Thursday, December 19, 2013

To Quote My Grandmother: "Why Are Teenagers So Stupid?": A History Lesson

As the semester draws to a close and I read over student papers that reflect their newly acquired knowledge, I've come to a realization.

My students haven't acquired shit.

All juniors at my high school are required to write a research paper on one of America's greatest speeches. The content should cover the historical setting of the speech, a bit about the speaker him/herself, and why the speech qualifies as a great one.

Of course, we guide them through the rhetorical analysis part, but the historical setting we leave to Google and what they've picked up from their history classes. Not that I'm opposed to sprinkling historical tidbits into my instruction, but figure what I know they can easily find themselves on the Internet, or God help them, in their history textbooks. 

Recently, all the junior teachers gathered to grade the final drafts of these papers in order to share our success and bemoan our failures.  On this particular occasion, there was a lot of bemoaning.

Here is what we learned from our student papers:
  • Malcolm X read the Torah while in prison
  • The Cold War started in 1985
  • Martin Luther King Jr spoke in 1929
  • Teddy Roosevelt saw Patrick Henry speak
  • "The Japs bombed us; it's time to retaliate!" (The teacher whose student produced this gem--Japanese.)
  • "The Allied Powers accept the Armistice agreements so we could have Veteran's Day."
  • Twins are the same age
And my favorite line: "If America is the land of the free, where the fuck is the freedom?"

We could have blamed the history teachers, but we English folks are kissing cousins to you history folks.  Besides, I know that my school's history teachers are stellar. And my colleagues of Language Arts?  Let's just say that one of them was recently a California Teacher of the Year--so you know we ain't playin' around.

Nevertheless, as an educator, I feel a certain responsibility to set a few things straight.
  • Malcolm X might have understood Moses' demand to "set my people free" and approved of the violence rained down on Egypt for not doing so, but I think a black man trying to empower his oppressed race would not turn to the Torah.  Islam and Judaism--a wee bit at odds.
  • In 1985, the only build-up in weaponry was happening in our hairstyles. 
    Headman for Flock of Seagulls
  • Even though Martin Luther King Jr would have had contention with labeling the day the stock market crashed in 1929 as "Black Tuesday," his "I have a dream speech" probably would have included that he dreams that one day the sons of slaves and the sons of former slave owners can walk into and bank together and find their money still there.
  • I know Teddy was known for his physical prowess, but unless he lived to be 144, he did not see Patrick Henry speak at the Virginia convention in 1775.  But if he had, he would have definitely jumped on the "Give me liberty or give me death" bandwagon.
  • As for retaliating against the "Japs" we did that. Dropping the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is the mother of all retaliations. I think we can call it even-steven.
  • Yes, Veteran's Day is based on an armistice which started on November 11, 1918 but countries don't end wars so that another holiday can be added to their calendars.
  • As for twins being the same age, that is true.  I got nothing to correct there.
And as for "where the fuck is our freedom?" I can blog, can't I?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Whore's Offspring

The Oxford English Dictionary offers 37 definitions for whore; 27 for slut; 234 for "virgin"; 35 for "chaste."

Urban Dictionary: 271 definitions for whore; 386 for slut; 92 for virgin; 2 for chaste.

It seems that pop culture has very little use for celibacy.

Not only that, but whore and slut have produced quite an offspring of variations determined to have their own identity.

Whoredeal, according to Destri9 from Urban Dictionary, is "an ordeal involving a whore" or more specifically, an ordeal created by whoreish behavior. Clearly, a whore throwing a fit in a department store doesn't qualify because how do the salespeople know she's a whore? My question: can't most "ordeals" be traced back to sex? Isn't whoredeal redundant? And can't whoredeal also refer to a "deal" on a whore? A John could say, "I got a hell of whoredeal the other night! It got two blowjobs for the price of one!"

FCKEDOVERBYWOMEN (who needs to read my post "Rose by Any Other Name") from Urban Dictionary claims that a whordiot is "a cross between a whore and an idiot."   
Would the antithesis be chastigence? Is there also a whorsmart? Wait, that might be a better name for a contemporary whorehouse. Although, associating whores with discount department stores is not good marketing. Whoreingdales would be much better.  

To be honest, I don't see any whore as an idiot.  Whether the label is justified or no, a whore is a woman who has the ability and the willingness to control others using sex; the ones who are susceptible to it are the idiots. 

Since many of us, men and women, use sex as a panacea for the pain after a break-up, Coxxy created the term sluster.  This a person who will bed someone he/she considers "beneath them" in the name of "emotional stability" after being dumped or to reinforce "sexual prowess after a lengthly [sic] period of zero sexual activity with another person." I guess masturbation and bestiality can only provide so much comfort. But if it may Coxxy, no one--at least no woman-- will refer to herself as a slut. Whore, yes.  Slut, no.  Sluster is more accurate for the definition since the definition of "slut" includes slumming it, but women will not be motivated to call themselves a slut in the name of denotative correctness.  Throwing that extra "s" in there softens the word a bit, but might I suggest whorester instead? Or whoreaid? Whoraid might make us slusters feel charitable instead of pathetic.

A slustard is someone who "spreads her legs easy and smooth like mustard." I don't know what kind of mustard Mitzul, the author of this definition, uses, but my mustard has bite and spice. Butter has the connotations of easy and smooth. Besides, I think slustard is more akin to whoreidiot in it construction. Someone might confuse slustard as a combination between a slut and a retard and pass her up.  Any guy who misses a chance to hook up with a woman who will "spread it easy and smooth" would be pissed.  So, in place of slustard, how about slutter?

I realize that society's obsession with sex and all its aberrations is more potent than moonshine and more enduring than vampires, so let's make sure that our language for it is appropriate and accurate.  What do you think?

Friday, October 4, 2013


Just as celebrities set the trends for fashion and hip-hop artists set the trends for slang, I want to set the trends for icon usage.  Instead of strutting down the red carpet or making the Billboard Top 10, I dream of my text messages on the world's stage. I hope to grace the cover of Wired magazine. 

My pilot, trend-setting icon usage developed from a basic necessity: to text "fuck you" more efficiently. And I am not one to throw out those Bostonian, jovial "fuck yous" superfluously, so if I have the need, I know most of the population has a desperate need for a "fuck you" shortcut.

Recently, I trudged through a near back-breaking week. I saw it coming, which helps so that I can double up on my B12, but it was going to be a lulu to say the least.  Not only do I teach high school, but also I  teach at a junior college. As a result, on Mondays and Wednesdays I work a thirteen-hour day. Recently I had a work week that included writer's group on Tuesday night, and then the most dreaded night of any teacher's life: Back to School Night.

Oh, and I'm forty. For those of you south of thirty-five, who still can glide through those 12-16 hours workdays, beware. While the need to work long, grueling shifts will not end, your ability to work them without feeling hungover for the two days that follow will.

Knowing that this particular week of teaching, writing, and parent schmoozing was going to kick the snot out of me, I sent the following text to my close friends:

"This will be me by Friday." 
Of course, one of my smart-ass friends replied with "That's you now."

In the spirit of friendly texting banter, I wanted to reply with:

Courtesy of iStock Illustration.
But, Apple doesn't provide an emoticon giving the bird.  I would have had to either done the "f-u :)" or "fuck you, lol" but not "fuck you ;)" because then my friend would have thought that I was propositioning her. Besides, the main idea of my original text had been in the picture.  As a professional, I felt the pressure to maintain parallel structure and respond with a picture. But apple doesn't offer an icon with the exact message I meant to send.  I could have texted:

But that doesn't encapsulate my exact message. 

Dammit apple, you give me hypodermic needles, eggs in frying pans,a fish windsock, and an eggplant but no middle finger.  Fine, since I hate waste and I'm fairly certain even the passionate Italian food-lover only has so much need for an eggplant icon, I promote using the eggplant as a substitute for the middle finger.  

So when your friend compares you to a drooling baby, just send: 

When your friend reminds you that you really are a whore, just send: 

When your friend mocks you for getting your ass kicked in Grand Theft Auto 1000, just send: 
And you Bostonians, just text your mother: 

Join me in this emoticon revolution. Work those eggplants! I want to see them spilling out of phones, becoming the most popular dish in any Italian Restaurant, becoming the new black.  Make it happen!

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving" -- William Shakespeare

Amen, oh god of the quill.

What favorable, even if "unmerited" reputation that I have just took a roundhouse kick to the face. And, believe it or not, it was not a result of anything I did. The possibility that another person out there can inadvertently make me look bad is terrifying--I can barely keep myself out of the hot-seat, let alone stop anyone else from burning my ass.

But the most recent, undeserving blemish to my reputation did make me the center of attention, so I guess there's an upside. What's that saying: there's no such thing as bad publicity?  Oh wait, as a teacher, my reputation is more fragile than that of any politician.  Really, do you think a teacher with surname Weiner who had an extramarital affair could ever set foot on a campus again?

During this past summer, my high school held a leadership.  I was not invited, my school doesn't dare ask me to lead anything except the damned into the apocalypse, but even though  I was not there in body, I was there in libido.

As an icebreaker, my colleagues were asked to share their most embarrassing moment.  One of my colleagues, Evie, who attended the retreat felt a shortage of humiliating anecdotes to contribute (a conundrum of which I cannot relate) and took the liberty of using one of mine. Since I consider Evie a friend, my fuck-ups are her fuck-ups, but her fuck-up of my fuck-up could land me in jail.

"One time I caught Holly having sex with a student," Evie shared with the more upstanding, more influential teachers of my school, which included my principal, my three assistant principals, and both my department heads. 

Not only did Evie throw me under the bus, but also hijacked it and backed it over me.

She tried to back-peddle by explaining that she had misplaced her modifier, but that just turned into some kind of sexual innuendo about me misplacing my modifier, so now my fellow teachers think that in addition to me boffing my students I am also a hermaphrodite. Trust me, if I wanted them to believe either, it would be the latter.

Now, just to clarify, that is not even remotely what she caught me doing. In fact, she didn't catch me doing anything.  A couple years ago, Evie, myself and two other colleagues had to "do our time" teaching in a set of portable classrooms--constructed to last five years but were around eight years old by the time I got into them.  Even though the teaching conditions were several degrees below adequate, they were perfect for misadventure.  While up there, my classroom flooded after every rainfall; the portable across from me was invaded by a swarm of bees; we were greeted daily by rabbits, squirrels, and the occasional coyote; and if any of us teachers found ourselves bored, we could just wander over to the abandoned greenhouse and catch a handful of students smoking weed. But the finale, literally and figuratively, was when the teacher across the way from me, Paul, saw from his classroom window two students having sex on the baseball field.

It was during the 6th period final on the last day of school.  These teens planned on ending the year with a bang.

I am not the one who caught them, I was the one elected to go and interrupt their fornicating because a) I didn't have a class that period and b) I am known for being quite ballsy.

I know, not helping with the hermaphrodite rumor.

"Hey Holly," Paul yells.  I go to my doorway to see him braced in his with sophomores trying to squeeze out of the room.  "Take a look around the corner of my classroom."

I peeked around the corner and a young lady riding a young man.  This was no amateur show; at her age, I would have had no idea how to do what she was doing.

My solution was to just turn the sophomores loose on them, but Paul was afraid of legal ramifications. As if there wouldn't be any for that 38 year-old teacher who strolled up on the soft-core porn and said, "Excuse me, do you think that behavior is appropriate?"

I may be a bit of a bulldog, but I am not stupid.  I was not going anywhere near that situation. Instead, I just went with prudence and phoned it into the office.  Of course, being the last day of school, the secretaries figured that I couldn't be calling about anything that serious --the seniors had graduated the night before so the margin for disaster was much smaller. As it turned out, when I called to notify the dean that, "two students are fornicating on the baseball field," I was on speakerphone.

So much for avoiding legal ramifications.

Evie could have used the phone call as "her" embarrassing moment.  But nooooo, instead I had to hear from what seemed like every one of my teaching fellows: "Evie announced at the leadership retreat that you had sex with a student." They quickly added, "She did explain what she really meant, but it was really funny."

How nice; I'm the life of the party even when I'm not there.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I'm Pretty: Which Class Is This?

When I pose questions to a class of students, this is not what happens:
Mary Ashley York's Blog
It's more like this:
Old Sailor Blog
With me saying, "Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?" which only evokes laughter instead of knowledge.

Getting the entire class to participate in discussions challenges  all teachers. Either no one volunteers or the same three students volunteer. If a teacher just cold-calls on a student, he/she will either not have the answer while at the same time feel "picked on" and in the future will be even less willing to participate. Frustrated with the lack of response, I downshift into bad teaching by spoon-feeding the class the answers. After a few periods of doing this, I feel like I need to take a hot shower and scrub my entire body with pumice. 

To bypass these issues, I have created a system that engages the whole class. Okay, maybe "engages" is wishful thinking, but at least it keeps them on their toes.  And it lowers my angst, which overall, it critical if I wish to remain employed. 

The system is simple. I inform the class what answers I expect them to provide, give them a few minutes to make sure they have that answer through small group discussion (which is the lowering anxiety part), and then I get out The Cards.
Each student has his or her name written on an index card.  I mix them up with the flair of a Las Vegas card dealer--believe me, students will learn how to "count them" so they know when their time to share is coming up and then will slack off until that time. I walk down the aisles tapping the stack against my palm. No student meets my gaze; they won't abandon the belief that eye contact will dictate which card I randomly draw.

If I pull a student's card, he/she must provide me at least a legitimate attempt to provide the right information or risk losing participation points.

When I reached for my notecards the other day, the chorus of groans indicated that they had only needed a few of the new school year to assert their power.

Holding the cards above my head, I asked, "Who can tell me the answer to number one?" Of course, there would be no volunteers--no willing volunteers.

I lower the cards, and snatching one off the top, I bellow, "Amanda Smith."

I survey the room; the students survey the room.

"Amanda? You have the answer to number one?"

No response. It's too early in the year to know who is who, and my seating chart is hiding. I knew one student was absent; must be Amanda.  Figures.

The snap of another card being drawn, "Jacob Melendez."

Searching eyes. A few mutters.

"Jacob? Number one?"


I thought only one student was absent.  These kids better not be testing my authority already.  

"Okay, let's try Frank Larson."

No Frank either.  Where is that damn seating chart?

"Erika Bermudez?"

More muttering, but nothing remotely resembling the answer I want.   I set down the cards and begin shuffling around the papers on my desk looking for the seating chart.  Damn kids; as soon as I know where Amanda, Jacob, Frank, and Erika sit, there'll be hell to pay.  

"Ms. Vance." 

Finally, someone is paying attention.  

I turn to see a young lady who sits close to the front of the room raising her hand.  Her neck has sunk in-between her lifted shoulders and she smiles meekly. 

"Ms. Vance," she says.  "I think you've got the wrong set of cards.  None of those students are in this class."  

I pick up the cards and shuffle through them.  Shit.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Don't Jack My Schtick

I work with a collection of passionate, intelligent, and innovative teachers whom I regard with the utmost respect. But, I think I'm gonna need to keep an eye on a few of 'em. Especially the ones that are smarter than me, which happens to be most of the staff.

When surrounded by such accomplished co-workers-- a California Teacher of the Year recipient works at my school--one such as myself has to hold onto whatever talent she possesses in order to maintain her self-esteem.  

I forward some of my posts on slang to my English fellows because they have the same appreciation for language as I. Maybe I'm not throwing down any new knowledge on them, but I am at least entertaining. When a colleague stops me in the halls to praise a post, I can't help but puff up with pride. 

That will all end if one jacks my schtick. Right now, I have the advantage of having no kids, no husband, and no further educational goals to take up the majority of my free time so that I can sit down and write.   

The other day, as I was cruising through the office, a colleague who teaches AP English stopped me with "I've got a new slang word for you."

I was a little nervous. As a vegetable, this teacher trumps me in intelligence. And writing. The fact that the word was "for me" and that my colleague has several children and teaches at the local college kept me from flying into a full-blown panic.

"Lay it on me."

"Farting," he said.

"I'm sorry?"

"Farding," he repeated.

"Oh, okay. What does it mean?" 

"To paint the face," he said. "On my syllabus, I will have 'ladies, no farding in class.'"

His eyebrows pump up and down a couple times. He giggles, his brightening at his own wit.

"Cute," I said. 


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Aberration Blog Hop

To celebrate Lisa Regan's novel Aberration, I am participating in a blog-hop where I list five of my favorite aberrant fictional characters.  

According to the OED, aberrant is subject to or characterized by deviation markedly from the ordinary or natural type, exceptional, irregular; pathological.

Here are some my favorite aberrations:

1.  George Foyet, serial killer dubbed The Reaper, from the Criminal Minds television series.  Whether he is shooting innocent men, stabbing innocent women, bartering with homicide detectives, or stalking FBI agents, as long as he is tearing lives apart, he's happy. 

Iago planting suspicion in Othello's ear
2.  Iago, Shakespeare's villain in Othello, feels justified in destroying a marriage and killing a few desperate soldiers all because he was passed up for a promotion. Or was it because his general, Othello, slept with his wife? Or was it because he loves his general's wife? 

3.  The Capitol of Panem, the dystopian society of the Hunger Games.  Putting my Master's degree in English to work, I consider The Capitol a character, who seems to enjoy glorifying children murdering children all in the name of teaching a hard lesson to the poor and starving while entertaining the privileged at the same time.

4.  Hannibal Lecter is a classic aberration. How many brilliant psychiatrists with refined food and musical tastes also enjoys gutting and eating human beings? And he's so considerate: he stashes away a human in head in case its "owner" might need it again.

5.  This fifth one just came to mind while watching Kill Bill Vol. 1. No, it's not Bill, but Gogo Yubari.  This 17 year-old who dons a private school uniform is the bodyguard to the boss of Japanese organized crime, O-ren Ishii.  When she is not wielding a flail, she is guzzling beer and sinking her sword into any man who propositions her.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Punctuation Is the New Sexy

Well, I thought that I had solved the mystery of why my forty-year-old ass can only attract men south of 30, but then a further study of the use of ;) blew my theory.  

At first, I thought that maybe these youngins were attracted to my maturity, independence, and confidence.  Then I began to wonder if the draw of older women stemmed from icons as featured in Sex in the City as well as other popular celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Sandra Bullock, and Halle Berry who are all gorgeous, successful, and “older.”  I was optimistic in thinking that now younger men see being with older women as a badge of honor, something to brag about, something that makes them feel more like men.
I learned quickly that that theory was not true. So, I moved onto the idea that "sleeping with an older woman" is in the top five of all guys' bucket lists and that they interpret "maturity" as "a good lay." 

But I am angry and am willing to concede that biases are heavily in play.

Recently, I thought that I had discovered that the reason I am so effective at pulling twenty-something tail is because they all believe that I am going to have sex with them immediately. I believed that this misinterpreted guarantee stemmed from my use of ;) or for those of you with iPhones, emoticons.

And because written language in any form is defined as "symbols" to represent an idea, emoticons' definitions are as fluid and generation-based as slang.  What my generation means to communicate with say ;) is not how it is interpreted by the younger generations. More specifically, the younger generations have another meaning for ;) depending on the context it is used in.
Wonderful. As if there aren't enough ways for me to complicate my life.
I use the ;) in the same way that I use LOL: as a way to indicate that I am being light-hearted and funny.  If these young guys would actually have a phone conversation, they could hear it in my voice, but since they avoid that like they avoid capitalization, I am limited in my tools for expression. Yes, I could resort to word choice and old-school, vanilla syntax, but I feel that these guys will think I am speaking a foreign language.
So, I use the :) and the ;) to keep things simpatico. You'd think I'd use :-L or some other form of angry face as well, but I prefer "fuck off" instead. How can one construct a middle finger with characters?  00l00
But I digress.  
Recently, while I was sitting in the lounge with my colleagues, one shared her miscommunication with ;).   She, as do many teachers, set up  a Twitter account in order to send students reminders to study for a test, finish homework, don't take ten hits off the bong before school ... you get the idea.  Well, my colleague tweeted a reminder to "do the extra credit by the end of the week ;)" utilizing the winky face characters to soften her tone (BTW, Twitter, shorter sentences tend to make the tone bossy, bitchy, and cold, hence the need for these *%!# emoticons).  

Thank God my colleague's students love her.  The following day they came charging in telling her that ;) means "sex."  Her tweet meant that her students had until the end of the week to have sex with her for extra credit.  

This new-found knowledge added some clarification as to why 
cubs try to get me home, naked, and in the sack within the first hour of the first date: I used to think it was the gnat-attention-span generation revising the three-dates-before-sex rule of my generation, but my initial investigation of the ;) made me believe that it's because during the text-courting stage, I unknowingly assure them that I'll be putting out immediately.  

I thought I had a handle on things, but further research has since debunked that theory.

Recently, while asking my students to explain the definition of "ratchet" to me, I decided to get some verification on ;).  I learned that as with all language, emoticons' definitions vary depending on the context of the message.  It only means "sex" if the context of the message asks the receiver to meet the sender in a "private location."

For example, "Meet me in my car at lunch ;)" means "Let's have sex in my car during lunch."  

But then I asked, "What if I texted: 'I'll see you at the house party ;)'?  That wouldn't imply to have sex because house parties consist of a zillion people."

"That depends," a student clarified.  "If you can find an empty room at the house  party . . . "

There's always a hitch. One thing the English language is good at is not being consistent.
I inquired no further.  I am certain that my use of ;) is never in the context of asking some cub to meet me in a private place.  So, the mystery of why I am a cub magnet is still an open case.

But, now I wonder what my colleague's extra credit was to lend her tweet such an interpretation ;).   

Thursday, April 18, 2013

PETA Might Get Pissed

Those of us who are friends to the feline and pals to the pooch might have to add one more threat to the well being of these four-legged family members: defamation. The attack is not against a particular dog or cat, but against the entire species. 

Its an assault of association; a mistake in matching.
Jade (my sister's dog)

The basic definition of language, specifically written language, is a series of symbols that represent a concept shared by those of that language. English speaking people agree that the combination of the symbols d, o, and g represent a highly variable domestic mammal (Canis familiaris) closely related to the gray wolf.

Niley and Selene (my cats)

The combination of c, a, and t represent a carnivorous mammal (Felis catus) long domesticated as a pet and for catching rats and mice.

The naming of the species is not what's threatened;  no one has suggested that the word "dog" is out-dated for our canine companions.  What is at risk is the connotation of "dog." The idea that these puppy pals are traditionally loyal, protective, and playful is closely linked to "dog" that one cannot help but associate those ideas with one another almost subconsciously. 

But, as usual, slang has thrown a few stones into the easy flow between the definition of and the connotations of "dog." Unfortunately, I cannot immediately blame the teens of today because my generation has done the most damage by using "dog" is such contexts:
  • Why would you want to go out with that girl? She is a dog!
  • I spent all night crying because he dogged me.
The first example implies ugliness; the second, rejection or insult. To say that a woman (or man) is a dog is simply incorrect. A woman is only a dog in True Blood. And "She is a dog!" is not the correct way use an adjective.  It's like saying, "She is an ugly."

And how did the characteristics of a dog become associated with rejection and insult. Dogs don't reject anyone (unless they are trained to) nor do they insult anyone (unless they are trained to).  If you want to associate an animal with such behavior, it would make more sense to say "I spent all night crying because he catted me."

I do have to commend the current revisers of slang on providing a more respectable interpretation to "dog." Now, it is used in the following context:
  • My girlfriend's ex-boyfriend was doggin' me at the prom.
  • After running over his skateboard with my Ford F350, Jake dogged me every morning when I pulled into the parking lot.
In the first example, the "insult" and "rejection" make sense, but the slang "dog" doesn't have the same meaning. As my students explained to me, "dog" is a derivative of "mad dog"--both used as a verb--meaning to stare someone down in a threatening way or simply to give, as my students clarified, "the stink eye." I can see the association here. Mad dogs are threatening and they don't exactly bat their eyelashes at their targets.  Also, it associates power, a force to be reckoned with to the animal itself. That's much more respectful and appreciative than "ugly" and "insulting."

But then they got to go and screw it up by creating "dawg" to mean, according to Urban Dictionary, a close friend; a "homie." Why change the spelling then? The original symbol (aka spelling) of "dog" and the original thing it presents more closely associates with the "dawg" definition.  Why change the spelling, thereby disassociating it from those loving, loyal animals?

And what's up with referring to a timid, weak man as a "pussy"? Sure, cats might scurry away from a threat because they don't need to fight to prove themselves. Might as well save a few lives, right? Back a cat into a corner--watch out.
Courtesy of Purplepanda03

So by calling a man a pussy, one is insinuating that a) he knows when to fight and when to walk away and b) you back him into a corner, you won't be walking away without a few scars.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

To Quote Ernest Hemingway: "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. "

It's not often that I have to stare directly into eyes of my less-than-awesome self. Maybe because I'm just that awesome.

But, I ran headlong into one of my flaws yesterday morning and I'm still recuperating.

I am the worst writer in the history of the universe.

The worst.

Last Thursday night, I printed out a copy of one of my autobiographical pieces to read through, tweak here and there before sending it off to a couple of magazines. I considered just sending it as is without even a cursory read-through, but I figured that since I haven't looked at it in a while, I should glance through it for that stray typo or maybe a few diction changes. 

After teaching for 12 hours, even the smallest glitch in writing would escape my view. So, first thing Friday morning---a belly full of coffee and a mind anticipating a weekend of probably being the only sober person in the world--I perched at my podium thinking that one class' worth of SSR time would be more than enough time for editing. I'll just handle it during 1st period while my mind is still sharp and my students haven't had much of a chance to radiate my brain cells.

OMG. By the time 5th period's SSR time was completed, I was balled up in the corner, sobbing.

My piece is a disaster: It has no transitions, strays off topic, has about as much variety of language as Green Eggs and Ham minus the rhetorical intent, no climax, and inane reflection (which does not bode well in an autobiographical piece).

Holy shit. Why did I even think at one time that this piece was "finished"? Instead up uploading it onto Kindle and Nook, I should have been downloading it into the toilet. 

Rolling out of bed this morning, I looked forward to a day of trying to find a lifeline in the piece. Slight revision to my weekend plans: I will NOT be the only sober person in the world. From now on, I AM going to read over my writing Thursday nights after teaching for twelve hours and I'm gonna add a bottle of wine to my perception. Clarity is for the talented.

But, as I was shuffling around my office this morning, I glanced at the copy of one of the Shades of Grey books a friend loaned me for when I need a good laugh, and thought, "I'm gonna be just fine."

All you slaves to the quill, please comment on times when you doubted your talent and how you revived it without becoming alcoholics or drug addicts.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

If you don't have anything pertinent to say . . . "

Well all do it. Every single one of us, and if anyone tries to tell me that he or she doesn't, I will call, "bullshit."

We all express our opinions without being fully informed first.

Bloggers can be counted among the most guilty. We comment on posts that we haven't read in their entirety. In fact, I am willing to bet that many bloggers comment on posts without reading an entire sentence. Read the title of the post, look at the pictures, scan a couple of the other comments, and then just tack one on. As long as your comment references anything--anything in the post it gives the illusion that you read it.

This bit of insincerity comes from a good place: we just want to make our fellow bloggers feel supported. Or, we want to make other bloggers feel guilty so that they'll check in on our blogs and comment on our posts that they haven't read--let alone read closely.

So basically blogging has become a lot like relationships: just another way to provide a false sense of security.

But my most recent post has brought to light a trend--at least new to me--in blog commenting. Not only does every porn site in the world "comment" on a blog if it is promoted in a public forum, but now a bunch of other online businesses are commenting "anonymously."
Courtesy of
Yes, I have finally learned the reason for the word-verification prerequisite in order to comment. Please refer to all posts related to technology if you are astounded at my stupidity.

And while we bloggers may not always read our comrades posts fully, we sure as shit read and re-read every single syllable of the comments to ours. This is how I discovered that blog commenting has become the new way to advertise, and apparently there is a huge market of out-of-work, pornography addicts online. 

Or maybe the title of my last post, "What Can Your Butt Do?", has the right key word to attract the automated, anonymous comments from the merchants of jobs and porno flicks. If you haven't read about my butt yet, please do so now.  I'll wait . . .
This post received a string of comments from anonymous "readers." To their credit, these comments are composed with sophisticated language and tailored to the writer's ego. Out of context, they seem intelligent and flattering. But, in the case of my butt-post, they are both impertinent and asinine.

For example, Forex Trading Systems commented:"I've been surfing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting articles like yours."

Okay, if you can't find anything online more interesting than my ass, you are either retarded or even more inept with technology than I am.

Jobs from Home Online shared that I had, "read [their] thoughts" and that "[I] know a lot about this topic, like [I] wrote the book on it."  

First, if you are sitting around thinking about my butt, seek immediate help. Second, who else is going to write the book on my ass? It's not like I am wealthy enough to have my own private proctologist. And if such a book did exist, who in the fuck would buy it? 

I've also been thanked for "sharing this with all the people who understand what you are talking about." Really? There is a population of people who can trigger paper towel dispensers with their tush?

Finally, it seems as if I have "put a new spin on a topic which has been discussed for decades."  In this case, I'm willing to believe that this commentator did read my post, because I am sure people have been talking about my ass for decades.

Well, beggers can't be choosers, I suppose.

I'd appreciate your comments.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What can your butt do?

I have one talented ass.

And I don't mean "ass" as a synecdoche. I am referring solely to my gluteus maximus. Emphasis on "maximus" in my case.

My tush's talents do not relate to its basic functionality. So, those of you who are inching your cursor to the X at the top of your computer screen, come on back. This post will not include anything about my flatulence (which I never have) nor my feces (which does not stink).

My rear is an excellent ottoman. It's big enough to accommodate any side foot. Unfortunately, this use is not unique to me, but to all who have large derrieres. The more luxurious ones are not those of the yogi, the Pilates instructor, or even the runner, but those of the carb worshipers. Think in terms of a firm mattress vs. a tempurpedic.    
Courtesy of Colorbox

Those who have a cat, probably have discovered this next use of an abundant fanny: a pet bed. Whether stretched on the floor grading papers, reposing on my tummy on the couch, or asleep in my bed, my rear trumps all other locations in my apartment for cat's nap. In addition, my bum also seems to be the highest point in the room for my cats to climb up on and lord over their world, thereby complementing their egos.

My rump is also a weapon. A catapult to be exact. I once launched my best friend across a hotel room with my ass. In my defense, it was my only defense, even though I started out as the offense.  After too much wine and too much indulgence in immaturity, I decided a round of WWF as she is trying to inflate her aerobed was appropriate. On any given day, in any given situation, under any given condition, Lisa can kick my ass (now, I do mean "my ass" as a synecdoche) so once I riled her up, I knew I had to get some distance between us quickly, so I bumped her with my bum and she flew. Caught air. Her feet left the ground.

She forgave me the next day when I dropped my bottom like a bomb onto her aerobed to assist in the deflating.

But recently, I learned that my fanny has another talent; a use more valuable that a toilet seat cover.

A paper towel dispenser.

Now, I can pull a lot of things out of my ass, and paper towels from that region is of no use to anyone, so allow me to explain.

In the woman's bathroom at work we have an automatic paper towel dispensers. Ours if a fickle one. In theory, we are supposed to wave our hands under the senser to get a stream, but our dispenser makes us work for it. You have to damn near make love to it to get it to work. In fact, by the time anyone manages to get a paper towel, she has waved her hands around so much that a 757 has landed in the handicap stall and her hands are already dry. And in the amount of time we teachers have to pee added to the size of our bathroom as disproportionate to the amount of females on campus, no one has time to monkey-fuck around.

A colleague one told me that the senser doesn't work if it gets wet. Wait a second, a senser is sensitive to water when it's job is to provide that which takes the wetness away? 

Regardless of the efficiency of anything "technological," I will have problems with it. So, I automatically go for the extra roll perched on top of a shelf by the door. I have enough aggravation in my life. 

But then, my talented ass provided another solution. As I emerged from the stall and went to wash my hands something amazing happened. 

To fully understand, you must study the picture to the left carefully. Note the layout of sink to dispenser. 

I bent over to wash my hands and a ream of paper dropped right out. My booty set off the dispenser. And by the way, the senser is on the underside of it.

How convenient! Not only is that towel ready for me, but it saves time because it is dispensing while I am washing. Awesome. 

The colleague standing in line --my former student teacher, I might add-- was thinking more of my feelings than my new-found talent. As I turned to ask, "Did you see what my butt just did?" I found her covering her mouth with her hands, eyes popped open wide. 

My response? "Hey, what can your butt do?"