Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Five: My Celebrity Cheat List

In most relationships, cheating is a big no-no, but there's a fantasy-based exception to this rule: The Celebrity Cheat List. If one of you happens to run into a celebrity who wants to have a torrid one-night stand, the other party gives permission. So, in the event that I have a fortuitous collision in an elevator, here are five celebrities I'd love to... bump into.

1. Corey Taylor:

Age: 38
Height: 5'7"
Eye color: Blue
Hair: Bald (Blond when not shaved).

Qualifications: I've talked about him before, so clearly he's my top pick. I had the good fortune of seeing him a few months ago do a small-venue, acoustic/spoken word show, and that totally upped the ante. He's not only hot, but he's smart and funny as hell. Gotta love a rock n' roll bad boy  with a brain and a soft side.

2. Jeffery Dean Morgan:

Age: 46
Height: 6'2"
Eye color: Brown
Hair: Brown

Qualifications: I love the blend of "man's man," laid-back personality, and a bit of mischief. In every film I've seen him in, he's got this dimple-laden smirk that you know will get him out of trouble and you out of your pants in a flash.  

3. Brad Pitt:

Age: 49
Height: 5'11"
Eye color: Blue
Hair: Brown

Qualifications: Yeah, I know, Brad Pitt, kinda cliche, but here's the thing about him, aside from the obvious: He's got longevity. He's classically handsome, and will follow in the smoldering footsteps of Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Harrison Ford. Brad Pitt will still be gorgeous at 60. In fact, I think he's better looking at 49 than he was at 29.

4. David Beckham:

Age: 37
Height: 6'
Eye color: Hazel
Hair: Light Brown

Qualifications: I was always aware of David Beckham, but I never really gave him much thought until this year's SuperBowl. The H&M underwear ad. Good GOD. The body. The ink. The men fell silent. The ladies gasped in unison. His contract with H&M should stipulate that their underwear is the only thing he's allowed to wear in public.

5. Joe Manganiello:

Age: 36
Height: 6'5" (DAMN!)
Eye color: Brown
Hair: Dark Brown

Qualifications: If I have to explain this one to you, go have your eyes checked.

Who makes rank on your list? Happy daydreaming!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Five: Student Types that Grate on My Nerves

After a pretty taxing week with America's Dismal Future, complete with heartburn and an eye twitch, I thought about this quarter's population and realized I have a rather disproportionate number of students I don't like. Sure, there's always one or two, but this quarter, it seems I have a representative from each type of the absolutely most irritating student types. And there are many things I wish I could say to them without getting fired. Or arrested.

1. The I-Don't-Have-an-A-Because-You-Don't-Like-Me: There is this misconception among students that if you try really, really hard, that means you automatically will be awarded an A. What they fail to realize is that earning an A (operative word being earning) requires mastering the material. But rather than recognize that not everyone is an A-earning genius, and that sometimes we're not as good at some things than others, it's definitely my fault. I just don't like them. I decided to take it personally that they don't like Oedipus Rex or they think the explanation to all of Sylvia Plath's poetry is that she was "crazy." And therefore I will unleash my wrath on their GPA.

Here's the thing, Cupcake. No one is good at everything. And very few students call pull off straight As. That's why it's a really, really big honor at most major colleges and universities to graduate with a flawless GPA. The sooner you're willing to recognize that you might have to work a bit harder at this kind of material and you still may not earn that A, but still walk out with a good grade, the sooner you'll actually LEARN something. The first thing to learn though, is, I don't really care that much about you on a personal level. I may hate your guts, but if you produce A-worthy work, then you'll get an A. I've had students who I absolutely adored, but they didn't earn As. Sometimes they didn't even pass. You're extra special, though. I don't like you and you're failing.

2. The Contrarian: I love a good debate, and I am always open to hearing another point of view. But there's a key here: both of us have to know what we're talking about. To be completely fair (as is the core of a worthy argument), I've had students who make an excellent case for their points. This is not The Contrarian. The Contrarian likes to argue just for the sake of arguing. The Contrarian has one main goal: to wear me down. The Contrarian will also try to use this method to negotiate for a better grade (more on that in a minute). The Contrarian's only goal is to weaken me to a state where I am malleable.

Bring it, kid. I've been stubborn for longer than you've been alive. And I'm the expert in this room. Argue all you want, but sticking to your guns as a refusal to say, make an effort to analyze a character, or write a better-organized paper, is only going to bite you in your argumentative ass. It doesn't make you resilient, it makes you a student who is unwilling to learn. And therefore useless to me. Go be stubborn somewhere else.

3. The Negotiator: These students literally make me laugh... and then I want to smash my face into a computer monitor. They often begin the quarter by trying to plant the seed. I've received several emails stating something to the likes of: "Professor- This is my final quarter at [our school], and if I get an A in your class, I will qualify for x,y,z. Please let me know what I can do to make sure I get an A." Or they "make a joke" of it in the beginning, "I really need an A in here! LOL." Well, it's pretty straightforward. Show up, participate, work hard, SHOW MASTERY OF THE CONCEPTS. Because again, it's not just effort. Effort is great, but it's not the only thing that goes into an A. Despite this explanation, and after spotty attendance, mediocre and/or inconsistent assignments, and not a whole hell of a lot of effort, this student will come to me requesting extra credit, do-overs, another chance, "What do I have to do get my grade up to an A?"

Womp womp. So sorry. You didn't earn that A. But you got some lovely consolation prizes: The grade you actually earned, and several lessons in responsibility, motivation, and the reality of the world... Or not. Because you'll do this again with another class, another professor. And you'll succeed.

4. The Leech: I am not completely souless or heartless (no, really, I swear). I will normally, especially at the beginning of the quarter, give a student who has fallen behind a chance to catch up. However, it's a one-shot deal with me. Most of the time, students take the opportunity and they do get on track. Others decide that once I've given them one chance, they can continue to negotiate, make excuses, ask for more chances, and so on. They always have some sort of sob-story to go with it. First it's their kids. Then it's their car. Then they are sick. Then it's other classes. Then it's they forgot. Then it's their computer.

Look, I know it's hard to be a college student sometimes, especially when you have a full life aside from being a student. But you chose this. You chose to add school to your already full plate, and that's great. But it's not my problem if you can't hack it. It's not my problem that you suck at time management. I earned a Master's Degree while working full time. Know what that meant? I didn't sleep much. I ate dinner while writing papers. I put in 18-hour days. Suck it up. If you want it bad enough, you'll make it happen. If you don't, it's not my responsiblity to make you care, nor is it responsible of me to make it easy for you. If you can't hack it, go home. Because it sure as shit ain't easy out here in the real world, Pumpkin, and babying you will do more harm than good.

5. "She's a pushover... Nope, she's a bitch": I'm not much older than many of my students. Conversely, there are many occasions, particularly in evening classes, where some of them are older than me. My age and appearance can damage my credibility (in their eyes) off the bat. The younger ones will look at me and assume I'm a pushover, because I'm young, attractive, and a woman. The boys will try to flirt their way out of trouble. They'll send me emails addressing me by my first name, or using language such as "hey," "lol" and "omg." Conversely, the older ones can't fathom how I could possibly know anything about anything because I'm "a baby" and "haven't lived." So, I'm forced to be pretty firm in my policies, to make them understand what no means, and to hold them all to the same standards. Which then transforms me from pushover to bitch.

Yep, that's right. I am a bitch. I'm a bitch when you expect special treatment, Snowflake. I'm a bitch when you don't pull your weight. I'm a bitch when you think you can blur the lines of hierarchy and respect because you assume I'm a certain way. No matter who my professors were, what they looked like, young or old, I respected them. Why? Because they provided me with the opportunity to learn. You don't provide me the opportunity to teach. I'm not obligated to do anything but hand you the tools and show you how to use them. I'm not a babysitter, and I'm not your mother. Grow up or shut up and get the fuck out of my classroom.

I really do love it, though. I have to. Otherwise I'd be in jail by now.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Five: Reason Why I Can't Kill Constructive Compulsion

Last week I mentioned a new endeavor and a potential new face for CC, displacing the Friday Five, and refocusing my blog identity. And while I still intend to do most of that, I came to several conclusions about Constructive Compulsion and what it means to me.

1. C'mon baby, finish what you started: It goes against the codes in my DNA to not finish something, to let it fall away. It would haunt me forever to simply shut down or just let the CC link die out there in cyberspace burnt out and forgotten. Even if I am unsure as to what Constructive Compulsion will actually be, it can't simply be cast out.

2. Don't neglect the first-born: Just because I have a new idea doesn't mean I have to abandon my first baby. CC taught me a lot about blogging, and helped me craft my focus for my next endeavor. I assume it's kinda like the first born/second born phenomenon. You have no clue what you're doing with the first one, and then when the second one comes, things that were mysteries are no-brainers. But you still have to love and care for the first-born. Otherwise there'd be an Island of Misfit First-borns.

3. Love it for what it is: I am still going to have something to say about things other than the topics of my forthcoming blog. I'm still a professor. I'm still a member of a twisted society. I'm still a daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, woman. There are going to be other things for me to muse about, rant about, and have fun with. That was the initial idea behind Constructive Compulsion, and so it still must serve that purpose.  

4. Getting by with a little help from my friends: You and I have a lot of fun on here. It warms my heart and makes me smile when you guys say, "Hey! Where's the Friday Five? Did I miss it?" Or when you share my posts on your on FB pages. Or when one of my posts sparks a dialogue. I love that aspect of blogging, of being part of the blogosphere, and the idea exchanges. The Friday Five always gets at least one good laugh, and sometimes, it really hits home and you guys go nuts for it, which I am absolutely eternally grateful for.

5. You never know who's watching: Opportunities arise from all kinds of unlikely places. You never know who might come across CC and think, "This is exactly what I'm looking for!" As a professional writer/editor, the idea of having more than one voice is not foreign. Therefore, I may need more than one forum for what I do. Authors such as Stephen King and Anne Rice have written under pseudonyms just so they can write outside their typical genre and be taken seriously. Having duel blogs is sort of the same thing. Crass humor will have no place in my other project, and the content I intend to craft there might be a bit too heavy for CC's angle. Someone who may not dig my CC voice may really connect with my other project, and vice versa. And those of you who are already loyal to CC may also get on board with the other project and share it with others. The kids can definitely get along, even if they are very different.

And so, once again, I thank you all for your continuous support and readership. I hope we can continue to play together here at Construction Compulsion...

And I am sorry, my dear first-blog, for having doubted your place in my heart.

Friday, February 3, 2012

"Change is coming. Now is my time. Listen to my muscle memory contemplate what I've been clinging to." ~MJK

A year ago, almost to the day (take that as you will), I wrote a blog entry about spirituality (view it here:, and my need to embark on my own quest.
And a year later, I still haven't really delved into it.

Wednesday night I went to see TOOL in concert. I hadn't seen them since July of 2007. I was hanging a lot of importance on this show. I always view their concerts as more than just going to see a band I like. Their music has always resonated with me on a much deeper level. It inspires and centers me.

Wednesday night I focused on the show. I never touched my phone. I went to the show with my cousin, and we exchanged few words. I willed myself to connect to what was happening in front of me, the power of the music, the meaning of the images and videos on the screens that are meant to amplify the experience. It's almost like solving a puzzle or a riddle at TOOL shows: watching the videos and images and making the connections to the music. I released a lot of tensions, frustrations, and things that have been causing chaos within me.

January was a rough month. I was sick several times, my boyfriend was sick several times, and we couldn't get ourselves on a good schedule and healthy regimen. I faced more frustrations with my impending divorce. I'm frustrated that I gained some weight and couldn't get myself back on track. I've been battling chronic head, neck, and shoulder pain. I've been struggling to get a handle on everything around me. I recognized this spiral of feeling out of control of my life, and that in and of itself gives me great anxiety. It's all tied together.

It's all tied together.

Universal energy. The power of our own will, the electricity that is within all of us. This is what allows us to overcome, to change, to evolve. This is something that I have lost sight of in the past few weeks. I allowed adversity to dim my lights, burn out a few bulbs. It got the best of me. I'm certain that most of my frustration was not with the external circumstances, but with my response to them.

I've been kicking these ideas around for too long. I treat this need to expand my understanding of these concepts like a toy that I love one day, but then it accidentally gets kicked under the bed and forgotten about. And every time I find myself in this ebb and flow of positive and negative feelings, I immediately come back to this idea of universal connectedness and higher consciousness. But its base level is no longer enough. Once again, I find myself in this starving place, needing to learn more and expand my understanding of this phenomenon that I believe with relentless certaintly will answer my questions, will quench the spiritual drought, and will cultivate the growth that I very clearly crave.

And so today, I say officially that Constructive Compulsion will no longer serve as a simple dumping ground for the musings of my brain, nor the home of the Friday Five. (I'm not saying it won't continue, it just may get its very own home.) CC's purpose was initially to be, and will now be, the place were I chronicle what I am learing, experiencing and grappling with. A place where I can share revelations, but also pose questions and receive ideas and answers from all of you... a think tank, a chat over coffee, a heated debate... all of these things are possibilities.

I don't expect it to be easy. I don't expect it to all be positive. I expect to be confused. Frustrated. Challenged. Inspired. Enraged. I'm sure I will read things that don't make sense at all, or that contradict what I thought I knew. I expect to be wrong. But that means I will grow. I will expand my ideas, I will learn new ways of perceiving what is around me. That, my friends, is evolution.

"I choose to live and to grow, take and give and to move, learn and love and to cry, kill and die and to be paranoid and to lie, hate and fear, and to do what it takes to move through."