Friday, September 24, 2010

It's not that I'm a bad person...'s just that there is just sooo much stuff out there that I couldn't give a fuck less about.

Is your homework late? If so...please put it in the trash. Unless the reason it is late is because last night you became a quadraplegic and you haven't yet gotten used to typing with your breath activated stylus then...I don't care. Any other excuse offered better involve some sort of bloodletting or you are wasting my time.

Here's the thing, when I was in high school, if something horrible had happened the night before and I didn't get my work in, then I got a zero on that assignment. However, in some sort of miraculous fashion, in a trend rarely seen today, I always kept my grades as high as possible in case something happened like that.

I believe I had something due the day after my grandfather died and I spent that night with my family instead of reading whatever chapter I was supposed to read. The next day at school the teacher asked, "Mr. Harris...where is your homework?" My response was, "I'm sorry, but I didn't do it." The end. I didn't beg for more time. I just accepted it as something shitty that happened and technically I still COULD have done my homework, but I opted not to as I thought spending time with my family was more important. Guess I figured I'd just have to study harder for the next test to bring my grade back up. Shit happens. Was I supposed to blame the teacher? Blame grandpa for passing away on a school night? Heck, maybe if I had gotten the assignment done a day early instead of wasting my study hall time talking to girls, it wouldn't have been an issue at all?

Not today. Oh heck no. You wouldn't believe the crap I get for making due dates and sticking to them.

..but my pony was sick.

Does your pony usually help you with your homework?


I still don't care, now go sit down.

I didn't get it done because my girlfriend and I broke up last night.

Good.  Guess you will have more time for your homework in the future.  By the way, your girlfriend is today and always has been a whore.  Congratulations on finally figuring it out.  Now go sit down.

I didn't get it done because I'm in a bad place right now.

YOU'RE in a bad place? You should be on the other side of this desk for a minute listening to the crap coming out of your mouth. Now THAT'S a bad place.  Now go sit down.

Can I take the test tomorrow? I didn't get a chance to study because I had a basketball game.

So? I spent two hours at the grocery store,  got home and exercised my dog, cleaned up my dog's puke from the living room carpet afterwards, then got online to shuffle money from account to account to minimize my latest bounced check damage, helped my kid with her homework, called the phone company to try to figure out how they screwed up my bill this time, worked on laundry mountain, all while mentally planning out everything I had to do at work today and drinking a liter of vodka.  I still got my shit done and I am hungover to boot. Fuck me. I WISH I had gotten to play basketball last night.  Now go sit down.

I'm not a bad person.  I just wish more people could just accept things and move on.  Always needing to find someone at fault for every bad thing that happens just leads to rampant self-pity. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Public Mind Defecation

Ergh'em...cough...*grunt*...Okay...I force myself...I mean...I write during the first fifteen minutes of seminar period on M,T,R,F every week just as I require my students to do. Often the case is that just random drivel comes out and nothing more ever comes of it, but I sorely need to keep writing in an effort to knock some of the rust from the more poetic parts of my brain.

I've been very good at writing whenever the students write even though sometimes there seems to be so many other more pressing duties to attend to. Too often I just end up writing about my events of the day or writing my todo list for the rest of the week and it really amounts to no more than mindless keyboard rattling.

No insights come. I don't find myself drawing grand parallels between my continuing wars against my personal demons and thus enlightening myself. I haven't yet discovered the plot line behind my first mediocre novel. I would say "my first great novel," but I'm a humble bugger and thus I will settle for "mediocre."

Most days I don't sense any cleansed karma from confessing my sins via the point of a pen or the pixels of a computer screen. I rarely feel like I am any closer to identifying who I really am nor feel any closer to the center of the universe.

But for some reason, I feel less when I not writing regularly. Less how? I don't know exactly, but definitely less. I'm not sure if I have a strong desire to write because I have some sort of inflated idea of my writing gift and would feel bad if I didn't use it or if I have something more like a masochistic authoring OCD.

I haven't yet achieved the level of authorial honesty I truly would like. I think I may not have yet worked up my courage enough for that yet. After all, I do believe that my mom and my sister do still read some of this stuff and some of the poison pen honesty I look up to in other writers may simply cost me more of a price in my dignity and than I am willing to pay.

I think that is why I keep waiting for some sort of fiction plot to pop into my head that just calls on me to write it out. Fiction is safer. I could blame everything on my characters. ("What? No, I have never masturbated in a stall in the college library. But this character I am writing about has.") But when it comes to fiction, once I work through a plot in my head for a few days, I am already bored by it. I simply have much more fun trying to be cynically funny about the real ridiculousness of the human condition than anything else.

So here I sit....again. Trying to kickstart my writing module....again, and hoping that forcing myself to put things out in the public eye will force me to write about something, anything, other than my weekly to do list.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I've been decidedly stagnant recently. I basically had to quit listening to the news because the BP spill was depressing me so much that I was finding myself being really, really down all the time.

Now we are bargaining for a new teaching contract and I'm worried about what will happen the new health care practices kick in. There are only so many times that we can absorb a 6%-15% increase in insurance costs every single year.

The hard thing to deal with in our current contract negotiations is the old boss would have looked at our first offer as being reasonable and signed it on the spot. Now we have a different boss in charge and fair compensation isn't in his vocabulary. Apparently he is more interested in getting a "win." He wants to be able to go back to the school board and say he got us to sign for a minuscule amount when in reality, sometimes a win should just mean seeing that the teachers get a fair (not exorbitant) raise and let life move on.

So that is making it real hard to keep a happy face about things. Our school's fund balance is up around $700,000 k right now or roughly 30% of our budget which is 2 to 3 times higher than what is recommended. Four years ago, our fund equity was at $8,000 and the teachers were asked to sacrifice salary in an effort to help the school build that fund equity back up. So in four years, the fund equity went from $8,000 to $700,000 and we still can't get a raise that will keep up with the cost of living increases.

It's more than ridiculous. In fact we were offered a bigger raise when the fund equity was at $8,000 than we are being offered now when it is approaching 3/4 of a million dollars. That's just insulting. So basically we can't get a cost of living increase when the fund equity is low because we need to build it back up. Then when the fund equity is high, we can't get a decent raise because the new guy has declared the fund equity level to be untouchable. Nice. Oh, not only that, but so far we have a $103,000 excess in this year's budget. Yes, I said excess. So apparently we are going to put that money in the bank, too so next year our fund equity will bloat to about 35% of our total annual budget or 2.5-3.5 times bigger than it is supposed to be.

I understand the need for school boards to be fiscally responsible, but I wish from time to time they would realize that our teaching staff is not asking for the moon. We want compensation that doesn't make us feel like we are being taken advantage of. So we can walk the halls feeling like what we do is appreciated on some level. Being a teacher is a lot like being a cop or a referee. No one notices the job your are doing unless they feel like you screwed up.

All I know is the sooner we get this contract done, the sooner I can quit worrying about it and devote more of my mental energy to my students. It's all just quite depressing.