i have a question...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best of 2014

MOVIES
Drinking Buddies
Frozen
Short Term 12
Don Jon
First Position
The Normal Heart
Maleficent
Enough Said
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me
Obvious Child
Wish I Was Here
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Fault in Our Stars
Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
Gone Girl
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

BOOKS
blink by Malcolm Gladwell
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
Althea and Oliver by Cristina Moracho
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

MUSIC
Love in the Future by John Legend, especially “All of Me”
“Do What U Want” by Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly
 “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry
Nirvana and In the Lonely Hour by Sam Smith
 “Not a Bad Thing” by Justin Timberlake
1000 Forms of Fear by Sia
“Rip Tide” by Vance Joy
“Something I Need” by One Republic
“Rather Be” by Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne
 “Girls Chase Boys” by Ingrid Michaelson
Make a Move by Gavin Degraw
1989 by Taylor Swift
Beyonce Platinum Edition

THEATER
Witness Uganda at American Repertory Theater
Finding Neverland at American Repertory Theater
Matlida at the Shubert Theatre

Here's to a happy and prosperous new year!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. CXI

What can I say?

Two weeks from today, and I'll be heading into 12 days off.

TWELVE.

Needless to say, the holiday crunch is upon us and the countdown is on.

Colleague A: I am the queen of the back comb. I should be from New Jersey.

Me: What if I bit you?
7 year old boy: Then I would go and get a shark to bite your whole body.

7 year old boy: You've got comfortable hair. I could sleep on it.

Teen, to Colleague B, calling through a window, to where she was sitting alone: You in a meeting? You in a meeting with God or something?

15 year old girl: Where's my sister? Where are you keeping her?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

#4

As of yesterday, I have four tattoos.

They are reminders, images, symbols of moments in time. Of eras. Of questions I am still seeking answers to. Of commands to myself to keep moving and learning.

Body modifications that make me feel sexy and rebellious and deep and self-aware.

They are stories yet to tell and stories told.

I have learned that getting a tattoo feels like getting a tattoo. It’s a hot scratchy pain that makes your skin flaky and scabby and crusty and itchy.

There is a ritual to the after care, keeping it clean and covered and moisturized. It makes me keenly aware of my skin, about these parts of my body that I have embellished.

I rescheduled getting my first tattoo because I was going on a trip to Chicago and didn’t want my foot to be wounded, walking in a new place.

I made the decision to get my second tattoo while drunk with a friend. We have matching ones now. And I don’t regret it.

The tattoo on my back made my skin itchy for so long that I thought I had nerve damage. It’s the one I get the most compliments about.

This new one is puffy and sensitive and scabby already, the delicate skin on my inner arm angry and hot.

I wasn’t sure I wanted it.

I didn’t know where to put it.

I’d only had the image in my mind for a few weeks, even though I had an appointment months ago.

Yesterday, after having my artist resize the image twice, and as the needle was poised, it crossed my mind:

“I can still say no.”

I said yes instead.

And then got home and promptly freaked out.

I couldn’t pinpoint why.

Tattoos are permanent. My arm will never look the same. That arrow will stare at me for the rest of my life.

Reminding me of my uncertainty. Of, what felt like, my 31 year old impulse.

It made me feel really uncomfortable.

It’s simple and gorgeous. But it’s forever.

And it commemorates this super tough year and how, despite sometimes feeling like I’m getting pulled back, I always need to be aiming forward.

I made the decision, in an instant and despite all my reservations, to get it anyway.

And there’s something that I like about that.

Because, really, what’s permanent?

There is only this moment and this decision and this body and this memory.

And they are mine.

Now.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. CX

Welp.

It's almost Thanksgiving already.

So there's that.

Anybody know where 2014 went?

Nope?

OK then, me neither.

13-year-old boy: Uh oh! Annie's in the building. It's about to go down.

16-year-old boy: They're laughing cuz I got my eating face on.

10-year-old girl: I'm hairable.
13-year-old boy: Unbeweavable.

Colleague A: I'm so confused all the time!

7-year-old boy, squeezing my upper arms: You got the pow pow. The squishy squishy.

7-year-old boy: I got 25 girlfriends.
Me: Name them all.
Boy: I can't remember all their names.

14-year-old boy: Can I see that rubber cement?
Me: Why?
Boy: I heard it smells good.
Me: Then no.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. CIX

This was a pretty busy week, full of meetings and workshops and interviews and special guests and visits.

And now it's suddenly Friday, and I'm kind of disoriented by it.

I literally sat at a desk today and asked one of my kids, "Wait. It IS Friday, right?" It was super confusing.

Me, entering the art room: Hello, all my friends!
Teen girl: You're not my friend...you're my sister.

Colleague A, during a staff meeting, as we discussed Halloween plans: We got a pumpkin connect?

Colleague B, trying to name Taylor Swift's new song, "Out of the Woods": What's it called? "Elbows Out"?

Me: You look like a 12 year old with your hood on.
Colleague B: I know. All you see is cheeks.

Me: You have leaves in your hair.
9 year old boy: It's chips.

Me: Rebel Wilson is her real name. And her siblings are like Liberty and Rocket or something.
13 year old girl: I'm gonna name my son...CARL!

Me: Why are you guys in here?
9 year old boy: We're MEN!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. CVIII

Well.

All I can say is that I can't believe it is almost November.

13 year old girl, on getting her period: I was so excited but now I am ready for menopause.

16 year old boy, while I was discussing a young woman playing Tinkerbell in her school play: Can I be Peter Pan cuz I'm fly.

Me, while drawing a heart on my colleague's arm: Can you tell what I'm drawing?
Colleague: I hope it's not a dick.

13 year old girl, singing: Do what you want, what you want with my body...do what you want, what you want with my nostrils!

Me, to 7 year old boy: Can we be friends?
Boy: That depends.
Me: On what?
Boy: On a doughnut. And a pet dog.
Me: If I give you a doughnut and a pet dog, we'll be friends?
Boy: Very good friends!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Two Scenes

He wore brightly patterned socks and kept getting up for more food, explaining to me how eating after fasting all day is like salvation. How he reaches a haze during his fast and how he got lost driving earlier in the day but didn’t mind because he didn’t have anywhere important to be.

He asked what it felt like to break a fast after not fasting all day. I told him it was just dinner to me.

We had met earlier by the food but he had seemed kind of cold and grumpy.

Turns out he was just hungry.

Someone commented that we were talking so animatedly but from across the room, so eventually he moved to the chair next to me.

We talked about how Beyonce and Jay Z must easily keep the romance alive because they probably only spent 60 nights a year in the same place. He somehow convinced me to download the Kim Kardashian game.

I told him he had ruined my life.

Somehow we got into my life goals and work frustrations, big questions of what’s next and where I should live and what I should be doing. He told me to send him a postcard from wherever I ended up.

He was a journalist in New York who lived with his girlfriend, and only one of those things was a legitimate turn on.

I realized he reminded me of my childhood friend Alex whom I had had a debilitating crush on.

I genuinely laughed out loud for most the evening and didn’t think about it until later that it had been so long since I had instantly connected so well with a stranger that I had assumed I couldn’t do it anymore.

***
It’s raining as I transfer trains, and my boots and socks are soggy, but I am almost home so it doesn’t matter.

A crowd of young men approach me and one of them crouches down as if to take advantage of my umbrella.

I stop to commiserate good-naturedly, “It is pretty nasty out. I would give it to you if I didn’t have somewhere to go…”

One of them shouts after me, “You would GIVE IT TO ME, huh? You want a piece of ass?”

I stop, shocked, and turn around, “Oh, THAT’S NICE!”

He hollers back, “COME ON, BABY!” And his friends shuffle him away.

I keep walking, disappointed and shaken.

I tend to not mind getting cat-called on the street. I’m always surprised and amused, and I also always hope that whoever has called out in admiration will just keep moving and not bother me further.

It’s at once exhilarating and anxiety-inducing.

Which is what it sometimes feels like to be a woman to me.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. CVII

THIS WEEK SUCKED!!!!!!!!

I AM SO GLAD IT'S FINALLY OVER!

Colleague A, expressing his game plan for a random night out with a few of us: I'm not gonna go crazy if we get crazy.

Me, entering the tech lab: What's going on in here?!
7-year-old boy: PARTY!

13-year-old girl: You can get that swag money from being a doctor.

Teen boy: I'm 17, about to be 18. I'm gonna go to the strip club for the first time!

Me, to colleague B: I just want you to find a wonderful man.
Colleague B: Oh, Annie. Can I just get my Bachelor's degree?

13-year-old girl: I think trail mix is just a scavenger hunt for M&Ms.

And then, "Ooh, dark chocolate! Dark chocolate for a dark chocolate woman!"

Saturday, September 13, 2014

To My Cousin's Daughter, on the Eve of her 4th Birthday

Dear E.W.E.,

Wow! How quickly the year you were 3 went!

And tomorrow, you’ll be 4! A year closer to kindergarten, to driving, to taking over the world.

I love the girl you’re becoming: the kind of girl who wears TWO Halloween costumes, the kind of girl whose favorite movies are Muppets from Space and My Neighbor Totoro, the kind of girl who goes all in when it comes to licking the brownie batter bowl, the kind of girl who will take every chance she can get to swim, throw a ball, run, jump, and dance.

The kind of girl who sees me from down the street and barrels into my arms, screaming “PRETZEL!”

You are one cool chick: full of fire and wit and steel and drive.

This has been a particularly tough year for our family: losing our matriarch (your great-grandmother) in September last year and then our beloved David (your Kahuna) in May.

Suddenly, our invincibility was questioned; we felt a little more fragile, a little less protected.

But our strength as a family has never wavered.

You have so many people around you who love, cherish, and support you and each other.

How lucky we are.

Happy birthday!

I love you.

Love,

Pretzel

Friday, September 5, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. CVI

We just got through two of the most difficult weeks I've ever experienced at this job, after the tragic death of one of our co-workers,a young woman who had grown up at work and had devoted her life to service to her community.

We spent last week reeling, trying to pick up pieces, and wandering around waiting for something to happen.

This week, we have opened to kids and I can't say it's not jarring to have them back in the building after such an intense time as a staff.

Still, through it all, I work with some hilarious people, and we found time to laugh and be silly.

Coworker A, after lifting me clear off the ground: I'm strong when I want to be. I just can't do CPR!

Coworker B: Food fixes everything. Well, except fatness.

Coworker B: I like to live a cute life.

Coworker C, after refusing to put her sweater on, despite being cold: My sweater smells like grief.

Me: You look pretty today!
14-year-old girl: It's the second day of school. I'm still pretending I'm functioning.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. CV

Well, that was a doozy of a week back from vacation!

Tuesday, I caught up on emails, helped at the front desk, ran my club, and felt relatively back in the swing of things.

Wednesday, I had a meeting about hiring a work-study in our film program, led a field trip of forty kids under 10 to a rollerskating rink and took five teens to see Finding Neverland, the new musical at A.R.T.

Thursday, I covered the morning teen program, ran two clubs, and prepped for today.

Today, I helped run a trivia rotation during our End of Summer Extravaganza, covered the front desk, helped film the Music Showcase, and prepped our Awards Ceremony for the end of the day. I sat down for maybe 30 minutes all day.

Now, of course, I have a little cold and I'm going to bed early.

But Summer 2014 is over.

7-year-old boy, sobbing about not being able to buy a drink at the rollerskating rink: There's no hope for me!

Same boy, whining because he was bored: I'm not having any fun!
Me: Well, you should have brought money to play the arcade games.
Boy: I'm poor!

10-year-old boy, on the bus from the rollerskating field trip: He's bothering me! He said I need to get butt surgery!

Me, to a 14-year-old boy, whose nicknamed Junito: What's Junito mean?
Boy: I don't know!
Teen girl, after I looked it up, laughing: It means "a very short man with a very large penis!"
Boy: ...I'm short.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Overheard on Vacation

Well, that week sure went quickly! Back to the grind tomorrow, but memories of naps with the 3-year-old, battles of wits with the 8-year-old, and nights of wine and games linger as I heat up soup and look forward to showering and going to sleep in my own bed.

8-year-old, tattling on 3-year-old, who had grabbed my copy of Game of Thrones: He's trying to read George Martin!!

3YO: Knock knock!
Me: Who's there?
3YO: Penis butthole.
Me: Penis butthole who?
3YO: Penis butthole.

3YO: I am going to eat YOU for dinner!
Me: What will I taste like?
3YO: Watermelon.
Me: What will YOU taste like?
3YO: Applesauce.

3YO, entering the bathroom, as I finished: Can I see your pee?

3YO: Do you like beer?
Me: Sure!
3YO: No, you don't because there's spiders in it and spiders are yucky to eat.

Me, reading a timeline 8YO made about him and his brother: He just came out of his mommy's tummy.
8YO: I didn't want to say asshole.
Me: Babies don't come out of their mommies' assholes!
8YO: Yes, they do!

Me, to 3YO: Do you want to come to Boston with me?
3YO: Yes!
Me: What will we do there?
3YO: Run and turn and jump and jog.

D: I am going to show you something so you stop talking.
8YO: Never.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Overheard at Work, Vol. CIV

Over the course of the year, I'd say I run maybe one field trip a season, totaling up to four a year, give or take something really special. Usually, these are huge trips, and I'm mostly coordinating permission slips, staff to help chaperone, and schedules for the bus to and from the club.

This summer, I've been running a special program Wednesday evenings and taken a group of teens around the city to various arts and culture events. And it has been wonderful and super intense.

This week, I led fifteen teens to the Institute of Contemporary Art. An hour on three modes of transportation at rush hour was enough for me to be ready to call it a night. But seeing my kids so excited to engage in the artwork there was worth the trip.

Tonight, I led four teens to Shakespeare in the Commons. We packed food and laid out sheets and killed time playing Hangman and Two Truths and a Lie and 20 Questions, and it was beautiful and magical.

It's been an intense summer--very busy, early days, lots of new kids and exciting things to do and see.

I have one more day of work and then I'm on vacation for a week, and I cannot wait.

But when I get to sit back and think about moments like tonight, when the sun was peeking behind a cloud and the weather was just perfect and I was sitting with a group of young women, giggling at our silly answers to even sillier games, sharing Kit Kats and Reese's Pieces, I felt pretty lucky to do what I do.

Me, during a game of 20 Questions, to a 7 year old: Do you have a yes or no question?
7 year old boy: Yes!
Me: What's your question?
Boy: Does she wear famous clothes?
Me: Yes.
Boy: Yes! Famous people always wear famous clothes. I knew it!

Colleague A: Humans need to come with users manuals.

#1 9 year old boy: 3rd is the one with the hairy chest. That means I'm a MAN.

#2 9 year old boy: Do you know what leukemia is?
Me: Yes.
Boy: What is it?
Me: It's a blood disease.
Boy: No, it's butt cancer. My dad says it's butt cancer.

13 year old girl: Macadamia nuts are sexy.

Colleague B: I'm old.
7 year old boy: You're not old! You're just handsome!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. CIII

We're zipping through this summer and, man, it's been a grind.

We are finishing up Week 4 tomorrow, which is the halfway mark. I go to sleep before 10:30 these days and wake up around 6:30, am usually on my way to work before 7:30 and home around 6. It's been very nice to have the evenings, but I'm not digging this Daywalker schedule as much as I usually do.

The club feels very full and busy and difficult. The kids are just...everywhere. Still hilarious as ever, though.

Me, to a 13-year-old boy who was trying to crash my Girls' Group: Are you a girl?
Boy: Not yet!

Me, to a 7-year-old boy, rooting around in his mouth for something stuck on his tongue: Whatchoo got there?
Boy: It's not a bug!

Me: What's your name?
Boy: Deandre. And I have special talents.
Me: Like what?
Boy: Twerking.

Colleague A, to teen boy A, during our discussion about identity: So you have selective memory.
Teen Boy B: Like Bruce Jenner.
Teen: Who's Bruce Jenner.
Teen Boy B: Michael Jackson's sister.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I Never Really Gave It Much Thought

I have a spent a fair amount of my life pretty much ignoring my body.

I danced for six years as a kid, mostly ballet, which required just the right amount of concentration and body awareness for me to sort of understand when I was doing things right or doing them wrong, when my form looked pretty and felt good.

I would return home each night and dance through the parlor floor of our brownstone, turning chaine turns from my living room to my kitchen, proudly showing off for my parents.

But that was before puberty. I was knobby-kneed, boyish, short and skinny.

And then I turned thirteen and got boobs (bigger than my friends), rolls where there hadn't been rolls, and thighs that suddenly rubbed together.

Clearly, I wasn't ever going to be a ballerina. And looking lumpy in my leotard at my final recital made me body-self-conscious for the first time.

I danced until graduating from 8th grade and then, 14 and awkward, moved to California, where I promptly stopped.

I hid in boys' polo shirts and baggy jeans.

I refused even to join my parents to walk our dog. Rebelling in a way that didn't get me directly into any trouble.

It wasn't so much that I was ashamed of my body.

I didn't think about it at all.

It was my brain that held all my self-esteem.

My brain was what was going to help me survive my high school years. My brain was what was going to push me to first in my class. My brain was my ticket out.

Sure, there were moments I felt pretty.

Like when I was dancing in my high school plays. Or at my senior prom, which I went to alone. My hair actually held a curl, I rocked a black satin dress with no bra and wore bright red lipstick.

I felt like Angelina Jolie.

I remember, during my sophomore year in college, my friend Clare insisted I buy a scarf that brought out my coloring. I wore it with a brand new denim jacket and suddenly felt pretty again. Confident even.

I spent the next three years of college playing dress up. And in therapy.

Not connecting, exactly, with my body, but at least realizing that sometimes the work is done both outside in AND inside out.

In therapy, I slowly learned to check in with myself. When my stomach hurt. Or I started to panic. Or was eating because I was sad or bored. I began to combine eating different things with wearing different things. I had good days and bad days.

I even made peace with the fact that sometimes men find me attractive.

I let them.

I try to believe them.

And sometimes I really do believe them.

I discovered yoga. I don't remember when. I think it was when I lived in NYC after college. But I loved it. It made me feel noodly and flexible and aware. It made me feel sweaty and tired and strong.

I started doing yoga regularly. I stopped.

I hated and loved shopping.

I had good days and bad days.

I was unhappy in New York City and visited California and felt sexy and amazing and happy all week and decided to move back there. At least for a little while.

I moved to Boston. I worked my ass off. I lost a bunch of weight due to severe anxiety. It didn't make me feel any prettier.

It was just my body. I didn't pay much attention to it.

Gradually, my thinking changed. It hasn't been a sudden revelation. More like a gradual acceptance.

When I look in the mirror, I almost always say to myself, "Well, this is what I look like! And this isn't so bad."

When I take a walk and sweat, I think, "This isn't so bad. I'm stronger than I think!"

When I do yoga, I think, "This feels good. I need to remember this."

And just now, as I took a walk after doing some Pilates and feeding myself a healthy lunch, determined to sweat and get some sunshine on my shoulders, I stopped at a stop light, put my hands on my tight stomach and was pleasantly surprised.

I thought, "My body is amazing."

Friday, July 4, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. CII

The last few weeks have been a pretty insane whirlwind of end-of-school year events, my 31derful (tip of the hat to S for coining that phrase years ago) birthday weekend, staff training week, and the first week of our summer program, which also happened to align with Beyonce and Jay Z coming to Boston and me staying out until 1:30 AM on a work night.

Needless to say, I'm very grateful for this three-day weekend, and my Circadian rhythm is very confused with these new hours.

7-year-old boy: What's your favorite animal?
Me: Probably a dog.
Boy: Velociraptor.

8-year-old boy: I told you my farts would smell worse!

8-year-old boy, to me: You're a wild strawberry!

Me, regarding a painting: Is this a jellyfish with a hat?
10-year-old girl: Yes.
Me: Why?
Girl: Because it's like you, funny!

8-year-old girl: Do we have any more furry balls?
Colleague A: FURRY BALLS?!...No. We don't have any more pom poms.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. CI

One more week before we head into summer training and programming. I seriously can't believe it.

AND I'll be 31 in 9 days. Also shocking. Where has 2014 gone?

8-year-old boy: I had the worst nightmare I could ever imagine. The most terrifying dream ever...my aunt was coming to visit.

16-year-old boy: I am a thug. Who needs a hug.

Me, to Colleague A, serving leftover dinner: Do you like beets?
Colleague A: Like, the headphones?

Me, to 12-year-old girl, wearing tangerine pants: I wish I could wear tangerine pants.
Girl: You totally could. They would match your face.

Colleague B, after I urged her to throw out her hummus in light of the Trader Joe's hummus recall: I'm so emotionally charged right now because of this hummus.

12-year-old girl: There are so many songs about lollipops!
Me: Well. That's because they're not really about lollipops.
Girl: I know, I told my mom I wanted a lollipop after hearing a song. "I wanna sing about lollipops!" (changing into Mom voice) "You're grounded."

Me, entering the office: It smells like meat in here.
Colleague C, the only man in the room: Sorry, that's me!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. C

This has been a serious roller coaster of a couple weeks, for more reasons than I can possibly list or explain here.

But, even when I'm sad or confused or preoccupied, I get to interact with interesting and hilarious people every day. And end a very long week by eating cake and singing NSYNC. And that makes the time pass swiftly and I can laugh and feel better, if just for a moment.

12-year-old girl: Yoga is so refreshing. I feel so connected with Jesus.

Me: How did you decide who to go to prom with, from all your ladies?
18-year-old boy: They had to Rock Paper Scissors for it.

Colleague A, speaking generally about the scent of humans: You smell like person and I don't like it.

Me: I wanna put you in my pocket and take you home with me.
7-year-old boy: I want to do the same thing to you.

Me, upon seeing a copy of Judy Blume's Tiger Eyes: They can't read this book! There's sex and masturbation in it!
Colleague B: What do you think being a kid's all about?

12-year-old girl, to my colleague: I think I've grown sick of you...which is a good thing.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fear

I don’t remember how, but at some point in the recent past, I acquired a Lululemon bag. One of those red and white ones with text all over it. I pack my lunch and dinner in it every day before work.

One of the sentences on it is that pervasive quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:

"Do one thing a day that scares you."

I’m bad at this.

I like to stay squarely in my comfort zone and have a hard time doing new things.

And yet.

My job is kinda scary.

I work with the kind of kids that people avoid on the street. Because they’re loud or aggressive and seemingly have nowhere to go. They gather in groups and take up a lot of space and have the hard exteriors of kids who are growing up in a city.

But they come to where I work, to be in a band or a play or to get a job or play basketball. To feel safe and part of a community and to be seen and heard and included.

At work, I walk into large groups of tall young men every day and tell them all to take their hats off and find a program area to go to.

That used to scare me. But only a little.

I am sometimes in charge of the whole three-story building, staff members looking to me for directions on what to do next. I shuffle everyone out, make sure they’re all getting home safe, and arm the door at the end of the night.

When I think about that too much, it scares me.

So I don’t.

Yesterday, one of my mentees, a 15 year old whom I’ve known since she was 12, got into a terrible confrontation with a teacher at her school.

So this morning, I showed up at her suspension hearing.

I have never been to one of those before. And I didn’t know what to expect.

And I sat with the school facilitator and with my mentee’s mom and with my mentee while I heard the whole story and she cried and shook and swore. I put my hand on her knee and trusted my instincts and my skills to calm her down, and I made her promise to follow through with a short-term plan, and I urged her to thank the administrator and I asserted to her that she had an army of people who supported her, and when she calmed down and even laughed as we ended the meeting, and when she showed up at work to practice piano and we chatted and laughed about when we first met, I hoped and wished that my words and support had poked through her steely, defensive fa├žade.

It was kind of a scary day.


The amazing thing was, I wasn’t scared. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. XCIX

Two of our biggest special arts events are now completed: last week, it was the Exhibit Opening of the Special Artist Project that the kids participate in at the MFA, tonight, 12 members in our band performed at the Strand Theatre as part of the annual Music Clubhouse Showcase.

I am relieved and proud that they are both successfully over! Now, we coast til the end of the school year!

Me, to an 11 year old boy, during Homework Hour: Come sit with me!
11 year old: I demand respect because it's Cinco de Mayo!

Kid on the bus, to a 10 year old boy: Did you fart?
10 year old: I almost did, but it was a false alarm.

8 year old, to his friends: You know the Muppets? You know Kirby*? The actor that did the voice died.
Friend: He got shot?
*He meant Kermit.

Me, to an 8 year old girl: I need a snack.
8 year old: I have a hamburger.

8 year old girl, to Colleague A (male): You are such a girly girl.
Colleague A: I'm a manly girl.
8 year old: With furry pits.

Me, to an 8 year old boy, helping in the art room: Was this your idea?
8 year old: No.
Me: Whose was it?
8 year old: Mine.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. XCVIII

This was my first normal week back at the grind, after my week off and April vacation last week.

I have a couple weeks of special events ahead and then we'll zoom through til the end of the year.

Shocking.

Me, to 7-year-old girl: You're so cute. What if I ate your face?
Girl: What if I chopped off your head?

Teen girl, to her boyfriend: What are you gonna do to piss me off?
Me, to her boyfriend: You're already planning on pissing her off?
Boyfriend: That's because she is! It's called EQUALITY!

Me: I'm obsessed with these new keyboards.
Colleague: I know. They're so soft. It's like they have mad lotion on.

Me, to 7-year-old girl: Where is your family from?
Girl: Dominican Republic.
Me: But you were born here?
Girl: Yep.
Me, to 10-year-old boy: Where is your family from?
Boy: Is that any of your business?!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. XCVII

April was my month for craziness and travel. I've just returned from a weekend in Providence with my old college friend. Old meaning, I've known her for 12 years. Old meaning, we're so much older than when we met at 18 and 19 years old. It was amazing and easy and fun and deep and heartening to reconnect with her in person--we haven't been together in about three years and we haven't lived on the same coast in almost nine.

Now it's almost May and May will surely kick my ass, but I am staying put for the next month or so, so hopefully it will all go just as planned.

13-year-old, upon my arrival back at work: You look lazy.

Colleague A to a 7-year-old boy: Your hair is so soft. I want to cut it off and put it in a bear.

Me, to 13-year-old boy: What are you doing in here anyway?
Boy: Being a black boy.
Me: What does that mean?
Boy: Being lazy.

Me, to a group of teens arguing about age: I'm older than all of you.
Teen boy: I'm older than you.
Me: How old are you?
Boy: 65.

Colleague B, referring to a burrito: The things I'm about to do to this. You might not want to watch.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Overheard on Vacation

I will type quickly to save the battery of my swiftly dying computer, whose charger expired the day before I went away for a week on a family vacation, on which I vowed to stay unplugged.

I did a pretty good job of it and only jotted down a few choice quotes because I mostly left my phone in my room.


Brother, when I mentioned that I was hot, at the memorial celebration for our grandmother: I spend a lot of my time overdressed.


Me, having an identity crisis and feeling old, surrounded by my cousins' kids, ranging in age from 3-7: We're not littles anymore. We're middles.


7-year-old, during a game of Hide and Seek: Annie's big, so she is probably hiding somewhere hard and big.


3-year-old, crying: I want to go to sexy school! But we can't do our moves!


Me, to 3-year-old: What was your favorite part of the week?

3-year-old: Playing with C.
Me: Doing what?
Him: Doing bad things.

***


Here are the remarks I shared at the celebration for my grandmother, followed by the slideshow that started off the event. (Please forgive the bad formatting. I don't have time to fix them today, but you get the gist.)

I want to start by reading a couple paragraphs from my grandfather, Charles Hockett’s “non-obituary,” which he wrote in 1996.

“In the fall of 1941 I sat in on a course in the Foundations of Mathematics, given by a professor Wilder. In it were a southerner (male), one fairly pretty and one very pretty girl, and others. I phoned the very pretty one and asked her for a coke date. She said, "Are you the southerner?" I said No in a disgusted tone of voice (ask her!). But she came on the coke date. I remember hearing the nickelodeon play "I don't want to set the world on fire, I just want to light a flame in your heart," a lovely song that I would enjoy hearing again. We went dancing, and took rides in the countryside. I asked her to marry me, and she said she would.”
And, six pages later, after a detailed account of the years 1942-1958, he closes with, “Much more has happened since [then] than ever before—my bookwriting (selling about six thousand copies in all), my songs and opera and many other compositions; Shirley’s teaching at Cornell, at Ithaca High School, and at Ithaca College, and her bookwriting (selling over a million copies); children through school and college and off on their own; five delightful grandchildren; trips to Maine, Utah, Wyoming and Montana and Idaho, England, France, Spain, Italy, China; cruises to Alaska, around the Pacific, and around South America; the Ithaca Concert Band and Shirley’s learning the clarinet to play in it and my switching from flute to piccolo to bass clarinet—and on and on and on. But to tell all that in as much detail as has been given above would stretch this essay out beyond all reason.

Besides, I’m tired of recalling and writing.

So I have given this account an appropriate title, and thanks for listening, and farewell.”

So you see, Shirley Hockett had it all. A large, boisterous, loving family; a 59 year long marriage to a brilliant man who was insanely devoted to and proud of her, travels that led her around the world, and a barrier-breaking career in a field she was passionate about.

When we got the news that Mom-Mom had passed away, my cousin posted a brief tribute to her on Facebook, honoring the matriarch of our family in a way I had never thought to but that struck me then like a bolt of lightning. She wrote it “to the woman who taught me that I could be a leader.”

I grew up with this picture of Mom-Mom in my head, ruling over us from a throne. (She didn’t actually have a throne, but that was how powerful she was.) She could be at once corrective and cutting, then burst out laughing, swinging back her beer and getting up to dance. I didn’t see myself in her or her in me at all.
In the days and weeks that passed after her death, we collected stories I had never heard and my image of what a truly remarkable, strong, brilliant woman she was became clearer.

And, interestingly, my understanding of myself became clearer as well.

I wanted to be an actress on Broadway until I was about 20 and was discouraged to discover that I was just OK. Then I got into directing, which I realized I was pretty good at. When I graduated from college and moved back to New York City, foolhardy and sure that I’d take the NYC theatre world by storm, I spent about two years feeling like an utter failure until, in great despair and ready to just give up, I started volunteering at a shelter and discovered that working with kids was like breathing for me. I had never taken to something so easily or felt so fulfilled by work.

I had searched for a calling my whole life, failing to remember or refusing to make the connection that I’m from a long line of gifted teachers.

From what I hear, Mom-Mom was a force in front of a class. She prided herself on learning every kid’s name on the first day. There’s a famous story of her continuing to write OFF the chalkboard and straight onto the wall, to keep her students’ attention. One day, late in her last days, my mom wrote to the family, recalling a visit she made to Bridges. As she was getting ready to leave, one of the men who was there to visit another resident said, "Hi, Shirley." Mom-Mom reportedly did a little wave. The man said to my mom, "She was my teacher. She taught me calculus." 

I saw Mom-Mom around Thanksgiving 2011, after I’d started my job, a job I have now been doing for almost 3 ½ years. At that point, she already didn’t know who I was, but we talked about my work and she told me she could just tell that I was doing the right thing. It was important for me that she seemed to know I was doing good work in the world.

My career is important to me; it’s a part of my identity, as I know it was part of Mom-Mom’s. She was so proud of the work she did and continued to work for years after “retiring.” I am dedicated to the kids I serve, to teaching them that they are strong, intelligent, hilarious individuals, that they matter, that who they are and whom they are becoming is just right. And that they deserve and will certainly reach full, happy lives.

It has only been in the months since Mom-Mom’s passing that I have come to fully realize that the example I have in my mind of a full, happy life and my own certainty that I too will have it all one day is thanks to her.  



Friday, April 11, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. XCVI

It's been an insane couple weeks--pushing through two six-day weeks in a row plus working 27 hours in 2 days during our annual gala.

This week, I helped run our annual singing competition and showcase and just got home to finish packing for a week off.

Next week's edition is sure to be bananas, as I'm spending the week with my ENTIRE family, including five kids under 9.

Me, to 7-year-old boy: I just want to squeeze you!
Boy: You can't squeeze me. I'm too fast!

8-year-old boy, to me, while inspecting my nails: I think you need a nanny-pedi.

Me, to Colleague A: Where's Emily?
Colleague A: I don't know who Emily is.
Me: Emily? Film and video teacher?
Colleague A: I didn't know her name was Emily.
Me: What did you think her name was?
Colleague A: I dunno. Martha?

13-year-old boy, singing: Cuz I'm happy...clap along if you feel like a room without a roof...CUZ I'M MAD.

Teen boy: I'd go to Simmons even though it's an all girls school. I'll be Jawanna Mann for a year.

Teen girl: That's all you need in life is chin hair and tattoos.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. XCV

Our big annual gala is two weeks from tomorrow. This was the last relatively low-key week before I disappear in preparation for that event.

I forgot to include this quote from last week:
Me, to two teen girls: You ladies should stay for Family Night.
Teen Girl: What's Family Night this month?
Me: For Women's History Month.
Girl: *rolls eyes*
Me: What?
Girl: I hate that...I'm like the opposite of a feminist.

Me, to a volunteer and an 8 year old boy: If I took a nap right now, what would you do?
Volunteer: Probably be really jealous.
8 year old boy: Um...cook you for dinner.

8 year old boy, thumbing through camp brochures: Yo. I need to be away from home for a little while.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. XCIV

Well these days are just flying by, aren't they?

This week featured a couple late night work days, one to take a group of teens to see a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which was lovely, and tonight, after Women's History Family Night, where I ran a super fun activity testing the kids' knowledge of important women in history and culture.

Colleague A, more beleaguered than I've ever been: It's too much work to eat.

Colleague B, hoping to avoid my (joke) plan to "drag him up" in honor of Women's History Month: I don't like things being done to me.

Me: Please, go sit with your peeps.
10-year-old boy: You can't say peeps.
Me: I can't?
Boy: No, that's a hood word.
Me: How do you know I'm not from the hood?
Boy: I know you're not from the hood.
Me: You have no idea where I'm from.
Boy: I know you're not from the hood. Look at you.
Me: Because I'm white, I can't be from the hood?
Boy: No! I'm not racist!
Me: You don't know where I'm from.
Boy: I know where you're from. You're from New Hampshire.
And then,
12-year-old boy: We know you're not from the hood because you're a good person.

After, I gave him an impassioned monologue about how people like him and his diverse group of friends should be seeing theatre, not just the old white people we were surrounded by at the play:
16-year-old boy: You're so black.
Me: I AM?
Boy: You just made it onto the top 5 list of blackest white people.
Me: Who else is on that list?
Boy: Justin Timberlake. Ellen DeGeneres. Donald Trump. (That was a joke.)
Me: OK. Who else?
Boy: Channing Tatum. Macklmore. Seth Rogen. Jonah Hill.
(My conclusion, after we talked about it was that I'm "black" because I'm down-to-earth and most white people are "hoity toity." Oof.)

Colleague C, getting ready to go out with other colleagues: Lady's out of town!
Me: Shit's gonna go down!...I just made a poem!...about cheating.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Just Write {10}

Some things I have considered writing about in the last two weeks:

1. I am back to reading bound books.

And I am, like, actually carrying a book in my purse on my commute. It's GLORIOUS. Mind you, bound books are more expensive than the impulsive Kindle purchases I was making to read on my phone, and now I want to spend all my money at a real live book store. But there is really nothing like holding a book in your hands while you read.

2. It is basically May.

S is coming to visit this weekend. I have next weekend totally off. Then I am working at an Arts Summit on 3/29, have a hair appointment on 3/30, my annual fundraiser is on 4/5, I am traveling to Ithaca for a family reunion from 4/12 to 4/19, and traveling to Providence on 4/25-27. See you in May.

3. I have spring fever real bad.

It's the time of year when I feel like I have a ton to do (clean my room, clear out my drawers, rearrange my room, organize my files, write some remarks for my grandmother's memorial), and instead of doing any of them, I try to find one more Academy Award nominated film I can stream online. It's like, with all my free time this weekend, there were too many options for how I could pass my time, so I did none of them.

4. I believe my 30s are going to be about consciously making bad decisions.

I have always been a pretty cautious and calculated person, and I have always been able to let reason and logic and practicality outweigh any impulses or guilty pleasures. But since turning 30, I'm pretty set on doing some things that a previous me would deem unwise. On purpose. For fun. Watch out.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. XCIII

It has been a ROUGH couple of weeks at work, and I can't figure out if it's this endless winter, something in the water, or the kids being the squirreliest ever, but we were all totally wiped out by the end of this week.

And it's not even crunch-event-prepping time yet. Yikes.

Colleague A, to an 8-year-old: LEROY! Why do you have a basketball out of the gym?...Why do you have an 87-year-old man's name?

Teen boy, to me: I was just talking about you!
Me: You were?
Teen: Yeah, about your mad typing skills.

Colleague B, as I tested her on vocabulary words for an exam: You know why "delude" confuses me? Because I think of deluding water.
Me: That's "dilute."
Colleague B, laughing: You're right!

Colleague A, wearing a 9-year-old girl's headband: I'm prettier than you.
Girl: You have a beard, dawg.

9-year-old boy: I hate my bathroom life.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Just Write {9}

I don't write about my personal life too much here.

Partly because it feels masturbatory.

Partly because MY PERSONAL LIFE ISN'T THAT INTERESTING.

But, let me just say, I've spent the last few months actively dating, which has been a relatively new and exciting phenomenon and I've learned a ton.

I was just at dinner with a new friend, who is being dragged through the muck by the man in her life.

They want different things: he to let her go and she to have him be hers.

And I sat there and told her she needed to listen to him.

He is telling her exactly what he means, and he is giving her nothing of what she deserves.

And this was the first time in my entire life that I was giving advice that I have been taking myself.

Historically, I have spoken from my mountaintop of objectivity and distance, telling friends what they should and should not put up with and being certain that they are only putting up with what they think they deserve.

And I just came out of a situation that wasn't what I wanted. We were not on the same page and I had to tell him that, to stand up for what I know I deserve and to ask for it and to be OK when he agreed he couldn't give it to me.

So it was profound to be speaking to my friend tonight from a place of experience rather than distance.

And to have asked for what I want and to still be standing when he couldn't give it to me.

And to actually be certain that there will be a man someday who can.

And to really believe that I deserve him.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. XCII

Today started with a couple loads of laundry and a little cooking and a REMARKABLY foul mood that didn't sufficiently disappear until my kids were choreographing a dance battle at the very end of the night, and then suddenly it was 10 PM and my workday was done and, with it, the END OF VALENTINE'S DAY!

Fewf.

Made it through unscathed.

Me, to a teen girl: Look at you with your long flowing locks!
Girl: It ain't mine though.

Me, to a 12 year old, in an unnecessary battle of wills: You're a hater.
Boy: I AM a hater. You're a hater because you can't do as much as me.

Colleague, to a group of jumpy elementary school students, waiting for computer time: I'm in charge now. Welcome to the 9th circle. Get in line.

Teen boy, dubbing me with the best nickname I've ever received: Trivia Diva.

9-year-old, guessing the answer to a Hangman clue (_IDDLES) that would reveal the game for the day: FIDDLES!
He also drew a pretty accurate portrait of Steve Harvey in our Pictionary game.

12-year-old girl: I really want a Shake Weight.

No.
Just. No.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. XCI

I haven't posted a traditional Overheard at Work volume since December 21? That is crazy.

I guess considering a combination of snow days, holidays, and two weeks off with my concussion, it's not so shocking.

Or maybe my job just isn't as funny anymore..

JUST KIDDING!

Alum, greeting me: Annie Kee? More like Annie G!

Me, hugging a teen: You're sweaty!...And cold.
His teen friend: That's kind of...sexy.

Teenage boy, to his friend: Your MOM is...[noticing me coming up the stairs] I mean...how is your mom doing?
(I praised him for his good save.)

12-year-old girl: I want a Snapchat, so I can be like...[miming taking a picture of herself] Coloring!

I asked my co-workers to help me think of objects and people that the kids could act out in a game of Charades:
Colleague A: Buffalo.
Colleague B: Snowstorm.
Colleague A: Ann-Margret.

I then narrowed it down to get some items of food on the list.
Me: OK, how about something you eat?
Colleague C: Chia seeds!

Not helpful.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Just Write {8}

So I've technically been on self-assigned bed rest since I got back to town. Cancelled my plans, haven't done chores, stayed home from work.

I've watched a lot of TV and cocooned myself in my bed with Netflix and my Hangman app.

I've been consciously eating balanced meals and hydrating myself with both water and Gatorade.

And trying not to feel ridiculously guilty that I've missed so much work.

I was determined that yesterday would be my last sick day, got tons of laundry done and even ventured to have lunch with H.

That did not serve me, as I ended up dizzy and nauseous by the end of the day.

So, frustrated and begrudgingly, I took today off too and am about to watch my third movie of the day.

This concussion has been immersion therapy in patience and tending to myself, regardless of obligation, appointment, or expectation.

Luckily, my brain and body are finally feeling better, and I am planning on heading back to work tomorrow, where I will force myself to sit, eat, and drink as much as humanly possible.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

2014...in with a Bang (on My Head)

This is what comes of not really paying attention to what I’m eating and drinking plus working my ass off despite weird stomach and headache issues.

After arriving in Hyannis with H and E, I took a swim with E, we headed to a restaurant to watch the Patriots play, and, it hit me like a freight train, I was suddenly keenly aware that I was going to faint.

And then, I was on the floor, sprawled out, sore neck, terrified and unaware of what had happened.

Dehydration and a migraine were why I fainted, I found out later.

And the fall from a bar stool gave me a good, solid concussion.

The EMTs who were called to the scene put me in a neck brace and on a straight board. I rode in my first ambulance ride, where they put heart monitors on my ankles and an IV in the crook of my left arm that stayed there for 24 hours. I puked upon arrival at the hospital and spent the next day with vomit in my hair. The lovely nurses cleaned it out of my nose and ears as best they could, though, when I showered back at the hotel when I got released, I did find some puke in my left ear.

The nausea I suffered after hitting my head finally dissipated after about 3 hours in the ER and right before they admitted me for observation overnight. Before they sent me upstairs, I peed in a bedside “commode.”

Everyone in the Cape Cod Hospital called the toilet the “commode.” It was very civilized.

Upon admittance, I was given a bright yellow FALL RISK bracelet to wear and put on bed alarm, so every time I had to get up to pee (which was very often), I had to ring for supervision.

It’s amazing how modesty goes out the window in a hospital.

I spent the night trying to find a comfortable position on my back with my left arm out flat next to me (to avoid the IV machine that honked every time I bent my arm). Finally, with an aching lower back, I found the best position was almost sitting up with my knees bent.

I saw the sun rise over Cape Cod and spent the morning watching shitty TV, just like I wanted to.

The doctor took me for a walk around the floor, inquiring as to what had been wrong with me before I fainted. He could find nothing wrong with me (all tests came back negative and clear except for an elevated white blood cell count which indicates I was fighting something) and urged me to combat any nausea with a prescription, eat, drink fluids, and deal with headache pain with caffeine, if needed.

I watched That 70s Show, Saved by the Bell, Full House, Wipeout, and hours The Real Housewives of Atlanta plus ate two hospital meals (if you can call them that) before I was released mid-afternoon on Monday.

We returned to the hotel (where H and E had stayed and played the night before) and I slept 11 hours Monday night. Returning to Boston before the snowstorm was uneventful and I slept 12 hours on Tuesday night!

I finally woke up today feeling good enough that I’ve had to force myself to take it easy.  So I spent today watching The Millionaire Matchmaker.

For future reference, here is a brief list of Things My Concussion Has Taught Me:
-Eat when you’re hungry.
-Drink when you’re thirsty.
-If you feel like you might faint, get low.
-Never underestimate the simple pleasures of clean underwear, clean hair, a clean face, and freshly brushed teeth.
-At the right moment, a cup of ginger ale will seem as satisfying as the greatest feast.
-Bravo TV is pretty much what the doctor ordered as you recover from a head injury.
-By gurney is the best way to travel.
-Choose your In Case of Emergency Contact Person wisely. In fact, I recommend mine.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Just Write {7}

It's Tuesday again.

A rainy, cold Tuesday.

God, I hate Tuesdays.

2014 is proving to be an odd year.

Feeling a little in limbo, disoriented by the date and the weather, and work.

I'm definitely not back in the groove, after my break, and we're all kind of plodding through the days, even the kids.

H and E and I are running away together for the long weekend, and I have aspirations of sitting in a hotel room and watching shitty TV for half the day and swimming in a pool for the other half.

Lofty goals, I know, but I think we can make them happen.

Maybe I'll even be holding a glass of wine for part of the weekend.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Just Write {6}

Welp.

It's 2014 and so far the year has been characterized by a huge snowstorm, followed by 50 degree weather, followed by weather in the teens and a blistering wind chill factor.

I have nothing new to say about the strangeness of this winter, and I know that there are places in the US that are colder than Boston right now.

But yesterday was unnerving:  mid-50s and raining in the afternoon and, by the time I got home, it was below freezing.

This morning, it's 11 out.

Aside from that, the only thing of note I've done is binge-watch the final season of Breaking Bad, including the five final episodes in one sitting.

I can't say I'm not proud of that though.