Friday, March 31, 2006


Recently, I wake up at just past 1 a.m. and lay there, listening to the two cats and the man next to me compete enthusiastically in loud breathing contests. I stay there, shifting in my carved-out space, until after 3, around which time I drift back into sleep for another hour. Then finally I just get up. At that point, I am too foggy to write, too awake to snooze, too lazy to find the remote for the DVD player so I can watch the entire first season of Mind of Mencia yet again. Sleep has always been my specialty, a skill I've prided myself in being able to perform almost anywhere and any time. Apparently, I have lost my touch.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


My friend Jessica sent this to me. I don't know who to credit for the art, but I wanted to share.

Not Healing as Fast as I Thought

A week ago, I got my first tattoo. It is a spiral on the anterior side of my left wrist. This is what it represents to me: I was raised in a religion of fear by a fearful parent, and although I have rejected almost all of the practices that went with that, I fear almost as easily as I breathe. To complicate the matter, working as a hospital chaplain for a while showed me the underside of the universe, the chaos and pain that stream to the surface of people dying senseless deaths. That kind of ripped my innocence right to shreds. And I am OCD. So I need a less than gentle reminder that a) life is happening right now whether or not I am diving into it, b) if I don't dive right in, then I am squandering time, c) good things and bad things are both part of life, and the journey continues after each, d) I cannot prevent bad from happening, e) if I hold on to this moment because it feels safe, I may be missing out on something wonderful around the next corner, and f) I need to risk more, control less, and live every moment to the fullest. If I wasn't so lazy recently, I would have taken a photo to post before it turned ugly, which it definitely is right now. Zack, the man who drilled the ink into my wrist, warned me that wrists don't heal as easily because of the constant movement and the creases in the skin, but he did not tell me there would be a HOLE in my wrist on day seven. When it finally heals, I will post a pic.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Dr. Abbott

My husband picked this up for me this weekend as a surprise. I hadn't hinted or talked about it,per se. But I am absolutely delighted because it is the cutest thing I have ever seen in my life very functional and user friendly. However, it came with irritating ring tones, so I was virtually compelled to download a song instead. "Shake You Down" won out. Now, you may not think that this was a terribly erudite selection, but I beg to differ. Did you know that Gregory Abbott has undergraduate and graduate degrees in English, and that they are from Boston University, Stanford, and Berkeley? And that he taught English at Berkeley? Not too shabby. I don't mean to be a hater, especially since I inexplicably love this song, but you'd think that someone who has that much facility with the English language could do better than eenie meenie minie mo for song lyrics. I'm just saying. . .

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Not Square and Flat

This is going to be for Itati, born February 22 at 4:19 p.m., whose dad surfs with d. It's from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, which is highly appropriate given that she is becoming less and less of a newborn every moment. I was knitting her a blanket, but since the Olympics, I just can't make myself finish it. Plus I had to attend a training this week and needed a project to take along JUST IN CASE. Good thing I had it since it was my least favorite kind of training, the kind that would be exceptionally valuable if I could not read tables of contents in the textbooks I've been using for the past four years and needed someone to ask me to turn to sections of the books so I could hear the titles and headings read aloud by someone else. I feel so much more willing to play the part of happy-teacher-who-cannot-read-and-has-not-toured-the-four-year-old-program-yet-and-also-has-no-natural-intelligence if I can knit while nodding and smiling and making excellent eye contact at all the right times. So the sweater is coming right along, in no small part because of the splurge I made on these ADDI Turbo needles that really do make me knit faster and don't feel crappy and also don't clack while I knit. I have no idea what happens to the sweater after I have knit the body, and GUESS WHAT? I'm not freaked out by that in the slightest. I now know that knitting patterns are not implements of medieval torture and that I will be able to figure out how to read the pattern when I get there.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Reasons I Like Teaching Junior High

1. In jr. high, kids experiment with their identities in mostly harmless and usually amusing ways.
2. Their identities are still fluid enough, though, to let them try things that in a few years they'll be inhibited about, like all my boys who feel that learning to knit is no threat to their masculinity.
3. They are still very much kids in that they will believe almost everything you tell them.
4. The body of really high quality literature for young adults is impressive. Without teaching junior high, I would never have read Hatchet, Holes, Esperanza Rising, Walk Two Moons, Bloomability, Tuck Everlasting, Because of Winn-Dixie, Out of the Dust, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, Nightjohn, The Giver, and so many others.
5. Compared with high school, where during any term I might need to teach courses as diverse as World Lit, Drama, Short Story, Remedial Reading, Composition, Poetry, Creative Writing, Classics, plus the regular offerings by grade level, junior high is relatively finite. I can feel a level of mastery with my curricula that allows me to be creative with them, and also permits me a life outside of school.
6. While anyone at any time in their lives can change course, it seems that junior highers are incredibly malleable. If I can help shape a positive direction strongly enough in junior high, maybe it will carry them through the pressures of the next few years of their lives.
7. Junior high students laugh at themselves and the world around them easily and well. They have a huge capacity for joy.
8. It is so easy to make them happy, to give them joy: complimenting ANYTHING, giving them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, letting them hang out at lunch for some undivided attention, they even still like stickers, although they'll put them on their faces.
9. I get to share just 150 students with my team of 6 teachers; we are a family. And the other teachers on my team approach the kids very much how I do, as people first and vessels for knowledge second.
10. Every so often, a spark of brilliance will leap from the otherwise rather typical sea of hormones, and you catch a sneak peak at the outrageously fabulous adults they will someday be.
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