Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sometimes on a Mountain in September

Using this picture poem as a model/inspiration, we were let loose behind Daniel's Summit Lodge to take photos so we could write a poem too.

After taking all the photos and reviewing them when I came back in so I could start writing, this is what I came up with.

And I wonder if it might change your reading of this poem to know that I was thinking of my grandpa who passed away in February, and my grandma he left behind, as I was taking these pictures and writing this poem.

Leaves, brown and crumpled,

Crunch under
My still new
but now dirty Nikes.

Rocks litter the muddy ground.

Forcing me to look down
And watch
Where I step.
Instead of being able to look
Where I want to look:
At blue sky
And bright yellow
Autumn leaves.

Flies buzz.
Calling my attention
Back down from the sky.
They buzz…
Resisting the approaching
And inevitable

Resisting their imminent

Staring down.
At the brown.
The mud.
The crunch.
The flies.
The ending of life.

Even noting the rusty nail.
Of iron particles dying in the air.

The fence extends
Seemingly forever
Like life.

This wood

A corpse.
Lying there.
Long and old and tired
After putting up a fight.

And this one.
All alone.
Sick and suffering and
Still seeking
The sky.

Or these,
Seemingly huddled together
In a mass,
A pile,
A grave.

Like they couldn’t live
Without each other.

I resist the death encircling me,
The death that approaches,
The death that has already come:
The fallen trees.
The buzzing flies.
The dangerous rocks.
The eternal, rusty fence.

And look up.

At the trees that tower over us.

As if to remind us
What a short time
This really is.

And look up
At the trees who
Reach up
And fight.
The trees who
Never forget to see the light.

The light which will 
Bring life again.

And look up

At the ones who still have life.

Look up
At the trees who,
No matter how small or weak,
Stick together
To fight in the oncoming battle.

And, with my dirty Nikes
that are still new,
Walk on. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Student Comments

Sometimes I get comments like these:

And other times I see comments like this:

And then I go:

And then my other students are all like:

And then I went and did an "email to self":

So I won't forget.

Serves you right, sleepy lazy kid. Oh and by the way, I'm going to create a grammar packet worksheet and dictionary copying activity just for you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Exercise in Time Management

You know, my life has been taken over by things that I basically have to do. I don’t like feeling like I’m not in control of how I spend my time.

At work, as a teacher, my life is controlled in part by testing. What days do I have testing? What can I teach them to prepare for testing? What can I do before and after testing dates to keep things connected still? When will I start being evaluated based on my students’ test scores? I am controlled in how I plan lessons, what I write on my board, meetings I attend, and (pretty soon) how many copies I can make.

I am controlled at my second job, which is as an independent SEO contractor/writer. My friend got me the job well over a year and a half ago. It has been an immense help when I have needed some extra cash. I loved it and loved being able to count on it. It was easy, not very time consuming, and reliable for some money. However, things have gotten more than frustrating lately. We writers have recently gotten 3-4 emails a day with “updated requirements,” and attached files to replace the ones attached in previous emails. It’s just a lot to keep track of and try to figure out. We had to move over to a new software/filtering system where we find and upload our articles. They raised the writing demands from no minimum to a minimum of ten articles per week (note: about 10 hours of work). We can no longer write articles that are due later if there are overdue ones still unwritten. We also have to meet quality content requirements of 85% or higher (my two that got reviewed were 90 and above).

Can I also add that the people who “edited” mine made some incorrect “corrections” on my articles? While I know I don’t know everything, I am confident in the things that I know for sure. I know commas, for instance. I don’t appreciate people adding commas into my work when I know they are not needed and when I can explain exactly why. I also don’t appreciate stylistic changes being made to my work. When I say that something can “afford you the opportunity,” and you replace it with “provide you with the opportunity,” I am more than a little bit annoyed at you. What I wrote was perfectly correct and commonplace. Look it up in a thesaurus. Let it be known that I am fully open to corrections and suggestions, but not without some explanation or justification, especially when I totally disagree with what’s been changed.

On top of the new requirements, new article minimums, and limited options in what we write, they are taking forever to pay me. For example, the last pay period ended on September 15. It is September 25, and I still don’t have a check. I’ve checked the mail religiously. Also please note that I made a purchase last week at Wal-Mart on things that could have waited had I known that a check was not coming anytime soon. My spending decisions are dependent on the work I know I’ve done, and the payment I expect to receive. I used to get my check on the Tuesday following the end of the pay period on Friday. We’re looking at almost two weeks now. Does this seem completely unethical and unfair to anybody else? You require more of me, but you don’t hold up your end of the deal? Wow.

So my typical day for the past several weeks consists of teaching all day, 30-60 minutes at the gym, writing two articles (which takes about 90 minutes to 2 hours, give or take), eating dinner in between, showering, reading, and going to bed. I love exercising and find that I am rather unhappy without including it in my day, and I view it as a smart use of my “me time.” But when I’m done teaching and done working out, I don’t want to come home and be required to do more work that I’m not going to get paid for, which is what I’ve been doing. What. The. Heck!?

Wednesdays are even worse because I have institute from 7 to 8:30. So something always has to go on that day, be it the gym (my “me time”), or my article writing (which I have to do).

I do have some things to look forward to, but the more I add to my schedule, even if it’s for fun, the more stressed I am about how I will keep my sanity and get my articles written! For instance, institute tomorrow, some modernized version of Cinderella with Rachel on Thursday, and a Central Utah Writing Project Reunion/Retreat overnighter this coming Friday and Saturday. Yep. I have something every day this week. I’m not exactly sure how to manage it all or what will get ousted as a result of my busyness.

But I do know that I need to take a breather. So I am going to go shower and then maybe watch an episode of Dexter with Raytch.

Good BYE! 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

El Presidente

It appears that throughout my life I have quickly been identified and chosen as a leader.

I was often chosen to lead the class in some kind of routine, or be the class president, or whatever.

I ran for and was elected to be school president in elementary school in fifth grade. It got boring so I didn’t run for second semester.

Throughout school whenever there’s been a group discussion or presentation, it’s always been me doing the delegating and speaking for everyone else. Not because I necessarily volunteered or stepped up, but because the others have either directly or indirectly appointed me to do so.

All of this has never been due to my being overbearing or a know-it-all. I was not and am not always the person with her hand up because she knew every single answer. It was more like, when I did say something, it was worth listening to.

I’m not sure what the deal is lately, even in my mid-twenties. I don’t know how I always get picked out for these things. I try to blend in and stay in the background. It doesn’t work. I am attentive, and I am responsible. And apparently everyone sees this.

Within weeks of being in my new ward, I was called to be a visiting teaching supervisor. Things are a little dysfunctional currently, so of course I took the initiative and contacted my superiors to figure out who I was in charge of. In my last ward, my calling was visiting teaching coordinator. And in the ward before that, I was visiting teaching supervisor as well. I suppose it’s forever in the cards for me to have a leadership position in visiting teaching.

Toward the end of last school year, I and three other teachers were somehow nominated to be on the building committee, which basically is just a representative group of teachers who speak for the rest as far as their concerns in the school, meeting with the principal on a monthly basis.

In the first week of this new school year, the principal asked me to be a co-chair of one of three school committees. I talked about that in my last post.

I signed up for an institute class (church class) on Wednesday nights. Class had gone fine, and the few class members there had offered up just as many, if not more comments than I had to contribute. I wasn’t putting myself out there as more outspoken or involved than anyone else. But after the second night of class, my teacher stopped me on my way out and asked me if I would be class president. Taken aback by the request and confused as to my responsibilities, I stuttered a response mixed with questions and acceptance. I came home and immediately made a sign-up list for the scripture and thought as well as the refreshments. I took on the responsibility of scripture/thought and refreshments for my first week as president. I even played the piano in class and had to ask others to give the prayers. Go, president.

So now I am a leader at work, at church, and at church school. I wonder what other responsibilities I will accept to make my life even more challenging. Because on top of my leadership positions at work and church and institute, I also am now required to write ten articles per week for my side job, which takes longer than one might think. And I spend 30-60 minutes at the gym every day after work. I’m just feeling like if it’s not one thing keeping me busy, other things will find me.

Can’t wait to be a wife and mom someday to see if I ever have time to sleep or shower! Boo.