Intrepid Girl Reporter

Saturday, 5/29: the graduation of Little Broseph
May 29, 2010, 10:48 pm
Filed under: cultural theorizing, IGR Recommends, life progress, music

First of all, I am completely obsessed with this video, which I found thanks to the ever-knowledgeable Rachel.

It’s entirely possible that Janelle Monae might bring back saddle shoes single-handedly. Apparently she played the 9:30 Club this weekend, but unfortunately, I am not in DC right now, so I had to miss the Cindi Mayweather dance.

In reading about Monae, I also discovered Afrofuturism, which I had never heard of before but which is AWESOME. And I find Mark Dery’s explanation of it fairly compelling, inasmuch as I can comprehend it at this hour – it might be a bit late for cultural criticism, but the idea behind the movement makes sense (and could conceivably, with a bit of tweaking, be applied to other ethnic groups as well, should they move into the realm of science fiction). Also, fun fact: LeVar Burton’s real name is Levardis. Because that sounds like some kind of blood pressure medication, I’d probably go with LeVar too.

I’m home because Miguk Little Brother made it through high school – yes, the same high school that sells shirts that read “Topper Nation: Where Only the Strong Belong.” Which I maintain suggests, at the very least, eugenics. So I suppose I should be grateful that he made it through without being killed for weakness, or something. It wasn’t particularly emotional, probably because this is graduation #3 and we still have two college graduations, a graduate school graduation, and probably two more grad school graduations after that to get through. I guess after the first one the rite of passage doesn’t seem quite as shocking. La Sister gave him a sombrero, a whoopie cushion, and Groucho Marx glasses. I gave him a ramen spoon. I think it’s pretty safe to say he’s ready for the world.


Wednesday, 5/26: the weight of sweetness
May 27, 2010, 12:21 am
Filed under: actual transcripts, life progress, poetry

It’s a miracle that I’m writing in this journal at all, as my pattern for the last few days has been: stay out too late; spend too much money; return home feeling vaguely dissatisfied; lack any motivation to do anything; wake up late the next morning. So the fact that I’m doing anything, even something as unproductive as a blog update, counts as life progress. What a state of affairs.

I have some things I want to opine on/share.

1. I heard on All Things Considered tonight that BP has given a good deal of money to Florida so Florida can promote its beaches, which, handily, are unscathed by the recent oil spill. I do not like to get on the Let’s Yell About Current Events That Everyone Already Agrees On bandwagon (see: Enron, Columbine), but really, THIS IS INSANE. I mean, I suppose there’s no rule against them doing it, but it strikes me as analogous to some sort of killer who just printed out a picture of a bunch of people and was like, HEY, LOOK AT ALL OF THESE PEOPLE I DIDN’T KILL. Perhaps they would like a cookie? If so, it should probably be a cookie big enough to cap the GIANT FUCKING OIL SPILL they just caused.


2. A recent exchange at school.

MARSHE’, 4, has just finished throwing a tantrum and has been escorted out of the classroom.

MARSHE’ sounds like Chucky from Child’s Play.

MS. IGR Marshe’. What do you think I want to talk to you about?

MARSHE’ Mermaids?

MS. IGR No, Marshe’. I don’t want to talk to you about mermaids.

MARSHE’ (lets out a heavy sigh) Me crying.

3. We are putting on a production of Aladdin, Jr! at school. Perhaps you are thinking that this is a clever story about some sort of acolyte of Aladdin. Nope. It’s just shorter. However, in an inventive bit of casting flexibility, the Genie is a girl. “Everyone thinks the Genie should be a boy,” she confided in me. “Genies don’t have genders,” I told her. Also, Iago is this kid named Abraham who has this very Woody Allen thing going on, if Woody Allen was a nine-year-old Ethiopian kid.

4. For some reason, writing about Abraham (who, awesomely, has a brother named Noah) made me think about SaDaryl Parham, a kid some longtime readers may remember from my Summerbridge days. Abraham and SaDaryl bear no resemblance to each other whatsoever except for the fact that they both have awesome names, but I decided to go through my old LiveJournal (Jesus) anyway to see if I could find the description I’d written of him.

I wish, now, that I’d gone through and kept better records of all of my students. I should write a book entitled Children I Have Known. Revisiting my SBC days reminded me of how excited I was then, how pumped, how committed I was to the idea that a program could change these kids’ lives and the world. Maybe it’s just working for the giant vortex that is DCPS and my school, but I don’t feel that excitement anymore – as evidenced by the fact that I am dying to get to graduate school. Is this a personal failing? What happened to the way I once felt? I know this sounds stupid (again with the Joyce Maynard) because I’m not exactly aged, but still. I have the chance to plan a summer camp through DCPS, and I don’t want to. I have so little faith that the teachers they’ve hired will listen to me, or do their jobs, or that I will get supplies, or that if I bring in an activity it will even be received instead of me being accused of trying to force other staff members out. I am concerned that, once again, I will be accused of being racist, or of trash-talking my school, and it will somehow come out negatively on my performance evaluation even though it’s not true. I want to want to do this. I don’t want to feel a mounting sense of discouragement over the obstacles that I’m building out of my past experience. But I can’t help it.

5. That having been said, here’s the deal with summer and the future: I’m going to graduate school. There, I said it. I’m going to Tufts/Fletcher to make the next Sesame Street. I also considered Columbia/SIPA, but they didn’t give me any money and when we asked why we should go there they responded, “Do you want to live in New York? It’s like Disneyland for adults.” The whole scene was evocative of that part in Pinocchio where the bad kids try to get Pinocchio to leave Geppetto and go gambling and drinking or whatever it is puppets do to carouse. As for the summer, I am waiting on an internship. I was supposed to find out yesterday. Hopefully I will find out tomorrow. If they can’t take me, to summer camp I will go. Reading those old Summerbridge entries actually made me feel better about the prospect, and somewhat guilty that I didn’t submit my budget narrative today like I was supposed to.

4a. Returning to SBC: I also found this poem in my journal that I had forgotten about. I don’t know how I always manage to forget about how much I love Li-Young Lee.

The Weight of Sweetness

No easy thing to bear, the weight of sweetness.

Song, wisdom, sadness, joy: sweetness

equals three of any of these gravities.

See a peach bend

the branch and strain the stem until

it snaps.

Hold the peach, try the weight, sweetness

and death so round and snug

in your palm.

And, so, there is

the weight of memory:

Windblown, a rain-soaked

bough shakes, showering

the man and the boy.

They shiver in delight,

and the father lifts from his son’s cheek

one green leaf

fallen like a kiss.

The good boy hugs a bag of peaches

his father has entrusted

to him.

Now he follows

his father, who carries a bagful in each arm.

See the look on the boy’s face

as his father moves

faster and farther ahead, while his own steps

flag, and his arms grow weak, as he labors

under the weight

of peaches.

Monday, 5/24: more from the front lines
May 24, 2010, 8:53 pm
Filed under: actual transcripts

in lieu of real updates, which should come soon, as Things Are Happening Soon:

with the first grade.

MS. IGR Tell me one thing you learned about today.

DIOZZE’ Dreams!

MS. IGR Dreams. …What did you learn about dreams?

DIOZZE’ Whales.

MS. IGR Whales?

DIOZZE’ No. Dinosaurs.

Friday, 5/7: Mother’s Day
May 7, 2010, 6:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

One of the most irritating things about working in youth development, and specifically about my job, is how we seem to be expected to have this sort of endless well of patience and kindness and optimism. The complaints received never seem to start with, “I know you’re trying,” or “This is a challenge for all of us.” NO. They are just complaints. And after days and days of having to sweep and take out the trash and explain to children that no, if you don’t share people will not want to play with you, we’re expected to be fired up about the next thing, constantly finding ways to inspire and new cheers to learn. I’M TIRED. I DON’T WANT TO GET OTHER PEOPLE ENERGIZED. I WANT SOMEONE TO TRY TO ENERGIZE ME. Where is my cheerleader?

Perhaps this all sounds a bit whiny, because it is. It’s been a long week; we had a higher number of injuries, multiple children wetting (or otherwise) themselves, more obscenities from small children and more complaints about how hard the job I make everyone ELSE do is. Child and Family Services laid off one hundred people this week, which meant that yesterday when I called the Child Abuse Hotline, I was put on hold. PUT ON HOLD. THERE WERE SO MANY REPORTS OF ABUSE THAT I HAD TO WAIT IN LINE. I got to call them again today for a separate incident. I wonder when they will start to recognize my voice.

Perhaps the trickiest thing about this field, though, is the sense of martyrdom that tends to come with it. I’m preparing to enter a field of work that does not involve kids for the first time since my disastrous stint as a Hollister employee, and more than anything, I can’t shake this guilt – the sense that I must be leaving because I can’t cut it, because I don’t care enough. Yes, what I want to do involves kids directly, but it won’t be direct service anymore, and it will certainly be easier than this. In my head, I see the teacher who hates me the most, pursing her lips and saying, “Some people just aren’t cut out for this.” I made all that up in my head, of course, but that’s the mentality I have – that this field is for heroes, and who walks away from that cape?

I think this is all just a reaction to the fact that I’m going to be leaving a line of work that, more often than average, offers instant rewards. Tremendous ones. But I’ve had it with people yelling at me and children throwing around the pieces of my games. I love them, but I just don’t know if we can be together anymore.