Sunday, September 25, 2011

I'm a Blog Slacker ... So Starting Back Up With Sunday Stealing :-)

There is no question, I've been a slacker in terms of keeping this blog up to date.  I've been busy with the kids and school starting back up and all sorts of other things.

So, yeah, I have a boyfriend, who I'll call Henry here (he knows why).  He's an English teacher, a voracious reader, and is a very kind, very funny, very smart person.  I've been avoiding mentioning him because I didn't want to jinx anything.

I guess I'm comfortable enough with where we're at now to mention him here.  That's probably a good sign :-)

Anyway, onward to Sunday Stealing, which is called "That Meme That's Going Around" this week.

A. Age:
I'll be 35 next month.  I don't want to talk about it.

B. Bed size:
So I have Ward and June Cleaver beds in my room.  Yes, I'm serious ... I sleep in a twin-sized bed.  With a golden retriever.  

C. Chore that you hate:
Unloading the dishwasher.  Now, I don't mind loading the dishwasher, which is, according to everyone that makes fun of me about this, the exact same amount of work when all is said and done.  For some reason, though, I just hate unloading the stupid dishwasher ...  

D. Dogs:
I've always had dogs, primarily golden retrievers, and they've always been family members, not just pets.  Right now, I have a golden retriever named Mollie and a black lab named Sonja.  They're wonderful :-)

E. Essential start to your day:
Coffee.  It's not a real day until there's coffee.

F. Favorite color:

G. Gold or Silver:
I actually think silver is prettier, but virtually all of my jewelry is gold ... interesting conundrum ;-)

H. Height:
5'2".  I'm short.  Most of my students are taller than I am.  I've come to terms with it.

I. Instruments you play:
I can pick on the piano a bit, and I used to sing pretty well.

J. Job title:
English Teacher.  

K. Kids:
Two daughters, Addie (17 and a senior in high school, which I do NOT want to talk about) and Belle (7, and a sparkly, sweet little girl) 

L. Live:
In New England, where we have a passion for sports teams that mess with our minds and say things like, "WICKED PISSAH".  

M. Mother's name:
I'm not putting my mother's name down here.  I will tell you, though, that I almost gave Belle my mother's name for a middle name, but I just couldn't do it because the name is so ... well, dumb.  No, it's not Bambi.

N. Nicknames:
Many and varied ... "Teach" and manifestations of my name (such as KLo) are the norm.

O. Overnight hospital stays:
Also many and varied ... I never just get a cold, it's always something that requires overnight hospital stays.  It's been awhile, though ... years, in fact.  Speaking of fearing a jinx ...

P. Pet peeve:
Feet, "Toppers" (people that have to one-up every story you tell ... it's very annoying), rudeness, mean people, being disorganized ...

Q. Quote from a movie:
"Leave the gun ... take the cannoli." 

R. Right or left handed:

S. Siblings:
Two, Adam (four years older) and Mary (two years younger).  I also have two half-sisters and a half-brother.

T. Time you wake up:
During the week, 5:30 a.m. ... on weekends, it depends.

U. Underwear:
Yes ;-)

V. Vegetable you hate:
Peas.  The consistency of the inside of peas makes me gag.

W. What makes you run late:
I'm very rarely late.  My mother is ALWAYS late, and it used to drive me crazy.  It got to the point where I'd tell her I needed to be picked up from practice at 3:30 when it was really 4:00 because I knew she'd still be 15 minutes late.

X. X-Rays you've had:
A lot.  I don't keep track ...

Y. Yummy food that you make:
There are very few things I can make, but what I can make I make very well--chicken salad, corn chowder, meatloaf, a chicken casserole with cheese and broccoli that's pretty amazing, and spaghetti with meatballs.  

Z. Zoo animal:
I think wild cats (tigers, lions, cheetahs, leopards) are unspeakably beautiful.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Special Favor: Who is (Are) Your Favorite Author(s)?

I'm doing a rather ambitious project with my high school students.  Basically, they need to choose an author of fiction to focus on for a yearlong project.  They'll have to read a book each quarter and do an accompanying project, then tie it all together with a final paper focusing on a theme that runs throughout the four books as well as analyzing how the author's life and experiences played a role in his or her works.


Yup, like I said ... ambitious.  It might even be overly so, but I'm super-excited about it, and the kids seem to be as well.

Which brings me the favor part ...

A number of my students have asked for an author recommendation list, considering that the parameters include an author prolific enough to have four published novels.

I've made a list, but I tend to have tunnel vision at times with regards to literature.

If you would be so kind as to leave author suggestions (and perhaps a blurb about why you'd recommend a particular author), I would be unfailingly grateful :-)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Stealing: The 20 Questions of Doom Meme

1. Do you believe in Heaven?
II try to, because the alternative (that people just molder in caskets and become worm food) is not a happy thought.

2. Have you ever come close to dying? 
Yup, several times.  Ruptured appendix, internal bleeding following an ERCP, one bout of acute pancreatitis that left me in a medically-induced coma for almost a month.

Oh, and I almost died today at the horror of having to force my child into a nightmarish situation.  Some people should seriously just be shot ...

3. What jewelery do you wear 24/7? 
Diamond earrings (because otherwise I'd lose them), mother ring

4. Would you ever consider having plastic surgery? Nah ... after all the medical drama I've had to contend with, I'd never get any sort of elective surgery.

5. What do you wear to bed? Pajama pants and a t-shirt.

6. Have you ever done anything illegal? Oh, dear God ...

7. Who was the last person that you touched? 
My little Belle <3

8. Where did you eat last? 
Home.  Hannaford's make these seasoned hamburger patties that are just orgasmic ;-)

9. Besides your own blog, are there any that you routinely read but never comment on? I read so many blogs that it would be impossible to list them all here.  I go through spurts where I have time to comment ... wish it could happen more often.

10. Ever been involved with the police? 
Yup, as both a "criminal" (as one example, I called a cop stupid for telling me I was speeding in a school zone when the sign clearly said "20 when blinking", and besides, it was a Saturday...great lesson in the difference between being right and being smart) and as a victim (as one example, I spent time on the phone with the 911 operator for some time while Pythagorus was on a drunken rampage ... and I was holding Belle at the time ... it was a freaking nightmare)

11. Do you talk in your sleep? 
God, I hope not ;-)

12. Now a celebrity fantasy. Who would you take on a ménage à trois for a dirty weekend? 
I'm not in the mood to think in this direction.  I've had a very bad day :-(

13. Do you feel that you’ve had a truly successful life? 
Yes, absolutely.  I've raised two amazing daughters who anybody would be proud to lay claim to (and in less than ideal circumstances), and I've also been a teacher, mentor, and life coach to a multitude of students.  I'm pretty sure my funeral would be well-attended, and I guess that says a lot.

14. Where do you wish you were? 
I really don't care.  Did I mention that I'm in a foul mood?

15. Have you ever ridden in an ambulance?
Actually, no.

16. Is there any type of dancing that you love to do?
I don't dance.  Well, let me rephrase that ... I can't dance ;-)

17. Last gift you received? 
Belle made me a bunch of stuff for Mother's Day.  I'm allegedly very hard to find gifts for ...

18. Last sport you played? 
Basketball :-)  I'm quite a liability, though, being 5'2" and all.

19. Last place you went on holiday? 
New York City.

20. Current Song? 
I'm not listening to anything right now.  When I'm in a foul mood, I tend to avoid music because I'm one of those people that puts connotations with songs.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Accepting Criticism ... Along With a Special Thanks and a Really Cool Opportunity :-)

I truly believe that the reason my novel is still unpublished is that I suck at struggle with accepting criticism.  This is true in all facets of my life, but it's unquestionably the strongest with regard to my writing.

Why?  I suspect because, at least in terms of the tentatively titled Unbreakable, I put so much of myself into it, that I put many years of my life into it, that it has been a part of me for a very long time.

I spent a lot of this summer working on fixing up my novel, based in large part on suggestions and input from you, my lovely readers.

So I'm going to ask you to please do it again ... how's that for grateful ;-)?

Marcy over at Mainewords and Dianne from In High Spirits collaborate on what they call "First Impressions".  Basically, you can submit the first page of your manuscript, and both Marcy and Dianne will critique it publicly on their respective blogs.

If you're a writer, I strongly recommend this great opportunity.  I mean, the hardest thing to hear is that something that you've poured your heart and soul into stinks ... but at the same time, receiving specific feedback on how to improve it from fellow writers is absolutely invaluable.

I'm not getting torn to shreds, actually, which is cool :-)  The big issues seem to be my use of a mother's use of "revulsion" in terms of her son, and my affinity for extremely long sentences.  Both of these are excellent points and remind me that I still have much work to do.

But I'm feeling great about it (my new mindset is permeating all aspects of my life :-)), and am now really interested in finding a critique partner and really, seriously, 100% aggressively delving into getting that book published instead of waiting for someone to say, "I read an excerpt of your novel online, and it's amazing.  I'd love to represent you!" because clearly that is not going to happen ;-)

Anyway, special thanks to Marcy and Dianne, and I hope that you will go over to their respective blogs and add to the critique fest ... myself and my novel need all the help we can get ;-)

And again, please consider submitting a "First Impression" piece to these two wonderful ladies ... you won't be sorry.

"After the Flood, All the Colors Came Back"

Perhaps one of my strangest habits is posting random song lyrics as my Facebook status.  Over the years, Facebook has become almost like a mini-journal to me, and I can chronicle my life by status updates ... and the song lyrics I've posted.

What's interesting, though, is that the song lyrics very rarely have any sort of depth of meaning in my life.  There are exceptions, of course ...

From Alanis Morissette's "Uninvited":
Must be strangely exciting
To watch the stoic squirm
Must be somewhat heartening
To watch shepherd need shepherd

Or, from Phish's "Fee":
You're racing with the wind
You're flirting with death
So have a cup of coffee 
And catch your breath

Most often, though, it's because I'm touched by the beauty of lyrics ("And the four right chords can make me cry"--Third Eye Blind, "After it rains, there's a rainbow and all of the colors are black/It's not that the colors aren't there; it's just imagination we lack"--Simon and Garfunkel, and so on) or else because I'm totally laughing at myself.

Earlier in the week, for example, I was on my way to the beach and found myself singing along with "Hey Jealousy" by the Gin Blossoms.
Tell me, do you think it'd be all right
If I could just crash here tonight
You can see I'm in no shape for driving,
And anyway I've got no place to go.

Now, I happened to be driving along the coast when this loud, windows-down singing transpired ... and Ocean Boulevard was very crowded.  Let's just say that I was the source of laughter for an awful lot of people ;-).  

So I posted the lyrics as my status update, and a lot of my friends were worried about me.  I supposed I could have just put, "I'm stuck in traffic at the beach, and people are laughing at my singing", but to me, posting the lyrics has ensured that I'll never forget the memory.

I'm weird ;-)

But anyway, there really is a point to this ...

On my way to work yesterday, U2's "Beautiful Day" came on, and I was touched by the line "After the flood all the colors came out" as it was capturing almost exactly what I was feeling.

I wasn't referring to the Tropical Storm Irene situation or to anything other than simply this:

No matter what happens, however awful things get, they do end eventually and get better.  Sometimes it takes a long time, but it will happen.  

I was seeing metaphorical colors everywhere yesterday, and they're still shining brightly today (although I have the day off ... four day Labor Day weekend, woohoo :-))

I can't get into details, but suffice it to say that last year was absolutely the low point of my teaching career.  It was a nightmare that had me contemplating leaving the profession altogether (and it had nothing to do with the kids ... the kids were wonderful).

I am back at the grade level that I love working with people who are drama-free and student-focused.  Oh, and of course the kids are wonderful :-).  But seriously, taking adult drama and chaos out of the equation has totally rejuvenated my passion for teaching, and I am incredibly, unspeakably happy :-)

And of course it served as a gentle reminder that this is true in all facets of my life ... I just need to have patience :-)

To celebrate my professional happiness and renewed belief in waiting patiently for other aspects of my life to fall into place (believing that they will, because if whatever higher power you believe in could deliver me from the freaking nightmare that work was last year, anything is possible ...), I got a haircut :-)

Also, I created classroom blogs, which you can look at here and here if you're interested.  I'm pretty excited about it :-)

Are Minorities Discouraged from Taking Upper-Level Classes?: The Elephant in the Room

As a public school teacher for sixteen years, I sometimes feel like I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen Standards come and go (and despite the brou...