Archive for category frustration

What can I do, what can I be?


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on truth, progress, and stepping down

…feeling rather dramatic today, several sentences crafted in the ‘woe is he of little faith’ biblical tone. I found a paper with a Buddhist song about karma in the drawer of my new desk in my new office. Perhaps a sign? Seeking organic opportunities for community building and career advancement.  Looking towards bright spots on the horizon. Seeking truth and fairness. Understanding that I do not control the actions of the world. Understanding that time is temporary and trials are teachable moments. Hoping for progress. Thankful for good health, family and true friends.

Yesterday I resigned from my work managing the Coastal Communities Youth Arts Project and assisting in grant writing for the Houma Regional Arts Council. I am thankful for the opportunities the organization has afforded me over the years, especially the opportunities that allowed me to have a hand in bringing arts experiences to underserved youth in South Louisiana. I’ve grown and will continue to grow from the valuable professional development lessons, and am grateful for the organization’s fiscal sponsorship of Art of the Bayou. I will continue to produce and manage this documentary, and hope only for the best (with all things) moving forward….


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strawberry fields day

Art. After art comes the art of business. Is it wrong to mix the two? People build somewhat sustainable careers from this marriage. I think I can do that. However…to more effectively do that I need to make some changes….

Feeling more introverted the last few days, not the same as the weeks before when I was so eager to talk to more humans about new things other than the current things discouraging the human I am and the humans I know. I’m almost constantly thinking about and almost constantly discussing the strangeseriousangering situation unfolding.  I couldn’t possibly have predicted this. We couldn’t possibly have known. That isn’t it. I wish that was it. I fall to being dangerously empathetic and forget myself and my family. I remember my family and the gears start to move. Yesterday we spoke of almost nothing but the levee vs. oil & gas industry suit. I become empowered and went inward to think it over. I’ve emerged with a plan. The alignment of my immediate misfortune and the actions moving forward to battle the larger misfortune of my beloved Louisiana (what it represents to me, at least) are sparking inspiration.  I know what to do and where to get the answers. All its going to take is me going and doing.

So many mountain drives. We are small and it is amazing. The vastness of the planet and the fortune of freedom of mobility in it is conjuring some wonderful art output.  My editing techniques are sharpening and I’m able to make incredible progress in shorter amounts of time. Still, slow moving because of all the trying to figure out the strangeseriousangering. But the thing remains, and practice makes perfect.

And apparently I say “like” a lot during interviews. Like, I really don’t recall saying that I, like, really want people to just love my movies. I mean, like, maybe I do, but like, why would a person ever admit that?

Whatever it is people are going to think about people, they’ve probably already decided. Probably decided when they first heard that thing about that thing you did or maybe did. Or they decided way back in childhood. Or when you stepped into the room or they saw you at that place. Whatever it is I think they’re going to think, I’m going to not worry.

We are above and beneath the rocks. Stand clear.

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opportunity for all

I began composing this post prior to the May 4th vote on school tax in Terrebonne parish.  After serval trashed versions, here are my thoughts on the results of the vote and the state of public education in Louisiana.

You don’t own a home in Terrebonne, so your vote isn’t valid.

My family works and lives here, so my vote is.

You attended private school, so what do you know about public education?

I taught art in public schools (five schools in four years) and have administered arts education programming in schools for  about five years. I’ve seen the conditions of the schools (awful. buildings falling apart, murky paint, dim rooms, broken windows, rusted fences, no greenery, etc.) and the attitudes of the teachers (dedicated, inspired). A group of black third grade students once asked me, in the most serious way,  if “I own slaves” or if “I’m rich because I’m white”. I’ve seen tough little boys calm down and tear up while drawing (a breaking heart). I’ve met caring kids and caring parents.

Yes, some parents could care less about their child’s education, but when you consider the history (BROWN V. BOARD: Timeline of School Integration in the U.S.) and quality of Louisiana’s public education system, why would the majority of public school- parents/grandparents/great-grandparents value education? Obviously, some families care, but when so many have been the recipients of sub-standard education resources how do you expect them to value education in the same way as a person who has experienced quality education?

Consider the quality of the learning environment. Do k-12 learning facilities affect education outcomes? (of course they do.)

Consider what “we” expect from teachers. It seems that in so many places “we” expect them to excel and inspire students to excel using only the bare minimum of resources and public support.

The Effects of School Facility Quality on Teacher Retention in Urban School Districts

Consider that maybe the future would be brighter for EVERYONE in our region if we gave a little more support to those who need it most (disadvantaged CHILDREN).

I just don’t know anymore…

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I wish I knew

What happened today? It isn’t anything new, really. I  know innocent people are lost all the time. Those children in those far off places I’ll probably never visit. I know about drones. Those kids in the part of town I avoid. All those kids locked in the New Orleans drug wars, reported on by the New Orleans news, every single night. I know there are unchecked problems in our world. I  know life is random and often cruel.

Why did this one hit me so hard?

Knowing that the children were so close in age to my own child. The setting. School, that “safe” place we send our children to experience the world beyond our home. My child has only been in a school for a total of six months. Of course I’ve thought terrible things about the terrible things that could happen there, but I made myself dismiss those and trust that there is more good than bad in our world. I didn’t immediately rush to get him this morning when I saw the news on CNN. I didn’t rush to get him when I read the AP alerts. I didn’t rush to get him when the barrage of facebook posts began. I made myself wait until it was close to our usual pick up time. I cried the whole way there. I sat in the parking lot, regained composure, and watched another Mother carefully buckle her child into his seat. Made sure to smile at her. Got out the car and slowly walked to the school building. Slowly. Started to cry again when I opened the building door. Hoping no one would be right there in the lobby, yet ready (and wanting) to talk about why I was crying and even say something about how happy and thankful I was to be here picking up my son, on this day especially. The school was eerily quiet. I was unsettled. The walk back to his room was the longest ever. I watched him for a minute before opening the door. He was with another small boy, playing quietly with a fire-truck and ambulance, of all things. I started to tear up again, but immediately snapped-to as soon as he saw me. There he was. His teachers looked as if they had heard the news and were visibly shaken, but I didn’t have the strength to say anything about it to them then. I didn’t want to bring out waves of emotion that would, more than anything, be confusing and upsetting to a group of 18-36mo children. I smiled, thanked them and wished them a restful weekend. I held my son all the way to the car and told him how happy I was to see him. At least that was no different than what happens every day.

Why did this one hit me so hard?

I hate guns. Two people in my life ended theirs, with a gun. I hate the gun rights arguments. This isn’t the colonial era. I have a very hard time visualizing the solution. My childhood idol, John Lennon, killed by a gun. My husband’s childhood idol and surrogate father-figure, John F Kennedy, killed with guns.  I hate the mixed-up mess that is background checks, mental health issues and vigilante behavior. I don’t know if I really believe there is a solution. I fear a gun ban would lead to riots led by crazed armies of extreme right-wingers. I don’t know. Give peace a chance? I don’t know. Ban guns, stop cutting mental health services, increase funding to mental health services and public education about mental illnesses and post more research about correlations? I don’t know. I wish I knew.

Why did this one hit me so hard?

My friends are teachers. I worked in schools for six years. Schools are not fortresses. Children and their teachers are in school for education, not warfare. The last year I worked in the classroom I was pregnant. In once of my teaching jobs I was a teaching artist for a New Orleans non-profit called “Silence is Violence”.  The organization referred to us as “peace club facilitators” and the idea was to bring artists into classrooms with at-risk youth and their teachers and a social worker to (attempt to) give the kids an opportunity to express their thoughts on violence in New Orleans by using the arts. They still do this program, and they employ wonderful, brave, giving and inspiring people. I worked at an alternative high school (at the time located on the corner of Freret and Napoleon). When I was 6 months pregnant I was caught up in a fight between two 15/16 year old girls. I was standing between them and one said something awful about the other’s friend who had just been killed, by a gun. Something along the lines of he got what he deserved. The girl on the receiving end of the insult picked up her computer keyboard and threw it hard at the other, and then the insult-giver proceeded to push me out the way to get to her. Thankfully (?) their insults had been yelled loud enough for the school’s police officer to hear and he was already near the room and quickly stepped in to break up the fight. I was physically fine. I was (and still am) saddened by the whole experience, but at the same time thankful to have experienced time with these kids.  I never felt anger towards those girls. Only sadness. I offered them both my ear, but they seemed to know that since I hadn’t lived the lives they live I didn’t really understand their pain. I tried. I hope they know I cared. In the end, I know I walked away from them without throwing them a true lifeline or really offering a sustainable support system. Truth is, I was scared of failing them, so I just disappeared when my job was up. I dove into the world of my own child. It was (and is) the best I could do. I hope one day to find the courage to go back into that world, somehow. I don’t have gangster’s paradise delusions, but I dream that I can find some sort of way to work from the inside to help those kids get out. Their world is so full of guns. So empty of hope. I hate guns for what they’ve done to their world.


This isn’t very coherent. I don’t care.

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dirty deeds…


The Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast has been finalized and passed by the legislature, after almost three years of examining data and running computer models, and another year of a public comment and conflict resolution. This is Louisiana’s Hail Mary pass, our imperfect, best, last shot at turning the tide of our coastal crisis.

But before the ink on the plan has dried, it faces great challenges. We at GRN have watched while coal terminals have expanded across the country, as the United States moves away from burning this dirty fuel. These coal terminals have grown into mountains in Plaquemines parish. And RAM Terminals, LLC, is threatening to place another mountain of coal just upstream from the mouth of the Myrtle Grove project.

We need to put the River to work building healthy wetlands in Louisiana, but a river full of coal runoff cannot build healthy wetlands. Coal runoff has PAHs, heavy metals, and other toxins that will cripple the health of the existing marshes, as well as compromise whatever wetlands the restoration project seeks to build.

Not only is this a threat to the health of the people who live near Ironton, but it’s a threat to the health of all of us on the coast that will depend on the success of that project to build healthy wetlands. The coal dust that blows from the coal mountains covers boats in black dust, and gives people black lung.

Tell the Army Corps, Louisiana DNR and Louisiana DEQ, that they cannot allow the premier coastal restoration project, the Myrtle Grove sediment diversion, to be polluted with coal runoff.

For the Gulf,

Aaron Viles
Deputy Director

Gulf Restoration Network

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Big Gas attacks Gasland

Shame on them.

This is not surprising really, considering what the Oil and Gas Industries have done/are doing to those who speak out against them down here in Louisiana…


Affirming Gasland: A de-debunking document in response to specious and misleading gas industry claims against the film.

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