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Friday, April 30, 2010

Overheard in the Classroom (or Kids These Days), vol. XII

This was a ridiculously long, stressful week. I worked late at the school Monday, had my last days of work with RM Tuesday and Wednesday; Wednesday and Thursday were my final classes at Emerson, and were 16 hours and 12 hours long, respectively. Thursday night, I was stranded downtown for half an hour because all the trains stopped running after an electrical fire in a station, and today, I had my final in-class observation for my licensure and worked with the kids at rehearsal until 6.

I feel jet-lagged.

And really proud of myself.

Here are the highlights of a very...full week.

"You dress old!"--a crew member to me, putting me in my rightful place after rehearsal, after I joked about dressing up like this. I was offended.

Same crew member: "It's weird when adults use Facebook."
Me: "Everyone YOU know is in this room! Why do YOU need a social networking site?"

"If she can do that, she can friend me on Facebook."--one of my faves, after my mentor teacher asked if I could sit in his lap, when I stepped in for his scene partner during a rehearsal. I didn't.

I introduced my special ed kids to an undergrad student who was assisting me for the day: "We go to the same school."
Special ed student: "You're roommates?"
Me: "No. We just go to the same school."
Special ed student: "Since you were little girls?"
Me: "No."
Special ed student: "Oh. I thought I heard that you had known each other for a very long time."
Me: "Where did you get that?"
Special ed student: "I think I get it from my mother's side."

"You're a man, right? So you have a disability about communication."--my mentor teacher telling it like it is to some 15-year-old boys in the intro class. They were offended.

"I'm so bored!"--one of my 8th graders, at 830 in the morning, before we'd done anything.

"That's granny! She ain't no secretary!"--a senior, appalled at our advice that her friend pull her short skirt down.

"Is having a kid really as bad as people say?"--one of the crew members, genuinely curious.

"Alright...I love you..."--an 8th grader, improvising at the end of the scene, during which he was playing a cop taking a phone call from a kid whose friend had been bullied. It was so wrong but so funny.

"Are we getting paid for this?!"--an 8th grader, at the end of the period they spent helping paint the set for the play.

"You know what I wanna see? A body after it's been dead for a year."--one of the kids in the play, which makes me conclude, yet again, that teenagers are so weird.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

But But But...I'm a PC!

Tuesdays are hard.

You all know my beef with Tuesdays.

I go from teaching for four hours straight to work for two. That doesn't sound like much but it's a HUGE shift in my gears.

Going from taking care of fifty teenagers and putting out their countless small fires to taking care of one middle-aged woman and putting out HER countless small fires.

I use the organizational part of my brain in both cases, and they're just as demanding.

Recently, RM purchased an iPhone...

This is the same woman who "loses" word documents when she clicks on different pages on her office computer.

The same woman who writes her agenda down in three different places and still can't keep the details straight.

The same woman who opens an old mailing system every day because she forgets we upgraded her.

The same woman has me call her when I wake up in the morning to remind her of her appointments for the day.

An iPhone is not helping her.

I assert that it's not as counterintuitive as she thinks it is. I show her how to enter text and dates and details and make sure she names and labels everything right. She asks me vague questions I can't answer and spends 5 minutes putting in appointments in the phone's calendar, then has to go back because the time was set wrong.

After not sleeping well and then being on my feet for four hours of teaching, walking her through the steps EVERY TIME she needed to enter an appointment made me want to scream.

And, of course, it's not her fault.

And, of course, she can laugh at herself about how ironic it is that she has an iPhone.

And, of course, she appreciates my help and patience.

I don't begrudge her any of this.

But I think, today, I'm scientific proof that iPhones rot your brain.

And I don't even have one!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Watch this now!

First of all, Bobby McFerrin is 60!!

Does that make anyone else feel really old?

Also, he looks amazing.

I spent a magical night with my best friends on September 11, 2004, when we saw him at the Zellerbach on campus at school. My two friends sang onstage with him with a big group of people, and our minds were blown at how crazy-amazing he is, live or otherwise.

This video blows my mind. Music IS universal!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Celebrities are People Too, and It Usually Makes Me Cry

My mild obsession with celebrity gossip and trivia is well-documented and well-known.

I can rattle off celebrity baby names at a disturbingly rapid pace. I know famous people's birth names. I can identify celebrity voiceovers on commercials and in cartoon movies.

(These are all things I mention I'm good at on my online dating profile, btw. Because obviously they make me a charming, fascinating, and highly irresistible woman...)

But I have a confession.

Celebrities make me cry.

I refuse to watch awards shows in a large group because I take the telecasts very seriously and want to be able to sob in peace.

Sometimes I tearfully watch music videos over and over because I'm struck by a single moment when the singer is suddenly acting.

And I've been watching this new NBC show, "Who Do You Think You Are?" in which "seven of America's best-loved celebrities" travel the world to discover secrets about ancestors they never knew.

I literally weep through every commercial break.

I sobbed through Sarah Jessica Parker's episode...and Lisa Kudrow's.

There's something about these exceedingly famous people sharing their actual family stories and their real-life discoveries with a television audience that I find ridiculously moving.

The show is about coming to terms with family and death and history.

The Parker episode took her back to the Salem Witch Trials, which her ancestor survived by the skin of her teeth. And the Kudrow episode highlighted her father reuniting with a long lost cousin who had delivered news of their family's plight in Holocaust Poland and then disappearing.

It's heavy, real, tragic, life-altering stuff for them.

Of course, reading about the OG Bachelorette Trista Sutter's (nee Rehn) daughter's first birthday also moves me, so...


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rats with Wings

Sitting in Boston Commons is dangerous.

Pigeons sit and fly in large, fat flocks, and when I walk through them, the thought always crosses my mind: Is today the day I'll get socked in the face by an errant winged rat?

Maybe it's because the park is also a heavy people traffic area, but I swear the pigeon problem is worse here than in New York City.

And people intentionally feed them!

From sacks of bread and corn that make the birds so fat they can literally barely fly.

I saw a peculiar sight today, when a totally normal-looking young man sitting near me in the park was suddenly covered with pigeons. He seemed unsurprised, even comfortable and satisfied, and also attracted a fair amount of attention.

I thought the dotty young woman with the small dog was just crazy too, when she stopped and got a feeding lesson from him.

But then the young woman with an adorable son also stopped, and I realized it could potentially be kind of magical to sit in the park and feed the birds, have them tentatively jump on and all around you, peck food gently from your outstretched palm.

Of course, this woman did get flapped in the face and screamed in public, to the amusement of a group passing by. But then she calmed down enough to apparently enjoy her brief commune with nature.

The pigeons are brave. You tiptoe towards them and they don't move, until the very last minute when they flap in your face and barely graze the top of your head.

They seem to only be scared away by stomping, screaming children.

(What is it about young boys that makes them insist on HOLLERING when they run towards birds?)

I think my distaste for these creatures was solidified when I got pooped on by a seagull once.

I had lived almost 25 years never getting pooped on by a bird, and there it was.

Bird poop, streaming down my cheek, no less.

Still warm, either from the natural heat of the bird (do they have that?) or the fact that it was summertime.

It was an Atlantic City boardwalk seagull too, which means it's diet was most likely made up primarily of funnel cake, hotdogs, and popcorn.

I don't think I'd have minded so much if I was in a place where the fowl life ate only organic.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Snapshots from a Bus Ride, or Don't Forget to Pack the Barfbag!

Waiting to board my bus on Friday evening, after another TRIUMPHANT week of teaching, the bus line employee projected his voice loudly and clearly, warned us that we'd be waiting an indefinite amount of time for our bus to arrive because it was Friday evening, urged us to hoot with enthusiasm when it arrived relatively on time, and scolded two college boys trying to cut the line. Twice.

I thought to myself, this guy should be a teacher, and then, heard him mumble, after speaking to the boys, "This is why I don't teach anymore!" HA!

It's like there are tell-tale signs I notice now.

I am, generally, not much of a people-watcher, but, since I get carsick if I do anything but stare straight out the window and distract myself with music, there's nothing much else to do on a bus but people-watch.

I always develop a crush for the trip.

This time it was the guy sitting several rows in front of me, at the table seat, facing backwards, staring at his laptop and studying what looked like business books, intermittently.

(How do people not only read on buses but SIT BACKWARDS AND READ?! It's like a superpower.)

He was dark-haired and wore a hoodie. Someone called him when we arrived and he spoke impatiently to what I imagined was a nagging girlfriend. He did not seem excited to speak to or see her.

I watched part of Shutter Island over the shoulder of someone sitting in front of me.

It was confusing. Even she couldn't get through the whole thing.

Today, the woman sitting across the aisle from me was watching an old Humphrey Bogart movie, and the dude in front of me was watching an old Gabriel Byrne movie. Neither of which I could name.

(A little internet research reveals the films were The Treasure of Sierra Madre and Miller's Crossing.)

Plus, I almost made myself carsick trying to decipher the blog the guy in front of me was reading. Something about an American man living in Japan. Oh, and something else about Carrie Underwood's speech at the CMAs.

As I got on the bus this morning, three obnoxious twenty-something girls entered the vehicle and set up camp in the back. They were speaking to each other at regular volume, which, on a bus full of strangers at 10 in the morning, is ridiculously loud.

Literally, I heard one of them say to another, "Oh, I'm not saying anything important. Don't worry. If I need you to hear something, I'll shout."

Please. Don't.

I knew they'd all pass out as soon as we started moving, but it was an irritating way to begin the trip.

They totally slept the entire way back.

I always stay wide awake for most of the ride and then, an hour from my destination, desperately need a nap and pass out for a good 20 minutes. It's like it takes me 2 1/2 hours to relax and let the rocking motion of the bus lull me to sleep.

I remember when I used to pass out the MINUTE a vehicle was in motion.

That, or I'd vomit the whole way.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Overheard in the Classroom (or Kids These Days), vol. XI

An early post because I travel straight from school tomorrow.

"Stop selling food in class!"--this is my constant reprimand for the "secret," not terribly discreet, economic system of gum- and chip-selling in my intro class. Seventy-five cents for a stick of gum? Ridiculous.

"Why can we always say what we don't mean? Why can't we ever say what we mean?"--another philosophical thought by one of my favorites. I can't tell if he asks me these questions to procrastinate doing his work or because he's actually distracted by them.

"You're s'posed to catch it, you cackhead!"--needs no real explanation, spoken by an 8th grader, obviously.

"She told me she only likes girls. Like how boys like girls."--one of my special ed kids about another. I didn't know how to respond, except to say, "that is not something to make fun of someone about." Sigh. Teaching is hard sometimes.

"Do you have any water? People are dying these days!"--the delivery was killer. An 8th grader, lamenting my mentor teacher no longer offering bottles of water to be sold.

"I'll tell you when to die!"--me to one of my special ed students, as we rehearsed the Echo and Narcissus myth. He's playing Narcissus and he played dead before he should have.

Ten teaching days left...!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Define "Normal" by blog swapper, Greg Epstein

I participated in the 7th Blog Swap at 20-Something Bloggers, and they paired me with Greg Epstein at Check Ya Self! I'm featured on his blog too. Check out the link at the end of the post!

For the record, I'm typing this at 2:51 am. I walked in the door at 2:45. Win.

So my job basically has me run ragged around Hollywood, so I will have to be lame and resort to the provided "blogswap" topic. But since this is me typing, the answer will be nothing short of ridiculous.

"The Best Thing About Being A Blogger." How obligatory. That's like asking 'whats the best part about consensual sex.' I could write you a thesis on that one.

There really is only one good thing about blogging in regard to myself. It is good enough, however, to keep me doing it. I am, admittedly, not normal. The things that process through my mind are both hilarious and somewhat alarming. I'm smart enough to have actual intellectual ideas, yet just crazy enough to never be capable of taking things seriously. There are some thoughts that, should I say them out loud, would get me smacked, scoffed at, or institutionalized. Now if only I had a place where I could say them, and suffer no immediate damage whatsoever...

An example:

So I'm sitting in my car, stuck in LA as usual, when I see a guy in a car next to me sneeze. Sneezing sucks, right? Nobody likes to do it. It's not attractive, doesn't feel good, and always puts Atheists in an uncomfortable response position. When you think about it, all viral bodily reactions are negative. Coughing, sneezing, the good old powerhour puke-and-rally, they all SUCK. Hell, I don't even need to elaborate how much STD's blow. But logically, why does every single reaction need to be so negative? Why couldn't there be ONE 'disease' where the side effect is bomb as hell? Just one viral bug running around that actually makes you a pseudo-superhero. "Aw damn, caught transpareothritis, guess I can see through walls this week."

Can you imagine that? Put it in this context. Think back to the last time you lived in a dorm, and a building-wide epidemic broke out. Remember all the running noses and wheezing? Now imagine instead, everyone could shoot web out of their hands. Best thing ever? No, someone already made the Rick Astley Greatest Hits album. But second best thing ever? You bet.

Yes, that's a typical thought in my mind. And a blog is the only place where it could ever belong.


Read my post on Greg's blog at Check Ya Self Before Ya Wreck Ya Self.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Switchin' It Up

I'm participating in the 7th Blog Swap at 20-Something Bloggers, so check out my next post here tomorrow.

(How bad-ass is that blog name?)

And, the next thing you read here will be Greg's.

Give him lots of love and support!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Word of the Day, vol. XIX

Word of the Day: HAIR

There is much photographic evidence of my mother cutting my hair when I was younger.

One day, when I was probably 10, I decided I wanted to cut my own hair, so my bangs would look like Kelly Taylor’s.

I, of course, kept cutting and cutting until my bangs were um…very, very short. So, then, I, of course, had to go to the salon to have them salvage some sort of hairdo out of the mess I’d created.

I’m such a cliché.

Then, I hit my hair-dyeing phase. I started with auburn in about 6th grade. It was the compromise I reached with my mother because she wouldn’t let me wear makeup to class.

That meant I couldn’t wear the brown matte lipstick, black lipliner trend that was going around in 1994.

Poor me.

My hair color became experimental. I went from auburn, in my final years of middle school, to blonder, during my first year in California. I figured I had to try to fit in SOMEHOW.

Tips became hot pink when I was 16. Oh yeah. I was such a bad-ass. And I’m pretty sure it WAS Manic Panic.

You can see them mostly faded here.

I chopped my hair into a bob. Which seemed to suit me at the time. Although, I have a mad cowlick near my right temple that confounds hairstylists. And I never styled my hair at all, I let it air dry, so the bob often became just a big sweep to one side.

The hairstyle I chose for my junior prom was three spiky ponytails, one on top of the other.

Senior prom, I had curly hair for the first time in my life. Back in a half ponytail. It was pretty exciting.

I also wore a black satin gown with a crisscross back and no bra. I felt like Angelina Jolie.

Then, right before our senior photos, I decided I wanted Meg Ryan’s short spiky ‘do.

Of course, this style takes a lot of work. Which I never did, and so my hair is mildly mulletesque in my senior photo.

I let my hair grow out pretty naturally in college and in the years after. It became the longest it had ever been in years and years, when I got the best haircut of my entire life at a salon in Park Slope. Long layers, sweepy bangs, easy to manage.

One day, the guy who regularly did my hair there suggested I get a glaze, “to cover the grays.”

I politely refused and, in fact, didn’t dye my hair for most of the years I lived in New York after college, even though gray became more prominent than I would have liked.

Now, I’m on a new quest, for the chestnut brown hair I’ve always wanted.

I’ve decided I’m too young to have gray hair but too old to be quite as brassy a redhead as I was for the beginning of this year.

It’s kind of like when I realized I can’t wear dresses without a bra anymore, last summer.

No more feeling like Angelina Jolie.

Come to think of it, Angelina probably can’t do that either anymore. She’s had too many babies…although I bet she doesn’t breastfeed them.

So maybe she can still wear dresses with no bra.

I bet she does dye her hair, though.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Overheard in the Classroom (or Kids These Days), vol. X

"I don't know what's wrong with her. She probably has her period."--an intro student, talking to my mentor teacher about me, after I told him many times to calm down and get his work done.

"Time is going so fast these days."--my special ed student, commenting on his existential crisis.

"What's pucking?"--a special ed student, reading the word "puking" off the board. I had listed it as a possible pantomime to do in a hospital scene.

"That's so fun, I can barely laugh!"--a special ed student, after we chased another student as part of scene work.

"It's too early to run."--one of my 8th graders, as we walked to school together, after getting off the same train. I told him I felt like I should let him run along, so he wouldn't get teased for walking with me.

"I don't have time for hot soup."--this is actually a quote from one of the teachers. I think it totally indicates the state of mind of Boston Public School teachers.

"You don't have to yell at me; I thought we were friends."--one of my favorite intro students, emotionally blackmailing me. I figured it would happen eventually.

"Zeus hit me with a lightning bolt and turned my crab claws to guns."--an incredibly creative 8th grade student, who worked really hard to use the horns from a viking helmet as claws for his costume. Then, his classmate, who has been playing Zeus, came over and cured him, so the horns sat in his pockets, as pistols. Too good.

"Too much pelvis!"--another 8th grader, while we took pictures during some rare freetime. They acted like humans, for once, and they played among the rehearsal cubes, but this guy didn't want to peek his head out because boys were standing above him.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I am Linguistically Significant

So...secretly? I start trends.

Like, linguistic trends.

You know when you have a quirky way of speaking or an abbreviation you use all the time and then the people around you start using it? And then those people take that way of speaking to the people in their lives and then suddenly you see someone on the internet speaking the way you've been speaking for years and then it's a national trend?

Here, let me give you some examples.

Thanks to my friend Jennifer (with a little help from Austin Powers), I (and probably you) now use the word "honestly" as an all-purpose word to indicate mild irritation mixed with disbelief.

Let's use it in a sentence.

"Honestly! Who throws a shoe?" or "Honestly! Why is that girl wearing stilettos and a tube dress in 5 inches of snow?"

Also, I am unsure how this trend actually started (whether I brought it with me or got it from someone here--like some kind of infection) but there is a large contingent of people in the Northeast who now use the terms "P.S" and "slash" to preface non sequiturs.

Such as, when two people are having a casual conversation about their homework, and one person suddenly says, "P.S. I totally have to take a dump." Or, "Slash, I totally had a sex dream about this kid in the play I'm working on."

You get the idea, I hope.

And, finally.

This was originally a combination of several factors: an Italian man my friend became one evening while drunk plus the task of nicknaming some other friends.

Anyway, we eventually started pronouncing the word "face" as if it was an Italian word: "FAH-chay."

We called each other "poop fah-chay," instead of "poopface" for no real reason. And, hilariously, the movie Office Space became "Oh-FEE-chay SPAH-chay."


But check it out!

This is Seth Rudetsky, a New York City-based musician, musical theatre columnist, blogger, and radio personality.

(I apologize in advance for his face and voice, but watch the video anyway. I'm actually a really big fan. His website is kind of amazing.)

I am so famous.

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's Like Preparing for Battle

I have Sunday Dread these days.

You know, Sunday Dread. When you go to sleep on Sunday nights totally dreading that tomorrow is Monday.

I haven't had it in years, but it's returned to me in full force as a student teacher.

I had such a rejuvenating weekend and felt so bolstered for the week but still woke up wondering how I'd make it through another Monday, especially since today was my first day teaching all three classes on my own. (Aside from the time I took over when my mentor teacher was sick.)

My train ride is only about 20 minutes, and I listened to pretty music the whole way, trying to ease my stress and assuring myself that it's only three 50-minute periods. Totally doable.

When I exited the train, it was like a switch went off.

Suddenly, I was ready for anything and knew I'd get through the day. I DARED those kids to mess with me.

Seventeen teaching days left.

The countdown has officially begun.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hello, Spring!

The weather has finally, FINALLY turned. It's been a gorgeous, worry-free three-day weekend! Which is probably why I haven't posted.

Also, I have no news.

Spent a lovely day with my cousin on Friday, feasting on McDonalds, playing games in the sun on her porch, and watching marathons of What Not to Wear on TLC.

Yesterday, I stayed in bed late, trekked over to the local park and got some work done in the sunshine. Then, I went out for dinner and drinks with a friend near downtown. Came home and fell asleep watching Bowling for Columbine on hulu.

Spent part of THIS gorgeous day walking through the neighborhood with a couple friends. Strolled home and cleaned out my closets. Then, super yummy summery dinner with my cousin. It felt like the 4th of July!

It's been like a little mini-vacation which is amazing and has refreshed me in preparation for the couple long weeks ahead before my next break.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Overheard in the Classroom (or Kids These Days), vol. IX

"We made cigarettes!"--a special ed student proclaimed to me proudly, then she proceeded to stick the wrong end in her mouth and pretend to smoke it.

This was an unfortunate exchange with one of my special ed kids.
Note to self: these kids do not understand sarcasm!
Kid: I'm so glad Friday's a day off!
Kid: No more teachers!
Kid: They're so annoying.
Then we proceeded to have a stand-off. I was mostly joking. I don't think he got it.

Hand this lady a teaching license, STAT!

And, as I walked to school this morning, it struck me. Not only was today the day before a three-day weekend but it's also APRIL FOOLS DAY!

My mentor teacher convinced me I wouldn't see my unruly 8th grade class only to shout "April Fool's" at me and break my heart. Then, we acted like we'd lost our intro class's final project videos so they'd have to recreate them in half an hour during class.

Later in the day, BOTH of my favorite kids played separate, horrible jokes on me.

One in which I noted the rubber bands around a student's wrist and informed her that some girls wear them to self-mutilate with. She told me that's why she wore them too. And I was like, well, I HAVE to report that! Then, she called "April Fool's!"

Then, a student informed me that he had found out he had ANOTHER older brother (ANOTHER brother his father told him nothing about) and that he was handling it OK. He wanted me to guess what his name was, and then informed me it was "April Fool's."

Stupid kids.