Thursday, January 29, 2009

A beam of Hope

One moment in music history.....damn that's a tough one. Going through my head and thinking about my favorite musicians or venues I seem to have a re-occurring vision. Its me, with flowing golden hair down to my shoulders, shirtless, elbow-to-elbow in a sea of 400,00 people in the town of Bethel New York on Sunday, August 17th, 1969. The occasion? Woodstock. The particular moment? Gypsy Sun and The Rainbows playing our national tune. English please...? Jimi Hendrix playing the Star Spangled Banner on his guitar while almost half a million people stood in wonder. I chose this moment, A, because i believe Jimi Hendrix was one of the most influential musicians to set foot on this planet, B, because its Woodstock, C, because its Woodstock, and D, because this concert took place at a time when America was in disallusion. Our war in Vietman was beginning to turn against the country and people were losing faith in a Government that sent its troops to foriegn lands to fight for foriegn causes. This unbelievable rendition of our national anthem to me proves to be a shinning hope in the belief that no matter what race, national crisis, or wartime problems seem to be happening, we as americans can find a common bond through the beauty of music.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Polla Te Deina"-Many Wonders, Many Terrors.

The souls of my New Balances squeaked upon the speckled linoleum floor as the door clicked shut behind me. Taking a moment, as I usually do every morning to survey the classroom; I found everything to be perfectly in order. The large rectangular room sustained geometrically sound formations of desks that stood barely at my hip, each with their colored-penciled name tags basking in the sun's rays. The walls, filled with colorful posters of whales and cursive techniques created an ambiance which in my opinion served as an aphrodesiac for knowledge.
Finally I strolled up to my desk. My fingers massaged my chin as I breathed in the sublimity of a quiet classroom. My desk, set at the head of the class was a gift given to me by a esteemed colleague who left the school a few years back. The day he was leaving, I came back from the teachers lounge to find this beautifully shaped piece of mahogany asserting its dominance over the rest of the trembling little desks. As I marveled at the parallel dark lines that striped the wood as if it were a Tiger, my eyes averted to a sticky-note which was posted on the crown of my computer. As I read the note my eyes ignited with passion and excitement, I FORGOT!!! today would be a great day!! Today was SHOW-AND-TELL DAY!!!
With my coffee perched under my nose, I flipped through the days agenda. 8 am-Cursive. 9 am-Arithmetic. 10 am-snack time. 11 am-nap time (I learned a little secret in the beginning of my teaching career always to place sleeping after apple juice and graham crackers). And finally 12 am-Show-and-Tell.
The morning seemed to pass in slow motion. Cursive which is usually the highlight of the morning for me seemed dull and tasteless. Jim, an intelligent red-haired young boy who is usually very good at cursive, spent the morning drawing a medieval stick figure battle in where the final scene depicted the mighty knight tearing the legs off of the then king. Finding the drawing and feeling somewhat estranged from the vivid violence depicted, I asked little Jimmy why he had drawn the battle. "Im preparing...." were the words that sprang from his baby tooth filled mouth. I sat for a moment in thought...."ahhhh I and tell." Jimmy shot me a quick banevolent smirk then returned diligently to his lower case F's.
Finally the moment of the day had arrived. "Gather around little ones, its time for Show-and-Tell!" Applause and laughter erupted from the crowd of half-links as the children frantically pulled items out of their desks and sprinted to the front of the room. We conformed to a ritualistic circle under the front blackboard, each child diligently sitting cross-legged and crazy-eyed ready for the festivities to spark. "Ill go first to break the ice." I reached in my pocket and pulled out a miniture sized golden trident. "ooohhhhh" reverberated from the crowd as i held up the pen sized object and twisted it between my thumb and pointer finger for everyone to see. "cool huh?!" i said, "does anyone know why i would bring this little golden fork to class?" Perplexity ambushed the little ones...a long pause broken by "because its show and tell day?" "CORRECT!!!" i roared. "i found it in my junk drawer, its shiny and cool looking, so i thought you all would like it!" i passed the fork around with multiple warnings to various students not to place the fork in or around their mouth or to attempt to prod any other classmate with it.
"Katy, your next." Katy, one of my favorite students, had, in my opinion, one hell of an imagination. sometimes i wondered if the drawings that she brought to show and tell were actually her ideas; or if they were product of some demonic entity that haunted this poor girls dreams. Katy reached into her folder and pulled out a recent sketch of hers. "Dear god"...the words barely made it out my mouth. In front of me sat a crayonic image of pure imagination mixed with some awful unknown force. A red saturn car was plowing through a field of children and pregnant women, leaving behind a wake of carnage and bloodshed. My mouth was wide open, you could have landed a 747 in there; but something inside me wanted to learn more about this horrid picture. "cool" and "awesome" were echoes that rang in my ears from fellow students, but i was not concerned with the mature content level or the blatant violence within this picture. i wanted to hear what she had to say. "Well lets see hewe. Dis is my mommies caw...its wed. Dis is my bruder undow da front of da caw and dis is ma udda bruder undow da back of da caw...". I stared in fear. I stared paralyzed by this image which was now burned into my retinas perminetly....holy shit. How could this 9-year old girl draw a picture of her mom plowing her mid-sized sedan through her own family? Why would she draw this? I realized then that i had been staring blankely at the picture while all the kids had been staring at me, and i snapped out of the trance. "sorry about that kids, Katy, please see me after class." Katy neatly placed the picture back in her folder and drew her attention attently to Kyle who was next in line. "Kyle buddy, your up." As soon as those words filled the air Kyle shot up reminicent of a spaceship leaving the earths atmosphere. Pure adrenaline flowed through his tiny body and the kid went from being half-asleep listening to Katy, to basically smoking a bunch of crack and going crazy. "Alright Kyle, calm yourself. What have you got to share?" "OOOHH OOOOHHHHH!!!! when i was wittle my mommy said she was dunk and dwopped me on my head!!" dear god i thought to myself as Kyle bent over frantically while parting his hair, excavating through his thick mop to reveal a scar that was about 2 inches long. "ooooohhhh" echoed from the crowd once more. "very cool kyle" i said, now sit down. kyle with a smile about as big as his head careened down to the classroom floor. "Danny, your next." A quiet shy boy with unprecedented self-reliance, Danny was a personal favorite of mine. He had the ability to make you smile when you least expected it. "I was goin to show u my plado.......but i ade it" were the words Danny announced as he sat back down. "Alllrrriight" I said as i re-adjusted my position to stretch out my knees. The rest of Show-and-Tell passed entirely too quickly for me to tell you what actually happened. Someone brought their blankie, another toted a doll, and the big finale was a box of colored pencils that were all the same color.
Before I knew it, the afternoon room was empty and the verberations of childrens voices had left my ear for one more night. I asked Katy on the way out how she thought of that picture she drew, and if she thought it was appropriate to bring it to class. The small girl contested with an answer that was borderline religious. " I dont kno wheya dis idea came fwom, but wheneva i feew happy or angwy i dwa wat i feew. I didnt mean fow it to be scawy o bawd, i just wanted udda peopo to feeo wat i feeo." I let Katy go but held onto the picture with the intent of unveiling it at parent teacher conferences, which i most certainly will. I dont know how such a young and beautiful girl could have such awful images in her head, and the more i fought with the problem the closer it pushed me towards myself. I remembered when i was in school. In college, I had this proffesor who daily had the capacity to enthrall me with the most random and arcane facts and stories about the past world. I thought of how with the simple use of objects or paintings, or pictures, one could delve down into a deeper meaning. I thought of katy, how this picture could be a proclimation of evil in her life. Maybe she was trying to show me something, mabye she wanted my help? Maybe she didnt. Maybe the drawings were just drawings. Ultimately I believe, some things in life have to remain a mystery in order for ourselves to solve our personal mysteries.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Bunnie of my eternity.

Every so often once the dark shadow of my past sets its hand upon my shoulder, few memories prove invaluable, mmmm maybe even life saving. Yesterday i felt the hand of my shadow, it was cold. Driving my car down Willson ave. pondering the timeless mystery of the skies pigment when all of a sudden felt a rumble from under my right front wheel. As the trees passed in my side-view mirrors the horror of my folly had come full-swing. There in the middle of the street i watched the leg twitch of a flat, cute, fuzzy little pancake of joy that i had just smothered with my tire.WHY GOD WHY?!?! yes it was a rabbit. yes i had just killed it. great. as i watched its last little flint of energy kick out of its quivering leg, my shadow grabbed ahold. ( a harp plays and my vision ripples...)

The warm glow of my bedside lamp illuminates the room around me. I am nine years old, fresh out of the fifth grade and hungry for more. I sat on the edge of my bed, mentally preparing for the strenuous test that lay ahead, the test of summer camp. The light of the room created a warm blanket to comfort my fears and one simple creature which lay cupped in my arms expressed enough love and confidence in me to fill my heart with infinite joy. his name....Rudolph, his earthly form, a bunnie. I found rudolph with his head stuck under our air conditioner about 3 weeks prior to my departure and took it upon myself to become the little guys least i think he was a guy. As the sun passed over head, the days were spent frolicking in the yard with my new best friend. I would teach him how to jump really high, or run away from me quickly; while he showed me the simply beauty of nibbling grass or basically just doing nothing but staring back at me. God he was so wise! Rudolph to me represented a gate into the unknown, a chance for me to explore the spiritual undercurrent of a world which i was still learning about...
Back in my room, a tear leaped from my eyelash to splatter upon rudolphs gray mis-shaped head. "why must i go?" i said. "I want to stay here with you forever." Rudolph with a rather annoyed stare now that i reflect on it, gave me a sign which i will never forget. At that moment Rudolph leaped from my arms and sailed throw the air as does a hawk riding the thermals over the ridgeline of the bridgers. Upon hitting the ground rudolph sprang with lightning quickness straight into a wall; adjusted himeslf, then shot out of my room. NOOOOO!!!!RUDOLPH!!!!!! i searched every square inch of that house and did not find my beloved friend. i left for camp....depressed, would be the better word. why had this happened to me? why would such a close and personal friend feel the need to tear my heart out of my chest and nibble it to peices?! what a jerk. my sorrow soon morphed to rage. screw rudolph, he was an idiot anyways! at camp i lost rudolph to new experiences and friends made through a summer filled with adventure. When i came home, i thought of rudolph almost instantly. was he still here? my mother had informed me that rudolph had nibbled through our fuse box while i was gone and shut off power to the house and electricuted himself in the process. that crazy rabbit i thought, always getting into of present reality returns.......

"GET OUT OF THE FRIGGIN STREET YOU CRAZY ASSHOLE!!" this fuzzy little pancake lay at my feet. i didnt even pull my car over to the side of the road, i just parked it right in the middle. traffic was at a standstill. car horns filled the autum air. "Rudolph..." i whispered to myself, "what have i done?" "GET OUT OF THE GOD DAMN STREET!!!!" i drove away. i shouldnt have left him there all alone....and flat. I thought of my classical foundations of literature class, we talked about jesus being a bunny. great...i killed jesus.