a letter (to be continued)

Dear _______ ,

I know it’s been a few years, but I was thinking of Charley’s dance class the other day. You know, back in high school, where we each first learned swing and waltz and salsa and all those other dances. Goodness, all those Friday afternoons we spent in that band hall. You boys always vastly outnumbered by the girls! I remember everyone would exclaim whenever a slick, fast new move was demonstrated, especially in the tango. Do you remember when you caught me, that one time I slipped on the corté? The very first time we all tried it? I fell right smack into you. Good thing you were so tall, even then! But your arms caught me in a caring way, and we stayed there for the longest two seconds of my life. Fitting, isn’t it, that we began during the tango? Flared by that encounter, our souls grew together over the next few years. We laced our roots like lovers’ fingers, as slowly as the Old Forest in Middle Earth is said to grow. It turns out that Tom Bombadill couldn’t save us, after all.

We were dancing too the first time I was mad at you. A man twisting a handlebar mustache watched us as you led me onto the Electric Cowboy’s dance floor. I tried to follow your unfamiliar dance leads, but my toes in my gold metallic sandals steadily turned black and blue, and my ego as a ballroom dancer burst into flames. I scowled at you throughout the song and let my restless tongue flame out my mouth like a hideous dragon when we sat down afterward on rickety black wooden stools. Were you trying to make me look like a fool? You know I didn’t learn the two-step with you! Your blue eyes shifted. Puppy dog. I tried not to look. I remember the smell of the beer, the dimness of the room, and which pair of jeans you were wearing. I can’t believe I didn’t know how much of a jerk I was. I peer backward in time and appreciate you.

There are many more memories, of course, to choose from. Do you know, the first kiss I ever received was from you? The stars shone with a fresh, clear energy, and Jack Frost began to nip at our noses. The night’s blue sky cloaked the air above the car whose door you opened for me. The party waited for us inside, but your warm fingers caught my arm to say, thank you for a wonderful night in advance. You had stepped so close, gazing into my grey eyes with yours like deep blue pools, that I stepped back in surprise. Pulling me to you, your lips gave just a peck, but my heart danced the jive around my chest that felt like white feathers caught in a firestorm.

I can still feel your lips lingering on my cheek, even now as a blast of cold winter air sneaks through the door on the coattails of café customers. I’m sitting in a coffee shop instead of the cold apartment that I can’t afford to heat.  Ha, alone in a coffee shop, reminiscing on love… how cliché. It sounds like something from a movie. I bet a movie heroine’s scarf never trails into her latte while she reaches for her journal. I’m near the end of it now. You’re scrawled on nearly every page, bound in ink to the pages containing my life. I wish you could read it, I wish you could understand what I was going through, and I wish you could understand why I was a jerk. I know I probably can’t make you understand, but at least here I can bring myself vindicate my soul.


Classroom full of souls

Distinguishes from all.

Teaching is a sacred endeavor.

One’s soul must be,

In all its glory.

Lightened from the Burden,

My soul gives itself away

And grows.

5 E Lesson Plan

Ok, I know that this is a departure from my usual posts, but I’d like y’all’s input. (Yes, I’m from Texas. Yes, I say y’all. Yes, I know it’s not academic.) Those of you who are teachers, students, or really just anyone with a good head on his shoulders, is this a feasible lesson plan for a class period? What do you think?


Engage (Presentation):

            I read La Oruga Muy Hambrienta (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) by Eric Carle to the students. The book itself will capture their attention: everyone, including high schoolers, loves to be read to; the book has bright colors and might hold fond memories; and they will be thrilled to already know most of the vocabulary. It will be a good review for them too, if they have forgotten. This lesson, therefore, can focus more on verbs. It will be an introductory lesson, not an in-depth one.

Explore & Explain (Attention &Co-construction):

            Use questions – Socratic Method – to co-construct what is different about the verbs, such as, “What’s going on in this story?” “What words were you unfamiliar with?” “Where are the verbs here?” “How do you know they’re verbs?” “Ok, they’re verbs, but what’s different about them than we’ve studied so far this semester?” “Who’s doing the action? (What is the subject?)” “So what’s this saying?” “So if I want to say ‘….’, how would I do that?” Etc.

Explain & Elaborate:

            Explain the endings for –er verbs and have them copy the verb endings chart for “-er” verbs, since “comer” (“to eat”) is the main verb in the story.


Elaborate & Evaluate (Extension):

            Play Pictionary: I have a list of the current unit’s vocabulary words, and an infinitive from their vocabulary is on the power point. Two students from each team come up. I point out a vocabulary word (a noun). They draw the word. The first person to make a sentence with the noun and the correct form of the infinitive on the power point gets a point for their team. If they get the vocabulary and not the verb, they get one point.

I apologize for not posting consistently; the above is what my life currently consists of, although I am researching heroism in the Harry Potter series for a term paper, which is exciting.

Thanks for reading and for your input!


Acrostics: I versus II

Hey, everyone!
     I hope everyone is doing well and has had a wonderful Christmas season. I’ve been mostly resting, catching up with friends, spending a ridiculous amount of money on textbooks, and waiting for the spring semester to begin. It promises to be a very long semester, what with my best friend (http://sparrowsmusings.wordpress.com/) gone to study abroad at Oxford. However, I am grateful beyond grateful for my education and the many wonderful friends I have, both within the English department and outside it! I digress.
     All that said, these next two poems require a bit of explanation. The concept is simple – use the first letters of your name to come up with words that describe you. The first acrostic I wrote at the beginning of my senior year of high school, August 2009, as a get-to-know-you assignment. The second I wrote today, the third of January 2012, just before my fourth semester of college.

(I – 2009)
Consistent and caring
Avid reader
Real and honest
Orchestral music lover and ballroom dancer
Loves making quality friendships
Is a perfectionist
Never wants to be a burden
Excellent hugger

(II – 2012)
Afraid not to know
Results in chaos
Likes the American dream
Notions insubstantial
Emotionally motivated

I wonder, even now, what happened between August 2009 and January 2012. For that there’s a one-word answer: college. At the university, new social, spiritual, and academic situations propelled me to a new self-awareness. Now I don’t mean “self-awareness” in a New Age sense; I just mean that normal process of getting to know oneself. Writing does this to a person. I look back on Acrostic I and realize how prideful I was then. Not to say that I’m not now (everyone has struggles, right?), but I have definitely journeyed far as a person since that high-school me. Professors pushed me to excel beyond anything I had hitherto accomplished. Knowing no one allowed me to make my own friends and a new reputation. New-found independence allowed me to explore spirituality authentically. I suppose I have become more aware of who I really am and what makes me tick.

Have you ever written an acrostic with your name? Have you ever re-read something you wrote and from it learned something about yourself? Post below!

Essay: The Pursuit of Beauty

Amazing scents meander across a well-tended garden with an irresistible and gracious allure toward their sources. Intense colors entrance the eye as the bright flowers’ faces spill eagerly out of their beds. The soil in which they rest is dark, loose, and delightful. Water and nutrients are theirs in abundance, so gaiety also pervades their world. Over time, however, as water evaporates and no gardener replaces it, flowers’ sad heads droop in weary defeat by the acrimonious sun. Their delightful soil beds dry to unsettled dust, suffocating them, and cracks like scars appear in the arid earth. Rain comes and soaks the earth, yet the earth’s scars still remain.

Growing up, I always looked for a beauty which would bring me peace. When I was in elementary school, I looked for it in flowers and nature. Deeply impressed in my childhood memories are a thousand colors and scents. During the sweltering summers, I endlessly ran the wooded trails which surrounded the pond behind my family’s house, braving all spiders, snakes, poison ivy, and thorns in search of every kind of flower my little mind could imagine. It did not matter to me what kinds or colors they were; I came tripping home each afternoon, my clothes streaked with dirt and my blonde hair disheveled, clutching fistfuls of wilted wildflowers and weeds. I held them out, my chest puffed with pride, for my mother to gaze at before I eagerly searched in the wooden cabinet underneath the kitchen sink for a vase to display my treasures. Placing them in the very center of the worn kitchen table, I would gaze in awe of how the brilliant summer sunlight shone on them through the two huge windows on either side. The saddest days to me were the days of fall and winter when I helplessly watched the vibrant, alive world around me fade to cold lifelessness. I realized anew each year that the wild beauty of the woods and flowers did not last. I continued my search for everlasting beauty.

As I entered middle school, endless campaigns arose with the intent to convince me, an awkward, confused pubescent girl, that I myself was completely beautiful, inside and out. Lindsay Kane’s song “All Beautiful” and Bethany Dillon’s song “Beautiful’ were the emotional soundtracks of my middle school years. Both in the Baptist church where I grew up and in the Christian school I attended I was told by sweet, well-meaning lady teachers that God possesses perfect beauty, and that, if I was a Christian, I was perfectly beautiful since I was in Him. Well, I didn’t know what that meant, so I said I believed it in a feeble attempt to banish the insistent, panicky self- image worries. However, as my pastor would say with a knowledgeable smile behind his bushy brown beard, “You can’t act like who you aren’t for long.”

By my sophomore year of high school, I had trapped myself in a heart-wrenching vacuum of fully grown self-hate. Rich, pretty, skeleton-thin girls around me laughed with bright eyes, light hearts, and many friends. I came to the distorted conclusion that happiness, peace and beauty lay in thinness. I was not rich, tall, blonde, or thin. The soundtrack in my mind slowly changed from the encouraging words of Bethany Dillon’s “Beautiful” to the repetition of the words “Pig, fat, lazy, worthless” like a distant cult’s hellish chant. I could not eat without a vivid vision of myself fat and ugly, and alone because of it. Every aspect of my life morphed to revolve around a crazy desire to lose weight, no matter the cost. Soon I lost thirty-five pounds through excessive exercise, starvation, and purging. I wasted away. Although I believed it would fulfill my longing for internal peace, the pursuit of physical perfection almost stole my very life.

Someone once said that the last one to know a person is anorexic is the girl herself, and it was very true for me. I will forever remember the moment in which I realized I was no longer in control of my body and my life. I slouched limply in a seat of my sophomore Spanish II class after a lunch of cold water, staring blankly at one of the colorful posters which adorned the walls. The teacher, a very white, peppy, red-haired woman from California, was discussing some facet of a recent test as she handed it back to us. I had, until then, earned a high A on every Spanish assignment and test I had ever completed whether studied for or not, but that day there it was, scrawled in green ink at the top right corner of the page – an eighty-six. The vestiges of my sane reality tumbled like rocks down the vast crevasses in my mind, slipping into a sea of despair. Spanish – the one subject in which I had always been terrific – had slipped from my grasp. My mind reeled; I could not believe it. My heart plummeted; I temporarily went insane. My mind left me and my emotions froze. Malnutrition, even though I saw her as a friend, had stolen my strength, my ability to concentrate in class, and my cherished spot on the “A” honor roll.

I discovered over time that weight loss had become an addiction. I sat at the feet of addiction, anchored by white-hot chains whose links I had forged myself. Idolatry seared my mind, spirit, and body. However, my wounds slowly repaired themselves with aid from family, friends, and mentors. Though scars always form, they form with knowledge; they are a blessing and reminder of what is behind. Scars can empower us to move forward with life, helping others with the wisdom attained from the wound. Thus it is with a happy heart that I embrace my past without compunction. After all, scars are beautiful too.