Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Teaching Log: Resistance To Change? Or Simplicity?

Our school is working on having a more consistently laid-out curriculum, mainly in literacy. (We already have a math program that we follow pretty closely.)

We keep talking about how hard it is to constantly reinvent the wheel, and that it would be so much better to have a scope and sequence laid out for the year.

For some reason I keep finding myself getting defensive, not wanting to do this.

Is it because I like things to be hard? Because I like to create my lessons myself? Or because I remember my master's program focus on avoiding scripted curricula?

Exploring this is good for me.

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Disappointed

This morning I got up extra early to do yoga.

Just as I was about to pull out my mat, ND woke up almost an hour early.

In the end I managed to get just 10 minutes in, with her "helping me" which is great some days but not what I wanted today.

But I wasn't going to let that get me down, because Monday night is my actual yoga class. I haven't been to it in weeks, but today I was totally committed to going.

I planned my whole afternoon and evening around it including triple checking that U. would be home on time to watch ND and eating early etc.

But ND didn't nap and was exhausted, so she flipped out when she saw I was leaving her.

In a rush I got her ready for bed so I could be with her for that. I kept watching the clock. If she fell asleep any later than 6:30, I would have to call of the yoga class. She was out at 6:29.

So I raced to the car and the 20-minute drive to the class. When I got there, there was only one other car in the parking lot. I called the machine to discover that not only tonight was cancelled, but that all evening classes are cancelled from now on.

I can't tell you how let down I felt.

So I came home and did my own thing, using a yoga video, but I can tell you it was not the same. I feel sad and just want to go to bed now.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Planning or Worrying

It's Tu B'Shvat, the New Year for the trees.

The sap is rising quietly and the sun is starting to actually melt the snow, instead of just make an appearance.

We're over halfway through the schoolyear.

It occurs to me that the first half of the year, while stressful and busy, contains a certain amount of security. The goal is to establish things as well as possible before that Winter Break.

Now we're finishing up, in a certain way. It's a marathon to the end and I already know most of what I'm teaching.

Which means summer is coming too. And around here, many people's summer plans are already set by now.

So I'm feeling a sense of panic...

-over things I wish I could do differently this school year, such as doing a book log that we've only just invented and that I don't feel like starting now, and like having better writing instruction.
-over what to do this summer... trip to Portland? trip with U? both? do my camp as well?

I'm taking a sick morning and just did the restorative Hatha flow on myyogaonline. It did bring me just a little bit back to the present... help me remember to take one day at a time.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

In Time For Valentine's Day

Lately ND is into "friends."

"You be my friend?" she'll ask?

"Dada be my friend?"

Once when she was angry at me, she swung at me and yelled, "You're not my friend!"

We both got over it.

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Poetry Pole

I got a letter from my Portland Poetry Partner yesterday. (She's a teacher I used to know in the school where I used to work. We used to send poems to each other regularly.) She told me that as retirement gift, one of our colleagues gave her a Poetry Pole which was installed at the school.

I'm not sure I entirely understand what it is. I want to ask her to send me pictures. She said it's like those boxes you see realtors putting out that you can open and take a sheet of paper out. But that this is homemade and beautiful. I imagine some sort of display case for poems but am unsure of how many and whether people take them, leave them, or both.

I did find a youtube video of a poetry pole in Yakima. It's a nice idea, art in the public realm.

I was thinking about how it would be neat if we had one of these at my school, but people do things very neatly at my school, and I would want to allow this to be sloppier. (That said, I already have a poe-tree in my classroom where I hang a few poems now and then. There is also a bulletin board where the kids hang theirs... it can withstand lots of hands touching it better than my little lemon tree can.)

I would prefer one closer to the home part of my life, I think, but maybe not right now.

I'm almost finishing compiling an anthology of my own work that U. is helping me publish. I'm at the stage now of removing poems I don't want others to see after all.

It's a tricky process. There are some fairly private pieces... some about relationships, for example. Also, I've had some highly emotional periods of my life that include obsession about certain topics and I wrote and wrote and wrote at those times. I'm embarrassed by obsession as it feels so out of control, and yet I don't wish to censor myself. So I select one poem from a series and include it, hoping the art in my work will speak louder than the fact of my speaking it and somehow be okay.

I'm also unsure of how certain friends or family may receive certain poems as they may contain parts of my life that I don't discuss openly.

Yet there they are. And I don't wish to censor myself.

I hide behind my writing, and yet I like an audience to my life. This is a brave experiment.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Where Am I Wearing?

I mentioned Where Am I Wearing? awhile ago in this blog entry. I finished reading it yesterday.

To begin anything I have to say about it, I want to point out just how cool it is that the author of the book actually left a comment on that last entry.

How awesome is that! I've had that happen a few times now... authors of books I've written about, or owners of the gDiaper company etc. seeing I've written about them on my blog because of my links.

Kelsey Timmerman talks in this book about shortening the gap between producer and consumer and that's partly what's happening when an author is able to comment on my blog because I've mentioned him at all!

Anyway, he wanted to know what I think, so I'm going to try to respond to that.

To begin... I'm very grateful for this book. It's both accessible for someone like me... mom who frankly would usually prefer to just enjoy some fiction with my few minutes of reading time each week. At the same time, it's so reasonable the things he has to say, refusing to look at anything in black and white, but instead telling the stories of real people in our world and the way they really live. He takes the time, too, to share his occasional feelings of guilt about our way of life here by comparison. When he does that, I feel better about myself too. If I don't, the guilt can become so overwhelming that it's too easy to shutdown and give up on trying to figure out "the right thing."

When I was in TX, my grandmother made a reference to the blog entry I link above. She spoke to me about the way her life was in the Depression. She was dirt poor and had to work hard just to survive.

She told a story of working for days on end washing a woman's windows. In the end of her hard work, she went to the woman who only gave her an old lady's dress in payment.

My grandmother was upset -- and rightly so. But her mother told her not to fret about it, and they undid the dress and remade it into a new one.

My grandmother talks about how she learned from her mother how to take what you have and work with it and not to judge that woman harshly because also must have been poore.

She also talked about a cafe in which she worked that didn't pay her enough. But, she said, if people boycotted the cafe, she would have had nowhere to work.

And I see her point with those things. I see the point of doing what you can with what you can. I see the point of not boycotting irresponsibly.

And the same time, we are so incredibly powerful in the U.S., just by being consumers. And if we take that power for granted, we're both stupid and irresponsible.

All of these things are true. One does not outweigh another.

At the end of the book, Kelsey (I'm using his first name instead of his last because it feels more friendly, now that we're sort of almost communicating directly...) lists some things you can do depending on your goals. He talks about researching where your clothes come from, circumstances under which you might want to just buy American products etc. I hesitate to list too many thoughts because I really hope to encourage others to read the book.

But I do want to share my plan.

I like when I buy second hand because I feel it is better for the environment. So sometimes that's the thing I want to do and in fact I got 5 shirts at Goodwill the pther day for just $25.

But then I'm not using my consumer power as well. So sometimes I want to shop for good quality stuff that I can trace and that I'm willing to pay good money for. This includes buying organic goods when I can etc.

But when I just need some STUFF... t-shirts or whatever, I think I might sometimes just have to go to Target. If I do that, I think I'll choose to buy things not from China if possible... I was never fans of our relationship with that country, regardless of what I read in this book.

If I buy a t-shirt that was made in a country where someone had to work very very hard making it, just to make ends meet, I'd like to offset the damage that is being done within the system. By buying the shirt, I'm helping them continue a job, even if it's not a job I would want. But I want to make it possible that that person could get another job someday. So I would want to give an equal amount of money to an organization that gives loans to women trying to start up a business. (In the past I've already given tzedakah to FINCA.)

Not that I buy a LOT of clothes, but I'm trying to make smart choices, and maybe inspire those around me to do the same.

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Reunion


Facebook has come in handy once again.

I discovered on there in the past months two friends from Corvallis that I knew when we were LITTLE kids, like maybe even toddlers. We knew each other through the Jewish community.

The last I saw of one of them was after high school graduation in 1994, and the other I saw maybe once when I was on a trip home from Oberlin.

We know a little of our ups and downs over the years but got a chance to catch up on NOW and just be together.

They both live in NY now... fancy that... and we met up today with our significant others and, of course, with ND. The 7 of us met at a Kosher vegetarian Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, completely forgetting that this week is the week of the Chinese New Year. The place was packed and we had to stand in line for awhile to get a table. But outside the parade went by! So I got 2 hours of reminiscing and good food, and then we got dragons and confetti too!

Sadly we all forgot our cameras, except that C.'s boyfriend later remembered he had one on his phone and took the one above outside as we watched the parade. Sadly my other friend is not in the picture, but maybe we'll try again sometime.

U and I were talking together yesterday about the TV show Friends and how it represents a generation of people who have become disconnected from their families in some way and are sort trying to recreate it, both in good and bad ways, through friendships. My Corvallis friends and I are so far from home and C. remarked that this is like family. It really brought tears to my eyes. She's right. Even after 15 years.

When we went to get the car from the parking garage there was a crush of people waiting, so U stayed while ND and I went across the street to a little park. We got a full cultural experience as we walked past a fortune teller, two shoe repairmen and a watch battery replacer all on the sidewalk. Inside the park were chess tables, but the men playing at them were not playing chess, but something with round Chinese tiles. One table was particularly intense with over a dozen men watching carefully.

We don't get to the city much. This was a good day.

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