Homework—mine

I have been taking writing classes for a while now, and where there once was a vague story line has turned into a memoir and two fiction proposals. I would like to say at least one is outlined, but writing is hard. It takes a lot of discipline and concentration. If you’ve tried it, you know.

The IMG_0704scary part is having someone else read it! Of course, I’m talking about stepping out there on the teeniest branch of the tree and handing a flash drive to a stranger. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but even a lot of my friends and contacts on Facebook (including students) do not know what I am doing. Hell, I’m not sure what I am doing. Some days I wake up with the Bad Critic standing over me, laughing.

“Seriously?” he says. “What makes you think you can do anything? A book?” and then he laughs so hard, he falls off the bed, and I put the pillow over my face and try to stay in bed.

I get up, though. Some mornings it takes everything I’ve got to put my feet on the floor. But my new part time job is helping. I’m teaching 4-5-year-olds English online. I have to get up at 5 or 6 because they live in China. I know, I said I wasn’t going to teach ESL anymore, but these little guys are funny, and I get to be funny, too. They call me Teacher Sonya, or just Teacher (which is a respectful title in Asia), and usually, by the time I get done with the first class, I’ve put the Bad Critic into a garment bag and zipped him up. Oh, he’ll figure out how to get out, but not for a while, and he doesn’t dare show his face while I’m teaching online.

Yes, I know it’s a circus act, but you remember my depression? It can’t hold on to me while I’m singing the ABC’s to a five-year-old online. So far I’ve taught 47 students. And now the circle of my ESL teaching is complete. Primary School through High School. Some days I wonder how I do it.

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

Hair Washing. Or Not.

Example of a girl who needs a “mom.”

Reina has beautiful dark brown hair. Long and silky. And then, for some reason I never figured out, she stopped washing it. I wanted to ask her if she needed something. Shampoo? And I don’t mean this is a mean way, but before I got the chance, the counselor told me there was something going on at home that she couldn’t share with me. Okay, I’m just glad I’m not the counselor. I wouldn’t be able to stay out of problems.

Ah, well. Leave it to one of the boys to say something blunt:

“Hey, Reina. Why doncha wash that stinky hair? Damn.”

Laughter.

Reina turned pink. Got out of her seat and steadily walked over to the sink and rinsed her hair in cold water, pumped out some hand soap, and washed her hair.

The class was in stitches. The art teacher kept saying, “Oh my god oh my god,” as Reina dried her long hair with school scratchy paper towels.

The art room sink, with bowls full of colored water and half-washed brushes, and globs of blue and red paint streaking the sink.

Reina’s hair was clean. Somewhat.

You Have to Write Badly

Agreed. I’ve done it. I still do it. Maybe this is bad. But I am writing a Young Adult book. No vampires. No unicorns or princesses. Maybe a little love, just a little. But it’s a real high school, and it’s got violence and grit, maybe more than some people would be comfortable with.

As for princesses and love. I can’t write them. I tried in a writing class, and I ended up with a dark story…no good.

I’m good at real, or close to real. I have seen what I write, but I also can imagine things. Things that happen behind the scenes that no one is supposed to know about.

Are you curious?

The photo is of four teen boys, hanging out in front of a store, smiling. and relaxed.
Not Their Fault

The Call at the Door: 10:35 pm

I have a little book in front of me titled The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing. It’s written by Monica Wood, and and I got it because a fiction professor told me it would help me get in the mind of a fiction writer. I’m supposed to be writing fiction; in fact, by the end of next summer, I will, let me say that again, I will have a young adult novel completed. (That doesn’t mean I’ll be published. That’s a whole bag of Pandora’s worms!) Okay, let’s stick to what we’re doing here. The Pocket Muse has unusual ideas for writing starts, so honestly, I just opened the book and there it was:

“An unwanted stranger comes to your door.”

This is the third year living in the city, so I have had election people, people who want me to change my electricity supplier, people who are lost, the plumbers, and then a few nights ago, as I sat cutting out alphabet letters for my students, someone jerked my front screen door open. This happened behind my back, literally, so I jumped and had that front door unbolted because I saw it was a kid.

I just caught the back of her as she ran up the street cackling, but I got enough of a look to realize it was one of my former students, one I used to mentor, one who left and came back when she was caught in a fight on Market Street, (and winning, apparently). I knew she’d try again, so I opened my front door, put a mean teacher look on my face, and there she was.

Marta.

“Ah, hahahaha!” she hollered, and off she went.

(Truthfully, I was glad to see she’s gotten braces.)

Sadly, her hair was a mess, as though she hadn’t washed it in days and because I have a strong front porch light, I could see her eyes were big as dark moons.

I shook my head. Drugs. Then I locked my screen and front doors and went to bed.

Marta wasn’t unwelcome, but there was nothing I could do for her. Unless she came back. I’m waiting.

And the Internet Won…

See? It’s already up? However, this morning, just before 8 am EST, just as I clicked the button to start my Class (with a new student), I had no internet. The student was there. I had said “Hello,” and…Crash! It was my fault, Admiral Obvious told me many many times:

“You have no internet.” “Your student is waiting.” “Try another classroom line.” “You have no connection.” “This is another line, and you do not have internet.”

By this time I am frantic, and Yes I know “I Have No Internet!” What I do have is three minutes, now two, to get online somehow. If I cannot connect in time, the class will be canceled. Wait! I have my phone. I press the button the use it as temporary WiFi, but just as I get it loaded, time’s up! .

I am a new teacher to this learning platform, and I have spent weeks learning how to teach from a little square box on the screen. It took over ten trials until I passed the internet test. Am I getting out of hand here? Probably, but now I will worry for a while as the seconds count down to another class.

People, (you know, they) say it’s good for you to work outside of the box. I am working inside a little box.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Magnets on Ducks and a New Classroom

Now do not skip to the end of this blog post, not yet. It’s true I have been unemployed, but no longer.

I’m still am ESL teacher! And I teach students one-on-one. I began working toward my certification last November and met the qualification in late January. Today, I have seven bookings with Chinese children, 5-7 years old, and I don’t make up the lesson plans but I do get to play–a lot! Below is a photo of my classroom, minus my laptop and headphones, and toys, and, well you get the idea. If you notice on the lower left, there is a stuffed pig in the basket, and he is named Mr. Pig. (overly creative, right?) It is the Chinese Year of the Pig.   Keep checking. The ducks are coming.

Why yes, the owl is wearing a tiara, but I will put it on if one of my girls likes it. I also have a baseball cap.

Please Vote

I was a freshman in college when Watergate finally took Richard Nixon down. I listened to his resignation speech on the radio at my part-time job. In fact, I became a political science major because of what was going on in Washington, D.C., although my family always encouraged me to read the news and keep up with what was going on in the world.

I was in one of the first groups of 18-year-olds to vote for the first time!

And now, when the world seems to be in constant turmoil, the one thing we can positively do as American citizens is vote! Please do not think your vote doesn’t matter because it does. Every vote matters.

I will not use my blog to promote politics, because we each have a right to our own opinions, and I am not judging anyone’s free speech. However, I do think we have a responsibility as citizens to go to the polls. Today is the last day of September. The days are moving quickly.

Mark your calendar for Tuesday, November 6 and vote.