Sunday, June 29, 2008

Report From The Pride Festival

Mr. Bluejeans Sr. suggested meeting at the Pride Festival yesterday. There was a motivation--Most Holy Redeemer, the Castro parish church, had a booth selling 'beverages' to raise money for their AIDS support group. Mr. Bluejeans Sr. likes parish churches, opportunities to give to worthy causes, and beverages, so this one seemed tailor made for him. Also, the Pride Festival sprawls across Civic Center Plaza, and is near Max's Opera Cafe, so as far as Mr. Bluejeans was concerned, we were set to go.

Highlights of the day:

Most Holy Redeemer was indeed selling beverages, but it was all beer, not Mr. Bluejeans' cup of tea, which is white wine. We bought some beer anyway, for the sake of the mitzvah. MHR was asked by the Archdiocese not to march in the parade this year, which sucks, but they seemed in pretty good spirits anyway.

We found ourselves at the California Sperm Bank booth for a while, while Mr. Bluejeans made inquiries for some friends from out of the country. (Mr. Bluejeans as usual, hit Pride with a list of chesed projects to work on and inquiries to make at various booths). I ended up in conversation with the other pleasant middle-aged lady at the booth.

"Did you say you already had a donor?" she yelled over the brass band behind us.


"That's nice! Is he storing sperm for you?"

"No, we're married."

That took a moment, logistically, she paused to consider what I meant, and then it clicked in her head. "That's great," she shouted back cheerfully, "because that way you can get it fresh."

I bought a couple of t-shirts, listened to the Chipman Middle School drum band from Alameda do their routines--JROTC, currently under fire in San Francisco should have turned out--admired kids and dogs, and generally had a good time. Then we went back to Max's, where I had a tuna melt, and life was good.

Pride always makes me well up with joy to be a San Franciscan. This year, across from City Hall, where couples have been marrying for more than a week now, it was really special. The mood at the event was mixed--a lot of groups are worrying about November, and not yet taking the new wedding season at face value--but in general, spirits were high, food was fried, rainbow leis were prominent, and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I hate job hunting

Did I mention that?

Anyway, I'm looking over the want ads right now on Craigslist. "Christian teacher needed for daycare center" reads one heading.

Now, realistically, I know this means that it's a Christian program, and they want a believer in the position.

But I'm also used to the way evangelical Christians themselves use the word as an adjective to mean something ethical, forgiving and patient, and all I can think of is horrible little kids running around screaming, kicking people, hitting each other, and an administrator putting together the ad for Craiglist--'we need a Christian teacher. Yes. Very Christian."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I work for Martha Stewart (for another eight hours)

There used to be a recurring character in the comic strip Sylvia--The Woman Who Does Everything More Beautifully Than You.

I only bring this up, because my boss called from an amusement park yesterday to mention that he was writing a little poem for each child in his homeroom, and perhaps we other homeroom teachers would like to do something so our kids wouldn't feel less special.

I am currently writing little note cards for everyone, and cursing Jeckle.

Eight. More. Hours.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Our Kids

One week to go. I've got a couple of callbacks, so feeling pretty good.

At our last staff meeting, Relaxed Guy put an item on the agenda. He's concerned about the high level of physical abuse in our students' homes. Relaxed Guy is good with the kids, really good, they open up to him. Per him, about half the kids in his classes report some degree of physical violence at home.

We had a totally useless meeting segment on this. Jeckle commented that just because they write about abuse doesn't mean they're experiencing it--this is true, but they're talking directly to R.G. about it. Jeckle also stated that you don't need to/can't report unless the kid verifies abuse--this is not true. You're mandated to report if you have a reasonable suspicion.

Brief interlude here--one of our kids is now in foster care because we made the call. Administrators pooh-poohed the making of the call--I and another teacher were told that the kid makes stuff up. CPS apparently felt sufficiently convinced to get the kid the hell out of the home. And our great county's CPS does not have enough resources to waste them on nothing. Last year, I was told by an administrator that one of our kids claimed sexual abuse at home, but no one had called because the kid is a well-known liar, and the dad is a great guy. Sometimes I wonder if I'm in a ****ing time warp, or just surrounded by incredibly stupid people.

Mrs. Bluejeans Sr. wanted to know what Jeckle is afraid to ask--why? Why do we have such high rates of parents knocking the kids around? More than that, why would parents who care enough to go to the trouble of sending their kids to a charter school also be abusive? I tried to think why, and I have some ideas.

Our kids are honestly, many of them, hard to deal with. They have problems, emotional, academic, gang related etc. I think we may have a parent population that, while wanting the best for their kids, are also unable to deal with their kids. They try to find a school that will help their children, and the ones with health coverage get counselors, and they sit through SST and IEP meetings, but they also run out of patience and hit, or they think they can achieve results through discipline and they hit. I think some of the kids' problems stem from the adult's problems, too. The parents aren't evil, any more than their kids are, but I suspect we've got a fair number of parents with their own traumas and addictions and inabilities. And when they're panicked, or angry, you guessed it, they hit.

Meanwhile, I've got an administration, albeit only for another week, that thinks we shouldn't report abuse if the kid him or herself is known to not be a saint. Not that they said that, no, no no, no no no no no...well, yes.

Our kids deserve so much better.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The First Invite

I've had my first wedding invitation in the great new California era--Mirele and her wife Keyle have invited me to the simcha they are planning for maybe November. Of course, there was some issue about calling it a wedding--"We got married fifteen years ago," Keyle snaps. So, OK, I have been invited to a renewal of vows and acquisition of marriage license, followed by canapes.

May I be invited to dance at lots and lots more.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Graduation at St. Colmcille

So yesterday I dressed up a little for work, and after work I took off to Oakland, home of St. Colmcille, the tiny inner-city Catholic school you may recall I worked at last year.

The reason I was on my way to St. Colmcille was that my homeroom class from last year was graduating the eighth grade, and they had cornered my lovely coworker and friend Ms. Mirele Gans (NO, that's not her real name) and demanded to know if I was coming. Mirele called me and demanded to know if I was coming. So I went.

They do the graduation from St. Colmcille in the little, Gothic parish church next to the school. It was built with the hard-earned money and old-fashioned piety of Irish immigrants around 1930, and everything about it, from the shamrocks carved into the supports to to the serene-faced Irish saints in the windows (Colmcille, Jarlath, Brigid, Patrick) shows that. Later generations have added images of la Virgen de Guadalupe and statues carved in the Mexican tradition, as the neighborhood has changed. The graduation ceremony takes place from the altar, and is open to the whole parish, as well as the school community.

Oh. Oh. The heartstrings. The choir singing sweet folk-Catholic pieces. Father Toledano (no that's not his real name either) beaming. The parents glowing and schepping naches all over the place. Cameras flashing. Ari, with shamrock-green bands on his braces to match the regalia. The girls carefully walking in their first (much too high) high heels. Mirele, radiant with pride. Pomp and Circumstance.

I hugged everyone. I cried. Shaina nearly broke her neck on a kneeler trying to get to me in her strappy sandals. Nisanit, (who never caused me a moment's trouble last year), cried and apologized for the way her class had treated me. Dovidl went to another school this year, but was there to cheer for his classmates and congratulate me for working in Richmond with 'all those black gangsta guys'. (Dovidl would adore to be a black gangsta guy, but is cursed with a middle-class mother who won't let him.) I sat in front of Mushkie's extended family, who yelled every time her name was mentioned. "GO Mushkie! Go go Mushkie!" The seventh graders surrounded me, upbraided me for leaving, admired my wedding ring, and suggested I come back pregnant or with a baby for them to admire when they graduated next year. And even Netzach graduated (as he went up for his diploma I muttered to Svetlana-the-Social-Studies-Teacher "by the grace of God", but he got one).

They were all so beautiful. Even Netzach.

Afterward, Mirele, her wife, I, and a friend of theirs who played the trumpet for the ceremony, took off for a tiki bar, and drank things with ridiculous names, and rejoiced. It's been a rough year for them, but heck, the class of 2008 graduated.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Lemon Cake and Politeness

I had some good lemon cake today. Tuesday is the day we do not sell food to the kids at lunch--on other days they can order, according to the day of the week, sandwiches, pizza, burritos or Chinese--so the student government leaped in and started a fundraiser selling baked goods at lunch.

They are raking in the big bucks. All the baked goods are homemade by ringleaders Nesiyah and Avivi. Both girls are being raised by African-American balabustas of the highest order, are terrific cooks, and when they unload their cookies, homemade brownies, Rice Krispie treats, individual-sized vanilla and lemon bundt cakes with homemade frosting...!!! there is a kind of feeding frenzy among their classmates. Like at the Monterey Aquarium when they feed the deep-sea fish in the big tank. Nesiyah and Avivi just smile serenely, and stack up bills toward a class trip to Great America.

I had a piece of lemon cake today. It was like eating sunshine with frosting. Wow.

Meantime, I am trying to figure out how to depart the school in a dignified way, but cause Heckle and Jeckle just a little discomfort. It is not that easy.

I told Gittel that I had been fired, and she said "WHAAAT!" I told Relaxed Dude, and he said "That's ridiculous." I told Dr. Kalonymos, and he said "Well, they're ****ed", and revealed that he's not coming back next year either.

It's nice to have the support of my coworkers, I suppose.