Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Kid and Loud Music

I married a Punker.  To be more specific, I married someone into Hardcore.  Hardcore evolved in the late 70's from the Punk scene.  It's loud, heavy music with vocals that aren't usually very melodic, more like yelling and screaming.  The lyrics are often about things that need to change in our society.  They don't tend to be emo or gentle.  I have been immersed in this scene since we started dating when I was 17.  Some of the bands I love, some I hate, some I am ambivalent toward.  We definitely have our own preferences, but he has introduced me to some incredible bands.  I have been to hundreds of shows (concerts).  Literally.  Between all the bands he was in, the two I was in with him, and all our friends' bands, plus all the other bands he had to see, my boots have paid their dues on the hard cement floors of various clubs, garages, parks and huge stadiums. 

When our son was about 3, I walked into the living room where the ultra loud, screaming band System of a Down was cranked up and our little guy was banging his head.  We couldn't be more proud.  J attended his first show at about 3 weeks old.  (We stayed in the lobby the whole time while E's band played.  Friends and family took turns hanging out with us.)  As a toddler, we introduced him to ear plugs.  He didn't dig them, but he hated loud sounds even more. 

Trust me, he had more fun than he appears.
For Christmas, E's Secret Santa (thanks, bro) got him 3 tickets to see Madball (a hardcore band from NY) and Comeback Kid (a band I LOVE from Canada) as well 3 other sets.  It was for a Thursday night.  E was supposed to be out of town working, but he fixed his schedule so he wouldn't miss it.  Jake was on the fence about going.  He didn't want to get "killed" in the pit.  (The mosh pit is where people thrash around.)  We assured him we would keep him safe.  Once I let loose the secret that I would be ditching work (ahem, "taking a personal day"),  the next day and he could too, he was all for it.  Yesterday was the big day.  They met up with me at my job and after taking an unexpected detour home to get the forgotten tickets, we cruised down to Ocean Beach, SD to get our buddy B.  We ate some serious BBQ at Phil's (if you are in San Diego, you've gotta try it.  Insane food!) and then headed over to the show.  Soma is a club in the Point Loma area.  It is big, has two stages and the decor leaves a lot to desire.  Well, they host metal and hardcore shows.  What can you expect?  At least there was toilet paper for most of the night.  The first band sucked, the second band was better than expected, the third band was one E loved but I couldn't care less.  The fourth band was Comeback Kid.  Yes.  I had given up my t-shirt to Jake.  How I obtained a size small Comeback Kid shirt was beyond me, but it fit him a lot better than it did me.  Besides, I had my eye on the long-sleeved T (that I happen to be wearing as I write this).  I was determined to get up close to the stage.  There wasn't a barrier to hold the crowd back, or any bouncer standing up front, arms folded,  to keep people from running up on the stage and jumping back into/onto the crowd.  The mosh pit was behind us and we stayed a bit to the side, so we could keep an eye on everyone around us.  I do hate a boot to the head or to be knocked over without warning.  B and E stood in front of us to block the people from stomping us.  I had one arm around J and the other ready to push anyone who got too close.  It was invigorating.  About 2 songs in, a body came flying right at us.  I had a couple of split-second thoughts simultaneously.  First, I had to get J out of the way so he wouldn't get clocked.  As I pulled him backwards, I thought that it was the singer and I felt bad that I wasn't going to be able to help break his fall.  I was wrong, it wasn't the singer and there were others ready to catch him.  I just grinned, heart pounding, and stayed back a little more with my son. 

Next thing you know, the biggest bouncer I have ever seen, pushed past us to deal with someone unruly in the crowd.  His t-shirt said "Soma" but later J thought that he mistook the name and applied for a job as "Sumo".  I felt better knowing he was there, watching over all of us.  The crowd was happy to be there and I didn't see any violence.  No fights broke out.  J didn't get "killed".  We got some new t-shirts and headed home, happy to sleep in on our stolen ditch day. 

Again, the kid is having fun, even though you can't tell from the pics.  :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

When I was 10 years old, I was having a really hard time with asthma and it was decided that I would live in a group home for asthmatics for a few months.  I saw it as a grand adventure and did indeed have a pretty interesting time there.  I learned some independence and life skills that shaped who I am today.  The first night, however, as I got ready to climb into my little bed in the dorm, I felt very strange.  I was in an unfamiliar bed, in a huge room with lots of other girls, getting ready to go to a new school and I didn't know a soul.  I put my hands under my pillow and found my mom had left me a surprise.  A book.  The Witch of Blackbird Pond.  She had written me a sweet message inside and I still have the book.  It filled me with a sense of being hugged by my mom who was about an hour away at that point. 

The book itself was wonderful.  I have reread it many, many times.  Kit Tyler grew up on a plantation in Barbados but when her wealthy grandfather dies, she is sent to live with her Aunt and Uncle in Puritan Massachusetts.  What a culture shock for this free spirit who loved to swim.  When she jumps into the harbor to rescue a doll, she raises the suspicion of the locals.  Only witches swim.  Her colorful clothing is deemed inappropriate.  Bright colors are for devil worshippers.  She befriends Hannah, the local outcast.  Hannah is a Quaker who does not attend the local meetings.  She lives alone, except for a black cat.  When troubles befall the town, sickness and crop failure, all eyes and fingers point to the suspected witches.  It is a beautiful, heartbreaking book.  I am happy to say the ending is a good one. 

When I am working in my middle school library, I like to read the books around me, so I can keep my finger on the pulse and better recommend books to my students.  I also must confess that the easy reading and surprising plots make the books a pleasure.  The Bronze Bow caught my eye a few weeks ago.  Normally it isn't one I'd pick up, but when I saw it was by Elizabeth George Speare, the author who had penned The Witch of Blackbird Pond, my interest level rose.  The book was just as easy to fall into as the first one.  Winner of the 1962 Newbery Award, The Bronze Bow is the story of Daniel, a Jewish boy living in Nazareth during the time when the Romans had taken over the town.  His parents were killed by the Romans and Daniel flees to the hills to live with the rebels who are preparing to overthrow their enemies.  He leaves behind his elderly grandmother and his sister, who has been so traumatized by the event that she never leaves the house.  After a few years as a fugitive in the hills, Daniel's adventures bring him back into the town.  Jesus has made his appearance and all are wondering if this is the man who will lead the uprising against the Romans.  Not overly pushy about religion, the book describes the hope and change of attitude Jesus causes in the local people.  The book was great.  I broke one of my own rules and brought the book home to finish it.  I generally keep my reading separate, but I couldn't let the weekend go without knowing what was to transpire.

After the story was a biography on Speare, who lived from 1908-1994.  She didn't begin writing until her children were grown and wrote only four books, all geared toward the upper-elementary audience. All four books were honored with awards.  I can see why.  The plots and especially the characters grip you like few historical novels can.  I searched my library shelves and found The Sign of the Beaver which she had written in 1983.  Set in the untamed Maine wilderness, 12-year-old Matt has been left to look over their recently built homestead while his father goes to bring the rest of the family to join them.  Matt survives a bee attack and is loosely looked after by the local Indian chief and his grandson.  In exchange for teaching the grandson how to read the "White Man marks", the grandson Attain starts showing Matt better ways to survive.  I love books about the settlers and once again had to bring the book home to finish it, not wanting to wait until today to find out the ending.  Would Matt's family eventually return or would he leave the homestead to winter with the Indians?  Great books, all of them, and I will recommend them to my students and son.  Thanks for listening.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Just One of Those Days

I don't have a lot of patience today.  I stayed up until midnight both last night and the one before, trudging through an online driving course, repentance for a ticket I got last July while zipping down a hill in my Aunt's fun convertible.  I got the test done in time, just barely, but being sleep deprived makes me cranky. 

As we were getting ready for school this morning, I mentioned to our son that "today felt like a good day to play hooky."  My son needed an explanation.  After he understood the concept, he fully agreed.  We persevered, however, and got out of the house with minutes to spare. 

My morning routine at school is arrive around 8, turn on the lights and computers in the library, start the water for my herbal tea, visit the restroom and grab a cup of coffee from the counselor's office.  (Yes, I have coffee and tea and also have a bottle of water at the ready.  I am high maintenance, but self-sufficient.  :)  )

I got to work this morning and heard a lot of kids' voices from inside the library.  Oh oh.  I don't schedule any classes until after 8 and it wasn't yet even 2 minutes after.  I walked in the unlocked door and found about 8 students, sitting in the semi-darkness, logged onto our slow computers.  They were overflow from the computer lab down the hall.   Great.  Just great. 

One of the students is a TA (teacher's aide) of mine and since she was the "expert" in the place and didn't feel it was inappropriate for them to stay with no adult present, they stayed.  I wasn't so happy to see them.  Immediately I was inundated with requests and complaints about the slow computers.  I wasn't ready to hear any of it.  I set my stuff down and gathered my cool.  Next thing you know, about 5 more students show up to get a library book.  My circulation computer wasn't even on yet.  Come on, guys!  Then the phone rang.  The office secretary wants to know if I am in so she can send some students over.  Sure!  Why not?!?

You remember that face Calvin gets in that famous comic strip when things aren't going his way?  Usually there's a discontented shimmer hanging over his head as well.  I had all that going on.  Next thing I know, one of the more "pesky" of the students is rummaging in the little kitchenette and found my chocolate rice crispy treat.  He got it from me with both barrels.  My tactic with middle-school students is to embarrass them into doing what I want.  I asked him in front of the crowd if it was appropriate for him to be going through my things.  How would he feel if I came over to his house and went through his cabinets?  Sheesh.  I went even further, pointing out to him (and everyone else)  that his class had been in the day before and when they left, my one-and-only soup spoon was missing and a bite had been taken out of my apple.  (Interestingly enough, when I went to heat up my lunch later today, my spoon was found in the microwave where it had DEFINITELY not been before.  I guess my tirade paid off.)

So.  Things eventually settled down and I was able to go to the restroom and make my tea.  Instinct had told me earlier in the day that I wouldn't be getting coffee from the counseling office, so I had stopped into 7-11 and had a lovely, tall, sweet cup to sip off of all day long.  The day brightened and flew by. 

After work, I met up with the notary in a local parking lot so she could witness me taking my driving school test and put her official stamp on it.  In the store, bamboo wind-chimes were on sale for half price.  There are some family birthdays coming up, so I picked up three.  I hung them in the back of the truck and had fun driving with a little more gas at take-off and stopping a tiny bit more forcefully than usual, just to hear them express themselves.  It put a smile on my face.  After getting J from school, we got some take-out.  I snapped a pretty sunset picture with my camera phone.  It was on a very busy street above the local Fresh and Easy store, but I was able to angle it up enough so that the beauty could show through. 

The day's not over yet.  Gotta straighten the house and pay some bills, get the kid into the shower and into bed.  That's ok.  My lounge clothes are on and my shoes are off.  My belly is content with greek chicken salad.  All is well in my world.