Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ramadan Mubarak!
if you have never noticed how much of our lives revolve around what we eat or what we are not eating... fast.

i was sick the first few days of Ramadan so today was my first successful day of fasting. (Allahu-Akbar!) the kids i taught today tried every bit of my patience (could have driven a fasting Muslim to eat) but i made it through with my hunger-breath intact.

my daughter called me 30 minutes before sunset/time to break fast and feared she was too hungry and couldn't make it. she has been beautiful and amazing and so proud of herself. (though only a fraction as proud as i am of her.) so we stayed on the phone until she pushed past the moment. today she made it through her SECOND day of fasting (Al-Humdulillah [sp?]). before we knew it, we were saying a prayer together on the phone--her at her brother's football practice, me at my theatre action project meeting--and broke our fasts over pizza and cheesey goldfish.

i love ramadan. it gives me the time and clarity to fully love moments like these. Allahu Akbar!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

broken wings and pixie dust

so i always thought i'd be the kind of parent who lived in absolute truth with my children. well, obviously protecting them with only age appropriate info. but i mean, no santa claus or Easter rabbity fairy-liciousness (considering we are Muslim), no sand man, boogymen or tooth fairies... until my daughter lost her first tooth. her newly snaggled-toothed smile was too cute not to spend whatever change i could muster on. then her brother some years later, his smile proud and perforated. i've been nickeled and dimed ever sense for the teeth falling into dinner plates and cupped palms; from corn cobs and apples. but last night, when my daughter put one of her last 2 baby teeth under her pillow, her brother, whom i thought was still in the brilliant bliss of childhood tales, whispers, "there is no tooth fairy, hunh mommy? the parents just put the money under the pillow." somewhere not so deep inside, i was kinda sad. somehow his disbelief equated to a loss of some believing part of him. and it would be gone forever.

the next morning, as i shake them into the waking world, my daughter stretches; eases her hand under her pillow to recover the dollar i will surely find later, neglected on a countertop, in a pocket of dirty clothes, crumpled in the bottom of her backpack. her lips purse. "you gave me this." "i don't know what you are talking about," i respond nonchalantly. her brother sits up like her partner in this impromptu interrogation. "mom," her eyes roll into her head as she says, "when we lived in the old apartment, one time i woke up and my tooth was still under my pillow. and i closed my eyes again cuz i didn't want to get up yet and i felt your hand go under my pillow, take my tooth and give me money." they both glare at me, smirks simmering at the corners of their mouths like "we ain't stupid". i threw my hands in the air but admitted to nothing. not to being the tooth fairy. not to the fact that they are older and wiser and no longer believers in my fairy wings and pixie dust.

Friday, September 08, 2006

so i'm writing...

i can't sleep. no reason in particular. (at least not that is present in my mind right now.) just restless. maybe it was the chaos of the day with the kids i teach (which feels a bit more regular now. too many details for my tired hands and heart to type tonight.) maybe it's the surprise of the sleepover happening in my livingroom tonight. the endless giggle of girls crushing on chris brown whom my daughter says she is going to first marry, then divorce so she can marry (for the purposes of this blog) the nameless-faceless boy who sits at the table near hers in the cafeteria at lunchtime. (i fear i have set the wrong example. i try to explain the point of marriage and finding the ONE and lifelong relationships, even though her dad and i didn't have one... but she ain't hearing it. she watches and learns and knows she has options and promises to exercise them, should she have to. astute at nine. i don't think i knew a quarter of what she does, when i was her age. i guess the worries for her and her brother alone can be enough to keep any mother up nights. not to mention the deadlines and rent and writings that aren't happening and a serious lack of dark chocolate. maybe i should just lay down. yes. i'll try that. sleep will come...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

day two: may-day! may-day!

today started with a group of supremely attitudinal 4th and 5th graders; a different group than the ones i had yesterday. (there are 6 groups total. each day we spend 2 sessions with 2 different groups. some we will have once or twice a week. others, 2-3 times.) the first hour (with these kids) was an hour of finger pointing and just plain unruliness. so, instead of playing games and doing activities, i had them write. since you are having a problem with respect, for yourself and others, write 5 things you like about yourself. LOAD GROANS. "okay miss," they plead. "we'll play." (you'd think i'd asked them to lick the floor. at that age, i guess anything would be better than saying what they actually like about themselves, right?) after being FORCED to recite one of the "likes" in a circle, i gave them the excruciating task of picking a classmate's name from a bag and saying one nice thing about the person they chose. DOUBLE GROAN. but after each student said what they liked about the person they picked, i said what i liked about the student as well. but time was up and, by then, we had worked ourselves into something that actually looked productive.

maybe it is because by the 2nd hour, the kids are just too damn tired to be interested but somehow 2nd and 3rd graders were the most challenging. they were my 2nd session of the afternoon. at this age, they aren't quite as manageable as older kids and they aren't as easily captivated as younger kids. i had to actually order one child to a desk to put his head down. several others would talk almost IMMEDIATELY after i tell them to stop. Oy vay!!! i finally gave up and took them to the playground.

i am REALLY going to sit down this weekend and to plan next week's activities. no more white flags for me. (but plenty of PRAYER, man. prayer.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

i'm try-lingual!

today was a complex mix of fun and frustrating futility. it was the first day of my theater action project (TAP) artist's residency and it had very little to do with my well-crafted syllabi. my 4th and 5th graders were cool, save the prebubescent outbursts and clique-ishness. we at least made it through a couple of games which inspired dialogue. the real challenge was my K-1 class where a good 4 or 5 students spoke less english than i do spanish. (for those who know my EXTREMELY limited spanish vocabulary, you KNOW today was painful at times. i am grateful, though, that we did all make attempts which should fair much better by semester's end.) but to add to the chaos, try having 10 interpreters, at once! i am really grateful for their enthusiasm but i needed a nap afterwards. (maybe i'll catch up tomorrow.)

so one little girl and i just ended up staring at each other. each time, some kind of stand off. she said her name before and after i did. (so we ended up saying it over and over again because i was APPARENTLY saying something wrong). she'd say a speedy sentence and I'd repeat it in slow, broken spanglish to try and make sense of it. i kept getting it wrong and it kept getting worse because i couldn't hear the difference between what she was saying and what i had said the first and third times. (cue the 10 interpreters!) i'd roll my R's. i made "la" into "ya." but my last syllable always ended raised. a question. hers ended in emollient giggles. i finally understood what all of those school teachers felt like over the years as they mangled my not-so-common-name through their lips behind Susans and Jennys and Cindys.

anyway... we survived. and i can't wait to see them all again tomorrow once i sort through the crayon bits and uncapped markers (what is left of my supply basket). yep... i can't wait. chaos and all. (God help us!)


Monday, September 04, 2006

one last thing...

...before i go to bed. i have an early start to my day tomorrow so i'll be brief. i am recovering from quite a long weekend of bowling and entertaining and belly dancing. (THANK YOU CAMILLE! i am definitely going to purchase a coin-heavy hip scarf when i can afford it!) plus, there is a mosquito annoying the hell outta me. i'm not sure if my spastic jerk-and-scratch are paranoid fits or real mosquito landings. i guess i'll find out in the morning.) after i get the kids off to school, i am participating in a commercial shoot AND it is my first day teaching in the afternoon. most of the children in my classes will be ESL to my understanding. (¿Cómo se dice, "oh shit!"?) but i am sure (and assured) that we'll all not only survive but be so much wiser because of the experiences to come.

anyway, i am on my way to bed but i had to post these things first. i hope to see you all at flo's show. she's amazing. (for those of you who complain about not hearing about good community performances, etc, now's your chance to support local art(ists).) also, check out d'lo at she's the bald sri lankan pointing at you in the flash features. she's in and out of austin throughout the year, when we are lucky. off tha chain.

good night, loves...

HALF-BREED southern fried Check One
An In shop worked production
Directed by Laurie Carlos
Written by Florinda Bryant
Friday, September 8th, 2006 at 8:00 pm
CAAAS Reception Immediately Following Performance
Friday, September 15th, 2006 at 8:00 pm
ProArts Collective Reception Immediately Following Performance

Additional Performances September 9th, 10th, 16th, & 17th. Performances on Fridays and Saturdays will begin at 8:00 pm. Sunday performances will begin at 2:00 pm.

All performances will be held at The Oscar G. Brockett Theatre (inside the Winship Drama Building on the UT Austin Campus located at 23rd & San Jacinto)

$5 Suggested Donation to Defray Production Costs

This production is part of the Performing Blackness Series sponsored by the Center for African & African American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

For more information, call 471-1784 or visit us on-line at