Sunday, March 30, 2008

my life imitating an rei catalog

Sometimes, in life, you turn a page, like when you watch a movie or read a book or make a new friend that creates a spark.

Other times, you begin a new chapter. A child is born. You get a new job. A marriage.

Sometimes, however, a change is so dramatic that it's as if you were closing one book and opening up the next one in the series. These aren't necessarily the "big" moments or the traditional rites of passage. But they are the ones that shift your perspective and create a whole new way of being in the world........

For the first time in Spengler family history, we loaded FOUR mountain bikes onto the Blazer! For those of you who think that's just a page, think again. This is monumental. A whole new world. A new book. Let it be known that my boys, on their very first true mountain biking experience, went up and down shit I had to stop for. Oh my.....

Yeah, we were simply one of many. One of the loaded down SUV's headed out to the desert for Spring Break. Yeah, we burned a whole lotta oil to get there. And yeah, we feel insanely guilty about it. And yeah, we had a really great time.

Nightmare necklaces made by the Navajo:

Newspaper Rock:

North Window:

You know, you can't really capture the essence of Canyonlands NP or Arches NP in a photo. At least I can't. But the first time you walk under one of those arches, something begs you to lie down on your back and look up. Only from the most vulnerable position can you truly get a glimpse of the greatness.

Arches is a place full of sexual imagery like no other I have ever seen. Or maybe it was just me. There were penises and breasts and pregnant women and vaginas and all manner of earthly delights. I desperately want to go backpacking and lose myself in this wildness for a few days......

In a moment of insanity, I thought I could ride up something that truly was not within my realm of ability:

Bennett and I conspired to tell Grant that a mountain lion had attacked me, and that Bennett had scared it off and saved my life. The look of panic on Grant's face for all of three seconds before he realized it was a joke was priceless.

I guess this photo pretty much sums it up:

Yeah, it's like that. In the desert. In springtime.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

but will he resurrect in three days?

The boys wanted a reasonable answer as to why the Easter Bunny didn't find us in Leadville.

No, I didn't give them this one.

Today, I ran into an old friend at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs. We picked up where we had left off.
While looking up from my riverside pool of bliss, I saw a man that looked just like the quintessential Jesus... long brown wavy hair, beard, white robe (oh, wait, maybe that was a terrorist?.....)

I pointed Jesus out to my friend and she quipped, without missing a beat, "Well, it figures, it IS Easter."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

hanging by a thread

I kneel,
Delicately separating
That which needs to be thrown in from
That which needs to be hung out.
Imperceptibly, without warning-
Because there’s no reason
Except piles of dirty laundry and a washing machine with too many choices

A spiraling black vortex carries me backwards
To the time before consequences,
My child-self sound asleep in pink gingham.
I kneel,
Invisible beside my mother and watch
Her hands, younger even than my own
Deliberately placing my cotton panties into drawers she
Knows by heart.
She moves so slowly, stops, stares into the darkness-
Because there’s no reason
Except a lost childhood and a dresser full of broken dreams.
When all the work is done, my ghost joins her for a smoke on the porch
And we exhale hidden sorrows for the stars and the moon

I spiral up with the wisp and find myself next to a woman I have only
Seen in sepia,
Drowning her only daughter’s one dress in the washtub
Scrubbing violently on the washboard as the sun is setting over the hill.
She looks up vacantly-
Because there’s no reason
Except that it will be the same tomorrow and the day after that

She remembers the sea green room where bland food was served with
Those little white pills
And they let you smoke
With whomever you chose

And somebody else did your laundry

[June 2007]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

i love oregon, part III

Gatke Hall, home of the MAT program.
Willamette University
Salem, Oregon

The excuse I used to take a mini-vacation to Oregon was that there was an MAT reunion at Willamette University, where I received my Master of Arts in Teaching degree in 1992. Two of my favorite and most influential professors were going to be there. I wanted to look them in the eyes and say, "Thank you." Not simply for their instruction, but for creating an exceptional program that turned out not just teachers, but thoughtful, intelligent, creative leaders.

The first, John Tenny, made me buy my first computer in 1991. It was one of the requirements of the program. He insisted on a Macintosh LC. I remember that all the elementary schools still had Apple IIe's at that time. I borrowed $4,000 from the Federal Government Student Loan Program to purchase it! I thought my mother would die.

John was a rare bird. We thought it strange that this "old guy" (when you're 24, anyone over 30 seems ancient) was not only embracing computers, but evangelizing about them. Sometimes we thought he was a bit nuts, but his enthusiasm, combined with our discoveries of what was possible, ultimately won us over. We were using lesson plan templates, a grading program, and learning to make spreadsheets and data graphs (in color!) long before any of our contemporaries. Oh my did we MAT students ever impress our cooperating teachers!

John Tenny saw the future. And although his prediction that Macintosh would forever rule the world of education eventually came to an end, his vision of the potential of the computer to connect people would serve us well into the world of email and blogging. Yet with all his love of technology, one of his favorite phrases, and one I always remember in a crisis, was "There's a low-tech answer to every high-tech question."

The other, Rich Biffle, taught Classroom Management. It wasn't about discipline, but about how to arrange desks, distribute materials, build a community of learners, and then, if need be, deal proactively with any issues that might arise. He reminded us every day that our calling was noble and sacred.

Rich taught with a style and grace and compassion I had never before encountered in a college professor. I still repeat two of his oft-spoken mantras to anyone who I think might appreciate them. The first and most important thing he preached was that we could do anything we wanted within our four walls as long as we learned how to "finesse the system". This phrase has lived in my radical teacher soul for the past 15 years, and served me well on in so many instances. The second phrase, still so timely, is this: "There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals." Yeah, think about it. For awhile.

I was one of the last ones remaining after the luncheon, talking with them about old times and new ventures.

John is developing new software for educators.
Rich is teaching at the University of Hilo in Hawaii.

After saying thank you and before saying good-bye, I asked if they would be so kind as to take a picture with me. I fished my camera out of my bag, turned it on, and the blue screen read "battery empty" and the damn thing beeped the most horrendous ear-shattering beep. I wanted to cry. Luckily, there was another couple still milling about who had a camera and were taking photos, so I asked them if they would please, please, please take a photo and email it to me. It arrived in my inbox today.

Good teachers, I mean really good teachers, stay with us forever. My husband and I have both had the experience of students who have contacted us from their futures to express some sort of gratitude. It's usually for something so simple and forgotten as placing a book in a hand or sowing the seed of an idea. If you know one of those teachers, please hunt them down and tell them a story. Say thank you. Let them know it mattered.

And you don't need a $4,000 computer to do it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

how good a whore are you?

bedroom toys
Powered By Rabbit Vibrators
Take the quiz and let me know. The questions are far less esoteric than the book quiz, so try and be honest.

A true whore has a mystic understanding of Power. She knows men for what they are: pathetic, cowardly, needy beings who may wield power in the big big world, but are helpless little boys inside. She listens attentively. She understands, or at least she pretends to.  She laughs at jokes. She flirts. She strokes egos as well as cocks. True men understand and worship her Power; they are not afraid to admit their unworthiness and cowardliness before her. She views her art as healing, and sends men back into the world to be, perhaps, better husbands and fathers.

Perhaps my vision is romanticized or perverted, I really don't know.... if you think I'm high, by all means let me know.  But in all honesty, who among us would not love to find out how much we are worth per hour!? It's all a fun little game, this quiz, but there's a reason the whole story is so compelling..... it taps into something very profound that goes beyond morality and stupidity.

As for Mr. Spitzer, there's a special place in hell for hypocrites. I can only hope he sends a personal little apology to all the girls he's helped to lock up. I won't be holding my breath.

P.S. Guys - you can take the quiz, too.

i love oregon, part I

It was like fast forwarding time, and not just the hour. Weeks of winter simply disappeared into daffodils and apricot blossoms. Spent several hours lost inside Powell's before emerging into the rain and a lonely city bar crawl with an old friend I hadn't seen in 12 years. Bicycles everywhere. People talk to strangers here-now I know where I learned that trait.

i love oregon, part II

When I lived in Salem, this house belonged to "The Lost Boys". I was in love with one of them. Now it is the home of Janet and John Roy and sometimes Jesse. It's still a place where lost souls can come and always find a place at the table. Or in the garden. They won't serve you a drink, and that's just fine.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

don't we all......

I was driving Grant and Bennett over to their friends' house early Friday morning, since there was no school and I was catching a plane to Oregon in just a few hours. Grant has always had a way of quoting things he's heard or read that's rather eerie. (Not like a child with Aspergers or Autism, mind you, but still eerie).

Me, I don't remember squat; not even really good jokes. I listened to the whole joke show on A Prairie Home Companion last weekend. Couldn't tell you a single one. Ok, maybe one. This one:

I was depressed last night so I called Lifeline and got a call center in Pakistan. I told them I was suicidal. They got all excited and asked if I could drive a truck.

(See, the ones I remember aren't really even the funny ones, just the sick ones!)

Back to the backseat of the car now, where Grant starts quoting Pirates of the Caribbean. "But this one's my favorite...." he says, and he gets all mystic and reverential before he recites, "It's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that's what a ship needs, but what a ship is... what the Black Pearl really is... is freedom." Then a long dramatic pause. And a sigh. And then....

"I want to live like that."

I came out of my self-absorbed driving mode, slowed down, turned around, looked him in the eye and said, "Don't we all, buddy, don't we all."

Thursday, March 6, 2008

the ultimate peep show

This was the best thing in my Inbox today.

Thanks for the laugh, Jana..... passing it on.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

tpp as the sun rises on the hagia sophia

I'm drowning in the middle of my own TPP at the moment. That's "Total Pity Party" for the uninitiated.

I just found out today, after several emails and phone calls, that our much-anticipated summer travel adventure to Turkey is NOT going to happen because some incompetent secretarial schmo didn't send us an application form for the teacher-diplomat program for which John was supposedly a shoe-in!

That's all.

Here's a lovely photo of what I will NOT be seeing this summer:

unless I can get it together and plan the trip myself.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

one virgen's lament x3

Remember, girl-
When we painted each other’s newly-ripened nearly-seventh grade nipples
With Breezy’s brushes
And Rainbow’s colors
In teepees, protected by
The spirits of gynomundo and the footprints of faeries?

Remember, girl-
When you and I would,
Naked and laughing,
Tickle each other’s backs with folklore rhymes
Of applesauce and morse code,
Discovering our power by raising tiny goosebumps
Out of frigid flesh?

Remember, girl-
When we maintained absolute belief in the power of a creed
Girls Life Long Bounce Back Insurance
Permanent ink in the palms of our hands
An invisible veil of protection from the boys
Who would intrude?

Remember, girl-
For the ink will wear away.