Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What's up with Scrubs?

Our Netflix queue has season 2 of Scrubs - three discs! "Scrubs" is our "show" this year. Every year we get into one television show and can't ever get enough. Last year it was "Sex and the City" (better late than never); the year before that was BBC America's "Changing Rooms." Ed brought up how we used to get genuinely giddy when there was a two or three hour marathon. Anyway, this year it's "Scrubs." Because of the Winter Olympics, this year's season didn't begin until after January, so NBC would run TWO episodes in a row - two NEW episodes. It was awesome. Now that they have some new show about 'teachers' (like I need to watch that), we have been cashing in our Netflix for as much Scrubs as possible.

Last night we watched the regular episode on NBC and realized, after watching the complete first season a few months ago that there are some strange changes. If you are a Scrubs fan, can you explain J.D.'s insistance on channeling the late John Ritter? Or, Jordan's odd look (is it plastic surgery or some kind of disease?). We are concerned and want to know. Besides, these are puzzles that are worth thinking about- better than planning our lives or something. .

Monday, March 27, 2006

Cameron Crowe, Deliver Us

Today was one of those days that you imagine you’ll have after reading an obscure horoscope. Something like, “Casual communications cause you to rethink short and long- term goals.”

Lately, I’ve been rather homesick. I go to bed wondering when Boston will feel like home while at the same time nervous that it will indeed become “home,” rendering the Northwest the very “home” Thomas Wolfe claims we can never return to. In the morning I usually wake up surprisingly content, but by default. There’s nothing like feeling lost, down and uncertain when hitting the pillow to make the morning seem welcomingly bearable. And today, the sun was extremely bearable; the week has started off warm (mid-50s) with full sun and blue sky. It’s no Alki Beach with the Olympics framing the horizon, but it’s practically perfect.

Apparently, the weather was the first indication of a somewhat unusual day. First of all, I’ve talked to more family and friends today than I have in the last few months. And, it’s Monday- the day where I don my “single mother cap” while Ed’s gone from 7:00 AM until 8:00 PM and the day the only human contact usually consists of Jack crying after I drop him off at daycare and my students fight sleep in class. But, for whatever reason, the universe listened particularly close to my near-acceptance of lonerville and BAM! I actually have a long conversation with a friend from West Seattle (we’ve been playing phone tag for about a month). I also got a hold of my sister to talk about my mom’s visit to Kansas and the military ball and then, my mom called too. When one of Ed’s teaching buddies from Seattle called to say he’d be in town this weekend to check out Harvard, I couldn’t offer our futon fast enough. I tell you, all of the calls were the equivalent of having a great date and WILLING the guy to call- the kind of thing that *never* happens.

But, there were other calls and emails today: two in particular that we gave up on. A while ago, Ed applied for an internship at an eating disorder clinic. Because he’s becoming a licensed psychologist, he can’t just hang out in the sports psych world – but wants to expand his experience. Of course, expanding experience means learning something new and often putting yourself in uncertain circumstances – something you’d think we would have become accustomed to by now, but no- naturally, Ed procrastinated a bit getting the application in, and because of it, was certain he had no chance after not hearing back for over two weeks and after calling to basically hearing the “we’ll call you” tone. Well, tonight, they called and want to interview him.

I also got an email I didn’t expect. A while ago, I emailed the woman who hired me at North Seattle community college in a desperate attempt to find out what the hell it takes to get an interview for a full time job – we got along swimmingly while I was there; she mentored me through my first year of community college teaching as well as my first pregnancy- as she had been pregnant the year before (she also set me up with my online classes so I could be home with Jack last year). So, I was a bid dismayed when I didn’t hear back and went on to write two cover letters for two full time positions here in Boston. Tonight, after having turned in my resume and cover letters, I did get her email. Of course, her advice would have been more effective had I received it before I got my application materials in, only adding to the confusion about what the *hell* I should do with my own career – yet, the fact that Ed & I both heard back from people we pretty much had given up on highlights the fact that the universe is fucking with us. That, or, it’s trying to keep us (me, in particular, from turning into complete cynics).

Regardless, I will say that I have been a bit mad a Cameron Crowe for perpetuating the idea that greatness comes at extreme risk (and by “greatness” I mean *merely* living the life you’ve imagined). We watched the end of “Say Anything” last night. You know that line John Cusak says after Ione Skye says “no one ever thought we’d actually do this” – the one about how “you’ve just described every great success story” – well that line pissed me off. I’ve just about had it with reaching beyond what we can see. I can’t tell if it’s better to reach, reach, reach and never quite get there or be content with what is now (of course, I have a feeling that it’s some hideous complicated mix of the two). It’s probably why I was silently balling my eyes out Saturday night watching Orlando Bloom drive across the country in Crowe’s most recent, rather meandering “Elizabethtown.” We’re so far from that safe place in the car driving to Seaside that it’s hard to remember that what we’re doing now is so we can completely enjoy that drive to the coast- even if that drive may not happen for a LONG time.

To sum up (by the way, I tell my students to *never* use this phrase in their writing), I woke up this morning fairly convinced I would have to look for High School jobs, accepting, somewhat willingly, the idea of compromising my career in exchange for some consistent income and insurance. But, now, after applying for two community college jobs and hearing back from my old colleague, I’m already starting to think about how maybe I could adjunct for a year or so and develop the professional reputation I started in Seattle. And, now, Ed can dive into the kind of clinical work he knows will make him a better psychologist, and ultimately lead him to better opportunities, but will also be somewhat intimidating at first. Of course, all of this is (as usual) complicated by the fact that we have little to no income this summer (the eating disorder thing doesn’t pay) and no guarantees for income after that.

Perhaps the best thing about today was that, as I was driving home from Bunker Hill, I had my first clear understanding of the overall road structure between BU and our neighborhood. Those elusive 6 miles of wandering, snake like roads made finally made sense in my mind’s “map” eye. Maybe it’s not about finding your way; maybe it’s about not feeling lost.

My car climbed Mt. Washington

Ok, not really. This is a bumper sticker I've seen around town lately. I'm not really a bumper-sticker kind-of-person. Frankly, given that that sticker will stay on your car for almost eternity, I'm not sure I'd know what bumper-sticker to choose.

I mean, a sticker on the bumper of your car says a lot about you - the person driving the car. It defines you. For that brief moment that people drive behind and then, past you, that sticker is the sum of all information about they know about you. If you think about it, that's just too much pressure. I'd rather remain somewhat mysterious.

Maybe I'm just not passionate enough about a topic/issue/cause/vacation to feel the need to remind those driving behind me that yes, I think globally, but act locally. What happens when your cause loses? Do the 1 in 2 drivers in the Northwest cuss out loud everytime they walk up behind their car and see that "Kerry/Edwards" sticker on their bumper?

Which brings me back to - "My car climbed Mt. Washington". I'm sure that was a great trip and all, but was it that sweet, that you'd want yourself - and others - to be reminded of the time you drove, not climbed, not walked, mind you, but drove up Mount Washington?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Working Girl

There's a scene in Mike Nichol's 1988 Working Girl that sums up one of my bigger questions of life: can we really make that leap into the life we want?

While I assume that you all are as familiar with the movie, (I won't embarrass myself with the number of times I've seen it over the years) I'll remind you that it's basically about this secretary (Melanie Griffith) who has been working her ass off to get into the business world by going to night school and temping near/around Wall Street. She temps for a bitchy, old-money matron (Sigourney Weaver) who she ends up impersonating in order to land a big business deal. She breaks up with current boyfriend (a young Alec Baldwin) and begins a business/love relationship with new guy (Harrison Ford) who just happens to be her new business partner and who is dating the boss that Griffith's character is pretending to be. Are you following? Just rent the movie- it's worth it, even if it's a re-rent.

In the middle of her charade, Griffith's character (Tess) is sitting in Weaver's character's (Katharine) office with good friend, Joan Cusack's character (Cyn). Tess has left bad cheating boyfriend and is staying at Katharine's home while she (Katharine) is laid up in the hospital with a broken leg. Tess is attempting to set up a major deal while balancing all of her ongoing identity lies. Cyn reminds her that she's out of her home and will soon be out of her job.

Tess says something like, "I can't get to where I want without breaking the rules, but I'm not allowed to break the rules until you get there." There being the proverbial place we all hope to get to in our professional and personal lives.

Considering that Tess is "breaking the rules" all over the place, she's a bit stressed out. Good friend Cyn, leaves her with this line while Tess has to take a phone call with Katharine (who, as you remember, does not know that Tess is pretending to be her): "Sometimes I dress up and dance around my room like Madonna. It doesn't mean I'll ever be Madonna" (or something like that).

Lately, I've been trying to figure out how to be "Madonna" - not literally, of course, but wondering if it is indeed possible to break through into the kind of world I want. It's why we're here in Boston- Ed's seems to be making the transition well enough- the folks at BU love him and he's constantly getting feedback from important people like "you're a natural" or "you have tremendous potential in this field." Until he actually makes it there (sports physch guy with real income), I'm doing my damnest to figure out a way to make some consistent money doing something I enjoy. And while I'm grateful for the freelance work I have and the two classes I teach -- both that are 20 times more enjoyable than work I did before getting my Master's degree -- I still can't ignore the fact that we have $12.80 in checking and I work a gazillion hours a week to barely make ends meet.

It may seem like I'm not staying on point. The thing is, I am about to apply for some full time teaching jobs at some community colleges around here and I am faced with this sense of doom- I've applied and applied and applied for full time gigs, but haven't even got an interview. I don't have time to publish or present at conferences (they don't add to the $12.80), so I have to think of some other WAY to get that interview (Like Tess, I am unable to play by 'the rules'). The thing is: I'm a good teacher. That's not being conceited; it's a fact; I enjoy teaching, I always see success from at least 1/2 my class (that's saying a lot) and I’m not burned out like so many adjuncts I see who just put in the bare minimum effort (not yet anyway). With a full time teaching job, we’d have regular income and (brace yourself): health insurance for Jack AND me (Jack has insurance now, but we have to come up with $1200 all at once by September).

But, I apparently don’t have what ever it is I need in my resume and cover letter to get to that interview. Smoozing only gets me so far – and I’ve been unable to do that as much as I did in Seattle when *all* I did was teach. So, lately, I’ve been thinking about putting on some black lace, a bra outside my top, and coloring the ends of my hair dirty blond and dancing around the dean’s office at Bunker Hill in the hopes of getting that interview.

I’ve read somewhere that evolution occurs two ways: long, gradual change; and then, boom! A huge leap. It makes sense to me- learning seems to happen the same way: we try and try to understand what it takes to be healthy, spend our 20s (and maybe 30s) reading all about nutrition and exercise, and then one day, it hits: we just need to eat less and exercise more. We’ve known it all along, but then, suddenly we KNOW it and our daily actions change accordingly (we’ve evolved from the sugar crazed addict into a person with a healthy appetite).

I’m waiting for my leap, folks. I’m waiting for the inspiration to hit – the one thing that I can do to get to that next step, that step being a full time teaching job. How do I let THE MAN know I can do it, and do it well? I can’t pretend to teach- I’m already adjuncting. So, tell me, what kind of dance should I do and where can I do it?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My Wednesday

Wednesdays can be busy days for me. I get a ride into school from my neighbor usually around 7am. He's nice enough, but one of those people that spend the entire ride in talking about them, what's happening to them, what happened to them yesterday, what'll probably happen to them today.... I'm not much of a morning person, so I don't talk much. We get along swimmingly.

He drops me off at the BU Bridge (the middle of campus) and I walk to the School of Education building. Drop off extra stuff at the TF office (if I have to) and then take the bus to Gardner Elementary. Drivers of any public transportation in Boston don't want to look at you much less answer annoying questions from riders. I think this comes from the fact that people (not you and me individually, I mean the whole lot of us) are generally pretty dumb.

Bus drops me off in a part of town called Brighton and I walk the remaining 3/4 mile to Gardner. The elementary school is one of those old-school box buildings with big ol' steps and long hallways that must seem to stretch for a mile to the average 7-year old. I go downstairs to the basement where it is either 30 degrees or a comfortable 90. Officially, I'm the BU supervisor for the college kids doing their practicum with Gardner's teachers. Unofficially, my goal every Wednesday is to have as little contact with humans as possible. I read over my college student's journals - the usual stuff, "my teacher sucks," "these kids are poor," blah, blah, blah. Ok, it's not that bad - and some of these students will probably make great teachers.

I'm out of Gardner by noon. Walk back to bus stop. Catching the 57 bus back to BU is always hit and miss - there's either one coming every 2 minutes, or every 2 hours (that's how it feels like).

Get back to school. I've got a meeting with a soccer player at 12:30. He doesn't show. Kind of normal actually - we made the appointment before Spring Break and I know he lost the reminder card I gave him. Run into Dr. D. in the hallway. Dr. D. is a counseling faculty member and a great teacher. We talk for awhile. He's just come back from a really long faculty meeting. "These things are bullshit - I swear if you can't tget it done in 2 hours something's wrong..." Wow, that happens in college faculty meetings too? I thought that was just high school faculty meetings.

Take the T up to West Campus where the Athletic Department is located. The doors on the T are merciless. Oh, you're standing at there when the doors shut? So sorry, there's another train coming...sucker. I can type this cuz it's happened to me. Get to the Sport Psych clinic in time for a 2pm meeting with a player. The fact that BU has 2 offices for sport psych in the athletics builidng is pretty sweet. Meeting goes well. I used to be uber-conscious of every thought I had in a meeting, but more and more it's coming more naturally. Teaching was like that.

Walk over the locker room for a meeting with the whole soccer team. Today's topic: commitment. Players are going to sign this big poster with their team goals for the Spring. I want to talk about the difference between "being involved" with something and "being committed" to something - these are males, so I use an example they would all understand - food. "Commitment is like a ham and eggs breakfast," I tell them, "the hen is involved, but the pig is committed." They get it.

Walk back down Comm Ave and then cut over to the Fenway T stop. Ride the Green Line into Brookline Village where Laura and Jack are waiting to pick me up. Another Wednesday in the bag.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

So, we've been here six months...

It actually feels a lot longer than six months- and, well, it is. As of March 19th, we'll have been in Boston seven months. Honestly, if feels more like seven years. Last night I realized that it was only last April that we came to visit- I still can't believe we actually MOVED ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

I did realize something I like about Boston -- and this involves recanting many early posts about the driving here. The fact is, I rarely deal with traffic. It may take me 20 mintues to drive 8 miles, but I'm moving the entire time. In Seattle, my options were I-5 or I-99 where it often take 20 minutes to move 8 feet in rush hour. Because of all the back roads, our location, and my job situation, I don't have to worry about any "tough spots." This, I like. I would much rather be moving for 30 minutes than not moving, regardless of how far I've gone in those 30 minutes.

I still don't like that I can't "see" how all the neighborhoods connect in my head. Someone told me this week that it took 13 years before she could see an entire map of Boston in her head. This I don't like. I like to have an overall picture, larger view- or perspective. I don't have that here. I can only rely on what's right, or relatively right, in front of me. But, and I think I've said this before, the roads are an appropriate faith metaphor. In the least, I am reminded that I can really only deal with what's happening right now. This is probably a good thing considering I don't know where the money is coming from after two or three months and that Jack might get sick at the drop of a hat and I have to constantly re-adjust my work around him.

I still miss 'home' - I may like the fall here, but I'm beginning to dread the humid summer. I miss my family. Jack's favorite PBS show is Calliou (an annoying Canadian kid who is just a little too good and whose parents never yell, "goddammit, that hurt!" - most likely because Calliou never thrases his body and knocks his head on his mom's bottom lip when he doesn't get his way). Anyway... Calliou often spends the day or night at his grandparents, nearby. I wish Jack could hang out with his nanas and pop-pop/papa. I honestly can't wait until we move back to the Northwest (and we are) where Jack can continue to cultivate a close relationship with his grandparents. Us, too.

Monday, March 06, 2006

So you might have noticed we haven't been good trying to keep up with our daily blogging. Laura told me all 3 of our loyal readers have probably given up on us by now. But we're back and we pinky-swear to keep up this time, even if our readership is down to 1 person.

I think winter is starting to give way to spring here in Boston. Gorgeous sunny day today and the temperture must be in the 40's. As much as I love the snow and wintertime, the thought of warmer weather and sunshine makes me smile.

Spring Break for me this week - my spring break trip was a quick 2-day trip back to Seattle to watch the 3A State Basketball tournament in Tacoma. Now before you ask what in God's-Heavenly-Name did I want to fly 5 hours to spend 13 hours watching 16 high school basketball games, I will tell you it was some quality-time. Why the state tournament? Drama, man! The human drama! [cue Wide World of Sports music] ...the triumph of victory, and the agony of defeat...

Yes, Laura is amazing for green-lighting this trip.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

How an education ruins the Oscars, but why we're pushing for Jack to get one (an education, not necessarily an oscar)

In grad school one of my professors said that if you made in The Smithsonian, you've compromised your values, sold out, conformed. Basically, he was making the claim that once you were acknowledged by “the mainstream,” you were no longer doing anything interesting to change the world. By “mainstream” he meant any award show that was broadcast on NBC, ABC, OR CBS (like the Grammy’s). I think he meant PBS, too because he made some shots at Ken Burns.

While I haven't decided yet if I agree with the idea that PBS is selling out, it wasn’t until tonight watching the Academy Awards that I realized how right he was about "making it and being recognized" the mainstream world. Think about it, it wasn’t until those bands like The Beatles, The Clash, or The Rolling Stones had established themselves in a redundant musical formula or stopped recording music all together that they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. As everyone knows, even though Elvis started out changing the world of rock-n-roll, he was only mainstreaming the type of music established by the many, many less successful black men before him.

So, now it’s groundbreaking that Hollywood produced and got behind a gay cowboy movie? I guess it’s a good thing- it’s finally OKAY to talk about homosexuality. Wow. Good to know. Just last night we were watching snippets from 1995’s “The Celluloid Closet.” Over ten years ago independent (note: successful independent) filmmakers called out the fact that Britain had openly dealt with homosexuality in 1961’s “Victim.”

The National Review took George Clooney to task for his ‘acting at activism’ in their magazine last week, and though I’m pretty sure Professor Lyne would slash his wrists before reading from a conservative periodical, I’m fairly certain that he would agree with what Mark Steyn is saying about Hollywood: “…Hollywood prefers to make ‘controversial’ films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to flight battles long won…”

Well, now, I’m pretty sure that we haven’t won the racism or homosexuality battle. I guess what drives me crazy is that Hollywood is supposed to be this liberal, open town, and they produce movies that will only succeed because of the mainstream folk willing to pay for watered down topics and issues that have been in discussion—and often decided on—for years or decades.

Oh, well. I do like that the subversive Jon Stewart - (wait, does this mean he's not subversive anymore) hosted.