June 30, 2006
on our way to the Ladybugs' Picnic

7:20 a.m. First coherent thought of the day: I like motels with their own postcards. This one shows children having a fine time in an in-ground pool. The Boy reports that the in-ground pool is now a sad koi pond. Weird.

We stopped for the night in a little motel between Drummondville and Quebec City after the Boy came to the end of his endurance. Poor guy. He's really been the wheelman of this enterprise; packing baggage and then the car almost entirely on his own. I've been totally nuked this week, what with having to pack up my room and deal with the sudden influx of coworker drama that rushed in to fill the last days like a stinky polluted tide. It was a classic Mean Girls-esque drama consisting of two or more women picking on an introverted hogbuffer I'll call Nerdular Nerdence. NN is a good soul - kind, gentle, patient - but a classic RPG nerd who is more likely to read a comic or mark than wade into the conversational creek in the staff lunchroom. I dig him, but staff "consensus" is that he's creepy & weird. He has also opened himself up to attack with his guileless attempts to date co-workers, invitations that act on the most defensive/least flexible female coworkers as blood acts on sharks. Thus, two harpies in my department (we'll call them Aello and Ocypete), whom I'd mistaken as decent human beings to this point, used the last week of work to step up their campaign to gossip, mock and exclude this fine (albeit geeky) personage from communal lunches, trips to Timmy's, etc.

The worst part for me is that I think I unwittingly poured fuel on the fire. Two weeks ago NN confided his romantic interest in Ocypete and asked my advice. I told him to go for it, and kept this juicy morsel of gossip between myself and Theresa. (Being a man, he hadn't thought to ask me to keep it to myself, as any self respecting femme would have.) Theresa keeps secrets as does the grave, but I succumbed to a fit of madness at the Prom last week and told Cyndi L., who I thought was fun and sympathetic. Turns out that instead of being cool, she just spread it through the department LIKE A VIRUS. I felt (feel) so so guilty, but I'm stuck: how can I apologize without hurting his already damaged pride?

Everything swirled to a peak on Wednesday at the department luncheon. I somehow ended up sitting in Camp Stick Up the Ass (on my left the Harpies & Harold Hill (whom I love, but who has the alarming ability to match his conversation to the interests of the group, hence, boring at this moment), across the table Mr. Visible Chest Hair (there's a whole other rant that will never get written about this guy) & NN who is being pointedly ignored by Camp SUtA). Way down on the other end of the table, Sam is telling jokes, Theresa is scheming about fried shrimp, and Grace & Chris were laughing and chatting away. I was struck by a miserable thought: this is my last lunch with these people and I am hemmed in with the boring and the reprehensible, with only the ongoing saga of NN to distract me. So I did what any upstanding young woman would do: I faked illness to switch seats with Mr. VCH. He got to sit with the only people in the department who liked him, and I got to sit with the funny and the kind. (My fake story came in handy when Cyndi made an unwittingly cruel comment that whipped tears to my eyes; I was able to rush to the bathroom with some shred of dignity and cry in peace. Of course, Grace, Theresa and Chris weren't fooled, but at least they were kind and discrete.)

The gift presentations (organized by Aello) were another kind of snub. It was totally obvious that it pays to be friends with Aello, the Queen of the Rectally-Inserted Branches. To Ocypete (5 months in the department) - an expensive set of beauty oils. To Mr. VCH (1 academic year in the department) - a monogrammed pen set. To me (4 years of miserable service) - a book. Granted, it was an excellent book (Eats, Shoots & Leaves, which I fell in love with during last summer's grammar rodeo) and I knew that my reward at Hogsboro High wouldn't come in departmental gifts. And plus, what the hell would I do with either of those gifts? They suck and don't fit my personality at all. Still, it's a lot like C. Thomas Flood's snub at the end of my first year: thoughtless and therefore irritating. Plus, there's the whole thing about how I need all the love I can get. And I need all the monogrammed pen sets that I can't get, too.

So yeah. Drama. Packing. Seething irritation, but thank heaven, not enough to push me to last year's blowout. I've been getting more and more exhausted and when Wednesday night rolled around, I was too braindead to pack. The sheer energy required to pack and move all of my teaching stuff so that it would be accessible when I need it next September (or August, holy crap) burnt out all of my circuits. Lame as it was, I decided to forgo the responsible route and pack on Thursday morning before I left for my last day of work at Hogsboro. Luckily I was awake at 4:30 (stupid anxiety), so I was able to get ahead of the morning routine while the boys slept on. By the time I left with Theresa on our final carpool, the car was 2/3 packed, but more importantly, Blake and I were packed. So I left the enterprise in the Boy's capable hands and went to school with the lightest heart since October.

It was an odd day for me. Goneril called me into her office to compliment my professional growth and thank me for my professional service. This was all very well, but then she wanted to hug me. I felt a rush of guilt for ever thinking ill of her. (This pains me to admit, but I'm just like a puppy; it doesn't matter what you do to me, as soon as you're nice, all is forgiven. I was a particularly gullible junior high student.)

As I had packed everything the previous day and completely lobotomized myself in the process, I had very little to do on my final day. This was oddly elating. I wrote farewell cards and knit Pixie's birthday present while Camp Stick Up the Ass turned the department office into a giggling hen party that was equal parts shrill and deathly boring. (They'd been doing this all week, their sense of professional obligation extending precisely as far as their own filing and ignoring all of the department tasks they might have completed. There is nothing worse than trying to concentrate on charging through a semester's worth of lesson plans so that I can write unit outlines for Harold Hill before I leave, while they loudly drone on about how bored they are because they have nothing to do so let's read memos in a mocking tone and complain about the boredom. Bitches.) The Camp departed en masse at precisely 11 a.m., skipping the final staff get together and confirming the generally-held idea among decent folk that no one misses them when they're gone.

The final staff lunch, despite all predictions, was a good time. My speech went over like hot buttered popcorn. Grace set me up by describing me when I arrived at HH as this crazy, shabby goth girl who, in the intervening 4 years, has really grown and changed. Yesterday I purposefully wore an outfit as close to C. Thomas Flood's first sight of me as I could manage 4 years and 10+ pounds later; so when I walked up in my gauzy black skirt, white & black striped thigh highs, black Mary Jane Fluevogs and a reconstructed Jane’s Addiction t-shirt, I made a point of standing on the podium so all could get a good look at me.

”As you can see,” I deadpanned, “I’ve really changed.” Big laugh. I told the story of how C. Thomas hired me sight unseen and how he never fully recovered once he had seen me.

”You were my first school,” I finished, “and you never forget your first. [pause for ribald laughter] I can’t say that you were gentle, but I’ll never forget you.” I curtseyed to the applause and walked away.

Heh. Every once in a while I really tear off a good one. I did one great presentation (last summer’s AQ course) and I did one great farewell speech. Just this one victory made my departure much better than I could’ve hoped for.

”It’s been good to have another person here who teaches English because they love it.” - Sam

A few hugs and some Blake-bragging later, we finally, finally, finally, (waited three years let’s go!) left for Nova Gothic.

Aaaaaaand then we got stuck in traffic. 1st long weekend of summer + a frillion people trying to get away early + GTA rush hour + road work = a horror show. By 4:30 we’d only made it to Oshawa. The Boy cancelled our QC hostel room and with much yelling and the help of an ice cream sundae, we redrew our plan of attack. I was adamant that we must stop for Blake by 9 p.m. at the latest, but when it started to look like we would miss ½ the festival, my misery softened my adamance. By 9 p.m. itself, I was caught between the seat’s pressure on my aching back and the disappointment of spending so much time, effort & money only to miss a full half of my Shangrila. I wish I could say that I took it gracefully, but the truth is that I had a huge hissy fit & tried my level best to make the Boy as wretched as myself. In return for my bad behaviour, he got me 2 Gravols. I changed the position of the seat back, and with me drugged and Blake asleep naturally in the back, he drove like a man possessed. We made it 5 hours into Quebec, landing in the parking lot of a small but clean motel (of sad koi pond fame). I was so dosed that I didn’t even mind sharing a double bed with 2 others – I slept as well as I did in Fort Sensible, when I was given a blanket and a stretch of floor.

We got on the road at 7:10, the best benefit to an early-rising toddler. We just might squeak into Canso before the Valdy/Mortal Coil mash-up on Saturday morning. Stay tuned.

11:45. We stopped for lunch in Edmunston, our favourite town in New Brunswick and the site of Mustang Scotty’s 1st grand mal. The Boy was in one of his wagon train moods, so instead of taking the time to stop at a decent restaurant we ate hot table food in a supermarket parking lot. Classy. Even the Boy realized the depth of his folly as we tasted the first mediocre chicken finger. And yet Blake loved the pasta salad and we got a big bottle of berry smoothie for later, so it wasn’t all crap.

My knitting’s been going in fits and starts. I forgot to pack the pattern for the elaborate cabled baby sweater I started last spring & mean to complete this summer (lots of bang for the buck, the perfect vacation project). This means that I’ve been trying to reverse-engineer the intricate cabling. It’s not going quickly; this morning I realized that my increase number was low, so I had to rip back 5 rows. Ouch. Still, I feel like I’m earning cred by doing this the old-fashioned way: just yarn, needles and my wits. It’s survival of the knittest.

5 p.m. MacCready’s Family Restaurant, a gas station adjunct in NB. I forgot that “home-cooked” can mean “poorly prepared at home by someone with few culinary skills." My dinner was a desiccated pork chop, two scoops of instant mashed potatoes that had developed a dry skin, and surprisingly yummy coleslaw. Blake enjoyed his hot dog & milk, and had my applesauce for dessert. The setting is weird, too – like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas without the sexual harassment. Heh. Our waitress looked like she could kick Benicio del Toro and Johnny Depp to Truro and back without creasing her order pad.

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- Rocketbride's adventure of 6/30/2006 12:07:00 p.m.

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Don't make me send out the Blake. He doesn't listen to *anyone.*