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So I'm making things. And selling them. So far, just some of the baby hats that I already had around from when I was selling them like crazy last year. I decided that instead of trekking around pitching my wares at local shops I'd just go directly on Etsy, which is a nice community of people and their handmade objects.
So stop by my little shop, and bookmark it. I'm working on some nice things using traditional techniques in modern ways. Some feltmaking, embroidery, and other needlework.
There's something oddly comforting about these traditionally womanly arts. I pretty much grew up under my mother's sewing machine, and scraps of fabric were my favorite toys. (When I wasn't playing with vegetable peels in the kitchen sink, that is.) These are wonderful memories for me.
During our long afternoons at home, my favorite lunch was grilled cheese. My mother made the sandwiches in the waffle iron, and we would sit at the table and eat them together. Whatever kind of cheese it was would stretch as we bit into the crispy hot gooey sandwiches. I can still remember laughing together about that. I can see my mother's perfectly bright-red mouth laughing as though every time were the first time we discovered the joys of "stretchy cheese sandwiches."
You guys know how to burn it down and I love it! I really appreciate our friendships and having a safe place to let go!
This message I got recently says a lot about one of the things I do like about living where I am now. The safety of friends … and the anonymity of a fairly large city. These have been important for me.
I think a lot about what my role will be in a small town. And in a position of leadership that will surely extend beyond my classroom. That kind of life — under the public microscope — has never been my strong suit. I live an ethical and moral life; but I do live it on my own terms. And even here I’ve been judged for it.
I know that I’ll always be “from away” no matter how long I might stay in Mississippi so I suppose there’s an expectation that I will be different from others in my town. But being a teacher is an extremely public job, and it’s a role I take seriously. But it’s also crucial to my sanity to have a safe group, a safe place where there’s a free exchange of ideas and uncensored feelings.
Maybe I should start practicing now.
My friend Geoff knows a lot about fear. But what he knows even more about is how to tame and maybe conquer it. And for what he has helped me learn about that, I will always be grateful — and think of him often. I miss his wisdom and frequent talks. Discovering recently that he's living the questions yet again has given me a new perspective on my own little situation.
I never thought I would be this fearless. I did think that the whole movingtomississippinotknowingwhereorwhatcomesnextwheni'm50something deal was pretty much on the edge of the voluntary abyss for me, but now: Literally not knowing how I'm going to keep myself for the next year is kind of out there, too. My usual response to chaos and stress is to immediately rein in all the practical details and get into serious planning mode. But for some reason I'm leaving that to chance this time and am content to know very little about the practical parts.
When I'm asked, "How are you going to live?" by concerned friends, my frequent response is, "Consciously," rather than the expected outline of how I will earn money or pay my bills. The thing is, it's working. The less I expect, the more comes along, and I have complete faith that it will just keep going that way day by day. I suspect the key to this is that so much useful energy is freed up, that I'm able to channel it productively in what feels like an effortless manner.
I remember having a discussion with someone years ago when we were both concerned about our futures. In the course of talking we developed a metaphor for our lives of driving along a road (OK, not so original, but wait: There's more.) You know, when you're driving along you don't really need to be able to see the whole road ahead of you all the way to the destination. Just the part that gets you through the next curve — or even just the bit that's illuminated by the headlamps.
I’m minutes away from the close of my last day at work. Instead of feeling like an ending it really does feel like a beginning. And I think that’s a good sign.
So, here’s the tune:
There you go AstroBoy,
On your flight into space.
Rocket high, Through the sky,
More adventures to do all day.
AstroBoy bombs away,
On your mission today.
There’s a count-down, And a blast-off.
Every day is go AstroBoy!
Well, as long as I don't really have to work a real job for a while, I decided I could spend some time in places I like. One of those places is Misha's Coffee in Alexandria. And guess what! The whiteboard said "Misha's is hiring. Ask for an application." Not being one to disobey, I did just that.
Here is the application in its entirety, with its usage, spelling, and whatnot intact:
FULL-TIME OR PART-TIME?
Think about a productive activity at which you excel: qustion why you do it, why you excel at it, and how you know that you excel at it; question
wahtwhat your bearing towards this activity tells you about the essence of "good work" and the essence of "working well." Write a unified coherent essay regarding these four questions.
This explains a lot about Misha's.
Each month in the magazine I work for we run a short essay under the heading of “First Person.” Sometimes it’s a reflection by the writer on one of our major stories, or it might be a rumination on some timely topic of the day. Kathleen wrote about her 6-year-old son’s school cafeteria choices to accompany her cover story about school nutrition.
Since the June issue is my last, my editor suggested that I write a little farewell essay. (I’m proud to say her only edit was the addition of a single comma.) The front matter of the magazine isn’t included in our online version, so here it is: my farewell in 300 words or less, with its accompanying photo…
GOING TO COTTON
You probably haven’t read my name in this magazine before, unless you happened to see it in 7-point type as an occasional photo credit. But as art director and production manager, I’ve had a hand in the look and style of each page of ASBJ you’ve read for nearly two decades. That will be changing next month as I leave the world of publishing and prepare to join the Mississippi Teacher Corps, where I will teach English in a critical-needs high school in the Mississippi Delta.
I know the work I’ve done here has helped school districts in many ways, but I know, too, that policy alone cannot reach far enough into the deepest pockets of poverty and inequality so many rural and Southern school systems face. I’ve had the chance to spend a lot of time in all sorts of schools as I’ve traveled with ASBJ’s writers to photograph their stories. From an adult-education initiative in Pointe Coupee, La., to an ESL program for migrant children in Indio, Calif., or a “last chance” high school in Southside Boston, I’ve spoken with and documented the efforts of teachers in dozens of schools where they struggle every day to make a difference in the lives of the children most often forgotten or discounted.
One of worst forms of prejudice that threatens impoverished students is that of those in power who simply throw up their hands in defeat against what they believe is an unsolvable institutionalized problem. And it is, in fact, unsolvable from afar. But from within, and through the efforts of everyday educators, change can happen.
I won’t change the world … but one of my students just might.
Art Director and Production Manager