Sunday, January 25, 2009

Water! A Short Play and analysis

Scene: Sunday evening, breakfast table, dinner has been served

Players: Ingrid (picking at second dinner), Jack (devouring Jasmine rice and chutney), Joe and Sally

Sally: And then, we'll work on alliteration until Wednesday... (Walks to kitchen and turns on faucet to get something to drink.)

Joe: (Pretending to listen to lesson plan discussion) Oh.

Jack: (Looks up from meal to mom at kitchen sink.) Water!

Sally: You want water? Okay!

Joe: Get him some water!

Sally: (Hands Jack water.)

Jack: (Drinks thirstily.)

Sally: Wow! Did you hear that?

Joe: I did! He asked for it all by himself.

Ingrid: I want water, please.

Sally: Yay! (Gives Ingrid water.)

Jack: (Makes eye contact with Sally and hands her his cup.) More water.

This play is based on a true story of tonight. My cousin's daughter Emily asked me at the Monroe reunion how to talk to Jack. "If he doesn't know how to talk, how do we talk to him?" Well, my answer fumbled around with learning language, etc. "Like Helen Keller?" she asked. Emily is smart. And this short dinner play tonight made me think we might be getting to some pretty exciting The Miracle Worker moments with Jack.

A Story of Love from '96 to Present

Joe and I celebrated our anniversary a week ago. Ingrid, Jack, Joe and I were driving back to Memphis from a Monroe family reunion in New Orleans. We had a really nice time, and the kids did remarkably well. (Of course, we had fairly low expectations--for our kids, not the family--going into the weekend. But still.)

Joe and I met our freshman year at Ole Miss (1996). Ole Miss is a smaller state school, and I had seen Joe around quite a bit. At the time, I didn't know his name was Joe, or really anything about him. I did know that he was friends with a good friend of mine, Emily, and I secretly thought he had the most attractive eyes I had ever seen, a really cute face, and seemed pretty funny (from afar). So, I guess I could say I was crushin' pretty hard on this random blond haired boy.

Well, early in November, Emily's and my composition class was canceled and we decided to hang out in The Grove. We were writing a letter to Emily's little brother, giving him pointers for his first date. (This included a very witty multiple choice test.) Surprisingly enough, Joe and a group of his friends walked by. They too had experienced class cancellation. (Oddly enough, this doesn't happen too often.) Emily waved to Joe, and he walked over to our table to say hi. Their conversation continued until his friends walked away, and Joe remained. At some point, he sat down with us and began to help write the Are You Ready For Your First Date Test. The three of us laughed and bantered witticisms back and forth for hours. At some point Emily whispered to Joe that I had a crush on him (ooooo). Now, I hadn't told Emily, but I guess it was pretty obvious. (At least to Emily.) So, Joe asked if we (Emily and I) wanted to all go out some time that weekend. (He wasn't super-brave, but he was also--at that point--not super interested in me.) Emily declined. I quickly gave him my dorm phone digits--4201. (Joe still has that peice of paper.)

I had to cancel our first date because I was going out with someone else at the same time, but Saturday night we did go out to dinner. It was there I fell in love. Joe was my very own Bill Nye the Science Guy. (I had a HUGE crush on Bill. Anyone with intense passion for academics is pretty cool to me.) When he nibbled his potato chips into a topographical map of New Orleans to explain why it could flood, I was his. So, that night I called the other guy and broke it off.

Six years of dating (with a short break up), we were married in Oxford. And we've lived happily ever after.

Identifying with Literature

My Aunt Kay sent me Jack London's "To Build a Fire" when I was in grade school. I think that one book had the greatest impact on me as an elementary school student. I felt so much as I read of the multiple missteps taken by protagonist as he comes to the realization the reader has already embraced--he will die. It is a cold, desperate read. One that is very similar to London's tale is The Road, the book I finished during Joe, Ingrid, and my last trip to Baltimore.

I continue to think of The Road and wonder how the Busby family would fare in similar circumstances. The world we live in is so protective, forgiving of our weaknesses. I believe that Joe would have to go it alone. How could we hide to evade passing bands of cannibalistic soldiers if Jack screams? Run from roving, crazed thieves if Ingrid cannot run? Make our way to the warmth of the South if I'm having seizures? Yes, Joe would have to go it alone.

And these are the things I think about when I read a book that I think is good.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Early on in Joe and my series of discussions regarding our daughter's name, Joe balked at one of my suggestions, "HORTENSE? What? You can't be serious! No! Absolutely not. No daughter of mine is going to have the name Hortense." I guess I had to admit I understood where he was coming from. I am clueless most of the time and was no cool kid in middle school, but I do teach them and know Hortense would have a hard way to go through middle school. "Hey, Whore!" Yeah, that's pretty cruel. So, Hortense was off the long list quickly.

Ever since reading A Stranger and a Friend in graduate school, I held a very special place for Hortense Powdermaker. She was a remarkable anthropologist.

And now I am going to make a big, giant leap. It possibly will not make sense. I want a tattoo. I have never before wanted a tattoo, and now I do. "What of?" people ask. "Where?" people ask. And I answer, "I don't know. I don't know." But I do know that I want a tattoo. I am seeing them more like visual documentation of a life. And I have quite a few things going on in my life that I would like to document. (But I am open to suggestions and comments.)

Books of 2008 (well, ones I read in 2008) that were GREAT*!

Align Left*I chose to use the adjective great because it rhymes with eight. However, my very short list only includes the best books of the year. (This is also because I have the most pathetic of memories now--thank you pregnancies--, and I only remember books I still have in my possession.)

I Am the Messenger

Breaking Dawn

The Road

The Book Thief

Just an idea: Joe and I do not choose to keep the majority of books that we have read. Most we pass on to friends or donate to Goodwill. Missy, my friend and neighbor, came up with a great idea for those books. Create "lend or take" stickers. Put one in the front cover of the book with a short, personal review of the book and just leave it anywhere--in a McDonald's, on a park bench, at a museum. Worst thing that could happen--the book is thrown away. Best thing--someone picks it up, reads it, and continues the trend. What the heck? It's worth a try.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

There are a couple questions that I promised myself I would never ask kids. "Do you like school?" (and school related questions that follow that dutiful and monotone 'yes') and "What do you want to be when you grow up?" But even though I am aware of that grade school promise, I still ask those lame questions quite lamely. Right now I am fairly comfortable hanging out with toddlers (those who like to listen to humorous animal sounds and give high fives and listen to my fair to middlin' singing), non-verbal preschoolers (they like the same things with the addition of lots of running and spinning), and those dreaded early teenagers (they like to talk about themselves and hear you talk about them--it's easy to do that since, seriously, they are pretty darn cool kids). So, I guess the age I don't quite get is verbal preschoolers to about fifth grade.

I remember answering that question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" a lot. At first I said a ballerina because I had this kickin' tutu and leotard and thought it would pretty cool to walk around in that all of the time. Then, in first grade, I had a teacher who ate yogurt in the morning while we worked on our board work and drank a Coke in the afternoon while we played on the playground. "Are you kidding me?" I thought. "This is a job? Bossing people around, eating and drinking all day? Heck yes!" So for the next five years I wanted to be a teacher.

My reasons for wanting to be a teacher expanded past the yogurt and Cokes. During my school days I would study my teachers constantly and then imitate at home. I would plan lessons in my lesson plan book, average grades, make tests, teach to my imaginary, yet very unruly, class. I have always been a little obsessive, so I didn't get many gifts for any holiday that were not centered around my dream to teach. By the time I was in fifth grade, I had a wall sized chalk board, bulletin board, an overhead projector, and teacher's guides. When people asked me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I would answer, "A teacher," and then steel myself for the next response. Either the adult would ask why and find my nerdy, adult-like focus hilarious or would say, "Oh. That's nice." Either way, I felt embarrassed.

So, surprise, surprise, I am now a teacher. It is different than what I imagined it would be to teach, and most of the time, it is better than I imagined it being. I love what I do. Last year I applied to be a National Board Certified Teacher. The process is a long one. It consists of 4 entries in a portfolio. And 6 essay test questions. A teacher has three years to bank scores while working on passing enough entries to earn NBCT status. Right before Thanksgiving this year, I received the email letting me know I had passed. I am now a NBCT. I wouldn't have been able to do all of the work I had to do without the help of Joe. He was an incredible support.

And when he asks that question of kids in those elementary years, which isn't very often, he listens to the answer--sincerely.