Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Mandatory Minimums

I get up early each morning to write, and in the last few weeks, I've been writing grudgingly. The bare minimum of words seems to venture forth from my fingers.

That bare minimum has been 400 for years. I set this minimum arbitrarily once upon a time as some measure of success. It's a minimum that holds while I'm also working full-time at another job. When I'm being a full-time writer, the minimum increases to 800, 1500, or sometimes even higher depending on deadlines.

Part of me thinks that if I just upped the minimum in my mind for workdays, I would just write that new minimum. 500 or 600 or whatever. Maybe someday. The problem is, I already set the minimum at 400, so I'm used to it. I know that any new minimum might be fake.

In any case, today I've managed 403 words of marital strife between Leigh and Charlie, the main characters in OVERTIME, my third novel. They're arguing over money and division of labor. Typical stuff. We'll see if I can get some good details in there. Flip things a bit. In any case, every day that chapter gets 400 words longer.

In a little while, I'll go to school and teach the third graders about the election. I'm pretty excited about the lessons I planned, but as we know, even lessons that seem exciting can sometimes fail. I'll hope for the best. I've been doing a lot of that lately.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Lucky Day

I'm back in the classroom this fall for a stint until Thanksgiving. It's third grade. Here are the pros: 

  • I get to work with a fun and creative teacher whom I admire. 
  • I teach half of the kids each day, and having just ten kids is pretty easy in terms of management.
  •  Walking in the hallways was one of my least favorite parts of the job before, and now it's really not that hard because, for one thing, we don't go anywhere. And two, when we do go someplace (outside), there are only 10 of us and we have to walk very far apart. 
I've been taking the children out for an extra recess each day because it's the right thing to do and also because we don't have PE right now. The intricacies of the schedule are too much to explain, but basically, we have the same specials for three weeks and then we rotate. Right now it's Theater and Spanish. PE doesn't come until later.

Anyway, second recess came later than usual this week, and I told one little guy to cross his fingers as we walked out because I didn't know if another grade level was in the habit of using the playground at that particular time.

"We don't need to cross our fingers," he said, certain.

"But, I really want to use the playground!" I protested.

"It's okay." He seemed supremely confident and even strode a bit ahead of me, ready to confirm his prescience. 

"How do you know?" I asked.

"I'm really lucky," he told me. "I just am."

Sure enough, the playground was clear and has been at that time all week. I need that kid in my back pocket all the time.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

A New World Order

Up until this moment, I'm sorry to say we have endured a charger problem in this household. At one point, everyone had her or his own device charger. Said chargers had both power blocks and USB cords and were distributed equitably to the members of this family. Peace prevailed.

But, over time the situation has deteriorated. Here's the trouble: various members of our group have committed theft. They've taken other people's blocks or cords or both. Then, when confronted about this undesirable behavior, they've denied it and also perhaps hidden the evidence.

It was clear we needed a reset. 

Dan and I went to the Best Buy and purchased four new complete charging sets, blocks and cords. Everyone can have a new one. They will be marked with permanent marker. There will be no more theft, lying, or fraud.

This is my solemn vow, and I'll report back.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

It's Finally Time

I just posted my last regular blog entry on The Debutante Ball, so I'm officially out of excuses not to be here. Here's what's happening: The summer is winding down. I'm heading back to the classroom this fall to be a long-term substitute in third grade. It's the same position I vacated a year ago. I feel happy and excited to be going back for fourteen weeks.

Were you wondering about quarantine summer highlights?

  • Shef got his driver's license and tools around in a 2013 Rav4. He drives himself and Mac to cross country practice, which man... that's a game-changer.
  • I finished copy edits on my second novel, Are We There Yet?. It's out March 16th. I hope it's good. I think it might be. You can decide for yourself.
  • I am excited that my chin zits will be covered by masks for the foreseeable future. At the same time, I'm not excited about the pandemic. It's my least favorite thing ever, probably.
  • Our school is starting on a hybrid schedule. I will be teaching live and in person, but only 10 kids at a time. Each kid sits at their own table. The plus is there will be plenty of space for that child to spread out and work. The minuses are several, including trickiness in terms of collaboration, community, and fun. But, we're going to try our best, and my co-teacher and I decided there will be a lot of art projects.
  • My own kids go back to school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and every-other Fridays. They're on Green Team. Before the two teams were assigned, Shef really had a strong preference for Blue. Now, "all his homies rep green," and he seems fine with it. He's made memes to accompany his team selection.
  • Shef and Mac will continue to go to cross country practice every day, which is another good reason to have the driver's license and the Rav4.
  • I have been running a ton, and I think my work clothes still fit despite a Covid weight gain. I don't care about the Covid gain, really. There are more important things, and I like eating cookies and white bread. The running is good for clearing my head, which is fuzzy a lot of the time.
That's it for my first post back. I think we can all agree this is a good step.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Tell a Friend

Every so often, I get out of the habit of posting here on Word Savvy. It's a pattern I despise.

Now, I'm back, and I'll tell you about life in a two-dog household.

Back at the start of the quarantine here in March, we picked up Ripper from a lovely spot in Wisconsin. She was about 4 pounds at that point and very adorable at eight-weeks old. As a cockapoo, Ripper doesn't shed, and that's truly a blessing.

Teddy, our goldendoodle, was almost five at the time of Ripper's homecoming. I'll say he wasn't thrilled at her arrival. Having a younger sister was not something he asked for or seemed to particularly crave. But over days and weeks and now months, he seems to have adjusted to her presence. The two canines tussle multiple times per day in a way that I feel is mutually satisfying. Ripper, a quite small dog who seems to have settled in at about twelve pounds, jumps up on her older brother and snaps her jaws on his floppy ears. You'd think this might hurt him, but it doesn't seem to. Teddy either ignores her or engages in some rough-and-tumble playtime.

Only once did such playtime end in a trip to the vet, and now Ripper seems more adept at avoiding Teddy's Tigger-like bounces.

Overall, I'd rate having two dogs as 4.5 of 5 stars. It's everything I thought it would be, both more fun and more expensive. Worth it, as they say in economics.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

I Think We're Not in Quarantine Anymore

We're wearing masks and trying to stay away from one another, but we're also taking to the streets and demanding overdue justice and denouncing police brutality.

I've worn my mask to the protests, but I don't think we could call the protests "socially distanced," as we've been wont to call things lately. Sometimes, I guess if you're able, you need to take calculated risks to do greater good? At least that's what I'm telling myself.

In any case, this moment feels like a tipping point to me. I don't know anything, but that's what it feels like. The protests and outrage feel more urgent, more desperate, more widespread, and more obvious: lots of things have got to change and as fast as we can get them to change.

I'm in for the long haul. Olympian Marielle Hall wrote a really excellent piece for Runner's World this week, and she reminds us that "[f]ighting racial injustice in America is an endurance sport. It is going to take time, and sustained focus, to galvanize our communities. Being tired is not enough. The race can be won, but it requires dutiful action from all of us."

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Quarantine Diaries #8

It's kind of confusing because we're not technically on lockdown here anymore. In Minnesota, you're allowed to have gatherings of 10 people or less. But can you imagine? Inviting people to your home and perhaps killing them in the process by accident? I mean, no thank you.

In the meantime, here's a story I've been wanting to tell. There's no deeper meaning, but I find it amusing.

The other day, I was staring out the front window and happened to notice a plastic bag sitting in front of our door. I brought it in, and it was four items of frozen food from the frozen food delivery company, Schwan's.

When I was little, we used to get Schwan's, and I thought it was very exciting. There were personal pan pizzas and chicken kievs. But I personally have never made contact with the company called Schwan's. In short, I did not order this frozen food

I sent an email to the neighbors using a list I had stored from National Night Out. Hey, I told the neighbors, if this is your stuff, LMK and I'll drop it at your door. In the meantime, I'm keeping it in my freezer.

A couple of days went by, and no one replied, so one night after dinner, I helped myself to one of the Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Sandwiches from Schwan's. The kids did, too.

The next day, Shef wondered if he might bake up some of the Raspberry and White Chocolate Scones.

"Let's see how hard it is," I said. I pulled out the package of pre-scored dough, perfectly shaped into triangular pieces. The directions said to heat the oven, break them apart, and put the triangles in for thirty minutes. We did it, and the results were quite delicious. Later, Dan expressed concern over the healthiness of the scones.

"Are you worried about Shef's caloric intake?" I asked, eyebrow arched. I mean, that child is 6 feet, 2 inches tall, and a mere one hundred and thirty-nine pounds.

A few days after that, we had the frozen lasagne, and everyone was quite pleased. We have just one shrimp stir-fry dinner left. It seems the least appealing of the four things, but we'll probably give it a try.

How and why did this boon come our way? I think I might never know.