Current/Recent Reading List

26 May 2008

Publications Hell

Let's begin with a quick round-up of the publication for which I bear responsibility, that darned yearbook I've been whining about all year. Of all the times of the year I thought I wouldn't struggle with, the spring would have been my choice. But our books came in about 10 days ago, and suffice to say I was not at all prepared for what distributing 900 yearbooks would be like. Literally, I could have (and if it was a regular business, would have) spent the entirety of each day last week on nothing but yearbook matters. I could easily have sold thirty more, as well, if there had been any left.

What killed me was, in the midst of trying to prepare and teach academic classes, being bombarded by phone calls, kids at the door, parent e-mails, teachers and teacher's aides regarding YEARBOOKS! YA GOT ANY YEARBOOKS LEFT? ONE OF MY KIDS ALREADY HAS A BOOK, BUT CAN I BUY ONE EACH FOR MY OTHER 5 KIDS? I KNOW I PAID FOR A BOOK, BUT I'M NOT ON THE LIST (yeah, right)! MY FORMER NEIGHBOR ORDERED A YEARBOOK BUT SHE MOVED TO DENMARK - CAN I SEND IT TO HER?


I also had to call a "come to Jesus meeting" with the staff because of bad feelings brewing between class members over who was yelling at whom, and who was bossing whom during book distribution, and who will be bossing whom next year, and the editors for next already have a big head and are going to treat us like slaves, and blah, blah, blah. My message to everyone was real simple: they don't pay me nearly enough to deal with constantly unhappy people who are at each other's throats all year; get it out in the open now and work it out, and tell me when you're done (and happy again). So, they did, and I emerged from the room to declare "peace in our time." And yes, that analogy is apt because I'm sure the length of my success will be about the same as old Mr. Chamberlain's (we are talking about teenage girls, after all).


I will nonetheless take my publication issues, warts and all, over what happened to the newspaper advisor last week. Now, she has been doing this for a long time, and is VERY SERIOUS about journalism, and very prickly about complaints regarding her paper. Having said that, she has been really nice to me, and in my opinion the paper has generally seemed o.k. - not too controversial or too insipid, decent enough if not extrememly well-written. However...

Somehow one of her kids decided, in a teacher profile piece printed in the last edition, to include both pro and CON opinions of a civics teacher, as related by some of her students. These were quoted, verbatim, from a survey form. And, some of the quotes were of this variety: "She's too boring, gives us pointless homework, and is more interested in being a coach than a teacher." OH... MY...!

Well, the teacher hit the roof and was so upset she had to go home for the day, an immediate apology is now being printed in what is supposed to the final senior-dedicated edition of the year, parents of the quoted kids are outraged, and the rest of us are scratching our heads and wondering how in the heck-fire those quotes ever saw the light of day, how they got past the editors, and especially how they got by the advisor and/or the principal if he saw it. What - teacher defamation in the name of balanced reporting? I think the advisor gets to keep the job, and since that paper is her baby, I hope so. But like I said, oh my.

Yeah, I'll take MY publication issues anyday.

18 May 2008

Careful Where You Step

Around these parts, you know summer is just around the corner when you spot visitors like this fellow in your backyard (he/she was about 4 ft. long):

In case you're worried, we just let him go on his merry way.

12 May 2008

A Summer of Torturous Prose

Well, I'm in the middle of a five games in six nights t-ball stretch (seriously, is this the major leagues?), so that explains the stony silence of the blog lately. This is, however, the last week of spring season, which is fortunate for the health of the adults in the house.

Just a little something to preview what my summer at the writer's project institute will be like. You see, when you throw together a group of highly intelligent people who love to read, who teach reading and writing, and who therefore secretly, or otherwise, harbor pretensions of making a best-seller list one day, you can pretty much assume the worst. In a situation like this, where these people will be doing a lot of writing for others to read, one can readily anticipate encounters with the "trying too hard" syndrome.

Whatever it says about me, I am absolutely resolved to avoid purple prose and forced metaphors throughout this process, even at the cost of being boring. However, as you check out the following three excerpts (all from different people) culled from a message thread on our group's website, you tell me if others share my attitude. The topic, btw, is what it means to be in the "writing state of mind":

"When I do experience the "writing frame of mind" while I am at my computer or when I have pen in hand, it is like steping into a wave and allowing the cool, calm watering words to seep onto the page. It is a comforting feeling, an excitement that I am rediscovering. I am allowing myself to write without the 'full outline.' I have a quiet expectation, but I am genuinely surprised when the ebb of this tide recedes and I examine what is left on the shore before me."

"When I consider my writing "good," the frame of mind occurs naturally because my body is possessed. There is a writing ghost who inhabits my spirit."

"When I'm in the writing frame of mind it’s as if my brain itches. There is nothing I can do about it, I can't scratch fast enough, deep enough, long enough. In fact, the more I scratch, the more I itch. The words pour out like a salve, and the passion that inspired it is calmed as the thoughts pour out on the page."

Well, time for me and my writing ghost to hit the sack. See ya.