Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Not sure.

I found this embedded on a friend's blog, so I did what all good researchers do, I copped the URL. Yesterday was a good day for a melt down. I wasn't in school and I had the time to fully appreciate the pressure of having three books due by year's end. Today was a great day for a recovery -- a full day at my desk to put ideas in documents and chapters in folders. How long will my productive recovery period last? Not sure.

The book on vocabulary development, High Definition is the closest I ever want to get to a dissertation. Too close, as a matter of fact. Lots of research, lots of URLs, piles of books, three years of classroom student samples, even index cards. Yes, I come from that generation of small white cards sorted by topic. On a good day, I think like stacks of little index cards. On a bad day, the cards are all airborne and refuse to be corralled. This is a real image in my mind. Putting ideas in little stacks. What images come to the minds of kids whose hands guide controllers and keyboards instead of pens? Not sure.

Exchanged email with an old friend (we are of course not old, there have just been a lot of years since we met) who commented that my blog really put my life out there. Another friend once observed that for some people their life is an open book, mine (because of all the books of poetry) is like a billboard. Is that too much or just enough? Not sure.

I exchanged a couple of emails with an artist friend who is illustrating two of the new books and currently working on Zombies! Evacuate the School. I told her that my insecurities were barking yesterday. She told me that sometimes hers "meow and growl and beat on the door with fists." Producing art of the written or drawn kind is a constant struggle with the critical internal voices that push you to do better one minute and trip you up the next. Will I ever be able to quiet them? Seems like I should have mastered that by now, but at this point . . . not sure.

Then, I hit save on the poetry chapter of the vocab book and with a few spare minutes before bed, I found this little video which makes me wonder all over again if any of this has any practical value. Maybe I should be investing more of my time on facebook and less on writing? I'm not sure.

Time for bed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In search of Peace

If we're going to the beach, you have to put on shoes.

I don't want to wear shoes.
Here let me help you.
I can't find my shoes.
Here's one.
I don't want to wear those shoes.
These are fine.
I want my other shoes.
Start with putting on socks.
I don't want socks.
You need socks and shoes. It's November.
Where's my purse?
You don't need a purse.
Scotty has a purse.
That's a pouch for collecting things.
I want a pouch.
I gave you a pouch, where is it?
Sara took my pouch!
There. Everyone has shoes, socks and a pouch. Into the car.
Me! Me!
Scotty won't let me shut the door.
Sara is trying to shut my foot in the door.
Everyone in the car and buckle up.
I don't want to buckle up.

A trip to the beach with an almost 3 year old and a six-year-old is not necessarily a trip to the beach in the idiosycrinatic sense of the phrase. The fighting continued for the seven miles to the Mentor Headlands parking lot. As I turned off the engine, a continuation of complaints.
Can I leave my shoes in the car?
Can I leave my fleece in the car?
I'm hungry.
Where's the water?
We never went this way before.
Can we go swimming.

As we entered the opening of trees and took the path through the dunes, winding our way another half mile to the shore, gradually we began to hear the calming whispers of waves. Lake Erie was Sunday morning lazy, barely breathing. November 8. The shoes immediately came off, along with the socks and the fleeces. Pouches were filled with special rocks and beach glass. Scotty is an experienced beach comber and selectively collected smoothed glass. Sara took the three-year-old approach, scooped up a handful of rocks, filled the pouch in one scoop, and skipped away to walk logs like tight ropes and make sand angels.

It's been a crazy-busy couple of weeks. Rewarding. Tiring. Two days at Pierce Middle school in Milton, Mass and a warm and walking weekend with Christine and Larry Charbeneau.

We celebrated literacy and rich food, explored Boston's historical highlights. Christine's seventh graders dove into writing definition infomercials with the gusto of seasoned pitch people and the families were so fun to talk to on literacy night. I love a two day visit as there is time to really connect with folks.

Then we flew back to Cleveland, got in the car and immediately drove to a two day visit in Mason, OH. Mason is next to Montgomery, OH where I remember working at a GE plant typing freight tags the summer of 1971. The area was a cornfield back then. No more. The land has sprouted into neighborhoods and the MS/HS campus looks like a community college. Michael and I did three assemblies for the 7-8th graders, 600 kids at each show. They were very well prepped (thank you Jenny May) and enthusiastic about reading and writing poetry.

Saturday was the Buckeye Book Fair, seven full hours of signing and chatting and then I dropped Michael off at the airport for a gig in Chicago and picked up Scotty and Sara for a sleepover, all three of us in one bed.

The sound of waves smooths the spirit just like the lapping lake smooths glass shards. Setting aside the environmental anxiety over sixty-five degrees in Cleveland on the 8th of November, Scott, Sara and I walked, inhaled, and tossed rocks -- filling ourselves with peace. The achievable kind of peace. The peace you can hold in your belly.

Smiles all around.