We all have dreams but there are only some that we can remember. This morning Tal started us off by telling us of a dream he had had the night before. It was a dream that had happened before. A dream that I had heard already. In his dream he was trying to teach a class but everyone kept going out of the room. When he would try to keep one group of people in the other group of people would leave and then when trying to bring those people back the people who had stayed before left. “It was a typical teacher dream. It had nothing to do with how you guys are doing now,” Tal said. I looked around at the room hoping that other people were thinking the same thing as me. I hoped that this day wouldn’t end up that way because we all knew that if it did, it would lead to Tal giving us one of his talks. The room fell silent for a few moments but was interrupted by Leeya’s voice. She began to tell us of a necklace that she was wearing that she had always seen as blue but this morning she had seen it as purple. “I am just glad that the things that physically can’t change are still changing.”
At the alumni bbq I was trying to stay in this year and not drift into the sadness of last year. It was really hard to remember that this year couldn’t happen if last year were still here. But by having all of the ninth, eighth and seventh graders around me it made is so much easier to remember that I loved them all and that I loved this year. I loved that we were making something new together.
When Kelsey was coming back from Woodstock there was a huge car crash only a few minutes before they got to the place where it had happened. She had been so happy and feeling like it had been a really good day. The people in the crash were probably having a pretty good day too. How can things change in seconds? How can you go from having a great day to being airlifted to the hospital? I started to remember all of the times when I had been having a great day and in seconds something happened that made that day one that I would never forget for being a bad day.
Aidan, Angus and Wesley went to Angus’ house after the BBQ and Aidan said that it felt as if Wesley had never left.
Tal began to tell us about the Zeno Mountain Farm movie that they had made. On Friday we are going to be hosting a screening of a documentary about the making of the movie. “I just want you guys to see the movie so that you know what is going on when we show the documentary.” Tal said.
After we finished watching the movie we all went outside to start the whiffle ball game that we had missed on Friday. My game was my team Drop City vs. Arcosanti. The game began with Arcosanti up to bat, Tal pitching for Drop City. The game began and within a few minutes there were three outs. Drop City was now up to bat. Angus started us off. He looked confident. Ready to hit it across the field. Ready! He swung the bat, it looked promising… Strike three! Our first out. After a back and forth battle between the two teams, Arcosanti crushed Drop City, 12-4.
Everyone filed into the big room for All Tal. The room was buzzing with excitement from the whiffle ball games and the room was filled with chatter. “Okay y’all listen up!” Tal yelled into the room hoping for some reaction. He got the one he wanted. The room settled down and now it was quiet. There was no more chatter. “So here is how you write a place description.” I looked up at Tal. I had been here for two years already so I should already know how to write a place description but I had been having a lot of trouble with them this year. Maxine eyes were right on Tal. Wren was sitting in the back row, sitting in her usual way. Bent over her binder head leaning on her hand as her hand squished her face. Wyatt eyes seemed to look at the room for the first time. “The way to write a place description is to start with the obvious things around you to get you in the place and then zero in on something that no one else noticed. Something that only you experienced to make this place great.” Wasn’t that what I had been doing? Why couldn’t I get it. Maybe he would say more. He didn’t. Tal picked up Maxine’s place description and began to read. I scanned the room. Eden was biting her lip as she looked intensely at the table. Maxine eyes were facing directly ahead as usual but this time her focus was within. Griffin’s hand searched for dips and bumps on the gourd. “Dad has feelings too you know?” Tal read from the place description. I looked down the table to see the things that the afternoon light was magnifying. Sam’s math sheet, Angus’s lit book and a few other forgotten things. Tal asked us to write down all of the sounds that we had heard in the place description. This is what I wrote down. Car humming, driving, jazz music, open window, tapping of hand, sigh, talking, silence of an empty house, soft voice, I love you the most, car rumbling, birds, question, gravel under truck, chickens, kiss on cheeks, door closing, crunch of gravel under feet, loud truck grumble.
The school was dark when I walked in along with the middlebury carpool. Soon the big room lights turned on and I found a place at the table. The table was cluttered with papers and old napkins. There were lit books and binders. Tal grumpily sat down in a chair in the corner of the room with his computer. “You know you guys could clean up the table first thing,” Tal said not looking up from his computer. Everyone stood and began to clean.
Meeting began with Maxine telling us about the other day when she had taken a nap. “When my mom came in to my room it just sounded like when she opened the door it was a question and when it closed it was an answer.”
Tal told us that we should never say that we are confused because it makes us sound dumb. If we were to take five seconds or even five minute to figure it out we wouldn’t be confused anymore. So instead of saying it just figure it out. I didn’t really agree with Tal that saying that you were confused was always a bad thing. Sometimes if you don’t understand something in math class or in science and you can’t figure it out it is important to tell someone that you are confused and ask a question.
Leeya went to dinner with her parents and a neighbor sat down to talk to them for a bit and when Leeya said that she felt like she was just always preparing for the next thing to happen instead of being in the moment that is happening her neighbor said “Opportunity is a gift man.” I am not really sure what that is supposed to mean. Was he saying that we need to take the opportunities that we have and just love them? Leeya continued to talk about how she wondered what other people saw her as and it we saw ourselves the same way other people did.
We sung happy birthday to Eden because yesterday was her birthday. After we finished out “beautiful” singing she told us of a tradition at her house where the birthday person is woken up by the rest of the family singing happy birthday(probably better than we just did…). This year she didn’t really feel any different. Even though birthdays are thought of as this huge day when everything feels special but it really only feels that way when you are little. But this year for her birthday she went to her old school in the morning to say hi to everyone. When she got there she realized how much she actually missed it. She realized that she was never going to go back to that place and that it would never be the same again. I think that it is important to revisit old important places in your life on special days. If that is physically visiting a place or visiting it in your mind. It makes these days like birthdays actually days that you will remember.
Wren talked about how she felt like everyone has really big expectations from her. These expectations come when we get older. She felt like the only real relationship that she had with her parents at this time was that they would yell at her to do her chores. As we grow up we go away from our parents and our relationship with them changes. We grow up and we loose track of the things that they do for us. We don’t realize that they do see the good things that we do. But since we have grown up and gone away from them a little we only really see the negative things that happen between us.
Aidan prefers to do his lit homework the morning before class because it is fresher in his mind. So this morning he got up early to do it but as he was reading he fell back asleep which set his whole morning back. He had woken up thinking that it was going to be a good day but by falling asleep and getting set back it turned into s stressful morning.
Sam was reading his lit last night and he was pretty confused because it seemed like just a jumble or words at the beginning. So he decided to go to his mom and have her read it to him for a little bit. It seemed to really help him understand by hearing someone else perspective.
When people come into the school to visit or just to do something in the office, in the short amount of time that they are there we want them to see that we care about the school. That we care about our work and that we are willing to put our time into it because we know that it will end up being something that we are proud of. Why can’t we all just go into that place where we want to do the best that we can? Where we don’t care f we get tired if it means that we will come into school the next morning and be proud of what we did? I know that sometimes it is hard to get into that state of mind for me. There are times that I would much rather just go to sleep or watch netflix. It is just the easier way. And sometimes I will give up on my work and just go the easier way. And then when I go into school I feel ashamed and don’t feel like I have something to show to the class. If we were to all fight that feeling we would have a place where when people do come they will be able to see that this is a place where everyone cares and works hard.
In Lit class we talked about To Kill A Mockingbird which we just started. Tal tells us that Boo Radley is a character that we will never forget for the rest of our lives along with Dill. Tal read to us for class.
In science the ninth graders went outside to do yet an other one of Eric's orienteering quests. None of us were actually dressed appropriately but we went out anyway. We fallowed the map and compasses that Eric gave us and galavanted through the woods trying to find the little blue flags tied to trees. Each flag giving us direction to the next.
In ninth grade math we learned more about syllogisms such as; If you are in Rose’s math room, then you are in the North Branch School.
I walked into the beg room to the sound of people talking about Owen’s hair.
“Why does everyone talk about Taylor Swift?” Tal went on a rant about Taylor Swift talking about how there are hundreds of musicians that are better than Taylor Swift. “Tal, just Shake It Off” Aidan said. The room filled with laughter.
Everyone rushed to get a job trying to get one that wasn’t one of the gross ones that no one wants. The only problem being that if no one does them, the school will really start to smell and we will have no clean dishes for the day. Once all the jobs were done we all gathered into the big room again.
We all closed our eyes. “ Which one of these makes you think more?”
“Hey, did you have to do this? I was thinking that you could be trusted/ did you have to ruin what was shining now/ its all rusted. Did you have to hit me where I’m weak baby/ I couldn’t breath? I rubbed it in so deep/ salt in the wound like your laughing right at me/ oh its so sad to think about the good times you and I”
There was a Columbian mammoth skeleton found in Michigan. It was 10,000- 15,000 years old. It had been anchored in a pond with large stone probably to refrigerate it.
Wyatt- Giving out the job cards. People don’t take the job that they are given and take the easier jobs. Dish washing study- by washing dishes thoughtfully it will make your day happier. Our job when we come in to school is to do work and to keep the school clean. If you avoid doing work then you are letting down the rest of the people around you. We can clean up after ourselves. If we were to do that, when we gown up we would be more responsible and we would know what to do when it comes to us having to take care of a house. Why cant we care about keeping a special place clean? If we were to stop doing jobs here at school there would be no place for us to do what we love like talking about ourselves or getting to do art. What are you thinking about when you start the day? Right it down every day the second you wake up, or the moment you get to school/work. See where your mind is and maybe see if you can change it for the better. If every morning you are thinking about how your day can be the most comfortable for yourself and there isn’t a moment when you are thinking about helping someone else or the community that you are in that there is something wrong. See what you can change.
Rosemary- last night she was listening to Human by Christina Perry and then she thought about a book about the brain that her dad gave her. "I am only human” is an excuse for what we can’t do. Why cant we use it as something great. Why is it that when someone does something great they are considered a super human? Why don’t we say “I did it because I am human,” as a good thing. If we live our lives doing great things because we are human than we could be great people like Mother Teresa or Martin Luther king. They did things for other people because they know what it is like to be human.
“How did it feel to finish everything?” “Good I guess.” Rosemary
Every time Rosemary turns in her lit on time Catherine has to talk in meeting.
Wren- She has been thinking a lot about how last year through elementary school Friday was movie night and Thursday was when a friend came over and they had ice cream but now those things don’t seem to happen anymore.
Leeya- Althea talks about how when she goes for a run it clears her head. Last night Leeya instead of going up to do homework right away she went out for a run and it really cleaned her head. Usually when she comes back to school her head is just packed with little thoughts and when she was on the run it was nice to not have anything in her head.
How many people excersised last night. Only a few people raised their hands. How many people did on Monday. More people. Weekend almost all.
Griffin- Stayed home with sister and dog. Sister screaming and dog whimpering and then finally they calmed down. It was nice to know that he could take care of these two little things and be responsible and get them to calm down.
Rose- Her daughter got her first real job offer last night and she thinks that she is going to take it. Rose is really happy that she has something great because she had been pretty discouraged. But also sad because she is moving to Wisconsin to start work on December 1.
gun violence. How do people get to a place where they feel like they can kill people? It is easier to say that killers are just bad with in themselves but we don't talk about how society helps in this movement towards being so pained. 50 terrorist attacks 97,000 gun violence. “Stuff happens"
Leeya read Warning by Jenny Joseph.
In all Tal we heard three wonderful speeches. Jack went first telling us about how he loved to take things apart to see what was inside. He wanted to take things apart to see what he could do with them. He now wanted to take himself apart. See what was inside. Take apart the school and see what really was there.
Sydney read a speech about how she loved to climb. She told us of all these amazing climbing adventures that she had been on and then told us why life was a climb. We climb up a struggle or a life and once we reach the time we fall back to the bottom of a new wall. A new struggle that we have to climb. And overtime that we make it to the top of a wall we have reached mount utopia.
Will told us about loving the important things in our live 100%. Even if that meant getting hurt in the end because if we don’t love things 100% then there really isn’t anything that is actually important. Will loved his dog Max 100% all the way and past the moment that he died only a few weeks ago. We have to go into live all the way or else there really isn’t any point. We ended the day by re-reading the poem that Tal had read the first day of school. Then we were asked again “How should I live.” This is what I said.
“I should live not being afraid of the life that I have. To live in the moment and not spend my life thinking about where I want to go. I may feel tired of being little but I need to live minnow. Not live my imagined, desired like in my head. That life awaits me in 10 or so years but I can’t be afraid of the life I have now. I can’t spend my life wishing I were an adult. I need to be here now. Love my current life 100%. Go into everyday asking myself “Have I done something great today?”. I need to see the life in broken things. Climb over the hard things in life. I need to realize that I am lucky. I have many hands to hold and many tears to cry. I have tears to cry for the great things I have loved. I should live with no walls. Live taking down every wall I come to. See the beautiful memories and moments around me and leave the sad ones for other times. Stay in this time, this day, this childhood that I will never get again. I should love things so much that I am willing to risk my life for them. I should open up everything to see what is inside. Deal with the bad and love all the good. Love the struggle.”
Here are some others that people wrote.
After 23 days I know; I should live in a way that will lead me to knowing myself almost completely. I include the almost because otherwise I will have a stopping point. I don't want a stopping point. I'm willing to pause and slow my pace, I might have to backtrack to regain momentum but no, I won't reach an end.
In ultimate frisbee sometimes I jog instead of sprint as I should. If I think that all I can do is go slow, I need to come to a full pause. Then I should take a breath and for a short time, exchange it for my eyes so that I may look upon my small self in the big world and ask, "am I moving or not?"
I want to be learning, I want to be growing, I want to be helping the world do that too. When the earth sighs I want to be one who senses it, when the sky cries I want to stand there and let it flow inside and through and out of me too, until the tears stop.
I want the winds to blow away my grudges and my doubts that slow me down.
I want the soil and rock to wear away the shallow, pre-determined ideas I sometimes stand on.
I want to live in such a way that turning around can almost dangerous because of the extremity of my current actions.
I want to be running so swiftly in slow motion that I would not be able to see the detail I am passing if not for my third eye.
I should be dissolving frustration and using it to water my neighbor's flower garden.
I want to be inconsistent and graceful and grateful. - Rosemary
I should live loving and trying to make life perfect. I should experience loss and suffering to grow. I should not leave my pony out when no one can be there to take care of it. I should go through the squeeze. I should take everything I find apart. I should live every day like its my last. I should love 100%. I should chase life until the end. I should do what I love and not stop doing it. I should live with a beginner’s mind. I should never run away. I should shoot the ball with my ankle locked in place. I should put myself on the line for something greater than me. I should be staying up until 2:30working on my speech, and then re-doing most of that in study. I should NEVER draw an eyebrow for a science assignment. I should let a boy yell at me for making a stupid call in ultimate frisbee but not fight back. I should ski off a 35 foot cliff when there is no other way out except to go back up, just to see the ground coming at me. I should fight against the pain of a broken arm until I have skied 25 runs. I should be proud of our team even when we lose 14-0. I should play guitar every day, even if I feel like I’m not getting anywhere.- Aidan
I should live by being someone that is a part of the school. I want to take things apart like in Jack’s speech. Iw ant to be able to talk with our the net holding me back. I want to stick up for myself so that I don’t have to cower like a mouse. I should live to be a westering person on a good way. I should live like the famous people that are comedic. I should live knowing that I am a lucky person. I should live my life as the utopia that I described in my speech: TO have all the strong feelings equally. I should love myself. -Henry
I want to see the inner core of everything. And for everyone to be treated with equality. I should live knowing that I am loved and that I can love. I should live knowing that I have a place in this world. I should live knowing that even as far as I may stray, I will always have a home to come back to.- No name
This morning there was no hesitation to start cleaning and so everyone was off to different corners of the building sweeping and putting things away. Within around 8 minutes the school was clean and meeting began. Tal told us that he was kind of nervous about his friend coming to talk to us because no one know who knows what. His friend, Grant is used to talking to collage students so Tal wants us to at least fake like we are intellectuals. “Just practice faking it okay?” Tal said.
Last night Leeya was working on her project about animal utopias. Usually she doesn’t find homework to be something that she loves and looses track of time with but when she was working she was really interested in what she was looking up and she actually did end up loosing track of time.
Yesterday Rose told us about her daughter Bianca getting a job and that she was going to have to move away. “So I have the Bianca update” Rose said. Last night when Rose told Bianca about telling all of us here in class about her and Rose crying she started to tear up again and Bianca was telling her to stop crying! They went out to dinner along with Mat, Bianca’s boyfriend and Mat told Rose that Bianca after years of being very careful with money and only every buying a half sandwich at the co-op she bought a WHOLE SANDWICH! I mean can you imagine?! She hasn’t even started working yet! We all laughed.
Griffin began to tell us of his little sisters backpack about how when he saw it it reminded him of when they were at the airport a few months ago and he watched his sister and his mom walk to the bathroom and she looked so big. He was thinking about how the little things like a pink backpack can make you think about really big things.
Aidan is doing his project on the Burning Man Festival and so last night he emailed a NBS alum because Aidan had heard that he had been to it and he wanted to know if he had any insight. When the alum emailed him back he emailed him a 1500 word response about Burning Man. Aidan thought it was nice that even though he had graduated years and years ago, he still cared about what we were doing here and he wanted to help.
Catherine had made a deal with Rosemary that if Rosemary turned in her lit on time than Catherine had to talk in meeting. “I guess I had kind of hoped that Rosemary wouldn't have her lit…” I couldn’t believe that Catherine had said that. She would rather her friend fail and fall behind rather that have to talk in front of people that she knew so well. I stared at Catherine with a disapproving look and she seemed to back down from the words that she had just said. “ Well, I guess I have been thinking about why we did the burning man, because we put so much work and time into it and then we just made it all disappear.” This brought up a discussion about why we do anything in life when after a while it probably wont be a part of our lives later on. Why should we care about anything that wont really effect our future lives? But what will effect our future lives really depends on what it will effect. If we put our time and care into something like say a place description, maybe that specific piece of writing wont affect us later on but the way that we worked on it will help set the way we think about all tasks later on. Will we just rush by them or will we take our time and care? What way do I want to live? What way do you want to live? Do you as parents or any adult reading this ever think about the way that your past actions have affected your ways now?
Michael Seligman read a poem that his friend who is going through chemotherapy sent him.
8-9 Lit; We began class by listening to a Billie Holiday song called Strange Fruit. We talked about what being lynched was and why people would get lynched.
“The only thing to fear is fear its self” Franklin Roosevelt. We talked about how this was applied in the book and that no one really knows what is really going on in the Radley house so they create a story that causes fear and paranoia.
In the afternoon we had whiffle ball again and my team played Eric’s team and we lost 4-1.
The day started with the seventh and ninth graders in science. We crowded around the table trying to get 14 people around a table for 12. Eric saved us all by bringing in an other table. Class started and people were typing or hand writing down corrections for homework. Questions like “What is the contour interval of the map? What does that mean?” Class finished and the ninth graders hurried off to math. Rose passed out the review packets and with them came sighs knowing that we would have a test in our next class. We reviewed about direct and indirect proofs and many other things.
Then it was time for meeting.
It was Maxine’s sisters 17th birthday the other day and it made Maxine think about how much time has gone by and about how when she was little she used to think that when she turned 100 she would finally be older than her older siblings because 100 was such a big number. Now she knows that that will never happen and now that she is older she is spending her days thinking about how to live.
Jack’s dads business partner and his family are coming to visit and he is excited because he hasn’t seen them in a little under a year.
Lena was really happy because today when we were on the bus the bus driver asked us what the baked goods were for and when we told her about raising money for the mathletes she gave the team $10.
Yesterday Owen was “surfing the web” as he called it and he told us about a video that he had seen where these makeup artist transformed black people into white people just by changing the color of their skin. I watched the video after class and saw how incredibly real it looked. These people looked incredible realistic. They hadn’t changed any of their futures except their skin color and their hair.
Wren has been thinking about how we are already one eighth of the way through the year. Lately she has been feeling like she hasn’t really been moving. She feels like she has just kind of been passive and doesn’t want to spend the rest of the year this way. Tal’s suggestion was to just be conscious of whatever she is doing.
Althea had been thinking a lot about the Strange Fruit video by Billie Holiday and all of the pictures in it. There were pictures of little white kids holding signs saying “Segregation" as a good thing. What is right and wrong? It has changed so much over time and it is really only based on general opinion. But how do we ever really know? Angus chimed in saying that when we watched the Strange Fruit music video with the pictures of people that had been lynched it affected him more than last year when we watched the video of the beheading. He thinks that it is because we are closer to the lynchings because it is our history but also with pictures, things are left up to the imagination and it is more of a mystery that videos are.
Griffin was remembering a time when this boy came up to him and asked him how he looked at his nails when they were too long and Griffin held our his hand, his palm up and his fangs bent. The boy said “Good because looking at them with the back of your hand up is the girl way to do it.” This had really stuck with Griffin and he never looked at his nails the “girl way” in fear that this boy would make fun of him. But the other day he looked at them the “girl way” with out thinking about it and didn’t understand that even though he had already known that what the boy said was ridiculous he had only just now gotten over it.
In clay the other day Rose told me that I had a really good sense of the clay and it made me think about what else I had gotten a good sense of in these past few years at NBS or in my life.
We all hurried down to the basement where we continued a drawing project that we had started the week before. The basement was silent except for the scarping of pencils on paper.
To end the day and the week, Tal’s friend Grant came to talk to us about being a movie and TV writer and producer. He showed us clips of a movie on the Mayflower that he is working on and told us many fascinating things. Many people were on the edge of their chairs, me included asking question after question. When we ran out of time in the end people were rushing up to Grant trying to get in one more question before we all got in the cars and drove off to the soccer game.