An Open Invitation!

alwinaboutique (9)

After much thinking and consternation of how to best yield my gifts (which obviously are not prized by capitalism, at least not at the rate I’m able to produce content), I’ve begun a Patreon account. Being patronized by my own private Medicis allows me to give you access to exclusive content, including chapters from upcoming books, long essays, already published ebooks, and new poems. I’ll continue to publish free content here, on the Medium blog, on Twitter, and even at the Patreon page (such as this short blog on North Korea and our own war crimes), but getting paid allows me to write more and gooder.

For as little as $5 a month, you can have full access to several books, chapters, poems, essays, and more.

For as little as $3 a month, you can have full access to poems, short essays, and more.

For as little as $1 a month, you have access to all the public stuff and the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve assisted in spreading love and knowledge and peace. And I’ll blow you a kiss. Personally.

Again, check it out!

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Pedestrian Parenting, the book, now available!

Note: There have been some big and stupid formatting issues with the book that have made it impossible to read on various devices. That issue has been cleared up, I believe. So please, if you bought the book already, please get the new, revised version as it is available for free until Thursday, June 14th.

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My newest book, Pedestrian Parenting, is finally available for download onto your Kindle or Kindle app accessible device. It is free this Wednesday and Thursday the 13th and 14th of June. If you have Amazon Prime, you can use that to purchase the book for free (though you only get one book a month. Fair warning that this book is only $2.99 starting Friday. But if you don’t want to get The Hunger Games or 50 Shades to Lose Your Lover this month…). At under three bucks, I think you’ll really enjoy it. Maximum valuety, and all that.

The recurrent theme in both this book about being a dad and in my book about being a teacher is this constant worry that I don’t quite measure up, that I’m not just learning on the job, but on the ropes. It may be an inadequacy complex that I should really get looked at, but I also have a nagging feeling that it’s very universally shared. If so, this book is dedicated to you.

I started the germs of this latest book a few years ago, blogging various stories, collecting others, tweeting and facebooking several other little interactions. Through it all, I don’t think a single sentence survived the knife, no piece looks like it did a couple months ago, no joke has quite the same set-up or take-down.

But the skeleton was there, and is there. Every piece is still meandering, every story not quite complete – partially because life isn’t complete and I never feel a burden to make everything have closure. Maybe that will irk some people, but I’ve always enjoyed the traveling as much as if not more than the destination itself. And maybe that’s what this book is really about – the paths of parenting. Meandering and detouring and finding your way while purposefully getting lost.

And since we’re meandering anyway, here’s a short selection.

When We Bring in the Big Dogs
Parenting media is a funny business. Magazines, television episodes, and blogs shouldn’t be a go-to place for new parents to learn how to prepare for or raise children any more than WebMD should be a place to learn that one has congenital herpes. Television and reality meet to show us how boring the Kardashians are, or how many hot dogs a one hundred and fifty pound man can stuff down his pharynx – not to lecture us. It’s where we observe, point out, and ridicule how horrible other parents are, not where we come to feel remorse for our own failures and shortcomings. I do not come to this beacon of soft, beautiful light to feel any sympathy for the Basketball Wives or for Snookie’s pa. That defeats the whole purpose.
But there you have it. Since most of the West no longer lives in multigenerational community, even diaper changing can be learned through such educational fare as “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
That’s not how I learned to change a diaper by the way.


Primarily, I hope you get a chance to enjoy and dig this book. And if you do, I would like to hear back from you. Perhaps you can even submit a review for Amazon. And if you don’t, well, I’d still like to hear some feedback.

New Blog for Writing

Started a new blog when I realized I needed a different branding than the one I’ve come to be known for here. ‘Cuz here I’m a little bit of a firecracker. In the pants (that didn’t sound wrong at all)

Jason Dye PhDJ is where I’ll be putting stories and articles related to teaching, fatherhood, parenthood, and all that other sissy stuff I like to write about as well. I’ll try and divide my time equally between these two sites – while writing books at a near-feverish pace (for me, at least) and

Speaking of writing books: Shout It from the Rooftops should be – if all goes according to plan – released by the end of this week. This is the first book in the Left Cheek series and it’s about how Evangelical Christians tend to read the Bible. You can check for more updates here, on Facebook, on Twitter, and at the author page here.

I’m sure you’ll like it, but you might be scared to get a copy. Don’t worry, I plan on introducing it for the low, low price of $1.99 over the weekend.

So, again, check out the new blog. You may like it, no?

This Is My First Book

For roughly four years, I’ve been working on much of These Mornings Are Rough on Many a Night: A Hazy Memoir of an Urban Teacher – my oh-so-hahalarious memoirs as a failed teacher in Chicago. Some parts for even longer. I had been holding out for that elusive book deal for so long that I never actually got it published. But I bit in when I noticed that the technology is ripe for self-publishing. Particularly e-publishing.

It’s $2.99. It helps out a worthy cause (me not starving) and allows me the opportunity to kick-start a second career.

So, please, pick up a copy. It’ll work in your Kindle or Kindle app (mine looks nice on my Asus Transformer Droid tablet. Which I wish I never bought and got a laptop instead. But that’s a different story…). If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow it for free. If you’re not, you can preview the first few pages for free as well.

I’d appreciate any feedback (and, yeah, that cover has to go. I know. Was working on it at 4 am).

I’d like to release a second e-book in the middle of next month, that one more closely associated with this blog.

The Destruction of Potted Plants (II)

pt. 1 here, pt. 3 coming

There were some fights in that classroom. One fight occurred in the passing period, between two hot-headed students who each would be involved in several other verbal and physical fights the next two years. It started in a flash (although I suppose the warning signs were there if I had known how to search for them) and effectively ended when I was able to wrangle the struggle to the other side of the room to waiting security. I don’t remember much else about that confrontation. I don’t recall if there was further action directly related to that fight – though I should, by any rights, know. And I don’t remember if other students were trying to get involved with the fight (though I doubt it), were trying to stop it or were merely passively awe-struck by it.

But I do remember the toll that the wildly swinging appendages took on the nearby plants. Because that was all I could bring myself to focus on. I remember looking at the floor and being angry at the destruction of my potted plants. And yet I missed the big, easy picture – the metaphorical writing on the wall, if you may: the destruction of the idea of the classroom as a safe place. The two students (as volatile as they proved to be) exploded primarily not over property rights or religious views. I don’t think they were arguing over who makes the best frozen yogurt.

They were both at the precipice of fear and danger and one nasty or innocuous interaction led to another, escalating to the boiling point. At this point their own sharp-edged, protective words and body language were not enough to make them feel guarded from the dangers that they represented to each other. They would reconcile their apprehension at each other with many moving fists and pointy appendages.

Struggle to Survivephoto © 2009 Adrian Gonzales | more info (via: Wylio)

The students’ social interactions were not cultivated properly. And for this, I sit here, at the center of the blame. I am responsible.

I cannot release myself. I cannot excuse nor recuse. The fact is, as much as it is needed in my environment, I do not know how to greenhouse my students.

I was not taught that in Rhetoric 401 or Pedagogy 315.

pt. 1, pt. 3 coming

Just Like Death, But Conscious (III)

One high school I frequented graduated several of the founding members of The Harlem Globetrotters. Their theme song whistled over the loudspeakers during every passing period. For the entire four minutes. Every day. Every forty minutes. I would imagine “Curly” Neal or “Twiggy” Sanders dribble passing to himself down the halls with his note- and text-books towing, rising, nodding, falling, and rising again behind him in the curious time-delayed force known as gravity. As he passes the dean’s office, he smacks the door just below the window. The dean steps out, yet once again furiously shaking his fist and yelling, “You kids!”

With one exception, every class I *ahem* taught at this school took place in the gym. All the guys would dress up for basketball and the gym teacher would have them play ball all day. I desperately wanted to play as well, and often threatened the gym teacher that I was going to come the next day in my Larry Bird-era shorts and Chucky T’s, ready to learn them young whipper-snappers a thing or two about passing the rock and other such fundymentals of the game of the basket ball as teamwork and disciplined lay-ups and twenty-five foot jump shots. But we both knew that threat that was never going to materializing due to insurance reasons.
Anthony Stover Posting Upphoto © 2009 J Rosenfeld | more info (via: Wylio)


The rest of this essay will be available in a ebook and, as such, I can only give snippets in other forms. Don’t worry, the book will be cheap. And as my own agent, I must add, good.

Just Like Death, But Conscious (II)

Substitute teaching is widely known – mostly by me – as glorified babysitting. Except with less glory. Also, technically speaking, it doesn’t have anything to do with babies. Substitute teaching high school is more like watching paint dry with teenagers. And the truth is I would feel worse for the students than myself. Since few teachers who are frequently absent leave lesson plans, activities, or a sense of daily accomplishment for their temporarily abandoned students, my job basically deteriorated to keeping the noise level down, making sure that only students that were supposed to be there were there, and ushering everybody else out.

Grandfather Clock Face Waters building EXPLORE 4-8-08 2828photo © 2008 Steven Depolo | more info (via: Wylio)
And watching the clock pass.

With teenagers.

The payment for subbing was upwards of $100 per day. Considering that I’m paid that rate for only five hours of nominal “work” and, that at the time, I was single, childless and living in a shared bachelor’s apartment,* it was nice “work” when I could find it. But on average I would only “work” one day a week. Which meant that my mornings were often painfully sad and very slowly disturbing. Like watching Snuffalopolus rummage through the trash in your alley.

The eventual and rare call would come from the central office. The sub-center tells its “workers” to expect a call between 5:30-8:00 am. Most of my calls came at the 6-7 window. Being that my alarm would shake, rattle and/or roll at 4:30, I would be extra sleepy-tired by the time my “work” day would start. Sleepy-tired, as any medical professional would tell you, is a state of sub-cognition wherein one dreams of Winnie the Pooh daintily cascading through the backyard. Extra-sleepy-tired is him being eaten alive by Snuffalopolus in the backyard.

And here’s where I make my caveat: I know people hold down two-to-three jobs all the time and usually for a lot less money. On those occasions that I had foolishly risen in the wee hours and foolishly tried to establish an early-morning walking routine, the only other people I had passed on the sidewalk at 4:30 were migrant workers trying to get first-dibs at the Day Laborer’s (which are temps of a different sort). There are mothers of my students that don’t make it home from work until the middle of the night after a two-hour commute. And, then, of course, there is also the Two-Third’s World and the fact that half of the world’s population gets by on less than $2 a day. But, please, this is my story, so let me do my whining.

I spent many a morning during this period reading my Bible or a magazine or watching a foreign film. I like saying this because it makes me sound all sophisticated and stuff. And that I am. But, in general, I was trying what I could to not fall asleep while tugging the neck of the phone like a teddy bear, duly and patiently waiting for that one expectant ring to pull me into action like a call from Commissioner Gordon.

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*Yes, that sounds sexy. Just like a Three’s Company of just guys. But it wasn’t necessarily so… For instance, we had our very own built-up DIY nerdy loft beds to save room on valuable space. And our Under-Roos wearing was not a sight to behold.

Just Like Death, But Conscious (I)

Welcome to the first of my continuing series of essays! No more adieu:

I have spent an inordinate amount of my waking time waiting. For me, waiting is immaterial, quite literally; it’s a state of not-being, a temporary limbo. The location is irrelevant. Waiting at home is only slightly less tedious, and often more infuriating, than waiting at an impersonal office. Waiting in a personal office may not be that infuriating, because I could look at certificates and posters and photos and pretend that that was me, say, in front of that wonderfully back lit and Jamaican sunrise and next to that middle-aged and homely woman. But then, on second thought, I didn’t want his life. I wanted my own. I would like very much to have my own vacation destination and family beside me, just with his pay, office and benefits. Well, maybe slightly better.

Waiting in an industrial office or waiting room is wretched. It is purgatory spent with a grandfather’s clock that always ticks, but never tocks.

First Class Waiting Room, London Paddingtonphoto © 2010 Simon Pielow | more info (via: Wylio)
… In an effort to finally make some scratch off my writing, I’ve had to pull most of this series off the blog. Please stay tuned for book details. It’ll be out soon. It’ll be cheap.

And it’ll be glorious.

Oh My Blog-a-thon! On Non-Violence

Flashback!

Several years ago, blogging was Teh Tihng To Dos on teh Interwebz! When I joined the movement just over five years ago, it was the way to communicate your constipations and diarrhetic thoughts to the world. This was before Facebook and Twitter became de rigeur for connecting long-lost friends, making new friends, following Ashton Kutcher’s constipations and diarrhetic thoughts, cyber-blasting ideological opponents, etc.
But then I realized that I still had a lot of thoughts/opinions that I could never write out fully in FB, let alone Twitter. And some of my replies were too long – and too repeated – to do anyone any good. So, I returned to blahgging. And I’ve noticed a lot of others have as well. And then there’s others on the verge.
I was thinking about writing on non-violence and some of the democratic experiments that were happening during the early-to-mid sixties when I remembered a staple of blogging from my first go-round: The Blog-a-Thon. Rather than me talking/blabbing/diatribing-for-hours-on-end (and constipating and diarreting), it’d be much more effective/cool/collaborative/exciting/easy/enlightening/fun to do it with friends and fellow travelers.
For the next week (starting this weekend, the 10th, and through the 18th of July), the task is to write twenty posts on the topic of non-violence. The history, the rhetoric, the amplifications, imaginings, stories of, riffs on, poems about… Whatever you can imagine – the more specific and vivid the better. As local, international, household, female-empowerment, educational tool, political weapon, whatever angle you need to tell it.
If you want to sign up for one or more slots, please let me know. When you’re done, send the link to the comments here. If you don’t have a blog but would like to contribute, you can write it as a facebook note, alert me and I’ll copy and paste it on here as a guest post.

Weekend Links We Like to Link to – Super Duper Deluxe Edition!

This is to make up for sucking at blogging here the last few months (although you can still find me – at least through the next month – blogging at ChicagoDads. I think I did some pretty decent posts there this last week, if I do say so myself.)

Maureen Dowd’s righteous indignation at these idiots who take our money and reward themselves for doing it.

Since we’re speaking of harsh lifestyle changes for the rich: It’s the Economy, Stupi… Girlfriends (and mistresses). (Micah via Twitter)

Graphic novelist (and recent Newberry Winner) Neil Gaiman gives it to us straight: Where do ideas come from? Also, just a bit of slant, too.

Be warned: There be slow zones and zombies ahead! (Jeffrey Overstreet via Facebook)

Berkeley, oh, Berkeley. Thanks for reminding me of where hippies went wrong [and why I want to kick them]. (@spydrz via Twitter)

Young Adult Literature writing kit
. If it sounds familiar, that’s because it’s been done, time, and time, and time, and time again.

Another reason to not name your boy Sue or Roddrick: Jail time. (ibid)

Guy’s a genius

And this time I’m not being snarky.

Seth Godin is famous in the advertising copy world. Of course since until recently I never followed that world, I never heard of him. But I’ve started following one of his blogs (if I recall, he’s got others). The guy knows how to write economically, with an eye on the upcoming trends, and right to the point.

And he’s an evangelist for the gospel of long-term vision. Consider this:

The stock market is going to be bonkers today.

And for most people, it won’t matter so much. Because most of us aren’t focused on flipping assets. We’re building value by creating interactions that work…

[I]t’s easy to get distracted by external noise instead of focusing on what counts. Hint: They started Google in the middle of the dot com melt down.

The short-term consequences of an unstable stock market are real and uncomfortable. More (and better) adult supervision would have gone a long way, imho. But we can’t control this, all we can do is focus on what matters.

Hang in.

I wanna be like him when I grow up.

Readings, Get your fix o’ Readings Right Here!

First off, I am so proud of myself. I finally finished a good big book. That’s right: Richard Scarry’s Big Book of Bestest Storybook Ever. Started it in second grade; was never able to put it down or get past those funny images. And, did I mention, it is really big.

Taylor Branch wrote at least one supreme masterpiece of non-fiction (what other type of fiction is there?) in Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65.* I think that The Boston Globe was very adeptly accurate in calling it “Jet-propelled history.”

The second-of-three on the America in the King Years trilogy (the first being the Pulitzer Prize winning Parting of the Waters and the last being the more recent At Canaan’s Edge, neither of which I’ve read, yet), the series is not so much a biography on Martin Luther King, Jr. as a tour-de-force lens on reading the U.S. through the focal point of King. The historic March on Washington gets but one paragraph, and much of that focuses on Malcolm X and other leaders. Only a few passing notes are made on the “I Have a Dream” speech. In this 600 page tome, Branch has less-famous fish to fry.

Two of the most captivating and central figures in the book are Vice- and then President Lyndon B. Johnson and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s torn and born leader Bob Moses.

Moses

Other intriguing giants in this land include King’s right-hand man Ralph Abernathy, the entrenched and fearful state of Mississippi, the austerely beautiful and strong Fannie Lou Hamer, the arch-conservative self-bureaucrat J. Edgar Hoover, Barry Goldwater, the presidential candidate who turned the Republican Party against the Legacy of Lincoln, J.F. and R.F. Kennedy, the NAACP and the NCC, Elijah Muhammad and his tight and violent grip on the Nation of Islam and its defactors, the New York Times and the press, the extreme activists within King’s SCLC Diane Bevel Nash and her husband James Bevel, the ingenious and tragic Mississippi Freedom Democracy Party, the aforementioned Malcolm X, the four girls in that church in Birmingham, and haunted and neglected leader Lawrence Guyot.

I want to do a series of essays on this book. It’s just that profound. I can’t get it out of my head.

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Shhhh… I’m very secretly working on a book right now. I want to say a lot more about it, but it’s about half the way to the point where I can even show parts of it. And maybe about 1/6th through to where I feel it can be published as a work, if I’m good and continue at it. Lamott was always one of those dry and just slightly eccentric left-of-center witty-izers who I admired from a distance. This book on writing is like taking an MFA class with her. Except that by only paying $11, I don’t feel the guilt of not having spent my money wisely unless I write a billion pages a day. And really, who has time to write when you’re reading all day?

Sports Illustrated. Because somehow, I let myself get talked into two pick-em leagues and one fantasy football league. And we. don’t. actually. watch. t.v.

Contemporary Issues in Curriculum: Fourth Edition, ed. by Ornstein, Pajak, and Ornstein. There’s no hiding it. It’s probably the most boring $80 I’ve spent recently. There’s 20 hours I’ll probably never get back!

*BTW, notice that Amazon is selling it for 6.5 USD? Scoop up your copy NOW.