My friend posted this poem on Facebook last night and it’s been on my mind all day. I thought of it on the elliptical trainer. I thought of it while lifting weights. I thought of it in the jacuzzi, and I even thought about it while I was having a conversation at lunch. Writing like this stays with me, follows me around, distracts me and fills me up. The poem is called ABC, and a writer for Slate Magazine talks about how he’s had it taped above his desk for a long time. (Can you imagine someone pasting your writing above their desk because it was that great?)
It’s past 4 pm on a Sunday and the teacher-guilt is creeping in. I haven’t graded those feature articles for my Journalism class yet. There’s still a load of laundry to do. Oh yeah, I was going to make chicken soup from scratch today! Yet I have no desire to do any of these things. I want to read more poetry and try to write some of my own. I want to look at the fire and think about nothing. I want someone to put my writing above their desk…
I’ll never find out now
What A. thought of me.
If B. ever forgave me in the end.
Why C. pretended everything was fine.
What part D. played in E.’s silence.
What F. had been expecting, if anything.
Why G. forgot when she knew perfectly well.
What H. had to hide.
What I. wanted to add.
If my being around
to J. and K. and the rest of the alphabet.
by Wislawa Szymborska, 1923-2012
I don’t work on Saturdays. It’s a “me day” — no grading, planning, or school-work of any kind. It really helps my sanity to have one day of the week that doesn’t involve any stressful expectations. I go to the gym, see friends, read, make fires, play golf (if it isn’t winter!) — anything fun and/or relaxing.
And I go out to a late lunch. That’s the best part of a “me day” — food at one of the awesome local establishments that I don’t have to cook or clean up after. Reading the NY Times, lazy conversations, and laughter are easy requirements of the late lunch. After that — no rules. Today’s delight was a Salmon Patty with fresh field greens salad. Take a look! It’s a slice o’ my Saturday…
My high school students often complain that everything we read is depressing. I have my stock answer about life being a series of ups and downs and how it is important to see how people endure their struggles. I even attempt to convince them that it is actually much more interesting to read about hardship than la-la constant happiness. Then I usually point out a few vapid “happy ending” books to seal the deal.
I read a novel over February vacation that had no amount of happy in it, but it was the best book I’ve picked up in a long time. Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward, is a painful, raw, and sad book, but the writing changed my life. I think about the characters (and the dog, China) every day — as if I knew them and lost them. I miss these people and their terrible lives. I want to find out how they are doing. I want to help them. I need to know what became of the dog.
It’s hard to read anything new now because nothing lives up to this book. I sobbed at the end, wracked by all the tragedy and sorry that it was over. This book made me want to write. So I do.
Well, I think it’s time to take on the SOL Challenge once again, especially because today is our first “Snow Day” all year. That’s a new one for this New England teacher — no snow days until March!
We had a freak snowstorm last Halloween which knocked out power for over a week in some local areas. My school was closed and we ended up having an unexpected week off in the fall. It actually worked out well — everyone came back refreshed and happy. However, we were told that all of our snow days were used up then and if we got any snow days this year, they would hack away at our April break.
So… I guess I won’t be too happy about this come April, but for now I’m ecstatic! Slept for two extra hours this morning and now it’s time to go out and play. Living in the now, I guess!
It’s my last official day to slice and I have to say, I will miss it. Thanks to all of you who responded, and thanks to all of you who wrote a daily slice. I really looked forward to reading your pieces of writing, and I appreciate the efforts of those who bothered to read what I wrote. It’s interesting to me — there were people who responded almost every day and there were people I wrote to many times and never heard back from. It’s all good… .
Without the deadline, I don’t know how much I will push myself to blog now, even though I do write almost every day in my journal. This has been a great way to communicate with my family and friends (Thanks for responding, I love you!) and for making new friends whom I’ve never actually “met” in person. (I wonder what y’all look like!)
Thanks to the “Two Writing Teachers” for making this wonderful site happen. YOU ROCK!
Peace out… T-Dawg
I love the SOLC — it’s made me be a writer every day… and I’m sorry it’s ending, but I won’t miss the days like today when I have nothing to say because I am completely fried and I just want to lay on the couch and watch the bad, bad season of American Idol! Ugh.
Tuesdays are the most tiresome day of the week for me. If I had my way, Tuesday would not be a allowed! I’m soooooo tired, my friends. I promise to try to go out with a bang tomorrow…
It’s all over the news — nine high school students in a sleepy little college town (near the sleepy little college town I work in) have been indicted on criminal charges for their bullying of another student who ended up killing herself to get away from it all. How weird to have it pop up my Yahoo mail — and Diane Sawyer just covered the story on National news. Wow. This is uncomfortably close…
…and sad for everyone involved. But I’m not sorry they’ve been apprehended. I was bullied in junior high, and I have not forgotten how awful it felt. It never goes away, and I can still remember the exact names of the boys who hassled me for ridiculous reasons. It was always stupid and insipid, often an attack on some physical characteristic a kid had no control over.
The self-titled “Mean Girls” (and boys) thought they could get away with it and now they’re going to court. I feel sick inside, remembering the shame I felt when those 8th grade boys humiliated me.
I want the mean kids to pay.
March in New England is not all fun and games. It’s brown, cold, muddy, and not the most beautiful time of year by any means. However, there is one activity that cheers us up and that’s the Sugar Shacks. For eight weekends, the maples are tapped and the shacks are serving up pancakes, waffles, French toast, bacon, and sausage — all drenched in fresh maple syrup. It’s a steamy, sticky extravaganza that brings out all ages and walks of life — and it’s definitely a rite of passage in these parts on an end of March weekend.
We drove way out into the country to get to the Red Bucket in Worthington this morning. Miles of creeks, cows, and corn-stalks lined the roads. The Ipod cranked out Grateful Dead tunes, and the sun kept trying to come out and push the temp into the 40s. It was as beautiful as things can get this time of year, and even though I don’t have a sweet tooth, I enjoyed my slurpy-syrupy plate of French toast and sausage. After we finished eating, the owner stopped by our table and told us the whole history of the place — a story she seemed to enjoy telling even though she’s probably recited it many, many times.
Outside the air was smokey and cold, and I knew I’d need an extra long walk with the dog to walk off the damage. T’was a very sweet Sunday, indeed…
It seems like a lot of people are having trouble sleeping lately — myself included. I’ve heard stories of insomnia, waking up every hour, not being able to fall asleep, and a constant feeling of tiredness throughout the day. My scenario is the “waking up every hour” one. For some reason my head likes to really focus on lesson planning around 4:30 in the morning. Ugh! The recent time change hasn’t helped this situation.
Today, however, I hit the couch to watch a little March Madness, pulled the blanket up around my neck, and the next thing I knew, it was two hours later. The Nap — what a delicious thing! I finally found that deep, REM sleep that is so conducive to crazy dreams and mental peace. Nothing could touch this light sleeper today. Not the phone. Not the roaring crowd. And not the clicking dog nails on the wood floor. I feel light-headed, rested, and strangely nourished. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…
Five years ago I was prone in a hospital bed for six days, in traction on a morphine drip. When my senses started to return to me, I realized what I missed. It wasn’t memories of a day at Disneyland or a swim in the Caribbean. It was the mundane.
I missed being able to walk. To make choices about what I would eat. To be able to sleep through a night without constant noise and interruptions. A room to myself. An open window. Freedom. Choice. The mundane.
I missed days like today, where nothing really happens. No highs. No lows. Just being. And I remember thinking that I needed to be more appreciative of times like this: No drama. No ecstasy. Just a quiet ride home to a peaceful life. The use of my legs. A pain- free existence. A dog to pet. Some shrimp to saute. A welcoming, easy, life.