I never promised you a rose garden…or a stapler

Cruising through my files, I stumbled across this blog post I’d written as an English teacher to high school juniors.  I’ve been retired for over four years now, but reading this transported me back to the classroom, to those days when I wondered if June would ever arrive, and to those students…many of whom have stayed in touch with me via Facebook. 

I remember having these actual discussions with my students. Now, with the perspective of time, I find them amusing. In fact, this was my giggle for the day.

DIRECTIONS ON HANDOUT:

  1. Write an essay consisting of five paragraphs.
  2. Staple this handout to the back of your paper before submitting it.
  3. Your essay is due at the end of class.

 

QUESTIONS TO TEACHER (ME) FROM STUDENTS:

  1. Does it really have to be five paragraphs? What if I write only four?
  2. Where do I staple this handout?
  3. Do you really want this stapled to my essay?
  4. Am I supposed to staple this to the back of my essay?
  5. I’m out of staples.
  6. What if I don’t finish? Can I take this home?

 

WHAT STUDENTS REALLY WANT TO SAY:

  1. If we barrage you with enough questions, we think you’ll eventually back off. We would rather listen to an hour of Frank Sinatra than write even fifty words on a sheet of paper.

 

  1. We know you told us at the beginning of the school year to purchase our own mini-stapler, but we either didn’t purchase one, purchased one and lost it, purchased one and broke it, and/or it ran out of staples five months ago when the kid behind me took it and emptied the staples, one by one, into my hair. I’ve passed any number of places where I could purchase more staples and/or a stapler, but I really didn’t have time to stop because Starbucks was about to open or close, and I needed to be there. Anyway, we don’t understand why you won’t allow us to use your stapler when we know you’re hiding at least two of them in your desk.

 

  1. Is the earth going to stop spinning if I staple the handout to the front instead of the back? Sometimes you seem just a tad bit OCD. We think, perhaps, we might be able to help you overcome that if we don’t always follow directions.

 

  1. We know we could finish before the end of class, but we have homework for Free Enterprise/Civics/Biology/Spanish/French/Geometry that’s due next hour. And, Heather didn’t have time in my other class to finish telling me what happened at Prom because she got all caught up in the fashion disaster that Missy wore and then the bell rang.

WHAT THE TEACHER REALLY WANTS TO SAY (and sometimes MAY say some of the below):

  1. Directions are entirely at your discretion. Feel free NOT to follow them; however, feel equally free to stand ready for the consequences.

 

  1. Students in 11th grade honors  should be able to burp five paragraphs in fifty minutes. That’s ten minutes per paragraph. If you think that’s not a long time, think about being poked in the eye with a hot stick for ten minutes.

 

  1. If you write only four paragraphs, that’s one less paragraph I need to read. See #1.

 

  1. Yes, I want the handout stapled to the BACK because I don’t want to read 100+ essays and have to flip the handout out of the way every time. You will need the handout when I return the essay to remind you of the directions. See #1.

 

  1. I told you in August that if you were old enough to sit behind the wheel of a moving vehicle traveling at 50+ miles per hour, you were certainly old enough and responsible enough to purchase, be trusted with, and use a stapler no longer than 2-3 inches.

 

For the record, I have THREE staplers. I purchased them with MY money. Years ago, I allowed students to use my stapler. Over that period of time, staplers were “lost,” broken, or abused. When it was time to submit papers, the room sounded as if it had been invaded by wildebeests galloping through the Kalahari when 25-30 students would simultaneously flock to my desk. It was uncivilized. And it wasted valuable class time. And it made ME responsible for YOUR paper. And so the entitlement program of free stapling ended.

 

  1. My directions may seem, possibly could be, OCD-ish. Wait until you fill out your first tax return. Ask the IRS if you can switch around the information. Let me know how that works for you.

 

  1. The lesson isn’t limited to the writing. It’s a lesson on being responsible, practicing wise time management, and following directions.

 

  1. Clearly, socialization is an integral part of the high school experience, one which I certainly would not want you to experience the pain of deprivation. So, to accommodate that need, we have scheduled special times for your bonding with friends. We call it before and after school, passing time between classes, and lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Wonder Woman

Have you seen Wonder Woman yet?

If not, no fear; this isn’t a spoiler. It’s just a few observations about the movie that I’ve found interesting and compelling.

I read an article on Refinery29 by Caitlin Flynn who quoted the following from a Tumbler user, Creative Words and Powerful Ideas:

There were absolutely NO eye candy shots of Diana. There were Amazons with aging skin and crows feet and not ONE of them wore armor that was a glorified corset. When Diana did the superhero landing, her thigh jiggled onscreen.

The husband and I saw the movie yesterday, and I have to credit this Tumbler user for an incredibly discerning eye because in the two hours and twenty-one minutes of watching Gal Gadot kick ass, I never once focused on her thighs when she made one of her superhero landings.

I get it though, the thigh jiggle thing. How the thigh gap has become a damn obsession among some women (maybe more among some men). So, if WW’s contribution to women everywhere is that muscular wiggly thighs don’t define you, then the $150 million production budget made it all worthwhile.

And, in what I believe is the most important takeaway from this movie, Gadot herself said (about Wonder Woman) in an interview with Sara Vilkomerson:

“She has so many strengths and powers, but at the end of the day she’s a woman with a lot of emotional intelligence. She’s loving.

And it’s all her heart—that’s her strength. I think women are amazing for being able to show what they feel. I admire women who do. I think it’s a mistake when women cover their emotions to look tough. I say let’s own who we are and use it as a strength.”

Amen.

Amazon rocks my world when…

their Marketing team sends me an email that my novel’s been selected for one of their Kindle Book Deals in June.

 

You can purchase it via my website Amazon shopping thingy above the Search box on my blog page or you can click HERE.

And thank you for allowing me this brief commercial in my blog posts!

I once was lost…and mostly I still am

 

Yes, this is spaghetti.

But, since we moved to Houston, it’s not only what my brain resembles when I try to figure out the interstates and toll roads, it’s a pictorial representation of the damn interstates and toll roads themselves.

Here’s what I needed to know as a New Orleans lifer to drive in NOLA: was where I was headed  on the lake side or the river side of the interstate, that going downtown really meant going up, and going uptown was down. And then we sometimes crossed bodies of water like the Crescent City Connection over the Mississippi River or the Causeway Bridge over Lake Pontchartain that connects the North and South shores. Learning the difference between a lake and a river should have happened in first grade, so even in Louisiana, distinguishing the two was rarely a problem.

However…We moved to Houston and suddenly I have to become a compass expert. I will own that I am directionally disabled. And, please, do not tell me things like, “Take the left by the blue house on the right, then when you see the gas station on the left, move into your right lane…” I lost you after, “Take the left.”

Last year, US News ranked Houston #4 in the top ten Worst Traffic Cities in America with an average of 74 hours spent in traffic. Honestly, if I could spend all 74 hours at once and know that for the remaining 362 days, I’d be traffic-free, I’d sign on for that.

Okay, I know you look at the map and think, “Good grief, it seems simple enough.” Of course it does. That’s part of the madness. Because, for reasons known only to itself, the Houston District DOT has done little to clear the confusion that arises from having two names for the same freeways.

So, I-610 can be North, South, East or West Loops, which requires knowing the direction you’re coming from and headed to or else you will find yourself making an endless loop around the city.  And the KatyFreeway? Oh, that’s I-10 West because I-10 East is also called the East Freeway.(Another blog, I’ll delve into this “outside the loop” vs. “inside the loop” caste system.)

Then there’s 1-45, which–praise God–is either only north or south. However, if north, then it’s North Freeway. You’d think I-45 south would be South Freeway, right? Wrong. It’s AKA Gulf Freeway.

Highway 290, at times the shortest distance between two points, is always a no-go for me because imagine trying to squeeze Play-Doh through a strainer with a few rocks thrown in for fun. Just not going to happen in any way that’s conducive to your sanity or your time frame. It’s also called the Northwest Freeway (along with a string of names far too unacceptable for this blog), and just for giggles, the exit ramp has been switched due to construction.

Beltway 8 and the Sam Houston Tollway are actually one and the same. As for 1-69 (which is the “old” 1-59), it can also be the Eastex Freeway or Southwest Freeway. I’ve also heard rumors of a Westpark Tollway that will circumvent traffic. Of course it does because no-one knows where the hell it is. I almost forgot; TX99 is now, in places, the Grand Parkway.

My children have been infinitely patient with me, especially when I call for directions and have absolutely no idea where I am. I just know enough to know I’m lost.

I’ve learned to ignore my Nav system which has some love affair with 290 and always directs me there. I’ve downloaded the Waze app though it sometimes directs me to the oddest places. Plus, she and my Nav System voice compete with one another.

Truly, I wouldn’t be surprised if any of my navigation systems have grown so tired of me, that I’ll hear, “Hey, you behind the wheel. How many times do I have to tell you to take the next left and make a legal u-turn because in the direction you’re headed, you’ll end up in New York, you idiot.”

But it’s all good because moving six and a half hours closer to my children is worth every wrong turn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you taken for granite?

This is not a self-portrait, though sometimes I think it could be except for the straight hair.

Since I’ve been gone from blog-land (which is a rather amusing  and only slightly self-serving opening considering my new novel is Since You’ve Been Gone), I’ve felt like this confused creature I saw one morning from my NOLA balcony. So many wires…so many possibilities…so many risks.

This past year, the hubby and I landed in a community outside of Houston to live closer to the children (they’re all over the age of 30; they should be called adult-tren). In the past eight months, I’ve seen our children more than we had in the past five years. I’m grateful that we have this opportunity, and I (almost) never take it for granted.

I can’t write the words “take for granted” without thinking about students who’d write that they took something “for granite.” I’d write, “as opposed to marble?” in the margin of their papers, and then they’d tell me, “that doesn’t make sense.” And I would say, “Exactly!” assuming they connected the dots.

Wrong.

And because I’m obsessed with analogies, and I learn best by making those sorts of connections, it occurred to me lately that there are so many life things I’ve taken “for granite.” Situations, where sometimes I assumed people were rigid and inflexible, uncompromising. And,often, they were. I’ve been surprised by times when I depended on someone or something to be solid and unquestionably supportive and discovered that even the strongest can crack under too much pressure.

I’ve come to realize that being taken for granite can be comforting in a way that taken for granted can’t be. If it’s because the wrinkles and the imperfections of aging have rendered the outside of me as having character, and the emotional storms I’ve weathered have made me strong in ways I never thought possible…then granite I am.