Intrepid Girl Reporter

Sunday, 8/15: o hai
August 16, 2010, 12:45 am
Filed under: life progress

I’ve been passing the time lately by writing lists. It’s an oddly satisfying habit, and one that the casual observer, seeing me in all my disarray, might not be conditioned to expect; but I like lists for the same reason that everyone else likes lists, which is to say that they impose a certain order on the world. And they’re fun to make, in a certain narcissistic way. Either you’re required to be self-involved, or you get to focus on how much you know (or don’t).

For those five of you who have noticed that I’ve been posting increasingly on my Tumblr and less onto here, and for the three of those five who might be disappointed about that state of affairs, rest assured: there is a plan, one that has to do (somewhat) with my (largely nonexistent, but still planned, really) website. But I suppose there’s a bit more to it than that: spending all of this time alone, or more or less alone, drives one away from introspection. I spend enough time without anything to distract me from my own thoughts. I don’t know that I need to go further. Or that it would be productive. It probably would be productive, in that I would be *forced* to write and therefore forced to improve my writing skillz, but I’ve spent enough years in my own head to develop a certain skittishness about going too deep. These are all issues that I should probably work out. Nonetheless, I’ve done okay so far. (Emphasis on okay.)

I’ve been trying to post more to Lancelot Sturgeon, too, but as much as I hate to admit it, those entries don’t come as naturally to me. I love it, I love writing about food and thinking about food and I want and I plan to get better, but I don’t feel as comfortable there as I do here. My voice here is well settled. People know me. And if they don’t know me, they don’t know my name, which, again, probably for the best. I want to be able to write about what I eat with the same frankness and enthusiasm with which I discuss basketball players’ nicknames or my children, but I’m still stretching into that form. I’m trying to abandon my self-consciousness. Hopefully you’ll see it by the side of the road soon.

The summer hasn’t been filled with much, a lot of crafting and some cooking, apple fritters from Pal’s, freelancing for too little money. If nothing else, this summer has allowed me to brush up on my knowledge of paracord tutorials, welding schools in Colorado, and how to locate the parts number of an iBook. I had this idea that I would make enough money freelancing to head to Geneva and visit Rooms, along with someone else that I met here in the States and liked very much, but it didn’t happen. So I went to move my little brother into His School, a well-known and lovely Southern institution that is, quite frankly, located in a swamp, instead. I have a lot of things I’ve assigned myself to work on, and I’m glad I have all this time, but despite myself, I’m starting to get a little itchy for movement.


Thursday, 8/5: Cornell, ever heard of it?
August 5, 2010, 10:50 pm
Filed under: don't judge me, education, life progress, Uncategorized

It is much to my shame that I confess I, a former student of international development, am currently reading a book entitled Teach Yourself Economics. The main issue is that I took Econ 110 (or 101, if you went somewhere other than My School) and then talked my professors into letting me skip macro and micro in favor of more interesting classes, such as Economic Development. The other issue is that I am good at doing well in classes without studying efficiently (or very much at all, for that matter), which is convenient at the time and completely inconvenient three years later, when you find yourself googling “Oedipus effect” and waiting to see what washes up.

Anyway, this is part of my preparation for next month, when I will be studying for realsies, and I’m kind of enjoying it. Actually, I’m totally enjoying it. I can’t wait to get back into class. I am also trying out the Cornell System, which is working so far, as it requires me to constantly ask myself questions to review. This is what I did with three-year-olds and disobedient Korean teens alike, and it always seemed to work, which is why it’s a bit remarkable that it’s taken me this long. I’m also debating whether or not to use my laptop for notes; my typing is infinitely faster and clearer than my handwriting, but I have discovered over the past year or so (again, why so long?) that I prefer to draw diagrams and make lists and create elaborate arrow things when I study, and while my skill with my Wacom is growing, I still can’t make a legible sentence with it. I can’t believe that writing in a notebook is actually sort of archaic. My kids will probably press a button and have a sort of adding-machine receipt just click out of their ears, or something.

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.

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.