Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wednesday's Lesson Plan

Given a month of priming, what's wrong with posting, at 8:20am, "Write with cautious optimism in a way that is creatively satisfying," stepping back and getting out of their way?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How to Become the Kind of Jerk Teacher that Gives Pop-Quizes Over Reading Assignments

Admit that your students have more interesting things to do than read a five page description of clouds from Peter Camanzind.  Don't become bitter and admonish them for being a generation of You Tubers with the attention span of goldfish.  Or gnats.  Bottle up your rage when they look at you like unthinking, unfeeling automations.  Ignore the fact that they are still bleary eyed from having worked the night shift at the kind of restaurant where one's feet may, more often than not, stick to the floor.  It is at 9:47 pm when you will loose this rage in the form of esoteric multiple choice questions.  You will print the questions on the back of old driving directions because you are too proud to steal paper from work.  Wield this quiz as if it were a cudgel or some other cruelly blunt object.  Sleep with satisfaction knowing that you are singlehandedly vindicating the poor, neglected snow-globe that is modern literature in public schools.  Have a dream in which you knock Shakespeare's books out of his hands and make fun of his goatee.  

“How to Become a Writer”                                                Name_______________________________

1.  Why does the narrator’s mother prefer to wear the color brown?
a)     It complements her dead husband’s eyes
b)    Trick question.  She actually prefers orange.
c)     It is the color of her skin.
d)    It hides spots.

2.   The narrator writes what spiteful quip beneath her English teacher’s comments?
“plots are for dead people, __________ face.”

a)     Horse
b)    Fart
c)     Doughnut
d)    Pore

3.  Instead of a bird-watching class, the narrator finds herself enrolled in:

a)     Creative Writing
b)    Underwater Basket Weaving
c)     Dermatology
d)    Child Psychology

4.  Find the only plot the narrator has not admitted having written:

a)     A man and woman have their lower torsos blitzed away by dynamite and with the insurance money they open a frozen yogurt stand together.
b)    A tale of monomania in the fish-eat-fish world of insurance sales staring the menopausal suburban husband “Mopey Dick”
c)     A woman accidentally severs her boyfriend’s head with a malfunctioning laser pointer and, with the insurance settlement, has it put on ice for when she is elderly and alone.
d)    A married couple stumble upon an unknown landmine in their kitchen and accidentally blow one another to pieces: called “For Better or Liverwurst.”

5.  In what terms, unfortunately, does the narrator come to judge all new people?

a)     Some like to dip their food into white substances while some do not.
b)    Some have a great sense of humor while some have no sense of humor.
c)     Some are smarter than her while some are dumber than her.
d)    Some wonder where dust comes from, while some do not.

Extra Credit

The expression “face as blank as a ___________ “ is used three times in “How to Become a Writer,” in which Lorrie Moore compares a blank face to what three specific objects?            

Thursday, September 8, 2011


For some reason more than ever I feel adrift in an ocean of information.  Writing has always helped me feel more centered.  On occasion playing the guitar does it as well.  Sitting in a circle with the kids I teach and carrying on a conversation in which everyone is present and turned on does it too.  Driving without a destination sometimes helps and sometimes makes it worse.  Buying things online or in a store has worked.  I wish more activities could lend this kind of focus to my life.  Reading used to, but now it seems as if I'm just dipping my big nose into other worlds of information.  I made a movie from some footage of friends playing disc golf, and putting that together was a mild form of what I'm trying to describe.

I'm still trying to finish Salinger's biography, which seems like a bunch of information.  Mary Oliver's poetry can be soothing.  Gertrude Stein's writing on Picasso is nearly indiscernible for some reason.

In the meantime I entered a few contests.  They are Rattle's poetry contest, and the Norman Mailer writing award for high school teachers.  I usually care way too much about these kinds of things.  

I've attached a picture Wyatt took.