Mo liosta buicéad

journey

This is NOT my typical blog, but my friend Mary has done gone and inspired me to think about what I want to do with the rest of my life.

If you haven’t read Mary Todd’s writing, visit her Facebook page and read her notes. She is a local celebrity. She travels the county on foot, inspiring people, expounding wisdom, collecting pennies and other treasures, and plotting world takeovers. She carries a walking stick with a troll attached. The troll’s name is Martha. Martha is trouble. You have to watch out for Martha.

Mary is my twin of another mother. She says she’s the bad one and I’m the good. But in the words of Shawn Spencer, “I’ve heard it both ways.”

Mary recently shared her Bucket List on Facebook, and I decided to compare hers to mine. Then I realized I don’t have one.

I do now. Thanks, Mary. Readers, whoever you may be, feel free to share your thoughts too. I challenge you to make your own list. Every life should have purpose.

MY BUCKET LIST afraid

  1. Go to Ireland for an extended stay.
  2. Meet Little Richard and tell him about my book.
  3. Have a real conversation with Steven Tyler. (And, no, I DO NOT lust after Steven Tyler nor anyone else for that matter. Sheesh, do I get tired of telling people this.) I happen to think there is a part of Steven Tyler that comprehends a part of the human soul that most people don’t, and I should like to speak with him about this matter. (I understand what this means even if I can’t explain it. God knows.)
  4. Write a minimum of five books, not all YA. All five unfinished books are floating in my brain. I have to get them out.
  5. See at least one of them published.
  6. Open a live music venue.
  7. Run an online vintage, boho, gypsy spirit clothing boutique.
  8. Organize a local writers’ group.
  9. Live healthy inside and out. (I understand what this means even if I can’t explain it. God knows.)
  10. Buy a camper and camp. A lot.
  11. Play guitar as well as I want to. (At least now I know what I need to do to achieve the goal. I finally “get” it. Don’t ask me to play for you now. Wait a little while. THEN I can play for you.)

As Porky Pig would say, “Ble, ble, ble, that’s all folks!”

intuition

Normal is just a setting on the washing machine

shoes

My journalism students start their staff meetings with a staff “check up” to see how everybody is doing. The emotion meter runs the spectrum. High. Low. Explosive. You name it. Typically, one wants to punch something, another is holding back tears, somebody is always hungry. The lone freshman enters the room in shock. Her innocence has once again put through the test. One week she witnessed the first kid her age sporting a beard. Another week she saw a kid her age who’s pregnant– not the same kid, by the way. She was dismayed.

We may be an odd bunch, but we’re TRYING to work together as a team. We’re not perfect. We’re small in number and big on learning respect and tolerance–at least that’s the goal. And not one of us is “right.” (You wouldn’t believe some of the stories I’ve heard from them–and they’re heard from me.) We are so DIFFERENT!

One of my guys summed up our cozy little staff by quoting one of his mom’s favorite sayings: Normal is just a setting on the washing machine.

Ya know, wouldn’t that make a cool title for a book?

And so apropros. I’m sure if you’ve been to this blog at all you’re sick of hearing about my writing whoas, but I am on a quest for publication. I have been for years. I was sidetracked after the death of both of my parents, and I haven’t been able to get rolling again, but I will. My published writer friends tell me to be patient. I’m trying.

Maybe I’ll run into Little Richard. I have a character based on him in one of my books. Maybe he’ll read it. Maybe he’ll like it. Maybe he’ll like it a lot. Maybe he’ll introduce me to an editor who can’t wait to publish it. And my chances of that happening? Ummm hmmmm. Again, I’m not what you’d call “right.”

I’m doing a bit of “remodeling” at my home. While moving things around, I discovered a Beth Moore book I bought quite some time ago, but the timing of me finding it was perfect, serendipitous, if you will. It’s all about insecurity.

I snuggled under a blanket and read, read, read, soaking up all of her wisdom. Wow. Beth Moore feels insecure too? Maybe I’m not so different after all. (And, hey, Friend Who Sent Me a Message Last Night Confessing Your Bout with Insecurity, again the timing is right. I will let you read the book. But you aren’t so different. If fact, you’re pretty normal. We all feel like a fish out of water sometimes.)

I think a lot of us feel insecure with our appearance, our social status, our job performance, our relationships, etc. The list goes on and on.

I love, love, love people, but they terrify me. I’ve interviewed a terrorist, a child prodigy, and millionaires and celebrities. No problem. I feel 85% comfortable doing what I do. I get a tad bit nervous before we talk, but once I get caught up in the conversation, I’m relaxed. I figure it’s a gift to be able to hear another person’s story firsthand.

But when I have to interact with people I know, I come unglued, adults particularly. I’m more relaxed around my students–if I think they like me. But if I think they don’t, I walk on eggshells. Bad.

Adults are scary people. That’s why I think I’ll just stay a kid for the rest of my life.

When I’m in charge (i.e. in teacher mode). I’m a great observer. Like the Crocodile Hunter, I can read the signs of the child creatures. I know when they’re slipping into fight or flight mode. I can USUALLY tell if they like me or don’t.

Not so much with adults. Adult beasts have learned the fine art of wearing a façade. They schmooze, butter up, slap on sarcasm, tell inside jokes, manipulate, seduce, etc. Thank goodness, most of my young students have little experience with these techniques. As a result, we get along pretty well. I am not very good at those “techniques,” so in the great card game of adult human interaction, I never know what card to play with the hand I’ve been dealt.

Nevertheless, I’m still intrigued by people. I watched Midnight in Paris for the 20th time last week, and once again I made a new revelation. The lead character Gil steps back in time to mingle with his literary and art heroes–the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, Picasso. Quite interestingly, the movie depicts all of these greats as having their own vulnerabilities, well protected, but present nevertheless. We ALL have them.

I wish I could sit down with a few of these famous faces and just talk–minus the facades, minus the manipulation, minus the arrogance and haughty presentation. I want to understand the real THEM.

If you could pick TEN people to TALK to, who would they be? Why?

I have my ten. Some people might criticize me for not choosing all the great theologians, but you won’t find many “religious” people on this list. I can predict standard religious answers from people who appear perfect but who  hide their flaws, and the most genuine of saints, in my opinion, people like Mother Teresa or Billy Graham, are crystal clear.

My list includes people who are like muddy water. It’s hard to see through these people. My list includes some spiritual people, some eccentrics, and a few prodigals. People like you. People like me. People with flaws. People with potential. People with epiphanies. People with pain.

People are people. Everybody has a story.

Here we go:

Zelda Fitzgerald — She was such a free spirit, but F. Scott kept her roped in (at least that’s what the biographies say). She spent her the last years of her life in an asylum. Why? What drove her to such anguish?

Edgar Allan Poe — Never has a man ever seen so much misery. I want to know about the last days leading up to his death. Did he really have a relationship with God as I’ve read, or did he abandon the faith?

C.S. Lewis — I’d like to know what he thinks about J.K. Rowling, whom so many Christians deem devil-inspired.

Marilyn Monroe — I want to know whom she really loved, if she really loved, and who was responsible for her death.

Little Richard — It seems everyone in my town has met him but me. He seems to have such a kind heart. I want to see if it’s true. I want to tell him about my book!

Steven Tyler — He is maximum drive creativity wrapped in the appearance of  new-found sober sincerity, hopefully not faux. I want to know why he does what he does and what he really believes.

Benjamin Franklin — I could spend weeks talking to him about his rock star life during the colonial period. How did he invent? And where did he get those ideas? I think I know. Did he really lead a dark life in various secret societies?

Stevie Ray Vaughan — I hope to talk to him in heaven. Otherwise, I have a dozen questions about Jimi Hendrix, his guitar heroes, his guitars, and the helicopter crash.

Elvis Presley — I want to ask him about Memphis and his mama.

Rick Bragg — I’ve heard him speak, read all of his books. Maybe he could give me some real advice.

There she is. Now it’s your turn.

WORDS OF WISDOM
It’s wonderful when you can bring sparkle into people’s lives without fading away from your own true color. Keep the hue in you. ~ Dodinsky

The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.  ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Never apologize for showing feeling.  When you do so, you apologize for the truth.  ~ Benjamin Disraeli

MUSIC NOTES
You with the sad eyes / Don’t be discouraged / Oh I realize / Its hard to take courage / In a world full of people / You can lose sight of it all / And the darkness inside you / Can make you feel so small / But I see your true colors / Shining through / I see your true colors / And that’s why I love you / So don’t be afraid to let them show / Your true colors / True colors are beautiful, / Like a rainbow

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPn0KFlbqX8v=J7CPgxNSpwk/

FINAL THOUGHTS

seuss

Five ways to court your muse

inspiration-1-mindmap

We can blame Nobel Prize winner Roger W. Sperry for the notion of Right Brain / Left Brain. There are a lot of naysayers out there who say his theory is poppycock. Me? I believe it. I work with people all day, and I see evidence of how their brains work.

That’s not to say a person can’t be adept at both ways of thinking. In case, you’re not familiar with the concept, the right brain is supposed to influence creativity, intuition, emotions and music. The left brain governs basically logic and numbers.

I used to think I leaned a little to the left, a little to the right. I was always a writer and a dreamer, but my best subjects in school were math and science. Well, until a series of unfortunate incidents severed my relationship with math. (I was so proud of myself last week when a student asked me to explain absolutes. I did it! Even after…um…cough, cough…decades.) But here I am an English teacher, a music lover, and a writer. What is meant to be will be. Goodbye, math.

But Right Brain, oh, how I love thee.

And for that reason, I consider my right brain to be my muse. I relish opportunities to dream aloud. Thus, I try to make my right brain happy.

If you’re trying to boost your creativity, you might try these tips too.

1. Create ambiance.

When I write, I like to be alone. Not always. Basically I just don’t want clutter, physical or mental. Negative energy can clutter my brain, so I try to escape conflict, arguments, and tension. I try to find a place where my Right Brain can relax.

2. Set the mood.

Okay, once the clutter is gone, I’m good to go, but if I really want to be uber creative, I light candles. I love firelight, and I am drawn to the smell of burning wood. I never play music when I write unless the music I play helps set the scene or makes me feel the emotions of the characters whose heads I’m in.

3. Embrace adventure.

Today I set out to write in a little coffee shop in a mystical little town, but it was closed. I didn’t want to go to the other two places where I usually write, so I drove off and counted on serendipity to take me to the right place. I found myself in front of an old inn, so I took a chance and tested the doors. Sure enough, it was open, and the guy in charge of the place invited me to roam all about. I was the only one there, and the second and third floors were dark. “You can go up to the third floor,” he said. “But it’s supposed to be haunted.”

A lot of people don’t think before they speak. They have no filter. Me? I have no brakes. Going where I shouldn’t is a flaw I readily admit. Considering my new book idea teeters on the speculative side, I thought I might get some ideas. And ideas I did get. I wasn’t the least bit afraid or freaked out—even when I saw something I dreamed about two nights before.

4. Turn off the alarm clock.

Life robs us of our creativity because we become so structured we forget out to play. Kids today don’t know how to make a mud pie or how to create a fort. Oh, they can whip up a gourmet meal using a computer program, and they can fight battles online with one of their many gaming systems, but they don’t know how to create from scratch. I say we’re made in the image of our Creator. We should use the imaginations God gave us. I adamantly oppose forcing children to enter pre-school. Too much structure! I am not a proponent of giving homework for the sake of giving homework. No time left to let the mind relax.

My favorite hour of the day is spent in the bed alone right after my alarm clock goes off. I purposely set my clock at an ungodly hour on Saturdays so that I can just lie there and think for one or two hours before I have to go somewhere. When I let my mind wander, I come up with my best story ideas. Yes,discipline is important. It’s good practice to make yourself write when you don’t want to write. But to have no time limit, to just be able to let your mind roam, that, my friend, is freedom.

5. Surround yourself with things that stimulate your right brain.

I like color. I like mosaics. I am not one of these chicks who shops for the sake of keeping up with the latest trends. I like to wear comfortable clothes that reflect my inner style. For me, that’s lots of color and flowy fabric. If I feel good on the outside, I am more productive from the inside back to the outside.

These are my rules for writing, my methods for courting my muse. Writers are odd souls. No two are alike.  They (we) all have our own methods of courting our muses.

One of my friends picked up Celia Blue Johnson’s book and shared it with me. She knows I’m an Odd Thomas fan (Dean Koontz), and she thought I might like it. It’s called, appropriately, Odd Type Writers. I have to admit, I wondered if she was hinting at something.

I ended up buying my own copy. I highly recommend it if you want to take a peek into the minds of the eccentric writing elite. Here are a few tidbits to pique your curiosity:

  • Edgar Allan Poe balanced a cat on his should when he wrote. (So did I until my favorite feline walked out the door and never came back.)
  • Virginia Wolfe believed “a woman must have money and a room of her own to write fiction.” I may never get either, but I will try to make my own nest.
  • Alexandre Dumas was OCD about the color of stationary he used for his different types of writing: yellow for poetry, articles on pink, and blue for novels.
  • Truman Capote did not gel well with the number 13. He was quite superstitious, never starting or ending a work on a Friday, never boarding a plane with more than one nun.
  • Eudora Welty would not write while facing a window.
  • When Maya Angelou writes, she rents a hotel room and orders almost everything removed so she won’t be distracted.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE
So, do tell, what are your secrets of courting your muse?

WORDS OF WISDOM
“All of us need to be in touch with a mysterious, tantalizing source of inspiration that teases our sense of wonder and goads us on to life’s next adventure.” ~ Rob Brezsney
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

MUSIC NOTES
Are you wanting inspiration? / You spill your secrets on me / Then you tell me with a whisper / Of things that will never be. (The Black Crowes)

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
http://blog.freepeople.com/2013/05/inspires/

FINAL THOUGHT

creative-inspirational-quotes-thoughts-part9-10

Six degrees of the blues vs. fifty shades of grey? I’ll take the blues.

square dance

A serendipitous life is like an “allemande left.”

In square dance terms, this call requires each dancer to take the other’s hand, making it easier to enter and exit the movement. Serendipitous dancers move freely in life, acknowledging that all things work together like an “allemande left” to allow them to take take hold of and to learn from the fortunate accidents they encounter.

A few weeks ago, I had a creative dream. When I woke up, song lyrics trickled in my head like a gentle stream. But one word  spewed forth like the spring–Celie.

Never heard it–at least, so I thought.

I wrote down the lyrics but changed the name to Cecilia, which is what I thought my mind was probably trying to dream. Hey, it worked for Paul Simon.

Of course, my OCD nature compelled me to research the name’s meaning. Historically, Cecilia was the patroness of music because when she was dying she sang to God. A little more research revealed the name’s meaning refers to “a way for the blind.” Hmm. Music? A way for the blind? Yes. And, of course, “blind” can be interpreted on a myriad of levels.

I was so pumped. What a very cool dream. But one thing kept nagging at me. I didn’t dream the name “Cecilia.” I dreamed “Celie.” Once again, I felt compelled to grasp the hand before me and examine the next clue to find out why I dreamed this song.

Turns out Celie is derived from Cecilia. I don’t want to give away my song ideas, but I wanted the song to have a Delta feel about it. As most of you know, I love, love, love the blues, so I built the song around a mysterious woman named Celie who could read people.

A little more research revealed the French origins of the name. Okay. Louisiana. That works. And according to my Internet “baby names” search, people with the name “Celie” are often great analyzers or mystics.

Perfect.

At this point, I had the whole song written with multiple layers of meaning. I thought I was finished, but then I found one more detail that put the icing on my joconde. (So, I’m trying to be clever here. Get it? For those of you who don’t know, a joconde is a French opera cake. It will make even more sense when you read the next couple of sentences.)

So here’s the missing link (literally) to today’s serendipitous story.

I’m a fan of the show Nashville. I serendipitously showed up at a taping and was an extra. I serendipitously met one of the stars at the Aerosmith concert. My favorite singer on the show is Clare Bowen, who plays Juliet. While I was creeping my Facebook newsfeed, I found a post from my favorite shop, the upscale Two Old Hippies in the REAL downtown Nashville.

(Sidebar:  I love Nashville, the city. I really like to visit  Two Old Hippies. It’s fun to browse for, not just merchandise, but also details and vibes for stories and songs.)

Back to story, the post revealed that Clare Bowen had just bought the last pair of Liberty fringe boots, the same pair of boots I admired but could not purchase. The Two Old Hippies post included a video clip of Clare wearing the boots on The View with Whoopie Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd.

I don’t always click on links, but, hey. I like Two Old Hippies. I like Clare Bowen. And I like the boots. I clicked on it.

(Another sidebar…I had the opportunity to interview Sherri Shepherd several years ago. What a lovely lady! Her presence in this story just makes me smile. Squirrel! Yes, I know. I’m a little spastic.)

Back to the story…again.

Anyway, when they interviewed Clare Bowen, the ladies of The View revealed that the beautifully Southern singer was actually from Australia.

AUSTRALIA?

And she was a trained opera singer. (Remember when I made the witty remark about the joconde?) Clare had to learn country. And she had to learn Southern.

Turns out Clare Bowen herself was having a serendipitous moment on the show.

She couldn’t tell her own story without revealing how a song about Whoopi Goldberg’s character, Miss Celie in  The Color Purple, changed her life.

(Sidebar Number Three…Miss Celie! My dream! Maybe I had buried that little detail far back in my brain and my subconscious was trying to help me dig it out. We can’t even comprehend how God designed our brains. We think we know so much.)

“Miss Celie’s Blues” opened the door to a new understanding of music for Clare Bowen. She found freedom in the blues. She loved the bluesy feel of the song.

The blues. Miss Celie’s blues. Sister Celie’s blues.  Of course! THE BLUES!

Clare Bowen’s first real taste of the blues change her life and brought her to Nashville. How serendipitous.

And, had  I not been sick for seven days with what I am sure is the plague, I would have never have had to leave work today to go to the doctor. And if I did not receive the dreaded shots, I would not have had to go home instead of back to work.

Because I came home when I did, I serendipitously read the Two Old Hippies / Bowen post as it was the first to pop up on my Facebook feed.

Now I know how Clare Bowen, Two Old Hippies, the show Nashville, Liberty fringe cowboy boots, Sherri Shepherd, Whoopi Goldberg, the plague, and THE BLUES worked together today to create my tailor-made serendipitous story.

“Allemande left” everyone.

 

More than the quintessential cow girl

COW

The other night I watched The Words (Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde, and Zoe Saldana). I didn’t plan on watching it, but any movie about a writer struggling to “make it” begs me to watch it.

The movie bases its foundation on one question: “Just how far would you go to be the person you want to be?”

In other words, would you steal someone else’s story just to be who you wanted to become?

The film portrays an old man who says, “We all make choices; the hard thing is to live with them, and there ain’t nobody that can help you with that.”

Wow.

I write. All the time. Something. Anything. Celebrity profiles. Fiction. Notes on papers I’m grading. Blogs. Texts. A few emails. Poor attempts at song lyrics.

So far everything I have written has been true. I have never stolen nothing, no not a thing—well, with the exception of the deliberate theft of that last sentence. If you know song lyrics, you’ll understand. If not, proceed. It’s no big thing.

I have a new group of creative writing students this semester, and once again, my goal for them and for me is for us to take our writing to the next level, to step out of our comfort zones.

My new class of creative writers has been very good for me. So far my students cut me no slack. If they have to write, they expect me to write. My homework for them? Create a blog with its own unique writing. Their homework for me? Write a blog about them.

But what can I say? I don’t know them well—yet. So far I have met the super intelligent Batman, a Halo freak who shares his cheerios, three musicians, an artist, a baton twirler, Lady Wit, a runaway who gets to stay, and a very shy girl who kind of reminds me of myself.

But when I get to know them, can I say more? If I tell their stories without their permission, will I invade their privacy? Will I steal their stories for my gain? But what happens if their story IS my story? I believe people’s paths cross for a reason.

Never should I define people by the characters they play in my life story, for tomorrow they will grow into somebody else. You change; I change. Not everything about us, just some things.

I, for example, will always love God, my family, and the Red Sox. I can’t imagine ever giving up writing or music. And I won’t give up the people I love. I do, however, abandon certain fads. I left the leg warmers in the eighties, and I don’t perm my hair.

I’m what they call a “seasoned teacher.” You can’t fool me. That’s just another way of saying old. No matter how you say it, I have been a supporting cast member in the stories of many students’ lives. I don’t mind. I just don’t want them to sell that chapter as my entire story.

When I first started teaching, I decorated my classroom in a black and white spotted motif. The next thing I knew I became the crazy teacher who liked black and white bovines. I like cows, but they don’t necessarily moooove me. I have, in fact, ridden a cow backwards across a barnyard. That, my friends, is another story, one better left in the barnyard.

During my “cow phase,” I acquired a lot (literally) of Holstein items, including a stool with udders, which I thought was utterly hilarious. Heck, even the baseball coach brought me a cow ink pen from a coaching clinic. The cow lady. That’s who I had become.

During another phase, I was the crazy lady who loved Julius Caesar. I still do. I received anonymous letters from students warning me to “Beware the Ides of March.” While some teachers had to be on the look out for yard rollers on Halloween, I had to keep up my guard the night of March 15. But that’s okay. My rollers and I are now great friends. But they should remember the evil that men (and women) do lives after them. Paybacks are killer.

At another point of my career, I voraciously taught my students the importance of vocabulary, and we started with the word QUINTESSENTIAL. Every student I had during this phase used the word either to impress or distress me. And even now, my co-workers smile when they use the word around me. I think it’s funny, especially when QUINTESSENTIAL shows up on my Facebook timeline.

There was a time when Michael W. Smith was my favorite singer, and, yes, in fact, I did name my younger child after him. I didn’t just like Michael W. Smith; I wanted to be like Michael W. Smith. I wanted to own a place like his Nashville-based Rocketown so that I could positively impact kids’ lives with music. I still do.

And now I’m the crazy Steven Tyler stalker. I don’t know why. I just am. I guess Steven became a symbol for me, a reminder that regardless of one’s age, a person can never be too old to act a little crazy,  to love music and to love people, the latter, I think, Steven Tyler maybe too much. But again, there’s another story, and we haven’t the time.

If I become a character in my students’ memoirs, I have no idea which persona I will portray. I hope the writers paint the truth and avoid portraying me as a one-dimensional character.

All people leave their colors on other people’s canvases, some more vividly than others. And believe me, whether or not it’s in print, we read each others’ stories daily. We should be careful to avoid over generalizing and assuming.

I have stories about my life I can’t tell, won’t tell, because my life isn’t its own. I am a vault. I could never make it as a member of the paparazzi.

I also don’t want to be painted as the crazy cow-loving cat lady who stalked Steven Tyler in the most quintessential way. I’m a whole lot more than that.

If we have met, YOU have become a character in MY story. You are paint on my canvas.  And if I do tell my story, I’ll do my best to paint you with an honest brush and to write you with an trustworthy pen.

A day in the life of me

Assignment for my creative writing class:  Borrow some of the techniques Dean Koontz uses in Odd Thomas
and write your own story titled “A Day in the Life of Me.”

I am a night owl. I like to stay up past midnight when everyone else has gone to sleep and the house is mine. The solitude is mine. My thoughts are mine. And I can write.

But when morning comes I’m never ready to wake up. Just a few more minutes of sleep—I reset the alarm. I hate the alarm.

And I have to dress according to my mood. If I wear the “wrong” thing, well then, my day planks. No, I’m not a fashionista. Maybe it’s a feng shui thing, applied to clothing.

But I can never find my shoes. And off I go in search. Why I don’t look under my computer table, why I dig through the bottom of my closet, I do not know. I cannot wear shoes in my house. Off they go as I sit cross-legged in my rolling chair writing or playing my guitar.

Get dressed, dab on a little make-up, straighten my hair, find my earrings. Oh, have mercy. If I don’t wear my lucky earrings, I am incomplete.

And regardless of the time, I must complete my morning ritual. I check Facebook and WordPress, and I play my guitars, electric and acoustic. I switch them up. Both have their own little nuances.

I can’t put into words what these guitars mean to me. They are my life source.

I’m not saying God isn’t. He is, of course. I’m just saying that for me to be me, I have to find myself through song. Some people march to the beat of their own drummer. I make my own melodies on a six string.

And the first thing I do when I get home from school? Play guitar. And what’s the last thing I do before bed at night? Play guitar. My life source. The one materialistic thing that lets me be me.

And it never fails.

I play too long, or the clock cheats and makes me late. I rush to my Durango to head to school. And then I realize I don’t have my phone. I run back into the house and grab it from my charger and stuff it in my bag. Half way to school, I panic. Where is my phone? I think, “Did I put it in my bag?”

And I madly search for it while trying oh so hard not to go past the 15 mph school zone speed limit. I don’t need another $173 ticket. Nay, I do protest. I’ve lived near the school practically all my life, and it wasn’t until I received my ticket that I ever saw those signs, new of course, marking the extended school zone.

Someone pulled a fast one, and it wasn’t just me. But I was the one stuck with a ticket.

I get to school. Aw, man. Has the bell rung? Can I get signed in before 7:45?

I rush, rush, rush. I used to be an early bird, arriving at 6:30 a.m. But I’m a weary basket case, so 7:40 it is on most days…or 7:45.

I rev up to teach the college English classes. Seniors. Who woulda thunk I’d like them? They’re laid back. Heck they’re almost adults. We can so relate.

Oh, you teachers of K-10. Bless your hearts, especially middle-school teachers. How do you handle the giggles, farts, snickers, and burps? And I can’t believe I just used the f word in my blog. Never. Totally uncouth.

Attendance. I have to take attendance, but my computer will not pull up portal. I spend all of announcement time trying to log on. And then I’m bombarded by students who want one-on-one help. I can’t transition from English to sociology. The same thing happens with the transition to creative writing.

But ah….it’s time for newspaper production, a time when I can work ALONE on the technical aspects of desktop publishing that my students rarely learn. It’s too complicated. I have to do it myself to send the files over the Internet. Word, Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Distiller, Adobe PDF. I do the job of a graphic designer without ever having taken the first college class. And that’s why they pay me the big bucks to take on the school newspaper. Not.

By now I realize I have never turned on my phone. I turn it on and discover a couple of texts. Aw, man. No wonder everything has been quiet.

And I rush, rush, rush. Multi-task. Grade papers. Call parents. Check my email. Check my email. Check my email. Email for high school. Email for Motlow. Email for writing. Email for Harmony House. Would you believe I didn’t check it for a few days, and I exceeded 1,000 messages for one account. I hate email almost as much as I hate my alarm clock.

Then it’s back home.

Oh, what to expect. Usually something LOUD. It starts with boy grumbling about taking out dog. Then there are words. And then there is a quick trip outdoors. Back in. No success. The dog gets irritated and lays a passive aggressive plan in the kitchen. I hear more yelling. It gets ugly. Every day. Same old song and dance.

I must grade. I must grade. I must grade. But I have had my heart and soul telepathically sucked out of me from the other bodies in my room craving my attention. I want to give, but what’s left? I’m tired.

I need a break, so I watch TV. Last night it was Nashville. The show, to me, seems fairly realistic. I’ve been on the far, far outer fringes of the Nashville music scene for years. Been to a few media events. Done my fair share of schmoozing. I love that show. I do. The tension is spot on. I can feel it.

I also watch Criminal Minds, Leverage, Psych, Supernatural, Major Crimes Bones, etc.

Truth be told, though, I really wish I could give up TV. I want to read.

Reading and writing are gifts you give yourself and others. Oh, to read.

And, finally, I lay me down, my soul to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

So many distractions in a day. So many reasons to lose focus. So many sources of discouragement. Sleep is a fine escape.

Snuggled in my Ireland t-shirt and old black sweats, I drift off. I dream. But the dream never lasts long enough. The alarm goes off. And I wake up when the day breaks.

And I do it again.