Found out today that my plan for world domination has come to fruition. I’m pretty sure the planet isn’t ready.
That is all.
Found out today that my plan for world domination has come to fruition. I’m pretty sure the planet isn’t ready.
That is all.
Well it’s over. The glorious, frustrating, and rejuvenating AWP 2013 conference has come to its close. This AWP has probably been my favorite as far as conference enjoyment is concerned. Every panel I sat in on was fantastic. I, once again, am leaving Boston with motivation and energy to go hard or go home in regards to my tenure track professor goal. I am even more sure that I need to get the hell out of teaching high school, because I feel more at home with the AWP crowd, despite my inability to bond with them, than I do anywhere else.
It is so strange because as Missy and I search the conference for the worst and best hair and outfits, I know we both find ourselves not wanting to be anywhere else. We might mock the pretentious and sometimes overly enthusiastic moderators (was anyone else witness to the moderating train wreck at the Amy Bloom-Richard Russo reading?), but let’s be honest, we wouldn’t mind moderating such a great pair of writers. Albeit, I don’t know if we would be as star struck as the moderator seemed to be. At the end of a day of conferencing, it seems necessary to seek other Bostonian neighborhoods in order to escape the AWPers; however, the next day we return for more.
I perused my old posts for 2012 looking for a post on AWP and realized that I hadn’t written about my Chicago experience. While Missy and I had a great time exploring the city, I found the conference to be a very difficult experience. I hadn’t gotten anything published in 2012, I hated (and still do) my job, and it seemed like everyone around me at the conference was doing something awesome. So and so had gotten blah blah blah to write a blurb for their book, this press had just published whoever’s novel, and so and so was on a panel with yada yada seemed to be the only kinds of conversations I heard. While I can truly say, I was not jealous that these strangers had success, I was deeply upset with myself for my lack of effort and very epic failure.
This year however, it didn’t seem as tough to hear the same exact conversations knowing that the editor of one of my pieces was sitting at a table at the book fair. It wasn’t as tough knowing that this year (and it’s early March) I have done more writing than I did all of last year. I have also submitted more work this year that I have ever in writing career. That feels good–okay it feels awesome. It’s nice to know my s*$& is coming together.
I’m not saying things are peachy in my world, but they seem to be looking up. It’s like I’m failing better, so I’ll just put that in my pocket. If I can keep it up, AWP may actually start feeling good and less painful. Last year, I hit bottom and while I’m by no means close to the top, I am at least starting to get glimpses of sun.
Well, Beantown is but a few hours away. Firstly, the American history nut is so excited. And my inner Thoreau is pleased to finally be able to visit Walden Pond. I’m also excited about the conference. I’ve already seen several AWP-types at the airport discussing their novel and dossier. Oh brother.
Regardless, I’m pumped.
Well, things have settled down over here. I still can’t believe that when I get out of work I can’t call my mother, but it’s starting to become a part of my routine, so I guess that’s good. I’m grateful that AWP is this week because AWP is always the best distraction. Husband’s work gets crazy this time a year, and he’s gone a lot. AWP is a nice transition/distraction to the craziness.
I’ve been submitting my work these past two months and have already submitted for March. I have an essay I’m working on for the end of March, so hopefully I’ll have a few new publications soon. I was hoping February would be as successful as January. The first place I sent something to repsonded almost immediately (like four days) and so I January was a great way to kick of the year. Tenure track resume by October. That is goal.
I’m looking forward to Boston. I’ve never been and am an American literature nut so it’s fun to think I’ll be in a city that discuss so often when I teach.
I love AWP; it’s always such a rejuvenating experience. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the bullshit of teaching high school and forget that I’m actually writer. It’s been my mission this year to reclaim my inner artist. I told my students today that I was writer first (which was dumb because they are sixteen and don’t get it and one kid said, “you can’t be a writer, you’re not published.” It felt good to inform said student that I was, in fact, published. I wanted to add, “you little s*&!, but I do need the job to pay my bills. That shut the kid up.) I don’t want to be a bad, or even mediocre teacher, but my end goal is not high school. It’s college-level and not community college, but four-year university.
Husband is always reminding me to not settle in my career. I’m glad I have his support. He understands that putting forth tons of effort into a job like teaching is not beneficial. It’s all about the writing.
I’ll try to post from Boston this week. I wonder how many of you readers will be there. Maybe you’ll start up a random conversation with me (I’m very much a talker) and not even realize it’s me.
See you in Boston.
It has been entirely too long since we’ve spoken and for this I apologize.
I am pleased to announce that the paper was a success, despite my amateur knowledge of journalism and inexperience, as well as a lack of support from the administration. I now have a small amount of knowledge about journalism, media law, and AP style. Oh, and I can sort of use Photoshop now. I hope all you’re seeing is what I like to call “resume building” or “lines on the CV.”
I also managed to survive teaching a night class at the college, but have decided that I will not be doing it again this spring because my waistline paid dearly for the late night dinners and my ability to stay awake past 10 was beginning to wane.
Husband and I also survived our first year of marriage without any major issues. We still love each other and can say we are more successful in our marriage than over 70 percent of celebrity couples. In case you’re not sure, I made that statistic up. Pulled it right out of my a&$.
Husband and I also spent our first Christmas together. We were with my family and spent quality time with Frankenmommy and Black Sheep sister. I think he was a little overwhelmed at how much food there was and how much talking at the table over coffee went down, but he survived, and I’m so grateful he was with me. I needed him by my side when my family got a little crazy and mildly negative and somewhat depressing (post to follow). I think he enjoyed it. It’s tough to tell. I’m not sure how well I will fare when I’m not with the crazy Italians for the first time next Christmas.
Looking up, it seems as if this semester hasn’t been so bad, and yet I still dread waking up to go to work and do not enjoy cooking, reading, or writing nearly as much as I have in the past. I feel as if my identity is slowly slipping away from me. So in an effort to regain who I am, I have made the following resolutions. They aren’t necessarily new year’s resolutions because I’ve been working on them since October, so please cease with the eye rolling, I get enough of that at work.
This is how I reclaim my identity…
And so these are my goals. They are lofty and ambitious, but I’m feeling feisty this year.
In November of last year, the high school where I teach at got a new principal. The previous principal, the one who hired me, was loved by all of the staff. He was easy going, wasn’t a micro-manager, and was one of the most approachable principals I’ve even worked with. As our new principal took over, the staff seemed uneasy and unsure of what the following year, this year, would bring. The new principal didn’t make any major changes last year and sort of just went with the flow. Things were good.
Oh how the tables have turned.
This summer our new principal brought in new assistant principals that were moved up from the middle school where she’d been the principal earlier. I call them her cronies.
And now I am currently living in micro-management hell.
For the past three months, I have felt heart flutters and a crippling pressure on my chest. I dread reading emails and get depressed on Sunday night knowing I have to go back to that place.
I do, however, have WONDERFUL students this semester. I’m not even being sarcastic for once. They are wonderful. They high five me when they come to class, they seem excited to be in English class, they do their work, they eagerly discuss the literature with gusto and enthusiasm. They aren’t jerks. I’ve only written ONE referral. They are an English teacher’s dream.
They, of course, will be awful now that I’ve said good things.
Anyway, as I was making copies yesterday, one of my fellow, veteran English teachers came into the planning room. We started talking about the school year, our students–you know teacher-talk and he said, “We’ll get through this.” After he said this, we sort of joked and headed our separate ways. I got in my car and it really hit me, the mood at school among the faculty is that of an oppressed nation. We get late slips for being a minute late–not an exaggeration, I’ve received five of them– we get emails about how to write referrals, in faculty meetings we are show videos of “high caliber teaching,” (a post to follow on the video and the late slips to follow) and we are constantly being treated like a bunch of uneducated, moronic monkeys.
This type of oppression is very common among public school teachers. My father, a teacher for forty years, consistently complained about the issues he dealt with as a teacher. The complaining definitely increased over the years. He was so relived to retire this past summer. In the wake of the Chicago teacher strike and movies like Won’t Back Down and Waiting for Superman, teachers are often given a bad rap–some of it is deserved–but should teachers–or anyone really–be forced to work in such oppressive conditions?
It is very easy for administrators to forget what it is like to be in the classroom and have unrealistic expectations for their faculty. The teachers are in the classroom everyday dealing with the variables that are often ignored by society and administrators when it comes to student performance. Teachers have to cope with variables like students from broken homes, homelessness, negligent parents, and hunger–just to name a few. We are then shown footage of teachers team-teaching in affluent schools with classrooms with less than twenty five students. I have three classes of over thirty five students, and I teach in an urban school where affluent is a far reach. Frankly, these kinds of expectations are insulting to those of us who teach students whose last priority is school and first might be helping their mothers pay rent. It is insulting and patronizing to know our leaders–our administrators think we are not planning engaging lesson plans. Oftentimes, I create awesome lesson plans that blow up because half of my students do not do their homework or talk through the instruction beforehand.Also, engaging lessons with thirty seven kids is very challenging. It’s frustrating.
Administrators forget because many of them only taught for two or three years before becoming principals or assistant principals. Oftentimes, they are handicapped by the district to have certain expectations of their faculty. Although, this year with our administrative changes, it is very evident that our leaders have no faith in us. The administration dictates to us what needs to be on our white board, where it needs to be placed, how to write referrals, how to structure our ninety minute class, and on and on.
It’s depressing as hell and frustrating. The little bit of creativity that I have is being completely stifled and my contributions, all those extra hours I spend being a teacher beyond what my contract pays for, are not appreciated. When I get to my work thirty minutes before I need to, but am them one or two minutes late to a duty post, publicly shamed for not being at that duty post, then leave two sometimes three hours after my contract day ends, it makes me feel like not showing up and forgetting the whole thing.
If America wants good teachers, there are some things society needs to consider.
1. Treat your teachers how you’d like to be treated.
2. Appreciate them for all those extra hours they spend being teachers after the school day.
3. Stop treating them like they don’t know what the f*&! they are doing. They know what the f*&! they are doing.
4. Remember that teachers spend every damn day with the kids: not the principal, not the assistant principal, sometimes not even the parents spend as much time with their own children.
5. Remember that teachers are educated. Stop treating them like kindergarteners. They are professional adults. They are already under paid college educated adults, how about treating them like they’ve earned that degree?
6. Stop wasting their time with extra bull crap. Let. them. be. teachers.
7. Remember that they are human. Just like you are human, they are human. They have feelings, families, struggles, and challenges, just like you do.
8. Stop vilifying them for the under achievement of the students. Teachers are not the villains: the broken homes, absent parenting, and disrespect by the media are the villains.
9. Instead of making changes to education every five minutes, wait ten and let the teachers show you what they can do.
10. Let the teachers do their G-ddamn job.
I am not dead, contrary to popular belief. Instead, I foolishly decided to teach at the community college at night, volunteer like a mother effer at school, and am now the newspaper adviser at the school. Also, I’m trying to soak up some me and Husband time before we decide to reproduce.
I’m busy goddamn it!
Why? Do you miss me?
I’m sure you’ve heard about the shooting in Colorado by now. If you haven’t here is the link from CNN.
I don’t ever comment on the news, politics, or anything that might be slightly controversial even thoughI am news obsessed But this morning I just couldn’t take it anymore. I have to get some thoughts out of my system and send them out into the universe.
When I turned on the Today show this morning, I was shocked and deeply upset by the news of the theater shooting in Aurora. I sat down with my coffee and oatmeal and couldn’t eat or drink because I was crying. I even stopped to say a a few Hail Mary’s, because I didn’t know how else to react. I don’t know any of the victims, but I am fellow human.
And, I have to say, for the first time ever, I’m a little worried about leaving my house to go to a place where there may be crowds.I’m not agoraphobic. I enjoy crowds and being around people. I did attend the Jon Stewart Rally in D.C. and had general admission tickets to Gaga for crying out loud. Crowds don’t really bother me. I have also attended midnight showings of Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, and a few others. Never would I have imagined something like this happening at a movie.
While what happened in Colorado is tragic and abhorrent, I also feel deep sadness for the people in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and of course, Israel. Yesterday, there was a suicide bomb attack in Bulgaria yesterday that killed a bus full of tourists. I mean, what the hell? It seems there is so much turmoil everywhere, and I just hate it. I feel so terribly helpless and sad. The thing is, those international events of violence are part of a revolution, and while they are tragic in their taking away the lives of the innocent, unfortunately death and violence are a product of revolution and of course religious extremism (which is a whole other topic and I’m not about to digress). I don’t like it, I’m not justifying it, but I get it. However, my brain can process violence caused by war.
Shootings in schools, malls, college campuses, and movie theaters; random killings of innocent people just because–those kinds of massacres make me afraid to produce children. These events make me want to build a bunker so I can shelter myself, my family, and my friends. Acts like this make me question my faith in God and in humanity.
I think one of the reasons that makes a situation like this so upsetting is that the killer showed warning signs, or had a manifesto, or was bullied. Of course, oftentimes society doesn’t get an answer because the killer was shot or took his own life. At least in the this case, society may get answers, although to what end. Knowing his motive isn’t going to change anything. It didn’t change the way we felt in Norway when Anders Behring Breivik shot 69 teenagers. It was only more upsetting to find out why he murdered those teenagers who were at a camp learning about tolerance and diversity.
Of course, even though I’m tempted to hide and never come out of my house, I know that is not going to be happen.
I was a senior in high school when 9-11 occurred. A club I was involved in had planned a trip to New York. We had been planning it for almost a year, and our club sponsor had no intentions of canceling the annual trip. The trip was scheduled for 3 weeks after the attack, and we were all weary of flying. Some of the parents pulled their kids out of the trip. My mother did not. She wanted us to go. I asked my mother why she wasn’t pulling my sister and I out of the trip and she said, “One Mean MFA, when it is your time to go, it is your time to go. You can’t stop living because of tragedies. If that was the case, you’d never live your life.”
I remember thinking she was wrong. I wanted her to come with my sister and I because I was afraid. Of course, the minute I saw Ground Zero (still smoking from the attack) I knew how important this trip was and that it was going to shape me in some way. I remember a few things very vividly from Ground Zero. I remember the smell, the energy of the place–there was such a sorrow in the air (cliche, but how else can you describe the feeling of death all around you?), and I remember the disdain of the native New Yorkers who shouted at our group for stopping to see Ground Zero. One man shouted at one of the teacher chaperones telling her, “this isn’t a tourist attraction. Why don’t you go see the Statue of Liberty instead?” She countered by saying, “It’s important for them to see this. It’s important.” He was hushed after that. That visit to Ground Zero was a lesson in the evil that lives on this planet. That humans are very capable of destruction. Still, time moves forward, people heal, and life goes on. The Earth continues to spin with the good and the evil together. There isn’t much we can do about it.
What happened in Colorado is simply devastating and, quite frankly, frightening. Acts of terror, like the one this morning, can happen anywhere; in a small suburb outside of Denver, on a college campus like Virginia Tech, at a high school–anywhere, at a mall–anywhere. That’s what makes them so horrifying. Where is the next one going to happen? Still, I know I can’t go hide for eternity to avoid being a victim in something tragic. As Husband, so eloquently put it, “something is going to get you.”
Even though these events make me question humanity, seeing the victims being interviewed is shocking, some discussing bravery, remorse, and regret not sure why they were spared while a friend or family member was not shows me that not all people are bad, most are just victims of circumstance. Of course, the media finds ways to make tragedies about politics discussing how the Obama campaign and Romney Campaign have pulled attack ads in Colorado–as if they are doing the people of Colorado a favor. This isn’t about politics, this is about the tragic human condition. The same is true for Bloomberg who is calling for Obama and Romney to explain how they would prevent attacks like this. Can’t society be given a time to process this before we decide who the hell we’re going to vote for?
Tragedies like this are tough on everyone: victims, the families, politicians, and society. The responses to these acts are just as tough. The news is calling on “experts” to discuss gun control and speculate on motive, and analyze how this will impact the election in November. Meanwhile the rest of America is wondering if it’s okay to go see The Dark Knight Rises, not necessarily because they are afraid, but if it’s socially acceptable now that this tragedy occurred (what is the etiquette in a situation like this?). Then, of course, there are people like me who are deeply concerned with the welfare of humanity and know only one way to put a Band-Aid on the symptom: say the Rosary.