23 November 2010

Help Save the National Writing Project and Prairie Lands Writing Project!

Hello friends,

I'm completely uninterested in a political debate about this. In fact, save yo' political comments for yo' momma(ments). See what I did there? Anyway-

Our government is voting on the Coburn Amendment very soon (Wednesday, perhaps?). This, which will undoubtedly be framed to us as the end of unnecessary earmarks, would completely end any and all earmarks that have ever happened in the history of ever (I'm not sure if this is a hyperbole or not). The bad part is that, technically, the National Writing Project and, therefore, the Prairie Lands Writing Project is an earmark from decades ago. The National Writing Project and its dozens upon dozens of local sites nationwide (including PLWP) provides fantastic and necessary professional development for teachers in the development of a passion for writing and, more importantly for you, the quality teaching of writing and developing that passion in students. NWP and PLWP have impacted, literally, thousands upon thousands of students nationwide. This would negatively impact our nation's students who are already negatively impacted by so so much.

PLWP personally reignited my own writing and has pushed me to be the best teacher and writer I can be. I developed friendships with fellow professionals who have positively impacted me personally and positively impacted my students through our collaboration. Moreover, hundreds of people across the country would lose jobs over this, including my friend Vickey's mother. Please call your senator TODAY and tell them to vote no on the Coburn Amendment.

Call Sen. Bond: (202) 224-5721
Call Sen. McCaskill: (202) 224-6154

Of course if you don't live in Missouri, please google your senator's office number and call them.

I called yesterday and was super surprised to find an actual person on the line. Fully expecting a machine, I stuttered and stumbled through a "ppppppplease vote no on that uhhhhh... Coburn Amendment thing." It probably wasn't that bad, but it wasn't good. I'm calling back today in full hopes of redeeming myself.

I'm going to make the following analogy to my senators today:

The government has decided we have a serious problem with forest fires. To solve this problem, they are deciding to eliminate every tree because then we could start over. It's the same thing here. Earmarks are a problem, so let's get rid of all of them while completely ignoring that some of them are for really excellent programs that help people and give people their livelihood.

Aaaaanyway, like I said, I am in no way interested in being political about this. I'm just looking to save a program that made me a better teacher, writer, and person and has done that same thing for thousands of teachers nationwide.

16 November 2010

This is a cold war

I've been frantically looking at Creative Writing PhD programs.

Last night after coming home from school I called 16 different colleges- some close, some far. I only talked to one person out of the 15, leaving me with the fantastic impression that colleges are completely done by 5pm. Some apparently even done by four... or three. I called at least three schools in California, where it would have been about 2:30 when I called, and none of the English departments were available to talk to me. The only person I actually spoke to yesterday was a woman I appeared to completely confuse at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. I did learn some important facts though. One- a PhD in Creative Writing at UNL does not require taking the GRE. In fact, neither of the masters degrees I've earned required the GRE either. I think it'd be a little funny if I had a PhD and had never taken the GRE. Two- it costs a lot of money, and they don't offer much other than "extremely competitive" fellowships. I got the impression I'd be admitted, offered no money, and drop out immediately. The woman was also sort of uncooperative. If anything, a little part of me would die if I became a husker anyway, so it just felt right to mentally cross UNL off my potential list. I'd contacted them to begin with because my building principal got her PhD online from them, but this lady let me know straight away that wouldn't be happening for me.

During my conference period this morning one of them called back- a very nice woman from the English department at Western Michigan University. She seemed, at first, to indicate WMU did not have a PhD for Creative Writing, but she had misunderstood me, and they totally do. She said the poetry program (the one I would try for if unable to find a school with a creative non-fiction program I could rock) was extremely competitive. I'm competitive about some aspects of life, and I could make myself be competitive for this if need be. Once we started talking, though, she pointed out that WMU has a PhD in English Education. My first thought was "absolutely not." I have absolutely no interest in earning a PhD that would require me to teach education courses. The woman stopped me, though, and said the program is specifically geared toward teaching English at colleges and wasn't affiliated with their College of Education. It intrigued me to the point that I think I'll email some professors in the program to see what it's all about. Also important- nearly every student in their grad program has complete tuition remission. That'd be awesome.

The moral of this story, though, is that I scoured the internet looking for an online Creative Writing PhD. There isn't one. And now that I've decided that I'm definitely going to do this sometime (what I generally call "getting a wild hair" about something), I've essentially decided I'm definitely going to move sometime. Western Michigan is in Kalamazoo, Michigan (which gets cool points for its name, frankly). The closest program I'm still considering is at Mizzou. The furthest is in Los Angeles. This could potentially be a big move at some point. An expensive move. I'm in the process of consolidating my student loans, and I'm worried they won't defer if I'm in grad school once consolidated. Bahhhhh it's a lot to think about. Just let it be known that I'm completing the steps moving ahead.

Step one- I need to learn a foreign language.

14 November 2010


I haven't updated in several weeks. It's been a busy, unexpected, and sometimes sad few weeks. I admit I've been a bit down lately. I've certainly been very low energy. I come home from school most days to just watch TV or read. Incidentally, I've read 1.5 good books in the past two weeks, and as soon as I finish Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman, it will be 2.0. I've added them to my Amazon reccomendations.

I know I've just got to break out of this funk, but don't we all find that's easier to say than to actually do? I tell myself "go for a walk" or "clean up your kitchen so you'll stop going out to dinner every night and spending money you really shouldn't be spending," but then I go to Sonic and play my Xbox 360. And, really, let's not even get started about the Chiefs over the past two weeks. Geez.

I'm really starting to feel the impact of my aforementioned windowless world. I have had three dreams in the past week that involved me moving. I do love my apartment building, though. And although my rent is high, the free stuff I get more than makes up for the cost. I straight up fantasize about getting an apartment with windows, though. This winter might be tough without them. It might help if I made my apartment a little more "home-y" and less "that place where I crash after work-y." I think I'm going to invest in an honest to God Christmas tree this year. In the past when I had my much-missed puppy (another reason I think I've been down recently, but I digress), I didn't put a full size tree up because he'd try to eat it. I don't really have any space for a tree, but it might just go directly in the center of my living room/bedroom/kitchen/my apartment is a sad windowless studio.

I'm off to visit the apartment listings on craigslist to dream. Godspeed, readers.

01 November 2010

It's Been A Long Time- I Shouldn't Have Left You Without A Dope Beat To Step To

Step to. Step to. Step to. Step to. *weird Timbaland noise*

I haven't update this in an embarrassingly long time. Sorry guys. I continue to receive excellent feedback from friends and family who read this, include my Aunt Karen and Grandma Johnson. Hi! I digress, however, because I have much to share:

1) I began No Shave November with blatant cheating. I got home from my parents' last night at about 9:30 and pretty much immediately went to bed. I then shaved... this morning. It's November. DEAR GOD I'M A CHEATER! No, but really, I am planning on skipping the shaving until December. And who knows? Maybe I look awesome with a full-on beard. Here's the Day One (or what I'm subsequently calling "The Day of Much Cheating") progress:

I forgot my ID in my car, I'm wearing a sweater for the first time this fall, and I'm flanked by student artwork. Yay! And the first of my "photo of the day entries.*

2) My family's annual Halloween Costume Contest was held this Saturday, and I'm sad my brilliant Tiger Woods costume didn't win (pictures to be added soon!). My father actually won- he dressed as a sexy Little Red Riding Hood. As I'm sure you can imagine, it was truly frightening. A real testament to the spirit of Halloween. My Uncle Steve was an oompa loompa, and it was awesome! More than anything, though, it was a really fun night. And I got to visit with friends Adam, Allison, and Amanda at the end of the night, where I had a lot of fun trying on the devil horns Amanda had clipped in her hair. 

3) Financial matters continue to be strong. I'm happy and proud of myself when it comes to how I handled my October finances. I know I could still be better, but the changes I've made bring me comfort that if something were to go haywire, I could use some money I have in savings. I think I mentioned it earlier, but it is my goal to not spend any of my paycheck this year on Christmas gifts, but instead using only money I've saved. And, oh by the way, I've saved over $600 in my account! I've ended up with extra money at the end of the past four months, and it continues to confirm for me I made the right decision to file for bankruptcy. I was in a really dark place for a few months both financially and emotionally. Looking back on the whole thing (and looking back at this blog too) were good reminders about how it felt to be financially drowning. I would have never guessed I would have ever been emotionally impacted by money, but lo and behold, there I was, especially in March of this past year, feeling buried and overwhelmed (true story- I spent several minutes after typing this looking on youtube for that clip from 10 Things I Hate About You when Bianca says, "I know you can be overwhelmed, and I know you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?" and her friends says "I think you can in Europe." Couldn't find it). 

4) Big/Awesome news, readers. Two of my wonderful friends/colleagues (frolleagues? criends?) have presented me with yet another opportunity to visit my favorite travel destination, New York City. One has a friend who works for United Airlines and, apparently, can score us some pretty sweet Buddy Passes which will allow for crazy cheap travel. When I went to the City this summer my flight was easily the most expensive part of the trip. I probably spent about the same amount of my flight total on the rest of the trip, and that was with a small shopping spree at Macy's. They've also offered to buy my buddy pass for me if it is too expensive. Aside from being grateful that I have amazing friends, I feel like that's fairly even because, really, I'm the reason they have free lodging ;) Nah, I know they don't have to, but it means that December is going to be my biggest budgeting challenge thus far, as we are looking to going to NYC a few days before New Year's and heading back January 2nd. I can do it, though. I really can. What's interesting about the budgeting fun is that I can plan for trips like this and not have to immediately say no to them. I'm thankful for that. And I'm thankful for Erika who continues on letting me loiter in her apartment and, this time, is even allowing new guests. She's awesome. Truman Middle School's Most Likely To Succeed award winners FOREVER! :)

*From the poll a few entries ago, you all clearly want some rants from me. I'll work on 'em. I've got a sports fandom one bubbling up, and I'm sure I'll think of more :)