Teenagers Say The Darndest Things

I haven’t written here in a while.  A few months ago, I wrote and posted a blog about my disdain for broccoli and included what I thought were cute pictures of broccoli being a dick.  Next thing I know, people are viewing my blog in obscene numbers (note – not that many, but more than usual).  I’ve really let that get to my head though, thus the reason for not writing.  I DON’T NEED TO POST.  I HAVE PEOPLE SEARCHING FOR BROCCOLI PICTURES ON GOOGLE.

(Seriously, google image “broccoli” and you’ll see the cartoon picture I used that links to my blog.  Hellllooo copyright infringement!)

I haven’t written about work in an even longer time. I realize that this was stupid, because work is a gold mine for writing.

The second year is very different from the first year.  That much I can tell you.  Students listen more and generally do what they’re asked.  The fact that there are several other first year teachers in the building also helps.  Suddenly I’m one of the more senior teachers on staff.  In my second year of teaching.  Ever.

With the second year comes more willingness from me to answer questions from students about life in general.  Though they might have an average grade reading level of around 6th grade, they are pretty damn curious about life.  And some of them ask pretty profound questions that give me pause.

On election day a few weeks ago, Mississippi had on the ballot Prop 26 that, if it would have passed, would have created a state law that said every fetus/embryo is life and therefore can’t be terminated.  “What Roe v. Wade?  What women’s rights?  HA! I’m a man and all that matters is what I say is best for you.  HA!” – The State of Mississippi.

Anyway, a student who generally asks thought provoking questions (typical for this student.  Very bright and inquisitive, just not at the right time. For example, while teaching modifiers, he asks out of the blue: “What if there was just not money anymore?”) one day brought up this little nugget because of Prop 26: “So, if I masturbated, would that be illegal?”

I wasn’t sure how to respond, because he wasn’t doing it to get a laugh out of the class.  This was a genuine-I’m-dead-serious question. HOW do you respond to that?!  YES! Totally illegal! Or, NO! (I ended up telling him that it was a good question.  GREAT question.).

Day in, day out I am able to bear witness to these million dollar questions.  I have taken to writing down some of the things that students say and here’s what happened just TODAY.

Exhibit A: We had some snow fall yesterday (very nominal though and was only on the grass until about noon).  A student didn’t come to school that day and I walked by her desk and asked: Why weren’t you here yesterday?

She looks up at me and says, very seriously and not ironically: “There was snow on the ground.”

Exhibit B: We were watching this video of a cheetah running after and subsequently catching an antelope (long story) and a student asks: “Is that cheetah gonna eat it?”

I made some remark about the cheetah keeping it as a pet and then said of course it was going to eat it.

Student: “Well, I didn’t know.  I thought they ate dog food.”

She was dead.  Serious.

I also had a student on Monday, after Thanksgiving break, inform me that, unfortunately, she couldn’t take that trip to Yemen because she was told before she left she had to work.  Bummer, kid.  Should’ve put in for that time off earlier.

Most of the time these kids say things that are unintentionally funny.  You could say “you shouldn’t laugh at that!” but if you are one of those, then you just can’t see the humor in it.  And you’re hating on the thing I love the most about teaching.

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Go To Bed, Fedoras

Dear Fedoras,

It’s been a heck of a run.  You really managed a come back worthy of endless replays on the fashion channels I don’t have on my TV.  You’re the 2004 Red Sox, four games down.  You’re the Detroit Lions in every game they play this year.  You’re Micky Rourke for a minute in 2008.  But now, like all things, your time has passed.

There you were, donned by the gangsters in the 1920s, while they were thanklessly providing alcohol to the masses and sleeping on beds made of money.  You kept their heads warm as they bought off politicians in Chicago! Hey, murdering, stealing, and breaking the wall is high profile work.  They needed style, you brought it.

Fedora: "Make sure that cigar doesn't stink up my skin."

Where’d you in the 1940s and 50s?  I guess we were all too worried about crew cuts and skinny ties to even have TIME to think about wearing fedoras.  And, you know, babies.  People were too busy having lots of babies too (I’m looking at you, parents!).   They were all also moving out of the city and white-flighting out into the ‘burbs.  There you were, all cooped up in that box with moth balls.  For what it’s worth, I dig the smell of moth balls, I hope you have the same attitude I do.

BUT HEY! 1960s, you started storming back, MAD MEN style.  While men were drinking at work and coming up with advertisements (that’s what everyone did, right?  Work at ad agencies?  You tell me, fedora! You were there.) People again wore you on their pomaded heads and all the ladies said “Oh, that gentlemen has style.  In about 50 years, I might want to wear one.”

You were at the top of the fashion class again.  But then hippies happened.  I only have a cursory knowledge of history, so it’s my understanding that everyone was a hippie, grew out their hair (save for the occasional dandelion) and no one worked.  Bandanas became your little brother that got all the attention now.  All of the sudden if someone wore you, fedora, they became the “man” which is apparently a title that leaves a lot to be desired.

Where did you go in the 80’s and 90’s?  I don’t know.

Then all of the sudden BAM: the aughts.  In 2009, hipsters everywhere went into their grandpa’s closets and found you in those dusty, moth ball filled boxes and were like “Yeah! This isn’t cool! I’m going to wear it!”

Then people started wearing you out to the club and even women jumped on the bandwagon.

Now, fedora, I don’t mean to be rude, but I have never once heard a girl say: “See the cute guy with the fedora on?” before.  I know, it’s hard to imagine, you’re great! Conversely, I have never heard a guy say to his buddy, “see the looker in the fedora?  Time to make my move.”

That’s why, with a heavy heart, I have to tell you it’s time to go back into the box, fedora.  It’s been a heck of a run.  Almost 100 years of people liking you intermittently! That’s pretty good! Almost as good as socks and sandals, which is still on an incredible run.  Almost as good as the Cubs are at losing, but not quite.  No, it’s time for you to go.  You’re no longer unique, no longer fashionable, even if Bruno Mars wears you to cover that flat top-ish hair of his.

Everything is wrong with this picture.

I’m sorry to have to be the one to break it to you, but it’s just time to disappear and maybe reappear once we outlaw alcohol again and when people understand that the mob, well they’re just job creators, and make a gigantic comeback.

I wish you well,

Zach.

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How To Improve Mississippi

My roommates and I often sit around and talk about ways Mississippi should make changes to help improve the state.

Now, let’s be clear:  Illinois is not free of controversy and has needed to make some serious changes itself in the past.

Exhibit A:

Blagojevich sucks. Blagojevich's hair? The shit.

But Mississippi has a serious set of challenges on its own.  You could argue it ranks first in a lot of categories.  Obesity, worst education (based on scores, here.  Easy tigers.), it’s up there in unemployment.

How can we remedy this situation?  I’ve come up with a three-part plan.  Bear with me.

#1 – Elect Kermit the Frog as Governor

Why Kermit?  Because he is from a swamp in Mississippi.  He’s a Mississippian homer through and through.  AND HE IS BADASS.

Can’t you imagine him at the podium in his cute little suit?

That's Governor Kermit to you.

Kermit is completely neutral.  He’d be all about the environment, thus we’d actually have respectable recycling in Mississippi.  Also, if he had to deliver bad news it wouldn’t sound that bad.  Imagine, if you will:

(In Kermit’s voice): “Well, there was another oil spill in the gulf and it’ll cost a lot of money but we’ll try and get it cleaned up soon.”

Then he busts out “The Rainbow Connection” and everyone is like “This is actually really cute. Let’s have more oil spills.”

He defies race, which is an important element here.

There is a bit of controversy because of the interanimal relationship he holds with Miss Piggy.  I mean, they’re not married, but they’ve been together forever, so that counts right?  I bet Rick Santorum would shit himself though.

#2 – Let’s Start to Phase Out the Confederate Flag a Bit, No?

I think it’s time to let go, Mississippi.  I get it.  The Confederate Flag is a Southern thing and a tradition and blah blah blah.  But to put it IN your state flag?

YIKES!

A flag with in a flag?  I’m by no means a psychologist, but cut the umbilical cord, would you?  You have some separation anxiety issues that couldn’t be cured even with over 145 years of time.  The Confederacy is…dead.  Some states (Virginia) are phasing out flying the Confederate flag in certain areas, but when you fly the state flag, you’re flying both.  PICK A SIDE ALREADY.  You have been hemming and hawing for over 146 years.  You’re such a child, Mississippi.

#3 – Fewer Dry Counties.

For all the jokes I received about drinking moonshine down south, there are sure a lot of dry counties – because barring all drinking has really solved the problems in those counties.

Plus, there’s a revenue problem here in Mississippi.  You know what would help? BOOZE TAX!

Let’s do some relatively simple math, shall we?

BOOZE + SELLING = $$$

In Oxford, you can’t buy beer or alcohol on Sundays.  For several months of the year that must just kill them with football and sports.  I tried to buy wine (to cook with) on Super Bowl Sunday (Yep.  I’m not in college anymore.) and the employee at Wal-Mart told me I couldn’t buy wine.  I informed him that they were losing out on a ton of money because of the Super Bowl.  That showed him.

Mississippi, get your act together and sell some booze would you? MAKE SOME MONEY! WHY DO YOU HATE MONEY?

So, I feel as though I have put forth some easy fixes to help ease Mississippi’s troubles.

Kermit ’11.

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Things That Freak Me Out

So, it’s been a while.  I’m sure you’ve all been dutifully checking back here daily for updates.  Well I’ve BEEN BUSY.  I had that whole summer of two months off and I produced one blog post.  That blog post was really damn exhausting, all right?  Those google searches for images? I had to nap after that.

For some reason, I find myself daily thinking of situations I’d rather not be in.  This is what I do instead of, you know, teaching.  But whatever, those kids can learn by just looking at the board and worksheet, right?

What do I mean when I say “things that freak me out?”

Well, some shit just scares me to think about.

#1 – Breaking my Femur

If this isn’t at the top of your list, then I don’t know what you’re doing here.  Supposedly it’s more painful than childbirth (sorry, ladies).  It’s a hard bone to break, but I did some crack research and found this nugget: Even 1200lb of force wont break a femur if it is applied vertically and gradually, or if it is applied across the femur evenly distributed.

Well thank God.  ONLY 1,200 pounds have to just be applied vertically and gradually for it to break.  Take note, torture artists.

#2 Snakes

Anytime I mention snakes, hear about snakes, see a snake on TV, I immediately, and maybe unconsciously lift my feet up.  Currently, my feet are on the ground and I am resisting the temptation to lift my legs up onto the couch because I FEEL LIKE THERE IS A SNAKE UNDER THE COUCH.  Right now.  I know there (probably) isn’t, but it’s the thought.

It’s a paradox though – I can’t stand snakes, have never even touched one.  But if I see one in a zoo I can’t stop staring.  Kind of.  I also run away.

Whenever I drive by the swampy areas in Mississippi all I think is: “Probably some snakes in there.”

#3 – Grocery Store Visits

Holy Lord what an awful experience all around.  For some reason, I find the time to procrastinate until Sunday to go grocery shopping.  Which is the worst idea ever.  The bananas are all picked the hell over, I love buying grapes but they sure aren’t cheap, the bread aisle experienced some sort of blitzkrieg, there are 40 kids in a cart and the mom is pushing another cart with $500 worth of Stouffer’s lasagna and frozen pizza.  AND I’M EXPECTED TO FIND FOOD FOR THE WEEK?

Once I realize I’m past the grocery section I usually just break down, cry for a minute, and decide that CoCo Puffs sound pretty good for dinner again.

I don’t HATE the grocery store.  It just freaks me out.  Breaking my femur freaks me out.  Snakes I don’t hate but…wait.  Yes.  I hate snakes.

 

 

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Declaring War on Broccoli

At some point in life you have to accept the fact that some things just aren’t meant to be.

My relationship with broccoli has fallen into this category, this hell. I wanted things to work out between that vitamin C, do-everything vegetable and myself, but I just couldn’t bear it anymore.

You see, B and I have always been on treacherous footing. I’ve never been known for my exotic tastes in food, let alone those blasted “green” vegetables that are supposedly “healthy” and apparently necessary in a diet. For years I shunned it, pushed it around the plate, waiting for broccoli to make the first move. I often told others, “once this broccoli on my plate here tastes better, then I’ll take a bite.”

The thing is that broccoli will never taste better. I’ve tried it in salads, stir fry, raw, hibachi, cold, warm, grilled – you name it, I’ve pretty much given it a shot. I’ve wanted to like broccoli so bad. I wanted to love broccoli, buy it raw in the grocery store and, once the kids are off to college, grow it in my garden that I built during my mid-life crisis.

I just can’t get over that bland-as-hell-what-is-that-texture feel/taste that broccoli gives me.

It’s like a bad candidate for president, one you really don’t want to do well and you get sick whenever there is good press on them.

There is ALWAYS good press on broccoli. I sometimes use about.com and their calorie counter function to do some research on how badly I’m destroying my body. They use the letter grade system to rate foods and, without fail, broccoli gets an “A”. It’s that bastard in school who never studied, but always got good grades, was the teacher’s pet, and you even kind of liked him too, despite how much you didn’t want to.

It’s like when you forgot to do that homework assignment that no one did, except him, and he reminds the teacher. Broccoli is always reminding me how great he is.

The sad thing is how desperate I am for broccoli to be good. I sense my metabolism slowing from its glorious high school rate. My steady diet of hamburgers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is no longer viable. All of the research is stacked against red meat. Just once, when I log onto MSNBC.com, I’d like to see a headline that reads, “FDA screws up, broccoli actually the bane of everyone’s existence,” or, “Everyone’s saved! Broccoli found to be cause of cancer.” Then we all give up broccoli and everyone lives forever.

Alas, this is not the path that will be taken, and I have come to accept that. My hatred for broccoli has spilled over into my relationships with people, I understand the toll it’s beginning to take.

Often, I’ll get into a discussion with someone on food and they’ll inevitably say something about how broccoli is wonderful and it changed their life and they’re getting married or something. I’ll cringe and try and convince them otherwise.

“You know, broccoli is high in sodium. Yeah, I know. Bastard was hiding his imperfection from all of us, wasn’t he?”

But, my friends, as great as they are, stay the course of healthy eating and living.

Whenever I’m at some cookout or potluck and someone brings a vegetable tray, I want to stop everything.

“Who the hell is the smartass that brought broccoli? This is a POTLUCK, leave the carrots, we might be able to do something with them, but get broccoli out of my sight.”

Of course, I don’t actually do that. Broccoli and I just trade long stares. There’s tension in the room. I want to love broccoli but I can’t, and he always is the victor.

Maybe someday I’ll see the light and join this trend of broccoli-loving. Until then, I’m a scorned eater who can’t accept the fact that broccoli has won, and always will.

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