Drinking games

IMG_3746IMG_3759Every Friday morning we have an extended advisory. One of the students brings breakfast treats for us all to share. There are usually a variety of activities, discussions, tasks, and announcements with which we are involved while we munch. Advisory is a place where students bring their concerns and issues, questions and stories. I am their advocate in the larger context of school and in the personal context of family.

Yesterday was the first beautiful sunny Friday after this very long and intense winter. The students were filled with the high energy of spring and clearly wanted to just hang out. One of the boys in the advisory decided to encourage a “drinking game,” something he said he saw on Jimmy Fallon.

Four of the boys each filled three glasses of orange juice and set them on the table in front of them. The idea was to drink one, then strategically flip the empty glass until it stood right side up. They would then move to the second glass and then the third. The point was to be the first with all three glasses standing upright. The rest of the advisory gathered round, cheering them on. The energy was fever pitch. The competitors out for blood.

It was odd watching the spirited competition. I suddenly saw them all in college, five years from now, playing this very game late at night with glasses filled with beer or some other adult beverage they were required to chug before flipping the glass. I imagined them all older, far away from Chicago and from the small, hopefully meaningful, community we have built this year. I imagined them all fully formed (are we ever?) and wondered what possible long-lasting impact we have all had on each other. What pieces of our experiences together would sustain time?

When DN won and JK followed barely a second behind, the advisory was laughing and celebrating. The boys called for a second run-off. Zesty, gendered, loud, and focused, the championship continued enthusiastically, the boys and their audience filled with contagious exuberance.

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“A Strange Impulse” by Lydia Davis


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Passover 2014: gefilte fish substitute, seder snow, blood moon, karate-kicked matzah piñata, death of the first-born

IMG_3539IMG_3566Image 6
IMG_3631IMG_3688(Blood Moon photo by JB)

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“You” by Louise Ma


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13 and 14 year olds on a beautiful spring day


This is a photo of some of my students on our way back from visiting our “little buddies,” a group of kindergartners with whom we have partnered. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

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Understanding Poetry



And the poem that inspired the above, “The New Poetry Handbook,” by Mark Strand


1 If a man understands a poem,
he shall have troubles.

2 If a man lives with a poem,
he shall die lonely.

3 If a man lives with two poems,
he shall be unfaithful to one.

4 If a man conceives of a poem,
he shall have one less child.

5 If a man conceives of two poems,
he shall have two children less.

6 If a man wears a crown on his head as he writes,
he shall be found out.

7 If a man wears no crown on his head as he writes,
he shall deceive no one but himself.

8 If a man gets angry at a poem,
he shall be scorned by men.

9 If a man continues to be angry at a poem,
he shall be scorned by women.

10 If a man publicly denounces poetry,
his shoes will fill with urine.

11 If a man gives up poetry for power,
he shall have lots of power.

12 If a man brags about his poems,
he shall be loved by fools.

13 If a man brags about his poems and loves fools,
he shall write no more.

14 If a man craves attention because of his poems,
he shall be like a jackass in moonlight.

15 If a man writes a poem and praises the poem of a fellow,
he shall have a beautiful mistress.

16 If a man writes a poem and praises the poem of a fellow overly,
he shall drive his mistress away.

17 If a man claims the poem of another,
his heart shall double in size.

18 If a man lets his poems go naked,
he shall fear death.

19 If a man fears death,
he shall be saved by his poems.

20 If a man does not fear death,
he may or may not be saved by his poems.

21 If a man finishes a poem,
he shall bathe in the blank wake of his passion
and be kissed by white paper.

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“Little Song of the Mutilated”

Tonight was the 18th annual French recital where the 8th grade students recited French poems, acted out scenes in French, and performed the music of French composers. The ambiance of the room was very cafe-like (flowers and candles on the table-clothed tables, dimmed lights) and the students were wonderful. Organized by an amazing French teacher at our school, the energy was high, the talents varied and quite impressive, and the madeleines absolutely delicious.

I made a small contribution by reciting the poem by Benjamin Peret (1899-1959), “Little Song of the Mutilated.” It is a lilting poem whose rhythm contrasts with the words of a soldier who has been mutilated in World War I. Peret was a French surrealist and political activist who served in the Great War.

Petite chanson des mutilésHR_56600100889600_1

Prête moi ton bras

pour remplacer ma jambe

Les rats me l’ont mangé

à Verdun

à Verdun

J’ai mangé beaucoup de rats

mais ils ne m’ont pas rendu ma jambe

c’est pour cela qu’on m’a donné la croix de guerre

et une jambe de bois

et une jambe de bois


Lend me your arm

To replace my leg

The rats ate it for me

At Verdun

At Verdun

I ate a lot of rats

But they didn’t give me back my leg

And that’s why I was given the Croix de Guerre

And a wooden leg

And a wooden leg


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