Dogs, gumballs, and candy make me smile. Going to bed and taking off my band-aid at night make me frown.
Wed 26 Apr 2006
Dogs, gumballs, and candy make me smile. Going to bed and taking off my band-aid at night make me frown.
Mon 24 Apr 2006
1) No throwing stuffed animals
2) No biting
3) No chewing stuffed animals
4) No poking people’s eyes
5) No more putting fingers in people’s noses
(Dictated to me by a four-year-old)
Sun 23 Apr 2006
Josh and I did the right thing (I suppose): We sacrificed a sunny Saturday to do volunteer work at a Boy Scout camp on Vashon Island. It was a beautiful ferry ride over, really gorgeous weather, and the crew of volunteers we joined from Boeing were cheerful. We got nifty light blue t-shirts with ‘volunteer’ printed on the side. Before I knew it I was assigned “Trail Duty,” handed a pair of enormous sheers and a shovel, and sent out to clear out an overgrown trail. Josh disappeared somewhere near the woodpile, his duty called on him in the manliest of ways: Chopping fire wood. For some weird reason, my right foot has been giving me trouble; near the base of the ankle and up over my arch has been aching for a few days. Well I limped toward the trail with my sheers slung over my shoulder I felt like part of a chain gang doing work out in the field. Well honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. The sun was shining, the woods were surprisingly bug free, and despite a few stinging nettles we were well underway. I hacked and snipped with my giant clippers, my pathetic forearms aching with lack of upper body strength. We broke for lunch a few hours later: tater tots, chicken patty on white bun, carrots, and a brownie. The whole meal was super elementary school cafeteria style. At one point we mused about the authenticity of our chicken patty only to learn that it was entirely meatless (that’s crunchy Vashon Island for you). Josh ate two and still felt no satisfaction. Then it was back out on the trail again, and I found myself significantly less motivated. Sure, I cleared the brush from the path, snipped back crazy wild overgrowth, and tamped down loose soil with my shovel. But, a few times I hiked further down the trail and ended up sitting on a stump by myself contemplating life.
Let me tell you, the sun brought amazing vigor back into my life. Sunday morning, I awoke with eager anticipation: The forecast had predicted a high of 72! We shuttled off to Lowes and bought moss killer, fertilizer, and new garden gloves. I cheerfully tugged at weeds while Josh manned our crappy push mower. I drank iced coffee in copious amounts. I hung laundry on the line–sweet smelling sheets, yippee! I went on a three mile walk down by the lake, (my ankle had mysteriously healed). I met up Brandon, briefly, and drank more iced coffee. Josh and I bought hot dog buns, Hebrew dogs, and Girl Scout Samoa Ice Cream. While I lost Josh to an endless game of Halo, I watched Hobbes chase down several flies and devour them before me, (I suppose it’s better than birds).
Fri 21 Apr 2006
Thu 20 Apr 2006
Tue 18 Apr 2006
Mara: Wow, that self-portrait is looking really good, Van….what about adding some detail in the background?
Van: The background? What do you mean? Like the background, as in music, background? Because that would be back here (he holds his paper in front of his outstretched palm and wiggles it to indicate the space behind the self-portrait).
Mon 17 Apr 2006
It was a weekend of birthday parties, starting with Josh’s nephew. The last time we saw this kid he was screeching at the top of his lungs and turning our first foray into baby-sitting into a pint-sized nightmare. Well, who knew five months could make such a difference? The little guy was all smiles and madly in love with his Uncle Josh. Here he is–SUPER happy about his first birthday:
Switching gears entirely, we celebrated Sam’s twenty-sixth birthday surrounded by friends, marinara sauce, and two kinds of cake (carrot and double chocolate):
Sam, in a fit of nostalgia, invited everyone out to the ancient Oaks Park Amusement Park for roller-skating. Who knew it would be so packed on a boppin’ Saturday night? The place was jammed with angsty teenage lovin’, a real smorgasbord of young people wearing everything from in-line skates to roller skates with light up wheels. I teetered into the bathroom on my skates only to interrupt an ear-piercing party. One girl had an ear piercing gun and was lining her friends’ cartilage up one by one. (Overheard: “Ow! My ear is totally bleeding!” “Don’t WORRY, she pierces ears, like, all the time!”) My dear friend, Lizen, drove down from Olympia to attend the skate party and even brought her own roller skates. Note: In this picture I’m discreetly holding onto the carpeted wall to keep my balance.
A while back I told Gina I would visit her at the video arcade/movie house she worked at and throw down some support. I bailed that night and regretted it once she told me how sad she had been that I didn’t visit her. Determined not to make the same mistake, Josh and I dragged our tired, aching, roller-skating feet to the Avalon. Gina wasn’t able to go to Sam’s roller skating party and she was thrilled when we came through the door. “My family!” She yelled and promptly put a handful of nickels into each of our fists. We plugged the nickels in and played air hockey, Underwater Inferno (where you kill lot’s of sharks, eels, and other underwater predators), Big Rig (drive a semi around the country!), and Dance Dance Revolution (and did surprisingly well, even defeating three rounds at the beginner level). Meanwhile, Gina fulfilled her job duties by cleaning the bathrooms and mopping the movie floor. Here she is in all her costumer service glory:
Sun 16 Apr 2006
There was so much happening over the past view days it’s probably best if I break it up into a few chunks…starting on Wednesday night when I took the train down to Portland. I used to take the train often when I was in college, and it was a nice, laid back trip. The Chronic(what?)cles of Narnia was playing on the monitors so all thoughts of writing reports and catching up on reading was shoved aside for c.g. glory. I was traveling alone because Sam and I were meeting up for a last minute snowboarding trek to Mount Hood. Sam called me to inform me that, (dear god!), our father was indeed coming along for the trip. After we giggled nervously about the prospect of our father on skis after an eighteen year hiatus we pondered about what risks he might actually be taking. The following morning the three of us set off, groggy, at 7:30am. As we made our way out of the parking lot and past the Mt. Hood Medical Center, Sam and I made a pact that under no circumstances was our father ending up there. Turns out we didn’t need to worry: Dad hopped on his rentals and relearned quickly. It was a marvelous trip–despite the fact that it was so foggy we barely had visibility, the snow was the consistency of a sno-cone, and it rained the entire time. My Dad was ill prepared wearing jeans and no goggles but at least he learned the night before his twenty year old ski equipment was shot. Below is a picture of one of his old boots (note the cracked plastic down the center) on the left and his spiffy new boot(s) purchased after our day on the mountain on the right:
The following day I accompanied my Mom to PNCA, the Portland Art School she’s worked at for over twenty years. My sister is now a Junior there and I met up with her while my Mom went to a meeting. Gina showed me her studio–which was so cool! She surprised me by showing me a gigantic painting she’s working on–and is planning on giving to me! Below is Gina in full art studio regalia and the aforementioned painting:
Gina, my Mom, and I went to a nearby coffee shop in the ridiculously trendy Pearl District. I spotted this sign and couldn’t resist:
I really thought I would be up for an afternoon of shopping around and splurging on, oh I don’t know, I pair of Seven jeans–tax free. Instead I followed my Mom home in the afternoon and read and slept until Josh finally came down to join the family fun. We all met up at a Lebanese restaurant, the whole family plus significant others, and ate copious amounts of food. Later, my parents took off and Sam, Erin, Gina, Justin, Josh and I hit the town. We started off at this place on 2nd Ave. where they sell vegan donuts. Check out the fruit loops on that donut!
Josh, in true Easter spirit, bought the jelly filled cross:
The infamous Big Donut that used to be outside the bakery but had to be removed due to so many attempts to steal it.
Wed 12 Apr 2006
Some of you may know that I used to be a Zine Artist. I started small, documenting my forray into the alternative band culture in the mid-90’s and eventually ending up with a review in Ms. magazine. You can also find my work in From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Women’s Comics from Teens to Zines. The last zine I published was in 2000. I suppose I moved into a different realm, specifically taking my words and putting them onto the stage instead of on paper. At any rate, I’ve decided that I am doing the Portland Zine Symposium in August. I have a ton of material and a lot to say. I’m also experimenting with turning some of my blog posts into comic pages:
Sun 9 Apr 2006
There are days like today, when I have a large expanse of time (specifically Spring Break!), that I reflect on teaching in a nostalgic, touchy feely, sort of way. This reflection is usually in my Good Teacher Mode: I’m rested, relaxed, and fed so I can truly appreciate teaching in a way I can’t when I’m in the thick of things. Good Teacher appears in the classroom on Monday after a three day weekend, or after a full nine hours of sleep, or after a morning off looking at other schools. Good Teacher kneels down at a child’s eye level and speaks calmly and directly while the child weeps hysterically over a lost toy. Good Teacher isn’t fazed by paste on a chair or a marker without its cap. Good Teacher calmly finds solution to the random bleating of “He CUT me in line!” or “She is NOT invited to my Birthday party anymore!” I find that my Good Teacher mode completely floats through the day, her blood pressure never sky rockets, and her head never aches. “Ah, those little people,â€ Good Teacher simpers while reading a book out loud, “They have so much empathy…what is empathy, class?”
All of this is in stark contrast to Bad Teacher. This mode usually pops up around Thursday or Friday–sometimes even as early as Tuesday depending on the week. Bad Teacher has been known to snatch scissors out of a child’s hand for fear they’re going to cut their fingers off in addition to the erasers they chopped off several pencils–and is than cut by the very same scissors. Bad Teacher mutters curse words under her breath, shouts children’s names in a stern manner as they careen naughtily off in the other direction while walking in a line, and sighs impatiently while a child innocently demands their shoe be tied for the millionth time. Bad Teacher has frantically snapped her fingers at a child to keep him from running off while walking to the gym to perform a concert for his parents–imagine Bad Teacher’s chagrin as the child calmly reflects, “My Mom snaps at our dog (snaps fingers in imitation), Here Jackson! Here Jackson!” Bad Teacher is painfully aware that her students are going about three times faster than she is able and that their energy is sucking her dry. Bad Teacher feels overwhelmed, panicked, and sad at the end of the day. Bad Teacher almost–almost– yells, “Oh GROW UP!” When a kid discovered underpants in the Lost and Found and made a big deal out of it. Bad Teacher forgets how small these children truly are, and makes quiet assumptions based on a grown up perspective: “Why can’t that kid realize she peed her pants? It’s so obvious…” or “Who CARES if someone cut you in line, we’re all going to the same place…what’s the big deal?” Bad Teacher feels unforgivable, personally offended, and tired–especially when a rumor circulates around the playground that she is “mean.”
With growing experience (realizing I’ve been doing this for eight months straight), I can recognize Bad Teacher Mode popping up. At times like this I realize I need to fall silent and observational. If I don’t pause to reflect, than I feel a drowning sensation coming on. In order to keep Good Teacher mode I’ve resorted to going to bed ridiculously early, eating snacks throughout the day to stave off hunger, and circular breathing. I suppose with time and experience a certain wisdom follows, an ability to float throughout the day without snapping. This is why I am amazed at the long term teachers out there who are full of grace and a certain ease. They’re totally unfazed by vomit, diarrhea, or when a kid starts screaming in the middle of class. I’m sure I have it in me (somewhere), but I also know my personality and I know that it’s hard for certain things to roll right off my back.
This is my last break before the end of the school year…hence, true reflection begins.