martes, mayo 31, 2005


ay chihuahua

totally unexpectedly, i'm teaching summer school. i got a call from a friend today at 5 pm, talked to the principal at 6, training starts bright and early tomorrow, and the kids come on monday. 5th grade math, bilingual. so it seems la maestra will have PLENTY of things to talk about as her summer is cut from eight weeks to two (four weeks of summer school + two weeks of various first grade trainings). and la artista will still have plenty of time to paint in the afternoons, she'll just have to stop going out late at night and painting until dawn. i subbed for 5th and 6th grade math for a month at my old charter school last year, doing lesson plans and the whole shebang. it was fine, but i'm slightly worried about expressing myself clearly in spanish when it comes to integers, exponents, and god knows what else that is on the TAKS test.


mi obra

i'm working on uploading all my unsigned paintings (my anonymity is slowly dwindling but whatever) onto my flickr site, but for now you can check out one of the two paintings i submitted for sale at a major art show this summer. it's called el colás and we decided to price it at $215. i decided to leave all pricing up to my best friend. the numbers seem totally arbitrary but she's putting into account the size of the work, work hours, other people's prices, etc. i think just to be a smartass i'll start pricing things at odd numbers like $67.94 and $312.08. but first let's see if these two pieces sell. wish me luck!

sábado, mayo 28, 2005



back in the day, before i even thought about being a maestra, i used to do a little graphic design. mostly i worked for a well-known local musician doing web stuff, which later led to some t-shirt and album design plus some other random little projects. once i got into teaching, i abandoned all that and focused on the children. all my artistic efforts were devoted to educational materials. that was it.

after i became single in december for the first time in seven years, i started getting pretty bored and lonely. i decided to try my hand at painting again. i spent last summer in méxico and took a painting class with some pretty good results, but i didn't have access to the same mediums i used there, so i bought a bunch of acrylics and went to town. my degree of school-related stress determined how much time i was able to devote to painting, but i was able to crank out several good pieces in the last few months.

today, that local musician's manager and i had brunch. since he was always a big fan of my work, i brought several paintings to show him today. his enthusiasm was exactly the boost i needed. in the last three hours, i have made a helluva lot of progress on three paintings that i will be submitting to a major art show in south texas in june. he's gonna try to get my work shown in stores/galleries in tucson and l.a. later in the summer. i'll have photos up later in the week. until then, la maestra is on hiatus while la artista tries to bust some ass.


honor thy teacher

here's a good article that addresses teacher salaries, courtesy of madhatter.

i lost my fucking cafe tacuba tickets and it's driving me CRAZY. dammit dammit dammit.

viernes, mayo 27, 2005


holy holy

who knew teachers could stay up drinking until 5 am on a school night? oh WAIT, school's OUT!!!

before i shower and head back to school to toss that damned aquarium and turn in my keys, here are my responses to some weird game that madhatter passed along to me. you pick five sentence starters to write about and three people to "challenge". here are my responses, and i'm tagging gustavo, adjunct kait and dree.

if I could be a scientist...If I could be a farmer...If I could be a musician...If I could be a doctor...If I could be a painter...If I could be a gardener...If I could be a missionary...If I could be a chef...If I could be an architect...If I could be a linguist...If I could be a psychologist...If I could be a librarian...If I could be an athlete...If I could be a lawyer...If I could be an inn-keeper...If I could be a professor...If I could be a writer...If I could be a llama-rider...If I could be a bonnie pirate...If I could be an astronaut...If I could be a world famous blogger...If I could be a justice on any one court in the world...If I could be married to any current famous political figure...

if i could be a painter i would do rivera-esque murals in public schools, rec centers, parks, etc. i'd start an art school and have free classes for kids. i'd take on middle and high schoolers as apprentices and would have shows exhibiting their work that traveled the world. we'd do exchange programs with students in other countries and go on international field trips to study different techniques, cultures, artistic movements, and people.

if i could be a doctor i would work in the neonatal intensive care unit. my mom always pushed me to go to med school since medicine is the family trade, but it just wasn't for me. i wish i had the resolute strength and fantastic memory necessary to work in the nicu, those doctors are amazing.

if i could be a chef i would open a panaderia with modern flair. i'd make eight-tier wedding cakes, gorgeous meringues, volovanes, and -cause i'm from texas- some killer brisket.

if i could be an architect i'd design children's cancer/aids/diabetes/etc. centers in a gaudi-esque style. i don't know if that's kind of weird or morbid to make such centers look like fun places, but i think it's better than boring and clinical.

if i could be a musician, i would bring down the house every night. we'd do entire evenings of my favorite covers, i'd call up my good famous musician buddies at the drop of a hat for duets and collaborations (yeah bono, we've got this gig tonight... slash, you wanna play backup next week? elfego, ¡vente y canta conmigo!), and i'd be fantastic at every instrument. i could play the harmonica, accordion, a snare drum and sing simultaneously. and of course i'd give all my money to charity.

jueves, mayo 26, 2005


asi, asi

i didn't shed a tear on the last day of school because instead of giving my kids heartfelt goodbyes i had to deal with the mother of the only student in my class who ended up being retained. she feigned total ignorance about his retainment and insisted on seeing the paperwork declaring him as such. once i pointed out the exact text, she threw the report card at her son and announced "no me importa nada si estás reprobado." great attitude, lady.

i'll get into the details of his retainment later. i'm proud to say i cleaned and organized my room almost to the point that i was ready for clearance, save for the fact that my damned aquarium (the guppies just won't die!!!) needs to emptied out somewhere and i need to talk to the custodian about it since it is NOT going home with me. things are pretty ship-shape, all things considered. mad props to my friends that came to help!

la maestra also got her nose pierced last night! we'll call it a quarter-life crisis. i'm doing a tattoo design for a friend and i think i have the itch to get one of those, too. although i'm going to school tomorrow -BRIEFLY- to get clearance and turn in my keys, the summer lovin' begins now... off to meet some bilingual teacher buddies at a bar! wheeeee, it's SUMMER!!!

martes, mayo 24, 2005


la ahogada

too... much... paperwork...

we have an end-of-year checklist that is FOUR PAGES LONG. the teacher that had my classroom in the fall didn't do zilch in terms of preparing students' cumulative folders. and i have approximately 83 bazillion things to inventory over the next two days since i can't toss anything without writing it down first. blah.

on a totally unrelated note, i LOVE boxing. the contender finale rocked and my baby sergio from east l.a. (aka the latin snake) brought it down. in the words of my other favorite boxer alfonso, ¡viva méxico!

hopefully the next two nights should be filled with rest and celebration... plus a little what-the-hell nose-piercing! i'm going to be submitting some art in a summer art show so i'll try to devote my free time in the next few days to that. whenever i return, i'll do a little reflection on my first year, best practices, and advice to future teachers. i've been avoiding addressing some current educational events that really get my goat just because i don't have this blog to rant about politics, so those of you who have come looking for things of that ilk, sorry to disappoint you. however, to update the nightmare mom situation: today, after the pajama party (no s'mores even though i got all the supplies! we saw a 5th grade exhibit and had only 1.5 hrs left so we read/colored under the tables with flashlights --you have NO IDEA how excited they got!-- and watched a movie. oh well, they had fun and looked cute and enjoyed the glow-in-the-dark stars and x-mas lights i put up) and water day (also a smashing success), la crazy asked me what i do on saturdays. i admitted that once summer began, i had no clue. then she said she would love it if i could come over for dinner sometime to eat with her family. in conclusion:

hell hath frozen over. goodnight.

domingo, mayo 22, 2005


están invitados

a good friend of mine and i have been rather annoyed with ourselves for not reading literature in spanish since we graduated from college (local feature magazines, Glamour En Español and ¡Mira! don't count, we've finally admitted this to ourselves). summer school and trainings notwithstanding, we've decided that our "summer off" should be well spent by means of a Spanish book club. personal enrichment and vocabulary development, what could be more fun?

since i know you're now intrigued, here's what you should do to join:
1) send me your name, email, location and degree of Spanish fluency (basically, we don't want to look like chumps but it's always nice have someone smarter than you to rely on for fuzzy metaphors and unfamiliar cultural/historical references)
2) buy one of the following books: Bendíceme Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya or Mi país inventado by Isabel Allende. neither book is supposed to be especially difficult, but if you've never read a novel in spanish before this may not be a good place to start. i'd suggest children's literature or short stories to anyone who needs a less daunting task (and if you'd like a list of specific suggestions, i'd be happy to help you out).
3) now that i think about, we can also do an english option, but you'll have to promise to read while drunk so that you're struggling a little bit, too.

i'm not really sure what all (how texan am i?) this will entail, but we want to make it entertaining AND educational... sans the powerpoint presentations, chapter summaries, and book reports that made stuff like this boring in high school. if our fellow clubbers live in texas, that might even be a good excuse for a roadtrip =)

i hope some of you are interested! meeting random folks from the internets is always fun, no? keep it real, i'm off to pack up my classroom. the teacher that was there in the fall left approximately 18 boxes of useless shit* for me to inventory and redistribute (cause you KNOW i'm not wasting space in my class with things i have no use for! i'm talking about english materials from the 70s, an entire box of YARN, etc.). i broke three nails friday afternoon, let's see if i can polish the rest off today.

update: add to the list of useless shit a container full of plastic eggs, dozens of kid-size plastic mugs and glasses, a light-up black cat and pumpkin, tinsel, several ratty baskets, and two containers of disgusting used children's toys.

a few words of advice to new teachers who are cleaning out closets: just because it's laminated does not mean it's important. seasonal items are not worth keeping if they are not easy to store and keep dust-free. and organize, organize, ORGANIZE! and label, label, LABEL! yeesh. the custodians are gonna kill me when they figure out that i'm responsible for filling up all the trash cans over the weekend.

viernes, mayo 20, 2005



la maestra cannot handle friday happy hours. it's been a ridiculously long week and i'm about ready to pass out. please note, it is 7:48 pm.

first of all, in my mareada state, i'd like to say props to the mommies who are crazy and able to admit it. secondly, those of us who are less-than-perfect shouldn't have to apologize for it.

thirdly. i'm really starting to dig the staff at my school. we're undergoing a huge staffing change where lots of folks are moving grade levels. the first grade team is gonna kick ass because they're adding another bilingual teacher who i love. second grade is changing completely, and two of the new teachers include the best friend of the future first grade bilingual teacher (whom i also love, coincidentally) and my buddy who supposedly got me my job. nice to work in a wing with people you like and are chummy with. by the time i made it to happy hour, it was just those folks and my favorite fifth grade teacher. a couple more cool folks showed up and then the principal, who is surprisingly cool outside of work. yay for good co-workers! after a long talk with mh and reading megan's blog, i realize that i'm pretty lucky.

fourthly... i think i intended to make a list of some sort when i first signed into blogger but now i'm intensely sleepy. goodnight.

jueves, mayo 19, 2005


lastimada por primera vez

(pre-script: the title of this post is to be sung to the tune of enrique iglesias' "enamorado por primera vez", with voice cracking out of emotion)

i have a million thoughts floating around my head right now. i have student awards to write out, assignments that need to be graded and recorded, and report cards. tonight will be spent at home in front of the tv surrounded by papers.

today i experienced my first student-caused injury. i was attacked by a flying pencil, which landed exactly in the middle of my left eye. he who i affectionally call "the pisser" (seriously, in class he's fine and i have few problems with him, all of his issues relate to being outdoors) had just finished organizing math manipulatives and came to the carpet to tell me. i was sitting with another student doing my language proficiency testing and he was waiting quite patiently, swinging his arm back and forth. it just so happened that when i turned to talk to him, the pencil flew out of his hand and went straight for my eye.

i wear contacts and have had glasses since i was six, so objects hitting my eyes has been my longest-standing and greatest fear.

my kids were pretty shocked, i guess since typically the pisser assaults them and not the teacher (that's a joke, people). several of them came to hug me and i sat there frozen with my hand covering my eye as tears streamed down the left side of my face. it took about two minutes for my eye to stop throbbing, after which point i started freaking out about my contact. greatest fear, remember? i had the pisser sit down next to me and gave him a hug since i knew what happened was unintentional, then had the teacher next door look at my embarassingly red and watery eye. she made me see the school nurse. do i wear waterproof mascara? of course not. i looked like an idiot, i'm sure. and my eye still kinda hurts. but holy holy, imagine if it had been the other side of the pencil! worse nightmare come true, just thinking about it gives me the shivers.

now as for this proficiency testing: this shit is tricky. i hate reading off cues and trying to judge whether my kid with a speech impediment should be given some slack when he drops the "s" from a word. even more, i hate it when the language used on the test is super academic, artificial, or my personal pet peeve, uses a dialect that my kids aren't familiar with. a simple word like "abrigo" is foreign to them. stupid tests.

our "jump in the line" choreography has changed every day. wish our kiddos luck tomorrow at the school-wide performance. oh, and i need help! next week, we are having a pajama party to celebrate our kids' reaching their reading goals. what we've got so far is that they can wear pajamas and read books in the dark using flashlights. or something like that. any cute ideas to help kick it up a notch? i also need help coming up with some theme-related snacks.

miércoles, mayo 18, 2005



i'm going crazy with the posts tonight, aren't i? this week i created an email address for the handful of you that might want to communicate for the purposes of surveys, interviews, etc. i got a very lengthy message today from a reader who had quite a bit to say, and i feel the need to clarify a few things for those of you who don't know me personally. here we go:

1) as stated in the title bar, this is my first year teaching. this blog exists as an outlet for me to destress and share the ups and downs of life as a newbie. sometimes it's great, but sometimes it sucks. yadda yadda yadda.
2) i am a sarcastic person. i curse quite heavily when i'm not around children. if you're LITERATE, this should not be news to you, but this is my personality and i have no intention of apologizing for it.
3) sorry to state the obvious here, but i love kids. i love teaching them. the harder the situation, the more dedicated i am. i deliberately chose to pursue a career in bilingual education rather than in "regular ed" because i knew an extreme need existed for qualified and caring teachers. i didn't take a single spanish class before switching my major to education and spent an extra year and a half in college just to get to the point where i could honestly be considered fluent in the language. no matter how bitchy or annoyed i may sound at times, i have zero regrets about what i'm doing and why i'm doing it.
4) that said, i am not a puppies/kitties/rainbows/flowers/yay-happiness kind of person. i'm not going to fill this blog with successful lesson plans, photos of my students' gifts and work, and curriculum information. if you're a teacher, you know the rewards already. you know that's why you stay in the game. strangely, i'm content sharing my joys and successes with people in real life, but the anxieties must be made available to as many people as possible. tell me, internet, are you going to be more entertained by the story of crazy mothers going at it at track & field day or by juan carlos finally writing a sentence with a period at the end? my kids kick ass, but it's been a rough semester and i'm not going to play down a single second of it.
5) almost done... my sense of professionalism was brought up, specifically my "bragging about how many movies i'm going to show this week". dude. like i said, SARCASM. do i want to waste these last five days with mindless nonsense? of course i don't. but when i'm responsible for giving two tests to 30 children in less than a week, i'm not left with a whole lot of options when all textbooks have already been turned in and the tests require me to focus on individual students thus drastically minimizing my ability to interact with anyone else at the same time. if you're a teacher, you should understand this, i don't know why i have to spell it out. some people make busy work out of necessity, others out of convenience. i am definitely not the latter.
6) want to hear more about lesson and activity development for bilingual students? email me. i see lesson plans all day, the last thing i want to do is outline them at night. i'm happy to share ideas to help others, and i'll certainly post about something that's particularly successful or useful, but like i said, that's not the point of this blog.

the beauty of the internet is its self-censorship. you don't like my blog, don't read it. don't link it. there are plenty of fuzzy, feel-good teachers out there, and there are lots of us that like a little room to vent.

last but not least, how sweet that my "spanglish" is "unique and fun" to at least one of you out there. that's exactly the response i was trying to elicit! buenas nachos!

*i'm pms'ing, can you tell?


has this made the national news yet?

sucks to teach pre-k in austin, but the sickos have got it pretty good.

and if you know any anorexic high school seniors who are at the head of their class, tell them to keep it together until october. at least if they live in houston or the surrounding area.

god bless texas.


the bitch is back

(a literal title as well as an elton john reference. this weekend's 5-hr long car drive was spent listening to EJ's greatest hits, a helluva lot of billy joel, and other assorted tunes that aren't particularly cool for a couple 20somethings to be jamming out to, but WHATEVUH...)

just when i thought i could do no wrong (what with these FIVE DAYS LEFT OF SCHOOL and all), ¡pataplum! nightmare mom showed up after school to ask if she could set up a parent conference. my face has never been able to lie, so i'm sure my incredulity showed immediately. so she mentioned that perhaps she should go directly to the asst. principal. whaaaat? well, yeah, there's not generally a need for parent conferences in mid-fucking-May, but if she wants to talk, FINE. i sent my kids who were still waiting to be picked up with another teacher and did some furious silent mouthing to the asst. principal who happened to be walking by, then very calmly sat down to listen to yet another tirade.

on monday, the day that the world's worst sub (who, i forgot to mention, took off exactly at 2:45 without walking the kids out. fantastic.) was in my class, nightmare mom's son was kicked in the neck by the child of another metiche mother. nightmare mom called me midday yesterday to let me know about "the situation", and although i spoke with the accused child, i forgot to serve his punishment during recess since TAKS retesting kept us inside all day long. today at lunch, nightmare mom & dad were in the cafeteria and overheard metiche's kid bragging "¡no me castigaron!" and what was i planning on doing about it because this is the THIRD time that kids have been making fun of her little precious and she doesn't know if it's racism or what but she's not going to stand for it. in fact, she'll talk to the asst. principal, and if he continues to blow her off, she'll take this all the way to the district! she's not scared! in fact, it makes her furious that her child is being treated this way!

seeing as how shit never goes down when i'm actually there, i was kind of at a loss for how i could help her. it's also difficult because precious never tells me about this stuff himself; i always hear about it the next day from his mama. i simply told her that tomorrow we will have a talk as a class about respect and taking responsibility for one's actions, and i will do the best i can these last days of school. that's the most generous offer i've got amidst all this dance-preparing, testing, and room-cleaning. but to be honest with you, my bloggy friends who know what it's like and don't care if i bitch, i am counting every blessed second that brings me closer to the moment when precious is finally OUT OF MY CLASS and nightmare mom is OUT OF MY LIFE... unless, of course, her toddler makes it to first grade and i'm still there =) can you say "formal request to change student placement"? ya basta con esas tonterías.

martes, mayo 17, 2005


con mucho cariño

Querido paperwork & last-minute testing,

Please go away. Do not come again another day. When I bury you underneath my students' homework and behavior sheets, be a doll and disappear. But be sure to erase my principal's memory right after you disappear. Thanks.

La maestra

End of year paperwork and checklists are stupid. There are a bazillion things that I would have plenty of time to do if my 6- and 7-yr-old students could work totally independently all day long OR if i could use my entire planning and lunch times, plus 4.5 hours after school, every day for a week to inventory books and materials, type up then print out then copy by hand onto another sheet that is not available online test data, collect grades, do report cards, and do the language proficiency tests that the counselor brought up to me like so:

Mr. Counselor: "Do you know what serendipity is?"
La maestra: "Yeah, sure."
Mr. C: "A random act of good luck."
La maestra: "Yeah, like the movie."
Mr. C: "Well, I've got some anti-serendipity for you."

I'm an agreeable person and accepted very quickly this testing double-duty that has been thrust upon me with six days left of school. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to bitch about it on my blog. Luckily, my awesome 1st grade teammates busted some serious ass with me after school, and out of EIGHT PAGES of inventoried texts and materials that the previous teacher checked out in august, i was missing only ONE set of cassette tapes. we figure cassettes will be obsolete soon enough that they probably won't even charge our grade level account, knock on wood. so as i was handed a helluva lot of work, i got a helluva lot of work done in the same day.

the jump in the line dance is looking kinda messy at the moment, but we're hoping to fix the thrashing and raucous hip-shaking by giving kids signs and tambourines (by "fix" i mean "distract the viewer", and by "signs" i mean paper plates with letters that spell "jump in the line", "shake" and "work" in indiscernable glitter). we spent 80% of the morning language arts block listening or dancing to the song and making various paper/glitter products for the performance. our afternoon math block was spent with a very long group read-aloud of eric carle's la mariquita malhumorada followed by the making of construction paper ladybugs. to make it educational, they had to copy a blurb from the book about how ladybugs eat aphids and therefore make plants happy.

i know, i'm out of control with this badass teaching. today i hit up the library and got a dozen books about insectos, which they'll be able to share-read for about an hour before i pop in one of the four movies they'll be watching the rest of the week. feels like i've been doing this for YEARS.

lunes, mayo 16, 2005


just for the homies

check out the personal blog to see the tattoo designs i did over the weekend. i've also got the photo i'm using for my art show entry and i need advice about how to do the guys face in the masking style.



the only thing that can ruin an otherwise great day off is coming to school at the end of the day for a meeting to find out that your room is A PINCHE DESMADRE. the tables were literally covered with papers, shit was rearranged, *my* desk was covered with all kinds of shit that totally didn't belong on it, namely off-limits toys and treats, kids were going through my caja de tesoro (which is ONLY to be opened para la rifa los viernes, they fucking KNOW this), AND they were watching a random movie.

once again, it is quite impressive how well i handle anger these days. i simply asked for two volunteers, instructed them that they were in charge of assuring that no one left until the classroom looked how it SHOULD, then said "nos vemos". little do they know we are having one of my now notorious "tenemos que hablar" moments first thing tomorrow morning, and we will be spending their quiet reading or activity time making sure that every little last damned thing is back in its proper place tomorrow. perhaps i never mentioned that i'm anal-retentive about my room?

para la maestras que enseñan en mi distrito: i plan on giving each of you this substitute idiot's name and ID number. it's all about the BLACKBALLING from here on out.

y sabes qué?

QUEDAN SIETE DIAS MAS. insert grito here. we're spending the rest of the week practicing our routine for friday's school dance. i decided this afternoon that the whole first grade will be performing "jump in the line (shake shake senora)". it will be fabulous. i will make them dance with more empty threats of taking away their popsicle party. mwahahaha. who's yo' maestra?


beer & learning in lubbock, tx

it has been an interesting weekend. my motley crue of lifelong friends watched our "little sister" graduate from college. she's secured herself a job with a prestigious hotel in irving, where we're apt. hunting tomorrow (oh the joys of taking personal days off!). right now i'm at her brother's, who is a law student/bodybuilder in ft. worth. her other brother is a wannabe rock 'n roll star (he just got a horrible fashion victim haircut that reminds us of little nicky) who is still finishing off his undergrad degree in lubbock (he managed to get himself kicked out of physical therapy school). and i'm the maestra, and the only one not related by blood.

i've been to lubbock only once before, about five years ago for a pearl jam concert. i was unsuprised by the lack of racial, class, and cultural diversity. this time was much more eye-opening. after the graduation ceremony, we went to a graduation party celebrating our li'l sis and four of her friends. this house was pure texas all the way... past the cotton fields on the edge of the city (funny how out there the country is still part of the city), their backyard included plenty of room to accomodate their two horses. horseshoes, iron lone stars, and The Great State of Texas were common motifs throughout the house. totally insane. i met lots of good ol' cowboys and their good ol' ladies, very nice and friendly people. and damn, can they cook! afterwards, as we argued about where to start drinking, we remembered that the trinidad fight was on Pay-Per-View. as a lifelong hater of trinidad, it was important that i saw him get a much-deserved ass-whooping, so we decided to stop off at rock star's friend's house. in stark contrast to the 99% white country crowd at the grad party, this group was puro mexicanos. boxing on the big screen, pork chops on the grill, and plenty of beer for all. i asked if they had any mexican beer, and they answered "Bud Light!" with a grin. those are my kind of folks! we talked shit about boxers, drank heartily, and i heard "vato" and "mamon" more in those few hours than ever before in my life.

then it was time to head downtown. it was a pretty standard night out drinking with good frinds, but it reminded me how important it is to be open to forgiveness with your friends. before i went to mexico last year, i could hold one hell of a grudge. upon my return, i started to chill out a lot more and realize that people are far from perfect. i am a person with high expectations and consequently often found myself disappointed when people didn't live up to who or what i thought they should be. the last time i saw one of my lubbock friends, we had a horrible fight with lots of cruel things said and a few tears shed. this time, we had zero animosity and some really good conversations. people can be assholes, this is no surprise. but i'm no longer interested in holding that against them. i'll even go so far as to say that sometimes, just sometimes, even i can be an asshole, too. i'm glad that things turned out like they did. makes me feel like i'm actually growing as a person.

my favorite moments: stopping by a place called "Nothin' Butt Smokes", finding a bar in northwest Texas that sells Sol, seeing hydroelectric windmills outside of Fluvanna, hearing a great joke about gay horses (PLEASE ask me to retell it in person!), stuffing myself silly with grilled pork products, coffee with my parents' best friends, and reaffirming that you don't need to have a blood relation to have someone be your family.

my least favorite moments: three-hour long graduation ceremony, law student's constant farting in the car, terrible depot district cover bands, and the world's most disgusting women's restroom.

sábado, mayo 14, 2005



today was filled with chisme. and teacher bitchery. at school, after school with a friend, then at night at a party filled with teachers and future teachers. i officially know three people that will be in teach for america in the fall. thoughts on this program? as a former americorps member i have very strong anti-TFA sentiments, but before i hop on my soapbox i thought i'd open this up to you guys first. moreover, i'm going out of town in six hours so you can keep things hopping in the comments while i'm gone. or not. lo que sea. i'll be visiting buddy holly's hometown, don't be jealous!

jueves, mayo 12, 2005


what the hell is going on

some dude selling paletas just rolled his cart by my house. i live in a 95% anglo neighborhood on the side of town with the least number of hispanics. weirdness.

yesterday a friend and i witnessed a lady brushing her teeth as she drove during rush hour. by the way, she did not spit. BLECH.

it is may in texas. why isn't it ridiculously hot yet? furthermore, since it IS so damned mild, why do so many men still find it appropriate to drive around shirtless? no thank you.

my kids are going absolutely fucking bonkers. it is amazing how calm i manage to stay when i'm furious with them. how easy it is for me to ignore the crybabies. how important it is that there are NINE DAYS LEFT OF SCHOOL.

and i decided that in those nine days, i will hold a popsicle and pajama parties over their heads to keep them in check. and we will study bugs, because i feel like it. and that will involve a good deal of movie-watching. and we will measure bookshelves because they need to be moved, and students with excellent behavior will get the privilege of helping me rearrange furniture while the others do worksheets out of their texts.

oooh, i almost forgot! the pisser came back today after his one day suspension. he had stellar behavior all morning, and after we got to the playground i had a talk with him about what he had to do to have recess privileges for the rest of the school year. we laid down the rules and we shook hands. then two minutes later a kid runs up to me and says he spit on another students's head.

it's all going downhill, folks.

miércoles, mayo 11, 2005



damn my kids are good at soccer. with the pisser suspended and our read aloud to kinder postponed, we went to recess in the morning and no one had to sit out next to me finishing work or reading. i wandered over to the field to watch my boys up close for the first time in months. all but one boy were playing soccer and they kick SO MUCH ASS. good shots and blocks all around and one of them even uses his head to keep the ball in play. i was very enthusiastic, especially when goals were made, and it was awfully nice to see the pride in their eyes. i was invited to play but politely declined since i was wearing chanclas and have an unfortunate toenail malfunction due to a late-night dancing mishap. next time, definitely.


martes, mayo 10, 2005



my eHarmony 3-month membership ended today. i closed my account. one guy in three months is just not worth the extra cash. i'll take my chances at shows, bars, etc.

the pisser is suspended. monday he got in a fight at recess, so i made him sit out. once his ass sat down he claimed he had a nosebleed. he didn't. i look over five minutes later and he's gone, so i freaked out and searched the playground and track.. no sight of him. eventually one kid says he's hiding in the bathroom, so i sent two chamacos to go get him. when they didn't come back after five minutes, i had another teacher watch my kids and stormed off to the boys bathroom. i saw my chamacos trying to get underneath a stall to retrieve the little fucker. after a couple minutes of yelling, he came out and claimed he came to the bathroom because his nose was bleeding badly. not a drop of blood on his shirt nor his face. LYING LITTLE FUCKER. so he's suspended. no recess privileges. next mishap is three days of suspension. i like how hardcore my asst. principal is.

i may be working summer school as either a sub or a teacher. totally wasn't planning on it, but my asst. principal and a couple friends will be working together at bilingual/esl summer school and it seems like a sweet deal.

and i'm tired. today was my university mentor's last day. my class is doing a "days left of school" countdown. we're at twelve. what can we learn in twelve days that won't be forgotten over two months of vacation?

lunes, mayo 09, 2005


mis condiciones

Si quieres casarte conmigo, éstas son mis condiciones:
Tendrás que freírme patatas y salchichas a montones,
remendar y zurcir los rotos de mis calcetines,
calmarme cuando esté nerviosa, o cuando tenga pena,
aprender a rascarme la espalda como Dios manda
y tener siempre mis zapatos limpios como una patena.
Y arrancar las malas hierbas cuando yo descanse,
y el día que caiga una nevada,
limpiar la nieve de la entrada... y callar cuando yo hable,
y... ¡eh! ... ¿adónde vas sin decir nada?

de Donde el camino se corta por Shel Silverstein



apologies to those that were expecting a post-date update; to make y'all happy, i'm breaking my personal rule by blogging from work (for a good reason NOT to blog from work, go to dooce).

we had dinner at a nice restaurant. i was totally not in the mood to go out and the nap i took left me a little grumpy, but i perked up once i got there. i don't know how i feel about all this dating business. it's so... annoying. looking for signals, gauging sanity and responsibility, trying to figure out levels of attraction, etc. STUPID. just like the last time, we had good conversation, made each other laugh, and discovered that we have a common acquaintance. he's a great listener when i tell stories about my kids which is a SUPER plus, and once again we ran into some of his friends at the restaurant. since this happened last time, there are two possible conclusions to be made:
1) it's a set-up to make him look good (although last night his couple friends were with their parents, so that's a bit of a stretch)
2) he's a likeable guy that knows a lot of people
i prefer to go with door #2. good sign. part of this whole internet set-up has left me very wary to trust him completely... remember that news story about the man who lied to his wife about his career and education? i'll look for a link when i get home. anyway, yes i'm being paranoid but i think i damned well better be.

bottom line: i don't find him unattractive and i definitely think he's a cool guy, but i'm not feeling a monstrous physical attraction. do i wait it out? the last two guys i dated were no Brad Pitts and i did not find myself particularly attracted to them physically. so i don't know. but there's a third date in the works, and my maestra friends tell me that date #3 means you're "dating". yeesh.

domingo, mayo 08, 2005



horrible weather made me leave my parents' house early so i could avoid the imminent tornado warning. damned texas weather. therefore, i am sitting at home with my kitties feeling bored and sleepy before my second eHarmony date. so i'm indulging myself:

The Giant Meme
1. IF YOU COULD BUILD A SECOND HOUSE ANYWHERE, WHERE WOULD IT BE? downtown Xalapa, Ver. Mex with a great view of the zócalo and Pico de Orizaba.
2. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE ARTICLES OF CLOTHING? i have lots of indian-style embroidered tunics that i love, a blue skirt with a crazy bird pattern, my red Mary Tyler Moore coat, and my shiny magenta heels
3. THE LAST CDs YOU BOUGHT? Cafe Tacuba, En Viaje; Ryan Adams, Cold Roses; Celia Cruz, Exitos
5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE KITCHEN APPLIANCE? Toaster oven or standing mixer
6. IF YOU COULD PLAY AN INSTRUMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE? lately i've been wanting to try my hand at the accordion, normally it would be either congas, tablas or a sitar
8. WHICH VEHICLE DO YOU PREFER, SPORTS CAR, MOTORCYCLE, OR SUV? i have an suv but i'd rather have a hybrid
10. FAVORITE CHILDREN'S BOOK? haroun & the sea of stories, animalia, all sandra boynton
12. IF YOU HAVE A TATTOO, WHAT IS IT? n/a but i want a hamza baaaaad
14. CAN YOU JUGGLE? eh, kinda
16. WHAT IS UNDER YOUR BED? a pair of socks and a hanger
17. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DAY? friday friday friday
18. WHICH DO YOU PREFER, SUSHI OR HAMBURGER? hamburger. with avocado, pineapple, and jalapeño, please.
19. FROM THE PEOPLE WHO NORMALLY READ YOUR BLOG, WHO IS THE MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND FIRST? hmm i don't think this warrants a response, but perhaps madhatter.
20. ON WHICH BLOG DID YOU FIND THIS MEME? office hours aka mommy prof
.21. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FLOWER? stargazer lilies & orchids
23. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEAL? aloo pouri, carmen's tacos de papa and tamales de puerco
24. DESCRIBE YOUR PJS. i have a million, no can do
25. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BREAKFAST? chilaquiles or migas tacos. yes, i like tortillas double time.
26. DO YOU LIKE YOUR JOB? yes, otherwise i'd be a serious masochist
27. WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB? rotating 1st grade and middle school spanish/geography teacher with extended weekends to allow me plenty of time to paint and sing in my fabulous gay cover band
28. WHAT AGE DO YOU PLAN TO RETIRE? 50. then i'm opening a bakery.


things i love about going home

2) bars with mariachis!
3) in the city i live in now, i can count the places that consistently sell Sol and horchata (my alcoholic and non-alcoholic mexican beverages of choice) on one hand. in my hometown, i've got about a 1 in 4 shot.
4) there is absolutely no chance that i will run into my students or their crazy parents
5) my best friend's family. i have to credit them with a lot of my spanish language learning. i spent most of my free time in high school hanging out at their house, where all chisme was spoken only in spanish. my nosy nature helped me catch on quickly, especially in the last few years-- now i know everybody's business! on the way to and from the graduation, we sang along to luis miguel and vicente fernández at the top of our lungs after my friend's father finished telling us his theory about the american popularization of 5 de mayo and the popular (anglo) obscurity of 16 de septiembre. at dinner, my friend's tío tried to hook me up with ugly people at the restaurant. back at the house, he ran smack into a screen door which gave me plenty of joke fodder for the rest of the night. they're good people.
6) my folks. have a happy mother's day!

sábado, mayo 07, 2005


canta y no llores

we had a smashing cinco de mayo party yesterday. in case i had any residual doubts about the existence of a gracious god, the crazies were unable to attend due to a previous field trip commitment. if ever there was a time when i almost jumped onto a table and did the cabbage patch, it was yesterday at 8:05 a.m. when i received the good news. yummy homemade mexican food came in all morning long (just as i planned! mwahahaha!) and i popped in a mariachi CD while we worked. when it was finally time to dig in, it was indeed absolutely fantastic: ensalada, flautas, tostadas, arroz, carne, tacos, salsa verde (and i'm not talking about the bottled shit) and pastel. one mom brought in what she called flautas but in veracruz those are called garnachas so i'm getting a little confused as to what makes a flauta... these things weren't rolled up. that's what makes a flauta by definition, no? anyway, i was so busy with party prep and our special area schedule change that i didn't even have time to check my email... that's serious, folks. the monolingual english teachers were very impressed by our spread... none of this store-bought cookies and sandwich crap! ay que no!

this next week, my kids will be reading letters and stories to the kindergarten classes. we practiced yesterday by reading cinco de mayo papers in front of pre-k. some of my guys totally sucked it up, which is sad since they spent an hour practicing reading aloud beforehand. luckily they at least got the gist of the reason behind cinco de mayo... one of the pre-k teachers is a friend of mine and he took the liberty of asking all kinds of nit-picky questions. while my kids may not accurately describe the weapons used in 1862 nor know which continent France is in (yeah, my friend can be a bit of an ass), they do know who Zaragoza is, that the French outnumbered the Mexicans in the Battle of Puebla, and that food is very very very important to any celebration. most of their papers went like so:

Celebramos el 5 de mayo porque los mexicanos peleaban con los franceses y los mexicanos ganó porque querían libertad. Hay bailes y cantan y comemos tamales y tacos y arroz y carne y puerco y pastel y enchiladas y flautas y mole y pollo y frutas. Fin.

Para los gringuitos: We celebrate Cinco de Mayo because the Mexicans fought the french and the Mexicans won because they wanted freedom. There are dances and they sing and we eat tamales and tacos and rice and meat and pork and cake and enchiladas and flautas and mole and chicken and fruit. The end.

i'm spending this weekend in the heart of south texas at my best friend's sister's college graduation. even the welcome signs at Wendy's are bilingual, i love it. sale.

jueves, mayo 05, 2005


caution, this is wind. wind, meet my good friend caution.

there are some facts that we've established:
1) my students' parents are absolutely insane.
2) i hate the PTA. although it's cute to see my kids "barn dance" to hokey music i would never listen to voluntarily, i think asking me to stay at school for 12 hours is a bit much.
3) the end is nigh.

some things i've learned in the last exhausting twelve hours:
1) the crazies can always get crazier. you give overzealous mamas a chance to see their children be quasi-competitive in a school-wide fun day and the overzealous mamas are more than likely to scream and shriek enthusiastically at first. but DO NOT BE FOOLED. their enthusiasm will quickly turn into anger and pettiness as they accuse la pobre maestra of unfairly organizing teams (we had an odd number, so they thought it only made sense that i, someone nearly 20 years older than my students, join the team that was one short. yeah. like i said, C-R-A-Z-I-E-S), they accuse the children themselves of cheating, and then to even the score THEY THEMFUCKINGSELVES start HELPING their kiddos cheat. while yelling in a quite grosero manner to the other students. if there weren't two weeks of school left (and if i knew for a fact that these people had stopped reproducing), i would have told them some serious shit. but alas, a teacher is also a public servant, and public servants just can't curse people out and expect to keep their jobs.
2) productive, independent work time is boring. but donuts are very good at keeping you occupied. my suggestion to all new teachers: keep some donuts handy.
3) apparently there is a ballet folklorico dance that involves guys and machetes. i do not think it is a good idea to have this dance presented in front of small children. i have visions of my kids trying out the moves at home. but with butter knives, i have to keep telling myself.
4) i love watching kids play. and dance. and explore things. just when i think i'm too tired to deal with anyone under four foot tall ever again, they surprise me. i've only known these kids for four months, but they became my kids long ago. i love them to death, and while i'm DYING for the year to finish, i will miss them like crazy. they may little mocosos at times, but they're my mocosos. sigh.

miércoles, mayo 04, 2005



props to carlos for telling me about statcounter. the opposite of props to carlos for turning me into an obsessive and paranoid maniac.

today, someone from my school district read my blog. h, if this is you, PLEASE let me know so i don't proceed to freak the hell out. someone from the u.s. dept. of education also read my blog. these two things are making me unbelievably paranoid. i've never ever EVER used anyone's real name and have tried to keep things that might indicate my location as under the radar as possible... but you never know!

that said, back to what i do best:
each day this week i have woken up progressively later and have been progressively closer to being almost-late for school. i say almost-late because never in my life have i shown up late for a child-related job, not even for my first job at a summer camp where they gave me the godawful opening shift which required me to get there at 5:45 a.m. however, since i refuse to stay late after school anymore, this means that i have no time to clean and organize my room. which in turn means it is a BIG FUCKING DISASTER. my "guided reading" table has turned into a black hole of papers, markers, mexican flags, student work, reading assessments, and pesky little águila, serpiente, and nopal cut-outs. as the kids file in with their homework, they glance at my table where everything is supposed to go, then look at me, then back at the table, then thrust all the papers in my direction. when i insist that they put it on the table, they do a "she's out of her mind" shrug and toss it on top of the mountain of newsprint and construction paper. by lunch i've organized it all into piles, but at the end of the day it's a mess all over again. and my recycling box has been overflowing since monday, don't think i forgot about that.

the pisser was absent today as well as a few other kids. it's amazing how having more than 20 students makes 18 or 19 seem like a walk in the park. my kids were totally on the ball today and we did a kickass ESL letter about Cinco de mayo for the monolingual English classes. i've arranged for my kiddos to read their work to pre-k and kinder classes in the next several days, should be a lot of fun.

in personal news, i was so busy singing to myself in the garage that i slammed my foot directly into the sharpened point of my hedge clippers. yes, it still hurts, but no, it didn't really bleed. i also realized that thanks to several energy-draining events at school tomorrow, it is best that i put off my next eHarmony date, so we've rescheduled for sunday. and megan, you absolutely must buy erasure's greatest hits album as well as any (although i really like the single off the new one) moenia album. it's like spanish pet shop boys or depeche mode, you should dig it.

martes, mayo 03, 2005


how i learned the es-pan-yole

my learning process is pretty complicated and my cultural background prepared me well for any sort of foreign language learning, but in general terms, here's how i suggest that one go about learning a new language (forgive any obvious points, i'm just trying to be thorough):

1) take a class. duh. you gotta learn grammatical structures and all that jazz somehow. besides, i'm a visual learner and like to see how words are spelled as i learn how to use them in context.
2) listen to music. i have an extensive love & romance vocabulary thanks to mexican pop and rancheras from the mid-90s. helps you with listening comprehension, vocab development, and exposes you to lots of colloquialisms and popular phrasings.
3) make friends that speak the language and insist on them speaking as little english as possible around you. even if you can only respond in english, it's still great practice.
4) study abroad. study abroad. study abroad. live among native speakers and sleep and breathe the language once you have a decent grasp of it. once you're dreaming in it, you've got it.
5) read books. start with bilingual stuff, then children's literature, cheesy magazines (Teen & Vogue en español are GREAT), the instructions on boxes, etc. until you are able to read short stories and finally novels without driving yourself crazy. i successfully made it through lots of great spanish literature last summer in méxico, but trying to read Memoria de mis putas tristes on my own upon my return was enough to bring me to tears. so start small and be realistic.
6) keep doing all of the above consistently. watch foreign movies or use subtitles and find other ways to regularly expose yourself to the language, different accents, and new vocabulary. i am also a big fan of eavesdropping and volunteering aid to people who appear to be in language crises.

my spanish is still far from perfect. i overcorrect ALL THE TIME and am constantly calling friends in the middle of the school day to ask them vocabulary questions. all important letters sent home are revised by native speakers. i learn new words every day. but i know that i can communicate my thoughts in more situations than i ever thought possible and even if i misconjugate a verb or use a false cognate, i effectively get my point across. today my kids insisted that my father is from méxico, so clearly my accent isn't too horrendous. ooh, speaking of which, DEFINITELY take a phonetics class. a good accent can make all the difference in the world!

any questions?



i got an email from a poblana friend of mine pleading for me to come to méxico. since my parents are jetting off to france in july, i'm seriously considering it. méxico is good for my soul.

i've decided that my ultimate moonlighting career would be as the lead singer of a cover band that performed exclusively at gay clubs. we would do prince, erasure, depeche mode, and assorted eighties songs. it would be exquisite.

in the meantime, i will share with you my favorite prince quote:

women not girls rule my world
i said they rule my world
act your age mama
not your shoe size

pure genius.

back to the real world and my real life and my career and such things of a infinitely less entertaining nature. today was alright only because yesterday was terrible. i need to make a list of things to do and not do next year as a not-quite-new-but-not-quite-experienced teacher. this morning started out very strangely as the kids did their math assignment and i wandered around the room fixing this and rearranging that. i noticed that my students were silent. i turned around and stared at them. they were all working. ALL of them. it didn't last too long, but it was very surreal and made me feel quite content for a bit.. bonus: the vice principal walked in on it. other than that, i continued to count down the minutes and hours until blessed summer arrives.

i put up papel picado for our cinco de mayo celebration before having dinner with dad. poor thing, our dinners turn into kid bitch sessions, he's become quite a good listener since i became a teacher. that or he's very good at concealing his boredom. afterwards i headed to target to find a gift for the university mentor that assists my classroom. as i scrutinized clearance photo albums, i heard someone say "hey spanish teacher!" it was the hottie math teacher from the middle school i worked at last semester. we chatted for awhile about my new job and the middle school then parted ways. i wonder if i'll ever get around to visiting the school again. the other day i was listening to a ricardo arjona album that i used as a listening practice for my seventh graders. it made me very nostalgic... i truly loved teaching spanish to those guys, i had no idea i would like adolescents that much, but damn, they're fun! their learning styles meshed beautifully with my teaching style, and i was teaching a subject i was totally passionate about (creating my own curriculum helped a lot, too, i'm sure). anyway, that led me to think about whether i have made the right decision by staying in first grade instead of teaching middle school spanish. and i think i have. in terms of personal fulfillment, it's much more satisfying to know that i have taught a roomful of children how to read rather than a roomful of teenagers how to ask someone their name and birthday in a foreign language. granted, the latter is totally not that simple, and i was really passionate about teaching the native speakers not only the standardized forms of spoken and written language but pride towards their bilingualism. but i think i'm making a larger difference with my little ones, and i can always go back to middle school when i want a change.

wow, that kind of rambled on. i'll save the "how i learned spanish, and how YOU can learn it, too!" list for another day. i've got some painting to do! (my other moonlighting job: hippie painting bum. if i don't go to méxico, that's probably what i'll be doing all summer)

lunes, mayo 02, 2005



i thought calling this post "ahora vamos a contar" might seem stupid, but not so stupid that i couldn't tell y'all that i was thinking about it. point is, the countdown has begun.

today sucked. morning duty got things off to a fine start as usual, then once i entered my classroom nightmare mom waited patiently for me to stop chatting with my kiddos so she could let'er rip under my full attention. is under the right preposition? i've found that speaking spanish has seriously affected my ability to properly use prepositions. anyway, apparently last week there was some drama regarding her son's hat. he's been wearing it and i don't care, but the principal saw him and told him to take it off in the building. obviously, i insisted that he follow the school rule from that moment forward, i'm not an idiot. but apparently he put it back on at some point and another teacher took it off his head. mom says that it was one of the white teachers and that she did it forcefully and made all the other students laugh at her son, perhaps because she's racist, and it's important that i know and how should she handle this and to whom should she make a formal complaint? she wasted 15 minutes talking to me about this in person before following my repeated advice to go to the asst. principal. apparently he wasn't around, so she spoke to the administrative assistant before wasting another ten minutes of my time on the phone. i politely asked her what she would like for me to do, but of course she is incapable of directly answering any given question. i gave my co-worker a heads up, which led to a couple mini-conferences throughout the day. all because of a stupid hat and a metiche mother.

my problem child is regressing more and more each day. friday, while we were all sitting at the carpet, he decide to spit. on the carpet. luckily all my other kids are really good (except for la ladrona, of course) and told on him immediately. i sent him to another classroom without a second thought. this morning during silent sustained reading, he started drawing in another student's book. i'm getting really fucking fed up. i give him all kinds of positive reinforcement when he does good, and once upon a time he actually behaved pretty damned well as long as he had work to do. but no more. i mentioned the spitting and drawing to the asst. principal and he advised me to have el problemo talk to la ladrona about her community service experience. he also said that the next bad decision el problemo makes, regardless of severity, he will be assigned community service. punto. so after specials, that's exactly what i did. scare tactics, they have a short-term effect at the very least, right? WRONG. an HOUR LATER, he cursed on the playground to half the class.

the behavior management plan i made with another student went down in flames hours after implementation as well today. the enojona mother of my smartest guy flipped out on me after school because i confiscated her son's toy car but not another student's gameboy (which was never taken out of his backpack vs. the car which was being played with on the playground). and all my fun, fluffy cinco de mayo plans are dampered by my two jehovah's witnesses who apparently can't even read a book about piñata-making, because it will tempt them into wanting to celebrate.


thank god i have another date with my eHarmony dude on thursday =D

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