I formatted my "adaptation" of the play I'm working on, and it clocked in at SIXTY PAGES. What the heck. And I thought I was just getting going. What's the final page count gonna be - a hundred and eighty?! Ah well. It's a first draft. Looking forward to finishing it - and to revising it! I have strategies. And I'm revisiting some of the best realistic plays I've ever read/seen, to study up on dramaturgy even more. Even though I submitted the first 30 pages to my homecoming workshop, which is just weird. I didn't even touch it, through there are glaring problems. (Was being hounded by a deadline.) I have opinions about getting feedback about chunks of work. Or giving feedback on chunks of work. I honestly don't really understand the benefit of that, except to hear or say "keep going!!!!" But... but. Another area of educational reform, perhaps? ;)
And I'm going to try to finish it this month. OKAY, I'm GOING to finish it this month. I AM. Priorities. I've put off my own work long enough.
Also am going to finish the horror screenplay I started a few years ago and got more work done on last summer.
Two more days of grading, first.
COME QUICKLY, SUMMER!!!
I definitely WANT to keep up my teaching blog but I kind of don't have time to do both. I mean, yeah, I probably do - but I've neglected this one. And this is my blog blog. Dang, I've been doing it for something like 8 years. Crazy! And it was Xanga before that, ha.
Today is the last class of the semester, and most things are pretty much wrapped up. I don't have summer classes lined up. I like to work, and love to teach, but this is all good - I need to get some writing done. Especially if I get into that PhD program. But I will miss my students. And being at school. I was finishing up some conferencing yesterday and one of my older students mentioned "taking down the construction-paper bulletin boards, boxing up the textbooks..." and I just put my head on the desk and said "I MISS that", because I was full-on decimated by that glorious memory from grade school. Then, it was exciting that school was done for the year, yes; what I more enjoyed, though, was how the school was filled with a sense of anticipation and novelty. It was like the feeling from the days we had classroom parties because of whatever holiday. And doing those end-of-the-year things were almost liturgical, but in a festive sort of way. It spoke to me just as much of what was to come as to what had been done. None of it felt over. And in the present, with my head on the desk, I was smiling, because it's just so abundantly clear to me that I have always loved school. Always. Even the rough parts - like math class, when my teacher didn't teach me, so therefore I thought I couldn't do it. There's always renewal, because there's someone else around the corner who might help, who might hand me something new.
I'm definitely (profoundly) interested in educational reform - because I want things to be as good as they can be, not because I think things are irrevocably broken. Times change, and the adaptations aren't always adequate or beneficial. Mostly, I'm interested in teacher-training, so that both teachers and students benefit the most from the educational experience, and no one feels confused or unsupported in a process that should be safe, instead of fraught with fear and worry. Which, I hope, would include better compensation for all educators. So it bothers me, the times when I hear from students that they haven't been supported by teachers. Granted, I know to take these stories with a grain of salt, because human nature, and because it's irrational to jump to polarizing conclusions based on secondhand information. And I also know that there are a great deal of excellent teachers out there. But I also know that some of the stories are true - if at the very least, because what students tell me is their actual experience, which I can't dismiss.
One of my students told me recently that he had reached out for help, and a teacher told him it was not his problem. This broke my heart. I mean, it really did. And made me angry. A student's problems are always, at least to some degree, an instructor's problems. Teaching is not a business. And I firmly embrace my background and practice of humanism and the faith teachings of my particular faith tradition: when somebody asks for help, you help them. You help them. A teacher might let a student fall, but a teacher should be there to help the student up. I'm not a parent, but I feel it's similar. You don't tell your toddler, splayed on the floor after trying to walk, reaching for you, that it's not your problem.
Anyways. This student also told me he'd pray for me, and he is Muslim, and this made me cry. In a good way. I'm going to be political right now, by the way: I'm thinking about some of the national attitudes towards others. The other. And all I can think about is the Good Samaritan, and who he helped. A good Samaritan is not a basic, random do-gooder, like the phrase sometimes now suggests. A good Samaritan is a person who goes beyond what is comfortable, socially, economically, and politically, to care for someone in need. Which I think is key. Also, what is key, is not knowing who you help when you help them - we want our help to be qualified, as if there has to be a demonstrated need, that is in keeping with our values, before we help. That's not how helping works. We don't know what all a person is experiencing. They might never tell us. But we can assume their pain is as deep as ours, their burdens just as oppressive. There are no comparisons in helping, no competitions. No person is an island, except every person is an island if they feel that no one cares.
I've seen that helping has long-lasting effects, and I've also had so many experiences, the effects of which I will never know. But that is benefit enough - the possibility of there being anything better, even if just an instance or a moment, because I said, in my heart, "it is my problem".
So anyways. I will miss my students this summer, but I will not forget them, and I hope they've wrapped up the semester feeling good about themselves.
And I'm looking forward to the fall. Even though it won't precisely include buying fresh new school supplies (scratch-n-sniff pencils, mint-scented paste, flexible packages of wide-ruled notebook paper...) or fresh new school clothes (pink Nikes and bubble skirts and slouch socks...). Though, to do an obvious call back, I might just have to bust out some construction paper, and at the very least carry it around and sniff it, like some sort of junkie - because I am. IN A GOOD WAY.
I freaking love school.
I don't understand, will never understand, how one day there is nothing going on in the trees and on bushes or on the ground - and next day it is so lush and green and pink and EVERYTHING. And the pink and yellow and red of the flowers and flowering bushes are EVERYTHING, like I've never seen them before because I've grown up on the tundra. Like I am a missionary kid who has spent a lifetime in Siberia.
So is walking up to my childhood home and remembering I probably won't get to do this much longer. So is doing so to go to a beloved friend's funeral. A beloved mother, a few days before mother's day.
Lucy is sitting on the edge of the couch, on the armrest, playing on my phone. Biff's favorite chin-spot. She's squishing organisms with disease. I just looked over at a DVD on my dad's sidetable and it's the documentary Life.
STOP IT, EVERYTHING.
But I'm home. So I don't really need to look to find meaning, because it's already here.
Sad reason to be back a bit earlier than I planned, but I'm grateful.
And dear Bridget, I know you are resting in peace, and I am glad. But we are sad not to have you here.
Last evening, and this morning - two separate times, two separate things - I was reminded that quality of life is also measured in how much I attend to what matters to other people. Two missed chances. I'll never get them back. And that's all I really want, in this moment.
So I'm charging myself to pay more attention to what I put off. To not wait until I'm less busy, or feel more up to it. To pay attention to what the smaller voice says, instead of the loud, melodramatic one. And despite myself, do the things that "have no slight or trivial influence/On that best portion of a good man's life/His little, nameless, unremembered, acts/Of kindness and of love."
On the first day of LouLou's birthday, Value World gave to me:
4 silk scarves
3 bucks or less
2 from Vera
And one from Schiaparelli!
You cannot imagine my bliss. I live for these words. Along w/Pucci.
Silk is sumptuous.
SUMPTUOUS, I tell you.
And who is LouLou? The new baby in my life. She will be spoiled by me, and I, along with her mother, will teach her The Ways of the Thrift. Hugest congratulations to my dear Ashley on her little Louise!!!
...and I also found a Lucite napkin holder for a buck. I thought it might do nicely for the scarves.
And now I'm going to go rest because I'm under the weather still. But I had to celebrate LouLou by thrifting (briefly) in her name. :)
It is spring, and the attic is a good place to be, when it's raining. Or anytime, that's not a super-sunny summertime, because then it's just like getting into my black Honda Accord that's been baking in a parking lot in July.
I have a pure beeswax candle burning, in hopes that it would impart delicious beeswax smell. Not so far - but it's got a lot of space to cover. Maybe I should light it in a teeny-tiny room. Maybe I should take it camping.
The semester is wrapping up. Because of that - and the flowering trees - I've been thinking about the spring I got in my Ford Escort with my grandma and drove to Indiana, to join my aunt and two cousins on a tour of the Mitchell-Lilly relations, in Kentucky, Ohio, and North Carolina. I was 18. We were all in one Lincoln Towncar, but that didn't matter, because I was the largest one of the group, and not particularly large, at that. It was still rather bare back in Illinois, but as we got further into the south, there were a lot of what my grandma would call "redbud" trees. I knew this, because she essentially pointed out every single one she saw, saying "look at that redbud!" in her light drawl, and then bask in its beauty, this tiny happy woman in the front seat. She had good company in my aunt, who was just as exclamatory. I don't think I was particularly put-out about these exclamations, but the repetition amused me; each tree was basically THE FIRST REDBUD THEY'D EVER SEEN. But, repetition was the way. I made the mistake of passing one of my mixtapes to the front, which included "Rocky Mountain High" by John Denver, which my grandma wanted to listen to three times. Kinda funny to me, now, as she lived then and lives now in close range of the Rockies, but is straight-up from West Virginia - yet we didn't listen to THAT song three times, or at all.
I've taken a few walks recently. And somewhere on probably the dozenth tree or bed of flowers, I realized I was pointing to all of them and exclaiming. "GRAPE HYACINTH! I'VE NEVER SEEN A BIGGER BED OF GRAPE HYACINTH!" "LOOK AT THAT CRAPAPPLE TREE!" "THE TULIPS ARE OUT THE TULIPS ARE OUT!"
Granted, I wasn't shouting. But that's how I felt about them. Um, exclamatory.
I live in the city. So country roads won't exactly take me home.
Unless I'm remembering epic roadtrips with Helen Lilly Mitchell, whom I miss. Grandma: I see redbuds.
Spring called for rearranging the living room. I only have this picture, though.
Spring also called for re-potting my plant. That Carra gave me. When I started graduate school at Illinois State, and lived in an apartment on the 2nd floor of an old, huge farmhouse, which was also occupied by my friend Sienna (downstairs), and a huge family of whistlepigs (way downstairs, in the ground). Biff was a puppy. The apartment was huge, and strange - technically one bedroom, it had more like two, or three, if you counted the weird room in the back that used to be the bathroom.
My bathroom had a window in it. And a bathtub.
I got the front staircase, which was pretty majestic. I also had the attic, if I had ever gotten the guts to rip off the wood paneling. I regret not doing this. Who knows what would've been up there - it was enormous.
A previous tenant had turned the backyard into a riot of a garden. Not in that it was funny, but in that it was amazing, and rather labyrinthine. And gorgeous, in the spring and summer. Someone had to come keep it up; I don't know who it was. No one bothered to tear it out. I was glad. The groundhogs were glad. Biff was indifferent. The skunk that hung out there occasionally, was perhaps also glad.
Those were two of the best years of my life. I love them particularly, because there is no baggage attached. I decorated everything in pink, basically. I studied up a storm. I hung out with my pug. I grew up a little bit. Not as much as I probably should've, but oh well - I got an amazing education.
And my plant is still with me, though it started as a little tiny thing. I don't know how I managed to keep it alive. Other plants have come and gone.
This one better last forever.
Man. I'm so out of touch w/ye olde bloggyng voice. Probably because back when I did it a lot more, I was obviously less busy - "busy" - and needed some kind of outlet. Since I don't really journal. Or do much autobiographical writing.
And I don't know what to do with the term "busy". I feel like it's a catch-all term that's lost its meaning, if it ever had much to begin with. I have a lot to do - sometimes. It comes in waves. I certainly can make my schedule busier by saying Yes to everything and/or feeling like I need to do more. I look forward to not being busy, but then I get messed up if I spend too much time alone. The summer threatens that; I'm already trying to remedy it in advance. I wish I was better at hobbies. As in absorbing tasks that don't involve a of shopping but give me a sense of meaning and satisfaction. I have issues with that sometimes: finding meaning and being satisfied. I have a feeling I'm not alone, but it feels very lonely when that's the place I'm in... yes?
I am going to mess around w/soapmaking this summer. And mild perfumery, since it's expensive, all those ingredients. Maybe some cosmetic-making as well. Along with writing. I don't have any classes lined up this summer, which is a first. And a good thing, honestly, since I taught 11 classes the last two semesters, and have 5 comp ones lined up in the fall. Am going to do odd jobs, which I like. Painting my parents' house, for instance. I do like rote work like that. I'm a freak. I was thinking about the time I spent the summer cleaning out their garage, and how much I loved that. ?!? I have a feeling I would highly enjoy house renovation, if that's the only thing I had to do. Perhaps I missed my calling. As a construction worker.
Started Screenwriting Club yesterday; it was great. I'm working on two horror movie ideas, one of which I've been chewing on for awhile, the other of which is new and unbroken. (I like breaking stories; sounds violent, huh? Kind of is. But only for my BRAIN. But it's great fun to tease out a world, all from my conscious and sub-conscious.) I also enjoy teaching it. I did two workshops for the Dramatist's Guild last weekend, one on dramaturgy, and it was also great. I'll still be doing one-on-one dramaturgy, but I have to remember to focus on my own, as well. Haven't done much writing, creatively, for myself, this last year (though have written a good deal, and I'm not complaining; it's been great. SO MUCH GREAT STUFF).
Well. It felt very satisfying to write this, which is satisfying. This is partly why I feel kind of wacked-out a lot of the time: I think about thinking. A LOT. It certainly has its benefits, but it can also get kind of... dysfunctional. Hence: hobbies, writing, rote work. And it's all good.
And hopefully I will keep on bloggin'. :) I certainly plan on it!
And because I apparently don't take many pictures of myself anymore, here is a pic of a something I happened across at my parents' house over Easter. Mr. Hamster Has a Snack.