Thursday, June 27, 2013


I'm not sure when politics became part of my everyday life.  One day I'm climbing a tree, desperately trying to deny that despite my most fervent prayers, breasts had traitorously sprouted on my chest. The next day it's all mortgages, teaching, loving, family and politics. Here are some ways that politics affect my life- whether or not I want them to.

I am bothered by oppression.  Any oppression.  Oppression of teachers by districts under the control of legislators in the pockets of testing companies. I am bothered by this especially because children lose. When you spend more on prisons than education *cough*OklahomaTexas*cough*, your state is in ideological trouble.

I am bothered by legislature affecting marginalized groups. I'm glad that DOMA was struck down. You can't legislate against something because you think it's yucky.  I think lots of things are yucky- eating meat, living beyond ones means, and snorting cocaine off of a hot guy's backside. But I avoid those things.. I don't try to pass laws about it.

I am bothered by misogyny. As the Texas state legislature has demonstrated by killing their 500th inmate, a woman by the name of Kimberly McCarthy, they don't like women.  There are few enough women in politics as it is, and as Wendy Davis filibustered a restrictive and breathtaking law to shut down most of the abortion clinics in Texas, that hatred showed itself again and again.  Over 600 bills were introduced in 2013 to regulate a woman's body in Texas.  It's only June, people. How many have ever been introduced to regulate men's bodies? Oh yeah, zero.

It bothers me even more when women participate in this perpetuation of misogynist culture. Because it wouldn't exist if women didn't somehow get duped into falling for it and being "good" women. I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints anyway.

Emotions are running high lately, something I can't afford right now. I'm heading to a family reunion this weekend and thankfully, my husband has volunteered to go with me.  As my friend Cathy advised, he is offering a cocktail of wine, valium and chocolate.  Wish me luck.

I'm one of the three Independent/Freethinker/Democrats in the family.

Maybe we'll talk about politics.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Portland in Pictures

G and I headed to Portland for a few days before my summer work schedule began. 
Apparently, Portland is run by the mafia. This is at Bagdad Cafe on Hawthorne Street

This is at VooDoo Doughnuts downtown. They were great!

A driver in front of us. I love the sticker of the woman lounging- reading a book. This person wins the internet!

The International Rose Test Garden in Portland. Lovely and good-smelly.

The beautiful Columbia River, which separates Washington and Oregon. 

Some guy I picked up in the rose garden.

At high tea in the Heathman Hotel. Perhaps the highlight of my trip (besides the shopping).

In the Japanese Gardens. Stunning vistas. 

Another view of the Japanese Gardens. Loved it. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Graduate

Last weekend was pretty amazing. My niece, Jessica, graduated from high school in the same gymnasium where I graduated from high school 20+ years before. Even the robes were the same.  I checked her tag just to be sure, but no, it did not have my initials in it.
Class President, National Honor Society...

The place where I spent my adolescence is not much changed. The school buildings have been well maintained, as are most structures in town. The woodshop and agriculture buildings are still standing, off to the south of the gym, which in turn is south of the main school building.  They still have the weight "room" on the loft in the gym, an open-air place that doubles for gymnastics whenever a qualified teacher happens to get snagged in the teaching dragnet. And in early June, if you cross the street and go through the park to the West, you'll come to the city pool which has opened for summer and does so on the last day of school.

After the pomp and circumstance and the hour-long awarding of scholarships to three or four main students who sat at the front (my niece chief among them), the crowd disbursed to the front lawn for a reception.  Me, I felt skeevy. Like seriously skeevy. Here were several of my former classmates, with their children graduating and me having been absent for 17 or 20 years made them peer at me as through through a dirty windowpane. They could make out my outline but needed to step closer, clean the glass and concentrate in order to place me.  And trust me, those looks are not comforting looks. I wasn't a popular girl in high school and mostly I'm known in that community these days by the stuff I post on Facebook.  Those who recognized me really recognized my husband and said something along those lines. I'm glad that sort of thing doesn't bother him. We left pretty quickly, because the next day was set for a family barbecue and because I am terrible at small talk. I end up saying the wrong things or asking inappropriate questions or not saying enough and looking like I'm pretty snotty.

I love my niece and I won't comment on her life because it is uniquely her own, just as every single one of those 23 kids who graduated has lived an unique life. However, they have touch points in common with everyone who has graduated from DHS in the last 30 years or so- the curriculums, some of the teachers, the lockers and that spiral staircase. Even the stupid Current World Problems class. High school wasn't something I enjoyed or that I felt I had accomplished a feat when I was done. It was something I lived through, a thing I was proud to have endured. It was a place I had to go and it took a daily act of will to attend regularly.

Which I didn't. I stayed home and read book upon book upon book. I lived on Main street, right on the highway. My sister still lives there. Saturday in the gymnasium, I felt as I did when I was a kid: I was among the crowd, but not of the community.  A stranger in a strange land. I wonder how many of those kids who graduated feel the same?

If I could, I would tell them a few things, like how this isn't "it", how it gets better and that the choices they make in the next 5 years may define them- but also that change is possible at any given time. I didn't get my act together until my late 20s.  I would say that the world is vast and if they go explore it and avoid the chain restaurants of the world, then their perspective will broaden and change. I would say that I'm glad they made it this far either because of the help from their families or in spite of it, and that there isn't such a thing as starting over, only going forward.

I would say that grown ups don't know everything. And safety nets are an illusion.

But there is also good news. The only thing now holding them back is themselves.

Outside of this corner of the world, nobody knows you and that's a great thing and a scary thing at the same time. It's scary because you have to make your own way and it's great because you can. And because you truly can be whomever you want to be. It's like walking a tight rope between buildings. You don't have to go out there. If you do, you could fall.  If you make to the other side, there are probably lots of other tight ropes to go climb after that first one. The thrill is in learning to be a tightrope walker.

Every fall, my classroom fills with newly-minted tightrope walkers.  They are scared that day, the first day of school.  Not everyone in their classes got to go to college anyway- either by choice or by circumstance.  Many are there by the skin of their teeth. But they have each girded up their meager weapons and adventured this far. They come from all over and nowhere in particular. And suddenly, they are in a place where nobody can help them and they must make or break by their own devices. It's a trial by fire and as a teacher, I am always surprised, not surprised, and usually by the end of the year, in awe of how well they have fared- or how badly they have crashed and burned. But mostly I am humbled to get to watch, to set those trials and to help them sometimes through hurdles. I'm scared for my niece, a little bird about to fly on her own. I know that she'll be ok though, eventually.

For now, all is the same. She woke up this morning in her childhood home, a just-graduated senior with her whole future in front of her and the world at her feet. Hopefully, that is comforting and not overshadowed by the fact that things change and will continue to change. Someday if she goes back to the old high school gym and experiences the vertigo of seeing the familiar next to the not-quite-as-it-was, she will smile and clap wildly for whomever is graduating next.
My Great Aunt Sarah- a long ago graduate. And my great nephew, Sawyer. Class of 2036?

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Oh how I love June! 
The hottest the weather got last month was in the 80s, but mostly it was mild and stayed in the 60s and 70s like it should. Sometimes it dipped into the 40s at night and twice we left the water dripping for an overnight freeze. 

And now it's June. In my world that means that 1. Our wedding anniversary and 2. The end of classes. Not sure which I'm more excited for. Maybe 3. Time to travel and find adventures!  

It's #3 for sure, though #1 makes #3 so much more fun. 

This weekend, we're headed to Walla Walla for a little fun scoping out the valley and attending my niece's 18th birthday/high school graduation.  I can't believe that little girl is all grown up.  Well, mostly grown up! I'll also get to visit with other relatives and meet my new great-nephew Sawyer who turned two months old today. Lots of pictures to come... 

Next week, since school is letting out, I'm taking a few days off and we're heading to Portland for a little vacation.  G has never been there but I'm betting It'll take a bit to get him to come home.  Rainy, liberal, vegetarian, eco- and- vegan-friendly. Oh yes, this is the place. 

So with all this in place, I took a nice, composed selfie with red lipstick before I left the house: 

This is how I think I look
Nice, huh? Good light, nice smile, no teeth. In the movie of my life, this is how I would look. I got to have coffee on the porch, read a bit of a book, texted with my friend Carrie and talked to my dear Charlotte, whose health is improving. Red letter and red lipstick day! 

And I headed off to work. I get to walk to work most days, which I love.  It's a great 15 minute commute. Then I ran into one of my students, who is graduating on Saturday. We hugged, talked about how amazing he is- and he truly is. I mean, graduating from college and moving to Brazil to teach music education? Yes! Dream come true!! 

And we took this picture: 
This is how I really look
This is how I actually look- excited face, big cheeks pushing up my sunglasses and my neck- well, doing something. 

So much for glamour. 

And you know what? I don't care. Ennui is overrated. It's summertime and the livin's easy... ! Happy trails! 

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Last week passed in a bronchitic haze. (I just adjectived a disease.) I'm looking at my last blog post- I wrote it on my iPad and it cut any cool formatting I might have done.

I limped through the week, "teaching" classes and propping myself up in my office. I am so, so glad that by the end of the quarter, my students are independent learners and are expected to do most of the work in the class with me acting as guide. I did give up on Thursday and just went to the doc. Grey helped me keep track of what medicines I took and when and what I could and would take next.

These peonies were just waving in the wind
Friday was emotional. It was the last day I would see my Multicultural Literature class. First, we had a graduating senior in the class and this was his last class to attend as an undergraduate. We clapped for him and wished him well on his next adventure- Music education in Brazil! Then it was on to a presentation by my last group of students on the influence of African-Americans on American music. It was interesting, featuring many famous and infamous singers and songwriters and leaving out a few of the more obvious ones in favor of ones people may not know. It sparked a good discussion. Then I handed back some papers and told students that, as promised, I would answer their questions on my opinions of the works we discussed in class. I tend to hold a strict rule of withholding my opinion because it might restrict what students can discover.
 Their questions reflected a deep continued interest and understanding of the materials. And a continued reflection of those things. I was deeply moved. Then that was it. I thanked them for their amazing efforts and congratulated them on being such a wonderful class, one I truly enjoyed. Several stayed after to shake my hand and say "thank you".

 Damn, I wish I had felt better.

 Ah well.

Yesterday morning, we in the Central Washington Writing Project finalized plans for the June 18-27 Summer Institute. It's going to be fun. My contribution was introducing the idea of writing marathons, which will be our opening activity. I'm the technical liaison this summer too. So I get to be part of but not particularly responsible for major projects. My favorite!

 After that, I was tapped (yes, on a Saturday morning) to write the bonus points section of the grant we've been working on, so Grey and I got some lunch and worked from 2 until almost 8 and got that part done. I was finally feeling better and had had 6 hours of sleep- recovering after a night of only 2.5 hours from all the coughing and weird medicine. We had that sparkling wine and went to bed. The haze is starting to clear up. I'm off to a book club to discuss "The Giver" with some junior high school kids and their parents.

This bistro set is my birthday present. G picked it out and it's exactly what I wanted. :) 

And Happy Anniversary to this guy! What a wonderful man! 
Birthday bubbles, a little late.