Saturday, April 10, 2010

By Gary Snyder:

The rising hills
the slopes
of statistics
lie before us
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down

In the next country
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to you and your children:
learn the flowers
go light.

Friday, February 26, 2010

the return of the sun

These past few weeks I've felt a sort of nervous anticipation when I wake up with the sun shining through my half-closed shade...I know we're still in the midst a Minnesota winter, but today I can't help but feel like the sun is finally edging its way back to life. From the perspective I have right now, watching the ice slush beneath me on my bicycle and the light resting on the snow banks outside the Arise front window, it feels like all the ups and downs of this winter might be starting to slow. Then again, it could just be all the good feelings that have been welling up in me these past two days. Since Thursday I have felt so well-fed and warmed by people and conversations, and its days like these that make me remember why I struggle.

I have been thinking a lot about what I stand for, what I really believe. My site review on Wednesday left me feeling so useless - had I really spent 6 months thinking I was this fair, kind person, only to find that I was just as callous and thoughtless and I had feared? My feelings about it have calmed a little, which is good. I think I have a tendency to automatically blame myself for conflicts that arise, without realizing that I am not the only person involved and can't totally be at fault.

I've been thinking a lot this week about what true inclusion means. What does it mean to live in a truly inclusive society? To me, inclusion means welcoming and respecting the lives and experiences of everyone I come into contact with, including:

- people of all ages - kids, older folks, middle aged folks (i.e. not just young single ppl with no kids)
- people of all genders - men, women, transfolk, non-gendered folk
- parents and guardians and all those raising or living with children
- anyone with physical or cognitive abilities that are different from my own
- people from every socio-economic background - from those with no resources to those with the most
- people of all races, all cultures, all experiences and backgrounds

It can be a really positive, reaffirming experience to finally find a community of people who share the same habits, thought patterns, living situation, financial background, or physical appearance as you, especially if you have felt alienated by larger groups of people for any of those characteristics. But more and more I realize its not enough to build a comfortable nest for yourself. At a certain point you have to look beyond the nest, you have to reach out and find inspiration and common ground with those you feel like you have nothing in common with. It's so important to have a community of people you feel attached to, but building communities takes work. It means recognizing and celebrating differences, not just similarities. It means struggling, discovering, questioning. Its not enough to assume that because someone dresses in a certain way or shows up at events you attend, you know and understand their values and their mind.

Friday, November 6, 2009

lyfe in COLOR!!!!!


so, speaking of those mountain goats, how great is it that john darnielle (lead singer and that guy who writes all the songs) has a flicker page? ahhhh looking at it just now kind of makes my heart want to bust outta my ribs. it's weird seeing a person you know only through their music in pictures with awkward lighting and facebook type commentary. i love it. and i love that after a while you sort of figure out that even though each person moves through the world differently, everybody inhabits the same 3D universe that's full of poorly composed graffiti, anonymous highways and emo self-portraits with a webcam.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

mountain goats, oh, oh, oh

just bought tickets to see these lovely people:

november is clearly the best month.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

All work, all the time.

I kind of feel that way, especially working days like this, when I leave the house at 7:50 and don't come home until 9:30. And when I'm not at work I'm thinking about work! Which means this whole teaching/working with kids thing is pretty serious. I want to give a good, solid rundown of the school I'm working at and the after school program I help with twice a week...I'd like to recount what I'm doing with my kids and what I'm getting out of all this (which is a fucking lot, let me tell you!) but I'm just too tired. But as I drove home today after dropping off two of my kids, I thought, this is the best kind of tired. I'm learning so much and my brain feels so full its busting all its seams. It's challenging for sure. Even though I've only been working at Humbodlt for a few days, it is already painfully clear how messed up No Child Left Behind is. I look around the high school I work at and feel frustrated with the "teach to the test" mentality forced on teachers, and the lack of fun, meaningful work the students get. Then again, it makes me invent crazy lesson plans and classroom activities in my head. The ideas seemed to spill out of me today as I wrote them down after school. God, it's so bizarre. I swing back and forth so much in just a day. Even after feeling so charged and elated, tonight I also felt the first pangs of rejection when I realized one of the two kids I had so much fun playing and joking with on Monday was acting kinda frosty towards me. I pondered and fretted about it the whole way home, wondering if I had tried to be too friendly too fast, or said something weird on the drive home. And then back again...on the other side of the pendulum I had a nice, quiet tutoring session with a Hmong High school student who made me smile inwardly as we tried to figure out the square root of 11 and talked about being shy in class. Kids are such peculiar creatures. But they make me bend my mind in directions it doesn't usually go. Maybe that's why I'm so physically and mentally drained...I can feel excited and challenged and contemplative and playful all in one day, and all those spins and circles keep me thinking and stretching my brain in ten different directions. So yes, I'm tired. But I feel really 'on', like someone plugged me into a socket. It's really is the best kind of tired. And sometimes I even find myself thinking: I could get used to this.

Has it really only been three days?

Monday, September 14, 2009

First day...

So, here I am, with my first day as an Americorps worker under my belt. Although I made it for the last day of training on Friday, today was my first full day on the job, and it was a very long, hectic day. I'm exhausted and have to get up in a few hours, but on my drive home tonight I decided I want to keep track of this experience, tired as I may be at the end of the day.

Quick reflections:

- Nervousness about working at Humboldt High - no one seems to realize I need some help here! I'm totally unprepared! I didn't even get to see the lunchroom! I just got thrown into a class and bamn! Whoa.
- Taking a 1/2 hour to help a student get her locker open...was not the best way to start my time at Humboldt
- Realizing that I may need to be proactive when it comes to Humboldt - i.e. asking questions and talking seriously with teachers about how I can best help them, since it doesn't seem like anyone is planning on doing it for me
- Feeling socially awkward with my 6th per. 7th grade ELL class - am I that bad?!?
- Need to acquire more "biz-cas" (business casual) attire, as my wardrobe is sorely lacking...sneakers? tank tops? These will not do, no sir.
- Lack of air conditioning in a crowded high school = one sweaty me; compare and contrast with the overpowering gusts of icey wind at the baker rec center (where the jane addams school is located)

Whew. I'm off to bed. At least tomorrow I'm off by 2:30.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Praise the heavens, throw confetti in the fucking air, kiss your lucky rabbit's foot, this girl is gainfully employed.