100 Ways to Splice, Dice, and Slice (Spend) One Hundred Classroom (Personal) Dollars
I’ve got one hundred dollars in the bank. My personal account, drained by all counts. Even though I just moved up another rank. The raise is nice but falls along a gentle slope while inflation rages. All the world’s a stage. All prices fully spiked. The line between Here and There (aka Somewhere) is extraordinarily steep. I’ve already received notes from students. Some can’t afford This. Others can’t afford That. Many lack the funds to purchase both This AND That. Conjunctions proliferate. Angst seeps among airs (and heirs). Abundance presents as impossible dilemmas. Letters both electronic and paper replete with stories that would make a grown man weep. Relief is nowhere in sight. I lack training and knowledge on an appropriate reply. No matter what strings of syllables I try, I’m left in a corner and prone to inexplicable cries. I saw the warnings cloaked in chalkboard dust. Heavy clouds lined the late Spring and early Summer skies. Last week, I shook Lysol cans. Sprayed chairs of four rods. Wiped desks of two. All supports wobbly. Legs both prone to (and colored of) rust. The school funds are locked. Staff hours carefully clocked. My room is running on overdrive. My energy (and supplies) mostly fried. Leads for upgrades already tried. The space (and the bookcase) needs a refresh. The students need fresh fuel. I’ve taken stock and stacked all shelves. With gaps in excess, I must now decide how to prioritize all remaining tools. I withdrew my final one hundred dollars. Bi-weekly checks delayed. Then walked (not drove, gas prices also inflated) to my local Target. A big-box sandwiched between off-brand Family Dollar and a high-end boutique (eyebrows raised, foreign fodder). I planned a bullseye spree until I realized (though never reconciled) that my dreams were awash in artificial glee. I had forgot how far I had to walk and how limited the buck is when pressed to talk. Mental math had always been my superpower. Now, my hopes dwindle with each passing hour. I could splurge on four footballs. Perhaps a new hula hoop. Exercise of limbs and lungs always important. But then my bookcase might feel neglected. The paperbacks dogeared and fully digested. Kinney has a new release. As does Craft. Zones of proximal development recommend I include a selection across multiple proficiency graphs. Hardbacks have long lifespans, but paperbacks are two for ten dollars. Now that’s a steal that’s hard to pass. Hurry, I whisper to myself. Think fast. I spy a single bargain amidst a crowded lot. But reading is only one part of our pedagogical equation. We’ll need some unmarked rulers. And perhaps a scale to balance varied interests. My cents and sense of personal classroom-management ability already evaporating. The science beakers broke last Spring. Another unfortunate series of events (Lemony Snicket a perennial favorite). Handler has always had a better handle on the predictability of youth than I. The crash occurred same day the classroom frog decided to croak. There was no explanation. All tubs of glue both Elmer’s and Scotch were secure. Gorilla Brand jugs safe behind a kid-proof locked door. The paints were secure in my right-side desk drawer. The frog’s food was (then) in abundant supply. We never did identify a reason why. Perhaps the best use of the monies might be to give a classroom pet another try. Though that would require more food and clean water situations are also dire. Threats of lead real. Pressures build. I worry some might be forced to steal. Alarms sound. My thinking is redirected. I scan the canned good aisles. Consider some extra boxes of flakes. Frosted and Special K likely to appeal to all tastes. Instead, I grab a family-sized box of Cheerios. Surprisingly, they are two-for-five and gluten free. I’ll take whatever I can get. Then I worry more about how to manage allergies. So many terms from A to Z. Ultimately, I empty my basket and stand deflated before rows and racks of brightly colored supplies. Bags of rubber bands and balloons equally limp. I’m not the only one questioning why teachers are forced to skimp. Pawns in a complex prisoner’s dilemma. We’ll never give up on the kids. Yet I have a sinking feeling that each of us is destined to a game we cannot win. In the end, I know that how I spend my dollars isn’t what matters most. I’ll give my assignments (both child and state) everything I’ve got. Fill all assigned lots with love. What we need most is to know that we’ll be safe. To learn. To fail. To set forth on news sails. Sadly, with all rooms and doors locked. If only I could buy a place called Peace.
when grammar is nothing more than rules of destruction
i’d like to plant a seed
amidst 14 acres of guns and gear. the kind found in dollar-store bargain bins at ten cents a pack. all pockets picked. while the lobbyists eyes are closed, and pennies are counted. and bury it, as a substitute for perfunctory prayers, among dandelions and lambsquarters, all corners checked. and pray it grows like evergreen. and that the sun will come out tomorrow. and blanket periods and petitions with no performance. amidst commas, handshakes pauses and cover shots. click bait and texts that can’t wait. semicolons, too. there was another delay – on the turnpike, at the turnstile, under the table. propositions tangle with prepositions. rates rise and brakes continue to fail. stalls of freeways and firearm decrees persist. toss in exclamations – words like crap and shoot and bull. bleep out what you must. we’re a soiled nation with no trust. all reasonable ideas simply dust.
from the garden section – of a big-box. grab the goods, off the shelf. or a random lot – picked while the children should have been focused on homework or hopscotch, yet the service lines are monitored by bots. the nra offers blessings as active shooter drills remain a must. and sales of bulletproof backpacks with a side of duct-tape surge and lives combust. predictable linear relationships – on repeat. edit for clarity. avoid repetition, the grammar gods say. another massacre. another day.
with a mix of active and passive voices. in corners where gun manufacturers trade favors and boots in lobbies stomp all around our dark town. and fill plots with untraditional capital and capitalization. swap fresh roots for faded red ink. no state capital off the hook. lawmakers argue over clauses and construction. syntax and semantics more a device than a democracy. all are a witness to the death of a nation.
and gather its brothers and sisters and children and mothers in group hugs on ABC and cotton-candy-colored rugs. and sprinkle water of hope and sun and laughter. then dig like the sun will always come out tomorrow. then toss em and en dashes and hyphens both single and double and all forms of punctuation. to stomp out the pain of punctuated life.
but i cannot
the right to bear arms
bares only the darkness
of a nation’s soul
what is right remains
host to multiple meanings
while burial hymns play
it’s a matter of simple sentence construction --the nra must stop
Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. Recent works include A Collection of Recollections, Invisible Ink,On Habits & Habitats, and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups. She recommends Philly ASAP.