Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hmmm… so what’s been going on? I’ve been slowly getting house in order at H. I let my adjuncting boss at E.C.C.C. know that I wasn’t going to be back next year and that the future of their relationship with H would depend on whoever came after me. It’s odd that he is my boss and this was our first and last conversation, he’d been on sabbatical when I started.

Actually, I had been planning on switching Dual Enrollment to Central Methodist University, but who knows what they’ll do now. I like my liaison at C.M. and would like to continue to work with her to develop classes for my new school. We’ll just have to see how that pans out. I am approved through C.M. to teach four different high school courses for college credit: Creative Writing, Comp I & II, and World Lit. It shouldn’t matter where I am, though the Methodist thing might matter to the new district.

I got a tentative schedule for next year from the new school and it looks a fair amount like what I just taught – again split evenly between gifted seniors and troubled freshman. I’m not sure why that has become my academic modus operandi; it’s probably something in the neighborhood of demonstrated track record. People can’t believe I have that age split, but I really like the contrast. Both groups are fun and challenging for different reasons.

I am looking forward to the summer with much anticipation. Our opposing sleep schedules seem to be increasingly problematic for Jes; so, it’s good to know that in less than a month we can go to sleep when we want to and sleep as long as we want. (Sorry, I am having a love affair with subordinating conjunctions.) In the fall I’ll be able to get up an hour later than I do now and still get off from work an hour earlier too. My new schedule will run from 7:15 to 2:15, so I can be golfing at Ruth Park by 3:00. I have to be in house by 6:45 which means I can sleep until 5:45 instead of my current 4:45.

We are house shopping. How are you?


Saturday, April 14, 2007

I have a blogwalk pattern in which I move through the blogs in my neighborhood, jumping from one to the next using their links. As part of my effort to re-enter my life – from which I have been absent owing to the thirteen hours a day that I either spend on the road or teaching in another city – I have been updating my links and such. This is the internet equivalent of dusting and then inviting people over.

I’ve deleted a few people who have dropped off the planet. Death-in-the-afternoon decided that blogging no longer fit with her post Yale Law School life. Jane Dark has had some ongoing problems making a radical break from an abusive family and dropped her blog, for those and other reasons. Neither of them had posted for months and I hardly noticed as my posting patterns were much the same.

Anyway, I am getting back into posting as part of this resolution/realization that I need to be–here–now (Baba Ram Das reference rather than the Oasis album/song). I wrote the other day about adding Mike and Christie. Today I added Ben and Tempe. I am eliminating the middle steps in my blogwalking and starting the process of reconnection with my St. Louis life.

The be-here-now thing is a philosophy that I’ve returned to again and again. As a verbal/intellectual (terms used loosely) guy, I can live in my head and in abstractions. It can take an effort sometimes to show up where my body happens to be. I started thinking about the philosophy of be-here-now in relation to my grading and procrastination habits. I can lecture on anything or facilitate discussions or group activities with ease. I have no trouble quickly making lesson plans and developing appropriate assignments. However, when it comes to sitting down and grading sixty freshman worksheets on parallel sentence structure, I’d rather shoot myself.

As a consequence of this resistance, I would let work build up and then do these marathon grading sessions that make a root canal seem preferable. My be-here-now self-improvement plan began with an attempt to get all of my grading done at work, so that when I was home I was free to be home. I generally wouldn’t grade at home anyway, but I would put a lot on energy and thought into thinking about what I should be grading, such that even though my body was at home, my mind was still at work: not a good lifestyle for newlyweds with a baby on the way.

This is slightly related: I was thinking about adding a baby-ga-ga pregnancy ticker to the sidebar, but it looked really odd and was simultaneously sweet and sort of creepy. I’ll post it in a regular post and you can tell me what you think of it. It lets people know based on the due date what is most likely happening developmentally at that point in the pregnancy.

Anyway, I’ve stopped bring work home with me and I’ve been doing a much better job of getting it all done there. Sadly, soon there will be no there, there for me. With a job change immanent, I am saying my goodbyes to a student population, coworkers, and town that I’ve come to love. I need to remember to bring these new habits with me when my job is closer so that I don’t fall into the same old pattern. Ah well, be-here-now… be-somewhere-else-later… be-nowhere eventually.


baby growth


Monday, April 09, 2007

Bittersweet – I got the job – the good one – the A.P. one. I love the job that I will be leaving, but it just doesn’t fit our lives. I have regrets that are tempered with new opportunities.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

  • The book meme that has been going around...
  • Bold the books you have read.
  • Italicize the ones you want to read.
  • Cross out the ones you won’t touch with a ten-foot pole
  • Put an asterisk (*) next to the ones you’ve never heard of.
  • Put a cross (+) next to the ones sitting on your bookshelf.
  • As an English teacher I decided to put a # next to books I’ve taught

1. + The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. + Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. # + To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. + The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. + The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. + The Lord of the Rings:
Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. + Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. * Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. * A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. + Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. + Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. + Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. + Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. + Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. * Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. + The Stand (Stephen King)
19. + Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)

20. # + Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. + The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. # + The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. # + Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. + The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. + The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
# + Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. + The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. +
Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
+ Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. # + 1984 (Orwell)
35. + The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. * I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. + The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. + The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

43. *Confessions of a Shopoholic(Sophie Kinsella) Is that Ray Kinsella’s wife? He wrote the book that Field of Dreams was based on…
44. + The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible
46. + Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)

47. + The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. # + The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. *
She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. +
The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. # + A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. # + Enders Game (Orsen scott card)
54. # + Great Expectations (Dickens)

55. # + The Great Gatsby, (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

56. * The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. + Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. # The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)

60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. + Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. + War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. + Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. * Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. # + One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)

68. # + Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. + Les Miserables (Hugo)
+ The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. # + Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding) – Yes, I taught this in a Brit Lit class before the movie came out – it’s quite good
72. # + Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. + Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. + The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. * The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving) I loved this book when I was in my teens.
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. *Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. # + Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. *Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. # + Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. *The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. *Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. *In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. # +Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. +The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. # +The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)

Read more »


The other week – several ago – I went to Columbia for a conference on the ACT put on by the ACT people. I am in the process of becoming a specialist in ACT coaching and preparation and have taken several classes to that end. I am also currently teaching a class to ten H juniors, who will test next weekend. (I am attempting to return to my former blogging “snippets of life” style.)

Anyway, while I was in Columbia I met Mike and his wife Christie out at Flat Branch for dinner. We proceeded to sit there for roughly four hours and get to know one another. I’ve been meaning to blog a thank you to them for the good time and conversation. I’ve also added them to the sidebar should you wish to get to know them too. I am hoping to get them over to St. Louis at some point for a summer BBQ, as all members of the local tribe would find them enjoyable.

In other sidebar news, I’ve also added my father-in-law Gary – who finally gets to post about the coming grandchild. The rule was that he had to wait to post until we did. We’re having a baby. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! As you can guess the pressure to find a local job has been intense. I can’t continue to drive three hours a day and miss the development of my child. Neither can we move an hour and a half away from a family who wants very much to see and participate in baby E’s growth and development. Baby E = Emily or Elliot (at least we are leaning this way). We’ll find out which at the next ultrasound.

So, my interview tomorrow is one of some importance.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Um, yeah… so we’ve been keeping a bit of a secret for awhile. Though I think the cat is now out th’bag. Meet baby E (Elliot or Emily). Due Oct. 17th.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


We are having late frosts here in Missouri. I had just put all of our plants out last weekend and then had to rush them into the basement during the week. Our landlady and her mother, just back from Mexico, have covered their low roses with woven Mexican blankets and their tall roses with sheets. Our backyard resembles a gathering of Scooby Doo ghosts in a crossover conclave with their Speedy Gonzales corollaries.

We had the landlady, Kathy, and her mother over for dinner the other night and I made Loui sandwiches for them.

These open-faced sandwiches were a staple at one of the restaurants I used to work at:

Top an English muffin with a slice of ripe tomato

Cover the tomato with a dollop of tuna or seafood salad

(As I am now allergic to shrimp I have to used just tuna, onions, celery, and mayo – but the original recipe also calls for baby shrimp)

Cover the salad with two large slices of Loraine Swiss

Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is golden and crisp on top

They are great fresh from the oven and even better cold the next day –like day old pizza can be better. I ate several of them yesterday morning and the batch of twelve sandwiches was gone by last night.

My panel interview on Friday went well. The principal called me Friday evening to congratulate me and invite me back Monday for a final interview. I have an early morning slot, which probably means that I was one of the first ones called. I don’t think it usually goes this way, but my first interview was with the principal, so at least I know what to expect of the interpersonals in that last meeting. He seems to be affable, someone I could happily work for. If they want me (not to put the cart before the horse), they want me for a dual enrollment AP position. I would be teaching seniors, and I’d get a small salary bump for each student who took the dual enrollment option.

Earlier this year I had a third interview at a neighboring district that didn’t go so well. I think what happened there is that I somehow conveyed that I didn’t really want the job, which was true. While the pay between that district and the one I am interviewing at tomorrow is comparable, the work load is purportedly higher at the district that passed me over. Also, that other district has a strict policy of working one’s way up to the advanced classes; such that, all new instructors teach freshman for several years. I don’t mind taking a few sections of freshman, I do that now, but it’s a waste of my abilities and certifications to keep me strictly in that position indefinitely.

So, wish me luck. I have one more hurdle to clear and my commute will disappear.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Job update:

The already thick plot has been on simmer long enough to have a nice brown crust of stress on it; still, more thickening has occurred. I got my contract for H today and have fifteen days from today to sign it. I have a second interview Friday with another district and they will have eleven days to offer me a contract or I will have to sign the H contract. I like H immensely, but it is far from friends and family and I can’t do another year of this drive. Unfortunately, the salary at H is not sufficient to buy a livable property and there is no rental market to speak of. . .

More on this story as it develops