Intrepid Girl Reporter

Monday, 8/24: DC is for lovers, or: I would like to clarify a few things
August 24, 2010, 12:47 am
Filed under: actual transcripts, causes, okay seriously America

First of all: I thought about posting the link upon which I’m about to expound on my Tumblr, but i’ve decided to focus that account on serving as a scrapbook of sorts of things I like and wish to share. I’m in the process (ha ha) of constructing a website that will serve as my portfolio site and also feature the Tumblr, and I’m trying to figure out how to integrate blogging in there, as I’ve become quite attached to this blog, and I’m not sure how to integrate anonymity into a personal website. Not that this is really and truly anonymous, of course, but it still doesn’t technically have my name attached unless you really look, and identifying what is discussed on this website would take a good deal of legwork.

Second of all:

Tea Partiers’ Warning-Filled Guide to DC

I have no doubt that this is going to be burning up the DC blogosphere w/r/t its casual dismissal of the city’s incredible culture and diversity, and I also have no doubt that most of that criticism is going to be a bit homogeneous. I, however, have some very specific criticisms of this list and of its analysis, which I will now proceed to share with you.

  1. They left off a TON of good restaurants. This has a lot to do with the fact that they pretty much wholesale dismiss DC’s immigrant communities, which is where all the good cheap food is. As such, it’s not a good guide, regardless of one’s ideology. Tea Partiers, you like to save money. Go get a banh mi at Eden Center for $3. Bonus: it’s in Virginia, where I hear the handgun laws are more relaxed. (Yeah, I know this list has an Indian buffet and some sort of Middle Eastern bistro, but quite frankly, those are not the city’s strongest cuisines.) (Side note: CVS over the Georgetown Safeway? Are you on crack?*)
  2. “As a rule, African immigrants do not like for you to assume they are African Americans and especially do not like for you to guess they are from a neighboring country (e.g. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia) with whom they may have political or military tensions. It’s rare to meet anyone who gets really offended, but you can still be aware of the issue.” Oh, Bruce Majors, you mean so well. Yes, geopolitical cognizance is important for a lot of reasons, one of which is not offending people. I cannot think of a conversation, however, in which such an immigrant could become aware of your thinking that they’re African American without some other, very serious, repercussions. “So, I see that you’re black”? “I really admire what your people have done with the city”? “Just so you know, I took Emancipation Day off too”? The only place this country-of-origin issue *might* come up is a) in a discussion about food or b) if the other person starts a sentence with the phrase “Where I come from…” Any other discussion where you find yourself stuck on this issue was probably on the wrong track to begin with.
  3. “Do not take the Green or Yellow line…” if: you hate pupusas; you don’t want to go to Target; you want to miss out on the city’s best chicken and waffles or some really remarkable cakes. (Those cakes were featured on the Today Show, son.)
  4. Look, I understand what he’s saying about crime. But a) his neighborhood statistics are surely outdated, and b), well, he’s exaggerating. If you do not know me in person, I stand an imposing five feet two inches tall, although my self-image is that of a seven-foot-tall point guard. I am half Asian, half white, and I look more like a Powerpuff Girl than any kind of reasonable adult. I have also worked in two of the neighborhoods this map expressly tells you to avoid – Columbia Heights, which is on the Green and Yellow line, and Trinidad/H Street, which doesn’t even really have a nearby metro. Between my job in youth development and my ex-boyfriend’s house, I’ve covered pretty much the entirety of Columbia Heights (which is almost all hipsters now anyway) and Mount Pleasant on foot. In the year and a half I lived in the city, I never – never, never, never, never, NEVER – had any sort of issue with crime. Because I was not an idiot. I stayed in well-lit areas, I traveled with others, I carried pepper spray, I stayed on the phone if I was alone so that someone would know where I was at all times. Many of the people who lived in those neighborhoods had been there for generations, especially in Trinidad, and I remembered when I was there that I was on someone else’s home turf. I was respectful, if not engaging, if anyone hollered at me on the street. I didn’t look scared, and I didn’t look disgusted, and no one gave me any shit. I’m not saying that if you do get mugged, it’s your fault, because that would be stupid; DC is a city, crime happens, and you shouldn’t be alone in the dark somewhere where you don’t know the terrain anyway. But what I’m also saying is that you’re going to miss a lot of the city if you stay in the proscribed areas described in this so-called “guide,” and you shouldn’t feel scared going to other parts of the District if you’re with others, you know where you are and where you’re going, and you’re not wearing your grandmother’s $15,000 diamond choker. Don’t be stupid, people.
  5. As has been discussed on this blog so many times before, I have difficulty with traditional political labels. I do know, however, a lot of very intelligent people who proudly identify as conservative or libertarian and who would have a real problem with this characterization of the city. Unfortunately, because the MSM (yes, I went there) and especially the blogosphere tend to skew very liberal, this is publicized as just another example of the Tea Party being a haven for idiots and bigots and not an ideological sparring partner. What I’m trying to say is: I’M IN YR PARTY, MAKIN U LOOK BAD.

And counterpoint, problems I have with the coverage of this issue, or I am not done with everyone yet:

  1. See #5. Dear Media, Please try to remember that not all conservatives are this loathsome. Some of them do just want a less intrusive government. Whether that is efficient is another matter, of course, but it’s separate from these morons. I know you won’t listen, but I can hope, right? Sincerely, More Or Less A Centrist.
  2. The map that’s being circulated showing the demarcated area isn’t accurate. If it was, the blue area would be a lot larger, as the current map doesn’t include Woodley Park, Van Ness, Tenleytown, Chevy Chase, or my old ‘hood, Cleveland Park, which, God bless it, might be the whitest neighborhood of all. Of course, the sentiment is correct: the guide largely (okay, entirely) focuses on the Caucasian-dominated areas of a mostly black city. But it’s hyperbole, and it makes an otherwise mostly legitimate critique look bad.

I cannot get that everloving map to zoom in any more, so zoom yourself or click on the link for a clearer delineation of where this guy actually says you can go.

Good Lord, as my grandmother used to say. I didn’t think I’d get so worked up about this issue, but here it is an hour later and I now know how to make shapes on Google Maps. I suppose I’ve gotten pretty attached to this city, even if I don’t want to live there right now. (For reasons that have nothing to do with the District, and everything to do with me.) Best Beloveds, in a world full of people, only some want to fly. Isn’t that crazy?**

*One of my father’s favorite expressions.

**Five points for the reference.


Tuesday, 7/27: overheard at the Residence Inn lobby in Concord, NC
July 27, 2010, 6:10 pm
Filed under: actual transcripts

A desk manager and an overweight, sweaty man are discussing the nature of the hotel’s pet policy.

CARLO YUEN, MANAGER You see, sir, it’s not that we don’t like dogs. We do. But we have to deep clean the rooms after every stay when we have a pet there, so we charge extra.

FAT MAN (nods) (looks at woman next to him) Luckily, our dogs are hairless.

Friday, 7/2: to the moon and back again
July 2, 2010, 7:57 pm
Filed under: actual transcripts, poetry, Uncategorized

For me, packing largely means throwing things away. I have a massive guilt complex surrounding the act of discarding – birthday cards, scraps of paper that could be useful, et cetera.

But we talked a lot in JustFaith about simplifying, and I don’t think anyone would argue that my life, in particular, actually needs to be more complicated. Most oddsmakers, in fact, would probably bet the opposite. So I’m about to pitch all of the papers I’ve been storing in my desk, including a collection of poetry written by the fourth graders at the school where I was teaching in the spring of 2009.

Some of these, however, need to be preserved. I suppose that’s what the internets are for, ultimately. So here you go.

My Sister


My sister is very
nice she is
the best sister.

My sister is cool
by playing things that
I like to play.

My sister is sweet
because when it is a
holiday she never
buys anything for
me she always makes the

– Ricky L.

Seeing Barack Obama

Me and my cousin got up
I went to McDonalds
for breakfast
then stopped
at my cousin’s house

We walked 27 blocks
We were ALL the way back
by the TV screens
I was jumping on people’s backs

Later we went
and made
hot chocolate.

– Remy H.

This next one I chose for its use of capitalization. Very dramatic.

When I Got In Trouble

I was sitting
my desk
then I started
then my teacher told me
So I
I’m the
So my
teacher said
Go to the
other class
(she meant back to second grade…)
I got
and I
had to deal with Mom…

– Jared B.

My Daddy


He takes good care of me each
and every day
My dad lets me help
him with the cooking

He helps me with my homework
each and every day


I love you Daddy to
the moon and back again

Peace, big Daddy.

– Jada M.

My Struggling Parents

My struggling parents struggle
But I really like it when they snuggled
Please stop arguing, I say
But they usually say just pray.
Shall I be happy or sad?
Shall I be complaining or mad?
The rain falls down and cry
I always ask mom, why?
Her response has been praying
And I can’t understand what she’s saying.
My mom and I pray together
We shall always pray, forever.
My dad always loved my mom.
My dad always tries to be calm.
Stay calm and pray, I say.
Stay together, forever, I pray.
Stay in progress.
Stay in success.
I keep saying please stay together
Stay together forever
Thank you for trying, but do you think I should be crying?

– Destanie M.

I like to view this next one as sort of Dada, largely because, despite my best efforts, I can make no sense of it at all.

The Beggar’s Wife

She was begging for money
She left him for money
She lives in a fancy mansion
Oops, I forgot to mention
He never comes home
I wonder where he has gone?
Did he go to Rome?
Maybe that’s it.

(P.S. He is in Rome.)

– Zion C.

My Dog

I miss my dog
I miss my dog
I really really do.

I miss my dog
I miss my dog
My father does, too.

– Lamont B.

Context for the next one: the author had emigrated eight months prior from El Salvador.
The Trip

One of the last days of June
My dad calls then
One of my cousins responds
Then my dad says pass the phone to Josue
Then I say hello then you’re coming to live with us
He surprised me that I was going
I was bouncing with happiness

In the morning
We woke up
We eat then we wait for a long time
We wait for two ladies to come pick us up.
She said who wants to go with them?
Then me and my grandma
And my sister
They let us go.

– Josue T.

A Thousand Dreams

I’m going to dream a thousand dreams
going to fly through the sky
just the birds and me.
I don’t care what they say about me.
I’m going to dream a thousand dreams.
I might be a doctor and help people feel good.
I might be an astronaut, if I do what I should.
I might be a teacher and help people read.
I might be the President and help people be free.

– Marjai S.

This Is For My Mommy

This is for my mother I got
to let her know how much
I love her there is no other
Here’s a song coming
straight from my
heart somewhere should I
yell I do lady I love you well
for talking to me when
I couldn’t talk for picking
me up when I couldn’t walk for teaching
like wrong from right
Thank you God, thank you
Mother for giving me life
You fed me when you
didn’t eat and still
kiss me and had love
when I was sick
I was young but I understood
She’s my mother
man’s best friend
See Pops never lied
he said nothing’s wrong
as I got older you
see the story goes on.

– Samuel P.

Tuesday, 6/8: talking ’bout my generation
June 7, 2010, 11:20 pm
Filed under: actual transcripts, life progress, television

Just a few notes.

1. Today’s Slate was full of good stuff, including but not limited to this review of tomorrow’s Glee season finale that says everything I’ve tried (and failed) to convey to the haters. Here’s the show, in one sentence:

[The band] Journey operates at much the same emotional register as a show that respects both the operatic inner lives of adolescents and the intelligence of an adult audience that’s heard this one before.

And here’s a couple more, in case you’re not convinced:

Glee creator Ryan Murphy has tweaked the song’s theme of constancy to spotlight the sweet buoyancy of first love. The transformation is typical of Glee‘s enlivening approach to familiar songs, its way of recontextualizing show tunes and radio staples to go deep with old coming-of-age themes.

Plus, here’s a video from tomorrow’s show. SO EXCITED AND SO NOT EMBARRASSED ABOUT MY EXCITEMENT EITHER.

ETA: I should probably point out that I’m a bit biased here re: the music. My father, a man who essentially taught himself how to be American with cowboys and classic rock, has been playing me Journey since I was two years old. (To be fair, I didn’t get the appeal until later, which doesn’t give me a lot more credibility than all these Steve-Perry-come-latelys, but I can say that I’ve been listening to Journey for a lot longer than most of my generation.) Which fact further endears to me to a show that hardly needs more of my affection.

2. I’m moving home on June 30th. I have mixed feelings about this, as I’ve come to really love this city. But I mostly need to save money, especially as I’m spending half of July on vacation in Hawai’i with Miguk Fam anyway. What this means is that if you actually know me in person and you read this blog, we should probably hang out before I leave. Then: to Boston. More updates on that later, I promise.

3. I had this conversation re: the movie Babies with my friend Saken* that I feel is pretty indicative of the place I and many of my friends are in our lives right now.

IGR This movie is amazing. Also, there are multiple scenes where babies hit each other with plastic bottles.

SAKEN Who would want to see that?

IGR Everyone, because it’s hilarious.

SAKEN Are you kidding? I’d beat the shit out of my baby if she did that.

IGR And then you’d be perpetuating the cycle, and she wouldn’t know how to do anything but hit.

SAKEN [long pause] Man, I am so not ready to be a father.

*Real name. Sorry for being inconsistent re: pseudonyms, but I’m feeling lazy.

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.

Tuesday, 2/2: some things are just too good not to share
February 2, 2010, 11:01 pm
Filed under: actual transcripts, 공부방 (after-school program)

Even when one’s day has made one want to jump off the bridge nearest to one’s house.

Playing Apples to Apples with a third grader named Kevin.

MS. IGR The word is “chewy.”

(Students put down cards.)

MS. IGR (flips one) “The Tooth Fairy.” Hm. Well, I guess I see how that could work, since the Tooth Fairy works with teeth.

KEVIN Also because she’s made of meat.