Archive for November, 2007

“tell me a funny story…

…about dinosaurs.”

“Okay. Once there were some dinosaurs. On the moon! And then they pooped. There was dinosaur poop on the moon!”

“You said poop!”

“Poop on the moon!”

“Pee on the stars! Poop on the moon!”

piano, class

A woman I vaguely know has been teaching at the Community Music Center, so tonight I dragged Claire along to a recital by her students. The first thing that happened was catastrophic status anxiety, mine. Claire and I had turned up in our customary jeans and scuffed boots, ironic tees and hoodies. The other kids were all in velvet dresses, white tights and patent leather mary janes.

I kinda wished I had brought Quinn along, just so I could watch her turn into the Hulk at the sight of all that naked privilege on display.

I also felt very small and shabby and besmirched with soy sauce from our sushi dinner. And then I looked at Claire and saw that she was totally punk rock, which made me feel much better.

We tried to sit quietly with the other grownups, but Claire saw that there were kids watching from a balcony up the back, so eventually we snuck up there. The view was way better. And unlike the parents, who had been looking askance at us, the other kids gave us huge welcoming grins.

I have discovered the mark of a great composer. Even when they’re being murdered by affluent ten-year-olds in uncomfortable clothes, Mozart and Beethoven sound really good.

or not

A third of a bottle of a nice red from Corbieres. We dragged Ian out to La Provence. I had the nicoise salad and the duck, of course. Afterwards we walked to Dog Eared, where I bought King Leopold’s Ghost, The Bone Woman, a Disraeli biography, a dinosaur encyclopaedia for Claire and a Metropolitan Museum of Art ABC for Julia. The whole time, the boys talked about their Wiis. What are you gonna do.

Tomorrow: bloggity goodness! This time for sure.

thanks to my blog software

…cheating on Nablopomo is trivially easy. Ethically problematic though.

Bloggity goodness to come!

orwellian immigration documents: an update

My Advance Parole arrived, so I am no longer trapped in this sinking luxury liner of a nation. Yay?

so, yatima, why have you been in such a vile mood lately?

Well, Internets, I’m glad you asked.

I’ve been touring San Francisco public schools for Claire’s kindergarten enrollment next year. And it’s making me crazy.

I swore I wouldn’t be that mom. I have researched the matter up the wazoo. I am a paid-up member of Parents for Public Schools. I am informed and empowered! You would be impressed by my diligent legwork! And I am going crazy.

More context than you care about: San Francisco kids are entitled to attend any school in the Unified School District, no matter where they live. What happens if too many parents request a particular school? Since 2002, the district has placed students according to a Diversity Index, aiming to mix things up as much as they can.

To grossly oversimplify, the district places all the kids who have to be in a particular class in a school – siblings who are entitled to attend the same school as their older sibling, for example. That class gets a base profile, calculated on things like race, socioeconomic background, blah. Applicants are also given a profile.

The Educational Placement Center then places the kid *most different* from the base profile in that class. Recalculate base profile, rinse and repeat. The desired upshot: classes nicely balanced out by student background.

The practical upshot: you as a parent get seven choices. You tour as many schools as you can (link to blog of another mom doing the rounds), and then you pick your seven favourites. The Educational Placement Center tries to place your kid at one of those choices. And if you’re requesting a popular school, it’s anyone’s guess whether or not you’ll get it. Crapshoot. Russian roulette. Schroedinger’s cat.

That’s the first painful thing. You tour a school like you tour a house you are hoping to buy. You imagine your future there, your kids growing up there. And then, just like when you’re buying a house, you have to accept that it’s entirely out of your hands, and you can want as hard as you like, but it isn’t going to affect the outcome.

But there’s worse! I’ve toured four schools so far, and they’re all great in different ways, and I could live with any one of them. But the school district is strapped for cash, so ALL the extras are paid for by the PTA. And that includes things you don’t think of as extras. Like the LIBRARY.

The PTAs at the mostly-Hispanic schools are raising about $40K annually. One excellent PTA raised $77K, mostly from grants.

The PTA at the white school I toured this morning raised $200K.

Like most people who earn decent money I am massively in denial about what money is and what it means. I tend to treat it as if it were just a way of keeping score in some immense and arcane game of chess or Go. People who don’t earn decent money don’t have that luxury. Especially not here in the USA, where health insurance is broken and one good illness spells bankruptcy.

When lack of money becomes a constraint on how people can express the value they place in their children – when it is a constraint on what their childrens’ futures might be – well, that’s when you realize society is hopelessly fucked up.

Let’s not even talk about what’s being spent on the Iraq war.

My kids will be alright. They have me and Jeremy going into bat for them, and they’re privileged and loved and blah blah blah. But what about everyone else’s kids? Why don’t they all get the same deal? Why doesn’t the PTA at rich school share its treasure chest with the PTA at the school down the hill? How can a kid arrive in Salome’s class in high school, functionally illiterate? Why the fuck are the socio-economic scores of the parents in some arcane game, visited upon our children?

Your net worth is not your worth. YOUR NET WORTH IS NOT YOUR WORTH.

What is the matter with us?

Oh, so my epiphany this morning. I hate the Diversity Index, right, because it makes me feel like I have no control over where Claire goes to school. (I have lots, actually, but that’s how it makes me feel.)

And I hate, hate, hate, what I will call the PTA disparity, because it’s just unfair and inefficient and wasteful of human potential and stupid and broken.

And without the Diversity Index? The PTA disparity would be much, much worse.

And that, dear Internets, is why I have been in such a vile mood lately.

some days

…are just not worth getting out of bed for.

but of course life is worth living


Originally uploaded by mr lynch

A well-timed Flickr upload from prawnwarp reminds me why.

cooler heads prevail

Well, that was intemperate. I am sorry.

[I have edited out some chunks here to avoid hurting peoples’ feelings pointlessly.]

A great deal of my anger is survivor guilt. I got away by the skin of my teeth. I came within a hairsbreadth of jumping under a train (a horrible, unkind way to kill youself. Think of the driver. Don’t do it.) But when I left I left behind a lot of people I cared about, to fates I can’t imagine.

I tell myself I was only a teenage girl, but that’s cold comfort. I knew right from wrong. I could have done more. I should have done more.

The rest of my anger is raw grief. Patriarchies eat their sons as well as their daughters. When the strong prey on the weak, the weak prey on the weaker. A mother shakes her baby son to death. That little body in the tartan suitcase, that heartbreakingly beautiful face; that child was our future. We should have died rather than let anything happen to him.

What is the matter with us?

one of the bitter ones

Remember all my stories about Victor Roland Cole, former minister of St Davids Anglican Church in Forestville? Well, now his son is in the news as well.

A MINISTER rejected plans by Dean Shillingworth’s family to hold a traditional Aboriginal smoking ceremony at tonight’s memorial service because it clashed with the Anglican ceremony.

Plans on the form of the memorial service would take were thrown into doubt when some members of the Shillingsworth family requested a traditional Aboriginal smoking ceremony to release Dean’s spirit to the land.

Local Anglican Reverend David Cole said he planned to say three prayers at the ceremony – one for Dean, one for the community, and one for his family.

However, he said the spiritual smoking ceremony was incompatible with a Christian service…

[Edited because I was being a sanctimonious ass.]

You know, I really disagree with David’s position here.

If there were a God do you seriously think he’d give a damn how you grieved for the boy? You think Jesus would be sniffy because the Aboriginal family wanted Dean to go to the Dreamtime? Or do you think, just maybe, Jesus might be crying over the dead baby?

[Aaand edited again.]

spencer day plays the herbst

“I couldn’t believe those people talking two rows behind us.”

“I know! I hate it when people come to a concert and then they’re all ‘Pss pss pss…'”

“I really wanted to throw my program at them.”

“Me too!”

“So did I!”

“But I thought you’d think I was overreacting!”

“Heck no. Next time you’ll know. We’re the types to join in.”

city, i love you

Dia de los muertos. Gathered up Jamey, Salome, Jack, Ian, Danny and the kids and went to Garfield Park to see the altars. I love the drums and burning sage and feathers and skeletons. I lit candles for Aunty Ruth and Uncle Arthur and my grandma, for Wendy and for Shannon’s lost babies.

Lots of people were covered in shaving cream, which seemed odd. I realized later that they must have come from the pie fight.

thursday night frugalthon

The great thing about winter veggies like cauliflower and cabbage is that they last forever in the fridge, so when you haven’t been shopping for three weeks, as we have not, you can make a meal of ’em.

I panfried the cabbage with apples. I roasted the cauliflower with garlic to make soup. There was half a country loaf in the freezer, so I stuck that in the oven with the roasting cauliflower. The girls love soup with bread. They dip the bread and don’t even know they’re eating veggies.

Now there’s a small bread pudding in the oven. I even prevailed on Claire to eat a tangerine for dessert.

pirates versus ninjas

Pirate and ninja

Originally uploaded by yatima

Our conclusive findings should put this Internet meme to rest at last.

  • Ninjas grab more candy with their stealthy power moves
  • but more people go gaga over pirates.