Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I couldn't think a metaphor for my life that involves a rubber chicken...

...so you get one about my garden.

My life is a lot like my garden right now. And not in a good way.
School started, which is actually a good thing. 

1st day of school photo. That's how we roll.

What? That's what my face looks like.
So when you give a kid a camera, not all photos will be of the floor.
 And I started kid-swapping with my friend on my off days. Also not a bad thing. Keeps my son entertained better than Spongebob, so it's a win-win. It does make me busier, but there's a little money in it, so...

Still seems like summer.

Gavin in all his Capt. Underpants glory is in his "space-ship". Again...that's how we roll.
 But how does this fit into the garden metaphor. It seems like my life is overrun with weeds. As much as I try to keep those little buggers out, they are taking over. And I just don't have the time to really nourish it the way it deserves.
Can't tell weed from plant? Sometimes I can't either.

I should be getting baskets full of tomatoes, corn, pumpkins, carrots, onions...

...potatoes, herbs, green peppers, jalapenos, raspberries, beans...

...cantaloupe, watermelon, peas...

...zucchini and squash.

But I I'm getting mostly weeds. (And that awesome shadow.)
Instead, I get this every couple of days. It's barely enough to feed one person, much less my family.
I feel like those weeds have taken over my whole life. Sometimes I think, "if only I had enough time to weed more, I'd be able to save it." But I don't have the time. I can't give up the other things in my life for reasons that I can't divulge. Everything is necessary. Nothing expendable. (OK, I guess if I had to, I could give up Dexter.)

The responsibilities seem overwhelming. A burden I bear with a tangible weight. I can't keep up with the weeds. They are suffocating my garden and my life.

But what can I do? Give up on my garden? on my life? Cut out something? What? Tell me. What in my life is absolutely unnecessary? (And if you say "this blog", I'll punch you in the e-kidneys.)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

But what do the students think of me?

I've often wondered what my students, past and present, think of me as a teacher, mentor, and Weezer aficionado, and I suppose asking them is one way to find out. However, Bri, a former student and official member of my zombie apocalypse survival team (according to a facebook), really let me know what she thought of me when I showed up as the "magical pet" to her Disney Princess on another awesome and completely accurate facebook list. I told her that if I had to be anybody's supporting character [psh], much less a "magical friggin' pet", then I better be as awesome as a liger.

Here's what Bri responded with:

It's good to know I'm an impact on these young people.

‎"The underbrush rustled as something prowled through it, disturbing the peaceful scene laid out before the beautiful punk princess. The birds and woodland creatures flew in haste from the being approaching, too frightened of what was coming to stick around. The curtain of forestry seemed to part, making way for a Smithey. A Smithey was a rare creature with deep blue eyes that were large and luminous and a screeching wail that sounded like a Weezer song gone wrong. Elongated claws stretched out of hands and feet and looked like they were used for piercing through the hearts of students and feasting upon them; for a Smithey has no heart of its own. After obtaining a bachelor's degree and signing themselves away to a lifetime of servitude, they devil stole it and turned it into this unholy creature of awesome proportions. This was the princess's talking magical pet."
The accuracy is uncanny. My talons are totally long and affixed with red-inked pens.  

I'll have to scan the pic that Bri drew of my doppelganger, Ms. Mithey. (She's the fat one.)
PS. What do you other former students think of me? Or maybe I should stop while I'm ahead. I mean, really, who can top Bri's description? 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Top Ten Teaching Moments of the First Week

  1. Having 2 "Brandon"s and 1 "Brendon" in a class. Confusing.
  2. Having 3 Caitlin/Kaitlyn/Katelyns in a class. I'll never get them all down. Maybe I should put 'em all together in a group then, I'd wave a hand in their direction and mentally be like, "That's the KATE-Lin group", and worry about spelling later.
  3. Explaining why my school insignia-ed beer mug (what? that's what it is. I use it for pens.) is faded, antiquated if you will to 3 classes. It's because my colleague put it in Jell-O after I stole his bathroom pass and wrapped it up for the "white-elephant" gift exchange at the faculty Christmas party.
  4. That one girl who understood my "Plums defy" reference. I heart her.
  5. Already getting into an argument with 3 boys about who would win in a fight: superman, wolverine, or Darth Vader. (Vader would be dead in 2 seconds, Wolverine would lace his adamantium skeleton with Kryptonite, and...you know where this is going. My money's on the hot one.)
  6. Forgetting my lunch twice. That's what my stash of popcorn is for.
  7. Explaining that I am a "real writer" whatever that means.
  8. Explaining that my name is hyphenated and that the maiden one isn't French; it's Spanish. And then explaining that I'm 1/4 Mexican, which everyone always assumes is sarcasm. It's not. I am...or uh...soy? Is that "I am" in Espanol? I should probably sabo that.
  9. Already losing my temper with a class, but mentally blaming it on my period. Hopefully, they are forgiving and never read this blog and bring that up in class. AWKWARD. P.S. estudiantes, if you are reading this, and have a sneaky suspicion that it's written by your English teacher, know this... Your teacher has a doppelganger with...the same name as her and everything. Which is me. The blogger. Yah. Not your teacher. I swear. [Sidebar: Wouldn't the bloggelganger be a kick-a name for a blog? Wonder if it's already out there...I checked. It's not. dibs.]
  10. Accidentally cursing. Already. It was a minor one, and under my breath, so I don't think anyone heard me. [fingers crossed] and if so, it wasn't me, remember? or her. Ah, geez. Now, I've confused my alter-ego.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What's your personal reading history?

At first, I read to catch up.

I heart my kindle.
As the youngest child of 2 highly educated readers and a sister to several card-carrying, glasses-wearing, inside "Narnia" joke-telling siblings, I read to keep up. I had to know why the number 42 was a hilarious response to the question, "What's the meaning of life?" I had to know what was in that paperback whose cover was so worn that the title was nearly illegible. I had to know who Vorkosigan was and why he came up at every meal time. I had to know.

Once I did get caught up and understood all the jokes and conversational allusions, I found my own reading niche. So, at first, sheer anxiety that I was "missing something" fueled my desire. Now, my desire is fueled by the craving to produce my own smirks at a weathered page in one of my favorite books.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bloggess convert number bazillion

This post was my first trip to the bloggessverse [click on blue words], and I have mixed feelings.

Sure I laughed my ass off, but thanks to the bloggess, I now have puffy eyes. People will think I have been crying. That's the last thing a woman needs is for her male (and female) colleagues to think she's weak. Some will just assume "period", while others will mistake my tears for the stress of having a new dog (and they wouldn't be too far off).

BUT alas, how do I explain that it wasn't tears of the hormone pin ball game going on in my body, nor the shedding and frequent "accidents" of my new pooch [hahahaha...didn't mean for that to sound like I was still talking about my period. oops. And eww.], but rather a photo of Nathan Fillion and his jock strap o'twine. or Nathan holding the "Christ-child of twine", all framed with the glorious, hilarious prose of one BLOGGESS.

I heart you, Bloggess.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Legacy of Writers

My principal asked each of us to write what we wanted our legacy to be (as teachers). Here's mine.

Other than becoming the next Flannery O'Connor and/or Meg Wolitzer...
I want to leave this earth knowing that I helped my students discover their voice.
I want to reacquaint them with "writing for pleasure", until the two are inseparable.
I want to students to recognize the written word as one of the most universal and transcendent vehicles of communication, and then for them to participate and share.
I want students to drive their voice into the map of shared human experience, not like a pin, but a railroad spike.
I want them to know why a sentence can be as profound as a novel.
I want them to use words as a release.
I want them to use words as therapy.
I want their words to heal.
I want to produce Martin Luther Kings, Hemingways, Dickens, Wells, Hawthornes, Poes, and Woolfs.
I want to create writers.

Either that or have the largest collection of shoes in 3 counties.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bear Lake. Check.

Gavin is locked and loaded.
With summer at a close, I feel the trip to Bear Lake was the perfect (too cliche, I know) ending to a BUSY summer. I'm not kidding when I say "busy". I went to 3 conferences this summer, which ate up 6 weeks of my 2 1/2 months of summer. Not cool. (Yet cool on a ton of other levels.)

Traditional vacation recap blog posts are kind boring, so I'm trying something newish.

Thoughts I had while vacationing at Bear Lake this summer.

  • Yes! Our campsite is right across from the bathrooms. 
  • Ew. Spider in the toliet. I wonder if I can get my 3 yo son to aim for it when he pees. 
  • Why is the water all gunky? I bet it's cause the lake is so much higher/fuller this year. But it sure is gross for about 10 feet out from the shore. I can feel the grass tickle my calves and feet. It has a thin quality like damaged hair. I suppose there could be a body down there. Last year, you could've seen a corpse for a quarter-mile out, but this year, any local guido could drop off a "package" at the lake and safely have a month before anyone discovered it. 
  • When we were out kayaking, Molly told me about some scary vombie facts that I'd never considered. Did you know they don't breathe? They could just walk along the bottom of the lake and reach up and ravage your brains before you had the sense to knock em in the head with an ore.
  • The sand is nice. Beachy. Some shells. Imported? Not really sure how that works. 
  • Layne has a new swimsuit. Black, pink piping, and a pattern of spiraling hearts in neon colors, straight outta the Lisa Frank design catalog. 
  • Cole and Gavin just left. It only took a few minutes to pack up their stuff. A Buzz Lightyear sleeping bag, some pillows, a bicycle with training wheels. 2 sippy cups, snacks for the road. Both seemed ready and pleased to hit the road. To get back to the comforts of society: electricity, hot water, a microwave. 
  • I could sit out on the water for a week. 
  • The beach has a soft breeze blowing in from the Northwest. It makes kayaking challenging, but tones the arms nicely. 
  • The sound of the waves nudging the shoreline is repetative and real. Not like some cheap CD with ocean and rainforest sounds. It's cadence isn't overbearing, and I feel coaxed to it's siren whisper. (too cheesy?)
  • I should flip to tan my back now. 
  • I should work on the next section of my weight loss memoir. It's titled, "Just a girl" 
  • I was "just a girl" for my youth. A girl was something that wasn't isolated to gender. In my childhood home it was a role. It was cooking, cleaning, gardening, weeding, sewing, baking, care-taking, teaching. It was child-rearing. I was made to make babies. 
  • In later years, I discovered this as one of the most divine roles ANY person can fill, but as a teen and girl in my twenties, I treated this "role", not with respect, but rather as a job I was forced to take. I'm sure my mom tried to explain it to me with the same fervor as a priest explaining confession, but all I hear was, "You have to be a mom. If you fail at that, you fail at life." 
  • I approached this with both rejection and earnest panic that I might never achieve this goal. 
  • OK. That's good for now. My back is toasty anyway. 
  • Do other people sit in front of a body of water and muse that they might have the words to change the world? That somehow if they could piece together the right combination of words and phrases that their ideas would be transcendent? universal? unifying? A female voice breaking the shakles of "role" bondage?
  • Why is it that everytime my family gets together, we come up with some great family business idea? I'm starting to think that my ambition is not my own, but that each member of my family is plagued? with it. The Bear Lake idea sounds pretty darn cool, however, so be watching for that launch. 
  • Layne's new suit.
  • [When trying to use a bathroom in the back of a mini grocery a mile away from camp.] Ew. Why is that urinal taped up? Where is the toliet paper? Is that an earwig? Is it supposed to be mutant-sized. [then the sound of the door shutting as I fled the scene. I also made a pool of hand sanitizer in each palm to clean the ick off.]
There's more, but that about covers it for now. Hope you enjoy the photos!

I built a lot of sandcastles with Layne.

Not sure what she's saying, but we can safely assume it's, "I'm hungry." The girl eats constantly.

More sandcastles.

PS. These are my new shoes. Better pic to come.

[sigh.] See you after school starts.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What would you do...

Laurie Halse Anderson posted a writing prompt about self-sabatoging ourselves as writers. She encouraged us to think about what we would do if we became wildly successful, what would be the worst thing that would happen if we did, and who benefits if we don't become successful?

I pretty much loved the prompt, because I love to fantasize about my future success. But I shoot myself in the foot by fantasizing more about what my success will be like instead of actually writing to succeed. I do the same thing with exercise and weight loss. I set a goal, but set myself up to fail by eating crappy foods.

In any case, here's what I'd do with my wildly successful writing paycheck: pay off my school-loans. Strange how my plans have become less elaborate over the years. I used to want a speed boat and wake-boarding equipment and a summer home on a sandy coastline. I bet if I dialed it back far enough, I'd recall the time I wanted my own amusement park and a unicorn.

I haven't thought much about the whole "who would benefit from my stunted creativity?" concept. Obviously no one. Least of all me.

I also haven't thought of the worst thing that could happen if I did become successful, and I'd have to say that as a writer, I doubt I'll ever have enough fame to a) get a stalker [but I'm hoping you'd fake it, Texy.] or b) be forced to make my children wear Presidential masks in public. However, I bet it would suck to have pressure to write a best-seller every year.

I'd take it.
And I'm off to write.
Thanks, Laurie.

P.S. I'm off to Bear Lake, so I'll see you all in a week! e-hugs and e-kisses.
Bear Lake last year.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Write for 15 minutes a day

I'm doing a challenge this August called "Write fifteen minutes a day" or WFMAD, inspired by the lovely and talented Laurie Halse Anderson (author of Speak). I'm only on day four, but I'm happy to announce that I am knocking this challenge outta the park! I write 4 times the mininmum required 15 minutes on a good day.
Anyhoo, a lot of what I write is either too personal to post or is work on a current project. I don't feel good about posting it now, cuz I have hopes that it will be published one day.

In any case, I figured I better take a few of these 15 minutes to blog.

So here it goes.

My first kiss. HA! Just kidding. Not telling you that story, e-peeps.

I think I'm just going to write a scene from a story I am making up on the spot...

The corn stood a full three feet higher than his head, and the limbs of the corn stalks slapped him fives on his outstretched arms and palms as he ran. His forearms would be red when he got home, maybe even a little bloody. Mom would ask what happened. He would explain, and she would understand the "how", but not the "why".

Danny closed his eyes and ran. If the corn field were a green map of Kansas, Danny was a spot of orange running across the state.

Instinctually, he slowed. The corn became less dense, and less welcoming; their limbs seemed to droop. Behind him wind rustled the corn, but one step more and the wind stopped as if an invisible threshold around the creature could halt Mother Nature. A crow cawed a warning to his left, but Danny raised his chin and stepped over the unseen barrier.

The creature welcomed Danny with outstretched arms, blackened straw piercing the stitched cuffs of the plaid shirt. Giant overalls whose color had long since been bleached by the sun were cinched at the waist with strip of leather. Its gunny sack head slung forward, hiding its face, but revealing it's support.
A cross.  
A Cross like Jesus, thought Danny.
A small placard nailed beneath the creatures feet had some hand-painted letters. Squinting, Danny sounded them out. "Wish I had a brain". 

Danny bent and craned his neck to see the face of the creature. No eyes. No nose. But an off-center smile stitched on with black thread. Danny felt his balance teetering, and stood straight to steady himself.

From the left, a discordant chorus of crows broke the silence, and Danny remembered the wind. He glanced behind him. The stalks danced and whispered to each other, and Danny breathed.

Then, he heard a sound that didn't make sense. That sound that a person makes when jumping off a bail of hay and onto the ground. Or out of the truck bed and onto the driveway. But Danny was the only person around, and his feet were firmly on the ground. He hadn't jumped.
Had the creature... Danny thought.
Wind blew at his turned cheek. But it wasn't the wind, it couldn't be. Wind didn't exist on that side of the barrier. What then?, Danny thought.

Another breath on his cheek, and Danny froze.  
Not like Jesus, he thought. Jesus didn't snarl.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Signs of Stress

  • jagged fingernails
  • a spoon and carton of ice cream (eliminating the middle-man: bowl)
  • snacking when appetite-less
  • fetal position in the shower
  • black tears
  • screaming
  • silence
  • running to the serenades of Coldplay or the Killers or Snow Patrol 
  • Fingers aching from writing in excess; words that will never see the corneas of another living human being
  • raccoon eyes
  • a forehead that cannot relax
  • restless sleep
  • sleepy during the day
  • carb-fest at every meal.
  • getting reacquainted with my old BF: peanut m&m's. 
PS. It's been rough. 


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