Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Last week I was in Chicago for NCTE. I think Chicago is a beautiful city, mostly because I love the architecture. I have read a little about some of the early architects and have taken a tour that taught me a little  about the styles. Mostly I just think it all works so beautifully together.

Later in the week, I had a few hours (not nearly enough time) to visit the Chicago Art Museum. Again, it was just a feast for my eyes and my soul to see such lovely art in person, to consider the creative genius and the technique involved in creating art and objects that would continue to move viewers centuries after their creation.

The day I returned home my daughter had a new baby girl--not my first grandchild but that doesn't make her any less special. My son-in-law sent me a photo in a text message, but it wasn't good enough. The next day, I got the chance not just to see this little doll but hold her, too. Much better than a building or painting. I could hold this beauty in my hands!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

fitting writing in

This is my life: multiple screens open simultaneously and more tabs open on the bottom. I am frantically writing my presentation for NCTE this week when I realize that it's Tuesday! And I didn't post last week! I can't let another week go by without posting. I need to write this kind of writing--and I feel that I owe it to my students since they post regularly, too. So, I stop to write this post. Quickly.
 My NCTE paper focuses on what English Journal has had to say about writing instruction over the 100 years of its history. Ironically, the part I am working on right now revolves around a heated debate on whether English teachers should be writers, what it means to be a teacher-writer, and if we are different (better?) writing teachers because we write. So, I am writing my paper (and powerpoints--hopefully without typos, but the pace of work lately has made me a less careful typist and proofreader! Embarrassing!) and thinking about being a writer and I stop to be a writer. Does my blog make me more of a writer than the paper I'm writing for a conference? Or the books/articles I write? Or is it the other way around? I think my writing/attempting to write makes me a better writing teacher, but I remember when I taught junior high: there wasn't a lot of writing time available. I snatched moments. Now with this blog--and emails, and texts, and wikis, etc.--I am "writing" more than ever, but does all this writing count? What writing makes a person a writer? Or does it matter?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

scary story?

I'm not a very good story writer. I can hardly get an idea, and when I do I immediately see all the problems with it. So I don't write many stories. But for our writing prompt last week, we read a couple of the examples in Half-Minute Horror--and then I asked students to write a short scary story. So I had to do it, too.
 What feedback would you give me?

It's Halloween week, so of course all the shows on TV have an appropriate theme--ghosts or zombies or unspeakable creatures bent on unheard-of terrorizing. I watch, but I get a little creeped out. Silly. I remind myself that the stories are just for fun, not really scary, not really real. Tonight is no exception. Castle--and the murderer appears to be a ghost. So there are all the appropriate creepy images--skeletons falling out of closets and slamming doors and lights flickering. During commercials, I mute the sound. Now I can hear the sounds in the the house. Creaking. Just the house shifting. I tell myself not to be silly about it. Happens all the time.
Tapping. Branches against the window. The women in the shows always ignore the sounds, too, while I yell at them: "Why are you standing there, ignoring the sounds?" Stop thinking like that.
Bang! A car backfire. Silly me.
Thud? No explanation comes to mind.
I am being silly, creeping myself out because of a dumb television show.
Thud, again, like heavy footsteps coming slowly upstairs.
But the doors are locked. It isn't possible.
I am sitting in bed, book on my lap, remote at hand. Do I have time to check the bedroom door, to see if it's locked? Thud. Closer.
And a shuffling sound.
I throw off the covers, jump out of bed and run toward the door. Just as I reach for the knob, it turns.