Thursday, November 29, 2007

the joy of bowling

Tonight, I witnessed the true meaning of the common phrase:
"pure unadulterated joy"

My friend's son turned 10 today. Double-digits. We went bowling. A simple, very American pastime, like stock car racing, the sort the "elite" are wont to denigrate. Seven boys, four moms, one dad, and a bowling alley full of fascinating characters (I wanted to take photos of them all). The crashing-rolling-echoing din of the place would make any mildly autistic person (like myself) insane.

Their bowling names: Dragon, Soup, Smoker, Sarge, Grendl, Mouse, and Jaguar.

At one point they were all chanting in unison, "Soup, Soup, Soup, Soup!" It was spontaneous and beautiful. And when Soup made a spare, you'd have thought they had all won the lottery, there was such merry-making and high-fiving and back-slapping. It occurred to me then, while watching them together, seemingly on the same team, unconcerned with scores, celebrating each fallen pin together..... it occurred to me that I was happy watching them be happy.

"Why did you choose to have kids?" a friend once asked me. "They give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning," I replied. It's that simple, really. They keep us from giving in to our Selves. Yet sometimes, when we are completely unaware, they give us a glimpse of a world without terror or global warming or divorce. It may be a lie, but at least there is merriment. If only for a moment.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

the age of reason

Today, Bennett is seven. The age of reason has arrived.

Although I am not Catholic, I find this fascinating....
(from Wikipedia):
The age of reason, also called the age of discretion, is the age at which children become capable of moral responsibility. On completion of the seventh year a minor is presumed to have the use of reason (canon 97 §2 of the Code of Canon Law), but mental retardation or insanity could prevent some individuals from ever reaching it. Children under the age of reason and the mentally handicapped are sometimes called "innocents" because of their inability to commit sins: even if their actions are objectively sinful, they lack capacity for subjective guilt.

With each significant age, the world as we know it widens, and our place in it becomes so much more circumspect. We travel around ourselves with a constantly expanding orbit, encounter other life forms along the way, and struggle to integrate our orbit into the whole of the universe.

At the age of seven, the world (though still black and white) truly opens up for the first time. A child who has reached the age of reason is now able to see "the other", and realize that his actions have consequences. We, the grown-ups, seem to think they have this knowledge before they do, and in many small ways, we take their innocence from them.

Today, Bennett is seven. His world will never be small again. This evening we looked at photo albums from when he was born and we talked about the umbilical cord that held us together for nine months. Later, sitting on my lap on the living room floor, he said, "Today wouldn't be my birthday if you weren't here."

I love you, Bennett Buddy Boo.

Friday, November 23, 2007

i want to start.....

a blog dedicated solely to photos of people's bookshelves. The bookshelf of the living room and the bookshelf of the bedroom can differ significantly. Some of the books we cherish have been read; others sit waiting for something - the right time, or perhaps, simply, the time. A bookshelf displays only a slight sliver of time, and allows the observer a few inferences about us. It reveals both the content and the structure of our lives simultaneously. What we think. How we organize, if at all. Haphazard attempts at genre or author categorization, but ultimately hopeless as books get read, moved, purchased, loaned, returned, rearranged. It may seem permanent and timeless, but unless you are a stagnant human, your library has mutated over the course of your lifetime. People change. So do their bookshelves.

These would be my rules:
Rule # 1: You can submit up to 3 photos.
Rule #2: I will publish all that you send me. I will neither censor nor judge.
Rule #3: No prearranging of bookshelves allowed.
Rule #4: I trust that you will not prearrange, because to doubt you would be foolish and completely unprovable.
Rule #5. I can change the rules at any time.
Rule #6. You may write some sort of explanation or description about your bookshelf, in prose or in poetry if you so desire.
Rule #7. (because I like sevens, remember?). I will publish photos anonymously, with a name, or with a link to your blog/website. The choice is yours. You may remain as transparent or as obscure as you wish.

Until this bookshelf blog gets started (can't you see me filing it away with all the other unfinished projects?), here are three of my own photos. I followed all my rules. I am a good rule-follower. Sometimes.

If you want to email ( me up to three of yours, I will create a new blog to share them....

At least tell me what you think of the idea. I know anyone can post a photo of their bookshelf on their own blog, but wouldn't it be fun (or am I just perverted?) to have a space where you could just go and browse one stranger's bookshelf after another?

Oh god, I probably should do my research first! There may be something quite like this, already. And maybe you've heard of it. And maybe it's famous. I'm going to go have a look.......

Well, here's what I found: a little something to get you started. And completely lost.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

happy anniversary

a decade plus two gone behind us
i love you

zombie love.... interpretations welcome

Last night I dreamed I loved a zombie.....the details are sketchy, but I am trying to recreate the images in my mind as I type....

A man died. He was buried. I dug him up and placed him in a device that held him lying face down, yet suspended about four feet off the ground. Like one of those massage tables, but it was a homemade wooden contraption that could have been an instrument of torture if the person in it were alive. His arms dangled down.

We were in a daycare center, and the little children, ages 3-6 or so, were attempting to climb under, over, and on the dead man. I tried in vain to keep them off, horrified as they played with his limp bloody arms under the table, and reached out to touch his rotting feet. I lay underneath him and looked up at his disfigured face, defending the defenseless.

Later, he was sitting up in a chair, and when I looked over at him, he reminded me of the time I was in Zunil, Guatemala, in a dark room with an effigy of San Simon and all the colorfully-dressed locals around offering him cigars and whiskey in a room full of lighted candles. Suddenly I knew there was some life left in him. I watched and waited. The pesky pre-schoolers were gone. Soon, one eye opened, then another, and he looked at me.

I knew he had returned from the dead to be with me forever. I watched as he stretched his limbs, and I crawled up to recline beside him. He was bigger than a normal man, like the size I imagine Frankenstein's creature to be - human, but just on a larger, grotesquer scale. We snuggled on the chair, and I wrapped my left arm over his chest, feeling for the heartbeat that had returned. He took my hand and moved it to his crotch, and I felt the warmth and life there also, as if he needed that sensation to prove to himself that he was, indeed, alive. The thought of a zombie's penis kind of creeped me out, like it was delicate and might fall off if I handled it too aggressively. I removed my hand, put my head on his chest, and wanted to sleep. He never said a word. Neither did I.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

seven more things

Today, instead of feeling grateful, I'm pondering all the things I am NOT, and wish that I were. I'm sick of all the "be proud of who you are" rhetoric. Maybe I've been watching too many Disney movies or something, but we can't all be the self-possessed hero. I just want a moment to wallow. Thanks.

Sometimes I wish.......

1. that I liked mussels and mushrooms instead of mac&cheese and milk.
2. being late didn't make me anxious.
3. the fear of feeling left out would leave me.
4. an idea for a really great story would just pop into my head.
5. that I wasn't so attached to this world-that I could take everything less seriously.
6. that I could recognize a D or a C# or an F when I heard it.
7. crying wasn't such an automatic response - it would be so nice sometimes to have a harder shell.

Monday, November 12, 2007

seven things

In the interest of cultivating a spirit of gratefulness, here is my offering of things for which I am grateful. I happen to like packages that come in sevens.

1. a buck was seen in our backyard last night by my neighbor at 3 am. he said it was magnificent, the biggest he's ever seen, and he watched as the buck jumped over our fence and ran across the street to the park.
2. the old rusty fence is low enough to let in a buck and to not cut us off from our neighbors (though sometimes i do wish for a little more privacy).
3. i organized the boys' multitude of toys into a manageable collection. piles into the trash and piles to give away. how do we accumulate so much crap?!
4. my boys have a multitude of toys
5. a hawk (don't ask me what species) flew through our yard today and perched for awhile on a nearby lamp post
6. i am flying the flag on this veterans' holiday. it belongs to all americans, not just the uber-patriotic war mongering ignorant ones. me: "do you know what a veteran is?" bennett: "it's someone who makes it so we have a day off of school."
7. i can choose NOT to fly the flag, if i so wish.

and are you grateful? and what for? and why does it matter?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

this changes everything

I've done a lot of cool things in 16 years of teaching.....

I've been the "Curator of Egyptology" and created a museum of 6th grade projects in the library, amidst cries of "You can't do that-the kids will just destroy them...." blah, blah, blah... Would I be lying if I said that the pre-teens were so amazed by the pyramids and mummies and Anubis clay statues that they kept their grubby paws off them, nothing broke, and there was no graffiti? Certainly. But it was minimal. A scribble here, a decapitated clay figure there. Nothing more. And the benefits far outweighed the risks.

I've strolled somberly through the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. with 8th graders, their eyes wide open and their hearts full of compassion. The mysteries of human evil being revealed to them in both the past and the present.

I've directed middle schoolers in Orpheus and Eurydice and Blame it on the Wolf and A Mid-Summer Night's Dream.

I've struggled day in and day out to try and create a few more literate human beings in the world; not just ones who CAN read, but ones who WANT to read.

But this is the coolest thing I have ever done, amidst the cries of, "Well, I'm not sure you can do that..... what if? ...." blah, blah, blah. I feel like I did 12 years ago when setting up the Egyptian Museum - up against the forces of fear who cannot see that the power to transform lives involves taking a risk.

It is better to ask forgiveness than permission.

Anyway, if you want to see what I'm blabbering on about, please visit:

Freedom of Voice


The Beginning Writers

and be sure to leave a comment.