Note to self

Dear Lindsay of 30 Minutes Ago;

I bet you TOTALLY think it would be ok to eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cheesecake Brownie ice cream in one sitting, and then wash it down with a beer! I bet you are thinking — dude, it is WARM OUT, let’s get this feast STARTED. But I am here to tell you, Lindsay of 30 Minutes Ago, that no. It is a poor choice. A poor choice.

Sincerely,

Lindsay of the Present

Windows

There’s something poetic about walking by an open window on a warm, breezy night just as the person inside, backlit by a soft glow, turns and closes it.

Ocean temps

I just ran across a blog post on WordPress.com’s “top posts” section titled “Mixed Signals in Land and Ocean Temps” — I think it was about land/sea temperatures, but I totally envisioned a bunch of fresh-faced temps… women in their too-tight pencil skirts and awkward high heels, dudes in khakis and ill-fitting dress shirts, finding out that their temp agency had sent them to… The ocean. I imagine them walking with trepidation to meet their sea captains, so they might begin their day of filing star charts.

Dumb but not that dumb

Don posted recently about the public education system in the U.S.

Me? I am firmly against the prevailing ethos that stresses: Do as you’re told. Do no more and no less. Listen for the bell. Watch the clock.

In an ideal world, my classroom would be heavy on the experiential, inquiry-based learning — asking questions, creating projects that interest them. I once heard about a school in Minnesota that’s almost entirely project-based, and the students do it all: they open the doors with their own keys in the morning and sweep the floors before they leave in the evening. In high school, I couldn’t stand any class except journalism, where our only task was to envision our final product, create it, and share it.

I worked at a “small school” that was supposed to do something like this on the South Side.  Once a huge, impersonal high school, South Shore was divided into four smaller schools of about 400 kids, each with its own principal, though they shared a building. For the first couple years, with funding from the Gates foundation, it worked — students learned in small classes, teachers knew everyone in the school and worked as a team, students were matched with local businesses and went on internships every Wednesday, the entire faculty and staff gathered for an annual retreat to plan strategically as an entire school.

Then the funding dried up for internships and retreats, the district pushed for the school to take on more students, behavioral problems started taking center stage, and even though there were only 500 students in the school, the staff had been overwhelmed, the principal was focused on discipline, and pretty soon the entire model had derailed.

Schools need more funding and district leadership that will set schools on a well-planned, visionary course. But the gap between dreams and reality, right now, seems unbelievably huge. I once thought that no one could figure out the magic formula for fixing public education, and if only I tried hard enough, researched enough, worked enough, I could help figure it out. The real truth is, people in power don’t want this problem fixed. People with money don’t care enough about the kids without money.  And why would they? They’d just be creating more competition for themselves. We, as a society, are dumb — but not that dumb. We’ve figured out how to fit 90 hours of sound onto a thumbnail-sized chip, but we can’t figure out how to get through second period without Damien and Laron punching each other in the face?

A new Neo show opens its sticky little wings and flies

There’s a show opening this week at The Neos. Which means I am a bit of a frazzlepuff. But the good news is that the show is getting a lot of good press, and from what I’ve seen it’s fucking hilarious and deals with the question plaguing me and many of my friends: “Uh, this arts career thing? If I keep it up, does it mean that I will die in an unmarked grave after having subsisted on a diet of oatmeal and cold pizza?” It’s called Picked Up. You should see it.

Update: I just re-read this post and realized that, due to the construction of my sentence, it sounds like I will be buried alive in an unmarked grave and then officially die.  Which is actually funnier.

Grapple

On Tuesday morning, my dad drove me to the airport. Before we parted ways he gave me a Grapple. Apparently, this is an apple that somehow also tastes like a grape. He gave it to me like it was a really important object; they’re a dollar each! But he thought, you know, he should treat me.  I bit into it while waiting at the gate for my flight to take off. Turns out, these Grapples, they mess with your mind: This grape is so huge and crispy! This apple is so grapey!

 I could never get behind purple ketchup, due to the same issue. My synapses get all confused.

So much undone

I spent the weekend, mostly, with my younger sisters and my grandparents, watching both home movies and reality t.v.

With this alchemy of influences, time seemed to speed up exponentially, like when my dad used to spin the playground carousel a little too hard and we’d have to hang on tight, wedging our Keds up against the bars to stay on. I soaked up flashes of everything, one after the other, Clockwork Orange-style: the innocence of my younger sister’s first baby movies and the tender love of our young parents as they posed with us; the deadening decadence of all the catty contestants on Rock of Love, the grief that comes with being 85 and losing so much, the undeniably heartbreaking emotion of being voted off American Idol; how at age four, I jumped and skipped at random times, like a little jumping bean, as a simple plea for attention; the way that we’re all reaching towards something, working harder than ever, for what? A spot on America’s Next Top Model? The chance to be elderly and awake? I boarded the plane this morning full of conflicting thoughts, feeling like I’ve been asleep through too many waking hours.