Friday, February 28, 2014

Theory 34: If folks think you're crazy, you can breeze through life.

My nieces Balloon Girl and Cake love to roll their happy eyes, shake their thick dark hair, and sigh, "Crazy Aunt Bug." Why? They think I'm a nut. In response to a rude book review on Amazon, one of my friends rebutted, "You may not like how direct she is, but that's just Bug." Delicious is always telling me to "calm down." Comments like these come my way on a daily basis, which makes me wonder, why do people think I'm crazy? Let us explore the possible reasons:

As I said in an earlier post, I come from a family of minstrels on my mother's side. Many can sing. I can't. But I relish the opportunity to break into song in my classroom. I am certain my students enjoy it. Many can play instruments. I can't. Yes, I played clarinet in the UT Pride of the Southland Band, but I assure you I didn't play it well. Just ask my poor section leader, "Mama M." I finally fake-confessed that I was tone deaf. Perhaps that was my first dabble into intentional insanity. Once my trilling peers "knew" I was medically-musically handicapped, they took pity and cut me lots of slack. From then on, I could focus on equidistant spacing, smooth arcs, and straight lines. Ever tried to march in a line around a corner? Athletes, I tell you. Athletes. Gotta love a chubby piccolo player squatting and hauling her tail across pavement while tweeting a run of Rocky Top.

I drink six cups of coffee every morning.
My friends gave me a tower of Bota Box Pinot Grigio for my birthday. Just sayin'.

One time, my daddy Pooh asked, "Delicious, are you EVER going to clean up this pile of clothes?" Delicious responded, "Pooh, are you EVER going to clean up this pile of clothes?"

On the "about" page of my website, I note:
"My childhood was modest, but I was allowed to think, question, and speak without much limitation. My mother is a fantastic storyteller with a huge personality and gracious attitude toward others. My father was an intellectual mountain man with keen insight and dry wit. As an only child, I absorbed all that freedom and attention and grew up to be a straight-spoken, tolerant woman with a wild sense of humor."

Lemme get specific. My daddy was addicted to the Sevier County Public Library and read several books of varied genres each week. If he wanted to do something, like fly fish or make jerky, he hit the bookshelves and taught himself. There were no limits. He lathed a working boomerang. No joke. He invented his own walnut-sheller. He brewed his own "Pooh Beer" in the hallway of our 100+ year-old farmhouse. He tied colorful weightless flies for his fishing expeditions to the Little River, Elkmont, and Metcalf Bottoms of The Great Smoky Mountains. Pooh flea-dipped beloved beagles, grew pumpkins the size of a truck bed, and planted rows of Iris and lily bulbs for Delicious.

My mother, whom many of you know, talked and taught incessantly. She followed Pooh around The Crippled Beagle farm as he often tried to do all the above in solitude (a love of which I inherited). Delicious made desserts, Christmas wreaths, declarations of love, and directed me to be a self-confident, compassionate, individual thinker.

Delicious is a colorful storyteller. Pooh possessed a dry wit that none could rival and most couldn't understand.

Like everyone else my age or close to it, I've been through the ringer.
Hmmm. Delicious and I lost Pooh when I was 19 (he was 44).
Tall Child and I have endured marital strife and succeeded.
Tall Child and I endured six years of infertility, then two years of the domestic adoption process.
We, along with Sharky and our family and friends welcomed home baby Gnome in 2010.
Now we carefully navigate the burdensome blessing of open adoption with his birth family.
I left banking after ten years and a stressful merger, stayed at home, substitute taught, and now teach freshmen technology.
I've been a normal student, an adult student (I'm pretty sure I was the oldest woman on the Pellissippi State Community College campus), and pretty soon I'll be a 40-year-old student for my master's degree. Yay. Not.

Like my nieces, my students also comment on my odd ways. I don't understand what's weird about  playing theme music in class (the "Love Boat" song with The Odyssey makes sense to me) and creating abstract, yet related assignments like resumes for Shakespeare, crop circle investigations in geometry, and—my favorite—the ultimate lesson plan all about the Knoxville Utilities Board (which features a riveting video of a KUB board meeting). And, yes, we are state champions in high school football, but when I say that the games are really meant to fire up fans for the marching band and calm them down after the shoe-stomping performance, they look at me like I'm a nut.  Go Red Rebel Marching Band!

~ ~ ~

One of my students last year—let's call him Giant Ginger—diagnosed me with adult onset ADHD. He said, "Mrs. Bug, you wear me out. You'll be giving us instructions and all of a sudden break into some story and then say 'Look, a squirrel!' and then go back to the instructions. You are ADHD and I know because I have it."

Maybe it's cool to be crazy; eccentricity is often associated with creativity, intelligence, and personality. And, thanks to Giant Ginger, I have a diagnosis.

She's not driving.

 ~ ~ ~
I'm okay with people thinking I am a little nuts, even though I know I'm sane, because I can breeze through life.  

Ah, how about some informational text with graphic elements—every American teacher's favorite topic these days? I've created the following diagram to help you understand the benefits of being crazy:
Ways to Convince Folks You are Crazy
What to do
Employ a quick, fiery tongue so people fear what you might say in meetings.
You’ll avoid parent-teacher conferences, staff meetings, and interview processes.
Someone else will head the committee or lead the project. You can just claim credit for unique ideas and brilliant contributions, minus all the headaches.
Trip at will.
No one will ask you to help him paint, move, build a fence, or install anything.
Drive erratically.
No driving co-workers on conference calls. No car-pooling the neighbors’ children.
Get lost on purpose (once with each friend and relative).
You may never be the designated driver (though you should ALWAYS have one).
Wear the same ugly outfit all the time.
Friends will give you fashion advice. Mother-in-laws will send you gift cards to nice stores.
Strategically place one long black hair in a dish you bring to work, church, or showers.
From then on, you’ll only be responsible for plates and napkins.
Fake being a chain smoker? Red Hot Backspace says you don’t have to inhale. Just hold it and let it burn and then flip the ashes.
Get your own room at hotels and take lots of, ahem, “smoke breaks.”
Sneeze on your hands all the time.
You won’t have to be a church greeter. You can sleep in on Sundays.
Be, as Tall Child calls me, a “Fashion disaster.” Mix plaids and stripes. Wear flip-flops in February. Red Hot Backspace says, “Make your hair look like a stump full of granddaddies.”
No public speaking for you! Whew.
Make random jerky spasms with your arms and legs.
If you live with a large family, you’ll get your own bed.
Make huge messes when you cook, maybe burn something and stink up the kitchen.
Someone else will cook Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
Talk to an imaginary friend (especially as an adult).
You can assign blame.
Keep a really messy house with lots of clutter and envelopes and empty glasses everywhere. Fill every inch with stuff.
You won’t have overnight company or all the work that comes with overnight company. You’ll save a fortune.
Roll gifts up in comic book paper and wind duct tape or string around the ends.
Kind friends will just add your name to tags and let you chip in money. You don’t have to go to a store, find a gift (geez, those registries), or wrap anything!
Use the backspace button to oblivion.
Your co-worker will record the meeting minutes.
Keep a super messy pocket book and wallet.
You’ll never be treasurer of anything. You are welcome.
Repeat yourself, tell the same stories; maybe even stutter on purpose.
No one will ask you to explain anything.
Yell at children (keep your yelling appropriate but slightly maniacal).
You won’t have to chaperone field trips, take care of other people’s children on snow days, or teach vacation Bible school.
Throw out a few bad words in locations where you shouldn’t.
You will never hear, “[Your name], will you lead us in prayer today?”

Readers, I'm sorry this chart is overlapping the right. I don't have time to fix.
Gotta go teach Shakespeare!
Want to do a play date in my backyard? I didn't think so.

I couldn't resist posing this question to my freshmen students. They are such a kind, tolerant species, really. I asked "Students, what are some benefits to people thinking you are crazy?" Here are their answers verbatim:

"People leave you alone."
"You feel special."
"You don't get in as much trouble."
"You can be on the fence, like, 'Oh, don't ask her. She's craaaaazy.'"
"Nobody will mess with you. You might go ninja."
"If you try stunts on the lawnmower, your parents won't make you mow the grass anymore."
"Use the time that you would have being normal doing something promotive in life."
"When I walk down the hall, the eighth graders won't move, so I yell and scream. Then they move."

Last but not least, you can flat out break it down. Benefit? Folks will think you're crazy, but you'll be the life of the party! Go, Sharky, Go!

Click here: "Dancin' Machine" as interpreted by Sharky (then age 7).

So, maybe mama is crazy, but she's efficient. Let's talk next week about this well-known FACT---
Come back Friday for Theory 35: When Mama's out of commission, the world falls apart.

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn.

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website:

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website:

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Just thinking outside the barn...

Just thinking outside the barn...