Reclaiming My Self

Shortly before I moved to Sacramento, my dad gave me brand-new cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, which I wore often at home while working in the pasture or when riding my horse.
 
When I moved to Sacramento, I kept wearing them, because they were a part of me, and I liked them. But I was pretty mercilessly made fun of for the first half of 10th grade, and by January I’d stopped wearing the boots or the hat.  I had also realized by then that I wasn’t going to be returning to Napa no matter how much I wanted to, and I consciously “released” the trappings of what I had been forced to consider my “old” life and got rid of the boots and hate entirely. 
I’ve never owned another pair of cowboy boots, or a hat, even though I grew up wearing them and used to love them. 
 
Now I want some cowboy boots. I have ZERO need for them, and I’m not even sure I’d wear them often, or I’d go out and buy them. But I want them.  I miss the feel of them when walking, either on a street or in a field.  
I’ve been doing this with music, too.  Sometime in the mid-80s I stopped listening to the 70s-era rock and pop music I’d grown up with, because it wasn’t “cool” in the circle of friends I was hanging out with.  But now, at 46, I’ve been listening to a lot of Linda Ronstadt and Neil Diamond, Dolly Parton, Journey, King Crimson, the Mamas and the Papas… the music I remember from childhood.  Of course I’m also still listening to 80s New Wave, and even Kitaro and my beloved Scottish folk music, but I’ve been spending a lot more time with the old stuff.
The older I get, the less I care what people think about what I listen to, or wear, or like.
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Just checking in…

So the open call for questions didn’t work.  Small audiance, and I’m not really that interesting, anyway. So okay.

I finished the online Unit Design course I’ve been working on.  It required a lot of reading and prep, and then writing a four-week unit on Hamlet.  To begin with, I read Ben Crystal’s excellent Springboard Shakespeare: Hamlet and Shakespeare on Toast for ideas on how to get my teen students to realize Shakespeare wasn’t all high-brow, and the latter book was especially useful, having within it a lot of myth-busting stories and information.

I also refreshed my memory on designing units from my teacher education, by rereading my Understanding by Design textbook, some articles from the Globe Theatre Foundation on teaching Shakespeare via performance, and did a quick review of the California Common Core State Standards, marking which standards I could engage through teaching Hamlet.

I got an A on my unit design.  Well, technically I got 100/100; there aren’t any letter grades attached, but still.  That’s an A in my book.  Which gives me the units I needed to move over on the pay scale, so I’ll make more money next year, which is nice.

On the writing front, Seeking Home, book 1 of the Remembrance War, is still out to a couple of agents and one small press publisher I thought had already rejected it, but apparently hadn’t.  We’ll see how that all shakes out. In the meantime I’m working on a new project, which I’ve talked about a bit here, but which has changed in some pretty large ways since I first started talking about it.

I’m also working on an RPG world based on my WIP for a homebrew Traveler game I plan to run for wife and friends.  The story of the WIP will run in the background, the game characters will interact with it as they wish, but the novel will not be taking the game into account; the novel is already plotted.  No way am I changing that before the zeroth draft is done.

I’ve got a few other projects in various states of planning, including an epic fantasy and a one-shot Gaiman-esque fantasy that will stretch my abilities a fair bit.

Work is work.

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A little experiment: Open Questions

Okay, so… I’m no Scalzi, but I thought maybe I’d try to do a reader question period.  I don’t have a ton of readers, but if you have any questions about my writing, or (more entertaining, most likely) teaching, or what-have-you, feel free to ask in the comments.  I’ll answer in a post or three.

Or none?  That’s possible, too.  We’ll see what happens!

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Things I’m tired of: Teacher Edition

As an educator, I am really tired of both conservatives and liberals who try to tell me how to do my job, or who try to tell me what’s wrong in our schools.
 
Get your credential, spend a few years in the classroom, then you can tell me what’s going wrong. Until then, you’re just talking out your ass.
 
I’m also tired of people who want to generalize an entire profession based on one or two examples of their own past. It doesn’t work like that, Sparky. I’m sure Mr. Mosier was horrible to you, but that doesn’t mean all teachers are horrible. Stop assuming all teachers are like the worst examples you ever knew.
 
If you’ve never actually attended a public school, please just shut the hell up. You’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re not entitled to make me listen to it.
 
Finally, if you’re going to seriously try to tell me my job is “indoctrinating” kids in whatever direction you think is happening? Please, just save me the trouble and punch yourself in the face.
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10 (mean) Things I Wish I Could Say In Essay Comments Today

Dear Students:

The following are the things I WISH I could say on your essays, but I can’t, because they are 1)mean and 2) not helpful.

  1. How is it that you’ve gotten through 11 years of education and you still can’t write a coherent sentence?
  2. You’re a senior.  Shouldn’t you have figured out commas by now?
  3. How can you be so arrogant when you make so many elementary errors?
  4. What is WRONG with you? What part of you thought that was okay to say in an essay for school?
  5. I feel like I could understand this sentence if I was drunk, but as I’m not, it makes no sense at all.
  6. When your professor next year asks who your English teacher was, please lie.
  7. Why do you hate me?
  8. I used to believe that most students were basically decent people.  Your story has convinced me I was wrong.
  9. You just crossed one of the “Things nobody has ever seen a student claim before” off my list.  That’s not a good thing.
  10. Your argument reads like a kindergarten fight.
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How’s Michael Doing? Some Good, Some Bad.

I had kind of a meltdown last night.  More on that later, but first, let’s do the categories…

Work

Work is work.  I just came back from two weeks off for the Winter Holiday Break, and yet I feel like I didn’t get any time off.  Kids are both delightful and irritating; some of them are amazing and some of them make me want to quit.  So it goes.

I’m taking an online course to revise my Hamlet unit, which will mean that next year I’ll make more money, but that’s about it on the job front.

 

Home

In early November we put our house up for sale.  We got an offer in about a week, and it was a good one, so we took it.  We also bought a house, and moved in early December.

We’re finally settled in, and I still sometimes look around and realize “This is my house.”  It’s a nicer place than the old one (which was a great house), and best of all we have a pool.  So summer will be freaking amazing, but winter is kind of a drag right now, because we can’t really use the yard at all.

I’ve also got a balcony off my bedroom, which is going to be a really nice thing in spring and summer.

Rewrite

What began as a restructuring of the first few chapters is turning into a major rewrite.  Some plot elements have been thrown right out, and others have morphed into unfamiliar shapes.  But I think it will be a stronger book when I’m done.  There’s an agent waiting for the final version; I’m trying to get it ready by the end of this month, but I’m not sure it will work out.  We’ll see.

Self

Here’s where that meltdown comes in.  Sometimes, I feel like I get so lost in my job, and my family, that I start to lose myself.  And when that happens, it adds to my stress levels.

Here’s the problem with that: I have a health issue that, while not dangerous, is exacerbated by stress.  And here I am with a stressful job, and a willful ten year old, and I’m feeling pretty much highly stressed out most of the time.  I’m very bad about getting what I need, so I tend to lose myself in my various roles, and find I have no time for writing, or doing things I love, unless I end up with the time, but in a messed-up mindspace that doesn’t allow me much creativity.

I’m working on it, but it’s an ongoing process.

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Rewrite, Work, Home

Rewrite

Work proceeds.  I was done with chapter one’s rewrite, but then something occurred to me and I had to add a scene or two, so I’m doing that.  It’s going to radically change the end of this chapter and the beginning of the new one, but I think it will go a long way to making the book better.

Work

Teaching is a weird profession.  I love the time with students but I hate the grading.  I hate the endless stack of papers, and I hate the tendency of so many of my students to listen to me, but do precisely the opposite of what I am trying to teach them to do.

Home

My house is a stack of boxes.  Hopefully we sign and get the keys to the new house Wednesday, then move some carloads of small stuff over, then the movers come and help us move the rest on Saturday 12/9.  Our goal is to be completely out of the house and the house cleaned for the new owners on 12/10, but we’ll see.  We technically have until 12/20, but we’d rather not take that long, for their sakes as well as our own.

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