Archive for January, 2010

Deleting Facebook

Today I’m making an executive decision.  I’m deleting Facebook for a period of time; allow me to explain why.  I don’t know what possessed me but yesterday I looked at Elizabeth’s Facebook page.  I do that from time to time because, well, she’s very pretty and I miss her. Generally speaking though, I avoid looking at her page for those very same reasons.  Well, around two weeks ago I talked to her and she told me about a trip she was going on with her friend Desi.  I didn’t ask where or for what, I just reckoned she needed a little break from the essay and St. John’s.  When I looked on her page today and saw that she had gone to Minnesota it hit me like a freight train, “she went to see him.”

You don’t need to know who he is or any real back story, all you need to know is that finding out that she went to see him killed the happiness that I’d felt all week.  Driving back to the house was like a nightmare, “I’m going to be alone there” dominated my thought.  Getting home was paralyzing.  I could hardly do anything that I had planned.  I sat down to write but my mind was so distracted that everything I put down was crap, so I tried picking up a book but couldn’t focus on it; eventually I just sat and thought.  Finally I worked myself out of it, took a shower, got comfortable and relaxed with a book.  My mind cleared and I recovered my composure and will, but I cannot have that happen again.

I spend too much time wasting my thoughts and emotional energies on Facebook, anyway.  Feeling social through randomly placed comments really isn’t worth any amount of mental anxiety.  I’m pretty sure deleting Facebook will destroy the blog but I’ll keep writing posts for a couple of weeks and see if it’s still worthwhile.  Eventually, I may just quit doing posts everyday and post every so often when I have an insight about teaching that I want to share.

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Improvements

I’ve seen the change slowly wrought but there is a definite improvement in Hannah’s (once dubbed unfortunate girl) performance in class and general attitude.  I can honestly say that the students have all shown improvement in certain areas but Hannah has definitely shown the greatest improvement in all subjects, even in her class participation.

I’m not exactly sure what has spurred this change because things were still pretty bad near the end of last semester, though showing some improvement.  Tom, I think, took a new approach of flattery and constructive comments outside of class.  Really, the only thing I changed was how I dealt with her inside of class. When I call on her to answer a question I would tell everyone not to say a word and just wait until she works up the courage to say an answer.  Previously she would literally throw a fit and piss and moan until you either sent her out of class or just gave up on getting her to answer.  She wouldn’t even venture a guess.  Instead she would turn on you and blame of you being mean to her.  ‘If I don’t know then I don’t know! OK? So leave me alone!’  Seriously, it was terrible.  That gross display though has not been present at all this semester.  She’s even almost finished reading her first book this year.  All year she would start books and then turn on them and say how stupid they were and how boring reading is.  That’s her method, when she doesn’t feel confident doing something she becomes venomous towards it.  But Tom took her to Borders and helped her pick out a few books; (middle school level, but it’s a start) and she’s about finished the first one this week.  I also think her confidence has grown because the queen bee Lianna moved to Omaha.

Similar improvements have been seen in Mike and Andrew.  Not necessarily in their intelligence but in their attitudes. To begin, I think Tom’s been yelling less and therefore they’ve been more responsive and less mopey.  Outside of Tom calming down a bit I’ve found a subject to joke about with them, which literally puts them in wonderful moods: Andrew’s basketball games.

I found out two weeks ago that Andrew is playing on a select team in Waldorf, MD.  I instantly began joking that I was going to come to his games dressed real goofy and hold a sign cheering for him.  At first I was just joking, but I could definitely tell Andrew loved the idea because everyday for a week he would randomly bring it up, “you better not come to my game Mr. Simmons!”  This obviously meant that he wants me to come and embarrass him.  So I’ve covertly acquired his schedule from his mother and will be attending one of his games in the coming week.  He’ll never know what hit him.

As for the Smart Kid, well he’s hardly been here and when he is he is very smart and quickly absorbs the material but has little spunk.  I’ve also noticed he has very wrinkly hands, like an old man.

So, all in all I’m definitely enjoying school more this semester, I just hope that we can hold into this positive atmosphere we’ve created for the students and for my own sanity (I can’t stand yelling).  Really, we have to do as much as possible for their little egos because these are kids who need plenty of the teacher’s attention and next year they’ll be attending much larger high schools.

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Happiness (I know, it’s a common theme)

If you’ll recall I wrote a blog post at the beginning of the year about the elusive nature of happiness.  And while I still believe there isn’t a particular formula for happiness I don’t find it so elusive these days.  Maybe it’s because yesterday I finished applying to graduate school and a load of books came in the mail, on account of a gift-card.  I’m sorry but I can’t resist telling you about them. I got a book about culture in the antebellum south by George Fitzhugh.  I also recieved “The Education of Cyrus” by Xenophon and a surprisingly nice copy of “The Theory of The Leisure Class” by Thorstein Veblen.  I feel as if the world opened up and it gave me wonderful things to occupy myself with while I wait to hear about what I shall do next year.

I’ve gone through months oppressed by terrible uncertainties and mental struggles.  Now a stretch of time lies before me where I’ve gained some peace and I’m more than excited about all the time I have to read and write.  I’m not saying this is a sure path to happiness but I’m not so concerned with that at the moment.

I think there will always be periods where one must push through, keeping order and sanity.  Once through, life tastes sweet once again and you find such enjoyment in your own activity.  Hitherto, almost all my energy was spent propping up what little optimism I felt and trying to work out a future for myself.  I felt constantly burdened and weak.  Now free of those burdens I can undertake activities and little projects with absolute assurance that nothing pressing must be done and that whatever pains I currently feel will dissipate in the future.

Anyway, I feel as if my attempts, such as this one, to explain how I feel and why I feel that way constantly fail.  My inability to articulate this in a timely fashion is quite frustrating.  One always feels completely aware of his feelings; yet when it comes time to articulate them I am surprised by how obstinate words become in the formation of phrases that correctly express what I feel.

The first paragraph I am pleased with, especially the closing sentence.  But then I go and try to explain how I reached that point in the following paragraphs and am completely disenchanted by my own writing.

The best way to put it is:

things sucked, I worked really hard to make them not suck, and now they don’t so I’m really excited about the next coming months.  Having time and books without feeling other anxieties fills me with happiness.  Thankfully, I don’t have to sit alone in my room, with only silence and eternity because I hear that fills you with dread.

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Face Recognition

I’ve always thought I had particularly good face-recognition skills.  I’m pretty much amazing at it and am always the first one to recognize someone from before.  For instance, at one point this weekend I saw a guy in the subway I had seen at a party like two months ago.  I definitely freaked him out when I stated “I know you.”  At first he looked really freaked out and was shaking his head, until I blurted out “Carla Meyerhoffers,” which is where we met.  Then he knew who I was and we had a brief but cordial interaction.  He seemed like a fairly pretentious dude when I met him earlier and I’m pretty sure the entire interaction freaked him out a little.

Yesterday I stumbled upon an article about never forgetting a face and decided to try one of the online tests to gauge how I stacked up against the average test taker.  As it turns out I basically have amazing face recognition skills.  I scored a 64 out of 72 (88%).  You can take the test here.

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Sickly Kid

The Weekend

AAAnnnnd it’s Monday.  Nothing makes me happier than coming back to work.  Though, I’m resolved to keep up with my attempts to bring some humanity to their ninth grade minds.  (No, they are not yet real people.)

This weekend was fun, though.  At first Jake and I concluded that it was quite a downer, but all in all I would say that I had fun and feel good about this coming week.  We went into DC both nights, which I found a tiresome but fun.  It’s cool because slowly my Harrisonburg friends are making their way into DC, either to work in the city (yay James) or close enough to come into the city on weekends (yay Rachel).  Hopefully with DC being a closer spot for the three of us, and with Sarah’s boyfriend in DC, the Harrisonburg crowd will make their way north more often.

I’m also really excited to go down to Boone next weekend.  App State won’t know what hit it!  Although, I decided I’m not going to apply to their graduate school.  It just doesn’t seem like a good fit – at all.

Sickly Kid

The past couple of weeks have been troublesome because John, who I now dub ‘Sickly,’ has honestly been in and out of class consistently since Christmas break.  I think he’s gone a total of 5 whole days of school in over two weeks.  Partially, it’s because he probably was a bit ill.  But mostly it’s due to his perception of who he is, which is completely reinforced by his mother.  This absenteeism due to ‘illness’ was a problem first semester but we started to ride him about it and he got his act together.  Yet, even then it was absurd some of the illness’ his mother thought he had.  One morning he came in and was looking fairly pathetic, begging to be asked his favorite question, “are you ok?”  He responded, “No, I’m not feeling well.  My mom thinks I have meningitis.”  Are you kidding me?  You would be dead.

Last week he was sick 3 days.  Today he came into school and we asked how the weekend was and if he felt better.  He told us that he felt better because he got his antibiotics, that he had a nasal-infection last week.  That may be so, but I recognized no symptoms of a nasal infection.  Furthermore, he went on to add, “Now my back hurts, and my mom thinks I have a lung infection.”  A LUNG INFECTION?!  Are you kidding me?  What does that even mean and how could his mother diagnose a lung infection?  Been smoking the cigarettes John?  God, I would hate to see what tobacco did to him.  He’d probably be suffering from emphysema in a weeks time.

I just don’t know how to handle this situation.  What he obviously needs is to be told to buck up and quit whining.  Yet, so much of his problem his definitely his coddling mother.  You can’t go around telling your child that they are sick or you’ll convince them that they are.  Should the mother be confronted?  Can a teacher even give the student a hard time about the supposed illnesses?

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Today’s Protesters

Today my kids have complained because they didn’t get the day off to go to the “march for life.”  Now I went to that march once my freshman year of college and I honestly don’t think I’ll ever go to another “march” again.  Really, most shows of public protest are frivolous wastes of time and the protesters themselves are often unbearable people.  Seriously, look at yourself on the day of the protest; what do you do?

Well, you begin by shirking any responsibility you have that day.

Arriving at the protest you are likely to hear several unintelligent demagogues simply reinforcing what you already believe, and insulting your intelligence while they do it.

And maybe if you’re lucky there will be a second rate band to make you feel like you’re at a party so that you come back next time.

And don’t we all hate that self-righteous hippy/crazy-conservative who comes back afterwards full of self-satisfaction because they were “willing” to take time out of their busy schedules to support a cause.  Gag me.

“But Cole, this is just so important to me, I’m doing it for the babies!” Yea, I’m sure your actions that day saved those baby lives, fed someone in Haiti, progressed women’s rights in Iran and toppled the Venezuelan oil-dictatorship.  Or maybe you honestly think that because you will something for a day, thousands of miles away you make a difference.  If you care about the babies that much, become a lawyer, donate money and instead of taking the day to romp around DC, spend that time diligently at work.

I wonder how pissed the hippy-protesters-against-poverty would be if they tallied up all their contributions and then compared them to one rich philanthropist who never took a step in one of their parades.

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Weekend Plans

It’s Friday!  And you know what that means?  I get to have friends again!  But before I reveal my plans for this weekend, I have to relate to you a strange occurrence.  This morning I woke up with the jingle to the game “gator golf” stuck in my head.  How freaking strange is that?  Not to mention, annoying.

Anyway, this weekend Jake and I are going to college park to hang out.  At first we weren’t going to go because Paul has an employee party in DC (Paul works at the running store Pacers).  And I figured it would be weird if Jake and I went, and am not so keen on the employee party because the one I went to last year (when I worked at a running store) made me feel like crap.  But over a teleconference with Jake we unanimously concluded that we think running girls are cute girls and that we would simply have to crash this party.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  I’m pretty sure I’ll get there and want to leave.

You know, I feel fairly confident that my weekend plans must make a boring blog post.  But it’s the only time of week where I can say “Hey guys!  I have friends too!”  I mean seriously, what else would I say mid-week? “Hey guys!  Just headed home after work.  I may read a little Lord of The Rings or I may finish that essay by Allan Bloom.  Who knows?”

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