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Showing posts from January, 2010

I shouldn't drink coffee at 7PM.

Always want to be something that's not right here, not right now.
The worst Zen student ever, I must be perfect.
Never really picking up the great matter, but really looking for the great answer.

If the great answer ever had a face would it be easier to forget?

Is that like, "If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him"?

Can you not kill what you can't see?

What's with all the killing...

36 degrees

Very cold start in New Orleans this morning. Very grey.

It rained yesterday. I made the best of it. The students were anxious and ready to leave as soon as they arrived. Conflicting directions from the administrators didn't help the mood of anyone, as it made our morning routine a lot of hurry-up-and-wait.

I fought hard for the students to be given a break. They tested for four days straight, from 8:30 to 4:00, following up with tutoring until 5. I told them friday would be a day of activity and reflection. Then I was told there was just one more section of the test they would need to take...

First, I objected because I had already told them we were finished. I did this in front of the class. I did it on purpose, because I knew I wasn't going to win, and I knew this new turn of events was going to damage their trust in me as their teacher. Secondly, I objected because another student advocate, the dean, had planned a high school vist for Friday morning until 10:00. Apparently, th…

Finally woke up!

I've been trying to wake up at five thirty all week, and like every week, on some random day, I actually did it. It happened to be Friday, of all days.

I usually don't remember what I'm supposed to be doing. I haven't been sitting much Zazen, so it doesn't come to mind. It came to mind this morning when I remembered the church bells ring at 6- so it would be a perfect half hour to sit for. It's a start for now. I've lost my morning routine. I've been going to work around 7:40.

Mornings are really important to me. The best mornings I remember were the ones I spent in Alaska. I was alone, the cabin was small, and I wrote up a storm. There was no access to coffee, so green tea was the norm, and I remember how quiet the mountains were. I'd read anything! I ran out of books about two months in my trip, and at one point I found myself reading a 1,000 page text about science.

I had these long morning that started at 4:30 or so. I'd feed the sled dogs an…

One foot after the other.

Really, really, didn't want to go to work today. Didn't feel like rushing out of my house. Felt like listening to the radio in my pajamas, drinking coffee, and reading blogs. Had a little debate with myself and then my fiance.

I wanted to argue that because I worked last Saturday, that I tutored every day until 5:30, and I hadn't seen a planning period all week, that I should get to stay home. She reminded me that I took this job. Told them I'd be there Monday through Friday. So I got my ass out of bed. Went it to organized chaos.

I tackled it. It wasn't so smooth. I looked around and I didn't accept things I knew I could change. Yelled enough.

Frustrated. Great odds, meek support. Most of my students are ready for ELA but if their math doesn't improve in 30 days, it won't matter. They'll fail their big state test. So, I told my homeroom, come Monday, their English teacher will be teaching them Math in the morning. They were okay with that. They're…

Nothing but pig wings.

Sometimes you have to admit you've fallen into an obsession.

Obsessions can be a bit ugly to watch- like a child running down an aisle and grabbing everything in sight. Where did this military obsession come from?

I guess that doesn't matter, because here it is, in my lap.

Do I know anything? Do I know that deployments are real? That 15 months could be a lifetime?

Am I not recognizing what I already am? Just a middle school teacher. Just a Bodhisattva that wants a little chaos.

Funny, most people would think an inner city school would be chaos enough. It's greatly improved from when I started, but I think it would still spin a couple heads.

I think I'm wrong. Are these settling pains working their way out like pieces of glass?

I think I'll shut up and sit still. It's worked so well in the past.

"You think outside about ten boxes."

My fiance provided the title for this blog. Zen, military, A.A, teaching inner city kids, video games, fast car, video games, home repairs, cooking meals, writing, reading, running, loving, family, adventure - these are my boxes, I think.

Life is pretty outrageous. The places we end up, the places we choose to go, the costumes we wear, the ideas we keep like kites on a string- I have to say I've had a lot of fun.

Speaking of fun, tomorrow, I'll teach until 1 and then I go to take my ASVAB. I'm seriously considering, for the third time in my life, joining the military (as a reserve). This time, for the first time, it's Army, instead of the Marines. For one, I'm screened out of the Marines because of my sleeve of tattoos. I don't even remember getting a sleeve of tattoos, but there it is, bright as a rainbow. And two, the MOS availability, the bonuses, and accommodations the Army makes is more suitable for my life style, except of course for the long deployments, w…

How smooth are things?

Rubble and bleeding brown skin hits close to home for me. Horrible images and horrible sympathy for my students. A good many of my students fell into the socieo-economic group whose only recourse was to hope for a spot in the super dome, during Katrina. I was already back at college in Pennsylvania. My parents easily escaped. But some of my students stayed and saw horrible things. Some did horrible things.

I'm thinking of one of my students who saw a murderer killed in the super dome. He remembers how the M16s tore through the body. He was about eleven.

My family didn't have the easiest time either. 9 feet of water in St. Benard Parish. Never saw that house again. By the time I got back, it was swept away by organizations, mostly christian.

In post-Katrina New Orleans, things are better? That student has had more than one gun in his face for bicycles or ipods.

I don't see my job as easy, either. I often don't feel that I'm doing all that good. That I'm just putt…

Too much or too little.

How do we practice the way without too much regret or too much pride? How do we really act?

I didn't sit this morning, but I did wake up. I forgot that physically getting out of bed is a start to "waking."

Sometimes it's like walking into a room and seeing all the disarray. How do you not feel overwhelmed? Instead, how do you just start cleaning? I think the first thing is to accept that the room is a mess. You can't clean a clean room.

All these questions. I once heard my teacher say, "I only asked Deshimaru one question during my 10 years with him." He was bragging, I thought. I'm not sure what he meant. He said this in response to all of our questions, which we ask over and over. I do ask questions over and over. Some I've been asking for years.

The great matter seems a curse some days. It's always there, won't ever go away. Seems inevitable that I would become aware of it. How do we address it? I only know zazen and right livelihood.


I was thinking about closing this blog and starting something new. Ariel Pork sounds so desperate, so existential- so messed up. I was thinking, "Ariel Pork isn't me."

I had a better idea for what "me" should look like. Let me fes up.

I'm not sitting zazen. I stopped about a month ago. Maybe I sit once a week. I'm a bad Buddhist. 30 whacks if you do, 30 whacks if you don't. But I want to practice. I want a lot of things. My intentions are never lacking. But what good are intentions?

They'll have to be good enough until I get on my feet again, or zafu, if you will. Big life changes. I'm engaged. She's wonderful. Am I?

Trying to be, so ideas come in- how do I be the best me? What is the best me? Why am I 27 and a little confused about that? Very confused. But sitting still. Still teaching. Still...not thinking. Just doing. Movin' on with that which never really moves. That, uh, restlessness. She loves me just the way I am.

There are a fe…