[clever title]

i have a question...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Overheard at Work, vol. CXXI

What can I tell you?

Days are long. Kids are hilarious.

Colleague A, regarding his crowded program space: I feel like I'm in the womb. With 125 siblings.

Colleague B, to me: All of my friends have seen your Dubsmashes. I have three friends.

Me, to a room of young teens: I'm running to the restroom. Don't kill each other.
13 year old girl: No promises.

13 year old girl, in an exercise where she was creating a life timeline: I'm gonna get divorced at 56.

Colleague C: I love cotton candy. It's like eating a cloud.

Me, to a 7 year old girl missing her two front teeth: You lost some teeth?
Girl: They're coming in September.
Me: You ordered them online?

9 year old boy: I can sniff better than any dog.

Colleague B: I'm bringing [Colleague D] a bagel...she's Jewish.

Me, to an 11 year old boy jumping around the room: You'll crack your face open!
Boy: I need a new face!

7 year old girl, reading "Rule #1": Rule hashtag 1.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Overheard at Work (and in Vermont), vol. CXX

Oh heavens, so it's July.

June zoomed by in a flurry of special events, final presentations, a birthday celebration, and a graduate school reunion weekend that basically consisted of my three very good friends and me drinking for about 50 hours straight. Also some high belting and lots of laughing.

I have just survived my first week of my fifth summer at work, and I've compiled quotes from the last month or so, so we here we go!

Colleague A: It is warm enough. I can use my boomerang.

14 year old, creating the tagline for my impending birthday: 32 sexy for you!

Me, to an 8 year old boy soaked from the sprinklers: Do you have water in your ear?
Boy: I have water everywhere, I think.

Me, to my 23 year old colleague, who swiftly identified "Crossroads" by Bone Thugs n Harmony: Why do you know this song?
Colleague B: Because my dad's a thug.

Me, reflecting on my job: I feel like after this, I could run the fucking Pentagon.

7 year old boy: In three years, on November 1, I'm gonna be 8!

7 year old girl: I don't follow the rules. I don't play games. I just watch Netflix.

12 year old girl: How do you spell Impressionism?

And here are the collected quotes from my weekend of drunkenness, spent with wonderful old friends in Vermont, in celebration of our graduation from graduate school five years ago. They will likely not amuse any but ourselves.

SN: Hashtag, I was never a west.

PM, shrieking at a bug: Nature got a little too close!

SN, as we discussed dipping into the pond: Guys! I'm gonna get an infection!

Me: What's in the middle of the country?
SN: Laura Kraybill.

MW: Vagina: the city that never sleeps!

PM: All these cabinets smell like cheese.

SN: No offense, you're my best friend!

Emerson College, class of 2010 FOREVER!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Overheard at Work, vol. CXIX

It's been another weird month. Not overwhelmingly busy but broken up by a week in Los Angeles with family and overridden with special events and prep for summer which is only two work weeks away!

8 year old boy: I'm done with homework!
Me: Where are you going now?
Boy: Australia.

10 year old boy: We have a lot of energy!
9 year old boy: STEROIDS!

10 year old girl: You went to California? Did you meet cowboy people?

18 year old girl, to her fellow (male) basketball players: Your feet don't have to stink to play ball!

Me, to a 9 year old girl: When are you going to be President?
Girl: When I'm 32.

Me, to colleague: I was definitely about to punch you in the mouth.
Colleague: You would have definitely broken your hand forever.

Teen boy: Guess whose birthday is on Sunday.
Me: Yours.
Boy: The artist, formerly known as Prince.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Overheard at Work, vol. CXVIII

I lost a month of blogging to heavy special event prep--our annual fundraiser was last Saturday! And, though we did raise a record $115,000 that night, it was an insane amount of work and led to a gap in blogging, not to mention sleeping, eating regularly, and relaxing, in general.

Me, to a 14 year old girl: Your friends are in that room.
Girl: I have friends?

Alumna, to me: Your lips look like you took the Kylie Jenner lip challenge.

8 year old girl: I want to be the President! Or a doctor.

14 year old boy, to me: Waddup sexy slim?

Me, to a teen boy: Why are you fancy?
Boy: Because it's Tuesday.
Me: It's Wednesday.

Colleague, to me: You look good. Are you ovulating?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Overheard at Work, vol. CXVII

Made it through a very long March and the weather is even turning. I walked outside today with NO JACKET!

Me, to newest colleague: Do you not know all the staff?!
Colleague A: I still can't find the bathroom!

Colleague B, regarding cats: They are cold-blooded killing machines.
Colleague C: And they're fluffy.

Me, to teenage boy on the phone: Was that your mother?
Teenage boy: It was YOUR mother.

Colleague D: I feel so weird today. Weird head space, negative energy...
Me: Your aura is gray?
Colleague D: My aura is gray...Cloudy with a chance of meatballs.

Group of boys: ...sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G! First comes baby...

Wait, that's not right.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

From the Archives: Personal History

I wrote this for my Theatre and Community class my first semester in grad school: September of 2008. I just reread it for the first time in probably 7 years and was struck by so many things. I work with kids like this every day now.

I wonder where Tyshawn is today. He'll be 17 in July.

***
          I graduated from UC Berkeley in June of 2005 and moved to New York City that same month with the dream to start a theater company. By the end of that summer, not only had I not started a theater company but I didn’t even have a job. I spent four painful, ego-shattering months pounding the pavement and being confounded by the fact that a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best universities in the country didn’t guarantee me gainful employment. Needless to say, New York City was not the city of bright lights and theater dreams come true that I expected it to be.
            After nailing down a job at a non-profit sexual health organization and falling into two production management gigs, I suffered from serious theater burn-out and subsequently took a year off, wondering if I really wanted to pursue a career in the arts.  By the spring of 2007, I had been at my dead-end day job for a bit more than a year, making little money, and dealing with a creative and moral depression that crippled me. On a suggestion, I decided to pursue volunteering and discovered a music project for children, ages 6-14, at a shelter on the Lower East Side. I had never worked with or overseen children and was panicked that I’d feel steamrolled by them.  However, I figured that volunteering twice a month wasn’t a very big time commitment, and I found encouragement in the subject matter, music being another serious passion of mine. It seemed a potentially ideal project, fulfilling a creative hunger I hadn’t been able to satisfy since graduating.
            My first day as a volunteer, I met a nine-year-old boy named Tyshawn. I sat down next to him and asked him his name, feeling slightly self-conscious and not really knowing what to expect. He was enthusiastic and hilarious and we spent the day working together. We went around the circle and told everyone our names and what our favorite kind of music was, pairing it with a gesture and sound that indicated that music style. When the project leader asked if anyone could recite each person’s name and repeat each person’s gesture, Tyshawn didn’t volunteer. However, when we took a break, he did it perfectly on his own.
The leader of the project had been a musical theater student and injected each class with opportunities for the children to be the centers of attention, to tap into their creativity in a very accessible and non-threatening way. This became an essential part of the project every week we gathered, and I continued to enforce it when I became a co-leader of the project in June. We set a high standard for participation in the class, asking our volunteers to work closely with the children to create songs, dances, or poems that they rehearsed and presented to the rest of the group.
            Tyshawn and I spent three weeks working as a duo. I learned that he liked writing. That he had a baby sister and an older brother. That he was turning 10 in July. I learned that I had a natural gift with kids. That they gravitated toward me, seemed to respect me, responded to me in a way that felt really special. I had fun with them; I learned from them; I was moved by them. It was an epiphany.
Summer holidays interrupted our bi-monthly meetings and I hadn’t seen Tyshawn for a couple weeks when I arrived at the shelter one week and discovered that the project had been cancelled that day. As I turned up the street to head back to the subway, Tyshawn was crossing. He saw me and bolted across, throwing his arms around me and yelling my name. I nearly burst into tears, realizing that I really had connected with him over the previous weeks. He dragged me back across the street and insisted I meet his mother, who wasn’t much older than I was and who was preoccupied with a baby in a stroller and having just lost her contact lens. She also didn’t seem to have any idea who I was, but Tyshawn introduced me as his “favorite teacher” anyway. The shelter was a transitional living situation for female victims of domestic abuse. Soon after this meeting on the street, Tyshawn stopped coming to class, and I can only hope that means he and his family found a more permanent living situation somewhere else.
 I co-led this project for almost six months before moving back to California where I prepared to enter grad school. Over the months, we introduced the kids to blues and rock n’roll; we sang Christmas carols with them; we tried to teach them about rhythm and rhyme. Every week, we led an introduction game, made a craft, broke up into groups and had them create pieces to perform at the end of the night. Every week, it was evident how important these gatherings were. I didn’t know anything about what these children’s lives were like outside our meetings, but I could tell their recreation time was important and special for them. They were being creative in ways I knew were different from what they were used to. They were working together in ways I knew were different from what they were used to, and they were being led by caring and patient adults in ways that I knew were different from what they were used to. Even more powerfully, they were working with young men who paid close attention to them, listened to them, and were gentle with them.
 Working with these children was educational to me in ways that I’m not sure I’ll be able to fully articulate until I have some more experience under my belt. They being the first children I ever worked with combined with the vulnerability and potency of their situations made the work such a heady and emotional experience. It planted the seed for my ultimate goal as a theatre teacher and artist: to establish an organization that will allow populations of children a creative outlet that they don’t have in any other capacity. Theatre, with its tenets of collaboration and expression, seems an essential medium for urban children, arguably our most vulnerable community. I want to foster the enthusiasm I saw in Tyshawn with kids just like him, and I hope he is somewhere continuing to express himself as he was able to do with us.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Overheard at Work, vol. CXVI

Happy Spring! (It's snowing.)

Super tough week over. Another big one next week.

It was one of those weeks when I wasn't sure what day it was, I was just kind of putt-putting along...On Tuesday, I couldn't believe it wasn't at LEAST Wednesday.

8-year-old boy: I'm not Mexican. But I do love tacos!

Colleague A, during a Jeopardy round for the kids: Who invented Facebook?
6-year-old boy: The Internet!

13-year-old girl, inspecting my mac and cheese with tuna: Is that tuna? My mom makes it the exact same way. That's that Haitian in you!

14-year-old boy: I remember Tom Sawyer from Everybody Loves Raymond!

(Our nation's future, ladies and gentlemen.)