by thea marie
What's on my mind....
|It's just me, Marie, trying it again in 2009|
|I was on planning this morning, working on getting the materials ready for the day's lesson when the phone buzzed. It was the Airman, checking in via email from Korea. He had arrived safely and was letting me know.
Before leaving the States, he had his cell phone turned off to avoid having to pay international charges to his carrier. His plan was to have it turned back on over there, if he found that he really even needed it. As far as letting us know he had made it, we were sure that there would be phones available for him to contact his family once he arrived at the base.
Turns out he has internet access in his room. He hit me right up. From Korea to Kennesaw, no long distance charges, no dialing an international number and trying to get it right, no waiting for snail mail.
I feel a lot better knowing that even though he's on the other side of the world, he's just a "send" away. I'm sure he feels the same.
|I was in a parent/teacher conference this morning when my phone buzzed at my side. It was a team meeting, so there were other teachers present, and one of my colleagues was going over with the parent the child's work in her class. I had already said what I had to say, and this call was important. It was one I had been expecting.
I excused myself, and went through the door leads back into my own classroom.
It was my youngest son, calling from his seat on the plane taking him from Dallas to Korea. He said that I was the last person he phoned before the service was scheduled to be switched off.
He was scared. I could hear it and feel it, but all I could do was talk when what I really wanted to do was hold him for just a few moments more. But it’s probably best that we weren’t together. He’s a man now, and he didn’t need his mother tearing up and making him more apprehensive than he was at that moment. He can remember me hugging him at the Atlanta airport, when I was just Mom, and not the blubbering mess I would have been there with him in Dallas.
Instead, I told my son that I loved him, and that I knew he was going to be fine. I told him that he was having an experience at twenty that I still haven’t had in my life- that nobody in his family has had, and that he should make the most of his time in Korea. I urged him to do his best, to listen, follow his orders, and to learn. This is just the first folder in the portfolio of his life, and he should fill it with rich memories.
I didn’t cry until I was on the phone this evening with my own mother.
I called her to let her know that I had heard from him. She worries about all of her ducks. It seems; however, that the child had spent his last hour or so in the States, phoning and texting his loved ones. For some reason, the thought of him sitting there, all by himself in the airport doing that, touched something in me.
Seems like just yesterday, he was in short pants and high top white Stride-Rites nose pressed to the glass as he eagerly watched the plane pull up to the jetway… running to get a hug from his father as he emerged from the tunnel, home from one of his business trips.
Mom still calls him, “Pun”, short for Punkin.
I tried real hard not to let her hear that I was having a bad moment- she worries- but I think she did. She didn’t let on, though.
I’m glad of that.
|Still don't feel real well today. No appetite, the sight sight and smell of food making me nauseous. At another time in my life, I might have suspected pregnancy, but there's little chance of that being my problem now. The chances of that happening again were minimized years ago. This is some sort of bug, and I'll be glad when it leaves me alone.
My youngest son has been home on leave from the Air Force for the past two weeks. He flies out tomorrow morning on the first leg of what is his deployment to Korea. He will be stationed there for a year.
While I'm happy that he's not being sent to Iraq, I'm still nervous about him being so far away. I thought I was okay with it, but as reality has drawn closer, I've been getting that funny fluttering underneath my heart, kind of like that I had when I carried him inside me.
But this time the fluttering is the feel of his wings. We have done all we can to raise him to the man that he has become. It's time for us to let him go, and for him to be his own person. In a way, I envy him his upcoming experience. He is 20 and on his way to live in another country where hopefully he will have opportunities to learn another language, experience another culture, and add to his life portfolio. Such exposure, however it turns out for him, will expand his thinking, his knowledge base. It will enhance his perspectives. For that part of it, I am happy for him.
But a part of me is sad that the little boy whose hand I once held to keep him safe, no longer needs that kind of protection from me. That part of the job is done.
All I can hope for now is that the Air Force does well by him, and that he makes the most of the opportunity.
Since I have to take him to the airport before day in the morning, I have taken the day off from work. I plan to chill all day and try to shake this thing that has a hold on me.
|I thought it was just tiredness that kept me from writing last night, but it turns out it was a bit more than that. I'm pretty sure now that it was some sort of bug.
At IHop, having breakfast this morning, it really got bad. Nothing horrible happened, although it momentarily threatened to do so. I've been dragging all day today, and I hate it. Spent most of it in the bed.
It seems almost inhumane to have to be sick on a Saturday. And a sunny, relatively warm Saturday at that. What a waste.
|It's late, and it's raining. That's a good thing here in Georgia where we haven't had enough of it in such a long while that the lack is becoming a major concern.
In the spring, when the windows are open, the smell is refreshing. The air becomes clean and cool. Afterward, the grass is so much greener, the flora stands to grateful attention, stems and branches fortified.
I especially love when it rains at night.Unaccompanied by thunder and lightning, the soft rhythmic pelting on the roof and against the windows is soothing and strangely insulating. I'm happy to be inside tonight, snug and warm and dry, writing or reading.
The sound of the rain is lulling me to sleep.
|The lesson was on inferring main idea; how to go about developing one when it isn't directly stated in the text. The subject was Thomas Jefferson, his home, Monticello, in Virginia, his having signed the Declaration of Independence, and a few other things for which he is lesser known.
During the course of the lesson, the kids found out that he invented a machine that was like a plow for which he won a prize for ingenuity. They found out that he played the violin in his spare time and that he collected art and had a gallery at Monticello. They practiced skimming and scanning for information within the text, as well how to use details to infer a main idea.
I took the opportunity to introduce some new vocabulary and to reinforce words with which they might have been familiar in a Social Studies setting, but might become abstract in a setting outside of that: patriot, politician, patrician, diplomat.
One of the lines we ran into in the selection said that Thomas Jefferson also "had a hand in foreign affairs". Something told me that I should check for understanding of what that meant. After all, I teach 8th grade Reading, so there is no guarantee that the confident look on my students' faces or the absence of questions on their part as we proceed through the lesson is indicative of understanding of what we're doing.
I asked, "What does it mean when it says that he had a hand in foreign affairs?"
An arm shot up in the air, and I acknowledged it.
The little fellow replied in absolute sincerity, "It means that Thomas Jefferson messed around with foriegn women."
I was stunned, to say the least, at his interpretation, but I've been at this a long time, so I played it off, gently redirecting the response.
"Well, that's not quite what it means he did, but does anybody else have an idea? Look back at what is going on around that sentence. Can you get a meaning for it from the context?" (Another vocabulary word)
A second hand went up, a girl, one I thought it might be safe to call upon. I was wrong.
"It means that he cheated on his wife in foreign countries, like Europe and stuff. Or it was his girlfriend if he didn't have a wife."
When I picked my head back up from the podium from where I had lay it for a moment to ride out the throbbing in my temple, the assorted pairs of eyes staring back at me were amused, but at the same time, confused at my reaction.
They didn't have a clue.
After I explained what it really meant, I got a collective, introspective, "Ohhhhhh."
Do not take for granted that kids know what you're talking about all the time or that they understand what they read simply because they are a certain age or in a certain grade. Reading has been replaced by video, TV, MP3, Myspace, etc., and thinking, making sense of print material, not to mention vocabulary development are suffering as a result.
However, the babies do seem to have a solid grip on reality.
|Today was one of those days. One of those that I define as “gray”.
When it’s like this, I find myself sitting, staring, not accomplishing anything and not caring that I’m not. No matter what I attempted to do today, I only it got partly done. I just wasn’t feeling it. The entire day, I have been two steps behind everything and everybody, and I didn’t give a damn that I was.
To make matters worse, the atmosphere at work was thick with tension. Lately it’s as if the very air we breathe is toxic and everyone’s mood is being tainted by it. People cluster about in their little groups, bitching and moaning about things that when it’s time to speak up about them in the larger arena and perhaps get some resolution, they don’t say a word. I wound up having to shut down one of my very best friends who came to me griping about something that had gone on in a meeting from which she had just come.
My philosophy on unreasonable demands, pie-in-the-sky ideals, entreaties to do more from those who seem to have forgotten from whence they came is ‘I can only do what I can do’. The rest, I just say okay to, smile pleasantly and do what I was going to do in the first place. Fussing and getting upset about things, arguing back, disputing what they say only fouls my mood, and I’m not having it. I had issues of my own today, so I couldn’t take on anybody else’s.
I drug through the afternoon, keeping sane by journaling snippets of my thoughts at odd moments and faking pleasant when someone ventured near the edges of my personal space (I think the force-field emanating from my person kept them outside the periphery. Good thing.)
After work on Tuesdays and Thursdays the girls and I usually go to the gym and work out. Today my workout consisted of walking to the car, fastening my seat belt, pushing down on the gas pedal after turning the ignition, and driving myself back to the house. I soaked in the tub for over an hour, and then I sat down here on the side of the bed to “veg” and to write. The writing didn’t really happen, but the vegging went pretty well.
All in all, it was one of those days where I woke up thinking, "I should call off" even though I wasn't ill or tired. Therewas nothing wrong with me except I didn't want to get out of bed and face the day or the people or drama. I just wanted to pull the cover back over my head and stay right where I was.
Category of absence: Mental health day
It’s raining outside now. A fitting finish.
I’m going to bed and hope the gray is washed away by morning.
|A while back I set up a poll on this site after I realized that I was bypassing work that, in my opinion, wasn't very well written. I was interested to see if anyone else had the same issues as I had.
The theme of the poll was Why I Don't Review Really Bad Items".
The answer choices and the results were as follows:
When it's that bad, I don't read enough of it to make comment. /118
I don't want to hurt the writer's feelings by going into all the reasons why the piece reads so poorly. /91
It would take too much effort to offer the kind of comments/suggestions that would help the writer improve his/her work. /46
I don't like to appear overly critical when I give a detailed review. /42
I don't feel qualified to make constructive comment on such work. /30
For myself, I fell somewhere between the first choice and the second. When I stopped and paid attention to what I was doing, I realized that I was only reviewing work that appealed to me or that was already pretty well-written, in my estimation. I was avoiding the painful, and I was being lazy in not taking the time to find out what it was about the piece in question that was causing the pain.
This year I decided that had to change; I want to be a serious writer. Proofreading and critiquing is part of that process. The pieces I have been avoiding are probably the ones that could most benefit from an honest, detailed, objective review. Reviewing honestly, and taking the time to analyze what isn't working in someone else's work, I thought, could only help mine.
Since the first of the year, I have made it a goal to read and review at least two or three pieces a day. I try to vary the genre and to not pay a lot of attention to the quality. It's hard to be objective sometimes when something has already been rated by several people, but I have really been making an effort to be supportive and fair.
I devised a rubric of sorts to help me stay focused, and then I went for it. For the most part, for my efforts, I have received grateful responses, a couple of questions on an observation I might have made, some GP's, and the one or two simple "thanks" that read tersely, but that could have just been me. At times it's hard to interpret nuance in an email. For the most part, I have been satisfied with it all.
Yesterday; however, was another story.
In the course of my reviewing session, I came across a piece that was supposed to be a poem. From the glaring typo in one of the first few lines (broking instead of broken) to the overuse of commas, random periods, erratic use of capital letters, and the uneven, choppy rhythm, it appeared to me as if it had been thrown together in a hurry and then posted. It was new, had just been put up that day, and it had no ratings at that point. Despite all of its problems, however, there was an interesting message there, which is why I decided to review it.
I rated it low, 2.5, because of all the problems and because it looked rushed. I began with saying that I liked the message and that I thought the piece had potential, which I thought was positive. Then I detailed the suggestions I had listed that I thought might make it read better. I ended with repeating that I thought it had potential and inviting the person share it with me should he or she choose to do some revisions.
First, almost immediately, I received an email that merely said, "Wow!"
Right behind that email, I received another one asking, "Was it really that bad? I've never gotten a rating that low before."
I was writing a response, assuring the person that it wasn't about being “that bad” or about a rating; it was about all of us reviewing and offering suggestions for improving our work. The purpose of posting was not to reap empty praise, but to solicit constructive criticism. I told him/her that I thought the poem looked rushed and that it could benefit from, at minimum, proofreading with a fresh eye.
But before I could finish typing my mail, I noticed that I had yet ANOTHER email in my box. I finished typing, sent my mail. and then opened the one sent to me. This one was a very nasty, sarcastic message from the writer of the poem I reviewed. The person had gone into my port, picked out the first thing that looked like a poem and rated it a 2.5, claiming it had numerous grammatical errors, etc.
Since this all went down in a period of less than 8 minutes, I don't know how the person could have adequately reviewed anything in my port. The piece the person claimed to have reviewed had ratings of nothing less than 4 by several other people, and it had no errors in grammar or punctuation. (I went in and specifically checked to be sure.) What was done to me was done purely out of spite.
And for what? Because I was honest? Because I took the time to try and help with something that a month or so ago I would have clicked past?
I was pissed off at first. Not by the 2.5 or by the exchange, but more so by the pettiness and the waste of my time. I wrote back to the person asking why they felt they had to stoop to that. I asked why the piece was posted if it wasn’t for the purpose of seeking comment. A person has to expect that not all the comments received are going to be favorable. That's the chance that is taken when work is put out there for review. Smart writers take the useable comments and work with them, and they ignore the ones that aren’t beneficial. The numbers mean nothing. What's a 5 rating to one person might be a 3.5 to someone else.
But in my aggravation yesterday, all I could think was, "See, this is why...."
In my final mail, I promised the person that they would never have to worry about me reviewing or low-rating anything of theirs again.
But that incident won't stop me. Hopefully that incident was a random thing. I'm going to stick to the commitment I have made to myself and keep reviewing them as I objectively as I can.
|The first word out of my mouth this morning was, "DAMN".
Not the best way to start a day but I woke up, looked at the clock, and saw that it was 7:12 AM, which meant that I was way late getting up for work. I'm usually out of the door and have made it over to Chastain Road and am close to Old 41 by that time. I HATE to be late for anything. I'd rather be absent from something or somewhere than to arrive late.
My hear was racing, and I was pissed off with myself. I had the covers thrown back and one leg out of the bed when it hit me that it was Sunday, not Monday. I didn't have to get up. In fact, I didn't have anywhere that I had to be, on time or otherwise.
Relieved and gratified, I lay back down and slept like the dead for another hour.
The weekends go by fast enough without forfeiting a day to a bout of CRS in the process.
|I'm just back from a trip to Walmart, and I'm seething. I let something happen, and it's eating me alive.
Having picked up what I needed on the food side, my last item selected and placed in the cart, I was thinking of what I needed from the other side of the store. As I came to the end of the tissue aisle, there was a woman and a girl parked over to the right, at the very end. I steered around them and peeked out into the cross aisle to make sure that it was clear before I pulled out into it. As I did, I heard the woman say, "So rude", but it wasn't until I was actually turning that it occurred to me that she was referring to me.
I am kicking myself for not turning around and addressing her comment.
First of all, I think it was rude of her to jump to conclusions about someone she knew nothing about and then to make a comment loud enough for the person to hear. It was also foolish. In today's world, you really don't know what reaction you might get from someone. She was lucky she said it about me and not about someone who might have taken an even greater and more physical offense to what she said than I did.
I kept thinking about it, rolling it over and over in my mind, the teacher in me regretting missing that teachable moment. First of all, how was I to know why she was standing there? I doubt that anyone would have pulled behind them, thinking that that they were waiting to pull out. There was nobody coming from the other direction, so I went around her.
If I was truly being rude, I would have pulled right out into the path of oncoming traffic and cut anyone off who might have been going past. I didn't do that. I pulled out, looked, waited and then went turned out. If she thought I was being rude for pulling around her, I am sorry about that, but I think what happened was understandable.
Writing it now, it seems such a petty, small incident, but it's one of those things that pisses me off. People jump to conclusions and act out in the very manner of which they are accusing others. If she knew anything about me, which she didn't, she would never have said that about me.
Purposeful rudeness and boorishness are qualities I cannot abide. As a parent, I worked hard at rooting out that quality in my own children. I preach against it daily with my students. I would never be purposefully rude to anyone, even if I thought they deserved it. What I will do is tell a person about it when I feel they have offended me or someone else unnecessarily or if their behavior is out of line to the degree that it's causing others discomfort or distress.
I guess I really wish I had said something to the woman mostly for the sake of her daughter who really could have benefited from that teachable moment. She probably walked away thinking that her mother was right, and I was wrong. I think if I would have said what was on my mind, and kept my cool while doing it, I could have shown both of them something. Instead I kept quiet and stewed.
But then, in retrospect, maybe in that case, it was best I said nothing and went on with my shopping as I did. The keeping my cool thing wasn't a given.