Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Do or Do Not -- SOL Day 31

When I jumped into the Slice of Life Challenge this year, I wasn't really sure I was going to make it. I debated whether I should even make the attempt this year.

Words hadn't been flowing recently. Fatigue was wearing me down. Would I really be able to get through an entire month? Would I manage to have an idea every day? Would this be the year I just couldn't hack it?

I signed up anyway, and gave myself permission to not be perfect.

Maybe there would be a day that just didn't happen. Nope, I actually posted every day. 

Maybe some days my writing would be considerably less than stellar. Well, yeah. There were some days I just didn't have much in me. I put it out there anyway.

I wrote about
scouting and teaching
fandoms and feminism
frustrations and triumphs
endings and beginnings
geeky style and writer's block
weather and professional development.

Some days I feel like I had actual insight to share, and other days I just got something onto the blog.

Along the way I discovered that sometimes you just have to dive in and keep swimming. Will my momentum continue through the next few months? Will I discover other stories and get them on paper? Can we still say that if we type?

Do ... and keep on doing ... there is no try.

Come join the writing community at Two Writing Teachers. March is the official DAILY Slice of Life challenge. Someone is there Slicing (writing personal memoirs and reflections) every Tuesday. Let's Write! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Running on Empty -- SOL Day 30

Maybe I should just leave
this page
blank today?

My fuel gauge
near E.

One last little bit
of flame
flickers in
a puddle of wax.

Only embers
glow in the hearth.

The cupboard

I'm just going to
huddle under this
blanket for a while, okay?

Come join the writing community at Two Writing Teachers. March is the official DAILY Slice of Life challenge. Someone is there Slicing (writing personal memoirs and reflections) every Tuesday. Let's Write! 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Conversation Interrupted -- SOL Day 29

The influx of information on historical and current research and the increased connections with other feminists through social media have combined to make me extremely aware of some of the ways these biases impact me.

I've been fairly sheltered from the worst of the effects. I was born into a family where both of my parents believed I could be anyone I wanted to be.  While the church I attended as a child and teen had very limited views and held to the idea of traditional femininity, my parents never reinforced those strictures. I surrounded myself with friends who supported my passions and listened to my ideas.

Still, I know that the world is not perfect. Even with encouragement, I still self-censor to an extreme degree. I defer to the opinions of others more than I should. I am non-confrontational to a degree that stifles my own voice. Society, as a whole, reinforces the idea that my ideas aren't as valuable as those of the men around me.

I see women I respect online having their voices shouted down. I see them on the receiving end of horrific slurs and threats. I see women being taught countless ways to protect themselves, and many of those ways include silencing ourselves to prevent having targets painted on our backs.

In the recent past, I had one small incident occur which brought these lessons into my life in a more personal way. Thankfully, I was never truly in danger. Thankfully, it was just one little slap in the face. And yet... it was a reminder of how far we still need to go.

**** Conversation Interrupted****

A few colleagues and I were sitting in a public place, discussing education topics. Of course, the discussion came around to the hot topic of the Common Core standards. Our discussion was friendly, and we were just talking about the positive and negative impacts the standards (and the resulting testing) was having on our professional lives and the lives of the children we teach.

Suddenly, a man walked up to us and began to engage in our discussion. He wasn't a fellow educator; just someone who was in the area. My first response was a little bit of discomfort, but I'm fairly introverted and I'm often uncomfortable when strangers jump into my conversation. My colleagues seemed fine with his questions, and one of them happily responded to his initial salvo of questions and opinions.

It didn't take long for him to start altering the conversation to fit his own agenda, though. He began with something along the lines of, "You realize the common core is part of the communist agenda, right?" and it rapidly went downhill from there. He completely hijacked our conversation and made it about global conspiracy theories and his beliefs about economics. He told us repeatedly about his graduate degrees and expertise, and seemed especially happy about that once he realized our educational backgrounds were focused on... well... education.

Even though we all have master's degrees,  and one at the table has a PhD, he kept talking on and on about the things he felt HE knew that we didn't. He loomed over us, essentially trapping us at the table.

After about 5 minutes of him altering the conversation to fit his desires, and him basically just talking AT us instead of having a conversation WITH us, all three of us began to give all the social signals that we were no longer interested in this.

We stopped making eye contact. He kept talking.

We occasionally pulled out our phones to text people or engage in other activities. (I began live-tweeting my discomfort with the tag #WomanInPublic to help me manage my rapidly increasing level of stress). He kept talking.

We tried to pull the conversation back to our original discussion. He jumped it right back to conspiracy theories that would make your toenails curl.

Finally, about thirty minutes later, we realized that we really did need to locate a speaker who hadn't yet signed in for our event. We began rapidly discussing this fact and pushing papers around on the table to emphasize that we had actual things to do that didn't involve his theories.

He. Kept. Talking.

One of my group left our table to take care of an item of business. She made a point of giving us a task at the table that made it clear that we had things to do.

He. Kept. Talking.

I've mentioned I'm not comfortable with confrontation, right? One of my twitter pals suggested that I get up and start waving my hands in front of his face to tell him that I really wanted him to stop talking now. Yeah, that wasn't going to happen.

FINALLY, after almost 40 minutes of him lecturing us about his favorite topics, he walked away. He actually walked out the door and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Maybe his initial impulse to come and chat with us about common core was a good one. Maybe he had other reasons for feeling we owed him conversation that day. Maybe his "graduate degree waving" wasn't designed to prove he was better than we were, even though that's how it came across.

I've been socialized so strongly that being polite and kind is the way to be that I didn't see any other way out of this situation. I was frustrated. I was angry. I was stuck. Thankfully, I never felt like I was in any actual danger. There were no threats, no gender based slurs. This little taste of powerlessness was only a tiny glimpse into what other people face every day.

Come join the writing community at Two Writing Teachers. March is the official DAILY Slice of Life challenge. Someone is there Slicing (writing personal memoirs and reflections) every Tuesday. Let's Write! 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Beginnings -- SOL Day 28

Today my youngest went on his very first Boy Scout outing. They took a day hike through Valley Forge.

Last night we spent a feverish hour or so making sure he had everything he needed. We went through the items on the emailed list and laid it all out on the table one by one.

Jared's first Boy Scout event - prepping for the Valley Forge hike!Daypack found?  -- Check
Camelback bladder? -- Check
Compass? -- Check

Brand new, spotless Boy Scout book so he can get signatures for the things he'll complete? -- Check!

Wait! We need to make a first aid kit so he can get checked off the list?
-- umm.... *digging through random medicine cabinets to locate all the items* -- Check!

His older brother walked by occasionally and chuckled. As an "old hand" at this process, he felt like he knew exactly what he had to stash in his pack, and only put a few extra items in under protest.

When I picked them up after the hike today, I knew it had been a success. Both looked wiped out but content. They claim that "almost everyone" whined a lot about how tired they were.... but not MY boys! Here's hoping that they were really as cooperative and enthusiastic about it as they claimed to be.

Come join the writing community at Two Writing Teachers. March is the official DAILY Slice of Life challenge. Someone is there Slicing (writing personal memoirs and reflections) every Tuesday. Let's Write! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Loosening the Reins -- SOL Day 27

My students love to perform.

I've offered a drama unit every single year that I have been in my current job. I don't think there has been any other enrichment unit that students have consistently insisted that I include in our rotation every year.

My students love variety.

So do I. That's one reason why I tend to not offer the same topics more than a few times! Drama, though, gives me the chance to change it up every year. Even though what we DO is the same, the products are completely unique.
My students love to create. I've learned to let go and let them.

The first few years of drama were fun, but gave me no surprises. I picked the scripts. All of them. I wanted to be sure we had plays that would be just perfect for our audience of first and second graders. Not that my choices were flawless. The first year, one of them was an excerpt from Little Women. Sweet, right? Yeah... the little kids had no idea what was going on. Thankfully, we also had some fun and silly ones to share.

Over the past three years, I have loosened my grip. Over the last few years, I gave the kids the chance to write their own scripts. For my 3rd and 4th graders, I did insist that they create adaptations of picture books. We had fun reading lots of great stories and figuring out how to evaluate which ones would make the best plays. With the same amount of time in our unit, giving the kids the chance to do their own writing meant that we had less time to actually rehearse. It was worth it.

This year's troupe was so much fun. Each group spent the past few weeks tweaking the little bits of "off script" additions to their speaking lines. Sometimes they jumped right over the nonsense line - but they were so gracious and responsive to my suggestions. They wanted to keep adding lines and props and bits and pieces right up until the "curtain" rose.

Today, my most recent group of thespians took the stage. They had silly costumes and numerous cardboard boxes for sets and props. It was marvelous! Some of the groups filled their performance with physical humor and sight gags. These, of course, made the primary grade kids roar with laughter. Others thrived on hysterical little aside lines that made us all chuckle in appreciation. I loved seeing each of my kids shine with their own brand of action and humor. For some of them, this was their first taste of the stage. For others, it was their final curtain call as my dragonlings. They all worked hard, communicated well with their teammates, showed initiative and flexibility, and took the kinds of risks that will serve them well as they move on from my care.

These kids, my friends? These kids are something special.

Come join the writing community at Two Writing Teachers. March is the official DAILY Slice of Life challenge. Someone is there Slicing (writing personal memoirs and reflections) every Tuesday. Let's Write! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thankful for Who -- SOL Day 26

Today marks a very important date in geek history.

Ten years ago today, Doctor Who came back to the television landscape. While I didn't hop on board the New Who train at that point, I'm so happy that the continuation of Doctor Who was successful.

Every Whovian has a least one Doctor that becomes "their" Doctor. Christopher Eccleston quickly became my Doctor. I've loved Tennant, Smith, and Capaldi. They each brought something amazing to the role - by my first Doctor is embedded in my heart.

This video uses the speech that gave me my first Whovian chills. The other clips are from the entire first season. Join the New Who nation!

Come join the writing community at Two Writing Teachers. March is the official DAILY Slice of Life challenge. Someone is there Slicing (writing personal memoirs and reflections) every Tuesday. Let's Write! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Stylin' -- SOL Day 25

I'm not exactly a fashion maven. I'm the kind of shopper who gives up quickly, and my color matching ability leaves just a bit to be desired. There's a reason my pants are all variations on plain tan or basic black. I'm pretty sure I can match anything with one of those. Do you know if anyone makes Garanimals for Grownups?

UntitledMy "style" runs to geek casual, if I am left to my own devices. I own four pairs of Converse. My lovely Batgirl. Plain white in homage to the 10th Doctor. Red hightops (umm... 10th Doctor AND the librarian in The Archived). Grey pinstriped because... umm... they reminded me of one of the 10th Doctor's suits. I may have a small problem here.


Yes, I also own multiple pairs of superhero socks to pair with my sneakers or hide under my nicer shoes to give me a secret smile. I have trouble resisting a great new tee-shirt, especially if it features a science fiction character or butt-kicking lady I love. I may have recently purchased both the shirt on the left due to my excitement over the Lady Ghostbusters movie news AND a shirt that is still in the mail that features Agent Carter in her amazing red hat.

My sister takes me shopping whenever I see her. She convinced me to buy a pair of cute brown boots to wear over my skinny jeans. Who knew that jeans were supposed to be tucked INTO boots? I know I had no idea!

UntitledSo if you ever see me sporting a look that isn't all that stylish, just smile and nod. Maybe flash me the Vulcan greeting or tell me that you hope the "Force will be with me".

If I'm staring a bit too intently at something you're wearing, it's because I'm working hard at figuring out some esoteric bit of fashion sense that you were born knowing. How do those infinite scarves work, exactly? Can you wear brown boots with black tights? Where the heck does the blush go?

When you spot me wearing an outfit that is something YOU would consider wearing, rest assured that I probably didn't pick it out myself. Spare a thought for my patient sister or loving husband, who take the time to lovingly guide me in the ways of adult lady gear.

Hey, look! I figured out that scarf thing!

Come join the writing community at Two Writing Teachers. March is the official DAILY Slice of Life challenge. Someone is there Slicing (writing personal memoirs and reflections) every Tuesday. Let's Write! 

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