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Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Subject:word currencies
Time:2:31 pm.
it has been forever since i've posted, which i attribute to financial hardship but raised self-esteem, dad's heart attack and my subsequent journey to take better care of myself. i will never stop writing, but sometimes i withdraw; it tends to be in the hardest of times that i practice life with just myself.

fourth year of teaching and i love what i do so much, it has truly breathed youth culture back into me and i love the vibrancy i see around me in the Bronx; i also want to be a writer, again. which means that i want to put more effort into revision, into the possibility of publishing my words, in a way that i gave up on when i was 19. "giving up" isn't the right word, though. i made choices. deliberate choices, because i want to teach others how to use their voicebox, in writing AND in speaking, and i had to learn how to speak first. i also took the publishing process into my own hands, and traded words with others - b/c that was the only currency i've ever been interested in.

as i grow older, i am starting to see how linear my choices have been, even though i couldn't see the connections at the time. i wasn't idling in time, i was diversifying my skillset, learning to do what i was not good at: perform. i am a page-poet, not a slam poet. i needed to learn intensity in my voice, daggers in my adjectives, all of this.

so i've decided that i'm going to publish again. with that in mind, here's a new poem i'm working on. feedback, as always, is encouraged and appreciated.


The size of This

I have been cresting
the crust of the earth,
peering into volcanoes,
trying to find you,
circumnavigating the city
to locate the coordinates
of your breath,

I am charting new territories
in dangerous waters
to wield your weapons. I lost
my compass, but kept walking
toward the sun.

You surprised my eyes
out of their sockets.
ninja-quiet in your ability
to hunt me down,
reel me in like red snapper,
memorize my phone number
and my rising sign between
your fingers, you opened up
a new avenue for being.

You have been a spring cruise
in a '61 lincoln converitble,
suicide doors.
I want just 5 more miles,
ten more minutes
to praise your name like worship.

Let the wind lift us
from this earthbound tragedy
and move us together,
beyond bold borders,
crossing countries,
bulldozing boundaries.

If you're lucky, these walls
might just melt themselves
into a foundation. I might
just build a house myself,
open the front door on
a brisk October evening,
and let you in.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Subject:make a mantra, snap a curse
Time:5:40 pm.
so, i am in the summer habit of project-making, which has consisted of my sketchbook, making earring holders out of picture frames, jewelry making and editing someone's book. i have written more in the way of editing someone else's writing than i have on my own, but i still have half of summer to go, and there has been much to write about. it has been a heat wave and a heart-wrencher so far, but i am having faith that keeping a positive attitude and keeping busy will start the healing process. i have been chanting and cleansing, trying to start clean in 30 and realizing that sometimes bad things happen to good people - but it's no reason to lose faith. just to step back, regain focus and keep working.

it is important to remember now that i need to count my blessings, be thankful for my breath, my health, my friends and family, and all that i do have. the rest will fall into place. hope all is well with you...

Comments: Read 2 orAdd Your Own.

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Subject:a story of friendship, loss and lessons learned.
Time:9:40 pm.
I am teaching a graphic novel called "Pedro and Me" right now, about Pedro Zamora, written by a Real World housemate and friend, Judd Winick. I teach it because homophobia is so rampant at my school, and I find myself getting upset at the blatant disrespect of who I am. Not that my students know, and I waver all the time about revealing things to them, but I don't think it's professional, and need to keep a certain distance. I am already accused of being too close, too much of a friend to my students. I will probably always get accused of that.

But really? Look at them. One of them told me, at a softball event a few weeks ago, that if everyone at BK had a teacher like me, we would really change the world. Another one comes in everyday to hang out with me after-school, even though I always have meetings and commitments. I know that I'm good at connecting with them, because I genuinely want to hear what they have to say. I really think it's as simple as that. I don't think it's magic.

Today, after Saturday school, where they argued whether or not the N-word should be banned from the English language, we went to a rally against gun violence at St. Mary's park. UP rolled deep, and I was so proud to see our youth out, speaking, connecting, talking to one another, enjoying the environment and listening to the message. I wish I was able to be there for the march!

I wore a string of beads for Emily. It has been 10 years, and I miss you. I hope your spirit looks down on us. Now, I come home to love. In spite of loss, we learn to grow and keep loving. I am learning to appreciate waking up everyday and not stressing the particulars. It will work out, somehow. I am sure. And you will be here with me, watching nascar and looking into my soul. Thank you.
Comments: Read 1 orAdd Your Own.

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Subject:december to remember event!
Time:2:43 am.
i am horrified at luxury holiday advertising this year. i can't take a breath without seeing another car commercial and without considering the financing options, plus cash back (j/k). i am loving living in harlem, with the (not-so) new Jay Z album in my ears as i take the #19 to work. living alone is the best decision i've ever made. school has been insane. it's been a press-filled year, which has been awkward, because i try never to be noticed when they come around the school with the cameras. i prefer to be behind the camera, and talk about the work that the students have done. things have been whirlwind and happening too quickly to put a name on the pulse we're following. same lo, new year. will write more about my live poets, united playaz in action against gun violence in the bx and other assorted morsels of hunts point goodness. i love: the bx, moth, mirah, spirulina, amelyon, jose-lyn, BKHS, bell, 145th street, rebel diaz, invincible, detroit. the smartest thing i've heard this week was a mother speaking to young people, telling them that she had "graduated from my circumstances". genius.

oh, and i'm in love. here's my first attempt at a poem for him. still working, title marinating.

how perfect that
the words wrought
from this endless yes
are unread. 
this heat that ignites
under my soul and
inside of my bones.
the way you make
my system shift.
the way you are.

this is the 2nd time
that a 2nd person
has dominated my 
line, my rhyme, 
my restless mind.
you are resonating
in my being.
you are finding 
that neural pathways
firmly remember 

i believe that we
are destined to love
the people who
challenge us most.
who won't hear 
my poems, but will
have books of their
own codes written
in sand, in stone.
Comments: Read 1 orAdd Your Own.

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Subject:LPS at the Allied Media Conference.
Time:1:58 pm.
Mood: artistic.
Wow, so it's been so long since I've posted that I didn't even begin discussing the major project of my year, which is a lil endeavor called The Live Poets Society - http://livepoetssocietybx.ning.com. This is a collective of youth and community members in the South Bronx who are working on getting our voices heard, through the publication of what I like to call a "digital zine". It's a website, really, but in true zine style, it's multimedia and intent on creating an audience for dialogue. It started off being a place to publish poems, but extended to rhymes, beatmaking, video and photography from my students...

Last week, we took a trip from the Bronx to the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, to present a workshop on creating this digital zine... we have created a really successful community that is youth-led and leadership-focused, and tried to harness skills that they have in order to hone in on creative careers involving media production. Some of them are poets, artists, dancers, MCs, beatminers, and some of them like to do the behind-the-scenes work to organize and put on a workshop -- but all of my students impressed the hell out of everyone they met in Detroit. We had a monumental trip that none of us will ever forget.

There are way too many highlights to list, but catch some of our photos and videos documenting the trip on the site. I was beaming with pride at the sophisticated way in which they handled themselves and showed such a curiosity and vibrancy for learning new media skills. These kids truly astound me and have far exceeded my expectations. I know that they will be successful in life, and I think that they're starting to envision the options and paths that they can take in order to live a life that they want. Just because they are not expected to succeed, just because society wants to see them remain in the ghetto in which they grew up (in gangs, in jail or 6 feet under) does not mean that they cannot fight their way out of it. It is a struggle, but it's one that I know they're prepared for and ready to take on.

Here's a Detroit poem I'm working on. It meant so much to me to be able to introduce my students to my family and my city. I know that our discussions about connecting the two cities and the roses that grow from concrete are only beginning. Much love...




the motor city's burning
and i invite you there
to sweep up the ashes
and then build a bonfire
in front of the train station.
my voodoo nation.

we will drive down woodward,
grand river, livernois,
michigan ave, wyoming,
we will be own our
construction, we will
plant roots in parks
that are still empty lots.

i see the brightest future
from the bleakest frames
on the busted fire
with the boldest flames.
don't be ashamed of
the testimony that
says we hold strong.

we grow despite concrete
overflow in our veins.
we grow through the
blizzards of soul
and sediment. we grow
from the fallow dirt
and shallow seed.

there is something
about the aftermath
of industrial loss.
the way we have to start
from nothing, and will still
find a way to prosper.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Subject:new muse
Time:12:43 am.
Mood: cold.
a new muse has impacted my daily. i'm working on a new writing project, putting poems to beats and i read at a United Playaz fundraiser at the Bruckner on Saturday. it feels really good to be working on creative projects for me, especially in a year when i don't keep much energy for myself. inspiration has been dripping from my fingers. here's a poem in progress (before line breaks, even! you know that's a rough rough draft).


there is a science to your style, a slow rewind in your smile, an open space where the elements of this earth pull open. we are rock solid in our language, a beautiful brave presence, forever fierce in all essence, there is fire and flood in every syllable you speak. we wreak havoc each time we exhale, a place where we begin. this is star-crossed in the present. we are time machines.


night night. more to come soon. 2nd semester starts tomorrow, and i head in feeling a little under the weather.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Subject:the last day of vacation: crunch time.
Time:11:50 pm.
productive day! and it wasn't even stressful. i had a mini-internal freak-out this morning when O asked what i was thinking about, but despite that, today i have:

- completed the HS2 recommendation forms for my students.
- made a january 2009 "room 318 newsletter".
- called TSkillz's mom to tell her how wonderful her son is.
- figured out the point scale for MP3 and how the semester grade will calculate.
- entered my MP3 grades on new grids.
- figured out the "everybody hates basketball" lesson for Tuesday.
- figured out a T-chart for tomorrow's ABC reading.

i have yet to:
- design a new seating chart.
- final project for the unit?!?! aye. still working, and supposed to present it tomorrow.
- make progress reports.
- finish/photocopy the all about me zine.

but still, it feels like a productive day. i always work well under a deadline. listening to US muziq, O being creative in the other room. work days at home that are actually productive? genius! i could've used three more of these days to be ready for tomorrow, but i have had excellent times and plenty of rest. i even forgot i had a job at one point during this vacation. but, i miss those kids and they're AIMing me about how they're bored and ready to be back, lol.

happy sunny sunday to you. i feel a beautiful synergy, like this year may be the fruits of my labor. it may be a year for juice yet. we'll see...

Comments: Read 2 orAdd Your Own.

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Subject:on remaining neutral in school.
Time:1:34 am.
a video i showed my kids last tuesday. so freakin cute.

(a response to mystic's myspace blog. she organizes with a group called "respect my vote" which looks to mobilize people to vote, but not under a party. encourages folks to educate themselves on every proposal, the issues at hand. www.myspace.com/thatgirlmystic - check her music while you're there.)

as a teacher, i am told that i cannot profess my political views to my students, which at first was difficult for me, but i realize the incredible influence that i do have on my 9th graders. we can have union-sponsored posters in the office, but cannot wear buttons, shirts, or talk to our students about our vote. i do not wish to persuade them (or to disagree with their parents' views), rather to get them to critically think about themselves as humans in a global context. even though they cannot yet vote, when they are able to, i want them to dive into the issues and consider their vote carefully, not approach it uninformed (checking democrat all the way down, taking a guess on the proposals -- so many people do this in the booth). my silence on my personal convictions actually opened up my classroom for a wonderful debate, in which they asked each other very real questions about WHY their family members were backing obama ("let's ask deeper questions than the color of his skin -- does that automatically mean he's going to 'save' us? what does he actually believe?", asked A., the earnest urgency of his question silencing the room) and talked about their disbelief in democracy -- or our country as a democracy. we discussed the power of a vote, despite stolen elections of past, especially in the South Bronx, where it seems to so many like there is no way out and it's not worth trying. it's hard to change things alone, and it takes a long time, but building a sustainable community, working for it daily and seeing progress brings hope. i talked about the importance of voting in local elections, too. how much more directly those decisions matter.

i asked them to think about what they know about me, who they knew me to be, and then asked them to think about who i was voting for. 75% said obama. but i agree with you - i don't believe that his election will mean reparations, an immediate return of civil liberties, immediate withdrawal from Iraq. it's important to hold him accountable if he wins on tuesday. but he has my support, and i do see an opportunity for change in his election. at the same time, it upsets me to hear folks supporting him like a fad, like the hot new album dropping, without question.

i very much respect your decision to encourage voting in this way, and thanks also for your thoughts on your personal vote. i agree, the real work comes in our daily lives, and how we live out who we say we are, but this too is an important time... it was you who said "we all scream for silence when the hopelessness gets too loud." in the bronx, the hopelessness is deafening. the past eight years have been a collapsed lung for this country, but i believe in better days.

Comments: Add Your Own.

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

Subject:pass - fail - swagger
Time:9:27 am.
Mood: accomplished.
My students can't get over "Swagger Like Us". It's their ringtone, they try to get me to play it everyday for our freewrite. I love MIA's "Paper Planes", where the beat came from, and think that TI's verse is live, but damn... weezy, jigga, ye and MIA together? Sick. I love to hate Weezy, but he's the language my students speak. When asking them to make a list of the top 10 songs of all time this week, I should've just had them list the track list to 'The Carter 3", because that's what they did. Though J did surprise me by listing New Edition, and B loves Prince's "Purple Rain"!! They always surprise me.

I despise failing students. I try to find ways to have them pass, work out deals and make-up assignments, I aim to advocate for their success. This morning, as i'm sitting down with the mountain of paperwork, late assignments turned in last-minute to raise their grades, I have to come to terms with the fact that some of them will not pass. We have already had a few conversations about how high school is the time when they need to take responsibility for their education, when the work becomes on them.

I refuse to pander to them by incessantly bugging them about turning in missing assignments. I don’t feel that coddling them will produce independent, self-reliant thinkers and learners. But I understand that they just "clock-out" of school like a factory worker does at work and don't think about it again until the morning. I used to do that, too. Coming from a working class family, I had to train myself to do homework, so I'm starting off slow with them. It’s just difficult when it comes down to the end of the marking period and they don’t realize how their choices are affecting their grades. It’s all about making connections and this is an area that we need to work on together.

As I’m chatting with S on AIM about how she still has assignments to turn in, I am trying to take stock of the ways in which I put myself out there to assist them. Sometimes, it’s pretty unconventional, like having them be friends with me on myspace and giving them my AIM screenname. Let me be clear, they’re friends with my teacher page (www.myspace.com/msfardig) and I don’t just chat with them on AIM about anything, I keep it related to school. I've set up two weeknights a week where I am online from 6-8pm so they can ask me homework/paper questions while they're working. I also call home to parents A LOT, not only when they are acting out, but also when they’re excelling in my class. I keep my room open before school and during lunch for kids to come in and eat/do work. They're starting to be there all the time, already.

There’s a lot more that I can do, it’s just a question of finding balance and time. Thinking about how I can make my own practice better and more effective to assist them in becoming more responsible students. Organizing and reorganizing what I do and how I do, all of the time.

Outside of work, what’s going on with me? Not a whole helluva lot. I’m sad that I don’t make it to Brooklyn very often, and feel incredibly disconnected from a lot of people. We all get so busy, and we’re all tired and just want to rest sometimes, but it is truly unfortunate that proximity really does dictate how often you see people. I don’t take it personally and you shouldn’t either – I am sending all the love in my heart to my BK world. I plead with you to meet me halfway sometime and take an adventure up to the BX every once in awhile, it’s truly a magical place on 134th.

But don’t worry about me, I’m meeting all sorts of new people who blow my mind with their talent, their passion, their progress. I am truly astounded at what my life has become. It feels unreal to be doing this on the daily, to spring awake at 6am ready to go. I just would like to incorporate the old friends into the new world, thas all. Happy weekend! I’ll be grading, holla at me!


soundtrack to grading:
US muziq - secret agents
mystic - west coast
2pac - i wonder if heaven got a ghetto
TI/weezy/kanye/MIA - swagger like us
talib kweli - get by
binary star - evolution of man
athletic mic league - hurts so good remix
dawn penn - no no no
7 chakraz - gnarlton heston
the nobodies - mute (lyrics by me!!!!)
elvis presley - suspicious minds
bel biv devoe - poison
jurassic 5 - quality control
Comments: Read 1 orAdd Your Own.

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Subject:zines in the classroom.
Time:3:03 am.
Mood: nerdy.
so, i got to make my first real zine in a classroom with my students this summer. i wrote a unit plan for it last year in school, but my eventual idea is to do digital photography and video work to make a digital production. what's amazing is that in having few supplies this summer, i rekindled my love for the cut n' paste. finished a zine that showcases some of their summer writing and their style, in just 3 days!

i told the students in the beginning of the summer that they would be published authors before they went back to school. though i didn't get to get the copies finished in time for the last day on thursday (ahh, technological difficulties with the copier, it was so upsetting!), i figure that it's cool that they will receive them in the mail. with a letter from me, just like the old days.

on my first day off after the program was over, after the hugs and the "i'll miss you, miss", after they gave me a grade of A for coming in to teach them even with my injury, i started putting together my documentation of our time together. now, instead of making zines, i make scrapbooks called portfolios, to graph and chart our ascension. but i collage pages and make it my own. my zines are becoming books now, and i am itching to share so many words with you.

i have been craving my previous love of writing letters. unfortunately, i've become a horrible correspondent and can't seem to mail things faithfully. but in efforts to get students writing, blogging and communicating with other students their age, i swear i'm going to pick up the pen. i promise to put it to a sheet of looseleaf paper, get it in the envelope, and most importantly, get that envelope into the blue box.

make me keep my promise.
Comments: Read 1 orAdd Your Own.

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

Subject:billowing clouds over the bronx
Time:4:41 pm.
Mood: calm.
there has been massive activity in my life, in just about every facet, since my last post. i'm currently sitting in my apartment, leg elevated (i'll get to that later) and staring out onto a gorgeous saturday afternoon, the cumulonimbus clouds billowing over the south bronx and harlem river. i woke up to a wonderful breakfast made by my temporary roommates, jon and mina, who have become a major part of my life because of close proximity, but will hopefully remain close when i move next week.

i've been teaching this summer with an organization called ASPIRA (www.aspira.org), and my 6 week program is ending next week, which makes me incredibly sad. my students are bright, unique and have a very strong sense of self. most of them are not afraid of standing out in a crowd, in fact, they aspire toward their own individuality. luckily, about half of them will continue being my students in the fall, and i hope that i get to keep in touch with some other ones, too. the program is designed to help students make the transition into high school, so i've been focusing on concrete reading, writing and study skills that will help them next year. next week, we're closing out the semester by choosing a piece of writing and making a zine together. each student gets to create a page of their own, and i'm quite excited about it, even though it'll be a lot of work in the next few days.

my summer sublet, at this building called the clocktower in the south south bronx, has been wonderful. i'm subletting from one of my coworkers, a math teacher at banana kelly named annie. we joke and call ourselves the pod people, because each person has a "living/chill out pod" and a "sleep pod", situated one on top of the other. we climb up to the top to sleep. or at least i did, until last weekend, i realized too late that i have a poorly constructed ladder, when i climbed up and one of the rungs broke, causing me to fall. when the rung broke off, the two screws holding the rung in place were exposed, and dug into my leg. there was a deluge of blood (i've written a short story about it and there's a play-by-play account on my myspace blog -- www.myspace.com/lolosita). mina took me to the ER where they gave me 33 stitches in my leg.

i am incredibly exhausted from this week of healing, even though movement has been minimal. i had to teach this week, but my boss was incredibly nice and actually came to pick me up and drop me off at home each day. they moved my classroom so that i could more easily access it on crutches. other than going to work, i have been here, looking out on the world like a modern rapunzel in my 5th floor apartment, wondering what it would be like to experience the gorgeous weather outside.

other than this small snafu, life has been incredibly beautiful, though. my heart feels full and content. i have seen so many great friends since i've been back in the city and i'm learning the bronx, too. i just signed a lease on a wonderful new apartment with some friends from detroit and i'm so excited to begin teaching in my first real classroom in the fall. i'm busily planning, thinking and re-thinking my unit plans and can't wait for the first day of school, even though i know it's going to be a lot of work.

just wanted to give an update. hope all is well with you, too. and now, to take a cat nap in the sun.
enjoy your weekend!!

Comments: Read 1 orAdd Your Own.

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Subject:ayo, i'm tired of this technology.
Time:1:49 am.
it's my last night having this lovely lil macbook that my program gave to me. the thesis is done. school is over (i was a wreck. i cried and hugged every student so hard, no composure whatsoever) so, as i'm backing everything up one final time, posting all of the appropriate records of practice online, going through the checklist to make sure that i have every cord and adapter, i realize how addicted i've become to technology. when i'm not checking email, blogging, texting, making videos or lesson planning/researching online, what am i doing? usually on myspace, youtube, listening to new music or off with a camera somewhere, documenting some sort of event. it will be quite strange to have this absence, and will hopefully lessen my addiction to browsing through amazon to buy books "just in case i ever teach them."

anyway, i hope to get back to writing letters and writing in my paper journal more often. i aim to get packed up and start planning the logistics of the move. but teaching is changing and real world connection outside of the classroom is becoming important in my classroom. i'm talking about having my students be pen pals with students in tennessee, finally running my zine unit plan (yes!) and having them publish their own webzine, videotaping our work together (again). i embrace yet still fear what technology is doing to me. i don't want to be so instant gratification in the way i approach my life.

we were discussing this in the context of me talking about having a disposable camera around the kids that i used to babysit for. they could not get the concept that you couldn't immediately look at the photo you just took and i had to tell them about film... "and back in the day... you had to take your photos to get developed, wait a day and THEN get to look at them." they were floored that digital cameras weren't always around.

just thinkin on technology and how i hope to keep one finger on the pulse of the new world, while one foot is firmly planted in the old world, of letters and paper and books.

Comments: Add Your Own.

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Subject:Teaching Here and Abroad.
Time:2:11 pm.
This is in response to an email that a professor forwarded about a former student of his working in Rwanda. Just some thoughts on teaching, both here and abroad.

-- -- -- -- -- -- --

Thanks for forwarding that along. As someone who doesn't envision herself living in the U.S. for her entire education career, and as someone who has visited and vowed to return to eastern Africa (Kenya), I've always been interested in teaching abroad. In learning more about the British education system and how colonialism has impacted education worldwide, I do see myself occupying teaching positions much like your former student's (I didn't catch her name) that are varied in their locale as well as in their scope.

There always comes the tension in my head: do I prioritize helping students (and teachers) in this country change the way that they approach education? How long will it be until I get burned out on unruly students who don't want to learn and prove their intelligence by their wily and intricate plans to avoid learning? We'll see. I tend to cater toward those students who everyone else throws their hands up and just sends out of the room. I guess my threshold of patience is high.

I simultaneously am exhausted and exhilarated by my students in Detroit and am looking forward to my new students in New York next fall. I know that my zeal for education is long-term. The question becomes, how do I preserve my dedication so that it doesn't get eroded by cynicism, red tape and all of the outside-the-classroom drama? This, of course, is a rhetorical question. Just wanted to share my response. Thanks again, Rich!! I do hope to keep in touch on my journey.

Comments: Read 3 orAdd Your Own.

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Subject:e.e. cummings and today.
Time:10:18 am.
"to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting." - e.e. cummings


the kids are working on an essay about whether or not they believe in the inherent goodness of people, in response to reading/acting out The Diary of Anne Frank. it is incredibly sad that from the models and examples in their own lives, their responses are overwhelmingly that they believe in our natural tendency for evil.

after an inspiring discussion in ed psych last night about why we do this work that seems to be impossible (because it matters, because it is part of who i am, because i believe in small change toward larger change, and in devoting my life to activating change, because i believe in my students' ability to shape this world positively), i came here today inspired. 1st and 2nd hour was deflating, but it wasn't their fault. we had to work on an essay for the RESA people that they already did last fall, as an assessment of progress in this interval. i told daniel to move up next to me because he was having a day and he said, "my day is fine, YOU're having a day." which is true. they can read you so easily. my patience is always tried when i'm not fond of what i'm teaching.

but on a more positive note, for national poetry month i put up a fabulous bulletin board. see? and sekou... sigh. i miss my poetry mentor. good luck to the U of M boys in denver tonight -- i wish i could be there to support my brother in the NCAA frozen four.

Comments: Read 3 orAdd Your Own.

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Time:12:57 am.
Mood: exhausted.
a poem written in response to silence. while watching the NCAA finals, while mourning that i won't be at the NCAA hockey finals this weekend. i don't want to talk about it, but you know i will be routing for my brother hardcore from afar.

you've pushed all the sound
out of my mouth.
there is only
the pregnant poise
of silence between my lips.
yours have been still
eclipses of memory.
there is no touch
like the presence,
perfecting the sliver
of the moon
that beams down
a shattered slope.
you bend light with that
gaze, that glimmer
of isotopes casting
shadows on silt.
just bury me now
in my breathlessness.

Comments: Add Your Own.

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Time:4:42 pm.
Mood: contemplative.
sitting over words
very late
i have heard a kind of whispered sighing
not far
like a night wind in pines
or like the sea in the dark.
the echo of everything that has ever been spoken
still spinning its one syllable between the earth and silence.

-w.s. merwin

this quote was originally taken from the poetry in motion project on the nyc subway, merwin is a favorite of mine, though. it seems to have relevance today as every project i take on, every word i read and write seems to have significant weight. the third marking period is ending and it weighs heavily on my heart -- as the grades i give help determine whether or not students will pass this year. i want each of them to move on and be successful, i spend a lot of time communicating with them about my high expectations for them and have been focusing in the past few weeks on trying to make my personal connections with them turn into intrinsic motivation. it is perhaps the most difficult aspect of teaching.

i feel like i have three full-time jobs right now -- teaching my students obviously comes first. my work for my MA is second, but closely on its heel has also been finding a job next year. there are four major options - detroit, new york, LA and san fransisco. only time and a position teaching at a school will tell me where i'll end up. each location has so many positive influences and people drawing me there. decisions are so hard to make when you can envision yourself happy in each place.

but now back to my work. good luck to my brother's team tonight, unfortunately i can't make it to the game because i must learn how to prioritize!

much love and many echoes later,
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Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Subject:new poetry chapbook out soon!
Time:8:44 am.
it's been about 5 years since i put out a chapbook of my poems, and i realize that much of this is due to the fact that i have blogs that i update regularly, and that when i publish zines, there will be a few poems, but not a full zine of them. looking through some of the poems i've written over the past few years that haven't yet seen the light of page, i want to share them. so i'm going to be putting out a new chapbook. haven't decided on the title yet. many of the poems are teaching-themed but a few are all over the places and not at all about that, so i think i'll have to decide in the revision process. i'll let you know when it's out.

and, thinking about the poem i wrote for j. angel (please see my teacher blog - http://504fardig.blogger.com and give me some feedback, it needs lots of work), all of my students are heading elsewhere next year... and if they don't, i am. if i continue to teach 8th grade, i'm going to have a good percentage of my students leave me every year, move onto high school and continue their growth (hopefully). i'm thinking that i want to try and write a poem for each of my students every year, and give it to them in a class-chapbook (of about 30 or so), so that they can remember the year. it seems do-able having 90 students this year, i'm not sure about when i have 5 different classes and 150 students... but it's a challenge.

there are poems that i can write immediately in september, and those that i won't be able to write until may, i'm sure. i'm just thinking about it because i seem to be pretty perceptive with people and able to describe them well, yet my students surprise me all the time. i have lots of moments with each of them that i could talk about... so i'm going to embark on each of them as a project. maybe i'll publish a book of poems about my students later in life. wouldn't that be a cool way for me to remember each of them, as well?

anyway, i am truly a teacher because my body won't let me sleep in anymore (i also elected not to go out last night because i'm recovering from illness), so maybe i'll get started on that. i love inspiration on sunday mornings, listening to res on repeat. that girl will always remind me of the summer in which i met my baby mama, and her (sabrina's) diva qualities are simply on repeat in my heart. so when i miss her, res becomes my soundtrack.


(the little soundtrack thing isn't working, so i'm listening to res, "how i do", 2002, go buy the album!!)
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Friday, January 11th, 2008

Subject:first week back.
Time:4:51 pm.
Have I mentioned that I'm obsessed with my students? Just in case I haven't... I am. They are phenomenal. Sometimes bratty and obnoxious, but they're 8th graders, of course they're going to be. This was my first week back after holiday break, and I missed them. We didn't really plan that much over the break, because we don't have our new pacing chart for Spring semester yet, so it was a week of flying by the seats of our pants. But we've learned to excel at that.

We talked a lot about informal assessment as we started work on preparing for the TerraNova (yet another state assessment) and had the students on a grammar fix this week. I taught historical essays on Brown vs. Board of Ed and the Emancipation Proclamation and had them write about the impact of these decisions in American history on their lives. We played a debate game in 3rd hour on Wednesday. They chose the topic "Should Cell Phones Be Allowed in School?", wrote a persuasive editorial, then divided into 2 teams and a team of judges, deliberated to strategize for their strongest point, and then did a point and counterpoint with elected spokespeople.

It was awesome! (And the idea was suggested by one of my students.) By far the majority of the students chose to argue for cell phones, yet the team against cell phones won the debate. The power of persuasion really prevailed. They argued in a very sophisticated way. I'm such an English dork, it's ridiculous. Laughing about where to place the semi-colon today. It's sad. Our quote on the board is "There is no try, there is only do" -Yoda.

After a full Friday, I relaxed at home with soft music and slow thinking. Tonight we watched Danny and his team beat Western 6-1. It would've been 7-1 if his goal had counted and he hadn't gotten a charging penalty for going for the puck. Que sera sera. I went out for drinks with my parents and really wanted to be with my friends. Didn't make it there until one, but managed to make it all worthwhile. Need to visit my Sarah soon. Faith is running through my veins and I try to make her stay. It works, we capture a moment listening to Tree City at the Ace Deuce Skatepark Benefit... I love how urgently we tell our stories. I always want to ask people to tell me theirs.

Goodnight, moon.
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Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Subject:can i use your zine in my unit next spring?
Time:1:35 pm.
Mood: cheerful.
hey ya'll,
so i'm creating a unit plan about publishing and trying to work on my 8th graders' conception of voice and personal style in their writing. i thought, how did i get my voice? and while i've been writing for a long time, i found my style and improved my writing the most in the years that i was writing zines. so i'm going to introduce them to the genre and put out a digital zine with them, incorporating my video, audio work and their creative ideas into a great publication that they will be able to take home, share and remember their 8th grade year by.

so, i have crates and crates of zines that i want to look through and include. i'm excited that this means that my break and much of january will be spent uncovering my zine collection and sorting through it. how cool, right? and what a trip down memory lane it'll be. anyway, this is the only way that i'm still connected with many of the people that i used to trade with. if you read this, let me know if it would be okay to use some of your old work. i will be contacting everyone individually if i find your zine and think that there could be an article/essay/theme that i think my students would connect with... please know that i will not use your writing without getting approval from you as to the exact portion i want to use.

thanks for helping me out in creating an awesome unit for my students next spring!

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Monday, November 26th, 2007

Subject:(TBLGQQIA) / spectrum of queer
Time:6:56 am.

i just got an email invite to a U of M TBLGQQIA event and with so many labels to place on the tongue, it feels kind of nice (and when does a label feel nice?). i remember when it was a struggle to get the "B" in there, the "T" on the end of GLBT, and the "Q" that i most often use to identify myself was virtually unheard of. no, it's not being self-deprecating, it's trying to recognize a spectrum that goes so far beyond binaries that i don't even know how to name or talk about it sometimes, there are just moments of awe when i think about all of my long-lost lovelies and how fortunate i am to have met each and every person in my life ... i don't have such a large and diverse queer family in michigan, like i do in ny, but i am happy here, too. i just have to carve out the space sometimes in ways that i took for granted there.

so excited to return for a quick trip next month!
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