Your Memory Is A Monster

Completely anonymous, letting the guilty live free and the interested live happily.

Looking forward to: August 7, 2009

1. Making jokes that are hilarious to me & so lame to my 10th graders.
2. Having 10th graders.
3. Being done with HR paperwork.
4. Decorating my classroom. I’m so into office supplies.
5. Learning cool new slang, using it, and ruining it for my students.
6. My students’ jokes. It will be tough, though, to cease laughing at my students’ use of “That’s What She Said.”
7. Talking about books.
8. Extra-curricular events.

I’m starting to see that I am really revealing myself to be a huge nerd. What’s worse is that I’m pretty alright with that.

The truth is, I am silently freaking out. About paperwork, about when I will have time to do what, about being ready for the first day, about other teachers liking me, about standardized test prep… and about my students’ attitudes.

There are moments, like today, when I was getting the books I’ll be teaching, that I am so excited I almost actually squeal.

There are moments when I am terrified of something happening and not knowing what to do.

There are moments when I panic about getting things done, doing them right, and everything actually coming together.

There are moments when I am so ready to be here, in this new apartment, with this new job.

There are moments when I feel the wave of regret of leaving where I left, who I left, the job I left, the students and former students I left.

Will it be better or worse? Did I just fuck something up?


Teenage devils. February 6, 2009

Should I be bothered that I am a better teacher than the people teaching me to teach?

Should I be bothered that the state requires me to learn how to teach, even though I’ve been teaching for 4 years?

Should I be bothered that, in order to sustain and fulfill my life, I’ve accrued $70k in debt?

To be honest, I am most bothered by the fact that I don’t even know how to get a job once I’m done learning to do a job I’ve been doing. Maybe, somehow, these classes will make me a better teacher. But how are they going to help me get a job?

One of the FAQs on the Ed department’s Teacher Certification program website is “Will the department help me find a job?” The answer is simply “No.”

Perhaps I should have a different department, eh?

Though my MA will earn me only a little more a year (when I do, eventually, find a job), I don’t think it was a wasted effort, or even wasted money. I think that those three years, that that writing, those experiences were intrinsically valuable. I don’t know that I would have named a price so high, but I would never say I’m not glad I did what I did.

I did wish this process was easier, though.

I want to teach English to high school students. I am ready to sell my soul to the teenage devil. I am ready to lay down my life for standardized tests. And I am willing to do it all for less money than I could make doing little more than checking my Facebook as an office worker. So why isn’t someone making it easier?

There is an abundance of well-educated, under-employed people in this county, this state, this city, this effin’ neighborhood, even. Why aren’t we being snatched up, courted, wooed and escorted into jobs that need filling, that change lives, that meet important needs?

Why do I have to fight to do the right thing?

I am still going to do it, and I won’t complain (more than this). But what about all the equally qualified folks who are up for the job but not this strenuous process?


I remember you being very different. August 16, 2008

Let’s say that you went to college with this guy. And you just loved him. Every time you saw him on campus, you found a reason to talk to him. You were friends, sometimes you hung out, sometimes you had lunch together in the caf or sat around on a front porch at a party talking. You weren’t crazy stalker asking questions about him getting people to talk to him about you. You just acted kind of goofy whenever you talked to him. You were the only person around who knew half of anything about music and you always argued about it with him, in that spirited, excited way you argue when you finally find someone your equal in such an argument.

He made you a CD of all his favorite music, and you still have it, 4 or so years later.

He was a safe and comfortable person. Someone you didn’t obsess over, but someone you couldn’t shake out of your brain when you left school. Unlike those countless people who you hung out with sometimes but whose names you don’t still remember, this guy somehow manages to come up in your memories.

If you think of that time his band played some shitty show a few blocks from campus, you think: “Why wasn’t I braver? Bolder? Why didn’t I realize then what I realize now?”

But it’s infrequent that you think of him. Let’s say though, for the first time in months, you think of him one morning and realize you had a dream about him the night before. A dream where the two of you were married and in love and comfortable with each other.

And so you find him on Facebook. 

And you do realize now what you hadn’t before. 

He’s kind of stupid. And he spells things wrong. And he quotes stupid movies. And his favorite books include novelizations of the Star Wars movies and Harry Potter. And that’s it. And there is a joke about oral sex. And his favorite movies Dumb & Dumber and Baseketball

It would, don’t you imagine, change the way you look at a lot of things in your past.


Which bitch is that? July 21, 2008

Filed under: Funny Funny Family,Thinking Thinking Thinking — memorymonster @ 7:47 am

What’s the difference between lazy and laid-back?

Remember your answer, it becomes important.

What about between scared and worried?

Friend and girlfriend?

My simple sarcasm is often perceived as caustic.

There are jokes about whether we are drunks or alcoholics.

If I sometimes can’t tell the difference between these, how can I know which I am? 

If I sometimes can’t tell the difference between these, are the distinctions important?

They certainly have different connotations: lazy is slovenly, while laid-back people have realized how to rise about the small things or only concern themselves with things they find truly important. But describe each and they end up looking about the same.

What if I am being caustic and derisive but I’ve convinced myself I am merely being sarcastic, witty. As in literature and most other things, there are small differences in tone that make the difference between them. But if you think I’m being mean, regardless of my intentions, aren’t I being mean? If I am hurting your feelings, then I’m hurting them, even if I think I am just making a joke we can both laugh at.

Yes, yes, I know. Most of this is semantics. I teach, after all, connotative/denotative meanings. I explore the ideas of tone and how different words with similar technical meanings carry so much difference in feeling, so much difference in implication.

Really, what I wonder is, when I think I am the more positive of the two, am I rationalizing? Or, when I think I am the less positive, am I being too hard on myself?

Kind of like when someone calls a girl a bitch and I ask “a bitch in the good way or a bitch in the bad way?” Good bitches and bad bitches have clearly distinct traits. 

Why must other things be seemingly equivocal?


What if, indeed. July 10, 2008

Filed under: Thinking Thinking Thinking — memorymonster @ 5:21 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I worry. A lot. If my best friend doesn’t respond to my text message, I worry that something I said in our last conversation irritated or angered him; that’s he ignoring me or avoiding me. He calls me a few hours later and we talk for over an hour.

I worry that I am talking too much in a conversation and I anticipate what parts of the story people would be most interested in; I use their reactions as a map, seeking out their interest, steering away when they seem bored or lost.

I worry that because my car seems to be driving differently, a wheel is going to fly off and I will spin out in front of the semi in the lane next to me. I know that my car feels a little different because of the extreme windiness on I-35, but I still think “what if something goes flying off; I don’t remember how to steer out of skids; which shoulder should I veer toward?”

Seriously. I am thinking things like this all the time.

I lie awake sometimes getting mad at myself for not making a dentist appointment, deciding one of my teeth will probably fall out because I will never remember to call them or not be able to find my dental insurance information. 

I decided that I have cystic fibrosis because my mucus (from a very standard summer bronchitis) tasted sweet, like candy. I decided that I have lung cancer because I get bronchitis three times a year. I have the very rare paraneoplastic syndrome. It’s not that I am a hypochondriac. It is that I am worried about bad things happening. 

A small shake in my car means the wheel will fly off. Fatigue means lupus. Chronic ear infections mean I will go deaf soon. 

What if I go to the movies and end up getting really tired and miserable? Or what if I just go home and end up bored and unable to sleep? What do you think I should do?

I avoid doing things like my taxes because I worry about not being able to do them. But I spend time worrying about not getting them done on time.

It’s no surprise, says my doctor, that I both worry all the time and get sick frequently. I thought I was so worried about my health because there were so many signs that it was failing. Those signs, he says are normal “symptoms”; sometimes, people are just tired or sneeze. I don’t worry because I’m sick, I’m sick because I worry. 

I am over-sensitive to signs and indicators. I sometimes see indicators where there are none. I’m thinking all time, maybe to avoid feeling, maybe being I am afraid of uncertainty. Maybe both.

So I am trying cognitive therapy.

So far, I’ve learned a lot.

I learned that I worry about little things to keep my mind off the worst things. I think about the cancer, not the dying. How to handle a car wreck, not the pain. How to handle someone being (imaginarily) mad at me, what I would say, how I would react, not about them saying “I don’t like you and you are a terrible person and I am not going to be your friend anymore.” Given a possible scenario and asked about the string of events that could lead to a catastrophic end, I would take longer than you would (unless you’re like me) because I would think of 30 things to worry about on the way to death.

I learned that all the things I do to help assuage my worrying (and its effects) are all very bad strategies. Seeking reassurance (You don’t think he’s mad at me, do you? Do you think this will work?) just postpones the worry. Even if I go to the doctor, and he’s says I am fine, I wonder if he knows what he’s talking about, doubt what he said because I forgot to mention something, etc. So long as I am unable to deal with uncertainty, it won’t help. I collect information, which I think will make the uncertain certain, but I’m not exactly following the scientific method. Googling my symptoms or trying to over-read nonverbal cues is biased information gathering. Compulsively checking on things or over-preparing makes it worse, too. 

What I already know is that nothing will help me until I accept that things will be uncertain. And I cannot accept that, and live comfortably realizing it, until I acknowledge that I am capable of handling possible negative outcomes. 

What I know is that bad things are not happening all the time. And they won’t all start falling apart one day. I know that I managed to graduate from college and graduate school, so obviously I can handle things, deal with them, get them done, accomplish goals, even if they are complicated. I don’t mind hard–it’s complicated I spend so much time worrying about.

What I know is that if I am worried about something, I can either do something about it, and in that case I should, or I can’t, and in that case, what the hell is thinking about it going to do? I know that sometimes my worries are attempts to avoid thinking about things that are even worse. That sometimes I am over-relying on rationale to avoid emotions, which I distrust and fear. OK, OK. I can’t fear emotions because fear is an emotion, and here I can’t stop over-thinking this.

I realized that I worry about some things non-stop but other things don’t worry me at all. I don’t worry about ending up along, about being a bad teacher. And it is possible to eliminate doubt sometimes; I worried my best friend was irritated with me, but not that it would change our friendship for longer than that day. There are people whose love I never doubt, things I know I am great at, value I know I add to things. I don’t worry about germs, plane crashes, terrorists. I don’t get terribly worried before I read one of my pieces in front of people.

I know these things. Now I am learning how to accept them, how to use them.