Why not...

My last of twenty-seven years in the secondary classroom, my baby just now in college, a government and economy looking like something out of Duck Soup, a pituitary tumor, chronic migraines... Hell, why not write a blog?

(My students are now gone. I'm now a civilian and really no longer a "lame duck." I hope the readers of Mama Duck will come to my new blog for some new writing and new directions. My new blog is at: Writing Isle to Isle.)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Alice in Wonderland says "Hellooooo 2012!"

Su Blackwell's Down the Rabbit Hole

Well folks, December was a total loss as far as posting on the blog. I started a piece called “Down the Rabbit Hole,” which followed the frenetic pace of the month as if I were Alice tumbling down into Carroll’s surreal world. I fell past December task after December task. I met Mitt Romney the Dormouse. But the writing lurched when I had trouble deciding just who to make the Mad Hatter—Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, or my superintendent. Oh, my…the choices, decisions, and online shopping. I just couldn’t put it all together. And many of you don’t know this about me, but it’s healthy that I didn’t finish it; I didn’t make it Martha-fucking Stewart perfect. I let it go. In December. Good for me!

All of it took a different surreal turn on December 17th when we boarded a plane to Kona. There, I floated in a dreamlike bliss of turtle swims, Pele visits, spending time with my family and one of my best friends, and sipping the Kona coffee my neurologist had just told me I should try giving up. (Really? I’ve given everything else up—now coffee too? But it helps my migraines. It’s a variable. So it’s being reduced. I may show up on America’s Most Wanted soon.) My neurologist, Dr. Sylvia Lucas, MD PhD is an amazing migraine specialist in the Pacific Northwest. And if she demands that requirement, then God damn it, I’ll do it. I’m breaking my usual rule of no-names on this blog to mention her. She’s not only a great researcher and started the Headache Center at the University of Washington Medical Center, but she is by far the most personable, down-to-earth, easy-to-talk to doctor I’ve ever had. I absolutely adore this woman, and I wish every patient had a doctor like her. Somebody should tape her interactions with patients and use those as training DVDs for interns. Title them “How to be brilliant and listen to those who aren’t as brilliant but are in pain.”

We just got back from our Big Island idyll in time to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary, New Year’s Eve. Our celebrations are always at home where we see plenty of fireworks by looking out across Puget Sound. I don’t like to be on the roads on New Year’s Eve, and even if we felt adventuresome, we couldn’t abandon our Border Collie who needs our emotional support at midnight when expensive fireworks are inevitably set off about a block from our house down on the water. It happens twice a year there. It’s a little vacation house that people only come to a few times a year. When they do, they bring fireworks that—even if they’d purchased them on a reservation—are so lavish and expensive, the money spent on them could have easily purchased two tickets to Kona. I don’t get it and neither does our Border Collie. She barks nonstop panicked and pacing. So our New Year’s Eve is the countdown, a kiss, and then let the barking and dog whispering begin.

As the morning breaks, even though I don’t officially set New Year’s resolutions, for I think self-improvement goals much more appropriate after bouts of illness, or the illness of a friend, or a near car crash—I do hope you’ll indulge this list of things I will attempt to see more clearly in 2012. I find that when I get myself into the most trouble, is when I haven’t stopped to look at things that frustrate me through another lens. Here’s what I’ll try to see:

1. I will try to see that when my “constitutional law president” signs a bill that allows both his administration and future administrations (crazy-ass as they may be) to militarily detain people without any geographic limitations whatsoever, violating international law simply because “it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war” that I need to see it as positive. After all, I just have to repeat to myself, “same shit, different bill, same shit different bill…” since the Obama Administration already had been indefinitely detaining terrorist suspects. I have to just say, since he’s a Democrat and I voted for him, it’s okay that he can indefinitely detain me as a terrorist if the FBI doesn’t like this blog and thinks it a threat to national security. After all, I do say “fuck” a lot.

2. I will try not to flinch when my superintendent says, “I honor the work you teachers do.” (He’s never been a teacher or spent time in the classroom.) I will attempt to count to five before I roll my eyes when he looks past me or any other woman to talk to my husband or any other man. I’ll attempt to look at the district as a fiscal entity and not as a place where students are inspired and challenged and offered the opportunity of in-depth learning. Perhaps I’ll buy a piggy bank and place it on my desk at school to remind me of the new role of public schools.

3.  When I get frustrated and angry with my principal, I’ll attempt to see the woman inside her that struggles with family and health and a boss from hell. I’ll try to remember the principal she once was before she learned to prevaricate her way through years of community scrutiny and this new Napoleonic super. I’ll attempt to conjure up the image of that sturdy woman who held us all together after a student was killed by her father; the principal I hugged tightly on that day and said, “I’m so proud to work with you.”

4.  I will try not to think of Republicans one-dimensionally. After all, the party is now a veritable Joseph’s coat of many colors, and for those who remember that Old Testament story, such flashy patchwork manifestations only end in more boasting, suspicion, and envy within a family. No, the Republican Party is a family of brilliant colors. I will try to see them not for their biblical rhetoric, but for their biblical metaphorical significance.

5. I will attempt to see automated customer service the way an automated customer might see it. And when, after listening to the phrase “Thank you for waiting, we care about your business” for the fifteenth time, I’ll merely nod like the automaton I’ve become on the other end and grin like an appliance. If, and when I get a real person on the other end, I won’t change my tone if I detect a Bangalori affect. I’ll maintain my slow, deliberate, blender speed and get the help I need. No synapses in my head will fire the notions human labor replaced by computers, nor outsourcing, nor a loss of service business. Nor will I replay my usual internal tape of “Yeah, right…and they want public education to apply the standards of private enterprise to the public sector.” So help me God I won’t!

6. I will begin to enjoy the increased volume of commercials during my favorite television programs. I don't have many favorite television programs, and many of them are news programs, so to DVR them and watch them later is pointless. I will especially appreciate loud pharmaceutical ads that list possible side effects like "watery bowels" and "erections lasting more than four hours." You just never know at my age when this information might come in handy for a woman.

7. I’ll attempt to see the world the way Michele Bachmann does. So that means if (God forbid) my daughter is raped and becomes pregnant, I’m duty bound to require her to have the baby. Fiscally na├»ve minorities caused the 2008 financial crisis. There’s no global warming, evolution is a hoax and “intelligent design” should be taught in public schools. The HPV vaccine causes mental retardation. My dear friends who are gay have “identity disorders,” and Bachmann is a messenger sent from God to prevent gay marriage. I know there’s more, like her oft-repeated statement on Iran wanting to bomb and destroy Israel.  Is there a side of a mushroom I have to eat to see these things?

8.  I will start to enjoy more the Republican primary/caucus sideshow and predatory reality shows like Hoarders or Storage Wars, both of which are the Dickensian LOLCATS of our age. After all, these do us all a service by ameliorating our wealth disparity and obscuring the covert war we are currently waging against Iran. Such things are messy and controversial. We don’t want to acknowledge them nor talk about them. The fact Ahmadinejad has one of our toy spy drones, which dropped from the Persian skies is just a fluke. Time to join American Attention Deficit Disorder (AADD) that makes the military industrial complex function. Why fight it?

9.  I will start to believe in phrases like “clean coal” and “uncompromising integrity.”

10. I will start to watch one hour of FOX News a week just to balance my “liberal” news sources.

Or maybe I’m still down the rabbit hole.

Happy New Year!


  1. Kona!! Sounds divine...and just what the doctor ordered (I wouldn't worry about the coffee police). Impressive list! Wise to be specific with details... Shine on!!

  2. I was worried you'd pulled the plug after an auspicious start. Glad you're still apart of the blogosphere.