Category Archives: foolishness

in the cocoon

Midwinter guest

Life surprised me. I came downstairs this morning to find a little yellow and blue moth flittering around my kitchen light fixture. Instead of worrying which one of my favorite wool sweaters she must have ruined before her re-birth, I was delighted to see something living and fluttering and beautiful in my home.

I don’t have any domestic animals here. Nor do I keep houseplants, sea monkeys, or a chia pet. When I got my first apartment, I had a philodendron named Millicent. She greeted my guests with a silly British accent and she really liked to wear my tiara. Unfortunately, during the Great Engagement Experiment of 2008, I forgot to live at my apartment for a few months. Millicent perished. I haven’t been a caretaker of anything in my home since then. And: one has only to ask my neighbors about the state of my yard to understand how black my thumb really is. I killed SOD, friends. Great green swaths of it.

Despite the winter dark, the cold, the exhausting work schedule, the SAD nibbling at my collar and cuffs, there’s something alive here, fluttering. Makes me wonder what things will be like once spring comes and I crack out of this cocoon.

Can’t write it if I don’t feel it.

This is a list.

  1. I don’t feel like much of a writer anymore. I don’t know what to blog when not acting like a giant firehose of personal experience on the internet.
  2. My novel is a romantic comedy, because I want to write about things not me.
  3. And I’m not much of a romantic comedy writer, given that I’ve not had even ten seconds of heart-bending romance in my life for the past four years.
  4. Not that I’m complaining. That’s boring.
  5. Plus, the internet has plenty of middle class single white women complaining about the lack of single men who fit their ideals.
  6. It’s no wonder all the mens are hiding: if someone wouldn’t date me unless I were perfect, I’d hide out and play video games every weekend too.
  7. I’ve just stopped looking, because I’m in a rut. It’s a bad time to look for anything more complicated than a good and affordable snow removal service.
  8. A good handyman would be useful, too.
  9. See what I did there?
  10. Teaching has, fortunately, been fantastic.
  11. I gave my my third hour students a creative project yesterday, and one kid found his ideas so entertaining that he giggled to himself the entire time he was working on it.
  12. It was the most adorable thing I saw all day.
  13. I’ve been reading a lot about quantum physics lately, and my brain is getting bended in all sorts of new directions.
  14. Like – is what we believe to be true about ourselves what we create?
  15. Can someone change his future by changing his belief about what the future brings?
  16. Is the statement “I am an artist” enough to make space to experiment for someone who has believed his entire life that creativity was not in his repertoire?
  17. The larger discussion about the power of positive thinking and creating intention has been turned into a fluffy pink clouds and crappy printed calligraphy New Age side show, and that pisses me off, because there is some good stuff in there.
  18. Personal transformation cannot be restricted to those who buy the cutest affirmation flashcards.
  19. I feel a bit self-conscious writing about spirituality on my blog, because I don’t want to become a skeptic magnet.
  20. But for reals, you guys, I’m a self-help and metaphysics junkie, and I absolutely loved reading The Dancing WuLi Masters as well as The Seat of the Soul.
  21. Spending a lot of time in meditation, releasing my need to know. It helps with the SAD demons.
  22. Change is afoot, friends. Deep change is afoot.

Inspirational Quote Manifesto.

I said this. Then it got turned into a graphic. I love it.

I am a huge fan of reading artistic inspiration by Julia Cameron, poetic inspiration by Rumi, watching the Ira Glass video over and over again, and digging every little thing about excellence ever quoted by Aristotle. Finding the right inspirational words can be the match to my inner creative rocket fuel.

I’m also a big fan of online social networks. You can see from my sidebar that I splash around Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr on a regular basis. I love being part of several conversations at once, and my virtual community is important to me. It’s like being at the center table of an exciting, clever, international lunchroom. You never know who is going to chime in with what kind of thoughts or accidentally laugh so hard he squirts milk out his nose. I love it.

But sometimes the conversation gets really boring. Lately it seems like there are 8,345,987 zillion different inspirational quotes by people both famous and not famous floating around the ether on little colored boxes just like the one above. I see different versions of “Just do it!” and “Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not great!” and “Love is awesome!” and “Having your heart broken kinda sucks, doesn’t it?” and “Get out there and be winner!” and on and on and on.

I can very much appreciate how useful it is to quote someone else’s words when you’re in a situation where you need a kick in the proverbial pants. I have posted and cross posted my fair share of words that make me feel better over the last few years. They can create an intention for the day, share with friends how you’re feeling, let someone know that you need a boost, start a conversation. . . All good stuff.

But I’m seeing so many quote-ables and inspiration-als and hypergraphic-ed motivation-als that their original purpose has become diluted. I’ve got some serious inspiration burnout, and that makes me sad.

There is way more gossip, snark, depressing news, and cat video watching on the internet than there is authentic and meaningful conversation about daily life. That’s mostly because daily life for a middle class American is not fireworks or disaster – it just kinda is. Both our splashy media addiction and our desire for a good adrenaline rush have convinced us that isn’t enough. Perhaps we’re all rooting around like truffle hunters for something that will bring more meaning and excitement to Tuesday afternoon drudgery. Perhaps a famous person’s words emblazoned on a pretty color make us feel a bit more alive. Perhaps linking to a quote honors the incomplete reflection that hovers in the back of each of our minds and expresses one more layer of frustration and existential loneliness. . .

Whatever the reason, there’s no point to getting carried away. So please, friends of the internet: If you’ve got a quote to share, great – but use them more judiciously. Restrict yourself to two per week. Then, the rest of the time, when you have big, frustrating, existentially lonely, excited, scared, wondering, or explosive thoughts hovering in the back of your mind, use your own words. It feels a whole lot better.

Hey summertime! C’mere and gimme a kiss!

There will be cloud gazing this summer.

Oh friends! My wonderful blessed summer vacation that I’ve been dreaming about for months is finally here. As the final bell of the 2010-11 school year rang out at 3:00 p.m. yesterday, I was on the balcony making sure the kids didn’t do their traditional “dump all of the papers from their backpacks onto the commons floor below” thing. The security roundup worked in my area, but I think that could be because I was standing near our school liaison officer. That blue shirt and shiny star badge are pretty impressive – especially since he’s one of the nicest guys ever. The other faculty and myself shepherded the kids down the stairs and out the door before extensive vandalism seemed like a good idea, and I went back to my room to face the stack of finals I have yet to finish grading.

All of the negative press teachers got during the Union crisis in WI must have left everyone thinking that “all summer off” must mean that we teachers are all sporting swimsuits and drinking frothy daiquiris at the beach from the minute we hand in our keys. I know none of MY fair readers would think that I’m a frothy daiquiri drinker and the little lake beaches here are filled with the kids I just sent off into the world, so I’ll bet you’re curious about what we do with our 10 weeks of unstructured time. Wanna know what teachers do during the summer? We do more work. For free. Or in some cases, for a small fee we’ve paid for the privilege of being trained.

Week of June 13th – 4 days of teacher training.
Week of June 20th – 4 days of summer school substitute teaching.
Week of July 18th – 2 more days of teacher training
Week of August 1st – 3 more days of teacher training
and back to work on August 19th. Ploof!

Boy does summer go fast when you look at it that way. I do have a few weeks of intense writing time, a road trip to Toronto and Montreal with my dad, my 20 year HS reunion, and a handful of visits with friends planned, so I’m not complaining. I’m more baffled at myself for setting it up that way – but I do like to keep busy. After spending all day every day with at least 130 people, summer can feel very isolating and lonely — well, after I’ve slept for a week and caught up on my rest, which should happen the week of June 27th – except that’s the week that my best friend, my surrogate husband, and my goddaughter are moving out of state. I’ve scheduled that week for a long round of alternating denial and weeping. Gnashing of teeth and rending of garments may also make an appearance, as I’m the dramatic sort.

So anyway. I just wanna give sloppy smooches to summer right now. I have to stop writing this post so I can get to school before the staff breakfast and finish my grades. My goal is to finish grading and packing up by 12:30 – all the better to enjoy my afternoon lunch date and workout session before I go to a retirement party. w00t!

I’m melting!

I love it when they love me back.

Oh friends. The school year is almost over, and I got the sweetest note ever from one of my graduating seniors.

I swear that I didn’t pay her to write this.

I’ve written a guest post for Teaching Tolerance, as I made it past the first vetting process for new teacher bloggers, but I don’t have a guarantee that they’ll use what I sent them. It was a story about a fight and bystander/spectator violence. Daily life in the classroom is tough, and the things I have to say about teaching and equity education feel mostly like unanswerable questions. We’ll see if they use what I wrote. I hope they like it.

It isn’t hard to prepare good lessons and stay reasonably organized while presenting them. Developing curriculum and achieving benchmarks? Of course, piece of cake. But being a real live, breathing, sweating, authentic human being in front of 150+ people every day? Man, that is hard work. It’s hard to know whether or not I’ve been successful most of the time. Then I get thank you notes from students about to graduate and I dissolve faster than a plate full of macaroons at a tropical tea party.