Thursday, May 28, 2009

when i think of summer

(and finally being done with my first year of teaching!), i think of sufjan stevens's the predatory wasp of the palisades.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

sick again

with a sunburn (i should have known that participating in the extremely rednecky activity of floating down a confederate flag-lined creek alongside inner tubes holding coolers of beer might result not only in a red neck, but in other red parts), a fever, and some weird sinus thing. probably not staying home tomorrow, but i felt like whining anyway. i've only really gotten sunburned one other time in my life and this one is definitely worse than that one.

on the upside, we have 8 more instructional days left--really 7 1/3, if you consider that Friday all the 11th-graders are gone.

cue the mountain goats' "this year."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

new earth day goal

visit all these countries:

so far, i have the u.s. so 1 down, 16 to go.

Friday, April 3, 2009

rights we will maintain

I know this blog is quickly turning into me reflecting about places I've lived, but I have to write about my favorite shining star of radicalism today. I think a lot of this year--from the long drive home during Gustav to the presidential election to grappling with prejudices at my all-white rural Louisiana school--has involved thinking about where I'm from and realizing that, yes, it is Iowa and yes, I really am from there in a deep way. It's funny that so many of the values I thought I formed in opposition to the place I grew up were actually formed by that place. And if there was ever a day when the things we see in a glass darkly resolve into seeing face to face, today is it. Obviously I support gay rights 100% and am incredibly excited by the Varnum v. Brien ruling because it means we've made one more state's worth of progress. And I'm obviously thrilled that my gay and lesbian friends back home will now be able to have weddings in the parks and museums and even churches that composed the backdrop of our childhood.

But this also means so much to me for how Iowa it all is. I haven't read the entire opinion, but from what I've seen it's so remarkably even-handed and diplomatic while also accepting nothing short of equality: it was a unanimous decision that clearly rejected even civil unions as an alternative, yet someone unfamiliar with Midwestern politeness might at first interpret its tone as compromising. And right after it came out, the head of the Iowa House and the head of the State Senate issued a joint statement that placed the decision in the context of Iowa's pioneering moves in the abolition of slavery, women's rights, and racial integration. It also included this choice line: "When all is said and done, we believe the only lasting question about today’s events will be why it took us so long. It is a tough question to answer because treating everyone fairly is really a matter of Iowa common sense and Iowa common decency. "

Iowa common sense and Iowa common decency. It could easily be a laugh line from Fargo or A Prairie Home Companion were it not so applicable in this situation. Best of all, though, was this simple article in the Des Moines Register whose earlier title, "Judges, registrar all did their jobs," cast it as a typical piece of small-town non-news along the lines of "Local man loves wife, family." Everything about it is so hilariously and touchingly Iowan: a guy named Hansen writing about a guy named Hanson; the comment that Hanson (the district judge who originally rules about gay marriage) "is an active Methodist," but "would never call himself an activist judge"; and the rather dull, self-satisfied conclusion that "it's a good system when you stop and think about it."

It's comments like that last line that used to make me crazy as a high school student in Iowa who insisted, in so many ways, that it--whatever it was--wasn't a good system at all. They infuriated me in the same way that terming a mix of snow, sleet, and rain "wintry mix" did: the relentless yet dull positivity, the reluctance either to complain or rejoice, the dedication to simple acceptance. But I guess it just took this time to stop and think about it. And I suppose it isn't such a bad system after all.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cape Escape

I miss New England, and one of the aspects I miss most is central to this "Escape": the silence. At certain times in fall and spring, there's this sharp, clear coldness to the air that doesn't so much muffle conversations or shuffling over leaves but distinguishes them, sets them apart so as to draw attention to what exceptions they are. Here, quiet is like a blanket, the siesta stillness that settles over the Marigny in the afternoon, the spaces between the shade of the live oaks on my street. There, it's like glass, not opaque, barely present, but hard and impenetrable nonetheless.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I am hungry and had planned to go out into the world and buy a snack since I have my planning period right now, but it's raining. What to do?

new favorite wikipedia category

Monday, February 2, 2009

sick day

Right now I'm watching the world go by from my bed, with everything filtered through the leafy oak tree just outside one of my three huge sash windows, which is a nice alternative to the vantage point of my classroom. I came down with some terrible disease over the weekend, so even though I feel much better today, I'm taking it to recover.

According to Dan C., he misses my blog. I miss my blog too. I've just been doing everything at such an intense pace over these past few months that I haven't had so much time for it. But for some weird reason the fact that it's now February makes me feel much better about everything, even though February didn't do so well in my ranking of months. This time around, it seems so manageable: thanks to today, I have this 4-day week, then a single 5-day week, then hopefully D. coming to visit, then a 4-day week in terms of having students (the 16th is professional development), then Mardi Gras and K., then a 2-day week. And March is our last real month of school, what with GEE testing and spring break in April and exams in May. I remember when I thought I wouldn't survive this year, both back in September and yesterday on Saturday in the throes of my illness. I guess I will.

Currently reading Tolstoy's A Confession thanks to D., still pressing through Underworld and Ada, or Ardor, and leafing through an article on competitive Scrabble in the New Yorker from a couple of weeks ago, but probably most importantly reflecting on The Moviegoer since it's Carnival season and I'm in New Orleans. From the narrator's final train of thought before the Epilogue, on a black man he's just seen emerge from church on Ash Wednesday:

"His forehead is an ambiguous sienna color and pied: it is impossible to be sure that he received ashes. When he gets in his Mercury, he does not leave immediately but sits looking down at something on the seat beside him. A sample case? An insurance manual? I watch him closely in the rear-view mirror. It is impossible to say why he is here. Is it part and parcel of the complex business of coming up in the world? Or is it because he believes that God himself is present here at the corner of Elysian Fields and Bons Enfants? Or is he here for both reasons: through some dazzling trick of grace, coming for the one and receiving the other as God's own importunate bonus?
"It is impossible to say."