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two years & forever my teacher

Three years ago, I didn’t even know the man who’s still officially my manager today.

Two years ago tomorrow, he became my manager.

One year ago today, I reflected on my manager and saw how supremely lucky I’d been to find such a manager, who inspired me on and off the job.

Tomorrow, he’ll cease to be my manager. After a good long career, he’ll begin the “retirement” chapter of his life.

I applied for his position. Before I went to Oregon for Thanksgiving, I thought I wanted it. Read more…

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the wrong questions

Categories: Reflections, Social Justice Tags: ,

la próxima vez

In July, I wrote that I was excited to study German again. I enjoyed eavesdropping on a couple of coworkers shooting the breeze, and occasionally joining in with my incredibly rusty college German.

In August, I reconsidered. I definitely wanted to study a language, but was German really the one to study first?

I listened to conversations around me and realized how many of them are in Spanish. I realized I’d be able to interact with many more people day-to-day with even a basic grasp of Spanish. Also, I remembered promising my “Peruvian sister” I’d learn Spanish, a promise about a decade stale.

I started studying Spanish. I’ve already used it to hold a few conversations with some folks who know less English than I know Spanish.

Last week, I was introduced to a phrase that sounded so musical, I wanted to say it over and over and over again: la próxima vez. Next time.

I don’t have many ways to use this phrase yet, but that’s OK. The one I can think of is enough for now.

Hasta la próxima vez,

I will spend my moments awaiting

the next time Silver Star, Darth, and I

are face to face

rose from a wreck

A couple of decades ago, an Oregon girl’s car slid in the rain and flipped on a country road. Virtually everything else was wrecked, but she survived along with some silverware and one minor but ever-present reminder of the event.

I didn’t know that girl at the time. I didn’t know about the event for years after it happened. When I did come to know of it, the knowledge itself flowed from a fairly random convergence of events.

This morning, with my three-year-old snoring next to me, I set the book I was reading on my stomach and thought about the tenuousness of past events that led to this life.

My entire life would be different had that Oregon girl not arisen, basically fine, from a wreck. Read more…

believing in you

My three-year-old awakened me with howls for water. He’s got a flu, and told me after he’d sipped water that his “room is tipping over.” I explained that the room isn’t actually moving; he’s something we call “dizzy.”

He’s asleep again, but it’s hard for me to fall asleep again after being startled awake by howling. I ended up reading my last post, about Paul Farmer’s Pathologies of Power. And, oh, boy, did I get its tone wrong! Read more…

collective success

I recently had a few conversations that left me reeling. They reflected visions of success that, I realized, I rejected completely and absolutely. Viscerally.

This left me with the questions: Why did I reject that vision of success? And given that I rejected it wholesale, what was my own vision of success?

The answer is tied, in part, to the 150 or so books I’ve read since August of last year. Somehow, I couldn’t find the answer to these questions in pages. I had to find it in conversation.

We live in a world of finite resources. Some people are granted access to those resources; others are deprived of them. Generally, those who have access have military or other kinds of power legitimating that access. In short, they retain access by force. Read more…

those who can

A few evenings ago, I sat with hometown friends and reflected aloud upon my all-time least favorite saying:

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.

“Spoken like someone who’s never had to effectively communicate anything complex. Ever,” I said.

I was about to expand on this when I noticed tears in a teacher friend’s eyes.

“I love you, Debbie,” she replied.

As my boys and I drive back toward our SoCal home, I think how hard it is to communicate effectively even without layers of regulations constraining you. And I think:

Those who are skilled at communicating complexity to kids often teach. Those who are aggrieved about being unskilled, bitch about those with skill.

Here’s, then, to those who not only can reach kids, but do.

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