Monthly Archives: January 2008

Master

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graduation_cap2.jpgIt’s official everyone!  I passed my Master’s Comprehensive Exam (taken last November….I love the efficiency of my program) and have been titled a Master of Education.  HA!  Isn’t that funny?  Despite texting several people requesting they now refer to me as “Master Karolyn”, it really doesn’t feel like that significant of an accomplishment.  If only because my school district only acknowledges it with a less than $500 increase a year.  Which works out to about $25 extra a month…I guess I can go grab a meal with that though!  But, that pay raise only goes into effect after my Master’s actually posts.  Probably yet another few months! Thanks for those of you who responded appropriately to the texts, i.e. ‘Master Kar’, ‘Master Sister’, ‘Master McMastress’ (my grandparents thought of that one), ‘Master K’ and even to those of you who weren’t as receptive to the suggestion, i.e. “Not a chance [to address me as Master anything]”.  Too bad this wasn’t a Master’s in something I truly wanted…or I could cross it off “the list”.  I might just do that anyways!

Rock Band

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rock-band-screen.jpgSo, I have a new found love.  It’s border-line obsession, as a matter of fact.  I realized this last night when I was up until 2am with our newly formed band, The Speed Beasts (Kelton/Kate-vocals, El/Elvis-guitar, Dog …/Acosta-drums, and Windrose/Myself-bass).  I was just introduced to this new love on Wednesday, merely by hapenstance.  I was planning on spending the day alone: cleaning my room, reflecting on the first day back at work, reading, etc.  Due to a lockdown of my neighborhood, though, things took a turn for the better.  I ended up at my little BFF’s house (a.k.a. Acosta, Adrian, My lil’ Acosta, Coasters, etc.) along with Kate and her boyfriend, Elvis.  I arrived at approximately 4:30pm and other than the 60 minute break I took for working out, we played straight through 11pm.  On a school night.  What rebels!

The love turned obsession last night.  Only my second time playing, I was addicted.  I got over to Acosta’s around 10:30pm.  He and the rest of our band had been practicing for not too long, but could not beat this one song.  We had already acquired a tour bus, roadies, eleven new venues, and three more cities, but we were desperate for more.  I think we must have literally played this song approximately 17 times and at one point even successfully completed 95% of the song before being boo’ed of the stage.  We were finally getting to the point where we were getting extremely frustrated and borderline exhausted when we opted for one more attempt.  It was approximately 1:32am when we probably woke up half of Inglewood with our cheers, screams, and high fives when we finally completed Train Kept A-Rollin’ by Aerosmith.  I realized this might be a problem when I instantly thought that finishing this song was probably my biggest accomplishment in the last few months.  I apparently need more challenges in my life.

But, really.  Acosta and I probably just spent 20 minutes of our phone conversation discussing the benefits of Rock Band and wondering why it did not come out sooner.  These are some of the benefits we have found:

  • Everyone wants to be a Rock Star.  Come on, you know it.
  • It promotes team-work and the atmosphere of cooperation, encouragement, and perseverance
  • You can see your mistakes, your improvement, and your progress towards your goals
  • There is a quick learning curve that keeps people motivated and driven to do better
  • It helps with rhythm.  Really, I do not lie.  I went to a black church today and felt much more capable in my clapping, dancing, and worshiping abilities. 
  • It builds confidence.

I am happy to report that The Speed Beasts have also now acquired a jet plane to go on our world tour with.  It really is a lot of pressure, but we are rising to the occasion.  Unfortunately, practice and tours had to be postponed today due to soreness in some of the band members (Really.  We have to take stretch breaks, give each other hand massages, and make sure to have plenty of water bottles nearby.  This is no laughing matter).

If you do not know Rock Band, you are truly missing out.  Google it and get back to me.

Black and White

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m_9d5185eaef4f5597fd0c71e0564f252b.jpg2008.  It’s actually the year 2008 (Makes me think of a teammate’s elderly mom who once said, “Yogi…it’s 2002!  Who would have ever thought I’d live to see the year 2002?” in her deep Creole accent).  After the happenings of this weekend it’s interesting to think about how far we have…or haven’t…come in the last 50 years.  To attempt to summarize: I was told on Friday by the founder of HerShe (the organization for girls in foster care I am involved with) that there were “trust issues” in the relationship with my mentee, Rosalyn, and myself according to Rosalyn’s grandmother.  At the time, this news throws me in a tizzy: I cry, I over-analyze, I call friends, discuss my concerns, speculate what could have caused this comment, etc.  I have been called some things in my life, but I don’t think untrustworthy is one of them.

The next day I find out from Rosalyn (through many tears) the reason is that her grandma has a problem with me because I am white.  White.  Not much I can do about that, so secretly it makes me feel better that it’s not something I said or did, or something I didn’t say or do.  But, six months into our relationship, this is not what I expected.  After emotions, frustrations, successes, and celebrations have been shared, this is not what I could have predicted.  I have had one other encounter with racism in my life.  A teammate of mine’s mom was a Black Panther and when I dropped my teammate off one day, she suggested I drop her off around the corner so that her mom wouldn’t see her with a white girl.  Well, I guess one other occassion too.  I was never encouraged to meet one of Kisha’s aunt’s since I was white.  Three times in my life that I’ve encountered racism because I am white.  Not too often, but often enough.

I went to dinner last night with two other mentors right after I’d received the news regarding Rosalyn’s grandma’s concern.  This led to a very interesting conversation, one I do not think that we as Americans have often enough being in such a diverse country.  One mentor is a very light-skinned black woman who was raised in all-white Catholic schools growing up.  The other is also a black woman, but she was born and raised in L.A. and surrounded by only black people as she grew up.  And, of course there was me.  Born and raised in all upper-middle class white suburban neighborhoods.  Not really many encounters with people other than whites until college, and it’s obviously taken a turn from there!  The three of us were able to openly discuss our perspectives, prejudices, thoughts, reactions, and ideas feely.  It really was an enlightening experience that I wish more people could share.

We are so afraid of hurting people’s feelings and of getting hurt.  But until something is said about this and we are able to come together and discuss things that are uncomfortable, not much is going to change.  Sure, schools claim not to be segregated any longer.  So how do you explain my school?  Absolutely no white kids in the middle of South Central Los Angeles.  I think that’s pretty much the definiteion of segregation.  I’m glad so many people (i.e. politicians) feel better about themselves since they can live in far off places and pretend schools are integrated models representing society as a whole.  Not so.  Not so at all.

Had Gompers Middle School been the feature of a 20/20 expose while I was in college, I would have had a hard time believing the story that was being told.  I would not believe that for nine years the school had not been meeting any standards and had not received any sort of intervention.  That the school was infested with roaches, seagulls (and their poop), swarms of bees and other unsanitary and dangerous living creatures.  That middle school students were actually getting arrested on campus in front of their peers.  That students in the 8th grade were unable to read at a kindergarten level while having an average IQ.  These things boggle my mind.  How does this continue to happen?

Because we do not talk about it.  How can we change that?  I respect Rosalyn’s Grandmother for never treating me differently throughout the course of knowing her, although I’m left perplexed at this point as to how the racism has seemingly re-arisen out of nowhere.  I respect the fact she is older and from the south and definitely had more than her fair share of racist remarks and experiences.  But, can we talk about it?  Can I try to more clearly understand why I am perceived as somebody unworthy to be in her granddaughter’s life because I am white.  I want to have those uncomfortable conversations in attempt to learn more, teach more, broaden horizons, and shatter misconceptions.  While we might have different cultures (as evidence in church today), we each have something to offer, something to bring to the table, and many things to learn.  

Any other suggestions?

The End of a Break

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christmas-carols.jpgReading my friend Becky’s blog inspired me to recount what I was able to sqeeze in over my three week break from teaching.  It was definitely a highly enjoyable time full of fun times,  forming of great memories, and even a little R&R.  Do not feel any pressure to read this, just humor me.  I think I’m mostly posting it so I can remember my break as I look back.  Because I barely remember it now!

12/15 Break begins!  Spend the day at Jillian’s with HerShe and then drive up to SB with J-Jax and Dani to the open mic night for JP and Garth

12/16 JP and Garth get married!!  Wonderful day with friends celebrating!

12/17 Spend the day with Bekah, Raleigh, and Lauren and then go to Stephanie’s game that night!  Head back to LA

12/18 Relax! Christmas celebration with Patrick

12/19 Disneyland with Acosta 🙂

12/20 Relaxed and went to work for a few hours.

12/21 Drive to San Diego to see Mistie, Jess, and the whole Boyd-Blomquist clan!

12/22 Ice Skating with the FCA girls and late game night fun

12/23 My sister finally comes back home!!!!  Lots of time with her: hair cuts, Starbucks, pedicures, etc.

12/24 Christmas Eve with my mom and Jim out in the O.C.

12/25 Christmas craziness: mom and Jim in the morning, quick trip to the airport to go see dad in AZ

12/26-12/31 Arizona!  Lots of reading, hanging out with friends (Courtney, Sarah, Elizabeth, Jen, Jenny, Mistie, Jaan, Wayne, a little bit of Desi and Meg, Tara, etc.), and tons of Boggle with dad (full statistics available upon request)

12/31-1/5 Trisha in town!  NYE with Bekah, Jamie, and friends, time on the beach, time with friends, time with my mentee Rosalyn for her birthday, Hollywood site seeing, Universal Studios excursion, dinner and time with mom and Jim, and a failed game night attempt (the rain deterred many visitors, but we still had fun wii-ing it up!)

1/6-1/7 Weekend to remember (i.e. last weekend of freedom for awhile)  RELAX!!!  Clean, organize, work out, etc.

And, so it goes!  Back into the routine and having a tough time adjusting.  Students are back with a vengeance and keep me laughing and on my toes.  God bless ’em!

Reflection?

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roller-coaster.jpgT minus 36 hours until I have to report back to work.  I do believe that winter break, spring break, and summer break are three things that will keep me in education.  I was feeling pretty good about work before the break, but have since lost some motivation.  I am hoping that when I am greeted with my students’ bright and shining faces, I will once again be reminded why I do what I do.

As I reflect back on this year…and the past few years at that, I get a variety of feelings.  It’s kinda bittersweet, if you will.  And I think you will.  I am satisfied that I stuck out my commitment to Teach for America and made it through those first two years and am having a much better third year.  I am touched by so many of my students and what they have accomplished and the perseverence they have shown.  I am tormented by a feeling that I have not done enough, but comforted knowing that I have done all that I can. 

Life really is such an interesting roller coaster.  Sometimes it’s hard to stay ahead of the game!  I know that I have a tendency to fill my life up with so many things, much to many others’ dismay, but for the most part I feel good about what I do.  I still have nights like tonight where I can just sit and chill and hang out with myself.  I make time to read, my house is somewhat clean, I laugh often, and I consider myself generally happy.  I hope my friends and family know I will always do what I can to be there for them. 

So, here’s to a new year: 2008!  I have resolved not to make any resolutions, per say ,this year.  Instead I am just trying to live it up!  Here is a 5 + 2 to conclude this random blog of mine.

1. I got to spend the last five days with my wonderful friend, Trisha, in town from Michigan.

2. We went to Universal Studios yesterday (despite the rain) and got soaked!

3. I have had this day to sit, relax, read, and do not much of anything.

4. I have not had to work over the last three weeks and have definitely had an EXCELLENT break!

5. I have gotten caught up on many people’s blogs and added them to my blogroll.

And, two things I’m looking forward to:

1. My sister is coming back home in about a week!

2. Bible School starts on Tuesday night 🙂

Amusing Myself

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howard.jpgSo I woke up this morning and instantly thought about Howard.  Who is Howard, you might ask.  Well, let me start from the beginning.  When I say that I ‘woke up’, I am using this phrase very loosely.  Really I was just streaming back and forth between consciousness and a deep REM-type sleep.  I have a friend in town and it was light outside so both of us were getting kinda restless.  You know the sleep I speak of.  I was in the middle of some sort of weird dream.  The details escape me now, but I’m sure they’ll vaguely come back to me throughout the day or through some sort of deja vu experience.  Regardless, I woke up and instantly thought of Howard.

Howard was a man in my dream.  If memory serves correct, he had been in some sort of car accident that resulted in the rest of us driving being rerouted.  I am not sure who I was with, where I was going, or exactly where I was; but, at some point, I found myself on the side of the road with this man Howard.  We had some sort of meaningful or trivial conversation (I am leaning towards the latter), once again no details are being recalled, but I remember thinking: I need to blog about Howard.  He needs to be the person I write about today for the page in my blog about ‘The People I Meet’. 

As I reached a more stable level of consciousness, I remember asking myself if that would be weird.  Would it be weird if the second entry of 2008 was regarding a man that I had met in my dream.  The general consensus was yes.  Yes, that is weird.  No, he will not be the man that I meet today that is worthy of working towards my ‘meeting a new person everyday’ goal on my 101 list.  (Speaking of 101 lists, I cannot wait to see the movie The Bucket List which is based on a concept like the 101 list.  I am calling for an FCA reunion to watch this together).  Despite determining it was weird to write about him on my ‘People I Meet’ page, I apparently have not sat with myself long enough to talk myself out of blogging on him in general.  So there you go.  Meet Howard.

For those of you utterly confused, click on the thing in the upper right corner of this page that’s called soemthing like ‘The People I Meet’.  Things might make more sense.  No guarantees.