Monday Earworm: “Weird Al” Yankovic

If you know me, you can make up your own introduction for this song.

 

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Witchy Weekends: I Wish…

When I was a child watching the Saturday morning animated special movies for kids every weekend…

Okay, so you’re probably either groaning because you remember those or groaning because you’re conflating them with After-School Specials.

Seriously, though, sometimes those animated shows on the weekends were kind of cool. But the only one I really remember now was called maybe “My Teacher Is A Witch” or something similarly creative, and it was about a class of kids who got a new teacher one day whom they believed was a real witch. What tipped them off? The day she erased a really full blackboard full of chalk with a single swipe of her arm.

And I know it was just a cartoon and life doesn’t really work that way, but I cannot tell you how often, especially since becoming a teacher, I’ve wished that it did. I could really, really use that kind of speed and efficiency during the school year.

Especially this weekend, when I’m mired in grading and comments (two-paragraph narratives I write for the report card of every student in every one of my classes to discuss each student’s individual progress). But I don’t have that power, so this anecdote is about as substantive as my blog is going to get at the moment.

But here, to tide you over, have this lovely picture.

Monday Earworm: Rush

I love this song. I think I might actually like the studio version better than this live one, but this live one is still pretty great.

My relationship with Rush is tangential and hardly worth fangirl status. Several of my friends in college loved them, and so I started listening to them as well, and while I’m hardly well versed in their entire discography, I’m not sure I’ve ever met a song of theirs I didn’t like. Concept albums really appeal to me as well, so there’s that.

This song always reminds me of my students, especially my seniors, whose potential stretches out before them like an ocean. It also, oddly, reminds me of Justin Trudeau. Not really sure why. Maybe because he’s making a very good case for being the leader of the free world now that the U.S. has clearly relinquished that position? (And sorry, Angela Merkel, you’re otherwise kind of awesome, but no one who doesn’t support same-sex marriage can be the leader of the free world in the 21st Century, so.)

Okay, political rant over. Please to enjoy.

 

Poem-A-Day: Elizabeth Sewell

I’ve always been struck by the fact that the name we use for someone who suffers mightily, unjustly, and beyond all sense or reason is the same name for the work we do in order to earn payment that we might gainfully live.

I teach, and sometimes — like around this time of year — the beckoning breath of a break — in this case, summer — magnifies the stress of the workload I and most of my colleagues are laboring under. I’m lucky in that my administrators understand that “every ask is still an ask,” but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a basketful of asks awaiting each of us — teachers, students, and administrators alike — around every turn. The weight of it is like stones piling on my chest, and like old Giles Corey, I keep coming back.

Case in point: here is my current grading stack.

This giant mug holds 20 ounces of tea and is nearly the size of my face. You know, for reference.

 

And here is an ekphrastic poem by Elizabeth Sewell. Note the rhyme scheme and rhythm, how they mimic orderliness, how they taunt. You know, like the act of grading papers.

Persist, my friends, persist.

***

 

Poem-A-Day: e.e. cummings

I don’t remember whether I’ve posted this poem before, but even if I have, I don’t care. It’s one of my absolute all-time favorites, “Me up at does” by e.e. cummings. It would be redundant to say that cummings plays with language conventions in ways that are conspicuous and interesting. So did Emily Dickinson, whose work I also love. (So does Marie Marshall — but more on her poetry tomorrow.)

“Me up at does” is one of those poems that I like to splash up on the board in class when we’ve got fifteen or twenty minutes to fill and want to do a little analysis work that can be contained and stretchy and fun, and that can make my high school students feel perhaps a little more accomplished after they’ve done it. (If anyone wants the lesson plan for this assignment, let me know.)

***

Me up at does

 

Me up at does

out of the floor
quietly Stare

a poisoned mouse

still who alive

is asking What
have i done that

You wouldn’t have

 

 

Thanksgiving 2016

Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday.

Worn-out Wednesday. (Okay, I might have made that one up.)

It’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? Yet sometimes the banality of life’s daily routine can shock us out of our paralysis.

Even in a year which I will be glad to see the end of, I have more than enough to be thankful for, and I am. I hold those things in my heart when I could easily rail against the unfairness of the world, the moral decrepitude of society, the crumbling state of…well, basically lots of things, including our environment, both literal and figurative.

I had been hoping to make this post on Facebook on November 9th:

30 Days of Gratitude: I’m standing here, with my daughter, in a field of broken glass, staring at the beautiful sky. There is no limit.

But that’s not a post I had the opportunity to make, no matter how many days, weeks, months, years I’d been looking forward to its being a reality.

I reminded my students, when they came to me that day seeking guidance, that culture is not always top-down. It also radiates outward from each person’s choices. It rises from the ground up when we lay its foundation through our actions and voices.

Our school adheres to four core values: honesty, respect, responsibility, and kindness. And even when we don’t see these values modeled for us in the public sphere — and oh, my goodness, we don’t see them there nearly enough — we have the ability to be honest and respectful and responsible and kind. We have countless opportunities every day to choose to adhere to those values, and we must.

If we treat others in every daily interaction, be it in person or online, with those four values, and if we do it consistently, then we can and will change the toxic culture around us.

It will radiate outward.

It will rise from the ground up.

It will shatter what holds us down.