Saturday, October 30, 2021

Samhain 2021

 It seems like an eternity since Labor Day, but Samhain 2021 is finally upon us. It's the time when spirits walk among us and we remember our Ancestors and thank them for giving us life.

And if you're Anne, it's time to get your chaos on.


I bought this awesome Moth Man vigil candle from an artisan at South Jersey Pagan Pride Day. I couldn't fork over my ducats fast enough! Jack-o-lanterns are one thing, but Moth Man on my shrine? Not only keeps the bad monsters away, also entertains the Ancestors and Nature Spirits.

And that's my outdoor shrine, looking extra spiffy. My daughter The Heir gave me some flea market candle holders made of crystals glued together. One day I felt the need for extra power, so I dismantled the candle holders and put all the crystals on my shrine. And yes indeed, the extra Earth energy is very helpful.

Have you seen this hashtag thingy #whatwitcheslooklike2021? The idea is to take a really plain photo of yourself and post it to show that witches are like everybody else. Trouble is, when you look at a whole bunch of these all together, they just all look like extraordinary people.  Photo after photo, there's just something in the eye, or the tilt of the chin, or the attire or setting, that just broadcasts "HEY I AM A WITCH!"

So I am going to try really hard here to put up a photo of myself that doesn't look a single bit witchy.


No, wait. I have some kind of crystalline pendant on there. I'll try again.


This works, right? It's the time I flew all the way to Salt Lake City to celebrate the 60th birthday of a condor! 

Damn. That sounds witchy. Back to the photo queue.


This hits the spot. On the beach at Cape May last November. That could be anybody.

But part of the fun of being witchy is dressing the part, don't you think?


A blessed Samhain to you, my friends! Always so glad to see you here at "The Gods Are Bored!"

PS: I got poison ivy on my arm from holding onto that tiny tree trunk.

Monday, October 25, 2021

It's Liberating To Be Hated: Interview with Justitia

 Howdy howdy howdy and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm Anne Johnson, and I have been saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag since 1964. It has gotten old. So for the past 25 years or more, I've been leaving out the "liberty and justice for all" part. Because, get real. Where's the justice in American society?

But it's a trifle sensitive trying to explain that to my guest tonight, Justitia, the Goddess of ... you guessed it ... justice! She joined me for dinner, and we're sitting here digesting, so let's give this lovely Lady and her balance scales a warm, wonderful "Gods Are Bored" welcome!

Anne: Good evening, great and mighty Justitia! What did you think of the chicken cacciatore?

Justitia: Well, it was good and bad. Tasted fine, but the portion was too small.

Anne: Oh gosh! Sorry! Do you want seconds?

Justitia: I have rendered my decision on the matter. Case closed.

Anne: To be honest, Your Honor, I could be persuaded to go out for a soft serve ice cream.

Justitia: Motion is approved! You may approach the bench.

Anne: But before we sojourn to the ice cream shop, I want to ask your opinion on something.

Justitia: Opinions are my thing. Justly rendered, of course.

Anne: Of course! Well, Justitia, it has come to my attention that someone very high in the chain of command at my workplace has an extraordinarily low opinion of me. So low, in fact, that this person thought students would be better served by a substitute teacher than by me.

Justitia: Well, what are the students being served? If it's chicken cacciatore, the substitute might be more generous.

Anne (aside) These Roman deities are so human, aren't they? (to Justitia) No food involved, just education. A teacher is out sick, and I offered to cover her class. The principal was all for it, but the higher-up wasn't having it. 

Justitia: It's probably about money.

Anne: Nah, money's not a factor. I know from talking to ex employees of my firm that this particular power-broker holds me in very low esteem. My problem is, this person may come in to evaluate me at some point this year.

Justitia: Why, how very liberating!

Anne: What do you mean?

Justitia: If you know that they hold you in low esteem, then no matter how brilliantly you perform, it won't matter. So why perform at all? Everything this person says about you is tainted by bias, thus rendering the person incapable of forming a true opinion of your worth.

Anne: You know, I didn't think of that! You're absolutely right! Nothing I do or say is going to convince this person I'm a good teacher. I could get a citation from the governor, and I would still be stuck with the nines.

Justitia: Therefore you should not expect justice from the person, nor court it, nor even care. Knowing you can't please this individual frees you from having to try.

Anne: Justitia, Great and Mighty Goddess, I am going to fix you up with a to-go container of chicken cacciatore! And here, take these bagels ... they are terrific. And here's a handful of Halloween candy, mostly Snickers.

Justitia: Annnnd?????

Anne: Soft serve ice cream! I'll get my coat and car keys!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

I'm a Wreck at the Vo-Tech

 When was the last time I interviewed a bored deity? A long time. But I can't blame them for boycotting me. Who wants to talk to a human wreck who can't even keep her upholstery clean?

This is just a follow-up on the hate crime in my classroom. To recap, a student wrote the "n" word on a Black student's paper during a time when everyone was circulating around the room. The student who received the slur reported it as a HIB (harassment, intimidation, and bullying).

I turned in a ton of handwriting samples to the administration, and this helped them to determine whose handwriting best fit the scrawl on the paper. They clearly identified a boy and proceeded to grill him about it. He cried. He pleaded innocence. His tears moved the vice principals.

They didn't see the look the kid shot me in between grillings. With face masks, all I can see is eyes. But that's all you need to see, really.

Long story short, another student confessed to the crime. The student said he didn't know the paper belonged to an African American student. He said he thought it was funny. And he said he imitated his best friend's handwriting.

This satisfied the administrators and the girl. The boy who confessed was removed from my class. The girl is back.

The boy with the distinctive handwriting and menacing glare is still in my class.

It's unrealistic to expect that I'll never have issues like this in my classroom. But by and large, the students at my school are pretty dedicated and respectful. And the baddies don't last. But with a TikTok challenge called "Slap a Teacher," I am on my guard.

I've got a wand. I found a piece of rose quartz at the beach over the weekend. I put up a grid of the Four Quarters on my desk. Every day I wear my Witch Ball and my copper bracelet.

There are no atheists in the foxhole.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

It Gets Worse

 You know what? Before I became a teacher, I complained about my neighborhood, politics, and religion. Never my job. Oh, how I long for those days.

For those of you just joining the chorus at "The Gods Are Bored," I'm a school teacher at a vo-tech just east of Camden, NJ.

Earlier in the school year, I got trolled on parent night by someone who posted the "n" word and also called me a white cracker. It was good for a few laughs in the teachers' lounge.

But on Thursday, I was doing a "gallery walk" for my students' writers notebooks. The students were walking around the room, commenting on one another's notebook entries. And someone in the room wrote the "n" word on the paper of an African American student.

In all my years of teaching, I've never seen ... yada yada yada Doesn't matter. My jaw dropped and hasn't returned to normal.

The wronged student filed a report on the incident (as did I) but will not come back to class, because the criminal who wrote the word is still in my room. I know it because every kid who was there on the day it happened came back the next day -- except the victim, who is one of my brightest kids this year.

Someone in the room has been convicted in the court of public opinion, but that's not enough to get them out of my class, and out of the school. There has to be convincing proof. Which means that on Friday, I had to conduct class as if the incident hadn't even happened, hoping to collect a writing sample from each kid featuring a capital G.

I will say right out of the gate that the perpetrator could not have been Caucasian, because I only have one Caucasian kid that period (out of 23 kids total), and he's a baa lamb who sits on the other side of the room.

There's nothing quite like having to call the parent of the wronged student to apologize and try to make amends. When I say I have been shaking like a leaf and sick to my stomach since it happened, I do not exaggerate.

As a teacher, I feel like I am the captain of the ship. If someone is injured on my watch, it's my fault. And this is the worst injury a student can face in my school, short of being slam-dunked or shot. I feel horrible.

I haven't gotten blowback from administration -- yet. But that may change when I insist that the suspect be re-assigned to another classroom, even if they can't prove he did it. (The suspect is tearfully proclaiming his innocence.)

The worst part of this is not being able to flip my shit about it in front of the whole class. I have a lot of African American students in there, and I'm sure they're concluding I don't give a damn about them. Never mind the cute little Hispanic girls who are sure they know who did it, but they can't be positive, but they want to see justice served.

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! Every day droves of students are going home, infected with Covid or quarantining. Seven students got called out of my 9th period class on Friday. Word on the street has it that kids left on Wednesday non-stop from beginning to end.

I need the pay and benefits at my job. If I didn't, I would quit.

I would honestly rather be writing about Jeff Bozos and the Big Blue Dick Horizon, but it's hardly on my mind.

Breaking out every charm, ointment, and spell I can use to set this right. My teacher desk is going to look very interesting on Monday. I'll try to take a photo.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Free Advice on What Not To Say at Work

 Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," home of one proficient (not distinguished) teacher. If you're a teacher yourself, you probably know just what I mean.

I totally expected the transition back to full-time teaching to be stressful. How could it not be? Last year I spent most of my days "teaching" from a recliner, while covered by the ample rump of Gamma Cat.

But this transition has been horrible. Worse than anticipation by a country mile.

I won't even go into the standardized testing (seven days out of the first 25, including the past two days). Nor will I dwell upon the fact that the assistant superintendent decided that the AP Lit kids would be better off with a substitute teacher than with me, when their teacher went out for emergency surgery. (Long story)

But what I will dwell upon here is toxic positivity. It's been a problem in my school district ever since I've been there.

Maybe you have this poison in your workplace, too?

"Let's all be positive here! If you just try being positive, you'll feel better!"

When someone says this, here's what I actually hear:

"It really sucks to work here, but don't you dare acknowledge that. Cover it up with a smile, and take whatever drugs you have to in order to keep that smile on your ugly mug."

Today we had another round of standardized testing. I hate using the computer programs and often fuck it up (including today). And yet two administrators tried to coax one of those phony baloney smiles out of me.

I wasn't having it. I'll smile when there's reason to smile, not because I'm told to smile.

But wait. There's more!

At lunchtime I have a paid "duty" in the cafeteria. I enjoy it, actually, because I'm buddies with all the janitors, and we joke around. Today, the new vice principal came in. She asked me how I was doing, and I admitted to being pretty stressed out.

Her response? "Ah, just have a glass of wine when you get home."

Wait. What?

Free advice to my three readers: Never recommend a glass of wine for a stressed-out employee! You might be speaking to an alcoholic.

This is what I mean by "toxic positivity." Instead of recommending a glass of wine, middle managers should be taught how to acknowledge the reality and severity of the stress. Just fucking listen.


William Shatner breaking down in tears because Jeff Bozos sent him into orbit? GAG ME WITH A PLATINUM SPOON.

You know what I'm positive about? I'm positive all billionaires should be eaten. With or without a glass of wine.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

May in October: A Pandemic Navel Gaze

 Two years. No festivals. It's enough to make a girl weep.

Okay, call me frivolous and silly if you like. I prefer to see myself as a chaotic magician in need of charging my skills through joyous and unusual festivities.

Words matter, right?

Anyway, it's been quite awhile since I had the opportunity to charge my chaotic magic, but I did so in spades over the weekend. 

For two decades, Spoutwood Farm hosted Fairy Festivals. The final one was in 2018, and we moved to a venue near Baltimore in 2019. Here's a nice photo from that shindig:


If you are in on this kind of magic, you see the power here. If you're not, wow! Look at that sky!

Well, the pandemic descended, and all revels were cancelled in 2020. Then 2021 hove into sight, and the revels were cancelled again. Not that I blame anybody. No one wants to go cavort in a field with their best friends and wind up with a novel coronavirus as a souvenir.

Over the summer, one of the chief revelers from the Fairy Festival arranged an event called "Lesstival" that would be open to those who volunteered their time to previous large festivals. And this one would be back at Spoutwood!

And so, with vaccine cards in hand, a few of us arrived at Spoutwood, donned our outlandish garb, and indulged in chaotic magic. I used the opportunity to re-charge my working wand, using Spoutwood energy. And now my wand is flat-out humming with power!

Spoutwood Farm is a beautiful location in the piedmont hills of York County, PA. It did get quite trampled during the many festivals there, and eventually the fair outgrew the farm. Now, three and a half years out from the last gathering there, the farm has transformed. The vines are thicker, the trees are larger, and the wooded areas are entirely the realm of the fae again. Just don't go in there, okay? It's lush and alluring. How very fairy.

So a few of us gathered at Spoutwood. We had music, and a Burning Man bonfire, and we danced a Maypole. Yes, a Maypole in October! 


If you look real close, that's me by the tree, contemplating the long, strange trip that led to a Maypole dance in October. 

Wow! Since we were adults, led by the owner of Spoutwood Farm, we actually wrapped that Maypole with panache! And had fun doing it. I came away from this mini-festival chock-a-block with chaos.

The best part of this festival was it had a nice long morning of downtime while all the tipplers nursed their hangovers. So I was able to take a charming drive through rural PA (complete with Amish buggies) and find a new waterfall for my collection! Look at this lovely falls!


Easy walk, not crowded, fantastic water symphony. And fool's gold in the rocks.

This was my weekend, soaking up some mayhem in the land of the fairies. It was so refreshing!

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Fast Times at Parent Night

 Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where surprises lurk like tripping hazards around every corner! I'm your befuddled host, Anne Johnson, proficient school teacher.

Once a year during the first week of October, public schools fling wide their doors for an evening event called -- variously -- Parent Night or Back-to-School Night. In the case of my school, this extravaganza also includes presentations and tours for potential students, since we are a magnet school.

This year, some person in the top ranks of our command squad decided that Covid risks are alarming enough to turn the bulk of Parent Night virtual. Interested 8th graders and their families would still be welcome in the building, but parents of existing students would have to come to Google Meets online.

So the command squad ordered each of us to create individual Meet links, and then the squad put all these links up on the school web site, with our names on them. The sun set over Camden, and we teachers reported to our classrooms and opened our Google Meets.

Parents started trickling in for me right away, considering that I now have 7 classes total.

About 30 minutes into the ordeal, it was time for the parents of my first class of freshmen to log in. So, the way Google Meet works is that someone asks to join and I (the teacher) have to admit them. Which of course I was admitting everyone, because email names and such are wacko to begin with.

Have you noticed that this younger generation is more technologically savvy than their elders?

My Meet attracted trolls with bad grammar and spelling and worse language. There I was, trying to tell parents about how I grade silent reading, while the "chat bar" was filling with the "n" word from some user who actually even blocked their ID in the chat. The ordeal culminated with a comment about Romeo and Juliet that suggested the play should be buggered by me, a white cracker (and some more insults) smoking that fine weed.

With the help of text messages from colleagues, I was able to purge the Meet of the monsters and resume affable chatting with parents. Certainly not my fault that the command put all those Google Meet links on a public platform.

If you are retired from the ed biz, like my friend Ol' Buzzard, you are very lucky indeed. Apparently this upstart social media platform named TikTok is giving youngsters the idea to film acts of vandalism and mayhem in the school setting. October, for instance, is "slap a teacher" month. I have no doubt that "disrupt online Parent Night" was a "challenge" as well.

Lord love a cross-eyed fruit fly! And to think I am staring down the barrel of seven more Parent Nights before I can hang up my chalk and retire! I think I may have to downsize the dreams of my golden years.

Monday, October 04, 2021

On Being a Content Creator

 Have you ever asked a teenager what they want to do with their life? I'll put this another way: When you were a teenager, what did you want to do with your life?

I had a solid career goal myself. I wanted to be on "The Partridge Family." 

This year a new career goal has surfaced among the students at my school. More than one student, both genders, report wanting to be a "content creator" or an "influencer."

The ready availability of uncensored social media platforms has made many teens long to be influential through posting something on TikTok or YouTube. They are now listing "content creator" as career goals.

I really think it's a shame that people think of Tide pod-eating when the words "content creator" get flung out there. In its basic concept, "content creating" is making something that didn't exist before. The idea of content creation casts a wide net, and that's why I am proud to say I am a content creator for "The Gods Are Bored!"

The difference between me and my students is that they want millions of followers, while I'm completely and blissfully satisfied with 225. Well, ahem, I would love for the Smithsonian Institution to accept my petition for immortality, but hey. You can't win them all.

Sometimes I'm frivolous. On rare occasions I'm serious. But funny or not, I'm fine with the appellation of  "content creator." For 20 happy years I created content for reference books (and wrote a few books myself), but I think "content creator" actually fits me better than "author." Certainly fits me better than "thinker" or "sage" or some such.

Now, let's move on to this whole "influencer" thing. I definitely want to be an Internet influencer, and my cat is not pulling his weight in this regard.

I put up salacious content like this all the time, and he just doesn't get any traction! Three hundred likes here, 65 likes there, it doesn't amount to the millions and millions I need to get that lucrative contract from Fancy Feast and Royal Canin.

This is in every way akin to how bored deities feel. All you want is a few disciples, a few faithful to light up a shrine or something on your behalf. But the field is crowded. So many content creators, so many influencers! No wonder perfectly sound Goddesses wind up selling funnel cakes at the flea market. It's a cold, hard world out there.

Boost my cat, will you? And poor Sedna ... will you boost Her too? So grateful!