Monday, January 25, 2010

It's All About Perspective

Yesterday, my daughter, Ali, and I had the good fortune to be able, along with Ann Oro, to play New York City tourist with Jenny Luca, who was in the United States for the first time. We went to the top of the Empire State Building, despite the cold, wind, and poor visibility.  We ate great Thai food (Ann's first time).  And we went to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa).  Our intention was to see the Tim Burton exhibit but, alas, we arrived too late to get tickets.  We stayed anyway.  And had loads of fun admiring and laughing at modern art.

I guess I should make it clear that I am not a lover of abstract art.  My daughter loves it and always has but, to me, much of it is not art.  I can appreciate the talent involved in creating much of it.  Take Hide and Seek, for example.

This piece, done by Pavel Tchelitchew, shows talent.  While I do not really like it, in fact find it rather gruesome, I can appreciate the work that went into it.  We stared at this painting for quite awhile.  

But other pieces just made no sense to me.  Like the metal exit sign nailed to a piece of wood.  I could have done that.  Or the rectangular bricks placed in a rectangle.  I truly believed, until reading the accompanying placard, that that one was simply a platform for a sculpture that wasn't there.  Even the black painting was confusing.

Ann,  Jenny, Ali, and I spent quite a bit of time with this one.  The placard for this one gave us clues that it wasn't just painted black.  There was a grid dividing the painting into black with reddish hues, black with greenish hues...well you get the idea.  As you can see from the picture, it really just looks black.

So this morning, Ali and talked about the museum.  I asked what her favorite part was.  She said she loved the chromed sculpture.  Someone had chromed a cabbage, a pencil, earthworms, and a lollipop.  I said I thought that was just strange.  And then I said I could have done that.  Ali's response, "But you didn't!"  And then she continued, "If you're not talented, you need to be creative. Those people are creative.  They see things differently and create pieces no one else thinks about."  It reminded me of the TedTalk I had just watched on the way home from the city.  This man creates art with an xray machine.  I think I could do that.  But, as Ali says, I didn't.  So he is creative and I am not.

But I kept thinking of what Ali was trying to teach me.  It really is all about perspective.  She and I looked at the same art work.  I laughed and she gasped.  She looked at pieces I thought were ridiculous and was in awe. 

Of course, at this point, the teacher in me came out. Isn't everything we do all about perspective?  How many times have I had a student who came with a reputation for being a terror and I loved him?  How many times have I had a child in my class who annoyed the heck out of last year's teacher and I couldn't wait to see her every day?  And then I wonder, what if we could force a change in perspective just to make things work out for the best.  Imagine that child who I really don't like.  What if I could look at that child the way I looked at Hide and Seek.  I might not like it much but I can sure admire the talent and creativity inside.  How much better would my year be?  And how much better for that child?  Something to think about.  Thanks for the lesson, Ali.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Car Ride

I recorded this on my way home last week.  I get my best thoughts while driving and decided to record this one. You will have to get past the traffic noise and my turn signal. :)


Saturday, January 2, 2010

An Interesting Vacation

Tomorrow is the last day of my vacation.  This was a long one, running from December 24th to January 4th.  I had every minute planned out and was really looking forward to the vacation.  And then reality hit.

We were supposed to head to Florida on the 24th, spending most of the vacation visiting my sister in Weston and my mother-in-law in Margate.  I haven't seen my sister or my five year old nephew, Henry, in about a year and haven't seen my 90 year old mother-in-law in about 2 years.  My brother-in-law and his wife were also coming, as were my husband's nephew with his three teenage boys.  The last time we saw this nephew, he was a teenager himself.  It's been quite a while.  So we bought Christmas gifts, spoke on the phone about all the arrangements for our big Christmas get together, hooked up on Facebook, and began to get excited.  

The plan was we were staying with my sister, who would pick us up at the airport on Thursday night.  Friday, Christmas day, we would head over to my MIL's early and see the Parisi clan, bringing my Jewish sister, her husband, and my nephew along for a big Christmas day. (I love mixing the holidays.)  

We had a few days to spend with the Parisis before Frank's brother headed back to Arizona and his nephew headed back to Texas.  We were going to go fishing, parasailing, and boating.  We were going to sit around the house and talk.  We were going to laugh and hug and catch up.  Ali, my daughter, would meet her cousins and hang out with three teenage boys! Once the Parisis all left, we would spend more time with my sister and nephew, taking them to the beach, going off to play tennis. Ali and Henry were going to spend a day at tennis camp while my sister and I took my MIL shopping.  

On the last day of my trip, I was going to hook up with Lee Kolbert, having lunch, sunning at the beach, hanging out.  I would come back tanned and relaxed, with four days left to do school work, laundry, and shopping before school started.  Ahhhhh!

So what happened?  First, we left our New York airport 15 minutes late.  This brought us to our connecting airport, Philadelphia, too late to catch our plane.  Remember the huge snow storm that brought my house 25 inches of snow?  That backed up flying so much that the airlines were very quick to give away our seats early.  And the soonest they could get us on another flight was Monday.  That's Thursday to Monday.  By Monday, we would have missed the whole Parisi clan.  So we turned around and came home.

On the way home, with Ali crying, me crying, my sister crying on the phone, we tried to find the silver lining.  Maybe we could go skiing instead.  Maybe we could head into the city to some museums.  Maybe we could find some new restaurants to try, go to some movies, etc.  But, on the way home, my throat started....

Well, by the time we got home, I had a lovely cough.  In fact, it was so bad that I couldn't sleep through the night.  I was exhausted waking up at 3 in the morning.  Then the lightheadedness and runny nose started.  Before I knew it, I was flat on my back in bed for the week. So we didn't go skiing, or to the museums, or to new restaurants.  We did go to the movies twice, me fully stocked with cough drops to make it through. After each one, we headed home so I could go back to bed.

This morning, Saturday, I woke up with the realization that I had slept through the whole night without coughing.  It took the entire vacation.  This should be the crummiest vacation ever.  But it wasn't.  

I certainly rested enough.  And, while I really hated being sick and coughing and blowing my nose, it was kind of nice to have a reason to stay in bed all day.  I really think I needed to do that.  And, I spent some great time with my family at home.  We pulled out all the old movies of Ali.  Hours of us staring at an infant (why did we think that was so exciting when she was born?), hours of her funny jokes and conversations, great moments of her explanations as to why she was crying.  (My favorite one - "Why are you crying?"  "Daddy sent me to my room." "Why did he send you to your room?  What did you do?" "I climbed on the dishwasher." "And what did Daddy say?" "He said, No climbing on the dishwasher." "So what did you do?" "I climbed on the dishwasher.") We also did lots of cooking together: two trays of cookies, an apple pie, chicken stew, and spaghetti sauce.  And the best part of that was I wasn't allowed to really touch the food since I was germy so I just hung out and watched.  We shopped, using up all my holiday gift cards.  I connected with quite a few online friends, had a great meeting with Paul Bogush, Karen Janowski, and Christine Southard about our Educon 2.2 presentation, and worked quite a bit on the book I am writing with Brian Crosby.

So silver lining?  Had we made it to Florida, I would have loved seeing everyone but it would have been hectic trying to see my MIL and my sister all at the same time.  I would have been in my sister's house keeping everyone awake with my coughing. There would have been no time to relax, which is what I really needed to do after the first half of this school year.  And my husband, daughter, and I, who have all been overly busy since September, wouldn't have had so much time to bond with each other.

It did take me until now to see the silver lining.  I did spend quite a bit of time feeling sorry for myself.  But I know now that I am rested, happy, and ready to go back to work.  And that is what vacation is all about - a time for renewal.

I think my New Year's Resolution is going to be to search harder for the silver lining when a gray cloud comes into my life.  There always is one.  And it's time to stop wallowing and start enjoying whatever life brings. Don't you agree?

Happy New Year!

'We're a little bit behind schedule...

'happy christmas everybody!

'Have a splash this year

'i hate jetblue


'silver lining

'A Toast to the New Year!