My Day in…Quotes

I introduced Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” to my juniors today. I gave a brief overview of Miller’s biography and the inspiration McCarthyism was for his play. Through the explanation, I had a student ask me to explain Communism. I gave a very brief explanation and before moving on to other things asked if there were more questions.

“I’m still trying to understand Communism,” a student said. “So, basically, you’re saying that a communist would be….like…..well….like, you?”



Then, I had one of my coworkers come to me with a copy of the test she is giving in her class tomorrow.

“I just wanted to know if you had a few minutes to take a look at my written questions,” she said.

Umm, sure.

“It’s just that I watch you work your @$$ off everyday,” she continued. “And I would hate to undermine anything you were doing in your English class.”

Probably one of the best compliments I’ve ever received as a teacher.

"He Has a Funny-Shaped Head"

Oh, I remember the day so clearly. I was a junior in college, and I was taking a fundamentals of public relations course for my journalism major. Our final project was an analysis of the public relations strategy of an organization with thoughts as to how the department might be improved. At the time, I was still fairly certain I wanted to work for a pro sports team so my analysis was on the Los Angeles Clippers.
               On the final day of my visit, the team had an open workout, which I viewed as part of my analysis on the team’s desire to broaden their appeal to a younger audience. As I turned down the tunnel, I spun around right into (right INTO) one of the players.
               I think my reaction was pretty much one of “Oh my God,” which I’m sure I said aloud. He kindly signed whatever it was that I had in my hand, probably a notebook and went about his journey to the court.
               I was watching him on TV last night, no longer with the Clippers, and all of a sudden this fabulous memory came back to me. Not of meeting him, no. Of the conversation I had when I told my parents about this.
               You see, I have this obsession with the shape of peoples’ heads. Namely the shapes of the heads of men. It all but determines my attraction to any given guy. For the past few years, I really had no idea where it came from and why it was such a determining factor for me.
               Then, I saw this athlete on E! last night. And, it all came back to me.
               I had relayed the story to my parents about how I had met said NBA player after two years of having a crush on him and how I had all but embarrassed myself by running squarely into him.
               And my father’s response?
               “I don’t see why you have a crush on him,” he started. “He has a funny-shaped head.”
               “All those NBA players,” he went on, clearly teasing me at this point. “It’s like they get to a certain height and their heads start to be grossly out of proportion.”

               And this has stuck with me for eight years now. Plenty of icons, men that other women fall all over, I just don’t see it. And always for the simple reason that he “has a funny-shaped head.”

The Miracle of This Is It

I’ve spent a substantial amount of time in the last few months thinking about energy. I started at the beginning of October to take note each day of what I devoted my energy to. I did this for a week without making any changes. I simply noted what consumed my thoughts, what was part of my physical tiredness, who I was loving, and what I was dreaming. At the end of each day, I used this review as my meditation.

After seeing where the energy was going, I started something new. I woke up determined each day to focus my energy on all things positive, all thoughts positive and to be surrounded by positive people.

Except for one brief lapse on the Tuesday of the third week, I have noticed a remarkable difference in my own demeanor, the amount of physical energy I have, and the joy I take in seeing people.

I will admit that I laugh at myself because it all sounds so very strange. It does and it doesn’t. It seems an odd undertaking to channel your own energy. It seems stranger to record it. My job takes every ounce of physical and mental energy that I possess five days a week, and I just found that it was virtually impossible to do it well and devote energy to anything negative whatsoever.

There is a certain joy to life that I strive for. It’s not a major thing at all. It’s a joy that is so simple that it gets overly complicated a lot of times.

When I was 12 years old, my aunt gave me a book called “The Miracle of the Bells.” In it a very young woman is trying to become an actress. She is never quite good enough, but get a “break” one day from her admirer and is cast in a film. At the same time, she is dying. She resolves to finish the film and does. After her death, it is decided that the film will not be released. Her friend develops a plan as he prepares for her burial. He asks that church bells in the small town she is from ring for days on end. As the bells ring, notice is paid to her story and the film opens with resounding success. He is so pleased that her spirit is not only preserved in the film but that she shines for the world to see.

If that were not life lesson enough, I took away from it a very simple passage. In it, the characters are discussing life. It is decided that she lived her life to the fullest she could. She did what she loved until the very day she died, and the world was left with her beautiful spirit. Her friend went on to say that had she lived past her fame, she would have been forgotten and her spirit would have died.

I have held onto that for the past 15 years.

I laughed at Matt Kemp throughout the entire baseball season because he was so gleeful as he played baseball for the Dodgers. Then, one night, I realized I shouldn’t be laughing at him, and I thought if I could take half as much joy in my work as he does, life would be pretty amazing.

I watched “This Is It.” The film made from footage of Michael Jackson’s rehearsals right up to his death. I was struck by the joy. The joy he took in his art. The way that he used his entire self as an expression of that joy. It may seem that he had an easier means for doing that because his body was his art. That was simply his way.

Really, though, that is true for all that we do.

I describe what I do every day as an ‘artistic science.’ And I wrote about this last night, I know. I may be so exhausted but those moments that I share with my students, I am so unbelievably joyful.

I said I am lucky. But I’m not. It’s hard to work to find your joy. It’s hard work to get past what the world says you should do and be. It’s very hard work to make your work an expression of your beliefs. I may not dance. I may not play baseball. I may have one of the quietest talents that is out there. But I get to share it in such amazing ways. I get to receive twice as much as I give.

And I consider it to be a miracle. A miracle to do something that one loves. To feel that time suspends for you. To feel that you can create what you will. To be able to blend everything that inspires you, everything you love, everyone you respect into a body of work.

I love the ideas. I love thought. I love crafting both into something that can be shared. And I love knowing that if this were it, the memory of me would be one of joyful sharing.

Fulfillingness' First Finale

(With apologies to Mr. Stevie Wonder for stealing his brilliant title.)

Ah, but I think I get it.

Majorly understand. And in a nutshell this is what it means to me: I’d rather go home totally, completely exhausted than go home crying because I think my work doesn’t matter.

To be fulfilled is one of the  greatest things life has to offer us.

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to feel this way. This is not to say that my life is perfect, but it’s about as close as I can force it to be. At this point, the only things that I’m truly unhappy about are totally out of my hands.

So, I started last week praying for something for myself. For the first time in a very, very long time. Two somethings really. I think for the first time I don’t see it so much a selfish thing as taking care of myself. I will be the first to admit when I need help with that. Okay, not really the first, but that sounded good.

Fulfullingness’ First Finale. It seems like the fulfilment would be the end result. The “ooh” moment where you can just sit back in revel in the accomplishment. But, no. It’s the first finale. Hopefully, of many.

The Little One

I received a text message today from my young brother who is a senior in high school. He was preparing for a debate in his U.S. Government class tomorrow.

“I told [my teacher] that if I had to be a Republican, I would just mock myself.”

I couldn’t help but laugh because sometimes when I talk to him, I want to apologize to my parents. Not for him, but for me. And I would except for the fact that I’m sure they were as tickled by my opinions as I am in my brother’s.

He went on to describe the entire project. They were supposed to write bills that they would present to Congress. He described his classmates’ bills: vegetarianism for all, handguns for all, and other similar mandates. I had to nod because he is in the same grade as my students, and I’m sure the bills would be similar if I gave the assignment.

My brother?

A tiered tax plan that would, in essence, raise taxes for the richest Americans. He had an added provision that the added tax revenue could not be used for the military. His argument? A historical look at taxes starting with Reagan. In his words: “I’m just going to talk about how Reagan ruined everything.”

It made me think of a conversation we had in the car about a month ago. “Don’t tell, but I think our parents made me a hippie.”

“Umm,” I replied. “I think they know, and I think that’s what they were trying to do.”

“Oh, and I think they were trying to make you a Socialist.”