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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Noticing the Immeasurable Bits

Such a funny thing,
to watch stories step out
from behind clumps of lines...

Kneeling in the dirt
troweling bulbs,
I gather clustered ideas.

Looking up above,
whisps of white
write across a pink sky.

No burdens over me
of format or rules,
just words from my day.

I watch the letters,
they dance over my fingers
clinking and clicking together.

All just little bits
of immeasured life,
waiting for the curtain.

I breathe in a breath,
eyes shut I exhale, open.
Audiences the same, but I am not.

Poetry has been on my mind lately. I can feel those words piling up in places that have been a bit vacant. I look around at things, at stories, at people, at situations, and the words write and swirl around. Like little tornadoes of poems flying and out of control. I've got to somehow catch them all and close them in a notebook to settle down and sort out later.
Are they poems?
Are they feelings?
Is there a difference?

"Writers must...take care of the sensibility that houses the possibility of poems."
~Mary Oliver 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

For Writing's Sake

I've been working on a short story. It links a trip I took to my Great-Grandmother's hometown in Missouri to a fictional tale of her meeting her best friend Maureen as a young girl. I was spurred by a writing contest in my state that was open to my students and decided to write alongside those interested in joining the fun. I've never entered a short story contest. It is a bit outside of my writing comfort zone if I have one of those. I've struggled and still struggle to find the story. I've written many little scenes and I'm not really sure I'll finish in time to submit the story I hoped would come but either way, I hope I finish it "enough" to send it regardless.

When I began writing slices many years ago, it is what opened me to the idea of how difficult and how simple writing can be. I wrote little pieces of my day. I wrote about experiences in the classroom. I found stories. What I'm finding now is that searching for stories in my daydreams is more challenging. It's a good stretch for me and has reminded me that I need to write small if I am ever going to write big.

Some might say that writing for an educational audience, like the one that comes with being a co-author at Two Writing Teachers, is writing big. It is big. It allows words I've thought, said, and written to be read. However, I have always believed that the best words are often the ones that begin for ourselves. I'm wandering back to those woods. It's chilly there but welcoming, and eventually, I'll be warmed again by the swirl of ideas that come from writing. Writing long and short. Writing for writing's sake.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hydrothermal Vents and School Culture (Yeah, I Just Did That)

As human beings, we can experience temperature changes in different ways. 

It's hot. 
"Ah, feels so good, so relaxing."
"Oh blah, it's so sticky and awful."

It's cold.
"Oooo, (squeal) snow is coming."
"Gah! I hate the cold."

More than likely you, like me, have spoken a phrase somewhat matched to any of these. The point? We get to decide how we will respond and the fact that either of these responses is often possible it makes one think a bit. Well, I should say, it makes me think. 
The other day my daughter was reading an article about ecosystems, and she was having difficulty with some vocabulary related to hydrothermal vents. My meagerly informed summary of these vent formations goes a little like this. The vents form when cold seawater seeps below the ocean floor through tiny cracks. When the water becomes superheated from magma, it reemerges to create these vents. It turns out that some organisms thrive in these conditions. 

We read and reread the section a few times to fully grasp the ideas presented. I realized part of her misunderstandings were related to the fact that the idea of organisms surviving conditions like extreme heat seemed impossible. To imagine vents within the ocean floor providing this heat was outside of her experience. 
The ocean provides many spaces we have explored and spaces we have not. It is fascinating to grasp the enormity of its composition. 

I don't know how my brain works but we read this article, and in my mind, I began comparing the ocean floor to a school's culture. Cracks occur. Well-meaning drops of water seep and become heated due to exposure, and their only way out is to vent. When these droplets reemerge they transform their surroundings. Organisms thrive on the poisonous metal deposits and can develop rapidly. 

Venting is necessary. The ocean makes a place for this, and yet it is so vast that it also makes spaces for beautiful reefs and shorelines. You get to decide. Within the ocean of your daily life, you can choose where to vent. Choose wisely.