Sunday, June 24, 2007

The MEME...

Okay, I've been tagged by Linda, so here it goes:

The rules: Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. In 1985 (in a galaxy too long ago...) I rode a horse named Troy in the IURCA Irish National Championships, taking and individual third place and leading the team to a first place win, complete with cool trophy! If any of you don't know, I am a horse nut and have gone through some serious withdrawal since I had to sell my girl 5 years ago. BTW--I lived in Ireland for a year.

2. I love to cook, but I don't really care for baking. Rachel Ray is sort of a touchstone for me. I watch. I think. Then I wing my own creation. As far as baking, I have a good track record with home-made pie, but after school, the kids get cookies from a celophane package.

3. When I was in junior high school, Dan Quayle signed the back of my campaign t-shirt. My mother was head of the GOP in our town and had a huge fundraiser for him when he was running for congress. Okay...not particularly proud of that one, but what are you gonna do?

4. My husband and I hooked up because he rear-ended some other woman on his way to work. See? Sometimes bad stuff does happen for a reason! Seriously, he was new in town and glancing at the map on his way into the college where we were both teaching. Map, road, map, road, map, CAR! BANG! So, when he got to the orientation meeting, he stood up and shyly explained that he needed a lift for the next meeting because his car had just been towed to the shop. I don't know what it was, but something moved me to volunteer...and the rest is history.

5. I was a hopeless tomboy as a child--no frilly girl stuff for me!--and as a result, I have a plethora of lovely scars, though thankfully most of them are discreet. 3 scars on my chin (I kept falling on my face!); One finger that was almost cut off in a car door (2nd grade); lots of lesser but well-earned war wounds; a broken foot; a broken nose (which looks better now than it did before!--and I was 23 at the time and playing on a softball team).

6. My 10-year-old son still thinks his Mama is perfect (don't know how I managed that), though his sister is onto me.

7. My favorite home-cooked meal is pot roast with carrots, potatoes, and celery the way my mom taught me how to make it.

8. The house I grew up in was haunted by the ghost of a young Miami Indian boy. Ask me about it sometime...

So there you have it. I don't think I have 8 people to tag who haven't already been tagged, so don't worry if you've already been hit: Momma Roar, Gail, Stella, Judy, and Jess. (That's all I have for now.)

Friday, June 22, 2007


Ta Da!!! Yep, that's right. Yours truly was just offered the part of my benefits, my kids go to the school tuition free!!! I'm thrilled. I'm excited. I'm absolutely and utterly terrified! Everyone has been so nice, and one of the teachers has already called to welcome me. How awesome is that?

So...Sunday afternoon, I have to ship out for Chestnut Ridge, NY for the next week to attend an intensive training workshop. Wow! I can hardly catch my breath. But my man is so awesome. He came home loaded down with his work, prepared to man the battleship while Mama is away. Not only was he loaded down with all his work, but he came bearing Roses and Champagne, too! (big cheesy smile, here!!)

We have been struggling for so many years to make ends meet. Finally, we can take a financial breath. My biggest worry, though, is how much will my writing suffer? I will simply have to make the time. Carve it out of whatever block of cheese lands in my way. (don't know where that strange metaphor came from...) My summer has a whole new look to it. A big, hairy, scary look! But I will get my revisions done AND prepare for the job. Somehow I will make it work. So, unless you are blind or really thirsty for some death-defying fun, don't plan on coming to my house for dinner. Heaven knows what will be growing on the floor, or in the corners, or out of the toilets!

And Linda...the Meme's coming up next.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I don't even know what to call this post!

So, my interview with the Waldorf school was yesterday. It's one of those "I have no idea how it went" situations, and I'm not sure how I feel right now. I know--insane, right? My most pressing motivation for applying here was my children. Finding a convenient way to allow both of them to go to school there. But after the interview yesterday, I'm suddenly feeling a sense of panic. What if I can't do the job? I know I'm a good high school teacher, in fact, I would even feel comfortable saying I am damn good at that. But elementary school is a whole different ball game, and the Waldorf approach is completely different from anything I've experienced.

Don't get me wrong. I am sold on the anthroposophical wisdom of Rudolf Steiner, and I love the sense of community at this school. But am I comfortable with who I am in that setting? or who I might become, anyway? Part of my anxiety is undoubtedly connected to my intolerance of my own failure when others are depending on me. I can handle failure when if affects only me, although I do demand a lot of myself. But when kids are counting on me--mine and other people's--the stakes are just so high.

This job means a very different lifestyle for our family. It means a lot of work over the summer and beyond. It means putting my writing in a different slot. It means going to sleep every night with lesson plans brewing in my brain till it hurts. (been there before!) It means scheduling conflicts and priority shifting. also means a little more money coming in besides, the financial relief we'll receive on tuition for the kids. It means more intellectual stimulation (although I get that with teaching the college course too, though for less pay). It means a whole new chapter in our lives...period.

So what is the matter with me?

Monday, June 18, 2007

I'm Alive... Calling Mr. Spielberg...

Okay Folks! I should have news about the job in a few days, but for now, log onto A Bionicle Story
for a little treat. My 10-year-old son make a stop-motion movie for his talent show entry. He's pretty amazing...and pretty patient to shoot over 600 still frames, carefully nudging the figures into subtly new positions each time. Then the music and voice-over action...then the titles. As you can imagine, I'm sure proud of my little guy. Who, by the way, is not so little anymore. They just grow up too darned fast!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Back on the Roller Coaster!!

Here we go again, folks! So, I'm sitting here fretting about this decision to ask for another class at the college next semester--to make ends meet. I'm still up for a part time position at the Waldorf school, and I could teach the extra class even if I get the job, but I'm terrified of spreading myself over two different jobs without really helping our financial situation a whole lot. Waiting to hear about the part time job, resigning myself to slave wages, but all for a good cause. Maddening!

So this afternoon, I get an email from my contact at the college wanting to know if I am available to teach more writing classes. Okay...I decide to go ahead and call the Waldorf people after dinner and see if they are any closer to a decision before I call him. I'm still chewing my KFC extra crispy leg when the phone rings. The Waldorf people! An offer? ...No... A question.

It seems the teacher who was going to quit, then changed her mind, has now changed her mind once again, and a full time job is open again. Now, I have no delusions that the job is mine, but they would like to interview me again for this job and in a hurry. Cue the churning stomach and sleepless nights reprise.

Do I want the job? --Yes

Does the job terrify me? --Yes

Is that a good thing? --I believe so.

Dare I hope to have a full-time teaching position and my kids at that school I desire next fall?


So wish me luck and pray that the pieces fall where they are meant to, and that I keep my sanity in the process!

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Martian Chronicle...

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the fabulous book
Mars Needs Moms
by Berkeley Breathed
Shortly after that, Mr. Breathed gave an interview on NPR
and has been soundly assailed by a host of children's writers on a poplular and beloved discussion board. The primary points of criticism:

1) He bragged that he knew nothing about children's books and wrote this with ease.
2) He is a celebrity trading only on his celebrity status.
3) He claims that his idea is thoroughly original but it's not.
4) His story is too dark and meant for an adult audience.

I understand that many of us who write for children are protective of our craft and offended whenever someone who writes for adults, or who wishes to, proclaims that writing for children is easy, so perhaps they'll start with that or maybe they'll take a break from writing heady, intellectual adult stuff and write some kid fluff. As we all know, that is a huge fallacy, and my own students discovered that last semester in their Writing Children's Literature course. HOWEVER, If you listen to Mr. Breathed's interview, you will find that he was not dissing us at all.

On the first point: He found something that came more naturally to him than he expected. He began with the art and let the story unfold for him. Somepeople see in pictures first. He worked from what many of us do...his memory of childhood and his experience with his own kids.

Second: Berkeley Breathed is a Pulitzer Prize-winning artist/writer. He's not some dizzy rock diva or movie star or dope injected athelete. His celebrity, whatever that may be, stems from his talent as a writer and an artist. Yes, his work was political satire, but ironically set through the eyes of children.

Third: He did not claim that his idea had never been explored before. He said it was "an area that had not yet been wholly explored." Many Picture Books stop short of entering the darkness and exploring deeper consequences, the darker implications of life and love. Mr. Breathed was committed to the idea that he wanted to face that question head on..."would a mother really die for her child?" The answer is yes. Of course he's not going to kill her off, but he takes it to the brink, answers the question, and then offers something wonderful: growth and understanding for the child. The child comes to understand on a deeper level the committment that "bellowing broccoli bully" has for her child. She loves him beyond measure, and he loves her, too. Mr. Breathed left his publisher of 25 years over this point because it was the crux of his story. I applaud his artistic integrity.

Which leads to the fourth complaint: There is some truth in the claim that adults will be drawn to this book for their own grown-up reasons. And yes, the climax is dark and threatening. But the language, the art, the rhythm of the story is a treat for young eyes and ears. The ending is thoroughly satisfying as a happy ending. Some kids may not be ready for a dark confrontation such as this, but many are. My two children were ready, and they love this book.

So...I hope that more people will check out this book and listen to the interview with a discerning ear before they pass judgement. I do despise people who make the lame assumption that anything designed for children is by definition easier to create. We all know how much work it is raising our children. Why would creating stories for them be any easier? But writers often work in different ways, crafting their stories from different angles, starting at completely different points in the process, exploring the same themes and plots with a different eye. We must not become self-righteous in our dedication to our craft.

'Nuff said.