Saturday, February 21, 2009

Signs, Signals & Clues You Can Use

I spent most of last week trying to figure out how far behind I actually am. After analyzing the situation (now doesn’t that sound intellectual?), I decided I’m so far behind that if I were any further behind and in a race, I could probably fool myself into believing that I’m actually ahead because I can’t see anyone or anything in front of me.

Now, after re-reading that passage, I’m beginning to wonder if that made any sense to anyone but me. Just in case it didn’t, suffice it to say if I were in the “Amazing Race,” I’d be on my way home as a big fat loser.

I can only hope this week starts out better than the last one ended. This time I’m going to pay more attention to all those little warning signs that don’t bode well for a hap-hap-happy week.

Richie’s Clues You Can Use
That Signal

It’s Never A Good Sign When…

•You hear your sports editors on deadline quietly whispering in the corner. Although you hope they’re discussing batting averages, time stops when you hear them say, “Do you think we talked to the right person? Look at her picture. Is that the person we talked to? Is it?”

•A yearbook staffer turns in her two pages and says, “It’s done… well, except for that group picture that goes here… oh, and that quote that goes right there… and, uh, I still have to find out who that person is in that picture…and uh…”

•Your newspaper editor starts to begin all her sentences with either “We need to talk…” or “I think I’m going to kill somebody…”

•You check your phone messages and not one of them are from Oprah’s people wanting you to appear on her show, but all of them are from mad moms in various stages of distress who can’t believe the deadline to buy yearbooks has passed. And, YES, the deadline applies to them. And, NO, there aren’t any exceptions. And, YES, you understand how important it is. And, NO, you still can’t make an exception. And, YES, your name really is Richtsmeier not Witchmeyer or any variation thereof.

•Your business manager texts you asking, “Did you forget to give me that money or did I lose it?”

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Air Travel, Taking Things Personally & A Free Pass

Sunday found me sitting on the tarmac at DFW airport waiting for an open gate, so our plane could taxi up and belch us out. I was returning from one of those re-occurring taking-care-of-family-stuff-trips and was just a smidge worried about my upcoming newspaper deadline, my yearbook pages still unsent, my purchase orders still undone and the topic of my blog post still undecided.

Jeez Louise, no wonder I stay so stressed.

I don’t know why I worried so. I should have learned by now that airports, airplanes and air travel in general provides as much fodder as a classroom filled with teenagers (although I find the teenage kind more amusing and their behavior more acceptable).

OK, so I’m squished into the middle seat way, way (did I say way?) in the back of a very, very full plane, and the woman next to me whips out her cell phone and starts gushing to someone about this fabulous book she’s been reading. (And sorry, Mr. Teacher, it’s not yours.)

The conversation went something like this…

“Blah, blah, blah, we’re the director, producer of our own lives…blah, blah, blah… we shouldn’t take things personally…blah…blah…blah…If someone points a gun to your head, don’t take it personally…”

I almost fell out of my seat (since I had illegally unbuckled my belt).

“Are you kidding me!” I almost screamed. “You better start taking things personally if someone has a frigging gun to your head! Are you a big, fat…”

(No, I didn’t say any of it although the bubble in my head was in overdrive.)

I realize I’m probably the only person on the planet who hadn’t heard of this little book, Four Agreements, until now. Guess I missed that episode of Oprah, but Holy, Moley Crack Fire, don’t ya think there are some things out there that one should just, well, I don’t know, take personally? You know, things like guns…pointing…at your head? (And, pah-leese, I don’t care if it was a metaphor. And, yes, I’m sure there’s probably much more to it than this little snippet.)

Still, all of that got me to thinking, and we all know what happens when that happens. I figured if guns pointing at one’s head shouldn’t be taken personally, well then, there’s lots of other things not to take personally… My short list included things like grades, yearbook pages, budget money, deadlines of any kind, eating mass quantities of anything, being late for anything, everything in the Things-That-Will-Get-You-Fired-Folder… me saying someone is dumber than a bag of cat hair…and so forth and so on…

You see, it sort of gives everyone a free pass, doesn’t it? Kind of like that get-out-of-jail-free card we love so much.

So I guess the next time a kid complains about his grade, I’ll just say, “Hey, don’t take it so personally.”

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

YB Disasters, Smackdown Meltdown & Goat Heads

I tried to tell my yearbook staff that it’s just never a good sign when your adviser has to make a folder that says, “YB Disasters & Other Emergencies.” (BTW, that YB stands for Yearbook for those of you not in the biz.)

About half of the YB staffers looked at me with those deer-in-the-headlight-kind-of-eyes. The other half, well, they just pretended to ignore me. (OK OK OK, so perhaps they weren’t pretending.) Nonetheless, now I have a folder with huge blue let
ters that says “YB Disasters & Other Emergencies,” and no amount of Emergency Chocolate is going to make me feel any better about that. (I know because my yearbook editor and I ate an entire chocolate bar that was even emblazoned with the words EMERGENCY CHOCOLATE.)

I’m not very happy about that either.
That as in the fact that the tasty chocolate bar is now gone, and that as in the fact that the disasters remain. Now I won’t bore you with all the details because, after all, my parents taught me if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all. But let’s just say the root of my angst starts with a photography company. And let’s just say that right about now, all across this great land of ours, I can hear advisers--the short, the fat, the tall--all shouting, “Amen, sister!”

Despite my new not-so-nifty folder, the absence of my cute little Emergency Chocolate Bar and an overwhelming urge to join the WWE to smackdown a few somebodies, three rather amusing things did happen this week. Let’s call them…

Richie’s 3 Amusing Incidents
That Stopped Her Smackdown Meltdown

Incident #1…While all the haranguing was going on with the yearbook staff, one of the new tech guys was in the room busily uploading some new software and trying to make himself invisible. I can’t remember exactly what transpired, but it was typical deadline stuff--bantering back and forth, fingerpointing and blah blah blah I’m-more-stressed-than-you blah blah blah you-stress-me-out blah blah blah.

That’s when the new tech guy piped in, “I’m getting stressed just standing here…”

We all stopped quicker than an InDesign program crashing, just looked at him and laughed.

Obviously, he never experienced a newspaper or yearbook deadline.

Incident #2…I was duly performing my hall duty between classes with my hall monitoring compadres when one of my students ran up to us and asked, “Can I go the restroom?”

“Go ahead,” I answered.

“What did she say?” he asked my hall monitoring compadre.

“Hey, she didn’t call you a Goat Head! She said, ‘Go Ahead,’” my compadre answered.

Incident #3…I’ve decided to try a bit of yoga, so I asked Mikey the extraordinaire to please look in the library for some yoga DVDs for me. The next day, Mikey duly reported his findings…

“Ahhhhhh, Ms. Richtsmeier…” he stammered, “I was, ah, looking for those, you know, yoga DVDs…”

“Yeah,” I said, “did you find any?”

“Well, we have a problem… one has been out a while and is probably lost…” he said, sounding just a tad bit uncomfortable.

“Problem? As in what?” I asked.

“Well, the only other one, was… Well, it was called, ‘Big Yoga,’ and I went to look at it, and it said it was for people who were afraid to try yoga because of their size and age… and I, well, I didn’t want you to think that I…that we… think you’re old… or fat… or nothin’…because it was a yoga DVD for old, fat women…really we don’t think you’re fat…so I…ah…didn’t get it because, you know, you’re not old… or fat… or…”

Great, I thought.

I just ate a gajillion calorie chocolate bar.

I turn 52 this month.

Maybe I should goat head go ahead and get that Big Yoga DVD after all.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Carnival of Education

The 209th Carnival of Education is up and running over at Steve Spangler’s site. You know, he’s the science guy. So bop over there to check out all the fun stuff going on in the EduSphere. He’s got a nifty Science Fair theme going, so you’re guaranteed to find something that pique’s your interest. My post “Whining, Voting and Blogger Awards” was included, but remember you don’t have to go there to read it here. But Jeez Louise, I sure hope you go there because you sure don’t want to be a Know-Nothing-Ninny.