Saturday, October 12, 2019

Meanwhile, in Haterfield

I'm quite sure you three regular readers are tired of hearing about the ugly new houses that were built across the street from me. They've been done for awhile, and I've been about as passive-aggressive as I could be about it.

But yesterday I arrived at my home to find that the Borough of Haterfield had planted this:

EXHIBIT A: CONSOLATION PRIZE


I'm no expert on trees, but this little maple looks like it's suffering from about 10 major diseases. I don't care. I'm going to throw my whole heart and soul into keeping it alive and thriving.

This is a borough tree, meaning that it will be pruned by the town. They will even give us the "gator bag" for watering next summer. I got a nice little note through the letter box telling me all about it.

Today I ran into a neighbor who sits on the Planning Board in town. He said that my street was the last one in the whole town to get an ugly tear down and re-build. All the other streets had already gotten one (or many). And since this giant driveway was installed, the town has changed the laws about big ugly driveways. Figures. But oh well, la di dah! I got a tree!

Today was a banner day in Haterfield. Our dinosaur sculpture turned 16. That means it's been about 18 years since I started leaving toy dinosaurs at the historical site on the edge of town. (Some of this blog's most devoted readers will remember about that.)  Happy birthday, Hadrosaurus fucku!

EXHIBIT B: HATERFIELD'S CLAIM TO FAME


One thing I can say about this statue is, it's life-size. This was a formidable critter. Life was probably better then, when herds of these things browsed some ferns and minded their own damn business.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

When the Anxiety Is Justified

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," melting down like ice cream on a sidewalk since November 2016! I'm your anxiety-plagued hostess, Anne Johnson, and are you as nuts as me?

First I thought that the office of the presidency would hold so much gravitas that even Donald Trump would assume a mantle of dignity. Nope! That hope was dashed in about 20 minutes.

Then I thought that members of his party would stand up to his outrageous behavior and school him on his adolescent tweets. Didn't happen.

Then I thought the Muller report would show that he cheated his way into the White House. It didn't.

Then I thought wiser heads would school and advise him on foreign policy. They did ... and got fired.

Finally I thought he would do some blatantly impeachable thing that would turn everyone against him. He did it. He got away with it. He'll keep doing it.

Oh my Gods I am melting down. Our country is falling off a cliff. A third of the citizens don't give a flying fuck, and another third are pushing it so it falls faster.

I read somewhere (don't have a link, this is a blog, don't need a link, why should I have one when the creepers don't bother) ... emmm ... I read somewhere that anxiety is actually a positive genetic trait. Anxious people are planners who assume the worst to try to keep it from happening. There's a need for people like this, because if the whole human race was blithe, everyone would be surprised when shit hits the fan.

At the same time, anxious people get criticized for "looking on the dark side." Okay, motherfucker, I look on the dark side! And guess what? It's dark! There's no "things will all work out" here! My anxiety about this loathsome beast in the White House was perfectly, completely, and utterly justified. He is worse than my nightmares predicted.

Now is when it pays to be anxious. At least I know shit-hitting-fan when it comes. I expected it all along.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Anne's Sanity Protector

Good afternoon, and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Wowsa, wowsa, wowsa, I'm taking a trip down memory lane! I'm here at the Haterfield Library on one of the desktops. We had a whopper of a storm last night, and it fried our boxy box that gives us internet at home. Nearly fried the tree outside too. An eventful Saturday night!

Equinox has come and gone, and the dark is descending. It's early in a long school year, and our Fearless Leader has proven yet again that he truly is stupidly fearless.

And so I turn to my blankie.

When I was a stripling, my mother had bipolar disorder before there were any effective medications for it. The good ol' home was in turmoil. Whenever I could I escaped to the mountains, to be with my grandparents.

Grandma loved to embroider. She taught me how. I embroidered a jean jacket that is now the (much admired) centerpiece of daughter Fair's wardrobe. And it is indeed "vintage," like its maker.

A few weeks ago I learned that Mr. J's youngest sister is expecting her first tot in January. I went to the craft store (NOT Hobby Lobby) and bought one of those cheesy baby quilts that you cross stitch/embroider. These are made for grannies to craft. The stitches are large and the colors are few. And it's so doggone therapeutic. Takes me away from the computer and, mostly, the telly. I can sit on the front porch with my back to the fuckin ugly McMansions across the street, and I can stitch by the hour, only pausing to swat the clouds of voracious New Jersey mosquitoes.

I'm making a blankie for a tot. It's a huge project. I won't be on here as much talking to y'all, but I'll find time for updates.

In the meantime, here are some of the books I ordered for my classroom and paid for with your generous donations:

1. Dime, by E. R. Frank
2. Tyrell, by Coe Booth
3. Bronxwood, by Coe Booth
4. Boy Toy, by Barry Lyga
5. The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo
6. The Education of Margot Sanchez, by Lilliam Rivera
7. Street Pharm, Snitch, and Takedown, all by Allison Van Diepen
8. Among the Hidden series by Margaret Peterson
9. A Child Called It, by Dave Pelzer

I actually got multiple copies of some of these, because they are the "best seller" books in my classroom. Oh yeah! I forgot! My Bloody Life, by Reymundo Sanchez, about being a Latin King. I'm gonna be really, really careful about who sees that!

Back to my blankie that I'm stitching. I was thinking of embroidering "Resist" on one of the hemlines, but what do you think? Does one really want to encourage a baby to resist? They might take it literally and be a real little blister.

Love to all,
Anne

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Let's Call Them Kavanaughs

Hello and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where the first whiff of late summer is (briefly) in the air! It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Sort of.

Every year in September, the borough of Haterfield trots out a nice binge -- a flea market and a book sale on the same morning. I can't deal with the Haterfield book sale (crowded with dealers, high prices for used white people books), but the flea market is always a nice stroll. Also, every Saturday there's a farmer's market with local produce. All in all, this Saturday was a morning to toddle around the ol' village and take the air.

First I went to the flea market, which was chock a block with the stuff the millennials won't buy -- and I don't blame them. The place was pretty crowded with shoppers, many of them older than me. And right through this throng of tottering seniors came a male in the prime of life, riding his bike. Not slowly, either.

"Rude," I thought to myself. "He could knock someone down."

Hard on his heels, also on bicycles, came several strapping white teenagers, also riding too quickly for the foot traffic.

"Damn!" I thought. "Can't these kids see all these older people?"

Answer: Nope, they are blinded by privilege.

Matters became more fraught when I made my way to the farmer's market. It's packed into a smallish court, with not much room for pedestrians and the merchants. And wouldn't you know, here came another pack of white teenagers on bikes, scattering mayhem in their wake.

That's when I thought of the name. I hope it becomes used far and wide.

I dubbed them "Kavanaughs." As in a Supreme Court justice who would have done the same damn thing at the same damn age.

The name was so catchy that, when the last kid passed me, I said, "Watch out, Your Honor."

And then when another one passed me as I walked home, I sing-songed "KAVANAUGH" and said, "Your Honor!" to the blithe and blond brat.

From now on, that's what I'm going to call these shitty wastes of genetic material. If a teenager of color did this in Haterfield, he would be sternly warned and possibly ticketed. But who's going to discipline Biff? No one. The world is his oyster, and perhaps it always will be.

I think Haterfield should have a club called Future Supreme Court Justices of America. Just a modest proposal.


Sunday, September 15, 2019

About Those Books - Again

If it weren't for y'all, I'd be up the creek.

I'm back in school now. Temperatures are still cresting to the high 80's, and my classroom has no air conditioning. With the fans going, it's like a convection oven. But it is September, and the weather is bound to break in a few weeks.

School opened, but the school library didn't. It's closed until further notice. I mean, closed. Individual kids can't even go in to check out a book.

Over the summer, the buildings & grounds crew started a renovation of the library that still isn't finished. They took out the carpeting and put in laminate floors. The best part is, they removed the book shelves and didn't put them back in. The director of buildings & grounds wanted the library to look open and spacious. This meant removing the entire nonfiction collection.

Oh, and we just got a new librarian. She is 23 and looks like a Bambi just before the SUV plows into it on the highway.

Long story short, I am charged with improving the literacy of 70 students, without access to the library.

Can you imagine how grateful I am for the book donations y'all sent? Close your eyes and think of the cutest kitten in the world. That's how I feel about you.

I'm not forgetting the folks who sent me paper, either. My colleagues are using the photocopier to "make" loose leaf paper.

Ah, September. I love it! Said no teacher ever.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The America-Hating Left

Can you believe the leader of the Free World calls a portion of the population of the nation "America-hating Left?"

I support left-wing policies, but that doesn't mean I hate America. I'm just as patriotic as the next schlub out there. Hey, I know the lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner! That puts me way ahead of the pack.

When Donald Trump was elected, I silently hoped that the gravity of the position of president would work on his higher instincts. Fat chance of that. The old coot was set in his ways, kind of like a stretch of sidewalk. What he was then, he is now: an aging celebrity with a big mouth.

I've written a lot of things about Donald Trump. I've called him old, fat, conceited, ignorant, ugly, uncouth, illiterate, and tasteless. But I have never accused him of hating America. He doesn't hate America. He really isn't thinking about America. He's focused on his ratings, and he needs to foment hate to get the crowd pumped up.

I've got a news flash for the Trump pestilence: There's a difference between hating America and hating you. Contrary to your bloated sense of self-worth, you are not equivalent to America. You're a human being. A particularly loathsome human being, but one nevertheless.

And yes indeed, Donald, I hate you. I'm embarrassed by your behavior, I'm concerned about your lack of expertise that extends even to the way you wear your neckties, and I'm worried about the upcoming fallout from your ineptitude. I would like nothing better than to see you turn purple and keel over at one of your despicable rallies, preferably before uttering the opening remarks.

To summarize this sermon, Donald Trump is a man. He is not a nation. I hate him. I do not hate America.

Gods bless America!

For those of you who donated books, I will put a list up here on "The Gods Are Bored" very soon. The books have arrived, and tomorrow, 70 inner-city teenagers will be tucking into them, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. If you still want to contribute to the cause, I'll be posting another wish list after I read some of the most recent batch of urban YA books. Wowsa, you wouldn't believe how explicit some of them are! I have to fan my menopausal face!

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Friends

You know how it is. You're sitting in the dining room with a cup of tea and the newspaper ...

Wait. This dates me.

You know how it is. You're sitting at the island with a solo cup and your phone, and you start feeling sorry for yourself. You start wondering why you don't have any friends.

Earlier this summer, I was wondering why I didn't have any friends. Of course, I had the answer. I'm not a bit sociable. When you spend your whole day entertaining teenagers, it's hard to find energy on the weekends to lift a teacup (or solo cup), let alone socialize like a normal person.

I was really and truly convinced that my years of having friends and being a friend had passed me by. From now on it would be family and cat. Crickets when the weather starts to cool.

And then came August, when I was told I could just forget ordering any books for my classroom.

The first hint that I'm not friendless came on this blog, when I issued my shameless plea for school supplies. Loose leaf paper started arriving at my door. Then books. Lots of books. Including books that are appropriate for sophomores!

All of this generosity served to remind me that I have good pals out there on the World Wide Web. Even if I haven't met them. What does that matter? They're friends.

Then something else happened. My daughter The Fair had a show that she wrote and directed make its debut in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. The show (now over) had a run of four nights.

At first I wasn't even going to mention the show on my Facebook, but I broke down and posted something about the production, and if any of my friends wanted to see it, they should hit me up.

They did.

On Wednesday night, my friends Buzz and Patti McLaughlin joined the Johnson family for the debut. I met Buzz and Patti at the Two Street Stompers Mummers club. So I've only known them about six years -- but it seems like they're family. Like I found myself with a brother and sister-in-law that I never knew I had, but suddenly they just appeared.

EXHIBIT A: BUZZ (LEFT), NOT DRESSED FOR THE SHOW



On Friday night, my friend Diane Rugala went with me to the show. We worked together at the Vo-Tech for about four years until she retired last year. We were thick while working, finding that our political views go together like a hand and glove. It was a pleasure to take the El train with her, and she really enjoyed the show.

EXHIBIT B: DIANE AND ANNE ON ANOTHER OCCASION



On Saturday, for the matinee, my good, long-time Mountain Tribe faerie friend Pam drove all the way from Maryland, and then had to take the El train to the theater all by herself -- having not set foot in Philadelphia since a heavily-supervised 8th grade field trip -- to come to the show.

EXHIBIT A: ANNE, MR. J, PAM, and FAIR AFTER THE MATINEE, PHILADELPHIA FRINGE FESTIVAL



The bored gods have taken time out of their busy schedules to remind me that I do indeed have friends, and they're straight-up swell friends at that. The Fair's play was not free admission. It was a regular Fringe offering, with tickets. These friends of mine traveled to Philly, bought tickets, and saw the play.

If you combine that with the largesse for my school that has floated to my door, you will agree I need not be crying in my tea, or my solo cup, over the newspaper or the IPhone, because I don't have friends.

If you contributed to my classroom library (or paper), and you didn't get a thank-you note, drop me an email at
annejohnson17211@gmail.com

because I don't want to miss any friends!