Monday, February 04, 2008


Wow. I'm shocked! I don't even care about sports, and I'm shocked. The last few weeks, you couldn't get away from talk of the Patriots' possible perfect season. Even NPR, the talk radio station that wakes me up each morning, did I bizarre little skit where they acted out a Super Bowl press conference as though it were written by Shakespeare. Click the link for the full text, but here's a sampling: "...Think on it: those called Giants are but dwarfs here, Mere ciphers in the point spread, a goodly dozen down. [...] Yea, the true giants, these peerless monsters, Call themselves Patriots [...]" Oookaaaay... Can you imagine waking up to that? You wake up confused. Really confused. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The last time I posted, I was down with the flu. That Tuesday, the university had a great poet, Nikki Finney, come to speak at a service to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Finney wrote a speech that was basically one long poem. It was full of encouragement for artists, activists, and anyone who contributes to King's concept of a Beloved Community, a community in which all people do their best to respect, love and are for each other. She also encouraged young black scholars, which is so important.

Some of my inner-city middle schoolers (especially the boys) suffered from a lack of educated role models. Many of their parents didn't have degrees. Some of their friends who struggled in school teased them for being geeks, or soft if they worked hard at studying. The young black and Hispanic men in my composition classes tell me the same thing. Some of them say they get more encouragement to take part in street life than to better themselves. Making things harder, as they become more educated, it becomes harder for them to relate to and connect with (even the positive influences in) their friends and family, which further weakens their support system.

I used to try to close the achievement gap for African American and Hispanic children by playing catch-up with middle schoolers. Now I'm working with college students. It occurs to me that having more black and Latino college grads as parents can only help the next generation of students (not to mention the good these grads could do as teachers, community activists, etc.) And just imagine...we're living in a time when our next president might be a black man. America has come a long way.

I spent the rest of that week recovering from the flu. I was frustrated that it was taking so long and went to Student Health Services. The Nurse Practitioner said post-nasal drip was aggravating my nausea. Ew. Okay. So I bought some Claritin D, which did clear up my allergy trouble, but also woke me up in the night. I can't believe I took that stuff every day for many years!

The following week was spent getting back up to speed. I ate more normal food (included the herb chicken I was contemplating last posting), did some exercise and a lot of studying and homework. Then it was the weekend again.

Tom and I had discussed the Giants' prospects a bit. He explained it like this: "When the Giants beat the Cowboys, it was like someone gave me a big bowl of ice cream. Now it's like they're offering me sprinkles. You say, 'Sprinkles? Sure, I'll have some sprinkles!' But what you're really excited about is the ice cream. The Super Bowl? To be honest, I'll be happy if they don't get slaughtered. If they actually won the Super Bowl, would be like, 'Forget the ice cream. Here's a steak and some 12-year-old scotch.'" Hee.

Now, to be honest, I was not glued to the TV for the game. I was flipping back and forth between it and The Biggest Loser. In my defense, the first half of the game was very slow, in terms of offense. For the longest time, nothing happened. Then, toward the end, hello! With two minutes left, the Patriots scored to retake the lead. But then, in the end, the Giants managed to pull it off. As the New York Times put it, "Manning connected with Plaxico Burress for the winning touchdown, a 13-yard pass with 35 seconds remaining in the game." Hee, Plaxico.

I text-messaged Tom : "STEAK & SCOTCH!!!" He couldn't reply, though, because New York City's cellular system became overloaded, something that usually only happens on New Year's at midnight or in emergencies. I talked to him later, and he informed me that he'd basically had a conniption fit when they won. "I don't know what a conniption is, exactly, but I know I had one. I was lying on the floor, pounding my fists. Picture a two-year-old having a tantrum, only a grown man, and very, very happy." Hee! And this with all of his friends watching.

Well, I'm happy for him and all his friends in New York. Sorry to any of you who were rooting for the Patriots. It would have been neat to see a "Perfect Season." The Giants win did give me a nice lesson for my students: "Just a reminder from the Super Bowl, guys: Even when you're at the top of your game, you have to keep fighting to stay the best. When you're the underdog and no one believes in you, you can prove everyone wrong."

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