Monday, March 13, 2006

The Longest Post

Okay, here's a selection from some journal entries I have written during writing time with my kiddos. I will spare you my discussion of hailstorms and disappointment at the Terps not being in the NCAA Tournament until a later date.

We will begin with early in the year entries and proceed toward the present. The particulars for those who need to know ALL the details: All of these entries are handwritten in a black marbled college ruled composition book of 100 pages. The ink is generally black roller ball, blue ball point, or purple Pilot Precise rolling ball. The handwriting is generally difficult to read. They are numbered consecutively beginning with #6 (I don't know where the first five are (I wrote them on scraps of paper--poor planning)). They are each written, along with the twenty students in my 3rd hour (which started the year with 30), in a span of ten minutes at the start of class. I hope you find them entertaining, informative, inspirational, enlightening, and/or all of the above.
#7 (no date)

I changed the plan. We were supposed to do an in class writing over Equiano, but I felt like it was more important to do some reaction to the text. We'll see how that works out. I have so much to plan for...each year seems like I am just rebuilding the same wheel over and over again. I guess this is just the way I work. I would hate to work with the same texts and activities year after year. I would get bored. I love writing with the students. I like sitting at the desk and writing, almost as if I am one of them. I think they like it, too. I think we will be doing great things this year. I like the psychology of the class for the most part. It seems pretty cool to me. I need to do a better job of incorporating grammar and vocabulary into lessons and readings. I think the stuff in the textbook is good for ideas, but not as a whole. I can't find my Teaching Poetry book. I don't know what happened to it. I looked for it last night in all my book cases and looked in the piles on my desk, but I couldn't find it. I miss it alot right now. It is wierd--something exists in your life and you don't think about it and then, when you need it, if it's gone, you can't believe you didn't think about it. A quote from Lincoln: "He is a friend who gives me a book I have not read." Or something like that. I have to remember where I saw that quote. Was it in one of those teacher books? Can't remember that guys big deal. Writing at this point just to write; there is nothing in my head. I imagine a student who is writing as much as I am is complaining about his hand hurting. Mine is a little sore right now. I really love this pen. I got it for my birthday (wedding present?) from Monkey. I should let her know that I use this pen.

#14 (no date)

no time-- clerical stuff

#23 (11/17/05)

The nature of time. Space. Space time. I wish I better understood quantum physics. For some reason, I just can't get it. It is a lack of prior knowledge, an unfamiliarity with the language, and a poor ability to think spatially. Why is that so hard for me? Can I improve at it? I believe yes, but more importantly, how can I use that to understand how some of my students have problems understanding things that I get? I don't know. I am preoccupied today. That is no excuse. If I can't understand the.... Maybe I can understand it, if I write about it. Or talk about it. Although writing would be better. The ideas of the black hole. Theoretically. As a particle or whatever approaches a black hole, an observer outside of the black hole sees the particle slow and the wavelengths of light sent from it expand to an infinitessimally small speed that never reaches--O wait, how can the wavelength expand; the length shifts redder, which means it gets smaller. Anyway, it appears that the particle never gets to the black hole to the outside observer.

#24 (11/18/05)

Woohoo! My man DW just will not be quiet. But now, he's good. Overhead time will follow this + then Phillis Wheatley. What will we see? Don't know. I am dying of hunger and finding that my journal entries are getting more and more pedantic as time goes by. Really getting into HDT [Henry David Thoreau] this year. Wonder if the kiddos are? How can I make sure students are doing their work and still give them class time to go over material. The ear--it is the oddest thing--ridges and folds and shapes bizarre. What determines the ear? They are all so different. Some attached at the lobe, some not. Some growing backward from the head, some growing straight out. Some ovals, some circles. And when one looks at an ear, one says, "That is a good ear," or, "That is a bad ear." What determines this assessment? My idea of a good ear is surely not the same as someone else's. What determines what is good or bad? Is one ear shape more successful than another? Is one considered most attractive (more than others)? Is one design better at being an ear than another? For some reason, this applies to other things, too, like breasts and eyes and mouths, but I find it most wierd when thought about in terms of ears. But really what makes any one thing intrinsically more attractive than another?

#25 (11/21/05)

Free writing. Focus on writing. HD, in a letter accompanying some early sections of "Helen in Egypt" said she had gone five years without writing a poem. That is something! I haven't gone that long, but I haven't been very dilligent about it. [The rest is drivel...moving on!]

#33 (12/13/05)

I wonder how to tell you of the color of my shirt. It's like a burlap sack or the butternut of old Confederate uniforms. Sometimes I think it is gold and sometimes I think it is brown. It is like copper. It is flecks of mica in top soil. It is a background for blue or maybe (when feeling bold) red. Shiny black buttons. It is a neutral color, evoking no emotion. It is sharp. It is lukewarm (because copper makes it cold--metal cold). This description is not going well. It is earthy, for sure. Not of the sky at any rate. Definitely of the earth. The ground in winter. Can the ground in winter be warm? In fall? Hands in the soil, nails bleeding from scrapes on rocks and roots, little stones rubbed between the fingers. The brown of a Yukon gold potato skin. The light gold of autumn. Harvest. Withered, dried pumpkin vines, their large prickly leaves curled and black around the edges. Flattened blackening orbs signify the passage of fall into winter. Snow comes soon. No more shirt. Well, that was better than I thought it would be. Writing is shifting gears now. Winding down. Finding a new thing to be.

#37 (1/18/06)

Back to it for real. Announcements interrupted our writing. Well, I'm writing, but I have little to say, so I am just going to say I have nothing to say. Maybe I should read this journal entry out loud as an example of how much you can write when you have nothing to say. Because I have nothing to say today, which rhymes: say and today. Though I have nothing to say (which is not really true, since seven things just ran through my head while I was thinking of something to say--I just didn't choose to say them), anyway, since I have nothing to say, I am simply going to mention how I have nothing to say in some different ways. Nothing to say=me. I have something to say, which is nothing. This is me with nothing to say. If there is nothing to say, then I must be writing in my journal. I have never had so much nothing to say (except for the previously mentioned seven things that ran through my head while I was thinking of something to say). Anyone with something to say can't be me, because I have nothing to say. By the way, I have nothing to say. If this journal were a song, it would sound like this: . Is there anything more exciting than a journal entry full of words that add up to nothing to say? I can't believe that I have been saying nothing for nearly (almost exactly) nine minutes. One more minute of nothing and this will all be nothing more. I can't believe how sore my arm is. Nothing hurts! Nothing on this page or the previous page. Nothing is all.

#53 (3/9/06)

Math class. DW asked me about math class. Walt Whitman has nothing to do with math class. Walt Whitman wrote about the learned astronomer; how the lecture of the astronomer, filled with numbers and facts, physics and chemistry, was nothing--completely incomprehensible. But after the astronomy lecture, walking out under the magnificent stars (in the mid-19th century, the stars would have been numerous and awe-inspiring--very little light pollution), he was filled with a spiritual understanding of all those scientific theories that the astronomer was prattling on about. This is very transcendental. Very Romantic. Coming to terms with all things on one's own. Not accepting the time-honored beliefs of previous generations simply because they are time-honored, but experiencing and contemplatingthings for oneself and understanding them and accepting them without influence from others. This, in the eyes of Transcendentals, is the truest form of understanding. Truth without societal corruption is the only form of truth. Personal truth. And, in a perhaps naive aspect of the Transcendental train of thought, since it was truth, all men and women would arrive at the same truth personally. At this point in history, "truthiness" was not a concept. Truth was absolute. Today's world seems to leave that belief behind.

#54 (3/10/06)

Yesterday, I was discussing the idea of absolute truth. Well, at least, I had come to a point in my discussion of Whitman's poetry that had led me to the idea of personal truth being, in the eyes of Transcendentals, universal truth (if it is truly arrived at). Whitman's poetry, heavy on self-referential pronouns and pronouncements, embraced the concept of the individual being part of/the same (on some level) as the universe. To paraphrase, I am I, and being I, I am you. I am universal as you are universal. I sing myself, and in so singing, sing you, too. And so it goes. This is a beautiful (on a personal and on a molecular/subatomic (at this point my grasp of the universe breaks down a bit--quantum physics mess me up (life was good (though tenuously grasped) in Einsteinian times, but now I have no idea what some of the contemporary physicists are talking about)level) and true idea. Reminiscent, for me, of a book I read in a movement class I took back in my theatre-Bohemian days. I think it was called The Universe is a Green Dragon, and it postulates (though it is not a postulation--it's true), that the matter we are made from and the matter that the universe is made from are the same kind of matter. Furthermore, since matter can not be created or destroyed, we are made of the universe (present at the Big Bang).

#55 (3/13/06)

Right. So, Friday we were digging on the Big Bang. Over the weekend, we in Central Standard heard a number of big bangs, as hailstorms, accompanied by some funnel clouds and a tornado or two, ravaged the area. Saturday, the Civic was dented in a dozen places by golfball-sized hail. Sunday afternoon brought tons of hail to the area north of the Monkey House, but just a minute or so of slightly-larger-than-golfball-sized hail to our front yard. The weather forecasters on the TV were barely audible , as what sounded like a city full of bricks rained down on the roof of the TV station not two miles from the Monkey House. A funnel cloud was spotted in our town, but no touch downs. At about midnight, more hail fell on the Monkey House, but no additional damage seems to have occurred. What is a Transcendental concept of that kind of nature? The awful, destructive kind? I would imagine that they understand that as just another aspect of the face of God. Not all happiness and peace, the Transcendental God. After all, a universe created in explosion and fire and dust (the scientific, 5 billion year old version of creation) was not the work of a 24/7 pleasant diety--the diety of nature, red in tooth and claw. Peaceful at times, but destructive always. After all entropy is the natural natural state, a constant movement toward disorder. The brick wall falls ("Something there is that does not love a wall."--Frost, "Mending Wall"), the grass covers the parking lot, left to its own devices ("I am the grass; I cover all."--Sandburg, "Grass"), nature consumes all, eventually.


There you have it. I hope you stayed for the end! It's a bit disappointing to see how small these writings look when they are typed out, but, then, how much can you do in ten minutes?


Anonymous said...

Reda, you have inspired me to write on your blog for ten minutes. I've been reviewing applications for most of the day, and that has required my discerning focus and has left me hardly able to fully appreciate your writings that cover everything from the mundane to the sublime.

Regarding the mundane, I was intrigued at your process attempting to capture in words the particular hue of your shirt one fine day. Interesting your reference to elements in so doing. I'd go with 'brownish'. j/k.

Also hey about those ravaging storms! My mom actually encouraged me to call you all to see if you were OK. See, she has this tendency to maintain connections to people (including my people) via weather and by that I mean TWC (The Weather Channel). She used to be all the time callin me when I lived out there, whenever MO was swathed in the red of severe storms. Not for the first time in my life and certainly not for the last, I'll admit: Mom was right. I should have called. Thereby fulfilling the prophecy that I am becoming more and more like my mother. But then, I *didn't* call, thereby making me reactive to not being like my mother!

And that segues nicely to the sublime. I had no idea that you give regular thought to the quantum stuff. You should talk to Philip about that; it's a huge interest of his, and he can talk intelligently and in a down-to-earth way about it more capably than anyone else I know.

Wow, this 10-minutes of writing thing is fun and cathartic too! I'll end by updating you that I'm starting to feel better with this whole terrible wetness evil and that my car is currently being repaired. It's also spring break here, so I'm getting lots of work done and also having time to relax.

The weather here was absolutely amazing for the past few days. Yesterday I left work early to deal with my car, to rest re: the wetness evil, and had a nice dinner with Philip outside. Margaritas are a wonderful cold remedy!

My 10 minutes of blogging fame are up, and surely by now you and your other two occasional readers are dulled by the ordinary minutia of my life. But I feel great! Thanks, Reda!


ATR said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it. I may share your positive experience with my kiddos.

Glad to hear you're feeling better (and that your car is getting repaired). All is well, here. Tell your mom we said thanks for thinking of us!