Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Measurements -- Revised

Today, I left work after an hour of professional development (a series of classes run by one of the school's literacy coaches, math coaches or assistant principals) with a colleague that is 10 years younger than me. And that is cool. We got onto the train and he gave me a much clearer landscape to contemplate.

He knew the former profession of some of the other male teachers. There are only 5 in the whole school. The most organic of us used to be involved in heavy industry, building parts for large engineering feats, like damns and generators. He is very cool.

To hear this story from my colleague was a glimmer of hope concerning the types of conversations I could have with my colleagues, but also showed astuteness of the young 20-something. Sometimes I wonder what the ultimate end is to such astute observations. In America, I believe it is marginalization. You have to somehow buy into the consumerist ideology to benefit from it, or just sit on the sidelines. You gotta be in it to win it, that is for sure.

"He is a blue collar worker, so he comes in does his work and goes" the young teacher said.

I need to learn to take teaching in this manner, despite the age of the students, the level of the students, or the subject matter. And for a moment I had a flashback to some crazy discussion with academics and bibliophiles concerning that certain other "other" -- the worker.

I guess the tyranny of the well intentioned missionary -- may they be actual religious zealots or actual Marxist zealots -- never dies with white folk. The program I entered has a modus operandi and under-pinning that is the same as the Peace Corp in Africa except it is aimed at the inner city. And I guess in our quest to assimilate into the folds of American society, some of us black folk have replaced our own corneas with theirs. And in their quest to help, some liberal white folk can not forgive us for being successful or not falling into their idea of what collards/coloreds should be. In other words, to help is to be a black missionary in the great sea of white missionaries that have helped other minorities assimilate into American society. But to say that you don't need their help places everything on edge.

I wonder how long it will be before I see clearly. I am the only black male teacher in the school. I was the only black male in my publishing office 10 years ago. It just seems to be fate in someway.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Beyond the Blog


I have had a total change in latitude over the last couple of months. I now work in the South Bronx as an educator working specifically with the Latino and West African communities.

So, on top of the culture shock, the mistaken identities (a couple of people have called me Habibi in the bodegas that I have thought were Spanish, at other places people have not bothered to stop speaking Spanish to me), the graduate work (it is turning out to be a lot of busy work, observations, and self-reflecting . . . who knew that a formal education as a pedagogue would turn into a deep Freudian/Saussurean examination of self and signs) and moments of sheer exhaustion I have not been able to write a descent blog entry. In fact, I feel like my blogging brain cells have been rearranged yet again. I find myself asking the man in the mirror "What is blogging?" and "Are you a writer or an educator or a linguist?" Each time the clock is ticking very loudly and I have very little time to answer my own questions.

The other problem with my blogging is that I am too busy critiquing my own teaching style, or observations concerning a gigantic administration, that I have very little energy to switch voices and talk about all the other things that come and go in my life. Add in not having a computer, and navigating our country's medical system with a chronic disease and it is amazing that I have a second in my mind to write these lines.

So, let this be the announcement that I am back to talk about this stupid campaign schedule that has all the talking heads going crazy, but not much of anyone else in my circles. But damn, Obama has some big balls, he is going after Hillary like a preying mantis. Let this be the announcement that I am back to talk about Heroes, The Ultimate Fighter and Project Runway. Let this be the announcement that I am back to talk about my fight to conquer my bills, act like I am grown, get interested in the plight of (fill in the blank), and finish some work that I started.

First step. French tutor.
It happens once a week for 2 hours.
I forgot how complicated the verbs can really be.
It has never been more apparent that "tenses" and not just "words" can have different meanings too.

I have many blogs to catch up on concerning reading.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

On the Contemplation of a Watermelon Caipirinha and a Brioche Recipe I Do Not Have Time to Make

I have been so busy starting up my new gig that I have been unable to post. My thoughts are always elsewhere. Sometimes on a morsel of a larger fiction that I am contemplating; or, in joyous spurts, the fiction of my life; or, when I am feeling a little overwhelmed or just down, the realities of my life, which glare at me from every window of the 5 train. They mingle in the sunlight when I am above ground.

Funny, all thoughts abandon me at the Gunhill station as I make my way to Bainbridge.

Now, the reality of life is rising at 4:30 am to be at work by 8:00 am. We won't even talk about night school and the second job.

So, again I am forced to give a video. A favorite. It is from the Geiko commercial. I think the band is from Norway. I got a post today by the way from a friend who is a music producer. He is working in Sweden for a month.

That will be me again.


One day soon.

Till then.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

I have to work this weekend. But there are parties on the horizon (Labor Day Weekend is the second New Year's Eve Party for those in academia), plus a Harlem apartment is in my sights. I guess the Bronx will have to wait for now.

But I found this article in The New York Times today. I guess Condoleeza Rice and Peas will have to look for a position elsewhere after her tenure as Secretary of State is up. Maybe she could do the MLA Conference in November.

"Reading Bush Foreign Policy as Post-Post Modern Literature"

What other courses could she teach?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Saudade Revisited

Cero commented on my Saudade comments found on Beached Bones. I am printing my response here.

Nostalgia that is the word! But that word does not translate now does it. The whole problem is that Saudade, as a state of being, is the substantive representation of ‘an act’ in the continuous tense by implication, not to mention it is “sweet” by connotation.

Saudade is a state that is far more ethereal than Nostalgic or Nostalgia, which are both more concrete. You can buy Nostalgia in a Time Life Series of CD's at 3:30 in the a.m., or even eat it at Crackle Barrel at lunch time (I interviewed with their corporate representative at a job fair once. It was crazy. All the companies in Nashville just examined me, one Christian publisher asked for my pastor’s name, another Christian publisher’s human resource person just held in a giggle when I showed her my resume . . . but I digress).

Nostalgia is not an individual experience; we can all experience it in someway.

I do not know Portuguese very well, but saudade is an important word no? That is the problem I think I have with cross-cultural studies -- without a certain linguistic mastery, things kind of fall to pot . . . in a certain genteel and polite Afro-dandy way.

But yes, Saudade leading into a discussion of Nostalgia and the Post-Modern is very interesting. I am going to come back to you on that. I have a problem with the absolutism of the Post-Modern theorist in practice; no holes are allowed to be punched, so I think I cut myself off from many useful ideas in the end. And in the end, I have cut myself off from ever really feeling comfortable enough to finish a doctorate based on theoretical methods. I have been looking for a safe strait in navigating that ocean.

Damn! I used the word “useful” in that jargonized way. I vowed never to do that in writing after I finished my first MA.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Second Chances

The picture above is of Ganymede. Ganymede is the "water bearer" other wise known as Aquarius in the Zodiac. He was seduced by Zeus and made the chef attendent to the king of the gods. It is my sign.

There is a movie called Second Chances that deals with race and religion in a very interesting way. OK. Maybe not that interesting. I just know of the director from childhood and my mom plays bridge with his aunt.

I liked the film staring and directed by Jeff Carr. In some odd way, I think I am going through the same sort of wave of second chances. I think it was that sentence "Report to the Bursar's office, pick up your bill, get it validated and . . . "

Hell, I have not heard that sentence in 14 years. Two phases of seven, a cycle is repeating and resetting and repeating again,. . . and I am spinning out of my Saturn Return . . . only to return to 1993 . . . no, make that 1992. Interesting.

To be a student, in America, like this again.

Friday, August 17, 2007

And Now a Message from Our Sponsors . . .

Per Ms. E and Malaika Adero. I think you should check it out.
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