Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year's Resolutions!

I love the addicting idea that I can reinvent myself--the coming new year provides an enticing way to set forth all the things I'd like to be but am not currently.

I know it's damaging to try to change oneself and I know that New Year's Resolutions rarely last. Yet I am feeling up for playing around with some new ideas and for setting up some fun life experiments. I'm not sure what those are yet, but I'm working on some ideas. Some examples: Spring's month of a good deed per day and (from Sassy's documentary watching day) reducing waste and impact on the environment (via, in one example, not using toilet paper).

Anyway, I do know I want to work on my focus and discipline this year (so as to improve both) while also increasing my happiness and my ability to help others and the world. I'm thinking of ways to make that more concrete . . . good thing we still have a couple of days before 2011.

Quote About False Wholes

I've been picking at, and am now fully reading, Chandler Burr's You or Someone Like You. The main characters, a married couple, are both English PhDs; he's a Hollywood executive and she has started various book clubs for people working in the film industry. She becomes famous for her book clubs, and Vanity Fair runs an article about her. When the article is published, the character realizes this:
The trick of journalism, I now understand, and it is a trick played on the reader, is to create the illusion of a coherent whole where none actually exists. It is to take the complex, unkempt pieces of a real life and stitch them together and generate a neat sum with neatly interlocking movable parts that exists for the reader but not, actually, for the person written about. (168)

I think of this often as I try to construct ways in which I may want my life story told some day. I think of people that I admire and I realize that their stories include a lot of messy and mundane aspects that simply don't get told. That fact makes me feel better when I'm brooding about my life. And, too, I think that one cannot know which ugly piece of life may actually tell a good story later on.

It's all interesting to me because I have been realizing over the past few years the extent of my inability to tell a good story. I get caught up on the truth and wanting to tell the truth, but it's impossible because when you follow the truth, you lose the main thrust of action. Or you overemphasize a point that is boring to your audience. I really think this is true (I don't really think this is totally true): that to tell a good story you have to ignore some things.

I guess that's totally obvious. To tell a story, decisions have to be made. (And it's hard for me to make decisions. Unless I put happiness and peace first, then decisions become a little easier.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Relationships and Self: My Latest Observation

These holidays are a stressful time; I've been feeling anxious lately and that hasn't helped my feelings in my relationship. I've done some thinking, then, on what it means to me to be in a relationship.

I've noticed that am still very giddy about Bill, but I am not giddy about myself any longer. I have been trying to remain positive about myself and have played with the idea of having a New Year's Resolution along the line of "increase self-esteem." This low self-esteem inside my relationship means that I am constantly comparing myself to everyone else that Bill knows and, surprise!, I always find myself on the losing side of such comparisons.

What feels good about a new relationship is all the possibilities it presents; it's fun figuring out who the other person is. It's fun putting on your best attitude and image of yourself--and wearing it around as if you're always that way. As a relationship feels more familiar, I'm not learning as much in such a quick a time; it starts to feel less exciting and challenging, in that sense. (And I always love for things to be exciting and challenging.) As the relationship feels more familiar, I start to think that I seem less grateful and appreciative, and I don't like that image of myself. I realize that the skill that I'm working on is not to run away from something that seems to helping me in a very good way. It's scary to think that the relationship I'm in could be such a positive, wonderful thing!

I realized yesterday that my inclination toward a new relationship is just one of the ways I deal with the idea that I don't fully like myself. I want to be someone else than who I am right now. It's hard for me to deal with myself . . . let alone deal with how someone else is dealing with me (as in, "I pity the fool.")

I'm still playing around with these ideas. I mainly just wanted to vent about myself and this feeling of anxiety.

But I do also want to send some holiday cheer! Things are not all gloomy! I am with my family now, and have been having a good time. I hope to post some funny family moments soon! Here's to good holiday memories!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Man, Time is a Bitch!

It's hard to keep going, sometimes, when things are so stressful! But, I think that's the only way to get through something--just keep going. I'm very neurotic right now and am trying to get a bunch of things done. My thinking very quickly goes from "problem" to "catastrophe." Additionally, I haven't exercised in about a week--that doesn't help anything. Nothing really to say here, other than that taking many short breaks and praising myself for getting work done is helping me as I finish my grading, try to clean, and try to deal with this whole Christmas thing that is happening.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What I Learned From Wikipedia Today

I learned more about The Grass Roots because I didn't realize that I like most of their hit songs. I am less enchanted with them after reading that the band went through many incarnations and seemed heavily managed. (Not like bands that I like that write all their own material--I just really respect when people write and play their own stuff. I don't like it as much when a singer and/or band gets famous off of stuff others have written, even though the performers are talented in their own right.) But I learned that "Let's Live for Today" is a cover for the Italian song, "Piangi Con Me," by The Rokes. ("Piangi Con Me", loosely translated, I think means "Courtney, Come to Italy and Have Amazing Sex with Me.")

Self-Deprecation (Once Named Rendered Invalid?)

I'm feeling bad for being mouthy, so just in case anyone thought I was acting high and mighty, I want to reveal that I am trying to pass capris off as regular length pants. It's so not working, but I AM OUT OF PANTS! Why is it so difficult to keep a working wardrobe?! Maybe because someone at work screwed up the dress code and certified that we cannot wear jeans (not even on Friday?)? Well, I've been bucking the dress code at work and have been wearing cover-up and powder to try to mask my gigantic zit scab! I am so gross, I tell you!

Song of the Day

I'm dancin' to this one today. What I like about the song is the tempo and Carpenter's voice (I like her accent). I think the words are cute and that the sentiment is relatable and fun. (I don't like the video, though, but it's none of my business!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Perfect Timing

I'm feeling gratitude for the notion that things happen in their own time, on time.

I'm feeling, right now, a sense that I know I don't know everything, but that it's hard to let go of something. It's my ego--feeling proud of itself. Like a peacock, it struts!

What I was proud of a few minutes ago and a few hours ago is old again, and the emotion doesn't sit well with me anymore. It's hard to let go, I suppose, even when something is so new!

Anyway. I found solace in this song this morning, and I wanted to share!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Parallax Error

One thing that has stuck with me since 9th grade science class, was the definition of parallax. We learned, in the 9th grade, that it was important to read a beaker at the bottom of the meniscus (which I also learned the definition of in 9th grade). Reading a reading straight on and reading at the bottom of the meniscus was important because then we knew that our reading was minimizing the error that arises from a displacement in the x, y, and/or z coordinates. (I'm only talking in terms of coordinates because of this article. This article, seriously. Does it say anything that makes any fucking sense? And I don't mean that in the praising way; I actually think it's full of shit. It could have been a good article. And I would know because I'm actually very intelligent.)

I was thinking of parallax error this morning or the other day--it just came into my mind for no reason. It came into my mind when I was talking to Beamy tonight and thinking of ways to understand my marriage. I realized that parallax error gives a mistaken reading, even though you are seeing what you are seeing. I realized that I am looking at things straight on right now/

I need to let this all out because this is very important to me; I'm not sure who reads my blog, and I wish I did. ('Cuz I'm either narcissistic, which is going to no longer be a personality disorder as soon as the new DSM comes out (not quite because, as Bill says, narcissism is so common as to not be classified as a "disorder" but because, well, I'm not sure why--I only read one NYT article on the thing.) or I just would like to know how much I have to explain, if anything.) I always struggle with audience. If I explain things, then I'm either being a great storyteller--someone with something to say who can actually help someone else (for storytelling should help someone else. Our literature is activism.)--or I'm being self-indulgent to the point of disorder.

That's probably why fame is so compelling and seems very attractive to me; through fame you know people are listening and there is a direct reward and relationship between what you are putting out and for what you are receiving recognition. This is why titles are attractive, too. I am a ______; I do ______, and for that I get attention and money.

I fucking hate being a teacher.

And anyone who says they like it and feels it is for them either needs to or does work PK-12. End of the fucking story.

Working in a formal teaching position with children needs to be a requirement for anyone working in higher education. And going to a rigorous college needs to be a requirement for anyone teaching PK-12.

That's end of rant 1.

Rant 2, which is not a rant at all, but rather an excerpt from that NYT article on Narcissistic Personality Disorder (which will later be known as a symbol, a la Prince, and then The Personality Disorder Formally Known as the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.*):

The central requirement for N.P.D. is a special kind of self-absorption: a grandiose sense of self, a serious miscalculation of one’s abilities and potential that is often accompanied by fantasies of greatness. It is the difference between two high school baseball players of moderate ability: one is absolutely convinced he’ll be a major-league player, the other is hoping for a college scholarship.

Of course, it would be premature to call the major-league hopeful a narcissist at such an early age, but imagine that same kind of unstoppable, unrealistic attitude 10 or 20 years later.

The second requirement for N.P.D.: since the narcissist is so convinced of his high station (most are men), he automatically expects that others will recognize his superior qualities and will tell him so. This is often referred to as “mirroring.” It’s not enough that he knows he’s great. Others must confirm it as well, and they must do so in the spirit of “vote early, and vote often.”

Finally, the narcissist, who longs for the approval and admiration of others, is often clueless about how things look from someone else’s perspective. Narcissists are very sensitive to being overlooked or slighted in the smallest fashion, but they often fail to recognize when they are doing it to others.

Most of us would agree that this is an easily recognizable profile, and it is a puzzle why the manual’s committee on personality disorders has decided to throw N.P.D. off the bus. Many experts in the field are not happy about it.

I'm just not sure--would most of use be able to "easily recogniz[e]" a narcissist? I just ask because it seems like many people I know are narcissists. I write that, and I realize it's not true. Which is to say, I think I am continuing my rant against higher education. I have found that many people I know in higher education do seem to be very narcissistic.

Yet there is also a large undercurrent of self-doubt and anxiety with those in academia. So a sense of grandiosity may arise naturally from people who are simply trying to find their way with others--to figure out where they fit in with everyone else, whom they actually respect just as much as they respect themselves. [AUTHOR'S NOTE: I think I'm making a connection between a narcissist and someone who doesn't say anything interesting. This is a huge leap in logic, and it makes my tone sound off. But I like my following point, so I'm keeping it . . . (Eee gads, is poor revision lazy logic? Is it even ethical of me to keep a half-assed point just because I'm pleased with it right now? I should know better, right? Even for fun, writing should be right, right?)]

It still doesn't excuse (resume rant 1) any bad work--poor research, shitty teaching, redundant conversation, and irrelevant scholarship.

We've lost all sense of standard (enter self-righteous voice, all of sudden) because we're either letting narcissists invade or trying to make excuses for people who are likeable yet not brilliant.

A teacher should be both (likeable and brilliant), I think. I use to think that it shouldn't be a popularity contest because a popularity contest in higher education has meant that those who say something politically progressive get fired. Yet, I can't really think of an example like this other than the Ward Churchill case at CU back in 2004-ish.

Does anyone not know what I'm talking about? Because this is the kind of stuff everyone should know, and it's either obvious and so I should move on, or it could use a little explanation. (Which just might be my way of saying that I want to be indulged and I want someone to hear what I have to say about this.) I actually just had to look him up because I could only remember the "Ward" part of his name. Apparently he's still suing to get his job back. My feeling of the thing is that CU fired him illegally but that he seems not too smart and maybe shouldn't be teaching anyway? I could be completely wrong about that, though. I need to write about this, actually. It's a big deal, and I'm not sure about the timeline of things.

(I probably just wig out so much because I have opinions about everything and I want people to know them. Maybe, when my undergraduate advisor told me that "I have a lot to say" and that nearly every graduate advisor has told me that I need to narrow my ideas down, that I should pay attention.)

I was just thinking that a new blog of mine could be "I Still Have Something To Say, I'm Still Talking, and I'm Still Right." Then, in case I know I want an audience, I could write there and then I could leave "To Someone Likeminded" to posts that actually contain some wisdom and aren't so pedantic and stylistically void.

Then I thought that that might actually increase my chances of being branded, and I could turn into a whole thing, like Oprah or John Lennon (and I only put him in that category because Newsweek (courtesy of my Amazing Goddamn Boyfriend Who's Better Than Every Other Man Ever And This Time I'm For Fucking Real So Suck It Anyone Who Doesn't Believe Me. I'll See You At The Fucking Stereotypical Barfy Wedding That Is Actually Fun And Makes You Believe In Love Again--As Soon As My Credit Score Is High Enough To Not Fuck Up Bill's Score And Drag Us Into Eternal Debt And Limited Access To Credit At Department Store (He has a long name.)) made a compelling argument that Lennon was the one of the first people to be a celebrity and to have a sense of the responsibility and just pure gratification of fame; I thought it was a compelling argument that helped explain to me why I love and am annoyed by John Lennon.) And then I thought that when I feel in love I would write a poem and that when I'm in love and feeling more brave I would sing a song. I thought that I would be like Steve Martin and master many genres; my larger goal would to show off how many genres I know. I want to be, like the NPR interview with Martin called him, a Renaissance Man. Honestly, Steve Martin has a Grammy for bluegrass music. I am in love with him.

Except for The Pleasure of My Company isn't a great book, by any means. And Martin is short, and he was not funny at all when he was on "The Colbert Report" last week. (Newsfuckingflash: I watch way too much tv now that I'm hanging out with Bill and trying to avoid the overwhelming nonwhelmence of my daily life.)

And I don't care if I'm holding someone's looks against him in a very conventional, sexist way. I'm fatter than I think I should be. And I can't stop picking at my adult onset acne. I am insanely unattractive. Yet I have received compliments lately that I am losing weight--looking pretty, looking beautiful. Mostly it is just Bill who calls me "beautiful," and that may be because he's on the path of Exotic Sex Act (which thus puts me on the path of getting a pony. Just because. And, seriously, does anyone want to watch me do this?). I might be above coercing a man into the pregnancy pact, but I'm not above getting a pony from him.

Does that mean that I am being specie-ist? Serious question. If we want to dicker (oh, dicker!) about me disparaging short men, then shouldn't we raise concern when I would try to coerce a life form (baby or pony) from someone?

Oh, how I long for conversations about these topics! It's been years, I tell you! There used to be a time when people would write interesting things, say interesting things, and I would talk about interesting things!

I hear some fascinating things, yet I haven't been engaged in years and years and years. I haven't been challenged. And at every non-challenge I have faced opposition and I have thought it was my own fault that I wasn't challenged.

It is intriguing, to me, how that happens--how the most intelligent can be duped by seeing things from many perspectives (I actually am not sure who I know who is like this) while people with only some intelligence go very far by saying things that aren't amazing. By "most intelligent" I think I just mean "artists." I think that's the thing, actually. Artists spend so much time believing the worst about themselves when they are actually amazing. Academics, people whose sole job is only ever to analyze someone else's work and in the doing so avoid the almost-inevitable, almost-automatic ability of making art themselves (even when art is anything, some people still avoid being able to do it), can think very fine things about themselves and do very well for themselves, and all, sometimes, for no particular reason at all.

I guess I am an artist, in that regard. And in the regard that I actually know how to write. And in the regard that I have good taste in clothes, but no money to be able to execute such taste. Money is wasted on the wealthy, I tell you!

Something fascinating to me: my period started today, and I have been crying over everything. I looked up hormone cycles during a woman's menses, and then I had to look up how birth control pills worked (that's always been confusing to me). On the first day of a woman's period, her estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest (that's probably obvious, but I was getting confused about when levels were supposed to be high or low). The website I was looking at was a feminist health website and it was saying that the first day of period was often associated with high levels of creativity (and, to some extent, magic). I am all for creativity and magic and being in touch with the earth--I'm all about that, really. But I was not feeling that way today. I was feeling insecure, sad, depressed, and almost helpless. I was getting angry because I thought the website was starting to get into reasons why it's difficult for some people to get behind ecofeminist ideas. That issue of mine, though, is nothing to get excited about because my reasons are shallow even though my feeling is very real and sincere.

But now I'm writing a lot and I wonder if there is something to be said for a surge of creativity.

What I've been wanting to write about this whole time, though, is boys. I received an email from my ex-husband about A Sensitive Situation That Involves Money That When I Talk About Starts To Make Me Sound Like I'm Craving The Role Of The Victim When I'm Actually Being Responsible And Just Forthcoming. I felt the gamut of emotions (and nearly cancelled tonight's guitar lesson in order to handle myself. And I may cancel tomorrow's teaching because I have gone to school every day this year and everyone else takes a day off, so why don't I?) and I realized that this was a good time to put into practice the great quote on Sister Ellie's blog:

Kindness is closely linked with happiness: the kinder you are to others, the happier you will be.

-- Mary Jaksch

Instead of engaging my ex on the myriad holes in his argument as a way to try to explain myself and get him to understand me, which would be a way for me not to pump up my ego but to try to finally be heard by this man and to finally not be the bad guy, I did a little research for him and tried to act as pleasantly as possible.

I thought that was a good deed. Spring is doing good deeds and honestly, some of them I'm like, "Girl, that ain't a good deed, that's just a nice thing to do!" A good deed puts you out something; as in, it was a good deed for me to marry that man, is what that was. All the effort I put in and all the lengths I went to to see his point of view. It's like doing Emotional Vipishana (or whatever those difficult yogas are called) Yoga. (Ok, I'm being an ignorant asshole: there is such a thing as Vipassana Meditation, but I don't see any Vipishana Yoga. I think I'm thinking of Bikram Yoga. In fact I know I am because I just looked it up. Thank goodness for my neighbor's unlocked internet connection. That's not the first time I've said that today, either.)

The email was, as Sara said, a nice low-stakes demonstration that I am seeing the pattern of my first marriage for what it was. Mom would call this a sign; I call it a sign, too. Especially because I knew the ex was having a hold on me; remember this weekend when I even blogged about it? I do! (I remember this weekend partly because it turned out to be one of the best ever. Bill and I went for the five mile hike at Turkey Mountain and then took a bath together with wine and candles in order to continue talking about emotions, relationships, and life and to then commence with amazing love-making. Seriously--that was my weekend. Hiking, bath, amazing man, talking, sex, tv, Woody Allen, food, sleep, walking through the park. It's amazing to me that this is my relationship right now. I mean, does anyone remember my earlier relationships? Where, yes, I'd get spoiled, but in passive-aggressive sort of "we're doing it my way even though I know you like some of this stuff." What kinds of things do I normally ask for? Nothing in particular, right? Well, I didn't ask for a bath with a man, but I did ask to not have to ask for a bath with a man--and that's what I got. Standards increase. Everything that rises must converge. Like floating, unattractive fat flabs. Seriously! Who are we kidding? My boyfriend and I personify Jack Spratt--like I felt comfortable at all in that bathtub. ) Well, in my writing about my divorce and in talking about it with Bill and Sara, I knew that my ex had a hold on me and that something was going on--I just didn't know what. And here, today!, I get a final word--I get some clarity. I feel so much better. I feel better because I don't feel like I have anything to apologize for because I feel like I'm being nice to myself. I feel comfortable talking about my divorce, and in fact, I want to do so right now:

I want to say that I never wanted to get a divorce. I want to say that I was never asked about it, and that it was forced upon me. And it was done so in a way that made it look like it was all my fault, and I shouldered all of the responsibility for it. But I knew on Sunday that I was done with it, and now it is early, early Wednesday (hump day! Day of the week where bad teachers everywhere start to feel a bit of relief and/ or paralyzing distress at all of what has been ignored and will continue to be ignored because I'm not doing shit, especially not this weekend, are you kidding me? I'm so tired of working and not working all at once.) and I am still done with it. Done as in: live your own life and stop trying to bring me into it even though I never wanted out but now I'm so glad I'm not in.

I think that pretty much clears up that one.

So, to recap: I think I'm artist who may or may not have (but probably doesn't have) narcissistic personality disorder instead of an academic who misses academia and longs for an intelligent conversation about anything truly interesting. I am also moving beyond my divorce while moving closer to man who seems perfect. In some ways it sounds like I'm doing what I always do, but have I said a man is "perfect" before? No. I usually says he's "fabulous" and blah blah and I then temper it with something like, "He has anger issues which have helped me realize my own boundaries and how I need to take care of my own needs." Well, fuck that. I'm going to get what I want.

"You have to pick yourself up and try again." "You gotta be stronger." I sing these songs. Bill tells me that he wants me to know that, "If there's something I want to be that I can try again." He tells me that he doesn't think I know my gift for making others feel things through my writing. And that's true--I don't believe and sometimes I think it's because he's not as funny as he thinks he is. There! I did it! I said, "He's perfect, but . . ."

Does that mean I have lost respect for Bill? I want to know what this means! And is that a thing to worry about, the I think "Bill is perfect, but sometimes I don't think he's as funny as he thinks he is" thing? Is that worthy of consideration?

Because honest to god my ex-husband wore a half-buttoned flannel shirt tucked in over a t-shirt on the first day we met. As if God wasn't giving a direct sign to run the other direction.

And I'm going to say this about Bill before I say it to his face: I've never quite met a man so stereotypically gay and gay observant who is both stereotypically male in that regard, yet also one of those rare advocates who's always been an advocate even before someone told him that he should be not because it was the polite thing to do but because it was the right thing to do. He had no reason to turn down any of his white, male privilege yet he has just because his parents were kind enough and educated enough teach him better. And they did that because they had good parents.

This is the history I think I have. I think I had a lot of privilege that I turned down because I knew it was the right thing to do; I think sometimes my parents don't see things this way. I think sometimes I get called a snob too easily; sometimes I think that my family doesn't know how sensitive I am. I haven't told them that before, though.

PS: Note to self regarding lesson plans. When the seventh graders bitch about wanting to go outside to play, I let them. I let them play and run around for as long as they want. And then they come back inside I ask, "Now what did you learn about English in doing that?" And they will say "Nothing!" and relish in the fact that they didn't have to learn English or they will respond with a bullshit answer that is either a) legitimately funny or b) trying to suck up to me and in doing has annoyed and saddened me. I would then make the point that when they aren't learning English, then what are they doing? Honest to God, not knowing English is the worst thing any person could ever be doing right now. AND PEOPLE ARE DOING IT ALL THE TIME! (Not to be alarmist or anything!)

Honest to God: some of my best friends do not capitalize a thing. Are they the cutest friends ever? Post-structuralists yet in a very conservative, annoying way? Lazy? And am I jealous (because a lowercase "I" does look better than a capitalized one, especially if we want to actually decentralize the self and practice what we preach about giving to others and not making ourselves our first priority)?

I'm just mad that our grammar does not reflect our standards. That'll be a book I write: new grammar rules. I'm also going to write with idea insight from Bill a cheesy Lifetime channel-like book. And with idea insight from my writing partner, I'm going to write a serious, important book. And with idea and word and equal partnership, I'm going to write a country song with my littlest sis. She doesn't know I'm saying nice things about her behind her back.

Maybe, has anyone ever considered, I'm trying to say nice things about people behind their back, but for some reason they keep getting mad about me for it? Has anyone ever considered this to be a possibility in my life?

Eeee gads. I really need to stop writing now. I think I was just trying to say that I have a lot to say and I'm finally realizing that now. So I have a lot of other stupid shutting up to do so that I can actually get to saying something.

I was actually just trying to write lesson plans for tomorrow. I was trying to say that I'm trying to say to my students that I care about their learning English because it's the most important thing they can do. If they don't want someone to step all over them, then they need to be able to think. This is what English teaches us--it teaches us how to think. Acting stupid--even if it's convinced the vast majority of people they've run into so far in life--is actually not developmentally normal for them right now. Acting stupid is very different from not being developmentally able to take responsibility for one's actions. Is it? Oh, God, I'm really confused again!

This is why I simply can't let the kids have a day off from work: they will run around and I will never be able to make the argument that they should learn English! So then I think if they'd rather run around, either to defy me or to simply enjoy their lives, then they should. But then I think that's how armies get started, and that I'm trying to fight another war. (The connection between education and war needs to seriously be fucking examined.) But I'd still be fighting, and that's bad, even though it would be for the good guys. Is there a just war--as in, is even using war as a metaphor an injustice?

I don't expect that level of analysis from my students. I would just like them to know the parts of speech and parts of grammar; I want them to know how to write a sentence that is neither a run-on nor a fragment. Just because it's fun, I want them to be able to diagram sentences. They need to have nice handwriting and they need to know that proper capitalization is imperative. I'm not above seeing if someone could write that in the Qur'an (in that cheesy way of writing on the book or writing on a sheet of paper to put in the book) and then I'd tell the students that it's written in the Qur'an to write with proper capitalization). (I'm, according to the NPR report I heard this morning about a Christian Pakistani woman, a few continents away from the death penalty.) It should be against the law to write in a holy book, yet my Sunday school teacher would highlight her Bible. So I'm not sure if Muslims at my school would write in their Qur'ans. And I'm not sure if, like in the Bible, I'm pretty sure, at least, the Qur'an tells us to capitalize the name of Allah. If it does, then I can forego my joke of writing in the Qur'an and point to an actual verse where it is religion to capitalize.

Back to the list of what students should know: they should know root words, prefixes, and suffixes. It's like learning ten words and knowing a trillion. Not in my subject, but something I'm annoyed about: students should learn early on about using significant figures. It's hard to learn that with scientific notion, especially--and I was learning this in college! By then my brain is three-quarters dead.

"When I think back to all the crap I learned in high school . . ." I will become my high school English teacher who was either great or a chauvinist.

Students should be able write an essay analyzing something. They should know how to read something out loud. They should want to read and they should be curious about reading something new. I read The Diary of Anne Frank when I was in the third grade. It took me for fucking ever and I understood hardly anything that I read. I was just nosy and wanted to read someone's diary; just like in fourth grade I was nosy and wanted to know whether the cutest boy in fourth grade was having sex with another fourth grader's sixth grade sister. The point is: I read The Diary of Anne Frank in the third grade.

What else? They need to know not to use "Because" to start a sentence--not until they are at least thirty, when it starts to be alright to try to be edgy. Because you've paid your dues.

In this whole lesson plan, I'm just not sure if I could be inspirational enough to show them that it's worth it. And what if I don't and I don't end up doing what the administration wants and I can never justify my practices? Then have I at least stood up for what I believed in? Or did I ignore the spirit under which I am employed? If I don't try to inspire, then am I ignoring the conditions under which I am employed?

Good God, if education were doing it's job, then I shouldn't have to ask a question like that, should I?

PPS: I dreamt of the man I was dating before Bill. We were at a public swimming pool (where the high dives were all lined up over each other) and he was asking me if he could come over. I told him he could--because I would love to talk to him--but that we could only talk. He said, of course, we would only be friends. But then he asked me if he could put a finger "in my pink." I told him of course not and that he could not come over. And that's when I realized that that relationship was only ever about sex.

Just like I realize now, with teaching, if I set up some boundaries then they will either be obeyed (in which case I'll be happy, overjoyed, and successful) or they will be disobeyed (in which case, then, I'll know what kind of teacher I should have been--one who is not me).

I bet I could do a few things: teach to each student's needs and come up with some kind of common assessment. I know my students, I know what they need to know, and I think I know how to show them how they can learn it. I just can't show anyone else a fair way on how to assess this. I need to talk to someone about this, too!

* Yeah, I don't care if it's not the mid-90s anymore, I will take a Prince joke any day.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Is it Still 1986?

When I was a kid, we colored with crayons called "Flesh"--as if there were just one color of skin.

Well, guess what? Today kids color with "Flesh" and "Flesh" is still a peach-like color. I learned this after one girl asked me, "What color is flesh?" I answered that there is no one color of flesh because everyone has different colors of skin. She then smiled and showed me the colored pencil. I told her that was an example of racism. This is the second example of racism a 6th grader has pointed out to me in the past week. And, I swear, you suggest these as examples of racism to today's typical college student and you hear every backward argument around. (Proof-positive, I suppose, that kids know the truth when they see it. Worse proof-positive that the education system is atrocious.)

But double guess what? There is a light brown colored pencil called "Vietnam."

I'm not kidding. Flesh and Vietnam--two colors you can color with today in 2010.

I believe both colored pencils are made by Penway.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Time to Hike!

Alright, after that last post of processing old stuff, I declare it is time to go for a hike! Oh, where will these Oklahoma winds take me (or, Bill and me?) today?

Additionally, whenever my period is about to start, I get the deep urge to walk for miles and miles and miles--does this happen to anyone else?

Here's to the weekend!

Processing My Years of Anger

There are some things I'm working out for myself, and I just feel like writing them on this blog.

My divorce has been official for two years now; it took nearly a year to make it happen. This weather lately has amplified a feeling of the blues, and I think back to the end of my marriage. It hasn't felt so great to remember, yet I get a sense that there is something there for me to learn that I haven't been able to learn yet.

But as soon as I write that, I get a sense that there is nothing for me to learn--that, instead, I could stand to learn to not try to force myself into learning. Which is to say, I know I don't need to make myself miserable in order to learn anything.

When it comes to that marriage, I am only now realizing how much anger I carried around with me. I was angry all the time, it seems. And the absolute worst of my behavior came out in that relationship. That was part of the dynamic, at least. Some of me imagines my ex-husband now; I imagine us still arguing over who was to blame. I know I shouldered a lot of the responsibility, yet I know that he recognizes that, too.

The last I heard from him, he had given it to God.

Which I think is fine--not that it's any of my business. I still feel hurt by this divorce, though. I'm angry that we fought over the stupidist of things, and that I knew they were stupid, but to say so would have been the greatest offense.

It's very interesting how we humans act as mirrors for each other. I think there is a lot of delusion wrapped up with that marriage, divorce, and man, and I think that I'm learning that if I treat this delusion as if it were real, then I get angry. Of course I would get angry spending my energy on things that don't matter--on a larger level I know when I'm wasting my time.

I really feel myself sinking into a larger ocean of love and happiness. I feel less like a child. Perhaps what's happening is that so many of the reference points I have are mired in this anger and delusion that it's hard to see them from a new angle--it's been easier to let the anger and sadness still define me.

But I know now that it's not only that I can't let that anger and sadness still define me it's that they don't. I need to continue growing up; there's a whole life out there that I want for my own--a whole self that I see as me, but does not currently reside in me. I have to be brave and let my sadness go! I have to be brave when I see my old anger and not let me use it against myself . . . or anyone else. If something is off, then I need to be open to change. I need to just try something and see. And that's really difficult because I so often insist on perfection!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What's my deal today?

My deal today: I am PMSin'. Cranky. One NYT article and one NPR segment into it, and I am sick of hearing of the best books of 2010. I am angry that I haven't written a book yet and I am angry it's not extremely successful!

I have been thinking that I can feel my depression cling to me; I feel victimized because of it! Yes, victimized! [Bring the argument, Mom! ;) ] There is the productive and upbeat person I would like to be, and then there is the actual me.

I don't think I am going to go for a jog this afternoon. And I may try to angle my way to a free chocolatey, ice creamy treat. (As if my angling is anything other than flat-out whining.)

I've been wanting recognition these past couple of days. I'm working my butt off, it seems. Not that I've necessarily been busy, but I've been juggling a lot of things--a lot of student needs. I tried giving myself a fake award this morning, but kind of ended up feeling worse because I don't like this side of me that wants attention!

I drove home from work and saw a woman on her porch. I imagined she was smoking, and I wanted to smoke, too. That's when I realized that it's healthier to nourish my artist-side. So this afternoon I have been asking myself what my artist side needs. I've come up with no concrete ideas, but I do know that it needs happiness. The muck of PMS, the cold weather, the holidays can be sloshed through, I declare!

American Elitism as Intellectualism

A couple weeks ago, Bill and I were watching Oliver Stone's documentary, Public Speaking, about writer Fran Lebowitz. I loved it! I fell in love with her. (Here's a NYT article about the documentary, including some movie excerpts from Lebowitz.)

In the movie, Lebowitz talks about American elitism, which is also something Bill and I were talking about around the time of the election, when it was important, every day, to not be among the elite; she equates elitism with intellectualism.

This seems totally obvious now that I'm writing about it, but for some reason it sounded new to me when I heard Lebowitz talk about elitism. What strikes me about elitism and intellectualism is that intellectualism is a mark of privilege, yet it is does not solely arise from privilege (nor does privilege necessarily beget intellectualism). (I'm using terms without clearly defining them.) So then elitism and privilege seem to have some subtle differences; I think that's very interesting! To be elite seems to come at the sake of others and seems to be its own reward (to some extent). To be privileged seems to carry its own responsibility towards others (helping those less privileged).

I'm trying to piece out if it's possible to be elite and altruistic. If it could be so, then I think it would help give rise to a more positive image of intellectualism. And that, I believe, would only help Americans because we are distressingly undereducated. According to a study I just read, this is the first generation of Americans that is not as educated as the generation before. I'm not sure how that was measured, but it's so alarming.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Overheard: Life is Hard

6th Grader #1: "Recess, dude. I want recess back."

Later . . .

6th Grader #2: "They [preschoolers, presumably] get recess. And they get nap time. That's not even school."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Young Writers: Hooray!

Usually when I post here I'm never sure how I'm conceiving my audience. But in this post I'm very much talking to anyone who would happen to read this. And I'd like a little audience participation.

I'd like a little, "Awww!" for young writers. Today one of my sixth grade students came up to me and said, "Since you're the English teacher, would you be willing to read my book after I'm done writing it?"

Ready? "Awwww!"

I melted because he is so cute and I know that he is going to write that book. Double "awwww!"

In funny kid news, one of the seventh graders was writing a paper (a make-up essay for their bad grades and my bad communication first quarter) on a famous quote. He chose one from Confucious, whom most people, including "the people of the 7th grade" have studied. Ha! This morning I wanted to cry out, "Good morning, People of the Seventh Grade!"

I love these young writers. Love 'em.