Sunday, March 29, 2009

Little Explosions

Amidst the devastating budget crisis facing LAUSD and the state of California, despite the decimating budget proposal before the school board this Tuesday....

in my own little backyard
things are teeming with life.
(Sweet Orange Blossoms)

Bursting with abundance.
(Sun-kissed Bearss Limes)

Exploding with color and fragrance
(out of it's climate comfort zone, White Lilacs)

and God-given bounty,
(a plethora of Early Girl Peaches)

proving that even in the most challenging of times, we are always provided for

and surrounded by the possibility of creation...
(Caribbean Lily, Scilla Peruviana)

which creates despite its sometimes harsh and prickly environment.

Or, perhaps because of it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

When Life Gives You Lemons…

There are two things you can do:

1. Fall down into a hole of despair, or
2. Make lemonade

Folks, it’s been a bumpy ride around here. The ups and downs have been extreme. From the highs of riding the momentum of some good press, being inspired to expand my work in multiple ways, listening to Obama in town rallying for the people, combined with the sweet victory of our collective voices delaying the firing of all elementary school Assistant Principals across LA, we were feeling empowered. I was riding the wave of possibility, of transformation, of inspiration, of conceiving the formation of a collective ‘alliance’ of like-minded folks across boundary lines and neighborhood council districts, the feeling we will overcome, be invincible, create our new reality, more autonomy...we can DO this whole use your voice for change thing...We the People...rah, rah!

And then the reality hits, startlingly, like a punch in the face. Thousands of our fresh new teachers face potential pink slips. The AP job, while not eliminated completely, is still on the line. The downtown admins will always have seniority. The Fed Stim money is being held up at the state. (And when you consider how long our legislators hijacked our state budget, we have reason to worry!) We may never see that Stim money that's supposed to save teacher's jobs and support our schools. The special interests are already up there scrapping over it. And ludicrously we can't hold our school fundraiser until we pay district fees. Fees to the district to use our own school site for a fundraiser in order to raise money to pay for the things the district doesn't fund anymore. Hello!

I am also in a mother-daughter, my needs-her needs, guilt-ridden conflict. In my heart I know she's not getting what she needs, from me, from the school...and I never seem to have enough time.

What am I doing?
How can I sustain this?

How do we pay our bills?

My daughter’s not happy

I’m overworked and exhausted

It is never-ending, this uphill climb
I need supports, fresh supplies, a life!

At the core it is ugly. It seems they will always prevail. They always have more power, more money, more control. We are ants scurrying around under their footsteps as they wipe away the crumbs. Yet we keep building. Castles in the sand.

What we do for love. For our kids.

We have been bleeding over here, holding up the barracks.
Doing, in spite of.
Creating, without knowing how or if it will work.
Holding out hope.
Rallying for our position.

Yet I know it is just the beginning of a maelstrom. I have been in the boardroom, seen the inner-memos. I get the conflict of interests. The power of the unions. The gaping financial shortfall. The problems with the existing laws. The haves and the have-nots, the social services aspects, the immigration aspects, the middle class aspects, the big business consultants and lobbyists and the overwhelming bureaucracy of it all, each desperately trying to save its own livelihood.

We need the sword of Gryffindor. Excalibur. Cut the multi-headed dragon free. The beast intent on destroying itself and anyone in its path. But the children, our children, are in the belly of the beast!

Today, reaching my breaking point, the wind sucked out of my sails and figuratively down in the dumps, I’m not making my usual lemonade. Nor my adult version here. No, today I'm in need of something stronger. Something soothing yet packs a punch. Today I’m bringing out the big guns.

I'm muddling the Cuke.

Excuse me while I drink myself through this pickle I'm in!

The Cucumbertini

The Cucumbertini:

Muddle together the following ingredients at the bottom of a cocktail shaker until sloppy mush:

4-5 slices of English hothouse cucumber
The juice of half a big fat lime
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
2 fresh mint leaves, torn up

Then add:
Ice to fill half the shaker
1 1/2 oz vodka of choice

Shake the hell out of it until most of the ice is broken down and you can barely pry your fingers off the cold metal. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with an additional slice of cucumber. Ahhhh.

Wow. I’m already:
1. Feeling better
2. Thinking up the next concoction....hmmmm.

I'm gathering ideas for a new cocktail, The Pink Slip. (Not an official firing, just the preliminary notification as per the collective bargaining agreement that one might be fired, so all those thousands of teachers, my daughter’s included, can spend the next several months teaching in a climate of fear, worry, job insecurity, and anger. You know, the best possible environment for kids.)

Send me your suggestions now. You know, deceptively optimistic, but packs a deadly blow.

I always say, there’s something about public schools and cocktails that just seems to go hand-in-hand!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Song of Hope: "Falling Slowly"

This song never fails to get me. From the movie Once. Listen:

And then, do you remember this moment when they won their Oscar for Best Song, got rudely cut off by the MD (Music Director) in the orchestra pit, and then in a rare moment of Oscar history Jon Stewart brought her back onstage after the commercial break to let her finish:

Watch this acceptance speech!

Make ART, y'all.

Make LOVE.

Dare to DREAM.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

No Accidents


Even when it looks like an accident, a mistake, a lost opportunity, a broken dream.

So, she asks the universe...what next?

Where do we go from here?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


My Guy didn't win. So disappointing. Even worse was the super low turnout at the polls.

If parents would only realize that at 2 parents per child, and anywhere from 20-35 students per teacher, not to mention contractor, sub-contractor, soil tester, facilities manager, or architect to drill a screw into the wall, etc, we FAR out-number that union vote by a landslide.

Parents need to WAKE UP to the sheer power of our numbers and stop being so f'ing apathetic and MUTE!!

(There. I have sufficiently de-irked for the moment.)

Now, about that blood orange martini...
fresh blood...
excuse me while I go bleed for a bit...

Blood Orange Martini, For Real

Here's the real deal:

The Blood Orange Martini

- juice one fresh blood orange
- generous dose of vodka of choice
- optional shake of Peychaud's bitters

shake, strain, serve, repeat!