Yes, I Throw a Moose or Two

I thought that this silly poem needed to be re-posted because school is ending.  The need for silliness is absolutely imperative.  I also need to throw a few mooses… er… moosei… er… meese?  How do you pluralize the word moose?

Life is as Hard as Bowling with a Moose (A Poem)

Life is like Moose Bowling,
Because…
In order to knock over all the pins,
And win…
You have to learn HOW TO THROW A MOOSE!

As the days count down, I have had to exercise my moose-throwing muscles more and more.  Today I have five days left in my teaching career.  So many precious kids I have to give up and never see again…  So many teachers will tell you that every year the kids are getting worse and worse, and their attitudes are turning more sour, disrespectful, and violent.  But those teachers don’t know the secret.  You have to throw a moose or two at the problem.  Real discipline is hard work.  Harder than demanding that kids sit in rows and be silent… heads down and pens scratching away.  You have to actually talk to kids and learn who they are… what they feel is important… what their problems are, and what they want you to do about them.   You have to be honest, give them a hook or two to draw them into the whole learning thing.  You have to actually care. 

So, I do.  I care.  And I let them talk.  It’s a moose that has to be tossed.

The comment was made this morning that you have to keep them working right up until the end of the year.  Doing no formal lessons in class is actually a lot harder and more risky than continuing to plod through the textbook.  But in five more days there are no more classes, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks… school’s out forever.   I haven’t done any lessons since two weeks ago.  Grades are in the gradebook.  I have been showing kids my favorite movies.  Especially movies from the eighties.  (Truthfully, I have not been well enough to actually teach.  My body aches and I can’t breathe very well)  I have been talking to kids about those movies… what they think about them, and what they think about life in general.  Kids are telling me they are worried about my poor health.  They say they are interested in my books and my writing, even though they don’t actually read just for pleasure and will never buy what I write… or even look at this blog.  They tell me about their troubles, their hopes and dreams, their most significant relationships, and they tell me that they will miss me next year.  Five days… will I make it through without breaking into tears?  No, I won’t.  I may not even try.  That’s one moose too heavy to throw.

But I have no regrets.  I have touched more than two thousand five hundred lives (a pretty close estimate… I don’t have a good enough memory to actually count.)  They have touched my life in return.  No other thing I could have done with my life would ever mean as much.  Doctors save lives, but teachers shape real people.  So what does it all mean?  I mean, really?  It means I have thrown a lot of mooses… er… moosei… er… well, you know what I mean.  And if my arms are growing weary, then it is for a very good reason.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching

More Fairy Nonsense

Yes, in writing a story about fairies set in Fairyland, I am starting to see fairies everywhere. And I am sorta doing that to myself. Here is yesterday’s art project.

Pen and ink and paper, pasted on cardboard, with colored pencils.

Using Stacy and Ricky, dolls, scissors, glue, all things I already have plenty of.

Stacysparkle

Rickyflutter

They meet and share some Pixie Dust.

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Strawberry Fields

This foolish essay about berries that mean love to me is only partly inspired by the Beatles song, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” That’s because, of course, their song was only about meditating. In the lyrics they take you to the “Strawberry Fields where nothing is real… but it’s nothing to get hung up about…” They are talking about a blissful place of no worries where we all need to go. And then staying there forever.

This, of course, I could never do. Worrying about the future is tattooed on my behavioral imperatives in the dark part of my stupid old brain. And while I often found that place of no worries, and lingered there for a bit, I found you could never really get anything done if you stayed in that state of strawberry fields forever.

But don’t get me wrong, strawberries are a critical part of every healthy mental diet.

You see, my meditations on strawberries when I was a child of eight, nine, and ten centered on the strawberry patch at Great Grandma Hinckley’s place.

She was, as I incorrectly recall, slightly older than Jesus when I was that age. By that I mean, though she seemed museum-quality ancient to me, I had derived wisdom about life, love, and laughter from her before Sunday School taught me any of those things said in Jesus’s words.

And I was given the task of mowing her lawn in the little plot of land surrounding her little, tiny house in the Northern part of Rowan where I also lived and grew and celebrated Christmas and Halloween and Easter and the 4th of July. And though I was doing it because she was so old, I never even once thought she was too old and frail to do it herself. Grandma Hinckley’s willpower was a force of nature that could even quell tornados… well, I thought so anyway when I was eight. And she gave me a dollar every time I did the lawnmowing.

But there were other things she wanted done, and other things she wanted to teach me. There was the garden out back with the strawberry patch next to it. She wanted me to help with keeping the weeds and the saw grass and the creeping Charlie from overrunning the strawberries and choking them to death. (Creeping Charlie wasn’t an evil neighbor, by the way. He was a little round-leafed weed that grew so profusely that it prevented other plants from getting any sunlight on their own leaves, causing a withering, yellowing death by sunlight deprivation. I took my trowel to them and treated them like murderers. I showed them no mercy.)

And Grandma always reminded me not to be selfish and eat the very berries I was tending in the garden. She taught me that eating green strawberries (which are actually more yellow than green, but you know what I mean) was bad because they could give you a belly ache, a fact that that I proved to myself more than once (because eight-year-olds are stupid and learn slowly.) She also taught me that it is better to wait until you have enough strawberries to make a pie, or better yet, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream. She taught me that delayed gratification was more rewarding in the long run than being greedy in the short run and spoiling everything for everybody.

She always gave me a few of the ripe strawberries every time I helped her with them, even if I had eaten a few in the garden without permission. Strawberries were the fruit of true love. I know this because it says so in the strawberry picture. Even though I probably never figured out what true love really means.

My Great Grandma Nellie Hinckley was the foundation stone that my mother’s side of the family was built on. She was the rock that held us steadily in place during the thunderstorms, and the matriarch of the entire clan of Hinckleys and Aldriches and Beyers and other cousins by the dozens and grandchildren and great grandchildren and even great great grandchildren. I painted the picture of her in 1980 when she passed away. I gave it to my Grandma Aldrich, her second-eldest daughter. It spent three decades in Grandma’s upstairs closet because looking at it made Grandma too sad to be so long without her. The great grandchild in the picture with her is now a grandmother herself (though no one who has seen this picture knows who it is supposed to be because I painted her solely from memory and got it all wrong.) But Grandma Hinckley taught me what true love means. And true love has everything to do with how you go about taking care of the strawberry patch.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, commentary, family, health, humor, mental health, Paffooney, philosophy, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Moldy Old the Story’s Told

Yes, I am old. I am not merely feeling old as school teachers do at the end of a school day, I am retired, I am on Medicare, and I am literally an old man. I am even old enough and mature enough to know what the word “literally” actually means and use it correctly in a sentence.

I don’t hear things as well as I used to. I don’t see as well as I once did. Being partially red and green colorblind, I don’t see colors as vividly as I used to. I have learned why old goobers like me let their glasses ride low over their nose. You can look over your glasses at the things around you that you don’t really want to see.

As an author of highly imaginative nonsense, I am really beginning to understand why “dirty old man” jokes are a thing. Writing a fairy story has led me to draw and write about a bunch of nude fairies. It isn’t really so much a sexual-perversion thing as it is a memory of and a longing for something that I no longer have in my life. It’s also the same sort of mental quirkiness as the “being a nudist” thing. I am not interested in the ugly pornographic sort of things, more the innocent, pristine, and long-gone things of youth.

And I see things that I know aren’t really there. Eyes staring at me from the bushes at night. Fairies flitting around the autumn leaves on bug wings. The back half of a ghost dog walking out the back door of the house even though the door isn’t open. I would doubt that I have ever seen a UFO if it weren’t for the fact that I was younger for the first two and my eldest son was with me and saw the third one too.

So, I admit that I have become a crazy old coot. But the best thing about being an old coot is the fact that I have earned it. I worked hard for a lifetime. I taught English competently for thirty-one years. I successfully raised three kids to adulthood. I have been a stable and useful part of society for more than forty years. So, I earned my crazy old cootishness. And I mean to enjoy it while I still have it.

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, fairies, humor, oldies, Paffooney

Gooseberry Pie

I would like to contend that a blog is a form of self-portrait.  Do you want to argue with me?  Have a piece of Gooseberry Pie….

You see, gooseberries aren’t made from geese.  They don’t look like gooses… er, goosei… um, geese.  They aren’t the favorite food of a goose, unless, maybe…  Mother Goose.  The name is a corrupted form of the Dutch word kruisbes , or possibly the German Krausbeere.   You know, because people who speak English don’t know how to talk right.  They don’t have anything to do with geese.  In the same way, a person’s name doesn’t really help you understand the person that wears it.  You have to dig deeper.  Do you know, I have never actually tasted gooseberry pie?  I have seen and even picked the gooseberries.  They are danged ugly, spikey-furred snot-green berries.  I am not tempted in any way to put one in my mouth.  And yet, I should not judge gooseberry pie before I taste a piece.  I know people who adore gooseberry pie.  Maybe you are one of them.

The point is, blogs are exactly the same thing.  An artist, a writer, a producer of something, or a day-dreamy noodling goober has put together a blog to display their wares, show off their creations, and share their words and wisdom.  You have to look at them, warts and all, and actually take a bite.  You have to try them out and test them.  Follow them over time.  Read, absorb, and appreciate… not merely zoom through and look at the pictures… and maybe click “like” at the bottom of the post.

Of course, I admit, I do the very thing I am advising you not to do.  The first few times I visit a blog, I scan through and only focus on a few things that catch my falling stars.  (oop!  Shame on me… I should say “catch my fancy”.  Forgive me for lapsing into Mickian brain farts for a moment there).  But if I am lured into coming back, I dip deeper and read more… tasting it thoroughly, as it were…  And much of what I taste there will end up in my own recipe somewhere down the line.  I begin to learn who that blogger is, and their writing style… sometimes even their thinking style (though I don’t read minds… only smell brain farts and odoriferous mental cooking smells) and I picture them as people in my minds eye.  Sometimes I wonder if they match in real life the person I am picturing.  Of course, the answer is no.  People don’t look like what you think they should look like.  They don’t even look like what they think they look like either… even in photos.  So let me end this goofy pie-based argument about why blogs are self portraits with a few self portraits I have created that aren’t really what I look like , even if it is a photo.

selfie 001

Me in the mirror, 1980

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Scary pictures of the artist as a creepy old man…

 

Self Portrait vxv

The novelist me…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wizzyme

A wizard selfie taken at Mad Ludwig’s Castle in Bavaria.

 

 

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Who I am and who I was…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seriously grumpy me…

Gag!  Enough of the gooseberries already!  Or are they gross-berries?  I think that I really don’t look anything like me anymore.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 8

Several Moments of Truth

I could tell when Master Eli handed me the bottle imp that used to be my friend Kack, that Kack was no longer trapped in a severed head.  He was now a free-floating intelligent smoke trapped in a bottle made of some Slow-One’s special substance.  It was not real magic because it did not make my magic-sense tingle.  It was some kind of trick with Slow-One chemicals.

“So, Miss Derfentwinkle, tell us about yourself.  And keep in mind your “Horrible Poop” friend will now tell us instantly if you are telling a lie.”  Master Eli was looking at me with one eye opened wider than the other.

“Yeah, um…  I am Derfentwinkle.  I am the servant of an evil necromancer.”

“Do you like working for a necromancer?” Bob, the quiet boy, said.

“I hate it.  I hate Kronomarke.  He’s cruel, and he sent me on a suicide mission to get me killed intentionally.”

I swirled Kack around in his bottle.

“That is perfectly true… every word,” said Kack.

“Do you like me?” asked the weird mouse-boy.

“I find you mildly disgusting, but it was entertaining when Bob knocked you out.”

The quiet boy chuckled softly when I said that.  I am not sure, but I think Master Eli did too.

“Would you be willing to betray your former master?” Master Eli asked.

“I would do so quickly and efficiently and deeply enjoy it.”

Master Eli grinned at me at that answer.

“So, is that true too, Kackenfurchtbar?” asked Bob.

“Derfie almost never tells a lie, but, sadly… this is not entirely honest.”

“What?  You won’t really betray him?”

“She can’t.  People she loves have their lives in his evil hands.  But her heart is set against the necromancer, and she would betray him happily if she could.”

“Ah, I expected as much from old Bluebottom,” said Master Eli.

“So, are you going to kill me, then?” I asked, feeling doomed.

“Oh, no.  Of course not.  But I am not going to let you go either.  You belong to me now.  I expect I will hang onto you for a few years now.”

“As a sex slave?” asked the mouse-boy with an ugly smirk on his mouse-face.

“No.  She’s free to fall in love with you, Mickey.  But she’s also allowed to hate you if that’s how she really feels.”

The mouse-boy hung his stupid mouse head in shame at that reproach.

“Tell me, young lady, do know any of the spells used by your former master?”

“I don’t think I have any magical skills, and I know I don’t know any spells.”

“Not completely true,” blurted Kack.

I gave the bottle a violent shake.  His floating eyeballs bounced off each other in the smoke.

“You probably know a lot more than you realize,” said Master Eli.  “I heard those two crows claim to be your familiars.  Not fairy-sized birds, but normal-sized crows.  That takes a lot more real magic than you should be capable of.”  He was grinning at me even more now.

“Does your evil master know about the crow familiars?” asked quiet Bob.

“I just found out myself.  I don’t think he knows.  But I’m sure Kack will tell you I’m lying about that too.”

“She is not lying about any of that,” Kack said.  So, I gave him another violent shake.

“Wait a minute,” said the mouse-boy.  “Why does she get a familiar when you, me, and Bob don’t, Master Eli?”

“Well, Mickey, a wizard is different than a sorcerer.”

I immediately thought a lecture was coming on.  Something about wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers makes them want to explain every little detail in one long-winded speech.

“Wizards, you see, are different than we are.  They get their magic from books and scrolls and head-knowledge.  They have to study to get their magic working.  They have evolved the ability to have so much head-knowledge that they eventually need another head to put it in.  Thus, their minds invade and meld with an animal familiar, usually a fairy cat, fairy bird, spider, or some other fsairy-sized creature.  I have never known a fairy wizard to have a full-sized animal familiar that was bigger than they were.”

I totally nailed it about the lecture thing.  This guy was just as boring as old Kronomarke.  Except he wore bright red smart-guy robes which were much more interesting than Kronomarke’s usual black robes.

“So, why don’t sorcerers have familiars?” genius mouse-boy just had to ask.

“Because our magic is different.  Our magic is not head-knowledge.  It is more from the gut.  Intuition over intelligence.  We pull magic out of our passions, our feelings, our natural insights…”

“Our sexual abilities?” mouse-boy attempted to add.

“No, Mickey.  And that kind of thinking can get you killed around a necromancer.  Derfentwinkle’s magic comes from a wizarding-way that draws on life and death.  She may know Succubus spells that can drain the lifeforce out of you and leave you a withered husk.”

Dang!  There went any chance to use that trick!  Mouse-boy might not get it, but Bob just learned what to look out for, and he didn’t seem to miss anything that was said.

“So, you still haven’t said why we don’t have no familiars?”

“Ah, Mickey.  Such a stupid child.  At least you were bright enough to put on pants this morning.”

“He is right, though, Master.  You still haven’t explained why…” Bob said.

“Ah, yes.  Although you would be smarter with pants on, Bob, you are right.  Sorcerers don’t need familiars.  They draw spell energy directly from the ether, and don’t pass it through the brain of any creature.  Not even their own brain.  They apply it directly to the target.  That’s why we use wands and staves and such rather than saying a lot of spell words and wiggling our fingers.”

“Oh.  Thank you master.  That was a very useful lesson,” Bob said with a cute little smile.

“So, Derfentwinkle, has your master shown you any spells, or made you read any books?” Master Eli asked me.

“No.  Of course not.  All the magic he gave me was inside Kack’s stupid little demon head.”

“She’s not telling you the whole truth.  She has seen the Evil Master cast spells and heard the words he used to do them.  And she read some of the books over the Evil Master’s shoulder.”

“Thank you, Kack.  I wanted them to know that, but I couldn’t tell them because of one of Kronomarke’s spells.”

“She is telling the truth about that.”

Master Eli’s face split with a huge grin.  “Very good, then.  I think it is about time I employed the Magic Hat.”

I had no idea what that meant.  But I knew it might be dreadful.

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Prudes and Prejudices (Part 2)

Who is really qualified to judge people? The Bible says only God makes that judgement. But who tells us what God’s judgement actually is? Especially if Nietzsche is right about God being dead?

Prudes

Not long ago I posted a short-short story about me wanting to see girls get naked while we were kite flying, and then, by verbal tricks backfiring, I ended up being the only one flying the kite while naked. I look back on that story now with laughter about my own personal foibles. But if I am completely honest, the church ladies with gray hair, wagging fingers, and tongues that are even waggier… Well, I am glad that the ones I knew as a boy are all now dead and can’t possibly read that story and shame me all over again.

And I know that I draw an awful lot of pictures and write an awful lot of stories that involve naked children. As a survivor of a traumatic sexual assault when I was ten (a thing that happened after the kite story was already in the past) there is a level of discomfort over recognizing that trend in myself. Not because I became a sexual predator of children. I clearly did not. I still am determined to prevent such things from happening in any way I can, though in retirement I no longer have access to children to talk with to find out about bad things that may be happening in their lives.

Derfentwinkle and Anneliese in my current work in progress, fairies both.

I write stories in which there are kid characters who are naked at times. Sometimes because of curiosity and developing sexuality, sometimes because of growing up in a nudist household, sometimes in their dreams, taking baths, and many other normal functions where clothing is optional. In The Baby Werewolf novel, I included a character who was trying to exploit a young nudist girl to make child pornography. He was the kind of predator I have always resolved to be against, and the book is intended to make readers aware of that kind of dangerous person and recognize where the opportunities to avoid such people lie.

And some of the nude young characters I create like the two fairy girls depicted in the illustration from The Necromancer’s Apprentice merely represent the liberating feeling you can get from embracing your own nude self, a thing my attacker deprived me of during childhood through trauma and fear.

I, as an adult human being, fully accept readers’ rights to be critical of my work and make prudish judgements about my writing. I don’t like that one critic of The Baby Werewolf who said things about my work being creepy for the wrong reasons (it is a horror story after all) and suggesting that maybe I as the author am bad and villainous instead of feeling that way about the villain of the story. It was fiction, not my personal life story. The villain character is not me.

But prudes being prudish and judgmental can do more damage than just hurting an author’s feelings.

I have had two students that I know of who were transexual.

One was raised a boy because he was born with a penis, but in grade school was discovered to have a womb and ovaries. I didn’t know such a condition existed until I saw an episode of Marcus Welby MD in the 70’s about a young boy who had to transition because he was actually a girl. The child in my class was from a poor Hispanic family that didn’t understand the problem and couldn’t really afford to deal with it. The prudes, judgemental as always, were not kind. This he/she hermaphrodite was forced to grow up as a flamboyantly gay male even though he was capable of physically changing into a woman who could conceive a child. I followed his development for as long as I was able. I did spend one long and awkward evening talking to him/her about his/her crush on me. I could’ve gotten the prude finger-wag over that strange conference too, if anybody had bothered to care about that poor child. I certainly wasn’t going to kiss him, and I had to send him home at the end of that discussion because of what he/she wanted from me. I suspect there were other men who took advantage of him/her. But I wasn’t close enough to help him in any real way. And I lost touch soon after he/she left my class. Based on that bizarre discussion we had, I have no confidence at all that the poor child is still alive. Nobody seemed to care about this child That is the most tragic of things teachers sometimes have to deal with.

The other trans student I had in class for a year was a girl as far as she was concerned. It was not a question open for debate. She was quiet and a good student. She only had a couple of friends, but they were good friends and stood by her. At the time she was in my middle school class, she already had breasts thanks to hormone therapy. By now she has probably transitioned by surgical means. Her life was a lot easier than the boy with ovaries. But prudes in Texas abound and provide a lot of sour fruit.

I personally find it offensive that anyone would deny either of these two people the use of whatever restroom was comfortable for them.

What gives the typical prude the right to pass judgement on anyone else’s behavior? Prudes can cause repression of natural behaviors for the benefit for no one but themselves. I find prudishness to be reprehensible. But the rub is… being judgemental about that makes me a prude too.

I try never to be judgemental. I would much rather accept everyone for who they are, or who they think they are, than rely on what I think they are. And I do listen when others judge me. I have changed things in my books and drawings because of observations my others. And I take everything seriously… especially comedy.

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Special Snowflakes

snowflake12

When conservative cultural warriors, Twitter Trolls, or dyspeptic gasbags like Rush Limbaugh call you a “Special Snowflake”, I have discovered, to my chagrin, that they don’t mean it as a compliment.  In their self-centered, egotistical world you have to be as emotionally tough and able to “take it” as they believe (somewhat erroneously to my way of thinking) they themselves are.  They have no time for political correctness, safe spaces, or, apparently, manners polite enough not to get you killed on the mean streets where they never go.  Being a retired school teacher who was once in charge of fragile young psyches trying to negotiate a cruel Darwinian world, I think I disagree with them.

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Have you ever tried to draw a snowflake?  Believe me, it is difficult.  Snowflakes are hexagonal star-shapes with enough lace and  filigrees in them to make it a nightmare to draw it with painfully arthritic hands.  The one above took me an hour with ruler and compass and colored pencils, and it still doesn’t look as good as a first grader can create with scissors and folded paper.  Much better to use a computer program to spit them out with mathematical precision and fractal beauty.  That’s how all the tiny ones in the background were created.  But even a computer can’t recreate the fragile, complicated beauty of real snowflakes.

You see how the fragile crystalline structures will break in spots, melt in spots, attach to others, and get warped or misshapen?  That is the reason no two snowflakes are alike, even though they all come from the same basic mathematically precise patterns generated by ice crystals.  Life changes each one in a different way.

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And that, of course, is the reason this essay is really about people rather than mere physical artifacts of cold weather.  Our fragilities and frailties are earned, and they make us who we are.  I have a squinky eye like Popeye from playing baseball and getting hit by a pitch.  I have a big toe that won’t bend from playing football.  They both represent mistakes that I learned from the hard way.

As a teacher, I learned that bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders are very real things.  I lost a job once to one of those.  And I spent a long night talking someone out of suicide one horrible December.  Forgive me, I had to take fifteen minutes just there to cry again.  I guess I am just a “special snowflake”.  But the point is, those things are real.  People really are destroyed by them sometimes.  And they deserve any effort I can make to protect them or help them make it through the night.

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But people are like snowflakes.  They are all complex.  They are all beautiful in some way.  They are all different.  No two are exactly the same.

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And I really think boorish bastards have no right to insist that we need to take safe spaces and sanctuaries away from them.  Every snowflake has worth.  Winter snow leaves moisture for seedlings to get their start every spring.  If you are a farmer, you should know this and appreciate snowflakes.  And snowflakes can be fascinating.  Even goofy ones like me.

snowflake_with_cartoon_face_0521-1012-0818-0641_smu

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Filed under 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, artwork, battling depression, commentary, compassion, humor, metaphor, Paffooney, self portrait, Snow Babies, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Prudes and Prejudices (Part 1)

I mean no disrespect to the bright spirit of Jane Austin by titling this thusly. But I do have an evil itch to confront these never-ending gremlins of public behavior. There is a need to regularly chastise the shoulder demons with the red suits, horns, and little red pitchforks. And if we listened more to the shoulder angels with the white robes, halos, and harps we would be talking these things out more carefully and logically with a view to how other people besides our bilious little little lizard-brains are affected.

Part One… Prejudice

Kim Fields from The Facts of Life

When I started teaching in the 1980’s in South Texas, a popular TV show watched by many of my students was The Facts of Life. It was about a girls’ boarding school, specifically, one house mother and her charges. Not a very realistic depiction of the reality of schools in the 1980’s. But even though real house mothers would probably have at least 25 more girls to worry about and drive her insane than this TV version did, it did have a feature that gave me hope as a teacher. This show had a girl of color, something that kind of school, even in the north, would have less of than the 20% representation in this show. And, miraculously, through all the weekly girl-dilemmas for a harried house mouther to deal with, and the occasional social-issue shows, that one black girl was treated as just one of the girls. No more important nor any less important than any of the other girls. That was an ideal to strive for in the world of education.

The character of Tootie (Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey played by Kim Fields) was a perky and positive character, sweet and charming, and possessing a high degree of emotional intelligence. I remember wishing I had more students like that. But I did have a number of girls exactly like that, though they were Hispanic and Anglo. We had no “black” families in Cotulla, Texas during the 80’s, and only two families and one teacher in the entire 23 years I taught there.

But prejudice is not about what color a kid is. Or what color any human being is. As a teacher, I learned early on that you have to try to love every kid you are given no matter what their personal details are.

I remember teachers saying that, “Black kids are noisier than any other group, and more likely to be aggressive.” Or they also tried to convince me that, “Hispanic kids are too mature for their age and become sexually active sooner in life than they should.” Of course, there were usually examples they were talking about. But those examples weren’t proof that the prejudice is based on reality. They were proof that generalizations based on race, first language, or culture are potentially hurtful. I could point to examples that might indicate that, “White kids are more likely to say racist things than non-white kids are.” That is also an unfounded conclusion that is easily disproven by a majority of examples.

The real problems a teacher has dealing with students don’t come from any prejudicial generalizations. They come from students having to endure things outside of the classroom including poverty, homelessness, physical and emotional abuse at home, malnutrition, or untreated mental or medical conditions. And sometimes the misbehavior is caused by the teacher forgetting or skipping the essential practices necessary to controlling the classroom environment.

Everybody has prejudices. My favorite color is red. I favor it almost always whenever I have a free choice among colors to use. But the problem with prejudices is how we act on them. If I burn down my neighbor’s house because he painted it green rather than red, then I have been morally reprehensible. Not racism, but still an evil act based on my prejudice.

The teenager who got away with hunting protesters and killing two white ones in Wisconsin with a “self-defense” verdict is guilty of acting on a prejudice that people who are protesting a racially motivated police shooting are properly and justifiably shot and killed for protesting in favor of their side of the controversy. He crossed a State line to a community he did not live in to be involved in that opportunity to kill someone he disagreed with using his illegally purchased AR-15 even though the victims were unarmed. Maybe you can’t prove racism. But how about prejudice against protesters who believe they shouldn’t be killed for their beliefs?

In Texas the conservatives are using a hatred and an anti-Critical Race Theory law to exert their racism in Texas schools. The Southlake School District has fired a beloved principal because he had the poor judgement to be married to a white woman and speak his mind in an email about being against the killing of George Floyd. Apparently he was guilty of promoting Critical Race Theory in the school even though Critical Race Theory is a law-school process for examining systemic racism in law enforcement. That, of course, is NOT taught in any Texas grade school, middle school, or high school. He was actually fired for having the opinion (while black) that George Floyd should not have been killed by policemen in Minnesota. They are transparently acting on their racism and proving the need for law schools to continue examining Critical Race Theory. Their excuse is that white kids are being taught to feel guilty of the atrocities their ancestors committed because of racism. So, apparently, how black kids feel about the same things don’t counr.

Through prejudices, teachers will no longer be able to teach tolerance during Black History Month in February. The novel Beloved by Toni Morrison can no longer be taught in high schools. The book Ruby Bridges wrote about her experience with integrating the white grade school in Little Rock, Arkansas can no longer be taught in history classes.

Explain to me why this fundamentally racist prejudice is to be tolerated! But be warned, my personal prejudices are telling me to protest this crap. And you can’t fire me for having taught these things in the past since I am now retired from teaching. You’ll just have to get a teenager with an AR-15 to kill me.

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Filed under angry rant, Paffooney, politics, racial profiling

Sunday Sermons in More Innocent Times

There are definitely tendencies in those of us who are really atheists and non-believers in our heads to look back fondly at a time when God and religion filled our childish hearts every Sunday Morning. I have been told that idiots like me with a penchant for writing humor ought not to indulge in making fun of religion and politics. But I look at modern humorists making fun of both those things with impunity and too often end up admiring their success. Because, not only does the the subject of religion provide an easy target for satire and mockery, but we can’t really keep something sacred in our porcelain and breakable human hearts for very long without making sure it is fire-tested. That’s why I intend to take a flame-thrower to it in today’s Sunday Sermon. And I don’t mean I will only make fun of belief in God, but making fun of belief in atheism as well.

Here is a piece of music that gives your heart peace that you might need to play in the background if you really plan to read this purple-paisley-prose post. It is Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major, a very spiritual piece to play for peace of personhood and a pinch of paradise.

Now, of course, the first thing to acknowledge in this idiot’s Sunday sermon is the idea of God Himself.

Is there a God?

Remember, I pass the test for believing what atheists normally believe. That should disqualify me from making the following statement. But remember too, I also identified myself in this essay as an idiot. So, I will say it anyway.

There is a God, not in Heaven, but in us. There has to be. I talk to Him all the time, and He answers me. And I keep asking Him, “If you don’t exist, then how can you be answering me?”

“Well, Michael, you are an idiot. And things don’t have to make sense for you to believe them. But also, I am the part of you that never gives up on you even when you have given up on yourself.”

And I try to look as intelligent as I can as I say, “What…?”

“People, Mickey, my son, have a secret power inside of themselves that, when they are in troubled times and dire dangers, they can reach deep into their souls for it and pull it out to save themselves from the situation in the best way possible.”

“So, if people use this power correctly, say the right words and everything, they can save their lives in any situation and even live on after death?”

“I know you are an idiot, my child, but try not to be quite so idiotic all the time.”

“But people who are very religious believe in eternal life of some kind, don’t they?”

“You are not the only idiot out there, my beloved.”

“So, we don’t get eternal life for praying the right things and doing the right things and fulfilling all the elements of the Live Forever Spell?”

“There is no such thing as eternal life nor eternal torment. But you exist. And existence is eternal. There was no life before you are born, and there is no life after you die. But once you exist, you always exist, even outside of the time-frame of your mortal life.”

“That’s why I call myself a Christian Existentialist, right?”

“You are, indeed, that flavor of idiot, yes. But the Christian part means you have to adhere to Christian values. And not the ones Christian Fundamentalist idiots interpret from the Old Testament. The real ones based on choosing love over hate.”

“So, is that all I need to bring this sermon to an end?”

“Well, you should probably thank William Bouguereau for providing most of the internet images you illustrated this thing with. He died before you were born, but he still exists.”

“Thanks, Billy B. You paint lovely naked angels.”

“And you should recognize that this idiotic thing you have written is not a sermon, but, rather, a fantasy dialogue. And then stop adding more to it like a good little idiot.”

“Amen.”

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