Friday, July 22, 2011

Be Here Now

     Lucy wrote a blog post a few days ago for the EUIP blog about the Hollywood House mantra for the year: "Be Here Now."  And with less than a month left in LA, it seems more appropriate than ever to keep reminding ourselves what this year was, no IS, about.

     But it's difficult when you're in the middle of a transitional year not to think about where your life is headed.  Isn't that exactly part of why we all signed up for this year anyway?  A year of discernment, questioning, figuring it all out.  However, given a variety of factors that I'm not sure anyone saw coming, the program year didn't play out in the way a lot of people expected.  I can't speak for all the houses, but in Hollywood, from Day 1 everyone's schedules were jam-packed (shocker, living in LA), for the greater part of the year roommate-time was down to about two exhausted waking hours a day if we all ended up at home in the evenings, and weeks flew by with little sign of a reprieve. 
    Toward the spring, everyone started to worry, sometimes visibly, about what the coming months, and years, might hold.  We were all making plans and decisions, and not just about whether or not to head to the beach over the weekend (let's be honest, that was never really a question for us anyway), I'm talking big life-changing decisions, the kind that after they're made you feel a thousand times lighter, as though you might just float away. 
     And THAT'S when the "Be Here Now" mantra came in handy for me.  I've had a million (only a slight exaggeration) decisions to make in the last few months, most of which drew the greater part of my thoughts, dreams, and hopes away from the West Coast.  (I'll be moving to DC in less than a month to start a graduate program.)  And this thing that we keep saying to ourselves in Hollywood, be here now, has been one of the ways that I keep reminding myself to stay engaged and connected to the community I have here, to this place I've recently started catching myself referring to as home. 
    Despite the schedules and the seemingly nonexistent time to figure our lives out, discernment, and eventually decisions, bubbled up through every empty space in our go, go, go Hollywood lifestyles.  And now that most of those decisions are made and we can all float away if we so choose, I know my Hollywood girls will continue to live out and into our community, to be here now.

Monday, June 6, 2011


     I've decided that I'm going to take over Twitter.  With no ill intention, of course.  On the contrary, my conquest has a benevolent purpose.  After initially remaining mostly silent on issues connected with Twitter, I've decided that NOT to use it is almost as (or potentially more?) unhelpful to the values to which I cling so dearly - namely human dignity and social justice - than to jump on the proverbial bandwagon.  Twitter is, after all, a platform - to be used however we see fit.
     Thus far it has been used largely to perpetuate a fabricated sense of celebrity, or to practice a dry and stultified sort of wit in response to the many absurdities of American mass culture.  What if, however, we use it to promote worthy causes?  Can we use it to redefine a generation?  I think it just might be possible.  So I'll be tweeting about community service, social justice, and hope.
#heresanidea #shakethedust #americanrevivalproject #generationserve

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cities That Speak

Sometimes I sigh and simultaneously hear the tired murmurs of the blood in my veins softly whispering of my yesterhood years when I rested feet dangling along the banks of the Allegheny or of the Ohio - rivers who in turn whispered back to me of their yesterhood years when steel and whiskey flowed freely down on toward the great mouth of America. Pittsburgh, the work of your hands and of your heart has flooded this nation, and your mighty struggle to reinvent yourself breathes hope back into the land.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dreams of America

America, you land of dreams and hope and wishes and destiny manifest in all the rocks and mountains and rivers, you have failed your aching children.  Bullets ring inside our brains and it is heavy.  We are all left behind these days, running to catch up to the rest of the world.  Which of your people will courageously step forward?  Can we save you, America, land of dreams?  Land of the free – to what?  Free to speak words of hate.  Stay out, intruders.  This is my land.  It is not yours. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Backyard Poetry

Tomorrow I’ll Remember

These days I do not hear the poetry
Laughing in the spaces between my ears.
I sit at night, listening patiently,
And hear the musty house settle and creak
In its old foundations, and hear
My lungs emitting nighttime sighs
That would be silent otherwise.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Story of a Lifetime

     Have you ever read any of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 100 Years of Solitude?  I started to read it last summer, and actually never finished the entirety of it.  It required patience and resolve that I just didn't have at the time.  The story spans, as its title indicates, one hundred years in one family.  You see generation after generation of complexity, and Marquez captures the magic and the myth that gets passed down from one to the next.  He is a brilliant storyteller. 
     For many reasons I have been thinking recently a great deal about stories and how they function in our lives and in our culture, personal and public narrative if you will (with a wink to fellow ESCers).  What is my life story?  What will it amount to?  Will it have all the structurally sound elements - strong plot with clear conflict, resolution, and character development?  What about a theme - will my story have a moral? 
     I'm not sure at this point what my story is or where it's going.  It's hard to analyze the theme when you're in the middle of the book.  I do think I have settled on one thing though, which is that I don't see myself as the author.  I'm leaving that job up to the Big Man.  His stories are far more magnificent than I could ever write, so I'm fine with letting Him tell His story through me. 
     I can feel an argument about agency coming, so without trying to get into a debate, I will only say that allowing God to write your story is a choice.  It is agency.  I choose to see my life as part of a story told by God to his creation, and it certainly takes a great deal of courage to hand over the pen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fix You

     For the past week I've been doing some interesting experiments with my students.  Along with one of the resource specialists at my school, I've been designing some cognitive tests for my special needs students.  We're trying to assess where the gaps in processing skills are, and then trying to figure out what types of intervention activities can help build skills. 
     In doing all of this I've been speaking with several different people about the fundamental assumptions of special education.  One of the school psychologists told me that these kids have certain disabilities, and it's not a matter of trying to fix their brains.  My kids' brains are how they are, and that's all there is to it.  Our challenge is to find a way to help them find strategies to overcome their disabilities (calculators for example...). 
     I'm not so sure I can accept that though.  My friend (the resource specialist with whom I've been doing all of this) and I believe that our students can overcome their disabilities.  Yes, it is incredibly difficult for them, and yes, it will take some inventive strategies. But, the brain is an amazing organ.  It has the capacity to rewire itself, to create new pathways.  We just have to figure out how to generate those connections.  Will it be the same as normally functioning students?  No.  Absolutely not.  But can it be done?  I have to believe it.