Monday, August 30, 2004

Honor and Fishnets

I read the other night with Michael C. Ford. On my way up to the mic, I found out I'd been named one of the top three poets in Buffalo. (I'd link to the Artvoice, but the new PDF format is just too silly.) I'm in extraordinary company, with Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Dennis and my mentor, Sherry Robbins.

My reading of "Kali Yuga" brought the house down.

I was glad I'd dressed up.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

"You're the Man, Ms. White!" : Substitute Teaching Memories

All of my memories about subs from my own school days include two types of subs. There were the mean ones who never managed to keep anything under control. They’d spend the whole class period sending kids to the principal’s office and screaming “I am going to leave a very bad note for your teacher!” while we threw paper airplanes and said rude things and generally acted like assholes. Then there were the crazy hippyish subs. We sort of made fun of them too, but more quietly and we’d often end up doing some actual class work in-between listening to them tell weird stories that no real teacher would ever tell. I liked those subs. They collectively had a long-term impact on my way of viewing the world -- a good one."--Desert Agave

True for me, and then I got to be one of those good subs for a while at my alma mater. I miss it sometimes. It was one of the first jobs I'd had where people seemed happy to be there in the morning, where I saw that what I did on a moment-to-moment basis, even if I were just around for a day. As it happened, I subbed almost every day for about two years, because the teachers and kids both liked and respected me--no mean feat in any situation.

I liked subbing more than I figured I'd like most classroom teaching situations. I also saw, first hand, that even the smartest kids weren't always well-served in the average educational setup. I remembered how both bored and unhelped I often was in school, and how good it always was to be given the time, reign and guidance to do my own work--research, writing, thinking. (Appropriately, I went on to Hampshire, where I did indeed enjoy such.) So many things get in the way of learning.

And yet, I still miss teaching.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

"Bare Feet on the Hardwood Floor, Up late, High"

...god, how I miss Terrapin Dream.

Your Rights and You

I found this in Ro's journal and it seemed to be relevant to so many lives, I thought I'd post it here.


YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO JUDGE YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR, THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS. You are the ultimate judge of yourself. Without being the ultimate judge of our own behavior, we're powerless to control our own lives. Others control us with all the rules and "shoulds" -- the proscriptions and prescriptions. Morals are arbitrary rules people adopt to use in judging behavior. There is no absolute "right" and "wrong" moral way to behave. There are only "norms" and the personal ways each of us chooses to behave, which enrich or befoul our lives.


YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO JUDGE WHETHER YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR FINDING SOLUTIONS TO OTHER PEOPLE'S PROBLEMS. We really do not have the ability to create mental stability, well being, or happiness for someone else. Each of us must come to terms with the problems of living by learning to cope on our own. We can give advice, counsel, or just listen non-judgmentally, but people with problems have the responsibility to solve them for themselves; we cannot do it for them. Happiness comes from within each of us.

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHANGE YOUR MIND. Our interests change with conditions and the passage of time. We have choices; we grow. To be in touch with reality, to promote our own well being and happiness, we have to accept change. Changing our minds is healthy and normal.

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE MISTAKES (AND BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEM). None of us is perfect. Making errors and being responsible for them is the reality of being human. Errors are simply that- errors. We are being manipulated if we allow someone to make us feel in the wrong when we goof. Once a mistake is made, we can learn from it--but it's done. It's over. It's in the past. There's nothing we can do to "undo" it. Admit it, learn from it, and then forget it.


YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE INDEPENDENT OF THE GOODWILL OF OTHERS BEFORE COPING WITH THEM. No matter what you do or I do, someone is not going to like it. If you assume that you have to have everyone's good will before acting, you leave yourself open to be manipulated. Spouses often remove their goodwill when there is conflict. This temporary lack of goodwill is manipulative and does not mean necessarily that the marriage is on the rocks. You do not need the goodwill of others to deal with them effectively.

YOU WILL NEVER BE LOVED IF YOU CAN'T RISK BEING DISLIKED. People only remove goodwill toward you when there's a payoff to them for doing so: when you don't respond, they have lost their power over you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Spencer Tunick in Buffalo

This past weekend, along with about 1,800 others, I participated in a large installation, a nude group photograph by the artist Spencer Tunick.

The event was held at Buffalo's old Central Terminal, a train station which closed in the 60's and is yet another example of my city's broken but beautiful qualities.

Spencer worked with us (women, then men, then just the folks under age 30 and over 50) for over an hour--a nice change for him, since he often just has a few minutes to fill the street with bodies before it opens again to traffic or somesuch.

I'm not overly shy about being nude, especially when everyone else is. It was funny to me to try to keep track of the pals I came with, since I could only find them by skin tone, hair, not clothes, etc.

It was a great thing to be a part of, and I look forward to my 8x10 when it comes in December--just in time for Christmas cards!

Buffalo News story.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Is it me, for a moment? The stars are falling....

The Perseid Meteor Shower is tonight! It's a truly lovely experience, so do look up.

Another lovely experience I had recently was the viewing of The Adventures of Prince Achmed, a silent, "animated" (moving paper silhouettes) film, in nearby Arlington Park, sponsored by Squeaky Wheel.