Mole Hills that are Actually Mountains
Today we started the ISATs. I have a small group of 6th graders.
This is what the one I worry about most asked me while filling out the name bubbles…
Student: Ms. B., how do you spell William? I only know how to spell Billy.
This 6th grade test isn’t appropriate. He reads on a 1st grade level. How is he supposed to understand the 6th grade text?
He’s seen his given name written tons of times, but because he goes by Billy and not William, he’s never written it and therefore never learned how it was written. It’s not the fact that he didn’t know how to spell his name its everything that leads into that.
How do you think he feels taking that test? What do you think that test does to his self-esteem? Why does he have an Individualized Education Plan, but he has to take the same test as his peers? Why can’t I read it to him? What is this test assessing? Comprehension or that he can read?
This is a form of child abuse.
Yeah, I went there.
There was the picture. Pictures, plural, actually. Right in front of Brody, the reel of photo booth snapshots smiled up at him, tucked just where he had carefully placed them along the inside lining of his combat helmet.
He could remember the moment they were taken like it had only just happened. They had been at the beach, or- as she corrected him, a true Jersey girl, “down the shore.” Her colloquialisms never failed to make Brody crack a grin. She was all east coast tanned skin that August afternoon. It took every ounce of his self control to not reach out and touch her, to place his large scarred hands on her lower back, to claim her as his own. She wasn’t his, though. Her smile belonged only to the summer breeze; she wasn’t interested.
He closed his eyes, shutting out the whine of the aircraft and loud banter of his platoon-mates, and let his mind wander back to the image of her from that day. Freshly eighteen, she danced a few paces ahead of him down the middle of the boardwalk. Sun glinting off of her long kinked hair and slightly chipped smile, she laughed back at him. Slowpoke! She called out between pop song lyrics blaring from the nearest shop. Hurry up! He fell into pace next to her jean shorts clad hips swiveling in time with the music. So this is all pretty new for you, huh? What do you think of the coast so far?
Brody had lived the majority of his life in the breadbasket of America- the great Midwest. He knew large bodies of water- the lakes were like small seas in and of themselves- but he had never been to the ocean before. That day, he remembered with a slight wistful smirk, had been the first time he had felt the freedom of gentle waves on his skin.
This has pretty much been my life, the tall thin girl next to him had rambled on, The shore is something of a home to me, I suppose. There are so many good memories here. That shop there is where I used to get hennas as a little girl. I pretended they were real tattoos because it made me feel cooler. Oh! And that arcade, this one right here, has the most godawful photo booth on this whole strip. The inside is minuscule. The pictures come out great though. Gosh, I used to squeeze in there every summer with my girlfriends. When Brody told her that he had never taken pictures in a photo booth, he expected incredulous eyebrows and a “you poor deprived child” sort of expression from her. He was instead surprised - pleasantly surprised, he recalled - when her hand darted out to wind around his wrist and pull him into the arcade.
Their two faces pressed together, with her perched lightly on his lap. Nearly six feet tall each (she just under, at 5’ 10” and he just over, at 6’ 3”), they had laughed over the struggle and tangle of limbs to fit into the booth. Four flashes later, they spilled out into the humid air and waited impatiently for the pictures to print.
Brody felt an elbow dig into his ribs. A buddy summoned him back to the cramped rows of soldiers, cargo to be dropped over Afghanistan. Glossy and black and white, the four pictures nestled into the lining of his helmet. He lightly touched the tips of his fingers to her smile.
She was back in the States, most likely with another man. Yet, miles away, it was still her that Brody was fighting for.
A Facebook Party Invite I just received from My Friend
Bottoms Up: A Salute to America, the HomoHut goes Thrifting (in honor of Mike’s falling out of a vagina):
How do you celebrate the birthday of a sloppy whore with a thirsty hole? With a whole lot of lube. Come to the HomoHut for an extended remix of Cody’s sphincter, Nick’s drug addiction, and our love for all things thrifty. Show up decked out in thrift store clothing so ratchet that the hipsters outside Urban Outfitters will genocide out of envy. Special events include Mike’s annual purity ball, celebrating 20 years of chastity and American value, a possible guest appearance by none other than three pounds of meth, and a closing ceremony consisting of Barry drunk crying on the floor. Again.
Mikia: “He asked if I was a feminist and I said no way!”
Me: “So you are against equal rights?”
Mikia: “No, I am against female superiority.”
Me: “You realize most feminists are NOT like that, right?”
Mikia: “But those are the ones you hear about in the media.”
Me: “So, have you stopped calling yourself Christian too?”
Mikia: “What? NO!”
Me: “But the Christians that tend to make the media because of their Christanity tend to be anti-women, anti-homosexual, anti-equal rights, have doomsday prophecies…”
Mikia: “That’s different.”
I stopped there (Mikia went on to explain how not every Christian is like that) but I think the difference is in our American culture is Christanity is accepted, crazies or not. Equal rights tends to be fought against throughout our history and a feminist caricature has existed for at least decades as a way to put people down, like the caricature of the stupid African-American that needs to be protected from himself or the evil atheist. If someone is not white, Christian, and “traditional” there is something wrong apparently.
Once upon a time...
Once upon a time there was a platypus. She didn’t know why she was a platypus, but one day she was called a platypus and the name stuck. Stuck wasn’t a word she liked very much. She’d never wanted to be stuck, she always tried to move and change.
Change of pace, change of scenery. It wasn’t that she didn’t want stability, but to stay put would be to fail.
”Push on, be what you want to be. Be GOOD.”
”Be Beautiful. Be talented at something.” ”what?” ”ANYTHING!”
Another was found: A like minded fellow (?). The platypus told him of her plans of travel. He thought they were grande. So grande he asked if he could come along on her adventuring. Now being somewhat the romantic fool the platypus agreed, heartily. With enthusiasm And for the first time met resistance for a choice.
”Why? What about your dreams?”
She was stubborn or romantic or a fool, and she plodded on.
But the fear had been planted. What was she doing, what about her dreams? So she pressed on. She told the fellow she had to do this and that. Not really knowing if she did want to or she did need to. Thinking only if she didn’t move; she didn’t change; she would be failing.
Now, dear reader, he had made a promise this fellow, and so thought that meant to do what she wanted and not worry about what he might want. Which leads to much unrest. Accordingly the platypus didn’t know how to ask her fellow what he wanted, barely knew how to give him what he wanted. Attempted and failed many times over. Not to say she never succeeded Just sometimes the unsuccesses felt bigger and more ominous than the twirly whirly of the successes, which is often the case.
Maybe at this point dear reader, you can hear the storm clouds gathering. No real stories are without pain and suffering. In fact without sorrow there would be no story to be told at all.
The partnership was fading, fraying, breaking, changing. The two were changing. The platypus began to see it wasn’t all about her, maybe more should be focused on the fellow or on something together. Too little too late. Her life motto perhaps She began to fear…rather than confront head on though, she retreated. She refused. She let the fellow become his own again. An attempt to make him happy. Back off platypus, let the fellow be himself. The rope they had been twisting was unravelling on itself. She became more desperate as he became more himself and less about them. She thought to grasp at straws bring him back to a we thought. Too little too late.
She began to realise she was unfit for this. He began to realise she was an unfit for him. He did the thing. He walked…away.
A new feeling for the platypus. Where love had been was now only pain and emptiness. Knives digging. Wishful thinking of something to carve it all out. This black hole in her chest. Carve it out. Nothing where love once resided. Sometimes her heart felt bruised and battered. Mostly it felt missing. It had been replaced by pain, fear, mistrust, sorrow.
The platypus played along (mostly), she was all right (maybe), she didn’t need help (don’t come closer), and time passed.
Mostly together she gathered herself and went out. To find?
A chance meeting. A new old face. Jokes were shared. Laughter.
Daytime arrived as it must. Uncertainty crept in…while the platypus remained. The platypus was worried. She thought it would fade. Worried she had scared it away.
The lights came on, the season began to change. Time became noticeable again. She thought she could start to appreciate her stillness, her time. She began to try to see what she really wanted. Not what she thought she was supposed, what she thought she ought to. She wasn’t the best at her new stillness. She griped. She complained. A lot.
But she did begin to accept and enjoy. The simpler was that. Simple. Joyous. A child’s smile. Silliness with a sisterfriend. Home cooked meals. Washing dishes. Coffee mornings. Afternoon teas. Sunlight on snow. Trees.
There was no ‘new beginning’ there was no ‘this is where I start living my life’ thoughts. The platypus’s heart still felt missing, she still mistrusted, but she tried to remember this was her life. She wasn’t going to stop living.
True. She had paused.
She had lost.
But that was ok.
She was still a platypus.
She was a different one then when the story had started, but still a platypus.
In the other room, Theodore sits quietly working on his painting. It’s of Herculean-era hydras and centaurs in an endearingly childish composition. He has a bowl of crackers put in front of him, placed by the art teacher as a snack while he’s working - like every time he comes. Theodore is twenty years old. He has some sort of autism spectrum disorder. He comes every Tuesday to the studio to paint and draw; a sort of release for him.
Darren sits across from him. Darren’s a fairly loud person, always looking for some fun and never taking anything too seriously. He spots Theodore’s bowl of crackers, and assuming (not unreasonably) that it was for everyone, he takes one. Theodore, still under the impression the contents of the bowl belong to himself, shouts out in indignation: “HEY HEY HEY!”
Darren bursts out in laughter. A few other people in the room did as well. The tone of Theodore’s voice - juvenile and slightly nasal - is too much for them.
And so Darren takes one more. Another outburst. “STOP IT! THAT’S MINE!” But no explanation that the bowl was indeed communal is offered. Darren just takes another one. And Theodore continues to cry out. And people continue to laugh.
And there I am, one room over, listening to this. Not moving. Sitting there and painting my stupid little picture.
Cute emails I get because I work at a K-8
Greetings Staff -
I have a big favor to ask. A Bear student, Antonio, is going to be writing a non-fiction story on Michael Jordan. What I need are some resources.
- Does anyone have any Jordan books?
- Has anyone been to a Bulls game and seen him play?
- Is anyone a big Jordan fan and knows a lot about him?
Antonio can conduct his research by interviewing, watching videos, and reading.
We are also looking for people who would be willing to be interviewed about the following:
- Dogs (Are you an owner)?
- Dancers and Singers (Brian - we could use your help)
- Games - Coach Laura
- Puerto Rico
i work with really nice people
- Matt: Oh wow, I didn't see you there. You kinda blend into the the background sometimes.
- Me: Are you saying I'm just a piece of furniture?
- Matt: Well, more like a box of flip-flops since that's all we've got here in the backroom.
- Greg: You have the personality of a box flip-flops, but you may be slightly more sassy.
My aunt called my mom today and asked her a question that I hope never comes to fruition.
“If I tell John* to leave, can Lissa* and I move in with y’all?”
Mom said yes, of course. Though she did ask a question of her own. “If your alimony/child support money is paying for the house, why would you be the one to leave?” It’s a valid question. John does not have a job, does nothing but yard work all day, and yet my aunt thinks she should be the one to leave. She always does this. She’s the one that leaves, runs away, starts over. The other person always gets to keep the house, the pets, the stability, the town.
Apparently the reason for this abrupt question is that John has been getting onto Lissa more and more and my aunt thinks he is too tough. John is a boyfriend. He is 17 years younger than my aunt. He is not Lissa’s father. My aunt has every right to tell him to lay off her daughter. He gets mad and goes silent when my aunt tells him to stop punishing Lissa so harshly.
I don’t know what’s going to happen. I love Lissa and my aunt, but I don’t want them moving in. I’d end up taking Lissa to school in the mornings next fall, and my mom would end up picking her up in the afternoons. My aunt would have to get a job, which she’s successfully avoided for over a year.
Stage Presence, Nonfiction
“Cover yourselves!” he screamed in our faces repeatedly as his lanky legs straddled the top of the fridge in our friend’s oddly configured house. His eyes were as wild as his hair as he pointed to the tattoo spanning across his ribs and leaking onto his stomach. It pictured a determined looking Statue of Liberty; plane in one resolute hand, her body turned towards the twin towers. I shook my head slowly and turned away.
There was nowhere to turn. The slightly spiraling staircase was packed, faces oozing from underneath arms and hands pulling at clothing and other hands. I glanced nervously to the top of the staircase, but knitted bodies blocked my gaze. I peeled off my snow-covered jacket, my skin prickling with the sudden change of temperature. Cindy grimaced at me from the bottom of the stairs, her pretty round face contorting as she moved her body limb-by-limb trying to reach me.
“This place is fucking packed” she muttered when she finally reached my side. I nodded, and pulled her into line with me behind the last faceless face. Girls in tight skirts and glassy eyes pushed past us, elbows sharp and unnoticing. Three lines formed as we held our places amongst the disobedient salmon. These girls were in the middle line. The line that was probably fucking somebody in the house, the line that thinks that revealing shirts mean respect instead of a free solo cup of beer.
Pushed against the wall, the smell of beer and bodies as suffocating as the crowd itself, we waited. A nondescript boy tried pushing past, and he hit me or spilled on Cindy in the process. I don’t remember specifics, just that a faint glitter of red colored everything in the room.
“Where the hell do you think your going?” I squawked angrily. The conversation that followed was full of sharp words and furious looks. We discovered that we both were there to see the same person, Mike Sung, but it was too late for us to make friends with one another. A pair of girls pushed past excitedly, blocking the boy from sight. They giggled nonsensically as they ignored the pointed looks of the growing line. Cindy knew one of them, and I recognized another, a girl named Natasha. Her hair had been dreaded before, always in half ponytails with funky beads dispersed throughout. Her features seemed disturbingly rearranged with her new short shag cut, less friendly almost. I shook the thought from my mind and stared forward.
We reached the top of the stairs, ready to put our coats in Mike’s room. To my dismay the landing was a mob that rivaled the staircase. I spotted Mike, a beautiful Asian boy in a pastel shirt pumping a keg with a wicked grin on his face. Cindy and I gave him hugs, told him that the boys said hello and that they hadn’t wanted to navigate the staircase.
My eyes swept the second floor landing as we talked to Mike, scanning faces and immediately forgetting their contents. He wasn’t there. I sighed audibly.
“Yessss, I cut my dreads off” an annoyed voice came from the corner. I turned my head to see Natasha’s face. Her pinched expression quickly changed to one of joy as she dangled a set of keys for an unknown audience. She stood in front of a door, smiling broadly. Was it his door? The cogs of my muddled brain began turning as I thought of my conversation with Mike from the night before.
“I wouldn’t Lauren, he told me he’s thinking about asking a girl out” a sloppy Mike had spilled these words from his typically tight lips. I shook my head and cleared the memory. Another quickly popped in its place.
“Meredith asked him to go to coffee with her and he told her he isn’t looking for a girlfriend” my concerned roommate whispered in the library. I had nodded slowly, accepting that timing was everything. Meredith was after all, a beautiful Amazon of a girl.
“Lauren look what you did” he teased as someone pushed past me, my beer slopping over the rim of my cup covering the dirty basement floor. His coffee cup eyes unnerved me in a way that I had not experienced since the ninth grade when Trey Reinhart had sent me on my very first lovesick whirlwind of many.
I am the starring actress in my own melodrama, I write the script in the wee hours of the night, and I direct from in front of the camera. I bark orders and become upset when my fellow actors cannot seem to see the artistic integrity behind each scene, when they try to go off on their own self-created tangents. Boys are no exception. I will build your character around a pair of eyes that remind me of my Grandfather’s favorite coffee, or a voice that wraps its velvety texture around my throat, making me breathless.
He was no exception. His hockey-player build and parted hair scream of a different decade. I was hooked, and he had no idea. So I attended parties that I wouldn’t normally, I analyzed the few interactions that we had shared, and my mind raced to fill in the many blanks that come from having a monster crush on someone that might as well be a perfect stranger.
“It’s ok, we all get drunk sometimes,” he told me after I apologized for an embarrassing message I had sent him on Facebook a few weeks before. I hadn’t been drunk, just upset that a piece of my script hadn’t gone according to plan.