Your wings against East
West skies; you go forward to
Dreams from yesterday.
Haiku by Mursalata Muhammad
“Hear w/ Eyes; See w/ Ears” Poetry workshop
Art: 19 Konan Ware, Bowl with Clouds and Cranes, Red and Gold, Underglaze Blue
Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan exhibit at Frederik Meijer Gardens February 12, 2015
Your wings against East
West skies; you go forward to
Dreams from yesterday.
Haiku by Mursalata Muhammad
Written for “Hear w/ Your Eyes; See w/ Your Ears” Poetry workshop
Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan exhibit at Frederik Meijer Gardens
February 12, 2015
Workshop participants are welcomed to post their creations in the comments section of this blog and on Twitter @mursalata
Snow laden blossoms
Smothered dreams, hopeless chaos
Survival in teams
by D. R. Beach
-- inspired by Bold Blossoms in Cold Snow
Thank you so much for yesterday. Our students really enjoyed it; so did I.
Nature broken dust
Heavy, Acorn, Rough, Concrete
Earth, Sunset, tonight
by Gottrell Green
-- inspired by large vessel
Fairy God parents played by Dr. Keith Gilyard & Dr. Joanne Gabbin
Wish granted: introduce Ishmael Reed for his lifetime achievement award from the Furious Flowers Poetry conference held at James Madison University
At the ball: I danced with Ishmael Reed and take several selfies with other poetic royals
After the ball: nothing turned to pumpkins. Now, like a child for whom all good mythical prived true, I will sleep in a lovely (if temporary) world.
Beware: Do Not Listen To This Lifetime Achievement Award Introduction For Ishmael Reed
"tonite, thriller is"
How to tell a lifetime in 3 minutes, which I cannot do and so I choose to do it in 180 seconds, which feels more Reed to me
& of which only 160 remain
I sought for advice Tennessee, two people on the street, a PhD, and, in a dream, my mother
The best I got:
It doesn't matter what you say, it's Ishmael you will likely be wrong.
the lifetime in this introduction is "legendary”
in 0.24 seconds it returns about 191,000 google search hits
in hip hop Macy Grey records its lyrics and it knows Alicia Keys is on fire
“back off” from the lifetime in this introduction
"it is greedy"
only because there is more laundry to air than 180 seconds can hang
especially since only 116 remain
“Back off” the lifetime in this introduction
Showed you, "Writin’ is fightin'"
Told you, "Writing poetry is the hard manual labor of the imagination."
I see you didn't listen
now the lifetime in this introduction has
you, as my mother used to say, from the roota to the toota
"nobody can hear you"
I’d tell you to “back off” but it’s too late
The lifetime in this introduction told you
"Ethnic life in the United States has become a sort of contest like baseball in which the blacks are always the Chicago Cubs."
The lifetime in this introduction "used to be a discipline proem which caused [it] embarrassment until [it] realized that being a discipline problem in a racist society is sometimes an honor."
The lifetime in this introduction told you
"We learn about one another’s culture the same way we learn about sex: in the Streets."
You see, the lifetime in this introduction "aint got no manners"
but it do got "a generous degree of linguistic intelligence...yoked to considerable personal intelligence" – that’s genius-like stuff
statistic: the US bureau of lifetimes reports that in 1938 was born a person whose lifetime, try as we might, would not fit within a lifetime.
So “Back off”
if Ishmael Reed's lifetime won't even fit within his lifetime, what did you expect me to do in 3 minutes?
Notes: this piece generously uses Reed's poem Beware: Do Not Read This Poem , quotes, and paraphrases Howard Gardner's book Leading Minds
Two days ago, my husband and I moved our daughters into their college dorms. One is a junior and the one is a freshman. The topic of adult conversation around this moment in our lives has been about our readiness for an empty nest. When I respond that I am eager for the change, I am met with doubt and comments about how much I am going to miss the girls.
I reasserted that I would not miss them as much as I looked forward to seeing them again and experiencing how they are changing as humans. I would not miss them as much as I looked forward to seeing how they were figuring out how to be in relationships with each other as maturing adult sisters and maturing adults with parents like us.
I spent the night with a college friend the night after we moved the girls into their college dorms. The next morning, she made breakfast and offered me a cup of tea, which I initially declined. We have known each other for quite some time and she responded to my rejection of tea by saying “I’m making you tea anyway.” The only reason I declined was because I prefer real tea – no bags, no Lipton (unless I’m making gallons of iced-tea). On the morn of depositing my offspring onto a college campus, real tea was in order!
Kate “the great” – as she affectionately referred to herself in college, made me a cup of Chai from scratch – no bags or powders, and we joked about how Lipton was for iced-tea and those who knew no better. I drank a cup with breakfast then poured the rest into my Teavana insulated container, hugged her two sons, and said my good-byes, as Kate promised to buy our Michael Franks concert tickets that very day. I left her house with a hot mug-o-Chai and containers with ingredients to make more of it when I got home.
Wil and I got home about 11pm. I brought my overnight bag and mug-o-Chai into the house. I opened the Teavana container to pour the Chai out and noticed it had thickened and become a bit curdled. Its consistency was different from processed Chai I was used to getting on the go from quick stop coffee places and restaurants. This Chai was not processed. Its recipe was fresh. It was meant to be appreciated, savored, and enjoyed not kept in a container all day.
This morn, I took the ingredients I got from Kate the great and brewed a giant cup of Chai. I took that giant cup-o-Chai (along with two peanut-butter-Nutella covered croissants) to my deck, where I appreciated, savored, and enjoyed it because I knew it was not made to last all day.
In those Chai moments, I understood why I did not miss my children, who are now doing something on their college campus. In my heart, I am happy to feel parenting was (and continues to be) a cup of freshly brewed Chai - meant to be an appreciated, savored, and enjoyed experience.
Interesting. The whole series of events is unsettlingly interesting. I heard someone call the violence (shooting, death of Michael Brown, and following protests and policing choices) a learning lesson.
However, I'm distancing myself from the idea that those who need to learn most will learn from these repeated knotty clashes of race, class, and cops. I failed college algebra 3 times before receiving an above average grade in logic - the class that met the same criteria as algebra. In theory, I could have kept taking algebra indefinitely and continually telling myself the subject provides learning lessons, which means little if I never actually learned the lessons. It would have also been a stupid and financially costly decision.
On the bright side, my decision to repeatedly take algebra would have only cost money not lives, and still, I decided whatever the lesson might have been, I was not learning it and it was not worth my time or money.
Suppose the current Fegurson incident (along with the ones before it and the one we can expect) are not lessons to learn from but interactions mandating us to repeat failure (me and algebra) or interactions affording us chances to face ourselves and find another way to learn the lesson already (me and logic).
What might we do if we learn the lesson? I got to graduate college. If we learn the lesson, you think, someday, as a society, we too could graduate?
Yiya, my dear high metabolism daughter, you left your snicker doodles behind when you left for college.
I'm eating them all right now with ice cream while sitting on the couch watching TV, as Nu, your little sister packs her things to join you at Oakland University next Saturday.
I feel the gluttony taking over my body! It's warm a fuzzy. It could lead me into the light. It had already taken my brain!!!!
I guess I will miss you two just a bit...
Don't worry I'm good until Thanksgiving, plus, when you people aren't here - I don't buy snicker doodles!
I knocked my bottle of "Very Sexy for Her" perfume off the little glass shelf attached to the mirror in my bathroom. I watched it fall heavily through the air an onto the floor. I thought it hilarious that my current living situation needed much more than that perfume.
As it crashed onto the floor sending chunks and slivers of red glass across the tile, I knew I was over myself.
The scent of the near full bottle ascended and infused the air with a calm that short-circuited the constant cold of my room. The tomb-chilled room was less dreary, and so was I. I was ready for the business of completing the TELF course and getting home by July 26. The broken bottle of perfume was a clarifying moment of absurdities…
1. There is nothing very sexy for her in my room on Cercado street in Arequipa, Peru
a. Where it’s colder inside than it is outside
b. Where someone keeps leaving the propane tank on in the kitchen (acions the feel rather dangerous to me)
c. Where the property owner says the internet will work in 15-minutes but neglected to say he’d had the whole system changed and it won’t work until the next day
2. The TEFL school administrator did not see my issue with the 5-day discrepancy between what was on the program’s website and the actual end date for the program.
By the time I left my broken bottle of perfume scented room that morning, I was decided: I’d go out to eat at one of the restaurants Mena pointed out yesterday, do well on all my remaining student teaching sessions, complete all the other TEFL requirements, and get home by the actual program’s end date.
Poncho Villa sandwich, churros with vanilla ice cream, and hot tea. Uh...Yum!
Okay 6-days of struggle were enough and I needed to move on, up, and out! I accepted that there would be no hot (or barely warm) showers for me. My sleepwear would always include a knit cap, sweater, and socks. All that jazz was in the past because today was moving day for my friend Mena and her family.
On our way to her old house, in a district I could not pronounce, she pointed out several restaurants as we walked to Plaza de Armas. Apparently, Sunday is the day of school parades and local government activities. This day was a preview for the upcoming independence celebrations on July 27, 28, and 29.
We took a "camioneta" (a van that works like a bus) to her house. She asked me more than once was I okay with taking it because most visitors don’t travel that way. As long as she was doing the talking in Spanish I was good with the decision, and the fare was about 45cents versus 10-sols!
Traveling with Mena and her nephew, who accompanied her empowered me to buy a few items from a street vendor outside her house coconut Macaroons and sugar cane. The sugar cane was wonderfully memorable since it reminded me of summer time in Detroit when we’d get sugar cane as a treat. I don’t think I’d had this treat in over 35-years (yes, I old)!
Part of my deal for helping them move was that I’d eat. I took the day off from fasting. Her mother was concerned about me not eating. If her mother was anything like mine – there was no way I could go to her home and help her move without accepting food. We ate a few hours after I arrived to help with the move. After inquiring whether I prayed before eating, I was asked to day the pray then found out that, they don’t really do that sort of thing!
I also corn-rolled/French-braided Valerie's hair (Mena's sister). I explained why I cut my hair - to see the shape of my bald head and get more sleep since I'd have no hair to comb.
We concluded I could open a hair-braiding shop and make lots of money should I decide to relocate to Arequipa...
Then the moving began...
Then we had dinner...
Entry 1: Maslow and Me
I don't cry often but when I do, the tears are usually associated with extreme frustration. The frustration builds overtime reaching an emotion best described as pissed off. Multiple events must happen simultaneously and at a rate, I have a little to no control over in order to get me too pissed off mode. If the past six days had occurred in a city where I knew what was going on, I wouldn't be talking so intimately about Maslow.
As expected, today's team-teaching for a children's intermediate English language class was flooded by bad decisions. While the lesson plans were formed by each of us, our presentation of them were washed away by our lack of teamwork. During our debriefing with our observers, Scott and Kristin, I had little to say. During the debrief, mine rapidly reviewed the previous five days, with significant stops at last night with no Internet and this morning with no access to the school. Those a few minutes were all it took to realize I'd spend 80% of my week with Maslow.
Entry 2: Hold On...
Someone's knocking at my door. I'm confused because I have no friends here but will answer because, I hear Anibal's voice.
Entry 3: Awkward
That was Scott and his wife. Scott teaches the pedagogy section of the TEFL course. He was also my observer today during my horrible student teaching. Scott had the opportunity to see and hear what too much time at the lower end of Maslow's does to me. They have invited me to dinner tonight at 7 PM. So do I continue this journal entry or do I stop? If you keep reading, you will figure it out.
Entry 1 continued: Maslow Time is Cool If...
Spending time with Maslow is cool if it's at the upper end of his needs of hierarchy. However, Maslow and had me stuck in the ghetto struggling to find physiological and safety needs...
100% Basic Level Maslow
Monday and Tuesday we spent 100% of our time in the ghetto. Tuesday, our time there was insignificantly reduced to about 96% because I did have a cold meal of beans and rice, which I'd packed in my suitcase.
Maslow @ 80%...
Wednesday and Thursday, we were there ghetto-bound about 80% of the time. I found the super market on Wednesday, and met on Thursday, meet Pedro, the school's administrator, managed to cook a meal, and completed some TEFL assignments.
Maslow @ 65%...
Friday, we were there were about 65% of the time and saw flicker of self-actualization's neighborhood. I had a successful mini-lesson and found another shopping plaza. The most significant event was making a friend, which boosted me out of the ghetto and on to the outskirts of belonging. Ximena is a classmate and lives here. She'd been telling me about house shopping all week and today said she found a house and they'd be moving on closer to the school on Sunday. She walked with me part of the way to the new plaza I was discovering, and I offered to help them move on Sunday. However, by the time I got back to my room at about 7 PM, I was back in the ghetto with no Internet service to use for preparing for class, no hot water, and no heat.
Maslow Holding Steady...
Saturday was shaping up to be a 65% or more ghetto day with Maslow: no access to the internet or school, team teaching with Juan was not pretty, and when I got back to my room, noticed that I'm missing the grocery bag with my Nutella and other items not nearly as important as Nutella.
However, now it's been a few hours since I realized I've been living at Maslow basic needs levels: physiological (warmth, water, food), safety, belonging instead of course content preparation - AKA the ghetto. My reaction to this realization may not be like others because mine was pissed off. How frustrating is it when you are reaching for self-actualization while you're trapped at basic needs.
I decided to deal with the day 6 in Arequipa, Peru by coming to my room, writing this entry, and sleeping until it's time to break my fast. When Scott and his wife showed up to invite me out to dinner, I was happily surprised. I'm predicating dinner will give me material in need to chill with Maslow in the neighborhoods I'm more familiar with - belonging, esteem, and self-actualization!
It's Nap Time...
Sleep is the best I can offer my esteem needs.
Entry 1: Redeemed
I killed my mini-lesson and redeemed myself from the spoiled grammar lesson performance.
The class decided to make Friday food day; I brought Belvita, which everyone liked. Ximena brought a dish called Causa, which I packed to eat later after breaking my fast. There was an assortment of other foods.
After explaining my need for string and other items I might use for the Saturday kids class Juan and I are student teaching tomorrow, Heidi gave me directions to a Plaza Vea, where I could find a Walmart-like store. The walk to as much time as going to Plaza Armas - just in the opposite direction on Grauu, a Main Street. I made a friend, Ximena, who walked with me part way to the plaza. I have plans to help her and her family move to their new home closer to the school.
Plaza Vea is a mall. It's a large enclosed area with a Walmart-like called Supermercados Peruanos and other familiar stores: T. G. I. Fridays, Papa John’s Pizza, Payless Shoes, etc. It was an odd experience because the familiarity caused by the stores didn't go with the language and people in them. I walked up many aisles because I failed to properly pronounce Nutella and receive help finding it. With Nutella purchased and a bunch of other stuff, I was having a pretty good day.
I had to stop by the school to pick up my food. At the latest, I am in my room by 7:30pm on days I go to the plaza. Most days, I'm in by 5:30pm. A nonprofit called HOOP was holding a bake sale for which I purchased chocolate cake after talking to Teresa, one of the co-founders. It was hopeful seeing young people committed to human services.
Entry 2: Back at the Ranch
The day's most interesting events didn't happen until I got to my room and looked for the property owner to ask about water. On the way to the property owner’s apartment on the second floor, I ran into Anibal! Who was going to ask about the internet connection? Anibal speaks Spanish, which was just helpful enough to find out we'd have no internet tonight, which means tomorrow's teaching will be rough.
To answer my hot water question, we all went to Anibal's bathroom and came to mine. We watched as the property owner filled a bucket with water from the sink by the 8-once cupful. Once the bucket was full, he invited me to feel the water. I felt as warm was a polite beautiful self-center person on a date with an ugly person. He explained that for warmer water, we needed to try before 5pm, which I'd already done.
It was nearing 7 and the school was open until 9. If Anibal were willing to go there to do some work, I would have gone with him. However, I found out, he doesn't venture out after dark either. We decided to walk to school at 6:45 in the morning and hope they'd be open so we can prepare for our 9am student teaching classes. It dawned on both of use that we had no idea what the school's hours were!
Entry 3: Yeah, right!
It was way past fast breaking time. I settled into my chilly room and ate a Causa, which is deliciously great! It included ingredients I'm routinely found of: avocado, potatoes, and chicken. After eating I hopelessly tried to prepare of team teaching tomorrow's Saturday children's EFL class...
It's 11:59, and I just got done raking my brain over passive voice using the verb "to be" and the correct past tense to show habits and actions completed in the past, as well as, processes with verbal phrases (separable and inseparable) with by... Yeah, right! I need my internet!! I'm curious to see what my partner, Juan, and I actually do in tomorrow's class.
Entry 1: Dehydrated Idiot
I've not been able to get to sleep! My body heat has long won the war against the chill of the bed. However, a combination of tasks I need to complete today in Grand Rapids (where I am not), along with handful of email related work, a myriad of thoughts about this TEFL program, and the fact that I've gone and dehydrated myself have pushed sleep beyond my immediate reach.
The headache alerted my conscious mind to what I've done to my body over the last three days. Since Monday, I've only eaten one meal, which I told myself, would be fine since I've adapted my Ramadan diet to include water intake. As I lay in bed, I knew I'd told myself a lie. Well, actually my kidneys joined my headache in alerting me to the lie. From about 10pm - 1am I laid awake in bed with thoughts of tasks swirling around in my head masking the headache, which grew intense enough to silence the thoughts of tasks I couldn't do anything about anyway.
From about 1 - 1:45, I was content with riding the headache into sleep because it was less irritating than thinking about stuff. I knew I should've got up and drank some water because my mother always said, "a headache is a sign of dehydration, drink some water." But she always said those words where it was warm; my Peruvian room ain't warm.
However, when my kidneys joined the "idiot, you're dehydrated," conversation at about 1:50 am, it only took them about 15 minutes to drudge whatever fluids they could find from the rest of my body into my bladder. This drudging process was manual, new, and odd. I can't say it was a pleasant feeling or a painful feeling. It was just a feeling that complemented my headache and brought my bladder into the conversation of my idiocy.
Still, I stayed put under the covers debating the pros and cons of going to the bathroom for a few trickles of brown urine (deep yellow to brownish is a good indication of dehydration).
Pro: I might get to sleep by 3am (my alarm is set for 5:30am)
Pro: If I go to the bathroom, I can drink water and attack my dehydration
Con: It's freaking freezing outside these covers
Con: My bladder is probably tricking me to think it's more than a few trickles
Con: I will be out there for a long time because I have to get my steriPen, pour water from the bottle into the cup I bought so I can insert the pen deep enough into the water to sterilize it. Before, I can pour the bottled water into the cup; I've to wash the cup!
Con: by the time I get done trickling, cleaning the cup, pouring the water, and purifying it, the bed will be freezing again!!!
Once I completed my last con thought, it was 2:11 am and, with the help a head, kidneys, and bladder, I was able to see my foolery.
I got out of bed, put my feet in shoes, quick-stepped through the cold air into the colder bathroom, shocked my still warm bottom out of all warmth, and trickled relief.
Next, I tackled the bottled water issue. I bought a cup because I had a suspicion I wasn't sterilizing the water correctly when using the pen with the bottle.
Cleaning the cup took longer than expected because it had three price tags: one on the side, one on the bottom, and of course, one stuck inside at the bottom of the cup, who does that?
Okay, with sticker out and cup cleaned, I poured water and inserted the steriPen. The pen lit up differently, which strengthened my suspensions that I'd been using it incorrectly during my limited water intake on Monday and Tuesday.
Since I was up and cold again, I decided to look at a YouTube video on how the pen should work (everything is on YouTube). Yes, every video I viewed (I only watched 3, but there were many to choose from) confirmed my strong suspension that I had indeed used the steriPen incorrectly on every occasion leading up to my 2am attempt!
Good news, I changed my alarm from 5:30 to 8:00am and was in bed by 3:25am, by which time the cold sheets were a non sequitur, and I was asleep within minutes.
Note 1: I briefly considered ending the previous sentence with one or more exclamation marks but the action would have been a bold-faced lie!
Entry 2: Nutella:
I went to the plaza for the last jar of Nutella, which was gone -- of course. The grocery explained that the items moves, "rapido," which I understood without issue.
Tied with more, more importantly, Mel lit the stove with her magic lighter and I was able to cook food.
It's a new delicious recipe born out of simplicity, which I'll bring home with me: spaghetti, green, and Kalamata olives, avocado, fresh garlic, and olive oil (I love olives).
Entry 1: A Little Lost but Mostly Found
It is 6:16 PM; I begin my account of the day near its end because my freshest memories are those that just happened. As I recant the most events, earlier events unwind and come into focus. For the record, my day is near its end when I enter my room because I will not exit again for anything - not even to cook the pasta I just bought at the supermarket!
I got lost on my way back from the Plaza de Armas.
While I got lost at 5:40pm, I did not declare myself lost until 5:55.
At 5:56pm, I figured out which way I should walk to get home.
At 5:57 PM, I realized I had a massive headache, which I had given myself by getting lost. As I walked in the right direction towards my house, I acknowledged the smart decision not to buy a gigantic jug of water until I got closer to my house. I did buy a few small containers of water when I was about two blocks from home.
As I weaved in and out of the crowd of people, who populate the road that runs perpendicular to Cercado - my narrow, cobbled street with no sidewalks (which still surprises me with cars and taxis rolling up and down it). I thought about saying excuse me but did not hear anybody saying it and could not think of how to say it in Spanish, so I just bumped through the crowd happy I actually knew which jean pocket held my keys.
This area, like many in Arequipa, serves as an impromptu bus stop, which Danny told me about two days ago but that was Monday, my first day here; I didn't retain much information that day.
My goal: get in before dark, which is about 6:47 PM here!
This area, like many in Arequipa, serves as an impromptu bus stop, which Danny told me about two days ago but that was Monday, my first day here; I didn't retain much information that day. As I neared the door to the house, Tom, another TEFL classmate, came out. So, even though I could locate my key, I didn't actually have to use it. He asked if I had any trouble finding the Plaza and the supermarket. "No," I said and explained I did have a hard time finding Nutella. The supermarket only had one family sized container that cost 37 sols ($13US). I was not sure I wanted to spend that much and knew I should not consume that much, so on the walk back I popped into several stores asking if they sold Nutella. He explained that he and Mel were considering having people from home send their favorite items and Nutella was one of them. I told him I would go back to the supermarket tomorrow and get the family sized container since I could share it with them. I skipped telling him about getting lost coming home and realized my headache was gone.
I made it to the door that leads to my room at 6:10 PM. By the time I got in and unpacked my purchases, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to cook anything and my day was pretty much done. I spent 137sols ($50US) at four different stores. I made purchases in order need and ability to carry:
Textilon - Tights (25sols) because I'm freezing
El Super - Groceries (37sols) because I'm hungry (spaghetti, bread, olives, avocado, garlic, olive oil, dishes)
(I've no idea what this place was called - A small change purse (8 sols) because I'm not used to having money in the form of coins
Starbucks - An insulated cup, a cup of tea to go, and a container of tea from Starbucks (67 sols) because I'm freezing
Corner Store - Water (3sols) because bottled water is the only way to go
Entry 2: Mini-Lessons & Earthquake Tremors, I Can Live Without Them
This morning I awoke looking forward to taking a shower at lunchtime or right after classes. I got up at 6am to work on my mini-lesson for Scott's class. I slept a little later because I stayed up late working on it. I got to school early, printed several things, and thought I was ready to give my mini grammar lesson.
My grammar lesson on conjunctions bombed. The only thing I want to say about that experience is that I learned from it. I will leave the sordid details to the notes written in my notebook.
The best thing about Matt's language awareness class was that I had zero blah moments.
I did not come back to my room for the hopeful warm to hot shower because I used much time to do something that I cannot recall, which limited my shower taking time. I did take a short walk because it was hotter outside than it was in the building. My walk only lasted about 10 minutes.
When I came back to the building, everyone was standing near doorways and looking weird. Mena, the classmate who joined the program a day later than I did, asked me if I felt it. I told her no. Then she explained, if you're outside a building you're less likely to feel the earthquake tremors. I was happy I took a walk.
After classes were done, my plan for the rest of the day was getting a warm shower by 3:15pm and walking down to the plaza to do some necessary shopping. I was in the shower just long enough to soap up when the lukewarm water turned freezing cold. It was not a pleasant experience.
Note to self: next shower must be at noon. After my ice cold shower, I dressed quickly and headed outside for warmth and my journey to the Plaza de Armas.
Entry 3: Plaza de Armas, Here I Come!
The walk was warming and the streets were lined with shops. What got my attention most, where the numerous laundries, which my property owner had told me about on Monday.
I noted the curious smell freshly laundered clothes and smog created. Most of my attention was on the route I took so I would not get lost on the walk home (yeah, right!). The purpose of my trip to the Plaza was to get necessities and understand the route so I could come back and enjoy the plaza and cathedral later during my stay. I walked several streets but only identified San Jerusalem and San Francisco. I saw a line of policemen in full armor, which did not make me feel safe or comfortable - just foreign. I turned my attention to the 1.2 million pigeons in the plaza (which reminded me how scary the Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds really was the first time I saw it). I also let my eyes scan the cathedral, of course I can't recall it's name, which is why my plan is to go back to the plaza and soak it all in without getting lost.
Well, as I sit atop my bed, cross-legged, my toes tinkle with numbness and goose bumps move in waves across my near-hairless scalp from the dropping temperature in my room signaling I am done writing about this day. It's time for me to layer-up, brush my teeth, and confront the chilled space between my four thin covers and thinner sheet with my body heat, which will eventually win out. It is 46 degrees outside, which is warmer than my room.
NOTE: last night, while I stayed up late working on the grammar exercise that bombed today, I discovered that my iPad gives off a noticeable amount of warmth. Yes, I worked on my assignment with my iPad under the covers with me.
Entry 1: Less Blur
I start this entry at the end of this day. It's 7:57 PM, and I sit in my cold room on my bed surrounded by today's schoolwork preparing to eat dinner: a bag of cold Madras lentils and container of organic Jasmine brown rice, which I've mixed into the bag of beans. I forgot to ask about the availability of hot water and once in the kitchen, realized it would be too much trouble to heat up my microwaveable beans and rice with the stock of cookware, plus I am cold.
This morning, I awoke tired but shook it off with a cold-water wash of the most necessary areas. I could not bring myself to embrace an icy shower. I was off to school by 8:33, after frantically looking for my front door key, which I decided to keep separate from my room key for no apparent logical reason but to cause myself panic.
Last night, I vowed to find warmth for my near bald-head against the chill of night! On my way to school, I bought a knit hat from a street vender for 10sols. I don't know or care if the price was right because the only time my skull isn't freezing is during the middle of the day when I'm in the dag-nabit classroom!!!
Entry 2: School
I got to school early enough to struggle through a conversation with the cleaning woman, who got to my class a few minutes after I arrived. She was nice and cleaned the room twice: once that morning and once at lunch - yes, I was still there! I'd didn't have anywhere to go, plus I'm fasting so what's the point of walking the streets smelling food?
Scott's class: We shared teaching observation reflections. I looked like a nerd because I completed three yesterday, which has put me ahead of the five other students who arrived five days before me.
Yes, I came late because I have the nasty habit of shoving more stuff into the 24-hours a day is meant to hold. A new student, Ximena, arrived and it took little effort for me to share her sense of bewilderment.
We have to prepare a 10 minute lower level grammar lesson for class tomorrow. I've settled, I think, (and a perhaps bit to Scott's disappointment), on CONJUNCTIONS! I thought about this assignment, ran it past Matt, spied few ideas on the internet, and decided it's too freaking cold to work on it anymore tonight. I'm putting a bit into my 5:33am alarm.
Matt's class: I had fewer blah, blah, blah moments!! I do enjoy linguistics and grammar; however, a few of my documented learning styles are anti-enjoyment. I took pictures and notes but longed to add recording to my ever changing and eclectic collection of learning strategies.
After my classes, which end at 3pm, I observed a Speaking and Writing class, sent a few emails using the school's computer, which shows everything in Spanish, talked to Matt for a few minutes, and asked if I could also record his class, which should help me eliminate all blah, blah, blahs for the content of his language awareness class.
Entry 3: Warm Advice
News flash before I go to bed ready-rolled (which means I have on ALL my clothing for the day); I went to the kitchen. On my way to the communal kitchen, which is just done the common hall, one of my housemates and fellow TEFL students came out of her room. I seized the chance to inquire about hot water. She explained that there is hot water from 12 to 3 PM, which means, even though I'm fasting, I do have lunch plans!!!
In her native Aussie accent and warm, friendly, inviting use of the F-word, she gave me two additional suggestions for keeping warm, which are not presented with their original phrasing:
1. Sleep in layered clothing - she gestured to emphasize the number of items she currently wore (I'd already figured that one out).
2. Enjoy the company only you can provide for yourself - she placed one hand, palm open and vertical to the left side of her mouth, as she emphasized in a tone too loud to be a whisper, "[it] really helps" (nope, I'd not thought of that one).
Entry 1: BLUR
My plane left on Sunday at 3pm. I arrived in Arequipa at 7am in Monday.
I was happy that I had either window or aisle seats on each of the three planes.
I arrived tired but not willing to miss another day of my teaching English as a foreign language course (TEFL). I was anxious because my cell phone would not make any calls and I was not sure who was picking me up from the airport (Pedro or Heidi).
After saying, "no gracias" to about a dozen men asking if I wanted a taxi, I put a coin worth 2sol into a phone and called Pedro's cell phone number, who informed me that Heidi, the school's coordinator, should be arriving shortly to pick me up. Just as I hung up the phone and walked around the corner back to the airport exit where the many taxi men lined the walkway and saw Heidi looking for me, she was holding a sign with my name on it. Since it was just after seven in the morning, Heidi suggested we go to the place I'd be staying. When we arrived, I met my property owner Juan C.
He spoke no English; I spoke no Spanish. However we had Heidi, who translated everything he said about my living space: here is your room, didn't expect you until this afternoon leave your key and it will be cleaned, here is your bathroom, here is the kitchen, clean up after yourself. After putting my gigantic very colorful travel suitcase in my room, I followed Mr. C. and Heidi up two flights of stairs, where he showed me the sink I could use to wash clothes and the lines to hang them. He explained there were many places I could have my clothes washed for very little money.
I wasn't listening; I was thinking through the upwardly labyrinth layout of the building. The conversation turned to money and if I had money for my month's stay. I did because I'd exchanged $500 US dollars for 1,210 Peruvian sols. Standing in the open lounge/laundry area with no ceiling, I counted 600 sols and handed them over to Mr. C.
Heidi's translations included additional information about the area. Once my rent was paid, I followed Heidi's voice and body up another two flights of stairs to the rooftop, which is open and from which I saw a volcano, whose name I can't recall, and several other landmarks in the area as well as beautiful views. She explained that the smoky atmosphere came from both man made pollution and the volcano, which has not erupted in a long time. It does provide tremors but the pollution accounts for most of the city's smog.
I followed her back down the four flights and before she left she gave me very simple walking directions to the school. It was cold; I decided not to change clothes. I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and left the key in my door, as instructed by Mr. C. so my room could be cleaned, and left for school by 8:30am. I arrived early.
Entry 2: First Day of School
My first day of school is a blur. It started at 8:30 in the morning and went until 9 that night. I met Scott, who teaches pedagogy from 9 to 12. I don't remember what I did for lunch, but I didn't leave the building nor did I eat. I met Matt, who teaches language awareness from 1 to 3. I met my classmates - there five of them and I don't know where I wrote their names. I remember what I did for lunch, I want to find a place that sold office/school supplies, and I bought two books and some yellow sticky notes.
I remember what I did in Scott's class before lunch! Everyone had to present a mini lesson on vocabulary. I watched what the other people did and decided I would go ahead and try since I had some weird supplies in my backpack. I had a package of shapes that you could peel the back off and stick onto something and about 20 small white paper bags. I bought the stickers a month ago at CVS when I was in Kentucky, working as a table leader for AP language composition because I thought they would be a good prop for the readers at my table. Since I didn't use them in Kentucky, I packed for my trip to Peru and thought, "they might be useful." I used the stickers and paper bags for a lesson I called - the shape of my family.
All I remember about Matt's language awareness class was blah, blah, PARTICIPIAL, blah, blah, ATTRIBUTIVE, blah, PREDICATIVE, blah, and I asked him if I could take pictures of what he had written on the whiteboard. I was happy he said yes.
During Scott's class, he explained that everyone needed to complete 6 teacher observations by Friday, July 11th. Since I was not here Saturday and missed observing the children's class, I would have to make all my observations of adult classes but would still need to teach a 2 1/2 hour children's class on Saturday, July 12 with a classmate. In order to catch up on my observations, I stayed for a class that met from 3 to 5 and a class that met from 5 to 7. While I knew it was winter here, I did not know it got dark about 6 o'clock. During the 5 to 7 class break, I found Heidi and asked for help me finding someone to walk back to my room with since her advice from this morning was "try to avoid walking alone after 8 or 9." She suggested Danny who teaches from 7 to 9 and lives in my building. So, yes I stayed and observed another class from 7 to 9 because Danny agreed that we walk home with him.
Entry 3: The Walk Home & Good Freezing Night
On our way home, Danny bought bread from a street vender and an avocado from the store that was nearly literally a hole in the wall. We discussed why I was here and what I might do with my certification besides becoming a better community college English composition teacher.
I learned he is from Scotland and had a Skype interview at 4:30 that morning because he forgot to tell the interviewer he meant 10am Peruvian time. He explained that he took taxis in Arequipa without incident. After I mentioned his high level of safety may has something to do with the fact that he was male. After a moment, he agreed. Once we made it to our house and the hallway leading to our respective rooms, he told me not to hesitate asking him any questions.
Once in my room, I ran the water in the sink for about ten minutes when it didn't turn hot, I turn off that knob and turn on the other one. When it didn't turn hot, I brushed my teeth and got under the four not so heavy layers of cover on my bed with all my clothes, my prayer mat wrapped around my calves and feet, a sweater on my body, and another sweater over my head (I'd shaved all my hair and my head was freezing - it was colder than my feet, which only my husband can intimately understand what degree of cold I'm trying to describe).
It's good to see Arizona State University capitalize on the campus police arrest of a brown female faculty member. This advertisement follows a CNN online article of Assistant Professor Ore's encounter with campus police.
Advertising their online educational options, in light of the event, let's people of a certain hue know ASU has a safer educational option for both ASU faculty, who can teach online and avoid the dangers of walking on campus, and students, who can learn from the safety of anywhere campus police are not present.
For article: http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/30/justice/arizona-jaywalking-arrest/?c=&page=3
NOTE: During the time it took me to write the following, the temperature rose by 2 degrees and they needed 6 people to get off the plane...I got off. I'm waiting for my new flight itinerary. I didn't know the whole what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas might include me...
While headed home from a conference in Las Vegas, I was able to see a show. The show was free and performed at the gate where my flight departed. A woman in a wheelchair was pushed up to the waiting. Once she was parked next to a row of chairs, she made two emphatic comments:
1. She needed surgery for her ankle
2. She HAD TO get someone a souvenir Las Vegas shirt.
When one of her companions didn't offer to go for the shirt, she got out the chair and, with a slight limp, walked towards the shops with her other companion. The companion left behind diverted her eyes away from the audience, which included me. When boarding time came, she reappeared in the priority line for passengers needing additional assistance. When the agent approached her she said, "my wheelchair is over there," which she indicated by motioning with her head because her hands were weighted down: one hand pulled a suitcase with a carryon attached, the other hand held a large paper shopping bag (probably containing at least one Las Vegas souvenir t-shirt). She also wore a purse on one arm and a backpack on the other arm.
Yes, I laughed. The show was a comedy.
As she tried walking into the terminal, the agent commented on the number of bags she carried, as they had just offered free baggage checking due to the number of passengers. She explained, she only had three bags. He countered by pointing to each bag while he counted them aloud...ONE...TWO...THREE...FOUR...FIVE.
She sat down, re-stuffed some stuff and walked without assistance down the terminal and onto the plane.
My birthday fortune cookie message was right! Today I had the opportunity to practice not-coveting! For this to work I had to face the coveting, see it as an opportunity to not covet, and BAM - I was a not coveter! Okay, so the BAM took a minute, but that's why it's called practice.
Take it from a pecan-colored brown person, whose lineage has been thoroughly misogynated* from an unknown number of racial/ethnic angles that it is easiest to call me Afro-American, black, negro (including the "gger" version), African-American, or just girl. While such name calling will not initially anger me, it is wise to know your audience before sharing one's limited stock of descriptive words. While Mr. Bundy struggles with vocabulary he is essentially correct. "Those" people are better off having a skill that allows them to create, support and participate in a positive family environment. Of course, Mr. Bundy and I disagree over the particular kinds of skills "those" people need to possess in order to be contributing members of society capable of maintaining strong family structures.
I'm not sure where Mr. Bundy's opinion is regarding the historical role of European-Americans in slavery, but I say "those" people were not better off as slave-owners.
*misogynated is not an official accepted term; I used it to fit the mood and tone of my comment.
Click Here for the CNN story that sparked this commentary.
Cotton-pickers have been shafted by having their hard work turned into a negative historical saying that those goes something like: blah, blah, blah... "no cotton-picking sense." I don't think people who use cotton-picking negatively have ever picked cotton. While I have never picked cotton, I have been on the receiving end of a "no cotton-picking sense" statement, which seriously attacked my self-esteem.
However, this morning, I awoke with all the images and knowledge I have ever received about cotton-picking - all of which comes from movies about American slavery, history lessons, and literary readings of slave-narratives, which helped me realize... cotton was difficult work. Cotton-pickers had to use innovative workplace techniques that helped them fulfill their quotas while protecting their minds, bodies, and souls as much as possible. Dag-nabit, cotton-picking took lots of sense! Does this mean the children who pick cotton have the most sense given that they were forced pick cotton an early age?
If more people had cotton-picking sense and the ability to combine it with the resources available today, we could create a humane world (no, we don't current have one). As long as we have men, women, and mostly children somewhere picking cotton and forced into picking-cotton-like work - we truly have no sense.
An article on modern day cotton-picking Click Here
My feet were so cold, they kept me awake. The wakefulness made me think of my promise to write people cards for old fashioned mail delivery.
The memory of the self-promise directed me to the lovely set of blank note cards my colleague Christy D. gifted me with a few years ago for presenting to her class. I'm pretty sure the presentation was poetry related.
I decided the first card I should write would be a thank you to Christy. After all, I made a point of asking Ms. Brown, our department educational support staff (ESP) member, email me Christy's address on January 22, 2014. It was time I wrote the note!
Here I am post note and warmer feet. I will try sleep again.
NOTE: I thought I posted this four months ago after evaluating the scholarship letters submitted by my fall semester students. When I came looking for it to show my current students, I found it stuck in draft mode!
After evaluating these final drafts for the scholarship letter assignment, here are the top ten writing decisions I want to KILL:
1. KILL the "I feel," "I believe," and "I think" sentence starters because who cares?
2. KILL the preview sentence "There are many reasons why ...
a. I could use this scholarship
b. I deserve this scholarship
c. You should consider me for this scholarship
d. Any other phrase that reads like the three above because if you have so many reasons why you should have the scholarship, why not just pick - say, two or three, name them and write about the specific reasons that support them by using the rest of the scholarship letter to detail, explain, or illustrate (by example)?
3. KILL the "Let me tell you little about myself" and any sentence that sounds like you are putting off getting to the point
a. The audience for this type of writing expects you to tell them a little about yourself - SO - there is no need to tell them you are going to tell them about yourself
b. This kind of sentence wastes everyone's time
4. KILL the "It has always been my dream" because it is phooey-like junk talk
a. Instead approach your dream with confidence and name the DREAM! Don't turn your letter into a mystery, where the reader has no idea what your DREAM is about
b. Reconsider telling the scholarship committee that their scholarship will make the DREAM come true. They will not believe you. For most of the students I see in class, I don't believe that the average amount of a GRCC scholarship will make any of their DREAMS come true
c. Consider lower-casing the DREAM and tell the scholarship committee something concrete and real about why their scholarship will be useful for you at this point in your educational career
5. KILL the weak sentence - stop being weak! If you want to be a nurse, say so because sentences like, "One day I would like to be a nurse" are weak. This is money we are talking about - let the audience know you are definite about your educational plans and a career
a. NOTE: If you are not definite, be definite by letting your audience know you are currently exploring your educational options.
6. KILL the "pity-woe-is-me-hard-luck-I-aint-got-no-money story" in the scholarship letter.
a. How are you currently paying for your education?
b. Once you include how you are currently paying - you can explain how the scholarship can change your current payment circumstances
7. KILL the decision to ignore commenting on the kind of college student you are and your character. You need to include information about your academic behaviors in college not just high school - high school is over!
8. KILL the decision not to include information about your campus/community involvement, and time/life management struggles and skills. Talking about your community connection and ability to manage you time/responsibilities is probably a good idea
9. KILL these decisions: "Dear" is the only word you can use for the salutation line, or your name must be in the opening sentence/paragraph, or that "Sincerely" is the only word you can use for the closing line.
10. KILL the decision to ignore topic sentences, clear supporting sentences, and paragraph level transitions - these decisions are a must have for this genre of writing
From: Mursalata Muhammad <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, Feb 1, 2014 at 9:08 AM
Subject: Re: [c11 Students Open ProSem Discuss] Virtual Writing Goals February
Cc: My classmates whose names I do not have permission to post
I wrote from 7:24am - 9am EST now I'm going to the gym! I dreaded opening the comments I received on an LA to find I had let my imagination run all over the wilderness! I counted and categorized the comments -- because I'm weird and found I had…
8 good/excellent comments
1 relocate info
1 explain more
1 confusing wording
1 APA format comment
Besides the being "weird," as a composition teacher, I found it is good to SOMETIMES categorize the feedback you get because it helps you find the habits in your writing. For example, I am not a natural APA person and to find I only had one APA comment tells me I have put enough time into learning and fretting about the style. I am free to move on to other frets:)