Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Where Have I Been?

Let's see. It is now the 19th day of April, and I haven't sliced or blogged since March 31. I have a million excuses about being too busy when in reality, I just haven't made the time. 

What I have made time for is binge watching shows on Amazon Prime and rereading the Harry Potter series in anticipation of my trip to the Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter this summer.

1. Two seasons of Catastrophe and am eagerly awaiting the release of season three next week
2. The Man in the High Castle - still in the middle of season two
3. First three books in the series and just started Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

These shows are entertaining and thought provoking, and the books are reawakening my love of H.P.; however, these time-sucks have really put a damper on my writing. In truth, when I was writing every day, it left very little time for anything else. In another truth, I have sat down several times and stared hopelessly at the blank screen finally shutting it in frustration. And in even more truth, I feel like I lost a little of my writing magic. It must be hiding with my workout magic!

So, due to the loving (and somewhat demanding) requests of my youngest sister, here I am once again bending my fingers and warming up my writing muscles. 

Maybe the real answer is to continue writing every day. At least a little. If not on this blog, then in my writer's notebook so that I may continue to collect seeds for stories and longer pieces.

Just as soon as I finish The Man in the High Castle.

Friday, March 31, 2017

31 of 31: Goodbye & Hello

Today is a day of GOODBYES.
Goodbye to daily slicing. Thank you for teaching me so much about myself as a writer and for working my writing muscles and giving me biceps like Popeye.
Goodbye to my student teacher. Thank you for teaching me as well as my students.
Goodbye to March. I won't miss the rain and gray days.

But where there are goodbyes, there are also HELLOS.
Hello to blogging on a weekly basis rather than daily. I enjoyed the interaction and feedback far more than I thought possible.
Hello again to my students, whom I've missed teaching more than I thought possible.
Hello to April and sandals and cropped pants!

Thank you especially to the Two Writing Teachers for hosting this amazing opportunity for teachers and students.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

30 of 31: Today Was a Strange Day

Today was a strange day. Thunder peppered my morning commute providing a lovely soundtrack for my drive along with the hypnotic droning of my windshield wipers. Heavy gray clouds filled every one of my second floor classroom windows. By the time students arrived, the rain had tapered off, but the morning was still dark.

By first lunch, the sun poked his lazy head out from behind those clouds and seemed to demand our attention. I could finally turn off one of my classroom lights and still have enough natural light and overhead light for students to work comfortably.

By third lunch, tree branches were whipping and the sun retreated behind another barrage of spring storm clouds. Slanted rain captivated my students attention as they stood before the windows watching sheets of rain slap against the roof. Quietly they stood, just observing in wonder how they had been lucky enough to go outside for recess and relishing the fact that the eighth graders would not.

I lost track of the weather during my planning period. Probably because I was staring at my computer screen the entire time trying to catch up on emails, to make Google classroom updates, to read my students' slices and encourage them to stick with it for two more days, and to update students' grades in the online gradebook. The term ends tomorrow.

After school, I walked into my book club meeting with my rain jacket on and walked out with it tucked under my arm squinting and shading my eyes from the sun with my hand. Yep. It was that kind of day.

The kind that takes you on the ups and downs of spring storm. Teasing you one minute with the sun only to send you into a stupor with the rain the next minute.

When I pulled into my driveway, I noticed the lime green weeds that sprouted from the cracks of my driveway and wondered if they had just come up to say hello sometime today. I marveled at my bright technicolor lawn that would need its first mowing very soon if the rain keeps up. The vivid colors after the winter months never fail to amaze me.

I love spring with its unpredictable surprises.

Today was a strange day, but at least tomorrow's Friday!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

29 of 31: A Couple of Lists

I was inspired to compose this list based on one of my 7th graders slices listing things she loved and things she hated. When I read it, I had this nagging feeling that I had heard such a list before. It wasn't until I was on my way home that I remembered that Eric Stoltz starred as Rocky in the movie Mask along with Cher, who played his mother, in 1985. If you have never seen this movie, it is definitely worth watching.

These are the things I love:
Sitting at the bar of a sushi restaurant marveling at the skill of a sushi chef
Someone's face lighting up when they see me
Watching a student find that just right book for the very first time
Sitting around a campfire under the stars and surrounded by woods and gurgling water
Books, books, books
Coffee with Italian sweet cream
Fat flakes of snow swirling around during a snowstorm
My family and my friends
Holding a small baby and falling asleep
And the rain falling on my head

These are things I think are a drag:
(to the best of my memory, those were Rocky's words in the movie)
Assigning grades to children's writing and thinking
Unnecessary meetings
High-stakes standardized testing
Yard work, especially when four sweetgum trees are involved
No longer being able to sleep past 8am on the weekends
Overhead fluorescent lighting
And the rain falling on my head

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

28 of 31: Two Thumbs Up

Are you ever too old to enjoy a Disney movie? 

The unequivocal answer to that question is absolutely not!

My mom, my older sister, her daughter, her daughter's daughter, my baby sister and I made our way into the IMAX theater. Our fingers immediately found the appropriate buttons reclining our seats while raising the footrests. These chairs even had heat. 

Incessant giggles ensued as my technology-challenged mother tried repeatedly to take a picture of her girls as we continued to hear the loud click of her cell phone camera. The flash, however, was noticeably absent. Thus saving us the misery of being momentarily blinded by a bright white light...along with the rest of the movie goers in our row. Obviously a dark movie theater is not ideal for popping pictures. With fierce determination, she continued to click at least seven or eight shots, but to no avail. Every time we heard the all too familiar sound of a camera's shutter closing, we knew she'd only be rewarded with a very dark and fuzzy screen.  

Finally, the movie started and we practically had to demand she return her phone to her purse before the people in the row behind us complained about the crazy lady trying to take pictures in a dark movie theater. We promised her we'd take a selfie in the lobby afterwards.

As the scene opened on a sleepy little village in France, I almost felt a bit dizzy as if my eyes couldn't process all the images spinning about on the enormous screen. Luckily, I grew accustomed to the sheer magnitude of the IMAX and my stomach settled.

Beauty and the Beast didn't take me back to my childhood because I wasn't a child when I first viewed the animated Disney classic. But that mattered not since it did captivate my imagination and heart with its music and stunning effects. As if on cue, we all shed a tear when (spoiler alert...sort of) Beast died even though we knew that true love would bring him back to life in his human form just a moment after. There is something magical about being swept away into a fairytale. Especially a fairytale where the princess rescues the prince!  

From her love of books to her emphatic rejections of Gaston, I just cannot help but love Belle. It didn't hurt that she was played by Hermione, I mean Emma Watson, to boot! 

I will be forever grateful that I was able to share this evening with the strong, beautiful, smart, and caring women of my family four generations strong. Even if we never did get around to taking that selfie!

I may not be Siskel or Ebert, but I'd definitely give it two thumbs up.

Monday, March 27, 2017

27 of 31: Fun in the Rearview Mirror

Today was the first day back from spring break. Dark clouds poured rain all day long in a deluge that bemoaned the return of blinding fluorescent lights and tardy bells. My seventh graders were rather subdued and hardly even protested the writing pretest they completed after they shared a bit about their own spring breaks.

With the last bell, students quickly packed up their belongings and slammed locker doors. Many seemed just as exhausted as me, and I found myself longing to pack my bags, too. But alas, the dreaded Monday afternoon faculty meeting delayed my departure.

Let's just say that this was a frustrating meeting and the gripes and negativity were as ubiquitous as the gray clouds that filled the sky.

Finally, forty-five minutes later sweet relief. I headed to my car mentally exhausted and chiding myself for complaining to my colleagues. I vowed to return tomorrow with a better attitude.

So I drove home. I was almost there, two streets away in fact, when I looked into my rearview mirror. And there he was. His ball cap was precariously perched on his head and I noticed his strawberry blond beard stretched from ear to ear, but was noticeably absent above his lip. He was young. Maybe a high schooler or college freshman based on what looked like a parking permit dangling from his rear view mirror.

There was nothing extraordinary about his looks, but what was exceptionally captivating was his singing and dancing. Though he was alone in his car, it was as if he was performing live on stage to thousands of adoring fans. His head moved to a rhythm I could almost feel and he sang the words with unabashed passion. Bobbleheads would need neck braces if forced to keep up with this young man's swiveling neck, ducking chin, and shoulder shrugs. It didn't take long for my own smile to span from ear to ear. Quickly, my eyes darted back and forth between the road ahead and my rearview mirror not wanting to miss a second. I couldn't get enough of this kid, and he obviously couldn't get enough of whatever song thumped through his speakers and filled his car with fun. When he signaled with his blinker, strutting and jutting his head, I sadly continued straight up the hill and watched him disappear around the corner.

I was humbly reminded that one can find joy in anything if they take the time to stop and look for it...even in a faculty meeting or your own rearview mirror.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

26 of 31: Today is my sister's birthday

Today is my little sister's birthday, so I wanted to write a little something for her since we live several states apart and I wasn't able to wish her happy birthday in person.

J - Just the right balance of savvy and strength
E - Enough determination to net her dreams and capture a career
N - Nursing called to her after motherhood and marriage
N - Never does she let the doubt that creeps permanently cast a shadow over her 
I - Immaculate in her housekeeping (at least before nursing school) and 
     judgmental of mine
F - Forever my best friend and not just my little sister
E - Especially for her chattiness on the phone and her ability to see things I don't
R - Rebel though she was, wise as she is, I wish her the happiest of birthdays 

With love from Biz