Tuesday, May 30, 2006

miscellaneous misery

I had a good time playing water volleyball with Jason and some euphonium players yesterday- sore muscles and laughs. I needed to get out and socialize because of my current addiction to video games, namely Zelda, that is making me cranky and introverted.

I am glad I don't watch TV. I am glad most of my friends don't watch TV. It makes people so much easier to get along with, don't you think? I am subtly referring to the amount of sexist crap on TV, and not having to argue with people about why it isn't funny.

Even though I managed to get out and have good time yesterday, I am not having a very good summer so far. I'm worried about not having a job, about not getting enough students to justify teaching just to make some money, about being incompetent and crabby, about not having money- particularily not enough money to make it to Wisconsin in July, even though I so desperately need this trip I can't even bear to wait another month, about life in general and just not be satisfied, about secrets and lies, holding back and not giving enough.

So, here's a meme that's been going around teh intarwubs these days, and I'm feeling just passive-aggressive enough to share it with you:

10 things I'd like to say to 10 different people, but can't. Neither confirmation or otherwise will be given.

1. I'm a little nervous about the new arrangement. I really hope it works out, and I also hope it doesn't create any new tension or change the dynamic we have. I'm comfortable enough here now that it's the last place I'd like to change.
2. I'm sorry about what happened. I shouldn't have behaved the way I did, regardless of how drunk I was or what was given to me. I am constantly feeling guilty about it.
3. I need the anger and the complaining to abate for a little bit. I'm not saying it isn't true, or that you don't have a point, but I just don't want to hear it right now. If you could stop taking that anger out on innocents, that'd be nice too.
4. You're a really good friend right now. Do you have any idea how much I want to just spill everything out in front of you, and hope for the best? I need some relief and I don't know where to go, so you might be it.
5. I need some time, space, and room for thought. I feel squished up and a little trapped. It's a web of my own designing, sure, but I don't have the guts to cut myself free so I need your help.
6. I wish I could pick you up and shake you, hard, to make you understand that you shouldn't let people use you that way. It hurts me to think that you like it.
7.I miss you, and I miss the past. I wish I knew how you felt but you never seem to want to share. I think that's my fault, honestly. These days I feel like everything's my fault.
8. Seeing you again was awesome. I had forgotten how good you were at getting the truth out of me, and making me turn the looking glass on my own mind. I need that. I wish you weren't so far away, and we could talk more.
9. Why are you such an asshole? Your students hate you and your program isn't teaching anyone anything. You've lost the three best teachers you ever had, and I hope you suffer for it.
10. I wish I could ask you for help, but I hate the lectures and I hate the implications. I know you're really happy to help me out, but I promised myself I'd be self-sufficient from grad school on out. I'm just in a lot of trouble with finances right now, and I'm not sure who else to turn to.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

heavy-handed metaphor

I haven't done one of these in a while, but the time is right.

Sometimes life in Texas is like that feeling you get when you've been pulled over by a cop, or maybe even like living under the Bush Administration. You can't do much about it except jump through hoops, and eventually you know you'll collapse under the pressure.

What I mean is this: things that should be simple, people that should be helpful and friendly, situations that should be fairly straightforward and managable, are not.

For example: teaching in the band programs out here. You get the go ahead to call one band's students, set them up for lessons, and off you go. That's easy. Then you start to have some problems with being paid on time. You make the necessary calls, some pay you, some still don't. So you talk to the band director. He can't help you out at all, because he's too busy/it's your problem/he doesn't feel comfortable. So you keep bothering the person in question and eventually you get paid.

Then one or two of your students quit lessons, citing lack of funds or interest or just plain distaste for the trombone. You ask for more students and they say they'll work on it. Students never materialize.

Throughout all of this you're friendly, capable, and honest, and you'd kinda hoped that maybe you'd have the kind of relationship with these band directors that your high school lesson teacher did- grab a beer after classes, maybe start a brass quintet. But they're just barely friendly, succinct and distant.

Eventually maybe you decide to go back to school, or start another job, and you don't have quite as much time to teach all the students at this particular school. You take the ones you want and set up a schedule, only to find that you're never informed of when students will be out of school, not have their instruments, etc. So you set up an email relationship with the parents, which helps you both with communication and getting paid on time, and start to feel pretty good about yourself. Things are moving. The system is working for you.

Little things about the program bug you, then big things. You can't change it so you try it grassroots style: teaching your students valuable information, making sure they get an education beyond what they get in band. That's what private lessons are for, right? You stop speaking to the band directors about all but the biggest issues because you're tired of being blown off and made to feel useless. Eventually you get this feeling like you're not wanted, like you're the wrench in the gear, and you start to think about moving on.

And then you get an EMAIL saying they no longer want you to teach lessons for their students, even though they really should have very little say, being as the parents, not the school pay you. You hash it out, just trying not to go away quietly, and you contact your parents to make sure they don't really have any problems with you. You want information as to why exactly this turn of events has taken place: does it have to do with the way you teach, how the students progress, how you handle things financially? But all you get is weak, 'go away' answers. No honesty, no help.

You're okay for now, because you still have that other school you teach at and you're positive the band director there things highly of you. But you also remember that in the fall the high school band program that middle school feeds into is being taken over by one of the assistants at the high school you had the falling out with, and you know there's going to be bad blood, especially considering how much control the high schools in this district exert over their feeder schools. You email the director who likes you, feeling desperate, and remembering that she might be leaving for a job closer to home in the fall. You're starting to feel like you're being blacked out of your livelihood, and you're getting a little worried about how you're going to be a full-time graduate student with a shitty part-time job and still pay the bills. With teaching at least you got a fair amount of money in a short amount of time, and it didn't cut so quickly into your practice or homework time.

All through this you can't help but feel like that higher power, The Man, is getting out his strap-on, purple sparkled dildo, polishing it, and just waiting for you to crack and pull down your pants.

I've never felt this way in any of the other places I've lived. I've always thought that the job market was rough, you had to be careful what you said and how you acted, but it was easy to succeed if you were competent and confident. People made room for you and helped you out, were friendly and were often friends. They took time to appreciate the work you did and congratulate you for moving on to bigger things. But in Texas, maybe especially Dallas, and the band programs in particular, it's so cutthroat and ridiculous. I can't stand it. I can't believe how unprofessional and demeaning these people can be, and I can't believe how they get away with it.

I've also gotten this feeling with:
-car repair shops
-airport employees
-lifeguarding jobs (which by all accounts should be enjoyable and challenging, but never frustrating)
-driving on the highways
-making friends

and so on and so forth. I guess it just seems like all of these things should be somewhat easy. You'd expect a certain amount of headaches from some of them but never terrible. Out here it seems just tenfold as bad. Shit happens, and you pay for it. Try to get a job, and you'll wind up being patronized, ignored, shafted, and fired for no real reason other than that they don't like you much. Try to convince a police officer that your impending ticket was a mistake, or a foolish thing, and you'll fight an uphill battle that will wind up costing you more than it's worth. Try to convince the Bushies that there's global warming, women's rights, and the UN to be dealt with ASAP, and you'll be involved in another uphill, morally frustrating and intellectually demeaning war. They want you to give up, and you're starting to realize how nice a nap might be, maybe some weeding in the garden, a nice walk...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I got a little carried away with my haircutting this morning and ended up with too-short hair! It looks a little goofy. Oh well, it'll settle in a few days.

Anyway, I am nonchalant about the hair issue because I was taking a survey today (yes, for cash, and yes because I am a dirty dirty webwhore and I need money) asking me about my physical health. Looking at the list of ailments you could choose from, some of which I didn't even know of, I felt pretty darn lucky to only be checking 'acne', 'chronic back pain', 'high cholesterol', and 'bad haircut'. It is good to be healthy and feel well, and I am grateful.

Check this out: A scientist turned Buddhist Monk speaks about science and happiness.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

you are the song, and i am the guitar

There's always an album, or maybe just a song sometimes, it seems, that transcends different places in your life and manages to remind you of just about everything all at the same time. When you're 20 it means one thing, it's about this one person, and two years later it means another and this other person, but still those early situations, and so on and so forth.

For me this album is Ani's Dilate. The first time I heard it I thought, this is everything my non-relationship with Ryan was, punching me in the gut with truths I couldn't even admit to myself.

The title song, Dilate, is alternately Ryan, a little of Jamie, and now quite a bit of Jerry.

All I have to do is close my eyes- but I can't anymore. I'm so tired of these pasts that seem unfinished, that can't leave me alone, that I can't address- they're trapping me up and tripping me down the stairs- I wish I could be free of them. But like the song, they're always there. I keep listening.

Oh, summer, oh melodrama. What would I do without you? Here's to your poetry, your memories, your changing tides and windows-down car riding, new friends and old ones, vacations and the joy of being at home.

[I am thinking about both Ani and the people I miss. Here are some songs and the people they remind me of:
Swan Dive- Jamie
Worthy/Cradle and All- Nick M
OK- Katie B
Not a Pretty Girl- Heidi B
Untouchable Face- Ryan
Shameless- That girl from Frog's Club with the pretty black hair
Sorry I Am- A Secret Person]

Le sigh! I am ready for something new, adventurous, and life-changing. Which is to say, welcome to my life again, outside of school and both more realistic and more outerspace, off the charts bizarre. Oh Brave New World!

it's nice to veg, but man am i broke

I've been doing a fair amount of sitting on my ass, working outside in the garden, and sneaking into the pool at the apartment complex down the street in the last two weeks to merit official summer status. What I really need is some income. Quitting teaching is good- I definitely need a break- but that doesn't mean I can do nothing at all. So I put in some applications at The Cupboard, Panera, and two different lifeguarding jobs. Originally I had thought I was burned out on lifeguarding, getting too old for the new crop of teens that works the pools every summer, but then I spent some time at the pool myself and remembered that it really is the best summer job EVER. Sun, water, kids to make fun of, usually pretty high pay, and plenty of time to exercise and enjoy being outside.

So here's hoping. Denton has one or two public pools, one of them being the Denton WaterWorks, a little four-slide waterpark not more than five minutes from my house (possibly a 15 minute bike ride, another alluring possibility). Either way, I need to update both my CPR and my Lifeguarding, but that's no sweat.

Oh, but summer. I love you so. Countdown to birthday begins now!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

your head asplode

Holy....balls. Megan just told me something that blew my mind out the back of my head.

Guess who's living five minutes away from Denton, TX, the town in which I currently reside?

I'll give you some hints:
-high school band
-got pantsed a lot
-jim carrey laugh
-gave me three years of lip and then was a pretty good friend for the last year

that should do.

Jesus Christ on a bicycle!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

two friends, a dog, and the champagne of beers

[three angry posts out of the way- here's your sadness for today]

Maybe it's time for me to be the one to do the leaving again. Perptuate the cycle. Learn what it means to be free, love it, hate it, and then find something cool again.

It's just that I can't stand seeing friends go, even when I understand completely why they have to. It makes me think too hard, it makes me question, it makes me wander around in a funk for days on end and no joy in the usual things.

I will miss Tim and Allison, even if I've been frustrated with them this year, even if I've been farther away and less accessible. I will miss the bitching, the beer runs, the Greek Restaurant, having a place to crash after teaching, the silliness, the political rants, the first two real friends I had in Dallas.

We became friends at a time when I was lost, confused, angry, depressed, and terribly, terribly lonely. It couldn't have been better timing. Sanctuary, at last, for the weary traveler. Things got much, much better from there and I'll never forget why.

So I moved to Denton, and hangouts weren't as frequent, but I did my best and I fought hard to keep in touch. There are some gifts you can't let go.

Hey guys- thanks. I'll see you soon.

save fry street!

I'm behind in posting this, but today's rage is catching me up on some leftover posts.

Fry Street, the little student commercial district, ghetto and wonderful and kooky as it is, has been sold to a Houston-based developer.

This is bad news, y'all (see, I can be a little local here, it's for a good cause!). Fry Street is home to The Tomato, Cool Beans, Mr Chopsticks and many other great little holes-in-the-wall, and to see that go and replaced by CVS and Borders is frightening. First off, replace a local, awesome little coffee shop (Uncommon Grounds) with Starbucks? Kill off a unique campus bookstore (Voertmans) with Borders? Threaten all the other businesses not being torn down with higher rents and less customers? Change the local character of Denton with your standard American consumer landscape?

Bullshit! You really want to build these things? Fine- I know I'm a sucker for Borders and Chipotle and I wouldn't mind going to them on the outskirts of town. But I won't see something unique sacrificed. I won't see the next generation of UNT students become more and more commericialized and put in neat consumer boxes, when what college students really need is home- memories, discussion, laughs, up-all-hours good times. How many life-changing experiences have you had in a Starbucks?

Save Fry Street!

i quit!

I was supposed to teach today, but I never made it there. Why? The freeway in Denton was backed up- it took me nearly an hour to even get past into Corinth, no end in sight, and it was already 9 by that point with a student at 9:30. Everytime I do this on the drive to Mesquite I think angrily about all the reasons I don't want to do this job any more.

[lists! May 17th is angry lists day!]
1. My students don't practice, don't care, and most don't pay me on time or enough.
2. The high school is run contrary to my teaching beliefs and there's not a ounce of room for discussion or friendly banter, it seems.
3. The drive is way too long, coincides with traffic jams in both directions, and wastes gas, plus the wear and tear on my car.
4. I don't have enough students to really justify the trip, especially not this summer.
5. I hate spending that much time away from home, being so far away from home, and being subjected to surburbia and bland everywhere I look.

It's decision time. I've been trying to get some new students for summer but so far no one's called back, and only about four of my current students want to take lessons this summer. If that's all I have, it ain't worth it. I'll get another job in Denton if I have to. Stay nearby and have a flexible schedule. Ride my bike. Enjoy playing trombone instead of feeling like I'm cramming it down some kid's throat. And come fall? I might not teach at all, if I have a job that's easy/flexible enough to still allow me practice time. I certainly won't teach in Mesquite any more. I have three or so kids I will miss, because I love teaching them. But three kids isn't enough for job satisfaction.

Hell, I'll take a crappy school if it's close to here, and I'll take good kids about as far away, but not both. Anybody out there who can help with that?

take this baby, shove it up your ***, squeeze it back out, and then see if you still like it

[Series of angry/sad posts today. Be forewarned.]

My livejournal friends list contains the both the ever-relevant Maladaptive and the occasionally snarky, mostly helpful Feminist Community, and both of them today gave me a chilling bit o' news.

Preconception! It's all the rage! -the CDC report on a new tactic aimed at ALL women of reproductive age to improve their chances of healthy pregnancy. I am not too concerned with this direct source- albeit creepy, it seems to mean well enough. Better health care for women! Hurray. Still, why do women only get attention for better health care when it's actually their reproductive health at risk? Can't we just get better care on the basis of our being HUMAN BEINGS and not just baby machines?

Take it one step further:

Pre-pregnant! It's like pre-crime, only without twitchy bald girls!- The Washington Post article on the CDC report. Now we're getting closer to Gilead.

Seriously, pre-pregnant?

I don't think I've ever been so nauseous in my whole life.

So, in honor of this, because I just spent the weekend having this conversation with acoupla other people, and in light of the excellent article in Bitch about being child-free, here are the top reasons I will never bear a child of my own flesh:

1. The World is Over-Populated
Newsflash: people are starving, our lifestyles are not sustainable, and we're not doing anything substantial to deal with it. There are children born who have no families or food, and that's not just in Africa. Take a look at America's own foster and adoptive system and tell me something's not terribly wrong here.

2. Just Because I Have a Womb Doesn't Mean I Want to Use It
Don't give me this 'woman's right' or 'woman's special gift' crap. Yeah, birth is a beautiful thing. I am glad all of you who read this were born, loved, and continue to life and enrich my life right now. Do I want to put up with the bullshit attitudes this country has about motherhood just so I can make use of some piddly organ? Carry it around for nine months giving it nutrients and my own flesh and then have it storm out of the house screaming 'I hate you Mom!' fourteen years later? No thank you!

3. Gender Roles, One Size Fits All
You're pregnant. Great. Are you married? NO? Well, get ready for a fuckin' hard time ahead of you. Welcome to your own personal judgment day. Did you get pregnant, unmarried, on purpose? Well, too bad. You're still a dirty, dirty whore, but you'd better have that kid, dammit. Newsflash #2: American society really only cares about your kids when the little parasite is in your womb. Pop it out and need some extra cash to help raise it? You burden on society you. Better get married and stay at home while you still can, so you can protect little Jimmy and Sally from all the mixed messages they're gonna get about sex, drugs, and education. Try this one on for size: Let's say the average female becomes fertile at about 13 or so. Today's 13-year old is by no means mature enough or financially stable enough to have a child. Take her to the doctor, though, and tell him or her that Susie Q Sunshine just had her first period, and she'll start getting subtly fed information about how to have a child. Meanwhile she'll receive no education on how that actually physically works, what kinds of resources she has to prevent or postpone that happening, AND she'll be under tremendous pressure from the media and her peers as to what's sexy and what's cool. How's that for preconception?

4. I Have Thought This Through- Don't Fucking Tell Me I'll Change My Mind in a Few Years
Here's an anecdote from my personal files. When I was 17, I was made a bet by both my aunt and my mom that by the time I finished my undergraduate degree I'd be drinking coffee. I didn't at the time- thought it was gross tasting and worse for you. I was so pissed off that they'd assume something about me in the future that I vowed never to drink coffee- ever- just to show them. And I don't. And I won't. So, I have an opinion- no kids coming out of my body. Does this mean I won't ever adopt? No- it's still not likely but I'm not saying never. But what it does mean is just what I said. I will not intentionally produce spawn of my own flesh. Ever. I have the potential to get pregnant, yes- and what I do if that happens will be a decision based on my situation and my desires. But ethically, I will not let that happen. I am a stubborn, stubborn girl and please stop trying to tell me differently.

Yes, I am trying to talk people out of having kids- at least consider adoption, please. Kids are great- I love interacting with children and I consider it a valuable part of my life. Just- why have more? There are so many that need help as it is. And why stereotype? Why frame what might be a perfectly reasonable attempt to provide women with better healthcare in the idea that it all boils down to a sack of amniotic fluid? Reduce a woman to her parts and products and she's just another commodity. I want to be something more than that, and I want other people to understand that my humanity is not up for grabs here. What's it going to take to get the word out?