Tue 29 Jan 2008
As many of you know, I am currently teaching Preschool with a Montessori based curriculum. It’s interesting because I could launch into a big description of what it really means to be a Montessori school, but my Mom summed it up best: Clean, very neat, no plastic. As soon as she told me this it all made sense: the incredible attention to detail, the demand that children sit with two feet on the floor in their chair at all time, the abundance of wooden puzzles, the absence of dust (I know this because it is my Tuesday job). This is combined with the most eco-friendly person I’ve ever worked with, Ex: She has one garbage receptical, it lives under the sink, and it is actually a paper bag (that she reuses). This means that if I blow my nose in the bathroom I have to throw the tissue away in the kitchen.
All of this articulate, detailed-focused planning has caused me to question: is Montessori style training really this retentive? Or am I working with a neat, organized, and rigid person who has incorporated these character traits into her curriculum? I know I am new to teaching pre-school, but after years of working with 3-5 years old I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff. I don’t really care if a child puts his artwork vertical into his folder so it sticks out a little instead of horizontal. I don’t mind if kids sit with their legs askew. It doesn’t bother me if a child is simply playing with the puzzle pieces instead of actually focusing on putting the puzzle together. Maybe I am too relaxed for this sort of education model.
I do understand that it is important to teach children organization and that the skills for this are wide and varied. I also feel like, with creativity, comes a little sloppiness. My mother-in-law constantly brings up the fact that she really believes Josh’s sister could have (should have) been an artist had she not been so focused on always cleaning up after her. “If I had only understood that art is messy then she could have had room to express herself artistically.” This brought me back to my own childhood art projects: painting an empty cardboard box orange, putting it on its side, my dad using an exacto knife to cut out little windows, and calling it a doll house. Or making a doll for my baby sister by cutting out a doll shape in old rags, stuffing it with toilet paper, using markers for the facial features, and taping the whole thing together. (I can recall laying the doll in my sister’s crib while she slept, not knowing that my Mom would later remove it for fear that Gina would destroy it). Typing out newsletters on my Mom’s old typewriter. Constructing large houses out of hard back books and blocks. I don’t ever recall the chore of having to put away any of these projects immediately upon completion, or feeling pressure to be clean, or aching for perfection. Is this personality? Or did my parents allow me the room to be creative?
Oh sure, Josh still marvels at my work space: half completed jewelry in one corner, an incomplete watercolor drying on the table (waiting for another layer of paint), supplies all over the desk, NOTHING IS PICKED UP. Why should it be? I’m still in the middle of all these projects, I need my supplies out, I don’t want to drag my paints out of a drawer. All my stuff sits on my desk (largely because storage is so tight in my work room). I’m pretty sure I carried this into my school life, my desk very neat and organized at the beginning of the week and then slowly falling into dissaray. Am I a huge slob? No way. Do I dust my house every Tuesday? Hell, no.
Therefore, it’s hard for me to ‘catch’ the children doing something untidy. It doesn’t even occur to me. I also feel like they’re young, with so much already on their plate (‘how do I put my shoes on?’ How do I remember what the number 8 looks like?’), what’s important and what is overrated? If their yoga mat is folded, but it’s still messy, I don’t care: it’s still folded.
Fri 25 Jan 2008
Posted by MS under HobbesNo Comments
Last Wednesday my little cat, Hobbes, went in for a teeth cleaning and infected tooth removal. She was eerily quiet on the way to her new vet, a little veterinary hospital in Renton. When I pulled into the driveway and turned the car off she began to meow pitifully. After checking her in (the cheery if not vapid receptionist kept referring to Hobbes as a ‘him’), I left my cat to the whims of anesthesia. Josh picked her up later, finding her hungry with a bandage on her shaved paw, and learned that Hobbes has Periodontal disease. Basically it means her teeth fall out randomly and according to the vet, she is missing multiple teeth! For example: both of her back molars are gone, a quirk we never realized when we took her in six years ago. They removed another back tooth and her bottom fang, slathered cement on her remaining teeth in an attempt to keep them secure, and clipped her toenails.
The shaved paw is really the only reminder that she underwent any sort of procedure (I’m assuming it’s where the IV needle went in). Her voracious appetite has not been affected, however, and we’ve had no trouble hiding her antibiotics in a mound of tuna fish (only tuna, she refuses pills in regular wet food). She even held still when we squirted pain meds down her throat and has spent many leisurely hours sleeping on Josh’s new chair. All of this is sad evidence that our cat is getting old–2008 is her twelfth year–and dental diseases are par for the course. 1996 is special because it’s the year Josh and I met and our future cat was born. Despite her graduation to senior cat status, her mandatory blood work came back normal and her feisty attitude remains.
Mon 21 Jan 2008
Posted by MS under FamilyNo Comments
Spent the weekend with my family…ate a lot of donuts. (Click here for more donut related pics).
Sat 19 Jan 2008
Everybody has that band, that special, special, band that summed up their adolescence, their angst, their heartbreaks. Some of you may think, for me, that would be Skiploader, the Portland based indie band I pursued with origami, or maybe you’re remembering when Courtney and I gave the lead singer of Guttermouth a ring to give to his girlfriend back home (he gave us tickets to his next show, backstage access, and beer in return). ‘Wait,’ some of you are saying, ‘weren’t you into really weird bands, like Big Daddy Meatstraw? Karen Black? Didn’t you see Tribe 8 before you really knew who they were?’ (Yes, and Lynn Breedlove really did perform shirtless, wearing a strap-on dildo). But none of those bands compare to The One:
I love Jawbreaker. I was very lucky the first time my high school boyfriend leaned over and flicked on his cd player for some make out music, (specifically the terrifyingly sexy “Want” off of their first album, Unfun). Perhaps because of the make out association, the music of Blake Schawrzenbach became the narrative of my youth. It could have been anything, I suppose, Metallica, Sonic Youth, (Pearl Jam, according to Josh’s recollection of early make out music), but the language of Jawbreaker was so heartbreakingly well written that it stuck.
I had never been a ‘lyrics’ kind of person, preferring the poppy sounds of Erasure and Pet Shop Boys for their dancibility and maybe a little practical REM from time to time. With the introduction of a bad boy in my life, my music shifted specifically to his taste. Suddenly NOFX (which I embarrassingly pronounced Noff-ix), Bad Religion, and Screeching Weasel blared out of my station wagon. My bf moved to Japan for a stint in the navy and I was left with nothing but a bunch of cds; my loneliness made me reach for reminiscent music and the impact of Jawbreaker began. What better music to listen to on a rainy northwest afternoon wearing long underwear, doc martins, and a sundress? Jawbreaker remains the only band that I truly love inside and out to this day. From the popular “You’re not punk/and I’m telling everyone/save your breath/I never was one” to the obscure and painful “Beneath the neon sky/ Our moonlight/ Six a.m. the floor comes alive with lice/ The pan’s dried up so tight/ With hardened beans/ We’re hungry/ So I lean on you sometimes/ Just to see you’re still there/ Your feet can’t take the weight of one/ Much less two/ We hit concrete.”
I used to have every single song on every single Jawbreaker album memorized. Each song had special meaning to me, a special inner-narration, a deep reflection on my life at the time. I listened to Jawbreaker on the bus, on the train ride from Seattle to Portland, at home while wallowing in self-pity. It’s as if Blake Schwarzenbach reached inside and rewrote my inner brain dialog better then I could write it myself. I also thought it was incredibly sexy that he had a degree in Creative Writing. I actually found a guy in the English department who I dubbed the “Sensitive 70’s Shirt Wearing Guy” and lusted after him in a way a girl can only lust after a Creative Writing major. (He must be so in touch with his feelings! He must be so tortured and in need of my help! He must write in a journal! Every night!) I saw Jawbreaker twice in concert: once in 1995 (they opened for the brand new Foo Fighters) and again in 1996 (after Dear You, their major label release). The second time I was so distraught in my personal life that I cried during the entire concert.
So obsessed with this band, I would write down the lyrics to certain songs (Chesterfield King) and create crude illustrations for them, (later publishing them in my zine “Well, I Swan”).
If MySpace had been around or any sort of social networking device I’m sure I would have been all over Jawbreaker’s page. So impressed was I by the idea of a man being able to capture his feelings in such gorgeous text that I shared his music with anyone who would listen (when Courtney had her car broken into the first thing she told me was, “they even stole all my Jawbreaker cds”). I may have succeeded in getting the attention of the lead singer of Skiploader but I was never bold enough to even write a letter to my favorite song writer.
I thought my love for Jawbreaker was because I really loved Blake , (my high school boyfriend said his friend, Christina, claimed to love Blake so much she wanted to ‘marry him,’ a sentiment that I realized I shared and jealousy recall saying, ‘well, I want to marry him too’), but I could never get into his second band, Jets to Brazil. As much as I wanted to love this band, I found it lacking. Perhaps, like myself, Blake had grown from the angsty, heart-wrenching, writer to a more grounded individual…by the time Jets came around I was no longer a pioneering, single, twenty-something living in the U District on $500 a month. My high school boyfriend was long gone, having abandon me for hard drugs in 96,’ and subsequent guys couldn’t really match those feelings.
Sure, the lyrics of heartbreak, betrayal, and tragedy still helped narrate the harrowing events of my early 20’s. But as those difficult times dissipated, my clinging dependency on this band softened, and when they quit in 1996 I barely noticed. Sure, I still dragged out the old albums from time to time. Recently, I sat in front of Wikipedia and thought, “What is one my favorite things?” I pulled out an old favorite: Jawbreaker. I looked them up, reading anything I could find about the band, and found a picture of the lead singer. Oh my gosh! He’s aged! (All that sexy emo smoking) I found a link to a tribute album that came out in 2003 and purchased it off of Amazon. I’ve been driving all over Seattle with this cd in my car, listening to all of these classic Jawbreaker songs sung by other bands. “None of these other singers have the heart,” I thought to myself, “They can’t be TRUE fans, listen to how badly they’re singing ‘Boxcar.’” The remixed version of ‘Want’ is so terrible I have to skip it every time it plays. I went home and pulled out the originals, playing them, writing about them…(maybe channeled my high school boyfriend a tiny bit). Back then I didn’t have a real job, stayed out until 4am, and entertained dangerous men. Life was so exciting back then!
“I love you more/then I ever loved/anyone before/and anyone to come/someone said your name/I thought of you alone/I was just the same/twenty blocks away.”
Sun 13 Jan 2008
Went to the dentist for a cleaning on Wed., came home with a crown. Well, part of a crown, the real crown is being made, what’s sitting on my whittled down tooth is a cap. The whole thing was very scary, what with the drilling and grinding away of what was once my bicuspid. The poor little guy was rittled with fillings, and the metal was starting to cause a whole lot of sensitivity, and I was unable to chew my favorite cereal, Kashi clusters, on that side. I had put off getting a crown for 8 months and when the dentist said, “Well, you need to do it, how about now?” I realized he was right, might as well get it over with. This is the same dentist, btw, I never found a new one due to the limited choices I have within my dental insurance network. I figure, get the crown done and then move on to someone else. After all, he’s not so bad, the dental hygienists are the problem. While I was having concrete poured into my mouth one hygienist was snipping to the other about how the receptionist makes a lot of money per hour despite not ‘really doing anything but filing, phone calls, and billing.’ I was half tempted to ask her to shut-up but instead started asking all sorts of distracting questions and redirecting her attention to me. She took her revenge by making me a cap that is way too short and looks like a gimpy baby tooth in my mouth.
The next day after cleaning out our attic, I took our cat to the vet. It had been long overdue and I took her to a fancy place in Seward Park. It’s the kind of place that offers coffee in the waiting room and acupuncture for animals. Despite the fanciness we were largely unimpressed at the handling of our cat. They were not expert or fast when giving her shots. Instead of removing her to draw blood they did the whole messy thing in front of us. I learned that my cat has little veins, making it very difficult for them to insert a needle. All of these vet techs were very young, tattooed, and pierced. One girl with purple hair actually gave up finding a vein and found another tech, one with pink hair, to do the job. The whole time Hobbes yowled and cried as she was pinned to the table; I almost cried myself. We learned that Hobbes has a broken tooth, which has caused a low-grade infection in her mouth. She appears fine, is still eating (too much they mentioned), but is probably pretty uncomfortable. She needs to have her teeth cleaned and several infected teeth removed. This will cost between $550-600. Because we were unimpressed with how she was handled I called around and found a vet hospital in Renton that is cheaper–and it’s 20% off pet dental month!
Thursday night my lungs hurt and I started declining rapidly. After a rough night of body aches, coughing, and snot I awoke with a fever at 5:30 am. I started making phone calls. I called the dance studio where I have a 9am class and canceled-regrettably, it’s always tough doing that to a studio with no sub. I had to also cancel an interview for another teaching gig at the Jewish center on Mercer Island. No Thalia performance for me that night. I also had to arrange a sub for a rather high paying teaching gig on Saturday night–thanks SAM–and settled into one of the worst illnesses I’ve had in a while.
After learning I had cleaned out the attic, my sister-in-law suggested I might have Hantavirus. This is a rare deadly virus one can get from rat droppings. Always one to be susceptible to neurosis, I suddenly became worried that I had contracted this horrible respiratory condition and was going to die in a few days. We found a tiny doctor’s office in Renton that was open on a Saturday, a rough around the edges sort of place with cracked chairs and no lids on their urine sample jars. They took our insurance, though, and I was in bad shape. The doctor spoke with a thick accent as he tested me for influenza, sticking a long piece of plastic up my nose and into my sinuses. It was terribly uncomfortable and I responded by kicking my feet around and flailing on the bed. It felt like he was poking part of my brain and when I closed my eyes I saw yellow.
It turns out I have Type A Influenza. This concludes my experiment “Don’t Get A Flu Shot This Year And See What Happens.” I didn’t get one because I hate how sick I feel for 48 hours afterward. Beside, I’m pretty hearty, I figured I would be fine. Turns out, I really, really should have gotten one because then I would have likely avoided this. I’ve been totally incapacitated, unable to sit up for long periods of time, shivering one minute and in a cold sweat the next, plagued by headaches, the works. I’m in the difficult position of having to cancel or find subs for tomorrow’s classes. This always generates ill-feelings from education directors…and I’m not looking forward to this task.
Update: This is the first time in about six consecutive years where I opted against a flu shot. I started getting them in college and consistently got them when I started teaching dance in 01′. Despite the shots, I had still fallen ill with ear infections, viruses, strep throat, etc. so I was questioning the validity of the flu shot. However, the last time I can remember being this sick with these types of symptoms would have been in 00′, the year I did not get a flu shot. For me, personally, I’ve seen enough evidence to see the benefit and will never go without a flu shot again.
I also have to sing the praises of cough syrup laced with codeine.
Wed 9 Jan 2008
This is not my cat…however, this is my car.
Fri 4 Jan 2008
“I’ve been depressed all day, dragged down by the patriarchal society we live in…perhaps this cast can pull me out of it,” so says Randy, the director of Thalia at The Market Theater. Thus, we begin six weeks of nothing but an empty stage, a few blocks, and a set of female improvisers:
January 4 – February 9, 2008
Fridays & Saturdays 8:30PM at
The Market Theatre
1428 – Post Alley
(I will not be performing January 12, but otherwise you can expect me there).
Thu 3 Jan 2008
Posted by MS under Ridiculous1 Comment
Thu 3 Jan 2008
“Coffee shop and babies is what this town is all about,” claimed the teenage barista at Peets Coffee in Queen Anne. I suppose I can see where she might get that, what with the baby boom and all. However, it was more of a reflection on the huge changes Queen Anne has experienced. What used to be a neighborhood filled with old people and old money has now given way to new parents, young professionals, and lot’s of development.
The Peets down the street from my new work is very nice…it is also kitty corner to Starbucks and next to a Tullys. Thus, Queen Anneites are so in tune with their coffee they may choose their coffee shop based on preference not on convenience. (FYI Peet’s far surpasses Starbucks and Tullys). There were three young people behind the bar, two girls and a goofy guy. “Baby it’s cold outside,” he sang, horribly off key. In the space of five minutes I overheard him assure his co-workers that he is extremely ADHD and that he has ESP, or “Extra Special Powers” as he broke it down. This confirms that even when I hear corporate folk sigh and say, “I just want to quit it all and get a job in a coffee shop” they don’t realize they have to work with imbeciles.
Tue 1 Jan 2008
Because the days are long and dreary I’ve been consuming book with a vengence. I recently read two ‘celebrity books’ just for fun and bubbles.
Traci Lords: Underneath it All was incredibly disappointing. It was badly written, over-edited, and full of holes. Lords, in case you don’t know, broke into the porn business at the ripe age of 15 (courtesy of a fake i.d and her Mom’s ex-boyfriend who posed as her step-father). She had a hideous upbringing, claimed to be on drugs during her entire porn career, and rose above it all to become a model/movie/techno/tv star. Surprisingly, given all these circumstances this memoir was without juice. Titillating photos from her modeling career (all rated very PG) are sprinkled throughout the book and yet she condemns the entire industry from hence she came. When the government stepped in and investigated her underage porno career, we get very few details–only that undecover agents followed and harassed her for years and drove her into therapy. And ok, she had a bad start in life, but Lords is a beautiful woman who was given a lot of opportunity due to the fact that hot women tend to get a lot of stuff handed to them–good and bad. The book was so badly written (and it’s evident she did not have a co-author) that I had to skim through most of it, realizing that, unless you’re a huge Lords fan, there isn’t much to this self indulgent, ego-stroking, memoir. (It did make me put the John Water’s movie, Cry-Baby, on my Netflix list).
The flip side was the fairly well written book, Just A Geek, by Wil Wheaton. My grandma was a huge Star Trek: Next Generation fan–she had a huge crush on Patrick Stewart–and I used to watch the series with her. I loved Wesley Crusher because he was a kid on an adult show, driving space ships around and holding his own. I remember reading up on Wil Wheaton in Tiger Beat and learning that his real name is Willow, Stand by Me was what made him a star, and that he was five years older then me. What I didn’t know is that Wil left Star Trek to pursue a movie career when he was 18 and his career never took off. His response to this is emotionally, bitterly, and thoughtfully documented in the blog he started in 2001 (when weblogs were fairly novel). Just A Geek is a compilation of many of his earlier blog entries mixed with commentary about what was going on his life at the time. There’s a lot of failed auditions, comic-cons, and angst over the fact that leaving Star Trek in hindsite was a terrible idea. It’s also apparent that the producers slighted him at every turn and omitted him from everything from the Next Generation movies to recognition events with the cast. But it’s also evident that without Star Trek and the fan base he developed Wil would not have the writing career he is currently enjoying. In fact, it was bittersweet for me to read about another actor’s struggle for recognition, career advancement, and financial success only to realize that he was a writer all along. I can certainly relate to this, although I think much of celebrity success comes with luck and not necessarily talent. Many times I’ve thought about throwing in the acting towel and declaring myself A Writer–although I don’t have the funds to start my own publishing company in order to self-publish. I also wonder if it is still possible to launch a writing career from a blog…I certainly fantasize about doing so. (If anybody knows how to go about this please let me know).