Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


One more covered sigh

Filed under : Fancypants Prep,Life in general
On June 3, 2012
At 11:10 pm
Comments : 4

I have to say, the whole working in a school thing totally feeds my “navel gaze sentimentally at your childhood” issue. Sorry! But remember that feeling, at the last week of school, when suddenly there was nothing serious left to study, classrooms got hot and lethargic, and all those “I can’t wait for freedom!” feelings shifted to “I will miss these people!” Yeah. Like that. This is the last week of classes and I am finding that as I write DONE on each class’ sheet in my book, there’s a bittersweet sensation. I’ll miss these kids and some of them even say they’ll miss me. I got to sign yearbooks! I haven’t done that since I was 17.


I just reread A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and liked it less than I did as a kid when I adored it and read it a hundred times. I found parts of it dull and trite, but that’s probably since I have outgrown the intended demographic. Anyway, it does this neat trick of making you feel nostalgic at the end of the book for the beginning when the heroine was abjectly poor, had few friends, and suffered in school. I’m not sure how it does that. But it’s often possible to have a tough time and a great time. Francie knows.

And now….UPDATE!

I got the grant!!!!1 So I will be doing two weeks of curriculum work. Also, I will be away most of the month of June after school ends next week (for me, after the kids go) on a grand tour of Lesser Visited But Great Cities of Our Nation. Then I’ll mostly be around. I am thinking of getting access to a pool around here, but it might cut into my Netflix time. Also, that whole “buy a bathing suit” aspect. We’ll see.

Summer. I can smell it.

Title comes from:


They like me, they really like me

Filed under : Fancypants Prep,Reasons to be cheerful
On March 19, 2012
At 11:45 pm
Comments : 4

A very quick one, as I’m leaving tomorrow morning from Baltimore and hopefully I’ll have some happy thoughts to share with you from there.

This one’s about my job, which I love more than I could really articulate on this blog, but seldom have any time to write about. I think a massive career change, new job, and first year teaching could each in and of itself form a wonderful subject to explore via this medium. Sadly, I barely have time to return emails, much less give any of these the thoughtfulness and introspection they deserve. Suffice to say, I am thankful every day for the opportunity I’ve been given and the luck to find a good fit – that one’s even harder to come by.

This is all to say that earlier this month I was offered a new contract and last week I happily signed it and turned it in to HR. I feel extraordinarily fortunate to know that the school appreciates me as much as I find joy and purpose within their walls.

As an aside, I was never signed to a contract in any of my jobs in the music industry. To know for sure that you’ll have a job for the next 18 months and what your salary will be in six months’ time is breathtaking in its extravagance, to me. I hope I never lose that feeling of gratitude and I hope everyone can know that feeling: to love what you do, feel that it matters, and be supported in your work. It makes you very appreciative and thankful. And happy.


Now you know how happy I can be

Filed under : Fancypants Prep,Music,Reasons to be cheerful
On February 29, 2012
At 10:00 pm
Comments : 4

(Sorry, Jew & A will be delayed one day due to the death of Davy Jones)

It is really hard to write happy posts when people keep dying. Stop dying, people I like!

But, a story.

One of the grades I teach is Kindergarten, something I never, ever in my life thought I’d do. Sometimes as I look at them I try and remember what it was like to have the mind of a five-year-old, how everything was new and exciting and mysterious. I remember just three things from Kindergarten and here they are.

1. I remember our daily snack: Tam Tam crackers and orange Juice. The juice had pulp and I hated pulp. But I drank it. Once in a while, we had popcorn from an electric popcorn maker (remember those?).

2. I ran away from school. Yes, really. I slipped away at recess with a friend. This was not the original plan. First off, I was supposed to go with my BFF, Leora, but she chickened out at the last minute. Also, I had this ruse that I conceived: I’d prick my finger on the nearby thorn bush and need to go to the nurse, then I’d slip away from there. I don’t remember why this didn’t happen or how I planned for my friend to join me. Anyway, my new co-conspirator and I managed to get about eight or ten blocks before we got tired and turned back. We met a search party along the way. As an adult, I cannot believe there wasn’t a law suit over this.

3. Speaking of my friend, Leora, I remember the elaborate lies we’d tell each other, trying to top the other. The one I chiefly remember was, “I saw Davy Jones in the park.” “Yeah, well I talked to Davy Jones in the park.” “Oh yeah? Well, I kissed Davy Jones in the park!” I was absolutely sure she was telling the truth and also that she believed me. I try to keep this experience in mind when listening to Kindergarteners tell me about the incredible things that happened to them.

But this is all to say that when I was in pre-school and Kindergarten, reruns of The Monkees played every day and I’d watch them in utter fascination. I felt sorry for my siblings who had to go to real school and miss the show. It was good to be young. Really young.

I am not sure what the happy thought is here. Innocence? Kindergarten? Oh wait, it’s the music. Happy, poppy music.

RIP, Davy. I’ll see you in the big park in the sky. Later, I’ll tell my friends all about it.


It’s up to me now, turn on the bright lights

Filed under : Fancypants Prep,Life in general
On September 12, 2011
At 6:00 am
Comments : 3

Subtitled: Got to be some more change in my life.

I had the title of this post in my head for months, maybe a year, but never the content. Despite all my tennis posts, this will go down for me as the year I couldn’t really pay attention to what was happening once the sessions I actually attended were over. I spent the last week and a half at my new job and each day got progressively more layered with “realness.” First, new staff orientation. Then the return of all faculty. Then the middle school kids started. Then the upper school students joined them. Finally, the lower school kids came, but just their regular classes, not mine. Finally, today, I begin.

I’ve spent a lot of time setting up my computer lab and getting to know my new co-workers. If last year was a total delight in terms of the fun school I was placed at, this year is an extension of that and yet different. It is utterly, utterly surreal to find myself employed in a school. The lab is my classroom and it replaces all the offices I ever had at record labels. It is so different from anything I’ve ever done, from any situation I’ve ever found myself in, that I don’t even know how to approach it. It really feels like those dreams you have where you find yourself called to the board in front of the class to do a problem out of nowhere. It’s like I woke up and I was in front of a class of children and I’m not wholly sure how I came to be here. Sometimes, when people knock on the door of my lab and ask me a tech question, I want to say, “don’t you realize I’m just a music business executive?”

The people I work with are mostly wonderful (no one’s bad! Just some are good and some are great) and finding myself with new co-workers in a new job are things I do have experience with. Even when I went around on the first day of classes to introduce myself to the kids I’d be teaching (“Hi! I’m Ms. Jewball, your new technology teacher. I can’t wait to see you in the lab next week!”) it echoed moments I’d had last year at my old school. But today it will be just me and them.


By the way, today is also the anniversary date of my Bat Mitzvah, so, today I am a woman and all that.

Both the title and subtitle come from this song, which I mentioned yesterday. The post title line doesn’t even appear until the second half of the song and then dominates it. The sweep that comes up behind it, at about 1:40, has always reminded me of a bird taking flight.
[youtube width=”420″ height=”345″][/youtube]


Put the needle on the record

Filed under : Fancypants Prep,Life in general,Student Life
On May 27, 2011
At 7:00 pm
Comments : 10

If you notice, this post is dated Friday, even though I wrote and posted it on Sunday. I did this because I wanted, some day in the future, to look back at the gap between my graduation day and the day I received my first job offer, and see it very clearly and visually on the little blog calendar on the right. People who have been congratulating me (and thank you! or them!) have focused on this short span and said things like, “so quick! You must be awesome!” But that’s not really how it was. I look at other lengths of time, like from when I did my first interview (late March) or when I attended my first career fair (early March) or when I sent out my first resume (February) or when I first started to seriously worry about my job prospects (spring semester 2010) or when I took the big leap and quit my job (summer 2009). I think I really use that last one more than anything, because when you quit a job with a good salary and great benefits, and when you leave it without severance or unemployment benefits, to go into a field where you think there will be jobs but who knows, well, you worry. If I’m going to be more realistic, then I’d go with late February when I first sent my application in to the New Teacher Finder for the NYC public schools (it’s still there but I somehow doubt they will be calling me). It seemed like an eternity of fear and worry to me.

My Commencement Day was just wonderful. Amazing, even. For starters, those of us without Big Life Transition Events rarely get a day where it is all about us. But beyond that, I was surrounded for the first half of the day by my cohort and some of my professors, all of whom I love dearly, and the ceremony itself was fabulous. Bob Herbert from the NY Times spoke and said great things and they called my name and my friends’ names, and I sat next to one of the funniest guys ever and he made me laugh the whole time. Then for the second I was with my family and we had a lovely dinner and I got flowers and balloons and gifts. The one downer on my day was that I was stressed about a demo lesson I had to do two days later. If you don’t know the horror of the demo lesson for new teachers (tech specialists do teach some classes even though they’re not titled as teachers), it’s this: you walk into a strange classroom with kids you don’t know and teach an entirely out of context lesson while 3-4 administrators watch you. If you’re in tech, it’s worse, because you have no idea what equipment they’ll have or what the layout is and very often, something will break (three of the kids’ PCs kept going black during my lesson, for example). But it went OK, mostly. And they don’t all. Some day when I’m over it, I’ll tell you about The Disaster. When people tell me things went so easily for me, I try not to mention The Disaster. You know that job interview that Elaine has on Seinfeld where she just gets up and says, “I have no chance, do I?” and the woman smiles broadly and says, “no” and shakes her hand? It was kind of like that. The Disaster convinced me that I am not ready quite yet for what I had planned, that is, to work in a public or charter school with kids who need the most help. But that day will hopefully come once I get more experience.

But this demo and interview did go well and I knew I had a shot, but just a shot, because, quite frankly, this school is one of the best in New York. I know this because the parents on Urban Baby, who have together built the worst, most obnoxious forum I could ever imagine (if you know me from a forum, it is worse than the one you are thinking of), even they always agree that they’d kill to get their kids in to this school. So I really have no idea how I got this job. Really. It’s not false modesty, I really just don’t know. But I’m not complaining! The school is fancee, even fancee’er than my placement school (who, by the way, liked me very much but still wouldn’t give me a job, so you can understand my amazement now) and will herein be known as Fancy Pants Prep, or FPP. I even started a new category for it! (And last time for the Student life category – I think.) Every time I wake up and realize they want to hire me or that once I sign a contract I will officially work there, I can’t stop grinning. Is it really happening? All I wanted was a job. I didn’t ask for THE job. I should say that the position is awesome for all kinds of other reasons: the people I’ve met are fab, the school is open to new technology use, and I get to be part of the community of tech people which includes the fine folks from my placement school plus lots of others.

Right now, I’m having a tough time focusing on what the job entails, because it doesn’t really start until the end of the summer. That’s right, I have the summers off! I’m not even thinking about that yet, though. I am just thinking about how lucky I am to have hit the scenario I wanted the most: to know that I have a job in three months so that I can enjoy this summer and actually do fun things. I still have my part-time (ugh) job through the end of June. Or July, but I’m saying June. I’d also like to take a class in July, since I’ll be dealing with kids younger than I really trained for. Then in August I hope to take a trip I’ve been planning for a long time, to Western Canada to see some special things and some special people. And then I come home to my new job. Yikes! Yay!

But the stuff I am focusing on is weird and surreal, too. Finally, after two years of keeping a bastardized version of my analfinance spreadsheet, I can put back the cell where the income goes, rather than calculating how much I have to pull out of savings. I can turn on the A/C and not feel bad about it. I can restart Netflix. I can order the sushi deluxe. I can buy an unlimited Metrocard. My whole mindset is shifting and each thing I remember that I can do makes me happy all over again.

The past few weeks, when there were periods of no job listings or no one responded or an interview went nowhere or I got a rejection email, I’d have dreams about going back to my old job at The Record Label. Really! Just right back to my desk as if nothing had happened. You don’t have to be Freud to get that. But I think I’ll stop having that dream. And I can unsubscribe to all my job listing feeds. And throw away my extra resumes. And hide the label “Job Search” in my Gmail. And plan. I can finally plan. For a person like me, knowing what I’m doing next month and next year is the greatest relief, even though the details will be slowly uncovered. If this were a movie, like Working Girl, they’d end it here. Girl quits unsatisfying job, drops out of rat race to go back to student life, graduates and gets prestigious job. But it isn’t really like that. It is more the end of Side 1 of the concept album (remember album sides?) and now we’ll start with Side 2. I hear it’s complex and has its ups and downs but is totally worth a listen.

Title comes from:
M|A|R|R|S – Pump Up The Volume