i have a question...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Overheard at Work, vol. LXXII

Tomorrow is our annual fundraising event, which we hold on-site, featuring all our programs, a cocktail hour, video program honoring two students, live ask, auction, and dancing.

The week of the event is always difficult, since we're all scrambling and working extra hours at the same time that we're still serving all the kids in the building all week. The day before the event, though, is a straight work day, no kids.

Today was a 13-hour day, in which I cleaned chalkboards, staged an art room, hung a gallery of artwork, set chairs, cleaned, and set up a store of stuff designed by our kids.

It's like tech week in a day.

But it's all worth it FOR THE KIDS!

Me, to 14-year-old boy: You're sweaty!
Boy: No, I'm not. I'm human.

Colleague, announcing the start of structured programming: PICK IT AND STICK IT! LIKE YOUR BOOGERS!

12-year-old girl, while playing Life: Can I buy a baby?

10-year-old girl: It's hot, and I'm sweating in...places.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Everyone is celebrating tonight.

Elated that the 19-year-old 2nd suspect in the Boston Marathon Bombings has been captured and that he’s alive.

But I don’t know. I just feel heavy-hearted.

Having a day off of work on Monday felt like a great, little gift, as we’re ramping up for our annual fundraiser and I have a 6-day-work week next week. So I slept late and got up to clean and do laundry and was getting ready to leave my house to go shopping downtown when I saw a tweet about Boston.

There were barely any details posted at that point, though I did quickly discover that explosions had occurred at the finish line of the Boston marathon.

Messages, texts, and tweets poured in the rest of the day, and I came to learn that everyone I knew was somehow safe, some by the skin of their teeth, some because they had straight dumb luck.

Everyone seemed to have stories of very close calls.

I spent most of Monday afternoon sitting in front of the news, clutching my phone, shocked that this has had happened here. Violated and stunned that the square I walk through twice a day on my route to and from work had become a “killing zone.”

This was way too close to home.

This was home.

I was disheartened to see that by the end of the day, Twitter had seemed to forget about Boston. And I was even more upset at myself for thinking, “Oh, I’ve already seen this footage,” after viewing the same harrowing scenes over and over on the news.

This was the definition of desensitization.

I was surprised that work was open the very next day and braced myself to field tons of questions from all the little inquisitive minds I encounter at work, but we were all strangely reticent about Monday.

Like we didn’t want to think about it. And if the kids didn’t ask any questions (and even if they did), we weren’t going to press it. 

By Thursday morning, and the news of an (unrelated) death in my circle, I was overwhelmed and angry. Uncertain that I’d make it through another day of pasting on a smile and pushing through whatever confusion and anger I was feeling.

It turns out we were all operating under a tenuous sense of hope because we woke up this morning to a totally different city.

After checking my phone as soon as I woke up (before 7:30 all this week because of April vacation hours at work), I jumped out of bed to watch the news with my roommate.

Men in bomb suits were detonating bombs near the Park and a suspect was on the loose.

Boston was on lockdown, residents were urged to stay barricaded in their houses.

The story unfolded slowly over the course of a very strange day.

15 hours later, after a stand-off in Watertown and the suspect taken into custody after being on the run for 28 hours, I have peeled myself away from the TV to reflect in silence.

It feels like the world will never be the same.

9/11 happened in my hometown when I had already lived across the country for 4 years, and watching NYC pick up the pieces from so far away was difficult and impressive.

Boston is my adopted home, and its resilience and spirit and feeling of community have been astounding.

I feel proud of all of the acts of kindness and bravery that were performed all week.

But I also feel like I have truly lost my innocence. Explaining the situation this morning to my mother, using terms like “IED strapped to his chest,” “homemade bombs thrown out of the car,” “dead suspect run over by his brother,” I said as much to her.

I couldn’t believe I was saying such phrases with moderate emotion.

And besides that, when everyone sees a terrorist, I can’t help but see a boy.

A boy who had such a good reputation with his friends and coworkers and colleagues that all we heard all day was how shocked everyone is that he was the man on the run. A boy who ended up bleeding and hiding in a boat in a Watertown backyard.

I know only he has the answers to some of our terrorized city’s questions, and I know that him being taken alive means we might get them.

But I can’t celebrate tonight.

I’m too tired.

And the world feels way too big and bad right now.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Overheard at Work, vol. LXXI

I just got home, after a day that started with a 1 PM Yoga class, a 2-10 shift at work, and a couple drinks with coworkers.

Tonight, we held a Staff/Teen event to introduce some of the newest teens (our largest group and the fastest-growing) to the club. It started with an Amazing Race-type game and ended with activities including a big dance in the Dance Studio (pizza and snacks abounded).

It was SUPER FUN and allowed another moment for me to go...THIS is my job?

And, besides that, I am superstoked for a three-day weekend!

9-year-old boy, while listening to headphones that were playing nothing: I hear wire.

Same 9-year-old boy, referring to a teen's desire to go to a social engagement: He wants to go to a party and eat soup!

One of my 8-year-old buddies pointed out that he was wearing new shoes this week: black Chuck Taylors I was very excited because I have a similar pair of shoes, so we decided we'd wear our shoes together the following day. It was very exciting. The next day, however, he wore the Chuck Taylors again, while I wore All Stars from Converse that didn't look the same.
Me, to him: These are Converse too. Yours are just Chuck Taylors.
Him: What are those? Chicken nuggets?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Overheard at Work, vol. LXX

I just got home from the annual music showcase, which featured nearly 100 musicians from after-school programs around the city, including 15 of our kids.  We had eight kids, including a percussionist, two background singers, and a keyboardist, play "Forget You" by Cee-Lo. Then two rappers took the stage for the transition, and we ended with a 5-piece band playing "Sweet Child o'Mine" by Guns N Roses.


I can't even put to words how amazing it was.

I am so proud.

12-year-old, while playing a game of Apples to Apples: I don't like Snow White. Snow White is like the wackest princess ever.

Me, to an 11-year-old girl who seemed to be in a funk: What's wrong?
Her: I'm just depressed all of a sudden.
Me: Is it the program? Is it art? Is it school? Is it Mom?
Her: No. it's probably that stupid puberty thing.

Lateral lisp kid, raising his hand: Raise your hand if you've ever been Rick-Rolled!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Texts with My Bro: Another Week Begins...

C: Mondays are like Friday nights, except the opposite.

Me: I hate Mondays. I am Grumpelstiltskin.

C: Grumpunzel, Grumpunzel, let down your hair.

Me: Grumpilocks and the 3 Bears.

C: Grumpty Dumpty.

Me: Cinderella and her Fairy Grumpmother.

C: Grump Master Flash.

Me: Grump Shaker.

C: Correct. The Grump Cayman Islands, also the Grump Canyon.

Me: Oscar the Grouch! I WIN!

C: And Reebok Grumps.
Grump up the volume.

***9 hours later***
C: She had grumps like a truck truck truck.

Me: Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

C: Right?

Me: You win.

C: Forrest Grump.

Me: Donald Grump and the Grump Tower.

C: Grump card.
Sitting like a grump on a log.
Grump up the jams.


***The next day***
C: Tuesdays are OK.

Me: I hate Tuesdays.