R. I. P. Land of the Free Home of the Brave

Why won’t we admit the real face of racism? The man simply wanted to kill someone and our society made this victim not only possible but likely. We the people are the anti-drug.

I salute the men of Howard for taking a stand. Check out their video on YouTube:

May grace and mercy encircle you.

Karen

Wrong And Possibly Dangerous

As I read the words of today’s blog title, taken from Julia Cameron’s discourse on the Basic Tools (to recover one’s artist), I knew they should be on a tee shirt, if not appear in the form of an embroidered motto on every piece of my wardrobe – like L & S for LaVerne and Shirley, only longer.

It sums up nearly perfectly the predominating feeling of most of my pre-Las Vegas existence. If not the feeling, at least it captures my sense of how most other people viewed me. Curious, eh? Access to these recesses has been made possible by the teaching of migrant literature, marriage to an even more unassimilated alien, and the freedom that comes of being born again. But I digress.

The intention was to write about the first meeting of Preparatory Composition, how well it went with so few in attendance and with me attempting less, accomplishing more. Our best guess is that students read the sign on the door posted about a colleague’s absence and decide it was me. It was wonderful having so few students. It almost felt as if I could actually think about and reach for each one personally. Imagine if that were the reality. What would Parker Palmer say? What would the findings of the Remedial English committee be then! If I were not so tired after my return to aquacize after a two-week absence, I’d continue this on the laptop. As it is, I’ll add this blog to my gratitude list and call it a night. Dinner’s about ready.

The Challenge As Ambassadors For Christ in Classrooms

In her devotional, Living A Divinely Inspired Life, Dr. Elizabeth Babatunde discusses 1 Thessalonians 1:8, noting:

“A life worthy of imitation is one that is surrendered to be used as a tool in the hands of God, to display His awesome power and glory.

What do people see when they see you? If someone walked in your shoes for 24 hours, what would they learn about Christ?”
1 Thessalonians 1:8 KJV:

“For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.”

See more at YouVersion.com:

http://bible.us/1Thess1.8.KJV

My present opportunity is to surrender at home as readily as I do at the College and in Adult Sunday School and let the Holy Spirit have Its unimpeded way.

As a new short semester commences, may grace and mercy encircle us as we abandon our will for Thine.

End of Semester Blues

Full of anticipation for Spring Break, I enter what I fantasize will be the last leg of the grading relay only to notice myself idly surfing the web about an hour after confirming an act of plagiarism in the first student’s paper. We are both only human.

Having shifted directions psychologically, I am now running into the wind, instead of experiencing the tailwind I’d hoped for. Must soldier on. Why does it seem to take so much out of me every time this happens? Why do I persist in the notion that kids educated in Vegas get ethics lessons along with their Three Rs? This kid from the Bronx didn’t.

Why do I continue to believe that what is written in the syllabus, is not only read and understood, but translates the very same semester into actionable knowledge? What will it take for me to allow patience to have her perfect work and appreciate in theory and in practice the great wisdom popularized by Mark Twain but earliest attributed to the timeless Sufi teacher Mulla Idris Nasrudin:

Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.

While I recover, I jot notes for the first lecture in the Preparatory Composition class that begins after break, new swimming metaphor and all. I write this blog entry in lieu of feeding the hunger that is only 30% emotional, reactive. I call my husband who today is just around the corner, wondering if he’s up for lunch, beautiful day that it is, despite the internal and dispersing clouds.

Leaning Into Spring Break

It always happens yet I cannot understand it. Every semester, in the last week or so, I begin building the assignments and activities for the next. I do it to the exclusion of everything else – sleeping and grading current students’ final submissions as well. I think it has something to do with ‘leaving for America’. Perhaps that’s a bit too convenient. Perhaps it is simply a defense mechanism to delay my encounter with this cyclical reality: I will miss my students. If ever there were a time I am reminded of my feet of clay, powerlessness over my own addiction to exhaustion, this is it.

For The Record

What is it about us morning folk who can only seem to usefully string a few words together approaching midnight when the house has grown dark and everyone else more or less fallen silent? I suppose that’s the point for writing requires getting out of the idea’s way and that only happens when we are tired enough (mostly of ourselves and our petty distractions, concerns, priorities) to let it be.

In my case, perhaps in many others’ as well, writing is more like taking dictation. To do it well, one need simply or not so simply vanish in plain sight while keeping hands and fingers relaxed and moving. What I really began to write about was how tonight, more than 20 years after the fact, I came to understand how I got one of my nicknames, Pearl. Trouble is, on the way to writing that down, the matter of voice began it’s familiar trill.

I’d just spent a day listening to British accents, my emotional, perhaps even psychological, North. First, I was riveted by Helen Mirren’s embodiment of The Tempest, and last by the inescapable jibe of, “you’re British, aren’t you”, in The Ghost Writer – set in my familiar stomping grounds of Massachusetts – but produced almost entirely elsewhere. My ears and tongue may have made peace with various ‘Merican dialects, but my writer’s heart speaks a different cadence. Of course, this explains a measure of my attachment to James Baldwin, my favorite ex-pat, and provides some cover for my lack of publications, but it represents merely the tip of the ice berg that appears to be on the verge of thawing.

Steep Learning Curve

Twenty apps later I am slowed by the recent addition of a Belkin Mini Dock charging and data sync station which has somehow interfered with my ability to use the phone as a hot spot. High winds and an early wake up call prevent me from going to retrieve the cable that came in the box. Walmart was kind enough to provide an auxiliary cable cheaper than Verizon or Best Buy. Now, all I have to figure out is how to download items from my music library!

Photos taken in class before and after the interview scavenger hunt transferred effortlessly and with better quality than former devices.

A visit with a colleague after class also netted some good apps – notably one that syncs multiple family members’ calendars and another that securely maintains passwords.

Lamentably handwriting to text apps are limited but a Verizon rep showed me not only how to organize relate apps in a single tile but a cool one for movie previews – Flixter – and a great flashlight that blasts through the camera aperture.

Next stop – truly learner-centered classrooms without walls! At least that’s where I want to go with the department’s professional development play group. We’re starting with a collaborative slideshow on Freire’s Banking Concept of Education using Prezi. From there not even the sky’s the limit!

Jesus – 1, Devil – 0

Excuse me, Ma’am, I’m no bum, he said by way of introduction, I’m just trying to get something to eat. I was in the parking lot in front of the Ross store I’d just left disgruntled. It was past midday and I hadn’t yet made it inwordpress to campus. His hair appeared to be spiked with an expensive brand of soft-touch, medium gloss, strong hold sculpting gel that probably smelled memorable up close. He wore a gray t-shirt and fashionable, stone-washed jeans. Mine was not to wonder why, nor to unleash on him the frustration that had been building since the doctor’s visit. So what, I thought to myself. So what if I appear to be on top of the world yet remained far from it. I was after all getting into a gas guzzling SUV and he appeared to be on foot though I secretly imagined his beamer parked around back and that he would give himself another hour of ‘field research on American giving habits’ before tooling back to University where his trust fund ensured the maintenance of his even tan. How could he know I needed the $10 they would not refund. Why should it matter. I gave him one of the three dollars I had in my wallet, tried to mean it when I said, Bless you, and did my best to wipe the simmering ire off my face. He was not the problem any more than the information I’d received was the problem. I was the problem as I was the one struggling with being loving and grateful regardless of the circumstance in which I found myself. I’d known yesterday, as Elder Scott was talking, that I had some growing up to do. I just hadn’t been willing to admit how much. My consolation is knowing that no matter how I feel or fare, the battle is already over and we’ve won.