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 número 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

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Intimidated but not imitated.

Some times it sucks so bad to be a teacher that I can't really believe that I do it. But it always seems to be conveniently book-ended by a good moment here and there... these crack-like moments of pure joy.

This week blows.

The general stage directions, were there to be such things, for this week would look much like this:

He stood there agape. His face clearly defined "What the freakin' hell, man?" Enter lunatic in a tiger suit. He eats agape man.

Just because that's how crazy it has felt.

For a lil' wrap up...

One of my students was arrested last night.
4 of my students (yes FOUR) were caught smoking pot at school.
2 other students, whom I would never imagine doing so and in whom I am gravely disappointed - kept watch over the bathroom while the said activity occurred.
The assistant principal at the high school was arrested for sex with a 17 year-old student.
The above event has prompted some VERY strange comments from my colleagues.
I was forced, yes forced, to cover a 3rd grade class for about an hour today. I hate 3rd graders now.
Someone stole my favorite pen. That's grounds for a hangin'.

And there was more - but it's all so inside it would take me an hour to explain it.

The good things, though - dammit if they don't keep me coming back...

My toughest 8th grade ED student teaching a 2nd grader to read.
My creative writing club - brilliant kids
My ideas making a difference

I just think it's crazy that you can love your job so much on one day, and wish you'd never even taken it on the next. To not wish your job on your worst enemy, and yet to push your friends into trying it.

That's all, I guess. I just had to vent a bit.

The title is your fault Emery. You said you liked my titles a while back, and now I feel so much pressure to come up with good ones.

Peas to all.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Following Chris's lead...

I'm poaching something from Facebook.

25 Random Things You Might Not Know About Me

1. It took me 20 minutes to figure out how to post a note. (On Facebook.)

2. I am still waiting to be really impressed by Obama. I didn't vote for him, and I'm pissed that most people assume that that means I voted for the other asshat.

3. I don't believe in God.

4. I am still not sure I'm an atheist.

5. I used to be an athlete - for real. I wish I'd never stopped.

6. I own more than one firearm and I consider it to be responsible citizenship.

7. My grandfather was easily in the top 20 names in Southwestern Archaeology, and he achieved it all with only a bachelor's degree. I am proud of that heritage.

8. A bachelor's degree from the 1930's was probably more like a PhD today. That's not about me... but I'm an educator, so it's relevant.

9. My dream car is a 1949 Mercury Lead Sled - chopped, channeled and LOW.

10. I'm seriously considering a motorcycle - but I have to come to turns with being a fatalist.

11. I am really concerned that by my last statement, people think I don't really know what fatalist means... my intellect is my greatest vanity.

12. Dammit - I don't think I can come up with many more.

14. I purposely left out 13.

15. I saw a girl naked before the age of 10. (To clarify - she was a teenager. She was mormon. Not that that is why she revealed her naked flesh to me... I'm just saying.)

16. Seeing a girl naked for the first time made me physically ill.

17. I love my bicycle.

18. Losing our unborn child this summer was the most painful experience of my life - with the possible exception of going to the ear doctor.

19. I added the tag ear doctor tag on the last one because I feel that I wasn't taught how to properly express emotions without feeling really embarrassed by them. (How's that for a fact about me.)

20. *** Censored *** (This is too public a forum.)

21. I wonder if people are very shocked by that.

22. As a child, I desperately wanted braces. I can't explain why. It was the closest I really ever came to wanting to really fit in.

23. For most of my life, I've been largely unimpressed with myself.

24. That's not depressive - it's my motivation.

25. I am torn between being a writer and being a teacher. I know I can do both, and make something cool out of it... but I am a purist at heart.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Old hat.

Before I start... Gina: I met a lady from one of the schools in our district the other day, and whilst discussing the television program "Dirty Jobs" she said, "What a fine program that is." I immediately thought of you and almost hugged her with a jubilant "Rubies and Pearls!"

So, there's this guy named Ken Robinson. Sir Ken Robinson to be exact. And I've found a few things of his and generally think he's the bees knees. I've posted this before, but his TED talk can be found here.

If you are involved in education in any way, as a teacher, student, parent, or overall fan... take a minute and watch it. I revisit it frequently and, to regress slightly, love the shit out of it.

Anyway... on with it. At the beginning of the speech, he says that when you talk to someone at a party and tell them that you are in education, their first thought is 'Why me?'

I use that as a preface - for here, dear friends, comes another EduBlog. *GROANS*

I am flummoxed. I am distraught. I am at my wit's end. I am some big word from a Bad Religion song.

We are at this crossroads, I think, of humanity. We have massive quantities knowledge at our fingertips (quite literally), and we are not teaching our kids how to access it. Our fragile, ill-equipped bodies have evolved for a million years (as a general ballpark) to be super high-performance thinking machines... and the best we seem to muster are slight moments of passion from an otherwise bland malaise. G.D. Betsy Bingo does that make me mad!

I don't know the answers anymore. I thought I did once, but that was arrogant and ignorant. I had to lock the boys' bathroom today because their was gang graffiti in there. I know who did it, too. Almost all the teachers do. But there response was anger. They wanted him strung up as an example. "These kids need to know that damaging the property of others will not be tolerated." I felt like all the air had left the room when I said, "They need to know that a gang kills possibilities and steals dreams." They looked at me like I had pooped out a goat that subsequently ate all of their shoes.

I just think there is a huge difference between discipline and punishment... but sometimes I feel like I'm the only one. Being punitive is about ego... discipline is teaching.

All I'm saying is that these kids know being in trouble like the backs of their hands. Punish them, and the moment is lost in a fog of suspensions and letters home and detention centers. Teach them, and who knows what could happen?

Ah, well... Maybe I should become a barber.

Wishing you could smell my stinky, medicinal eardrops,

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Random Sh*t From the Fray

1. So, I get home today, and my mom asks, "Why did you lock the dogs in when you left?" I didn't. Which means that our neighbor came over - came INTO OUR HOUSE, and locked them inside. There is something creepy about that. We've known him for a very long time, and he used to work for/with my dad... but still - who does that?

2. I am trying to figure out a route by which I might ride my velocipede to work. The only such path seems quite treacherous. I may just suck it up and go for it.

3. I am training for a marathon with Tracey. We will be (knock on wood) running the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon at the end of May. Yay us... wtF is wrong with us?

4. Chris and Steve - your journey sounded epic. I hope you sang lots of inspirational training sequence songs from eighties movies. "Steve, I don't think I can make this last rise, man." "Dammit Chris! Hang in there! *sings* You're the best... aroouund... and nothin's gonna eva keep ya doooowwwwnnn!" Props if you know the movie.

5. The muse paid me a mighty visit over the break. I am going to embark on my novel... I have what I consider to be an acceptably amazing concept and story idea. Keep me motivated, please. Verbal taunts are acceptable.

6. Chris... this would be my "Congrats on Being a Dad" present were I wealthy.

7. Emery... you can enjoy it too... that was wrong of me to leave you out. Also, my friend from college just named her baby Ellery... which is kind of close to Emery... and I like to think that there was some cosmic connection via myself which made that possible. So, congratulations Emery. My friend named her baby after you. Kind of. But not really.

8. I've decided to suck it up and try to get an employment verification letter from Compass. Any thoughts? Advice? Previous successes? Please share.

9. I still really like my job - but I am never teaching Special Ed. again! I hope.

10. I will be in Tucson on January 24th -ish. Who's available?

11. I might be back in Tucson in February for the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo Race... but probably not.

12. I miss Tucson a lot. We both do.

13. 'Cuz it's a good number, despite some beliefs... I miss Theater. A lot.

Love to everyone. Hope you have an awesome New Year. Whoo hoo. Amen.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New year. New shoes.

So, it's Saturday, and I am up at 5:30 am. This sucks. I am also sick, having had an ear infection (which renders me deaf in my right ear) for a solid two weeks now. Things, I suppose, could be better. I take a moment in self-pity.

Then I realize that things could be much worse. Tracey and I both have great jobs (knock on wood)... something many people are struggling for. We have our health, for the most part. (See above.) We have plans. We have a tangible future... I suppose that makes us pretty well off.

I am glad that 2009 is here. (Subconsciously, I just typed "hear"... wishful thinking.) 2008 had some ups, for sure - but it wasn't my favorite year to date. We survived it, though. And we are positive that this year will be better.

School starts Monday. I miss my students. It's such a bizarre feeling to become attached to kids that aren't related to you. I am looking forward to charging in with both barrels blazing... a lot more responsibility is on the horizon, though, as I am starting a Creative Writing club and a monthly Guest Speaker Series. Hopefully.

We are off to Flagstaff today for the memorial services of Clifford E. White. He was an institution at NAU Theatre. He took me to lunch many times... just because. R.I.P. Cliff. You will be missed.

Happy New Year. See you all soon.