Shit is hard right now, miss, he tells me, and I know we’ll need to sit down for this talk. Haven’t seen him for days now, and he’s not the kind of kid who cuts class and stays home to chill, so I brace myself for another story that will humble and break me, shake and drive me to keep doing what teachers do. My … Continue reading Make-up Work
When I was sixteen, my father, who’d never doubted his own glory, stature, and importance, decided it was time to make it known to me just what a privilege it was to have him as a father. He came to meet me after midnight on one of those nights my mother and I spent in the dark because divorcing the Soviet Union had left us … Continue reading Footprints
Been in this country for twenty-five years, and a play date for one of my children is still a home cooked dinner for friends and their parents, necessarily followed by at least two desserts made from scratch because that’s how my grandmother would want me to host, to gather people, to feed and dote. Been in this country for twenty-five years, and a babysitter for … Continue reading Confessions of an Immigrant
They say teaching is a calling, probably because they know that no one in their right mind would agree to this vocation unless they’d been called to it, however this might have happened, as there is no prescribed path to this destination where you’re working at least eight jobs a day— instructor, curriculum planner, janitor, counselor, parent, guide, librarian, data analyst, sometimes, nurse and/or preacher, … Continue reading Would You Have Dropped It?
Some teaching days feel like you’d missed the news last night, so didn’t know there was a war you were now a part of, and because you’d missed the news, you have absolutely no idea what the war is all about, who’s fighting whom, and which side you’re on. But you’re here now, in the trenches, and all you can do is try to survive, … Continue reading At War, Unarmed
Every time you sit down to write Imagine you’ve got just that one poem to say what matters most, Reach everyone who can read, hear, and feel. Write this poem like it’s the last one you’ll ever write, The only piece that’ll ever be read by anyone Write like you both realize and have no idea that You have nothing to say that hasn’t been … Continue reading L Train Notes
What good is a test if it doesn’t measure a child’s fluency in empathy, doesn’t create opportunity for a child to imagine solutions outside the box, doesn’t make a child want to read because what’s on the page isn’t riveting, essential to their understanding of themselves, other people, places in the world they’ll never see and only know from awkward phrases in textbooks written by … Continue reading Test Prep Blues
My mother taught me that this world is mine, so I grew to expect that it would always revolve around me, even if this meant having to churn it myself. And if you’ve ever been an axis, then you know it’s no small thing to have the weight of the world all around you; not unlike being in the eye of a tornado intent on … Continue reading
To love something more than I love this city would mean to break into more pieces than there are train stops, spices, and bodegas from Brooklyn to the Bronx, languages and faiths in Queens, lovers and dreamers in Manhattan. The only thing that can break you into so many pieces and still keep you whole is home, and because home is where we learn to … Continue reading Love Note to New York
What if he’d been told he was smart, worthy, promising, beautiful? What if he had been shown so much love that he’d started to feel loved? What if he had believed it was possible to be happy and cherished? What if he’d been told it was good that he was born, that he was here? What if they had said it so much he’d grown … Continue reading What If?