Here comes everybody

  • All my library books have due dates in 2015.
  • Our city library buys extra copies of popular books and lends them for a nonrenewable 7-day loan period.  I was at the library today and saw several books on these shelves that I’d like to read, but contented myself with jotting down the titles and plotting to come back as soon as winter break starts.  If I get them now, I’ll never read them before they’re due.
  • I did pick up a few books I’d requested from other branches, but these are the normal three-week loans (due back the last Saturday of break, and also renewable).
  • Irritating me right now:
    • For rarely sending an email that doesn’t make work for me: the Librarian.  Two or three times a week, she sends me a link or forwards a post from her school librarians’ listserv with an inquiry about whether I think she/we could/should do something like this or with a more general request for my response.  I know she is only trying to be collegial–no, wait, scratch that: sometimes she’s just trying to be collegial; sometimes she is reaching out for support, because she is curiously averse to doing anything in her realm without consulting multiple people for advice or permission.  And yet the ideas she forwards are often really large projects that would take significant initiative and time to do.  I have gotten into a pattern where I respond promptly but briefly to about three out of four of them and let the fourth one slide.  That seems like the right ratio for not encouraging her too much.
    • Oddly, Romola, for being apparently helpless in a situation that she should have known how to handle, but we resolved it.  I am beginning to recognize a pattern in women who when they were children lacked good-enough mothering, in Winnicott’s phrase, and as adults seem to become helpless in the hopes of getting some caretaking from older women (even not-that-much-older women, in the case of the Librarian, who also enacts this dynamic; Romola, at least, is more than ten years younger than I am). I suspect this means that I am now old enough to be the older woman.
    • Finally, Penelope, for not thinking through a better way of introducing a newly  required task to the faculty, and instead insisting repeatedly that the task would be “easy,” thereby attempting, and failing, to erase people’s awareness that they are being asked to do an extra task (which might, conservatively, take an extra half hour a week).  The task itself is not at all unreasonable, I should point out, but trying to make teachers stop noticing that it is an extra task just makes us mad.  Some of my eleventh-grade composition and rhetoric students could have done a better job getting us on board.
    • Clearly it is time for a break.
  • I spent most of today at a family function, and have to go to a holiday party this evening, and a memorial service for an SA staffer tomorrow afternoon.  So Sunday morning and Sunday evening will have to contain all the work, errands, and Hanukkah preparations that are getting done this weekend.
  • A little grouchy.  Trying to decide whether the relief of ditching the holiday party would be worth disappointing Stubb and the hosts.  (Stubb and the Snork Maiden would still go, I think.  I probably should go too.)

Well, well, well

Feeling a bit foolish, I shared my anxiety about the Snork Maiden with Dr. Tea and Lucinda today at lunch.  (I had just been meeting with a student in the Snork Maiden’s class who had to run off with an extra practice DBQ* essay she had written to discuss it with the AP European History teacher she and the Snork Maiden share–the Snork Maiden would almost certainly never write an extra practice DBQ for any reason.  AP Euro is her favorite class, though, or maybe it’s tied with English.)  They reminded me that I don’t want the Snork Maiden to be an anxiety-ridden perfectionist, and that I don’t even want her to have ambitions in that direction; I want her to have a good sense of self, resilience, intellectual curiosity, and a thoughtful view about how she chooses to spend her time.  Dr. Tea pointed out that she is not going to peak in the first semester of her sophomore year.  Lucinda observed that she herself barely did any work in school and turned out more or less fine.  I laughed and calmed down.

*Document-Based Question, for those of you who are not, or have never been, AP History students.

Well, well

Still healthy (I think). The open house went well, and our reward (the Snork Maiden served as a student host) was to go to FLS’s tree-trimming party afterwards.

The Snork Maiden has hit a rough patch in math, and her English teacher (Dinah) was disappointed with her last paper. It sounds like she mostly has B’s right now, with a C in math. Aside from responding to her math teacher when he wrote to let us know she would be getting a “progress report” (i.e., a lack of progress report), and offering her our general support, we’re doing a pretty good job not fussing, nagging, policing homework, etc.  There’s no real obstacle that I can see to her doing better–she just has to decide to put in the effort.  My personal opinion is that she should be earning A’s in English and in Chinese, at least, but she’s not putting herself out enough to earn them right now. There’s been some distracting social stuff going on, and working on the play was very time-consuming (the D test grade in math that’s pulling down her average was a test she missed and then pushed the makeup test until after the play without doing sufficient review).  So now I get to see what a student “not working to her potential” looks like when she’s at home.  This is the lowest her grades have ever been.  And of course they’re okay–as I have told countless students for many years, a B is not a failing grade!–but I can’t help wishing she were excelling in something academic right now.  My sense is that she is not happy with the current state of her grades, though, so we’ll see what happens with that.  She did seem to be pegging away at math this weekend.

She is playing the marimba for the Nightmare before Christmas theme at the upcoming holiday concert, and the clarinet and sax for other pieces.  She’s been practicing said marimba with a portable set this weekend, as well.  That will be fun to hear and watch.


The weather has gone cold and wet. And neither the Snork Maiden nor I has gotten a real, full night’s sleep this week. There actually seem to be fewer students missing school because of illness than I would normally expect this time of year, but that could change at any moment.  I feel just on the edge of something, like one wrong move and I will be enveloped in a viral miasma.

This weekend we have an open house for prospective students, so I need to be gearing up for that. And I need to be well. In fact–though, obviously, stuff happens and you deal–it would be better not to get sick in the remaining 16 days until break. (Ack!  Is that really all it is?) Or during break, of course.  Or after it.  Could I just have a free pass for the rest of the year?

I had a sub for the one class I had on Tuesday because I was co-chaperoning a service learning event.  It was a pretty straightforward in-class assignment–they could work in pairs or small groups on the first part (15 minutes), and then do the second part on their own (25 minutes). The sub a) didn’t collect the assignment, but told the students to take it home; b) answered some of their questions about The Great Gatsby by telling them things that happen later in the book; c) told them one of her dreams, which they described to me on Wednesday in surprising (but G-rated) detail.  So I’m particularly interested in not having a sub before winter break, too.



Everyone was saying that going back after this break was surprisingly difficult.  Why so hard this year?  I don’t know. It is so dark outside.  It’s dark when we get up and dark when we get home.  A lot of the kids complained of not being able to go to sleep on Sunday night–out of sync with the school week, I guess.  And some people were getting on my nerves.  I was reminded of what Frederic, in The Pirates of Penzance, tells the pirates when he announces his intention to leave them and wage war against their kind: “Individually, I love you all with affection unspeakable, but collectively, I look upon you with a disgust that amounts to absolute detestation.”

nineteen days

lenaThree weeks to go until winter break.  It doesn’t feel like very much.  Lots to do in all four classes, plus various other things to wrap up before break, like the remaining (seven?  I think) teacher observations, submitting students’ work for the Scholastic Writing Awards, keeping the literary magazine moving along, and attending various events, including a big Open House for prospective applicants, the holiday concert (as a parent), and the winter book fair (also as a parent, actually–or we might give it a miss if the Snork Maiden isn’t into it).  I don’t like the tightly scheduled feeling I get contemplating this piece of time–in AP Lang in particular, any departure from the schedule would be problematic–but once we get rolling on Monday, I’ll probably feel better.

I am meeting with all my AP Lit students this week as they work on a paper, which is well timed after the intense Ferguson discussion we had right before the Thanksgiving break; I’ll be able to check in with them brainiacpbsmallindividually and hear what they have been thinking about since.  Thanks to those of you who read and commented on that post; it didn’t contain anything really shocking or revealing, but because I wrote about a personal conflict between two students, I decided to password it after it had been up for about 12 hours. You can email me at literatureshouldmeansomething at gmail if you would like the password.

I had a nice break, overall, with some work and some play and some lying around reading for fun, including the two titles you see on the right, both of which I’d recommend. I did some grading and some planning, wrote, exercised, dealt with some household stuff, played trivia (at a different place on Tuesday since our regular Thursday game was on holiday break–just Stubb, the Snork Maiden, a friend of hers, and me, and we won!), saw family. But I also had some episodes of poisonous worry, about money and the future and writing and school and and and and. I think I’m past them now, but it’s disconcerting when you suspect your mind is telling you that things are worse than they really are.  I talked about it with Stubb and I’m thinking that it’s that I’m still processing the really quite exposing and difficult experiences of the Committee Thing conclusion followed immediately by the Big Ferguson Discussions in school the very next day.  I am feeling more balanced at the moment, but also a bit tentative and perhaps in need of extra self-care the next few weeks.  It’s reminiscent of that period back in April when I had the sense that Morning Pages and exercise were the two things keeping me from crumbling from stress.   So I’m taking myself off to bed and setting the alarm early enough for both of those things tomorrow.

Protected: Hard times require furious dancing

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