Wednesday, March 3, 2010


So if your roof and ceiling had leaked/crashed in four times in the past year, would you consider it a metaphor or a sign from God/The Universe? I am beginning to suspect that I'm missing a deep, philosophical message.

This morning I woke up at 5:30 am to rain dripping from my ceiling onto my bed. I called my landlord immediately (awaking him, I am sure) and sent in emergency lesson plans for a substitute, since I had to stay home to do damage control and wait for the landlord and roofer to arrive. This is what my ceiling looks like right now as I am typing:

Looks awfully familiar, huh? Probably because this is the fourth time this has happened in the same spot above my bed. Gaela thinks I need to rearrange my room, which I'm willing to give a shot, but it seems to me that there's something far more serious than bad feng shui going on here . . .

I think it might be time to try to exorcise all things negative! Any tips on ridding oneself of literal and metaphorical demons? Because it seems to me that the first step in getting rid of bad things is to acknowledge them (0r is that just a ouija board/preteen seance myth?), here is my official, beseeching list:

1. Ceiling Demon, please go away! I don't know whether you represent the Water-trying-to-put-out-my-Fire, or are symbolizing the deluge that has pummeled my life these past few months, but please allow my roof to be properly fixed so that me and my pretty satin quilt can stay dry!

2. I need a new roommate, as Ji is moving out April 1st. Does anyone know of a lovely soul seeking a bedroom in an expansive, amazing apartment in north Oakland with laundry and a little garden? It's cheap! And I'm a nice girl! Loneliness and anxiety begone.

3. Arnold Schwarzenegger, I never say the word "hate" . . . but I find you despicable! How dare you cut California's education budget by $22 billion, all the while spending millions on a new death row at San Quentin? How dare you allow 900 educators and supporters in the San Francisco Unified School District alone to lose their jobs next year? What an incredible disservice to our state's children. If not in our young people, where on earth are your priorities? (If you live in California, please join us tomorrow for the March 4 Rally for Education).

4. Ex-orcism Playlist:
(I can't help but to attach music to all the important people and events in my life. Because my relationships have been particularly tumultuous lately, I'm taking a break from dating and expelling these particular demons in the form of a Farewell Exes! playlist).

Tragedy (Emmylou Harris)--JPM
Do What You Have to Do (Sarah McLachlan)--JPM
Nobody's Girl (Bonnie Raitt)--CP
These Days (Jackson Browne)--CP
Case of You (k.d. lang)--MKM
If I Ain't Got You (Alicia Keys)--MKM
To Be Alone with You (Sufjan Stevens)--DC
Nigerian Afrobeat (Fela Kuti)--AJG
La Belle et Le Bad Boy (MC Solaar)--AJG
Trapeze Swinger (Iron & Wine)--AJG
Almost Lover (A Fine Frenzy)--DAT
How Sweet (Leona Naess)--DAT
Party in the USA (Miley Cyrus)--EWA
Where is My Love (Cat Power)--JRH

*with a special addendum of Ball and Chain (Anthony Hamilton) for CML, my long lost bff.

Onto happy things!

Things I love right now:

1. Junot Diaz, I love you. I love you and everything you write. I am halfway through Drown and am reminded of how brilliant you are and how I will soak up everything you write forever.

2. Freeman & Milo:

baby F on 4th of July, 2009

Milo at dinnertime a couple weeks ago

3. My student DR. Yesterday he and I were working on his "flashover" poem (we read this incredible article from the New Yorker about Cameron Todd Willingham, a man executed in Texas in 1994 for a crime that fire experts are now proving he did not commit--it dealt with arson and murder, and detailed the scientific concept of flashover, the moment radiant heat meets the flame and the fire bursts out of control--so I asked them (and myself) to write a poem about flashover, comparing it to a metaphorical "flashover," or moment all hope was gone, so to speak, in their lives). DR was comparing fire's flashover to the beginning of Hurricane Katrina, and with my prodding, was doing an excellent job with imagery. His first stanza:

Rainstorm gone wild--
trees ejected from the ground,
houses crushed by water,
a car flies through the air
and plants someone into a wall
Here's our convo:

me: D, we want to create a strong, concrete image that the reader can visualize, so create a scene for us. Who did the car plant into the wall? "Someone" is too vague.
DR: (thinking) . . . Bob?
me: (giggling) Welllllll, I mean, you could say "Bob," but that might make the poem seem a little bit funny. The tone of the rest of the poem so far isn't funny. How about "a child," or "a father," or "someone's sister" or something?
DR: (thinking) . . . Would "John" seem a little more serious?

Ha! SO CUTE! I love them. The "squeaky wheel" theory means that I constantly whine about my 5th period monsters, and that I never talk about how incredibly sweet my 2nd period kiddos are. They're wonderful and adorable and make me laugh and smile big every day.

4. Blue Bottle Coffee. And for now, back to my 3rd cup, and my attempt at writing the "love poem" that is due to my girls' poetry workshop in my living room tonight. :)


drollgirl said...

DUDE. you need a brand new roof! and you need to SHOOT your landlord after the new roof is installed. christ on a PONY. that is unacceptable up above your head there!

homemade grits said...

all signs point to you moving home. i mean come on landlord???? your kids are hilarious, i love you, and bad things happen in bunches.

bananas. said...

first of all...that roof, OMG!!!! WTF! this is the fourth time you say? k that is just ridic. landlord is not forking over the right amount to get that fixed. what a cheapo.

second of bottle coffee? so funny that you mention it because i have never heard of it until today. my coworker (who also lives in oakland) was talking about it. is it an oakland thing?

ps. sucks about the cuts on education. again, ridic. stupid aaaahhnold.

CultAnthro said...

Claire - the key to a good exorcism is bringing together alot of people who care about you while also completing a ritual that symbolically allows you to divorce yourself from a former, negative self. So that means, have alot of people over, make up whatever ritual that signifies getting rid of negativity to you (New Age culture can provide some hints) but make sure you have lots of buddies around. :)

Nahl said...

WOAH, that roof is something else! How about moving?