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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What The Market Will Bear (A Rant)

Why is Michael Vick worth 10 mil a year?

And I am only worth 5 figures (and low ones at that)?

Why does he have even the remotest possibility of working again in his field?

And even if he is not rehired by the NFL - he's made a fortune (if he managed it correctly) and needn't work at all. But he will no doubt work at something. He'll make tons of dough. He'll peddle his story; he'll crop up on talk shows and as some sort of "expert." He may even play the mea culpa game and become the new darling of the masses.

Yet I worry that due to budget cuts, I may not get all my classes in the fall - thus reducing my income (and potentially eliminating my health benefits).

Why is that?

It's what the market will bear. Capitalism tells us that an athlete, even a tarnished athlete,is worth far, far more than a teacher.

What does that tell us about capitalism? Our value system?

I was at my family's reunion over the weekend, and once again had to listen to one family member knock my profession.

I hear this all the time: You knew it was a low-paying job when you took it. If you're stupid enough to do that job for that kind of money -then that's what you deserve.

And what if I, and others like me, took our brains (for yes, we are the intellectually elite) and our education (yes, we are highly educated) and left academia. What if we walked out full force - all of us - from K-12 and through the postsecondary ed system - just walked out?

Who would teach the nurses? The politicians? The other teachers? The business moguls? The administrative assistants? The government workers? The market analysts? The stock brokers? The mortgage brokers? The business managers?

And don't tell me that clearly, we did a lousy job educating some of those folks (just look at the mess we're in now, you'll say - didn't educators educate the people who caused this mess?). We don't teach morals and values (contrary to what the far-right seems to think - that we do teach such things and of course teach the WRONG ones). I teach my students to think, to examine, to explore -and come to their own decisions. Some of them do well with that; others ... turn into scumbags. But they were really scumbags before they walked through the door of my classroom.

What would the city, county, state, country do if all the underpaid and under-valued educators walked out?

Where would your capitalist and what-the-market-will-bear attitude be then?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Toque aqui para abierto la puerta.

Touch here to open door.

Door. Door. I read somewhere that door is one of the prettiest words in the English language. Door. What makes door so pretty? Door. The consonant is not really hard – though we think of d as a hard consonant – but neither is it soft. The two o’s in a row make a soothing sound. Door. Your tongue lightly presses, just the slightest touch – against the back of your front upper teeth and then retreats easily as your mouth opens slightly, almost as though your lips were ready to kiss the r of door goodbye as it slips out the threshold of your mouth, past the sweet doors that are your lips. Door.

Doors swing open. Doors slam shut. Close the door. Shut the door. Slam the door. Oh, the meanness, the pettiness, the violence of doors. A door’s thickness, wideness, heaviness, slams in your face, shutting you out, or shutting you in. What’s so pretty about that?

Doors are portals, entryways. But to what? You walk through them. Sometimes you run into them. Sometimes they open wide, welcoming, come in, come in the door seems to say. Come in to home and hearth. To warmth, light, hot soup and tea. To family. To love. Come in. Come in. I have a door in my body. We all have doors in our bodies – many doors to our bodies. Who do we let in through the doors of our bodies? Who comes into my body and through what door? How do you come to be inside me? Through what door? And what doors lock you out? Lock me in?

Locks. Now that’s something else. Lock is not a pretty word, though it starts off with an inviting lull. Lock. A strong word, a startling word. A word that carries weight.
L O CK. The c and k together carry the weight of the word, carry the weight at the end, create a sharp, but not high or tinny weight – sharp like a heavy butcher knife that comes down with a hard slam. Ah, so locks, like doors, can slam shut. Slam into you. Slam you out. LOCK. Lock is not a pretty word unless you spell it l o c h and then that means something quite different. A body of water, a lake. Maybe with a monster in it, but still pretty. Green-blue water on the surface, surrounded by emerald hills and grey skies hanging overhead, reaching down to touch the loch, make love to the loch, smother it in affection. Or neglect.

How can a body of water with a monster in it be pretty? What’s so pretty about a monster?

Who has the key to the loch? Does the monster have this key?

The man next to me sighs heavily (yet in some ways softly – if it wasn’t so quiet in here you wouldn’t think he had sighed heavily, you would think he had sighed softly). He is sighing as he writes, as he works on his novel. What has made him sigh? What part of his work has caused him to open the door of his sigh, the door of his chest and throat and larynx and let that soft sigh that sits so heavily come out and rest like a pudgy hand on my shoulder, on my ear lobe, in my brain? He sighs again. Does he know that he has become the subject of my forced write? He can’t read what I’m writing – he is about four feet away and focused on his own laptop, the screen with words across them – his screen doesn’t move. He is too busy sighing. Something must be wrong. Perhaps the protaganist in his novel is not behaving himself properly – perhaps going places and doing things he doesn’t like, doesn’t want the character to do. Perhaps he has lost control of his plot. Perhaps there’s a dog running down the streets of his novel, running amuck with a bone in its mouth – a bone that is really the rolled up wads of discarded proofs, discarded drafts that the man next to me rejected as not good enough, not witty enough, not compelling enough, not chiseled enough in syntax or perhaps just plain boring in range of events and scope of narrative. Poor fellow, no wonder he is sighing. If a dog ran through my work right now and dug into my wastebasket and came back with my garbage writing and somehow leaked it into my latest draft, I would sigh too.

But I don’t have that problem because I am not working on a draft. I am just writing. Just following the thread.

How did this all get started with the bus? With the words on the back-of-the-bus doors.

Toque aqui para abierto la puerta. Touch here to open door.

Compliments of last night's SUAW (Shut Up and Write) session.