Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What the Heart Did

The heart of the house felt cold and began to hate the black thing that crouched in the corner. It couldn't stop thinking about PLAN B and worrying that whatever B was might be painful. The house wasn't afraid of pain: it had seen it and felt it and weathered it for many years, but it would have preferred to avoid it, as most people would.
The man did nothing more to the house for many days and then he left one rainy afternoon, after the house had stood empty and waiting all day for the people to return with their noise and bustle, their games and pages and quietly shrieking children. And the man returned with more boxes and more clamor. He quietly unpacked these boxes and laid out colored squares on the floor. These squares made a clinking noise and were even more cold and heavy on the house's gleaming floor.
And then, the next day, the man did something very painful indeed. He cut the house. He cut its gleaming floor, cut a square right out of it. And the heavy black thing stood in the corner and watched. The house thought it may have voiced an evil chuckle, but this was merely a thought and not a very certain one.
The man took a large white bucket to the sink and filled it with water to make a paste. He laid the paste on the house's shorn exposed floor. It tickled and hurt, like touching a scabless wound. The house shrank from the man's touch despite feeling some interest in the way the man smoothed the paste. The man looked like a painter who had once stood in that very room, looking out the window and making long red strokes on a stretched white canvas. The man seemed to know what he was doing.
Then the man sat back on his heels and pondered the colored squares, touching them one at a time, his cracked hands as gentle as when he touched the woman's cheek. He arranged them and moved them, cocking his head and touching them again. He picked up one square and pressed it into the paste. Then he began to work quickly, fitting the squares together like the baby fit together his puzzles. He pressed each cold square into the gray paste and it became very heavy.
The man worked for hours, not even stopping when the woman and the children sat down at the table and put food in their mouths. They chewed mostly silently, looking up now and then to watch the man work.
Finally, he stood and wiped his hands on his patched pants. He washed them, scrubbing off the paste and then sat down to eat food that had grown cold.
The house shifted under the heavy new floor, shivering under its cold weight and kept a close eye on the dark thing in the corner. It waited for the man to do something else.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What the rain does

Before I say anything else, I want to say this with great finality: I love the rain, storms especially. I love to ride in a car (not drive) when its raining and hear the rain pound on the roof and watch it roll down the windows. I love to sit on my couch in the living room and read and drink something either warm or soporific and hear it pattering on the window. And sometimes I look up and watch it as it falls. I love to lie in bed in the dark and hear it drum on the roof and smack the windows, to feel the boom of thunder in my bones, to feel the electric jolt that sends through me, not of fear exactly, but maybe of excitement. And Clint and I both chuckle a little then at the way we've jumped and move closer together.
I don't even mind a solid weekend of rain. I'd rather have it rain now when it's coldish out than on a nice warm spring weekend when we had planned to be outside. And a rainy day when I'm at school is just depressing.
But something about this weekend has made me lazy. I slept this afternoon, and I have totally trashed the intention I made on Thursday (that first really nice day of the season) to run every day for the next two weeks. That resolution lasted two days. But it's so much nicer to run outside now than in, especially since the possiblity of running outside is so tantalizingly...well, possible. But not when it's raining.
So don't think this is a post that is complaining about the rain. It's not. I have loved the rain this weekend. It is, though, maybe, my way of justifying to myself why I have been lazy. And read a book and a half. And cooked a great dinner last night. And fixed our secondary laptop so it can access the internet. And typed up a handout for my Creative Writing class.
Huh. Maybe I haven't been so lazy after all.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Finals Week

Since Napoleon is on the trimester schedule, we had final exams yesterday and today. The kids take exams for first through third hours one day and fourth through sixth the next. This year, we had the great and unlooked-for pleasure of re-writing our finals for English to multiple choice tests.
Let me rant a bit on that.
I ask you: How does a student demonstrate that he can talk intelligently about a poem or story with a multiple choice test? How does a student demonstrate that he knows how to write an essay with a multiple choice test? How does a student show his creative talent with a multiple choice test?
I have grave concerns about this, but the state is probably going to issue end-of-year assessments in the near future for high school core classes, and those tests will most likely follow the pattern of other major assessments and be--you guessed it--multiple choice tests.
Don't get me wrong: 60 multiple-choice tests are WAY easier to grade than sixty essays. But what about the kids who CANNOT take a test to save their lives? What about them?
It's been a frustrating week. In the end, despite all my worries and doubts, they did fine. B-ish scores with a few stunning As and a few horrific low Fs. I'm just not sure how to prepare them for such a test, a test that really measures their ability to read and comprehend the main ideas and themes of text and their ability to pick a simile out of four choices. I guess I can teach that last one, but reading...they just need to read more. And probably have me read out loud to them less. Sucky sucky sucky.
Maybe I'm in a bad mood about all this. I'll go drink some more wine. Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow, or better yet--on Monday, when I get to start a new trimester and not have to worry about final exams for another 12 weeks.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My Letter of Resignation

Dear Kir,
I know. I know. I'm supposed to give you two weeks notice, but sometimes it is sweet to be spontaneous, and I always try to be one or the other. Sweet or spontaneous, that is. Occasionally, I simultaneously succeed at both. Not often, though.

And now for the notice:

Despite my fervent and repeated assurances both to you, dear self, and to the world around me, I have succumbed to the worldly pressure and (sigh. gasp. horrified shaking of the head.) opened a facebook account.

I know. I know.

I never thought I would do it either. I thought my fortitude know...more fortitudinal. But after a long conversation this afternoon with an erstwhile friend (who has just within the past ten hours reversed her state of erstwhile-ness to current-hood) (her name is Jennifer) (last name Jackson), I became convinced to recant my previously stated intent to never--not even if I faced a firing squad--join the legion of people who are addicted to this friend making/friend sharing device.

Which I consider to be merely one more ploy to distract me from reading.

As blogging is doing right now.

And so, dear self, I am finished talking to you. Which was weird and somewhat contrived anyway. And talk to my blog readers:

You can become my friend on facebook, if you're not already, and join the bevy of 13 whole friends I currently have. Without even really trying that hard.

Including one REALLY erstwhile friend, whom I am most pleased to have found again. Especially since she lives in Texas. And that is really far away.