This is, I believe, my tenth post since Friday night. But it's been a decent weekend, though, so go figure.
I did the following:
1. Had Friday night off, pretty much. I watched Angels in America in its entirety and then got all excited about Netflix again.
2. Got a full eight hours of sleep both weekend nights.
3. Made $101 on Saturday night. Shitty money today, but I got out of there in four hours.
4. Had two great workouts.
5. Didn't spend any money, save for a $25 trip to Trader Joe's this evening for the week's groceries.
6. Cleaned my house.
7. Took the dog for a run.
8. Took out the trash.
9. Graded some papers.
10. Got to park in the restaurant's super secret lot during the Fell's Point Festival, so I didn't have to fight parking.
11. Caught up on a lot of e-mails. All except one. That's you, Mandy! You still read this thing? Great to hear from ya!
If I ignore the fact that MSU lost to Michigan and the regular baseball season is over, all is well in the world. Everything not-sports related is good.
(Truth time: I actually did not do #7, but am planning on doing it right now, and thought that putting it in there would make me do it. Nothing like going for a run at 10pm.)
I hate the Red Sox. I really hate Johnny Damon and Curt Schilling. I think Terry Francona sucks. Yeah, I sorta like David Ortiz, David Wells, Kevin Youkilis ("The Greek God of Walks") and Tim Wakefield, but the hatred for Damon and Schilling overwhelms them. Then, there's the fans... oh god, the fans.
And, I hate the Yankees. I hate Derek Jeter (I actually played against him in southwest Michigan growing up; I couldn't stand the fact that he wanted to be a Yankee and not a Tiger even though the Tigers were better than the Yankees when he - and I - were growing up in MI) and Gary Sheffield. Yeah, I sorta like ARod (I know, I know), Mariano Rivera (best relief pitcher... ever?), and Tom Gordon (dude's been playing since I've been watching baseball). But overall, I don't like them. Then, there's the fans...
Lastly, I hate the White Sox, probably more than the others this year. I especially hate Ozzie Guillen and their announcer, Hawk Harrelson. Yeah, I sort of like Mark Buehrle and Frank Thomas. But that manager... ugh. You call one of my Detroit Tigers a "Venezuelen piece of shit," and I'll hate you for the rest of your days.
So I guess that leaves the Angels who I'm rooting for. They're alright. I like Mike Scioscia. I like Vladdy. Go, Angels.
As for the NL, I usually go for the midwest team, and that would be St. Louis. I like Albert Pujols a lot; he's the best player of his generation, I think. I respect Atlanta. I sort of like the fact that the Padres made it with just 82 wins; they would be a fun upset. Plus, they have Rob Fick, one of my favorite ballplayers of the last five years or so. As for Houston, I hate Roger Clemens and Phil Garner. So I guess in the NL I'm rooting for anyone but the Astros.
So that means I'm rooting for an Angels vs. Anyone-but-the-Astros World Series. Go Angels! Go Anyone-but-the-Astros!
But, mostly, no socks. Either white or red. Then I'll be happy.
This, folks, has been the musings of a bitter baseball fan. It's not who I'm rooting for, it's who I'm not.
And you should see the Carlos Pena arguments I've gotten into tonight on the Detroit Tigers forum. Bitter, bitter, bitter.
This is especially frustrating because any objective, paper analysis of the team shows them to be pretty decent. They have four starters who have ERAs about league average, and one starter - Jeremy Bonderman - who I'd take over just about any starting pitcher in all the major leagues as a guy to build a team around. Not great, but not terrible. The have the generation's best all around catcher. They have the guy who will lead the major leagues in batting average, even though he won't be recognized (because his stats are split by the leagues). When healthy, they have one of the game'ss best power hitters in right field. Their shortstop is one of the handful best in the game when healthy. They've got great young players in CF and 1B. I feel like players like Craig Monroe and Brandon Inge, though not superstars, are solid players who could certainly be part of a winning ballclub. On paper, this team looks competitive.
Alas, the games are not played on paper. The team is losing and losing. Part of the problem is that the team's offense is almost entirely tied up in batting average. The team has very little power and even less patience. Ivan Rodriguez has been awful this season, having single digit number of walks and dragging down the offense. Ordonez, a guy with power and patience, has been injured for half the year. Pena, another guy with both of those skills, was relegated to the minor leagues for much of the year. Other than those guys, there are a lot of free-swingers and not much to balance them, then no depth when players get hurt.
Tomorrow, I fully expect Alan Trammell, one of my favorite Tigers of all time, a player I grew up watching and respecting, to be fired as manager. This was always a possibility, which is one reason I thought it was dumb to hire him as manager in the first place; it would be too tough to see him fired. But it's evident that he's lost control of the team, with reports of everything from massive clubhouse warfare to rumors of Dmitri Young drinking in the clubhouse during games. With Trammell, we'll also see Kirk Gibson being shown the door. Major bummer.
And it's been a major bummer of a season, a season that saw the team up over .500 as late as July, something us Tigers fans relished. But now it's back to below-mediocrity, and I've never felt less confident about the future. In the past, at least I knew that the future was bright, but most things I predicted with this season have gone the opposite of what I've expected, and it's disappointing.
I'm sure soon I'll be thinking of Joel Zumaya and Justin Verlander, two of baseball's best pitching prospects, and how they'll be part of the rotation as soon as next year. I'll be thinking of Cameron Maybin, the team's #1 draft pick last year, and how he's been compared to Ken Griffey as a player. But right now, it's tough not to feel depressed about this team.
You Orioles fans don't know how lucky you have it. First place for a whole half a season? I've been waiting for that for 17 years.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
The placement of both animals on my bed has continued for a couple of years now, ever since I decided to move from the basement to the first floor. However, I decided to throw a wrench into it this summer. I found that the air conditioning hit me better if I turned around on my bed, with my feet going where my head usually goes, and my head down at the bottom. I was cooler like this, and could sleep a little better.
I immediately became interested in what the animals would do. The variable is the placement of my body - does that make the animals decide to sleep in different place on the bed? Or is the animals' decision to sleep in their spots totally independent from my body's placement?
My findings were neither that interesting or remarkable, but I'll share them anyway. The cat stayed exactly where he was, apparently not minding that it was my head next to him instead of my feet. The dog also stayed in the same spot; however, he turned his body around, positioning his head in the direction opposite my head. So he is obviously more comfortable with his head facing my feet. Hmmm.
Now my a/c is off for the year, and I'm back to the traditional head and foot of the bed. The animals still select their same spots. Their consistency is comforting.
(I really need to get a life.)
I had a couple of invites to head out after my shift, but the usual 9pm or 10pm cut on Saturday night ended up being after 11pm. I've got a shift in the morning, and hope to make it into the gym beforehand, so I decided against any post-work celebrating. This is even though my good friend Neil, who I only see a couple times a year, is in town for the night. He called yesterday and I called him back today, and I was hoping to be able to make it to Brewer's Art afterwards, but I just couldn't do it. I'll catch him in NYC later this month, I hope. Or maybe we can hang out tomorrow, after my shift. Brunch should be busy, though, so there's no guarantee I'll get off at my usual 2pm or 3pm time.
2. I'm looking for friends on Netflix. Shoot me an e-mail if you're into that.
I noticed him from the first day of school. He's a "B," so I put him in the front row. He's the kid who asked me if I was stoned because my eyes were all red. Not a good way to start off the year. Then he comes the second day of class, and then the next few class periods he either comes in an hour late or doesn't show up at all. I'm just getting to know the kids at this point, and am overworked, so I don't really follow up just yet. Finally, I call his mom. The next morning, mom - who looks younger than me, and who looks haggard and overworked at her security guard job - drags in the kid at 8am and swears he'll now start getting rides to school and won't be late anymore. For the next four class periods, though, he's late every time, or doesn't show up at all.
In the meantime, I get a printout of all the kids' reading scores on their reading and math tests as they exited middle school. This kid has the highest reading score in his Honors class, higher than the kids who have impressed me so far with their skills, higher than the privelaged white kids who attended a certain hoity toity Jewish private school in the city for middle school, higher than the kids who have been participating in class so far, higher than anyone else. I'm a bit shocked, and while this doesn't make me care more, it does make me more interested in what this kid is going through at home. The next time he comes to class, I order him to start coming in after school every day to start catching up. I try to act aloof, because he's still go to meet me halfway, but he does start showing up after school - twice in a row. Over and over again, I tell him the importance of being in school on time everyday. He swears he won't miss anymore, and acts earnest about everything.
The next morning, though, he doesn't show up. I'm pissed off. I call mom again. She tells me the kid was arrested and wasn't released until 6am that morning. The kid comes in the next day and confirms. Of course, his story is one that totally makes it the PO-lice's fault, and I tell him it doesn't matter, that he's got to stay away from the people who are leading him down his current path. He tells me the police continue to harrass him in his Remington neighborhood, that they look for him in windows and shine lights in. See, the kid is a bit of a smart ass with them, from what I can deduce.
However, he has done a mountain of work for me in the last week, and I keep telling him that we're just twelve class periods into a school year that consists of ninety class periods. So it's not too late to make a comeback. He tells me he did the same thing - fall behind badly - in middle school, and was able to catch up, but I tell him that it's different in high school. For example, I don't let kids make up missed homework unless they have an excused absence. I haven't let him, either. He's making up some tests and quizzes and a couple essays, things that my class policy allows makeups for in the first quarter. (And when I say "make up," it's not re-do, but you're able to take it if you miss it.) And the work is, for the most part, good, except he didn't do his summer reading. Of course.
I don't know; we'll see what happens with him. He's one to watch.