The Entry That Almost Wasn’t

I don’t feel like writing an entry this week.

I’ve done pretty much everything but write this entry. I graded papers. I rearranged my desk. I watched everything on the DVR. I’m probably going to run the vacuum cleaner later. But I haven’t wanted to write this entry.

Right now, it feels like an obligation. Like one more thing that I have to do on an already-long list of things to do: car repair, meetings, gatherings with friends… Writing this entry just doesn’t seem as pressing.

I could opt out for the week. If I did, my #inklings crew would chastise me as I delivered their penalty drinks. I’d feel a little like I had failed them–accountability has a way of instilling a bit of guilt.

It’s not that I don’t know what to write. A good trick to get past that–for me, when I’m hand writing something–is to write “I don’t know what to write” over and over until your brain finally clicks from the boredom and your thoughts flow out of the pen.

It’s more like I’ve had a pretty negative attitude this week, and I’m afraid of what might appear on the screen if I really wrote what was on my mind. Stress has a way of loosening that filter that keeps you from saying things you might regret.

And it’s times like these when I have to remember my grandma (and now my mom) who always said, “Count your blessings.”

  1. I have friends and family I can rely on.
  2. I have a safe home with all of the amenities I need (and it doesn’t look like a construction zone anymore!).
  3. I have 2 awesome dogs who know how to make me feel better.
  4. I have a great job that promises something new every day.
  5. I have good books to read.
  6. I got to see this sunrise in person.
Sunrise over Lake Hawkins

That’s six. I feel a little better already.




Buried Lines

I’m doing a pretty good job of keeping up with my reading goals. In addition to reading during allotted class time, I’m also reading every night for at least 30 minutes, and I finished two AP-list books, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. I struggled with both books: Hurston used a precise dialect that I had trouble navigating, and Hemingway’s lack of commas drove me crazy. I also completed Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, a historical fiction novel set in 1950s New Orleans. Josie is probably one of the most confident characters I’ve met in a while, and I really enjoy Sepetys’ knack for fitting in the right line at the right time. (For more about the power of the right line, see Mrs. Friend’s blog about her encounter with Sepetys at the NTTBF in April–3rd paragraph from the bottom.)

On Josie’s 18th birthday, her friend Cokie gives her a very thoughtful gift. And with that gift comes this beautiful advice.

“Sometimes we set off down a road thinkin’ we’re goin’ one place and we end up another. But that’s okay. The important thing is to start” (163).

Josie’s dream is to get out of New Orleans. When she meets Charlotte, a Smith College student, she sets her sights on Massachusetts as her next destination. She wants so badly to leave the over-familiarity and oppressiveness of the place where she grew up, but she’s frozen by her own fear and perceived obstacles. Cokie’s encouraging words serve as a reminder that our plans don’t always go how we’d like, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t attempt them.

This wasn’t a welcome sign for me.

When I left my hometown of Coffeyville, KS, to attend college in Pittsburg, KS, I swore I would never return. As a mid-year graduate, however, my choice was made for me. I begrudgingly packed my things and moved back to the small town (not that Pittsburg was all that much larger, but it wasn’t Coffeyville!). I may not have known everyone in the town anymore, but it sure seemed like they knew me–probably because they knew one of my many relatives. I felt like a failure, but the luxury of hindsight reveals that what I saw as three steps backward was not nearly as bad as if I had never left to begin with. And having left once before made it easy when it was time to relocate to Dallas.

We don’t always know where the road we’re on will lead, but we have to take that first step if we want to find out.

PS: The whole line-discovery thing reminds me of “The Secret” by Denise Levertov. Authors don’t always intend for a line to carry as much weight as readers usually find in it.

On Books, Authors, and a Festival

“Every sunset is an opportunity to reset.” – Richie Norton

I’ve read 11 books since January. That’s almost a book a week! Four books were by male authors and served as a reminder that I should read more books by male authors (who are underrepresented in YA literature, in my opinion). Three books were nonfiction, which is impressive because that’s a genre I don’t often gravitate to. And two books helped me discover a new favorite author: Robin Talley. I was able to find at least 30 minutes a day to read, and I hope to increase that number (maybe 45 minutes a day) for the next nine weeks.

I’m currently reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (from the AP list). Their Eyes Were Watching God was really challenging at first because the characters speak with a very strong Southern dialect. While I’m used to reading about a page a minute, this book slowed me down so much that I became frustrated. I just got to page 50, and I’ve finally caught on to the rhythm, so I’ll keep reading. When I finish, I plan to read The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison as my second AP read.

I’m also reading Ruta Sepetys’ Salt to the Sea which is written from the perspectives of four different characters as they journey through World War II. I chose this book because the author is on a panel (along with Sarah Dessen and E. Lockhart) that will be presenting at an educators’ luncheon as part of the North Texas Teen Book Festival later this month. I’ve already read books by the other two authors, so I wanted to familiarize myself with Sepetys in case I run into her in the bathroom line or something. Here’s how I imagine that conversation would go:

Ruta: Hello!

Me: …

Ruta: [walks past me to an open stall]

As awkward as that moment would be for me, I’m still really excited about the event!



It’s time to bring this blog back to life. I began with the intention of sharing my experiences in migrating to a 1:1 classroom as my students received iPads. My focus changed when I left the physical classroom walls for the virtual world, and I found I didn’t have much I wanted to blog about. Now that I’m back in the classroom among real, live students (not avatars), I’m more inspired than ever to write and share what I know. I have a separate blog where I share the day-to-day activities in the classroom; this one will serve as a place to reflect and think ahead.

I ran across a list of interview questions for potential English teachers, so I think I’ll make each one the focus of future entries. Maybe that will help me get back in the habit of blogging and spark some new ideas of my own.

The first question is “What were you like in high school? How are you still the same, and how have you changed?”

I played somewhat of a supporting role in high school. I was a manager for the volleyball and basketball teams, and I rode the bench for much of my softball career. Two of those roles were chosen. If I’d had my way, I would have been starting at 2nd base or right field, but I wasn’t the best player for those positions. The experience taught me humility and patience, and those are two traits that I carry with me today. Academics were a different story. I enjoyed school, and I really wanted to please my teachers. I’m still that person, too, in a way. I like my work, and I want to keep my colleagues and supervisors happy. At my core, I really am the same person now that I was years ago.