Tag Archive | getting started

Deadlines Can Kill You, If You Let Them

clock_tickingYesterday I missed blog post. Sorry. My day was full from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. Have you ever noticed that you can go for days without anything happening, and then, BAM! you get a day like I had yesterday. A day that takes you away from all your regular stuff and fills your time with something else.

I’ve always been a steady pacer–like an old plow horse, putting one foot in front of another. If I have a deadline, I think backwards and determine how many days (or hours) I have to get the item completed. I’m happy to tell you; I’ve never missed a deadline of any kind.

So yesterday, I had a series of accomplishments. Dave picked me up bright and early to get the lift chair the ADRC had found for us. It was a nice time with him;we talked about high school days and he took me on a leisurely drive down the back roads through the farming community that is only a few miles from the city. When we got there, I was greeted by a warm, friendly farm dog named Jack, who given half a chance would have jumped in the truck and came home with me. The chair turned out to be beautiful. It was a burgundy color that would coordinate with our existing furniture beautifully. So, the men at the farm loaded the chair into the pick-up and in just a few minutes Dave and I were heading back to my house.

While Dave and I were on our excursion, Ken had moved the existing chair out of its spot, along with the end table and his power wheel chair. How he did all of this, I don’t know. But it was a nice surprise for me because all Dave and I had to do was bring the new chair up the ramp and into the house.

After a cup of coffee and a little more chit-chat with Dave, it was time to clean the house and prepare a nice birthday dinner for my daughter. So, that meant a trip to the grocery store. Now, instead of a plow horse, I had become a pack mule. Hunting and gathering through the store, packing up the groceries, hauling them out to the car, packing them into the car, unpacking them when I got home, and then putting them away–keeping out the things I needed to start dinner. Whew!

Finally, it was on to cooking. The part I really love. The part that always gives me compliments once everyone sits down at my table. But like any deadline, I had to plan to get it all done by 5 p.m.

The outcome? The food was good (of course), the visit was fun (we hadn’t seen Sarah since Christmas) and everything got done on time and on schedule. But after I sat down and started to relax, guess what? Yeah. I started yawning. I guess the ol’ gray mare ain’t what she used to be.

But all in all, it was a great day. The weather was a sunny 68 degrees–a welcomed change from all the rain we’ve had this spring. Once again a friend came to the rescue and helped me. We had a wonderful dinner and visit from a girl woman I love more than my own life, and then a welcoming comfortable bed to rest my weary bones.

So even though the day was a deviation from the norm, was a lot of work, it was a wonderful day.

Thanks for reading.

Barb

Keeping Perspective

blog-images-stickitI’m always thrilled when people elect to follow to my blog. It’s exciting to know my writing has captured their attention, and they want to hear more from me. It’s a writer’s biggest compliment.

Today, though, I was honored when the MS Hope Foundation subscribed. I suppose they read some of my “Life with Ken” stories and thought they might be helpful to others who are floating in the same boat we are. So, I suppose it would be an appropriate time to say that one of my WIPs is called “A Day in the Life of the REAL Barbie and Ken,” which will focus on our experiences with Multiple Sclerosis.

BUT, for the rest of my you, I want you to know I will not become a strictly MS caregiver website. I do not identify myself that way. Care giving for my husband is only part of my life. First, I am a writer. Then I am all other roles that society has cast upon me. I will continue to write about my experiences, opinions, and observations just as I have in the past.

But I have to share with you that today, I feel very lucky. I got brave and attended a caregiver group meeting. I’m not a “joiner” of such groups, so this was a big step for me. The last thing I want to do is spend my time whining about my situation. But I gave it a try. There were five women there who were all caring for family members, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, dementia,  Parkinson’s and other long-time, debilitating illnesses. I just wanted to hug all of them because their hearts were so pure. But they looked so tired. Very tired. And did I mention overwhelmed?  I don’t know if I’ll go again. One can never tell.

Before the meeting, I got a call from a friend who needed me to rescue him from the car repair place. His car’s radiator blew, and he was stranded. When I picked him up, he said he’d like to go out for breakfast because he hadn’t eaten yet; it was ten o’clock. He’s a diabetic, and after I shook a finger at him, I took him to a restaurant. Because he suffers from LOTS of stuff, he needs to use a walker. I dropped him off at the door, he got in the restaurant safely– only to topple over backward when he tried to pick up a coin he had dropped. He whacked his noggin haaaaard on the carpet covered cement! He didn’t admit it, but I bet he was seeing stars like the Coyote usually does when something falls on him in the Road Runner cartoons. But I got him to his feet and situated on a chair, we put some ice on the back of his head. I kept asking him “concussion-type” questions to assess whether I should take him to the hospital. With him not being dizzy, sleepy, or nauseous,  I felt  he would just have a headache from his tumble. He knew his name and what day it was, so when I dropped him off at his apartment, I felt as though he would be all right.

Between the escapade with my friend this morning and meeting the other caretakers this afternoon,  I’m feeling rather lucky Ken is as healthy as he is. In fact, he stayed safely by himself practically all day, keeping himself busy with his computer and having Ernie keep him company.

What today did was provide perspective. I’ve found it’s always a good thing to check it once in a while because you can get so swallowed up by your own stuff.  I know I’m not the only one going through a rough journey, but it’s good to have a reality check once in a while.  I think that’s good advice for even “normal” people, don’t you?

The First Thought of the Day

I subscribe to a blog called The Daily Post because it’s a wonderful resource for writers. Everyday the creators of this blog propose a writing topic. Something to get the juices flowing. I don’t do every exercise they propose, but yesterday’s directive resonated with me. The suggestion was to keep a notebook on your bed table and write down the first thing you thought of before you crawled out of the blankets.

As I’ve been keeping a notebook beside my bed since I was in college, I thought — hmmm — half done already. All I have to do is pick up a pen and write down what I had on my mind when I woke. So, I went to sleep, woke refreshed, ready to write down my first thought of the day–only to find out I didn’t have a pen! Damn! Why didn’t they say, “put a notebook and PEN” on your night table?

So, I rushed through my morning routine, letting the dog out, feeding the cat, helping Ken with his breakfast, and all the while keeping that one thought in my mind, so I could do the writing exercise. After everybody’s morning stuff was completed, I poured my coffee and sat down in front of my laptop. And here I am to tell you about my first thought of the day.

It was about LEMONS. That’s right. Lemons.

lemon tree

Actually, it was about the first time I picked LEMONS–and GREEN LEMONS on top of it! And to have a friend growing them in her backyard was crazy fun.  I went nuts, picking about two or three dozen of the unusual large, green lemons, and then I smuggled them home in my suitcase. (That was before 9/11 when you didn’t have to have a strip search before you stepped on an American plane.)

As soon as I got home, I unpacked my prize lemons,  squeezed them, and froze the juice in ice cube trays. Now every time I wanted fresh lemon juice, all I had to do was thaw a cube and enjoy.

Most of my joy came from remembering me giggling as I picked the  fruit and my friend Marie standing by laughing at me being so joyous over a bunch of dumb lemons.

Maybe I thought about lemons this morning because I miss Marie. It’s been several years since we’ve seen each other, and this is the time of year I always looked forward to traveling south to get out of the snow and ice. (Did I tell you we had 15 inches of snow over the last 24 hours.) February or March was this time of year Ken and I would enjoy our condo timeshare in Orlando, and plan fun things to do as we enjoyed our Floridian once-a-year residence . One of our regular excursions was to take a couple of days to drive down to visit my dear friend in Flagler Beach.

So, when you read this Marie — and I know that you will — I hope you’re not put off that I thought of lemons and you in the same thought. You’ve never had a sour day in your life.

That Four-Letter Word

Which wayAnother grey February day, but my spirits are bright. Snow is coming, but it doesn’t matter. Why? Because I finally found direction.

Yesterday afternoon Ken and I met with a representative from the ADRC — Aging and Disability Resource Center. It was a pleasant visit. Much more pleasant than I anticipated. I admit, some of the questions we had to answer were a little embarrassing, but at the end of the meeting, I felt lighter.

For those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know my pride gets in my way — on occasion. It’s in my DNA to be ashamed of defeat. It turns out my Grandfather had to accept “RELIEF” during the depression when he was fired from his job. For him, accepting money from the government to feed his family of eight was humiliating. He had fought for years to make it BIG in America as an Italian immigrant. But when both of us were backed into a corner for the sake of our family, we had to put our pride aside and ask for assistance. Liked Grandpa, I am backed into a corner, which gave me two choices, lay down and quit, or come out swinging. I chose the latter. And like Grandpa, I decided it was finally  time to fight for some help.

Ken’s MS and my long-term unemployment has destroyed our financial situation. And through the last three years, things have changed. Now, I must be home to care for him. He can no longer stay alone all day long, so full time employment is out of the question. Like everything complex, on one hand this is a curse, on the other it’s a blessing. After all, look at all the wonderful time we get to spend together.

As the ADRC  interview progressed, we found out we are eligible for financial assistance. We aren’t sure of the nuts and bolts of it all, and there’s TONS of paperwork to wade through, (it is the government, you know) and it will take time. But with guidance of helpful people and learning to utter that four-letter word, HELP, we will get some relief from some of the pressures we’ve been enduring for three years.

So, the next time you have a choice to yell, HELP! or keep quiet, I’m all for the yelling–now that I can utter the word out loud.

Saying that, just remember asking for HELP is a practiced behavior. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it on the first try.

Pride and Humility–Brothers or Adversaries?

The Axes of Pride and Humility“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Ordinarily, I don’t quote the bible because I think it’s pretentious to do so. (Also, growing up Catholic impressed upon me I was too stupid to understand what the “good book” said in the first place. Reading the bible was only for “trained personnel” like priests and nuns.) But today, when I saw this quote, I had to pass it on because it fit what I’ve been experiencing this week.

If you’ve been following me through this journey of the world of “have nothing,” you know I’ve been humbled. I’ve had to accept help from sources I never thought I would have tap. (Like energy assistance to keep warm, and food stamps to put nourishment on our dining table, and prescription help to keep Ken functioning.)

Before these last three years, I’ve been competent, strong, and successful, achieving top honors in most everything I’ve ever done. So, now when I have to swallow my pride and accept help from others, I get a big lump in my throat. I feel like I have to choke. It drains me to know that I’m not as strong as I thought I was. It humbles me to know that I’m not as smart as I thought I was. I’ve come to realize being humble is a hard job.

Asking for help all of the time is exhausting. . . only because my pride gets in my way. My true friends have proved again and again they are an army standing beside me, ready to spring into action. They hold me up when I can’t stand on my own any longer. Their generosity overwhelms me with humility, and the words, “Thank You” hardly seem adequate. They help me see there is light at the end of the tunnel and it isn’t yet another train coming to mow me down.

And to you, my loyal followers, I say thanks, too. Somehow it’s helpful to know that this journey is followed by others who care. From my worn-out living room chair, blogging has opened my world to terrific folks who think I have something worthwhile to say.

The most wonderful thing about this journey is knowing someday these experiences, along with the feelings that go with them, will manifest into new characters for my stories and novels. They will be richer and complex because I know how it feels to fall from a pinnacle.

And believe me, it’s not the fall that’s bad, but the landing is hard; and deciding to either get up and carry on or to lie there and give up is the dilemma we all have to face, isn’t it?

 

 

Monday, Monday, What a Great Day!

Yesterday I had a surge of energy. It came out of nowhere. And on top of it–It was MONDAY!

Monday

The Super Bowl was celebrated with a party with good friends. The team I picked, won. The mess was minimal and I had it cleaned up by 9 a.m. A very pretty, fluffy snow was falling outside my window, and I didn’t have to go anywhere. My post went easily. It seemed like all the stars were aligned.

Best of all. my energy was high and I was ready to tackle household chores. Up until last week, Ken has always done the laundry as part of his domestic chores, but his weak legs now prevent him from going down the stairs to the basement. So, now I have inherited this new chore. I haven’t done the wash for over 17 years, so I had to get reacquainted with the washing machine, dryer, sorting, etc. But it was okay.

While I was down in the basement, I got out the broom and started cleaning. When I saw what my cat Vinnie had done, I wanted to pack him up and take him to kitty jail. For some reason, this good cat decided that the WHOLE basement was a new little litter box for his “poopies.” What a mess! But it was okay.

Then, I found a couple of blank canvases that I didn’t know I had. I haven’t painted anything for well over a year and I knew it could be a disaster if I picked up a brush. And then all of a sudden, I had an idea. So I picked out three colors, put the canvas on my easel and went to work. Here’s what happened. Maybe not Monet, but I like it. My father-in-law made the frame and it seems to go together.

A Golden Witner

A Golden Witner

When Coffee Gets Cold, The World is a Dark Place

woman, computer and coffeeI’m a coffee drinker–a hard-core, black as it gets coffee drinker. I’m not a “coffee snob” who insists on the finest blends at the swankiest coffee houses. I’m just a person who loves the rich aroma and warmth of a hardy blend. The only thing I insist on is I be allowed to drink my brew in a mug–not one of those paper cups with the cardboard finger protector wrapped around it. How uncivilized!

Even though coffee stains my teeth, promotes bad breath, and gives me the shakes when I drink too much, I must have it. You see, it’s the fuel that powers me every morning. It turns the key in my ignition. It’s the spark that lights my fire! Well, you get it, right?

Even on hot summer days, which are a welcomed thought when temps are frigid as they have been for the past week, I have to have my morning cup (or two). I can’t think of anything more pleasant than reading a good book on my patio under an colorful umbrella with a full mug of the brew.

Now that I’m writing full-time, I believe my cup of coffee is the one thing that signals the beginning of a new day. When I’m writing, I lose track of time, forget what day it is, and usually stay in my jammies until noon. But with coffee in my favorite mug, I’ve got the world by the tail. I’m ready for whatever the day brings. . . that is, until the brew turns cold.

My coffee turning cold is the biggest hardship of this career. As I focus and create my lines, my brew sits abandoned. In revolt, of me neglecting it, the hot brew turns into iced as a punishment for my neglect.

I’ve tried an electric cup heater thingy, but all that does is make the coffee muddy and bitter. Yuck! I’ve tried putting it in a carafe, but it does not stay hot for long periods of time. The best solution for keeping  my cup of inspiration hot has been my husband, who asks me several times a morning if I could use a warm up.

My practical side assures me writing is like all jobs; there will be a part of it I don’t like and would rather not do. Having my coffee turn into an iced beverage before my eyes is the drawback of focusing, like all writers must. I lose time as I transport myself to other surroundings and time periods, I guess I can’t expect my coffee to wait for me as I do my exploring., but if somebody could come up with a device to let my coffee transport with me, he or she would be a millionaire.

Until then,  ‘ll just have to grin and gulp it. It seems to be the only answer.

 

Get What You Want Creatively

thinking out of the boxWhen I was in college, I majored in English with a writing concentration. At the time, I wanted to be a business writer, but  the university I attended didn’t offer such a specific specialization.

I also was determined to leave college prepared for the workforce. In my instance, that meant I needed to graduate with a professional portfolio of my writing.

With the help of my adviser, I created my own major. (Not really, but it sounds great, doesn’t it?) Actually, what I did was create a way to receive the practical education I needed through 18 credits of internship.

It took me a year and a half to accomplish this feat. Step-by-step, I moved toward my goal. The first step was to write, edit, and develop an English Department monthly newsletter. This simple on-campus publication gave me interviewing practice and a bit of desk-top publishing experience. Believe it or not, this newsletter was good enough to secure a freelance job at one of the big companies in Racine, producing a monthly employee newsletter–before graduation! 

The next step was securing a paid internship at a national communication company as a staff writer. Here I learned to work as a member of a cohesive team. I was assigned small projects, but I did get a chance to write; they didn’t make me file and copy stuff. When the internship was almost over, I received my first baptism by fire. I was hired as one of five writers who wrote, rewrote, and developed materials for an Amoco Training Program. Talk about the Big Time!  I learned about tight deadlines and professional expectations. After the project was over, I even got a raise from $5 to $7/hr. Don’t laugh. That was BIG money for a student in the 1980s.

In May, 1991, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin with my diploma in one hand and my professional writing portfolio in the other. (Here we do the dance of joy!)

So why am I going on about this?

Simple. I’m giving you advice–if you want it. If not, stop reading here.

If you’re backed into any corner, look for the creative way out. (I believe “thinking out of the box” has become trite, but if that works for you, so be it.) Maybe the conventional way of doing things doesn’t work for you, so come up with something different.  If you have a book that needs to be published, and perhaps the traditional publishing route hasn’t worked for you or you desire more creative control over your work, look for other avenues of publishing. We authors have a myriad of choices now, and consequently, there are probably more new books out “there” than at any other time.

Listen, I would love to get rich from my writing, who wouldn’t? But more importantly, I want people to know I’m a good storyteller. I think I created something they might enjoy. And I’m willing to work hard to let them know about my writing. If I have to levitate out of the corner a traditional publishers offers, I’m ready. How about you?

 

Déjà vu Dances

Happy Sunday morning everyone! I’m sitting in front of our space heater that looks like a little fireplace with my loyal Ernie dog sitting beside me. It’s a cozy scene, considering it’s only 29 degrees outside. Today is story day, so here’s the latest installment in “The Collection” that will be published sometime this next year. As always, feedback is welcomed.

Déjà vu Dances

2012 Copyright Barbara Celeste McCloskey

After serving over twenty years of marriage, my husband and I parted. Suddenly, I found myself alone for the first time. There were lots of adjustments. Some good. Some bad. Some easy. Some hard. My two-bedroom apartment, which  I put together with the help of friends and hand-me-down furniture, was very different from a four bedroom house in the country where I had spent most of my adult life. Going to work everyday after a life at home with children was a struggle. But yet, life was good. I didn’t have to referee teenagers who decided to live with their father. I didn’t have to clean up after anyone else, and I didn’t have to watch a television program I wanted to watch. My first year after divorce was a year of solitude and navigating through a new life of different experience, responsibilities, and learning how to cook for one.

The mere mention of the word “dating” paralyzed me. Instead, I went on wonderful trips with two East Coast travel agents who befriended me, and I had a wonderful time running away from my reality a week at a time. We traveled to places I never thought I would have a chance to see, as we cruised through the Caribbean, island after island spending hours at a beach, enjoying “girl time,” and the attention of the exotic men who were at our beck and call.

After a year of solitude and escapism, though, I decided I didn’t want to live out the second half of my life alone in a two-bedroom apartment with my cat Henry. If I didn’t do something soon,  I knew I had to make a change, but I didn’t have a clue what to do.

During that first year, I watched four of my friends, who got divorced around the same time I did, struggled with re-entry into this strange world of middle-age dating. Babs plunged forward within a few weeks after her divorce, joining a separated and divorced group in Milwaukee. Connie built a life with her golden retriever and two cats, while Jenny decided she would rather center her life on her career.

Babs always wanted me  to go with her to one of her dances. She argued I had loved dancing in school and that hadn’t changed. And she was right. I did love dancing. Dancing until dawn on the cruise ships had been a blast. How could this be different?  So, I agreed to go.

When “D” Day – dance day—arrived, I primped like a teenager, trying on every piece of clothing I owned. My bedroom was strewn with my entire wardrobe, and I realized I only owned “nine to five” suits and a couple of pairs of ratty jeans. The closest thing to a party dress I had was a plain, black, A-line, dress I had wore for my aunt’s funeral.

Babs picked me up around 7:30 p. m. to drive the 40 miles to the dance. As we zoomed along the freeway, she laid down the “rules of engagement” for the evening. “You remember why we’re going to this dance, right?”

“Sure, we’re going to dance and have fun.” I smiled innocently.

“Besides that?”

I was confused, “I didn’t know there was a ‘besides that’ connected with our night out.”

She spoke like an Army DI prepping a grunt for combat. “We’re also going to meet ‘new people.’”

“What new people?”

“Men, stupid. I don’t want you hanging around me. You go your way, and I’ll go mine.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “You mean the minute we enter the door you’re going to abandon me?”  If I had known this, I would have stayed home and watched “I Love Lucy” reruns.

“You’re a big girl. Don’t make it sound like I’m putting you on a doorstep.”

“Well, that’s what it feels like.”

“I want you to mingle. Walk up to people. Make small talk. Jump in the pool.” She took a breath and changed lanes. “Believe me, this is the best way. I’ve tried going with other girlfriends who stuck to me like glue, and I didn’t get a chance to dance with a guy all night. The last thing I want to do is to end up dancing with you.”

I looked out the window at the darkness and mumbled, “So much for a fun time together. I didn’t think we were on a guy reconnaissance mission.”

“Sometimes you are so ridiculous.”

A few minutes later, Babs turned into a church parking lot. “We’re here!” She unbuckled her seat belt and made a beeline toward the door. She turned and motioned for me to follow her.

I pulled up the hood on my coat, put my head down to enter combat, and bravely fought the winter wind as my feet crunched through the hard, Styrofoam snow to a door marked, “S & D Dance.” I followed Babs down a beige, parochial school hallway and hung our coats on hooks on the wall. Then Babs swished over to the sign-in table. She handed a gray-haired man with wireless glasses a $10 bill. “Two,” she said, then slapped a stick-on name tag on my chest that simply said, “Barb”

We walked through the gymnasium door and cigarette smoke hovered overhead like a fog. Paper streamers had been strung from the ceiling. A stale beer smell completed this “grown-up” high school event. Babs ushered me over to a group of mixed company announcing, “Hi guys – I want you to meet Barb.”

“Hi, Barb!” they yelled in unison. When I heard their chorus, all I could think of was the Cheers sitcom bar group yelling, “Norm!!”

Babs said. “It’s her first dance,” She poked a guy with black, slicked-back hair, “so be nice!”

The greasy guy smiled at me as if to say, “Mmmm. Fresh meat.”

I forced a smile and excused myself, saying I needed a drink.

I walked over to the window where the drinks were being served. I smiled at the guy and said, “I’ll have a Coke, please.” Without looking at me, he grabbed the soda hose and pushed the “Coke” button.

“That’s a buck,” he said, pushing the soda toward me without looking.

I paid him and found an empty table on the periphery of the dance floor to watch the crowd. By now, the lights had been turned down low the room was completely dark except for the colored floodlights that were behind the four-piece band. A balding, pot-bellied Mick Jagger wannabee took hold of the microphone and started screaming, “I Can’t Get No, Sat-Tis-Fac-Tion.” Suddenly, the room erupted. Males who had been plastered against the wall, grabbed female partners who were lined up on the opposite wall. They hit the dance floor wiggling, shaking, and jerking to the familiar sounds of the 1960s.

As I watched them, I felt like I had been plopped down in an episode of the Twilight Zone. Babs scowled at me as she hopped and flailed with the rest of the crowd. She whispered something into her partner’s ear after the song ended and came over to me.

“Is this what you’re going to do all night? Sit on the sidelines and watch? Get out there and dance! Go ask somebody!”

Just then the drummer smacked his sticks together and began the old drum solo of “Wipe Out”

Babs screamed, “My favorite!” She hustled over to a wallflower gigolo dressed in a polyester leisure suit and began wiggling, while he jerked like he was having a convulsion. But the pounding beat of this “oldie” made my lonely feet under the table tap out the beat.

A 50-year old hippie with shoulder length gray hair came toward my table, and I prayed, “Oh, God, please – no.”  Thankfully, he grabbed the hand of another woman sitting next to me and pulled her out on to the floor, as the drummer went into a frenzy as he pounded out the drum solo.

After the song ended, the crowd dispersed to their boy and girl groups on opposite walls again. I wondered whether high school routines every died.

Then it happened. I felt a tap on my shoulder. After the hippie and the guy with slick-backed hair, I held my breath and turned around. There stood a good-looking man dressed in a business suit. He smiled. “Hi, my name is Jim. Would you like to dance?”

The band was playing, “Do You Love me, Surfer Girl?” With relief, I answered, “Sure.”

After the dance was over, he said, “Can I buy you a drink?”

“That would be nice.” We walked hand-in-hand to the guy pouring sodas at the window.

I danced with Jim for the rest of the evening, and when the band played the last song, Jim twirled me for the final time . Bright lights came on, signaling it was time to leave. We walked to the coat rack, and he slipped my coat over my shoulders. “I had a really nice time tonight, Barb.”

I laughed and said, “You’re my night in shining armor.”

He looked at me with a puzzled look. “How’s that?”

“You saved me,” was all I could say before Babs came busting in between us.

She looked Jim over from top to bottom and said to me, “See, I told you’d have a great time!”

I just glared at her. Jim broke the silence and said to me, “I hope I see you at the next dance.” He turned and left.

I smiled and said, “Maybe.”

Even though Jim had salvaged a dreary evening, I vowed there would be no “next dance.” It broke my heart to see so many broken souls trying so hard to relive their “glory days” of high school, as they faked having a good time.

I turned to Babs and said, “Don’t you feel like you’re experiencing Déjà vu?”

She looked at me like I was speaking a language she didn’t understand. “What?”

“All evening I feel like I’ve been sent back in time.”

“You watch too much Star Trek. But then, you always have some smartass comment to make, don’t you?”

“Excuse me?”

Babs blasted me. “Why is it so hard for you to try something new? Why do you have to put me down because I love to come to these dances?”

“You call this new? This dance was anything but new! Dancing to same music, in the same way we did when we were 16 years old is just a little too weird.”

Babs shot back. “So you didn’t have a good time?”

“It was okay.” It was really horrible except for meeting a nice man like Jim.

“You’re hopeless. Let’s just go home.” Babs turned in disgust and hustled into the frigid night.

As we rode in silence, I felt a little sorry for her. I had spoiled her good time. I should never have let her talk me into going to this ridiculous dance. Right now watching a rerun of Star Trek, eating a bag of microwave pop corn with my cat Henry sitting on my lap sounded like a much better alternative to what I had just endured. At least those time-continuum stories didn’t leave me feeling like an old fogie whose glory days were in the rear-view mirror.

Teaching Inspiration — Is it Impossible?

This morning I have been researching ways I might be able to light a fire under my writing class. I  know writing can be at hard at times, but I also know the joy of writing a piece that touches others. I’m passionate about writing. Writing is like breathing for me. So how do I pass this knowledge on to a reluctant class who all have all landed in my class because they are poor writers? I recognize when I need help.

The “Busy Teacher” website has given me some ideas to try. One thing is group work. I’ve avoided  team work because I have such a wide variety of ages and skill levels. The website claims that student interaction will help them get excited. I don’t know. I always hated group work when I was in school because I ended up doing most of the work.  But this class is a challenge, and I am determined not to fail them, so I will try it.

My students believe writing and learning grammar rules are exercises they have to endure in order to do what they really want to do. It’s my job to brand in their brains that writing —no matter what they choose to do — is also something they will have to do. First of all, they will have to write a resume and cover letter to get a job. Once they get the job, they will be expected to communicate in email and other correspondence to people with whom they work. They might have to write reports detailing a situation or a problem. They might also have to write a letter of resignation. But right now, the only thing my class sees is a grade at the end of  sixteen weeks.

I must admit I am frustrated by their blank stares, and I’m almost at the point of not wanting to face them twice a week. I’ve never had such an unmotivated class in my whole teaching experience. By now, I’ve always inspired several students to want to write more than what required for an assignment. But not this class.

So, every Monday and Wednesday evening, I stand in front of their blank stares with enthusiasm, hoping for a miracle–that a few will follow me down a writing path.  Until I find the answer, I keep telling myself, “They are not lazy; I just haven’t inspired them yet!”

Anybody else have such difficulty with students? What do you do when faced with such indifference? I’m all ears!