Sunday, September 26, 2010


This is not the post I started with this morning, but comparing apples and oranges must wait for another time.

It is International Babylost Father's Day.

Sorry, but I do prefer Dead Baby Daddy Day. It is a bit more on the nose, and sounds less like I'm supposed to find Joel alongside my lost set of keys. (although I too am guilty of having said "when we lost Joel")

Plus, lets be honest, it sounds like the Baby-Daddy is dead, and if I had to choose...

So for all the other dads and families that struggle with the terminology of their child's short life: I hope it was at least a peaceful day.

Remember them well.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pride before the Fall / The Sound of Silence

Bill Maher's "Religulous" points out all the bad that has come of religion: the wars, the abuse, the enslavements, and the crazy extremists of all sides. He points this out as an argument for the dissolution of religion. Get rid of religion, get rid of the problem.

I agree that religion has brought about a lot of pain, but I think if we dropped it, the crazies would replace it with something else. Pride is a powerful thing and people are always going to try and find a way to say their group is better than another. Some of us find "healthy outlets" for this, like sports or other hobbies (certainly not absent of crazies).

The wild thing is that all these major world religions teach the same basic moral principles: be good to one another -- no matter who it is; don't fuck things up.


But then like a game of Monopoly where someone lost the rules sheet, everyone gets caught up arguing the fine details, eventually demonizing anyone who disagrees on what the hell happens when you land on Free Parking.

People who argue over the rules like this are missing the point. See, they're trying to win the game, but the point is not to win the game, but to enjoy it. Nine years ago we here in the United States were reminded just what can happen when people get too caught up in winning the game.

This is my 9/11 story, which I share with my students each year. I do share with them for several reasons: to show I write too, to talk about description, and because each year fewer and fewer of them have any memory of that day.

Now I don't have a "where were you when..." story. Truth is, I was in bed trying to decide if I wanted to go to my college speech class that morning. I told my mom, "that stuff happens all the time" when she said a plane had crashed into the first tower. I figured it was just a small commuter plane. She had me up and out of bed in time to see the second plane live as it happened. But we all had some form of that experience.

My story happens about 6 weeks later in mid-November of 2001. I was on a Model U.N. trip up to Montreal, Quebec, Canada (in case you were thinking of the other Montreal) and we stopped for 3 days in New York City; my first time to New York.

New York had been the backdrop for everything I ever thought was cool, so being there was mind-blowing for me and I followed our little group through the city only halfway paying attention to what we were doing or where we were going; I was too busy takingeverything in. Not just the sights, but the overwhelming sounds. The constant hum of bustling people talking away as they rush down city streets; street vendors calling out,

"hot dogs!" "You lookin' for a good time
"We've got the lowest.." "Need a watch?"
"Live nudes!" "check out my improv group!"

Not to mention the cabs honking and rushing and screeching to a halt; folks whistling for cabs and the cabbies cursing one another in seven different languages. The construction and the machinery, the music pouring form stores and Times Square advertisements; crosswalks and policemen...

The city was alive with sound and while I'd heard about it before, it was nothing I'd ever experienced. So there I was, lost in amazement, and following along toward the back of my group. I know I was talking with someone during all of this, but I honestly can't remember who; I'm sure it varied. But I remember as we rode the subway to our next destination, I noticed our car getting more and more roomy, which seemed especially odd on a New York afternoon.

When we stepped off onto the platform, it was nearly empty and there was a noticeable lack of chatter. As we climbed the stairs into the sunlight, everyone in our group fell silent and something felt off.

We turned right coming out of the subway, heading out to the next street, and I remember seeing a cab drive by, slowly, without making a sound.

As we approached the intersection, I observed the usual throngs of people making their way down the opposing sidewalk, along with the cabs and the bicycle messengers, but without all the sound. Standing there amongst the office buildings, the taxis and the business men, New York was silent.

I turned to my right, and I realized where this deafening silence originated from as I found myself standing at one end of a city block of makeshift memorials. I understand now that there was still dust in the air, even six weeks later, and maybe that explains it, but I know I've since breathed air so thick; it was as if the silence itself held weight, and I suppose it did.

A wall of blue stretched almost as far as I could see, blocking any direct view of Ground Zero. But on that blue lay flowers, posters, notes and pleas: "If you find my husband...", "If you find my daughter...", " child..." A small, dusty and damaged bicycle set leaning against a lamp-post, the story of a young boy who delivered food from his parents' restaurant attached to it...

We looked at those memorials for what seemed like hours, but above all what I remember is the silence. The power of that event to, still six weeks later, bring silence to the city that never sleeps.

May all those who died that day find peace in the Universe. May all of us.

Monday, September 6, 2010

still kickin

Sharing some quasi-random thoughts...

I am taking a class about teaching writing; in such classes they make you do a lot of writing from all these brainstorming activities that you can then transfer to your own classroom. This is kinda cool, and I've done such things before (which I'd previously looked to post here, but realized I've lost the digital copies in the course of my various computers/accounts) On top of that, I'm already working with a new group of students on writing activities, and I'm realizing one thing: every brainstorming activity that I participate in, I'm having to edit myself heavily. I don't just mean skipping my drinking days, or any other nefarious endeavors, but not talking about Joel. Not that discussing my personal life with 14 year olds is a priority in my life, but it is a bit difficult when trying to model these activities, and "think aloud" when the eye of every storm is a topic that would, amongst other things, steal everyone else's thunder.
As for my class, I already put it out there in my introductory bio, so they can just deal with it if I keep heading to that same well all semester long. Not going to that well for the purpose of this blog is just an issue of motivation and time. When I say motivation it is more along the lines of motivation to silently push myself through those experiences again when I'm doing so well at immersing myself in pop-culture and work to the point of total distraction and lack of introspection. (okay...I'm kinda lying when I say I'm immersed in work...)

but hey, maybe I'll have some fresh material soon.

I should change the "would be alcoholic" part of my bio...