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January Sucks

January has traditionally been a crappy month for me. I got my first real law job in January and that was one of the worst experiences of my life. I got forced out of a job at a domestic violence place in January of 2002. I spent January of 2000 at an absolutely miserable law office job (and I even remember feeling like the month lasted a year). This January saw me finding out that my current job is just the same ol', same ol'. It doesn't help that the weather is horrible and it's 31 whole freaking days. On the positive side, at least it is the first month and I get it out of the way.

The Politics of Me

Last night at a cocktail bar, my friends and I were discussing the politics of a mutual friend. We all love her to pieces and agreed we should never ever ever get into political discussions with her because her politics are way to the right of ours. I wondered aloud how she had arrived at her views (I may just ask her one day) and then I started thinking about how I had arrived at my own views. I don't know if I have answers for all of them but that won't stop me from trying to articulate them :)

Labor issues ~ My friend Rebekah said something about how she is more anti-greed than pro-union and perhaps that is what I am as well. I loathe how those at the "top" just want more and more and more and just won't share. Even more, I loathe how most people give those motherfuckers a pass but hate on ME because I want to earn more than $50,000 a year. I'm tired of the arguments that say, "There just isn't enough money for workers." Yes, yes there is...it's just being concentrated at the top. I'm tired of people who could benefit from collective bargaining hating on those of us in unions. I know some of it is jealousy and some of it is just ignorance...as a FB friend suggested: perhaps union members are not OVERpaid but perhaps you are UNDERpaid. Why are those underpaid people not angry at the CEOs and the executives and the politicians? Do they honestly think they will be one of them one day? Or is it like how the abused child sides with the abusive parent and hates on the non-abuser for not protecting them?

Beyond my hatred of greed are many personal reasons that I prefer being in a union. I know that unions are not perfect and I know there has been hella* corruption in some but I still will take one if it's offered. When I was in the legal field, I suffered from indignities that regularly drove me to suicidal thoughts. One of the worst indignities was knowing that I made considerably less than my male counterparts. It made sense if the man had been there for a dozen years and I was brand new; it did not make sense when we both were newbies with little experience. Since the legal field is completely glutted, I never felt comfortable trying to bargain for more money; I knew that there were 10 lawyers behind me who would have taken the job. At my teaching job, I know that people with my level of education and experience are being paid the same regardless of gender and that makes me happy.

I also experienced what I consider harassment--some gender-based and some not. Inevitably, people read that and demand to know why I didn't sue. Well, first, these are lawyers and lawyers generally don't like to sue each other. And second, do I have any proof that the boss was screwing his paralegal (who hated me and wanted me fired)? Well yes, but no hard (hahahahahahaha HA!) proof. Do I have any proof that the boss was playing with himself when I went into his office? How do I prove a pattern of verbal harassment and terror? I live in near-constant fear of being fired at the handful of firms I worked in. I don't have that fear hanging over my head now and that means I can do my job better and not have as many health problems and actually enjoy life. Knowing that someone out there has my back is an amazing feeling.

Had I sailed through life (like a friend I knew in college who has just had the Golden Life...yeah, I hate her!) and never had these experiences, perhaps I would not be so hardcore and ardently pro-union. But this issue more than any has shaped my political views on this subject. (Also, I am a UAW brat who had the best childhood ever thanks to the generous pay & benefits afforded my dad).

Women's Issues ~ I didn't think about women's issues until I was in college (circa 1991) and the Clarence Thomas (has he spoken on the bench lately? It's been like 10 years since he opened his fat, ugly ass punk ass bitch mouth) hearings were all the rage. It became very clear to me that the "pro life" movement was more about "forced birth" and the control of women. It was obvious to me that a very good way to keep women in our places was to keep us pregnant and by extension dependent on men. I'm sure someone reading this knows of some woman who had a baby out of wedlock at age 15 and went on to do great things and that is fantastic. But these women are as elusive as that homeschooled kid who went on to ace his classes at Harvard. The young moms I have worked with by and large have repeated the pattern of out of wedlock births, low paying jobs, man after man after man. When women are in such a situation, it tends to be difficult for them to start agitating for things like equal rights or equal pay or rights in their workplace.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. When I was in college I hadn't yet worked with the desperate women who had kids they couldn't afford or didn't want or couldn't handle. I hadn't yet heard a legal aid client tell me, "The church said they would help if I kept the kid but they haven't". I hadn't yet seen legal cases where "dads" who hadn't changed a diaper suddenly fought for custody during a nasty divorce. I hadn't yet met the woman who called her ex-husband to cancel visitation (hurting him deeply) and then told her girls that their dad hadn't shown up to see them. I hadn't seen all of the domestic violence (almost always physical when it was man on woman; always emotional when it was woman on man) that kids had to go through. I just knew that if someone didn't want kids, then they shouldn't have to have them. Sure, you should have used a rubber or swallowed a pill or swallowed his spunk. Of course. Absolutely. But sometimes, shit happens. And to force that birth on someone and then back off all the while being pro-military, pro-death penalty, pro-war...that's pro-birth, not pro-life my friends.

I also very quickly noticed something rather interesting. Many "pro-life" folks were "okay" with abortion in cases of rape or incest. Oh, really? (Insert Willy Wonka meme here). So it's suddenly not a baby from the moment of conception? What's the difference between concept from rape and conception from not-rape? Oh yes! The woman might have actually enjoyed the latter and exercised her sexuality in the latter! Why good golly! That sort of hypocrisy made my skin crawl. If you honestly believe that it is a child from the moment of conception & all abortion is bad, well, you are wrong, but at least you are consistent and I applaud that. If you go around saying that it's a child from the moment the sperm comes shooting out yet you are okay with abortion in cases of rape/incest and you also do everything you can to prevent birth control from being distributed, then I would really question your motives in this whole thing. I really don't abide control freaks.

Okay, that's two issues and I'm exhausted! More to come....

(*Hi 2003!)

My, but this year sucked

This was the year that I saw my state die. It didn't die a natural death (like from climate change) or get shot (like by some old timey Soviet missile)--no, Lansing murdered it. A bunch of white men (maybe some women too but I'm not sure) got their little pink panties in a wad because of--well, it doesn't matter why. What matters is that they murdered my state. Michigan has been called "Michissippi" and other charming monikers that reflect a startling step backwards. Once the gov signs the forced birth legislation that is on his desk, Michigan will basically be a post-Roe v. Wade state in name only. Hell, it won't even be in name. We now have the "right" to work for less (and sickeningly, the gov said we should all have the right to choose. Seriously. He said we should all have the right to choose as he signed this bill) and the "right" not to pay our union dues.

Who the hell is going to want to live in this shitty state? Not me. Not anymore. I thought I would die here in Ann Arbor but now I know I won't. I am angry about this and I am still trying to wrap my brain around all of it. I'm not one of those "fuck you Michigan I'm OUT" people, by the way. I am planning this carefully and Ken & I will make our decisions rationally but all of it breaks my heart. Once we reelect Dick S in 2014--and make no mistake, these ignorant asshole in this state will reelect him--our plans will have to start becoming real. Breaks my heart, as I may have already said.

On the other hand, knowing that I won't be here forever has been sort of freeing. I was so wedded to the idea of never leaving this place that I was acting super cautious about things and never thinking outside the mitten shaped box. Now that I know I won't be here forever, I can reshape some plans. Just don't know what shaped state those should end up in....

Happenins'

Ken & I went to Noel Night in Detroit this past Saturday...holy shit was it packed! I heard something about 50,000 people in midtown Detroit. Were only it was like that all the time!

Midnight Madness

Ken & I went to the annual Midnight Madness/Kindlefest last night. AWESOME! I met him as he got off of his bus and we trotted down to the downtown area. We went into stores (I got a free donut at Verizon!) and saw Santa and saw a fake Elvis and heard people singing. Then we went to Jazzy Veggie for a bite to eat and our friend Dan saw us in the window. So then we & Dan went to the Mighty Good coffee house where we got gelato from my pal & neighbor and ran into another friend of ours. We dragged ourselves to the Kindlefest, which was PACKED...but we still managed to get beer :) I also got the cutest bootie glass that I will treasure and possibly use for beer drinking.

So where were we?

Are people still reading Live Journal? Is anybody out here?!?!

Well, even if I am just screaming into the void here we go....
Since you last left your heroine (me), I was teaching in Detroit, married, living in southeast Ann Arbor, driving a red car, drinking beer.
BUT NOW....a mere 18 months later...your intrepid teacher is....

a) a teacher consultant for a county to the west of where I live
b) shacked up with a wonderful man named Ken
c) living in downtown Ann Arbor
d) sharing a silver car with that awesome Ken
e) drinking beer
f) using my laser eyes to kill people I don't like
g) all of the above
h) none of the above
i) all except f

Well, yes children, choice
i would be correct! I know, right? What's even CRAY-CRAYER is that in January I got the new job offer, Ken & I found out that the house offer had been accepted, we ditched one of the cars and my divorce became finalized. Who DOES that?

But through it all--yes, through all of those crazy days & nights--I maintained my daily intake of sweet, sweet beer. So I'm not all that different.

I like Unions

I am really sick of all of the union busting that is going on 'round these parts.  If my dad hadn't been in the UAW, I can almost guarantee that I wouldn't have gotten my schooling paid for nor would we have had a solid middle/uppermiddle class lifestyle growing up.  Despite some internal problems (and hell, every group has those, including Grandmaw's sewing circle), I owe a lot of my good life to the UAW and its wages/benefits.

If I live to be 1000--and how cool would that be??--I will never understand how people think that paying working folks $25/hour is bankrupting the country.  No.  What is bankrupting the country is the folks on top wanting more, more, more.  If we pay the guy who actually makes the cars $10/hour, then Maxwell the Corporate Suit can someone earn 1% more in his annual seven figure bonus.  Yeah I know that's simplistic, sue me. That's how I see it. (And I'm sorry but standing your ass on the line all day, putting fenders on Fords is a HELLUVA lot more difficult than prancing around in your corner office all day. Yeah I know you have huge decisions to make, my Brooks Brothers friends, but at least you are sitting down and can piss whenever you want to)

But more than the money/benefits/workers' rights, we need to consider the social ramifications of busting unions.  Jeff & I are watching The Wire on Netflix and we are in season two, which deals with the longshoremens' union.  Beyond some weird shenanigans and drama (dude, it's a TV show! They aren't going to make a TV show about the Detroit Federation of Teachers who just kind of sit there and work with teachers), there is a larger issue--the social one.  For many blue collar workers, this is their place to belong and know they'll be taken care of in an emergency.  Most people want to belong to something larger than themselves either for protection, friendship, strength in numbers, whatever, right? We see it in the inner cities with gangs, in colleges with sororities (Chi Omega here!), in guilds, Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis Clubs, neighborhood block groups, whatever.  I certainly do not want to paint all blue collar workers with the same brush, but I'm sure many of them (like my dad and his buddies, anyway) ain't joining no Optimist Club.  Instead, they have their bar they all go to, the union hall, the sense of camaraderie and belonging.

What happens to these guys when the unions are gone?  Watching this season of The Wire makes me wish that I had their union in my life.  I wish we all did, to tell the truth.

I think another thing to remember is that before collective bargaining, mass strikes, unions? Yeah, we had a 60 or 80 hour work week. So the next time you are driving Up North on Friday, think about that.  And the next time your kid doesn't go off to the mill for her 13 hour day, consider that the labor unions helped end child labor.  Read the book Sea Glass by Anita Shreve for a glimpse of what those jolly days were like.  Labor forces also helped set the standard of employer paid health care. So when you go to your doctor and only pay a $10 co-payment, please think of this. 

The for-profit charter movement is a perfect example of what happens when management is given unfettered control and is just out to make a buck because let's face it--that's what they are out to do. They want to make themselves the most possible money. Don't kid yourselves.I'm a teacher and, at least until May 17 when our "Emergency Financial Manager" makes a paper hat out of my contract, in a union. Compared to non-unionized teachers, my pay (right now) is considerably higher. Unionized teachers top out anywhere between $70k-85k in many districts where charter teachers might see mid-$40ks after 20 years (if they don't get fired because the principal has a bad day, of course).  We also have good benefits, a pension, sick days, guaranteed lunches.  Isn't that fucking pathetic? I need a contract to guarantee my 45 minute lunch break but I do need it because charter teachers often have to eat lunch with the kids.  Because of a teacher surplus (created by universities and colleges that keep cranking them out, year after year--don't get me started!), the charters know that they can fire their teachers and have 20 more lined up the next day to take the job.

Lest you think I'm a big labor homer, I will say this...yeah, it sucks that our custodian can't change the lightbulb because the contract says only engineers can do that. And yeah, the nasty teacher who sits on her fat ass and eats Doritos all hour while I try to help the kids...yeah, she pisses me off, too.  (But you can fire her...the principal just needs to show cause, which is not hard to do).  And sure, there are some folks who take advantage of the system. 

But let me say this--at the end of the day, I'd rather be unionized than not.  I took a sick day today because I wasn't feeling well.  I know that, when I return tomorrow, I will have my classroom and job.  When I was in the private sector legal field, I couldn't say that with confidence. When I was in the legal field, and I had bosses masturbating in their offices and paying me less because of my vagina and not giving me vacation and not letting me leave even though I had nothing to do and threatening to let me go every day, I would have killed for a union. I was so jealous of people who were in unions that I'm sure I said a lot of the things people are saying now. I regret that. But here is what I say now and I will say it until I die--until I can trust management to pay me equally, to respect my rights, to care about my safety, to not fire me at a whim, to not harass me, to understand that I may need a sick day or two...until then, I'll take my union.

What I've Got by a Special Ed Teacher

What I got….

Hi. I’m a special education teacher in the inner city and here is what I got.

 

I got a teaching job which is almost as hard as winning Survivor or marrying the Bachelorette or whatever. Okay maybe not THAT hard, but getting a public school teaching job is tough. It always has been, folks tell me, as there has never been (and likely never will be) a teacher shortage

But I’ve got a great job! I’ve got…

*A killer schedule. I think the teachers do ourselves a disservice when we complain about the job. Let’s be honest—we get 10 weeks off at summer, 2 weeks at Christmastime, 1 week mid-February and one week at Easter.  For some reason, teachers love to yell and scream about how much we work. I’m not sure how that got started but I’ll tell you, you can’t beat this schedule! I think we need to embrace the schedule rather than trying to defend it.

*A job with a guaranteed lunch break and prep/planning hour.  Not all jobs have that.

*A job that allows me to use my creativity and can often be a lot of fun.

 

But here’s what else I got….

*Kids whose basic needs aren’t met.  Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Yeah, me neither. But I know that you needed food, clothing, shelter in order to move on and be satisfied in life.  If our school doesn’t feed some of them breakfast, then they don’t eat.  When some of the kids’ bus is late and they miss breakfast, I have to track down the (very kind and lovely) lunch ladies to get cereal or a breakfast bar and milk.  In the past, I’ve bought socks for kids and made sandwiches to bring home. Because if your basic needs aren’t met, how the hell can you remember your 9s times tables?

 

*Kids with no prior knowledge. I remember my parents talking to me when I was a kid. I know that I went into school I was, if not precocious, I at least had prior knowledge of things. If a teacher said something like, “give me a break!”, I knew that you didn’t literally want to break something.  If a teacher referenced the wider world, I could usually catch on.  Kids in my school don’t have that. They have no idea about well-known books, songs, movies.  They don’t know simple figures of speech. They’ve never read a book before they started school and no one is around to help with homework.  And when your teacher is trying to teach math, like I was today, and when I said, “I know this sounds cheesy guys but….”, half the kids thought that I meant literal cheese.

 

*Learning issues.  The 6th grade teacher at my school is very nice but admittedly knows nothing about math.  Since four kids on my caseload are in that class, I have taken to going in and teaching math to the whole class.  Of 25 kids (only 4 of whom are identified “special needs”), at least 20 are completely lost on any given day.  Fortunately, I am patient and trained in special education methods so I go slowly and break it down to step by step by step (sometimes even reviewing basic addition facts). If I tried to just do a lesson, I would maybe reach 4 or 5 of them…the others literally need step by step instruction, every single day.  I know it wasn’t like this when I was coming up, so what the hell happened?

 

*Schools of Choice. It is no secret that I don’t abide anything other than the old school public school (taxes pay)/private school (parents pay) model.  None of this charter school, academy bullshit.  I hate how they make money off of the backs of students, don’t pay their teachers, kick out troubled or special needs kids but the thing I hate most is how they give too much choice to people who can’t handle it.  Choice is great—too much choice is not.  We have kids who are on their third school this year.  Reasons for moving the kids range from not liking a particular teacher (you aren’t going to like everyone—make it work), the kid was getting “picked on” (who didn’t? I stood up for myself or ignored it and it stopped and it only made me stronger), the kid didn’t like the school (who does?), the school started too early (????), they just didn’t “like” the school, the school wasn’t a “good fit”…lookie here.  Life isn’t a good fit—it’s about making it work.  You aren’t going to like your boss or your job and you might OMG get picked on.  Whatcha gonna do? Quit? Then what? And yeah, yeah, I hear my friends with kids saying that they would move their kid if it was getting picked on or bullied but dude, this happens all over.  The answer is to address it, not to run from it—otherwise, it will never stop.  How does it help a kid for him or her to always be the new kid, always scrambling to meet people, make new friends, catch up?  And for us teachers, we are on the spot knowing that if we tell parents the truth (your kid is failing, for example, or the kid needs to be suspended) and they get mad, they can easily move the kid.  That happens too much and the school shuts down. How do I teach under those circumstances?

 

*Absences.  In my day, we had 10 absences per year, excused or not. When I turned 18, I took great advantage of being able to sign myself out of school and left 5th hour one too many times such that, if I skipped the day of Prom (as I had planned to do), I would fail the class (despite my B average).  So I had to haul my ass up on the day of Prom, go to 5th hour and then dash off for hair and nails and make up.  Now? Doesn’t matter. Kids have to stay home to babysit or because they are moving again or because they just don’t feel like going.  Our truant officer can go out to the house but all you have to do is…

 

*Tell ‘em your homeschooling.  We have the most lax homeschooling laws in the Midwest, if not the nation.  I had a kid whose mom (who, by the way, was making $108,000 tax free dollars for adopting five kids) was on the run from CPS and pulled her kids. When I sent the truant officer to her home, all she said was, “I’m homeschooling” and there wasn’t a thing we could do.  (Oh, and her idea of “homeschooling” was to lock the five kids in the house for a year and a half with no education, no medical care and inadequate nutrition). In Michigan, you don’t need a clean criminal record, a degree, a lesson plan or anything other than being able to say “I’m homeschooling” and then, when the kid turns 18, you can even give them a diploma. Now pretend we had “homedoctoring” where the “doctor” didn’t have to have a degree or anything and could, in fact, perform surgery just by saying, “I’m homedoctoring.”

 

*No stability.  Kids who move every four months, kids who have “uncles” in and out of the house, kids with revolving doors for family members to come in and crash.  I tend to walk around school and smile at kids.  I know it sounds, well, cheesy, but I have no idea what is going on in their home and I might be the nicest person they see all day.  Sometimes I look at the girls and wonder if they are being raped by mom’s boyfriend of the week or if they are so desperate for male attention (from lack of a dad) that they will jump into bed and have unprotected sex with the first guy who waves at them.  Then I look at the boys and wonder if they see their mom giving it up to any guy who walks by, squeezing out kid after kid with man after man and how that affects the way they see women. I look at all of them and wonder if they see their mom getting beaten up and called “bitch” and how that will affect their future relationships.  I look at the pretty girls in the 6th grade class that I work with and I want to just beg them to not have a baby until they are at least 30. 

 

*Kids who were born addicted to crack, alcohol, weed or any combination thereof.  I am here to tell you that when you are born addicted, something is always going to be wrong.  You will have problems of some sort your whole life.  Since your mom lost custody of you at birth, you have that issue to deal with too and, 999 times out of 999, your dad wasn’t anywhere around so there’s that too.  That’s where I come in.  Somehow, I have to help these kids understand and learn.  They may not be able to see or read letters backwards or can’t hear or can’t remember numbers or have trouble walking or can’t retain information for longer than a minute, but I have to do what I can do for them.  I will love them to pieces and will do anything I can for them, but I can’t be their mom. I will say “I love you” back and will bring in cookies and will give hugs and wipe tears but I can’t be their mom because their mom is some crack addict whore who should have her tubes forcibly tied around her neck.  But I’ll do what I can.

 

*Kids who are being raised by folks who are in it for the check.  Parents and guardians of kids with special needs get checks from the government. There are many, many arguments for and against this but I’m not here to debate that.  I’ve seen anything from $550 per month up to $9,000 per month for adopting five “special needs” kids.  The kids don’t see this money and SSI will only cut the check—they won’t check up to see how it’s being spent or if the kid even still has special needs (found this out when another teacher called SSI to report a guardian who wouldn’t take the kid in for a doctor appointment).  For at least one guardian, this isn’t enough to take the kids to a free eye doctor appointment to get free glasses for kids whose vision would be almost perfectly corrected if they had glasses.  So because they don’t have glasses, I enlarge their work, rewrite it with a thick marker or find magnifying glasses for them.

 

*Parents who never got the memo that when you have a kid, shit changes.  When I graduated from college, I knew that my days of sleeping in until 11 were over. Because, you see, graduation was a Life Change. Some parents don’t get that. There are far too few dads, period. While I’m here, I’d like to communicate one thing to women—just because you can have a baby without a steady man (pref. a husband) in your life, doesn’t mean you should.  And please, there’s no need to get back to the club and breeding the moment the afterbirth expels.  This man isn’t going to stick around/marry you/be your Wallet so you can quit work/save you.  And guys, please stick around or else wrap it up. I have seen kids with two parents (gender doesn’t matter) and without two parents and with two parents is almost always better.

 

*Kids who are in the sixth grade and can’t read or write, kids in the 8th grade who are 15 and 16 years old and can’t remember the steps to long division let alone how to figure out a probability problem, kids whose parents don’t speak or write English and can’t help them with homework, kids who have had meningitis, TB, lead poisoning, brain infections, brain tumors, brain cancer and ass whuppins hard enough to leave marks that were the worst I’ve ever seen.  I have software that I can’t get loaded on my computer because no one from the Help Desk will come out or else I can’t afford the software that I desperately need.  I have kids in foster care and 11 year olds being raised by 44 year old grandmas and kids with alcoholic moms and kids whose moms write me notes saying “Dis is so and so’s mom and dis is no write what he done” and kids whose brothers are in jail and kids who yell “I love you Ms. Smith” and who give hugs and say “I love you” after I talk to them for two minutes on the stairs even though we’ve never seen each other before and kids who jump up and down because they finally get a math problem and kids who come to school in clean and pressed uniform clothes even though our school is falling apart and has a burned out house across the street and gang graffiti all over and kids who drag me over to see their science fair posterboard and kids who ask ME how I’M doing even though I’ve got the great life and great job and they got nothing. 

 

I’m any special education teacher in any inner city school district and that’s what I’ve got.

 

 

From my girl Lisa L.--ABC survey

A - Age: 39 on my birthday which is next Thursday

B - Bed size: Queen sized sleigh bed

C - Chore you hate: cleaning my house

D - Don’t eat: meat that is not well done

E - Essential start-your-day item: pee

F - Favorite board game: Monopoly. I'm good with money

G - Gold or Silver: Gold wedding rings, silver necklace

H - Height: 5'8"

I - Instruments you play: skin flute (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha I love myself)

J - Job title: Special ed teacher

K - Kid(s): fuck no

L - Love or lust: both

M - Mom’s name: Judith

N - Nicknames:  Pooh Bear, whatever the kiddos call me when I'm not standing right there

O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: asthma attack at age 12

P - Pants or pantyhose: pants

Q - Favorite Movie Quote: soooo many, from Caddyshack, Office Space, Animal House, Breakfast Club, Pulp Fiction

R - Right or left handed: Right.

S - Siblings: none!

T - Time you wake up: 6:15 if I am Jazzercising, 6:45 if we have staff meeting, 7:45 regular school day, around 10 on non-school days

U - Underwear: cute cotton ones, often try to match with what I'm wearing :)

V - Vegetable favorite: I am not at all a veggie fan but will eat corn without too much complaining

W - Ways you run late: I'm lazy and don't want to get up

X - X-rays you’ve had: many lung ones plus a head CT years ago

Y - Yummy food you make: biscuits, mac'n'cheese, meatloaf, cookies, baked goods

Z - Zoo favorite: polar bears

Summer Songs

Okay I'm really ready for summer to be here.  Not just cuz I get the time off (will be trying to find a part time job...Mondays and Tuesdays would be awesome...I can do that :)) but because I like the weather. (Although once it gets to be about 85 degrees, I'll start bitching about that too.)

There are some songs that remind me of summer, no matter what time of year I listen to them.  Some are obvious, such as Summer Breeze (by Type O Negative or Seals & Croft) or School's Out by Alice Cooper. In fact, I cannot listen to School's Out until about May.  Cruelly, this year is played on Sirius Classic as I backed out of my driveway on September 9th or 10th.  But others require some explanation, so....

1) Heatwave.  Okay yeah, I know this song has the word "heat" right up in the title, but there is a more fun reason why.  My 10th grade bff, Myla, and I discovered the joys of the bulk candy store near our homes.  Naturally, we packed those little bags as full as we could and ate it all in one night that she slept over at my house.  I'm sure we were like little squirrels on meth, bouncing around as if we had springs attached to our asses.  At some point, we put on my record player (yes folks, this was 1987 or 1988; I didn't get my first CD player until 1991) and put on my record (ibid) of the song Heatwave.  We hopped around like the fools that we were and probably wore the record right out.  Now, I must confess that I'm not 100% positive that it was summertime when we did this.  However, in my brain it was summer and so that makes this song qualify for this list.
(While I'm on the subject, the things one remembers--and are POSITIVE about--are interesting to me.  For instance, I swear to God that a friend of mine in college had a radio show that started at 12:01am just so he could play the unedited version of the song Asshole. When Jeff & I met my friend and his wife for dinner a few years ago, my friend had no memory of this and swore it wasn't him.  So who is to say that the sleepover happened and exactly when and how I said it did?)


2) The "10th grade song" trifecta. For some reason, I have extremely fond memories of my 10th grade year.  Couldn't really tell you why except that it was my first year of high school and things were brand shiny new.  Probably because of this, I have very fond memories of what I call "10th grade songs", which were songs that came out (or at least were new to me) circa 1987/1988.  In fact, during my Adrian College DJ years, I would play these songs and always start reiminiscing about the 10th grade songs to the point that my radio partner, completely exasperated, turned to me and said, "Patti, they're ALL tenth grade songs to you. And they can't ALL be tenth grade songs!" Well, she was probably right but still.  Here are three that strike a note of summer in me:  
a.  "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard.  I distinctly remember my same BFF mentioned earlier and I went a joy ridin one day in the summer of 1988.  Of COURSE we drove by the house of the doofus I had a crush on (couldn't tell you his name to save my life so let's call him ABC.)  Giggling and probably about to pee our pants, Myla & I drove by ABC's house a number of times and went back for one more loop when OMGWTFBBQ HOLY FUCKING SHIT the boy himself came walkin round the corner.  I distinctly remember saying, in only the way a 16 year old girl with a crush can say, "What do I do? What do I do?" and Myla saying, "I don't know but turn the car! Turn the car!"  And this was the song that was on the radio that fine summer day. 
b.  "Make Me Lose Control". Okay this is a douchey LAME song and I realize that, but it was on the radio a lot that summer.
c. "Wait" by White Lion.  Yeah, I know it's a hair band.  Yeah, I know they suck hard.  But my first friend to have a car, Alicia (not to be confused with my summer of 12th grade BFF, Aliecia), came by to pick me up so that we could go to her house and work on a science project (measuring the Ph of acids and bases, IIRC).  We of course decided to get some ice cream or something and ended up just driving round the fine cities of Troy & Sterling Heights.  This song was on the radio. I have no idea why I remember this--and indeed at the time, probably never would have guessed that I would have remembered this 20+ years later--but I do. 

3. Just about any Van Halen song.  Seriously, aren't their songs MADE for summer?  Not just Ice Cream Man, Beautiful Girls and Summer Nights, but just in general? Whenever I hear a VH song, I immediately want to be on my back patio, in warm weather, with a bunch of friends, drinking beer.

4.  Southern Cross by C, S & N (or CSN&Y, whatever).  This song specifically reminds me of the summer of 1997, or as I call it, The Summer of the Bar Exam.  That was a shitty fuckin summer in some ways.  I had this cool internship that, like all internships, paid at the poverty level.  And I had to study for the Bar, which was the 5th hardest Bar in the country at the time (not sure about now).  Since I, like an idiot, went to law school in Wisconsin where you are automatically on the Bar just by graduating, I knew NOTHING about Bar exams.  Imagine MY surprise when I graduated in December of 1996 (after the two worst years of my life thus far...imagine an extrovert being forced into being an introvert--the horror) and came home to find out that before I could even APPLY for most jobs, I had to be a member of the Bar.  So I had to hustle to get registered, take prep classes and get time off of my internship to prepare.  For some reason, I heard the song "Southern Cross" a lot on the radio.  The line "and we never failed to fail...it was the easiest thing to do" resonated with me because I fully expected to fail the fuckin thing (I didn't btw, I passed!!)  Every time I would hear the song, I would jam up that line.  It also reminds me of my friend Wade, with whom I studied for the Bar and who I guess was my BFF that summer (are you seeing a pattern here?).  We had as much fun as one could studying for that damned thing.

5.  Crush by Dave Matthews.  Let me start by saying that I hate DMB.  Douchebags, douchebags every where and the world did sink.  Yuck. Total tools they are.  But I heard this song in the summer of 1999 and didn't know who it was by (this was before Sirius told you ever song and artist).  And this of course was the summer that I fell in love with Jeff!  And I had quite the crush on him and in fact, emailed him about how much I loved that song and it made me think of him :)  I do clearly remember driving to the post office from my law office and getting lost even though I had been there a hundred other times.  I had my mind on other things, people!!  Having not fallen in love since, this is my last memory of that lovely free-falling crazy silly goofy feeling.  So even though I do not abide DMB, I will allow him this song simply because it reminds me of Jeff, who I guessed you'd say became my BFF for life!

So I think what I'm really saying is that I need summer BFFs! Who wants the job?????

  

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