Thursday, January 29, 2015

Supe's Day Workshop!

  • Post the link to your OWN blog in the comments section.

  • Once you post your link, check out other people's links in the comments.

Read their blog, comment, follow, and happy blogging! 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Who doesn't?

Did you ever meet someone who, when asked what they are into, replies, “I like music.”

Um, hello vague.  That’s like saying, “I enjoy food.”

Who DOESN’T like some sort of music?  Who can honestly say that they detest all music and never listen to music ever? I think the answer is no one.

Of course, there are different levels of “liking music.”  Some people play.  Some people compose.  Some people have extensive collections.  Some people attend concerts like it is their job.  Some live with ear buds permanently attached to their ears. (Ahem, my daughter).  Some fit into all the above categories. 

Students often ask me the type of music I’m into.  Sometimes they assume and sometimes they guess.  They are usually wrong. 

No, I don’t like metal.  I never did.  I don’t like any modern bands and don’t listen to the radio other than NPR.  In fact, I don’t think I have fallen in love with a new song in many, many years.

I’m boring.  I still listen to the same music I have listened to for the past twenty plus years.  I still like the same artists I did in high school.  My top eleven (I tried ten, but I couldn’t decide) favorite songs really have not changed in the past twenty-five years or so.  Sometimes the order changes, but that’s about it.  Maybe that’s lame.  I told you, I’m boring. 

So, I figured I’d share it.  I hope some of you have heard of at least one!  I have even included some of my favorite lines.

I would love to make the music video for this…  I mean a real one.

"Do you remember when
You laid beside me?
And you said you'd marry  me?
And not deny me?"

I heard this for the first time when I was taking a year off from NYU.  I remember watching it with my brother Kenny.  At one point, the entire band was in a tree.  It was gorgeous.

"Some say I'm vague
And I easily fade
Foolish parade of fantasy...
Drink in your eyes,
Drink in your sighs,
Grass on my thighs,
My aching legs."

When I hear this on Pandora, I rock out.  I don’t care who is watching!   Favorite lines,

“I’ll read to you, here, save your eyes.
You’ll need them, your boat is at sea.
Your anchor is out, you’ve been swept away.
And the greatest of teachers won’t hesitate
To leave you there by yourself chained to fate…”

That’s deep shit, yo.

I remember playing this on repeat when I was decorating my dorm room at USM.  Carrie Mae, who I didn’t know at the time, sat opposite my door and just listened.  I  knew I liked her for a reason.

Favorite line “Post nubila, Phoebus.”  It means, “After clouds, sun.”

Gorgeous, gorgeous song…

"Won't you stay? Won't you stay?
You were in my head today.
I closed my eyes to try to make you stay."

6. “Destiny” ~ Zero 7 (especially the acoustic version!)

This features Sia who is uber popular right now when she was with Zero 7.  I LOVE this song. 

"The journey's long and I feel so bad
I'm thinking back to the last day we had.
Old fades into the new
And soon I know I'll be back with you.
I'm nearly with you.

When I'm weak, I draw strength from you
And when you're lost, I know how to change your mood
And when I'm down, you breathe life over me.
Even though we're miles apart, 
We are each other's destiny."

"When I lay down my head,
At the end of my day
Nothing would please me better
Than to find that you're there
When I wake."

At one point, my mother forbid me from listening to this because she thought it was pro-suicide.  Um.  No.

"We eagerly wait to feel the labors of love...
Maybe life isn't what it seems...

Beneath a grapefruit moon, we would roll in the grass
You said these times must never pass.
I know in love is where you wanted to be,
But when I ran, you didn't follow me."

"Let me in, let me in, I'll give you candy.
Let me in, let me in, I'll give you avocados.
That's much more than most people have to offer."

Radiohead is always deep, but this is INTENSE.  It's trippy as hell.  Tell me what YOU think the lyrics mean:

"Everything, everything, everything, everything in it's right place.
Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon.
There are two colors in my head.
What was that you tried to say?"

This has been my number one song since February 1987.  I’m not kidding.  I was a freshman in high school and the then love of my life, Harry Lupo, and I were on the phone.  He asked me what I was listening to and I said “War” by U2.  I had just gotten the RECORD (yes, RECORD) in the mail from one of those record clubs (remember those?  Do they even exist anymore?) 

He asked me if I had listened to “Drowning Man” which was the last song on the first side.  I hadn’t yet since I had just put it on. 

“Well, I want you to listen to it.  It used to be my favorite song, but now I’m giving it to you.” 

I laughed.  I wasn’t about to have someone ELSE decide what my favorite song was. 

After we hung up, I listened to it. I mean REALLY listened to it.

Take my hand

You know I'll be there

If you can 

I'll cross the sky for your love.

For I have promised

For to be with you tonight

And for the time that will come.

Take my hand

You know I'll be there

If you can 

I'll cross the sky for your love.

And I understand

These winds and tides

This change of times

Won't drag you away.

Hold on, and hold on tightly.

Hold on, and don't let go of my love.

The storms will pass, it won't be long now.

This love will last, this love will last forever.

And take my hand, you know I'll be there.

If you can I'll cross the sky for your love.

Give you what I hold dear.

Hold on, hold on tightly.

Hold on, and hold on tightly.

Rise up, rise up with wings like eagles.

You run, you run.

You run and not grow weary.

Hold on, and hold on tightly. 

Hold on, hold on tightly 

This love, lasts forever.

Now this love lasts forever.

I was hooked.  I think I listened to it fifty times in a row.  “Give you what I hold dear?”  “The storm will pass?”  These words have sustained me for almost thirty years.  I believe they will continue to do so.  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Student Work

It should go without saying that my students are brilliant, funny, and just freakin' awesome people to be around.  I am always impressed by their academic work, but sometimes their creative work really blows my mind.

Advanced Placement Language and Composition is NOT a particularly creative class.  I give them a teeny tiny window to express their creativity... and they run with it. 

Here are some particularly fabulous ones.

Kailee and Evan's Catcher in the Rye trailer

Dailey, Daisy, Kay, Kelly, and Vivian's Glass Castle trailer

Berina and Ajla's Catcher in the Rye trailer

Adis, Ajla, Berina, Dzevida, and Ish's Scarlet Letter video

Bails, Emma, and Neila's Catcher video

Alanna, Natale, Chris, and Leonely's Two Trains Running video

Alex's SUPER creative book interpretations:

1.  The cottage from A Thousand Pieces of Gold made out of CUT cardboard

2.  Holden Caulfield's head -- one side is his 16-year-old side and the other is his childlike nature MADE ENTIRELY OUT OF SODA CANS!

Here is also the newly formed Young Filmers Club award winning recycling video!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Prologue: An Inconvenient Truth

If I had been to write this as my third grade summer assignment, my title would have been, “The Worst Summer Vacation Ever!” 
But I haven’t been in third grade in a long, long time and this wasn’t a summer assignment.  And if I’m truthful, it wasn’t the worst summer vacation I ever had either.  Though it was far from the best, it surely wasn’t the worst.  I don’t even know if I could call it the most memorable one either.  It was just the least convenient. 
When I talk about the summer of 2009, I refer to it as
 “when I got sick.”  Inevitably, people who aren’t in the know will ask what happened, and when I tell them I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the response is always some variation of the following: their faces contort with a mixture of discomfort and sadness like I just told them I was consecutively fired from my job, my dog ran away, and was given five more minutes to live. 

“Oh I’m so, so sorry!      
I assure them that I’m fine, that it’s no big deal.  I don’t think they believe me, that I have my game face on, that I’m just trying to be brave.  This is not the case.  I am the biggest complainer you will ever meet, quick to let the world know when I’m upset over something, first to comment about bad wait service, vocal about the injustices of the world.  And I’m also a terrible liar.  If I wasn’t fine, I certainly wouldn’t say I was.
But I am fine.  Really.    I am.
This isn’t saying that what I went though wasn’t horrible, because it was.  I said a million times that I wouldn’t wish those six weeks between June  and August on my worst enemies (and believe me, I have quite a few of them!) Having MS sucks.  It’s annoying and frustrating and yeah, at times really scary too. 
     It was not, however, the end of my life.
     Soon after I was diagnosed, my favorite cousin called
me to talk about what was 
going on.  He’s super spiritual and does yoga for an hour and a half every day and only eats organic and preaches healthy living to anyone who wants to listen (and even to some who do not).  Despite his quirks, his was the first diaper I ever changed 29 years ago and that bonds to you to a person, so I was genuinely happy to hear from him.  After the requisite pep talk that came from every person who found out, he said, “You know, Rebecca, this is going to change your life.  From now on, you’ll constantly refer to your life as pre- and post- MS.”   
     Um, no, no I won’t.
I know he meant well, but if anything, what he said just pissed me off.  Getting diagnosed with MS was not some life-changing, life-affirming thing that I was grateful for.  I have heard accounts of cancer survivors who have said they were actually happy to have gone through the experience because of the gifts it brought them. This is so not the case with me.  If I could go back in time and magically take it away, I would do it in a heartbeat.  Believe me, I had other things planned for that summer, and lying on my couch, numb from the neck down, watching hours of bad television was not what I wanted.
I have a friend who, when her sister-in-law got diagnosed with breast cancer, started making and selling stained glass pink ribbons to raise money for a cure.  I can’t tell you how many male students of mine wear “I love boobies” wrist bands (though I’m sure it’s more because they love boobies and less about cancer awareness).  I even read about someone who dyed her poodle pink (with vegetable dye, so no reason to be outraged) to raise awareness.  To all of them, I say, good for you.  If that works for them and makes them feel proactive, then they should go on with their bad selves!

MS is not the banner I choose to live my life under.  I saw someone at the local grocery store with a license plate that read MS WALK.  Really?  I don’t know anything I feel so passionately about that I want to advertise it everywhere I go.  Maybe that means I’m a terrible person because I don’t feel that strongly, but I just don’t.  Having MS is a thing in my life, but it is not by any stretch of the word my life.  It’s a thing, but it’s not the thing.
    I am fully aware of how horrific MS can be.  Lucky me, I have a fairly mild case that is being aggressively treated.  I haven’t had the debilitating exacerbations that I’ve read about online and heard about through friends of friends of friends.  I know this is a serious disease that has ruined many people’s lives… but it hasn’t ruined mine.
MS = no fun.  I wish I didn’t have it, but it really isn’t that big of a deal.  I am well aware that because I do indeed have a not-so-serious case, I don’t have to deal with the majority of crap that most people with MS have to deal with.  This isn’t life-ending.  It isn’t life-affirming.  It just is. What good will it do to spend hours bitching and moaning about it?  I am just saying that for me, I needed to see everything that happened to me in a different light.  I needed to accept it, make peace with it, and yeah, even laugh about it. I mean, what else can I do, really?  It isn’t like my life stopped when I got diagnosed.  There is still a kid to raise, bills to pay, a house to clean, a job to do.  Life hasn’t stopped because I found out I have MS, and really, if you want to know the truth, life now isn’t a whole lot different than life before June 2009. 
MS is inconvenient, but you know what, a lot of things in my life are inconvenient.  I have thin hair and I’m going grey, I’m chubbier than I want to be, and I occasionally get psoriasis.  All inconvenient things, but I don’t plan on getting a license plate for that any time in the near future. 

This is not a survivor’s story; it’s just a story, my story.  Bad things went down those six weeks, and – call it therapy – I need to talk about it.  I’m angry at the medical community for telling me nothing was wrong with me because they couldn’t figure it out.  I’m angry at my body for attacking itself.  I’m angry at the mean things that coworkers said about me when I was in the hospital.  
And, because responding with physical violence probably isn’t a good plan of attack, I guess I’ll write it down.