Sunday, February 24, 2008

My adventures in acting

I’ve heard it said that an acting teacher knows what part is right the moment she meets you. Which is why I was a little afraid when my acting for beginners teacher chose a monologue delivered by a manic-depressive character trying to impress a blind date for me to work on for the entire length of the class. Don’t over think this. Don’t think about this at all. Still, I can’t help but think because that is what I do. Do I seem manic? That is the exact line that Jasmine delivered at the beginning of her date, the line that the class told me I delivered so well. At the risk of seeming crazy, I’m going to answer my own question, in a word: sometimes. It’s been hard not to see parallels between me and my precious character Jasmine from Sweethearts, and that’s exactly what one wants, right? Of course right.

Never having been on an actual date, I always end up picturing what my first will be and if it will be anything like Jasmine’s Jasmine is nervous, really. That’s what it all boils down to. She’s so nervous having just come out of the psychiatric wing of a very different VA hospital, she talks to fill space. And in the end ends up convincing her date, and herself that she’s not actually ready to date, let a lone have an actual relationship. I feel sorry for her actually, and it’s hard not to turn that pity on myself.

But really, I’m curious as to why this woman, acting teacher, a woman I’ve known all of under 30 minutes, chose me for this role. True, I was the only single woman under 30 in the class. True, I probably seemed more than anxious on our first day of class when I had to introduce myself. But manic? Not a far cry. She probably thought.

“Do you smoke?” she asked curiously.
“No.” I said firmly. A lot of things I might have been, but a smoker I definitely was not.
“This will be perfect!” She exclaimed as she took a piece of paper from her notebook and handed it to me.
I read the first line to myself.
“Do you have light?”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Stay tuned. You'll get updates eventually.

Every now and again I come across a PostSecret postcard...

...that couldn't have said it better.

And neither could the note below the card. Genius.

"Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2008 10:52 AM
Subject: To the teacher

Our children are our lives and we're in your classroom because we know how little some of you really care about them and about us. Our little secret? We don't trust you with our children unless we're keeping an eye on you."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Kissing workshop

I thought you looked familiar. You should look familiar; you’re the girl from the kissing workshop, no? You’re the girl who taught me that there should be a number that a first kiss and a last kiss should both be. No more, no less and I hung on to this valuable information for more time than I care to admit. I remember listening to you stand up on that four-poster bed in the middle of Bleakley County Community center and definitively speak up while holding a bright red lipstick in one hand and a Gumby doll in the other. You were clearly taking on the instructor role, and you were so beautiful. I wanted to be you, and I don’t know how many other little girls wanted to be you too.

My friend Marilyn asked you, “How long should it last?” She was clearly a devoted follower. She clearly knew what she was doing. She clearly brought little unassuming me with her that day. I felt a little out of my league. While she was the one asking the questions, I was the one staring at the sign that read “Kissing Workshop” in bright red-stenciled letters. Did you make that sign yourself? I was more interested in the sign than the advice. I was only fourteen, and most of the boys I knew still had cooties. This might come in handy two years from now, but really? Why wouldn’t it just make sense to go with the flow of the moment when it happened, if it did? She didn’t mean to ask that question out loud, but apparently it slipped out because the next thing I knew I was up on the bed in front of thirty other girls not knowing what to do. Why me?

If you had told me this was going to happen a week ago, I never would have believed you. I should still be in bed. Fast asleep, dreaming of something like this. Anything would have been better than this! She told me the groundhog saw its shadow today. That is bad news, but not worse than this. “You are the girl from second period English with Mr. Faulkner, aren’t you? You are the girl from the cross-country team aren’t you?” I heard the question but not the place of origin. Who was asking all of these questions? I was, I was the person from all of these places, but I wouldn’t admit it to just anyone. Why did she want to know?

In a moment of panic, I looked around for Marilyn. Why would she abandon me like that?

I work for a living, how bout you?

Working for a living, living to work, good jobs, bad jobs, crazy bosses, being the boss, mentors, getting paid, office space, working overtime, going back to work, getting fired, getting your dream job, being a morning person vs. night person, carpools and after school, daily routines and why we break them.

To grad school or not to grad school? That is the question. I’ve been servicing nationally for close to two years now and I’ve yet to determine what my next move will be. And its not like I haven’t been trying. I really want to know. I just wish someone could roll a magic pair of dice or an eight ball and tell me what I should be doing next year, and the next, and the next after that in order to be happy. I wish it were that easy.
I always dreamed I’d want to be a teacher. Teachers were so confident, sure of themselves, and warm. I never hesitated in asking a teacher for their opinion, or for approval. I graduated from a major university in the southeast with a degree in Early Childhood Education with the intention of becoming a teacher, but why would that work for me? I’m shy, I’m withdrawn, and I hate public speaking worse than death. Why would teaching be the career for me?
My mentors said I’d grow into the position. I was intelligent and hardworking and I’d find an age group and grade and school combination that would work for me. But they weren’t there the day I chose to ask a million questions and successfully resign my third-grade classroom after two weeks in the classroom. They weren’t there also when I was willing to take on a first grade classroom and give that up only two months later. I hated the idea of doing the same thing everyday. I hated the idea of being the decisive element in the classroom. Or did I? I loved it and hated it. But how can a love also be a hate?
I had so many questions. I was drawn to elementary school teaching after a few successful camp gigs and babysitting jobs and a love for the unconventional career. But what I loved about it turned into being what I hated about it. I worked harder than I had ever worked before in setting up my classroom but I still couldn’t bring myself to face children on a daily basis. I dreaded going to work everyday. I loved going to work, but what would everyone think of me? Was it just the anxiety talking? I wanted so desperately to be loved by my coworkers. I had no life outside of work, because I didn’t believe I deserved one.
Fast forward three years and I find myself back in a school, only five states north of where I began my teaching career. I’m still desperately alone and desperately seeking approval. But I no longer am responsible for a classroom. I am an AmeriCorps member and a loyal classroom assistant/tutor/mentor/general do-gooder. I like this much better, but I don’t know how much longer I can do this.
I don’t know how much longer I can continue knowing I could be doing so much more. I could be challenging myself beyond my potential. Instead of doing what teachers tell me, I want to be the teacher telling someone else what to do, but I know I will probably freak out knowing that I have to do just that. I’m clueless about the work world, and with a degree, I’m just as clueless about the classroom.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of working in a school and being single. No, I’ll amend that statement. There is nothing quite like moving from over a thousand miles away to work in a school on a National Service stipend as a single woman over the age of 25. It gets much, much better. I have a teaching degree and I’ve been out of school for over three years. I absolutely love the judge-mental stares I get when I tell people that no, I didn’t move here to follow a guy and it didn’t work out. I just came up here, to Minnesota, on my own. It would almost be better if I did follow a guy up here and get dumped on the spot. I’d get more sympathy that way.
Not that I’m looking for sympathy at all. It was my decision to move to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I’m sticking to it. Below zero temperatures and all, I wanted the experience of the north Midwest metropolis for at least a year and I sure as hell got it. It doesn’t matter that I spend most of my weekends alone. Contemplating what got me into this mess. Some people choose school, others romantic relationships. I choose the relationship I have with myself, and with the country.
My dreams were shattered in Georgia, and are being lived, as much as they can be, in Minneapolis. I’m a teacher’s assistant. I’m lower than a teaching assistant. You can’t get any lower on the school staff food chain than me. I’m an AmeriCorps tutor and mentor. I take shit from more than teachers. I have eight different bosses. And what’s worse is I don’t even know if I want to be a teacher anymore!
I have the opportunity to move to New York in September, and I have no idea what I’d do there either. I just want so desperately to get away from here, to make a fresh start.
The harder you fall, the higher you bounce.
Doug Horton

If this is the case, when is it my turn to shoot for the moon? I feel as if I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster ever since I walked out on my teaching contract back in 2005. When is it my turn to feel really successful because of something I did?

And don't ask me who Doug Horton is. I don't know. But if you would like to tell me, that would be cool too.

I watch the snow swirl from the cafĂ© in the dark on Nicollet Ave. Who would have guessed I’d have landed myself here? I was the invisible girl five years ago. Five years ago I was in college. Five years ago was 2003. I was in my junior year of college. Acknowledge the fact that you are recovering from an eating disorder coupled with an anxiety disorder of sorts. It’s hard. You struggle. But you shouldn’t have to struggle alone. You should be able to sit and watch the snow swirl in the street lamps with an arm snuggled around you for comfort. You shouldn’t have to do this alone. You should be able to talk to someone about this. Did I move to Minneapolis to run away? What am I running from? And why did I choose the frozen North Country?
I’m so confused right now!

But the snow seems so peaceful when you watch it swirl from the comfort of a heated room. It’s chaotic, but poetic at the same time. It’s almost as if each flake has a destination. It spirals around aimlessly, like it’s looking for something, a mate, perhaps, and then crashes to the ground. Where it will either make it into a pile of banked snow or melt on the asphalt. And pretend that it never existed.


I thought you looked familiar. You are the girl from second period English with Mr. Faulkner, aren’t you? You are the girl from the cross-country team aren’t you? Yes, I was all of those things, I thought to myself, but I was never quite ready to admit them to just anyone. Sure I did this, and sure I did that, but don’t they know that was only to keep myself busy? For the few meaningless hours I was at school? So I remember being the kid who busily buried her nose in the nearest book when I saw a teacher coming, just to keep from having to make small talk. Small talk was so, well, small.

I could hear the click of her high heels a mile away, and so could her students. All across the Ordway this morning there are teachers everywhere secretly praying parents dropped low-dose sedatives in their child’s cornflakes. Not a lot, but just enough to keep the little squirmy angels from doing major damage to their delicate reputations, not to mention the reputation of the school.

Another of my journal posts from earlier in the service year

August 15, 2007

Another day of training, I tell you I will be happy when I start working in the school. I had a really good conversation with M when we did our “walk around the lake” but then she started with her lawsuit tirade against the school district and would not shut up and if this goes on for much longer I will have no choice but to put an end to it. She could potentially be a great person to work with, but who knows. She could also be very dramatic as well. I also had a good lunch conversation as well with Sarah, the new program coordinator and two-year City of Lakes alum. She’s a really nice person.

This evening I drove around and got lost but had a good time doing it and then came home and Chanda had her friends over and so when I finished talking to people at home and the grandmother I ventured downstairs for a glass of milk (after having a little too much wine) and ended up having the nicest conversation with Chanda and Raul and her friend while watching Maya’s favorite: The Land Before Time.

I’m really getting a great feeling about this year. These are awesome people and I think this year is going to go very well. I have to remember to keep my eyes out for the job front and call Leigh-Ann back, because she did return my call. Horray for people I know and love. And horray for people I don’t know but feel like I can love in the future!

Some stuff from my journal, I'm being surprisingly open tonight, take advantage of it

August 2, 2007

I received a letter today. Snail mail from a former camper, needless to say, I was ecstatic. I never receive mail other than credit card statements and advertising circulars; so when I got a handwritten, personally addressed postcard with my camp name on it, I began jumping for joy. This means I really did make a difference in the life of a camper. However small, this makes me feel really big.

All my life I have looked up to my teachers. It would be safe to say that my teachers were my Gods. Never having been to church as a child, I always felt like I needed some form of guidance and leadership. It would also be safe to say that I feel like I’m lacking that leadership now that I’m in my mid-20s. I have come to depend on it, thriving with deadlines, school assignments, editing on papers, and just generally someone older and wiser to talk to.

This lack of guidance, I believe, is at the core of my self-imposed quarter-life crisis. This is a crisis that began at the end of my senior year of college. I was student teaching after choosing the highly practical early childhood education degree from the University of Georgia. I loved children, and believed that I could make a difference with my camp experience and the fact that I loved school myself.

I think, though, that I only loved the idea of school. When I needed to be in charge, I fell apart. I could not handle the responsibility. I wanted someone there always to check to make sure I was doing this right. The only thing that was wrong with me was my total, utter lack of self-confidence. That, and I always gave myself these negative messages.

I came to find out a few years later that what I was suffering from was a severe anxiety attack, followed by periods of depression. Then I began thinking that even this was a cop-out answer. No one else has problems like this. Why do I need to even see a counselor? I hated my first therapist. However, I needed someone to talk to desperately.

First panic attack at camp. Chestnut gait, I had just come back from taking my teaching certification exam in Atlanta and it was the beginning of our first session. It was also the beginning of my first session in charge. All of the counselors living with me that session were new; I was the only returning and the oldest. It was up to me to make sure the unit didn’t fall apart. The first night I woke up and couldn’t breathe. Every breath hurt every time my chest rose. I thought I was dying. I thought I was having a heart attack. I didn’t know what was wrong with me and it scared me shitless.

It was also 2am on Monday morning. My roommates were asleep and I needed to talk to someone. So I walked the half-mile on the dark trail to the office. I went to wake up one of the support staff. (The one I liked.) She woke up the camp director and the three of us said if I was having trouble breathing it would be best to go to the emergency room. I panicked at the words and off we went. 3 am and with strangers, feeling so alone.

At the ER after waiting until nearly 6am, the technicians took my vital stats and determined there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. I was too young and in too good shape to be having a heart attack. Of course, this made me feel even worse. I was not making this up. They told me that I most definitely pulled a muscle in my chest wall and that this was what was making it hurt to breathe. Oh. Ok. Answers. It made me feel better to know that I wasn’t making this up, even if I never knew that my chest had a wall and that this wall had muscles I could pull. I justified this thought with the thought that I had just finished taking an 8-hour test, and was extremely tense during the whole process. I must have pulled something while tensing my shoulders writing that damned essay.

When it happened again that summer, I knew something was up, but didn’t know what. When I left that summer to student teach in the fall, I would have several more of these episodes where I would just cry for no reason, in front of anyone. I would then shake uncontrollably, and my breathing would get very fast.

Another reason I love working in a school

It all started on the first Monday in December and the first winter mix/snow/ice day of the year. I was a mess, mentally. This is the first time I had every tried to drive in the snow and on top of this its Monday morning and my Gas Light is on. I’m running late and I’m running out of gas. At my first stop light I reach for the sharpie I keep on my lanyard and write the word GAS on my hand to remind myself because I know I will forget by the end of the day.

Fast forward to first hour. It’s now 8:30 and I’m meeting with my fifth graders during their math time. I usually flounder with this group because I can’t be sure what exactly they need help with and each day is something different. This particular day I was helping them with a rounding exercise that their teacher had given them. In the middle of the lesson on rounding Lucy looks up and says “Ms. Rose, why do you have GAS written on your hand?”

The question was an honest one, but one I wasn’t really expecting. I wasn’t expecting this and I wasn’t expecting them to be paying that much attention to me.

I don't know why I'm choosing to highlight this one instance. I guess I was just surprised that any of these kids were actually looking at me after working with them for three months. They seemed unresponsive until today with any of the lessons or tutoring session I was there for.

And I was also surprised that this girl showed up at our next session and said, "Look Ms. Rose I have to get gas as well." She had written gas on her hand in the same place. You bet this caught me off guard. Why did she choose to imitate this one, stupid thing written on my hand? Was it really that important? I guess I need to go about thinking that everything I do and say and have written on my hand in front of children is important. It’s a good thing I didn’t have something inappropriate written there! I just thought that was funny. That is all.

More of my ramblings

Have you ever been to that point where you know people are talking about you, and you want to walk away, and you just can’t? Not because you want to hear what they have to say about you, but because you want to see their reaction when they find out that you in fact are standing right there and want to see them take their foot out of their mouth for on moment. Maybe it's an insane craving for some schadenfreude, but I happened upon one of these instances today. I was on my way to second period French, and I saw them pointing and laughing. Before you say anything, no, I'm not paranoid. I watched them form my name with their lips and then quickly looked down at the floor. I watched for a moment, and then I looked down at the floor as I passed. I didn’t want to know what they were saying about me, but I had a sneaking suspicion it was in reference to what happened last period with the biology paper.
I just stood there. I stood there and I waited to see what she would do with her finger. She was pointing in my direction before she realized I was standing there. Then when she realized I was behind her she tried to take her finger away and realized I was staring straight at her. She realized it was too late and I just wanted to laugh at her so hard. I wanted to say now it’s time to take you foot out of your mouth and tell me you weren’t talking about me and have me believe it. I’d like to see her try.
I’ve never believed that a woman should perch herself on a barstool, waiting for a man. It’s so undignified. It’s disgusting, actually. I’ll come to you, thank you very much. If my girlfriends go out and want to perch themselves like birds on stools to order drinks, I’m leaving. No offense intended, but I just can’t do that. It’s almost beneath me. I can’t respect any woman who drinks beer perched from a stoop. I don’t see how any woman can.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Oh and just so you know...

I did go to see the new counselor person tonight and it did MAKE ME FEEL more anxious to be in the office than out of it. Dear God when will I ever get the hang of this living thing?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

And, I think they're back...

From vacation, from Hawaii, I just heard some crying. And I was having such a wonderfully peaceful three-day weekend as well. Damn. Reality strikes back. I guess tomorrow I will have to talk to someone.

More of my ramblings

There is nothing quite like the feeling of working in a school and being single. No, I’ll amend that statement. There is nothing quite like moving from over a thousand miles away to work in a school on a National Service stipend as a single woman over the age of 25. It gets much, much better. I have a teaching degree and I’ve been out of school for over three years. I absolutely love the judge-mental stares I get when I tell people that no, I didn’t move here to follow a guy and it didn’t work out. I just came up here, to Minnesota, on my own. It would almost be better if I did follow a guy up here and get dumped on the spot. I’d get more sympathy that way.
Not that I’m looking for sympathy at all. It was my decision to move to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I’m sticking to it. Below zero temperatures and all, I wanted the experience of the north Midwest metropolis for at least a year and I sure as hell got it. It doesn’t matter that I spend most of my weekends alone. Contemplating what got me into this mess. Some people choose school, others romantic relationships. I choose the relationship I have with myself, and with the country.

See you in SEPTEMBER...

So the NEW YORK opportunity of a lifetime has been pushed back to September. Which is good and bad. One one hand, I now have time to find an actual JOB in New York City before I head up there to house-sit/cat-sit for Danielle. On the other hand, it gives me more time to be unsure of my self and this decision. I can do this. I will do this. It will be great. I have exactly seven months to convince myself that I am worthy of a job that pays an actual salary and that will allow me to not live in a cardboard box on the streets of NY. Surely I can pull this one off without a hitch, right?

Is New York warmer than Minneapolis? Just an honest question!

Friday, February 15, 2008

New York Update

"New York is a woman, she'll make you cry, startled by her beauty and her crime." ~Suzanne Vega

I am starting to have second thoughts on the whole New York thing. It does sound alluring, but it may not be financially possible at this point in time. I'm coming off of two years of National Service, have no savings, and no job to speak of in six months. So you said it would be free and now you are charging rent and cat sitting duties, it just doesn't sound that sweet anymore. Not without a job. Anyone know anyone in New York that can find me a job doing anything LEGAL? For money.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I could have written this song, now why didn't I?

I've written everything else not useful lately. But Kimya Dawson and the Juno Soundtrack rock my world. (Or are my world, I can't tell.)

"My roller coaster's got the biggest ups and downs as long as it keeps goin' round its unbelievable"

you were on my mind at least nine tenths of yesterday
it seemed as if perhaps I'd gone insane
what is it about you that has commandeered my brain?
maybe it's your awesome songs or maybe it's the way
when I look at your face I can tell that you're not going to be stopping soon or even slowing down

and if we keep up this pace pretty soon we'll know the name of every kid and every grown up booking house shows in their town

and if home is really where the heart is
then wer're the smartest kids I know
because wherever we are in this great big world
we'll never be more than a few hours from home

and that's important because I need to travel
I've had this itchin in my shoes since I was just a little kid
and before I had a mini van I road the Greyhound bus
my mom would say "I hope some day you get paid for being Kimya Dawson"
and now I do and it's not much
but it's enough
I've got my Scrabble game, food on my plate, good friends and family
and now there's you understanding why I do the things I do
knowing that you do them too makes me really happy

Friday, February 8, 2008

Like, totally. You know!

This is totally funny too. Taylor Mali rocks my world now.

I make a GD difference, now what about you?

This guy says it so brilliantly, I couldn't have said it better! Teaching, oh how I loathe thee, let me count thy ways. But I love thee, and this video sums up my thoughts of the week. Thanks MOM!

Oh YouTube, How I Adore Thee

Fing Helarious. Absolutely Fing Funny. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I've found it. My purpose has hit me in a dream.

I was talking to a camp friend tonight, a girl who is graduating this spring and is a prospective teacher. It came to me during this conversation that what this world is lacking is a teacher community. Not just at school, but at home as well. I could have benefited so immensely when I was teaching from a support network of young, first and second year teachers AT HOME, to share stories with, swap techniques over dinner with, and just generally vent frustrations to away from the workplace. It would be a healthy relationship, we'd do other non-work stuff together too, because that was another thing I felt lacking (socialization) when I was teaching and felt I didn't have a group of people to hang out with and do fun stuff with on the weekends. There just was no time! I have so much in common with teachers and generally get along with them. So why doesn't some one start a co-op of teacher housing communities somewhere? Perhaps this will be my next great big idea. This is something I strongly believe in, and would not mind putting effort into the idea of developing physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy teachers for the good of children everywhere. Now that I think of it, this might be my new life's mission/purpose. By golly, everyone call Princeton and Kate Monster. I think I've found my purpose. And NO, I am not HIGH.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Which means I'm home early and ready to go to my acting class to stretch myself above and beyond my personal limits for the day. I've got my monologue almost memorized and I'll be ready to perform it for the first time for critique today. I might even be brave and volunteer to go first today. (I've gone last every other day.)

Wednesday also means I have to have something ready to share by tomorrow for my writing class on Thursday. Oh this will be very good for me and my writing. I don't quite know why I am sharing this with you readers now, I just know that I haven't posted in a while and needed to post some more. Never mind that it is absolute junk.

And I'm off. I'll leave you with some links before I go. Here is the monologue I plan to perform for the rest of class. And here is the movie it comes from. Totally sweet and quirky, and I love that I get to do a Janeane Garofolo character too!

Monday, February 4, 2008

This is only slightly creepy!

Your Score: Ben

Don't forget to rate this test!

Ok, you're an evil mastermind scheming to take over the world. Or you're just really innovative and really independent. Either way, you're certainly a leader, and you manage to always be one step ahead of everyone else. You're really manipulative...or you could be, if you wanted to. Sneaky sneaky.

Advice: If anyone crashes on your island, make sure they respect your authoritah.

Link: The (Better!) Lost Character Test written by overgrown_lolita on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(overgrown_lolita)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Minnesotans on Groundhog's Day

I was wondering why Minnesotans don't make a big deal of this observance like southerners do. Then it hit me, thanks to Garrison Keillor last night. Six weeks? SIX WEEKS?! It's not and never will be close to six more weeks of winter in this frozen wasteland of a state. Try at least 12 weeks, but more likely 18-24 more weeks of winter. Sheesh what WAS I thinking? I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Simple pleasures

are not just for simple minds, anymore

I was on my way home from work yesterday and passed a community park. (Not on my way home, but I went a little out of my way and into the Seward neighborhood when out of the corner of my eye I see a bunch of people (mostly kids, but some adults) ice skating.

I quickly got out of my car and started walking around only to discover that anyone, just ANYONE, could put on a pair of ice skates for FREE and skate around, maybe even play hockey if the mood strikes. And I tried it. And it was quite hilarious, but I think I had just about the best time I had in a long time and it definitely was the release I was looking for on a Friday afternoon. I only fell once.

Opportunity Knocking

My friend that lives in New York, D, called to tell me that she might have the opportunity to travel to India for work this summer. Naturally, I congratulated her and wished her well. But then she said that she needs someone to sublet her apartment on the down low, which would mean house sitting, essentially, and babysitting her cat Lucy. All of this, she said, would be free for three months (June-August). Hello? Opportunity of a life time anyone? I love New York! And, if I can stay there rent free for a few months and explore graduate programs and jobs in museums there while I get my act together and explore the city? Why the hell would I say NO? So I said yes, which means I have exactly six months to complete my national service assignment in this town and get the hell outta dodge. Not that I hate this town, its just that I don't know anyone here, and I'd have the love and support of two of my dearest friends in NY. Opportunity calling! Am I going to pick up the phone? You bet your ass I will.