Sunday, June 2, 2013

Summer, Summer!

 Hello, bloggers. . .

Once again, I have no excuse for leaving you on the precipice of my ambiguity; though, from another perspective, it's been quite merciful. The last few months have been a riot of elation and regret, depending how I felt at the moment. I have stuck to my decision to move to Santa Fe, however. It's been one of the biggest changes I have made in my life - and so, as you know, it was messy. It still is. Add that to school - a riproaring semester of one acts and AP exams and NMSBA and Angela's Ashes and the zillion other things we pour our hearts into on a daily basis - and it's been one crazy semester.

Though it may continue to be lackluster, I do intend to persist with this blog. Its new title, at least in a couple of years, may well be: "Res to Rez to Res on Rez." I am compelled and excited to do my residency work at IHS and other on-and-off the reservation communities.
On with the news:

Friday was the last day of school. I wouldn't say it was anti-climactic, but it was placid. In order to not weep like a toddler - which I did at one point, when I sat staring at my blank walls on my prep - I just continually moved. I filed, I joked, I ran errands. Highlights were organizing the big beige cabinet with my 3rd blockers and then playing dress-up with our props closet; sticking one of the drama students into the cardboard, self-made dumbwaiter (and then traipsing around the halls popping out and spooking folks); and just chillaxing with a couple of students as we sat in the grass and on the curb for 50 minutes while the fire department discerned that in fact a student had merely burned the popcorn.

This is what the dumbwaiter looked like (we ceremonially destroyed it afterwards). You can imagine onlookers' interest when that toddled down the hall and then a student's face popped out of the door.

In the tradition of my mom, and also cognizant of the fact that I 'sound better on paper' (students got a kick out of that phrase), I shared a letter for them on the last day of school. I sniffled (along with my students) when reading it, late last week, with my senior AP-ers; that gave me the fortitude to share honestly, but not lachrymosely, with my other students. 

Here 'tis:

Here I am waiting, I’ll have to leave soon, why am I holdin’ on?
We knew this day would come, we knew it all along.
How did it come so fast?
I know, I know; I’m stealing from Maroon 5. But really. Just as last year, when I sat in my car in disbelief, we knew this day would come – but somehow it seemed far off… until today, really.
A couple weeks ago I watched the Baccalaureate Mass at Colorado College, where I went to school. (explain what that is) It was a nice trip to nostalgiaville, but really I watched because Carol Neel was giving the speech. (explain what a BAMF Carol is)
She began by speaking about Augustine and Petrarch – two philosophers from antiquity. Both of them believed that the outdoors make us lose ourselves in a way. There we are in the big world fabric, just little stitches. Today, though, we often go out into nature to find ourselves. We leave the tumult of our schools and homes and find some quiet. I urge you to do some of this over the summer. Go up into the mesas; watch the kingbirds swoop and pick up the insects in their beaks; hunker over nutria and watch the water striders announce the center of the universe.
Carol Neel also pointed out that Shove Chapel is cruciform, or in the shape of a cross. She talked about its religious significance, linking it to the windows. Knights and saints and the humanities are all depicted in the stained glass windows. But cruciform is also the shape of the human body, lying on the ground. Shove Chapel is like a human form made of Pikes Peak granite, lying on the ground.
Now here, our school is more in the shape of a bow or a crescent moon. A kind of lumpy crescent moon. The school may not be made of DY sandstone – and thank goodness for that! The last thing we need here is a quarry scar on that beautiful mountain – but there is a connection to the land. The windows, for one. Not stained glass, they don’t even open, but on one side: the twin buttes. On the other, the Zee hills and Dowa Yalanne. We have a welcome Keshshi sign, and pottery and the shumak’olo:we in the glass cabinets by Toshewana’s. This is a start, but so much more needs to be done. Behind glass is not where we want Zuni culture. We want it living, very much as bold and elegant as DY. We’ve come a long way from boarding schools; as we all strive to preserve dignity through culture and rights, don’t forget your role in all of this. With every mastered test and every dance, you are helping preserve this utterly unique and beautiful place.
And I have seen a lot to be proud of! One day, as a parent or a teacher, you’ll understand that...well, very physical warmth and elation that comes the day a student GETS IT. I’ve seen those light bulbs go off. I’ve seen non-readers blossom into passionate ones. You have done elegant, pithy, spot-on work. Every time we have a discussion, I learn far more from you than I would’ve tinkering around on my own. You have shown true collaboration, whether on stage or exploring a poem, and it has been an honor.
Let what you have learned here shape in some way the work you do. Let it, mixed with the pinyon smoke from the ovens, create a picture of what we can do to follow our individual paths. Don’t let this year fall by the wayside. As Frankie McCourt’s teacher said, “You cannot make up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind... it is your palace.”
Carol Neel noted that just as Shove Chapel is made of granite and light, so are the mountains and thus our interior selves. If we find ourselves in nature, we must be part of it.
We might wilt under these incandescents, but soon we’ll be out under these cerulean skies, the sharp juniper tang, and hot June sun. Enjoy, and savor it, because it is you as much as you are it. You are sandstone and sunshine. Don’t you forget it.
Thank you so much for your hard work, your growth, and most importantly your fellowship. It means so much that you have shared this space with me. I will miss you so much.
In leaving, I’d like to give you the last few lines of Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese”:
                       Whoever you are, no matter how lonely
                The world offers itself to your imagination
       Calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
              Over and over again announcing your place
                     In the family of things.
So go. Embrace your summer with your knowledge and your imagination, and please keep in touch. Walk forward into the light.

The other speechifying I did this semester, other than the daily this and that of READ and THINK CRITICALLY and the like, was for NHS Induction. It was a great honor to be asked to speak; though there was some conflict on the buffet as I spoke, and so the attention wasn't as rapt as I hoped, a student still said, "That was a really cool speech, Ms. Hudson" the following day. And you know? That means as much as anything. 
Here it is:
First, thank you for having me. It's such an honor to be here with so many talented young minds and the people who have been formative in igniting them. To the inductees, congratulations!
To be honest, I don't remember my National Honor Society induction very well. I remember putting on pinchy sandals and a skirt - I remember getting "the look" from my mom when I bemoaned the fact I couldn't just wear jeans and a T-shirt. (And now look, here I am in a skirt and sandals of my own volition.) I knew it was an honor to be invited, and I was proud. But above all that pride, I was 17 - I was far more worried about wiping out on stage or how ugly my signature would look in the register. So to all of you, breathe. You'll be fine. You'll be great.
What I do remember, though, was my big brother's induction in NHS. Now that was pride. I was eleven, and even though I thought I was pretty hot stuff for the 5th grade - my Hose Elementary basketball team had just won the inter-school tournament, and I had probably played two WHOLE minutes. Even though I was a big old 5th grader, I remember how impressive, how honorable, how cool my brother was. He wore a navy blazer with gold-colored buttons and nice slacks. He had a rose with a blue-and-gold ribbon and a long, elegant candle. His certificate was embossed. I remember how it was so crystal clear that this was what growing up should look like.
So, think on that: I know you're fretting about your hair, or about your reading for English class (sorry about that), but take a moment and think about just how proud you are making those who love you. Okay. Don't get too sappy.
Look forward to your hours of service. Don't just think of them as yet another requirement, but as an opportunity to reaffirm to your school and your community that they made the right choice when they put their pride in you.
With the right attitude, when you donate your time, your willing hands or your spare change, you’re creating that expectation both for yourself and for those looking up to you. It’s easy to complain, and lollygag your way to a volunteer opportunity.  But is that really what being a National Honor Scholar is about? Good grades and a lackluster attitude? I don’t think so! Expecting excellence for yourself is no more than setting positive habits.  Though some of us are born more enthusiastic than others, that’s also a trait that can be practiced, and bettered. Find something you care about, and pursue it whole-heartedly.
Make your little siblings, who may think they’re the top dogs at DY, take a step back like I did, way back in 5th grade. Make them admire your classy grades, your classy outfit… but most importantly, your classy attitude. Make them say: “In six years, that’s gonna be me.”
I’ll leave you with a quote, one that I thought belonged to Voltaire or the Dalai Lama, but is actually from. . . Spider Man. Oh, well. Remember: with great power comes great responsibility. It might not feel like you're Peter Parker swinging to combat evil when you're picking up litter for your service hours, but believe me - they amount to the same thing. You are setting a powerful foundation for the rest of your life, and you are sending a powerful message that you are proud. Proud of yourself, your family, and your community.
Congratulations again, inductees!

It's a lovely June morning. Em and I (and some other teachers) are headed to Ancient Way in a couple of minutes, so I have to keep this blessedly short. 

(Ancient Way as of this winter. . . huevos rancheros, here we come!!!)

When I was sorting through which resources to keep and which to donate to my department (I culled 40-50 books and donated several hundred), I came across a series of quotes that my mother bundled up with Peace calendar pages. My far and away favorite, though all struck a chord, was Rainer Maria Rilke's: 
I like to beg you, dear Sir,  as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…Don’t search for the answers , which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.

So, as I pack my books, prepare my fabulous Santa Fean adobe house, watch the flycatchers snatch their skeeters and eye me casually, I have tried to love the questions themselves.

May you do the same.

Over and out ~