“It is way less exciting to buy booze when you are A) not in the ‘hood, B) 22, and C) there is no adventure to the liquor store behind campus, primping your chest and tweaking your voice.”—Me, to Carlos, re: the lack of Mills Liquor as a post-graduate.
“At undergraduate cocktail parties, people say, ”Oh, you write? What do you write about?”
Your roommate, who has consumed too much wine, too little cheese and no crackers at all,
blurts: ”Oh, my god, she always writes about her dumb boyfriend.”
Later on in life you will learn that writers are merely open, helpless texts with no real
understanding of what they have written and therefore must half-believe anything and
everything that is said of them. You, however, have not yet reached this stage of literary
criticism. You stiffen and say, ”I do not,” the same way you said it when someone in the fourth
grade accused you of really liking oboe lessons and your parents really weren’t just making you
Insist you are not very interested in any one subject at all, that you are interested in the music
of language, that you are interested in - in - syllables, because they are the atoms of poetry,
the cells of the mind, the breath of the soul. Begin to feel woozy. Stare into your plastic wine
”Syllables?” you will hear someone ask, voice trailing off, as they glide slowly toward the
reassuring white of the dip.”—Moore, Lorrie. “How to Become A Writer.” Self-Help. 1985. (via unquietbrain)
Alright. So. To be fair, it’s late, and you know what happens when night comes in—I get mad and full of rant. Rant. Oh, and Pandora DECIDES TO BE AWESOME.
Tonight I go back to the school I attended from the 4th to the 8th grade, so, sure, junior high antics. It’s a private school. A Gifted private school. Let’s get it out there, let’s UNPACK MY MESSENGER BAG, please. I was a bored kid. I mean, funny, and cute, and I got away with everything I did, but around the 3rd grade when some teachers loved me and some hated me and I was always reading under my desk, et. cet., somebody thought, “Hey. Maybe she shouldn’t be in these classrooms.” So okay. I’m eight. My parents put me in private school. Tonight, I go back, for a “roast” of an old teacher, a science teacher who really did mean the world to me during the AWFUL ADOLESCENCE. I mean, to the point where, we had these character education assemblies off of “knight” themes, and I got to be FIRST KNIGHT. What, Sean Connery, WHAT?! They write a little book telling you about your good character, and I KEPT THAT SHIT when I was in COLLEGE. I still have it. I still don’t know how I became a knight, but all in all, I can trace the theme of social justice (which will not get kicked outta this body, much as I try), back to these days. Service projects. Etc. At the time it was animals (adopting, fostering), and I now see a trend. You’re young, and first, you understand animals can’t watch after themselves. Then, for me, the queers. Probably because I came out, and went to public high school. And on and on until we reach the shitstorm that is identity politics-riddled college and yeah. I was ALMOST an ETHNIC STUDIES minor. Dodged it.
So anyway. I went, because, well, because I was curious. And because about two years ago, when I was public radio reporting up a STORM, and we did our Drop Out Documentary, I sort of got tidal wave’d by EDUCATION. WHAT IS PUBLIC EDUCATION? How can we fix it? How can you fix the fact that 1 out of 2 kids in the Oakland Public School system just vanishes before graduation?
Now I’m outta college. I tried TeachFerAmerica, but I know the reasons I’m not in it, and I’m happy, in ways. I’m happy to voice my dissent with their blinders-on commitment to uppity-Ivy Leaguers dropping in to the ghetto to UPLIFT folk by STANDARDS BASED EDUCATION. I really am. When we sat in thesis, Juliana encouraged us to try the PRIIIIIVATE school, i.e., IB, etc.
And I’m sitting in my old private school and thinking, man, there are some GREAT educators here. But here. And not everywhere. And what is gifted education? And, ZOMG, I think I learned a long time ago that (cue gasps) intelligence is a soooooociaaaaal connnnstruuuuct (Also, it did NOT help that another alum there was regaling us with a story about a college class he was in on “RACE AND ETHNICITY” and got his boxers in a bunch about being called out on being racist, and I wanted to say, THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THIS MEANS YOU ARE, OKAY?).
So what? So what, Carmen, you’re schooling people on being commited to kids education? Jerk. No, I’m not, I swear. I am just saying I FOUND MY KNAPSACK. Right? You go to itty-bitty liberal arts college (esp. for women, ESP. on a COAST) and you read this “WHITE PRIVILEGE: UNPACKING THE INVISIBLE KNAPSACK” clap trap and I could never really subscribe to these theories. I mean, trust me, I did the whole “deal with your identity” and it SUCKED and I tried to feel half-guilty, and went, only once, to a “white”-affinity group and said, well, seeing as I PASS ALL THE TIME, I cannot really unpack anything. And I’m queer, so there was not really heteronormative nonsense to deal with, I think. Oh, also, gender? IS FLUID. So see? These veins, they refueled their cynical platelets. And it was good. And it is good. Except, oh yeah, I WENT TO PRIVATE SCHOOL FOR SMART KIDS!
And don’t get me wrong. I think all those kids in that school should get the attention they’re getting. I do. Of course. And yet. Yet why can’t all schools be small and all schools have cool science labs and books and drama and service learning. Of course, why can’t they all? I mean, why do what, like, 300 kids get the same services and attention as EVERY KID IN EAST OAKLAND AT YOUTH UPRISING? Because their parents can pay college tuition? Or, why can’t these gifted kids be mixing beats or dance battling or tagging?
Ultimately, and I think I figured this out with G, the problem is almost the same on either side. All those kids I met at Castlemont and YU, well, they were kids. They were children. They were supposed to be children. But every safety net had failed them, adults FAILED them and they had to be adults. They had to be adults and go to funerals and dodge homicides and work nights to support crack-addicted mothers and take care of babies and brothers and boyfriends. The inverse is that you have these kids at private schools, boarding schools, academies, and you are making them into machines. Sure, they’re smart. But why do they have to do this adult academia, this adult work? Do they get to spin out as adolescents? (In my experience, no, but that’s a long story) Or, if they don’t prescribe to the same definitions of “gifted” or “intelligence”, i.e, they present signs of autism or crazy LD BD behaviors (ohhi, my experience), are they just not “smart” enough?
And, if you have the privilege of KNOWING you are smart enough to be taken out of status quo society and enriched and whateverthefuck cherished nurtured, you should probably be taught responsibility FOR your intelligence, no? I suppose that’s my other problem. I don’t think I was ever, really, taught that. I don’t know how I turned into such a pinche radical, but I did. And I hate that I’m supposed to be smart. I HATE IT. Because my gifts don’t extend to me being like, you know, Lord Dumpling (google that, yo), and I can’t invent microchips as well as 30-second water purifiers. I can lay down some great rhymes, I can talk circles, I can tell stories, and what? And do people who are that smart, do you owe it to them to teach them, Hey kid! Please, powers for good, not evil. Don’t go off to Monsanto or Motorola or McDonalds. Please. No guided missile systems, no bonuses for trading. No McMansions. And maybe, maybe, no more private schools? I don’t know. I know that public school was no picnic, but part of that CAME, right, from private schools? Where, perhaps, this refusal to be gendered arose? I mean, yeah, total, tight girlfriends. But how many girls would I then know who positively REVELED in being THAT smart, who NEEDED to be on top. I’m not saying the top ten in my public H.S. class didn’t have that drive, but you damn well know that they were constantly deferring to male counterparts.
Which, I suppose, was also not amazing. You know? We can look back and remember the good times and the science fairs and plays and book reports and you can look forward and say, Look at the investment banker and the law school kid and the chemical engineer. And I can look back and say, look at anorexia and abusive parents and self-harm and self-esteem that was RIDDLED with cracks. But maybe all of that isn’t as important as the rest of a brain, right? Probably not. Because look at me. How can I judge? I survived, too, just barely. I loved my friends, and I hope they knew that. And what now? I’m sitting in my parents’ suburban home, indie rock t-shirt and good haircut, and underachieving thieving heart and scholarship and liberal arts degree (avec honeur) in ENGLISH, ferchrissakes, and what the hell am I doing anyway? Mostly, you know, realizing what being tired of responsibility feels like, I guess. I’m not “selling out” (what is that, anyway?), but I sure as hell am not the amazing friends I have who stop prison rape or teach at San Quentin or even work at homeschool camps or grow on farms or any of it.
Essentially, I’ve come to no conclusion. I just really wanted to ask some of those teachers (who, interesting, all men? and WTF does THAT mean?), why here, and why do you stay, and what the hell about everyone else? But isn’t that the question we ask ourselves every day? Maybe not. Maybe just me. If I get answers, I will tell you. Aaaaannnd….
back to your regular TUMBLR ROLL. Critical Mass tomorrow AND Printers Ball? Be still, heart, quiet down.
Thursday nights are the start of the weekend for some people, and the start of the weekend often means (to me, at least) dancey remixes.
i always thought this was the weakest track on “London Calling”, but i actually like this. also, if by start of the weekend, you mean hanging out at MY OLD JUNIOR HIGH, well, baby, you got it right. but this better count as thursday audio, cos i got some goooooood stuff lined up for FRIDAY.
(i found this scanning though old LJ entries, and yes, it is appropriate to shudder now)
July Frontier Days. The Wall. The garage Wall. Trust again. A month to go. Mare’s on her own. Seattle and making fun of Ben Gibbard because he’s sad and old. Mad drunk birds. Rolling our own cigarettes. Jello Mold art. Walks and the rain. Viva Mexico Eggs! The Bike Gang. Costume Party. Kick the shit. Three Trevors? Graduation party. Tears. Booze. Hookah again and again and again and again… Everyone’s an ocean drowning/ with no one left to pull them out/Everyone’s a building burning/ with no one to put the fire out/ blame it on the tetons, god I need a scapegoat now…
(every year i made these lists, and i can STILL identify every part of this one. mariel and I’s ridiculous high school indie rock plans, the cigarette machine she stole from graham and how we must have rolled a carton of cigarettes a night, we were so bored, and, also, when i beat the snot outta some bullybigot in the suburbs)(so you know, not much has changed in four years)
(looking up modest mouse lyrics on the cover of a moleskine, which is from EUROPE, and then reading old notes, and what good does that do except the lyrics to “december” were in there and i feel like typing it for posterity)
-Later- Dover/Kent customs so nervous and don’t know why. The anonymous sterile Kafkaesque white room with all of us in line, passports in hand. or maybe all the french that is talking of time and boats and apres and 2 and jesus I want to stutter out, tu hablas espanol? Puedes explicar, a mi, que paso? Dover does have white cliffs.
This is insane.
Something is a little off here in the Port of Dover. Everyone’s just got tha tbit of an edge, a sheen, that grey around the eyes. Everyone on that bus has disembarked for a cigarette. Fluorescent beams over everything making those namesake white cliffs even more… odd. We (or I—there is no bus affinity, after all) wait in line an dpiss and next ot my window seat are two hombres in their trocka. I can’t quite tlel yet but I think they’re French and they grin at me and smoke thick red Marlboros out their window. The one closets to me beams his flashlight across all of three feet to aid my writing and I give him a twilight zone giddy thumbs up.
There are horses and cars and not driven cars and sleepy amilies waiting for what the neon sign assures me is the Pride of Calais. Who is driving from Dover to Calais at 2 in the AM anyway? and will we fill this vast ferry?
Hal would not have ambled on into France on a gigantic ferry. he wouldn’t have been giggly and awed by the sheer enormous random quality of this time, this place. But like him I don’t speak French. I’m going by the cover of night and ferry and fog and cold, not an invading warrior King. Tres, TRES bizzarre. Raining in France. Five in the morning and we are rolling into Calais. Fantastic ridiculous experience. Jesus Christ.
“Before then we had made a wish that we would be missed—if one or another just did not exist. Cause that’s what we’re waiting for, that’s what we’re waiting for, that’s what we’re waiting on, aren’t we?”—Little Motel, Modest Mouse (cue: waterworks)
The best way to stay on top of things is to not let them get all tangled up. Prioritize your goals. Things are poised to go very well for you, so make the most of by wisely choosing where to put your energies, like the good earth sign you are. (psychic dream!)
You’re primed to cancel a jinx in the coming days, Taurus. You could help someone (maybe even yourself) escape a bewitchment, and you might be able to soothe a wound that has been festering for a long time. In fact, I’m playing with the fantasy that you are now the living embodiment of a lucky charm. At no other time in recent memory have you had so much power to reverse the effects of perverse karma, bad habits, and just plain negative vibes. Your hands and eyes are charged with good medicine. Other parts of you are, too, which means sexual healing could be in the works. But as you embark on your mission to cure everyone you love, remember the first law of the soul doctor: “Physician, heal thyself.” (free will astrology)
The conflict may show itself as financial difficulty, but at a second, deeper glance, it is all about self-esteem. Money is important, I understand, but it’s not as valuable as authentic self-confidence. (aquarium age, also, BOO!)
Because I don’t have to actually go read Perez Hilton (*retch*), to find out THIS AMAZING FACT: Dame Judi Dench was almost hit by a speeding taxi in London. The driver yelled, “You stupid cunt!” and she replied, ” That’s Dame Cunt to you!” [Perez Hilton]
I forget what’s real.
I mix up details of what happened
with what I witnessed inside my
universe. Is it like that for you?
But I thought for a moment, I really did,
that a kiss could be a universe.
Or sex. Or love, that old shoe. See.
Still hopeless. Still writing poems
for pretty men. Half of me alive
again. The other shouting from the sidelines,
Sit down, clown.
Ah, Lorenzo, I’m a fool.
Eternity or bust. That’s how it is with me.
Even if eternity is simply one kiss,
one night, one moments. And if love isn’t
eternal, what’s the point?
”—With Lorenzo at the Center of the Universe, el Zocalo, Mexico City, Sandra Cisneros
Wednesday bike music time! Spoon, cos it’s city biking today to ambush Mario and get some damn things done. No, I don’t have a helmet yet, but it is rounding 8 a.m., and I’m sober, covered in daylight, and ready to pedal. This + L4yer Cake OST = guaranteed speed.
Do you remember when you were small, how everybody would seem so tall?
I am your shadow in the dark, I have your blood inside my heart.
for some reason this morning I up at just after 6 and there is nothing getting me back into bed. elvis costello is in my head and i start to think about allison and then i’m writing poems in my head about allison and also singing and really, really, really jonesing for some coffee. bike day! i’ve left a queue, kidlings. bisoubisoubisou.