Friday, November 30, 2007

"Broadway is dark tonight. A little bit weaker than you used to be. Broadway is dark tonight..." ~the goo goo dolls

Broadway is definitely NOT dark now, and I'm thrilled about it.

Nic and I are going so show-crazy it's ridiculous. We're making up for lost time during the strike. Check out this schedule:

Thursday: The Lion King
Friday: Rock 'N' Roll
Saturday matinee: Trumpery
Saturday evening: Is He Dead?
Sunday: August: Osage County

That's FIVE shows in FOUR days. And I'm only paying for one of those (my $25 Rock 'N' Roll ticket). We'll also see The Seafarer on Tuesday or Wednesday, so it'll be 6 shows within a week (for a grand total of $25). Pretty crazy. I'm very lucky.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Hope dangles on a string like slow spinning redemption, winding in and winding out, the shine of which has caught my eye. And roped me in, so mesmerizing, so hypnotizing, I am captivated. I am vindicated, I am selfish, I am wrong. I am right, I swear I'm right, I swear I knew it all along. And I am flawed, but I am cleaning up so well. I am seeing in me now the things you swore you saw yourself." ~dashboard confessional

I loooove that song. They played it at the concert I went to a couple of weeks ago and as I keep listening to my recording of the concert (which turned out really, really well), I'll play that song over and over. The lyrics are great.

My life has been insane lately, I haven't had any time or energy to write. There have been both good and bad insane things. I now feel like unloading, so get ready for a long post. I'm going to start with the bad and end with the good, because I like to end on a happy note.

The bad things:
1. On Friday night (I was at home with my family), actually I guess it was early Saturday morning (around 2:00am), my dog had a seizure. I can't tell you how much Josie means to me. We've had her for 14 years and she's a part of our family. I love her to death. Luckily most of us were still up and hadn't gone to bed yet. I was upstairs but heard her barking/squealing/making strange noises and ran downstairs. She lost control of her bowels, was drooling, and shaking uncontrollably. It was one of the scariest things I've ever seen. I'm crying right now as I'm typing just thinking about it. My dad told me to stay away from her, thinking she could have rabies and might bite me or something, but I ended up just holding her, not caring about getting her poop and drool on me. It finally stopped and she seemed scared. She was hyper and couldn't stop running around the house, stopping occasionally to jump on someone. We called the emergency vet number and my mom and I drove her to the animal hospital. So around 2:30am on Saturday morning I found myself sitting in the backseat of my car, crying as I held Josie as close to me as possible (of course she struggled the whole time). She stayed at the animal hospital that night, and she had another seizure while she was there on Saturday so she had to stay the next night as well. She came home on Sunday night, after I had already left to go back to NYC. They don't know exactly what's wrong with her. Worst case scenario, it could be brain cancer or a brain tumor. There's not really anything they can do to find out. She's on some kind of medication right now (I'm not sure what it does; I think it's like codeine). My parents say she's doing okay, but I'm still terrified. I can't lose her. I would be devastated. She means so much to me. I know she's old (14), but she still seems like she has a lot of life left in her. So that really shook me up.

2. I was observed this week at school. That's a serious thing. The principal can either give you an S (satisfactory) or U (unsatisfactory), and if you get a U you're in serious trouble. You have to meet with the principal ahead of time to discuss your lesson plan, which we did on Tuesday, and mine needed some changes. On Tuesday night I spent 6 hours working on it. 6 Hours for a 90-minute lesson. How crazy is that? And that was just 6 hours of revising what I already had done. Total it was like 10 hours. So I was very stressed this week because of that. I didn't sleep at all last night. I was observed today and luckily I got an S.

The good things:
1. I can now relax a little bit (nerves-wise, not work-wise; I still have tons of planning to do) because I have my S.

2. I got to spend lots of time with my family last week. Thanksgiving was fantastic, as usual. My aunt and uncle's new apartment is beautiful, and we all managed to fit into it rather nicely. We had lots of family staying with us over the weekend and I loved seeing them.

3. There was a free run-through of the Broadway play The Homecoming on Sunday night. Because of the strike (which just ended!), they couldn't begin previews when they were supposed to and they wanted to perform in front of an audience. It was their first time doing it in front of people, and they performed it at a small off-broadway theater because they couldn't use their own. Raul Esparza joked that apparently the setting of The Homecoming is now Cuba (because the set for Celia was up). Despite those obstacles, they did a good job. It's a bizarre play, though. I think it's one of Harold Pinter's most controversial. The actors, although they still need some time to become accustomed to their roles, gave strong performances for the most part. Ian McShane was particularly hilarious. I adore Raul Esparza, I think he's one of the strongest (if not the strongest) musical theater actors working today, but he seemed nervous and he needs to work on his accent. Eve Best was wonderful. Anyway, it was a great evening of theater and I was very glad to be able to go. They collected money for BC/EFA, a wonderful organization that's been suffering because of the strike, which was very smart and kind of them.

4. On Monday night I went to a free advance screening of The Savages. Go see it. Now. Seriously. It's wonderful. Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman give Oscar-worthy performances (I'd really love to see Laura Linney win an Oscar; she deserved to win for You Can Count on Me). The Savages is brilliantly written, directed, and acted. It's funny and sad and hopeful and touching. I really expect and hope to see it do well when awards season rolls around. My great-aunt has dementia, and my mom keeps joking that she should take her to see it. I don't think she would understand the connection to her at all, because she doesn't realize she has a problem.

5. The Broadway strike is over!!! Nic and I are going to see Rock 'N' Roll on Friday and I can't wait. I was supposed to see it last week but of course it was canceled because of the strike. We're also seeing one or two other plays this weekend (she has comps).

That's all for now. I think. I need to start planning lessons for tomorrow.

I'll leave you with my baby:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

ETA: Just got a call from Nic, now I'm going to see The Lion King on Broadway for free tonight! The comps are rolling in for Nic right now. Never mind that I have no lesson plans completed for tomorrow. I'm not crazy about The Lion King, but I'm not one to pass up a free show. And I think I know the kid who's playing Simba. Ah, the perks of living in New York. And having a best friend who works in theatre.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"As we lie in the shade of poison trees, are we as safe as we let ourselves believe?" ~dashboard confessional

After school yesterday I got to stick around for five hours of parent-teacher conferences. Five hours. That was fun (can you sense my sarcasm?). When I finally got home after 9:00pm I just collapsed on my bed. It was an exhausting day. I did have a nice dinner with some other teachers, though. We went to a Dominican restaurant near the school. Victoria and I had cheeseburgers and fries (for $4!); we were surprised and relieved to find that on the menu at a Dominican restaurant. We've both tried Dominican food a few times, and although some of it's good, we haven't entirely warmed to it yet. Today was a crazy day. My students assumed that they were on vacation already and were even wilder than usual.

I am soooo glad that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It's definitely towards the top of my list of favorite holidays. Every year a bunch of my family members (sometimes up to 50 of us) cram into my aunt and uncle's Manhattan apartment. I can't wait to see everyone. It's crowded and busy and noisy and chaotic and absolutely wonderful. They just moved less than a month ago from the UES to Chelsea, and I know they've been working insanely hard to get settled in time to host Thanksgiving. They've hosted it for as long as I've been alive, so they're not going to stop now. Their new apartment is really nice, too, and bigger than their old one. This year I'm excited because I'll have a really easy commute; I just have to take the 1 train downtown. My parents are driving in and I'll ride home with them. My great-aunt, my grandparents, and my uncle and his family (who live in Maine) are all staying at my family's house this weekend, and my brother and I will both be home, so our house will be full (there will be 12 of us). It's like an extra-long Thanksgiving. I love my family, so I'm thrilled that I'll get to spend time with them. I do have work to do, but I'm trying not to think about that. I'm afraid I'll be going crazy Sunday night trying to get everything ready for school next week.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Friday, November 16, 2007

"You have stolen my heart." ~dashboard confessional

I'm very lucky; I've been to some really, really amazing concerts. Wednesday night was another one to add to my list of indescribably amazing nights. Nicole and I went to the Dashboard Confessional concert. It was absolutely fantastic. It was the last show of the tour, and Chris was really on fire. It was at the Blender Theatre, where I got to see Counting Crows a few weeks ago. It's a great, intimate venue. I was in the second row and had a perfect spot. Augustana was one of the opening bands and they were good. I have their album and I like it. It seemed like most of the crowd only knew the words to "Boston," though. Heh.
Dashboard was superb. Chris played all of my favorite songs, and it was a good crowd. There were lots of sing-alongs; it's always fun when the performer lets the crowd get involved. Adam Duritz was at the show, in the crowd during the main set. During the encore he came onstage and sang "So Long, So Long" with Chris (they sing it on the album version together). It killed me. I loooove that song, and their voices are just so beautiful together. They also did "Angels of the Silences" and "Rain King" together (some members of Augustana came back onstage and joined them for "Rain King"). It was so incredibly cool. I hoped Adam would show up because I know he's good friends with Chris, but I never would have expected him to sing two Counting Crows songs along with the Dashboard song. And Adam's spot onstage was directly in front of me, which made it especially exciting. I took some videos, and I'll post them next week (I can't upload them on my Mac). I also recorded audio of the entire show; let me know if you want a copy. It's definitely my best recording so far; I'm really happy with it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Fear of the dark, fear of the dark, I have constant fear that something's always near. Fear of the dark, fear of the dark, I have a phobia that someone's always there." ~iron maiden

I went to the premiere of the movie The Mist tonight, thanks to my awesome friend Christin. Wow. I'm having trouble condensing my thoughts, but I'll do my best to get them out. First of all, some background info: it's based on a Stephen King novella. It was adapted for the screen and directed by Frank Darabont, the same guy who made The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Obviously the guy's an expert at making movies based on Stephen King books. He introduced the movie, which was very cool. Bob Weinstein also spoke. I saw Stephen King there, which was pretty freakin' awesome. I couldn't believe I was sitting in the same theater as Stephen King, watching a movie that began in his head. The premiere was at the Ziegfeld Theatre, which is a beautiful theatre with a fantastic history. The movie features a very strong ensemble cast, including Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden, Toby Jones, Laurie Holden, and Thomas Jane. Marcia Gay Harden is awesome. Seriously. She has the best lines in the movie and kills with them. She plays a crazy religious fanatic and does an amazing job at it. All the performances were great. I thought the film was beautifully shot. It was made in six weeks, which is very impressive. The premise is totally unrealistic, and there wasn't nearly enough explanation to make it believable, but I guess you're expected to suspend reality while watching or reading a Stephen King creation. It's gross and scary and very disgusting at times, but it's also funny. Of course the theatre was full (mostly with people who helped make the movie), and the crowd really got into it. There was "eeewwwww"ing and "oooohhhhh"ing and screaming and gasping and laughing and clapping and cheering. It was fun to be surrounded by other excited viewers. I have to talk about the ending (don't worry, I won't spoil it). It's one of those endings that knocks you over. My jaw dropped. People walked out of the theatre saying things like, "Wow," and "Holy crap," and "I don't believe it." I love endings that shock. I thought that it might end that way but then I kept telling myself they wouldn't actually do that, but they sure did. And it had people talking. which is great. Here's a good review of the film. It claims the movie features "the ballsiest ending in horror cinema." The reviewer also says, "Darabont expands on King’s ambiguous finale and delivers an emotional gut punch so shocking it’s a wonder it ever escaped through the studio system." I love controversy.
Overall, despite the grossness and the unbelievability, it was a good, very well-made film. If you like horror movies, this is definitely not one to miss. And even if you don't like horror movies, you might give this one a shot.
ETA: Trailer:

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"This is the hardest story that I've ever told, no hope or love or glory, happy endings gone for ever more. I feel as if I'm wasting, and I've wasted every day." ~mika

That's another example of how Josh Schwartz puts the most amazing music ever on his TV shows (earlier this week it was Chuck). That song was on Gossip Girl a couple of weeks ago and it's been in my head ever since. It's so freakin' beautiful it makes me want to cry. Seriously. Josh Schwartz=genius.

Tonight I'm going to another screening of Juno. There are a bunch of screenings in NYC this month and I'll probably keep going back because I love the movie so damn much.

Tomorrow night I'm seeing Cyrano de Bergerac on Broadway, and I can't wait. Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner are in it and are supposedly fabulous (especially Mr. Kline). I'll report back after I see it. For an expert opinion, here's the New York Times review. Ben Brantley liked it. Actually, all of the critics pretty much loved it.
Young Frankenstein officially opens tomorrow, so I'm anxiously awaiting the reviews. I hope it gets panned. I'm such a terrible person. I really didn't like it, though.
"Fading everything to black and blue. You look a lot like you'd shatter in the blink of an eye, but you keep sailing right on through." ~counting crows

I have a new computer! My poor old Mac, which I've had for almost five years, was on its last leg. Half of the display was broken off from the keyboard, so the screen would randomly go black (at the most inopportune times), forcing me to restart. There were other issues as well. I really needed a new one. My parents were going to get me one for Christmas, so they agreed to give it to me early. I just picked it up today. It's name is Marty and it's beautiful. It's a MacBook Pro, and it came with Leopard!

AD's most recent blog entry is really good. He talks about going to Jerusalem when he was fifteen and searching for God (and himself). He sure is long-winded, but he's also absolutely brilliant. He should write a book or something. This entry is really long, like many of his entries, but it's totally worth the read. Have I mentioned that I want to marry him??

Monday, November 05, 2007

"Sometimes it all looks so familiar, and sometimes it's just so fuckin' strange. Can't you hear me? 'Cause I'm screaming, and I did not go outside yesterday. Don't wake me, please don't wake me 'cause I was dreaming, and I might just stay inside again today. Yeah, I don't go out much these days. Sometimes I stay inside all day." ~counting crows

They sang those alternate lyrics to Perfect Blue Buildings at the concert I went to a couple of weeks ago. It was the best version of that song I've ever heard; it was freakin' awesome. I had tears in my eyes at the concert and I tear up when I listen to the recording (which is all the time). AD just gets so emotional at the end that it's impossible not to feel anything.

I had another fight in my classroom today. And this time it was worse, complete with blood and tears. A really big 14-year-old in my class fought a really tiny 10-year-old. The little one was C; I've written about him before. He's the class clown and a troublemaker and he makes me want to pull my hair out most days, but I love him. He can be really sweet and adorable. The big kid threw him around and hit him and C was fighting back but couldn't do any damage because he's so much smaller. I couldn't stop them so I stood in the doorway and yelled for the dean. When the fight was broken up, I looked at C and my heart broke. He stood there looking back at me with his huge puppy eyes filled with tears as he tried (and failed) to stop himself from crying. It's my job to keep my kids safe and I failed him. I know it took the two of them to fight, and I know C wasn't blameless, but I still feel awful about it. It started so quickly, though, and I don't think there was anything I could have done to prevent it. It was at the end of the day when they were getting ready to go home and I was dealing with some of the other crazies who were misbehaving. And of course it had to happen on the day that I got four new students in my class. Their parents are going to ask them how they like their new class, and I know the first thing they're going to say is something like, "There was a fight and a kid got beat up and he was bleeding and crying...." I really don't need parents thinking I'm incompetent.

Tomorrow the kids have off and the teachers have professional development. Another teacher and I were trying to decide which we'd prefer, having to teach and deal with the kids or sit in PD all day. I'm still not sure; it's a toss-up.

I'm watching Chuck and I love it when stuff like this happens! They just played a really long clip of Oasis's "Don't Look Back in Anger." I've had that song stuck in my head for a week, although I have no idea why (I haven't heard it in forever up until just now when it played on Chuck). I love that song. And it's like I had it in my head in anticipation of hearing it on Chuck. Josh Schwartz is freakin' awesome at making shows with great music (The O.C., Gossip Girl, and Chuck, his three shows, all stand out because of it).

Friday, November 02, 2007

"This love won't let me go. So long, angel of Harlem. Angel of Harlem. She says it's heart, heart and soul..." ~u2

I'll be Bono's Angel of Harlem any day. I love living in Harlem. I love walking out of my apartment and being able to see the Hudson River. I love walking up and down Broadway or Amsterdam and just people-watching. There are some pretty interesting people up here.

Lately I've been thinking about my life. And I'm fairly happy with it right now. One of my best friends from New Zealand recently wrote on my facebook wall, "I was happy to see some photos, you're not the same!" That was especially interesting to me because it seems to imply more than a change in appearance. It made me think, because I'm not aware of being very different from who I was then. But maybe I am. I'm immersed in a culture that's completely foreign to me, and I think it's changing me. I'm a minority at work and in the neighborhood where I live. I'm learning about people who are so incredibly different from me, but whom I am starting to understand better. The kids I teach are worlds away from who I was when I was their age. They curse like nobody's business. They throw around the N word like stereotypical valley girls throw around the word 'like.' I seriously hear it about 50 times a day. They even call me the N word. Here's an exchange from Friday:
A student speaking to me: Yo, you gotta be playin', my n****r!
Me: Excuse me, what did you call me?
Student: Um....Ms. B.
Me: That's what I thought.
That's a common exchange. The language they use was astounding to me at first. Now I'm used to it. The art teacher, who's a young, very liberal, very artistic guy tried to talk to one girl about using the N word. Here's an excerpt of their conversation:
Mr. F.: D, have you heard the Civil Rights Movement?
D (looking at him like he's absolutely insane): Um...NO.
Mr. F: Well, it was here in America and a bunch of people of color stood up for their rights and tried to stop other people from discriminating against them and from calling them offensive names like that word that you use all the time.
It went in one ear and out the other. The kids are just following the example of the people around them, though. They really don't know any better. And they don't like school. They don't see it as important. They're just about the exact opposite of who I was at their age.
I'm getting 5 new kids next week. I'm afraid it will be difficult to integrate them into our class smoothly. We'll see how it goes.

This weekend two of my friends from high school, Kim and Betsy, came to stay with me. We had a good time. I'm not much of a partyer, but Kim is, so she dragged us out on Friday and Saturday nights. On Friday we went to The Joshua Tree, a fun bar where they play 80's videos all night, and XII. We didn't get back to my apartment until about 5:00am. Then on Saturday night we went to Prohibition, which I really liked (they had a great band) and 420, which wasn't so great (I wasn't crazy about the music and was exhausted by the time we got there). I was glad to gain an extra hour because of Daylight Savings. On Saturday afternoon we went to see a free screening of the movie Bella, which was very good. It won the Toronto Film Festival. Afterwards, the executive producer and Manny Perez, one of the stars, spoke and answered questions. It's about Latinos living in NYC, and the producer and actor talked about how there are hardly any Latino characters in movies and TV who can be looked up to as role models (they're usually the bad guys, the pimps, the gangsters, etc.). This movie was great because it showed them in a more realistic light; it's the kind of movie that my students and other Latino teens need to see.