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Shared culture…

October 21, 2010

Tsila looked at my face and laughed…

“You mustn’t close your ears when I tell you the truth…”

Her laugh was light,

almost kind…

“I’m going to tell you many truths…

And what I’m going to give you will be faithful…

Far more faithful than your mother could ever be…”


she meant—

I understood that…

But mine would not be sweet…

I had expected honey,

but my mouth tasted of bile…

Fear and dread,

but also excitement mingled on my tongue…

“Knowledge will be your mother,”

she said…

She took my fingers and then pointed to the third letter of the alphabet…


she named it…

“For gevurah…”

— in Your Mouth is Lovely by Nancy Richler

There are people,

who are called academics,

and research “Aha” moments in education…

They write articles,

in academic journals,

and chapters,

in textbooks…

They give power point,


on overheads,

in hotel banquet,

and ballrooms…

Other people call them experts,

and talk in big circles,

about how they are advancing conversations,

as today’s,

keynote speakers…

And when you,

meaning me,

talk in big circles,

about advancing conversations,

people say,

You should really be reading,

and quoting,


or Simone Weil,

or Hannah Arendt,

or someone else…

In such cases,

I respond with a,



and quote from the people,

who are talking to me,


the one metal filling,

in my back molars…

You can read all you want,

about the big Aha’s,

other people have…

But until you have one,

those words,

just sit on the page,

waiting for experience…

You can try chasing them…

You can try hunting them…

And I’ll say,

Good luck with that,

because how you get one,

is completely out of control…

It so happens,

it isn’t up to you,

to do anything,

but be right there for them,

with open arms…

I remember one of my,

holy fuck moments,

in my classroom…

My children are uncomfortable with my use of coarse language…

But because I like a little bit of it,

spoken low,

like fresh ground pepper and salt,

on a rare rib eye,

with a lot of marble,

when I go there,

they say,



Do you have to talk like that???

And I say,


thank you,

I must…

It’s the loggerhead inside of me,

trying to get out…

I also tell them that Jesus sent me a message,

directly into my tinfoil helmet,

that you have to use any method you can,

to express yourself,

and get the message across,

and if the f-word had been around when he was walking on water,

he GD would have been using it with every GD single step he took…

As for turning water into wine,


he says,

The perfect word to name that particular experience,

hasn’t been invented yet…

I’m leaving that work up to you…

It’s 2010 now,

and I trust you to get it done…

Back in 2006,

I was reading the Norse Myths,

to my class of five and six year olds…

When I got to the part about how a guy,

whose name escapes me,

was hanging upside down in a tree,

not for fun,

but because he’d been captured,

and how when he looked on the ground,

inches from his face,

he saw that all of the debris,

blown from the tree,

laying on the dirt,

formed characters,

and eventually,

those characters,

turned into words,

and those words,

turned into sentences,

and those sentences,

told stories,


holding knowledge,

lightning hit me,

in that split second,

and I suddenly,


why I,

as an early primary teacher,

was so hooked,

on working with children,

before they could read,

in the conventional sense of the word,

and leading them to after,

where the puzzle of text,


a new book,

with time veering off,

in a million different directions,

all at once…

No one could have prepared me,

for what I felt in that moment…

The only thing that ever had,


a deep sensation,

of having,

been here before…

When people ask me,

Are you okay???

I say,

I’m just fine…

And I wonder,

What’s going on with you???

And when I put the key,

in the ignition,

of my big red car,

hearing the roar,

of that multi-horsepower,

Swedish engine,

turn over,

and turn on,

Little Gem,

drawing flamenco dancers,

in her sketchbook,

as she relaxes in her booster seat,

never fails to speak,

to the doubt,

by confirming,

You are wonderful…

And then we drive off,

down that road,

leading from nowhere,

to everywhere,

and back again,

all at the same time…

If someone called me up,

on my land line tonight,

and asked me,


what’s been going on in your world???

I’d have to say,


not much…

I’m just trying to stay,



my rocker

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