Sick Week

A few weeks ago (probably the same week as the events in this post happened), my principal told another teacher and me that he was probably going to have to call school off for the next day since we were almost down to 86% of total school-wide attendance due to illness.  Apparently when 14% of the student population is out sick, you get a free day. “Why 86%?” I asked him.   “Isn’t that kind of a random number?” “What would you prefer to make it?” he asked me. “I don’t know.” I shrugged.   It was about 1 PM and I felt great. I never get sick. So the prospect of sipping a celebratory whiskey barrel-aged beer that evening in anticipation of an unexpected day off sounded pretty darn good.   “99%?” He rolled his eyes and walked away, the voices of the other teacher and me trailing behind him as we volunteered to keep our own kids—who attend the school in which we teach—home the next day in order to fudge the numbers a little bit and earn that reward day off. It reminded me of the time a

Sick Day

Yesterday a student asked me if he could go to the bathroom.  Lately I’ve been moving away from my obnoxious “I don’t know, CAN YA?” response, which I use solely to make fun of those teachers who say it seriously to their students in order to turn an innocent word usage error into a barf-worthy “teachable moment.”   You know the type.   Anyway, I’m afraid if I do it too much, the irony will be lost and the kids will actually think I’m one of those teachers. Instead, I said to Bobby, “You’re in middle school. You’re too old to have to ask to go to the bathroom. Just let me know when you’re going so I don’t lose track of you.” Bobby nodded his head—kind of gravely, I thought at the time—and went on his way. About 5 minutes later, one of the girls lifted her head from the essay I had assigned them. She looked around the room.   “Where’s Bobby?” she asked. I shrugged my shoulders.   “Who knows,” I murmured, my attention focused on the thesis statement in front of me that a stu

The Town Hag

I have such a raging Type A personality now in my mid-forties that I get things done well before their deadlines.  It annoys most people because I brag about it all the time. Like, I’ll be in a teacher’s meeting and suggest that we move dates up: “Why wait until January 5 th to finalize grades for the quarter? Why doesn’t everyone just have them in before we leave for Christmas Break like I do to make it easier on the secretary since she’s the one who has to print the hard copies?”   I put that phrase “like I do” in italics because I hope it helps you to visualize how I drop my voice a hundred octaves and flare my nostrils self-importantly when I say something like that.   It sounds more like “LIKE IIIIIIIIIIIIIII DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO,” in the obnoxious tone of a braying beast. It reminds me of this annoying girl who lives a couple of neighborhoods over from me. I call her the town hag and I try to avoid her, but in a small-ish city like ours, you can’t help but r


I used to be one of those people that things just happened for. It was part of the innocent charm I was born with:  without even realizing I was doing it, I simply believed good things would happen for me, and they did.  I’ve mentioned before that I was a person who ambled through life wearing rose-colored glasses, stopping to smell every flower.  I didn’t think about failure.   I didn’t really think about anything. I walked blissfully through life, letting good things befall me because I didn’t question that they would.   And they always did. My friends both marveled at it and hated me for it. Senior year of high school, I had no doubt that I would be voted homecoming queen.   So when the assistant principal’s voice crackled through the intercom and she started announcing the ten girls who had been chosen by their peers to be on homecoming court, I sat back in my chair and waited patiently.   I knew I would hear my name.   I wasn’t even stressed when she got to the ninth name

Stoop Down: A Christmas Story

There’s an apple orchard in our small town that, every Christmas season, is transformed into a stroll-through Christmas light “show.”  I’m not going to say much about how I felt about paying $40 for my family to walk through a field for 15 minutes before already arriving back at the car, and I’m not going to say much about it because I like to support local businesses and it’s Christmas. I’m also not going to say much about it because hey, it’s something to do and I’m never going to balk at someone adding attractions—no matter how overpriced and unimpressive—to our little town. What I will say is that as soon as we got back into the car, I took a deep breath and cleared my throat.   “Um…I would like to apologize to everyone,” was all I had a chance to utter before my entire family burst into fits of giggles and the jokes began. “We should’ve just taken a dump on $40 and then flushed it down the toilet!” my husband exclaimed. (A few days have passed in which I’ve had a bit of time

Ehrlichiosis: It's a Thing, I Promise

I recently spoke out about my dad’s pet tick Omar .  (I love using phrases like “spoke out about” when it comes to my dad’s antics; it makes me feel like a real celebrity who exaggerates trauma for book sales.) It was traumatic, but speaking out about Omar reminded me of the time in high school that I almost died from a tick disease, which was called—and I swear I’m not making this up; who could possibly make this up?— ehrlichiosis. I don’t know if you know this about me, but my four siblings and I were raised by my dad because my mom was too busy gallivanting around small town farm animal swap meets, buying goats to use as lawn mowers after guzzling Bud Lights all day (true story; we’ll delve into that in another post) with random boyfriends she’d met at her job at the chicken plant after she left my dad.   That lady was livin’ the dream.   Who could blame her? In any case, my dad is and always has been a really good dad, so he more than made up for us not having a mom around.

Zip Lining

Every year at the start of August*, when my pool days are dwindling and I’m getting the itch to get back into my classroom to set up, I begin to think, with a mixture of summer nostalgia and a touch of excitement for fall, of my favorite summer memories… …like the July several years ago when my dad got a tick on his back and allowed it to suckle until it was as fat as a pulsating cantaloupe because his metal spatula, as he explained later, wasn’t long enough to reach it and scrape it off.   So he decided to just “let it hang out for a while,” naming it Omar and using the spatula as a mirror so he could say hi to Omar’s reflection when he “felt a little lonely.” (My dad is a bachelor and all of us kids are long out of the house but don’t let him fool you when he’s trying to gain sympathy or attention—he prefers it that way until he has a tick stuck to his back.) My brothers and sisters and I didn’t know anything about Omar, but we began to get a bit concerned when we would visit Dad