Friday, May 26, 2017

"Just Breathe"

26 May 2017:
"Yes I understand that every life must end, uh-huh
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, uh-huh
Oh I'm a lucky man to count on both hands the ones I love
Some folks just have one, yeah others they've got none
Stay with me...
Let's just breathe..." --Pearl Jam, "Just Breathe"

A quiet day so far, more or less: running errands, doing laundry, doing some writing (that part going a bit more slowly than I might like...), and just doing a lot of thinking. This song works.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Souls of Black Folks and Modernism

25 May 2017: "I know it's a bit early, but I kept thinking you can see Modernism at work here." --a student in my class this morning, making a pretty cool connection between DuBois's The Souls of Black Folk and Modernism. I hadn't thought about this before--I'm used to thinking of the text as Realist--but so appreciated this way of seeing it. After all, consider the ways DuBois blends genres and incorporates both the personal and the academic.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Manchester aftermath..

24 May 2017: "They want to divide us, don't they? They want us to turn on our neighbors. Won't ever happen." --Ian, a man from Manchester, outside a blood donation center.

Watch the whole thing. I love that he is angry, but it's a good kind of anger--fierce, determined, and fueled by love, not fear.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Summer school's in session...

23 May 2017: "I just keep thinking about Thomas Jefferson and how much worse his actions look in this light..." --a student in my ENGL 355: American Ethnic Literature class this morning.

We were discussing Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, specifically Dr. Flint, in my opinion one of the greatest and most interesting (and I don't mean that with admiration) villains in American literature. But I hadn't had a student make this connection to Jefferson before. I could see where he was coming from: Jacobs's text shows us just how trapped a female slave was by her master--how little control she had over her own life, her own body, her future. You feel that pain and horror when you read her book. And then you think about Jefferson, one of the most important and fascinating and complicated figures in our history and realize that he put slaves in similar positions (even if he wasn't as evil, whatever that means)...and it shakes you.

So yeah...two days into the summer session, I'd say it's going well.

Monday, May 22, 2017

"spring song"

22 May 2017:
"the green of Jesus
is breaking the ground
and the sweet
smell of delicious Jesus
is opening the house and
the dance of Jesus music
has hold of the air and
the world is turning
in the body of Jesus and
the future is possible" --Lucille Clifton, "Spring Song"

Love Lucille Clifton. This poem, though, was new to me until I heard it today on the Poem of the Day podcast. What a treat!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

"The Mighty Atom"

21 May 2017: "And when it was over, there were 18 American Nazis on their way to the hospital and there was one Jewish-American walking home with only a black eye and holding a baseball bat, a Hank Greenberg signature model Louisville Slugger." --Nate DiMeo on the latest episode of the Memory Palace, delivering a heck of a story about "The Mighty Atom," who punched lots of Nazis (in self-defense, it must be noted). The Memory Palace is always great, but I love it when Nate is basically subtweeting on our current historical moment.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale

20 May 2017: "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, bitches." --Offred, in episode four of The Handmaid's Tale.

Got all caught up on this amazing show today (having previously watched the first three episodes). It's so good and keeps surprising me in fantastic ways.

Wedding day...

19 May 2017:
"Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up." --Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10

My sister read the above passage at my cousin's wedding. Lovely words, lovely bride, lovely service!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"This is Chance"

18 May 2017: "What is safety anyway? Genie seemed to be conceding that there is only randomness—only chance. And if everything beyond us is chance, maybe the only force we have to survive a world like that is connection. By then, it must have seemed so obvious to her: it’s a good idea to hold on to each other." --Jon Mooallem, part of the recent amazing episode of 99% Invisible. You must listen to it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Becoming Anne Bradstreet"

17 May 2017:

"We say home truths
Because her words can be at home anywhere—

At the source, at the end and whenever
The book lies open and I am again

An Irish poet watching an English woman
Become an American poet." --Eavan Boland, "Becoming Anne Bradstreet"

This poem, which I heard for the first time today on the Poem of the Day Podcast, does a fine job capturing what makes Bradstreet's poems so powerful. Four hundred years later, her poems speak across time.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Keeping track

16 May 2017: "I think they have to be cataloged. Look, every touchdown seems like every other and we catalog those. This is important and it's far more important." --S.L. Price on this week's episode of Hang Up and Listen, talking about his articles on two players from the 1972 Miami Dolphins team who are experiencing cognitive decline.

This was a fascinating interview to listen to. Price's point above struck me as especially poignant. So many football enthusiasts spend so much time studying every little thing during the game, but seem reluctant to spend time on what happens to the players after the game.

Monday, May 15, 2017

An Unofficial Ambassador For Gen Z

15 May 2017: "Feeling as though we don't even choose to intake all of this information, but it just happens. I remember seeing the Philando Castile live stream and not knowing what I was looking at. Somebody had tweeted it and I clicked on it. And just being like, 'Oh, that person is bleeding. Oh wow.' And I just remember that moment of freaking out and not knowing what to do and not knowing how to process what's happening...If you are just now coming of age in which you are an active citizen, how are you just going to be thrown into that world?" --Yara Shahidi, who plays one of the kids on Black-ish, talking on a recent episode of Code Switch about her generation and their response to being inundated with the world's news.

This entire episode is worth listening to--the first part features a conversation with Kenya Barriss--but Shahidi impressed the heck out of me. She's only 17 but so smart and interesting and engaged.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Just in time...

14 May 2017:

"If I were a flower growing wild and free
All I'd want is you to be my sweet honey bee.
And if I were a tree growing tall and green
All I'd want is you to shade me and be my leaves" --Tristan Prettyman, "All I Want is You"

I was just about to slide into some serious Sunday melancholy and this sweet little song came on, jolting me back into some spring-time optimism.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

"Days and Days"

13 May 2017:

"Don't you come back here
I didn't raise you
To give away your days like me." --"Days and Days" from Fun Home

Today Jane and I saw Fun Home at the National Theater and it was terrific. The song quoted above is one that stood out to me in a new way this time--the idea that this mother wanted her daughter to have a different life, so she pushed her away...it's very powerful.

And, not that it needs repeating, but Jane is the best. I am so lucky to have her in my life.

Friday, May 12, 2017

"Tough Mother"

12 May 2017: "We never say we love you. We expect you to see it through our actions. But I'm learning. When I go away from this life, I want you to remember my love for you. That's all." --a mother on StoryCorps. This one (like so many episodes) got to me--tears in the kitchen as I listened.