Archive for June 2013
Faithful Readers and Others:
I wrote recently about winning The New Yorker’s cartoon caption contest. Therein, I spoke of some of the quirks of the contest–mostly about the contestants who are hellbent on winning the thing and some philosophies they have been developed in their pursuit. There seems to be some cultural cachet attached to the contest since winners are contributing to the unique and respected brand of humor The New Yorker espouses. Some independent filmmakers have found The New Yorker brand of humor intriguing enough as a cultural phenomenon to make it the basis of a documentary. I was contacted by them earlier this week in an attempt to politely bring my attention to the existence of the film, but probably to also ask for any kind of financial support without really asking for financial support. Turns out they have a drive going on Kickstarter, and they still have a week to meet their goal. I told them I’d promote their cause here since I had already written about my involvement with The New Yorker and the contest and could easily post a follow-up.
So check out their campaign, and take in what I thought to be a pretty darn good (and long!) trailer for their documentary. Also, if you scroll down you can read about the filmmakers inspiration for their work. I can only hope that the caption contest is part of the piece in some way since that was where their whole idea started.
P.S. If you want some further insights into the caption contest and its winners, check out Amazon. This link is for but one in what is a looooong series of books about the cartoons and the contest. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they keep cranking them out in the next few years and my six words will some day be included.
School is out. That’s not only good news for students–teachers are looking forward to the break every bit as much. Regardless of how great my school year has gone (and I’ve had some remarkable ones), I’ve never not wanted summer break to arrive post haste.
Two rumors persist about teachers on summer break. One is that we get paid over the summer even though we’re not working. I’m still stunned to hear people beef about how they can’t believe teachers get away with that and that there ought to be a law… It’s simple, really, and there is no cause for a rational person to cry foul. My contract mandates that I work 180 days. If I choose to have my pay split 22 times, then I get larger paychecks but no summer pay. If I choose to have my pay split 26 times, then I get smaller paychecks that stretch through the summer. Guess which one I choose? Right. And guess what else? It actually benefits the district because they can continue to draw interest from the money set aside by me stretching my pay over the summer.
Besides, I don’t need to get a summer job. I’ve always managed my finances well enough to get by, the same as most anybody else in most any other job. Furthermore, I know full well that I would be the worst employee imaginable if I held a summer job. I would call in sick to go to the ballgame. I would skip work on purpose because I don’t feel like going. I would tell customers and coworkers to f-off or whatever– Because I don’t need the job! Plus, there isn’t another job out there that I would respect nearly as much as I do teaching. My heart and soul belong there, and I’m willing to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that come with the territory because of that. I’ve known this since 1996. So do me a favor and don’t expect me to take the lighting fixture aisle at Home Depot or the dining room at the local steakhouse too seriously if you were to expect me to work there. All in all, I like to think this is an implied agreement I have struck with society–I’ll do the teaching, but don’t expect me to do more than that just because people believe that those who can work should work all the time.
The second persistent rumor is much closer to reality than the summer pay myth, and it is that teachers live their summers like they are endless parties. I’ve seen enough of this to vouch for it–so there is some truth to that. I’ve even discussed it herein. It is incredibly euphoric to know that you’re free for 80-some days, you’re financially set, and you’re beholden to very few responsibilities. So go hog wild! For some time now, I’ve referred to the whole sensation as “whatever-wherever-whenever-for however long.” Maybe I need to come up with a catchier phrase than that. Regardless, a few days ago I was talking with a long-time coworker and we discussed how important it is that the summer gets off to a flying start. As such, the first few days of my summer include a game of golf, a BBQ, a ball game, a birthday party, a concert… and then things trickle down after that.
Like much of life, all this frivolity and revelry needs to be balanced and disciplined. It can’t be 3 months of Woodstock, regardless of how tempting that is. I actually still teach a little bit during the summer in a local tutoring program so I can keep my mind sharp and help in an area where I am more than able. But elsewhere, I think we teachers like to schedule our dentist and optometrist and chiropractor appointments early in the morning to maintain the rise-and-shine we are accustomed to. I might still find reason to get up early to work out or go somewhere. For every day I do something early in the morning, though, there will be 2-3 days when I wake up and don’t actually get out of bed for 30-40 minutes because I can check email on my phone, read the headlines, or pick up a book I fell asleep reading the night before.
Regardless, the drive to maintain structure and discipline will run out around the first week in August, and then summer will boil down to late nights, sleeping 2am-10am, and naps in the afternoon. Then I’ll be clamoring for the structure and discipline of the school year, and then I’ll be clamoring for some vacation time to rest myself from the grind. It’s a vicious cycle. You can’t win, I tell you. You can’t win.