MUST do and MAY do
I’m not a morning person, and that doesn’t mesh well with a school day. My district starts later than most, and I’m still up at 5:30 to exercise, shower, commute, and get set up for the day. Between that and half a travel mug of (iced) coffee, I’ve shaken off enough Not a Morning Person-ness to stalk the halls and Good-morning the daylights out of anyone I see.
Sometimes we tell the kids here’s what you MUST DO, the requirements, and what you MAY DO, the optional ways to make it better. Teaching is full of similar divisions. We MUST be at school by the first bell, we MUST greet everyone in our advisory, we MUST be present in the hallways. You MAY get in early, you MAY greet every single person you see, you MAY walk all around and be a PRESENCE in the hallways.
“Good morning, Amadou! Good morning, Ms. Vicki! Good morning, Z!” I visit every sixth grade classroom wishing everyone on my team a hearty good morning. We MUST greet the kids we see, we MAY actively roam around seeking them out. If anyone’s in the room while I’m greeting the teachers, I wish them a good morning by name, too. I want everyone I see to be greeted, to feel seen, recognized, welcomed. For me, it’s a MUST.
Teachers have a union and a contract, so our MUST is negotiated and documented. But if I want the job I’m doing to be of a certain quality, it takes more than the MUST hours. Plenty of teachers are not like that, but plenty are and I’m far from unique. But I’m alone at school in how enthusiastically I Good-morning the stuffing out of all who cross my path. Excellent way to start the day, highly recommend.
The Week in Dog Poo
I try not to leave dog poo on the ground, I really do. If I space out and forget bags, I’m not above using random trash, and if it’s a Dunkin Donuts cup, I proclaim it a crappucino in my best Cornholio voice. I aim to leave nothing but paw prints. But as fall covers our walking paths, there are definitely poos I miss in the leaves. I hunt and search, and if it’s dark out or the leaves are poo-colored, sometimes I walk away empty-bagged. I have to LEAF it behind. (Thunderous applause) We live in a golden age of neighborhood spying, so I take out the bag and pantomime picking up the poo. This has the added benefit of a last search, however fruitless. I found all fruit this week, but the leaf camouflage will stay a while, and the hunts will continue.
The Urban Blah
Back in 2009-11 I collaborated with the brilliant Lovisa to make a webcomic that failed to become syndicated across the globe. I am pro-recycling.
For some reason, I gave the comics got cutesy file names, sort of like the message hovering over an XKCD, except harder to find. Jokes to myself really, always a favorite. This comic was titled “I Married a Morning Person” and it’s accurate. When I told my wife I’m high energy at school in the morning, she barely believed me. “You’re only crabby with me?” I start my (iced) coffee in the car, and I’m way less appealing precaffeinated. In the above comic, Onion is clearly in a similar state as he’s just readying his coffee. Although I now laugh that BEFORE 9 AM once seemed early.
And yeah, Lovisa and I call him Onion in emails. Onion and Wife are above, other characters include Boss, Work Woman, Baldy, and 2Hype.
Jam of the Week
I’ve been listening to this German band Kratzen, which apparently means “scratch.” I don’t know much about them, but I heard them on WMBR and I’m particularly stuck on “Reise.” It apparently means “travel,” but as a non-German speaker I’m kind of rolling the dice and hoping for the best. I’m not really a lyrics guy anyway, I’m into this song’s one-note guitar, the rhythm, the drone, the Feelies vibes. I celebrate their whole catalog, both albums.
My Back Pages
Sometimes on my blog (2003-2009), I’d have conversations with the cats, sometimes including our dog Watson. All three pets are no longer with us. From “Conversation in the other room,” Nov 11, 2007:
TROUT: Thanks for meeting me here, Dan.
DAN: What, in the second bedroom?
TROUT: That’s right. I appreciate you making the trip.
DAN: …from the living room.
TROUT: From wherever, it means a lot to me.
DAN: What’s on your mind, Trout? Usually when we have these morning conversations, it’s both of you kitties ganging up on me.
TROUT: Well, I just wanted to talk to you one on one. Man to cat.
DAN: Is this about the dog?
TROUT: It’s about a lot of things.
DAN: Like the dog?
Ah, Watson J. Dog. We had a complicated relationship. I was devastated when he died, but also a little relieved.
TROUT: Well, how do you think it’s going with Watson?
DAN: I think it’s going pretty well.
TROUT: Do you? Do you really think it’s going well?
DAN: Yeah. Sure.
TROUT: I sense some hesitation.
DAN: Well, you know.
TROUT: Kind of a rough change from Daylight Savings Time, wasn’t it?
DAN: Yeah, Watson kept getting us up at 6 instead of 7. But how’s he supposed to know?
TROUT: Oh, of course. But you lost a lot of sleep last week.
DAN: Hey, he let us sleep till 7:30 the last two days.
TROUT: That’s great! I mean, sure, Spoon and I used to let you sleep as late as you wanted. But 7:30 is really something to be excited about!
DAN: We’re not getting rid of the dog.
TROUT: Who’s talking about getting rid of the dog?
DAN: Aren’t you?
TROUT: We’re just a couple mammals shooting the breeze.
The cat finally cuts to the chase.
TROUT: Dan, be reasonable here. Meaghan’s gone off the deep end with this dog. But you… I sense conflict.
DAN: We’re not getting rid of the dog.
TROUT: I will give you five dollars.
DAN: Okay, I’ve got to go move the laundry to the dryer.
DAN: How do you have ten dollars?
TROUT: What, you think I just sleep on the couch all day?
DAN: I do.
Trout was a good cat.
(Watson J. Dog enters, full of energy)
TROUT: Oh, Christ.
WATSON: Hi, Trout!
WATSON: What’s going on here?
TROUT: Your momma, that’s what.
DAN: Hey, Watson.
WATSON: Oh, Dan, yeah, hi. Um… hey, you guys seen Meaghan around?
DAN: I think she’s at yoga.
WATSON: Oh. All right, I’m going back to sleep.
(Watson skulks off)
TROUT: Twelve dollars.
DAN: Go clean yourself.
Our current dogs never leave us alone, it’s crazy to think Watson rarely hung out. Cute guy, though. This photo made it onto boston.com
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