Friday, February 26, 2010

The end

I've scheduled the end of the life-funk to coincide with the end of February. Watch out, March!

So Layla and I had a parade in which she dressed up as a unicorn, and I dressed up as a lion. Metaphorically, be it understood. My costume consisted of a penguin costume hanging from my head and I roared a lot. Instead of a crown, we fought for the green hole-plugger stick from Starbucks. It makes a great baton for a parade marshall.

Tom reminded me of this song, which I used to have memorized. The Adamses had a silly childhood. I was always afraid of the Unicorn. The Lion looks like a lion and has a human face. The Unicorn looks medicated, and he has cloven hooves. I feel a dark underbelly of bloated evil hidden by a shiny costume. However, I'm super excited about the new movie, in which every dark underbelly of bloated evil will be artfully done. And have Johnny Depp.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sing with me now:

"And if you're only half way're neither up nor down!"

Slap a label on me

See, I've been confronted with this problem. The problem of putting a label on, and campaigning on behalf of that label. Despite my visceral drawback from categorical appropriations of human beings, I wonder if the thing to do here is step in. Step waaay on in.

A group of friends and I were talking about some students we have taught here, and how their work is often dissatisfying to us as instructors because of their lack of clarity. Their inability to distill their thinking into clear statements of belief or rejection. years. Chasing one thought and then another because they all sound so right. Not yet possessing quite enough self-actualization to realize that we can call out the inaccuracies of someone else's thinking, or otherwise just acknowledge that we aren't bound to embrace the so-called experts' conclusions. Not having enough mental space to let the answers begin making themselves.

Hence--labels. Labels require you to embrace the school of thought the "experts" have stitched together. One particular label--Democrat--I am not ready to embrace. I have plenty of liberal leanings, I suppose, but I see the vagaries of accepting "Democrat" as my political identity. Since 2001, I have eaten politics like dinner. At times, the Republicans have made as much sense to me as the Democrats, but sure as soon as I get going, then I like the look of libertarianism. Then my smart voice chimes in and says but libertarianism is so worthless, like the Tea Party. But fiscal conservatism looks like a good idea so maybe...But then again, conservatism means people without health care or education...but then if people can't take personal responsibility for their own care...

Well sometimes you have to create space and sometimes you have to eliminate space to see the conclusion. Plus, I really want to stop swallowing my tail. I was approached to be "team captain" for the county I live in and conduct campaign activities for a candidate who is trying to unseat an incumbent representative. I don't have to be a card-carrying member of this party. Apparently a desire to see the incumbent unseated is enough qualification. The new guy looks pretty good, and I think he will wage a worthy campaign. But if I do the job, which looks interesting, then do I take on this label? What if he does something for which I am ashamed later? What will that say about me? What will I learn by stepping in?

Listening to: Alejandro Escovedo, "Rosalie"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Formspring post #1

What do you want to give the world?

I've never posed this question to myself. So...this is a 24-hour pass at it. When I know I've made the right decision, I depend on two key indicators to confirm that. One, my gut. If it doesn't clench then it means my body has accepted my decision and won't fight it. Two, my mind. The double-think lays down and goes to sleep. When I thought through the answer to this question, both of these checkpoints signaled their acceptance. I slept well last night.

What would I like to give the world? Add recognition and acceptance, subtract unqualified tolerance, skim off a little nostalgia, multiply by dignity, and round up to the nearest affirmation.

Professionally, I get to do this every day. A plaque on the wall of my grad school department read, "Within these hallowed halls are the future stewards of our national and cultural heritage." I go to work and take care of the material and archival evidence that human beings lived, worked, aspired, failed, loved, and fought. I devise and implement organizational systems that will keep historical information relevant, accessible, and complete. I tell stories. All day long, I tell stories. And I love to tell stories. I often wish I could have a spot on the evening news, reading a story. I would read the story Sarah Carlyle tells her Uncle George about her "dear Mamma's" passing and how she feels about taking on the management of her father's house at age 12, "which is, as yet, too much for me." We would talk about two male college students trying to heft a rather overweight (but beautiful, I am assured) woman through a window to escape the college president who was pursuing them after some infraction.

Okay, I would pretty much invent StoryCorps.

I've been thinking a lot lately about losing and gaining people. What it means to have someone in your life and then for them to be gone. Doesn't matter how, the result is often the same. Your routines alter, and you cast about looking for someone else to be "the one solid the spaces lean on. " When we are gone, where are we? Let's face it. No one really knows. When we add people, where do we put them? Do we make new spaces and categories, or can we fit them into old molds?

Museums get to do a little something about that, true. But what do I want to do about it in my non-work life? Look people in the eyes, acknowledge when they serve me in some way, and treat their contributions to my life with the respect that created beings ought to have for one another.

It pleases me that I don't know who asked this question. It frees me from manipulating the answer. I would give this to you, Asker, as I would to you, Reader.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thinking out all the ramifications of this

It's one thing for the boat to be in the water. It's another thing for the water to be in the boat. Amen?

Friday, February 5, 2010

JL Gerhardt is a good writer, and a better thinker. I recommend this post of hers:

My niece has learned a new song about the Fruits of the Spirit:
The fruit of the spirit's not a kiwi.
The fruit of the spirit's not a kiwi.
So if you wanna be a kiwi, you better hear it.
You can't be a fruit of the spirit.

The fruits of the spirit are:
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control
The fruits of the spirit are:
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

I told Layla that I was proud of her for knowing them and for being able to count them all on her fingers. And then I went home before I started crying.

Lately, I'm the kiwi.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I am heartily sick of dim lights and night time. I want bright lights, bracing winds. To be awake all the time and never sleep. To be bold and daring, chiseled, with wings and a voice that would raise the dead. To be thinking and talking. To be talked to and questioned. To be interested and interesting, in the present, able to measure the past and carry it with me. Able to charge into the future.

I can't do that under these circumstances. Fortunately, these circumstances have come to an end, which is the real meaning of the dream I had last night.