Mitchell-Lama Mama’s Blog

an ordinary life in an extraordinary city

Don’t Know Much About History January 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitchelllamamama @ 3:47 pm
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Happy Friday All! 

 

Sorry I was MIA yesterday, I chaperoned a field trip with the girl’s class, and wasn’t feeling well after I returned home–can’t imagine why 😉

 

I went to NYC public schools, and boy have they changed.  A lot for the better (though I didn’t grow up in a remotely progressive area, and as far as I know there was 0 choice). 

 

Papa and I have had several discussions over the years about the change in history being taught, both in perspective and amount.  The other morning a conversation with my little guy brought this subject to the forefront again.  I had taken the little guy to get his hair trimmed last week, and he isn’t happy with the result.  He keeps his hair long; he likes it that way and it seems to me to be a wasted issue to take a stand on.  Not to mention he’s got beautiful hair and looks pretty darned handsome. 😛 

 

I you tubed a clip of the song Hair, from the movie of the same name, thinking little guy would enjoy it.  In the interests of full disclosure (of my own dorkiness), I LOVED this movie, and saw it a bazillion times when I was younger.  I’m excited now, knowing there is a revival opening on Broadway next month, even knowing the odds are mighty slim that we will be able to squeeze out money for tix before it closes–no matter how long the run.  I didn’t see it in its original run.  My grandmother did, and came home whispering to me, “It’s a dirty show.  They took their clothes off.”  Then she blushed and laughed, and said it was good otherwise. 

 

Back to topic.  Before showing little guy the clip, I gave him a brief synopsis of what the storyline was, so he’d have context as to why they’re singing and dancing in a jail.  Little guy isn’t all that little, he’s almost 11, and he has learned nothing in school about the Vietnam War, the Counterculture of that era, and why it is important in American history.  

 

Somehow or other this led to my mentioning WWII and the Holocaust, and he wasn’t familiar with the term Holocaust.  When I referenced Hitler, he knew who I was talking about  and gave him a point of reference.  But, when I started talking about numbers, he was floored and horrified.  I was too, how can children be in school for six years and not spend a couple of days on this?  Most people recognize the number six million as the number of Jewish people slaughtered, but too few don’t recognize that millions more were killed.  I’ve seen the number as “low” as 9 million and as high as 17 million; what I’ve seen most cited is around 13 million.  A staggering number, and the one good thing (if you can call it that) I can say is that little guy understood the enormity of it immediately. 

 

I know history is taught differently now, and I think much of that is positive.  Our children should be raised with sensitivity. I believe the Vietnam War is sometimes referred to as the “American War” in Vietnam.  Both of my sons studied the early explorers and the Revolutionary War extensively–little guy knows much more about the history of the Revolutionary War than I do.  But it seems to me that at this point,  when he’s old enough to watch the news and ask about what’s going on in the world and why, follow our Presidential elections and form opinions based on what he’s reading and seeing, he should have been given at least a rough working knowledge of our country’s time line.  

 

I know, from my older son, that more is learned in the upper grades. At least I hope so. (My oldest went into private school at 6th grade.) Why is the most complete overview of our country’s history coming from the American Girl catalogue, and not our public schools?

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Blogging is Weird January 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitchelllamamama @ 5:27 pm
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Or maybe it’s just that I’m too old to rock-n-roll and too young to die.  

 

Blogging is a completely different medium for me, and I’m continuing to work on figuring it out.  Not just the computer savvy part of it, but exactly what purpose it serves.  I started writing fiction (and poetry during the angsty years) when I was a kid.  I also always had diaries–which I began calling journals during those same self-inflated angsty years.  I have to say, journaling was never for me.  Mostly, those lovely notebooks were 2/3 empty, and half of the 1/3 looked more like date books than anything else.  🙂

 

I remember reading Hugh Prather’s Notes to Myself, and being blown away.  Looking back, I’m not sure if I was blown away by his writing, or the idea that what amounted to someone’s journal was published and being read by others–and not posthumously.

 

I was always afraid someone would find my journal and read it.  So I’d tone down what I wrote, afraid to offend, afraid to get into trouble.  I have met people who have the same fears in their fiction writing.  What?  A sex scene with the bedroom door open? What if my mother reads this?  I never had that issue.  Fiction feels like a very safe way to explore real and honest humanity, without worrying about who is going to read what into which scene.  If readers “recognize” themselves in a character, to me it’s a positive meaning they can identify with that character.

 

In writing groups, books, circles, you hear the phrase plotter vs pantser.  Plotters plan and outline the entire book before writing the first sentence, pantsers have an idea (situation, character, opening scene, etc) and just write, seeing where it takes them.  I’m more of a pantser.  I usually have an idea for a character and an opening scene, make sketchy notes for a rough outline of the character, some more sketchy notes planning the setting or idea behind each scene for the first few chapters, and then just write.  Lather, rinse, repeat for the rest of the manuscript.  Those notes give me some sense of security; yes, this scene does serve a purpose and move the story forward, and I believed those notes helped to prevent me from being blocked.  (Not working for me now, but that’s a whole different post.)  Not having detailed notes gave me the freedom to let the story take an unexpected turn, add a new layer to the story without “ruining” what I had planned for the next 300 pages. 

 

Blogging is a whole different world.  It isn’t journaling, you are putting your thoughts out there for everyone (including mom;) ) to read.  But it isn’t fiction.  I grew up reading George Orwell, and my understanding is that what you put out into cyberspace is there and accessible forever.  Big Brother is watching you. It seems like the best blogs are informative or funny.  This blog certainly isn’t informative; I am just a regular Jane, not a recognized expert in anything.  For anyone whose instinct might be to reassure me that I’m an expert on me, or my children–meh.  😉  I’m too old not to be ok with who I am, even if I don’t want to stay where I am.  I’d like this blog to be entertaining, but funny is a fine line.  Often what’s funny borders on mean spirited, poking at exposed nerves.  We laugh when we can recognize what we’re seeing or reading.   I’d like to develop the skill of allowing readers to recognize the stories I’m sharing without hurting or attacking any individual person.  I guess I still don’t want to offend anyone, not because I’m afraid, but because it seems unnecessary. 

 

I also don’t want this blog to become a laundry list of my days.  I can’t imagine anything more excruciating to read, so before this long winded post deteriorates into me chatting about the dirty bathtub, I’ll sign off.  🙂  

 

Happy Wednesday everyone,

Mama

 

Good for the Soul Friends January 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitchelllamamama @ 7:05 pm
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It seems to be a universal truth that it’s harder to form and solidify friendships once you get older.  Everyone gets busy with their individual lives and families, and those little moments of attention and recognition that build friendships are fewer.  As a parent of school age children, you meet many other parents, but that isn’t enough commonality to be “friends.”  

 

Today I met a friend for breakfast.  This isn’t something I do often, because of both time and money constraints.  I especially needed it this week because I missed Friday Night Madness this weekend (my buddy was sick).  It’s been quite a few months since this friend and I have been able to get together, though she lives a block away.  Everybody is busy.  Parenting, spousing, budgeting, working, keeping house, all the stuff that goes into daily life.  But I need these moments, and I’m glad I got one today.  Our oldest children have been in school together since preschool, a true rarity in NY.  We’ve sniffed and blinked back tears together at the end of preschool, elementary school, and middle school.  Another couple of years and there will be a high school graduation to sniffle through.  I think I might be out and out sobbing by then. 😉

 

She came over for a while after breakfast and saw the apartment for the first time since we moved in.  Last she saw it, there were nails and saws everywhere, and no kitchen sink.  It isn’t a showplace, but it’s coming along.  Luckily I had already told her about the dog almost killing himself by drinking water from the sump, otherwise she would have thought I stopped feeding him.  He’s much, much thinner than when she saw him last.  Non-stop diarrhea and vomiting for days from drinking a gallon of saltwater will do that. 

 

The tank has been very active over the last 12 hours.  I love how things just happen in my artificial ocean, I can sit back and marvel. The cleaner shrimp molted last night, for the first time since I’ve had him.  Pretty cool.  I wish I could molt once in a while, and have a fresh new shell–sans stretch marks.  The candy cane coral pooped, and I saw it happen.  If  you can not think about the fact that they eat and poop from the same orifice, it’s very cool.

 

All Good Things January 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitchelllamamama @ 5:58 pm
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must  come to an end, which, I suppose, is better than no good deed goes unpunished.  

 

Watching my daughter sleep this morning, I saw…something.  I can’t explain it, a particular shadow to her face.  All I know is I saw it, and didn’t want to.  I even very specifically did not mention it when chatting online to a friend earlier. The nurse called a while ago; the girl was in her office, complaining of feeling “seizurey.”  I ran to the school to eyeball her.  Pupils responsive, oriented x3, pallor but still good color in her nail beds, and she wanted to stay at school, so I let her.  I’m 5 minutes from the school, 3 if I run, the nurse is on the premises and the girl has a full time para with her.

 

My daughter has the strongest spirit of anyone I know.  If there’s any way she can keep going she wants to, she does, and she does while smiling one of those smiles that makes you smile back–and mean it. 🙂

 

I did get the unsurance stuff resolved this morning in less than an hour.  That must be a record.

 

The six line wrasse is doing really well, cruising through the rockwork, picking off pods and eating prepared foods.  And no, I am not preparing my own fish food, there’s a limit to my thriftiness (nuttiness?).    So here I sit, watching the tank and holding my breath to see if the nurse is going to call back, if the girl will make it through her day.  

 

Happy Chinese New Year. 🙂

 

Unsurance January 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitchelllamamama @ 8:45 pm
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Yesterday’s reprieve was cut short. 😦  I went to pick up the girl’s meds, feeling positive because she’s been doing so well.  A not so nice surprise waiting for me at the pharmacy.  Unsurance wants another deductible, even though we just paid one a few months ago.  The icing on the cake?  They (unsurance) decided they will only ok part of her prescription.  This, by the way, is not a new prescription or dosage, this was a refill. Aargh!  I know I’ll spend all of Monday on the phone, trying hard to be pleasant and cooperative after being on hold for three hours. 

 

Took the little guy for his entrance exam.  My butt is numb from sitting on an auditorium chair for three and a half hours, but I feel energized.  The principal of the school is a charismatic speaker, who follows through on his verbal commitments to the children, and has dedicated his life to helping these kids find better opportunities. Admission to this school is a long and multi-step process, this was just the first step.  I don’t think we will know anything final until late April. It’s a humbling process, with several hundred children applying for about 35 spots. Humbling because all children deserve wonderful opportunities, and the support and education required to utilize those opportunities.

 

Reprieve January 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitchelllamamama @ 6:28 pm
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Today is starting to feel like a day of reprieve. The girl is still doing well. 🙂 🙂 🙂  My little slice of ocean is thriving, and Papa helped me to do the water change this morning.  I had a good phone chat with a long distance friend, and I was able to get an appt for this afternoon to get little guy’s hair cut.  The six line wrasse ate some prepared and non-live food for the first time today. And, let’s not forget, it’s almost Friday Night Madness.  Woo Hoo!! 

 

Mama, Mama

Cut the drama

How does your garden grow?

With tentacles and fishey smells 

And nerite shells all in a row.  

 

I’m thinking I should stay away from poems and limerics when I get back to writing. 😉  And yes, I will get back to it. 

One of the biggest challenges to living in this city without money or connections is school for the kids.  Little guy will be trying for a spot in a middle school that is amazing.  My big guy went there, but there’s no guarantees for siblings.  Makes me want to bite my nails, but it makes sense.  It’s an extraordinary (but very small)  school that requires a huge commitment from each child.  In return, they make a huge commitment to your child, and show the kids to doors that we wouldn’t even know existed if it weren’t for them.  I’m hoping he’s offered a spot, and hoping he’ll want to go if it’s offered.  

 

For now, I’ll just take a deep breath and enjoy that we are having a one day reprieve in our weather, it’s mild today.

 

Writers Write January 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitchelllamamama @ 7:06 pm
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Sounds very wise, very zen, doesn’t it?  

 

It’s the answer I’ve heard and read in several places when the the question of what defines a “real” writer has arisen.  Is it the act of writing?  Writing creatively?Editing?  Completing a manuscript?  Submitting to an agent or editor?  Being offered a contract?  Published?  Multi-published?  

 

I have no idea.  I haven’t written creatively in a while.  Whatever the answer is, it’s surely true that writers write.  And I’m not writing. 

 

I’ve got a WIP (work in progress) in the laptop, waiting for me.  But I’m not writing.  Papa will read this and say, “just do it.  write.”  I always used to be able to do that.  Why not now?