Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I have to administer a survey to an English Language Learner. I don't have any students, so I had to think of a creative way to accomplish this task. I saw a good chance to get some family history. I called my dad.

"Dad," I asked, "Did you grow up in a bilingual household?"

"What do you mean?" he replied.

"Didn't your grandparents speak Portuguese at home?"

He admitted that they spoke some Portuguese to his parents, but not to him. I persisted nonetheless.

"Did you speak Portuguese with your parents?"







"Karen, I don't speak Portuguese."

"But you know the word for onion," I persisted.

"That's true," he replied, "Cebola. Cebola."


"I also heard some curse words growing up."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

GOING for it

Oh yes, I am giving myself an ambitious Independent Learning Project for my master's degree. I'm going straight to the meat of what interested me most last semester: psycholinguistics. Can Chomsky, Vygotsky, Krashen (aaaah, Krashen, I love you), and Cummins make us better language teachers? I think they can. When and how can we put their theories to best effect?

Other students are going to research how to encourage acculturation, differentiation between language learning needs and learning disabilities, issues of cultural identity, educational models for teaching English in other countries, successful bilingual schools, or how to help language learners pass The Test (whichever test it may be).

I've always been a freaking philosopher, though. I mean, I majored in Classical Civ because I really, really wanted to read Plato in Greek. (For the record: makes more sense in Greek than in translation. Classical Greek syntax does not do well in English. At all. What would Chomsky say about that, I wonder?)

UPDATE (nerd alert...though I suppose it's already too late for that): OMG, Stephen Krashen has a mailing list! I subscribed! So exciting!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Weekly Question

In honor of my recent job-quittin', please tell us about a time that you gave your notice.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New York City: Ground Zero

We visited Ground Zero when we went to NYC. We were there Sept. 12-14, so it seemed a fitting thing to do.

It's difficult to get there. The subway line still marked "World Trade Center" doesn't go that far anymore, but there's no one to explain that. After a few subway mishaps and loads of walking through an unseasonably hot, sticky afternoon, we arrived.

A block away from the site idiot protesters were loudly, obnoxiously demanding the Truth about 9/11. They had decided that Bush orchestrated the whole thing. Somehow their shouts seemed incongruous near a place of mourning, and disrespectful to the fire fighters who fell that day. Thankfully, no protesters or vendors are allowed at the site.

Not much construction has been done yet. Ground Zero looked like a scar to me, an absence. Although that somehow felt appropriate to me, G. felt miffed that the construction had gotten nowhere in the course of seven years.

Note the people in the foreground, living life like nothing huge ever happened here. I guess that's how it has to be, especially if you're going to live or work in NYC. It has been, after all, seven years, even if I just visited the site for the first time. I didn't notice this pair until I saw the photo on my computer.

What you can't see in this photograph is all the other pilgrims around me, behind me, like me climbing the stairs across from the site to get a better look, trying to make some sense of the horror of that ripped through that fine September morning. You can't see the little children running around, playing, oblivious to their stricken parents.

Here's the firehouse right next to the site. I mean, right next to it. They lost a lot of men that day.

The wall beside the fire station serves as a memorial for their fallen. There were so many people in the small alley, looking, remembering, that I did not get a front view.

Down by the fire station, one side of the WTC site is left open for viewing, no tarps over the fence. There was a crowd peering through the fence on this Saturday afternoon seven years later.

Plans for the future WTC are here. They were posted near the site, a little beacon of hope. I think they're beautiful.


I see why a mere 2 weeks' notice is standard. I'm not getting much done at work this week, and it's hard to care. I'm supposed to finish my current projects before I leave--that was the plan! my plan!--but I just don't give a crap.

Monday, September 22, 2008



I plan to give my notice at the publishing company today.

It is very strange. I thought I would feel elated and nervous when the day came. Instead, I feel like I don't believe it, and very calm. I wonder how I'll feel once I actually talk to my manager, and over the next month until my last day, October 30.

I wonder how anxious I might feel as I work out health care and banking over the next month, as I defer loans and cash a few matured savings bonds.

I'll be substitute teaching in a couple of towns and maybe freelancing on the side. I figure, pouring all my energy into publishing is not going to help me get into teaching. Substitute teaching will help me get into teaching.

And that is the story for today.

Friday, September 19, 2008

New York City: The Williamsburg Bridge

We walked across the Williamsburg Bridge on Saturday.

G. and The Sister gave me lots of looks for holding them up snapping photos. But who could resist the top of the bridge?

The view was nice, too.

Be sure to click on that last photo. A whole world opens up. A shining city.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New York City!

See this little guy?

He looks so cute and innocent, doesn't he?

He's my sister's kitten. She found him in the bad, scary streets outside the gang-infested school where she works. His mommy had abandoned the litter.

He's doing OK, though.

I suspect his mommy left him too soon, because he DID NOT LET ME SLEEP ALL WEEKEND. He really enjoyed nibbling on MY FACE as soon as I drifted off to sleep. I think he thought that I was his mommy, with magical nipples on my cheekbones and nose.

That would be disconcerting.

Nor did he want to let me read. He's a prodigy in the Feline Campaign Against Literacy. (That's right, cats. I know what you're doing.)

But he suuuure is CUTE.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Weekly Question

Remember when we used to do a Wednesday Writing Assignment at float? Ah yes, that was fun, but I quickly ran out of ideas.

A weekly question is easier, though.

Question: Do you have a tool or object that is like a trusted friend to you? What is it?

I'll also answer in the comments.

Monday, September 15, 2008

OMG. Brilliance.

In case you can't see the embedded video, click here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm gonna wake up in the city that doesn't sleep

Fare thee well, I am off to Brooklyn for the weekend! (with a side of Manhattan)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Good News

There are no student loans, The News told me. They have dried up. Bone dry. Drier than a Chenin Blanc. No loans. NO. LOANS.

It was with some trepidation, then, that I applied for financial aid. I just wanted a little under two grand a semester, enough to cover tuition so that I wouldn't burn through my savings or forgo every small luxury. Enough loan to breathe.

I checked my mail every day for the last three weeks, anxiously hoping for and simultaneously dreading a cream envelope with the navy Cambridge College insignia. I nervously logged on to my college email account and my college e-portfolio-thing looking for news.

Spit it out, kStyle.

OK! They gave me the maximum possible subsidized Stafford loan per semester! That's $8500 each semester. It's ridiculously more than I even need. Then they threw in an extra $500 in unsubsidized Stafford per semester, just in case.

Thank you, Uncle Sam.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mellow Mix

I'm having way too much fun with iTunes this weekend. In no particular order, here are the songs of my Mellow Mix:

Name Artist
Salala (Featuring Peter Gabriel) Angelique Kidjo featuring Peter Gabriel (Thanks, Larry!)
Aguas De Marco Bossacucanova
Space Oddity David Bowie
That's The Way Of The World Earth Wind & Fire
World Seems To Come And Go Holly Cole
Didjtal Vibrations Jamiroquai
What A Wonderful World Louis Armstrong
White Lexus Mike Doughty
Crumblin' Erb Outkast
Golden Lady Stevie Wonder
My Cherie Amour Stevie Wonder
Amber 311
Galileo Indigo Girls
Down on the river by the sugar plant Mike Doughty
True Dreams Of Wichita Soul Coughing
Flake Jack Johnson

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New Template

Blogger has a nice pink template! Have I told you my theory about pink? I swear to goodness that people are nicer to me when I wear pink. I think that Margaret Atwood mentions this theory in one of her novels, too.

She totally got that from me.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Employ Me! And, Your Music Suggestions Requested

I am striking out applying for school positions. I began, optimistically, by applying for full-time faculty and then broadened my scope to include "support staff" positions (ie, tutor, permanent substitute teacher). I have a few theories:

1. Education is even clubbier than other fields. You have to know someone. This is why it's useful to have my dad make calls, but he doesn't know anyone at most of the schools to which I've applied.

2. I may not know the "code" for education applications yet. Each field has certain keys to a successful resume, which may or may not apply to other fields. In publishing production departments, for example, the interview-worthy resume must list at least Office Suite, and preferably includes "Adobe Suite" and "dual platform" as well. We love phrases like "detail-oriented" and "within budget". Outsiders may not realize that the humble PowerPoint can make or break a resume. I suspect that there is a Magical Incantation for the Education Resume that I'm missing.

3. The economy is, shall we say, soft, which means less funding in the town budgets for school faculty and staff.

4. I won't apply for special ed jobs. I know, I just know, that I lack the particular flavor of patience needed to work in special education.


Onto a happier topic. I need workout tunes! Not fast, peppy cardio tunes, but slower, more deliberate weight lifting/calisthenics ones. Poor G. is going to lose his mind if I play any more Bowie. Here's my playlist thus far:

Damien Marley--Beautiful
Bob Marley--Jammin (too sweet for the tough business of weights)
Spoon--I Turn My Camera On*
The Dandy Warhols--We Used to Be Friends* (too played out)
Chromeo--Fancy Footwork
Gaudi--Ayahuasca Deep Fall
Stevie--Higher Ground (too slow, surprisingly)
Jamiroquai--Traveling without Moving, Alright (too dancey), and Virtual Insanity (too negative)
Beatles--Good Day Sunshine, Taxman (way too fast)
Weezer--Island in the Sun

MIA--assorted songs (don't know the titles. may all get deleted on account of being slightly irritating)

So, post me your recs!

*Yes, I bought the Veronica Mars soundtrack.

All this talk of the suddenly-famous Hockey Mom

...is reminding me of a fantastic quote from last season's 30 Rock. In the uproarious "MILF Island" episode, Jack Donaghy (fictitious NBC Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming) reports that new reality TV star Debora (pronounced de-BOR-ah) is a hit with all the major demographics:

"soccer moms, NASCAR dads, white-collar pervs, and the obese.”

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Raised by...

A dear friend who is a liberal but chose to stay home (mostly) and raise her kid pointed out that no one will play the "childcare" card with Palin, as they shouldn't, but who the heck is raising her (FIVE) kids (one of whom has Down's Syndrome) while she runs the state, runs for VP, and runs marathons?

I posed this question to my dear husband. He thought about it for a moment, and said, "Elks."

My head is full of stuffy

I'm home sick today. I have the sort of stuffed head that reduces reading comprehension, which is Just Not Safe in the publishing industry. I've worked feeling like this before. Inevitably, the fog inside causes me to do something dumb, which I then pay for in a couple of weeks. (Who make that edit? Oh...oh.)

I have an appointment to see the NP at 11:45, when we shall play the game, "Virus, infection, or ragweed?"

UPDATE: It's "just" allergies, but it turns out that I am Very, Very Allergic. The NP looked into my nose, ears, and mouth. She said that the lining of the nasal passages should be the same color as the lining of the mouth. Bright red tissue means infection, pale pink tissue with a film of fluid means allergies. My nasal tissue is white, not even a hint of pink, and covered with lots and lots of fluid. I am already taking Claritin every morning and Chlor-Trimeton every night, leaving just Flo-Nase to add to the arsenal. Grrreeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat