Monday, April 30, 2012

There's nothing worse...

than needing to have a little melt down (or a big one) but you are such a type A that there isn't even time for a little cry, let alone a good cry.

Ugh... I was just telling someone else who was having anxiety dreams that it is important to let it go ... whatever it is.

So, here it is, I am pulling the monster out from under the bed.

I have two days to finish my "movie," come up with a framework for discourse analysis, and draft a twenty page paper on something I am still trying to get my head around.

I have less time than that to grade all my students quizzes and online discussions ... before they give me a pile of final projects that will need to be graded by May 8th.

I need to go to the grocery store, and buy my father a birthday present and mail something to my dad and my nephew and my brother ... by Wednesday if I want them to get there on time ...

And... I need to get some work done on my proposal draft by Thursday... and make a packing list for my mother, and break it to my sister that she has to figure out how to get quickly from the airport to the train to catch the last train out of Milan to Venice... oh, and re-interview her for a paper that I already wrote, that is AWESOME as it is, by the way ... all that by Wednesday ...

Did I mention that I have a stack of things to read for all of these said paper drafts?  YES...I do.  MOUNDS OF READING.

All I want to do is drink wine, watch sad movies, and cry ... and eat things that are bad for me.

Did I mention that I decided that in this homestretch I would try to lose ten pounds before the trip to Europe?  I did ... apparently I wasn't feeling the pressure was quite oppressive enough... I have lost a few pounds, but every day I make it to the end of the day at 1200 calories, and I am not hungry, and I am just fine ... I have an anxiety attack and shovel something else ... luckily I don't have junk at home. It could be seriously ugly.

There is more ... and all of it needs to be done by May 10th ... and somewhere in between, I need a hair cut and to pack my clothes and clean up my apartment and .... I am sure something else...

There is that job I don't get paid for, and the one that I don't get paid enough for, actually there are two of those ... and then all of the school work and the other commitments.  The to do list kept spilling down the back of every page and so I stopped writing it and stopped checking things off...

I may survive, I may survive and be bald, or I might break down and actually cry at some point... if only I wasn't so tightly wound, I could have that good cry and just feel a little better ...

Instead, I am going back to work... I will breathe in and breathe out and try to do a little yoga and maybe meditate ... five minutes? ten minutes? fifteen? What gets done will get done ... and the rest will get done in its own way, I guess.

Wish me luck, and send me the freedom to cry, if you can ...

post script...
In the moment, I was wallowing and not giving myself some of the credit that was due.  I had a bad day ... a terrible day that compounded the string of bad days, but I did take steps to take care of myself:
1) I took a lunch! I know it seems like such an easy thing, but yesterday I only got 30 minutes and today I took the hour ...
2) I called people ... no one picked up, but I kept calling until I got someone on the line ... I let go of some of the crap I was holding
3) I wrote this! I did feel better afterward ... seeing the monster didn't make the work go away, but I am not feeling as up against the wall as before


Friday, April 27, 2012

Round Up

I was explaining to my students the other day about silver lining stories ... and how many newspapers I peruse on a regular basis.  We didn't even start in on listening to the news on the radio or watching NewsHour.  I was afraid to show them just what a news junkie I am.

Here is what I was reading this week that I couldn't "put down" ... well, you know, close the tab in the browser.  Yeah, some of these have no silver lining in sight.

This is how universities are balancing their budgets... on the backs of graduate students.  Lovely.

Love this story about a man who keeps track of the local school district in Oakland.  The children in Oakland surely need someone on their side.

This piece about the Vatican's finger wagging at nuns was surprisingly hilarious.  I am quite taken the ladies Steve Lopez talked to about the Pope and his pronouncements.  What would Jesus do, indeed.

I posted about the hills residents complaining about Oakland's mayor trying to prioritize police coverage of the most dangerous streets (in the flat lands).  Now, the police (and presumably the mayor) have acquiesced ... or have they.  This piece, seeking to bring clarity to the situation, offers a more complicated picture. However, it seems to ignore the economic situation and the impact it has on crime in places like Oakland where the haves and the have-nots are so clearly delineated. 

There are so many things to say about this story about poverty in the US.  It offers a different perspective on the use of food stamps.  I appreciate the effort to make poverty real by connecting people with the issue.  However, it also struck me that humanizing was necessarily white and potentially lower middle class.  In fact, before she divorced, this woman seemed to be living the American Dream albeit paid for on credit cards...

Here's something I certainly hadn't considered about the Secret Service "scandal" -- leave it to Scott Simon to keep it real.  Thanks, Scott.

It's an interesting story, no doubt, but the way that folks react to the story within this short piece is fascinating ... give it a listen if you have a few minutes.

I think this story points to the fact that I should not be trying to diet right at the moment ... I was so hungry at the end of this story, I added San Bernadino to my California itinerary for the summer... need those "original" tacos and I don't even like tacos. But, I did enjoy an enchirito as a young person.

Heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time ... we are more generous by nature than we know.  We should exercise that muscle more often.  I am praying for strength for James ... and courage for his family, too.  It's not going to get any easier for any of them anytime soon.

I almost missed this one... I have been thinking about twenty years ago a little too much lately.  And the picture is amazing, here's a favorite part:
"Against a back wall sat Si Youngblood, grandson of a Louisiana slave, with an Obama poster draped behind him. Nearby was 18-year-old Arthur Gomez, mouth agape, as if he were in college and had never heard history come alive like this. His father is Latino, and his African American mother split when he was young, so he took it upon himself to begin hanging around the shop last summer to get to know the part of him that's black."
And, finally, here's another one of these 20 years later stories, from the perspective of what has or has not changed at the LAPD.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Poetry Thursday -- wistful, hopeful

Let yourself be silently drawn
By the stronger pull of what
You truly love

want more?  here it is

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Caine Update

Love this kid... here is a picture of him with his "staff" at The Tinkering Studio in the Exploratorium in San Francisco. 

I love the proud, serious, business look on his face.  This kid is a force ... don't get in his way!

Looking at his picture almost makes me feel like it's Friday and not Wednesday ... as if Friday would meaning anything different... :)

His arcade is now touring ... apparently it will be in New York next ... not sure where or when, though...


But often we get sick, or feel exhausted, because we don’t make the effort to galvanize the power of our minds in the service of our physical health, which is one of its most important functions. We really can use it to communicate to our bodies, yet we often regard the two as separate entities that have little to do with one another.
From Daily Om
I have been nearly continually ill -- with health challenges of every shape and size -- since January. [Feeling much better now ... weaning myself off the allergy meds right now.]

I agree that the exhaustion and illness is partly due to not taking care of myself.  I don't just mean that I avoided sick people, washed my hands and took my vitamins ... I always take my vitamins and eat healthy choices, I am not into hand sanitizer, but I know how to wash my hands ... as to avoiding sick people, it was nearly impossible to do that.

In any case, sickness seeped in from every crevice because I wasn't doing the other things I should do for myself ... exercise, write, take a break, etc... be good to myself in general.

It is quite apparent in retrospect ... but crawling out of the sickly abyss has been challenging.

Still trying to figure out how to do the self care ... the hardest part about being alone is having to be the judge, cheerleader, confessor, confidante and best friend to myself.  I am really good at the judging, not so much on the nurturing.

I imagine myself so much better at nurturing others, perhaps that is an illusion.  But, I can't seem to do for me -- particularly when I really need it.

Instead, I spiral down into the well of needing outside affirmation ... all the while not asking it of my friends... it is not a pretty story. 

I am hoping to make it a story in the past ... but it takes all the energy I have to remember to be there for myself.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I don't know where to start, so I will just talk about the moths.

It would appear that Sunday was actually moth day.

Perhaps it was their birth day because they were just every where. But they didn't look like babies. Maybe they had just been sleeping til then.

When I found my car full on Sunday afternoon, I figured it was because they had gotten in over night - because I had left the windows cracked.

But as they flapped wildly around my face as I tried to give them a way out, I remembered walking through a veil of them as I came out of my house.

I lowered the windows even though I was on the freeway. The air and wind blowing my hair in my face. No matter how many I saw fly out, there seemed to be more.

I saw one crawl into the crevice between the dash and the windshield. I used a piece of paper to roust them when I had reached my destination trying to get them out.

On my return to the car, however, there were still more buzzing around.

Moths do not appear to be graceful. Maybe it is just that I have only spent time with them in an anxious state.

When I got home, I found more - in the kitchen, in the bedroom, in the bathroom.

My Buddha nature was tired and I was no longer interested in ushering them out. Now I was flailing at them mercilessly (and not very accurately) and this went on all night. When I wasn't flailing I was listening to the moths flail against the walls and the lamp shade and the blinds and and and.
What is additionally interesting is that the very next day ... I left my car windows down a bit right at dusk AGAIN.  I had just told this sad story to B.  When she and the new puppy (!) walked me out, and I pushed the unlock on the car thing, she started laughing. I looked over, and, there was a swarm of moths in my car AGAIN.

This is the story of my life -- I brought it on myself.

Monday, April 23, 2012

this is what I see when I close my eyes

All hotels booked ... train tickets just about finalized ... just need to reserve the car and begin to dream ... we are very close to being on the countdown.

Friday, April 20, 2012

It's nearly 10pm and this is the first chance I am getting to write a post ...

So, here are two stories... that's all I have in me.

This one is for the don't give up file.  It is another one of those incredible stories, almost too amazing to believe.  But, perhaps, in its own way it can give us hope...

This is an update on the cardboard arcade...the focus of the story is how did this dad create this son.  I am unimpressed with the focus, doesn't the kid have a mom?  I understand that Banks is trying to make a point... and it well taken. I have thought myself, many times, since I saw the video -- this is what happens when you don't let your kid live behind the screen of a video game.  And Banks and Caine's dad are both right ... the thing is to listen to your kid, to let him or her be a kid... to encourage thinking, playing, questioning and experimenting ... especially with those kids who are afraid to do anything that they might not be perfect at ... we all need to remember to try things we are not sure will work.

Thanks, again, Caine, for reminding us that we can do so much more than we imagine... or that we can do whatever we imagine.

It's an important lesson.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Poetry Thursday, Spring and Sandburg...sort of spring

Crazy moon shot from the front door [2012]
The Wind Sings Welcome in Early Spring by Carl Sandburg
(For Paula)THE GRIP of the ice is gone now.
The silvers chase purple.
The purples tag silver.
They let out their runners
Here where summer says to the lilies:
“Wish and be wistful,
Circle this wind-hunted, wind-sung water.”

Come along always, come along now.
You for me, kiss me, pull me by the ear.
Push me along with the wind push.
Sing like the whinnying wind.
Sing like the hustling obstreperous wind.

Have you ever seen deeper purple …
this in my wild wind fingers?
Could you have more fun with a pony or a goat?
Have you seen such flicking heels before,
Silver jig heels on the purple sky rim?
Come along always, come along now.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

for tax day...

Tax day is lingering this year ... and I have sad and frustrating stories about taxes, but instead, I am giving you a little gift.

Take ten minutes and dedicate yourself to this video... but read the story first.

And then pump your fist and yell, I LOVE LA!

Monday, April 16, 2012

bright yellow and red with shades

Guy in chicken suit. Yellow feather to just below the knee. Orange chicken shoes that only reach the ankle. Red "wings" and sunglasses perched on his head. One imagines there is a chicken head somewhere that will replace the sunglasses soon.

He walks in to the sb, no shame in his game, orders enough drip coffee to require a carrier and then came back in to get some other drink.

A woman yelled out at this second appearance, "hey, there's a chicken in here!"

He waved and smiled and told her what he was doing, but I didn't catch it (headphones you know). Then he put his sunglasses on and left.

I guess I prefer to wonder what he's doing rather than to know what it really is lest it be something mundane like selling chicken.

I am thinking he bought that suit one day at a garage sale because it fit thinking he would wear it for Halloween. But it turns out he can use it whenever he wants to get attention -- for himself or a cause.

Why do you think he was wearing a chicken suit lion a bright, sunny Saturday?

Friday, April 13, 2012


This morning I woke to this StoryCorps piece about the riots in Los Angeles.

Just hearing the intro brought a flood of memories to mind.

At this time, twenty years ago, I was desperately trying to finish my senior thesis at Princeton. I was writing about Oscar Acosta and the alienation from his own ethnic heritage I found in his novels.

In the background, I listened to the coverage of the trial, and we waited for a verdict.

I remember walking through campus one day behind several (white) women who were talking about the can imagine what their opinion was.  My mind was wrapped up in my thesis and the racial climate survey we (students) were conducting on campus because the university didn't think there was a reason to do it.  ...all of these thoughts swam in my head as I stayed up all night, gritting my teeth, drinking Pepsi, and writing.

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the riots, we also approach the 20th anniversary of my senior thesis, due coincidentally days after the verdict was read, by that time, the riots had begun and ended, and we were conducting open mic gatherings to give people a place to air their feelings.

I will never forget those days, even though on some level they should be a blur.  I remember a classmate, a black woman who had trumpeted her conservatism for four years.  We called her Shelby Steele's daughter.  I don't know if I remember her real name, even if I do, I wouldn't out her here, it is the nearly anonymous spot after all. 

There she stood in the wake of the verdict and in the middle of the riots, crying, telling those assembled she couldn't believe the legal system had let her down.  Hadn't we all watched the same video with the police beating King?  I looked at her with a mixture of empathy and disbelief ... she was actually looking at the world around her with new eyes.

... and, of course, we are also fast approaching my 20th reunion at Princeton.

I am too busy most days to think about it -- but then something happens to remind me of the 20th ... the tickets are bought, the airfare arranged and the hotels secured... we'll see how it goes.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Poetry Thursday

Though a country be sundered, hills and rivers endure;
And spring comes green again to trees and grasses
Where petals have been shed like tears
And lonely birds have sung their grief.
...After the war-fires of three months,
One message from home is worth a ton of gold.
...I stroke my white hair. It has grown too thin
To hold the hairpins any more.

-Tu Fu (circa 750)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

NPR gems and other news

I have been holding these ... now I am sharing them... the descriptions are from their website, not my editorializations.
Employment prospects for many of Europe's youth are bleak due to the debt crisis and austerity measures. That's not the case in Germany, which has Europe's lowest youth unemployment rate. Part of the reason is an on-the-job apprenticeship system that serves Germany's high-tech economy.
Company Ties Shoes And Ethics Together by John Burnett; posted - April 7, 2012
Update: Report on UC debunked.  Um, yeah... in the category of um, yeah, also goes this piece on tax preparation. I will spare you the gorey details, suffice to say, I need Mitt's accountant... badly.

I have been meaning to post this about Colorado and prisons ... interesting, very interesting.

Also, I am interested in how thanks to the Trayvon Martin tragedy, corporations are severing ties with ALEC -- American Legislative Exchange Council.  I think that ALEC is the same group that is promoting the anti-immigrant legislation in order to build more prisons... I don't have time to go back and do the research now, but NPR exposed the group some time ago ... I think this piece might connect ALEC with the anti immigrant laws.

Someday I will have the time to post more than just news round ups... I promise.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday Views

Here are the few photos I have managed to take while in Gallup ...
I took them a while ago ... from the top of the hill, when I was getting key card access to my classroom.
So, it must have been January, 2012 when I took these...
Hopefully it gives you a sense of the beauty of this place.
Someday, I hope to have time to really take photos ... before I stop driving there every Tuesday.

Monday, April 09, 2012

finding beauty in vulnerability

Dooce shared this truly beautiful piece by LGBTQ BYU students (yes, they have them, and they have a lovely Gay Straight Alliance, too) -- and I am linking to her post because her sharing of this is as important as the piece being shared.  I know just how she feels when she finds something from her alma mater to be proud of... it is a rare and beautiful thing... it shouldn't, but for me, it makes me feel better about the time and work I spent in undergraduate (not the book work) to make it a place where I would want to send my siblings or children.  I truly loved the way these students shared the struggle and the hope.  The tears just poured down my face... what courage and resilience and generosity.

A lovely story about a scholarship winner who will be the first in her family to attend college. 

Finally, a post about the lives of the people sacrificed to gun laws, insecurities and mental illness.  There is a tremendous amount of beauty in the strength and resilience of these folks despite the tragic circumstances under which we are getting to know them.  There is still too much emphasis on the life story of the murderer.  It is not that I don't care about him... I wish him healing in his time in jail.  But the important people are those whose lives were sacrificed.  Here is another piece about the quick thinking of others that saved lives

The people:  Ping, 24, of Oakland:   "As the oldest sibling, Katleen helped raise her sisters and brothers in the Philippines. Liberty Ping had come ahead to the United States in mid-1990s. Katleen followed in 2005, he said. "She's the best. She's the brain," Kaine Ping said. What he would miss most about his sister: "Her," he said. "Her whole life was a story to tell," he said. "The lord gave her to us for 24 years."
Judith O. Seymour, 53, of San Jose: "With her job as a tax analyst outsourced to India, Willow Glen mom Judith "Judy" Seymour had been laid off and decided to follow in her parents' footsteps by getting a nursing degree.  She was just two months away from reaching that dream ...Seymour was also passionate about her faith and, most of all, her family. Her son, Brian, and daughter, Camella, who are both in their 20s, join her brother and sister in mourning. Her parents were nurses in New York before moving to their native Georgetown, Guyana, as U.S. citizens."
Lydia H. Sim, 21, of Hayward"Lydia's strong interest in helping kids led her to studies at Oikos University with a dream of one day becoming a pediatrician."
Sonam Choedon, 33, of El Cerrito: "The 33-year-old Chodon, an El Cerrito resident, worked for five years in the education department of Tibet's government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, where Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and thousands of others set up residence after fleeing their Chinese-occupied homeland in 1959. When she moved to the Bay Area, Chodon volunteered for community activities and enrolled in the nursing program at Oikos."
Grace Kim, 23, of Union City: her family and friend declined to comment.  I  cannot imagine the pain they must all be feeling.  May she rest in peace, and may her family and friends find some peace as well.
Doris Chibuko, 40, of San Leandro: a lawyer in her native Nigeria, wanted this nursing degree as a way to provide for her three daughters. She planned to use her knowledge of law and this nursing degree to become a medical advocate.  She was voted class president at Oikos.
...and Tshering Rinzing Bhutia, 38, of San Francisco a janitor at San Francisco International Airport as he studied nursing at the East Oakland school."Tshering was a modest and caring person, he did not want to destroy lives," Namgyal said. "He chose nursing as a career choice for the opportunity it affords to help people heal and recuperate. This was not to be.""

Friday, April 06, 2012

April Begins

A little over a week ago, I was musing that I wouldn't have to spend the night again in Gallup this semester. After all, it would be April and there would be no more snow.  A few days later, I was remarking about the eighty degree weather we were having to end March.  I said something about how perhaps we had skipped spring and gone right into summer... and then I quickly added, but it might be snowing again in April.

These are things one shouldn't say aloud.

One shouldn't even think these things.

I even complicated the issue by threatening to get my car washed ... it was caked with the remnants of whatever is used here to give you traction in the snow.

It turns out that washing would have been extra.

I usually worry about hitting snow in Grants, or in some area where there is nothing but luscious landscape.  Instead, the snow was sticking and making a mess of the roads. 

Eventually, I was able to pull off the road into what was left of the outskirts of town. 

I wasn't going to make it to Gallup on that day...

I waited there for the snow to stop or for the roads to warm up enough that I could drive home without fishtailing all over the road.

As I pulled up to my apartment, I saw this

The young girls next door had created this little guy while I was waiting by the side of the road.

He was exquisite... bark for eyes, and a carrot nose, and a proud artist
This is the most snow I have seen in Albuquerque since I moved here

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Poetry Thursday, Spring Theme Continued

A day early ... this one was ready and the other many drafts are in some state of disrepair...enjoy!
Actually summer rain, we mostly get wind in the spring in NM [2011]
Spring Pools by Robert Frost
These pools that, though in forests, still reflect
The total sky almost without defect,
And like the flowers beside them, chill and shiver,
Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone,
And yet not out by any brook or river,
But up by roots to bring dark foliage on.
The trees that have it in their pent-up buds
To darken nature and be summer woods --
Let them think twice before they use their powers
To blot out and drink up and sweep away
These flowery waters and these watery flowers
From snow that melted only yesterday.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Teachers, Evaluating Teachers and Schools, and Institutions

Here is an article about teachers taking to the street in Mexico about these same issues of evaluation.  Interesting that the issue comes up without much critical analysis within the first few paragraphs.  But, the LA Times has pretty much proclaimed to be anti-teacher (they might argue anti-teacher union, but on the face of their work, it is anti-teacher) -- at least, their expose, depending on scores and not any other objective measure, outed teachers as "failures" without really dissecting the issue.  It saddens me to write this because the Los Angeles Times is frequently one of my favorite sources of information -- even so, their work (like any journalism) should never be taken uncritically.

This is an interview with Michelle Rhee ... so you can get from her own words what she thinks she is doing.

The American Indian Charter School is being threatened with closure due to financial improprieties... even though the school has consistently delivered high scores on California's measure of schools.  I am not sure how to feel about it, really, because it seems that NCLB by definition is by any means necessary.  So, they did whatever they wanted, but they got the results that the state and the feds wanted... which is more important?

The federal appeals court thinks it is okay to outlaw affirmative action in California's public universities... and a group of conservative academics are taking whacks at "liberal" education, again.  Their website, particularly the "get involved" page, is quite sobering and frightening.
****UPDATE ... tooling around elsewhere (yes, when I should have been writing), I found this article about a conservative academic that does research on the impact of liberal professors on their students ... and the surprise he found when he actually did research, rather than having people troll around the internet for ammunition.  Fascinating ... I am guessing the guys over at National Association of Scholars (or their California affiliate) didn't bother to see if there was any empirical data to back up their claims before they issued their report.  Hmmm....

Monday, April 02, 2012

Om Gems

When I should have been reading or writing this weekend, I caught up on my om reading ... and I identified these as the messages from the universe for me for March... hoping they will inspire a productive and energized April.

Every movement in the universe is a movement toward love. This is true even in situations that appear on the surface to be the opposite of loving. ... As we find ways we can serve, our fear dissipates.
DailyOm 3-29-2012

We attract support into our lives when we are willing to make those first tentative steps, trusting that the universe will provide exactly what we need. In that process we can decide that whatever comes from our actions is only for our highest and best experience of growth. It may come in the form of a soft landing, an unexpected rescue or an eye-opening experience gleaned only from the process of falling. So rather than allowing our lives to be dictated by fear of the unknown, or trying to avoid falling, we can appreciate that sometimes we experience life fully when we are willing to trust and fall. And in doing so, we may just find that we have the wings to fly.
DailyOm 3-21-2012

We carry within us everything we need to know to make progress on our paths to self-realization. The outer world serves as a mirror. Or to use another metaphor, our inner world has a magnetic force that draws to us what we need to evolve to the next level. All we need to do to see that we already have everything we need is to let go of our belief that we need to seek in order to find. ...
So when we find ourselves on our path, not knowing which way to turn and wishing for guidance, we can turn to ourselves. We may not know the right answer rationally or intellectually, but if we simply ask, let go, and wait patiently, an answer will come.
DailyOm 3-23-2012

We can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness precisely because both are elements of the self and both have a role to play in the complexity of existence.

Balance is the key that unlocks the door of peaceable coexistence where opposing characteristics of the self are concerned. ... Our inner warriors are ready to react instantly to conflict, chaos, and confusion, while nonetheless remaining committed to a path of goodwill and fairness. They lie at the root of our dedication to integrity but do not drive us to use our strength to coerce others into adopting our values.
DailyOm 3-9-2012