Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Today is the birthday of my Queen Mom, the regal, royal, brilliant, handsome, fabulous, alluring, tempting, witty, charming, nurturing, elegant, wonderful, did I mention gorgeous, Dutchess.

My heart is better for loving you, my mind is quicker for speaking to you, and I love you from the bottom of my tarsus, which is like my heart only deeper.

Happy 25th birthday, you hunk of burnin' love you

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The world is what you make it

Paul Brady has rapidly graying red curly hair pale skin with freckles and pronounced jowls; he is also an Irish folk singer. This man wrote a song that changed my life, here is the story. . .

I just I stepped out of the foyer at the answering service (one of my 3 jobs) into the dark winter morning, the slush sloshed into my shoes and the snow squeaked as I walked across the parking lot to my car. Ah my car, a white 1977 Granada, it had served me well, I had lived in that car for a few weeks the previous spring. It was a cranky old man of a car in its twilight years. Something had happened to the engine that required me to hop out at lights and put a clothes pin on the butterfly valve so that it wouldn’t stall out and as an added bonus occasionally flames would shoot out of the carburetor and it would backfire. I became an expert at timing lights which was a good thing because the brake lights were out. With a loud shriek of metal the dented driver side door opened and a mountain of snow fell down on me from the roof. With a pair of sweat socks on my hands in lieu of mittens I began the process of brooming snow off the car. The snow wasn’t all bad because it piled up around the license plate and hid the fact that the registration was expired. I slid behind the whore red wheel (the interior was entirely a deep red). I turned the key and a startled flock of pigeons took to wing when pre dawn silence was broken with a snarl and a giant roar, the muffler had a hole in it. I began the process of scraping the inside of the windows (the heater was sporadic at best) and waiting for the engine to warm up.
I was finally going to get to sleep, if I could just make it home. I had the next 12 hours off and was running on 6 hours of sleep from 36 hours ago. I just had to make it through the rich suburb of Birmingham to get to the highway then to my house in Oak Park. This trek was complicated by the fact that my car was, shall we say, not a desirable vehicle to pass through the toney Birmingham neighborhood and the cops extended the love. I was also driving on a suspended license because the afore mentioned cops caught me with my tabs expired and of course I couldn't’t afford to get the insurance and plates and pay the ticket.
I roared out onto the road, stomach clenched and quaking. I had recently left the warm bosom of a quasi commune I was living on and I felt lonely, empty and nothing felt right since I left. I was feeling lost and miserable like my life was just a pathetic run on a half frozen treadmill helpless and trapped in my poverty inherited from my family. To distract myself from my anxiety and the roar of the holey muffler I turned on the radio (at least that worked well). As I was coasting along a song came on the and somehow the jumpin’ guitar and classical references pierced my cocoon of helpless misery and I really heard the lyrics. . .

I knew this African called Hannibal

Rock it roll it send it down the avenue

Went out to see the Roman Empire fall Uh huh? uh huh?

Two thousand elephants in gold chain-mail

Take it, shake it, make it what you wanna be

Them Roman legionnaires they hit the trail Uh huh?

The world is what you make it The world is what you make it

When Cleopatra ruled in Egypt's land

Jump down, turn around, look at what the monkey did

She went to find herself a mighty man Uh huh? uh huh?

In come Antonio from Italy

Haul it, ball it, drag it up the pyramid,

He never knew how hot a girl could be Uh huh?

The world is what you make it

The world is what you make it baby

The world is what you make it

Don't start to hit me with your "no can do

" Bluesin', losin', workin' up an attitude

Clean up them windows let the sun shine through Uh huh? uh huh?

There ain't no happy time without no pain

heartbreak, new date, move on up the alleyway

Pick up them pieces hit the road again Uh huh?

The world is what you make it

The world is what you make it baby

The world is what you make it

Copyright Hornall Brothers Music

At that moment, I had an epiphany, the world IS what I make it, I don’t have to be this miserable, impoverished, sad heap, I can make my world what I want it to be. Hell, if Hannibal can take frickin’ elephants over the alps what is a little poverty and sadness compared to that feat.

It was a turning point. That very day I changed my mind and changed my life.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Oh the pressure to produce meaningful content, oh the guilt for not writing, to hell with it I say!!! I am not going to blog every day darn it, I am going to try to do it pretty often in honor of NABLOPOMO but I am not going to stress over it. Take that NABLOPOMO.

The problem with a blog is that it is so public, do I want my students reading this, do I want my friends and relatives reading this? This public nature tends to rob me of content or make me feel self conscious. My introvert nature rears its lovely back and says, hmmm perhaps not.

I always think of things to blog about when I am away from my computer and pen and paper, I say it out loud hoping to remember "I should write a blog about that" but what usually happens when I sit down to write is that I remember saying the words and the exact quality of the light glinting off my friend's glasses that I said the comment to or who originated the conversation that led the the exclamation but what I want to write about. . . gone.

I like to think of those topics as being on the back burner of my mind, gathering momentum and content while my more conscious self worries about things like working on my paper on medications that will kill you if the disease doesn't get you first, or on pharmacological applications of bacteria cytotoxins or some such catchy stuff.

I write a lot, every day. When it comes to writing for pleasure, which my intent is that my blog will be pleasure writing, I find my dance card filled with the more practical, medical writing that is my education and profession. I am quite often tempted to write about my pursuits in health care but it is so specialized and to the non-medical person boring or incomprehensible that I make the choice not to talk about it here. The other thing that is my somewhat obsession is teaching. I think probably 6/10 blog posts are about teaching and how much I love it so I should probably cut y'all a break and not talk about that.

I enjoy academic writing, don't get me wrong but because I produce so much work that I MUST do the delightful flower in the field of writing that is fiction, or essay just really gets mowed under. I hope it is there waiting for me when I finish school, I hope I have not killed it dead with the stodgy stylings of academia (although I must confess I tend to push the envelope of academic style when it is wedded to my personal writing style). I have not written a short story since I started back to college and as for an essay they have pretty much all been either related to teaching, health care, teaching health care, politics or gender theory.

Here are the thoughts of the day that I had my students do a timed writing on. . .

1. 90% of life is attitude, no matter how much or how little one has to start with, one's attitude toward the world will shape how one ends up.

2. Better to do something imperfectly than nothing perfectly

Ta for now dolls, I have another post brewing and I need to stir the pot
PS I have included the above painting of "St George and the Dragon" by Paolo Ucello 1456 because I love it.
PPS When I was a little girl it made me sad because I thought St George was killing the woman's pet dragon.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Resorting to observations of the natural world

Today as I was sitting outside a flock of wild Quaker parakeets came swooping into the nearby tree.
Quaker parakeets are cute birds a little larger than a budgie. Folklore says that sometime during the 1970s a large shipment came into Galveston harbor to be sent on across the country to waiting pet shops. The crate the Quakers were in somehow got dropped and smashed and hundreds of birds escaped resulting in the colony here.
They build HUGE nests, like the size of a Buick, I kid you not. The nests are built out of sticks by the colony and the pairs then add on and arrange their own 3 chambered “apartments” in the community nest. The individual nests have a room for the babies, a room for the parents and a look out porch room of sorts.
Quakers are excellent mimics, the ones by my school imitate various car noises and it sure sounds like they imitate the distinctive laugh of one of the teachers who smokes outside.
As I was sitting outside they were waddling around on the ground by me, relatively fearless. They also gladly took the grapes I tossed to them. For being an invasive species they sure are cute.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Last weekend

I had high hopes of posting a blog about my recent vacation to northern California but I realized if I waited until I got my act together with editing the pictures I would have another set of vacation pictures to post. Therefore, I decided to write something anyway.

Did you know that the month of November is national blog posting month, damn it. I found out 2 days into the month so alas I am already behind for the ideal of blogging every day in honor of NABLOPOMO or whatever the snappy abbreviation really is. (I personally like the way NABLOPOMO rolls off the tongue) I guess I will have to write 2 posts in one da bwahahahahahaha sorry; I couldn’t even get through THAT sentence.
This past Halloween weekend here in loverly TX we had an entire host of events going on. . .

There was the rally, the Lone Star Rally, in which 300,000 motorcycles converged on Galveston Island, on Halloween, none the less. I understand that there was a temporary topless trailer bar, classy.

Also last weekend was the air show,” Wings Over Houston”. Cheapskate that I am I decided to creep as close as I could to the air field on back roads and watch for free, I am so wily. It was pretty awesome, I love air shows, especially free air shows. The Blue Angles were amazing and death defying, which I think may be their unofficial slogan,

Of course Saturday was also Kelly’s birthday, he turned 25. . . .: long pregnant pause with arched eyebrow: -look, it’s his story and he is sticking to it, what can I say. We spent his birthday at a great little hole in the wall biker bar called Down on Main Street in Baytown, TX. The people were super friendly, very fun and generally all around welcoming. Kelly and I will definitely be back. Oh and the live band was pretty good to, Overdrive, the bass guitar chick did a couple of mean Joan Jett songs.
All in all I had a great time and amazingly didn't spend too much money, always good.
I hope to have my vacation pictures and blog up soon, considering I am trying to blog something every day despiration should drive me to get it together. Bye for now loves

Monday, September 21, 2009

Since I haven’t blogged in awhile I thought I would just share some random stuff on my mind. .

I believe I have found my vocation in teaching. This is a wonderful thing and a terrible thing. Wonderful because I practically skip to work every day and LOVE what I do. Teaching fills me up and empties me out in a way very few things have done in my life let alone a job. Every day I am challenged to pour myself out for my students, to stand in the gap for them so they may bridge the gap between ignorance and knowledge, between success and failure. Teaching has cracked open my soul the way falling in love for the first time does. Wonderful, right? Here is the terrible part; I am not even half as good as I want to be more than half of the time. I want to reach my students, to inspire them, to do what it takes to make the information that will be so vital to their professional lives stick. Yet so many things pull them, their lovers, their children, their previous disastrous attempts at education, the miniscule amount of self esteem and self confidence so many of them have, the poverty, exhaustion and the apathy. My plan to improve myself as a teacher has been to learn everything I can about my craft but what it seems to come down to is to care about my students and, to quote Dorey from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimmin’”
Which brings me to the second though; teaching is a type of performance. I really had never thought about this before when I taught my physicians or fellow employees. Day in and day out I am putting on a floor show for my students to teach them something. No matter how I feel or what I personally think I must hit the boards with a positive attitude and focused communication. I would really like to team up with a theatre department somewhere and create a seminar for teachers to give them theatrical training that will help in class. Information and training on things like voice projection and modulation prop work, scripting, stage movement, all things that inform teaching that can be taken from theatre.

For my last tidbit I will stray away from the teaching obsession and talk about the birds. Where I lived in Michigan, even before that in Indiana this is the time of year that the birds are leaving and heading south, we say good bye to geese and robins, hummingbirds and oriels and our feeders become filled with chick-a-dees and song sparrows. Here bird things are just starting to heat up, the early Canadian geese are just arriving and the humming birds from all over the northern US are stopping off here for a rest and a sip of nectar from the blooming trees and the feeders in my yard. Hummingbirds, by the way, are vicious little swordsmen who beat the crap out of each other.
My students are arriving for my night class so I bid you adieu until next time. . . C

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Boiled shrimp and friendliness in Texas

As ya’ll know I am in the midst of love affair with Texas. This past weekend I found yet another thing I love about where I live. I attended the annual shrimp boil for “The Rose”. The Rose is the local breast cancer fundraising/treatment organization. A shrimp boil, for my dear ones in the north, is when you boil up a mess of shrimp, potatoes, and corn on the cob in a big ole pot with Old Bay seasoning and some other secret spices to create a potent potion of palatable pleasure. In addition to the shrimp boil there was a bake sale of note with various pies, cakes, cookies and the best damn fudge brownies I have ever had. These pillows of chocolate bliss had cinnamon and chili peppers in them and super dark chocolate chips, oh bliss, oh ecstasy.
There was an auction, a real live “hey give me 75 do I here 75” auction. The auction was presided over by a big ole beard havin’, cowboy hat wearin’, biker belly sportin’, giant belt buckle flashin’ man named Bear. Among other things auctioned was a quilt in the shape of Texas with each panel being something relevant to Texas life and culture that went for $2,000 and a Yorkshire terrier puppy and a year’s worth of vet care for $5,000. All in all the auction and shrimp boil raised $50,000 for The Rose which provides breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and early treatment to women, regardless of their ability to pay. The Rose also helps women diagnosed with breast cancer navigate through the options in the community for assistance. The thing that made me love the whole thing was the absolute kindness and friendliness of everyone attending and involved. While I was perusing the silent auction items and waiting in line I fell into easy conversation with several people and even got invited to lunch because the woman I was speaking with realized I was from somewhere else and “needed to meet some friends”. To add even further delight to the afternoon I won the 50/50 raffle and got a t-shirt and a beer cozy. I love Texas.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Alright, I am not dead just emerging from my finals, my student’s finals and a week of vacation.
As for my finals, I did well even if it almost killed me. For my student’s finals they did well, exceptionally well, I am so proud.

My vacation was to Galveston Island, which sounds exotic but is actually only about a 20 min drive from my work.

I stayed at a hotel about 50 feet or so from the beach. The hotel “The Commodore on the Beach” and although it was a bit down on it’s heels it was clean and the staff was very nice. It is also the cheapest hotel on the ocean. If you are looking for a cheap, no frills clean room with a great view of the ocean and a really nice swimming pool, this is your place.

The Houston birding society held a lecture on Roseate Spoonbills with a guided visit to their nesting grounds. They are very odd looking birds and in addition their nesting ground is infested with huge alligators with very pink mouths, perhaps from all the spoonbills they eat.

Image credit: Roseate Spoonbill, Fort DeSoto Park, Tierra Verde, FL
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The big excitement of my trip was going to a beach in a state park and while I was admiring the storm coming in over the ocean noticed that my hair was standing on end, no small feat as I have a lot of hair. I didn’t really think much of it and returned to my car after nonchalantly taking some pictures and looking for shells. Come to find out right before lightening strikes, one of the indications, is one’s hair standing on end. Years and years of college, 41 years of living and I am too oblivious to notice that I am the tallest thing on the beach and a STORM is coming in, egads.

I am back to teaching today after having a week off and am so glad to be back. I have the new students this time instead of my usual advanced students. I am looking forward to getting to know them.

In many of the blogs I read regularly people are talking about rereading Jane Eyre, this is one of my favorite books and I may leap gleefully on the band wagon here and reread it just for kicks.

One of my favorite lines from the book:
Mr. Rochester is speaking to Jane who has just told him she is going to take a position in Ireland…
"Are you anything akin to me, do you think, Jane?"I could risk no sort of answer by this time; my heart was full."Because," he said, "I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you — especially when you are near to me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous Channel, and two hundred miles or so of land, come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapped; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly."

My favorite movie of Jane Eyre is the one with Timothy Dalton as Mr. Rochester he is oh so swoony.

Well loves, ta for now, I promise to write more soon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gluteus Helios or a quick 15 min between classes

I have a coworker who hates or is persecuted by everything and everyone. If I gave her a diamond encrusted rose that magically made her young again she would cut her nose on the diamonds, get some horrible infection and it would instead of putting her out of her misery cause her some protracted misfortune that would make her car break down and cause her to get fired. I mean seriously everything she comes in contact with sucks AND she attempts with great determination to suck the joy from those around her. Today she told me I was too happy and that it irritated her, I take this as a compliment.

Attitude is everything, I always tell my students that the only way out is through and you get a choice you can be dragged through life in chains or you can dance through, it is up to you. I know that this sounds a bit like I am trying to shoot sunshine out my butt but it is my firm belief that no matter what the circumstance one can make it better or worse by making a choice how to deal with it.
I have had some pretty horrible things happen to me in my life, I have had some pretty fantastic things happen to me in my life. I think I will focus on the joy cause honestly I would rather remember that than the shitty parts.
There is a parlor trick where in one person puts his or her arm out to the side, parallel with the ground and another person uses 2 fingers on the wrist of the out thrust arm and tries to push it down. The first time you do it the person with the arm out thinks of the saddest or worst day they can think of and blamo the arm goes down without even a fight. Then you do it again and tell the person with the arm outstretched to think of best day they can remember or something great and what do you know the same amount of resistance results in the arm staying up. This is not a scientific test by any stretch. Be that as it may I believe I will choose to dance through whatever comes my way rather than be dragged through in chains; cause the only way out is through.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

When I read The Hobbit in the 4th grade 2 things struck me the first was I thought I must be a related to hobbits because I had hair on my feet and the second was wanted a hobbit hole of my very own.
Just the description of them is enough to make me dreamy . . .

“. . . it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with paneled walls and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats--the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill--The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it--and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river” The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
Although in my Christinaland the door is red but I digress.
So today I was dreamily contemplating building my very own hobbit hole and I started browsing around the internet as I am wont to do and voila some fantastic Hobbit holes appeared

The first is in Wales (the picture above and below)

The second (and my favorite) was built to house a very valuable collection of Tolkien manuscripts and other miscellanea and is in Pennsylvania.

I wonder how long I will need to save on my teacher’s salary to have one of these puppies made. I guess if I really want one than going after my PhD is not longer merely an option (pout). It doesn’t quite go with the prehistoric garden exactly but I think a good bunch of ancient ferns and old growth forest would pacify me.
If you are interested in finding out more about these houses here are the links. .

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Prehistoric gardening

I went to the Houston Garden Center this weekend because they are having a half off sale. I got the COOLEST plant since my stag fern; it is called a rabbit foot fern (Davallia fejeensis). It looks like an ordinary fern except it has little furry rhizomes that snake out of the dirt and cover the pot entirely and look very much like little rabbit or squirrel feet. The cheap white plastic hanging basket this plant is in is completely covered by the rhizomes, can’t see it at all. It looks like a ball of furry roots with fern fronds shooting out of it hanging from my porch ceiling.

While at the garden center I found a new plant for my backyard garden, called Australian Tree Fern (Cyathea Cooperi) . It is a Cyanth which is one of the oldest types of trees in the world, virtually unchanged since the Paleolithic period. It grows well in subtropical areas (whoo hoo that’s me with my zone 9b butt), it gets to be 40-50 feet tall with individual fern fronds approximately 6-8 feet long and fiddle heads the size of my FIST! I can also grow orchids, tillandsia (air plants) and other small ferns in the scars where the fronds break off .

It just so happens that where my AC water drains is perfect for horsetail ferns (Equisetum hyemale), also at the garden center and also 50% off. They are cool for several reasons- one can snap off each segment with a satisfying pop and even put them back together, they make attractive dried specimens AND they are a natural soap. My favorite thing about them is the satisfying snap they make when I pull the sections apart, sort of like an organic bubble wrap.

I want to make my back yard look like a raptor could hop out of the undergrowth at any moment. One of the really grand things about creating a prehistoric subtropical garden is that almost all the plants are very hardy and once established need very little care. I am also planning to put in an outside aquarium/pond where I will grow water lily and the odd pond fish.

I am so excited about gardening here, it is completely different than in Michigan- I can grown my own bananas for Pete's sake. Michigan is zone 4, four as in -30 to -24 for the coldest winter temperatures (good GOD!) and now I am in zone 9b as in 30 to 25 for the coldest winter temperatures, staggering that I survived in zone 4, let alone my plants.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Focus, work and irises

I have the pleasure of shepherding 38 single mothers who, for the most part, are living in or coming from dire circumstances to a diploma in medical coding and insurance. They almost all have had bad educational experiences before coming to me. Many of them don't read very well. Most of them get up at some god awful hour take their children to daycare then either come to class then go to work or go to work then come to class. Very few of them can afford child care so a family member usually provides the care. This system is usually fraught with difficulty that only a family can bring. I have had students come to take a final with a small child or 2 and have one student watch the children while the mom takes the final. The thing that amazes me is that they are thriving. I can see the change that this academic success is creating in them. I see them standing up straighter, putting up with less crap, stating their needs in a calm and polite manner and making choices that are moving them closer and closer to their goals of financial independence. I am honored to be the individual who gets show them what they need to know to be outstanding in their field. I am excited that they are going to be going out into the industry to make their fortunes. I particularly like it when I can recommend a student to go on for her bachelor’s degree. I love meeting their children and family and I am full of pride at their progress and where they are headed. In a world where so many people are full of lazy ennui and entitlement blasé my students are in a full hammer and tong forward motion to their goals, despite all their hardships, despite their exhaustion, despite the statistics.

Once I lived in a small house in Indiana. The back yard was full of trash and junk. My grandma and I cleared out the old shingles and boards, removed years upon years of trash, trimmed back the bushes and mowed the grass. A few months later we had hundred of irises coming up; they were gorgeous and had been hidden under all those old boards the entire time. I hope that I can bring as much to the teaching as they do to the learning.

Dr Wicked, rambling, my students and throwing perfection to the wind

Several of the people whose blogs I frequently read are singing the praises of not only the 15 min timed writing but "Dr Wicked" as a tool for writing. Well, I decided to give it a whirl. . .

Intellectually I really want to blog, to share my keen (snort) insights with the world and also offer a sort of ongoing letter to the people I know and love. I find the prospect of having something meaningful to say daunting at least when the ideal is to regularly produce something. Academic writing I can do all day, give me a subject and point me in a direction and blamo 15 pages for you, meticulously researched but to write formlessly or worse yet to have to decide on something “meaningful” to write about, ekes.
If I were writing a letter on paper to my friends I would have no trouble rambling on about this and that odd minutia in my life, why should this be different?

Today I am thinking about how difficult it can be to deal with the people I love in my life. I have 2 very close friends who absolutely despise each other with a purple passion. Normally it is possible for me to avoid this area with them but lately they just can't shut up about each other and I am tired of hearing it so I am avoiding both of them as much as possible. This solution is not working so well because even though they are in a cold war with plenty of propaganda I love both of them and want to see them. This ugliness is poisoning not only them but my relationship with them.

Also today I find that I am craving more free time, aren’t we all. I work a strange schedule, Monday - Thursday I teach from 8:00 am until 10:50 pm with a break in the middle for office hours and if I am lucky a nap. I do not make the trek home because gas is just too expensive. What it boils down to is that I am gone from my house from Monday until Thursday all day and most of the night. I have to sleep biphasically or I will die, (in my twenties 5 hours sleep a night was all good but now in my 40s it just seems mean). I have no time during the week for anything other than the school I teach and the school I attend. It seems to be working out, my students are happy and I have excellent grades. I am pining however for just a nice evening after work when I can lounge about and chat with friends or have a leisurely dinner that I get to cook. I miss cooking. The upside to this is that I have a 3 day weekend. I love having 3 days off in a row, and to some extent it makes up for being gone 4 days a week. I am right now, however, craving a less feast and famine approach and more of a steady stream. I feel a bit ungrateful to be complaining at all as many people don't even have a job. I just miss my house, my dog and my front porch during the week. Sigh

I am running out of stuff to talk about and Dr Wicked is reminding me to keep going, this sure seems like a long 15 min. I could always talk about how much I love Texas and how happy I am to have left Michigan but that will become repetitive soon enough in inspired posts so I think I will leave that off for now.

Ugh pink screen, this is kinda tricky. I am so touched by my students. Most of them are single moms trying to make changes in their lives and they are so inspiring. They have kids, usually more than one. I have 2 students who have twins under the age of 3. They work all day or all night and come to class. Most of them get good grades, all of them are trying very hard to become more than what people have called them all their lives. Most of my students have had bad experiences with education, most of my students had to drop out of regular high school and go to an alternative high school because they were pregnant. Most of my students have never been taught critical thought or even had a formal introduction to grammar. Most of them come from bad neighborhoods and poor schools where they were lucky to have textbooks. Somehow they have made it to me from their myriad of paths through violence, bad teachers, divorce, single motherhood, and poverty. They have arrived on the shores of my class ready to learn and change. I have 9 months to instill in them what I can. To teach them about simple things like code switching, dressing for success, how to write relatively well, as well as all the curriculum I can squeeze in. More importantly they learn that they can do it. They learn that they are valuable and worthy, that they deserve to be proud, happy and treated with respect and dignity. That with work and dedication they can make a life for themselves and their children that doesn’t involve waiting on a welfare check or being dependant on spotty child support.
I think I need to come back and write a real blog about my students as my 15 min are up.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How my Gran and Pop Met

Yes Ma'am

On my way to work I drive down the main street of my town that is actually a ‘main street’ (think Frank Capra movie version of “Main Street” and bingo yah got it). There is any sort of store you would want and not the big homogenized chains but odd little thriving shops that are actually owned by people who live in my town, everything from coffee shops to batting cages to an archery range to a bakery. My town has a street named Beauty Shop and there is, amazingly enough, a beauty shop at the end of the street with a sign that reads “The higher the hair, the closer to God”. I see my neighbors in the grocery store and we chat, I see the people who own the shops in town at the free concerts in the park and they wave. My neighbor is a single fella, a paramedic, and people frequently bring him casseroles so he doesn’t starve on his 24 hour on call shifts.

The other day I was coming out of the grocery store and I needed to pick up a bag of ice from the giant freezer outside the store. I am short and the freezer is tall and I was struggling to hold my groceries and deal with the door and the ice and a man came running up and with a smile said “Excuse me, ma’am, let me help you with that” and got my ice for me AND insisted on carrying my groceries and walked me to my car while chatting pleasantly with me, apparently without ulterior motive.

Today I turned off my main street onto Space Center Blvd, which takes me right by the Sony Carter Training Center for astronauts and right behind the Johnson Space Center. Just past the intersection big glossy cows with clear brown eyes and calm dispositions were being lead by large men in cowboy hats and dusty boots at a cattle auction in the field behind the bank, there were petite oil drills working in the back of the field and the smell of sweet grass from the freshly mowed median was in the air.

I feel like a refugee from a harsh world coming here after Detroit. It feels like I can finally breathe free and relax. In Detroit I felt beset and tenacious and proud of my staying power and ability to navigate safely in a hostile environment and thrive in spite of the world around me. Not since I lived in Port Huron have I felt this sense of comfort. Here I feel like I am home, I am in a place where I fit, where my roots are suited to the soil.