On Restless Beagles and Night-Before-Road-Trip Insomnia

Okay, so I thought the next post would be from Davenport, IA, but, thanks to one of the most wonderful women in the world, I have a nicer place to sleep than my empty townhouse, as well as a working internet connection, so what they hey. I also have insomnia; it’s 1:30 a.m., my last few hours in Ann Arbor, and I should be asleep, given the work we have to do in the morning and the cleaning and the driving to Iowa.

But I’m still up, with an allergy attack and a very restless beagle, who refuses to sleep in the bedroom in my friend Ann’s house, who so graciously opened her home to us on our tonight so we wouldn’t have to sleep on the floor.

Bayley just will not sleep in Ann’s daughter’s room, so we came back downstairs, where he had a long drink of water and finished off his dinner, which had been waiting for him since around 3 p.m. He finally has plopped down on the kitchen tile and is snoring. I have no idea why he prefers the cool, hard kitchen floor to a bed, but I have never pretended to understand the inner workings of beagles.

His world, for the 15th time in his short life, is topsy-turvy again and he’s about to spend seven longs days in the Jeep and seven long nights in strange LaQuinta hotels. Poor dog has lived in five states and visited 14 others. He’s gotten around quite a bit in 12 years.

But he looks good to go for another round, which is a good thing. In a short six hours, Ann will wake us up and we’ll head back to the apartment, where we still have to clean the ‘fridge and mop the floor and vacuum the living room and basement. I also have to finish packing and loading the Jeep, which was looking like a hopeless cause this evening, until I realized you can get rooftop bags that attach to the luggage rack and free up much needed space inside the car. Our first mission in the morning will be to search out such a thing.

Instead of sleeping, I’m waiting for the Alavert to take over and the head to stop pounding. Naturally, the internet beckoned. My niece in Fort Worth(less) tried to IM me earlier in the evening and show me pics of her fiance, who I’ve never met and probably won’t until the wedding next June. It’s a weird, strange thing to be 42 and have young nieces who are getting married.

Viewing her website led me to her brother’s MySpace site, which has strange and wonderful pictures and weird and mystical writings. Which loops my thinking right around to the recurring theme of my teaching: internet safety/privacy.

(Warning: Favorite subject/broken record rant follows. Scroll down and ignore. I’m a harmless ol’ coot complainin’ ‘bout the whippersnappers for the next couple of paragraphs.)

Does my nephew’s generation really think that ANYthing they post on MySpace, etc., is really private? That only their friends see their … interesting (given my family’s hyper-religious background) pictures, comments, and other postings? Maybe they think us old fogies are terminally clueless and don’t know how to use the internets, forgetting that at least one of their uncles is young enough to have been creating websites and doing web consulting (and, for that matter, trading naughty IMs with guys from New York to California) since they were little bitty snot-nosed kids in elementary school. And that said uncle is married to a research librarian and knows a thing or two about how to use the new-fangled Inter-netty thang to find out some v-e-r-y interesting things.

Or, in this particular case, have I been so distant from the Texhoma nexus of the family that I’m off the radar, a non-entity who jets in occasionally from the faggy, er, I mean, foggy place, bitches about Oklahoma, and then jets back to his fabulous social life of slurping Jello shooters off the taut, muscle-rippled bodies of 21-year-old gym bunnies on Gay Pride Parade floats every weekend? Or so they seem to think when the reality is so much more … boring?

I can do little about the family thing, save sending a little smack-down IM or e-mail, but I will have to do something at the new job. Middle school teachers, particularly in language arts and social studies, have to not only get ON the band wagon, but get out in front and lead the band. Or else terminally un-hip and un-cool uncles 2,500 miles away might just run across pictures better left to dark desk drawers. Trouble is, most teachers not only are not leading the band, but they haven’t a clue that a band just went through town, although they have heard tell that some contraption called a wagon might have been spotted in the neighborhood.

It does make me wonder a bit if I shouldn’t be educating teachers and parents instead of seventh graders.

‘Nuff. 30 minutes have gone by, the Alavert is beginning to work, I’m starting to bore even myself with what I call the “Whippersnapper Routine;” you know the one, where your dad’s standard phrases like, “kids today,” and “you young whippersnappers,” and “when I was your age” come out of your mouth and you mean them. I have renewed a vow to shut my mouth, forcibly with my hand if necessary, this year in the classroom if I feel the “Whippersnapper Routine” coming on.

And now I have to go smack down another sort of whippersnapper; it’s 2:12 a.m. and the beagle just jumped off the kitchen tile and starting howling. God only knows at what, but I’m pretty sure he woke up the longsuffering friends who are putting up with us today/tonight (not to mention the entire frickin’ neighborhood) and gave them a heart attack. Beagle baying at 2 a.m. wakes the dead and scares the living to death.

Ann, I owe you, big time!

Now where did I put that muzzle??

Night, y’all.