24 Mar


So last night, I went to Memorial Library, which is one of the libraries on the UW campus. As a teacher in a public school, I can get a library card and check out books from public universities since I’m a technically a state employee. I walked in and saw two college girls sitting behind two separate desks; the one on the right was checking people’s IDs as they walking through the gate into the library, and the one on the right was working the information/guest pass desk. I walked up to the latter and ineloquently explained that I was a teacher and I think there’s some loophole — well, not exactly a loophole, but a, um, rule about how I can get a library pass . . . . She eventually cut me off and quickly explained, “yeah, because you’re a state employee, you can be issued a borrower’s pass.”

“Right,” I said. “Let’s make that happen.” She told me she needed to see a driver’s license with current address and proof of my being a teacher. I got out my wallet, threw the driver’s license down and then fumbled through my other cards to see if anything looked like it might prove my teacherness. All I had were insurance cards, which she wouldn’t accept. I told her we didn’t really have a card to carry around proving we were teachers. “I guess I could bring in a pay stub.”

Just as she was explaining how late she’d be there in case I wanted to come back with some proof, I interrupted and said, “Oooh. You could look me up on the Madison West website.”

At this point, college girl #2 spoke up: “Do you teach at Madison West?”

I told her yes.

“I went to Madison West!” I looked at her closely. Sure enough, I remembered her from my homeroom. For three years, she had been in my homeroom class, which, for those who don’t know, only meets about five times a year.

“Yeah,” I said. “You were in my homeroom.” She squinted at me slightly. “You have a twin brother.”

“Yeah!” she said. “Corey.”

“Yeah. Your name is Emily.”

“Oh my God!”

I turned back to college girl #1. “Do you need any more proof than that?”

“That is pretty impressive,” she conceded, but she still needed to find my name on the school’s website.

23 Dec

School’s out for the year!

Unfortunately, it ended on somewhat of a sour note. I handed back papers in my creative writing class at the end of the hour, so none of them really wished me happy anything. Instead, they left me with a bunch of cookies to clean up, and about five of them left well before the bell rang. Jerks. I hope they get coal.

09 Oct


In one, or perhaps more, of his Lake Wobegon monologues, Garrison Keilor says that cold is a stimulant for sound thinking. I’m a firm believer in that proclamation, even though Keilor’s tone in delivering it is, like so much of his stuff, couched in a sort of loving satire so that you don’t really know if he believes it himself.

I believe it cuz I have empirical evidence. Actually, I’m not sure I really even know what “empirical” means anymore. But I do know that this past week, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, classes were miserable since my room was about 87 degrees. But everything changed on Thursday since temperatures plunged to the mid 50s outside, giving my classroom a chance to get down to what’s known as “room temperature.” Everything was better. The kids were in better moods, I got more engaging in the classroom, and my lessons seemed to plan themselves.

But that night, the temps got low enough that the school’s heating system kicked in, and in my classroom, it remained kicked in all day. By the afternoon, it must have been back to the low 80s in the room. I had opened up all the windows, turned the fans back on, and moved all the knobs to their lowest settings on the “thermostat.” For those who don’t know, “thermostat” comes from the Greek roots, “thermo,” meaning heat, and “stat,” which, as anyone who’s watched ER knows, means “right now.” So really, my thermostat was doing its real job, which is to deliver heat to a room like a pint of blood to a guy who just got hit by a car.

My students were back to their whiney, cloudy-thinking selves by the end of the 50-minute class period, and I started fantasizing about sending them to the ER. I can’t tell you how many of them walked into the room and uttered some variation of “oh my god, it’s like a sauna in here.” The first few students got an explanation from me: “yeah, the heater running at full strength.” One of the little geniuses helpfully suggested that I “should turn the thermostat down.”

“Actually, yeah,” I replied, “I’ve thought of that.”

15 Sep

Breaking in

Out of the blue the other day, Eileen asked me how many of the places I’ve lived in did I ever have to break into. I was surprised when, upon thinking it over, I discovered that I’ve broken into almost all of the places I’ve lived. Working backwards: this house, yeah, I think; Ecuador, yep; Princeton dorm, I think so; Oakland Ave., not possible, really; Knickerbocker St., yeah; Seattle, I don’t remember; Gorham St., definitely; Jefferson St., definitely; Madison St., I’m pretty sure; UW dorm, yep; Cornell dorm, no; parents’ house, yes.

I had a reoccurring dream when I was staying in Fort Collins back when I was training for Olympic trials in 2000. We were in a pretty suburban area, and I began dreaming of the neighborhood, which was a lot like any other sub-division in the US. It was certainly similar to many Mequon sub-divisions: Lac du Cour, Ville du Parc, etc.

In the dreams, I would enter a random house. I think the first night I dreamt about it, all I did was go into the stanger’s house momentarily and then leave. But of course, there was this emotion that went along with it — a sort of thrill since there was a risk of being caught. Well then, my dreaming mind caught onto that feeling and took it to the next level. I began walking through the homes. Most times, I’d sneak behind people watching TV or some such thing. I’d wake up absolutely exhilirated by these dreams — I mean, to the point where I actually considered doing it for real. I thought, “you could always just apologize and run if you got caught.” I’m sure I would have been safe. Most people don’t take a weapon with them to the couch. And chances are I wouldn’t have walked in on a guy cleaning a gun or something. But I never really got the courage to do it.