Tuesday, September 30, 2003


Those are z's.

Because I'm tired. Oh so very tired. I got tired around 9:00 last night. But did I go to bed early? No. I went to a birthday party and had a good time. I left because I was tired. But did I go to bed? No. I talked to Heather. And Sarah. (And had overdue and absolutely delightful conversations.) But then I had to run away in case my dad decided to call back. I'm a jerk. I know. But this would have been phone call number 5 from him this week and I still haven't recovered from phone call number 4. (Or 3, 2 or 1 for that matter.) I came home around 11:30. But did I go to bed? No. I talked to Kat until almost 1am. That was better than sleep anyway. But then I just laid in bed, exhausted. But did I go to sleep? No. NO! Why? I don't know! I don't know why. Why? WHY? My mind just raced around through things I hadn't let myself resolve and poked into things I still didn't want to think about.

I obviously find it necessary to stress over things I can't control. (An annoying and time consuming quirk.) But why must it take up my sleep time? Maybe if I give up, say, my lunch break for unecessary stressing then I can sleep during sleep time. Ooh! And maybe if I'm stressing during my lunch break then I won't eat so much and then I'll be well rested and finally find my girlish figure within.

I like it. I like it a lot.
Baby Liar

Cute little girl comes up to me at recess and sits on the bench with me.
"What's your name?"
"What's yours?"
"Miss Hansen."
"Where do you live?"
"In an apartment."
"Oh, I live in that house on the mountain." She points to the new HUGE house on the mountain. I didn't think it was in our school boundaries.

Some kids come by with a BABY TURANTULA in a jar. Em freaks out. Tells them to go feed it some place else and to do everything necessary to make SURE it stays in the jar!
"You don't like spiders, huh?"
"No, I really don't."
"I don't like people."
"Oh, that's too bad."
"Ya. Because people are mean."
"Why are they mean?"
"Because they make fun of me when I wear my Indian clothes. They're always like, 'It's not Halloween. Why are you wearing a costume?' And I tell them that it's not a costume. And they laugh at me. But I like my Indian clothes. We all get to wear them sometimes."
"Sometimes when people don't understand something they make fun of it. It's not very nice but it happens."
"Do you like Indian clothes?"
"They're pretty. Lots of bright colors."
"I like being Indian."
"Cool. Your parents are from India?"
"NO! Don't you know??"
"I really don't."
"My Dad is dead!!"
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. When did that happen?"
"When I was really small."
"Oh. Well, was your Dad from India?"
"NO! My Dad was from Mexico! He was a Mexican."
"Oh, is your Mom from India?"
"NO! She's from Mexico, too! We're Indian!"
"Oh, what kind of Indian?"
"I don't remember."
"Oh. So your parents were both from Mexico but you're an Indian?"
"Oh! I remember! Navajo! I'm a Navajo Indian!"
"Ya. I just got adopted today."
"You just got adopted today? That's neat. How many brothers and sisters do you have?"
"25? How many are girls?"
"How many are boys?"
"So you have 25 brothers and sisters and 18 of them are girls and 13 of the are boys? Never heard of that before. What are their names?"
She makes up names...

Throughly confused, I talked to another teacher's aide named Sarah...
"Hey, do you know that one girl with the short dark hair and the brown eyes in Mrs. Hannig's class?"
"Ya, but that's not her name."
"It's not?"
"No, that's what she tells everybody her name is. It's really Maria. She's a compulsive liar."
"She's six."
"Ya. Scary."
"But she's six."
"Ya, her teacher told me about her when she caught me calling her Bianca. Her mom should tell her about the little boy who cried wolf."
"Ya, and then get her some serious therapy."

Today at recess "Bianca" comes up to me again...
"Hi, Bianca."
"Hi. My sister is a gymnast."
"Ya. She's actually doing it right now. She's going to be on TV. I'm going to watch her today. If I can find the right channel."
"Cool. So, Bianca, what name do you write on your school papers?"
"When you, say, take a spelling test... what name do you write on top?"
"My sister's."
"Your sister's?"
"Ya, I write my sister's name, Maria. But don't tell."
"My sister's a virgin."
"No, my other one."
"How old is she?"
"Then I'm glad she's a virgin. Who told you she was a virgin?"
"She did."
"Do you know what that word means?"
"No. What does it mean?"
"That's a word you should ask your mom about and not use until you do."

And the bell rang and my baby compulsive liar went back to class...

Sunday, September 28, 2003

P.S. This also means that Em's week of grumpiness and all around brattiness and self-absorption has officially come to an end.
Miracle on Em Street

Today I was miraculously healed. It's true. I've had a wretched headache all week. Yesterday was the worst as I sat in the stake center listening to the Relief Society General Broadcast, holding my head wondering how long it could go on. (My headache, not the broadcast.) It wasn't a migraine. Just one of the worst tension headaches I've ever had. I came home and was a zombie for the rest of the night. BUT when I woke up this morning... it was GONE!!!

No headache! And I don't mean 2% headache either. I mean headache free! NO headache!

So today's a happy day. That's all.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

This Week's Minor Victories

I finally found a group of people who A) have heard the "Gooey Duck" song and B) know who Mr. Yuck is.

I got Aimee to focus on math for almost a full 30 minutes by making up a game.

I went to work every day.

I watched West Side Story for the first time.

The last of the 1,000 cranes were folded.

I survived three phone calls from my parents.

I didn't get a Slurpee tonight.
Date Clips

Justus: Woah! Cool! Look at this thing! I've never seen such a huge and awesome spider before!
Em: (whimpers)
Ann-Marie: Shhh!!! Emily doesn't like spiders!
Justus: I mean, it would be cool if I saw a huge and awesome spider... but I don't... at all... there isn't one here...


Ann-Marie: I'm going to put my socks on this rock. Don't let me forget them.
Em: Okay...


Kent: So, how old are you?
Em: 22.
Kent: Woah!! You're OLD !!!


Kent: It's uh... the uh... the guy who always ends up being the murderer...
Tyler: The butler!!!


Justus: See any crawdads?
Em: I think so! Right there!
Justus: That's a can...


Kent: Oh, man!
Justus: Drop a crawdad?
Kent: Ya, my biggest one.
Lisa: Lou???
Kent: Ya, sorry...
Terrible Tutor

(I can't sleep. And so you get lame stories by Em because she's campy, headachy and bored.)

Same student, another day. This time we were doing a new exercise. I would say a word, she'd delete the beginning sound and say the rest of the word. For example, I'd say "boy" and she'd delete the 'b' sound and say "oy." I'd say "big" and she'd say "ig." I just move down the provided list. The same list they've been using for years.


D'oh! Who was the genius who put gas on this exercise?? We're supposed to be helping them read not helping them to shock the other kids on the playground! What kind of tutor am I having this poor girl say the f-word and now the a-word? I'm gonna get fired...

Thursday, September 25, 2003


In a small reading group of about six kids, the students successfully read the list of nonsense words without a fit. The teacher was pleased and she showered them with praise by shouting, "Excellento! Excellento!" I was a bit embarassed for her. Not only because I knew that excellento meant excellent about as much as asking for a ride-o to the next town-o would get you tire marks on your back, but also because two of the students in that group were from Spanish-speaking homes. They just stared at her as if to expect to see her wearing a dunce cap or clown shoes. Disappointed that neither were present, they went on with their reading.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003


In the first grade today we had three meltdowns. All over a worksheet where they had to write four words. Man, pan, van and can. They didn't want to do the worksheet, they wanted to color. Who could blame them? I'd rather color, too. But even though both the writing and coloring sheets were on the desk, it was time for writing. Not coloring. One child sobbed, "This is stupid!" Another one cried, "But I don't even want to do this!" The third one refused to speak at all, ran out of the classroom and away from the school where a police officer later found him and brought him back.

I felt wretched. Although it wasn't my idea to give them the worksheet, I was the one that had to make sure they did it. I was the unlucky one that had to tell them to push aside their coloring for a minute to write man, pan, van and can. I wanted to let them color and, more than that, I wanted to sit there next to them and color a few bunnies of my own. Although I was a bit frustrated, I understood. I wanted to cry, too. Just like Max. I wanted to pull on my hair and scream, "But I don't even want to do this!" just like little Adam. And I wanted to run away just like James. But not because of the worksheet.

They guessed that James ran home. He lives near the school. I imagine he just wanted his mom. I thought, "Run. Run to your mom while you still can. While it's still okay to just sit on your mom's lap and cry." The office called and called his house but nobody answered. His mom wasn't home. It broke my heart to picture little James pounding on his front door, crying for his mom with nobody there to open the door and hug him. Not having a mom there during those crucial moments is hard. I imagined him sitting on his front step crying and maybe for the first time realizing how small he was in a big and busy world.

Without mom, the now scared six-year-old had no other choice but to put up the white flag and come back to school. The police found him as he was walking up and they plopped him with his tear-stained face in the front office while they continued to try to call his mom. They couldn't send him back to class. When a kid runs from school he has to go home for the rest of the day. (Which really doesn't make sense. It's like rewarding a kid who steals gum with a pack of gum. It's what they wanted in the first place.) It was hours before they got a hold of her.

I just wanted to hug him and tell him that I knew what it felt like to be alone and scared. I know what it feels like when you just want your mom. Even though I never really had one. That front porch can be a scary place. Sometimes life is rough and you just don't want to write man, pan, van and can. Whether you don't know how or are scared you'll mess up or because you think it's stupid, or you just don't want to... it's all the same. That worksheet stinks! So, give your mom a hug if you still can, show that school work who's boss and then have a great time coloring your bunnies! I have no time for porches! No time!
Unlimited Calls

My parents recently switched long distance providers. They now pay a reasonable monthly flat rate for unlimited calling time. I don't know what genius thought this up but if I ever find him I'm going to give him a piece of my mind. This is the third time my parents have called me this week!! Something needs to be done.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

"I'll Be Back in a Minute."

This is my new nonsense phrase. I first realized myself using it (and abusing it) at the beginning of this semester when I was helping apartment 68 move in. I spent a lot of time there during their first week. And by a lot of time I mean hardly any real time at all but lots of tiny one-minute drop-ins. I'd just get there and then I'd see somebody who was just moving in who I knew from last year, get all excited and yell, "Be back in a minute!" as I ran out the door to greet my friend. A very long time later I'd be back in their apartment. But not for long. Soon a new girl would be moving in that needed help and who I wanted to meet. "Be back in a minute!" But I wouldn't be. Because on my way back from helping this girl move in I'd see another girl I knew (or didn't know) and I'd end up chatting. And then there'd be somebody else. I get distracted easily. Finally, hours later, I'd make my way back into 68. It became a joke between us. Well, it became a joke between us if the word "joke" means them making fun of me for having no focus and no concept of time. But we play with it...
Lisa: When are you going to pay me for your haircut?
Me: In a minute...

But this dishonest phrase has leaked into my apartment life as well. Or maybe it's always been there and I just didn't notice. In any case, last night I had to deliver meeting notes I had typed up to the RS presidency. "I'll be back in a minute," I called, "Then we can watch our movie." My route was 63, 65, then 79. Before Camille was called I was much quicker at accomplishing this task. OK, that's a lie too. I always get stuck in 63. Admit it, those girls are fantastic! I have to restrain myself from setting up camp in their living room. Anyway, my point is, it's harder now for me to get over there and back to the small building when I have to go all the way to the third floor. Now I have to pass practically every girl apartment. How can I resist going inside just for a minute??

Last night, I couldn't resist apartment 77. I chatted with Eddie and Elizabeth. Can you blame me? They're wonderful! After quite a while the phone rang. A perfect distraction. Elizabeth got up to get it and I said to Eddie, "I should probably go. I always tell Kat that I'll be back in a minute and then I end up talking to somebody forever and I don't come home for hours." Elizabeth comes back in the room with the phone, "Em, it's for you. It's Kat."

"You said you'd be back in a minute!!!"

Saturday, September 20, 2003

As a Reading One-to-One tutor, there are several little "games" we have to make sure the students master. One of them is "blending." I give the student three sounds and they blend them together to make a word. If I made the sound for 'c' followed by the sound for 'a' followed by the sound for 't', the student would blend these sounds together and say, "cat." For low readers they often have to sound words out as they go and if they don't know how to blend these sounds together then they're really not reading as much as vocalizing random letter sounds. So blending is important.

I start the exercise with the 'f' column of words to be rehearsed. F-A-T. "Fat." Very good. F-I-B. "Fib." Excellent. F-A-K(e). "F*&k." Uh...

She swore. I just had her say the worst of all foul words. I look nervously around me to see if the other tutors had heard my student cuss. Uh... no, listen to the sounds I make very carefully. Try again. F-A-K(e). She thought hard. Good. Good. Then in a more confident voice, "F*&k." D'oh! A. A. This time I emphasize that 'a' real good even though I'm not supposed to. F-A-K(e). "Fake?" Yes! Great job!!!

We continue on with our lesson, exploring all sorts of different 'f' words. But according to the tutor's guide, I have to go back the word she missed earlier to see if she can do it this time. F-A-K(e). "F*&k. No, fake!"

Close enough. Moving on!!

Friday, September 19, 2003

My parents called on the 7th. Like all conversations with my mother I was reduced to a pile of twitching Em, weeping and banging my head on the floor. I wiggled and moaned and prayed for tornado or fire to make the pain go away. Instead I listened and appeased her with "uh-huhs" and "oh reallies" until finally (for the 5th time) she said, "Well, I think that's everything." And by "everything" she means everything!! I heard about her most current health condition, about the spading of our puppy, and a detailed list of everything that has gone on since I left... in 1999. So the words, "I think that's everything" was almost equivelant to a boy saying, "You're pretty and I brought you chocolate."

But she forgot something. I don't know how it happened but she forgot something.

Almost a week later I get an email from my dad.

Hello Emily,
We forgot to mention to you that Jaime (Jonathan's girl friend) gave birth to a baby girl last Friday. Jamie
e-mailed me the following information:
this is jamie lester..
her name is Milanni Aloha Matautia
born at st joseph in tacoma
weight... 7 lbs
length.... 18 and 3/4 inches
when birth.. Sept. 5th @ 11:22 pm

My mom told me about her toenails and the two-for-one canned food sale at our local Safeway, but she failed to mention the birth of my first niece. The one thing that would have peaked my interest and she just left it out. My dad sent me pictures of her over email today. She's beautiful. So very beautiful.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Taking Notes

Apparantly there's still a lot I can learn on the playground. Yesterday I watched a first grade girl make at least ten boys (who were mostly older and all bigger than she was) run all over the playground at her command then run races. These boys didn't want to be running. But they did. Why? Because she was holding their tetherball hostage. "If you want to play, then you have to run to the swings and back. Now run to the tree and back. Now to the fence and back. Very good. Hmmm. If I'm going to decide who's going to play first then you have to race. The winner gets to play first. That wasn't very fast. Try again."

So what did I learn from this? If I want a boy to serve me, then I need to hold their sporting equipment hostage. "Want this football? I need chocolate. Go."

Monday, September 15, 2003

Tired. Oh so very tired. Need sleepy. Sleep...
Scaring Kat

Sometimes I scare Kat with no real effort at all. I can appear out of thin air right under her nose. Really. I can. Why? Because Kat's 5'11 and I'm 5'2... okay... 5'1 and, apparantly, I am far below her normal line of vision. If I'm not jumping around or making a lot of noise (which actuallly doesn't happen all that often) then she doesn't see me coming at all! This can be good fun...

Em was in a gray hoodie with the hood up (hey! I was cold!) and I quietly turned the corner to go into the bathroom where Kat was getting ready (sometimes I follow her around.) She didn't say anything to me. I recognized that she didn't know I was there. I hissed at her (I do that. It's true). She screamed and hit me. I laughed.

But it doesn't just happen with Kat. It's happened with Liz and with at least four other wardies over the summer. Most of the time I don't recognize that they can't see me and me startling them startles me all over again. It's a vicious cycle. But one I can get a kick out of every once in a while...

Friday, September 12, 2003

It's almost 1pm and guess where I am? Not at work! That's right. I went to lunch with Kat and right now I am not at work. It's nice. Really nice. But now... I gots to get stuff done!
My Day Off...

I just woke up about 15 minutes ago and let me tell you, it feels great! That's all.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

It's Thursday (for real this time) and I'm home from work already. It was an early out day and tomorrow just happens to be a no school day. Yay! Hurray! A three day weekend for me. Not you. Me. Me. Me. And I feel really good about it. Except for the fact that all of my friends will be in school or at work. That's a bummer. Too bad. Too bad. And yet... still happy! YAY!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

A Kid at Heart... and Body

My three students had all finally been claimed by their parents and had left. I sighed a relieved sigh and opened the door to leave. "Hey!" There's a tap on my shoulder. "You need to wait for your parent to... oh... sorry." I had turned mid-sentence and the teacher realized her mistake. "Sorry." What do you do?

"Don't worry about it. It happens."

And then you leave. And so I did. And now I'm home. And eating. And happy.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Life's Little Accidents

Have you ever heard that it's best to be totally relaxed before a car accident? If you panic and tighten all your muscles and "brace yourself for the blow" then you're really just preparing yourself for worse injuries. An example of this would be an accident involving an intoxicated driver. The drunk guy walks away from the scene with a few minor lacerations screaming something about how he can't find his hat and the other guy's in ICU for weeks. Most likely, they both saw it coming, one just didn't care or realize the weight of the situation and therefore did not "prepare" himself for the accident.

Ever get that feeling that you should be preparing yourself for an "accident" in your life? Get tensed up? I do. And there usually is one, especially if my mom's driving. They're never huge accidents. Just mailboxes and signs usually. Yet, I'm the one that sees it coming and understands that it's going to hurt. I'm the one freaking out and there she is screaming about her freaking hat and turning around to sign to my brother.

But then, the worst of it is, while I'm struggling with a missing limb, I have to be the one to get out of the car and help her unlatch her seat belt and calm her down and convince her that the nail she broke in the accident will grow back.

Yes, none of that made sense. My only point is that somebody should take away that woman's license! Think of the children!!

Friday, September 05, 2003

I have placed myself on "Visitor's Probation" for the duration of one week starting today. Why? Because I'm a dork. One big fat dork. I'm more than a little bit campy, it's true. But I can't even fully blame my lack of sleep for my embarassing behavior. No, no. I know where the source is. It's me. And it's buried deep. It's been worse than usual lately, just in time for "getting to know you week" with all the new people moving in. And who do they meet? Captain Psycho with her babbled speech, delayed reactions and bad hair. I have had to actually run from an apartment... or two... okay three... to escape an embarassing situation I created for myself. And I'm pretty sure my "hey, do you know that one girl?" description code will be the "short, spastic one that runs into things." So my appearances will be limited to a) official ward activities, b) offical ward meetings and c)... uh... I guess there's just the two. See you in a week!

Thursday, September 04, 2003

While observing a 3rd day class during their interactive reading time, I did well holding back the laughter at their comments. Until near the end of the lesson when the teacher was reading some of her top pics from yesterday's journal writing.

She read a piece called "Bugs, Bugs, Bugs" written by one of the students sitting on the carpet.

"Slugs are slimey. Grasshoppers are brown or green and they hop. Lady bugs make the best pets ever. I know from experience. I don't like mosquitos. I'd kill one of it was the last thing I did. Unfortunately, it won't be."

"Unless he gets the West Niles Virus!" shouted a student from the back.

I couldn't help it. I snorted with laughter. The kid was funny. 10 points for using the West Niles Virus in a joke. 10 more points for being quick on your feet. Well done. My hat goes off to the sarcastic 3rd grader in the back.
I love my Ann-Marie. I love her because she's kind and thoughtful and pretty and generous. I love her laugh, her smile, her stories and her willingness and ability to include others. I love the way she makes other people happy without even really trying and how I also can't help but be happy when I'm around her. Yes, Ann-Marie is a find indeed and I'm so glad she's my friend. That's all.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

I just typed up a huge long blog about my "flake day." The day that even the ol' "smile-and-nod" trick couldn't save me from. But Blogger lost it. It's gone. And now the world will never know about the day that my stupidity was flashed in big neon lights for the whole school to see. It's hard. I know. You don't even care do you?

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

My Chat With Benjamin

Benjamin is dragged to the back of the classroom by the teacher and placed next to me with strict instruction to, "Just sit there! Just sit there next to Miss Hansen and don't move! Do you hear me? Don't move!" Ben had been up to his old tricks again... wandering around the classroom, leaving the classroom without permission, hiding in the closet, laying on the floor and interrupting the class discussion with, "This is boring! I'm way too smart for this!"

So Ben was sent to sit next to me as Mrs. Ord led the rest of the class to their very first P.E. class. Ben tries to get up.

"Uh, I don't think so Buddy." (I call all the kids Buddy. "All y'all look the same!")
"So, what's up, man?" (Another way of avoiding the fact that I forget his name.)
"Sometimes I just want to kick Mrs. Ord."
"That's not okay. We don't kick teachers. We don't even talk about kicking teachers. That's not cool. She's here to help you learn."
"But I already know everything. She's not teaching me anything."
"Oh, is that so?"
"Yes. I'm an excellent reader and I already know all of my times tables."
"Ya, that's all I do at home too. I just read. I'm way better at reading than all of these kids."
"Huh." (He's in the orange reading group. The lowest.) "How about your writing? Are you good at writing?"
"Ya, really good. I'm better than my 14 year old sister."
"Really." (I've seen him write. All his letters are backwards. I have to sit next to him or else he gets frustrated and just stops.)
"Ya. I'm way too smart for this class. I want to be in the second grade."
"You will be."
"Yep. Right after you finish the first grade."
"Grr! I'm too smart for the first grade and nobody believes me!"

I start to talk to him about his family, why he always hides in the closet and how being smart also includes being nice to people and obeying your teacher when his eyes glaze over and he starts to get up. I grab his arm and lead him back down to his chair...

"Where were you going?"
"I just want to go in the closet."
"Because I just want to read my books by myself."
"You just stopped listening to me and started moving towards the closet. Do you do that a lot? Do you get distracted easily?"
"Ya. But then if I try I can start listening again."
"Ya. I just do what I want. I'm too smart for this. I should be in a private school."

Benjamin is a special boy. What would make him think he's the smartest first grader ever? I mean, everybody knows that I'm the smartest first grader ever! Obviously! Kids these days!