Friday, August 23, 2013

On Poetry

I wish people would write real poetry these days.

I keep up with quite a few blogs, and I try to find contemporary poetry to use in my classroom, but the truth is, people just don't write good poetry these days. It's all unstructured nonsense.

Where are the Wilfred Owens? Where are the Elizabeth Brownings? Where are the Emily Dickinsons, the Siegfried Sassoons and the Alfred Tennysons?

Where is all the good poetry these days? That is a real question. If you know where to find good poetry, tell me.

And I'm not talking about the stupid stream of self centered drivel that everyone is putting out. There's plenty of poetry out there, but nothing of substance. It's all:

"I walked
and saw
no one else
my soul
and I
and cried
because it was
and green, like lemons.
Take it,
Of course
you can't,

There's nothing interesting about thoughtlessness anymore. I don't see any art in it, not when things like:

"The cherry trees bend over and are shedding
On the old road where all that passed are dead
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed"

exist and beg to be read and thought about for years on end. I don't see any point in bothering to study that which has no substance. It gives me no pleasure and doesn't seem to enrich me whatsoever. We've finally proven that thoughtless literature can exist (thank you postmodernism, your mission is accomplished), but to what end?

I hereby declare the death of postmodernism. Bring back structure to poetry! I demand a real poem!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Real Freedom is Not Independence

Depending on other people allows you the freedom to do what you want to do.

Think about it.

If you want to go on vacation, someone is gong to need to watch your children, dog, thermostat, car, whatever. If you have no friends, no one will be able to do that for you. You will not be free to do what you want to do.

If you have a disease and no one knows how to take care of you except for you, you may not be able to go hiking, biking, swimming, or traveling because of fear from what may happen if you have an asthma attack, low blood sugar, or seizure and no one knows how to take care of you in the strange place. (Additionally, you are enslaved by fear. Independent, but fearful. So, .... not free).

If you have children or a dog or simply do not have anorexia, and you independently feed your children, your dog, and you, then you are not free to do anything other than prepare meals when those times come. That's a lot of time consumed by meals, by the way. Relying on someone else to prepare food for you gives you additional freedom to do what you want to do during that time.

However, having friends you can depend on gives you the freedom to do these things and more. By being dependable, you can have more people upon which to depend. The more people in your life upon whom you can depend, the more time you have to do what you want to do, and therefore, the more freedom you have.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why I Liked Warm Bodies (Spoiler alert!)

1. It was an appropriate parody of "Twilight," and as you already know, I hate that stuff, so ...parody on.

2. It had a balcony scene, as in, Romeo-and-Juliet style. Gotta love a good Shakespeare allusion, and Romeo as a zombie? Fitting.

3. I was impressed with the writing, especially R's monologue in the beginning. It was witty.

4. The music was good.

5. It actually had an interesting message: there's a funny moment during the opening monologue when R pines for a time when people weren't zombies in the airport where he lives, and therefore could talk. He described it as being "warm" and "connected," and while he mentions this, the visual shows a flashback of how things were before the disease: everyone was on a cell phone or other device, no one was talking to each other or even making eye contact, and it was not a place of warm conversation and connectivity. It was not very different, aside from the undead-ness, from the way it was for the zombies.

 The cure for the zombie disease ends up being human connectivity, so the commentary seems to be that we are currently diseased by our dependence on devices, as they tend to separate us more than connect us, and need to fix our communities and families by talking to each other face-to-face and showing kindness to each other. I like that!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Turn Signals and Boxes

This is a rambler, folks.

My life is like a TV show.

There are 2 kinds of tv shows out there: the kind that have arch stories that take place over many episodes (like Gossip Girl, Once Upon a Time, or Grimm), and those that have stories that are completely contained in one episode (like Gilligan's Island, Hey Arnold, or Green Acres).

My life is like the latter.

No matter how hard I try, I feel like nothing really changes in my life. There are things I would really like to change, too, like: living in an apartment, not having and children, or eating cereal for dinner. I get to critical points where I get excited and think: "yeah, now things are going to really get shaken up around here!" but alas, I lie to myself every time. By the end of the episode, I am always back to square one: living in a box, alone, and eating LIFE even though I'm not living it.

At least, that's how I feel sometimes. But in another light, my life is ALWAYS changing.

Of the people who I see on a daily basis, I met none of them before August, 2012. I have a dog now. I don't share my bedroom with another lady, and! I have a REAL job!

I don't know if it's good or bad, but there it is. When changes DOES happen, it rarely happens with warning. I feel like almost every change that I anticipate in life goes a different way than I thought it would, and changes that I think I'm making happen just don't happen at all. There is no point in using your turn signal if you're already in the next lane, nor if you're not actually going to make any turns.

It all feels so pointless and dolor.

Do you remember The Truman Show? There's this one part where he tries to get out of town, and every road out is blocked by something. At the end of the day, he has to go back home. Do you ever feel like Truman? Like everything is fake?

Sometimes, when I'm in a room with florescent lights, I feel like I am not in reality, but rather in a painting or a dream. It just doesn't seem real. Then I wonder, what is reality, anyhow? How can I be sure that I'm in it? Have you ever asked yourself that question?

Sometimes I think, "I just need a new hobby," or, "it's this weather!" but then, at other times, I realize: I live inside a box. That just isn't natural.

Then I go outside for a little bit. I might even take a drive out into the mountains or to the river. I sit outside for a little bit, and things start to fall back into place.

We just weren't meant to live in boxes.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Songs of War

I have a confession to make: I have seen every episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation. Yes, I am a closet Trekker. Not only that, but on some unfortunately uncontrollable level, it has shaped my world view. That's what the media does to children, okay?

I think I would hate this show if I watched it for the first time today. But I didn't; I watched it for the first time when I was a toddler. We watched it as a family. It was fascinating. I didn't choose the Trekkie life, the Trekkie life chose me!

Star Trek does this thing where it makes cultural references, be they pop or other, as if they were so impactful that they would still be germane 400 years from now.

Confession #2: I love Celtic music and culture almost as much as I love my own culture.

When I was a little girl (again with the youth!) I decided to get a tiny, little bit obsessed about a few things: Prince William, Thundercats, ancient Egypt, and Celtic music/culture.

In fact, I recently went to a Flogging Molly concert, but that's another post altogether.

As an English teacher, of course I love listening for and watching the Shakespeare references in Star Trek, but I really got excited when they sang "The Minstrel Boy" in this episode, because it is a slightly more obscure reference. I love this song. It is so sad, so noble, and so beautiful.

Gotta love those text-to-text connections!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nostalgic Acrostic

Here is an acrostic I wrote as a model for my creative writing class today:


Behind the house,
A swing set dances:
Revolving with the rhythm of children's legs
Never caring that the day is closing,
Here now, but gone tomorrow.
Are they going to
Realize before it ends
That childhood is golden?

And here's one that I wrote as an example before class started:

Hey man, what's your problem?
Everyone is asking.
If you want to change your life,
Do it!
I'm serious!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I'm Sorry, But...

I’m sorry, but

I couldn’t help myself

I saw your cookies, sitting there

They called to me

I had to taste

I had to know what it was like

To eat your cookies.

And so I did.

That’s why they’re all gone.

I’m sorry, but I have to say

My stomach is not.

Sorry, that is.

Monday, March 18, 2013



My new dog, a 9 pound cairn terrier/yorkie mix, is not housebroken. After I got her, I waited for her to poop. I wanted to get her outside before she actually did it, so that I could take her out and start training her to poop outside. She waited, too. She didn't poop for a day and a half! Then, while I was getting ready for church Sunday morning, she finally pooped.

And then she ate it.

I walked back into my bedroom after doing my makeup to find my little lady chomping down on her own doo-doo. I scolded her, and took away the poop. Then I ran a google search. Apparently, it's pretty common for dogs to eat poop: be it their own or someone else's, they just seem to like eating poop.

So gross.

On another note, let me tell you, this new dog is already a better fit for me than the last one. She gets along with the other dog in our house, and she already walks beside me, not pulling on the lead and walking directly in front of me. She likes strangers, because they pet her. She doesn't bark.

She is so little that she can't jump up on my bed. So, she sleeps under my bed or on her doggie bed. She seems to really like her pillow.

She has a lot of work to do, but I feel confident that we can work together and she will be a good dog. I am pretty happy about that!

I am working on thinking of a name for her. Here is my list of names I have thought of and am considering:

  • Pookie
  • Kiki
  • Mag Light
  • Bagel
  • Arrow
  • Virginia Woolf (Woolf for short)
Which name do you like best?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happy Pi Day!

I taught writing free verse poetry in my creative writing class today, and I modeled writing one about Pi, which isn't very good, but may entertain you:

Oh boy, it's pie!
Yum, yum.
This isn't pie?
What is pi?
So you're telling me
I'm eating math?
I might be sick.
What would it look like
if numbers were
3.14159265 . . .

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A New Way to Break My Heart

I had to take my dog (of a little over one week) back to the humane society. She tried to bite a couple of people, and I didn't see it getting any better --- in fact, the longer she stayed with me, the more territorial she seemed to become and less likely to "warm up" to strangers coming to visit us.

It broke my heart.

I cried all Sunday night after realizing that I just couldn't keep her. I called my parents, and they helped me see that it was the right decision for both me and Tilly, but it still was very sad. On Monday, I actually literally felt like a rock was resting on top of my heart organ. I hated that.

When I gathered her up at my apartment after work, I cried and cried. On the way to the shelter, I cried. I think the guy in the truck behind me at the stoplight to get onto the freeway saw me (he looked concerned, and I felt embarrassed, but still couldn't stop crying).

I thought that by the time I got to the shelter, all of my tears would be gone, but no. I continued to cry. In fact, I made a fool of myself. I even started hyperventilating. I tried so hard to stop, because I was in public now, but I just couldn't. The workers at the shelter were very kind, but I could tell they were a little freaked out by my socially unnacceptable behavior, In fact, so was I.

I sort of regret it, taking her back. I miss her already. I wish she was with me when I go home, and I wish she needed me to take her out in the morning and in the evening, and walk with me. But, then I remind myself that things were not going to get better, and I would end up with a dog who bites.

This way, I can try again to find the right dog for me.

I don't know why I want a dog so badly, but I can tell you, I haven't felt this strongly about wanting something for a long time. It hurts, but it also feels good to want something and pursue it.

I think that might be a part of human nature: the right to obsess over something for a period of time. I feel more alive for having a small, controled obsession. I feel passionate and emotional in a way I have not felt before, at least not in recent memory.

Then again, maybe it's bad. Maybe I am losing control. Maybe I am going a little crazy.

What do you think? And, do you ever obsess over something?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I Just Want to Stop Saying Goodbye to Everyone.

I had this dream once where I went to one of my sister's basketball games, and I was talking to a lady who I had never met before, but we were fast friends. I suddenly realized that I was dreaming, and that it wasn't real. I asked her, "is this a dream?" and she replied, "yes, it is."

So, I asked her, "are you not real, then?"

and she said, "I don't know. I hope I'm real."

I told her, "Yes, I hope you are, too. Will we ever meet again, once I wake up?"

"I don't know. It's hard to say."

"I hope so."

"I hope so, too."

"Are you scared?" I asked.

"Yes, a little."

And I've wondered how she's doing, ever since then, and we haven't met again.

Friday, March 8, 2013

I Got A Puppy and Now I'm Freaking Out A Little

Last week I went a little crazy.

I'm a pretty even-headed person, and I don't normally get obsessed about anything, but last week, I couldn't get dogs out of my head.

I've wanted to get a dog for the longest time. When I was in college, I dreamed about taking our family dog, Bruno, out to school with me (what a terrible idea that was! He is a psychologically damaged senior German shepherd. I highly doubt he would have adjusted well to apartment life. But It was only a dream, okay?). But, I definitely didn't have time for a dog during college. I was working two jobs (about 30-35 hours a week) and carrying 15-17 credits, so I didn't really have time for pooping let alone taking care of a dog.

All that has changed. I have time now. Actually, I have a lot of time on my hands, and in my experience, time makes people do crazy things.

Still, I felt compelled to wait for the picket-fence life to get a dog. It is a big commitment, and I enjoy being foot-loose and fancy-free. Most of the time. The problem is, I've started to wonder if I'll ever be happy with a house in the suburbs and a very free daily schedule. In fact, I'm beginning to seriously doubt not only that I'll ever be able to have that life, but also that I would ever enjoy that life. I still wanted a dog. Of course I wanted a dog!

So I started visiting shelters.

I found Tilly at the Utah Humane Society. She is a black cocker spaniel, and about a year and a half old. She is very sweet, and I am working on her training. She came already house broken and knowing "sit" and "come." She is catching on to "down" (lay down) and as of yesterday, heels nicely.

But she barks at people, and other dogs, and sometimes when we're inside she growls at my roommate's dog. Sometimes I wonder what I've gotten myself into.

What was I thinking?!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Silly Students, Personal Lives are for .... Not Teachers!

I try to be very professional with my students. That doesn't stop them from asking the most personal kind of questions.

Also, they say really funny things sometimes, and I thought that I would just share a little bit with you:

Student: Ms B., how old are you?
Me: I'm 47.
Student: No way!
Me: Yes way!
Student: But.... you look like you're in your 20's!
Me: Oh stop! I'm blushing!
Student: Oh my gosh, you're older than my mom!

Student: Ms B., why are you not married?
Me: Because I'm very, very picky. Also, I'm extremely young.
Student: No, really!
Me: We're not going to talk about this.
Student: Why?
Me: Because it isn't professional.
Student: But.... I just don't get it. It's not like you're ugly or anything.

Student 1: How do you spell essay?
Student 2: That's a dumb question. It's S-A.

Student1: One direction is the best band EVER!
Student 2: I know! What did anyone ever listen to before them? They are the BEST!
Me: Have you ever heard of the Beatles?
Student 1: Yes, I have.
Me: Well, they are generally considered the "best band ever," just saying.
Student: They are nothing compared to One Direction. One Direction is definitely better.
Me: There are a lot of bands like One Direction that have come and gone, but the Beatles have remained present in our social consciousness for generations. So, I really don't think you're right.
Student: Name even one band like that.
Me: Well how about N'Sync? Have you ever heard of them?
Student: No.
Me: 98 degrees?
Student: No!
Me: Savage Garden?
Student: Wha...?
Me: Hansen?
Student: Ms B., I think you are making these bands up.
Me: No, I am not. All of these bands . . . were just like One Direction. And just like all of these bands, the next generation will have no idea who they are or what songs they did.

Me: Boys and girls, please don't call me "Mrs." B. Mrs. B. is my mother.
Student1: So, what should we call you?
Me: Ms B.
Student2: Wait. You're not married?
Student3: How is that possible?
Me: I'm very young, you know.
Student3: But you're pretty!
Student 4 (to student 3, vehemently): Stop it! Mrs B. just hasn't met the right man yet. Someday, she will meet him, and he will be awesome, and he will love her sooooo much, and then they will get married and live happily ever after! So just give her a break!
Me: I'm so glad you have my life planned out for me, Student4.
Student4: No problem, Mrs. B.

Student 1: What is 40 plus 30?
Student 2: It's 70. You should know that by now. We're 7th graders, not kindergartners.

Me: Class! I have an exciting announcement to make!
Student1: You're pregnant!
Student2: You're engaged!
Student3: You're married!
Student4: You got a puppy!
Student5: Just let her talk, guys.
Me: We're going to memorize poems!
Student6: That's not as exciting as you made it sound.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Soundtrack

Music is emotional, isn't it? For this reason, some songs are just special. Maybe they remind you of a certain time in your life or a certain person who is special, but each of us have a catalog of songs that mean something more than merely words and sounds. These are some of mine.

1. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," as sung by Judy Garland.

When I was very little, I watched this movie every day. During the day while Stephanie and Janel were at school, I pretended to be Dorothy, and I even had a tiny, little Lego Toto dog that I carried around in a tiny cloth basket. This is one of the first songs I learned all the lyrics to. As I've grown older, the song has grown with me. It is full of hope, and sometimes I think it's unfortunate, but so am I.

2. "Yesterday," The Beatles.

When I was 16, I was part of a pioneer trek reenactment. I was put in a "family" with a bunch of other kids and two very, very old "parents" whom we fondly called "Ma" and "Pa." We were a very musical group, and I was young and thought I was musical, too. We sang a lot of songs. Our Ma and Pa asked us to sing specific songs, and this was one of them. I was the only one who knew it, so I sang it alone. Our Pa cried a little and thanked me for singing it, because it was special to him. Now it is special to me, too.

3. "Halo," Beyonce.

I just loved this song the first time I heard it, and I listened to it about seven hundred and eighty two times the summer of 2009, which was also the year I worked EFY all summer long. I love remember that time! It was an incredible summer!

4. "I Am a Child of God"

This song is so beautiful that I imagine it is on many people's lists. Perhaps it is even on yours?

5. "I Dig a Pony," The Beatles.

My boss when I was in High school thought I was cool for one, glimmering moment when I knew the lyrics to this song. One, single moment.

6. "Hey Jude," The Beatles.

This was my audition piece for the Jazz band, and my favorite piano solo in Jazz band, too. It also happens to be one of the best songs ever penned, so why shouldn't it be on this list?

7. "My Funny Valentine," Um.... Mediocre (Jazz Band. I'm not sure who did this one originally. Google it if you really need to know.)

Another Jazz Band solo. 2nd favorite. Most jazz-y, too.

8. "It Don't Matter to Me," Bread.

After I graduated from BYU, my Dad helped me drive my car back to Pennsylvania. As we rode together, we listened to many songs, this being one of them. For those of you who are just now tuning in to this blog, that was a sad time for me because of a breakup that happened that same month. The song goes, "It don't matter to me if your searching brings you back together with me, because there'll always be an empty room waiting for you, an open heart waiting for you." And here I was, being driven home by my Dad to an empty room waiting for me, and his open heart beating just above the driver's seat of my 2002 ford focus. I don't know what events originally inspired these lyrics, but for me, they will always be a profession of my Dad's undying love for me.

9. "Maybe This Time," Cabaret.

My friend Bergen took me for a drive after a breakup back in 2009. He gave me an epic pep talk and sang along to this song as it appears on the Glee soundtrack, making it one of my all-time favorite songs ever.

10. "I Couldn't Live Without Your Love," Petula Clark.

This just happens to be one of my favorite love songs.

11. "You Can Call Me Al," Paul Simon.

I remember hearing this song on the radio when I was very young (younger than 7). It was just my Mom and I in the car, and as we rolled into our driveway, it ended. I think we only caught the end of the song or something, because we didn't know the name of the song. We both wanted to know the name, but the radio station didn't announce it. We both had just.... really liked it! Mom said something about the different instruments in it. I remember a little while later, Mom came to me all excited, and explained that she heard the song at the grocery store that day, and knew the title: "Call Me Al." Now every time I hear that song, I think of my Mom, and that is special.

12. "River of Dreams," Billy Joel.

We called this one "The Pool Song" because they played it at the Watsontown pool about once per hour. Love it!

13. "Daydream Believer," The Monkees

Long before "Shrek" was even an idea in someone's head, we listened to the Monkees. Actually, we had several of their albums (I'm talking vinyl here. Why replace a perfectly good sound system? Said my parents), and we jammed to this tune while we cleaned our ever-dirty house (we have a very large family. Mess happens).

14. "Mamma Mia," Abba

When my Mom was an impetuous teen, she dedicated this song to my Dad on the radio at 3 in the morning. (I am convinced that the greatest love story to date is the one between my Mom and Dad).

15. "My Heart's in the Highlands"

When I'm homesick, this is my anthem.

16. Night Song

"How fair is night,
heavenly stillness
peaceful thy brow
see the stars so clearly streaming
moving through the heaven's portal
bright and silent eyes immortal
from the distance on us gleaming,
from the distance gleaming."

I found this song in an old songbook and fell in love with it. I even learned the somewhat difficult melody on the harmonica, but I have no idea what the title is, and it doesn't google well. If anyone knows anything about this song, leave a comment please!

17. "Love at Home"

We sang this song at my sister's funeral.

18. "We Thank Thee, Oh God, for a Prophet"

We sing this song at almost every family home evening.

19. Down in the Valley

This is the last song my Grandpa played on the harmonica before he died. It is special to all of us.

20. Toby's Lullaby

When my youngest brother was a baby, I sang him to sleep with a song that I made up. I wrote down the words, because frankly, it's not bad. For some reason, this song gets stuck in my head sometimes. I find myself humming it in the shower, or on a walk, or as I shop for groceries.  I love this song, because it reminds me of a time when I got to become closer to my brother. It might be presumptuous, because I am neither married nor in love, but I look forward to the day when I will sing that song to my own children.

Who knows? Maybe more songs will come to me when I have a sweet, tiny muse in my arms all night long.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reading List: A Beginning

I feel compelled to read.

I want to be "widely read," but I am not. I have read a lot of Robin McKinley, Shakespeare, and other popular books, but my classical foundation is shakey at best. So, I have written a list of books "to-read" that I feel will make me a more mature and experienced reader.

As you read this list, answer me this question: Have you read any of these books? Is this a good list? What is missing? What shouldn't be there?

1.      Brave New World

2.      Catch 22

3.      1984

4.      Slaughterhouse 5

5.      The Golden Bowl

6.      The Sun Also Rises

7.      Heart of Darkness

8.      The Return of the King (I've already read The Fellowship and The Two Towers)

9.      Wuthering Heights

10.   Little Women

11.   Dune

12.   This Side of Paradise

13.   The Art of War

14.   The Count of Monte Cristo

15.   A Christmas Carol

16.   Anne of Green Gables

17.   Devil in the White City

18.   Siddhartha

19.   Les Miserable

20.   The Picture of Dorian Grey

21.   Romeo and Juliet (This one is a little embarrassing.)

22.   Winter’s Tale (Shakespeare)

23.   The Last of the Mohicans

24.   The Road (Cormac McCarthy)

25.   The Bell Jar

26.   The Hunchback of Notre Dam

27.   The Book Thief

What do you think? I honestly want some feedback, here. Once I get some feedback, I'll update the list and then give you reviews as I read!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Buckets of 42

There are a couple of things that I really want to do with my life before I die. Here is my actual bucket list:

1. Own a horse.
2. Own a dog.
3. Write books.
4. Own a farm. (These are obviously in no particular order).
5. Be on Conan O'Brian's show as a guest.
6. Meet Tina Fey.
7. Run a half marathon.
8. Hike the Appalachian trail.
9. Go to Germany.
10. Have a baby.
11. Learn to play a string instrument.
12. Fall in love one, last time.
13. Get a photograph into the National Geographic.
14. Be the voice of a cartoon character.
15. Have a vegetable/herb garden or greenhouse.
16. Have an orchard.
17. Learn to speak Spanish REALLY and fluently.
18. Learn to speak German, too.
19. Have grandchildren.
20. Die laughing.