Sunday, July 31, 2005

Personality flaw or just bad luck?

It was my last day in London, and I was on my way to the airport to head to Paris for the study abroad, the summer after my junior year in college. I had my rolling suitcase, plus a backpack and my usual heavy purse.

I entered the train car, brought all my crap over to a seat, and was bending down to sit. The train then began moving, giving that lurch that trains do. I hadn't actually sat yet, and the lurch caused me to lose my balance. That and the backpack on my back propelled me sideways, onto the lap of the poor citizen on the next seat. I started to apologize, when the backpack kept propelling me onwards, this time toward the floor. I landed on all fours, when the stupid pack moved up my back, finally plopping me in an honest-to-goodness face plant, on the floor of the subway car.

I lay there stunned for a moment, then began to laugh. What a ridiculous predicament! The Londonites surrounding me quickly piped up with concern, asking me if I was alright. Laughing, sighing, shaking my head with incredulity, I said that I was fine. Blushing, still shaking my head, I stood up, dusted myself off, and finally got my butt into a seat. What an idiot I was!


Fast forward about five years. I'm cleaning my room, really cleaning it, for the first time since my mom was out here at Christmas. Taking all the crap off the floor, moving the mini furniture out into the hall to clear it for vacuuming.

Once I have all the movable things out and the floor clear of debris, I fetch the vacuum from the hall closet. As I bring it into my room, some side bit on the vacuum catches on the wee plastic shelf unit crammed into the corner, only about a foot away from another corner. Like this:

Well, you can imagine where this is going.

The vacuum caught on the shelf. I tried to wiggle it free and step over it at the same time. Since there's not much room right there, my foot also caught on the fucking vacuum cleaner. I flailed for a moment, then crashed onto the floor.

And now I have a battle scar on my leg to show for my utter stupid clumsiness: One big scratch, one little scratch, and a third scratch/quarter-sized bruise.

Only me, my friends. Only me. Some excellent combination of a personality/physical flaw, and plain bad luck. And/or just being a fucking idiot.

At least my room is now clean; I've got something to show for my lamest of lame injuries!

Thursday, July 28, 2005


Yahoo, summer classes are finished! Whee!

woo HOO!

Today is the last day of school!

It's early yet; I still have to go there, take a test, and turn in a project.

But in a few hours, there will be no more school this summer! Whee!

Ai, I am so fucking tired.

On Monday night, I fly back home, across the country. It's weird; I'm pretty sure I'll get all disoriented about where and when I am. But I'm looking forward to seeing everyone back home, family and friends. Hopefully there will be some sleeping in, some having of fun, some hanging out, some driving around, and some relaxing. And some shopping and some packing, too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Thank god summer session is almost over, and Other Miscellany

All weekend, I could not bring myself to do any work. As I've mentioned, that big-ass project is due on Thursday, and I had another little paper due today. Did I do anything about those things on Friday? No. How about Saturday? Nope. Sunday? Certainly not. Monday? I did some printing. Finished the paper in about ten minutes.

I just could.not.resist Freecell and movies and books and music. Pretty much anything other than work. On the other hand, I did get to sing the Ascot Gavotte song along with My Fair Lady. That's so my favorite number, from when I was in the chorus for my middle school production. For most of the show, I played "Cockney Number Four," which the music teacher/musical director invented for me (there are only supposed to be three Cockney parts). I even got my own two-line solo. Anyway, we also got to play the members at the Ascot Races. I had so much fun posturing and over-enunciating, like a posh English socialite. Whee!


I skipped out on diversity class today, because I wanted to go to a book-signing in the city. Not to be a total slacker, I brought along all the article resources I'd printed out. I got the bookstore, had a snack, and highlighted/noted my way through ALL of them. Yay for me! I understood all of the articles, and they were quite fascinating. (I'll be posting later, don't fret. :))

The book reading was by Danny Wallace, author of the HILARIOUS Join Me, for his new book, Yes Man. The reading was quite entertaining, through the actual text, the witty binter, and the slightly-stalkerish questions of a middle-aged woman. Here I am with the funny man himself. Cute, too! :)

Right as soon as I got home, I got to work on the project. There's two parts, an annotated bibliography and a lesson/reflection paper. As of now, I'm half through the annotating, and I already have a lesson I'll use. Set the alarm for bright and early tomorrow to get more done.


I got 103% on my midterm from last week! Look at the big brains on Julie...


Girl with ZERO volume control on the bus, also sporting a touch of nasal New England lockjaw: "Oh my god, my dad never gives me money. 'Waah, I had to buy coffee this morning.' 'Grr, why don't you just MAKE some coffee?' Or go the movies: grr, just wait til it comes out on video! grr!' Really, it's gotten to be psychotic. Oh my god. But my sister will lend me money, 'cause she knows I'll, like, pay her back. My brother, he never pays her back. He finally has his first job. He's, like, 32, and he's so excited to have real benefits, and everything."

Did I mention zero volume control? That's why I got to hear entire fucking life story. What is the moral of this tale? Keep your goddamn voice down when you're in a crowded public space. It's called common fucking COURTESY.


Food for thought from tonight's local news: Would the neighbors have called the feds if the five unemployed engineers next door had been white instead of Egyptian?

Monday, July 25, 2005

The *Real* Traveling Pants

These are trousers that have put in time and effort all around the country. They are genuine, government-issued khaki BDUs (battle dress uniform) in men's size medium. (What, you don't think the Army would actually make clothes to fit women, do you?)

These pants bear the scars of their own, nonviolent battles. The marks are not listed in chronological order.

A spot of burgundy on each knee represents two full days spent crawling around on the ground, painting large, wooden wagon wheels. If you think it is easy to paint something round and full of crannies with a large, flat brush, are mistaken. :) This was one of the projects at TrailBlazers in New Jersey.

The pants are marked in many places with pale blue paint. The number marks the place where a poorly-aimed roller rolled right off the plank I was painting. Oops. The planks were some weird, very heavy material for house siding, which we painted for our sponsors, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Bridgeport (Connecticut).

Spots of thick gray paint represent our short sojourn in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. For two weeks, we did almost nothing except paint. As a result, I dreamt of almost nothing but painting. It was so boring that I would not be able to stay asleep. I bored myself awake!
Anyway, the first thing we had to do was scrape off the old, gray, lead paint from the main lodge building. There had to be tarps (old bedsheets) underfoot at all times to catch the flaking chips. After the old stuff was off, we painted a layer of the thick, gray, oil-based paint. That shit does NOT come off easily. We all had to soak our hands in turpentine, and then scrub, to remove it. And even then there was a gray tinge left to the skin.

These markers in two places represent a project with Seattle Works. One marker is at a spot of yellow, in a clear imprint of the end of a paint roller, the other is at a streak of bright green dripping down the leg. There's also a small bit of purple on the other leg that I didn't mark.
This project involved painting the computer lab of a nonprofit. We painted using those three colors they had chosen: a two-foot-wide purple strip running horizontally along two walls, with green below and yellow above. Another whole wall was green, and the last whole wall was yellow. It was an odd combination, but it worked alright.

--Some of the white paint at the bottom is from painting the computer lab at the primary school where we tutored kids in Baltimore.

--Other white paint is from cutting in ceilings while working in Bridgeport.

Now, lest you think that I only did four things while wearing these pants, and they were all painting, oh, just you wait! These pants also bear invisible witness to all kinds of other projects:

--They helped me build things and haul things in all projects.

--The tough material soaked up river water and mud from the Quinnipiac River in Connecticut.

--It absorbed sweat while we built a labyrinth out of gravel and brick.

--It bounced off chips of paint being scraped from a dock and a basement at TrailBlazers.

--The pants kept me warm in the freezing cold of Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut. Often I layered sweatpants or leggings underneath.

--In the same vein, these pants became pajamas in New Jersey when it was too cold to undress. We slept in our uniforms, then worked all day in them, then slept in them, then worked, etc.

--These pants got washed a maximum of once a week. They really became part of me!

--They have protected me from nettles, thorns, and poison ivy while hiking the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey, canoeing the river in Connecticut, and pulling weeds at Magnuson Park in Seattle.

--They protected me from dust and insulation debris while climbing around basements and attics while volunteering with the East King County chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

--They protected me from needles and other scary human debris while cleaning a bird park and several city blocks of Baltimore.

--They kept me sweaty while doing disaster work in humid-ass Texas.

--The huge cargo pockets provided space for wallet, book, walkman, snacks, and camera, while traveling by van or by plane. When working, they held water, snacks, gloves, and camera. I loved those damn pockets.

What about the warm, humid summer months, you ask? Well, during that time, the Traveling Pants were replaced by the Traveling Shorts.

These shorts were acquired secondhand, as my issued pair were heavy winter weight material, and huge enough to slide off even fully buttoned and buckled (see the little tab at the upper right corner? that's for cinching them tighter if needed. all the pants and shorts have them).
They came pretty dirty, but I did my part in contributing even more scars of battle.

Our main jobs in New Hampshire and Cape Cod involving painting unit buildings around the camp. We always used the same dark brown paint. As you can see, I was quite often a messy painter; my shorts, shirt, and even bathing suit (what? it was really fucking hot in New Hampshire in July!) got a good coating of the ugly brown stuff.

This gray paint is from the Cape Cod oil painting.

--These shorts also kept me cool while running around doing other projects in New Hampshire, like walking horses, carrying hay, and doing outdoor programs with campers.

--These shorts absorbed sweat and mud in Delaware, when we planted 700 trees in one day at a charter school.

--They helped me help my cousin tape and paint his new apartment this month.

--They helped me gauge my weight: when tight, I knew I had been eating too much lately. When I could tighten the cinches, I knew I was on the slender side.

--They are comfortable and I love them and I often forget that they are covered in paint. Occasionally I walk around in public in them, and I just mentally dare anyone to say something about them.

_ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ __ _ __ _ _ _ __ _ _ __ _ _ _ _

At first glance, these clothes are old, ratty things that should probably be tossed out straightaway. But they hold so much value in their memories, and I will keep them and use them for a long time.
Plus, that shit is built tough. It's freakin' army gear!

So, bloggers, now it's your turn: What clothes of yours hold a story?

Friday, July 22, 2005

A Tale of Two Cities

If you have heretofore been unaware of the great "ist" websites, sweet and sarcastic relief is in store for you, my friend. Seattlest, in my humble opinion, is way funner to read than Gothamist. Check out the random links in the text of their stories, they will make you go "hmm" or "ha!"

Here is a list of salary values around the country. New York City is in last place, at 188; Seattle placed at 175.

However, with a master's degree and two years of teaching (which will be my status after my Fellowship is over next summer), I could be earning over $37,000 in Washington state. Though it would be a paycut in terms of gross pay, I would actually take home significantly more, since my fair home state does not have any kind of local or state tax.

Very interesting food for thought, hm?

Still praying for a contract though, in the meantime...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

"The Pedagogy of Poverty"

Truly a fascinating article. Here is the full text by Martin Haberman. Please read it, especially if you're a teacher, most especially if you're an urban teacher. It will be quite enlightening, I believe. This is my own response.

As a “white girl,” I know that I must walk a fine line in discussing urban children and school systems, as in theory I am part of the oppressor. However, being a female and thus exposed to some stereotypes and derogatory remarks, as well as a student of international women’s studies, I am confident that I can move past my white privilege to understanding and helping bring about cultural sensitivity.

I was an undergraduate the first time that I had to read the article, “Unpacking the Backpack of White Privilege,” and at first I really resisted the idea. After all, I’m a girl! I’m oppressed! All the bad stuff was a long time ago, right? We’re past the overt racism, aren’t we? But through further readings of the article, and heated discussions in class, and other readings and other classes, I began to see that yep, I have all kinds of ascribed status due to my skin (and even eye) color, and those attributes have allowed me to do things and go places much easier than other attributes, and they have also helped me look good in the eyes of other people (and thus succeed) in the dominant culture.

In that vein, when I began to read Martin Haberman’s article, “The Pedagogy of Poverty,” I had a sinking feeling of “oh, here we go again, with the ‘bad white people’ thing…I swear I didn’t do anything wrong! There’s got to be more to it than just white teachers keeping black/Hispanic/poor students oppressed.”

"The teaching acts that constitute the core functions of urban teaching are:
giving information,
asking questions,
giving directions,
making assignments,
monitoring seatwork,
reviewing assignments,
giving tests,
reviewing tests,
assigning homework,
reviewing homework,
settling disputes,
punishing noncompliance,
marking papers, and
giving grades."

When I got to this list of acts within the pedagogy of poverty, I was, quite frankly, confused. How is that anything other than just plain teaching? My view of teachers and teaching (which I grew up around, so it’s not just this year) has always included those activities. How do you teach without things like monitoring, testing, grading, etc? How can teachers, parents, and community expect anything differently? If teachers don’t do that, what in the world *do* they do?

Then, once I got to the next set of lists, things starting clicking into place. The logic of how students and teachers are on parallel but unequal tracks and wavelengths was quietly enlightening for me. The first one, about teaching vs. learning, is very true of dominant culture’s expectation of roles to play in schools.

"Teaching is what teachers do. Learning is what students do. Therefore, students and teachers are engaged in different activities.

Teachers are in charge and responsible. Students are those who still need to develop appropriate behavior. Therefore, when students follow teachers' directions, appropriate behavior is being taught and learned."

Learning is something that I’ve always loved; I therefore know at least a little bit about a lot of different things. I did what I could to pass on interesting facts and information to my students when I could, things that they wouldn’t normally get to learn or hear about. I wanted to pique their interest with new tidbits, in hopes of nudging them towards motivation to learn more on their own.

On several occasions throughout the year, students would look at me wide-eyed and say things like, “Miss C, do you know everything?” “How come you’re so smart?” “Do you know all the words?” And though I usually kept a straight face (with difficulty), I was delighted at this response. I thought it was cute that they thought I was some kind of omniscient being, instead of just a teacher. And I also thought to myself, “Ha! At last being a so-called nerd comes through! Maybe I can help them want to learn lots of things too!” But through the lens of this article, I can see that all the dispensing of knowledge on my end intimidated my students. How could they hope to know as much as I do? Teachers are for telling you things, interesting and boring, and students’ jobs are for listening and behaving.

The discussion about the evidence of this pedagogy’s ineffectiveness made me really happy, only because I could so well identify exactly with those things. YES, I have totally had to transform myself into a mean, nasty, authoritarian to even attempt to survive in my urban classroom. I knew I would have to, though, since I’m a softy young white female first year teacher. Even though I knew the students would be really tough on me, but I had no idea just how tough I’d have to get. And I’m not even there yet! Next year I need to be much meaner right of the bat, to set a no-nonsense tone for my classroom.

Haberman’s line that says, “But if pedagogy of poverty will not force the learning of low-level skills, how can it be used to compel genuine thinking?” was such a perfect summation of my feelings and experiences this past year. My biggest complaints have been that the students cannot think for themselves, nor do they possess knowledge of the building blocks of the mechanics of the written language. I know that in future examinations and life experiences (like resume writing), that is going to be a serious problem for them. Since we were not allowed freedom in teaching grammar and mechanics, I was very frustrated. The balanced literacy/TC/America’s Choice has fostered too much abstracts and ignored all the concrete skills. The few things that I did teach needed a lot of time to reinforce, and even things that we repeated multiple times over the year, the students just did not absorb them. But it was their automatic complying of anything requiring copying off the board. They got that. Mind you, they didn’t actually read or take in any of the words they were writing down (and many students copied them and made spelling errors!). But it got me some quiet, industrious students. I was shocked. No wonder I’d had such a hard time; I had been asking them to think and analyze and actually use their brains. Other schools and teachers did nothing of the sort; they just trained the kids to be what I called robot-monkeys.

Occasionally I definitely made use of that Achilles heel in my lesson planning. I knew that I could effectively waste time and see students quietly working if I made them copy things off the board before they had to work on them. However, it quickly became a mission of mine to prevent any more growth of robot-monkeys my classroom. I said, “You HAVE TO THINK! You’ve got brains, so show me!”

In this way, I was relieved to see that I’ve started to unconsciously reject the pedagogy of poverty, and embrace good teacher concepts that hopefully allows students to learn the excitement of knowledge, as well as gives them a safe place to be themselves. I actively use heterogeneous grouping, I work with them to extract big ideas and principles of different works, I try to include discussions of differences and historical mistakes when possible. Time and politics make it very difficult to easily implement all of the strategies that Haberman suggests. However, I do believe that many teachers have begun noticing that things, such as they are, are not working. There’s also currently a big movement about student self-empowerment, which I think is the core of good teaching. We as teachers don’t want to be burned out and bitter about our difficult students. It’s too easy to bring the negative attitude into the classroom. While it’s not realistic to be all Mary Sunshine either, there are plenty of positive ways that students can learn about themselves, and the world around them, and of course how that relates to them.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

It's not the heat, it's the humidity

Yesterday and today the humidity has been so high that you can actually see it. The haze gives everything a slightly foggy, dull look, like the before shot in a Claritin commercial.

In spite of that, I walked to school today. I wore shorts and a tank top, packed only the essentials (notebook, class folder, snacks, water, wallet, walkman, book, cardigan) into my TF tote bag, and set off at a fairly brisk pace.

It was good free time. I didn't even open my book while walking; I just let my mind be. I thought about walking, and exercise, and how I should really do more of both. I thought about how things will be different when I bring my car out here. I thought about how fucking hot and humid it was outside.

Normally--and I suppose when I say that I mean when I'm in Seattle--I don't really sweat much. It doesn't get that hot. I certainly get sticky when it's warm or when I'm working outside. But rarely is there actual dripping sweat.

Here in the Big Apple, though, it's a different story. Sweat was rolling down my temples, and into my nose, and down my chin (I had no idea that the chin could sweat, but mine did today). Near the end of the walk, I looked down and saw that my nice clean tank top had sweat spots on the tummy. That splotchy look that could pass for going through a sprinkler, except isolated in a six square inch area. That look that is usually reserved for men running around playing basketball or something.

"Ladies glow, men perspire, and horses sweat." Ha.


We had a midterm this afternoon, and it was totally fine; I knew all the answers. It was only fifteen questions, and it only took me fifteen minutes. This program has helped me realize that I'm a good test taker, and I have a good enough intelligence and memory to always do well on tests. Some of my colleagues are not good test takers, and I just don't know how to empathize with that. Which is a problem because that's a big issue for teachers: students who just can't take tests. Who forget all the things we reviewed all year. Who ignored the helpful clues and tricks they were taught repeatedly. Who didn't feel the need to use time-saving strategies to be sure they finish the stupid test. Argh.

calling all slightly nerdy New Yorkers...

FontHunt sounds really fun. Anyone up for it? Anyone heard of it/done it before? Sounds neato.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Random Internet Ranting

Yesterday I had to go find some HP forums, just to see how other people were dealing. Many people had reactions similar to mine, which was neat.

However, a bunch of things REALLY got on my nerves.

1. All the crazed predictors/spoilers. I really don't understand why people would want to basically ruin their enjoyment of a book by predicting what's going to happen. And then discussing it with other people. And then celebrating when they're right! All, "Ooh, I totally called this one!" Gah, that's pompous.

2. The crazed shippers. These internet folks are really serious about relationships between characters, whether it be on television or in a book. They will go on and on about them. And I root for some ships too, but it's in my head, where it belongs. Good lord, I don't go prancing around forums saying why it's dumb for so-and-so to get together/not get together.

3. THE FUCKING SMILIES. Somebody, please, put gigantor fines on those suckers, they are so irritating! WHY is it necessary to post a mere two paragraphs that include three or more smilies? WE DON'T CARE! USE YOUR WORDS!

4. Signing your posts? WTF? What is this, a high school yearbook? YOUR NAME IS RIGHT THERE AT THE TOP OF YOUR POST, DUMBASS.

5. Clearly I have been all too spoiled by the late Fametracker Forums. RIP, best forums of all time. They strictly outlawed smilies, signing, and other general irritating forum habits. The TWoP forums are pretty good, too, though most of them are too hardcore for my participation.

6. The weirdo fanfic fans. This one poster was babbling on about how the fanfic was better, and that the book should have had scenes like the ones in certain fanfics. Excuse me? What ARE you on about? Last I checked, there is ONE AUTHOR to a book (sure, sometimes two), and there's no reason at all why he/she should give a fuck about what the fans are writing in their own spare time. Like, as much as we feel like the Hogwarts gang are part of our world, Ms Rowling created them all, she's got plans for them all, so holy shit--just let her do her job! Who are you to say that she should have included more scenes of so-and-so, like the fanfic? God, that's annoying. Again, it's really pompous and just out of touch.

7. Misspellings galore. I know, I'm a grammar nazi, and I shouldn't judge, blah blah. But my lord, I just read a post that said something was "DISTILLATED." Can you tell me what the FUCK kind of word that is supposed to be? Why do internet people think they can just make up words, when we have tens of thousands of them that already work just fine?

Not really related to the HP forums, but this particular spelling/pronunciation thing has been bugging me lately. When I talk to New Yorkers about Seattle, they ALL, without exception, say PIKE'S Place Market. Then I READ something online that said Pike's too! IT IS PIKE PLACE MARKET. PIKE. It's a STREET, it's a FISH, it's a thing in GYMNASTICS, and it is NEITHER PLURAL NOR POSSESSIVE. PIKE. PLACE. Get it right!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Nooooo!!!!!!!!! (Don't worry, I am strictly anti-spoiler)

I returned home at 12.30 yesterday afternoon, bags full of groceries and my shiny new book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. For some reason, I found other things to do instead of read. I even picked up my room! Sheesh, what was wrong with me? Anyway, I finally picked it up a little after four.

The beginning was kind of dull; that wasn't too much surprise though. I noticed upon the re-readings that they all took a few chapters to get off the ground. Sure enough, two hours later I was nearly a third through already. But I went to my friend's and to a movie, then staying up until about 1am. This book has the fun teenage stuff; the irritating teenage stuff from #5 was done with, thank god. That kept me up thinking and not sleeping for a good hour and a half, but I was resolute not to pick the book back up in the middle of the night.

This morning I was up early, but I was a good girl. After a shower, and a start to laundry, I nearly completed one of the two papers that are due on Tuesday. Then I watched some television, drawing out the time when the book would once again become my sole focus.

I finished reading the book at 5.30: a mere twenty-five-hour span of time! And with all the distractions and sleeping and stuff. I was sure I'd be able to draw it out more than that. Although I did read the 800+ page Goblet of Fire in two days....

Anyway, this one is only (!) 600-some pages, but wow, goddamn they sure pack a wallop. The end got me weepy, as they all have...and that's all I'm going to say. But part of me is dying to talk to people about it, figure out what the seventh might hold in store for us, and the utterly sad truth that that seventh book will force us all to say goodbye to that rich and fascinating world that I, at this point, can hardly tell apart from the real one.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

First things first (Begin Politics)

White privilege: It's there, it's real, and we can't do anything until we recognize it.

Here's one site's lengthy definition, but basically it's just the idea that whiteness is an ascribed status: something that you're born with or without, and if you have it, you have all kinds of unconscious privileges in this country that others do not. White people ARE better off than other groups, just as men ARE better off than women. It's all interrelated, and it's built the country that is the United States of America.

Here's the article that, as far as I know, started it all: Peggy McIntosh's Unpacking the Invisible Napsack.

"I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was "meant" to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks."

Read the whole article, then read it again. (I read it twice in college for different classes, and it made more sense the second time around.) If you're still in denial, just read it again; it will eventually sink in. The list of things that the author gives, things she can do due to her whiteness, is the most powerful part. Here are just two:

6. When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization", I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
7. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

Some people do not believe this is true, that white privilege couldn't possibly exist. They believe that people are equal, that racism is a thing of the past, etc. And I can understand that; I myself had a lot of trouble accepting this the first time around, when I read this for the first time, back in my sophomore year of college. But as I began taking women's studies classes and talking/learning/reading about women in other countries or even nonwhite women in America, it became pretty clear that white privilege is as real as, well, anything. What color is a flesh Band-Aid? a "flesh" colored crayon? flesh-colored tights? Whiteness is a standard and norm which, if you don't have it, you will be found wanting. Period.

Teachers are in that profession because they want at least a bit part in the ideology of "making the world a better place." That must include ALL people, and it cannot be done or even attempted unless we have a clear, unbiased understanding of where we're all starting from.

By the way, and I know that no one here would actually be that way, but if you think that feminism is about bashing men and not shaving legs...well, you're just wrong. Feminism and especially women's studies (my undergrad degree) is actually about all those who are under oppression for whatever reason. So it would be more correct to call it "Politics of Race, Gender, Class, and Sexuality." But it's still "women's studies," maybe just out of habit.

This idea (white privilege in the world today) is the backbone of all the other things I have to discuss (multilogicality and pedagogy of poverty, at the least). So that's why it's here all of a sudden. Gotta set the framework, you know.

But I also have posts percolating about the real Traveling Pants, Friday fables, irritating commercials, and random pictures. So fret not; I have not all of a sudden become a "radical politics only" blogger. No no, everything in moderation, my friends.

Friday, July 15, 2005

phew, this week is over

It's been a tiring one.

I've been thinking about things on which to blog. But then, my brain says, "To blog..." and turns it into Billy Crystal's Miracle Max: "To blave..." and then I have to giggle to myself, because I am weird.

It's fun carrying around my Harry Potter books; many people ask me about it. Usually it's either "is that the new one?"--kind of a dumb question, right?--or "which one is that?" Great conversation starter. I'm nearing the end of number 5, and then of course, tomorrow I will be getting myself to some store to pick up the much-anticipated number 6. Whee!

So yeah, I've got lots (well, some) ideas for actual writing/blogging....what, you thought I was actually going to do that now? Haha, you must not know me very well. I am the queen of both procrastination and laziness. Plus, I am tired. So I will take to the bed again to finish my book.

But don't you worry; ideas are percolating in here. Check back soon for some great ideological discussions and stuff.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Currently procrastinating on two papers...

This week has been a bit of a whirlwind. I have had to wake up at eight o'clock in the morning. The horror, the horror!

In the mornings, I have to haul my ass into the city on the train. Although it's convenient, because I've been able to do lots of HP reading. The writing workshop workshop (not a typo; it's a workshop about using the writing workshop) has been pretty useful. We've received two books and lots of handouts and ideas. It's also nice to be in a room full of teachers, because we all have a body of knowledge already, to exchange and analyze. Yesterday we actually wrote mini-lessons. Ours was pretty good; I'll write it up here over the weekend.

Traveling from Manhattan back to Queens makes me late for class in the afternoon, but it's been alright so far. I've been keeping up with my homework well. It's no fun to cram it all in just in the evening, but hey, it's only a week. I can do that.

Our summer classes are halfway over tomorrow. Remember, we just started last week! This four-week thing is crazy, in both a good way and a bad way. I just can't believe how quickly this entire year is going by. It's already the middle of July! Three and a half weeks before I get to go visit home.

Um, I'm sure I could think of more to say. But as I indicated, I have two half-written papers open right now. The Beauty and the Geek special is over now, so I have to turn off the tv and get these things finished. Because then I can read some more! Yay!

See, I've got my priorities straight.

Monday, July 11, 2005

I can see!

Last week I finally got in to the eye doctor and got new prescriptions for both contacts and glasses.
When I went in today to have them adjust the frames, one of the ladies remembered me from last week and asked, "You got contacts here too, right?" I nodded. "Those eyes," she said, "are they yours or ours?" I giggled and said, "Nope, they're mine." "Ah, people pay good money for those!" she replied.

So new frames--sex-ay! Heh. They're very similar to my other ones, but the frames are ever so much thinner, and brown, instead of dark red.

Also notice my pretty pretty eyebrows! I got them tidied up the other week, and I was very happy with the result.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A Study in Procrastination

I got on the train back to my neck of the woods with the full intention of getting some work done right quick. Yes, I told you! I'm trying to be a model student. Last week went well; this week will be busier, but I want it to go well too.

So I got home, unpacked my wlmrt goods, and got right to...

finishing Harry Potter #3.

Right after that, I studiously...

starting playing FreeCell.

After a leisurely half-hour, I bounded up, suddenly motivated to....

get in the shower.

After the shower, I promised myself, I would REALLY get to work. Promise. No more Harry Potter until I got some work done!

What did I do? I...

sat down and started perusing blogs. This one in particular was awesome. Go read it. Ahem. I mean, do your homework!

Soon enough, I got a phone call, which reminded me of today's goal: get most of my two papers done tonight, so that tomorrow night I can just put finishing touches on them and print the suckers.

Right after that, guess what I did?

No, you're wrong!

I actually sat down and nearly finished my first paper! The other one got mostly done on Friday, but I sort of meant to look it over today. It's still open down in the bar thing; we'll see if I do anything with it!

Meanwhile, I better check on that wily kid wizard...who knows what kind of wacky hijinks he might be up to with my back turned?

One of these is not like the other

It has been an interesting week, in terms of my social mindset.

Class began on Tuesday, as I've mentioned. Last summer, there were two classes (about fifty people) going for elementary regular ed. We took classes at the college together and also had advisory sessions together. As we were all overwhelmed and stressed, we got to know each other and bond pretty well as a group. Well, starting in the fall semester, the two groups have been mixed into the college classes. So there are a few of my fellow Fellows that I haven't seen since last summer. Others, not since December, and a few not since May. Though the actual classes have not been very good, I've always loved just seeing them all, venting and bitching and trading stories and ideas. It's a pretty good comeraderie; that's the only good thing about the Fellows program, if you ask me.

So was looking forward to seeing my classmates, whoever they were. All of the folks in this program are friendly and obviously intelligent, just good people. The first afternoon back, we all said hi and talked about our years, but I was a bit surprised to see some of the old cliquishness back. Not out of malice or anything; like I said, these are nice people. It was clear that some of them have been keeping in touch outside of school, so they would naturally gravitate toward each other.

I just didn't expect to feel so much on the fringe of things. A few years ago, this situation would have me pouting, isolating myself, and instantly deciding they must all hate me and find me ridiculous and obnoxious. (Narcissist much?!) So we should all be proud that I did make an effort to join in, to talk to people, and pretend like I did belong. I usually tag along with some group in the time between classes. So far no one has shooed me away, or ignored at me, or laughed at me. Which is good. :) Pretending seems to be going okay.

Also, it has helped me chat with and further get to know some of the folks from the "other group" of last summer. I had lunch on Thursday with four very nice girls who I hadn't talked to much at all. They were friendly and included me, and it was fun. One of the girls lives in the next neighborhood over; she's the one I went to the movie with after class. Look at little me making some new friends!

Speaking of new friends, Nancy invited me to a dinner party on Friday, in (big, scary) Manhattan. I went and had such a great time. The other two girls were also teachers and like-minded, and were very nice to the "new girl."

On Saturday afternoon, my good friend Ms F had a wedding celebration on Long Island. I took the train out (noting all the good-looking young people in beach garb...), and had a pleasant time chatting with a few of my colleagues also in attendance and other people at the party. The food was good and the music was great; it was a fun time.

The rest of the evening and this morning, I hung out with another teacher friend, A, at her house nearby.

So I suppose that this post is here to remind myself that perhaps my new mantra should be, "Social is as social does." I do have a few people to call for plans if I want to make them. Things get complicated with me carless, but that's why we have trains and stuff.

In any case, I'm proud of me, and you should be too!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Last night after class, one of my teacher classmates and I went to see Mad Hot Ballroom in a nearby neighborhood. It was so great! The kids were cute and funny and earnest and weird, and good dancers, and the instructors and teachers worked hard but just wanted the kids to have fun and do their best, and every race is represented, and oh, it was fantastic, we both loved it. Go see it!

If you aren't convinced yet, it's because I'm a horrible writer and descriptor. So go read what Ms Frizzle has to say, as she is way more eloquent than I. And I agree with everything she said about it.

And then, once you read that, figure out when and where you can go see it. It will be worth it, trust us! We're teachers!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Back to the (mini) grind

So school started yesterday, as a graduate student, I mean. Not teaching. Egad, that would be awful! No, just taking two classes at my regional CUNY school.

One class is on research; it's a sort of prep class for the upcoming year's thesis writing (blegh!). The instructor has a good sense of humor and is pretty realistic about the course. She was like, "this information is kind of boring." She uses a green apple example to talk about studies and variables and stuff. There will be a couple short papers and two tests, but she seems to do a lot of review in class. Plus all the "notes" are on powerpoint slides, so it's not tough to keep up with things.

The second class is on diversity. Oh, that's interesting. No, it actually is, but talking about it in a group of people, in a diverse group of strong-minded, talkative people...hoo boy, it's an experience. So far it's been some good discussion. Yesterday we talked about different kinds of diversity: race, gender, class/socio-economic status, ethnicity, language, history, religion, etc. Today we learned a new word, "multilogicality." That means thinking about the ways that all of the forces in our lives (all those "diverse" things from the list) affect how we learn and more importantly, who we are.

"Diversity" has become a huge catchphrase in the last decade or two. But it has fairly specific connotations. Just like "inner city." We know that to be diverse means you have to have lots of different kinds of things in one place, group, or sample. And the inner city is a geographical term. But both of them are now catchwords that sort of surreptitiously mean "nonwhite" and/or "poor."

My school is fairly diverse. What that means is that there are a few dominant groups of represented populations. White is not one of them; I am by far a minority in the classroom and among the faculty. But the "race" categorization doesn't really work; you'd have to group them by nationality/ethnicity. Because obviously that affects their identity and actions.

I have learned some things over the year about some of the "multilogicality" in regards to ethnicity and national origin. If I know that a child comes from a certain country or culture, I can usually know that they will be more focused on their education, because their parents emphasize school, respect, and politeness. These kinds of generalizations have come from seeing/talking to the parents themselves as well as other teachers that are from the neighborhood or have had longer terms teaching these populations.

But I really would not presume to know anything about a student based on what they look like. Cultures cannot be "matched" with appearance. Duh, right? Well, the kids forget or ignore that tenet of diversity acceptance and appreciation. I have to remind them all the time that you can't just judge people. Ay.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Blah blah, independence blah

I surely meant to go out and walk around and enjoy this nice weather...but I didn't. I got caught up with well, sleeping in and watching television. And some reading (of school related stuff! Can you believe it? Me neither!). Plus I worked on my pile of crap that I brought home from school. Here's one thing that I'm excited about:

These are all the books I acquired in my classroom this year, that actually belong to me.

Some are my personal, childhood books, some are from an eBay lot, and a good number are from book orders (God Bless Scholastic!). Look at all of them!

I suppose that when I say that I'm really eager to read the ones I haven't yet, to reread my favorites, but especially that I can't wait to read all the Harry Potter, it goes without saying that I am nerdy and pretty lame?

Hello, it is SUMMER, and I am FREE, and I want to READ.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

God, I am braindead.

Perhaps it is because I went two full days without leaving my house. Yep, apparently I am a hermit in my time off. Actually, if you've been paying attention, you knew that already.

So I took my lazy ass out of the house tonight to see a movie that is now only playing at a smaller theatre nearby. I had never really been on that street, even though it's pretty big and the same distance as the other big road nearby.

The theatre was showing six movies, on the smaller-screened little rooms that you find in crowded cities. I could hear War of the Worlds through the wall. In the lobby was a small concession stand that featured popcorn, soda, and a few candy choices. That's it. No "super combo choices," no nachos, no icees, no hot dogs, just plain old movie food. Before the showtime, the screen was dark and some music was playing. The lights went down and a preview came on. That's right, NO commercials and a single, solitary coming-attraction. My friends, oh, it was magical!

As I walked back toward my street, I completely forgot where I was. I would have sworn to anyone that I was in a small town in New England. Along that strip of this citylane were zero chain stores or restaurants. Instead there were small shops selling trophies, tile, antiques, a realtor, a pizza place, and a couple delis/restaurants. Only a few locals were strolling on the quiet, dark street. It was quaint and cute and great. I had to remind myself that this too is a part of the mystical New York City.


I dreamt about the first day of school again last night. I think it was in a stable. Ha, there's an apt metaphor just ripe for the plucking!


Um. Yeah. Boring!