Saturday, May 18, 2019

Status Report

Report Card Writing: Finished! I spent time thinking about each student and what I so appreciate about her or him. I wrote that stuff, as well as some suggestions for the future. I simply cannot believe that I have no plans to write report cards next semester, or the semester after that. I can't really picture what my life outside the classroom will look like. We may fear the unknown, but we must venture ever forward. Someone famous must have said that, and that's my plan. But, in addition to the unknown, I think I'll also do something familiar...

Marathon Training: I haven't run 26.2 in five years, but I feel confident that I can do it again. I signed up for our hometown marquee event, the Twin Cities Marathon. In part, I chose this race because it's in the fall, and fall marathons are usually problematic for me because of my day job as a classroom teacher. Now that I do not have that particular day job, it should be easier to keep running come August, and the marathon in early October can be a celebration of my new gig. Maybe it will be my best marathon ever? Or, maybe I'll just cover the distance. Either way is good, and my sister-in-law, Steph, also signed up. Last time I ran a marathon with Steph, it was a total blast.

Writing: I've been telling myself it's fine to not be writing my book or my blog while I do my report cards. Unfortunately (and, of course, THANK GOD), I have now submitted my reports. I have no choice but to go back to my other work. I'm warming up right now, preparing to type some words of my god-awful first draft. I'm dying to return to the beginning of that novel, to make the story make sense and to make some of the chapters not suck; but I think it might be smarter to go push through the end and then have a whole manuscript to revise.

At the very least, I think I should write 10,000 new words before I go back. Let it be so. Ugh.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

7 for April

I'm compelled to write this morning because a while ago, I said I'd blog seven times in April, and today is April 30th. This is my seventh post this month, and so after I hit publish, I will have met my completely arbitrary goal.

This activity--writing here even though I don't feel like it--highlights my best and worst quality. On the best days, my drive to do everything I said I would do AND everything anyone else thought or imagined I might do, looks just great.

I'm highly productive, put together, and accomplished! Wow! How impressive and gold star!

On my worst days? I'm competitive and obsessed. Also unforgiving, rigid, and judgmental. I might be wearing a pedometer hooked to my underwear or fretting at my desk over not writing the best social studies lessons of all time.

Other people are like this, right? Or, is there a way to not be like this?

Anyway, that's the April Blogging Challenge in the bag! Let's do this again soon.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Travel Report: Savannah, Georgia

I've recently returned from a lovely city called Savannah, a place made famous by the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. One thing I was happy to know about Savannah is that it's among the top 5 most haunted cities in the world according to an official research site about paranormal activity at Duke University.

To celebrate Savannah's ghostliness, my friends and I went on something called the Zombie Tour. We learned that the city is built on the graves of its dead, including the orphans who succumbed to yellow fever during one or two outbreaks. These orphans wore hooded cloaks when they were alive, and now that they're not, they sometimes haunt a creepy playground next to a cemetery.

In addition to visiting the orphans' playground under the cover of darkness, we wandered about the grounds of houses in which people have experienced terrible deaths. These poor souls have been seen in mysterious photographs snapped by guests on tours. While on the tour myself, I looked at iPad pictures of unexplainable phenomena like faces in mirrors and apparitions in doorways. I snapped away on my iPhone and have scoured my pictures for any irregularities, but I don't believe I've captured any paranormal activity.

Shoot.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Playing it Cool

The other night, I had dinner with an author I admire and a mutual friend of ours. The meeting was a thrilling proposition, as I've read everything this author has written, and I love her so, so much.

My family tried to pretend to be excited when I told them about the opportunity, even though none of them had heard of the person I was so keen to meet. This is not super surprising, as at least one of them thinks "reading is trash."
Thanks, Shef.

"Is it like when I got to meet Cizzorz?" Mac asked, referring to a YouTuber he loves.
"Yes," I said, emphatically, at which point he nodded in a way that communicated he had my back. Thanks, Mac.

In fact, I could imagine myself losing it at the dinner -- gushing my head off and crying from happiness. But this behavior wouldn't be cool. I felt it was important to be cool. After all, I'm a professional writer now, and who wants to have dinner with someone who's gushing and crying?

"I'm just going to be myself," I told Dan, when I'd decided.
"Oh no," he said. "Definitely don't be yourself. She'll hate you."
Thanks, Dan.

I'll have you know that I'm pretty sure I behaved reasonably at the dinner. I casually mentioned that I'd read several of her books, but I didn't recount the details I remember from each and every one of them. I only choked one time on a red pepper flake, and I prudently excused myself to the restroom to cough violently. I was sweaty, but I wore multiple layers so you couldn't tell. I tried to balance speaking and listening. I don't think either of my dinner companions realized how hard I was working to look and act like a normal person.

When I got home, Dan appraised me and asked, "Were you normal, or were you yourself?" I'm not sure any of us will ever know. And thanks, Dan.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Marvel Universe

I don't know how you feel about it, but for me, there's sort of a limit to the number of Marvel movies I can see.

For instance, I've seen a couple of the Iron Men, a Captain America, an Ant Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and at least two Avengers. Oh, and Captain Marvel and Spiderman: Homecoming. And also Guardians of the Galaxy.

I've seen at least all of these Marvel movies and maybe one or two more.

For some reason, I'd drawn the line at Infinity War, mostly because Mac told me that half of the people disintegrate at the end. That sounded sort of sad and less satisfying than, say, the usual epic and improbable victory you get in all those other movies I mentioned.

But now Avengers: Endgame is coming out this week, and it's like, a ginormous media and pop culture phenomenon, and I probably have to be a part of it. This is true both because I enjoy pop culture phenomena and also because of the peer pressure I'll experience within my own home.

Given my plans, then, to see Endgame in the theater, I'll probably first watch a YouTube video (or seven) to collect all the information I need to enjoy this film without whispering to Dan or the kids for clarification about who's who and/or what's happening.

It was tricky during Infinity War because I didn't recognize the Winter Soldier or Falcon, and I had only the vaguest memories of Scarlet Witch. Even though I first mistook Thanos for Hellboy, I did then thoroughly enjoy Josh Brolin with that giant chin. Who doesn't enjoy a little Brolin?

Bring it on, Endgame. I'll be ready for you.




Monday, April 15, 2019

The Weeks

I've had a rough couple of weeks with the writing. You know how sometimes things just flow, and then how other times it feels like a massive grind just to type a sentence or two?

I've been in a grind phase now for a couple of weeks, the exact weeks, as it happens, that I've been back in school from spring break. Luckily, there are a few strategies that we can use to press ever onward:

First of all, we can remember that almost all writers hate writing from time to time. You can find any number of quotes from famous and lauded writers about how awful it can be to write. I just found one from Anne Tyler, who is inarguably brilliant and has written 22 novels: "If I waited till I felt like writing, I'd never write at all." See? Even she just has to make herself do it.

Second of all, we can set a timer and just promise to work for a very short interval. I recommend something less than twenty minutes. I go for 15 first in the morning, and then I switch to 10. In between the intervals, I can do something else like make tea or do the New York Times mini crossword. Incidentally, if you like the NYTIMES mini crossword, could you let me know? We could be leaderboard friends. You know how I love a good leaderboard.

Third of all, we can remember that the first draft is always just objectively terrible. Write the worst thing you can possibly think of. That's how it's supposed to be. Jodi Picoult, author of 25 novels, says, "I may write garbage, but you can always edit garbage. You can't edit a blank page."

I literally repeat these things to myself every morning. Things like, "Just do it," and "Write badly!" Someday soon, I hope the writing comes more smoothly again. It probably will, and then it will inevitably get worse again. Oh well.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Anti-Thrill List

Well, we're having a winter storm event. It's mid-April and these things happen here in Minnesota, but I'll admit I'm not thrilled. Other things that don't thrill me:


  • Kids kicking other kids. I did tell the kicked kid that there is some danger in crawling under tables pretending to be a cat, but still, we all know we shouldn't kick.
  • Delayed onset muscle soreness, also known as DOMS. This condition causes water retention and discomfort. It's tough being an athlete in one's forties.
  • Homework. One of my kids sometimes requires vigilance and assistance in homework completion. Let's just all skip it, shall we?
  • Rhubarb. There was a rhubarb-based dessert in the cafeteria the other day, and while I enjoy most foods, I just don't care for rhubarb. Next time, let's hit the fruit-based dessert with a little apple flavor. Maybe some peach.
Thanks for carefully considering this list.