All the news that's fit to print
Nothing against Travis Kelce. He plays football very well and is a goofball. But shouldn't Taylor Swift be able to find someone who, I dunno, makes sculptures on Bali out of palm trees, Christmas lights, and trash bags?
A high school teacher of mine said--this was around 1995--that class in America was hidden. His examples: a museum curator might make less than 30k but be invited to all the parties worth going to. Donald Trump, by contrast, would not get those invites. The teacher specifically called him out. I feel like this was true. Now there's no sense there's anything higher than fame, money, or "influence." I'm not saying we need classism or elitism. But a complete lack of class, well, is just that.
We need to talk about prisons and child malnutrition
An indisputable 8th Amendment violation: Texas prisoners dying in prisons without air conditioning. I showed the below video to my Federal Government classes and they listened to every syllable uttered by the formerly incarcerated. I would appreciate if you watched the video and shared it everywhere. People are burning to death in Texas prisons and we have not seriously undertaken a body count. It's hard to imagine a bigger societal and political failure.
You're also going to want to listen to this pediatrician talk about how the expiration of the child tax credit means children are starving. There's really no other way to say it: they're coming to the doctor malnourished. It's difficult to listen to, but this is what I shared with my class to introduce the concept of policy. Whether one agrees with the doctor's specific prescription or not, the country has needs which must be addressed.
The "otherwise peaceful quiet:" Kyla Houbolt, "early"
Busy-ness and its associated anxieties, I believe, can be an amplified effect. By that I mean something quite common: we feel busy and stressed at moments we should feel free. But busy-ness is an echo that won't let go, a bad jingle for a bad product, "Mambo No. 5." It resounds as if it were alive. "[M]yself it speaks and spells, / Crying What I do is me: for that I came."
early (courtesy the poet's bluesky) Kyla Houbolt outside in the predawn, stars misted over, loud voices down the hill. fighting? not fighting. loud in the otherwise peaceful quiet. crickets and one frog. there are things I have told nobody else.
So yeah, I'm trying to get away from this curse. Houbolt's fourth line in "early" speaks the spaces I've found. "[O]therwise peaceful quiet" is the right phrase. I'll have my headphones on at Starbucks or people-watch from an outdoor bench. There's no peace; busy-ness intrudes. I'll list what I must do tomorrow or worry whether I dropped my credit card. There's something else, though, which Houbolt's poem addresses. You could sit "outside in the predawn," watch the "stars" misted over, and end up startled and wondering about the "loud voices down the hill." The interruption of peaceful quiet is one issue, but I wonder if the inability to identify the noise has priority. "[F]ighting? / not fighting," Houbolt writes about those "loud voices," and it's that ambiguity about one's own experience which intrigues me.
You can say there is no ambiguity. We try for peace, there's an interruption, the attempt fails. Nothing ambiguous about that! But true peace should be unassailable, no? We want a lasting, unalterable, calm state of mind. We're up early in order to give the day a foundation, our foundation. So I do think it's a problem that our understanding of the world is unstable. If we can't tell whether a fight is happening around us or not, how can we achieve the calm we need?
Houbolt's poem, I think, suggests we patch it together from what we find. (I do believe I'm becoming a better writer because I'm a better scrapbooker.) Look at the second half of her lyric:
...in the otherwise peaceful quiet.
crickets and one frog.
there are things I have told nobody
"[Q]uiet," "crickets," "one frog" don't just evoke haiku and its associated culture. They're also a gathering, a patching together. You take the contingent things and collect them. If you ask one thing to be completely stable, to be eternal, you may be asking too much. You've got to understand that you collect. You. That peace doesn't come from strength of will, but the knowledge that your witness is irreplaceable.