Thursday, August 29, 2002

Hi. I'm almost out of breath from biting my nails so much. I suffered an internal freak-out this afternoon after listening to two teachers tell stories about the kids and parents at my school. "They'll treat you like garbage." It's not that I don't think I can handle verbal abuse. It's that I began to envision an entire year of battling disenchantment, resentment, anger, fear, and failure. I feel alone and I am afraid. I predict that this will be the toughest year of my professional life. (No drama)

But I'm secretly excited about teaching the sixth graders, a secret to myself so that I will still grab a nice little first or second grade class if the opportuntiy arises. Things are in flux like you wouldn't believe at the district. Teachers change placements daily. Many will not know what they will be teaching on day one because the schools are still waiting to see who the no shows are. Umm, maybe the district should make a more timely rule about that. What do you think? Well, I know not the ins and outs of "Let's Make a Deal," school teacher union styley, so let me get back to the point of this post . . .

In battling the freak-out I've been preparing my "Periodical Pocket," filled with vibrant and varied mags and newspapers for our classroom library. Quite proud of it at that. And I've been searching the web, circuitously leading myself toward more ideas for the little buggars. I'm thinking, Harlem is bad ass. These kids should do projects about their community and important Harlemites. I'm looking for black newspapers and I happen upon the Harlem Youth Project. It's an organization that promotes careers in journalism and media for minority students. I look onto their schools page and, can you believe it, they work with no schools in Harlem. They're all in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Long Island, and New Jersey. I suppose they work with the specialty schools, but still. Seems criminal. They're called the HARLEM Youth Project. I think I'm rambling again.

I want my kids to do some kind of class newspaper. I'm thinking a year-long project. Can you give some thought to meaningful ways these kids can write and graphically explore the world through their little sixth-grade eyes? I'm looking for brainstorming on writing ideas, video, art, places. I'm not really sure what I'm looking for. I just know I want it to be cool so that they'll think it's cool and absolutely CANNOT laugh in my face and tell me how lame this plan is. I want to stimulate them and push them into meaningful ways to interact with the world around them.

Ideas?? Post away friends. POST!

Monday, August 26, 2002



Could this be a little joke from above??? When I was in sixth grade we made Ms., I can't even think of her name, I can't even see her face. What's wrong with me! She was our student teacher. We made her cry. We made Ms. Roberts cry, our regular, long-time, experienced teacher. I wore Gloria Vanderbilts, Izods, and anything ESPRIT. I borrowed my brother's parachute pants one day and topped the outfit off with a nice little bandana around my neck, you know, sort of hanging down, tied in a tiny knot at the bottom. I think it was black and purple checked. Prince was big then with Controversy. Or maybe that was the underground circuit in those days. I did have a juvenile delinquent for an older brother, a salesman if you will. You could call him that. Anyway . . . SIXTH GRADE!

I'm not really scared, though. Anxious, nervous, but I think it will be an okay year.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Blue Silos at Night

Last night I went on a journey, a drive through neighborhood streets leading to several open soccer and softball fields, leading to the parking lot of an old grain silo. It took a moment before I could see the silo from the car window. When I did it hovered in the sky, fifteen stories or more of white concrete ridges, worn and marked in beautiful smokes.

Sitting on a burlap potato sack and resting my hands back on asphalt crumbles, the show began. Like a drive-in movie, interviews with longtime Redhook residents projected onto the silo. The interviews started off side-by-side, two close-ups played at intervals; then the voice tracks layered in rounds. Little fairies danced from strings on top of the screen, pushing off of the concrete in deep bends that allowed them to swim in the sky. Dressed like miners, the acrobatic dancers interpreted clashes of old and new.

The final scene projected wheat fields, close-up, swirling in a strong wind. Five fairies dropped down to play in the wheat, swooping, jumping, spinning, and dancing, continuously.

more on Picture Redhook

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

what does a last name get you?

out of the bronx and into harlem.

random placements by the nycboard of ed--alphabetically. haleyfoy, together, are off to a new ps makebelieve #, filled with peewees through 6th, who'll be stylin uniforms, eating peas and rice (jamaican, people), and holding hands around a courtyard garden, "the focal point of our school." how cool is that.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

I'm back again in New York, the life I've made. Last night I was grumpy. Today I'm a - o - k, just accepting things more gracefully. Perhaps Stanley Tucci and Edie Falco helped me tonight, and today my friend Steve. On the plane ride home I was composing a great little ditty in my head entitled "Turbulence" that I hope debuts sometime soon. But back to my hot-a apartment and la vida loca . . .

I was wrong to be judgemental about our houseguests. They're quite a lovely bunch. Tomorow we may all head to Coney Island! See what I'm talking about? (sometimes I don't even know if I'm being sarcastic, but often times I do know that I hate myself for it). Really, they're great. Everyone's great. Calm, concerned for one another's happiness, a connected group I'd say. However, they're off right now at the Brooklyn Inn whilst I sit gloriously alone at my screen's side. Who's the pooper?

Today was something--all over the map. Steve and I started off lunching at West 79th, meandered through the park in the rain, heading towards Frick's house of oil paintings and bronzed sculpture. We meandered afterwards to the Algonquin and then to Frankie and Johnny on Broadway. At the Algonquin Steve and I had one of our famous chats about life, love, lonliness, and, yes, the ever-present search, but this time things were different. We have indeed grown and the fight has lessened. I'm so tired of the fight.

But a new thing to fear came right up in my face that has something to do with my brain and the depths that I traverse, which seem to get in the way of my coveted human connection, especially with that someone special. I'm special. Your'e special, but today the kind of special we all want to avoid was planted on me. It's the kind of special that keeps you from getting picked for kickball or the typing team. "Fingers ready! Go!"

I apologize.

And then I am cradled in a dark balcony seat, first row, by this woman about my mom's age. She spins a good tale--chit chat, but the kind that's like peach pie, making you want to hug goodbye. Frankie and Johnny worked for two hours to climb through a jungle of love insecurity, relationship insecurity. The thrity-some-odd minutes of in-the-flesh nakedness are the perfect metaphor for the play: you have to reveal yourself to love.

In the middle of applause where you hold your breath and take one, stop-motion plunge together with the whole audience, I hear the woman I'd been chatting with two hours earlier say, "I hope you get everything they're dreaming of." And then in my awkward giggle of surprise and thanks it was gone. But the gift of those words planted in me, for me to take on home. Thank you fair lady, thank you Stanley and Edie, thank you Steve . . . gifts of the day.