Some of the best people I know are more brave--to me--than Moses will ever be or truthfully any biblical or mythical character.
Brav·ery Pronunciation: \ˈbrāv-rē, ˈbrā-və-\ Function: noun Inflected Form(s): plural brav·er·ies Date: 1548 1: the quality or state of being brave : courage 2 a: fine clothes b: showy display
I've been busy this weekend with the babies Thursday after studies and Friday into late night. They were certainly a handful - Rubi more so than Abis. But she has rights and demands we meet and honestly being five years old is not easy. We love her change and argument - as long as she's respectful - we let her make her case, i.e., going to the park in 102 degree weather. She argued and pleaded, but this time she lost...for her own good. Another example pancakes at 11:00 at night. She won that one. A final example, playing games for kids (pbskids.org) past midnight. She lost that one.
Abis was good too and has discovered his toes and coos even louder - he actually laughs like a little boy when we kiss his neck and underneath his chin. It's hilarious because he is tickled and happy and coos non-stop. His little arms flail about and when we put our arms underneath his feet, he nearly springs out - his legs are so strong and he is sooooooooo fat. At four, almost five months he is eating gerber apples and carrots. His little lips smacked and smacked at the new tastes and Gera says, "Yeah, he thinks that's a chiche."
Finally, Saturday was our time. We were happy to have it, but love the little time we give the babies. They are worth it. In the midst of a busy weekend and lots to do, I was thinking about the people I know and have watched with my eyes succumb to cancer or to death in general: my 92 year old great grandmother, my very young father, even my brother and Israel came to mind. I always believe, I feel innately that I have been brave in surviving the loss of my only child--and trust me, there were times when I just wanted to go with her--my nostalgia to see her again, to hear her voice again to touch her again was overwhelming in the greatest since--nothing else mattered. It's a phenomenon, an experience that has no language. But I think back on the year 2003 of my father, of my maternal great grandmother - both passed in this same year from cancer. I was thinking of Farrah Fawcett and how brave she and my family members were for facing their enemy and I think about Israel for facing a different kind of enemy.
I will forever wear the shoes of a mother who lost her daughter, but there's a feeling that I don't know and that I am not sure if I could be as brave: facing cancer. To my loved ones who have and who do...you are my hero, now and forever.
The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy; But I hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy.
We romped until the pans Slid from the kitchen shelf; My mother's countenance Could not unfrown itself.
The hand that held my wrist Was battered on one knuckle; At every step you missed My right ear scraped a buckle.
You beat time on my head With a palm caked hard by dirt, Then waltzed me off to bed Still clinging to your shirt.
I chose this poem because I think ambivalence is a good start when teaching young students who are new to poetry or who (in my case often at the college level) do not like poetry and will argue that it is unimportant. Also, I had to remind myself that I'm not teaching my classmates, but learning to teach college freshman and the like (what I currently do in my profession). I presented My Papa's Waltz as I often do with my current students, those who struggle with picking a poem, then writing about it.
I presented some images of boxing, waltzing, a child dancing on a father's toes, and a child holding his ear crying. Roethke creates an image in this poem that can be read in two ways if not in others: a moment of fatherly-son play -- a moment of paternal abuse. Specific words create ambivalence and are interpreted either way. There are negative associations and positive ones - although the latter is more challenging to prove.
I like this kind of ambivalence in poetry because it always serves my goal: to ignite contrary sentiments in students that lead to debate. Ultimately, I am usually successful is discussing this work with students because they end up engaging the poem. They become closer readers without even being aware.
In my presentation I experienced some technical difficulties (I don't do Macs), but bounced back with what I hope was grace. A corrupted file, too, is never good. The funny thing is about four female students said to me during a break, "Oh my God, you handled that well. If that was me, I would have cried." And one Ph.D. student said, "You handled that as cool as a cucumber." I guess I understand them, but why breakdown? The point is to teach, even when at times we might have to improvise--a custodian of literature must be able to improvise.
Now, on an even better note, one MA who teaches 9th grade high school presented the same poem as I did, but I think her method is even more effective in sparking student engagement. She has students compare My Papa's Waltz to songs Walk a Little Straighter by Billy Currington and Dance with my Father by Luther Vandross. Very nice method and style. I like this because she brings in the same father-son relations theme but expressed from different perspectives. Her goal is to have students read the latter two, then she asks how does it affect students' prospective of Roethke's work. Very nice!
I've already started my 4,000 word essay. It won't be about Lolita; I'd like to write about Nabakov's work, but it's my experience that poetry is a difficult genre for students to grasp. I'm saving my thoughts, opines and all on Lo for later. I will write on ambivalence in literature and how it seduces students to becoming active participants and yes, even close readers. I'm using sources like Dickinson's "Twas a like Maelstrom, with a Notch" - what does it refer to? How does it make the reader-student participate in her work? By filling in the it does the reader-student sort of write the work with her? And, I'm using Shakespeare's Othello. What is that this Roderigo and Iago initially refer to? Of course, we find out later, but in the beginning we have to fill-in. And what about backstory?
Classes are ending July 7 and I have an even greater presentation coming up. Teaching Nabakov's Lolita; there will be others...professors, students, college affiliates invited to take in our short lectures.
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs, And towards our distant rest began to trudge. Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots, But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!--An ecstasy of fumbling Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time, But someone still was yelling out and stumbling And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.-- Dim through the misty panes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace Behind the wagon that we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin, If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs Bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-- My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.
It wasn't easy teaching literature, a poem of choice, to a bunch of Ph.d and seasoned MA students. I was nervous in the beginning, but quickly loosened once the hard, beautiful sounds, assonance in Wilfred Owen's poem read through my voice, off the curves of my lips. If you've never read this poem aloud, try it - it makes you want to cry because the language is beautiful, strong, but you are also stunned and horrified as Owen intends. As long as there is war...this poem...written in response to his World War I experience is timeless.
I was a little worried that a war poem might not set well, particularly once you get to the end and feel the bitterness in Owen's work. But there was such a variety in the poems colleagues chose. Overall, I think my lesson went over well in the short time frame we had - I focused on the strongest literary element: imagery and use of 'children' instead of young men, compound adjectives, and that prominent change to second person point of view. I haven't received my professor's comments yet, hopefully by tomorrow. I have one more to teach and then I have to teach Nabakov's Lolita - I'm looking forward to the latter. I'm so ready now.
Happy Father's Day to my two Daddies, Emmitt and James - the ex-Vietnam War Vets.
And for Father's Day Gera is getting an excellent dinner (caldo de camarones y pescado), a shot or two of gold Patron, and we may drive to the lake if the hot sun permits. He's spoken to his son so they've bonded for the day. We can't wait for the day when Alan comes to live with us. That will be the best Father's Day present.
Gera also said, "Happy Father's Day to you too." I responded with a curious smile, "Why would you say that?" He said, "Because you were Jenn's mother AND her father." Sometimes the sense he makes is too much to handle. It was endearing.
Hope you all have an excellent one and the weather is treating you well!
I swear my best friend loves her dogs more than her husband and their children. These are two separate moments of Trace & Crash passed out from too much Chardonnay!
You gotta love it!
and in her own words: 'Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO, What a Ride'
this little guy was just dying to get into something...he held his little body half in the air, couldn't make up his mind which way, up or down, he wanted to go. finally, he went on about his way, hopefully to later become something a lot more beautiful than he is now--ick!
and this mean mama has been hanging around between neighbors, giving that look of 'give me more food' but don't get close to me. her babies are the cutest things, but we can't touch them because she hisses, even at them at times and they scratch too much which means fleas...i hate cats with a serious passion so i stay far away and respect her space
the june bugs are back too, slamming their bodies into houses, cars, doors, thudding around and winging around like loons (crazies, not duckies). they are fascinating creatures to watch, that is until they fly in your direction...for me it's haul ass.
and then gera found a butterfly that could not fly. he brought it in the house and let it wander around and even tried to feed it cantaloupe juice in a tiny little spoon. he's nuts! but then again, i'm the same way with pokechop, the german shepard mix--i save all leftovers we have just for him and i even save skinfat from chicken. worse case...i bought a package of bacon, fried it and fed it to him. the neighbors are highly negligent.
i finally convinced gera to get rid of the impaired butterfly. it creeped me out aimlessly walking around the living room instead of flying.
. . .
In Texas, we are finally getting another break, today, from hot rains. The skies, for the last two days, have changed from dark green to gray-blue to dark gray. The high temps haven't been less than 90 degrees, in fact it's been in the mid 90s---this hot with falling rain. It's quite a sight to see. Here's a clip from two days ago...taken from our front porch as the rains are moved through with more that followed.
The beeping, the big green street light with the lightening storm in the background creates an eerie feeling of what a war zone must look like.
Despite the recent on-going storms, my flowers are doing quite well. I still have some to get in the ground.
a big pot of tiny hodgepodge my first attempt at serrano peppers more rose moss i need to plant--it's beat up by the rain mint, annoying weeds, and a new attempt at cilantro (if you can even see it) one part of my purple heart--it can dominate but requires no care another pot of something succulent that just grows on it's own each year wandering jew (a great grand fav)
With a little break, hopefully these will dry out some. Today, the sun is beaming through the thick humidity left behind with the rains. We're inside mostly.
Okay, just as fast as I can get this blog posted, the rains are close by---again! Tornados and hail. Yikes! And it's really hot out. I can't win, but then again, hot rains aren't so bad.
Caught off guard Got it right There's a fascinating truth in the 40 year old spread myth...it may be 30. In any event, mine showed up finally, but only, after I met Gera, three years into fives years ago. I welcome it with straight feel-good...I love to jump up and down and feel jiggle, something I've never had. It feels great to go from petite to hell-yeah, that doesn't fit anymore. That sunburn I posted about earlier is finishing up, only to greet another one. Only today, I tried to enjoy my favorite planet in the shade. I sold quite a bit. One couple came through and wiped out all my old, vintage bottles (one still had a dried dead wasp hung into the bottle lip--you can actually see it in one of the photos). Pretty cool, but I kept those bottles separate from my pretty stuff. Some things I like to sell as I find them. Customers like that.
The first day of graduate school I left with a glow that won't quit...I even took it to work with me this morning---the market. Lots of the lighter reading in between sells (yes, that's my book in my hand in one pic) and brain changing from Spanish to English to Spanish to English (Gera didn't help with confusion between BRAND and BRAIN...when I say "miracle" too quickly, he thinks I'm saying "America"--and then there's the 'burn, born' and something else I can't recall that makes so much sense in it's confusion). I won't start on several ladies asking me about the size of some high heel shoes. They used 'me dida'. I'm accustomed to 'tamano'--both mean size as in shoes. Yeah, in one pic you see shoes, then they're gone. Reasons I work at the flea market: to earn money & to learn more Spanish.
Anyhoo, I am required to teach 3 poems, write 2-2,000 word essays and teach, yes, teach Lolita (the yes is meant for me as I'm sure most have done grad school). This is only the leg work. The first day for me was mostly about listening, until the professor called me read a Yeats poem out loud. Tuesday will be about contributing to the round table of 15. Intimate. Nice. I'm trying to be calm because I love everything about it so far, but I also realize that it's a very serious leap into not only literature, but teaching it (the not so easy part).
And I had my babes this weekend. I gave my FatDaddy a bath, usually I sponge bathe him because he's still a little guy; this weekend, he got the works. His sister helped---that was a task trying to monitor both. He blew bubbles and cooed--never once cried. Of course, Gera, makes him show out more than all. When Abis slept, Rubi and I did puzzles and we read. Her English is improving, but her teacher says she still won't speak it at school. We're working on that with an understanding that she's in a predominantly Spanish speaking household when she's not with us.
well guys, i'll be off for a while...will check blogs from time to time to see what's happening in blogvillage. today is offically my last day of freedom and i'm committed. i hope to post some of the education i discover--i'm such an opened, gaping wound when it comes to learning literature--(at my age now)--especially how to teach it. better. we'll see what i do.
in the meantime, i leave you with a few accidental, daily life of me snaps:
Rubi&me a while ago...check the teeth the new Texas Stadium for the out of state secret Cowboy loversmy sky, Rubi--Sunday at the flea market Rubi&my fatdaddy early morning view from our front door, don't you love our mailbox on the road, the horse paved distance peace out for now
Most people have someone or maybe a few someones in their lives who are permanently engraved in their hearts and even their souls...I've been a very fortunate female in my young adult life, as well as my current life to have had and to have three beautiful women who, in different ways, impacted my life and who are special to me in a way that the word loses its natural meaning because the feeling is beyond what the word special could ever convey, three women who touched me while I was a mother, and after my daughter passed.
Before I start this lovely late-in-life marvelous journey of pursuing an even higher level of education, I must give credit to Lori, Shawna and Trace---they have been by my side in ways unimaginable and they have each supported me and loved me unconditionally. I would not be able to begin this next journey without each of them, our pasts and rich histories together, separately. They each know what they have done to give new meaning to what true, real friendship is all about.
they have caught my tears
they have held my hand
they have lifted me in a time when I was a falling spirit
they have taught me so many prospectives in life that
....as a single mother, I could never have seen or experienced
they have never left my side neither for better nor for worse
they cried with me when they didn't feel up to it
they have helped me keep my memories alive by letting me tell my daughter's stories
....over and over and over again and again
they have pushed me softly and loved me even with my flaws
they have listened like a sister
they have been sincere
they have been judge-less
they have always been themselves with me.
Idiosyncrasies and fond memories:
Lori, African American Professional Engineer: I still don't understand how she competes with the big boys in engineering...they've tried to shove and bully her out, but she's still there...stronger than ever...she's an amazing wonder. I love watching her hands when she slices bread or prepares an afternoon lunch in the morning before...the way she stands back on her legs...her mesmerizing smile. She's the one who knows when I sing hardcore love songs (as hard as Teena Marie songs), I'm often singing to or about the nostalgic love for my daughter. She taught me about black American jazz.
Shawna, Taiwanese American Published Author/Educator: I love watching her sop overeasy eggs on a plate and our long talks about writing, love, academia and Taiwan. She likes to grab an elbow to cross a busy street...I love her dearly because I've never heard her criticize another or strike out against another in harsh judging (reminds of my step mom who never ever ever ever speaks negatively or against an individual--I seriously don't think they are normal in this sense)...I love that. I'm grateful to have been a part of her writing process. She taught me how to see a bunch of writing stuff I missed on my own.
Trace, White American Self Assured Legal Assistant: I love the way she says "always" -- so Wisconsin, even though she doesn't know she's saying it with an accent. I love the way she gives herself meticulous pedicures, drinks wine and never ever ever throws away food. She is strikingly beautiful and honest and loves men more than one woman's share. She taught me so much about the male, even when I wasn't in need or looking or desirous. She doesn't cry, ever ever never. It has to be pretty damn significant. She helped me transition from the loss of my daughter to who I am today. Her son is my first real male baby boy and he still is. She watched me struggle through math and statistics to get to UCDavis. She knows me nearly as well as I know myself. She is my blood.
They are the only intimate, close, trustworthy friends I have on this earth, in this life. They are my family. I will never ever be able to repay them, but they don't look...they have sent me on this journey, long before I arrived, with love and well wishes or simply without words...
I can't begin my first day of graduate school tomorrow without saying "thank you" to each of them for the difference they've made in my life...and "i love you each" too...(they know though).
So, enough sap...here's my song picks for them. It took a while and really not long enough because there's too many songs I'd sing to each of them at any given moment:
I had a minor break in work this weekend. So Gera and I hit the road early Saturday morning to go see what we could see...we shop to sell. Usually, we have other means of acquiring stuff for our booth at the flea market, but we wanted to try something different: estate sales.These old cups and saucers were to die for. I could only think of my blogpal ArtSparker---Boy, what she can do to this quiet, conventional collection. I pick up one, then start to swallow and swallow 3, 4, 5 times at the prices...let's just say each set was priced at nearly $20. There were other gorgeous items in the house, stuff I wanted to buy for my mother, but couldn't.
I felt awkward after paying for my purchase and leaving with a dreadful plastic bag of old rags ($2) Gera can use for staining and other woodwork projects, a whatnot, priced within my budget ($1), a set of 3, yes only 3 cool drinking glasses...tried to bargain, but these people where out to make serious dough, no one was laughing or smiling and there was one lady who followed everyone around with a tally book so all you had to do was take your ticket to the counter in the living room and the cashier would ring you up. The drinking glasses were ($5)...I almost backed out at the idea of there only being 3, and finally, Gera got two thin reading lights (really neat) so I can read when he's driving,($3). And that was it. Really, no one was buying anything because everything was priced so so high. When we finally were ready to leave, one of the worker people said, "In a few days, we may do a 50% off. So come back." Yeah right! The may was a bit too iffy and the drive was long.
After the second sale, we decided it's best to stick to the cheap way we get our profitable merchandise...and after finding the same set of rules at another estate sale, we ended that venue and decided to go to two favorite thrift stores.
Then we venture a little farther out and found an antique mall...I had such a difficult time focusing on one thing at a time. See why below: The prices were not within our budget so my difficulty in focusing became easier. It was still quite a fascinating little place. I came away with a ($2) bag I'll carry one or two books in, two ceramic figurines, ($3) each...I bought one because she is wearing a green dress. Gera purchased a ($7) small wooden sun. That's all! We probably won't go back there...it really is an antique store.
Whatever happens next weekend, we will stick to the impersonal thrift store or yard sale...we will avoid estate sales. Besides, they are pretty sad to be a part of...at least where someone has died. I've only been to a few and I always feel so weird selecting items from lifelong collections, from a private haven. What I don't chose is probably something so extraordinarily special to the deceased and what I do decide to buy, take away, was probably even more of a personal sentiment...creepy creepy crEEpy.
Cheap good stuff I took home from several garage sales: We had a great day at the flea market---and I stayed under the canopy. But I couldn't avoid direct sun for too long because I love it (again, it has to do with tutoring in an office all day).
Hours before securing a flea market space: We had to wait in a long line (lots of worthy, good competition)--and yes, unfortunately, that's my hairy leg--when I look at this photo all I can hear is my best friend, Tracy, saying..."ewww, that's fuckin gross!"--we became friends for many reasons, especially for her candor--she holds no prisoners). I managed to read a little too.
It's May 2012 and nothing has changed since November.11. I am all smiles at my relationship and myself. My honey and I continue to amaze each other on a daily basis. We're still ever so 'in' with each other. I completed my MA in literature last May and I'm teaching four college English courses to really smart students. I am hopeful to enter a doctorate program soon. This way, I can run out.All is scary good.
upon hearing your voice life again expands like moon crest like pomegranates swell to the sun and you are patient because god calls
when he came for you this morning you were bent into the flower bed singing black hymns so he left you alone until this third afternoon but even then he found you elbow deep in jewel weed with a mouthful of figs from a nearby tree again he waited because each time seemed to him an inconvenience and a wrong moment
and it was your persistent humming that drove him up and back until he could get his timing perfect he waited another day or so until
your gardening tools rest into porch corners your paring knife shines deeply into a drawer your hair comb lies slanted in a shoebox your wedding band hides in the mattress your fishing rod stays stolen
the sound of your voice desires to sing or hum but this time is perfect he has covered you like lavender-colored silence but he has also added streaks of olive green and pink because this is what the other soul-folk has told him to do and he has become tired in the process and therefore begins to rush sonances of your body he finds you the least complex when you are not outdoors digging in that garden, humming hymns and thriving and for a moment he questions his own timing its perfection and everything goes accordingly until he finds you have buried fruit peels and wandering jew petals underneath your back this does not anger him but it tilts his agility to deliver you and in his own questioning and presence of smells that he cannot privilege all this over powers his choice all this reels his otherwise perfection into letting you go
when i see you sitting in the plush squares of limitless St. Augustine your eyes are lit like crystal warmed soil releases from each of your hands
how did i get to this point this point of knowing you for you are nearly a century old