My 2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 940 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 16 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Confuse & Conquer the Class Troublemaker

Dear Lord, Dear Lord, DEAR LORD did I need to see this today! I am going to use this approach immediately. Fingers crossed.

Laura Randazzo – Solutions for the Secondary Classroom

Every year, without fail, the power play begins. In the first week of school, there’s always at least one class with That Kid. You know, the one who’s testing you. Rolling his eyes. Not-so-covertly texting on her phone. Or, more aggressively, dropping a snarky comment in the midst of your lecture. The battle for control of the class has begun.

Instead of launching the usual path of warnings/referrals/calls homes, try using the most effective tool in your Classroom Discipline Arsenal – Respect. Wait, what? Yeah, respect the kid even when he/she doesn’t deserve it. Here’s how the script rolls each and every year:

[Inappropriate moment has just occurred]
Me[in a calm tone]: Mark, I need to talk to you after class.[I continue teaching.]

[After the period is over and the classroom has emptied]
Me: Thanks for hanging back for a second, Mark. I noticed that you were…

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Freshmen

This is my first year teaching Freshmen. I’ve taught Juniors and Seniors for most of my career. Upperclassmen embody the best of the teenage years – still young enough to enjoy a good prank or to have fun in class, but old enough to understand when it’s time to get down to business. They’re warm and ornery and fun and obnoxious and responsible, and really quite mature. You can have some deep and enlightening discussions with Upperclassmen. Freshmen? Not so much. Here are some things I’ve learned so far:

Freshmen are squirrels. All those hormones are still finding the proper nooks & crannies in their brains in which to settle. This takes far too long. It’s not so much the puppy goo-goo eyes they make at each other that cause the problems, it’s more that

Did she just say "ass"?!

Did she just say “ass”?!

They still giggle when you say “ass,” even if it’s in reference to a donkey. Some days it’s very tough to get through a passage in a book if it has an ass in it somewhere. And once they go down the Giggle Path, God love you if you can get them back into the book, because

They have an amazing capacity for focus – just not on the right things. See “ass” above; also “he, she, it.” (Say it aloud. You’ll get it.) Make a mistake, misspell a word in a handout, and they will remind you of it through the entire class, and possibly the next two. I’m not entirely sure how much of this obsessive behavior is to boost their own self-image and how much is for their classmates to notice, because I’ve found that

It is all about them. The Freshman capacity for self-centeredness is nothing short of astonishing. If they want to talk to the kid behind them, they are going to do it – even after the teacher has asked for quiet. Or after the teacher has demanded quiet. Or even after the teacher has pulled out the playground whistle and blown it. (Yes, I have.) They’re going to FINISH THEIR CONVERSATION, because IT’S IMPORTANT. More important than being respectful and allowing the class to move forward. They’re also crazy needy. They have immense difficulty waiting their turn for an answer to a question. And they become indignant when you won’t answer a questions (because you want them to figure it out for themselves.) The worst part is that when they behave like this,

You can’t tell them they’re behaving like asses. You can do that with Juniors and Seniors. They’ll grin & admit it, apologize, quiet down & get to work. Freshmen are likely to take it personally, text their parents immediately (feigning injury to their delicate psyches), and giggle uncontrollably. Again.

I miss my Upperclassmen.

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Freezing, or in the Process of

I miss snow.

My heart’s been pretty wintry the past few days. It feels like it might just as well snow and get on with it.

The Gateway

The Gateway

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Adopted, Part 2 (of many)

Abandoned
Ungrateful
Silenced
Dismissed
Misunderstood
Rejected
Unlike
Disconnected
Deserted
Different

I started the list as a way to organize my thoughts for this post. But the more I looked at it, the more it looked finished the way it was.

It’s how I feel. And I get so tired of having to justify how I feel.

My husband, my children, have no idea how to respond to my feelings of abandonment. They’re kind and sympathetic, certainly, but I can see the puzzlement behind their eyes. “You have us now. You’re not alone.”

Yes, I am.

I will never be whole, no matter how much I try to fill the hole. The first, most important person in my life rejected me. Gave me to strangers “because she loved me so much.” (THERE’S the lie that burns worse than all others.)

I’m tired of staying silent to protect the feelings of my adopted family. I’m tired of trying to explain unexplainable feelings. I’m tired of smiling when you ask me if I’m Grateful for my adoptive family. (I actually am grateful. But wanting to know who I am does not mean I am Ungrateful. It means I am human.) I’m really, REALLY tired of “experts” telling me that the separation from my mother at birth cannot possibly still affect me, that it’s utter nonsense that I’d have those memories and remember that trauma.

Lesli Johnson wrote a piece for the Huffington Post earlier this year that articulates this truth better than I can. I’d love to print this on a card to hand to anyone who asks me about adoption.

So it’s probably better if you don’t ask me about adoption, unless you’re prepared to hear the truth. My truth.

My
Abandoned
Ungrateful
Silenced
Dismissed
Misunderstood
Rejected
Unlike
Disconnected
Deserted
Different
Truth.

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Existential Grammar

(Brushing away cobwebs) It’s been a long time.
NaBloWriMo is the perfect kick that I need to restart this habit.

So to ease back in, here is a glimpse of the things that take up room in my head. Room that would be better used to remember things like the names of everyday objects and the dates of haircut appointments.

If something is pointless, can it then be pointful?
Why isn’t the adjective form of sarcasm sarcasmic?
If one can be discombobulated, can one then be combobulated? Or is it just bobulated?
If the past tense of lay is laid, then why isn’t the past tense of play plaid?
Can one be just whelmed?

Hand With Reflecting Sphere, MC Escher, 1935

Hand With Reflecting Sphere, MC Escher, 1935

Please feel free to add your questions. I would love to hear your Existential Grammar musings.

That is, unless I’m the only one who spends brain cells on this stuff.

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File this under “If You’re Not Outraged, You Haven’t Been Paying Attention.” I started work in the health Insurance field in 1982, and even back then I realized that the real problem with insurance costs wasn’t the cost of providing insurance, it was the cost of obtaining medical care. Does anyone have the power or the will to address this national disgrace?

Health & Family

Corrections Appended: February 26, 2013

1. Routine Care, Unforgettable Bills
When Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old from Lancaster, Ohio, was told last March that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his wife Stephanie knew she had to get him to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Stephanie’s father had been treated there 10 years earlier, and she and her family credited the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson with extending his life by at least eight years.

Because Stephanie and her husband had recently started their own small technology business, they were unable to buy comprehensive health insurance. For $469 a month, or about 20% of their income, they had been able to get only a policy that covered just $2,000 per day of any hospital costs. “We don’t take that kind of discount insurance,” said the woman at MD Anderson when Stephanie called to make an appointment for Sean.

Stephanie was then…

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