By Corinne Flax
October 18, 2006
Pretty Damn Bleak
I feel like Iím drowning, in school work that is. Iíve got more essays, reaction papers, and assessments due then I like to think about. Thereís proposals for imaginary programs run out of real museums . Thereís an age level study draft with no fewer then 4 different sources as well as my own field notes. Said field notes were left at the school in the Bronx where I work on Monday. They will not be retrieved until tomorrow, whereupon they will go on an apple picking field trip with the rest of the second grade.
Working with children is amazing. Every day that I go into PS 51 I feel good, really really good. I donít sit there during the day and wish I could go outside and take a walk, which is how Iíve felt at most jobs recently. Iím sure with time the buzz of being around kids all the time will wear off, but for now itís amazing. What isnít amazing is what this working during the day is doing to me. To whit: I am not a night person.
I know what youíre thinking. Youíre thinking Corinne Iíve heard you talk about more late nights out with your friends then I care to think about. And itís true: I go out all the time and stay out late without any problems at all. What I donít do is read educational theory at night, not if I get up at 6:00am that day. I just donít believe that I can do it, and this probably means I havenít tried as hard as I could have to do it.
Added with this is the fact that the last two weekends have been less then ideal for homework. So tonight Iím sitting here facing the reality of my having so much work to do and not enough time to do it right. I think to myself, well perhaps I can half-ass it, and thatís part of the problem. Iím not a perfectionist, Iím a get it done and get it out here kind of person. That attitude just doesnít fly in graduate school and probably not at most of the places I would ideally like to work some day.
Sometimes I worry that Iím not the kind of person who should even bother with this stuff. Maxine Greene, an amazing theorist who wrote a piece on freedom which changed my life, is going to be speaking at Montclair State University. Part of me wants to go, and part of me knows that it is almost impossibly difficult for me to sit in an audience and listen to a speech without falling asleep. Itís a serious problem. Greene stated that freedom was something more then being able to do whatever you wanted when ever you wanted. She said that freedom was being able to know the difference between the choices placed in front of you. Or something like that. Regardless, it made me open my eyes a lot about the ideals I had in my own life. Iím afraid that if I go see her Iíll fall asleep, and that is the lamest thing in the world.
I could be making things out to be bleaker than they are. Most people Iíve talked to in class seem to be as backlogged with work as I am. Also itís raining and cold out today, and I couldnít go for a walk or bike ride so thereís been no spirit cleansing exercise or the accompanying adrenaline rush. Plus Iíve got PMS, which means my tits hurt, Iím hungry all the time, and prone to dark moods. The only solution is going to be to get my shit together and get my work done.
October 06, 2006
I Used To Call My Gradmother Mega
My grandmother is dieing. For various medical reasons that have been summed up into the word Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), her body is no longer processing oxygen the way it needs to. This isn’t all that surprising because CHF is a disease of the elderly, and my grandmother is 92. CHF sent my grandmother into the hospital on Friday. Despite having heard nurses, doctors, and my parents discuss my grandmother’s illness I don’t really understand what happened. I do know that for four nights my grandmother had attacks during which she became disoriented and violent, necessitating her sedation. Now she is lying in the Hospice wing at Norwalk Hospital on a whole lot of morphine, completely unconscious, with an oxygen tube.
My grandmother is going to die. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. The thing that is certain is that she is on her way out. At least that’s what they’re saying at the hospital, but these things seem to change. Yesterday my sister and I rushed home because of the attack that has led to the death-wait we are on now. Previously my grandmother had been as chipper as a 92 year old living in a assisted living complex is expected to be. She played bingo, complained about the food, felt sad because she didn’t have a car, and looked forward to seeing her grandchildren. Grandchildren of which there were two, of which I am one.
Situations like this don’t feel real. Even as they are going on you’re logic denies them. A part of me finds it hard to believe that my grandmother won’t just jump up and be normal again, after all it was only two days ago that she was able to sit in a chair on her own and carry on a conversation. A part of me wonders why, if my grandmother really isn’t ever going to wake up and recognize her family again, why can’t we just give her enough morphine so she falls asleep completely?
My grandmother passed away in her sleep on 10.5.06. Tomorrow we bury her, which seems very quick and efficient. Her only family were my father, sister, mother, and myself, and we’re all local. All of this is sad. All of this is necessary. All of this is real, despite how it feels, which is dreamlike and strange.
No picture this week. Sorry.
September 29, 2006
I Am Not A Racist
This morning I woke up at 6:30am and nearly threw myself out of my bed. “Oh no!” I thought, “Everything is wrong and I have to get to work!” Then I remembered that I don’t teach on Fridays, instead I get to sit at home reading and writing. As I sank back into my pillow I wondered if maybe I ought to just get up anyway, then I laughed and went back to sleep. Freaky Fridays, Fabulous Fridays, Fantastic Fridays, Focused Fridays, Fecund Fridays, I love, love, love Friday.
The one thing that I miss more then anything from my days of being a Barista were my leisurely mornings. I could wake up, type up a blog, do some sit ups, drink tea, stare into space, organize my room, pick my ass, whatever! Rarely did I have to leave my house before 2:00pm, and it was nice. All that being said I don’t want to turn back time one little bit. I’m happy getting up at 6:30 and heading out to the Bronx, really I am.
What I’m not happy about right now is a sort of backwards racism/classism that I’m becoming aware of at my school. I should have expected it, it happens anywhere liberals gather and begin to discuss the problems of race, class, societal expectations, and what we can do now! It’s like trying to take the writer’s cannon and insert ethnic writers into that white boys club, claiming that this is equity. It’s not equity, it’s not the same. You don’t make things right by saying that they are equal in the eyes of the arts.
I’m not sure if my point here is clear. I’ll try to explain in another way. We were discussing the Metropolitan Museum of Art in one of my classes and it was designated as a European museum. A museum that was created for white people and caters more or less exclusively to them. As a white liberal it is my job to nod and say, “oh yes, yes indeed.” I also, due to the school I go to, am expected to not only be liberal, but also progressive. Therefore not only must I believe that the Met is a bastion of imperialism, but I have to think that this is bad. At least, that’s the feeling I’m getting from my classes, and I love the Met, I cannot think that it is bad, just like I can’t dislike Shakespear even if he did write about Blacks, Jews, and women using terms which today sound an awful like slurs.
I can accept that I am a member of a elitist, intellectual, almost exclusively white portion of society, and this accounts for my love of existing standards and practices within museums. It would be a lie to say that I don’t enjoy my elitist position. I now feel obligated to say that I think museums can do a lot more to connect with their communities, but at the same time I think that it’s at least partially the communities job to reach out to their resources. You don’t expect a nugget of gold to jump out of a streambed and knock you upside the head, why would you expect culture to do that?
So that is what I’m thinking about this morning, hope it was entertaining.
September 22, 2006
Last Day of Summer
September is bleeding away at a rate I find preposterous. Currently I’m stuck in an internal dialogue that goes like this:
I can’t believe you spend so much time thinking about needing to work harder, and so little time working hard. What makes you think it’s ok to go out two or even three nights a week and drink so much beer? At the very least it’s going to make you fat, and at the worst it’s going to kill you someday. Stop getting off on abusing your liver and your ego!
Of course my personal recriminations very rarely have any affect at all on my behavior, so it’s really just me nattering on at myself for absolutely no reason. Of course when I express my desire to be a better all around person to my friends they laugh at me and tell me I’m doing fine. I think though, that it’s better to think you need to improve then to be complacent with yourself, of course if my desire is a mask to hide my inner complacency with my being then where the hell does that leave me? Sitting at my computer writing this blog, obviously.
I’m sure I’ve shared these sentiments of disquiet with my imperfections before, but yesterday something wonderful happened that made these feelings of doubt and distrust seem laughable. Yesterday I taught my first whole class lesson at P.S. 51, and I have to tell you that it went awesomely wonderfully well! I’ve always wondered if there was something I was destined to be really good at. I dared to hope that there would be more then one thing, possibly even three. Over the years I’ve found a few things which I am undoubtedly good at, but none of these things (with the exception of writing), have proved to be the sorts of things you do professionally. I do hold out hope that someone will hire me to taste ice-cream on a professional level, but it’s a thin hope. So it was really wonderful to lead a lesson and to feel how naturally I used concrete educational theories to teach kids about the number 10.
On Monday I’m going to teach another math lesson. I feel like math is probably going to be a lot easier for me then reading or writing. Primarily I feel this way because reading and writing are sort of mysterious. There’s no real logic to them the way there is to math. Math, on the elementary school level, is the least mysterious thing in the world if you teach it the right way and I’m really excited about this. What I’m not feeling as excited about is the whole museum thing. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve chosen the right major. The more time I spend in the classroom the more I like it, and the more I wonder if I am going to like working in museums in the same way.
The only way to really figure this all out is to give it a shot, but is it worth it to stay the course with this if it’s the wrong path? It’s all so complicated.
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