Monday, December 12, 2011

"The Bad Boy"

You pull all the books off the library shelves
You sprawl on the floor, then jump up and
Turn a chair on its head,
You hug other children until you topple them over,
You roll up the rug, then you roll yourself
Until I scoop you up,
Put you on my lap,
And say, "Look at me, look at me,"
But you don't.
"Look at me," I say.
But you won't.
"You're being very wild," I say.
Are you even listening?
I can feel the shivers bouncing through your body,
Your blood gushing like a rushing little brook
That slaps at every rock and bug and leaf it can reach.
You push out of my arms and laugh,
Flying around the tables,
Little velcro sneakers barely touching the floor,
You throw your head back as if to breathe beyond the stale classroom air,
And I see your eyes dart rapidly,
Looking for somewhere to run to,
For some way of expressing your jubilation at being alive and three,
And there they are--
In one smooth bound, you sail from the tables to the toy chest in the corner
Upon which the class's art from that day is resting to dry.
You fling your hands into the glittered paper
And toss the projects like a salad,
Grinning and breathing fast like a train,
And like a train, the teacher screeches upon you,
Yet I am the one caught in the headlights,
As she picks you up and plops you on the floor in the corner,
Reprimands shooting out of her mouth like sharp rocks,
And you sit there looking up at her,
Still with that grin.
I think: your grin turns those sharp rocks into boomerangs of nonsense.
Do you even know you are in trouble?
Can a boy be bad if he does not know he is being bad?
And as you sit there on the floor wearing that persistent grin,
I see you in elementary school--
The kid in the rickety chair (it is always rickety, isn't it?) when everyone else sits on the rug,
And in high school--
Slamming into lockers while the others are in class,
And I think--this is your future--
Sharp-rock reprimands and time-outs in the corner--
Because grown-ups will not often understand you,
And teachers will have to worry about the other 25 children in their class,
So they will unintentionally fail you,
Unless you get lucky, and maybe have a teacher who knows a child like you at home,
And I wonder--like you wriggled off my lap,
Will you wriggle free from being branded the bad boy?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Overheard In The Elevator

(Two guys in their mid-20s or so enter the elevator mid-conversation)

Dark-Haired Guy: But you are what you eat man. I mean, if all you eat are carrots all day, you're going to start developing some characteristics of a carrot. And the same thing is true of celery. That's how I feel.

Light-Haired Guy: That's crazy, man.

Dark-Haired Guy: Yeah, but it's true. If you eat, let's say, Tabachnik Soup and that's all you eat, you're going to start developing some personal characteristics of Tabachnik Soup!


Speaking of "you are what you eat," this issue of the New York Times Magazine is quite interesting and important. I especially enjoyed this QandA at the end by Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma. I'm in the middle of reading his book right now, and I have to say, it really makes you think about what you eat. Every decision you make in life should be informed and a conscious choice, and deciding what you put in your body is no different. (Then again, I don't think you'll start developing personal characteristics of Tabachnik Soup, no matter how often you eat it. What are personal characteristics of Tabachnik Soup anyway?)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Overheard On The Bus

Tall, Pimply Girl: I once went into Subway and they didn't have any cheese.
Short, Straight-Haired Girl: No!
TP Girl: Yeah. It was...Kosher and stuff. But still--they should at least have the option! I was so mad. It's Subway. I mean, it's not like--
SSH Girl: Yeah, it's a chain! What does that mean, they didn't have cheese?
TP Girl: It was in this real Jewish neighborhood. But [deleted] it, I want a [deleted] discount if I can't get any cheese!

Monday, May 9, 2011


As life would have it, after not posting for several months, I lay down to sleep, my eyes close, and suddenly a post begins to nag at me. I have to sigh and write the thing if that little writerly voice in my head will ever let me get to sleep tonight.

Truth be told, this post has been brewing for a while, but I just now have thought of some particular ways to put things. I am not sure where I will end up here, but please forgive me if I become confusing.

Also, it is so nice to be writing something other than an analytical paper about a student.

As I was counting the omer tonight, it struck me that yesterday was 49 days to my wedding. Seven weeks until my own Shavuot, if you will--until Jughead's Hat and I stand under the Chuppah in our own, personal close moments with God, where we will begin to build our own little unit within the Jewish nation.

JH and I have had a long-ish engagement. I've had a long time to reflect on what was (and still is) happening to me, from before I met JH, to when we were dating, to now while we are engaged. And even within our engagement, there have been different stages. JH and I when we first became engaged were different than we are now, seven weeks from our wedding.

Before I was dating JH, I used to feel very frustrated. I felt like no one could ever really love me the way a boyfriend loves a girlfriend, the way a chatan loves a kallah, the way a husband loves a wife. I hardly ever got attention from boys (well, except for a few strange ones) and I did not really believe anyone I could ever love would ever love me back.

When I would look at engaged couples, I would think, "They're so lucky. Their life is set. They're going to have a beautiful wedding and then sail off into the sunny land of married people." I don't think I was alone in feeling that way.

What I realize now is that I (and I am certain many others) used to focus on all the externals of engagement and marriage. The bridal shower, the wedding, the attention, the beautiful gown, the attention from a boy, the walks, the dates, the romance. All these things are external. Even the idea of having a male person there for you and in love with you - that is wonderful and important (and don't say I didn't say so!), but it is only one aspect of the bigger picture.

What I used to not really see, and what I believe many people don't really think about (because they're so busy thinking about the other stuff), is the huge emotional transition from one way of life to another. The fearful wondering if you're really ready for everything marriage encompasses, emotionally, halachikly, and otherwise. The change in family dynamics by bringing in a new person to your tight family unit, as well as being the new person in your fiance's family.

More than ever, family has become a central focus in my life. My own family is growing, molding, and adapting, especially considering my brother got married earlier this year and already brought one (amazing) in-law into the family. And I have to learn to adapt into JH's family. We both have to figure out the balance of being part of two families, two sets of friends, two lives. It is wonderful, but it is hard. At times, I have cried over it. But you would never know that unless I told you.

People tend to think the stress of engagement comes from wedding planning. And some of it does. But a lot of it comes from this other stuff: the difficult, sometimes scary, transitions. The tugs of emotion that come with such huge change. There are transitions within our families and within ourselves. For me, the transition from unmarried to married will be the biggest transition of my life, bigger than transitioning to college or to grad school or to living in the Heights.

I cannot adequately explain what it feels like to go through these transitions. They're ones that probably are experienced differently by each person and each couple, and I believe they're only truly understood through personal experience.

There are 48 days left until my life changes forever. I'm so excited, but it is also so nerve-wracking. From the time I was born until now, I have been just Erachet, the oldest child of my family. Suddenly, I am going to become part of three families--the one I was born into, JH's, and JH and myself. It is wonderful, but it is also huge. And a huge responsibility.

I am so looking forward to being married to Jughead's Hat. I hope my post did not convey otherwise. But I did want to shed light on some of the struggles I, at least, have gone through (and am going through). Flowers, music, dresses, they are on my mind, but only when they come up. The transitions, for me, are the real challenge of engagement.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

While The Teacher's Absent...

Things a substitute should not do:

1. Use how many years you've been a teacher as a threat or reason why kids should listen to you. Kids don't care how many years you've been a teacher. In fact, it's more fun to terrorize a seasoned teacher who in all her "30 years of teaching has never seen kids so noisy" (which I'm sure is also not at all true, she has definitely seen kids that noisy). What class wouldn't want to be the ones to set the record for noisiest kids in 30 years?

2. Ask the kids what their classroom routine is and then go with your own thing anyway. Kids need routine. In fact, the teachers want them to do the routine. It's part of their education--to learn how to do routines. And kids like routine, as much as they may not think they do. Besides, you don't want to end up having to deal with the kids who can't handle change in routine. But if you're really stuck on doing your own thing, then just do it. Don't dangle the classroom routine in front of the kids and then throw it away.

3. Wear a fanny pack to keep your markers in. Putting on the fanny pack is your first mistake. If you want to bring markers, keep them in your bag. And there are often several markers already by the board. You can use those. There's no need to keep your own personal set of markers out and use them possessively (while making the kids use only the markers on the board since the ones in your hand/fanny pack are only yours). Also, really, ditch the fanny pack.

4. Yell excessively at the kids/be too strict. Lighten up. You're a substitute, for crying out loud. The kids will only be worse if you make them dislike you.

What am I forgetting?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Never Around

Jughead put it perfectly.

I hate it when people tell me I'm never around. I know I'm never around. Believe me, I'm never around to spend time with myself, either. I'm never home, I'm never in the Heights, I'm never in Queens, I'm never anywhere. I never see anyone. I miss everything that goes on and always have to be filled in. And somehow, I'm always left feeling like it's my fault. I feel like every second I'm not at field work or class, I have to be extra social with everyone to make up for the times when I'm too busy to talk. But that means that whenever I try to spend a little time just with myself, I feel so incredibly guilty about it.

I'm trying as hard as I can to be everywhere, but somehow, the place I always end up being is on the subway. Well, at least the subway never tells me I'm never around anymore.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spring Cal 2011

Last night in my apartment, we made an apartment calendar with everyone's general schedules on it so that we'd all have some idea of where each other are at any given time. It got me thinking about how crazy my schedule is going to be this semester.

Wake up: 6:00 AM
Leave apartment: 7:00 AM
Arrive at field work: 8:00 AM
Leave field work: 3:20

Mondays and Wednesdays:
Leave field work: 3:20
Arrive at Bank Street: 4:30ish
Class from 4:45 - 6:45
Arrive back at apartment: 7:30ish
(Five times this semester, I will also have a class from 7-9, when I will not return to my apartment until around 9:30, 9:45)

Tuesdays and Thursdays:
Leave field work: 3:20
Arrive at apartment: 4:30ish

I will also need to begin kallah classes at some point, which will be something else going on at night (to be added in later).

Sunday through Wednesday, I must make time to:
1. Do schoolwork
2. Plan lessons
3. Make lunch for the next day
4. Go to sleep by 9:30
5. Have a life?

THIS, by the way, is why I am never around. And this semester is even more intense than last semester. I can't be social because every night is a "school night" where I have only a few hours every evening to do what needs to get done and then go to bed early. I do miss college, where I actually had time to have friends. :( As soon as graduate school starts up again (um...tomorrow), I will not be able to see Jughead's Hat during the week either.

...Wake me up when it's June.