You’ve finished your first movies… please write about how composing in a digital medium is the same or different (or both) from composing in your notebook or drafting on paper. Think about connections to the writing process: brainstorming/prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, last drafts, rereading, rethinking, adding, deleting, and then that last, most important thing: finding joy in your work. Spend 10 minutes on your post… really dig into this topic. I am interested in the connections you’ll make.
So here is the text of what we created in class on Friday… your lines are here in the order that Matt and Kalin put them on our board. Your mission is to consider line breaks. How should we format this? Cut and paste this into your comment and then add in the line breaks and let’s see what happens… go poets. Have a great vacation!
Wake up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday summer morning and run ‘til your thoughts and questions are answered to the rhythm of your dog panting beside you. Walk, run, have a ball, but watch out for the pot holes or you may fall. Listen to the music you love, and don’t be afraid to sing along. Learn to love the way that everyone should; with an open heart and an open mind. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind and express your feelings. Be what you want, not what you’re told. Don’t lie; someone will find out. Treat others with respect. Thank the ones who deserve it. Cherish your family, your friends, and also your enemies—they make you strive even harder. Laugh all the time, anytime when you need to when you want to even when you shouldn’t. Be a concrete you, but with a clay soul, able to be shaped and molded everyday. Further your education; go to school and try your best, do something you love as a career, not something that makes you 200k a year. Get involved in things you like, but don’t let it take over your life. Treat people fairly and follow the golden rule. Follow the people you look up to. Fly fish with someone special and you should never have a bad time. If you do, you’re doing it wrong. Eat what you want; just remember that the decisions you make will be the outcome of what you look like. Live life on the edge; open your mind. Just let some things happen. End the day as the light begins to fall into the blackness of night in silence with your notebook. Listen to the creak of a wooden stair or the wind’s shudder against a window. Write your life. Keep it real.
DRAFT 10… okay, here it goes. I tried to make the ending more clear by rewriting the entire piece. I think it is better, but still needs work. Can you help me by reading and let me know if it is clear? What strikes you? What is confusing? Thank you.
This summer Pat and I drove the Oregon Coastal Highway on a cloudless day. We stopped at least a dozen times, becoming tourists in our home state: in line for salt water taffy, taking pictures at the Devil’s Punch Bowl, hours of remembering trips with our families over time. We were headed for North Bend where I was born, where my mother was raised on a farm, where my father lived with his grandparents. That old, dying mill town, stuck in the 1950’s; it preserves my parents’ younger years in the hard beauty of one corner of Oregon.
We stopped at Horse Fall Beach, right before you cross the Coos Bay and head into North Bend beneath a welcome sign unchanged since I watched it through a back seat window as we drove towards Grandma’s. I had a new reason for visiting: Mom says when she dies I am to mingle their ashes and toss them into the water here at this beach. It was a short hike over the dunes to where driftwood littered the sand; and it was so familiar, that I swear we picnicked beside this very log. I take in the sweep of the landscape in a glance, returning to the car before sorrow can overtake me.
Next we followed Mom’s directions to the farm on Lars Inlet. It was just as she described, only smaller: a few cows, a shelter her father had built for waiting for the school bus, a small house on a hill above the pasture. I smiled. She lived here—that sweet child in braids ran on this ground, carried home her school books to this house, learned to drive on the road we sat idling on. We had to leave too soon, but I felt centered knowing I’d touched my past in some small way.
We used a map to find the cemetery. First a drive by my grandparents’ house, the birdhouses, goldfish pond, and berry vines buried beneath the pavement of a school parking lot, past the church where they married, the theatre where they had their first date, and then a hard right turn up the hill to the house at Sunset Hills Cemetery that holds the records of who is buried there.
“I’m looking for a grave and I don’t believe it has a name,” I said to the woman behind the counter. “My brother was buried here as an infant, before they named him,” I continued. She gave me a sympathetic grimace, but shook her head.
I printed my parents’ names on scrap paper. She went to a room at the back and returned with an index card. The details were printed in fine, even letters: $15 burial, $15 internment, $15 casket, paid in cash April 17, 1961. She pointed us towards the infant cemetery and counted headstones in from the tree of wind chimes left by mourners.
In moments I was kneeling beside a weathered marker, tracing our baby son with one finger, while I held back weeds and brushed the grit from between the letters. In a cool breeze that pulls off the Pacific Ocean, the chimes played one and then another, a haunting, soothing whisper of longing: a lullaby for infants we cannot reach on this steep hillside just above the coastal highway. I was struck by the image of a fragile skeleton huddled six feet below me; I could see curled fingers resting against a tiny skull. I would gather him against my chest if only I could reach him. I know he is bones, or dust; the decades must have eaten his fragile coffin. But I could see him.
I stood and let my eyes take in the stark, simple beauty of this corner of Oregon: dark forests, decaying lumber mills, quiet roads. I imagine my brother’s burial with my father and grandmother watching his coffin sink to earth.
A town of ghosts; why am I here?
Sleep has kept its distance in the months since my father’s been gone. I wake in the black silence of night, knowing I should have called one more time. I walk out into our driveway clutching my robe in both hands, and I spin beneath the stars. In all of night’s still beauty he might be keeping watch.
I knew I would lose him, I could feel it happening, but I still can’t right myself now that he is gone. He would come here to North Bend, I think as I stare into the hills, searching for evidence in the descending night.
He has to be somewhere.
I have to find him.
An hour ago I drove by our old house at the peak of a hill in the center of town. I remembered pushing open a gate and walking across sand to the water. Memory is slippery, but I suddenly felt the chill of sand beneath my bare feet and the wind blowing my hair into spikes against my cheek. I remembered the muffled call of seagulls and the roar of the ocean meeting the shore. I could almost feel my dad walking me to the surf to fish, holding both rods in one hand, his other closing around my tiny fingers as I skipped to keep up. And then it comes. In a rush. First this whispered story across time, then a long, tortured howl for today. I reach for him and feel the vacancy. I’m the balloon let go from careless hands, careening off into the sky without direction until I reach the upper atmosphere and explode into fragments.
He let go; I can’t sustain myself.
My knees shake as we walk to the car. The next morning I can’t bear to leave. I want to ask Dad about burying his only son. I want him to take me around this town and tell me stories. I’ll listen well this time, I promise. Perhaps there are right ways to grieve, and I just can’t find them. I circle the same thoughts: I’ll never be anyone’s little girl. No one will call me Penny Pooh, Penny Poodle-do. We had a relationship forged in fire and loss—missed years—which made each moment poignant as his health failed. As I sat by his bed in intensive care he reminded me, “Penny, my Penny, you are so precious.”
I face the Oregon Coast Range, remote and still, between the fast-moving Umpqua River where we once baited hooks to catch summer steelhead, and the middle fork of the Coquille River where as an eager boy he ran along its banks. I want those moments back. I feel the breeze swoop around me and hear the long, slow cry of a gull as it rises out of sight.
We’re making mini-movie commentaries in class this month… so it makes me wonder, how are you using technology out of class?
And here’s another question… how are we missing out on smart ways to bring that technology into school? Are there connections to subjects that we haven’t thought of? You know we have lots of computers and access in this school, but we probably could be more creative in use. What would you suggest?
DRAFT 9…I’m struggling with this writing. Could you read through and tell me what’s working and where you’re confused? I’d like feedback on any of it, but am most concerned with my ending. Tell me what you think is happening in my ending. I think I might be vague here. Thank you!
I imagine a fragile skeleton huddled six feet below me; I see curled fingers resting against a tiny skull. I could gather him against my chest if only I could reach him. I know he is bones, or dust; the decades must have eaten his fragile coffin. But I can see him.
I crouch at his grave in the late afternoon light of July. I run my fingers across his headstone, tracing our baby son as I brush the grit from between the letters and push back weeds. I listen to faint tin melodies from a tree of wind chimes just behind my left shoulder. In the cool breeze that pulls off of the Pacific Ocean, they play one and then another, a haunting, soothing whisper of longing: a lullaby for infants we cannot rock to sleep on this steep hillside just above the coastal highway.
I stand and turn towards the car. I let my eyes take in the hard beauty of this corner of Oregon: forests, lumber mills, a dying town. I can see my parents here as teenagers; I see my brother’s burial with my father and grandmother watching his coffin sink to earth. A town of ghosts, why am I here?
It has only been nine weeks, but I feel so alone without my father. I knew I would lose him, I could feel it happening, but I still can’t right myself now that he is gone. I’ve come searching for him in the town where he met my mother, where he pitched a no-hitter for his high school team, where he lived as a young boy with his grandparents. I know I’m looking for him, imagining he has flown here from that hospital bed in Portland. He might be fishing at Horsfall Beach; he might be driving past The Egyptian Theatre where he took my mom on their first date. He has to be somewhere. I have to find him.
An hour ago I drove by our old house at the peak of a hill in the center of town. I remembered pushing open a gate and walking across sand to the water. Memory is slippery, but I suddenly felt the chill of sand beneath my bare feet and the wind blowing my hair into spikes against my cheek. I remembered walking towards the muffled call of seagulls and the roar of the ocean meeting the shore. I could almost feel my dad walking me to the surf to fish, holding both rods in one hand, his other closing around my tiny fingers as I skipped to keep up. And then it comes. In a rush. First this whispered story across time, then a long, tortured howl for today. I reach for him and feel the vacancy.
Sleep has kept its distance. I wake to blackness and clear skies and the haunting of the night he died, knowing I should have called one more time. I walk out into my driveway clutching my robe in both hands, and I spin beneath the stars. In all of this still beauty he might be keeping watch.
Perhaps there are right ways to grieve, and I just can’t find them. I circle the same thoughts. I’ll never be anyone’s little girl. No one will call me Penny Pooh, Penny Poodle-do. We had a relationship forged in fire and loss—missed years—which made each moment more poignant as his health failed. Even in intensive care he reminded me, “Penny, my Penny, you are so precious.”
I said I was ready. But today I am hollow, trying to answer questions I neglected to ask. I face the Oregon Coast Range, remote and still, between the fast-moving Umpqua River where we once baited hooks to catch summer steelhead, and the middle fork of the Coquille River. I want those moments back.
I call to the hills, You were most precious. I wish I’d known you better. I feel the breeze swoop around me and hear the long, slow cry of a gull in flight.
In class today Lacey mentioned that between the dress code and all of the handbook rules, the school was not a very humane place. What do you think about that? Which rules are the most aggravating and least important in your mind? What revisions would you make to the handbook?
After the Millen Stadium dedication and the impressive start to the football season, it is hard not to be filled with Eagle spirit around here. Yesterday’s field hockey game was awesome… and the band’s performance at half time at the dedication is still being talked about. Homecoming will be Oct. 17th with the famous powderpuff football game and the two-time defending champion faculty team holding its own…
sound off about school spirit… what are you thinking?
I started reading Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon on the first day of class and I’m only about 20 pages in. At home I’m reading something else, so I am making slow progress so far in class. It’s a series of letters between a kid in jail and his girlfriend. I like the format since letters are so easy to read and personal, but the story doesn’t have me yet. I’m hoping to get through more of it and be unable to put it down. What are you reading?
I hope you’ll click on the School Library Journal web site and watch the interview with Markus Zusak, the author of The Book Thief. He’s interesting and he gave me several new insights on the book. Enjoy summer! Please log in when you’ve started reading and let me know what you think.
We are going to use this link to discuss Nickel and Dimed and The Book Thief. I have read both more than once, but for our discussion I’m going to read them both again. I have to say, I’m looking forward to it. I just want you to post some of your thinking about the book you’re reading. What do you notice? What do you wonder about? What do you question? Anything goes… as long as it is school appropriate (please) and honest.
The Book Thief was one of my favorite books from last year and I just watched a cool interview with the author on the School Library Journal web site. If I’m smart I’ll figure out how to link that video to this blog, but in case I don’t… go to the site and search for Marcus Zusak interview. He talks about the writing and the thinking that went into choosing the narrator. He rewrote the first 100+ pages 150-200 times he says! So that’s what it takes to write something so incredible. I wish I’d written it.
Nickel and Dimed is required reading for seniors because you all take Economics this year. In this book the author tries an experiment. She moves to three different parts of the country and tries to get by on minimum wage. It is called a ‘living wage’ in our country, and she went out to test that premise. I found it excruciating at times to read. The maid in Portland, ME who eats a bag of chips because that’s all she can afford… how hard people work with so little financial reward. How great the challenges are to stay afloat without health care, permanent housing, etc. I look forward to hearing what you think about the book.
Check in when you can, post what you’re thinking, and I’ll see you in August!