Monday, February 19, 2007

My dad called this morning to say it was 3 degrees and blowing snow in Massachusetts this morning. I told him it was bright and sunny here and I was going for a hike in my t-shirt and jeans.

"Wuss," he said.

"Jealous," I said.

The iceplant is beginning to bloom, a few magenta and yellow flowers scattered around the green hillsides. The cherry trees are coming into pink blossom. G and I went out to the Headlands and hiked on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. He took pictures of the rippling dazzled sea, white-slate-blue in the white sun. We drank coffee and listened to jazz on my car radio and talked about the Sopranos and I got an idea for a new book I'd like to write.

Last night I saw my Little Sister again. She'd gotten into a fight at school and was suspended for the next five days. Not much of a punishment, since she doesn't like school anyway. She says two Mexican girls jumped her. She has a scratch on her pretty cheek.

She wanted to come to my house and use my computer, so we did that. I knit while she MySpaced. then went out for pizza--we're on a quest to sample all the pizza places in the East Bay and find out which one is best. So far it's Extreme pizza on Shattuck, hands-down. Last night we went to 4-Star, which was okay, a bit undercooked. I got nervous because it's right next to the Serenaders Bar, which gets a little rowdy at times, and a parking lot where a lot of drug deals go down, which was ominously dark and quiet.

More than that, I worried about what kind of a role model am I being for her, and how can I encourage her to get engaged with school, find a passion, read? I can see that she's the kind of girl who could just slip unnoticed between the cracks in an overworked teacher's attention. She doesn't like school, she doesn't participate, and that makes the experience all the more dead and boring. I remember being bored and disaffected and hating school myself, at her age, but my family was so academic, and my reading skills so strong, (and my white middle-class privilege so entrenched) that I was just carried along. She doesn't have those advantages.

I didn't press the conversation, but I want to return to it with something constructive to say. And call her this week, when she'll be out of school and bored. There is nothing like a teenager to make me feel completely inadequate and dumb. Yes, it's good that I'm "hanging out" with her as a Big Sister, but it will take more than that to give her a good send-off into adulthood.

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