Don’t breath on me !

Everyone in my school is some state of the verb sick, as in, was sick, is sick , or will be sick.   No kidding. One third of our students are absent .  The remainder are in some state of sickness past, present or future.  Since swine flu hit Switzerland, I am afraid to breath.
Kids come to my lesson a)  feeling sick  b) having been sick  or c)  imagining being sick.
I follow school protocol and send students  to the nurse.  She sends them home.  Forty-eight hours later, Mom sends them back to me.  
« Why did you come back to school if you were sick ? »  I ask.
They answer because, a) I was bored ,  b) I didn’t feel sick after I got home or c) mom had to go back to work
So much for quarantine. 
Each day I walk through the halls dodging bullets. Students cough into their elbows and sneeze on my keyboard.  I washed my hands so frequently, I erased my fingerprints.  After all the hype, I wish I would get the flu to get it  over with. 
Everytime I turn on TV, I hear about another outbreak with terrifying fatalities in some part of the world. Not to make light of a  serious situation, but somebody is always dying somewhere.  Before CNN, we never heard about it.  
When your immune system is wacked-out like mine, you no longer fear getting sick.  Illness is part of your daily life, so as my British colleagues say, « you just get on with it. » Granted people have died from H1N1, yet people perish from the seasonal flu without all the pandamonium. I adopted a fatalistic approach. I have a poor track record as far as illness.  I have been sick every November for the past decade. That said, I listen to my body.  I am the only person on the planet that sleeps ten hours a night and eats the daily recommended one dozen servings of fruits and vegetables . 
Is the threat real or media hype ? News is so sensationalized no one believes journalists anymore.  No one believes the government either, no matter what country you live in. If the  H1N1 vaccination is so important then why are the medical professionals balking  about receiving the jab? According to my Swiss doctor, an immunologist, the flu, itself, is safer than the vaccination.  He  believes that the mafia is manipulating pharmaceutical companies  and behind all drama.
The French health minister announced 16 new deaths last week and urged people to get vaccinated, but no lines are forming at flu prevention centers.  Journalist have been crying wolf about the flu pandemic since  its outbreak  last March, so when it hits one’s neighborhood, people are blasé.
Go ahead listen to the authorities, get the jab, wash your hands, wear the mask, or try my foolproof advice.  Don’t breath until May.

A Word A Day Keeps Doctor Away

I subscribe to A. Word. A. Day, though anyone who never deletes messages and regularly receives warnings, “your mailbox is full, you may no longer send or receive mail “ has no business collecting more words. But there are too many wonderful expressions out there.Like the word that flashed on my computer screen today. Nihilarian comes from Latin, nihil, for nothing, and means one who feels their work, is useless. Like it sounds, this word is hilarious, so LOL, which in SMS speak, means laugh out loud, (not love a lot, like I thought.) Great word. Describes my life.

Probably depicts your life too especially if you work in business, government, military, or education, like me. Unless self-employed, like it or not, we are cogs in the machine. My medium, education, epitomizes bureaucratic redundancy. Bureaucrats love to develop new theories and adopt new strategies. It makes administrators feel creative.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in education. No one loves the double speak, gobbledy gook, psycho babble more than school officials who pontificate on how to learn, what to learn and what constitutes knowledge. Consequently every so often, educators worldwide are obliged to rewrite the curriculum, so that it can sit on a shelf for the next decade until it is time to pass accreditation again.

At our last staff meeting, gearing up for our next accreditation, our director urged us to sign up for horizontal and vertical assessment teams. Horizontal squad? That’s for me, I thought, slumping in my seat, eyes at half-mast, nodding off.

In the education factory, caught up in the frenzy of curriculum, reports, assessments, accreditation, and accountability, I wonder what happened to the good ol’ days when all we did was teach? I spend more of my waking hours in meetings and in front of computer screens diagramming and documenting data, than in contact with kids.

The school system offers a parody of real life. Committee membership reigns over thought processes.A famous French leader, De Gaulle, coined the adage, “Want to bury a problem, form a committee”. Politicians taught us that.In the USA, we can also thank government for No Child Left Behind legislation, which as any teacher knows, is still wreaking havoc in our public school systems.

Schools offer a smorgasbord of committee choices.Strategic Planning Assembly. Campus Development Group. Ecology Awareness Association.Pilot Program for Global Responsiveness.And now our new Horizontal Assessment Team.

Alas in an era where technology makes us slave to machines and human contact is at a all time low, at an age when the food we eat, air we breath, and water we drink can be hazardous for our health, words remain a harmless indulgence. A word a day dropping out of cyberspace for free is a mini gift for our minds. When the drudgery of your job gets you down, google Wordsmith.org. for an environmental-friendly, safe, cheap chuckle a day.

The Paper Pack Rat

I am an obsessive-compulsive word saver. I keep anything printed. I own more books than the local library. My favorite authors’ ‘chef d’oeuvres’ are triple stacked on shelves lining my home’s hallways. So many guests have been knocked out en route to our restroom that I posted warning signs. Proceed at your own peril. Beware falling books!

I have file cabinets loaded with newspaper articles from the 70’ and 80’s and binders filled with columns, articles, books, screenplays and other half-baked ideas. My musings are stacked from the floor to ceiling in every corner of our house

Semi annually, I make a pact to get organized and head to nearest stationary store with best intentions. I buy cartloads of color coded folders and dividers, but never file a single story. Where do I begin? Consequently, I now have shelves filled with a lovely assortment of empty organizers in rainbow colors.

Worse yet, I also save every warm-hearted letter, card or poem anyone ever wrote me. My inspiration shelf is covered with kind words penned by family or friends.

If only I had confined my vice to the home front, I could cope, but my malady invaded my work place as well. Lesson plans, students’ portfolios, and professional journals are sprawled across offices in four different departments in the school where I teach. Now, in addition to my hubby, I drive my colleagues crazy, too.

If this illness was only confined to hardcopy, it could be manageable, but now I collect everything written in cyberspace. At work I have 400 emails in my inbox, some from people whose names I no longer recognize. At home I have double that number with another 500 saved in sent mail. There is no longer any blank space on my writing table or on my virtual Mac Book desktop.

Ironically, though I hoard ideas in fear I may need that article, quote, or comment, I would never find it again. I waste hours tearing up the house and school searching for the perfect phrase that aptly inspires or consoles, that I know I saved somewhere.

When did I become a word junky? I blame my grandma, also a writer, when she gave me my first diary in grade school. Naturally, I misplaced that too. However I wasn’t surprised when thirty years later, new owners of the house discovered my diary tucked on ledge in my former bedroom and mailed it to me. Like homing pigeons even lost words find their way home.

Not only do I collect paper print, but I also saved T-shirts bearing the logo of every team I was affiliated with during my forty year career. Therefore not only are my shelves filled, my closets are overflowing.

I debated starting a self-help group for chronic collectors, but we would never move beyond the initial confession, “My name is Pat. I am a pack rat.” Though I would be the first to admit my addiction, I am the last person on earth to know how to cure such an ailment. Alas blogger buddies, I turn to you for advice. How do you begin to part with a lifetime’s recording of memories. Any tips for how to let go of words?