Random Thoughts from a Much Better Thursday

  • Very little has changed in the material reality of my life. Trump is still an atrocious empty suit; I still have mountains of papers to grade; many students are still paralyzed by fragility or lack of confidence. Yet I feel much much better today.
  • Mac Barnett is awesome.
  • Thanks again to friends and family that were willing to help or just put up with me as I dealt yesterday with my occasional swing into depressive terrain. As promised, the pendulum has swung back into the manic.
  • It can be healthy for me to have these occasional episodes, because it gives me a glimpse into the lives of people who suffer from actual depression. It’s not a choice, it’s not a moral failure, it’s not a light switch. Things change, but sometimes they don’t change much or very quickly. At those times we’ve got to be careful that we don’t say or do things that will make the person feel even worse.
  • Granola bars are tasty.
  • I’m tired of being chastised and gaslit by Trump apologists. I work really hard to be open-minded, compassionate, and intellectually honest. People who try to convince me that I’m not — well, haters gonna hate.
  • I’m working on Part Two of my Resisting Oversimplification thing. Maybe I’ll put in some work on it this weekend.
  • Soon I’ll get to do a thing I’ve wanted to do for a while. Yay!
  • I still don’t know if that horrible rumor is true or not and I still have no way to find out. That still sucks.
  • Some students write some really awesome stuff.
  • Today a student asked to read Nelson Algren’s Nonconformity, my favorite book about writing ever. This was the first time a student ever asked to borrow the book, so I’m very happy. I hope they like it.
  • There’s nothing like a slightly-too-small pair of pants to remind you that you should do more sit-ups and eat less stuffed-crust pizza.
  • It’s tough to teach a text you really love. If students don’t love it (or don’t love it enough) then you might take it personally. And it’s not personal.
  • A student just asked to see my copy of The New Jim Crow after I mentioned it in class. There is no better way for a school day to end. We’re done here.

Random Thoughts from a Terrible Wednesday

  • It’s very difficult to grade papers in the midst of an existential crisis of despair.
  • I struggle with great pain to remain hopeful in a world so filled with people who ignore the pain of others, and blind themselves with certainty about Truth.
  • Ideology and cowardice make people do terrible things. All my life I have struggled to inspire people to transcend ideology and summon courage. Days like today (Betsy DeVos, fragile children, demons in my head) fill me with despair.
  • “the only true defeat is to be capable of playing a part in the world, and playing no part at all.” — Nelson Algren, Nonconformity (c. 1950) p. 50
  • Happy birthday to my brother Mark. I wish I could be more positive and upbeat on this happy day.
  • I am eternally grateful to my friends and family as they wait out yet another swing of the pendulum toward depressive. I’ll snap back to manic soon, I’m sure. Thanks for your patience.
  • Sometimes the most important thing you can do — and the most difficult — is nothing.
  • AP is correct on em dash spacing. Suck it, Chicago!
  • I keep finding stuff to inspire my students to write stories and create real characters and compose great poetry and I have no time to write except for tiny jabbers of tweet-length stuff like this.
  • “When one is peacefully at home, life seems ordinary, but as soon as one walks into the street and begins to observe, to question women, for instance, then life becomes terrible. The neighborhood of Patriarshi Prudy (a park and street in Moscow) looks quiet and peaceful, but in reality life there is hell.” — Anton Chekhov, Notebooks (Dude was tweeting back in 1901.)
  • Any teacher who feels that s/he is good enough should not be teaching.
  • It’s hard to be satisfied with a day’s work when you know it’s never good enough.
  • I’ve made some really cool presentations for classes over the years.
  • When I can’t even finish one stack of papers in a day of grading, I feel like a failure.
  • I heard some horrible news recently but I have no way of finding out if it’s truth or rumor.
  • Alan Watts is awesome.