Monday, February 28, 2011

Educational Issues

As everyone does, we are all forced to look in the mirror and count our blessings. I know I have an abundance of them and often wonder what my world would be like had I been born into a different family or if my parents had made different choices. This is a time travel pondering that could extend past infinity, so usually a nice glass of wine puts to bed any wondering. Recently I began tutoring in Compton. If you ever wanted to appreciate the things you have go there. But if you would also like to be amazed at the difference a parent can make, go there.

One family in particular is entirely focused on helping their child. They do the best they can to keep her busy but also put in the effort when it comes to her education. You can even see it spill over into other areas as there is an aunt who is also working to expand her knowledge and better her circumstances. Press that back to back with the three families I have called repeatedly and will not set up a single tutoring appointment. This service is free to them in the hopes of helping the children succeed in school and the parents are blocking any growth from happening by simple apathy.

Couple that with what I am sure is a multi-million dollar business tutoring students, paid for by LA Unified and I am sick to my stomach. There is no accountability in this position. The program does give one on one attention but simply regurgitates the information already given in the classroom with the same worksheets. The entire training program consisted of teaching the tutors how to fill out the paperwork so the business can be properly reimbursed by the big pockets of the school district. When I have spoken to them about the families who do not get back to me, there is no care, no concern. There is no outreach to the school to see if there is another way to make the tutoring happen. Instead it is just move on. It makes me suspicious about the billing practices, but I have yet to investigate further.

How is it that an entire company can claim to help the process, be the company of choice by the district, yet not really work at developing any kind of improvement on the teaching practices. We all see commercials everyday for other learning centers. Places that focus on new techniques to help students really learn. But for the "free" kids who are being paid for by taxpayer money, the school system does not even attempt to make a change. How is throwing the same information out there in the same way supposed to garner any different results. I don't blame the teachers. I don't entirely blame the parents who don't understand how important this is. But I do blame the company that has a choice in how the information is presented. A company making a profit off taxpayers under the guise of helping students when the company obviously does not care a single bit what the outcome is.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Trouble with Planning

My husband and I are likely to always have the same battle about planning. I am a planner, he is the anti-planner. Usually fine, we can likely find a happy medium but then there are those times when I insist on putting something on the books. Whether it be a trip to a far off place or a simple outing in town it requires a date and a calendar. I find myself currently resenting the universe when I finally get the man to put a date in stone and instead we miss something that might have been "epic."

Now let me be clear, I do not in any way begrudge the circumstances, I instead resent having to hear how, "this is why it is better not to make plans." While yes, it is a little frustrating to miss something, we cannot walk through our entire lives never making plans and expect to accomplish the things we wish to accomplish. I am all about spontaneity and fun but sometimes you need to at least plan the how to get to the place with the spontaneity and fun. In addition I find it wildly annoying that we can put a concert on the books months in advance but a play might make him die.

The Foo Fighters were doing an underground, super secret tour of Los Angeles. The only way you found out about the shows was through Twitter. Now the need to be a grown up and schedule meetings prevented me from attending any of the shows. Working prevented Chris from attending any of the shows as well. We finally make it up to Mammoth to ski and snowboard which is perfectly awesome and fun only to find out we were missing the very last of these underground shows. This made Chris quite smug in thinking if we hadn't made the plans to go to Mammoth we would have been free to go to the show. All of a sudden all the fun we were having snowboarding didn't matter as much as the fact we were missing the concert. I of course had to get in my little jab about the fact I could have gone one night without him and didn't to which he stuck out his tongue. All in all no one was really disappointed, we had a great time I just have to deal with the kid inside my husband who says we could have had a "once in a lifetime experience."

I found myself only slightly redeemed when we did miss one outing because we had another commitment. At first I was dealing with a very whiny, the other thing would be more fun, 5-year-old. But after we had a great time at our adult dinner I found out we had missed the most horrible night out, one of those ones that proves nothing good happens out after midnight. Aside from the fact the sober people ended up babysitters for the oh so inebriated "children" of the group, there was an hour long session at Jack in the Box which ended in a food fight and one person having a broken hand. Sounds like our calm dinner was the saner option. In Chris's defense, I have fully bitten him with the snow bug again and we have many more trips to Mammoth on the books. Maybe the planning/anti-planning is working itself out.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Comfort TV

There are television shows, some past, some present that just make you happy. Whether it is because they strike some emotional chord, make you laugh, or remind you of who you originally watched them with, it is a comforting feeling kind of like slipping on your favorite fuzzy socks. Because of the nostalgic feelings I can watch such TV repeatedly. I must admit, I rarely fully pay attention again, but it is good background noise or the perfect way to lull me to sleep. The unfortunate part is it makes me read less than I should but also, my husband does not seem to feel the same type of pull to many of these programs.

I could blame the age difference, 8 years, or the gender difference, if there aren't blood and guts or fart jokes who wants to watch? But the reality of it has much more to do with the people. It hit me like a ton of bricks just the other day. You see, before my friend Carrie I was not really an appointment TV watcher. I know to all who know me now that sounds insane. I love my shows, the quippy characters, romantic tension, fun comments, sharp dialogue, I just love it. I was just one of those crazy people who could watch it in reruns. Then the Thursday night girls night began and it was all over for me.

The shows sparked debate, we lamented over the choices or bad dialogue or bad acting. We giggled and watched and drank wine and tried new recipes. It was a commitment to connect once a week doing something ordinary yet somehow we made it extraordinary. Even before boys, marriage, and kids, it became more and more difficult to single out a night to make this happen. Between work and other commitments it was so easy to start to miss our "day." Then you add a 3,000 mile difference and husbands and kids and you have an impossible mountain of space, a impassable chasm if you will.

The new spark of inspiration hit. This TV world, this Thursday night splendor, it was a phase. An important phase in growing up as a girl in the city, but something that was meant to pass. A moment in time to look on and remember fondly just like you reminisce when looking through photo albums. These shows served to bond us and bring out interesting conversations that might not have happened on their own. That's exactly why they feel so comfortable, so comforting. Just the same as you eventually stop riding bikes around the block because there are so many other places to ride, our worlds expand, change, and embrace new comforting traditions. I think the important thing is to find those traditions, take them in for a time, and let them evolve into the next memory.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm not Having Kids...It's Like Recycling

I accepted long before I got married people lack creativity when striking up conversation. This means no matter what milestone you hit they press to find out when you plan on hitting the next one. The obvious path for a relationship moves from couple to engagement to marriage to kids. The very moment you marry everyone asks, “when are you going to have kids?” Many couples have a predetermined answer for this as they expect the question the same way I do. I know they think but don’t speak, “give me a break, let us just be married for awhile,” but alas, others want a real answer. Press forward, keep paddling.
My husband and I had the obligatory conversation about children ultimately deciding it is not our thing. If you ever want to send a person into utter confusion as to what to say next, say you plan on NOT having kids. There’s nowhere to go with that. It’s actually a bit of fun to watch them struggle for a moment. But when they gather their wits the next obvious question hits you like a ton of bricks, “why not?” There are a plethora of reasons, some private some public as to why we decided not to have kids. Why does any person, especially one not in my inner circle think I should go through my entire life decision process with them? I find myself tempted to say something rude but that would not be fair, no need to insult them with a good, “why on Earth would you choose to saddle yourself with the financial and physical burden of children for the REST OF YOUR LIFE?” I, personally, am still wrapping my head around “forever” with my mate, a needy child sounds complicated. This answer irritates people.
I believe I stumbled across my new response to the question thanks to one of my favorite writers, David E. Kelley. Most people think of writers as the authors of books whereas in my world many of them create the visual accompaniment to my life via television. I am acutely aware of those who can write to my very mood and soul and Mr. Kelley has long done this with things like Ally McBeal, The Practice, and Boston Legal.
Currently he resurfaced to use his genius in a show entitled “Harry’s Law.” I found my inspiration. You see the greatest threat to the safety of our world and our resources is not global warming, the desecration of the rain forests or the massive use of plastic. The greatest threat to our precious Earth is over population. In the immortal words of David E. Kelley, “You can drive your Priuses, use your curly cue light bulbs, and recycle all you want, it still won’t save the planet. (sic) China’s one child law is actually the most progressive environmental law ever written." Nice! We all know when this law was in effect it was a disgrace as the people killed female babies. I would never condone such behavior but the rule of only having one child would really cut down on the growing population problem, we could actually decrease our numbers! If everyone accepted the child they had we could make a real difference, bigger than recycling. So I am doing my part, saving the planet by recycling and NOT having kids. Aren’t I environmentally golden!?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Life as an Assistant

As you walk through life you should learn from every experience you acquire. You build from each of these individual moments, creating a thorough base of knowledge with which to navigate and interpret the world around you. But what happens when you seem to forget some of the lessons learned from previous? When you forget to apply these hard learned (sometimes painful) experiences to your everyday life? Disappointment. Frustration. Smacking your head directly into the corner of the door jam and repeating to yourself over and over again, “never give away the original.”
I forgot to transition lessons from my life as an assistant to my newfound role as wife. Now it is fairly obvious that the same rules would apply. I had assisted both men and women in my days working the lower level of the production ladder so I understand it is not a gender thing. There is something about being a boss and having an assistant that makes you somewhat inept. I am not slamming any of the people I worked for, I think they just became dependent on someone else always having the answer or the paperwork. Turns out a husband relies on you the same way, I should have known that…it’s logic.
As we navigate the great shed collapse of 2011 I make the mistake of answering Chris’s cell phone. When assisting others you avoid answering any phone not ringing directly at your desk. Do not answer the boss’s cell phone because you are then responsible for whatever the person on the other end is going to request. It always ends badly as the person likely request something they know the boss won’t like and they play to your sensibility, what they request sounds logical but they leave out key information. It is the one phone you can legitimately not answer without being in trouble, so just let it lie. Mistake one.
I am now firmly planted in the center of the shed issue and trying to figure out what we should do about the warranty. I put on my best problem solver cap to come up with a plausible excuse as to why we cannot take pictures right away and the kind lady on the other end of the line seems amenable to my solution. Perfect, great, she gives me her email address to send the photos upon completion. Being the organized person I am, I write all of this information, warranty number, ticket number, phone number on the same sheet of paper. Keep it all in one place, right? ONLY IF YOU ARE PUTTING IT IN THE COMPUTER. Mistake number two.
The final, extremely large mistake comes as I hand the piece of paper to my husband. When I look back on the moment I hear myself saying the words, “This ia all the information so put it someplace safe. Are you sure you don’t want me to keep it?” This is met with a large eye roll and an indignant, “I am organized,” response. I do not claim to be a good filer, I am not. I make piles, but I can always tell you EXACTLY what lies in each pile and can find what I set down. Chris loves everything put away. Trouble being he has no idea where he put it away.
I reluctantly hand over the piece of paper, as my brain says, no screams, “Write the email address down! Put it in your Entourage!” Did I listen? What do you think? Now we have the photos and after a full dissection of Chris’s desk we still don’t have the email address to send them to. We also lack the phone number to call and the warranty information and the ticket number. NEVER GIVE AWAY THE ORIGINAL. It’s Assisting 101. I can only hang my head in shame and know this is my fault, without a call log or a copy you get screwed every time. Never answer the cell phone and ALWAYS keep a copy.