Sunday, March 22, 2009

I have been trying to tell people for years,
that there is something pregnant in the darkness.

A prehistoric bird perched in the rafters
of your condominium, townhome, high rise, track house.
Regal and terrifying-
And ready to take flight.

If you could see it plainly you would realize
it has your grandfather’s wrinkled brow
And holds the image of your own aged face
in its deep set eye sockets and sagging gullet.

But you’ve been told not to believe in mystical
phenomenon like Old Nessy or crop circles
And that’s fine- forget that.
I’m talking about something else-
a bird

Like Emily Dickenson’s feathered hope trapped under
Poe’s floorboards, beating its wings with primal frenzy.
Or maybe Maya Angelou’s caged bird singing
for freedom in the most beautiful blue tune.

I suppose it could be one of Darwin’s mockingbirds
With a strange mutated beak
denounced for eating seeds with unnatural expertise;
Heaven knows they’ve unleashed enough riot.

But the point is this: it’s there
In the dark-
Potential energy coiled
in its terrible wingspan;

The entire arc of human history
Enfringed by golden feathers.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

How I Un-Quit Student Teaching

one saturday on the verge of mental breakdown i was sitting next to a friend in church explaining how soul-sucking student teaching has been. my friend patiently asked me if anyone had given me permission to quit student teaching, noting that sometimes it is easier to make the move toward a healthy life choice when you are gently pushed by a sane person.
no one had- so she gave me permission; "quit."
i spoke to my university supervisor the next night, blubbering about how unhappy i was and she likewise encouraged me to stop torturing myself if i don't want to teach in the future and if i don't get any joy out of the work. "stop and reclaim your life," she said.
so the following monday i went to school in low spirits, thinking that i was most likely going to quit the whole shenanigan when the quarter was out, but didn't manage to make it through the day. i entered my classroom in tears; the degeneration happened so quickly that by 3rd period i told my mentor teacher that i quit, cried in her lap, and left right then and there.
i was expecting release and freedom...
instead i went home and mourned the loss of student teaching- i was grieving- like it was a horrific breakup that i didn't believe i could recover from.
but i still had to go back to school and finish the quarter out so i forced myself to get up and go anyway, put on a happy face until my time was up but then a bizarre thing happened...
i had two amazing days in a row. "well, shit!" i thought to myself, "what am i supposed to make of that?"
i tried to remind myself that two good days did not make up for 3 months of anxiety attacks, tears, and debilitating stress. i tried to urge myself not to go back for more torture and abuse just because i was scared of what my future would hold without a credential. don't do the battered woman thing- stay strong, walk away.
but i couldn't- things kept happening to draw me back.
the first realization i had was that i actually liked my students. once i was able to take the stress level down a few notches and stop believing that if i made one fatal move everything would crumble, i could finally relate to my students as individuals with dynamic and amusing personalities.
then something else happened at church: i realized that i was putting too much stock in a teaching credential. i believed that this piece of paper would bring me safety and security and was desperately afraid to give it up. but i did- mostly. told god that he could hold onto my future like a big blank check and give me a ring if there was anything important i should know.
i also visited another student teacher's classroom. it was complete chaos. students were literally throwing fruit across the classroom, no one was listening, and it was an honors section of language arts. i felt much better after my visit and began to think that maybe i am not actually the world's biggest looser of a teacher. maybe i am not a total failure. maybe i am in good company with people who are trying to figure this thing out and blundering along like all first time teachers.
and i suppose the million-dollar event is the most obvious one: i quit. that is a big deal for someone who has never quit anything. ever.
to quit was to surrender my desire for control and power, for security and survival, for the approval and esteem of other people. quitting meant looking bad and having to stand up to my parents and claim my right to not be amazing and perfect all the time- to be normal and have limitations and need to back out of responsibility instead of saving the world one more time.
it's truly ironic how all of these moments and realizations have led me back to the classroom. i am not sure that i actually want to teach in a mainstream public school setting in the future, but am committed to finishing this experience out. learning and growing in it and remaining humble.
i read that "grace is commitment to- or at least acceptance of- being ineffective and foolish." i don't necessarily agree this is the best definition of god's grace for us, but i do think it speaks to something about how we are supposed to show grace to ourselves. these words encourage me to let go, make mistakes, and get over it. go out on the dance floor- make a fool of yourself; it will be healing in the most unglamorous way.

so that's the story. i met with my university supervisor last thursday at taco bell and officially un-quit from student teaching while her dog ate nachos under our table. i still have a lot to work on internally and externally as i seek to make the rest of this experience livable, but i am on my way now.
lord help me.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

finding things...

i made this picture for a christian scriptures class a long time ago...
the assignment was to visually represent the entire biblical story.
for me the unifiying symbol is the tree- roots, branches; the past and present entangled and always growing.

Her Morning Elegance

Take a look at this link for my favorite music video at the moment. The song is entitled "Her Morning Elegance" by Oren Lavie