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Banal Fodder, Revisited

June 6, 2012


Today I saw a carrot-topped boy on a bike with a cream and brown plaid shirt on, matched with brown and orange and cream plaid shorts.  The plaids were very different, yet I liked the ensemble.  The best part was the rather large, bright green maple leaves sticking out of his pocket.  And the long stick he was carrying.  I don’t know how he could steer his bike.  As I waited at the stop light, I couldn’t help but stare at him.  He was a character.  I wondered what his story would be.  What adventures had he been on?  What was the significance of those leaves?  Why were they sticking out of his pocket?  He was with a friend, but his friend looked ordinary, so I ignored him.  I almost took a picture of him with my dumb phone, but what would be the point of that?  I can’t get the pictures off my phone anyway.

* * * * *

The school year is coming to an end for my kids.  Sarah is devastated.  She has had the same class for two years because her teacher looped with them.  Every moment is a reminder that next year will be different.  She has really thrived with her excellent teacher.  I am sad for her.  I keep reminding her that next year will turn out to be fun, but she is too focused on what she is losing to look forward to what will be.  So, I just let her cry and hold her tight.  I let the drama unfold and nod, agree and hug some more.  Katie and Nicholas are just plain ready for summer, even though they have some work to get done in their rooms before the fun can begin.  Especially Nicholas.  Wow.  I don’t know how ready I am for summer, but it is coming full speed ahead, ready or not.

* * * * *

My best friend is having such a hard time right now and I feel like I am not doing enough to support her.  She has a special needs child and has lived with health and behavior issues for 15 years.  In April he was attacked by a very RARE disease called TTP.  It is an auto-immune disorder that attacks healthy platelets which then makes their levels fall to life-threatening levels.  He was hospitalized and put on a vent in order to do plasma exchanges to help get rid of this disease.  He was under for two weeks, and in the hospital for almost six weeks.  He is still going in for the exchange as an outpatient.  But, because he was put under for two weeks, he is still going through withdrawal from the narcotics that they used.  He is still in pretty tough shape, but we all kind of thought he was going to die, so we are grateful that he is getting better–slowly but surely.  The recurrence rate is high.  Every cold he has to go and get his levels checked.  I am making a meal for them again tomorrow morning and then bringing lunch as well.  Hug your kids.  We are all so blessed!

* * * * *

I am teaching three sections of the lower level reading class next semester.  I have been hard at work reading through a new book of short stories that I chose as a required text.  I am 3/5 of the way through the book.  I am getting tired of it, but I am determined to push on.  This book is called America’s 24-Karat Gold.  It has 24 stories from American literature.  Some of the stories are so good.  Others, meh.  I am marking the good ones to look at again.  I have decided that I can not do more stories than one a week.  If that.  So, I decided that this is a perfect place to weave in some choice.  Once I have determined which stories will be required, they get to choose from the left overs to do a choice assignment.  I wish I could do both this book and the Newspaper.  I think my students really liked the StarTribune.  It was also a great source for building in choice.  I am excited about re-vamping my course.  I wish I had a close friend that I could collaborate with while rewriting.  It is always more fun with a friend.

* * * * *

Sam asked me what YA novels I have been reading.  Let me just say that ALL three of them are excellent!  I highly recommend them, and I am trying to figure out how to use them in my class, if I can.

1.  Speak  by Laurie Halse Anderson

This story is about a girl who is raped at a party right before she starts High School.  It is not that graphic, but it is about RAPE, so there is some tough stuff.  I was nervous to read it because I tend to put my own daughters in the place of the characters.  I didn’t have any problems with that.  It was fantastic!

2.  Thirteen Reasons Why  by Jay Asher

This story is about a new girl in high school who is dead.   Suicide.  She left thirteen tapes to explain why she took her own life.  It is an obsessive read.  Once you begin, you can’t stop.  Again, tough stuff, but so, so good.

3.  The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

This story is about a boy who decides to leave the Reservation and join a white school to get a better education.  It is about racism, acceptance, culture, privilege, and taking a risk to be yourself.  It is WONDERFUL.

I have a couple more titles up my sleeve for summer that are YA.  But up next I will be reading State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.  After I get done with my 24-Karat Gold.  Which, in all honesty reminds me of the Solid Gold Dancers.  Do you remember them?  I remember falling in love with Journey when they performed on Solid Gold.  Don’t Stop Believin’.


  1. June 6, 2012 11:39 am

    I love the photos of your kids. And you’re right: that kid on the bike was a CHARACTER. Wouldn’t it be fun to read HIS story? :) Summer IS a-coming, yo…I don’t feel ready, either.

    • June 12, 2012 8:00 am

      Well, summer is here. And, I really do want to know that kid’s story. Really.

  2. June 8, 2012 12:15 pm

    Oh it’s lovely to hear from you here again. And I always love to hear about what you are reading. You always have such interesting things to say about what you’re reading too. If I were going to give you a writing assignment, it would be to go deeper into what you love reading, and why. How do you choose what you read?

    Loved State of Wonder. Couldn’t put it down.

    • June 12, 2012 8:03 am

      Oh, good! Another assignment! I need them! I am working on Liz’s assignment right now. It seems so easy, yet it is HARD. I love writing about reading though. Is yours deceptive as well? Your little Basil is so cute! I can’t wait to hear more about him. And congratulations on your graduation!! I still haven’t started State of Wonder. Boo. What are you reading now?

  3. June 8, 2012 1:52 pm

    I am so sorry about your friend’s son! TTP is what they thought Thomas had when he was first born. It ended up not being that, but whoa just seeing the name brings back memories. You are SUCH a good friend to your friend. It’s hard to know what to do, but loving her through it all and helping with the everyday things like meals – that’s being there for someone! I cannot imagine what that family is going through.

    Thanks for the rundown on your YA reads! I love exploring the YA section at the library – it’s like a bonus section for me! The one about the kid leaving the reservation sounds really interesting. I will keep my eye out for it.

    I hate that your kids are upset about the changes next year. I hope that their new schools will surprise them!

    Summer is SO here. I am enjoying the break from the everyday get-up-and-go at 6 AM. Still, we need more popsicles and swimming for it to really feel like summer!

    • June 12, 2012 8:18 am

      Oh, my gosh Sam! They thought Thomas had TTP?! That is so scary. They have said that this is an adult disease. I may have misheard, but I thought they said that it is RARE in adults and that they haven’t had a case in a child before. That has to be wrong, doesn’t it? I am going to do this thing we have here called “Let’s Dish” for my friend. Do you have them in Mississippi? It is a place where you can go and assemble meals and then you put them in your freezer and voila! Meals. Ready to be thawed and eaten. I am going to do twelve meals for her.

      Happy summer Sam! I am still pressuring you to post! I want to hear what you have been up to!

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