How He Dances, Write

Screw Tumblr for this one. Let’s go long form, and revive the actual blog.


On my first day at the new AmeriCorps member at my site (which will go unnamed for reasons I’m about to get into), amongst the sheaf of papers I had to sign was a waiver saying that I would not discuss or write about my work in any form of social network or online journal website log, lest it be negatively portrayed (honestly, that’s the only reason they gave). I suppose client confidentiality is an issue as well, but that’s pretty much something my morals added on their own.


I haven’t really made much effort to hold to this, so I’ll still talk about work, but I haven’t wrote about it. Not, again, due to any conscious effort, I just sort of let my unemployment ennui carry over into this new experiences.


Over time, however, I’ve started to feel like I’ve been using that signed agreement as an excuse not to practice my creativity, or even really explore on a personal level how I’m feeling or adjusting to my new little world of learning and poverty. I’ve been floating, while I should be digging (not sure what sort of material I’m on top of in this metaphor, but at least it doesn’t belabor the point). I’ll try my best to hold to the contract, but honestly, a major part of the experience of AmeriCorps, at least as far as I’m concerned, is finding out what kind of adult you intend to be. Writing has always been my primary form of expression and self-examination, and I won’t neglect it anymore. If a student of mine does or says something that speaks to me, I am going to express it in the manner for which I am best equipped at accustomed.


If that happens to be pixels on a screen shaped so as to resemble Helvetica, so be it. And if that happens to be pixels on a screen shaped so as to resemble Papyrus, you have my permission to end me.


Luckily, however, the experience that prompted this new, half-assedly rigorous self-gratification had nothing to do with one of my students, so I’m going to say we’re in the clear.


I often forget to bring a lunch to work. It’s a bad, stupid habit, but the reality of the EBT system and the proximity of a Safeway complete with deli that makes a subtly bomb (and decently inexpensive) turkey ranch sandwich makes it an easy bad habit to rely on. It gets me out of the office, though, and the short jaunt is an experience worthy of in-depth examination. (See my Facebook page for a couple pictures. I probably should do a write up soon.) As bad habits go, it’s not cocaine. Let’s leave it there.


Anyhoo, as I was leaving the office on my way to work today, I came across a young man sitting in the passenger seat of a Camry in our buildings miniscule parking lot. He was not difficult to miss. This guy was really noticeable, though, as he was shouting profanity as loud as he could—again, alone in the car.


Somewhere along the way I must have learned how to be actively compassionate—yes, I’m surprised, too—because I stopped to ask him if he was okay. He paused, opened the car door and asked me to repeat the question, and assured me that he was, in fact, fine.


This is where on a different day I would reveal that he had earbuds in that I hadn’t noticed, but no, no earbuds; as a teacher I’ve learned to look for the telltale wires.


Assured that he’s not going to run into the building and kill everybody in the food bank, I head off down the block, but can’t resist one last look back. Thank Christ I did. The guy (can I say kid? He looked like he was about 18. I don’t want to have start referring to people five years younger than me as ‘kids’) had gotten out of the guy, and was now dancing in the tiny parking lot.


Just dancing. Dancing with so much enthusiasm. Having a dark, foul history in both Ireland and musical theater, I often like to joke about someone being overcome by “The Dance”. I’ve even seen it from time to time. But never have I encountered someone who just dove in with as much enthusiasm as this man. So fully overwhelmed was he by the music in his head that he needed to stand up and just be whatever he was going to be, even if that state of being was dancing by his own blessed self in a food bank parking lot in downtown Kent, Washington.


After the initial wave of what the fuck passed, and I got my lunch, I came back to the office and sat down at my desk and had a stunning realization: I can’t remember the last time I was as unselfconscious as that man.


I know some of you are probably thinking, “But Keegan, you are a shameless ragamuffin, known throughout the land for your beguiling, ne’er-do-wellian, and frankly quite offensive minstrelsy!” To that I say verily, yet it’s true. As often as I seem, or simply am, thoughtlessly goofy, it is almost always followed up by an instantaneous moment of self-doubt. It often doesn’t last more than that single instant, but when it does, it’s torture. But I’m coping, and I’m certainly more self-confident now than I was even a year ago.


Even though I will never live my life like Car Dancing Man, there is still a lesson in his gyrations that I can take home with me: How He Dances, Write.


Again: How He Dances, Write.


Write with abandon, and whimsy; write as if no one is watching, because they aren’t. Focus on expressing yourself, worry about readability later. Write in your car, and if that isn’t enough room, write your way across the parking lot.


Needless to say, the look on his caseworker’s face when she came out of the building was priceless.



(I didn’t edit this.)


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