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teaching, books, projects, & other things i love

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ABC Award


Thank you to Simply Blissful Life for the nomination!  Here are the rules for the ABC Award:

  • Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and a link back. (She has a bunch of yummy-looking vegan recipes! Check em out!)
  • Come up with a word for each letter of the alphabet and write something relevant to you.
  • Nominate up to 15 bloggers for the Awesome Blog Content Award, provide a link to their blogs in your post, and notify them on their blogs.
  • Copy and paste the award somewhere on your blog.

I’m a sucker for chain letter type stuff, so here we go:

A: Animals. My favorites are owls, bears, and elephants!
B: Blonde.
C: Cookies.
D: Dystopian fiction. 
E: Eating. I enjoy it, but I’m picky.
F: Feminist. 
G: Gross. I get grossed out really easily by any number of things, mostly involving injuries/bodies.
H: Hats. I went through this phase in late high school/early college where I wore hats all the time.
I: Icicle. Not really about me, but I remember one time in junior high reading an interview with JK Rowling and she told someone named Icicle that she was going to use that name for a character in the Harry Potter series, then years later someone asked why she never did and she denied ever saying that. She totally said it, guys.
J: Jeans. I wore them for the first time in 6th or 7th grade. Before then I only wore those stupid leggings with the stirrups.
K: Kickboxing.
L: Lists. 
M: Milk. I drink more of it than anyone else I know.
N: NaNoWriMo.
O: Orange juice. I don’t like it.
P: Pacific Northwest.
Q: Quidditch. I’m a big Harry Potter nerd, among many other nerd types :)
R: Reading.
S: Spanish.
T: Theater. I love seeing live performances, but I was terrible when I tried acting in them.
U: Umbrellas. I hate when people say “real” Seattleites don’t use umbrellas, because I think they’re cute!
V: Vintage. I love old photos, styles, and movies.
W: Weird.
X: aXolotl. They’re cute and creepy!
Y: Yogurt. I only just started eating it during the past year.
Z: Zoo. I love the good ones, but find the crappy ones really really depressing.

Okay, I haven’t been spending much time on WordPress lately and don’t have any new blogs to nominate, so I’m doing this the lazy way. If you read my blog and want to do an ABC Award post, go ahead and do one linking back to me as the person who nominated you. And I’ll update this post linking to you as a nominee :)

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Steampunk Silliness

I’ve never really had the opportunity or inclination for cosplay. I don’t think I’m geeky enough to go to a convention, and if I did I think I’d be too self-conscious to show up in full costume. I mean, one Halloween I hid my striped pirate tights under my pants and kept my hat in my backpack until I got to class. And I was dressing up to match a friend in the same class! She did the same thing, and we rolled up our pants and put on our hats together in the hallway. We were both too shy to walk across campus alone in very minimal costumes. ON HALLOWEEN.

But I’ve been seeing a lot of Disneybound pictures lately, and I feel like I could maybe do that – I like the idea of “toning down” a costume so that it looks normal, but still evokes a certain character or interest. I kind of want to come up with some Disney outfits but nothing in my closet really works at the moment. I do have a skirt I want to accessorize into a Wonder Woman look, but I don’t have the accessories yet! However, I love the look of steampunk so when I got bored yesterday I decided to dig through my clothes and see how steampunk I could get based just on what I already had. I was… successfullish?

Wish I'd gotten one where you could see my awesome boots :(

Wish I’d gotten one where you could see my awesome boots :(

I ended up not really liking how the brown skirt sat – it should go a little lower but it’s too small! I bought it in high school and just didn’t want to part with it when I gained weight. I think it would look better if I had more like a vest or corset instead, but that’s not exactly my usual attire. Maybe I’ll figure something out by the time it’s cool enough outside to actually wear the boots (I took off the brown skirt and switched to flats when I actually left the house, which kinda took away from the look but oh well!).

Ah yes, corduroy, so steampunk. The flower necklace is the only thing I bought specifically because it looked a little "steampunkish." I'm aware the octopus is cliche.

Ah yes, corduroy, so steampunk. I’m aware the octopus is a giant cliche.


“That’s Not Too Bad”

Last week I came across some information about Equal Pay Day from equalrights.org. Their goal was to raise awareness of the pay gap between men and women in various professions by commemorating the day in 2013 that women would have to work to in order to earn the same amount that men earned in 2012. I looked up the gap for my profession and found that it’s higher than the national average (77 cents per dollar).


My reaction? “Oh! That’s not too bad.”

I didn’t even realize that was a weird thing to say until hours later. Really? Not too bad?

Now, my school uses a specific payscale, so to my knowledge I’m not earning any less than equally qualified males at my school… but who knows, maybe there’s some “congrats on your penis” stipend that I don’t know about. The point is, not everyone is on my payscale. On average, I (as a female representative of my profession) am not getting my 9 cents. No, that’s not “too” bad – it could be 23 cents or 50 cents or, hell, the whole dollar – but I shouldn’t be okay with a wage gap at all! Inequality to a lesser extent is still inequality. It still exists. And it’s bad – no qualifier necessary.

I experienced a similar reaction yesterday when I first heard about the Boston Marathon bombing. I saw reports saying “2 dead, many injured” and thought the same thing. “Oh… that’s not too bad.” Of course, then I watched the video and looked at the pictures. I cried and felt sick to my stomach. I realized “injured” in this case can mean “limbs blown off.” I spent all night waking up from horrible, stressful nightmares about terrorist attacks and explosions.

That initial reaction – “that’s not too bad” – doesn’t mean I don’t care. What it does mean, I think, is that horror has become too normal, too unsurprising, too common in our everyday lives. I wait for more information before I feel an emotional reaction, because it’s just so exhausting to care about this stuff over and over. I hope that somehow it was a tragic accident so I can be just sad instead of sad and furious and hopeless. It reminds me of the type of articles The Onion published after the Sandy Hook shooting, which they are continuing in a similar vein now. Definitely a case of being funny (in a morbid, gut-wrenching, I-just-can’t-handle-feeling-like-this-again way) because it’s true. “Not too bad” is still far, far worse than it should be. 2 or 3 dead (instead of dozens or hundreds) is still 3 too many.

I recently came across this clip where Ever Mainard comments “Every woman in their entire life has that one moment where you think, oh, here’s my rape!” and again, I’m reminded that rape culture is a thing and whether it’s sexism or violence, we tolerate a lot of shit we have no business tolerating.

I don’t really have anything particularly constructive to say, I guess. Just a collection of thoughts. Sometimes it’s painful to care so much.

Updated to add: After I published this, with the wishy-washy ending, I realized that the reason I wrote it was that I wanted to call myself out. I’m glad I caught myself thinking something I know I shouldn’t, because it gave me an opportunity to think through WHY I was thinking it and why it bothered me. It’s the kind of thought process I want to encourage in my students, and anyone else I happen to encounter, so it’s important to notice it when it happens to me.


Liebster Award!


Thank you to Dawn-Reneé Rice for nominating me for the Liebster Award! I’ve mostly been off blogging in my own little corner, so I’m honored to have been noticed and excited to do the same for others :) The Liebster Award is intended to recognize up-and-coming blogs with fewer than 200 followers. There are some rules to follow when you get nominated:

  • Post eleven facts about yourself
  • Answer the questions posed by your nominator
  • Pass the award on to eleven new recipients
  • Post eleven new questions to your recipients
  • Post a copy of the badge on your blog (Google image search “Liebster Award”)
  • Notify your nominees and include links to the originating blog as well as the new recipients

My answers, questions, and nominees are below.

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Thoughts on The Giver Quartet

I wrote this around 1:00am after finishing the YA novel Son by Lois Lowry. Yet another case of “writing to think” getting a little out of hand… let’s call it a tribute to a story that has stuck with me for quite a long time.

Warning: I tried not to say anything too spoilery, but something you didn’t want to know might have slipped in somewhere!

I’m having trouble deciding how I feel about Son. It’s an excellent novel. There are things I love about it and things I don’t. But it’s hard to be sure what I think because it’s tied up in how I feel about The Giver, and those feelings have had 15 years to develop.

Few books have impacted me like The Giver. I don’t think I’d ever read science fiction before that year, so there were plenty of things that amazed me and creeped me out, and I’ve been obsessed with dystopian literature ever since. I’m pretty sure Jonas was my first book character crush. I love Jonas and Gabe, and I’ve had 15 years to wonder what happened to them. You’d be surprised how often I’ve wondered.

In her Newbery Award acceptance speech for The Giver, Lois Lowry told her audience, “Those of you who hoped that I would stand here tonight and reveal the ‘true’ ending, the ‘right’ interpretation of the ending, will be disappointed. There isn’t one. There’s a right one for each of us, and it depends on our own beliefs, our own hopes.” She went on to share a few different interpretations from kids who wrote to her, and commented on how real each version was to each reader. Even as a kid, I thought that was fascinating – we all come away with our own stories.

In seventh grade we read The Giver again and did an assignment where we wrote the next chapter (an assignment I later stole when I did The Giver during student teaching – the only whole-class-novel unit I’ve ever taught). I think it was the only fiction I wrote between elementary school and NaNo 2010, and I distinctly remember being both embarrassed and pleased by my dramatic chapter.

I remember loving Gathering Blue because in a sense it was more of the same – Lowry’s amazing writing, teen with a gift, dystopian society – but it was also its own unique world. There’s a brief mention of someone who might be Jonas, which was fun but didn’t necessarily change my reality of The Giver.

But Messenger derailed all that. Worlds collided and we were told, definitively, what happened to Jonas. To me, it felt cheap. Maybe because I read the other two as a kid and read Messenger as an adult, or maybe because I was genuinely disappointed – Lowry made this big deal of not revealing her truth about Jonas and Gabe, then turned around and revealed it anyway. I think Messenger, overall, is the weakest of the series, and I haven’t bothered to re-read it like I did the first two books. There were other things I hated about it, but that’s not really important at the moment.

And now I’ve read Son. I was nervous, because it’s about the girl who “produced” Gabe, and I knew it might further challenge my 15-years-in-the-making assumptions about what happened after The Giver ended. The book is split into three parts, and the parts actually mirror the rest of the series rather well. Book I takes place in the community from The Giver, paralleling those events from a different perspective, and it is awesome. I loved seeing things from another point of view, especially the insights it gave into Jonas’ father – I found him much more sympathetic in this book and much less creepily detached. Wonderfully, though, it made his detachment in The Giver even more interesting, rather than taking away from its impact.

Book II introduces an entirely new community. I was a bit disappointed not to see all the ramifications of Jonas leaving in the first book, but the new society was engaging enough and unique enough that I didn’t mind. It struck me as more rustic, just as the society in Gathering Blue did, and it was enjoyable to read about even if it didn’t fascinate me the way the first community did.

Book III brings us full circle, to the community from Messenger, and of course as someone disappointed in Messenger I couldn’t help being disappointed again. I don’t like the “outside forces” they have to deal with – dystopian literature is great because it’s usually based on the choices humans make, and feels real. I don’t like the neatly-tied-together lives and relationships of characters from past books, even though yeah, I guess I shipped it.

Writing this, I realize that yes, overall I loved Son. How could I not? (Well, I guess I could have hated it – look at poor Messenger). What I didn’t love was having my own reality – the 15 years of life Jonas and Gabe have been living in my mind – stripped away from me with the canon version of events. I love Jonas and Gabe, and I loved the vast, unknown possibilities of their lives after The Giver. It’s more real to think of them out in the world, but out of reach, than it is to see “what really happened.” I don’t want neat coincidences that tie the books together. I want them to be out there living their lives, whether I get to see how they turned out or not, just like anyone else I knew when I was younger.