Monday, July 9, 2012

Why do I teach?

At a recent conference we were asked to write about when we knew we wanted to be teachers.  Arghhh.  As expected everyone in the room, or so it seemed, wrote about how they knew as youngsters that they'd be teachers.  Not me.  Here's what I wrote:

I went to UVA---one of the values espoused there is to explore all areas of study---I did just that.  Any course that looked or sounded neato I invariably raised my hand for and signed on.  Yet, my parents---who helped foot a large % of the cost, yeah M&D, are both in professional/titled fields---a nurse and engineer, respectively.  They were both extremely worried about the prospect of me just “exploring” the liberal arts for 4 years.  When I came home after my 1st year and proudly exclaimed that I’d be majoring in English and Women studies I think they were beside themselves.  They requested that I apply to join the ed-school program.  I suspect that the idea of earning a masters in teaching made them feel that I’d somehow be marketable post college.  If only they knew how ridiculously silly educational pedagogy was/is---or at least my terrible professor.  Ahh, but that’s a topic for another response, at another time.  I dutifully applied, and was accepted.  I honestly figured that I’d just proceed along the path of my liberal arts study and make sure to find room for the required MT classes along the way.
It certainly started out that way---anyhow.  I realized that my default attitude about education and teaching was not the norm after my first methods class.  We were asked to sit in a circle---all 50 of us, and go around and share the moment we knew we wanted to be teachers.  Gulp.  Well this was going to be hard.  I didn’t want to be a teacher.  I was 19.  I was going to NYC .  I was going to work at a magazine.  I was going to work on a manuscript of my own.  I was going to read and edit.  I wasn’t EVER going back to school, much less high school.  For god’s sake.  I was smack in the middle of this large circle and was not really listening to what anyone had to say---I literally watched the clock tick away.  We were at over 30 used up minutes of a 60 minute class hearing one person to the next explain how they knew after getting their first set of number two pencils and crayons that they would go into teaching and that it was the ONLY thing they wanted to do in this life! I had no idea what I ought to do---should I just parrot out a similar tale?  Would I be found out as a confederate?  Would the tale scream lie or might I have the talent to be shy and demure and quietly get away with it?  Or should I be brutally honest---that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, because after all we were all young, that there was no reason we should even have to choose.  That this was not an era or age when folks had to enter a career field.  No one worked for a company or in a field for their entire lives anymore, right?  Or would that be offensive to all those who went before me?  Was there something wrong with me that I didn’t know?  How did all these people already know?  They were smarter than me!  All these questions, scenarios, insecurities, fears, annoyances, and anger came up.  Honestly by the time they got to me I had no idea what I planned to say or do---I blurted out a joke first:  “Well teachers get summers off, and that’s my favorite season.”  The room erupted in laughter and to my happy, happy surprise, when the chuckling died off the woman to my left eagerly provided her inspiration and I was out of the spotlight.
I found a select few within my program over the next three years who too shared an ambivalence and concern about what it was the world held for us.  However, I was lucky to have been forced into so many various observations and random teaching stints, and practice positions.  It was on the drive out to a middle school in the small town of Crozet that it dawned on me that the excitement and nervousness that I felt in the pit of my stomach was something good.  The unknown of what I’d find behind the classroom door on any given day, the open eyes of some kids, the closed downcast eyes of others, the furtive looks of a few were the reason I wanted to get to school.  The freedom to create existed in the classroom.  The success of a lesson was affirming and inspiring.  On the flip side the failure was heartbreaking.  But there was a comfort in the failure---because M-F, Sept-June offered day after day of opportunity to right that wrong, to fix the former error.  The most wonderful thing about the classroom was that each class period, each unit, every book, every quarter offered a clean fresh slate.  Much like a clean sheet of paper.  Or the first page to a new book.
And so like the many students who I mocked secretly on that first day of Instructional Methods 400 with Prof. -----, I knew I had found something I might invest in for a bit.
This year I look forward to opening my classroom door, for the 17th year.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

As if I have time for this thing called WRITING

My pile of grading is growing, and growing and growing. But I decided that I needed a break. I needed to remind myself why I love English. Why I love to look at what an author writes. And every year, I try to show my students that yes, you can break-down and analyze just about anything. Anything. Just listen to adolescent boys play Monday morning quarterback. Afterwards there is no doubt they know how to analyze. Ask them to explain which commercials from the superbowl are the most effective and you've got some great , well argued essays. My new favorite---pop culture. First we had Snooki. Then along came Charlie Sheen. Now we have Ms. Black. We were working on "lists". David Letterman made these famous. I love that guy who did the 25 Things He hates about Facebook. We started there. Then we decided to avoid things we hate---that's just too negative. I needed an example for my students. So rather than scour the internet, I wrote my own. Woo hoo. Here it is in all it's glory. Some might argue that mine veers real close to a "hate" list, but I think I show her enough love, and it's more about the confusion that results. Let me know what you think.

25 Things things that come to mind after watching Rebecca Black's "Friday"

What do I choose to “experience” or “enjoy” from the world of pop culture? It takes a lot to frighten and offend me. I’m not sure if it’s part of my constitution (or maybe, god help, I can’t quit you Charlie Sheen), or tiger blood. But I’m pretty casual. There was that one crazy song “Telephone” by Lady Gaga and Beyonce that I actually have never gotten through---I tried, believe me, but that video was so crazy and so wrong that I actually felt dirty and had to stop. Again, that is saying a lot. A lot. So when Jonathan Martin tipped me off to this Rebecca Black video (I did see it on a few facebook profiles but was confused that some thirty year old pals would be “sharing” a teeny bopper song---now I know why, now I get it), I made a mental note and headed straight to my IPhone (that’s right people, I’m using my new phone) 7th period. So, here’s my list of 25 things that popped into my head when I watched and researched “Friday” by the now legendary, Rebecca Black . . .
For those uninitiated souls out there---here's the link. The following post will be no fun if you haven't seen the song:

1. As one might imagine I was in shock for about three seconds. In those early confusing seconds only two words popped into my head---and as I’m an English teacher it was so fittingly an oxymoron (if you don’t’ know this term, you need to watch the video and I think you’ll understand how two seemingly opposite words come together---now you’ll never forget this literary term so that’s a good thing, and maybe the only good thing that will happen to your life as a result of watching this video): AMAZINGLY AWFUL.

2. HOLY COW. Within 2 days this video, or what I like to refer to as “3 ½ minutes of torturous hell” it had 2 million views. It really begs the question of what is happening to our world that we are all so masochistic that we choose to indulge, expose, harm, or dare I say entertain ourselves with this kind of “music”.

3. This girl and her work are “trending” on twitter!!!! What do we have to do as a people to “trend” on important issues? Seriously. Shouldn’t the Red cross text number for relief money for Japan trend (FYI—text to REDCROSS 90999)? Shouldn’t we be sending hate twitters to our congress-people so that they’ll stop bickering with one another and do some work for god’s sake? Honestly, even the rants of my boy Sheen that trended at least put a spotlight on and got us thinking about the real problems of substance abuse and mental illness.
And now for a more detailed examination of the song and video itself (NOTE: I’m proud to say I’ve watched this video just two times---once for about 1 minute (the first day on my IPHONE) and then this morning one time in its entirety. But even with just one full watch I have plenty to discuss.

4. So the lyrics start off on real informational note. In case you were confused about the days of the week, this song could function as a primer of sorts: “Yesterday was Thursday (Thursday)/today is Friday (Friday).” This sort of lyric reminds me of some of the elementary songs my kiddos learned at pre-school as teaching tool. But I guess to jazz it up the producers, singer, lyricist, whoever, added the “Echo” part. Probably because the line “Yesterday was Thursday/Today is Friday” really might not have gotten the information across---but dang the club-style repeat of Thursday and Friday is great.

5. But just when I think that this could be a song to share with my kiddos as a review of the days of the week I’m immediately freaked out by this young girl’s inability to use elementary subject + verb construction. Even nursery rhymes, both rhyme and use proper grammar for gods sakes: “We, we, we so excited.” At first I thought it might just be an aberration, but no, she sings in the next line: “We, we, we gonna.” Argghhh learn the verb “to be” Ms. Black. Learn it, live it, know it.

6. The beginning of the music video employs some weird, possibly creative, visual speed-up business. She is standing in her foyer “singing” to us about the days of the week while all the action behind her appears to be speeded up. I’m not sure if those people and their action behind are actually people trying to escape from being in the video with her, but I actually kind of like that part, I must admit.

7. As with any story and most songs are somewhat like stories, there has to be some conflict---and god help her she has a real quandary at about the 50 second mark---Her pals roll up in their ride---which I believe could be, but as I’m proud to say I only saw it for a fleeting moment as I’ve only watched the video once, a convertible Mercedes. That’s not something I’d ever buy my 16 year old kiddo---or even loan my 16 year old on a Friday night. But I guess I’m just a mean, mean Mom. Her problem---where in the world should she sit? Such drama. How will she make her choice? Is this going to ruin her Friday? Will it cause the song to end? Oh no, it’ll just morph into a “lovely” refrain. Phew.

8. Of course she takes the stinking backseat. What message are we sending our young women, Ms. Black (besides that fact that you can be a part of a terribly awful video and gain notoriety, that is)? Why don’t your boy toys let you ride shotgun? Aren’t you the star? Aren’t you the reason for the party? The fact that you settle for the back seat, isn’t too surprising but is rather cliché and I suppose is the least of your flaws.

9. Uhhhhmmm, I’m not sure where in state this Friday is supposed to be---but in the good Old Commomwealth (aka Virginia) we’ve got some serious rules for drivers under 18. 1. You can’t drive around with lots of young people. I was under the impression that you could only carry one other person under 18 (unless you are related to them). And you can only drive during a particular time of the day unless it’s for work or school. And hello, seatbelts people. SEATBELTS. They save lives---there was a small part, OK a big part that imagined them getting into a wreck and being ejected. Oh my---did I say that out-loud. My bad.

10. I’m still not sure which is scarier the fact that these teens don’t appear to be wearing seat belts or the fact that her “friends” appear to be genuinely rocking out to the song she is singing for them. Is this scary? Or is it just an example of really good acting?

11. As if the lack of seatbelts weren’t enough, then you pile on the idea that there is no radio playing but rather this girl providing the “music” for the trip, then it suddenly goes from 3 pm in the afternoon to 930 at night. And now the ladies are riding on the back of the convertible as though they were traveling at 5mph and in the homecoming parade. To add to this frightening madness one girl is donning a dress with a zipper front top. Really? I don’t think I need to explain why an adolescent girl getting ready to go out to a party with an-easy-access dress on is wrong on so many levels. So many. Oh by the way, it’s hot pink too.

12.While I was temporarily distracted by the hot-pink-zipper-front dress I came out of the fog to hear the line: “You got this? Only to be reassured by the following: “I got this.” What does she [have] exactly? Whatever it is, I don’t want any of it.

13. The next line I altered after she sang it for the 2nd or 3rd or 4th time, I forget---because as with any crappy pop, the formula involves a few lyrics just sung over and over and over again. She sings” Everybody’s looking forward to Friday, Friday, Friday.” But I was thinking: “[I’m] looking forward to this madness ending, ending, ending.”

14. At this point we are about 2 minutes into a 3 ½ minute song. She’s used all her lyrics and things begin to repeat---but this time around they put things into a psychedelic cartoon format. It was confusing and odd. But then again, the fact that I was still watching the video in the first place was confusing and rather shameful and unfortunate.

15.WOAH, wait a hot minute. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any weirder, thank god it does. Who in the world is the Original Gangster who suddenly rolls into the traffic pattern sporting the biggest watch on the planet and wearing the largest fake diamonds imaginable? Clearly this poor, aspiring rapper has sold his soul to the music gods in an attempt to make it by participating in this video. Alert to you Mr. Rapper man: Your street cred is done, son!

16.So, she finally gets to the party. Phew. What community does she live in? The party to which she has arrived turns out to be a concert where she is performing---this song---and all the folks in the audience are raising their hands in the air. Is this because they are enjoying themselves or are their rescue personal behind the “stage” getting ready to evacuate people screaming for help?

17.I actually do think though that she is a cute girl.

18. I also think she has nice hair.

19. Another positive---this note as with the two previous entries come to me as I’m watching her “concert” performance during the party scene: She is not dressed like a complete slut-tress, if you will. But as with any other pop princess of the modern age, once she gets an album that sells well, she’ll undoubtedly show some more cleave, raise her skirt and begin wearing clothes 2 sizes too small.

20.Oh my Rapper man returns and this time he’s not rapping but rather he appears to be driving---probably on the same stretch of road---perhaps he’s lost. But now, god help me, he appears to be rocking out to and enjoying her song. How did this man film such a scene with a straight face? Was he looking at a large pile of cash that was to become his once the director yelled “CUT”? He may just be a serious, serous actor.

21. The song, in my humble opinion, ends on a real lame note. It’s as though at the stroke of midnight---curfew perhaps---the song just ends. There’s no talk about the rest of the weekend, or the impending doom of Monday.

22. But wait, maybe that’s the genius of the song. Perhaps she’s planning on an album predicated on her exploration of all 7 days of the week.

23.Followed up by an album on the 12 months of the year, or the seasons, or perhaps the continents or god help us the 50 states!

24. Thank you America. Thank you for doing what you do best---exalting the worst representatives of our land to the highest heights of celebrity.

25. For those willing and ready to handle the madness in person it turns out she’s performing at Fair Oaks Mall on May 3, 2011. Bum-rush baby. Bring back pictures or cell phone video for me. Please.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Holy shit---three is a lot more than two. Who knew?

No drafting. No revising. No time to make this sound nice. It is what it is on a first type:

I always yell at J---- about cursing. But in the end I probably curse as much if not more than he does. Oh the irony of it all. Call me cocky; call me arrogant; call me naive. Call me just about anything right now and I really won't care at all. I won't even fight back. I probably won't even give you a second glance. Or if I do, it will be with a well of tears in my eyes and no strength whatsoever. You'll be looking at an entirely different lady than from just a few weeks back.

A few weeks back I was just a tired lady. I was a lady carrying around about 35 extra pounds and wondering when I'd no longer be pregnant. In fact, the idea of not being pregnant was blissful. In my mind it meant shedding not only the cumbersome belly, but time away from the classroom, and the start of an entirely new chapter in my life. Yet, for all the books I've read, studied, and even taught, I wasn't entirely prepared for where this narrative was actually headed. I guess in retrospect that's pretty cool. It would actually be a bit lame if I could have, in fact, predicted or determined the course of things to come.

So, here I am right now learning to do what many, many women before have me have learned to do. Here we are as a couple again navigating those first few months of newborn land---a land with no determined schedule, no rest for the weary, one that is so isolating at times that the end is far from see-able, or more grammatically correct recognizable/evident/clear/obvious. Arghhh I don't think see-able is a word. Is it? OK---I KNOW it's not a word, I haven't lost my entire mind. But you know what? For today, in my world, it'll just have to do. OK? Throw me a bone. OK? Here my two older guys have been thrown into a world that requires them to be patient, sometimes quiet, wait, and be without mom for a great deal of time (at first). That's a lot to ask of little people. But regardless, I'm asking, pleading, yelling, and unfortunately demanding it of them quite often now.

All of this inevitably brings with it a mountain of guilt, questioning, insecurity, indecision, and of course random tears. All of which are truly frustrating and annoying to a woman who normally runs her life much like the bell schedule at school---up at dawn, out the door on the dot, slave to the clock at work, and the evening rush of pick-ups, dinner time, bath, stories, and then bed. Take all the factors from above (minus work) and throw them up in the air, and let them fall where they may---now start. OK---so that's pretty dramatic, and not quite or even close to how things are running. But that's how I feel a lot of the time.

But as I type this out I realize how petty, self-absorbed, and dramatic I must actually sound. Because in the end, while there is a lot of crying, whining, acting out (even by me---the 37 year old mom!) each day we all fall asleep together under one roof. And I can go late-night (since I'm up) from room to room and see the chests of each my most beloved people rise and fall in complete peace.

With that said, I vow to stop drowning as my sister wisely tells me. To order pizza, let C----- ride his bike around the block with wild abandon, let C---- and K------ watch Nick Jr. until bathtime even if they watched it while I nursed C--- again, kiss J----- before I fall asleep at 8pm, again, and to delegate, ask for help more.

It will all come together. It did the first time. It did again the 2nd time. So, it will this time too. And it's not a measure of me or my family as to how long it takes and what roads we go down to get there. We will all pile in together. And along the way there will be yelling, story-telling, singing, laughing, giggling, fart noises, fast food runs, pee breaks, bitching, accidents, moments of bliss, cursing, smiling, and finally the peaceful sounds of sleeping from my fantastic four. And before we know it we will have figured out how to be a party of five.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

15 Weeks and Counting

As I stand by my door
Between class,
I look at all the kids whizzing by
and I wonder who you'll be.
Will you be
The girl who is always on her own;
or the one with guts enough to wear neon orange?
Or will you wear what everyone else decides is appropriate?
Will you yell at your friends to wait up,
or will you lead the pack?
Or hang out right smack in the middle, quietly?
Will you be the one who curses because it makes you sound tough?
Will you smoke cigarettes and then blame it on your "friend"?
Will you cut class,
Talk back to a teacher,
Or will you be kind
Get your homework done
and raise your hand to offer your thoughts
right or wrong?
Or will you be the boy
who trades the last weeks of summer
for a water bottle, cleats and an angry coach?
Or lace on some running shoes?
Jump high towards a net or with pom poms or
Sway to the beat or stomp your feet?
Or will you want to play guitar
Or get your hands dirty with some paint?
You could do a little bit of it all,
if you wanted.
If you weren't afraid of what others might think.
Will you worry about that?
Doesn't everyone worry about it, though,
Just a bit, even if they claim they don't.
Will you show your teeth when you smile?
Or will your smile look more like a frown?
Will your eyes be shiny and bright?
Will your laugh be loud and uncontrollable?
Or will you stifle your feelings behind a scowl?
Will you lie to your friends, to me, to yourself?
Will you let someone take advantage of you?
Or will you be the bully
and make someone else cry
all in a vain attempt to feel
somehow . . . better?
Might you be a little bit of all?
All the time.
Whatever you become
Know that I will
Sing to you,
Help you,
And sometimes hurt you, even.
But all the while
My heart will break for you
my heart will burst for you.
You, your brother, your sister will be
my life's work


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why do I care so much?

My children have no fear. OK so that's not entirely true. Actually there is a rather long list of things that frighten them: dogs, monsters, mean guys, bad guys, the boogey man, Mom and Dad fighting, etc. But with the exception of the friendly neighborhood dog all of those "evils" which frighten them have some reasonable basis. I suppose what I mean more than fear is the idea that differences, insecurities, self-esteem, and or ego don't cloud them.

Life has not changed them. Yet. Sigh.

When we hit a playground or public space of any kind (pool, restaurant, grocery store, pathway, retail store, etc.) they are completely undetterd by others. They don't worry about age, race, dress, appearance or even language. Nothing stops them from approaching a person and questioning them or giving a statement of opinion or fact

Why do you have purple hair. I've never seen purple hair before? Mom, can I have purple hair?

Nothing deters them from making an introduction.

Hi my name is Conor. I'm five. Do you want to play hide and seek with me?

Or even sharing random comments with a complete stranger.

I'm hoping to get a transformer at Target with my piggy bank money.

I see their fearlessness and I love it. While, at other times it's completely awkward and unsettling. Yet, invariably upon my return to the car I secretly revel in whatever true statement has been uttered---oftentimes I find that I was thinking much the same thing---but my social sensor stops me from uttering these "truths". Yet my adult-ness often clouds or even ruins these otherwise innocent and wonderful observations---rather than seeing things for simply what they are, they invariably become about me and my failings, misplaced judgment, insecurities, or hang-ups.

Perfect example: Last summer this astute observation was made about a woman in the bathroom at a local pool.

Mom, her breasts are much, much bigger than the ones on your body.

This woman did have enormous breasts, that were rather perky for a woman who appeared to be in her mid-fifties which gave me serious pause. But again, I was thinking the EXACT same thing BUT I did not make this observation known to the world.

And I suspect at age 3 and 5 the observation for my children ended with the recognition of the size difference. And that's it. Not so for me. The trail of thoughts in my head became more jumbled and ridiculous:

Man, those are huge boobs.

Gosh I look like a 12 year old girl.

But they are clearly FAKE.

What's the big deal with her FAKE boobs?

Do I really care if she bought them?

Would I buy boobs?

If I am jealous of her fake boobs, what does that say about me?

God I'm pathetic.

Let's get out of here.

Let's make sure we don't come to this pool tomorrow.

God I'm pathetic.

Man, my boobs are tiny.

All of this in the span of a few moments. When all my children see is the black and white nature of the clear and obvious size difference.I suppose what they are missing is the analysis piece. When exactly do we become bogged down by these ideas? 9, 10, 14, 21, 30?

He just sees what he sees. Period. And they seem much happier for it.

I think my children have done more to help me find peace within myself than years of therapy and prozac. I guess I just need a few more decades of "child therapy." That's probably the best prescription.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Better than Valentine's day

Before the second snowstorm last week we ventured out to get food and new books to make it through. We did a drive by my mom's office when we realized the library hadn't opened just yet. Given that her office is right nearby, we dropped in to blow the 10 mintues and visit rather than wait in the car. Once there I was accosted by my Mom and her many colleagues about making sure the kids were squared away on the ole H1N1 shot. So, I left the kids with her at her cubicle while I filled out paperwork for the last booster---boy do they LOVE my mom's office now, right!!---I warned her but she insisted I get the booster, and given that they were given the first part in October it was well past time. After that we left, got books, made soup, and waited for the snow to start falling.

Later that night Kendall and I had the following conversation:

Mom, I really want a princess dress like yours.

I love dresses Kendall, but I don't have a princess dress.

Yes, you do. And you have very beautiful flowers.

(Me undoubtedly staring blank-faced at Kendall).

In the picture on Grammy's desk.

(And then I remember that my mom has a photograph of me from my wedding on her desk.)

Oh, that's from my wedding to with your Dad. That's the day we became a couple.

(I was a little stymied about how to describe that exactly. I chose not to get into the lack of name change thingie, and the idea of being equals and all that, right now anyhow. So I left it at that and figured the conversation was over---all the while thankful that for once she saw her mom all dressed up.)

Ohhh, so that means Dad is your prince.

(Me----totally in shock. With no words. Even a little teary.)

We'll, yes it does.

Monday, February 15, 2010

From my bookshelf

I'm copying a blog/website that I like to read: She is quite the reader. If only I had as much time to read as she does. Alas---she posted some answers to these questions. And I love lists. So here is my book list:

A book that changed your life: This is a toss up. A few years ago I stumbled upon A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. I’m not sure how I found or even chose this book from the book store. If I recall it was when I was on maternity leave with my first child---who was colicky---and with Jamie traveling frequently it was all I could do to make it through the days. Luckily I figured out how to read while feeding Conor and those moments were both relaxing and needed. Needless to say I think I stumbled upon this book at our local used book store---a short walk from our home at the time. It was such an eye opener for me about how close to poverty and how precarious life is for millions, and millions of people. These are realities that I was not unaware of, but this book really helped me see the world in a different and more detailed way. So too, was the effect of Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner. Wow. From the first line, this book sucked me in: "I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid and overcast day in the winter of 1975." I received the book as a holiday gift while staying at my in-laws. I think I finished it within 2 days---and we were heading out on skiing afternoons and excursions and I still found myself reading at every possible free moment. As with A Fine Balance, Hosseini’s book opened me eyes to how dramatically different one’s life would be if by some cosmic turn of fate you were born into a whole new world.

A book you’ve read more than once: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee never gets old for me. I often teach this book---but I still re-read it each time. But each time I find some new and exciting---and I’m always pleased with how satisfying this book is for me. It’s so well-constructed and well-written. It's a wonderful book to teach as well, because there are so many wonderful examples of literary device, argumentative structure, narrative set-up, and just flat out a fantastic narrative! Besides---it's got a fantastic heroine! I only hope my Kendall loves Scout as much as I do.

A book that made you laugh: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. This past summer I truly enjoyed both Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead and The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (however this also made me cry too) by Junot Diaz. Please, please someone read this last one so we can talk about it. It's a bit risque!

A book that made you cry: A few years ago a colleague recommended The Chosen by Chaim Potok. It was a wonderful story about family and friendships. While it was a tough read for me because it was about a world and upbringing so much different than my own, the themes resonated nonetheless. I also enjoyed and cried at the end of Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. This book was a bit crazy, and at times I wondered about the madness of where the narrative was headed. However the ending was a surprise and the shock! And of course who could forget Charlotte dying at the end Charlotte’s Web? I'm mean as an adult you know her life is going to end, but as a young reader it is a startling and poignant moment.

A book that you wish YOU had written: I just love E.B. White. Whether it’s Charlotte’s Web or Stuart Little, each sentence is a treat on its own. And Cider House Rules by John Irving was a real treat. It is filled with neat characters (some that you love, loathe, and just don’t quite know how to understand). And the story is so thought-provoking. It really addresses the grays that get lost in the partisan discussion that always seems to accompany anything dealing with abortion.

And a book you wish had never been written: This is a really hard one for me. I just don’t finish stuff that I don’t enjoy. There are some selections for my book club at work that I haven’t been so jazzed by, but I don’t know if they’d fall into so extreme that they don’t exist---but I did think the bestseller The Shack was pretty ridiculous. Ridiculous. I still don’t understand what all the appeal was all about.

Books that you’re currently reading: Arghhh. There are always too many books on my bookshelf. My general rule is to commit to the first 50 pages. If at that point I’m not drawn in it goes back to the library. There are way too many books to be read in this world to mess with one that you aren’t enjoying. I figure you can always go back if you’d like. I’m currently involved in Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian. I got Stones into Schools Stones by Greg Mortenson and have just begun to flip through and look at all the pictures first! And I'm re-reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe since that is what my students are reading right now.

A book you’ve been meaning to read: Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I WILL get these read this summer while enjoying my trips to the local farm market!

What are you guys reading?