A Long Vacation

What did you do there?

The best laid plans of mice and men...

I had great plans, but that is not enough. This has been an extraordinarily busy and fruitful year for me. Unfortunately, it has left me with less time than I would like for writing and communicating on these pages.

1. I am going to be published in three publications. One is already out, and two are coming soon. A banner year for me on the writing front, and I only had to work over thirty years to get here. Two of the publications are local efforts. None of them pay. But my work has left the ghetto of my notebooks for the real world, and that has made me much happier than I thought it would. I had grown so accustomed to my audience being limited to friends and family, I had no thought of what it would mean to me personally to have complete strangers who would gain no benefit from being polite in receiving it to like it and respond positively to it.

2. In line with the publication, I participated in a release party reading before the home crowd of a published piece with some other local poets. It was a good experience. I was well received. Joy and nerves caused a post-performance blood sugar dive and search for food, but it wasn't life threatening, or even very bad, just a reminder that diabetes will effect every moment of your existence when you have it. The experience also resulted in a few observations on performing your own poetry that I will share in the next few days.

3. I looked at the schools that want my son, and decided they can't have him. I live in the state of Texas, where the debates of our school board made the international news. English newspapers ran articles on the nature of our board members and the damage they have done to the curriculum in their efforts to whiten and Christianize it. The school rooms are crowded, and teachers, under the stress of attempting to control school rooms so that any learning at all may be done, are prone to medicate children and eliminate those who are perceived to have behavior problems. Boys are especially at risk for this treatment. So, concerns over the quality of education available and the principles of education in the public schools convinced me that homeschooling is the way to go.

4. Homeschooling is no joke. It requires a lot of work and preparation. This is true even if your child is only six. There are a lot of technical questions to answer before the school year starts on September 10. You have to get materials together, decide what to teach and in what order, and prioritize the information you will be presenting as well as the means by which you will present that information. You have to create a productive balance between rigor and freedom, between academic requirements and your child's personality and present capacities. You don't want to create an automaton, or a bored little boy who despises every day you spend together with school work. Even though I have decided that public school will not best benefit my son, I have to say that teachers have a difficult, demanding, and underappreciated job.

5. I continued on my Africa project. I know more than I did before, so my purpose in engaging in the assignment was met. I have not come out of the endeavor with much hope for Africa. The nations of Africa have a hard road ahead of them, and their failures and strife affect millions of people every day in ways that the media loves to show and ways that are not so easily conveyed by picture images and simple phrases. Despite the overwhelming tragedies that dominate our view of the continent, there are individuals and communities that offer small glimmers of hope, bravery, and resilience. However, the international community, the former colonial powers, newly involved China, and the market-following United States, must find effective, meaningful ways of fostering the positive efforts of African peoples and communities to create peace and better conditions there.

6. I still enjoy Ray Bradbury. I still resent the Mars rover for killing the Mars of his Martian Chronicles. I liked it better when I could pretend such a Mars existed, or would exist. But I live with the science, and continue to admire the literature. I dug my Bradbury out of the shed and reread some of his older works during the summer. The first story in The Illustrated Man: creepy. I had forgotten how creepy until I reread it.

7. Jack Russells are good little swimmers. But they do not like it when you swim underwater. It brings out their protective streak and they will scratch your back raw trying to save you from your stubborn human stupidity. Given a raft to float on, they will spend your time in the pool yelling at you to remind you not to drown and jumping on and off themselves. Their willingness to swim does mean that you do not have to shower them every time you bring them in from outside. You can just put them in the pool for a quick lap and dry them off before putting them down on the carpet.

8. The time in your child's life when it is possible for you to be intelligent and loved is brief. Adolescence is on its way, and the years move quickly. Treasure the moments you have before he figures out what a fraud you are. Once he does figure it out, you've got years of waiting before he internally forgives you for it and possibly becomes your friend. Be patient. Remember, you too figured out that your parents were frauds,and eventually forgave them for it, realizing in the end that you were a fraud, too.

And that's it, or all that fits easily into a list anyway. My months of absence resolved into a few key talking points. Have a great day, friends. I plan to.

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