I’m going to the beach with Patrick and his fam for a week…. Say it with me. Go-ing on va-ca-tion…. Go-ing on va-ca-tion…. It has a conga line rhythm to it, doesn’t it?

Bush’s empty rhetoric on AmeriCorps. (Thanks to Josh for the link.) I can only imagine the reasoning behind letting AmeriCorps funding get cut so drastically: Yes, Mr. Bush. Let’s wholeheartedly encourage Americans to volunteer and then take away the most successful outlet that allows them to do so. Let’s promise to expand AmeriCorps and then watch the budget get slashed without saying a word. Let’s in fact create another layer of bureacracy and call it Freedom Corps, but don’t actually give it a purpose or a staff. No one will notice! They’ll think we really care about the poor and the less-fortunate. Right?

“What is this concept of ‘wuv’? It confuses and infuriates us!” — aliens reading an “I wuv you” conversation heart on adult swim

I used to have a day planner that I kept forgetting to write any day-planning in. But it was a cool planner — with a “travel” theme, so it had pictures of vintage travel posters, exerpts from the Odyssey and photographs of famous explorers. I took the planner on trips with me for inspiration to write random stuff. There was an article in the Post today about the Greyhound station in D.C., and it made me remember this notebook, because I had it with me on bus trips from D.C. during the summer of 2001. Here are some snippets, written while traveling with Amanda on a weekend trip to Boston and NYC.

Scrawled across the squares of June 18-24, 2001:

-Do you have to be able to draw to photograph?

-Does the sickness unto death ever go away?
-Is the answer in God? Some find it in monsters.
-Alienation makes you a Hell’s Angel or a hypocrite like me.
-What do I do — to buy coffee. For justice. My slave chocolate and slave coffee are breaking my bank.
-What do I need? What do YOU need? And if I still want it tho I don’t have it am I still a minimalist?

I am home in Washington, DC.
Start the long road home, I said a year ago on a plane, suffocating in freedom
(It was not my water, I was a fish)

Across July 9-15:

“Ladies and gentlemen when you are finished placing your luggage in the overhead compartments please close the compartments so passengers do not bump their heads and we have to delay this train for emergency purposes.” — Train from NYC to DC

On an unusual passenger who sat next to me on a five-hour bus trip:

man searching pockets
crocheted pouch
stones colored green
clicking in his palm
smells of stale subway concrete
fingernails, dirt, dress shirt cuff dust
three hats, three bottle of water
milky water, living water
“Spirit of Life” water
bottled June 18th, good until 2003
palm to face
and baptize (?)
never drink.
in air-conditioned
what is a bath?
switch hats.
click stones
i urgently feel for my stones
my pieces of earth from reston, normandy, padova
blue of ballpoint ink
bled sometime in my backpack.
over my stones i worry fingers
one click
sideways glance
a secret palmed. fist.
secure, we are the same
clicking our stones
on a bus to boston
sir, where have you been?
a holy water bath.
search pockets.
switch hats.

I just got a card from Deanna in the mail this morning. It has two little girls on the front looking super happy and playing on the swings, each with little purse on her arm. The card says: “And in their purses were candy bars. Have that kind of happy.” It was a good way to start the day. Deanna always understands…. she wrote recently on her page: “Sometimes I feel like a 4 year old trying to play with a kitten. I want to love it, the kitten. But like all 4 year olds, I don’t know when I’ve loved something too much. I am one of those toddlers that hugs the kitty too hard. I am going to hurt him. And I don’t even know it. I don’t know I’ve gone to far. I just want to love and be loved. Simply. No matter what.”

Cool projects that help young people learn photography and use their voices and talents:

AjA Project: Multimedia projects involving youth in areas of violent conflict or social upheaval. One exhibit, Lives in Transition: Expressions of Refugee Youth, is coming to National Geographic Explorer’s Hall in D.C. next week.

Literacy Through Photography: Curriculum that gives students a chance to photograph their daily lives and use the finished photos as inspiration for writing about their experiences. The organization where I work is helping put this curriculum into D.C. classrooms, so I spent today coaching kids on writing poems to go with their photos.

One of my bosses recently told me that “we’re running a business, this isn’t camp”… but of course I want it to be camp. Or at least like a very productive coffee shop. Professional…. I feel like I have my whole life to be professional. But that’s what the higher-ups want us to be. And in some ways it makes sense. You get a lot more done if you aren’t upset that your friend isn’t getting along with you today. But I really just want everything to be fun. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Fun, dammit.

“The first lie of fiction is that the author gives some order to the chaos of life: chronological order, or whatever order the author chooses….. Life is not that way. Everything happens simultaneously, in a chaotic way, and you don’t make choices. You are not the boss; life is the boss. So when you accept as a writer that fiction is lying, then you become free; you can do anything. Then you start walking in circles. The larger the circle, the more truth you can get. The wider the horizon, the more you walk, the more you linger in everything, the better chance you have of finding particles of truth.” — Isabel Allende

My old high school has decided to eliminate art classes — not for lack of funds but for lack of interest. Of course, did they ever stop to think that kids have basically been forced to choose between A.P. classes and art classes because of scheduling conflicts? And did they ever stop to think that maybe everyone doesn’t have to grow up to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer? Deanna takes on Clarence High School in a letter to the Clarence Bee.

The office was crazy last week…. Someone was “let go” last Wednesday, sending us reeling: crying on the sidewalk outside the building, long confused conversations, lots of chocolate milkshakes, panic, mistrust, questioning everything we’ve ever believed about the goodness of where we work. Inside the office it felt like we were in a Communist state — the bosses closed their doors while we underlings whispered frightened gossip. By Friday we were all exhausted but feeling semi-sane again. Hopefully the weekend will give us a chance to catch our breath.

Fred sits alone at his desk in the dark
There’s an awkward young shadow that waits in the hall
He’s cleared all his things and he’s put them in boxes
Things that remind him: ‘Life has been good’

Twenty-five years
He’s worked at the paper
A man’s here to take him downstairs
And I’m sorry, Mr. Jones
It’s time

There was no party, there were no songs
‘Cause today’s just a day like the day that he started
No one is left here that knows his first name
And life barrels on like a runaway train
Ben Folds, Fred Jones Pt. 2

“Boy you sure do write a lot of tripe. In the time it took you to compose that last letter, four people could have died of hunger. ” — first line of random e-mail on the AmeriCorps listserv