I’m back!


I’m back! At least, I think I am. Or, rather, I want to be. I have such a guilty conscience since I stopped writing blog posts. I could list hundreds of excuses for not writing, such as too busy, not enough time, I teach too many classes, I correct too many compositions and/or homework, etc, but I won’t list any!

I really have missed writing this blog, so now that the semester is almost over, I’m beginning to think about writing again.

Construction paper


My son's homework.

When I was in grade school, we used construction paper for just about every art project. I’m reminded about this because my son Adam was working on a school project and was coloring white sheets of paper with a purple marker. If he would have asked me for advice, I would have brought out an aging pad of construction paper that I’ve had for years (mainly because my sons never think of using construction paper) in order to speed up his project. Could it be that because he’s been trained to do many homework assignments on the computer he no longer thinks of using his dear old dad’s techniques? On the plus side, he has become very independent and he is intelligent enough not to need my help for his homework very often.

When I was in grade school at Holy Cross, art class was a very special time of day. If a student misbehaved, he or she was deprived of participating in art class and would have to sit in the corner with his head placed down in his or her folded arms for the duration of art class. And take it from me, that was no fun at all.

Okay, okay, I was deprived of art class one time or two or three, but I was framed! Each and every time! When we had art class, we always–I do mean always always–started with one sheet of construction paper. Usually, it was manila-colored, but for those special art projects we could get several sheets of construction paper–each a different color!

I remember one class, Sister Francine told us told us to hold the sheet of construction paper–I can still smell it!–vertically. Meaning standing up and not lying down. She even showed us the sheet of construction paper in the upright position from the front of the classroom and then she walked between every aisle between all the desks to ensure that every third grader in the class had the construction paper in the correct position. I was certain that the health and wellbeing of every American citizen depended upon our completing our art project successfully because Sister Francine’s face reddened every time she observed a student with the construction paper in the wrong position.

Finally, every student had the paper vertically in front of them on the desk, including Claudia who sat next to me. Sister Francine then instructed us to fold the paper vertically, from left to right. Not from right to left, but left to right. She repeated several times, in such a stern voice that I thought I would crack from the tension that was building up in the classroom. But lo, I correctly folded my sheet of construction paper in half vertically, as instructed, and I even passed Sister Francine’s eagle-eyed inspection. I was spared her wrath for the moment. However, she turned to Claudia and Sister Francine blew a gasket! Claudia had folded her construction paper–not vertically–but horizontally! Widthwise instead of lengthwise! Much to Claudia’s embarrassment, Sister Francine led her up to the front of the classroom to show her construction paper folded horizontally. She was the only student who could not–no would dare to defy a direct order from Sister Francine–follow instructions.

I don’t even remember what art project we did that day, but I do remember how badly Claudia felt. Now that I think of it, why did I like art class so much?

Labor Day


Dr. D.'s sons at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The meaning of Labor Day has changed over the years. When I was a boy, Labor Day meant that I would start school the next day. Labor Day always fell on Monday and we always went to school for the first day on Tuesday. Nowadays, my sons start school the week before Labor Day. However, they do not attend classes on Labor Day because it’s a national holiday. I think children should go to school on Labor Day so the hardworking parents can relax after having enjoyed their children at home, all day, all summer. That would follow the true spirit of Labor Day!

Vocations


Now that the summer is over and I’m back in school, I truly realize how much I enjoy having the whole day off to myself. The last two summers were very memorable because I didn’t have to work and I could do whatever I wanted. I really enjoyed spending time with my sons. We always have fun together. Now that I think back, I have never held a job that I liked. I don’t think that the working life suits me. Given the options of working for a living or staying home all the time, obviously, I would stay home and not worry about going somewhere else to work for someone else. Some people would die from the boredom of not working. Not me! You’d be surprised how little it takes to keep me busy.

I'm never bored!

Cell phones


My electronic home monitoring device

I never had a beeper. I never had a brick phone. I never had the latest technological gadgets. But one day I suddenly had a cell phone. My ex-wife gave me one.

I actually had a cell phone before most people. Some people were really impressed that I had a cell phone. People could reach me wherever I was, which was both good and bad. However, I prefer to communicate via e-mail rather than talk on the telephone. A few people would call me, but mostly my ex would call me to see where I was. She would call and almost immediately ask, “Where are you?” Invariably, I would answer, “I’m at work,” “I’m at school,” or “I’m upstairs. I never left the house.” I felt like a parolee with an electronic home monitoring device.

The cell phone is a wonderful invention that I can live without and I haven’t had one for years now. With a cell phone you lose all of your privacy. I mean, everyone may contact you anytime, anyplace. If you give everyone your cell phone and home phone numbers, they call your cell phone first instinctively. You’re always available to everyone at all hours of the day. With a landline telephone, I would never answer the phone when I was showering, on the toilet, or away from the house. When I first had my cell phone, I always answered no matter where I was. I felt as if I was tethered by an electronic leash.

Once I was at Home Depot, when I unexpectedly had to use the bathroom. Suddenly, I could hear my stomach churning and the noises were traveling down my abdomen. I immediately went to the bathroom. I must admit that it was a very close call and I almost regretted not having a change of underwear in the car. While sitting on the toilet, my cell phone rings and I instinctively answer it. As I’m talking, my stomach starts churning again. Let’s just say the methane gases within me built up again and took the path of least resistance. Adding to the sound effect were the acoustics of this toilet stall that would rival any concert hall. I tried to control my bodily functions because I was holding a telephone conversation, but all my efforts were in vain. Suddenly, the pent up gases escaped from my body despite my most valiant effort with a mighty roar. My friend on the end of the line asks, “What was that?” I was too embarrassed to tell the truth so I said, “I’m at Home Depot. That was a saw.” My friend said, “But that noise was extremely loud.” “Well, it was a chain saw! There it goes again! See, doesn’t it sound like a chain saw?”

I’ve been living cell-phone free and happily for three years now.

Learning English


Holy Cross School

Since my parents came from Mexico, Spanish was my first language at home and we never spoke English. When I started kindergarten at Holy Cross School, I didn’t know any English. So when the Sister Mary Joseph talked, I did what the other kids did. I sat next to Bridget, the smartest and prettiest girl in the kindergarten. I didn’t understand Sister Joseph’s instructions because she spoke English, so I watched Bridget’s every movement. When Bridget took out her crayons, I took out my crayons. When Bridget took a nap, I took a nap. Kindergarten was not that complicated. When Bridget got up and got in line, I got up and got in line. But I got in trouble. Sister Joseph walked me back to my desk. I noticed that the entire kindergarten class was laughing. I had followed Bridget to get in line to go the girls room!

I always had a problem learning English. I didn’t quite understand everything correctly. I liked standing outside the corner bar. You see, they had a sign that read, “3 IDs required. No minors allowed.” I was always waiting to see these miners wearing helmets with lights on top to come to the bar. And then they’d get really mad because they weren’t allowed in the bar and start a fight with the bouncer because he wouldn’t let them in. But I never saw any miners try to get in. I guess that sign really worked.