Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I hate standardized tests

Like many people, I share a long and bitter history with standardized tests. Mine began in kindergarten, though why I had to take such a test then is beyond my understanding, or recollection. I do, however, recall the argument:

It was one of these--"Which one of these do not fit?" and they'd have, say a dog, cat, fish and giraffe. The latter, of course, is not a common household pet and thus, for the simplicity of my example, was the correct answer. The question I recall is a bit more involved. I was given the following geometric shapes:

a.) square
b.) rectangle
c.) circle
d.) triangle

Which of these do not belong with the others? Well-its tricky, if you ask me, even now. See, the answer is the circle--it doesn't belong because it doesn't have any pointy edges/angles sticking out, right? But I argued long and hard with the lady giving me the test. The square, rectangle and circle all have one thing in common--that is, they can all be divided up easily into four parts, while the triangle cannot. And so I had insisted upon the poor little triangle whilst it indeed appears I was sposed to vote for the circle.

I share this story because I am attempting to prepare for the GRE, but running into the same type of problem. For example, here in the "analogies section":

14. SKI : SNOW
A. drive: car
B. gold: putt
C. dance: step
D. skate: ice
E. ride: horse

What was your answer? Don't bother defending it, if it wasn't "E" as there's no such chance on the test itself---perhaps explains why I am particularly bitter. But, just to humor ourselves (and for people to educate me, if I am indeed being asinine ), don't you think that the relationship, analogically speaking, is closer between ski/snow; skate/ice, than it is between ski/ride; snow/horse?

askdfjtuioeghiudhviuehfgerughweiurtywetr--in other words, "grrrrr"

I hate standardized tests.

I have another example:

A. mare: stallion
B. milk: cow
C. fly: parasite
D. sheep: grass
E. drone: bee

My thought was "C" because a tarantula is a type of spider, as as fly is a type of parasite ( although i suppose this is arguable?). I was indeed tempted by "E" I will admit, but was immediately concerned with the fact that typically all the drone bees are male, and a tarantula spider is by no means automorically male. Thus, I opted for C and was corrected. I should have gone for E, the correct answer.

Am i absolutely wrong about my approach to these craptaculous tests? I have yet to meet a single person with a positive attitude towards standardization of this sort, except of course for those who score well on them. These are the people I just hate in my heart, secretly, whilst I heartily congratulate them on their performance, after whcih I suddenly have a bout of coughing, that sounds like this:

*cough* pull a TONYA HARDING *cough*

but my body guard never comes through.

I had to go through summer school because I couldn't pass the 9th grade proficiency test in math; it wasn't until my third time through that I passed (I"ll have you know that i flunked by 6 pts the first time and 3 pts the second time). Meanwhile, I went on to take "Math for the Life sciences" (essentially precalc/calc) at the college level (one of those big lecture hall courses) when I was 16 and received a B+.

Typically--though its been a lil while since I've filled out an application (I've got plenty of practice comin up)--there's a slot wherein you can explain your shortcomings insofar as standardized tests are concerned. I have an easilyo demonstratable issue with these tests and yet, I am reaching a point in which I'd prefer not to accentuate any hint of an illegitimacy on my part and instead focus on the illegitimacy of the tests, and the testing system itself! Yes, I feel that there is a shortcoming regarding the procedure and practice of the GRE itself...take THAT. I hope that somone readig this can enlighten me on exactly what the GRE is able to do that a decent interview (whether online, via telephone, or in person) cannot.

We complain about these automated systems that dominate our lives now-whether its "please hold, we have an important message..." or "due to a significant call volume, all operators are currently busy with other calls..." or "please listen carefully to the fllowing options, as our menu has changed [but the menu is always the same!]" but I am as of yet unconvinced that these crap-ass fill-in-the-bubble tests, or 'click here' tests, are anything different than an automated weeding out process in lieu of an actual interview. In thirty years, or less, dear god I hope, when I conduct new-student applications, perhaps I will be corrected. In the meantime, if someone reads this and finds my assessment to be absolute malarky, please say so. Otherwise, I will continue to spout off and be generally cranky.

If nothing else, it might make me stick out more than my fellow applicants, who would likely spend their time more wisely explaining their 'test taking shortcomings', than my aggressive "GRE Blows" approach. Perhaps I am experiencing a bitter moment in my preparation for the test, forgive me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An exciting day to be my pet

Something happened to me today which has never, ever happened to me before, and which I doubt will ever, ever happen to me again--

I walked out of the vet's office and only paid $20, which was my bill in full.
I really needed a vet visit where they gave me good news (last time, we had to put a kitty down), and this was it--although the dog's teeth are indeed chipped, no root canal or extraction is required. Perhaps, the vet kindly suggested, he shouldn't be chewing on any more rocks. Cinder blocks, we corrected. He had been chewing on cinder blocks.

Nonetheless, the vet's advice was duly noted.

Here's the old man (though he looks quite perky in this picture!):

In other news, the cat dragged something in today--more specifically, something attached itself to the cat. I don't know where she found this thing...

Didja get a good look at it? Try this one:

That's right! It's a praying mantis! As far as the cat was concerned, however, it was a shishkabob attached to her face...

Animal matters

Something happened to me today which has never, ever happened to me before, and which I doubt will ever, ever happen to me again--

I walked out of the vet's office and only paid $20, which was my bill in full.

I really needed a vet visit where they gave me good news, and this was it--although the dog's teeth are indeed chipped, no root canal or extraction is required. But perhaps, the vet kindly suggested, he shouldn't be chewing on any more rocks, or cinder blocks.

Duly noted.

He got a bath today n everything--so he wasn't so greasy so as to slip out of the leash. He's been known ta try it. Nope, now he's a lil too dry skinded for my comfort.

Here's the old man (though he looks quite perky in this picture!):

Monday, May 26, 2008

May is a long month for an academic

I don't really feel 'out of the woods' until June comes in. I mean, I only finished up my semester May 2, and still had students portfolios to evaluate and grade for the week after that. Patients at work, when they're scheduling their next appointment, want to comment on how "quickly the month as gone by." I smile politely and nod, thinking to myself how desperately I wish it were June, just to get the end-of-semester cooties out of my head. This month won't end; instead it maliciously holds itself over my head.

I have yet to clean out my office, but that is because I have yet to receive my office assignment for next semester--not to mention my teaching schedule. As a result, I am essentially unemployable. A wonderful opportunity has presented itself, via my father-in-law, to work for a multi-million dollar software company, and yet I am unable to present something as simple as my availability for the fall. Urgh. I worked, at the price of my sanity and nearly my marriage, through the last year of school-in addition to taking classes and being a TA. The office is now paying me back by giving me bullshit hours during which time I train new employees--they have not given me ample time to complete my regularly scheduled duties, and then wonder why certain things aren't getting done. Whats even more frustrating is that there have been two people I poured time and energy into that were then fired shortly therafter ( I swear, its not me!). So now I'm just hoping that I'm not wasting my breath on these young ladies.

In other frustrating news, I joined a student "resistance movement" (for lack of a better term, though I am sure anyone else in the group would be quite mortified if they knew I was using this term) and yet, I feel that it is backsliding. We got some 'attaboys' from various news crews and even some faculty, but where are we now? Last week, when the president (against whom we have organized ourselves) held one of his meetings, I was the only one there out of my entire "resistance movement." wtf? (for lack of a better phrase). I have no intention of backing off; I am perfectly comfortable appraoching these things on my own, but the question remains, where did everyone go?

back to work angst:
The third new employee has a scheduling conflict with her other job that directly affects my life. Because she only knows 1 week ahead of schedule what days she will be available, I only know 1 week ahead of schedule which days I will be training her. long story short-- As a result, I have had to turn down a trip to the grand canyon.


Please forgive my frustrated scrawl. I just feel that I 'm being walked all over and I've worked too hard to deserve this type of treatment! This is summer; this is a time to make plans. And I can't becuase apparently a noobie (newbie?)'s schedule is mor eimportant than mine. Add that together with not knowing my fall schedule, and I feel completely detached from my own life, and absolutely not in control. I am not able to make long term plans or decisions. My brother, the poet, would laugh at how uptight I am...But this is my life! Don't I have a right to know when I can pencil myself in?

Friday, May 23, 2008


OK but now let me tell you about last night's hilarity. My Roadie and I get together for a beer. I gotta just call it as it is, girl--we were not in our normal charismatic partnering last night, let's face it. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but that's just it--reading. When we're not in class together, and don't see each other for a week its like, conversation peters out. Am I wrong? Our friendship is founded on nerd-dom.When we begin discussing literary tropes in our newfound book group, things will swing right back to normal.

Two eligible bachelor-types sit down at the bar. One discusses the Spurs wtih the Roadie(I stand by, clueless:). The other smells like cigarettes and, from the way he talked to me, apparently thought he was cooler than me. He contributed a few titles to my list of books I wanted to read, and thought he was really cool in doing so. I thought he was pretty unoriginal to boast about how much Hunter S. Thompson and Vonnegut he's read. Yay. He's so suave, in fact, that he's got a Thompson quote tattooed on his calf. He lifts up his pantleg so I can admire his ink. And there, in lovely black letters, was the quote:

When the going gets wierd, the wierd turn pro.

Take another look if you have to, folks, and then begin to laugh uncontrollably at this idgit. That's one hell of a fuck-up, and that ain't no Sharpie . Not one but TWO mispellings in permanent, deeper-than-skin tattoo ink.
*for those of you who still haven't gotten it, "wierd" is spelled "weird." Now, go check your tattoos.

In my woozy mind, I considered my options--smile and let him continue to think that he's cooler than me, or break it to him gently and smash his bravado. obviously, i chose the latter, though I'm not sure I was incredibly tactful. I prefaced my observation with, "I'm only telling you this because there's no chance of us ever sleeping together"
Dont ask me where it came from. He was aghast, and offended at my assumption (but that's what I do, when a guy at a bar strikes up conversation. I'm either really paranoid, or absolutely right)--but didn't really even have time to reflect on it in his horrifying realization that it was, indeed, mispelt.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

The many faces of Beeyotch
While the days of rigorous and unforgiving deadlines is temporarily over for me, I am nonetheless swamped and pulled in 15 different directions at any given time. I've certainly learned to be a smooth 'time' operator. Let me walk you through the many facets of myself that I manifested today.

I woke up as extremely thirsty, fairly groggy, and mildly hung over Beeyotch. This is commonplace.

I was "Aunt" Beeyotch for a little while, mid morning, while I enjoyed the company of my beautiful niece, Rosie. Her parents were there, too, but I'm not their aunt. Besides, she's cuter--Here's from yesterday, when I was "photographer Beeyotch":
(disclaimer-my digi's not working really well right now, so these are a disposable...I guess a bad photographer blames her camera...)

Then I was New patient Beeyotch at my new doc's office, and I got a shot in the hiney that will [hopefully] make me sneeze less, or stop waking up from inability to breathe. Right now I still feel slightly sniffly and, what's worse, I feel like someone punched me in the ass. We'll see, I guess. We'll see.

Now its time for Work Beeyotch-you know, in the scrubs, darting about from room to room doing patient therapies, figuring out patient statements and giving my boss the ol stinkeye when he starts taking too long telling jokes (the same jokes every time, mind you. I can recite them).

I transformed from work Beeyotch to Resistance movement Beeyotch (I'd forgotten to note but there is a shoe change accompanying each of these dimensions. For this occassion, I went with fur n' sequins. I brought beer, which may have offended some, but after all these crazy changes through space and time, I needed a constant (nods to LOST fans out there) and BEER IS MY CONSTANT.
After some beer-mongering and opinion-mongering, I took off the shoes and went barefoot to transition into DanceCompany Beeyotch (with toes freshly painted for tomorrow's performance). [I was a little bit late, but I find this is true to form for extra-curricular Beeyotchs, such as DanceCompany Beeyotch and Resistance movement Beeyotch. My latest theory is that because money dictates my life, if I'm not paying to be there, or being paid to be there, I'm not so pressed about it. I'll get there. New Patient Beeyotch and WorkBeeyotch are 98% on time]. Rehearsal was a nice way to wind down the evening, and get my blood going a bit. New Patient Beeyotch learned that she officially weighs more than she ever has in her life to date, and wonders vaguely, looking at her gardetto's and beer...what ought to be done.

Wifey Beeyotch landed the role of the final home stretch towards bedtime. Pink fuzzy socks wtih a pink dingleberry are warmin my feet. I even made dinner (I know, after all this!:) and will begin folding laundry once this blog is finished. Then I will become She Who loves Dr. Who in the comfort and privacy of the living room at yeah-those clothes hampers make me HOT.

I guess that's a poor note to end on, but its a reality, one I live quite frequently. When my superhero hours are over, I'm just Floyd’s number one gal, and that's a great thought to end the day with.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I am in over my head

I volunteered to be on a committee I have no business being on. But dammit, no one is listening to the faculty here, let alone the students...and I guess I just want to get in on the action. They probably want nothing to do with me. I have Arts & Science cooties.

In other news, I am drafting a letter to my representatives in Congress about the budget cuts to higher education that so many of the big wigs at the last meeting were complaining about. I am, admittedly, rather in the dark about these matters. I have preferred my life in a box, until, perhaps too late, my little cardboard home was shaken by big scary outside forces. Now I want to voice my opinion and I don't mess around with the footsoldiers. I go to the big big general-managers-in-the-sky, and start my foot-stamping there. But--what do I say? Please stop cutting off the money supply to my, I want to sound elegant and educated, not whiny. urgh. Is there a Government-policy-for-dummies out there? It's all written in hieroglyphic lawyer speak--only less interesting. I've got to get my foot in the door, somewhere, and thats the easy part. The part I'm worried about is saying something halfway intelligent once I've got everyone's attention.

It's been a long time

I love hearing the spray of rain coming off of cars going by. It is 3 pm. I spent the last hour in a rose-scented bubblebath reading She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel. I usually am only able to spend 15-20 minutes, tops, in the bathtub. But today there was a wonderfully good read in front of me, perfectly temperate water, the sound of rushing rain outside and, most importantly, nothing to do. I turned in my student grades today, picked up my graded final exam and came home. There's dishes in the sink that need done, and folded laundry to put away--there's always stuff that needs doing, but gone is the intense urgency that accompanies *everything* during the school year. I don't know yet what classes I'm teaching next semester, though I assume some form of Comp II and a Comp one section. I'll get to revising my syllabi once I know. I have two more days off of work, during which time I will spend my hours similar to how I did today--at my own slow, distracted pace. Distracted because I am inevitably high strung and feel as though I need to be doing something at all times, but slow because another part of me knows it will get done. This is the first time in months I've managed to simply read a book and lose all track of time in doing so. I'd forgotten this feeling. This is why I majored in English. I sat on the porch and chainsmoked late at night trying to figure out what to do with my life--go into physical therapy, move overseas...and finally it occurred to me that the only thing I've ever done that was worth a damn is read, and sometimes write, so why not give English a shot? Two years later with a 4.0 and a chip on my shoulder to match it, I think I made the right decision. What I'd lost during that time was the ability to lose myself in reading, as opposed to grinding out major literary themes and tropes. Granted, all that is lovely, but sometimes I want to read about a girl growing up in Mooreland, Indiana, watching her Mom defeat the patriarchal system on her own terms.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My fingernails are growing back

The semester is over! Aside from posting my own student's grades, I am finished until August--a surreal thought, particularly because last year I went through the summer (bad idea). I'm waiting to post my grades because two students have not turned in their final portfolio. There's a mean part of me (that is becoming more developed as I grow a thicker teaching skin) that wants to just flunk 'em, nuff said. However, since they have to upload it to some silly "academic myspace" type website, I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that they are merely having some technical troubles. I attempted to post some things on there to prove it was easy, and found myself surprised at the inadequacy of the site. Nonetheless, the department and university encourage us to use it, and since it means I'm not bogged down by 25 3-ring binder/folders, I typically use it for the final portfolio.

I have a lot of thinking to do over the break. I plan on reading numerous syllabi and blogs to try and figure out a more effective system. The first year is harrowing, and yet I feel I have developed immensely as a person and as a student (as a teacher, well I'm not so sure just yet!). I am very bad at facilitating discussion, and that comes from my own insecurity with my opinions. We'll get there. But for the more bureaucratic issues, such as whether or not to accept late papers. It is difficult for me to keep track of who turned in what, and when--not to mention the crunch it puts on my grading time. Part of me thinks, be human, people make mistakes. Part of me says, get with the program. These kids are typically first or second semester college students, still pretty wide-eyed at the world that just opened up in front of them. Anywho, that's just one problem, I have many more revisions to make, even just to my teaching philosophy. Maybe I'll put it up here, and see what people think.