Friday, September 25, 2009

You'll Never Walk Alone

Oh, man. The last two days all of the teachers at MTHS have been dragging - it's just cruel to make the two 14-hour days on Tuesday and Wednesday instead of Wednesday and Thursday!

PLUS! My principal did my formal observation first period on Thursday, so I had that spike in stress (caused mostly by my previous observations. Not the ones at DPJH where, more often than not, the principal would forget to do them and would instead call us into his office right before the paperworks was due and ask, "So, what are some goals you had this year? Mmm hmm." (scribble scribble) "And how did you do at those goals?" (scribble) "And tell me about a lesson of yours that you think went well?" No, those don't cause stress. It was the observations at STMS. The ones the faculty called 'Drive-by Shootings'. So I get a little PTSD whenever I see an administrator in my room.) (Longest parenthetical to date? Perhaps!). That, plus all kinds of fun with the whole speech team debacle that is still leaving me in a pickle. But, again, I don't want to write about that.

Today, though, was a strange day - it was the school's annual day of service. As a memorial, the school dedicates this day each year to service projects, which I think is rather a nifty idea. There were four or five different projects for the students to sign up for, and they rotated during the day. My first assignment was to supervise cleaning the highway. We donned blue gloves, orange vests, and headed out with bags in tow:

(Picture of students in said outfits)

Now, bear in mind that it's been snowing up here all week. Today the weather was turning, but it was still quite chilly. Unlike the teenagers, I had bundled up:

I'm Ready!

(Like the teenagers, however, I sported my iPod headphones in one ear. If I was really cool, I would have run the cord through my shirt to hide it). I wound up loaning my students my gloves and scarf when their fingers turned bright red.

Before trekking down to the highway, the other supervising teachers and I ran down the list of things they shouldn't try to pick up - broken glass, syringes, knives, guns, drugs, wads of unmarked bills, bodies and/or parts of bodies (okay, I contributed the last three to the list. I was in a jovial mood this morning).

My warnings were well advised, though! Not ten minutes into our walk up the freeway, we discovered a body lying among the weeds:

It was totally something out of Law & Bones: Miami. Bom-Bomp!

We also discovered a dead fish, a dead bird, and a soda bottle full of pee. Service is fun!

Actually, it was. Our assignment was to walk up the road until we hit "a purple sign". Two miles away from the school, the kids started to whine about how far we'd gone. "Where's the sign?" they asked me, pleadingly.

"The sign is a lie," I replied.

"Ha! Like the cake!" yelled one kid, which made me immensely happy that he got the reference. Especially since no one there understood why I kept saying "Two by two, hands of blue!" in a creepy voice. I'm working hard to cultivate my reputation as maybe crazy, maybe just weird, drama teacher.

We walked a little over 4 miles total, filled several bags with trash, and admired the loveliness of the leaves up there as the sun rose.

Fall Colors

Plus, I discovered there's a lake on the other side of the football field!


Who knew? (Aside from everyone who's ever driven past the school. Unlike me. 'Cause why would I do a silly thing like that?)

The students started out way more excited than I expected. They raced for each piece of trash, competed to be the first to fill their bags, and seemed genuinely into doing this kind of service.

An hour into it, though, their interest was waning. And what to teenagers do when bored?

(Picture of boys pulling used blue glove over his head and inflating it through his nose)


(And what do their teacher-supervisors do when they pull used gloves over their faces? Take pictures with their cell phones, of course!)

Next up, after lunch, I checked out the other service projects inside: letter-writing to troops, knitting scarves, stuffing envelopes for a charity, and such. I brought home the beginnings of a scarf to finish this weekend for them, and headed outside again to check out the major project of the day: Habitat for Humanity. On the way, I passed a group of freshmen cleaning out the pond:

(Picture of freshmen scraping algae out of decorative pond)

The Habitat project was only for kids 16+, but there were still enough volunteers to make three shifts of students. I was supposed to help, but they had tons of volunteers, so I mostly took pictures, helped to hoist up a few walls onto a truck, and made fun of my speech students.

They're fun to tease, 'cause they play along. Like so:

(Picture of one student posing in a goofy way with a nail while second student pretends to attack him from behind with a hammer)

Oh! I also totally averted tragedy for our football team by finding this:


thereby saving them from certain tetanus and then death. I helped!

Those kids framed a two-story duplex in just a few hours, not to mention all of the others projects accomplished. I'm exhausted, but it was a good day for everyone, I think.

Except, perhaps, that poor deer.


Now I'm off to bed and I'm not going to wake up until I'm ready to! Yay! (Crazy-Kermit-like arm waving ensues.) (But only in my head, 'cause I'm too tired to actually move like a Muppet).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Make Way

It's 6:30 on the first of two long nights. Parent-Teacher Conferences here at MTHS go from 3:00-8:00 (with a break in the middle for dinner). I've only got one more kid scheduled for tonight, and so far there have been no drop-ins, so I'm going to kill some time talking to you.

Here's a comparison between my three schools:

- Conferences went for two nights
- The Friday of that same week was a comp day for teachers
- I was usually hopping from beginning to end at the fall conference
- Parents just showed up and made their way around to whoever they wanted to see/who had the shortest lines
- All of the teachers were in the gym in alphabetical order, which meant that
a) There were people to talk to between sessions (I usually chatted with Watts and Weyrauch) and
b) All of our stuff was in our rooms, so we had to print off grades and tell students to come get papers from us tomorrow.

- Two nights
- The comp day was later in the year... I think that's how they justified Spring Break?
- As the 8th grade team, we were required to call every parent and schedule appointments. Even though we filled the appointment slots, we had parents who would just show up, which would throw off the whole schedule.
- We split the team up into two rooms for conferences (Math and Science in one, Me and History in the other) in one person's classroom. Again, that meant we left supplies/computers behind, but we did get to
a) Share the translator,
b) Talk about writing in both classes (at least History and I did)
c) Protect ourselves against angry parents by having witnesses.

(No, seriously. That was actually the main reason behind meeting in pairs.)

- Two nights
- Comp day's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I'm already tired and don't want to wait that long.
- We stay in our rooms (yay for supply/computer access!)
- Kids or parents can request conferences in advance and sign up for 15-minute appointments. Drop-ins are fine, but, like I said, I haven't seen any yet.
- Things are light. I've seen five parents so far, and I only have one more to go today. Tomorrow's about the same.

Bonus info:
- Only one angry speech parent so far! She left "before [she] started crying" after arguing at me for 20 minutes. Too bad, since her kids are awesome.

I'm not sure yet which system I like the best. DPJH was certainly more jovial (I used to haul down my bungee-chair, a plant, a table cloth, and some mints; just to liven up my table spot), and I wish we had this Friday off. Still, it's nice to be able to sit here and blog while I'm waiting.

Oh, also? The fog's descending outside as I type, and I heard rumors that snow started falling on the pass between MTHS and home around 1:30 this afternoon. I drove the carpool group this morning, which means I'll have to face it in about an hour. AND it's supposed to snow most of the day tomorrow, too, to boot. Ew, ew, ew!

Wish me driving luck, please!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sweet and Low-Down

It was my turn for after-school treats last Thursday, so I have a bunch of ripe bananas. I let them get all brown over then weekend and decided tonight would be perfect for some baking.

Why? Well, this:

Freakin' Snow!

Yup. On the last day of summer, MTHS got hit with snow. It was really, really foggy as I drove to work this morning - for about 20 miles, I could only see 10-30 feet in front of me. Fun!

Then, during first period, the fog turned to minute blowing snow. My students noticed and their attention was lost. I told them they could take a moment to admire/mourn the snow if I could recite a poem for them about it. They agreed (of course), and I recited this, one of my favorites by Taylor Mali (and one of my favorites from our play).

The attention and the energy was scattered all day. I had a pow-wow with my drama class, and we agreed that three weeks was not enough time to get Romeo and Juliet sufficiently ready, so we moved the show to early November (which makes me breathe a little easier). The speech students are doing better with all of the changes (which I should tell you about, and perhaps will soon, but I'm tired of thinking about it right now), but their parents are still freaking out.

After school, I shoveled the snow off my car and dashed over to do a walk-through of the condo my parents are buying in mountain town. I'm excited for it as a weekend retreat for them and as a snowed-in/early-morning-speech-meet shelter for me.

So, once I got home, I was totally ready to bake, even though the weather outside of the canyon wasn't nearly as bad:

Weather in Littleton

I was going to make good ol' banana bread, but I found this recipe. With this topping. Throw in some chopped pecans for good measure and how can I resist?

Their picture's going to be better than any my iPhone takes, so that one's from the link.

Tomorrow and Wednesday are Parent-Teacher Conferences. 3-8pm both days. At least they're in our rooms, so I can get some work done inbetween. Still, I'm dreading the long week. And we don't get our compensation day until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Ew.

So, Happy End-of-Summer, wish me luck driving to work tomorrow, and I'm off to eat a banana cupcake. Tah!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I'm Back!

I'm Back!
Originally uploaded by chitarita


Originally uploaded by chitarita
Who spent quite some time licking my hands and arms


Originally uploaded by chitarita


Originally uploaded by chitarita

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kelley and her Cuties

Kelley and her Cuties
Originally uploaded by chitarita
The DPJH gang got together for dinner at Spaghetti Factory tonight.
(Ben's there too, but I didn't get a picture of him.)

Me and Janelle

Me and Janelle
Originally uploaded by chitarita

Stopping for Caffine

Stopping for Caffine
Originally uploaded by chitarita

Friday, September 18, 2009

Visiting McOmber

Visiting McOmber
Originally uploaded by chitarita
at his bouncer job after the show.

John and Ben

John and Ben
Originally uploaded by chitarita

Totally Inappropriate

Totally Inappropriate
Originally uploaded by chitarita


Originally uploaded by chitarita

Whoo Again!

Whoo Again!
Originally uploaded by chitarita

A Good Omen?

A Good Omen?
Originally uploaded by chitarita
(Im referring to the rainbow in the distance, not the car in the


Originally uploaded by chitarita
(Sorry for the obscuring reflection.)

For Dining al Fresco?

For Dining al Fresco?
Originally uploaded by chitarita

Well, that's new!

Well, that's new!
Originally uploaded by chitarita
On the SW corner of Temple Square

Mah Rental

Mah Rental
Originally uploaded by chitarita


Originally uploaded by chitarita
DIA got free Wifi!


I'm live-blogging again!
This time, you can vicariously accompany me on my weekend dash to SLC
to see my play. Not quite as thrilling as Chicago or Istanbul, but
still! Exciting photos to come!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Light My Candle

Tonight I'm wondering this:

If I burn out of teaching,
If they eliminate the arts/electives from public schools,

What else could I possibly do for a living?

Today was a hard day, following a difficult weekend.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Something Has Happened

Somewhere over the Rockies right about now, there's an audience of strangers watching a production of my play!

Yup. That little project Heidi and I have been putting together for oh-so-long is being produced at the Rose Wagner Theatre in Salt Lake as part of the Page-to-Stage Festival!

After our play won a staged reading at the festival last year, the fine folks at Wasatch dropped some subtle hints about our resubmitting it for this year's festival (as in, "You are going to resubmit it, right?"). We gladly said we would, and set about revising and editing and such, promising to turn in a new version of the script for consideration by spring.

Heidi went to see one of their productions in April or May. It was actually the evening after she had dropped off our script at the producer's office. To her surprise, when she opened the program an usher handed her that evening, there was a flyer announcing auditions for the festival that fall, including a 'new and exciting play about teaching'! Which means they had already decided to produce our show, even before we had officially entered the contest again!

Unlike our production this summer for SLAC, this one's hands-free for us. We gave them the script and they're running with it. Unlike the staged reading last fall, this is a full-fledged production. The director came to see our SLAC performance, and she seemed quite lovely. Even if they did add a fifth person to the piece, recutting our script for two guys and three girls. That should be interesting to see how it turns out.

In any case, if you're in the Salt Lake area and looking for something to do in the next few weeks, maybe you could consider seeing this little something I helped to make?

The schedule's a little confusing, since they're rotating shows around the time slots as part of the festival. There's a full listing on Wasatch's website. Look for "Making Waves".

And if you'd like to see me (and I hope you do!), I'll be there for the show on Friday, September 18th. There's going to be a panel about education after the show that night and they've asked me to participate.

Also? How cool is this? After all my years buying tickets at Arttix, something I wrote is actually for sale there!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

When I First Saw You

Since my last post was not so pretty, I thought I'd temper it with some of this:

Glee! Glee! Glee!

Rachel and Miranda came down to watch the premier with me tonight. It was AWESOME! (Please imagine Miranda's tone and intonations for that one, as I do in my head.)

I claim unknown and imaginary special privileges because I was a fan of Matthew way before Glee.

There was this:

(That's him in the white suit.)

And this (jump to 1:30):

And, of course, this:

(Zooey Deschanel - ew. I'm not a fan of her.)

But not only him! I also knew Lea Michele from her awesome vocals in this show:

Although her singing power is better demonstrated in this song:

Oh, I love this show. I haven't even mentioned how awesome Jane Lynch is, either. Believe me. She is.

Into the Words

I'm giving weekly vocabulary tests in my English class. They get 10 new words per week, and each week they're tested on the 10 new words, plus 10 of the old words.

I try to make the tests somewhat interesting or quirky, mostly for my own entertainment, but sometimes it's a real stretch of my creativity to come up with 20 sentences or so per week. Sometimes, the results end up like this:

Dr. Horrible looked into his web camera with a(n) (1) ______ expression. His black eye made it obvious that his plan to steal the wonderflonium had been (2) ______(e)d by his arch nemesis, Captain Hammer. As he began telling the story to his faithful blog viewers, though, Dr. Horrible (3) ______ (e)d the tale to make himself look good. He would also (4) ______ly throw in an evil laugh or two, just to practice.

“You’ll see!” he told his camera. “I know I’m being (5)
______ now about my plans. I can’t give the details here. In (6) ______ I shouldn’t have told you about my planned wonderflonium theft. It turns out, the police and the mayor also read my blog. I sort of (7) ______ly ruined my own heist. I should have also used more (8) ______ in describing my status on Facebook ‘Stealing the wonderflonium’ was probably not the (9) ______ sentence to post mid-heist.”

Dr. Horrible looked sad for a moment, then continued with a more (10)
______ tone as his confidence returned. “But you’ll see!” he declared. “All of you who just (11) ______ at me now, you’ll see that my plans are not (12) ______ I’m not an idiot, and I’m not just (13______ing away my time with these heists. You moral, (14) ______ people – even you will (15) ______ me one day when you see the power of my wonderflonium-powered freeze ray! And then all of those who hate the government and society and stupid jerks like Captain Hammer – all (16) ______ people – I will lead them to world domination!”

He laughed evilly again. “Once I get into the Evil League of Evil, their evil funds could (17)
______ my entire operations. But it’s not about making money. It’s about destroying the status quo. Because the status is not… quo. The world’s a mess, and I just need to rule it. I’ll even (18) ______ with Bad Horse, if that’s what it takes to get into the Evil League of Evil. Bad Horse… with his terrible death whinny….”

Dr. Horrible rubbed his eyes tiredly. He hadn’t been sleeping well and he couldn’t shake that feeling of (19)
______. “You’ll see. You’ll all see.”

Just as he reached to turn off the camera, though, the door behind him burst open. Captain Hammer leapt through crying, “Dr. Horrible! I have found your evil lair!” ending the blog post with the words of the arch nemeses (20)
______ (e)d together.

Here are the words:
Ambiguous, Collaborate, Despondent, Detriment, Dexterous, Discretion, Dissident, Embellish, Facetious, Fritter, Gregarious, Inadvertent, Inane, Instigate, Juxtapose, Lethargy, Optimum, Ostentatious, Resilient, Retrospect, Rudimentary, Scoff, Scrupulous, Sensory, Sporadic, Squelch, Subsidize, Venerate, Vicarious, Zealot

How'd you do?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Accident Waiting to Happen


Do you think she was aiming for or away from the Turkish rug when this

The Egg

Metaphor #17 of difference between districts

At Small Town Middle School, one of the student's mothers earned extra money by making tamales and selling them to the teachers every few weeks. They were cheap and yummy.

At Mountain Town High School, one of my students lives on a ranch and owns 17 chickens and offered to sell me some eggs. They are speckled brown and huge.


I should be shooting these with a foodie-blog's beautiful camera, but I'm not.

Naturally, I needed to do something wonderful with these eggs. I boiled a few tonight to make deviled eggs later, but I was in the mood for something sweet. So I made these.

I should have taken lovely, drool-inducing photos of my chocolate-chip pancake muffins like Bakerella, but I didn't.

Instead, I put them on one of my blue plates and put the blue plate in the middle of a circle of red peppers. No reason for that, other than I was carrying around the plate and noticed the peppers laid out on my bar (a project-in-waiting) and the plate happened to fit exactly in the circle I had made of peppers and I really, really like it when things fit perfectly into other things.

So here:

Puffins 'n' Peppers

I should share these with others, but I'm not.


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Into the Fire

For a week now, I've been coming home to this:


And when I leave in the morning, I open the door to find this:

Dutch Angle

(Dutch Angle helps you sense the scariness!)

Mrs. Danvers bides her time, waiting. Teresa emailed me a suggestion after my last post - perhaps Mrs. Danvers isn't here to terrorize me. Perhaps she's here to protect me from the Spanish spiders.

Which, if true, changes things. It means that I am not the timid second Mrs. de Winter. Perhaps I am, in fact, Rebecca. Beautiful, beloved, calculating, and cruel Rebecca. And my quiet companion is not a presence to dread but is actually my dear Danny, guarding my rooms in my absence.

I'm Ready For My Close-up

(See the resemblance?)

Two days ago, as I headed out to work, I turned to lock my door and found Mrs. Danvers hovering over the lock. "Mrs. Danvers," I said in a reassuring tone, "I need to lock my door. I'll be back tonight."

She didn't move.

"I'm not going sailing or anywhere near the ocean. I promise."

She ignored me, pretending not to understand. Finally, I blew gently on her, to encourage her to scuttle away from the lock.

She fell to the floor and shuddered, struggled to get up again.

I felt somewhat bad, but I was running late, so I left her.

When I came home, her post was empty.

The next morning, the next evening, there was no sign of her. I called, but she didn't answer.

Naturally, I am concerned that my apartment will be burned to the ground any moment now.

In any case, Rachel, Ben, Brian, Miranda, and Nate joined me in watching Hitchcock's version of the story last night. It's very good, even with the slight plot change.

But when I got home, I found this:
What's This?

I have no idea what it is or what it means.


I'm fairly certain the spiders are to blame.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

We Share Everything

Here's a new thing I'm trying this week: carpooling.

Tiffany, a history teacher at the school, invited me to join her carpool when we discovered that I live about a mile away from her. She drives with John, a science teacher (Hey, that's familiar!) who lives a bit further east of here. I held off at first, since I was staying late after school each day, settling in. Monday, though, I gave it a whirl.

It's a little painful - I had been leaving at 6:15 each day, but now I had to leave at 5:45 to get to Tiffany's house in time for their leave time of 6:00.

I like it, though. For one, the drive goes faster when there's company. I've been picking up on and taking notes of the school's history through hints and undertones, and asking questions about procedures I still need to figure out. For example? We got a sudden email on Monday saying that the district will be releasing early on Friday - Mountain Town High School lets out at 11:30. Mystified, I asked Tiffany and John what was up - do we have a faculty meeting? Training? CSAP data conference?

Nope. Turns out the traffic up the highway to and through Mountain Town is awful Labor Day weekend, so they're releasing early to help the buses out and make it a little safer for the teen drivers.

And I am totally okay with making that sacrifice. You know, for the drivers.

Anyway, there's one perk of spending and hour and a half with some fellow teachers. The other perk? The savings!

We rotate off driving, so I drove for the first time this week today. My car takes almost exactly one gallon of gas each direction to and from school. That means it costs me about $5 per day to go to work. Which means that I've saved $10 so far this week by carpooling! Which means that if I keep this up, it'll only take me 10 weeks of carpooling to save up the money I have to spend to repair my windshield from the crack in the glass from a semi on the commute to school. Whoo!

Oh, also? Guess who's still hanging around?
See her?
See her?

Found her!
Mrs. Danvers is still stalking me. I think she was planning an aerial attack this time.

P.S. Am watching Glee as I post this. This is the fourth time I've seen the pilot (not counting obsessive clip-watching on Hulu). I lurv this show.