Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You know, I keep thinking about how I speak about Teach when people ask me about my son’s school.  It seems as though we have been somehow gently pressured into making less of our kids and our school in public.  As if we’re supposed not to say that our kids are smarter than other kids because it’s not nice to the other people’s kids.  The parents of the students at Teach have always worked their asses off so that their special children could have special opportunities.  Because they deserve it and we want it for them.  I wonder if this sortof apologetic, my-kid-isn’t-better-than-any-other-kid thing has leaked out onto our collective enthusiasm with respect to school events and fundraising in particular.

I was having a conversation with a home-schooling neighbor who asked me about Teach.  I heard the things I said to her and wondered if I was being too p.c.  She says she has a smart kid.  She wants him to have “enrichment” in his education.  Why I shouldn’t I say, “You kid is smart…he should go to Teach!  That’s a great place for kids who want enrichment!  We offer so much more than any other local school!”

She said, “Is it free?”

I thought for a second.  I mean, nothing in life is free, right?  I explained about how much the “enrichment” costs, around $800 per child.  I explained that we contribute as families, but not everyone can, so we generously work as Boosters to ensure that all the kids can have it, even if their families are too poor or too lazy to contribute.  “Poor” and “lazy” are negative terms, but in only 4 letters more concisely describe families who just can’t seem to swing an extra $800 each year for each child or who don’t feel like they should have to do anything since their school is publicly funded or they are just ignoring the way the whole thing works.  But, yeah, it’s free.  I don’t know if it’s the school for her, but it’s the school for me.  Where else can you get so much for only $800 a year?  It’s probably not the best possible school, but it’s sure good.  I explained about the huge class sizes, and also that it didn’t bother me.  It didn’t seem to make my son’s educational experience any worse than it would be at any other school.  Homeschooling wouldn’t be better, Catholic school wouldn’t be better.  Any of our local public schools wouldn’t be better.  At least I don’t think so.

Why do I feel like I am expected to explain why my kid isn’t any smarter than other kids?  He is.

Why do people keep their smarter kids in schools without opportunities for them to excel, just because it may make them seem “snobby?”

What if we collectively stopped being so apologetic about our class sizes and our smart children and our better opportunities?

I don’t know where I’m going here.  Just thinking.

Friday, January 7, 2011


If I had stayed, perhaps I'd be in the prime of my career now.

Driving down the road today, I heard an ad for a winery on the radio.  It mentioned the winemaker by name - a friend and classmate from college.  The last time I saw her in person, she was wearing dusty boots and I was wearing a lab coat.  We discussed the harvest, the color of the fruit, the brix.  I just don't seem to care about these things anymore.

Was it love...or merely a long-lasting infatuation?

Wine was the imp that gave us the courage to explore candlelight opportunities.  To create poetry, art, dance, romance.  It made us beautiful, witty, sensitive to color and light and music.  It was complex and layered and full of life.  I was fascinated and wanted to spend my life learning how to craft it.

My relationship with alcohol has changed as I've gone through my life, and I no longer see it as a purely good force for human happiness - it's faults acceptable and endurable.  Like any imp, it does not decide when you've had enough mischief, yet continues to play its tricks with complete disregard.  Have I grown tired of its twisted humor, like an overindulged darling?  Or is there simply no room in my current life for its gifts?  Candlelight opportunities must remain unexplored, mysteries unrevealed.  Night and darkness don't have the warmth they did.  Afternoons don't have the lolling daydream quality of those yesterdays.  I don't always notice the subtle layers of flavor, color, scent.

Is it truly that I don't care?  Am I just in a hurry, forgetting to feel the bright sparkle or dark velvet through my nose and across my tongue?  Do I no longer want the challenge of blending the caprice of nature, the regimen of science and the craft of man?

Or have I simply forgotten the magic in the dust and quiet shade of rusting leaves?

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Desiderata (by Max Ehrmann ca. 1920)

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life
keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.
**Reposted from Circling My Head**