Sunday, August 17, 2014

Observations, Attributions and Musings

"I'm a middle-aged Indian gay man with a paunch, who would want me?"

"I would," said the obscenely tall white gay man with complimentary paunch, smiling.

He wears the royal purple in a pleasant plaid.

He carries an umbrella, looped casually around his wrist. They said rain, he knows.

And they are fine together, walking in synch, as I stall against the passersby.

I'm going to the store. I'm going to the store. I'm going to the store. I'm going to the store.


Almost tripped that curb.

What was I saying? Oh yes!

I'm going to the store. I'm going to the store....

The slight man in the silly shorts and fanny pack - front facing - urges himself to Target with serious intention.

He has spilled something green on the white of his shirt. No matter.

He is fine, too, bottle-thick glasses focused on his feet benevolently preventing him from noticing the stares.

"GURL, you should have seen him!" only a dash of original color peeking through the shocking yellow and orange tint on that head of pointy, implausible hair.

Against the red of his shirt and blush it is at once garish and becoming.

Hand splayed. Voice now hushed. Gossip the only item on the agenda.

Her blush and lowered lash replies.

And back to the racks they go. Teenaged and tender.

And they are fine.

As are we all.

If only we allow.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I'm At 55% - A Day in Doctors' Offices

There's an ant on the floor and his aimless meander maddens me.

And fascinates me.

I'm too tired to rile, though.

This man's mustache is at once comical and a nuisance.

He's nice enough.

But he doesn't even acknowledge my ice-breaking jokes.

I miss my mother's comfort.

I miss being able to be comforted by my mother.

Now the gloss on the tile smiles brightly at me and makes me wish.

The cush of waiting room chairs is false; I'm here for the hard.

And why should I pay for parking?

An unnecessary dash of salt, I'd say.

In the end, rather
matter-of-factly, I'm very common.

So my scare, the kind I have not shared?

I cry in the parking lot, just to get it out of my system.

And go home to what is normal.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Things I Dare Not Say

I still can't tell who's right, Israel or Palestine, so I don't say anything at all and I fear that makes me, in part, to blame.

I can't tell who's to blame, the people who live in the shoot-'em-up neighborhoods, for letting it be like that or the people who don't live in the shoot-'em-up neighborhoods, for not helping those who live there.

I understand my kids' anger because it comes from me.  I am more sorry for passing along that trait than any other I can think of.

Illegal immigrants are committing a crime by entering our country illegally and that's the plain truth.

We are permitting illegal immigrants to enter this country because we want them here, and then we treat them poorly and shame them for being here, which makes us disgusting.

I believe public education is a good idea that's being managed badly but I'm o.k. with its inadequacy because I think it mirrors the dysfunction in real life, where good ideas like being a country of immigrants or sharing a holy land among more than one religious culture can get pretty tangled.

I'm afraid of my own potential, so I keep it tamped down as best I can and then laugh it off when it escapes from me anyway. (And no, for the love of peanuts, I am not running for office.)

I think we'd all be better off with more lives of faith rooted in love for one another than lives of faith in higher powers that lead us to be in conflict with one another.

I don't think Hillary should be President because the woman who breaks that barrier has to be her own person, not someone we know because of her husband.

I'd rather be a little fatter and happier than a little thinner and miserable.

I'm a lot poorer than I look but I don't give a damn any more.

I'm disappointed when my children do not get the honors or prizes they are aiming for, but I'd rather they get kicked in the shins and walk with a limp than never get kicked and not know how to stand on their own two feet.

All babies are beautiful, pure and deserving. Some don't get a chance and we all bear some responsibility, both for that fact and the change we could effect if we stopped being comfortable with that fact.

The fact is, I do what I can but it is never enough.

I dare to say first, because I hope to change my own self and be better.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Here's What I Don't Get

I heard a woman on the radio today talking about why she's camped out in Arizona protesting attempts to bring minor children from a detention center there into other parts of the U.S. for housing and care. The children are 'illegals'. She said it was a shame that they were children, but "clearly their parents didn't care enough about them to keep them and take care of them so...

Left hanging in the air was the end of the sentence which was "why should I care?"

I don't get that.

My son is away for a few days at a friend's house and the longing I have for his face, his warmth, his presence in my house is absurd and painful and silly, but potent and consuming nonetheless. I cannot even fathom the pain of looking that boy in his sweet face, holding his hands, putting my arms around him and his sisters and saying 'I think this is the best thing for you. I love you. Please, please be safe. Go. Stay together. I promise you I'll do my best to get to you if I can. Don't ever forget that I love you.'

Can you imagine that pain? That terror? That self-doubt and fear? What would drive you to that? Anything? I might not ever have the courage. But to save my starving child, I would pray for the strength.

So what was that woman on the radio saying? What kind of filth was she thinking? My first reaction was to call her disgusting. I said that, out loud, in my car. "Disgusting!"

And then I caught myself judging her the way she's judging these parents, without knowing what her pain is.

I don't know what it's like to live in Arizona. I don't know what it means to have to deal with so many strangers just trapsing through your town. It might be frightening or nerve-wracking or downright aggravating. It might be more than you could bear and you might lose your sense and think that little children coming to a new country with no family, no security, no sense of what might happen to them deserve to be yelled at and scared and detained and shipped back, without regard for where they might land when they get back 'home'.

You might be so mangled in your thinking by all the stress you're dealing with you might get on the radio and suggest to the world that I don't love my children.

I may be wrong to send them to another country; God help me so I never have to even contemplate such a thing. But you are wrong - wrong, wrong, wrong - to believe I don't care. And should fate ever ruin me to such a degree that my children must go away from me for some condition like the ones those parents suffer, I should pray with great passion that they do not meet that woman on the radio. I should call to God to deliver them into the hands of compassion, understanding and love that we should all enjoy when we are at our lowest. Isn't that the damn point of being an American?

I just don't get why we all don't get that.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Oh No They Dih-Int!

But yes, yes they did. In the typical nutcase-versus-hippie split decision the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a 5-4 decision which favors private companies' rights to exempt themselves from portions of the Affordable Care Act. Medical treatment or prescriptions otherwise allowable under the law, and decided upon by a licensed physician in consultation with a patient, can be excluded from coverage if a for-profit, private business can demonstrate the treatment's conflict with the business' religious views.

Because in yet another stunning victory for stupidity, our highest court has underlined the essential passage from the Rich White Man's true scripture: Chapter 1, Verse 1 "Corporations are people, my friends."

That's right. You heard it from Mitt (ironically, a Mormon) first, but the Supreme Court has generously donated tons of credibility through its display of complete disregard for history, our constitution or a freaking dictionary. A corporation's ability to act as an individual has now become its identity. I suppose corporations can have color preferences, allergies to legumes and dating habits, too?

What I find most fascinating about the absolute dirtiness of this decision and its implications is the trading of one kind of morality for another. So we say, in the voice of our highest secular authority:
It is more moral to support a corporation's desire to wear the cloak of human characteristic than it is to afford every citizen equal rights under the law. 
I can just hear Jesus giving up the "what what!"

Are you surprised that women are the subjects of this degradation? I'm not.  If corporations attempted to wear religion in order to deny men a service or treatment you'd be hearing the laughs for miles.

Are you at all taken by the fact that the 'winners' in this case are Christians? I'm not. Because you'd be hell bent to find the Tibetan monk who would get this case heard in the U.S. Supreme Court and you'd never find him. Same for the Orthodox Jew or the Muslim who might want to win the argument to have you cover your women up when you bring them into their shops, their restaurants, their offices.

The whole thing is embarrassing.

Americans do not win this one. Christians do not win this one. We fail. We fail to love one another as He loved us. What greater sin against God is there?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Where I Reside

I haven't talked to the man I think of as my father for nearly thirty-five years. I should wonder if he cares, but honestly the years have worn away the care. Now, it is nearly bore.

That is what I will tell you. I am loud out here so you cannot see me in the quiet.

The man my mom married was not my biological father but for as much as it mattered, he was. I had aunts, uncles, cousins, a grandmother. A whisper. When the marriage ended, the relationships carried on for a while. Then days and distances and no more.

They are my family. But then, too, for as much as it matters they are not.

And all the accoutrements of family -

the comfort and taste of my aunt's food

the familiar ripple of my uncle's gold chain against his neck

the laugh that shares and shakes cousins on a couch too small for all to fit

those are for dreaming days in a waking world.

And there's no one to blame and no tonic but your own.

I'm currently on a path to reconnect with my father's family, a ride on an un-beckoned wave. For what purpose? Really, I will not know.

I'll say I go to show my children. I do not urge them past their own fears or deepest weakness capriciously. I travel in the direction of my hurt as I would point them in the direction of theirs, to face it. When for them, I hold them firmly against me so my heat can be felt through whatever armor, so they know they are loved. We walk together.

Still, I fail in that I do not believe it for myself.

That is the damage that cannot be undone.

Most people look at the family I have made and think it's idyllic. I am cured with that irony and laugh for its deliciousness. It is real. And then, despite my wanting not to, I brace for the hurt and return to the quiet.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

For JB. And The Rest of Us Who are Being Ruined by Education.

My friend JB found herself at once pleased and alarmed that she was able to use the word 'rigor' in a game of scrabble. Pleased, because, heck, any well-placed word feels good in a game of scrabble. Alarmed because she found herself using the buzzwords of the edu-world in her non edu-life. JB is a teacher.

As such, rigor is really the least of her worries. She could find herself trying to ALIGN everything in her life. Alignment's a big deal. Check a teacher's pantry... it's either eerily OCD, bordering on the 'needs medical attention' or rebelliously chaotic - jars and cans facing opposite directions for no apparent reason, on the same shelves with boxes and bags, madness! Edu-speak is ruining them.

Then there's the question of SCAFFOLDING and let me stop you right there! This has nothing to do with construction or window-washing downtown. If that's what you're picturing, you don't know squat about education.

Are you familiar with all the PIECES? When you try to fit that piece in or when you talk about that piece or think about that piece you need to be aware that there are lots of PIECES in education. Lots. Not for the weak or weary, the pieces.

JB ought to be pleased she didn't find herself blurting out ROBUST! in answer to a question. Sure, people of a certain age will remember a coffee commercial with an excellently placed nose over a teaspoon of Sanka grounds, but those people should banish that image from their memories and replace it with an image of curricula. How do you picture curricula? That's not the point. The point is curricula should be robust. If you don't know that, back away from the education.

Speaking of backing away, I might suggest a little BACKWARDS PLANNING. This one kills me. 'We are intentionally backwards.' Really? That explains so much.

In fact, we're INTENTIONAL a lot. Very important. Be intentional. (Don't accomplish anything - 'accomplish' is not an important word in education. Just intentional.)

Everything is about METRICS and MOVING FORWARD, even though you are backwards planning, which may explain why often you are traveling right off the edge of a cliff. Irrelevant. Just measure and move.

And make sure you're NORMING and ASSESSING all the while! If you're not, get out of the game. You have no VALUE-ADD.

Something we don't talk about too much? TOUCHING. You have to look at how many students you touch, whether or not you touch them at all, whether you failed to touch. Interesting, isn't it? Because you have to do a lot of touching, but you can get pulled off the floor for hugging a kid.

And don't forget to address the needs of your DIVERSE POPULATION. If your population is not diverse, make that up, because having the needs of a diverse population is mission critical. Then, you have to address the needs. You don't get resources or support in doing that. You just have to do it. Like magic! Isn't that fun?

Last but not least, make sure you are DIGGING DOWN if you plan to get into the edu-world today. You need to really dig deep. Big deal.

In fact, invest in a shovel. It'll come in handy for more than one thing.