things: dreams

Strange mood.

This 4th grade business is no joke. In some ways, I appreciate coming home super tired. And in other ways, I don’t like feeling like the energy has been sapped out of me.

I still hold that ever since the scorpion, a lot of really good things have happened.

Other than that dream, my other dreams have been insanely haunting. They’re not nightmares exactly, but just deeply instense and very hard to forget. It makes me wonder what I need to fix in my waking hours.

Even during my 20-minute nap today, my dreams were pretty vivid.

I think it’s time to slow the brain down a little bit.

First Newborn Photo Shoot!

We’ve been looking to move 643 from shooting primarily weddings to also shooting portraits. It’s a hard thing to do because people want to see samples. And you can’t get samples until people let you shoot them. It’s a vicious circle.

That being said, I was so thrilled when a friend asked if I would mind bringing my camera along with me when I visited her. She wanted photos for the birth announcments of her 2-week old son.

I had a great deal of fun during the shoot because her son is positively adorable. And although I had taken several hundred pictures, I was still nervous that there might not be exactly what she was looking for.

I am very happy to say that not only did my friend love the pictures, but I am also quite happy with them.

STERLING

And one of my absolute favorite pictures….

Sterling-75

In Loving Memory: Michael Jackson

I have made much about the significance of music in my life. What I don’t think I’ve said in this blog is that Michael Jackson was the start of all of that.

The soundtrack of my first year of life was “Thriller.” My mom likes to say that my dad played the album for me over and over again. My dad still has that original album in his home.

Bad. Beat It. Thriller. Billie Jean. P.Y.T. It was just over and over again. Michael Jackson was the summer. Was as family parties. He was at barbecues. Baseball games. He was always there.

Michael Jackson was my very first crush. And that guy, that one pictured on the cover of Thriller, is the Michael of my memory.

Each album, each song, each music video premiere. It’s strangely odd that I can tell you where I first heard them. I remember the first time I saw the “Black or White” video. The awe I had when I first saw the premiere of “Remember the Time.” How transfixed I was by “The Way You Make me Feel.” The way my brothers and I would play “Smooth Criminal” in slow motion over and over again.

I was in awe of “Billie Jean” primarily because the floor lit up. I played the “Dangerous” album on cassette so many times that I destroyed it. I wrote about “Jam.” I loved “She Drives me Wild.”

I used his songs to teach. I played them in my classrooms. The Jackson 5 were a soundtrack to my Geometry classes. I let my students dance to his music.

His music has been such a big part of my life that my little brother had my mom call me last night to make sure I was okay.

When I first heard the news, I was shocked, of course. I listened to all of these people sharing stories, and I realized how powerful this man was. We were all at that moment sharing the same emotion and shock.We all had the same memories. We all felt that his songs were “ours.” That is the genius of this man. It’s a hard thing to wrap my head around because he will inevitably live on forever in his music and that is comfort to us. But it pains me that he doesn’t get that same earthly comfort. I feel though that perhaps his soul will gain more peace now than he ever could have here.

It’s just so sad to have such a large part of the collective American soul gone. And sadder so that as I replay each song and re-watch these music videos, it’s almost as though a part of my childhood died with him.

Rest in peace, Michael.

Ms. S. Goes to 4th Grade

So, I used to be a teacher. I taught high school. I loved, loved, loved it. For six years, I worked at two different high schools. I have to say that I learned more about life from my students than I ever learned in school. It’s a funny thing. I left for reasons that are best not explained in this post just about two years ago for an office job. It was an okay thing to do for a living, but nothing compares with teaching.

I spent a few weeks in May substitute teaching for a 7th and 8th grade class. If that wasn’t shock enough, I started teaching 4th and 5th grade summer school today. My biggest fear going in to today? That I wasn’t going to be able to be nice enough.

You see, I have a certain sarcasm about me. I have an no-nonsense attitude about some things. I just didn’t see how that was going to fit in with these little-r kids. To add to the confusion, I spent my last three years of full-time teaching in an all-boys school. This is a an all-girls program. So from age to gender, this is a complete 180 from what I’m used to.

Well, I survived the first day. Not only did I survive, but I had an awful lot of fun. They’re very, very cute.

I came home with that special kind of exhaustion that I have missed from teaching. It’s a mental challenge, a physical one, and sometimes an emotional one. I have to admit that I am pretty sore right now. It’s been awhile since I’ve been on my feet all day. Not to mention, with the younger ones, the time I had to spend on the playground. That being said, I probably sat down for a total of 10 minutes in 8 hours.

The highlights?

  • A girl calling me over to tell me that she and her mom like Santana, too, after she realized my t-shirt was emblazoned with a Santana designed guitar.
  • The same little girl coming up to me during lunch time and saying, “oh, I forgot to say I like Jimi Hendrix, too.”
  • I asked the students to tell me something that would make me remember them. One little girl responded by telling me that she has survived pneumonia twice.
  • My interns. My interns. My interns. I love them. They’re awesome girls. And they’re great with the kids.
  • My first hug around the waist from a student (honestly, not sure about that one yet. I’ve always enjoyed a no-touching policy.)

All in all, I have to say that I’m exhaustedly energized. It was a great first day.

Why I'm Not Impressed with the Seniors' Drug Agreement

So as part of the health care reform I expect Congress to enact this year, Medicare beneficiaries whose spending falls within this gap will now receive a discount on prescription drugs of at least 50 percent from the negotiated price their plan pays.  It’s a reform that will make prescription drugs more affordable for millions of seniors, and restore a measure of fairness to Medicare Part D.    It’s a reflection of the importance of this single step for America’s seniors that it has earned the support of AARP, which has been fighting for years to address this anomaly in the system on behalf of older Americans.  AARP is committed, as I am, to achieving health care reform by the end of this year.  And I’m committed to continuing to work with AARP to ensure that any reforms we pursue are carried out in a way that protects America’s seniors, who know as well as anyone what’s wrong with our health care system and why it’s badly in need of reform.
Our goal — our imperative — is to reduce the punishing inflation in health care costs while improving patient care.  And to do that we’re going to have to work together to root out waste and inefficiencies that may pad the bottom line of the insurance industry, but add nothing to the health of our nation.   To that end, the pharmaceutical industry has committed to reduce its draw on the health care system by $80 billion over the next 10 years as part of overall health care reform.

The White House – Blog Post – A Significant Breakthrough to Assist Our Seniors.

I am highly disappointed to read the provisions of this portion of the health care “reform” that was announced today.

What President Obama understands as outlined in several things he’s written, most notably “The Audacity of Hope”, is that true drug reform in this country is only going to come through stringent regulations placed on the pharmaceutical companies. While I understand that these companies have a wealth of power because they have a wealth of income, it’s really time to take a stand. It’s time for a politician to stand up against Pfizer, Bristol Myers, Procter & Gamble, Amgen and all of their counterparts. It’s time for someone to have the courage to say that these band-aid fixes simply aren’t enough.

The drug companies get off so easy with this agreement they have made.

First, a majority of seniors don’t even use Medicare D. For a variety of reasons, Medicare D has just not caught on. They either don’t understand it, have alternate coverage or can’t afford it. So, the total percentage of the American population who are benefiting from this agreement is probably minuscule.

Second, drugs that are most popular with seniors are also popular with other age groups. So, the chances are that these pharmaceutical companies are going to make plenty of money off the same drugs without even considering those prescriptions filled by seniors. Meanwhile, they get to look like the good guys while shipping off these 50% checks to Medicare. So, now they have a few good years where they get to say “remember when we gave you 50%??” Heck, it might last for the whole Obama administration. Bad, bad move, Mr. President.

Third, as a person who lived with an elderly uncle, delivered prescriptions to my great-grandmother, and has grandparents who all had various prescriptions to fill, I can tell you for certain that a half price discount is not nearly enough to make the extremely over-inflated drugs affordable. In the case of my grandparents, you can’t tell me that reducing their monthly prescription needs from $900 to $450 is going to help. Guess what? They don’t have the $450 either.

We are again at the root of many of the major problems in this country: corporate greed.

Health care and medicine are not the places to make a profit. Not at the cost of someone’s life. Next time you pick up a prescription, note the full price. The last prescription, I picked up for myself had a sticker price of $472. I paid $32, but I will tell you without a shadow of a doubt that even working full time, there’s no way I would have been able to pay half price for those antibiotics.

The true, true reform is going to lie in standing up to these pharmaceutical companies, providing public financing and requiring them to sell drugs AT-COST to the American people. So all people, not just seniors, can benefit from a true reform agreement that does not penalize people for illness, genetic defects, terminal illness, or accidents.

Until that moment, I will not be impressed. I will not rally behind this “reform.” And, I will not say this is progress.

People Who Should Stop Talking: Installment 1

I’m all for free speech. I’m all for freedom of the press, but there are some people who so far outlive their 15 minutes of fame that it makes me wonder about the very fiber of our society. Why do we allow these people to continue to talk? Why are people still listening? Why are these arcane opinions still necessary in the public debate?

So, I present my first installment of People Who Should Stop Talking.

#1. Sarah Palin. It wouldn’t be right if the first person in the first installment of this post WASN’T Sarah Palin. You lost. Not only did you lose, but you probably are the reason your ticket lost. You don’t have a place in mainstream America. And honestly, every time you open your mouth I cringe for all intelligent women.

#2. Megan McCain. You may not have lost like Ms. Palin, but your father did. So, your fifteen minutes of fame was gained in a carpet-bagger approach in the first place. It’s one thing to say you want to open up the political discussion in America, but stick to that. You’re not a Hollywood celebrity.

#3. Scott Boras. No one cares. No one cares. No one cares. We don’t care that you represent BOTH the Weaver brothers. You’ve done enough to ruin major league baseball, we don’t need your take on “feel-good” stories. We don’t need your take on Manny’s silence. We (especially Dodger fans) don’t need your take on a lot of things.

#4. Jon & Kate (with or without your 8). Whatever personal issues you may have, you put out there in the media by agreeing to do a TV show. That being said, we really don’t care to have your entire life drama drawn out on news programs. (Perhaps this complaint has more to do with those who report this stuff as thought it were breaking news.)

Please stay tuned as our American media continues to spread the celebrity of these folks and others like wildfire.

On Father's Day

I was driving to my parents’ house this afternoon, and a song came on the radio. It was warm out, and I couldn’t help but sing along in the car. It made me think about my father and all of the things I’ve received from him. Primarily among them:

  • An absolute love and enjoyment for music. His music. My music. I learned to love music because I wanted to like everything he did.
  • An insatiable desire to leave the world a little better place that I found it. I’ve watched him my entire life make the world better, and I’ve wanted to do exactly the same in my own way.
  • A love for sports. He’s a diehard Los Angeles everything fan. He’s quiet about it though, but he always knows what’s going on. He knows scores and stats and players names. He made me love the Top Deck at Dodger Stadium. He made me fall in love with the third baseline.
  • Technology, technology, technology. My father loves gadgets. He’s always up on technology. Usually before me.
  • A love of writing. When I was four and five years old, he would have me dictate letters to my cousin to him. He would write them out, and I would re-copy them so they would be in my own handwriting. He worked on fiction when I was younger, and he made me believe that I could write.
  • News. News. News. I have a habit of watching the news because of him. But I also think I studied journalism because he would always talk about the integrity of journalism and what a great profession it was.
  • Politics. He made me politically active at a very young age. I took it so seriously because it was important to him. For some odd reason, I would consider myself a “Kennedy Democrat” because of what I learned from him. I went through a phase where I read all of his Kennedy biographies, somewhere around the age of 13.

I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have a father like I do. He has always treated me like I could take over the universe, and that has translated into a confidence that has served me well for all of my life. He has taught me extreme compassion. He has taught me how to stand up for myself and to speak my mind.

I listened to President Obama’s little public service message about spending time with your kids, and I remember how my dad would come home tired from work and still take me to the park or play board games with me.

There is nothing in the world that compares to feeling that loved. And I know, each and every day, how incredibly lucky I am to have a father like him.