Saturday, September 24, 2011

the research paper strikes again

Images from
Princess teaches middle schoolers, who, if you did not know, are a unique breed of human. Princess’ favorite thing about middle schoolers is that they can be excited about EVER.Y.THING., as long as it is presented properly.

Enter The Research Paper. Experience has taught Princess that The Research Paper regularly makes students break out in hives and has probably left many teachers with a substance abuse problem. This was the challenge for last year's class: Introduce The Research Paper and do it in such a way that overly-excitable students will accidentally think that it will be FUN. Evil? Princess doesn’t think so. (For example, if you ever get a bad haircut, Princess will NOT tell you it is bad, because there’s nothing you can do apr├Ęs le “chop,” and you might as well enjoy it in ignorance. Princess applies this same it’s-bad-but-we-should-pretend-it’s-good philosophy to any difficult assignments in her class.)

For The Research Paper, Princess chose a ridiculous topic that would both fascinate and disgust her students: RODENTS. (In middle school, there is a positive correlation between the grossness of an assignment’s topic and the enthusiasm with which a student approaches the assignment.) The assignment was to write a comparing/contrasting piece on the world’s smallest rodent (pygmy jerboa: size of a golfball, hops on two feet like a kangaroo, simultaneously adorable and disturbing) and the world’s largest rodent (capybara: size of a large dog, can be kept as a pet, simultaneously adorable and disturbing).

This is what happened when she presented the assignment:

Princess: And here is a picture of Caplin! He’s a capybara that lives in Texas and you can be his friend on Facebook.
Class: He’s so cute! We love him!
Princess: Here’s a video of Caplin swimming in a pool!
Class: WE LOVE HIM!!
Random few students: Gross. We hate him, yet still want to google him.
Princess: Great idea! Let’s research him online, and we can write down important facts that we learn.
Class: YAY!!
Princess: Look, here’s Caplin’s website. You can buy one of these stuffed capybaras and the money goes to pay Caplin’s medical bills.
Class: Let’s buy one! We want to buy one!
Princess: Great! I actually bought one yesterday and he’s on the way! We helped pay Caplin’s medical bills—isn’t that a good feeling?
Class: Yes! We love research papers!
Random smart student: Why does Caplin’s website say 7/10/2007 – 1/04/2011?
Princess: Silence. Wide eyes.
Class: Mrs. Princess!! Tell us!! Is Caplin okay?!?! We are flipping out!
Princess: Um. I think Caplin died. Yesterday.
Class: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA/mass devastation/gnashing of teeth
Princess (to herself): I knew research papers were evil.

-5 minutes of silence/holding back tears-

Princess: And this is why it's important to include the date we access a website in our MLA citation.

Now for the good news:
  1. The students did an AMAZING job on their papers (average grade was a 93!) and were superstars about citing their sources and producing quality writing. Princess was very proud and believes they did it in honor of Caplin.
  2. The stuffed capybara still sits on the file cabinet, and is dearly loved by the students.
  3. Caplin’s family adopted a new capybara named Garibaldi. You can read about him at
  4. Princess is considering a different topic for this year’s research paper.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Does Princess REALLY need to witness Mufasa die in 3-D?? Did this particular scene not scar her severely enough in 2-D twelve years ago? Would Disney also like kill Bambi's mom again and maybe make a new movie about Anne Frank, Amelia Earhart (WHERE IS SHE!?!?!), and Chandra Levy (NEVER GO RUNNING IN THE PARK!!!) and include "Butterfly Kisses" and "Christmas Shoes" on the soundtrack? Because then perhaps Princess would NEVER STOP CRYING and fearing for her life.

Princess apologizes for the excess caps-lock-ing. It is a stress-induced condition requiring Chick-fil-A or salted caramel.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

a blunderful day

An account of the day’s many mishaps:

7 a.m.                On the morning drive to work, Princess’ hair somehow landed into her chocolate protein drink, which then dribbled all over the shirt and skirt she IRONED, which is a big deal. She spent the drive desperately screaming at her Tide-To-Go pen (“IS THAT ALL YOU’VE GOT!?!?”) and furiously scrubbing away the stains at red lights.
7:30 a.m.          Princess obtained permission to go home and change. One cannot look a fool in front of middle schoolers, as they enjoy POINTING OUT MISFORTUNES.
8:20 a.m.          Princess decides that maybe today is the day that her taste buds will finally accept coffee. She pours herself a cup, sweetens it with cinnamon, and takes a sip. Her resulting gag and look of disgust are misinterpreted by someone else in the room as a rejection of what the person was just talking about. Princess explains, no, it’s not you. It’s the coffee. Princess washes out her mug and makes green tea.
2:30 p.m.          Princess finally finishes grading a giant stack of papers, and with carefree accomplishment, tosses her bright blue grading pin into what she believes to the mug where she keeps her pens. Curiously, she heard a splash. Princess then inferred that,  no that is not the pen mug. It’s the mug of green tea that she never ended up drinking anyway. She rescues her drowning pen, and watches as the inky tea begins to discolor her fingers and turn her into an Avatar.

UPDATE: At 6:15 p.m., Princess got in her car to go home and literally pulled the door handle off of her car.
Time for bed.