Ever since I had to send one of my sweet students home with a case of lice, I’ve been having sympathy itching all over my body. It’s been going on for about a week now, and I continue to go through the waves of convincing myself that I am afflicted too. Unable to find nary a louse, I am academically certain that I am free to go on with my life, but can’t seem to stop the sympathy itching. School is joyous. Truly. Day in and out I have small victories and it’s all worth the imaginings of bugs covering my head.
Last weekend I made a beautiful batch of sandpaper letters, and already my nonreaders and writers are starting to show changes in the way they attempt to sound words. It’s mundane for most of us, but for Edgar to make and apply the H sound independently is a big deal for Edgar.
Nick is in Dubuque for a gathering of things and family visit, and I am here in Pilsen, listening to a random racket of teenagers out on the street below our apartment, hopefully heading home and ending the late festivities. Chocolate chip cookies are in the oven, ready to top off my single lady dinner of leftovers and brie melted on pasta. I’ve just watched Waiting for Superman, which was not surprising or new, but was re-inspiring and rejuvenating. The state of education in our country is embarrassing, but also is the state of our teaching force, and without overhaul, change is going to be really slow. The question is simple, how to revamp the current system in a way that serves the students. But the problem is complex. Unfortunately for us, we are entrenched in such a deep and old system of power and entitlement: accessing the decision making table is really hard. Somehow we need to involve people in restructuring schools, offering up the feeling of ownership to families and community members and teachers. If it is the responsibility of us all, equally, then we might find success.
Even with all of these words about saving the world through the children, I feel like I am living a double life. Simultaneously, I believe that dancing and making the choice to dance, perform, and improvise is a political activist statement and is equally important as being a teacher. Putting artistry out into the world, the atmosphere, putting intention into the shared air has got to mean something towards our collective good.
I had such a fulfilling performance one week ago today. Two of my closest friends, who happen to live their lives in ways that incorporate dancing, and I participated in Collision Theory (curated by the venerable Dan Mohr) at Links Hall. We improvised for the first time with a band from Madison (Spires that in the Sunset Rise), and Michael Zerang, a household name in the musical improvisation Chicago community. I could not have asked for more.
|Of course my proverbial cake is huge and beautiful and multi layered.|
This is an old conversation, I realize I want to have and eat the proverbial cake. There has got to be some way in which I can have a teaching career and a dancing career. At the same time I know it is only possible with serious accommodations on both sides. It has to be what I make it. There are people in this world who dance evenings and weekends and are completely happy. I can be one of those people. And then there’s issue of location. We woke up Sunday morning and Nick rolled over had whispered to me, as he’s oft to do, “let’s get a house in the country, and watch the sun rise and set everyday, and have a bunch of dogs and a bunch of kids, and grow food and eat well.” And this is the icing on my cake of many desires.
All of this not to mention the call of the buffalo. I am so nostalgic for the West, for mountains and plains, for long hikes and campfire food. Those two months we had were such food for the city soul, those memories will keep me going for a long while, at least until the next time of joblessness and lease-less-ness, which will happen again, if we’re lucky.