Do teachers get detention for being late too? I hope not…

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I have a problem with chronic lateness. I know that the psychological explanation for this is that I value my time more than the time of others and therefore am just a horribly rude individual who has no regard for anyone else.

In other words, psychology just called me a giant jerk.

Which might be the direct result of me skipping all of my psychology classes in college, then acing the tests. Well played, psychology, well played.


 But in reality, the answer is far more complicated.


Actually, it’s pretty simple. The universe hates me and conspires against me to make me late, no matter what I do.

Case in point: my resource teacher sent out a very tactfully worded email just before spring break warning the English department that if we were going to be out of the building for more than 15 minutes, we needed to take leave. Which included leaving early if we were off seventh period (guilty last year… unfortunately, I teach seventh period this year, so no more sneaking out at 2:09 to beat the onslaught of student-driver traffic) or arriving after 7:25, even if we are off first period.

Which, I’m pretty sure was aimed DIRECTLY at me as I have had to slink past my administrators in the front hallway more times than I can count at approximately 7:27. They’re very nice about it and usually just laugh at me, while I hang my head in self-inflicted Jewish guilt and shame while whispering vows to arrive on time the following day.

Or at least sneak in another door of the building.

But after that email went out, I knew I could NOT be late anymore. My leave days are FAR too valuable to be wasted on my chronic lateness. Well, okay, OFFICIALLY, they’re not right now because there are no US Bruce tour dates on the horizon. But those days carry over to future years. So I still plan to hoard them like my mom is hoarding baby clothes in the desperate hopes that I will soon become impregnated by my perfect (aka Jewish) boyfriend. So being late is NOT an option! (You hear that mom? I meant that as a double entendre! It’s not happening any time soon, so there’s NO reason for them to know you by name at Buy Buy Baby! I’m on to you woman!)

So for the first day back from break, I had a foolproof plan: I set my alarm for 20 minutes earlier than I would normally wake up, knowing that I would need those full 20 minutes to arrive at school two minutes earlier than usual. Why? Because arriving at 7:27, the parking lot is as empty as the shelves of a DC area grocery store when a single flurry is in the weather forecast. Any time between 7:03 and 7:25, however, it’s like the world’s worst game of Mario Kart as every horrible teenage driver and angry, late-for-work parent drives the wrong way down one-way lanes to get the kids in the building on time.

 So using math (for the first time since high school calculus—don’t let your math teachers lie to you kids, you’ll NEVER need math in real life!), I calculated that it would take me ten times as long to make it through the parking lot, ipso facto, waking up 20 minutes earlier was a definite way to arrive at school on time.

Except that math failed me when I accidentally set my alarm for PM instead of AM and woke up at 7:02. EPIC FAIL.

But I’m a survivor! I picked myself up from that catastrophe (and may have texted my work BFF, who came and snuck me in a side door. LOVE YOU!!!!!), and tried again yesterday.

And I did it! I woke up at 4:40 (because I’m a psycho exercise addict and was more willing to wake up twenty minutes earlier than cut my 5am workout short), did my whole 5am (sorry, 4:40am) workout, got showered, dressed, prettily made up, and hustled my cute little teacher butt out the door BEFORE 7am! It was wonderful! A miracle! It was like the heavens parted and Leonardo DiCaprio himself descended on a cloud with a choir of angels to praise my ability to leave the house early enough to get to work on time! Hallelujah and praise Leo!

I stuck to the plan exactly and drove like a demon, just like I always do when I’m running late for work, and I arrived within a quarter mile of the school with twenty minutes to spare!

Where I then sat, for the next twenty minutes, waiting in the turn late to get into the school because two teenage drivers got into an accident and were out of their cars screaming at each other, taking cell phone pictures of the damage, threatening to sue each other, then stopping for a leisurely breakfast of bagels and smear on the side of the road, while blocking every lane of traffic.

I finally got around all of that (they could have at least offered me a bagel!), pulled into the parking lot, ran (no easy feat in high heels, let me tell you! But I was dedicated! I would get there on time, even if it meant a broken ankle!) to the school, composed myself, and walked in the front door.

At 7:27.

Because I forgot that it doesn’t matter what time I leave my house. I could leave at 6:03 or 7:23 and somehow, through some vortex in the space-time continuum that I do not, cannot understand, still arrive at school at 7:27 each and every day.

So maybe it’s a good thing that there are no impending Springsteen tour dates. Because it looks like I’ll need a little time to save up some more leave before he plays any more US shows. And if anyone wants to prop a door open for me and save me the humiliation of trying to come up with a valid reason other than that I’m chromosomally incapable of arriving places on time, I’d appreciate it.

Why did the goose cross the road? Because it hates me…

Monday morning, as I was driving to school, I had a near death experience.

I almost hit a goose.

Granted, that probably wouldn’t have caused MY death. But it would have damaged my car, and at that point, I would have gotten out of the car and if the goose wasn’t dead, I would have made sure it felt the full force of my wrath.

But there I was, driving to school, following the speed limit exactly, because I’m never running late in the morning (yeah, I can’t even type that with a straight face. Fine, I was running massively late and therefore speeding. And on the phone with Darya telling her about some less-than-blog-appropriate exploits from my weekend. And putting on lipgloss. Texting while driving may be illegal, but I’ve never seen a law against applying makeup while driving. Which, to be honest, is probably more dangerous than texting while driving in my case), when all of a sudden, I’m forced to SLAM on the breaks, praying that there isn’t a car following too closely behind me, to avoid murdering this poor, bewildered creature that happened to cross my path on Montgomery Village Avenue.

Which I’m sure scared Darya as much as it scared me, because mid-sentence, I suddenly screamed, “GOOOOOOOOSE!!!!!!” Not what you want yelled in your ear at 7:15am.

I stop just in time. And so does the goose, which then proceeds to plant itself in the middle of the road and glare at me.

Now, I’m a teacher. I’m good at giving the glare of death. But I could learn a few things from this goose, because not only was it NOT budging, I was pretty intimidated by the way it was looking at me.

But I was late for school. (Or if my principal is reading this, I was on time and didn’t WANT to be late for school! Honest!) And that goose was in my way. So I did what any normal person would do. I ran the little bastard over.

Not really. I actually honked my horn.

Nothing happened.

I rolled down my window and tried to reason with it. “Hey goose! Get out of my way!”

Nothing.

And finally, the goose won, because I backed up, got into the other lane, and drove around it. And I swear it was glaring at me in the rearview mirror as I drove away.

But, with that behind me, I continued on my way to school, only mildly later than I had already been, and didn’t think more of it.

Until Tuesday. When I was driving along, late for school, applying my lipgloss, and rocking out to the new Bruce album, which came out that morning, and suddenly had to jam on the breaks again and scream “GOOOOOOOOSE!!!!!!”

Yes. There was a goose in the middle of the road. And I swear it was the same one because it was sitting there waiting for me. Glaring at me. Making it perfectly clear through its evil goose-telepathy that it was daring me to hit it.

And once again, I tried reasoning with it, I tried honking at it, but in the end, had to go around the goose.

I do understand that normal people would probably assume it was a coincidence. The odds of it being the SAME goose are pretty small, and clearly geese lack the intelligence to glare at me maliciously while shooting evil mental telepathy at me.

But I’m not normal. Because I understand that the avian world is out to get me.

Need proof? My first complete sentence was “duck bite hand,” which was the result of the first time a bird attacked me. Then when I was two, an ostrich attacked me for my peanut butter and jelly sandwich at a petting zoo. And there was the one that almost pecked my brother’s eye out at the San Diego zoo. And the seagull that pooped on me at the beach. And the one that defiled the inside of my new convertible the day that I got it. Birds are evil, evil creatures. And for whatever reason, they have identified me as their primary target.

At this point, the movie The Birds scares me more than ET does, and that’s saying a lot.  (I don’t care if you loved that movie as a kid, that little alien monster is freaky!)

So Wednesday, I left a couple of minutes early to foil the evil goose’s attempt to make me late to work again. And as I rounded the corner where the creature usually waits for me, I slowed down to avoid causing further damage to my brake pads.

No goose to be seen.

But now I’m worried. Because what if the goose WAS planning to ambush me again and didn’t foresee my ability to leave the house early? It’ll just be angrier now. And I’m completely positive that I’m going to go out to my car after school one day and it’s going to be sitting in the parking lot behind my car, leaving me with no escape route to avoid hitting it.

Or worse, be ON my car.

Not my car.  But clearly it CAN happen!

Or even worse, it will have left me a present on my car. And not the kind I want. The kind Rosie leaves on my rug when she’s angry with me.

Actually, now that I think about it, it might be worth the damage to my car to run the evil goose over.

Game on, evil goose. Game on.

I’m tired of hearing about Sarah Palin… in other news, I’m a Leo now!

I have officially turned to Twitter as my primary source of news.

But Sara, you’re a print news junkie! The Washington Post website is your homepage.

True. But until all this Sarah Palin crap blows over, I’m avoiding all mainstream media. Seriously. I’m done. I’m all for demonizing her and am considering changing my name just because she ruined a perfectly good first name by being an idiot, but what happened in Tuscon isn’t her fault.

Of course, it’s COMPLETELY her fault that she jumped into the middle of all of this the day that the President was speaking in Tuscon and used a hugely controversial phrase (which I’m convinced she didn’t understand. I mean, come on, if she doesn’t know “refudiate” isn’t a word, she doesn’t know the anti-Semitic history of “blood libel”), but she only was able to push her way into the limelight because the media let every nut who wanted to blame her for the shooting have a soapbox to stand on.

As a journalism teacher, what I see is particularly disheartening. I strive to teach my journalism students that they need to be fair and balanced in their reporting and get a variety of differing opinions for their stories. But how on earth are they supposed to learn to do that when they’re bombarded by news sources that consider a report to be balanced if their version of diversity is interviewing a right-wing extremist and a left-wing extremist?

In other words, you can balance out Sarah Palin’s craziness by also interviewing Bob Brady, who is proposing legislation making it illegal to use violent rhetoric. They’re both idiots and neither is actually representative of America. At least I really, REALLY hope they’re not.

And it’s a REALLY bad sign when Twitter has become a more reliable than any news network. I mean, it’s like trusting Wikipedia: anyone can say anything they want there. (Although whoever hacked the Wikipedia entry for “blood libel” and put Sarah Palin’s pic up, call me. I want to be your friend.)

So because Twitter is now my primary source of news, I was able to deduce that the biggest story of the day yesterday was the change in astrological signs. Apparently, by spending my whole life up until yesterday as a Virgo, I was living a lie.

I have to admit, I always suspected as much. I never really felt like a Virgo.

(Shut up, it has NOTHING to do with Virgo being the virgin. Jerks.)

But now I feel like I’m having an identity crisis. The first thing I do every morning when I wake up is make my bed. But that’s a Virgo, control-freak thing to do. So when I got home from school yesterday, I went immediately into my room and unmade my bed, because no self-respecting Leo would make her own bed—we’d believe that someone else should show up to do it for us because we’re the center of the universe.

Which kind of sucked last night when I had to sleep in an unmade bed. But I think that only bothered me because I had so many years of thinking like a Virgo and needing everything to be neat and organized.

Although now that I’m no longer a self-conscious and overly-worried Virgo, I seem to have overcome my lifelong battle with insomnia. Damnit astrologers, couldn’t you have told me I was a Leo years ago? I’m pretty mad when I think of all the sleep I could have been getting if I’d just known that I wasn’t ACTUALLY a worrier!

I also no longer have to stress about being late for everything. As a Virgo, I always felt great anxiety when I was running late, which, let’s face it, is ALL the time.

But now I understand my chronic lateness! It’s because I was misdiagnosed as a Virgo. Leos believe they are the center of the universe and therefore aren’t worried about how valuable anyone else’s time is. So instead of rushing like crazy to get to work on time, I’m just going to take my time and get there when I get there. Besides, Leos like to make an entrance. (I’m kind of curious to see how that works with my boss. Like if I walk in ten minutes after first period starts and just announce, “School can start now because the most important person in the universe has arrived!” I probably won’t have a job much longer. But that’s okay. Because I’m a Leo now and that means people should just pay me for being awesome.)

I was going to write more, but now that I’m a Leo, I think it’s time to go admire myself instead. So to sum up:

Sarah Palin = bad

Blaming Sarah Palin for stuff she had nothing to do with = usually good, but in this case bad

Extremists on either side = worse

Twitter = reliable source of information

Leo = a good night’s sleep in an unmade bed

Being me now that I’m a Leo = awesome

Astrology = total load of crap

I’m late, I’m late for a very important… well… everything!

There are a lot of really great things that I inherited from my dad. My awesome sense of direction, almost perfect eyesight, and really long legs, to name a few.

Unfortunately, his ability to arrive places on time is NOT a trait that he passed on to me. My habitual lateness comes from my mother.

Using logic (also inherited from my father, the physicist), my dad is on time for everything he does and my mom is ten minutes late for everything she does, so logically I should be five minutes late for everything I do.

But I’m not.

I’m a solid 15 minutes late. For everything. Every day. All the time.

It’s not even that I’m chronically RUNNING late. I’m completely and utterly chronically incapable of arriving anywhere on time (unless Bruce Springsteen is scheduled to be somewhere, in which case I will be there several hours early. But I’ll still get there 15 minutes later than I planned to be there).

I almost never TRY to be late for anything. And it’s not that I’m insensitive to wasting other people’s time. I hate it when people keep me waiting, and I hate knowing that I’m keeping other people waiting. So when I’m late, I’m ALWAYS upset about it and exceptionally apologetic. But somehow I still can’t manage to get anywhere on time.

My new year’s resolution most years is to try to stop being late (except for the year when I resolved to stop making faces when I see really ugly people. I never had a chance of keeping that one). And in trying to solve this problem, I realized that there are two inevitable facts of my life that prevent me from arriving anywhere on time.

Inevitable fact number 1: I have no concept of how long it takes me to do anything. When I have to get up in the morning, I carefully calculate exactly how long every step of my morning routine will take me, then factor that time in, plus a little extra cushion time.

But nothing ever takes the amount of time that I think it will. And then I’m late. And there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it. Because of the second inevitable fact.

Inevitable fact number 2: if I leave early for something, the universe will conspire against me to make me late.

This happened to me last week. I had forgotten to do my Xeroxing for first period the day before, and therefore got up early to get to school early. And, miracle of miracles, I got out of the house early! I was so proud of myself when I got down to my car and realized that I had plenty of time to get there and copy the rubric for the assignment I was giving.

But no.

It didn’t go down that way.

Instead, as I drove the one mile to the highway, I got stuck in a never-ending line of traffic, which I eventually realized was caused by a flashing yellow traffic light. Now it’s been a few years since I took my driver’s test, but I’m pretty sure that flashing yellow means proceed with caution, NOT treat the intersection as a four-way stop. But somehow EVERY single other driver on the road that day missed that memo, so a part of the drive that normally takes me two minutes took me twenty instead.

I’m amazed my head didn’t explode.

Eventually I got to 270, figuring that I would be able to make up some of the time I had lost.

I accelerated toward the speed limit and glanced in my rearview mirror, only to see a state trooper behind me. Close enough behind me, in fact, that I could see his eye color and the little spot that he had missed when he shaved that morning. And despite every other driver zipping past me and probably arriving at work on time, my buddy the state trooper stayed about a centimeter from my bumper the ENTIRE eleven miles on 270.

And when I finally got off 270, I missed every single light. Some of them multiple times.

By the time I ran into the school, it was about thirty seconds before the bell rang to start first period, meaning that by leaving early for work, I got there WAY LATER than I ever have when I’ve left the house late in the morning.

And as if I wasn’t stressed out enough by the ride to work from hell, my principal was standing in the hallway right outside my classroom when I got there.

The moral of this story is that I can’t win. I will be late for everything no matter what I do to avoid it. So I may as well get those extra ten minutes of sleep in the morning. And if you need me to get somewhere at a certain time, tell me I need to be there fifteen minutes earlier than you actually need me to be there.

Just don’t tell me that you’re doing that. Because then I’ll be even later. It’s just the way my world works.