Literature In School or How The Dog Dies

My daughter is in the 6th grade. She has enjoyed most of her class, as much as a 12 year old can anyway. She does have a reoccurring complaint about the curriculum however.

It is a complaint that I echoed at her age and still ponder to day. The friends I have spoken with about it have the same issues. We can all agree, that while well written, they could have chosen better books for required reading.

I am not a dog person. I like dogs. I like most animals. I will happily play with and pet a dog. I had an absolutely amazing terrier mix as a kid who would go fishing with me and was smart enough to know when I had a fish hooked.  However, I am not really a dog person. As in I don’t think I am a good dog owner. They deserve more love and attention.  Cats on the other hand never ask for love or attention. If they want it, they take it and it doesn’t matter what you are doing at the time.

My cats are one of the reasons it is important for me to reread things I have written. Not only are there my own mistakes to look out for, but the keyboard sometimes gets walked on when I get up to get coffee. There won’t be a cat insight when I get back, but the evidence remains.

Some of you are wondering what that has to do with books and school. Well, when I was in middle school the preferred reading was every well written book where an animal dies at the end. Most of those books were dogs. Yes, they were heroes first but they still died.

Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, Black Beauty, Frankenstein, Animal Farm. These are all bloody death books from when I was in school. Good books from the vantage point of adulthood but when I was a kid I wasn’t so pleased.

Like my daughter said: “Why do they make us read books where everything dies? Isn’t life depressing enough? Are they trying to drive up the suicide rate?”

The thing is she has a whole new batch of books. They are ones I have never heard of but the theme remains the same. Someone or something dies at the end. I have to wonder if all of these authors read Romeo and Juliet and thought “Yep that is the way to go. Kill them at the end.”

If they want kids to read about death and such at least give them something else to focus on than a mom dying of cancer or a dog with rabies. How about some science fiction? How about the Hobbit? Yeah, some of the kids wouldn’t like it and a lot of parents don’t like their children getting wrapped up in fiction “nonsense”. But good heavens, Stephen King has happier endings than some of these things.

I am fortunate that both of my children like to read. The library is a fun place for us. Some kids don’t and the only exposure to books that they get is the enforced reading in schools. It would be nice if they got a chance to read something where, just once, everyone lives.

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Why we call her mom

happymothersday

She is called mom. A three letter word. Sometimes she is called mommy, mother, mama, or mum. There is a reason the title is short.

It is because: baker-cook-doctor-nurse-veterinarian-teacher-giver of comfort-floor cleaner-dish washer-gardener-florist-dentist-nutritionist-diaper changer-dog walker-peace maker-writer-mathematician-candy maker-caregiver-badminton champion-game player-swimmer-coach-lawyer-priest-costume designer-fashion expert-hair stylist-barber-plumber-clothes washer-babysitter-artist-landscaper-librarian-finder of lost things-food provider-editor-scientist-builder of box forts-groomer-advice giver-astronomer-wish giver-dream builder-water carrier-fun provider-guidance counselor-banker-car washer-tree pruner-farmer-organization specialist-furniture mover-camera person-director-photographer-set designer-smile maker-laugh provider-giver of unconditional love-life enhancement provider, doesn’t fit as easily on the little space they give you on forms.

That is just part of what my mommy has done and continues to do. The longer title can vary from person to person.

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Running in place

catnapIt feels as if sleep is a luxury, one I decadently wallow in when I can get it. However, too often it is beyond my reach. There is always something else that needs to be done so sleep gets pushed to the back burner. Thanks to my wonderful, loving mother, I was able to sleep hours and hours yesterday. She stayed over an extra day to take care of the kids so I could sleep.

It is morning now and that means lunches to pack, kids to wake, and cats to feed. Once the kids are at school, I have a porch to paint and a garden to plant. There is laundry to do, there is always laundry to do, and kids to pick up from school.

Then there will be homework to help with and dinner to start. Life never stops and rarely slows down. If I am not kept busy at home there is always work waiting at my night job. And lets not forget writing. That gets squeezed in too, usually in the mornings over a cup of coffee or tea.

Writing is the thing I want to do. The rest all has to be done. It is a hard juggling act.

When snoopyI get time to write I need to take greater advantage of that time and make the most of it. With my recent book of short stories available for sale and a new short story in the final editing, I feel like I am making progress on this crazy dream. I just need to get a few more of those works in progress into the completed file.

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Insecurities and titles

Tammi05-SneakPeek-AI am still getting used to the idea of being an author. I like the term writer better. It feels less…well self important, I guess. I am more of a bluejeans and t-shirts type of girl. The word “Author” makes me think of button up shirts and pressed slacks for some reason.

I should know better. I have met a lot of different author and every last one of them was very nice and not pompous at all. There were some in suits and some in slacks but there were also those in pirate costumes and utili-kilts with bottled frappacinos in the pockets.

It is an insecurity I need to over come. It is not like the other authors are going to turn on frabz-Pitchfork-Mob-ready-and-waiting-253c36me in mass and start yelling, “Fake! She’s a Fake! Raise the pitch forks!” Yet that is what I secretly expect.

However, it is the same at school gatherings too. I never feel like I fit in with the other parents. I feel like I need to make sure I am close to the exits in case the P.T.O demands a human sacrifice or something. Because deep down I know that it is going to be me or one of the lone dads in the crowd and I am pretty sure they can run faster.

Part of it comes from being an introvert and part of it comes from self doubt and the ghosts of nay sayers. Insecurity is a hurtle I will over come. It shrinks with each new book. I have three manuscripts in the re-write stage and one short story that is almost through editing.

you_fail_only_if_you_stop_writingThe short story will be sent off to my cover artist soon and then will be available on Amazon for the Kindle and ect. I have too much writing to get done to be hung up on insecurities. I will face them as they come. The title “Author” is just a shield. I am still a “Writer” underneath it all. Just like a Knight may wear armor but is still a squishy human inside the metal casing.

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Beware The Writer/ My Ego

coffee mugThere are  times when being a writer goes to my head. Like this morning for example. My daughter has a big test today and asked if I would take her by a coffee shop before school. Since coffee sounded good to me too I agreed. So I dropped my son of at his primary school and took my daughter out for caffeine.

Yes, I know. Some of you are saying that is  horrible parenting, but there is  more sugar than caffeine in her drink. It is like glorified chocolate milk. She thinks she is drinking coffee and feels adult, while I con her into eating breakfast which is really what wakes her up. (Shhh that is parental trickery.)

Anyway, the line at the drive through was roughly 140,000 cars long so I decided to go in. My hair was pulled back in a pony tail and I was wearing sweats because it was chilly this morning. I originally had no plans of getting out of the car. I was just going to drop the kids off and come home to work in the garden.

(Before I continue, I should  mention that I have worked as a barista before. I understand what it is like on the other side of the counter. I did it for years.)

So I walked inside and I am the third person in line. Waiting patiently, I pick out the food I am going to order and watch the antics of the a very enthusiastic child in line ahead of me. Then suddenly it is my turn and I order, pay, leave a tip, and step to the side to await my food and drink.

Usually, they go over and bag up the food first. Instead the young man took the next person in line. Which I was okay with because it is Monday morning and all. People need their coffee or tea. Fifteen minutes later my drinks were ready at the other counter but I still hadn’t received my food.

I watched the young man rush around and prepare things for the other customers who came after me. I tried to catch his eye but he refused to look up. That was when I started to get annoyed.

In my head I was having a conversation along the lines of: Yes I am dressed down. If you give me my stuff I will leave! I have work to do. Oh no you did not just ignore me! You do not realize who you are dealing with my young man! Do you want that receding hair line immortalized forever in words?…tumblr_mlkf0pWOiX1s0x8bxo1_500

It went like that for another few minutes until I came to the realization that I sounded  like Chaucer from the movie A Knight’s Tale. Fortunately, a nice young lady came up and asked if she could be of assistance so I got my food and my daughter to school on time, even if she had to eat a bit hurriedly.

The saying is: “Writer’s get their revenge in print.”

I will not say I have never written people who have ticked me off into a story. Those annoying people are a valuable resource for a writer because they bring out strong emotions that translate to page and then to the reader. However, not  even that person’s mother would recognize them in my prose, because it is more that I write the feeling of them rather than the actual person. Writer’s draw on personal experience. That means both the good and the bad.

I even have a t-shirt that offers a disclaimer. It warns: “Be careful or you could end up in my novel.”

P.S.

For those interested, here is the quote from the character Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale.

“I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity.”~ Geoffrey Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale

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Stars and Cats

Good Morning Everyone.

I had my alarm set for 4am this morning. The plan was to get up an hour early and get some writing work done before I had to start the get-the-kids-ready-for-school-Samba. I only pushed the snooze button three times. Then Panda came into my room, sat on my chest and proceeded to give me sandpaper purring kitty kisses until I got up to feed her.

Panda

Panda

She was being sweet this morning. Usually she sits on the night stand and knocks everything off, one item at a time, until I get up. It goes something like: swipe, thump. Book falls in floor and Panda glances over for a reaction from the human. Swipe, thump. Second book and a hair tie meet the ground. Still no reaction from the human feeding unit. Swipe, rattle-rattle, glasses get close to the edge and the human jumps up…

 Anyway, I got up early to write and feed the cats. So, after feeding the cats, I sat down at my computer with a cup of coffee and stared at the screen for awhile. My eyes roamed over the bookmarks toolbar at the top of my screen, looking for inspiration, and found a link to something about the Night Sky.  I remembered there was supposed to be a meteor shower this month. I couldn’t remember the dates but since I had time and it was still dark, I decided to go spend some quality time star gazing.

The thing is I live in a suburb. When I was a kid and lived in the country the sky stretched spaceout in every direction, a dark cloak scattered with fiery diamonds and imagination. Now, once I turned off all the lights in the house, there is like a scrap of real night above my house that fades at the edges as the light pollution from other houses and street lights reach out to blur the beauty. If the night sky of my childhood was a diamond studded cloak, then the one I have now is a stained version in a second hand shop made with cheep rhinestones that have mostly fallen off.

Still, I laid down on the back porch and gazed up at what I could see. I opened all of my senses and took in the smell of recently cut grass and the sound of a train whistle. I felt the chill from the boards under my back seeping past my shirt and I watched my small window patch of sky. I felt recharged and more awake than the coffee could account for. Then my neighbor’s air conditioning unit kicked on at the same time one of the cats stuck his nose in my ear and I managed to levitate off of the porch.

I had left the back door cracked open so that if the kids woke up I would hear them. The cats had apparently saw that as an invitation to follow me.  Even the blind one, Max. I had three furry faces gathered around me on the porch, trying to figure out just what I thought I was doing. Laughing at myself, I gathered up Max and went back inside. I sat back down on the computer and I wrote.  Good Morning…

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A phone post from the alert impaired

I didn’t post a blog this morning but it is still Monday here for another hour. I had time this morning, I just spent it enrolling in company health insurance. The dead line is in a few days and I needed to sign up before I miss the chance. Then I went to bed. I slept poorly. How poorly became evident when I tried to check the time by staring blurry eyed at the thermostat on the wall instead of the clock.

True story.

My mom took pity on me, made me sit down, and brought me a cup of coffee. I sat on the couch watching the cat give herself a bath until the coffee was gone, then got ready for work. This is night six of the seven in a row, so I only have to survive tonight and tomorrow.

My mental function is slowly improving but it has taken a brownie and three cups of coffee to get this far. I thought I would do a quick post from my phone before the caffeine wears off. I hope everyone has a good night and I will attempt a proper post later this week after I have a longer, more restful visit with my pillow.

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