Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Barbara Anderson Haunts My Soul.

I'm not prepared to share every detail of the hive-like structure of my brain.
Wicked things are pounding savagely at the door.
If I were to speak frankly, trees, the fall, the aesthetic perfection of metamorphosis would crumble in my very image.
Fairy me from the vanity to better solitude. To less subtext. To fewer voices.
"I think you meant Ferry... but there's something so interesting in the..."

"Spiders and their webs find their way into every Goddamn poem in a college writing class!"
She was an inspired voice. Ridden hard by cigarettes and put away by a mediocre reception in third-rate rubbish - "But it's published goddammit and that means something!"
This is the way spiders make webs. Spiders make their webs in reminiscence and sappy goddamn nostalgia...
Spiders make their webs in longing for simpler times.
Spiders make their webs in over-used imagery - Think goddammit - there are goddamn jewels in there.

Somewhere amongst the webs.

Over distant hills I can see something fruitful.
There in the junk food beer casserole madness.

Sometimes it seems a simple shot in a lonely bathroom is the key.
Strong will like a wind - blowing like a goddamn hurricane in there.
Weak trees bend. Strong trees are upright.

A single lamp in a dark room - chain switch

Bulb flickers. Bulb flickers.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Insert Interesting Title Here

Teacher: Wo is me! I get paid nothing to do a very difficult job. Such is life. I will gladly bear this burden for the future of mankind. (Okay, that's a bit thick...)
Random Person: At least you get summers off!

If you teach, you've heard this exchange more than once. If you don't teach, you've still heard it. In fact, you've probably been Random Person.

I am going to anger many members of my profession here, but I am officially voicing my distaste for such a long break. I know, I know... I'm a traitor. But for me, this isn't good. I don't know what to do with myself. I go nuts. Literally.

This may come as a shock to some, but I don't trust myself alone with my thoughts. I have not always carried the most optimistic of outlooks. In truth, sometimes I am prone to find corners of my brain that should remain locked. I'll leave you to imagine the details of what that means. Too much detail defies logic.

I am planning some for next year. I have relaxed. I am anxious. I'm ready to go back. Not prepared... just ready.

There are research-based reasons too. Much of it suggests that a break of longer than 3 or 4 weeks creates a gap in student learning, and a significant regression of basic skills.

I've done this long enough to get it. We hammer literacy and mathematics. Hammer it deader than a Route 66 skunk lying next to a Route 66 ghost town. I'm not going to spin off on a rant about what we should be teaching - I'm just that for all the hammering, it sure is hard to concentrate on valid learning.

Speaking of learning experiences, I just returned from Albuquerque, where I was visiting my Grandmother and helping her to get some things in order.

I helped her buy a new Macbook, which I sufficiently covered with drool. I helped her take a bunch of stuff to recycling. Mainly, I just provided companionship. She needs that more and more these days.

While there, we were called to the VA hospital where my Grandpa is being treated for a serious infection in his foot. Weeks ago, the podiatrists said they needed to amputate, but that he wouldn't survive the surgery. Then they started pumping an armada of antibiotics in, but to no real avail. The purpose of this visit, though, was to meet with the ethics team. I didn't know such a thing existed, but knowing now what they do, I am glad they are there.

They sat us down and told us that treatment was failing. That no matter what they could do, he was likely to expire. They had very calm voices. They were very good teachers. They told us how each road would ultimately lead to the end.

But the real issue was that my Grandma had to give them permission to end all treatment and put him in hospice.

You see these sorts of things on the telly. I have watched a boatload of ER. But actually being there and seeing that happen... that was an experience. The rest of the week, I feel like I helped my Grandma come to terms with it. She is a very religious woman, and she felt as if she was playing God. I used my logical brain to convince her that in purely technical terms, playing God would be to keep him alive when the Universe was so obviously ready to receive him. Really, I just think his clock is out of juice. She is coming to peace with that. Still - my mind has been heavy with the questions of life and death and the ethics of each for a week or so now - and that's not always the easiest mouthful to swallow.

It's hard to think that maybe I am just entering that segment of life when this pops up more frequently. When you're a child and you lose a friend, it's pure tragedy. My friend Brian killed himself almost a decade ago - and it felt different then. When Nick passed, I felt as if my mind was more ready to accept that. Does each death we experience serve to prepare us for our own? It seems as if that is a side-effect of the cycle of life. If we continually live in fear of our terminus, then we are not free to accomplish much. The more you see it, the more ready to accept it as natural? I don't know. I think of soldiers in Iraq. My cousin is there now. They surely see their share - but does the fear leave them? Can it?

I can say with certainty that numbness never comes. The death of my Poppa hurt me. The death of my friend Brian hurt me. Nick, Father-in-law, unborn child... hurt, hurt, hurt. Without fail.

Our friend Ron was diagnosed this past week with Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Prognosis is not great.

See what I mean? If I was teaching right now, I'd have no time to write this.

31 years old next week. Who'd'a thunk?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

For my friends in TUSD

I am prone to deep states of worry. I should at least admit that as disclaimer. Something, though, is indeed rotten in the state of Denmark. And by Denmark, I mean Education in Arizona. And I nod to those that rely on higher ed for your welfare, as my family does... But this is for those unsung. Those weary. Those forgotten.

I know I'm not alone in crying foul. Nor do I do so with easy heart. I am a product of this state's educational system, and would challenge anyone to use me an example of the chinks in its armor. In truth, no state is infallible as long as we deny our 10th amendment rights to sovereignty in education. Blah, blah... Insert political discussion here.

I fear that the real culprit is cultural. To be precise, education is misdefined so widely across the spectrum of human culture alike that we have allowed it to be whittled down to dispensible nuggets of mediocrity. Cutting "non-essentials" like arts and humanities to fund the wrong math and stodgy obsolete literacy. There is no heart left. Let us mourn thought.

But I digress. I have railed often on such ills.

As a society, we must question the decision to protect our money before we protect the future of human awareness. When the trappings of civilization are gone, all that will remain is our ability to think, to feel, to devour, to know, to change. Money increases its stain whilecwe surrender our right to enlightenment and become slaves to the magical conception of "what we are supposed to know. "

I got my contract today. I am employed for another year. I am thankful. I feel guilty.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nuevo nĂºmero de telefono

I just wanted to post my new phone number - it's (623)466-3436. Mark it.

Love and hope to all

Friday, February 20, 2009

Spreading the ire...

I found a couple of things today I wanted to share.

This is beautiful. It reminds me why I love the dedication of artists. It's an animation - but with 6000 individually painted pictures.

This blew me away. I thought it was an Onion article at first. I was shocked to learn it was real.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Huzzah ye of thy skalliwag good day to thee....

We took a field trip today to the Renaissance Festival. 20 8th graders. It was remarkably enjoyable, and I had a good group that didn't ditch me...

My thoughts:
I am always struck by the grandeur of it all - some of these people are VERY committed to their avatars.

I never cease to find amusement in the amalgam of historical time periods. Vikings chatting it up with Cloak and Rapier men-of-arms, drinking Pepsi whilst chatting up a belly-dancing faery... all while shouting at medieval icons such as court jesters and plated knights... wonderful.

For kids who never leave the staggering confines of Buckeye, AZ - my students took the obviously foreign atmosphere in stride.

Turkey legs are still gross when they taste like ham.

Renaissance Festivalites - whilst anachronistic, are still basically carnies.

As today was the "schools day" they could have eased up on the pricing a bit - a 3 dollar soda is a drop in the bucket for a rich teacher such as myself - but most of our kids had allowances in the 1-2 dollar range. Also, did they really expect kids to drop 300 bones for custom boots or 150 for a hand-made hardwood flagon?

Our bus driver was named Moses - and we all concur that he was just about the best bus driver we've ever had.

The falconer, the Wyldmen and Dexter Tripp are still my absolute favorites.

Dead Bob is overrated, in my opinion.

It was hilarious - repeat HI-LARIOUS - watching my pubescent male students stumble over themselves looking at all the boobs flowing from too-tight bodices.

Actually - that wasn't the funny part. The funny part was watching them cover their embarrassment when they noticed that I noticed them.

It is also kind of awesome to sneak innocent peeks at said boobage flows.

No matter how "cool" they may be, a leather rose is a lousy souvenir for such a trip.

I had fun. Lame conclusion - but true.

Merry be the tales... Blessed be the snails


Monday, February 16, 2009

My friendses be's wicked smart.

Hello friends. I need some help.

I am teaching the following poem, one of my faves, to 8th graders in a couple of weeks. (Co-teaching, actually) I have strong opinions about what I believe it to be about - but I thought it would be fun to open it up and see what y'alls be thinkin.'

Coolio. Peace.

(My wife is awesome. The poem is below.)

what if a much of a which of a wind

what if a much of a which of a wind
gives the truth to summer's lie;
bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun
and yanks immortal stars awry?
Blow king to beggar and queen to seem
(blow friend to fiend: blow space to time)
-when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,
the single secret will still be man

what if a keen of a lean wind flays
screaming hills with sleet and snow:
strangles valleys by ropes of thing
and stifles forests in white ago?
Blow hope to terror; blow seeing to blind
(blow pity to envy and soul to mind)
-whose hearts are mountains, roots are trees,
it's they shall cry hello to the spring

what if a dawn of a doom of a dream
bites this universe in two,
peels forever out of his grave
and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?
Blow soon to never and never to twice
(blow life to isn't:blow death to was)
-all nothing's only our hugest home;
the most who die, the more we live

ee cummings