Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Reason for Art


Today I saw a box of bright markers lying on the hutch in our dining room. Immediately I felt a compulsion to draw something with them. I found some white paper and started drawing. It was simple. A large purple flower with a green stem, a river running past it towards the horizon with a field of red poppies on the other side, and the sun setting beneath a yellow, orange, pink, purple and blue sky. That’s the basic description. Nothing great, but I finished it, and left it on the table as I went off to do something else. Later I came back to that table and saw my sister drawing a picture with the same box of markers.

“You inspired me,” she said. She created two pictures.

Even later, I entered the same room and saw my two brothers painting pictures at the table, an old plastic plate being used as a paint palette and everything set on top of newspapers.

I guess I started a chain of creativity….

I didn’t have a purpose for creating art. I just felt like drawing something colorful and somehow inspired everyone else to do the same. My sister put all our pictures up on the refrigerator to brighten up our kitchen. It is quite effective in splashing the room with colors that we won’t see on this white, snowy day or for many months to come.

How about you? Have you done anything lately that has inspired someone else?


Monday, December 6, 2010

To the Squirrel in my Basement


Hello in there. How are you this fine winter morning?

You look lonely in that cage, hiding beneath that huge bushy tail with nothing to accompany you but a half-eaten, dried corn cob. (Perhaps, it's only another form of hibernation?) At least you aren't outside with the snow and ice and coldness. Well, until you're set free again.

It was the snow that chased you down our chimney, wasn't it? Or maybe you were frolicking along our roof and out of curiosity decided to peek into that tall brick thing up there.

It took a while for us to catch you, to leer you into this squirrel trap. I didn't like the idea of you starving in a dark forgotten corner among spiders and cockroaches and broken appliances and things we just didn't know what to do with.

So, here is a song to cheer you up...

Rock a bye baby in the treetops,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock...


***************

3 hours later:

Mom: The officer from Animal Control came to pick up the squirrel.
Me: What?! Why?!!!
Mom:(with some hesitation) Apparently, the squirrel hung itself. On the string attached to the corn cob. It got wrapped around the squirrel's head somehow.
Me: Noooooooo!!!!!

I'm really sad right now.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

All About Me: Things You Didn't Know and I Didn't Know I Would Say

Awesome thanks to Dan at Sanguine Musings for awarding me The Versatile Blogger! Mucho gracias, arigato, thank you, etc! (The only languages I know "thank you" in, I think).

Which compels me to share seven facts about myself (Even though Dan said I didn't have to). However, I am probably more interested than anyone to see what seven facts I choose. I have a feeling that randomness might possibly ensue...so here it goes.

1) I am living back in my parent's house with my 16 year old sister, my 14 year old brother, and my 4 year old brother. Just yesterday, I checked out an apartment an hour away, thinking that I might want to move sometime in the near future. But the sheer bleakness mixed with the gray, snowy day and the shady looking streets and huge strange houses made the warmth and life of my family's home more appealing than I had previously considered. I suddenly saw a picture of me in this small, barren, lonely place, and I didn't like it. Not to mention the scrawny, strange looking guy who came outside shirtless, only a pair of shorts on, and no shoes. Gave me the creeps.

2) My sister is my best friend. She is six years younger than me, but it's like we are on the same wave lengths. Plus, it's nice to have someone that I don't have to censor myself around. We pretty much say anything we want, and we don't take it personally. Not that we are always mean to each other or anything. We're just truthful. Yesterday, we were voting together for People's Choice Awards. Here's how the scene went:
We came to the "Web Celeb" category. Everything that follows, we said exactly simultaneously:
"Web Celeb?"
"What's that?"
"Woahhh."
"Hahahahaaahaha!!"

The fact that we even said "Woah" at the same time and did the same kind of laugh afterward was crazy funny. At least to me.

3)I sub for pre-school more than anything else so far. That's where I was today. Not too many people are psyched about filling in for the crazy (but cute) pre-schoolers who don't care about consequences and are liable to drive you up the wall on a good day. I'm their go-to person, I guess.

4)I just recently got a new job, but I haven't started yet. It's a data entry position at a doctor's office where I'm helping out a plastic surgeon. The day he interviewed me, he had seen 66 patients.

5) Apparently I move my head a lot when I sing. I just video recorded myself. It was worse than John Mayer on PBS! I told my sister, "I hope I don't move my head all the time like that." She said, "Yeahhh, it's sooo annoying." "What??!"

6) My two favorite TV shows right now are Dark Angel and How I Met Your Mother. I really need to stop watching so much tv. When I lived on my own, I never watched. Well, because I didn't have a TV! But now, it's a different story...

7)I won third place in the poetry contest at my college. At a recent interview for a job I didn't get, I used this as an example of an accomplishment I was proud of...perhaps I should have picked something else??? That interview was doomed anyway. It seriously felt like fate was intervening and making words that I didn't mean come out of my mouth. At the end, the interviewer asked where I wanted to be in 5 years, you know, career wise. I said a bunch of non-committal mumbo jumbo at becoming a manager! That is the last thing I want to do!! So why did I say it? Universe???

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Wrote a Song!


Yesterday, I wrote part of a poem, and suddenly I wondered what it would sound like if I put it to music. Then it hit me...I should write a song!

For a long time I had ignored my guitar hanging out in the corner of my room. I had gotten bored with it. I never felt like playing, and when I did play, I just wanted to stop.

I think I know why. All I ever do is play other peoples' songs. I never write my own. The other day, I had picked up my guitar and was flipping through my binder filled with songs and playing several here and there when I started thinking about the musicians who created them. I highly doubt any of them play mostly songs by other musicians. I'm willing to bet that they play mostly their own.

Instruments were made for playing songs, but in the beginning, when music was just getting started, when minstrels traveled from town to town, when cavemen sat around their fires, when David played his harp, before the era of pop music and cds and youtube and all that, people wrote and played their own stuff. It was an expression of themselves and their times, it was entertainment to cure the boredom and the blues and to give birth to creative sparks.

So yesterday I was frustrated that I hardly ever wrote poetry anymore and when I did write it, it felt forced, contrived. So I started writing one off the top of my head that had rhymes in it because I never write with rhymes. My poems usually are completely freestyle. Yet the thing is, by using rhymes, I used words that I never ordinarily would use, and suddenly meanings that I had never intended starting showing up, meanings that felt right and were much better than anything I could have planned. And then I picked up my guitar and put the words to music. If only I knew a cello player and a violinist, it would be amazing... I love songs with those two instruments in it, and they would definitely enhance this song.

Anyway, I've been having fun! I never pegged myself as a song writer, but I think I'm going to break out of the box and give it a try, even if I'm only writing songs for myself. Maybe that's the best reason to write them after all.

Monday, November 29, 2010

So kids,here's how I met your mother....


I am hopelessly obsessed with the TV show How I Met Your Mother. It comes on about four times a night, and I make sure to watch every episode. It's so funny! The first time I saw it I thought it was kind of dumb, but it's really not. After I saw a few more episodes, I was completely hooked.

The basic premise for the show is this guy, Ted Mosby, is telling his kids all about his life leading up to the time he met their mother. He has some awesome, hilarious friends, and in each episode funny things are bound to happen while Ted's romantic endeavors are peppered in between. So far Ted hasn't found the one yet. They are probably saving that event for the very, very last episode of all the four or five seasons (not sure which), so that means I'll probably be watching it forever (or maybe not at the rate I've been going).

Has anyone else out there seen or heard of this show? It's nominated for People's Choice Award, and I don't usually vote for stuff like that, but I can't not vote for this show.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Forgotten

Count the bumps
One – two – three
Braille across the arm

Silver Salamander,
hunger left alone,
you cry the unknown.

Probe the swamp,
brown, murky sludge
untapped memories
lay forgotten

heavy rocks deep in gritty sand
Trail tired fingers across the surface
Empty bubbles percolate,
answer your call.

Four – five – six

It would take strong chains
to haul forgotten fears
from churning depths,
raise the tide,

overflow everything but the source.
So it may seem—the waters are at fault.
They wash away to nothing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Winter Crush


Winter is approaching, and with it comes the question that I have begun to ask myself at this time each year: Who will it be this time? Every year, as I move on to different circumstances in life, I have come to see a pattern surfacing when it comes to guys, crushes, and attempts at relationships. Something of the sort always happens in the winter. My hormones seem to prefer those cold, dreary unending months to make a go at someone or to find a new obsession.

I’d like to say winter was the reason I finally gave in to “Steve”, the computer geek. I was in my junior year of high school, and he was a senior.

Steve was the classic computer nerd with a dark twist. He was scrawny with acne and stringy dark hair that always hung in his eyes, touching the rectangular glasses he wore. He wore dark clothes, usually a black t-shirt two sizes too big, and baggy black pants, also two sizes too big, that he was always pulling up. And he always walked slightly bent over, in this shuffling sort of trudge.

Steve was pretty popular in his class. He was a year ahead of me, and most of his class thought he was pretty cool. Or maybe his class was just friendlier than mine. I had very few friends with my own class, and usually hung mostly with people younger or older than me.

Everyday at lunch, I sat at a table with a group of seniors, mostly because my friend Ashley sat there. Steve almost always sat directly in front of me, and was always making jokes, laughing about stuff, talking about computers or the girlfriend he bought a $200 ring for. I couldn’t believe it. Just sitting across from him and having to look at his acne-marked face and dirty hair was unpleasant. A girlfriend? $200? Fixing computers must pay royally.

Steve had been having girlfriend trouble. They were doing that on and off thing, and for now it seemed that it would be officially off. That’s when Steve started flirting with me.

My first thought: Ewwww. I thought it was disgusting. And when he asked for my phone number I ungraciously rejected him. Ashley thought it was funny or awesome or maybe she was just bored. Anyway, she tried to persuade me to give him my number. I still wouldn’t. Which is when she decided to intervene. She scribbled my number on a scrap of paper and pushed over to Steve who was looking quite triumphant. Ashley just grinned at me and shrugged. I couldn’t believe it.

Steve called me the next day. He kept persisting, and even though I was reluctant to go out with him, I finally agreed. Funny how people grow on you. After a while, I realized that I was beginning to like him. He was funny. He could be unexpectedly charming. And most of the things that turned me off before suddenly became things that I liked about him. Even the way he walked. (I can’t explain why I was somehow turned on by his mad typing skills. Crazy, I know).

We were never anything serious. We went to eat at fast food restaurants. I went to his house once and met his mom and his dog. I watched his band play in the upstairs of this old house. Steve was the singer. They were a “rock” band, the type of which required screaming the lyrics so that the words are incomprehensible. Steve was the screamer, and I listened much to the over-fulfillment of my curiosity.

I think we both grew bored after a while. We were too different from each other. I still liked him though, which at the same time was an annoying complication. I was sad, and it was his fault for starting the whole thing! I think my mom was happy that nothing came of it though.

Anyway, perhaps it’s a coincidence. Maybe the seasons don’t have anything to do with anything. But sometimes it sure seems like it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who We Really Are


I’ve been reading Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love. It is fabulous, and with the turning of each page, I feel my understanding cracking open just a little more. It is hard not to quote every single paragraph because everything she writes is insightful and encouraging, whether she is writing about relationships, God’s love, miracles, or our careers and aspirations. Throughout, she urges us to put away our judgments and guilt, to always forgive, and to look into our own hearts and minds to see what needs to be changed.

Here are several especially enlightening quotes:

A spiritual teacher from India once pointed out that there is no such thing as a gray sky. The sky is always blue. Sometimes, however, gray clouds come and cover the blue sky. We then think the sky is gray. It is the same with our minds. We’re always perfect. We can’t not be. Our fearful patterns, our dysfunctional habits, take hold within our minds and cover our perfection. Temporarily. That is all. We are still perfect sons of God. There has never been a storm that hasn’t passed. Gray clouds never last forever. the blue sky does. pg. 118



This next quote speaks to me in a special way as I am always second-guessing myself, thinking I’m not good enough, I don’t have real talent, why should I even try.

We all have the potential for greatness, but it gets plowed out of us early. Fear entered when someone told us there’s a first prize, second prize, and third prize, that some efforts deserve an A, and some get a C. After a while, part us becomes afraid to even try. The only thing we have to give to the world is our own grasp on it. The ego argues that this is not enough. It leads us to cover up our simple truth, to try to invent a better one. But the ego isn’t protecting us here, although as always, it pretends to. It isn’t guarding us against making fools of ourselves; it is guarding us against experience of who we really are, the brilliance of expressing it, and the joy that the expression brings to ourselves and others.

I love the story of the little girl who showed her teacher a picture she painted of a tree. The tree was purple. The teacher said, “Sweetheart, I’ve never seen a purple tree, now have I?”

“Oh?” said the little girl. “That’s too bad.” (140-141)



And my Dad is doing fine. After striking the top of his head on a sharp metal pole…again I’m not sure of the particulars, such as where was this deathly pole?...the wound is now healing after having staples put in his head. It was scary though. At first I thought he might have chopped his hand off with the wood-cutter or something.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Perfect End to a Rainy Monday

Shout out to Liz at Laws of Gravity for giving me this award! Liz always has interesting stories to tell about subbing. And we share a love for Harry Potter. :) Thanks again, Liz!


And now to pass it on. It was a hard choice because there are so many great blogs out there, but here are my picks:

To Valerie from Virginia for her blog, bits and pieces. For sharing bits and pieces of her lovely life, and also on this day where she explains why T-giving makes her sad.

To Jackee at Winded Words. She's friendly and always shares insightful musings on the ups and downs and in betweens of the writing life. Definitely worth the read!

To Roland at Writing in the Crosshairs. An excellent writer and thinker with many brilliant and relevant insights.

The rules, as told to me: Acknowledge the giver and pass it on to your favorite blogs.

Have a great week everyone!

Here's a picture of a laughing dragon to complement the monday crazies


Here is how my day is going:

This morning, I rolled out of my bed more bleary-eyed than usual. Promptly, I sneezed and strained my back.

This afternoon, I decided to be smart and take advantage of the nice walking weather. I walked a mile to the library, which was really dumb. Apparently my back was worse than I had previously gauged...when will I ever listen to that small voice in my gut warning me not to do something??

Once I got to the library, I learned there was a tornado watch out. It also started pouring torrents of rain which cascaded down the streets in floods and waves.

But I did succeed in checking out Harry Potter: The Chamber of Secrets, which my sister keeps making fun of me for reading. Hey, Don't judge unless you've read it yourself!

My dad hit his head on something, apparently was bleeding, and is now at the hospital. What's going on?!!

I'm hoping my back will heal quickly, and I'm looking forward to making Mexican style tacos tonight: corn tortillas, strips of steak, cilantro, onions, and lime juice. I never thought lime would go well on a taco, but it is quite possibly one of the best combinations I've come across.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hummingbird



I want to fill my mind with music: angry loud passionate
while I speed over country roads, accelerating hills,

every window sending wind to whip my face.

I want to face the thunderstorm, arms raised to churning clouds,
pulling lightning from the sky, lips tasting the rain mixed with my tears.

Screaming, crying, moaning, that music in my head;
I want to dance to it, feet lashing grass and dirt,

kicking up dust and flowers, stirring the wind, the air,
the heart of God with the movements of my body, its ceaseless energy.

I want to run.

I bury my hands in moist earth kissed by rain, by me, soaking into my fingernails,
the crevices of my skin, my toes, staining my knees dark as midnight shadows.

I pull weeds, baby trees, uprooting the vines that choke my treasures.

I want to fly, like the forgotten eagle, the hated crow, suspend myself in air,
a hummingbird—still, despite the rapid beat of my wings.

I want to move like a river, plunge like a waterfall, pulse like the ocean
dancing with the turbulent sky.

I consume the sun’s rays until my skin glows
from the ball of fire raging in my soul.

I will stand like a magnolia, powerful, majestic,
even after my flowers have fallen.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wisdom from a 4 year old

Ben: "Isaac is my best buddy. He always makes stuff for me. Abbie is always begging me to be her best buddy. That's not how you make friends. You don't beg someone to be your best buddy. You do stuff for them. You go out to eat with them. You make them stuff."

You don't ducktape them to a wall either.

Sidenote: This photo was taken in fun, not serious or anything. I thought the look on his face was hilarious though so I showed it to my roommate, and she didn't even crack a smile! Whoops...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Guys, Guys, and More Guys

So yesterday, I had an interview. I also had to meet someone at Panera Bread hours before the interview. I was all dressed up in my interview clothes: my sleek red sweater, my suave grayish slacks, my black heels. I also felt like I was puttin’ myself out there a little bit. I’m not used to dressing up. I don’t wear heels very often. I’m a flip-flop, tennishoe kinda person. I’m the type that sees Amy Adams traipsing all over Ireland in five-inch heels and thinks, “What’s wrong with you?!” (Curious? Watch Leap Year. There’s a lovely, hot guy in it.)

I’m leaving Panera Bread, and out of the corner of my eye, I see this guy wearing a bookbag standing outside. I don’t really think much of it. I get in my car and am about to pull out of the parking lot, when I see this guy standing about three feet away on the driver’s side of my car. He’s kind of waving, trying to get my attention. Feeling a bit creeped out, I roll my window down about two inches. Part of me wonders if I’m about to be robbed, but I don’t want to be rude.

“Do you have a dollar or two you could spare?” he asks me.

I know I don’t have any cash on me, but I look anyway. “Sorry,” I say.

“Oh, alright. It’s okay,” he says. He’s actually pretty attractive looking. Not the type of person I would think of asking for money in a parking lot…

“Are you okay?” I ask.

“Yeah,” he says, as if it’s weird that I should ask that. “Love and peace,” he says as I pull out and drive away.

***

Next, I go to Barnes and Noble. A friend told me about a book there I should check out about how to ace a job interview. I take the book to the café area and sit at a table to skim through the book.

As I’m reading, another guy kind of walks past my table and sort of looks over at me. He finally decides to sit at the table right next to mine. Even though there are a lot of other empty tables. So he starts taking books out of his book bag, and while I’m trying to concentrate, I notice that he keeps glancing over at me every several minutes.

Nothing happens. Maybe this is a lame story. But I’m not used to people looking at me twice. I just thought it was strange. I guess that’s what I get when I try to look nice. Or at least, nicer.

***

I don’t even know why I’m writing about this one. I was at Wal-mart this morning and I was pushing my cart toward a check-out lane. I saw this other guy walking toward the same one. He had less stuff than me so I was walking slowly so that he could go first. He was kind of scruffy looking in a hot, lumberjack kind of way. Or maybe I didn’t get a good look at him. But I think I did. I was inexplicably nervous because he let me go in front of him, and I felt strangely self-conscious all of a sudden, and I don’t think I looked at him again, and then, of course, I must have been more flustered than I realized because when I got home I realized I left one of my bags there.

Go figure.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy November 15


Here's to my sister who turns 17 today! Happy birthday girl!

Don't fight the darkness. Bring the light and the darkness will disappear.

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, I'll try again tomorrow.

We're fools whether we dance or not. So we might as well dance.
--Japanese proverb

Doodles: Mustard Seeds

I don't usually draw anymore, but occasionally I like to put inspirational phrases on the wall behind the desk I work at. Here is one for today. For those who are fighting doubt, in writing or any part of life that taunts you, saying you just can't do it:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jennifer Knapp: thoughts, ponderings, musings, and what-have-you



One of my longtime favorite musicians has returned to the music scene after 7 years. Jennifer Knapp, feeling burned out on music and all the tours she was on, abruptly left the Christian music industry for the outback of Australia. She never considered that she might pick up her guitar again for an audience, yet here she is, with renewed passion and a realization that no matter how far she travels and how long she stays away, music is still irrevocably in her bones.

She isn’t hiding anything. She is who she is and is determined not to let the world pressure her into being something other than herself. That much is sure. Last year, Jennifer announced that she is a lesbian. She appeared on Larry King Live and even had interviews appear in such publications as Christianity Today, discussing her decision. Yet, she still holds her faith in God and claims she is a Christian. I am sure many Christians can hardly wrap their heads around this one. In many perspectives, it’s downright blasphemous. Jennifer had (and has) a lot of courage, revealing such a “secret” and knowing how the Christian community and many of her fans would take it; perhaps rebuking, condemning, attacking.

There once was a time when I would have had the same reaction. I used to think that people who chose such a lifestyle were doomed. Simply, it was the way I had been taught. But I am different now. Surely God would not have us hate, exclude, belittle. Much has been revealed to me, to open my mind and show me that God’s love is wider and deeper than our small minds can conceive, and His ways are not my ways, in ALL THINGS.

Anyway, Jennifer Knapp’s first three albums have continuously inspired and encouraged me throughout the years. Her songs are very open, honest, and full of originality. They push me to examine my own self as her words point to God over and over again.

Her most recent, fourth album is different in that it is not geared or marketed solely to a Christian audience. On her web page, Jennifer says, “There is a strong sense of community that has been in the back of my mind throughout this whole process. I want my core audience to find something familiar, but refreshed, on Letting Go. At the same time, I am so happy to throw off any cloak that has been put upon me that would make any music lover hesitate to listen to my music. I am so excited to bring all different types of people to my party. I’ve written this for them.”

Perhaps God’s Kingdom is less like a judge’s court and more like a party…

Here’s to throwing off the cloak…

Monday, November 8, 2010

What's at Stake? My Sanity...?


Perhaps it was foolish of me to set such a high goal: 3000 words by the end of the day.

It was Saturday, and I had the entire day to catch up on the writing time I missed the day before. I felt good.

Then an unexpected visitor…

A girl I had gone to high school with came home with my mother. I hadn’t seen her in a long time. She needed a place to stay. She has a one year old baby. The father of the baby had dumped her seven months ago and married another woman who already had four kids. This girl was still staying with them because she had nowhere else to go.

Until yesterday. He kicked her out. Didn’t even give her time to get her stuff. He’d have someone else bring it to her later.

She was still wearing an old faded pear of pink striped pajamas and a dirty-looking yellow sweatshirt. I rummaged awkwardly through my drawers and gave her some of my clothes to wear, and then she took a shower.

I’m selfish. I’ll gladly admit it. But it bothers me. It bothers me that my inclination, my need to write turns me into a hermit. Makes me not fully empathize with someone in need because I am missing out on “essential” writing time. Or maybe it was because my plans were not turning out the way I wanted.

I kept saying, “God, a person is more important than this book I’m trying to write by the end of November. A person is more important than completing a 3000 word count by the end of today.” I still didn’t feel any better.

I didn’t want to be rude and lock myself away in my room until I had written a sufficient amount. Besides, I was stuck in the story. I didn’t know where to go next.

I did try to write though. But the girl just sat on my bed and stared at me. I wrote a paragraph until I couldn’t do it anymore. With her watching me, every word I typed sounded stupid.

I felt torn up the whole day because I couldn’t write.

Instead, I talked to her. I made popcorn and hot chocolate and we watched a movie.

And the whole time, I wondered if writing was worth it, if it made me feel selfish and if it made me feel antisocial.

Yesterday, I was back at it. And today, here I am.

But the question I’m still asking myself is: Is it possible to balance the writing life with social life, family life, and working life without having a mental breakdown and making everyone around me question my sanity?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nail Your Novel!


I just received Roz Morris's book Nail Your Novel in the mail today! I can't wait to read it as I work on my own novel idea this November. If you have a chance, check out Roz's blog, Dirty White Candy. I keep plugging her blog every now and then because it's so fun to read through. Dedicated to writing, every post is encouraging, motivating, and helpful. Thank you Roz! :)

In writing news, I keep switching from first person to third. I'm not sure which I like better. I guess it depends on my mood. Today I like third person better. I'm thinking about using it from now on because then I can switch to other characters' perspectives.

All you writers out there, which POV do you prefer? Which works best for you?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Validation

This film is pure genius and a cure for the blues. :) Enjoy!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Shenanigans

I had quite an entertaining Halloween, and it more than made up for never having gone “trick or treating” when I was a kid. My parents went from showing no interest, discouraging us, telling it was Satan’s holiday to now (15 years or so later) letting my younger siblings take part. Perhaps it’s because I was home schooled until third grade that they never jumped on the Halloween band wagon. Anyway, my parents still preach about“Satan’s holiday,” but they let me and my teenage sister and brother take my four year old brother trick-or-treating.

Here is how our Sunday transpired:

We went to church, and then came home to fix lunch before my Dad went off to work. While that was happening, Dad was outside chopping wood to keep us warm this winter. My brother’s high school friend stopped by to talk to Isaac who was in the house. So naturally, this friend asked my Dad if he could talk to Isaac.

My Dad, who can be quite intimidating for no reason at all, said, “What about?”

“Trick-or-treating,” says Friend.

“We don’t do Halloween,” Dad says gruffly. “That’s devil worship.”

“Okay…” Friend drives off looking confused, and as my Dad said when he came inside, “Like he was going to cry.”

We all railed on Dad for making Isaac’s friend cry and for scaring everybody when ever they came to the house.

Later that day, 5:00 p.m. :

My sister and I are creating our costumes at the last minute. Abbie is a Russian princess, Anastasia style, and I, who originally planned to be a knight, decide to dress as a pirate instead. Isaac, the original one of the group, dons a beige trench coat and sticks a box on his head with eyes and a mouth cut out—Box Dude, I guess? Ben, who was going to wear his Dragon cape decides he wants to be like his brother, who helps him cut arm holes and a rectangular hole in the front out of a paper Save-A-Lot bag. I, for some strange reason, do not act like the adult and talk him back into the dragon cape. (I was busy being a pirate, I guess…)

While out trick-or-treating, everyone asks Ben what he is supposed to be. None of us had any idea. It was a last minute thing, we say. Thus, he is dubbed, “Last Minute Thing.”

Everyone kept asking Isaac what he was supposed to be. Box Boy? The Unknown Comic? And my personal favorite—the Masked Stripper.

No one made any sort of comment about my sister’s costume or mine.

Now, for some pictures as proof:



Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dark Angel Nights


Dark Angel. The story of a genetically engineered killing machine otherwise known as Max. Except she escaped from the training camp and is now fending for herself about ten years later in Seattle, the year 2020. The economy is in chaos, crime runs rampant and Max finds herself in cahoots, with Eyes Only, otherwise known as Logan Cale. His mission is to can the evil warlords, thieves, traffickers, and other miscellaneous to restore the country, or at least Seattle, to a safer environment. Max's mission: to find the other's like her.

I used to be hooked on this show back when it aired on television I don't know how long ago. This is how I’m spending my Saturday night, watching back to back episodes ordered from Netflix. Seems to be great fodder for snappy dialogue, funny, engaging, likeable, complicated characters, lots of action, and great plot points that utilize reincorporation to the pleasure of an audience such as me. Kudos to James Cameron.

Note to self: lay off Netflix until November, and my writing escapade, is over.

We’ll see how this works.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Haunting


Theresa over at Substitute Teacher's Saga is Hosting a Halloween Haunting with prizes (three signed books) and an exercise to let people know about you and your blog as well as learn about other people's blogs. Great opportunity to make new friends! Click here to go to her page.

Things on My Mind This Cool October Afternoon

National Novel Writing starts in four and a half days! I am excited. I’ve been (finally) seriously planning this story idea that has been in my head for the past two years or so, and I can’t wait to actually write it!

I made Breakfast treats this morning after searching everywhere for the recipe my Grandma sent me in the mail. (I don’t know why it was on the kitchen table…) They’re basically like oatmeal raisin cookies, except thicker and more lumpy.

Wondering if I should get a second job. Substitute teaching isn’t exactly a jack pot.

Wondering if I shouldn’t get a second job. Yet, at least. Maybe after November is over and the first draft of my novel is written??

The Last Word and the Word After That by Brian D. McLaren.

This is a great, thought-provoking book for anyone who feels ready to confront the existence (or non-existence) of hell, something that has bugged me for a long time. As a person coming from a Christian background, I have had trouble getting around the whole “hell” issue or at least the way most Christians perceive it and turn it back onto others. For instance, "you’re going to hell if you don’t believe this or that or do this or that." That whole thought process aggravates me like no other! This is a pretty heavy topic so feel free to disregard it. But this is what has been on my mind most intensely as of late.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How Do You Write?


I write with my eyes closed and my mind open.

When my eyes are open, all I see is the blank paper or the white Microsoft Word Document with only two sentences on it, and oh my gosh those sentences really suck. Hit backspace, Cross out with pen. Try again. Repeat previous scenario. Give up because it’s too depressing, and this idea is going nowhere.

But when my eyes are closed, I can’t see any of that. All I see is the story in my mind. The way my characters think, act, look, and why. And everything begins falling into place and before I know it, I have filled two pages, and there is this feeling of fun and play and creativity coursing through me.

I like to read the Writer magazine. The last page of each issue features a published author and the author’s answers to a list of usual questions.

“How do you write?” the interviewer asks.

With my eyes closed.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stupid sweepstakes (and other happier things)

Two days ago I awoke to an unavailable number ringing on my phone, and not being the brightest person first thing in the morning, I answered it. Resulting in a subscription to four magazines for the “price of $3.83 a week.”

Of course, there is always a catch…instead of paying for thirty-two months at a relatively low price, they tricked me. Without saying it in plain English, they bumped up the payments so that I would be done paying in sixteen months. Which turned out to be a whopping (for me) total of $49 a month.

Maybe that can be considered a good thing because the next day, reality bonked me on the head when I saw they had already debited my account for $49.81, which turned out to be a “pre-authorization fee.” Reality bonked me on the head again when I realized that I could not afford to pay hundreds of dollars for magazines that I did not really need, want, or even care about.

I canceled as soon as I could.

Lesson learned—do not answer Unavailable numbers, ever, especially when I’m practically still sleeping.

After describing a situation that made me incredibly nervous and incensed at my stupidity (Again, I’m not the brightest in the morning!), here are several things that make me incredibly happy!

This morning, my 4-year old brother was chomping on a carrot, and said, “I love the taste of carrots!”

And yesterday, I fixed him a bowl of broccoli, and…he ate it all!

Then last night, I enticed him into sharing my grapefruit with me, and….HE LIKED IT! He kept wanting more.

So, if you couldn’t tell by now, kids who like to eat vegetables and things like grapefruit make me very happy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Road Sign Affirmations


While driving home one day (usually an hour long drive), I became immersed in my thoughts of a novel that I’m planning. One of the main characters is a blind girl, and while I am set on the characters for the story, I have been having trouble deciding which direction I want the story to go in. There are two directions that I keep going back and forth between, and both have their desirable qualities. But each direction would change the themes and other characteristics of the story greatly. They wouldn’t be the same story at all. So I’ve been playing with both a little.

Anyway, before I blather on too long, here is the point of this anecdote. While driving, I passed through a small town that I have been through a hundred times. While daydreaming a scene in my head, I suddenly came to an epiphany about the blind girl and the direction that the story should follow. At that exact same moment, I saw a yellow diamond-shaped sign that said “Blind Person Area.” Now, I have driven through this town countless times, and I have never seen that sign before! I didn’t even know they made such signs. And to see it at the exact moment that I was thinking about a scene involving the blind girl and when I finally felt certain about what I wanted the story to do. What’s more, when I’m lost in my thoughts like that, I don’t usually notice random signs on the side of the road. Especially ones I’ve never seen before. Except this one didn’t seem so random….

Has anyone had similar experiences when they are in creative mode?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Things I Want To Do (And Keep Doing)


Things I Want To Do (And Keep Doing)

Leave my curtains open.
Wear a big stylish hat.
Collect funky jewelry, and wear it.
Pierce my ears. Look for dangly dragonfly earrings.
Go to Patti Digh’s book tour for Creative Is A Verb in December.
Smile at strangers.
Write a novel.
Write a book of poetry. Dedicate it to my creative writing teacher who knew what I was capable of before I did.
Visit the state of Virginia. Perhaps stay there for a long while. :)
Make children smile.
Make adults smile.
Make myself smile.

Things I Have Finished/Done

Finally finished the giant collage I started last year. (I love it. Through images and words cut from magazines I pasted parallels between love and hate, war and peace onto a huge poster board. Finally I can hang it on my wall.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

To find that thing that folds you into complete abandon


To find that thing
that folds you into complete abandon.
The art or practice
that bursts you with joy and light
and purpose
and the sentiment
that joy is the purpose.

I was watching Lisa Hannigan sing, and watching her was like watching someone who was so completely herself that she seemed to glow.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Can We Stop Yet?

Yesterday, I got a 7:30 a.m. call to sub for high school PE at my brother and sister's school. (My brother is a freshman and my sister is a junior) Both of them have opted out of PE this year so I didn't have either of them in class.

At first, when I got the call, I was hesitant. PE?! Can I do that? But I hadn't had an assignment all week, so I said I'd do it.

Basically, all I had to do was take everyone outside and have them walk laps around the track. It was a nice day, sunny with a cool fall breeze. The only annoying thing was the complainers: It's cold. Can we stop now? C'mon I've walked five laps! Occasionally, I'd have to approach the kids sitting along the fence surrounding the track and tell them to get moving. Ugh, I don't like telling people what to do, which is going to have to change if I'm going to keep subbing. I don't mind anymore with elementary school kids, but I haven't had any experience with high schoolers. I'm back at that beginning stage again where I have yet to grow into the teacherly role.

One of my brother's cross country teammates was in one of my classes. He told my brother after practice, "I thought she would be meaner."

I'm not sure what he meant by that. [Did he think I looked mean before?? Who knows...]

Anyways, are there any substitute teachers out there, reading this, who have any experiences to share? P.E. related or otherwise...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A New Perspective on an Ancient Art


Thinking of names for characters is difficult—for me at least.

Right now I have this novel idea that I have been mulling over for the past year or so. Just now I have been getting scenes and characters down on paper.

The two main female characters, the names just came to me. But I am having a hard time coming up with an appropriate name for the male character. He is such a strong, integral part of the story that I can’t just don him with any name. It has to be strong, reflecting his personality, his essence. And thus, I have delayed. He simply remains “the brother” or “D—,” so that I can going on with my writing instead of wasting time worrying over what to call him.

It’s driving me crazy.

I haven’t been very proactive in thinking of a good name, I suppose.

I’ve mostly been waiting for it to hit me in the head one brilliant day.

I know it will eventually.

In the meantime, the writing must go on. I found a brilliant blog on writing just the other day. I always get excited when I find a wonderful, helpful blog such as this one by Roz Morris. She wrote a post recently about how writing must be “play” before it becomes work. As soon as I read that, I really, really wanted to write all of a sudden.

Writing as play? It’s such a simple idea, but when I read that, I suddenly realized that I was approaching the blank page with this apprehensive attitude, much like I feel when I am going to a job on a nice sunny day when I would much rather be outside.

Roz says: “Novels need play time before they grow up… So start playing with it early. Collect material. Give it its own folders. Brainstorm a few scenes for fun and let the good bits sneak up on you like the first one did.”

And just like that, I was in the mood to write, to brainstorm, to create. To make lots and lots of bad mistakes in the hopes of producing something beautiful.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Abra-ca-dabra


Yesterday, I rearranged my room. I moved my bed to where my desk was, and I put my desk in the corner where my bed had been.

Ben, my four year old brother, didn't realize my bed was moved, only that it was missing from the old spot.

When I asked him where he thought it was, he said:

"Poof! It's on the roof!"

He's so funny. :)

Creating Beauty: The Dance

Perhaps the best advice is not an answer, but a question…

Questions from The Dance:

What if it truly doesn’t matter what you do, but how you do whatever you do?

How would this change what you choose to do with your life?

What if you could be more present and openhearted with each person you met if you were working as a cashier in a corner store, than you could if you were doing a job you think is more important?

How would this change how you want to spend your precious time on this earth?

What if your contribution to the world and the fulfillment of your own happiness isn’t dependent upon discovering a better method of prayer or technique of meditation, not dependent upon reading the right book or attending the right seminar, but upon really seeing and deeply appreciating yourself and the world as they are right now?

How would this affect your search for spiritual development?

What if there is no need to change, no need to try to transform yourself into someone who is more compassionate, more present, more loving or wise?

How would this affect all the places in your life where you are endlessly trying to be better?

What if the task is simply to unfold, to become who you already are in your essential nature—gentle, compassionate, and capable of living fully and passionately present?

How would this affect how you feel when you wake up in the morning?

What if who you essentially are right now is all that you are ever going to be?

How would this affect how you feel about your future?

What if the essence of who you are and always have been is enough?

How would this affect how you see and feel about your past?

What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?

How would this change what you think you have to learn?

What if becoming who and what we truly are happens not through striving and trying but by recognizing the people and places and practices that offer us the warmth we need to unfold?

How would this shape the choices you make about how to spend today?

What if you knew that the impulse to move in a way that creates beauty in the world will arise from deep within and guide you every time you simply pay attention and wait?

How would this shape your stillness, your movement, your willingness to follow this impulse, to just let go and dance?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Capturing a Moment



While weeding through my insurmountable pile of folders, looking for stuff to throw away, I came across this exercise my Asian Lit professor gave us to do my last semester of college.

We were studying haikus, the way they are a form of meditation, capturing one moment in time.

He instructed us to choose one haiku and write about it for one minute. Not to add to it, but to take that moment, open it further, and discover what is inside it.

Here is the haiku I chose, and what I wrote:

“A frog leaps
into the ancient pond
--plop!”


A frog leaping into the pond suspends a person in that very moment when nothing exists but for the sound of water splashing lightly and spreading into rings that grow larger and farther apart until once again the water settles and the surface becomes smooth and clear, as if the frog had never been there.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why So Serious?



Substitute Teaching is teaching me to not take myself so seriously.

On Thursday, I was a roving sub. I went from room to room for half an hour each while the teacher went to a meeting.

In some classrooms, the class was at P.E. so the teachers had me grade spelling tests while they were away. One teacher had me make a bunch of copies. In two rooms, there were student teachers so all I did was sit there and grade papers so that there would be another teacher in the room.

The kids were fourth to sixth graders, and in several classes, the kids graded each other’s math assignments while I read them the answers.

My favorite was a fourth grade class toward the end of the day. My main job was to split the students into their reading groups. Naturally, chaos ensued. The students were confused as to why they had a sub all of a sudden. Apparently, the teachers did not make this clear to them.

No one wanted to get into their assigned groups. The teacher had grouped them by the rows they were in. The kids were all over the room, asking if they could be in a friend’s group or telling another kid he couldn’t be in their group. Some students had no idea what group they were in.

In my loudest, most authoritative voice, I ordered everyone to get back into their seats. Then I told them to look at who was in their row so they would know who was in their group.

“How old are you?” someone asked.
“You look like you’re 18!” said a curly-haired girl in the back.

For some reason, I didn’t care what they thought. In any other circumstance, this bugs me.

I had the groups go to different parts of the room to do their reading. This was difficult to get them to do as well. One group tried to sit underneath the teacher’s desk. One group kept asking if they could go in the closet. At least two groups were sitting down.

“They’re making fun of your name!” curly-haired girl said, pointing to the group sitting against the wall.

Again, this doesn’t bother me. “That’s okay,” I said.

“Your name is funny!” said the blonde haired boy sitting against the wall. The kid next to him laughed in agreement.

I just smiled. “I think it’s pretty funny too.”

Then, I went from group to group and made conversation, asking what the story was about and such. The kids would talk about random things and I simply went along with it, all the while, redirecting them to their books and fielding their protests about having read this story three times already.

“Miss Wieser!” said curly-haired girl when I came around to her group. “He took my turn! I was supposed to read next.”

“Well, then you can take his turn,” I said.

“No,” she said. “He took my turn.”

“You can take both their turns,” I responded.

This time the girl didn’t say anything. She just grinned and laughed.

Overall, this was my favorite class of the day. I felt like once I stopped taking myself seriously and balanced my serious teacher attitude with speaking to the kids on their level, I was able to control them better and gain their respect.

I noticed that in classes where I was all business/completely serious, I didn’t connect with the kids as much. It makes me realize how important humor is in the learning/teaching process.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass



I have fallen in love with OK Go music videos. Just when I think they can't do better, they prove me wrong. :D

And there's an accordion!

And a jagnormous xylophone!

:)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sweat Rings, Sore Feet, and Happiness


I never thought I would say this, but I enjoy subbing.

At the end of the day, my feet are sore.

My shirt has sweat rings under the armpits.

I am hot and sweaty and tired.

I am thirsty from talking more than I am accustomed to.

My mind is on auto-pilot from being pulled at in a dozen directions.

But I am HAPPY. In fact, I feel happier than I have in the past three months when I did not work at all.

Yes, teaching is way out of my comfort zone. I never ever thought I would be doing something like this. But the more I do it, the more confident I feel and the more I learn from my mistakes.

I have figured out something about myself.

I need to be working. I thought that having a few months break from a job would be good for me. I thought I would get a lot of writing done. I thought it would be a nice stress-free interim before I had to find a job again. I thought a lot of things.

Instead, what happened is this: I had an identity crisis. My parents drove me up the wall. I felt like a teenager all over again. I didn’t write as much as I thought I would. I felt depressed almost all the time. I fantasized about moving to Canada. Or Ireland. Or Virginia. I’d live in the mountains like a hermit. Or camp out near the beach. I felt useless. I was frustrated that even if I wanted to move I couldn’t because my back wasn’t fully healed. And so many more things that I’d either bore your socks off or make you cry. Or both at the same time!

And now I am substitute teaching. It is hard. It’s challenging. But it’s also more rewarding than I’ve ever imagined.

I like kids, and I didn’t know that before.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The BIG Question


When I was checking my e-mail, I saw that someone commented on a blog that I started two years ago, which I completely abandoned and forgot about after one month. It’s called The Chameleon. I guess I thought it sounded like a cool name at the time, and for one of my posts I wrote about chameleons and listed a bunch of facts about them that I thought were interesting. Anyway, the comment, posted by Anonymous, said “booorrrring.”

I was laughing so hard when I saw that. I kept telling my sister to come see this, but she just looked at me weird. “I believe you,” she said. “I don’t have to look at it.” Okay, maybe it’s not that funny. It was surprising though, and I don’t care…I think it’s quite hilarious. Kudos to the person who even attempted to comment on my “boring” blog post.

To even it out, a person had posted even earlier: “That’s so cool! Thanks!” Ha!

Anyway, if you want to read about the time I got severe food poisoning the day I went to help my friend pick out a wedding dress, here is the link. You can also find several other posts that I vaguely remember typing out, such as “The BIG Question” (I was curious….what was this BIG question???), some stuff about the word “hypocrite,” the nature of Jesus, peace, and gut instincts.

Ha, the BIG question was kind of a let down. But it makes me laugh at my writing style just a mere two years ago. I’ve changed a lot since then.

But you know what??

That blog was not a waste after all!

Maybe I wrote that blog so that two years later, on this day, I could have a big laugh. Maybe in another two years, I will read the posts at the beginning of this blog and have a similar reaction.

Yay to blogging. :-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Subbing for Pre-School (Because I Am Too Exhausted to Think of a Creative Title)


Today I subbed for a pre-school class in a small rural town 15 minutes away from my town. I was a little apprehensive going in because I wasn’t sure how well I would do in managing an entire class of 3 and 4 year olds. I was comforted by the thought of having a teacher’s aide. The other part of me was excited. Three and four year olds are so cute! Even when they are being obnoxious as I found out today.

I’ve found that I am able to remember names rather quickly. I try to say the children's names as often as I can, out of necessity because I like to know a kid’s name when I am asking them to do something. However, it is so easy to get kids mixed up. For instance, during nap time, I kept telling “Irvin” to lay down and stop talking. Later, I realized his name was actually “John.” Irvin and John both were wearing the same shade blue shirts and they had the same hair and their faces had similar qualities. Poor Irvin. He was being a good boy, laying quietly on his mat the whole time! The thing is, when I said something to him about it, he didn’t seem to have any idea what I was talking about.

One little boy, “Jonothan,” seemed so sweet. When I brought them in from the playground for breakfast before the day began, he said, “You’re pretty.” Sweetness can be deceiving. Don’t get me wrong, I still thought he was sweet, but I soon learned that he did not like to follow instructions. At time he would be quiet and compliant, but at other times he would be loud and wouldn’t stay still. Nap time for instance. No matter how often I threatened to send him to the office, he still wouldn’t lay down and stay quiet. Eventually, I did send him to the office because he was making the other kids act up.

And I felt really bad about sending him to the office. He just was being a little boy. He wanted to make a tent with his blanket and several chairs. He wanted to talk to the kid next to him. In any other circumstance, I would have made a tent with him and told him a story. But this was a classroom of course and I wasn’t about to have the teacher aide come back from lunch to a rowdy class during nap time.

Anyways, it turns out that Jonothan is always like that, so the aide says. She got quite frustrated with him later in the day and made him sit at a table by himself with his head down.

And then she said something that broke my heart.

“You know what, Jonothan,” she said. “Don’t come back to school tomorrow. Stay home. We don’t want you here.”

Then he mumbled something about not wanting to go home. (I think). And the aide said, “Yeah, your parents probably don’t want you there either.”

I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t correct or criticize the aide in front of a bunch of kids that she has to spend seven hours, five days a week with. I imagine that could be frustrating in itself. And I really like the aide. I have nothing against her. She was very helpful today. But I really really wished she had not said that. Because words can make such an impact on little kids. And telling someone, who only wants attention, that you don’t want him, that nobody wants him, is the most hurtful thing a person could say to a little kid.

At the end of the day, when we lined the kids up and the aide took them out to the bus, Jonothan still sat at the table. He wouldn’t get his bookbag. He wouldn’t get up and come outside when I asked him to. And so I knelt down by Jonothan and told him how special he is. I told him that I think he is a good person and that I want him to come back to school. I told him that people would miss him if he didn’t come back. And I told him that his parents would miss him too if he didn’t go home.

He just looked even sadder so I tried to distract him. I asked him if he had any brothers and sisters. He looked up and spoke for the first time. He has two brothers and one sister, but he doesn’t know how old they are. Do you guys like to play together? I asked. He nodded his head, but then said, “My other brother and sister hate me.”

I asked him if he had any pets. He started talking again. He has three dogs and one cat, some pigs and a bunch of chickens. We talked about his animals. I told him that his pets would miss him if he didn’t come home. And then I tried to take him out to the bus again. He still resisted. Eventually the aide and I had to practically drag him outside so the bus wouldn’t leave without him.

All the way home, my heart was breaking.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Threads

One thing I miss about college is the creative writing classes I would take. I miss sitting in a circle, passing around copies of my new poem, reading the poetry written by my classmates, being challenged on what a poem is. I miss the critique, the praise, the shameless bashing, all of it. I wondered, as I graduated, if my growth as a writer would slow now that I don't have such an audience for my work, an audience that will tell me their exact opinion, softened or not.

Threads

Silence splits your ears
pulls at tiny molecules
oxygen in the buff
spins it, wraps it, contorts it
like it owns the air between me and you

And I never knew you liked words so much
the way they see you, into you, around you
thread you inside out
the way they sew the rips and tears that
rend bitter-silence air

But even more
connecting me to the best part of you
that wants to love, to take words
wave them into spring trees
blossoming from cracked earth

And you rain cold words on me
that sizzle hot on my skin
make me run for shelter, the cave, the hole in the ground
I bury myself in the dirt, but there is never enough
Until you reel me out on your fishing line

strung with sunlight to blind darkness to submission

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fire

I want
someone
to touch the spots
that ignite my fire
to flip the switch
that turns me on
to stand in front of me
holding himself up
as a mirror to see through
to flare my anger and desire
into one vessel
and to not step back
from the river
that crashes down
the barricades of my being.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be Happy



I heard this song on the radio while driving home today, and it had me laughing out loud. I could not stop smiling. The combination of him repeating the words over and over, and the tone of his voice just cracked me up. And made me feel good of course. Haha..."Don't worry, don't do it."

Eagle Attacking Trumpeter Swan

Here is an interesting picture. I never imagined that this could even happen. I wonder what that eagle's deal is...

To see the rest of the pictures that show the entire interaction, go to this site.



Poor thing was just minding its own business.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rules of the Road


Time to spread some more writerly love. As writers, I know we all get discouraged. We listen to that voice in our heads that says we don’t know what we are doing. We don’t have any real talent or skill. Our imaginations are dull, our creativity is a joke. What do we think we are doing, trying to spin words from our minds? Stop. Give up. Don’t even try, that voice whispers or yells or screeches.

I struggle with that voice a lot, and some times I even obey it. I stare at the blank page and dutifully turn away with the sudden ADD that writers develop as their writing plods on in a straight line while the tracks curve sharply to the left. Then there are times when I somehow evade that voice. When my creativity bursts out of me like a deprived and needy child. Sometimes junk is the result, but more often I create a piece of art, a winning poem, an insightful scene or two that develops a novel idea that has been mulling in my head.

So stop listening to that voice. It doesn’t know what you are capable of.

RULES OF THE ROAD (excerpt from The Artist’s Way)

In order to be an artist, I must:

1. Show up at the page. Use the page to rest, to dream, to try.
2. Fill the well by caring for my artist.
3. Set small and gentle goals and meet them.
4. Pray for guidance, courage, and humility.
5. Remember that it is far harder and more painful to be a blocked artist than it is to do the work.
6. Be alert, always, for the presence of the Great Creator leading and helping my artist.
7. Choose companions who encourage me to do the work, not just talk about doing the work or why I am not doing the work.
8. Remember that the Great Creator loves creativity.
9. Remember that it is my job to do the work, not judge the work.
10. Place this sign in my workplace: Great Creator, I will take care of the quantity. You take care of the quality.

And that is why I love Julia Cameron. I hope I can be just as encouraging and supportive of beginning artists as she is.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Morning Pages: Unexpected Therapy



For about a month, I have been writing what Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, calls Morning Pages. Three pages of long hand written first thing in the morning. The point of these pages is not to create art. In fact, Julia says not to show anyone what you have written. Put them in a manila envelope and bury them in a drawer, if you must. The point is to clear your head of all the muck and the concerns of the world that have been piling up, building layers in your mind.

Three pages of whatever crosses your mind….

At first, I felt like writing three pages of what seemed like senseless crap was a pointless endeavor. And then I began to discover that in writing the morning pages, I was learning things about myself that I would not have known if I had not written them. I began finding encouragement as I moved my hand continuously across the page. Sometimes it would take until page two or three before I felt like God was trying to say something to me, an answer breaking through the previously scrawled worries and confusion. I would write down those words.

And then I would put the pages in a folder, in my drawer and carry on with my day, feeling lighter, happier, more focused and hopeful then I did when I had just woken up. Sometimes when I do my morning writing, I talk about my plans for the day, what I want to accomplish, and then (most of the time) I do it, as if writing about it first is what I needed to actually know what I needed to do in the first place.

The morning pages have provided a way to tap into my intuition as well. Sometimes I will be in this mood that I can’t get out of or I will have this strange feeling that borders on foreboding or confliction. If I write about it, I usually get to the bottom of that feeling and what it means, what it is trying to tell me.

The best thing about writing these daily pages is that it refocuses my thoughts and my attitude so that instead of worrying over the small details of life or my failures or past actions that I am ashamed of, I can clear that out of my head so that I am concentrating on becoming a better person.

Here are some excerpts from The Artist’s Way:

“Morning pages are nonnegotiable. Never skip or skimp on morning pages. Your mood doesn’t matter. The rotten things your sensor says doesn’t matter. We have this idea we need to be in the mood to write. We don’t.

Morning pages will teach you that your mood doesn’t really matter. Some of the best creative work gets done on the days when you feel that everything you’re doing is just plain junk. The morning pages will teach you to stop judging and just let yourself write. So what if you’re tired, crabby, distracted, stressed? Your artist is a child, and it needs to be fed…

When people ask, “Why do we write morning pages?” I joke, “To get to the other side.” They think I am kidding, but I’m not. Morning pages do get us to the other side: the other side of our fear, of our negativity, of our moods. Above all, they get us beyond our Censor. Beyond the reach of the Censor’s babble we find our own quiet center, the place where we hear the still, small voice that is at once our creator’s and our own.” (12)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Run for the Hills


I haven’t had another subbing assignment since last Thursday…which is making me think that I should sign up for other school districts if I actually want to make some money at this. There is another school district in my town, as well as one about a 15-20 minute drive from here.

Also, I’m kind of nervous about getting any calls for middle school or high school. One part of me thinks they might be easier than grade school kids, but the other part of me is still dreading it. I’m wondering if I would be better off subbing only for grades K-6…but I’m thinking I should probably try a few of the higher levels just to see what it’s like.

And then ANOTHER part of me wants to run away and live in the mountains somewhere. I keep getting this trapped feeling. I am back living with my parents, I have all these bills to pay, and I am doing this job that is WAY out of my comfort zone. Run for the hills, my brain keeps telling me. Run! Wow, I really need to find a way to cope because I can’t really go anywhere right now, especially since literally running is out of the question. The most I can do is walk at a slow lope. I’m just thankful I’m not stooped over and limping like an old woman anymore! My chiropractor said that my disc, which was bulged, will always have that tear in it, but at least the bulge is moving back where it belongs, which is OFF of my sciatic nerve.

But seriously, there are these moments when I want to move far away so badly and make a new life for myself. But I am here right now, and I have to make the best of it.

Wow…this post took an unexpected turn. But it’s the truth. This is how I am feeling in my most raw, unguarded moments.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Just because...

Some days we all need a little encouragement, whether from ourselves or another person...


Friday, September 3, 2010

Advice from a Pro

A lady from my church sent me a message yesterday regarding successful substitute teaching. Her daughter, Emma, was in the class I taught. Just thought I would share it.

Hey Emily,

Heard you had Emma's class...she said they were crazy. Here are a few things I have learned. Use them if you wish, disregard them if you wish.

1. Remember YOU are the sheriff, the top dog, the big cheese, the commander of the ship. If they smell fear, not good. Use your confidence to your benefit. YOU ARE NOT....NOT...NOT THEIR FRIEND.

2. Be stern until you get the lay of the land...they have to earn "Nice Miss Wieser". Usually that doesn't happen your first time in the classroom. If you show them nice too early, they'll take advantage. If things go smoothly, they will look forward to your next visit and then you can be more yourself.

3. These are my three classroom rules, which I recite first thing in the morning for grade school classes. First, they don't talk when I'm talking...at all. Second, I don't speak to students who are out of their seats...no exceptions. If they get out of their seats and try to approach me, I look at them and say, "I don't speak to students who are out of their seats." When I tell them this rule, I ask a student to raise his hand and I walk immediately to his desk and address his concerns. They like the teacher coming to them and knowing nobody else can interrupt their time. Finally, do what you're asked to do when you're asked to do it.

Surprisingly, those three rules pretty much calm the class. The kids like the structure. Sometimes I have to prompt them by correcting an infraction, "Wait, the rule is you don't talk when...________?"

4. Before you ask for a student to respond to your question say, "Raise your hand if you can tell me....." Raising your own hand when you say it reinforces the desired behavior.

I don't use bribery ("If you guys are really good, I'll take you outside for extra recess.") I use rewards..."You have behaved so well, I'm going to leave a special note for your teacher and I'm going to read you an extra story."

For little bitties K and 1st, I've sometimes taken in a wrapped up book. I set it somewhere that they can see it. When their curiosity leads them to ask about it, I mention in an offhand way that it is just a little something extra for the afternoon...if we get all of our work done.

If you end up at the high school, make sure you let them know that even if they know you as Abbie or Isaac's sister, in the classroom, you are Miss Wieser.

Hope you find this helpful. Most of this I learned in classroom management class or during my student teaching, but some of it is from being in the trenches. If you're fair and not wishy-washy, they'll give you a fair shake. Don't be afraid to remove a troublemaker if you've warned them.

Sarah

Thursday, September 2, 2010

AHHHH!!!

I. AM. EXHAUSTED.

After I came home and took an ice cold shower, I collapsed onto my bed and eventually slept for several hours.

I never thought that 24 third graders could tire me out SO MUCH. Wow. It was a crazy day, and I feel like I made a lot mistakes….but on the bright side, at least I will know what to do next time.

A few things to keep in mind for next time:

1) Find out who the teacher’s helpers are, and use them. The teacher I subbed for today assigns these helpers weekly, and I could have asked them to help me hand out and collect papers. But I didn’t.

2) Make sure students do not get out of their desks to ask me a question. I did not realize how important this was until today. I had kids coming up from left and right and behind, asking all sorts of questions.

3) Put my foot down, and don’t let one student do something that I can’t let every student do. When several students finished a worksheet, I let them put together a puzzle at their desk. Then, another student wanted to play with a puzzle when she was finished, but by that time there was not enough time for that and I needed the children to have their desks clear for the next activity.

4) No drinks at the desks. One girl spilled her water on her Math sheet and wanted a new math sheet, but there weren’t any extras. Thankfully, I was able to get her to finish it around the wet spots.

5) Make use of the teacher’s reward systems. I definitely should have done this right at the beginning, and also, I should have let them know what my own rules were as a sub.

6) I really had trouble getting the whole group to stay quiet all at once. I need to figure that one out…


Savannah, student of the week, was given the responsibility to help me and answer any questions I had. She was my go-to student of the day. The thing is, I didn’t know this until a couple hours into class time when the kids were starting to get chaotic. Anyway, she was a big help, but I could tell she was starting to look sad/annoyed when the kids weren’t listening to me and when I wasn’t able to get their attention.

In the afternoon, I employed the clapping trick I learned at the training program I went to yesterday. I started clapping in different patterns, and to my surprise, several students joined in. Then the whole class joined, clapping along with me. This worked to get everyone paying attention to me as well as bring them back to their desks. Savannah had the biggest grin on her face. Ha, I felt like I was finally doing something right. And this was right before a teacher stopped in, so they were all relatively quiet. I have to say, seeing that smile on Savannah’s face was the highlight of my day, and it made me realize how important it is for the teacher to be in control. If the teacher can have that control over their students, whether they like it or not, it makes the majority of the students feel safe.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Honestly...


So, my sister and I were talking about guys and how it annoys us when they act corny and over the top "romantic." For instance, I had a boyfriend who would write me these really mushy, corny, stupid poems. It really annoyed me, but I would always pretend that I liked them. So he kept writing them. Anyway, I think the next time I am in a relationship, I will try very, very hard to be honest. Because it can be so easy to pretend I'm someone I'm not or that I like the things that I really don't. My sister showed me a poem that I think fits this topic really well:

"Indian Summer" by Dorothy Parker

In youth, it was a way I had
To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad,
To suit his theories.

But now I know the things I know,
And do the things I do;
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you!