Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Out of Print

Happiest find of today was Out of Print, a clothing and accessories site dedicated to classic literature. That's right, you can now WEAR your favorite books! I actually published a poem once that talked about my desire to wear literature; you know, if you love the words of something so much, you just want to wrap yourself up in it from head to toe. I was also speaking on the commercialism of books and clothing, and what is regarded as a necessity (food, shelter, clothing) and what is not (books, words, pen, paper?).

After seeing this site and purchasing the Gatsby fleece for myself I became overwhelmingly happy that someone finally understood that people who love literature should be en-title-d (get it?) to wear it. And what makes me even happier is that in the midst of popular books and movies like Twilight, Hunger Games and Harry Potter, we are reminded what our literary roots are all about. FINALLY, a movie based on classic literature can be celebrated again (The Great Gatsby, out this summer). You bet I will be wearing my Tales of the Jazz Age T-shirt to see that! I think it is good that the youth is reading, even if it is books like those series stated above, but I think it would be best to establish a return to those words and pages that shaped and changed a nation. Life is not always a a dream world; sometimes life is about loss, hardship and a broken heart. Even Joan Didion said the biggest lie she was ever told was "Merrily, merrily, life is but a dream." It sickens me a little that so many adults are into these tween books. We need to be setting the example that not only is reading powerful, but it is part of our identity as a culture; books are a deserving art form. 

I sometimes worry that those growing up today will not understand what it means to be in print. As a worker in the print industry and someone who strives to publish and has been published in print, that disconnect between generations is a disturbing one. Men like F. Scott Fitzgerald died without money, and yet they are immortalized because they gave their lives to the written word. Women like Charlotte Bronte could not even sign their name to a book and were forced to use an alias because it would mean them speaking their mind to the public, a societal taboo. The power of print is a force. It is one I have grew up revering and one I fight to uphold. There are many times I think I too will die penniless, though my name will have been through the printer. And all I can worry about is if I have told the right stories or not. 

"How we read is changing as we move further into the digital age. It’s unclear what the role of the book cover will be in this new era, but we feel it’s more important than ever to reflect on our own individual experiences with great literary art before it’s forever changed.
What’s your story?" -Out of Print website
For every purchase made on this site, a book is donated to a community in need through Out of Print's partner, Books For Africa. Literacy is important. Writing is important. Even more important than shopping. So, let's shop and write ... to change the world. Reading should never go out of style.
What will your legacy be? 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


It's not often that I delve into my past on this blog, but sometimes the past just finds you ... and it speaks.

I had the privilege of working in education for five years, from the time I was 18-23. I say it was a privilege, because it absolutely was. I think teaching is the most noble profession, and those who are so fortunate to work with our youth have a tremendous opportunity set before them: they can mold the future.

One of the reasons I see the way I do politically and vote the way I do, is because I worked in education. I really think everyone should work at a public school for a bit. It is humbling; it is a wake-up call. If only our politicians and elected officials had all been educators at one point in the public school system ... oh how different our world would be.

I loved working for the A.V.I.D. program at the high school level, and tutoring English. I liked it far better than being a substitute teacher. When I look over these years, I am filled with an immense happiness. I think I was less selfish then. I was and continue to be, so proud to have worked with so many amazing human beings, and so grateful that I got to meet these teenagers and be part of their lives. A teacher can make a world of difference, and if that is not your primary goal as an educator then you should not be one. It sickens me to think of those who abuse their position of authority or care more about wages and benefits. The news makes many teachers look bad, and in fact, some are. A.V.I.D. was about sending kids to college, and ironically enough, we experienced many teachers who did not support that mission. Our youth is struggling, our system does not always work, we have many a community in need, and a big factor in solving those persisting equations is having teachers in classrooms who care about their students. That is at the core of everything. That is what I learned in my five years as a public servant: you have to care. In education there is no room for just doing your job. I would argue there never is. You should always care about your work. I cared about my students; I still do. They were never just "work" to me. I hope upon hope they all know that. In fact, I still continue to pray for them daily.

I learned this morning that a former student was arrested in connection with a terrorist plot. This news disheartened me so greatly. My whole day has been off balance. I had always wondered what I would hear of my former students, and after hearing this, I feel so disconnected from those fond memories of school bells and the smell of textbooks. Naturally, I have to ask if I had contributed in any way to letting him down years ago; to not reading warning signs; not showing him enough attention and care; not discussing non-violent opposition enough; perhaps I never lent him the right books. Of course I know this incident has nothing to do with me, but the thing about education is, it forces you to examine problems, what you got wrong, and sometimes, why you have failed. You examine in hopes of learning, in hopes of bettering; so that the next problem, the next kid, the next crisis, has a solution that works.

Except now I am reminded that my days as an educator are over, and I am not sure when the next time will be for me to apply all those things I learned so many years ago. I have posted a few pictures I have from some of the years in the school system, but I didn't post too many and I haven't named my former student because in my head these people are still children, still under my charge, and I would like to protect them. I am so happy that most of the pictures I have from these days are not digital, so they can't be uploaded here. They are in my photo albums as relics of how things used to be; it was a different time. These kids and I grew up in such a different world. And now I shudder to think about the world they  live in and raise their kids in; a world where they are not even safe from their former classmate, and I can't help but feel that we as a society are letting them down.

I am passionate about education. I think it is the answer to so many of the plagues that are engulfing our world today -- hate and intolerance being chief among them. I write this as explosions rage in Gaza. And I would not know how to write this or where Israel is located had I not had teachers who cared about me. I write this because I think it so urgent that we all remember to read, to learn, to study, to accept differences, and collaborate to find solutions so that we can all move forward. I would love to teach again someday. I would love to share those writings that taught me so much about others, about peace, about our civic responsibilities. I know many think this all so idealistic, but I would hate to live in a reality without the possibility of something ideal. I am so thankful for being allowed to have a difference of opinion, being able to cast my own vote, having worked in our school system, and having worked alongside some of the best and brightest kids ever; I am so thankful for my education and that I was involved in the education of others, even if it was just for a little while.

And in the end, I write this post for all those students who I once worked with, who maybe felt a little off balance today, or maybe wondered in the years since if anyone ever really listened to them or remembered their face from high school. I would like them all to know that they have given me something to write about; inspired me to cast my vote; fight for better education; and that I still have all those pictures of our time together and these photos not only makes me smile, but I still remember everyone's name. The future is what you make of it. In the meantime, I will continue to say my prayers for you every night. Tonight especially.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tibi Continued

As I mentioned in my previous post, lobsters have a special meaning to me. It is kind of a joke, but it is also an endearing symbol. Eliot writes "I should have been a pair of ragged claws/scuttling across the floors of silent seas" in The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. I have always appreciated this image of the two lobsters walking together, as Prufrock struggles to find the meaning of a love that is more than just physical. 

But I would never have thought of wearing that symbol in  way that was the right amount of poetic. That is, until Tibi debuted their new looks. I was delighted to find the large lobster prints on silks and shifts. The gray sweatshirt is my favorite. It might just be a birthday/Christmas gift to myself, representing my love for fashion, poetry, and my partner in life. Had to share these playful looks with you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

i carry your heart

My boyfriend and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary this past Saturday. The time has gone by so quickly. It seems like we just met, and yet, it seems like we have known each other our whole lives. It's a great place to be.

His gift to me was this storage unit he built after several trips to Home Depot. It is specifically built for shoe storage! Isn't that amazing? It has helped keep my room much cleaner. And now I can go buy more shoes!!! He told me that he loved that I have a passion for shoes. It was such a relief to hear that he gets me. I have dated some horrible guys in the past; guys who used to give me lots of grief about the stuff I bought. So it is so nice that this guy not only helps me add to my collection with a place to house my hobby, but he also buys me shoes on occasion (like the Lobster Crocs pictured above). I am so blessed.

We have a thing about lobsters, my boyfriend and I. We are each other's lobster, and it has become sort of an inside joke. So for my gift to him, I altered a T-shirt. I stenciled on "Smug Lobster" and used a design from my friend, Virginia, to complete the look. The shirt looks very cool, almost vintage. And I love that we both handmade each other gifts this year. I even baked cookies! Something I never do. But these pumpkin, chocolate chip, cinnamon cookies were well worth the try.

I didn't get a card this year, but I did do something quite romantic and write down ee cummings' "i carry your heart" on stationery and gave it to him. Hands down, this is the most romantic poem I have ever read. And it really got me thinking about love. Good love inspires us. It makes us want to write. Even if we are not a poet, love is the guiding force to finding the right words, the right expression. I have been so lucky in love of late. The blog comments I get here have been full of support and encouragement. I feel so deeply loved by everyone who reads and writes some words. Your comments are like poetry to me, and they too get me thinking. Because I love to write and because I run across so many people who inspire me, I am able to blog. It is how I share in that dialogue of sentiment and warmth with friends, family, and maybe even strangers across great distances. Your words are appreciated. Your words are kind. I carry them in my heart.