Friday, February 29, 2008

How I Got into this Business and Where It Went Thursday

I didn't intend to do anything but start a writing club at our school. In November I was given permission to do so for the Jr. High and high schools provided I find a certified co-sponser on the current staff and that I obtain a substitute teaching certificate myself. I didn't even have to sub. You know the outcome of the substitute certificate (see the last post). Here continues the story of the originally intended writing club.

Thursday was our first meeting. I knew we'd have 9 students or so. I hoped we might get as many as 12-15. Before the afternoon's club schedule I went into the tiny half-room at the back of the library where we were to meet and waited to see who would arrive. To my amazement, 37 kids managed to cram themselves into that little space. The tables were quickly filled. More lined the walls, standing. Others leaned in the doorway or sat in what little floorspace existed. What's more, they are excited not just about starting a club, but about writing itself. They want to compete. They like the idea of running in-house writing contests not just for the Jr. High and high school, but for the elementary students. Mostly, though, they want to workshop papers with each other, to read each others' work and comment, to have feedback and find ways to improve their writing. They listened to our ideas and hopes for the club; they shared their ideas (good ones) and listened to each other and were in agreement about their goals. They wanted to have after school meetings to workshop, and then someone said, "What about over the summer? Can we do something this summer?" and was echoed.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I was stunned. Stunned and utterly humbled.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Plan...or...Am I Out of My Mind

Lately a question one of my readers asked a long time ago has been haunting me. Seeker once asked if I would ever walk the halls of academia again. My answer was a pretty definite no.

I'm reconsidering.

The last week of January I began substitute teaching in a local high school. While I thought I might survive it pretty well, I did not expect to enjoy it past a vague satisfaction, so I was taken entirely by surprise when after subbing for our French/English teacher for three days running, I found myself bewilderingly and entirely in love...with the kids. This was not supposed to happen. This was not in The Plan.

The Plan, as much as there is ever a plan in my INFP life, was to eventually go back to school to finish a MA or if I was very lucky and somewhere found the energy and self-confidence, an MFA, and acquire a job teaching per course for a college or university in the area, maybe even landing a full-time job with a community college, perhaps in a writing center. Teaching secondary school was not even a consideration. Notta. Notta. Notta.

Yet here I am with an application to admittance to a teacher certification program sitting in an envelope on my dining room table, check enclosed, addressed and stamped. Granted, I put a note on it this morning--"Wait until after Friday to mail this, you fool!"--just in case my four day sub stint in the Family and Consumer Science room this week changes my mind about exactly how much punishment I'm able to take. Nevertheless, my instinct, that deep down knowing at the center, tells me that, yes, indeed, I am going to do this.

I am going to do this, and it will change my life, and there will be no end to it. It will be difficult and hair-pullingly frustrating and utterly exausting and shatteringly glorious beyond my wildest imagining. It will be good.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday Quote: On Darkness

"Sometimes I forget that even though the darkness whispers my name it does not tell the truth."

--Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Vixens


In my blog wanderings and perusals over the past three years, I've seen many lists of "Forty Things to do Before I Turn Forty." By the time I thought of composing my own, my time was seriously running out, and I was faced with either making a list of "Forty Things to Accomplish in the Next Nine Minutes" or of finding a creative alternative. (Allow me to offer a small bit of advice: given a choice between Lots of Potentially Emotionally Unhinging Work or a Creative Alternative, go for the latter.)

My alternative to the "Forty Things to do Before I Turn Forty" list? It needed to be something positive, something affirming, something that would help me appreciate the life I've had already and the one I have now rather than laying on the pressure to do more, accomplish more, be more. I needed not a list of things to do, but a list of wonderful things I have done in my first forty years, a list of appreciation and celebration. Therefore...

Forty Things I've Done Before Turning Forty

1. Learned to see God as a very real and compassionate Person rather than a Lurker with a Big Board.

2. Convinced my brother to willingly eat mud.

3. Slept in trees.

4. Jumped out of a barn loft.

5. Earned a writing degree, had success with creative pieces, publication, readings, two Pushcart nominations and served a week long term as Poet in Residence at Bryan College.

6. Been proposed to or seriously co-considered marriage five times.

7. Had a sixth man fall to his knees dramatically before me in a public place, spread his arms wide and sing loudly, "Besa me! Besa me mucho!"

8. Promptly married him.

9. Stayed married 17 years to the above to date.

10. Gave birth to two children with a midwife presiding and no meds.

11. Learned to enjoy poetry. Learned to detest poetry. Learned I can't live without poetry.

12. Enjoyed mathematical theory.

13. Pieced and hand-quilted a quilt from dress scraps.

14. Found out what happens when one puts one end of an electrical cord in one's mouth while the other end is still in the outlet.

15. Learned to cook, yea, even unto a complete Thanksgiving meal for company.

16. Played the piano and the oboe.

17. Walked barefoot through snow.

18. Danced.

19. Put my brother in a tractor tire, rolled him down a hill and survived my mother's wrath afterward.

20. Attended wonderful Renaissance festivals.

21. Played the lead onstage in "Once Upon a Mattress."

22. Sang a solo in Handel's Messiah.

23. Learned to live without medication for an affective disorder--something a diagnosing doctor said I would never do.

24. Lived amid a passion for learning.

25. Discovered a passion for teaching.

26. Learned to live in the midst of prayer.

27. Made peace with an ongoing and difficult relationship from my past.

28. Learned where I fit in my family.

29. Read thousands of astounding, wonderful books.

30. Tutored and taught writing to amazing people.

31. Moderated for the beautiful ladies of LHM's Lighthouse and Covenant Women for several years.

32. Given up an addictive and self-destructive way of "coping."

33. Found the courage to keep/enforce my own boundaries while remaining unruffled.

34. Learned jewelry making.

35. Mentored some incredible young women.

36. Learned to recognize and name flowers, trees and other native plants.

37. Taken up yoga.

38. Kindled a love of books in two children.

39. Laughed nearly every day.

40. Been a student of grace.