Wednesday, August 23, 2006

So Far, So Mean

The first day of school went off without incident. Except. My plan for the semester (for my life, really) was to wear the Power Outfit and scare my students into respecting me. Or my clothes, at least. But I didn't do any shopping before the semester started, so I had to go for the casual teacher outfit.
Also, I try to be the right combination of nice and scary on the first day, so that the students who will inevitably end up to be a pain drop and the nice students stay. I wasn't even mean in my first two classes.
But then, as I was talking about the importance of participation, I saw a student in the back of the class doing something with a small handheld electronic device. So I said, "Or, for example, if you are sitting at the back of the room, playing with an electronic device instead of paying attention, I'll remember that." Nothing. He didn't even look up. I paused for dramatic effect. The class was quiet. Then, he finally looked up, and I asked him to put it away. "If you don't want to be here," I said, "don't come. But there are people who want to be in this class. I can't make you a better writer unless you want to be one."
The students sat in a stunned silence. Then I went on with my boring monologue concerning the syllabus.
I rushed right home to see if he dropped. So far, he hasn't.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Twins

Tonight I attended "The Best of the Breast" show at the Rose Wagner. It was a series of monologues and some haiku performed by women. Each of the monologues was written by a different woman. My friend Sylvia wrote one, and the woman who performed was excellent. All in all, the monologues were engaging and entertaining. Some were sad or disturbing, but in general, they exposed some little discussed aspects of breast ownership.
One of my favorites was called "The Twins." It was about a woman who learned about breasts from an older female neighbor who referred to her own as The Twins. She even named them and described their opposite personalities. Sometimes she said, "I can't talk now. Terese (one of the breasts, the naughty one) kept us up all night. She learned how to make pasties out of drink umbrellas and we were up until 3."
I've decided that this is how I will deal with all potentially confrontational situations. It's not that I don't want to do whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing, but The Twins. Well, they don't like action adventure movies. They don't want to go for a run. They don't want to eat spinach, etc.
I think I'm going to like the perkiness of The Twins.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

Last night, Middlebrow and I saw "Little Miss Sunshine." Besides being smartly written, it was both sad and hilarious. At one point, I won't say when, I was laughing so hard I was crying. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say it was the best movie I've seen this year. Why? As I was saying to MB on the way home, it's not rocket science. The movie had
  • interesting characters
  • tense situations
  • conflict
  • an amazing cast

But here's the part, I guess, that is harder to achieve: the writing. The dialogue was great, sharp, but didn't draw attention to its own cleverness. It is difficult to get all the elements working together, moving in the same direction, but this film achieved that.

Here are my nominations: Steve Carrel, best supporting actor; Alan Arkin, best supporting actor; Michael Arndt, best original screenplay; Abigal Breslin, best actress.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

PMK in the OC

Son will be starting Kindergarten soon. He's attending a school called The Open Classroom, or in common parlance, The OC. He will be in PM Kindergarten (PMK). Middlebrow almost cracked up at the New Families meeting everytime the nice woman running the meeting said, "In the OC" or "If you're not familiar with the OC." No one else, besides him and me, seemed to find it funny or in the least strange. Being the bad kids that we are, and trying to establish from the get go that we will be The Slackers, we began talking about the OC as if we were stars in the Fox show.
"Like, I hope all this co-oping won't interfere with my tanning."
"Um, Jessica? Jessica? Jessica?"
"Like, I don't think it's like, appropriate?, if like parents, like, yell, except when, you know, your kid is like, a total jerk. Then it's totally fine."
"Umm, is this meeting almost over? Cuz I so have to IM someone. Like now."

As the years wear on, I can see this joke becoming unfunny. But for now, it's like, totally hilarious. Especially if you take into account the general demographic of the OC, which is pretty much people like Middlebrow and me: middle-class, sandal-wearing, pseudo-hippies who drive Subarus and Priuses and Volvos (except us, of course) and wear Keen shoes and Columbia sportswear (okay, that includes me), eat rice and talk about our commitment to public education. I'm totally in the OC, dude.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Camping Trip: 2006

Here is Son at the entrance to the campground where we stayed. It had all the requisite aspects necessary for the complete camping experience: stinky vault toilets (where a small animal had, no doubt, met its end. what else could account for the stench?), loud, screaming pre-teen girls who rode their scooters up the road every five minutes trying to gain the attention of the boys camped across the way, camp host with golf cart, large parties of scouts/church groups, enough RVs to pay for the war in Iraq (in gas, I mean).
Perhaps you can't tell from this photo, but our poor little Saturn is stuffed to the gills with necessary camping equipment like the thinnest of sleeping pads (woefully inadequate!) and the puffiest of sleeping bags (still not warm enough!) and snacks.
Did I mention the best camping invention since bagged ice? Yes, I could only be talking about pre-made (!!) margaritas in a bottle that you can buy at the liqour store. Did you hear me? Pre-made!! What do you need after a short drive in a cramped car, followed by a cursory perusal of every campsite in a five-mile radius? That's right, a pre-made margarita on ice. Thank you very much!
Okay. Here's the real reason we go camping. Blue, blue, blue sparkly lakes, hikes with Son, excuses to eat marshmellows, huddling together in the tent to keep warm, sitting around the fire drinking hot drinks, telling Son about the camping trips of our youth, trying to remember all the words to "Take Me Home, Country Roads."

Son proved himself to be an amazing hiker. He hiked without complaining, and led us on the uphill climb back to the car at a pace that would leave Floyd Landis breathless (Floyd without the dope, I mean). He also said he wanted to be a Ranger when he grew up, and he began his training by building several cairns (one pictured here) to help hikers when the trail "got confusing." Which way is it to Brooklyn? Yeah, it's thataway.

All in all, a wonderful trip. We did not freeze to death the first night (though we could have), and Middlebrow and Son discovered a few lakes that they have vowed to go back and fish in. And I achieved my goal: I relaxed and was fun. I had fun. I laughed. I forgot about the S word for a few days. I drank pre-made margaritas, ate Smores and sang songs. What else does a girl need?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

No More Fun

For the rest of the "summer" I'm officially no fun. Today, for some reason that remains a mystery to me, I had the first of what promises to be a series of anxiety attacks heralding the return of school.
After spending a good deal of the early afternoon hiking in the Albion Basin (would have pictures but the camera's batteries are eternally "exhausted"), I returned home to have a premature nervous breakdown. I was saying as much when Middlebrow, sensing an opportunity, said he would take Son to the park. MB was slow getting off the couch (where he has been parked, working, for, oh, forever) so Son began badgering me to take him to the park.
"Let's go to the park, Mom, the nervous breakdown is at the park."
On the plus side, I did almost finish one of my syllabi. So I got that goin' for me.