It's ThisAmericanLife. I'm Ira Glass. Each week on our show of course we choose a theme, bring you different kinds of stories on that theme.
Today's show, Middle School. A 14-year-old from California who just got out of middle school asked for a show on the horror that is middle school.
We thought, you know, that's a pretty good idea. That is a place with a lot of stories. We've arrived at Act Three of our show. Act Three, Mimis in the Middle. The place that Domingo Martinez went to middle school, they still called it junior high. And he says that his sisters did something to cope with any feelings of inferiority they might have otherwise felt in their new school with all those new kids.
When they started junior high, my sisters, Mary and Margie, invented the Mimis. They were entering the sinister world of teenage girls, which in the mid 1980s in Brownsville, Texas, was tinged with border town racism. Instead of being ashamed of who they were, my sisters decided to create a polite fiction and invited everyone to participate.
First they died their brown-black hair blond until it turned the color and brittleness of hay. Then, they began dressing in Sergio Valente and Gloria Vanderbilt. And finally, to cap it off, they decided to call each other simply Mimi. A typical conversation between them went like this. "Mimi, do you like my new Jordache jeans?" "Yes Mimi, I do." "Do I look rich in my new Nike's Mimi?" "Mimi, you look like a tennis player, Mimi." "I know Mimi. Maybe I should make Mom buy me a racket."
It was really that simple. The Mimis made a conscious decision that they would be rich and white, even if their family wasn't. In other words, Marge and Mary had a small break from reality that we all participated in to help them through junior high. We all helped in creating the Mimis.
At the time, the rest of the family had not fully realized that our job, as relatively new Americans and, worse yet Texans, was to be as white as possible. And we honestly didn't see their delusion as anything other than another bewildering tactic in our sisters' quest for a higher level of superior fashion. Just teenage girls doing what teenage girls do.
There had been a time when our family had been rich by barrio standards because our grandpa, dad's stepfather, fought in the Korean War and used his GI money to start a trucking business when he got back. He married grandma, who was widowed from her first marriage at age 16, and gave both her and my dad citizenship.
My siblings and I, we were all born in Brownsville as Americans, but really didn't understand what that meant. Then grandpa died in 1980, and our world began to crumble. The trucking business began to disintegrate around dad, and he was started on his slow road towards desperation and religion. Meanwhile, the Mimis had made their decision to be two, blue-blooded, trust-funded, tennis buddies from Connecticut accidentally living in Brownsville, Texas, with us, a poor Mexican family they had somehow befriended while undergoing some Dickensian series of misfortunes.
No one acted like it was peculiar, especially those in the family who didn't speak English or could not understand the Mimis when they showed up at family gatherings. [SPEAKING SPANISH], one of the Mimis would say to an uncle or cousin, who more often than not would linger lasciviously around them, at first conflicted by the idea of being turned on by so young a relative. And then mentally calculating just how distantly related they were and tabulating his odds of scoring with this new white chick who just happened to show up at this barrio party.
"Mimi, how did you like my Spanish?"
"Oh Mimi, it's getting really good."
"Mimi, do you think they understood me?"
"Oh Mimi, who cares?"
Soon, the Mimis were buzzing at a fever pitch, intoxicating everyone who came near and cut a whiff of the Mimis' Anais Anais perfume. We had all seen the commercials on network television while watching Dallas or KnotsLanding. And it was a forbidden fragrance for rain depressed English women with secret, muscular boyfriends who drove Jaguars dangerously through unpaved, one-laned Scottish roads. So the Mimis had to have it, and they found it at the local JC Penney and had Mom pay for it.
Me and my brother Dan, and our older sister Sylvia, we just kind of stank from the heat and dealt with it. Even Mom developed her own fascination with the Mimis, like she couldn't believe her luck now that she was related to royalty. So she was always ready for an air-conditioned trip to the mall. She took the little clothes budget reserved for us boys, my brother and me, and added it into the Mimis' wardrobe because to her, it was a sign of status for the family that the Mimis looked their best. None of the rest of us would question it, even though it felt wrong.
I was often left with the Mimis' recently stylish hand-me-downs. No one else in my grade school was remotely label conscious or capable of reading in English really, so it passed unnoticed that most of my clothes were made for glamorous, junior high school girls. Almost every child at my school came from recently immigrated families, kids so poor they'd save half their free lunch to share with their younger siblings at home, their heads shaved to rid them of lice.
My best friend, Arthur, he noticed though. He was part black and part Mexican, had just moved to Brownsville from some big city slum in Michigan where his mother's boyfriend had been employed at a GM factory, and he read labels. "Hey Dom," he said, "yo man. You're wearing a girl's shirt. Or is Esprit making baggy boy's shirts now too?" So to change the subject, I slugged him high in the chest and ran away. He chased me down to punch me back, and left me crying in my girl's blouse.
If she had any guilt about giving the Mimis the lion's share of the clothing budget, I imagine the justification my mother probably used was that my older brother and I would just ruin our clothes working with Dad under the greasy trucks. It made better sense for the Mimis to be in high fashion than for the feral boys to wreck new clothes.
"Mimi, you look just like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. You should join the dance team at school." "I know Mimi. I think so too." "Mimi, I think you should dye your hair back to its original color, ash." "I know Mimi. I'm trying."
During this time, my brother Dan's eyesight was so bad he couldn't read the blackboard in school and constantly ran into corners or short skinny people. People thought he was Asian he squinted so much. Every photo of him taken in junior high, he looks like he's trying to see into the photographer's eyes through the camera lens. This of course goes entirely unnoticed, and it is the younger Mimi, Mary with the 20-20 vision, who gets vanity glasses with her name etched in gold script in the corner. Dan wouldn't get classes until he was in the military when he was 17.
Eventually, Dad's failure at navigating the business and providing for his family intruded on the Mimis' fantasy. Dad made a decision that as soon as school ended, Mom would take the Mimis and Sil, and drive them to California to participate in the seasonal grape harvest with Dad's cousins, people vaguely related to grandma through marriage, I think. They would be treated like adults there, paid the same as everyone else.
Mom, I remember, was horrified at the implications, at the shame of having to send her virginal and royal daughters out to the fields. Plus, Dad's extended family out in California were very different from us, wild and frightening and Californian. Texas Mexicans and California Mexicans are very different from each other, like the Scottish and the Irish. The Mimis, though, were undaunted, did not understand the complications. "Mimi, we're going to California?" "Oh my god Mimi. We're going to be Valley girls." "Mimi, gag me with a spoon Mimi." "Mimi, your roots are showing." We packed up Mom, the Mimis, and Silvia in the beige, 1980 Pontiac Bonneville, already an antique on its second engine and failing transmission. And they drove out of Brownsville.
A year later, I took this ride as well, and also ended up picking grapes for the summer. That we were migrant workers for that period didn't occur to me, nor to anyone else. That label would never stick, could never stick. We couldn't descend to that level. We just had to do it to help out Dad. That was all. But it was too much for the Mimis, the reality of this first trip.
Sadly, I think it was childhood's end for the Mimis. The vineyards had somehow inverted their secret garden, and the low door in the wall had closed shut behind them. When they first reached California, the Mimis did indeed become Valley girls, the hippest, cutest, best dressed migrant workers of that year, and very likely for many years to come.
The older Mimi, Marge, continued to dress like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance out in the fields, where the sun sizzled any inch of exposed skin. She wore a spaghetti-strapped, red and white striped Esprit top, white cotton shorts, and a matching headband with her red and white, leather Nike tennis shoes and took pictures of the vineyards and the workers with her Canon AE-1.
Eventually though, even she started dressing like the rest of the migrant workers, wearing long-sleeved collared shirts buttoned all the way to the neck, thick un-stylish denim and work boots, with a bandanna covering her nose and mouth, or else she would have died of heat stroke. There were no photos taken of that.
Mary, the younger Mimi, did not fare any better. Her vanity glasses with the fake lenses were scratched well beyond recovery. Her roots grew out, and her hair turned a lighter brown as a result of the heat and the pesticides of the grape fields of southern California. The hard work went on all summer, and eventually it became bitter enough to breach even the walls of the Mimis' perfectly constructed fantasy.
And so sadly, eventually even they were humiliated, and the illusion of wealth that had kept the family's idea of itself buoyant was deflated. When they returned to Brownsville, as happy as we were to see them, no one ever mentioned the Mimis again. They were gone, and it was Marge and Mary that returned in their place. Mary rubbing her nose with the palm of her hand from allergies, and snapping at anyone who tried to talk to her. And Marge, who never went back to California, and took a job at the bank the following summer instead.
I was sorry to see the Mimis go. We all were. When they were at their peak, the Mimis had been capable of creating a real sort of magic around them, enchanting both people and places so that you could be looking at the same dreary landscape as them, the same terrible and hopeless event. And while you might be miserable and bitter, they would be beaming, enthralled, and enthusiastically hopeful. And then, if you got near them, or were blessed enough to maybe talk to them, you would walk away feeling the same way as they felt too.
They were a gift to everyone who was lucky enough to get caught in their Anais Anais, the Mimis. They made all of us Americans.
Domingo Martinez, reading an excerpt from his memoir, TheBoyKingsofTexas, which is going to be published by Lyons Press next July.
Presentation on theme: "OPEN HOUSE 2014-2015 Mrs. Peterson Coordinate Algebra/Analytic Geometry A."— Presentation transcript:
1 OPEN HOUSE 2014-2015 Mrs. Peterson Coordinate Algebra/Analytic Geometry A
2 About Me From Birmingham, AL Undergrad at Auburn University Masters Degree from University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Certified Math 6 th – 12 th grade Gifted Certified Taught 8 th Grade Math in Birmingham Part of the DMS 8 th grade faculty for 3 years Married 4 years; Husband is a structural engineer
3 What is Coordinate Algebra/ Analytic Geometry A? High school math class combining topics from Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 Students are completing freshman level math as well as some sophomore math as 8 th graders. That is why it is a “hyper-accelerated” course. Students are a year ahead of their peers and completing their high school math at a faster pace than most other students Class sets of textbooks & Online access to the Coordinate Algebra & Analytic Geometry textbooks
4 Daily Class Routine Students write their new homework assignments and important dates in their agendas Answer the HW questions together Teach new lesson for the day or group task/activity or quiz or test Practice new lesson or begin HW
5 Homework Procedures Random HW Checks HW is graded based on completion of the assignment (0%, 50%, or 100% complete) If absent, students may look at my teacher blog, ask a friend about missed assignments, and collect missing worksheets from bins in back of the room.
6 Grading Categories EOCT 20% Test 45% Quizzes/Tasks 15% Exams 10% Homework 10% Exams are cumulative. One is given at the end of each academic quarter.
7 Standardized Testing Acc Math students will take the regular 8 th grade CRCTs (now called EOGs) at the end of the school year. They will also be required to take an End of Course Test (EOCT) in May in order to get high school credit for Coordinate Algebra. Students receive pass/fail credit for high school. Their grade this year does not get calculated into their GPA.
8 High School Placement 9 th grade math placement is based on test scores only! No retakes No opportunity to regain points 9 th grade science placement also depends upon math placement
9 Walton High School Placement Freshman – Analytic Geometry B/ Advanced Algebra Sophomore – Pre-Calculus Junior – AP Calculus Senior – Multivariable Calculus
10 Here are some great websites to try when you need help in math! Ask Dr. Math http://mathforum.org/students/ Find instructions on math topics http://www.aaamath.com/ Math questions answered here http://www.mathnerds.com/mathnerds/index.asp Cool videos that explainmath concepts! http://www.brainpop.com/math/ Math help with games http://www.coolmath.com/home.htm Math help by subject http://www.math.com/ A mathematical digital library http://www.mathdl.org/mathDL/
11 Walton Math Website… http://www.waltonhigh.org/departments.cf m?subpage=99696 http://www.waltonhigh.org/departments.cf m?subpage=99696
12 Student/Parent Resources Help Sessions ◦ By appointment only ◦ Start at 8:20 am Syllabus was sent home at the start of the year. I can provide an extra copy if needed Teacher Blog Email: firstname.lastname@example.org@cobbk12.org