Vomit and Grapes

It’s been quite the week. My three youngest kids were home sick Monday and Tuesday, went to school Wednesday, then the youngest two started vomiting again Wednesday evening and one of them ended up staying home yesterday, causing me to use a sick day. They all seem fine now … but I think I’m coming down with another cold. Damn weather! It goes from 40 degrees one day to 80 the next, then back into the 30s. Someday I’ll find a way to turn snot into energy and my nose will end America’s dependence on Muslim oil.

Speaking of vomit (and yes, I was), going back to the late 1980s I had this perfect name for a metal band: Toxic Vomit. The other day I heard that name used on one of those horrible Disney Channel shows my kids watch. I remember back in the day when "The Wonderful World of Disney" was a Sunday evening staple and I would watch every second I could before my dad would force us all into the car to go to his Pentecostal church. Now the name Disney only conjures images of dumb blonde singer/actresses, inane cartoons and, worst of all, "The Suite Life of Zak and Cody." Has there ever been a worse show than that one? You can smell the stale jokes coming minutes before they’re delivered and those kids’ acting abilities are only a hair better than little wooden Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker.

Grapes. Only a few of my AP students are where they should be in reading The Grapes of Wrath. They tell me I have no concept of what it means to have a life. They say this during the bountiful time I actually give them to read during class … time they do not use to read what I’ve assigned. I’ve given up trying to motivate them. Benchmarks are next week. This time I’m not pulling punches. They are getting a real AP multiple choice test, plus an essay where they can only succeed if they’ve finished Grapes and The Great Gatsby. When they fail I’ll have them removed from AP and they will not get to graduate with AP honors. I hate to do it because I really do like the kids, but this is supposed to be a college level class and it is nowhere near that right now.

It appears we’ll be moving from the block schedule to a seven-hour day next school year. This has caused controversy. First, because the district superintendent had already decided to do it before calling for a vote of the faculty. When the vote was split almost 50/50 a meeting was called so he could explain why the seven-period day is better. I really don’t care either way, but it stinks that the issue was already decided before we were asked to spend our time and energy in not one, but two bullshit polls. Made me wonder if we were going to adopt the hammer and sickle as the school flag.

One of our really good students interviewed me today for the Newsroom 101 program The Oklahoman newspaper does every year. Since I used to work for the paper, she thought I’d be a good candidate. I was honest with her in every question she asked. I’m sure the people at the paper won’t like what I had to say. It’s funny, though, to think back to the year 2000 and how, if the paper had agreed to pay me another $25 per week, for a meager total of about $26,000 per year, I’d have stayed on as the Enid bureau chief and a page 2 columnist and my life would be completely different now. "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood …"

While we were home yesterday I showed my youngest daughter (age 8) the movie Old Yeller. She’s a real animal lover and eats up animal movies. She loved this one, which made me very proud. And ol’ Bubba got some special treatment after the movie. While watching the movie I was struck by how much of the language of the story and the activities of Arliss were part of my own childhood, but aren’t any more. Old Yeller was one of those books I was lucky enough to own as a child and I read it over and over, along with Where the Red Fern Grows, Summer of the Monkeys and a few others. Life sure was simple back then.

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