Thursday, November 18, 2010

Inferences about Chicago

Our Broadway babies have been listening to the "Chicago" soundtrack in the van lately. It is very inappropriate for small children, so of course they love it. Currently Claudia begs for "All that Jazz" and "The Cell Block Tango".

The tango song is a lively tune where the six merry murderesses of the Cook County Jail explain how they (justifiably) murdered their husbands or lovers: shooting for popping his gum (so understandable!), poisoning with arsenic, stabbing with a knife while carving up chicken for dinner... (Actually, I believe that guy ran into her knife TEN TIMES. So that must have been an accident.)

While the song was playing on our car ride last week, Fran shook his head disapprovingly and piped up from the third row, "Those ladies are being really mean to their mens." (I love his use of "mens.")

Other mothers would think, "Wow, I should really not let them listen to this," or "Hmm...this is inappropriate for my children, " or perhaps, "Wow. I should stop the music. Now." My only reaction was excitement and joy that he is developing his ability to infer. After all, the song indicated that these reactions were necessary and justified, and Fran questioned that. He was thinking and reasoning about what was unsaid. Bravo.

But personally, I think those guys did have it coming...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Harry Potter Manifesto

Yesterday was the first day I have ever had where I hated Ann Arbor. In six years, this was the only day where I hated-hated-hated Ann Arbor. Yesterday, if I realized that if I lived in another town, I could be happy. Yesterday, I had to reconcile that I hated the very town-- and many of its ticket-holding inhabitants-- in which I lived.

Yesterday I was unable to get Harry Potter tickets for Friday night at a normal time. I am old, so I can't go to late movie at 10:45 since I will simply pay the ticket price for a nap at that hour; I can't stay awake after 10 pm! I cannot go to an early movie at 3:00pm since the school will get mad if I do not pick-up my first grader at 3:42.

Last night I smugly tried ordering tickets from my computer. I thought to myself how tricky it was to get movie tickets when we lived in New York City and how we had to order ahead with movie phone. How civilized it felt living in Michigan, with its plentiful movie tickets and unplanful patrons. And sometimes, it snows so much no one can even get to the movies. I chuckled and clicked.

Click. Click. I kept getting error messages. The first theater had a 7:30 show. Sold out. A 10:45 show. Too late. And sold out. They still had IMAX shows, but I have astigmatism and it gives me a headache. The second theater was sold out at 5,6, and 8. There was still a 9;30. I could do that- I hit click and send and it was sold out, too. I kept clicking and checking- no normal times were available on Friday evening.

At first, I blamed myself. How could I have left this to the last minute? What was I thinking? How irresponsible. I was filled with shame. But this shame soon turned to rage. I soon realized this wasn't my fault. I started clicking other towns. Tickets were still available in Jackson, and Brighton. Plymouth, Canton, and Novi, but these involved 20 minute car rides- each way. Unthinkable. It was only a problem in Ann Arbor.

And then I realized it wasn't my fault at all. It was my town. And now I was filled with hate for this town. This stupid town, with its students taking my movie seats. This stupid town with its unending love and devotion to the best story ever written about boy wizards in the last fifteen years. This god-forsaken place with its planful movie patrons. It sickened me to live here.

I then received a message from friends. They thought we could secure 7 pm IMAX tickets. I told them to act quickly. Seriously- stop *working* and get the tickets! (Jobs come and go- this is Harry Potter!) I took a deep breath and looked outside. It was sunny with blue skies. Ann Arbor does has beautiful mornings. I could do IMAX.

The IMAX tickets were sold out. The blue sky and clouds were mocking me. I had reconciled. I was flexible. I was going to pack some Advil on Friday and be a good sport at the IMAX. I sunk to the true depths of despair.

All morning I sat chained to my computer, sharing messages about ticket times and the limited options available. This wretched, wretched town had stolen my evening, my morning, and my innocence.

I am pleased to inform you that I am now ticketed- with friends- at 7:30 pm for Harry Potter. On Sunday. Sunday. I have to wait until Sunday and find a babysitter.

Oh, Ann Arbor and its smug, planful movie patrons.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reading Rut

Sometimes I get in a reading rut. I can't find anything I want to read. I end up watching TV or surfing the web, aimlessly, instead of reading. Usually when I am in a rut, it means I am stressed about something else. Often it will take me a while to figure out what's really wrong; sometimes it is something I can fix, and sometimes it's not.

It's funny that I find myself in a rut, because as a classroom teacher, I do a lot of teaching about having strategies to maintain a reading life such as having books on deck, revisiting favorites, reading fluff, reading a challenge, revisiting a genre, borrowing a book, getting a recommendation, getting something new, hooking into a genre/author/series, and knowing when to abandon a book.

So recently, I applied these strategies to my own "on deck" list.
Books that have stopped my reading rut or are on deck:
(Rereading a favorite) The Phantom Tollbooth
(Borrowing- now that this is almost overdue at the library, it interests me) Parenting, Inc.
(Revisiting a genre/ Mystery) And Then There Were None
(Recommendation- Thanks, Susan Adamson!) Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
(Rereading a favorite, Hooking into a series) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
(Reading a Challenge- will need tissues and emotional reserves. This has been on deck for a while.) Ten Thousand Splendid Suns

I think rereading children's novels could count as fluff, but since I am a teacher, it can also be considered professional reading. So keep reading-- because you are what you read! I truly believe that by maintaining our own personal relationship with books (even fluff), we are better able to reach both others and ourselves.