31 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days #76

#76: All Hallow's Eve

Halloween is probably my favorite holiday next to Christmas and my birthday (which I consider to be a holiday). As someone who's always loved stories, fantasy and theatre, the idea of an entire day dedicated to dressing in costume ... right up my alley.

But lately, as I've been talking to people I realize how maligned the holiday is. I will admit that Halloween is a far cry from what it originally was but every part of Halloween is rooted in some tradition.

At it's core Halloween is about a night when the veil between this world and the world of the dead is at its thinnest. Therefore, the spirits of the dead roam and the rituals we do are derived from the practical actions people took to ward off these spirits. Some of these practices are mostly lost, like the Celtic ritual of Samhain which is most closely related to Halloween. While others are still practiced today, like the Mexican Dia de los Muertos.

Costumes: The idea of costume-wearing is derived from the idea that while some spirits that may return on Halloween are helpful (the spirits of family members and friends), others may be harmful. So people wore costumes to frighten away the harmful spirits.

The Jack O' Lantern: In Irish and Scottish traditions, people lit candles to guide the spirits on their way. They would also carve turnips and rutabagas as well. This gave way to the jack o' lantern as we know it today.

Trick-or-treating: As many an altar will attest to, the giving of food to spirits is quite common in various religions. It is both an offering and a way to keep malicious spirits from trying to take more than you want them to. Historically, the poor would go door to door asking for the food that was laid out for spirits and offer their prayers for those who gave them food. This practice led to modern day trick-or-treating.

Candied Apples: Besides honouring the dead, given it's time of year, Halloween has also been a celebration of the harvest. As such, apples play a big role in the festival. In many Wiccan traditions, apples are also revered for their use in love spells. The apple is a fruit that is sacred to many traditions.

These are just a few of the Halloween traditions we know and love today. I just think it's time that people explore the history of Halloween before they think of it as scary or evil. And I think children would appreciate it more if we talked about the history and the various religious traditions it encompasses. In many ways, Halloween is one of the few holidays that everyone can embrace. I'm sure we all have a spirit we want near us as we claim our treats or plan our tricks.

Happy Halloween!

100 Issues for 100 Days #75

#75: A Day Late and a Dollar Short

With the economic crisis that we're all facing, the end of the month has come to be the time that most people dread and yet wait for with bated breath. It's the time when the amount of money in your pockets is ebbing like the tide at it's lowest point. But you know that if you can hold on long enough, the money will flow back in. Then the cycle begins all over again.

You pay the bills, have a dinner out here or there and buy something nice to lift your mood but always, the end of the month is lurking there. In that last week, you pack your lunch to work every day. You beg off invitations out. It's all about the necessities, laundry, groceries, medicine. Anything that can wait will and you start to borrow from Peter, in order to Paul.

I know there are all these prescribed ways to creak the cycle (saving, less spending, budgeting, etc) but the truth is this is how the majority of Americans live. And even when I budget, that doesn't mean that I should turn down every dinner invitation or cut out the spontaneity of my life. I'm 26, single and childless; I shouldn't have to second-guess every time I go out for a beer. But it is a cycle and I hate knowing that at the end of every month, I'll struggle against so many things just because I lived my life.

30 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days #74

#74: Traveling Man

Sometimes the only way for me to think is to get away from home. I've always been a traveler. In the summer, my mom would send me down to North Carolina to stay with my great-grandparents. While I know now that it was her way of taking a break from me, I thank her immensely because those summers were the best of my life. I got to spend time with my wonderful great-grandfather, Granddaddy Bud. We would sneak past my Grandma Rose and snag ice cream sandwiches. He'd let me steer his huge truck. And I'd sit in the swing behind the house and just relax and wait for dinner. The best thing was that anything that was happening back in NY didn't matter because I couldn't do anything about it.

Now, the same rules apply. Getting out of town means taking a break. I can't worry about the laundry that needs to be done because I can't do it. I don't have to struggle with what I should be doing. This weekend I'm on hiatus. I'm traveling. I'll still update but that's the ony commitment I'm sticking to.

28 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #73

#73: The Power of Play

Today I had to attend a workshop on the "power of play" for my professional development. The workshop was definitely informative and there were some important techniques that I took away from it, but I had two major qualms about it:
1) although the recess and afterschool (read: ancillary) staff were required to attend teachers were not.
2) part of the reason we were required was because the school paid a lot for the training. Money that frankly could have been put to better use if more people weren't going to required to attend.

One of my biggest problems with education is that although we've made great strides in valuing students and even parents in the educational process, teachers are continually shafted (ultimately to the detriment of the student and families). For instance, even though our students have this week off, teachers are here from 8 am - 5 pm for parent meetings and professional development. In some ways, it's nice to have time in the building when students aren't here to plan, strategize and organize but essentially, some time should be devoted to leaving this space, taking a break and coming back ready to push forward into the hardest teaching months (November, December, January and February). I don't know many educators who really ever turn their brains off when it comes to work but not even being given the opportunity to is extremely detrimental.

Similarly, little things like providing snacks or lunches to faculty is appreciated. Just like students can't learn without eating it's also hard to teach when you're running on empty. And some days when you have to hold a student back or run from supervising to a meeting, there isn't always time to go off0campus to grab something or even prepare leftovers or lunch in the morning.

Today in the workshop someone brought up that it's just as powerful for adults to have time in our days to be creative or "playful" like it is for the students. So how did we get so far away from a simple activity that keeps us balanced? My plan is to definitely use this weekend to play. Otherwise it'll be a very cranky winter.

27 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #72

#72: If I Was A Bird

I've been reading a lot of fan-fiction; some that I've written and others that I just enjoy. In some ways, it helps me gauge when I had time on my hands (or made time) and how my writing has changed or improved over time. But most of all, it notes times when I was inspired.

When I'm inspired by something, I start to write. Poetry, fan fiction, original stories, plays, pretty much any and everything. And this has been true all my life. Most of my early stories were inspired by the books and films that I read. Lots of fantasy lands à la the Neverending Story and stories about best friends and their adventures like the Baby-Sitters Club or Sweet Valley. And my teenage years were spent writing lots of vampire stories thanks to Anne Rice and L.J. Smith.

I always have ideas in my head but it takes a lot to drive me to put pen to paper. The last time I felt truly inspired with my writing was high school because even though I could write whatever I wanted, I had strict deadlines. When my English teacher, Lou, told us we had 3 pages due the next day, I'd feel the pressure but I'd also feel the joy of the infinite possibilities. It felt like flying against the wind. Terrible and exhilarating but most of all inspiring.

26 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #71

#71: Catch-Up

Lately I feel like I'm playing a bit of catch up. There's a million shows on my DVR that I haven't got a chance to watch. There's packages I've been meaning to mail out. Clothes I meant to put away and tiny tasks that have been looming over my head like boulders.

The good thing is that I've been getting a lot accomplished and working hard but all of my personal goals have once again fallen by the wayside with the beginning of a new school year.

How do I get back on track?

This week at work we have "off" for parent meetings and professional development. In some ways, it's a respite from the day to day craziness that is working with children but in many ways, the hours are just as long and it's very intense to deal with a student and their parents. I'm trying to figure out how I can recharge my batteries cause they are wearing out on me.

I just want to know what my next step is cause right now I feel like I'm running in place and everything is just out of my reach.

25 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #70

#70: The Best Laid Plans

Every weekend I start with a plan. Not a lot but just a few simple tasks I want to accomplish before the weekend is over. And every Sunday around 9 p.m. I realize just how little I've managed to complete.

Sometimes I just get sentimental over the weekend. I start to get lost in reminiscences. Last night I was up until about 4 in the morning looking up old R&B music videos on YouTube.

Other times I just veg out. And after a long week I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. But then I start a new week and I'm already behind. So 'the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray'. And I need to decide if I'm going to stay up late and be tired tomorrow or struggle to pick up the slack a day at a time.

100 Issues for 100 Days: #69

#69: Lay In Bed Mix

The best thing about Sunday is that (if you can) you get to lay in bed all day. Often in movies and television this is depicted as the girl rolling around in her huge bed in gorgeous lingerie or sexy, casual underwear while an enticing soundtrack plays and she contemplates the next act to come. Even though I don't know too much about the rolling around in lingerie part, I can relate to laying in bed and listening to music. When I'm laying in bed, I want to listen to songs that take me from romance to lust to heartbreak and back again, along with a few songs I can sing along to. I created a playlist especially for that purpose and these are my top ten songs from that playlist (in order of how they should be played).

1. "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" - Sarah Maclachan
Sarah Maclachlan hit it out of the park with this one. Equal parts sexy and romantic. It makes you want to pull at your clothes and feel skin against your skin, but not in a skeevy way.

2. "Cannot Even (Break Free)" - The Noisettes
This song is angsty and powerful. The lead singer of the Noisettes has a powerful voice and it's stretched to the limit here.

3. "Again" - Janet Jackson
The ultimate "lay in bed" song. The video features Janet on a bed covered in white with a simple top and a pair of jeans. A belly chain and Gary Dourdan are her only accessories.

4. "Bad Habits" - Maxwell
Although I disagree with the theme of the song, the infectious beat and Maxwell's breathy voice take me to another world.

5. "Beautiful" - Me'shell Ndegéocello
The height of romance. I first heard this song in the film Lost & Delirious and I'll probably always associate it with that movie. The lyrics are touching and the pared down to it's essence music is intoxicating.

6. "Realize" - Colbie Caillat
Simple message, simple melody but complicated emotions. It's a stereotypical dilemma. "If you'd just realize, what I just realized, then we'd be perfect for each other ... if you'd just realize"

7. "Your Body is a Wonderland" - John Mayer
Second only to "Again" when it comes to being a perfect "lay in bed" song. The entire video takes place in a bed. And why get out of bed when someone is discovering your body like it's newly discovered land?

8. "Pavement" - Cassie Steele
Cassie Steele is a young girl with some pretty dark lyrics. This song is full of angst and regret but in a way that's completely cathartic.

9. "Kissing You" - Des'ree
I can't help that every time I hear this song I see Leonardo DiCaprio kissing Claire Danes in my head. But more than that this song epitomizes innocent love and glorifies one of my favorite things: kissing.

10. "Heaven Help" - Lenny Kravitz
My mix ends with this song because it's not only soothing but it's determined and hopeful. When Lenny says, "I'm ready for love", I feel like I can go out and face anything. And who knows what I might find when I make up my mind to find it.

24 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #68

#68: Can't Think

Today has been one of those days when my thoughts don't seem to coalesce. My mind has been flitting from one thing to another. Sometimes I can't think of one thing to write on this blog and today I must have thought of a million but nothing seemed quite right. Or it was as if the thought hovered there like a hummingbird. Waiting to be realized but elusive.

My entire day has been half-finished thoughts and unrealized plans. Even those things that were concrete left me to question what the next step was or what the significance of the event would amount to. I think my mind needs to wind down but I feel fit to burst right now. I can't think and yet it's all I can seem to do right now.

23 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #67

#67: Joy Rising

I'm not an Oprah fan. If I watch an episode of Oprah it's usually because she has a guest that I enjoy or because I stumble into it. Last night, I stumbled into an episode about "bests". There was a segment about the "best jeans" for curvy bottoms (CJ by Cookie Johnson). And even one about the "best job" (a travel writer). But the one that stuck with me was about a "flash mob" that was organized for Oprah at a Black-Eyed Peas performance in Chicago. One of the participants described that he felt a feeling of "joy rising" during the event. I thought it was poetic.

I've definitely had those moments. Where you feel connected and joy seems to be bubbling inside you. A lot of those moments, I've had while performing. I've even had a few of those moments with my students while watching them do presentations or interact with each other in positive and supportive ways. And sometimes I've had those moments while sitting calmly with my thoughts.

My only concern is that those moments have been fewer and far between lately. I think it's something that everyone should experience. And it should be often because it's sublime.

100 Issues for 100 Days: #66

#66: Remiss

I have been so remiss. Obviously, trying to update every day is harder than I thought it was going to be. Especially on those days when I come home and all I want to do is soak my feet and sleep. But I'm working towards getting back on track. I have a week of parent meetings (and also catching up on laundry, cleaning and rest). And then a short jaunt down to LA for Halloween. So I'm going to keep up with this. I'm close to the end and this is the time when it gets hectic. I guess this is where I start to hit the wall. Gotta push through.

21 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #65

#65: It Ain't Over Til It's Over

Rundown of my day:

5:00 AM: Wake-up, begin washing dishes and getting together ingredients to cook treats for school event.

6:00 AM: Get off computer after looking up conversion from ounces to cups.

6:15 AM: Get the popcorn started, begin mixing the caramel sauce.

6:30 AM: Trying to figure out where to store the popcorn. Don't have anything big enough to hold all the popcorn I plan on making. End up using garbage bag.

7:00 AM: Caramel sauce still too thin and I need to finish so I can wash up to get to school. Add cornstarch.

7:30 AM: Finish the food. Start gathering everything I made the night before and getting other supplies together.

7:44 AM: Oh shit! Hop in the shower. Come out, hop into my outfit.

8:00 AM: Can't find the lights I need for the haunted house.

8:30 AM: Finally find and gather everything. Out the door! If I left it too bad.

8:47 AM: Just missed the bus. Next one not til 10 min. Start looking up cab companies but the next bus is early.

9:05 AM: Time to transfer. Next bus is in 6 min. Put down the bags I'm hauling.

9:30 AM: Arrive at work. Put my bags down and run upstairs to watch my students perform their skits for Humanities class.

10:10 AM: Only a third of the way through and I'm light-headed. Haven't eaten anything.

10:15 AM: Someone brought pastries today. Thank God!

10:50 AM: Skits are over. I have a bit of time before lunch duty begins. Check-in with my boss. Return emails.

11:00 AM: Co-workers start to arrive. Send them to my office to finish prepping for this afternoon's event.

11:20 AM: Lunch duty starts.

12:30 PM: Have to stop 3 kids and remind them to finish chewing their lunch before coming out to recess.

12:40 PM: Lunch duty over. Jump in to help prep.

1:10 PM: Checked in with other teachers, they brought next to nothing for this afternoon's event. Gotta make a Wal-Mart run!

1:20 PM: Before I leave set up snack for the afterschool program and get attendance sheets.

1:25 PM: Out the door. Spend about $60 at Wal-Mart.

2:00 PM: Get back to school. Parent meeting! Need the receptionist to translate for me. Mom is a Spanish-speaker.

2:30 PM: Out of meeting. Luckily student is a star. Nothing but good things to say. Time to start getting redy for the event.

3:00 PM: Lord, help me not to hurt these children. Pulled in a zillion different directions.

3:45 PM: Down to the wire. Some kids can't pull it together and all I want to do is pee. Headed to the bathroom when another crisis hits.

3:50 PM: Crisis averted. I can pee.

4:00 PM: We're supposed to start but everything's not ready. Kids start lining up.

4:20 PM: Gotta start even if we're behind. The little kids are afraid of the Spooky Walk. We have some criers.

4:45 PM: First transition smooth. High school students are doing excellent.

5:05 PM: Second transition easy-peasy.

5:25 PM: Where are the extension cords?! Found them. Then found out I don't need them. Tme for the costume contest.

5:45 PM: They want to give two kids a tie. Send a teacher to make up more goody bags. I did not plan for this.

6:00 PM: Everyone got a prize. Kindergartener is crying cause he didn't win. Slip him some Play-Doh.

6:15 PM: Surprised to find the majority of the areas cleaned up. Time for the nitty-gritty. Vaccuming.

6:30 PM: Discover the kids spilled some fake blood on the carpet. Down on all fours scrubbing.

7:00 PM: Think I got it all. Checking the kitchen one last time.

7:15 PM: Inventorying what's left. Setting aside the good stuff as treats for the high school.

7:30 PM: Beat, afraid to go into my office cause it's one more thing i'll have to clean.

8:00 PM: Just got home, thanks to a ride from a co-worker. So glad I didn't have to get on the bus.

8:05 PM: Put down my bags. Realize I still have to cook. Want to pass out ... get up and make some spaghetti.

8:30 PM: Pour a glass of wine and sit down to eat. Now all I have to do is blog.

20 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #64

#64: Much Ado About ... Everything

Sometimes I want to slap myself. I don't think it's conceited to say that I have great ideas. And I have the ability to execute them. The problem is my perfectionism.

I want to see things done right. I want large scale. I want fog rolling in, bright lights and lots and lots of pizazz. So tomorrow I have a huge work event that I am FREAKING OUT about.

I'm cooking a gazillion things (and trying to figure out how I'm going to carry it all on the bus), I've been running errands for weeks (on my own dime) and I have to be meet with a parent in the midst of all the chaos.

So I'm much ado ... much, much ado.

19 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #63

#63: Facebook "Friends"

In this day and age, technology has led to a whole slew of idiosyncrasies and awkward moments. I find that I'm reading a lot of "What to do when (Blank) Friends You" or "How to Defriend a Friend" articles.

I would classify myself as a Facebook snob. I'm very choosy about who I friend, usually reserving the honor for close friends or those who are farther away who I definitely want to hear from. I also make concessions for those who I may not be emotional close to but people who live near me.

Since I'm a teacher, I never accept friend requests from current students and I only for former students, I have a strict over-18 policy (and even then I restrict what they can and cannot see).

But the two places where I run into problems are family and co-workers. There are some co-workers I socialize with outside of school but that doesn't mean I want them to see when I update my status to "I think I'm going to kill someone's child" (a fairly common status update btw). And then there are those whom I maintain a friendly rapport with at work but I don't plan on socializing with at all. So those requests tend to languish on my request page.

Then there's the sad truth that not everyone in my family is my "friend". Or at least not in the virtual world. Although my mom and I drink together, go out on occasion and truly enjoy each other's company, I do not want to have to explain why my status is "dry as the Sahara" or "feeling blue today". Unfortunately, I had to defriend my mom, a move that resulted in a lot of wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth. Ironically, now my grandmother has friended my mom and she finds herself in the same position.

I think Facebook is one of the best social networking sites ever but I think people need to realize that not every relationship is Facebook worthy. My friends who were "phone friends" are still that. And family is always best regulated through caller ID. People need to realize that denying a Facebook friend is not denying that person. Just that form of communication.

18 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #62

#62: Karma

I've been thinking about karma. If what you put out is really what you get back. Recently, Barbra Ehrenreich published a book titled Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. The book discusses how the American culture of positive thinking can create a backlash and a complacency that is more harmful than good.

One of the blurbs about the book says:
We're always being told that looking on the bright side is good for us, but now we see that it's a great way to brush off poverty, disease, and unemployment, to rationalize an order where all the rewards go to those on top. The people who are sick or jobless—why, they just aren't thinking positively. They have no one to blame but themselves.

Is that the truth? Maybe it's not that I'm not working hard enough but that I'm not thinking positively enough. Or maybe the recession is not the resut of wayward spending and corrupt companies but rather that "we" collectively were drowning in a sea of negative thoughts.

I definitely feel that I could do myself a service by wallowing a bit less but I find it hard to believe that Paris Hilton thinks more positive thoughts than I do or puts more "good vibes" out into the world and is
therefore reaping the benefits of it.

I'm going to commit myself to making sure that I treat people with love and respect. That's what I can control. And I'll continue to work towards my goals. But I don't think anything is handed to anyone. Hopefully, that's enough for this life and any others.

17 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #61

#61: Perfect Day

As I've said before, I don't get a lot of perfect days anymore. Working with students sometimes leaves me over-emotional and temperamental. But today I had a perfect day. I washed and conditioned my hair. I laid in bed and (re)read some of my favorite books. I ate splendidly. I later styled my hair while watching Lifetime movies and I even managed to do two loads of direly needed laundry.

I still have plenty of errands to run this weekend but for the most part this was exactly the day that I needed before going into a week that is going to be pretty hectic.

It might not sound like much but this is pretty much my idea of a perfect day. I'm easy :)

15 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #60

#60: No Air

Breathe easy
Take it slow
Don't let the frenzied movement guide your steps

Nothing was ever achieved without thought

Let your limbs take over
Let them ease into the softness of the world
Ignoring the rough places.

Push towards the sky
Grab hold and let your calm take you
To heights you never dared

Never toss nor turn
Or let the bracken take hold
Of your heart

I hear it all
From far away like dying bells
As I drown

No Air by the cast of Glee

14 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #59

#59: Happenstance

Today when I was waiting for the bus a woman came up to me and asked me for a cigarette. She looked a bit degenerate but I pulled out my iPod headphones and informed her that I didn't smoke. She then asked me if I had prayed to Jesus Christ and confessed my sins. I told her I hadn't. She asked me if I read the Bible. At this point I was amused. I said no (even though I have). She then told me that she prayed that I would not end in Hell and walked away.

Now aside from the fact that this interaction started with her asking me for a cigarette and that I'm almost certain she lives on the streets, what right does this woman have to judge my spiritual choices? One of the primary problems I have with religion is the judgment. It's not that I don't believe there's a higher power, I just don't believe that because you adhere to that you automatically get the right to speculate on what that higher power would think.

I believe in love. I believe that miracles can happen. I believe Santa Claus makes miracles happen at Christmas. I believe that some things are just coincidence and other things are fated. I believe in love at first sight. And at the end of the day, I believe in treating people how you want to be treated. That's what's going to gt me far in the world.

13 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #58

#58: Packed House

Now that we've had a few weeks of new television, I thought I'd give my list of shows I'm loving, shows that are languishing on the DVR and others that have been deleted altogether.

My two busiest nights are Sundays and Thursdays. Sundays are comedy and drama. Animation Domination on FOX (Simpsons, The Cleveland Show, Family Guy, and American Dad) brings the funny as well as Calfornication. And the drama comes with Dexter, Brothers & Sisters and Cold Case. Rounding it all out is The Amazing Race. And until this week's finales there was also Army Wives and Drop Dead Diva. Combined that's 8 1/2 hours. The animated shows usually chill on the DVR until Monday morning while Cold Case and The Amazing Race I enjoy watching the night of. The rest stick around until Tuesday or the weekend.

Thursdays, there's Supernatural, Flashforward, Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice
(both of whom have earned "night of" status because of their brilliant season openers), Fringe and Bones. Luckily, Fringe and Bones are both on Hulu, but they've unfortunately been relegated to weekend viewing.

Glee, Modern Family and Cougar Town have also earned coveted "night of" status because after the long crazy Wednesdays that I have, I need to laugh. And seriously, if you are not watching at least 2 of these three shows something is wrong with you.

Mondays are hard. I love all the shows that are on Monday but it's hit or miss with some of my favorites like Gossip Girl and Big Bang Theory. How I Met Your Mother has been great though, especially since Robin and Barney got together. And they still bring exciting extras like ItWasTheBestNightEver.com.

Friday has become another hit or miss night. Although Dollhouse is really building on the mythology of the show, some of the engagements have been less interesting. And one of my favorites, Numb3rs, has actually become formulaic to me.

There are some shows that still have legs though. I was hoping to drop 90210 but it's been exceptional this season. On the flip side, some of the shows I was excited about have fallen by the wayside. Castle has become a show that I try to catch but I rarely succeed. One Tree Hill, though promising is also a "try but don't cry" if I miss it show. And then there's the new shows. Eastwick has peaked my attention so I'm trying to catch up on ABC.com. But Melrose Place, and ABC's new comedy block are non-starters for me. FOX also has a new comedy called Brothers but given that it was buried on Fridays, I don't hold out hope. Finally, NBC is dead to me. The shows suck and they won't let the cast of Glee perform at the Thanksgiving Day parade
out of fear. The only show I watch on that network is 30 Rock and I'd much rather watch it on Hulu. I also get DirecTv, so I'll be watching Friday Night Lights when it returns on October 28th and I get to bypass NBC's premiere in January.

12 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #57

#57: Good Hair

If you haven't heard, hair is a big thing in the Black community. When I graduated college, I was going coming off of a spring that included at least 3 major papers, an important family death and a belabored illness. Needless to say, I cut off all my hair.

I still refer to that as my Grown & Sexy summer. At first, I thought I'd lost my mind and I looked like a boy. But that was far from the response that I got.

After my hair started to grow out, I wore it mostly in twists. And for the past few years, it's gotten stronger and healthier. But I tend to get restless.

For the past few weeks, I've been wearing my hair in a kind of crinkled 'fro. I'll admit
that I definitely went through times where I complained about my hair. I wanted it to be straight, or curly or more manageable or longer. But I don't think I've ever thought of my hair as bad. When I think about all the things that my hair has been through, even in just the past few years, I know that despite it all my hair is strong and beautiful. I'm excited to see Chris Rock's film, Good Hair, because I love to explore the issues of hair. What I hope is that when people see the movie they don't ome away feeling ashamed of their hair decisions but instead feel empowered. Because ultimately it's about feeling good.

11 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #56

#56: A Post Before Midnight

Trying to stay on task and sneak this one in under the wire. Weekends are always the hardest for me because it's the time when I tell myself I'm going to do a bunch of stuff but mostly I like to veg out and figure out what I can make out of the scraps in my fridge.

Mentally, I try to prepare for the upcoming week but that's overshadowed by the fact that physically I do next to nothing. Here's a list of all the things I should've done this weekend that will now be shoe-horned into my week:

1. Figuring out what I need to stock my fridge and actually going grocery shopping
2. Laundry (which can't be done til I go grocery shopping and get detergent)
3. Straighten up, so I don't spend the next week dropping my clothes wherever they land
4. Budgeting
5. Organizing all the things I need to mail to various and sundry family members
6. Creating handouts for students

And so I'm going to take a deep breath, console myself with the fact that I did get lots of sleep and that unlike last week I'm not starting this week with 5+ hours of DVR'ed shows. And I got this post in with 5 minutes to spare.

100 Issues for 100 Days: #55

#55: Black and White

Last night, I attended our school's gala event. It was a nice night, even though I spent a good amount of it running up and down the stairs helping out and even helping a woman who passed out.

Given the theme of the night (black & white) and the nature of the event (very rich people spending obscene amounts of money), I found myself pondering dichotomies.

Rich vs. Poor: One of my colleagues likened our new building to a person who buys really nice clothes on sale. I wonder if I'm misrepresenting myself. Even though I could hang with the best of them, in a gorgeous Rachel Pally jersey dress, I definitely wasn't at the level of those in attendance. Although I wanted to win some of the auctioned items, inwardly I cringed watching people spend thousands of dollars.

Young vs. Old: Aside from the students also working the event, I was probably one of the youngest people in attendance. Once again, I can hang with the best of them but there's a definite line between who was there to contribute and who was there with their mom.

Black vs. White: After the event, some of my colleagues and I went to a local bar, Radio. We all dance and enjoyed ourselves, even though we were horribly overdressed, but I was the only one who could recite the words to all of the old-school hip hop songs playing.

I wrote yesterday that I'm happy to have friends who can straddle both sides of these dichotomies. But that doesn't mean I don't notice them.

10 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #54

#54: M is for Margarita

Due to a pitcher of margaritas I didn't get the opportunity to update last night. But I did walk away with some insight. I've been talking a lot about how I'm in a rut. And it's true.

But it's not a bad thing. I like that the people in my life can maneuver seamlessly between Project Runway and Obama's Nobel Peace Prize. I enjoy my crazy students. I like how I can manipulate them (not in a bad way just enough to get them to participate).

Tonight, I'm going to a fundraising gala for my school. It should be interesting. And maybe I'll get a margarita.

08 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #53

#53: And So It Goes ...

Yesterday I was writing about apathy and today my faith is (somewhat) restored. But that just goes to illustrate one of the problems with being a teacher. When you work with a bunch of hormone-loaded teens, you start to act like them.

It's not like I'm going around being mercurial with people but I definitely experience the daily ups and downs that I remember from high school. In a way, it makes me feel compassion for what they're going through. I recall returning to my room at the end of the night feeling as if I'd run a marathon. And it was all due to emotions. Sometimes my mood would change by the hour.

So I get it. I get what teenagers are going through because sometimes I want to throw them through a window, and other times I just want to give them hugs. And luckily, since our K-12 school is now housed in one building I get to experience the purity and sweetness of the younger kids. Not that they're all perfect but you're much less likely to get an indignant "Why?" from a third-grader.

And today was a good day. I got some of my students to really pitch in and help me plan an event. And another helped me put together a bulletin board. Today there was a feeling of excitement that couldn't be dampened by the few who were apathetic. Today was a good day.

07 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #52

#52: Apathy

Today I hosted a fashion show for our Afterschool Program. Originally planned for the high school, it ended up being mostly attended by the middle and some elementary students. In a way it was a success. The high school band played. The models enjoyed themselves and so did the attendees but there were some snafus and a lot of it comes down to apathy.

always ask me is California different than NY and I want to smack them for two reasons, because: 1) of course it's different and 2) any way, besides the obvious, that it's different is hard to put into words. But when talking about children or students, it's really easy for me to pinpoint the differences.

First and foremost, West Coast kids have been taught that they do not have to give respect to adults. They've been taught that people have to earn their respect whereas on the East Coast for the most part you're told that adults have the respect until they lose it. Now if a child was being willful or openly disrespectful and I was in NY, I'd think "that child has no home-training", here I think "that child was probably told that by their parents".

Secondly, children here are far more entitled. Even though I think there's been a general uptick in entitlement over the past decade, here it's an epidemic. The things I've had students basically demand without any sort of recognition or effort on their part is astounding. It boggles the mind. But it's hard to tell a child that hard work matters when they get brand-new iPods for "D" grades.

But the most annoying thing is the apathy. One of the characteristics that I enjoy about California schools is the idea that we want to give kids a voice and empower them to make decisions. What frustrates me is that when "opinion" and "entitlement" collide you get "apathy". Basically, everything I do is "wrong" but when you look for solutions or ideas, it's still "wrong". Everyone wants to tell you what they
don't want to do, but no one knows what they do want to do. And it's not every student. Those who did get involved today had a great time but right now, I've hit my level of apathy. I'm done.

If you have any suggestions let me know, because I'm just about through.

06 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #51

#51: Closer

Some times it feels like I'll never go pass here
Some times it feels like I'm stuck forever and ever
But, I'm going higher
Closer to my dreams

There's a lot of opportunity out there. Even in this economy there's lots o ways to create opportunity and sometimes I don't feel like I'm living up to my potential.

Leaving all my fears to burn down
Push them all away so I can move on
Closer to my dreams

Part of it is the fear of failure. Another part is the fear of funds. Even working pretty steadily I've had to struggle so if I strike out on my own and it doesn't work, what happens then?

Stretching out my arms so I can reach

I've been looking at some fellowships as well as trying to design my own curriculum and workshops that places might be interested in. I feel like it's achievable.

Some times it feels like you never gon' change

But then there's the self-doubt and the fatigue. After a full day working, it's hard to thinking about completing an application (hell it's hard to write an entry for this blog). And I've been looking at business schools and they are honestly running a racket. Between the fees to take the test and to apply ... one simple phrase "systemic oppression".

I'm going higher and higher and higher
Closer to my dreams

I think I'm getting there but I have to continue to push myself. I feel like things are within reach. I just have to jump a little higher.

To listen to Goapele's Closer go here.

05 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #50

#50: Miles To Go Before I Sleep

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep
- Robert Frost

I'm halfway there. To be honest, I didn't think that I'd make it this far. The thought of trying to update a blog every single day for a hundred days is pretty daunting. And I know my life is not that interesting. But some good things have come from this.

I feel like when I discuss something in my blog it pushes me to follow through on it. So even if no one is reading, if I say I'm going to do something, I go out and do it. Before, I might've just stayed in the house since no one would know anyway.

It's also been helpful to put my thoughts down somewhere. Whenever I start to live too much in my head, writing down my thoughts here has helped.

And finally, there's something about writing that once the dam bursts, it's hard to get it under control again. I've been writing much more than I did before and I think it's because of the blog. I once took a class where the assignments were "2 pages, of anything, by tomorrow". At first it seemed daunting but later I'd fill pages beyond that. That's how I feel now. This started as a daunting task, and sometimes it still is, but I'm writing more than ever.

Now I've got promises to keep (50 more days) and miles to go before I sleep.

04 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #49

#49: Love Unconditional

Other than my mother and brother, these are the two people I love the most in the world; my great-grandmother and my grandfather. My great-grandmother died about 5 years ago. My grandfather lives in a home in North Carolina now. Ever since I've moved out to Cali, I haven't been able to see him because when I go to the East Coast, I don't have the time or money to go to NC. His birthday was October 2nd. I've always said that if I were to kill someone, my granddad would help me hide the body, no questions.

Some of my favorite memories are of the little, green house in Hertford, North Carolina. They say you can never go home, but I go home all the time. The place I can't go is back there because my grandma and granddad aren't there anymore. I wrote this poem the first time I went back to that house after my great-grandfather (Granddaddy Bud) died.

The Color Green

A lifetime of staring out of that small bathroom window
Sinking my feet into the grass to stop the perpetual motion of the white swing
Fresh-painted shutters and trim that never seemed to change
Laying in the old dented mattress
Hard footstes across a tender floor in the early morning
Perception and belief molded through stained glass
Scrapes, bruises, cuts and stains
White crested waves slapping the shore
Swimming in the warm folded shirts
The sunsets on the little green house
Where the dusk meets the earth

100 Issues for 100 Days: #48

#48: Dreaming of You

I'm a dreamer. I always have been. I spend a lot of time daydreaming and that's what I spent all day doing.

Most often than not, I dream about love. I create stories in my mind. Some times I insert myself into my favorite stories or tv shows or movies. Other times I create stories out of thin air. Occasionally, I write it all down.

I wonder if my daydreams are harmful. If living in that world makes this world not good enough. If it's immobilizing. But I can't give up my dreams. They're too much fun :)

02 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #47

#47: First Fridays

First Fridays are the night when I get to experience Oakland and it's over-21 denizens for free. Tonight, I hung out at Oakland Art Murmur, a basic free for all of art, booze and crunchy Oakland types.

The thing I like about First Fridays, is that it's also the night when I run into people I know. Similar to going to Kings Plaza in Brooklyn, there's no way I can go out on a Frist Friday and not run into someone I know. It makes me feel like I'm a part of this community.

I saw some great art tonight as well and if I had an extra $100-$600, I would have gladly purchased some paintings or sculptures. The other good thing was meeting friends of friends. As I continue to try to "expand my social circle", it's good tht I meet more people. I might be attending a Shabbat pretty soon. And I love latkes :)

100 Issues for 100 Days: #46

#46: Hot Mess

Top 3 Things that are a Hot Mess

#3 - My Apartment
Every single week I tell myself I'm going to clean up and it doesn't happen. I have things I need to mail buried under papers that need to be thrown out and it's officially, a hot mess.

#2 - My Love Life (a.k.a. The Lack Thereof)
I'm really unexcited about dating right now. I want to but I've found no one even remotely interesting. There's not even anyone to fantasize about lately. It's just disappointing.

#1 - The World
The past couple of weeks I haven't had the time to read the news regularly but the stories that have trickled in have been ultimately depressing. A 16-year old honor student who is beaten to death by people his age, hundreds of people killed in an earthquake in Indonesia and an apparent arsonist that is terrorizing Oakland. It seems like every day, there's more that proves just how much of a hot mess everything is.

01 October 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #45

#45: Atonement

I'm searching for atonement
I'm looking for someone to tell me it's ok
To watch a child being beaten for having
Light-skin and long hair

I'm hoping someone will tell me
It's not my fault that I didn't jump in
And save the day
That I haven't seen the day
When I am afraid of children

I'm asking for forgiveness

For every time I fell short and
Let my short fuse lead a child astray
For the days I lost my patience
Because sometimes I'm scared
I'll end up a patient in a mental hospital
Screaming about back in the day
When things were cool
And the kids knew their place

I'm looking for empathy
For someone to tell me that
I wasn't wrong when I let that curse slip by
Or turned up the music in my headphones
Cause each curse word was like a knife wound
And I was tired of getting stabbed
Just riding the bus

The truth is I cry on the inside
When I hear ignorance
But sometimes I let it slip by
Cause I'm tired

I'm diving for absolution
I want to come up from the depths of my despair
Holding it like pearls
A buried treasure
That I've buried forever because the truth is that I'm afraid

Sometimes I am scared of the youth
And that outweighs my fear for the youth
The truth is that sometimes I'm a coward
And sometimes my bad days slip over into the good
So my hope floats away and I just want to
Turn up the music in my headphones and make it go away

Cause I ain't birthed no babies
And sometimes I'm tired of being a parent
To children who don't realize they don't have one

So I fumble for grace
A space where I can glory in the successes and not dwell
On the failures
But then the guilt rises like tides within me
Ebbing and flowing
Cause I can't let go of the hard cases
Those hard heads that have so much potential
Like torrential downpours
I cry tears and ask for clemency
A chance to demonstrate to me,
Myself and I
That I deserve the reprieve

Cause in the end
No one can forgive me
But me