Monday, June 25, 2007

inner nerd wins equivalent of miss universe pageant

found out yesterday that an action research proposal that i developed was accepted!

action research is a form of research conducted by teachers with their own students in their own classrooms. it's a fantastic model that makes the research dynamic and immediately relevant.

since i was a kid i have always loved to conduct research, love coming up with a thesis and the whole process of being immersed in piles of books and sheets with highlighted headings and asterisks.

really developed a taste for it in university where i was a research assistant for one of my professors in the field of experimental psychology for a couple of years. loved reading the abstracts,helping come up with methodology and trying to parse out what was really contributing to the behaviours observed.

i have so many opportunities to develop and test theories in the day to day workings of my job that i almost feel guilty. it's an experimental psychologist's wet dream. there's no greater feeling than when the garbled features of a struggling students written work start to take shape and an underlying pattern reveals itself.

don't know why but a big part of the activities i pursue (music, writing, teaching) are connected to an urgency i have to leave something behind to live beyond me when i go. i want to be part feel like i have contributed something to the culture in which i've lived.

now do you see why i need a vacation? i'm one of those people who thinks all the time, whose analytical half of the brain never shuts off. that's why i was so excited to have the opportunity to bring the formal structure of research that i loved so much in my university life, back into my current classroom situation. always regretted having to close the door on that aspect of my education. gave it up because i felt that i needed to roll up my sleeves and do some field work to balance out my notion of what learning was and how the mind worked. instinctively knew that i needed to inform theory with practice.

given the fact that i am completely burnt out from my travails this year and am already stressed at the composition of the group of kids and parents that i'll have to contend with in september,the timing couldn't be better.

realize that these ramblings won't resonate with most of you but they are the thoughts that are kicking around my noggin in between attempts to prepare for my trip, my trip that seems surreal! more on that tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

if this post was a trendy t-shirt it would read: team mary jo

am horizontal on the couch, still feeling a little sorry for myself. did a second "lavage" of the nasal passages with my new new-age tool and am once again not feeling its glorious effects. instant gratification gal that i am, i'm really having to fight my sense of defeat and my desire to reread the box it came in for the k-tel insignia.

anyhoo, so i am watching one of the two channels that i get without cable (it's a long story, cut off my cable to reduce my tv habit and find i still watch just as much,only it's all crap) and a clip about mary jo eustace just came on.

mary jo is the ex-wife of the cretin named dean mc-dermott who left her, with a newborn, for skanky,plastic-ass,dumb as a post, tori spelling.

the mere fact that i have estrogen coursing through my veins is enough to make me cheer for her team but my allegiance to this woman scorned runs deeper.

mary jo is one half of a pair of kooky hosts of a one-step-up-from-cable canadian cooking show called "what's for dinner". i used to watch it in the afternoons in the summer. it's a fantastic show where bazillion foot tall, bossy mary jo bullies her pint sized open-like-elton gay sidekick ken kostick.

their banter is hilarious and the cooking is purely incidental. one of them always manages to miss an ingredient or skip a step and instructions for making their creations are flashed pointlessly on little graphic recipe cards as an afterthought.

i discovered the show years ago and watched it faithfully whenever i could. i never tired of her setting ken up to compliment her and tell her how fabulous she was nor of ken's self-effacing neuroticism. felt like i knew them.

when i first heard that dean had left her and her newly adopted (i think) baby for tori, i was stunned. in part because i liked her and hated to see her humiliated but mostly because he left her for tori spelling. how do you go from a down to earth woman with a wry sense of humour to a bratz barbie doll? they are two completely different types of women. how insulting to have your husband leave you to become a b-list kept husband.

as tragic as it must have felt at the time, it's gotta be sweet to see the fool do his lame-o version of a johnny depp gesture and get her ugly mug tatooed on his arm. when he's doing such a good job of embarassing himself...

i remember watching some festival schmooze thing at much music where tori and mary jo were at the same event. a drunken tori got on stage and started ranting about stupid ex-wives and a camera was simulcasting mary jo in a backstage room somewhere. it was brutal. so clear to see who the real problem was. really felt for her then.

turns out mary jo has written a book called "the other woman" detailing her breakup (which apparently took place in a ten minute conversation in a hotel room!). this ought to drive tori 'round the bend.

just might have to put it on my summer reading list.

Monday, June 18, 2007

whoa, netti!

two months worth of allergens in the air got together last night and decided to whoop my ass.

i woke up unable to breathe through one nostril and was sweating despite sleeping directly under a fan.

the familiar sore throat and tight sinuses told me that the bullet i had been miraculously dodging finally hit its mark.

sadly familiar with the discomfort i reached for my claritin (somewhat warily, i had a red and a blue box, both opened in my medicine cabinet and one of them gives me heart palpitations, which one? i had to ask myself at 6:34 this morning). tiny little pill dissolved, (i chose the blue, correctly, thank god!) i made a mental note to try and kick this thing's ass with whatever means possible.

enter the netti pot.

a few weeks ago my sister and i were watching an episode of Oprah with her new doctor friend and he recommended it as a tool to help relieve sinus tension related to allergies. it is a ceramic gnome sized watering can of sorts that you fill with warm water and salt and shove up your nostril.

that's right, you shove the spout of this pot into your nostril "creating a seal" according to the yoga inspired instructions, tilt your head "so that your forehead is in line with your chin" and wait for the solution to fill your nasal cavity, circulate and escape through the other nostril.

the idea of pouring a full cup of salted water into my nostril gave me visions of potential complications where a mishap in my specific circumstance would cause the water to remain in the cavity for the rest of my days, rattling and sloshing every time i tilted my head. nevertheless, visions of spending the first two weeks of my vacation in paris with a kleenex permanently daubing my red and bulbous- from overblowing- nose, led me to soldier on and make my way to the health food supplier on the corner.

typically, i try to avoid these places. the smell of bulk curry powder permeates everything and the dried fruit looks sad and pathetic. as an aesthetic creature, i appreciate the efforts of fake food producers whose aim it is to make a tomato look red carpet fabulous and appetizing.

as i made my way through rows of herbal remedies and homemade waxy lip balm, i was approached by a sales clerk who read my disconnect with the natural world like a tabloid at a checkout counter. he handed me my wonder pot and i was on my way.

i practise yoga occasionally as a way to come down from the day. i genuinely enjoy the opportunity to breathe deeply and have done the whole alternate nostril breathing thing in class. it was with reassurance then, that i read about the yogic connection of the use of the netti pot and its role in the purification of the body. "many choose to use the netti pot to flush the nasal cavity as a part of their daily practice" chimed the instructional guide. ok, if people do this every day then surely a trial run won't kill me, i thought.

as i bravely and confidently inserted the spout in my nostril, tilting my head like the smiling woman in the diagram, all went well, for awhile. after about ten seconds and a successful outpouring of fluid from my other nostril i must have tilted the pot too high because the solution was starting to pour into my throat, it was like swallowing ocean water, and i had a moment of feeling as though i were underwater.

still i was determined. i did the other nostril and felt relief of pressure from my sinuses. i've done it! i thought.

fast forward two hours. my nose is completely stuffed, i'm burning up and i can only breathe out of my mouth.

i want to cry. why now? doesn't my nose know that i have to compensate for a less than summer ready body with a sunny facial disposition and a phlegm free voice?

am going to give it another try tomorrow, and every day after that if it kills me.

guess this could be karma for criticizing those sportscasters, haven't seen lance brown in a couple of days...

wish me luck!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

visual feeding frenzy

have had a couple of fantastic movie going experiences in the past couple of days and wanted to share them.

i like a good short film as much as i like a good short story so i went to a screening of celebrity shorts at the worldwide short film festival. this particular showcase featured films that were directed by or starred celebrities.

john malcovich did a quickie which featured a spanish actor who dubs male lead voices in american films being dubbed by john malcovich. it was cute and made its point and ended, just like a film or sketch with a singular idea should!

jennifer aniston did a forgettable piece starring robin wright penn and kris kristofferson. it's not that the direction was bad it was that the story was nothing particularly novel (a nurse re evaluates her own marriage when dealing with a man whose wife is dying). there was a mocumentary which followed a personal assistant (rain *** from the hilarious series "the office") as he did a stint shadowing lance armstrong. it was like a good SNL sketch, great casting, great set design, and got out when gag had run its course.

the standout piece of all of the films featured maggie gyllenhaal and peter sarsgaard. like the moron i am, i've forgotten the exact title (but it had the word hill in it!). it was a weekend in the life of a couple who are drifting apart from one another somewhat and the male lead's best friend. the tension between the characters is incredible,as is their chemistry. the dialogue is at once familiar and fluid. the setting is gorgeous, the interior of the house is modern but inviting and the fire pit scene made me crave a marshmallow! like the dogme films that were popular a little while ago, it was not decorated with slick quickshots or ornamental musical underscoring. the focus was purely on the characters, just like i like it.

also rented an indie film called "puffy chair". it is fantastic! it was made by the duplass brothers. they are a hilarious team that make simple, realistic films with a simple narrative structure and improvisational performances from excellent actors. the premise for the film was hilarious and the fights between the couple are among the most realistic moments i have seen on screen. (be sure to go to the special features on the dvd and watch the short film squabble, a play on the word scrabble, which documents a couple's argument over a scrabble game). the actor who plays rhett is fantastic and despite his nasty beastlike beard i found myself crushing on him something serious.

love it when i come away from a movie going experience and find myself feeling as though i just went to a really good house party. love it when humour comes from tension and circumstance rather than kitsch.

be sure to send me your diamonds in the rough. am always on the lookout for a great new director or interesting point of view.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

i'm kinda tired so i'm just going to bitch about b list ex-sports guys on local news stations.

it should be illegal for ex-b list athletes to read the sports news on local television stations.

the worst is the anchorman on ctv news (his name escapes be, must have blocked it out mentally because the experience of listening to him is so scarring). from the moment he opens his mouth until he ends, it's nothing but a series of inside jokes and one liners (which he personally seems to find uproariously clever) strung together with his biased opinions and random clips, only some of which have anything to do with sports. it's completely incoherent and i find myself so distracted in my attempts to follow his line of thinking that the true focus, the athletes and the scores, are completely lost in translation. you know things are particularly sad when even his coanchors don't know how to respond. unsure of what to say when he pauses and grins in their direction they all smile awkwardly secretly wishing he would just have his mid life crisis in private.

the abysmal writing aside, no one seems to have taught these guys the who-knew-it-was-a-skill of reading and breathing at the same time. when mark kinney(? i'm guessing again, old guy, ex-leaf) from city tv goes through his spiel, i get anxious, my chest hurts as i hold my breath along with him in sympathy. half of the time i continue to watch until the end of the segment just to be sure that someone's around to witness a potential collapse!

don't get me wrong, some ex-pros are real class acts that have insightful things to say but please, for the love of god, let's just give air time to the ones who weren't out playing golf when they gave the seminar on how to talk like you've been doing it all your life.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

round and round we go

broke up with my ex a year ago today at a close friend's wedding.

364 days later i found myself at another wedding. single, wearing black instead of white and seafoam green, drunk and dancing up a storm instead of drunk and delaying the conversation that was inevitable.

i know that life is cyclical but this was weird.

it was like a time delayed, warped version of groundhog day where i got to symbolically overwrite my "this man at my side doesn't love me and we'll never make it to the next level" experience with a new one where i came out feeling that it was a turning point of sorts.

it's odd but even when i was trying on my dress in the store, i felt like i was stepping into a more invigorated self, one that was reconnecting with a spirit that has been on the shelf for longer than i'd like to admit.

sounds flaky and hokey but i have a weird spidey sense like ability to be aware of key "moments" as they are occuring rather than days or weeks later like most normal functioning people on the planet.

decked out in my finery i gave myself permission to drink like dionysis and allowed myself to enjoy the "love vibe" that was flowing in the room rather than be threatened by it.

god love a ritual. nothing like 'em to help you take stock of where you are in the world. needed to take part again instead of bearing witness.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

the puck stops here

it's game five of the stanley cup playoffs. the game has been on since 8 and i've only stopped to breathe between periods.

i love this game

hockey has got to be one of the most passionate pursuits a human can partake in (aside from singing, writing and sex). it requires an intense level of vigilance, flexibility, speed, instinct, tolerance for pain, singularity of vision.

think the fact that it's all on skates is the kicker. so much to be in control of as an athlete as it is and then to do it all while running across a sleek surface on blades of one inch steel!

being a bit of a girly girl i must admit that the manliness of the men who play the sport is a big part of the attraction to it. love a metrosexual when i want to unwind from my day and have my feet rubbed and my life's work validated, but there's something about seeing a pack of six foot, broadshouldered, able to grow a beard in a day, scarred from skating with a broken hand for two periods, men, that just does it for me.

love the way that, when interviewed, most can talk about three generations worth of players that inspired them both on the ice and off. love the history, the legacy, the admiration for their peers and their willingness to push themselves to their physical limits.

can barely type now. the ducks have just won and my heart is in my throat. teemu selanne has been playing for fifteen years and has won his first cup. the guys are all hugging one another, leaping for joy, grinning, teary-eyed. the ottawa players seem stricken. exhausted, defeated. aware that a trip to the playoffs sometimes comes only once in a career.

one of the only times where we see men publicly embrace, cry, show affection for one another, show vulnerability, when openly weep with disappointment. have watched every round of the playoffs so feel like i've taken the journey with them.

here i go again, scott neidermeyer just awarded the con smythe trophy. sporting a full beard and camera going to mom in the audience. am balling like a fool.

love the tradition. love that there are still things that mean something to us. love that hard work and endurance (unlike on survivor!) are rewarded.

has been an incredible series. could tell the players have enjoyed being well matched with true competition. love the way that every moment counted and that even when sticks were broken in the middle of a pass the play was completed.

pretty incredible,eh?

Monday, June 4, 2007

humble pie

i love the olympics. love to watch people push themselves to their limits. love to share in human triumph, watch the underdog have his day.

what i hate about the olympics is having some 17 year old prodigy demonstrate just how small my own victories seem in comparison.

had a humbling moment of olympic proportions tonight.

went to a ceremony to watch some of my students read some poetry that they had published as part of a citywide contest of sorts. as i made my way into the auditorium and caught a glimpse of the completed anthology and the way the room had been prepared to create a sense of ceremony, i got that sentimental lump in my throat, aware that this was going to be one of those evenings that will be a standout memory for them, one they'll define themselves by in some small way. i've been lucky enough to have a few such moments myself so i guess that was what i was connecting to. i was as excited for them as i would have been for myself.

because i was now emotionally invested in the whole affair (much like i am when watching a canadian team play in any international event) i was unprepared for the whopping piece of humble pie that the pint sized poets had been concocting under my nose.

about half way through the ceremony, i was totally enjoying the earnest verse with nuggets of inspired images when a young woman in jeans, a relaxed demeanour and a braid that was barely holding on to the bulk of its strands began to ramble off some of the most beautifully crafted phrases i have heard in years.

she had distilled each of the images until they resonated, connected them effortlessly in a fluid, unified form that pretty much blew away even my best work.

in a moment i was back in 1984, lying on my couch in the sticky heat watching a 14 year old get a gold medal in gymnastics. i was fully aware that i would never have talent like that. that my chance to be that girl had come and gone. not yet 16 and i understood, in a very real sense, that any gifts i may have willed myself to believe i possessed were destined to be charming and on a small scale impressive, but not awe-inspiring.

so this evening, when i was in the presence of true literary greatness i felt a bit defeated. i've really enjoyed my return to writing in the form of this blog, have found myself composing ideas in my quiet moments, playing with ways to capture the images that have accumulated throughout my day. love the process of writing so much and am so wrapped up in the content that i've confused it all feeling good with it actually being good to an impartial reader.

how hilarious is it that i went in thinking myself an experienced writer of sorts and came out dumb; silenced by the presence of true talent.

that fantasy novel i'm so confident i'll write has never seemed like more of a delusion.