Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tsotsi and a one-horned heifer

Today I felt a deep sense of shame that brought me yet again, close with those who suffer from daily doses of oppression. Cashless but with passes for my children to attend a traveling zoo and carnival (indoors, naturally), I was permitted into the arena of animal bliss to use the ATM to pull out cash for the entrance of the one adult in our party, myself. River was patiently adoring Pekin ducks while I was on the phone with my credit card company until I noticed two security guards approaching a bit sheepishly. They informed me that the ATM was out of cash and the I was to find some other way to come up with my own fare. River was horribly chagrined, as, afterall, he was IN! Thankfully, my dear friend arrived with her own two and some cash, having been forewarned. I had anticipated that a group of carnies would not be set up to manage cards, though the service is now renderable via smart phones... an each roving clerk at any Apple store carries portable ATM devices so you can purchase your MacBook Pro without approaching any kind of pay kiosk or waiting in line.
Albeit, we were back in and could more closely study the one-horned heifer, two elephants, enough ring-tailed lemurs to think you were being invaded by their reproductive rampage. The boys bounced within an inflated castle, rode miniature Mustang's on 60's era track. The little ones drank their mother's milk while their mothers recharged on borrowed french fries and talk of parrots and dromedaries.
After returning home to Padre, a homemade pizza later, the largest Thomas track I've ever witnessed (mind you, I don't attend Thomas trade-shows) had been constructed beside a fire, and we all watched River and Logan play while sipping wine and listening to a young prodigy play Beatles songs on the Tenor Sax. It was a good day, albeit strange.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Student Teaching Begins Tomorrow

I have always been the blessing and the curse as perceived by faculty. Though I was brought up as a product of teachers whose projections of how one is perceived in the school community factored into the rewards and punishments of my scholastic behavior, I tested my boundaries. Some teachers appreciated that my challenges made them work, and I feel that these are the students whose actions I will seek most for a source of vitality in my own teaching. Others were disturbed by the reality that they would have to stretch and be sharp.
As a female, I have always had a sensitivity to sexism even at a young age. So, I would be remiss if I didn't say that equity and even feminism in the young classroom marks good teaching. As empowerment is probably the most important message and gift, it should be delivered without distinction.
Good teaching requires a sharpness in the way of being concurrent with best practices as they reflect each new need. An invested interest in teaching as an art form rather than a paycheck is an antidote to teacher burnout and student struggles. Poor teaching is that which invites homegrown negativity, good teaching brings elements of the humanity/the reality of the teacher as a fallible person. I am a big fan of metacognitive teaching. I believe that a classroom in which the perspectives of the student are valued and invited into the rule-making and curricular building of the classroom. I believe in a mutual voice; one in which safe risk-taking is invited into conversation. I want students to understand boundaries that exist without feeling oppressed by authoritarian patterns they have learned to know in the American public school system so often.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Out on good behavior? I doubt it.

Folks, our son has entered yet another phase of maturity. The fourth wall, if you will, of his bed has been removed, and while a gate will exist to foil attempts at willfully crossing his very present threshold, what exists between himself and his world of toys (and my walk-in) is fine orange-hued air.
Throughout history and across many attended and gated boarders there have been many "great" escapes. In Ireland, in the early eighties, nearly 40 IRA inmates eluded Scotland Yard after taking guards hostage in their H-block and bypassing the 15 foot walls. This particular "joint" now has high wires positioned to prevent incoming helicopters after additional breakouts since. Another UK convict's accomplices positioned padlocks and screw-eyes to lock down guards to permit time to mysteriously pass beyond locked doors and 20 foot walls.
And, of course, there are the 14 escape attempts from the 34 inmates from Alcatraz most of whom were antipated and/or killed. However, there were those whom were never found. And those few who disappeared were, by default, believed to have been successful.

Toddlers are not put into high security prisons. They start out after settling into the walkability, by running away in the exploration of freedom and the celebration of finally being "fast" after months of being prone or reclined... subject to the whims of Mom or Dad, or whomever was permitted or interested in moving them. I have witness the many contraptions of Mama/Daddy wardens or guards in the form of those white plastic fences for kids, the excersaucers, the leash made to innocently portray a monkey backpack... the baby gate, the crib. Now, River has but one major manifestation of containment in the house (of the aforementioned list)... his baby gate. So, readers, beware of stories to come of night-marauding and heist; atleast someone in the house might be flattered by horizontal stripes.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Daddy's home

atlast, a talkative but placid babe whose first day of angst occured today amidst beautiful east coast heavy wet snow, was anxious until her Daddy returned home hungry for burgers and she hungry for Daddy's oil burner working-man smell. Doin' donuts in a mustang, throwin snowballs at undergrads, puttin the dog out in her sheep hair. It's a wonderful life indeed.
I wonder how Hank is? How I miss him, and please know, readers, don't ever be bullied into taking your cat away from your home... no matter how many .22's she has or how Dutchy she can behave.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A great woman and mentor, though sickeningly younger than I am (still in her twenties!), once told me that if she could lend one piece of maternal advice to all potential moms and those who have been at it for a while but who need all the help they can get, it would be this:

"pluck your eyebrows by day, in your rearview mirror. the kids are safe and immovable, and you have the natural light."

This reminds me of many things but one in particular. I recall driving from downtown Albuquerque to the Northeast Heights (nestled in Whiteness along the Sandia Mts.) to make my crew call of 6am at the house beside which Kevin Costner occasionally resided. We were filming a movie called War Boys. ( I would use my rearview or my visor mirror in my El Camino (my second, the blue one) to apply various bits of make-up to my eyes. This was horrendous for two reasons: I rarely put anything on my eyes other than a pair of Wayfarers (especially in PA winter glare), and I was only slightly attentive to the road. Why did a girl such as I who favor natural over painted do such disturbing things? Was it that she was opportunistically seeking to run into Mr. Costner at his mailbox? No, he certainly has an assistant to do such pedestrian tasks. Moreover, your author is not among the population of women who, since Bull Durham, fetishize Mr. Costner (see blogs written by Baby Boomers, please). Answer is, we must all practice out our stereotypical roles. I was also not a mother at that time (or I would have been sitting in my driveway plucking), though I wasn't far from initiation into the mothering role. In fact, it would be but one additional summer that I would be holding an unsoothable newborn in my arms watching the Beijing Olympics.
I guess my point is, ladies, live dangerously at times, but recognize that you will probably never meet Kevin Costner. Gents, live as simply and safely as possible... leave danger to woman. This way we can feed your bad jokes about women drivers!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It almost happened, well, two things almost happened: I almost didn't have linoleum under my downstairs carpets glued to my hardwood floor. Alas, there it was. Dad and I had painted the room.... as you may discern from the more golden hue of the room we're sitting together in. Not that I expect anyone to have memorized the coloration of the walls of my home. It was a two-day job, though it would have been ages longer had my Dad, former house-painter by Summer (teacher by every other season and sensibility), hadn't been "cutting in" and handling the more challenging details.
The other thing that almost happened was my commitment to attend an HGTV DesignStar casting call in Philly. Frankly, it could still happen, but the reality of it is that I have my own reality TV showcase here at home. My cast of miscreants and adoring fans; my family. Still, the headshots and application may serve as another self-reflection. Readers, keep posted... about removal of linoleum and television stardom.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

chilly night

I recently read a blog from a Philly artist who discusses a familiar phenomenon of suffering the cold
while bringing life back to a damp, spacious warehouse space. She inquires upon what sacrifices folks
make for their artwork.
I would certainly use this conversation in scholastic art curriculum as it invokes the reality of what
varying degrees of commitments exist beyond the familiar and the "normal." For many, the sacrifices of
creating art entail not only the stereotypical (wealth, stature, and security) but also the more abstract (common ground,
familial support, comfort of dwelling/workspace).
Then, I had thought about heat and warmth when considering
this time of year. Last night I dropped a dear friend off beyond my home after a wine evening with great
local women-friends (my link to another rural Berks County community and the forty-something crowd).
I had become so engrossed in conversation with my passenger that I passed several fueling opportunities
and began returning home with my fuel gauge dropped below E. The heat the surged through my body as
I attempted to read my car's signals, was I SLOWING!!!!, warmed my body to immeasurable temperatures,
and I thought about the monastic rituals of self - regulation.
My advice to the arts community in the Philly and more cold climate warehouse populations is to allow
that adrenaline to peak and, to make love... lots of it. Hormones are a great inner furnace!

You may check out the article at:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

heavy things

River's little cough is weakening and being replaced by the ever-present roar. My thesis proposal is
coming along in powerful surges. The yard is finally free, almost, of heavy scrap materials from Ryan's
business refuse. I helped him to lift a beastly compressor of sorts into my Baja and from my Baja into
his service truck. We celebrated by his comment that I didn't bother him by rather surprise him with
my aplomb.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Another small countdown

River has become captive to his cousin's fever and cough, so his waking hours are odd.
It tore up my heart to refuse to watch a movie with him that his Dad started at 5am.
After his pleas lost their volume, he asked to be taken back to bed; which relieved
everyone including Fern. The two babes still sleep now, and I will have to wait to see
how the dosages of Elderberry, Tylenol, Vitamin D drops, et al have helped.
Now that the holidays and their attached weekends are passed, I must return to my little
personal deadlines. The primary one being the completion of my Master's Thesis Proposol,
which I had intended to complete during the Summertime. I will begin from scratch, with
my notes and kept ideas, and type through with a new sense of clarity unclouded by the
final months of pregnancy during a record-breakingly hot summer (my excuse for this summer's incompletion).
Thankfully, one goal that I have already begun to achieve is to dedicate more time playing
games, building puzzles, and reading to the babes (River in particular).

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ten-year reckoning

It seemed only befitting, after running into an old roommate and acquaintance for the first time since 2001, that I recap what went on in my life in the last ten years. I have, naturally, omitted details and highlighted the general gist. I wish I could, and someday will, load more pictures of those years though I will only throw a few images up there in the margins to visually represent my story.

In 2000 I formally withdrew from Parsons School of Design (of The New School) and attempted to survive in Manhattan's Lower East Side (once known as Alphabet City before the gentrification and de-bumming of Guliani's days) on a video story salary. My folks rightly cut me off when I announced my intentions of dropping out. Ultimately, I packed up my items from the basement apartment and took up residence near the Philadelphia Museum of Art with a couple of guys; one, a horticulturalist who lived off of Campbell's tomato soup and online chess, the other, a bike messenger and embittered scholar of sixties folks music. I worked several jobs, saving every penny burning records and painting for entertainment, all in order to prepare for an indefinate tenure in Europe. I departed, alone in early 2001, for Italy, to connect with Sicilian family while not speaking much Italian. I was employed by a family with a loose connection to my U.S. lineage as a kind of barista and learned a good deal of the language as there was nary an English speaker. I ultimately traveled solitarily for six months throughout Italy, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary, France and Scotland, where I settled with an empty bankroll and a job as a chambermaid. I'd had a borrowed bicycle and was living in a B + B. One afternoon, after my tasks had been completed, I was eating lunch watching East Enders. The program was interrupted by live footage of the World Trade Tower attack of 9/11. In reaction to an unseemly guilt at my expatriatism, I borrowed funds from home, made a last stop in Paris to visit old NYC roommates, and returned to the States, shocked at the volume of America in the aftermath of the attack. Once again in Philly, I took up residence with a Philosopher from Columbia in a loft, began weight-training and cycling until a refridgerated box truck ran over my legs. I hung around for a while longer, recovered, road-tripped with two friends starting in Colorado (visiting my Godmother and her family)then from Seattle to Philadelphia... camping in Yellowstone and pulling up to Devil's Tower at dusk... this being my initiation into the West.

Here I must interject, as I would be remiss if I didn't comment that my incredibly supportive parents hosted me at each interim for periods of weeks and months while I pulled myself back together again (trying to decide if I should live in a Maine lighthouse, pursue pre-med, the PeaceCorps, etc.). They are incredible people, and I would post their pictures if my mother hadn't requested that she not be a part of anyone's Facebook (though a blog far trumps such networking sites as Myspace and Facebook).

After leaving Philly I once again pulled together all of my savings and moved to Seattle where I immediately
became entangled with an incredible art community. I co-ran a gallery once called Aftermath, and my former
roommate and co-conspirator now owns a thriving wine-bar/gallery called Vermillion. (

I reentered undergraduate-dom and became a theatre-production nerd. I earned a BFA in Performance Production,
focusing on Costume Design; which had been my initial goal when I'd been at Parsons in New York. For a while
I lived in a cabin on the Olympic Pennisula; shaved my waist-length hair, made award-winning blackberry wine,
learned how to exist off-the-grid, bought a 1967 Triumph, and ultimately became involved with an incredible
anarchistic community and a particularly brilliant botanist (whom I lived with on an oyster-ridden beachfront
property for about two years - all ramshackle and analogue recording equipment... long story there). I got myself a dog, Fern,
my first ever and moved back into Seattle before leaving altogether. It turned out that I was competing with
extremely engrained drug issues in my botanist, and I needed to get out of dodge.... and sort of dry out for
a while (as living in the Northwest is like living in a wet sock, at times).

So, with a pet snake named Abuela (forgot to mention that I adopted a Ball Python), Fern, and a Uhaul...
(my El Camino, the first of two, died) I moved to New Mexico in pursuit of solitude, dry high ground and
the film industry. I lived in a little village in the Pecos River Valley, called Villanueva. The town was
inhabited by 300 Chicanos and some sprinkled eccentric types like myself, adorned with cliff-edged Guadalupe shrines...
I was at 7200 feet in a two hundred year old adobe house. It was austere. I gardened, ran, subsisted on raw-food cuisine, and
hustled work while a member of IATSE, the film union. Somehow, in a land plagued by an excess of
good looking women and few, transient, men, I met my husband. He'd left Wyoming, his home state,
behind also in search of more amenable climes. I had been working as the designer on a film called
War Boys and co-running a costume rental business. Ryan and I quickly became engaged and
willfully pregnant... the whole thing happened pretty damn fast, actually. Our son, River, was born
in our little rental home in Albuquerque with an incredible midwife and hellishly long labor.

Just after River was born I dragged my husband, bolo tied, booted, and belt-buckled to PA to raise up
our boy alongside my nephew (my brother's son was born nine months prior) among other family.
I got into a graduate program, where I was also working as the graduate assistant for my department and earning a teaching
certification at Kutztown University (where my parents met during the Nixon administration).
We bought a big old drafty farmhouse on two acres, I completed my graduate work and am working
on my thesis (vvveeerrrrryyyy sllloooowwwwlllyyyy). Our daughter Ruby came along rather unexpectedly,
and she was born in my library in our home with a different but also quite capable midwife - shorter labor,
but still the hardest gig out there. We have a small apple orchard, a huge fire pit, and a kitchen open
24 hours a day. River is now 2.5 and has a limitless vocabulary, and my husband runs his own
HVAC company... he is still adjusting to small-sky living.

Well, that's the short of it. Thanks for letting me pour this out... Ryan saw me typing and asked if I was
writing a book before commenting that I like to blabber.