Thursday, May 26, 2011


Everything is annoying me about this subbing assignment:

  • The kids in first period who kept turning on the radio, even after I told them to turn it off; eventually I turned it off multiple times myself before unplugging it;
  • The kids in first period (yep) who threw bunches of staples at me;
  • The kid in second period who kept burping loudly on purpose until I snapped at him to stop;
  • The kids who leave the classroom without asking (there are no hall passes the last two weeks of school);
  • The kids who perpetually ask to be allowed to turn on the stereo ("But the other teacher/sub/adult let us do it!");
  • The kids who eat and drink in class;
  • The kids who are disrespectful, who don't listen when I tell them to do something, and then ask why I'm angry and genuinely don't seem to understand why I'm upset (this confusion is likely an act).

I left first period in the middle of the class today not only to regain my composure but to go to the Main Office to tell the secretaries that they would need to find someone to cover my classes after my prep period. (I changed my mind, but I might reconsider.)

I'm also considering e-mailing the Substitute Teacher Office to advise the woman who works there that she would need to find someone to complete the assignment. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Student Conversation

A student came into my classroom before first period today and asked if I was the sub. When I told her that I was here yesterday, she informed me she hadn't see me here. I noted that I've been here since Monday. She again insisted she hadn't seen me. I just replied, Well, what can I say. She looked at me and left.

I don't quite know what response she was looking for. I don't even think that particular student is in any of my classes.

Administrative & Student Issues Galore

Since Monday, I've been subbing at a middle school in my hometown. (If I had children this age, they would be going to the same middle school; we live within the boundaries of this particular middle school.) I've been here very little, only covering a three-day assignment previously; it's a rough school in that the students are disrespectful and loud. Of course, this could also be because it's the end of the school year and I'm the sub.

Previous English teacher number one, I'm told by the students, had to retire suddenly because of illness; for a week there was no one covering her classes as the school scrambled to find someone to replace her. Previous English teacher number two was the long-term sub; I don't know how long she was here, but long enough to be known, apparently, and long enough to be listed on some of the distributed administrative lists and on the school's homepage (but not long enough to be given a district e-mail address, although her personal e-mail address was listed). For some inexplicable reason, she is not subbing for the last two weeks of the school year, which is where I come in.

On the advice of the contact person at the Substitute Teacher Office, I called the principal to ascertain both how much prep I might be responsible for, and to get pertinent end-of-year information like if there would be a final exam, if there were any weird last-week schedules, etc. The principal told me that she had no idea what the teachers were doing, and that I should be in touch with Mrs. B., the long-term sub. The principal took my name and number, and thus began the process of my attempts of being in touch with Mrs. B.

Mrs. B. left a voicemail with her home number and the request that I call her after 4 p.m. I left two messages (and got no response) before faxing her at the school with my e-mail address. This did the trick; she left me another voicemail, and sent a few e-mails explaining at least in part what was going on, but mostly I had to pick up tidbits from the students and other teachers (there was no final exam, students had until last Friday to hand in all graded work, etc.). Mrs. B. had not left any work for the students, but did mention which themes she had been working on.

I came in with a few ideas, and can honestly say that I have never run into such problems as trying to get this particular body of students to even be quiet while I made repeated requests for their attention. I was also not given attendance sheets or access to the gradebook, so I have no idea what anyone's name is, nor do I have the ability to take attendance. I finally came to the conclusion that if I can't get any particulars or support from the administration or other teachers, I'm here just as a warm body.

First period is easily the most difficult class I've ever subbed for; the students are borderline nasty and outright disrespectful, even throwing bunches of staples and thumbtacks at me; I noticed similar issues with the other classes I subbed for in this school. Even if I were to be offered a position at this school, I would not accept it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Apropos Wedding Picture

Our photographer, Melissa Jaarsma, took some absolutely fantastic pictures of our wedding last weekend. Every day she's uploading a few more, and we've both been really happy with the results.

I have several favorites, but the one taken in the church after the ceremony is up near the top. We giggled ourselves silly when we saw it:


Life Update: Employed

The day after Ed and I got married, I got an official offer of employment from Utah Valley University.

In March I received an e-mail asking if I would be available for an interview. The date of the interview - of course - coincided with a previously scheduled meeting with the priest in Pennsylvania. We rescheduled the meeting with Msgr. Baver and I went on the interview. I was told that by mid-April there would be a better idea of the number of faculty needed to cover classes. I had not heard any news by mid-April, so I e-mailed John, the English department professor with whom I had scheduled my interview, only to be told that the schedule was still being worked on.

Finally, this past Sunday, I got the e-mail officially offering me two sections of English (ENG) 1010 - College Writing I. It was noted that it would make for a long day, but would I also consider teaching a third section of ENG 1010 that met at 8 a.m.? (Yes, please!)

So ultimately I've wound up with three sections of ENG 1010, two of which meet twice a week (Monday and Wednesday afternoons), and one of which meets three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings). This leaves me with two days a week I can continue to be a sub for the Jordan School District.

I think I'm the least-educted person in the English department; although not everyone has his credentials listed, here I am, with 30 graduate credits but technically without an M.A., teaching at a university.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lessons from the Wedding

The day after our wedding, my mother had lunch available for those who might wish to stop by, however briefly, and refuel themselves with sandwiches and the like. Many people had flights to catch, or long drives home, and understandably did not come by; but many folks were able to, which was lovely, since it gave everyone a chance to relax a bit and say a last goodbye before going back to their lives.

My godparents, Dick and Marlene, had driven up from Charleston, South Carolina, and stayed a bit later. I enjoyed their company especially since I hadn't seen them in a number of years. In remembering the events from the wedding, I noted that really, we had no major issues; everything went really very smoothly. We encountered some extremely minor hiccups that, had you not been aware of them, you would not have noticed. The only item that frustrated me a bit more was the response I got from some of the invited guests; Marlene echoed the comment that I had been thinking the past few days in that a wedding really shows you who your real, honest-to-goodness, your-are-really-important-to-me friends are.

Because nearly everyone we invited was geographically scattered, we understood that many might not be able to make it for a variety of reasons. However, as one does, we had to track down a few folks after the RSVP date had passed, in order to get a response.

A wedding is a life-changing event for two people; it may not be as important to the guests, but understand how important it is to your friend or family member. Please, God, I only plan on having one wedding; I don't think it unreasonable for my friends to recognize that this is an important day for me, and to plan ahead and ascertain whether they can make it. I heard from several whom we had invited that they were waiting for the last moment to determine whether they might be able to make it, but there comes to be a certain point where a decision does need to be made. This is not a casual get together; this is something that requires a lot of planning, and a lot of money. Come or don't, but make the decision and recognize that people need to know beyond the reason of wanting your company.

On a related note, we had five no-shows: a family of four (the husband was someone with whom I used to be quite close, and with whom I had reconnected last summer), and another long-time friend. I never did hear from the family man, and the other friend left a vague message on FaceBook noting an issue, but I haven't so much as gotten an e-mail or phone call of explanation or apology.

The few people I had the most trouble with were long-time friends, people I have known for 10 years or more, and from whom I honestly expected better. One friend who hadn't bothered to RSVP until I tracked him down admitted his flakiness. He's 39, and still acts in a manner that's appropriate of someone who is 20 years younger. He and I had a few (non-combative) words. I realized that with this particular person, as well as one of the no-shows, it was I who had been taking the initiative during the past couple of years in keeping the relationship alive; I was rarely asked how the wedding planning was going, or how I was going otherwise. Conversations were almost entirely one-sided; it was I who called, e-mailed, or instant messaged, and it made me wonder if they just had no interest in maintaining the friendship. It's disappointing to think that it's the people whom I'd known the longest had the worst manners.

Lesson #1: If someone purposefully does not reply by the due date, there's a possibility that this person is careless and does not value the importance of the event you're planning.

Lesson #2: It can take a wedding to show which friends can look beyond their own problems temporarily, and want to be there to celebrate your joy and to share in your happiness.

Lesson #3: Sometimes it's necessary to evaluate your friendships. They can change, and one of you might just outgrow the other person. It's sad to leave old friends behind, but it was an eye-opening experience that I wasn't expecting to do at this particular moment.

Caveat: Yes, obviously I know that sometimes there are reasons that people do not reply; invitations and RSVPs can get lost in the mail, which is why one follows up. And terrible things beyond one's control can happen at the last moment; one of our groomsmen, a pilot friend of Ed's, made arrangements with his wife and infant son to come to our wedding, and got screwed by scheduling. These things happen, and one absolutely understands. However, we're not talking about these things happening most of the time. We heard nothing from the no-shows, and no one's RSVP got lost in the mail.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wedding Flowers

I decided to be difficult when it came to my flowers; I did not want roses, or anything really extravagant or fancy; I prefer wildflowers, daisies, sunflowers, etc. Our florist, Mary B.'s, was really helpful, though, and very easy to work with. The bridesmaids had small bouquets of white Gerbera daisies; the flower girl (aged two years and three months) carried a single white Gerbera daisy. My bouquet was Virginia alstroemeria, and the groomsmen and Ed had matching boutonnieres of a single flower bud.  

We also kept the centerpieces simple: It included sunflowers (in different shades of yellow), spray roses (red or orange red), Alaska Shasta daisies, hydrangeas, and one or two others whose names I don't know. Each centerpiece had the same set of flowers, arranged slightly differently, and in different colors, so there was some variation. The Hotel Bethlehem put each centerpiece on a glass pane alongside and two lit tea candles. (The florist included simple glass vases that were one of two shapes, one rounder than the other, so they matched too, being part of a set.)

Wedding Flowers

Life Update: Marital Status Change

So, two big things happened to me this weekend. These two things made my weekend kinda awesome, but for right now, one thing at a time.

First of all, I went and got married. On Friday we held the rehearsal, which went pretty well, although a stupid traffic jam caused groomsmen Jason and Ed's parents to be late, and once we began the rehearsal, the bridesmaids messed up The Walk, and the groomsmen messed up The Escorting Thereof, which frustrated the priest. (The horrors of bad spacing will cause people to start bunching up and we certainly Can't Have That.)  We had the rehearsal dinner at Manor House Inn, which was fantastic. The dinner was really excellent (Mom had chosen a few appetizers, which were circulated, and a few entrees and desserts from which folks could choose. I had the bouillabaisse. It was yummy.) We had about 30 folks at the rehearsal dinner, and everyone got along great. Ed and I sat at a table with Matron of Honor Maria and her new fiancee Alec, whom I'd never met and who has proven his ability to snark, which bodes well; and Best Man Alex and his wife Karen also sat with us. It was a hoot; we got very loud and became That Table that you just don't want to sit next to because you can't hear your own conversation.

The wedding itself was fantastic. (What, too many superlatives?) Our photographer, Melissa Jaarsma, came to the house and took some photos of my Justin, Cheng, my parents, and I being disorganized getting ready before she ran over to the church. I got to the church at the last possible moment, but the ceremony went wonderfully; my mom and aunt did their readings; Ed's mom did hers; Ed's dad did his. Bridesmaid/cousin/fiddler Bronwyn played at the ceremony, too, which did not make me sniffly, and that's the story I'm sticking to.

We had our reception at the Hotel Bethlehem, which did a great job. The bridal party was given a room on the third floor such that we could rest our weary wheels while the staff brought us drinks and some of the appetizers we'd ordered and which were being circulated downstairs. Our ballroom was decorated simply but well, everyone circulated well, and there was much with the dancing. By all accounts everyone had a great time (us included). 

So few things went wrong that it was amazing, and were largely inconsequential details that no one else noticed. I slipped a bit on my dress at the very end walking down the aisle (although folks noticed that one); the priest was apparently irritated that we started a few minutes late, and didn't bother with so much as a "Congratulations!" or "God Bless!" at the end of the ceremony, instead just disappearing into the ether; my dad forgot his vest and forgot to shave; we had five no-shows so one table was about half-filled. (Which, really, people? Show up at wedding if you've said you will.) But there were no problems with vendor arrival or delivery of the cake or flowers; Rick-the-DJ was wonderful, as was Melissa-the-photographer, both of whom were very professional but nice.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Something Old, Something New...

Today's a good day to get married.

I have my something old; something new; something blue; and a sixpence for my shoe. I never did find something to borrow, but that's the silliest of that rhyme anyway.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Marriage License

This afternoon, Ed and I went to the Lehigh County Courthouse to apply for a marriage license. We had to go to Room 123.5. (I wonder why the marriage licensing is part of the Orphans' Court.)

It was quite a process that involved about an hour and a half of waiting; there were a few couples ahead of us, and as we moved on down the line, more couples wound up behind us. The older couple behind us in line were particularly embittered, and complained about the waiting, how terrible it was that there was only one clerk, what an inconvenience the whole process was; apparently they'd been married before, got divorced, and had decided to remarry, but I was unsure that either of them thought too highly of marriage to begin with. The clerk herself, although certainly pleasant, let us know how frazzled she was. (The line did seem interminable.)

However, we had nothing else planned for; today we set aside for the sole purposes of getting the marriage certificate, which we were duly given:


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Intelligent ≠ Heavy Drinker

See, sometimes even English teachers are good at math.

Today I read an article that opined that smart kids tend to grow up to be heavy drinkers. This is one of the more ridiculous things I've read, since most of my college-educated friends (many of whom hold advanced degrees) are not heavy drinkers; a few have never touched alcohol. Anecdotal evidence, I'm sure; yet article was filled with more presumptions that one could shake a stick at.

There were a few reasons given for why smart folks might drink more; the "early adopter" argument might hold some weight, although it strikes me as weak. (I know of less stereotypically "book smart" intelligent people who routinely get drunk more often, with more regularity; such behavior strikes me as immature, especially now that my friends are in their late 20s, 30s, and older.)

Drinking because you are trying to make up for the fun you didn't have when you were younger? I can think of a few other ways of having fun that don't make you feel ill the next morning. I guess alcohol is comparatively cheap, but I'd personally rather travel or eat something I'd not had before.

The argument that was most irritating stated that drinking was the only way to "deal with morons." Apparently, smart people drink so they can tolerate everyone else; that when sober, smart people take people's responses at literal face value. This, of course, implies that all intelligent people have the exact same type of intelligence, and fall into the stereotype of the geek who does not have social skills or the ability to differentiate the subtleties of tone, who can't read people (the classic "smart person" being portrayed as a Bill Gates-type whose own facial expression rarely changes, and who lacks social intelligence). 

I don't consider myself any more intelligent than my friends, but I do recognize that I am intelligent in some ways that my friends are not, just like they have intelligences that I lack. Some friends may have stronger intelligences than I, but I still posses skills that are they don't have. Yet I have never felt the urge to get drunk; it does not appeal to me in the slightest.