Suicidal Snowflakes

Just because I have a short attention span doesn\’t mean I…

Horray for lowering standards!

Seriously–I know there’s something wrong with the world. I got an invite to an honors society  based on my academic achievements. Wow, didn’t know they let people with B’s into those things.  Horray for lower standards! The fact that these things are by invite only upon the reccomendation of someone who’s already a member makes it seem even more unlikely that anyone would ever reccomend me. I keep a pretty low profile.  I’m a school ninja, if you will.  Must be some mistake.

December 29, 2006 Posted by | School | Leave a comment

Prose: the devil’s playground

Ok, teaching kids about prose isn’t that bad. But I’m a bit stumped. I have about a week to come up with a cool but short prose project for them. We did a miniature 4 paragraph “creative non-fiction” story. Setup, statement of problem, attempted resolution of problem, the end. Short, sweet and we did it in class, too.

So… I am going to have to broach the subject of structure a little more in-depth. I’ll make a handout! Everybody likes handouts. Only I’ll print them on colored paper, so they’re not dumb like school is dumb.

But… do I have them do another personal story, or have them start in on fiction? Fiction’s a whole nuther ball o’ wax with its own problems and issues. If so, what approach? I like to keep stuff small and managable so we can do it in one class, and so they have a semi-finished product by the end of the class.

Also need a few short poem/prose readings for the class. I’ve hit the Neil Gaiman two weeks in a row and I don’t want to be like that one teacher I had for criticism that was obsessed with Walt Whittman (it was like some kind of disturbing fetish.  The only thing I can liken it to is nechrophelia, but with an early 20th century writer’s work)  I think I want to focus on poetic-esque (like, just non-clinical! The kids’re cute, but they’re a little clinical sometimes) description, since we’re sort of only hitting this in a round-about way (I may come back to it once we have something to edit.

Ooh. I’m only going to see them one more time before Nov. 1st, probably, unless we do a seperate session for NaNoWriMo. Gotta broach the subject of constructive criticism as well. If I can figure out if they’re reading the blog or not (haha) then maybe I can slip some of that stuff in there.

Only thing I have to say is… these kids’re awesome. They’ve got a lot of talent and interest. If I could get them to be a little less shy, it’d be perfect. And a few more kids wouldn’t hurt either. As long as they’re at least half as awesome as my core group.

October 6, 2006 Posted by | School, Wordy | Leave a comment

Horray for low standards!

You know how grad school works:  A=overachiever, B=marginal effort C=pack your bags and go home.  I got a B in one class that I worked *really* hard in, but just had a horrible time with the material.  It wasn’t tough, I just couldn’t seem to spit it back out in a timely manner on the assignments… my assignments always looked like I didn’t get it.  The other class I got a B+, and I’m like… aw, man. I coulda slacked off WAY MORE in that one!

I’m just too tired to really care about A’s.  I was sad when my 4.0 went bye byes.  But now that that dream of straight A’s is crushed, I kinda don’t care, just as long as I don’t get tossed outta grad school.

Mostly… I just need a nap.

August 9, 2006 Posted by | School | Leave a comment

HELP! DROWNING IN HOMEWORK!!

Last assignment.  Not quite sure I’m going to survive it.  12 hrs, 15 pages… very little in the way of research done.

August 1, 2006 Posted by | School | Leave a comment

School hurts.

School hurts us, precious.  I’m SO tired.  SOOOO tired. So tired I’m drinking Red Bull which is the second nastiest thing on earth.  *shudder*.  I stayed up FOREVER working on this project last night that I couldn’t. Freaking. Get. To. Work. Now the stupid thing’s late. And I was working so hard on that, I didn’t get the two other things due done. Did one of them during lunch for a 1pm presentation.  Good times.  Of course that means I didn’t eat. You didn’t think I do that regularly any more, do you? Then I got home and found my breakfast on the counter with one bite taken out of it.  Ooy. Anyways. My homework.  Hate it. Backed up on it, again. Will never dig myself out.  2 hrs sleep, brain is melting.  The end.

July 22, 2006 Posted by | School | Leave a comment

Totally not getting my homework done.

I’ve decided to lie to myself and tell myself that I’m just waiting for the Adderol to kick in. Better living through pharmicology.  Actually, booze helps me abstract, and thats what’s been missing from this whole long, drawn out and tortured process of writing six lousy abstracts for four lousy articles.  SWEAR. Getting it done tonight (Aww, who the hell am I kidding).

Anyways… what inspired this avoidance?? Well, trying to explain to Full-Bodied Joel just what fun he missed by not coming to my house.  It’s such a long tale.

Lets begin this little event here with a sub-diatribe.  Yes, my rants have mini rants imbedded in them.  And then rants in the footnotes of my rants as well.  It’s like trying to divide something in half until there’s nothing left. It can’t be done.

Anyhow. The sub-diatribe.

We celebrate the founding of our country, the sacrifice of our forefathers and the sacrifice of our military (I’m thinkin’ Independance Day, Memorial Day, kinda-sorta Labor Day) by killing animals and roasting them over an open flame whilst we drink beer, wear  shorts that look unnatural on us and server to do nothing other than accentuate the pastiness of our seldom-bared legs.  We get together with friends and family, watch some fireworks, maybe a parade, but mostly it’s beer and bbq sauce and animal flesh.  Not a whole lot of talk about the foundation of our country, the sacrifices that have been made or the nature of freedom.  We’ve kind of gotten away from using the holiday as a time to reflect on why the bank’s freaking closed today.

Why’s the bank closed today? Because today we eat animals and blow things up (which is good and righteous in the eyes of the Lord–the blowing up thing…eating animals is too, but God likes to watch stuff explode.  Like that one time on Myth Busters, with the cement truck which would have only been more awesome if they’d have shot it with high speed film instead of their crappy tv cameras.  God likes to watch stuff blow up. For real), in celebration of our independance from the only country we still like (to quote whichever one of Glenn’s producers that came up with that clever little CG).   It’s completely true.

So while I was poking the coals in my habachi (I can’t wait to get out of grad school and get a house and get a real freaking grill), I contemplated our freedom to watch Brittan’s way better TV, like the original version of Coupling and Dr Who (whom I [heart] in a special way, oodles of noodles), I got an instant message from my sister.

See, we’re getting back into my real diatribe, which is my crazy freaking family, which I’m going to write a book about.  For real. And make money off of.  Dear God… I DESERVE to make money off of this kind of insanity. If nothing else to pay the therapy bills.

So. She says that my grandfather called from MD just to “let us know” that Nana fell on the floor and Ralph was at a party, so she was going to stay on the floor until Ralph came home.  OK.  Where do we start?

1) They’ve been there for three days, and he’s already in trouble. Betcha he wishes he’d have stayed close, where he had two kids that’d come at his beck and call and another annoying kid whom I blessidly am no longer obligated to speak to, now that I’m not seeing her over my grandparents’ house all the time.

2) You’re so senile and nuts.  I mean, he was always nuts, but the senility is a new twist. Instead of calling Ralph’s cell phone (and I knows he’s gots one, working where he works), which he MUST have been given the phone number to, he calls US.  I’m so glad you’re  thinking clearly in this time of crisis.

3) I betcha he expects one of us to hop in the car and drive 4 hrs down there to help him lift Nana off the floor.  He’s nuts like that, and he’s got all this weird obligation type behavior he attaches to things.

4) Call a freaking ambulance.  Don’t just let her lay on the floor for God knows how many hours until Ralph and Hilde get home.

5) Betcha part of the reason why he called is because he’s been down there THREE FREAKING DAYS and mom hasn’t called him.

a) sub diatribe time:  sincerest apologies to my husband who complains when I say “someone” needs to do something, then I yell at him for not doing it. I suddenly realized what was wrong with this picture when, on Sunday night, mom got a bit nasty and said “SOMEBODY” needs to call your grandfather and make sure they got settled in OK.  Someone meaning me, since I’m the only one that has long distance.   Of course, I’m just expected to magically do this, even though I don’t have their number, or the time, and it’s 1:30 in the morning and I have to be at work at 8am.

Ok, back to the main rant:

I’m talking to Mary over AIM some more.  Pipes in the kitchen burst, dad’s over the house fixing the sink.  My parents haven’t mastered this whole being divorced thing. If the other person makes you angry and pisses you off so much you’re divorcing them, just don’t spend time with them.  It’s that simple.  It saves us having to listen to all of your bloviating.

Bloviation… we have a few quiet moments, then Mary informs me that mom’s psycho.  Like I didn’t know.  She says she just found out that my grandmother fell and my grandfather is leaving her on the floor (doesn’t this just have the bitter tang of insanity/SweetTarts?).  So she flips out and panics.  Mary says yes, yes, we all knew this.  I don’t know who called whom, but she ended up on the phone with my grandfather, screaming at him and saying she hoped he died over and over.  She gets off the phone with my grandfather and is throwing things at my dad screaming about how she’s going to poison him and all this stuff.

…So, no idea what happened after that, but an hour or so later, Mary and Jenn show up.  I guess they were fleeing the insanity.

Betcha my brother’s really freaking happy that he worked open/close yesterday for the holiday.

*sigh*

Can’t we just put a freaking moritorium on acting crazy?? You can BE crazy without ACTING crazy.  I’m sure of it. I’ve managed it for YEARS.   Which is tough with all the complexes these people have given me.

And what the hell is with being ESPECIALLY crazy on holidays?? My mom has ALWAYS done this.  She gets angry and screams constantly and throws things on holidays.  It’s like clockwork… the day before she gets panicy and yells and screams at everyone to clean up.  Then the day of, when you have things under control, she starts interfering and messing things up, and picking fights with people intentionally.  Or if things’re under control, but the house isn’t perfect, she starts screaming about THAT all over again, and making everyone a nervous wreck.  She’s always so angry and shook up that she can’t even HELP, all she does is scream at everyone else to get it done.  I’ve tried liquering her up first, to no effect.  I’m thinking of braking open a few benadryl and slipping ’em into her coffee first thing in the morning or something.

Doesn’t it ever get boring, being an angry violent screamer? Doesn’t the paranoia laced with martyrdom ever get old?

July 5, 2006 Posted by | Family & Friends, School, Unwashed Masses | 1 Comment

If ya wanna learn, go to the library

Yeah, that kind of encompasses my primary education experience.  My teachers were just shy of useless most of the time.  Either they were speaking some language I didn't understand like the math teachers (they understand math, and so they explain math the way they understand it, but have no idea how to teach math to people who don't speak numbers) or they were being so banal I'd have rather stabbed myself  in the eyeball with my #2 pencil than go to school and sit there for 80 minutes.  

…seperate diatribe… my school district thought it'd be fun to do 4 80 minute classes a day and do the classes in two seperate terms because it's "more like college." 1) not everyone's going to college 2) in college classes are only 2 or 3 days a week for that long, and 3) those teachers actually gave BREAKS if the class was over an hr long. They suck. Anyways…

If I ever had a teacher that made something understandable and interesting and challenging all at the same time, I figured that I was doing it all wrong, or I was committing some kind of mortal sin or had some character flaw for enjoying said class, and hating a class that I didn't understand. My teachers would always tell us that even if we hated a subject we still had to do our "best," because we won't like everything in life.  Which really messed with my head. I never actually thought going into a field that I LIKED and excelled at, because that felt like cheating to me.  No one told me it was OK to be good at some things and not good at others, and to have an interest in things you like outside of school, and to actually persue said interests.

I felt like I should be using that time to pick up the slack in the courses I wasn't good in.  Even though I'd try to teach myself, but just couldn't figure it out.  Despite all that crap teachers tell you about "being in charge of your own education," and "taking initiative," and "trying harder" which is another rant for another time.  I was SO tired of being told to work harder  in subjects I just didn't get, like math and German. I used to wonder why, if we were suposed to "be in charge of our own education" and "take initiative," they even bothered sending us to school.  Why not just teach us how to read, and lock us in a library until we were 18?? Because they acted as if a failure to learn was ALWAYS a failure on the part of the student.  

It took me YEARS to come to terms with a few things.   First of all… Failure isn't always the student's fault.  Students may have an actual reason, beyond laziness (thanks mom, for pounding the "you're so damned lazy," thing into my head for years and years). My ADD and lysdexia (hehe) were written off as laziness by my parents AND my teachers for YEARS. I can't believe I got through undergrad with as bad as my ADD and depression were.  There were times when I was practically incapacitated with it, but I'd chastize myself for my own failings as a human being, for not wanting to do homework, or having trouble concentrating on/forcing myself to do/remembering to do it, etc etc.
I'm not really bitter about being one of those kids that slipped through the cracks.  I've had a long time to get over it and come to terms with it.  Sometimes it annoys me, though.  And it annoys me that it's happening to other kids.  

Sometimes a student's inability to learn the material is associated with the teacher's inability to teach.  Whenever I expressed that I wasn't understanding it, or that I didn't like the teacher's methods, I was told the whole line about being in charge of my own learning and spending more time with the material, doing extra exercises, etc.  Great. I'm going to work harder and do things I dont understand, and do them probably wrong, because I can't figure them out, because I didn't get it.  

Then there's the whole stupid bit that your teachers tell you, ask questions if you don't understand.  Sometimes, you don't understand what you dont understand enough to formulate a quesiton. All you know is that all the numbers on the board look like a foriegn language that you have NO translation key for.  Then they ask you what you don't understand when you're like… "i don't get it," and they get mad that you can't pinpoint one thing you don't understand.  You say "all of it," and then they explain it again, slowly, using the same exact words they used before.  And you say you still don't get it, so they explain it five or six more times in the same way, getting angrier and angrier that you dont get it.  So finally, you say yeah, I get it now, and go back to feeling like a retard because you don't understand what the hell you're supposed to be doing with the Sine and Cosine and all that crap.Because it's all YOUR FAULT. For not TRYING HARD ENOUGH. 

(Not sure why I'm having painful Junior high flashbacks today, sorry)

Oh and my favorite… when you askthe teacher to explain it to you, and they explain it, you say you don't understand still, and she says "I don't understand what you don't understand." Yeah. I know.  Because it's incomprehensable that someone not understand math exactly the way you do… that there are people in the world who's brains are wired differently and need a different approach.  

Mostly i suffered from about… 8 to 10 years worth of teachers incapable of taking another approach.  I did have one teacher (who's now an administrator, surprise surprise) who wasn't that great of a teacher, truth be told.  I never quite "got" the whole German thing.  Giving people a list of vocabulary words to memorize and teaching them isolated basic sentences in a foriegn language, then test you on this feat of memorization without meaning is a method that really isn't effective, but we keep doing it.   So anyways, I wasn't doing well in the class, but hey, if it's just one or two kids, they're just the "dumb" kids, or the kids that don't try hard enough… but one time EVERYBODY failed the test.  So he actually retaught the unit.  He said if one or two of us failed, then it was just on us to study harder.  But if everyone failed, then he'd failed to teach us properly.  Of course, I'd never really had a teacher who'd TAUGHT anything before, other than just vomiting what was in the book at us, and trying to get us to repeat it ad nauseum, even in English class, so I wasn't sure what "teaching" was actually involved, and how some teacher had actually failed… but ok, that's nice of him to take the blame. 

I spent a lot of time in libraries as a kid, usually not doing the homework that was due.  I'd be hiding from the kids that tormented me relentlessly back in the furthest stack I could find, reading whatever had a shiny cover and caught my interest.  One day after school, I was supposed to stay for some activity, but was being picked on, so I up and left, and stayed in the library until my dad finally got around to picking me up,  reading a book on archeological method. Sounds REALLY boring, but it must have been interesting at the time, I got half way through it.  I found out way more about grants and the whole funding process than any 16 yr old would ever care to know.  It was like 9pm before my dad came, and I even got to the part about digging up pompeii and other cool stuff this guy worked on.  Sometimes I tried to read other stuff, like this *really* boring Jane Austin-esque reigency era romance novel written by some stuffy dude with two middle names, under the auspice that it was "good for me," and I'd eventually "fail," as I saw it, and be all upset with myself for not being "scholarly" enough… or something.  I don't know what type of thing I expected from myself in high school or college, but I seldom lived up to my own expectations. 
And God forbid I have fun outside of school. I can thank my mother for that one. That is possiby another diatribe for another day.. But basically, feel guilty if you're at home and not cleaning or "doing something for mom," children get no relaxation.  If mom asks you to do something if and when you finally decide to start your homework on your own, stop what you're doing and help her make dinner, etc.  Then clean up afterwords.  It doesn't matter if you're tired.  Then, at like 9 or 10 pm, go do your homework.  Not a lot of homework has ever gotten done in my mom's house.  Part of it is because she never directed us to.  Mostly it was just screaming at us the next day, or when she saw our grades that we were stupid lazy sons of bitches that couldn't even write their spelling words ten times each.  ALWAYS have to be doing something, especially something for someone else.  Experience extreme guilt if you do something "necessary" for yourself like homework, just kill yourself from guilt if you do something "gratuitous" like have fun, relax or take a nap.  Structured, balanced family life, not my mom's strong suit.  I STILL have trouble unlaxing to this day. Thanks mom.

It wasn't like my teachers were great teachers, and it wasn't like mom instilled a love of learning into us–mostly a fear of failure, which translates into a fear of trying and the intrinsic knowledge of our own laziness and stupidity. Mostly I'm just a fortunate soul that was able to overcompensate with good reading skills (been practicing since I was 4) and an affinity for hiding in the library and reading random things.  I can completely understand why some other folks haven't been able to at least trudge along like that in life.  

I'll never know how I've gotten along until my one or two good teachers in college and grad school (which has been at least pretty full of good teachers), especially with no support, no self-esteem, no formal knowledge base (basically I passed time in school. any learning that actually transpired was purely coincidental) and bucket loads of depression and ADD. Thank God for libraries, then, I guess.  Of course, libraries can tell you what to think, and what to think about, but teachers teach you HOW to think.  I guess when it comes down to it, it's a fluke I've survived this far in life/academia. 

So, what's gotten me on THIS little diatribe? Totally random chain of events.  I was reading a blog entry by Mimi Smartypants, about her fear of the hippy moms and homeschoolers (funny stuff, really).  I've been thinking to myself that I'm smarter than most of the teachers I had in high school, and I'm USED to teaching people things in different ways in my job (if they dont understand what I'm saying one way, I have to think up a new way to explain it, until they DO get it). I could help any potential kids I had get through their school work without all that tedious lining up and the teacher telling the kids to be quiet for 20 minutes at the start of class.  They wouldn't get beat up like I did, and if they got picked on, it would only be a few hours a day during activities, instead of the endless constant harassment by nearly ALL my classmates for my entire experience in 1-12.  I could expose them to other points of view and other cultures in an actual learning context, which might actual provide some perspective, versus the usual white guilt thing. Sure they'd have to learn about that too, in order to be well-rounded, but I'd argue kids are so bombarded with it, that no other perspectives get through (public schools can be just as close-minded as the homeschooling parents that don't want to expose their kids to other points of view).  I'm intellegent.  I'm working on my third piece of sheep skin, I actually have some educational background, why the hell COULDN'T I do a better job than the teachers like mine, who never noticed me other than to tell me I wasn't trying enough, and never even got to know me enough to notice that there were problems at home and that I had learning difficulties.

Sure I could be a horrible teacher and give my kid(s) a billion neuroses that they'll haveta see a therapist for as soon as they turn 18, but that's just parenthood in general. And at least I wouldn't make those 42 billion mistakes with my kid that the educational system made with me. I'd pay attention, and I'd give a damn. 

So then we come back to me dwellling upon just how much that whole 13 year period of k-12 sucked and how college sucked for its own unique reasons, which are two things I haven't thought of in quite a while.  So then we end up with this really long, bitchy, self indulgent manifesto of how the world was mean to me.

Oh well, whatever.  I'm graduating in a year and it's on to bigger and better things.  

May 12, 2006 Posted by | School | Leave a comment

Dicipline? Grad school can do that?

Dude… if that were true, I'd not be a zilliondy billiondy weeks behind in my one class.  Ok, well one of those weeks behind isn't my fault.  Maybe the teacher will cut me slack on that one since I can't do the pro ject without access to make changes to this server, which he keeps saying he's giving me but never materializes.  And the other class I'm only 4 days behind in (wooh hooh). 

April 25, 2006 Posted by | School | Leave a comment

Nerdgasm

I was listening to the lecture for one of my classes and the teacher mentioned that all religious art from the middle ages looks the same because it's a form of authority control.  All the icons of St. George with the dragon or St. Ann with the child Mary MUST look identical because it's the only way to have a "controlled" (read common) vocabulary in a mostly illiterate world.  Man, people couldn't organize a library to save their lives in the middle ages,  dang, we were still trying to classify and bring order to the world.  

If television is my anti-drug, then I must say,  indexing and abstracting is my crack.  This whole library science thing is breaking my nerd, i'm nerding so hard sometimes.  

April 13, 2006 Posted by | Ninjas, Random & Miscellany, Religion, School | Leave a comment

Typo-tacular.

I spent a record 6 hrs messing around with my homework assignment, trying to figure out why one of my thingies wasn't working.  After I spent five and a half hours dinking with it, a friend told me that I had misspelt a single tag and had effectively rammed the splintery broom handle of CSS right up my own butt.  

Ok, fix my happy little typo of lysdexia.  Now why doesn't it work?

Remember all that ripping out? Yeah, you guessed it.  In my effort to fix something that was only barely broken to begin with, I ended up busticating it worse than anything.  

Anyways, that's like 7 hrs of my life I'll never get back.  

April 5, 2006 Posted by | School | Leave a comment