Friday, October 27, 2006

Freaky Fridays

  • The In-Laws are coming into town tomorrow. Wife put me on entertainment post. Three generations (including a sister coming in from the NYC and a grandmama) and I gotta pick something to entertain 'em all in a city where all the establishments have been hijacked for Halloween for Hipsters.

Hope nobody's seen Marie Antoinette. Or, as it's called in Canada, New Order for an Old Age.
  • Why am I always hating on Cannucks? I don't know. Most Chicagoans are supposed to hate Cheese-heads and Motor-City Nuts. Maybe it's just an exaggerated, but friendlier, place that I reserve my pretend disdain for.
  • I'll be missing the Bears on Sunday. Again. Screw.
  • Having a cold sucks. Mostly because I'm a dairy hype.
  • "Lola" is playing from my computer while my wife is conversing with friends in South America in spanish and I'm sitting cross-legged on our clean, multi-colored wool carpet. Life is good, but I can't help the feeling that they're laughing about me.
  • I moved my content files to the D: drive. And I don't really know how to do that. So my iTunes and iPod got all mixed signals and stuff; it's kind of like I had to reboot. All that to say, I no longer know what my top 25 songs are on my iPod. It's like I'm a music zombie, with a lack of direction. WHO AM I??!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Dungeon

My wife calls it the Dungeon. It's the dank place we take our clothes to wash, one load at a time. We need to leave our cozy apartment through the back, down the steps overlooking our unprotected car port (it's not a garage, it's a little concrete lot) and down a couple steep steps into a subtarranean lair with low ceilings. I've hit my head on that ceiling a few times. I'm sure I would've stubbed my forehead a few times with the drop-down boards holding up our floor, but I have my ego to thank for keeping me out of danger. (Don't go down there. You don't want to go down there. It's rather foul and dark. You don't know what rodent or plank could be awaiting you.)

On one of my few and oh-so precious days off, the wife has me running errands (which is why I did not disclose this fact to the rest of my family. "Oh, you've got all the time in the world now! Why don't you..."). Well, one specific errand. Laundry to the Lavanderia. All one hundred and three pounds of it down a eighth-of-a-mile trek. Can't complain really, but that's never stopped me before.

As I'm putting the clothes in a large, strapless, torn gym bag and two large garbage bags that should not survive the journey, I listen on my $300 iPod to a sermon by Mars Hill Bible Church's Rob Bell. He's doing a series called, appropriately enough, "Jesus Wants to Save Christians." And the sixth in this series is on the parable of the good Samaritan. Jesus' point, Bell argues, isn't to be a "Good Samaritan", but to be a good neighbor, recognizing the dignity and worth of - and actively loving - every person, including those we can't name by name because doing so would give them a pause in our lips (for example, "Oh, you mean, my ex? You mean, those people?") and possibly a space in our hearts and gasp, homes!

At a time when some very specific people are getting on my last nerves and I'm trying to decide how I need to open up my eyes to see the world around me and love "the least of these," I'm making headway into the Dungeon to retrieve our cute little detergent bottle (The real reason the Mrs. needs to buy the concentrated ALL). I open the back door (with no environmental sound, mind you, coming in my direction) to see a suddenly startled lady in dirty baggy clothes pull up herself and her pants from the ground. Just beneath her is a large puddle (hint: it's not rain) and this is all happening in front of the one car that's parked in the back.

I automatically, and just as reflexively as the lady, shut the door and try to hide the shame. I'm in agreeance with myself that maybe I should or could offer some assistance. After all, although there are many diners in the immediate area, the only truly public restrooms are in the parks, and the small one nearby may not be open or hospitable to her or "her kind". I try to calm myself. It's not like I've never seen that before nor that it's wholly unnatural or unexpected. There are a lot of homeless in our immediate area and we live at a pretty busy intersection. But I don't know what to do. Honestly, I knew that she'd have left in a major hurry after hearing the door open, but what if she didn't? What is the proper response? Is there a proper response?

"Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your liver"?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Get me back

I love my life. But I'm in a funk. And it's a difficult little jump to get over it, as the Staples would say.

I hate comparing the life of a middle-class White dude with the Civil Rights Struggle. It's not fair, but sometimes those songs and icons are so easy to appropriate...

My wife doesn't understand. But even she had to make movements that others didn't understand. I took today off work, partially to catch up on sleep. Partially to get the cobwebs out of my head. Partially to get grading done. Of course, other things are expected of me. Laundry. Shopping. Awaiting a never-ordered set of bookshelves for our many books and CD's. Well, mostly my many books and CDs.

The sun's finally shining on me. It's a bit nippy in the Starbucks. I'm wearing one of my funny-looking hats (the kind with the elongated top and two twisted sides that makes me look like a slightly tanned, overweight, and bespectacled version of a brunette Pippy Longstocking) and too-hip funny t-shirts.

I wear ties and slacks (usually dark kahkis) to work nearly every day. Every day. Wow. I never wore ties before unless it's required of me, and then I would always feel suffocated.

One of my students (that I also taught last year) can not get his hands around the fact that I dress up this year. He proposed that he would continue to act up until I started dressing down again. How's that for a threat. Two stubborn men, locked into patterns of behavior that neither would cede. He never proffered why he misbehaved (on a level that borders illegality) last year, or the years prior to that. I just thought it funny. Especially that a young man incapable of growing a beard and who constantly harasses women (his latest victim within the school being a teacher - which earned him a ten-day + suspension) would claim that my shaving de-genders me.

But I'm not sure what I'm writing for. I always assumed that I'm a writer because I have no choice. I like the click of my own words. I like a tensely-structured sentence. I like to come up with them on the fly, the idea that I'm letting go of my ego by dreaming words, that I'm demonstrating some otherwise hidden talent by writing some long latent string of words, by rearranging popular phrases into something personal and yet not private.

And maybe I'm writing now out of a fear. That underneath it all, I'm only a sham. I don't know how to teach reading skills. I don't know how to make the horse drink. I don't know how to bring the horse to the water. I don't know, in other words, how to teach. Hell, it seems to me that I'm driving the equestrians away by my dextrious vocabulary and monotonous whispering.

Maybe I just need to exorcise the demons by exercising my key-tappers. David Sedaris talks of his need to percussively beat and pound out his ideas on his old electric keyboard. And here I am, on a cheap Acer, using free space on the nowhere internet to pound out some meaningless ideas that nobody in their right mind will find exciting (I mean, there's something universalist about poetry, and a focused essay is - at the very least - focused, but where am I on this sphere? If you read this all the way through, you do deserve some kind of heroic/yeoman's medal. Maybe on my next little mid-week break, I'll fly down to you to personally deliver your yogurt caps on string - which may double as beads for Mardi Gras. Maybe...).

Maybe I can continue a thread of essays. Maybe I'll refocus some meaningful energy on the next few forays.

In the meantime, we're going to teach Monster over the next few weeks. Any fresh, inspired teaching ideas? I'm having the students write a teleplay. Now, they're studying racial disparities in the judicial system. That's about it for my ideas.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

(Seemingly random) Thought for today

Dick Gregory, according to my source(s), is a real primaddona jerk.

Bill Cosby is a womanizing elitist.

See, liberals and conservatives, really, are more alike than different.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Life ain't a game, we suffer through pain, anger, no one to blame... but we got to maintain*

You would think with nearly two months off blogging, I'd have something significant to say. Good huntin'.

Hope to watch the Bears game - or at least most of it (Church. Dang.) on Sunday this time.

We don't have a tv, and I got really sick Sunday, so I only got to hear most of the game before I went into a coma.

Which lasted straight through the next day.

Which meant that I couldn't go into work the next day.

Which meant I got a substitute teacher.

No, three substitute teachers.

And a hell of a mess to clean up.

But if I speak more on work right now (or at least directly, I could find myself in compromising situations).

Although, I could speak on two things:

One, today is/was Homecoming. Homecoming days are nice in Chicago because students in predominately gang-infiltrated schools (where the uniforms are usually dull-inducing black and white and/or blue and white) get to wear color. It's nice for the eyes to see a wave of blue and gold. Tomorrow is the game. I have no idea how our football team is performing this year (I haven't had time to check with our coaches or go to as many games, so this year I'm another fair-weather Clemente Wildcat fan. Yikes!), but, it's always a good time.

On another note: our baseball team (for a school named after one of the greatest of all time, surely one of the greatest shortstops) is consistently good.

Two, I read a news article on Chicago State University and how predominately White schools in the nearby suburbs never consider sending their students down predominately Black CSU's way. Some students did question why White-population schools tend to fair better than African-American- or Latino-population schools. That's a great question. On our last visit to Borders, I picked up a copy of Jonathan Kozol's The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. I'd tell you all about it, but Mrs. jasdye devoured it. Basically, it's about how Brown V. Board has reversed within the last twenty plus years. Or, as one student put it, "How come schools like us are worse off than white schools?"

The answer? I didn't answer her directly, but honestly, if I was in a power position and saw what position my children were in, I would do what I could to improve their position. That's what all parents want. I just think America's going about it the wrong way, ignoring the rights of the less-fortunate and then ignoring the problem all-together.

*Props to LA Symphony

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Top 25 Played iTunes/iPod Songs

(Yes, I wasn’t able to blog this whole month, but I’ve sure done my share of insular The Office viewing and smirking on the El)

Suffragette City - David Bowie. I must love visiting this town. And leaving in a hurry. Wham-bam-Thank-you-ma'm.

Train in Vain - The Clash. Funny, I don't remember listening to this song that much. But I do love it, still.

Gone, Daddy, Gone - I confess that it's not the original version running so high on my shiny new headset... I'm not sure what Gnarls Barkley were planning on doing, besides a very faithful cover.

Under the Bridge - Red Hot Chili Peppers. What can I say?

I Want you to Want Me (Live) - Cheap Trick. With a bullet. I keep singing this to my wife whenever she asks what I want.

Surrender - also Chi-Town's finest, CT. Just a weird little power pop song that jumps the day.

Ziggy Stardust - Bowie.

Crazy - I know everyone else is sick of this song. In fact, I was at a coffee shop earlier today where the opening bass line was playing. I instinctively starting jumping my foot. I think the someone else was too. But the baristas changed it. I thought better of jumping over the registers... After the fact of course. I owe so much money.

Sadie Hawkins Dance - Relient K. My wife - and the song - informed me that it's a traditional Girl's Choice dance. It's goofy and it was played at a camp we took our youth to this summer.

Diamonds on the Sole of Her Shoes - Ladysmith Black Mazambo. Yes, I just screwed up their names. Yes, it was originally done by Paul Simon with LBM two decades ago. Listen to it and try not to smile.

Love Vigilantes - New Order. I am in love with the Vigilantes of Love. I keep forgetting this isn't them.

Where Did Our Love Go? - Soft Cell. Beep-beep. Remember that commercial?

Chan Chan - Buena Vista Social Club. One movie that made great music.

She Belongs to Me - Dylan. ShEE beLOngs to mEE. How could you not love that.

Under Pressure - The only reason that this is the only Queen song on this list is because it's the only Queen song on my iPod. The rest are on the WMP. And I'm sick of transferring all my files.

B Part: (A Quiet Interlude) - David Crowder Band. Along with Israel Houghton, one of the only worship acts that I like.

All in Your Hands - Duvall. I've got a bit of power pop representation here, as the "Christian Smoking Popes" would prove. I love this stuff, despite and besides the tag.

Eric B. Is President - Eric B. and Rakim. Funny that the only rap represented on this list at this moment is two decades old. O' well... Thinking of a master plan.

Homeless - LBM. What? You don't have this record yet? What is your problem?

I’m Lion-O - Relient K. They're singing about the Thundercats. Fortunately, their music has only gotten more nuanced over time. 'Cuz it's a shade annoying.

Subterranean Homesick Blues - Dylan.

Love Minus Zero / No Limit - Dylan.

Changes - Bowie.

Young Americans - Bowie. All night.