Saturday, February 11, 2012

You annoy me, kid

I'm sorry to say that so far teaching middle schoolers has not given me much hope in the goodness of human nature.

When I taught English to immigrant adults I was often encouraged by the tenacity of people who would come to a 2 hour class after a 10 hour work day and before a night of housekeeping in order to learn the skills to give their families a better life.

And even though I'm no idealist, it made me think... just sometimes ....that maybe people are basically good after all.

But teaching their ruthless kids has made me take that all back.

In the past few days alone:

I had one 6th grader, 11 or 12 years old, just start to punch and smack another kid in classout of the blue. The punchee was in tears afterward, too embarrassed to go to go to the nurse or the bathroom or even talk to me. I still don't know what happened.

-I had a whole group of 7th graders laughing hysterically over an art project of the various subway lines hanging on the wall. I really couldn't understand why the fact that the Ruggles station had been left out was so hilaaaarious. It was only when the artist came up to me afterward in tears asking to take the project down that I realized that they were only using the drawing to torture the poor kid.

Oh, I know.

Someone meant to teach urban kids would be more understanding. They're just children, all horribly insecure, wanting approval and attention, bad home lives, rough neighborhoods, multicultural adjustments, yada yada yada....

But dang those mean kids piss me off.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Warning: Cat people click away

I like cats.

Or, I think I like cats. It's difficult to tell...right now, cause my judgement of them is being strongly colored by my extreme annoyance with the little ball of fur that covers everything in our apartment in long white hairs.

The cat. It has a name, but I don't condescend to use it. "Cat" or just "the cat" does fine. And sometimes "Heeeey, HEY! NO! Stupid thing..."

Don't be seduced by apparent kitty cuteness.

I try to be fair, though, you know. Cat pros and cons:


Seeing kitty poo every time I go to the bathroom.

Kitty litter under my feet in the bathroom constantly.

Fighting the urge to tell my apartmentmate to clean up after it constantly.

Finding cat hair in my food.

Keeping the door to our room shut constantly.

Gagging at canned cat food smell.

Losing half our plant, which apparently looks like catnip.

Stumbling out into the living room at 2AM to search under the coach for that dang noisy ball.


Bonding with roommate over how much we hate the cat.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I'm Nickel... get it?

I went to a party with a periodic table of elements theme last night.

My costume was clearly much too advanced.

Although Mendelevium, with a picture of peas on her shirt, definitely had me beat on required explanation time.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Meet... me.

You already have, maybe. But these days I feel like I hardly recognize myself. And it's been a long while since I've written anything, so we might as well start from the beginning anyway.

Ok, not the beginning beginning. The new beginning.

A month and a half ago I was a student in a little town in MA called Wenham. There was a lot of people who grew up 15 minutes from that town who'd never heard of it. I was a student at an even smaller liberal arts Christian college. I was sharing an on-campus apartment with 5 other girls. I had a car that I put a dent in the very last month it was in my keeping. I had substantial financial support from my parents in groceries and books and the general costliness of continual breathing in and out.

No longer.

I don't really miss that me. She was good in her day, but it was time to move on. I've really never been much of rear view mirror kind of girl anyway.

So...on with it.

I now live in a 2 bedroom Alllston, MA, a borough of Boston. I have a new roommate, Sarah, a long time friend at Gordon. And we have a new apartmentmate a la Craigslist named Rob. Two new apartmentmates, actually, including a cat named Coda.

Finding the place was not a Sunday walk in the park, let me tell you. But it's a good location, a comfortable space, and a short walk from the Boston T, public transportation.

And for the final chapter of my little saga: I am now a middle school Spanish teacher at an inner city Charter school in Bay Village, Boston. Which was actually the first job I applied to back in October, a month after which they dropped all contact and I applied for every other job under the sun and cultivated a nice ulcer until they decided to pick it back up again halfway through December.

But more on the job later. Believe me, much more.

Right now, my roommate is out working, I just ate way too many cookies, I'm on the last bit of A Heart for Freedom, and that top bunk is really quite cozy.

Go crazy!

So, toodleloo from Gordon St.

Nice to see you again. It's been too long, really. Don't let it happen again.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Christma-Thanksgiving

My holiday with family in Belleville:

(Where Pennsylvania lives up to its stereotypes.)

Bugged family.

Devoured too much popcorn.

Visited a country store.

Had my camera stolen several times by this one.

Played a rousing game of White Elephant Christmas exchange.

And, as always, ate way too much food in my Mema's garage.

And a Merry Christma-Thanksgiving to all the Werner family!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

And we shall call him Scruffy

Yesterday Kara and I were dreaming on Skype about the day that we return to South America.

Our dreams are very concrete:

Kara: Lets get a dog when we live in Buenos Aires.

Me : Ok, we'll get a dog! I don't know what types of dogs they have in Argentina...

Kara: Oh! Can we get an ugly dog? I love ugly dogs.

Me: But I love wrinkley dogs! (pathetic face)

Kara: They are ugly.

Me: Fine. An ugly wrinkley dog.

Kara: Good. But you know we'll just end up with a stray or something...

Me: You can't take in street dogs in South America!

Kara: Well, a mutt then. Oh! And we have to find friends to leave it with when we go. Or just leave it with one of our ex-boyfriends.

Me: We'll have many. Or the dog can just be our excuse not to go back: "Nope, sorry, how could we leave? What would the dog do?"

We didn't get to naming it. C'mon now. Choosing a name already would just be ridiculous.

You can't just plan every detail of life like that. :)

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Some PA Dutch dialect that needs preserved

Recently in my linguistics class we've been discussing dialects, different ones used across the US and our own.

And so ever since I got out of my linguistics class this morning I've been thinking about (And consulting the great oracle Google about) the way I speak, the way my grandparents spoke, and the different words and phrases I associate with the older PA Dutch folks in my church.

Cause that's what my family is, Pennsylvania Dutch through and through, (see the different clothing my relatives are wearing up there? Picture stolen from my Aunt's facebook page. Thanks Rachel!) but a lot of the dialect has been watered down and lost as the Mennonite community loosens up, moves away, and just generally integrates.

I've been bothering my apartment mates all morning with "Do you say it like this? Do you use this word?"

Here's some of the things I've come up with, most of which I never really thought about as coming from the Pennsylvania Dutch heritage before:

Dippy eggs: eggs you make in which the yolk isn't firm and you can dip bread in them. Really, it shocks me that you've never heard this before!

Dersn't: Dare not or better not. You dersn't eat all the scrapple now.... your Dad needs some yet!

Outen: To turn off. Can you outen the lights when you leave?

"Set" : To be idle, or to be for show. "On Tuesdays, Rachel comes just to set." "We use those candles sometimes, but these are just to set."

"All" to say "gone." "The milk's all" instead of "The milk's gone."

"Yet" like still. "The milk's gone but there's yogurt yet." Or, "I have to finish this paper yet, and then we can play."

"Sooner" and "as" in place of "rather" and "than." And not in the dramatic movie start "I'd sooner die!" way, but the ordinary "I'd sooner stay here as go to the store" way.

"What fer" often to say "what type," "What fer car was he driving?" But also as "whatever" and sometimes just thrown in there for good measure... "What fer book are you reading?"

"Once" not as in "one time," and not as in "once upon a time" either. This usage is hard to describe. I think it usually creates a condition before you do something else. If a child's crying: "Oh, now, I'm sure it's not that bad. C'mere once and let's see." Or if you're indecisive about purchasing a car. "Well, let's get to the dealership once before you make any decisions."

And, as in the title, the leaving out of "to be" before verbs, especially after "need." "The bed needs made. The table needs set. The floor needs swept."

Some of these I say, and some I don't. But now that I've thought about it, I may start reviving some of them again.

Think about it once, and I'm sure that what fer dialect you speak needs examined too. And I'd sooner sound a little strange as lose it completely!