Permit me, if you will, to set the scene. It is 5:30am. I am ill. Well beyond manflu , I was very much under the weather, but well enough to go into work because, after all, I’m irresponsible. It’s the winter, so it’s still dark. I had just finished (begrudgingly, I might add) a half hour workout lead by some fitness instructor who spent 90% of the class mugging for the camera and telling me that this next one was one of her jams. So cheery little joyful sunshiny go lucky eric was a wee bit crusty that morning.
In typical fashion, I stumbled around in the closet, dripping wet from the shower because I couldn’t be bothered to dry off, and blindly grabbed what I hoped were all the necessary pieces of clothing for the day, assembled my uniform, and proceeded with my morning - getting yelled at by my children, spilling coffee on the counter and behind the cabinet, wrestling underwear on my children, realizing we were mostly out of milk, convincing kids that the “thin milk” was actually more healthy for you and way more yummy, and then herding them all out the door to drop off at school/daycare before I headed in to the classroom.
When I get to school almost every day, regardless of how my mood was at home, I’m usually in a pretty great mood. Sure, I am always behind, there’s a litany of emails, I’m never happy with my plans, but, man, those kids! They might bug you at home, parents, but they are magic makers in the classroom.
The kids arrive, the day starts, and it’s morning meeting. During morning meeting we sit on the floor in a circle, chat, build relationships, question each other, share about our lives - create an indestructible community of learners that are there to support and challenge each other as we navigate through our learning. We’re sharing, chatting, and, on this day, dissecting a photograph made by Nick Brandt. In the middle of our discussions, a student sitting next to me asks, “Mr. L., what do your socks say?” It is at this point that I would like to refer you back to my opening paragraph. I was sitting cross legged with the class on the carpet, as I always do, and as I glanced down to look at my socks, this is what I saw:
To give you some context, my wife had established, many years ago, a Chanukah tradition that I adore. On one of those eight crazy nights, I would get a pair of "funny" socks. When I was a photographer, they would be my lucky pair that I would wear on every longform assignment that year. In the recent years, they were some of my favorite go to socks for the classroom. This year, of course, the socks weren’t school appropriate but they got thrown in the sock bin with all the other socks because obviously that's where socks go.
In response to the student’s question and my mortification and realization of what was happening, I quickly mumbled something about being really hot and rolled my socks down. Then I put on my best teacher voice and tried to ask questions so engaging, we couldn’t help but ignite our in depth conversations about using photography as a means of activism and the power of
To make matters worse, of all the students in my classroom, the one that “thought he saw something” was that student (every teacher has one) that is so passionately curious, when they get a bug or an itch, they don’t let it go. Digging and digging and digging... “Wait, what do they say? Is it funny? Is it a joke? We should design our own socks! What if we all used your socks as a design and then made socks to do activism, like we’re talking about in the photo!”
Damn. What a great idea. And here I am with f-bombs on my socks and I can’t use them as exemplars or, what I would have referred to as mentor texts, but I bet you can guess what I did for project the following year, utilizing the skills of persuasive writing, encapsulation, graphic design, research, and effective communication.
I carpe'd the fuck out of that diem.
This continues to be hotly contested by my wife↩︎
The other 10% was likely instruction, but I was too out of shape to hear the instructor. ↩︎
10% milk, 90% tap water↩︎
A place no human should ever visit↩︎
It’s great to have you here. Thanks for coming along for the ride.
🇰🇪: My favorite place to be here (so far) is Karura Forest
📖: The Dublin Trilogy by Caimh McDonnell
📷: First Day of School