Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Prince & Elizabeth

'Bones' in Chinatown

Tiki Barber

Tiki Barber, a member of our school's board, made an appearance at school last week. He spoke about our literacy initiatives and the difference books can make in people's lives. 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sidewalk Politics

Thoughts on this statement?
Comment away....

Take Your Wife to Work Day

Last week, I invited Ainsley into my classroom for the first time since we moved to New York. We had talked about making this happen last year but our work schedules never aligned in a way that warranted a visit.

Ainsley got to watch me teach two blocks and to be honest, I was a bit nervous. Not that I anticipated things going wrong but simply because I truly value her opinion. Over the years, I've become immune to visitors, observers and random folks coming in and out of my classroom. However, this observation, was different. It required a sense of vulnerability, exposing a big piece of who I am to the person I care most about. It's easy to tell stories about my kids and experiences from the convenience of my couch with a loosened tie but to have your wife in your classroom is another story altogether.


It was truly amazing to watch Andrew teach. The kids obviously respected him and were engaged in his lesson.  Sporadically throughout the lesson the kids had the opportunity to ask me questions.  I was impressed by the depth of their questions ranging from "What's your favorite book?" to "Have you seen Mr. Sundberg cry?"  Between lesson Andrew and I accompanied them to recess.  Here I found myself surrounded by 5th, 6th and 7th graders asking me questions about myself and Mr. Sundberg.  The highlight of recess was watching the kids partake in their usual recess activities: singing and "getting light."  The girls stood in a huddle singing- complete with harmonies and back up vocals.  The boys circled up to "get light"- a style of improv dancing, step and beat making.  It was incredible to watch!!  These kids are the real deal!  

I left the school with a smile from ear to ear.  I had stepped into Andrew's daily world, fell in love with his kids, and seen Andrew teach a powerful lesson.  I am so glad I went. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

This was taken in an old photo booth at Seattle Center while seeing The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008


These are a couple shots from a concert that will be hard to forget. 

Back in the day and early in our relationship, almost 5 years ago now, Ainsley and I went to a Deathcab for Cutie concert. They played in Seattle at the Showbox, during which I experienced the initial thoughts and emotions of falling in love. During a drawn out and beautiful jam of Transatlaticism, I held Ainsley close and thought I had died and gone to heaven. 

As we continued dating, we caught every DCFC show that went down in both Seattle and Portland. This eventually led to our song choice of Transatlanticism as our wedding march. We had some good friends (members of a band called Jubilee - check them out) play a version of the song live from the balcony of a beautiful church in Seattle's University District. The song was absolutely gorgeous, bringing myself to tears as it drifted out over the crowd below. The song is a slow and building crescendo that gives me goosebumps each time I hear it again. At one point, the song repeats the line "I need you so much closer." This is the choreographed moment when the rear doors of the church were flung open and my beautiful bride stood beaming in all her glory. As my friend Curtis harmonized these words with his now wife Grace,  Ainsley and her father slowly approached the alter as I fought welling emotion.

All that said, DCFC holds a special place in our relationship. It seems cliche to have "our song," but there is a power in this one for us. We've followed the band from their small indie roots in Bellingham, WA to the mass-following they have today. Ben Gibbard, the lead singer, has a way of stating simple truths of life that most people can relate to in a profound and poetic fashion. 

As the years have rolled by, we have tried to catch as many of their shows as humanly possible. When we first moved to New York, the band was on a touring hiatus. We missed Seattle and the music scene that it provided. We caught a show here and there but nothing seemed to compare to our love of the band and the city that played a part in our story. Then last spring, DCFC dropped a new album and they began touring again. They were slated to play in Brooklyn at a venue we had heard much about but hadn't visited; McCarren Pool. A former swimming pool that sat abandoned and derelict for many years, it was recently converted to a concert venue. The stage sits on the edge of the pool and the concert-goers crowd the depths of the massive concrete wall once under feet of water. 

Added bonus: free! We braved the Brooklyn crowd and bottle necked our way through groping and frisking security guards toward the stage. Finding a spot on the cement floor, we endured two openers and a plethora of sound and equipment issues. Finally, as dusk crept in, our Seattle favorites appeared, greeting the wall of cheers with sheepish grins and subtle, one-handed waves.

It was on! Here we were, 3000 miles from home, living in this great city and hearing one of our favs. As they began to play a few things seemed apparent:
* The band appeared to be in a fight of some sort
* They were playing well, but with no energy
* The horrific sound issues continued throughout the set
* The longer the drama continued, the more agitated they became
* First the lead guitar went out, then the keyboard - it was musicians playing fiercely with no cooperation from the towering amps. 

As the technical difficulties and perceived disunity of the bandmates continued, Gibbard finally snapped showing an uncharacteristic emotional side that Ainsley and I had never seen. As he led into, what was supposed to be an impressive guitar riff, the sound blanked out as Gibbard retaliated by swinging his guitar off his shoulder and violently slamming it onto the stage. The stunned crowd seemed to pause in confusion but quickly erupted into a barrage of cheers. This seemed to catalyze the fire set within Gibbard and he proceeded to rip the mic from the stand and run back and forth across the stage looking more Jagger-ish and less indie. 

Ainsley and I locked shocked eyes as if seeing a ghost. Every show we had ever seen included, at most, a slight sway from the band members bodies and a few hours of shoe gazing but this?! We were loving it and felt as if we were being shown some sort of reality TV where we got to see the authenticity of the band's "real life."

More antics:
* Ben standing on the drum set beating his chest like Tarzan
* Ben kneeling at the edge of the stage, touching the hands of the crazed teenage girls in an Elvis-like fashion.
*Ben running from stage left to stage right repeatedly
* Ben swing his mic in violent, arching circles

As we watched in awe, the night took an even more unexpected twist: lightning crash. A windstorm began to ensue, whipping dust into everyone's eyes and eventually toppling the Brooklyn Brewery tents scattered around the former pool. 

More lighting. 
Thunder claps seemed to explode in our heads. 
More wind. 
Then.....the rain. 
This was no Northwest sprinkle either. It was as if an entire ocean was suspended above our heads until the perfect moment and then suddenly unleashed. Every person in the crowd was instantly soaked - head to toe.
More lightning.
More thunder.

Throughout the mayhem, the band attempted to play on until a middle-aged, balding stage manager had to come on stage and put on the "bad guy badge."

"We're sorry to do this to you all but we have to shut this place down."

"Booooooooooo! Noooooooooooo! Keeeeep playing!"

"For the safety of each of you and the members of the band, we have to shut down. It's too dangerous to be out here in a lightning storm with all these metal beams above the musicians. Thank you all for coming out and supporting the music but you gotta go home."

The band quickly dropped their instruments and ran off stage. Hardcore fans stayed hoping for a weather change and an encore. We fought through the crowd and caught a glimpse of the band being shooed into their monstrous tour bus with the door quickly shutting behind them.

Next mission: get home.

Laughing hysterically we ran through mobs of people, jumping in puddles as we went. We finally made it to the Bedford stop of the L train and had to actually wait in line for 5 minutes to even get underground to catch the subway. Everyone seemed to be wearing similar dazed and playful looks on their faces.

The train finally came and amidst other waterlogged commuters, we shivered and exchanged understanding head nods. 

- For more pictures from the show, check out this link:


- Acrylic on canvas - 

If I had a chance to chat with Honest Abe, I'm sure these would be among his first words.

I miss her

Friday, September 12, 2008

Trip to Philly

Eric and Emily Marshall - dear friends of ours. 

The Marshall's are from PA and invited us down to Eric's folks place in the burbs of Philadelphia in July. We had an awesome weekend roaming the streets, cooking good food, and sleeping in. I'm such a dork but one of my highlights from the weekend was seeing the backyard ablaze with fireflies. Fireflies! I haven't seen those since I was 5 living in Dallas, Texas.

Eric is a talented musician and singer/songwriter. He's about to start playing shows in New York this next week under the name, The Early Hours. Check out his material and show him some love:

The 6th grade team

One of the last days of school this past year, we took our kids on a field trip to a small theatre in Harlem. Afterwards, we spent some time at Jackie Robinson Park and let the kids blow off some steam. 

One thing led to another and soon we were jumping off this stage to capture the most ridiculous picture. As gravity set in, one of us bit the dust. I won't call them out but I'll just say it wasn't me.

From left to right:
Me, Shaquana, Kristen, Jason

Magnolia Bakery

Dan, Alycia, Ainsley and I all made a stop at Magnolia Bakery in the West Village after church. The girls waited in line for 20 minutes while Dan and I ran to the nearest corner store to pick up some milk and paper cups. By the time we got back we still had another 10 minutes in line where Dan flirted with old ladies to get them to take our picture. We each grabbed some cupcakes and head to a dimly lit park near by. We enjoyed our snacks while eavesdropping on the conversations of a group of cross dressers doing their hair and makeup.

Ainsley's 25th Birthday

We surprised Ains with a dinner and night out for her birthday. These are some of our closest friends in the city: (from left to right)

Dan, Jeff, AK, me, ains, Stacy, Mel

Turtle Pond in Central Park

Alycia borrowed our camera and took some incredible shots while gallivanting through Central Park. This is a shot of Turtle Pond, named for....well, housing many turtles under the floating grass and lily pads.

Turtle Pond also happens to hold great memories for me. From the months of March-June last year, I commuted, roughly 6 miles one way on my bike. Much of that ride was through the park and each morning, I would pull off and sit on a secluded park bench with this same view. At 6:15 each morning, it proved to be a place to gather my thoughts and be still before venturing toward another day in Harlem.
Alycia got to come to town just before each of our school years got up and running. It was her first time to the city and we definitely  made the most of our time together. This is us on the 6 train. We miss you Alycia! Come visit again.

View of the UN from Long Island City

Weird. On a bulletin board in Fabulous Fannies - east village

Subway sharpie graffiti

Community Circle

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Morning message

Morning thoughts

written last Spring

Rolling out of bed, groggy and pissed
"One more snooze baby?"
Eyes lazy and resisting opening with all their might
One pant leg on
coffee percolating
lunch in bag - now in backpack
wash my hair
find my wallet - unplug the cell
socks now - argyle, one at a time
shoes laced
tie cinched
check hair
adjust hair
"I need a haircut"
check hair again
gear up the Ipod
stumble down stairs
Strolling into darkness
"I'll try the 6 to the 5 train this morning - something new"
Spill my coffee in the middle of commuters' sleeping feet
pulling into the next station, I watch it trickle maliciously toward another army of shoes and bags
two napkins seem futile.
turnstile hits my thigh, up stairs to the dingy sprawl of the Bronx
the BX-19 floats mockingly by.
a good excuse for a morning stroll I suppose
60 feet above the East River, I am in love
in love with this city - its people
a Pez dispenser head nod comes from Xavier and Alyn on the next bus - smiling ridiculously through the smudged window
"Wake up, wake up" pours through my headphones and I heed its advice
a mob of pigeons float upward eclipsing the brick high rises towering in the distance
morning air swallows me whole
perfect morning

Kite-biking In Philly

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Student quote of the day

Sept. 10, 2008

Quote from a student who was quite a struggle last year. He came back and flattered me with a guised insult.

"Yo Mr. Sundberg, this year is going great!"

"Really? Why's that?"

"Well, first off, you got funnier and your hair got....well, better."

one of the fleeting days of summer