November 30, 2016

Cabal of Cannibals and Lackeys

I woke up feeling good about today. I was up at six with Mairin and the kids, trying to stay out of her way as she got the kids ready and off to school for the millionth day in a row. The mood at our house is not particularly good these days. Everyone is tired and ready for the holiday. We are a routine trying to get to the end. I hobble around mostly trying to learn my new part, come to terms with my irrelevancy.


They were out the door and the house was still. My ankle hurt from the short time I was up and about, so I laid down a bit to give it rest. I knew I had a big day so I shut my eyes and woke up to my alarm at nine. Big day ahead:


I shaved, showered. Got dressed. Changed the sheets and took a cab to the hospital. It was the first time in a while since I was outside on my own. I was hoping for some good news from the doctor, but the news was very middle of the road- healing well. No infection. Good that I can put some weight on it, recommends another week to ten days of rest! A week to ten days?!?!


I haven’t seen, let alone talked to, another person besides Mairin in a week. I need to get out of this house. I arranged with people at work to do at least a half day tomorrow, just to see how it feels. The beauty is that I picked up a wicked little cold between those work emails and my sniffling, sneezing self right now. I may have to abort that mission in the morning. It’s a game time decision right now


My students made a super cute card for me which they gave to Kaia to bring home. Which was nice. Other than that, I might as well have disappeared. The world seems to function just fine without any input from me. This has been a good lesson is being realistic about ones real value. No one is irreplaceable and everyone is expendable. Not a bad lesson to learn. Takes the pressure off. Take a day. Two, hell take a whole week, the ship will sail on.


The rest of the day was McDonalds, Bojack Horseman and swimming while drowning down the Trump Twitter feed. That photo with him and Romney will haunt my dreams tonight. It is the epitome of American politics. I don’t know where his tiny little hands are in the picture, but I am sure under the table he is grabbing Mitt by the….What a bunch of jackals. They disgust me. This government will be a pit of vipers and thieves gouging on the flesh of the people they duped.


I feel sad for the rally crowds. They might not be smart enough to see it yet, but any day now they will realize that they have been run over by the very train that was meant to take them to the promise land. That train is moving so fast that they won’t even be able to pick up the scraps that the billionaires throw from the side. The rally crowds will be left chanting and lusting for blood. I just feel bad for the people of color living in their communities that will bare the brunt of their dissatisfaction and shame.


Ugly times ahead America. The orange prince is slurping down frog’s legs and scallops at Jeane George’s while Tweeting lie after lie, as he build his cabal of cannibals and lackeys. Goldman Sachs is there as they always as they chase the mighty dollar while the rest of struggle to stay free in the greatest democracy on earth.


I don’t know if this is the Thera-Flu talking or my cagey solitary brain, but I need some company and a good time. What a way to the end the year. Hope to see a few of you in the morning.

November 29, 2016

Long and Grey and Uneventful

Yesterday felt like a step, a hobbled one perhaps, but a step nonetheless in the right direction. I was feeling hopeful and ready to put the month of November and most of 2016 behind me.


Today? Not so much.


I never bathed. Never got out of my pyjamas. Woke up in a state of confusion well after 10am. Gave up quickly after trying to mark a few grade 6 stories. I got lost in the Twitter Trump-pit. (The dude is now RTing from the accounts of 16 year olds, and showing off his new hat.)

How are we going to survive as a nation without all wanting to tear our eyeballs out every few hours? The ugly American is real, he is everywhere and he is in charge of some pretty important shit.


I let it all get me down.
I tried to turn of the noise and focus on Bojack Horseman, but that only carried me so far.
The day was long and grey and uneventful. My ankle was throbbing, but I forced it to walk around the house a few times in silence.


I felt a heavy dense sense of shame and uselessness when Mairin and the kids got home. Is this what they mean when they say rest is good for you? Because I am ready to be back in the swing of things.


I am sorry for saying that I was tired.
I just want to be at the meetings and planning the lessons and shooting the shit at lunch time. I want to see the smiling faces of kids as I teach them things they could care less about.


Tomorrow is another day. Some big things happening: I will shave. I will shower and actually put on “outside” clothes. I will take a cab to the hospital and hopefully get the okay from the doctor for more mobility.

November 28, 2016

We Are Winning: Alone

I put some weight on my right ankle today and I have been able to walk about a little without my crutches. This feels like a miracle seeing that a few days ago, I couldn’t even think about adding any pressure to it.


I watched The Raiders win their ninth game of the season. It was closer than I would have liked in the end, but it was a W and I still can’t believe the season we are having. I can’t remember a time, ever in my life, when watching the Raiders has ever been so satisfying. We are good. We are winning and people are talking about how good we are and how we are winning. 9-2!


I got a bit of work done. I realized that I have a lot of marking to do. Marking I had forgotten about. Marking that would make sense for me to start doing tomorrow as I lay around in bed. Suddenly the rest that was so boring, feels so far away.


I had two extended naps today and I ate pizza in bed for lunch. A few Bojack Horseman episodes rounded out the digital portion of my day. I’m out of pills, which doesn’t really matter because I am not sure they were actually doing anything.


I feel like I am disappearing here piece-by-piece, breath by breath. Not to be hyperbolic, but I haven’t seen another person in almost a week and the extrovert in me misses your attention. The occasionally private message is nice, but I am learning to manage the loneliness of recovery. I can’t help but think about Jason’s strength over the last twenty years. He, unlike me, doesn’t want or need this attention, but I owe him a line: You are the strongest person I have ever known in my life. I have seen and felt your strength and admire it beyond anything a simple word like love can ever capture. Thank you for guiding me through my life with your strength.


I’m reading the Bruce Springsteen bio because Chris insisted that I read it and I am loving it. I am listening to Nebraska as I type these words and excited to learn more about an artist I know little about.


The political world is so absurd these days that it is hard to take seriously, but I read articles today about the plans for the federal government jobs and it is clear that things are about to get very grim for these United States. I just hope that you people living there, can survive these next four years and begin to rebuild the shit show that is coming. I am too tired right now to address this issue and the work required at the moment, but it is on my mind and I hope to get to it soon enough.


We are a few days away from the end of yet another year and December has never been an easy time for me. Excited that as it approaches, I feel like I am on an upward swing.


Looking forward to getting rid of this mustache. This year it has been a mark of sadness and I won’t even be at school on the last day of celebration. Just a quiet shave and goodbye.


Tomorrow is another day and I look forward to seeing where it takes us all. I miss you all. Today was the 333rd day of the year by the way.

November 27, 2016

Discharge

My mind is a mess. It is scrambled and slow and not wanting to work or think or move. I woke up to bloody bandages again, but the nurse at the clinic told me it was discharge. Which didn’t make me feel better. I was also told to stop moving around so much. So much for going into work tomorrow.


I laid around more today which is super boring and makes me feel terrible for Mairin. Not only can I not help with the kids, but I am like another kid who can’t even get his own food or water. I have been in a pretty foul mood all day.


Even when I tried to do some work to get mentors ready for the week, my brain was still in hospital mode. There is so much happening these last few weeks of school, from holiday parties to finishing up units, and I can’t believe that this is how I will be hobbling toward the finish line.


Having said that, I am grateful that this is a pretty minor injury and that in a few weeks I should be back to normal. I am grateful that although I feel guilty, Mairin has been great and is taking care of me and that my kids are being patient and kind and playing card games with me in bed. That my team and colleagues are picking up the slack and the work is getting done and the kids are learning. This is not the way I wanted to end 2016, seeing that I had a half marathon I was going to walk next weekend, but this is the kind of year this has been.


Come on 2017. We have all been waiting for you with open arms.

November 26, 2016

Nothing Day

Today was a pretty nothing day. Tried to get a bit more mobile. Shaved. Showered. Even got dressed, but I bled through a bandage and ended up feeling pretty tired, nauseous and banged up by 7pm, which is what time it is now, and I am in bed. Ready for sleep.


Marin and Kaia were out all day, so I tried to entertain Skye, but I could tell that she was bored and needed more from me than what I was able to offer- laying on the couch, in bed, occasionally heating up left-over pizza for lunch. We watched The Never Ending Story in the morning and it was not as good as I remember. It was actually pretty terrible.


We listened to some tunes while we colored. We played Uno and I tried to teach her backgammon. But all I really wanted to do was either crawl into bed and sleep or rip the bandages off, throw my crutches over the porch and go running around outside.


This is going to be a long few weeks of recovery.


Later Skye and I watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and, wow- It was almost unwatchable. Terrible is not even close to describe how awful it was. We made it through the end, but even Skye noticed how lame the the female lead character was"


“Come on lady! Don’t you know what adventures have to do? You’re gonna get a little dirty!”


So now, Kaia is at a sleep-over and Mairin is at a party I was supposed to go to, but Skye is laying beside me almost asleep and I can feel my ankle throbbing. My biggest concern is that the little bandages I am using will not be big enough and I might bleed all over the sheets. I need to go back to the clinic in the morning for a new dressing and to make sure that all this blood is normal.


I had convinced myself that I would be back at work on Monday, like nothing ever happened, but not so sure about that now.

November 25, 2016

Not Much

Not much happened today. Stayed home from school. There was no way I could have walked, much less worked. I stayed in bed. I napped. Tried to read and watched six episodes of Bojack Horseman. I have been in pretty bad pain all day. Felt a bit nauseous with heartburn.


Not sure what the next few weeks are going to look like and this is kind of freaking me out. Poor Mairin has been doing so much on her own. This was meant to be the weekend when we just chilled-out and rested and now it’s another weekend that she will be on her own.


My ankle starts bleeding if I get up and move about too much, and it hurts pretty much all the time. The pills don’t see to be doing much.


I’m in bed watching a movie with the girls and ready to just fall asleep again.

November 24, 2016

Pain and Grattitude

There is nothing like pain to teach us valuable lessons. Whether that pain is emotional, spiritual or physical, pain-if nothing else, teaches us gratitude.


I am back home after a 24 hour hospital stay that included a two hour surgery to mend my bones. Here are some random thoughts lessons I learned while I sat in my hospital bed all day:


Nursing is a wonderful profession. It must be so satisfying to bring people such comfort. All day today, a batch of nurses helped me stay comfortable, cleaned my bandages and made me feel cared for.


It’s amazing the trust we put into the hands of doctors. Right before I went under, I was thinking about the fact that I knew nothing about the guy who told that he needs to cut open my ankle and add a plate and some screws. Then knowing little about him or the procedure I said sure. I have no idea really what he did and whether or not it was the best thing. I knew that my bones were broken, because they hurt like hell and he was going to fix it. Made me think about the level of trust parents put in our hands as teachers. They don’t know us, for the most part, and they trust that we know what we are doing to teach there kids. It’s an honor to have this trust and I do not take it likely.


Would anyone be surprised if the Trump presidency actually became a reality show? Like his cabinet picks are being chosen for their on-air personalities. “Bring in the rich lady with no experience in education to run the entire department. It will be funny to see what she does. If it doesn’t work out, I can use my catch line in week 15- You’re Fired!”


The rest is a bit blurry. This was a great post, around 4pm when was drafting it in my head, but now nearing ten, not so much.

November 23, 2016

Rewarding With Pain

It was around six pm. The sun was low in the sky and the concrete was a glow in golden light. The park was not too crowded and I felt confident. I had just rolled into some ramps that had scared me before and was feeling the flow. It as the first time in weeks that I felt awake. Alert. Alive.


I had promised myself to push myself a bit during this session, and take a few bigger risks. After a small fall, I was exhilarated by the feeling of my flesh hitting the concrete. My shoulder stung a little, but I was pushed forward by a sense of invincibility. The wheels buzzing. My knees bent. The balance achieved.


I had been skating for forty-five minutes and was getting tired. I had a good day and it was time to drink some water and call it a day. Kaia was doing some ramp work with her teacher and was a bit low on energy. Her Wednesdays are crazy. He was spotting her, but her heart wasn’t in it. She barely bent her knees and you could tell she was nervous. It wasn’t a good day for her.


I had watched her drop into a ramp from the rail for a few sessions and emboldened by my success, I wanted to inspire her a bit.


“Listen Kaia, we are almost done. If you put 100% into this one and really bend your knees and lean forward and get into it, I will give this ramp a try.”


I am not sure why I thought this was a good idea or why no one tried to stop me, but next thing you know I was up the ramp. it wasn't big, but I had never done anything like it before. I had just learned a roll in a few minutes before.


“What could go wrong? You have all the pads on.” Shawn said casual.


My first run I leaned back a little and caught myself on my elbows. It wasn’t as hard as it looked and I knew with an adjustment I could do it. I was back on the ramp. Then I was down. I didn’t feel myself leaning back, but the video clearly shows that I did not bend my knees or lean forward.


My ankle went under and I knew that something was wrong. The pain was sudden and intense like a wave or a hammer on an anvil. I saw white as I took off my helmet and tried to catch my breath.


Kaia looked scared and I tried to calm her down, but I was pretty shocked myself. I saw my ankle and it looked twisted. Kaia’s teacher was saying it looked bad and Shawn’s face was not reassuring.


Long story short- They pushed me to the car, one foot on a board. Marin drove me to the hospital and a bone in my ankle area is fractured and has moved back into place. Pretty bad.


I’m currently in the hospital and will have surgery in the morning to add a plate and screws to move the bone back in place. The doctor is optimistic about recovering time. I will wait and see. I hope this doesn’t mean we have to cancel Thailand. We all really needed that break.


I may have to spend the night here tomorrow night just in case. Will see after surgery.


A few lessons learned here:
  1. I am not nineteen. This lesson seems to be hard for me to really learn. 
  2. End on a high note. When you have success, just soak in it for a while, no need to push yourself until you fail, or break your bones.
  3. Skateboarding is dangerous and fun and exciting and should never be underestimated. People make it look easy, but when you are starting it is not. 
  4. Sometimes taking risks is rewarding. 
  5. Sometimes taking risks ends with pain. 


I’m in a hospital room alone and it is time for sleep. What a strange way to end my three week run.

November 22, 2016

To Be Seen

I helped a boy try to find his way onto a football field. He was nervous and scared and lonely and unsure how to approach the alphas and their thirst for blood. He is a sensitive boy who just needs to be seen.

I spoke to a girl’s parents, telling them how much progress she has made. I had goosebumps praising her and she looked as if she were about to cry, as her eyes whispered thank you.

I taught a group of kids the basic principles of a semi-colon; it was late in the afternoon.

I commiserated with tired teachers. I read about empowered Nazis. I did not notice the sky or breathe in deep. I listened to Leonard Cohen. I jumped into a Facebook feed and was confused and perplexed and left without closure.

I watched the Walking Dead, drank one glass of red wine and revelled in the fact that the Raiders are 8-2.

I joked. I sighed. I reprimanded. I taught. I built. I destroyed.

It was one more day in a series of days.

And now sleep.

November 21, 2016

Tolerance

Thank you for your concern. After my slightly dour post last night, several of you sent me private messages or came to check on me in person today. I felt others were treating me pretty gently today. I appreciate the support, but just know that I am fine. I am tried and stretched a bit thin and running out of things to say on some night when the gas tank is empty, but overall my moods are in flux. I hope that when I look back on the 365 posts I will have written this year that the trend is happy, hopeful, and hard working, but of course there will be a few posts like last night’s.

How could there not be?

I think most of us mask our funks, but I have chosen to give voice to every day and every emotion, so sometimes those voices sounds low and sad and upset, but that is not the complete picture.

I feel that I am in a state of metamorphosis these days. I have some big plans for the new year and I am sitting with them for this time period in a cocoon to see if I really want to commit to them or not.

I am riding out a stretch of working for twenty plus days without a weekend and after tomorrow night’s three-way conferences with parents, there will be some respite. The light at the end of this tunnel, that begin ironically on November 8th, is here tomorrow, so I will try and give voice to the other voices in my head.



The intolerant among us are claiming that the tolerant among us are being intolerant toward the intolerant among us.

So much so that the tolerant among us are starting to feel intolerant toward the intolerant among us.

I know for sure, because as someone who thinks of himself as the tolerant among us,

I am feeling quite intolerant against the intolerant among us even as they ask for tolerance from the tolerant among us.

But if the intolerant among us really wanted tolerance from the tolerant among us, they could start by showing a little tolerance toward the tolerant among us.

And as the tolerant among us, if our true nature is tolerance then shouldn’t we show some tolerance toward the intolerant among us?

But this is so hard, because by the very nature of tolerance, the tolerant among us have a hard time facing the intolerant among us,

because by the nature of the intolerant among us, the existence of the tolerant among us is in jeopardy.

Tolerance cannot survive with intolerance.

Intolerance can only be destroyed by tolerance.

This is our bind.

November 20, 2016

Don't Want

There is nothing here. The well is dry and no amount of youtube clips are sparking anything, because the input from the outside is toxic. Childish Gambino on the headphones, eyes closed, listening to the swirling synths and hand clap beats.

I don’t want to do this tonight. I don’t want to make meaning or try to connect or inspire. I don’t want to think. I don’t want to write. I don’t want to reflect or feel or stay consistent or maintain this habit or continue playing this game. I don’t want. I don’t want anything.


I don’t want to be social or professionally developed. I don’t want to be seen or heard and understood. I don’t want you reading this or liking it or caring or wondering if I’m okay. I don’t want to be predictable or boring or interesting. I don’t want to make sense. I don’t want to teach or plan or meet or be present. I don’t want to run. I don’t want. I don’t want anything.

There is nothing here, but a looming Monday and the next day, the next week. And an uncertain future.

November 19, 2016

This Luxury

Do this. Don’t do that.
Be happy. Be angry.
Be optimistic. Let it go. Normalize. Act. Fight


Every act is a political act.
Every inaction is a political act.


How long can political junkies sustain? Stay sane?
Watching from the sidelines, jumping into the game.


According to reports…everything is a swirling jumbled mess.
There are no signs of clarity.


I was at PD today, learning how to build trust and rapport.
We spoke of vulnerability and the five states of mind:


Flexilbity
Interconnectedness
Efficacy
Craftsmanship
Consciousness


Still learning about how these states of mind might help me in my professional career, but on a personal level- learning to navigate the online muck and cesspool of political understanding, it might behoove me to consider the five states of mind.


Currently I am exploring the consciousness field. Trying to find out where I stand and why I am standing there. How I got here and where I might move next. I am reading and weighing and thinking and reflecting nearly every second of the day.


But right now at this exact moment, on a Saturday night, after friends just left, I am rambling and scrabbling for some kind of meaning, when all I need is a novel and the warm embrace of fiction. A blanket of words and the safe bed of narratives. I need some calm and rest and the hopefulness and gratitude of tomorrow, Thankful that I am have enough privilege to even entertain this calculated approach.


Other people do not have this luxury, and I am aware enough to know that justice cannot wait too long for me to get my shit together.

November 18, 2016

Another

It’s 12:12 am. Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen is on my head phones. Not sure where that call came from.


“Welcome to the new world order. The highway is alive tonight and nobody is kidding anyone of where it’s going.”


Another old white racist is now the attorney general of the United States. The nightmare gets worse and more real with every passing day. No can believe what is happening, but America is headed into a dark tunnel and the disappearing speck of light is getting smaller and farther away. “If there is someone struggling to be free, look in their eyes ma and you’ll see me.”


We put up the Christmas tree tonight. The girls were excited. Kaia made warm milk with cinnamon as we laid on couch watching a Friday night movie. Headed to Lee and Cindy’s for a well deserved bottle of wine.


Today I taught kids that we are all Africans as we discussed evolution and the human family. It felt a dollar short and an hour too late, but it is in the curriculum so it might make the world a better place. I talked to a bully and told him to be nicer. I asked a victim to speak up.


I am back at work tomorrow for professional development on a Saturday, then again on Sunday.


My head is down and I'm working toward the December break. I can feel the ocean swallowing me as the sun caresses my darkening skin. Sand and slow hours. Afternoon cocktails and late afternoon naps. Another month. Another year. Another and another and then one more other.

November 17, 2016

D-Day

The day was dripping with derelict diversions
dangling in front of our deceitful hour.
Dismal and dour
desirous for power-


What is this?


A different direction,
A drifting dictation,
A disdain for dejection.
Diminishing deprecation.
The determined disintegration
the definitive dead end
of this diet of desperation.


It begins with dutiful dreaming
A deceptive deviation
from this downtrodden despair.


Dominant in our devotion,
must be the decadent denial
of this disastrous deception.


Done with dread
put it to bed
down with your doom,
detained in a room,
walk away
walk away
from this dreary dead-end
tomb.


Define your own delicious delights,
delicate in their development
dropping diving deep
determined diversity
digging to discover its dimensions.


double
double
down.


dizzy
dizzy
deep


Dissing doubt.
the details dingy dim and dark.


Dance in your desire
Dance with your desire
and declare your day done

November 16, 2016

This Way

I’m not eating well; my addiction to the McDonald’s Mc Crunch knows no bounds. I am back to eating Indian everyday instead of salads. I can barely remember the last time I ran and cannot remember the last time I enjoyed it. I have a half-marathon coming up and at this point I might just walk the whole thing in some weird pre-dawn act of cleansing and meditation.


I haven’t read any YA and have been taking forever to read Here I Am, the latest novel, by Jonathan Safron Foer. I can’t stop reading articles and tweets about the Trump transition team and the circus that surrounds it. I am a political junkie and while I thought things wold ease up after November 8th, I am now realizing I need a more sustainable plan for how I will handle the next four years. I cannot spend this much energy on anger and frustration.


I am not parenting well. Not spending quality time with my kids. Not talking to them deeply or listening closely. I am there but distracted. I haven't been the best friend. Beyond shouting my daily rants, I haven’t touched based or written long personal emails to friends who matter. My teaching feels mediocre and I don’t feel 100% connected or present- in the planning or delivery of my work.


I’m barely playing guitar, beyond a few strums in the morning, and I haven’t done an open mic all year. There aren’t a batch of songs that I am trying to master. The chords feel shrill and discordant. My voice shallow and off key.


I lack confidence in how I look, feel and walk. I feel like I am wearing a thin mask which only reveals my insecurities and frustration with my mood. The days are running into weeks and months.


I have been eating many many baked goods and donuts and barely register vegan guilt as I do. I have made it okay to “cheat” here and there and then there and there again and again. I eat chocolate and have forgotten where I put my soapbox.


I haven’t been paying enough attention to my wife. Asking her how she is. Offering to help out. Giving her gentle kisses or nudges or any indication that I care about anything but myself.


I have been selfish and self-loathing to a point of delirium.


I am not sure where or how this downward spiral began, but I look forward to crawling out of it soon. I have set January 1st for some hard changes. I know I should start now, but I am allowing myself the luxury wallowing for a few more weeks.


It’s Wednesday after a 13 hour day, sandwiched between two working weekends in November and all is as it should be. I can’t imagine too many teachers who aren’t feeling this way.

November 15, 2016

Signs Of and For

I was not a huge Tribe Called Quest fan back in the day. Of course, I loved Q-Tip, but only because he spun in the Beastie Boy’s orbit.

The timing of their latest album feels like the perfect antidote to the Trump shit-storm. Listening to it as I write this and wow! Such crazy sounds, beats and tight lyrics. It sounds so original and fresh. I am not a confident hip-hop connoisseur, but I love popping in and out of the genre and watching it evolve in such unique ways.

If you haven’t heard it yet, what are you waiting for. I’m looking at you Scott and Ari. It will help assuage the heartburn you maybe experiencing because of all this:

  • Trump needs to find 4,000 appointees before January 20th. 1,270 need Senate approval. (I got three words: Good luck asshat.)
  • KKK, American Nazi Party praise Trump's hiring of Bannon
  • Seen tweet:
"Let's see how Trump does."

"He's hiring a white supremacist."

"Let's see how he does after that."
  • He apparently doesn’t want to live full time in The White House. He wants to spend weekends in NYC.
  • He’s entertaining Bolton or Guiliani for Secretary of State.
  • Playing dumb on the blind trust issue
  • Trump has asked for top secret clearance for eldest 3 children (sorry Tiffany) and son-in-law Jared Kushner
  • Iva Trump is selling jewelry she wore on the 60 Minutes interview and marketing to the fact that she wore it on the show. (The Hunger Games cannot be far off.)
  • One of the promises Donald Trump made on the campaign trail was to dismantle or renegotiate the U.S. deal with Iran that limits its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. If he makes good on that promise, it won't be the first time a Republican administration has walked away from an arms deal negotiated by Democrats.


Signs for hope:

  • Million Women March on Washington!
  • "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." - Desmond Tutu
  • “The power of a bold idea uttered publicly in defiance of dominant opinion cannot be easily measured. Those special people who speak out in such a way as to shake up not only the self-assurance of their enemies, but the complacency of their friends, are precious catalysts for change. You can't be neutral on a moving train.” Howard Zinn
  • From President Barack Obama, on a call to people who've volunteered for his and Hillary's campaign (Read to the end):
- Your President feels your pain.

- Surprising losses are worse than the ones you see coming.

- Progress doesn't always follow a straight line.

- I'm giving you a whole week and a half to get over this. But come Thanksgiving, it's time to stop moping and get organizing - something I know a little about.

- I'm constrained in what I can do until I'm a private citizen.

- But come February (maybe a little later after a vacation), Michelle and I will be right there with you.

- In the meantime, stay involved locally.

...

This new Tribe Called Quest album is off the hook. 

November 14, 2016

Take Away Essential

Big travel day. Back home. Tired ready for bed.


We were asked to do a quick final right-up review at the end of our literary exchange. This is my first-thought-best-thought quick write.


This weekend has made me realise the value of critically reading and thinking about non-fiction. The world is a complex, and as we have seen with the events of the last week, a divisive place. We are surrounded by so many ideas, opinions, knowledge, research, lies, propaganda and agendas that it is exhausting to make sense of it all, so we often hide behind our own echo chamber walls and leave the hard work of understanding outside the door.


We cannot afford to burden our students with the inability to make sense of the deluge of information that is thrust upon them everyday as they watch the news, movies and videos, read books and articles, or simply interact with their family and friends.


My next steps are quite practical and pragmatic. I want to try and build a working text set that about gender equality to be able to try and give my GC group a broader and deeper understanding of our issue as we plan to set goals and hopefully plan our second term campaign. I hope to work with Anne Marie and Claire to see if this is a working model for longer term teaching that crosses English class and GC time. It feels big and intimidating, but I am willing to start the planning process to see where I am.


I am also thinking of doing some of this work with my own kids. Finding non-fiction materials that we can unpack and talk about more often. it is never too early to start learning these skills.


My big take away is that non-fiction is not some boring genre that we trudge through. It should not be a time for rolling of eyes or heavy sighs. We owe it to our kids to build the excitement around the genre because we need their help in working toward the solutions we need for functioning, sustainable and peaceful global societies.


One word take away- Essential

November 13, 2016

Quiet Day

After a morning of spending time at an Indonesian trash-picking community, I spent a lot of time alone in a hotel room while the sky turned grey and it rained outside. I did some work. I read my book. I read some articles. I watched youtube. I napped.

It felt nice to be alone in my head without too much thinking. I miss Mairin and girls and I am ready to be back home, but we have another day at our literacy exchange. It is good and important work, but it has been a tough week.

After a short but sweet catch up with Dan and Angie, I am back in my room. Might watch a movie or read some more or just go to sleep.

This has been a quiet nothing day. Just what the doctor ordered. So this will be a quest nothing post.

November 12, 2016

Scabs and Brusies

Listening to Leonard Cohen’s The Stranger Song from the Isle of Wright show in 1970, missing my guitar, nearing midnight in a hotel room in Jakarta, thankful for each word that soothes the gaping wounds, the blood drying up and clotting into convenient scabs, hiding the bruises caused by this collective anger; the tears have dried up leaving empty pockets of sarcasm and mean comments about things I don’t understand over wine and cocktail parties.


The simple rippling strings of his guitar and that monk-like voice the only thing that makes sense in this tired loneliness. His poetry like comfortable prayers reminding me not to worry so much.


I’ve always been this melodramatic, so please don’t say that I’ve changed. It’s all theatrics these words and these moods:


Please understand, I never had a secret chart
to get me to the heart of this
or any other matter
When he talks like this
you don't know what he's after…



I gave a talk today. People said they liked it. That’s always nice. It felt repetitive and incoherent to me, but what I do know- I only saw it from the inside out. We talked about the necessity of non-fiction and critical thinking for a healthy democracy, which all felt pretty timely.


"I really like reading your writing."


The only words I have ever wanted to hear.


I met new people I respected. I drank wine. We ate pizza. I am grateful for my blessings and now I will sleep.

November 11, 2016

Education. Book. Knowledge. Words.

It’s late and I am in Jakarta. My brain is fried. Reading too much. Thinking to much. Discussing too much. Feeling too much. I have people emailing me thanking me for my thoughts, while an old friend said I am being toxic. I am having fifteen conversations my head every hour and thinking of twenty different things to write. This level of analysis is not sustainable.

I read one article that clearly resonates with me and articulates my dread perfectly. Then the very next one makes me doubt what I just agreed with. I am weighed down by guilt and sadness and anger. And exhaustion.

The next four years will be taxing, but we don’t have to figure it all now. Whether we listen or protest. Fight or try to understand. All of these things will work themselves out. We are human beings on our road to evolution and this election like all human events is but one speck in the grand scheme of things.

I am not giving in or giving up. Just saying that after a few days of watching swastikas painted on walls, or being called smug because I am educated, or being told that I should fight harder or cry softer or just accept it or never give up has got me spinning.

I have nothing intelligent or profound to say, other than we need to take care of ourselves first before we can help others. I am going to crawl into this giant hotel bed and get some rest, because tomorrow I will be working with a group of educators, trying to find ways to make non-fiction reading relevant and powerful for young readers.

I am not sure if these actions will have any effect on American politics, or if we will in anyway get any closer to peace and understanding, but I know that it is my skill set and it is the path I have chosen, so my fight starts tomorrow with the best tool I know of: Education. Book. Knowledge. Words.

Oh and Leonard Cohen….so so much to say. I very much look forward to writing that post when my brain settles.

November 10, 2016

It Was Hard Not To Cry, So I Did

It was hard to get out of bed today and live with the reality of what has happened. I skimmed a few articles and tweets and Facebook updates and tried to be present for my kids, but they can see that my mind is elsewhere and that my heart beats weakly.


I played guitar at breakfast, almost broke down in tears playing Give A Man A Home by Ben Harper...


have you ever worn thin
have you ever never known where to begin
have you ever lost your belief
watching your faith turn to grief


...so I put the sad songs away and donned a fake smile. We ate in silence. Got ready for the day. I lingered in the shower, watching the cold water swirl down the drain and disappear, my thoughts scattered and unapproachable.


At school, I covered a mentor class and we decided to take a break and do something fun. Let off some steam, so we did a #mannequinchallenge and after we decided to vent our feelings about the election.


The kids needed to talk and be heard and give voice to their anger and confusion. One boy came from a Clinton Trump family and said things are weird at his house, while another girl felt genuine dread for woman around the world. I didn’t say much. I just let them say whatever it was they were feeling or hearing.


Next, I had a lot of busy things to do: Discuss students of concern, send emails, write parent newsletters, plan lessons- necessary tasks and welcome distractions. I tried to stay of twitter, not read the articles. Let my brain rest and focus on the work.


At lunch we had a Daraja Academy meeting, and this venue felt right to talk about gender, rights, justice and peace. The kids in this group seemed shell shocked and upset. We had a lot of work to do, but I spoke about the power of activism and the resilience that we earn from set backs and how the work we do is endless and reward-less, but for the sake of peace, love and justice we get up and keep working. It was hard not to cry, so I did. We assigned committees and selected leadership roles. We carried on the work toward gender equality.


I taught two classes about latitude lines and climate zones. We spoke about globes and seasons. We laughed a lot. I put on a show, the grade sixes ate it up. The classroom is my stage and I like having fun. We left the election outside, didn’t feel necessary.


After school we had our lit magazine meeting. These kids looked like they needed to talk, so I spoke about the power of writing as a healing agent and as an activist tool. I showed them the Michael Franti video and told them to be strong and fight for what they believe in. To use the power of words to heal and mend and educate.


They wrote some short piece and poems. We shared them and their innocence was something spectacular and raw. It was hard not to cry, so I did. We got to work to publishing our next issue.


They worked hard and laughed and ate candy. I wrote this. I know it’s garbage:


Dear Trump Voter,


I am really trying to understand you right now. I should probably wait until my anger and disbelief die now, it is never good to write with such a heavy sense of sadness and rage. There are times throughout the day when I feel nauseous, just thinking about where we are headed as nation, as a planet. I wonder if you would have felt the same had Hillary been elected President.


Are you excited? Are you celebrating? If so I really want to know why? What has you excited? I am not here to be antagonistic. This election has hollowed me out and left me exhausted and confused. I am teacher and a father and I think about the lesson I teach the children I see everyday. For me, the lessons worth remembering are the simple ones we learn as children.


Don’t be a bully. Be kind. Love your neighbour; I am pretty sure those lessons are written in a religious book somewhere. I think about my classroom and watching my own children playing on a playground. I would want them to treat everyone with respect, if not with outright love. I would hope that they would not force some kids off the playground, but rather invite everyone to come play. I would hope that any walls would be used for climbing and playing not for exclusion.


So what is it about this president, this party, this future that fills your heart with joy? What is that when you look your children in the eye fills you with hope. I hope to try and move away from the propaganda talking points, but based on his own words how are you explaining his attitude toward women to your daughters, your wives, you mothers, your sisters, and if you are a woman to yourself?


...


Back home, my kids were tired and sluggish. Kaia had homework, Skye played with her dolls. I wanted to do something with her, but I skimmed articles on my phone instead, wallowing in guilt and anger.


Dinner was quiet.


“Daddy, is it true that Donald Trump raped somebody?”
What do you say to a ten year old?
“He was accused of it, but the trial has been dropped.”
“How can someone who raped somebody be president?”
“Well it was never proven in a court, so we cannot assume he did it.”


I didn’t have the heart to tell her she was twelve and there were others.


“Why would someone rape another person?”
Really? On this night?
“Hard to say. They could be mentally ill, they want to show their power, they hate women.”


She quietly scooped up a spoonful of peas. The idea that some men hate women had never occurred to her before.


We talked a bit more about how she heard that Trump gave a speech and that his okay and normal now.


We discussed his policies, his cabinet and how we cannot normalise the things he has said and the things he has championed and how it is the work of all us to keep him honest and push back against his actions when they are oppositional to what we value: peace, love, diversity, understanding.


They went to sleep. I did a bit of work for tomorrow. It all feels pretty incoherent.


Tomorrow I am off to Jakarta for a literacy exchange. I will see some friends. I am giving a short talk to kick things off. I am excited to tell some stories. I don’t intend them to be, but I am sure they will be tinged with anger and sadness, like most things these days.

November 9, 2016

Like Noise Tonight

I feel like noise tonight.
Useless and grating.
A white scratching hum,
invisible and senseless,
yet flashing between static
and
a
void.


The only thing that brings me to this blank page, and the timeless battle with words, is my faith that they will somehow set me free.


I feel like I have had the wind knocked out of me. A surprise cheap sucker punch from a bully, I should have known better than to turn my back on. I am not sure if this low whisper, this whimpering, this noise I am producing will be helpful to any one, but I need it's slow release.


I have bee reading various accounts laying blame, promising resistance, analyzing and re-analyzing how we got here. I can’t bring myself to watch any live footage of his face. I can’t bare the thought of four years of watching him “lead.”


There is no direction to this confusion. I am bundle of chaos assaulted by every emotion- rage, fear, dread, hate, shame. Everyone but hope.


I wanted to write a letter to my kids or my students, but I didn’t know what to write.
I wanted to write an analysis piece about how liberals don’t understand rural America.
I wanted to write about how the death of the American left has been a long time coming, and how the capitulation to global corporartism forced us to have faith in a false process.
I wanted to write about how America is not better than this. This is a nation built on genocide and slavery. Imperialism and Jim Crowe.
I wanted to write about how we need to fight and read our Zinn and have faith in the ongoing struggle for justice.


But I feel like noise tonight. I want to be hopeful, but I need to grieve. I want to inspire, but I need to process.


I just can’t. I just can’t.
Not tonight.

November 8, 2016

A Sweet Calming Wave

Tomorrow morning I will wake up at 6am and it will be 5pm on the East Coast of The United States of America, or maybe it will be 7pm, I hate timezones; either way it will be evening and there will be piles and piles of election results for me to sift through on my tiny phone screen as I sit in bed in the darkness holding my breath, hoping that America proved that is the hopeful place I know it can be, and not the ignorant cesspool of hatred that I have seen it to be.


So much has already been written about this election, that I feel inadequate to add anything useful to the conversations at this late stage of the game. We have all drawn up sides and there is no convincing anyone otherwise.


I wish it were different.


I wish that we had subtle nuanced political discourse that allowed our diverse electorate a chance to vote on candidates that resented their needs and interests, but we are beholden to a reality TV style election, that let’s be honest- we might just deserve.


We are all in safely hunkered down in our insulated bubbles casting out jabs and punches and slings and arrows. We hurl quotes and share videos from Samantha Bee and Ann Coulter. Seth Meyer and Rudy Guiliani. It’s an interactive circus run by demented clowns. We are all nervous and punchy and dangerous.


We are all hopeful that somehow tomorrow, that when our side wins, it will all be over and we can go back to caring about….what was it that we cared about again?


But the scariest part is that this is not going to end tomorrow. This wound will bleed for years to come and the scar will leave a mark. Actually what we are experiencing is the same wound, reopened from the Civil War. But having said that...


I am hopeful that Hillary will win in a landslide.


I am an optimist. I believe in humanity and decency. I believe there are more people in American who side with love than hatred. I believe in progress and healing and evolution.


I believe that while it is easy to pick on our simplicity and backwardness that there are more Americans that believe we are ready for a woman president, that immigrants are not the cause of our problems, that Muslims worldwide suffer from terrorism more than we do, that people of the LGBTQ communities are intertwined in all of our communities, that women should have the right to choose what to do with their reproductive rights, that we need to look at structural racism. I believe that beyond the smoke screens and propaganda, that deep in our hearts Americans know that #blacklivesmatter and that climate change is real.


We believe in peace, liberty and justice for all.


I believe that if you take Americans from rural Alabama and put them in a room with people from inner-city Ferguson that they will find common ground. That all we need is to look past the rhetoric and lies and politics and media and into our hearts to know what is the right thing to do. I believe that there are still enough people in America who believe in America to make the promise real. And I believe that they will come out on election day and be heard.


At it’s simplest to be an optimist means that you must to believe in love.


I have to believe these things, because I am not sure I can go to work tomorrow if the results I see on my phone in the darkness at 6am show Trump winning or anywhere near a close call.


A Hillary win will not solve our problems. And while I will freely admit that I have been swayed by her slick propaganda machine, I nearly cried showing my daughters her final video tonight, I do know that at this stage in our countries lives, progressives need to feel that at least we haven't moved further right. That we are not a nation of racists and bigots.


The woman we elect will not be the champion of the left that we deserve, but at least her lies are closer to our truths than his. Her victory we will be a weak mandate for liberals and in any election year that is better than any mandate for ultra-right lunacy.


Everyday at lunch, I talk about this election with my non-American colleagues and none of us get it. How can you explain Trumpism to anyone with a head or a heart.


Here’s to hoping that tomorrow as I am sitting through a million hours of parent-teacher conferences and checking in on the stats, that I see each state turn blue- one after the other like a sweet calming wave cleansing our nation and preparing us for the work ahead.

November 7, 2016

Raider Nation

Richard had arranged for us to watch the game at a bar in the neighborhood. We were all on media black out and I was quietly looking forward to it all weekend. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about the The Oakland Raiders. 2004? The year Jay Schroeder threw 4 picks in the AFC championship loss to the Bills when I cried alone at home?


This was it. Ready to take the lead in the AFC West against arch rival and current reigning Superbowl champs? It doesn't get better than this and as every Raider fan knows, this is when we choke. Lose it. Disappoint. But not tonight: Run. Pass. Defense. O-Line. Special Teams. (Those two punts by King?) This team is legit baby. And we are young and hungry and I am looking forward to the rest of the season.


Great way to start the week, now if only Hillary can bring it home on Tuesday and trounce that pile of manure, then maybe 2016 can start feeling a bit more tolerable.





I am off to Jakarta this week for a literary exchange. I am excited and curious about going back to the Big Durian after five years. But in the meantime, pretty big week. Three-Way conference, an election to suffer through and just the everyday grind of making it through the week.





Episode three of The Walking Dead followed by the fitful sleep of a winner. Only other Raider fans out there can appreciate the simply joys of a well played football game, one where you don’t choke, you play well and win. Can’t get over it.

November 6, 2016

True Colors

Saw The Trolls movie today and thoroughly enjoyed it. Great music, cute, funny and a nice message about happiness and how and where to find it. Don’t want to give too much away, but the bad guys-The Bergens reminded me of Trump supporters. Just throwing that out there for when/if you see it.


Came home starting learning True Colors with Skye and Kaia. It is in a key scene in the movie and feels nice to sing with the girls.


Despite the joyfulness of said film, the Raisdana house was doused with a smidge of funk today. Not sure why, but we were all a bit tired and snappy.


Basketball, some time outdoors, Veganberg lunch, movie, a quick lesson in Poker and Black Jack, a few Skye melt down tantrums, some Supergirl and finally the deep deep sleep. We were functioning but not really feeling it. That’s the case some days- Families just misfire and sputter and fall.


This election is rotting my soul piece-by-piece and I don’t know if the climate of the country will change anytime soon. Either way is a bad case scenario. Trump wins will….I don’t need to say anything about that, but this vitriol will not dissipate much even if Clinton wins. Trump supports are just hearing their voices for the first time, I am afraid they will not shut up any time soon. I am not sure if my day-to-day life can handle much more of bleating.


I guess we must all have faith in the work toward peace. Focusing on the daily ways we try and teach a new generation to care and feel and love and move forward. Part of this work, must involve loving those who spew hate.


It can be difficult to do this work with our own hearts filled with hate, and Trump is so good at filling hearts with hate, regardless of whether or not you support him. Like an infection he burrows into your system and tears you apart. But we must internalize it and learn to transform it back into love to guide us.


I hope to wake up tomorrow, put on my clothes, sculpt the mustache, and help the people in my life live their true colors.

November 5, 2016

The Gentle Solitude Of Sleep

The cursor is blinking and the page is blank.

The day comes back to me in snippets and chunks.
There was a lot of driving: Kaia to sewing. Us to Wild Honey. Back to get Kaia. Back home. Skye to birthday party. Lots of time on the highway.


At one point I was blasting Siamese Dreams and Mellon Collie to Kaia as we drove in silence. She seemed to enjoy it. Not sure how much she absorbed…

Emptiness is loneliness, and loneliness is cleanliness
And cleanliness is godliness, and god is empty just like me
Intoxicated with the madness, I'm in love with my sadness
Bullshit fakers, enchanted kingdoms
The fashion victims chew their charcoal teeth

…but I am hoping it was enough.

Had dinner at Artichoke with old and new friends. Put on the smile. Listened to the talk. Tried to join in. These communities and families we have created continue to grow and need tending. How did we get here? Where are we headed? Can I still tag along?

Now home. It is early(ish) Saturday night. An ice cold glass of water. Some Halloween candy and the promise of a few pages of fiction before the gentle solitude of sleep.

We Friday Nighted Like Champs

We taught kids.
We talked shop.
We at lunch.
We taught kids.
We watched a social.
We ate dinner.
We drank wine.
We laughed.
We talked.
We drove around in a taxi.
We didn’t go where wanted.
We drank beer.
We drank whiskey.
We talked school.
We talked Trump.
We talked Vegan.
We talked bacon and Cesar Salad.
We walked in the hood.
We listen to music.
We talk music documentaries and Smashing Pumpkins.
We talked HD and grit and Taylor Swift.
We played darts.
We walked the streets.
We laughed.
We hi-fived.
We were hard and mean.
We hugged and said good bye.
We lived.
We Friday nighted like champs.

November 3, 2016

The Fervor and The Peace

“Darling, remember when you come to me
I'm the pretender and I, what I'm supposed to be
But who could know if I'm a traitor
Time's the Revelator”


Gillian Welch


I was a blur at work today. I wouldn’t have recognized myself, even if I had two minutes to look in a mirror. I was running from the second I arrived on campus. I don’t share these list of events to brag. I am not sure why I share them. I am not saying that everyone in the world is not just as busy. I am not promoting busyness as some sort of point of pride. It just helps me unwind to name the things that had me thinking and working and energised all day. I want to know what is responsible for this state of near collapse, as I sit with the wine and the soft guitar music soothing my soul.


It is through our work, our labor, physical or intellectual that we grow. The events of my day are not meant to be complaints or boasts, but simple acknowledgements for how I spend the seconds, minutes and hours of my life. I arrived a bit early at 7:25:


  • Student of concern meeting. 
  • Covered half a mentor class
  • Ran to the Parent Coffee Morning I was facilitating. 
  • Caught up on email
  • Planned and re-planned the times and dates for the grade 6 trip to Tioman
  • Met with one of the members of the grade 6 team for a check in
  • Grabbed a salad to go for lunch
  • Ran Daraja meeting (getting closer to assigning role and moving toward goal setting) 
  • Taught two eighty minute classes
  • Ran Off Tangent our literary magazine (One of the most student driven things I have ever done. They are simply amazing) 
  • Came home read with Skyelar
  • Listened to Kaia’s Math homeshare
  • Had dinner. 
  • Got over guilt of not running. 
  • Got kids ready for bed and sat with them to fall asleep
  • Sent off a few emails
  • Started to organize some Movember stuff
  • and now…the music is quiet. Not much left to so but stare at some entertainment. Something from Netflix or youtube. 
  • Read a few pages and sleep. 


Tomorrow is Friday and we have a great dinner planned. The weekend is upon us, and as we march into November, I am reminded of the Redwoods from the summer. The hours on the road. The streets of Bend, Oregon. The cabin. The calm. The rest. The ease.


I am grateful to have both- The fervor and the peace.

November 2, 2016

Walk Away

Overheard today during my duty at lunch in the Grade 8 pod:


Student One: Did you check out that Frank Zappa I sent you.
Student Two: Yeah. It was okay. Pretty weird though.
Me: Wait are you guys talking about Frank Zappa?
Student Two: Yeah.
Me: Wow. That’s pretty impressive.
Student Two: Yeah, student one is a rock music expert.
Student One: Actually I am more of a fusion jazz expert.
Me: Carry on boys. Carry on.


I walked away.





Me: I just planned to say exactly what I wanted and then had to temper it way down so as not to upset people.
Richard: And that is the very nature of leadership.





A sixth grade shared some of his writing with me in class today. He showed me a few leads he was working on, using the mentor text as a model. He is not the strongest writer, but he seemed so please with his work. I high fived him. We smiled. I could see in his eyes that he finally understood that writing is not a magical trait some people possess. It is the everyday practice of working on skills and getting better.





My brain is pretty fired right now. Long day, behind the eight ball today. Played a lot of catch up and then a 3 hour after school meeting and a few hours of work at home. Feeling better about where I am, but not well enough to write much more than this.


It is early in the evening and I need some entertainment and escape. Atlanta final episode is on cue and I am looking forward to some extended reading tonight.

November 1, 2016

Baller

The was a fierceness in her eyes.


A fire has been lit.


I watched her eyes scan the court, while she dribbled with more confidence than I have ever seen, looking for a lane to drive or an open player for the pass.


Her shorts fit right. Her shoes, although a bit big, felt less clunky. A tight black sport’s bar and her number eleven jersey hung from her sinewy shoulders like a baller. A small tight pony tail.


She ran back on defense. Covered her girl. Jumped for rebounds. Fought for balls. Recognized the assists and took the shots. They played two games and for the first time in two years they won both games. She played well. Her team looked like a real team. She scored a few baskets. She drove the lane. Made lay-ups. Ran one coast-to-coast.


A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about her disappointment about being on the B-team, but today as we hugged after the game, drove home and had a celebratory dinner, she seemed to understand the slow progress of learning and hard work.


Unfortunately this was the last few games of the season, but she will continue to play every week at Fast Break. Big thanks to Steven for working with the girls and getting them ready and jazzed for the season. I really hope that basketball is something that Kaia loves and enjoys. It was very fun watching her run the court.





I had five meetings today and am pretty spent. Full Frontal, Halloween candy, a glass of wine, reading and a new day tomorrow.