Monthly Archives: January 2014

What lips my lips have kissed


What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Edna St. Vincent Millay’s What Lips My Lips Have Kissed is a conventional Italian or Petrarchan sonnet and is the speaker’s reminiscences of the numerous love affairs of her younger days and her regret that such amours were moments of days past that will not be repeated. This poem struck a particular chord with me, since the older I get and the more time I am single, I begin to wonder if my past amours are in the past, not to be repeated again, though hopefully, I am not too old to find love again. I certainly think I am still young enough to still find love again, but some days, I just have to wonder if it will ever happen and “summer will sing in me” once more.

In the opening quatrain Millay refers not to individual lovers but merely to lips that have met hers and arms that have supported her head. Millay admitted her free ranging sexuality and eventually entered into an open marriage with a man who managed her business affairs and was a dear friend. She complains not so much about her early promiscuity but about the passage of time. Her early loves are now “ghosts . . . that tap and sigh.” In line 7 and 8 she refers to them as “unremembered lads that not again/ Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.”

With the beginning of the sestet or concluding six lines, she creates a brilliant and evocative metaphor. She never says, “I am a lonely winter tree,” but the identification of herself with the tree of silent boughs is inescapable. Similarly, the lovers of her youth are birds that “have vanished one by one” leaving her now leafless boughs (read arms) “more silent than before.” Just as she had refrained earlier from identifying whose lips and arms had kissed and held her, she now “cannot say what loves have come and gone.” However, those past days of passion were a “summer [that] sang in me/ A little while, that in me sings no more.”

Certainly there is regret and “a quiet pain,” but the sadness is not shame at her youthful promiscuity but a quiet melancholy that the onset of winter or age that has caused the leaves to fall and the birds to vanish. Were another summer season to come, she would welcome another succession of nameless lips and arms. But in human life we are not accorded renewed youth, renewed leafy boughs and more than one singing summer. This graceful sonnet renews and heightens one’s appreciation of the poet about whom Richard Wilbur said of Millay, ”She wrote some of the best sonnets of the century.” That is a strong compliment from the second Poet Laureate of the United States.

In Loco Parentis


I’ve heard of people losing their day jobs when it’s discovered they’ve done porn, but it looks like a high-school student has been kicked out of school for doing so. Queerty and several other gay news sources are reporting Cocoa High School (CHS) senior and Sean Cody model “Noel,” has allegedly been suspended and will not be allowed to graduate from his Florida high school, after several of his gay porn videos made their way to his principal’s desk. A Reddit poster claiming to be the cousin of one of “Noel’s” classmates also claims that “Noel” was allegedly “severely bullied” by classmates and suspended for 10 days when his extra-curricular activity became known. According to the Cocoa High School Student Handbook: “When a student’s actions are disruptive to himself/herself or to the school as to violate law, Board Policies, or school rules, the student may be suspended by the Principal or designated representative. Suspension dictates that the student shall not be allowed to attend his or her regular classes or school-sponsored activities for a prescribed number of days not to exceed ten (10).”

The suspension also means he will not be able to graduate in June. According to the student handbook, ten unexcused absences (which a ten day suspension counts as) mean that the student will automatically receive a failure from absences/failure to attend in all of his classes for the semester. “Noel” got severely bullied and, instead of helping him, the school will not let him graduate due to him causing a “campus disturbance.” While some students are defending Noel and promising to protest his treatment, the principal is threatening “to automatically expel any student who joins in.”

Regardless of how you feel about an 18 year old high school student in pornography, is it the responsibility of the school to punish him for activities outside of school? I think the question comes down to the legal responsibilities of school’s in relation to “in loco parentis.” The term in loco parentis, Latin for “in the place of a parent”” refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent. It allows institutions such as colleges and schools to act in the best interests of the students as they see fit, although not allowing what would be considered violations of the students’ civil liberties.

As an eighteen year old, this young man has full access to his civil liberties and his school should not be able to punish him for something that happened outside of school. Schools have increasingly taken over the responsibilities of the parents of children. Instead of parents teaching their children responsibilities and morality, parents are leaving this up to the school. However, it is not the school’s responsibility to be the parent. Where was “Noel’s” parents when he was off filming pornography in San Diego where Sean Cody is based? If the parents did nothing to stop this, then why does the school get to take over where the parents failed.

To further explain “in loco parentis,” the first major limitation to “in loco parentis” came in the U.S. Supreme Court case West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), in which the court ruled that students cannot be forced to salute the American flag. More prominent change came in the 1960s and 1970s in such cases as Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), when the Supreme Court decided that “conduct by the student, in class or out of it, which for any reason – whether it stems from time, place, or type of behavior – materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others is, of course, not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.” Adult speech is also limited by “time, place and manner” restrictions and therefore such limits do not rely on schools acting in loco parentis.

Private institutions are given significantly more authority over their students than public ones, and are generally allowed to arbitrarily dictate rules. However, Cocoa High School, located in Cocoa, Florida, is part of the Brevard Public Schools District. Therefore, Cocoa High School is not protected as a private institution, and thus does not hold the same rights as a private institution does when it comes to legislating moral behavior.

The most significant legal test came from a 1969 Supreme Court case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, in which a school suspended students for wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War (Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School). In Tinker, the United States Supreme Court defined the constitutional rights of students in public schools by overturning the students’ suspensions. They did say, however, that when a student’s speech interferes substantially with the school’s educational mission, a school may impose discipline. The problem with this decision lies with the interpretation of how “interferes substantially” is defined, since there is subjectivity in this criteria. Tinker is now being cited in off-campus cyber-bullying and YouTube cases when a disruption is caused in the school building due to the aftermath of these incidences. I assume, this will also be used if “Noel’s” suspension is challenged legally.

Justice Clarence Thomas has argued that Tinker’s ruling contradicted “the traditional understanding of the judiciary’s role in relation to public schooling,” and ignored the history of public education. He believed the judiciary’s role to determine whether students have freedom of expression was limited by in loco parentis. He cited Lander v. Seaver (1859) which held that in loco parentis allowed schools to punish student expression that the school or teacher believed contradicted the school’s interests and educational goals. This ruling declared that the only restriction the doctrine imposed were acts of legal malice or acts that caused permanent injury. Neither of these were the case with Tinker. Nor should they be the case with “Noel’s” punishment.

The main problem that I have with the whole situation is that the school is trying to be the parent, when it is the responsibility of the parent to handle the situation. Compound that with the fact that “Noel” is over eighteen years of age, then he has the ability to make his own decisions, at least legally, though his parents should be more active. I have no idea what “Noel’s” family situation is, but whatever it is, I do not believe that it is the school responsibility to be his parent. I deal with students day in and day out who have little parental guidance, and the parents expect us, i.e. teachers and school personnel, to act as the parent and guide their child. I am not saying that it is not the responsibility of teachers and school personnel to help in guiding a child, but the responsibility is ultimately with the parents. “Noel” is not the one who should be punished, but it is his parents who should have to be the ones held responsible, not an eighteen year old kid. No matter who mature an eighteen year old believes he is, he still needs guidance.

Sadly, “Noel” has learned the hard way the consequences of doing porn, but obviously, he is not shy. I would have never had the gumption to pose for porn when I was in high school, and I expect he will find a way to deal with this. Many young porn models perform in order to make money for college. If reports are correct that Sean Cody models usually make $4,000 per scene and “Noel’ has filmed at least five scenes which amounts to at least $20,000 toward his college fund. However, if he isn’t allowed to graduate, will he even be able to attend college? Ultimately, I think the school overreacted in their decision.

P.S. If you are not a fan of gay porn or but “Noel” looks familiar to you, it is because I used his picture for my “Snow Day” post about two weeks ago.

UPDATE FROM CBS Tampa Bay: School officials have reversed their decision and “Noel” has been allowed back to school.

Local 6 quoted school officials who say the decision to expel was wrong and that they’ve finished their investigation.

“No child would ever be suspended for a job that they have outside of the school environment,” said Michelle Irwin, a spokesperson for the district.

“In this particular case, we had an investigation, which is now complete, and the student is welcomed to come back to talk to Dr. Sullivan about his educational options,” said Irwin.

I will have more on this tomorrow. I want to do a bit more reading and see how much of the story I can get put together for Wednesday’s post.

Looking to the Future


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:11-13

I will admit this last week did not go as I had planned. Last Sunday, instead of boarding a cruise ship for seven days, I returned home to my family after I received the news of my aunt’s passing. To say that this week has been difficult would be an understatement. But I am reminded that God has a plan for each of us. James 4:13-17 states:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”-yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

For reasons that may (or may not) one day be revealed to me, it was not in the Lord’s will for me to take that cruise. God has a purpose for everything he does, and we are not to always understand his purpose, but we must remain faithful that is that His purpose is “to give [us] a future and a hope.” And as much as I wanted to go on that cruise, I knew that if I had forsaken my family in a time of need then I would have failed to do the right thing. My mother needed me, so I sacrificed my trip to be with her and comfort her in her time of need.

None of us knows what the future holds. Just as we cannot tell what the future holds; we cannot dwell on the past either. We have to look toward the future and see the great hope it holds for us. Maybe we have had great glories in our past or we have had great misfortunes, but they are things in the past and if we dwell on them, then we become lost in the past. We must look to the future, even though we do not know what it holds. The future has great hope contained within it, especially if we look to God and seek Him with all our heart. If we do this, then the glory of God will shine down on us, and our future cannot help but be bright.

Moment of Zen: A Favorite


There have not been a lot of moments of zen this week, because of the death of my aunt, missing my much needed vacation/cruise, and going back to school early. Because of the misery of this week, I wanted this week’s moment of zen to be one of my favorite pictures. I used this picture once before on this blog in a different context, but I love it for many different reasons and just wanted to share it. I find it so incredibly sexy. I don’t know if I can describe why I find it sexy: maybe it’s the tattoo, maybe it’s the perfect little nipple surrounded by just a bit of hair, maybe it’s the blond underarm hair, or the freckles, or that he’s not too muscular, the other guy’s hand on his shoulder, or maybe it’s all of the above. I just know that I find it incredibly sexy and it brightens my week to look back on my earlier post with this picture and remember all the subtleties of this picture that make it a moment of zen especially after a particularly dreadful week.

May “The Professor” Rest in Peace


Two characters of movie and television inspired me to become a teacher. Those two characters were the Professor from Gilligan’s Island and Indiana Jones. I think there are few historians or archaeologists of my generation who were not inspired by Indiana Jones, and the Professor was just so incredibly smart. On January 16, 2014, Russell Johnson passed away from natural causes. He was best known for playing the handsome Professor Roy Hinkley (usually referred to as “The Professor”), the very knowledgeable polymath who could build all sorts of inventions out of the most rudimentary materials available on the island, but, as Johnson himself pointed out, could not fix the hole in the boat.

Gilligan’s Island was one of my favorite shows as a young kid (ranking with I Dream of Jeanie, Bewitched, and Scarecrow and Mrs. King). On Gilligan’s Island, the Professor was always my hero. The Professor was a good-looking but nerdy academic, an exaggerated stereotype of the man of capacious intelligence with little or no social awareness. Occasionally approached romantically by Ginger (and guest stars, including Zsa Zsa Gabor), he remained chaste and unaffected. Since I was a kid, who didn’t understand why I was not all crazy about girls and had more of a fascination for boys, it seemed like remaining “chaste and unaffected” was the way to go. It would largely remain my philosophy until I was in my twenties. The Professor was my role model in many ways.

Before becoming an actor, Russell Johnson served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. He was on a B-24 Liberator when it was shot down during a bombing raid over the Philippines in 1945, according to his official biography, and used his G.I. Bill benefits to pay for acting school after the war.

Johnson married Kay Levey on July 23, 1949. Their son, David, ran the AIDS program for Los Angeles, California, until David’s own death from complications of AIDS in 1994. Johnson was a full-time volunteer for AIDS research fundraising since his son was diagnosed. He also had a daughter with Levey, Kim. Kay Levey died on January 20, 1980 in Century City, California. In 1982, Johnson married Constance Dane. Johnson is survived by his wife, Constance Dane, and daughter, Kim Johnson, from an earlier marriage.

Back to School


I wasn’t supposed to return to school until Tuesday, since the cruise was supposed to be until Sunday and Monday was a holiday. I was supposed to be in Belize touring ancient Maya ruins today. However, since I did not go on the cruise and my aunt’s funeral was held yesterday, I decided to go back to school today and tomorrow. It’s not particularly what I had planned to do, but why waste the vacation time. I know that my students have been in good hands; I’ve had a retired teacher subbing for me this week. My only reason for taking the rest of the week off would be to keep an eye on HRH and her continued recovery. HRH, though, is progressing well and has retaken her throne as the ruler of the house, so I’m not too worried about her.

I dread dealing with my students though. Kids today have no boundaries. They always ask questions that I would never have dared to ask my teachers. They will question why I didn’t go on the cruise anyway, because they have no sense of duty and family. They will question why I came back and didn’t take the rest of the week back, because they have no sense of responsibility. They will question the work I left for them to do in my absence, because they have no sense of their own education. Maybe I can use those questions as a lesson on duty, family, responsibility, and education. I think all of those lessons are lessons that should be taught to them at home by their parents, but sadly, none of it is taught at home anymore as parents continually expect teachers to do more and more of their responsibilities. Therefore, I try to teach these lessons to my students, but I try to do it in a way they will understand and not in a way that seems like I’m teaching them a life lesson. It’s a delicate balance, but that’s part of being a teacher and molding young minds.



My original plan today was to be disembarking from a cruise ship at Isla Roatán in Honduras. However, since my cruise was cancelled due to my aunt’s death, I will be serving as a pallbearer at her funeral instead of taking a historical tour of Roatán and getting in some beach time.

For those of you who may not know, a pallbearer is one of several funeral participants who helps carry the casket of a deceased person from a religious or memorial service or viewing either directly to a cemetery or mausoleum, or to and from the hearse which carries the coffin.

A pall is the heavy cloth that is draped over a coffin. The term “pallbearer” is used to signify someone who bears the coffin which the pall covers.

In western cultures, the pallbearers are usually male family members, close friends, or colleagues of the deceased. A pall-bearer in the USA will carry a casket by the handles, and at around waist height. In the United Kingdom, the casket is carried on the shoulders, and the handles are for the most part decorative. All lifting should be done from underneath the casket.

I realize that this is a somewhat somber post, and it’s quite a somber time for me and my family. I just did not feel like righting a cheerful post today, so I hope you will forgive me.

P.S. HRH seems to be enjoying being home. I’m sure after being kept in a kennel for a week, she is happy to be able to roam around some, though she’s mostly resting. Quite honestly, sleeping is what cats do most of the time anyway.

The Cat’s Song


The Cat’s Song
by Marge Piercy

Mine, says the cat, putting out his paw of darkness.
My lover, my friend, my slave, my toy, says
the cat making on your chest his gesture of drawing
milk from his mother’s forgotten breasts.

Let us walk in the woods, says the cat.
I’ll teach you to read the tabloid of scents,
to fade into shadow, wait like a trap, to hunt.
Now I lay this plump warm mouse on your mat.

You feed me, I try to feed you, we are friends,
says the cat, although I am more equal than you.
Can you leap twenty times the height of your body?
Can you run up and down trees? Jump between roofs?

Let us rub our bodies together and talk of touch.
My emotions are pure as salt crystals and as hard.
My lusts glow like my eyes. I sing to you in the mornings
walking round and round your bed and into your face.

Come I will teach you to dance as naturally
as falling asleep and waking and stretching long, long.
I speak greed with my paws and fear with my whiskers.
Envy lashes my tail. Love speaks me entire, a word

of fur. I will teach you to be still as an egg
and to slip like the ghost of wind through the grass.

HRH is finally home and seems much healthier (though she still has another round of antibiotics). See was royally pissed that I had left her down there for a week, and she let her displeasure be known to the whole veterinarian clinic. She hissed, growled, and attacked anything near her, until I got her in the car. Once in the car, she was considerably calmer, and has been quite calm since she’s been home. I’m just so happy she’s home, and I’m pretty sure, so is she.

Marge Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan, into a working-class family that had been hard-hit by the Depression. Piercy was the first member of her family to attend college, winning a scholarship to attend the University of Michigan. She received an MA from Northwestern University. During the 1960s, Piercy was an organizer in political movements like the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the movement against the war in Vietnam, an engagement which has shaped her work in myriad ways. Perhaps most importantly, though, has been Piercy’s sustained involvement with feminism, Marxism and environmental thought. An extremely prolific writer, Piercy has published 17 volumes of poetry and 17 novels. Her novels generally address larger social concerns through sharply observed characters and brisk plot lines. Though generally focused on issues such as class or culture, and usually written from a feminist position, Piercy’s novels have taken on a variety of guises, including historical fiction and science or speculative fiction. Her novel He, She, and It (1991)—published as Body of Glass in the UK—won that country’s prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award; an earlier novel of speculative fiction, Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) has been credited as the first work of cyber-punk.

Piercy’s poetry is known for its highly personal, often angry and very emotional timbre. She writes a swift free verse that shows the same commitment to the social and environmental issues that fill her novels. The Moon is Always Female (1980) is considered a classic text of the feminist movement. Early Grrl (1999) collects Piercy’s earliest work and includes some unpublished poems. Of the autobiographical elements in her poetry, Piercy has said that “although my major impulse to autobiography has played itself out in poems rather than novels, I have never made a distinction in working up my own experience and other people’s. I imagine I speak for a constituency, living and dead, and that I give utterance to energy, experience, insight, words flowing from many lives. I have always desired that my poems work for others. ‘To Be of Use’ is the title of one of my favorite poems and one of my best-known books.” Piercy has also written plays, several volumes of nonfiction, a memoir, and has edited the anthology Early Ripening: American Women’s Poetry Now (1988). Increasingly interested in Jewish issues, Piercy has also been poetry editor of Tikkun Magazine.

In 1971 Piercy moved to Cape Cod where she continues to live and work. She and her husband, the novelist Ira Wood, run Leapfrog Press.

Why Traveling Is A State Of Mind


No matter the duration, each trip is addicting beyond the places, the food, the people and the experience. It is the state of mind and the state of being that I am so addicted to every time I had the opportunity to go see the world and to travel on my own. What makes traveling so enjoyable is the mental state you choose to bring with you while on your travels. It is the exact same kind of mindset that we should be bringing with us through life.

1. The eagerness to get out of bed and start your day

It’s an incredibly motivating and uplifting force when you know you have so much to look forward to in the day and just can’t wait to get started. You might not have had a lot of rest from the previous night, but you still feel charged up and ready to go when your alarm goes off because you know you have a full day of sight-seeing, food-hunting, and cultural immersion to look forward to.

2. The decision to be pleasant to people around you

Because you are on holiday, you might sometimes carry with you a silly grin of happiness with you wherever you go. Sometimes you feel like you have to be on your ‘best behavior’ to people around you because you are like an ambassador of some sort because you are a tourist. Of course, it goes without saying that if you are pleasant, it makes it so much easier for you to get help when you need it.

3. Embracing all experiences as great experiences

It’s an art of being and the art of embracing what comes your way that some people struggle with even on holiday. Some people might feel sour about having to line up for a long time to get into a museum or get upset with how their plans are spoiled by bad weather. If you can stop getting hung up over what it should be as opposed to what the reality is, you might just learn how to be in the moment and embrace it for what it is. Walking in the rain in Paris? Sounds like an experience! Watching an Opera standing up in Vienna? It’s one of those things you have to do once if you are on a budget. Even if you if you have to forego sleeping in a cozy hotel for a night to afford seeing a beautiful city, it makes for an interesting story once you get through it.

4. Taking responsibility for yourself

If it’s entirely up to you to find your way from the city centre of Munich to the bus terminal where you are going to catch a night bus into Bratislava and then find your way to a hostel, you will make sure that you know how to get there and have the necessary information and maps with you when you have to make the trip even if you don’t speak the local language and have never been there before.

There is an analogy somewhere in there about how this should be exactly how we ought to be approaching our life – to decide where we want to go, and make it our responsibility to get ourselves there. We will have to make all the necessary preparations, perhaps ask for directions along the way and try to figure out road signs, but in the end, we will get there.

5. A willingness to be awed and to be filled with a sense of wonderment

It’s far too easy for us to become jaded and to be less than impressed by all that we see around us and to act in a way where we think that we have ‘seen it all’.

Nothing can impress you if you decide not to be impressed. Even the most beautiful of sunsets and the most magnificent of monuments cannot make you feel anything if you choose to be dead inside and numb to it on the outside. When I travel, I allow myself to indulge in some of these addicting mindsets, in hopes that I will one day attain the mastery to apply them as part of my daily life. After all, whether you board a train, a plane, or climb into a car, you’re not only traveling, but exploring the world, too.

This is adapted from a Though Catalog post:

12 January, 2014 07:12

I won’t be going on my cruise. My mother called early this morning to tell me that my aunt passed away last night. It’s more important that I go spend time with my family and help comfort them than trying to go out and have a good time.

At least this way, I can pick up HRH myself from the vet (they plan on letting her come home Monday), and the money I would have spent on the cruise can go to taking care of vet bills.

I had so looked forward to getting away for a little while and putting my trouble behind me, just for a short while. I guess that I was just not meant to go on this cruise.