Friday, September 02, 2011

My points of reference: 1. Rosewood

I anticipate this entry to be the first of a thread that I'm calling "My points of reference". It was inspired by largely by my father. When I was a kid my father, bless his soul (makes him sound like he's passed, but no: bless his soul is cos he's crazy), would make reference to some character called Hess. He'd say things to me and siblings like, "You Hess's child!" and cackle with glee at his witticism. We had absolutely no fucking idea was he was on about, though we gathered it was not a rather good thing to be related to this Hess chap. Finally I asked my amah (cos you can get no coherent chat from me da - fact) who Hess was. "Oh," my mother said, with an indifference off-handedness that can only be obtained by being married to the same nutjob for an extended amount of time, "Just some guy he went to high school with."

This "My points of reference" thread has also been inspired by what happened today, and it serves as the basis for my first point of reference, of which I shall explain to you now. So I was happily tweeting my dear high school BF ATW when we happened upon talking about music. I explained that I was trying to take in more rap and expressed my love for the new Bad Meets Evil album (can I just put out there how much I love Eminem right now? Like he gets me going big time. Which is weird cos I never thought he was attractive before. Anyway, let me get back to the point, cos I'm getting hot to trot). ATW returned that she didn't like the "overuse of the n-word". In response, I called her cliched.

Now, let me back up just one minute here and give even more background. For some reason, I have been on the Guardian website recently, making comments on stories about rap and hip-hop music. I am by no means an expert or full-on connoisseur (yet), but, as was the case from lots of other comment-makers, I can't stand when people slag off rap so vehemently (glorifies criminality and sexism) and I feel I have to defend it. OK, you don't get rap - fine. So don't listen to it, simple as. I don't listen to country much for exactly the same reason. It's violent and denigrates women, but it gets a lot more cultural respect from people. Why? Well, I'll let you figure that out on your own, my little lambs.

Anyway, when I get round people having a go at hip-hop and rap, I just kinda lose it a bit, which I was reminded of when tweeting ATW. I always refer to me losing it when it comes to thinking about race issues as having a "Rosewood moment". Rosewood is the name of a John Singleton-directed film starring Ving Rhames, described in IMDb as a "dramatization of a 1923 horrific racist lynch mob attack on an African American community". Essentially, this white community goes all klan on a black community.

When my mother went to see this film, she said she left the cinema so angry that she just wanted to bust on any white person she encountered. Which is hilarious. Don't get me wrong: violence is not funny. But my ma contemplating violence is. This is a women who would never whack me or my siblings with her hands, because "hands are for loving". Which made for interesting times when my mother did want to pop us one, for she would rush off looking for something to do it with. Her hands loved us, but that spatula certainly didn't! Still can't look a most kitchen utensils without hysteria rising within me.

So basically when I talk about having a Rosewood moment, I'm referring to my amah's very funny response. It's my way of not letting it get to me, I guess. The citing of a "Rosewood moment" labels the issue for what it is, but it also helps to de-escalate and diffuse things by reminding me of how absurd a really angry response, which I am prone to have, would be.

Maybe I should actually get round to seeing this film that serves as such a significant point of reference.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My beef with FB friends

Tonight, as I was leaving volleyball training, I pass a guy who I'm friends with on the FB.

"Hello," says he.

"Hi," reply I, walking passed him.

"Oh, did you buy those shoes?" inquires him, nonchalantly.

I stop in my tracks to consider the meaning of this. Then I remember my message I'd put on the Book of Faces: Left work intending to stop at Russell & Bromley to buy that pair of brown loafers I had been coveting before going to volleyball training. But I definitely need another day to mentally prepare myself to pay THAT much for some shoes.

This is not the first time this has happened to me, people commenting to me in person about something I've written on the Facebook but not leaving a comment to the post. I recently spoke to someone who claimed to love reading my "crazy posts" but was a person least likely to write a comment back. And I find this utterly bizarre. It's like some odd voyeuristic behaviour that, if occurring outside social media, would have people arrested. It makes me feel that instead of bringing people together, the FB and other social media allows us to creepily peep on each other.

Actually, I'm being unduly harsh cos that peeping Tom behaviour doesn't really bother me so much. I will freely admit to taking in the events of other people's lives and not always giving feedback. But mostly I do. Especially if you're interesting. If you're interesting, I will defo comment. I've got a pal, DK, who talks crazy shit on the FB most of the time and he kills me and everyone he knows. He regularly has a double-digit number of comments to his postings (though, that being said, around half are his replies to what people say to him).

Though I believe in feeding back, it's sometimes clear that my two cents have absolutely no value. I'm thinking of one friend in particular, who posted a question asking who his friends believed to be the greatest DJ. I answered with a question back that he never bothered to answer. Bad form.

And that's my real beef: people not using the information that others share to really (i.e., instantaneously) engage with each other. I see this information sharing — my information sharing in my FB posts and on this darling little blog — as a service. And your feedback is currency, wages for my work. And as I see it, some of you are seriously short changing me. Y'all better pay me my money!

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Sunday, August 07, 2011

My dream, or People know I am a shit person

So last night I had a dream, which I will tell you about! Boy says there's nothing less interesting than hearing other people retell their dreams. I think wots less interesting than that is new parents talking about how amazing their babies are. I mean, THEY ARE BABIES! They do fuck all.

I recognise that's just me.

Actually, that's a good segue into the dream: I was caring for the baby of a couple with which I am acquainted. In real life, I'm pretty sure this couple hates me. Well, for one, the dude defriended me on the FB some time ago. And I was only FB friends with him. I'm really not that gutted (actually, never ever was gutted) about it cos he was kinda boring. I mean, he never changed his profile pic, one of a person doing a pretty nice sporting action, which was clearly not him. That makes him dead suspect to me. And she got on my tits!

Anyway, throughout the entire weekend I cared for the baby, I called the kid "Killian" though that is not his name - it's nowhere near his real-life given name even. To be fair, Killian is a much cooler name than the kid's real name, though. I reckon the kid is four months old, but I fed him a diet exclusively of salty peanut butter crackers. You know, the ones that come in packs of six that you get out of American vending machines. I'm also pretty sure I left him alone several times, once for an pretty extended amount of time where he conked his head. I never changed his nappy. Yep, I was a pretty shit person.

Could this be why this couple hates me? Could they somehow (don't ask me how: I only come up with the theories, not explain them) look past the dreamscape and look directly into my soul and tell that I'm such a shit person that I would harm their little Killian (he will always be Killian to me now) and give him jailbound-worthy care for a weekend? Is this why I was defriended?

But at the same time, if they knew I was such a shit person, why did they let me care for the baby? Clearly, these people are bad parents.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

My current dilemma, maaaan

Basically, every North American I encounter these days makes me wonder: "Do you play softball?" (I am apparently not the only one like this). Yeh, yeh: you think I'm racist cos I assume that all NAers are good at ball. Yeh, so wot? Sue me. In my experience, I have found the greater the propensity for naturally lacing the word "man" in conversation (as in "No way maaaaan, that was soooo out."), the higher the likelihood that the person is shit-hot at softball. So the USer that I met at the Scottish Book Trust, only likely to say "maaaan" in an ironic way: an OK and improving baller.

Now the new kid I recruited - Mr Maaaan, mayor of Maaaaaan Town: confidently balling. All his convo is about balling: batting, fielding, baseball ("Maaaan, the Pirates fucking suck maaan."). So how exactly did I meet Mr Maaaan? Well, there's the dilemma.

Basically, I met Mr Maaaan when he and his child came to visit our school in the spring. After spending some time waffling about whether or not I should ask him to play our little reindeer game, I approached him and he happily agreed to take part. This is really the first time I've allowed someone who is not another teacher to see me in not Ms Teacher mode. Basically, Mr Maaaan has seen me exclusively in my rude, profane, bolshy Me mode, not the lovely Ms Teacher side I like to cultivate to parents.

But now he's asked me to be a friend on the FB. And I'm waffling over this friendship request like no other, as some of you yahoos can attest to. (I've got issues!) I don't wanna out and out ignore him, cos like I said he's an a'ight guy. But it's about the boundaries, innit, and the inappropriate crossing thereof. Isn't it just inappropriate for a parent of one of my kids to want to be my friend on the FB?

On the other hand, this isn't really his fault. In fact, this whole thing could have been prevented if I had thought a little bit more about my actions. I mean, what the fuck did I think was going to happen when I asked him to play softball on my team? That we would somehow stay in these little bubbles where I would always be Ms Teacher and he would always be Mr Maaaan and our real adult personalities of Me and Maaaan would never emerge? I asked him to engage in a social context with me and now I'm freaking out that he actually wants to do it. I'm thinking hard and getting wrinkles cos I think he's crossed a line, but in reality, wasn't it me the one who did?

Actually, I don't think I really have a problem being his friend. This little rant has been about trust and wondering if I can I trust Mr Maaaan with all my personal shit on the FB? Yeh, I've already given him a precursor to my FB self when we play, with all my cursing and inappropriate stories - so wots the difference? The difference is all that stuff I've verbally shared on the field is temporal, having only a fleeting life in one's memory.

Ok, think about it like this: when he goes home to Mrs Maaaan and she asks if anything good happened, he might say, "Ah maaaan, Ms Teacher was telling me this hilarious story about these people shagging loudly on her holiday in France!" And she would say, "What happened maaaan?" And he would reply, "Yeh maaaan, I can't really remember it all." Cos that's what face-to-face interactions are like: filled mainly with silly, inconsequential moments that somehow establish a feeling of friendliness amongst people. But pictures of my drunky bear antics on the FB, however, are permanent. And can be reviewed on the regular. With snorts and chortles.

And can I trust Mr Maaaan, or even Mrs Maaaan, not to share my shit with other parents and other folks? And what if he shows it to his kid? "Hey Lil Maaaan, look at Ms Teacher getting fucked up in this pic! Maaan, that's awesome!" Cos ultimately, even when parents are friendly to you and share a laugh with you, they are still your quasi-employers. Their bottom line is to protect their little one. Our friendship, as fun as it could be, could be thrown out the water if Mr and Mrs Maaaan are totally different when they are in Mr Dad Maaaan and Mrs Mum Maaaan mode.

Of course, I'm the one who's letting this play on my mind, on and on. Mr Maaaan thought all of two seconds about this, only thinking about how to find the 'Request friend' button on the FB . How do I know? Cos he's a man and so you know there was no girly dilemma chat in his head with his actions. I so need to maaaan up.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

My singing

I am, despite wot anyone says to the contrary, a fairly shit singer. I blame myself entirely. When I was a child I, apparently, had a nice singing voice. There was nothing I liked better than singing with my wee tidda. I was by no means the star of the church choir and never sang lead, but I contributed enough.

My paternal grandmother loved to hear us sing. Actually, I think she just loved to show off. She would take me and Tidda around like we were the star attraction in a carnie freak show.
    "Look at how long their hair is!"
    "Ain't they just so pretty!"
    Grandma: "They can sang too."
    "Aw, g'on babies. Sang!"
As much as I adored my grandma, I hated singing for all those people. But it wasn't like you could beg off, or politely decline. Because this was Miss Bea, and you did what you were told with a smile. So I rebelled in a most passive-aggressive way possible: singing off-key. And I did it so much and for so long that I couldn't figure out how to get back on.

And I still have no idea how to sing on key or in tune. This is why I karaoke repertoire consists of nearly exclusively of rap songs. Specialities: Ice ice baby and Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock's It takes two. I have also been successful with Here comes the hotstepper and I wanna sex you up. Exceptions to the rule: Losing my religion and Wonderwall, particularly played by another person on guitar.

Despite my singing shititude, there is one audience that I will un-self-consciously sing for: my pupils. When I had a classroom in the States, I remember the first song I sang in front of my kids was Lift every voice and sing. Whatta song. And whatta bad song for a clueness numptie like me to sing - the lowest of low notes, quickly followed by soaring high notes. Normally, I wouldn't have done it, but I had my reasons: it was Black History Month (Lift every voice and sing is informally known as the Negro national anthem); the kids were to sing it at a whole school assembly and needed to learn the words. But mainly, I did it cos the song meant (and still means) a lot to me. I rather pathetically always bust into tears when I hear or sing it, blubbering kinda like my pal Macca does when anything Scottish happens anywhere, ever. (So, yes, when I listened to the YouTube link of Lift every voice and sing, I did start to greet.) Yet after I finished, the kids whispered eversoreverently, "You're the best singer ever." The best moment of my life. Ever. And I haven't stopped singing to and with my kids yet.

Yet my little bubble was burst yesterday when I invited another teacher in for our daily P1 singalong. She actually winced when I began to sing. "Why don't you join in with the singing?" I said to her, wearing the kinda smile on you have when you're around children and you really don't feel like smiling. "I would... if I could just figure out the tune," she replied with equal faux joviality.

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Saturday, June 04, 2011

My last uni day

Well, that's it: my final teaching day at Stirling is over and I'm chugging my way back to the EDN. I'm gonna miss the injection of energy seeing my tutor gave me. I have a mad girl crush on my tutor, who incidentally looks like Jane Fonda in the film Monster-in-law. Nothing like the character, obvs.

I will miss the lovely Pathfoot Building, built into the side of a hill and with enough stairs to keep lawyers for people with disabilities employed for decades. So utterly 1960s. I remember going into on of my tutor's offices and seeing two Harry Bertoia diamond chairs in the corners, clearly unloved and unappreciated. I wanted to liberate the chair.

I will miss the canteen where we had our coffee breaks most days, with its double aspect of Wallace monument and Stirling Castle. The. Best. View. Ever. I had plenty of time to take it in as I spent a goodly amount of time estranged from my peers in my cohort. Of course you know my oddities and, because you're reading, you love them. Tolerate them? Hate them with a seething and silent resentment? Yeh, well at least you're subtle. In every way, their judgemental snobbishness, lack of tolerance, and silly ability not to be able to think at all critically and un-robotically brought out my differences even more. Meow! Yes, I won't miss that lot.

Anyway, see ya Stirling. Thanks for everything. Next I see you, all being well, it will November and I'll be wearing my Docs. Think I'll go for the heeled ones this time!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Desert Island Discs: the decision

Voting closed suckers, but amazingly I got mine in on Wednesday. Here's what I finally choose:
  • Nightswimming by REM
  • Smells like teen spirit by Nirvana
  • SpottiOttiDopalicious by OutKast
  • Don't look back in anger by Oasis
  • How do you want it? by 2Pac
  • Set adrift on memory bliss by PM Dawn
  • Shadowboxer by Fiona Apple
  • Tramp by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas

The last one came from no where, huh? I didn't have it on my shortlist, but it's always been a favourite of mine. Just realised that three of these acts are from Georgia (REM, Otis Redding, and OutKast). Hmmmm...

Shit, now that I think about it, I really wish I included 10000 Maniacs' These are the days!

Och, well.