Category: Work

2 Songs and Perfection

Leaving  in two hours and two songs are playing in my head.

This one by Pink.  🙂  Every time I hear, think about, or sing it…I will think of some of the most special people on the planet.  Thanks for that, 8s.   It really made a bittersweet night, sweeter.   A thousand times over, thanks.

And this other one written by Joey Tandem.   I will put the lyrics up here.  He says he will write a post about it when he records it soon. 🙂

This Much I Know

I watch you twenty years from where I stand

I know you’ll be old enough to understand

These things by then

By then

I want you to be the shining light of truth

I’ll hold you a burning torch against the gloom

Light shining through

Bright are you

The world won’t always be a friendly place

You fear you’re running out of dreams to chase

But don’t you worry now

It all works out somehow

In time

Because tonight you don’t have to be that strong

You can smile and just embrace who you’ve become

It’s alright to live for now ‘cause you’re still young

Just for tonight

Just for tonight

I’ll see you when you walk out into the world

And I’ll hear you speak the words right from your soul

This much I know

Oh I’m sure

The world may say that it’s all up to chance

I know it’s hard to keep your confidence

But set your mind at ease

And in your heart find peace

This time

Because tonight you don’t have to be that strong

You can dance like tomorrow never comes

It’s alright to forget about the world

Just for tonight

For tonight

Someday you’ll need to keep those dreams alive

Someday you’ll need to keep hope burning bright

Today a frozen moment in your life

To stay this way for one last time

At times you’ll fall and find no helping hand

You’ll feel so lost and nothing’s making sense

But you won’t ever be alone

Because there’s this place you know

This is home

Because tonight you are here where you belong

Close your eyes and take flight to the skies above

There’s no price to pay for freedom and for love

Just for tonight

For tonight

(Because tonight you don’t have to be that strong)

You know you don’t have to be that strong

(You can smile and just embrace who you’ve become)

Just embrace the person you’ve become

(It’s alright to) live for now ‘cause you’re still young

Set your mind at ease

And in your heart find peace tonight

I’ll see you

Soon enough we’ll meet again

I know you’ve learned enough to understand

This is not the end

Off to finish up packing for my two week adventure in India.  Goodbye school year 2010-2011.  You were interesting, annoying, challenging, hilarious and life giving all at the same time.  Here’s to fresh perspectives and fixing my gaze on what truly matters,  a much needed change of scenery, hanging out with one of my  best friends and doing something I love on the first few days of summer  — couldn’t think of a better way to kick off  our  break.    Thanks, G.

grateful slice:  endings and new beginnings

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Poetic License

Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.  Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance. 

-Carl Sandburg

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It began with Naomi Shihab Nye‘s Famous,  Dead Poets Society, and O Captain, My Captain.  These moments marked the beginnings of discovery, unraveling and unfolding. From ee cummings to Ani Di Franco, from Willliam Blake and William Shakespeare to William Carlos Williams, from Robert Frost to the Script, Coldplay and The Iliad,  I hoped a deep romance would develop between my Grade 7 students and words. It’s not an easy trek to travel from the literal to the figurative.  It’s a narrow and rocky path where they have to avoid jagged edges, bottomless ravines and bear traps because cliche’ is profanity and mixing awkward metaphors has a level in Dante’s Inferno. I recognize that it is challenging to describe a familiar feeling in a way that’s never been described before. To talk about love, loss, pain, fury, nature, identity, heritage, legacy, the future, relationships, family and forgiveness in an intimate and unique way, it can really leave one, at a loss for words. Well, I never said it was going to be a walk in the park (pardon the cliches).

But,

the Grade 7 kids wowed me as they outdid themselves with their bodies of work.  Through their use of words and their original pieces, through free verse, the sonnet and the intimidating villanelle,  the kids dared to face who they are, reflected on the beauty that surrounds them, delved and danced with language to meaningfully articulate what’s in their young hearts and minds; what questions they are asking, the advice they want to give their future children, the idea of never ever giving up and providing an authentic voice to the fear and pain of failure and rejection.   It was a steep climb amidst a lot of prose trying to be poetry, phrases pretending desperately to pass off as verse.  But after their third poem (out of the seven they were to write for their portfolios), the kids were on a roll.

“Her beauty soothes a hostile beast,

his temper shatters a continent”

(winner couplet by A. Lilles from his poem, A Situation);

“There is no such thing as holy poop

we can say it a hundred times,

and still, we will not end up with poop that is holy

Bored isn’t a real word

there is only the inability to act

the decision to be dull

If we don’t have the daring to do something it will never be done,

it will become a ghost, and haunt you,

testing your backbone”

(an excerpt by N. Morris from her poem, Things I know to be true)

And another excerpt by S. Calubad from his poem, Revenge

“…revenge is far more rewarding than gold

Like nothing else in the world can bring.

Remember that

revenge

is not a victory or a loss but

It is worth every step of the way,

even if it is a long cold road.

And don’t listen to other people who say

revenge is not worth it

Those people don’t know what it is

Forgiveness is for the noble

Forgetting is for the weak

Hate is a coward’s form of revenge

and revenge,

revenge is a river made of sweet honey

that may only last for a second …”

Frankly, there were so many stellar pieces, I wish I could upload them all and drown myself in imagery,  alliteration,  similes and metaphors.  But of course that’s like a bazillion lines longer than the 24 Books of the Odyssey.  (Exag.)

But  really, that’s what I love about poetry.  It doesn’t choose any batch or race or age or gender or season.  So far, in the five years that I’ve taught this unit, the work the kids have produced never ceases to amaze everyone. What’s more important  though, are the conversations they start with themselves, and the world, and the page, and the themselves they find and learn to love in the process – now, that’s priceless.

To celebrate their hard work, the kids and I plan an ala Dead Poets Society Poetry Fest.  This batch’s poetry fest happened last Friday, early evening in the school auditorium.  With a lot of people’s help, we were able to create our own cave.  With twenty different types of blankets and pillows strewn on the auditorium floor, candles in glass containers and several emergency lamps wrapped in yellow cellophane, we set up a space fit for any aspiring poet to read his or her original work with pride.  Their parents were invited and like voyeurs, they sat on chairs surrounding the inner circle of hungry young poets, with little flashlights, quietly reading the poetry fest packet,  as the kids read their pieces aloud.  Guest teachers, unexpected, and some reluctant readers,  joined the inner circle on the floor and took their turn to read a verse close to their heart.  Some read about their country, others read lines about loneliness, an original written by a boyfriend, another, the best birthday poem I had ever heard written by her daughter. Neruda, a popular choice, graced our event with his words thrice.  It was awesome.

In the end, even if I had heard their poems a hundred times (during practice in class), that night it was like I was hearing them read their lines for the very first time. I cried when I heard “Eclipse” and ” Miscreation” and  laughed aloud when I heard “For People Who Don’t Have Babies” and “I Love You Like Everyday Things.” I could picture every image described in “Emotions Alive” and felt comfort as one of the kids saw the beauty of “Failure.”  I was moved by the different stories and ideas and dreams that slowly rose to the surface through the kids’ words and turn of phrase.   It was truly magical and new and awe inspiring. Once again, poetry above all, didn’t let me down.

I was really glad to have been exactly where I was at 4:30 pm, Friday the 13th of 2011.  It was exactly where I needed to be, enveloped by solemnity, surrounded by imagery and low light and the  beauty of the spoken word.  A perfect way to end a hard week. A perfect way to restore ones spirit to welcome two more.

grateful slice:  The Beacon School Grade 7 Poetry Fest and reading poetry aloud; surviving the end of another school year and report card season.

I dedicate this post to our headmaster, Mr. Patrick Ritter ( a future entry on this man very soon.) 

India Calling

Remember, send yourself a postcard this time, fo.

It’s official.  Am booked and will be heading back to India in a few weeks.  Ahmedabad, Gujarat and Mumbai this time around. Will fly out the day after the last day of school to first conduct a two-day in school MYP Assessment Workshop in Ahmedabad.  Then I get to visit S in her new home in Mumbai until the tenth of June.  It feels a little overwhelming right now with all the work that still needs to be done before the arrival of May 28 but am optimistic it will  all inevitably fall into place.   Like always.

Anyway, aside from a little healthy anxiety, there’s also the excitement and the feeling of immense gratitude coursing through my veins right now. I’ve said it before, I will say it again.  I am a lucky, well-loved schmuck. To be given these many opportunities to travel, teach, share, learn, experience and visit good friends in different parts of the world, has been a real treat from G who is ever faithful, generous and constant.  Thanks again for this, G.  You must really love S and I.  First, the 8 weeks in New York with my sister in 2009, now ten days in Mumbai!  Win.

There are a lot of plans in place.  A market tour.  The slum tour.  A missions thing. Prayer walks. Working out and running together again and visiting S’s school.  G definitely has big plans.  I am convinced that’s why He is making this happen.  🙂  Right now though, I need to focus on everything that needs to be done:  I have the Poetry Fest on Friday,  papers to mark, report card narratives to write, grades to finalize and workshop preparation to attend to.  It’s going to be a wild ride this May and damn boy, am hanging on real tight! Wohoo!

grateful slice:  traveling, India and awesome, humbling opportunities.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Light

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Let there be light …

Great respite being up in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu for a week.  No other place I would have rather been the past week.  And like I always say, there are no accidents.  I was meant to be up there.    To learn. To meet amazing people. To be wowed by  a new place. To share the little I know. AND to rest. To regroup, to recover and to remember who I am.  (read: refer to past entries on being exhausted. I am back from the dead.)  It was one interesting and tiring journey. But it was exactly what I needed. (entry about India trip coming soon.)

Anyway, thanks, G.  I am one lucky schmuck.  Thank you for reminding me everyday just how awesome and generous you are.  My life is proof of it.

grateful slice:  being away from and now being back on the grid.

Somewhere, Somewhen else

It’s midnight and I am still working.

Don’t ask me why because it is a combination of many things.

From the fear of failure to facing the irrational/impossible demands of being a perfectionist, to the inevitable tendency to procrastinate (this to assuage the pain from possibly producing a lemon so you wait until you are ready to be perfect), it can become a complicated mix of adrenaline, sleep deprivation, caffeine tremors, self inflicted pressure, lousy time management and that sense of accomplishment when you eventually get things done.  It’s a vicious cycle really and a bunch of fatal flaws.

And the deadlines keep coming.  Once one thing ends, another REALLY important thing that began even before that other thing ended needs attention.  Perfect, undivided attention because they needed it yesterday.   Pulled from all directions, I can’t help but feel like Westley (from “Princess Bride”) on The (life sucking) Machine.  Dddddzzzzzzzzzttttzzzz.

Come Look Inside

In there though, is a different reality.

In the universe in that little silver box, I finish work at 4:30 pm. Get to do yoga often and regularly.  My room is spotless and the bag I used for Sagada is unpacked (yes, it’s still sitting there with stuff inside) and neatly stored.  I  write a chapter everyday for my upcoming novel and have fabulous mid-week dinners with friends in snazzy restaurants in the metro.  I have 13 book titles on my 50 Books Challenge Page and not *gulp* just two.  I laugh all the time and not make sungit to good friends at work.  I sleep early, run thrice a week and spend quality quiet time with G every sunrise.  In that reality, I am vegan, I have a beach house just a two hour drive away and heck, I have twenty awesome cameras/lenses and I can paint AND draw.   Okay, since we are at it, in that parallel world, I can sing.   And I mean, sing like Sarah Mclachlan/Alicia Keys/Jennifer Hudson, dress up like Gwen Stefani and not care about what people think like Pink.

And all deadlines are met with a smile and with a spring in my step.  Yup, somewhere, somewhen, there’s a version of me sound asleep, having a peak experience with Morpheus, the prince of dreams, instead of here, well, wide awake and working (or writing during a work break).

Escape is a great thing.  Getting away in slivers allow parts of us to recover.  Even just a little.  Like that tiny antique box.

Sigh.

Okay,work break done.   Thanks for listening and going with me … in there.

I love love love my job but sometimes, it’s hard to be me.

grateful slice:  fatal flaws, cyberspace, writing, work breaks and acceptance.

Weekly Photo Challenge : Abundance (2)

Because this week’s photo challenge is on abundance, I am posting a second set of pictures…an oldie but a goodie.

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An homage to Smores.

Abundant Indulgence.

grateful slice: yummy, pretty things