Tuesday, September 29, 2009

the truth about integers



From the ages of 4- 10, I went to an expensive private school where I was a compulsive over-achiever and held straight A's in every subject. I remember crying hysterically over my first C grade but what the grade was for escapes me. I loved math and at the time I left this school in the middle of fifth grade, I was the fastest timed multiplication test-taker. I could do a hundred problems in less than a minute. I had started on long division and fractions and loved working out perfectly divided solutions with no remainder, however if there were a remainder I would coolly write 23 / 4 = 5 R3 or something along those lines. I had never had difficulty with math and at one point claimed it to be one of my favorite subjects along with science and spelling. But then Christmas Break in the 5th grade happened and I was informed that when school was back in session I would not return to my private school. I would in fact be starting at a public school in North Hollywood but that was really exciting because I could wear pants instead of dresses.
When I showed up to Rio Vista in the middle of fifth grade in the middle of a racially divided playground, wearing pants was not so exciting anymore. Within the first two days of school I got in a fight and was humiliated in front of the entire lunchroom. I was one of two white girls in my class and the other one didn't care the new girl. I learned quickly that it was not cool to be smart at this school and the focus on this school was how tough you were. In class, the kids were just beginning to learn their times table and all other subjects were two years behind what I had been learning just two weeks before arriving. I became bored, unchallenged and anxious of looking too smart, not wanting to show anyone up or seem like a teacher's pet. Somewhere in here, I sunk into an apathetic attitude towards grades and school. I let my grades drop and remember forcing myself not to do homework, just to see if I could get away with it, to see if it mattered, or maybe just to fit in. Sure there were a couple of over achievers in the class and I'm not trying to say these public school kids were lazy. But their priorities were different, not to mention their home lives. A lot of them were first generation American, a lot of them came from single-parent homes, and no one had money. The kids that were over-achievers were crucified on the playground and most of them remained hanging onto the outside while peering in at the rest of us. It was a lonely existence and I didn't want any of it. There was enough desolation at home.
So I gave up for a while. I made a purposeful effort to quit. Then in 7th grade I was sent to Catholic school and they were learning decimals and fractions and word problems and I was lost. Had I stayed at private school and went to Catholic school, I would have surely surpassed what they were learning in the 7th grade at St. Charles. But had I not had a year and a half at Rio Vista I would have gone to Catholic school without knowing how to stand up for myself and without the knowledge and experience of life that none of those Catholic kids had. I am eternally grateful for my time at Rio Vista and consider it one of the best parts of my "education." However, I never truly gained back my love for math. I struggled and was sent to tutors in 7th and 8th grade while spending the summers in between with another tutor and mentor. In high school I received a D in Freshman math and after the threat of summer school became a reality, regretfully I managed to cheat my way through the rest of it.
I am trying to study math for the GRE and for a moment today I got caught up in an actual excitement of a math review. For a second I got back that feeling of being excited and proud and also shocked that I remembered what I was looking at. But just before I got past fractions, my stomach started to turn and I put the study guide away. There is a frustration, an anxiety and fear that I am having trouble facing. I think it may be too late to score this GRE. If anything I'll take the test as a practice. But the real work has just begun-
trying to understand the truth about integers and me.

Friday, September 18, 2009

happy birthday to us...

dear handsome,

you're just too good to be true
can't take my eyes off of you...

Thanks for being my favorite gift every year.
Happy Birthday, Mike.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time for a Visit

Homesick 1
Tony 0
It's time for a visit to the old five and dime.
Nothing makes you homesick quite like a cold and the birthday blues.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

bath time

i have a cold and it won't let me stop sneezing
i want to scratch my ears out and my throat feels like it is pulsating
i decide to take a bath for the first time in my new apartment
as i looked up at the ceiling of my bathroom, I was struck by just how much space there was
I thought, wow, I have such high ceilings and then i realized that i was taking a bath in my own new york apartment
sometimes i think i spend so much time figuring out what i want for my future and how to get it
that i forget to stop and acknowledge what i've already accomplished
i always dreamed about living in new york in a cute apartment
and not only do i have that but i live with a man who can fix, rig, and create any amount of space we think of
and my apartment is cute. its really cute
and its clean
i don't have a roach or rat infestation or mildew or mold collecting in the ceilings
so for today i think i can tell myself well done and give it a rest.

Monday, September 7, 2009

so so so very tired

long weekend, long day, and amazingly after two attempts at shopping i still have no proper shoes to wear to work. my laptop is shitting the bed and i'm trying to find the focus...
checklist of accomplishments today:
cooked breakfast
washed dishes
cleaned apartment, including windows, vacuuming, kitchen floor
re-folding all items in closet
organized coffee table
went for three + mile run
ate leftovers
read 60 pages in a book for AMC
studied Spanish
studied a little bit of math and prefixes for GRE
looking for presentable outfit....

Saturday, September 5, 2009

for lindsay

after reading my friend lindsay's blog i was reminded of a poem i wrote over a year ago after a trip to New Orleans. I miss my friend terribly and am so so envious of her focus and ambition and courage. so for lindsay, i wanted to post this performance poem. as a sidenote, i cut my hair six months after performing it.

The Aftermath Barber Shop: The Notion of a Haircut
By Tony Anthony

They say that the first thing a woman does after a heartbreak is to cut her hair
Me…I like to let it grow-
Long and unruly with lots of split ends and sometimes roots-
Put back on my size ten boots
and walk that pavement like a misguided punishment-
Damn that concrete.
They say that a haircut is liberation
As if my Medusa tendrils were a knotted web of broken promises and rehearsed apologies deceiving me for all that hard time.
Kind of like the floor of a familiar Congress
Governing shackles for an identity that no longer exists-
The handcuffs between “us and we” and “you and I”-
Belie what is meant to be “me”
Some women color their hair as if to reintroduce themselves to a new world-
a world that is unaware of the sins of the former hair-
A type of delousing of the soul.
I was once blonde for six months.
Chop, burn and dreadlock it all away
To keep them bullshit memories at bay
I will not choke by the noose of soiled sheets
Wash. Rinse. Condition. Repeat.
I prefer to cut my hair myself, keep it uneven and untamed to remind me of the series of tragedies and comedies from where I was born
And sometimes I reach around and pull the tips of my hair dangling down my back just to see how far I’ve come
From all the rights and wrongs and mistakes I’ve done.
Split ends wave like a flag of triumphs and defeats
I tug them gently to honor their strength.
Wash. Rinse. Condition. Repeat.
Or maybe a haircut is just that.
The cutting of or releasing of what is essentially a dead cell
Or perhaps a healing of the ego
A reconstruction of the heart
A revival of the poker face-
Never underestimate the poker face.
We venture down an exhausted country
Fragile with the weight of loss
We enter its bullet wound still bleeding almost three years later
But somewhere on a lawless street with the car windows down and my hair in my face
I hear the sounds of Rebirth rumbling in the distance
A bone-shaking bass and a cacophony of screeching horns in a city buried by the slit veins of a deep-rooted racism
Drowned in the water of a cancerous Earth
And something strikes me in this living ghost town
“The Aftermath Barber Shop” proudly hangs their sign on a sparse New Orleans street bordered by collapsed rooftops and re-painted Victorians and I smile at the unrelenting humor of this town
There is something victorious in this sign-
Like a bloody middle finger to the notion of defeat
And I start to think that maybe a haircut is just what we all need.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

what is at the core


today was the day i finally got back into exercising
i'm staying away from words like "running" or "training" or "losing weight"
though i'd be lying if i said that none of those words popped up as thoughts in my head
especially when i tried on a pair of jeans today that weren't as tight a couple months ago
but with my shin and my plantar fascitis and bone spur,
though in have been truly in pain,
i have also found in these injuries excellent excuses to let everything go
by everything i mean my eating healthy, my writing a memoir, my daily runs or workouts
which i realized are more like medicine than anything else
but i never gave enough credit to what those exercising times were really about
though i am constantly in a race against myself to "lose weight"
which is not a real goal since i never really set a number or size.
i just eyeball it, as if i'm cooking,
a pinch off here, a handful there
but of course it can all go to shit in an instance depending on my temperature.
in truth i only ever really lost about 5-10 pounds even when i was running obsessively
but my stress levels were lower, i wrote more and i felt good about myself
like even though i hadn't accomplished any life goals like writing a book or buying a house or traveling the world just yet
i, at the very least, made time for myself and accomplished a mini goal with every workout.

its not about how long the run is
or how many minutes on the watch
or how many calories you burn
but its about finding the core
telling yourself that everything else can wait because you are what needs to be focused first before anything else can get done and get done well, correctly and with the attention it deserves;
accomplishing other goals with the confidence of someone who has already accomplished one for the day.
its about what's at the center and making sure its you
but being mindful of the world around you and steering away from self-centerdness
steering away from a mindset that distorts relationships, perceptions and betrays what is really underneath, belies true emotions and glosses over fears with anger or self pity
but finding a balance or perhaps THE balance
by focusing the self first in a way that frees up the mind
and allows us to do all things with love, even the tough things.

this time around i will exercise because its what helps me find the balance
and i'd much rather have my sanity and days that feel good and relationships that are healthy
than a size 6 dress.