Living In An Ideal World

We have students across the country

reaching their final days,

the year of the senior

so many being asked to take that next step

that freedom of becoming official

that adult thing

prayed for, imagined, perhaps sacrificed

well before their time,

readiness isn’t always an option

unless

we decide for ourselves

not for each other.

 

There’s an idyllic wind out there

waiting to engage

that heart and soul

of a youth finding their groove

wishing only for happiness

outside of

what has been routine for some

dozen years

 

Now take the walk

enjoy the ride

let opportunity speak

to the wonder of your own

personal design

 

Ride the crest

walk the stage

you’ve earned your moment

be happy be staid

be yourself

become your wonderful

self.

Why “13 Reasons Why” Is Important

13

In the fine arts we are encouraged to go big with our ideas, to allow emphasis on the issue, the illusion, the piece of art being presented on the stage. The purpose is designed to get the point across to the audience, or keep them engaged. The true compliment to an artwork, no matter the venue, is that people continue the discussion beyond the actual event.

Watching 13 Reasons Why, a controversial Netflix series really blew my mind. I felt like I was back in my high school again, experiencing the turmoil that a teenager goes through trying to adjust, fit in, survive the utter chaos of peer rejection and acceptance, all in the same day, every day.

About half way through the series, episode 6, or tape 3 I was riveted to every moment. Watching Clay struggle with the reality of losing his friend was compelling. I watched the behavior of his circle of people, I won’t call them friends, because so often in this period of a teenager’s life it is difficult to define who a true friend is. 13 did an excellent job exploring that aspect of high school.

I felt like I was the student in the room, experiencing the pain that comes with pressure and bullying. While the world goes on around a teenager, their internal struggle is never really revealed, and 13 explored that well enough to suggest this is real behavior. I thought all the characters fit the proper stereotypes.

The parents of each character as they unfolded in the show seemed normal. What I mean is they depicted the dysfunction of raising a family, holding a job, keeping up with or losing touch with their responsibility. I think the relationship that tore me up the most was Justin and his mom, I felt his pain as he leaned against the wall and she closed the door on their communication.

The administrators of the school seemed effectively overwhelmed by their task. There was the initial counselor who basically didn’t get tenure and then the new guy came in and gradually established their grounding as a central figure. In the end, it was clear things were beyond his control. Imagine the guilt we feel as teachers when we realize we missed something, that if we had just … we can settle behind the reality that our role in the classroom is to deliver our curriculum. Clearly that was demonstrated in 13 Reasons Why, but at the same time, we could recognize the vulnerability that children experienced around adults that were not involved. Or, if they were, they didn’t have a clue.

As I suggested in the beginning, in order to keep an audience, a piece has to have big moments. In television plot lines are imperative, and this is where I began to lose my direct connection to the characters in 13. Everything that could possibly happen, did, all impacting this small group of peers. Why such a micro-managed focus on the energy of a typical high school? Because the ability to attach pain and suffering to familiar characters helps get the point across to the audience.

If we accepted our buy in to the characters then everything they went through was plausible. Much like the movie Crash years ago where a diverse populace all experienced tragedies and successes within a literal block of L.A., though perhaps not possible, the experience the characters endured was certainly believable in the right context.

In 13, the key to this story is they deal with every aspect of being a teenager – confusion with sexual identity, clear cognizance of sexual preference and the societal scrutiny, the lifestyle of a jock, of a nerd, a geek, an outlier, a weirdo, In every aspect of student or teenager, the experiences seemed real and tragic.

What is an important takeaway is to recognize the behaviors demonstrated throughout this series were pretty spot on for the most part. The story line of the tapes could actually happen, though the possibility of getting through a dozen involved students probably not likely. But, they all maintained their characters with a haunting consistency.

Finally, let’s not forget this is about suicide, and the helplessness that everyone feels with a loss they believe they are responsible for. Even though in the real world we always blame the person who takes their own life. The movie itself defined the act as weak. I found it interesting that the young woman who revealed her cuttings on her arms, suggested she was doing it right, that suicide is a cop out. I’ve worked with cutters in my hospital work, and there was always a distinction between real and attention seeking, vertical and horizontal cuts as so eerily demonstrated in the series.

13 might be perceived as a segment of peers in a typical high school all being responsible for Hannah’s death, but if that is a takeaway, it is possibly wrong. It really is the remarkable telling of a young person’s struggle to define themselves while walking through life in a world of hurt, and having the fortune to play out the process with direct and frightening evidence, ironically replayed in cassettes with haunting truth.

I believe this series, beyond the embellishment and soap opera moments, is vitally important, certainly not for the eyes of children under 12 – not yet, even though we think they’re ready. It is a wonderfully tragic piece to create healthy dialogue, whether the characters are realistic or not. I was moved.

In High School We Believed

Everything

mattered, occurred, became known,

whether we wanted notoriety

or a simple life as a student.

 

Remember walking the halls,

feeling the eyes,

wondering about thinking

that could expose your own state of mind.

 

I remember they told me otherwise,

so I trusted their ideal,

and when the walls caved in

they were nowhere to be found.

 

I remember the rumors,

she was so beautiful,

carried such a wonderful spirit,

no one would understand the hate in mirrors.

 

In high school, we lived many different lives,

some would last a week,

others perhaps a couple of days,

it only mattered if we could find definition.

 

When the word arrived in our mind,

how could we possibly imagine

telling anyone, especially those eyes we were

already afraid of, deathly afraid of knowing.

 

While the world seemed different outside,

internal walls protected our sanity

only when we accepted ourselves in earnest,

if not, we relied upon a mask.

 

Though the transparency, when noticed,

became the final reckoning, we did understand.

always just a little late …

Serenity

A silent muse,

peace, a posture

wishful

in why to seek

serenity.

A word,

create a visual

definition,

breathe in

breathe out

breathe again

for there is nothing

without.

I often want to travel back,

stand in the hallway

outside the cafeteria,

where I can still remember the double

locked

lunchroom doors,

almost feel their clasp,

like speaking

to my childhood

years later to suggest I did exist then.

The mind can choose to listen

or scream,

to advocate a fresh perspective,

or recall.

The eyes though have it,

they can see what happened,

the pain, fear, torment, confusion

of an adolescent nightmare.

Sing to me soft melody

allow me new serenity.

 

I’m Your Teacher

I wonder if you realize the time we imagine

the words we deliver might benefit the fine

beauty of the child,

taming of the wild.

We don’t ask to change a child’s life

we don’t imagine to understand strife

we offer all our time

with every bell chime.

The other day I walked outside and recognized

an error on my part is certainly ill advised.

Why would I choose pain,

what could be the gain.

I stand before you all daily in my classroom

I would welcome anyone until there were no room.

Yet I need to find an answer

I need to know the future.

I wish I could look you in the eye with a pleasant smile

suggest that what you worry about today is not your last mile

just another daily rule

to understand, why school.

We stand before you with hope and prayer and layered love

would not you think if we didn’t act to be your dove

we’d rather you be miserable,

we’d hold you inside a stable.

I stood in my classroom today and looked around the room

I wish the eyes I see today, could recognize truly the zoom.

this moment is a blip

in years your ideals flip.

Love in our future would be the goal of anyone needing peace

So please give liberty to the idea of some disrespectful release.

A humble teacher we are today

We only wish to delight your way

3rd Desk From The Wall

desk

I sit down alone here,

my desk,

my refuge for the hour,

no one can touch me here

oh there might be eyes,

occasional grunts,

perhaps even a wad of paper,

beyond that I have a teacher

knows I sit here

I sit in the 3rd desk from the wall

every day until yesterday.

~

I stopped going to that class,

the desk spoke to me,

the wood burned with spite

a ruthless act of cowardice

I wasn’t able to go near the

3rd desk from the wall,

my name, it is my name embedded in the wood,

the teacher who doesn’t know who I am

except my name

with the words underneath.

~

I sit in the 3rd desk from the wall,

forever burned into my memory

are the lies and deceit

of my peers.

~

Picture found on Tumblr

Going Back Again

bus

Always afraid …

I remember there was a time when I couldn’t move

stuck holding onto the metal railing,

looking about and wondering if anything might return,

any one might show their face again.

I remember always not knowing completely what it was

that she might sense,

that he might wonder and ask someone else again,

I always walked away,

without any solution beyond a confident smile,

unraveling slowly in a definitive manner

wondering if they really might be able to see my smile.

~

I could see it clearly in the mirror,

on the windows of a storefront,

so if I had such a candid view,

then what I noticed in their eyes,

just had to be true,

and with that I would walk away,

again thinking I understood,

but I still never ever really knew.

~

I remember riding the bus home

after another day of battle,

mining my way through a sea of faces,

I was looking out onto the horizon,

when I saw her walking along the street.

I could easily say hello, but instead,

I looked busy, with my best preoccupied

glance I could embellish at the time.

She later said to me at supper,

“I saw you today, you looked sadly contemplative.”

sadly i turned to her and smiled, and then I said

in a quiet whisper,

“that wasn’t me.”

~

*photo found on tumbler