Monday, October 10, 2011

made five parts of final exams tonight, three based on listening, and two on headlines; i've been working a lot with headlines lately, so i'm up on the news. earlier in the evening, i knew it was coming, and i let myself get talked into going to the small-town mcdonald's, in the nearby county seat, a kind of center of low-down hard-bitten racism in one sense, though there are occasional glimmers of hope. in particular you walk through this indoor hallway to get to the kids playground, where the kids already are, and these kind of overweight local folks occupy that hallway and scowl.

tonight there was this amish family in the kids section though, and they had five kids, a couple of them too old to romp in the play structure, but the littler ones, in their bonnets and homemade dresses, having as much fun as anyone and mixing right in with my kids, black kids and a couple of local redneck kids. we parents are all kind of divided into these categories; i actually found myself almost staring at the amish, they were so different, yet actually i could have walked up to any group and started talking, i'm sure, if i weren't so tired. they were actually speaking another language, though i suppose you could say that about several of the groups. they also, however, were without the general hostility you sense in other folks, especially there in the inner hallway. they'd just moved here, i figure. i should have welcomed them to the area. half the time, though, i feel a lot like an alien myself, with my kids of different colors. the older one picked up on it right away, and wanted to leave; he didn't even see the amish. the younger one made friends with a couple of black kids and was off and running, he could have stayed all evening. outside, the moon seemed to be getting larger. it was warm, and clouds were coming by. when the amish left, i looked for a horse and buggy, but didn't see it; maybe they went out the other way, over by the rural king.

someone asked about the strike the other day at quaker meeting and we all jumped about a foot. of course it's on our minds, we're about to go out, everyone could be divided up and split, friends & enemies. a strike is like a war, except that usually you live to see how stupid it was, unless you're from coal and steel country like me, then your collective memory might tell you otherwise. in this case, we'll probably live. it was good, on balance, to get out of town. now, i wait for my cell phone to charge (sometimes, i plug it in, and it's so overloaded, it can't even get started - this seems to have been true, for most of this evening...). so, my dear reader, you get a chance again to hear my rambling. it's approaching peak of the season here - clear air, colored leaves, a gentle breeze, cool in the evening, a good time for fall break. but alas though the university has a fall break (today and tomorrow) and local schools are off (today), i'm not off, and my wife is sick, so i'm running around, covering bases, making finals, preparing etc. yet taking the boys to the park, or wherever, and out to mcdonalds and to get milk again and medicine & whatever. so i sit here, late at night, and the cell phone still isn't charged.

my sister appeared on a european youtube newscast about the occupy wallstreet business, and she said, basically, that these kids are at least asking all the right questions. of course, we've been asking these questions for years, but at least they're standing there, right in the middle of the street, disrupting traffic and asking questions. and getting arrested, i presume. my sister looks a bit european, i think, that's why they approached her; they figured they could understand her accent, and they're right. i tried to show that youtube to my students, but alas, my class was double booked, and we were shunted off to a side hallway where classrooms have old dinosaur overhead projectors but no internet. maybe tomorrow. so much on the news, so little time. earlier i had shown this gruesome video of climbers dying on k2, second highest mountain in the world, and my partner wouldn't show it, basically, in respect to the people we see dying. how can you do a listening exercise, as you sit and watch people dying, she asks. good question. my students blew the exercise too. maybe it was that, or maybe it was just that they can't listen too well, or read the questions. i'm not sure.

but in any case, finals are tomorrow, and i ground them out, i've got three hours in a row, and i'll be all coffeed up, and just sit there and watch them suffer for a spell. and take a little fall break myself, after it's over, which should be about thursday.

which brings me to my last point. sixteen years in this town and every year i'd noticed, the city schools gave columbus day off, but the university wouldn't, thus its name which i called annual childcare nightmare spectacular. of course they'd call it indigenous people's day, or teacher inservice day, or parents fend for yourselves day, so i came to call it indigenous childcare nightmare fend-for-yourself spectacular, or whatever. but there is, i hand you this, beautiful weather, you can count on it, the rains aren't due to start for another couple of weeks. now i see they're calling it "explorers day" as if to water down the columbus part, are they ashamed of him, but not collectively ashamed of what we did to the "indigenous peoples"...i'm not sure, but with every permutation i get some new combos to try out. indigenous childcare explorer day, exploration of makeshift childcare alternative stop-gap measures, or should i call it, stay up way late, if you hope to get anything done at all, and hope to pick up some of that lost sleep a little later, maybe in a faculty meeting, or at a strike informational session, or better yet, a retirement information gathering and those keep flying by, like i'm some kind of whatever, chopped liver, nowhere near ready.

so this evening, as we go from 10/10/11 to 10/11/11, this means, a certain kid turns ten around here; he already had his party, three friends sleeping over, sprawled out, taking up space, staying up as late as they possibly could, playing tricks on each other, wanting to go outside and scream at the moon but i wouldn't let them, the police chief goes to bed early, we have to put a lid on that kind of fun, i guess. i kind of wouldn't mind seeing a bit more of that fun, kids tearing around in the dark, tripping over stuff, screaming their lungs out like they did at that campout, but, it's a new day and you don't want to attract too much attention, they'll accuse you of "occupy lark lane" or some such and drag out the ordinances against too many 4-square balls in the driveway. or, balls that roll down into the street obstructing traffic. it is, after all, fall, and sooner or later all will freeze thus leaving bendable skin of stale old 4-square balls almost totally untreatable even temporarily, or run over like an old raccoon which you also see, it being so dry at the moment. the leaves change dramatically, showing their colors, oh what the heck, i'll give you some occupy pop art, what i figure is, just look at the color, stop worrying about what it means, which is, lots of young people out of work. trouble, for days, if not months, years. in every city. and lots of world press coverage, just ask my sister, and i believe she's right, at least they're asking the right questions.


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