Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Crazy Dog Lady

So, I have been living in my little motel room for the past four months, not really getting out except to go to work and walk the dog and maybe go grocery shopping. I hadn't realized just how crazy I had become in that short amount of time. I have prematurely turned into the crazy cat lady. Except that I am the crazy dog lady. It took me a few days of spending time with people who really aren't dog people for me to see myself in their eyes. I hold conversations with my dog, and not just, "You wanna go for a walk?" But more like, "I know you're tired, but we have a few things to do before we can go home." I'm the lady who talks to her dog in a baby voice and feeds her dog the last bit of food off her plate. I think I haven't traveled totally to the dark side though.

I need to be brutaly honest, and I am sane enough to only do some of these things when there are no other people around, but I still do them.

Things I Do

-Let my dog sleep on my bed
-Lose sleep if my dog is sick or uncomfortable
-Feed her from the table on a regular basis
-Talk to her in baby talk
-Talk to her like she is a real human being
-Apologize out loud for stepping on her
-Plan my day around her walk
-Plan my travels around taking care of her
-Brag about my dog and share cute anectdotes as though she is my child
-Take her with me whenever I go out
-Feed her expensive canned dog food

Things I don't do yet, and when I do do them, I am officially the crazy dog lady.

-Have more pictures of dogs in the the house than people
-Think my dog can understand English
-Buy her gifts on her birthday
-Take her to the groomers
-Let her eat from plates
-Let her lick me on the mouth
-Have more than one dog
-Heat her food in the microwave

Monday, December 17, 2007


I love making schedules for my life, planning ahead what I'm going to be doing. They almost never work out the way I plan them, which is even more fun, because as soon as I change the first thing on my schedule, the rest of my docket has to change to reflect the new plan. This upcoming plan is not as exciting as plans I've made in years past, but here it is.

-Jan. 2008 through Dec. 2010 Go to River Falls University and get my teaching certificate and Masters degree, taking off summers to work as needed.

-Summer 2009 Live in either Ireland and work at a camp for sick kids or live in Jackson WY and take people on horseback rides.

-Jan. 2010 Go live on a Native American reservation and teach ESL. Buy a few horses to work with during the summer.

-Spend the next few summers either working with my horses, and by now, my kids, or spend them in South America with my new philanthropic husband working in rural schools and practicing my spanish...or maybe China, who knows.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Random Thoughts

Well, I was laughing with a few friends the other day and was telling some story about my work and it made me think of all the times I haven't added anything to my blog because I don't have anything interesting to say. So what follows will just be a collection of memories of my travels and friends that make me giggle. Mind you, they make me giggle, they might not make you even crack a smile. Expect more to follow, but not soon.....

Jackson, WY Summer of 2007
Ok, so I had worked and lived in Jackson Wy for a few months when some co-workers and I went out dancing. Now, Wyoming isn't the most diverse place in the world. There are white people, a few latinos, and everyone else is probably a tourist. So I no longer was suprised to look around at a hopping dance floor and see only pale skin under cowboy hats. Well, one night we are standing around, waiting for the band to return from a break when all of the sudden people either stop talking or lower their voices. I looked up from whatever I was doing to see everyone staring at the door.
Yes a black man had walked in the door. With his white girlfriend.
Everyone stared as the bouncer took the cover charge and the couple walked in. The hushed voices got a little louder, and people even started pointing. The guys seemed the most upset, talking louder and not taking their eyes off of him, while for the most part, the girls had glanced up to see what was going on and gone back to their conversations.
Except me. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Was it 1942? How could people think that is was ok to stare like that? Just because someone of a different race came in? What were they thinking? I was starting to get really furious when I noticed my friend standing up to go talk to him. I didn't know what he thought he was doing.
He came back a few minutes later to tell us that "yes, he was the football player for the cowboys." Just like all the guys staring had been wondering.

Quito, Ecuador Fall of 2006

My friend was trying to pay her rent and use her limited Spanish. She figured out the sentence she wanted to say and said it, "Yo quiero pegarte con platanos." (I want to pay you with cash) The guy who was to take her rent just stared at her, so she repeated it. "Yo quero pegarte con platanos." He started laughing and got someone who spoke english to translate. She had meant to say, "Yo quiero pagarte con plata." What she had said instead was "I want to stick you with bannanas."

My friend had been having a lot of problems with her stomach. She tried to eat healthy and not drink water from the tap and wash all her fruits with bottled water, but it hadn't helped much, she just couldn't get over these issues. But it didn't stop her from making the most of her South American experience. We were walking one day, on our way to buy books for the library she was building, after stopping at a quaint little resaurant for breakfast when she stopped and said calmly, "Hey, Sara, wait up a bit." I stopped and looked back, she had a calm expression on her face, like she had just forgotten her leftovers at the table and wanted to go back to get them.
She tilted her head to the side a bit and said, "I think I just shit myself." (apologies to those offended by language, but I have to quote it how I heard it) My eyes went big, "What?"
She said matter-of-factly, "Yeah, yeah, I just shit myself."
After a second I said, "Well, let's go find a bathroom so you can clean yourself up." We started walking back to the restaurant, she walking a little stifly, and then added, "Of all the days to wear a thong."

Rexburg, Idaho Spring of 2002

My friend and I took a horse training class together at BYU-Idaho. It was an awesome class, we trained and had our own horse for two semesters. It was suprisingly dangerous, especially given the state that we live in, where coffee cups have warnings on them, seatbelts are the law, and you need parental permission to hand out aspirin at school. For example, to start the class they had about 18 or 20 horses, who were totally wild, had never been around humans, had been born in the wild and their only experience with humans was to be rounded up and forced in a trailer, then taken on a very long scary ride, and set loose in a big arena. Ok, so instead of giving them some time to calm down, he has his T.A. crack the whip a few time and get them good and terrified. They start galloping frantically in a cirle, their fear feeding off of the other horse's fear until they are out of control. Then the teacher says, "grab your halters and go get your horse."
What?! Walk out in that mix of out-of-control horses? They are easily galloping at close to 30 miles per hour, running on sharp little hooves and nothing is going to stop them except time. But wait! That girl is going out there! And it looks like she wants to catch the pretty little palomino! (A gold horse with a white mane and tail) I want that palomino! And all of the sudden all the students are out in the middle of this rearing kicking mass. There were three or four horses that everyone wanted, and all the students were set on getting the horse they wanted, regardless of the injury they risked to get it. (I got the palomino by the way.)
Anyhow, that wasn't my point. My point was the funny thing that happened. After we had had our horses for about two months, the intermediate riding class came to ride our half-broke horses. One by one, they were paired up with us, and who do I get but the heaviest girl in the class? (Really heavy) Now, there's nothing wrong with being heavy. I mean, these are horses we're talking about, right? They are massive creatures and my horse probably weighed around 900 pounds, she could totally carry any person we put on her, right?
So, with the help of a stepping stool, and two people pushing and Theresa (my horse) being better than she usually is and standing still, this girl got on. I imagine that this is funnier if you have the image in your head, rather than the words I'm about to write, but try and create a picture in your mind. This horse, a petite, delicate little horse, who has only ever carried 160 pounds, tops, now has to carry twice that. And not only carry that, but walk, trot and lope with that weight. So Theresa takes one step, then stops. She spreds her hooves a little farther apart. But after another kick in the ribs, Theresa starts to walk, a little lopsided, and little crooked, her back end going off to the side, leaving strange hoofprints in the dirt, like that horse costume with people where the front half moves independent of the other. Another kick and she is up to a trot, but a bouncier, head-tossier, akwarder trot you never saw. Theresa refused to go any faster, no matter how hard the kicks come.

Sokcho South Korea Summer 2006-Summer 2007

Ok, so this didn't happen to me, it actually happened to Shaun, from Birmingham England, another English teacher where I worked. This might be another story where you had to be there, seeing the facial expressions, and hearing the accent to appreciate how funny it was.

Shaun had to teach this strange little boy. The boys parents, pretty much just wanted a babysitter who spoke english, and told Shaun to just play games with this boy, and have fun, no books or lessons. So Shaun at first was excited, he imagined class periods spent playing soccer, walking to the local park to hit baseballs, playing board games or watching movies. The class didn't turn out that way. This kid turned out to be uncontrolable, he couldn't study, sit still, or learn English. In hopes of helping the student, Shaun started teaching actual English lessons. Well, one day this boy came in to class with a toy light saber. Shaun, after a brief battle, took it away and put it up high on a shelf. He told the student that he could have his light saber back when class was over. Well, midway through the lesson, when Shaun was focused on something else, he looked back at his student to see him covertly pointing his hand at his light saber and focusing his eyes and all his energy on actually using the force to make his toy float off the shelf and come to his hand.

Sokcho, South Korea

My friend, Kelly, was looking up a work in an English to English to Korean Dictionary. (This type of dictionary is for adavanced learners of English, they can look up an English word, and try to read the English definition, but if they are still confused, there is a Korean translation there as well. Well, it has been lost to history what word she was looking up, but she came accross the word, Harlem in the dictionary. She glanced at the definition and saw this phrase, as well as I can remember it. "A large city in the United States of America. Also known as Nigger-Heaven. Other helpful phrases: Work like a nigger. Nigger-hair. Nigger-toes......." Can you imagine a young Korean coming to the states and mentioning to the hotel clerk that he or she wants to visit "nigger heaven?" Or heading into Seoul and walking past the seedy bar for GIs (there is a real bar called Harlem) and saying, "Look! Nigger Heaven!" As the GI's lounging outside hear only, "Blah! Nigger Blah!" Which would be just as bad as them hearing what he was actually saying, considering that 21% of people in the military are black, and there would probably be a few of them hanging out at Harlem bar.


The fun thing about learning Korean is that it is a lot like learning Spanish. In Spanish you add an "o" to the end of everything. In Korean, you just say it in a Korean accent. Not because the languages have anything in common, no latin roots or anything like that. Just that a lot of new technology, created in English Speaking Countries, mostly the US, had english names, and the Koreans used those as their names, like the internet. They also liked taking other words and making them their own, like veranda (berandah), snack (Suneguh), ice cream (ice-uh cureemuh), and lots others. In fact, we made it a game to figure out how many Korean words we could learn, like the Korean word for athelete (Sports-man, Suportzu-manuh). When we would go into stores and wanted to buy something that we didn't know the name for, we would just look around and give it a try, it worked more often than not. "Do you have any posters?" "Posutoruh issoyo?" (Issoyo is "do you have?")

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Midnight Ride (or, why you never ride at night with two stoned/drunk cowboys)

This happened in July

So the other night we were finished with quite a long day of hard work. We, referring to myself and my coworkers up here at the A-OK Corral. Someone then got the idea to go for a "midnight ride" rather than go dancing like we had planned. So we all dispersed to get ready for this ride. I gathered a sweater and warm jacket, granola bars, my cell phone, and bottled water. I began to get nervous when I saw that their preparations included a 24 pack of Bud and mari-j. I should have recognized this as foreshadowing. But, I thought, they're big boys, they can take care of themselves. We start up the mountain, all of us on our favorite horses only to see the boss coming down the road. Now, all the horses have an 8 o'clock curfew, and it's nine right now, so this probably isn't a good thing that there are three of us leaving the barn. The boys, pretty lamely, try and hide their beer cans, behind their legs, or slip them in their saddle bags, only to have the beer drip out and down their horses legs. The boss stands there for an eternity shooting the breeze and relishing that he caught us doing something we shouldn't have done. Finally after the boys promise to have the horses back within the hour and I keep silent, the boss leaves and we continue on.
Now, the wilderness we were going to be exploring was pretty rough. It was not a rolling meadow with flowers and cell phone towers and trails, it was mountainus, with steep drop-offs, there were creeks and ditches and holes, no cell phone coverage, and it wasn't the best place to go for a midnight ride, but we went anyways, and we decided to avoid the one trail there was.
For two months we had been taking people on trail rides and we were sick of the same old trail day after day. We wanted to explore and find new places that we could take dudes on rides. We chose a particularily steep side of the mountain to climb. The horses had a hard time getting to the top, nearly slipping back or falling sideways, but we were finally at the top. Once we got to the top we took in the last few minutes of the sunset and looked around to see where we wanted to go next. I rolled my eyes at the boys while they rolled a joint. Then we continued on.
We had not planned ahead and looked at the calendar to find out if the moon would be out that night, but it turned out not to matter, as the sky was cloudy. So, between clouds and no moon, it was hard to see where we were going. This is about the time when you are glad that you brought a horse you trust. You have to have a horse that is smart enough to ignore you when it knows better, like when you tell it to go straight down a cliff, because you can't see where you're going.
We had a bit of fun, galloping down the road, shouting and hollering. Well, Mike and I had fun, Ryan, not so much. His horse had been a dude horse for so long that it didn't know how to run anymore. No matter how hard Ryan kicked him and shouted and the other horses galloped, his horse (Matt) would not gallop. He would, however, trot. He would trot as fast as a gallop, bouncing Ryan up and down at light speed.
Once we had gone out a few miles, we took a right into wilderness we were unfamiliar with. (I know what you're thinking right now, that that is not the smartest thing to do, to get lost at night, but out horses would have taken us home whever we wanted to go home. Getting lost wasn't a big concern.) So we start climbing this mountain and wondering if the land we are on is part of the land that people are not allowed to be on. A few minutes later we get our answer.
A truck came bouncing towards us with a huge spotlight jumping up an down with every pothole in the dirt road. It is still about two hundred yards away, and there is no way that it can come closer up the mountain. But we still start freaking out, there are no trees or scrub to hide behind on this ountain side! Ryan starts cursing me and my white-ass horse. My horse, Nell, stands out like a beacon on the mountain with her dappled grey hair when they shine the light directly on her. Mike's horse; Jenny and Ryan's horse; Matt are practically invisable, blending in with the mountian behind them. We take off as people start getting out of the truck, visable only by their bouncing flashlight beams. We find a stand of trees and I guide Nell behind them. We wait for a second, hoping that the forrest service guys are out here for some unrelated reason, that it is just a coinsedence. A few minutes go by and we don't think they are.
We take off up the mountain. If we can get over the ridge, then there is no way they will find us. It is again steep going, and the horses are having a rough time of it, but eventually we get to the other side and start back down the mountain. We rest on the other side, giving the horses a breather, and letting our pulses calm down.
We ride on a little ways and decide we want to make a loop to get back to the ranch. So we need to cut through this valley, and then there should be a creek, and we will cross a road, and so forth as we decide where we are going. Ryan decides to take charge. He says we need to go straight between two high hills. I look over at where he has decided we need to turn. See, where I am, all I see is a fence. But he must have found a break in the nence that he is going over. He coaxes his horse and kicks his horse, guides his horse, but Matt refuses to go forward a single step. So I ask Nell to walk over and I ask confused. "Um, are you trying to go through the fence?" It is hard for me to understand that someone can't see that fence, but that turns out to be exactly what happened. He had been getting angry with his horse for refusing to walk through a fence. That's how dark it is, and/or how drunk or stoned they are. He couldn't see a fence no more than 30 inches in front of him.
So, Mike decides to take charge. He decides that his horse, Jenny is going to take the lead. Now, in any normal horse, this would mean that we would go straight home. But Jenny is not any normal horse. She wants to explore as much as Michael does. So she takes us up and down a few mountains, going left or right with no sense of a final destination. A few hours later we look around to find that we are just outside of the game warden's house. We find this out by hearing the pounding of hooves coming straight at us. Our horses spooked and ran through some trees, which isn't too much fun when you can't see where the branches are, or control your frightened horse. During this excapade, Michael realized that his cinch (The strap that holds the saddle on) was loose, so he hopped off to fix it as soon as the horses were under control. When he went to get back on, those horses came galloping up the the fence again and Jenny jumped sideways in fear. Michael had been jumping up to get on her, and as she jumped toward him, he went directly over her back and flopped to the ground on the other side. At first Ryan and I started laughing, but Michael wasn't moving. And he had kind of landed on his head. So I started freaking out. "Michael, you answer me right now, are you ok? Michael? Michael?" A few seconds later we hear giggling coming from the ground. Apparently he's ok.
Over the next hour or so, we try and get over this mountain. But we can't figure it out. It is pitch black, we can't see each other from the backs of our horses, and from time to time out horse will walk too close to a tree and scrape our knees painfully, or under a branch and nearly scrape us off. At this point I can't be sure that it was accidental anymore. We decide to turn around and once we get to the bottom of the mountain again, we decide to try a different route.
Except that Jenny doesn't want to go that way. Jenny wants to explore over there, and Michael sees nothing wrong with going over there. But I am tired and I want to go home, and my horse is tired and I am feeling for her. (I'm no lightweight) But Michael is uncontrolable. We follow him and Jenny around as he waves his hands in the air, letting Jenny walk wherever she wants. He's almost out of beer at this point and has to keep getting off to pee. Eventually we give up and just follow Jenny for a while. Soon enough I decide I am tired of this. I have followed these stupid boys around enough. They galloped at night when we couldn't see the ground and I let them even though I shouted after them how unsafe it was, as their horse could step in a hole and break its leg. I followed them as they tried to find a way over a mountain we were unfamiliar with, even at night, and I had even followed around Michael's horse, but now I was done. My cell phone wasn't getting reception and wouldn't tell me what time it was, but I knew it was late and we had to work at six-thirty the next morning.
I got in front of Michael and told him. "Michael stop. We're going home and I'm taking you." Ryan followed me as I got in front of them both and pointed Nell for home. She could see better than I could and started heading for home, avoiding all the fences and ditches and streams and fallen trees that we had run into on our way out. The way back was just as nighmareish for the boys as the way out had been. Ryan lost his saddle twice. The first time we walked around for 10 minutes looking for his saddle blanket with the light from my cell phone until we found it. In between loosing his saddle blanket for the first and second time he fell off twice. Matt apparently wasn't very excited about the late hour. And Ryan was being pretty stupid, like running his horse up and down extreemly steep trails. The second time he fell off, Michael and I were walking our horses down the trail and we hear a plaintive voice coming from around the bend. "Don't step on me! I'm on the ground. Matt threw me, then stopped on my leg." We rounded the bend to see Matt calmly eating grass a few steps away from Ryan. Matt's saddle was hanging around his belly, and his saddle blanket was nowhere to be seen. We couldn't find it that night at all. Ryan ended up being able to hop back on his horse just in time to finish the night off with another stupid idea, to race Matt home on the road. Matt's shoes sending up sparks, Ryan's hat flying off, all this with no saddle blanket. Matt's back must have been pretty sore. I ended up getting off Nell and walking beside her, and so Michael felt like he had to walk Jenny too, even though he wanted to run home and send up sparks too. He couldn't understand why I wasn't on my horse. When I said she was tired and didn't have to carry me the last .3 mile, he couldn't comprehend it. "But, why are you walking?" He was a true cowboy, only getting off his horse to pee, unsaddle, and walk in the house that night.
We walked in the door and noticed that it was just after two-thirty. We had been riding for five and a half hours, after putting in a 13 hour day working that whole previous day. I personally rode 11 and a half hours that day. It is a testament to how hard we worked every day that none of us were saddle sore the next day.
The next day we instructed the guy who took out the first trail ride to look for the missing saddle blanket somewhere on the trail and so hide it where we could go back and find it later. We also spent the next few rides we went on picking up all the beer cans, empty and full that had fallen out of the saddle bags, or been thrown by drunk boys during the ride. Matt, Nell, and Jenny also got the next two days off work and enough treats to make them sick.

Monday, April 02, 2007


My boyfriend has started writing a short summary and opinion about all the books he has read, and I wish I would have started doing that a long time ago. I have often picked up a book to read because it sounds good, just to get it home and realize I've already read it. With a list like that, I imagine that would happen less often. That said, I think I would run out of steam and get tired of it after a few months. I think I'll give it a try for, say, six months, to end on October 2nd. (Also, I have always wondered just how many books I read in a year. This may be a good way to find out. )

Before I start that though, I want to start this out by listing my favorite books.

The Princess Bride

Their Eyes were watching God

Slaughter House Five

Lonesome Dove

Truth in Comedy

A Brief History of the Universe

Dave Barry Does Japan

The Life of Pi

And a few others I'm sure I've forgotten about.

April 2nd. Right now I'm reading Dracula. I read it before, but really quickly, and I want to read it again. I just finished reading, "The Girl With the Pearl Earing," "A Long Way Down," "Zero, the Birth of an Idea," and "Into Thin Air." (In the past week or two) I'm kind of permanently reading "Man's Search For Meaning." It is a good book, but one that I can't just sit down and breeze through the same way I can a novel. Then when I pick it up again after a two week, or two month hiatus, I start over at the beginning, because I want to fully understand everything he's saying in it. The next books I want to read are "The Kite Runner," and "The Wheel of Time Series, Book two."

Ok, I don't actually want to read the wheel of time series, book two, but there is a story behind it.
My boyfriend has always read this particular series of books, I think there is like 12 of the books or something, and they are very popular. So one year for my birthday he sends me the first one in the series. (He's always trying to get me interested in his hobbies, Wheel of Time, World of Warcraft, Puzzle Pirates, etc.) (That's not true. He's not always trying to get ME interested in his hobbies, he's always trying to get all his friends interested in the things he likes.) Anyhow, it was ok, but nothing amazing, and nothing I'd go out of my way to continue down the series. He was pretty devastated by my indifference towards these books. (I think this was one of the reasons that we have had such an on-again-off-again relationship) Anyhow, my next birthday rolls around and what do I get but the second book? So now it's become this running joke that every birthday I have he is going to get me the next Wheel of Time Book. Since the author is still writing the books like the story will never end, I imagine I'll be retired by the time I stop getting these books.
So the moral of the story here is that I am going to give them another shot.

Further updates as books are finished.

I think instead of making new posts every time I finish a book, I am just going to edit this post each time. I think I'll just list the book, the date, and a plus or minus sign to show if I liked it or not.

A Driftless Area 4/4/07 +

Dracula 4/10/07 +

Band of Brothers 4/12/07 +

Well, I think I'm realizing that this next few months may not be the best time to figure out how many books I read in a year. When I sub, sometimes I am busy all day, but other times I have nothing to do but pass out worksheets and read all day.

The Kite Runner 4/13/07 +

Man's Search For Meaning 4/13/07 +

Deltora Quest 4/16/07 - The problem with this book is a problem I find a lot in the small amount of fantasy I've read. The first book starts out moving really quickly, lots of things happen, years pass, and then near the end the author realizes that they can't clean this up in one book, so they plan to make it a series. And then the series never ends. Also, the first book is exciting because you don't know what's going to happen. But the author sets up what needs to happen in the succeeding books, for example, in this series they need to find seven stones, so there are going to be seven books, each dedicated to finding one stone a piece. (I read the list of other books in the series, but then there are another three books in the series after I assume that all the stones have been found, so I don't know what happens next) Another example would be the final Harry Potter book. We know that it will be dedicated to finding the remaining seven pieces of Voldomort's soul. We don't know how these things will be found, so it's still exciting to read, just not as exciting as it could be because we already know the formula it will follow.

Junie B. Jones and Her Big Fat Mouth. 4/17/07 + The Junie B. Jones books are really masterpieces. I'm not kidding, I'm sure that I got just as much joy out of them as the first and second graders that they are intended for. Junie is a kindergarten student and she is so spot on, exactly how a kindergarden student is. Like Ramona only funnier.

The Life of Pi 4/18/07 +

The Westing Game 4/23/07 - This was one of those books where I was thirty pages into it and it just felt so familiar, and I had the feeling I knew what was going to happen next. Then I realized, I'd read it before, and it wasn't that good. Why I bothered to finish it a second time? I don't know.

Red Midnight 5/2/07 = (= equals, ehhh, it was ok.)

Snow Crash 5/5/07 =

The Midwife's Apprentice 5/11/07 =

Wow, it's now 7/22/07 and I haven't updated any books. It's not that I have stopped reading, just that I don't have access to internet, and I have forgotten all the books I've read in the past few months. I am trying vainly to remember some of th books I've read.

Eldest +

A Summer Without Song +

Bagomboo (spelling?) Snuff Box +

A Collection of Short Stories by Kurt Vonnegut +

Geronimo y Life = It started out really good, but then I stopped liking Geronimo.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Substitute Teaching

Well, I've now been a sub for one full week. It's crazy how they just throw you into it. You just show up and suddenly you are in charge of 32 ten year olds. You never know what the rules are, or where the hall passes are or whether to walk outside and pick them up from recess, and if so, where to pick them up and whether there is a bell or not. That when you start learning the little teacher tricks to use. (At least in elementary grades) Like, "Who can raise their hand and remind the class what we do when we need to go to the bathroom?" Or, "Who can raise their hand and help me pass out the colored paper?" The trick is to ask two questions first that you already know the answer to, so you can correct them or add things they forgot, and they think you magically know everything. When you hit the higher grades you learn to use this one, "If you all work hard and work quietly, when you finish the worksheets the teacher has assigned, I will pretend not to notice if you listen to your mp3 players or use your cell phone after you hand them in." You have never seen such well-behaved students. It's like those 10 minutes listening to music are equivalent to crack.

And you just have to deal with things that, really a sub shouldn't have to, like fights and new students. Especially when the kids see the new student and then raise their hands and ask, "Teacher, why are some people brown?" And when you don't quite understand what they are asking, and say, "Excuse me?" another student helps out with, "because he's brown and we're all white." I guess that's what happens in a second grade classroom from Eagle Mountain Utah when a new student arrives and is the only black child in a sea of white.

Sometimes, you just have to look like a moron. Like when I was subbing for a teacher who taught both Spanish and English as a second language. I wanted to write a note to the teacher saying that if she ever needed another sub, she should call me. (It's all about connections) Well, I decided to write it in Spanish. So, I laboriously write it out the short note and glance through it to try and find any mistakes. Then I walk over to an ESL student and hand it to her. I ask her, "Can you please look at this and tell me if I made any mistakes?" She smiles and says sure, then looks down at the paper. Her smile goes away as she reads the paper and says, "I don't understand." Oh. My spanish must not be as hot as I thought it was. She can't even understand what I'm trying to say in this note. "See, I was going to leave a note for your teacher in Spanish, and was wondering if you could understand what I'm trying to say." She looks down at the paper again and says again, "I don't understand." The boy in front of her turns around and says, "Here, give me that, I'll check it, she's Russian."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I wrote this poem after purposely helping kill an animal for the first time.

I Have a Friend Whose Dad Has Too Many Roosters

Standing outside the coop in Rigby Idaho,
Mr. Gardner tells us how it’s done.
We wait outside stamping our feet
while he sharpens the blade, and I
watch the chickens. There must be over
thirty of them, scratching Mayan-like
calendars in the windswept, sandy earth,
laying Leonardo da Vincis and Dahmers
of their own (except by now they’re over easy),
discussing the ethics of poultry
politics and teaching the Cave of Plato,
while clucking free verse poetry.

We invade the hutch and I grab
one by his silky foot-long tail feathers.
The plumes are black, but glint
red and green in the squinting sunlight.
My hands keep trembling wings
against composed warm sides as
I stretch his neck over a dirty log.
he clucks a few questions trying to look up from the dirt,
but I don’t speak chicken and so don’t answer him.

With the falling blade
the philosophy stops. I wonder
if, the explanation that, “adjective clauses
always follow the nouns they modify,”
has been interrupted and postponed: indefinitely?
Chicken algebra and geography neurons
fire for the last time, wastefully,
to jerk this leg while flapping that wing frantically.
After leaping in the air the body falls,
stiffens and seizes as blood sprays
his last artwork in the sand.

The fried chicken that night is tough and dry.
My friend’s dad says it’s because they’re free-range.

Alien Attempt

I wrote this a while ago, and it still makes me giggle. I think it would be a good little one-act play for high school students to put on.

Alien Attempt
There are tables with refreshments and decorations set up on the stage, a conservative orange and black. They are the only sign that this is very simple and classy Halloween party.

Alien 1 and Alien 2 have worked together for years and are comfortable with each other. They walk awkwardly, but try to appear confident. They can be either boy or girl.

Scene opens with a group of high-handed yuppies chatting with each other.

Yuppie 1
Hibernation? I thought you said habituation!
Everyone laughs and there is a bit more small talk and jokes. The group breaks off into two or three smaller groups. Off to the side, out of view of party, are two aliens. When they start talking to each other the party still goes on, but very quietly.

Alien 2
I don’t know if we can achieve our mission goal!

Alien 1
Shape up! We have to infiltrate the human culture and find out more about their habits and limitations. It’s the only way we will be able to effectively enslave them!

Alien 2
I know the mission. Here’s your human suit.

Alien 1
Inspecting it as he puts it on.
This suit isn’t the style we decided on.

Alien 2
These are just as good; we didn’t have enough money in the budget for the name-brand ones you chose last week. You should have run it past the treasurer first.
Alien 1
Well I didn’t expect to spend so much on luxury meals on the way here.

Alien 2
I have a delicate homeostasis! I can’t upset it, especially on a stressful mission like…

He trails off as Alien 1 steps confidently out of their hiding place and towards the group. Alien 1 walks towards two yuppies drinking punch.

Alien 1
Well, how about those Yankees? Am I right?

Yuppie 2
The Yankees? Who cares about baseball anymore? How about our Kentucky Derby winner? You’re probably new, aren’t you? Did you know that Paul over there owns “Unofficial Winner?” He won by seven lengths, and they’re expecting him to take the Preakness and the Belmont, which would be a feat as you know. There haven’t been many triple crown winners, have there? Around three?

Yuppie 3
I think there have been closer to ten; I was thinking there were around seven or so.

Alien walks backward nodding, horribly confused and slightly frightened. He huddles once more with Alien 2

Alien 1
Perhaps our investigation of their culture should have been more in-depth, He started talking about some sort of contest, and owning a winner…

Alien 2
Ridiculous, you just have to act confident, that’s the key.

He walks up to a group of yuppies standing by the punch bowl; they all have cups in their hands.

So, I understand you have a slave that runs in races for you? “Unofficial winner?”

Yuppie 4
Oh great, we’ve got another animal rights activist here, listen, my horse gets the best care around, and

Alien 2
Oh no, I didn’t mean to-

He stops short as his arm starts acting strangely, he attempts to continue talking while holding his arm down. He talks louder to cover it up.

I simply meant to congratulate you on your-

He can’t control his arm anymore and it flips up, knocking Yuppie 7’s glass into his face. He backs up hurriedly into another yuppie, spilling her drink as well.

I apologize…profusely. I was so excited at the prospect of getting liquid refreshment that I-

He steps to the table to fill a glass with punch and realizes that he cannot with his arm still acting strangely. He looks around, cornered, and takes a sip straight from the bowl. Straightening up he smiles brightly to the yuppies, bowing and nodding as he backs away.

Alien 1
Did it go well? You looked great.

Alien 2
I don’t know, my suit began malfunctioning.

He begins to hum loudly, causing several yuppies to glance his way. He first tries to silence the humming, but when that doesn’t work he pretends he is doing it on purpose. He starts dancing to the humming, an awkward, strange dance that is punctuated by his arm spasms. The yuppies look away and Alien 2 relaxes although he still hums and has an arm that flies about occasionally.

That was it again, my appendages don’t function correctly and I can’t stop making this odd noise.

Alien 1
You weren’t doing that on purpose? It looked terrific. I think the humans really enjoyed it.

Alien 2
You think so? I do have a knack for it. Why don’t you make one more attempt?

Alien 1
That female over there looks promising.

Alien 2
Go see what you can find out. I’ll watch from here.

Alien 1
I’ll try something I saw a young man say to a human female once to gain her trust.

Alien 2
Good, use it.

Alien 2 has forgotten to hold down his hand and it springs up hitting him in the face. He still feels supremely confident in his dancing and hums while he boogies a bit longer. Alien 1 saunters over towards the woman, he is very stiff and formal in everything he does. Halfway there his leg stops working. He almost falls, but catches himself and tries to inconspicuously drag his leg behind him.

Alien 1
Pardon me, but you enjoy water?

Yuppie 5
Excuse me?

Alien 1
Are you fond of water?

Yuppie 5
Well, yes, I guess so.

Alien 1
Then you are fond of 87% of me.
He laughs stiffly and awkwardly tries to put his arm around her. She is disgusted, and stomps off to join the group of yuppies that had the punch spilled on them. She begins whispering and pointing towards Alien 1, they follow by whispering back and pointing towards Alien 2. The aliens are terribly worried, and they huddle to reevaluate their situation.

Alien 1
This isn’t how I pictured humans acting at all. They don’t fit with our label of human behavior at all.

Alien 2
Me either. I think we must have hit upon some sort of mentally unbalanced fringe group.

Alien 1
How are we supposed to explain this to the committee? They are set for take-over in mere days! And we still have no idea as to human weaknesses.

The Aliens glance up at the yuppies worriedly and begin talking quietly so that we can hear the yuppies conversation.

Yuppie 1
Mr. Pyre must have invited those ridiculous people. I don’t know why he even comes to these functions. Does he think that he actually plays a role in the functioning of this company? I can’t wait until he retires and ownership of the company is passed onto his son.

Yuppie 5
I’m sure we all feel that way. At least he hasn’t arrived as of yet.

Yuppie 3
Thank goodness for small favors. I can’t stand that man; his atrocious accent grates on my nerves.

Yuppie 2
He doesn’t seem to realize that he is a grown man and can’t go about playing at ridiculous games anymore.

Yuppie 3
Perhaps we will have gotten a spot of luck and he has forgotten about our end of October social.

Mr. Pyre
Enters dressed, acting, and speaking like a vampire.
Count Dracula has arrived! How is the punch tonight ladies? To die for?

The crowd groans in response to his entry and no one wants to speak with him or acknowledge his arrival. The Aliens have begun to leave, but at Mr. Pyre’s arrival they turn back in surprise. They are thrilled at this turn of events.

Alien 1
Count! That is a term of leadership, is it not?

Alien 2
I believe it is, and did you hear the respectful buzz of admiration as he entered the room?

Alien 1
Look how they all worshipfully avert their eyes!

Alien 2
What luck! Let’s see if we can connect somehow with this leader!

The Aliens walk up to Mr. Pyre as he drinks his punch alone.

Alien 1
Pardon me, good sir.

Mr. Pyre
Yes? How may I help you fine young men?

Alien 2
We, ummm, very highly admire you and were curious if we could have a few moments of your time to, ahhh, learn some of your…. secrets to success.

Mr. Pyre
Of course! Why don’t we exit the room for a moment to have a bit of privacy?

Alien 1

Aliens are deliriously happy about this turn in events. They make small talk as they leave; Alien 1 furiously jotting notes on a notepad.

Alien 2
So the only thing that can hurt you is a silver spike through the heart? And you can’t stand garlic?
Aside to other alien.
Are you getting all of this?
Back to Mr. Pyre.
And you can’t go out in daylight? Fascinating… Now, what role does a coffin play, did you say?


Tatonka and the Shooting Gallery

I wrote this short story after Jeff Blake, Brett Merritt, Matt Mattson, and I made it up before a Thursday Night Long Form show. So most of the credit doesn't go to me, but to them...I just remembered it.

Tatonka kneeled on the ground, his hand against his lower chest. His fingers circled the arrow, a moderately small success at damming his seeping blood. It didn’t hurt, but there was a strange tightness that made breathing difficult, that made him want to remain still even as his legs grew weak and the warm, soft, ground looked more and more inviting, wobbly though it was.
Tatonka looked up from the ground to see a hazy image in front of him grow more distinct. He squinted his eyes, trying to make out the shape, it looked like a person. A person from his tribe, based on his clothing. Tatonka smiled, it must be his guide into the afterworld. The haze shimmered and solidified and placed his hand lightly on Tatonka’s shoulder. Tatonka smiled as his breathing grew steady and the ground firm. He looked up into the man’s eyes.
“Tatonka. I am your spirit guardian. My name is Runs with No Legs”
Tatonka was slightly confused. He had thought that the rattlesnake was his spirit guardian. As he suspected that one question was all he had time for he asked the most important one, “Sprit leader, please, what are we to do with the white man?”
Runs with no Legs’ eyes softened and saddened. He looked over at the white man standing ten feet away breathing hard, gripping a rifle. His eyes were wild and his legs were braced widely, ready for more carnage. He whipped from side to side jerking at every sound he made himself as he stepped on twigs and branches and the crunch of trampling a dead man’s clenched fist. Tatonka settled to his knees and remembered how they had met.

A lone coach trotting across the pains. Bouncing the fat driver up and down against the solid seat. A group of four Cherokee trailing it for lack of anything better to do for almost a full day, remaining out of sight. Just before night an attack. The coach driver easily removed, toppling comically off the seat. The husband coming out to whip the horses faster. As if two exhausted horses pulling a coach could outrun their sturdy little ponies. The third person in the coach had come as something of a surprise. She came out a whirl of silk and ruffles and flowers and fire. Holding a gun she first shot the man who was inches from scalping the husband. Reloading quickly she shot Tatonka’s horse in the leg or neck or chest, or somewhere; there was no time to analyze. His horse collapsed and he fell to the ground before being trampled by his friend’s horse behind him. The forth horse panicked, bucking off his rider and spinning to gallop away from the noise and smell of fellow animals in pain.
Tatonka laid on the ground, twisted awkwardly. He slowly rolled on his side and straightened his legs. He was able to take one deep breath of air before passing out. After a short time he woke up and was able to walk, but his head refused to work correctly. He wandered into the white couple’s camp, thinking it was his own tepee, and collapsed nearly on top of their cooking fire.
Two weeks later he had almost completely healed. Two months later he had started to pick up the rudiments of their language, as well as their customs and religion. They worked every day building a permanent house, clearing trees, planting vegetables, and other tasks that Tatonka did not fully understand. They made a strange threesome, but for some reason Tatonka felt no desire to leave them yet. If he could understand them and why they acted the way they did, he could share their reasons with his tribe. If peace could not be settled, then at least they would have a better understanding of their enemy. And so he waited and helped them to build and clear the land.
“Tatonka. Water!” Herman shouted from the field. Tatonka looked up from shoving a mixture of dirt and weeds in between the logs of the cabin to keep out the wind. He stood and as soon as he had left the shade of the cabin something made him spin around and reach instinctively for a weapon he wasn’t carrying. Too late, an arrow buried itself surprisingly deep between his bottom rib and the rib above it. Tatonka recognized the black and red feathers notching the arrow. He looked up and saw on top of the cabin his friend. He smiled, raising his hand in greeting. His friend stared at him with wide eyes.
Herman ran towards the cabin yelling. “Rachel! Get the gun! Hide Rachel! Attack!” Tatonka spread his knees wide apart for stability still locked in gaze with his friend who had shot him. Now was not a time for weakness. Herman ran outside with his rifle while Rachel pulled at his sleeves.
“Please, Herman! Stop, these are his friends, they didn’t recognize him, don’t!”
Herman pulled up his gun and shot the friend, who only had eyes for the visible half of his arrow. Tatonka turned to Herman and put up his hand, “No. Don’t shoot anymore, this will only end in disaster. Put the gun down!” His mouth moved. No sound broke the air. He couldn’t get enough air in his lungs to speak.
Two more men broke the air with their shouts. Herman had reloaded and shot them both in mid cry. The stage coach driver came running from the creek. After being left for dead, he had spent two months eating grubs and healing.
“Stop! I’ll go for help!” Herman shot him.
Rachel stood in front of him, “That was the stage coach driver! You can’t just shoot everyone!” Herman shot her.
The driver stood up, dusting off his knees, “No! It’s ok, I think I can still go for help, I’m all right!” Herman shot him.
Runs With No Legs looked at Herman, surrounded by bodies. He pulled from his ceremonial robe a bulky revolver and shot the white man. Herman looked around, all his spinning and gasping and pointing hadn’t saved him from getting shot by an invisible ghost.
“What the?” As he fell backwards he shot off his last bullet in the general direction that he felt the shot had come from.
“Oh,” Runs with no legs said. He was short of breath and spoke in a scratchy voice. “Darn it.” He gripped his stomach and tipped forward, leaning on Tatonka for support before he hazed away.
Tatonka looked around, there were five bodies on the ground surrounding him. The stage coach driver leaned up.
“I think I’m ok.” He looked around at Tatonka and stood up gingerly.
“I’ll go for help.” He limped away. Tatonka very gently laid himself down on the ground and thought about brown skin and dark eyes. He thought about coarse black hair and obsidian hooves and a tail for switching flies that would snap you in the eyes if you weren’t paying attention. She had been a pretty little thing. Very smart. Always gotten along well with all the other ponies. She really had been a pretty little delicate thing.

A poem I wrote a while ago...

Cigarette Community

A quarter hour break from Hello Dolly practice leads
to the tunnel under the highway.
A dingy, dark and secluded garrison.
It’s almost dress rehearsal and costumes adorn the leads.

The sight of Dolly flirting with Cornelius
while Horace lights Minnie Fay’s cigarette might
be too much for the blue-haired women who live
across the street. The sanctuary for uncool high
schoolers, made slightly more popular due
to leading roles. Horace’s dreadlocks don’t look quite
as cool as he wants them to and Dolly knows
she looks awkward smoking, but
they do it anyways.

James Dean would feel at home.
Irene would light his cigarette.
If James didn’t have one, hands would come out offering
Marlboro 100’s, Camel Turkish Gold, Luckies.
Irene has stopped bothering to offer her Menthols.
Our Rebel Without a Cause star is the only one
who really looks the part. Funny;
the angst ridden high school kids look unrelated, fake and strange
beside the black and white image of a martyred movie star.
A cigarette dangling from his lip,
a drop of spit is the only thing holding the dry
rod from gravity’s tender pull.

Dolly stubs out her cigarette on the wall.
She writes a short word with the ash.
Why she wrote ‘we’ she doesn’t know.
Horace, Irene, Minnie Fay and Cornelius add
more letters with their finishes cigarettes.
“We’re Real.”

Dolly pushes up her ruffled sleeves,
looks at her Timex watch,
“It’s time to head back in.”
They follow and Dean stays behind.
He reads the note with petulance.
He gets in his fast car and drives away.