this one's for haley

Clark was helping the scouts by delivering flyers about the upcoming food drive. Here's what happened:

Clark: Hi. We're helping the local food bank and we'll be back in a week to pick up non-perishable food. If you have anything you want to donate, just leave it by your door.

Lady: Well, this is low-income housing, so I'll probably be getting your food.

Door closes.
End of story.


'baring our souls and telling the most appalling secrets'

One of the classes I took this fall was a leadership class. My classmates and I did projects and case studies and a therapy-inducing 360 review to evaluate and develop our leadership capacity. As the culminating project, we were asked to write a "This I believe" essay to help us identify our core values. Writing the essay was an interesting experience; it made me realize that while my values don't change easily or often, the way I choose to express them does. Needless to say, there were drafts and drafts of drafts before I was finished. The hardest part was knowing that I would have to deliver it as a speech to my class. How much of your soul can you comfortably share with relative strangers? Turns out, not very much; I prepared to get uncomfortable. Some of my classmates' essays were deeply personal, sharing details about losing children, finding forgiveness, and developing or losing faith. Others were more of the bullet point variety. I think mine lay somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Anyway, I figured if I could share it with them I could share it with you, so here it is:

December 2009

This I believe

I believe a culture that values education will thrive and grow. Education bears the fruit of tolerance, self-knowledge, and positive social change. I believe learning is its own reward and that those who believe money is their reward for education, will get it, and without much trouble but likely without much knowledge. While a college degree happens to be a strong social currency, Education and its applications are not and must not be confined to classrooms. Jed, a young student I met while working as a writing tutor, showed me this (names have, of course, been changed). He returned to college after serving a sentence for a felony conviction. While working together on his essays, he confided that by going to college, learning to focus on math and sociology and writing, he has also learned to control his anger. He now has some good friends, a scholarship, and a fresh start. I believe in education. I believe it is the best solution to long-term problems because it is the only long-term, transformative solution.

I believe in the power of food as a healing instrument and a means of cultural self-expression. Every day I make choices between options that are narrowed by a culture that is powered by corporations and industry. I have the power to take back my original, now invisible options. Common sense and communion and have given way to Gogurt and Gushers, fruit loops and high-fructose corn syrup. Before they came from multivitamins, nutrients came from food. Uncomplicated, unpackaged, unprocessed food. Last summer I found a part of myself as I learned to make cheese from milk as my great, great grandmother must have done, and yet another as I visited the farm where my food was grown and grew more vegetables in my own garden. I can comprehend, though vaguely, the complexities and joys of life halfway across the world as I parse a complicated curry or burn my first souffle. I believe Food is a way to simultaneously connect with the earth from which it came and the people who create meals from its bountiful ingredients. When I make deliberate choices about food, I recognize myself as a part of the whole.

I believe the mouth is one of the most important parts of the body. It is where nourishment enters body and the mind finds expression as ideas exit in the form of words. I believe that I, along with many others, would find more happiness and health if I guard more closely what goes in and what comes out. A large ship is indeed guided by a small rudder.

I believe in the transformative nature of words and ideas. Among others, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, and Harper Lee have shown me the power of words and parts of me are real products of their fictions. Scout’s innocence and evolving devotion to justice, Pip’s realization of his self-destructive search for external happiness, and Jean Val jean’s story of kindness, mercy, and personal redemption express some of the best parts of me and ideals to which I aspire.

Although I had read or been read to all my life, the first book I remember getting excited about is Johnny Tremain. I was ten, and my teacher had assigned the book. I read it twice, once for fun, and answered every question with a paragraph where a sentence would have sufficed. A new world had been opened. Reading has allowed me to glimpse the wonder of science, experience the beauty of a diverse humanity, and find companions in this human experience.

I believe that we are connected in ways we do not and cannot understand that are best expressed through literature. Poetry, once inaccessible to me, has given breath and validity to my own deepest emotions and core beliefs. With John Donne, I affirm that all mankind is of one author, no man is an island and that any man’s death diminishes me. I believe, like W.H. Auden, that we must love one another, or die. These words and ideas penned by great authors and poets have allowed me to think their thoughts and become, if only slightly, the product of their ideals. God bless Gutenberg.

Okay, bloggers, Consider yourselves "tagged." If you choose to blog a This I Believe essay, post a link in the comment section; I would love to read yours, now that I've borne my soul. It's a challenge, and knowing that someone else will read it changes the quality of the experience. You'll find instructions here. Who knows? You may like it so much that you'll want to go on the record by submitting it to the NPR Essay database.


the genuine (definite) article

Remember when Clark was studying his maths? Well, it was because he was prepping for the GRE and applying to graduate school. Now it's official; Clark is IN. He actually got notice over two weeks ago, sent in the commitment letter one week ago, but didn't want to announce to the world how awesome he is until things were squared away at work. Now things are squared, and Clark is awesome squared.

Beginning in January, Clark will be a graduate student in the Educational Technology Leadership program at The George Washington University (the 'The' is part of the name. Funny.). The program can be completed online; considering the field of study, it should be a great way to learn. With any luck, we'll graduate at the same time.