Friday, September 30, 2011

1 morning, 10 sentences, 2 poems

In my freshman English class, we were told to write down at least 10 sentences about how we felt on Wednesday morning.

I wrote:

This morning I am cheerful despite the grumpy weather.
This morning I find it ironic that I'm wearing a sun activated shirt on a cloudy day.
I would love to declare this morning, "Class Nap" day.
It was hard to roll out of bed, the warm sheets kept calling me back to sleep.
It was surprisingly easy to get my boys out of bed.
I love morning hugs!!
Especially from my kids.
I feel giggly and silly.
I feel like I've had enough writing~ my hand is starting to cramp.
I'm irritated to hear the a/c and lights running and the rain rattling on the ducts.
I'm ready to get on with today's "to do's".

Then he told us we needed to turn them into poems.

Here's poem #1:

Early Morning English Class,
On a Wet and Rainy Wednesday

by Janin Wise

My feelings pooled in a puddle
for the next unsuspecting passerby
to step in
with their mesh-top tennyshoes.

Aw, man!

My irony
squishes between your toes.
My sleepy
soaks through your socks.
My cheerful
slips into the crevices,
squeaking with every step.

But all you feel
is the wet and the icky.

Is it an Irritation?
An Interruption?
An Inconvenience?

Or is it an opportunity?

Will you
take off your shoes
and come puddle stomping
with me?

Then we can both
be giggly and silly.
Then we can both be cheerful
...despite the grumpy weather.

And poem #2:

The Last Rainy Morning of September

by Janin Wise

despite the grumpy weather.
by delicious irony.

I am giggly and silly.

Warm sheets call,
"Come back to bed!"
Let's declare it,
"Class Nap" day!

I am giggle and silly.

Alas, it's time for
"Up and at 'em!"
But at least it comes
with little boy hugs!

I am giggly and silly.

Rain rattles
and soaks through
my tennyshoes:
icky and wet.

Now I am ready to get on with today's "To Do's".

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Blue Clues, The Homicide Episode

It starts out with snippets of song: " gotta find another paw print, that's the third clue, you put it in your notebook, and you know what to do, sit down in our thinking chair and think...think...thiiiiink." ..."Cause when you use your mind, take a step at a time, you can do --any-thing-- that you wanna do!"

Yup.  The ladies and I in Painting class are singing Blues Clues again.  Because it's really easy to remember.  Because I have a little boy that absolutely adores them.  Because some of my classmates enjoy watching them as well.

And then the conversation turns both humorous and sinister.

If you've watched as much Blues Clues as we have collectively, then you'll remember when Joe replaced Steve on the show.  In reality, the actor playing Steve turned out to be an alcoholic.  Can't have that.  In the story line, Joe says that Steve went away to college.

But it's like an episode of Single White Female:

Same haircut.  Similar green shirt.  Even learning Steven's poses...
One day, Steve's just not there anymore.

But here's Joe.

Living in Steve's house.  Sleeping in Steve's bed.  Using Steve's talking alarm clock.  Playing with Steve's blue puppy dog.  Having breakfast with Steve's talking Spice friends.  Even using Steve's Handy-Dandy Notebook!

Ah!  The signs of success!
We morbidly jest that Steve's body is in a back closet.

Looking a little worried there, Joe, like you've got something to hide...
Then we envisioned them playing a Blues Clues game of "Find Steve!"

Yes, Blue.  Now would be a good time to be worried.
Because, Blue, while you sit on down, and figure it out... Joe will be the kitchen... finding Steve's handy-dandy butcher knife...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Coming Face to Face with Me

I don't often think about the various 'hats' that I wear.  But apparently, while I was sleeping last night, they were on my mind.

I dreamed that I was in a big Cafe.  Someone brought over a container full of miniature banana pudding pies.  When I opened it and began to use them for a demonstration, he told me that I didn't want to do that.  Then a stranger put his hands over my ears and pressed painfully.  I moved his hands and asked why he was hurting me.  He had curly black/brown hair, brown eyes, was slightly tanner than I, claiming to be Cigany and demanding that the pies were $350.  I felt a little ill at that price, but I looked closer and saw an orange sticker on the package proclaiming them $0.99.  I pointed it out and paid him a dollar.  He accepted it, caught in a loophole and said this kind of stealing was a skill of the Cigan, so he was mildly impressed.  I winked and said that I knew.  He asked if I was Cigany.  I said, "Only a very little, from my mother's side."

Then two women walked up, one a pretty dwarf who started telling stories that she'd heard as a child and the other holding her infant son on her hip, talking about getting ready to teach her painting class.  She accidentally wiped paint across her nose.  A third woman walked up and she was a professional painter.  The two women were lamenting getting just the right color and the difficulties of blending.  Before I could join the conversation with fellow artists, someone tapped me on my arm.

I glanced over in distraction and was now sitting on the ground by a chain link fence drinking a glass of iced pink lemonade.  I was sitting with several of my friends from my first time at college from over a decade ago.  We were just visiting and catching up when a group of cheerleaders playing with hat cup and ball toys walked past on the other side of the fence and suddenly, my new Troy friends were there, on the other side of the fence, visiting with us as well.  Then I woke up.

The dream was never threatening or scary.  As I wrote it down, I believe it is a representation of all the aspects of me, meeting and being together at one time:  My SCA persona is Cigany from Hungary in the 1400s.  My being a mother and a story teller.  My goal to be a college art teacher AND a professional artist.  A reminder that my past and my present can coincide, through me.  I woke up and knew that I am alright with me for me, in all the various ways that I am.

...The other thing that I got from this dream was an overwhelming urge to make fried pudding pies.

Going to give this recipe from a try.

Monday, September 26, 2011

“Every Day Use”, Theme in Triplicate

In my freshman English class, our first assignment was to write a paper on one of the short stories that we read.  I chose Alice Walker's "Every Day Use".  (If you click on the title, it will take you to the text.)  Since I tend to share what goes on in my classes, I've decided to include my University writings.

"Every Day Use", Theme in Triplicate

by Janin Wise

Like a fable or fairytale, Alice Walker makes her theme clear to the reader, through the use of her title, “Every Day Use”.  One can infer that she means this theme in three possible ways: Empathetically with the reader, through the use of down to earth and every day language in the text; literally, as shown in the unfolding of the narrative; and symbolically, as represented through the relationship and character of the three family members, the narrator and her two daughters, Dee and Maggie. 
To begin, the reader is invited to empathize and emotionally engage in this short story, with the dedication, “for your grandmamma” (369).  These three words are a direct message to the reader, creating the opportunity to participate on a personal level with the ensuing narrative. The story is told from a first person perspective in short sentences and fairly simple language, denoting the educational level of the speaker.  It also gives the story the feel of having a conversation:  This is a mother sharing her story with a confidant, and that confidant is the reader.
In turn, the title of the short story is revealed when Dee lays claim to the handmade quilts in her mother’s room and her mother informs her that they are for her sister’s wedding.   Dee responds, “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts!” she said, “She’d probably be backward enough to put them to every day use” (375).  Dee is shocked and dismayed by this notion, though her mother is fully supportive of the idea.  Dee considers them priceless heirlooms of their past, and is certain that regular use in their intended purpose will result in them being destroyed.  Her mother points out that it will be alright—Maggie knows how to make more.  When questioned what she would do with them instead, Dee responds that she would repurpose them as decorations to be hung and admired on the wall (375-376).  ‘Every day use’ is literally presented in the text as a discernable difference in the practices of Dee, who would use the quilts as decorations, and Maggie, who would use them for their original function as bedding.
Conversely, Dee is a symbolic representation that intellectual arrogance and the search for false traditions should not trample the real traditions and origins that they spring from.  She is sent off to a school of higher learning while her mother and sister remain largely uneducated (371).  She is willing to accept the education of ‘her oppressors’ but casts off her birth name in favor of an assumed and presumptuous ‘return to her roots.’ 
“You know as well as me you was named after your aunt Dicie,” I said.  Dice is my
sister.  She named Dee.  We called her “Big Dee” after Dee was born.
                        “But who was she named after?” asked Wangero.
                        “I guess after Grandma Dee,” I said.
                        “And who was she named after?” asked Wangero.
                        “Her mother,” I said, and saw Wangero was getting tired.  “That’s about as far
back as I can trace it,” I said.  Though, in fact, I probably could have carried it
back beyond the Civil War through the branches. (373)
She claims the handmade quilts as her own, and disregards that they have been promised to her sister as a wedding present.  Dee shunned them when one was offered to her originally (375).  In pursuing her elitist education, she fails to learn the tradition of making them herself:  She was too good to learn how to make them, and now believes them to be too good to pass on to her sister, who would actually use them.  When her mother takes them away and tells her to choose another, Dee is over the pretense of a nice family visit (376).  The real purpose of her visit is exposed—to take these quilts. 
“You just don’t understand,” she said, as Maggie and I came out to the car.
                        “What don’t I understand?” I wanted to know.
                        “Your heritage,” she said.  And then she turned to Maggie, kissed her, and said,
“You out to try to make something of yourself, too, Maggie.  It’s really a new day for us.  But from the way you and Mama still live you’d never know it.” ( 376)
She fails to recognize that they are living their heritage, while she chooses to walk away from hers and instead create her own from bits and pieces of her choosing, much like the making of quilts from the tatters of older fabrics.
In conclusion, Alice Walker is explicit in her theme when she entitles her short story, “Every Day Use”.   A closer look at the writing style reveals the conversational, ‘every day’ wording used to invite the reader into the story on a more personal level.  The casual observer cannot miss the literal presentation of the title words in the narrative.  And understanding the interplay of the relationship between these three women reveals the symbolic every day use of their heritage… or the utter disregard of those traditions while embracing intellectual arrogance and pretensions of grandeur.

Works Cited
Hacker, Diana and Nancy Sommers. A Writer’s Reference. 7th ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s.
423-487. Print
Walker, Alice. “Every Day Use.”  Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry,
Drama, and Writing. Ed.  J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia, 3rd ed.  New York: Longman,
2010. 369-376. Print.

King of the Quad!!

Or "Fall 2011, the Semester of Playing"

My very first day of class, Mr. Paxson came over, with a single pointer finger extended, slowly reached out, and touched my arm before zipping away proclaiming, "You're It!" on his way out of the building.

I'm telling you now, that moment set the tone for this semester.  In a very fun way.

A couple of weeks ago, my campus started it's own Human vs. Zombies game.  They grew from 20 people to well over 200 participating in less than a 2 week time span!  It's an enormous game of tag.  With socks and nerf guns.  And the next round begins in about a month.

And this past Friday,

I got to play in the quad (:

They had some really fun advertising across campus for it.

I was even crowned King of the Quad,

after being the first to make it all the away around the human sized board game (:  I danced like a robot.  I did the chicken dance.  And all in all, I had a whole lot of fun!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Confessions of an Outdoor Antihorticulturist

Two years ago, I prided myself on starting a garden to make this house 'ours'.

I tried my hand at growing vegetables in containers.  I grew them well enough, but my family wasn't big on eating them.

So last year, I repotted with flowers.  Even set up a flower box around my mail box.  Made sure to plant plenty of bulbs and perennials.  And it was a joy to see them blooming and watch the hummingbirds come to my yard, well into October!  Even set up a shade garden on the side of the house that doesn't get as much sun.

This year, I decided that I was going to let my outdoor plants fend for themselves.  I wanted to see what my 'plant things that will come back' garden would do without the constant attention.  After all, Grandmother's daffodils and snowdrops have come up every year, faithfully, without any help on my part.

I did, however, make sure to water my hanging baskets.

Then, we went away for a week for family vacation in the middle of summer.  My hanging flowers died.  But still, I held out to my original plan of non-intervention.

I am a bad plant Mommy.

And in the end, I have a confession to make:  I let all of them die this year.  My yard is currently littered with sad little plant bodies.

I am a plant murder.

"You say, 'Dead.'  I say, 'Extremely low Maintenance.' "