Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Overdue update

Filed under : Student Life
On March 7, 2011
At 12:30 am
Comments : 5

Subtitled: Everything’s good in the world tonight.

Just to let my faithful readers (both of you) know, I am actually alive! But I have seldom been so busy in all my life. But that’s not really why I haven’t posted… well, not directly. See, I tend to write when the mood strikes me and unfortunately, those moments have seldom coincided with times I actually have time to write. And then the thought/idea dissipates and I’m left with that, “that was supposed to be a post?” feeling. So, herewith, a group of facts:

1. I am busy proving to NY State that I should be certified to teach, which means special online courses, lots of forms, and more exams.
2. I am searching for a job, which involves resume writing, job fairs, online research, essays, obtaining of transcripts, and more.
3. I am way behind on every single item of work for the classes I’m taking. I mean, seriously behind.
4. I went to LA last weekend and those three days away set me even further behind than I already was. And I hate LA, I really do. But I went because it was the right thing to do and even though almost everything that could go wrong did, leaving me alone and stranded in the dark and rain one night with no way to get to my destination, I’m glad I went.
5. I am teaching, yes, actually teaching a class for eight weeks. Possibly more. It involves not only preparing for each class but freaking out before each class and not sleeping at all the night before each class. Luckily, they are only once a week. I’ve been thinking of changing the name of Tuesday night to “Ambienight.”

I wanted most to write about #5. I had so much to say: about how I can’t remember the names of my students, how they are beginning to accept me, how happy I was when I came into my “teacher’s voice,” how I have stopped being afraid to get mad at them when they aren’t paying attention, how scary it is when they ask me a question I can’t answer (even though I know that’s OK), how I mentioned one of our rappers the first day just to seem a bit cool but how I no longer care, how the first time I really got going was when I was teaching blogging (go figure!), how I feel like a performer feeding off the energy of the crowd (and have a hard time coming down after… just like my favorite bands always say in their interviews), how I am never more in the moment than in class (I don’t even think of e-mail or Facebook or Twitter), and how I can’t teach without a big cup of juice because my throat gets so dry. Most of all, I wanted to say how much I love all the kids I’ve worked with in all the classes I’ve been in and how sure I am that I want to be with kids like them forever.

Maybe I haven’t written about any of this because every week is better than the last, so I keep delaying. Or maybe it’s because I made a deal with my cooperating teacher that at the end of my stint at my placement school, I would tell him the address of my blog. So then it becomes hard to say anything, even though that was the purpose of keeping it private until then. But every time I wanted to post about the experience, I’d wonder if I should. So here we are, six weeks in with nary a word. But I will say that he’s made the whole experience worthwhile and that I’ve pretty much learned as much in my time at this school as the rest of my education combined. And that I will be very, very sad to leave. But hey, I bought a souvenir mug from the fundraising closet.

Here’s a story I never told here, but you might have heard it from me in private conversation. I always assumed it would be hard to leave The Record Label. I assumed I’d cry as I pushed the big glass door of the building for the last time. But it wasn’t like that and that’s because my boss at the time handled things so poorly that it was like a gift… it convinced me I had 100% made the right decision. I felt just great walking out the door. But the folks I’ve worked with at this school are so incredibly awesome that I feel quite sure that there will be a much larger lump in my throat when I walk out for the last time. Every single day has been great.

So about the sub-title. On the day my CT told me I had gotten my teachers’ voice, I just felt so amazing. I mean, I knew the class had gone well, you just know it, just as you know when it hasn’t. And I had the head of my program there observing me so, hey, even better. After school, I went to Trader Joe’s and they were playing (they have a great soundtrack at this TJ’s, I must say), “When Smokey Sings” by ABC, which has that line. But you know, I felt great even before I heard it. If I’d written this post then, rather than at midnight at the end of a weekend where I got only a fraction of the work done that I needed to, it might even have been the title.

ABC – When Smokey Sings



Filed under : Student Life
On February 17, 2011
At 11:30 pm
Comments : 4

I am having a stressful week. There, I said it. My part-time job blows and is more demanding than I have energy for, teaching is HARD (and time-consuming), and oh yeah, classes and thesis deadlines. Also, see the previous many posts about being ill, because none of these things is made easier by not being able to breathe through my nose plus having my throat feel like I swallowed glass. I even missed a show last night about which I had been dreaming for twenty years. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. But it was the live performance of an album that has meant something to me for nearly twenty years. Yeah.

Oh hey, and did you hear? They’re eliminating the jobs of 6,000 teachers here. That ought to make it easy to find a job at the end of all this.

You may wonder if at times like these I wish I could go back to my old life. When you see this video, you’ll understand why I don’t. Even if it’s scored with an Interpol song.

Wow, the sound of the Windows start-up chime whilst* drinking take-out coffee and that exact keyboard, LCD, and stand… if only I’d had one of those dipping birds, that would have been my desk. Look out, I’m going to hug a third-grader tomorrow.

*I had to say whilst; the bear is British.

Title story: When I graduated college and moved away from campus, living alone in Baltimore, breaking up with College Boyfriend, and figuring out what to do with my life, Priest=Aura was one of three or four albums that kept me company. It is an album, like bands don’t seem to make anymore, and I first heard it back then as I did most records: on the sound system at Sam Goody’s where I worked. As my pal Ned Raggett points out, the album is sequenced like a journey. This is how it starts.
The Church – Aura


It seemed logical at the time

Filed under : Student Life
On February 10, 2011
At 9:40 am
Comments : 5

I don’t want to overstate how busy/crazed I am right now, but this thought occurred to me this morning. See, I am at that stage you all know, where you feel a sickness coming on: your throat begins to feel raw, you suddenly find the tissues are running out more quickly, and there is the edge of ache in your head. And like most days, my Thursday and Friday are stacked like a tower with level after level of things I’ve committed to and mean everything to what I’m doing. So after the initial, “I should really get back in bed” thought and then the mental flipping through of all the things that I simply could not skip today (the work that doesn’t pay me if I don’t go, the workshop in Eastern Queens that is imperative for a project I’m doing, the planning meetings with my cooperating teachers which mean the difference between being prepared and being humiliated in classes I teach and TA), that’s when the thought popped into my head: I’ll simply have to schedule getting sick for this weekend.

I’ve penciled that in for Friday at 5.

Mudhoney – Touch Me I’m Sick


Letters we’d like to send

Filed under : Student Life
On February 9, 2011
At 1:30 am
Comments : 5

Dear Professor,

cc: Barnes & Noble, UPS

The dog ate my reading. And by “the dog” I mean “UPS.” Yes, for the second week in a row, I won’t be able to participate in class discussion because my textbook is trapped somewhere in the middle of this fine country of ours. Also, I’d like you to turn your attention to that area which says “2 business days” because it has never changed since the day I received my “we have shipped your order” e-mail from Barnes & Noble & Satan. Only the date I’m supposed to receive it has. See how it says “Thursday, 2/10/11, By End of Day?” That was originally several other dates.

Not that you asked, but yes, I did laugh when I got the LivingSocial offer for a half price credit at B&N. Because, B&N and UPS, with regards to the phrase “two business days,” I do not think those words mean what you think they mean.

By the way, at The Record Label, we had a warehouse in Sparks, NV. We used it to service our west coast accounts. Because by the time a store in New York receives an order from Nevada, the record is already over. KWIM? That’s what we call “customer service.” But here is a phrase I won’t bother to explain to you as you’ll have no need to understand it: “repeat business.”

Your pal,

Richard Ashcroft – The Journey (video)


Like a fat kid steals Cake

Filed under : Music,Student Life
On January 26, 2011
At 11:30 pm
Comments : 5

For some reason my Billboard feed stopped working a while back and suddenly started working today. So I was inundated with 96 items. I’m glad they worked that out and I’m glad I’m in a position to be so meh about music industry news that I barely noticed. Apparently, though, last week brought the lowest selling #1 album in chart history with Cake’s new record selling a mere 44,000 units in its first week. There are no zeroes missing in that number! Back in the good old days when CDs cost 18.98 and we spent our days snorting blow and counting our money, those kind of numbers might put you in the upper reaches of the Top 100.

This morning, as I sat in the library of the K-12 school where I intern, four girls came in and sat near me. The tail end of the conversation they were having about ipods featured this line from one of the girls: “I just use _____ to get the music out of the videos and then they are mp3s. I don’t even use iTunes anymore.” (I didn’t redact that, I just didn’t quite catch what tool she uses to do this – there are several). As they got to work, I thought in my head, “you have no idea that the person who is sitting three feet from you is only here because of that very sentence.” Well, it’s not that simple, but that’s certainly a big chunk of the reason. I didn’t say anything. But I will. Someday.

Cake – The Distance