Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening Day, 2008

There's something wrong with nearly 7 inches of snow on Opening Day of the baseball season, but we went, we had fun, and the Twinkies won. We're off to a good start. Pictures are rare on my blog, but the snow in the first couple is quite memorable.

Friday, March 28, 2008

(Yes, I changed my template)

Pretty, huh?


In the most cliche way possible, I often state I love teaching for those few and sometimes far between moments when I know I am changing someone or helping them in a way that will forever cause them to remember me (isn't that what we all want? to be remembered?).

I have a student now who is touching my heart. They all do in their own way, I suppose, but this one has reached out to me, made me feel wanted/needed/special. A junior girl in my Communication Theory class was in a car accident last June (three days before my wedding, actually; odd to hear stories of people I didn't yet know during the important times of my own life; she was in ICU, I was walking down the aisle...). D. suffered a brain injury that may affect her forever, though they are still unsure. She was hit from the side and the window, being only half rolled down, lodged into the side of her head. Right now she suffers from memory loss, ambient focal disorder (background noise is an impossibility for her), and most upsetting, flashbacks. Twice she has had to get up and leave the room (her best friend is in the class with her and always accompanies her) to go suffer a flashback in the hallway. She feels and sees what she saw that night. Each time she has one, however, she always remembers a little more.

I make accomodations for her: testing alone, late assignments, extra help, whatever she needs. D. says the hardest part of all of it is not just how much her brain has changed, but how aware of it she is. Before her accident, she was a star athlete, straight-A student. She says, "I didn't understand how people needed to study; how people couldn't read faster. Everything was always so easy for me. Now, everything is a struggle." This, perhaps, one of the reasons she's touched me so. I am like that, too: fast reader, eager learner, most everything comes easily. She told me the one thing she's learned from her accident is to be thankful every day, not for being alive, like so many other accident victims, but for the God-given abilities we have and might lose at any time.

D. has been in my class since the end of January, and I have been helping her and getting to know her and listening when she needed someone to talk to. All good. Wednesday, however, she stayed after class. "Mrs. H, I was wondering if you could help me. I want to write about my accident, but I need a reason. Are there any writing contests you know of?" Well, the only one I knew of off-hand was a local poetry contest, but I told her I would look and we'd work on it together. She came in yesterday with timelines, journals, and ideas. I had a list of not just contests I'd found, but many scholarships that would suit her as well. "Scholarships! What a great idea. That would really help me out with all the medical bills we have now." We sat for forty-five minutes just talking about it. She told me everything she remembers and about how an image or a smell or sound can trigger new memories. One: when she went to a Twins' game in September, seeing the Metrodome flashed the images of her descent in the helicopter onto the roof of the ER, as she could see the Dome then. We talked and talked. I told her that everything she just told me could be written down; write everything down, feelings, memories, lessons, reactions, etc. and together we could edit it and make it sing.

It's exciting, being asked to help her with this. D. also warned me when they go to court next year (the accident was indeed the other guy's fault), I might be asked to testify on her behalf, having seen how the accident has affected her. But I am also worried I will let her down. What if she doesn't win any of the contests or scholarships? Our time of course will not be wasted, I think her writing about it will be very therapeutic, but I want her to get something out of it, too. I'll keep you posted on her progress. And if you know of any writing contests or scholarships she might be eligible for, send them my way :-).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

So much

Indeed it is perplexing why I've tapered off of the blogging so strongly in '08. I have lots to say, many jumbled thoughts constantly keeping me up at night. I should blog about teaching, about my husband, about the pups, about my trip to the great state of Arkansas, about my friends, books I've read recently, movies I've been watching, recipes I've tried, but I just lack the motivation right now. I want to be more like my friend Molly, who blogs daily, if not more. Cheers to you, writer.

I will say this: I wish with fury the snow would go ahead and melt (and stop altogether for some in the southern portion of the state). It is darn near April, for heaven's sake. March has been all lion, no lamb. It has four days to make it up to me, but sleet is expected this weekend. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Another one for the collection

Some stories from the classroom are silly; some are hilarious; some are downright laugh your ass off, often at the expense of the kids (for those of you who’ve never heard my cleat story, see below, where I have copied the original email from three years ago). Yesterday, I had another great one to share:

When we have “late start” days, the staff comes at normal time and does random staff development stuff and the kids come two hours later for shortened classes. However, fourth period remains its normal length, which is already ten minutes longer than others, because of the split lunches. So, in my fourth period, when the lesson was over (scheduled for 30 minute class periods), we played Catchphrase. If you’ve never played this game, it’s basically get your team to say the word (or words) you get as fast as you can. I allow gestures, too. So, in a class of mostly rowdy teenage boys, the adorable, yet ditzy cute girl of the group gives the following clues:
“Okay, so girls wear it”
“A bra”
“No, without a bra”
“No…um…it’s white”
“Tank top….Camisole…underwear”
“No, you lick it”
“What?!?! You lick it? And you wear it?”

“Yeah, girls wear it….like in movies”

At this point we’re all laughing, thinking she is of course crazy, or as often happens, reading the word incorrectly. Alas, time runs down and the other team gets the point. So, we ask her, “What was it?” And she says, plain-faced, as if we’re the stupidest people in the world for not guessing it, “Whipped cream.”

No fooling. After much laughter and disgust, we moved on, but that is something she will never live down in that class. Not to mention, there are about 800 other ways to approach that item than sexually. The fact that her brain went there first disturbs me on many levels. But it was damn funny.


Story from three years ago:

So, here I am on a Friday, correcting 2nd drafts of my seniors' compare/contrast papers, while my 8th-graders work silently. I come to the last paper. A softball player who is pleased the season has begun has decided to compare Nike cleats to Adidas cleats. Not the best of topics, but I really don't put much restriction on it. The following are excerpts from her paper VERBATIM. You will soon know why I burst out laughing and simply couldn't tell my 8th-graders why.

"There are many differences between Nike and Adidas. Anything from comfort, support, and durability is important. This is what every girl should know before buying clits. Comfort plays a huge role in clits. You need to make sure they feel fine, because of the work you will be doing in them."

"You need clits to last about two years, because you should be getting a lot of use out of them. All clits get holes worn in them. Mine are on the inner edge, near the front toe."

And finally...

"When it comes down to game time, you might want to think twice about the clits you choose."

Ahhhhh, spelling. It just makes life more fun.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Here I am, there I am, everywhere I am

So, it has now been over a month since I last posted, and enough people have mentioned it to me that I guess I should at least note that I’m still alive. Barely. But alive nonetheless.

I think I have seasonal affective disorder. At least a mild form. Or I have “ready to kill my speech team” disorder. They’re about the same, right? It’s been a stressful month, either way, hence the Saharan status of my blog.

Some notable moments from the last month:
1. Ash Wednesday. We attended a new church on the recommendation of the pastor who wed us in June, Pastor Steve. We enjoyed the very small church, and they enjoyed us, as over half the congregation came up to us to introduce themselves and welcome us. We went back on a Sunday two weeks later, and people remembered our names. We’re unsure if it’s a right fit, however, as we were not moved by the sermon and are not 100% sure we like the complete openness of it. We’ll see.
2. Valentine’s Day. My darling husband gave me a Ralph Lauren Romance gift set and chocolates. Then we went to dinner at Granite City and Best Buy to purchase Guitar Hero. Then we played GH the rest of the night. We are a simple people. I got him a surprise gift that is not in yet. He reads this, so I can’t say.
3. Floating. I tried the floating tank at the wellness center where I get massaged. It’s also known as a sensory deprivation tank; you can check it out online (just Google floating tank). It’s supposed to be good for depression, aches/pains, insomnia, and just general meditation. I found it to be rather stressful. I’m afraid of the dark, for one thing. I couldn’t get comfortable, as my instinct was to hold my head up. There are 800 lbs of Epsom salts dissolved in the water, so you can’t sink, but my body wouldn’t give into that. The more I tried to relax, the harder it was. Then I sneezed and got some of the water in my mouth. YUCK! I think I might give it another try, but it’s yet to be seen.
4. General speech drama. Crazy lazy speech kids are winning the battle of my heart that has been raging against lovely devoted speech kids. I have had people skipping practice and tournaments, people quitting, and just recently, a drug dealer. Aces. I’m going out of my mind. Enough said.
5. License renewal. I renewed my teaching license. I have completed all requirements of the CEUs and got my new license in the mail, good until 2013. Five years goes really fast.
6. Began planning (officially, finally) trip to NY. The gang is headed to New York City to visit our friend interning out there, as well as to pay homage to the temple of baseball: Yankee stadium. We booked some great deals on airfare, and tried in vain to get tickets to the Yankees. Hopefully, we’ll have some luck in scrounging up some tickets in the coming months. Either way, it’s going to be very fun.
7. Illness. I’m currently battling another cold. This is the third time this year I’ve missed more than a day of work due to illness. It’s driving me nuts. This time it started at the Wild game on Tuesday of this week. It was fun, despite their loss and my spiral into illness. I missed the second day of conferences last night because of it, but that might actually be a perk…
8. Finally, very importantly, Angie. If you don’t know Angie, my Angie, friend for more than 10 years, you should. She’s pretty cool. But without too many details, you should pray for her. Her family is in hard times, as her mom is very sick. She’s been dealing with the news for three weeks now, and a surgery and its recovery period for one. Just pray. It’s the best thing we can do. Thanks.

Other than those things, life has been pretty normal. Perhaps the warmer weather will inspire me to update more. But wait, it’s below zero today. In the weeks to come, when snow has turned to mud and speech season comes to close, I will indeed find more motivation to put theoretical pen to theoretical paper.