Saturday, April 30, 2011

Careful What You Wish(Ask) For

It's time for another student story and this one has it all.  Suspense, mystery, intrigue, the love of a good woman, and a misunderstanding.  Without further adieu...that would be silly since that means 'bye' and this is the beginning.  There won't be further ado (to prove that I didn't just misspell the other one) either since I would hate for the critics in years to come to say that this blog was much ado about nothing.  But I digress...Shakespearianly (it's a word).

Howard was a special kind of child, with a special kind of mom, in my special kind of class.  I don't know why I kept calling him Howard...I saw the real name on my roll sheet, it wasn't Howard.   I actually knew of him for years before he got to me in my self-contained sixth grade for kids with learning disabilities.  For the non-teachers or parents in my audience allow me to explain.  Not all teachers get the chance to know many more students than are in their own class.  Sure, kids switch around and go here for reading, there for math, but for me name recognition is saved for my own class and an elite group of students who stand out at the school.  If a student repeatedly 'fails to act responsibly' on the playground, the yard duty teachers will know who they are.  A neighbor of ours had a kindergarten boy in my son's class.  On the fourth day of school we all went to back-to-school night.  In the assembly before the classroom visits, with about 600 students milling around, the principal came over and said to our neighbor, "Hi Andy.  How are you tonight?"  Dad was impressed.  "The principal knows my kid already."  I had to break it to him that for the principal to know him this early was not necessarily a good thing. 

At my school, everyone knew Howard!  Principal, secretaries, teachers, custodians, librarians, food service workers, campus monitors, bus drivers, other parents, and I can't prove it but I would be willing to bet that the guys who filled the Coke machine and fixed the copiers knew him too.  He wasn't really what you would call a 'bad kid', especially since I never use that particular descriptor, but his behaviors made him stand out...a lot. He was the kid who would come up to me on the playground and ask, "How far is the farthest?" or "What is the purpose of meaning?"  He tried to get reactions and my reaction was generally, "Go play Howard."  The troubles arose when he tried to get reactions during class...and that caused him (and others) to stop learning.  Enter my class, and the fewer students, and my wonderful aide.  The district thought that my room would be the best place for him to achieve success...and allow others at school to do the same.

He was a bright student, did his homework, was capable to do whatever I gave him, he just didn't want to...for the most part.  And then there was his mom.  She was an advocate for her son and his needs.  Some would argue too much so, others might say a little too passionate, I liked both mom and Howard.   It was manageable, it was challenging, it was tiring.  Whenever he would try to distract me with bizarre questions I would respond with something like, "about 15 o'clock but I won't be able to wash the car" or some other nonsense that would leave him scratching his head and allow me to keep teaching.  We plugged along trying to get him to do his best while others tried to do theirs.  And then about three months into the year mom formally requested a meeting.  Uh oh.  I thought we had been doing well.  I thought everyone was happy.  I had talked to mom almost daily to give updates and such, but she set this meeting up through the office instead of just, "Do you have a second?" which is more my style.  I was concerned about other teachers' accounts of other meetings with mom.  And then it was time for the meeting.

All of the players sat around my conference table and I asked, "What can I do for you today?"  Mom said that she wanted me to tell Howard to read a half an hour every day.  I started talking about how on top of the homework a half an hour reading is a lot and I thought I was doing well to ask for 20 minutes in my daily reading log.  "I want you to tell him to read 30 minutes a night."  Howard, disinterested, continued playing his Gameboy.  Again I told mom that 20 minutes a significant amount of time and that I had read research that showed if you read twenty minutes a night at the end of the year you would have read a million words!  "I want you to tell him to read 30 minutes."  I talked about how Howard would benefit from playing with other kids in the neighborhood.  "I want you to tell him..."  And then I had the 'we are talking about apples and oranges' moment so I asked why.  Apparently, Howard loved to read.  He would read and read and read in his spare time.  He averaged about a half an hour every night...until he came to my class and my "Read at least 20 minutes a night" reading log.  When mom told me that Howard was now setting a timer for twenty minutes and then stop for the night it was frustrating her and she couldn't talk him out of it because, "Mr. Garrett said so!"  I laughed, I made Howard put away the Gameboy, and talked to him directly.
"Dude! I think you missed two really important words on my reading log.  At Least!  Do you know what that means?" 
"It means you can read more than that but you cannot read less than that!  Stop setting the timer for crying out loud!  Reading is awesome!  Go for it!  No more timer, right?"
"Anything else mom?"
"All right.  I think we are done.  Take care.  Thanks."

After that, things went well.  We finished the year nicely and they even brought me in to talk with next year's teacher so I could talk about strategies that worked for Howard.  I told them to let him read as much as he wanted and to be very careful how they worded their reading logs.  Howard did well in the years to come.  I still see Howard's loving mom around town, and I don't dive under the clothes racks of stores when I see her coming...not that I do that with other far as they know. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Did I Mention Bonnie Hunt?

This blog post is addressed to the astute, observant reader.  Two days ago, in the midst of a spring break induced writing frenzy, I attached a label 'Bonnie Hunt' to the post.  Upon careful reading of that post you may notice that there is no mention of Bonnie Hunt in my writing.   I did not mean to cause any undo stress or confusion among my readers.  It was merely an oversight on my part.  Allow me to explain.

Sure, I could go back into the settings of that posting and delete Ms. Hunt's name from the label section.  I do not have the seconds that it would take for me to do that.  Instead, I will take a half an hour now to explain why I don't.  Time management was never my strong suit. 

It was a chilly April morning and I was reeling (not really) from remembering a repressed memory about an airport, a bathroom, and some disturbing graffiti.  The airport was in Chicago and I know, from watching her show not from stalking in any way, that Bonnie Hunt has a strong connection to Chicago.   I was also going to make some sort of smart alec remark that, since I had already declared that Bonnie is my celebrity girlfriend, when she asks me to fly my family in to meet her family, show us around the city, and eat Thanksgiving dinner together, I would need to fly into a different airport.  Someone with a Sharpie has forever besmirched the image of O'Hare. 

That's it.  I didn't want scare anyone or make anyone think I had started to lose my mind...especially since we all know that the marble losing process had already begun early on in my childhood.  I would also like to inform Ms. Hunt that my team of therapists have already explained that a signature on a restraining order does technically count as an autograph so I will stop trying to contact you since I already have about six "autographs" framed on my wall.  Ok seven.  And they all have those brass artwork lights over them.

Thank you for your time, dear readers, and I just want to mention that this month has been the blog's most viewed month ever!  By more than a hundred people!  I have also taken another step toward fame (but not fortune).  I am starting to get mail asking me to visit and then "like" other people's blogs.   I was so excited that I had comments only to find out that they were essentially ads for their blogs.  One almost sounded like it was a Nigerian prince who wanted me to like his blog.  I am not sure how to handle that one since I am still recovering from the other Nigerian prince, and his millions of dollars, not returning my calls. 

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Man Joins Online Feed To Get Coworker Off Back

Jeff Garrett, of Fremont, joined "The Onion" online yesterday by getting updates sent to his phone.  When asked to comment Garrett stated, "I just got tired of Josh Reed asking me if I had read The Onion every day.  He just wore me down."  Garrett, who admittedly is 'not very bright' claims that he had decided to try to read it before but couldn't find it on his phone.  The breakthrough came when an eight year old explained SMS feeds to Garrett.  He was quoted as saying, "I still don't get it but, what do ya know!  There it is!"

The Onion is a satirical paper that espouses itself as "America's Finest News Source."   It is full of hard hitting imaginary stories that are designed to make you smile.  While Garrett admits that he found Onion articles to be humorous he worried that other areas of his life were more important.  "I tried to explain to him that I didn't really have time for one more thing but I guess I can give up birthday parties and family dinners."

Garrett had been warned about the adverse effects that satire can have on interpersonal relationships.  He claims he just wasn't sure it was worth it.  Reed, when asked to comment, wrung his hands and said, "We got another one...that is off the record."  This reporter then explained that the 'off the record' remark needs to come before you say something.  Reed, who is not officially linked to The Onion (wink wink) smiled and muttered something about working on Aurea next. 

Garrett's wife, who is staying at her mother's, declined to comment and slammed the door in this reporter's face muttering something about "that darn blog" but forgot to say 'off the record.'  When Garrett's children were bribed into talking to us, they said, "He writes all the time and he is always at the computer.  Hey!  This money isn't real!"

When asked about his habits Garrett said, "It's true.  I do like writing my blog.  It's at and I didn't say off the record so you have to print that in your news.  If one more person becomes a follower of my blog, that will be one more than there ever was before.  Besides, there are 37 followers right now and that is a prime number.  Prime numbers are icky."

We'll see if any of the readers of this news article feel compassionate and throw Garrett a 'pity follow'.  Don't worry, Reed does not work for Garrett's blog so he will not be contacting you about becoming a follower everyday.   Reed cackled, "It's hysterical!  I don't even read Jeff's blog!...Off the record!  Oh dangit!"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Doesn't B-B-B-Bother Me At All

For today's therapy session...I mean blog post...I thought I would just get right down to it and talk about something that we are going to call a repressed memory of sorts.  I consider it something that is embarrassing and uncomfortable to talk about, so I thought I would write about it on the internet where millions of people can see it.  In reality there are about fifteen hundred clicks on the blog every month but it could be read by millions...if they wanted to. 

What made me think of it was when we drove our family friend to the airport to see her off to Germany.  While we were waiting for her flight to leave I needed to use the facilities.  That was what reminded me of this story.  Yes, an airport bathroom.  But don't's not that bad.  For this hidden memory there is another person involved, we'll call him the perpetrator, and he may very well be someone who reads this blog.  It may reveal to him the kind of harm he inflicted and cause him to make amends.  For that unknown person I would like to say that a suitcase full of money delivered to a yet to be disclosed location would be a good start...unless you are a publisher who is interested in my book.  Then we can call it even. 

As most unpleasant memories go (unless you are a character in a science fiction novel) this happened in the past.  I have rarely, if ever, spoken of it.  I was about nineteen or twenty and my friends Rachel and Mike asked me to fly out to Missouri, hang out for about a week, and then help them drive their cars and their stuff out to California where they would be living.  It sounded like a great adventure and I had some vacation time coming so off I went to the travel agent.  I was warned that I would need to fly to Chicago's O'Hare airport to get to Missouri from California.  So that would be...San Francisco, Chicago, and then Missouri.  SFO, ORD, STL.  (I keep mentioning this because I couldn't believe that I needed to fly past where I wanted to go and then backtrack to get to my friends)  I would also have to fly through what was the busiest and largest airports in the country, if not even the world, to get to my friends.  That meant a layover...and a worry.

I was warned by seasoned travelers that I would have to run as fast as I could in order to get to my next connection.  And watch my wallet because pickpockets were a real problem in the airport.  The bags would make it in a transfer but I probably wouldn't.  I kept telling people that I had a whole hour to get from one plane to the other.  That didn't help calm anyone's fears.  "I hate that place!"  Another said.  "It's so huge!  It's ridiculous!"  Still another.  I was doomed!  I even got warned by someone who worked at the airlines.  He said, "I once got a taxi to go from one terminal to the other so I would make my flight!  And that was when I had two hours! Good luck!"  Great, the first time I venture out on my own and I was doomed to wander the airport aimlessly, penniless, for the rest of my days. 

I started training. (yeah right)  I studied the map of the airport.  (nope) I figured, it'll work out.  (we have a winner)  But I was still a bit apprehensive.  When I got to the airport in Chicago I said, "Buh bye" to the stewardess (that's what they called them back then!) and found out the number of the gate where I would need to meet my new plane!  I got into the airport at gate 23 in terminal 1 and I needed to get all the way over to gate 25 in terminal 1...which meant I had to walk approximately 27 just over an hour.  I put on my track shoes, I got into the starting position, I walked over and sat down. 

It was at this time, when I had fifty nine and a half minutes to wait for my plane, that I got paged.  "Jeff Garrett to the white courtesy phone.  Jeff Garrett to the white courtesy phone please."  Turns out it was nature calling so I answered the call.  Lucky for me, the labyrinthical airport had a men's room right across from gate twenty five.  I got out a piece of bread and started leaving breadcrumbs as I made my way over.  It was your average airport facility.  Mostly clean, mostly white with hints of stainless steel, and it was absolutely empty.   This is where I was traumatized...kind of.  I went into the stall and locked the door (pickpockets remember!) and answered the white courtesy phone call of nature.  And then I saw the graffiti.  It said, "If you are interested in beginning a meaningful relationship with someone of the same sex be here at 10:50 A.M. on the morning of June 25th."  For graffiti aficionados you know that I cleaned up the message quite a bit, but you probably get the idea.  This is where it gets weird.  I said to myself, "Boy!  That is oddly specific!  Hey, isn't today the 25th of June?  I wonder what time it is?"  I looked at my watch.  (this was before people had cell phones and watches were obsolete)  "What do you know...10:49!  Crap!" 

Let me just say that I ended the call, washed my hands (because my mom told me that the whole fabric of society would fall apart if I didn't), and contacted my Sherpa to get me back to my terminal where I waited and kept a suspicious eye on everyone who went into and out of the bathroom.  I have since realized that I was just the unfortunate victim of painfully coincidental vandalism, but at the time it gave me the willies.  The plane arrived, I boarded, and I had a relatively uneventful trip to Missouri.  The trip home from Missouri was fraught with peril...but that is for another day.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Power!

The youth in our church are stinking amazing!  I am very proud to say that my own children are part of the classification of "youth" which are students of junior high or high school age.  At this moment the high school students are on a mission trip to shelters in Oakland and San Francisco.  I am very, very proud to say that our daughter Kristiana is on this high school trip.  Which means she is in high school.  Which also means that I feel very, very old.

But in thinking about our church's youth it reminded me of a funny story that involved them.  I would like to share that with you today.

Our youth pastor was being ordained in a town about three hours away from here and it was decided that our church family would send a delegation to watch him and celebrate this new chapter in his life.  It started out with a few families with vans who had told the high school kids we could car pool.  Then there would be borrowed fifteen passenger vans.  Then rented vans...then...then...then you get the picture.  Someone finally announced, as the little boy announced to the Emperor that he had on no clothes, we should charter a bus!

Oh good.  I loooooove riding on buses.  (I wasn't sure if I should use six or seven o's to demonstrate dripping sarcasm...let me know how I did)  I do like hanging out and chatting.  I like not making a three hour drive at night when we have just finished eating dinner.  I do like saving money on gas.  I do not like riding on buses.  I think it stems from a field trip through the mountains I took as a high school senior.  I have been known to exaggerate, my daughter says I do it a billion times a day, but this account is the unvarnished truth!   I was sitting toward the back of the bus on a trip through winding mountain roads and the ancient driver continually dropped his back tires off the pavement as he rounded the curves.  It was all I could do to not work my way to the front, smack the steering wheel from his hands, and save us all!  (I have to tell you, I feel like I was born to drive and by the time I was a senior I had already driven my family's camper across the country to go to the world's fair...I knew I could do it better)  Not being the person behind the wheel is a little uncomfortable for me.  It is my issue.  I am working on it.

The plan was to charter a bus that had a bathroom, plush seats, and TV's so we could travel in style.  And then we found out how much it would cost.  Borrow a yellow bus from the private school in town it is!  Check!  I luckily did not have to sit on the folding half seat in the emergency row so that was nice.   I got to talk with people from church that I rarely get a chance to just sit down and talk with, and that was even nicer.  What was interesting was that the bus sort of naturally filled in a certain order.  Families did not sit together.  Age groups sat together.  It was sort of like the old Jello 1-2-3!  Let me explain because I am always the only person who ever remembers it when I use that analogy.  It was a Jello mix that, once made, you would pour into glass cups and put in the refrigerator.  When it settled and gelled it had three distinct layers.  The bottom was the clear Jello, the top was a frothy foamy treat, and the middle was a mixture of the two.  Yummy! 

Back to the bus.  The back was full of all the youth and the ages got progressively higher as you moved toward the front.  My place was firmly in the middle.  It was nice.  I was afforded a row or two back toward the cool kids since I work with them on a regular basis but my gray hair kept me out of the back-back.  As we started the trip there were the usual announcements about where we would stop, how long it would take, please keep your hands, arms, and belongings inside the vehicle at all times until the ride has come to a full and complete stop...thank you for visiting Disneyland we hope you enjoy your stay.  But I digress...

Off we went.  And it was, thankfully, an uneventful trip.  Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves talking amongst their like-aged strata, for two and a half hours, when I looked back and noticed that the youth were getting a little antsy.  (I can't help it...the teacher in me has to keep an eye on the whole bus)  There were people out of their seats...against the rules but not terrible.  There was a lot of loud talking...again, technically forbidden but who am I to judge?  And then 'it' happened.  Apparently somebody had brought some sort of electronic game and all the youth wanted to see, so everybody got up.  When everybody got up that meant that the youngest of the young could no longer see.  I think my son Jake was the winner of the youngest passenger award (and consequently got to ride in the very prestigious back seat).  Well Jake couldn't see, and he is young, so he stood up on the seat to lean over the crowd to see what they were looking at. 

This was over the line.  I mean I couldn't have this large group of church people thinking that our kids were raised by wolves...I have to say there are times when you could hide a few wolf cubs in their rooms...but I digress.  I decided that standing on the seat of a borrowed bus was beyond my comfort zone.  I tried to catch his eye.  I semi-serioused (it's a word) my face.  I raised my hand with my finger pointing up at the top of the bus and then quickly dropped it down like I was indicating that I had just made a three-point basket...nothing but net!  Wham!  Every single junior high, high school, and youngish college student dropped into their seat and looked straight ahead like they had been caught sneaking toward the cookie jar after bedtime.  The people around me laughed and congratulated me and wondered how I was able to muster that sort of power into a single finger.  I told them I was just trying to get Jake off the seat but I guess I must have cranked up my teacher face a little too far.  Don't worry, I know, with great power comes great responsibility.

I just wish I could remember what I did so I could use it in my classroom!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Timing Is... Everything

In business, as in joke telling, timing is..., wait for it, ... everything.  The first guy to say, "what if we sliced the bread before we sold it."  Genius!  The second guy to say, "what if there was a social network where people could communicate with friends while online in addition to Facebook?" not so much.  I am hoping that I have chosen the correct time to write my book.  I know there is a need for a book like mine, I am just wondering if people will read it.  And nearly as important, will people pay to own it.  And last, but not least, what will I wear on the Dr. Phil show when my book gets picked as his newest book that everyone must read?  (but, because timing is important, I will not pick out that outfit until the show week.  It shouldn't take me any longer than that to write and then publish it, right?)

I haven't decided if I want to talk about the title or the subject matter of the book in my blog just yet.  Remember?  Timing.  I would hate for people to try to talk me out of it, tell me it won't work, or try to steal my idea.  I will tell you that I have a week off from teaching for Easter break.  I would have said spring break but I didn't want to bring up images of me packing up the Studebaker and driving to Ft. Lauderdale to drink copious amounts of...white zinfandel.  (I can't drink beer anymore due to a medical condition).  No!  Not that dusting off my old Beach Boys 8 tracks for a road trip wouldn't have been exciting, I decided to stay here and write for you...and then start the book.  In that order.  My goal is to have several blog posts written and a good chunk of a chapter written for the book by the end of the week.  We'll see how I do.  Just remember, I wrote two chapters of my masters thesis in one night. (and received high honors...but I don't want to brag)  I can do this.  I just need to work on timing, and get up at 5 A.M. even in the middle of my vacation so I don't become the guy the kids used to know as dad.  Timing.

And that brings me to what I wanted to write about in today's post.  It was all about a perfectly timed incident that happened when I was in college.  I was the only witness even though there were about thirty five people in the room.  I could have tried to describe it to the people I was with but I kept it all to myself, until now.  I hope I can do it justice because it has all the makings of a geographical just had to be there.  

It was a summer session and I was sitting in one of lecture classrooms in one of the twin buildings at Cal State Hayward.  I'm pretty sure nobody else called them that.  They just seemed like two similar buildings and that was how my brain made sense of where my class was.  The other building was made up of labs and it seemed that they used these classrooms mainly for the sciences.  It was here that I met super-excitable-highly-stressed-pre-med-girl. But that is a blog for another day.  Today I want to talk about Unfortunate Girl.

Back to the buildings.  From an airplane I am sure they looked like an enormous equal sign.  They were long and narrow, there were two floors, a door at each end of each building, and a door in the middle so people didn't have to walk all the way to the ends to go from building to building.  The interesting feature about these two buildings was a glass covered walkway from the second floor of building A over to building B smack dab in the middle of the two.  It was nice when the professor said, today we are going to go over to the labs to finish the day.  What could have been a hike was just a stroll through the walkway.  It was used quite a bit, by everyone, all the time.  Since the walkway was a way to go out of the building it had these glass doors with a long handle that you push down to unlatch the door and swing it open.  That detail is important. 

This particularly nice summer day I was sitting at the counter, on a lab stool, staring out the window, and trying to concentrate on whatever the professor was lecturing about.  If I was a movie director, this would have been the perfect place to set up the cameras.  I could see everything that was going on.  I could see the sky.  I could see the green zone between the buildings.  I could see that there was a work crew using a welder in the other building.  And, important to my story, I could see the entire glass walkway in between the two buildings.  My ADHD addled mind was ping-ponging around from notes, to lecture, to welders, to walkway, to sky, back to welders, to walkway...etc.  (if I haven't mentioned my clinically diagnosed condition before, I am sure you have guessed by do you see why I say, 'but I digress' so much?)  

Since it was a weekend in the summer there were very few people walking across the crossover walkway and I am sure that was why the welders were there filling the other hallway with bursts of bright light and puffs of smoke.  Fewer people to disturb on a Saturday.  And then I saw Unfortunate Girl.  At the time she was just Girl but in a few seconds her name would be changed, forever.  She walked from our building toward the door to the walkway.  She had not a care in the world as she skipped along, wearing a red hooded cape, carrying a basket of goodies to Grandma's house...ok that part may not be true (ADHD remember?).  I was looking and soaking it all in.  Girl, welders, professor, walkway, flash, door, notes, smoke...and then she reached the door.  At the precise moment she pushed down on the latch to open the door, the welders set off the fire alarm!  And 'Girl' earned her new title.

You have to remember that we are in a set of connected gigantic government funded buildings.  When the fire alarm goes off in one, it goes off in the connected building too.  There are two long stark hallways and probably a hundred classrooms.  The buildings were obviously new enough and government funded enough to have at least two alarms in each room (in case you couldn't hear the eardrum rattling siren at the front of the room while you sat at the back).  There were also alarms about every fifty feet in each of the four hallways so I would say that, conservatively, there were about three hundred ear piercing sirens all going off in unison.  And there in the geographical center of all of this cacophony was Unfortunate Girl trying frantically to pull the door shut so the four horsemen of the Apocalypse didn't hear the call and begin their descent to the Earth.  Her head was swivelling from side to side anxiously looking to see if anyone had seen that she had unwittingly caused the beginning of Armageddon by going through a door.  A door she had no doubt used dozens of times before without so much as a whisper.  Newly named Unfortunate Girl pulled the door shut, pushed on it to make sure it was latched, and then ran back the way she had come and I am not sure but she probably ran toward the psychology wing...or to a store that sold clean underwear. 

I considered trying to catch her to let her know that there were welders who were responsible for the alarms and she did nothing wrong but she was long gone...and in true professor style...we were told to just stay where we were until the alarms went off.  It wasn't a real fire and class was going to continue.  I have to let you know, that flew in the face of every elementary teacher I ever had who said that if we didn't walk outside in an orderly fashion when the fire alarms went off, we would cause the end of civilization as we know it.  Not to mention that it was probably illegal for him to tell us to stay there.  And I just came up with a new get rich scheme.  I need to go look through my college transcripts to find out what class that was...and call a lawyer.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sprechen Sie Espanol? Charades?

My second language is Spanish.  Not that I am able to speak it, or read it, or even understand it enough to be on the receiving end of a conversation, but I know quite a few vocabulary words and it is my fall back language when the person in front of me doesn't speak English.  This is not typically a problem while trying to teach or communicate with my students parents...but it does present a problem when I am trying to talk to our new friend who is visiting from Germany. 

Sylvia's mom has a longtime friend visiting from her home city in Augsburg, Germany.  My family and I have become weekend tour guides and it has been fun watching someone touch the Pacific Ocean for the first time, hike out to a lighthouse, (it was 100 feet off the road but if I say 'hike' maybe my body will think that I exercised) walk on a pier, eat at a restaurant that is over the water, and refuse to try chocolate covered bacon.  (I had her piece)  She is very gracious and willing to go wherever we suggest she should go and see whatever we suggest she should see.  She knows about as much English as I know Spanish but with Sylvia being fluent (she majored in German in college...not to mention there were years when she came back from vacation as a child and 'forgot' how to speak English) and her mom (the Augsburg-er) I am not feeling left out of the conversations. 

The problems arise when I try to dust off my one and a half units of Rosetta Stone German to try to say something to Irmgard.  She is very accommodating and figures out more of what I am trying to say than I actually say correctly but every once in a while I insert a Spanish word and that just gums up the whole works. 

The biggest problem is "Si!"  In class, the Spanish speaking kids will ask meyes and no questions.  I will automatically answer in Spanish...and then English.  I have learned phrases that will help me in my teaching in Spanish and again, I will use them in tandem with English so the kids can immersion.  Pero me estoy apartando del tema...(but I digress...)

I am finding it funny that I resort to Spanish on autopilot rather than slow down and run through all the things I have learned about German.  The very first things I learned in German were somewhat random and disconnected.  When I was wooing Sylvia before we were married (I still try to do it now but I am not the wooer I once was...I'm working on it) I wrote her a note in German.  Entschuldigen Sie Bitte, Wo bist die naschte chocolade?  I'm sure I misspelled most of that but essentially it says, very politely, excuse me please, where is the nearest chocolate?  Then we got married and on the plane trip to meet her relatives in Germany she taught me, Hast du unterhosen on? (Are you wearing underwear?...Did I marry the right woman or WHAT!)  Of course I took my new found knowledge out for a test drive when I met her 92 year old aunt!  This family is a kick!  Then my sister got a pen-pal in Germany and, to mess with him, asked Sylvia for this phrase.  Wenn bist du nakt? (when are you naked?)  Are you seeing that the pomegranate doesn't fall too far from the tree!? (no ordinary apples in this kids are doomed...or destined to make millions laugh on their own variety space!)

Aside from asking Irmgard embarrassing questions I am finding that I am, in fact, tri-lingual!  I speak Italian!  Well, not so much the words that Italian people use.  I speak with my hands.  The joke in our half-Italian family has always been, "How do you give an Italian a speech impediment?  Break his arm!"  We are very hand motion intensive people around here.  I think it is difficult to add nuance to a story without the added benefit of hand'll just have to take my word for it.  If my writing makes you smile, if you saw me acting it out in person you would be rolling on the ground...because I am not especially careful with my hands and I usually end up poking people in the eye.  My gyrations work, in large part, because the people I talk to understand the words I saying so the hand motions make sense.  Poor Irmgard looks at me, while I try to explain myself...with the magic of interpretive dance...and wonders, in German, how long has he been off of his medications?  And why does he want a gorilla to mail a letter to the refrigerator?

OK, so I am off.  I have a bit of work to do to get ready to take the crew to San Francisco.  Sylvia and I love the city.  It is where I proposed to her...but that is another story.

P.S.  I have just decided to write a book...this morning!  (Decided this morning...not write it this morning)  It isn't anything to do with the blog but I thought I should mention it here first since the blog...and the eight people who have commented here...have a large part to do with my thinking I could write something that people would want to read.  I'll let you know more later but I am excited and I think it could be interviews on TV and people actually paying to see it big.  Wish Me Luck!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Glub Glub Glub

I do not own a pool.  I have never owned a pool.  I will not be able to own a pool at this house.  I cannot afford to put a pool into our back yard.  There are power lines that run over the back yard that make it unsafe to install a pool.  I will probably never be a pool owner unless we win the lottery and move someplace else.  Furthermore, because Sylvia and I bought the house I grew up in, I know there has never been a pool at this address that couldn't be moved from one place to another, by a single person, in the back of the average sized station wagon.

Now any reasonably sane person would read any of the previous sentences and say, "I am 85 to 90% certain that the Garrett family does not own a pool at this time."  Apparently the people at the pool supply store in our fair city are not reasonably sane.  Ordinarily I would not be bothered by something as trivial as who thinks we own a pool but this is a special case.  (Who am I trying to kid, right? This is my blogging bread and butter!)  You see, we have been on the mailing list for Dingalingus Pool Supply (I am using an assumed name.  No free advertising.  You'll see why later)  for at least three decades and I think they are trying to drive me insane.  (I will pause here for everyone to mentally insert their "Short trip" or "Going back?" or finally, "Visiting relatives?" jokes.  ha haa...they don't count if you don't comment on the blog)  but I digress...

This company has been sending us what used to be a summer-monthly newsletter, advertising their store, attached to a multiple- paged multiple-colored catalog that explained all things pool as well as nifty pool related items and rubber ducks.  I remember getting this as a teenager and asking my parents, "ARE WE GETTING A POOL!!!!????"  (please refer to the first paragraph to find out the answer to that question you reasonably sane person, you)  Somehow we landed on a mailing list and there we were.  The pool-less pool supply customer.  Or so they thought.  Faithfully this very expensive catalog would show up and faithfully we would throw it away.  (It was the was a crazy time full of waste and refuse and re-cycling was what I did when I broke my mini-bike *rimshot* someone remind me to take that pun out before I publish this)  This went on for years.  I am sure my mom called at some point to say, "We do not have a pool.  Please take us off your list."  It didn't help. 

I honestly forgot Old Man Dingalingus and his pool supply folly until we moved in about a dozen years ago.  I remember the first one that came to our house.  It was like the longest running joke in history had come home.  I showed it to Sylvia, recycled it, and went about my life...until the next month.  I decided that making me smile was not reason enough to continue to waste paper like this.  So I called.

"Umm, yes hello?  I live at this address and you know me as 'Current Resident' and I thought I would let you know that we don't have a pool and are not going to get one in the foreseeable future.  You can take us off your mailing list and save yourself some paper and postage.  Thanks."
He thanked me and I thought, chalk one up for lightening the mailman's load!  Until the next month...

"Yeah, Hi.  I called last month to let you people know that we don't have a pool.  We got another mailer.  I'd like to be taken off your list.  Thanks."
Again, I was hopeful that the last person had just misplaced my address, lost the note, was carried away by aliens in Zsa Zsa Gabor costumes...whatever.  I called twice.  Handled.  Until the next month...

"Yes, I hope you can help me.  I started out by trying to save you some money.  Now I am on a quest!  I want to be taken off your mailing list!  I cannot believe that you people have been in business this long with the lack of communication that appears to be running rampant over there.  Take me off the list.  That's all I want.  Take me off the list!"
And I never heard from them again...until the next summer.  Luckily, at this point, they seemed to be running out of money because we only got one catalog at the beginning of summer.  I actually set the catalog aside so I would remember to call and talk to someone a little higher up the chain of command.  When I finally got around to calling, the conversation went like this...remember I had almost a full year to calm down from the first round....

"Yes, hi, you are a manager?  Owner!  Great!  I know it's a silly thing but my family has been getting your catalog for years, decades really, and I am trying to save you a little money, we do not own a pool.  We don't even know anyone in our neighborhood who does own one.  This is a pool free zone and, unless you want to come install one for us, I would like to be taken off your mailing list. I have called several times before.  You are the owner.  I'm sure you can handle this for me.  I'm just trying to help you.  Thanks."
He assured me that he would take care of it and thanked me for helping him out.  Progress!  ...until the next year...  I wrote a letter.

"To whom it may concern,
I am not a mean person by nature.  I would never wish anyone bad luck.  I believe in live and let live.  But you people have driven me to the brink.  I have been asking for years for you to take me off of your mailing list to no avail.  Frankly, I cannot imagine how you manage to stay afloat (pun intended) with such a sloppy business model.  I have come to the conclusion that the only way for me to be taken off your mailing list is for there to be no store to mail it from.  Therefore, I have taken the position that anytime someone mentions that they own a pool I am going to say, "Please do not purchase anything from Dingalingus pool supply.  I am trying to make them go out of business because they refuse to take me off their darned mailing list."  If I see that you have, indeed, corrected this situation then I will, of course, not mention your store at all.  I give up.  I am throwing in the bath towel. 
Good luck in your new profession.
Jeff Garrett"

I got a letter back. 
"Dear Mr. Garrett."  (He was being exceptionally far as he knew, I was his best customer!)  "I am sorry for the inconvenience regarding our mailer.  Our mailing has been centralized via computer and there is no one person who is responsible for overseeing the general mailing list.  Unfortunately I think it would be nearly impossible for me to remove a single address from this computer database.  I appreciate your trying to help and I apologize for any future mailings that you will recieve.
I. M. A. Dingalingus"
Thus is my burden.  Every year we get a catalog extolling the virtues of four cycle reverse osmosis anti bacterial pool pumps...and we still have no pool.  Every year I slip a little further into madness and I figure it is only a matter of time before I am an exact replica of the lunatic Chief Inspector in the original Pink Panther movies...Panthers can swim right?

By the way, we just got another catalog...he!  heee! hee! he! heee! he! heeeeee!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mental Floss?

As I was discussing the year I was having with my students I was asked, "Jeff, why hasn't any of this made it into the blog?"  Fair question.  I had already decided, when I started writing, some rules that I would live by.  I would never say anything that would embarrass my kids (other than having to admit that I'm their father).  I would not resort to swearing to get my point across.  (I enjoy my 'G' rating and that I don't have to tell certain people not to read it)  And I would not talk about the students in a current class.  (I do not want any trouble from parents and confidentiality)  That said, I have a class, now, that will be blog after blog in years to come...but I cannot tell any more than that now.

But thinking about school this morning reminded me of a student who has unfortunately come to the end of my imaginary statute of limitations, so I am talking about him now.  As all teachers know, behind every blog worthy child is a blog-worthy parent.  Today is about just such a child with just such a parent.  By way of explanation I wasn't always a kindergarten teacher.  I started out working with college aged students, I went to high school for a few years, worked at junior high for a few ....days, and then came to 4th, 5th, and 6th grade for a decade or so.  Kindergarten followed that.  I figure my next moves will be pre-school followed by in-vitro education.  But I digress...

This 6th grader, let's call him Oliver, was a spirited child.  He was always up to something.  He cut the pictures of money out of a library book so he could try to spend them.  "Ollie, that money is fake dear...and we don't live in Bali."  He drew and signed nasty pictures in class...but blamed someone else.  He gave me a Christmas gift...and told me that he had stolen it.  You know, the usual.  Mom and I had, obviously, several conversations about his behavior and I continued to work with them in a reasonable and rational manner...until that day.  I had taken the class over to the science room for instruction and gone back to my room to get things ready for the weeks to come (prep) when I got a phone call.

"Jeff!  This is Mirian.  Oliver's mom is coming back to see you.  I couldn't stop her.  She says she wants to talk to you NOW!  The principal isn't here, what do you want me to do?"

"CALL THE POLICE and have her arrested for trespassing! wait, I need her to work with me.  It's prep time, I'll head her off and walk her back out.  Thanks Mirian."

I ran out of the room and started walking toward the front of the school hoping to keep everything quiet so everyone else could continue learning, unaware that something was going on.  I really had no idea what she could have wanted. 

I should, now, explain that the way a person looks does not describe who they are.  As much as it bothers me to do this I feel it is important to the humor of this story to describe this woman to you.  I have made it no secret that I am a large guy, six-three, two-fifty plus pounds.  Well this woman, while considerably shorter than me but she had me beat by at least fifty pounds.  If she wanted to just keep walking to my classroom there was not a thing I could have done to stop her.  I caught her coming back to the back of the school, where my room was, and tried to have her walk with me to the front.  She was having none of it and wanted to talk, loudly, right there in the middle of the school.

She started out by saying, "What are we gonna do about this?  I ain't gonna let this go!"
"OK, let's talk.  What is going on?"
"My boy is innocent.  I'm not going to stand for this!"
"Mrs. Oliver's mom...I can try to help but first I need to know what I am trying to do."
"You got to keep that hussy away from my boy!"
"I'm sorry.  Did you say hussy?  Someone at the school?"
"You know I did!  And I will have none of it!"
"OK, tell me what is going on."

"Hang on...I'm getting a call."
And then it happened.  In the movies some women have flirted by reaching coyly into their bra straps with their fingertips to get a business card.  There was just such a scene in True Lies where Tia Carrere toys with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I have to was interesting...from a male's point of view.  Ollie's mom is no Tia Carrere and she most definitely was not flirting and she didn't just use her fingertips.  This woman raised her hand straight up in the air, put her fingers together, and dove her hand into the neckline of her t-shirt to retrieve her phone.   Another thing that was different is that there was nothing coy about it.  Her hand disappeared, then her forearm, all the way up to her elbow!  It was one of those car crash moments.  Horrible but I didn't have the ability to look away.  She got her phone (bear in mind that this was a decade ago when cell phones were not the miniatures that they are today), explained to the caller that she was at the school, she had a problem with her son, that her son's teacher was clawing at his eyeballs with his fingernails, and then the phone went back! 

"Like I said, That hussy.  I'm gonna have none of it."
"OK, I heard that.  I'm not sure who we are talking about though."
Then she dove her hand again into her t-shirt and her, let's say, more than ample bosom to get the evidence.  This time there was a problem.  It wasn't just an in and out grab.  This time she had to root around.  It took forever...and not in a slow motion sort of way.  It really took her about a minute of searching...with one hand...and then she had to go to the alternate storage facility with her other hand.  The whole time I am imagining her saying to herself, 'no, no, no. ballpoint pen, wallet, keys, sandwich for later, spark plug, rental agreement, picture of the a frame'...and then she found what she was looking for.   She pulled out a piece of paper folded over several times...and handed it to me!  eww eww eww

It turns out that it was a note that Ollie had written to a girl in class but hadn't had the courage to give her.  I told her that it wasn't such a big deal, I would talk to him.  I walked her back up to the front of the school, explained that I needed to go back to the classroom so I could invent hand sanitizer and something new that I was working on called mental floss.  You know, to get unpleasant images out of your brain. 

There you go...the joys of I need to go take a Silkwood shower.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Think Advertising Doesn't Work?

Yesterday when I got home from work, after I stopped sobbing into my pillow and questioning why I didn't pay more attention in Get Rich Quick class, I noticed that we had guests.  The kids each had a friend over.  They are a brother sister team that I have recently (re)connected with sort of (I'll explain later in this post...I think it's cool).  I have to say, it's darned convenient to have the kids' friends be brother and sister.  One trip to pick up, one trip to drop off, they are spaced apart (age wise) similarly to our kids, there is one phone call to ask permission to go to a movie, and most importantly there is one phone to explain that we left them at the movie theater when we forgot they were with us.  I'm KIDDING!!  Don't worry!  We would never leave anyone at the movie was the mall.  But I digress...

When Kristiana first started hanging out with her friend from a home school group, it was just the two girls.  They would get together at field trips and such.  I started hearing her name but it was just another of the many that I would hear. 
"Jane said...."
Me, "Is Jane the one who goes to choir?"

"Mary said..."
"Mary is the one with the four brothers right?"

"Sue said..."
"Sue is the one who had the birthday party at that place?"

"Esmeralda wants to..."
"No WAIT!  I got this one!  Esmeralda is the one who likes that boy that everyone thinks walks funny but it doesn't matter because he's so cute."
"(exasperated exhaling of breath that is too difficult to try to spell)"

In my mind I think that I am getting "father points" (I will delve into these in a later post) for even trying to guess how these girls are connected.  Outwardly, all I get is grief.  But back to the female half of the bro/sis team.  She came over to our house one day.  I, in my usual effort not to embarrass the children, was being somewhat low-key.  Kristiana has learned to not ask to be embarrassment free since that makes me say things like, "Nice to meet you.  I am not embarrassing.  I would never, for instance, scream UNDERWEAR! when meeting one of her friends.  Have a nice time tonight girls."  I crack myself up...and I am planning on putting a pay-pal account together so people can donate to the kids' my-dad-was-an-embarrassing-goofball-adult-therapy fund. 

This one particular time we decided to walk, as a family, to the store down the road.  As we were walking along I couldn't help staring at her new friend.  "psst...daaaad.  stop it.  what are you looking at?!"  OK, people noticed, I had to come clean.
"I'm sorry.  You just remind me of someone." 
Giggle shrug.
"No seriously.  I am thinking that you are just like a friend I had a long time ago.  I can't remember where yet.  Not school.  Where?  Hmmmmm."
"Ummm, I don't know.  (Kristiana, I thought you said all he did was shout underwear or something!)"
"Oh THIS is gonna kill me now!"  Honestly, that is my kryptonite.  If I see someone that I have seen before but can't remember where the connection was, I literally can think of very little else until I figure out where the heck we crossed paths.  It gets really embarrassing when I keep asking total 'strangers' their work, school, church, and hobby history to try to satisfy some irrational need.
I continued..."I've got it!  You remind me of my old friend Kelly!"  Wooo!  That was a close one.  Not too long to figure it out.  Not too much embarrassment done.  Keep walking to the store.
Then she says, "Ha!  My mom's name is Kelly."
"Oh Boy!  What a coincidence."  I joked.  "Do you have an older brother named Brandon?  Ha!"
This time her mouth opened wide.
Then I I thought I would blow her mind.  "And your grandma's name was Ana but she passed away quite a while ago.  And your grandfathers name is Claiburne but nobody ever calls him that. They all call him Red even though his impressively large beard is as white as snow.  And he drives a really big white van."
Now her eyes and mouth were as big as dinner plates.  (Maybe I will have to share some of the therapy money with her family...give generously!)
Turns out her mother and I were friends from church when we were in junior high, high school, and beyond, and it has been nice getting to know her family after these (mumblemumble) decades that we hadn't seen each other. 

Needless to say, I now know the connection when Kristiana says her name. 

I told you that story so I could tell you this one.  The kids were over at our house playing and giggling.  The girls were huddled together and talking about boys.  I have no idea if that is what they were really talking about...but one can assume.  The boys were both being mortally wounded in a vicious Nerf blaster war.   And then a beautiful thing happened.  All of the kids started playing together.  No coercion.  No reluctance.  They just sort of started hanging out.  And then three of them took off running to all parts of the house.  One was left standing, counting up to forty.  Hide and seek!  I used to love that game.  As Kristiana (also known as "it" for the game) was walking around trying to make another person "it" I thought, "Hey!  They all have cell phones...I wonder who was smart enough to turn off the ringers.  As I was resisting the urge to grab my cell phone and start calling people, Kristiana called out in a sing songy voice, "Re-e-e-e-e-d Robi-i-i-in...." hoping that someone would answer with "Yummmmmm."  For those of you in other countries,or other places that may not have this restaurant, you can watch their little jingle here.  It's a clever little thing and I was very proud of the comedic abilities of my daughter!  Then she reached for her phone.  She said, "Jake just texted me ... 'Yum'!" 

I LOVE living here! 

Now I need to go disconnect the television...they obviously have been watching too much.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A New Scheme

I know the recurring theme in my blog has been "Get Rich Quick" and then retire in our new blog-paid-for forty foot motor home (with an H2 as a tow car), but 'quick' doesn't seem to be in the cards.  I am adopting a new plan as of right wait...almost...timing is everything...waiting...ok, Now!  So there you go.  I have a new scheme in the works.  I call it my, "Get Rich Really Really Slowly" plan.  At this point it is working like a charm!  (even though I have officially been on this plan for only about twenty seven seconds now)

Ever since I allowed ads to be placed on the blog I have been amazed at how the numbers have been ad'ing up. (really bad pun intended)  The number of dollars in my ad revenue account has been climbing faster than the number of people who choose to wrestle, polar bears, wearing meat clothing, with their hands tied behind their backs, blindfolded, underwater, on the twenty ninth of February!  Compared to those numbers, I don't want to brag, but the word skyrocket comes to mind!  It's getting a little overwhelming.  I felt the need to step back and take stock in what I was really trying to accomplish.  It hit me.  I want lots and lots of people to read what I write.

I have already written to our two newspapers in this area, Editor Lisa Wrenn at The Argus and the good people over at the Tri City Voice.  I have to tell you, the response has been an awakening.   You know that saying about a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters for a million years and they will eventually bang out the complete works of Shakespeare?  Well these newspapers are waiting for the monkeys to finish up before they write back to me.  Good news though...I hear that one of the monkeys has already finished a draft of Hamlet but is having to rework it because she had a little trouble with her iambic pentameter.  (take that everyone who said you would never use the things you learned in high school!) 

With "paid for writing in the newspaper" not being part of my biography I started to think about ways to make more money.  Wandering the parking lot looking for spare change came to mind.  Too much walking.  Delivering papers on my bicycle rather than writing for them.  Too much pedaling.  Holding an arrow shaped sign on the corner advertising new apartments for rent.  Too much twirling.  I came to the realization that I am lazy.  Sitting at the computer typing is about the peak of my daily exercise.  (If my doctor is reading this, it is a total lie...didn't you read on April Fools day that I go to the gym daily?  Go with that.)  And then I started thinking, maybe there are other people out there who are just as, let's say, relaxed in the amount of effort they wish to exert.  I could help them. 

The best way to begin a new venture (according to moments of imaginary research) is to start with what you know.  I'm a teacher.  I know kids.  Then, think of something that they really like to do.  Coloring.  Then focus in on my selected target audience.  Motivationally challenged.  And, Voila!  Coloring books for lazy kids!  I am already in the middle of designing my book.  You may be thinking that coloring books have been done and done and there's nothing new to say in that genre.  I beg to differ.  My books will feature animals.  Actually they will feature a select group of animals that have been under-represented in the coloring book arena...until now!  My book will feature, Zebras, Dalmatians, Penguins, Pandas, Skunks, and Polar Bears (not the ones people wrestle).  When the market is saturated with these I will come out with a companion set that features the more exotic white tigers and all animals albino.  I could market them to two groups of people.  One book would come by itself and one would be for the more advanced child and come with a white crayon attached.  If that doesn't fit into my "Get Rich Really Really Slowly" plan then I don't know what does! 

Following the success of my newest book series newspapers will have to beg me to write for them!  Well maybe not beg.  It would be nice if they asked.  I'm getting a little tired of running all over town and inserting copies of my blog into peoples' papers...too much taping.  So wish me luck!

It's only a matter of time until the pennies start rolling in...of course I'll have to wait until someone walks by to help me pick them up...too much bending.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Off The Hook...

So here I sit, humbly, my head in my hands, sorrowful look on my face, wearing the tuxedo that I always wear when I write my blog (and not, as some people have questioned, in my underwear), and I have a heavy heart.  It seems that I tricked a few of you into thinking that I was really going to be on TV for writing my blog.  I actually may be on TV one day but it would probably just be my driver's license photo and they would be talking to people who say, "He was such a quiet neighbor.  Kept to himself mostly.  Took him forever to take down his Christmas lights."  If you have no idea what I am talking about, and didn't read yesterday's blog, I suggest you stop reading this and go here for a minute.  Really, it would help explain.  But I digress...

Back to my apology.  Am I sorry?  Well sorry is such a complicated word.  It's overused really.  I have my kindergarteners say it about three hundred times a day.  Do they mean it?  Probably not, mostly. (isn't my 'sentence' structure amazing!)  Then there's Tom Cruise and his wife.  If I had an internet connection right now I would look up who his wife is...but I don' I can't.  Even though I am completely interested in all things Tom Cruise.  Alas, for the lack of an internet connection.  Well back to writing my WWWEB LOG.  As I was saying about the word sorry.  It seems to me that Tom has a kid named Sorry.  I can only imagine that his very famous wife, who I just can't seem to remember now, might have named him (or her) Sorry to make up for having a dad with somewhat odd behavior.  This just handed to me by my crack, imaginary, research staff.  It seems that Tom Cruise and his, I'm sure, lovely wife have named their child Suri not Sorry!  That clears up a lot about Suri.  I would like to wish him (or her) the best of luck and if I have offended any of the family Cruise I would like to say, from the bottom of my heart, "I am Suri...I mean Sorry."  (What do you think?  Have I blown my chances to have Tom play me in the movie they make about my blog?  He would hate having to wear stilts while filming anyway)  [will someone please remind me to take this last part out before I publish this...thanks]

Back to my prank.  I don't know what came over me.  I would like to say that I came up with that idea months ago and had been plotting and planning and waiting for April Fools day to roll in.  But, much like my Master's thesis, I waited until the last minute to bang it out on the keyboard.  I just woke up and thought, "Hey, I could write a fake blog for today."  It almost made me late for work but it was totally worth it!  (Wait, I was supposed to be apologizing...take it down a notch Jeff, take it down.)  I really feel bad for everyone who fell for it hook, line, and sinker.  And now I apologize to everyone who has no idea that "hook, line, and sinker" is a fishing term that means, literally, that you swallowed the whole thing.  This must be the day for sorrys.  Sorries?  Sorry's?  Suris?  (again I apologize for not knowing which to is this getting tedious!)

I would also like to apologize to Sylvia because I made reference to that sister wives show and said, jokingly, that I would only take two more wives for my reality show.  You are my one and only Sylvia.  I love you.  And on the other side of that same apology, I need to say sorry to the rest of the female population of the Earth who very likely caught their breath and said, "Oh Crap!  He's going to try to get two more wives?  I hope he doesn't mean me!"  Again, Mea Culpa. 
Actually, it seems like most people "got it" for what it was.  A joke blog.  I didn't want to, at the end of yesterday's blog, say, "Happy April Fools Day!"  That, to me, feels like someone who needs to say "the end" when they are done telling a story.  If your story is good enough, you won't need to say that it has ended.  (In my humble opinion)  In my defense, I did say as the last line in the blog that I hoped everyone had a great April first!  I suppose it's a phenomenon like another day in America.  If you ask someone if they are doing something on July 4th they may ask, "Why?  What's up?"  But if you ask what they are doing on the Fourth Of July, they will know you are referencing that most important of holidays in America.  The Sales of Cars and Appliances! (I'm worried about the future of our country)

And finally, I would like to say that I was "gotten" yesterday...dozens of times!  Let's see, I had several spiders on my head, my shoelaces were untied, I had a spot on my shirt, and when I turned around to see who tapped me on the back, no one was there!  More times than I can count!  This is where I need to point out, again, that I teach kindergarten and this is the level of prank that you get.  It comes with the job.

What also comes with the job is working with Lisa.  That's right Lisa!  I'm calling you out!  Lisa handed me a cookie as I was walking out of a classroom where there was just a reward party for outstanding achievement.  There were pizzas, drinks, and ice cream sandwiches.  When I walked out, Lisa handed me an Oreo, out of an Oreo box.  No problem right?  Well I sucked it down like a dog gobbles anything that smells remotely like food.  (as an aside, I have figured out where the remote went the day after we ate ribs while watching Jeopardy)  Only later did Lisa call me and ask me how it was.  When I said, "When did Oreo start making mint?"  She told me that the center was toothpaste.  Anyone know the number for poison control, or how about those guys you can hire to get back at people?  Hah hah.  Very funny Lisa.  When you least expect know the rest.

I'm not usually a big pranker.  I don't want to make people feel bad.  There is just something about April first that makes me want to do one prank.  I usually try to make it at least believable and never with a mean spirit.  I know people who would say that horrible, awful things had happened to them, car crash, hospitalized, getting a divorce, death in the family...things that would make reasonable, compassionate people feel terrible or moved to tears!  Then, in the name of a joke, say, "April Fools!" and think that that's ok.  I would never do that.  But April Fools Day is a little different now than when I was single.  All I had to do back then was talk to one of the women I worked with and tell them that I had "met someone" and was getting married.  If I got married, back then, as often as I said on April Fools Day I would have my own reality show.  Or my own prison jumpsuit!

The End

Friday, April 1, 2011


I am still pinching myself!  But carefully because I don't want to show up looking like an abuse victim on the first day.  I have finally been contacted by someone who has the ability to make me rich and famous.  I know friends have been saying that since I started writing the blog but now it seems that it is real.  Let me explain...

Someone who reads the blog, anonymously, passed it along to their boss.  Turns out their boss is some sort of big wig at a television station that I am not supposed to mention right yet.  (but it rhymes with miscovery)  Well they thought my writing was mediocre (I know, ouch) but they thought I sounded like I would be a funny guy to hang around.  He also said that he didn't particularly care for sitcoms so he didn't want to hire me to be a writer and make one up.  (OK?  So what, you want me to clean your pool and tell you knock knock jokes?)  Well this guy is who they call the King of the Reality Show!  Long story short...(I know, when has that ever applied to me?)  They want me to be on TV!!

They said that there isn't a lot of guaranteed money along with this at first, one of my first questions, but if I play my cards right I may be able to make money with product placement in our home.  Apparently they have a crew armed with that blue painters' tape to cover all the labels in the house until the company pays them.  Nice work if you can get it, I guess.  I am hoping that Porsche will want to be a sponsor early on!  With my luck it will be some sort of medicated ointment that'll want to be first.  "No Seriously!  that's just the way I walk.  I'm good."

I know what you are Sylvia good with all of this?  Well, with the economy all depressed and all she thought that it might be able to work.  She just was worried that we would have trouble keeping our relationship strong in the midst of all of these people.  I said, "Honey!  I will only marry two other women and have only five other kids.  Not like those weird sister wives people!"  (she didn't laugh but agreed that America might think it was funny when I said it)  I then told her that in addition to the the blue tape crew, there was a mop and dust crew (so everything looks nice on camera) and that kind of tipped the scale a bit too. 

Now the rub, they don't want this to be "just another reality show" so there would be a difference.  Apparently they have a new internet capability for stations and they want mine to be the first one that is about people being followed 100% of the time for a year!  I suggested, A Year In The Life as the title, and he said, "leave the sucky title creation to me kid."  (He's probably younger than me and called me kid...HA!)  For TV they will choose highlights of the week to show but if people want to see it live and happening they will just have to log on to the computer.  When he first told me I said, "Sorry pal, I have a bashful bladder.  I'm hanging up now."  He assured me that nobody wanted to see that (well some people did but just eww!) and that of course I would have to have a little private time.  He said that I would get some alone time with Sylvia but with the kids he wanted to see what was going on most of the time.  When I said, "And everyone goes away when we sleep, right?"  Well I guess it would be like that Big Brother show where there are cameras mounted that would just be downloading into a giant computer somewhere.  (Get ready America!  I snore!)  One cool thing is that all of my students' parents have already signed "Non-disclosure consent to tape blah blah blah" forms and the students for next year will need to agree to this before they are admitted into my class.  (Honestly, I think the munchkins will be the stars of the show)

So we are in the finalizing stages.  I think that it will be interesting.  I think it will be fun at times, hard at times, and interesting most of the time.  They are looking for it to start at the beginning of next month so we have not a lot of time to get going.  I have to organize the garage.  We have to clean out the closets.  We have to buy a bunch of smart looking books to put on our bookshelves.  I have to bribe the people at the gym to make it look like I have been coming every day for the last two years!  I look forward to all of you seeing me on TV.  OK, I'm off to the gym! (like I do every day of the year!  Duh!)

That leaves exactly one month for you to suck up to me so you can say, "I knew him when."  The countdown has begun.  We start May first...hope you all enjoy your April first.