Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Short and lame.

This is a really short post and rather lame one, in my mind. First, I have lost 5 more pounds on top of the size I had lost earlier. Yea! Also, I am super tired lately. I don't know if this is since I bike nearly 7 miles in less than 30 minutes, according to my workout bike at the gym, or what. I just had a super sneezing fit. I may be getting whatever latest child related illness is going around. Otherwise, I am so happy I could burst. This is due to the spring weather, season, my recent readings, art, and life in general. I finally am loving me and the skin I'm in. This may seem dorky but it is true. I just love love. I miss so many of you and want to see you soon but overall, I know everything is in its right place to quote Radiohead. I love you!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Busy with not much to say

I've been working a lot lately. I had two days of teaching art for one school, a fifth grade one day, and finally the class with my friend the student teacher ending the week on Friday. I also have been feeling rather uninteresting or lacking in things to say...which I know isn't true.

For instance, the art lessons I did totally rocked! I actually got to talk about the Surrealists and what they did with kids! They even learned Andre Breton's name! The lesson was a short mini-art history spiel on the Surrealists, a demo of automatic drawing or scribble drawing (First draw without lifting your pencil off the page, using lots of shapes and lines. Then outline line in black, finally color in with either watercolors, colored pencils, really whatever.) And the thing is that this school has K-6 grades, so all ages were exposed to this. I found that the 1st graders and the 6th graders really liked it a lot.

Another fun sub story. The 5th grade class I subbed in I had been in once before. They are really great kids, lots of character and their teacher has in place a system of "behavior bucks." I always try to pay them as much as possible since I think he is a little hard on them. Anyways, the schedule is on the board and next to the slot where an assembly was, I had written "$15-20." I figured that I would inspire good assembly behavior with some "bbucks" as they are known. Well, the day got started and in the chaos I forgot to mention it right away, so after announcements, a student asked about the schedule. "Oh, right...well we have 2 math lessons to try to finish and later there is an assembly where I will pay good audience members 20 dollars," I announce. The class is totally silent. They are looking at me really strangely. No one says anything until finally one brave soul raises his hand. "You mean you're going to pay us? Like real money?" "OH NO NO NO! I mean 20 behavior bucks!" They look a little disappointed but continue on. For the record, nearly everyone was excellent during the assembly. Who knows what they would have done if I was handing out real money?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

From "Magpie 2: The Whimsical Issue"

If there was one man that I would think of as summing up whimsical, it would have to be my hero, Andy Warhol.
Andy Warhol came from Pittsburgh and went on to become one of the most famous artists, as well as icons, of the entire world. He was an odd character who challenged a lot of people's ideas about what an artist should be like or what a celebrity should do. I am here to shed a little light on the elusive man and also to sing many of his praises. Here are some facts.
1. No one is entirely sure of when he was born. A fantastic storyteller, Andy claimed one date as his birthday, while others searched for the exact date on his birth certificate. However, the birth certificate has been disputed, being claimed as a forgery from his parents' during their trip over from Czechoslovakia in 1912.
2. Andy got his new last name, Warhol, when he submitted some drawings for a magazine and they accidentally cut off the last "A" of his name: Warhola.
3. He often had a friend pose as him in public wearing a wig and glasses and just not saying a lot.
4. He went to church every Sunday of his life until he died, never did any sort of drug, and lived with his mother.
5. Andy wrote to several celebrities when he was young. He had to stay home in bed due to St. Vitus Dance, a disease.
6. When he met David Bowie, the length of their conversation was as follows: "I like your shoes." "Thanks."
7. Although he would become one of the wealthiest individuals in America, Mr. Warhol never carried any money and recorded his spending habits everyday.
8. He referred to his tape recorder as his "wife."
9. His mother often signed his work.
10. Andy Warhol thought of himself as a business or commercial artist first and foremost.
This crazy platinum wig wearing man is quite possibly the most fascinating creatures of modern life. Not only did he get his start in the art world by drawing cats and shoes but he made everyday products like Coke and Brillo soap seem like da Vinci's "Last Supper." (Which he did a remake of.) Andy was painfully shy and hated the attention he got. In interviews, he would ask the reporter to tell him what to say. (Ironically, Warhol founded "Interview" magazine.) His studio, the Factory, was a constant party scene crammed with people. However, he felt that "all [those] people aren't trying to hang out with him but rather he is trying to hang out with them.
Andy Warhol died in 1987 due to surgery complications.
"If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, there I am. There's nothing behind it." --Andy Warhol.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My ego, surprises, and stereotypes.

I've been feeling very ineffective as a teacher this week.

I worked three days so far and each day became increasingly difficult. As much as I tried to enter into the classroom open minded, flexible, and calm, I found that I felt really stupid. The book I'm reading would say that that is just my ego talking and wanting to feel important. That the real Hillary is limitless and infinite. But could that Hillary sub for me, ego Girl, one day?
As a sub, I have a big bag of tricks. Tricks to get every one's attention, tricks to make Math more interactive, tricks to get the room super clean. I call these "tricks" since "skills" implies consistent success. Tricks can fall short, which this week they did. I hate to yell, I hate to have a "no-talking classroom" but that was what I was reduced to more often than not. It isn't the students' fault, it isn't really even totally mine. It just is.

I will admit that there were proud moments. Yesterday, in a first grade, I remembered what it is to feel something small is very important. Brandon and Eric had had a fight over something and Brandon was crying. It was in the middle of a math game, where everyone was crazy, and I had been losing patience. But then, I stopped. I took a breath and thought, "I am Brandon, sometimes." So I called him over. He was crawling on the floor and kept his head just below a desktop. Instead of saying, "Stand up! Brandon!" I lowered my head to meet his eyes and said, "What's upsetting you? How can I help?" To the rest of us, the problem would've seemed minor and trivial. But in this moment, it was tearing apart two friends. We talked, and then walked over to Eric and smoothed things over. The boys ended up playing the math game together. And for a small moment, I, ego and all, felt good.

The other thing I realized this week was how much I compare situations to either music or movies. I was in a fifth grade class of about fourteen students that I had been in before. This is a school that is in the middle of a small town. Everyone has known everyone for 100 years. And this fact makes children very mean to one another. Normally, I enjoy this group immensely, they make me laugh and we have fun. But this day, they were the rudest people on earth. Pestering one another, making fun of hats, or what position someone played in baseball. (All boys, of course.) This is when I enforced the "no-talking classroom." They had a bunch of worksheets (yuck, I wanted to make the work a bit more fun.) and the students ended up working in silence because they couldn't be decent to each other. As I sat there, with my mean substitute face on, I thought about how I was like the principal in "The Breakfast Club." And really I was an outsider who didn't understand the politics of the school at all. I had even started stereotyping the class before this. "Oh this one is the diva, he's the jock, he's the charming funny one..." I thought. And while I'm not happy I did this, at least I recognized it in the moment and was able to stop. And once I stopped, we had a better time. We even ended up going outside!

I have to change the first sentence of this blog. I've been ineffective as a teacher this week but I've been a very willing student. This job never ceases to amaze me. I'm always wondering, "Who is the real teacher?"

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm OBSESSED with this album.

"Now, ready to capitalize on such promise, Fiasco has returned with his second offering, Lupe Fiasco's The Cool. A largely conceptual tour-de-force, the album's title is inspired by a standout track from Fiasco's debut, a hustler-turned-zombie epic also called "The Cool." This time around, Fiasco introduces three new characters - Michael Young History (The Cool before his death), The Game (a male personification of a hustler's damaging influences), and The Streets (a female embodiment of an urban area's corrupt allure). The potent sense of thematic execution comes across perfectly on "The Coolest," a highlight of Lupe Fiasco's The Cool that serves as a prelude to the earlier track, "The Cool." Detailing Michael Young History's fall from glory to tragedy at the hands of his lover, The Streets, Fiasco employs his unique brand of imagery: "If the rain stops and everything's dry / She would cry so I could drink the tears from her eye." Elsewhere, Fiasco strays away from his characters to comment on his own rise to fame, an issue that clearly causes discomfort. Look no further than the first single, "Superstar," produced by Fiasco's closest collaborator, Soundtrakk, and beaming with poignant unease: "A fresh, cool young Lu / Trying to cash his microphone check, 2, 1, 2 / Wanna believe my own hype, but it's too untrue / The world brought me to my knees, what have you brung you?"Primarily produced by Soundtrakk, and also featuring contributions from a diverse array of atypical instrumentalists (including Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump), Lupe Fiasco's The Cool is evidence that Fiasco is anything but average. Rather than follow up a monumental '06 year - capped by his three Grammy nods, four BET Hip Hop Award nominations, and recognition as GQ's "Breakout Man of the Year," amongst other accolades - with an obvious attempt to further crossover, the young wordsmith has crafted a dense, dark, and atmospheric examination of life's pleasures. Whether negative or positive, what people consider to be "cool" ultimately dominates their every move, and Fiasco is completely aware of this. In hip-hop's popularity contest, Lupe Fiasco is the observer, a thinking man brave enough to dictate the acute thoughts that his peers ignore. Now, that is cool." 10/07
--From http://www.lupefiasco.com/

Sunday, March 9, 2008

In progress...

I was looking through some old issues of "Magpie," the printed version of this blog done years ago, and I've found some pieces of writing that I will be posting here soon. In other news, this is something I'm working on...inspired by Joseph Cornell's work and needing some additions. I had painted the weird wispy thing years ago and just left this sitting. Then today I added the images, saved from books and magazines, with mod podge. I feel it needs some more color or else an effect that makes the piece look like one of Cornell's boxes...

Friday, March 7, 2008

About the changes...

I felt with spring approaching and all the lightness I feel inside, the blog needed some sprucing up. However, the color on my computer is off...red looks like black and so forth, so if it is really bad, let me know. I'm going to try to view it on another computer soon. Thanks, the molting magpie.

Persephone is coming home.

I am so excited about so many things right now, that I just can't stand it. Fate, the universe, God, Allah, whatever you want to call it has been setting up beautiful things lately and I've been enjoying life! An abbreviated list of my bliss:
*made a new fabulous friend with the student teacher I was watching. We have a ton in common and it is great.
*have more work lined up than I know what to do with! I'm wanted! Hopefully, this means more money saved!
*interviewed for a long term sub job, did not get it, did not want it since it wasn't right for me but am going to be "the art lady" for two days at this school. I get to pick my own lessons, have materials provided, and basically roam around like a gypsy teaching art!
*my yoga class is awesome. I sleep like a little stretched out baby afterwords and feel so lucky to have a body that can do these things.
*some difficult parts of my life have ended.
*my good friend Radiate Warmth added this blog to his page! Awesome! Now I have to step it up a notch!
*I found all these terrific books the other day and am reading like a fiend. Some are mentioned in the ING post. I'm very close to getting a Holga camera. That would be my 4th camera. I told a friend the other day, "I have 3 cameras, 70 paintbrushes, and no cell phone." That's my idea of modern technology.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Alpha dog H!

So I'm still subbing at this school where the student teacher is in total control and I sit in the back and read or do whatever. (Word to the wise, even if you are in this position, don't buy two new magazines on a Friday cause you'll jinx yourself and end up covering a 1st grade class.) And while this gig is pretty relaxing and I'm able to kinda hang back and observe, I'm starting to get cabin fever. Especially when it comes to management.
These kids tend to put the teacher through the wringer in terms of noise and it takes so much restraint not to start in on them or try to handle the chaos. At one point today, a boy was standing on his desk jumping. I had to bite my tongue and my hand.
Now, of course, I am there to see to it that no one ends up in the hospital or delegate if an emergency occurs. But overall, I am to not overstep my boundaries. I hated when teachers did this to me as a student teacher (still hate it as a sub) and am not about to intentionally become something I abhor.
However, this sensation of wanting control is fascinating. I know that I like to be in charge and even have a difficult time when there is another teacher sharing power, but I never thought of myself as controlling. I aspire to some sort of Buddhist/hippie notion of letting go and live and let live but I cannot seem to do it in the classroom. Do I subconsciously use teaching as means of creating order in my chaotic life? Do I feel powerless deep down? Could I just be the re-incarnation of Napoleon? Have I read too much Orwell?

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Here's what I'm "ing."

"On photography" by Susan Sontag
"Don't Get Taught Art This Way!" by Theodore L. Shaw
"Holga: The world through a plastic lens"

Lupe Fiasco's latest album
Chris Brown's "Exclusive"
Talib Kweli and Hi Tek's "Reflection Eternal"
INXS "Greatest Hits"
Duran Duran "Greatest"

mixed medium paintings, these are in progress and will be put up here when done
too much noise according to my brother
lots of plans for March with friends

a torch for Vincent D'onofrio and Jay-Z
a red patent leather bag
my camera, everywhere
a small Andy Warhol notebook to keep track of spending and what I eat

new spring clothes courtesy of the Gap and Target and Anne Taylor Loft
my hair down
cheap shoes according to my mother

"about my doorbell, when ya gonna ring it, when ya gonna ring it?" --Jack White
about photography and why did I get a C in it during college?
about spring and rebirth

less and more healthily than ever
string cheese at least once a day

tea, tea, and lots of water

"Rosemary and Thyme"--a British mystery series featuring two gardeners. It is brilliant!
"Amelie"--for the billionth time
"X-files"--I'm going to buy the complete series someday.

my crazy beautiful wonderful life
my friends and family
this moment