Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NRU digging thru the pile

Turns out I was hording a ton of articles in my gmail account.  I am going to try to get through all of them in the next couple of weeks ... some will go in an education post, but these are the mish mash variation.

A fascinating piece about the "race-tinged generation gap" and how it will affect the next major election cycle.  Hoping those young ones will learn the importance of voting!

Richmond, California is not waiting for the rest of the state or the country to get up to speed on the minimum wage

Scientific proof about the connection between fracking and earthquakes... in Ohio.

Here are some that hit my desktop more recently:




I love everything about this portrait project!  I love that the photographer set up a photo booth on the street and invited, cajoled and beckoned folks in.  I love the way the folks responded ... the stories they told about where they were headed.  We live a world that is increasingly more crowded and yet anonymous.  This project gave this community and the folks who work for the organization a moment of connection in the quickly changing landscape of East Los Angeles.  It gave all these folks the opportunity to be seen if not known.  I am sorry that the plans to publicly share the photos with the community and those who posed for the portraits didn't work out. However, it appears to be emblematic of the dynamics of the community.  

On a darker note, the FBI has decided that maybe William Bradford Bishop is alive and living in SoCal.  You may have seen him on America's Most Wanted because he killed his family back in 1976.  It is a haunting story.  The news article does not give much detail about the crime for which he is wanted, or how he got away.  Rather it chillingly describes where and how he might be living with a few details about how he might have ended up in SoCal.  It makes me wonder ... what if you knew this persnickety older gentleman who likes scotch and wine, is neat and orderly, but occasionally has violent outbursts?  Would you think he is a family annihilator?  Or would you just think he as an eccentric fellow?


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

twenty two


If in the past year and a half, I have developed an odd reaction to the number nineteen, my response to twenty-two, however, is far stranger.

One knocks me down, but the other causes amnesia.

This month, twenty two equals one year.

It is not quite believable ... a whole year since my sister left us.

Nineteen, described here, was the number that would sneak up on me and lay me low before I could prepare.

Last year on April 19th, it turned into the number that signaled the beginning of my dias nefaustos.  For months on end, the days between 19 and 22 have been torture ... and sometimes the days leading up to them, too.

At some point, I started ignoring twenty-two, pretending it did not exist.

Just like for months I pretended that my sister was not dead.

Now the year anniversary is upon us... again, somehow I managed to *forget* -- I scheduled work, I didn't ask anyone what they were doing.  I made other plans that would keep me busy.

Turns out my mother had arranged to have mass at 6:30am and my brother-in-law wanted to hike up to where we scattered her ashes.

So, I had to confront the reality.  I cancelled work.  I organized the hike with my brother-in-law and planned to spend the afternoon with my nephew.

It was a beautiful surprise for my mother when her two brothers (and their wives) showed up for the super early mass.  It reminds me of the bond we were taught to have as siblings.

We may not really know how to be emotionally open with each other, but we are fiercely protective -- just like my mom and her brothers.  

The thing about spending this day with my family is that I can't seem to break down in front of them ... instead, I worried about them, we entertained each other with chit chat and stories,  and held it together.

It feels far away and like an open sore at the same time.

At least we got to be in the beautiful resting place we found for her.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Remembering GGM

When I found Gabriel Garcia Marquez, it was like inheriting a wise grandfather, randy uncle and beloved teacher.  I dreamt of meeting a real life Melquiades.  I marveled at the drama of the Buendia -- their lives were like those of the families in our stories, but full of magic we never get with soap operas.  I fell in love with a geography I have visited only through his stories.   I felt like I could walk around Macondo without a map ... intimately connected to it and its history.  But it also gave me new eyes for my own hometown. You can love someplace that you have desperately tried to get away from as much as the place where you landed. 

I became more interested in the history of Latin America because of the twists and turns I read in his book.  His novels and stories are full of allusions to Latin American history, politics and intrigue.  But you have to know something about it to get them... so, there I would go, trying to get deeper into the story by understanding the inside jokes.

The stories were magnificent and I loved reading them in the original. [My first read, One Hundred Years of Solitude, I read and reread and reread it.]  Through his books, I learned vocabulary without looking up words in the dictionary.  I learned to appreciate my long, winding sentences as a legacy of the Spanish living somewhere inside my brain since I was an infant.

I had the pleasure of reading far and wide in his works because I was teaching them in AP Spanish Literature as a novice teacher. I wanted to know all of the works inside and out so that I could help my students.  I studied literature more intensely those first few years of teaching than I ever did as a Romance Languages and Literature major.  I mean, of course, I had read what I was assigned to read, but now I needed to KNOW the readings.  I am sure I enjoyed the readings more... mostly because it was challenging stuff for my students. Really, only a few of them had the skills to actually get through a story.  When they came back to me frustrated, I would say, "Oh, if you didn't like this story it must be because you missed the secret sex." The joy of teaching high schoolers -- some would go back in search of the secret sex.  I can only hope that in the search some of them also found they loved GGM, too.

My favorite short story is El ahorcado mas hermoso del mundoCien anos de soledad will always be my favorite of his novels.  You might see my admiration for GGM's work is firmly in the magical.

I picture GGM's heaven as a brothel in the daytime -- surrounded by beautiful women and recounting stories that always leaving them wanting more.

Thank you, don Gabriel, your magical places were always a refuge for me.  May you rest in peace, your mind free again to wander in the realms of magic, reality and wonder. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

NRU, peeps edition

I love peeps.  I would eat them all year round ... but I like them to be dried out for maximum enjoyment.  Not stale ... when they are dry they don't have the same mushy texture (which is ok for one or two).  Much tastier.

I don't partake of the dress up or stage the peeps.  I don't use peeps in recipes.  I don't have the time or inclination. 

However, I thoroughly enjoy others' efforts!

Lord of the Peeps... truly awesome.

Here is an article about some fanciful uses for peeps -- showing them in their natural environment??

Lest you thought peeps were too low brow for the NYTimes, think again!

Enjoy!

Friday, April 18, 2014

finding inspiration in the news?

I don't know if I was feeling overly optimistic when I heard these stories, or if they are truly inspiring.

I decided to override the cynic and just go with the feeling.

I was driving when I heard both of these stories, too.  I am not sure if it makes a difference, just pointing it out.

When I heard that they were interviewing the man trying to hold the IRS together, the day before tax day, my first reaction was to shudder.  Of course, I had barely started my own tax return.  But as I listened to this man talk about his job, I kept thinking, he sounds like the kind of guy I would love to work for.  Give it a listen and let me know if the silver lining is sparking or if I should have listened to the cynic.

The very next day, I heard this piece on a grandson of Hugo Black trying to live up to the SC Justice's legacy.   The whole piece was fascinating ... Black is not one of the justices I have ever learned about.  I am sure I have heard his name; I might have been able to recall him for a trivia question.  But, I sure didn't know that he was basically exiled from his home state of Alabama for his part in the Brown vs Board of Education decision.  Let's just say that up to that point it is already worth the time.  But the story continues to how this grandson decided to reclaim Alabama, his grandfather's legacy and make a name for himself.  I might just have to add the University of Alabama's library to my list of places to see. I have been looking for a reason to go to the state as I strive to complete the fifty states.

So, was I overly googly-eyed when I heard these stories, or where you inspired, too?

****This is a late entry - as this piece has been sitting in the draft folder waiting for its appointed day!

It is not often that you see the picture of something delicious, click the link to see how impossibly hard the recipe is, but instead find a jewel of a story.  I am telling you, with or without the recipe, this is a keeper!

Thanks, NYTimes, sometimes I wonder if I should keep my Sunday subscription so I can see the online version with its outrageously long articles. Then I find these can't miss articles, and it is worth all the time and the dollars.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Quote Thursday, on siblings


To the outside world, we all grow old. 
But not to brothers and sisters. 
We know each other as we always were. 
We know each other's hearts. 
We share private family jokes. 
We remember family feuds and secrets, 
family griefs and joys. 
We live outside the touch of time. 
- Clara Ortega

Turns out I missed "National Sibling Day" – at least according to fb.  Since I try not to let fb tell me what to do or how to feel, I didn't spring into action to get a blog post.  But, I had been thinking about sibling-hood.  I was glad that for the occasion I was able to find some quotes. 

 

I was catching up on back episodes of Parenthood recently.  There was one episode in particular that reminded me why I enjoy this show.  It turns out I am not as interested in the pains and joy of parenthood that they display. I am more touched by the siblinghood.  I think they portray the drama of family dynamics so well – and often hit a nerve with me, and I imagine with others as well.  It is a constant tug of war between the now and the then.  Whenever the siblings deal with each other, the viewers can see how each character vacillates between the young persona and the adult persona – and the others are doing the same.



In this one episode, Just Like at Home, the glue that binds the siblings was most passionately and delicately displayed. The sister who might arguably be the most self-centered, and happens to be the baby, is going through a separation.  She is sending her kids to spend the weekend with their father – and she will be home alone.  Each of her siblings, with busy and dramatic lives of their own, is secretly worrying about her and plotting to take care of her.  Maybe it is that she is the baby – and not unfamiliar with being in the needy category.  She doesn't ask any of them to make it better or take care of her.  But they all show up over the course of the evening.  They don't want to talk about what's wrong, or tell her what to do to make it better.  They come over with food and drink and end up in a dance party and a sleepover. 

 

It is what I will miss most about not having my brother and sister here anymore – maybe because I was their little sister … their first little sister, the one they learned how to take care of others with.  Every day is sibling day for me since my brother and sister died.  I haven't quite honed my coping skills so that every memory doesn't twinge with pain.  Maybe someday … lately, I have been trying to bring up my sister to my nephew.  I don't know if it is the right thing to do.  I don't know what is right or wrong.  But, I know that I know things that he can only learn through me. 

 

The therapist asked why these two deaths hit me so hard, and I have been trying to figure it out.  It is not as if I talked to my sister or brother every day.  It is more that when I talked to them, I didn't have to explain.  It is not that I am not close to my younger brother and sister.  It is that my older and brother were intimately involved in how I grew up.  That there are not really any other people in the world that know me the way that they knew me.  It is not to say that I don't have friends who know me well or that my other family members don't know me.  It is just different.  And now that they are gone, that knowledge, those memories from their perspective, that understanding is gone.



There are hurts and pains and joy that only your brother and your sister can heal, know and feel.  And as much as all of that is true, there are so many times in my life that I felt like no one understood me.  I was the alien in the mix.  I still am with my birth family in so many ways.  But my brother and sister tried to reach me – more than anyone else in my family.  Sometimes they failed and sometimes they succeeded.  I know that they tried because it was in those moments of trying that I came to know of the secret knowledge they carried about me. 



So, yes, I celebrate all my brothers and sisters, those from the flesh and those not, those still in bodily form and those who have left me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

S. Claus

I was driving with my nephew yesterday when we saw Santa Claus.

It was a nondescript white car/wagon, but it had a huge sticker on the back window, "Stops for Santa Claus," so I did a double take.

The vanity plates read: Red Hat.

Then I noticed that the license plate holder read simply S. Claus.

I told my nephew to take a look at the car, and I changed our route so we could get close to the back of the car.  Then we passed him, it was SANTA. 

He was wearing a relaxed red felt hat.  I noticed his flowing white beard. My nephew noticed he was also wearing a red shirt.

Turns out Santa lives in Ventura on the off season!!

My nephew and I speculated where he might be going.   I looked over at my nephew and he had a huge smile on his face.

He had glanced around him and there was a Santa statue on someone's lawn. 

I said I thought maybe that was Santa's house but he had to keep going to throw us off the scent.

We both laughed and smiled widely as we continued to follow Santa for a few more blocks.

It didn't hurt that we had just devoured huge donuts, but we were definitely in the mood for that Santa sighting!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1000 words


In order to help myself get back on track with writing, I set a new goal: 1000 words per day.  That is a minimum – no upward limit. There are no restrictions on what I write: blog posts, long emails to friends, journaling, school work, or work for money. 

This will account for the number of drafts that are in my folder for the blog and clearing out the articles I kept meaning to post.  These are not always the easiest posts, but they are generally the least emotionally challenging.  Though some of the journal pieces may very well turn into blog posts.  

I realized that I am not moving forward on many fronts.  The grief counselor has been pushing me, sometimes gently, sometimes more forcefully, towards dealing with the grieving process.  Getting in touch with these feelings has been the single most challenging aspect of my life for nearly a year – that is, since we lost my sister. I had just gotten to a point where I was kind of coping with the grief of losing my brother.  Like a turtle, my overwhelming response has been to pull my head into the shell whenever emotions are required.  The only emotion that I can readily express is anger and frustration.  There is no end to the anger and frustration – perhaps only compounded by moving home.  Compassion for myself and others always takes the backseat when I feel scared or overwhelmingly sad.  Fear is feeling I point to when I have to identify my emotions.  I am afraid all the time – living in the constant fear of the next bad thing and reacting in my own PTSD way to these crises. 

My PTSD is take charge, handle it.  [Probably take no prisoners.] Anger seems to be useful in this situation – but I try to call it strength or resilience.  In order to do this, emotions get shoved in the closet of the mind, thrown under the bed with all the other monsters.

As might be readily apparent, this is not a productive way to live.  I feel like I go from one crisis to the next – disrupting my sleep, causing me to not eat or overeat, making me feel like what I need most is to stay in my pjs in a dark room. 

I really need to be exercising. I want to be training for at least a 5K in June.  I want to finish my damn exams. I want to clear that incomplete from my record.  I want to make progress.  I want to not be desperately sad.

For reasons that I cannot exactly explain, blogging helps me get enough distance from the fear to actually deal with the monsters.

Monday, April 14, 2014

NRU to protect and serve

I have thought about not posting this ...it's just depressing. It would seem that the LAPD hasn't learned much from the Ramparts scandal, Rodney King, etc., etc.  The worst part, though, is the cavalier way the powers that be excuse, deny and otherwise don't deal with the issues.

I couldn't look away from that little gem, though, after the feds finally submitted their findings on the excessive force allegations in Albuquerque.  This after the community had asked countless times for the district attorney to enforce laws against police officers at least as diligently as against civilians.  Perhaps more importantly to some, after paying out millions in wrongful death suits against the city for actions the district attorney had cleared.  Turns out the APD doesn't really understand the constitutional protections citizens enjoy. For me, though, it is not just the police that require blame, but also the institutions that are in place to solve a problem of excessive force.  This should never have been investigated by the federal government because it should never have gotten past the mayor or the district attorney.  The media should not have made the victims of this excessive force seem deserving in any way.  It should not have taken the umpteenth murder of a mentally ill citizen to strike a nerve with the public (or the blogger anonymous).

Lest you think I lack any perspective on the issue of the police, I offer this one other piece.  I have always said to those who suggested I take up psychology that I would only do it if I could exclusively work to help police officers deal more effectively with crises.  I have never denied the challenging work of the police.  Far from it, I have just wondered at the kind of people police work attracts.  There are those police officers who take to heart "protect and serve" and who believe this extends to all the people they encounter.  But, there is no denying that it is the kind of work that requires emotional and psychological training as much as it requires physical fitness.  Now more than ever, we need to recognize the needs of these public servants and find ways to serve them.  This program is a good start down that road.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Poetry Thursday -- a real poem!

"DREAMS"
by Langston Hughes

mom's tree

Hold onto dreams
For if dreams die
Life is like a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly. 
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

inspired by another blogger's post about hope ... thinking about all of this, trying to reconcile.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

NRU, education edition

Lots of news on how schools spend money will be heading our way given the *new* funding formula set to hit in California.  Unfortunately, the first few of these reports have either eschewed the notion of analysis or just brushed up against, ever so lightly.

Jill Tucker at the San Francisco Chronicle has been covering education and education funding for too long to justifiably put forth this gem without bothering to at least ask some interesting questions.  Perhaps she asked them but somehow didn't include them?  The story seems to provide fodder for the you can throw as much money as you want at poor kids -- it won't change their test scores.  She dutifully describes the posh quarters, and hints at the fact that spending tons on three administrators for one school might not be the most effective use of money.  She does not discuss how education is implemented -- what steps the district has taken to allocate funds to the actual education needs of the students -- or even if the "district" has taken steps to understand what those needs might be.  That would be a start ... I think.  The problem with draw your own conclusion reporting is that readers are actually being led down a very specific road -- the one the reporter is unwilling to name aloud.

In other education news:
It is disgusting how this man is feeding hate -- all that money and this is all he can think to do? Seriously fucked up shit.  Once again, money is talking with an inappropriate amount of force.  What about putting up a site that asks people about not getting an appropriate education or being counseled out of applying for college?  There are many stories out there not even being considered while this man continues to stir up racial hatred in the hopes of cutting off as many educational opportunities as possible.  There ought to be a law...but then, of course, the Supreme Court would rule against it.

So, a teacher and a student got into a physical altercation last week and it was caught on tape.  The teacher was immediately suspended, the principal sent a note to the community expressing shock, the community lashed out at the principal and the child in the altercation in support of the teacher.  It is true that the video only provides one view of the altercation.  While I support the community expressing their admiration for the teacher, their judgement is also one sided.  Of course, an investigation must ensue in order to uncover as much information as possible.  Should the teacher and the student both be kept from school while investigating?  That seems to be the question the community should be posing. This piece, I am not sure if it is an opinion and letter from a community member, does not seem to be up to the journalistic standard I expect from the Los Angeles Times.  It is beyond one sided. Check out this quote:
"Still, as a parent, I have to admit I got a little shiver of satisfaction knowing that a teacher who just happens to be a wrestler was able to physically subdue a student who may have been flagrantly violating the rules.  ... 
We don’t know yet exactly what happened in that Santa Monica High School classroom on Friday.
But I have a feeling when it’s all over, Coach Black is going to be considered a hero to exasperated teachers everywhere."
Umm... yeah... your opinion for sure, but news, not so much.

This one is labelled as an opinion, and knowing the writer, it definitely comes with its own bias.  But it also comes with many years of covering education news.  You can see this experience because he goes below the issue of the court case to expose those who are financing the suit and others like it.
 
The bias shows in that it gives Ali (my former boss) quotes; in Ali's words, of being too cozy with unions.  In fact, there is coziness to go around on all sides here ... much of the reform that we see is backed by someone bankrolling with an agenda.  It might be a great agenda, it might be an awful agenda, but it is an agenda ... these monied folks Ali cozies up with go on retreats to fancy spas to talk about poor black and brown kids.  They decide what to do, how to get unwitting parents and community groups to move the agenda, and they police that involvement with money.  If you don't go along, no money.  See anything wrong with that?

To me, this is why it is important to spend more time writing (and talking) about actual solutions to the problems rather than just how to exclude one group or another.  Unfortunately, there are no groups willing to bank roll a charge for reforms that would actually change the way education is delivered -- or evaluated. There are no easy fixes, as Shrag points out.  Merely pulling the rug out from under the union doesn't mean better statutes will be put into place.  More importantly, as he also points out, the law suit is not a direct line to better teaching for those who need it most.  
 
I applaud Shrag for going beyond the bias Ali would have had him bring to this story.  This is certainly much more information and analysis than we have seen in the Times coverage of the suit to date. 

In fact, I think that writing about education, education laws and the ways those laws are implemented is as complex as writing about the economy.  Here is another valiant attempt to report on *violence* in the schools.  The author rightly points out that reading the numbers is complicated by the way schools are allowed to categorize and report violence school by school.  But then she goes on to cite those unreliable statistics.  What I appreciated most about the piece, however, was the reporter's use of stories about the ways schools are dealing with violence/trouble on campus.  This gives the reader a sense for what the issues are and how the schools are dealing with them.  Obviously this reporter, this is part of a series, has spent considerable time learning about the issues and actually spending time on campuses.  Given the space available and the attention spans of readers, it is yeoman's work. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

NRU mish mash

I was in the middle of leisurely reading this piece on Peter Matthiessen when I saw this other article about his death.  I spent the summer before graduate school reading his book about Leonard Peltier and the FBI.  It was an odd juxtaposition because much of it I read while I was in Puerto Rico -- sitting outside, ocean breeze in my hair, rum drink in my hand, and the harsh (his)tory of violence against Native Americans in every page I turned. I have never read any of his other books.  I didn't know anything about him -- particularly his being part of the CIA.  It is somewhat ironic that he was a CIA operative and then sued by an FBI agent.  Wonder how he worked off that bad karma with his practice.  Really, now that I more know about him, he seems like a fascinating guy.  Maybe I will put his books on my to read (after graduate school) list...

I had intended to give my sister's old prom dresses to the group that puts on the prom dress event for low income folks.  I think I might have missed the window.  But I saw this piece on one young woman's ingenuity and resilience and I had to share it.  Super lovely story!

On a darker note, here is an editorial about a lost opportunity to create permanent housing for homeless and transitional folks.  One the one hand, I wholeheartedly agree that this is a missed opportunity,.  On the other hand, I see supervisor Molina's point - not all transitional housing has to be in downtown LA.  The rest of the city should open their front and backyards to all the people of the city.  After all, for years, we know that folks were being dumped in downtown LA.  However, squabbling over shoulds and shoudn'ts won't help people get off the street.  The proposed plan sounds a lot like The Coffee Shop in Albuquerque... it might work.

In contrast, here is a piece on a guy who tracks (and supports) development programs in his backyard. He calls it YIMBY -- Yes in my backyard.  Of course, he is not all jazzed about programs to help homeless -- he is into new buildings.  Just offering it as a contrast to the article above.

Not all people are afraid to work with the folks on skid row ... here is a piece on three coaches volunteering time to do life coaching with some women looking to put their lives back together.   They found the secret was listening:
"The coaches scrapped the textbook approach and relied on the women to guide them. "We asked and we listened and we learned what they needed," said Marigrace Gleason."
Helping folks takes work and commitment.  I am glad there are those who are willing to put in the work.

Lastly very late on April 14th a total eclipse of the moon will begin -- ultimately it will make the moon appear red til about 1:30am (Pacific)... but it's only natural.

Friday, April 04, 2014

News Round Up ... ranting and winning

I am not big on protests -- especially when they don't have a clear ask with a chance for those being protested to answer the problem.  In this case, however, I would make an exception. I cannot believe it has taken so long for the public to be outraged about the trigger happy cops in Albuquerque. I always imagined it was because those shot were portrayed as dregs of society and so the public did not see the inherent threat when you cops shoot first and ask questions later.  It is ironic, then, that the death that broke the camels back was a mentally ill person who had already had several run ins with the police.  Old style, the city and the complicit local media would have just portrayed him as someone who should be shot.  It saddens me, however, that it was an outside group that called for the protest ... that after the federal government took up the issue.  I hope that Albuquerque, particularly the new police captain and the mayor, gets the idea that the world is now watching.

There are other ways to display your dislike for something -- and there are other ways to respond.  That is to say, you don't have to take someone's outrage and use it as an excuse to throw tear gas.  Honey Maid took the high road when the haters decided to come after HM for supporting all family configurations -- so far it seems like it is paying off for them.  It certainly makes me want to go out an buy some!

And for the winning -- an article about a young man who will defy anyone's stereotypes.  Wishing Tunde the absolute best wherever he lands.  And, Berkeley, you waitlisted him, really?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Quote Thursday, in need of inspiration


 

If we all did the things 
we are capable of doing 
we would literally astound ourselves.
- Thomas Edison
 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Millionaire or not...

I little while back, I think because Powerball was having yet another super jackpot, my dad and I were talking about what we would do if we won the lottery.

I used to have it all planned out ... way back when, maybe more than twenty years ago, just about when California got the lottery.  I'd help my siblings go to college (no need now, they did it!), buy my brother a movie studio so he could make his movies/tv shows (alas, he is no longer here to do it), etc...

As my dad told me about his plans, I thought about all the plans I had for those millions and how I hadn't thought about it in a while.

These days, I think about winning the lottery when my computer shows its age.  Buying a new macbook pro will take me winning the lottery.

For some reason, I started thinking about what I wished I were doing ... and what came to my mind is running a scholarship organization.  Perhaps it is because once again my dad and I were talking ... this time about scholarships. 

I started thinking through what it would be like.  How would I choose students? How could I help them beyond just paying for school or making sure that they had other needs met?

Then I read this article

What's funny about my lottery musings and my awe at this woman's actions is that she didn't wait til she won the lottery.

She saw a need, devised a plan to help, did what it took to the have the time and money, and then did it.

WOW.

No matter how much money she ever has, she will always be a millionaire because she has helped so many to realize their dreams.

This is my favorite part:

"'People say it's incredible. It's not," Brown said. "No kid wants to grow up to be a bum or in prison or on drugs. When they're young, these kids all want to succeed. All I do is push them a little bit.'"

I think she would agree with me that kids who make it out of difficult situations are not the exception ... they are examples of what could have been for all those kids, or at least most of them.

May she get that charter and continue to do this fantastic work.

Friday, March 28, 2014

NRU mish mash

Another time when I wish I were in NYC -- sorry to have missed out on this trilogy, maybe it will head to this coast someday.

The past eleven months or so, in terms of wine, have been spent dabbling in whites.  I gave in to the corporate wine world (read big box wine store) because they had so many white Burgundy choices. I worked through them in the summer -- but forgot to take really good notes.  Tried a few others, and then got a lovely Rose in the mail from my wine clubThis is the next one I want to try. Just got to figure out how to get my hands on it ... that won't break my bank.

I was enchanted by the title [The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter] and somewhat amused by most of the piece -- though it left me wondering if I should have sent that angry email to the manager of the restaurant that shall not be named *anymore* -- if I should write the email and post it here or just be happy that it turned into a funny story that has made everyone I have told both laugh and commiserate.  Hmmm....

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Poetry Thursday from Daily Affirmations

And you would accept the seasons of your heart 
just as you have always accepted that 
seasons that pass over your fields 
and you would watch 
with serenity 
through the winters of your grief. 
~ Kahlil Gibran


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

NRU education edition

Schools are using meditation -- and teaching children to figure out when they need their own peaceful moments -- and claiming results. I have no doubt it is useful, but the article never gets to the proof of the results.  I wonder if we can read an article about education without finding some claim to results -- and then never have them founded.  It says too much about our lack of introspection about what exactly test results *mean* and what other results might exist and how we might *measure* those.

Yeah, and this article, gives us more to think about in terms of what we think results look like ... it's another piece on Common Core -- but all fluff and no substance, again.  This is how we got parents to think that NCLB based test scores meant something... Don't get me wrong, I love critical thinking. It is, in fact, a fine thing to be teaching.  I am just not sure that the journalist writing this story caught the essence of what critical thinking is.  Or maybe it was the principal and the teacher who were pushing the notion that repeating, or even using correctly, big words means critical thinking.  It is not.  That is hooked on phonics on steroids.  But, bad reporting doesn't mean that some good teaching and learning wasn't actually happening here.

This piece on charter schools and the new mayor of NYC demonstrates the author's understanding of the complexities of the issue of charter schools.  He clearly sees/knows/understands that the issue goes far beyond *education* right into business, politics, wealth disparities, etc.; and he even seems to hint that he understands the exceptionalism mentality that has the mice fighting over the last piece of cheese and calling it social justice.

Monday, March 24, 2014

On *Not Getting Over It*

**The therapist asked me to write about myself.  That didn't quite work out, but this came out.

The thing about grief is that it is always with you, right there below the surface. It is always brewing, always bubbling, waiting to blow like Old Faithful or to percolate up like the La Brea tar pits.
We, the grieving, alternately try to hold it in, push it down, run away, shut it down or give in to it. I don't think we always make these choices willingly or consciously. So our minds are prey for the wandering thought, the triggering utterance or sight, or the simple memory. The thoughts we want to conjure are also prey for the grief - swallowed along with our ability to concentrate - in the black hole of our loss.

I believe when others want us to get over it, they bring both compassion and selfishness. Our grief hurts them because they love us and because it triggers them. For who has not lost someone close? 

I am sure there are all kinds of other issues intertwined - guilt, remorse, fear, insecurity. You name it and grief probably amplifies it.

I am hopeful that with practice, compassion and skillfulness we can come to cope with grief in such a way that it does not control us forever.

I am hopeful that we can learn to confront the moments with the understanding that they will pass. That we will learn that facing the grief doesn't mean falling into the abyss. That someday the memories trigger the flip side of all those issues: innocence, gratitude, safety, confidence, joy and acceptance.

Moon over ABQ from Sandias, October 2013

Friday, March 21, 2014

NRU, attitude edition

It turns out that attitude is everything.  Sometimes I call it perspective.  I think it really does involve the introspection that brings about perspective, but attitude can get you there, too.

So, here are some stories that kicked me in the butt -- it's all about the attitude.

I love this story about a man who suffered a seriously debilitating accident -- and now leads his job's cross fit team.  It is the perfect story to kick off the attitude matters NRU!

For a while now I have been worried that we are destined to labor under the GOP/Fox news black cloud forever ... generations of Americans lost in the cynicism and hate spewed by these lovely resources.  No where seemed more demonstrative of this than the South. Yet there were glimmers of hope -- remember that group of undocumented students who outed themselves in Georgia a while back?  Well, the New York Times thinks this is a mini movement of liberals learning to exercise their voices via demonstrations.  I have a complicated relationship to demonstrations, but I wholeheartedly support these folks finding their voice!

This is a lovely piece about a living tribute to a man who has touched many lives/writers.  Read it, and the role of attitude will become apparent.

For fun, I am including this piece on dark chocolate.  For years, I have been telling folks that I am not eating chocolate but fighting cancer. Turns out I was actually lowering my blood pressure.  I think my dark chocolate intake is going to have to increase now that I know about this benefit!  I think some cocoa in my smoothies will become a new standard.