March 24, 2016

Breaks Free and Demands

There should be something empowering about sitting at a blank screen pregnant with words and the ability to share them with any(every)one in the world with a push of a button. There should be something uncontrollably exciting about the ability to articulate the nameless whims that whisper in the corners of your mind. There should be a sense of urgency, agency and necessity when it comes to writing. We should feel the desperation of a sentence's need to be structured and layered and crafted. There should be a communal sense of joy by words scribed and words shared.

So many nights of road blocks and dead ends, when what I really need is the moment when the unspoken breaks free and demands to be read.

Two highlights from JRA on the last day of school before a two week spring break.

Some context- my kids have been working very hard for the last eight weeks. The grade sevens have been working on the art of argument and have written three extended pieces, as well as debating and participating in a symposium with adult guests. The grade eights, after reading a challenging text, have written three essays on theme, craft and a comparative essay.

The point- we are all very tired. So today we had time to relax and get ready for the break. We played Mafia in my grade eight class and then I let the kids chat, chill out and relax. After a few minutes of freedom the girls in the group formed a circle and were singing and dancing to Abba songs.

Then they switched to Bohemia Rhapsody. I was at my desk just snooping and checking email until I belted out the Mama line at full volume. They were so surprised and loved it.

It was a beautiful classroom moment.

The grade sevens still had to go to the library to check out holiday reading stacks, but I told them that when we got back we could either: 1.) Watch The Giver. 2.) Play Mafia 3.) Just chill out and socialise.

We trickled back into the classroom at the different times and when I entered our room, I noticed that a small group of kids had already returned and were quietly reading. I decided to see how long it would last. I picked up my book and sat on the carpet to read. The rest of the class entered quietly and started reading too. For thirty minutes we sat silently and read. I had given them the choice to do anything they wanted and they chose to read.

This class made my week. Made me feel like, I must be doing something right.

Went out for dinner. Had two drinks. It is 9:39pm. Enjoying a glass of red wine, blasting 1990’s era Sinead O' Conner acting as if I am at some crazy solo party.

“Everyone can see what's going on
They laugh `cause they know they're untouchable
Not because what I said was wrong
Whatever it may bring
I will live by my own policies
I will sleep with a clear conscience
I will sleep in peace”

I’m not sure if I could change a tire by myself. Even after twenty years I struggle to play bar chords without looking. I am still usually guessing where to put a comma. Whenever I make pancakes, which to be honest is rarely, they stick to the pan. I’m not confident on a skateboard. I can’t hit free throws and I rarely bowl over a 130. I rarely bring myself to dance, and I although I feel comfortable in the water, I am not confident with my stroke. I’m awkward on a potter’s wheel and what I see in my mind is never what I draw on a paper. I hate my writing voice and find it pedantic and simple. It has never been the voice I hear in my head. I can’t sing in key or keep a steady beat…

…but I still have lots of time to learn.

1 comment:

  1. Changing a tire is easy, and rewarding. I abhor bar chords, they hurt my hands. I've seen those videos of you singing with a beat, and people love it.

    I cannot sing Bohemian Rhapsody in front of anyone, much less kids, and the fact that you can do that makes up for all the other stuff.

    I love this writing you are doing.