Wednesday, March 22, 2006

King Without a Crown

I actually first heard of Matisyahu through the Jewish blogs, (I'd already found the Hip-Hop Hoodios and Solomon and Socalled on my own.) I now own two of his CDs, and have to admit, I like them a great deal. I'm a nineties kid, I like this sort of music, and giving it Jewish content makes it even more appealing. There are some Matisyahu issues for me, the biggest being that I am no more a Chasid than he is a Jamaican, but I do like the music.

(I also staunchly hold that hip-hop, once described beautifully as 'the arts, urbanized, is an inherently Jewish forum. But nevermind...)

One of the gripes I hear against Reb M. is that people think it's a rip-off of black music (yes, like basically everything in American music that's not a rip-off of Irish music...), that he's cashing in because a Chasid is less threatening than a black artist (doubt it), or that the whole image of Matisyahu is an appealing gimmick because he looks so 'out' that he's therefore hiply 'in'. (Maybe. He doesn't look very exotic to me, so I can't tell.)

So I'm just adding this comment--listening to Matisyahu is giving me unexpected cool points with my students. I have the CD in my room, and several kids (none Jewish, probably none able to explain what a Jew is) have asked about it.

"You know about Matisyahu?"

"You listen to hip-hop?"

'You like Matisyahu?"

"I really like 'King Without a Crown'."

They also listen to 50 Cent and Ying-Yang Twins, but they love Matisyahu. Go figure.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The E-Mail

As I'm sitting peacefully at my computer grading papers this afternoon, comes a call from the vice principal of the school I will only be working at for a few more months.

It seems that he has received an e-mail. It's from me, or rather from my e-mail account. It contains some typographical errors. And it reads:

Dear Mr. (Vice Principal)

(New kid's name here) cant be in my p.m. core.can he be in my a.m core?


The new kid showed up Monday, and after some testing I decided he should go in my afternoon group.

Mr. VP knows I do not tend to drop apostrophes. He also knows that at 3:21 P.M. yesterday, the time the message was sent, I was sitting in the staff meeting, with my eyes glazing over.

There was a little girl, however, who asked if she could do some typing on my computer after class.

Her cute little learning-English tuchis is grass.

I wish I knew why she wants the new kid to be in her class. I can only assume she thinks he is cute.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Decluttering. Some more.

It seems pretty clear that the Balabusta and the fella are going to move out of their current domicile come the lease is up.

There are a few problems with our El Cerrito cottage which have come up since the summer. Most of them have to do with water. The base of the sliding shower doors fills up, and spills over onto the floor, necessitating mopping, and, I suspect, warping the floor covering. The dishwasher misses when it spits into the sink, and floods the counters. And sometimes the toilet bubbles and gurgles while we're washing clothes. No, I'm not sure either. It just does.

And the layout is a little weird. It's hard to have friends over. (Maybe we should reconsider a couch when we move again.)

Also, the landlord takes the most ungodly amount of time to cash checks. Sometimes as much as six weeks. That's just plain annoying.

But the key issue right now is not the house's fault, the key issue right now is that the place is a mess.

Neither the Balabusta nor the fella are natural housekeepers. We put this off on laziness, and busyness, and both of these have something to do with it, but the fact of the matter is just that neither of us really has a clear grasp on how to keep a household tidy. We put things down, and they stay there until we need them again, or sometimes until we FIND them again.

It's annoying. Because, you know, being a Balabusta is one of my major life goals.

Right now I am trying again. I'm working on the living room. I have already found my long-sleeved orange T-shirt. I'm not going to tell you where it was. But I have it again, and will wear it to work tomorrow to celebrate it's reappearance.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Missionaries Came Back

Today, while I was out and about spending time with my family and my therapist, the fella was home alone at about ten A.M. when two people came by and knocked on the door to talk to him about religion. (Which religion is not totally clear, but we think it was probably some form of Christianity.)

The fella told them that this was a Jewish household, and they went away.

For some reason (perhaps only that my nonpracticing culturally Protestant sweetie said it), this strikes me as hilarious.

Take This Job And Shove It

Canibus Lyrics said it best:

You could take a new job offer for more chips
Stick it out a little longer or forfeit
But my advice to anybody that wants to quit
It'll feel much better if you say it like this:

Take this job and shove it
I ain't workin here no more
Take this job and shove it
I ain't workin here no more
Take this job and shove it
I ain't workin here no more
Take this job, take this job, take this job and shove it

The Balabusta sent in a resignation letter, effective the end of the year. Subsequent to this, her principal gave her the first genuine smile she's seen since the job interview.

Got an interview on Tuesday, for a place that theoretically should have a decent discipline plan in place. (Military school.)

Wish me luck.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Pesach is Coming. Send Help.

In a month and ten days, more or less, it's going to be Pesach. As God is my witness, I don't have the slightest idea what I should do.

At least she's panicking fairly early, you say. Great, I'm panicking early. I am, however, sort of panicking. We have a few different problems here. Let me address them in order:

1. The seder.

Ideally, I (or at least the Woman I Would Like To Be) would like to make the seder. I would lay a beautiful table full of color, zest, and glorious food. I would make my own haggadot (my parents did it, why not me?). I would invite all my friends and family. I would lead an engaging, traditional, egalitarian, fun, solemn seder, during which we would remember Jews in Iran, the people of Darfur, troops in Iraq, people with AIDS and the homeless and hungry of the world. The food would be a delicious blend of traditional Ashkenazi favorites, better-tasting but still kitniyot-free Sephardi recipes, and a little California cuisine for the healthy touch. There would be so much food that the table would have to be held up by an act of Congress. We would sing. The matzo balls would circle the table lazily, like something out of Harry Potter, diving into soup whenever anyone seemed low on matzo ball.

Unfortunately, my dining room table seats four. My house is tiny. I don't really have a lot of Jewish friends who can be coaxed over, and NO, I don't feel like doing a demo seder which will mostly be non-Jewish friends humoring me. My fella has never been to a seder, and has what I consider to be a morbid fear of unfamiliar religious observances. (Basically, all religious observances, in other words.) Most of my relatives live in Southern California, or back East, and we are not in close contact with them.

The smart thing to do might be to go back to Netivot Shalom and get some Jewish friends, but you know, probably not in the next five weeks.

The last several years, my parents and I have gone to assorted community seders, and we may do that again this year, but honestly, I am getting sort of sick of them, and we have, from time to time, ended up at tables where the conversation has been intensely unpleasant.

I have wonderful memories of going to my great-uncle's for the seder, and of seders my parents gave, or their friends did. I don't seem to have an adult replacement for myself quite worked out yet.

2. My kitchen

If anyone has easy tips for kashering for Pesach when you've got no Pesach dishes, a tiny kitchen, no time, no energy, and the microwave needs to be set aside for the fella so he can eat something chametzdik and not die over the holiday, let me know.

Normally, I do a lot of tinfoil and paper plates. Last couple of years I've basically eaten Pesach food off chametz dishes, and no one died, but it's not very spiritually satisfying.

My ultimate fantasy is someday to have a house with two kitchens. Not milchig and fleischig, but Me and Him. Honestly. A full kitchen with a granite island, and tons of shelf space, and four sets of dishes, plus nice ones for Shabbos, and then a comfortable kitchenette with a stove and microwave and a fridge, and all the happy nibbles and bacon and whatever that the fella could want. He wants ham and eggs, I can make him some right there. He wants a bacon cheeseburger in the middle of the night, he can knock himself out. When I switch dishes for Pesach, it won't affect him.

Thing is, I grew up in a home where we didn't keep kosher, but my mom was very thorough about Pesach. We changed dishes. We boiled and scrubbed. That feels like the norm to me. But I'm not there. I wish I was there.

3. Guilt

See above. See also, Story of My Life, What Else is New, and I'm Jewish, What Did You Expect.

I AM going to bake hamentaschen this year. That's all I can commit to right now.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Multicultural Teacher Moment of the Month

One of my colleagues keeps hearing music in his classroom. Just that slight, scratchy, edge that lets you know some kid in the room has earphones on.

He searches high and low. He checks everyone out. He hunts. The kids giggle.

Finally, he realizes what's going on. One of the Afghan girls has on earphones under her hijab.

We have a bunch of Afghan kids at the school. About half of the families are observant enough that the girls cover their hair. The style of choice is a cotton-knit pull-over hood thing that pulls over your head and shoulders, and your face pokes out the front...I think in Iran this is called a maghnaeh, or something like that. The little girls buy them in a variety of colors, the grown-up women I've met seem to prefer black.

The student in question had slipped in her earbuds, run the cord down under the scarf and her sweater, to the IPod in her jeans pocket. No sweat, and when she was done listening to the lecture, she turned up her tunes and began to groove out.

Middle schoolers are remarkably resourceful. We won't let kids wear hoods up in class for exactly this reason, but of course, the headscarves need to be allowed. I cracked up. Must be boring to teach in a monocultural town.