Friday, January 30, 2009

Don't Fake the Funk . . .

No, this isn't a post about our mayor. You can read other blogs around town if you want to read of his highs or his lows.

I wanted to let you all in on my blessed connection with a certain 7' basketball player out there. That's right, Shaquille O'Neal and I are cosmically connected, I swear.

From my first time meeting him when I was at my 8th grade dance recital . . . no, unfortunately he was not my Pas de Deux partner, but he was touring the Bob Carr Auditorium - right next to the O-reana (yeah, you know back in the old days where arenas had names and not branded labels) - and was backstage right before one of my numbers - 'woah' is all you can really say - well all a group of little white girls in tutus can say when meeting this large man with hands the size of a strip mall . . .

to the ever expansion of my creative brain when making up poems about Shaq in ninth grade English class:
'Don't fake the funk on a nasty dunk'
That's what Shaq says when he dunks on a punk
(See - I told you guys I was good)
or chants to yell at the Finals games:
Shaquille, Shaquille - you make me squeal!
Hakeem, Hakeem - you make me scream!
Yep - all of my creative energy that went into such pairing of words and manipulation of phrasing - could have been harnessed and exploited in the making (and ultimate saving) of Shaq-Fu

to my evening at Steak and Shake where I first had an intimate conversation with him - as I watched him manually eject himself out of his little red sports car - one perfectly elongated, muscular limb at a time - come in and order Takhomasak (or however they spell that mess). The words weren't much - but the meaning behind them was sacred. I think it went like this -
"Um, hi, are you Shaquille O'Neal"
"Uh - yeah."
"Ohmygosh,itsreallygoodtomeetyou - ImeanIveseenyoubeforebutIdon'tthinkyouwouldremem
bereventhoughIdo - wouldyoumindsigningthisplacematformybrother - hesareallybigfan - likesupergeekyfanandhesonlyninesohehasanexcusetobesooverlyenamoredwithsuchagoodbasketballplayer - buthewouldtotallyfreakOUTifyousignedthisforhim - causehetotallylovesyou - waitletmegetapen - ivegotoneinmylunchbox - itsbluelikethemagic - notBlueMagicbutliketheteamsnameyouknow - thoughBlackMagicmightbecool - actuallywhydontyougobythatnickname?andthenIcouldtell
everyonethatImadeitup - wouldntyouwanttodothatforme?Ohokay,yeah,justsignitandI'llleaveyoualone. Ihopeyougotfriesbecausetheyrethebesthere
Ivegotextracheesesauceifyouneedsome - ohIguessyouwouldordersomeifyouwantedsome."
"Yeah - I'll sign it."
"Oh,thanks,foreverthanks - thatssocool,Shaq,he'sgoingtopeehispants - butIwonttellanyonebecauseImacoolbigsister.Thatsareallyniceautograph-doyouthinkyoucould...oh,okay.Well,Ihopeyouhaveagoodnight.Bye,Shaq!Ohmygod,guysdidyouseethat?"
(Yeah, have I ever mentioned how utterly cool and non-annoying I was as a teenager, especially hopped up on french fries and milk shakes and soda pop?)
But yeah, later on that night I found out that the Magic had lost a really big game and I'm sure the poor dude was trying to get away from freaks like me and just get a nice juicy burger and a milk shake - why else would he have been in Apopka? - and chill out. But then again, he didn't realize he would be meeting his soul mate, either . . .

A couple years later, right as I left Central Florida to pursue my own dreams of something bigger - you know, like a cramped dorm room and alcohol poisoning - Shaq announced he was on to better things himself - like the LA Lakers, and a multi-million dollar contract. Everyone felt deceived, even I felt a tinge of regret that I didn't pursue our burgeoning love before it was too late - until I saw him in his Laker's jersey - #34. That was MY number - you know, the one you put at the end of a page to someone's beeper so that they knew it was you - it had to have been a sign, or a coded love letter waiting to be opened. Oh, Shaq . . .

. . . you shouldn't have. But, I love you, too.

Anyway - he went to LA fell in love with Kobe, fell out of love with Kobe, won a few National titles, moved to Miami (bienvenido a Miami), became a cop, you know - moved on - after leaving me. I followed a similar path and it led up to my life as of yesterday.

I forgot how much he meant to me until last night after I fell asleep. I was dreaming about bacon (the breakfast kind - not that silly Canadian stuff) and pineapple pizza, and someone whispered in my dreaming ear,

"You know, that's Shaquille O'Neal's favorite pizza, too."

Ah, nothing like sweet nothings to remind us of our lost loves.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Good things

I feel I have been complaining lately - even started out writing about how tired I was - but wanted to stop and smell the roses. (Not that there are any roses - or anything close to anything that looks or smells like Spring - or Summer - or Fall. Definitely Winter here - but I will stop.) There are good things going on in my life right now - really good things and I wanted to share with you so that maybe I can start appreciating them myself.

1. will always be my family. I have Elle - she's fun, funny, smart and still loves to cuddle me. Jeffrey and I still struggle to understand each other, but we're learning to let things go - and it gets easier every day. My parents are still alive and well and I talk to them often and get to see them occasionally. My sisters and brother are doing well in their lives and we share frustrations and joys - there's nothing like a good sibling conversation to make everything feel just a little bit better.

2. My president is black. As much wisdom is being spouted about how to recover race relations in this country - about how we should start to un-label people by their physical characteristics but by their accomplishments and policy - it sure feels good to say that. My president is white, too. It keeps the conversation open - it exposes the haters out there, and brings to light a lot of ignorance that most of us have in regards to everything related to race, class, gender, and even just plain physicality. And it doesn't even matter what color he is, Barack Obama would have been saying the same things, and bringing the same strength back to the presidency, and reaching out to us, the citizens of this country, to reign in the control of our democracy. . . to start being responsible for not only our lives, but the lives of people in our community, the future of our businesses and cities, our childrens well-being and the culture of their learning. Its a good day when people in the media every day try to rain on the parade - its been a long time since we've had one to watch.

3. I don't sleep a lot. It hurts to walk. I'm getting fat. I don't have any clothes to wear. I get violently kicked about 200 times a day. Yep - still counting my blessings, I swear. You forget how freakin cool it is to have a little alien inside of you when its been so long in the waiting . . . thankfully you forget how much it sucks sometimes, too - or there would be far more only children out there in this world. I can't believe I'm already 6 months in.

4. I have a job. I get paid to do something I love - even though I hate sitting around waiting to do it. But when there are so many people out there stuggling and trying to put together resumes and searching websites and networking, networking, networking - I get to be collecting a salary. Jeff has to fire half his staff by the end of this week . . . a lot of them good friends, but he gets to keep his job - and our health benefit, and our sanity. A lot of people in Kansas City will be getting the proverbial pink slip over the next couple months, but for the moment, I'm safe. Good thing, too, I have to pay for all those girl scout cookies I've eaten.

5. I don't live in Alaska.

6. I have two crazy roommates right now that come with a huge flatscreen tv, the Wii and Wii Fit, PlayStation III, all episodes of every television show I could ever want to watch (hello, Dexter!), top-shelf liquor, conservative perspective, and a flair for fashion. This new kid is going to have some big shoes to fill (and some huge purchases to make) when they leave.

That's it for now. Stress levels rising . . . too much to do. =) Talk to ya'll later!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Secret Poem

Do you see what I see?
When I look in the mirror, I see me.
Oh, when you look there, you see you?
When I look there, I see eyes of blue.

You see eyes of green, I see . . .
You have different eyes than me.
But at night, I do, too
Have different eyes than me and you.

I have eyes of brown, you see -
but, please, keep this between you and me.
Because brown eyes are nice, but I do, too,
like my eyes to be the hue of blue.

And everyone says, "Oh my, oh me,
What beautiful blue eyes I do see!"
I like to hear this (especially from you),
So, I change my eyes from brown to blue.

I used to write ludicrous poetry like this all the time - from middle school up through college. I always thought I would write children's books . . . you know, on the side of my real career - which I still don't know what that is. =) But I miss writing silly stories, miss having fun making stupid poems for every occasion, miss having fun writing. I want to find a Writer's Workshop - any suggestions?

Monday, January 26, 2009

I really have to pee

I am sitting here in my office and I really need to pee. I realized that I don't have toilet paper just a little too late this morning. I have my 32oz water cooler halfway drunk already and this kid must have some sense of humor because she's kicking more than ever right now.

It's moments like this that I really wish I had a penis. Actually, this is probably the only moment I would wish for a penis.

Did I mention that I do taxes?

Oh yeah, I do.

And I'll do them for you.

I'll give you a special blogger discount.

Just email me:

kcsponge at gmail dot com

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Blanc Blues

My daughter is in first grade at Academie Lafayette. There are many reasons that I sent her to this school - #1 she has a French word for a name, so she was already one up on the rest of the class - #2 its like 5 blocks away from my house - #3 its a really good school - good free school, even better - #4 she would be going to school with a lot of the little kids I taught at the YMCA - I liked these kids, I knew these kids.

A lot of parents like to say that they have no other choice - but there are other choices.

Border Star Montessori is just as close to my house as Academy Lafayette. They even have a preschool program that could have saved us $7,000 before Elle started Kindergarten. But my kid is not one you would call a 'self-starter' - she's not even reliably a facilitated starter. Her first progress report this year said, "Elle spends a lot of time getting lost in her own pencils and not focused on the task at hand." So, Montessori is probably not the right choice for her - even though I really love the lessons of nurturing and mentorship you get in a classroom that spans many ages as it progresses at each child's own accomplishment and growth and not solely on age.

Troost Elementary is even closer to our house then either AL or Border Star. With a Great Schools rating of 1 out of 10, a parents rating of 3 out of 10, 0% of 3rd graders who read at or above proficient levels, 3% who are proficient in math by 5th grade . . . it just didn't make the cut. The white-guilted hipster in me would love to send my child to a school that would put her in the 3% minority, what a social experiment for me!, and the community-minded, public-school educated, urban education sympathizer inside of me would love to support my school district, but the big fat nerd inside of me who took the SAT's twice because a 1280 just wasn't high enough would never find solace with low expectations that would be fostered in a school that loses proficiency in every subject at every grade level each year.

Another charter school close by is Brookside Charter by UMKC. Elle went to the dayschool there for a year - faltering under the High Scope curriculum and an administrative staff that was over-worked and, I'm sure, underpaid - and it showed in their attitude. The learn-through-play approach is not carried through Kindergarten and beyond, but the I-don't-care-so-don't-bother-me approach to parents doesn't jive with me. I like to be involved - and I like to be liked. So, continuing at Brookside was not an option either.

#2 on my list was University Academy. Jeffrey went to temple at B'nai Juhuda growing up, and I watched the new school being built on that same site as Elle was a little baby, and thought how perfect . . . and it was a K-12 campus, with stringent curriculum, college-prep atmosphere, and started by a family I knew well, the Bloch's. The very visible library made my heart ache as I waited for Elle to be old enough to attend (and navy blue bottoms instead of khaki - much more fashionable uniforms!) But Jeff, in his very bossy way, vetoed the decision after having students from UA visit Science City for a field trip. He thought the students were unruly and the staff disrespectful and lazy. So -poof- no University Academy for Elle (just like -poof- no naming my 2nd daughter Trixie). He's a pretty laid-back guy, but when he makes a decision - man, it is made.

So, we were left with Academie Lafayette, and I have loved my time there. Elle had a hard time with the French at first, and I had a hard time with the culture of the educational environment at first, but we have thrived as a family in this short journey, and I have made many friends and enjoy a very tight-knit community of parents and students and faculty and staff. I still have some issues, but Elle loves school, can't wait to do homework, is showing such strength in mathematics, and will continue to learn words I will never know in a language I love to listen to, will learn a history of our nation - a history of our world - from a perspective I was never taught, will go from a classroom led by a Haitian man to sing with a teacher from Belgium, will befriend children from every corner of the city and every walk of life, and will, by the end of her 8th grade year, be ready for anything that should come next.

But, as was pointed out to me yesterday, I chose the 'white' school. Because it represents the diversity of the overall population, and not the racial makeup of the student population in the Kansas City Missouri School District, my decision to send my child to this school has perpetuated the exclusionary practices of the school's admissions policies. Because this school is successful and has a track record of good test scores, continuing student excellence beyond the 8th grade, stable and growing community involvement, and city and state-wide recognition for accomplishments, there is a demand for admission to a small and already over-stretched campus. They have an established early admissions policy that is open to all students in the KCMS district, with a lottery system that fills the remaining spots after the deadline. They only enroll in Kindergarten because of the immersion education, so this leads to a high attrition rate - which has actually been going down over the last few years, but still causes the upper classes to get smaller and smaller. But they have an over-abundance of interest with incoming Kindergarteners. The admissions policy allowed for only 8 minority students to get admitted in a class of 85 this year.

There is a proposal now for the Kindergarten classes to move to 80th and Holmes in the old Benjamin Bannekar campus, increase enrollment for the Kindergarten class and hopefully one day increase the size of the school. It would increase the incoming K class to 135 - with only 30 of these being non-white. So, it separates the community, utilizes a piss-poor site in a fringe-suburban location, and does nothing to solve an over-arching problem for education in Kansas City, and it doesn't even maintain the diversity of student population it thrives on. I don't like it. I don't like it at all.

So, my question is, how do we maintain the culture of the school, the needs of the students in the district, and keep the admissions policy fair to guarantee the continuation of the unique character of this mid-town, 'neighborhood' school? I think we should admit so many students from every sub-district - ensuring a wide-range of socio-economic, geographic, racial and ethnic contributions to the student and parent community. Its a hard thing for me to say because I think that community schools are the future of urban education, and having a school down the street encourages parental involvement and community activation - but its what will work right now.

The same person that told me that I chose the 'white' school told me that policies are judged by their outcomes and not their intentions. So, I had a choice for my daughter - one that results in her being part of a diverse population with test scores that are envied by suburban schools around the state, or one that perpetuates low-expectations and a quick-sloping funnel for success.

I'm not sure if its unconcious racism or an elite sense of entitlement or a fear of judgement by my peers that made me make this 'white' choice . . . I just know I made the right one.


So, hi - my name is Sponge. I used to blog, now I spend my time slaving for The Man. Well, I actually never really blogged, but I at least spent time reading others' blogs and commenting and every once in a while spouting off my own little rant here and there.

But now I realized, I spend an inordinate amount of time every day in front of a computer and don't take too much time to take a break. So, I'm committed to stopping that. I may not stop to eat lunch - but hey, I can stop to complain a little (I always have something to complain about), or maybe talk about how much I like food, or how life is great, or people are stupid. You know - bi-polar rantage, if you will.

So yeah, I'm back . . . and I am working 12 hours on this lovely Friday afternoon, have no appointments, got through an audit yesterday and have nothing better to do . . . so watch out.

I'm taking in all the happenings in Kansas City and saving you all the trouble . . . I'll let you know whether to soak it up or squeeze it out!!