The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Dollop of Bitter and Lots of Sweet

       Yesterday was the last day of the Gateway Writing Project's Summer Institute. The Summer Institute (SI) is a five-week, four-day-a-week class (6 hours a day) for teachers. 

This was a graduate class I took way back in 2001, and for the last two years, I've been co-teaching it. It's past pinch-me-is-this-for-real? Working with kids during the school year and with teachers during the summer is a dream come true.

       Spending 120 hours together--spread out over a month--is delightful when the teachers are invested and fun and talented. But when they're over the top with talent and when the group becomes such a community that incredible wounds are shared and jokes become long-running and explosive... well, when it's over, it's sad (and a bit bitter).

        We celebrated by going out to lunch together yesterday, and wrote round-robin limericks. The plan was to read them aloud in the restaurant, but our table was so long, we would have had to shout them, and after seeing the turns most of the limericks took, we wisely decided to read them on the sidewalk outside of the restaurant. (Risque' is almost a rule when it comes to limericks--or at least humor that leans toward crude.)

       The sweet part is one of the teachers (I'm hoping... and if one of them does not, I've promised that I will do the deed) will send out an email about starting a writing critique group... so they can keep the momentum going. In the past five weeks, I mentioned my writing critique group several times as we talked about the power of our colleagues. If we don't surround ourselves with other writers, if we don't have writing friends to nudge us, we often don't make the time to write.

      How about you? What bittersweet moment can you recall? Slightly sad minds want to know...

Monday, July 6, 2015

Don't Tell

      Don't tell my dog that when I call him with a treat, I'm going to reach out quickly and grab his collar so I can get him in. (It takes several tries. He's quite wily.)

      Don't tell my students that when I play kickball with them, I always "bunt." (I can run fairly fast, for a short distance, but I can't kick worth a d***.)

      Don't tell my hair stylist I'm going to schedule a hair-cut in the next week or so... If she gets advanced warning, she might call in sick. (It's been a loooong time since my hair was dipped, and parts of it are as gray as a rat's back.)

      One of my friend's family had a "seven year" rule. Whatever trouble they got into, they couldn't tell their mom about it until 7 years had passed. Their mother figured, if they weren't in prison or dead or hospitalized, it must have not been too serious. Some of the boys in the family actually noted the exact day they could tell their mom, because it was that good of a tale.

      What story could you begin with "Don't tell..."?