assignments & things

I assigned my students a poem to read for homework. I didn’t choose the poem directly–I’m a substitute right now. It was one of the poems left by the teacher.

Adrian Mitchell’s “Norman Morrison.”

The suggestion was to teach it as a reason people write poems about true events, which I fully intended to do. But, then I got in my own way.

Before I tell the story of what happened, I have to put a disclaimer on this. I’m politically a liberal. But not the kind of common liberal that you find everywhere–you know the one that believes in gay marriage, is against the death penalty, and overall just thinks things should be “fair.” Socially liberal. All of which I am. The bigger problem is that I am economically liberal as well–which almost every liberal I know is not. I DO think I should pay for other people’s health care. I DO think I should pay for other people’s social security. Whatever the reason you can’t do this for yourself is not my place to judge, and I think we’re supposed to share.

So a couple of weeks I was talking with a friend and the first thing he said about my subbing job was “just another place for you to spread your socialism.” And, I laughed, but it’s so very true.

When I taught math, I taught about health care. We analyzed budgets and figured out how it would be possible to keep public hospitals open, insure more people, and provide preventative care.

When I taught American Literature, oh my goodness. It was a free for all.

Social Justice? Why would you even give me that class?

But for some reason, I thought I could keep it out of a class if it was not my intention to do it.

Which brings me back to the story about Norman Morrison. After my students read the poem, I asked them three questions:

  1. What did Morrison do?
  2. Why did he do it?
  3. Hero or Fool?

We had a pretty engaging discussion until it turned to why not choose a different form of protest (which is really insight about the next generation for another time). So, I said, well, why would lighting one’s self on fire be the perfect protest for this particular war.

Blank stares.

Does anyone know what napalm is?

Blank stares.

So they had an assignment tonight. One was to look up napalm. The second was to look up Robert McNamara.

And presto! Without even thinking about it—lesson plan gone. And political feelings right back into the forefront.

I think I’m kinda hopeless.

giving thanks.

Thank you for inspiring me to do this, for teaching me more than I could teach you, and for routinely impressing me.

Thank you for listening to me talk about my day every single day, for threatening to sign me up for—solely because it gives me something to laugh about, and for loving me as I am.

Thank you for a lifetime of good advice, for never judging and teaching me not to judge, and for making me a strong person.

Thank you for being my first best friend, for laughing at everything I do, and for being an amazing man, brother and role model.

Thank you for loving my brother, for always being so thoughtful, and for being the sister I always needed.

Thank you for inspiring me to follow my dreams, for always saying that you love me, and for being the kindest person I’ve ever known.

Thank you for letting me call you by a name that is not yours, for loving baseball more than I do, and for being the baby of the family—even though I know you’re 18.

Thank you for being an amazing partner and friend, for the drives home after weddings, and for ten years of really odd email conversations.

Thank you for leaving to find yourself, for letting me know when you did, and for returning me to myself.

Thank you for almost-seven years of friendship, for having the other piece of my soul, and for letting me be difficult.

Thank you for our coffee dates, for letting me watch your son grow up, and for being one of the most amazing women I’ve ever known.

Thank you for becoming my friend when I was not so happy with myself, for always telling me to “relax,” and for the Friday night walks under the eerie red sky.

Thank you for the never-ending saga of your neighbor, for making me eat dessert, and for never taking me seriously enough.

Thank you for the chance to start again, for wiping the slate clean, and for the direction I somehow lost along the way.

Thank you for always saying thank you, for listening to my socialist thoughts, and for showing me that this isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Thank you for giving me work that allows me to be myself, for an endless stream of ideas and an even more endless stream of coffee.

Thank you for limitless opportunity, for dreams as high as the moon, and for finally learning that nothing is that serious.

Thank you for letting me find the reaches and limitations of my mind, body and soul, of letting me know that it’s okay to be alone, and for the time, space and energy to do this.

Thank you for wiping away all worry, for letting me hear the creation of art, and for saving a piece of the Sun for me.

Thank you for a 14-year anniversary that has shaped the very essence of who I am, for showing me what it means to be alive, and for allowing me to build upon scars to be thankful.

what I miss the most…

is the Question of the Week. They always took me a whole week to answer. Haunted my dreams, consumed my thoughts as I performed my normal daily activities, and all in all just drove me crazy.  Then, there would be a moment of inspiration, and I would be ready to share the answer the following week. And to claim  my new question.

What is the most important thing?

That was the question from May 1, and I found a half-written response. I think my answer would be different now. And that’s funny to me. But at the same time. I’m happy I found it because I think answering it again might be helpful.

shaking off the blogging cobwebs with…

… new goals.

I took an intermission from the first draft whose word count appears at the side of this blog to outline a new story idea. Well, the outline and character sketches followed a book I read about doing that exact thing so it turned out to be around forty pages. I guess I was a little disappointed in myself for not starting the rewrite on the first draft of my first story simultaneously, but I realized – a little – that I expect a whole lot from myself.

It turns out, though, that it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen. Now, I feel like I have a great distance from my first story. And, I’ve enrolled in an online class that specializes in mystery writing, which is the genre of the second story.

So, the new writing goals:

1. Write 5 pages a day of the third draft of the first story. (I did 3-a-day on the first draft, and it worked brilliantly. Since this draft is all about character revising, I think 5 is perfect.)

2. Complete the mystery writing course. (Yup, that simple. It’s already been great to have other writers read my outline and ask great questions about it! I’m supposed to end with a complete outline and the first couple of chapters written. It should coincide nicely my first goal and I should have some good working drafts by the end of January.)

I’m not entirely sure why I write these here. I’d like to say to keep my accountable, but really I hate disappointing myself to begin with so here or in my head–it’s all the same.