The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Glass House Memoirs

Marc and I are watching Fat Kid Rules the World.  If you haven't seen it, it's a really funny movie about a fat kid who is about to commit suicide when a junkie punk rocker teen saves his life, in every respect of the word.

There's this club scene in it, where the fat kid is at his first show, and the band is of course pretty much just like every other garage band, but the kids in the club are jumping and cheering, because that's what it means to be young and love life.

And as I watched this scene, there was this great rush of memories of what it was like to be young and love life. Like those nights, where we'd drive around looking for parking for what seemed like hours and finally make it into the Whiskey (or the Key Club or the Roxy or the Glass House or the Chain Reaction or.... yeah.....) where we'd push our way as close to front as we could and stand shoulder to shoulder, waiting for (insert cool hard core band from 15 years ago here) to start playing. And when they did, we'd jump up and down and sing along because inevitably we would know every word (especially if it was Project 86... they usually started with "Stein's Theme," which I still remember lyrics to -- "You hate us 'cause we'll never go away. We're like some sort of fungus, growing every day." Classic hard core lyrics, if every there were any).  I'd check out all of the band members and decide which one I thought was cutest.  I'd get immeasurably excited if I was somehow close enough to feel droplets of his sweat as he shook his hair from stage. Those times when it happened to be AMR playing and I'd inevitably be tagging along with Marc, those were especially exciting times because I'd of course end up feeling like I was "with the band," and well... being "with the band" is pretty much the coolest thing ever.

Which reminds me of how markedly cool my husband was.  I will never forget how there was this band that was the super popular local band his senior year, "Needful Things," and they played  a concert for his 19th birthday party in his backyard, and that was like... awesome.  Which really speaks multitudes for how cool my in-laws are because, really... if I was somehow magically cool enough to get a band to play my party, my parents would never have said yes. My dad would be too paranoid that someone would call the cops.

I miss being young. I don't even know any small bands any more.  I only know the names I hear my students buzz about seeing at Warped Tour.

I'm Old.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Arts and Leadership

I haven't blogged much lately, and I have been trying to think of why. Truth be told, I have started blogs many times that I haven't finished and have deleted.  I am not sure what is going on in my head... but I am feeling more private than usual.  I normally rejoice in sharing my thoughts and feelings on my blog because I know that people who care about me read my blog (and maybe some people who don't really care about me... but whatever), and I am the type of person who appreciates the sense of community I feel from knowing that those around me know how I am feeling and what is going on in my life. Lately, however, I have felt a sense that the things I am excited about belong to me somehow and sharing them will somehow make them less special or perhaps will make me just a braggart or something like that.  But today, I feel like writing, so I am going to share some of the things occupying the space in my head. Forgive me if I am vague about them.

What occupies my mind....

Theatre theatre theatre -- This family eats, breathes, and sleeps the arts lately.  It is nearing crunch time with the show I am in, Willy Wonka, and Vinny had production week this week for Little Mermaid, plus, he also had his first rehearsal last week for Wizard of Oz, which he is really excited about.  Vinny now takes dance one day a week, but if it were up to him, he'd probably be at dance every day. He practices tap steps non-stop.  I'm not supposed to tell anyone that he wants to do ballet too. We can't really afford for him to take any more classes, but there are many he wishes he could take. With me, and Tiana, and Vinny all dancing now, well... it gets on the pricey side and we are far from rich.

Speaking of us all dancing, this week I am starting a ballet class for beginners. I am scared and excited. I don't know if I am more afraid of sucking at ballet or more afraid of just putting on a leotard and tights.  A little bit of both.

I know that some people probably think that I am somehow pushing all of this on Vinny to live vicariously through him, but this couldn't be further from the truth. He spent the entire week at the theatre doing field trip performances, but I made him go to school on Friday. He came home from school and by 4:00 was like, "Is it time to go to the theatre yet?  TWO MORE HOURS?  Oh man! That's a really long time!" He got home from his final performance tonight and tap danced down the hall. This kid does not stop.

On another note... a couple of weekends ago I saw a local production of bare the musical that continued to tear at my heart for days.  That is what good theatre should do.  It should leave you humming the lyrics and replaying key moments in your head all week.  That is for sure what that show does. After Wonka, I hope to audition for a drama.  I love the fun, lighthearted spectacle of Wonka, the larger than life wonderfulness of it all.  Next, I hope to do something deep.

What else is going on in my mind and life lately?

    Leadership. A year ago, I sat in the first part of an educational leadership class, and the teacher asked us  about leadership positions we could see ourselves in.  I honestly sat there thinking, "That's funny, because I was thinking of ways I could keep myself out of leadership positions." I had taken many pseudo-leadership positions in my early years of teaching, and not all of it worked out like I wanted it too. Most of it was just a lot of work, and I didn't really see it making much of a difference.  This year, however, I took on one key position that has actually lead to a lot of good things.

   Most importantly, some of my ideas about professional development have come to fruition this year. Yesterday, instead of hiring someone from outside to come do an expensive professional development workshop, we did a mini conference style professional development, and I lead a workshop on vocabulary development, which I repeated multiple times throughout the day.  It was a great experience.  I felt, probably for the first time, like I provided something valuable to the entire staff. Several people thanked me for my presentation, and I felt like everyone really got something out of it.  It was an incredibly exhausting day, but it really filled my cup... and it wasn't really that hard.  The wheels in my head are spinning.