Tuesday, May 16, 2006



Last time I did the whole try-to-be-a-teacher thing, I observed an elementary school in DC without interior walls (never fixed from some crazy idea people had in a time when brownies contained more than chunks of chocolate) or air conditioning in June.

It was a very sobering, migraine-inducing experience.

This one, however, takes the cake.

On Friday I am doing an observation of an 8th Grade English class at a school in DC. This particular school is for 7th, 8th, and 9th Grade students. I will be observing an English class instead of a Social Studies class (which I am slated to teach).

Why you ask?

A legitimate question, one I myself posed to my advisor in the program. I was informed that this school, and several other middle and junior high schools in the district, have no Social Studies programs.

They were cut for budget reasons.

Less than a mile from the Capitol of the United States of America, for three years of their lives, students are not learning anything thing about their country, government, history, or world.

Since, your blood is probably boiling like the cast of Les Miserables when they take to the barricades, I will give you this crumb of hope: the teacher I am going to observe, just because she thinks it is the right thing to do, teaches Social Studies to her homeroom “So they at least get some understanding of this place.”

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


The truth, the whole truth

There are circumstances that drive people to do things they would never normally consider. Hopeful pioneers ate each other on the Oregon Trail, mothers have the power to lift mini vans when their children are in danger, wars turn brothers against brothers, and a good sale at Banana Republic once caused me to buy an orange winter coat.

This phenomenon was very apparent to me this morning when I witnessed the ritual cleaning-out-of-the-office-fridge.

Normally Jesus loving, elastic-waist ban sporting, chicken soup making women turned into lying, accusing, and vindictive vultures. Like a politician testifying before a grand jury, they had the spottiest memories when ugly things were pulled out (“This green, mold-covered mango, is not yours? You can’t remember? But you eat mangos everyday…”) and yet amazingly clear when self-incrimination was not a factor (“Yes, all of those unopened sodas as mine, I like to keep them in there for everyone to share, but yes, I am sure they are mine, I bought them 14 days ago at the Safeway 2 for 1 sale..”).

I would never make a good senior policy advisor as I fessed up to the Tupperware container full of month old leftover couscous.

Like any good loyal base, my co-workers denied it for me, “That? Ew! No, that can’t be yours you are so neat! It must be so and so’s from such and such…”

Thursday, May 04, 2006



As a child my mother did not encourage competition. In the bizarre fusion of traditional, Republican, Christian, Midwestern family and whole grain eating, placenta burying, anti-institution, homeschooling family was raised in, I came out an incredible competitive being.

My mother actively worked to diffuse my naturally intense competitive drive. We never got grades or test scores, the focus was always on learning new material and growing in that knowledge. At birthday parties my mom didn't give prizes to the "winner" of a game, but gave each person the same prize as they lost or were out.*

I still love to win.

I always win, I have to, it is the ultimate motive. I adore it, crave it. Be it in an argument about music trivia, tense political debate, or a good game of Risk, I love to win.

This drive to win is often troublesome and sometimes downright absurd. I have gotten into needless fights (the words kind, debates about the original recording artist of "Cruel Summer", merits of trickle-down economics, and conquering of Australia by small plastic men don't generally result in people throwing punches) and said things I shouldn't have all in the name of winning. I scared when I think about how I would be if my mom hadn't tried to splash some cold water on my competitive side.

After a conversation with my sister about who could name their future daughter Charlotte after my Great Grandma and threatening to have said child now so as to get to use name (we were kidding mom, don't freak out), the strangeness of my families competitiveness struck me.

But really it isn't that strange. We are Americans. We hail from the self-proclaimed "Home of Proud Americans." I could ramble on here, but I'm just going to say, maybe the competitive nature is, at it's core, good and natural but needs a mom to reel it in and diffuse it sometimes...sadly I don't think Barbara Bush is up to the task...

*The exception was my 10th**, when I WON the dance marathon (in my living room) and my mother insisted on giving the trophy to the inferior SECOND place winner, because I was the "birthday girl." My one moment of dancing glory...thanks mom.

**Not positive it was my 10th, but if I was much older that becomes a more embarrassing story, so don't correct me mom, for my sake.


In Mourning

My ipod died. Or, more accurately, I killed it. I am sad to report it did not die valiantly, or in a romantically, Shakespearian manner, it merely slipped from my hand as I was searching for my keys. Being the strong musical electronic playing device that it is, it fought will all its little 60 gigs and held on till morning. But played it's final tune (too embarrassing to admit here) on my walk to work last week.

I hope for a Buddha-esque reincarnation, as I have heard the Apple Store people are amazing, but seeing as it doubles as a maraca, I am not holding out hope.

Since the loss of my dear ipod, I have been at the mercy of the universe for audio stimulation. In the past 24 hours I have heard the following things that would have normally been politely muffled by a pop hit, showtune, or random hit from the 80s:

1. Birds chirping
2. Bus breaks
3. A couple parting ways in a more dramatic fashion than Jack and Rose when this couple were going to Russell and Rayburn, not the bottom of the Atlantic and NYC
4. A mom screeching to her husband in front of a daycare center about the importance of their son being allowed to play with his doll at daycare
5. Jack hammering
6. More birds chirping
7. Horns honking (NOT beeping)
8. "And then then next thing I knew I could see the inside of my colon up on the screen!" (a retiree talking to my cube-neighbor about the medical procedure she just had performed an hour earlier)
9. My co-worker speaking to someone on the phone about me (in Spanish so I don't know what about, but she definitely said 'Becky' a few times in there...maybe she was talking about another Becky...)
10. The incessant chime of my neighbors computer every .006 milliseconds when she gets a new e-mail

I am going to the Apple Store VERY SOON.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


The only cats I like are the ones that sing and dance

Me: "I don't really like cats."
Kahil (12 year old): "What?!?! How can you not like cats? That is unamerican!"
Me: "Actually, I hate cats. And how is that unamerican?"
Kahil: "Cats are as American as apple pie! They are pets! Pets are American! Pet stores are American!"
Me: "I hate pet stores even more than I hate cats. They are gross and they smell."
Kahil: "That smell is the smell of freedom!"

*I didn't have the heart to tell him it was the smell of aging pet feces or that I didn't care for apple pie either...

Monday, April 24, 2006


Time Travel Wishes and Nerdy Dreams

As a child, I always wanted a time machine. I could frolic in the fields with Laura Ingles Wilder, ride the first Ferris Wheel at the Chicago World’s Fair, and have tea with Queen Elizabeth I…

While I would still love to bear witness to historical events in person (tell me you wouldn’t LOVE to hear the Gettysburg Address or see Julius Caesar traipsing around Rome?), life as a “grown-up” has given me new reasons to crave time travel.

It may not be that the decisions we make as adults are more important or life-altering than those we make as children or teens, but it sure feels like it. Due to higher mental capacity or more life experience, the decisions I have made in the last few years seem to loom above me as if they grasp my fate in their sweaty hands.

As I embark on yet another job change, I can’t help but think about, question, and maybe even doubt, my decision. I just want to hop into a shiny time machine, fly off into the future and see if I made the right decision. Even Ebenezer Scrooge got to see how things would turn out in his life if he did not make some changes, so why can’t I? (I realize the answer is that, for bettor or for worse, Charles Dickens does not equal God, but still..)

Lacking the ability to travel into the future or the past, my decisions are merely educated guesses about the future…people say you have to take risks, I know they are right. Life wouldn’t be much of anything without them. But at heart I am a girl who thinks the quarter slots are a little too risky and I still wish H.G. Wells would see me along the side to road with my big hitch-hikers thumb and pick me up….

Friday, April 21, 2006


Stuck between a pillow and a cloud

I have wrestled with a big career/lifestyle change this week. In true Becky form, I stressed myself out and contemplated every option ten times. The beauty of my situation was that not only did I have options, I had good options.*

The moral of the story is, I will be leaving my current job this summer - of playing office. I will begin grad school to pursue my Masters of Education and play teacher. Teacher of Secondary Social Studies - does it get any cooler?

This career option may sound familiar to some of you, since this is take-two for me of this type of program. There are some differences from this program and the previous one. And more importantly, it is in my city and I am two years older and wiser.**

It has been a tough decision but I’m ready for the new challenge and looking forward to dusting some of the cobwebs off of my brain.***

*One was not a 100% option, it's true, but was looking more like an option everyday.
**Ok, maybe not wiser but having different expectations and experiences – how’s that?
***Increased brain use will not impact my reality TV intake, so don’t get too excited roommates.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Puppies make me mad sometimes

Ever hear that song:

All God's Creatures got a place in the choir,
Some sing low,
Some sing higher,
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire,
And some just clap their, hands, or paws, or anything you got now...

Or the more classic:
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

Well I know both well from my Mid-Western, WASPY upbringing, but I think their messages have not stuck.

While walking to work today I momentarily overcame my extreme passive-aggressive tendencies to offend a stranger.

I was trotting down the street enjoying my foot apparel choice (flip-flops) and newly downloaded itune (Stupid Girls) when this haggard, old, spinster (nice old lady) and her obnoxious, flea-ridden, ferocious canine (puppy) walked right up to me and leapt upon me in a crazed fit of rage (place its two front paws on my calf)!

The Wicked Witch of Capitol Hill did nothing control her mongrel nor did she apologize for its actions. What did she do, you ask? She ASKED if I wanted to PET him. I said NO (no, thanks). She has so offended she cast a death spell on me (gave me a dirty look) and flew away (kept walking down the street). The audacity...

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