RIP to the King of the World, Master of the Universe–the Big Man, Clarence Clemons

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Clarence Clemons died Saturday night.

Which is a sentence that I hoped never to have to write. And to be honest, if there was anyone out there who could defeat death, I’d argue that Clarence would have been that guy.

My younger readers are scratching their heads trying to figure that out right now.

Well kids, gather ‘round. It’s story time.

Yes, Clarence Clemons was that guy who played on the new Lady Gaga album.

But if that’s all you know him for, Gaga herself would be ashamed of you. Because she didn’t pick him randomly to play on her album. She picked him because he was the best of the best. The Big Man. The King of the World. Master of the Universe.

And when the Boss himself introduces you that way, it means it’s true.

I spent Saturday night in a state of shock, listening to old Bruce albums on vinyl and trying (unsuccessfully for the most part) not to cry at the sax solos.

And there are a lot of really great eulogies out there online already, most of which made me cry as well. But I’m not here to make you cry today. That wasn’t Clarence’s goal on stage. He wanted to make us smile, as he said in numerous interviews. So in that vein, I’d like to talk about why Clarence was just so awesome.

I’ve blogged before about how I got into listening to Springsteen and how I started kind of late.  But I think I always had a vague awareness even before I chose to listen to the music that Bruce’s saxophone player was called “the Big Man,” both because my father called him that and because that was how Bruce referenced him in so many of the live versions of songs that provided the background soundtrack of my childhood.

My first real recognition of Clarence’s importance to the music however, came when I had just started listening to Bruce in college. My boyfriend at the time had told me that he’d heard a Bruce song on the radio and thought of me. I was skeptical. While I liked the guy (the boyfriend, I mean—I already LOVED Bruce), his musical awareness was…um…lacking. Which I learned when we were in the car one day and a song came on the radio and my boyfriend exclaimed, “Change the channel! I REALLY hate the Eagles!”

The song was “Sultans of Swing,” by Dire Straits.

So when he told me that he’d heard a Bruce song, I wasn’t sure he was right, and I asked which song it was. He didn’t remember. I asked how he knew it was Bruce then. And he told me that he would “know that saxophone anywhere.”

I later figured out that the song he’d heard was the Detroit Medley, which Bruce didn’t write. But he was right. Clarence’s sax on that was unmistakable.

Clarence didn’t become the stuff of legends to me, however, until I raided my father’s and uncle’s bootleg collections about a year later. I absolutely devoured those old cassette tapes, playing them in the car, one after another, and I would often drive extra laps around the block once I’d reached my destination just to finish whatever song or story was playing.

But while the music was what hooked me, what I loved most about those tapes were the stories. And the very best of the stories always involved Clarence. So rather than me butchering them, I’m going to let Bruce tell them himself here. It was hard to narrow down, but these are my three very favorite Bruce/Clarence stories.

Story starts at about 2:12
“The E Street Shuffle” from the Bottom Line, 8/15/75

Story starts about about 4:45 
“Growin’ Up” at the Agora 8/9/78

Story starts at about 2:40
“Growin’ Up” from the Capital Centre 8/26/84

Yet to truly appreciate the magnificence that was Clarence Clemons, I think you had to see the band live. Granted, I didn’t start going to shows until 2003, but I feel blessed that I got to see Clarence perform in a full twenty E Street Band shows. And while I honestly don’t think there is a way to explain the magic that was a Clarence solo if you didn’t get to experience it live, one of my most special concert memories is of one of those solos.

At the end of the Magic tour, I went to two shows back-to-back nights, Richmond and then Hershey Park. I skipped the first day back at school for teachers to do so, claiming that I was *cough cough* sick (which, as anyone who knows me well knows, means that Bruce is playing somewhere on the east coast). My dad went with me to the second of the two shows and on the drive up, we asked each other, as we always did before a show, what song we most wanted to hear that night. We’d had some pretty awesome luck with that game before, as my dad had said “For You” the night of our first show, which we heard, I’d said “Santa Ana”—with the caveat that I knew it would NEVER happen—the night that he DID first play it in Philadelphia on the Devils and Dust tour, along with a few other winners.

But that night, my dad said “Jungleland.” It was my twentieth Bruce show overall and my fourteenth E Street Band show, yet somehow I had never heard “Jungleland” live. And I remember nodding when my dad suggested that particular song and saying, “Me too.”

So I remember the overwhelming emotion I felt when I heard the opening notes to “Jungleland” that night. That year, 2008, had been incredibly rough for my entire family and finally hearing that song, that one song that my dad and I had hoped to hear for the five years that we had been going to shows together, provided this incredible catharsis. I cried through most of the song and my dad just put his arm around me.  And I remember thinking, as Clarence began his solo, that things really were going to be okay. It was the first time all year that I actually believed that was true.

I know I said I wasn’t going to get all sad there (sorry… I failed), so to close out, here are some videos of how I’d like to remember Clarence.


“Born to Run”


“10th Avenue Freeze Out”

Thank you, Clarence, for all that you’ve given me and the world.

We’ll miss you. But none of us who have seen you play or who have really heard your music will ever forget you or the influence you’ve had on music ever since that change was made up town and the Big Man joined the band.

FREEDOM! (Aka the last day of school… if I can keep my mouth shut for a few hours!)

Today is a really exciting day for me.


It’s the last day of school.

But more than that, it’s my last day EVER at the school that I’ve been at for the last five years. And while I’ll miss my kids like crazy, it’s still cause for so much celebration that I think that just speaking that sentence should be accompanied by a full gospel choir singing “Hallelujah” every single time I say it.

Now I know what you’re thinking (because I’m psychic. Madam Marie’s granddaughter said it, therefore it’s obviously 100 percent true). You’re thinking that I’m going to take this opportunity to spell out in glorious detail why I’m so ecstatic to be leaving.

But I’m not.

Because as my mother keeps reminding me every 37 seconds as the hour of my final departure approaches, I have too much class to leave on a low note.

So I’m not going to blast the people who made my life a living hell for the last 1,826 days.

I’m really not.


I hope.

There is, however, one SLIGHT, miniscule, teeny-tiny, itty-bitty, Snooki-sized little hiccup in my plan to make a classy exit.

We have an end-of-year luncheon/staff meeting.

Which is where the administration announces all the people who are leaving the school.

And as I found out yesterday, the people who are leaving are handed the microphone to say a few words.

Now okay, I’m confident that I can make it through the luncheon without jumping up and telling people to do something that isn’t anatomically possible to do to themselves. And I’m ALMOST confident that I can make it through whatever is going to be said about me without calling anyone a liar (at best).

But put a microphone in front of me when I have a captive audience of the people I’d like to address?

Houston, we have a BIG problem.

And I can’t just skip the lunch, because if I do, it means I have to go to work again on Friday, and I do NOT want to spend another day there.

Which means that I need to go in with a plan. Because if I get up there and wing it, class, dignity, and tact are going to be a distant memory.

So I came up with a list of things that I can do when handed the microphone OTHER than say exactly what I think:

#1 Hide a bugle under my clothes. When handed the mic, whip it out and perform “Taps.” (Of course, first I’d have to get a bugle and learn to play it. But it’d be funny.)

#2 Stand up in front of the microphone and cry. Like serious hysterical bawling. For approximately 20 minutes. Then run out of the room and never come back.

#3 Take the mic and do the entire response to Billy’s answer at the end of Billy Madison. You know the one. “What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.” Then sit down.

#4 Deliver the entire Gettysburg Address. Twice. Stop every time anyone makes any noise during it, stare them down, and start again from the beginning.

#6 Bring a guitar (first learn to play), and perform the song “Alice’s Restaurant” in full. Same rules as the Gettysburg Address apply. Also stop if anyone tries to sing along.

Arlo Guthrie Alice’s Restaurant by shawshawshaw

#7 Take a cue from Bruce Springsteen’s first show in 2003 after losing the Grammy to Norah Jones (which, to be fair, only happened because he and Eminem split the vote too much). Walk up to the mic and very politely say, “I’d like to thank absolutely fucking nobody.”  (I tried to find the clip of this. I failed.  Sorry.)

#8 Make the Jenna Marbles face until they take the mic away.

#9 Pretend I’m accepting an Oscar and make a full speech thanking my friends, family, hairstylist, etc.

#10 Bring Rosie with me. When they hand me the mic, hold her up to it and say she’d like to say a few words. Then keep saying, “Come on, Rosie, don’t be shy.” And tell the crowd that I don’t know why she’s being shy all of a sudden, she spent all night last night practicing what to say. Then tell her she’s a bad dog for wasting everyone’s time and leave.

#11 Start speaking in tongues. Get someone dressed as a priest to come in and perform a full exorcism.

#12 Prepare a 27-page, single-spaced speech, warmly thanking every single person at the school who was mean to me for their constant support of both me and the work I do. End by profusely thanking my lord and savior, Jesus Christ, just in case they didn’t get the message that I’m being sarcastic.

#13 When they hand me the mic, just scream at the top of my lungs until they take it away. Then act like nothing happened.

#14 Bring a lawyer. When handed the mic, have the lawyer take it and tell the crowd, “my client has no comment at this time.”

#15 Tell the whole crowd EXACTLY what I think they should go do. In Yiddish. I’m pretty much the only Jew on staff, so if I tell them all to “Gai kakhen afenyam,” they’ll think it’s the same as number 11 and call in a priest.

And finally, #16 decline, with a polite, “No thank you… assface.”

I haven’t decided yet which of these ideas I’m going to implement, so if you have a preference (or better suggestion) before 12:30 today, please let me know.

(And mom, before you freak out at this, don’t worry. Option #17, which is the one I’m going to TRY to do, is saying “No thank you” and only THINKING the “assface” line.)

Happy summer everyone!

"Ask me about my wiener!" Just don’t ask Anthony Weiner about his…

Because I’ve been spending all of my free time working on getting my latest book out and packing up at school for my big move to Watkins Mill (go Wolverines!) for next year, I haven’t been paying much attention to the news.

Which is why I’m SO grateful to Anthony Weiner for screwing his life up SO utterly that his sexting scandal is still going on.

In fact, Nancy Pelosi telling him to get his ass out of Congress on Saturday kept it as some of the country’s top news.

Okay, officially she told him he needed to “step down.” But I’m positive that the conversation really went something like this:

Anthony (answering the phone): Hello?

Nancy: Weiner, you douche-asaurus rex, get your moronic sexting ass out of Congress before I kill and eat you.

Now that may not sound like much of a threat because Nancy Pelosi is pretty tiny (I saw her in the pit at a Springsteen show at the Verizon center once and she’s literally Snooki-short). But the tiny ones are usually the scariest. I feel like people would laugh at her if she threatened them and then it’d be like the rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

That rabbit’s got a vicious streak a mile wide!  It’s a killer!

But I digress.

I’m kind of torn on whether Weiner needs to actually step down or not, to be honest. I mean, is he a cheating scumbag? Absolutely. Is he an idiot for putting his flirtations in writing/pictures? Definitely. Is he alone? Hell no.

I hate to break it to you, but I think everyone who has a phone/email address has sent a racy text message or email at some point in the last ten years.

People get so up in arms about teenagers sexting, but I think the problem there is more about their age than the fact that they’re sending dirty messages. And I’m pretty sure that men have taken pictures of their genitals starting back with Jacques Daguerre (the dude who invented the daguerreotype, which was basically the first widespread type of pre-film image). You can’t tell me that he invented modern photography and DIDN’T try to see what his junk looked like in a daguerreotype. Sorry. Not buying it.

And yes, even I have sent some less than appropriate messages before.

Wait, did you hear that?

It sounded like a banshee coming to steal my soul.

Oh wait, it was just the sound of my mother screaming in horror/rage.

Sorry mom.

So if we’ve all done it, do we have any room to condemn Anthony Weiner?

Well I don’t know about you, but I have plenty of room to.


Because I’m not married and I’m not an elected official who’s hoping to be the next mayor of New York City.

I also don’t have a last name that pretty much MEANS what he was sending pictures of.

Sorry Mr. Weiner. You lose.

But he’s certainly not alone, even in being a married elected official. He’s now joined a LONG list of cheating scumbag politicians who got caught. And I’m sure there are even more out there who just HAVEN’T been caught yet.

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of speculation in the news about the connection between politics and sex. And I know the answer. It’s much simpler than you’d think actually.

I’ll give you a hint.

Why do people go into politics?

If you said, “to help people,” congratulations, you’re NOT a cynical, jaded jerk yet.

If you said, “ostensibly to help people, but really because they like having the power to control what happens,” then congratulations! You’re a cynical bastard, but you’re also right.

So they like power, okay, who doesn’t? I mean, I personally fully intend to take over the world someday. Does that mean I’m going to sleep around as soon as I’m in power?

Hell no! Have you seen me? I don’t need power to get laid! I’m a chick.

But have you seen the men in our government? Yikes… NOT an attractive group over all. These are guys who weren’t exactly fighting the ladies off with a stick before becoming famous/influential/powerful. So when beautiful women start finding them fascinating (aka rich/famous), they don’t have enough experience/willpower/brains to resist them.

This isn’t anything new. Contrary to popular belief, Bill Clinton did NOT invent the sex scandal. This has been going on since the dawn of time. The only difference is that technology has made the extra-marital activities of politicians into TMZ fodder.

So what’s the answer?

You had to know I’d have one, right?

I’ve got a formula for calculating whether politicians are allowed to cheat in peace or whether they need to get their butts out of office before Nancy Pelosi launches herself at them like an angry Oompa Loompa.


We need to convert several factors into numbers first. So on a scale of 1-10, 1 being bad, 10 being awesome, we need to determine the politician’s positive influence on his or her constituency at the time of the crisis. We also need to rank the hotness of the politician’s wife, the hotness of the other women, and the efforts that the politician made to conceal the affairs.

Once you have all of that information, the formula is simple:

(Positive influence x hotness of other women) / (hotness of wife x effort to conceal affair) minus 3 if your wife is dying/pregnant/off saving the free world when you cheated on her.

If the number is greater than one, you can stay in office. If it’s under one, you’re out.

Let’s try this out with a couple of examples.

For Bill Clinton, I would argue that our formula looks like this (8 x 3) / (2 x 9). It’s greater than one, so he stays in office.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: (5 x 4) / (6 x 10). Less than one.  Therefore, if he’d still been in office, he’d have to go.  Sorry Arnold.  But good move not telling people until you were out of office!

Now that brings us to our dear friend Anthony Weiner: (5 x 7) / (6 x 2). His number is over one, would mean that he can stay.  But when you subtract 3 for his wife being preggers, he’s out.

It’s the perfect formula.

Which means that I’m terribly sorry, Anthony, but it’s over. You’re done. Thanks for playing though. And I’d recommend leaving on your own. Because you do NOT want Nancy Pelosi coming for you.

Which would probably look something like this:

(couldn’t get the video to embed, sorry!)

Roman Glass: An interview with the author, by the author

As you probably know by now, my second novel, Roman Glass, came out this week.

But I still don’t have a publishing contract. Meaning that, among other publicity problems, no one is beating down my door for an interview with the author yet, so I figured I’d do my own interview for my readers. You can just print this out and glue it into the back of the book like one of those book club guides when your copy arrives from Amazon.

Q:  Roman Glass is set in Israel, which is kind of an odd choice, considering that you live in the DC area. What inspired the novel?

A:  What a great question! I’ve been to Israel three times now and the most recent trip, in December 2007 for my cousin’s bar mitzvah. It was kind of horrific timing as my uncle on my dad’s side of the family was dying at the time, but my mother, uncle and I were already committed to go and everyone on both sides of the family told us we should go.

My mom, my uncle Mike, and me in Israel, December 2007

It was an interesting trip, to say the least. I won’t go into too many details to avoid being axe murdered by angry relatives (which yes, is likely to happen. Especially when some of them read the acknowledgments). But the idea for the story hit me as we were sitting in the airport, New Year’s Day 2008, waiting for our flight home. We were in the terminal and there was this super hot guy, who was clearly orthodox (meaning he wouldn’t have given me the time of day), putting on tfillen. (If you don’t know what that is, don’t ask me because I can’t explain it. That’s why we have Google.) And I remember asking myself, “What would it take to get me to stay here? What would have had to have happened this week to make me wonder if I should be getting on the plane today?”

I started scribbling in a notebook then and there and began creating my characters/the scenario of Danielle going to Israel for a family event that she wasn’t thrilled about. Then, on the flight, I pulled out my laptop and wrote the final chapter. Just as I was finishing it, my mother turned to me and said, “You know, there’s a book in this trip somewhere.”  And I started laughing and told her I’d just written the ending for it. She asked what it was about and even though I usually avoid those conversations until the book is close to done, I started discussing the idea and fleshing it out verbally with her.

And Roman Glass was born. (Although it was called Reason to Believe at the time and for a long time after. Then Beshert. Then Random Untitled Novel about Israel Because I Can’t Come Up with a Goddamned Title. Then Roman Glass. It was a REALLY tough call between the last two—I’m still not positive I made the right choice.)

Q: Your first book, Beyond the Palace, was pretty Springsteen-heavy. Is this one the same way?

A: Nope! TOTALLY different concept in this one.  I mean, the characters in Beyond the Palace meet following Bruce because they say to write what you know. I branched out from that in Roman Glass. This one actually required a LOT of research. I lived with Israeli tour books and books on Israeli history on my coffee table for about a year. There’s one direct Bruce reference in it, which is more of a joke than anything else. And a couple of indirect references that only the hardcore fans will spot (For example, Eyal does what Spanish Johnny does in one scene—if that means anything to you, you’ll spot it. If it doesn’t, don’t worry about it.)

Q: How much of you is there in Danielle? Is she a similar character to Laura from Beyond the Palace?

A: I’d argue that there’s a lot of me in ALL of my characters, not just Danielle. But Danielle is probably the most like me out of any of the characters I’ve written. Except that she doesn’t believe in anything she can’t see or touch and I believe in plenty of things that I have no proof of (especially after watching horror movies when I’m home alone… then I’m 100 percent convinced that everything evil from the movie is living in my house and waiting to kill and eat me. Danielle would never believe in any of that!). She and Laura share some of my characteristics—for example, they’re both insomniacs and they’re both runners. But overall, Laura and Danielle would HATE each other. Like if they were real and you put them in a room together, only one would survive. And my money is on Danielle.

Part of my motivation in creating her though was that I wanted to branch out from Laura. Laura is utterly screwed up as a result of other people. When it came to writing Danielle, it was very important to me to write a character who was screwed up on her own. I didn’t want anyone to have done anything horrible to her. I just wanted her to have a sense of disconnect about who she felt everyone wanted her to be. And because of that, I feel that she has more room to grow than Laura does, which, at least to me, made her a more satisfying character.

Q: Israel is kind of a touchy subject. How did you handle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the novel?

A: CAREFULLY! I wanted to show the extreme distrust on both sides, because that IS a huge part of life in Israel, but I also didn’t want to make the novel a huge political statement. And while, as a Jew, I’m obviously pro-Israel, I really wanted to show that the extremists on BOTH sides are wrong. Eyal points out in the novel that his mother believes that “The only good Arab is a dead Arab.” I’ve actually heard Israelis say that! And while I’m in no way ever going to condone any of the acts of terrorism perpetrated by Palestinian extremist groups, I also cannot condone the idea that every Palestinian is evil and needs to be destroyed. Danielle’s cab driver in the beginning of the novel goes off on an anti-Arab rant to illustrate the attitude that you can find running rampant in Israel, but I think I make it pretty clear in the novel that it’s the extremists who are in the wrong, not the entirety of any group of people.

My mom and me, outside the Old City of Jerusalem, December 2007

Q: Are readers going to be able to relate to this book if they’re not Jewish?

A: I definitely think so!  It’s less of a book about being Jewish than a book about a character figuring out how she fits into her own family and her culture and I think a lot of people have felt a disconnect from who everyone else wanted them to be at some point in their lives.

I also had my characters spend a lot of time at sites that were holy to other religions as well as non-religious historical sites. Because it doesn’t matter what you believe in, Israel is one of the places where the world has changed for everyone quite a few times. And that’s what one of the most crucial scenes in the book is about—that we’re all connected and we’re all part of something bigger. Even if we can’t see what it is from where we’re currently standing.

Q: Beshert seems to be a big concept in the book. What is your definition it?

A: There are a couple of definitions actually. The literal translation is “fate,” “destiny,” or “meant to be.” But a lot of people use it as a noun describing a soulmate. I kind of use both versions in Roman Glass. And it’s a concept that I find extremely comforting. If you can believe that life is going to work out the way that it’s meant to, then it means that even when it feels like you screwed up big time, you’re just taking another step on the path you’re meant to take.

But I don’t think it’s ALL beshert in life. Which is why I started with the quote “Somehow we choose our own destiny” (and thank you Jesse Malin for letting me use that—That line was the first thing that I wrote in that notebook in Ben Gurion airport when I came up with the idea for the book, so it’s kind of cool that I later met him and actually got permission to use it). I think that at least some of the choices you make DO matter. I’m not sure that we’re all part of some master plan, and there are a lot of days when I’m pretty sure we’re not. But as Eyal explains to Danielle in the novel, that’s the definition of faith: being able to believe something without definite proof of it. And I have faith that things ARE going to work out in the end, which is my definition of the word beshert.

On top of Masada, with the Dead Sea in the background

Q: What’s on the agenda for the next book?

A: Geez, I just put this one out! Give it a rest already!

I’m mapping out ideas for the next one now. I’ve spent the last couple of years kind of mulling over the idea of the Arthurian love triangle. Guinevere usually gets blamed (TH White is kind of the exception, but she still came across as a whiney shrew in The Once and Future King), and I’ve been toying with the idea of three characters who ALL genuinely love each other (no, not like THAT—not that there’s anything wrong with that). It’s not going to be an actual King Arthur story, but I’m working on that relationship angle.

But my mother keeps telling me to write a funny book, so I don’t know. I’ll bring a notebook to the pool with me once school ends and see what inspiration strikes me. Either way, when I’m NOT laying by the pool this summer, I plan to be working.

Q: Do you have a contract yet?

A: NO! PLEASE tell your friends if you like Roman Glass. I need all the new readers I can get!

If you have any other questions you’d like answered, post them in the comments section and I’ll be happy to answer them. Just no spoilers for the book please!

Peace, love, and rock and roll,


Summer vacation isn’t the only benefit to teaching–you learn new profantity too!

Whenever people ask me if I like teaching, my standard response is to make the Jenna Marbles face.

(If you haven’t seen the video explaining the face, go watch this video immediately. It’s only like 3 minutes and hilarious. She’s my new hero.)

That usually ends the conversation.

But some people just aren’t deterred by the face and want an explanation of why I feel that way.

Which means I have to explain, and the answer is super complicated.

Why? Because there are a lot of things about teaching that are mind-numbingly, soul-crushingly awful. Like grading. And waking up in time to be there when school starts at 7:25. And teaching the same thing period after period, day after day, year after year to the kids who didn’t bother reading the books you’re teaching and couldn’t care less who Atticus Finch or Hamlet or Jay Gatsby are.

But that’s also not the whole answer. Because there are great parts too.

Like having summers off.

No really. That part is awesome. It’s everything you always thought it would be. It’s like when you were a kid, but better. And it’s coming in less than two weeks.

Be jealous.

But there are also the kids, who, for the most part, are awesome. Granted, I teach high school kids, who are almost like people. Almost. I mean, okay, they’re not QUITE there yet, but you can usually have a real conversation with them and they very seldom pick their noses or have potty-training accidents in MY classes at least.

And probably the best part about teaching is that I learn something new every single day.

Which can also be a crappy part of teaching. Like the day I had to learn that you can’t accidentally say a certain word in front of ninth graders without them running home to tell mommy and daddy what Miss Goodman said in class. Learning that one sucked.

Although most of what I learn at school isn’t totally school appropriate. But that’s what makes that aspect of the job so much fun.

For example, last week, I learned a new word: “asswich.” Now, as an English teacher, when a kid introduces me to a new word, I want to make sure that I fully understand its meaning and correct usage. So I made the kid define it. He told me that it’s a noun that originated as a combination of a part of the human anatomy and the word sandwich and, to the best of his knowledge, was first used by his father. I then asked him to use it in a sentence. He asked another student for a piece of gum, was refused (as he knew he would be), and said to the other student, “Come on, stop being such an asswich and give me a piece of gum!”

That’s my favorite new one to use in traffic. I taught it to my dad that afternoon as well. And used it just yesterday when my computer wasn’t working right. (And definitely used it to describe Steve Jobs as I had to go to my parents’ house to use a PC to get my next book ready to be uploaded for the Kindle. Yes, Steve Jobs, you’re an asswich.)

I’ve also learned some great life lessons from my kids. Like when we were reading A Streetcar Named Desire (one of my personal favorites) and I asked the kids why Stella stays with Stanley after he hits her. I was looking for something along the lines of because she has low self-esteem.

(I would have also accepted anyone saying because, at least in the movie version, Stanley was REALLY freaking hot!)

So I ask the question and a kid raises his hand, extremely politely, and waits to be called on. I call on him and he, very calmly and still very politely tells me that Stella stays because “Bitches be schemin’.”

I tried to keep a straight face. I really and truly did. And I’d love to say that I succeeded. But I didn’t.

And when you think about it, considering the end of the play, that’s not actually a terrible answer.

Of course, then it became the answer to every question I asked in class. And as I eventually realized, that’s actually a really good answer to almost any question you could possibly ask.

“Why do the Duke and the Dauphin turn Jim in in Huckleberry Finn?”

“Because bitches be schemin’.”

“Why does Lady Macbeth convince her husband to kill King Duncan?”

“Because bitches be schemin’.”

“Why doesn’t Daisy Buchanan have any real intention of leaving her husband?”

“Because bitches be schemin’.”

“Why does Rosie poop on my rug when she’s mad at me?”

(That one works on two levels!)

“Why isn’t the iPhone 5 coming out until September when I need a new phone now?”

You get the idea.

They’ve also shown me my favorite YouTube videos. Like Sassy Gay Friend.

If you don’t know who he is yet, you’re really going to need to watch his videos. Basically, they take a lot of the classic tragedies (and some modern stories) and explain how the entire tragedy could be avoided with the help of a Sassy Gay Friend. He tells Juliet Capulet that she’s a 14-year-old idiot who took a roofie from a priest, tells Ophelia to go write in her journal instead of killing herself over Hamlet, and tells Lady Macbeth that her problem is that she needs a hobby or an orgasm right now.

In other words, he’s awesome.

And he’s also a character in half of the skits that my kids did in class last week when they had to take characters from different books we’d read this year and have them meet in a skit.

Which brings me to one of the other important things I learned this year: Google is the root of all evil in our society today.


Because when we were watching the videos of the skits in class, one group had Stanley Kowalski standing in the street yelling. Except instead of yelling “Stella,” he was yelling “Sara” and instead of standing in front of Elysian Fields in New Orleans, he was standing in front of MY house.

I hate you Google. I really do.  Stop giving out my address to my students.

You’re a serious asswich sometimes.