Tag Archives: bloggers


25 Apr

View at Medium.com

What Course

26 Mar

img_2618Back from break, and we re-center where we’re centered.  In the classroom, exchanging ideas and thoughts and our perspectives on literature, craft, ideas themselves.  Today we start with ourselves… everyone in the classroom, around us.  Ask them a question, tell them something about yourself and ask them something about their story.  The way community is established in a classroom is to have understandings compile IN the classroom, yes, but FOR the room and all occupying it.

With only a few weeks left, we write.  We read, react.  What we’ve been doing till now, but with more fervor.  With more precision and more direction.  More of our Self into what we write, what we read, into this very room.  Don’t dismiss the idea of the Room, and what it holds, what you contribute to it, how the story stroll toward us and around us, right here.  Back from our time off, we begin defining our composition, our character, the composition and coherence about our characters.  This is actuated by speaking with each other in the perpetuation of ideas exchange, but as well through writing.  Writing for ourselves, seeking and accruing knowledge at our own order and volition.  Center yourself in your own thoughts, then share that with the person next to you, then the other side, then to your 12, 6.  Keep the idea expansiveness ever-expanded.

As a student, you’re a teacher.  You’re your best teacher, you’re an educator of educators in this room.  We only stop if we let ourselves.  Composition of character… right here in the room.  Yes, we’re here for some grade or to satisfy some departmental or institutional requirement, but more staunchly for our stories, our character growth and telling.  After a break, I so often hear students express annoyance with the break’s conclusion, that they have to be back on campus, back in class, back in the act, in their matriculated role.  One, you don’t have to do anything or be anywhere you don’t order.  And, 2, why not seek to end the term with unusually bizarre strength and zeal… why not test yourself?  Why not mold and assemble more ideas?  Returning from break, why not see what you see?  You’ll find new peace in this new approach, if it’s inaugural for you.

Fashion your ideas from fervor.  From an elevated and renewed momentum, coming back from Spring Break.  Even before we start the next and final book for the semester, let us just dive into our own postulations and creations, our own not-at-all idle ideations.  Outside, new weather and new sky, a new consideration of everything around us, outside and in this room.  Let’s propagate and multiply in our thoughts, in what we learn from each other, from the stories and intersections, new thoughts and thoughts you may have had just earlier today.  Exhibit bravado coupled with certain shyness, offer grace, curiosity, playfulness.  Today, we write.  Today we learn, and right now we are here, coming back from break.  And then….


Speak to all around you.



7 Feb

Define critical thinking.  And, not what a dictionary says for the two words, or what you’ve been told it means.  What I’m asking is how YOU understand critical thinking.  Provide some examples… how does it work, how does it work for you?  What value does critical thinking have outside an English class?


22 Jan

Talk to your day.  Tell it what you want.  Don’t hope that it will work for you.  Steer, push down on pedal, go faster, take notes, log your sights and observations and what you’re learning.  The day will teach you but you have to inviting of lesson.

Prompt—  Write where you are, right now, and everything in your scene.

21 Jan

Sitting in one-person sofa chair, looking around out of corners, eyes, two men in two sofa seats in front of me, talking about something intense or serious, middle-age man-y— younger couple right, sitting next to each other and not in front of the other, table blocks their faces so I can’t tell mood.  Don’t need to know.  I imagine them talking about moving in together, talking about marriage one day possibly, and how both act like that’s what they want to do but neither is sold on the idea.  I assign them identities and wishes, morning routines and coffee orders.  He with a regular coffee while she gets her usual, a venti latte something, with a little vanilla and something I’ve never heard of.  She orders those kinds of drinks where you’re standing behind them in line and thinking, “What is that?” Or “What does that mean?”

Large group of people, at longer larger table, talking with each other like they meet here every Sunday for some discussion routine, where they talk about politics, believing everything that the other utters is vulnerary, that it will heal.  There is a discernible leader, he speaks like his words and syllables are ideological anecdotes the world has never seen.  I can nearly hear him over this beat now playing.  I try to tune him out, but it’s infecting my scene.  Volume up… and I return to the young couple whose faces are censored by the horizontal expanse of a table.

Then there’s me, here in this chair writing about them and thinking about the day, after this Windsor Starbucks stop.  What will I do and why.  Why.  Why is my question, this semester.  Not a question but a statement begging more inquiry into self and what I want from this sitting.  Reminded I’m in control, but at time’s pleasurable play plate.  I look up and the man whose face I can see nods and shakes with everything his friend proclaims, if he’s proclaiming anything.  A coffee shop, stop, spot, more than a spot on a map but a temple, of lives and mornings, nights-before, healing, people, lives that intersect with other lives accidentally and with measure.

“…and after’s not bad,” a lady at the long table says.  Tempted to take out phone from right ear but that would reveal too much, tell too much.  Far beyond what my professors warned me against concerning exposition.  Everything is here, everything of our story, collective and individual.  Life, more than short.  This store makes me again interrogate self, why waste any time.  On anything.  With any character that doesn’t contribute positively to the experiential map.  What could she have been talking about, though.  Part of me has to know.  After what?  Some trial, some test, some struggle.  Before and after, like before I arrived here and now that I’m in this one-character sofa.

I zone out, staring out the window at the people waiting in their cars for the drive-through.  What does he order?  Probably a coffee like the other guy.  He has a hood on.  That’s why.  Must work construction.  Probably lives close by and commutes to Santa Rosa or Petaluma.  He looks up, sees me, more than likely wonders what I’m doing.  One thing we have in common.

Spring Into

17 Jan

First day of term.  Spring.  New year.  And I’m burning up in this new sweater.  Either way I’m with more energy probably than I need, ready for class and generation of new ideas, words back and forth with new people.  Why not be ablaze, today?  Or any day.  With friends of mine having loved ones fall ill, there is no time.  Some say, no time like the present.  No.  There is just no time.  So on this first day I’m in character… MY character, MY story, taking me to MY. Road.  People around me making copies and going back and forth from building to building, not sure where they are and asking others where to go.  Former student asking me where this one hall is, forgot the name.  Ashamed, told him I didn’t know but I thought it was behind the library, a math building.  All those other majors, and I know that sounds derogatory, are tucked in the old building behind the library.  I’m escaping, writing in my usual spot.  Department admin off to make more copies and I’m more ready than I’ve ever been on the first day.

Then I realize that every day is a first day, or at at least a new day with a new canvas, a new something, where you can use what you have in some different way.  The paralipsis is everywhere around me… Go, Mikey, GO.  I will, I am.  This new semester, can forget this, what I am right now and what I feel.. electrical storm in my creative ebb of ebbs.  We need to start this semester with wild vigor, start writing immediately.  And if not actually writing, then moving.  Doing something.  For us.  We are here for our stories and sharing our stories with the people around us is not only a kind act, but a furthering gesture.  Getting you closer to where you see yourself, and helping all around you as well.

Books at my right, only two of the required’s for term.  Emma by Austen, The Year Of Magical Thinking by Didion.  What will students have to say about these texts, the ideas I offer.  Like a film or novel, just at the inception… asking yourself, “What will happen?” We need to know but we also don’t want to know, or at least right away.  Little over two hours till I’m on stage, on front of the class, where I have to do my job but it has never really felt like a job.  Of course, you have those terms that are a bit of a challenge, but perspective… I always stress perspective with classes.  As that is what punctuates mood and vision, the progression of the story, YOUR bloody story.

This semester is a semester of semesters for us.  This new year, fires behind us.  Strength, forward, creative and defiance of any nay-say.  You know what you want… then start now.  Before we’ve even really started.  Teachers all around me, a bit frantic but with the same propulsion and smiley zeal as me.  Let’s all do this.  Let’s all only continue with daunting yes’s.  You reach a point in your story where the nay and anything that doesn’t elevate just becomes inadmissible.  Be there.  I promise you, that’s where the gems are.

First day of term.  The first day isn’t a first day, but a new chapter and page set.  What do you want?  What can you do for YOU?  I used to ask students what I could do for them, but I can do very little beyond generating ideas, and I only help, at that.  Self is where the paragraphs start.  Why have I not seen this in other terms, in the past, the way I’m seeing so now?  What does it matter.  I’m here.  Now.  With you all.  Let’s create not only a community in here, but a tireless yay-saying tell.  Of course, there will be challenges and some days where we’re not as fiery as others, but that’s life.  And life, is more than merely short.  It’s predicated on time, and time is curt, cruel. We fight back against time with time, how we use it and what we create for ourselves in its monstrous palm.

Don’t let there be a creative pause.  Just keep writing.  Don’t delete anything.  Re-write, sure… but never delete.  You wrote something for a reason.  You did something because in the moment you thought it warranted and necessitated, somehow.  Don’t pause, but propel.  Block the negative tremors from your immediacy.  You need be the tsunami of positivity and your own expanse of poetry.  I don’t necessarily find such thinking magical, but I do see it as something worth entertaining.  What’s the worst that could happen.  You make mistakes, maybe even mammoth ones?  So what.  You want to make mistakes.  Mistakes are invitations, often unintentional gifts from you to YOU.  In this new semester, gift yourself with perspective, and a bright understanding that you will make mistakes.

In a lighter light, thank goodness for coffee.  This room I’m in has suddenly fallen to a bit of a chill. Wonder if the AC is on, accidentally, or something.  I sip, and feel evermore ready for the first class.  Only abetting my creative positivism, this morning, since I woke and since getting out of shower and looking at notebook, what I last night jotted about notes and note taking… to always be doing so. More than tireless.  More than fanatical and fervent.  Then, what?  I don’t know.  I don’t have a word, or category for it.  I go blank.  I’m not blocked, just blank.  For a second.  Then another sip and I’m off.

Day 1.  What will life be in Week 18, or whatever the last week is?  We partially demand that now, through our actuations.  On this first day, establish your character.  Be present with all new ideas and words, pieces and practices.  Keep your mind, and the pen, YOU, motioned.  Tell yourself, “GO.” And keep going.  Defy pauses, and stay far from self-doubt’s audits.



6 Dec

Prohibit yourself today from feeling, knowing, sensing, or even slightly choosing fear.