Monday, November 30, 2009

it was my big art show opening
the one with my published painted poems
multi-fonted gargantuan words filled the space
mine, yes
but not poems
just blog bits picked by a stranger
fraudly hung on four walls
faces i have loved
sketched by one i love
you were there
in black and white
with no words
and in the gift shop
a calendar of photos
mine, yes
but not the ones i would have chosen

Sunday, November 29, 2009

this i believe

It is not enough to teach a man a specialty. Through it he may become a kind of useful machine but not a harmoniously developed personality. It is essential that the student acquire an understanding of and a lively feeling for values. He must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and of the morally good. Otherwise he - with his specialized knowledge - more closely resembles a well-trained dog than a harmoniously developed person. He must learn to understand the motives of human beings, their illusions and their sufferings, in order to acquire a proper relationship to individual fellow men and to the community.

These precious things are conveyed to the younger generation through personal contact with those who teach, not - or at least not in the main - through textbooks. It is this that primarily constitutes and preserves culture. This is what I have in mind when I recommend the 'humanities' as important, not just dry specialized knowledge in the fields of history and philosophy.

Overemphasis on the competitive system and premature specialization on the ground of immediate usefulness kill the spirit on which all cultural life depends, specialized knowledge included.

It is also vital to a valuable education that independent critical thinking be developed in the young human being, a development that is greatly jeopardized by overburdening him with too much and with too varied subjects (point system). Overburdening necessarily leads to superficiality. Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty.

—Albert Einstein, "Education for Independent Thought"
New York Times, Oct. 5, 1952

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

meet the new boss....

worse than the old boss
the unlistening powerful
think they can change everything at once
anger has to go somewhere
neighbors will wonder
who smashed the squashes
bruised head
from brick wall
tired, so tired

Monday, November 23, 2009

love haiku

love in the same place
not unexpected but still
surprised to find it

Sunday, November 22, 2009

fake fist fight

These were taken awhile back. A long while back. When Grant still had braces.
All punches and photos courtesy of Bennett A. Spengler.

Friday, November 20, 2009

growing up is hard to do

I left my 10-year old son home alone (his brother was spending the night with a friend) for about half an hour today while my friend Elise drove me to my car. For the second Friday in a row, I had managed to lock my keys in the car. For the second Friday in a row, a friend bailed me out. Never mind the hows and the whys.

Before leaving the house, I hugged him quickly, told him to practice piano while I was gone, and of course, as always, no computer. He's a good kid. I trust him. I know it is impossible for him to lie to me. He wears guilt on his face like a caricature.

But today, I heard it in his voice. After successfully retrieving my car, and feeling a newfound sense of optimism, I called to check in with Grant.

- Hey, kiddo, I just called to tell you I'm on my way home.
- Ok. Did you get the car?
- Yep. I think I'll stop by Boriello's on the way home and get us a pizza to have during the movie.
- I'd rather have Blackjack.
- Well, I'd like Boriellos's.
- Oh, well.... I guess that's ok with me. Hey, will you call me when you get there?
- Sure, Bug. Talk to you in a little bit.
- Ok, Mom. Bye!
- Bye.

Suddenly, I just knew. The way a witch knows it's Samhain. The way my grandmother knew my father. The way you know without my insulting insertion of italicized adjectives or adverbs.

I've done this before: known things. Mostly with rather exhausting consequences. But this time, it's my own child, and it feels vastly different. I am in control. I know exactly what to do.

Dial up Blackjack. Drive straight home. Don't call.

And then there's that moment when you realize that you're no longer Sally in The Cat in the Hat. You're the mother. And you want the ending to be very, very different.

He intercepted me in the only-area-in-our-westside-bungalow-that-could-vaguely-be-called-a hallway with a hug. The kind of hug that says, "Hi Mom! I'm so glad you're home," while muttering, "Oh, please, please, stop right here... please don't go any further..."

I peered over his head, into the dusk-tinted living room, to the top of the bookcase where my MacBook should be. It wasn't. In the sternest, yet calmest voice I think I have ever managed, I asked, "So, where's my computer?" He hung his head, and stepped aside. I walked straight through the living room towards the faint bluish glow of radiation, reflected on the beige carpet, the orange walls and the back of the recliner. I picked up my computer, returned it to the bookshelf, and said, "Get your shoes on and get in the car."
"Where are we going?"
"Don't ask. Just do it."

I've never seen him move so quickly to comply with an order. On the short drive to pick up our pizza, I asked him why. His pure and heartfelt confession came spilling over to me in the dark from the back seat.

Through sobs and sniffles, he related to me how his desire to play Battle for Wesnoth had led him to "disobey" me. After his story, I really wanted to say something about him not taking responsibility for his own actions! But I couldn't.

I understood.

We talked about addiction, about feeling out of control, about how awful it feels, about solutions. It's so much less threatening for a boy to talk to his mama from the back seat of a car, I think. I let him know the consequences would come later. I actually think I heard him say something like, "Yes, Mom."

He understood.

I made him give the man behind the counter our name. I made him carry the pizza. I didn't open the car door for him when he asked for my help. Once we were home and safely inside the kitchen, I looked him square in the face and said, "Here's the deal. No staying home alone for awhile; everywhere I go, you are going with me. No computer all weekend. On Monday, you can use the computer, but no Battle for Wesnoth until a date that you decide on, and I agree to. Got that?"
"Good, now repeat it to me."

Which he did, accurately, to the very last word, while successfully interchanging the i's and you's. Without prompting, he went straight to his own calendar (we hung it up just a week ago), came back, and said, "January 15th. Is that ok?" I said I thought it was perfect.

- One last question, Bug.
- What?
- Do you want to tell Dad?
- Not right now.
- Ok. He'll be home in a few minutes. Let's make it like a party in here!

After that, I didn't need to tell him a thing. He put the pizza in the oven, and set the oven to 250. He put his shoes and coat away. He cleaned off the coffee table (no small feat) and laid out 3 plates. With napkins! John arrived home. Grant gave him a big hug, and asked him what he wanted to drink. After he had poured the juice and set the pizza on the coffee table, he asked us each what kind we wanted, and served it up.

The Two Towers began, the three of us snuggled up on the couch together.

It was, perhaps, an over-eager and childish attempt at atonement. Yet it was also natural and beautiful and mature. We crossed into new territory today. I can't believe I get the privilege of watching my son grow into a man.

can i write about love yet?

Yes. Yes, you can.

in the end
we shall turn back and see:

an integral dna strand
a loving double helix
a nonentity
for such a short,

the art of her and her husband, Jeanne-Claude said, expressed “ the quality of love and tenderness that we human beings have for what does not last.”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

back to the blog

I've been away for awhile.
It's good to be back.
I'll write more later.