Back at work, in the swing of things, and what a swing this place can be. I’ve been feeling like maybe I haven’t been focused enough lately. Probably that has to do with this most recent bout of illness, and my cloudy-head feeling, but it seems to be spreading. All of a sudden I feel like my thoughts are scattershot, like I need to revisit the little cabin in the woods of my brain and rediscover my purpose.
Before thinking about purpose, let me say, hey! It’s been a month! Only eleven more to go! Whoopee!!
Also, I’m pretty sure I made it snow all night. With my poem. Maybe it’s a particular and precious kind of ego that allows me to believe that writing a poem can cause the weather to shift, but so be it. I think, though, that Alan Watts, and Rabindranath Tagore, and Russell Brand might back me up. Though no doubt they would each take issue with the idea that there is an ego separate from the universe at all, and to them the question itself would be comedic. Did I make it snow all night because I wrote it in a poem? Spot on, quite right, cheerio old chum, except that you made it snow because you are the snow, you are made from the snow, and the stars are made of you, luv.
That was, of course, a conversation between my ego and Mr. Brand.
Metaphysics aside, I’m pretty stoked on the new snowfall.
Tonight I helped a student with her challenge project. This is a showcase that older students put on as they prepare to graduate. They are given challenges that they perform throughout the week, like singing to the school before lunch, or saying their names at full volume every time they walk through the door, and then a week later they put on a show in which they highlight another challenge. This girl’s challenge was to deliver a speech about her inner strength and beauty, and as hokey as it sounds, the challenge fits her to a leg warmer (have never liked the other expression). On her instructions it says that she should deliver the speech like Joan of Arc. She didn’t know anything about Joan, so I filled her in. But I didn’t want her to think she had to say deliver it all screamy like in the Joan of Arc movies, so I showed her videos of Maya Angelou, and Lauren Zuniga, and Andrea Gibson reading and said, “There, see? Just say it like you mean it. Say it like you’re made of it”. Hope I was helpful.
So far tonight she has counseled Sallie who was born Robert,
offered her heart as palm putty to Anastasia who couldn’t stop lying,
turned into a weak banana when Isaac, the boy who’d been Dempsey’ed so bad by the whole goddamned world that he just had to swing right back,
and tossed some perspective on the redhaired boy whose mind runs only in black and white,
and at some point she begins to wish for those extra eyelids that lizards get, to sleep with their eyes open.
So when the pretty girl with the I Don’t Know comes to her for help on her challenge, all that is left in the bottom the teacher’s teacup are weak leaves.
The paper says, “Make a speech about your inner-strength and beauty. Be like Joan of Arc.”
But the girl doesn’t know who that was. I mean, she kind of does, a little. I mean, she knows that she did something important, and all.
So she hears the story and thinks it was pretty neat, how she dressed up like a knight and all, but still doesn’t really get it. I mean, how do you be Joan of Arc?
She needs a newer mythology
The teacher unlocks the internet, and goes on YouTube.
“Think of Mother of Dragons!” says the Teacher. She is excited about her relevance. “Be Daenerys, rising from ash! See? Be commanding.”
The student says it would be easier if her dragons weren’t invisible.
“Your dragons are fine, it’s your delivery that needs work,” the teacher teaches. “Whatever you do, try not to say “like” or “and” or “um”, which you will never do, if you write it down first.
See? Be commanding. But don’t be Joan in front of her men, screaming on her flowy white horse. It probably didn’t happen that way. Don’t just be bold.
Be Joan in front of the mirror at age twelve, whispering her convictions.
Or be Joan in her cell, before her confessor, telling him there’s nothing to confess,
only that which came from Heaven.
Be belief itself.
Okay, be a little bit screaming Joan, but mostly be belief itself.
Or watch this, be like Maya Angelou, in 1993 in front of the January nation, telling us its pulse. See how?
Be the Earth talking.
Or be like this mystic poet whose name you will never pronounce. We are all workers of the universe. We are all made of celestial stuff. We are all moonrocks and space grime, We are all leaf stems and tree roots, We are all bloombox and our hearts should be jellyfish, It’s not about believing in yourself, but about believing in yourself and everything else together. We are chameleons and cactuses at the same time and we are all Joan of Arc already.
We are all impetuous winds and nothing can catch it, and you can’t blow it back if you don’t
The girl says “thanks for your help, I mean that a lot”, and the teacher drives home in the dark over bad roads
to the yard full of the snow she’s caused just by words and for a minute she stands before going inside, and thinks of the igloos she’ll build with her kids tomorrow,
and about how she wants to build a snow house because she’s made of it,
and of how, somehow, star-wise,
so are you.
Tonight when I got home my husband had written me a haiku, just in case I wanted to rip him off him and go to bed, which was sweet. He is such an enabler. Here it is: “A rock sits heavy / on my first-born daughter’s heart / She confides in me.” The heavy rock sitting on my daughter’s chest is being caused by some boys at school who don’t like her paintings. She’ll be fine. But the fact that she called it rock should remind us what these first little heartbreaks are like. She’ll be fine. I’m going to teach her, as soon as I learn, how to talk like Joan of Arc. Happy Wednesday! Also, it’s still snowing. Jus’ sayin.