Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Stuff your message of love up the end of their guns

At work, the Maddening Angel got very angry at me. I was being petty and resentful and I said something for which I'm ashamed enough that I won't record it here. Basically, she was complaining about being sleepy a lot lately and I posited a reason why that might have been. She told me she was sick of my pattern of passive-aggressive judgemental comments, and that I wasn't a friend if she couldn't share certain things without me judging her.

She's right, she's right. I know that intellectually. But how I am and what I feel in my heart is hard to control. I am resentful and bitter and angry. Against all logic and reason, I feel insulted that she isn't attracted to me. People can't help who they're attracted to. I have no reason to take it personally, much less act like a passive-agressive little weasel, but I do.


I met T, my science partner, at State School. We walked to "the Pub" and she ordered food. Oh snap! Suddenly we realized that we had to turn in typed page or two about the news item along with our presentation! (Why hadn't either of us thought to look at the assignment rubric in advance?) We hastened to the library and, to use T's verb, "bullshitted" a quick page and a quarter.

The presentation went fine, and our only point deduction was in fact for the paper, which, since T wrote about half of it, contained a typo or two and a few awkward bits of grammar. Oh, T's quite bright and she writes fine, but... my writing is better, that's all.

In class, we spent a lot of time walking around the perimeter of the classroom holding styrofoam balls up to a lamp in the middle of the room. Yes, we were simulating the phases of the moon. Many, many people did not get it. Then Ms. C drew a concept map for the phases of the moon. Many people did not get that either.


As I get to know T, it seems she's in some ways like MA --- a lot of guy friends, free and easy with the hugs, just generally relating to people in a friendly, close way. (A fellow classmate asked where we met, and said she asked because we seemed "so close." We barely know each other!)

Note to self: do not fool yourself into thinking you have a special bond with T or that T and you are even very close friends. You are not. You are one of T's many, many acquaintances. That is all.

[I need to stop getting intrigued by these women with relaxed attitudes to affection, lots of guy friends, and tattoos on their lower back. I mean, not to indulge in gross stereotypes or anything, but they seem to be the kind that like my intellect, humor and personality, but are diametrically opposed to my social and relational values.]

Ram wants to be just my friend. MA likes me as a friend and nothing else. The other day T said "I like you a lot, Chance, and I'm not just saying that because I have two drinks in me" --- but she meant she likes me as a friend. Hell, even the goddam Ex wants to be my friend now. I'm not saying that I resent all this platonic attention from cute girls, but I do kinda wish I was physically attractive. Being a friendly, funny guy only does so much for your self esteem.

Monday, January 30, 2006

That razor sadness that only gets worse

Yesterday, Maddening Angel did not return my call, and when I texted her to see if she was ignoring me, she responded very grumpily. Our days of being close as siblings are over. At work, we get along fine, but we never call each other any more. And when she goes out, it's with other people, most irritatingly Ex-Boyfriend B, the guy ten years her senior who does coke recreationally. I'm sad about this. There is nothing special or remarkable or interesting about this guy. Why does he get to have gone out with her? Why would she sleep with him on the second date? Why are they still friends? Obviously, I'm jealous and resentful and bitter, even if at this point MA is rather distasteful to me due to her lack of social standards.


Class today was Reading I. We talked more about balanced instruction, and the need for kids to be read to, to be read with, and to read by themselves every day. We discussed the importance of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension and vocabulary. I gleaned a couple of useful classroom tips. One, ask the kids to come up with likely words on the book's theme before reading it aloud. Make a list. Then, as you read the book, the kids can react (with a thumbs up, for example) if the words they chose come up, creating a more active participation in the literacy. The other tip is that if a child finds five words on a single page that he can't read easily, he probably needs to read a book one level lower.

Here's an interesting statistic: reading skill levels stay the same from kindergarten to 4th grade in about 85% of cases. If you read poorly or well in kindergarten, chances are very good you will read that way for at least your entire elementary education.


I drove the the Hangout on my way home and gave the three posters I did to the Friar. The lead singer of the band I did them for was there and he said he liked them. Plus, it seems I'm to be paid pretty well, and there's even talk (though I remain hugely skeptical) of art shows and sales of the original. The Friar is really trying to help me out in many ways; I'm very grateful to him.

I would be extremely happy with my life right now if only there wasn't this gaping social hole in it.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Vocabulaire: tirer la chasse

tirer la chasse (d'eau) - to flush the toilet
Si vous ne tirez pas la chasse d'eau chaque fois, vous empesterez la salle de bain !

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Always Remember

I added comics blogger Dorian to my sidebar. His was the very first comics blog I discovered and remains a favorite. Above is my contribution to his Meme Despite Itself, which has become The Meme That Would Not Die.

Today, I went to my favorite comic shop and bought a few things. Now, two of my New Year's resolutions were to cut back on buying CDs and graphic novels. It's not like I was going into debt mainlining comics or anything, but I always think stepping back and counseling moderation to oneself is a good idea. As January ends, I can say that I have bought zero CDs, and spent (until today) only fifteen bucks on three quality graphic novels. Today, I bought a few gifts for the daughter of Joy, my former co-worker, whose birthday party I went to later. For myself, I got two massive hardback volumes of the Complete Strangers In Paradise collections (never read this before; I hear enough good and bad that I'm intrigued, and anyway I'm a sucker for these relationship dramas) and two hardcover volumes of The Towers of Bois-Maury by Belgian artist Hermann. All four set me back a mere $20 in total. Now that's a sale!


I have started work on the Friar's band posters. I'm liking the result, although I'm well aware of my limitations as a simple (and honestly, not exceptionally talented) pen-and-ink artist with a rough, cartoony style. It feels very good to be creating again, to be engaged in an artistic activity. I was so fired up, I drove with the posters to the Hangout --- where I met Friar, Anacreon and his wife and some girl Friar knows from out of town --- and showed them to him. I also called Spookytooth, and she came out, so we played a round of video bowling and talked a bit. She and Friar independently have been telling me how great teachers in the Catholic diocese have it, with high pay, great benefits, vacation and short hours. Not to mention a lot of help in the classroom, more respect, high academic standards, and they may even help pay for certification. To hell with the Job; I'm going to ask these two to use every connection they have to get me in there.

Johnny walker wisdom running high

Work was unremarkable. Came home, had a nap. Missed two calls from Spookytooth, who said she was feeling "lonely and unattractive." A few days ago, she had sex with a man she's been friends with for a while and she feels weird about it. I wish I didn't know that.

I declined Friar's invitation to dinner with him, Palfrey, 74 and Zaftig, as (again) I am not comfortable being the only singleton among couples. Instead I ate at my parents' house. I did meet Friar at the Hangout later. Some boring cover bands were playing. I drove Mr. Hangout, the owner, home, in his car. Very large car. It's a V-8; nice acceleration. He's a nice guy. He asked if I had broken up with "my girlfriend," by which, I realized a second later, he meant the Maddening Angel. (We haven't gone out much lately, and not to the Hangout in a while.) Yet another person who assumed what seemed obvious between us to everyone but her. I just said yes instead of explaining.

Friar and I then stopped by MA's birthday party after all. She was very very drunk. I gave her a gift card and a homemade birthday card. I drove us back to the Hangout, where we closed it out playing video bowling. (We're so well known, we can stay long after all the dumb college kid customers have been kicked out.)

Friday, January 27, 2006

All these double knit strangers with recycled stories

Went to work a bit late, as I overslept. This is the result of being a bit depressed over Ram. At work, the Maddening Angel told me her party would be at (one of her many, many) ex-boyfriend's house rather than her own, for a variety of reasons. I told her I couldn't possibly go in that case, and she got pretty mad.

I went to Classroom Management. We broke into two large groups to present Competency Six to one another. I tried to be funny but also knowledgeable and competent. I always straddle a line between charming and annoying.

Afterward, I went to the Hangout. The Friar gave me an assignment for a band poster. I had texted T and told her I was going, and she showed up. Then a psychotic ex-boyfriend of hers came by and acted bizarre and violent and she had to leave. I also talked to W, one of T's fellow waitresses at TriviaBar and a Hangout regular. Lord, that girl is a mess. She has horrible self-esteem, drinks way too much, and basically hates her life. I just wanted to pour her into my car and take her home and put her to bed. It sure made my self-pity seems small in comparison.

I was out till 2:00 a.m., even though I work at 9 a.m. tomorrow. Hell, I had fun. I'd do it again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I'm an innocent victim of a blinded alley

Well, I was going to post about how stupid some of my classmates are (stymied by elementary math problems), but after I got home, Ram and I had a long, awkward conversation about how she no longer feels the way about me as she did before the break. I had long since surmised that already, but as always, having the cold reality of the situation handed to you is a bit jarring. She said, "I still want a relationship with you, but I don't think that it would ever be a romantic one." Yes, she said "relationship" rather than "friendship," but the meaning seems pretty clear. I've never been as rejected in such quantity as I have these last ten months or so. Thank God for Prozac! I joke, but I am sad and a bit bitter. This wouldn't be such a big deal if she hadn't acted so, so into me back in November. Cripes, why can't people know what they want?

So we talked as friends for a while, and she works out in Loserville all weekend starting tomorrow, so there's no chance at all of us hanging out this weekend, and... Well, I implied on the phone that I was willing to hang out with Ram as friends, but I'm not sure if that's true. I have friends I hardly speak to. I don't really need another pal. I'm in my mid-thirties, for God's sake. What I want is a serious romantic relationship. So, unfortunately, I think that Ram is now truly and finally out of the Chance saga.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

With his cheeks in a chunk and his cheese in his cash

I went to work, came home, had a quick nap, ate a little bit of cheese and ham, then went to State School around 5:00 p.m. to meet T at the library. We chose a science-related article from the news for our report (an interesting thing about ants teaching other ants how to find food). That done, we hung out for a while before class. She showed me where to get a campus ID, so I got one (now I can see movies at a discount!). Then we went to a place called "The Pub," a hangout that, while physically resembling a pub in its use of wood and glass, actually serves only coffee and tea. Since T works at a bar, she found this very amusing. I got passion iced tea, a drink that I remarked was extremely homosexual. She thought this was amusing as well, which gives her bonus points in my book. Then we went to class, Science Methods.

Class consisted mostly of small groups practicing various science processes at five stations. We observed a lot. We inferred the hell out of an old log. We measured the bejeezus out of a dripping faucet. We classified the shit out of a rock collection. And so on.

After class, I called the Friar and met him at the Hangout. We played some gender-based trivia game with two of the waitresses there. I'm afraid that, although we did triumph a few times, they beat us more often than not. The place got very crowded with University kids, so we went to that burger place he loves so much and got cheese fries and chicken strips. And ranch dipping sauce. How fattening and sodium-laden. It was deliciously disgusting. The Friar talked to me a bit about hiring me to do some artwork for his label. I could do that.

T and I played phone tag for a bit, to see if she'd come to the Hangout too, but she chose another place and I went home, slightly tipsy and bloated from fatty carbs.

Monday, January 23, 2006

People talk of situations, read books, repeat quotations

In Reading I, we talked about the three major predictors of K-2 children learning (or not learning) to read. The three most important, according to decades of research, are:

* Letter name knowledge (both upper and lower case, with automaticity)
* Phonemic awareness (recognition and segmentation ability of sounds)
* Understanding of print concepts (that writing is left to right, top to bottom, that letters make up words, and words have meanings, etc)

Less important are other factors listed, including: hours of TV watched, kindergarten teachers' prediction or expectation, education of parents, history of preschool, gender and handedness, recognition of word meanings, amount that parents read to child, and verbal intelligence.

I call bullshit on this list. It seems to me that most of these factors are interrelated, and how researchers could factor out to the point of disregarding some of them is beyond me. For example, aren't those three main factors above a result of having a high verbal intelligence? Isn't that itself influenced by the amount of TV a child watches, whether she has gone to preschool, and how many books she is read to at home? And, I pointed out in class (though I think it's an unpopular position) isn't parental education level itself an overarching factor, as it often dictates how literate an environment the child is exposed to, the quality of their preschool education, and so on? I just don't see how these factors can be separated as in a vacuum. I understand that some children are dyslexic, and no matter what environmental factors they're exposed to, those three main predictors can still be missing. But aren't educators just avoiding an obvious and unpleasant idea when they won't admit that those three main predictors are a result of not being exposed to literacy at home and in preschool?

We also discussed the idea that "reading should permeate the day." That is, that literacy should be an environment, not a subject. Counting books can be read before a math lesson, books about animals or trees before a science project. Students should always have books within reach for free time or after seatwork is completed. Most of the students agreed with this, saying that in real life, reading is in fact everywhere and that artifically categorizing the day into "reading" and "non-reading" is counterproductive, though there was one woman (who hopes to teach only science) who insisted that "science time is for science, and the kids need a break from reading sometime."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Review of Marvel Team-Up

Marvel Team-Up: The Golden Child
Marvel Team-Up: Master Of the Ring
by Robert Kirkman, Scott Kolins, et. al.

I bought the first volume to this series a while back, loved it, and recently got the second. There has been no reduction in the quality of this book. This series is Kirkman's love letter to the Marvel Universe, and it's a funny valentine indeed. I'm not much of a Marvel fan, but no comic book in recent memory has given me so much pure Big Dumb Fanboy Pleasure than these collections. The plot threads actually are suspenseful and interesting, but it's the little vignettes and touches of humor that make this series truly great escapist fun.

Savor the moments:
* Dr. Strange muses on dark forces moving in the universe and gravely intones, "Wong, more tea!"
* Punisher meets Blade, they have a Mexican standoff, Blade lowers his weapon and turns away... and the Punisher shoots him in the back.
* Spiderman says that riding with Moon Knight is thrilling, "like riding with Batman or something."
* The titular Golden Boy always teleports away from danger --- into more danger. (The visuals are highly amusing.)
* The Punisher saves the world by brutally shooting a guy.
* Sleepwalker being dispelled as he goes to fight evil because his host body is snoring.

And the cameos! My God, the cameos! Wendigo, Nova, Stilt Man, Black Cat... even that weird-looking bulb-headed old mailman the Fantastic Four used to have. Kirkman's writing is a roller coaster trip --- dizzingly weird scenarious, Grant Morrisonesque day-saving by heroes with a "been there, done that" panache, and disarmingly absurd bits of silliness. Perfect characterizations, as well; Kirkman knows his Marvel universe. Spiderman's beleaguered, witty banter is perfect, as is Wolverine's surly, aggressive manner and Captain America's pained nobility.

The art, especially Kolins' work, matches Kirkman's apt characterizations --- everyone looks different, the builds are heroic but not freakish, and Wolverine remains the right size throughout!

I keep these two graphic novels on my shelf proudly next to Supreme Power, Morrison's New X-Men, and Miller's Daredevil.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Looking for the heart of Saturday night

A lazy Saturday. Despite A. E. Houseman's chastisements, I got up past 9, the sun already streaming down into my face. I watched some of "The Shield" with my father and then walked Dog.

Maddening Angel called. We were going to go hiking, but because she was doing some artifical tan thing where she can't sweat (ugh), we had lunch and then saw the Judy Dench and Bob Hoskins movie Mrs. Henderson Presents. Very good. The truly aggrieved yet still friendly bickering between the two leads, who were not romantically involved, reminded me a lot of MA and myself. There's a lot of tension between us, but it's forgotten quickly.

The Friar called to invite me to dinner with him, his wife Palfrey, Anacreon and his wife M, but I bowed out: who wants to be to be the fifth wheel? I later joined him for a drink at The Hangout, which was packed with college kids. One of the Friar's bands were playing. The Friar has been a very good friend to me these past months; I can't say he's helped me exactly, through no fault of his own but instead due entirely to the depth of my particular psychological afflictions, but I do appreciate that he's been kicking my ass mentally, telling me to shape up, telling me to get over MA and that she's not worth being with me, urging me to draw more, to start being creative in general again, and basically to feel better about myself. I am --- the Prozac is helping --- but it's hard when I can see for myself on a daily basis that I'm hardly what women typically find attractive.

Tomorrow I need to get working on school stuff. I have a few things due starting Monday.

Friday, January 20, 2006

You won't take my love for tender

My stovetop exploded in a shower of sparks today. I was boiling spaghetti when the range coil fused with the pot, gashing and twisting the coil, blowing a hole in the bottom of the pot, and sprinkling bits of metal over the nice bowl of salmon alfredo I'd prepared so lovingly and left on the counter. The resulting hole in the pot then caused the water to fall out onto the red-hot coil, and a small fire quickly both started and was put out. Kitchen drama!

My Prozac really must be working now. Relations with the Maddening Angel are polite to friendly, but nowhere near the previous level of deep, siblingesque friendship they were back in October or so. Today, after her shift ended, she called to ask me to eat something before she had to be at a party somewhere, but I had just eaten. I said that I'd go with her and just be company, but she said no, she was going to eat with someone else. See, a few weeks ago, maybe even last week, that would have had me indignant and resentful and severely depressed --- crying, raging, the whole works. Now, even though the Friar called off a dinner tonight and I'm doing nothing on a Friday night, I feel only mildly self-pitying. Ah, Prozac. Ask for it by name at your local high school parking lot.

Oh, and last night, Ram texted me. I hadn't contacted her since Sunday. (Although it's common currency that girls like attention, I have actually found that many respond better to being left alone; is this the case?) So we had a text chat, she suggested dinner "some time," and I told her how crowded my schedule was but that I'd try. As a follow-up, I called her this morning, and she texted back, for once. Ram's a weird one. She said some extremely affectionate things to me last month, implying that she was strongly interested in being a part of my life, then basically ignored me for a month. I like her a lot, but have only feeble hopes for this to turn into a Thing: too much baggage on both ends, maybe.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

My dreams are made of iron and steel

I'm feeling better about work now that I leave at 2:00 daily. I'm much more relaxed. Our theme has been Art, and there's been a lot of great learning and exploration. Today the kids cut and glued a construction-paper copy of Matisse's Icarus. I told them the story of the mythological Icarus, and they had some amazingly insightful things to say about the piece after they heard it. For example, some thought the black figure was falling, some thought he was swimming (and the yellow bursts were fish). One girl said that the red dot was where the sun had burned him, and a boy said that it was a Band-Aid his father had put on him after the sun hurt him! These kids are goddam geniuses, I tells ya.

I went home and took a nap (which seems to have become a habit lately --- I must need the sleep). Then I drove up to State School a few hours early. There was a mandatory meeting for this semester's 20 hours of field experience. Since I'm taking Classroom Management with Ms. P, who is a principal at H elementary, I've been assigned to that school. Apparently Ms. P likes to keep a tight rein on her students. (This makes it pretty much a given that I'm going to go to Ms. P's stupid Parents' Night Out in February, where she has her students come take care of the kids at her school for "three extra points," even though I chafe at being dragooned into unpaid volunteer work.)

Class was pretty good. We watched a Harry Wong video --- he's a cornball, but I must admit he's got some good things to say. We also went over SBEC (Texas' State Board for Educator Certification) competency five; it deals with an effective classroom and a safe physical environment. It was time well spent; Ms. P may be a cross between a control freak and a flake, but she seems to know her business (helping us to pass the EC-4 PPR test, mostly) and she's fun.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I'll keep chasing the soles of your shoes

Yesterday at work, relations with MA a bit strained. Today, after a few of my terse, one-word answers, she got mad. I defused the situation a bit with humor (I don't want to lose her as a friend), but my feelings do remain hurt. I'll get over it. She called a couple of times after my shift; I missed the first call, didn't take the second.

I think the Prozac is kicking in. Not only am I less depressed about being alone (I just find myself... indifferent), but little situations at work no longer anger me as much as they used to.

In Math Concepts, we did an exercise where we were supposed to find the triangle that held the least. To my shock, many of my college-age classmates, preparing to be teachers, honestly had no idea how to find the area of a triangle! Many of them simply counted the squares defined by the shapes (they were on grid paper), or even cut them out to see which was bigger. Now, I understand that some of them may have been trying to emulate how a small child would approach the problem, but several of them --- the girl I was paired with, for one --- sincerely had no idea how to do such a simple operation. I am amazed. We spent the majority of the class learning the 14 problem types of Cognitively Guided Instruction.

Oh, and Ms. H. also treated us to some "thinking outside the box" problems (she did last class, too, but I forgot them). Here's one: a man afraid to come home, and another man is wearing a mask. I thought one student's idea that there was a fumigator at the first man's house was quite ingenious, but the "real" answer is [highlight to reveal] that they're playing baseball.

Here's another: a man left for a four-day trip. He was gone a total of four days. He left on Friday and returned on Friday. How can this be? This one is tough; the answer is: he rode on a horse named Friday.


After class, I drove to the Hangout and joined the Friar and L. I meant to stay for just one drink, but some CPA guy we met insisted on buying us a round, and then the three of us tried to hit the #1 spot on every video trivia category (a feat we failed at in only one category, "Weird 'n' Wild"). While there, I called MA and left a message. I want to dial down my enthusiam for her, but I don't want to be a prick about it, either.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oh to be 33 forever

Today's class was Science Methods. Ms. C, ever the hardnose, kept us until 10:00 p.m., 15 minutes later than class is supposed to end. We took a two-question quiz and then there were two "science in the news" presentations (I'm paired with a pretty girl called T, whom I actually know from the Triviabar where she's a waitress --- we're doing ours two weeks from now). We then did an interesting excerise where we paired up, put a long string with loops on each end on our wrists like handcuffs, with each person's string overlapping so we were tied together. No one could figure out how to get free, though Ms. C swears there's an easy way to do it. Then the class split into four groups and did brief lesson plan presentations. Our group did a bit on how air takes up space, and performed the old "upside down cup under water stays dry" trick to demonstrate. I got 5 out of 5 on last week's discussion question. That is all. Lifted weights, made lunch for tomorrow, watched some of Fantastic Four (it's fun!), bed.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King Day

Happy MLK Day! Let us remember to be just and loving and kind to all our fellow humans. (I do try...) I'm not going to do a special MLK entry, but Meghan at I'm ablogging did a very nice post that juxtaposes the good doctor's words with some relevant pictures. It says everything I would and more.

Because there were so few kids at school today (yes, we were open!), I went home early. Actually, I came in an hour late. I was so depressed last night that I pretty much planned to sleep in. Anyway, I stayed for about an hour, leaving hours before the Maddening Angel's shift starts. She didn't call me from work, which means she knows that a big part of the reason I left is that I'm avoiding her. It's a blow to the ego to realize that the "special bond" you thought you had isn't really all that special at all. And her silly excuses about us not dating because of work or the age gap are just insulting my intelligence.

And of course Ram never called back, so that's another blow to the esteem.

I started doing some school work at last, reading in my science book and completing a short writing assignment: my science autobiography (my experience with learning science in the classroom). My science background is sparse at best.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

More depressed than ever

Woke up too late for church. No big deal, maybe next week. This Prozac really makes me drowsy.

I called Spookytooth and talked to her for half an hour, making up for the avoidance yesterday I suppose. It's unfortunate, but she's boring; otherwise I'd be more inclined to hang out with her.

Sap I am, I also called Ram again. No answer, of course. I am very much afraid that Spookytooth : Chance : : Chance : Ram. I will not contact her again.

The Maddening Angel is not only going to a basketball game with her ex tomorrow, she's watching TV with him tonight. When I asked her about it, she got very mad. We got into a bit of a fight about it. I feel lonely and sad, and angry at MA for hanging out with such an asshole and occasionally sleeping with him.

Very very depressed.


Went to 74 and Zaftig's house. Cooed at the baby, played a card game called Corsairs with 74. Met up with Friar briefly at the Hangout. Called MA again, had purging, friendly sort of conversation. Explained why I was obsessing about her and Asshole: that once she was over him, maybe we could explore feelings we may have for each other. "Oh, honey, we can't date," was her response. Because of work, age, etc., she went on to say --- but it's really because she doesn't find me attractive at all. I said I know we can't date, but wasn't it true that she had sent me signals saying she was interested? Then came those words that all males so love to hear: "No, I'm sorry if I gave you that impression, but..."

So apparently all I've ever meant to her is a friend. According to her, she's never been anything but just-friendly with me. Just good friends. She said she's a theater drama kind of person, and cuddly by nature. I know that, I've seen her with other friends, she hugs a lot, but... She sleeps arm in arm on the couch wearing just a bra with her pals? She calls her buddies at 2:45 in the morning to come be with her because she had a nightmare? She cancels not one but two actual dates to hang out with a friend? That's just friends?

K didn't think so. Friar didn't think so. Even Ram didn't think so. Everyone at work thought we were dating just from our banter. Everyone who sees us together immediately assumes we're dating. But it's just friends.

That's how it is, and I feel like the biggest goddam fool I've ever felt like in my entire life. How can I possibly face her at work tomorrow?

And back again to the despair

One thing I forgot when I got that uplift of spirits from K yesterday: she makes shit up all the time. (And apparently, she has a prediliction for stirring shit up, especially when it comes to the Maddening Angel --- something I've noticed first hand. I mean, I'm crazed with jealousy, but what's her beef with MA's social life?) So actually, MA may not have ever thought of me as a potential date.

Got two calls from Spookytooth. Didn't answer, didn't call back. Gripped with remorse and the sinking feeling that the way I feel about Spookytooth just might be the same way Ram now feels about me: kinda nice and all, but a little weird and certainly not somebody you want to hang out with if something else is shaking.

I hung out with MA in the evening, did a few errands with her, then we watched Demme's remake of The Manchurian Candidate. I tried to put my arm around her and got rebuffed ("you're messing up my hair!"). Affectionate interplay between us much less than usual. She's going to see a basketball game with her dickhead ex-boyfriend tomorrow. (That's not just the jealousy talking; he really is a prime asshole.) It seems that even if I was originally "a potential suitor," I'm now not. This afternoon we talked on the phone a bit, and I don't know how it came up, but we got to talking about how we used to hang out a lot more. She said, "Well, obviously, at this point, you and I could never date." I said, "Why?" She was surprised by the question. She said, "Well, we work together, and we're best friends now, and you got mad at me for dating someone younger than you, and... Argh! Why are you crazy?" All possible legitimate reasons, all possible ways of politely avoiding the fact that she's not attracted to me, all possible ways of masking her feelings for me if any. I wish things didn't have to be so complicated. I was thinking more about that asking her out in February thing, but after tonight I'm not so sure.

So yeah, for a few hours I got to hang out with and sit next to a cute girl who's my good friend, which is more than a lot of lonely people do. But like I've said before, it's the going back home to a house with only Dog in it that makes it all the more depressing.

Karmic payback is a bitch.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Feeling a bit happier

Off work at 2:00 p.m. as usual, but no night classes to go to! Friday rocks! I went home and took a nap! Whoo!

Ram called me back and left a message. I'm a sap, but it made me happy.

The Maddening Angel and I made plans to see a movie at the theater but instead, it being a full moon and Friday the 13th, I rented some scary movies. We watched The Shining at her place with K. Actually, since we'd all seen it a few times, we didn't watch it so much as talk through it ("How old do you think Jack is in this?" "Shelley Duvall isn't very good looking, but she's also a bad actress." "Do yoo have the shinnin', boy?" "Don't you mean the shining?" "Quiet! D'ye want t'get sued?") We ate pizza and drank a bit and had fun, and watched some TV at K's place.

Then K and I went to Donleavy's and had a drink. Some of her law school friends were there. She told me --- and this was complete news to me --- that when she first met me, MA asked her what she thought of me because "she saw you as a potential suitor."



Gee, if I'd known that then, maybe I'd have been more up front with her about my feelings. But then, she also wasn't over the ex-boyfriend then, anyway. And maybe she decided that I wasn't suitor material after all. (There were more than a few mixed messages from the very start of our relationship.) And maybe it would have ended badly because she's such a social butterfly. I'll never know, will I? The point is that I ought to be honest in everything, not to feign an indifference I don't truly feel in order to protect my pride or whatever. That is in fact one of my New Year's resolutions, and it's why I've been so blantant about calling Ram and telling her that I'm interested in seeing her again.

I have the germ of an idea that when my divorce is final I may ask MA out. But will I? Time will tell.

Classroom Management

The fourth and last class of the week is taught by Ms. P. It is Classroom Management, and it requires 20 more hours of public school observation. Ms. P is a principal somewhere in DISD, and seems a bit of a flake (she entered the room with a bright, "Hi, guys!"). We spent the majority of the class playing an inane game where we described ourselves and named everyone else in the room. Then we went over the syllabus. I'm reserving judgement on the class for now. Might be fun; hopefully not a waste of time.

After class I joined the Friar at the Hangout. Then we went elsewhere to see Sonar play. I called the Maddening Angel and she came by with one of her few female friends, stayed for a drink, then left. I was pissy. I can't help it --- I'm consumed with jealousy and resentment. Perhaps I should stop hanging out with her at all.

Inspired by the Flaming Lips song "Fight Test," I called Ram and left a message basically saying that I was calling her even though she never called me back. No reply, of course. Pathetic? Or touching in that Hollywood ending kind of way?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Math methods for teachers

Wednesday's class is Math Methods. It is taught by Ms. H, who has been a math teacher for many years. It looks to be a fairly interesting class, a moderate amount of work and some interesting approaches discussed. We spent much of the class working on presenting a lesson about averages. Ms. H tried to demonstrate the conceptual approach rather than a simple procedural understanding (add together and divide by the number). So we broke out the blocks and made little charts with them and did examples of finding averages with them. In the end, I wasn't sure that I had gained too much of an understanding. To me, the "add together and divide" approach is the quickest and easiest. I also think the concrete, visual, manipulative approach is slightly disingenuous in the case of the average, because the average isn't really there. It's just an idea that best expresses the totality of a group of numbers. When you do an abstract mental operation and find that the average of a group of numbers is five, you then have an idea about them as a group, but you haven't done anything with them. When you rearrange four dissimilar piles of blocks to get five each, it seems to me somehow that you've done something besides find the average. Anyway, I didn't leave the class feeling like it will be a waste of time.

This is the first class this semester that I am not the only male in. (Heck, if I wasn't so physically and personally unappealing, I'd be fighting off the ladies!) I'm seeing a lot of the old faces from American Public School (but not, unfortunately, Ram --- we don't have any classes together).

I remain quite depressed. No one calls me or returns my calls. [Well, let me amend that. The Friar invited me out to the Hangout, but I didn't get the message until too late for me to go out. I guess I'm complaining that Ram doesn't return my calls.]

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Science methods for teachers

After work, I drove home and just relaxed for a while until time to go to State School.

Tuesday's class is Science Methods, and this teacher, Ms. C, means business. There was no reading of the syllabus here. Instead, we were kept busy the whole two hours, 45 minutes. "Never expect to leave here before 9:45," she told us. We did a collaborative experiment with an incomplete puzzle (scientists need to observe from data and draw conclusions, but never have the whole picture); we did an experiment to see how many drops of water can fit on a penny (we got to 33; cohesion makes the water heap up surprisingly high); we drew "a scientist" (guessing that the activity was about preconceptions, I drew a woman); and we talked about the various assignments that were due. We have something big due almost every week, and there will be a quiz every class period.

Now, the activities above may sound childish, and I guess they are. But this isn't a class on scientific principles or facts, remember --- it's a class on how to teach science to elementary children. And the way that we did the penny experiment was a very good one; there was no talk of cohesion or surface tension until after the experiment, once we'd seen those things in play first hand. That's a good way to reach kids.


I talked to the Maddening Angel; she had seen a movie (with a guy, I have no doubt) and sounded quite tipsy. She hung up, practically asleep, after three sentences; she may even have had someone with her. I don't know. (I can't help thinking that I was with her as she dropped off tipsily when her old boyfriend called.)

I also talked to Ram. Friendly enough, though she once again asked me to call back after class and when I did, did not answer. To me, this equals "take it down a notch, Chance," though it might just mean "I like you, but I'm kind of a flake."

Monday, January 09, 2006

Spring 2006 semester begins!

Today was the first day of my new part-time status at the Job. I left at the mercifully early hour of 2:00 p.m. and drove straight to State School.

(But not before trying, one more time, to unburden myself of my feelings to the Maddening Angel. She still didn't get it --- "Are you saying you're a better friend than I am?" Either I am speaking in the most abstruse, convoluted manner imaginable, or she is being deliberately obtuse. "I think you're being deliberately obtuse," I said. "No, you're confusing," she said. But either way, I did feel a tiny bit better after saying some of the things that have been running through my mind all weekend. Ye gods, but she's a gorgeous, spectacular, funny, ditzy girl. Sigh.)

Anyway, I bought books for my four classes --- to the ridiculously inflated tune of $400 --- and then found the building where today's class is. Then I waited around for another three hours. I guess I could have gone home first. I'll be doing that from now on.

The class, Reading I, is taught by Ms. W (coincidentally, the daughter of Mr. A). We spent one soul-stultifying hour going over the syllabus page by page (surely we could simply read it at home, at our leisure?) and then class was dismissed. A rousing start!

Oh, and I called Ram now that she's back in town and she called me back. We talked a very brief time. I feel this road ends in Friendship Town rather than Dateland. Or, more likely, to Strangerville, since she did not return, as she said she would, my later call (which she requested). This bugs me no end.

I started taking Prozac today.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Our light affliction, which is but for a moment

As the post title attests, I went to church today for the first time in no little while. I chose to go to the more informal, rockin' service rather than the main chapel service, even though the pastor there is phenomenal. I didn't want to go to Communion, and the sermon title, "Renewing relationships," didn't seem like what I was looking for.

Instead I heard a sermon from Young Pastor about resurrection and reincarnation. It was odd to hear words like "karma," "moksha" and "nirvana" from the mouth of a protestant pastor. He also mentioned the Rapture Ready site (they're scare-tactic Christians). I guess the end was a bit uplifting, where he talked about death being hopeful and galvanizing us into life, and eternity in Paradise after.

I just wish I could believe that. I wish I could have faith in that. But I find myself just as swayed by the principles of The Diceman --- either something will happen or it won't, so why not be at peace with yourself in the meantime? I wish I could agree that God's love is all you need, but right now I need human connections.

Being at church, hearing the Christian band rockin' out, I got very weepy. I didn't exactly break down or anything, but I was close to tears. It was nothing spiritual --- I just felt very alone all of a sudden. Maybe church reminded me of the Ex, since we joined the church together.


Lunch with Father and his AA buddy Potato at a pizza place. Also, tonight is trivia night at TriviaBar. (We won.) The Friar and 74 showed up for a while, a fleeting bit of jocularity in an otherwise unrelentingly bleak day. Absolutely no call or message from MA, until she finally called me back at 1:30 a.m. saying she just got my messages.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

I'm the biggest one

Songs of me this moment

The Hold Steady - "Stevie Nix"
Old 97's - "Valentine"
They Might Be Giants - "The Biggest One"

I feel like nineteen kinds of idiot for flouncing out of that party last night, but I couldn't take it a second longer. Just as I was storming out, K was calling out my name. I called her from the car and apologized for not turning around, that I didn't mean to insult her. "You just wanted to make a dramatic statement for the Maddening Angel, huh?" she said. Yeah. Little idiot that I am.

MA said while I was trying to state how I felt and not really being clear that I was being "womanly," and she was right. I was vacillating and backtracking and being oblique. I'm usually a very guy kind of guy. Jesus, maybe I really am love sick. (Literally --- I don't feel well.)

Plagued by bad dreams and fitful sleep all night, naturally, though some small comfort came in the morning. My dreams turned positive. MA was telling me to just "be more attractive." To be confident and funny, as I know I can be, which makes up for a lot of my deficiencies. I also dreamed that we were lying together on her couch, and I put my arm around her and my hand on her shoulder. In the dream she said, "Oh, just go for it" --- meaning I should touch her breast. (Oh, it's an internal dialogue I've had with myself a few times.) Now, there's no reason to think that this is something that the real MA would say or feel. But it is my brain telling me to snap out of it and not be such a wimp.


I read the autobiographical graphic novel David Chelsea In Love with great interest, as it seems to mirror a few of my own mixed-up desires and frustrations in my life right now. It's drawn with great skill --- Chelsea's use of pacing, unusual panel sequence, and variety of styles gives the book a visual appeal. But the story gave me pause. The entire book is about Chelsea's on-again, off-again romance with Minnie, whom he seems to think of as his soul mate. But there's very little in the book to explain the appeal for Chelsea. What is it about her that makes her special? More disturbing for me is that, especially at the end, Chelsea seems to think that he has set up a dichotomy: Minnie is promiscuous and flighty, he is solid and reliable. But Chelsea has sex with, or lusts after, every single woman in the story that isn't his sister. He also doesn't care in the least if the women are involved with anyone else at the time. So it's hard for me as a reader to connect with him: from reading the story, all I get is that Minnie was just another girl for him, albeit one that was a bit harder to pin down than the rest.

I guess I really am the only one who values one-on-one, monogamous relationships.


Later I went to the Hangout. The Friar was there and a band of minor repute was playing. I texted the MA but got no response, so went home. Once there, she called back --- she was barhopping with a date or a group of guys --- but I had left already.

Here are some strong questions for myself: do I really love her, or am I in love with the idea of her loving me? Even if she were willing to date me, could I trust her (given what I know of how she's treated relationships in the past)? Fuck, I dunno.

Glutton for punishment

For some fucking reason I agreed to go out to eat with the Maddening Angel and her fucking friend from 9th grade that wants to date her. Either out of her ADHD or genuine naivité, she didn't seem to have grasped the gist of the conversation we'd had about my feelings with her, so I was forced to say it again in a desperate, truncated talk in her car in the parking lot. "I am jealous of all your friends." "But you're not jealous when I spend time with a girl, like K." "No. Get it?" "No... What are you saying? You want to find a girl?" Maybe she wanted me to come right out and say it, maybe she just wanted to avoid it; either way I failed and did not say that I wanted to date her myself. (Because, let's face it, do I? It's well established that she has no concept of fidelity or consistency. I just want her to be with me all the time. Is that so much to ask?)

Came home, walked the Dog, lifted weights, met the Friar and his boss C at the Hangout. Then, much against my better judgement, I went to MA's apartment where she was having a party. After the 15th fratboy, oafish-looking guy walked in carrying beer, I snapped, hugged her goodbye rather roughly, and tore out of there like some stupid creep in a snit. What a ludicrous picture I must have made. But Christ, I didn't want to stick around there with all her ex-boyfriends and fuckbuddies and guys she's made out with (all of them that she'd met, I'm safe in assuming) and guys she will make out with (the one's she hadn't met yet). The only person there I had any interest in talking to was her, and she doesn't want to be with me the way I want to be with her. I cried driving home.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

No repercussions for my hubris!

Well, apparently my acting like a prick (though I don't remember the particulars, I take the Friar's word for it) last night had no ill effects. The Maddening Angel came into work friendly as ever, sharing her raisin bread and acting as if she hadn't peeled off in a rage leaving me standing by the curb drunk last night. (And, apparently, earlier in the evening she hit me in the gut full force, she told me, though I have no recollection whatever of such a thing.) She ended up going to couple of bars that night and hanging out with a couple of her hundred or so male friends.

After work, I went over to her house and we watched my DVD of Dodgeball and drank wine. She got a little tipsy. She leaned on my shoulder like old times and when the movie was over claimed drunken sleepiness and went to bed. It was barely 9:00 p.m. This, of course, is extremely unlike her --- is it a measure of my madness that I suspect that after I left she got back up and went out with J, her ex-boyfriend's supposed "best friend" whom she had that sordid adventure with? (And whom I suspect her of sleeping with.) She kept looking at the clock while we watched the movie as if she had to be somewhere, so...

I don't know. I do know that if that is the case, it would be touching as hell. For her to go through such a charade just to spare my feelings would be very impressive.

I wished she had asked me to stay, though. Maybe if we'd both drunk more. If only Dodgeball were a longer movie...


Next week, class starts again at State School. I will then work half time and take --- gulp --- four classes, one every evening 7-9:45 p.m. Monday to Thursday. It's gonna be a full semester.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Digging deeper holes for the future

I went out with the Maddening Angel and K to TriviaBar after work. She had a date lined up with yet another guy, this one a guy she's known since 9th grade. Christ, it's one after the other with not a single fucking day between the guys for her! I flipped out and in her car I told her I was jealous of everyone and everything that took her away from time with me and she still didn't get it or perhaps was just being as polite as she could and said that I needed to find someone. I was angry and distraught and she cancelled her fucking date to come be with me and K and Friar at the Hangout and yet I still got uptight and acted like a prick and she drove off pissed probably back to her date and I fucked everything up. The Friar said I need to get her out of my system "because she's twelve." (She's 22, but yes, she does seem like a kid to us oldsters.) Also K shared some of her opinions on MA and how she's kind of a dope when it comes to dating and relations. I don't care, and I know we'd make a horrible couple and she'd break my heart and she doesn't understand social relations but I can't help it and I'm fucked.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Monogamy, polyga-you

I was wrong about the reasons for the Maddening Angel's vacation, but the real events are even more sordid. Since this blog is my story and not hers, I'll elide over the details, but note only that the recounting of the story has led to a major detumescence of my heart when it comes to her. No longer, I think, can I find her quite as appealing as before. Now, I knew that this was a girl capable of dating and making out with Guy One, having regular sex but no affection with Guy Two (her ex-boyfriend), and asking out Guys Three to N without qualms. But this story, with its secrecy and infidelity and casual attitudes toward pretty much every aspect of human relationships, put me off. And while she isn't sleeping with everything with two legs, her ideas of sexual relations are very alien to mine. There is now definitely something about her that frankly, sadly, disgusts me, even as I do love and pity her.

I called the Ex to discuss these issues, and she told me she met and had sex with a guy at a New Year's party. Fucking great. She also suggested that, since I'm apparently unlike the rest of humanity in actually expecting sex to be a one partner at a time deal, I should go to the singles group at Church. Do you know, I'm actually considering it.

After work, I went to MA's house to watch two episodes of "Scrubs," our favorite show. It was fun enough, but the playful affection we've shared before when hanging out was conspicuous in its absence tonight, a fact which can be chalked up to any number of factors, including the medicine MA had or had not taken. I left and joined the Friar at the Hangout, and got a peaceful buzz on.

In non-relationship news, I added to my weights, so that the dumbbell is now 53 pounds and the long barbell is 73 pounds. Also, the Job continues to bore me completely.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Lachrymose lamentations

If it's true that what you do on New Year's Day will determine the template for your entire year, I'm going to be a bored, pathetic guy mooning over women who aren't interested in me throughout 2006. Because that's what 1/1/06 what pretty much all about. Oh, and Boggle.

Today I went to the Used Bookstore. It took way too long, but I got three graphic novels --- Bone: Rock Jaw, Enigma and an autobiographical B&W indie book, David Chelsea In Love. A steal at $15 for the lot.

I finished reading the latest Flashman Book, Flashman On the March. The weakest in the series, I'm afraid.

Spookytooth called; the Friar kept to himself; and I talked briefly to the Ex.

The Maddening Angel texted me, a terse message saying only "Out of town. Talk to you tomorrow." Which I'm assuming means that Boyfriend is back and he's taken her out of town so they can go at it like stoats in peace. As I said to MA on New Year's Eve, "When your boyfriend comes back, you and I won't hang out as much anymore." She said that he wasn't her boyfriend (but he is), and that it wasn't true (but it is). Fuckin' pedophile bastard (he's 11 years older than her --- as am I, the fuckin' hypocritical bastard). She's said she might show him the door because he's taken to calling himself her boyfriend and assuming more than MA likes. I told her that she was very loveable and that she shouldn't penalize people for wanting to stick with a good thing when they find it. Gads, but I'm noble.

This has been one of the most depressing days for me in a while. I've literally upset my stomach from jealousy, loneliness and resentment. MA is certainly extremely fond of me and loves me like a brother; the problem is that I love her like a sister that I'm secretly attracted to and want all to myself.

(And it wouldn't bother me quite so much if we hadn't already gotten so close, spending so much time together. We used to see each other after work every day. We'd call several times a day. Her calling at 2:45 in the morning was not unusual. Weekends, we'd hang out. Why were we so seemingly inseperable and then suddenly less close? [I think it was the sleeping and napping side-by-side on her couch that one weekend back in November that made her step back.] Better never to have loved at all than to have loved and lost.)


Oh, I know no one's satisfied with their position and their place. Zaftig told me some of her problems on new Year's Eve; the Friar probably deep down feels himself to be a failure; my father was a brilliant Oxford scholarship student with huge potential and now is living in very straitened circumstances in Texas with no glory to his name, Spookytooth has cancer and a kid with health problems, the Maddening Angel is pretty much insane, her friend K drinks herself to oblivion out of loneliness and depression... And so much deeper misfortune abounds, as well, from young kids getting their limbs blown off in Iraq to families losing their children to murder.

But I still feel sorry for myself.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Yesterday, the 31st, I woke up around 11 a.m. or so. I went to Border's and, with the last of my Christmas gift card money, bought the last album of 2005, Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards' Viking.

(The gift card was a present from co-worker Spookytooth, who has recently quit or been fired, depending on who you talk to. Spookytooth is a complex issue herself --- it seems somewhat apparent that she has set her cap for me, or at least wouldn't mind hanging out with me a lot. The problem is that she has a kid, more or less lives with her estranged husband [because of health problems, he won't leave her], I don't find her in the least attractive, and most important of all, I find her a little bit boring. She called to invite me to some New Year's thing, but like an asshole I ducked the call and didn't return it. Karma will bite me in the ass, I know --- the lonely nerd ducking the lonelier nerdier person --- but I actually do intend to spend some time with her in the future. Just not New Year's Eve.)

Anyway, I called the Friar and planned to meet for lunch. As I drove to the dive (the Friar has very lowbrow taste), the Maddening Angel called me and I invited her along. So the three of us ate lunch. The Friar gave me a Best of 2005 CD mix he'd made.

In the evening, I dropped by Aunt's house and tried to invite Cousin and his (oh so smokin') girlfriend to the soirée at 74 and his wife Zaftig's house. Smokin' girlfriend, being a bright and cheery person, was willing, but the protopathic Cousin claimed he'd rather stay at his mother's house and mingle with the Walking Dead of Haut Society, because last time he was at 74's house, "it wasn't very fun, and they're all smarty-pants." Meaning my friends and I discuss issues with mental content... Cousin doesn't like reading or learning. Oh well.

So I cruised on to 74's house. Their baby was awake and being very colicky. Still cute, though. The Friar didn't make it, but Muffin, her husband, and Anacreon and his wife were there. We just sat around drinking wine and talking.

Maddening Angel did not stop by. She stayed with her friend (a guy, of course --- she's one of those girls who has a vast number of guy friends) at a venue where they were putting on some Pink Floyd-themed show. She called a couple of times, and I offered to pick her up and take her home around 1:30, but she seemed intent on having her other friend take her home. God, I'm jealous of everything and everyone around MA if it's not me. (At Auric's show on the 30th, I found myself needing to come between MA and an arrogant friend of the Friar's whom I have a mild dislike for.) It's unhealthy and wrong, but what can I do? I can't stop the dog from barking up the tree, even if it's the wrong one. I think about her constantly, and vacillate between kindly, fraternal, protective feelings and unrequited, frustrated romantic interest. Ugh.

Speaking of relationship drama, I called or text messaged nearly everyone on my phone to say Happy New Year. On that list was Ram, a girl with whom I'd had a couple of dates and a real spark of mutual attraction back in Novemeber. Now she's with her parents in some small town, and has for many weeks ignored my more and more infrequent calls and messages. Yet last night, she immediately replied to my text, repeating good wishes and adding, "I miss you." As if we'd been talking all this time. All my friends think Ram is bad news. She's clearly got some social life down there in Grapefruit Moon Junction that she doesn't want me interfacing with. She says she's just busy, and I'm sure she is, but no one is too busy to reply to a text message or call back at the end of the night if only to say "I'm exhausted, thanks for calling, good night." I got nothing, total radio silence. Yet when she was in town with me, she acted very interested, asking things like whether my family would like her, and demonstrating affection as well. So there's some story here I'm missing, but frankly the lonely nerd Chance is finding himself not caring too much. If when she gets back in town, Ram's still into dating me, I'll almost certainly be there with bells on.

Meanwhile, I got Jonathan Richman on the stereo, and he's telling me that "to win in love, you must surrender." Easier said than done, Jo-Jo!


Later addendum: Karma from ducking Spookytooth indeed hits, as day ends with no call from anyone, let alone the Maddening Angel. Depressed to tears. Went and ate ice cream and played Boggle with Aunt, Cousin B and smokin' girlfriend.