I wrote almost every day. I was busy. I had children and a day job and we always had money trouble, and that takes a lot time. I wrote through money trouble and moves and kids and fights and deaths. I was not disciplined. I wrote because I love to write. Because it is fun, because it is deeply strangely satisfying, because I want to. I wrote novels and short stories and letters and essays. I was always working on something. Then I decided that if only I could get a better paying job, if only I didn’t have to worry about money so much, if only I could find a job that was more satisfying than my current school district job so much of which is typing spine labels for books and telling teenagers to SHHH when I really don’t care how noisy they are, if they are eating candy, going on Facebook, sitting on the floor, playing cards, kissing, playing chess—yes that is a real rule, no chess playing—if only I had a job that paid a little more and that was a little more satisfying, then wouldn’t I be able to write better, write more, wouldn’t my psychological space be freed up so I could write more and better. And so I went back to school. For a long time I still wrote. I wrote half of a novel and then I got stuck. I could not concentrate. I had homework. I had papers, essays with citations and thesis statements. I went back to college and now I am in double school, now school is all there is– at an age when I should be retiring, shouldn’t I?, sitting on a beach, writing, or in a coffeehouse at least, I am working in school and going to school and I haven’t written in months and sometimes I wonder if I will again. It occurs to me for the first time that writing might be something you stop doing. Is it like all those other things I’ve forgotten? I am stuck in the middle of a novel and I can’t find my way out and I don’t have ten minutes to think about it, literally, and was it better when I was just going to my job and then coming home and writing my story and worrying about money now and then, yes, but having time because you can always find half an hour if you want to, people say they can’t but they watch TV, wasn’t it better then, when every moment wasn’t spoken for, literally, every minute, and every bit of my mental space? So even now I’m thinking what about my paper, what about the science test next week, what about Sarte and Thomas Aquinas and climate change and the science paper and the English test, worth 9 credits, and the podcast (three of them—the teacher really gets carried away) and the 2 power points and the correspondence course from the Mormons. Can I still write a novel? Do I remember how? I am writing a paper on global concerns. I am writing about Sartre’s response to the idea that we are have only an illusion of free will. And there is the Mormon class, 3 general elective credits. What is the size of Ireland and you have to answer half the size of Utah. Approximately.
I went into the post office at a place called Seabrook and asked the white man working there if he knew of a town named Seabrook Village where blacks had settled after the war. And he said, lady, the whole place was settled by black people. We were on St. Helena Island, in SC, one of the Gullah Islands, islands inhabited by ex-slaves from Sierra Leone mostly. On St. Helena Island we found a restaurant called Gullah Grub that looked like someone’s house and I ate fried soft shell crab. We bought in beers from the filling station next door. The Union army occupied the islands at the beginning of the war, but they weren’t always heroes about it. Down the road from Gullah Grub, we found The Penn Center where ex-slaves went to school, where people worked to protect land rights for local blacks and where Martin Luther King Jr. once lived. At Penn Center there is a museum and conference rooms, houses, and there is a church built by black men when they were still slaves. There is a garden and there are big trees. We walked all around the grounds. So peaceful and humbling.
It’s Sunday, poetry day. This is from Sara Backer.
I heard there was a fat skunk, all white,
who waddled in the yard followed by two kits
the men called babies.
I heard about a pair of chipmunks and raccoons
that hung around the kitchen.
A hummingbird appeared one morning,
a gray-tailed hawk at noon,
and at night, feeding on mosquitoes, bats carved
dark curves in the darker sky.
In the concrete room without windows
where we held class, I was impressed the men all knew
each bird and animal the others mentioned.
They could pinpoint their location
in the prison they inhabited.
Can hate become a habit?
Do I always need someone to hate?
My former boss was hired to talk to teachers about what it means to be white. Somebody paid her for this. I thought she should instead have given a talk about what it means to be a sociopath.
12 June 2009
>Chuck says I can’t blog about sex or drugs, even if it’s from thirty year old material, because I work at a school and they’ll fire me. I’m not sure that’s true.
Blanca has come to the library almost every morning this week asking for me to give her tag board from the supply room. She is in 3rd grade. Her teacher is new and she must not realize we aren’t supposed to give a child tag board every day, but I don’t care. Blanca is a girl who always knows what she is doing. One day she needed it for picture she wanted to draw. The second day it was Saul’s birthday and she wanted to make a birthday card. On the third day, she asked me if I had heard about the woman at Winco who got arrested because she didn’t have her papers. Blanca needed tag board to make a sign. I asked what she was going to write on her sign, and she said, Stop discrimination, or something like that.
Last week I ate lunch in the staff room with the teachers, and one of them said she just loved the way Sarah Palin’s eyes sparkled. They are torturing people. They are holding innocent people in solitary confinement for years at a time, driving them mad. Tell me you are a Republican and you might as well say you are Pinochet. You might as well be a Moonie, as far as I’m concerned.