Wednesday, December 27, 2017

President Johnson, Third of Her Name

Welcome to the White House! I'm President Johnson, newly appointed. If you're just joining us, I have been given the responsibility of running the free world. There I was, just standing in the school cafeteria, and some very earnest men in dark suits asked me to change professions. Considering that I am never deemed a "distinguished" teacher in any of my evaluations (the best I can eke out is "proficient"), I thought I'd give being president a shot. Maybe I'll be a distinguished president!

I took over a few weeks ago. Do you know how many fabulous perks go with this job? I mean, to someone who already lives in the lap of luxury, the office of president might not be so cushy. To me it's like ... wow! Take Camp David, for instance. There it sits, nestled in the mountains west of Washington, DC, easy to get to, easy to guard, and light on the taxpayer pocketbook. Nice place! So that's were I spent the holidays with my close family. Wow, you should see the tasteful upholstery on the furniture and feel the whisper-soft towels lying in handy piles around the indoor pool. I could get used to living like this!

But now it's back to work. My first order of business has been to veto -- most emphatically -- the new tax bill sent to me by both houses of Congress. They're kidding, right?  Pretty much all this thing does is pay back the donor class and corporations for all the money they've spent on elections for their flunkies. Back to work Congress! First you have to convince me that we need to cut taxes, because what I think we need is to launch a major upgrade of infrastructure ... and that will cost a lot of money.

 Remember when you send me legislation to sign that I'm an appointed president, not an elected one. I'm not beholden to any special interest groups. So there!

Another pressing issue has come to my desk. My predecessor crafted a national defense report that excised climate change as a threat to our nation. Preposterous! You want to see a world in upheaval, just let the globe get hotter and hotter. So I'm restoring climate change as a major source of international tensions, possibly posing real danger for America and her safety.

One final little bit of work today and then I'll kiss some babies and give plaques to Girl Scouts. These judicial nominees being proposed? OUT WITH THE LOT OF THEM! I want a diverse judiciary with lots of experience and no damn political agenda! Either way! They are judges, not partisans. Send me people who have not been endorsed by any think tank anywhere.

For the record, I have a Twitter account, but I do not use it. I don't intend to start.

Also for the record, I don't play golf. I've got nothing particular against it, I would just rather hike.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Solstice 2017

Oh, these dreary days, these long, long nights! We try to push back the darkness by covering our homes with lights and bringing trees inside. And apparently it works, because by this time next week, the daylight will be returning, slowly at first and then in great gobs.

I'm sure all of us would love to go to a henge and see this sight. It's not always possible, though. Well, as luck would have it, there is a way to orient yourself so that you absolutely face the rising sun over Solstice Stonehenge.

Some extremely intelligent individual (not unlike the readers of this blog) has come up with a worldwide map of every single street that aligns with the Stonehenge solstices! Imagine that! You can find the site here.

I used the site to locate my city in North America, and what did my wondering eyes behold? A series of aligned streets are clustered around my school! It's quite a coincidence, too. It's not like Camden's city founders said, "Hey, let's lay our streets out so that, if you face east on winter solstice, you'll line up with Stonehenge! There aren't very many streets in my metro area that fit the bill. What an absolute joy that the little residential streets around the Vo-Tech are among the chosen few!

Snobville has one aligned street, too. If a girl were to get up at 3:00 a.m. to go face east and commune with Stonehenge energy, that Snobville street is closest.

But day to day, while I'm working, what a joy to know that a street I can see from my classroom window aligns with Stonehenge! This boosts my spirits.

A blessed Solstice to you, whatever your path. I hope your street is on the Stonehenge alignment grid.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

We Interrupt This Presidency

It is with deep sorrow that I mark the passing of Beta Cat from the apparent world. She was old, and something went wrong inside, and you know how cats are ... she sat hunched up, eyes scrunched, ear tips cold. I took her to the vet, and they said there was something wrong inside, very wrong indeed. So Olivia came from Philadelphia, and we were both there to say goodbye.

Beta was a real yodeler, so the house is very quiet now. It's hard to even want to be at home. The holidays, never a happy time in my reckoning, will be even harder now.

Presidential duties will resume in a few days.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

President Anne Johnsoon Articulates Her Political Philosophy

My fellow Americans,

You must recall that I did not ask to be spirited away to the White House to become president in the wake of the wreckage known as Donald Trump. I was just minding my own business, standing in the Vo Tech cafeteria, watching students eat breakfast and get ready for their day.

But here I am, and the New York Times wants to know my political philosophy. So, okay, I took one philosophy course in college (pass/fail) and zero political science courses. What do I know? Well, I know more than the guy I'm replacing ... but that's a low bar indeed.

This is how I feel about democracy:

Democracy is ideally a rule by the citizens of the republic, through elected officials who compete for votes on ideological -- not personal -- grounds. In order for a democracy to work, you need two solid ingredients:

*an educated electorate, and
*a system that is free from financial taint

I would say our electorate is fairly well educated (could be better). But our system is mired in financial taint. A small number of extremely wealthy individuals exercise an out-sized influence on our elections. (I won't even get into the Russians. I'll have some choice things to say about them in due time.)

As president I want to restore America to a true democracy. In order to do it, I will need to:

*put an end to Citizens United and other inappropriate financial influence in elections, and
*discourage partisan bickering for television ratings.

There's nothing more disheartening, my fellow Americans, than knowing that wildfires are burning out of control in California, but the nightly news on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC is all yak yak yak either in favor of, or against, the president. I personally do not know anyone who thinks it's a good idea for corporations and individuals to be able to buy political candidates and market them like breakfast cereal, then prop them up so that commercial sponsors can make money from worried people watching opinionated newscasts. Our elected officials should serve the good of the nation, not the whims of the super-rich and the media conglomerates!

Now, as to the government itself, my philosophy is that you can't rack up mountains of debt for future generations. (This would, at one time, have made me a conservative.) But the way to balance the national budget is not to cut taxes for anyone. People have to pay taxes! It's a fact of life. It's expensive to run a government properly, so that every citizen gets treated with respect and compassion. (This makes me a liberal.)

My administration will absolutely and gleefully veto the "tax reform" bill that is whizzing through the house like the Road Runner on a desert highway. For now we will keep taxation as it is.

Any true reform requires negotiation and cooperation. True public servants think first of ordinary people and how they will fare, not their "donors." I'm going to curb this whole donor mess, first thing. One person, one vote. Don't like it? Book a flight and scram.

This is the word of President Johnson, third of her name!

Oh, and by the way ... from today forward, everyone will wear their underwear on the outside of their clothing! I saw that once in a movie and thought it was an awesome idea.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The President Sneaks Out

It's been just about a week since a cluster of men in impeccable suits arrived at my urban public school and ushered me to the White House, where I was asked to serve as the president of the United States.

All sort of sudden, you know? I was still wearing my Vo Tech teacher ID when they escorted me into the Oval Office!

First thing I said was, "Take that painting of Andrew Jackson down! Put it in the attic." And it was done, just like that! Hey, I'm a school teacher. I'm used to spending five minutes just getting everyone to open their books to page 52.

Then some butler type sidled up and said, "Madame President, what would you like us to hang in the place of that painting?"

And I said, "Well, I have a picture at home with a California condor. Send for it, please. It will be the perfect backdrop for when I reinstate Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante as National Monuments in full. Oh, and while you're at it, grab my bedside Salmon of Wisdom that Olivia gave me. It will symbolize how the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will only be drilled over my dead and rotting corpse."

It's really daunting, suddenly being expected to lead the free world. My predecessor was unprepared for the task. As for me, well, if you've ever been able to command the undivided attention of 25 teenagers, you are eminently suited to running a cabinet meeting. That's a handful of adults! Think they're going to be texting in their laps?

Speaking of cabinet appointees, I was all ready to get to work on that when I remembered that this weekend was the annual Phoenixville Firebird Festival! I go every year with my daughter, Gumby. Well, we weren't going to miss this event, no sirree.

Kind of nice that I haven't done many public appearances yet, because the Secret Service gave Gumby and me leave to do our own thing. And it was snowing! Without expending one taxpayer dollar, Gumby and I drove out to Phoenixville, had supper at Speck's Chicken, and then went in the snow to watch the citizens burn down a giant bird they had built out of plywood! It was so magical in the snowstorm! I didn't get any good photographs, because my new government-issued phone had a faulty battery.

It's customary for presidents to keep their families close by as they govern. Heck, I could give Gumby her own office, or even make her attorney general. But not my Gumby. My gentle Gumby is going to live her life completely free from the limelight, a free bird like the Phoenix!

Gumby and I tend to do the same things over and over again, without expecting or wanting different results. We go to the Firebird Festival every year. The only novelty this year was that we spent the night in Phoenixville, so I wouldn't have to drive all the way back to Washington, DC after the bird burned. On Sunday morning, I dropped Gumby off in West Philly. We always have a swell time together.

I did ask her if she wanted to work in national government. She said no thanks, she didn't want to uproot her rescue cat. He gets nervous with any change and starts pulling at his fur.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

President Johnson's First Press Conference

It has only been a few brief days since I was plucked from the obscurity of a teaching job at a public school and installed here in the White House as President Johnson the Third! Yes, Andrew, Lyndon, and now me! It's a fine American name. For the record, I'm not related to Andrew or Lyndon.

I will be appointing a presidential press secretary soon, and in fact I have a prominent person in mind for the job, if he will take it. In the meantime, I'm here to answer some questions myself! Yes ... you with the cross-eyes and sneer ... go ahead!

Sean Hannity: Johnson, is it true that you are a Satan-worshiper who kills kittens in pentagrams while plotting a socialist overthrow with Bernie Sanders?

President Johnson: You rude little man! If I did indeed worship Satan (which I most emphatically don't), it would be none of your business, or the nation's business, or anyone's business but my own! Yes, my first act as President of the United States is to declare a Church-State Separation of proportions not seen since Thomas Jefferson took scissors to the Bible! By executive order I am removing "under God" from the pledge of allegiance and restoring "e pluribus unum" as our nation's motto. Effective immediately!

Sean Hannity: What an outrage! You are a Godless communist!

Anne: Wrong again! I'm as far from Godless as you can get. Matter of fact, I glory, laud, and honor hundreds of deities from multiple pantheons and every part of the planet! See that spider crawling up your pants leg? That's Anansi. You'd better be respectful, or ...

(Sean Hannity faints. Anansi chortles with glee.)

President Johnson: This is more fun than I thought it would be, and a lot easier than teaching school! Next question?

Bob Woodward: I'm Bob Woodward from the Washington Post.

President Johnson: I know you. You rock! You were my mother's favorite journalist, and I've always felt warmth for you. What's your question?

Bob Woodward: What are you going to do about the Paris Climate Accord?

President Johnson: I'm so glad you asked! Effective immediately, I mean like yesterday, the United States is rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. Not only that, we will be taking a leading role -- as well we should -- in reducing carbon emissions by investing in clean energy sources like solar and wind. Oil and coal have served their purpose, I'm sorry to say, and the few of you billionaires who have reaped stacks and stacks and stacks from exploiting those resources will just have to live on your investments. As for workers in the coal and oil fields, this nation will re-train you somehow, so you can pursue healthy careers! Are any of you interested in construction? Because our nation's infrastructure is a global joke.

New York Times: President Johnson, could you please articulate your governance philosophy?

President Johnson: To be brutally honest, I'll have to get back to you on that. This whole president thing is new to me. But I promise to think deeply about it. Better yet, I intend to have in-depth conversations with thoughtful and decent people of both parties, as well as selected state governors and the former presidents who deserve a respectful ear. (Of course this does not include the slobbering dotard I'm replacing.) If I'm going to be president, I'm going to listen to sensible ideas and not be swayed by the crazy fringe groups or paid lobbyists. Let me just add that the salary y'all are giving me to run the free world is WAY higher than anything I've ever earned, and it will be quite enough to satisfy me, especially since it comes with health care and housing!

Reporter: But what about your years and years of blogging the most outrageous left-wing rhetoric and the most ideologically impure religious doctrines? You don't fit in any religion anywhere! You're all over the place!

President Johnson: I know. Isn't it wonderful? Gods bless America!

Monday, December 04, 2017

America's First Female President but Third Named Johnson

My fellow Americans,

My name is Anne Johnson, and I am humbled to have been asked to be President of the United States. I am here to begin a path of healing and prosperity for our wonderful, magnificent nation. I can't say why I was plucked from the obscurity of an urban vocational/technical school in Camden, New Jersey to be the chief executive, but hey ... I have a college education! And I was born here! (Anne shows her birth certificate and passport.)

I know you must have a million questions for me, but first I want you to get to know me as a person. I'll be moving in to the White House with the First Gentleman, Mr. J. He is an award-winning author with a deep respect for the Fourth Estate, seeing as how he made his living as a reporter for 30 years. I expect he will be clothed by Brooks Brothers, which now he will be able to afford to purchase new instead of at the thrift store. Mr. J will be in charge of hosting championship sports teams, the Easter Egg Roll, and  ... cough cough ... the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, which will have its budget increased ... emmmmm ... Oh, yes! Mr. J is an upright citizen, also born in the USA (shows birth certificate and passport).

My older daughter, Gumby, will continue to pursue her own artistic endeavors from her home base of Philadelphia. She requested anonymity, thank you very much, and she's not too keen about the Secret Service (nor are they keen about West Philly).

My younger daughter, Olivia, has replaced Matt Lauer on the Today Show, from which she will likely move to Saturday Night Live at some point. Please be advised that Olivia's views and mine don't always dovetail -- you know, she's young and hip, while I'm square as fuck.

Oh, shit. I forgot. Presidents don't curse in public! Sorry.

I'm sure the press (especially Fox News) will scan my background thoroughly for damaging details information regarding my oh-so-ordinary life. Up front I will tell you that I've never grabbed anyone by any appendage beyond offering a hearty handshake. The thing I'm most ashamed of in my past? I bought a parrot and kept it in a cage. Deeply regretful about that.

I smoked pot -- and inhaled -- in college. Haven't done it since. I haven't had a drop of alcohol (with the exception of New Years Day, when I'm in the Mummers Parade) in more than five years. There are no outstanding violations of the law whatsoever in my resume! Go ahead. Check it out.

So ... I will also be bringing to the White House my two darling kitties, Beta and Gamma. (There was once an Alpha, she is with Ceiling Cat now.) Beta is a senior torby, and Gamma is a fluffy orange male. Even though Gamma is three times Beta's size, it's Beta who is in charge! Between them I'm sure they will take care of all those pesky vermin problems that have only gotten worse in recent months.

One last thing before I move on to your questions. Here are my tax returns from 1980 until the present. Yes, every single year. You see, Mr. J is rather a stickler about keeping old papers piled up all over the place, and our tax returns are among them. Take a look! I have nothing to hide!

My favorite television show is American Pickers, my favorite color is taupe, and I'm a Pisces.

Any questions about my personal life?

Sunday, December 03, 2017


Every morning from 7:04 to 7:34 I stand in my school's cafeteria and supervise the free breakfast students receive. (I think the food service provides the breakfast, not the government.)

The cafeteria isn't a hot spot for trouble first thing in the morning. The students come in, get their food, eat it, and usually they leave. I find myself daydreaming sometimes as I look out over all those youngsters who probably would have skipped breakfast altogether if they didn't get it this way.

I imagine that some men in dark suits come up to me and say, "Ms. Johnson, you are urgently needed to take over the presidency of the United States of America." And off I go with them to the White House.

Do you ever think about this? What you would do if they just asked you to step in?

What would I, Anne Johnson, do?

First I would introduce the people of the USA to my two lovely cats, Beta and Gamma. Nothing humanizes a leader like a pet.


Oh, I get all kinds of good ideas about what I would do and say if I suddenly became the third President Johnson! I won't bog you down with it all. Suffice it to say that my administration would be compassionate and fair-minded and environmentally friendly, and the upholstery in the White House would all be tasteful and easy to maintain!

Beyond introducing my cats to the American people, I'm only certain of one other thing about my presidency: I would not Tweet. As a sober stateswoman and servant of the people, I would deep-six that nonsense right off the bat.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Pity Poor Beta

Trigger alert: This post describes a sick kitty cat, including symptoms.


Ordinarily you might be a tad annoyed if your cat relieved herself on one of your hoodies (albeit left on the floor all day). But if that hoodie had some wine-colored spots on it, you might look at it as a great way to find out your itty bitty kitty is ill.

Beta came to my back yard as a feral kitten, 16 years ago. She grew up feral and produced a fine litter of kittens before Olivia tamed her. We took the kittens to the shelter (they were adorable and adoptable), but we kept Beta. She's a plain Jane, getting grizzled with age.


Long story short, I got home from work Thursday evening, and Beta was clearly sick. The vet gave me a 6:30 appointment.

(I'm sure you've noticed that even if a cat is on the Grim Reaper's doorstep, they can still fight going into that cat carrier.)

Off we went to the vet, and the first question they asked was, "Is she under stress?" Apparently stress causes the scary illness she had developed.

I said, "I can't think of anything that's out of the ordinary in our house or our routine." And there isn't. Beta gets her cans and her cot, she pushes Gamma around even though he's literally three times her size, and she is adored by her people.

Beta's treatment at the vet took quite awhile. We were there two hours -- so you can imagine the $$$$$.

At the end, as I was whipping out the Care Credit card, the vet gave me a flyer about Beta's illness.

When I got home, I read the flyer.

One cause of stress listed is construction outside.

Two years ago, my neighbors across the street sold their house to a developer who  plans to build two houses on the lot. Maybe I've mentioned this before. Well, nothing at all happened for the first 18 months, but just last month a gigantic machine arrived and demolished the 90-year-old house in three hours' time. Since then the builders have poured a foundation, and the property is a mad mess.

One day about three weeks ago, I saw Beta cross the road to the construction site. (She would never cotton being an indoor cat ... I didn't even try.)

It never occurred to me until I read that flyer: The property across the street is part of Beta's territory. There hasn't been another cat or dog on that lot for about six years. The place was probably even more inviting when the house stood empty and was the same as always. And now it's gone, replaced by huge mounds of dirt, piles of gravel, and noisy men with noisier machines.

Damn! It's causing me stress! Why wouldn't it stress poor Beta?

I feel like I ought to send the vet bill to the developer, but Mr. J disagrees. He thinks I should send it to the neighbor who sold the property in a hurry, knowing that a lovely old house and a two-car garage with a full apartment above it would be razed. Who does such a thing? Those people raised five kids in that house!

Anyway, someone should pay for poor little Beta. Who owes me money?

I'm still waiting to hear back from the vet about Beta's blood work, but I'm considering that a good sign.  She seems better today ... a little bit on the nod from the opiates, but she ate her vittles and purred while I told her not to worry, our house will not be demolished.

I'll keep you posted on her progress.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Just a Minute Navel Gaze

Don't read this. It's just a recording of one day of my life. Pretty much a typical day for a school teacher.

*5:45-6:45 showered, dressed, fed cats, fed blue jays, made tea and bagel, put on a little bit of makeup, brushed teeth.
*6:45-6:55 drove to work
*6:55-7:04 signed in main office, signed in assistant principals' office, took home room folder to classroom, posted learning targets, went to cafeteria
*7:04-7:34 cafeteria duty, watching students, greeting students, monitoring behavior
*734-7:50 home room, pledged flag (partial), re-iterated directions for tomorrow's dress down day, took attendance, called library to see if it was open to students, filled out missing ID and lanyard forms, got students started reading, checked email and responded as needed
*7:50-8:30 while students read and/or finished up their memoirs, reviewed all finished memoirs in Google Classroom, made notes in margin, created general notes for the viewing screen, monitored student reading, sent students to library/guidance/nurse/bathroom
*8:30-8:40 reviewed guidelines for student memoir, reminded students to capitalize "I" and all proper names (these are 9th graders)
*8:40-9:00 answered questions, reviewed memoirs, exhorted students to finish, and when finished to submit their pieces
*9:00-9:15 student volunteers shared memoirs with the class. Every one had missed capitalizing at least two "I" pronouns
*9:15-9:45 parent conference in guidance office
*9:45-10:00 distributed union updates to my assigned wing of the building (15 teachers)
*10:00-10:30 got students started reading, checked emails, reviewed all memoirs and made notes as needed, encouraged students who weren't finished to catch up
*10:30-10:40 exhorted students to take one last long look at their peer-reviewed work and make sure all capitalization had been done correctly and the assignment covered all the requirements
*10:40-10:50 students did final proofread and submitted work
*10:50-11:10 volunteer students shared memoirs with class. Every one had missed capitalizing at least two "I" pronouns
*11:10-11:15 showed gratitude video.
*11:15-11:20 modeled gratitude chart and letter of thanks
*11:20-11:30 circulated the classroom to make sure all students were on task
*11:30-12:00 lunch
*12:00-1:00 read writer's notebooks (with 70 total, now had 20 left to read, finished 5)
*1:00-1:30 tried to get students to settle down and read, had to raise my voice, had to distribute multiple bathroom/nurse/library passes, one student continued working on his memoir
*1:30-1:45 thoroughly reviewed assignment parameters and reminded students they had all seen examples of "A" work ... students submitted their "D" work proudly, convinced they were geniuses
*1:45-2:10 volunteer students (lots of them) read their "D" work proudly ... strangely all "I" pronouns were capitalized, I suspect the inclusion teacher must have been on them about it
*2:10-2:15 tried fruitlessly to get everyone's attention
*2:15-2:20 showed gratitude video
*2:20-2:30 tried fruitlessly to get students to make gratitude chart, at bell students leaped from the room like racehorses
*2:30-4:35 packed up chrome books and read writers notebooks, commented on each, submitted marking period grades and progress notes, reviewed possible articles for use next week, searched online for related content
*4:35-4:40 talked to secretary who had also come in at 6:55 a.m. about the meaning of life
*4:45-5:00 drove home

It's now 5:45 and I have to make dinner. Then I will need to do further research for articles matching the content of the one I want to use on Monday.

The Gods are exhausted.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Damned Woman in the Grocery Store!

So there I was, at 5:00 on a Friday evening, standing in line at the Snobville grocery store. It's less than a week until Thanksgiving, and the strain of actually having to cook is already showing on the faces of the kept women of Snobville.

Did these females spend the week trying to keep fractious 14-year-olds from tripping, elbowing, smacking, or pushing each other? Do they have 50 writers' notebooks to read between now and next Wednesday? Are they dealing with angry parents who have stopped blaming themselves for their kids' behavior and are now blaming me? Are they sitting in conference rooms until 9:30 at night trying fruitlessly to negotiate a new contract for their co-workers? No, no, no, and no. You know how they spent their week? Looking for online coupons!

On my feet pretty continuously from 7:00 in the morning, I found myself in a checkout line behind a person who had a $1.50 pie crust that she felt she should get for free, since she had an online store coupon for $1.50 off a pie crust. The cashier was completely flummoxed by the transaction. Why, I don't know. The person had the wrong brand of pie crust, it was clear as the fading daylight. But she insisted that this was the one that was on sale with the coupon!

Feeling herself being stabbed by the white-hot daggers emanating from my bloodshot eyeballs, the disgruntled customer finally said, "Never mind. Just take it off my bill." But then she persisted when the store manager came to clear things up.

Ten minutes later, two store employees and a third checker sent in to mop up the drama determined that the patron had the wrong brand of pie crust, that's why her little phone coupon would not scan.

Did I tell you that my school administration imposed a dress code on teachers this fall? We are not allowed to wear sneakers or running shoes. In other words, my feet were going numb from painful footwear, and I had six items that I had unwisely stacked on the conveyor belt.

What is it with people and online coupons? God damn it! What is more precious than time, lady? Tell me, please! Will your family go without Thanksgiving dessert if you don't get that graham cracker crust for free? We are all mortal, and you just spent almost 15 minutes arguing about a $1.50 pie crust. You may remember this on your death bed and long to go back and snatch that 15 minutes from the bin of squandered time! The worst part is, you stole 15 minutes from me -- and not 15 minutes staring at phone coupons, but 15 minutes in my easy chair, with my cramped toes finally expanding in comfy slippers! That's 15 fewer minutes of being awake, petting my cats, bagging up this week's newspapers, oh! The list goes on and on! You owe me, pie crust lady!

People get on my last nerve. They really do. I'm sick and tired of dealing with anyone who wants to argue about anything. Especially about a pie crust. Pie crust. Not even something decent and wholesome like a bagel, or a bag of Peppermint Patties. No! One of those graham cracker pie crusts encased in foil and plastic, the kind really bad cooks use for slipshod cheesecakes! She just did some group of diners a huge favor by refusing to purchase the item. That's one corner-cutting dessert they won't have to choke down and pretend to like.

Tired of teaching, tired of Snobville, tired of being tired. Tired of the Keystone pipeline rupturing. Yeah. That too.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Interview with a Bored Goddess: Cloacina

All Hail, and welcome to The Gods Are Bored! We're now in our 12th year, and up to 202 followers! In a nation of 325 million people, we're standing tall at the rock bottom of the heap.

But la di dah, we believe in the Divine and all goodness! And just between us ... have you seen the headlines on the busy God's followers these days? How low can they go? Disgraceful. No better time than the present to bliss out with a loving Goddess who wants you to have a healthy lifestyle and plenty of clean, clear water! Please give a warm, wonderful, Gods Are Bored welcome to Cloacina, Goddess of Sanitation Management!

Anne: Look, Cloacina, I painted the powder room! I know it's your favorite room in the whole house. What do you think of it now?

Cloacina: It's beautiful! I do wish you would put a mosaic tile on the floor, though.

Anne: Can't live like a Caesar on the salary of a peasant, dear Goddess.

Cloacina: What was that object you pulled out of the water throne while the top was off?

Anne: (aside) Isn't it cute? She calls the toilet a "water throne!" (to Cloacina) Funny you should ask. It was a paperweight from the Ronald Reagan Library, sent to Mr. J more than a decade ago by a clueless friend in California. I put it in the water throne, feeling it deserved to be there.

Cloacina: Who was this "Ronald Reagan?"

Anne: A Caesar. I thought he was the worst. Little did I know.

Cloacina: If this was a bad Caesar, why take out the paperweight?

Anne: Well, it had gotten a bit calcified after all that time. Besides, I need to make room in the water throne for something that deserves to be in there even more.

Cloacina: What could that possibly be?


I found it in a strip club parking lot last week!

Cloacina: Anne, you might want to think twice about this. An item like this might clog the water throne, and then the dear thing won't work.

Anne: No worries, Goddess. This hat is cheaply manufactured by over-extended, poverty-stricken workers. It will fade on the first flush and dissolve within a week. Which hopefully will become a metaphor for the Caesar who is selling it.

Cloacina: Oh well, you needn't worry! I have learned all about your water thrones and the piping in your house, and I will keep everything flowing brilliantly!

Anne: Thus saving me plumbing bills ... O Great and Mighty Goddess!!!

Cloacina: I hope you don't mind if I'm late for dinner. All that wind yesterday brought down a lot of leaves. There are storm drains to be seen to.

Anne: And you are just the Goddess for the task! Work Your magic, Cloacina! It is an honor beyond measure, having You in my household. Blessed be.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

My Awesome Adventure at the New Jersey Teachers' Convention

You know how it is. You have all the best intentions, and you even have made your plans, hour by hour, and you're itching to get under way. So it was with yours truly when she set out at 8:30 a.m. for the New Jersey Education Association's annual teacher-fest in Atlantic City.

It's a mere 60 minutes from my door to AC, if I take the expressway. Except I hate that damn expressway. It's always busy, and it's dead boring. I take the old Route 30, locally known as the White Horse Pike. It passes through a few ugly Jersey towns charming little hamlets and then goes straight into downtown Atlantic City.

On the way to AC, my best intentions were all buzzing on maximum impact. I was going to beach comb a little bit at my favorite spot, then drive up and fling the Subaru into a parking space, and then go to the windowless Convention Center, where I had mapped out several improving teacher workshops that would no doubt leave me brimming to the plimsol line with fabulous new skills.

I had no problem finding free parking where I beach comb: the extreme northern end of AC. I pretty much had my choice. So I parked, got out of the car ... and a fresh waft of sea breeze tickled my nostrils and ruffled my hair. The sun was shining in a deep blue sky, and the waves hissed and swished onto the sand.

I thought about spending the rest of the day in a windowless convention center. And in a rare moment of completely decisive behavior, I aborted the whole teacher-fest mission for a day on the beach and the boardwalk.

I mean to say, how much could I possibly have learned at the teacher convention that would make up for a day off in the autumn sunshine?

I took a long walk. A really, really long walk. I just looked it up: well over four miles. And that doesn't include the beach combing.

Pretty, huh?

They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Well, la di dah, it has to be paved with something!

I had lunch with this guy. Only he didn't get anything, because the sign said not to feed him.

This concludes my awesome adventure at the New Jersey Teachers' Convention, 2017. Maybe next year it will be raining.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

My (Not So) Helpless Scream at the Sky

Did you hear that we Resisters had a planned event tonight, on the anniversary of the election? We were supposed to go outside and scream helplessly at the sky.

I was all ready to do this. In fact, I had -- very reluctantly -- issued an invitation to the Bean Sidhe, so as to make a really impressive scream fest.

In the end, though, I canceled the howling, or rather I relegated it to this single miffed boat-tailed grackle:

Screaming all done now. There's too much to celebrate!

I don't care if our New Jersey governor-elect is some pond scum bloodsucker who slunk out of Goldman Sachs to plunder the Garden State. I don't care if the guy keeps three mistresses on his payroll (heck, that's a New Jersey staple!) I don't care if he has bad breath or foot odor. For all I care, he can fart with great regularity in closed elevators.

He is not Chris Christie. We are done with Chris Christie! We are bidding farewell to the Teacher-Hater!



New Jersey, the state I used to hate, is now firmly in Democratic hands. Oh sure, we have a fistful of Republicans -- and the gods know we have high taxes -- but we don't suffer fools. Or rather, after eight long years of suffering a fool, we're ready to TURN. THE. PAGE.

And so the anniversary of the presidential election finds me cautiously optimistic. I'm not giving up the Magical Battle for America, but let's say that we've won our first skirmish. In New Jersey. Heck, it sorta feels like Washington just crossed the Delaware!

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Fairy Kon Least

Every year during the first week of November, there is a convention regarding fairies in Baltimore. I have a limited budget, so this event generally gets the short shrift. This does not mean I don't regret staying home.

But la di dah! How hard is it to stage a convention? I took a very brief break from vigorous housework and errands and attended Fairy Kon Least! Here are some of the great photos I took so I wouldn't suffer from Fear of Missing Out.

EXHIBIT A: Anne rocks her tie-dye, wings, and witch balls.

EXHIBIT B: Can't afford the fairy convention because I bought this last spring. No regrets.

EXHIBIT C: What, me clean the kitchen? Let the elves do it!

EXHIBIT D: Everything is so chill at Fairy Kon Least.

EXHIBIT E: Here I am all geared up for the Bad Fairy Ball. I even have the ball!

EXHIBIT F: Friends and foils at Fairy Kon Least!

EXHIBIT G: Gamma looks so fly in his Reyen silk!

EXHIBIT H: Okay, I clearly need a fairy godmother. Maybe I should monetize this blog... nah, the bored gods advise me to keep it amateur.

Saturday night, laughs are good for the soul. Sending the bad faeries not to Baltimore, but to Washington, DC.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Samhain 2017

Just think. Last year this time we were in the final weeks of an election we all thought was a lock.

What a difference 51 weeks make.

But that's not why I'm writing today. I'm writing because it's Samhain, aka All Hallows Eve!

Agnostic though I am, I have had so many things happen in my life that just don't seem to be coincidental. They were more like messages from another dimension, like someone trying to reach out to me and using a code only that person and I share. Have you had that experience?

Case in point: Just before my family farm in Appalachia sold, Olivia and I were out for a walk on the property. We went down into the hollow where a farm house used to stand. It burned down in 1938, so there's nothing left of it now.

Just as I said to Olivia, "I wonder where the midden pile was for this house?" she stooped over and picked up a fully intact 8-sided jar with not a nick on it anywhere. It was just lying there, somewhat obscured by grass and weeds for 74 years.

Now I use it as a beloved vase.

Yes, yes, coincidence that this jar was just lying there on the ground, muddy and forgotten, until I just happened to think how nice it would be to find the trash heap that these old houses invariably had, so I might, oh, you know, find a pretty glass jar or two. And this jar wasn't on a heap. It was right directly where the house would have been.

If the Veil thins, if our ancestors peer through it to see us, then this practice of veil-hopping goes all the way back deep into the mists of time. What mother wouldn't want to peek through the Veil to see her daughter? Where would that circle be broken?

I never met my great-grandmother, but why wouldn't she come with my grandmother to see me? Why wouldn't she hand me a glass jar?

I don't have answers, but I do have suggestions for Samhain ancestral visitations.

1. Don't pretend like everything is going great if it's not. Be honest with the Kindred.

2. Be respectful, even if some of your ancestors (like mine) were hounds from Hell.

3. Be the kind of person you are. Don't put on affectations, because they will see right through it. They were you before you came along -- so whoever you are, that's who you bring to the fire.

4. If you ask them for a sign that they care, tie a natural object to it, or a song, or some mundane but not terribly common thing (a monarch butterfly, a white feather, a tune or fictitious character they liked). This is where the coincidences start to arise. Like, who expects to see a monarch butterfly flying through the stadium in downtown Baltimore during an Orioles game? It happened to my husband in September.

5. Remember that you are part of an unbroken line. Your ancestors were alive the last time the Yellowstone Caldera erupted. They walked across continents that had no names. They survived to bear children, and their children survived as well. Your ancestors were sturdy.

They are coming to call. Build them a fire, because some day hopefully someone will build one for you.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Interview with a Bored God: Anansi

Well, look who it is, back again and dapper as ever! It's my good friend the bored god Anansi!

If I didn't know better, I would think it's a piece of my sea glass he has there on his head.

Anne: Great God Anansi, welcome to my home and hearth, again! I'll prop the door open so some flies come in.

Anansi: Thanks, Anne. It's what I love about you.

Anne: While we're waiting for a fat one, do you have any new stories?

Anansi: I always have stories! But you must remember the important lessons you learned in your fiction-writing classes back at ol' Johns Hopkins: There are no new stories. Only old ones told over and over again in slightly different ways.

Anne: Old ones are fine with me. I've read Pride and Prejudice five times!

by Anansi

Jackal was firmly in charge on the savanna, but he was still vain and arrogant. He had a burning need to be the center of attention, so he convinced African Grey the Parrot to follow him around and tell all the animals what he was doing.

African Grey was a terrific observer and quite articulate. It didn't matter what Jackal happened to be doing, African Grey saw it and reported it faithfully to the other animals.

"SQUAWK! Jackal just stepped on an anteater's snout and didn't say he was sorry!"

"SQUAWK! Jackal took a whole haunch of wildebeest and gave it to his daughter. That much meat would feed ten jackals to where they couldn't walk!

"SQUAWK! There's Jackal, sleeping in again when there's work to be done!"

"SQUAWK! When the meerkats asked him for food, Jackal pelted them with cotton balls and said such silly-looking animals didn't deserve to eat!"

All the animals on the savanna listened to African Grey every day. They grew disgruntled with all they heard about Jackal's behavior.

Jackal went to Anansi to ask for advice. (Never a good idea, and further proof that Jackal isn't too bright.) Anansi told Jackal that most of the animals didn't know African Grey very well, so it would be easy to convince them that she was a liar. At the time, Anansi was living in a plush corner of Jackal's luxurious den, but after giving the advice, the spider packed his bag and went for a long stroll.

"SQUAWK! Jackal's fleas say eating his blood is making them stupid!"

"That's not true!" barked Jackal. "This is fake! My fleas love me, and so do my ear mites! My ear mites tell me I have the best ears ever!"

The animals didn't know who to believe. The parrot seemed reliable, but can you really trust a parrot?

"SQUAWK! The watering hole is closed so Jackal can admire his reflection in the pool!"

"That's not true!" Jackal cried, leaping away from the watering hole so that some thirsty elephants could get a drink. "See? Anyone can have a drink at this watering hole! Don't believe that petty, silly, ugly grey bird!"

After weeks and weeks of this, the animals began to mistrust African Grey. Even the smartest ones, like the vultures, noted that African Grey never said anything positive about Jackal. Surely something must be good about Jackal, right? Otherwise, how did he get to be ruler of the savanna?  And squarely in Jackal's corner were the other jackals, who, although they never particularly contradicted African Grey, never backed up her stories, either.

Over time the animals stopped believing African Grey or even listening to her. Only the meerkats continued to heed her broadcasts, because they were pissed off at Jackal and were willing to believe anything about him. Unperturbed, African Grey continued to shadow Jackal and squawk his every move out into the savanna sunshine.

"SQUAWK! Jackal left candles burning in his den, and now it's on fire!"

"WHAT?" Jackal exclaimed.

"SQUAWK! Jackal left candles burning in his den, and now it's on fire!"

Jackal ran to his den and saw billows of smoke rolling out of it.

"Help! Help!" he cried. "African Grey, tell all the animals that my house is burning down!"

Well, African Grey did as she was told, but none of the animals -- even the stately and intellectual vultures -- believed her. They just went about their business, ignoring both African Grey and Jackal.

In desperation, Jackal ran to the only animals that he knew still believed the parrot -- the meerkats.

"Hey, guys, you've gotta help me!" he said. "My den is on fire!"

"Oh yes, we'll help you!" the meerkats exclaimed. Then they pelted him with cotton balls and blew him some Bronx cheers and patted their furry little tooshies while his opulent den went up in flames.

Jackal went to look for Anansi in order to get more advice, but Anansi, having noted Jackal's complete recklessness with candles, had set up shop along the watering hole. It was a lot of fun watching the elephants frolicking in the water, squirting each other with their trunks, since they had nothing else to do.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Gray and Gritty Navel Gaze

It happens to everyone. You look at the weather forecast, you look at a weekend from the perspective of a balmy Friday evening, and you plan a project.

You know the kind of project I'm talking about. I'm talking about one of those simple and easy projects that will take a mere four hours and have lasting benefits to the old domicile. In this case, I thought the weather was perfect to spread a little waterproof deck paint on the front porch floor. Our handyman recommended a brand of porch paint that would help to preserve those pesky floorboards that always have to be replaced because the weather falls on them.

So, after a late breakfast on Saturday morning, Mr. J and I headed to Home Depot to purchase said paint and some rollers.

Don't know about you, but I hate Home Depot. I hate all stores that have more than six aisles. I hate all stores that you wish you had a bicycle to navigate. In a smaller subset, I hate stores with bright colors everywhere. Target? Oh my bored gods. All that red! Home Depot is the same way. Who woke up one morning and said, "Let's make a hardware store and swathe it in ORANGE?"

Next time I'll stick to Sherwin Williams.

So we went to the Orange Hellhouse and found the kind of paint that was recommended. We had it mixed to a nice charcoal gray and chose medium gritty for better traction. We figured one gallon would certainly cover a front porch. Little did we know.

Have you ever used deck paint? I opened the can, and I couldn't decide whether I was looking at paint or a charcoal-colored chocolate mousse. The stuff wasn't just thick. It was mud pie thick. It was marsh muck thick. It was so thick that my trusty edging brush (with which I have painted three large interior areas) said, "This is where I go to die." And die it did. Alas, poor brush! How well I knew you!

The way to use deck paint is:

1. Dip the brush in.
2. Move it two inches across the wood surface.
3. Repeat.

The stuff didn't want to spread itself around. It didn't behave like paint. It behaved like cold butter on a slice of bread.

I sucked it up and kept trying. After about three hours I had the whole porch edged, including under the railings. The steps were edged. The problem areas were daubed. And I was almost out of a gallon of paint.

Mr. J, who had very helpfully told me what to do before going off to nap, had to go back to the Hellhouse to get more paint. Then I tried to roll the deck. Each trip to the rolling pan yielded a whopping two square feet of rolled paint. No one told this paint it was paint. I still think it was a stinky gray cake batter pretending to be paint.

Four hours into this four-hour project, I was halfway finished. I had one-coated the porch ... and the directions on the paint can explicitly said two coats.

Guess how I was planning to spend my Sunday? I'll tell you: reading the New York Times and puttering in the garden. Instead, Sunday became a repeat of Saturday, including another trip to the Orange Hellhouse for a third gallon of paint.

I ruined two rollers and my edging brush that, as I have already pointed out, was in my trembling hand the night Donald Trump won the presidential election, being at that time put to use on a hall closet door. Oh, I didn't mention that?  This brush and I had a relationship. I believe in nurturing paint brushes. If you looked at my paint brushes at the end of a long and grueling interior job, you wouldn't know that they weren't brand new.

Two hours in the gray gritty mousse, and it was adios, edging brush. Another hour of spreading cold butter on bread, and the porch floor looked streaky but protected. The paint dried like concrete. Two rollers bit the dust. (This was equally painful to me. It is possible to have a long term love affair with a paint roller if it is treated with tender loving care.)

By this time, it was 3:30 on Sunday afternoon. Instead of puttering in the garden, I raked and clipped at an aerobic pace. Then there was the laundry that had been sitting in the dryer since Friday evening. Mr. J was sent off to another massive Rhode Island-size store, this one being Wegmans in all its mustard-painted splendor. He brought home some ready-made food ... and that was my weekend.

Back to work Monday morning, with a manicure of gray grit as a memorial to a totally lost weekend. Five more days until I get to try again.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Do You Know These Gods?

Out here in the Great Blue Northeast, an online resume company named is very popular. Job seekers can give your email to ZipRecuiter, and if you give a fuck really care about the seeker, you can leave a nice reference. Just this week I warmly endorsed a longtime colleague who is transitioning her career.

This can have its downside, though.

The first request I got yesterday was from EndodaWorld (see below). Apparently he saw an opportunity, pegged me as a sap, and put his bona fides online in search of praise and worship (and a hot shower).

Then this ashen deity must have recommended me as a hopeless sentimentalist to all his forgotten buddies. Today I was deluged with requests from ZipRecuiter. And the whole thing made me question the wisdom of my forebears regarding religious matters, let me tell you.

Do you know any of the following deities, and, if so, can you give me some deep background before I serve as a reference?

1. BigDiq

2. Shoutnstomp

3. Death Dodger

4. Tardigrade

5. Beelzebabble

6. Mister Softee

(Okay, just kidding about the last one. That's the ice cream truck.)

But for all I know, none of these deities is worthy even of driving an ice cream truck. Never heard of any of them! Why are they cheeky enough to reach out to me for a reference?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Interview with a Bored God: EndodaWorld

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Oh by all the fruit flies on the watermelon, there's a wild bored god here tonight! He's dressed in animal skins, and he looks pretty dusty. Thank goodness he's content to sit on the floor! I showed him how to use my can opener (I'm old school, I've got a hand-held), and he's opening all the cans in my pantry. Which is, yes, annoying, but he looks kind of hungry.

This deity doesn't speak anything like any language living or dead. Luckily I have Dr. Google. Dr. Google knows everything. It appears that this god is EndodaWorld, sacred to the extremely, extremely, extremely, extremely ancient peoples of the Fertile Crescent. Hard as it is to believe, Dr. Google can actually translate this diced-tomato-fixated deity for us.

Anne: Please, EndodaWorld, have another can of tomatoes! (aside) Glad he likes 'em, I'm too tired to bake a pie.

EndodaWorld: What are these delicious things?

Anne: Tomatoes.

EndodaWorld: Why didn't my people have these?

Anne: Hmmmm. Oh, I know the answer to that! Your people lived in the Old World. Tomatoes are a New World plant. Europeans didn't have them until Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

EndodaWorld: Who is Columbus?

Anne: Some dude. Oh! Ummm, Campbell's soup is better if you warm it up.

EndodaWorld: I don't see a fire.

Anne: I'll get right on that. So, EndodaWorld, tell me about yourself. What's that powder you're wearing? Looks like you fell into a vat of talc.

EndodaWorld: This? It's the stuff that fell out of the sky. For ten years.

[Anne takes a gentle dab with a Q-tip, gives the dust to Dr. Google.]

Dr. Google: Volcanic ash.

Anne: Wow! This fell from the sky for ten years?

EndodaWorld: Sometimes it came down dry, sometimes it came down wet. Either way, it killed a lot of people and a lot of gods.

Anne: How did you survive?

EndodaWorld: I didn't have to survive. I got hired after two years of famine by priests who blamed all the old deities and promised I would get this whole ash thing under control.

Anne: So that was after two years. What happened by Year Eight?

EndodaWorld: I got fired. It was a short tour.  My praise and worship team mostly died.

Anne: Guess you could say they bit the dust.

EndodaWorld: I beg your pardon?

Anne: Never mind. Totally tasteless joke. So let me understand. Some volcano erupted and spewed ash into the air for a decade, and it wasted a lot of people all over the place. I guess animals too.

EndodaWorld: Animals, plants, insects. It got very, very quiet. The people who wanted to survive had to migrate and fight for a spot in the areas that didn't get the dust.

Anne: Was your praise and worship team living in the shadow of this volcano?

EndodaWorld: What's a volcano?

Anne: Whoa! Ash falling from the sky for a decade, and you didn't even live near the volcano? Dr. Google, can you shed some light on this?

Dr. Google: This deity was briefly worshiped during the catastrophic eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera super volcano 645,000 years ago.

Anne: EndodaWorld, you are officially the oldest deity I've ever had the pleasure of meeting! Probably by a factor of ten.

EndodaWorld: Let's not talk about ten.

Anne: I read just the other day that the Yellowstone Caldera could fire up and erupt with just a few decades notice. It could happen any time. And you're here with an evocative name, warning me that such an eruption would be the end of the world.

EndodaWorld: Exactly.

Anne: Except it wasn't.

EndodaWorld: Who are you to argue? I was there!!!

Anne: But if it was the end of the world, there wouldn't be any people anywhere. Or animals, or plants, or insects. But we've got plenty of all of those things.

EndodaWorld: Well, Miss Priss, let me tell you: If you had been there in my time, you would have felt like it was the end of the world!

Anne: I daresay. And if that scary super volcano erupts in thirty years, it will certainly be the end of the world for me. But not for everyone. So long Anne, Mr. J, cats Beta and Gamma, beloved daughters, entire population of Philadelphia ... but not the human race. EndodaWorld, you've got to admit that some tribes of humankind survived the decade of ash rain.

EndodaWorld: Didn't do me any good. I've never gotten even a nibble on my resume, from then until now.

Anne: Speaking of nibble, could you please forego that last can of black beans? I need those for my soup.

EndodaWorld: But .....

Anne: Oh, never mind! Munch away!

I'm going to take a lesson from this hungry bored god. Apparently the shit hit the fan, and people stuck in the catastrophe blamed all of their gods and dumped them. The people drafted a new god, but that god couldn't fix the problem. In fact, it must have gotten a lot worse. Now, what does that remind me of?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Thalia Paints Goddesses

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," still and always dedicated to deities who have too much time on Their hands! What happens to a Goddess when Her praise and worship team falls apart? Can you imagine the stress? Eternal life is so unfair!

There's always an upside, though. A Goddess who has plenty of time on Her hands can sit for an awesome portrait. That's where Thalia Took comes in.

Thalia has been painting portraits of Goddesses since before I started blogging. Her work is phenomenal.

Where do I start? I think my personal favorite Thalia Took portrait is Sedna.

But look at this one of Artemis!

Stirring, no? Let's jump pantheons again!

and again!

Freyja is here for you, Yellowdog Granny!

Thalia has an absolutely amazing web site, where you can see all the bored Goddesses you ever heard of, and many more that get absolutely no press at all anymore. In these particularly trying times for American women, it's nice to be reminded that there are Goddesses just lining up to help us all out of this mess.

Thalia has a patronage link called Patreon. I had never heard of it, but you can basically pledge her a little sum of money that helps her buy nectar and henna and incense and other things that Goddesses crave. If you sign on to Thalia's Patreon account, you can pretty much pat yourself on the back that you're championing the cause of bored deities. (She does male deities too, at least some of the decent ones.)

So, in honor of getting 202 followers myself, I'm asking you to biff on over to see Thalia and all the fabulous work she's doing! Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Bully Forgets. The Victim Doesn't.

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. I believe it. How else can I explain the fact that I have attended quite a few high school reunions?

A few weeks ago I went to yet another class reunion for my old alma mater, The South Will Rise Again High School. You know the one. Our mascot was a Rebel soldier, and the school song was Dixie. I do not even exaggerate. (I heard that just recently the school changed its mascot and song. High time.)

Anyway, I've gone to my share of these reunion things, and they are always the same. Most of the people even look the same, which is pretty amazing given the number attached to the reunion.

When I was in middle school, I was bullied quite a bit. In those days, boys taunted smart girls for being too smart, and girls taunted girls over perceived flirtations with boys. I got tons of the former and a little bit of the latter.

In 1970, I had one conversation with a kid in my sixth grade class, and his girlfriend did not stand for it. She organized her posse, and they knocked the crap out of me when no one was looking. It would have happened again, except that the next time they got me in their sights, my dog was with me. He put an end to that bullshit just by suggesting he was going to bite them.

Free advice: You never go wrong adopting a mid-sized mutt.

Whenever I go to my high school reunions, the girl who bullied me is always there. She dropped out of high school, but using a marriage to one of our grads and a lot of revisionist history, she now presents herself as a bona fide diploma-holder from SWRAHS.

And she always comes running up to me and wraps me in a bear hug and asks me how I'm doing.

This baffled me in 1997 and again in 2007. Now it is 2017, and I have learned a lot about bullying from being a high school teacher.

Turns out bullies often forget all about their behavior, if they even perceive it as bullying at all. Did you know that? It surprised me to learn that.

One other thing I learned as a high school teacher that I already knew: Victims do not forget being bullied. They remember names, places, and events in stark detail.

And so, every time this former bully female comes running up and bear-hugs me, I stiffen and exchange the minimum pleasantries, while coyly suggesting that I don't recall her graduating with us. She always says she didn't have the money for senior pictures, so she isn't in the yearbook.

This conversation has been repeated three times: 1997, 2007, and 2017.

Will I be insane enough in 2027 to go back to another of these ridiculous beer-fests in an obscure Moose Lodge on the edge of the Potomac River? Gods! Make me sane! I'm never going to forget that bully, and she will never remember why.

Monday, October 02, 2017

People Are Dying: Trump Is To Blame

Today one of my students told me that her grandfather is in harm's way in Puerto Rico. With no lights and nay to contact authorities, citizens are facing crime along with a scarcity of every basic necessity. "Three people were killed right near his house," she told me. I have no doubt. This would happen anywhere if people couldn't get clean water and food.

According to the man in the White House (he calls it a "dump"), Puerto Rico should just suck it up. According to him, they're just waiting around for someone else to do the dirty work.

Like this.

And now we have a mass shooting that dwarfs the casualties in most Vietnam War battles. It's beginning to look like Americans are safer in Afghanistan than they are in Las Vegas.

But of course, we have every right to our precious guns. Our festering sore of a president ran on a promise of assuring everyone their Second Amendment rights.

As I've said before, this used to be a humor blog. Oh sure, I've always had my say politically on this page ... but betwixt and between, I interviewed bored deities, wrote about my daughters' antics, and pined for my Appalachian homeland.

Seems like another world, that.

Not my president.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Modest Proposal for Puerto Rico

Have you ever been to Puerto Rico? I have, and it is beautiful! I've seen the rain forest, and old San Juan, and some of those beaches that look like a commercial for a tropical vacation. I saw pineapples growing in the fields!

Add to this nostalgia the fact that about 15 percent of my students are of Puerto Rican origin, and you'll understand that I truly care about that island.

So, here's a modest proposal for Puerto Rico. Gods know our horrible leader won't heed it -- he's too busy blaming the citizens for not being plucky enough to fix their own power grids.

It's this very power grid that I want to talk about.

From what I hear, Puerto Rico is pretty much a blank slate at this moment when it comes to electrical power. And the power infrastructure was already really poor.

What if we used this tragic opportunity as a way to transform Puerto Rico's messed-up grid with solar and wind? What if we put solar cells on the roofs of houses and set up wind and solar farms instead of the other power plants? Nothing is going to save PR from bad storms (especially moving forward), but perhaps a more localized source of power generation could be repaired and brought back to work more quickly.

I don't know the first thing about power grids. But I do know that when something breaks so catastrophically, it offers an opportunity to try implementing the most cutting-edge technology, just to see how well it works.

My modest proposal won't matter. Poor islanders! When what they should be getting is a star on our flag, they will be getting cheap and shoddy workmanship, third in line behind Florida and Texas, and the dregs that FEMA and the military have left over from other disasters.

Might be different if presidential elections were decided by majority vote.

Readers, if you feel moved to help the citizens of Puerto Rico and you want to donate at the source, send me an email and I'll give you my address. I have a mentee at my school whose mom is going to PR next week. Her family there has asked for Home Depot gift cards. If you send me one, I'll give it to her.

My email is   annejohnson17211 at gmail dot com.

If you don't want to go through me, I beg you to help the island. If you've ever been without electricity for a day or water for a hot afternoon, you can maybe begin to imagine what those people are going through. Then again, none of us has ever had cholera.

Monday, September 25, 2017

My Admiration for Kneeling Athletes is Boundless

On Sunday, Mr. J and I went to see the Baltimore Orioles. We are both huge Orioles fans.


I did something at that game that I have never done before, ever.

I refused to stand for the national anthem.

I've been working with minority teenagers since 2005. I've been teaching them full time since 2009. Let me tell you this, right up front: I cannot stand in their shoes. The gods know I wouldn't want to.

This country is a land mine for people of color, for young Hispanic kids and Dreamers. They're very observant, and smart, and they can see the truth -- how everything is arrayed against them from the day they're born. Don't tell me about affirmative action. It's more mythical than Zeus. Even when minority kids work twice as hard as their Caucasian peers, they are starting out (many of them) with all kinds of subtle and not-so-subtle strikes against them. The strikes follow them right into adulthood. If they live to be adults.

This is where our nation's athletes step in.


You want to see courage? Check this out. It's a wonder he lived to pulverize people in the ring.

I'll bet you already knew that Muhammad Ali was stripped not only of his boxing title, but was barred from the ring for three years at the very prime of his career. It's not like he had a trust fund or anything, either. He lived off the kindness of friends, even his opponents for three damn years.

When other people have to worry about their families and their paycheck-to-paycheck salaries, professional athletes can make strong statements about what the world is really like for people like them.


This is, to me, one of the most compelling photographs of the 20th century. These are American athletes who won running medals in the 1968 Olympics, and they are listening to the national anthem. Is this the frivolous gesture of someone trying to be glib or cute? BAMP! No. Is this a despicable desecration of the greatness of America? BAMP! No. This is a dignified protest of racism. May all the deities of all the pantheons salute these brave men. Because they needed to be brave. They got savage treatment after this incident.


So they played the national anthem, and these guys knelt. They were making a statement about police brutality. They are visible members of a minority population in this country.

To me, there is nothing disrespectful to our soldiers, living or dead, in this gesture. (Has anyone asked African American veterans how they feel about this? BAMP! No.) There is no desecration of the flag. There is -- mark my words -- no foul language and no violence urged upon anyone.

I didn't hear these athletes call any policemen sons-of-bitches and demand that they be fired. Did you?


So this guy goes to Atlanta, gathers together some 10,000 of his fellow racists, and dares to call these gracious and principled athletes sons of bitches. How dare he? A man who wouldn't even rent apartments to minorities! Now he is manufacturing prejudice and hate. Whoa, finally successful at manufacturing something.

Everywhere I look on the Internet, I see white people in outrage at the disrespect inherent in kneeling for the national anthem. Readers, I don't know about you, but swearing from a podium and calling for honest, hard-working minority men to be fired is far more disrespectful than kneeling during a song.

One last piece to this rant. We at "The Gods Are Bored" are all about bad form. If our NFL players flipped the bird at the flag, or mooned it, or trampled it or burnt it during the course of a game, I would call that disrespect. But since when is kneeling so damn disrespectful?


I guess it's a-okay when they do it like this.

The moral of this sermon is simple: Far from being disrespectful, athletes who kneel during the national anthem are exercising their constitutional rights to free expression. They feel keenly the plight of their less fortunate brothers and sisters and want to make a statement about it. Gods bless America that they can't be locked up, tortured, and killed for this behavior! (Even if the Ghoul in Chief wants it done.)

Until the menace Donald Trump leaves office, I will not stand for the national anthem. Nor will I say the pledge of allegiance beyond the first sentence. This is not one nation. Liberty and justice? Ask Colin Kaepernick about justice. It's too late to ask Muhammad Ali.

If I hear the "Star Spangled Banner," I'm going to take a knee and pray to the bored gods to save our land, now, before it's too late.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Free Advice on Getting Your Letter to the Editor Published in the (Not Fake) New York Times

Did you know that the New York Times was in publication during the Civil War? I did some research on the Battle of Antietam, and by golly, the good ol' New York Times had several correspondents right there in the thick of things.

It wasn't fake then, and it's not fake now.

That sound you hear is the buttons popping on my vest. Ten days ago I wrote my first-ever "Letter to the Editor" to the New York Times, and against all odds, they published it -- and first in line!

I'm an old-timer who likes to get her news in paper format. Imagine my conceit humble pride when I opened Monday's newspaper and saw my letter there, at the very top of the column!

(I had advance notice. The editors contacted me about word choice and length, of course. It's the New York Times, they don't mess.)

The letter is about the villainous Betsy Devo$ and her assault on sexual assault victims. It's in response to an editorial the so-called "fake" New York Times published that actually praised the menace Devo$ for her actions.

And here it is!

So, now you are asking ... Anne, what's your secret? Lots of people write to the New York Times every day!

Ahem ... well ... (twirls the casual coat button) ... my first guess is that, in these days of instant commenting, most people don't bother to write a formal letter to the editor, which first you have to look up the email address (kind of hard to find) and then you have to submit it.

Then, well, I sorta figured the best way to proceed was to lard the thing with every big word I ever knew from my days of bi-monthly vocabulary tests in Mr. Hershey's English class.

Finally, there was the passion. A good Letter to the Editor needs passion. Having had numerous friends, colleagues, and family members who have experienced simple and/or sexual assault, especially in college settings, I felt a pressing need to weigh in.

It's that pressing need that gets 'em every time.

If you ever feel a pressing need to write a letter to the editor of the New York Times, keep it short and fill it with big words. You know you can do it. Only smart people read this blog ... so you know you can. You know you can.