15 December 2004

Stories and sundries from last week:


7:15 am (driving to work) question: Why hasn't anyone made a modern adaptation of Lysistrata, a la such teen classics as 10 Things I Hate About You?

7:50 thought: I wish I had perfume that smelled like eggnog.

It's pretty clear, already, how this day will go.


Me: I'm totally the teacher that sits in her room and rocks out to Prince on her prep period.
Me: Wait, what teacher is that?


So my roommate Lisa and I go to see a movie, but as usual she's running way late (for no real reason) and we arrive at the theater 20 minutes after the 5:30. We decide to go across the street first, for dinner, and catch the 7:00. She parks her little Rav4 in the movie theater parking lot (which is HUGE), and before we can go for dinner, she has to stop and put her jacket on, so she sets everything down on the hood of the car and I wait, patiently, distracted, amid the xeriscaping. We go have dinner, the waiter flirts with us and gushes about how much he loves Blue Moon beer (my favorite), whatever. After dinner, we walk across the street and through the parking lot to the theater, where we buy tickets, sit through about 17 previews, and then the movie (the incredibles, cute).

The movie ends around 9:15. Lisa and I are sitting at the end of the row, and I scoot out of my seat immediately so the other people can get out, but Lisa spends like five minutes digging in her purse. I finally coax her into the aisle, where she continues to block people and dig in her purse. "I can't find my keys." "Maybe you could look in the lighted hallway?" I suggest. Okay. We sit down on a bench and Lisa pretty much dumps all the contents of her purse out, but no keys. She leaves her purse with me as she goes back into the theater to crawl around on the floor looking for her keys. Ten minutes later, she comes out of the theater shaking her head. No luck. We go to the lost and found, and though it's full of keys and sunglasses (and someone's social security card!), Lisa's keys aren't among the found lost. "Back to the restaurant," I say. Suddenly, Lisa looks at me in panic. "I put them on the car. When I put my coat on." She bolts out the door and starts running through the parking lot. Confused, I follow. "I hope my car's there! I hope it's still there!" she yells.

The car is still there. Sitting on the hood of Lisa's car are her keys. Sitting on the hood of the car, in a crowded parking lot, for almost FOUR HOURS. We should all be so lucky.


I went out to feed the hawk tonight (mouse soup, because we keep all the frozen mice in our freezer and the best way to defrost them quickly is to boil a bowl of water & drop the mice in) and saw that the gate had blown open in the wind. I realized I hadn't seen the dog in maybe 20 minutes and a deep sense of dread filled my stomach, because he has this tendency to wander off and get really immersed in his own projects (sniffing grass and chasing rabbits, generally) and then get lost, like a little autistic kid who's kind of deaf.

I run through the house to see if he's maybe hiding in one of the bedrooms or putzing around the backyard, but he's not, he's not anywhere and the sun's setting quickly and he's nearly impossible to see in the dark. I put on a pair of sandals and go running into the front yard, up to the top of the driveway where I have a better view of the yard and the neighborhood, all the time whistling and calling for him. I don't see him anywhere, so I start wandering up and down the street, yelling and whistling and worrying about how all the neighbors are looking out their windows at me with a mixture of pity and disgust, like you'd look at the resident crazy homeless person who you try to feel bad for but really you wish they'd get off your front stoop, and I'm also worrying that someone's picked up my perfect dog and realized instantly that he'd be the greatest pet for their eight-year-old twins or maybe they'll sell him to some evil scientist to do experiments on him and I'll never see him again. The sun's setting, and I'm feeling increasingly crazy and desperate but trying to keep my cool, remembering the time last year when he wandered off and I screamed like a madwoman for a half-hour, only to have my neighbor come over and say that the dog had been happily sitting on his front porch the whole time.

It's getting pretty dark and I jump in the truck to drive up and down the streets looking for him, knowing that it won't do much good but I can't just settle down and wait for him to get hit by some teenager joyriding in his grandmother's caddy. I'm driving up and down the streets with my window wide open, going about 3 miles an hour and screaming and whistling through my window, and then stopping in embarassment when some nice old people on their nightly constitutional give me a panicky, frightened look like at any moment I'm going to jump the curb and come after them.

I drive all the way to the top of my street and all the way down, and by now it's almost too dark to see anything, but at the very bottom of my road I see some glowing eyes on the street and whistle at them. A very nice, very calm dog trots up to my truck and I apologize to it, telling it that I'm looking for a different dog and sorry to bother him. He wags his tail and trots up the street, and I continue driving, feeling increasingly crazy and increasingly desperate, but by the time I'm halfway around my very large block I've settled into a feeling of quiet resignation, planning in my head how to explain to Lisa when she gets home and later to my family how Zeke ran away and I'm a horrible person and he's probably in some lab as we speak, being shampooed with some horribly abrasive experimental new Pantene product. I cruise back down my own street so slowly that a truck gets frustrated and passes me just as I reach the driveway, so I have to wait until he gets around me to turn down it, but when I do I see three dark shapes waiting at the bottom near the house, and my heart leaps and catches. I creep all the way down the gravel driveway, thinking about how ironic it would be if I ran over my own dog just when I've found him, and I see in the glow of the headlights that one of the three dark shapes is, indeed, my dog. Another of the three runs off into the yard, quickly disappearing into the tumbleweed and yuccas, but the third shape stays.

It's the other dog, the one from before. It waits until I get all the way down to the bottom of the driveway, watching Zeke, watching me, and then wags its tail at me and starts trotting up the driveway. I know this will sound completely insane, like I've been living in New Mexico too long and really should get back to the midwest where no one talks matter-of-factly about "spirit guides" or "manifestions," but I truly got this strange sense that this other dog had found Zeke and led him home, and then waited to leave until it was sure Zeke was safe. I made Zeke jump in the truck with me and then called after the yellow dog, "Thank you! Thank you for bringing Zeke home!" The dog stopped in the driveway, looked back at me, wagged its tail like a wave, and disappeared into the night.

and the sequel:

-- one, that the third dog in the driveway managed to get locked into our backyard, only to be discovered cowering and shivering in the bushes around 11:00 that night with a terrible injury to his jaw (so sad! SUCH a sweet dog!) so Lisa and I managed to drag him out of the yard across this street to his own house, where his owner (blinking and groggy and none-too-happy to be awakened) didn't even thank us for bringing him home. It was a weird dog night.

-- two, apparently my roommate can communicate with animals, um, psychically, and she later "heard" my dog saying "What's the big deal? I was just hanging out with my friends."

seriously, you just have to laugh.


Lisa: Melanie was telling me about this movie we should see.
Me: Oh yeah? What's that?
Lisa: I don't know, something about this geek who's stuck in the 80s. Just like you!


Five more days. Five more days.

-- Five more days to push against the wall of apathy (my own!) and get all the grading and cleaning done.....
-- Wait a minute, I have a full inservice day to "work on grades" on the 3rd! I don't have to get anything done!
-- No, but wouldn't you feel better if you had all your grading done before the holiday, so it wasn't hanging over your head those two weeks?
-- Maybe.....
-- Yes you would.
-- But I don't want to do any work this week! I want to kick it with some eggnog and claymation tales of reindeer and dentists!
-- It will be worse if you don't do it.
-- But....
-- Way worse.
-- Wait a minute.... Jimminy, is that you? I thought I squooshed you under my boot in college!

09 December 2004


Advisory (aka homeroom).

Andrew: (sounding like a grizzled old man) Ach, maybe I'll go buy myself a drink, after school.
Me: What? I hope you mean orange juice.
Andrew: (muttering to himself) ...mumble...otch mumble rocks.....
Bill: He has $24 to spend.
Andrew: $24.25, please. And it's burning a hole in my pocket.
Me: So you're going to buy SCOTCH?
Andrew: (thoughtfully) It's a possibility....
Me: But you're fourteen.
Bill: Moriarty drives children to desperate acts. It's very sad, isn't it?
Me: You kids are weird. (pause) But seriously, SCOTCH?

1st period.

Karma: One thing I liked about your presentation was that you were funny without going off topic. Unlike ANDREW.
Andrew: That was yesterday!
Lizzil: And it's still funny!
Andrew: Ms. Backes, they're so mean to me.
Me: You'll be a better person, stronger, in the end.
Andrew: No. I'll just be sad.
Dale: As Ms. Backes said yesterday, PULL IT TOGETHER, MAN!

Kid: Z is for Zuni. Zuni people are well known for their artwork. Zuni pueblo is one of the oldest in New Mexico. Back then it was visited by very little Spanish.
Me: What, like midgets?
Kid: (extremely confused) What?
Class: ...
Me: I think you mean, "visited by very few Spanish."
Class: ...
Other Kid: Oh, **I** get it!!


Me: So I'm thinking, why hasn't anyone made Lysistrata into a modern movie?
Dale: Because it's a bad idea!

"I would prefer this book to any kid."


Kitty: Nuh uh! Ms. Backes, candles don't explode when you light them, do they?
Me: No....
Buddy: Yes they do! Yes they do! If they're made of gasoline!!


Patty: My nutcracker looks like Michael Jackson now!
Lizzil: Why?
Patty: We scraped his nose off. Now when you light him on fire, his nose glows!


7th period. Best class ever. I could not stop giggling, and eventually gave up on trying to keep the peace in the room.

Ivy: Ms. Backes, can I [mumble mumble] Kyle?
Me: WHAT??
Ivy: What?
Me: Did you just ask if you can EAT Kyle??
Kyle: Aaaaaahh!
Ivy: No! Can I BEAT Kyle?
Me: Ohhhh!
Kyle: Aaaaaaaahh!!

I go over and turn the radio on.
Jerry, watching me: Ms. Backes, do I hear music??
Me: (stunned) I can't even grace that with an answer!
Summer: It's just the wind blowing through the spaces in your head.
Jerry: Oh, okay!

Summer: Ms. Backes doesn't mind if we swear, do you?
Me: Um.... let's say I'd rather not have to deal with it at all.
Jenny: Yeah, but you swear all the time!
Me: (gasping) I most certainly do NOT!
Jenny: Sure you do.
Me: No I don't!
Jenny: Yeah, like when you said your car was a piece of shit!
Me: I did not say that!
Summer: Yes you did.
Me: I said it was a piece of CRAP, which is a much different thing!
Jenny: No it's not. Shit, crap, it's all the same thing.
Me: Maybe, but I did NOT say shit!
Jenny: Except just then.
Me: Oh, shi-- shucks! See, I never swear!

Jenny: Ms. Backes, why are you drinking coffee at 2:30 in the afternoon?
Me: Um.... let's just say it's because crack is illegal.
Summer: Ha ha! I'm totally going to steal that!
Me: D'oh!

Ivy: Ms. Backes?
Me: Yes?
Ivy: Kyle's scared.
Me: Of what?
Summer: He thinks you're going crazy!!
Me: Ha! I am! If I'm not here on Monday it's because the nice men in white jackets came for me!

2nd period.

Kristine: That's a nice fence you're drawing. You have a lot of barbed wire, though. It's expensive!
Marsha: Yeah... no one will get into this field.
Kristine: Where do you buy all this barbed wire?
Andrew: At the Hitler Warehouse!!

Me: What does that look like to you?
Kristine: A cow?
Me: Ha! I totally can draw a cow!
Everyone: ...?
Me: My 6th period class and I got into a big fight about whether or not I could draw a good cow.
Beth: My sister's in your 6th period class.
Me: I know. She was one of the people fighting with me!
Beth: (nodding wisely) We're good at fighting.

Eddy: Ms. Backes is doing the crossword!
Kristine: Oh, really?
Me: Yes..... badly.
Eddy: She does it every morning!
Me: No I don't!
Eddy: Yes you do! Every morning you sit in the back and do the crossword!
Me: Eddy, that is patently false. In fact, this is the first time all year that I've done the crossword!
Eddy: Well, you read the paper every morning!
Me: Well, that's true.
Eddy: So what do you do with the paper if you're not doing the crossword?
Me: I **READ** it. I take the information into my brain.
Eddy: But..... but that's BORING!!!


Ellery: Ms. Backes, do you know where we turn these in?
Me: Do I know? Let's see, it's an assignment **I** gave you, and ***I'm*** going to be grading it, so yes, I suppose I know where you turn it in.
Ellery: So.....where?
Me: To me! You turn it in to me!!

Ivy: Ms. Backes, how old are you?
Walt: 24! She's 24!
Me: That's right.
Summer: I always think you're 22!
Xander: I thought you were 21!
Me: It's easy to remember, because it's the same as the year. 24, 2004. In 2005 I'll be 25.
Elliot: So... were you born in 1980?
Me: Yup.
Elliot: Me too!
Me: YOU were born in 1980??
Elliot: Oh. Um. No. I mean 1990.
Me: Oh, well that's very different, isn't it?