Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Trying

I used that awful hairspray stuff to color my hair pink last Friday. My students chose the color. I made good on my bet about the Red Sox. I will probably die an early death thanks to sleeping for a night breathing in the fumes from the spray. After the festivities at school, I went out dancing with friends on Saturday night. My neighborhood - the East Village - celebrated all weekend long, families trick-or-treating at the shops and restaurants by day, grown-ups dressed up as sexy angels, sexy devils, giant toilets, bunches of grapes, cowgirls, cowboys, convention attendees, and anything else you can imagine by night.

I spent most of Saturday afternoon on an Edible Plant Tour of Central Park with Wildman Steve Brill, who will be presenting to my students in a couple of weeks. We gathered, discussed, and sampled a variety of berries, greens, nuts, and roots - and even oyster mushrooms - that we found growing in the park! My favorites were wild onions, which I put in a salad I made that night, and two different kinds of sorrel which both tasted somewhat lemony.

Election results at my school:

Kerry 196
Nader 8
Bush 10

Teachers and students alike were disappointed and angry this morning.

I wish I had the time and contacts to put together a one-day conference: "Next Steps: What Do We Do Now?" I feel the need to talk and listen to other like-minded voters, to figure out where we go from here. We need to harness the liberal energy that gathered in the months leading up to the election. We need to look into the lingering questions about who voted for Bush, why they voted that way, who did not vote at all, why so few young people (18-24) voted, where people get their information and how they assess its accuracy, whether our election processes are fair and accurate, etc. We need to begin to articulate a clear vision for our country that is not just a response to the conservative vision, something that will show people the alternatives and inspire them.

I fear that with a Republican Congress and victory in both the popular and electoral votes, the Bush administration will adopt policies regarding reproductive rights and environmental protection which will do irreparable damage here and abroad. The big question on my mind is what I can do, with my limited time and money, to prevent or mitigate this damage. I need to talk to a lot of people before I decide where to put my energy.

It disappoints me to read explanations like this one at a schoolyard blog. She admits to being basically a single-issue voter, the issue being terrorism. I don't know what she thinks about the other issues she mentions - healthcare, education, gay rights, stem cell research, etc. - so I won't try to speak for her. So far in my life, I have not been willing to sacrifice my other policy concerns for any one issue. I feel very strongly about certain policy areas, and it would give me pause to discover that a candidate whom I otherwise support were strongly in opposition to my views on one of those issues. But I believe that I would still weigh everything in the balance before voting. I suppose at least some of the single-issue voters out there have weighed all the issues and found that one issue tips the balance. I don't know. It feels a little like marrying someone for his tight abs or love of opera or way with children, ignoring the fact that he's rude to waiters, scratches himself in public, and is proud of his ignorance.

I've been desperately craving time to myself, escape. I fantasize about a cabin in Maine, surrounded by fields of snow, five miles from town by skis only. I imagine myself holed up there, learning to play guitar, reading a lot, writing a lot, lying around staring at the ceiling a lot. In reality, I would probably get terribly depressed if I ever retreated like that. But my days are full of people making demands of me and my time. The people making demands are my students, my colleagues, my friends, and myself, I suppose--people I care about--yet the demands still feel overwhelming at times. I may be having a particularly hard time with this sense of having no personal space or time because this summer was such a season of introspection, balance, growth, creativity. I miss that. Teaching is full of creative challenges that I enjoy, yet I long for the time and psychic energy to continue writing poetry, to work on a different blog project that's kicking around in the back of my head, to tell my teaching stories here (properly, not just as notes once a week), to learn to play music, to daydream, to visit new neighborhoods. Ah, it's also the change in the seasons, the loss of sunlight.

The Winogradsky columns are stinky. I air them out every couple of days so they don't explode, but each day when we do our observations, the whole room smells like rotten eggs. They are changing from day to day, but not as dramatically as I'd hoped. So far we have yeast-like whitish stuff and some really black mud, blacker than when I collected it.

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