Friday, October 26, 2012

Service is not...

i really love this:

Service is not the same as helping. Helping is based on inequality, it's not a relationship between equals. When you help, you use your own strength to help someone with less strength. It's a one up, one down relationship, and people feel this inequality. When we help, we may inadvertently take away more than we give, diminishing the person's sense of self-worth and self-esteem… Serving is also different to fixing. We fix broken pipes; we don't fix people. When I set about fixing another person, it's because I see them as broken. Fixing is a form of judgment that separates us from one another; it creates a distance. So fundamentally, helping, fixing and serving are ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak; when you fix, you see life as broken; and when you serve, you see life as whole. When we serve in this way, we understand that this person's suffering is also my suffering, that their joy is also my joy… We may help or fix many things in our lives, but when we serve, we are always in the service of wholeness.
Rachel Remen, mid-20th century

Thursday, October 18, 2012

re: last weekend

the bff visited me over the weekend and it was nice to have a little bit of ny here. 

we basically:

drank from this giant bowl on friday night.

took a DTM tour of campus and found this building, which is the same name as a friend of ours.

drank hot chocolate at burdick's. twice.

checked out some really old cemeteries. 

watched this tour group on segways (it was weird).

after she left, i needed to get some work done so i headed to the largest library on campus (the 2nd largest in the USA):

before i went on a haunted tour of campus.

Friday, October 12, 2012


i hate this weather. i hate how it rains one second and is sunny the next. i hate how suddenly it's cold. i hate how grey it is most days and that the sun only shines about one day out of the week. i thought NY was bad, but this is torture for people with seasonal depression (not saying that is me but it's just a thought).

and yes, that is a picture of a puddle that i took. for class.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


in one of my classes this week, we were asked to write about our favorite k-12th grade teacher. 

my mind went blank, before briefly thinking about a college professor that i really loved. i then remembered that the TA asked us to write about a teacher during our k-12th grade years. so i thought about my public school teachers but i couldn't really think about the specifics she was asking us to describe so that seemed like a bust. middle school was ok, but my feeling of being unsuccessful in school doesn't bring up warm and friendly memories of teachers. i was all over the place in high school...but then it hit me.

i took an african-american literature class in high school with a teacher that i had heard a lot about and hoped to take a class with. most students seemed really transformed by his classes and raved about him. being a shy student, he scared the shit out of me but i knew him and he knew me because my sister had taken several classes with him. small school settings make it hard to hide.

he was a burly man with a big pot belly and a lot of facial hair who always wore a flannel shirt, jeans and hiking boots. he looked like he was straight out of the woods. in reality, he was straight out of the woods - he actually lived in a log cabin in the woods somewhere by himself with no tv or phone. (i might be making part of that up, although i am 75% sure i am right about 100% of what's in that sentence). i always imagined him in the woods with all of his books, observing nature and smoking cigarettes. he was obvious about his love of teaching, literature and smoking. he never hid that from his students. it honestly felt like there wasn't a lot he would hide from us.

i can't tell you all of the books we read or the assignments he had us complete but i can tell you that something happened in that classroom which i had never experienced before in a class at this school. he was the first teacher who sat down in the circle with us. he was actually listening to us and we all knew by the way he leaned his body towards the person who was speaking. he told us about his own experiences when he lived in predominately black neighborhoods (harlem, to be exact) and how they related to the texts. here was this white man relating to all of the students in his class. all of us. in an environment that wasn't very diverse, this was the first class where i actually felt diversity. he taught the class without skipping any chapters or telling us that sections weren't important (i swear to you that happened earlier in hs when we read "invisible man" - my teacher told us that one of the chapters wasn't important so we can skip it but i read it and used it in a paper i wrote for that class. BOOM!). but he was the kind of teacher i wish i had taken earlier in my hs career and every year after that. 

i recognized then, and i see more clearly now, that things aren't always as they seem. 
as an adult and someone who works in education, i recognize now that he probably did hide things from us. it's almost impossible to not hide something because there are things that young people should not know about their teachers and that's completely ok.
he once told us in class that seriously brilliant artists are also the most fucked up people in the world. i believed him then but believing him also confused me. to me (and many others), he was so brilliant. but also a strange and isolated man. i wondered, and still wonder, if there was more to his story than we could have known.

in 2006, he passed away not knowing the impact he made on me and still such a mystery in my mind.

i've been thinking about him and this and more all week. i even dug up a blog post a classmate wrote about him after he passed away. at the end of class on tuesday our teacher said, "you should all think about emailing the teacher you wrote about to say thank you." i wish i had taken that opportunity back in the day when he was still alive. even with all of the mystery that surrounds his memory for me, i am grateful i had the opportunity to learn from him and get to know the brilliant, strange teacher i had always observed from a distance. 

wherever he is now, in whatever other worldly place we go to when we pass away, i want to say thank you.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

wonderful ideas?

one of my favorite graduate classes is called "the having of wonderful ideas" but it's probably one of the hardest classes to explain to people. it sounds like a real hippie type of class but it has to be the class where i feel the most inspired! i'm clearly drinking whatever lemonade the professor is serving up in class.

the quick and dirty of the class is this:
we spend every week learning how to follow people's thinking in order to help them learn more about a given thing/topic/new idea. this class consists of demonstrations during class time that inform the fieldwork (aka - experiments) that we do on other people, fieldwork reports, small group sections where we talk about the ideas together, weekly journaling to think deeply about what we are learning, lots of readings and a moon journal. yes, i said a moon journal.

because moon journaling seems to intrigue people the most, i will say that the general idea is to (almost) daily write down any observations we have of the moon. we are not allowed to look up anything about the moon though. through our observations, we should be coming up with questions and ideas about the moon. when we discuss it in class and section, i love to hear people talk about the emotional and personal connections they have made with the moon and what they are learning. we are all learning different things, which makes us also learn from each other. it's fascinating.

here are my moon journal entries that i keep in a mini moleskin the boo's mother bought me when i left ny:

so if you notice the moon, think of me. add to my observations. i would love to hear about what other people are observing!