I shopped at Target today for the first time in almost a year. I’m bummed about that, but I only spent ten dollars and it’s not like I’m going to be shopping there regularly.

I’m flying in November and I’m bummed about that too, but my choices are limited. Of more concern to me is how I’m probably going to put my kid on a plane in two weeks, flying alone, and I really, really don’t want her going through the backscatter machine (not so much because of the nakedness but because of the radiation, though obviously the nakedness business is not so wonderful either) and I’m worried about her opting out and being manhandled. I’m taking advice, information, anecdotes and all else on that, if you’d care to leave some in comments.

I’m on the eve of finishing up my first year of teaching. It’s been a crazy ride, ninety eight percent wonderful and maybe the best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. The children, the method, the environment I’m fortunate enough to be in…it’s all beyond anything I could have dreamed up for myself. I feel about it the way I sometimes feel about Sophia: like I can’t say anything because I’m too fortunate and it’s not fair to anyone else because so many people have children with problems or children they wish were different or children living with terrible traumas. Just so, my job is great, and the world is full of people in horrible jobs that are grinding them down little by little and also full of people who can’t even get jobs and really want them and it just doesn’t seem right to go on and on about my happy, idyllic, peaceful, Montessori classroom (or my happy, smart Montessori child). I feel like I’m skating the meniscus of perfection and that shouldn’t be possible, right? Some other shoe has to be waiting to drop, right? Narrative law says so. I just know that in all the ways it counts (sense of purpose, love of life, general contentment and daily challenges that uplift instead of knocking down) I’m in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.

So I’m not sorry I gave up on writing. I am sorry in the sense that giving up is lame, lame, lame. I acknowledge that. And I didn’t give up in the sense that I’ll never write anything again. I still have this novel and a few short stories hanging around, coming into my mind on my daily commute. So I still want to write, but I’m not sorry I stopped doing it for a while to teach. Besides, I get to tell stories any day I want to. You should hear my story about papyrus, or the one about Henry Hudson, or the one on the peace crane. You should have seen the look in the child’s eyes this week when I gave her the lesson on storywriting. Three sentences long, but if only you could see her look of wonder. First, I wrote: “I went to the beach. I built sandcastles and played in the waves.” Then I said, “Now, when you are writing a story, you may write anything true. Anything that happened to you or that you want to write about. Or…you can make something up.” Then I add the last sentence: “At night, I heard mermaids sing.” I don’t know what it feels like to have a big publication credit or to sell a book, but I’m betting it feels like when that child reads that sentence and her eyes lit up like the whole planet just unwound before her, full of possibilities. “Which of these sentences did I make up?” The one about the mermaids. Yes. That one. I made it up. And so can you.

Oh, and the real reason I started this post? Trader Joe’s stopped making cashews and hibiscus and I loved them SO much. This is my perennial problem with Trader Joe’s. They make something I love, then stop.

When my mom was here last, she offered me her hand mixer. That thing is older than I am, and that’s saying something. It’s also all chrome retro-future rocket shaped. Just looking at it made me taste seven minute frosting, which is what I usually got to lick off those beaters as a wee thing. She warned me that the beaters only sort of stay in, but I couldn’t resist it. I donated my hand mixer (which was a wedding gift, so I’ve had it a long time, but it was pedestrian plastic and purely utilitarian, although it had a ton of attachments, unlike what my mom offered me, but then again I only ever use the beaters) to goodwill without another thought.

Today I pulled it out and used it for the first time. It was gorgeous and cool and the banana bread I made with it is utterly delicious.

I know full well that life is not about things. But this particular thing? This mixer with all this history handed to me by my mom? Pretty cool right now.

  • What I purchased on Black Friday:
    1. Lunch for me and my family at the Blue Elephant: $30
    2. Gas: $19.99
    3. A pack of gum for my daughter and a York Peppermint Patty for me: $2.25

      So, you see, to the tune or $52.24, I am doing my part to keep this great consumerist state going.

  • Things I am no longer doing, and glad for it:
    1. Shopping at Target
    2. Reading new Gene Wolfe

      I love “Seven American Nights” and “The Death of Dr. Island” and “The Tree is My Hat” and “Golden City Far” and always will, but the new stuff doesn’t work for me, and I don’t want to have to take Wolfe down from the genius pedestal, so I’ve decided I’ve met my Wolfe quota for this lifetime.

    3. Flying

      There’s only one way to call bullshit on the latest incarnation of security theater, and that’s to refuse to play the game. I don’t have to fly anywhere, and I’m not going to.

  • Things I am no longer doing, but wish I were:
    1. yoga
    2. writing
    3. composting (the composter was among the things destroyed during the work on the house, and I don’t yet have a new one)
  • Story types that have to overcome my prejudices to get bought at PodCastle:
    1. Stories about 9/11
    2. Stories about New York
    3. Stories set in China or Japan, written by Westerners or containing talking animals, Samurai or ninjas
    4. Stories with untrustworthy worldbuilding
    5. Stories without sensory details, other than the visual (aka, lack of sensory details makes Anna cry)
    6. Stories where the exotic locale exists only in the service of the white, Western male hero, to better highlight his manliness and glory.
    7. Stories written with the sensibilities of film, or about films.
    8. Stories that are ostensibly philosophical, particularly religiously philosophical, but never go farther than philosophy and/or religion 101.
    9. Stories that have stated morals
  • Conversely, stories which will have special appeal for me:
    1. Lyrical or poetic work, full of sensory details
    2. Stories that are unflinching in the tough parts
    3. Stories that draw from atypical milieus, but not if the milieu is just set dressing and not integral
    4. Stories with questions about identity, the nature of life, and free will
    5. Plots that turn on unintended consequences
    6. Stories that have language and communication as a primary theme or plot piece
    7. Stories that reflect on the numinous, without cynicism
    8. Stories that approach, but do not necessarily explain, the weirdness of the world

19 Jul 2010, by

Sold a story!

Sold a story, sold a story, sold a story just now. Just now I sold a story, sold a story just now.

Sing it with me!

In: in my life | Tags:

I’m in the midst of my summer training. My brain is full of Montessori lessons. I can’t wait to share some of these with my students in the fall. I love the clarity of the math lessons. I don’t love how slowly we go through them, however. I’m dying to get some lessons, like the geometry stick box! But I must wait. Right now, we’re doing multiplication of fractions and I’m abusing the internet at the local school where my lessons are being given so I can post. We’ve gone over each problem twice, you see, and at this point my attention span only lasts one iteration.

The workload is pretty enormous. Don’t be deceived by the fact that I’m posting that this is a cakewalk, but I can’t reliably work on my homework while in lecture, whereas I can post. And I don’t want to abandon you, loyal reader, for months at a time again.

So what would you like to hear about? Feel free to leave a comment on what you’d like me to address over the summer, in the snatches during class where I must type.

So I didn’t do any yoga for two months. It took only one about six weeks of not doing yoga for what I refer to as my janky hip to start low level hurting all the time. Last week I found a little studio in KC and renewed my yoga habit. Been to three classes, and hip is feeling great. I need to remember that: absence of yoga makes hip hurt.

I wonder if I search the first lines of my posts how many of them would begin by excusing my long absence from posting with an explanation of how busy I’ve been. Well, here we go, this is no different, but since you’ve doubtless seen that part before, I’ll skip past the making excuses part and get straight to the summary.

At the end of April, the day after I had completed some fabulous and yet draining observations at Near North Montessori school, a storm passing through St. Louis uprooted two trees and they fell onto our house. The damage is pretty extensive, and the repairs have not begun yet, over two months later.

At first the insurance company put us up in a hotel, but when it became clear that we were going to be out of the house for months rather than weeks, they had us move to a rental house. So on top of working a regular daily job since January, traveling to my midwinter training in Kansas City for a weekend in January and doing a week and a half of observations in Chicago in April, I have moved twice since I last posted.

Now I’m in Kansas City for the summer, while my family lives in a little rental house in St. Louis. The bulk of our belongings are packed away, and we literally do not know where they are. We have only what we took when we left the house for what was supposed to be just a few weeks. We still have access to our basement, and everything there, but that’s it.

As can be imagined, there’s a lot of upheaval and disorganization created by this state of affairs. This is not a tragic event, by any means, but it is an inconvenient one. Having to move twice during the last six weeks of school, the same ones filled to the brim with extra events and activities, as well as trying to do my homework for the summer was rather hectic. Homework, by the way, which I did not complete, so I have stuff to hand in pending even as I type.

So…yeah. Busy.

Tomorrow is a new day. Six years on, but today was a tough one anyway. Miss you, Simone.

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