Thursday, March 10, 2011


First of all, JYANKEE! Send up a flare as soon as possible, please! Iwata/Shitzuoka is south, but still coastal. Your fans will be waiting to hear that all the Beans are OK.

The last few days have been sooooo busy. You know how I was going to conquer all my paperwork? OK: "Uncle". That was the plan, and you know how I love a plan. However, the plan has joined my heart: they are both AWOL. That's OK, I'll punt. Some lists for our amusement:

Junk piled on my nightstand (a real cross-section of my life just now):

kids' school photos;

Scrap of paper where I have jotted down a bunch of places I'd like to visit someday;

Lego Club membership form;

"Runner's World" magazine;

"Paradise", by Toni Morrison;

"Running 101";

Letter from Evelyn Jahnke, elderly family friend from Markesan;

"Justice" catalog;

"Shambahala Sun" magazine for Sara, who is still fascinated by Buddhism;

list of puns;

Index cards with different weight-lifting routines on them;

flier for ESL overseas teaching fellowships (as if...);

hot cup of chai, with spoon;

school chorus schedule;

Pamphlets ("Divorce Education for Children"; "Mandatory Divorce Mediation");

Note from a friend;



half-marathon training schedule.

Things that are causing stress (I don't stress out too easily. Normally, I just get a little adrenaline rush, them laugh it off. But things ARE starting to pile up a little. Forgive me for not being your Zen poster child just now. I will again later.):

  1. Fear. [to the tune of "Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Ales"] "I have nothing to be scared of / I am not a chi-cken-shit!" I sing it pompously, in a stately fashion. It doesn't really work, though. I am about to make an enormous change. I want to have faith in my judgement and feel strong. I am learning that I have holes in my faith-bucket. I feel alone. My heartache is as bad as ever, even though I don't write about it. Still lots of head-beween-the-knees time. Maybe I need a different tune. Something snappier?

  2. Hash from a can. I admit that I liked it OK as a kid, the way my mom made it with an egg on top. We ate it a lot. This, and Spam - I fear them for their fat and sodium. I am currently able to afford fresh healthy food and plenty of variety. I don't want to feed my kids hash & eggs.

  3. My hair. It's catywumpus, and now it's suddenly too long. It was perfect yesterday and too long today. How does it DO that? This will be the second haircut since the sad times came along. First I measured it in days (42); then weeks (6); now haircuts (2).

  4. Judgement. I found an anonymous printout in my cubby today: statistics about how miserable people are after they get divorced; how many people regret it; what percentage feel lonely; the number of people who think they will find happiness, but don't; how most people would rather stay unhappily married than get a divorce; etc...

  5. Shoelaces. I bought new ones for Nate, but they are not the right length. I discovered this after I had removed the worn-out lace from one shoe. I had to put the worn-out lace back in, using a nut-meat pick to push it through the eyelets. While Nate stood there with his book bag in hand, fussing at me.

  6. My paycheck, which is not as big as I wish it was all the sudden. I looked at it tonight and thought: the retainer I own my attorney is DOUBLE this. A month's salary. Granted, I think we will use only a fraction of that, and I will get most of it back; but I need the moolah. So I can get a haircut.

  7. The student newspaper. I LOVE our student newspaper, and I'm proud of it. one of my better ideas! It's fantastic! It is also a hell of a lot of work; and on the day it comes out, I am always pinched for time because of it.

  8. Mark. I had to tell him about the demise of SiKat tonight. He was one of the last people to find out, because I fear his disapproval so much. There are two people I reeeeeaaaally don't want to tell: my mom and my Mark.

  9. Anne is resigning. Another school made her an offer she couldn't refuse. She needs to be out of here in about two weeks. Hmmm... I need to post the position and collect sufficient applicants (10 days - 2 weeks); interview (1 week); facilitate paperwork, orientation, security check, W-4, office training (3 days); train the new teacher on assessment, administration, curriculum, volunteer support (4 days); get transitional cross-training set up (1 week). This is making my stomach loop the loop a little. She felt bad, springing this on me at such a rough personal time. I thought, "drop in the bucket"; but it is a VERY LARGE drop. The stress is two-fold: the work, the upheaval, the substitutions, etc..; and that Anne is a phenomenal teacher. She is one of those professionals who has both amazing cedentials and a great classroom presence. I'm going to miss her.

Things that relieved stress a bit:

  1. My attorney. A) He looked at our money situation today and assured me that I would NOT be eating hash. He looked me straight in the eye and told me that I can do this, emotionally and economically. B) He is cutting me a big discount. I wonder what he likes to eat? C) We had a very enjoyable verbal spar about a criminal case he is defending. It is a well-known case here, and I loved getting him animated about it. D) As I left today, he reached out and grabbed both my shoulders from behind, gave me a shake and told me again that I was going to be OK. I felt like a prizefighter. He didn't try squirting water into my mouth, though.

  2. My colleague MarySue, who took me out to lunch at La Cai Noodle House today, listened to 92% of my sad story and didn't judge me. She went through a divorce a few years ago, and her second marriage is "a thousand times" better, according to her. She reminded me that, in tough times, work can be a sanctuary. "Let us be your village", she said.

  3. Mark. He was shocked into complete stillness for a moment or two while I thought, "Oh no! What must he think of me?" Then he grabbed both of my wrists in his hands and assured me that everything was going to be OK.

  4. Linguistics. I tried to blow off Public Relations Committee meeting, to work on my paperwork; but I was called in regardless, because the conversation had turned to language. Actually, there is very little I would rather do than discuss semantics. Why does the phrase "teach vision" grate on us? Which two of these three words are most important when describing us: literacy; community; education? How weighted has the word "immigrant" become? I am fascinated with words that get highjacked by politics. It's a hobby of mine. I could go on and on - it's a whole blog entry on its own. Just the word "Mexican"can get me on a 10 minute mini-dissertation. I love this stuff!

  5. My students. Of course.

How my students and I amused each other this evening:

  1. Betting;
I found this "ice cream scoop" in Second Grade. It is really a game spinner of sorts: you push the little lever and the "ice cream" spins. It comes up vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. I was enchanted. I asked my tutor, Josh, if he would care to lay down a nickel on guessing the flavor that would come up. He did this a few times and lost a number of nickels. Then Hugo did a few tries, then Victor. The house was definitely up on the deal, so I took my casino on the road and roamed from classroom to classroom. Things got fairly high-stakes while playing with my "boyfriend", Bill. He ended up winning $.25 from me. Still, the house came out ahead. The students laughed their asses off. This is a good thing.

2. Explaining the difference between "lie" and "lay". Native speakers gathered round for this one as well.

3. Writing my examples of present / past / participal of "lie" and "lay" on the white board with such geek-ola enthusiasm, that I realized too late that I was using a permanent Sharpie.

4. Using a trick that a volunteer showed me, I took a Dry Erase marker and wrote over the Sharpie, then wiped the board clean with ease. Did you know that? That Dry Erase will lift permanent marker? I was so impressed!

5. Explaining why the "-ed" ending on past tense verbs somethings sounds like a /t/ ("washed"); sometimes sounds like a /d/ ("played"); sometimes sounds like "uhd" ("lifted").

6. Putting my hand on my throat and making everyone within a 30 foot radius do the same while going "Aaaaaahhhhhh..." "p-p-p-p-p-p-p-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-", etc... "Are your vocal chords vibrating NOW? How about NOW?" Paul Delgado said, "You CRAZY, Teacher!"

Oh, Paul... You don't know the half of it!


JY said...

Ok! I am fine and thanks for the worry! And on your blog too... All of that was north of us. They were hardest hit. We had the longest shake ever recorded. Aftershocks all night long, but we're fine! Thanks so much. Now I'll go back to read the rest of your post and comment later on today!

Kate said...

@ Jyankee: I saw Tokyo on my widget and was reassured.Thanks for the message.

AtomicU2 said...

I can't believe somebody put that in your cubby.

So sad Anne is leaving. If you get need help, let me know. I could supervise tutors or teach a class or something.

AtomicU2 said...

Oops, Atomic U2 is me, Kristen. Forgot I was on John's work laptop.

Kate said...

@ Kristen: I am going to miss her so much! Wise wants to move over to Anne's shift, so I'm going to be hiring for Wise's place. Problem is that it's going to take time. You wouldn't be interested in subbing for Anne, would you? It would mean quite a few hours, but I'm not sure that's what you want right now...

JY said...

oh... i kinda wanna hear the difference "lie" and "lay" too....

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

I always have to look up the difference between lie and lay. Once I do, I recall it pretty well.

Stress sucks, but I am glad you are counter-acting it. And if it makes you feel better, you would not believe the clutter I have here, especially on my desk.

Finally, you will never believe what I thought that ice cream scooper was until you explained. I have a dirty mind.

Kate said...

@Jyankee: Anything for you!
"lie" is transitive. It doesn't need an object. So, things lie. On the table, on the bed, etc...

The pen lies on the table.
I lie on my bed.

Present: lie
Past: lay
Participal: lain

I lie on my bed every day.
I lay on my bed yesterday.
I have lain on my bed for three hours.

"lay" is intransitive. It needs an object. I can hear my mother right now: "Only chickens lay." The subject lays the object. depending on who the subject is and who the object is, this can be fun! Or, you can be boring and just lay the pen on the table.

I lay the pen on the table.
SHe lays the baby in the crib.

Present: lay
Past: laid
Participal: laid

I lay the pen on the table every day.
I laid the pen on the table yesterday.
I have laid the pen on the table . Don't aks me why. So I could use "lay" in the present perfect tense, I guess.

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