My First Day Teaching

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5:40. I get up. One of my housemates is already hogging the only bathroom. Cheap cigarette smoke blankets the air. I am going to choke.

6:40. Just learned that I have to make a paper star to give out to my “star pupil of the week.” Since I haven’t even started teaching yet, I’m not sure what to do. If I draw a blue star with stripes, little eyeballs, and a smiling mouth, that should make a fifth grader happy, right?

7:15. School assembly begins. Two little girls bring a large flag of Honduras to the center of the stage. Everyone else starts singing the national anthem.

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Get to Know the Artist: Chris Riffle

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Meet Chris Riffle, a folk artist originally from Washington and now based in New York. Chris has an incredibly honest voice, mesmerizing listeners with its quiet, rhythmic appeal. Chris has recently teamed up with Alesia Exum to produce a music video for his single “Nothing But the Waves.” This song is delicate and alluring – the perfect soundtrack to unwind, relax, or maybe contemplate the grand meaning of things. With its wonderfully cinematic, surrealist qualities, this video captures art and creativity at its finest. Get to know Chris and his artistic vision in our exclusive interview below.

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Hire Steve

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Steven Miller asked me to write this letter recommending him as a middle school English teacher, so here it is. I have known Steve since high school. We sat next to each other in Jim Freeman’s European History class and I made wise cracks and Steve laughed at them. Steve had an enormous head and looked a lot like Dave Letterman to me. Others disputed the resemblance, but they disputed nearly everything. They had what you might call a perverse contrarian streak. Of course, this is a matter you will be able to judge at the interview, provided you know who David Letterman is.

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A Tale of Samarkand

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“It’s so dark, where am I?” came her words of distress
Miriam wasn’t supposed to be blind
It was a weather stricken condition she’d learned to detest
The gods of the Kyzyl Kum desert were to blame for it
going out into oblivion to escape invading hordes was dangerous
The hottest day of the year took her vision & strangled it
Heat exhaustion caused a stroke, even fleas were coughing, comatose
when she whispered pleas, walls erected –
the green Earth shut its contents… armaments of darkness flowed
Exiled to the shadows; the muted springs of nowhere
while her husband was busy stargazing, she’d sit in her oak chair
Every ounce of the visual spectrum so bare it blacked out Samarkand

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War of My World

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Pieces of earth turned into a cloud of dirt. Another blast quickly followed in its footsteps. The sky was thick with smoke, raining down tears of mud. Voices were lost in all the confusion. The world continued to vibrate and shake as two men ran for cover.

“How the hell did we walk into this?” “We just did, Sam.” The soldier looked over his shoulder as another explosion rocked the earth. “We just did.” All he could see were giant holes laid out before him. There was no sign of life except for him and his friend.

“They definitely caught us off-guard, John.” The other soldier slid into a foxhole and started to reload his rifle.

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The Giver Revisited

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A few months ago, I wrote a movie review on The Giver. While I was writing that review, I struggled to see the wrong in a colorblind and homogenous society devoid of conflict as seen in The Giver. I ended up arguing that the “wrong” in the society was the giving up of control, freedom, and personal choice for the sake of safety. I didn’t really give much thought to the movie after all was said and done until I saw a video clip in my race and ethnicity class of a newly created suburb after World War II. This real-life neighborhood looked eerily familiar to the neighborhood Jonas and his friends inhabited in The Giver.

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Get to Know the Artist: Cordelia & The Buffalo

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One of the reasons Cordelia Vizcaino of electro-indie pop band, Cordelia & The Buffalo, became a musician was because her teacher told her not to do so. Since then, she has continued to defy rules and fought back with her music, speaking against the Venezuelan military police in one of her tracks, and creating a unique sound inspired by Mexican Indian and Native American tribes. Composed of members from diverse backgrounds, the band’s “purpose is to
 give voice to those who aren’t listened to.”

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The Quiet Room

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August 21, 2050. 5 p.m. They brought her in. She was bloody, disoriented, and hysterical. She mumbled incoherent sentences as they pulled her past me. Like a doll, she was thrown inside, and then the white wall came crashing down, cutting her out from this world. A handprint pressed against the panel. Infinite, which was strange for the ones brought here mostlylasted anywhere from a day to a few years. There was one who was of different circumstances, who remained behind the white wall for over ten years. Was she the same?

I knew better than to ask questions. I received their paperwork, and without a word, they left.

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