Archive for January, 2010

  • Legal Slave Labor in Education

    Well folks, I submitted it. I submitted my application for student teaching (Spring 2011). What a frightening prospect this is. Not because it will be a difficult job–which it undoubtedly will–but trying to figure out how to cope with working 40+ hours a week for free. Actually, not for free, for -$6000.

    That’s right, I will be teaching ~25 youngsters in a public classroom and I will be paying a university for the privilege. Now I’m no stranger to the unpaid internship, I’ve had plenty coming from the entertainment industry. But student teaching is a little different. It’s not running coffee and giggling with professionals; it’s teaching. It’s accepting the full responsibilities of a teacher without compensation. This is the business of changing lives, people.

    This is completely ridiculous. And also somewhat enraging. And the logistics of it for a non-undergraduate student are next to impossible. I’m among the lucky ones in my program; I don’t have children I need to support. I’ve got free room and board to help me float the five months of forced “unemployed employment.” I know a number of single moms in my classes. I can’t even comprehend how much in savings they’ll need to be able to survive that semester. I cringe as I discuss working tail evenings and weekends with the couple who are as lucky as me.

    I’m angry. I love my job more than anything, and I’m angry that I have to leave it and it’s meager salary (let’s forget the fact that I’d be willing to do it for free). I’m angry that I have to leave my buddy for a minimum of 5 months, possibly after this year if that’s what his parents and the district think is best. I’m angry that there is no way I can do both. And I’m angry that I’m going to have fight high school students for minimum-wage part-time grunt work with evening and weekend hours. But that doesn’t compare to the anger that this havoc-wreaking institution is thrusting on my lives and those whom I work with. I could at least understand it a little easier if I didn’t have to pay out of my pocket for this “privilege.” I could at least justify it if I would receive some form of compensation beyond the promise of a degree in the future.

    I don’t want to leave my job. My job is the whole reason I’m getting this degree. I just find it incredibly upsetting that the two are in conflict, a conflict that doesn’t make much sense.

  • Avoidance

    I’ve been avoiding writing here, which annoys me to no end. The reason why I’ve been putting it off is that most of the things I have to say, I feel I cannot because there are a number of people in my life right now who like to assume that anything I write is actually about them. I find this really frustrating, because I usually don’t let the thoughts and opinions of others have much say over my standard operating procedure. And yet, I feel the need for caution now.

    It’s silly. I’m not going to do this much longer. It’s to the point where if people are offended by me, they shouldn’t read my thoughts. My patience has run out, and I’m not going to give the feelings of others more consideration than my own any longer.

  • Escape Plan, v0.1a

    Out of curiosity, what with the turbulent economy of late, I poked through Craigslist to see what rooms were going for in San Francisco. Anyone who’s known me over the past year and a half has known that my longterm dream is to move to San Francisco. My sister took me on a long weekend there in July, 2008 and I fell immediately in love. It’s been the only place that has felt truly like home in a long time.

    Anyway, I ran the numbers, and I could afford it. Today. It would be tight, but I could do it, even if I couldn’t find a job for a year; I could do it. Which is an incredibly comforting thought. I can actually get out of here after grad school, if I want.

    That might seem odd, the girl who named her blog Small Town Wren (the girl being Wren herself) is fantasizing about leaving the Midwest forever for a big city? Yes, because being the small town has never been the ideal. But, having grown up in a small town and attending high school in an even smaller town has always been central to the construction of my identity. During my childhood, Batavia had less than 18,000 people. Even now the 2000 census puts us at 23,000 (and the trend growth suggests the 2010 census will put us at around 28,000). Back then, there were more cornfields than neighborhoods. And I spent my high school years living in a northern Michigan town of ~600.

    Growing up and coming of age in the middle of nowhere isn’t something you can ignore in your worldview. And those who don’t know me might suggest that it makes me an ignorant fool. They’re entitled to their opinion and their ignorance. I’ve experienced more diversity than a number of my friends back in New York City have.

    I’m a city girl and I loved New York City. But I missed the trees, and the sky and weather that didn’t make you feel filthy all the time. San Francisco has always been the balm to New York City’s problems. And I’m thrilled that it looks like I can make that dream a reality.

  • It's Just A Feeling

    I have a very funny feeling that this new semester of graduate school is going to bring more than its fair share of funny/sad anecdotes. I don’t want to imply that I don’t like my professors or my fellow students–that’s hardly the case at all–I just find many of them to be…interesting. While I have enjoyed getting mad props for my crazy organizational colored pens and matching colored highlighters, that’s the only consistent thing about all of my classes so far that I’ve enjoyed (besides a few choice classmates who are in all of my classes).

    As for the anecdotes…I somehow always get elected to be secretary of X, Y, & Z due to my compulsive organization. This leads me to reading much more of my classmates’ work than most others do. Today I had the pleasure of reading a summary that was twice as long as the text it was trying to summarize. I’m not even sure what to do with something like that. I’m not even sure how that works, period.

    I’m still baffled.

  • We All Have Our Crutches

    My mouth tastes like cigarettes. Almost certainly because over the past three days I’ve smoke almost an entire pack of Marlboro Lights. My New Years resolution was to quit smoking. Already that has been a fantastic failure.

    I really don’t want to do this anymore, but I don’t know what else to do.

  • And So It Starts Again

    I just finished up my first week of the new semester. Three brand new grad classes.  I’m not especially thrilled about the amount of work the next 8 weeks are already promising. I can only hope that the 8 weeks after that will entail much less.

    This semester looks like it’s going to shape up to being Hell on earth. Someone in one of my classes actually asked if the class textbook was a scholarly source. Seriously? No, seriously? If you have to ask that question, what are you doing in graduate school? The lecture on using a variety of sources and the textbook and blahblahblah that ensued from this question was a major waste of time. And I know that person was here last semester, so really there’s no excuse.

    Also, I think my Teaching P.E. professor was my P.E. teacher when I was in, like, 3rd grade or so. Awkward much?

  • A Little Whimsy

  • National Geographic: The Bionic Age

    I’m probably going to regret posting about this when some of my friends start hacking off their limbs, but! This month’s National Geographic has a fantastic article on bionics. We are officially living in the future. We might not have flying cars, but my god, we have cyborgs. Legit cyborgs.

    This is completely awesome. I’m having trouble expressing just how much glee this brings to my life. The Editor’s Note of the issue, I think, states it well:

    But the bionics of modern medical engineering has little to do with enabling someone to run 60 miles an hour or use an eye like a zoom lens. It is more about the quiet miracle of holding a fork or seeing the silhouette of a tree. […] “It made me feel I was just Ray again”

    I know what it means to lose part of yourself. Perhaps not in the physical, corporeal sense, but in no way less painful and traumatizing. It’s really difficult to regain that footing, that sense of “this is me.” The fact that these new technologies are giving some of that back to people is simply beautiful.

    In some ways it is a touch creepy. Reading about the rewiring of nerve-ends gives my skin the crawlies. I couldn’t read the section on how bionic eyes work. The details are gross, but the big picture is amazing. And I hope that this doesn’t become corrupted in too quick a fashion. I know some of my cyberpunk fanboys are drooling over the idea of that arm with a weapon attached. In the technological dream, such fantasies are cool and fun. I just hope they never enter reality.

    Photo courtesy of Mark Thiesson via National Geographic.

  • Terrorball

    My excellent friend Bora “Max” Koknar pointed me in the direction of Lawyers, Guns and Money’s Terrorball.

    Our national government and almost all of the establishment media have decided to play a similar game, which could be called Terrorball. The first two rules of Terrorball are:

    (1) The game lasts until there are no longer any terrorists, and;
    (2) If terrorists manage to ever kill or injure or seriously frighten any Americans, they win.

    Ah yes, the awesome game played by American politicians and American media outlets alike. It’s a game designed to keep all of us living in fear of ridiculously unlikely things. It’s the same mindset that leads to what counts as “good parenting” (ie nothing short of placing children in plastic bubbles).

    It’s also the same reason why our healthcare system is broken and not going to be fixed by any healthcare reform that might pass. Keep the masses scared and distracted so no one can ponder what is truly scary in our country. Like our uninsured and unemployed. Like our rampant destruction of our environment. Like a million other things. Focusing on terrorism lets us ignore the mirror we should be examining. It excuses us from fixing more pressing problems

    Which, of course, benefits big media and politicians. As long as we remain scared, politicians retain their power and media retains it captive audience. If we actually focused on real issues and not imaginary ones, we might actually go outside and do good work that will transform our society. Transform it in ways that demands accountability and shuns consumerism for the sake of consuming.

  • Happy 2010!

    Oh, look at that, the new year happened!  I disappeared for the holidays but I shall be returning in full force this week. Promise promise promise.