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?

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!

NaNo Reward

This semester I’m taking a psychology course called “Learning and Behavior.” It’s all about how we learn, how we behave, why we behave the way we do, etc. It discusses ways to reinforce positive behavior and ways to get rid of negative behavior. My professor wants us to focus on our own behavior, but the textbook focuses on children in a classroom setting; which is fine with me because I’m able to use what I learn from the textbook and use it at work.

But I’m supposed to be focusing on myself. We have a behavior reinforcement project to do. In other words, I have to put myself on a behavior plan.

The first assignment was to come up with a behavior I wanted to increase or decrease. I had to admit, this was a tough decision. I have myself on a pretty tight schedule when it comes to balancing work and school. Then I realized… it’s pretty difficult for me to fit writing into that schedule because I work full time and always seem to have so much homework. So I thought, why not? I decided to put myself on a behavior plan that will get me to write more.

Write It

Of course I always want to write, but there are things that take bigger priority. My homework has a deadline, I have to be at work at a certain time each day, my writing… well, it has no deadline as I have nothing being published and I don’t have a certain time to write every day. I tried doing that and I didn’t get very far with it. The main problem is that I don’t write when I don’t have time and I still don’t write when I do have time because I’m usually exhausted from work and school.

After I decided on this topic and submitted it to my professor I thought, how am I going to do this? This isn’t an ordinary project where I sit down at my computer and type an essay or do research on Google. No, this is something I will be working on every day without even realizing it.

Yesterday, Kris and I were discussing NaNo and rewards. During July’s Camp NaNo session, Kris and I bought Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U. We didn’t open it and left it leaning it against the TV. We were only allowed to open and play the game if both of us hit our word goals–50,000 for me and 25,000 for Kris. Due to the game staring us down, we both won and spent many hours playing the game when the month was over.

We decided to do something similar like that this year and reward ourselves for winning.

I told Kris that I was going to give myself a dollar for every 1,000 words I write. In other words, when I hit 50,000 I’ll have 50 dollars. If I only get to 34,659 I’ll have 35 dollars (remember: always round up!). Then I can use that money for whatever I want at the end of the month… it will most likely be for a new video game.

This idea has been in my head for a bit and I just realized about an hour ago that this is my project. My reinforcement for writing will be money. So I guess that solves that problem. I bet my professor is going to just love my project! The thing is I wouldn’t need a reinforcement system for my writing if it weren’t for homework tying me down all the time. Ironic, huh?

Is anyone else giving themselves any kind of reward; whether it’s a daily word count reward or an overall reward for winning?

Petsitting

image
Meet Cookie the Beagle!

I don’t know if I ever mentioned this, but a few weeks ago my cousins got a puppy. Her name is Cookie, she’s a Beagle, and she’s three-months-old. She’s loud, obnoxious, clumsy, and very hyperactive. She’s sleeping in the picture and that’s only because I turned on the TV. Lucky for me, that made her pass out.

I spent my day petsitting her because it was Jackie and Kat’s first day back to school and Uncle Kevin, like always, had work. It was no easy job, I’ll tell you that much. I spent most of the day sitting on the couch instead of at my desk trying to do homework or edit. For some reason, she barked a lot when I was at my desk. She was fine if I sat on the couch. The problem is I have a hard time getting work down on the couch because… well, it’s not a desk.

Cookie kept eating everything. The trash, the plastic bag for the trash, my shoes, my desk, the rug, the couch, the blanket… you name it, she tried eating it. She also discovered she could fit under the couch. So, half the time I was working on the couch I could hear her scuffling around on the hardwood floor under me crying and barking.

Needless to say, I typed up ten pages of Detective Florence today. I have been doing homework the rest of the day. I have most of it done. Most of the stuff I had to do were assignments I couldn’t do with a barking puppy around. My Spanish class, for example, I need to record myself talking. I can’t have Cookie barking and whining the background. My professor and classmates wouldn’t be able to hear me and I probably wouldn’t be able to hear myself. Seriously, she has a loud bark.

For my Fiction class I have to write a few journals and prompts, but I need to time myself. I can’t set a timer and keep pausing it because I notice the dog is eating the rug or getting stuck under the couch. That would just disrupt my creative flow/thinking/whatever the timed writing is supposed to do, thus making the assignment ineffective and pointless on my part.

For two of my classes I have to watch a YouTube video and I also have a test to take. It’s not a real test, it’s an ungraded assessment, but I still want to try my hardest on it. Plus, the test might be timed and I won’t find that out until I start it. I can’t pause it and go back to it later, either. Again… more things I have to do that do not involve a puppy.

I have to petsit her again tomorrow. I’m hoping she’ll sleep a lot so I can get some homework done. Despite all the homework I just mentioned (and that’s not all of it) I’m almost done. I should be able to finish all my assignments tomorrow if I really put my mind to it. Plus, I still have the rest of tonight to keep working on the assignments.

So, tomorrow might not be another big editing day (although I hope to edit at least ten pages again), but at least I’ll get homework out of the way. Then Saturday and Sunday can be spent editing. I think that sounds like a solid plan. I just have to hope it all works out in my favor.

First Day Of School

Homework

I started school today. I have five classes. I have about a billion assignments to do already. But… can I really complain?

Yes and no.

I’ve been looking forward to all my classes. I’m taking Creative Writing: Fiction, Writing About Place, Selected Authors: J.K. Rowling & J.R.R. Tolkien, Learning & Behavior, and Spanish. English, psychology, and Spanish. We all know I love English and creative writing, I’ve always had an interest for psychology, and I enjoy learning Spanish (regardless of whether or not I’m good at it).

The teachers (as far as I can tell) are pretty good, as well. My Selected Authors professor is 100% a nerd, which is awesome. She’s been doing a lot of fan-girling for Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. The professor for my Writing about Place class is nice as I’ve had her for another class. She knows her stuff. My professors for Fiction and my psych class seem to be good, as well. Spanish… I think she’s nice, but I can’t tell because everything is written is Spanish, so who knows?

All of my classes are online, so I don’t have to deal with people. That’s a plus. I’ve done the discussion boards for every class so far and my classmates seem interesting, engaged in the classes, and nice. I’m still happy I don’t have to see them in person, but if I did it wouldn’t be a bad thing. We all know how anti-social I am. I do much better over the Internet. I suppose that’s probably a bad thing, though.

Anyway, I’m listing all pros, aren’t I? Oops, I’m sorry. I forgot to mention all the homework.

To put it simply: I’m going to drown in homework this semester.

It’s a lot of reading and a lot of writing. Would you expect any less from an English degree? No, of course not. However, the weeks are always Monday-Sunday. We get our assignments on Monday, they’re due the following Sunday, and repeat for the next week. It’s Wednesday which means we have two less days. It’s always like that at the beginning of the semester, but my professors have always taken that into account. They always give us just a small icebreaker discussion board, give us a chance to get our textbooks or if we already have the book we can start reading to get ahead. They give us a quick assignment due by the end of the week, but also more assignments which are due to the following week. It’s almost as if we get two weeks for the first week… does that make sense?

Not these professors, though. They’re all treating it like a normal week saying, “Careful! We’re already two days behind, so make sure you get everything in on time.” Yeah, thanks…

My psych professor is a different story. He wants us to call this “Week 0.” He gave us a discussion board and called it a day. We’ll get into the real class starting on Monday. Needless to say, I got all my psych homework done for the week.

I only edited ten pages of Detective Florence today because of school. I hope to alternate between school and writing tomorrow and for the rest of the days to come. Do a bit of homework, edit… do a bit of homework, edit… so on and so forth.

Just wait for work to get added into the mix on Monday. That will be super fun!

A Degree In…What?

Another semester for my English degree has ended. I’ve had about a week of freedom so far and I’m all ready counting down the days until I (unfortunately) have to start up again.

I can’t complain. I do like my classes and (most) of my professors, but that doesn’t mean I want my schooling to last forever. Also, like most people, I’m sick of the homework.

Now I’d be lying if I said I haven’t learned anything; I have. Some information is more useful than others, but there are a few things here and there that stick with me and I’m going to explain one thing that I’ve learned this past summer.

I took a class called Theories of Rhetoric and Composition. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but once I started the class I realized it was mostly about teaching writing. Okay, I thought to myself, I can do this. I mean, I’m a teacher; I love to teach. Granted, the most English I teach is the ABCs to preschoolers.

My textbook, Cross-Talk in Comp Theory, is a series of articles written by scholars and writers discussing the English language, writing in general, and teaching/learning to write.

Textbook

We read almost the entire book during the ten-week class. Some articles I got into, others I didn’t care for, and some I didn’t understand what they were talking about at all. Yet, there are 18 articles we didn’t read and I plan on reading them in my own time anyway. It’s still an interesting book, nonetheless.

However, do you want to know the number one thing I learned from this textbook and the class as a whole? The English language is the hardest, most complex thing in the universe.

Every article in that book is written by a different person, but every article we read quoted at least one or more of the other articles in the book. Why did they quote each other? Because each author was trying to prove the other one was wrong.

Should grammar be taught in the classroom? Some thought yes, others thought it was (or should be) common sense and only be taught to those learning English as a second language. What age should grammar be learned? The ages varied; some said as early as possible, others said college. How should teachers teach grammar? Tests, worksheets, memorizing, etc. There were so many different options.

That was just a few articles arguing about grammar alone. There were so many other “issues” they touched upon about writing, reading, and even speaking English.

I think that was part of the reason why I had such a hard time trying to understand some of the articles. I read one thinking, Yeah, that makes sense. Then the next article I read I would think, Well, that makes sense as well. I wasn’t too sure what to believe.

Then it dawned on me: If these “professionals” don’t know how to teach English, then what is going on in the minds of my professors? I have all ready had two professors give me mixed signals. One professor said when I cite in-text I should write, “(Author’s last name, page number)” and the following semester my professor took off points and said it should be, “(Author’s last name page number).” Do you see the difference?

Yes, one professor said I should use a comma (and my textbook told me to as well) while the other professor told me not to. I mentioned this to the professor who “corrected” me asking which was actually the “correct” way to cite and she never got back to me. So, I have decided to do whatever the professor wants for the sake of a good grade, but the bottom line is…what am I truly learning?

Keep in mind these two professors were not my professor for my Theories of Rhetoric and Composition class. So, when reading this textbook it gave me great insight on how I’m spending so much money, time, and effort for a degree in…what, exactly?

So many people assume I want to teach English because I have an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and now going for my Bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. The main reason I did this is because I want to teach preschool if publishing novels doesn’t pay the bills, but it’s always been in the back of my mind to teach English in case I ever want to stop or take a break from chasing three-and-four-year-olds around all day.

Of course, after reading these articles, I question whether I would ever want to teach English or a creative writing course. I believe teaching is one of the most difficult occupations out there (and seriously underpaid). A teacher prepares a child for the future thus creating all the doctors, police officers, fire fighters, etc. Teaching should be taken seriously and I have run into many teachers and professors who don’t take it nearly as serious as they should.

Everyone learns differently and at their own pace. What might work for one child might not work for another. Therefore, it’s the teacher’s job to accommodate; create new, interesting ways to get the child to learn and understand while enjoying it. I realized that all the suggestions in the articles in my textbook would all work…they just might not work for everyone.

To know that my professors aren’t on the same page and there is no true way to teach and learn the English language as well as writing…then who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong? The citing is a prime example…I got points taken off an assignment for listening to a teacher; a colleague of my (at the time) current professor.

It’s annoying, but at the same time, I feel proud to be writing. I’m working in a difficult field and even though I don’t have any novels published yet, I’m still plugging away at it. I research and I learn from other writers as well as myself. I do learn things from my classes, I’m not trying to say school is useless or anything, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that writing is most definitely hands-on.

I write because I love it and since I love it so much, I’m willing to keep writing and teaching myself to get better at it. That is one thing a course and a textbook cannot teach me.

11 Out Of 50 Squares Complete

It’s been a long time, but I have actually been keeping up with my reading! I usually don’t, so this is a pretty big accomplishment for myself.

I don’t know if any of you remember, but at the beginning of 2014 I found two Reading Bingo charts. I completely forgot about it for a while, but when I found the charts the other day I looked through my “Read” shelf on GoodReads and filled in a few of the boxes.

Three of the boxes you all ready know about… I read Coming Clean and The Hobbit, and I, Robot. I’m going to explain the other seven books I’ve read whether you’re interested or not. These are all the books I read on the general bingo card:

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

For the square “a book with more than 500 pages” I read A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I had to read this book for my Science Fiction & Fantasy class last semester. I know people rave about this series and the TV show, but…it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I was very glad I was able to get through it. I will admit that it was interesting and I liked it to some certain extent, but it wasn’t good enough for me to run to Barnes & Noble and buy the rest of the series.

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

I read Psych: A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Read by William Rabkin for the square “a funny book.” I’ve watched and re-watched the TV show and absolutely love it! When I saw there were books based off of the show, I had to give it a shot. I must say, the author did it justice. The books are just as good as the show and I could hear the characters’ voices in my head as I read. It was written exactly like the show. Plus, it made for a good laugh.

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

For the square “a book published this year” I read The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel. I was at Barnes & Noble one day and while waiting for my parents, I picked up the book and started reading it. I got through the first 50 pages and then decided I might as well buy it. The reviews rave about how funny the book is, but I didn’t find too many “hilarious” moments. Overall, it was a good book and a quick read.

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

I downloaded A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton onto my Kindle for the square “a book with a mystery.” This is the first book of an “alphabet series.” The second book is called B is for Burglar and so on. I have yet to read the next book, even though I have it downloaded on my Kindle all ready. I read it because I started writing my own mystery series (Detective Florence) and wanted to read a bit in that genre. I look forward to finishing the series as the first book was very good. However, while the ending was satisfying, it was a bit abrupt which caused me to be a bit disappointed. I hope the other books don’t end like that.

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

For the young adult bingo card, I read If I Stay by Gayle Forman for the square “a book with music.” It was an interesting story line and the book is short, so it should have been a quick read. Yet, it took me a while to get into it. It made me cry, so there’s a plus for the book. As weird as it sounds, I love it when a good makes me cry–it shows the author did their job and I feel for the characters. I look forward to reading the sequel, but at the same time, I’m in no rush to go out and buy it anytime soon.

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, I began reading the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I read The Socerer’s Stone for the square “the first book in a series,” The Chamber of Secrets for “a book that became a movie,” and just yesterday I finished reading Prisoner of Azkaban for “a book with magic.” Starting in September I’m taking a class called Selected Authors: Tolkien & Rowling. I’m going to have to read books one, three, and seven of the Harry Potter series and since I’ve never read the books before I didn’t want to read them out of order, so I’m reading the entire series now. I don’t think I have to say much more to say on the matter… I’ve always loved Harry Potter and I know most of the rest of the world does, too.

And that’s that! I’m going to continue working through through the young adult bingo card as I’m currently reading through the whole Harry Potter series. I’m hoping I can finish the series in the next month. It took me about two weeks to get through the first three books, so here’s to hoping!