Update #2: Flagstaff

You know, I was walking along today at the Grand Canyon, on the rim walk of the southern lip, and I was thinking: how the hell do I describe this?

Let me start where I left off. I traveled by bus from New Mexico to Flagstaff, Arizona. On the bus was the usual assortment of backpackers, crazies, and this time a nine-year-old black kid called Patrick.

Patrick liked Pokémon. Patrick liked Pokémon a great deal. We spoke at length about the merits of status effects, psychic types, how the safari zone sucked and how it was going to be super cool when he finally got a DS. He demonstrated to me how he really did want to catch them all, and I realized he was playing a game that I played before he was even born. We got on famously.

But Patrick also saddened me a bit too. He was a phenomenally bright kid, naturally braggadocio, quick to intuition and capable of understanding fairly complex things. But from time to time he would say things like, ‘I mean I act tough. ‘Cause I gotta act tough, ’cause if you don’t,’ he shook his head knowingly, ‘they gonna kick the shit outta you’. Later he was talking about how all life had value and that he didn’t like criminals. I said that sooner or later it always caught up with them, and he nodded thoughtfully and said, ‘especially gang bangers, they get the electric chair’, then an expressive buzzing sound. He then asked me if I liked Piloswine.

That’s a pretty old head for someone so young. It saddened me to hear him talk of people giving up on school at his age, and how he was held back a year because he just stopped caring and so did his teachers. You have to wonder whether this bright young kid, with such promise, is going to be properly served by his education.

I arrived at Flagstaff yesterday. It’s a pretty, peaceful mountain town with a deliciously cool climate after the pressure cookers of Texas and Louisiana. Pine trees dot the slopes of the rocky hills and there’s a generally quiet and rustic air to the streets. I’ll be looking more around it tomorrow, so I’ll expound then.

I want to talk about the Canyon, but like I said at the start, I just don’t think I have particularly adequate words. And I’m running out of time. So, that will have to wait until tomorrow when I shall post the collective efforts of my photography, hopefully to your liking.

Pictures paint a thousand words, but is that going to be enough?

4 Responses to “Update #2: Flagstaff”


  1. 1 Arminas 14/08/2009 at 7:03 am

    oh my garrr. It really has been over 10 years since Pokemon was released. Man, I want to go find my Pokemon Red cartridge now. It’s in a box. Somewhere. Probably at home.

    And as for Patrick, I hope you offered him words of encouragement! Kids like him are the reasons why teachers stick around in schools, in hopes of saving that one diamond in the rough that has yet to be dusted and polished off. I hope he doesn’t give up on his education yet.

  2. 2 Josh 14/08/2009 at 1:53 pm

    Flagstaff is great, it gets real cozy mountain village vibe going during the winter.

  3. 3 Renée 14/08/2009 at 2:24 pm

    Ah nerd conversations. They certainly are ageless, aren’t they?

    “That’s a pretty old head for someone so young. It saddened me to hear him talk of people giving up on school at his age, and how he was held back a year because he just stopped caring and so did his teachers. You have to wonder whether this bright young kid, with such promise, is going to be properly served by his education.”

    This is a burden on my heart almost every day. Even in a private school there are a few who don’t have the support they need, who aren’t surrounded by family or others who show the value of school. It seems that just because you pay for your child’s tuition doesn’t always mean you care what they do about it. I know it can be much, much more prevalent when you don’t pay your child’s tuition directly. I feel the burden even with my students to impress the value of their education, to show them that they are learning skills for success not just facts. When I think about kids in tough schools, whose families or neighbors think doing well in school is actually a detriment, it’s…heartbreaking. Like Arminas said, though, there are teachers in every school being not just the teachers these kids need but the mentors they need as well. I hope Patrick has many of those teachers.

  4. 4 Broichan 14/08/2009 at 3:35 pm

    I’ve met nice people in Flagstaff but if I had to describe the populace in one phrase it would be “Sullen Hill Folk”.


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