Monthly Archives: November 2012

Poem of the Week #10



by Gary Soto
The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December. Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house, the one whose
Porch light burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge. I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were breathing
Before a drugstore. We
Entered, the tiny bell
Bringing a saleslady
Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies
Tiered like bleachers,
And asked what she wanted –
Light in her eyes, a smile
Starting at the corners
Of her mouth. I fingered
A nickel in my pocket,
And when she lifted a chocolate
That cost a dime,
I didn’t say anything.
I took the nickel from
My pocket, then an orange,
And set them quietly on
The counter. When I looked up,
The lady’s eyes met mine,
And held them, knowing
Very well what it was all
A few cars hissing past,
Fog hanging like old
Coats between the trees.
I took my girl’s hand
in mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.


Change of Pace- Novel Writing


1984 opened last night, and at least our first night was a success. I often compare theater to music- it’s meant to be heard, it’s all about the tension, harmonies, and well placed silences. I spent a lot of the performance curled up in the fetal position, listening. Very few gaps. I’ll call it a win.

Now, in the morning after, I face my next big challenge- 30,000 words in the next fourteen days.

Yup, you read me right. 30,000.

I knew that 50,000 was going to be too much, but it’s important to me to push myself somewhat. Besides, remember my New Year’s goals? (Be Brave and Write More!) The teacher side of me is telling me that it’s good to switch learning styles, so I’m really doing a good thing by exercising my brain. The emotional side of me is busy trying to drown it out with ARE YOU CRAZY YOU NEED TWO COFFEES JUST TO HAVE A CONVERSATION IN THE MORNINGS?!?! However, since the emotional side of me has been thoughtfully providing me with nightmares for the last week, it may be time to tell her to shut up.

Right. Novel. I scrapped the Ms. Maverick idea. It crashed and died after over a week of willful neglect. I still want to use the name some time thought, because I don’t know if I’ll ever have a student make up such a cool pseudonym for me again. My new book is based on three moments:

1) Last year’s debacle in which my brother was the best man at my First Love’s wedding and… never mind. Yes, my mother went, too. I ate ice cream and watched some chick flicks.

2) February’s debacle in which 2.5 of my exboyfriends appeared in a concert I choreographed. They didn’t even know each other. Did I mention I became violently ill and vomited thirteen times in eight hours? And that I was a six hour drive from the comfort of my bed?

3) Narrating the above and various other hilariously awful romantic circumstances I’ve been in yesterday at lunch with some co-workers.

The premise of my novel is more or less this: “Hey, what if I took every horrible thing that’s ever happened in my romantic life, set it in high school, and tossed in some pop song lyrics?”

I’ve written close to 1500 words since yesterday, so it must be working. I need to write 2,000 a day to accomplish my goal. Wish me luck!

Poem of the Week #9


I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

– Emily Dickinson

Poem of the Week #8.5


Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, we didn’t have an opportunity to do our poem of the week in class. I leave you with one of my new favorites. With 1984 coming up fast, I feel as though fairy-tale logic is the order of the day…

Fairy-tale Logic

By A.E. Stallings b. 1968 A.E. Stallings

Fairy tales are full of impossible tasks:

Gather the chin hairs of a man-eating goat,

Or cross a sulphuric lake in a leaky boat,

Select the prince from a row of identical masks,

Tiptoe up to a dragon where it basks

And snatch its bone; count dust specks, mote by mote,

Or learn the phone directory by rote.

Always it’s impossible what someone asks—

You have to fight magic with magic. You have to believe

That you have something impossible up your sleeve,

The language of snakes, perhaps, an invisible cloak,

An army of ants at your beck, or a lethal joke,

The will to do whatever must be done:

Marry a monster. Hand over your firstborn son.

Things I’m Currently Reading: November Edition


Gorgeous October has ended in a rush of wind and rain (and no power for two days). I’ve had a few days off work thanks to Hurricane Sandy, and they’ve been far more productive than I could ever anticipated. This could, of course, have something to do with my disabling Facebook until December.

Yes, folks, this is the big month. NaNoWriMo is finally here. I’m not going to touch social networking until it’s done. Truthfully, my exit from the facebook scene for the first time in eight years was precipitated by a comment from a student. “Ms. M,” he said, “Last summer I boycotted my computer for a month. It was the happiest month of my life.”

Indeed. I can’t, obviously, leave my computer behind completely during the school year. I can, however, indulge my increasingly Luddite tendencies to the benefit of my production, work life, and soon to exist novel draft by ridding myself of the biggest online temptation I have.  I’ll be writing a LOT- my goal is 25,000 words by November 30th (secretly 50,000, but since 1984 goes up in about two weeks that’s going to be a hard sell), and hopefully that will include more time spent with this site. I’ve missed it during the October madness.

Enough blather. On to the main event- what’s been on my shelves this month. Happy NaNoWriMo to all!

Daily spiritual reading-

  1. The Bible (via
  2. Elder Ambrose of Optina, Sergius Chetverikov

Pleasure reading-

  1.  Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
  2. Good Night, Mr. Tom, Michelle Magorian (reread)
  3. Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy, Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick
  4. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Joshilyn Jackson (audio book)


  1. The Pushcart War, Jean Merrill
  2. Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice, Kristen Linklater

Books that have been on hold, but want to finish-

  1. The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx
  2. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
  3. Cold Sassy Tree, Olive Ann Burns
  4. The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (but I WILL finish it)

Just finished-

  1. Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
  2. Call the Midwife, Jennifer Worth
  3. Hermitess Photini, Archimandrite Joachim Spetsieris
  4. Espresso Tales, Alexander McCall Smith (audio book)
  5. Fragile Things, Neil Gaiman (audio book)
  6. Playing for Pizza, John Grisham (audio book- can you tell I drive a lot?)
  7. The Other Woman, Jane Green

Stopped because I couldn’t take it anymore-

1. The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin (if by “couldn’t take” you mean “lost the copy my mother borrowed from the library”)

Next up-

  1. Comedy of Errors, William Shakespeare (still need to cut it down for work)
  2. The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan (the kiddos insist that seeing the movie is not enough, and I am sure they’re right)
  3. My brand new book:by Archimandrite Irinei

Stay warm this month, and happy reading!