Wednesday, October 29, 2008

won't be the same

An earlier version of today’s post sounded a little too assholey so I’ve decided to change gears and go with an earlier idea.
A few days ago I was walking to the bus and saw something that was pretty disgusting. On the sidewalk in front of me were the contents of someone’s stomach. Seeing puke is never a pleasant sight first thing in the morning but that wasn’t the grossest part. The honour went to the pigeon that was busy eating up the pasty little bits speckling the sidewalk. Blah, the thought of it makes my stomach a little queasy. So why, you may wonder, am I telling you this? While I continued walking I started thinking – that’s pretty gross but I’ve seen grosser.

Cue flashback music.

The summer of 1999 was a tough one. For reasons that no longer hold-up I had chosen to go home rather than return to Camp Chief Hector. Compounded with my missing camp was the fact that none of my friends from high school were around, there was also plenty of family drama, and people a lot younger than me kept telling me about partying with my mom (this is also an unpleasant thought but not the focus of this post). However, more than anything else it was my second job that ended up indelibly etched in my memory. That summer I was one of the few, the proud, and the thoroughly disgusted, I was a campground cleaner.

I can clearly remember one of my co-workers silently crying after finishing her first day on the job. The tears were warranted, as no one really deserves to see what we saw on a daily basis. We had to clean both outhouses and bathrooms with plumbing, among other things. Unfortunately, running water didn’t really make much of a difference. People on a camping holiday seemed to forget the basics of acting like human beings. For example, it was common to have to scrub away finger paintings, usually done with whatever was on-hand (pun definitely intended). Sometimes the paintings were quite intricate. Tour groups would usually abuse the outhouses they happened to stop at. It was common to encounter a ‘Mt. Shitmore’ (as my co-workers called it). This was formed in one of two ways 1) people would start going on the floor and build up from there 2) it was a naturally occurring phenomena that happened when the output exceeded the containment space.
I feel as though I’m crossing the line of poor taste so maybe I’ll stop with the descriptions. How about a reader poll – does anyone have a gross memory they’d like to share?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

that's not my name

For all those who were wondering – the publishing company I wrote to did get back to me. Here’s their response:

Hello Jessie,
Editorial appreciates your feedback and will take your comments into consideration as part of our Error Correction process

Wow, thanks. The misspelling of my first name is also a nice touch. It’s not like my name didn’t appear in the ‘from’ section of the e-mail and at the end of my brief letter.
Others may be wondering if I’ve heard back from the school and the answer is no. There are two possible reasons for this: 1) The school board insisted the school pick someone already on the ‘hire’ list. 2) This one is entirely on me, but justifiable – I’m not yet licensed to teach in Ontario. The reason is simple enough – I’ve never made it on the eligible to hire list. There was no point in shelling out money for a teaching licence if I wasn't going to be teaching. It’s true that an equally convincing argument could be made that I should have applied regardless. So, in the spirit of fairness I’ve decided to conduct a random poll of people on the street and get their reactions. Here’s what some had to say:

Darshan S. – Well, it makes sense that if he knew in April that he wasn’t going to be hired for the rest of the year than there wasn’t much reason to get the licence

Samantha H. – Seriously! He didn’t get his licence? Does he not want to be a teacher?

Tobby L. – Who?

Linda M. – Hmmm, that’s like a chicken and the egg question – what comes first the job or the licence?

Tobby L. – No seriously, who?

Carol B. – He doesn’t live with his parents does he? No, is he single?

Oleksandr K. – this response had to be censored to fit the blog’s mostly PG-13 rating.

Tobby L. – Do I know him?

So, am I a man of principal or a self-saboteur? Probably a bit of both. However, I'm not unconvinced that reason #1 hasn't had some bearing on all this.
The search for new, and better, employment continues.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

she's sitting on the beach

It's been a strange week. Last Tuesday I came home to find a message on the answering machine from a woman I'd never heard of asking me to fax my resume to the name of a school that I couldn't quite make out. I had to google the fax number in order to find out where the woman was calling from. My confusion didn't let up when it turned out the school was part of the Toronto District School Board.

A brief side note: The TDSB accepts applications starting on Jan. 2 of every year. They then determine who they're going to interview for the 'eligible to hire' list by March or April. If a teacher isn't on the 'eligible to hire' list they can't teach or even substitute for any school within the TDSB. Consequently, applicants (such as myself) who didn't hear anything back from the TDSB after April know that they will have to wait until next January to try again.

At first I thought there must have been a clerical error. Interviews with individual schools only come after being granted a coveted position on 'the list.' I'm not on the list. If I were a robot, this conundrum would have caused my head to explode. Regardless, I sent in my resume and was subsequently asked to come in for an interview on Thursday.

Another side note: The school is in Scarborough. I don't live anywhere near Scarborough. Capital M however works just down the street from the school.

The interview went well.  This was largely due to my interviewers not knowing I was waiting for them and thereby giving me more time to prepare.  When I arrived at the school I was handed a copy of the interview questions.  If I hadn't been given the questions before the interview I don't think I would have answered some of them very well.  

When I returned home there was another message from the school.  They wanted me to go back on Friday to do another interview.  This interview would be for the TDSB's 'eligible to hire list.'  So back I went (calling in sick yet another day).  Once again luck was on my side as I was given a copy of the interview questions before the meeting.  Only this time it turned out that I wasn't actually supposed to get them and they were taken back a few minutes later.  However, I had already read through all the questions.  That interview also went well, thanks in part to a mistake.

So where does this leave me?  There is a possibility I could be hired for the rest of this calender year to teach high school English and Social Studies.  It is still entirely possible that this won't work out but regardless of whether it does, or doesn't, this has to be the strangest job process I've ever experienced.

Monday, October 06, 2008

rebirth of slick

Because I care, I sent a letter of complaint to a publisher. Here's the letter:

To Whom it may concern:
My place of employment uses the More Reading Comprehension in Varied Subject Matter series. I was reading through selection 16, 'Annabel Lee' by Edgar Allen Poe in MRCVSM: book 1 and was very surprised by what I saw. The series author, Jane Ervin, treats this poem as though Poe was recounting a personal experience. In almost every question she refers to ‘the poet’ instead of ‘the narrator.’ Those two words are not synonymous. Here's an example of a question:
True or False
(a) The poet fell in love with Annabel Lee long before he wrote the poem
(b) The poet and Annabel lived on an island
As an English teacher, I always stress to my students that authors are not always the narrators of their works. Quite frankly, I’m surprised that your resource doesn’t make this distinction – it makes me question the integrity and academic scholarship of the series author. I hope that future editions will correct this glaring oversight.

Jesse V.

Alright, so I'm not an English teacher, but if I were I would remind my students of the aforementioned distinction. As well, the true or false questions aren't meant to be a trick and answered all false. Stay tuned for the publisher's response.

Lastly, I'm thinking that maybe a masters in library science is the way forward for me.

Friday, October 03, 2008

the street where you still live

I know I'm not supposed to laugh at the misfortune of others but today I just couldn't help it. Part of the course requirement for 'students' doing a vocational training program is that they work through a WHMIS CD. The information is presented in a confusing manner and narrated by a cranky, yet very boring, grandmotherly voice. There isn't much I can do for the poor souls who have to sit through that terrible CD beyond clearing up how to navigate its contents. At first most people are kind of keen but it doesn't take long before I start to hear sighs. This is usally followed by questions like: 'how long is this?' and then another even bigger sigh when I tell them they're on section one of five. In the background, the narrator's voice continues to drone on. I'm not sure if it's the voice, or the students' reactions or both that are starting to make me burst out laughing. Generally speaking, there is nothing funny about my job. Most people don't hear me laugh but today I couldn't stop.

Reason #43 why I need a new job: I am going insane

Thursday, October 02, 2008

pork and beans

Capital M and I went and saw Weezer on Tuesday night. All said, I thought the concert rocked (with the exception of the drunken oaf seated next to us who tried his best to ruin the experience). I could write a concert review but I found one that says pretty much what I would have.

Weezer Review - Air Canada Centre Sept. 30, 2008
Josie C.
Staff writer for Underfunded Publications

In case anyone is unfamiliar with Weezer's older works prior to their self-titled Red Album, I feel that it is my responsibility to inform you that I bought their first album on a cassette tape. Tonight's concert at the Air Canada Centre brought out the best offerings of the band's lengthy history, from 'Say it Ain't so' to 'The Greatest Man that Ever Lived.' Surprisingly, Rivers Cuomo, the band's front man, frequently let his other band mates take the spotlight and supply the lead vocals. I was somewhat disappointed that Cuomo didn't sing 'Perfect Situation.' It's one of my favourite songs from the Make Believe album and it just didn't feel the same without Cuomo.
At one point the band brought out some instrument playing uber-fans and they were given a chance to perform along to 'Island In The Sun' and 'Beverly Hills.' During 'Beverly Hills' I was reminded of the SNL sketch with Christopher Walker requesting 'more cowbell.' Yes, that's right, there was a cowbell solo during 'Beverly Hills.'
I give this performance 7 cowbells out of 8.