Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Fill-In

1. Right now, I'm feeling tired, but happy, after a long week of job interviews.
2. Exactly where I am, but with a job is where I want to be.
3. How does one stop getting election junk mail? Does anybody really change their vote because of that crap?
4. Following my intuition keeps me on track.
5. Please don't squeeze the Charmin. Or at least have the decency to buy it dinner first.
6. BSC Snark fills me with joy.
7. And as for the weekend, today I'm looking forward to baking a spice cake and making homemade pumpkin spice iced coffee, tomorrow my plans include going shopping with the rest of my friend's bridal party and Sunday, I want to relax!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday 13

Thirteen Reasons I Want This Teacher's Aide Job

Today I interviewed for an aide job in a class for students with severe disabilities. I've worked with kids with severe disabilities before, but they were gentle. These children are not. If I get this job, I will have to wear steel-toed boots to work because there are very large children who step on people's toes, and I will have to wear rubber gloves all day for the purpose of constant diaper-changing. Neither of these things particularly fazes me, but I worry about whether I am physically capable of restraining a child that is as large as I am.

Any sane person would run screaming from this job, but I never was completely sane :) So, here are my thirteen reasons why I actually want this job.

1. I want to prove to myself that I can handle it.

This would be a stupid reason on its own, but it's true. I've worked with kids who have such a wide variety of needs that I'd really hate to draw a line somewhere and say "No way, these kids are TOO disabled for me, thank you very much" without actually giving it a try. I've dealt with kids who poop their pants and throw chairs, and it honestly wasn't that awful big of a deal. These kids are just bigger and do it more often.

2. I've never regretted any other work in this field.
The first time I was in a special ed room I thought going over the alphabet with seven-year-olds was more than I could handle (in my defense, I was a recovering "gifted" student and fresh out of high school), but I loved it. The first time I worked with a child who had physical disabilities I was worried I couldn't handle changing diapers and giving him a bath, but I loved that job too. So I really feel there is a strong chance I would end up loving this job too. Maybe I am just the kind of crazy person who enjoys this stuff.

3. Despite being in a school, this is way less schoolish than the daycare job I applied for.
The daycare job, which I'm waiting to hear back from, is basically teaching preschool. Hours and hours of forcing two- and three-year-olds to sit perfectly still and color worksheets and write their letters. Seriously, two-year-olds! I already think five is too young for that crap; I really don't want to be forcing babies to do it. Meanwhile, the special ed job is much more like occupational therapy and babysitting mixed together.
The kids don't have to sit in one place unless they're doing some specific task that calls for it, and I'd be mainly working with them on things like communicating their needs. I'd be a facilitator and protector, not a taskmaster. I can dig that.

4. I'd be mainly working with an autistic student.

I've always been really interested in autism - I've read lots of books on the subject, known plenty of people who were labeled as being on the higher-functioning end of the autism spectrum (which is a big headachey subject I won't go into here), and I just generally know a lot about it. I like the idea of a job that lets me use skills I learned basically by browsing the internet during the years I "should" have been in high school.

5. Vacations!
The classic draw for working in schools. I generally want to smack people who would cite that as a primary reason, because they have no idea what they are doing. But you can't deny that it is a nice benefit.

6. I have never felt more qualified for a job in my life.
I am so, so tired of going to job interviews for jobs working with children, where the interviewer does not seem to give a shit that I volunteered with children for several years. They want to know about paid experience only. The principal who interviewed me for this job, though, was genuinely impressed with the work I've done and saw it as valuable experience. It's nice to be respected.

7. Plain curiosity.
Honestly, I just always wanted to know how the classes for kids with more severe disabilities work. Actually that's what got me into the special ed volunteer work in the first place - I just wanted to know how it worked.

8. More experience to add to unschooling discussions.
Occasionally people come around and want to know about kids with special needs, and it's a hard question because often learning doesn't seem to come as freely and easily to them. I'd love to go back into the world of special ed now that I have an unschooling mindset, and see what I can learn about how these kids learn.

9. I like the idea of a job that requires you to dress down because you'll get messy anyway.
The aides were explaining to me that you can't wear nice clothes to this job (I felt really weird in my suit and heels, but it WAS a job interview...), and one of them said "Yeah, I usually wear a lab coat." I don't think I need to point out how awesome that is.

10. I love active, hands-on, moving-around work.
One reason I have always been drawn to teacher-type work is that I hate student-type work, i.e. office work. I am the kind of person who would rather come home achy from working too hard all day, than be forced to sit still all day. I get achy from sitting still anyway. If I'm gonna be sore either way, I'd rather it be from doing something interesting.

11. I might consider adopting a special-needs child one day.
And I want experience with as many different types of special needs as possible, so that I know what I can and cannot handle.

12. Believe it or not, the money.
Let me be clear: The money, by any objective standard, sucks. But compared to the income level I grew up with, and compared to what I could earn at a non-education job (and all my qualifications are education-related, so I'd be stuck flipping burgers or doing entry-level office work), it's quite nice. Especially considering that whole summers off thing.

13. I honestly believe I am "supposed" to have this job, in some sort of cosmic way.
Call it God, intuition, fate, sheer dumb luck, or whatever, but here's what happened: About a month ago I was desperate for jobs and was applying for literally everything I could. Every time a job seemed promising, the people would mysteriously vanish and not call me back to tell me when an interview would be, or whatever. And something in my gut was just saying Wait. My brain, of course, was screaming that my gut was full of crap (pun not intended, but funny) and that I needed a job NOWNOWNOW. But I just felt this peace about not getting one just yet, and every time I looked at job listings that gut instinct kept tugging at me, telling me I was going in the wrong direction. Then, when it finally hit me that I *was* ready, I just happened to look at the school board website and this job had been posted THAT DAY. I applied for it on the next business day and immediately got called back to schedule an interview.

Of course, if I don't actually end up getting the job, that will kind of put a damper on the whole "fate" idea, but my gut is usually right about these things. And my gut is telling me this job is a good idea, even though my brain is screaming that sane people do not take low-paying jobs where they will get bitten and spat at. But my brain has a track record of being wrong about this stuff, so I'm ignoring it for now. It can handle the paperwork later.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Yesterday I wasn't feeling well, so I stayed in bed most of the day watching a Pop-Up Video marathon. In the middle of that I saw this really awesome U2 video for "Lemon":

The pop-ups explained that the video was based on the photography of Edward Muybridge. Today I went and read about him (his life was pretty interesting) and then followed the link from there to bullet time, which is the technique they use in the Matrix when the camera rotates around a person suspended in air. That article mentions the Wachowski brothers were influenced by the original Speed Racer opening, which I'd never seen. so I looked that up:

And then it reminded me my mom used to have a toy from (I think) the 60s, that was like a handheld game but mechanical instead of electronic. After some Googling I found it, the Tomy Motocross:

It's hard to tell there how it works, but basically the brown part is a rotating disc with little raised bumps for the motorcycles. You're the red one, and you have to slide that big red slider on the right up and down to navigate around the other bikes. It was a boring game to me, having grown up on Nintendo, but it must have been really exciting in the 60s. I do remember thinking it was neat that there were handheld games before video games.

And now writing about this is reminding me of the Franklin Wordmaster we used to have when I was a kid. Actually, we still have it, but I don't know if it still works. I have it tucked in a drawer somewhere; maybe later I'll take a picture. It's this handheld thing from maybe 1987 or so, and was mostly designed to be used as an electronic dictionary or spellchecker. But it had some games on it too. I used to spend a long time playing anagrams and hangman on it and making it generate random lottery numbers. It was fun to look up definitions too because they'd scroll by on the screen. I didn't have a Gameboy or a computer when I was a kid, but I had that Wordmaster, so I felt like I did.

Friday, October 10, 2008

But I DO wear Birks and smell of incense!

You are a Hippie

You are a total hippie. While you may not wear birks or smell of incense, you have the soul of a hippie.

You don't trust authority, and you do as you please. You're willing to take a stand, even when what you believe isn't popular.

You like to experiment with ideas, lifestyles, and different subcultures.

You always gravitate toward what's radical and subversive. Normal, mainstream culture doesn't really resonate with you.

Friday Fill-In

1. One of the best concerts/plays/movies I ever saw that I really didn't think I'd like was O Brother, Where Art Thou?

2. A tuna melt is a recipe I recently made that was delicious! (Yeah, we don't do a lot of serious cooking around here.)

3. It's time for me to take a shower, and then make pumpkin bread and warm up apple cider.

4. To hear young girls say they like the way they look is quite refreshing.

5. If I never hear the word toejam again, it'll be too soon.

6. To one side of the curving road was a the hills of Sedona, and on the other was a huge gaping gorge that I thought we were going to fall into because the jeep driver kept going really close to the edge. Mountains are scary when you're used to Florida.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to painting in the Louvre, tomorrow my plans include proposing on a Saturday night and Sunday, I want to laze. (I don't have any specific plans, so you get Queen lyrics instead. You're welcome.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Music, one. Savage beast, zero.

I've been anxious lately. Anxious and edgy and probably defensive and testy. I think there's a lot of reasons for that, not the least of which is that I still haven't found a job and the search is frustrating, involving a lot of shady online application websites, and people who offer you an interview but never tell you when or where to show up, and entry-level jobs that require two years of experience, and sigh.

But it's other stuff too. It's politics - it seems like I'm getting in an argument nearly every other day with someone over politics, and I'm just sick of it. I think it's just hanging in the air right now, with the election so close and the panic over the economy and everything else. I'm not the only person who is edgy. Lots of people are edgy right now, because so many people are convinced, this election, that if their candidate doesn't win the WORLD AS WE KNOW IT WILL COME TO AN END. People on both sides are thinking that way, and it's not making for happy or peaceful times.

I don't like it when other people are divisive, but I really, really don't like the fact that I've become that way. Probably I'm more that way than other people I know. I tend to take politics personally, with a "Republicans want my disabled mother to starve" gut reaction that I developed growing up on welfare in the 90s, when welfare was a hotter issue than it is now. But I've since become that way with other things. My mind just jumps to conclusions too fast. That guy is a conservative Christian, so he must hate everyone who isn't. That car has a yellow ribbon magnet on it, so those people must agree with the war, so they probably hate Muslims. The neighbors have a McCain/Palin sign on their lawn, so they probably hate "tolerate" gay people. My friend said a woman was hot, so he must be a misogynist. And so on. It's like over the years I've developed a "not liberal enough!" label I mentally stamp people with if they don't meet my standards, and then assume they hate me and everyone else in the world who is not exactly the same as they are. I'm not proud of that, but it's an unconscious thing, and in some ways a survival thing, since I'm a member of a lot of non-mainstream groups in a relatively intolerant region. But it's exhausting, and I really would prefer to see people the way I did when I was younger, before I knew anything of politics.

And so today I had all that rolling around my head, and I flipped on the radio and there was "Us and Them" by Pink Floyd. Holy crap I needed that. If anyone wonders why I treat music as practically a religion, this would be a good story to illustrate that, because as soon as the song flooded my ears all the thoughts clicked. This song is about how pointless war is. Both sides are really the same, but everyone thinks the other side is completely different. But in the end everyone is human and has the same kinds of feelings. If everyone would realize that, we'd all be better off. Those are thoughts I have everytime I hear the song, and they're the thoughts I've always had about war.

But this time I kept going. Wait a minute. They're not just talking about official wars. And that's when it clicked, really and truly. People are divisive over wars, but people being divisive is what starts wars in the first place. I'm sitting here professing anti-war beliefs, pacifism and peace and tolerance for other people. And yet I'm having a war inside my mind, clearly marking out my "we" and "you". I'm prejudging people to be prejudiced; I've been a bigot on the grounds that I consider a group to be bigoted. I'm hating people for not hating hate enough. I'm arguing that people who live worlds apart and have wildly different beliefs should be kind to each other, while getting angry at the people I love for differing with me on one or two minor points. It's just as much "us and them" as a war is.

When I was a kid, and a Christian, I always got upset at friends who bragged about following the "rules" of Christianity more closely than I did. I thought they were showoffs who were acting holier-than-thou, as if they thought God liked them more than me because they listened to DC Talk instead of the Spice Girls, and they didn't watch The Simpsons, and they went to church on Sunday and Wednesday, and so on (as if there were anything in the Bible about any of those things). And it took me until today to realize that I've been doing the same kind of smug "I am more moral than you" proselytizing, just with a different rubric of morality. Meanwhile, I've been crapping all over the principles I want to be living by: people come first, friends and family are the most important things, all you need is love, being different isn't a bad thing. I haven't been very true to my own values, or for that matter, to my own religion (for the record, my religion is officially Unitarian-Universalism, not prog rock). There's an affirmation we say at church that begins:

Love is the doctrine of this church,
the quest for truth is its sacrament,
and service is its prayer.

It's rare that Unitarians make an official statement of belief, but when we attempt one, it nearly always includes words like "peace", "love", "tolerance" and "equality". Having chosen this religion because it embodies principles I already believed in, those are words I need to try to keep in mind. Especially since those principles are the ones that made me a liberal in the first place.

I'm glad I was thinking about this stuff, and that I happened to flip on the radio right then, and that song happened to be playing, and I happened to understand the message of it. I'm glad I have music to soothe me and to make me reflect and see my own errors, because I'm too stubborn to listen when other people point them out. And I'm glad I have friends who don't point them out too often.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Time seems to be stretching and contracting in weird ways lately. One reason I started the "daily life" blog is that it helps me keep track of when things actually happened; I remember everything but not when I did it.

On the one hand, time seems to be going too fast. All day today I was convinced it was Monday, then I looked and it's technically Wednesday now and that startled me. And I keep looking at things from a few weeks ago and going "Man, that happened four weeks ago? But it JUST happened!"

On the other hand, it's also going really slow. My birthday feels like it was a month ago, but it was just two weeks. And I looked at the stuff I wrote down that I did yesterday, and thought "I did that yesterday?!" I didn't think I played chess yesterday; it felt like a couple days ago.

I like it when time is slow. I'm right at that quarterlife crisis age, where you're finally, firmly an adult, and you sit back to relax, and then you sit right back up again because you've just realized how fast you got here and how not everyone lives to be 80 like you assume you will. It's scary.

So I like it when things that happened yesterday feel like they were two days ago, and things that happened two weeks ago feel like they were a month ago. Makes me feel like life is longer. Plus, it's fall right now and I like the fall to last as long as possible. The end of fall is right before Christmas, and after Christmas I don't like the winter so much. But October through December is perfect.