1. Earlier this week I noticed a slightly higher than average number of hits from cities in Germany. The only German-language content I have on this site is a translation of my former LDS testimony, so I assumed it had to do with that somehow, but actually what happened was that someone shared my fan fiction based on the rejected screenplay "Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars" on a German Indiana Jones forum.
It says "Interesting novel variant that also functions as a prequel for [Kingdom of the Crystal Skull]. Monkey King has also been rewritten, but is incomplete." I feel flattered and attacked. I never finished Monkey King because, while I love writing out the funny dialogue and the worldbuilding, writing out action scenes that were intended for a movie is difficult and tedious for me. I suppose I ought to get back to it and just push through.
Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars
Indiana Jones and the Monkey King (unvollständig)
2. I made a joke in a GroupMe chat and nine people thought it was funny.
3. It was already a given that under no circumstances will I substitute teach children for another year, but another disaster happened this week that sent me looking for other jobs immediately. I found the exact perfect one that I wanted a day before the application deadline. If I get the job, I won't be able to prove that this turn of events wasn't a lucky coincidence, nor will I understand why God should do me such a favor while allowing millions of his other children to starve, but I will, nonetheless, freely acknowledge it as a miracle. If I don't get the job, then I'll just acknowledge it as an unnecessary kick in the crotch from a capricious deity or an indifferent universe. But anyway, in the application I had to provide student feedback from one semester of my last (and only) two years of teaching. So I picked my feedback from spring 2022 and I actually looked at it for the first time. Yeah, I was graduating and I just wanted to relax all summer and I was scared to read what students had said about me so I didn't. This week I did. The numbers from the quantitative portion were good enough, but the qualitative comments made me cry a little.
English 2010 (067)
English 2010 (074)
So maybe I have a chance?
4. I was going to watch Darby O'Gill and the Little People with a couple of my neighbors on St. Patrick's Day, but for some reason we watched the first episode of DragonTales instead. Nostalgia overload. We discussed the possibility of an edit/dub to make it a horror series, and/or a companion series to follow the adults as their children keep disappearing.
Back to School Probably
Green Canyon High School is my favorite place to substitute teach. It's a convenient distance and a convenient age group. The last time I was there I saw a poster for an upcoming production of War of the Worlds, so being a lover of sci-fi as well as wanting to support the students, I went to it this weekend. It wasn't based on the book, it was based on the radio broadcast based on the book. The play depicted the radio employees broadcasting the broadcast. Very meta, and not a lot of actual action going on, but it held my interest just fine. The partially tongue-in-cheek thirties nostalgia set a nice tone and the dialogue reminded me that the original book is a freaking masterpiece and I should read it again. I felt bad that this performance didn't have nearly the audience size it deserved.
Speaking of school, I'm planning to go back next year because my mentor convinced me that I haven't spent enough of the prime of my life in school. I'm leaning toward an MFA. I still don't know what differentiates an MFA from an MA and at this point I'm afraid to ask, but I know it's less of a time and money commitment than a PhD that will still advance my career farther than the Bachelor's and the MA that have failed to advance it any farther than substitute teaching K-12. It goes without saying that sixty years ago the Bachelor's alone would have set me up for life, and the bar has somehow been raised to this point where I need at least three degrees to be noticed, but the world was worse sixty years ago than it is today in many ways so I just have to take the bad with the good. Granted, I did choose a "useless" degree according to the people who, if there were any justice in the world, would be denied access to the fruits of the writers, artists, and musicians they hold in such contempt for getting useless degrees.
With a basic college degree portrayed from early childhood on up as the bare minimum to which everyone must aspire in order to have any chance at any success in life whatsoever, it becomes all the more unreasonable that eighteen-year-olds whose brains won't be fully developed for another seven years are held fully accountable for the long-term consequences of the student loans they're pressured into taking out. The issue, of course, is not so much the amount of the loans themselves as the interest that continues to accumulate so they pay several times over what they borrowed and somehow still owe more. I don't see how any person with a basic grasp of ethics can believe this system is fair or justified. So while BIden's forgiveness program may or may not be the most ideal approach, I have not one shred of sympathy for the predators who won't be able to extort as much money as they wish.
I'm far from an expert on the legal or economic nuances of the situation, but at least in theory I see no reason why taxpayers should have to pay the forgiven debts either. If the government holds the debts - and my understanding is that this forgiveness specifically doesn't apply to debts held by private companies - then I don't see why it can't decide that they simply no longer exist, just like it decided that this time today is magically an hour earlier than it was yesterday. Money is not real. Pieces of paper or numbers on a screen have no intrinsic value whatsoever. We decide as a society to pretend that they do because it's easier than having everyone try to work out the exchange rates of a thousand different goods and services and successfully barter with people who may not have the slightest interest in what they have to offer. When conservative Christians read Jesus' parable about a king who decides that a debt of ten thousand bags of gold simply no longer exists, do they complain about how that's going to burden the taxpayers or wreck the kingdom's economy? Is there supposed to be something fundamentally different about money in the modern world? (Also, the guy who has that debt canceled and then goes and harasses someone who owes him a hundred silver coins totally reminds me of Derek Chauvin.)
Many have correctly pointed out that this forgiveness is only a short-term band-aid solution, without seeming to notice that Biden has also announced multiple no-brainer reforms to the loan system itself that will make it screw borrowers over and ruin their lives substantially less in the future - like, for example, by not constantly adding interest to the principal and charging interest on that so the debt grows faster than it can be paid. It's a start. I mean, in some developed countries college education is free (yes, I know that means it's funded by taxes) because governments recognize that having educated citizens is in their own best interest. Educated citizens are far less likely to actively oppose common-sense public health guidelines during a global pandemic or try to overturn election results to keep the racist troglodyte they worship in power, to name just a couple of hypothetical examples.
Anyway, I'm considering a few school options and hoping to pay for the MFA the same way I paid for my MA, by teaching, but I won't say yet what those options are because I probably wrote something very offensive once and I don't need someone sharing it with them and telling them not to admit me.
Iran + Preschool + Red Grammer
Following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody for allegedly violating the dress code, protesters all over Iran have risen up against their horrible theocratic government. I wish them the best. I took two graduate courses from a delightful Iranian woman. I never inquired about her religious or political beliefs, but based on her rainbow stickers, androgynous suit coats, and faculty position in a university English department, I guessed that she wouldn't get along very well with the regime back home. On one occasion we watched a documentary she'd worked on about how Iranian women have had to leave their traditional domestic spheres to work in textile factories because their husbands are lazy, and then we met the director over Zoom and I asked him if this had led to any broader changes around gender roles in Iranian society, being very careful not to so much as imply the obvious fact that gender roles in Iranian society are irredeemably sexist because good folklorists aren't supposed to judge other cultures like that. So anyway, I hope current events lead sooner than later to the deaths or exiles of the religious fundamentalists in charge of the country. Maybe Ukraine's army can help out after they finish driving Putin to suicide.
I substituted at a preschool on Monday, and I wish I could just do that for every assignment because it was a blast. (Of course I checked beforehand to verify that I was only filling in for an aide and wouldn't be responsible for everything.) On the whole, the kids were much better behaved than some second grade classes I could mention. One kid in the second class screamed bloody murder for the two-thirds of the time that he wasn't sleeping, but I think that was a reasonable reaction to being abandoned by his parents in a strange place full of strange people for the first time in his life. When I arrived, the first teacher was like "A dude! We never have dudes!" Then she asked about my teaching experience, and I may or may not have imagined the look of horror on her face when I said two years at the college level and three weeks substituting, but I did fine because kids love me. They enjoyed scaring me with rubber ants and spiders, and then while I cowered on the floor this little girl that I hadn't yet interacted with at all walked over and sat on my lap, and I was just blown away by the innocence and trust behind that gesture, innocence and trust that unfortunately have no place in the real world.
Wednesday was the twentieth anniversary of my participation in a Red Grammer concert with my fourth grade music class. We practiced one of his songs for a few weeks and then performed it with him. My parents bought one of his CDs, Hello World, and it was in frequent rotation on long car trips. When I found this autographed concert flyer at my parents' house last year, I had no memory of the particular song I had practiced and sung. Because I'm neurotically obsessed with dates and I missed the nineteenth anniversary, I waited until the twentieth anniversary to look it up and be nostalgic. I still don't remember practicing or singing it.
The song in question:
Well, I unexpectedly got an interview request for a job that I must have applied to over a month ago before I gave up on getting something remotely commensurate with my education and experience, so while I can't get excited yet, I hope to move on from substitute teaching as soon as possible. The request came on the same day that I kind of got in trouble for failing to adequately control a class of second graders. Their teacher had left like half an hour's worth of work for them to do, so then they just got crafts and were kind of rowdy despite me asking them several times to keep it down. At lunch I apologized to the teacher next door for the noise level, and she straight-up told me that it was fine as long as they got done what they needed to get done. She said they were probably just excited at being able to speak English in what was normally a Chinese immersion class, but it was fine and we'd get through the day. Thereafter I stopped worrying about it. At the end of the day the lady in the office asked "How was it?" and I said "They were loud" and she smiled and said "But you survived." So I'm just a teensy little bit resentful that she or someone else complained behind my back about the noise level. If it bothered someone then they should have said something about it to me. But that's not how people do things, is it? I'm not very impressed with what passes for adult behavior in this society.
The other issue was that a couple of kids in the second class (after I switched with the teacher next door) offered to help pass out the fake money they used as a reward system for completing their assignments, and I appreciated the help because I felt overwhelmed and I trusted them because kids have often been genuinely helpful thus far. But then they or someone else passed out way more money than they were supposed to, and then a bunch of kids bought things from the little store because they misinformed me about the fact that they were only supposed to do so on Fridays. I told them we needed to stop all this and I warned them that their teacher would be pissed. Since I didn't know how much money each student was supposed to have before the incident, though, I figured she would have to be the one to resolve it and decide on the consequences. In my notes at the end of the day I explained to her what had happened and apologized. So I'm just a teensy little bit resentful that someone falsely reported that I handed out way more fake money than I was supposed to. And while I recognize that I messed up, I hardly see how it's my fault that students chose to be dishonest and take advantage of me. Anyway, this school told my employer not to send me there anymore, and I was removed from the entire district while they investigated. They reinstated me pretty fast but my assignments on Friday and Monday were canceled, and as much as I prefer staying home anyway, I am just a teensy little bit resentful about the loss of income. But whatever.
Before that little kick in the crotch, I was poised to write a happy uplifting post about how the exhausting and overwhelming experience with these second graders was worth it because some of the kids were so dang cute. Several of them told me I was a great teacher and/or the best substitute ever. Probably just because I didn't yell at them for being loud, but it was still nice. In addition to two cootie catchers, students in the first class left me a few notes that I will cherish forever even though my memories of that day are now considerably tainted.
This one was my favorite because the student who gave it to me was my favorite. She was so helpful with so many things that I feel like I should split my paycheck with her. She was like an adorable little TA. So I'm just a teensy little bit sad that I'll never see her again because her school blacklisted me.
Post for 9-11-22
Although I have a strong preference for high school, I have to take what I can get, so I taught elementary school kids again thrice this week. They're very cute when they aren't hellspawn. On Tuesday I had a class of second graders for half a day. These second graders were much better behaved than the third graders from the week before, but oh my goodness they were a handful. They had so much energy and so many questions. I felt overwhelmed by the end and don't think I could have lasted a whole day, but I didn't feel frustrated with them or take the Lord's name in vain under my breath even once, so that was a win. The kids were also quick to tell me what I was supposed to be doing if I ever got confused. The wildest kid, whom the teacher warned me about, was also one of the most helpful. I think he just needs constructive outlets for his energy. Also when the kids were writing stuff about themselves, he made me happy and sad at the same time.
Him: How do you spell lore?
Him: Yeah, lore, like the kind of person my mom has to give a lot of money to because she's in a divorce.
Him: How do you spell anxiety?
Me: *tells him*
Him: *writes "Anxiety" on his paper under "I am special because"*
On Wedneday I didn't know what I was doing because the listing just said "Resource." I'd had two assignments with the word "Resource" in them - Resource Center where I ran the library, and Resource Intervention Specialist where I sat in the classroom and did literally nothing. I assumed this would be one of those two things but then I showed up and they told me I was teaching Special Ed. Crap, I thought, I'm not even remotely qualified for this. But it was super easy. First I tutored an adorable second grader in reading and writing. I couldn't tell why she was in Special Ed because she blazed through the lessons with few errors. Her only consistent issue was using e's instead of i's when she wrote down the words that I spoke, but since literally every vowel in English makes the same sound at some point, that seemed perfectly understandable. Then I went and sat next to another adorable second grader who needed occasional nudges to stay focused in class and assistance if she had a seizure. She didn't have a seizure so it was an uneventful hour and a half. At least as far as this age group goes, I much prefer the one-on-one stuff to managing entire classes and wouldn't mind doing it full-time.
On Thursday I had high school students and all I had to do was administer a test and show a couple of videos. After some difficulty with the teacher's weird computer layout, it was a snap. Here are the videos in case anyone else wants to become educated.
On Friday I had two fifth grade classes, one for each half of the day. It was a Portuguese immersion classroom but I didn't have to worry about that. During recess and lunch I read Dav Pilkey's Dog-Man in Portuguese, or rather skimmed over the words without really pronouncing them in my mind and got the basic idea because of their similarities to Spanish words. Partway through the day, all the fifth grade classes met in the common area for an assembly where several kids gave their campaign speeches for student council. The first kid had it in the bag. He looked like a future movie star, and he tossed away his notes and just spoke with such confidence and conviction that I'd pick him for US president in a heartbeat. Actually, I would have picked any of the kids for US president in a heartbeat. He'll win and a few others will win and the rest will learn an important lesson about life's many disappointments.
The kids behaved very well. The second class was a little rowdier, but nobody disrespected me, and I wasn't going to report anyone to their teacher to have points taken away, but one kid helpfully gave me a post-it note with the names of the bad kids in descending order of badness. The one at the top of the list was... interesting. She came in during recess - they all had to stay inside during recess because the air quality was so bad, probably as a side effect of the temperature dropping twenty degrees in two days - and wrote on the board, "Cats are the best. I don't care what you think. That is all." And when I actually had her class, she wrote it again, and then she wrote "Cats = awesome" and then she just wrote "Cat" a dozen times. And she asked me probing questions about my personal life. And she asked me like five times, "Am I being bad?" And she asked, "Am I being bad, or just obnoxious?" And she asked, "On a scale of one to ten, how bad am I?" I found her very amusing and I hope some stupid adult never crushes her spirit. Also, in the morning class a student was kind of rude to me but I let it go and then later she apologized on her own initiative and it was adorable. I want to teach these classes again, but I suppose I'd have to learn Portuguese.
Contextual world news for future readers: Today is the anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, Queen Elizabeth recently died, and Ukraine is kicking Putin's жопа even harder than usual as it takes back its territory in an incredible counteroffensive. Also, monkeypox is probably still a thing that I should be more worried about than I am.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.