Green's Hill-Amy Lane's Home - News

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I'm not dead yet...

First, because I like this song and love this video:

And second--

My last post was pretty damned bleak, so I thought I'd check in and tell you all that:

Seriously-- I"m doing much better. I spent a day or two sleeping and eating chocolate and doing some snuggling and some knitting, and now I've got ten weeks of summer in which to recover--and be grateful that I don't work full time and that I have a place I can go in another profession in which I don't feel helpless and impotent.

And to tell you the Squish? Is hella cute. She's especially hella cute when she sits on the clean laundry and talks to me when I'm on the potty. Hey-- I didn't say life was PERFECT-- only better.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Limping Through the Finish

Okay. I just begged my oldest son to not talk to me. The debacle of my school year is complete.

I can't even BEGIN to tell you all how awful the last two days have been.

My third period yesterday... was horrible. They tittered all the way through the final, they whispered, the tried valiantly to see what they could get away with, and then, when they were done, they disregarded the people working next to them and shouted to the people one seat over because they are rude, disrespectful, horrible people.

And then they all came, one at a time, backs bowed, tails between their legs, whimpering for a better grade.

"What can I do? What can I do? What can I do?"

Well, for starters, you can invent a time machine take it backwards to when you talked through my lecture, laughed at me for getting angry, and said mean shit behind my back, and REINVENT YOUR DNA TO BECOME HUMAN BEINGS.

One young woman was told that her final wouldn't get graded. She said, "Well, I'm gonna go! Bye, fat bitch!" and then took three steps out the door.

Her final was confetti before she took four. The class all gasped at the drama of it, and she came back for the last ten minutes to hurl insults at me and tell me she was going to bring her mother's wrath upon my head.

I only wish.

You may ask why I did nothing.

Our entire counseling staff was axed because our state legislature was smoking pot and masturbating during the insightful part of their education that explained why an educated populace is required to run a democracy. Hardly any of our old staff members are returning--a lot of them NOT by choice. And graduation was yesterday. Suffice it to say, our administration building was full of miserable people doing the best job they could in light of the fact that everything they worked for this year is about to go bye bye because you canNOT have a productive and improving school system if you have no institutional memory, and thanks governor fuckmeinator, our institutional memory has just been lobotomized for the umpteenth fucking time.

These people had no room in their lives for a girl who would lie about the sky being blue and who at this moment is probably forging ahead in her chosen career in either the housekeeping or adult film industries.

Besides, did I mention she was one of twenty people hellbent on illustrating that you need a consensus of decent people before fuckwads are shamed into not being fuckwads?

No. They were being complete fuckers, and when a student from another class came up to me in tears saying, "They're so awful. You are such a better teacher than to deserve this and I'm so ashamed that this is my peergroup," (this is verbatim) all I could say was, "I don't know what to tell you, sweetheart. She's a douchebitch--she'll get hers."

That made the girl laugh (because a student who loved me that much would have to have a sense of humor like that) and we both survived the next ten minutes with a little darker vision of humanity, it is true.

And then there was graduation.

Now, I'm always running on the thin edge of on time-- don't get me wrong. I do understand about being 'a little late for comfort'. However, if your child is graduating, and this is important to you, don't you think it would be a good idea to arrive a little early? How about on time? How about not AN HOUR LATE.

And I'm not talking one or two random families.

I'm talking some fucktard decided it would be a great idea to counterfeit about a thousand extra graduation tickets, and it was standing room only with an inner city population. So, forty-five minutes into the ceremony, about ten minutes before they started to read names, there are a gazunga people coming into the gate, NO ROOM in either side of the stands, and the security police tell someone (not sure who) we should probably close the gates. Well, I was dishing out programs, and I was between the gazunga people and the fucking gates, and at this point, the cops who made that wonderful statement and instigated that decision just fucking bail.

I'll not forget the woman shrieking in my face about how that was her baby gonna graduate on that stage and I couldn't keep her from seeing her baby, goddammit!

And what I really wanted to ask her is, if her baby was so goddamned important to her, why in the fuck couldn't she get there on time? Fucking seriously! But in the meantime, I had to face down a whole lot of older generation gang members (ain't makin' this shit up) and obviously chemically altered barely functional adults (we sweartagod let one guy out of the gates to go get a hit of crack. He said it was to get a sweater for his kid-- the man was twitching when he left and hyper-controlled when he got back--we're pretty goddamned sure it was crack.)

They eventually opened the gates (and, I guess, hoped this didn't turn into a soccer game in the UK. I'm grateful it didn't, and I'm REALLY glad we managed to corral all but one air horn.) That was awesome. I got the fuck out of everybody's way.

Now don't get me wrong-it wasn't all bad. I saw some old students whom I love (*waves to Eric* Still wants to have hearts to hearts about organizing my writing agenda... can't seem to keep it all straight! Of course, the DSP people are probably counting on that!) and got in lots of hugs.

Also had a lot of people demand more programs than they needed, in spite of the fact that we told them there might not be enough.

It was hard. I limped home (literally-- my shoes blew out yesterday so my whole plantar's thing was acting up) and cried for an hour. I used to love graduation-- truly love it--and the acute disappointment at how painful the whole day was left a big gaping empty place in my chest. (Props to mate, btw, who rubbed my foot as I cried.)

I was better this morning, and my second period actually made me feel better about people in general. Then a cadre of students who wanted to improve their grades came into my room and totally cleaned it up--I mean, I was so impressed. It looked so good when they were done. They were grateful for the extra credit, and generally, we had a good time.

So that was great--and I walked into the staff potluck with a lifted heart.

And realized that I'd had my head in the sand for a couple of months. It's one thing to hear about layoffs and not want to get caught up in the rumor mill about layoffs and to pray that your friends don't get laid off.

Its another to realize that none of that works, and your friends are laid off, and the teachers you'd finally gotten accustomed to and started to like and respect and really enjoy working with were not going to be there next year.

I got home exhausted and void. I can't even imagine how they got home.

And as I sit here and write this, I just can't help this sort of pathetic anger. What do you want to bet that if our STAR test scores go down, they're going to blame us and tell us that we're doing a shitty job? What do you want to bet that if they go up--and they might, because some staff members with a heartier disposition than I have been sacrificing sleep and life force and blood to make it happen--then everybody in the state will say, "Aha! having no personal life and a heart attack at forty-five is the way to go! That's what EVERY teacher in America should do!"

I mean, I've opted out of that route, haven't I? I've opted to go somewhere else to get my strokes--I have no interest in martyrdom, and I figured what I couldn't take care of in my prep hour was simply not going to get done. But then, the people who have totally given themselves to the job just got screwed, and now I'm angry for THEM. How dare the world treat these people this way?

I plan to write a lot this summer. I plan to research some politics. I want to know who to name my bad guys after.

But tomorrow, I plan to sleep in, and spend a lot of time knitting with Squish on my lap. It's alls I gots.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Phone book

hee hee hee... Okay. So I'm easily entertained. But "Phonebook" is now available at Dreamspinner. The reason I'm so entertained is that, in spite of being the worst edited blog on the web, that title up top is NOT a typo. It seems that the only way they could get the damned thing to post is by putting a space in the title, and, for some reason, that makes me giggle. It's like our smart machines outsmarted us, and for someone as TOTALLY right brained as moi? That's frickin' hysterical.

In other news... Well, I linked my blog with my Goodreads feed, and now I'm wondering if that's such a splendid idea. I mean, it's okay with all of you-- you know I say things like 'fuck' and 'fuckity bugger fuck' and 'vainglorious prickweenie' but I'm not sure if the rest of the world needs to. But then, I guess if they don't like me swearing, they're not gonna be so thrilled about my books, so maybe this is a good way to break folks into the awful truth easy. (We all remember Mate's reaction to the book on tape, right? "Jesus, Amy, don't you know any other words? I thought you were an English Major!")

And speaking of Mate... Mate cleaned the living room this weekend. (Ah, he is a good mate, and I cherish him in many ways.) Anyway, Squish got home today and took a puzzled look around the living room. "Mom, what happened?"

"Daddy cleaned the living room."

Suddenly she starts running in circles and laughing. "Look at me! I can run because there's no things in the way!" (And for anyone who doubts my house is usually a pit, that right there should speak for itself.)

And, back at school... Okay. I've bitched about my students this school year like you can't believe. (Okay. You've been reading along--maybe you can believe it.) And I still maintain that as a whole, I've yet to meet a more scattered, disrespectful, irritating lot of kids. But that doesn't mean there aren't some truly awesome human beings in that group-- and some very funny moments today, the last day before finals.

Moment first: A kid who has become one of my favorite students came running in a little late today.

"Ms. Lane, here's Season Two of Supernatural. Do you have Season Three?"

"Another student is bringing it in 4th period."

"Good. I'll wait."

"Sweetie, it's second period."

"Yeah--do you have your iPod--I've already done my cheat sheet and written my rough draft. I want to watch the eps on your iPod."

"Uhm, but don't you have to do somewhere for second and third period?"

"Why? I already cut first to watch the last disc on Season Two. My day's shot!"

And sure enough, not only did the kid huddle in the back of the room for third period, hunched over my iPod like a snarling dog (which is probably as safe as an iPod has ever been in my room) he managed to talk my fourth period into an insurrection, and while they were supposed to be writing THEIR cheat sheets, there we were, watching Jus In Bello.

But the funniest part of this bizarre little addiction I've managed to share?

Well, Ray left to go suck the juice out of my iPod, and I turned to the awesome kid sitting next to me, waiting to give his book report, and said, "I'm sorry, Carlos-- go ahead and give your report now that he's occupied."

And he said, "Sure, Ms. Lane-- but first, I've got a question."


"Well, I've been taping episodes from TNT and they only go to the end of Season 4. What happens after that? Do they live after the devil gets loose? Don't give me the whole thing--I just need to know if there's a complete season 5."

*sigh* You know? I should hang my head in shame--and for about thirty seconds I thought about it. But then I started listing the concepts I've used my boys to teach--and this isn't all of them, either:

One sentence summaries (Okay, that's a softball-- but they did a better job with the tv show than they did with the Bradbury story.)
Tragic Hero archetype
American Romantic hero archetype
Romantic hero archetype
Gothic hero archetype
The entire CONCEPT of a 'type' that is NOT a stereotype!
American Gothic Literature, including William Faulkner and Shirley Jackson
American Romanticism, including: William Cullen Bryant, Washington Irving, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allen Poe.
Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman
Importance of setting
Joseph Campbell's hero's journey
Five methods of characterization
and the list goes on.

So, yeah. I'd rather they remembered "The Raven". But at least now they can look at the world and the media around them and try to find the NEXT Raven, because good writing is good writing, no matter what the genre or medium, and isn't our job to not only teach kids skills but to teach them to apply those skills someplace outside the classroom?

Uhm, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sleepy Saturdays...

Sort of.

First of all, thank you, everybody, for the hugs and good wishes. I was trying to be very grown-up about the whole thing--turns out, I was just too tired to recognize that we're all little kids, even when we're forty-two. Anyway, that's another blogpost, today's will be quick and simple and hit on some of the stuff I glossed over on Thursday, yes?

* Fucked up Tuesday. Tuesdays are pretty skeery 'round here anyway. Both girls have dance lessons--same studio, but different locations, on opposite ends of town. Squishie's dance lessons are off in 'Levee Oaks'--seriously. Deacon and Crick's hometown is based on Rio Linda, and I got the idea for Crick's walk up and down the dusty roads by the levee from taking Squish to dance. Anyway, it's along drive and a long day, and then, this last Tuesday? The fates conspired to just jack it up beyond all comprehension.

For starters, when I pulled up to collect Zoomboy from his usual after school hangout (his best friend Sam's house, which is 1/2 a block from school) there was a commotion directly across the street. An adult (a school official) was tending to a boy, lying on his back, his head pillowed on his backpack. There was another boy, around six years old, with a bloody nose and a bloody ankle, freaking out on the lawn nearby, and a hysterical girl on the phone to her father screaming, "I told them it was a bad idea, I told them it was a bad idea!" pacing behind him.

It turns out, these two bananas thought it would be a SMASHING idea to zoom down the hill with the six year old on the crotch-bar of the twelve-year-old's bike. Sure enough, they went eggs over toaster, and chaos ensued-- the kid on the ground had what looked to be a mild concussion and would probably need stitches. The kid on the grass needed someone to baby a deep scrape and to blow his bloody nose with due gentleness.

Anyway, as I pulled up, I thought, "Oh shit. Oh shit--this needs another adult--someone has to calm that heifer down." And I was right. First I calmed the little boy down, then I got the girl to cough up her cell phone and gave her dad succinct directions to their location, and then someone suggested towels for the little boy's bloody ankle and to lay him down, so I called across the street (to Sam's mom) and Sam's mom brought us some old towels and we tried to keep things calm until the ambulance got there.

It did. Ambulance got there, girl FINALLY stopped screaming (I lost patience with that crap--the boys were going to be fine, and no good ever came from shrieking "I TOLD YOU SO" at an accident scene) and I got to get in my car and pull away-- a half an hour later.

And then I had to go pick up T, who had stayed late for tutoring in Geometry.

And then I had to take the famdamily through McDonalds. Because it was Tuesday, and that's what we do on Tuesday.

And then I had to go back through drivethru because they fucked up my order the first time around.

And the second time around took 1/2 an hour.

So there were were, in the middle of our second round through drivethru, and I've got my music up full blast so I don't kill something, and I'm taking tentative, life-affirming sips from my extra large, diet violating Caramel Frappe. This is when Big T says, "You know, I could have gone to tutoring at lunch today, but I didn't, because I really wanted to visit my teacher face to face. I'm glad I did that."

I looked back at him, and then Chicken (who was sitting next to me) looked back at him, and then I sucked down a quarter of my Caramel Frappe in one big inhale and then Chicken took it from me and wiped out another quarter.

T took one look at us, glaring at him, and said, "What? What? I don't understand why this is upsetting you."

Grumbling to ourselves, we settled in for the rest of the fifteen minutes of drivethru hell.

When I got home, the Caramel Frappe had given me the runs. We got to dance class with barely 1/2 an hour left in her lessons, and I called it a win.

* 'Phonebook'. In spite of the fact that it's out on the second of June, (and Truth in the Dark is out on the 16th) "Phonebook", my short story sequel to "Shirt", in the Curious anthology, is not up on the website. Why?

It appears that the banner on the book page will not take the words 'ebook' or 'paperback'-- now, I know I've told you this before, but I think it bears repeating, because the book is still not up--and I KNOW they've been working on it. I think it's just funny how sometimes the WEIRDEST shit can just totally get in your way.

* I have seven active pairs of socks on the needles. I think this indicates some stress. Just a guess.

* The cat is still alive. My big hope is that he lives until my next royalty check, so we can stop calling him that.

* My final is almost done. I think it's safe to say I'm not a total slacker, nor a total failure.

* I'm actually sort of liking my kids right now. Let's see how much I like them on the last day of school... but right now, even the total bananas make me happy. Could be because I was absolute toast on Friday and let them watch a funny episode of Supernatural while they worked on their stuff. That made everybody happy. Including me.

And happy is where I'm going to leave it. Wait-- I've got one more story.

See, the title of the post is 'Sleepy Saturdays... sort of', and the reason it's sort of is because we had gymnastics practice this morning, and then we took the kids to sign up for soccer in the afternoon. So, we were in line at soccer sign ups, when one of the ladies (mom of one of Bryar's longtime friends) and I start talking--and I'm so excited to talk to Lily's mom, I can't even begin to tell you. So she asks me how the writing is going, and I tell her, "Pretty good, actually." I mention that I've got two novellas and a short story out in June and I'm really excited and the woman in front of us turns around and goes, "Wow. You publish?"

It occurred to me then. I mean, I'm going to be ripping my nails out in June. I'm going to be a big, fuzzy yarn-puppy of stress, just hoping Truth in the Dark and Litha's Constant Whim don't suck! Not one story, but THREE! What if I fuck this up beyond complete and total redemption? What if I really, truly do suck?

But here I am, anticipating this because I know myself, and this woman, who had sent in query after query to agents, was all excited for me. And, hullo. I guess I'm sort of, kind of, maybe a little, successful at this bizarre little hobby, aren't I?


But that's not going to stop me from saying it. Anyone want to join in?

Holy Goddess, Merciful God, LET THEM NOT SUCK!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

So much to blog about, so little brain pan...

Honestly, at about seven o'clock this evening, I was thinking about blogging, and I was all for it! I had a lot to talk about-- I mean, here's a partial list:

* Zoomboy's Open House

* What Squish yelled at her sister yesterday ("Stop saying 'douchebag!")

* A few students I'm going to sincerely miss at the end of the year

* The fact that Zoomboy's playdate after school today blew chunks all over the school courtyard (which was an improvement over Sam's sister's friend, who blew chunks all over her classroom.)

* Chicken's belated but welcome infatuation with dancing ("I'm smiling sometimes this year!")

* The fact that I don't have time to write my damned final (I'll make time!)

* The bizarre question Big T asked me at five-oh-crotch-o-slutty-dawn a.m. ("Mom, do you think Gollum represents the duality of man?")

* This completely awesome link that Chris sent me.

* My completely fucked Tuesday (which still gets it's own blogpost.)

* The way all the teachers in the cafeteria knew Kewyn and the particular inflection with which they said his name (Mate said it didn't bode well.)

* The way Squish sat down to the manipulative shape puzzle they had laid out as part of the open house game-playing extravaganza and just kicked that puppy's ass--in spite of the fact that she will not attend Kindergarten for another year!

* The fact that my story "Phonebook" had to be taken from the 'Upcoming Releases' page of the Dreamspinner Press site because the banner at the top of the page is structured to remove the words 'paperback' or 'ebook' from titles, and according to the site, the title of the story was simply, "Phon". (I am not shitting you--this is absolutely and hysterically true.)

* A poem I had completely composed as I sat on the potty about "Beware that woman, she's a writer!" (It was very Maya Angelou--not filky at all, you would have been proud!)

* The joke that Mate and Zoomboy accidentally told each other on the way home about clocks. (Dad, what's that other hand on the clock? That's the second hand, son. No, it's not the second hand, it's the third hand, and you didn't tell me what it does!")

* And the way Squish bosses me around with the ipod in the mornings. (Not that song, the other one. That one's too sad. That one's too loud. That one's just right. Now play it again. And again. Now California Girls! And now Nightmare Before Christmas! Again!)

So, basically a very full blog post, and I was looking forward to it.

And then, I got a phone call I've been expecting but not in a good way, and I find I'm just too tired to do these things justice. My grandfather passed away this morning, and we've been waiting for it, and he hung on way longer than he should have (because the guy survived four plane crashes and was on his second brain tumor-- I think he was surprised that he'd be done in as early as the age of 92) but still. Still. The guy was my hero, and he was larger than life, and I'm not ready to write that blogpost either, but all in all?

I'm tired. It's been a VERY full week, and I'm ready to be done with words for a while.

Good night all.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Truth in the Dark

Is right here, and it's out on June 16th.

I have always loved fairy tales, and I am so damned proud of this story. Damn. Just. Just Damn.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Emotional Punctuation

I used to think that punctuation was THE most boring part of writing. A comma? Who cared. A period? The difference was? Of course, then I put out three books with a punctuation glitch, and suddenly, punctuation was no longer boring. Suddenly it was a big, scaly, venomous monkey on my back who kept stuffing poo down my shirt.

Fucking punctuation!

I got some help with that monkey--some of you (Goddess bless you) jumped on that fucker, gave him a bath, taught him some manners, and while he still rode me, he'd stopped stuffing poo down my shirt, and I was profoundly grateful. (I still am, and I'll still need your help, btw, when I'm done with the sixth Jack and Teague, so I can edit the whole shebang and maybe get that puppy out in the fall.)

And I thought that was it. The monkey sits on my back, chatters, stops flinging poo, and, hey! Life is good!

Well, I got a request to do a second edit on Truth in the Dark last night, and it suddenly dawned on me.

It's not enough that the monkey stop flinging poo! I need to put a collar on that fucker and make him my bitch! Imagine my surprise!

See, the thing was, I had too many EM dashes. Now, you may scoff at that--I'm sure I did. (I know that at some point in time, I scoffed at the idea that you could have too many EM dashes. I don't remember it now that this second monkey arrived in my inbox, but I know that there was.) I mean, my dialog is punctuated correctly, right? Isn't that a step up? No comma splice errors--or at least they've been minimized, right? I mean, with the exception of some eccentric dialog and sentence constructions that were probably a CMS nightmare but that I ain't changin', I'm pretty sure that as long as it's TECHNICALLY correct, simply using a punctuation mark when it's out of fashion isn't going to get me a big ol' smackdown come review time, is it?

And this is when I realized how crafty an editor has to be. Because mine sure has it down.

First, she massaged my tight ego: "All of those EM dashes break up your lovely flowing text so badly."

Oh. Really? My text is lovely? Well, you know. If my text is purty, well, maybe I could take care of some of those EM dashes for you. I mean, you know. It ain't no big. EM dash? I don't need no stinkin' EM dash. I'll take off some of the rough edges if I've got purty prose, wouldn't anyone?

Second, she uses an editing program with a visual. Sure enough, this second go-round she'd highlighted every EM dash on the page.

I think my record thus far has been twelve.

Fucking monkey. That asshole's been saving poo in his back pockets, and I think he just took another dump on my head.

*sniffle* Excuse me, y'all. *whimper* I gotta go put a collar on that fucker and make him my bitch! *whine*


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Off to see the Wizard...

Actually, literally.

Big T's high school put on a lovely production of 'The Wizard of Oz'. T's film club had been filming a documentary of the rehearsals, and so he REALLY wanted his family to see the play, so we did. I was going to tell you that the Wicked Witch stole the show, but then I thought that the Cowardly Lion got in some good shots and then I remembered the way Squishie's face lit up when Dorothy launched into her first song, and then I decided that there's a lot of talent at that school and leave it at that. (The Wicked Witch... yup. She definitely stole the show.)

Anyway, Big T got tickets for me and the two short people and himself... and the girl who is not a girlfriend but is just a friend.

Then he promptly ditched mom and the short people for the girl who is not a girlfriend but just a friend, and they seemed to have a very good time.

They adore each other. I don't know if she likes him 'that' way, but she lights up when she sees him, and that's enough for me. I just wish he could take chivalry lessons somewhere, because little things, like "Mom, can we wait with Heather until her dad comes to pick her up," would just totally up him in the class-o-meter, you know?

Saw Robin Hood last night--and was really disappointed. The cast was stunning, and the script wasn't bad, but the whole movie was like the bastard love child of Knight's Tale, Gladiator, and Saving Private Ryan. No focus at all--went from epic movie to personal movie and never the twain shall meet. Man, I LOVE Robin Hood, and wasn't that thrilled with the Kevin Costner film, but I watched it again and again and again. I'm not sure I'll see this one again, in spite of the fact that William Hurt was magnificent and Russell Crowe, was, of course, buckets of awesome.

But that's okay, really-- Mate and I got a date! (Although I did drop a stitch in my sock early on and was unable to knit on it through 3/4 of a bad movie... I'd forgotten what solace knitting offers during bad movies. Next time, I WILL have a hat at the ready!)

And really? That's all. I'm having some writing shizophrenia... I've loved doing the DSP short projects--could probably do them forever, but I'm feeling the urge to commit to something longer. As I've said before, sometimes you knit socks and hats, and sometimes you commit to a sweater. I'm feeling the drive to write me another sweat-her. I just got a very nice e-mail from someone who asked me if I was going to write a Bitter Moon III. The answer is probably not--but I do have post Little Goddess plans. I also have DSP plans--I love them all. I just hope fans can follow me from genre to genre--so far so good, right?

And as for work?

I've got a plan, folks. I'm going to write a Great Gatsby personality test--and then give it to my third period. When they get all excited about being Myrtle or Tom or Daisy, I'm going to point out that everybody in the book really sucked as a person. Maybe they should strive a little higher before thinking they've hit the big time.

*yawn* And that's about it. That and the short people are making me batshit--but they've been whining at me all day, and I have no desire to do the same to you. Suffice it to say that the little one is doing a fabulous impression at being raised by wombats, and leave it at that!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This time, it's just the picture...

I am SO in love.

And this takes some time to load, but that'll give you time to find something to bite, So you don't choke on your tongues!

(One of my students showed me how to find this site. I l-o-v-e him!)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A redemptive epiphany

Okay-- see, the thing is, I've got a meeting with my boss tomorrow. Now the last time I had one of these, it threw me into a week long depression. I was told that our demographic completely changed, and yet our falling test scores were still all my fault. I was told that I needed to change the way that I taught for the simple goal of improving the way our kids put pencils on paper. I was told that all of the problems in my classroom were caused by me, and I had to be a better facilitator to make them go away.

I gave up. I had one too many days of saying, "Yes. This IS all my fault. If I were a better person, gave better directions, had curriculum more tailored to the test, I WOULDN'T hate my job quite so much." So, given that I already sucked as a person and an educator, I said fuck it, and started referring kids like there was no tomorrow and teaching the old-fashioned way that probably doesn't really work because the test scores were falling and it was all my goddamned fucking fault.

I gave them questions, made them sit down, shut up, read the fucking book (or, once they did the first two, i read it to them) and we ANSWERED THE FUCKING QUESTIONS. I referred anybody who got in my way. I'm still referring anybody who gets in my way. I don't even care if the referrals go through, as long as the little fuckers are THE HELL OUT OF MY ROOM when they're not in the mood to sit down and shut up. I mean screw it-- I suck as a teacher and I can't do my job anyway, right?

After a week of me being in a bitchy-assed mood, an odd thing happened today. They started asking questions. They started agreeing that, yes, Tom Buchanan was a class-A prick-asshole-fuckhead, and yes, Daisy Buchanan was a douchebag-bitch-twunt, and that Gatsby got a raw deal and the end of this book is REALLY fucked up.

In short?

They got it.

Oddly enough, all they had to do to get it was to sit down and shut the fuck up.

This leads me to a rather redemptive epiphany.

I don't suck as a teacher. It's not all my fault. And you know what? It really IS the student's responsibility to walk into my classroom and learn. Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all. I've always believed that it all came down to the literature--the literature would shine through, no matter how badly I bollixed the delivery.

Seems I was right.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Price of My Soul

Okay, folks, I've been promising Jack and Teague this summer, and I just came to the realization that even though I will probably have the final installment done by July, I won't be able to get the whole thing out until September, at the earliest, and this depresses me. However, since the reasons for this are twofold and unavoidable, I thought I'd explain them to you, and maybe get your forgiveness.

A. We can't afford it. You've heard this before. It's the truth.

B. Dreamspinner made me an offer I couldn't refuse. No, no, they're not offing students for me (I didn't ask... it seemed in bad taste) but they have offered me a cover to write to (not the Beauty and the Beast one... this one's sort of a surprise) and, well, I've discovered the price of my soul. It's not riches, or a book contract (I think I've proven that), no. In fact, color me surprised because I never would have guessed that the price of my soul is cover art.

Wow. That's so much cooler than money, fame, or riches, you know? Cover art. It's almost like the sin is redemption by it's very nature. So, I'm going to focus on the cover art temptation, and THEN Jack and Teague. And then Quickening. And then Living Promises. (OKay, maybe Living Promises before Quickening... I'm flip-flopping.)

And then... omg, people, the plotbunnies abound...

And in other news...

Okay, I wasn't going to talk about this much, and then I found myself doing a hysterical emo-dump on a kid who pissed me off in third period, and it occurred to me: emotional stoicism and repression is awesome for Dean Winchester, but I don't do it well. Never have. So, since many of us blog to work out our emotions, or for therapy, I'm going to give myself a little of that and talk about this. I'll feel better, I'm pretty sure, but I hope you all have your teddy bears with you--you may need them.

So, yesterday, on Mother's Day, after I slept in and got my presents (yay!) I had a sort of depressing task to do. Most of you know my real mom does not function as an adult-- too much 'self-medication' (via street drugs) in the '70's, and she can't hold a driver's license or a job. She stays in an adult care home, and while she has a good life, and friends, it's not what you'd call 'regular.' She is, in fact, dependent on my aunts and uncle and myself for ties to the outside world. I used to be able to include my grandma and grandpa in this list, but, well... old age (which had missed them completely for a few years, like a kid shooting a squirt gun at a hot air balloon) actually kicked them in the teeth hard these last few years. Grandma is mostly blind, and grandpa is...

Well, he's dying.

My Auntie (one of my favorite Aunties) called me up on Thursday to tell me that his living situation was now officially a hospice situation, and to suggest I might want to visit. so that's what I did on Mother's Day. Mate took the kids to his mom and grandma's, and then to my dad and stepmom's, and I made the interminable trip from Citrus Heights to downtown Sac, and back, and then back again. I picked my mom up, took her to visit her mother and then her dying father, and then took her home again. Then I came home, went to the bathroom, and drove up to Loomis to have dinner with my parents.

I was exhausted.

There was no real cure for the exhaustion-- too much driving, too much emotional repression, not enough relaxation. I thought I could deal, even though waking up this morning was like swimming up through cement.

And then my third period happened. And the fiftieth time I asked this kid (a terminally charming kid who thinks that's going to get him out of shit) to be quiet, he said, "Tell us about your Mother's Day, Ms. Lane."

And so I did.

And now I'm hella embarrassed about it. Because it is what it is, and I should be beyond the hysterical emo-dump by now.

I guess the thing that really got me, though, was my T-shirt. It says, "I care about this Alot," and has a kid clutching an 'Alot'. (An Alot is a mythical beast that occurs when people spell 'a lot' as one word.) Anyway, I love my T-shirt--it was a Mother's Day gift, and I get a big kick out of it, and, well my students didn't get it.

But my Grandpa, who can barely hear, and who doesn't remember my last two kids and doesn't remember how old my oldest two are, and is slowly drowning in his own lung-fluid, saw me walk in the door and his eyes fixed on my T-shirt. This is the man who taught me to play Scrabble. This is the guy who told me I was probably really bright when I was a little kid, and who let me have a little faith in myself, even if it was because I was a creative pain in the ass like my aunts and uncle. This is the guy I've worshipped as a war hero and a spy and a photographer and a thousand other things that I'll probably blog about later (count on it) and he took one look at that T-shirt and split the biggest grin.

Because he totally got it.

I really shouldn't have worn it today. In fact, I probably should have called in sick, given my classes a movie, and slept in. Live and learn, I guess. I'll figure out what I've learned over the summer.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

This Morning for Mother's Day, I got...

* A chance to sleep in.

* A scroll with a vase of flowers made of handprints from a six year old with REALLY BIG hands!

* Cookies for breakfast!

* A four year old who wanted to give me a pretty pretty vase of flowers.

* A card with a magnetic 'mood indicator'--one that had a whole lot of 'order out' options.

* An 'I love you Alot' T-shirt.

* iTunes

* A card from Mate that made me cry.

* A son with lots of prom stories, including how much he HATES hip-hop music, but danced to it anyways.

* A feeling that I wouldn't trade all of this--destroyed kitchen and science experiment bathroom, crapmobile and sick animals and all-- for anything in the world.

Friday, May 7, 2010

That dragon is a sneaky bastard...

So, I've been working this month on a WIP that wasn't dragon ridden. I thought I'd get a jump on that fucker, you see, and work steadily on something I liked but didn't grab me by the throat. But... but... I couldn't figure out why it didn't grab me by the throat? What was I doing wrong? Should I keep working on it? Should I go on to something I liked a little better? It had a lot of funny parts... is it that I just can't write humor without the painful bloody part? What was wrong?

I worried this WIP, I wiggled parts of it like a sore tooth. I prodded the parts that didn't work. I thought carefully about my ending... I... I... *CRAFTED*. I crafted this sucker... I dwelled on it... I... I...

I stayed up three nights running to get to the end, go back to the middle, and then come back and re-edit the end. Twice.

And as I sent that puppy off to some beta readers--and then sent off the second re-edited version with the better ending because (as the editors at DSP know very well) I can't just SEND something off for corrections without trying to fix it before they find the ugly parts, and then, as I was sitting in the silence of my keyboard and a WIP off for beta reading, I heard it.

My dragon was LAUGHING at me.

Thought you could pull one off on me, did you? Thought you could write without me? Thought you could pick a WIP that didn't have my attention and just pick at it and try to have a life and try to clean the kitchen and try not to obsess about not getting your shit done? Yeah? Are you relaxing? Is your kitchen clean? Noooo... and to make matters even better, you haven't just been WRITING, which is what you do when you give me full reign, you've been CRAFTING. You know who crafts? You know who natters and picks and lathes and sands away at a story like that? Uh-huh, you know.
AN ARTIST. AN ARTIST crafts like that. You know what an artist has that the rest of the world has starved to death, don't you?

You all know the answer to this. I know you do.


Shit. He wasn't sleeping. He wasn't bored. He was waging a sneak attack on my subconscious.

Fucking dragon.

And I should let all you know that this is now my favorite song.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Big T and the prom

Okay-- Big T, is, after all, going to the prom.

This is big news. Why? Because some bizarre y-chromosome thing kicked into place during this whole experience, and it was a near thing.

Want proof?

Moment the first: The psyche out. Big T has an Object Of Affection-- we'll call her Ooa. Anyway, T wanted to ask Ooa to the prom, but wasn't sure if she was receptive, so he simply brought it up in conversation.

Big T--"So, I was thinking about prom. Are you going to prom?"

Ooa-- "I don't know yet, why?"

Big T-- "Well, I was thinking about going to Iron Man II--I think it's the same night."

Yes. Yes. You all read that right. Everyone with two x chromosomes is losing her nut. Hell--every man who ever made it out on a date is going crazy. We all know what he should said then, right? The answer is obvious--she left it wide open! Did he walk through that door?


Moment the second: He asked her on the internet. My Space or some shit like that.

As his mother, the romance writer? A little part of me died that day, and that's all I've got for you. I'm shaking my head.

Moment the third: He almost had a coronary getting measured for his tux. Granted, I did too, but that's because I saw the bill. He had one because a pretty girl who stood 5'5" at the most had to squash her body up against his back to measure his shoulders. I've never seen anyone look more like he was going to choke on his own tongue in my life. Then that pretty girl and his mother ganged up on him and told him to please (for the love of God!) get the larger tux pants. They're supposed to drape. Really. Trust us on this.

So there you go-- proof that this whole prom thing is as rough on the boys as it is on the girls, but at last, we had some triumph.

"Did you finally ask her? Did she say yes?"

"She said she was already going with friends. She asked me if I wanted to come with them."

sssqqquuuuueeeeeeeeeee! huzzah! There's hope! I MIGHT be a grandmother some time in the (far far far distant) future, and that kid MAY move out of the house.

I'm so happy. And I don't even have to buy a dress.

All right...

I want to know WHICH inspired member of the knitting community was responsible for the glorious works of art found on THIS EPISODE OF MYTHBUSTERS!

Whoever it was?


Monday, May 3, 2010

We've changed the cat's name to...

Royalty Check. Because that's the only reason he's alive.

Yup, poor old Dennis Quaid-- there he was, under the surgeon's knife to have one little bittie tooth removed. Five hours later, he's eight teeth down, and EXTREMELY confused. And my first major royalty check for DSP is toast. And we still have a kid to send to prom. Oi! Man--all I can tell you is that this cat had better live for FRICKEN EVER. That's all I'm sayin'.

That, and I was thinking about having a T-shirt made for big T that said 'Gay Sex Funded My Senior Year'. Only two things stopped me.

A. The boy is straight, and that would do uncomfortable things for his social life.

B. We couldn't afford the T-shirt, we were too busy renting his tux and saving the goddamned cat.

But that doesn't mean that T-shirts were not made! It seems that Chris liked the idea of the T-shirt as we were chatting, but she liked a slogan about plot bunnies better... something like, say, "The plot bunnies in my head are all gay--but they're breeding anyway!" (Made me snort soda out my nose!) And, well, I suggested to Lynn and Elizabeth that if we could put a stock photo on that puppy (Lynn was the one who suggested a hottie in bunny ears) it would make an AWESOME T-shirt to wear to writing conventions and such. And Elizabeth got to work tooling through stock photos and... well...

This Happened.

I want one... unfortunately I have to wait until the next royalty check!

Oh yeah...

And this happened and that was pretty cool too. Kassa seems to like the anthology--I'm glad! ESPECIALLY since I have sequels to two of the short stories in it coming out this summer.

And other than that? I stayed home today. Zoomboy was sick, and I just didn't feel capable of facing the world without another day off. Well, yeah, I spent all day on the computer, why do you ask?

But I AM working on something--I've got this scarf going for my TA-- I LIKE it! It's a basic Roman Road pattern in this lovely Mountain Color twist-spun yarn... mmmmmm.... total fibergasm... and the colors are hhhhhaaaawwwwttttt... (I like my yarn colors like I like my men... hhhhhaaaaawwwtttt... mmmmm....)

And, well, I blew off two hours of writing time to work on it. Because I'm just wild and crazy that way, right?

*yawn* Yeah, absolutely, Amy--you're a wild woman... now go to sleep so you can wake up and do it all again... *yawn*

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Great skittering kitties!

Mate and I have been doing workout tapes in the morning, so I only walk a couple of times a week. Tonight was the first truly warm night of the year-- in fact, the cold has been really weird.

Anyway, it was warm tonight, and the kitteh cats were all partying hard. I must have seen a dozen of them skitter across streets and down sidewalks, under bushes and behind trees. They were all very secretive--I think there must have been some secret cat meeting on the first of May.

I heard parties, and people talking out on their lawns and porches. I heard open garages and pool tables and music outside--I heard summer, sneaking in on the first of May, after a week that saw the low seventies at the most.

It was really wonderful.

And then it hit me: I only have four weeks left of school.

HOLY CATS--can that be right? Yes-- it is right! Thanks to our esteemed political leaders and their need to tour their nether-orifices personally, we didn't have enough money to fund a complete school year this year, so we just cut off that last week. Yeah, I know-- who gets anything done the first week of June anyway? So, there's finals, moved up a week, and graduation, not even on FRIDAY, but on WEDNESDAY this time to accommodate the facility use and, well...

I think Great Gatsby is going to get the holy shaft this year. I think if anyone wants to whine about it, I can always suggest a good old fashioned enema, as opposed to the head-up-the-arse variety, too!

Anyway, I don't have much more... (Okay, I do have some writing news that has me jumping up and down and screaming "Hoo-yah" but I'll share that when it's ready. Right now, I'm just gonna give a quiet "Hoo-Yah!" and be done with it:-)

I have cranky kids and a serendipitous fall of fresh blackberries and whipped cream for dessert. You know, cranky kids or not, I thank that deserves a "Hoo-Yah!" too!