Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkey day, etc

I brought AJ home with me for Thanksgiving, and he was such a trooper! He had to deal with my whole clan-- four nights of family, meeting people, and answering questions (like, how did you get that name? and are you treating her right? You know, all the fun stuff...)

It was pretty great. We had a good week-- saw lots of family, some of Chicago (including the Bean, of course!) and ate a lot. Aside from AJ's being allergic to my house, it was great fun.
I got all sad, because I realized how much I miss both my biological family and my college surrogate family-- you! I know that I didn't appreciate my family much when I was at Yale, because I didn't need to. I had friends as close as family, whom I could rely upon for pretty much everything. And here, it's not quite the same. Grad school is decidedly less fun than college. But having you folks spread out over the whole country/world does make me appreciate my family. At least they're all in the same city, and I can visit them all at the same time!
Yesterday, Rita talked me into driving down to DC to meet her, Ben and Marcus for dinner. Dinner was lovely (my first fender bender was less lovely-- nothing to worry about, though). I got this fantastic picture of Ben and Rita on the ride back: stay classy, kids!

Oh! And, since I got a camera for my birthday, the photoblog is back online. Check it out

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My First Field Trip

So the New Orleans Hornets had a promotion on Friday night - for every adult ticket purchased you could get a child's ticket for free. The school decided to take advantage of this opportunity to take our babies to the game! About half of the students we took (the best behaved ones) got to stand courtside to watch the team warm-up, and two second grade students got to be the ball boy/girl for warm-up. We had about 50 students there in all, and they had a blast. They got tattoos, balloon swords, pizza, coke, cotton candy, and popcorn and got to cheer and dance and watch some b-ball (too bad the Hornets aren't as good as the Saints, though). All in all it was a really positive night that everyone enjoyed a lot.

After the game I got to take two of my students home, which was quite an adventure. They had an interesting discussion in the backseat on the merits of staying on green on our behavior board and how they just don't understand why some kids choose not to follow directions the first time. I told them I don't understand either.

It was also very interesting to see where my babies live. One of them lives out in the eastern part of New Orleans, near the 9th ward. Her section of town is about four feet below sea level and has made very little progress since Katrina. Nearly all of the houses are abandoned and still have the X's on the door from when they were searched for bodies after the storm. The other kid lives in the Iberville Projects, located very near my school. I knew the projects were not safe, especially at night, but I had to get this kid home. So, I put on my big girl boots and hoped that no one would attack a five year old kid and a teacher wearing her school's t-shirt. I made it through the projects to my kid's door where the grandmother promptly told me I was crazy. She said it was way too dangerous for anyone, much less a young white girl, to walk through there at night. She walked me back to my car, saying that people know not to mess with her and her family and that she was going to strut back home like a proud peacock. I gave her a hug when I safely made it back to my car and thanked my lucky stars nothing happened to me. This is one of the most dangerous places in New Orleans, and I made it out alive! I now have major street cred and a better understanding of where my kids come from. It was an intense night from start to finish.

Btdubs, I would still love donations for my classroom to be named the Yale classroom! I know a couple of y'all have already donated and thank you thank you thank you! You're helping to create the Yale class of 2026 and develop college-bound students for leadership and life long learning. If you too want to help develop college-bound scholars starting in kindergarten, please visit and click on the donate button on the left. Then, be sure to tell me that you donated so that I can a) thank you and b) tell the office manager to allocate the money to my room. Thank you for the support!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Back in the South

Hi everyone! Hope y'all are doing well. Just wanted to report on the awesome football and music trip that I took last weekend riding shotgun to Rita. As y'all know, I love my summer camp in Mississippi and was there at the beginning of the summer. Well, my friends said they wanted me to come visit them at an Ole Miss game this fall, so without much convincing, I booked a flight a few weeks ago, and headed down for the game versus Arkansas on October 24th. I flew into Memphis, where I got to see the ducks at the Peabody hotel and Beale Street (just want y'all to know that it looks like a lame imitation of Bourbon Street), then Rita picked me up and we drove to Oxford, where Ole Miss is. We stayed with my friend and wandered around the gorgeous downtown square, and spent a while at the famous Square Books, an awesome bookstore. (However, I did not need to buy a book as I had brought Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, which I am still reading.) We went to bed early, since we knew we had a big day on Saturday.

Let's just say that Rita was in a dress and I was wearing a sportcoat at 9:30 in the morning - and we were both drinking Bloody Maries. Then we went over to the Grove, which is where the tailgating for the games takes place. It's a huge tree-shaded quad filled with tents overflowing with people eating good food and enjoying good drinks. As Rita aptly said, "I've never seen so many well-dressed white people in one place before in my life." I think I agree. So we spent time with my friends there, chatting, people watching, and soaking up a tailgating experience a little more elaborate than ever happens at Yale. Plenty of pretty girls to look at, but not all of them are great conversationalists, or well read, either. Unsurprising, but still unfortunate. Rita had a great time telling my camp friends and some folks I didn't know about my streaking activities and general nekkidnes. They were bemused, but not really shocked, I think. Then we headed into the game for an 11:30 kickoff, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching good football live in person. Rita and I were both intrigued by the halftime show put on by the Ole Miss band. There was no script and there appeared to be a large number of straight lines and complicated movements while playing. Very odd. And the band seemed to play maybe six songs during the game. I think we should sell Junta arrangements on the cheap to non-scatter bands, 'cuz Lord knows Ole Miss needed to be playing a greater variety of music. After the game, which Ole Miss won, we went back to the Grove for more food and drink.

Then, after dinner, we drove an hour and change (to the sounds of an awesome CD of blues rock music) to meet the one and only Dave DeAngelis in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in the heart of the Delta. It's a pretty rugged town where Dave and his band of fellow Delta TFAers practice on Saturdays. We met him and his friends at an epic hole in the wall called Red's Juke Joint. You have to see it to believe it. I don't think there's anything '09 has collectively seen that can compare, but I guess I can try by saying that it makes Rudy's look like the Ritz. Really. So at Red's the bar consists of a beat up old fridge behind the counter, from which you can get a 24 oz. Bud or Bud Light in a can for something like $3. And with a $5 cover, you are treated to seriously legit finger pickin blues. Rita and I were both blown away. So that was awesome. Afterwards Rita and I spent the night at the huge mansion in which Dave's Clarksdale friends live, which a big TFA supporter in town rents to them crazy cheap because he lives in his hunting lodge. No joke. So imagine six 24 year old young men living in an ornate 4,500 square foot house with a few Keystone cans and Nerf bullets in the grand hall. Rather surreal place to sleep after a long 18 hour day. And I was just a passenger to all of the driving Rita did on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (Thanks again, Rita!). My only jobs during the trip were to clean up nice and drink, both of which I did with aplomb. And then on Sunday morning, we drove back to Memphis, where Rita dropped me off at the airport.

So that was the trip I took back down South with Rita as my Mississippian fellow-traveler. It was really awesome, and also an interesting cultural endeavor for us. I had never done anything quite so over-the-top Deep South, and I had never been to the Delta, either. The ghosts of the Old South are still there in Mississippi, and that's definitely not always a good thing (Case in point: hearing current Ole Miss students shout "The South will rise again!" at the end of a school song. I mean, where do you go from there? At least there weren't too many rebel flags.) But seeing the bulletholes in the main Ole Miss administration building dating from the siege which happened when James Meredith integrated the school in 1962 is compelling. They didn't fill the holes in. Still there. Undoubtedly I'm forgetting some good stories, but I'm sure Rita will post them or tell them soon enough. I look forward to seeing all of y'all at the Game in two and a half weeks! Take care everybody!
PS Big kid life is still treating me well in DC. Work is good, and Steve and I remain a happy domestic couple.

Monday, November 2, 2009

being a grownup, kinda

This weekend, AJ and I took a little trip out to "wild and wonderful" West Virginia. We visited Harper's Ferry, which is currently celebrating the 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid. This is us standing in front of the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah, which was really pretty, all decked out in fall foliage and hilly prettiness.
We had a great time, but felt pretty off the generational average-- the youngest folks were infants and toddlers, and the oldest were grandparents. But the next oldest set (aside from us) was that 28-35 set of couples, of which we are decidedly not a part. It reminded me how young we still are, really.... sometimes I feel old, and then real life pokes me and reminds me that is really quite absurd.

Anyway, I'm really missing you all, and can't wait for The Game! I can't be there until late evening on Friday, but better late than never!!