Monday, November 16, 2015

A Visit To High School

On my way out of the house at around 6 AM, I panicked and grabbed several rolls of stickers. High school the first time around was awkward. This time, terrified again, I figured I'd buy my way into everyone's good graces by giving out smiley faces, frogs, and other animals. Because that's what high school is all about--being popular.

Or, in this case, it's about learning how to go to college. My brother teaches at a high school in the Bronx, and I do not. I majored in education for maybe a semester in college before switching to English, realizing that I didn't want to deal with junior high school and high school students or their parents. My brother has been teaching in middle and high school for over a decade, so he's used to it.  I am not.

Also, I'm not used to driving over a toll bridge to go to work. As we made our way from his place in Queens to his job in the Bronx behind large trucks and around double-parked cars, I admitted, Yeah, if I had driven, I'd have pulled over and started crying by now. And this was the easy part.

Meeting his colleagues was fine. Meeting his VP was fine. Meeting the head principal was fine. Even meeting the gym teacher was fine though I do have a lingering humiliation and loathing of the presidential physical fitness test--I mean, who needs to hang from a pull up bar for 20 seconds? Seriously.  And a 20 minute mile really ain't too shabby. Anyway, the phys ed teacher was great along with everyone else I met who work there.

Then there were the students. Terrifying.

No, they were not terrifying.  Aside from honestly not knowing that talking while someone else is talking is actually rude, they were nice. They asked me questions. They played my game of "Pick an index card and read it as if you're a student in my college class, guess what my reaction would be, and then resolve the problem before you'd have to say what's on the card in the first place." My brother said, That's a good idea. We passed around my syllabus. My brother called me mean because I don't accept things without a staple. I said that I do accept them the first time, but by week 11, you should have a stapler or know where one is.

And his students knew that, too. I don't know if they can write full essays, but from their work I saw hanging on the walls courtesy of my brother's decorating the room with their work so they could be proud, they are pretty good writers. They also knew that you shouldn't send an email to a professor that says simply Heyyyyyy. Seriously, they were appalled that I'd once received that email from a student. And during the beginning of that lesson--the do's and don't's of emailing your professor--there was complete silence for a few minutes.

By 10 AM, I was already exhausted. I don't know how these people teach with such a hectic schedule and limited supplies and resources. By 2:30 PM, I don't know how I was functioning, but there was my brother, answering questions and making sure the students stayed until the bell rang.

He went out that night. Like, he went home, changed, and went out. To a concert. With a friend.

I came home. I fell asleep at 7:30 PM. I slept all night through. I am not cut out for high school.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Most Professional Way To React To Free Stuff

So, like, I'm a professional and stuff, which is totally believable because, like, I teach and stuff.  Which is exactly how I must have seemed to the good people at LIU who visited campus to talk to SD and me about our upcoming AA degree in Creative Writing. Because in addition to asking, "And what exactly do you do--do you teach?," I found myself realizing aloud, "Hey, I actually attended your college!" Granted, I'd attended the campus at Southampton, which is now under a different university system, but at the time, it was indeed LIU.

To top it all off, at the end of the meeting, SD is wrapping stuff up all professionally, taking down emails, setting up a plan of action of whose doing what next. And then, pulling off this profession act by scribbling things down next to her, I offer free copies of the literature journal to them, and SD offers copies of the student lit mag.

In turn, they offer us bags.Tote bags emblazoned with their logo. And the bags had things in them. Keychains. A small glass container. Candy inside of the small glass container. But without even knowing they were actually full of stuff, out came the bags and SD and I acted real professional-like.

We squeaked with delight and semi-clapped and gushed about how we love bags.

This is the same reaction we had when we found out we were getting not only free bags but also free ice cream at the FOX summer preview event.Which is exactly what I brought up as SD did damage control, explaining how we simply get excited easily.

Which is what professionals do.  Clearly.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sleepy Hollow's Creepy Stuff

Autumn means Let's go to Sleepy Hollow to learn about Washington Irving! Okay, that's not what autumn means, but that's what I've wanted to do every autumn for as long as I can remember, so this time, I made it come true.  I said to Eddie, Let's go to Sleepy Hollow to learn about Washington Irving! And he was like, I have no idea what you're talking about.  And I was like, There's a haunted house!  And he was like, Yes, let's do this. Because he loves Early American literature as much as I love Early American literature!

So off we went on a Saturday with SMM and AF, driving north, taking in the fall foliage that's so so pretty. I learned the night before that we should leave with plenty of time to spare because Sleepy Hollow was having its annual Halloween parade that day. Why they couldn't have stated that when I was picking a date to buy the tickets, I don't know. We had plenty of time to spare, and that time was used up by rolling along the main street as soon as we exited the parkway for the sleepy little town. Cars and vans and SUVs and minivans and more cars all crawled along street with creepy pillow people stuffed with straw lined the sidewalks tied to trees and poles. Who needs a haunted house when you have child-made creepy-people to creep you out for free?

We made it to the cemetery about 45 minutes before it was set to close. My main goal was to find Washington Irving's grave, but as we drove past, we all came up with a new and more important goal: find the Headless Horseman that Eddie found while we were driving by towards the entrance. We wound up parking on the side of the cemetery that's not used for entertaining folks.  I know, that's kind of creepy and messed up that a cemetery is used for entertainment, but really, it's historical, so it's okay. Plus, they give tours at night by lantern to creep you out even more. We didn't stay for that.

We walked up hills.  We walked down hills.  We walked around and around path after path.  This cemetery is rather large. We then found a crowd and in the middle of the crowd, right by the tent selling beer (in a cemetery) was, indeed, the Headless Horseman.
A traffic sign where we weren't allowed to drive

I was more scared of the horse. Seriously.  I was like, It's moving! And Eddie laughed at me.
We reached the end of the cemetery without finding Irving's grave, but we did find the Old Dutch Church. Then we found the place where Ichabod Crane found the bridge to safety when he was running from the Headless Horseman. THEN we found the sculpture that pays homage to the story. It's amazing what you find when you're looking for something else.

This is apparently my new pose.

Then back into the cemetery we went. Up hills. Down hills.  Paths upon paths.  We wanted to get back to the car and find the exit to get something to eat and hopefully avoid the parade that was causing street closures. Instead, we found Irving's grave!
Finding parking is an acquired skill. I was in the car with three Brooklyn experts. We careened around blocks and blocks of downtown Sleepy Hollow, all the while their eagle eyes darting every which way. Streets were packed. Driving was slow.

Beyonce was here.
Eddie finally snagged a spot after about twenty minutes of nothing being open. We didn't find a place to eat right away, but we did find this.
Then we found a street fair.  I have no idea where the parade went, but the street fair seemed to be part of the celebration.  Along its edge was a long line forming for a hayride. This town was all about Fall.  I had some delicious hot cider. Mmmm, cider.  SMM and AF ate some fried stuff. We took in the Sleepy Hollow brand.
Eventually, we'd walked around enough and figured we may as well head over to Horseman's Hollow in Philipsburg Manor. The rest of the year, this place seems to be a historical, educational venue. During Halloween season, it's terrifying mayhem. We waited for the sun to set, marking the time we'd have to get on line to go into the hollow and possibly not escape.
It doesn't look so bad.
Just a beautiful landscape
Until this happens
We got on line outside in front of the DJ booth covered in skulls.  The DJ was a horned creature.  We were given rules. No eating. No drinking. No smoking. The most important rule, though, was no touching. I suppose that also meant no punching and running in the other direction.
Then it was time. We entered the grounds. Off to the side was some sort of monster just standing there.  Eddie pointed it out.  I said something like, He should stay right over there. And that's what you're not supposed to say because in no time, he was behind us, like right behind us.

I don't like adults in character costumes. I get freaked out at Disney World. I was not a happy camper that time in Hershey Park when the large Hershey Bar came over to say hi. It's just freaky--adults in cartoon heads not talking but hugging and high fiving.  It just ain't right.

So here I was among not only adults in costume but also among adults whose job it was to jump out and scare the shit out of me. I decided the best choice for me was to stare at the ground a lot, loudly say how stupid everything was, and make Eddie go ahead of me every time we went into something new.

The scariest parts were the parts when nothing happened. We were expecting things to happen at every turn, so the anticipation killed me most.

There was a room with all the hanging white sheets. Inside people lurked dressed in all white, blending in.  So they could jump out and hiss and scream. Yeah, that happened. The hissing was sometimes worse than the screaming.

Also happening--a woman following me, whispering right in my ear that she'd smelled me coming. Not fun.

In another room, there were strobe lights and a back up of people in front of us so we got stuck in the strobes with the creepy black and white creepy crawly people getting all up in our faces. This was the main point when I was shouting, This is just so stupid!!! The creepy crawly people stayed in my face, not realizing that my shouting meant, Go away.

AF had it worse than I did because she was a bit more obvious in her not liking anything that was happening, so every single creepy person followed her every single time.  And SMM kept laughing. So did Eddie. Laughing laughing laughing. Because being terrified is fun. Apparently.

And then there was the tent that we had to enter single file. The floor moved. The sides of the tent were huge inflatable thingies.  We were smushed in from both sides. It was pitch black. Then we came out the other side. I don't know who would even think of that.  Stupid stupid stupid.  And very terrifying.

We made it through a bunch more twists like a mini corn maze and Ichabod's School House complete with a soundtrack of children crying--very horrifying. Then we found the Headless Horseman! Again!
We're lucky we found him because the idiot people in front of us were taking pictures with the flash on after being told repeatedly, Do not use your flash. The horse kept getting all freaked out and it walked away into a corner after being really annoyed at the flashes. Seriously, the general public makes me fear for the future.

I survived! Unscathed! It was all quite literary, really, so I'm going to count this trip as professional development.