Thursday, April 24, 2008

Somewhere in Alabama

I am made of foundry sand.
Copper tubing, sour mash.
Longhorn cattle.
Honeybees and brown bread.

I am Willie.
I am Waylon.
And the boys.

I am sweet feed and saddle leather.
I am stringed instruments and folk songs.
Broken wagon-tongues and chinaberry trees.

I am kudzu and peaches
Sunny-shady gravel roads.
Twisted blackberry thickets.

I am the patterns the sun makes winking through the trees
and curling flower spaces.
William Faulkner and Bill Monroe.

I am a red piebald pony
in a timothy field
somewhere in Alabama
somewhere tonight.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

hope for public education

I promised myself...

that I'd never be the kind of mother to post something lame like this... But COME ON! This is AWESOME.

And so is this.


Dunzo...for now

Last night, I presented my final paper for graduate seminar. It was about some of Wendell Berry's poetry and Barry Lopez's small book of stories from Field Notes.

I don't quite know how I feel about Wendell Berry now. Well, as a student, I don't have to feel much of anything, but as a reader I'm required to come up with something profound to feel about his work. I've got nothing. But, I'm afraid I don't love it anywhere near as much as I think I'm supposed to. I'm not sure we'll be reading Wendell Berry 20 years from now with the same gusto. Well, Certain Christian communities will read his work forever, I imagine. I'm absolutely astonished how much his philosophies have shaped some churches. Wow. The First Church of Wendell Berry. I'm not sure I want a part of that. One of the papers last night was about the Buddhist themes of his Sabbath poems. It was very interesting. You can make a very strong case that he's a Buddhist and not a Christian after all. (I don't know what he is.)

As I drove away past Flower Hill and the ancient oaks, past the crickets that make the quintessential sound of summertime, past the little houses and fields I realized how I've come to love this place and how it has come to love me. It means more to me than a graduate degree. It means redemption and hope and the chance to prove to myself that I'm not as stupid as I've been told. As I write this, I realize that it's been a long time since anyone made me feel stupid. And that's progress.

I'm proud of myself. This semester was hard. I never would have imagined how hard. But, I did it. And I'm thankful. It is, as my friend Amy would say, a B.F.D. for me.

I realize that the person who left class last night in my body, even though I'm registered to come back in the fall, won't be the person who comes back. It's a sad and a happy thought. I'm not my own anymore. My vision of how being a graduate student would be has been drastically altered. I'm grateful and excited and nostalgic for what might have been. I think that nostalgia comes from not fully understanding what will be.

So, for now, I'm home. I'm going to finish (or start) getting the little room cleaned up and ready. I'm going to cook. I'm going to walk the dog. I'm going to read what I want to read and I'm going to go to church. I'm going to garden and plant tomatoes. And I'm going to wait.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Perfect Anniversiary Present...

Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice Futures!

With as much orange juice as I've been drinking lately (seriously, I get up in the middle of the night to drink orange juice) I can bring them up a few ticks all by myself.

Maybe next year I can get porkbellies or soybeans.

(Just for someone out there who may care what I want for my anniversary....)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bad Person.

I just heard someone describe her husband as her "Faithful Leader."

When D. comes home tonight, I'm going to put on an apron meet him at the door and say "Hello Faithful Leader. How was your day?" and see if he gets back in the car and goes back to work.

He'll think a Zombie ate my brain.

I. Hate. Money.

I hate earning it. (Not that I've done that for awhile.) I hate not earning it. I hate spending it. I hate saving it. I hate wasting it. I hate keeping up with the ways we haven't wasted it. I hate having the stuff it buys. I hate not having the stuff it buys. I hate how anxious it makes me. I hate how obsessed people are with it and how they use it to measure their worth. I hate the bank. I hate cash. I hate my checkbook. I hate my credit card. I hate my mortgage. (I love my house.) I hate all of my bills. I hate the stupid budget software. I hate the budget. I hate not having the budget.

I hate money. I hate money more than I've ever hated anything else. And having experienced both from time to time, I can honestly say that I hate the having as much as the having-not.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Education, Smeducation

I don't have time to write this post. I've got my final research papers due this week and a research presentation to complete by tomorrow night. This is some very important work for me because it will be the last time I have an opportunity to be in school until after I finish the "project" I'm hoping to complete this summer. (The "project," by the way, is giving me heartburn and very much joy.)

When I was a child, I attended a very conservative Christian school for about 9 years. It was a difficult experience in many ways, not the least of these was that I was constantly made to attend to matters of Theological Importance often presented in inept and unkind ways. Honest debate between teacher and student was prohibited in most cases, and to attempt to engage in such debate was a punishable offense in many others. The teachers, you see, having adult brains with which to engage those of children, can easily nail you for such nebulous infractions as having a "bad attitude" or being "disrespectful." I, having been punished for each of these crimes at one time or another, have come to realize that they each boil down to asking questions. But you can't exactly punish a kid for asking a question in school now can you? (Or, can you? Insert sinister snicker here.)

Surprisingly, many of the students to be extruded from this sausage factory of education came out pretty well. Not surprisingly, many of the ones who appear to be doing pretty well are actually pretty damaged. Especially the ones who don't think so.

I don't usually think about this experience too much, but I'm recently reminded of how narrow the margins of "acceptable thought" can be in some Christian communities. Especially educational communities. I am dismayed that some institutions still don't allow honest questions. I am dismayed that the Christian educational community which was, let's face it, the Mother of All Educational Communities can be so, well, un-educational.

I don't even know what to say about this as I face the daunting fact that the educational choices we can pursue for our "project" are going to be limited to Dogmatic Christian Fascism and Radically Leftist Socialism. And that's if we're lucky enough to be able to pay for them. If we aren't, we'll always be able to turn to those schools run by the Federal No Child Left Behind Act. And that doesn't seem like a good choice either.

I am dismayed. Maybe I'll just buy myself a denim jumper and some Keds and do the job myself.

Nah. That's not going to happen either.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Orthodox Football

I saw the priest from the Orthodox parish down the street playing football with some children in the yard beside the church. Father! Father! Over here! Father! Look at me, Father! I'm open! His unruly vestments flapped joyfully behind him as he avoided the tackles of a dozen small hands and ran in a touchdown. I felt the laughter of Jesus resounding through the city, bouncing off the hospital, down the streets of the housing projects, across the Interstate, into the heart of God.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Pippa Passes

The wisteria vines have exploded in the neighborhood in a profusion of senseless, lavish and wasteful beauty.

The rain has redeemed the world making all nature rupture in a riot of green.

The birds and the animals know the gift and sing to God.

The human-neighbors delight at a wet spring and the promise of summer's bounty unspoiled by drought.

The girl-child jumps at the sound of her father's voice.

The mother with the empty head waits eagerly to learn what it is she doesn't yet know she doesn't know.

God is in his heaven, all's right with the world.

Except for isn't.

But hope shines out like the first morning.