Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Few Words, Many Intentions

January 2013--the month I was quite dedicated to the weekly writing challenges issued by the folks over at Trifecta.  And then January melted into February and into March and into April which spiralled, almost instantaneously into December, catching most people somehow off-guard, and leading them to the quizzically rhetorical and absurd pondering: where did the year go?

I'm not judging.  I'm commiserating.

The beauty of a year-gone-by: the opportunity it affords to do the next year better.

Inspired by Trifecta's Week Ninety-Nine Writing Challenge (and Michael Hess's Three Word New Year's Resolution), I resolve this for 2014:

Live with Might

Because no matter what I undertake in the year ahead, if I do it with might--vigor, strength, power--I will have no regrets.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Voice of the People*

Today while Braden attended swim practice, I laced up my Nike tennis shoes and took an hour and a half stroll on the elliptical.  I passed the time with my best friend, Netflix, and two more episodes of "House of Cards," a Netflix original series starring Kevin Spacey, one of my all-time favorite actors, as Congressman Underwood, a cut-throat politico who orchestrates his success in Washington like a manipulator maneuvers a marionette.

While I never need an excuse for a Netflix marathon, today's Spacey date was a welcomed diversion from the wall of flat screen televisions broadcasting only ESPN and both national and local FOX News networks. As a literature nerd, I find sports banter banal in its first-run; I do not care to know the projections for the next big gridiron battle, but even the Sports Center loop was preferred over the FOX News continuous attention to Obama Care and Phil Robertson.

My attention shifted from Spacey's fictitious political melodrama to FOX News's delusory reportings of current political horrors brought upon the United States by Obama Care and upon Phil Robertson by the self-serving liberal political machine running wild in the United States.  And I couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity of it all.

Phil Robertson is a bigoted, back-woods Conservative Christian who said some horrendously hateful things, in my opinion, but it is farcical for FOX News to turn A&E's response to his ignorant statements into a political dialogue.

Phil Robertson's opinions about sexual orientation and race are driven by his religious and moral values, not political ideologies.  While religion can correspond with political leanings, they are not synonymous, and to presume them otherwise is erroneous. His sentiments speak for a radical minority these days as evidenced by the 18 states that now support same-sex marriage--Utah approved its legislation on Friday, but the Attorney General has requested an appeal.  As Robertson is neither a Senator nor a Congressman and cannot drive legislation at the state or national level regarding marriage or race or gender equality, we should allow the loon--as I see him--to speak his piece in peace.  Let him speak for his views, but do not let him speak for either political party's ideologies.

Phil Robertson does not speak for me.

A&E, who has suspended Robertson indefinitely for his remarks, does not speak for me.

FOX News most certainly does not speak for me.

(Congressman Underwood could speak for me were he real.)*

As a Nation, our energies should be harnessed to choosing for office those who truly speak for us; to choosing real people, not reality people, to reflect our desires for humanity; to choosing honest discourse over scripted confabulation to change the rhetoric of America.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Creation Story

Braden's Dad, Kevin, is a chatterbox.  Bold accusation coming from me, the queen of the 3:00 minute voice mail, I know.  But if the two of us were to go word-for-word, Kevin's loquaciousness would win by a Dickensian sentence. Thus, I have mechanisms in place for surviving chats with Kevin.  If my brain is fried from a long day at work, and Kevin calls, I silence the call because I prefer to go in warm after listening to a voice mail instead of entering cold into his circuitous dialogue. 

Notwithstanding the occasional avoidance, I value Kevin's gift of gab.  His amiable, social personality have warmed him to Braden's swim coach, opening an avenue of communication, something I have failed at accomplishing for over six months.  His even-keeled, zen philosophies, though typically ignored by himself, have oftentimes kept me from spewing words in anger toward him, the swim coach, Braden's teachers, and over-zealous grandparents alike.

While holding vigil over swim practice recently, Kevin and I were espousing recent life-changes we had experienced which, for me, includes yet another new job in yet another new town.  At a loss for the precision necessary for explaining why my job at Wright City High School, despite six preps--two of which are publications, with two more being freshmen-level courses I have had no experience teaching since I, myself, was a freshman educator--feels less overwhelming than my previous new job in the previous new town, Kevin simply clarified, "it's because you are creating something here instead of merely adhering to it."

That is it.  That's what I've been missing since moving to Missouri nearly three years ago.  The power to create. 

In my first teaching assignment upon my return to the state of my youth, I continually found myself thwarted by rules and archaic principles enforced by closed-minded Mid-Westerners.  Play-it-safe and by-the-book were mantras in the place that stood--as I was reminded frequently--in the shadow of the Capitol.  Knowing that Braden had no educational or athletic future in the heart of Missouri, I set my sights on how to move us forward and adhered to the established norm of this place instead of creating positive friction through loyalty to my educational philosophies.

In adhering, I lost my power.

I found my power again in a tiny little blip on the map, approximately thirty miles west of St. Louis.  Here, I set my sights on how to create positive friction through loyalty to my educational philosophies instead of adhering to the established norm and hiding in the shadows.  I owe much of my rediscovery to my administration; they trust my instincts and challenge me to push my students and myself.  Play-it-safe and by-the-book are scoffed and replaced by leave-it-all-on-the-court.

In this place, the World is mine to create.

After all, isn't living about creating?  Creating life.  Creating memories.  Creating a name.  Creating a legacy.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Life Line

Hide your jealousy behind your cold, ceramic shell.  Accept I'm her favorite, her go-to, her vessel of choice for her daily dose of warm, caffeinated life. I'm the mug you desire to be.

Trifextra 33 Word Challenge

We want you to give us a 33-word example of personification.  Wait.  What?  You forget what that is?  It's the practice of attaching human traits and characteristics with inanimate objects, phenomena and animals (http://literary-devices.com).

Monday, January 21, 2013

First Time's a Bitch

Brainstorming ideas for week 61 of the Trifecta Writing Challenge is a real bitch.

I don't know where to begin.  Is it cold feet?  Lack of inspiration?  Awareness that these ramblings may actually be read by someone other than my mother?

They say the first time's a bitch.  Man, does that hold true here.

I looked to the writings posted by the regulars, the over-achievers, the authors, the been-there, done-that crowd.  That only threw more of a wrench in this bitch of a mess I'm making here.  They're composed.  Polished.  Confident in their fiction voices and characters.

(I stopped reading after four samples so it's possible someone posted something less amazing.  But I doubt it.)

Me?  I'm simply a girl that blogs about what strikes her.  Confident in MY voice and MY character.

But all the rest?  Who knows?  Can I write fiction worthy of reading (by someone other than my mother)?  Am I more poetic than Dr. Seuss (who would have rhymed 'bitch' with 'stitch')?

I'm still figuring it all out.  And it's a bitch.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Time to Go Forward

Moving forward.  Yet again.  Yes again.  Because what was behind, back, before simply weighed me down in a facade of progress and growth.  Confident words over-shadowed by festering weakness.  Seeds of indecision, as if defying their very core, blossom into hardened oaks, reaching forward with the strength of a women found.  Thus, every part of me says go ahead.  Further ahead.  Yes ahead.  Back to me.  The me I see ahead of me.  The me I left behind when I couldn't keep up with myself.  The me that waits, unchanged, for the epitome of me to rejoin me, not move backward. 

Submission for "100 Word Song"
Tame Impala "Feels Like We Only Go Backward"

Color of my Soul

Bruno. C. / Art Photos / CC BY
My soul is not shaded by dirt smearing my shirt.
Nor is it caged by the dilapidated pens surrounding me.
My soul burns white and confident, pink and passionate, blue and hopeful.

33 Words for Trifextra:  Week 51

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

From the Mouths of Babes

One of the courses of the overwhelming six I teach this year is junior-level American literature.  These juniors are, with the exception of my newspaper staff, my favorite group of kiddos at Wright City High School.  Yes, they exhaust me with their continual, not-so-fluid segues to topics unrelated to their studies, and their whining about how my heightened expectations conflict with their minimalist efforts exacerbates me, and another day of the two phone addicts texting, tweeting, surfing, booking, googling, liking, tagging, ruzzling, matching, wording with Apple or Samsung instead of absorbing Fitzgerald or Hawthorne could send me teetering into a classroom diatribe about respecting your elders, but I genuinely adore those 25 knuckle-heads to death.

Today we spent an inordinate amount of time in close-reading of this, one of my most favorite images in all of literature:

 “Instead of taking the short cut along the Sound, we went down to the road and entered by the big postern.  With enchanting murmurs, Daisy admired this aspect or that of the feudal silhouette against the sky, admired the gardens, the sparkling odor of jonquils and the frothy odor of hawthorn and plum blossoms and the pale gold odor of kiss-me-at-the-gate.  It was strange to reach the marble steps and find no stir of bright dresses in and out the door and hear no sound but bird voices in the trees.”

After the prescribed scrutiny of color imagery and symbolism (yawn) [if students can seek guidance from ChaCha or Cliff, it's not stimulating enough], I shepherded their attention to the subtle ways Fitzgerald emphasizes the intimacy between Gatsby, Daisy, and Nick.  A brief moment later, a hand waved eagerly in the back of the room.

"Do authors really think all of these details out before writing?  Nothing would ever be written if every author took this long agonizing over fine points as you expect us to do," quipped the most inquisitively confrontational student in the room.

"Unless an author leaves behind an analysis of every, single, little idea, it is impossible to know precisely what he had in mind for every, single, little idea, but literary study and criticism identify universal concepts, patterns, symbols, and motifs that hold true for all writing.  The ideas you can Google tend to fall as universally accepted interpretation or analysis, but what I love about reading is going further, looking for more, developing ideas independent of the Wikipedia answer that, though different from established understanding, can be supported with evidence within the text.  So, what do you notice about these characters?"

This deflection did not satisfy him as he again inquired, "But how does anything get written?  It seems the process takes entirely too long.  You couldn't pay me to write.  Too much work."

"Well, people without a passion for writing or a pleasure for piecing every, single, little idea together to weave a story, don't become authors.  And not everyone acclaimed as an author is good at writing (as evidenced by the likes of Stephenie Meyer).  It is a lot of work."

"Do you write?" interrupted a girl across the room.  "You seem to enjoy this stuff.  You should write.  Do you blog?  Can we read it?"

Her questions came flooding at me.  "Yes, I write," I stammered.  "I used to write, actually blog, frequently.  Weekly.  Daily.  But I don't so much anymore."

"Well you should," chimed in yet another student.  "I would read it."

The sentiments of encouragement echoed in me the rest of the day.  And here I am.  Again.  With something to write.