Birthday Weekend

Friday: Friday seemed like a long day. I was anxiously awaiting to get out of work not only for the weekend, but so I could get to my friend’s house. My friend had a baby about a month ago and I was just meeting the baby for the first time. It was a good afternoon because I got to hold a baby (it’s been a long time) and I got to see my friend. I haven’t seen her since her baby shower back in November. I have school and work to thank for that.

Friday night I came home and worked on my writing group’s critiques. They were due Saturday morning, so I naturally left them until the last minute. It’s funny how deadlines creep up on you.

Saturday: I had my first writing group meeting. Technically was the second one, but Kris and I missed the first due to a prior commitment. We were nervous, but it went really well. Including the two of us, there’s seven of us total. Small, but I like it that way. It was good to have my work being read and critiqued by others than family. I got great feedback, both positive and negative. The next step is to edit that part again so I can edit the second part and send that for next month.

My cousin had a birthday party to go to so I went with my mom to drop her off and then we were food shopping. For once, we finished shopping in a timely manner and then had an hour to kill while we waited for my cousin’s party to be over. Once we got home, my mom thought it would be a good idea to go out to dinner. Kris and my dad didn’t feel like going, so Mom and I went to Panera. I was barely home on Saturday and wasn’t able to get anything done I originally planned. However, I spent the majority of the day with my mother (and we don’t get a lot of time to do that often) so it was good.

That night we gave my mom her birthday gifts early. We got her a Blu-Ray player and a new iPad. So I think she was pretty content.

Sunday: It was my mother’s birthday, plus Palm Sunday. So we went to church, which was extra long because the service was an extra half hour and then the Sunday school kids had their annual Easter egg hunt. We ended up being at church for an extra hour.

I took my Spanish quiz (that again, I left until the last minute) and then we went out to dinner. There was 11 of us for dinner and the waitress was slow and not very good, so we were there for a little while. We went to The Outback, so I can’t complain–the food is always awesome.

Then we went back to my house for cake for Mom’s birthday.

Overall, it was a great weekend. Busy, but relaxing at the same time.

This Week: I need to outline a bit more for my Camp NaNo novel. Camp starts in two days. With that being said, I need to finish my homework in a timely manner. Plus, I need to work on my Detective Florence manuscript for my writing group.

April is going to be a busy month; especially when it comes to writing. I hope I’m able to get a routine down and stick with it–even if it’s just for the month.

How was your weekend?

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Body Portrait Exercise

This is yet another exercise from my Creative Writing: Nonfiction class. You’re supposed to draw a self-portrait of yourself (whole body; no head-shots). Add in every single detail about yourself such as the color of your hair/eyes/skin, birthmarks/scars, anything and everything.

I’ll admit I did not actually draw the picture. I have a scar under my chin and I decided to write about that right away.

Enjoy.

         I have a lot of scratches and bruises on my body. There’s a bruise on my right wrist where one of my Autistic children at work bit me, there’s a bruise on my right knee where I fell on a patch of ice, and there’s a paper cut on the tip of my left index finger from one of my textbooks. There are more marks on me from various things and overall clumsiness.

However, those marks will only stay for a little while and soon the story behind them will be no more. But there is one mark in particular on my body that will never go away. It’s a mark that only I know about unless I willingly tell people about it because no one can see it.

Seven years ago, I was at my cousin’s aunt’s house for my cousin’s birthday. She had a lovely house. It was large, big enough to be a mansion (according to my 14-year-old self). My sister and I were in awe at the large kitchen, spacious living room, and beautiful dining room.

The backyard was just as fantastic. There was a wide wooden deck leading to a large area of luscious green grass big enough to run a few laps. A large volleyball net covered most of the yard, but the biggest attraction was the in-ground pool complete with a Jacuzzi and waterfall. It was the beginning of July so naturally we spent the whole day in the pool.

While the adults were setting up the tables on the deck for presents and cake, all the kids were playing in the pool. My sister, cousins, and I repeatedly jumped in the pool all at once trying to make as many waves as we could.

My older sister, younger cousin, and I stood at the edge of the pool ready to jump. My sister counted down and when she got to three, all three of us jumped into the pool; except my foot slipped on the wet concrete and I face-planted onto the ground landing on my chin.

“Rachel!” My sister screamed mid-air in a panic right before she landed in the water.

I sat up on the ground in a daze. I didn’t cry and I didn’t think anything too serious happened. I was just confused. I can’t describe the pain because I don’t remember how much pain I was in. I don’t know if there was no pain at all or if it hurt so much that it just felt numb.

My sister immediately hopped out of the pool and rushed to my aid. She stared at me in horror informing me that I was bleeding a lot. I told her I was fine, but when I touched the bottom of my chin with my index finger, my finger was covered in blood. Then I started to panic.

My heart beat faster, I started to get light-headed, and I wondered if I was going to somehow die from the loss of blood. I had never been hurt that bad before.

I walked over to my mom to show her my chin and before I knew it, all my cousin’s aunts were swarmed around me tending to my chin. They cleaned it up for me and put some cotton balls over it taping it on with a band-aid or two. It wasn’t a large cut, but it was deep.

“She’ll most likely need to get stitches.” One of cousin’s aunts’s stated to my mom.

I stared at my mom panic-stricken. There was no way I was going to be getting stitches. My mom shook her head trying to reassure me. However, when we got home my cut still wouldn’t stop bleeding. My mom called the doctor just to get it checked out, hoping it wouldn’t get infected.

Needless to say, I ended up having to get stitches. That was when I cried.

The doctor put in about five or six stitches under my chin. He talked to me while he stitched up my chin in an attempt to distract me. He asked me questions like how my summer was going, what grade I was going to be in the following school year, the type of questions you get asked when people don’t know you personally. It was hard to talk to him while he was working on my chin, but I was just thankful he was trying.

I was also thankful the cut was under my chin where I didn’t have to see the stitches or the needle; then my anxiety would have really spiked. Due to the Novocain, I didn’t feel anything, except for the occasional tug of the thread going into my chin. Overall, it wasn’t a bad experience.

After a week with a band-aid on my chin, I went back to the doctor to get the stitches removed. After that, it was as though nothing had ever happened.

I have a small scar underneath my chin. No one can notice it unless I tilt my chin up and point it out to them. Even then, they have to look really close to see it.

I don’t mind having a scar on my chin. It doesn’t bother me and it’s just another reason that makes me unique from everyone else. It gives me a good story to tell.

Map Exercise

Here is yet another writing prompt from my nonfiction class. We had to “map out” a place we’re familiar with whether it’s our favorite place, a place we go to all the time, or a past place that we no longer go to. The prompt was geared more towards describing the physical place than actually telling a story of that place.

Enjoy.

            One of my favorite places is inside Trinity church, which I have attended since I was very young. It’s two buildings in one connected by a large hall that is usually rented out. It has two addresses because of this and one area of the building was used for community outreach. It was called Hammond Square Preschool.

One of the two classrooms used to be called the blue room. It was set up into four large quarters making it rather large for a preschool classroom; most people assumed it to be two rooms in one. That was a major reason why the parents loved it so much; it was spacious. I can’t explain the room too much because it’s hard to remember what it looked like. Once the director was fired, the new director turned it into the yellow room. She repainted the walls to a pale yellow and worked with myself and the other teacher to rearrange the entire classroom.

Walking into the room and looking to the right was a rectangular table holding eight to ten kids for snack as well as the puzzles and coloring. Against the wall were two smaller rectangular tables holding about three kids with a shelf in the middle connecting the two. One table was the math center and the other was the science center. Each table had a bulletin board on the wall next to it and each was changed monthly to a different math and science theme. Two tall white cabinets were added in two corners of the room in order to give the teachers more room for supplies as well as shelves built in underneath the counter to store the table choices for the kids to get at their leisure.

To the first left was the book corner, except it was a raised platform. We took six cubbies and laid them flat draping a green rug over to make it more comfortable. We added pillows, stuffed animals, and a white canopy to hang over the area. We added a larger bookshelf so the kids had more variety. Next to that was dramatic play, but it was bigger with a rack to hang dress-up clothes and also a small nook was built under the counter for the kids to play in.

To the second right after walking into the room was the cubby area with a large blue rug for circle time. More shelf space was added underneath the counter in order to store more blocks for the kids. To the second left was the art area with a circular table holding about four kids. Two sinks were added into the room as well as a brand new blue padded easel attached to the wall for two kids at a time to use. Shelves were added in the wall as a drying rack and shelves were added under the counter for white and construction paper for the kids to use. Another white cabinet was added in the corner for the teachers.

Myself and the other teachers were excited for these changes. It looked so much better than the original blue room. It was as though we were starting fresh, which was something we all needed after having a falling out with the old director of the school. The children loved it and the parents were very pleased; especially with the yellow color because they thought the room looked a lot brighter between the paleness of the yellow and also the natural sunlight coming in from the windows.

However, while the building is still there and the church still carries on, Hammond Square Preschool does not exist anymore. I worked there for only two and a half years because back in December 2013 the school closed. The enrollment was too low to keep the school open. It was a devastating time for the current families as well as the teachers. The parents had to find a new school for their children in the middle of the school year and the teachers had to find new jobs. It also hurt the church to have to close its doors since the church owned the preschool and it had been open for a long time. The preschool was a huge part of the church, so it was as though a huge chunk of the church was missing.

The church has a Sunday school program and the classes are always held in the preschool’s classroom. Now since the yellow room is vacant, the church decided it was best to use it as the Sunday school’s official classroom. I am a teacher and the director of the Sunday school program at Trinity church, so it was odd to be rearranging the yellow room yet again to turn it into a Christian classroom; especially since I changed the room only three months prior. It also hurt because I miss Hammond Square—the teachers, the kids, the parents—but I was also glad the Sunday school children were finally going to have a place to call their own. I was excited to be changing the classroom over again. It was as though the space was getting a second chance.

I made subtle changes because I still wanted it to look like a classroom. I also didn’t want to forget how the original classroom looked like because I want to remember playing with the kids, prepping and doing art activities with them, and watching them play and grow. So, instead of the snack, math, and science centers in the first quarter of the room, there are two circular tables creating an eight. The kids sit there when we read the story and also to do a few worksheets. I changed one bulletin board to an interactive Christian activity for the kids and the other one with information and facts about what we’re learning.

In the second quarter, the book corner is still the same, only it has Christian stories and Bibles on the shelves. The dramatic play area is more or less the same as well. The blocks were moved over there and I kept a few pieces from the preschool for the Sunday school kids. I also added in some Christian games as well.

The third quarter now has two rectangular tables. This is where the kids do their craft project after the lesson. The easel and drying rack is still the same as well as the two sinks in case we do a messy project. I rearranged all the art supplies on the shelves for easy access for the teachers and the kids. This is also where they have snack when the lesson is over. The other side of the room, where the cubbies and original block area was, is extra space for the Thrift Shop. The Sunday school is small, so we decided to only have three quarters of the room instead of all four. I bought posters to hang on the walls and the kids will also be able to display their own artwork on the walls since we don’t share the room with anyone anymore.

I loved Hammond Square and it broke my heart when I lost my job. However, the church itself is in a much better spot now that the Sunday school has its own space. The kids from the Sunday school are much happier. They are excited to have the opportunity to hang their projects on the wall and have a special place to play and show off to their parents without having to clean it up precisely for the preschool. Between meeting many families, learning from the teachers, enjoying the company of the children, and that it was my first teaching job, I have gone through a lot in that place. It has changed so much, but I’ve changed because of that. It may change again and again, but it’s a place I hope to never lose.

Snow Day!

My mailbox and fence in the front yard.
My mailbox and fence in the front yard.

Blizzard 2015 (that’s what they’re calling it) has hit us hard. Everyone stayed safe (as far as I know) and it gave me a snow day from work. So go Blizzard 2015!

We got about 2-3 feet of snow… maybe more. I’m not entirely sure. As you can see from the picture above my fence and mailbox was just about buried. I took that picture earlier this morning, so it’s a bit worse now.

I charged all my electronics last night (Kindle, phone, 3DS, Wii U controller, and laptop) just in case. My co-worker said, “Isn’t it sad that our first thought of a power outage is to charge our electronics?” It’s not worrying about food spoiling, heat, or anything like that.

Yes, we are human and we have our priorities straight.

The snow started at 12:30 PM yesterday (Monday) and is still going strong. It’s not expected to stop until about midnight/one o’clock in the morning, which would be Wednesday. It’s kind of crazy, but cool at the same time.

It was nice not to have to go to work today. I got a lot of homework done. Two out of my four classes are done, one class I just have one more assignment to do, and my other class (Spanish, if you couldn’t guess…) has a quiz and a project left. I’m hoping to get the rest done tomorrow because I have another snow day tomorrow! Yay! They’re not optimistic they’ll have the snow cleaned up by tomorrow morning for school to resume, so I get to sleep in again and have another pajama day. Fine by me.

In addition to homework, Kris and I played video games. No surprise there, right? The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Super Mario 64. Two games from the Nintendo 64… we’re going old school because we’re cool like that.

I did write today, so I actually did something. I typed up about 14 pages of Detective Florence 2. I’m about halfway through the manuscript now so I’m hoping to finish by the end of the week. Then I can outline the next part so I can write the next part in February. I think that sounds like a good plan, yes?

Tomorrow will definitely be helpful since I don’t have to spend six hours of my day at work. If I can get my homework and another chunk of writing done, then the rest of the week will be a breeze writing-wise… even with work and babysitting thrown into the mix.

Anyway, I hope anyone getting hit by this blizzard is doing well… I hope we’re all warm and all have power in our houses.

School Days

Today was the first day back to school for me. It’s my last semester for my Bachelor’s degree, so keep your fingers crossed everything goes well!

This semester I’m taking…

Intro to Developmental Disabilities. It’s a psychology course and I took it for my English degree because I needed two non-English electives. I decided to take psychology because it’s always been an interesting subject for me. Also, I work with special education kids, so I thought it would be helpful to know. Of course, despite the title of the course, it’s not at all what I thought it would be. It’s able living among people with disabilities. How they live and how they fit in around us. I was expecting to have more knowledge on actual disabilities and that’s not what it is. However, after doing the first assignment I kind of got a taste of what the course description actually means. It might turn out to be good after all.

Spanish. Every degree, as far as I know, has a foreign language requirement. So I’m finally on my last Spanish course. It’s accelerated, so it’s only 10-weeks as opposed to my other classes that are 14-weeks. It will be a good class. I’ve had the professor before and she’s great. I enjoy Spanish and wish I was fluent in it… with enough practice, maybe I will be someday. It’s intimidating, though. Since it’s accelerated the homework load is a bit much. It’ll take up a good chunk of my time each week.

American Women Novelists. I have to take a diversity English course and this counted so… I took it. To be honest, it’s not the kind of class I would willingly take, but it seems good. We’ll be reading a lot of novels by women authors. Our first book is by Sylvia Plath. I’ve heard of her, but never read anything from her. There was only one other author I heard from and actually read one of her books and that’s Jacqueline Woodson. I read one of her books back in middle school and enjoyed it, so I’m hoping I enjoy this book as well.

Creative Writing: Non-Fiction. Last semester I took Creative Writing: Fiction I. I was hoping to take Fiction II this semester just to complete it, but it wasn’t offered for some reason. I decided to go along with Non-Fiction I, even though I wouldn’t be able to take Non-Fiction II either because this is my last semester. I’ve always been interested in Non-Fiction, so it’ll be a good class. I’m sure I’ll learn something new.

With that being said, I did a lot of homework today both before and after work. I got a good chunk done–I only have to do a bit of reading for my Novelists class and my Disabilities class. I have to do a writing prompt for my Non-Fiction class, but that won’t take too long and it will be easy. So I think I did a good job with homework today considering I don’t have much left.

Except Spanish. I didn’t touch Spanish yet.

So I didn’t get much editing done on Detective Florence 2 today. I typed up about ten pages of the next draft before my eyes started crossing from the computer screen. Aside from being at work, I’ve been staring at the computer all day long.

That’s how my day went… and how all my days will go now that school has started again. Now I’m off to go get some reading done for my classes. I always try to finish my homework by the weekend so I can relax and also spend my weekend writing. I’m off to a good start so far!

Homework Complete

Aside from editing my story draft for my Fiction class and editing my Harry Potter essay for my Rowling & Tolkien class (both due in two weeks, so… whatever), I have completed my homework for the week!

One week’s worth of homework for four classes done in two days. I would like to complain and say it was a struggle, but it actually wasn’t. For some reason, I just didn’t get a lot of homework this week. Maybe it’s because next week we have off due to Thanksgiving? Whatever the reason, I’ll be sure to say I’m thankful for the lack of homework this week at the dinner table next week.

I’m busy after work for the rest of this week, but I’ll be sure to write every morning before work. I get up super early so I have an hour and a half/two hours before work. I’m behind on my word count, but if I can stay focused for those few hours for the next three mornings I’ll catch up no problem.

Saturday will be another Barnes & Noble writing date with my sister. I’m sure I’ll get a lot done then, too. Maybe I can even hit 50k by Sunday. Can I write 22k in five days?

If it happens, it happens. I’m not going to make it a goal. As much as I love writing, I want to take advantage of the lack of homework–it’s almost like getting two weeks off from school.

I have video games to play, people!

My priorities are clearly right where they should be…

In all seriousness though, I plan on hitting 50k by Thanksgiving. That gives me eight days to write 22k. It will be nice if I can do it in five, but eight days is my current goal.

Hopefully not everyone else is behind like me!

Homework Is My Life

Homework has always been a priority over writing. I wish it wasn’t, but you know… deadlines. I have a week to do my assignments and I don’t have any deadlines for my writing. Except for NaNo months, but… 30 days is more than seven days. So, again, homework wins.

BUT…

I did really well this morning! I woke up and got an hour and a half in of homework before I went to work. Then I came home from work, did a little more homework for about two hours and viola!

I completed all my assignments for two out of my four classes for this week. For my psych class I have to work on my project (which won’t take long at all) and take a quiz (which takes 15 minutes, but he doesn’t open the quizzes until Thursday so I can’t do it yet). For my Rowling & Tolkien class I need to critique two essays for the two classmates in my group. Again, that shouldn’t take long. I can finish all that (except the quiz) tomorrow morning and after work.

I also have to do the final draft of my Harry Potter essay and do the final draft of the first chapter of Detective Florence (which I sent in for my project in my Fiction class for feedback). Those aren’t due for another two weeks, though. I plan on slowly working on them this week to get them out of the way, but once the homework that’s due this Sunday is completed I am going to take the time to write! Writing will take priority over homework for that time being.

I didn’t write today and probably won’t get a chance tomorrow, but I can write from Wednesday all the way through next week. Next week I don’t have school and only have two and a half days of work because of Thanksgiving.

It’s like a NaNo jackpot!

I Skipped Three Days

It’s in the middle of week two for NaNoWriMo, 12 days into the month. Due to other obligations I ended up skipping three days so far. I skipped Sunday, Monday, and today.

I’m still ahead of the game, but only by about 1,000 words or so. If I skip tomorrow then I’ll be behind, even if it’s only a little bit.

I was hoping to have all my 50,000 words done by yesterday since I had a four day weekend from work. However, homework does tend to get in the way as well as life. Not to mention that I haven’t been feeling well, so that doesn’t help anything.

I have a 10-page essay to write with a five-slide PowerPoint and a three-minute audio presentation to go with it. Yeah.

So I finished just about all my homework for this week except for a few things that don’t open until tomorrow and… the essay. If I can just get that essay written and out of the way then all my troubles will be over.

The sad part is that the essay is on Harry Potter. Who wouldn’t want to write about Harry Potter? Well, if I was able to write about whatever I wanted about Harry Potter then it would be fine, but of course school has to suck the fun out of everything.

I hope everyone else is keep their heads above water when it comes to NaNo… and school!

Working Forever

Career

The other day I was complaining about school to my co-workers. Not really “complaining,” but just saying how I would really like to be done soon. I feel as though this current semester has been dragging on since the beginning of time. Then I still have one semester left for my bachelor’s degree. Then I’m still not done and I get to start my Master’s. If everything goes according to plan, I should be officially done with school when I’m 23- or 24-years-old. Not bad, right?

So when I said this, one of the teachers in my classroom laughed and said, “Why, so you can work all the time?”

She was kidding, but she did have a point. Then again, I would rather work full time and save my money rather than work full time and have all my money go down the drain to school… with homework to do to top it off.

When I finish school that means I will have more time to write. I love my job, but just like any other normal person I don’t wish to stay there forever. I love teaching and being with the kids just as much as I love writing, but if I had to choose between the two… I would hands-down pick writing.

I want to write all the time. I want to wake up in the morning, make a cup of coffee, sit at my desk and write. I want to be able to write a couple thousand words or a few good pages, outline and make notes of a new idea, or edit an old one. Then I can go out with friends feeling accomplished and do it all over again the next day. I would certainly be living my definition of a dream.

I don’t want to have to worry about being at work at a certain time. I don’t want to have to worry about getting my homework in on time. The only deadlines I want to worry about are what my agent/publisher tells me. I want my only concern to be “should I kill off this character?”

Of course, when I finish school I’ll still have to work. Writing to pay the bills will not happen overnight, but I hope that it will eventually happen someday. I want to have the ability and the option to write all day, every day.

Whenever this happens, I won’t get the luxury of retiring like everyone else. However, by being able to sit home all day and do what I love it’ll be like I retired at a young age.

Even when I’m old and gray, I’m sure I’ll still be writing.

Anticipating November

I am patiently waiting for November to arrive because…

–I have a lot of days off from work for various reasons. The first week is a four day week, the second week is a three day week, the third week is a full week (that will most likely drag), and the last week is a two and a half day week. Less work means more writing.

–My Spanish class ends the first week of November. For the rest of November (and the beginning of December) I will only have homework for four classes instead of five. Less homework means more writing.

–Thanksgiving. Who doesn’t love food?

–Vacation. My family and I go away for Thanksgiving weekend each year. It will be nice to have nothing to worry about. Of course, I will have my writing supplies with me.

–NaNoWriMo. Writing, writing, and more writing!

November is going to be a busy month. It will go by quick (and it will be the holidays before we know it!).

I can’t wait!