Quick, Not Dead

8

May 25, 2017, Prescott-

The verdict came, this afternoon.

As I expected, the complex position,

with multiple  and conflicting levels of supervision,

was judged not a good fit for me.

I will most likely work with teens, next academic year.

Adolescents have indeed been a better fit for me, over the years,

whenever discipline was part of the job.

Reason is important to me,

and I see childhood as not a time

for confusion or conflicting expectations.

Teens can reason with the unreasonable;

so can I, when they are unreasonable, themselves.

We will come upon a time,

when the children we call “indigo”

will have more on their plates,

decision-wise,

than their still forming minds

can handle.

For now, though,

whoever takes my place,

with the little ones,

will need to temper

the skill set of external control,

with a truly loving heart.

As for me, I am among the quickened.

No one in the head office wants me

professionally dead.

I will go on working.

Duality

14

May 9, 2017, Prescott- 

I was ill, today.

It’s been a long time,

twenty years, in fact,

since I have been too ill

to go to work.

So, here I am,

having been in bed

most of the day.

Our bodies remind us

that we are dual creatures.

The physical frame lasts

longer for some,

than for others.

The spirit keeps on ticking,

regardless of the licking.

So, I slept, deeply,

and dreamed of my kids

working through their challenges.

When I get up,

to pray, to read the newspaper,

to get the mail, and to get in the car

and take care of an errand,

it felt like the weight of the world

was pressing down.

It’s not so much that way, right now.

My body will accept going to work,

the rest of the week.

Duality-

It’s like that with groups, too.

My team can be maddeningly fastidious,

about dots and tittles,

of student behaviour.

When I needed their understanding,

today, though,

the word was

“Get your rest,

we’ve got it all covered.”

That’s what I love most about life.

It works out, when essential.

Type Cast

5

May 3, 2017, Prescott-

I have always had difficulty

with Type A personalities,

if their insatiable drive

works in tandem,

with a need to embarrass

co-workers and subordinates,

by calling them out,

publicly.

It’s one thing,

to want to be in charge.

Many great things

have been achieved,

by the driven.

It’s quite another,

to want to be in charge,

and need to put

others down,

in a  quest for power.

Seems that the more

things unravel,

the more there is

a tendency to blame,

to micromanage,

and to misjudge.

Selective, or Snooty?

6

April 24, 2017, Prescott- 

It’s no deep secret that I have issues with those who build walls of snobbery around themselves. I’ve found them everywhere, from my home town of Saugus,  to Jeju, Korea, and to my present home base of Prescott.

Usually, snobs rely on “isms”, to validate their choices.  There are those who fall back on their self-perceived intelligence, while forgetting that the late George Plimpton, and others, routinely ridiculed their insolence.  There are others, “hipsters”, who brag about their sense of aesthetics, overlooking the beauty of simplicity.  Money, status in the community, and a misperceived “racial purity” are other sources of walls. Even in small communities, and communities of colour, subgroups operate to either maintain a false sense of superiority or to ingratiate themselves with those in power.  Seventeen years ago, a woman spread filth about my family and me, in a small desert community.  She had arrived  ten years earlier, from Ohio.  Here in Prescott, another individual, an attendant at a local fitness center, turns her head, sharply and disdainfully, whenever anyone over the age of forty approaches.

I have my own sense of selectivity.  I stay clear of fast food restaurants, many chain stores, and most Big Box establishments.  There is no shortage of people who would cry “Snoot”, at this information, and perhaps they’re right.  I do not, however, treat others with disdain, based on age, physical appearance,  mannerisms,perceived intelligence level, economic status or skin pigmentation.  Even the snobs get a fair hearing.

I have made the observation that fear is behind most snobbery.  If the wall-builders would stop and take several deep breaths, perhaps they would realize that nothing of consequence would befall them, were they to open the blinds, and take off the blinders.

Polarities

7

February 13, 2017, Prescott-

Snow besets the Northeast,

Rain fills the Southwest’s waterways,

Dust retreats, into mud.

 

The Alt-Right cries foul,

The Prog-Left yells foul words,

Civility retreats, into a cave.

 

Strength looks like force,

Humility is seen as weakness,

Sensibility retreats, into a whirlwind.

 

I  am listening quietly,

You wince at my expression,

Perception retreats, into personal mythology.

Weather-wise

5

January 18, 2017, Prescott-

Three storms are said to be headed our way.

The eternal optimist at the Arizona Republic calls for heavy rain,

all three days.

Locals in the know,

say there’ll be tons of snow.

Taking one day at a time,

all I’m sayin’

is, I am, as usual,

going to move nice and slow.

(This weekend was to be full, with a quick trip to Phoenix, on Friday night, to join a peace vigil.  Then, I was going to Camp Verde, on Saturday morning, to help install smoke detectors.  Sunday was to be devoted to Baha’i study.  Right now, my first event will depend on whether the roads are not too slick.  The second has been postponed.  The third is still a definite go, but that could change, if the storm lags.)

Hope all in the northwest, Midwest and southeast are getting back to normal.

Sixty Six for Sixty-Six, Part IV: Raise the Bar

4

January 16, 2017, Prescott-  I spent most of today just being here for my son and a friend of his, so that they got a good breakfast into themselves and didn’t forget any of their gear, from last night’s camp-out.  The other act of service was a visit to my surrogate uncle, Henry “Hank” Alcott, whom I’ve mentioned here before.  He told me I needed to cook for myself more, and so I have a sheet with some of his favourite New England recipes.  He also reinforced my commitment to service, by telling me, again, about his daily regimen of getting up at dawn, making his own bed and going around the VA Hospital, and visiting those who are alone.  Henry is 93, and regards everyone he knows as his family.  I can’t think of a finer way to live fully.

This leads me to the next order of business:  We hit rock bottom, during the last election cycle, in a variety of ways.  Elections often produce winners who seem to be the opposite of what a country needs.  There are eras, as with the presidency of Ronald Reagan, when the elected grows, marvelously, into the position and stands firm, in meeting the needs of the times.

Society could well stand a make-over or, at least, a cleansing.  Here are some suggestions:

  1.  Learning should not be limited to a prescribed pedagogy.  I have a personal dedication to raising the bar for my students, to see knowledge as a tool for personal success- and for myself to not rely so much on cognitive material.  People are embracing the process of learning, and its mastery, a lot more.  Let’s place more stress on analysis, synthesis and application.
  2. Family, as Uncle Hank says, is unlimited.  The possibilities of what can be achieved are limitless, when one does not constrict his/her circle of contacts and sources of ideas.  I said, yesterday, on another medium, that people can be estimable, regardless of their personal politics.  I have not restricted my “family” to the realms of close genealogy, regional neighbourship or even shared pigmentation, national origin or nationality at birth. It would be more than grand, if we were to value the lives of others, as if there were no “Other”.
  3. God is not a four-letter word.  Most of the satisfaction I have had from life has come from a belief system.  I believe each of us has to find our own spiritual center, and that, in doing so, we don’t cast aspersions on the beliefs of others.  I speak of Baha’u’llah and study His Teachings.  That does not mean I hold it against Christians, Muslims or followers of other Faiths, who wish to share their beliefs. Fullness of spiritual knowledge can only make us stronger.
  4. These are three areas, in which I believe the “bar” can be raised.

Poisoned By These Fairy Tales

12

December 11, 2016, Prescott-

Don Henley included that phrase, in his song, “The End of the Innocence”, in 1989.  It was partly a reaction to what he regarded as the excesses of the Reagan-Bush the Elder years.

I think of it, instantly, whenever an outlandish conspiracy theory surfaces.  I have my own take on such theories, which are always based on fear-gone-wild.  They are a natural outgrowth of the complex levels of secrecy, employed by so many in the power structure.  Nature, and the human mind, abhor vacuums.  Where there is no explanation, a person will provide one of his/her own.  When no credible explanation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy was offered, in which all questions were suitably explained to the public, all manner of explanations began to surface.  It was not long, before every unusual or unsettling event, from the Apollo 13 landing, to the airplane crashing into the Pentagon, was questioned, as to it’s ever having even happened.  Even the wanton slaughter of 26 people, in Newtown, CT, was denied by people with a fair audience- as if 20 children and six adults could actually be alive, and visible, one day- and have never even EXISTED, the next.

Yes, this nation is poisoned by fairy tales- both those invented from whole cloth and those made up by people working for God-knows-who, the end result of which is total, rampant confusion.  Now, we will have four years, during which a man with little political experience has the primary job of leading us out of a wilderness, to which many of his own supporters, and a goodly number of his foes, helped to guide us, in the first place.

May he succeed, even if, especially if, he is not initially so inclined.

Underestimated

2

December 9, 2016, Prescott- Acker Night, a fundraising event for the arts, in downtown Prescott, took place this evening.  I went to my usual venues- Lifeways Bookstore, to hear a violin soloist, Whiskey Row Courtyard, to see a belly-dancing troupe (Mariachi background, rather than last year’s jazz accompaniment), Old Sage Books, to hear a delightful string ensemble, of five young women.

Before my little stroll, at a counter-side dinner, in Marino’s Mob Burger, I was joined by a woman who is a self-taught home remodeler and designer.  She is re-working a home in Granite Dells, which she considers her dream home, after a few years of trial and disappointment, largely due to key people in her life not  giving her due credit.  This seems to happen a lot to people, especially women, whom I have met over the past five years.

It happened to Penny, too, before we met- and she proved her doubters wrong, time and again.  My friends in this time of widowhood also keep their detractors off balance, through sheer constancy and determination.  Overcoming others’ low expectations is not so hard.  It is overcoming oneself that is the main barrier.

For my part, I am determined to see this academic year to a successful finish, in May, and see that each of our students is in the right environment for success. Not every child who is currently with us is in the optimum environment for meeting his needs, but this, too, becomes an opportunity to raise the bar of expectations, both with regard to the child and to the system.

I’ve sometimes underestimated myself, and had those low evaluations eagerly confirmed by those around, and above, me.  Those days are gone.  I hope they are gone for my friends, old and new, as well.

Ghost Ship

2

December 4, 2016, Prescott- It was terrifying to contemplate:  Dozens of people, in a warehouse-turned-party-place, whose only possible escape from an electrical fire was a makeshift stairway, fabricated from stacked pallets.  33 of them died, and having had a good friend burn to death, forty years ago, I shudder at what must have gone through their minds.

The “Ghost Ship” warehouse, in Oakland, is just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to dilapidated and unsafe buildings, around the country and around the globe, being used for commercial, social and even residential purposes.  Earthquakes periodically remind us of the need to upgrade our building codes and increase enforcement of them.  Fires- Providence, Philadelphia, New York’s Garment District, Boston’s Coconut Grove and Dhaka come to mind most readily- tend to do so, far more intimately.

Another factor, in building-related injuries and deaths, reckless driving, also came to the fore, on Friday night, in Phoenix.  Nine patrons and four employees of a Persian restaurant were put in harm’s way, when a seemingly impaired, and rather hostile, driver plowed his BMW into the establishment, not stopping his vehicle until almost at the back wall.  He then got out of the car, and calmly took a seat, not even bothering to even look at the people he nearly killed.  Fortunately, he was otherwise unarmed and the police were quick to respond.

Somehow, some way, the notion that all lives matter needs to be taken far more seriously.  Lax fire codes, and devaluing the lives of those one regards as “those others”, will otherwise claim far more human victims.