Thursday, November 29, 2007
Last year, I bought all the kids Santa hats in some kind of cheesy attempt to get decent xmas pictures. I never did get the pictures because it's nearly impossible to pose my kids. But the kids loved the hats. Last year, Umberto wore his everywhere--to the park, the store, the library. He was made fun of a few times but it didn't bother him. Last night, the kids wanted me to buy them Santa hats, and I remembered that I had these ones packed away. I pulled them out, and they all wore them with glee. Umberto had his on this morning as he played Gamecube. We were going to the park to meet some friends, and right before we leave, he pulls off the hat saying "Oh man, I almost forgot I had this on." He grabbed his Yankee hat and left the Santa hat home. It made me a bit sad that he's gotten to that point of feeling self conscious about what he wears.
Then at the park today, he was with his two friends, the Hs and a girl they sometimes hang out with, C. We, the mommies, were watching them, and wondering what they talked about. We were laughing about they never tell us. Today as we drove home, Umberto told me. C had heard a ghost in the woods, Umberto told me. It said "Get out now before something bad happens." C ran from the words, the boys following her because they hadn't heard the ghost. Umberto said when they went back in he saw a shadow of a person who wasn't there, and then heard someone say "ouch."
I remember as a child being fascinated with ghosts, and seeing, hearing them in the woods. But it does seem to happen at a certain older age. And Umberto is reaching that age in some many ways. It feels a bit like mourning but with a twinge of excitement about what comes next.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
"I would like to write in such a way that people feel a kind of physical pleasure in reading me. I would almost say that that this is the writer's sense of courtesy."--Michel Foucault--
Can I write words that touch, lick, nipple a long your skin across distances made of megabytes and electronic components? What ghostly hands rises from the grave to move along the length of spine? On my bookshelf sits hundreds of lovers. They are patient, waiting, waiting for me to feel their words to embrace me, move me. Are there orgasms in the these words? Orgasms in any words? What is this new pleasure? Is it something beyond the law of sex? Or is it sex? Sex with words?
Perhaps I can touch you. Can you feel it? Do you feel the hand that types this line. Imagine: the hand streched out towards you in your distance, one finger outlines your face, your lips. If you can close your eyes long enough you may just feel my breath against your ear. Listen.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Certainly, learning can be made an erotic, highly pleasurable activity. Now, that a teach should be incapable of revealing this, that his job should virtually consist of showing how unpleasant, sad, dull and unerotic learning is--to me, this is an incredible achievement. But it is an achievement that certainly has its raison d'etre. We need to know why our society considers it so important to show that learning is something sad; maybe it's because of the number of people who are excluded from it. Imagine what it would be like if people were crazy about learning the way they are about sex. They would knock each other over in a rush to get into school.
When I read this morning, I smiled, and thought about in many ways this is what I want learning to be for Umberto. I take great pleasure in my own learning. I want Umberto to feel this pleasure. Right now he does. He's so excited to learn new things. You can see him quiver sometimes. I love coming home from school or work and having him rush up to me, thrilled at a new bug discovery. Right now he's passionate and open to knowledge. I watched this being sucked from him in school. He started to tell us that he hated books. He said he was stupid. He knew that he was getting left out of something. There was even a moment when I started to worry that he wasn't smart. I'm ashamed to say that now but I started to get anxious because the school was anxious. I got caught up in the game.
Now we're out, and last year, I got caught up again. He was behind, he wasn't reading, he wasn't doing such and such. I realized at some point that this anxiety was driving us both nuts. I wasn't stopping to see that he got pleasure from learning new things. I wasn't helping him to discover that pleasure in greater ways. I wasn't sharing with him my own pleasure in learning.
This year, I've opened up to him. I've learned to let go of my own inhibitions, and to let my own joy out. I've started to laugh more, and to let his joy infect me as I let mine infect him. If I'm getting frustrated or impatience, I let go of our plans and follow something new. No we don't always get through my lesson plans but it's okay because we always learn something and we usually have fun doing it. I remember once thinking that fun wasn't what it was all about. And then I realized that this is exactly what it should be about. We've divided the world into fun and unfun things. Why? Why does it have to be this way? I have FUN at school and I have FUN learning. Why shouldn't Umberto? Why does he have to learn that the world is about work that is not fun? And why in the hell do we think fun is such a bad thing anyway?
I say yes to pleasure! Onward to fun!
Certainly, learning can be made an erotic, highly pleasurable activity. Now, that a teach should be incapable of revealing this, that his job should virtually consist of showing how unpleasant, sad, dull and unerotic learning is--to me, this is an incredible achievement. But it is an achievement that certainly has its raison d'etre. We need to know why our society considers it so important to show that learning is something sad; maybe it's because of the number of people who are excluded from it. Imagine what it would be like if people were crazy about learning the way they are about sex. They would knock each other over in a rush to get into school. Michel FoucaultFoucault's answer to an interviewers question made me smile this morning. What a wonderful image...people pushing, shoving, fighting to learn something. But no, my students never rushed to school eager for learning. They trudged in, heads down, tired, grumpy, bored before anything even got started. They were definitely much more excited about sex then they were about learning. For golden year, I got them excited. I was excited. It was contagious. But then the higher powers forced me back to drudgery. Excitement, pleasure is dangerous when you're trying to hold people down. And that's really why I had to stop teaching. I couldn't be a part of that kind of system anymore.
And I think Foucault is right on with this assessment.No one is going to continue on when they find learning so dull and boring. And not only that but what happens if learning becomes pleasurable. What kinds of discourses will be unmasked? In my experience, many. Discovering that learning was an exciting, pleasurable, freeing was a shock to me. I didn't know that learning could move me in such a physical way. But even with this knowledge there is a sense of loss always on the horizon. I still have to play within a system based on keeping people out. And yes I understand all the crap about standards but what is a standard when it excludes those who don't get a high enough fucking number on a test? Excludes someone who finds learning to be one of the finest pleasure?
In the same interview, Foucault says
"The degree simply serves to create a kind of market value for knowledge, to make those who don't have degrees feel they have no right to knowledge, are not capable of knowledge. Everyone who gets a degree knows perfectly well it's useless, it has no content, it's empty. But those who don't have degrees are the ones who set great store by them. Degrees are precisely for those that don't have them."He acknowledges that his degrees have gotten him to where he is now but I think he offers a point to be taken here. All too often we assume that those who hold degrees hold knowledge. Is this necessarily true? And does this knowledge constitute all knowledge? I think too often, and I am guilty of this, I make these kind of assumptions about knowledge. It reminds me in a way of the video E posted earlier today. I see the degree as the carrot on the stick. Sometimes it gets in the way of the pleasure. I'm going to write that first quote and hang it up in my office as a reminder.
Knowledge as pleasure. Like sex. Something I look forward to each day. Something I savor. Something that rocks my world, shatters my universe, fragments my being. This is the way I want to know.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
And the girls have been awful without him. Really awful. They've hit, clawed, and screamed at each other since we dropped him off my mom's on Monday night. It's been a nonstop bitch fight. I never knew how much Umberto buffered between the two of them. I think they miss him too.
But he's having a great time. So much so that he wouldn't even talk to me on the phone tonight. He's playing in the snow, having fun with his cousins (who adore him as we all do), and getting spoiled by his aba.
Distance...funny how it makes love more known. I know I love Umberto but sometimes when he's driving me nuts, it's not the think I think of the most. But when he's gone, I realize how much he's a part of my life, how much he's a part of my soul. I don't know how parents who lose children do it. And I don't know how in 7.5 years this little person has laid such a claim on me.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
budding Shakespeare. His newest is "cooshi." I think it's a combo of crowded and squishy. He uses this word whenever there is a crowd of bodies in a small place. So the other day I swear we were all in the bathroom which is not big (for those of you who do not have kids once you have them you will NEVER go to the bathroom alone again), and Umberto yells "It's getting cooshi in here!" And he's right, it was.
Veena Das begins her book with a question “What it is to pick up the pieces and to live in this very place of devastation?” From my work with a Latino Pentecostal church to my work on a woman who left a Mormon Fundamentalist group, this question haunts me. The people in these studies have survived various violent experiences both physical and emotional. And always this experience comes to me, the audience and scholar in the form of words. Das argues that violence returns and remains in the presence of everyday expressions. This suggests that violence is not something one can leave behind. Words in this descent become animated through voice, and it is this relationship, the relationship between words and voice, that can provide both the means to expression and the silencing of certain stories. Words provide a means of telling but what they tell are not always the stories one expects. Violence becomes something that in Das’s book that is not separate from how people conduct their lives. It is not something that happens and ends. Rather it is something that becomes entwined in life, and in the rebuilding of lives from violence. But the violence does not ever go away. It is always there, always waiting to emerge in words not expected, and in the silences forced upon people who created new tales for the violence. How does religion fit into this equation? How does religion both offer words and create silences around stories of violence?
 Veena Das, Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2007, 6.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
And really that is the point of the book isn't it? That adults just don't get it and children do. Umberto got it in ways that I couldn't. I found this to be a poignant reminder that I shouldn't underestimate what my children "get." Sometimes they see things different from they way I do but it doesn't mean that difference is somehow less sophisticated or wrong. It's just different.
But the books I was most excited about where the "Little House" books. These were books I LOVED as a child, and reread often. Of course I watched the TV series but really I loved the books the most. They lead to wonderful games of covered wagons, log cabins, and other adventures. I remember how my cousins, friends, and I would pretend to go on the journey West. We'd cross the field behind my grandmother's house, and then end up on the woods. There was a tiny clearing bordered by four or five great pines. We would make that our cabin. It was great fun. So when the kids were all excited over a PBS show about log cabins, I suggested the books.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Ursula often wondered what else she waited for, besides the beginning and end of the school week, and the beginning and end of the holidays. This was a whole life! Sometimes she had periods of tight horror, when it seemed to her that her life would pass away and be gone, without having been more than this. But she never really accepted it. Her spirit was active, her life like a shoot that is growing steadily, but which has not yet come above ground"(D. H. Lawrence, Women In Love)
I remember having moments of panics when I was in my early twenties. Suddenly, I feel this intense fear that I would die, and that this is all my life would have been. It seemed that I had nothing to show for the few years I had been on the earth. It was such a crushing feeling that I'd lay on my bed and not be able to move for a bit. So much, too much, of my younger years were spent in longing and waiting. Always waiting for love, for excitment, for hate, for passion...always something that I didn't have. And then when I had those things I'd always feel like I was waiting for them to end. I could never enjoy them because of this tight feeling that it would all soon end. It was a physical feeling too not just somethign I thought about. My chest would tightend, it felt like my ribcage was pushing in on my lungs, and I couldn't breath. And as this tightening imprisoned me, my limbs would feel get heavy, so heavy that each movement was exhausting.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Monday, November 05, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
I had a funny dream. There was the bread. The bread had eyes, arms and legs, and he invited me to come to the party with his friends. His friends were the pots and pans. The party was under the sink. Then I said "I can't. I'm too big. I won't fit."
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
by: Robert Burns (1759-1796)
OR auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to min'?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?
And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine,
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne!
We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu'd the gowans fine,
But we've wander'd monie a weary foot
Sin' auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl'd in the burn
Frae mornin sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.
And here's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine,
And we'll take a right quid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne!