Wednesday, April 25, 2007

...and the past predicted this...

The last book we are reading for the school year is Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. I have whined and complained, but I finished all 500 pages of redundant chapters about dust and sun and poverty. With every book this year, I've walked away respecting the work and what the author achieves whether I've actually enjoyed reading it or not. I always ask the kids if the book is still important/ relevant today and I thought I understood why GOW is. If you've never read the book, it follows a family to California as they travel looking for work as banks take over everyone's land and drive them into absolute poverty. The book is following migrant workers, so naturally I related the work to how we treat immigrants from Mexico. There is a chapter where the rich men are judging the "Okies" who've come to California and say about them: "They ain't human. A human being wouldn't live like they do. A human being couldn't stand to be so dirty and miserable. They ain't a hell of a lot better than gorillas..." It made me think for a brief second that I shouldn't judge so harshly these people, but it did not stop me from calling Amador this week to mow my lawn for cheap.

However, the book made even more sense for me as I was watching the American Idol Gives Back results show. Sounds a little ridiculous, but stick with me. I was a little agitated that they were focused on all these kids in Africa because the rate of poverty for children in the US is insane, but then I saw the part where Randy Jackson went to New Orleans. I am from Baton Rouge and when I hear anyone from Louisiana speak, black-white-cajun-whatever, I can always close my eyes and hear a little bit of home. It makes it that much harder when I watch stuff about Katrina, which I've been obsessed with since it happened. Anyways, Randy showed the FEMA trailer park with clean rows, one after another after infinite other, of white trailers and the kids playing in the shell of what used to be the community center and it all made sense to me. History repeats itself over and over and books are here to remind us of that. Flickr is misbehaving or I would show you, but the FEMA camp is an exact replica of the government camps like Weedpatch where migrant farmers back in the days lived. The reason that's important is that we still haven't learned our lesson or made progress. One would think in this day and age that a nation wouldn't allow its own people to live in the squalor some of them do, but as it was then, as it is now, as it was in Orwell's 1984, the upper class needs a worker class to survive, they can't allow them to improve their lives lest they gain too much power and the upper becomes the worker class, and most importantly human life is still not appreciated or valued. The upper class is vying for the money and will do whatever it takes to get it.

Sorry for the rant, but before my life goes to "A,B,C and 1,2,3" I should get some thoughts out while I still have them. All the novels I've read recently that deal with these social inequities emphasize that if these lower classes would unite and have a mentality of we instead of me, that by speaking in that one voice, changes can be demanded and will be provided. That's the same reasoning I've had for wanting to give up on politics, all of it. The me's have it, they own it, and there is little to be done about it. So my challenge to myself is to figure out how I can make a difference in my own way. How does one person make a difference?

Monday, April 16, 2007

i may have predicted the future...

i don't want to trivialize the goings on at virginia tech college today because that is absolutely tragic and those people are all in my thoughts, but coincidentally i had a school shooting dream saturday morning and the timing was a little creepy. definitely has me paying a little closer attention.

i have incredibly vivid dreams and this one was pretty darn intense. this weekend, i was in austin chaperoning a conference for the kids, so i did tell my roomie teacher about it saturday morning and i told my kids in first period before this all happened. in conclusion, not making it up.

in my dream, i was teaching a class and the kids were being disruptive. senioritis has totally set in, and in real life one of my girls who has been goody goody great all year has been sliding into crabby complainer cathy mode. in the dream she was doing it again:

me: "cathy, i need you to stop complaining and pay attention."
cathy: "i don't think i am going to be able to do that."
me: "if you don't stop talking, i am going to have to call for the asst principal."
cathy: "well i guess you are going to have to call for the asst principal."

each of the classrooms has a little panic button you can push for the ap's to come, and in the dream i push it and go back to teaching. when the door opens i casually look up expecting to see a puffy middle aged administrator in a tie and instead feel my bowels turn to ice as i take in the sight of two young men with machine guns. i drop to my stomach and as i repeat in my mind the act of contrition over and over like any recovering catholic schoolgirl in crisis ("oh my god i am heartily sorry, oh my god i am heartily sorry"), the boys enter.

in that moment i realize that the things that seemed so important minutes before meant absolutely nothing. my life is literally flashing before my eyes and i let the sound of repetitious prayer in my mind try to drown out the sounds of kids trying to scurry out behind the armed men and the squeals of terror fade as they escape. i am scared, terrified, but what is the point of indulging that? what will be, will be. the armed men appear to have their weapons drawn specifically to a small group of three and one of my students is trying to negotiate a peaceful end. i hear bits and pieces as i desperately pray. i am not praying for life because i've already accepted in those moments that my life is over and hopefully quickly and mercifully. faced with the afterlife i am depending on the little bit of religion that i know to attempt to avoid fire and brimstone. i am not sure what lies on the otherside, but just in case...i pray and i pray and i pray.

you know how you supposedly can't die in your dreams? i have before and lived to tell the tale, but when i tried to stay in the dream and not wake up so i could see what happened i just couldn't do it. for some reason, i am fairly certain i was going to die in it. i woke up at 5:35 a.m. in that hotel room in austin with my heart thudding heavily and a feeling of dread running through my body. schools are a scary place, the world is a scary place. i had that feeling saturday morning and when i glanced up at a television set this afternoon in the teacher's lounge, i had that feeling reinforced. those people are all in my thoughts...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

No talent hacks

What is up with American Idol and the no talent hacks that keep making it through? I think I get the Sanjaya Malakar thing, people have latched on to a cause and they want to mock the system and let his little sissy bird voice be heard week after week, but Haley Scarnato? Every week the best the judges can say is "Nice tits" and still. I guess Gina Glocksen should've spent less time practicing her song and more time adding those little chicken cutlets to her bra because that seems to be how America is voting.

Here's a pic from the first time I noticed that Haley had realized that her only hot commodity was her booty... heaven knows I wear itty bitty shorts with heels all the freakin time. That's all for now. Just needed to vent.


Bye, Gina. I wasn't ever going to vote for you, but at least you can sing. But the tongue ring is like ten years ago. It is hard to be a rebel when every sixteen year old has beat you to the punch. Be a rebel and wear full clown makeup, I'd vote for that. Just don't be creepy like Anna Nicole in that video, bleh