Thursday, November 20, 2008

Throwing a bottle (That's what they call hitchhiking in Cuba)

Its been awhile since I rode my bike to work, but that's because my local bike shop took forever to get my wheels rebuilt. But I finally got it back and was able to ride today. I knew that either I would forget something or something would go wrong, I just wasn't sure what.

So there I was, riding my normal route amongst the cows, strawberries and gigantic trucks sufficiently in the middle of nowhere, and I got a flat tire. This is normally not a problem, but today I didnt have any sort of tire changing equipment, so I tried to use the back of my pump, and lo and behold, I broke it. So not only could I not change my tire, I couldn't pump up the original.

I was about 20 minutes from school over a big hill, so I called my colleague who drives the same way. I left a message and called him again and again; he already thinks I'm weird, so this morning bombardment of calls probably didnt help.

He didn't answer. I thought, "shit" what do I do? i guess my principal could come get me, but that's probably not the best solution. I ended up calling him too, but noone answered, so I decided to hitchhike. I did it in central America and Alaska, why not Prunedale. I put out my thumb for awhile and noone even slowed down except to give me a funny look. So I waited, and waited. And then, flying around the corner comes my fellow teacher, Carlos, or C-lo as I like to call him (not really).

He skids up to me looks at me as if I've lost my mind. He throws his hands up in the air and I throw my bike in his truck and get in. He tells me, what are you doing. I said, hitchhiking, what does it look like.

So as we sorted things out, it turns out that his phone was turned off and he had no idea that I called, he just thought I was some wahoo trying to get a free ride, but he recognized my bike and stopped.

So I made it to work, fixed my bike and had a nice ride home. That was quite a morning though.

listening to Britney spears "womanizer" (not really)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


<-- a little Photoshop fun

A few weeks ago, I kindof decided that I wouldn't be following the CAHSEE curriculum as closely as I had been told to do. Aside from scoffing at the idea of teaching to a standardized test, I also found that there was no way I could conduct or control a class if the kids were lambasted with boring-state-mandated materials.

So I started peeling short stories from my previous years teaching and from my college readings that left an impression on me. We read "Lamb to the Slaughter" about a woman who kills her husband with a lamb leg, "The somebody" about a kid from east LA who finds that tagging his name all over his neighborhood made him feel like a somebody, and now we are reading, "Greasy Lake." I've been choosing these stories for their themes and connectedness to my students.

While reading, "Greasy Lake" to them, while describing a brutal fight, drug exploration, and a potential rape scene, I began to question myself. I don'd like censorship, and I like hard-hitting stories that really get my students into them and that they can relate to, but I wonder, even with deep discussion and analysis--will they really get the positive messages out of the stories?

I cound read to the class for 45 minutes and the F bomb or "marijuana" would be mentioned once and they wouldnt be able to tell me anything about the story except that the main character smoked pot.

I believe in challenging the traditional notions of the classroom but I also want to support the understanding of difficult situations in literature and life and I may not be always getting through. I guess all I can do is try.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Two important links

I realize I have been quite political lately, but our lives are inherently political so here are two people saying things better than I could:

Keith Obermann on Prop 8 (powerful words):

Alice Walker in an open letter to a new president:

An Open Letter to Barack Obama

Alice Walker on expectations, responsibilities and a new reality that is almost more than the heart can bear.

AFP/Getty Images
Type Size


Nov. 5, 2008

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner." There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We did it!!

I don't think I will soon forget the feeling that I felt when Obama was declared president of the US, and everyone in the restaurant I was in stood up and started clapping and screaming. A tear in Meghans eyes and overwhelming joy in mine. Yesterday was a day for the history books.

I heard it many times today on the radio: Not since Lincoln signed the emancipation proclomation has there been a more important day than today. It is not a day for speeches, or prose, it is a day for poetry.

I am overjoyed by our countries decision to elect Obama, but I am a bit frusterated that in a state that votes for chickens to have bigger cages a proposition was passed that will make it illegal for all people to get married. I hope very deeply that this unconstitutional proposition is rejected in the state courts.