Little Red’s First Joke

March 31, 2006

Knock knock.


Letter To My Son

March 30, 2006

Dear Little Red,

you tried to wake up early this morning, but I was able to get us to nap on the couch until a more reasonable time. You played well this morning, but you did have your grouchy moments. I wasn’t sure if you’re feeling the same sore throat I am, or if you were tired.

I guess you were tired.

But please, sweetie, the next time you decide to nap for two hours, could you please let me know in advance? I’ve wasted the whole time thinking, “whatever I start I won’t be able to finish because he’ll be up any minute now.”

I could have napped with you.

Love,
Mummy


Ponderous

March 30, 2006

From an intellectual standpoint I consider it a piece of Jeopardy trivia that the underside of the refrigerator is also magnetic. It’s an interesting fact.

However, he who designed the refrigerators in such a way is no friend of mine. I’ve lost the alphabet again today.


This Land is Your Land?

March 29, 2006

On Saturday, after a day of student protests across Los Angeles, 500,000 people swarmed the city in protest of pending immigration legislation. I respect the right to a peaceful protest.

But I have a hard time respecting idiots.

In LA they waved their Mexican flags and chanted “Mexico, Mexico.” The last time I checked we are north of the border. I’m not saying that immigrants should renounce their heritage, but how would people feel if all I said all day long was “Canada, Canada?” There is a balance between being true to your homeland and being patriotic for the new land you have embraced. And when you’re protesting the US government it would do you well to show that you have some affinity for the United States.

Many of the homemade signs contained the word “Amnestia“. Since the induction of the first offering of amnesty by the US in 1986 the US has given in and provided several other amnesty programs. Wiping the slate clean for those individuals has given hope to so many more and illegal immigration has gone up dramatically since then. Before the protests you could argue that the influx of illegal immigration was only coincidental to the amnesty acts, after this weekend it was pretty clear.

A lot of the kids that were protesting (especially those who left school on Monday and Tuesday to do so) had no idea why they were protesting. Unable to form complete sentences, most of them were just there to get out of class. On Monday they walked to City Hall and sat on the lawn, channeling protestors of previous generations. Mayor Villaraigosa spoke to them; he was tactful and concise. But every time he mentioned school and education they booed him. On Tuesday they walked across the freeways. I’m so in awe of their idiocy that I have no snide comment. Finally today the police are enforcing truancy laws and taking the kids back to school where the teachers are hoping to have discussions about the protests and maybe get a civics lesson in.

Many posters claimed that “America is Immigration”. Yes, LEGAL immigration.

But my favourite protestor was the man who, on camera, said, “this is just wrong. This is anti-immigration. George Washington was an immigrant.” I was sure my eyes and ears had both deceived me but the local news showed the same clip later that day. Yes, indeed, this man’s argument was that George Washington, the epitome of Americans and the one to whom we look for so much, who was born in Virginia, and who founded the United States was an immigrant to the United States.

(And the legislation is not anti-immigration, it’s just reminding us that illegal immigration is exactly that: illegal.)

Idiots aside, this is a big issue, and there are tough calls. There are parents who came here illegally but whose young children are natural-born American citizens. If the current legislation goes into effect and mass deportations do indeed happen, we would deport the parents and leave babies to fend for themselves. (But then, does anyone really see the government rounding up all the illegals and shipping them off? Does anyone see a mother leaving her baby behind just so that he can stay in the US?)

I know a lot of people who are here illegally. Do I love them as people? Yes. But I do not support the means by which they arrived here, and I shudder to think of the lessons that these children are learning from their parents: it’s okay to break the law. It’s okay to not follow the rules. We’re different. We’re special. The rules are for everyone else. We want to live in America because of these opportunities, so we’re going to do it the easy way (–don’t argue with me on this, many of those stories are way easier than my immigration story! It’s not all about paying a coyote to get you to the desert, a lot of people come in on vacation and never leave.) It’s okay if it’s not the way the US government wants us to do it. And it’s okay that we won’t have papers: we can still get jobs, and if we get sick we can still get help.

The government and the population in general has allowed this to get out of hand. Our economy is reliant on undocumented workers. Many other countries encourage mass emigration; President Fox all but pays the way for Mexicans to cross into the US, poo-pooing our concerns and begging President Bush to grant amnesty and guest worker programs that lead to citizenship since Bush was first elected.

It’s a real problem. I’m sure that living in a country that historically decimates it’s population and suppresses the people is a horrible life. I would want to leave, too. But if you respect America as a place of hope, then please respect its laws and go through the appropriate channels. And if you are the consummate patriot who chants “Mexico, Mexico,” then maybe you should use your activism to improve the land you really love.

As someone who painfully jumped through every hoop required on the long road to Legal Permanent Residency, I am personally offended by every illegal immigrant in the country. All 10 million of you.


Weekly Anamnesis #16

March 29, 2006

Amendment

For the fifth time in a week I woke up in a cold sweat: I was breathless, I was anxious, I was truly terrified. I didn’t dream of zombies in my closet or an alien invasion -no, those didn’t scare me- I dreamt, once again, that I had developed crippling arthritis in my hands. My fingers were gnarled and curled in unnatural ways. The pain wasn’t my concern, my concern was that I’d never play again. I was a couple of months away from graduating high school and the only thing that interested me, the only thing that I felt prepared to do as an adult, was uncertain. I had no depth to my life, I had no other talents or hobbies.

On my first day of school in grade eleven our choir director asked us to raise our hands if he’d one day see us on tv or read about us in the paper — who was going to be famous? Impulsively I raised my hand and told him I’d be a concert pianist, though I had never before entertained the idea of fame and I knew I didn’t have what it took to make performance a career. But piano was my life, and would be after high school. (incidentally, she was in my grade and these kids were just a year younger than me so it was not just first day of school fodder when he asked us.)

The day before my RCM piano exam I received my rejection letter from the University of Victoria School of Music. I had already made living arrangements and had my next four years already figured out. The only thing hinging on my love affair with music education was the acceptance letter I would never receive. My mother encouraged me to study humanities, or something else that would interest me, and try to get into the music program later, as I was still accepted to the university. I wouldn’t have it. If I wasn’t one of the 12 that would be accepted that year then I would buckle down and make it next year, I would devote my year to saving money and practicing piano. It was the only school to which I had applied, it was the only school I thought I wanted to attend.

In the piano studio of my professor at Ricks I fumbled through an audition for scholarship for the music program at BYUH. From the minute the audition began I knew that I was not on the same page as the visiting professor, and I knew that the direction of his program was not on the same planet as what I wanted to do. Yet when the ordeal was over I was sad, stuck, confused. I knew I was going to that school, I knew my future belonged with Paul who’d be there in a couple of months, but why was the music connection so obviously wrong?

On a less emotionally what-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life day Paul innocently asked me, “what ever happened to teaching?”

And finally I paid attention to the signs and I realized that I had to amend my lifeplan. While I had always idly said I’d teach, I wasn’t doing what I needed to do to get there. I had reached a level of proficiency that I knew that piano could always be a part of my life and it was time to move on.

After all, I need to be able to do something when I get my crippling arthritis.

Weekly Anamnesis is a cyber writing project hosted by Natalie. Details on this project are here.


Weekly Anamnesis #15

March 24, 2006

Weekly Anamnesis now has it’s own site! Check it out to read everyone’s contributions and to get the rules of the project.

Congratulations

Wanda called me without any warning and asked me to come in for an interview — apparently a counselor in the school district in which I was subbing thought I’d be an asset to the Autism Center. I knew little about autism but was a licensed teacher with no full-time job and eager to expand my portfolio of experiences.

I often wonder if I should never have taken that job.

It was a very small school, renting unused space at the back of a local church. The regular students were prepubescent boys who came to our school after the public school districts could no longer control these children. (Why did they hold on to those boys whom they could not adequately educate for so long? That’s simple: they received money from the state.) They came from broken homes whose dysfunction would have existed without the autism but was probably exacerbated by the situation.

Maybe with early intervention these boys would have been better off, but the reality was most of these parents didn’t really understand autism, weren’t willing to put in their own efforts to support what we were doing, and still lived in denial. They sent the boys to us because they thought we could cure them.

My biggest problem while employed there was the parents. They were inconsistent, they were easy to anger, they didn’t understand their sons and they didn’t respect us. (And I suspect that if tested some of those parents may have shown up on the autism spectrum, too.)

My husband’s biggest problem while I was employed there was the students. At ten and eleven years old and still non-verbal they resorted to violence as a form of expression. Sure, we were trained in how to properly restrain a child who is lashing out, but usually he could get in a good shot before we could act.

Jacob was a biter. When out on our walks and it was time to turn around and come home, he bit. If we walked past Corrections and the inmates banged on the bars –a noise which hardly even registered with the adults– it would get him so agitated that he bit one of us. And sometimes there was no reason for the bites: he once gave me a hug one day and bit my cheek.

Caleb was worse than Jacob. He was older, he was less functional, his mother was more in denial and more inconsistent, his parents were going through a messy divorce. He was also bigger and stronger. He punched, and since his nails were always long he scooped skin. (His father, who was at least outwardly more kind to us, saw a new wound on my skin one day and apologized immediately: it was, and he knew it, his son’s calling card.)

Every day when I came home from work my husband asked me who had done what to me today. Every day when I went to my other job as a waitress and as I dressed for church I made sure I had a long-sleeved shirt to avoid prying eyes and the obvious questions. My husband was concerned for my safety, I was concerned that people would think badly of him!

After only a couple of months of my immersion education of autism I noticed a change in my perception of babies. As my friends would announce the births of their children and show them off like trophies I stood back, jaded.

Sure, that child was beautiful, perfect, smart, now, but it would be a year and a half –at least– before developmental problems would present themselves.

I congratulated them, of course. I bought cute things for the showers, I listened to the mother’s stories.

But in my mind I could only think, “what if this child is autistic? What if he/she is severely so?” I evaluated how capable the parents would be of dealing with the situation and getting early intervention. And though I never expressed my feelings to my friends, I looked at every child as hell waiting to happen.


Femme Fatale

March 24, 2006

She started her infamous career quietly, an intelligent girl from a repressive, backward village. She escaped in her adolescence, but couldn’t shake off her bitterness. Finally able to educate herself and make her mark in the world, she would use the arbitrary cruelty that had been inflicted on her childhood as a hallmark of her work; with a faceless demon as her aggressor she lashed out against the faceless masses.

She took to computers with such instinct that her peers stood back in awe. She was truly gifted. As she rose in status she secretly mastered her hacking skills. She was so skilled and so clean that her evil plots were never traced to her.

But she had lived so long in oblivion that her taste for fame overcame her desire for legitimate approval.

The other night my friend’s computer was possessed by a force more powerful than logic. Files spontaneously dissappeared and broke every known law of Windows. It was a devastating blow as the most precious things were those that vanished — baby photos. We combed through every file, program, and folder on the computer to no avail. Obviously there was surveillance -or worse- at play that day. And suddenly, hours later, the files appeared, intact, in the exact folder in which we had each looked multiple times.

Within hours my own computer was hit. The exact events were different, but the outcome was almost as frustrating. This time, however, she had left her calling card.

Everytime I wanted to comment, I had to sign her name.

Smenita