The Week of Drinking Wine Straight from the Bottle

It was a long week of teaching and hard work. By Friday afternoon, my concentration was shot; the only work I trusted myself to do correctly was uploading receipts into Quickbooks. I took yesterday completely off and went holiday shopping at Handmade Arcade, a giant arts+crafts fair at Pittsburgh's convention center. I found unique gifts for family members, supported local artists and artisans, and saw lots of friends. Not a bad way to spend a cold December Saturday!


Here's what captured my attention this week...

I'm reading: ...more student papers. But I did find a delightful article by one of my favorite writers in an old T Magazine we had lying around the house. In "School's Out" Alice Gregory visited a German waldkita, or forest kindergartens. Kindergartners spend the majority of their school day outdoors in city parks, playing with the sticks and rocks they find out in nature rather than with toys brought along by teachers. I was charmed by the following description of snack time:

By the time a secluded spot had been chosen for breakfast, the children’s fingernails were black with dirt, and although it was exceptionally cold nobody was complaining. Instead they all arranged their backpacks into a circle and wandered off in various directions to pee semi-privately, each one undressing out of their snowsuits without help. They returned and took out small Tupperware containers full of fresh produce from their backpacks. Two girls, both under 5, began arranging the fruit into an elaborate mandala atop a wooden tray. They piled carrot coins in the middle and surrounded them with concentric circles of tangerines, bell pepper slices and cucumber sticks; dates went in one corner and apple chunks in another, with a scattering of walnuts on the opposite side of the plate. [The teacher] had encouraged them to organize the food “neatly” but provided no further instructions. The girls did all this slowly and wordlessly, rearranging items when they didn’t like a particular combination. The end result was as beautiful as anything you’d see in a restaurant.

After a week of student emails asking basic questions that could be answered by reviewing the syllabus, I'm seduced by the self-sufficiency of the forest kindergarteners. 

I'm listening to: The Black Power Mixtape 1967-75 Playlist. I showed my students a clip of the documentary when I taught them about the Black Power movement on Monday. It's a powerful and insightful film, and the music--scored by Ahmir 'Questlove' Thompson of The Roots--is a best-of-the-era mix of tracks. 

I'm watching: On Friday night, we went to see Coco, the new Pixar film, with friends. It was a hit with all four of us. The movie takes place on the evening of Dia de los Muertos, and most of the action occurs in the vividly animated Land of the Dead as the protagonist attempts to discover why his great-great-grandmother banned anyone in the Rivera family from ever listening to or playing music. Coco is a reflection on how we remember the legacies of individuals and of families, and raises questions that we as a society are currently preoccupied with: how does legacy and memory become history? And how is historical memorialization undone, and with what effects? And for whose benefit?

What are you reading, listening to, or watching this week?