28. Lopsided pros and cons
Break, emojis, analysis
What I’m up to
This is going to be a short one because it is winter break! Next week, I’ll send out my 2021 Top 10 lists in lieu of a regular newsletter.
I now have yet another semester (my 13th!) under my belt.
Our first week of break is almost over, but I have been teaching a writing class to middle schoolers from 8 - 12 every day, so it hasn't been restful per se. It is still a nice reprieve from normal life. We’ve been able to sneak in some vacation activities in the afternoons and evenings, like naps (lol) and trips to the movie theatre (to see Spiderman: No Way Home) and the bookstore.
On Christmas Day, we will host an open house brunch for our community, then we will pack for a brief trip north. We are going to try chasing the snow!
What I’m reading
Boy by Roald Dahl out loud to my class.
Checking out World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Filipina-American writer Aimee Nezhukumatathil. It’s an illustrated collection of essays about animals and plants, which together form a lovely memoir.
I also borrowed Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman from the library. Sounds like a solid New Year pick.
What I’m thinking about
We are likely going to move next year, back to the old staff housing building (where we lived before). The girls (meaning Anna) have been begging for their own rooms, and the only way this is possible is to move to the old building. We wrote a very lop-sided pros and cons list, and ultimately, the only pro (Anna gets her own room) outweighed the host of cons.
It has been a huge family debate, whether or not to move. Paul was, at first, super resistant, whereas I was game. We ended the conversation at an impasse; then, in true “Gift of the Magi” fashion, we both spent the next day reconciling ourselves to the other’s point of view, returning with completely reversed positions. Now Paul is up for moving, and I really want to stay! 😫 *
I like changing things up and don’t mind packing/unpacking, but I’m really, really sad about moving. We have lived in this apartment for five years, longer than any other home I’ve lived in my entire life.
*I had to consult with Anna about the appropriate emoji for this. I wanted to use this: 🥴, but she vetoed it, saying “that’s what you use when someone’s drunk or when you want to make fun of people who are trying to look cool.”
What I’m learning
I almost said, “Nothing; I’m on break” but that would not be very life-long-learner-y of me.
What I am learning is that I have forgotten how challenging it can be to motivate middle schoolers (especially when they would rather be sleeping in during vacation ← valid).
I’m also learning that I have a very real functional limit. When I am at that limit, I will literally pass out (and take a nap) instead of doing even fun things.
Finally, I’m learning (again) how much easier it is for students to accept the concept of “author’s purpose/craft” when discussing movies (as opposed to books). Students have no problem understanding that a director intentionally decided on the details of the opening scene (including pace, lighting, sound, time of day, etc.) but it’s much harder for them to comprehend that an author has also done so. This tracks with my AP Lit experience: I credit our school’s media teacher M for the fact that former media students who join AP Lit get the hang of literary analysis extra quickly.
What I’m doing
Last-minute Christmas shopping. We put in an Amazon order, but those gifts won’t arrive until after Christmas (oops), so I did a bit more shopping yesterday to ensure our kids will have something to open Christmas morning! (2/3 of my family members read this newsletter, so I will not divulge what everyone’s getting until next week.)
Still wearing dresses every single day (for Dressember), and it’s getting challenging! The discomfort reminds me to think about what this challenge is for - raising awareness and money to support victims of human trafficking.
What I’ve saved
Spice blends experts swear by. (Huffington Post)
Do you feel like your brain is kind of broken? (New York Times)
Ted Lasso Christmas special. (via Kottke)
Super helpful resource via my friend D: how to talk about autism.
Why movie dialogue has gotten harder to understand — I’ve 100% noticed this! (Slash Film)
This beautiful poem by A, looking ahead to spring: “And when the stream dries, / and even the ink runs light, / I’d still trace poems for you in the snow / Until there’s none left to write”
Wishing you joy and peace,