Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas in Bend

So it's 11 o'clock at night, and I'm in the men's room at the D&D, the day before Christmas Eve. A gentleman with a big, gray moustache sidles up to the urinal next to me, and starts chatting. This is something that I have noticed about Oregonians, or something that I used to take for granted - they're always willing to tell you about themselves, on the airplane, at the bookstore, in line at Target, in the men's room at the bar.

"I've been drinkin' at the D&D for forty years," he sighed, "And now I'm here drinkin' with my son."

"Hm." I said.

"Alot's changed in this town, over those forty years. But not this place. Been the same since as long as I can remember."

It was going to be one of those conversations. Drunk. Nostalgic. Flashing our Old Bend credentials. Fine.

"Yeah, I know," I said, "I was born in Bend, and this bar has been here for as long as I can remember."

"You were born here?"

"Yeah, my mom used to own Knickers, just around the corner from here."

"Knickers? I loved Knickers! I used to take my kids there all the time! They would sit and play with those train sets for hours!"

He smiled, and flushed the urinal. Then while he was washing his hands, he said, really to himself, "And now I'm here at the D&D, drinking with one of them." I like to think that he left the bathroom in a better mood than how he entered it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Solstice

I guess we're not going to be seeing the lunar eclipse tonight... it has been snowing all day today, turning to a frozen rain in the afternoon, and then back into snow again after the sun went down, creating a nice cake-like layer on the pavement of snow, ice, snow. Nonetheless, there is something pretty cool about an astronomical event that* occurs only once every five hundred years, and something a bit ominous about a full lunar eclipse on the winter solstice. Perhaps it is one more reason why the Mayans predicted certain cataclysmic changes for about this time.

Friday was my last day of work before the winter break. The kids are always asking me about what I think about 2012, "Isn't it true that the world is going to end?" "Aren't we all going to die?" and so on. They always look so disappointed when I tell them, no, the world will not end in 2012, don't listen to what the television says. I can be so boring sometimes. But I guess that it's just a bit of human nature to secretly hope that you get to live to see the End Times. It might give existence meaning, who knows?

Also, kids fucking love vampires. I found a notebook lying on the muddy ground by the bus stop a few weeks ago. It had two pages of long division followed by several pages of vampires:

This vampire makes me think of Trent Reznor, circa 1989.

This one has a beard. Because it must have been cold that day.

I think that kids - people - are fascinated by 2012 for the same reason that they are fascinated by vampires. Supernatural, thrilling, mysterious. Give you some insight into Death - What Lies Beyond - Etc. Also, both may give you the opportunity to prove how heroic you can be, a la Left Behind or Dead Rising or Dawn of the Dead or Twilight.

*Initially wrote, "astronomical event hat." If anyone has any last minute Christmas shopping to do, I would like one of those.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Often, My Job Is Weird

So I'm sitting in English class, sitting at a desk and helping a student with her work, when D- comes up from behind me, carefully inspects the top of my head, and then gleefully pronounces, "So, Mr. Wright is finally going gray!"

It's not the fact that I'm going gray that concerns me, or that D- noticed, but the odd interjection of "finally" into his pronouncement. Why finally? I know that being 26 is ancient to a 13-year old, but surely he knows at what age most folks go gray? And he's only known me for 2 years - has he been waiting this whole time for me to start show signs of aging? Of weakness? Of the daily grind of working in a middle school?

Or has he been working on a hex to cause me to age prematurely so that he won't have to stay after school with me and serve his detentions?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday New York Times

Lots of good and hilarious stuff in the NY Times today. Via Sociological Images, is this map showing the 1860 census of slaves in the South:

Cool, n'est-ce pas? You can even see how the heavy-slave populated counties continue today as the South's democratic voting "black belt". Follow this link to the map of this year's U.S. House of representatives and you'll see what I mean. But also follow the link to Sociological Images, because they have an excellent blog post about this.

The other interesting article in the Times today is this one, entitled "In Tapes, Nixon Rails About Jews and Blacks." First off, didn't we know already about Nixon's racism and anti-semitism? Well, yes, of course, But apparently he also had rather low opinions of Irish and Italians. Oh, yes, and he was cra-azy:

“The Jews have certain traits,” [Nixon] said. “The Irish have certain — for example, the Irish can’t drink. What you always have to remember with the Irish is they get mean. Virtually every Irish I’ve known gets mean when he drinks. Particularly the real Irish.”

Nixon continued: “The Italians, of course, those people course don’t have their heads screwed on tight. They are wonderful people, but,” and his voice trailed off.

A moment later, Nixon returned to Jews: “The Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality.”

Whaddaya mean the Irish can't drink??? Of course they can! But I may have the quote: "What you always have to remember with the Irish is they get mean." framed and put over my doorway.

Of course, the real chilling quote comes not from Nixon but from that Jew, Kissinger:

“The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy,” Mr. Kissinger said. “And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.”
Wow. That is some cold-blooded Realpolitik right there. Not, I think, incorrect, but very revealing, and also it ought to put a lot of neo-conservative foreign policy thinking in a new light.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sometimes, My Job Is Awesome

I am currently working in a 6th grade drama class, aiding an autistic, semi-verbal student named M-. Today, we were designing posters for our play that we will be putting on later this year, School Daze, by Lindsay Price. The parameters for our project were simple: include the title and author, the time and place where we will be putting on the play, use color, and make your poster somehow relevant to the play. (i.e., illustrate a scene or a major theme from the play, etc.) It seemed pretty straight forward, right?

Like a doofus, I went ahead with making my own poster, an ingenious illustration of a cartoon middle schooler stuffed into a locker with all of his school accoutrements. However, after about twenty minutes, I looked over my shoulder, and saw what M- had been busy at:

A beautiful, 11x18 work of art depicting what I believe to be several vampires attacking and slaughtering what looked like Santa's elves.

In color.

I think he ought to get at least partial credit.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Where I Have Been: Barberton, Ohio. population: 27,899.

What I Have Been Doing: Eating turkey, visiting future in-laws, watching football.

What I Have Been Reading: The White Album, by Joan Didion
Homo Sacer, by Giorgio Agamben

What I Have Been Watching: Moonstruck, A Christmas Story, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

How I Have Been Feeling: Fatigued, content

What I Have Been Thinking: Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window could be an excellent model for how to engage certain cognitively impaired students, especially those with certain autistic-type symptoms.