Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Conversation With Myself On a Tuesday Morning

Inspired After Entertaining Ish at a Faculty Reading
Last Thursday, I drew on my hand to keep a 3-year old entertained during a faculty book reading (he could care less about the hand...there were Star Wars figures nearby). This morning, the decorated hand appeared, so I decided it could be used for a mini-script to kick myself in gear.

Me: Coffee
Myself: Coffee
I: Ugh
Me: Don't move until the coffee kicks in.
Myself: It takes a good hour.
I: You need more coffee.
Me: You finally hit "submit" on a project.
Myself: I had no choice.
I: Coffee.
Me: Yesterday was a bust.
Myself: You got a grant in, a class planned...
I: And you did a webinar appearance.
Me: I guess I did Faculty Salary, too.
Myself: And the faculty search.
I: Oh, Coffee.
Me: Now you need to get ready for tomorrow.
Myself: But we haven't dealt with today.
I: You dealt with that yesterday, didn't you?
Me: I got some of the class planned.
Myself: Oh, the dog. You can't neglect the dog.
I: Not until you finish coffee.
Me: You need to take her for a walk.
Myself: But that won't get tomorrow planned.
I: Can't you do it later today?
Me: You can't have tomorrow until it is planned and organized today.
Myself: Like I did yesterday?
I: Like we did yesterday.
Me: That coffee kicking in yet?
Myself: You won't get to the conference proposal.
I: You made reservations for tomorrow night, no?
Me: They don't take reservations.
Myself: Why is the dog looking at us like that?
I: She just wants to go for a walk.
Me: After the coffee.
Myself: I hope the brain works today.
I: Glamis, get off of me.

This means I'm walking the dog. I have to.

And that ends the script...What's the saying, "You're lack of planning doesn't constitute my emergency?" Man, today needs a lot of planning time so tomorrow can happen.

Last day of February. That was fast.

Monday, February 27, 2017

I'm Not French, But I Get Bored and Have Memories

I seem to have caught on to a trend. No, it's not the Oscar trend, because I will never understand Hollywood award shows or the clothing they put on themselves - the pomp and circumstance is over my head.

It's about the fact that a year ago I bought a French memory board and I kind of like it. I can change out photographs, cards sent in the email, items needing my attention, and mail needing to go out. I simply slide it between the ribbon and the cotton-stuffed board.

Nope. No photos on this memory board that I pilfered from the net.

Anyway, after writing all morning and finally hitting submit, I decided to head to a few stores to cash in gift cards from Christmas. On my way home and knowing I was going to drive by Ocean State Job Lot, I decided I needed coffee. Lo and behold, they also had ridiculously cheap French memory boards so I decided to buy some more. Now I will need to print out more photographs to update the memories I actually have from the life I live.

I sort of like the versatility of a wall hanging where images can be traded in and out as time goes on. It needn't be locked away in an album somewhere, but can sit around the house offering possibility, hope, and what once was.

I love walking by the few that I already put up, and I am looking forward to making more: times spent with family, laughter shared with friends, shenanigans of the crazy Crandall world, and inspirations from my world in stereo. I have to say that such images center me each day as I depart into the world wondering what it will bring me.

I don't know. Because there French, I feel like I should be sipping coffee and blowing smoke in your face, but I seriously love these boards because they kill two birds with one stone: wall space and togetherness. It's a win-win situation if you ask me.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Thank You, But Who Sent Me This Significant Gift?

I'm not sure who the giver is, but I came home yesterday from a day in the office (yes, I was working all day on a Saturday trying to put a finale on a writing project) when there was a package sent to my name, but no provider of the gift given.

Apparently, someone signed me up for the socks-of-the-month club and I will be delivered a pair of socks each month for the next year. Today's gift was a squid, some socks, jellyfish and a whale.


But who sent them?

I looked into the organization and they do, indeed, send a pair of socks each month for my enjoyment, but there's no return address or paperwork that allows me to trace who the gift-giver is.

I'm stoked, however. I love funky and original socks and often make requests for such gifts, but I don't know who to thank. If they are a reader of my Crazy blog, then I want to send a special shout out for my appreciation. How can a man go wrong with a new pair of socks each month? They can't!

This is a remarkable gift and I am highly appreciative, especially given the pace I've taken over the last couple of months. I hope it is true that I will continue to get monthly socks. If not, that is okay, too, but I will have to wait until March to find out. In the meantime, I'm going to explore ways that I might, too, offer such a wonderful gift to others.

Socks are always fun.

This just in. It was CYNDERBALLZ! 
So, so Appreciative

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Bloomed. Two Years At Mount Pleasant. And Warm Temperatures

You know you're working at a University when...

...on a Friday night you read four texts to catch up for lessons coming next week...

...you spend the afternoon editing and revising a manuscript that doesn't quite cut the mustard...

...you look over syllabi to measure the semester's pacing and whether or not you are on par with the plans you set forth...

...you catch up on news for the week and wonder if the United States of America is still the United States of America that you've dedicated your life to...

...you go to bed on super early...

...you get up early to pack your bags for a day of writing and planning so you can survive the week coming ahead...

...you eat cheese and crackers and think, "Now that was a good dinner."

Actually, I came down the stairs yesterday to see that the Amaryllis bloomed once again, marking the 3rd anniversary of when we learned we would be moving into Mt. Pleasant. The first time it bloomed is when we were transitioning to a new home, and now it seems to be in the habit of blossoming just at the time when an anniversary is in store. There are two blooms, as alway...

...the real bloom returns from college next weekend for his first week off from school. Perhaps one of the reasons I'm trying to get on my game this weekend is so I can enjoy the company next week when he's back in the house.

And as far as this whacky weather, I have to say, "Great." I love running outside without jackets, gloves, and hats. But now the dog thing she needs to shed, the birds think they need to mate outside my window, and the buds push their heads out ready to bloom. As I told my neighbor who gave me a shot of blackberry brandy while walking the dog last night (he was sitting outside with his friends), "Don't get too used to this. We'll be miserable and indoors in another week, I'm sure."

Still, I take it where I can get it.

Finally, congratulations, Stags with Tyler's last-minute buzzer shot and the W over Canisius. That's two exciting endings this week.

Friday, February 24, 2017

In Celebration of @ElizabethBoquet @FairfieldU - Nowhere Near The Line

One of my favorite pictures of a wonderful colleague
Last night, I had the honor of attending Dr. Elizabeth Boquet's reading from Nowhere Near the Line: Pain and Possibility in Teaching and Writing, a publication of The University of Colorado Press and a part of their "Current Arguments in Composition" series. I have known Beth as a mentor, campus leader,  community-engaged thinker, and great supporter of writing conversations and activity ever since I arrived to Fairfield University. Her text, written partially in response to the violent event occurring tragically at Sandy Hook Elementary and with years of teaching college composition, is partial memoir, partial essay, partial reflection, partial modeling of writing with and for students, and (as pointed out in last night's talk), partial argument, although the argument was never the intent of her craft. Making an argument was not the point.

What I loved when I first read Elizabeth Boquet's book and then hearing her reading from it last night, was the sincere exploration of thinking through the prose she committed to page. As if listening to Cat Steven's On the Road to Find Out, Boquet's text presents words written for self-discovery and better understanding of a complicated world. The insight is appreciated.
None of us is in an inevitable position. I am implicated. We are all implicated. As our institutions shape and shift, we struggle to make sense of these changes. Perhaps pain is an inevitable part of that picture. If so, we can at least acknowledge that it is simultaneously regrettable. We can gesture toward healing. We can speak to each other's humanity.
A man in the audience asked a question about genre, reflecting that Beth's writing was not a style he's explored himself (personal? narrative?) and he asked her to posit what she'd call it. I thought this was interesting, too, as I often wonder about genres and what they do for us. I realize, in the end, that genres provide familiar structures from which communication is made possible, and a writer becomes a writer in the presence of other writers. I was not hung up on the genre because I was simply engaged with the thinking she committed to the work.

Reading Nowhere Near the Line: Pain and Possibility in Teaching and Writing helped me to contemplate my own healing as a writing instructor, especially in shared proximity to Sandy Hook, and violence I've experienced in my classrooms and with students in both K-12 schools and on college campuses. There have been suicides, murders, cancer, and accidents -- all of them tragic and none of them occurring at a time or location where I was ready to make sense of them. The loss of our colleague Gisela and her husband José was a tragedy shared by many on our campus. Beth writes,
Gisela and her husband found the time and the money, even when both were quite scarce,  for good food, good drink, great music, great conversation and great fun with their friends and family close to home and all over the world. As it turns out they were write to live life wide-open, full-tilt. That these two people, with two of their most beloved people, met such a violent, tragic end...as this moment, it feels inconceivable in its scope, comprehensible only in the particulars...
I love that Beth brought me to her final thoughts by asking, "What are you going to do?" She writes,  "We keep going. We keep going." It is with words, texts, and processing of a complicated world that communities are created. It is through reflection, inquiry, wonder, and exploration that we find ourselves knowing what we do and this brings us in proximity of one another.

Writing makes this possible. Writing through pain, looking to possibility, exploring unplanned obsolescence and institutionally-literate lives, finding wayfaring strangers and wayfinding companions, we get to a gathering place to heal.

I feel fortunate to have gathered, and continue to heal, with Elizabeth Boquet. It was a wonderful way to spend an evening.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I Don't Even Know What To Title My Thoughts. But I Have Them.

There is so much to think about these days, that it's almost impossible to keep up with what we should be thinking about. I continue to reread classical thinkers and modern writers to help me make sense of where we are in history (knowing that every phenomenal civilization has collapsed at one point or other in its history). 

After a day of teaching, I came home to walk the dog and prep for writing/grading and watching back to back basketball (I had the plan to relax for the evening). I loaded up my iPod and hit the streets, catching up on This American Life and, as luck would have it, It's Working Out Very Nicely was the featured program. I understand that NPR who hosts This American Life, like many of the programs that have become routine in my life, is on the chopping block under a new administration who is skeptical of what gets reported in the news. Perhaps that is why this report, this story, this writing, and this explanation had me on the edge of tears as I walked my dog. I cannot get my head around it,
This week we document what happened when the President's executive order went into effect temporarily banning travel from seven countries, and we talk about the way it was implemented. A major policy change thrown into the world like a fastball with no warning. It's hard not to ask, "What just happened? What was that all about?
I had to stop on a few occasions and look to the skies. "God, you Great Whatever, you...are you paying attention? Yes, the executive order was turned around after the American court system found the executive demand to be what courts have the jurisdiction to decide on (it is checks and balances, as it should be). Hearing these particular stories, however, put voices in my ears and images in my head that I couldn't believe I was hearing. I continue to advocate for neutrality in my politics and am proud that I vote both parties and make the best decision after I do my research. I  always look to educational policies in my decision making and I look for the treatment of immigrants and refugees. I think economically, too, and recognize that as awesome as our nation tends to be, there are flaws. Things need to be fixed. I'm not sure the interests of either party are going forth right now. People might thing its their party's initiatives, but something is making me skeptical. 

After listening to the radio show and watching the evening news, I kept shaking my head. I am replaying every Republican debate that I watched with careful eyes and curiosity, and hearing many who argued against the integrity of some candidates.  I don't understand how all the individuals who said the same things that are being said now by the Democrat party (and I'm not standing with them, either), are not stepping up. This year's election has never been about a two-party system. It's been about the mission statement of the United States, our democratic traditions, our iconic imagination (Statue of Liberty, American Eagle, national anthems, etc.) and what has so quickly been put into place to challenge that. I have spent my entire life in books - and all my degrees and a doctorate have led me to find answers to the questions I have asked (and I'm still asking them). Since 9/11, I've read voraciously to make sense of our mission statement and the future of the United States. I've read conservative writers and liberal writers. I've found irrationality and rationality in both sides. Still, it's been easy to support and stand united. I am having a difficult time this year. I think many of us are.

What's happening  is beyond imagination. I'm a storyteller and will continue to listen to stories. I'm not religious, but I will follow the doctrines of the good books to look out for the needy, to assist the poor, and to do unto others as I want done unto me. I simply will never understand hate: the hate from the left for the right, the right for the left, and this new alt right hatred for everything that makes America what it is. The venom of the left and right have me hating humanity. WTH?

This post isn't what I planned to write after a phenomenal Syracuse game, but this has been on my mind since I went for the walk. If you can, take 55 minutes of your life and listen to the radio show linked above. Hear the stories. Understand the global trust for the U.S.  when so many nations fail its people. Consider heart. Think about love. And just process. Simply process what is reported here and then let me know what I'm missing. I just do not understand this.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Well, Wish This Luck Today: Trying Something New in a 5th Grade Collaboration

This is the 3rd semester I'm filling in for a Philosophy of Education course, offering it as a service-learning opportunity for undergraduate students. We read Dewey, Freire, Rizga, Addams, Greene, etc. as the sophomores and juniors think about teaching in the 21st century and begin their own teaching statements.

For two semesters and several weeks I've brought my students to local schools to do service-learning, but this semester I thought it might be clever to bring students to us for some of the time. Why? Because the school where we are doing the service-learning is also part of a state turnaround grant and I've been offering model lessons and curricular support. I thought, "What would it look like if I aimed to meet the objectives of my course with the individual objectives of classroom teachers at the school.

Today, it will be in support of a 5th grade class who is doing research on major influences in Black history. Our job is to take an idea and to apply the concept of leadership to the individuals they have picked. The intent is to help the research process and begin original essays on these inspirational people that others would want to read.

I have an idea. We are going to see how far we can take it.

The beauty of this modeling is that the students will almost get one on one attention from the undergraduate students as we collaborate together on being successful learners. I'm hoping, too, that I can prove that kids are capable of handing more intellectual challenges and will bring in difficult quotes for them to think about (and to show them they know more than they think they know).

There will either be an anvil that falls on my head today, or I will leave with a smile. Either way, I already know that I will be ridiculously exhausted. In arranging this opportunity, several people had to be involved. The kicker? We're doing it three more times with three other grades.

If it works, I think I have a new model to share with others! If it doesn't, I'll admit to defeat and tuck my tail underneath and return to my nerd-dom. Scratch that, I will return to the nerd-dumb no matter what.

Happy Humpday.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fancy Schmancy! @SourceCoffeeBR Caffeinated Near @FairfieldU

My colleague and mentor, Dr. Beth Boquet, picked me up on her way to the University (yes, we were working on President's Day), so we could get a cup of coffee and think about possible collaborations to host a conference on K-16 writing centers and the possibilities of building them in the State of Connecticut.

I'm not one for going out for coffee, but I love drinking it, so when she took me to a shop and ordered this fancy cappuccino drink, I said, "I'll have what she's having." I didn't make this decision, however, until I saw the heart, flower, and angel design that resulted in her mug. I needed one of those...I wanted to see how it was done.

"You didn't do that," I said to the Barista. "They only do that on tv."

Then he made mine. He did that. Bravo. Magician. Craftsman. Wizard. Coffee God. I guess it is an art form and the coffee was delicious.

I needed the caffeination, too, and accomplished a lot of budgeting in my office, got on top of my grading, went to the gym, answered several hundred emails, and then prepared for classes this week. I have Source Coffeehouse at 2889 Fairfield Avenue to thank for this. They started my day out perfectly, and all day long I kept thinking about how angelic and loving the morning bloom was to energize my day. Even now, writing about it this morning, I feel the caffeine of yesterday moving through my body.

The scone from Source Coffeehouse, too, was fantastic. I now have a new location to meet and take friends. I'm grateful to my colleague to carpooling me to work this morning and for finding a "Source" to kick off my days from time to time.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Aquarian Pisces Connection - Exhausted, But Reuniting for Dinner

It took us a while, but Diva and I finally found a reason to reunite and catch up, which occurred at a restaurant in New Haven last night to celebrate her upcoming birthday and to high five the one that just passed. I have to say, the cajun tuna and side order of plantains and Guac was incredible.

Diva's teaching now in New Haven - first year - and is simply wearing the exhaustion that comes form K-12 teaching. The normal energy we have to gel off one another wavered as she processed the impossibility of teaching, the expectations, and the obstacles that stand in the way.

Even so, I was able to do my bargain shopping before we met and offered her gifts of love, friendship, and support. I love when it looks like I spent a lot of money, but really I didn't. She laughs, "I know exactly who you are, Bryan."

I always forget how young she is...a year older than Abu and Lossine...because her soul is deep and with so much wisdom. She's working through the mid-twenties shenanigans of starting a career, balancing an apartment, wondering about the cost of adult life, and figuring out the inequities our schools face. It's one thing to face them as a student or a supporter of students, but when entrenched in the teacher's life, the realities of such inequities are overwhelming.

Ah, but it was good to see her again, if only briefly, and we have next months Writing Our Lives - Big Apple event with Marcelle. There's hope yet, and today is President's Day, so there's an extra 24 hours to process the world.

Happy Birthday, Diva. The world is a much better place with you in it.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Powering Up With Words From Connecticut Youth and Teachers

It has taken 7 months, but I finally was able to get through all the summer writing during the Invitational Leadership Institute and Young Adult Literacy Labs from CWP-Fairfield's programming. My program manager did the lion's share of work, organizing and laying out for the 4th edition to be published very soon. I simply needed to get my eyes to the text and help edit the powerful words that were submitted.

Reading the work the last couple of days have rejuvenated me for another season quickly approaching, but also helped me to realize the influences CWP-Fairfield's vision is having with all the programs. I laughed at one young man's myth from Little Lab for Big Imaginations where the protagonists were based off of Abu and Lossine. I was also impressed by the number of pieces influenced by Sydney Johnson and his Men's Basketball team on campus. Our Sports Writing Lab, Journalism Labs, and Ubuntu Academy were greatly influenced by the contributions he and his men made to our literacy programs.

Of equal note were the number of pieces that were impacted by reading Katherine Applegate's Home of the Brave and Kwame Alexander's Booked. These texts, coupled with our community project with Rick Shaefer's Refugee Trilogy, helped me to see that the larger initiatives trickled into the writing that teachers and students submitted. As I read through the work, I could easily see the influences of the different programs on each other. Inspiration definitely led to inspiration.

I didn't, however, find time to shower yesterday, as I went into ram mode to get through the writing projects and complete a couple of my own. Although I love such productivity, I sometimes wonder what people would think if they entered my house and saw me neglecting the mess I've surrounded myself with - I definitely need a day of housecleaning and organizing.

In the meantime, POW! Power of Words has impressed me once again. I'm looking forward to getting it to the publisher and in the hands of the kids and their families.

Day of rest, I'm telling myself. Ha. Today should be a day of rest (and grading).

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Happy Place (A Location of Mind and Memory) While Adulting

I grew up in Utica, then Syracuse, but my favorite memories of childhood were the summer days spent at Lebanon Reservoir, outside of Hamilton, New York. It was at my grandparent's camp that they moved to each year, to get away from their winter months in town - a two bedroom, living room/kitchen, single well-bathroom, and side porch facility with a dock, a fire pit on the banks, and wooden diving board.

The best part of the location? The acres behind the camp, where we played softball, croquet, frisbee, tag, and whatever other game we could imagine.

Then there was the lake. Our dog Dusty used to chase boats until the blackness of his paws turned pink and raw, the sunfish used to steal all our worms, and right before a rainstorm, the bullheads were abundant, and there was always a challenge of Dam cars, 2 points, 3 points, or even 4. How many water skiers will be on the water when we arrive, we used to bet one another, before moving into responsibilities of mowing the lawn, picking up sticks, and weeding the shrubs. There was always the adventure, too, of walking around the lake, avoiding horse flies, and getting to the candy store for Fun Dip, Pixie Stix, and other childish delicacies.

My sisters always knew that my dream job was to one day teach at Colgate University, with a home on the lake. Then I could watch the stars bathe in the water each morning like my grandmother used to do, or put a canoe on its sheen, to stroll along the waters. The location was a utopia: where nature met simple, simple met community, and community met relaxation.

In my head, I return to these locations (away from it all) with a vision that I actually made it come true - I found a space to call my Walden. The camp was sold, however, and visits back made all of us wonder what happens to time, change, neglect, and forgotten care.

This morning, I am thinking of this happy place and a simpler time. I am thinking of Grannie Annie's peppers, onions, and sausage concoctions, the side roads that meandered to Sherborne to visit Grandma Vera and Grandpa Ken, and the fireworks every 4th of July. Of course, there were Pitch tournaments, too, and twitches of branches to cut and wave to keep everyday flies from landing on your skin.

Hi/Low games. Swimming across the lake on a raft to make the trip to the candy store easier. The sound of cars driving along the stones as they came closer to pulling out picnic baskets and Milwaukee's Best.

Seems so long ago, but the smells, the happiness, and more importantly, the tranquility are with me in my mind, heart, and soul.

A new generation of Ripleys, Crandalls (and now Barnwells and Isgars) are upon us, and I wonder what it would be like if we all still had this retreat to regroup ourselves. It's not a big lake and I remember how upset the old folks used to get when speed boats came to use the waters to practice racing. I wonder, too, how many generations of ducks have been fed bread throw to them from the docks and if they ever had to drain the lake to clean it out (like they once did when we were kids).

I remember, too, a plaque that Grandpa Spence had over the light switch as you entered: The only difference between men and boys, is the size of their shoes and the size of their toys." It was a small toy, and we only had small boats, but I think about that location often and last night, before I went to bed, I thought, "Man, one day I want to take Chitunga, Abu and Lossine there."

I simply want the calm. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Gift To Myself (Like Cherry Cupcakes) in Celebration of Life

Many wondered what I wanted to do for my birthday yesterday and the ongoing question was, "What are you doing tonight?" I simply said, "I have plans. I'm doing what I want to do."

I knew that several poets from Ubuntu Academy were invited to do a reading at Ridgefield Library (you can Google that community), so I volunteered to drive them there to hear their verse. It was part of a MLK celebration and, as always, I continue to be educated by communities of the Nutmeg State.

I was very proud of the kids, even though they were extremely nervous. They didn't want to go to the Mic, but I assured them that their poetry was going to be better than all others. Akabaru had a difficult time and broke out in a nervous sweat. I thought he washed his face, but it was his nerves (I assured him that I feel that way, too, whenever I have to speak). I was extremely impressed that he decided to read his first poem in Swahili, and I love that he gave eye contact to his mother who was in attendance to see her son read (it was quite a hike from Bridgeport, but we all made the trip).

I think my favorite part of the evening, however, was the car ride to and from the library as the kids talked about their worlds, made jokes, asked questions, and wondered where it was we were going. "I don't know," I told them. "This is your gig. You're the ones who arranged it."

They all did great, and I have much to say about the entire evening, but I will leave it as this short Friday post. Each of their poems had some allusion to Ubuntu, and I was grateful for that.

As I predicted, they were miraculous. It will take some time, however, for me to process the MLK ceremony where they presented. It was one for the record books and where I leave think, "Is this really America?"

Yesterday was fantastic, and everything fell into place exactly as I wanted it: a retreat, a couple gifts of bourbon, the reading, and a note from the kid at LeMoyne (and later, a call). I love birthdays. It is so great to hear from everyone...but now it is time to head into my 45th year of life!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I Mustache Myself a Question. Am I Really 45 Years Old? Yikes

Phew. What a week. What a month. What a year. What a life.

I didn't get to bed until late trying to polish a project that needed more attention after a day of teaching, meetings, editing, emails, more meetings, and forgetting to eat.

I'm not complaining. I'm just looking for a little breathing room that I haven't had since 2017 began: grants, reports, publications, dossiers, teaching, presentations, workshops, professional development, and all those meetings.

Oi vay. There has not been space enough to process what it is I'm doing. Perhaps that is why I told graduate students on Valentine's day, "I mustache you a few questions." Of course, I had candy, too, but the evening began with a prompt where I asked students about self-esteem, motivation, and what it takes to develop secondary school readers. We did many exercises around self-esteem and then applied what we thought with characters in literature, including Nick in Alexander's YA novel Booked. My hypothesis was that our discussion could apply to almost most of the narrative poems in the book that help to tell the story of a young man's coming of age and understanding of language, divorce, change, standing up for one's self, and mystery (Hmmm, maybe self-esteem was in the box).

I should be spending today writing my post in reflection of life as it's been thus far, but I can't muster the energy to think about it...I need space to simply process what 2017 could be.

And, of course, the Facebook birthday bonanza began and there's tremendous joy in receiving all the well wishes. I will absorb them all today as the clock clicks me closer to the inevitable 50 years ahead. I still feel 15. At some point, all the memories and experiences become overwhelming and I wonder, "What am I supposed to do with it all? I mustache myself what does it all mean?"

Ah, if I knew, it would take all the fun out of it, so I'm simply going to sit back today and enjoy it.

Thanks Mom and Dad for giving me life, and for everyone who contributes so much joy to it all, especially the core: Cynde, Mike, Casey, Dave, Chitunga, Abu, Lossine, Nikki, Dylan, Sean, Jacob and all the dogs. Elephant Shoe.

Now, when can I get a good night's rest?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wrapped in Love...the Day After...the Day Before. Ribbit Ribbit

Several years ago, my little sister Casey made me a blanket for my bed that was lawn gnomes and mushrooms. It was easily the best blanket ever, and I've used it for several years (not caring who judges me for my blankie). It is warm, it is fun, it serves its purpose and I couldn't imagine any blanket to be better.

But Glamis could. She began gnawing on the blanket and its knots last year, and every time I come home, I find another piece of it somewhere in my house. She means well, but she's a dog and dogs do stupid things. I hinted to my sister that a time has come for a new blanket.

I didn't realize that my hint arrived at the same time that I wrote about the "Frog" returning to the "Lily Pad" leaving the "Eagle" at LeMoyne on a blog earlier this year. It turns out she had already bought the material for a new blanket.

The Frogs arrived yesterday in the mail. Yes, on Valentine's day and two days before my birthday. I feel the timing was perfect and I'll be wrapped in love (which is the greatest feeling in the world).

The twins love theirs (soccer blankets for their dorm rooms). Tunga loves his patriotic blanket (he wrote last night to say "I hope your new blanket is as warm as mine." My dad has one. My mom. I imagine there are blankets blanketing our entire family, and that is beautiful.

I've often joked that those of us with birthdays near Valentine's day always have a struggle with the concept of love, but this year I'm realizing it's simple, really. We thrive at seeing love at its best and I absolutely love my frog blanket arriving exactly at the time it did. I'm about to be 45. That seems surreal, but I can celebrate with an exchange of my gnome and mushrooms, for frogs and flies!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Couldn't Lose Last Night: #Cuse #Cards #Birfday #Ubuntu #Boys

My 45th birthday present to myself was to get tickets for Abu, Lossine, and Chitunga to see my two alma maters play at the Carrier Dome: Syracuse and Louisville. I knew I couldn't lose (even if I'm always for the underdog) and was simply thrilled to know that the three were able to brave the weather/blizzard/snow with 20,000 other fans and take a Monday night away from the grind.

There is much history here. I never went to the Dome as a high school student (except for band competitions with Cynde), but I did make it to Louisville games as a kid (with Peter Boy) in Kentucky. As I got older, attending games became more and more exciting, and now the Louisville/Syracuse match is simply a ritual - something I look forward to every year. I was excited when both teams moved to the Big East, and then, although I was reluctant to accept, I've enjoyed the shift to the ACC. It's great to see strong teams meeting one another in the regular season.

I should have predicted overtime, however, last night. Actually, I thought it was going to be a blow out, but I'm glad the game offered more play for the buck (It's $$$ for three tickets).

I wanted Chitunga to go to University Louisville, but he chose LeMoyne in Syracuse, and I get it --- although it's family in the Bluegrass State, CNY has more family.

I have to say, though, University athletics aren't as friendly as they used to be. When I was in Louisville, I used to write Boeheim's people to get set up with tickets. While at Syracuse, I did the reverse with Zurich and others in Kentucky. This showing, though, I couldn't get any team to budge and release "reserved" tickets for diehard fans. I had to go online (and gamble with the results)

I do know, though, that it makes me happy that a basketball tradition is passed on to the three musketeers (clowns, fools) residing in Syracuse now, although I know the sport kills Chitunga - he's football all the way. Even so, they were there.

So many games. So many years. So much family history (ha, how many hotdogs and sodas did we serve, Cynde, to support Nikki?). It feels good to know that Lossine, Abu and Chitunga got to enjoy the game as spectators, however.

Happy Birthday to me. Thumbs up all the way.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Secret Life of Snow-Restrained Pet Owners Stuck in Their Homes

The debate was between Secret Life of Pets or Sausage Party. Have you seen the trailer for Sausage Party? I have. It will need to be a special occasion to get me through that film in one sitting. I do have moods, occasionally, that would find such a flick hilarious, but I didn't want that on my snow days.

Secret Life of Pets it was. Mae went away with Patrick, leaving Glamis, Jake, and me to make the selection. Other than horse racing (Derby-influence, I suppose), Glamis never notices the television. Yet, this film caught her attention. Jake's, too. They watched, cocked their head, and wondered what it was they were viewing...

...that is until the movie just got old quick. They fell asleep. Pam fell asleep. She didn't even wake up when Snowball, the villainous rabbit, accidentally let go of a few bunny turds and apologized to the camera (that part was funny).

But I actually watched a movie from beginning to end. Yes, I paused it from time to time to do other things, but I got through a movie.

And this morning before I head out, I await to see which schools are delaying, which are hosting normalcy, who wants to catch up on projects that were postponed after two snow days last week, and what about the classes still needing to be taught. It can go in numerous directions depending on if any (or all) cancel classes or call for a late start. My alarm was set like it was last Thursday and Friday, and like kids and teachers across Connecticut, I grew frustrated that the call was made later than sooner, so it was too late to go back to bed.

It will likely be this way again today, too.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Smelly Dogs, Smelly Cats, Smelly Weekends, and Just Smelly.

I did something yesterday that would make my little sister proud. I actually semi-fell asleep on the couch after watching Syracuse lose and Louisville win, but then the dogs jumped on my head and made it impossible to sleep (I never nap, and when a feeling comes over me like I can, I'm always taken by surprise - I was almost out when they decided it was no time to sleep).

This resulted in back-to-back episodes of Friends that happened to be on the t.v. and I had to laugh, "I don't think I've watched the show since it was a ubiquitous Thursday night phenomenon of all of us growing up in the early 90s. Watching it now, I realize it was an innocent time and much easier than life is right now. Yup...it was true fiction and mind-numbing entertainment.

I wonder if Phoebe is related to Luna Lovegood and Professor Trelawney? I always loved her and the character she played.

I think what was funnier in catching the two episodes was seeing the clothes and hairdos which seemed to be a time capsule of who my sisters used to be. Talk about capturing the times!

It makes me wonder what it would be like to go back to the college dorm rooms and relive a few of those years all over again. It also makes me wonder, "What if I watched t.v. like I used to back then?"

Um, no. Not likely. But it was fun for an hour anyway.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Meeting My Match at OSJL in Orange...Almost a Cartostrophe!

I have written about it before and I often share it in professional development and workshops: I have a shopping cart pet peeve and cannot stand when people empty goods from a cart and simply leave the carriage in the lot between cars or somewhere away from their own so they can drive off.

For several years now, I have made it a resolution to always return my cart and, on many occasions, I return carts left by lazy imbeciles who don't take the time to do it themselves. It's my self-righteousness checking itself.

That is why this 'cartostrophe' caught my attention yesterday. Kaitlyn, Pam and I made it to OSJL in Orange when I saw a cart overturned in a parking lot and I said to them, "You know this is too much for me. I need to rescue her."

I began to labor and a man, parked in front of the cart started laughing. It was a good laugh. He heard me talking in 3rd person about how she needed emancipation, and "Oh, Dear...How could someone do this to you?" He was laughing hard.

Then, when Pam and I wedged the cart out of the bank, Kaitlyn stepped in to help and literally fell down in the pit. It turns out the cart was wedged there to cover a gigantic hole so people wouldn't drive over it. Seriously. It was a crater, and we laughed with the guy who was driving away saying, "Wouldn't it be funnier if, after you freed the cart I ran into that giant pot hole and ruined my car?"

I put the cart back over the abyss.

Later, in the store, we learned from the clerk that a plow knocked over a lamp post during the storm, creating the canyon in the parking lot. They put the cart there to keep cars safe.

"Oh, you're the man in the black hat," she says. "We wondered if you were going to put it back. We were watching on security."

I guess I am sort of famous. It wasn't quite 15 minutes, but in my head I performed a semi-famous act. But it was a bad act, because people could have been hurt. My cart-fetish heart was twitching the rest of the day.

I tried. I failed. And my failure was a good thing.

Friday, February 10, 2017

And It Snowed. No One Went Anywhere. And I Plowed and Ate

The trouble with having a sleepover with three 2 year old dogs is that they are in their adolescence, and you remember those days...life is exciting and there's no need to sleep. At 2 a.m. Thursday night, Glamis and Mae were still up playing and wrestling. I finally fell asleep, and then learned from Pam that they were playing outsider her door at 4 a.m..

When I got up at 7 a.m., they were still playing.

Of course, by then the snow was really coming down and I knew that I had only a few hours of work before I would need to clear some of the snow. I'm glad that I split the day in half, clearing part of the snow halfway through he day, and the other right before dinner.

I also managed to score a whole filing cabinet of portfolios. I put on beans, sauce and vegetables, and our guest breaded chicken and made cookies. Edem was put on rice duty.

I went outside and, Butch style, plowed many of my neighbor's driveways as the plows buried the ends of our driveways and they were having a difficult time with their shovels putting a dent in the depth. Then I came inside to a great meal that we all contributed to.

Delicious. Snow day complete. I sort of relaxed, I guess --- caught up with This is Life and actually watched Scandal on the night it airs.

Driveway plowed twice. Snow is no longer dropping. Nice little storm.

And only 2 hour delays this morning, so I'll be heading to work. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I Know It's Thursday, But It's a Snow Day. Everything's Closed

It's only Thursday! 12-14 inches of snow so the State is shutting down.

Yesterday, however, we did our second week of classroom support and library innovation. We're making headway. It may look crazy, but behind the students, the bookshelves are coming together. We are restoring the library and making sense of all the stacks.

As I was sorting yesterday, I couldn't help but think about the absolute chaos of the books as we found them. They were in total disarray, all over the place, and nowhere they should be.

Yet the resources were there. The power of literacy is there. It's only that there hasn't been the personnel and staff to support the library. It's such a metaphor for all that is absolutely unbelievable with urban school reform. All the investment of great materials, wonderful kids, and yet so little professional development for teachers (or even staff hired to be in the buildings)

I couldn't help but think about this one little library in one little school being a total metaphor for the entire system. It's just wrong, but I've been writing that for years.

It is what it is and I'd like to say it was going to change, but America's been voting and, well, we know where that went. I'm learning more, now than every before, that the vast majority of people don't care and are simply disconnected to the truths of our social divisions. I know this may sound strange, but I'd much rather be in a school that is in disarray looking for ways to turn itself around, then being in institutions of privilege.

I've never been one for the high life. I couldn't live with myself if I was.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pandora's Box Continues To Empty Its Content, But I Have Hope

I'm not sure we're ever supposed to know what Nick find's in the dragonfly box, Freedom, that was left to him, but I was thinking about this while reading responses from my graduate students on developing reading in secondary schools. One of my students reminded me of a time I sat down and wrote a list of all the truths that I knew (and advice I'd give to struggling individuals). I'm not sure what prompted it, but it was a lengthy document that I printed out and then put into a shredder. I took all the shredded pieces and stuffed them into a glass jar with a cork top. I gave it to a student, Meggie, who incidentally was nicknamed D-Fly (for dragonfly).

"What's this?" she asked. "It's everything you've ever wanted to know about life," I told her. "But I can't read it. It's chopped int millions of pieces."

That was my point. Would you really want all the answers?

Politically, I am trying to keep my cool and to remain neutral with my thinking. Obviously education is a number one priority for me and I'm in utter awe that the new Secretary of Education was put through. I've never seen such unification of parents, administrators, and teachers fighting together for a cause. I thought there was a chance it would be stop, but I kept thinking, "Oh, another predictable disappointment." Educational leaders have failed pubic schools for a long time. Politicians have DEFINITELY failed teachers and students for a VERY long time. Why would anyone get it right this time.

PTSD. But what else is new in education?

So, last night I did an activity where my students wrote statements about the meaning of life. They did this on strips of paper and turned them in. I told them they wouldn't be discussed, but rather we'd come back to them at the end of class.

We explored Common Core State Standards, made connections to Jeff Wilhelm and Kelly Gallagher, explore a little more Kwame Alexander, and did a mini-reading of Pandora's Box with an extra special You Tube cartoon variation of the story. While the lessons were occurring, I was under my desk tearing apart the advice strips with a pair of scissors and making confetti out of their meanings for life. I also prepared boxes of candy before class began, and when no one was looking, I added the shredded paper to each.

Whereas it's almost Valentine's Day, I couldn't find Dragonfly boxes, but i did get small heart-shaped ones.

We reread the last poem of Booked and pontificated what may have been left to Nick in that box he was left. My point to my graduate students is that sometimes we may never know the answer to why things happen the way they do - Zeus wanted the evils in the world to punish us for having fire given to us. The only thing left to any of us (to touch our hearts) is to have hope. Hope is all left to Pandora.

Perhaps that's what Nick was given, too.

I know it's all I've been able to rely on as I wake up and continue the battle to make the world a fairer, safer, more equitable place for the young people and teachers I work with. Yesterday, the balloon of public education was brought into a room of needles, darts, blowguns, and razor blades. There was little chance it would come out inflated.

Now, time tells. It's been rather horrific for teachers and schools for quite sometime, and it looks like all the players that Dewey, Addams, and Dubois warned us about have finally joined forces to completely prove how disconnected from reality they are.

But for today, my students got heart-shaped boxes with all the best advice I could give them. When they open the boxes, I hope that hope will remain. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Parenting, Teaching, Coaching: Interesting To Draw Lines, No?

Interesting to read the news that Mathiang and Adel were suspended from last night's game against Virginia after violating team rules, breaking curfew, and ignoring the coach's advice. Perhaps this is more interesting coming from my alma mater where the rules for play (at the university and on the court) have been in question throughout the institution's history. The good people who live by morals have not always been the ones that the campus celebrates. Rather, there's been scandal associated with the Belknap campus for as long as I can remember...who was the Dean of Education that embezzled all that money meant for public schools?

I will let Kentucky natives debate that one. I'm proud of the U of L degrees I earned there and know, like anywhere, there's many variations to what is really going on. The good people on the campus are the unsung heroes, as always. There are many, many more of them, but the bad apples simply have a field day at the U of L orchard. I wonder if that trend will ever cease to exist.

That is why I'm applauding that the Pitino-man actually made a move to suspend his players. I'm thinking about my own teaching, parenting, and mentoring that I've done throughout my career and know, full-heartedly, that when I drew lines it pissed people off. I always stuck to the lines, though, because my feeling was I did it rarely, so when I did it, there needed to be a lesson learned.

With the scandals in Louisville basketball programs, I'm unsure what Mathiang and Deng were thinking. My knee-jerk reaction was to be hyper-critical of their decisions, because I've spent a better part of my life working with young men from Africa given opportunities for tremendous success in the United States. It is gambling with one's lottery winnings if one's hubris feels above the order and boundaries given to them. Yes, there is tremendous responsibility that comes with the chance to prove oneself, but I keep thinking, "What are you boys doing?"

I wasn't there. I don't know the details. But I know youth, and as Shaw said, "It's wasted on the young."

Last night, while watching the Cards lose, I thought about how their decision not only directly led to the suspension (and loss of co-captainship for Mathiang), but that their teammates had to suffer, too, because of the decisions they made. It is sad, I suppose, that they are just learning this now in college - that their actions have consequences, too.  Ah, every classroom teacher knows this golden rule. The few ALWAYS ruin it for the majority.

And I am thinking of parents everywhere - those who have had to draw lines with their own children, losing sleep over the decision for punishments when those lines are crossed. In my own journey, I often think about the conversation my parents must of had in their bedroom after the Sunday morning I passed out in a snowbank from drinking Jack Daniels. I was in 9th grade. It's not funny, but I can't help but think there had to be some laughter because my choice was simply beyond STUPID. And that event LEARNED me BIG TIME. I gained insight on how idiotic I really am. The lines drawn by my parents were clear. I disobeyed them. I was wrong and I had to grow up afterwards.

Adulting is the act of realizing that there are rules and expectations for a reason. I am hoping that Mathiang and Deng come back to the program thirsty to prove themselves, not only for their team and fans, but for the millions of kids who wish they could have an opportunity like they have, especially those from their home nations.

Pitino, in a surprising act that doesn't follow his career patterns, did the right thing. Interesting. Might be the microscope his program is currently under after other allegations made over the last few years.

I am also thinking about I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe. College basketball is a metaphor for all that is wrong and right in this world. The hubris is never good.

It's now time for Adel and Mathiang to show how much integrity they have in their hearts, minds, and souls. I am hoping they have it, but only time will tell.

Crazy that this is what I am thinking about this morning.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Runner's Confession. After The Race Cinnamon Rolls Rock

My cousin Mark turned me on to the cinnamon rolls at IKEA when he visited one time and needed new furniture for his daughters' room. Then, they used to heat the rolls and after getting lost in the IKEA maze for an hour, it was a well-deserved treat.

Yesterday, after leaving the trace, we were driving my IKEA and I thought, "I wonder if you can avoid getting trapped in that store by entering through the exit doors."

It worked. And we were able to get right to the cinnamon rolls for a post-race rejuvenation. Of course, the kids ate Wilbur Cross High School out of all the food prepared for the 2,500 runners. This was just a dessert.

Ah, man. Is it really Monday again?

I guess it's time to regroup, reconfigure, and realign objectives, purposes, and tasks that immediately need to get done. In dossier time, every free second is spent compiling more and more information, so there's no space to do all the other work needing to get done. Well, that's handed in, so now it's time for the book chapters that are due, the planning for a new grant, and the courses that need to be reentered as a priority on the radar.

(and I had a cinnamon roll for breakfast, too. Shhhh)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Running for Refugees, 2017 - 6th Straight Year in New Haven

The greatest lessons I've learned in life have come from two Sues - my mother in Syracuse and my teaching mom in Kentucky. From both of them I've learned the power of unconditional love and support. That is huge. Let me repeat that again. From both of them I've learned the unconditional power of love and support.

They've had by back through thick and thin and I'm forever grateful to them both. Because of their love and support of me, I've been able to share love and support for my students and the young people I work with.

This morning, a team of twenty five from Fairfield University will be running in support of refugees at the 5K in New Haven, Connecticut. Each and every year I run this race, my heart gets bigger. It is this race and the Vicki Soto 5K in Stratford that reminds me that there is hope in humanity, that people really do believe in doing what is right, and that love is the greatest answer every time.

This year for the holidays, Sue in Kentucky asked if she could make a contribution to a charity Chitunga and I believe in. Although he is in Syracuse going to school now, it was a no-brainer to invest in IRIS and the 5K. The money goes to support relocated individuals who have been chosen to enter the United States with opportunities for a better life. These are families that go through a scrupulous 2 1/2 year vetting process and are the fortunate 1% of the 65 million displaced worldwide hoping for safety and security.

Exercise. Fresh Air. A great cause. Communities coming together. A celebration of diversity, compassion, humanity, and the richness of doing good for the world when so many prefer to do the opposite.

I am unlikely to ever be rich. It has never been my intent to seek fame or the fortunes that come with it. Rather, I simply want to be a good human being who lives his life with empathy, understanding, global knowledge, and a belief in my fellow men and women. This is one of those days each year - one before the very American hoopla of a ridiculously expensive football game - that reminds me of why I've chosen to live the life I have.

I appreciate the love and unconditional support I've had my entire life. I am fortunate, and as long as I have life I will choose to pay it forward.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Believe There Is Good In the World: Be The Good

In one of the schools I'm working with this year, a small, textual mural makes me smile. It is simple: believe there is good in the world and/or be the good.

Like hope, good is another of those words that I like to think deeply about...take away an 'o' and you get God, who I hope is taking care of all of us (the Great Whatever who oversees all faith and spirituality in the world).

I got home last night ready to dig into grading, but after another long day in the office doing dossier work, my brain simply fizzled out. I got a few groceries, vacuumed and mopped, then sat down to stare into space.

Then I heard a ding. It was a grant I wrote last semester - a notification that it was funded. My first reaction on a Friday night when I was feeling extremely overwhelmed and fried was, "Oh, no. Not more work." This morning, I woke up feeling excited about the possibilities that will come from it.

$30,000 more and I will hit the 1/2 million dollar mark in grant writing since I arrived to Fairfield University. With this comes organization, planning, professional development data collection, budgeting, and reporting. I've been semi-strategic to turn the work into presentations and publication, too. I'm still waiting on a $90,000 grant that I'd really love, but that is a GIGANTIC crap shoot. Only time will tell on that one.

Okay, time to tackle this Saturday thing...I promise to be the good if you will, too.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Representing the Ville at a Stags Game. Whoops. Tough Day at the Office

It's good to be optimistic about Thursdays, because that means Fridays are there as a catch-all for what doesn't get accomplished the day before. I managed a 12 hour day crossing t's and dotting i's, but didn't quite meet the plan of action. At 7:30 pm I fulfilled a promise and picked up Juma and Akbar so they could attend their first college basketball game. It's been a year since I've seen the Stags play and I'm happy to say they beat Niagara quite impressively.

My mind, however, was on the work that I wasn't accomplishing that needs to be done. I'm optimistic about today, however, after a faculty visit for a potential Jesuit-in-residence of for our department.

Interesting to talk about politics with Edem, too, as we unwind for the evening and he starts processing his history from Togo, the faith he had in the democracy of the United States, and the suddenly about face our country seems to be making through executive decisions. I simply process with him my middle-of-the-road politics and ask questions to get both of us thinking. The conversations usually end with both of us shaking our head. It actually reminds me of a Blues Traveler Song.
Have you ever seen an atom / Little bits of everything floating by / Take a good look at them / Collectively they compose all you see, including your eye. / Brilliant puzzle / A living Rubics Cube we think think we can figure out and solve. ? But we're just monkeys / Scratching our heads trying to open our ears / To a chord that just won't seem to resolve. / And we call it a wisdom / Yes intellect in our truest sense of the world / You see for us security means harmony / According to only what we have heard / And this alone and nothing less / Will ease our heart and our mind / In the hopes that in feeling free we'll reach paradise / On the hilltop we're still trying to find. / But the possibility exists no matter how scary it may seem / That paradise was once the world and it wasn't just a dream. / The earth was our heaven and we didn't know there were rules for us to break / And maybe now we'll find out too late what a clever hell we can make. / Whoops. / Whoops. / Taheeka had. Whoops. / Whoops. / In this corner / Weighing in at almost every weight imaginable / Life, and all that surrounds it / And in this corner / Weighing in at well, not really very much of everything; / A very sound and user friendly idea / On finally bringing the pesky mountain to Mohammed / Gentleman, at the sound of the harmonica you may come out fighting. / Take a look at the horizon / Quiet and still. / You know there used to be bison. / Gentlemen you may fire at will. / They say this land won't go to waste. / But you got to wonder how. / You know we're chopping down the air we breathe / as fodder for the cow. / That's right we can eat well / Yes and starve to death / And say there's nothing we can do. / Because we really don't want to do a goddamn thing. / Look, I'm shrugging and so are you. / We can imagine the straightest of lines / But our fingers can't control the pen. / And it's this frustration that yields relief / As we say we're just mortal men. / And that means we get to torture a chimpanzee / And infect him with disease / Because he screams just like a human child / while we study his desperate pleas. / But the possibility exists no matter how scary it may seem / That paradise was once the world and it wasn't just a dream. / The earth was our heaven and we didn't know there were rules for us to break / And maybe now we'll find out too late what a clever hell we can make. / Whoops. / Whoops. / Ah Whoops. / Whoops. / While we're not the subject you know my conscience hurts (whoops) / and it will not go away (whoops). / So please concoct me some pill I can take (whoops) / While I think of something clever to say (whoops). / So I can look in the mirror made of polished glass (whoops), / and find no need to cringe (whoops). / And forget that singing feeling I'm a dinosaur (whoops) / out on his drunken binge (whoops). / ... from possible to fossil / dust to dust / I'll see you all in the earthy crust. / Whoops-a-daisy / Whoops.
Now there is a song from my college days. had to give it a lesson again this morning for old time's sake. And with that, it's Friday! Friday! Friday! 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Wrapping My Head Around Reality. Or Is It Fiction. We're Crazy.

I was in a K-8 school yesterday on a tour where the principal brought me to the library and said, "The school hasn't had a librarian in 20 years." His first goal was to resolve that and he found a substitute teacher to cover for the year and her first mission has been to sort through the piles and piles of books that were on tables. At the time I entered, books were everywhere, but the shelving units were busted and very unsteady. I brought a team of students with me, thinking in one day we'd be able to help organize the books and fix the shelves. In three hours, we barely put a dent into the labor. Books have not been checked out by students at this school in  years, although it appears that money went into buying them. They all had labels on them (Dewey's decimal would be proud) .

I can't imagine this. I can't imagine our nation would allow for such a thing to happen, but then I talk to teachers, and like cops, veterans, and social workers, they simply are accustomed with having their resources restricted, their wages battled, their hours challenged, and their integrity scrutinized. Why is this? Probably because their salaries come from tax payers. Any profession that gives to the people, for the people, to make America what it is, is simply viewed as burdensome, I guess.

One local district is set to make 9 million in cuts by the end of this school year and it is likely that more librarians, art teachers, music teachers, middle school counselors, and paraprofessionals will be the ones sacrificed.

Meanwhile, a billionaire who made her money through a Pyramid scheme is on the senate floor to run our nation's schools. Pyramids are what Charters are all about, too. They prey on poor, urban districts, syphoning off the limited resources already being drained from urban schools.

The hustle has grown disproportionately unfair. I see it every day. I feel it. And I know it.

Too many do not, including political elites in both parties. It is criminal and shameful. It is unfair and wrong.

There's so much banter going on in our nation right now, but for me the most despicable truth in the United States is the inequality in our school districts. It doesn't surprise me that schools don't have librarians or opportunities to check out books, because cuts aren't anything new.

But it doesn't make it right, especially in a country that used to pride itself on its public schools.

Shed Tears Dearest Nation. We've simply lost our way.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Small Gestures. Huge Reminders Of What Is Most Important.

It's the grind, man. The grind. I can't decipher what day it is, what page I'm on, which of the 535 unread emails I should address first, and how it is I'm supposed to be 20 places at the same time while meeting deadlines that this is due, and that is due, and come to my office, and 'oh, yeah, I have to teach, too.'

I've been at Fairfield almost six years and this is part for the course in January. I don't see any way to change this. Living in my office is the only cure, but even that is not enough. I will be late with work this year, slow in response, and unable to be on top of my game. I'm settling with that. This perfectionist realizes that, at this point, it is just impossible. The work of two...maybe three...jobs can't be done by one person. I love the grind, that's my nature, but not when it's become this.

Always, I'm doing what I can do the best way that I can do it.

I went to the CWP office in the English Department yesterday (sometimes I go over there to remind Caryn that I will eventually get to the backlog of our work - a promise I've been making since September), and Elizabeth Hilts, and adjunct facilitating the core writing program, had a note in my box with a tattoo she found. I love it. It is so nice to know someone is thinking of you and the little 'rub on' made my day. I will save it for another day, tattooing myself for an event or occasion where it is more suitable.

Arrived home late last night and got things prepped for class this morning - a debut in Bridgeport Public Schools with a new cohort of undergraduates. I'm looking forward to see how it goes.

And Happy Birthday, Edem! My goal is celebrate his birthday somehow, but I don't know exactly what the details will be yet.

We could spend the evening doing fact checking on all the reporting coming out in stereo from DC, but that is getting old. There aren't truths coming out of DC, and we merely wait to see how everything is unraveling and being reported.

Amidst the crazy stress that is par for the academic course, I guess what is hardest this year is a loss in faith in humanity. I thought people...at least Americans...were better than this.