Thursday, September 16, 2004

We're just two weeks away from the start of a new school year. The last weeks have beeen spent settling back into life in our very green small town, tree-lined streets, lots of bicyclers, trips to the library, and just a little gardening, mixed in with lots of reading of magazines piled up from 8 months away.

I've been going back and forth about continuing the blog. What possible interest could there be in writing about my very average life -- the perspective of a small-town, middle-America, quiet, probably not mainstream, older-than-average female? Part of the answer lies in what's ahead. Writing is a way of thinking on paper about the future and about what's happening now. Some people journal. Maybe some people just blogg and don't worry about it.

This week has been a little hard. Returning home to family and friends never comes without a difference. Some people have died, and I'm remembering them as a presence. Others are facing serious illnesses, recovering from operations, new babies have been born, children are leaving home, times of joy and times of sadness. At work, balanced with the joy of seeing close colleagues is the reality of long meetings where talk seems more important than action. What don't we have time for? My heart wants affirmations of what we can do. Consensus takes a very long time.

The politics of the American election are singularly depressing, each ad nastier than the next on both sides. Although the news this week has focused on Ivan, strategies and spins from both sides attempt to reach the undecided, with most people increasingly entrenched in their own positions, polarized by the real differences between the two candidates, relying on a combination of hope and fear and finally perhaps anger. Cheney, the hatchet man, said that if Kerry is elected, we can expect more terrorism. Later in the week, he corrected this, saying he meant whoever is elected to the White House, we can anticipate more terror. Click!

Yesterday at work, we had a practice drill to prepare for terrorism. This is Albany, Oregon, a small rural town! The loudspeaker, humming white noise, repeatedly interrupted our meeting with, "This is a lockdown. Stay in the building. Lock all doors. Do not enter the halls or courtyard." None of us have keys to any of the classrooms. After the drill was over, several people said once they heard the announcement, all they wanted to do was to run away. If someone with a submachine gun is methodically working through a building, locked doors or not, why wait? And with students? The most memorable film of Columbine High School was the footage showing students climbing out of second-story windows to escape the two young men with guns. That urge to flight saved their lives. Yet the teacher is supposed to guide, direct, protect -- be role models for appropriate action in such a situation. I guess I'm not trained yet.

Writing this today helped me see what I can do -- memos to colleagues that need writing, and a sense of connectedness. Make it a good day!

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