Memories through music (inspired by another slicer's post)
1. She's So Unusual was the first tape I bought with my own money. I was at the drug store, spinning the tape display (is this even a real memory? What a weird way to sell tapes). I knew "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" but when I found the tape and saw Cyndi's funky outfit and riot hair, I knew in my rebellious 4th grade heart this was the music for me.
2. I moved to the Hudson Valley and would listen to Vassar's student radio station. I had never heard music like this in Michigan. From The Pixies to Wynton Marsalis (who I saw in my first concert on the Vassar campus chapel) I loved it all. Listening to college radio made me feel cool and sophisticated. I believed my taste in music elevated me above the other 8th graders of Wappinger's Falls and even above those of Fishkill (I swear--these are the real names of the towns). I tried to cultivate my air of hipster music knowledge (I still do, a bit. It's hard to let go of that).
3. Does everyone, at every age go through a phase where they listen to Led Zeppelin since there has been a Led Zeppelin? Back in Michigan, I listened to classic rock with all the other 12th graders, my hipster musical pretensions sensibly covered up for the sake of conformity. I would skip school and spending the whole afternoon sprawled across my friend's sofa listening to Led Zeppelin IV. I actually would still love to have four hours to spend with that friend and that album, doing nothing but listening and laughing. It is not as likely to happen now since we both have jobs and our families would eventually expect us to start making dinner.
Another blogger wrote a post that ended with the line, "tiny pockets of the day hold the most goodness." I love every cute move of that sentence, and as a gratitude and appreciation, her are the some of the tiny pockets of today.
Touching my dog's soft, sleeping body to wake him up for breakfast. He can no longer hear over the whirr of my son's fan, but he woke up happy and grateful for my face and food in his bowl.
Hearing snickers from around the room as we are reading The Importance of Being Earnest. I dress up the text and present it to them on a salver, hoping for just that thing to happen.
Swarms of baby insects on my walk home. In March? in Michigan? When snow still hides under that old blanket of leaves? Brushing them away and smiling.
My son, "We got our Yearbook pictures taken today. Leaping out."
"Awww. I can't believe it. It seems like you just leaped into Kindergarten."
"Yeah. I guess I don't have to go to school tomorrow. I already leaped out sooo..."
Mischievous 8th grade boy laughing. Can't be sentimental for more than a second.
Talking with my husband over a puzzle. Angling my story to make him laugh. He hands me a piece, lets me connect the sections. Our words slip and click into place.
Today at my professional development, we wrote about a time where we felt empowered.
When I was in high school, my friend "ran away" from home and lived with me and my family for about a week. She was a work friend, didn't go to my school, and we hadn't know each other that long. I admired her sense of humor and the confident way she floated around her big, glamorous group of friends. I felt lucky that she picked my house.
One day, while she was at her boyfriend's, I picked up the diary she left near my bed and, somehow, convinced myself it would be fine if I read her private thoughts. Maybe I was looking for information about myself (probably). What I found were poems. Pages of poems that rhymed. Lots about the boyfriend. I knew, suddenly and with weird certainty, that I could write too.
I started with a teeny tiny notebook, and I wrote about teeny tiny topics: descriptions of sunlight the hayfield, a haiku about my crush's freckled lip. Ideas that were easy to hide.
Several years later, I lived with that same friend, and we would regularly read work each other from our notebooks. My friend told me my poems were "like acid" and I felt hugely flattered.
My writing soon grew out of that baby notebook and spread messily all over notebooks that followed me from apartment to apartment, stories in Word documents, essays on floppy disks and hard drives. Feeling empowered to write is one of the biggest gifts and pleasures in my life, and is the reason I am a teacher today.
I'm reading Ben Lerner's book The Topeka School and there is a reoccurring idea in the text called "the spread," a linguistic device used by high school debaters in a policy debate to overwhelm their opponents with information that they won't have time to rebut. There is a beautiful line late in the book: "But there are no grown ups, that's what you must grow up to know fully; your parents were just two bodies experiencing the landscape and weather....cutting profound truths with their opposites as the regimes of meaning collapse into the spread" (226).
Two ideas about the regimes of meaning collapsing under the spread--
1. I thought age and experience brought certainty. (Maybe it does for some people, but not for me--see, an example). Instead, as my knowledge and experience compound, I get lost in the spread of facts and experiences. This is especially happening at school where, after 17 years of teaching, I have accumulated so many different techniques, projects, passions and ideas the hard part is just shifting through it all.
2. The spread is also the internet (obviously). Waves after waves of little bits of information until truth doesn't seem knowable or even objective.
3. The Topeka School is so much a book for me that I feel like it was a book written for me. I want to write the author a letter and call him Ben and talk about growing up in the 90s and how language makes and simultaneously obscures our identities, how everything feels like the spread when you are in your 40s and decades of songs, phrases words and sounds vie for space in your head.
If you read it, tell me what you thought.
On deciding to respond to a political post on Facebook
It's so tempting. The post is hanging there, maybe a link to an "news" article. My teacher brain turns on and thinks I can explain to a 44 year-old-person I drank with in high school how to find unbiased sources, how to read sources. I think if I just write my post reasonably enough, I will make some sort of connection with someone I disagree with.
Of course, it does not work. They miss my point, or ignore my post. I feel the pain of signal given/signal not received: not being recognized or acknowledged.
Is it worth it to try? I would normally say no, but here is a reason I may be wrong.
It's important to talk respectfully to people we disagree with. The political rhetoric right now is so harsh that it is not uncommon to read someone of a different viewpoint being labeled as evil. It's clear that party leaders are using this kind of rhetoric to drum up enthusiasm, but it is at the expense of our society, of being able to compromise and work together. I don't want to shy away from trying to have a conversation between two humans who are not evil, just disagree. Maybe we can change the channel one conversation at a time.
Is Facebook the right place for this conversation? Maybe. Maybe not. I guess I will wait for the next post.