SOL 22 March 2017

Few things in life can bring as much dread as the idea of visiting the dentist. My teeth phobia doesn’t help either. I’ve had the strangest dreams where my teeth all start falling out. I’m sitting eating spaghetti and then chomp down on something hard and it’s a tooth. And then there’s another and two more. Or the situation changes where I’m just talking to someone and then one, two, four teeth just start coming out. It isn’t painful, but I wake up completely freaked out. So going to the dentist, even just for my six-month cleaning, increases my anxiety. 

The experience today was typical. However, I noticed how off the wall some of my thinking can get when at the dentist. For example, the chair is comfortable, but in my prone position it is so awkward. Staring at the ceiling that is bare seems a huge oversight by the designers. I suggest some calming images for meditation purposes. You can pretend to be elsewhere while a lady is all up in your grill, literally. For kids, you can’t go wrong with Disney. If the dentist wants to be adventurous, a television where the patient can pick the channel. The hygienist would just be careful not to get in the way. Of course, a television mount of the highest caliber would be necessary for death by tv while at the dentist would just be a humiliating way to go. 

I also suggest a liberal coating of Chapstick or an equivalent for the lips. Nothing dries mine out faster than going ahhhh for minutes at a time. It would also aid the hygienist while slipping and sliding around the mouth to have a nice glide along the lips instead of rough friction because of the dryness. 

Then there is the issue of the tongue. I feel there should be some training on what to do with it while fingers and various tools are all clambering for space. Space that rightfully belongs to the tongue. Food gets a moment or two inside but then it goes on its merry way done the esophagus, so the tongue isn’t confused on what to do or where to be with such a visitor. But at the dentist, the tongue is introduced to begrudgingly accepted guests that stick around for way too long. I go with the avoidance tactic. My tongue treats the invaders as if they have the plague and races around my mouth to stay as far away as possible, but there is only so far one can go to get away in there. 

Without proper training, I’m wondering how other people deal with this situation. Can one just have the tongue pressed along the bottom of the mouth the whole time come what may? Is my tactic acceptable? Am I offending my hygienist and she’s just too polite to point it out? Are there other options I haven’t considered? I wonder if anyone has ever licked her finger before? Oh, how gross! Perverted anyway. Who licks some stranger’s finger? But there are all kinds in this world, and I bet someone has licked a hygienist’s fingers before while doing his/her job. 

Then I started to take pity on my hygienist. What I must look like from her point of view! I really hope my breath was okay. I did a wet toothbrush run through before going but didn’t want to be obvious by using toothpaste or mouthwash. Why do I feel like that would be cheating? To only be able to talk to people while you’re not doing your job must get frustrating. For when you’re working, they can’t talk back.

Time is relative in a dentist’s chair and though it felt like forever, it was relatively short. I was asked my favorite color, purple (duh), and given a purple toothbrush, a trial size of toothpaste, a trial size of floss, and an appointment approximately six months from now. The supplies won’t last me till we meet again, but it’s nice that they try. The hygienist said in farewell, “See you later.” Hopefully, later will be six months. 

SOL 21 March 2017

“I have become death, destroyer of worlds.”

Though I haven’t created anything as deadly as the atomic bomb, I am capable of great destruction. How might you ask? Simple. I start liking a television show and before you know it, kaboom! It gets canceled. I destroyed the epically awesome-sauce that was Firefly. For Browncoats (fans of the show), the Fox Network is synonymous with evil incarnate on this earth for canceling this show, but I’m sure I unwittingly helped. If you don’t know this show, I pity you and envy your niavete. How sweet your life must be to not know the despair of not getting a second season. (Though I have heard whispers and my heart flutters of talks about Netflix resuscitating life into the show.)

I also enjoyed The Sentinal. Barely got three seasons. A detective who can sense with his senses more than others and needs a guide to help him not lose himself in those hyper senses. Lovely brothership. Why, Lord? Why must I ruin that which I love with my love?

You might think I’m being melodramatic. But there is just too much evidence to the contrary. SeaQuest– three seasons. Underwater adventures set in the future. Started off with lots of applicable science, some environmental awareness, went a little more sci-fi, and then death. Another detective show, Due South– three seasons. A mountie and a Chicago cop. Great chemistry. Everyone loves cop shows and this one didn’t have any science fiction fantasy element. Gonna make it this time. I felt safe in enjoying the show, creating ties to characters, and then iceberg ahead. Collision. Cancelled.

Carnivale– two seasons; Deadwood– two seasons; Earth 2– one season; A Gifted Man; The Dresden Files; Alien Nation; Zero Hour; Almost Human; Raising Hope; Jeremiah; The Neighbors— I could keep going. But I think you get the point. My tastes are eclectic. No single genre is safe from my grim reaper side effects.

So I warn you. If a show you enjoy all of a sudden for no explicable reason gets canceled. I probably liked it too. My apologies.

SOL 20 March 2017

My job exposes me to a myriad of expressions of another generation. Their turns of phrase sometimes annoy, sometimes delight me. Right now the expression that something is “lit” has been slowly driving me insane. Everything is lit now. Instead of cool or awesome or exciting or stupendous, I hear that it is lit. Lit is an abbreviation for literature. So I don’t think I’m ever going to describe something in this manner. But this too shall pass. In my area, YOLO is finally dying out. (You Only Live Once for those who might not know.) Thank all the powers that be. I did come up with a replacement: YODO- you only die once. It never caught on. 🙂

Some are still holding on to the spasmodic dabbin’. The first time I saw a teenager do this I thought something bad was happening to them. Some were using the dab as a silent way to say something was lit. An alternative sign language if you will. I thought it was the beginning of an epileptic fit. I am so uncool.

But over the years I’ve started a small collection of phrases some children have said in my vicinity that I found worthy of writing down. Now, these aren’t the kind that were shared by the group in mass like the above mentioned “lit.” These occurred during conversations I overheard or were even a part of. A few are just parts of a conversation heard while students passed my door in the hallway. One sentence heard out of context can spur all kinds of thoughts and suppositions.

Here are some of my favorites:

“I’m gonna kick your head in with my face.”- the visual is inspiring

“If I’m not in school, I don’t use my brain.” – I believe this child is not alone in this, and this isn’t just a description for my lovely teenagers.

“You bought my love with a sausage biscuit.” – priceless

“My shoe is untied, and I’m highly upset about it.” – so delicate and sensitive

“I know English, but I don’t do English.” – an excuse given to me on why he was failing my class

“We’re just talking about our future sociopathic lovers.” – this still disturbs me

“Don’t let nothing ruin your sparkle.” – Overlooking the double negative, I like its positivity.

I’m always on the look out for more. Some could be worthy of writing an entire journal entry around. If you’d like, share some you have heard.

 

SOL 19 March 2017

Sleep is my friend. Sleep is my nemesis. Sometimes I feel as if I am in a constant state of exhaustion. It matters not how much sleep I get. Well, it matters but there never seems to be enough of it.

I am what others affectionately call a night owl. I can battle being tired during the day, but when it gets dark, I get a boost of energy. Wide awake when others I know have been asleep for hours, and I also do mad math skills at night. I frequently take a glance at a clock calculating how few hours of sleep I’ll have for the next work day if I go to sleep right now. And then I do updates later and later.

Then there are those nights of pure torment where I wake up almost hourly. Check the clock to see if I’ve gotten as little sleep as it feels I have. Yep. Then the anger at myself. Why can’t I sleep? Why are my circadian rhythms so far off the norm? It makes having a day job that much more of a chore. If only I could find a night school to teach at. What a lovely dream.

Not too long ago, a school in an area county was deemed unsafe after snow had caved in too much of the roof in sections. In order to go to school, the high schoolers had evening classes at the elementary school after the little ones went home. I envied the work hours.

Two-hour delays have become sweet gifts from Mother Nature. But they have been few and far between this winter. Like an addict trying to come clean, I’m having withdrawal symptoms. But my sleep patterns stay outside any pattern regardless. Picasso could maybe create a visual but few else would be able to tackle it.

So what do I do? Well, I’ve done the readings. Tried all the hokum out there. Love the scent of lavender. Yes, it is restful but doesn’t zone me out. Nice dark room, check. White noise generator, check. Going to bed at the same hour, well, I’ve given that a try. Tried for two weeks. I just got real friendly with the ceiling. He’s been lonely. But no effect on my sleep. There has been melatonin pills and other medicinals, but some with no effect or with too much in the morning. Alas, I’m doomed.

But the absolute worst is going to work in the mornings and being greeted by my antithesis. The morning people. Those chipper individuals who got plenty of zzzs and are bright eyed and bushy tailed for the newly minted day. Bah, humbug! Good morning is the greeting with smiles that hurt my eyes from the light bouncing off those pearly whites. I mumble a “morning” back. This is a confirmation that it is indeed morning. It cannot however be a good morning because I’m conscious and the two are mutually exclusive. I have more in common with alien invaders than I do morning people. Or I know I will if they’d just come already. I’ve been waiting on a good invasion for a while. Or at least an abduction. Maybe then I could sleep.

SOL 18 March 2017

I’m an English teacher. I fit some of the cliches such as loving to read and loving to write. Though I’m most fond of American literature, I must like Shakespeare. It’s like it’s part of my DNA. I’m not allowed to not like him. I’ve come to accept this about myself.

Sometimes I have to confront some parts of stereotypes that surround my specifically chosen profession. Students love to jump on my use of “ain’t” in particular. Then they get the mini lecture on colloquial language and diction choices to fit the situation such as an informal conversation. Because as an English teacher, I am expected to use proper grammar at all times. Argh!

Then there are my reading selections, even those done outside of my educational role. I have been known to pick up a classic now and then for my own edification. Some books I feel some teacher or professor should have made me read in the course of my own education yet somehow didn’t are on a list to read. This is how I finally read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Now, if someone saw me reading this today, they’d probably nod their heads thinking how this is fine and proper of an English teacher. But I have a secret pleasure that flies in the face of this.

I have found myself reading… paranormal romance. Gasp! Shock! The horror!

I’m addicted to the strange naturally. Science fiction and fantasy are my fave genres. I’ve even taught a sci-fi literature class for the first time last semester. Or as I like to call it, heaven. My colleagues are beginning to get use to my oddities that don’t fit the normal mold they have of an English teacher. So liking stories with vampires and werewolves isn’t a stretch in anyway for me. It’s the romance part that I have to come to grips with.

The romance genre has usually been my kriptonite. When I was younger, like fourteen or fifteen, my grandmother gave me two paper bags full of romance books, mainly Danielle Steel. Grandma loved soup operas and romance books. Knowing I was addicted to the written word, she shared her love with me. Something we could have in common. I read a few and soon saw the repetition. There was nothing exciting. You always knew how it was going to go. Two people hate each other and yet can’t deny their pull towards the other. It was either this or a variation. It was always the same. I never had the heart to tell grandma that it just wasn’t for me.

And now here I am, years later reading romance. Grandma must be looking down and smiling. It only took another twenty-ish years. But these aren’t the books I discuss with my book loving friends or that I’d take out and read in public. My guilty pleasure, so very un-English teacher of me.

Oh, well. I’ve got a book to read.

SOL 17 March 2017

Today my school celebrated pi day. We missed school due to weather on the fourteenth but the math department wanted to be sure to celebrate it anyway and did so today. This gave me the excuse to make my kids write a piem.

I only learned about these last year and I love the challenge of them. Students write a poem on any subject but have to use pi to dictate the number of letters in each word. That has to follow pi. So as pi is 3.14, the first three words could be “why a tree” which was the first line of my poem. Unfortunately, I left my poem at school so I’ll update this post with my sample.

I wrote pi on the board out to the twentieth digit. This is what I set as the minimum. Students could look up pi if they wanted to go past this.

Oh, the groans were music to my ears. There were prayers to higher powers and various deities, but most tackled it. Some found it an interesting challenge; others found it an impossible task; still others got into it as the initial shock wore off. I personally loved the few times someone had a mental explosion when certain words came together just right.

Overall, it wasn’t too shabby of a day. 😁

 

Update: Here’s the piem I created.

Why a tree?

O above!

Greatness is leaves

cover the world

heavenly,

concisely falling

decorates

red on air

dripping love

 

SOL 16 March 2017

image

Have you ever awoken from a dream that followed you into the waking world? I’m talking more than having that falling dream and you awake landing in your bed or trip awake expecting to hit the floor. Also more than those emotions you experienced in the dream coloring your morning with anxiety, anger, or joy.

I was away at a conference, excited to learn new ideas for my classroom and meet new people as obsessed with teaching English as myself. This excitement contributed to a restless night. Sleep was allusive and time moved slowly.

With persistence and a white noise generator app, I finally caught some zzzs. However my dreams were anything but calming. I was lost and confused. People around me seemed to fade in and out of existence around me, and I kept trying to get back to somewhere safe when I saw it. A shadow, darker than the night surrounding us. At first an illusion, like seeing faces in the grains of a piece of wood or swirling in your coffee as the milk goes in. But then it moved, gracefully and fluid like water over glass towards me, reaching out….

On the hotel bed, I gasped and let out a sigh as I realized it was just a dream. I angled my body up on my elbow to turn over and there it was, creeping over from the edge of my bed, across the comforter towards me. I cringed back and flipped on the nightstand light to find nothing; however, my heartbeat took a while to believe what my eyes said was true.

I was alone. Safe. After some cold water and an inconspicuous search of the room, I returned to bed, but not before cracking the curtains a tad for some harbor lights to illuminate my surroundings. Just in case you understand that my dreams decided to come with me again.

SOL 15 March 2017

Same story

different night

blood has spilled

and I can’t comprehend why.

Children are scarred

outside and in

from war that has lasted

longer than some of them have lived.

Images cross my screen each night

of rubble and ruin

of panic and pain

unending is this terror’s reign.

My senses disgusted

my heart in twain

souls screaming across oceans

but all in vain.

No voices speak reason

no ears open wide

their pain is evident

to even the blind.

A cost too weighty

for such little frames

a generation lost

when politics is king.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOL 14 March 2017

Advertisements have done their work and I struggle under their oppression. Every time I go to the grocery store my choices become battles within my psyche. Brand name or store name.

Now when it comes to my prescription drugs, no problem. Generic every time. Food products on the other hand are totally different. Sometimes I’ll go the cheaper route and be pleasantly surprised at a good product. Other times I get angry at the money I throw away as the generic product isn’t even a pale imitation of what I wanted but instead a complete fraud. But my ragu sauce, I mean spaghetti sauce, is always Ragu. Like what you will, but don’t mess with my ragu sauce. Nothing else will do.

When I was a know-it-all teenager, I got in an argument with my mother. Father was out on the road making the money for our survival in a big rig. One night she made spaghetti, a staple in our household as we are part Italian. I took a bite and felt betrayal. This wasn’t right. It was a sense stronger than the force. My taste buds screamed at this unwarranted onslaught. I went looking for justice so to momma I went. When I told her that one of my favorite meals tasted wrong, she confessed. She had tried to save some money. She had bought…Campbell’s spaghetti sauce and to add insult to injury, it was from a can!

How could my mother do this to me? I thought she loved me! But alas she did the unthinkable, trying to stick to a budget while raising three girls. This insight only came later as maturity grew, but at the time no logic was in sight. She said it tasted the same and I said her taste buds must be malfunctioning. She would have never done this to dad. When I told her this, she admitted it. How unfair I thought life was at the time. I refused to eat dinner and we got into that fight I mentioned.

It was petty but she never tried to make me eat that sorry excuse for spaghetti sauce again. As an adult, I have gathered up courage once or twice to try different brands of spaghetti sauce, but they are always found wanting. I am conditioned and I see no freedom in sight. But at least I’ll always have good spaghetti dinners.

 

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