Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Quote: On Resilience

"In the depths of winter I discovered in myself an invincible summer."

--Albert Camus

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Most of my blog readers will already know this, but I'll post here anyway: my grandmother died this weekend. Tonight was visitation; tomorrow is the funeral.

I feel very much as though time is suspended right now. As a family, we're talking and catching up, trading stories, taking care of details, and doing the things that need doing, but it feels as though we're in a strange sort of time between, I suppose, we very much are.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Friday Quote: On Imagination

"With all my ideas and follies I could one day found a corporate company for the propagation of beautiful but unreliable imaginings."

--Robert Walser

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Quote: On Forgiveness

"Forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past."

--Alexa Young

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween Reflections

After much research and deep reflective consideration, I have come to a conclusion: Halloween candy is the devil.

Consumed today in the name of scientific inquiry: Skittles, Tootsie Rolls, Nerds, Peanut M&M's, Hershey's, Butterfinger, Twizzler, Jolly Rancher, and a KitKat.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


No, not the television show.

Last week as I sat in my schoolroom trying to force myself to use my summer wisely by writing the curriculum that the state is going to review next fall, a tapping came at my window. Fairly sure that the tapper was most likely to be a family member or a student, I sent The Younger Daughter to go check the outside doors and let the tapper in, should my assumptions be correct. They were. It was my father. He had come to share with me the news that a house with some acreage had come up for sale near town, and he thought I might like to take a look at it.

We'd not been looking for a house, really. Oh, we knew that we really ought to before long, but we were thinking more in the time frame of 1-2 years, not 5 days.

"What?!" you ask, as well you may. Yes. Five days. It was going up for auction in five days.

The short version of this story is that Great Scott, The Daughters and I attended the first auction I'd been to since I was very small. My father did the bidding for us since we felt too inexperienced to do this well ourselves, and shortly after noon last Saturday, we had a house with a field and woods. We are still reeling in shock, even as we finalize preparations to (hopefully) close on the place next week.

I said in my last post that I needed to get Mrs. Lawson out of my system. Well, this should do it, although how in the world I'm going to find time to write curriculum now, while moving twelve years worth of stuff, I've no idea. It's funny, really, funny in the way that inspires one to run around in circles in the front lawn waving one's hands above one's head and screaming, "Aaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!" before falling flat on one's back and twitching slightly while watching the sky spin above one's head.

Seriously. It's all good. It will be fun.

Have I mentioned the barn? Yes. A barn. With a hayloft for The Younger Daughter to fall out of! Whee!

(Disclaimer: Please do not misread the tone of the above. I am very pleased with the place, and while moving will require a great deal of work, there couldn't be a better time to do it than right now, before school starts up again.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Getting the Teacher Out of My System

The first week of summer vacation is drawing to a close. I am not yet accustomed to it. To tell the truth, I still feel pressured and harried. Granted, I have things to do this summer, but none of them are of the daily deadline variety. Probably I need to start getting up early (I've been sleeping in) and taking walks again to get open skies and rustling green leaves back into my system.

It's odd how easily we adjust to new identities. I've been Mrs. Lawson for 9 months. It's time to reacquaint myself with Lucinda/Cindy again, time to get back in touch with who I am at the core of me.

That sounds like such a horribly INFP thing to say!

Sunday, May 24, 2009


It's official. The teaching certificate from DESE is on my desk. I am a teacher.

Actually, I have always been a teacher. The moment my hapless younger brother was born, the teacher within sprang to life fully formed, like Minerva. Just ask him. I taught him lots of things. If you put tape on the bottoms of a cat's paws, it will dance; if you spray the hardwood floor with furniture polish and slide on it, Mom will, too; if you trust your big sister, you will end up eating rocks covered in mud after having been told it's chocolate.

Not all my early teaching experiences were as successful as the ones involving my brother. My first spanking in school (Yes, Virginia, there once were such things as spankings in school.) was on the occasion of my bending over another student's desk to help him with his first grade phonics. The target my posture afforded had evidently been too tempting to pass up. I recall being indignant: I had NOT been giving away answers; I had been explaining a principle! Mrs. Herman had remained unmoved.

This past year, my first bewildering, amazing, and utterly exhausting year of official teaching, I have doubted not only my own sanity but whether or not I had any business in the classroom at all. To my surprise, I think the answer is yes. Last Friday night was graduation, and as I sat in the nosebleed section at the back of the gym and watched our seniors crossing the platform and descending, diplomas in hand, I felt a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment. Some of them were my students, and I know that a few would not have walked that aisle if I hadn't have gone above and beyond what the job required of me--if I hadn't mercilessly badgered and hounded them, cajoled and cheered, teased and encouraged, reminded and ultimately demanded more of them than they had originally been willing to give. The grins on their faces as they hugged me after the ceremony helped restore the faith that had been slipping in the face of the last grueling week of classes. Yes. I can do this. And for them, I will.

They're worth it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Teaching Certification: Step One Complete

Tonight an e-mail arrived in my inbox telling me that I have successfully completed the requirements for ABCTE certification; I can expect ABCTE's certificate to arrive within the next ten business days. This is not the same as being certified by the State of Missouri's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), which will require a few more forms and probably a blood sample of my firstborn. Nevertheless, this e-mail lifts a large weight from my shoulders. The school district in which I've been teaching on a temporary certificate this year has hired me for next year--pending the acquisition of a state teaching certificate--and as I gasp my way through the rapidly rising crest of end-of-the-year duties, forms and activities, it is a comfort to know that I'll be doing it all over again next year, the dry erase and SMART boards, filing cabinets, bookshelves, tables and bulletin boards having become familiar friends by now, friends that I will be seeing for years to come, God willing and the creeks don't rise.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

On Green Beans and Household Appliances

When I was a child, all my toys and stuffed animals had names and distinct personalities. What's more, they were all creatures of real being to me; they each had feelings. I used to worry about hurting them if I treated them badly or even if I favored one over the others. My brother and sister tell me they had the same sort of perception and that, like me, they were slow to lose it. Even today we occasionally have to remind ourselves that the last head of lettuce left in the produce bin at the grocery store is only a head of lettuce, that is doesn't really feel abandoned or unwanted. Even so, it is sometimes difficult not to take it home out of pity.

We lay this bit of dysfunction at the feet of our mother, partly because as everyone knows, that's where one lays the credit for one's dysfunctions, and partly because she's the one who used to wheedle us to eat all our vegetables by moaning sadly, "Oh, look at the poor little green bean! All his friends are gone down in your tummy! He wants to be with his friends! Don't you feel sorry for him? He's wondering what's wrong with him that you won't eat him. Pooooor green bean!" Part of the time we thought she was a little loopy, but most of the time it worked. Well, it worked for awhile. Eventually my brother discovered that if he held out long enough, she'd offer him money to eat the poor little green bean. As for me, my initial eagerness to cooperate quickly turned into obstinate opposition when I figured out that there would always be another green bean, another bite of spinach, another bit of something to feel guilty over. My sister, eleven years younger than I, traversed the distance between sentimentallity and logic without my observance, and although she has obviously done so with success, I do not know by what path she traveled.

Last month our new washer and dryer were finally delivered. As I stood in the utility room looking at them, I realized they were looking back at me hopefully, eager to please, wanting to be liked. I patted the washer awkwardly on its top and ran my hand over the dryer's door gently. Nothing is quite so charming as an appliance that can't wait to be helpful. The Younger Daughter walked into the room and gave me a cheerful hug. "What are you going to name them, Mama?" she asked.

"I don't know," I replied, somewhat surprised. I've tried not to play the Poor Green Bean card with my children, and the fact that they persist in naming inantimate objects and treating them like people casts serious doubts upon the theory that personification of the inantimate is entirely my mother's fault. "What would you name them?"

She thought about it a minute. "Claudio and Hero?" she offered doubtfully, her brow knitted in thought.

We discussed a few more options, and after a short synopsis of the tale of Odysseus, we settled on Syclla and Charybdis.

Scylla and Charybdis have been working for me in the back room for a month now, and I have to say that they seem to work better for having been named. Certainly I've heard no complaints, and when I answer the urgent beepings that signal the ends of their cycles, their red LCD screens beam proudly up at me. Maybe there is something to the theory that inantimate objects can have some form of sentience.

But I'm still not eating cooked spinach.