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In year 13, a class stuffed animal
Our emotional support stuffy
My first year of teaching, I inherited two pillows in my classroom. They became a precious commodity and thus the source of fights. As I developed systems to share pillows equitably, I realized it was a lot of time to spend not doing school. Mo’ pillows, mo’ problems, as the Awesome Wife declared, and in year two, pillows went elsewhere.
Years later, the post-cat-ownership reno at home meant we could purchase upholstery, and I brought in a some of the discarded pillows. Mo’ pillows actually meant less problems, and today my classroom has five pillows, three blankets, and four comfy chairs, all hand-me-downs. If kids complain about assigned seats, I remind them they can get pretty comfy in the second part of class.
It’s comfort, but it can be emotional support. Some kids who get wrapped up in blankets are making their own hug, like others keep the backpack on all the time. I knew a school counselor with a weighted blanket to help kids fight anxiety. We see more every year, so my comfort objects are an attempt at combatting that.
Then the Wife won a stuffed dog at the Topsfield Fair (you know this) and named it Sassafrass after a cow we met. He was too deluxe to give to a niece, and how could we choose one. But our household already is at stuffed animal capacity. So I made a pitch to donate Sassafrass to the sixth grade.
I declared Sassafrass is non-binary, so I would say the kids kids LOVE them. We now start class picking a name at random to be the period’s caretaker. Even the tough boys accept Sassafrass, a few have really lit up and I’ve seen hugging, cuddling, even a little kissing. I hope they last forever because I really don’t want to have to submit a receipt for a stuffed animal in my materials budget. They say no furniture, but no particular mention of stuffies. It’s a big winner.
A NEW Urban Blah!!!
IT’S A NEW URBAN BLAH!!! Super excellent working with Lovisa again. I pitched this as a one-panel and she decided to slow down the story a little, and I love. The costumes were her idea, but I once lionized Sgt Pepper and had a huge thing for George, so I’m all aboard. As for the content, full-on art imitating life. Halloween can be a very scary time of year when chocolate-based candy is around.
Also, Vee has a substack, you should subscribe!
Jam of the Week
All it takes to become My New Favorite Band is to drop an album with multiple good tracks. Past winners I’ve mentioned include Kratzen, Minami Deutsch, Motrik, DIIV, and Gum Country. The newest holder of the title is DAIISTAR from Austin, Texas who has the best 2023 album I’ve yet heard. They call themselves noise rock, but I must live in a lot of noise because it sounds pretty poppy to me. It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about an album, and the first track should pretty well indicated whether you’ll like the album. Me, I like the album.
My Back Pages
Back before Facebook, I used to send out occasional mass emails with life updates, kind of like a Christmas letter in the spring. From “ch-ch-ch-changes” May 25, 1999:
hello, all. time for my semi-annual mass e-mail with updates galore. for those that aren't in the mood for the latest juicy bits, here are the bare essentials:1. new address & phone number 2. new job 3. apologies for not being in better contact 4. etc
It bugs me that I made the choice to decapitalize, I take points off when the kids do that now.
the house is great, a lot like the old place in brookline (similar layout, neighborhood you can walk around, lots of jews and delis nearby) except hardwood floors, not as humungous, less parking, better weather, on the second floor, landlord next door instead of upstairs, better lighting, and much cheaper. of course, that's because we're splitting two rooms three ways — it'll be me, jay, and cesha, essentially the same roommates as now minus the self-centered, malodorous [REDACTED], who i think i'll really like when we're no longer living together. fun guy, questionable person, horrible roommate. i mean, you know it's bad when i consider somebody dirty.
I guess I would say that “really like” is a strong descriptor.
tomorrow at 6 a.m., i report to my first of 34 days working as a set PA (production assistant) on a feature film entitled "loving lulu." people on set for tomorrow's shoot include me, my roommate cesha, a PA named corky, patrick swayze, and penelope ann miller (aka the mom in "kindergarten cop"). later this week, we'll catch up with the other star, melanie griffith. my job is to do whatever they tell me, which comprises EVERYTHING.
it's going to be super-hard work -- as in, a 14-hour day is considered getting out easy -- for decent money.
I think it paid $500/week for 75-hour weeks. I’d been so chronically underpaid at that point that I thought I was making bank.
and after 7 weeks, i'm unemployed again. HOWEVER, this is exactly the kind of opportunity that i moved to los angeles for. i'll be working on the set of a real film, with a sizable budget and full-fledged movie stars (granted, one of whom's star has fallen considerably since he told the cop from law & order never to put baby in a corner).
My boss was an abusive monster. But because it was the only set I’d been on, I thought, “Movies are just like that.” My next job was in television and everyone was insanely nice. Turns out I just had one horrible boss.
i've spent some time on-set before, PA-ing on a commercial and for some TV (like "simply quilts" and "the carol duvall show," which is a senior citizen doing arts and crafts — i learned how to make soap last week!). but this is the big time. and i'll be doing plenty of grunt-work for it.
RIP Carol Duvall, the first actual set I was on, back before HGTV evolved into Pimp My House.
i'm now settled enough that visitors are super-welcome. it's always sunny, the movie stars go to the same grocery stores as us, and the people of both genders are much more beautiful. oftentimes vapid, but nice to look at nonetheless.
My impression of LA after 5 months was not entirely accurate, but certainly not the whole story.
love and edamame (the trendy boiled soybeans i now eat as my one LA indulgence... well, that and the pager... and the breast implants... not to mention the coke habit..)
In 1999, the pager was more affordable than a mobile phone, but it was essential to have one or the other. The world would soon switch to phones, and soon thereafter I’d join the party as well. Loving Lulu never made it to theaters, debuting on the Starz network instead as Along for the Ride. I think my car makes a cameo appearance.