Monthly Archives: May 2006

While We Wait…

… for word from Local High School about whether or not Mrs. Chili will be an EMPLOYED teacher next year, let’s read some of her favorite poems, shall we? From the more serious to the more absurd:

You darkness, that I come from,
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes
a circle of light for everyone,
and then no one outside learns of you.

But the darkness pulls in everything:
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them!-
powers and people-

and it is possible a great energy
is moving near me.

I have faith in nights.

From the Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Robert Bly

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
Oh, no! it is an ever-fixéd mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come’
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

William Shakespeare

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Underneath wet rocks
Secret gangs of fishermen
Are dressed for dinner

Each night my father fills me with dread
When he sits on the foot of my bed;
I’d not mind that he speaks
In gibbers and squeaks
But for seventeen years he’s been dead
~Edward Gorey


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I’ve Been Tagged…

Blue tagged me.

Anyway, here we go:

I AM BLESSED: with a loving husband, two beautiful, healthy children, some AMAZING friends (you KNOW who you are), everything I need in life and pretty much everything I want, too.

I WANT: my house – finished, put together, and moved into BEFORE Christmas, dammit!

I WISH: I had more time (or better organizational skills to free up more time).

I HATE: idiots who drive like, well, idiots; ignorant and/or bigoted people.

I MISS: my kitchen. Oh, and John Candy and Gregory Hines. And sleeping in. And going to the movies without it being a major demonstration of my logistical prowess.

I FEAR: flying – not enough to keep me off the plane, but enough to make it unpleasant. And earwigs – those things are just creepy.

I HEAR: my husband and children upstairs playing Marble Blast – their new favorite game.

I WONDER: if I’ll get the job.

I REGRET: nothing. It is all (and was all) as it should be.

I AM NOT: a nature girl. Camping and general roughing it are NOT my thing.

I DANCE: in the living room with my husband, usually to either his singing or the Talking Heads. Sometimes I’ll bop a little in the car, too, but not enough to distract me into being an idiot (see above).

I SING: in the car – never in the shower – and usually to the likes of the Indigo Girls, Jonatha Brooke, and Sarah McLachlan.

I CRY: about nothing when I’m pre-menopausal. Seriously – commercials, song lyrics, greeting cards – it’s pathetic.

I AM NOT ALWAYS: patient. As a matter of fact, sometimes patience is a great effort for me.

I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: some of the most amazing food you’ve ever experienced.

I WRITE: blogs, letters, essays, journal entries, love notes in lunch boxes and the occasional poem.

I CONFUSE: stress with hunger. Let me tell you about how many M&Ms and Jelly Bellies went into the completion of my degree…

I NEED: my friends and family. Reading material. Chocolate.

I SHOULD: work on being more self-sufficient, particularly where practical matters are concerned (changing tires, that sort of thing). I should also work out more, but I’m working on that.

I START: to head “down” for the night at a ridiculously early hour – I’m usually useless by ten thirty at the latest; long, complex conversations with people whose opinions matter to me; Hunt for Red October and Matrix quote wars with my brother-in-law.

I FINISH: an entire family’s worth of laundry in one Saturday; GRAD SCHOOL!;

Thanks Blue!


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In Perfect Balance

I love Kizz.

She’s known me for going on 20 years. She makes me laugh nearly every day. Even though I don’t get to see her but once or twice a year, we “talk” almost daily via the wonder that is iChat, so I get to count her as one of my closest friends. I go to her with problems and frustrations, both personal and professional. She’s one of the first people I think to email when something wonderful or funny happens to me. Even though she is, herself, childless, I go to her for parenting advice – she’s careful and considered and can see the situations I bring to her with a scope of vision and reason that I can’t always find in the throes of whatever is happening.

Though she’ll probably protest that she can’t find it in her own life, she consistently brings balance and clarity to mine. She is one of my greatest supporters and one of my toughest and fairest critics.

I tell you all this because I received a box from the mailman today, and within was contained a perfectly balanced graduation gift from Kizz. She sent me this:

with a note that says “Something for you the teacher” and this:

with a note that says “something for you the mother.”

I have been struggling, since returning to grad school, with how to find the right combination of work and home and, in true Capital-G-Girlfriend form, Kizz has been right there with me, talking about the pros and cons of working mommyhood, encouraging me to become who I need to be outside of my role of Mommy because it’s important for my daughters to see a woman who knows who she is and has the strength and drive to become the best and most complete woman she can be.

She loves me enough to support all of me, and my gratitude is profound.


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If I Get the Job…

…and I’m not saying I WILL, but if I DO;

…I want to spend a bunch of money – maybe even my first paycheck – here.

…And I want Mbungo’s brother, Wayfarer. I shall name him Jobu and he shall be the keeper of all things lost (and confiscated) .


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In-ter-view, Num-ber Two!

I just like the way that rhyme sounded…..

Anyway, I went in for my second interview at Local High School and, I think, it went very well.

I met with three of the four people I met with last time and answered essentially the same questions as before, though in slightly more depth. I was asked a lot of questions that can only be answered hypothetically, which is one of the things I HATE about interviews (“how do you see yourself interacting with the other teachers in the department?” “Well, that depends, doesn’t it, on how I’m recieved into the department. If I notice that the teachers pretty much keep to themselves, I’m going to lay low; if the teachers enjoy working together and are outgoing and friendly, so shall I be.”) I could tell, though, that a couple of my answers really pleased one of the interviewers – he has a lousy poker face – and I think my chances at employment are good, even though I COMPLETELY forgot Wayfarer‘s advice NOT to put my sunglasses on top of my head – they were there the whole time, dammit!.

Anyway, they have two, maybe three people left to take a second look at and I was told that I could expect to hear something by the end of next week. Lucky for me next week is a busy one, what with the long weekend and TWO birthdays in my household, so waiting shouldn’t be that difficult.

As always, I’ll keep you posted. Thanks so much for your advice (even if I do space it – sorry, Wayfarer. If they pass me over, I’ll blame it on the sunglasses), support, and good wishes.


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What’s the POINT?!

I was on the phone with CT this evening. She’d had a rough day today; it seems that an afternoon meeting produced more than its fair share of frustration for her, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

CT is one of six freshman teachers in her school and, of those six, CT’s been teaching the longest (she’s working on close to 30 years in the classroom). The point of this afternoon’s meeting, as I understand it, was to discuss the content of the common final exam and to decide which materials should be included to test student knowledge of, and performance in, freshman standards.

Listening to CT tell the story, I got the impression that the other five want to be able to create a true/false, multiple-choice, fill in the blank exam. They’re not interested in student interpretation of poems or short stories or, as far as I can tell, the students’ ability to write creatively or analytically. They want right/wrong, easy to grade, checklist-type tests.

Now, perhaps I’m being idealistic when I say that this approach is, well, full of shit.

Why do we teach English in the first place? Can any of you recall the definition of “iambic pentameter?” How important, honestly, were vocabulary lists (and their corresponding tests) to your compilation of a rich and varied word bank? My point is this; you may have known this stuff while you were in the thick of high school, but how much of it carried over into REAL LIFE? Because, really, that’s what we’re educating these kids for…REAL LIFE.

I understand that there are a lot of mechancial elements of our language that kids really NEED to know in order to use the language effectively and to their best advantage. I’m also fairly sure that, unless they choose to go into a career in poetry or novel writing, they won’t need to be able to easily and accurately describe a rhyme scheme or identify enjambment. So why are these things so important to these teachers?

It seems to me that a lot of the desire for the kinds of assessments CTs department wants, and the lifeless, check-list style of teaching that accompany them, is based in fear and a lack of self confidence. Relying on a rigid, fill-in-the-blank, only-one-answer-can-be-right kind of curriculum is simply a means of sheltering teachers from taking risks and entertaining the idea that there’s more to be learned from the curriculum than A, B, and C. Opening up the possibilities, and requiring students to really think, makes for a lot more work for a teacher, too; as we invite a broader scope to our teaching, we make obsolete the easy-to-correct quizzes and tests.

What’s important, at least in MY classroom, is for kids to be able to read, write and speak eloquently, critically, and effectively. I want my students to read poetry for the language and the emotion and the imagery, not for the AB AB, BC BC rhyme scheme. I want my students to be able to take in literature as EXPERIENCE, not simply an exercise in plot explication or character sketches. I want kids to make connections between literature, poetry and their own lives that were NEVER imagined by the Boards of Education or the text book writers. I want my students to leave my classroom better able to understand others’ voices, and their own, and to be able to use those voices to better understand their world – and their place in it.

My hope – my dearest and most sincere hope – is that I can find a job where this kind of enthusaism and love is encouraged and nurtured, and not in a place where the freshman teachers get together to discuss the wording of true/false answers on a common exam.


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Thursday, 3:30

That’s when I’m meeting the school for my second interview.

I came home this evening to find that a message had been left at about 7:20. I called back and spoke to one of the interviewers – I’m guessing I called him at home – who asked me whether I’d prefer the 3:30 time slot or the 2:00 one. I told him that it didn’t matter a whit to me (both because I want him to think that I’m flexible – because I am – and, well, it really doesn’t matter a whit to me). He asked if it would be okay to put me in the 3:30 slot, but could he call me back to reschedule if the other candidate doesn’t have as much wiggle-ability as I do. SURE! See how accommodating I am? Wouldn’t I make a wonderful colleague!?

So, we’ve got to wait until Thursday afternoon to see what happens next. I’m relieved that the waiting for the phone call is over, and excited for what happens next.

I recognize that I could still not be offered the job despite all the good vibes I’ve been getting. I’m not the only person gunning for this position. I’ve been thinking about this for the last week or so, and I’m trying to decide how I feel about it. On the one hand, I’ll be profoundly disappointed. I really want to work next year. I am excited about teaching, I want to do it, I’m eager to get started. I want my own classroom with my own kids and all of my enthusiasm and love for the job. If I’m chosen for the position, I will be great at it, I just know it.

On the other hand, I’m not sure that I’d be crushed if I don’t work next year. My faith in the Universe is such that I believe that I’ll be put right where I need to be when I need to be there. It’s not as though I don’t have a ZILLION things to do around the house (the house with the addition and expanded kitchen that are still not finished). I wouldn’t be sitting around all day feeling sorry for myself. I am fortunate enough to be in a financial situation where I don’t HAVE to work.

But I WANT to.


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