joshwriting: (Default)
One of the things I hate most is seeing injustice and being unable to communicate it effectively to those around me. To hear a casual insult and be told it is not there when I know not only that the other person will be hurt, but that there is good reason for it.

To be told that I am overreacting, again.

To be told I should stop trying to prevent such hurt.

S/he "didn't mean it."

Well, when the person in question has just said "I am going to continue saying what I want and do not care if others are hurt by it," then I do not think I am irrational for believing that the person is intentionally saying things that that person knows will hurt.

And I do not believe one should just stand by and let it happen.

I hate feeling lonely.
joshwriting: (Default)
Two Pesachs ago, I wrote the following to Sheroes Central:

The story of Passover is simultaneously one of redemption from servitude by G-d, and an explanation of what is wrong with slavery, to begin with.

The notion of people not being able to choose where to live, not being able to decide whether to remain to gether or not if maried, not being able to KNOW that if they have a child that that child will be left with them, not being able to decide what to do or whether or not to do anything at all - without fear of punishment... not being allowed to have property - but being property - these are all notions that are offensive, to the point of physical illness to me.

In the seder that we celebrate, we mourn, as all Jews do, the Egyptian dead from the 10 plagues visited upon the Pharoah's people - but we, as MANY Jews do, also mourn the so-called MODERN plagues: The making of war, the teaching of hate and violence, despoliation of the earth, perversion of justice and of government, fomenting of vice and crime, neglect of human needs, oppression of nations and peoples, corruotion of culture, subjugation of science and learning and human discourse, and the erosion of freedoms.

That there is still slavery on this planet is an afront to me. To you. To all of humanity.

That we allow - ALLOW! - children to starve in this country (US) goes beyond afront, because even the folks who do not want us to intervene in foreign affairs do not have that argument in this case. They can only argue "It is better that that child starve than that we make the effort to prevent it."

There is a passage in almost every haggadah that I have seen: "Let those who are less fortunate than us join us at this time and also at other times."

Do we? Did you?

Passover reminds me of how much work I have ahead of me. It reminds me of how little time I have in which to do it.

It reminds me of the hypocrites that we have in our political offices - and I do not mean just George Bush, and I do not mean just the Republicans or Just the Democrats, or Just the United States. I mean almost every government on the face of the planet.

It reminds me of the hypocrites in our houses of worship - both leaders and followers.

It reminds me of my own hypocrisy - the gaps between what I believe and what I do.

I am not saying that I am not a good person, please don't misunderstand. I am not saying that I do not do worthwhile things. I am saying that there is more. That I have not done growing. That I have more to do.

Please join me.
*****
There is also a command to reflect on the meaning of the story. All too often, as I see it, the story is told with as little exploration as possible, the goal is to tell the story and get on to the VERY sumptious meal.

So... reflect.
joshwriting: (Default)
I made mention of this, in my last post. Here it is, along with the major response and mt reply to that. (My typoes are left intact.)

Memories (posted by Joshshaine, OBOL, June 7 2003) )

Memories

Feb. 13th, 2005 12:02 am
joshwriting: (Default)
I wrote about this a bit before, I think. I talked about the bits of memory stored in paper which when thrown away mean the memory is lost forever.

I like other people's memories of me, I like hearing them. (No, not all of them, not all of the time.) They provide me with perspectives I do not get and sometimes total events I have no memory of.

Sometimes, I know, I think some body might be making up one of those memories for which I have no hooks whatsoever. Some of those memories are my favorites!

I am sorry for the things I do not remember - many of them, at least. I suspect that there are more neutral and positive memories I do not have than there are negative ones. But it is only a suspicion.

It sort of makes me appreciate the memories I do have more. And it makes me appreciate the new memories, as time goes by...

"You must remember this,
A kiss is still a kiss,
A sigh is still a sigh.

The fundamentals still apply,
As time goes by."
joshwriting: (Default)
Time - Spring, 1975
Place - Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Circumstance - I passed two course that year (though my annoying current version of transripts say I only passed one!) out of the twelve I took. I loved being there. My roommate passed one.

The excerpts below are from email messages, back before I had email or knew the word email. We exchanged messages back and forth, quickly, at times. At 10 or 11 at night. Or 1 or 2am. Not on monitors, but on printers, because that, too, was what was available to us. I was typing on a TTY. We would have been IMing, then, if it had existed. She was at a different college from me.

Dear Josh,

It is 10:00 wednesday night, and of course I am sitting here without having answered my mother's phone call of this morning. I don't even want to go back to my room... I have this dread that she and my father are there, waiting for me to come in that door... Melodramatics never helped anybody, but they certainly illistrate my point, don't they?


I hope I wasn't annoying you or getting in your way today.


Escape... I wonder if pressing this escape key here would help me any??? Just a psychological gesture, I am afraid... $$$ [editorial - those are the symbols from hitting an escape key on a TTY]

Would you really want to meet my parents, Josh? "Mom, Dad... guess who's coming to dinner?"...

I'm going to try to stand up to them, Josh... I have to. IF I don't, I really don't see how I could ever face myself or anybody else again... I mean, what kind of a person do I claim to be, if I can't stand up for my own rights? I can't always have someone do everything for me...



The more I think about it, the more I feel terrible about dumping all of my problems on you like this... Something more to add to my guilt complex... Because, after all, you are not "Uncle Josh" and I have no right to go and ask you to think about my dumb problems when you must have enough of your own...



...I should just talk myself into not caring any more... I dunno.
********

She wasn't unfair then. It wasn't unreasonable. I wasn't bored. Or annoyed.

But her worries then sound strikingly familiar.

And so does the conversation as a whole. Not the specifics, but the tone.

On both sides, now that I think of it.
joshwriting: (Default)
The time - Late Spring, 1972
The place - Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH)
The situation - I am about to be required to go to summer school to be able to saty at NMH, because of poor grades, caused by, variously, poor attendence, lack of turned in homework, and inability to figure out how to learn that which was hard.

June 6, 1972
Tuesday

Dear Josh,

I want to thank you for the help you gave me this term in Math. I assure you that your efforts are certainly appreciated and that if it weren't for you, my problems in Math would have been magnified...

The grades have not arrived yet, but hopefully I passed; I'll let you know what happens when the report card come.

Nothing much left to say, although I hope you are having a fun vacation and that your brother had a good wedding. By the way, my father let me drive home from the airport last week! He wouldn;t have if I hadn't tried, so thanks for encouraging me when I needed it.

Good luck.

Sincerely,

(signature of R.S.)

P.S. I start my Algebra course next week. I should "ace it."

*****
R.S. was a junior while I was a sophomore. I was going on academic probation.

He did pass that term, and went on to graduate on time and go to college. He was much better with language than with math - and I think he is a professional writer to this day.
joshwriting: (Default)
I hated going up to bed, when I was a boy. I hated even more being made to go to sleep.

I would make clumpfing sounds as if I were climbing the stairs, to make my folks think that I had gone - and then sit on teh bottom stair, and listen to the conversations or the television or anything that let me remain connected to people.

I would, inevitably, be found and then escorted up - and a little later, I would sneak down again.

How many times we went through that dance I cannot even begin to remember!

Once I was upstairs (Get into bed. get into bed! GET INTO BED!!), I was likely to play with toys or read comics or do anything (but homework) that would put off the actualy time I got into bed.

And then, finally, the last refuge: Reading. Reading by the hallwayt light, if it was left on and the door was open a crack. Reading by the nightlight, if it was bright enough (which it seldom was). And, of course, reading by flashlight, under the blankets.

It is unclear to me if I read more under the covers than above them. I certainly know I did my part to enrich the battery companies - and batteries lasted longer then than they do now! But reading under the covers allowed me to read without getting caught.

Well... maybe not. I think I must have gotten caught about 9 times out of 10. But how do you punish a child for reading under the covers?! Somehow, taking away books seemed counter-productive - don't parents WANT kids to read?!

The sound of the footsteps, the rapid hiding of the book under the pillow and the light switching (shhhhh) off... Closing my eyes and breathing like a sleeping person (I hoped)... waiting to see if she KNEW I was awake.

I am sure that I probably did not pull the wool over her eyes even once - in retrospect - but I thought I had, on many occasions.

I still, sometimes, read under the covers... and lose sleep over my reading habits.

But I wouldn't give it up for the world!
joshwriting: (Default)
For SO long in my life, friends were a rare or non-existent part of my life.

David gets thanks, because without him, there would have been nobody. Yeah - towaard the last few years, I would have been happier/more comfortable if he had understood me better - but even the parts he COULD have understood I needed changed in our interactions I could not tell him - the parts he would not have gotten, I cannot imagine even TRYING to tell him.

Andy was okay. Not really there. I am not sure that I was really there either.

The members of the Alchemists Subterranean Society were my first clue that I was not alone.

And Betsy changed my life. W/o Betsy, I do not know if I would have been ready for ESP and the MIT folks... My first friend - let alone my first girlfriend.

*********
The change from pre-college to college age was stark. Not that I found so many friends AT college - but it led me to where I did.

Many.

The notion of friend, which had been so alien to me, grew quickly to a place of need, not convenience, once I understood the concept! The friends I made through ESP... through Science Fiction... through Chess... these are folks who made a difference - even if they passed on through.

Some of them, I still account as friends - though we do not speak often. They are people with whom I would enjoy reconnecting, even as I fail to do it. So, knowing that I skip some, I list them anyway - for a period and of a sort...

Misty, Audrey, CJ, Becca, Mike D, Tim (who died too young) and Gil and the rest of the Amber Society, Elaine (Rueben T, Shava), Pat, Colleen, Mimi, Renee, Lorelei, Beth, and and and...

Many, many - who made my life happier, made it fuller - and to whom I would be hard pressed NOT to offer thanks, for their friendships... and maybe I will give some of them a call or drop them an email...

But today?
joshwriting: (Default)
There were several teachers along the way whose help was notable...

Mr. Ordway, my 7th grade math teacher was teh first teacher with whom I had success. Just success.

My 9th grade math teacher got herself fired by telling me to get out of that shcool. She was right - and she got out first!

My senior year psychology teacher, Chuck Kalinski, has provided for me a model of caring for students beyond the classroom - and for bringing subjects to life - or at least avoiding putting the students TOTALLY to sleep...

Hmm... I think I will see if I can drag him to BIQ Boston this cycle!

John Day let me act. On stage. In front of people. It was wonderful!

Dr. Andrews let 19 year old Josh into his graduate course on educational change, along with a couple superintendents and principals, the head of the Division for Youth Services, and other adults... And taught a great course, whose material I still apply! And he lives not too far away either...

Don Oliver taught by Socratic Method - but had 90 students. It didn;t work for the overwhelming majority of students. It did for me. Education and Community is a book he wrote that I went to find after the course. It and he propelled my views of what an educational institution should and could be.

He taught me about burn out - and why I needed to avoid it.

My mom. She taught me to write. It has stood both of us in VERY good stead. She did not teach me formally - and frequently, it happened in passing, not directly - I suspect that that was best...

Hmm... I think that is about it. There were many other lessons that my teachers over the decades have taught me - "socio-cognitive foundations of behavior," "if you can't wash your hands well enough, then we will humiliate you," "it doesn't matter oif you knwo the material - it matters if you do it as I have TOLD you to do it."

I am not sure that I owe these folks even the thanks of teaching me what I did NOT want to be. I would like to think THOSE are things I would have learned on my own...
joshwriting: (Default)
retake - the computer ate the first version.

I talk with folks about why they should get up in the morning, why they should continue living. We discuss why I think they WILL make a difference in their lives and how important it is that they continue living.

How can I possibly know that they will be important, when they are so young now? I have shared that when I was 14, 15, 16, and more, that I thought I was worthless - that I WAS worthless... and that if I am not now, then perhaps I never was - and that THEY, too, could be (and are) mistaken about their own worth.

They respond "but, Josh - you ARE important! You DO change lives!"
*****
When I was a freshman at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a pair offellow students, Bruce and Alicia, each told me about the MIT High School Studies Program. (Bruce also told me about his delightful girlfriend, whom he wanted me to meet and whom he knew through the Program.)

As a result of these conversations, I went with Bruce to visit the MIT Program.
*****
(at this point, I am going to skip the 7 or 10 paragraphs I wrote a few minutes ago and had wiped out - but I will rewrite them later.)
*****
I have been with the folks at MIT ever since. I have entered my 30th year of affiliation with the MIT Educational Studies Program (ESP). Without ESP, I would not have gone into Gifted Education as a field. Without ESP, therefore, I would not have gone to Gifted Conferences. Nor, therefore, have run them. And therefore, I would not have met Tammy (Tamora Pierce, for those not payng attention to my life).

And without Tammy, I would not be involved with Sheroes.

Let alone that without ESP, I might not have survived until this age, because I not only found a career, I found life...

Thank you, Bruce. I have not talked to you in about a decade - and we were never as close after the 70's as we were during them. But you changed my life, without knowing it, without meaning to.

Thank you, Alicia. You, I lost track of (by your choice, I suspect) before you would even have graduated from college. But you STILL were instrumental in changing my life. It was an accident, I suppose. Fortuitous...

Thank you, Cathy. Of the three, you were most conscious of changing my life - and understood me the best. But even at that, I doubt that at the outset, you had a clue about the impact on me. Still, Cathy, thank you - my life was richer THEN for my knowing you - but richer by far, for your knowing ME.

Loneliness

Nov. 2nd, 2003 03:19 am
joshwriting: (Default)
Reading about loneliness prompts my own observations on the subject. And as I have been meaning to write abou tthis topic for a week or three, I suppose I might as well do it now.

For me, one of the biggest drawbacks of being in NYC is that it is isolating for me. It might not be quite so isolating if Valerie were around, but mostly she is not.

Connecting withthe folks I know in and around the city is non-trivial - and I have not quite figured out why - though my work schedule is certainly part of it. I know so many folks, though, that I OUGHT to be able to connect with some of them, yet...

ANd living alone is not healthy for a Josh. This experiment has already been tried - and been demonstratedly deleterious. George and Loius (the ats) do not replace people.

Ah well - the time in NYC is drawing to a close, I hope and believe - one way or another.
joshwriting: (Default)
This was originally sent as a post to an e-mail list to which I was then a member. The content has been reviewed - and if my inclusions offend anyone, I am sorry. It was not my intention - my intention was merely to leave the writing intact. I have added one word, in parentheses, because the distribution is to people less familiar with the topic amended than the former audience. I have added an e here and taken one from there. But this is mostly as it was first written, on November 10, 2001. Please feel free to share this as you like, remembering to share also, that it, as with Uncle Eddie, was and is very much mine.

(This is just a sharing. No advice, no request for help... Not even needing sympathy. Purely reflection.)

Some of you know me, know my love for your children, though I have none of my own. Some of you know my sister, also on list, though just a little quieter than I. We are bright capable individuals - not dissimilar to many of the parents or other professionals on the list.

A few of you have met my parents, at either Hollingworth or Beyond IQ (conferences). You may have even known that they were my parents. They, too, obviously fit in - sufficiently that one of PG's favorite speakers asked them if they would adopt (him/her)! - Much to my amusement.

My grandmother graduated from law school at 21, in 1917. Her dad was a 'typical' American dream success story - coming from the homeland to America with next to nothing and eventually owning and running a business
that employed a lot of other folks, and making a comfortable home for his family.

These are merely examples from a family tree - examples of a certain type. Eddie was not of that type.

Eddie was my favorite relative when I was growing up - my mother's uncle. We'd talk sports together in a way that nobody else could, he shared his stash of early baseball magazines and stories of this athlete or that
manager that he had gotten to know. They were wild stories told in a ranging manner with frequent interruptions for other stories that may or may not have any bearing on the story he had started with, but he usually finished that first story as well...

By the time I consciously knew Eddie, he had been married, had two children, a fair bit older than I, and divorced. I eventually became aware of them - but not interactively. Eddie was my pal.

I never saw him in his own place. When we got together, he was visiting my grandmother (his older sister), either at her home in Rhode Island or in her summer place in Maine. On a rare occasion, he would come by our place in NH or meet in the middle somewhere.

He had a room at Nana Jen's house. It was always his room, whether he was there when we visited or not. If I was there with my parents or my sister, I would stay in Eddie's room. Otherwise, I might stay in my mother's old room. (OZ books and Patty Fairfield books and other
treasures - but that's another story!)

In Eddie's room were little statuettes of Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson, programs from events at the Boston Garden or Madison Square Garden. Bio's of athletes, and just all kinds of stuff to look at and paw over. Staying in Eddie's room was more than a little like being with him. You couldn't start looking at one thing without another thing catching your attention
and pulling you away until, usually, you would get back around to that first thing.

Eddie was not a neat man. His room was not too bad, until you realized that my grandmother had a maid who would clean it regularly and that it was STILL a mess. He would never have his entire shirt tucked into his
trousers, no matter how he tried. He was a big man, barrel chested and barrel waisted. He sauntered and he ambled. He strolled and swayed. He ranged. He never walked or ran. He never hurried - never. "We'll get
there, me bucko! We'll get there. They wouldn't start without us." Time was magic around Uncle Eddie. He was never on time, and yet they never did seem to start anything without him. Not family events, but neither
the public events. If we were running late for a sporting event (which I would only know from hearing my parents comment upon it when he picked me up - **I** certainly had no time sense), inevitably there would be some pregame activity, and the game would not have started, though we arrived a half hour later than the event was advertised for.

His car was not neat either. He almost always drove a station wagon, and it was filled and more, almost every time I saw it. It had many of the same sorts of gems that his room did, but they were harder to find for the
debris scattered throughout. I guess that maid had something going for her. ;-) But he would toss whatever was in the front seat into the back, and I would climb on in.

He was a pretty safe driver, and certainly a calm one. Neither slow nor fast traffic seemed to do much to change his approach to the driving. "We'll get there, me bucko!" That may well have been what he said to
himself when he was going from point A to point B.

Uncle Eddie didn't have a job. Ever? I don't know. But during my life time of consciousness, he never had a job. A trust fund was established for him by his father and maintained by his siblings. I remember, when he turned 65, he showed a rarely seen awareness of himself and the world around him. "You suppose I should get a job now?!"

I'm told that he was 'normal' until after a bout of viral meningitis or some other disease - when he was still a teen... That the adults of that time and all the ones since had no idea what the problem was or why he was like this.

I also knew that (though they would say otherwise) my parents were afraid that in some way I might grow up to be like Uncle Eddie.

Eddie was known around Boston Garden. It was clear, as I grew older, that many of his stories were fabrications - but that many of them either had roots in the truth or were absolutely true - and that the craziness of the story was not the dividing line.

Eddie was, by some descriptions, a gambler. I don't think that this was true.

Eddie almost never won. And I think that this was intentional. Uncle Eddie had next to no use for money. It had one redeeming quality. He could use it to make others happy. And he did.

He would not stint, whether for seats or food. He wouldn't tell you that something "wasn't in the budget" - if that phrase had even made it into
the vernacular at that point... And if you asked him for a loan, he would not say "What do you need it for?" "When will you pay it back?" "You still haven't repaid the last one."

He would say "How much do you need?" "How soon do you need it?" "Can it wait until Wednesday?"

He introduced me to his friends and to those he thought were his friends. But even among the professional chiselers and touts, there was a warmth for Uncle Eddie. It wasn't, as some would say, that they just saw an easy mark, though they most certainly did, at that. They all had many more chances to take advantage of him then they did.

He was a favorite - and I believe that part of it was that he did not bear umbrage against those who thought they were taking from him. That he knew better than they did, and that he was giving to them in the only way they could accept - had he offered the money outright, they would have been hurt, and declined. But bad bets?! That was fine, and they would smile all the way to the bookie. I mean bank.

Uncle Eddie wrote music. He created a game. He co-invented the 24-second rule in Basketball (this from newspapers of the time, not from him).

And he gave things away.

Uncle Eddie died a few weeks ago, now - though in reality, he died quite a while before that... He was 92.

At his graveside service, the rabbi related snippets told him by his younger daughter. And part of that, in the short form, with no embellishments, included the time that he gave away a livingroom set and the time that he gave away a car.

Nobody knows now why he did those things. They put it down to his having been crazy, touched, not altogether there...



The world could use a little more of that sort of craziness. Maybe not a lot, but at least some...

And maybe I should not be so impatient.

"We'll get there, me bucko!"

Limits

May. 29th, 2003 02:45 pm
joshwriting: (Default)
As Rachel points out, and as I well know, everybody has limits.

And I know, Superman has limits and so did/does any Superhero you care to name.

So, I wish the limits were LESS limiting, then.

And, yes, of course. If they were higher, I would then reach them and try to stretch them, and again complain that they hold me back. And I would be right THEN too. I hate limits.

I want more screens to ype on and more hands and fingers with which to type. I wish more processing ability so that I can handle that increased load - or the load I already have - better.

I [b]KNOW[/b] that I am close to capacity for certain sorts of things... that there are only so many more conferences I can take on, or people with whom I am connecting DAILY to whom I can connect, and BE connected.

I resent it. Bitterly. There is more to be done.

It pisses me off when my vaunted communication skills feel worthless to me, when I CANNOT get the person on the other end to understand me, or when I CANNOT for the life of me fathom what they are thinking...

Especially when I DO get EXACTLY what they are thinking - and I KNOW what will reach them - but it is only time and BAD experiences. I KNOW (thank you very much, KD) that major growth seems to only come from major transformative experiences (read: No pain, no gain). But there MUST be a better way.

And I am NOT finding it. I am not finding it for ME and I am NOT finding it for them. For you.

I especially hate it when my limits hurt those I love - and I cannot (YET, dammit!) transcend those limits.

So, I have chosen a limiting behavior, and I am going to work on it. *snort* Again. Maybe THIS time, I can do it.

*sigh*

It beats not trying.

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