Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Three Good Pieces of Book News

Thing One: I'm reading another book of poetry. It's my third of the year. This one is by Layli Long Soldier, and its called Whereas. There was a rave in the NYT Book Review, and now I'm reading it. I'm not worrying about not getting every meaning and metaphor, but rather enjoying the words and their sounds in my head.

Thing Two: I got an email notification from Heinemann that my very own copy of Back and Forth is on its way right this very second. By the time I get home tonight, it should be here. You know the deal with this, right? It's Lee Heffernan's book? My friend and mentor and erstwhile Twin Tuesday collaborator? I can't wait to read this. I'll probably live-tweet the reading.

Thing Three: We're starting our first all-class read today in the 6th grade. It's called It Ain't So Awful, Falafel. I love it because it's funny, and it's about empathy and global competence. Perfect. Thank you, Firoozeh Dumas! And thank you, sixth graders, for reading it and practicing making inferences.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Calendar Master


I was actually feeling like back-to-school was pretty in hand for year 19. I wasn't even really working past 7pm. I hadn't messed up anything major. The kids (my own) were getting to their activities. I felt confident and competent - a true pro. Super Mom, if you will.

You see where this is going, right?

On Thursday, I was walking out of lunch with KK, and she said, "Oh, I got a dinner reservation for 6:00 at Spoon River on Saturday."

"What?" I said. "We have plans on Saturday?"

Turns out, we'd agreed a month ago to accompany our bosom friends to a fundraiser this very night. Oh yeah! Right! Of course! And I'd already made plans for that night with another friend on whom I'd recently canceled. And Mac has a hockey game and no alternative transportation.

I'll fix it, I told myself. And I totally did fix it! Success! Until a kid piped up at the end of A period on Friday, "Hey, weren't we supposed to go take pictures?" Yep! Yes, we were! 30 minutes before she reminded me!

And, this weekend there are several lessons to rehash, one of which is going to take some serious time. Don't worry! I'll get it done between Shef's CC meet, the fundraiser, a family reunion of sorts, and the dinner with that friend that I've now canceled on twice. Whee! I've totally got this.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Oops! It's Been too Long

We're cruising into the routine with the last of the special introductory schedules on tap for today. That's good because my students are getting sick of these precious anomalies.

Let's just do the regular, predictable thing without random assemblies and advisory meetings, ok?!

I myself have had to make a couple of schedule changes that I'm on the fence about. Maybe you know I usually work on my upmarket contemporary fiction book from 5-6am? At least on school days?

Well, by the time I got out of bed at 5:03, put socks on, whipped up some breakfast, and tweeted to #5amWritersClub, it was like 5:17. Then, I had to take a break at 5:40 to make tea, and before you know it was 6 and I had written for only 35 minutes.

If I'm going to be #DoneByDecember with the whole book, that kind of schedule just isn't going to work. So anyway, the solution was clear. The alarm had to be set for 4:43. Now, I'm all ensconced by 5 and get a full 50 minutes or so for this round of revisions.

Yes, it's a little early in the AM, but the characters are getting signature objects. The locations are getting arcs. A minor character is becoming appropriately fleshed out. It's happening.

In the worry column, I'm starting to get a little stressed about copy editing. I'm not good at copy editing my own work, but hiring a professional is pretty expensive for a hobby book that doesn't yet have an audience. Especially when I've already had two go-rounds with a structural professional. But,  let's just think about this later.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

First Day of School


I like the first day of school okay, but mostly I like to have it finished. The best parts of school are when we're well-oiled and hanging tough. That's not how we were this morning at our house. Mac, for one, was having trouble adjusting to the reality of the weekday morning.  Shef then discovered while we were en route to the school site that he'd forgotten his math packet. Alas, we had to turn around.

Never mind all that. In the end, we made it to school and cruised on through to recess. While I was supervising the field and sport court, some sixth-grade boys approached me, clearly distressed. The problem stemmed from football usage. It seemed a pair of kids were hogging the only football, just playing catch, while 20 or so other guys wanted to play a real game.

"Where are the kids playing catch?" I asked.

"They went down to the other field," the boys told me.

"Hmm," I said. "Well, I see a soccer ball over there," I pointed. "You could get a game of World Cup going; or I see some extra basketballs, so you could play that." The boys seemed unimpressed. "A tag game is another possibility," I suggested.

"Ma'am," said a ring leader, butting in, "thanks for laying out the options, but we have our hearts set on football."

As I didn't have a football, I couldn't make this dream a reality. The recess teacher helped eventually. I hope this conflict doesn't recur. This Ma'am wasn't super effective in resolution.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Were You Wondering about Back to School Workshops?

We've been working pretty hard, preparing for the students to arrive next week. Before that happens, my fellow teachers and I have a million meetings. There have been six meetings so far.

During the meetings, I add to my to-do list. The list is filled with items that I cannot complete during meetings. The list has gotten to be about a full page at this point.

At the end of the day full of meetings, I changed into my running clothes, the clothes I remembered to bring with me to work for the purpose of exercising at the end of the day.

After I ran and while I waited to drive cross country carpool, I crossed three things off the long list. The tasks were all related to classroom decor. It'll feel good to have the classroom looking great. It'll get finished over the weekend, I'm pretty sure. That's when the magic will happen.

That's all I've got.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

That's a Wrap

Summer's coming to an end. There are messages in my inbox about meetings next week. Agendas, to-dos, class lists, and all the rest.

This weekend, I'm going to just prepare myself with some hard core relaxation and writing and of course, driving the children hither and yon. I've got two books I want to finish. I'm behind on my book review tweets. I need to buy some name small name tags from the teacher store. Oh, and my driver's side headlight is out.

These are the kinds of tasks that are foremost in my mind on this fine Saturday. Also, there's the annual motto hunt. I love mottos. I've been listening to a new podcast called Happier in Hollywood, and the writing-partner hosts have one that I'm certainly adopting: "It's a good job, and I enjoy it."

A helpful reminder that is also true.

I'm also having a motto about being a great team player and not making too many waves. It's, "Get on the bus." When I say this to myself, I'm going to also sing the iconic ditty from a very odd children's television show that Shef liked. "Do do-do-do, Get on the Bus!" Very cheerful.

And finally in the motto department, of course, I'll continue to Be a Bright Light. It's just hard not to since that's just coded into my very nature.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I Don't Feel Good About Bachelor in Paradise

Part One:
You know, there are really important things going on in the world. I'm thinking and reading about the things nonstop, and yet, I watched Bachelor in Paradise for 2 hours last night.

And, to make things even worse, it's only because my DVR was not properly programmed that I won't be watching two more hours tonight. And darn it, I'm kind of disappointed to miss Carly and Evan's wedding! They met on Paradise another time, made out a lot on national television, and have now wed in front of this year's Paradise contestants, who've undoubtedly wished them well.

I might actually watch the episode when it pops up on-demand at some point. It's a terrible decision and a horrible waste of time.

And yet.

Part Two:
I'm thinking about lowering my book reading quota for next year. My problem is that if I say I'm going to do something, I have to do it. For each of the last four years, I've said I would read 52 books, and now there's no way around it. It's fine because I'm currently six books ahead of schedule, a situation I engineered to account for the coming storm of back-to-school.

So, things are good in the book department, but what about the New Yorkers that I keep recycling before reading them? What about the many, many news articles I have to read to keep up with the doings of our completely insane and Nazi-apologist president? What about the New York Times Book Review?

What about Bachelor in Paradise?