cell phone self-portrait

cell phone self-portrait
things are looking up

Monday, March 28, 2011

Thinking About My Father

This one's raw.  My feelings are all over the place when it comes to the man who married my mother in Washington, DC in 1964 and was there to (welcome?) me into the world in December of 1965.  I don't like him most days lately, and I haven't liked him on many days in previous years... I've had a lot of deeply held resentment, embarrassment on his behalf, frustration, and a sense of his having little or no regard for who I am.  And those were during the years when I actually knew where he was and had some sort of contact, communication, and relationship with him.  From eight years old until I was twenty-five, I had none of the above.  Those were the lost years, and I don't really know how I feel about them except that I was aware that he was absent. It takes a lot of energy to think about this.  I'll have to come back to it and write a bit at a time.  For now, here's a song that makes me think of my father.  It's from a whole movie about a father and son, in fact, called Smoke Signals.

Father and Farther

Friday, March 04, 2011

What I Should Be Doing

I should be grading, answering student e-mail, or planning tests and next-week lessons.  I should be cleaning the house.  Here's what I'm doing instead:

Reconnecting with my sister-in-law (who is now my "ex" sister-in-law but will always just be my sister in my mind) by reading the blog I didn't know she had.

Enjoying the fireplace and some sweet tea and occasional glimpses of whatever adventure movie my husband is watching.

Checking Twitter for great tweets to retweet and adding my own from one of the books I'm reading, including I Am a Pencil:  A Teacher, His Kids, and Their World of Stories.  Right now the author recalls teaching Stevens' poem "Thirteen Ways to See a Blackbird," and leading students to create something similar by describing something simple in different ways ... a tree, for example.  I decided to write one about a drummer but haven't finished it yet.

Here's one of my favorite lines from the original poem:

I do not know which to prefer.
The beauty of inflections
or the beauty of innuendoes.
The blackbird whistling
or just after.
I understand what the poet means because the crisp silence that comes after a bird's caw is just that... crisp, bare, open for anything.

I'm also playing some Facebook games here and there, such as Zynga Poker.  I have over a million dollars and 36 current requests.

Well, what do you know... I've just opened my work "homepage," and I may actually get something done now that I've written myself toward it.  I've graded one student's work and answered her e-mail.  It took me all of one to two minutes.  More importantly, I now have this student's face in mind, a vision of her in class with a smile, and the awareness that I don't know her well and don't talk to her much one on one.  Her grades look good; she's got a high "A."

Hey ... I just found Levar Burton and William Shatner on Twitter because they had sent tweets to each other.  Now I'm following them both.... so cool.

Back to my students.  I had to write a corrective e-mail to a student who didn't follow directions for her assignment and did not submit it properly.  Instead, she turned in the wrong material and did so by e-mail.  I feel my impatience, my irritation as I write her back a version of the same note I have to write so many times a semester to so many students, like this:

I don't know what this is.  Which class are you in?
You were supposed to...
I don't accept this by e-mail. (If I'm feeling fed up) or I typically don't accept this by e-mail, but I'll make an exception.
You've missed the deadline for this; you'll need to do extra credit to make it up.

Another student has written in with another kind of repeated question that requires a repeated answer:

The material you are looking for is ...
I explained this in class, so please ask one of your group members.
I sent an explanation via e-mail to the whole class.  Please check your e-mail.

That's all the student e-mail; I've knocked it out, and now it's time for a break.  I might even go to bed soon and see if I can get some snooze.