When, on an autumn evening, with closed eyes

As I finished dinner, I went up to my room to begin my work on tomorrow's lesson. Perhaps it's the fact that it gets so dark so early now, but the entire neighborhood felt so quiet, almost lonely. As I entered the room, and began fumbling for the light, I could hear the muted sounds of a trumpet. Since I live next door to a middle school, at first I believed it must have been a kid in band practicing, or a mariachi band playing for a party. As I listened some more to the muffled sounds, I knew the player was too good to be a middle school kid. Also, it was far too late in the evening for some kid to still be hanging out on campus.

I went to the bathroom window, opened it, and pressed my ear against the screen. I could easily hear someone playing a sad, slow trumpet in the middle of the field. The echoes against the walls of the school made the song sound so melancholy and beautiful. I went back downstairs and outside to the backyard, under the pretense of letting the dog out. Once downstairs, the sound did not echo as well and I went back upstairs.

I went out on the balcony to hear the trumpet player. I'm not sure why, but it was the most beautiful thing in the entire world. A single person, standing in the middle of a field, in the middle of the night, creating such pretty noise. The sounds of the city made such a lovely accompaniment: the barking dogs (not just mine), the cars zooming by, the sirens off in the distance, the white noise of the jet engines as they headed to LAX.

As I listened, I went from feeling like a privileged audience of one to feeling like an intruder. Here I was, hidden by the shadows of the house, listening to this person perform such an intimate act. I felt like I had stumbled upon something I was not supposed to be aware of. Still, the notes carried by the evening air fell upon my ears, and I felt a joy usually reserved for the final movement of Beethoven's 9th, the feel of grass in my feet or the sun on my face, or a cozy bed with the dog.

Thanks, whoever you are, for reminding me that the world is still a beautiful, wonderful, awesome place.


I am teaching a video game class, where the kids are learning how to program their own games (there will be more about this later, folks, so just be patient).

While still inside the classroom, I asked the kids to describe, using simple commands like "walk, stop, turn left, turn right" to navigate me around the desks to the other side of the room. They did this splendidly. One of the assistants from USC said, "Now do it blindfolded!" What started as a joke quickly turned into a great idea.

I went to my car, took my dog's scarf out, and gave it a good shake. I went to the corner of the quad, where students now had to give me even more detailed commands. Now, they were giving me turn commands in degree measurements! And then they had to program me to go down the stairs. They were really good about saying, "Now raise your right arm! Grab the rail! Step down! Step down!" It was a really fun exercise, which not only taught them about programming the playable character, but had the added benefit of me learning something from them.

Obviously, letting go and having my teenagers guide my every move was difficult psychologically. It was hard to believe that my kids wouldn't make me step in goo, or that they wouldn't make me brush past a tree or a bench "on accident." It was also difficult physically, since I was wearing high heels! Imagine taking an unseen step, even in 3" heels!

Ultimately, the kids got a kick out of it, and I did not fall and crack my head open and die.

Thanks to Mr. Quijada for snapping some pics on his iPhone!

Plugging Away At This Test

There are about a million things I could be doing at the moment, but all energy left in me is being stored in reserve. I'm going to need it later this week, I'm sure. For now, I have senior finals to give. The Algebra 2 kids took theirs today, and even now at 4:o7pm, I still have one darling girl plugging away at this test. I don't think I made it too hard. Then again, I always say this and every year my kids give me grief.

I wrote out a grievance for a teacher today. No details (obviously) but I don't think I'm going to be successful. This person is a probationary teacher, and they enjoy very little protection under the collective bargaining agreement. Still, I would be remiss in my duties if I did not attempt even a single slingshot's stone at the LAUSD Goliath.

It seems strange that after all these months I would return to this site, but I've been largely ignoring my writing and this seems a tragedy. I don't let these thoughts out into the wilds of the internet much anymore, and given the circumstances of my existence at the moment, it would seem a tragedy to remain quiet.

I've retained the UTLA chapter co-chair position again this year. I'm honored, and slightly bewildered, that my colleagues place this trust in me. I feel much about it now as I did when I was editor in high school. Not only do I think not many people could do it, I'm certain now that there are not many who would do it. The duties, while easy and tolerable, take an emotional toll that taxes my psyche even more. As if dealing with my students' troubles were not enough!

As we near the last day of school, I am nonetheless quite excited about the progress at Crenshaw. It does not feel like the same campus. I only wish some friends had stayed to see it. You know who you are.