Monday, May 21, 2012

two things.

Oh GOD, I'm on a mood roller coaster lately. I broke out in stress hives last night! Attractive!

Anyways, here are two additional things (aside from all of the other things) that are making me emote today.

One. HappySad: a very sweet farewell combining Kirsten Wiig, Win and Règine Butler, Mick Jagger and Amy Poehler...

Two. SadSad: Indian Boundary's field house burned down yesterday.

Photo from
Half of my childhood memories take place in and around this building. My mom and I would feed bits of stale bread to the ducks at the pond there. We used to save up the pieces in a bag in the freezer. (Do NOT feed the ducks bread. Incredibly bad for them).

I went to preschool in that building. And art class. And Chicago Children's Choir rehearsals. I remember being in one of its rooms diligently practicing number writing, not understanding why a nine had to face a certain direction.

A: Because otherwise it's a P, dummy!

I was still very young when the clunky rusted-metal equipment on the playground got replaced by a wooden maze the neighborhood pitched in to build. Is there anything better as a kid than tepees and secret passages and hideouts? There is not. The entire playlot was like the best treehouse in the biggest tree.

Photo from A Chicago Sojourn
The field house was a beautiful old 1920's Tudor style building that had landmark status. I know people will work tirelessly to restore it, but today it feels like a loss. I wish I would have gone back into the building at least once since I grew up.

Photo from the Chicago Park District

I grew up.

How strange that feels.

P.S. Additional disheartening Chicago news: a walk around our neighborhood yesterday revealed that some IDIOT tagger defaced two of my fave Lincoln Park landmarks: the Wrigley Mansion and the statue of William Shakespeare. IDIOT.

(I pledge to be more positive the next time I post. Probably because it will be summer by then.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

you're doing it wrong: obama edition.

So, I don't have an "About Me" page because a) the three people that check this know me, and b) I can't come up with anything to write that doesn't make me feel like a weirdo.

But here's some background necessary for the rest of this post.  I'm twenty-seven years old. I've lived in Chicago my entire life, except four years just north of the border at Northwestern. Until college, I was educated exclusively at public schools. I stood in Grant Park on the night of November 4, 2008, electrified with hope and pride. I have a Masters degree in Elementary Education, and my philosophy on teaching and children would be categorized as progressive.  When I felt called to this profession (and honestly, maybe I felt more called to children than I did to a teaching "career"), I knew with certainty that I would only work in the Chicago Public Schools. It was where I came from, and it always feels nice to go home.

I've been a teacher for three years. They have been, without doubt, the hardest years of my life-- and this is coming from someone who lived with an unmedicated & violent bipolar parent, has had depression since childhood,  and dealt with eating disorders for seven years. Not complaining, just facts. "About Me," remember?

I expected them to be hard; to teach well is hard. But this school year has gone above and beyond on the difficulty factor. I'm a sensitive person by nature. I take things personally and feel things deeply.  And to see elected officials in this city-- people I once admired-- spin and politicize and posture almost daily in the media about what the teachers are doing wrong makes me sick. Literally.

This fall, I had so many panic attacks that I went from taking one type of medication to taking three just to function. The work-related anxiety and pressure I felt were through the roof. There were serious conversations in this apartment about a quick city hall marriage (not at all what we have envisioned for our wedding) so that I could quit mid-year and keep Kevin's benefits. I did not know what to do. I didn't think I would make it.

I've made it. But almost every day I read or hear something about how teachers are lazy, with their fat pensions and summers off and bloated salaries. I have no doubt that some teachers are lazy, with fat pensions, who take their summers off and collect a tidy little sum. But I don't know any of those people. They're not at my school; they're not the people I went to grad school with.  The people I know work 7 to 5, just like me. They spend several weeks of the summer planning and preparing and organizing. They work through lunches and work at home and on weekends.

So every time I see that generalization being made, I feel a little more devalued, a little more less than. Everything I do feels a little more futile.

To be quite frank, there is a small part of me that is angry that I didn't know better. My whole life, I've been successful when it comes to traditional schooling. I was the first person in my family to go to college. I was supposed to be "successful" when I grew up. So how did I screw up so royally when it came to choosing a profession? Why are people I went to school with who work the same hours I do making salaries that are tens of thousands more than mine? Why am I working so hard when people don't respect what I doI should be more successful, I tell myself. I shouldn't be in this situation. 

But I am. And even with all of the garbage swirling around teaching right now, there are still those moments that make it worth it. My students walked in on Monday morning with a huge vase of flowers and dozens of ridiculous and sparkly handmade cards. Someone made me the Emerald City out of Play-Doh. Why? Two reasons. One, my kids are super cute and two, it's National Teacher Appreciation Week. I had no idea. 

For that morning, I felt better about what I do again. I remembered why I do it.

This morning, I learned that the President issued a proclamation on Monday. It was to declare this week-- this week-- National Charter School Week.  If you're not familiar with education, the move to charter (basically to privatize) education is a very political, divisive issue.  The President made a political statement that was a slap in the face to  to many at a time when teachers are being blamed for a NATION'S failure... on the one week that was supposed to be about celebrating all teachers, regardless of what school you're teaching in.

Obama? You're doing it wrong. 

*Obama's daughters attended an expensive progressive private school while they lived in the city, not a public charter school. The Mayor sends his children to the same private school; one that emphasizes learning over test scores. The latter is the Mayor's main concern for Chicago's school district-- as long as it's not his children that are affected by it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

all you need to know about friday night at our place.

Kevin just got back from an two day overnight field trip, and my new thing is getting a chicken. Not a full coop until we have a house and backyard, but just a chicken. Tonight's Google searches have included "can I keep a chicken as a pet?" and "chicken diapers."  He is so happy to be home.

P.S. My research led me to find that Flannery O'Connor had her first brush with fame after teaching her chicken to walk backwards as a child in Georgia. 

Film still of Mary (Flannery) O'Connor from British Pathé

 Chickens: a girl's first step toward literary greatness.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

hot chicks

Hey girl, where've you been all my life?


It's the time of year when our first floor becomes a hatchery.  I maintain there is no better way to start a day than holding a baby anything, chicken especially.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

great and terrible.

The first weekend Kevin and I were together we spent a solid amount of time shyly holding hands and roaming around Borders, which was right up my alley.  I knew I was done for right then & there.

At the time, he was directing a production of Alice in Wonderland and I was teaching The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Since then, we've built up a collection of various versions of each book.

I came home to a surprise Amazon box today with this inside: 

It's from the Penguin Threads line. Jillian Tamaki did the first three last year, as you saw at an Anthropologie near you. The artwork for this one is by Rachell Sumpter, and is one of three new additions to the series. You can see the rest here.  The embroidery looks incredibly realistic, and both the front and back cover are embossed.  My favorite discovery was the inside covers which show the backs of the original embroidered pieces, like the threads on the back of the tag in your shirt.

 On great and terrible days like today, it's the little things that get you through.