Teachers Write: Off to a good start!

6 Jul

Last summer I committed to blogging every day of summer vacation. I did that once before too, but am not foolish enough to do it two years in a row. Last summer, I also started, but didn’t finish Teachers Write. I think it was overly ambitious of me to try and do both, so Teachers Write fell by the wayside. This summer I have three goals: complete Teachers Write, do yoga 3-4 mornings a week and get creative in the kitchen. I think I’ll mostly keep the yoga thing to myself, and you might see some of my kitchen creations here, but I will share much of what I do with Teachers Write.

monThis morning’s assignment was not an easy one, but I’m pleased with what I’ve written. It asked me to examine my goals, commit to them and articulate why I’m writing (my interpretation). My goal is really to finish Teachers Write this time and I hadn’t spent too much time thinking about it beyond that. I know why I write, that one was the easy part. I write because I love to. I identify as a write. It is cathartic to put words to the page. I love poetry. I love story. I love persuasion. I love to share. Also, I write because I teach writing. No one can truly teach someone else to write, unless they have a writing practice of their own.

My goal is to move beyond the beginning, that dreaming, brainstorming and the jumping right in part. My goal is to stay interested, to not let my story fizzle out or drift away like so many before it. After I start, something odd and unsettling always seems to happen. Maybe the problem is that I look back, but instead of me turning into a pillar of salt, it’s my story that turns. When I re-read it the next day I have that stale and sour taste in my mouth that I get when I’ve been drinking the day before. While longing for something fresher than water to take the awful taste away, I look back and wonder how the hell I thought THAT was a good idea. Does this happen to other writers? If so, how do they move beyond it? The best solution I can think of is to power through without looking back (too much). So, getting pas the beginning is my ultimate goal. Beginning something that I intend to finish will equal a feeling of success.

I wonder…

  • how losing someone you’re really close to changes you and the way you live life.
  • how parents that lose a child cope long-term.
  • what it feels like to reunite with a past you’d rather forget.
  • why some people divorce and remain friends while others are mortal enemies.
  • about the nature of friendships. Why do people come in and out of our lives and what makes a friendship endure?
  • what it feels like to know that you’re close to the end of your life.
  • why some people have such a difficult time finding romantic love, even when they desperately want it.
  • how body image shapes personality.
  • if it’s true that height and intelligence are bred through cultural diversity.
  • what allows some people to achieve their goals, while other continually struggle. Is it more than will and determination?
  • why someone who seems to dislike/hate children becomes a teacher.
  • about the parent-child relationship and what causes role reversal in some.

I have some answers to some of these wonderings, but I don’t think that I have THE answer to any of them. I’m going to explore some of these ideas in my story. Here’s how it goes:

This is a story about a teenage girl
She’s pretty, but she doesn’t think so
She’s smart, but she doesn’t care
She’s well behaved, but she doesn’t want to be
She’s entitled and a little bit spoiled, but that’s not her true nature

This is also a story about the girl’s mother
She’s confident, but she wasn’t always
She’s divorced, but isn’t jaded
She’s a nurturing parent, but she isn’t perfect
She is giving, but won’t be taken advantage of

This is also a story about the mother’s mother
She is frail, but has an inner strength that prevails
She’s perceptive, but sometimes her children forget that
She grew up poor, but worked hard for a better life
She has a secret, but she hasn’t told anyone–yet.

This is a story about how three women, connected by the bonds of family, learn to love and appreciate each other by sharing their past, being honest about their realities and accepting a practical view of the future. This is about dropping the pretenses and embracing the struggles that make each of these women strong in their own right. This story will cause the reader question how well we all really know our mothers and daughters.

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Summer 2015

13 Jun

My summer vacation time doesn’t start for another ten days, but I’m SO ready for it now. Every summer I get a big stack of books ready so there won’t be a lack of choices. Today I just finished reading Revival by Stephen King. I’m not a big King fan, but I loved this one. So now, I want something a little less intense and I’m looking to my stack to make my next choice.

image

Besides the stack of 17 books you see here, I have the following eReads waiting for me
Things I Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight
Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline
MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Longbourne by Jo Baker

Honestly, if I read 8-10 of the 25 before school starts again in the fall, I’ll be happy. So, which one should I start with?

2014 in review

4 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,200 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Day 61 – And my summer is done

24 Aug

wpid-20140713_085103.jpgSixty-one days is a long time to not be working. I don’t say vacation because my job is such that I get paid for the work I do ten months a year and that pay gets spread over twelve months. When I’m not working in the summer, I’m actually not paid for that time, but it sure feels like vacation and I love it. I consider it one of the many perks of my job. To anyone who begrudges me that summer ‘vacation’, you too could have been a teacher. I don’t apologize one bit for enjoying every bit of that time. Tomorrow I officially go back to work for the 2014-15 school year.

When I started my daily blogging on day one, I mused about how blogging every day might affect my enjoyment of the summer. In fact, I was pretty certain that 2011, the last summer I blogged every day, was an excellent summer in part because of the blogging. Now I know that I was wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a bad summer, but I don’t think blogging made it what it was. I usually enjoyed the time spent writing. I’m proud of myself for posting every single day and I’m a bit tired of posting every single day. This summer was good. Nothing bad happened but I wouldn’t call it fantastic, as I did in 2011.

I had big plans to read lots this summer! On day two (no I won’t recap every day) I shared my summer reading list. I read five of the eleven books on my list, well I’m almost finished number five. Of the five, I recommend three booksof them. The first book I read was The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. It was okay,  lagged in the middle and was a long story, long enough to be epic, but fell short. It was far less interesting than its title suggests. Then I read Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. This was a great YA read that I’d recommend to most of my female friends and my students. It deals with poverty, abuse, bullying and young love. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness was my favourite read of the summer. It was the third in her Discovery of Witches trilogy and I almost never read sequels. This was a most excellent exception. If you like fantasy and historical fiction, this trilogy is for you. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion was a light and easy read and it was downright funny. Glenn’s reading it now. I’d recommend this one to anyone who reads; its appeal and target audience is that wide. Right now, I’ve been reading A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby for a few weeks because I had a difficult time getting into it and I had to slug through the second part of it. With about 60 pages left to read I finally want to know how it ends. What drew me to this book was the premise: four strangers meet for the first time on New Year’s Eve on the roof of a tall building with the intention of jumping to their deaths. They don’t jump and the rest of the book is about how they navigate through life and their newfound unlikely and unofficial support group. It’s less interesting than it sounds. I’ll see it through.

I have learned a lot about myself as a writer this summer. While I won’t delve into that too much I’d like to recap my top five posts ICYMI.

  1. Day 14 – Letting Go I wrote about my daughter’s daring summer adventureswpid-img_0301.png
  2. Day 20 – Ten ideas for stories exactly what the title suggests
  3. Day 28 – Namaste was about my path to yoga and what makes it right for me
  4. Day 29 – The end of an era was about the new subdivision being built behind my home
  5. Day 42 – BBQ Meatballs is a family favourite recipe

Each of these have been viewed by over a hundred different readers, so clearly these have proven to be the most interesting posts. Even though each post is dramatically different from the others, they have one thing in common. None of them are about my day, nor are they poetry. Those type of posts got the least traffic. I enjoy writing poetry and will keep doing so. In fact, if you didn’t see my blackout poetry, check it out. I really had fun with it and can’t wait to try it with my students. I always felt like writing about my day was  a bit narcissistic and definitely a cop-out when I wasn’t sure what else to write about, especially when the day wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

Now that my 61 days are over, I plan to continue blogging from time-to-time. Now that the summer is over, I’m looking forward to going back to work. I might as well look forward to it and go in with a positive outlook because it’s going to happen either way. It’ll certainly make it more enjoyable.

And thus, without a wing,
or service of a keel,
Our summer made her light escape,
Into the beautiful.
                       ~ Emily Dickinson

Day 60 – Chess Piece

23 Aug

For years, Glenn and I have been saying how Fredericton needed a dessert spot. A place where one could go after a night on the town for coffee and dessert or a place to go and get a dessert to bring home. Most cities and towns we’ve travelled to have such a spot. Fredericton seemed to lack in this area. There were other options, like restaurant desserts, grocery store desserts and some vendors at the market sell good desserts. Growing up, dessert wasn’t something we had often, mostly just on birthdays and holidays. Glenn has a sweet tooth and likes to have something sweet at least once a weekend. I don’t mind making dessert, but I hate having it around the house for days afterward.

wpid-20140823_212655.jpgTonight was date night. We went out for supper, then decided to try out the new Chess Piece Pâtisserie & Cafe on Queen St. There were lots of yummy looking choices. I suggested that we get two different desserts and allow each other a taste. I wanted the chocolate and Glenn really wanted a fruit and custard pastry. However, he got the chocolate one because, “What if I like yours better?” He was serious. We both agree that it was an excellent choice, no matter what the reason. It had a chocolate sponge cake bottom with a bit of crunch and and a smooth, dense chocolate mousse with a chocolate ganache. I couldn’t finish it it, but I did my best.wpid-20140823_212839.jpg

We will certainly be going back to try their other creations. It’s a quaint little shop with a great spot to sit with a friend for coffee and pastry. It has breakfast sweet and savoury choices as well. I hope Fredericton supports this business because there really isn’t anything else like it here.

Tune in tomorrow for the last post of my 61 days of summer blogging.

Day 59 – ZuZu’s road trip

22 Aug

Three or four times a year we travel to New Jersey to see Glenn’s mom. In the summer we usually go twice. We go dwpid-20140821_142012.jpgown, stay a week and bring her back with us. She stays for a few weeks, then we take her back and stay with her for another week. This year we were together all summer. Yesterday we drove back home. Usually we make the trip in eleven hours, but last Saturday our trip there was 12 hours and it was 12 hours again yesterday. Two brutal drives. It isn’t the extra time so much as the traffic jams that make it difficult.

ZuZu went with us this time. She travels so well! Glenn made a platform that sits on the center console, then he put her dog bed on the platform. She sleeps in the bed for most of the trip and rests her little head on Glenn’s arm. A few times she was actually snoring. It was so cute I had to snap a photo.

The whole time we were in New Jersey ZuZu ate less than half of one day’s food. She ate her treat every night and bummed a little bit of table food. The last night we were there I gave her an egg because I was so worried about her not eating. It was a full 24 hours after we got home and not feeding her much people food at all today before she finally ate her food. Whew! What a relief.

Day 58 – An Ode to My Bed

21 Aug

bedThere’s nothing more divine than your spongy pillow top
Upon your memory foam I can’t wait to finally flop
After sleeping in other beds for many a night
Delving into your softness will be pure delight

Climbing to your waist-high plateau will be worth it all
once to slumber-land I finally do fall
Your 540 thread count plum coloured sheets
Against my skin will feel so sweet

Your sturdy headboard and solid frame
I know your comfort will feel just the same
While I was away your familiarity I did miss
The sleep I will have tonight will be sweet drowsy bliss

Sleep will definitely not elude
My slumber this night you must not intrude
Because I have missed my bed immensely
Tonight I plan to dream intensely

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