Archive for October, 2009

  • I am Consumable

    They don’t know it’s happening, but it is.  They certainly don’t see me watching it happen with a critical eye either.  Nor do they see me changing, but I cannot blame them for that one: the changing that is happening is an internal one.  I cannot blame them for any of them.

    My subjects are only five and six years old, and they have no idea that the interactions they have today will, in many ways, affect who they will become for the rest of their lives.  My inner anthropologist has reared its head and I can’t help but notice the subtle interactions of social hierarchy that my kindergartners display.  They are in an awkward position: they know nothing about what social power means, but somewhere deep in their subconscious, they know they want it.

    Already conspicuous consumption is a big part of their lives.  It’s never more apparent than on Halloween.  It makes me cringe to see them so young already deciding what’s cool and what’s not and forming opinions of their peers based on this.  Especially when none of them really understand what it means to be Michael Jackson when they decide it’s not the hip thing.  It hurts me greatest when I realize I’m the most prized possession of all.

    I am not a teacher and our kids know that.  Since it’s hard to explain to students so young what exactly I am and why, they just know me as my buddy’s special adult friend.  They know he is different, but they do not really understand why, nor why it demands so much attention from an adult.  They’re still young enough that they don’t see the ability gap.  They know he is different because we say he is, and because he doesn’t talk often and has so much modified furniture to help his tiny frame fit.  Bless them, they do not hold it against him.

    They volley for my attention.  They ask me questions about lots of things, more so than our teacher.  I think they feel more comfortable asking me the random questions since I sit at tables with them, and am with them during carpet time.  I occupy this strange in-between place.  Not teacher, not student, but someone who acts as both depending on the situation.  And that is where my own status endowment comes in: I’m the coolest of the students because I’m not a student.

    I don’t know how to deal with this.  My Classroom Dynamics class is also on the topic of social status and the influences it has on the classroom.  I made a status map of our classroom.  It broke my heart how easily I placed some at the top and some at the bottom.  They don’t know how in a few years time, the opinions they have formed of each other will determine everything about their school life.  They don’t know just how important being part of a clique will be.

    I can’t stop it.  I can only help it by, somewhat uncomfortably, giving what power I can to the students on the bottom of my list.

  • Our Health Care is Really Failing

    After our insurance company announced their premiums for next year, it officially became cheaper for me to spend two years in grad school earning a degree while staying on my parents’ health insurance than to pay for individual coverage.

    That’s right. My master’s is cheaper than health care. I can’t even come up with anything to say about it.

  • And It Ain't Over Yet

    It’s already proven itself to be a long week.  I picked up another grad class this week as F01 turned into F02. I love the class, but my work load is about as tough as I can handle, just about. It’s incredibly fortunate that I love the class I picked up: Classroom Dynamics.  Why can’t we have a full semester of that and only half of one on Assessment?

    I already mentioned the H1N1 vaccine disaster. Now they’ve canceled their other clinics due to running out. As I said: we’re all doomed.

    I’m exhausted and stressed out about things. It hasn’t helped that my medications make it hard for me to sleep if I don’t do that weird skip-every-fourth-day regimen. Guess who forgot to skip the fourth day during such a busy week? Oh yeah, I totally loved waking up every hour or so last night and then being up for 20-30 minutes. It also hasn’t helped that the last twenty minutes of down-time I had at work were scheduled up with K-Leap interventions.

    As I say all the time: I love my job, and I love my buddy, but having a few minutes to just hang out in Kindergarten when he’s with a specialist was a welcome pause. Today was kind of a grumpy day anyway. He was tired, and we had a run-in with projectile, goopy snot. And we painted our faces green.  God bless water-soluble paint. I don’t know how I would have explained that one.  At least he didn’t rub hand sanitizer in his eyes today.

    I just wish I didn’t have to wake up early tomorrow for a checkup with my brain doctor. Sleep would be so welcome tonight, and being able to sleep in past 8:30 would be incredible. C’est la vie.

  • FAIL: Kane County H1N1 Vaccine Clinics

    Kane County held the first of several Monday clinics today at three local high schools.  For some silly reason, they decided 4pm to 9pm was reasonable. Which, in theory, it certainly is. But when you have people panicking about a possible pandemic…no, that is not reasonable. That is not reasonable at-fucking-all.

    I’m supposedly at the front of the front of the line.  I’m in the at-risk group (under 24s) and I work with young children in a public school. Pretty much everyone wants people like me vaccinated.  And that’s all fine and well, if that whole “front of the line” idea actually meant something. Which it doesn’t.  It’s first come first serve, no matter what your risk is, who you are, etc.  In a “fair” and “equal” society that’s probably not a bad thing, but in the world of science and disease control, you really do want to get your vaccine to certain segments sooner.  First come first serve isn’t going to deliver that.  Neither is exceedingly stupid clinic hours.

    Normal people, I hear, tend to work to 5pm. I get off at 3:45 (though I snuck out at 3:35 to try and get to St. Charles North High School in a timely manner). Considering I had no hope at all to get a vaccine, I think it’s safe to say that most people working full time didn’t either.  Not unless they wanted to take the day off.  A lot of us can’t afford to do that.  I can’t on a monetary or an ethical level.  Any day I take off work, my students–and particularly my special buddy–suffer.

    I drove up Rt. 31 from Fabyan. I was lucky and managed to not hit the massive traffic jam also trying to get to St. Charles North until after Rt. 64.  But hooboy, when the traffic stopped, the traffic stopped.  It took me about an hour to get from Rt.64 to St. Charles North.  I tried to call my mother when I saw the line, only to be informed that the cellular network in the area was being reserved for 911 and emergency calls only.  Um, what?  Oh, and then there was the line of a couple thousand people that wrapped entirely around the high school which, as anyone from around here knows, is not a small one.  I turned around and left.  I don’t have endless time to wait outside in the rain.  I have homework to do.  Research reading + rain = not going to happen.

    Entirely poor planning for something so in demand.  Turns out Kane County only has about 12000 doses.  And since they don’t seem to be planning this out in the smartest of ways, my only conclusion is that we are all doomed.

  • Drinking the Gypsy Wine

    I needed turbinado sugar this weekend, which prompted a visit to Trader Joe’s.  I happened to find a bottle of wine.

    Vino!

    Hmm, can we get a close up on that label?

    LabelOh, right. Chariot Gypsy 2007. Obviously. Because that’s not problematic at all.

    Being gypsy myself, I had to buy it. Being that it was only $6, I can hardly complain about being gypped, now can I?  Much like how a friend’s (black) mother collects racist images of “them negroes,” I find myself drawn to ill thought out representations of gypsies.

    I have to say: I’ve seen worse. While this lady does have the headscarf, earrings, and giant mole, her lack of prominent and absurd gold jewelry is somewhat refreshing.  But let’s not kid ourselves, this woman is wearing a lot of odd ice, none of which is based in fact and a lot of which is based in racism and stereotype. Awsm!

    On to the wine itself: I was surprised it had a cork. My usual Trader Joe’s pick lost its cork for a screw cap about a year ago.  It was a wet red, which is about all I’m qualified to say. It was a bit sweet and I’d probably drink it again. Coming from me about a red, that’s a lot. Reds tend to be my least favorite kinds of wine.

    But back to the racism: haven’t we learned over hundreds of years of colonialism and all those civil rights marches and what not, that it’s not okay to market miscellaneous shit based on racist images of subjugated people and their history?  What if this was Chariot Jews 2007?  Granted that would have excellent pun potential, but that doesn’t make it an okay thing to do.

  • My Vagina is Eight Miles Wide

    I love my friend David. So much so that I’m the only person who actually calls him David. He’s one of those friends who always knows spot-on exactly what you need. This is what he gave me tonight:

  • FAIL: Law & Order Takes on Abortion

    Law & Order is one of my guilty pleasures, though it’s not exactly guilty.  One of my favorite undergrad professors worked as a producer and writer for Criminal Intent, so I can’t bash it as a series/franchise by any means.

    Tonight’s Law & Order episode, “Dignity,” took on the abortion debate.  The New York Times posted an article today about the franchise’s history of abortion coverage, which has been spotty at best.  This isn’t surprising consider the issue is, um, abortion.  Not exactly a bed of roses issue for prime time television to waltz through without thought.

    It started out very promising: an obvious take on the tragic murder of Dr. Tiller. From there, it went downhill in its attempt to cover way too many aspects of the pro-choice/anti-abortion debate. A shout out to Mom Martyrs/Shamers was nice, but the detour into Jill Staneck crazyland that didn’t point out that babies being murdered after surviving abortion is a big fat (obvious) lie kind of killed it for me. And then they tried to divide the DA’s office along the pro-/anti- lines in a way that didn’t feel right for any of the characters. The show refused to explicitly say that their Dr. Tiller stand-in had as much right to his life as any that could be argued for unborn fetuses.  And that, ladies and gentleman, is where the EPIC FAIL lies. Law & Order completely failed to stand up to everything it has postured itself to believe in: that murder is wrong, that crime is wrong, that justice is what is important.

    I watched this episode with my father. It was nice to hear him agree with my complaints. I like to think that he enjoyed my explanations of the nuanced references this episode made.

  • Hilda Makes Me Happy

    I found these today, and I find them quite stunning.  There’s so much right with them, that it’s hard to isolate any one of thing that stands above the rest.  Hilda was first painted by Duane Bryers in 1958.  That may, in fact, be the best part.

    Hilda Flour

    Hilda Paint

    Via 4otos. Way more examples there, too.

  • The Down Side of Kindergarten

    I love my job.  Don’t ever get me wrong about that.  I love scampering off to Kindergarten every day and greeting my class’s students.  I love when my special buddy comes racing towards me with a huge grin on his face.  I love everything about being a SpEd paraprofessional.

    The thing I don’t like is all the pee.  Especially when that pee winds up on me.

    Excitement is great, especially when my buddy is excited.  He can be stubborn sometimes, and tired other times, and sometimes things are just all wrong for no reason at all.  So when he’s psyched about things, I’m psyched.  And we celebrate our triumphs with everyone: showing off stickers earned, sharing our drawings from art, giving and receiving hugs several hundred-thousand times a day.

    My buddy’s been having trouble with storytime lately, which is really unusual. Especially in art class.  I don’t mind being a mountain for him, but for him to climb me during storytime is inappropriate, and I know he knows it is.  And I feel terrible struggling with him to face forward, to look at the pictures.  It’s so frustrating because he loves art.  Once we get started with projects, he happily trots along with paint, pastels, pencils, whatever.  He thinks it’s wonderful (and I think it’s wonderful that he thinks it’s wonderful).

    We drew robots today.  He was so proud of his, and so was I.  He drew it mostly himself with just some hand stabilizing support.  We were both so proud, and we went and showed everyone we could find his wonderful robot.  But it just so happens that art runs right up to our potty time.

    I have to admit, I laughed the entire time.  Even when some of his tinkle squirted onto my foot, I giggled.  Because he was so giddy and happy about his robot, he could not stand still long enough to pee only in the toilet.  No, we had to dance while peeing.  And as most grown ups know, one should not dance while one pees.  But we danced today, and giggled.  And I was so proud because when he was done, he grabbed some toilet paper and helped me clean up.  Not very many other six-year-olds would have helped me without any prompting.  But my buddy did. And we laughed and danced the whole time.

    I lied. There is no down side.

  • My Mother is Easily Confused by Technology

    Today marks a big day in our house.  We switched cable companies, and my mother finally let go of her infernal VCR.  And by let go, I mean we ripped it from her cold, dead hands.

    Okay, not quite, but she only let it go due to not having any other choices. Though can I point out that it’s still sitting under our television, not hooked up to a damn thing?  Change can be oh-so-hard in this house.  She’s still skeptical of the DVR that arrived, even after I on-the-fly recorded a rerun of Law & Order for her.

    I, however, am one happy camper.  We finally have The National Geographic Channel!  Oh how I have missed it’s educational and somewhat silly programming since I left New York City.  Bonus: our internet seems to (finally!) work properly, too.