A Short List of (Unrelated) Thoughts

  1. The other night I was reading a book, and I was almost to the end, when my five-year-old son asked, “When you’re done with that book, are you going to put it up there?” and he pointed to our built-in bookshelves. This made me think about reading and books and how he views reading at this point – is it merely a group of items gathered and displayed on shelves? Is he possibly on to something? Would I be better off having, say, ten or so books up there that I just keep rereading over the years? As it stands now, I often have trouble recalling certain plots, some characters. Sure, the strong ones will always remain, but then – I want to reread them.
  2. To do: read through novel draft and edit out all cliches.
  3. As I enter my third year of getting weekly allergy shots (it’s not supposed to be that frequent at this  point, but I consistently miss so many weeks that they have to keep bumping my dosage down), I think about how similarities between building immunities against my allergies and writing my first novel. I’m playing the long-game in both scenarios, and if I think about how long it’s going to take, sometimes I want to quit. But I’m two years into the shots already, and over 200 pages into my first draft, so then those years and pages would be a huge waste of time, wouldn’t they?
  4. I like living in a place where you hear one person say to another, “I heard you were back, but I haven’t seen you around.”
  5. As of now, my daughter does not like to read. She has asked me to stop talking about books. Did I do this? When did I fall in love with reading? No one else in my family read like I did. I know for certain that no one ever pushed it on me. Does it matter? Didn’t Gibran say in The Prophet something like: “Children come through you not from you”, so then why should I expect her to come out of the womb loving books as I do?
  6. This morning I tried to read Joan Didion’s three-and-a-half page essay “On Self-Respect” for nearly two hours, despite being continually interrupted by my various family members: “Mom.” “Mom.” “Liz.” “Mom.” “Liz.” By the time I reached the last paragraph, I had no idea what Didion was trying to say, and their calls for me had fallen into such a rhythm that I felt like I could sing along to the chorus by the end.
  7. When my daughter was six-years old: “Honey, you have to do your homework,” I call in to the playroom. “Not yet. I’m still teaching my lesson,” she answers without looking up. The dolls are lined up neatly in a row. She has taken attendance, answered a few questions, and is now teaching her students about the use of an ellipsis in stories. You know: dot, dot, dot. To build suspense, in her words. It’s a very busy imaginary world she’s living in, and her real homework sheet sits there untouched. But I don’t judge. Though I know I’m the parent, I’m busy thinking about an essay I want to write about how her view of childhood differs from my own, in more of a global way. You know – the way we are on our phones and computers way more than our parents ever were? I’m still hashing out my thesis, and actually I probably won’t figure out what I’m writing until I start writing it, but the point is that I’ve recently realized that both my daughter and I lead very busy imaginary lives. I also constantly avoid my “homework” – that to-do list that feels so insignificant, but if those things don’t get done the big things start to fall apart.
  8. Because when you turn this number on its side, it stands for infinity, and has always been my favorite number.

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Reading Writing Teaching

Don’t you just love that moment when disparate areas in your life cross paths? I remember being a junior in high school, taking American History and learning about the 1920s. At the same time in English we were reading The Great Gatsby. It was one of those educational moments that clicked for me. What I learned in one class directly enforced what I learned in the other. Obviously, or I should say hopefully, this interdisciplinary approach was carefully orchestrated by my teachers at the time. When I taught To Kill a Mockingbird to my middle school students, I worked closely with the History teacher while she taught our students about the Great Depression. So now I’m tutoring a middle school boy and we’re reading Cynthia Lord’s Rules together – an excellent book, by the way. I highly recommend it to parents of early middle school readers. I was so delightfully surprised when Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad appears in the book as a sort of a metaphor for how the protagonist’s autistic brother uses the characters and their thoughts and actions to cope with his own life. Had I not recently read this book with my daughter, I certainly would not have understood its placement or meaning, and as such, I hope that teachers who use this book in their classroom have students read one of the Frog and Toad stories to enforce its relevance.

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