Archive for January, 2010


Posted in Uncategorized on 27 January 2010 by ms. v

Jose Vilson on the difference between talking and speaking, and why it matters:

Very few speak.

Today, she spoke.

And that’s why we as educators learn how to develop our voices, because people like her need it. This isn’t just about educators, though. It’s about anyone who would like to be heard. It’s not about the volume, though that helps. It’s about that wonderful balance between precision and accuracy with a touch of humanity.

I hear myself talking to kids all day long. This will be on the quiz. Stay in your seat. Raise your hand. Be on time.

But to speak – that’s when you say that one single thing that a child hears, remembers, the thing that makes them act or think.



Posted in Uncategorized on 24 January 2010 by ms. v

“Dad, if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal,” Hannah protested. The light changed and they drove on, but Hannah was too young to be reasonable. She pestered her parents about inequity, insisting that she wanted to do something.

“What do you want to do?” her mom responded. “Sell our house?”

Mr. Salwen and his wife, Joan, had always assumed that their kids would be better off in a bigger house. But after they downsized, there was much less space to retreat to, so the family members spent more time around each other. A smaller house unexpectedly turned out to be a more family-friendly house.

“We essentially traded stuff for togetherness and connectedness,” Mr. Salwen told me, adding, “I can’t figure out why everybody wouldn’t want that deal.”

-Nicholas Kristof, What could you live without?, NY Times


Posted in Uncategorized on 19 January 2010 by ms. v

Funny little things that matter: an umbrella when you don’t have one and you wake up to rain. A hand buttoning closed a bag that’s been slipping off your shoulder all day. A coffee to fill a 20-minute wait when you are dizzy from not-eating.


Posted in Uncategorized on 19 January 2010 by ms. v

If you are always forthright, and one of the things you are forthright about is how many subtle and generous layers there are to your forthrightness, then Bifur is your type.

What type are you?” Brilliant and stylish. Password is character.


Posted in Uncategorized on 18 January 2010 by ms. v

Why is it so hard to be open to people’s contradictions, surprises, quirks?

Sometimes I hear myself drawing walls around other people with the words I use to describe them. “Frat boy” is the term I prefer for a certain group of men who are, at least on the surface, not people I get along with. People whose values often oppose mine. People whose own definitions of beauty, normalcy, and culture have in many cases narrowed the world to make me and the people I love invisible. Still, I hear all the assumptions in the label and remind myself that when I take a little time to get to know someone, they often surprise me. That’s all we can ask, I guess, that people at least hear and reflect on their own judgments.

It’s lazy and hurtful to let a word or a handful of words define a person.

I have more to say, about appreciating who someone actually is, rather than holding them up, constantly, against a rigid idea of what a person should value, should be interested in, should read, listen to, think, or do. There are limits to relativism and valuing everything equally, but there are limits to snobbery, too.  This is coming out like some kind of vague inspirational self-help nonsense, though, probably because I’m determined to give less away on the internet, especially about other people. A lack of clarity and detail is the enemy of good writing.

It’s enough to say that I’m angry and disappointed at being told (in so many words!) “you disappoint me” by someone who seems closed to the possibility that a person worth knowing could have a wide range of interests, high and low, narrow and broad, silly and serious.

It’s all in the tagline of this blog, really: “Be a dark barker before the tents of existence.” A little bit creepy as imagery given the history of freakshows, but I love the image (somehow Johnny Depp keeps turning up in it) of the carnival barker, crowing appreciation for all the fascinating aspects of the universe and all the surprises you find in people’s souls when you let yourself get to know them.


Posted in Uncategorized on 16 January 2010 by ms. v

A hair below 50 but Brooklyn has dragged out the bins full of spring clothes from the back of the closet or under the bed. The spring attitudes, too; the shops are full and soon they will set up tables outside.


Posted in Uncategorized on 13 January 2010 by ms. v

People say that losing your data is one of the worst fates that can befall you. It’s as if whole aspects of your life were suddenly erased: your memory, your personal history, your context in the world.

But as I sat there among the geniuses, signing the paperwork to order a pristine hard drive, a curious feeling came over me. It was kind of like … floating. In marshmallows. I wasn’t on firm ground, but for some reason the empty fluffy whiteness didn’t feel so bad.

-Michelle Slatalla, “A Life’s Labors Lost, But So What?” You wouldn’t want it to happen to you, but what are you so attached to, anyway?