Thursday, March 31, 2011


So, I got a little carried away with the Lucy youtube videos...

these are just a few that you should not miss...

My absolute favorite part (of this video...let's be clear) doesn't come until about 4:30...

And the crowd pleaser... Slowly I Turn....

I kind of love the first part of this episode more ... but this part is still pretty wonderful:

Oh, the internet, here's that first part:

Ok...really need to stop NOW.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Because I know you are all dying to know ... this is where I stand with my master's paper (due April 4th... yes, the day after I return from the conference in Los Angeles... no pressure). Actually, it's due on April 1st... um, April Fools joke on myself or I just can't figure out how to read an email and/or to get that information into my calendar properly... YIKES.

By the time you read this, I will be on my way to the airport for my flight to Los Angeles... I am very much looking forward to some SoCal spring weather ... hoping the weather reports are correct. I know they love to get rain in California, but with all the crazy weather happenings in the past few weeks, they can use the break from the rain as much as I am going to appreciate it. If mother nature decides to provide a deluge, let it be Sunday as I am waiting in the airport to return to ABQ. [forecast as of 3/28/11 - when I should be writing - check out the last column, that is % chance of precipitation...]

Mar 31
Sunny 80°/57° 0 %
Apr 01
Mostly Sunny 73°/54° 20 %
Apr 02
Partly Cloudy 68°/51° 20 %
Apr 03
Mostly Sunny 69°/51° 10 %

So, crisis averted, sort of... second draft in tonight when I arrive in SoCal and then work, work, work til it's done... in the sun, maybe in short, maybe at the beach...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On Demons

Most of the time, when I reference demons, I am referring to the ingrained agreements I have made about myself that surface as negative self talk or sabotage. However since my horrible slasher movie nightmare, I have been considering other types, or, at least, other manifestations.

I contemplated recounting the nightmare in vivid detail, partly as a tribute to Dooce and over-sharing about poop. Then I thought, perhaps one live and one journalled recounting satisfied the need for storytelling while saving a little face for me and some awkward discomfort for you. Besides how could I know if you'd be eating while you read the blog, and that would just be rude.

There are two elements that I will share. I have been thinking of it as X Files meets Bones with a Slasher movie quality. I will let you make up for yourselves what pieces of the X Files will meet Bones; but you can rest assured, it was not only scary, it was disgusting. Slasher movie quality in the sense that as I "watched" the dream happen in my mind, it was like watching a naive person about to get hacked who didn't know it at all...and when I say watched, I mean it was both me experiencing being the person with no idea what was about to happen and me as spectator of the dream ... yeah, it was something else.

In another odd note, while I was dreaming, I started to try to control the outcome. At each turn, whenever there was an inkling of danger or just a problem, my mind thought, "I can fix this!" And the dream would change, morph in front of my very eyes...but then another danger or problem would surface. Undaunted until the very end, I believed I could fix it. Until the demon was chasing me, that is... then I remember saying to myself in my head, if not in the dream, "Open your eyes..." because I knew this would end the nightmare.

If nothing else, this dream explains why I am always so exhausted when I wake up ... it is more than just dreaming, it is mental and emotional participation

An interesting aspect for me, is that, in the nightmare, the demon took humanoid form. I almost never have nightmares that involve real physical danger. Usually, I awaken crying because some situation has upset me. Once I was trapped and felt physical danger in that sense, but usually it is just a series of tasks that I must perform, generally to save someone else or fix a situation. I am scared because I feel incompetent or just overwhelmed.

This dream was very different. At the end I was very frightened. I even got out of my bed and checked around everywhere to see if the demon was physically present and hiding somewhere in my apartment. Oh...and for several days, I had an irrational fear of bathrooms, any bathroom... though I kept talking myself into using them by saying that they didn't look like the one in the dream.

What does this mean?

I have had millions of anxiety dreams. But this dream had anxiety not as a task to be solved but as a real threat, in this case bodily.

I contemplated the possibility this was some religious revenge for saying I don't pray or believe in that kind of institution.

Frightened as I was, I did comfort myself with *prayer* - with the caveat that this was just the sort of occasion I objected to using prayer for... you know when you are in desperate need rather than part of a daily practice where you might include a little gratitude once in a while.

But in my prayer, I was making clear I had not questioned the existence of the divine in the form of a god or the universe, just rejected the notion of allegiance or authority. Even in my frightened state, I was having a conversation with god, not necessarily desperately entreating...

I was surprised by the fear and the sense of helplessness and the need and desire for a way to get comfort.

I am glad to have it past me... it has taken me a while to really believe it was just a dream.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekend Roundup

This kind of story reminds me that there are people who identify as religious, Catholic and progressive! Almost makes me want to drink coffee, too.

Hmmm...better late than never. Wish they would have thought better on how to capitalize on Jaime Escalante's legacy a long time ago ... and in more imaginative and useful ways.

Library wars ... I know times are tough, but when you are about to dig up a park to the tune of millions to make it more fancy, you'd think you could afford to pay for the library ... ridiculous.

This is an interesting turn in the teacher pay and lay off debate. It is about the third story (here's the second) I have read with parents standing up for their children's teachers. I wondered how it would go down once the situation was less abstract (those greedy teachers) and more concrete (hey, they just laid off my son's teacher)... maybe the middle class is waking up after all: the US's most notorious sleeping giant.
Some quotes from these two stories:

"Enough is enough," said Amanda Millet, who has two kids at the school. "This year we stand to lose some of our best teachers, the very best. It's amazing that the teachers and their union are being blamed for what is happening with the economy right now.... I see a lot of very nice new buildings housing the LAUSD administration. They should get out of those offices and see what's happening at a school like ours, a place that needs to keep all the good teachers it can." [LA Times story]
"My husband works in Sunnyvale. It's not for convenience that we stay in Oakland," said Heather Siglin, who has a first-grade student at Glenview Elementary School. "We built a solid school in my neighborhood. I trust my son's teachers, I trust my principal, and assuming they have the job in the fall, I'd like to give the power back to my school. I want the money to go to my teachers.

"A lot of my neighbors have opted to send their children to private school. Why should I stay?" [SF Chronicle story]

This is what I expected would happen... hope it is the isolated case:
Not everyone was in lock step. Jean Higgins led about a dozen parents from Think College Now, a Fruitvale District charter elementary school, in urging the civic leaders to develop creative layoff plans to avoid layoffs by seniority that would more deeply affect certain schools. Teachers in the audience responded with shouts of "No layoffs!" and "Don't pit teachers against teachers!" [Oakand Tribune story]
For fun, because there is not nearly enough fun in my life right now. And after you read it, it will confirm just how lacking in fun my life is... ah.... how many more weeks until the end of the semester??

Steve Lopez, from the Los Angeles Times, takes on the budget and immigration.

And the LA Times also takes on the issue of how to handle the rampage via youtube.

And one for the silver lining file... NPR has been doing a series on youth violence in Chicago... Sunday's entry was particularly hopeful even if the situation itself isn't. Gotta start somewhere... and I am heartened by what these folks are trying to do, and particularly how they are including the community in the solution.

Also saw a wonderful story on Sixty Minutes. Click here if you want to be inspired. It also belongs in the silver lining file.

Back to the grind for a few more days before I head out to Los Angeles for the Oral History Conference... hoping that I will be going there with my master's paper done... cross your fingers for me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


To sleep, perchance to dream...

Happy dreams, I hope

Update: how is it my neighbor who is learning to play the electric guitar know just which night I will try to get some sleep?

Seriously, I have been sleep deprived for days, admittedly by my own failure to manage my time more effectively, but this is killing me right now.

Friday, March 25, 2011

if at first you don't succeed...

Today I decided, again, to be gentle with others and myself... I was going to rain down compassion on any situation or person that made my blood pressure rise.

It was a good plan ... but it was not exactly successful.

As I seethed and tried to calm down as I have way too much to do to spend ANY time being upset, I recalled this post by Jen Gray from earlier in the week.

It should be required reading for all adults.

You should read it, especially if you are feeling like you need to be rescued by the Friends of the Friendless (I LOVE LUCY reference). [Go to the Friends link to watch a piece; go to the Lucy link to read about the episode! You're welcome!]

Truthfully, it was remember my little pledge and some deep breaths that finally did the trick... back to the draft. I have to harness all my energy for this draft. SERIOUSLY.

And on the pledge, well, if at first you don't succeed, try, try, again... here I go.

Some inspiration, courtesy of the NM sky:

Because I can't resist...WEEKLY round up

...and though I am often procrastinating writing my paper during the day, at night I am up, still procrastinating, but I read articles...

These two are awesome from the Los Angeles Times (I LOVE LATIMES.COM) about the Shiva Sisters. And the AP never ceases to amaze me in that they are still REPORTING... gosh, what a concept. This is a piece about Native American teenagers and suicide, though we have had a bit of reporting here in NM about the issue, is one focuses on a reservation in Montana. I am giving you the link to the Sacramento Bee because I think it will last longer. My little AP mobile app gives me access to the stories for just one day or so...

I hate the misuse and overuse of the word gang. I think it is a convenient catchall condemnation. (of course I have more to say about this, but this is not the post for this...just the background) So, I was intrigued to read this article about "gangs" of deputies at the jail. I am also interested in exactly who these folks who are getting dismissed are... as in, what color, and how the other "gangs" were dealt with at the prison. Where is the union? What do they have to say about this. FASCINATING...

Also loved the style of this piece on and sales tax in California... It is a very interesting article. I wish it had gone a little farther and wondered aloud if taxing could be promoted as "buying local" -- Drew alludes to it but doesn't draw straight lines. In an era where ABC NEWS spent an entire week in an *investigative* series on "MADE IN AMERICA," there seems to be room to question and speculate about how citizens' cost saving measures are *damaging* the economy. There is still no signs pointing to who might rightfully pay their fair share ... still always gazing at the middle or lower to pay more...ugh.

I read a really confusing article on the growth of the "Hispanic population" on the AP Wire... and I am not posting it here, and then I read this one at the LA TIMES. While not as confusing ... it fails to address some of the issues I think were at play in this particular census ... such as what race did "HISPANICS" choose given they were forced to choose between WHITE, BLACK, NATIVE AMERICAN, JAPANESE, CHINESE, OTHER ASIAN... yes, note the irony. This one was meant to discuss the rise in the Hispanic Population and mark the 50% mark of the total population of the US... just to really scare the rabid racists who are calling for us to all be denied status and rounded up to be sent "home." However, it fails to even address where "Hispanics" are in relation to Blacks and Asians -- a point that the AP piece tried and failed to do because it was so confusing...or maybe it was too early in the morning when I read it? Whatever... this shit is all made up anyway...I think next time around I am going to *choose* to be Japanese for census purposes. What about you?

In a somewhat related article ... the pacific ocean as immigration frontier...funny the same day this article hit the paper, I was watching a prof talk about this very issue... and it was the day after the article of the undocumented caught at the border dressed in marine outfits. I am not posting that one, but you can look for it on It would make for an interesting paper... this is all I can think about now ... how anything relates to a paper topic. YUCK!

Talk amongst draft is still calling my name LOUDLY.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


From the seen at sb journal ... from the archives because I am supposed to be writing my paper right now...

Swagger just walked in and sat down in front of me. Good thing I was already packing to leave.

I don't know if I can do the scene justice. Swagger is that thing you know when you see it but perhaps the description looks slightly different depending on who is writing it.

He walked in like he owned the joint and surveyed his kingdom with a sweep of his head, entire body engaged in looking "handsome" and "winning."

I enjoy a particular kind of swagger as much as the next girl. I like it particularly in the body of a firefighter and not so much in the body of a police officer.

This guy, though, made me want to run out of the building and wash my hands... something too slippery about this guy.

And then the woman he was meeting walked in ... she hugged him like her life depended on it and I could sense how long and hard she has been working at getting this guy to do more than f*ck her.

Sleazy in the body of a rejected fashion model. I wish I could be more precise, it was more of a feeling than anything else.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Musings while Traveling

....taken me a little bit to get this from the drafts folder to the published folder, so slightly out dated, but with any luck I am working on the mounds of work I am supposed to be doing as you are reading this...

I love the Oakland airport because it is so efficient to get through security - the Southwest terminal at least. Today it took a little longer than usual, but still under 20 minutes, in fact I think it was just over the usual 15 mins.

I was happy to see that I arrived before the Alameda symphonic band. The woman in front of me noted that they were headed to her, and after a little spying, I noted their flight number, indeed, the same as hers. They seemed like a good bunch of kids though... I really just didn't want to be behind 60 perky orchestra members that early in the morning.

Spring training is on for the baseball folks...and I could tell because four people had their special SF Giant Spring Training hats on for the plane ride. Guess where they were flying to...

Well, musings aside, I have a long ass flight ahead of me. Leaving Oakland at 9am (arrived at 7:45am) and not arriving in ABQ until 3pm with a nice little bus ride waiting to take me home.

[Turns out the flight was so long because we flew to Portland, OR, first...yup, I left rainy, soggy weather in Oakland (just in time, in fact, because they had a weird lightning and hail storm the day I left) to see more of the same in Portland, from the window, actually, but still. The young woman who sat next to me to ABQ was so pleased to see SUN out the window as we descended into the airport...]

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When the myths break

*WARNING* serious rant will start right now...

Funny how tragedies can bring out the worst in people. One could argue that it is just poor taste or bad humor, but I tend to think it emanates from mean spiritedness triggered from insecurity. You know that kind where you simultaneously feel like you are not worthy and that you are not getting what you deserve. I am sure it is an unhappy and uncomfortable position.

I should not have been surprised then by the outrageous reactions to the triple tragedy that befell japan last week. If you have been out of touch, there was the voice of the aflac duck, a female pro basketball player, and my favorite, the UCLA student. Each of their in-poor-taste spewing must have been meant in some way to be funny, but each also betrayed a prejudice predicated on a stereotype.

The UCLA student offers me just the opportunity I needed to discuss how myths collide and how our schizophrenic attitude towards education and opportunity manifest in these myths.

Let's start with my favorite, the myth of meritocracy. I think one begins to hear about this while in utero: if you work hard and are good at what you do, you will be rewarded with whatever your occupation values. So if you work hard and are a good student, you get in to a great school and maybe even a scholarship. And, of course, a good education, but is that really what anyone cares about?

You see, the nameless they will tell you, the United States, unlike those monarchical states, is a meritocracy. That means you EARN your rewards and station and remuneration. No one gets a free ride and you can't get the rewards unless you do the work.

It is a wonderful idea and ideal. If only it were true.

So when you get what you want, you can believe you deserve it. Perhaps more importantly it gives one the opportunity to blame poor people as slothful or otherwise undeserving and fight against programs like affirmative action simultaneously.

Those programs are particularly dangerous as they are proof that meritocracy is at best a myth, or at worst a cruel joke.

When California abolished affirmative action in higher education, it set the myth if meritocracy on a collision course with another myth, namely that of the model minority.

For the unfamiliar, this myth assures the populace that are immigrants we can get behind and these are Asian. They work hard and quietly, they get good grades without any extra consideration, they don't muddy the waters in any way- no asking for special treatment, etc.

In fact, it means that people who feel threatened by things like affirmative action use Asians as the model minority whenever they want to keep brown and black folks from getting in on the action. It turns out that they only wanted the Asian students to complain about never comprising more of the student body at elite UCs... it was a favorite rant, if it weren't for affirmative action all those hard-working, good-grade-getting Asian students would take their rightful place at the elite schools of their choice.

It's a little tricky because the anti-aff. action folks weren't actually willing to agree that quotas were in place to keep Asian students to 8-10%... they just wanted to use the stats against black and brown *undeserving* students. Somehow white students, legacies and athletes are never part of the meritocracy equation... perhaps we could work it out if we wanted to... legacies are meritorious by default of their ancestors, athletes are meritorious for their prowess on the field(s), and whites are ...?? Yeah, it kind of breaks down when you get to the details. Remember what the politicians like to say, "the devil's in the details..." And how.

So, when we took down the artificial barriers to high achieving Asian students getting into UCLA and UCBerkeley, it turns out there was meritocracy afterall... and it showed itself by admitting all the top Asian students. Now, the UCs can boast percentages that mirror the achievement percentages for the state. And lucky for them that so many Asian students decided to take advantage of the fine state system instead of taking off for ivies or sisters or anywhere else.

Clearly, if Asians were the model minority, they would also know their place...and stay there.

When all was said and done, there were a lot of salty white folks. First the ones that had to go to community college or Riverside or Merced...yikes... who wants that. Then, those who were meritorious enough to get into UCLA and Berkeley are now *surrounded* by Asian students who want to do things like bring their families to visit campus, and talk on cell phones in the library and just in general be everywhere... I don't know if I have captured the rant sufficiently as I refused to watch it.

Though, I noted with interest the other day that poor little put upon white girl was now getting death threats and decided to leave school... even though the campus administration decided not to look into disciplinary charges. I like that the LA Times decided to just post the piece from KTLA rather than write their own story. She has gotten quite enough press already.

For a story on a vastly different kind of student, check out this Tobar piece from the LA Times.

Monday, March 21, 2011

brains are weird

Going on three or four days that this song has been running through my mind at will.
Everyday I Write The Book [Elvis Costello]
Don't tell me you don't know what love is
When you're old enough to know better
When your dreamboat turns out to be a footnote
I'm a man with a mission in two or three editions
And I'm giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday I write the book

Chapter One we didn't really get along
Chapter Two I think I fell in love with you
You said you'd stand by me in the middle of Chapter Three
But you were up to your old tricks in Chapters Four, Five and Six

The way you walk
The way you talk, and try to kiss me, and laugh
In four or five paragraphs
All your compliments and your cutting remarks
Are captured here in my quotation marks

Don't tell me you don't know the difference
Between a lover and a fighter
With my pen and my electric typewriter
Even in a perfect world where everyone was equal
I'd still own the film rights and be working on the sequel
[Don't ask me why that one line is in bold but I was tickled by the fact that whoever posted the lyrics did that, so I kept it...]

I never even thought I knew it well enough for it to cycle through my head on its own. But there you have it. Thus, brains are weird. I seriously believe there are brain cells leaking out of my head right as I write this, you just never know what will happen next. But I am just hoping that I don't get a repeat of the nightmare I had this morning. Let's just say I am afraid to go to the bathroom now. YIKES!

Here's the video in case you have no idea what this song sounds like. Give it a listen and maybe you can have it as your soundtrack, too.

And, I can't resist this shorter version from the SOLID GOLD TV show... wow, 1983, who knew I was even listening to Elvis Costello in 1983?!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fascinating story about screening the movie "Miral" at the UN. Really looking forward to this movie...

Wednesday morning (3.16.2011) the mobile version of the Los Angeles Times revealed these four headlines:
Japan increases efforts to cool damaged nuclear plants
Emperor Akihito's speech underlines gravity of Japan's nuclear crisis
Police, soldiers rout protestors in Bahrain
CIA contractor Raymond Davis freed in Pakistan killings [turns out someone, sounds like the US, just paid 2 million in "blood money" for this "freeing" -- um, don't we have a budget crisis right now?? SERIOUSLY!]
Rapper Nate Dogg dead at 41

There is an entire dissertation to be written about our society at large with just these headlines. Though I might also mention that the end of days people are really having a field day/week/month right now. I am told that here in the bay area, the enders have a billboard up ... says May 21st is the day we will all be going back to Jesus. I mean when only the good people will be going... A friend commented that it was just rude to make the end of the world after tax day. I had to agree, though knowing as we do, thanks to the billboard, we can all file extensions that we know will never be paid. And someone else suggested we ought to just crank up Prince and party like it's 1999 -- however badly planned that last end of days turned out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Home... then and now...

CLARIFICATION: started July 2010 and finished March 2011

"I woke on the train to the sun rising over northern Arizona. The sky was pale blue with a splash of red on the horizon. The sky is immense with a few clouds now covering the sun like a thin blanket." 7-13-10 from the journal

For as long as I can remember "home" lived in my heart as a landscape: tall mountains that look like either sleeping brown or green dinosaurs across from the ocean. On a clear day as you faced the ocean it might look like you could walk across to the islands... or visit the baby dinos however you conceived of them.

The memory of the soul landscape is variably brought back to me by the feel of the ocean breeze or the warm east winds or the smell of rain or eucalyptus trees.

I never developed a homey feeling for the landscapes of NJ. Instead I dreaded winter when I saw the leaves turn or felt betrayed by the bright winter sun that brought frigid temperatures.

Sure there were moments of appreciation like those spring mornings when it seemed the magic elves had been working so hard to make the flowers bloom overnight; or the incomparable joy of a real blanket of snow, the kind you can make snow polar bears with.But it was here and there and far and few between. And walking out into the smoggy air at LAX could bring a tear to my eye out of nostalgia not pollution.

Given that experience, I never expected to develop a true appreciation for Oakland's soggy, foggy days, or an affection for a cemetery with views of two bridges. But I did. There is something about these sights, and others that scream, "home!" to me.

Likewise I didn't think that I could come to love the desert oasis that is New Mexico. Albuquerque might be nothing more than another sprawling city but it has truly gorgeous skies that bespeak the magic (enchantment, if you like) of the place.

So when I woke on that train trip to see the beginnings of those skies against the mountains, I knew I was almost home again.

Maybe home is where the heart is, and maybe it is just where the turtle is. For me, though, home is where the landscape speaks to my soul.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Right Story, Wrong Questions

In my course about teacher training in the reform context, we have spent a long time talking about what teacher training should look like ... what does good teaching look like, how can we train for it.

I think we are asking the wrong question. Over and over again... we focus on creating the perfect program as though we all agreed with what teaching looks like... I will go farther... that we all agree on the ultimate goal of public education.

For me, the notion that we all agree on what our expectations are for this project we call public education is the single biggest obstacle. From what we have read, and what we can see, the first rupture between reality and perception begins with this question. Is the goal of public education to give everyone an equal opportunity at the brass ring? That is what all of those who claim to be idealistic will tell you. I still think of myself as an idealist, and I know this to be a lie.

We have already identified in class the schizophrenic approach we have towards teachers and teaching ... we claim to value education yet we have consistently undervalued education through the way we choose and prepare teachers, by the amount of money we pay them, and the bureaucratic approach we take to it.

If we cared about education, it would be about education not about warehousing, not about creating factory line workers. If we believed that education is for all the same and about giving everyone the best chance for the future, we would not spend so much time putting down parents or teacher or schools, we would find the problem, and we would fix it. Instead, we believe that not all CAN do it, and we sort and sift according to our biases not ability. We warehouse, we chastise, we numb.

In fact, public education was created in order to contain, control and acculturate workers.

Sorry to burst the bubbles.

The irony is that education DOES have the capacity, despite all of the roadblocks the bureaucrats throw in its way, to transform lives. Despite its many faults, it is the great equalizer. It is the ONLY hope that certain populations have for achieving the so-called American Dream.

There I said it... I believe. I am a realist in the sense that I am willing to name the truth. But I am an idealist in that I believe we can force education to live up to its ideal... just as we have forced "all men were created equal" have more of a basis in reality. There is more work to be done, but naming the disconnect between the rhetoric and the action was the first step.

We don't need Michelle Rhee, we need a reality check and then we can roll up our sleeves and get to work... nothing we do in the name of the present system without recognizing its hypocrisy will do more than put lipstick on that fabled pig.

We might start there by redefining this concept ... it is not the American Dream that anyone can have, it is, in fact, the exception that a few can achieve in order to perpetuate the myth. It is this way whether we like it or not. We cannot wish it away no matter how many times or in how many ways we try to reconfigure it.

Between the myth of the American Dream and the myth of meritocracy, truth hardly has a chance to shine through. Why should any one embrace the truth that recognizes that our system is designed to contain and control workers, mesmerize them into believing that they, too, can be millionaires, and if they cannot attain that goal, then they are deficient in some way... and probably it has something to do with their race or ethnicity.

Even poor white folks know that they have a better chance of slipping through the gauntlet to achieve the American Dream... and this is the reason we hold it so dear.

This is not to say that we should not try to figure out how to make education live up to its hype... if it were, I would certainly not be busting my ass in graduate school right now. I am not here for me... I was one of those exceptions, exceptional some people like to say. Unfortunately for those who hold to the Dream and the meritocracy myth, I did not continue on to the fulfillment of my exception.

I did not become an economic striver... despite myself, actually, since even as a teacher, I consistently earned more than my peers because I figured out how to demand more, I had been trained, after all, to believe in the hype, to believe in what I deserved. It has taken me a long time to unlearn and disabuse myself of this notion.

[Right now, I could use some of that bravado when I am faced with those who would tell me, over and over, that graduate school and the PhD are not for me. They have no idea what they are dealing with. They have no idea where I come from, where I have been or what demons I have already faced down.]

Instead, I have consistently chosen to try to make education live up to its expectations. I have succeeded and failed and succeeded and failed... and finally given in to the understanding that we must face reality, the facts, in order to break open this system to remake it in its own image ... that is in the image of its expectations... that which we claim to want and care about and believe in.

You cannot do it otherwise... train them in rote learning, save the talented forty, feed into the hype, you are not changing anything... and, truth be told, you are not helping anyone that wouldn't have made it anyway.

I was one of those, I am telling you right now. I got some leg ups and I got some shove downs. Ultimately, they were not going to hold me back, and they did not help me.

My drive, my fire and my passion does not come from the system that would call me exceptional (as in you are the exception, not the rule). It comes from my ancestors, from the very real trials they faced in order to survive. They probably never imagined a granddaughter who would go to college let alone graduate school. Their minds were not stretching in that way... they were thinking about surviving, they were thinking about in in the way we say it in Spanish ... sobrevivir... to do more and above living. SOBRE...above, not just make it, not keep your head above water, it's different...

There's more... sorry to say... it will keep coming out.

Monday, March 14, 2011

mostly school/economic news

Super interesting -- from the perspective of school superintendents in Ventura County.

An editorial titled "Dismantling a School Near You" that is really about the economy. Thought it was fascinating to turn the tables on the commentary that schools are what are disabling the economy. Finally... could the middle class revolution be far down the road?

I read this story with my heart in my throat. I am not sure what the take away is, but it is still a powerful story.

word postcard

Greens of about seven different hues, clouds that hug the ridge line, and blue sky surround me.

I decided to not cart the camera, so you will have to close your eyes and imagine.

Wonderful wine, picnic fare and a good friend... seriously more than anyone could ask for!!

this word postcard captured at Korbel

UPDATE: so it turns out my friend got a photo.

photo credit: Nimia's iPhone

Friday, March 11, 2011

news...on happiness and mail

I have to admit my heart skipped a little beat when I read the title of the article: In Praise of Snail Mail. I *LOVE* mail. I mean love it... as long as it has my name on it. I used to open all of it, now I do make a pile that is purely solicitation and even though my name is on it, I just put it into the recycling. But, the key component to getting the kind of mail you desire, ie personal, is to write some of it yourself. I actually love writing letters almost as much as I love getting them. Note cards, postcards, real letters... love them all. There is more than the difference in medium/media... it is qualitatively different to compose a letter now especially more than ever. There are a few people with whom I correspond that I do so only through email, and it is extremely difficult for me to compose a long, thoughtful letter on the computer. Call me crazy, it just doesn't seem right to be writing important, heartfelt things on the screen. Someday, when it is all that is available, I will really be in a bind. For now, I will continue to write real letters and wait by the mailbox for the replies...

Alexandra (no, I don't know her, but I like to make use of people's names when I get the chance), in this piece, ponders the relative happiness of folks and whether or not fb contributes to our lack of happiness...and includes a final note on the *virtues* of loneliness. In true 21st century style, her musings are based on evidence from studies...

No, I am not up early combing through newspapers, or maybe I am, probably not... I suspect I will be largely unplugged through Monday, but I found these and thought three posts in one day was more than excessive...enjoy!

photo credits: still dreaming about the time in the wine country...

Ultimate Random

I think I am going to start a new "sport" called ultimate random where you dump all the thoughts that run through my head ... until I learn how to stop thinking in 120 words segments.

I am ready for spring and to prove that I have been dressing inappropriately as though it were 60 degrees when I wake up. Ready, ready, ready for spring.
While you are reading this, I am waking up in Oakland... ahhh... vacation, or at least, sort of vacation. Anything that include barrel tasting in the wine country has to be vacation, right?

I don't know if I will have room to pack the camera, or if I will have time to write. I will be working on my draft and reading the scholarship applications. But mostly, I will be drinking wine and visiting with friends.

I guess I should have written visiting with friends and drinking wine... I guess it tells you something about how badly I need the vacation.

Don't worry, it will barely be warm in Oakland and it will probably be raining... but the warmth will come through the friends (and wine ... there's a theme to this post afterall).

Happy Spring Break... back next week if not sooner depending on my drinking engagements.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


My class is still collecting news stories about teachers for our study of the rhetoric. This is not a stand out, but I am still marveling at how we allow the right to set the agenda. I love Obama, but he's is completely off base on education. I was so disappointed by his choice of Secretary of Education... and continue to be.

My heart continues to ache over this story... it is the ugliest and most unseemly way we turn people upon their own. May Maria Isavel rest in peace... and may we not stop agitating until this stops happening.

Sorry to say this story got so much play. Gingrich trying to rehabilitate himself in order to run for president decides that the best way to do that is to "blame" patriotism for his infidelity and hypocrisy. Seriously... if people believe this, then there is no hope for our country.

For the "they just don't get it" file... here's a little story about white men fighting for their rights. Pobrecitos.

A couple of articles about the changing demographics in California that the latest census has uncovered. I am not sure that I am convinced that these are the most salient points in the demographic shift story, but I was interested in how they both used graphic representations to try to make their points.

Somewhere out there ... is there a story with a silver lining?? Still looking...

This one will have to do: the coast guard gymnasium in Oakland/Alameda, Coast Guard Island, has been named for the first African American NY Giant who also was a WWII hero (and an NFL hall of famer). It's as feel good as I am going to get today I think...

The Office Break In

The other day, I showed up to "my" office - since it is just the space allocated to me for this year and I share it with three other people, it is not really mine - and the glass panel below the door knob was broken in.

I unlocked the door in the usual way rather than making use of the new access port to get in. Everything seemed to be in order except for the glass on the floor.

Even though I had very little time before my meeting which I had planned to use to grade exams, I walked back up to the office and reported the broken window. It would appear they already knew since their response was, "is there anything missing?"

How would I know? Honestly, it is not my office. It belongs to someone who is either on sabbatical or left the university ... but left many of his belongings behind.

I proceeded to walk over the broken glass several times as I went in and out to all the scheduled meetings. I looked around trying desperately to remember how things had looked the last time I was in there. But beyond the top shelf that had some books knocked over and a few things in the desk picked over, it didn't seem that anything was taken.

There were, in fact, two computers in the office, neither of which was taken. It is a little funny because later that day, I saw a commercial about a house that was broken into but the computer was so old, it wasn't taken. Not sure in this economy that would really happen...

Meanwhile, people walked by and asked me questions like this, "What happened?"

I don't know... but I heard an awful lot of theories about what someone might have been looking for or taken.

This is a mystery story waiting to be written...

Location:University Blvd NE,Albuquerque,United States

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


These two little guys are too cute not to post. I wish I knew an easy way to post the actual picture... you'll just have to follow the link.

A remembrance of Alberto Ganado, Che's sidekick on the motorcycle adventure.

Fascinating story about a secret little list especially for athletes at Stanford. I had a difficult conversation in class today about the myth of meritocracy. It is a hard one to dispel...but this little article makes me think I might be able to use it in the future.

I think that this kind of story will get a lot of play in the end of days circles.

I am feeling Mark Twain less and less, but this story about his editors becoming rock stars is pretty entertaining.

easily influenced?

I am drawing my inspiration for this post from a friend and former colleague who is following her dream as we speak in Spain. I am so proud of her and excite about her adventures!

She said, "So, I decided to have compassion on myself, quiet my mind of all the arguing about what to do with my life and at the very least recreate my list of reasons I should be confident." And then she listed 17 things about herself that remind her of her strength and enthusiasm and courage.

Then she challenged her readers to do the same. And why 17? She says, "17 is the magic confidence number!!!"

I like 17 as well, but this may take me days...

1. I have TWO blogs where I regularly dump my thoughts, reflections and, actually hope people will read it.
2. I desire to be known. I am learning how to embrace being fierce.
3. I have at least three times packed up my life and headed out to a new place.
4. I derive joy from watching children ... they are endlessly fascinating, resilient, daring, open and love life.
5. I understand where I come from, and I carry the ancestors' dreams in my pocket.
6. I like to make up interesting stories about people at restaurants and coffee shops. It amuses me and other people and generally doesn't hurt anyone.
7. People like to tell me their troubles. I don't mind listening or offering support.
8. I love fiercely. It's the only way I know how.
9. I decided to go back to graduate school at age 40. Nothing is going to hold me back.
10. I speak four languages...none of them perfectly but all of them well enough to get my point across and to learn about other people. Sometimes I speak them in my dreams, too.
11. I am a thoughtful friend.
12. I care about people even ones that I don't know and those I haven't met.
13. I am perfecting the use of compassion.
14. I give people the benefit of the doubt.
15. I see people for both what they can be and who they are... and I love them anyway.
16. I believe in magic and shooting stars and luck and asking the universe for what you want.
17. I am not perfect, not even close by a little bit, but I am working at being my best me everyday.

Phew... it only took me six days to get a list of 17... progress?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

list mania

My life is one long to do list... and that might make you think that the last thing I want to do is make more lists.

But, I don't feel like they rule my life. Rather I feel that they order my crazy a little bit.

I can see what needs to be done ... and by when, even if I can't always achieve the goal.

Yeah, sometimes they get super overwhelming, especially when I am not able to cross as much off as I would like... or when I am unrealistic about what can get done (almost always). On the other hand, I always know what needs to get done.

As I find old lists with hardly anything crossed off, I begin to question the wisdom of lists.

I want to get back to when I was using most of my waking time productively. Though at this point, I need something more than an attitude adjustment to achieve that state. I think a regular exercise routine might be the first right step

Today, I was intending to write a list of all the things I would buy if I got one of those big fellowships I applied for last fall. This is something like a list of what you would do with the lottery, but from the perspective of a fairly frugal person.

1. Order those custom cowboy boots (not decorated: $450!) maybe a cowboy hat, black, too
2. That fancy pen that records audio while you write ($169)
3. Frames for all my prints (maybe even get them framed) ($??)
4. Fancy recording equipment so I can do proper interviews. ($200-$700)
5. A mac mini! ($700??)
6. Budget a massage or treatment every other month at the spa! ($100 * 6)

Ok, there's no way I could get all of that, but I could certainly justify #2, 4 and 5 as school expenses. And there is that other $1500 grant I can apply for... hmmm.

But how will I pay for the spa or the boots?

photo credits: taken in wine country on my farewell tour in 2009. I am gearing up for next weekend. SO READY!

Monday, March 07, 2011

some news

I guess I can't really help myself...these are those that you can call the weekend round up.

Something about the teachers, the unions and how to make the deficit go away.

I loved this interview with Harvey Weinstein, and I really want to see that movie.

I hope that this news article is a harbinger of the future, but I am fearful that it is only hopeful thinking.

Then there is this piece about the impending food shortage. I am not trying to say I buy into the whole conspiracy theory... but I do believe that our reality check, like that of the rest of the world, will come through food.

I used to explore the river bottom when I was kid, and get in trouble for it... so I could not help but share this article.

I am not even going to read any more newspapers before this posts. I swear. I have to do WORK. And work at 6:30 MST or is it MDT? Who knows anymore... I am living for the weekend when I will be back in California.

A taste (Sonoma County the last time I got to barrel tasting):

Coupled part 1

I have never seen them at a table. They are usually on the comfy chairs. He always on the computer and she always grasped by the hand.

They are both pretty short. He can't be over 5'8" and she seems shorter than me but may just be my height 5'6". He is African American and often wears loose pants with a long shirt over them, and sometimes a little hat. I am sure that there are specific names for the clothes, but I don't know them. Sometimes she wears them too. She is blond and looks up and only seems to look at him directly.

She was looking through a large coffee table book when I arrived. A few times she got up and went over to the condiment island. She shuffles, head down in the most servile way. Does she always have her head covered?

Then she moved her chair next to him. She watches his lips move as he reads to her. She glances at the screen. Her gaze doesn't show interest as much as servile.

Maybe I am projecting. I have the headphones on so I cannot hear what he is saying.

When his hands are on the keyboard, she strokes his knee. They both wear wedding rings, but there is some odd power dynamic that defies the perception of the devoted married couple.

She moves the chairs, watches like a hawk for the comfy chairs, waiting for one to open up. I mean waiting for it... standing right next to a person who gives the inkling that he/she will leave. She waits, not truly patiently, though she doesn't say anything, and then she pounces. He comes over and takes the seat, then she goes off in hunt for a chair to sit next to him.

Despite the fact that she is always giving off the lowly woman vibe, she clearly knows her role and relishes it, performing it with exactitude and fierceness. She secures the seating... just like he likes it. If she can't do it right away, she becomes the sentry on the look out for just the right seating...goldilocks style.

I always wondered what they were reading on the computer, and then they sat next to me the other day instead of across from me. They just use the internet... they read articles. The only ones I could make out where the celebrity chisme articles. And, he really reads then aloud to her. Can she not read? Or is it something to do with their power dynamic.

It's awful, but I can't help but think of the Garridos when I see these two. I am not saying that they have some young blond woman they abducted from somewhere sequestered in their backyard, but it is just such an odd relationship.

You will have to make up the pictures for yourself.

Location:Historic U.S. 66,Albuquerque,United States

Friday, March 04, 2011

Some news stories ...

Not sure how long this post will last. The title, "Some see poetry in Charlie Sheen's 'Adonis DNA'" is pretty spectacular. This AP piece was spread far and wide in local newspapers, all of the major station web feeds, etc. Here's the problem... this guy has clearly been self medicating a probably undiagnosed (though you never know, it may have been diagnosed long ago...) mental illness. I guess there is a very slim chance that he is faking it. Given what we know about undiagnosed mental illness allowed to run amok, is this really the response we should be giving: figuring out how to profit from watching a man self-destruct?? These are the times that make me wonder if there is any compassion or humanity in the world. It makes sense now that Giffords' attacker slipping by so many unnoticed. We walk by people in need all the time, and the most we can think to do is figure out how to profit from them or to laugh at them. This is serious dysfunction on so many levels.

For another take on the issue, much more nuanced and responsible, I might add, here is Michel Martin's interview with two journalists who also happen to have drug addiction issues.

To lighten the mood a little, I loved this story. If you have ever read Walter Dean Myers or watched a child you know and/or love devour one of his books, it will warm your heart.

Thursday, March 03, 2011


I am still feeling a little "third of five" cut off from the fb collective - self imposed though it may be.

Appreciating those who are dropping by this space and especially those *commenting* on posts.

If you are out there, give signs of life...

Location:Tijeras Ave NE,Albuquerque,United States

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

News Round Up ... reluctantly compiled...

I am really too busy for this, but I have been biting my tongue for long I am about to lose the tip of it.

I don't always agree with Sandy Banks, but on this one, I appreciate her conciliatory way of telling it like it is. Someone said yesterday, "I should be in Wisconsin," and I couldn't agree more. I am standing with my union homies from afar... even though I haven't been in a union in almost 10 years.

For the I *heart* LA photo essay on a Frank Lloyd Wright home in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles... wow. For the word (versus photo) version, see this link.

The obituary of a reluctant yet powerful critic of homophobia, particularly that brand that uses the Bible as a sword, Reverend Peter J. Gomes.

For the silver lining file... even in lean times, there are ways to help and to be helped. This is the case of businesses and individuals giving to local schools through supplies. Love it.

On a lighter note, I woke up Monday morning wondering when I would get those Girl Scout cookies I order what feels like so many months ago... and then I got an email that they were here... they are now safely hidden (from me) in the freezer. I can't wait to break open a box, and only thin mints ... they are the only kind I like.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

If you're feeling down today...

check out this guest post, Leonie Allen, on the Superhero's blog. Actually, anything on the Superhero's blog is guaranteed to please.

...or imagine this kind of freedom (there's a parasail thingee attached just off the photo):

Consider going to breakfast at IHOP for Pancake Day and contributing to your local children's hospital.

Happy Tuesday ... it is going to be a really long week.