Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Thoughts While Listening to Joss Whedon's Q & A at Comic Con: San Diego

 I'm watching a Joss Whedon interview at Comic Con: San Diego that I found at BuffyFest.

Here are my thoughts while viewing and listening to the Whedonverse puppet master, Joss Whedon. 

I've decided that I am one day going to comic con, only the biggest friggin' comic nerd conference ever.

I wanna push my nerd limits.
and co-author something with Joss.
that's another goal.
Is that like "crossing the streams"?

These people asking Joss questions are so nervous! It's hilarious. I wouldn't be such a nerd if I was having a conversation with Joss. 
OK. Let's be honest...
...I'd pee a little.

But at the advice of my friend, Shan, I'll just wear Poise.

Joss just said he would take buffy to broadway.
if possible.
and Dr. Horrible in adjacent theaters.
My life just got 97% better.

I'd totally fly to NY for Buffy, the Musical.

Joss just said he wrote Alien Resurrection. I didn't know that. Or maybe I did. I suppose there was a dusty spot in the very corner of my mental Whedonverse file cabinet.
I know he wrote Toy Story. Or was a writer for it.
Really Joss??? Another Dr. Horrible? 
Dr. Horrible II! 
I don't think two double blinks is enough excitement!
He has to revive Captain Hammer!
Joss has no plans to turn Dawn into a superhero. 
Which is good, because if she were, she'd have the ability to yell "GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT" at shrill tones. 
...oh wait...

WTW? Xander and Dawn are together! I have got to read more of the comics. I'm way behind. ugh. 
And ew. Xander! Dawn? She was like 5 when you became a teen. icky.
A series about Ripper would kick vampire ass! 
Someone just asked Joss if he'd ever written anything awful. 
After insisting with feigned (not-so-feigned) arrogance that everything he writes is gold,
He went on to say that a few scripts were by a young Joss. And some letters to his mom were pretty "self-indulgent". 
Hahahahaha, Joss. I am laughing out loud. 
It seemed to merit spelling those words out fully. High accolades, indeed, in today's world.
Do you think HA is really just short for "High Accolades"? 
It is now.

Ooh Ooh! End with the "Dance of Joy". 
Good-bye, Joss. 
godspeed gloryspeed!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Double-Dutch for Adults

You wouldn't know it by looking at them, but they're on to you.

Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to have a conversation about how "cute Sam Waterman's butt looked in those jeans" or how mad you are at mom because she made you stay home from the jr. high dance because of a little fever and mild case of botulism? But you didn't want any adults in the vicinity to catch onto your really important, perhaps life-changing prepubescent conversation?

Enter "double-dutch", a type of language that takes regular English and injects it with the "I-bee" sound after the first consonant in every syllable.

Here's a sample 7th grade statement:

"Ask your mom if you can come to the sleep over, but don't tell her it's a boy-girl party."

And here's the double-dutch translation:

"Ibask yibour mibom ibif yibou ciban cibome tibo thibe slibeep ibover, bibut dibon't tibell hiber ibit's iba biboy-gibirl pibartiby."

(Some 35 yo dude just broke away from World of Warcraft and nodded slowly at this pronouncement, as if the secrets to the female gender had just been unlocked, only to have his reverie broken by a knock at his bedroom door. It was his mom bringing up a soy peanut butter and banana sandwich--crusts removed. Phew. Our secrets are safe.)

My point is that we need a double-dutch for adults. I've discovered this recently when my daughter, who will be going into 1st grade next year, listened with her head cocked like a canine during a conversation between my husband and I about the possibility of taking the kids to the p-o-o-l, and that I might take them to mc-d's afterward. She perked up and said, "I wanna go to the pool and mcdonalds!" (I know. How ever did she crack my code. I mean, I put Langley-ish effort into spelling those 2 words.) Of course,my 3 yo was then on the bandwagon and there was no way we could back out of it then. We were pool and McDonald's bound whether we liked it or not.

So here it is. Double-dutch for adults.

If you wanna say:

"I'm thinking of taking the kids to the pool. Whatcha think? " 

Here's the adult double-dutch version:

"I'm pondering transporting the progeny to an aquatic recreational facility. Do you concur?"

Instead of saying:

"I don't feel like making dinner tonight. Should we order pizza instead?"


"My culinary prowess is retired. What about circular leavened bread layered with pressed curd and ground swine and bovine slices."

Don't try mouthing this behind your hand:

"I'm gonna sneak out for a few hours to get Christmas presents for the kids. Keep 'em distracted for me."

Just blurt:

"I'll be abandoning this structure for a few 360's around Father Time's face in order to procure latter-day frankincense, which is traditional in celebrating the evacuation of Mary's uterine phenomenon. 
Divert the offspring.

Don't whisper:

"I can't find the boy's Buzz Lightyear action figure. Do you think he'll still be able to sleep tonight?"

Candidly say:

"There is an absence of a plasticine protagonist whose moniker implies an altered consciousness and 365 days of electromagnetic radiation traveling in a vacuum. Do you think REM will be achieved?"

OK, that last one is a bit confusing. But I say the more riddle-esque, the more fun!
Can you think of some too? The more the merrier.

(inspired by an episode of How I Met Your Mother, but I can't remember which one, otherwise, I'd have linked up.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Metaphors for Student Motivation and Engagement

CW shows six steps to keep "clock watching" students motivated and engaged.

Inspired by a Strainer
"Students’ brains are strainers.  They catch the bigger, more important and relevant bits, letting the little things, the ones that don’t matter to them, flow into the garbage disposal. Of life."
--By Timbre, Penny, Jon

Columbo with a magnifying glass
Inspired by a Magnifying Glass
"When someone forces their interests on us it can magnify our reluctance. There are times when someone else’s enthusiasm can excite us. But often at school, a teacher can be fooled into thinking that just because he loves A Tale of Two Cities (or zombies) or she is passionate about conjunctive adverbs, his or her students will become English majors through osmosis. We can’t see how our own individual interests fit our teachers’ so we feel blinded to possibilities. If we can focus students’ interests they will catch fire."
--Sarita, Debbie Dean, and Chris Crowe

A Measuring Tape is a Motivation Inhibitor (Click me)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What is wrong with the world?

True story:
I got onto youtube to look up something (I can't even remember what) and I started typing my question...

"What is the..."
Here's what was automatically filled in as, I'm assuming, the most popular searches on youtube. I daresay, I'm a little dumbfounded.
  • what is the illuminati [Did a new Dan Brown book just come out?]
  • what is the best gun in black ops [I'm picturing the trench-coat mafia looking this up on youtube whilst picking his teeth with the bones of the neighbor's cat.)
  • what is the difference [between... TOP 3 from this were: 1. dr dre 2. between speed and velocity 3. between me and you dr dre.]
  • what is the gospel
  • what is the most viewed video on youtube [Intrigued? I'm betting it's the Rebecca Black video. But didn't they pull it?]
  • what is the best [...TOP 4: 1. class for black ops 2. hunter pet 3. way to get your ex back and 4. cure for a yeast infection. My thoughts: Yeesh. What does "hunter pet" mean anyway? My second thought: Hopefully that wasn't the same person with all of those inquiries.]
  • what is the meaning of life [We're looking for this on youtube now? hmm...times are a-changin'.]
  • what is the internet [Really? (pause. head cocked to the side.) Really?]
  • what is the problem with your dog [Mine is barking at a DVD of 101 Dalmatians right now, so I get this one.]
  • what is the love [Song title, right?]
The other day I did this with "How to use a..." and the most controversial (and 7th) auto answer was "How to use a comdom male" (spelling error intentional.)

That makes my heart sad.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Welcome to our lives, dog.

Spike hiding under our bed.

 We got a dog two days ago, a cute medium sized chihuahua terrier mix named Spike. I love dogs and have personally wanted a chihuahua for a number of years. I remember being a child and visiting a relative with a chihuahua. I loved how much energy it had, how it would chase its own tail until it got dizzy and fell over.
Spike has half that much energy, which--now that I'm mother--is a good thing. I think a pure-bred chihuahua would give me too much anxiety with all that yapping and hyperactivity.

However, Spike is flawed. Having been a rescue, it has fear issues. He's trained to scratch on the door when he needs to go to the bathroom, but when you pull out the leash to take him out, he flees the scene like animal control just showed up. Then, you have to retrieve him from his hiding spot with coaxing and treats (and brute force if that doesn't work). That is if you can find him.

I've discovered Spike wedged between the couch and the wall, between the loveseat and the wall, under my bed in a nest of lost popsicle sticks, crayon drawings, and matchless socks. Once he hid on a bookshelf. Another time he squeezed between the fridge and the wall. But my favorite was when he managed to sneak into the garage and somehow got into the car (probably a door was left open by my 3 yo).

All this avoidance only increases the urgency too pee or worse, and he has already had 3 accidents in 2 days. [sad face]

In addition to having the fear factor, Spike is a licker. He waits for you to nestle on the couch or in bed and then wiggles his way into your lap or the nook between your neck and shoulder and proceeds to lick you until you have a tongue burn on your skin. He could be hired by Neutrogena as a new facial cleanser. (That is if they could get past the smell).

"I pee on the carpet. So what?"
And then there's the shedding. My husband assured me that Spike barely shed, but I when I came home that day and somehow--before even meeting Spike--ended up with a dog hair in my mouth, I drew my brows together on the "no-shedding" claim. Later that day I went upstairs to work out to my Jillian Michaels Last Chance Workout DVD. One part in the routine requires up-downs, where you get in plank position and then one at a time ease yourself down on your elbows, then back up. As I'm moving up and down, I'm noticing a fine layer of fur on the carpet. Scattered bits here and there, light enough to disappear into the carpet unless you are looking inches from the floor. I got down to get a closer look, and before I knew it hairs from floor stuck to my sweaty arms and legs like I was made of Velcro. My gag-reflex activated, I abandoned the rest of the workout and jumped in the shower. 

And the worst part about it is that since we rolled out the welcome mat for Spike, I've noticed an increase in itchy eyes, headaches, and that crummy feeling I get when my allergies are going haywire.

I might be allergic to him.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Forrest Gumption

I realize that Forrest Gump won some Oscars back in the 90's, and that this post will be like poking the bear, but here I go...

Forrest Gump had some challenges of the mental variety, true, but he is a symbolic representation of people who lived during that time period who in the swirl of movements, didn't thoughtfully pick up a torch. He is juxtaposed with people who do pick up a torch, take an active role in fighting for their goals or convictions, only to FAIL horribly. If we are to find FG the hero of the story, we would need to accept that he is a static character with no growth. He remains the same throughout all his years. I am not contesting that he isn't a good person. He obviously has good qualities, but like the feather, FG floats through life. He has no anchor. Jenny and Lt. Dan are the products of their choices by the end of the film, and FG is the product of his non-choices. Most of his decisions were made for him or were made by accident. Is this the example we are meant to follow. Is he the hero we ought to emulate?
My friend Gary, added his perspective. After reiterating the part of the movie where people started following FG on his continental run, one follower asked him why he ran, and FG responds with "I just run". or something to that effect. Gary uses that example to support the idea that the film is poking fun of people who follow leaders blindly, without substantial reason.

But mine is not the only opinion.

This isn't the same article that I had, but it's pretty close to what I was trying to articulate.

This is an article that I agree with partially.

Here's an argument that hasn't been fully developed and has some grammatical errors, but has clear voice and some valid points. (beware of the cursing.)

This probably the popular opinion on FG. (click me)

Here's another point of view on FG. Kinda sappy. But some good points. 

I'm starting to realize that there are a ton of points of view on FG, as there should be. It solidifies my theory that there are more than "one right answer" to a question.

What do you think?

Is there only one right way to view FG?

Award-Winning Author

Today's Scribble prompt at CUWP: Write about your good and bad experiences with writing.


They happen to be within the same experience.

I entered my first and only writing contest back in 2004 when I was 8 months pregnant with my first child. The contest was in Helper, UT, and they were offering a cash prize of $300 for the first prize winner; $200 for 2nd place, and $100 for 3rd. Excited to try out my new found talent for the written word, my husband and I booked a hotel in the Price area and I entered the contest.

At registration, the contestants were given an envelope with a photo inside that would be the inspiration for a story. Any story and any genre we wanted to write. The story was due 24 hours later. It would then be reviewed by a panel of readers, ranked, and judged. The top 5 stories would be posted in the window of the small town theater.

I was exhilarated that my story, a piece about a woman who makes literal pact with the devil to save her marriage, was on the window! I read all of the other stories, and felt confident that I would at least place in the competition.

A few hours later, the award ceremony began.
Third place winner was announced.
Not me. Phew.
There was still a chance.
Second place winner... my heart pounded, anxiety rising. If it wasn't me, I could still be named the winner.
I took a breath. Waited.
And my name was called.

I used the $200 bucks to pay for the hotel we got in Helper.
But the plaque still hangs proudly on my wall.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Poem Inspired the Logan Huntzbergers of the World (Gilmore Girls reference)

He's reserved,
Luring in the prey with cool indifference.
     Saying little.
Using the rhetoric of silence
     and nuances.
Leaving crumbs like jewels
     to the masses.
Confidence emanates like
     the subtle fumes
     of gasoline.
He shrugs off failures
     and scrapes the gum from his loafer,
     raising his chin.
He buries his insecurities
the UVrays of fluorescent bulbs,
a million dollar home,
the breasts of a
     million dollar wife.
Success defined
     in the number of zeroes after that "one".

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Have a Crush on CUWP (& a limerick by Chris Crowe about me)

(Inspired by "Knoxville, Tennessee" by Nikki Giovanni)
 By Rena 

I always like CUWP best
you can eat fresh fruit
and cinnamon glazed doughnuts
from the corner bakery
and write
and read
and talk about writing
and reading
By then it's lunch time
and if you're not too grossed out
by Jon's "spit"
you could eat again.
a Cafe Rio green chili verde salad
with mango salso
or pizza
and micro-brewed root beer.
CUWPies talk about Zombies
and Kewpie dolls
and cops and cats
and Brazilian men
We make blog posts
and comment on blogs
and make new blogs
and pour out our e-hearts.
but not the story about--
or the one with the--
We become a community of friends
of colleagues
of writers.
           See you at the book signing.

Ironically, I had this photo of me from
2 years ago in D-Block in Alcatraz.
(Below is a limerick that Chris Crowe wrote about me today. What do you think it means? Who does his think I am? Maybe I shouldn't ask him to write me a letter of rec for grad school...)

Chris Crowe to me:

There once was a teacher named Rena
Who dodged a pending subpoena
The cops were aghast
But caught her at last
And she now works a different arena

(Here's a the limerick I wrote about Chris Crowe:)

There once was a man from London
He thought that we all knew of him.
We all knew him well
But still no one cared
Still Crowe's ego's as big as a melon.

(hehehe. Good times.)

Monday, July 11, 2011

No Man is an Island, Unless the Island is Full of Bikini-Clad Women

Is humankind a rational entity? Does he or she act mainly on the basis of thinking something out or does he or she act on impulses which may be based on emotions, instincts, or biological drives?

I ponder this question every time I learn of a someone in a seemingly awesome marriage having an affair with a cliche. The hot secretary. The nurse with the tight bod. The McSteamy Doctor. The rough-and-ready blonde bombshell. [eyes rolling.] Learning of these affairs leads me to believe that men and women are often minions to their biological drives, and that logic either a) doesn't have a place in the pleasure center (PC) of the brain, or b) that somehow the PC has rewired the brain to create its own logic regarding the acceptability of having an affair. Little loin-shocks whisper to the brain: "I'm in love with this person (not my spouse), and love is the only truth worth living for" or "My own spouse doesn't understand me, and this other person does. I need to be in a relationship that makes me happy" all the while smothering the cries of real logic (and it's concerns regarding children, finances, and the emotional well-being of all affected parties) with the fevered dreams of sexual rediscovery.

I won't be the first person to say that the institute of marriage doesn't have its speed bumps and potholes in the road. You'd be a fool to believe that the "happily ever after" scenario isn't fiction. The Disney movies tend to leave out the scenes where the Little Mermaid has to go to therapy to for postpartum when her first born is born with webbed feet and gills or how Jasmine prays to the gods that Aladdin will stop playing Xbox long enough resolve the peasant uprising crisis or how the prince realizes he ought to have gotten to know Aurora a little bit more prior to marriage, instead of basing a whole relationship on a few campy duets and a comatose kiss.

I'm not an expert on marriage or anything, and I only have 9 years of matrimony under my belt, but I'd say the "safer" marriages are the ones that were carefully selected. Both partners chose each other based on a recipe of 2 parts logic, 1 part biological attraction, a dash of instinct, and a sprinkle of emotion. And if you really wanna avoid getting cheated on, make sure to marry someone who is a logical person, one who reasons things out extensively. I'm not saying you'll be completely safe from abandonment, but it'll help your odds. A logical thinker rarely chucks reason and years of fidelity for a roll in the hay with Capt. Pheromones.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Zombie Haiku inspired by Chris Crowe's bad poetry collection (his words, not mine)

Yes. I found a Zombie Lego photo.
(syllables counts off, because they were lost in translation. ...I swear.)

 2 Zombie Haiku
By Rena

Zagat's Guide for Zombie Dining

I eat at College.
I think he is a professor.
Sophisticated dining.

Zombie Cautionary Tale

Beware of shot gun,
Don't eat Psych patients.
At first "tap", play dead.

3 Zombie Haiku 
by Jonathan Ostenson

Undead Dr. Fred,
a famous psychiatrist, 
gets inside in your head

Apocalypse comes, 
Most popular house in town:
Tom the embalmer's

Hands smeared with grey brains,
Mom says "Wash up for dinner!"
Now hands smeared with mom's.

3 Zombie Haiku by Chris Crowe

Slick shiny jiggly
and red, is it jello or
a snack for undead?

Foggy night, London
Dickens stumbles, zombies lurk
Great Expectations!

"I'm having a brain
freeze," I said. "I'll have one too,"
said thirsty zombie.

A Haiku by Deborah Dean

Crowe's zombie poetry
Brainless lines eaten alive
By drooling students.

A Haiku by C.C. Thompson
Insecure Zombie
Even though I ain't wrapped tight
You still love me, right?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Top 5 Reasons why you shouldn’t judge me (and sometimes why you should):

(Spoiler alert: Beware of Guacamole loogies and leather-clad push-overs)

  1.  I like America’s Next Top Model, but mostly because the industry fascinates me. I know that many models have eating problems—once I heard a common trick they use is swallowing an orange juice soaked cotton ball, which, if you could get past the idea of eating a cotton ball soaked in citrus, it allegedly curbs the appetite for days. Seeing these on the big screen is sickly captivating. And even though it’s been preached to me in a million ways that the models “don’t really look like that”, seeing models with dark circles under their eyes and snaggle teeth still has shock value to me. I’m like “Whoa. They really don’t look ‘beautiful’ all the time.” Maybe you should judge me based on how naïve I am.
  2. I hate Harry Potter. The predictability makes me crazy. I read the first few books back in my early 20’s and I remember being on the last page of book four and thinking, I just read the same book 4 times, such is the cookie cutterness of HP. Everyone assures me that book 5 will change my perspective, that the story really kicks off there, but I’m am too jaded at this point. So my HP prose-spective remains unimpressed. However, I fully support my students’ obsession with YA literature. I say “Go for it. I don’t really care what you read, as long as you’re reading.” 
  3.  I wear ridiculously tall heels. I do. I wear heels so tall that when I walk down the stairs, I have to grip the handrail with white knuckles and take the staircase one step at a time.  Heels aren’t always comfortable, but I have new legs. I used to be 60 lbs heavier and now I have new athletic, limber legs which deserve to be put celebrated. I’m proud of them. You don’t put your wedding photos in a shoe box or a trophy in a closet, do you? No, you put your pics up on the wall in a fancy frame and your trophies in a display case or the mantel. Legs = trophy. Shoes = mantel. 
  4.  The lyrics may be catchy, clothes retro, and sideburns of one John Travolta dreamy, but Grease is a feminist nightmare. Sandy is glorified for changing her core beliefs for a man and mistakes sexual dominance for independence. In the beginning, the audience traipses through the film witnessing Sandy stand her ground about her beliefs and refusing to change for her summer love, Danny. Perhaps this doesn’t serve the sexual revolution, but as a feminist, I was proud of Sandy’s resolve all the way until the final scene; the scene in which Sandy transforms herself…for a man. It’s not as if she swapped out bad habits for good, which might be an acceptable transformation even if it was for a man, but no. Sandy demoralizes herself into a sex kitten with a smoking habit to appease Danny’s burning loins. You can tell by the way he devours her with his eyes while crooning:
I got chills.
They're multiplyin'.
And I'm losin' control.
'Cause the power
you're supplyin',
it's electrifyin'!

What power is Danny referring to? The tangible sexual vibe Sandy now emanates with sewn-on leather pants and an off the shoulder top? Even if Danny and Sandy’s relationship did result in a marriage, an institution that should foster equality, Sandy submissively caved at the pleading, manipulation, and peer pressure of her “friends” and boyfriend. The foundation of that hypothetical marriage would be built on Danny’s ideal of “if I push you the right way, I’ll get what I want. And what I want is you to be sexually appealing at all times”. Sex shouldn’t be the compass with which women use to navigate through life. It can be harbor on the journey (that’s up to you), but not the very compass. I suppose if I could change one thing about Sandy’s character, it would be that I wanted to see her voice become more powerful. I wanted her to be dynamic by breaking up with Danny, rattling off a Martin Luther King Jr. type speech on the acceptance of differences to Rizzo (maybe throw in some startling statistics about STD’s and a visual presentation of genital warts), and then removing herself from the toxic situation. Sandy could’ve been the epitome of an independent woman. Instead, she morphed into a sexual icon who will not be remembered for her hard work, intellect, aspirations, and sincerity. Sandy is remembered for her sexual prowess.   

5. I hate guacamole. It’s deceptive. It starts out a pleasant green, the kind of green that if it were craft paint it might be called, “baby cartoon frog”, but if you leave it out for a Mexican minute (this is a new term I invented that means for a short period of time. I don’t mean this derogatorily. It only refers to the way the Spanish language is quick and fluid to the ear…eh? Eh?) it turns into swamp monster green. And the texture! Guacamole slides across the tongue like a chunky loogie, invoking an involuntary retch. So next time you buy me Mexican food, order extra sour cream and no guac.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Your Insect Inflection

Your Insect Reflection Inflection
(Name that show, and if you do know the show, then you probably get how it applies to my post. If not, bear with me.)

You know how someone can make you feel stupid not with their words, but by the tone of their voice? They don't actually say that you're stupid, but their voice has that inflection that seems to say, "You're a big stupid dummy head." I bet you have an image of a person in your head right now. I know a few people like this.

One of these mean people could be literally saying, (this is a "for example" not a real situation) "You spend all your time counting calories," but the subtle message, heard only by the trained listener really says, "You spend all your stupid time counting stupid calories, and it's such a waste of time. I could never do that so therefore it is stupid." 

Roswell's Bella and Edward. I mean Max and Liz.
Twilight's Bella and Edward.
But how do you call someone on this? The tone of a person's voice wouldn't hold up in court. If you tried to call someone out on their tone, the response is usually denial anyway. So my defensive response tends to be "snark for snark". Kinda like how I not-so-secretly despise Stephenie Meyer for her break out fame. I usually mask my irritation with flippant comments about her glittery vampires and characters ripped off from Roswell, a show that used to air on the CW about a teenage girl saved by a teenage Alien boy with beautiful hair and abs like an EXTRA-terrestrial. It's chock full of sophomoric swoonage. But the truth is I am just jealous of Stephenie's success.
I'm sorry Stephenie Meyer. You are [long sigh] a good writer. I've read almost all of your books, and they are good. (Except for the Book 4 of the Twilight series.) Geez, I'm terrible at apologies.

The point is I hate that I return "snark for snark". And I'm not doing it anymore.

Know this, mean-toned people of the world, I'm on to you. And from now on, when you say regular things snarkily, like "You spend all your time counting calories," all I hear is...
"You are skinnier than me now and I'm bitter, and since I have no will power, no consistent desire to change my habits, I'll simply mock the fact that you are successful doing it."

Wait. Is this whole post falling back on my "snark for snark" philosophy? Dang it. Well then after this post, I'm not doing it anymore.  

Mean people suck. And I don't wanna be one.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


It was the second to last week of school. I wore a modest pencil skirt, a bright red "power" top, and 4-inch brown leather slingbacks. A typical outfit for me. I like to command the classroom verbally and aesthetically, I guess. I strode into the school, passed the office. Nod to Mr. Tuffle. Wave and smile to Sue from the copy room. Then down my hallway.
There next to the slab of blue lockers on the right wall was a cluster of "emo" kids. Three boys, and a girl. All with shocks of black hair, combed fiercely over one eye. One boy changed it up a little with a bleached streak in the front and a buzz cut behind his sweeping bangs. The group looked as if they'd all borrowed the same charcoal eyeliner. All were aminme thin. All were wearing black print tees with strategically ripped jeans.
See any similarities of these two photos?

Some of you maybe wondering where my snide remark is going to fit in. What cruel, ignorant thing am I going to say about these "emo" kids?

Rayanne Graff from My So-Called Life.

I don't care what they wear. They're teenagers. This is one of the only times in their lives where their profession won't dictate apparel. Some of them will be able to dress the exact same way their whole lives depending on what they wanna do as adults, but right now they can wear whatever the hell they want (within school mandated dress code rules, that is.)

Besides, when I walked by, that group gave me the world's longest up and down examination; blatant with disgust and scoffs all around. If eyes could flip me off, theirs were. When I was a safe 5 feet way, one boy made fake retching noises. Audible. Unmistakable.
I felt my stomach fold into itself. This group who demands that people don't judge them based on their appearances, didn't practice what they preached.
Morpheus and Death; siblings.
I wanted to tell them how I love Pearl Jam and Nirvana, how I'd seen Smashing Pumpkins in concert twice for grunge's sake! And even now, my MP3 might be known to host a Muse or Fall Out Boy song. I wanted to whip out old photos of me in flannel and combat boots from 13 years ago. I wished I were wearing my "Strongbad" tee or could profess my close personal relationship with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tim Burton, and Weezer. If I had my copies of Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels, that would surely attest to my emo-worthiness, or at least would have enough symbolic weight to metaphorically slap the sneers off their pale faces.

To what end? Why did I feel the need to defend myself in 4 teenagers with black eyes? What did I care? I looked professional and damn good that day, and I don't need 15-year-old approvals for my daily injection of confidence. I could self-administer it with one look in the mirror or a lingering kiss from my husband. So, I walked to my classroom, aware and proud of each melodic heel-click on the tile.

But did I also flip my bottle-blond hair and tap my "Disciple of Aphrodite" red nails on the door just for a reaction?

But I made up for later. I taught a chapter of Elie Wiesel's Night, an autobiographical holocaust novel about a teen who survived the murderous and prejudicial practices of Nazi Germany, with more fervor and intensity than I usually do. After all, the seeds of hatred which bloomed into Nazi concentration camps began with judging others. Perhaps it spread almost as simply as a sneer, scowl and mock-puking.

Fortunately, most of the emo kids that I have taught in the past have not shown such outright negative judgement (at least not to my face.) I respect all of my students, and expect the same respect in return.

Demonic Duck on a Bike

Herein lies a scary story writing exercise, where a group of writer’s turned a perfectly normal children’s story (Duck on a Bike by David Shannon) into a scary story: 

The boy grinned, with narrowed eyes, and gutted the duck from abdomen to gullet.
It fell limply in a pile.
“D’oiseaux vivants de l’enfer [Live, bird of hell]”, chanted the boy. A thunder cloud boomed in the distance.
The duck wriggled, its guts spilling as it rose. The boy gestured toward the bike, and duck with red eyes mounted the boy’s bicycle. Down the dusty road, the demon duck screeched at other farm animals as it passed. They followed in a trance. First a cow, then a sheep, a dog and cat followed like zombies toward a brain buffet.
“Wait,” squawked the chicken in resistance. “Stop. No!” At the boy’s wave, the duck craned its neck slowly toward the chicken.
“Vous ne pouves pas resister a la poule faible. Devenir un oiseau de l’enfer. [You cannot resist feeble hen. Become a bird of Hell,” it shrieked and pedaled after the dissident. 

(That’s as far as I got, but fun. fun. fun.)


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