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Archive for October, 2007

As you may have guessed from the wholly stupid title, I’m having the worst trouble trying to write this blog entry. I want desperately to recap my Young Writers seminar from Tuesday, but the more I try to write about writers and writing the more I sound like somebody who would be kicked off the school newspaper for sheer writerly ineptitude.

I love writing. I love almost anything to do with writing. I never feel more at ease than when I’m writing or discussing writing with other writers. That’s why it was a total slice of heaven to participate in this group. 48 middle schoolers from Williamson County met at the Franklin Ag Expo to talk about their writing. I got to meet with 18 of them in groups of six; each student read his or her work aloud and we all complimented and constructively criticised the papers.

Going into it I was nervous about the “constructive criticism” part. Writing is such a personal exercise, and middle-schoolers are at a vulnerable age. I went into the day deciding that we’d first go around the circle with everyone saying something they liked about the piece. I then asked if anyone had anything they would “add or change to make the piece stronger.” In groups that hadn’t yet built up the trust level to enable heavy editing and criticism I figured that was the most reasonable way to approach it. At the end of the day I was amused by several students who said they thought the “writers were too nice and didn’t criticise them enough so their work wouldn’t get better.”

I am rarely called “too nice” by anyone. Rarely. Almost never. Don’t get me wrong; I’m nice. But I’m also your classic INTJ. If there’s a way to fix something–even that which isn’t broken–I feel compelled to suggest it.

Really though, most of the work was excellent. There was only one piece which felt at all substandard to me. But the young person who presented it was so enthusastic about both the work and the process that I felt any harsher criticism about the work–especially in front of that young person’s peers–would be more devastating than constructive.

I found all of the pieces fascinating from a psychological perspective. There was a lot of wish-fulfillment…family homes turned into mansions, little girls owned ponies and flew to Paris to live for years. Depressed fathers who made their daughters sad were killed by the Nazis(!).

I saved one paper for nm to read, now that I think of it. One student wrote about the Holocaust, and in quite vivid detail. It even has a poem in conclusion.

The more I think about it the more I think I would enjoy being a middle school english teacher. If I could get out of bed every day at 6:00am. Since that’ll never happen, I suppose I’ll just hope they ask me back next year. One day a year getting up that early shouldn’t be too bad.

Funny bits throughout the day:

  • I got there early, and so I volunteered to pitch in with some of the set-up work. I got designated to make the coffee and followed the coordinator around the building looking for a sink. When she couldn’t find the kitchen she suggested to me that I fill the coffee pots in the bathroom. Those of you who know me realise that just about gave me a heart attack. I expected to find out that there would then be a clown for morning assembly. None of you will be surprised to hear that I filled both coffee urns from the water fountains.
  • Each table had a colour and a symbol in order to make it “funner”, I guess. There were 7 tables–instead of being numbered 1-7 or labelled A-whatever the 7th letter of the alphabet is I’m not gonna sing the song to myself to count it out, we were purple ferns or red stars or, in my case, brown paws. I was already wearing my James Thurber Dog reading a book shirt, so I figured I’d go with the paw print. It reminded me of my sister and “Brian’s Table.” (inside joke…)
  • Each table also had a basket filled with souvenier writing utensils. I think somebody’s husband is a doctor or pharmaceutical rep, because all of them were advertising a drug. I’m sure there were parents all over Williamson County on Tuesday night who were wondering why their 11 and 12 year old daughters brought home Ortho Tricyclen pens.

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For the last 8 years I really have enjoyed sitting in front of an open door waiting to give you free candy. No, really I have. I’ve also enjoyed having the doorbell ring while my dogs bark like mad. And I’ve especially enjoyed having a few of you come long after the official ToT time is over in hopes that I’ll give you extra candy to avoid having leftovers.

But this year is different.

This year I have a migraine and a fever of 102º. I also have no candy, and I sent the Bibles to my mother who is going to donate them to the Dove’s Nest–a Mennonite charity store in Fort Wayne. I’m sorry; I have nothing to give you.

However, if any of you would like to come in and bury an axe in my skull it might help with the whole migraine pain thing.

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Please help me.  Please… PLEASE!

Tomorrow I’m doing something I’m very excited about.  I’m helping in group sessions at a young writers’ conference for gifted middle school students.  (The fact that I’m helping them may make some of them rethink just how “gifted” they are.  Putting up with me is not necessarily a GIFT in the truest sense of the word.)

The woman who is introducing me has asked me to write a 4-5 sentence introduction for myself that is both interesting AND appropriate for middle-schoolers.  I seriously doubt that any of the things of interest I’ve done are not appropriate.  And vice versa.

Ha! “vice” versa!

Oh, Lord, help me.  It’s gonna be a long day.

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If you’ve sent me an email which bullies or threatens me…

Guess what? It’ll end up posted on the front page of this blog.

Because I’ve had more than enough of people acting all sweetness and light and then sending nasty death threats to my inbox behind the scenes.

UPDATE:

Because I didn’t make this disclaimer in advance, I’m not free to post the details.  But I did need to make the disclaimer, especially since I do write under my own name and am transparently available online.

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Ivy tagged me for a meme. Seeing as how I’m awake at 1:00am even though I shouldn’t be, I figure a nice, rambly sort of post about my baggage would be a lot of fun. For one of us.

The rules, as I understand them, are that I’m to write about three things I should have let go but haven’t.

Blogging

I probably should have aborted this little exercise in exhibitionism a long time ago. I’ve run out of good stories to tell and the arthritis in my fingers makes typing only slightly less fun than having my hair gnawed on by mice. As more and more of my church, school and family members find out about it I feel less and less able to say “pissed” and “gendarme” and other naughty or pretentious words.

I started the blog as a daily truth-writing exercise to hone my chops and make my book better. Now that my blog is a cranky toddler it bothers me as much as any other 2.5 year old child. It’s noisy and requires a lot more attention than I want to give it right now. But I love it. I’ve birthed it and we’ve had great memories together. We’ve made new friends and new enemies. I’m addicted to this blog like a scrawny meth-head with brown and cracking teeth. I’m mixing my metaphors to a ridiculous degree now, too. That’s perhaps a further indicator that I should abandon blogging the same way I treated piano lessons, lace crocheting, Grey’s Anatomy and Jim Warren. But I guess it’s here to stay for the time being.

(more…)

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I said it over at MCB and I’ll say it again over here.

Those of you, like William, who would like us to keep our religion out of politics have little business inserting your politics into our religion.

I get that it’s a really popular game right now to say things like “Yah! What would JESUS say about you murdering Iraqi babies in cold blood?!?” or “Would Jeeeesus deny federally funded health care?”

More often than not these questions come from people who eschew a relationship with said Jesus. They are Spiritual without being Christian (an increasingly popular faith system) or Atheist or Gnostic. Now, I have no qualms with anyone practicing any of these faiths or abjuring all faiths. Whatever floats your boat.

But I think these “gotcha” games, these abuses of Jesus’ name, are about ridiculous and tired. Not to mention insulting. There are many of us who are Christian Libertarians precisely because we believe that Jesus has asked us to separate matters of religion from matters of state. In case you’ve missed it the first hundred times I’ve said it….Jesus is EXACTLY why I’m a libertarian.

Government is a necessary stricture of my time here on earth. It is not my faith and is not to be confused with my faith.

Let me try this analogy. It’s as though I speak two languages. There is the tongue I use for my earthly life, the lingua franca with which I conduct my business here on this planet, in this time and of this culture. Then there is the language of faith. My native tongue, the one I’ll speak for eternity. There is some overlap, but even our word “Love” comes out meaning two vastly different things, depending on which language we’re speaking.

So you can keep trying to bring Jeeesuuus into politics, but regardless of our place on the spectrum–right, left or libertarian–you’ll never FULLY understand our answer.

It’s from a different language.

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My mother in law sent us a bunch of Bibles to give to the Next Door women’s halfway house. Apparently the Next Door is inundated with Bibles, though, and they don’t want ours.

Would it be just awful for me to hand out Bibles with the candy when kids come trick or treating?

I mean, if you DO give candy, is a Bible also a no-no? I loved Bibles when I was a kid.

I remember back when I was in Kindergarten and a Bible was a big prize. I got my first one for getting to page 50 in the Victory Drill book.

If I’m not giving out Bibles for Halloween, does anyone have any suggestions about what to do with all these Bibles?

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I have to do something today that I do NOT want to do.  It’s something that I’ve been dreading so much that I’ve put off doing it for more than 10 years–even though I knew it was a problem which should be dealt with.

I’d like to applaud myself for doing it, but I can’t.   Because I should have done it 10 years ago.

I’ll be much happier come 5:00.  I hope.

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This week’s EW has Carrie Underwood on the cover. As long as there’s not a sound chip inside the magazine singing “Jesus, Take The Wheel” I’ve no opinion on that article.

I do, however, take issue with their lead movie review for Rendition. In doing so I’m going to sing a song I’ve sung before, but I guess it bears repeating.

Here are the choice bits of Owen Gleiberman’s thought process:

Moviegoers, in case you haven’t noticed, are in the midst of a siege of films about the war in Iraq and the politics of the post-9/11 world (at this point, the two are inseparable). So far, though, it isn’t at all clear that moviegoers are interested.

The dispiriting cold truth is that the post-9/11 films we’ve seen so far have struggled, in any real sense, to enter the national bloodstream, the collective conversation.


Yet it’s worth asking if American moviegoers, even as they’ve grown disillusioned with the war, now want to numb that disillusion instead of exploring it. These films are coming out now because they’re at least trying to make sense of a world gone awry, and to fill in the gaps left open by the news media. The time is right — or, at least, as right as it may ever be. Better too soon than too late.

Now, clearly Gleiberman moves in a world different from mine. He’s part of that world where movies are all-encompassing. They are not only entertainment but literature, social commentary and philosophy. Hey, that’s cool. Too each his own and all that. However, what OG and the other Film Geeks seem to repeatedly fail to understand is that for most of us the movies are a form of escapism. War movies that constantly question The Rightness Of It All are not escapist. Who wants to spend $8.50 and their precious Friday night to be lectured at by the First Church Of Celluloid?

But it goes beyond that. (more…)

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If you are just now figuring out that a man who wore a purple suit, was unmarried for the entirety of his long life, acted rather flamboyantly and was only described as having an intimately close relationship with a young man might be gay…

Okay.

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