Thursday, July 29, 2010

La Sangre Llama

Many things I read and some things I hear remind me of my mother's repetition of an old Spanish saying: "La sangre llama" or "our blood (or ancestors) call us beckon to us. In graduate school I tied Mami's saying to Toni Morrison's discussions of "ReMemory". So whatever our origins, those who walked the earth before us and contributed to our genetic pool cry out that we not forget them. Perhaps? Or that we honor them? Or that we  mindfully build on that which they have given us.

In our family we love storytelling, politics, arguing and calling each other out on those things that make us unique--not with malice but frequently with laughter and joy. I think that is happening now with me and my older progeny. Not wanting to date myself I now include grandchildren with children in one lump sum. In truth the characteristics of my parents and my late-ex-husband's parents are readily seen in the children that came.

So now is the time to see how my children respond to the call of their ancestors. I'll patiently await to see how we each take the gifts we have been handed.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Small Things that Matter

Life is ever changing, and in the words of a friend of mine, we need to change with circumstances. To do otherwise would be to perish spiritually as well as physically. So on a recent trip around town, I reflected upon an old truism that we must appreciate the little things in life. For example, talks with friends and family. Being alive. More importantly not taking these things for granted. On a recent day, I experienced a multitude of things spending time with an adult child "in person" instead of via new technological gadgets--email and cell phones. Refreshing our memories and hopefully making new ones

Short entry on a small thing that I need to remember more often.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I've tried to write more than one page of stories I've told to people who in turn want me to write them down. So of course I come up with a great dose of writer's block. I turn to a piece of personal writing that my son, James, left on my computer.  I recognize the incident because it is a part of a shared history. However, I focus on something James said about a childhood friend with whom he feels a strong bond despite the many years that have passed since James has seen or been with his good friend, Chris Parker. A light bulb goes on inside my head and memories from over 52 years come to mind and my special girlhood friend, Judith Gloria Herman, comes to mind again.

I've held her in memory as she was when we were 14 and 15. When I needed a special person, Judi and her mother Margaret were there. I can almost hear Judy's voice for we walked to school many days and we shared each others family stories. We both lived in the Bronx and after school we generally went to her apartment and listened to music, listened to Mrs. Herman's stories of  life in Hungry where she and Mr. Herman had lived during WWII, played cards and thus I came to learn of a non-Latino culture that was rich in history and sorrows. Despite the past, Mrs Herman exemplified the best qualities of a person who embraced the present and made the most of it.

When I left New York, I gave Judy my Harry Belafonte album and she gave me both a necklace and a Star of David.But she gave me so much more. She introduced me to Classical Music, particularly the opera, Tosca and friendship which encouraged me and believed in me.

Why is it that at all the stages of my life self-doubt rears its ugly head. At that time in the Bronx, I had a good friend who believed in me and encouraged me to live beyond the limits of the environment at 2087 Creston Avenue.

If I could see Judi now, I'd tell her about my life's journey and hope that she sees in it the tenacity that has allowed me to survive and thrive because she and her mother were two of the three most important women who gave me early encouragement.

I hope that we can all remember the people in our lives who have given so much to us and we can thank them either in person or in prayer. I do not know how else to reach out to those  who have passed to the other side of life or whose current addresses we do not have. Perhaps there is a good reason we are not in contact now--perhaps it is best to have places in our memories for these special friends. Thus, the magic of friendship can continue its work through the years of our lives.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Returning to Some Basics

Yes,  I've taught for many years and despite the wisdom of NOT going on to get a Ph D in the early 1990s, I went and did it.My exposure to theories that applied to our lives as citizens sent me off like Don Quixote tilting at windmills. I forgot a basic tenet of teaching communication in the written form--audience. Too  often my  classes would go into tangents that I now realize were not "wise". How did I arrive at this reflection? A training session on improving comments for student writers led me back to the basic point--language. We must focus on the language students use and address the writing issues that arise from their fledgling writing status.

This reflection leads me to consider my own work so that it can become a better example of the kinds of writings with which I invite my students to engage. As noted in the previous entry to this blog, I have plenty of pieces of writing on my computer which need to be made public. So henceforth I will plug along with my work.Who knows I may share more of my interests in language with others so they can become interested in the wonders of words. Words do lead us to new worlds. Many of these worlds can be of our own making and worthy of existence along the worlds others have created.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Few Thoughts about Teaching

    I just found an old document on my computer which was a story about confrontations that teachers frequently experience. We've all heard, "Those that can, do, and those that can't teach." It's an old canard that seems to equate teaching with some sort of deficiency. I've had time to mull over the profession I have chosen and can say categorically that teachers "do". They write, the study, they create lectures and learn new technologies with which to enhance the learning experience. Moreover, most teachers "care". They care about their work, the profession, and most of all their students.

    I entered the teaching profession a long time ago and then went back to complete an education that I had left hanging (as it were) during the time I married and reared three children. In this, I am not unique. Interestingly, it was the problem I observed with my children's education in various places that led me to want to join the teaching profession to see if I could make a difference. I returned to school, acquired a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and a Doctorate – a Ph. D. What makes this story different is that my return to school to complete all that I'd missed took place when my children were "older" teens. Instead of being a 30 something Ph. D. student I was a 50 something Ph. D. student. Notwithstanding the age, I attempted to create a career path for me. My success is mixed but the point is that I am still learning and willing to learn to help others learn. Age, gender, illnesses all these have yet to stop me.

Today I completed the third of ten days of training for an exclusively online tutor position. I am still trying to learn new technologies so as to maintain contact with students and thus make difference. I find myself learning and enjoying the experience of the teachers who now instruct me and remind me how to be better at both teaching and encouraging students to take responsibility for their work.