Monthly Archives: March 2008

If one wanted to do a “genre study”

of “chick-lit” – what are the best books to read? The Devil Wears Prada comes to mind… what else? I’m thinking of reading 5-6 books that sold well, are on the smarter end of the spectrum writing-wise, and that are set in different worlds (ie, I don’t want to read only about women who work in fashion). I already picked up a new book that is sort of chick-lit murder-mystery, called A Little Trouble with the Facts. The author’s hard-boiled, noir-esque voice is hilarious, but she relies on a lot of explication to fill in chapters that set up the background for the main story. Still, I’m enjoying it. Help me out here!

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This was the week that was…

Pretty much all the teaching staff with the same sore throat and headache.  Three or four people out every day.  One boy jumps another after school at the start of the week, one of those things where you cannot imagine what
anyone had to prove as the aggressor is taller than most teachers and older than most of the other sixth graders, and the victim is a regular-sized, 11-year-old, hardworking, sweet-natured, intelligent kid.  No kidding, you can beat up *****???  C’mon.  Later in the week, another jumping, two of our girls attacking a third after school, with the instigation of half my grade.  I’m sure they had their reasons but again we are left slightly dumbfounded.  The girl picked on has a reputation for once having been a fighter, but this year in our school she hasn’t been in a single violent incident (right up until now).  That’s something, don’t you think?  The next day the girls’ mothers all come in and there’s almost a fight between the adults.  One mother storms out with her daughter and the other mother calls the police to file a report.  Friday, the girls are back in school, and the aggressors discover that they have been suspended while their victim has not, all evidence pointing to the fact that she didn’t do anything.  The two aggressors flip out.  School safety is called when one of them becomes uncontrollable, and they refuse to come.  Call 911, they tell my principal.  So 911 is called, the EMTs come, the girl is taken to the hospital.  What happens next, I don’t know.  All of this while we are teaching, unsuspecting until a school aide comes around and asks that we keep our doors closed and locked for the duration.

What is the long-term plan?  Our kids need something that we aren’t giving them.  What is it?  How do we find it and give it to them?

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Lost

Kloe wants to know what you’re missing, what you’ve lost… real or metaphorical.   Go to her site and drop her a line, or answer on your blog.

Because I was in Turkey for a year, I’ve lost some of my connectedness in NYC, some of my sense of being in-the-know.  I’ve lost a half-dozen single earrings.  I’ve lost one book, one necklace, and one bowl, though I know exactly where they are.  I lost one cake to a disaster.  One friend to Paris.  Another to Vancouver.  My cat’s lost several teeth.  I lost a whole lot of markers, scissors, and other school supplies during the Science Exp0 prep day.  Over the years I’ve lost the friends and acquaintances that you lose when you end relationships.  I also lost certain loved places and at least one band to the end of  relationships.  I’ve lost hours, maybe weeks, to the internet. 😉  I lost a pet once, briefly, only to find her again, several panicked hours later, three floors up chillin’ on the neighbors’ fire escape.  I lost weight, but also flexibility and muscle tone, when I lost my yoga studio.  My family once lost a camera in the Ben & Jerry’s Factory.  I lost the same hat twice last year, both times in historical places in Turkey.  I couldn’t bring myself to buy it a third time.

With change and introspection has come perhaps a loss of perspective on where life is going, and some loss of confidence, but with change and introspection will also come that thing called wisdom, one day.  Change is loss, but it’s also gain, like the cliche about losing a daughter but gaining a son-in-law or whatever… in that sense (not the marriage sense), I am soon to be losing one way of life and gaining another, losing certainties and gaining opportunities… but more on all that later.

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Workshop

Okay… there should be a real post here, blah blah blah about my history with writing classes, but I have a nasty sore throat and my enthusiasm for any sort of effort whatsoever is at a bare minimum, so let me cut to the chase: I just registered for an 8 week class at MediaBistro: Personal Essay Boot Camp.  My first assignment is a short first-person piece on a time I felt like an outsider.  Grown-up learning.  Sweet.

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More LEGO coolness on YouTube…

This one’s an assembly line making little LEGO cars.  I wonder, if you had enough LEGOs and enough engineers, could you make robots make robots?  LOL.

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Lost City Radio

This should have been a book that everyone was talking about last year – and maybe it was, but I never heard of it until I found it on a list of best new novels by Latino writers. It’s also been on lists of best new novels, period.

She clutched his hand and pressed close to him as they made their way down the crowded sidewalk. “What’s the forest like?” she asked.

He considered her question, which she had asked more than once simply because she loved to hear him speak of it. “It goes on forever. It’s endless invention, it’s gaudy, it’s gnarled trunks and rotting husks, sunlight peeking through the canopy, and bursts of rain hitting the roof of the forest like tapping on metal. And color, color, color.”

“You don’t sound like a scientist, you sound like a poet.”

Rey smiled, “Can I be both?”

“But you’d rather be a poet.”

“Who wouldn’t?” he said.

From Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcon.

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Smoothest Science Exp0 Ever

(I have to use the zero to make this less google-able by my kids).

I love planning things very intensely, then watching them unfold, hopefully smoothly, and this year’s Science Exp0 was perfect in this regard.  Hours of time put into a schedule paid off; everyone knew where to go when, small discrepancies – like judges moving faster or slower than planned – turned out to be no major problem, the kids had a great day, the teachers thought it went well, and the judges were awesome.  The vast majority of my energy went to handling one behavior problem that spiraled out of control, but otherwise it was the easiest Science Exp0 we’ve ever done.  I credit my two fantastic science team members who helped with all the planning, the teachers who stayed with the kids all day and made sure they were where they belonged, doing the right thing, and a crack team of judges who showed up early, asked the kids great questions, scored really fairly, and had a terrific attitude all day long.

I could write three pages, or I could write two sentences, and neither would capture the day.  Good moments: teams that worked really hard and knew their stuff were voted the winners (this is not a guarantee!); having four alums of my school come back to be judges, polite, neatly dressed, incredibly helpful all day long, asking great questions, modeling everything we try to coax out of our children; hearing our judges warmly and humorously debrief the projects over lunch; talking to kids thrilled that “the judge came and we did so good, I know we did good, he liked our project, he asked us lots of questions and we knew the answers!”; spending a few minutes with our 8th graders, who were once my 6th graders, seeing how far they’ve come with their understanding of science and ability to take on a big project like this one.

Much of our staff went out on Arthur Avenue afterwards for Blue Moon and gobs of cheese-stuffed shells and fried calamari and a half-dozen toasts.  And then it was seven and the day was over!

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