My Puzzle Piece

•July 15, 2009 • 1 Comment

Well, friends, it’s July…the no-man’s land for teachers in Ohio. They hire in June, they hire in August, but July is when the principals are on vacation.

June was busy. I had several interviews. My restaurant was great about letting me off the lunch shift. I dressed, I portfolioed, I talked. But none of the employment possibilities panned out. Last week, I felt terrible, but this week, I have a different perspective. I want to work for a district that’s a great fit for me–where standards are high, and my creative experience is appreciated. Where I can teach choir and general music, and help children experience how music touches our humanity. Either that place will open up in August, or I will sub for another year. Either way, life will go on and my family will be OK.

I have to find a place and stay there….because of the teachers’ salary schedule, you can’t get hired if you have too many years of experience, and I already have four. I’ve heard that some districts are only looking at hiring new graduates. I’m hoping that does not hold for all. A teacher has so much more to offer ten years out of college. I’m trusting that someone will see my unique gifts, just as I find the unique gifts in my students.

I’m looking at teaching private voice lessons to keep my skills sharp and create income. More information to come. A few freelance articles have come my way. I’m also very happy about teaching summer school for one of the districts I subbed for. The kids arrive on Monday.

In the meantime, let me refer you to one of my favorite blogs, from Seattle’s Pastor Eugene Cho. He has some great thoughts about life not going as planned:

http://eugenecho.wordpress.com/2009/07/15/couch-surfing-is-not-what-i-envisioned/

Welcome Back, Kotter

•April 3, 2009 • 3 Comments

Our oldest son, early March 2009, enjoying his first trip to the circus

 I have not blogged in something like eternity. But my older son’s little virus kept me home from work, so I’m taking the moment and running with it.

I’m now working full-time as a substitute teacher, attending grad school on some weekends, and basically, just working to hold it all together. I’m not contributing to the Ningin Asian media website anymore–I really enjoyed it, but there’s just no time. If you write in addition to a full-time job, you have to be choosy. I chose screenwriting.

Cincyscript, my screenwriting group, is Sunday, and I’m taking a treatment for the second draft of my latest project. In the odd planning period at work, I’m reading David Trottier’s Screenwriters’ Bible, and getting some great insights from it. Rest time, allowing ideas to germinate, is key in writing. I may not have much “face time” with my computer these days, but the creative process continues.

The students I work with are full of material. For security reasons, I could never ID them by name or obvious characteristic in my work. But being back in the public schools is something of a learning lab on psychology, adolescence, human nature….it’s all good 🙂

I don’t want to be obnoxious with link-backs to my work, but since Fast and Furious is coming out this weekend, I had to throw this in. Sung Kang is in the movie, and last October, I interviewed him. Fascinating guy. Links are in the previous post. I’ll be seeing Fast and Furious for a Girls’ Night Out on Saturday. Is that not a riot? GNOs usually involve a chick flick, but I was set on seeing this movie opening weekend. Even if you don’t normally go for action, you gotta hand it to Justin Lin. He brings a special artistry to the genre.

Well, that’s the Kitchen Sink for now….

My interview with Sung Kang

•October 15, 2008 • 2 Comments

Yes, that’s right my friends….somehow, in the midst of motherhood and my job search, I carved out some time to interview Sung Kang by phone. This incredible actor (Tokyo Drift, The Motel, Finishing the Game, Mad TV’s K-Drama) is also co-owner of Saketini Creative Asian Cuisine. So we talked about food. And to quote the Purnell’s sausage man, “It’s goooood.”

Read Part 1 of our interview here.

And part 2

Lucky Thai Joint/Hurricane in Ohio

•September 16, 2008 • 8 Comments

Did you miss me? I haven’t been online the last couple of days, thanks to an Ohio hurricane. My whole life, Gulf of Mexico hurricanes have snaked up to the Ohio Valley, but left only torrential rains. This time, Hurricane Ike brought little rain, but wind gusts up to 77 miles per hour. Our power went out, and were it not for the lucky Thai joint, we’d have had no hot food.

 

The blackout started on Sunday afternoon, in the middle of my Facebook session. We kept thinking it would come back on. It didn’t. I left for work at my weekend waitressing job, and heard the radio announcer say, “Don’t go out unless you have to.” My restaurant’s shopping center was a ghost town. My manager met me at the door and told me to go home. The wind was whipping up something awful by then.

 

I called my husband. He wanted me to bring home some Wendy’s. I passed two—the power was out at both. The power was on at Burger King, but it would be “an hour for food…we’re waiting for the fryers to warm up.” I was on my way home when I saw it—neon lights at the Thai joint. Miracle of miracles, I had gift certificates to this place (earned by writing advertising for them a couple months ago).

 

 

The place was packed. I placed a to-go order for two pad thai, chicken satay, and spring rolls. The yoga studio next door had power, so I chatted with a sweaty yogi while I waited. “I just had to go to class tonight, despite the weather—it’s my first time since having a baby.” I love Thai food any time of the day or night, so I couldn’t help but laugh when some guy came in, took one look at the carryout menu, and left. It was the only restaurant open for miles! Come on. I know it’s the Midwest, but branch out a little.

 

I took my food home; we ate by the dim daylight. The yard was covered in debris. My husband, who’s a complete Flickr addict, kept stopping at the computer, forgetting that he couldn’t get online. I read The Week, my favorite news magazine, cover to cover. Meanwhile, we listened to the radio. Almost everyone in the Cincinnati area was without power, and the estimates for getting back on were up to a week.

 

The next morning, it took me hours to wake up without coffee. Almost all the traffic lights were out, and most every business was closed. At Starbucks, people were waiting to charge laptops, but all I wanted was my joe. I passed a second closed grocery store before finding a Meijer (similar to Wal-Mart). I dove into a pile of people to get one measly bag of ice, then rushed home to fill the cooler with a few dairy items. Later that day, Jeremy and I agreed we should go to his parents’ house. We were just packing up when the power came back on.

 

Hallelujah! We lost a lot of perishable food, but sustained no property damage. In comparison to the victims of many other natural disasters this year, we’re very blessed. And thanks to the lucky Thai joint, we didn’t miss a single hot dinner. Hurricane in Ohio—it could have been worse.

 

Arnel Pineda: The Pinoy Who Wouldn’t Stop Believing

•September 2, 2008 • 4 Comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a really inspirational rags-to-riches story about a Filipino joining the American stadium-rock band Journey, go to my other blog. Here’s a link:

http://elena.ningin.com/ 

Incidentally, Ningin, the media site I blog for, now uses WordPress as its blog platform. Good decision, Hoc. WordPress is very easy to use.

Kal Penn, Barack Obama, Roger Fan, Olympics….

•August 14, 2008 • 1 Comment
Me, a sweaty Son One, and actor/director Kal Penn

Me, a sweaty Son One, and actor/director Kal Penn

 

I have some really good posts up….but you need to click on the link below to see them. I got to meet actor Kal Penn at a Democratic campaign rally last night….I interviewed actor Roger Fan last year…..my son loves to say “Barack Obama.” Check it out:

http://ningin.com/elenastevenson

Just Call Me Calamity Jane

•July 22, 2008 • 4 Comments

The world record for pediatrician bills racked up in one week is now…..mine. And this is Son One now:

 

Son One in splint

Son One in splint

 

It all started Wednesday. I took Son Two for his first physical therapy session; he has torticollis, a common developmental problem involving neck muscles and the infant’s head tilting to one side. I was hoping to get an “all clear” from the therapist. I didn’t. He needs more therapy and an eval from the plagiocephaly clinic, where he may be fitted with a helmet to fix his misshapen head. While hearing this, I had to excuse myself to chase down Son One every 5 minutes. You see, a physical/occupational therapy center just looks like a playground to him. Then Son Two decided he’d had it with PT and opened his mouth to scream; I saw white patches. Yep. Another thrush infection.

 

So I go out to the lobby to do the financials, holding Son Two on my lap while telling Son One not to swing from the counter. I get Son One to sit next to me, but not for long. He runs off. Not wanting to put my infant down in a public place, I carry Son Two in the crook of my left arm while I take off after Son One. “Son One!” He laughs and runs away. I run to him and grab his hand. “Come on.” He throws himself on the floor and laughs. “Honey, I need you to get up and walk.” I pull on his hand, and he resists. Then I feel it—a snap.

 

Oh no. We go back to the Registration desk, and his arm is hanging funny at his side. He cries. I ask if a doctor can see him. “No, our urgent care facility is not open until 6. Call your pediatrician.” The personnel at the outpatient center tell me what my son has is nursemaid’s elbow, a dislocation common in little kids. The name comes from the days when a family of means employed a “nursemaid” to care for a passel of kids, and she struggled to control them.  Of course, I feel terrible.

 

We go to the pediatrician, where Dr. Goodlander pulls Son One’s arm out of socket and puts it back amid much crying. She checks it—it’s in. So I thought, “Maybe we’re home free.” But no. Later that evening, Son One, still very active, trips over his brother’s toy and falls on the bad arm. Ouch. The next day. Son One’s left arm still hangs at his side.  No amount of cajoling will get him to use it. So we go back to the doctor’s office. Dr. Kellogg resets it twice, and tells me that he should be using it by now. She refers us to the main location of Children’s Hospital, 45 minutes away.

 

Well, you know the drill with the ER. Even with a call-ahead from you doctor, it takes forever. We arrived at 7:15. Triage shortly thereafter. Waiting. Dirty diapers. Mostly, Jeremy chased Son One around while I nursed Son Two under a shawl. I was so thankful to have Jeremy there. We got to an exam room close to 9, and Son One and I are called to X-ray. “Hey, Son One, X is for X-ray!” He remembered this from his alphabet book. He was all excited until he had to sit on my lap and wear a lead apron to protect his gonads. I held on to the apron for dear life, thinking of my future grandkids.

 

Some guy came in at 11 to wrap Son One’s arm in a splint. I was a little irked that we had not seen the orthopedist yet. But later, an MD explained the X-ray showed a possible hairline fracture, and that it was better to have Ortho look at it in a couple of weeks after healing. It seems impossible that this “mean mama” broke his arm when I pulled him to his feet…that probably happened when he fell.

 

So we packed up, sat in the McDonald’s drive-thru at 12:15 AM, and finally got to bed around 2. Here’s Son One enjoying his fries:

 

Mmmm, fries

Mmmm, fries

 

A warning to all parents and future parents: it is very easy to injure a strong-willed toddler in your attempt to corral him. Grab a kid around the waist, not by the hand. A two-year-old’s instinct is for control, and he’ll fight you, not understanding you only want to keep him safe. Next thing you know, he’s all out of joint.

 

Hopefully, it will heal well. Son One is hanging tough.

I’m a Rotten Listener–and the Potty

•July 15, 2008 • 4 Comments

My spiritual life as of late has more to do with keeping myself grounded than changing anyone else’s mind. My prayer for today: “God, please help me be a better listener.”

I really hurt someone important to me yesterday. It was what I didn’t do. I was so absorbed in my thoughts that I did not give this precious one my full ear. Yes, I have a lot on my mind. But yes, the people in my life deserve my attention. I know it can hurt to be ignored. In our distracted society, where so many things vie for our attention, listening is the most precious gift you can give another human being. Even those of you taking time to read this blog–hey, that’s a gift too, and thank you.

Please, forgive me.

In happier news: my older son peed on the “toi-yet” for the first time today. If you can’t understand why that’s such a big deal, you don’t have kids yet.

Where have I been? And Sung.

•July 14, 2008 • 2 Comments

They say life is what happens when you’re making plans….

In an ideal world, I could blog here and blog at Ningin. But for the time being, it has not worked out that way. Not long after I launched this blog, I was asked to contribute to Ningin, the Asian media exchange website. I’ve been busy, first covering the 72 Hour Shootout (where teams of Asian and non-Asian filmmakers make a short film in, yes, you guessed it, 72 hours) and posting blogs on really great Asian movies and media.

Here’s a link if you want to check it out:

http://ningin.com/elenastevenson

The rest of the summer has been hot, but enjoyable. I’m getting sweaty taking the kids to the playground. My mental sweat is freelance work and continuing to hone my latest screenplay. I start a weekend job soon. Can I just have more hours in the day, please?

It seems no matter how busy I am, I take time out to keep up with the highjinks of Adolescentus Eternus–my favorite actor, Sung Kang. For the unenlightened, his films include “The Motel,” “The Fast and the Furious 3:Tokyo Drift,” “Better Luck Tomorrow,” and “Finishing the Game.” If you’re a fan, or just like hilarious crazy stories from junior high, check this out:

http://www.alivenotdead.com/mrkangsta

You don’t have to join alivenotdead to read the blog. His stuff is just a raw, clean, cheesy ball of fun. He also has a blog at http://sungkang.com, but it’s more about issues and things he found on YouTube.

But that’s all for now. I get ideas for more blogs, but until there are more hours in the day, they’re parked.

House Keeping, Shining with Pride

•June 28, 2008 • 3 Comments

I have a split personality in terms of keeping house. I like a clean house, but the effort to get it clean just seems like too much trouble. I felt that way before becoming a mom, but it’s even more so now. Remember, both of my kids are in diapers, and I work from a home office. My fellow writer/homemaker Erma Bombeck (God rest her soul) joked that Good Housekeeping revoked her subscription. I tell people: I don’t get the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Oh well. Some people clean for five hours a day, every day, just to have a perfectly organized showplace of a house. Please. Do you have nothing better to do?

But this week, I am drawing a little halo around my head. Hubby and I shampooed the carpets for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long. And it has made such a difference in how the house looks and feels. Of course, we had to rent the professional machine from Home Depot. Jeremy used to run a Home Depot Tool Rental, so going in to that department has a familiar feel, and I can always banter with the guys behind the desk.

My stream of consciousness has taken me on a rabbit trail. Have you ever heard a second-hand happening that was so funny, you felt like you were there, and kept laughing about it for a long time afterward? Well, when Jeremy worked at Home Depot, he had a guy named Denny working for him. Nice guy, married, but liked to flirt. One Friday night, Denny reportedly told all the guys, “It’s Frrrrriiiie-day night, fellas. Go out and get-cha some!” The image of that particular guy saying that in such a goofy voice just really got me going. Again, you could say, “You had to be there,” but I wasn’t even there! I guess this is testament to the power of my imagination.