I Want

It is painfully beautiful outside 
And I want tea with milk 
A French Don’t Diet breakfast 

It is painfully beautiful outside 
And I want iced tea and tomato 
With cheddar cheese melted on
A baguette for breakfast 

It is painfully beautiful outside 
And I want Lunches of mozzarella, cucumber,
Tomato salads that taste like happiness
Dinners with locally smoked salmon

It is painfully beautiful outside
And I want fresh fruits and fresh veg
Fresh annoyance at Farmers’ Market elitists
Who cut in line and converse in the walkways

It is painfully beautiful outside
And I want summer and vodka iced tea
Lazy afternoons with wine or tequila

It is painfully beautiful outside
And I want to write and recreate
To watch some show I just have to see

It is painfully beautiful outside
And I want naps in the sun, a purring cat 
No one to disappoint or impress
Time and music and words
Drifting thoughts
Conversations that ramble past dinner
Time to think and be and do
Rather than should or guilt or totally planned

This weekend I answered a question

The Question: How has funding, high stakes assessment, or class funding affected your job?

When I first started teaching, my students wrote three papers and two speeches every semester while we read all the required literature, had in-depth class discussions, and answered study guides questions. The portfolios of best work that came from CIM was valuable. With fewer teachers and a stronger emphasis on testing, I don’t have time to grade that many projects. Thanks to Common Core, I have changed my focus to analytical writing and argumentative research (it covers citing and using sources), but I don’t have the classroom time to get everything done—often testing throws off a month of class time, not just the few days it’s supposed to.

I am not allowed to teach my students what they need, the way they need, because critical thinking isn’t actually as testable as the powers that be seem to think it is. Every group has different needs.

I am drowning in “one more thing we need you to do…”

Thoughts from Tonight’s Discussion 

People often imply that my faith is somehow less pure, less academic, less than theirs in general.

I may have an unusual view of my earliest churches, but what I remember shaped my faith as much as The Bible or my parents did. I remember being told not to take a pastor’s word as law, to seek out the truth in The Word for myself. This has led to reading Thomas Cahill like he’s going out of style. Seeking out, completing, and mentoring an Education for Ministry class. This has led to conversation on dorm hall steps, over bottles of wine with dear friends, in a car with my brother and father, on decks over “communion” with other friends, across long tables with cousins/aunts/uncles about faith and God and what it means to be a follower of Christ. This has led to arguments about why being “born again” doesn’t make me a bad person/conservative freak/whatever.

I grew up with “Jesus freak” proselytizers, active youth group hypocrites, and the mirrors where I faced my numerous shortcomings. I may always be a little angry about being made to believe in my teen years that I could lose my faith, that shyness meant others could label me a “stuck up know it all bitch”, that my seeking was somehow not belief/faith.

Now I try so hard not to show favoritism in my classroom (public school) regarding religion that I occasionally get in a bit of trouble for trying to make kids atheists by “telling lies” and such; if they only caught every third word, they may be surprised I see myself as a Christian.

I swear too much, drink too much, don’t do enough, and push too much to be a “good Christian”. I have never questioned God’s existence, Jesus’ divinity, or the Holy Spirit’s quiet voice. I always question myself. I completely judge the crap out of little things. I am not very good at being a Christian and I know that. It doesn’t actually make me not a Christian.

I know things don’t always happen for a reason.

I know that we get handed more than we can handle so we’ll be forced to ask for help.
I know that when we seed the wind we have no idea where the whirlwind will sprout or who will be forced to reap it.

I know we reap other people’s whirlwinds—that’s why good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to everyone. Sure, we are often responsible for our own good and bad, but we aren’t always.

Why We Go (To The Woods)

It starts with pain and ends with death or fame
The lucky ones slip by, anonymous,
Safe with their shadows embraced—no shame
In the balance between here and there. Hush.
Stay quiet and don’t deny the changes
The forest brought out of the doubts that drove
You inward on the journey too soon. Ages
Passed inside while the monsters talked and wove
Their words round and round until you forgot
The truth, the lies, the hopes, the dreams that died
Like a phoenix rising, flames and fire shot
Higher still, until all the tears had dried
My monsters have always lived in my mind
For me they will even be wise and kind

School Dazed

I’d like to write
But it’s a fight
Wading through
Wasted days

I’d like to sleep
Instead of weeping
Away afternoons
Waiting for morning

I’d like to keep
The secrets quiet
But all the stories
Cause riots in my head

Don’t hide
Write and fight
Sleep and weep
Keep and tell

Out of Character

Sinking into someone else’s thoughts
Grasping at what another wants
Letting go of everything I think is me

What’s left?
Does anyone care?
Who will I be?

Writing it out, words unclear
Dreaming another life unlived
Looking in the mirror in the woods

Flee
Fight
Embrace

Always hugging it out in my head
Waiting is dying slowly alone
For people who never shared this home

Let go
Be true
Fuck it

Timed Writing

Squeaks and slaps with each pass

Plastic and skin, again

Thumping a not-quite rhythm

Breaths hitching, students sniffling

Lead filling line after line

Fingers searching for rhymes

Eyes watching the time—

When is it over?

It has barely begun.

In Character

Everything is shifting
My temper withers
As the weather improves
The dark holes open up
Dragging into naps on sunny days
Trashy plots pull at my mind
Wasting time that has other uses
I need to be adulting properly
Doing this and doing that
Not fading from what I don’t want
Not hoping for what I don’t need
Everything is shiftin
But I can’t see