Showing posts from September, 2015

Everything Trumps Music

I'm at a loss. For a month now, I've been rolling with the punches at Margaret Scott. First it was my "room"--or, rather, the lack of a room. I was to teach music in Kindergarten and First and Second Grade classrooms in the morning, in the gym in the afternoon to Third, Fourth, and Fifth Graders. There was no portable available, and the room dividers I'd requested to mitigate noise and space issues in the gym had never been ordered. Most of the instruments I'd spent the last two years accumulating would be gathering dust in the gym storage room, too big to haul around from classroom to classroom and, with PE in the gym every morning, too delicate to leave out should I want to teach units using them to my afternoon classes. Then came a district-wide hit: the visionary administrator with a plan to put music back full-time in every building left for a position in another district. His replacement was a pencil-pusher with no ideas at all for restoring our pr

This Old House

An-di-fan, soon to be someone else's house of tranquility. I never had a home town, but I always had this house. My grandmother moved into the house on Baker Street in 1945. She'd been widowed for a year, and had decided to return to McMinnville to teach at Linfield College, where her husband had been president in the 1930s. Now, at the age of 54 (my age now), and for the first time in her adult life, she needed a house that was not provided by my grandfather's employment. The house on Baker Street had been built forty years earlier, and had been the home of a botanist. It stood on a double lot, the huge back garden filled with mature flora that he had planted. It had, the realtor told her, a good hearth, and this was important to her as she entered this new phase of her life. She named it "An-di-fan," after the name she and my grandfather took as missionaries in Shanghai. It was something of a pun on our Swedish family name of "Anderson," a

Back in the Gym

Remember this picture? This was my classroom when I started teaching in the Reynolds School District: a gymnasium. The acoustics were atrocious, the space made even the best-behaved kids a bit loopy, and I had to put all my equipment--truckloads of xylophones, metallophones, and whatever else I might be using--away in a storage room every afternoon, because I couldn't trust either the after school program or the evening basketball league to treat it with respect. That was my reality in two different schools for the entire year 2013-14, and led me to seek employment elsewhere during the summer. I didn't find any. When I came back to Scott Elementary a year ago, I found that my situation had partially improved: I was in a classroom now, though I had to share a third of it with a computer lab/English Language Development program. Most of the time, this wasn't too challenging: I could've used more room, and sometimes the more challenging kids would run to the oth


Rick Perry threw in the towel on his campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination last week. In his exit speech, he called Donald Trump a nativist--that is, one who demands favored status for established residents of a territory at the expense of more recent arrivals. Perry's correct: Trump's pronouncements have been all over the map on a variety of issues, but since announcing his candidacy in July, he's been steadfast on this one, and it's kept him at the top of the polls. There's a significant plurality in the Republican party who are eating up his tirades against immigration, and especially his talk of deporting not just Mexican citizens, but their entire families, including those who are US citizens. That plurality is not unique to America: throughout Europe, nativist parties, some of which were until recently avowedly neo-Nazi, have been growing in power. In France and Denmark, they've won control of the government, and they've done it by

A Very Methodist Excommunication

Candidate for ordination Ginny Mikita at the wedding of her friends, Rev. Benjamin and Monty Hutchison, in July. Despite all the smiles in the picture, it was a bittersweet occasion. United Methodist minister Benjamin Hutchison had resigned from his pastorate in order to marry his partner, Monty. I do not know the details of his exit from the ministry, but I expect they went like this: Ben was tired of playing the shell game of having his Staff Parish Committee, district superintendent, and bishop pretend not to know his housemate was also his life partner, parsing his language so as not to say the fatal words which would end his career: I'm gay. This is my lover. We're getting married. At some point, he told the wrong person the truth, and that person, rather than continue to skirt the Book of Discipline, told Ben he had two choices: resign or go on trial. He chose the first option, left his pastorate, and scheduled a wedding. The Hutchisons wanted a Methodist wedding,

Conscientious Rejection

No, I will not issue you a marriage license. Now leave me alone. Her name is Kim Davis, and what she's doing is seriously messing with my head. As a county clerk, part of her job is issuing marriage licenses to any applicants who meet a short list of requirements: be at least 18, bring your driver's license to apply, swear to not being married to anyone else, and don't be more closely related than second cousins. Being straight is no longer on that list. Kim Davis wishes it still was. She'd really rather not issue marriage licenses to gay couples. I know something about wishes. I wish summer was a week longer. I wish I had a classroom of my own to teach music in. I wish I didn't have to drive 35 minutes to get to work. I wish I could afford to travel more. I wish, I wish, I wish... As the saying goes, "If wishes were fishes, we'd all swim in riches." Since they're not, we don't. (Though given the state of the world's