Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My head overflows...

It's a close call in New York City whether the trees or the people keep their spring clothes in easier reach. The trees seemingly kept flowers tucked into the nooks of their branches, ready to be unfurled at the first touch of sun. And in the same moment, sleeveless shirts and melon-colored flip-flops reappeared on shoulders and feet all over the city.

So today, I'm teaching the seventh graders a lesson on reading weather maps. We're trying to make some predictions based on high and low pressure systems and the blue triangles and red semi-circles of fronts. The kids are being bad; I'm being impatient and mean strict. It's snowing! someone calls out. My back is to the window. It's not the moment to turn around; it wasn't even a good joke. I continue with the lesson, but sneak a glance over my shoulder. Oh. It is snowing.

What kind of front is that? someone asks.

Four hours later, I place my yoga mat on the floor in a swath of sunlight, feel it warm my toes.


Sometimes I feel more affected by the seasons than the people around me, although I guess everyone feels more awake and alive in spring.


Any day now, I could come home and find an envelope in my mailbox from the Fulbright Teacher Exchange. It's probably a few weeks away - if I even get a placement - but it could be tomorrow. So many things depend on the existence and contents of that envelope.

And if I'm feeling anticipation, I can't imagine what she's feeling.


I found a writing class, Finding Your Voice in Nonfiction at the New School.
This workshop focuses on essays, memoirs, narratives, humor, and satire. Students develop their own voices and styles, showing through example and anecdote and incorporating dialogue and other fiction techniques. Contemporary nonfiction has limitless possibilities, as demonstrated by writers like Joan Didion, John McPhee, Anna Quindlen, Russell Baker, and E.B. White.

I'm trying to figure out if I can fit it in my schedule for summer. I haven't taken a writing class in 8 years, since my last poetry writing workshop junior year in college. I write more now than I did then, and I'm itching to learn something new. Doesn't it sound like fun?

Things I want to write about: Neil Young, the guitar I've carried around the country for over 8 years without learning to play, the shadows that buildings cast on other buildings and the ten thousand surprising ways that light illuminates things in my neighborhood in the springtime, bicycles and their personalities, why we need choice (yes, that kind of choice), the day I brought a lobster to school, anger, that feeling you get sometimes when you realize you're made of cells that are made of molecules that are made of atoms that are made of particles that are made of quarks...


My turn to ask my burning questions...

Suppose a person had an idea for a nonprofit organization that would serve teachers - especially science teachers - in New York City. Suppose that idea was modeled after a successful organization in another city. How would one go about preparing oneself for the great leap that it would take to go from teaching full-time to eventually opening such an organization? How would one learn about renting warehouse space in the South Bronx? Or non-profit management? Or fundraising? Or the myriad other things one would need to know - including the things one doesn't even know one would need to know - in order to undertake such a project? And where would one gather the confidence to leap into that particular unknown?

Would it be foolish to leave a school I've invested so much in, in order to work closer to the neighborhood I've come to love, a neighborhood so expensive that if I ever leave my current apartment I'd be unlikely to find another I could afford? Would it be foolish to do this because the Cuban coffee at Juicy Lucy's is so good, or because on a sunny afternoon I can hear be-bop and rock'n'roll on the street corners, or because of the hours I've spent leaning over the fence mutt-watching at the dog-run in the park?


That's enough for one day. But if YOU have any burning questions, put 'em in the comments.


Blogger Nancy said...

I think your best bet is to get in touch with people who have started up their own non-profits. I can put you in touch with some people, if you don't know anyone. Just email me!

10:26 PM  
Blogger posthipchick said...

Are you modeling this after RAFT?

Also, she is feeling much anticipation and, oddly, lack of stress. She's gone Zen, finally.

I think it's time for you to do something different- the Fulbright, or the non-profit, or something that will re-engergize you. But that's just one opinion from 3,000 miles away...

11:24 PM  
Blogger Amerloc said...

You could always become a dog and write nonfiction...

I'm thinking that the non-profit would get broader support if, at least publicly, it served "science education" rather than "teachers." It doesn't change any of what you intend, but might well make it easier to raise the necessary capital.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

In answer to your burning question, one step at a time! I've been involved in the startup of a non-profit and it is indeed daunting. But with lots of lists and help and passion, it did happen and the program is now thriving, albeit without me.

As to the Fulbright, good luck! Just heard that a cyber friend of mine will be heading to Africa on a Fulbright - hope you make it two!

2:12 AM  
Blogger cb said...

I'm in Texas and have run 3 different non-profits. I finally decided teaching HAD to be better! That said...There are various issues you will need to address including starting the business, applying for non-profit status from both your state and the federal government, establishing a board, raising funds, budgeting, staffing, etc.

Where I'm at we have an organization called "Non-profit Resource Center" that helps NPOs with all sorts of things along those lines. I'm of the understanding that these types of agencies are all over in the US. I would suggest you look for one in your area, contact them and see if they can help with answering your specific questions.

Feel free to write if I can be any other help along those lines. I love consulting with NPOs in my spare time and would try to help you (gratis) as much as I could.

7:01 PM  
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