books are better than boys

I like bicycles, beer, and books.
Some other things I like.

contact me: dommelr (at) yahoo (dot) com

the way we get by

I’m not sure how to start to describe the past month. Maybe I’ll start by saying that it’s true what they say – teachers do not get paid enough. And it’s not just because of the of the 12 or 14 hours days, breaking up fights in my classroom, chasing students down the hall after they bolt out of the room, being cursed at in English and Spanish, the paper balls and crayons flying across the room, or the fact that every morning on the way to work I feel like I’m going to throw up and have to keep repeating to myself ‘today will be better than yesterday, today will be better than yesterday…’

It. Is. Hard.

Let me say it again. It is hard, and I’m not good at it yet. For someone who is used to being good at things, it’s especially difficult. I know I will be a great teacher, but right now I’m struggling. It has been a long month. Some days I’m convinced that I can’t do it, but I make myself smile and I keep on repeating ‘today will be better than yesterday, today will be better than yesterday…’ and some days it is. 

This week felt particularly long, but on Friday I had students in my room for a silent lunch detention and for whatever reason they couldn’t stop giggling. They were being so silly that at one point I had to walk away from them so that I wouldn’t burst out laughing, and then I did anyway. So we just sat there for the last five minutes of lunch, all of us uncontrollably giggling. On Thursday one student talked to me about the high schools she wanted to apply to and what she could do to get better grades this year. She asked if I would help with her application and write her a recommendation. On Wednesday morning, when I was serving breakfast in my room, I let one student DJ and I found out, to my great surprise, my kids like Call Me Maybe. And the moment when it clicked for T. and he ‘got’ prime factor trees and then went on do to extra problems! Those are the moments that I try to remember. 

Every morning we start fresh. I smile and shake their hands at the door because I am genuinely happy to see each and every one of them. It is hard. And it is undeniably worth it.

Books I have thought about writing:

  • The Gay Man/Straight Woman Friendship
  • How to Write Good Poetry When You are Neither Heartbroken Nor Depressed
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
  • To All the Beers I’ve Loved Before
  • History of My Heart*
  • Geography: Not Just State Capitals
  • East Coast Loud
  • Let’s Talk About Right-Of-Way (this one is more of a pamphlet than a book, I want to write it and then have copies for distribution with me always)

___________________________________

*I know that this is already a book of poetry by Robert Pinsky. A beautiful book, which I love. But I that that I often think about life in the context of a ‘history of my heart’.

for Valentine’s Day

Two things from the archives.

1. Not a love poem.
2. A love poem.

How do you know it’s summer?
If you don’t wake up late and sweaty to ride your bike to Taco House and get a veggie burrito in the hopes of curing the hangover from too much drinking and dancing at 700 Club.
If you spend less than half of your day either sitting in front of The Last Drop or in Rittenhouse Square looking at cute boys, playing spot the celebrity*, and waiting to see nearly everyone you know pass by.
If you can’t wander around the Foodery for a ridiculous amount of time trying to pick out a mixed six pack and take advantage of their air conditioning.
If the night doesn’t end with sitting on the stoop, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, or ordering Chinese from Sam’s and hanging out at your pal’s house - and laughing. Always lots of laughing.
If you don’t get eaten alive by mosquitoes the minute the sun starts setting.
(image)___________________________________________
*How to play Spot the Celebrity
You can play anytime, anywhere, with as many people as you want.
The point of the game is not to spot actual celebrities. When you see someone (and occasionally it can be a something) that has at least one similarity to a celebrity you spot them by saying something like, ‘There’s [insert celebrity name] (e.g. You see a fellow with an ugly sweater and you say ‘Oh look, It’s Bill Cosby’). The funnier the celebrity spotting, the better, though no extra points are given for making other player laugh.
For every celebrity spotted you receive one point.
Any one person (or thing) can only be spotted once (e.g. If the dude with the ugly sweater - Bill Cosby - is also wearing a football helmet you, or anyone else, can’t spot him as Joe Montana as well).
When playing with friends you can spot someone (other friends, your favorite bartender, etc) as a celebrity if they are someone that all of you know.
If you see the actual  person (e.g. Bill Cosby, Joe Montana, your bartender) you DO NOT ‘spot’  them. If you do so you lose ALL OF YOUR POINTS. (But say you do see Joe Montana, and even though you’re playing the game you’d like to alert your friends - just preface saying ‘Look, there’s Joe Montana’ with ‘Off the record’ and you’re a-okay).

How do you know it’s summer?

If you don’t wake up late and sweaty to ride your bike to Taco House and get a veggie burrito in the hopes of curing the hangover from too much drinking and dancing at 700 Club.

If you spend less than half of your day either sitting in front of The Last Drop or in Rittenhouse Square looking at cute boys, playing spot the celebrity*, and waiting to see nearly everyone you know pass by.

If you can’t wander around the Foodery for a ridiculous amount of time trying to pick out a mixed six pack and take advantage of their air conditioning.

If the night doesn’t end with sitting on the stoop, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, or ordering Chinese from Sam’s and hanging out at your pal’s house - and laughing. Always lots of laughing.

If you don’t get eaten alive by mosquitoes the minute the sun starts setting.

(image)
___________________________________________

*How to play Spot the Celebrity

  1. You can play anytime, anywhere, with as many people as you want.
  2. The point of the game is not to spot actual celebrities. When you see someone (and occasionally it can be a something) that has at least one similarity to a celebrity you spot them by saying something like, ‘There’s [insert celebrity name] (e.g. You see a fellow with an ugly sweater and you say ‘Oh look, It’s Bill Cosby’). The funnier the celebrity spotting, the better, though no extra points are given for making other player laugh.
  3. For every celebrity spotted you receive one point.
  4. Any one person (or thing) can only be spotted once (e.g. If the dude with the ugly sweater - Bill Cosby - is also wearing a football helmet you, or anyone else, can’t spot him as Joe Montana as well).
  5. When playing with friends you can spot someone (other friends, your favorite bartender, etc) as a celebrity if they are someone that all of you know.
  6. If you see the actual person (e.g. Bill Cosby, Joe Montana, your bartender) you DO NOT ‘spot’ them. If you do so you lose ALL OF YOUR POINTS. (But say you do see Joe Montana, and even though you’re playing the game you’d like to alert your friends - just preface saying ‘Look, there’s Joe Montana’ with ‘Off the record’ and you’re a-okay).

the opposite of sleep

When I was young I would tell my parents, “I can’t sleep; it’s too dark”. And my mom would tell me to just lay still and close my eyes and think happy thoughts so I would have sweet dreams.

In high school (and still) I would have trouble falling asleep without listening to NPR or AM talk radio at a volume just barely audible. So that I could hear voices, but not what they were saying.

When I moved to Chicago, my neighborhood was so quiet at night and I had a hard time adjusting. I would lay in bed and hear…nothing. Except the seconds ticking by on the clock.

And last year I moved to an apartment right by the el. It was two months before I slept the night through.

But tonight everything is just right. It’s not too dark, the train no longer wakes me, I have an audio recording of Dostoyevsky’s “White Nights” at just the right volume, and I’m trying my best to think happy thoughts. 

Wide awake. Not a yawn in sight.

untitled past
mocking me birdswaking sounds morning
mirrors of bathroom toothpaste
splattered      dreamsdevil
birds waking me morning mocking sounds
11/09/2007 This was probably written in 2003-03ish, then edited in 2007 (and again this week). I should really make an effort to write more often.

untitled past

mocking me birds
waking sounds morning

mirrors of bathroom toothpaste

splattered      dreamsdevil

birds waking me morning mocking sounds

11/09/2007 
This was probably written in 2003-03ish, then edited in 2007 (and again this week).
I should really make an effort to write more often.

This morning on Milwaukee Avenue there were three bicycles, all in a row. All of us (bikes and riders) in grayscale. Close enough to catch a draft. Approaching a red light you hear the click, click, click of shoes coming out of pedals. Stopped; heads turn and nod. The light turns green and click, click, click. We are off again.
image via

This morning on Milwaukee Avenue there were three bicycles, all in a row. All of us (bikes and riders) in grayscale. Close enough to catch a draft. Approaching a red light you hear the click, click, click of shoes coming out of pedals. Stopped; heads turn and nod. The light turns green and click, click, click. We are off again.

image via

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