Monday, March 28, 2011


I'm slowly but surely making my way into the twitterverse. One of the things I love is the #engchat on twitter on Mondays. I don't usually participate, I prefer to "lurk" and find things that interest me. Sometimes the conversation isn't all that interesting to me, but tonight's topic caught my interest.

digital storytelling

I have toyed with digital storytelling for so long, and tossed the idea around in my lesson plans but every time I think I'm ready, I lose my confidence and don't go there. Last semester, I used animoto to get my students to create short films that condensed their gothic stories down to 30 second clips. It seemed to go well, but animoto limited their creativity too much. I applied for an educator's license through the website, but I haven't heard anything yet.

So the Gothic Lit. unit is starting up again this semester and I want to do a better job with this idea of digital storytelling. So I was excited to see the topic on #engchat tonight.

So here's what I'm toying with now, and there are articles to back it up!

1. Blogging as a writing tool. Miracle of miracles! They're better writers when they practice it by...writing!

2. The guy who facilitated #engchat tonight was Joel Malley (follow him @joelmalley). Here's a video he offered for writing in the digital age.

3. I'm going to try out lightworks as a potential film editing platform for student made films shot with our school's flip cameras. It's an alternative to iMovie since our mobile laptop carts are PCs. I'm going to learn about it the same way my students will: play!

4. I'm loving this blog as a good way to read about all things tech AND journalism. Since the yearbook is done (woohoo!) I have time to read and think about next year :D I wonder how much begging I could do for the sake of getting a yearbook class both semesters?

5. Something else that came up in the #engchat tonight: the multi-million dollar grading industry. I think it's a good read for anyone concerned about the impact of standardized testing (which should be all of us!).

Digital composition is incredibly relevant right now; students are going to be challenged at the next level to think creatively and express themselves in multimedia form. We won't go backward (I hope!) and lose the sense of immediacy and relevance of the digital landscape. I just want my students to think for themselves! I want them to experience as many different composition platforms as possible, to be well-versed in the digital environment before they go on to colleges and universities that expect them to immediately participate in the online environment. So here's to learning something new in the world of digital composition!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hodge Podge

I suppose I could say I've been focused on not being very focused this weekend. In short: I've been pretty lazy :) Let's do a hodge podge catch up on my weekend:

Friday: Johnathan and I had dinner with my parents and watched UNC play Marquette (woohoo!). We always have a good time when we have dinner together and this was no exception. To top it off, the Heels brought home a W!

Saturday: We slept late, cooked breakfast and then my mom and I were Charlotte bound to shop for her dress to wear to my brother's wedding in May. Needless to say, it was a bust. We ended up back in the mall in Gastonia where she tried on two dresses that we both liked, but the expense of them is tough to bear when you think it's a dress you'll never wear again. We're now considering just finding something very nice and spring-like that she can use more than once. Jury is still out. Saturday night Johnathan and I watched a lot of basketball and I started really getting into Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, which honestly I'm still on the fence about; I can't seem to "like" the protagonist enough to care about her situation, if that makes any sense.

Sunday: more sleeping, more breakfast. Today I had originally wanted to go to Target to look for some pretty, brightly colored napkins for our dining room table but we opted to just take an easy day at home, do some laundry and play with the dog. We did head back to my parents' place to watch UNC, but the outcome was not as pleasant as Friday. It didn't ruin our evening though; David dropped by and we all enjoyed hamburgers for dinner and apple pie and ice cream for dessert. Yum!

So while the weekend on the whole was uneventful, I do feel pretty recharged. Tomorrow I'm looking forward to our teacher workday, where I will have some grading and report card-ing to do but am not in such a time crunch. The yearbook will be DONE tomorrow as well, and I have to admit I'm pretty proud of myself for pulling it off :) I'm also having lunch with my two favorite men before my husband heads to an appointment with his oncologist (it's a routine one).

I will also pat myself on the back for sticking with this blogging thing even in the face of the RIF fiasco and the fact that I've missed a few days. For me, to balance this on top of everything else speaks to my commitment to writing more. Let's hope this trend continues!

I hope your weekend was relaxing, refreshing and fun!

Saturday, March 26, 2011


When I ask my students to think about something during class, or when I want them to brainstorm about an idea, I tell them to "noodle" it. Then it becomes a question: "are you still noodling that?" or a response "I need more time; I'm still noodling!".

I have not fallen (completely) off the blog bandwagon here toward the end of March, I've just needed a few days to noodle the latest happenings. I could have filled this blog with fluffy topics for the last few days, but I just don't see how that could be helpful, as part of my writing goal for this month is to be more honest and share what I really think.

So anyway, here's (most) of the situation:
The economy is in the toilet. Raise your hand if you're shocked! I'm not, since my husband was laid off for about 6 months starting back in March of 2009. At that time, we heard murmurings about layoffs in the schools, but nothing seemed to happen. In fact, a friend of mine was put in the RIF (reduction in force) pool but was ultimately moved to another school rather than let go altogether.

But then, an article in the local newspaper suggested on Wednesday that the superintendent, along with the school board, had decided that probationary teachers (anyone with less than 5 years in the district, including me) would be subject to layoff first should the need arise. I don't worry about saying that here because it's public information:

Did anyone come out to my school and talk to me about it before I read it in the newspaper? No.
Did anyone in my school with that knowledge come talk to me about it before I read it in the newspaper? No.
In the interest of fairness, I have to say that we did have staff meetings all over the county that afternoon. But in the one at my school, there was a definite glossing over of that whole "oh and all the probationary teachers could be cut" detail. And anyway, come on! It's just inhumane to hope you get to your staff before the newspaper does; I'm just saying.

I've felt a variety of emotions since that meeting. My husband and I have had multiple conversations about how we'll cope should I be subject to a RIF. Part of me wants to feel confident: my resume is impressive, I've been in the same district 4 years running, I have additional certifications outside my content area, and my performance reviews have always been above average. And then part of me fears that somehow all of that will be overlooked for someone whose test scores are better with less qualifications and less experience. I haven't taught in a tested area in 3 years, how can the data even be compared?!

But I had to noodle all this for a few days. I had to talk it out with close friends, colleagues and family. I needed to figure out the best way to put this all down before I actually went through with it, because I've also been told we're all being watched. And that our attendance is being monitored. And that there will be a list made of people who could be put in the RIF pool, and we won't know for 2 weeks who is on that list. It's like all of the sudden Santa Claus has come to reality and the "Naughty" teachers will be put on the list. I will not fear being named for the RIF pool, because ultimately I will not live here forever, or teach in this district forever. I have other goals, and hey, maybe I'll like staying at home all day and writing for pleasure. Maybe this is my chance to start a new life...

Either way, I'll either have a job in my district next year, or I won't. That isn't different than any other year I've been working in the schools, as my contract always has to be renewed at the end of the year. Part of me just feels like things are being done to me without consulting me, as if I've lost my sense of agency. But that's a "me" thing, not a "them" thing. They cannot take my sense of being away; I can only let it slip away. But that won't happen. I'm firm in my resolve.

I'll make it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Priority Check

Today has been sort of up and down for me in terms of things that happened at work with some of my favorite students. In short they were disappointed and refused to cover after school events for the yearbook. Now, I don't think I've asked for too much in terms of their time commitment to the class and the publication. However, I'm on a deadline. THE deadline. All I needed was for them to split up the sporting events we had this week and take photos.

But no. They thought the meeting was about signing up for shifts for Spring photos, an opportunity to miss their regular classes. Many of them walked out saying "I'm not doing that" when they found out the sign up sheet was for soccer, softball, baseball, get the idea.

And it annoyed me; I won't lie. I was disappointed in a group that had worked so hard in the earlier part of the year. On the bright side, I had some members of my staff sign up for some of the events and I was able to go ahead and recruit kids who are on next year's staff to start working. Thank goodness I had a backup plan.

What I'm getting to is this: as a teacher, I find myself in a position where my class, club, yearbook, etc. is an option and not a priority. Right now there are a lot of things going on after school: sports, clubs, extra band rehearsals, etc. I'm tired of hearing "can I go to.." or "I need to see" or "I can't; I have..." instead of "yes, I'll reschedule" or "yes, I can spare 10 minutes" or "yes, it (that other thing, whatever it is) can wait."

I want to be a priority. I want my class to be a priority. I want the work I assign to be a priority, but it seems that it's the first thing to get blown off...
until it's time to look at grades, that is.

I used to feel that way in my personal life, too. This whole "well if no one else can go, we'll ask her" thing was pure torment before I was married. Afterward, I did a bit of revaluation, built new relationships and all is well. I learned a lot about myself at that time: if you aren't willing to make yourself a priority, why should anyone else? My husband makes me his priority. My family makes me a priority. I make myself a priority by taking care of my self both physically and least most of the time ;)

So in short I'm kind of ranting because I want to be important (outside of my head, that is), and I want to feel like what I'm doing day in and day out matters just as much as what the teacher across the hall does or what the coaches do. Is that really too much to ask?

There's a saying that I hear fairly often, and have used when giving advice:
Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option
And I think that statement is spot on for what I'm thinking about today. I don't want to be most important or the best; I just want to matter. And this is not about my ego; it's about the work I put in to engage my students, to assign things they will enjoy and learn from as a result. It's nothing personal; I know.

I just want people to check their priorities.

Monday, March 21, 2011

SOLSC Day 21: 14 pages later...

I am in the throes of finishing the yearbook. Out of the 168 pages in the book, I have completed 154. That leaves 14 pages to finish by Monday, March 28. In all honesty, I don't know what I will do after I finish the yearbook. There will be this void, a piece of my life will be (temporarily) missing for a number of weeks. So, here's 14 things I will do once my 14 pages are done:

1. Be a better teacher. It's tough for me to admit, but right now I'm so focused on making this last deadline that I know I'm not doing everything I can do to make my English courses interesting and fulfilling. One thing's for sure: the times, they are a'changin'

2. Spend more time with my husband. In the grand scheme of things he doesn't suffer much at the hands of the yearbook, but there are nights when I come home and still have to stare at my computer for another few hours to get the book looking the way I want. Lucky for him that will be over soon.

3. Read more books! I have this box of books that's overflowing because I keep buying them but not reading them fast enough. Hopefully being sans-yearbook will give me a chance to catch up quickly.

4. Get back into my own photography. I'm an amateur at best, but I miss taking photos, editing, and framing or scrapbooking them. I feel like I have more experience now that I've used the Nikon D50 regularly, but there's still a lot I want to learn about editing so that next year's book (and my own personal hobby) can benefit.

5. Write, write, write. This Slice of Life Story Challenge has really pushed me to explore my own composition style and be more deliberate with the writing I do, even the things I write in my own journal. I want to continue to write daily if possible. I mean hey, if I can do it while all these other things swirl around me, why not when those things stop?

6. Finish my internship. Like the yearbook, there's another deadline I have to meet. I have to complete my internship for my license in school administration which requires 600 hours of documented administrative experience. I'm up to 200 or so now, which isn't too bad considering all the other things I have going on, which leads me to:

7. SLOW DOWN. I'm someone who likes to go go go! Being busy makes me feel like what I'm doing matters and that I am (somewhat) important to the success of whatever I'm doing. I need to learn to slow down. I need to learn to say no.

8. Relax. Try not to judge me, but I would like to spend my evenings in a bathtub with a glass of red wine and a good book. I find myself constantly searching for the little things that will bring me satisfaction through relaxation.

9. Commence Spring Cleaning. Right now my house is a disaster area, and usually this is a panic attack inducing occurrence. That's right, if my house gets too cluttered I will completely freak out. Having that said, my house is cluttered enough right now that I should have a panic induced freak out every second that I'm here. Alas, with the yearbook taking over my life I'm just stepping over the laundry...don't mind me ;)

10. Get back to my diet and exercise. I don't think I'm a stress eater, but I'm definitely slacking off when it comes to watching what I eat and working out. I'm not making my body a top priority right now and that has to change so I can feel good everyday and make each day count.

11. Work on my 101 in 1001. There are so many things still to do! I really want to see that challenge through, just like this Slice of Life Challenge!

12. Take a much-needed vacation. I am beyond excited about chaperoning the History Club's trip to New York City over our Spring Break. Am I going to be exhausted? Absolutely. Will it be worth it? No doubt.

13. Cook, bake, eat, repeat. No, it doesn't completely contradict my diet and exercise plan. But, there's something to be said for cooking well and eating well. I really enjoy cooking, especially for the purpose of hosting dinner in my home. I'm always on the lookout for delicious new recipes to try for my loved ones.

14. Become a better connected blogger. One of the things I love about blogging is reading the blogs of people I know and don't know. I want to build my own sense of community in blogging, and that could take the form of becoming more active in 20sb, or somewhere else. Either way, I want to connect with other people like me (and not like me!) for the sake of conversation. We all crave connection as humans; who says it has to be face to face to have value?

Did I miss anything? What would you suggest I do once my pages are done?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Morning

Come and rest your bones with me
Driving slow on Sunday morning
And I never want to leave
~Sunday Morning, Maroon 5

Some weekends, I go and go and go on Saturday to the point that I am excited about crashing on Sunday. Yesterday was no exception. I traveled with the percussion ensemble where I am an instructor to Duncan, SC for competition. Call time yesterday morning: 8am. When did I get home last night: 11pm.

You can see why this post is today, not yesterday.

Anyway, it was a really long day and both our groups performed well. I was happy to enjoy the sunshine (some people with us enjoyed it too much!) and the many group performances. It was a pretty fun day!

So now, here's to Sunday, which I intend to spend drinking coffee, having brunch with my husband, cheering on the Heels at 12:15 and shopping with my mom this afternoon. I'll be having a much slower Sunday for at least a few hours before prepping for another work week.

Enjoy your Sunday,

Friday, March 18, 2011

SOLSC Day 18: Friday Happies

If you haven't noticed yet, I'm a bit of a list maker. Today, I'm sharing with you 7 Friday happies:

1. "Blow" by Kesha. Seriously, any song that involves the line "throw some glitter, make it rain" gets my approval!

2. Margarita grilled chicken from Chili's, accompanied by (what else?) a margarita!

3. Warm Weather! So excited for flip-flop season, I rocked a black sleeveless shirt and khaki bermuda shorts to dinner tonight and wasn't cold on our way home. Woohoo! Bring on summer!!

4. Books-a-Million, where I found Lauren Oliver's Delirium for 50% + 10% off! Bonus: used the money I saved to buy the third Forest of Hands and Teeth book.

5. Peanut butter fudge milkshake from Cookout. Delish! And besides, I worked out this week :)

6. The #fridayreads on twitter. I love reading about what other people are reading; it always leads me to something new!

7. CAROLINA BASKETBALL!! The Heels put Long Island University away with a 15 point margin tonight. Go, Roy's Boys, Go!

What are YOUR Friday happies?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

SOLSC 17: To my brother

To my not so little brother on his birthday:

Today you are 23 years old. Holy crap. That makes me feel really old! I can't believe either of us are so far along in life, and look at well we've both turned out! Who would have thought the girl who cleaned the slide and the boy who wore gift bows on his head would end up as fully functional adults? Haha!

I'm sure I don't say it often enough, but I'm proud of you. You and I both have experienced so much in our lives that we didn't want or ask for, and yet you stuck it out, even when the preschool teachers had to pry you out of the car. Oh, I wish I had photos of that.

I will never forget your obsession with Joe Montana, the famous 49ers quarterback. You had enough red t-shirts with the number 16 in white on them to last you a solid week. Everything was all about Joe, and that phase lasted until you got hooked on the (then LA) Raiders. I think you even had a school picture made in a Raiders polo! You painted your room Raiders gray (in two, maybe 3 different houses), and that was only because Mom wouldn't let you paint your room black!

Do you remember your love for Pluto (the dog, not the former planet)? Or Eeyore? I do. And I remember wondering if you would ever grow up...and you did. Way too fast. Then you went off to college, stopped cutting your hair for about 3 years, and somehow managed to convince a very pretty, very nice girl to stick around this family for a while...and then forever.

So now, little brother, you're a college grad. You have a full-time job. This is your last birthday before your wedding, and I think maybe after that ceremony I'll consider you a real adult...for a little while!

I want you to know that Johnathan and I will always be there for you should you need anything or want some advice. We both want you to be successful and will help in any way we can. We're family; that's what we do.

Happy Birthday, Wessie Poo. I hope this has been the best one yet. I love you.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In my hometown...

"From my hometown, memories are fresh
From my hometown, the people I've met
Are the wonders of my world"
Hometown Glory, Adele

Today I was in traffic trying to get home on our 2 lane highway and decided to take a shortcut through the one-stoplight town where I grew up and spent most of my childhood. I'm not the best descriptive writer, but when I think of that little town, I remember it in summer...

The summers of my youth were filled with bicycling from my parents' old farmhouse to my grandparents' house. My grandfather was good friends with the man who owned the local general-type store that would later become more of a convenience store/gas station. I would hop on my pink huffy bicycle and pedal through the field that ran from the back of our house to the back of "the store" as we called it. My grandfather had already given my brother and me 2 dollars each: one for a drink and one for a snack. We would pedal as furiously as we could, trying to reach the store as quickly as possible, taking care to have enough momentum to cross the railroad tracks without having to push the bicycle.

The store itself was a place where old men would play checkers, and at one time there was a Pac-Man machine. I would beg my grandmother for 2 quarters just so I could lose in the first round. We drank glass-bottle Cokes and sort our M&Ms by color, knowing full well they would all taste the same in the end. The man who owned the store knew us by name, and always took our $2, even if it wasn't enough to cover what we placed on the counter. He kept a tab for my grandfather instead. The place was larger than life to me in those years, and I cherish that memory to this day.

Today, I drove by that store and was disappointed to see it closed down and looking dilapidated. I didn't realize until today how long ago those summer days were, how long my grandparents have been resting in the cemetery across town. But just one look and I'm back in that store, losing at Pac-Man, pedaling that pink bicycle with every ounce of energy I had.

Those days are long gone, but the memories will be with me forever. In a classic small-town manner, the construction of a new section of highway completely bypassed my hometown, causing its economic death. All that remains are two churches, one gas station (the one we were never allowed to be in when we were young), and the post office. Everything else that I remember being so big to me is run down and closed. This town was not cared for as I had hoped, and through no fault of its own (because who would move there given the current condition) has declined so fiercely that it brings tears to my eyes just to think of it.

The drive today was bittersweet. I will never forget the people of that store, the people of that town. Many of them are no longer with us but their kindness lives on through me, through my brother, through the stories we will tell our children. How lucky I was to have that time in my life.

SOLSC: Day 15 (a day late!)

I love the tv show "Glee," and I've written about it on more than one occasion. Here's one of my all-time favorites, a mash-up of "Singing in the Rain" and "Umbrella"

Listen, you'll like it.

Anyway, I've been thinking about the concept of rain and how our lives have their own rain storms or showers or mists as we carry on about our days. So many times I've found myself worrying about the rain instead of singing in it. So I give you a list of reasons I will sing in the rain:

1. Because the rain will pass: Nothing in this world will last forever when it comes to our troubles. We eventually move on and the trouble does, too. So the rain moves on to shower someone else and we live to enjoy another day.

2. Because someone may loan you an umbrella: the people around us can offer comfort, solace, a sense of security and sometimes even the icky L-word ;) Without these umbrellas we could sit and be drenched for far too long. I am grateful for the people in my life who would willingly endure life's storms alongside me, or even on my behalf.

3. Because rain can be life-giving: My best friend has a terrible habit of leaving his plants unattended for days at a time, and every now and then I notice how sad and dead-looking they are. But just add water, and like magic they perk up and their color returns. Sometimes a life storm can give us a renewed sense of being instead of leaving us exhausted and needing to rebuild.

4. Because rain is inevitable: Just as we know that the rain will eventually pass, there's no sense in living life as if there will never be any rain. I'm not saying to live dreading a struggle that may be on the horizon, but to understand when the clouds roll in that this is part of living, part of feeling, part of being.

5. Because the rain music is amazing: so much of my rainy days (both figuratively and literally) are soothed by the right kind of music. My favorites: John Mayer, Coldplay, and Adele to name a few. I use the rain as an opportunity to feel the music.

6. Because the rain is cleansing: you know how great a hot shower feels when the stress of the day can just melt off of you? It's the same with life's rain. Sometimes, we just need to be rocked back into perspective by a life storm; it helps cleanse the buildup of ordinary life and give back the vision we so desperately need.

7. And really, what's better than a rainy day and a book?! I can't think of anything better to do when life sends trouble pouring my way than to escape into a world that isn't my own. I love getting lost in the story; I love the sound of pages turning when I read and when my students read. Books allow you to pull into yourself, or leave yourself behind for a while.

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain...

Monday, March 14, 2011

SOLSC Day 14: Youtube Fun

So I have to admit, I freakin love youtube videos (but only the good ones!). This one, David after Dentist, is one of my all-time faves. I'm giving you this one first, but keep looking because my ultimate youtube video is on down the page!

"Is this real life?"

Beyond this one, I also love one about a little boy who says "blood" over and over, but for some reason it wouldn't load. So, for your enjoyment I give you....


If you're an HP fan, then you understand the humor. If you aren't, consider this little anecdote instead:
I LOVE Harry Potter, and my students are no strangers to this fact. About a year ago, I was out sick one day and left my honors class an assignment to finish a project I had already assigned that involved creating puppets from paper bags. Upon my return, they staged a showing of "The Mysterious Ticking Noise" using puppets they had made in my absence. They had also practiced the song and completed the entire production perfectly. I was flattered, and slightly unsettled because they were so. good. at it. The perks of teaching 16 year olds, I tell ya!

Anyway, enjoy some fun today and I'll see you again tomorrow!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

SOLSC Day 13: Book Review

I loved Sara Gruen's novel Water for Elephants. If you haven't read it, you should! It's a remarkable story about circus life, love and of course there's a beautiful message about remembering our stories and being sure to tell them before it's too late.

That's not my point. The book I'm actually going to review is Gruen's newer novel, Ape House. When I saw there was another title by Gruen at my local Barnes and Noble, I found myself coveting it. Finally, in my box of books before the one I blogged about earlier this week, it arrived. I gave myself time at night to read, and then this weekend I was determined to finish it.

Ape House is about a research lab that is populated by bonobos. Their research coordinator, but more like mother, Isabel is tragically injured after someone bombed the research facility. What unravels from there is a story about who committed the crime, among other things. It seems to me, though, that there are two separate yet connected arcs within the text. The first, of course, being about the bombing, Isabel, and the fate of the bonobos (who are kidnapped...or apenapped?) who suddenly appear as a reality television program. The other arc tells the story of John Thigpen, a struggling reporter whose marriage is on the rocks, his job reduced to tabloid writing and his self esteem in the toilet. John ultimately blows open the truth of the bombing, the bonobos and the whodunit element.

What captivates me about the story is how compelling Gruen makes the bonobos. There are 6 of them; each has a name, a backstory, a real connection. I fell in love with these bonobos. I wanted to sob when I thought they were hurt in the bombing and I was elated at their fate once the story started to close.

I don't want to give too much away, but I can strongly say that readers will fall in love with the bonobos, will hurt for Isabel and will cheer John on as he works for his marriage, his career and his life. Go read this book!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

SOLSC Day 12: March Madness

It is no secret (I mean, look at our URL) that my husband and I are graduates of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. UNC has a very special place in our lives, as it is where we met and became engaged. We made so many memories along the way, including being students when UNC won the National Championship in men's basketball in 2005.

March, then, is a time for lots of trash talking and basketball watching. It seems that this month brings out all the Carolina bandwagon-ers (who don't generally bother me) and the ABCers. My students either love or hate me this time of year because I'm a huge Heels fan and talk lots of trash to my blue-devil or tiger or hokie or other team loving students.

Today was no exception in the world of March Madness. In day 2 of the ACC tournament our scrappy Carolina team played sloppy basketball (at best) in the first half and were suddenly revived in the second half. In short, the Heels came back from down 12 to a tie game at the end of regulation; overtime, here we come! In the end my team won, and Clemson was sent home again, as this was the third time Carolina has defeated them this season.

Tomorrow, my Heels take on the blue devils of Duke University for the ACC tournament championship. We are going to have a great family day that starts with the game and then moves on to playing cornhole and enjoying a great dinner. I'm so excited! And yes, there will be photos (hopefully) to accompany this post tomorrow.

Until then, GO HEELS!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Knowledge is Power

"Knowledge is power, I know what I know.
The more you learn, farther you go.
Play it smart from the start
You'll be taking a stand
Because knowledge is power
Grab it while you can, Huh!"

This is one of those silly rhymes I distinctly remember singing in elementary school, and I think that statement rings true today, too. And no, I don't just say that because I'm a teacher. Look around, and you can see that people who have the right kind of knowledge also have power over others who do not have it. What I gather from this kind of situation is that those with knowledge, which equates to power, often attempt to wield it over those who do not have said knowledge, or do not know they are lacking, or just don't speak the same knowledge-language as the one in power.

The sad part: when someone figures out that the knowledge isn't either a)legitimate or b)correct. The power structure can then shift or collapse altogether, and where would we be without powerful bullies to push us around because they think they have knowledge we do not or cannot possess? Oh yeah, we're on to you, you with your power-speak. Another observation: who legitimizes knowledge? What gives voice to certain ideas and not to others? Who gets to decide what knowledge can equate to power and what knowledge is for lesser beings?

Knowledge and power do not necessarily go hand in hand always, but in this case it's pertinent because it works with my silly song!

Philosophizing over. Just my musing for the day :)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

SOLSC Day 10: In the stillness

I rarely stay home from work, primarily because a) I (generally) like my job and b) it's almost more difficult to stay out of work than go in to work. But I'm not feeling up to it today (mostly mentally) so I'm giving myself a break. For my sanity. For my students' sanity. For everyone's benefit. See how generous I am?

Anyway, so far today I have slept late, gone back through my box of new books (yipee!) and am now on the couch in the quiet of my house with my dog curled up on the opposite end of the couch from where I am wrapped in a blanket.

And the quiet. I love listening the sounds of my home when there's no true noise. All I can hear is the hum of the refrigerator, the sound of the rain, the occasional car that passes by and the click of the heater when it starts. I am reveling in the idea of having this "me" time to collect my thoughts, read and be still. In some ways, this is odd for me because I don't generally like to be still or quiet. I go go go most of the time between school and work and doing things with friends and family. But sometimes, it feels good to just sit. And think. And write. I'm nobody's poet, but this came to mind this morning:

In the stillness I am renewed
Quiet lures me, brings me in
to a place that is only mine
Noise is silenced; there is only
Energy meets me; we begin again

Happy and hopefully Refreshing Day 10,

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

SOLSC Day 9: Christmas in March?

I was beyond excited to see the box on the front porch today. Inside, I knew, were new adventures to be taken, new emotions to expose, new worlds to explore...
Today was a book delivery day.

I have to say, Barnes and Noble gets it right with their online pricing, even though the shipping process frustrates the mess out of me. I ordered brand new hardcover books for my classroom library (once I finish them, of course!) and got a great deal. Here's what my students and I have to look forward to:

Hush Hush -- Becca Fitzpatrick
Before I Fall -- Lauren Oliver
Beautiful Creatures -- Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
I am Number Four -- Pittacus Lore
Sing You Home -- Jodi Picoult
(this one will probably make its rounds among my colleagues in the English Department first!)
The Maze Runner -- James Dashner
Revolution -- Jennifer Donnelly

Super excited about the stories ahead! I have a ton of reading to do!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

SOLSC Day 8: To Whom it May Concern

Yes, I'm having a fit. I doubt you are in the line of fire, but watch out!

To my bookstore that offers "free express" shipping: don't tease me with an earlier arrival date than when my items (which I already paid for) will actually arrive. I know that in other places (such as civilization) you don't have to add another day for the horse and buggy to bring it out to your actual home, but I do. So stop it.

To the people who speculate about oil: just shut up. It's the same product at $1.00 as it is at $3.55, yet you feel the need to "fear" that something may happen at some unknown time and until then we better just directly link our bank accounts to you. It's unfair to those of us who already don't get paid what we're worth and have the fear of looming budget cuts.

To my mail carrier: CLOSE. THE. DOOR. ON. THE. MAILBOX. Case in point: during last week's deluge you left the mailbox wide open, ruining magazines that I pay money to receive every month. How would you like it if I poured a glass of water on something valuable of yours, thus basically destroying it, and walked away without a care? Yeah, I thought so.

To my (former) satellite company: could you please lower your rates so that I can watch television like a normal person again? Or better, devise a system where I can buy the 10 channels I actually watch at a per channel rate, and you can keep the channels I don't watch. Sounds like a plan to me.

To my favorite clothing store: could you please try to consistently size your items, namely shirts? It's a tough guessing game when you aren't sure what size, and it sucks when you guess wrong and you ordered online. Also, whose brilliant idea was it to fold the decal sides of a skirt together to ship it on a hot truck? Result: it stuck to itself, and lucky for you I'm smart enough to separate it without ruining it. Don't worry, I kept my receipt.

To the condescending & the sexist: no one wants to hear you spew your hatred, your "knowledge" or your otherwise snarky remarks that make you "superior." No really, no one does. We're all have our own sense of intelligence. So keep it to yourself. And furthermore, don't call me a girl. It's demeaning, because you really mean that you're a man and I'm inferior to you, which is incorrect on its own. I can (and regularly do) outwit people like you.

To the vast majority of people: stop using "gay" as a derogatory term, because if I wanted to insult someone I wouldn't call them "gay," I'd call them "redneck" or "ignorant" or "racist/sexist". So there. Your ignorance of the meaning of the word either means a) you've never seen a dictionary or b) you're not the best example in the world of good parenting or c) you need new friends who have a brain between their ears. Yeah, I went there.

Sigh. That felt good.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

SOLSC Day 6: A lovely, lazy Sunday

My husband and I were on a sort of getaway this weekend in the time that I wasn't at Teacher Academy. We awoke this morning to rain, and lots of it. I love the sound of rain, the way it soothes me and just eases me back to sleep. It speaks to me, "go on, don't worry about doing anything productive today, just enjoy being surrounded by pillows and snuggled in covers." This morning I listened to the rain's voice and drifted in and out of sleep for an extra hour or so before finally getting out of bed and getting ready to check out of the hotel.

We enjoyed brunch at Cracker Barrel close to the hotel and I was surprised that even at 10am on a Sunday morning we were able to walk right in and get a table. Now, I know that I'm relatively newly-wed (3 and 1/2 years), but I never get tired of having a long meal with my husband and just talking about nothing, like UNC's big win over Duke last night (which I attribute to my now-classic poem, ha!).

We spent the rest of the morning shopping and I discovered the wonder that is tj maxx! They had super cute clothes for all sizes and shapes, and we got some great deals on Ralph Lauren polos for Johnathan to wear to work. I was well-behaved at the store and didn't buy anything for myself :) But then, we went to Old Navy...

and I wasn't so "good."

I have to admit that I'm a sucker for a cute outfit, especially when I can make it work with multiple pieces. Teaching, while not the most profitable profession, does encourage me to dress well, and I get bored easily with wearing the same old stuff, so I took advantage of a good sale today and am ready for warm weather to return so I can rock these new clothes!

We finally got home around 2pm today and were greeted by one excited, face licking dog :) I have to admit I missed her, even though she can be a holy terror sometimes, haha! And then suddenly it was back to reality: laundry and dishes and what are we going to pack for lunch tomorrow and are our clothes ironed? But I guess I love that part of my life, too.

So I'm 6 days into this Slice of Life Story Challenge and I have to say that I think I'm getting better at it as the days go on; let's hope the good writing continues!

Have a GREAT week!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

SOLSC Day 5: Back on Track

One of the things I struggle with in a writing challenge like this is finding interesting topics to write about. Part of my 101 in 1001 list is to respond to creative writing prompts. So I went to this site and moused over a few of the prompts. The one I've chosen today is about rainy days, which fits today's weather.

10 Things to do on a Rainy Day:
1. Sleep!
2. Read a good book, like Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light (the one I'm reading now).
3. Watch tv on dvd, like Bones, Mad Men or Weeds.
4. Blog!
5. Shop online (my favorites are Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Old Navy)
6. Burn candles and enjoy the scent
7. Scrapbook, because I'm so far behind that I may never catch up at this rate!
8. Cook fancy dinners with lots of ingredients, especially if it's a new recipe :)
9. Play silly video games with my husband like Wii Sports and Just Dance
10. Write a poem about how much I dislike Duke:

There's a school in Durham with a funny smell
I think it's part of Dante's...well,
They wear the ugliest shade of blue
There's a lighter shade, and it's prettier, too!
8 miles from Durham there's a quaint little town
It's named Chapel Hill, and there I found
A wonderful school and new friends for life
Hey, my husband even found his wife!
Seriously though, this Dook place, it stinks
And don't trust me, EVERYONE thinks
That if you get the choice, and you have to choose
The finest shade is Carolina Blue!


SOLSC Day 4: Catching up

I did not get a chance to blog yesterday *puts nose in corner*
So I'm treating you to a music review of an album I recently purchased, then I'm doing my Slice for today back to back. Double bonus!

I downloaded Adele's album "21" on itunes and got a chance to spend some time listening to it on my way to Teacher Academy in Concord. The opening track, "Rolling in the Deep" is amazing! It has a peppy tempo and I just love the soul of Adele's voice combined with the jazzy feel. This is the perfect music for me when I'm cooking or enjoying a glass of wine and unwinding after a long day. I also like the infusion of the gospel choir sound in the track "Take it All" and of course I'm going to like any song called "I Found a Boy." I highly recommend this album to anyone who likes John Mayer, Michael Buble and others in that genre.

What's your favorite kind of background music? I don't mean to say that Adele's music doesn't deserve attention, because it does, but it's the kind that you don't necessarily sing along with as much as you just enjoy being immersed in while you think or relax. There isn't much music like that in my house, as I'm a shower/car/anywhere singer and perpetual hummer :)


Thursday, March 3, 2011


How can it only be day three and I've run out of things to write about?! I think I'm more concerned than I have been in the past about blogging and mentioning anything about work, seeing as this teacher has pretty much lost her job over her blog.

So I guess, then, I'm brought to the topic of teachers' blogging. Should they do it? If they do, can they talk about work? Is anything off limits? Is anything actually permitted? What, then, dictates this teacher "moral code" that people have no issue enforcing arbitrarily? What is it about teachers and some other positions that require this additional set of values and rules that other people who work regular jobs do not have to bear? I'm leaving this here for discussion. The topic of blogging about work has nothing to do with my frustrating day, just for the record.

I just love writing (when I have time) and I think it's an ideal outlet for discussing the things that frustrate us and the things that overjoy us. Writing is a place for us to share our struggles and our victories. Why should teachers, and other people with the additional moral code, be denied that outlet? What do you fellow writers think?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hark the Sound: Slice of Life Day 2

Oh, what a roller coaster day I've had! It started out so well, then dipped, then rose, them completely plummeted in the "can we go back and get my guts?" kind of way. So I did what any self-respecting girl would do: I went to the tanning bed for some "me" time, then shopped online for books and clothes :)

Johnathan and I spent most of the evening with his family, including his oldest sister and our new niece Layla. She is such a sweet little girl, and I finally got to hold her tonight! We all watched the Carolina/Florida State game (Heels won!) together and really enjoyed ourselves. All in all, the day ended about as well as it began, so hooray for salvaging it instead of letting it destroy me (which can happen, I've seen me do it).

I'm excited about some upcoming opportunities, too. I'm going to a conference in Concord, NC this weekend on Teacher Leadership, so look for some live-blogging during the session if it's possible. If not, look for updates on Friday and Saturday nights. I'm hoping this one will offer some good ideas to take back to my school!

My principal said to me yesterday as he was signing a letter for me to apply to an NEH workshop in Chapel Hill this summer, "well you really love Chapel Hill." And he's right; I do.

Here's why:
Chapel Hill in the Spring is a heavenly place.
Franklin Street is ever changing and timeless all at once.
I've drank from the Old Well.
I've moraled the Dance Marathon (twice!).
I met the love of my life at Fall Fest 2003, even if I didn't know it yet.
I know the words to all the fight/pep songs.
I still get chills every time I walk campus.
My eyes tear up when we sing the Alma Mater.
Many of my lifelong friends are from my time at UNC.
My husband asked me to marry him on Graduation Day May 14, 2006.

Going to UNC was always my dream, and I spent years working for it. All that work paid off the day I moved into Morrison dorm, and again the day I turned my tassel next to my friends. Since then, I have more respect for myself than I ever did before and I share a bond others may never experience.

Hark the sound of Tar Heel voices
Ringing clear and true
Singing Carolina's praises, shouting NCU
Hail to the brightest star of all
Clear its radiance shine
Carolina, priceless gem
Receive all praises thine!

I'm a tar heel born
I'm a tar heel bred
And when I die
I'm a tar heel dead
So rah rah, Carolina-lina
Rah rah Carolina-lina
Rah rah Carolina-lina
Rah Rah Rah!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Slice of Life Month: Day 1

I want to talk about books. It's no secret that I love them. It's also no secret that I don't love every one I encounter, and that I've been known to throw them against walls when they frustrate me or don't end the way I think they should (ex: Jodi Picoult's Handle with Care).

The book I'm currently reading is Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light. I'm going to share some quotes from the book that I've written down because I like them, but before I do that I want to share a little about why I love this book so much:

1. The characters are so real. Donnelly really does a magnificent job developing all the characters into distinct individuals, even those that (at this point) I'm not sure are all that significant. Nevertheless, I feel like I know each one, especially the protagonist Mattie.

2. The setting is marvelous. I don't know much about this kind of place, but I know that I'm there while I'm reading. It's farm country, huge pieces of land being farmed for livestock and crops, complete with chores and cooking dinners and hanging clothes on the line. I love every minute I get to spend there, just watching life unfold.

3. The language is precise for a YA or YA loving audience. I don't think Donnelly gets over her head with language, even though the protagonist is a self-confessed collector of words. Even the integration of big words into the text fits the character seamlessly (see point 1) and it's believable.

4. The conflict is real. Mattie has a real struggle before her that involves her family, a secret promise, her own desires and her own sense of duty. I can't wait to see how these things resolve, or if they resolve at all!

Basically, this book is wonderful and while I'm excited to continue reading, it's the kind of book you don't ever want to end. I want to be part of Mattie's world forever; I want to watch her grow up, following whichever path she chooses. This kind of book reminds me why I love reading YA literature so much, and I think that my love of books and reading brings me to a place like this blog, where I can share the wonderful things that I come across in such books.

And now, some quotes:
  • "But then he turned and smiled at me, and my breath caught and I wondered if this is how it felt to be pretty"~Mattie Gokey
  • "For someone who reads so many books, you're awfully damned stupid"~Royal Loomis
  • Then she took her writing paper out of its box, put the books in the box, covered them with a few sheets of paper, and handed them to me. "Cripes, Miss Wilcox, they're not guns" I said. "No, they're not, Mattie, they're books. And a hundred times more dangerous"
The last quote speaks to me about the "dangers" of reading. What would happen if kids in all the schools read books that could change their minds? Change their lives? What a dangerous place that would be!

Until tomorrow,