Monday, June 04, 2018

The End of an Era

It's always bothered me when people feel you are what you do. I do many things. You can see that right up in my little blurb - "Mom, wife, teacher, evil stepmother, friend, fiber, whatever...maker of handcrafted items, and throughout it all, a diehard sci-fi/fantasy/literature nerd and lover of coffee." I've had a number of professions, really good ones. I've had jobs and I've had professions. I've done some fairly interesting things like being a cook in a county jail, or a medical editor, or a corporate trainer, or a teacher in public education. The best thing I've ever done is to be a mom. When I start something new, I give it my all. I don't become that but I give it my best effort, whatever that might be at that time. When it becomes more heartache than joy, I move on to something new.

When I became a mother, it was a lifelong commitment for me. I wanted to be an involved parent and I wanted to love my children completely, unconditionally, and for their entire lives as long as I lived and beyond. This wasn't just some job or profession it was a life change. Now, I have a different life change. I dropped my youngest off halfway across the country yesterday to begin her summer internship with NASA. She'll come back for one semester before completing her bachelor's degrees, but then she's off on her new life. My oldest moved out right after she graduated. She wanted something new, something different, than what she had during her first 17 years of life. I supported her in that, and I'm so proud that she is continuing to be independent and a competent adult.
My youngest daughter and I have always been close and shared many interests. It's as if we were tethered. I'm very proud of her, too. It's going to be a big change for me not to have her here with me everyday. It's a new kind of being a mom.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

When a door opens

I made a conscious decision almost three years ago to be less afraid. It's true, I've missed out on so many, oh so many, wonderful experiences because I was afraid or doubted myself, the experience or whatever. Funny how it took half a life time to figure out that I really have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Not funny, really, but very sad. I don't want to be sad.
The first absolutely wonderful thing to happen after this decision was that I got my current job. I got a call and said yes. It was that easy. Before, during the scaredy cat Marta time, I would have said no because I wasn't completely in control, didn't know much about it, it wasn't something I specifically planned for, or any number of other equally lame excuses. As it was, it was the day after I said to myself, "Whatever comes next, I'm saying 'yes' to it because all this disappointment sucks." This school is my dream school with my kind of students and co-workers. No, in fact, I couldn't even dream this up - it's better.
So now something else has happened. A publisher, designer friend asked if I'd be interested in knitting something for someone. Um....sure...? I knit some pieces for her and loved the experience. It was one of those times when I felt a part of something very cool. Here's that project and the BEST publisher in the biz.
Cooperative Press
 Aurora Borealis
Now I've knitted something for someone pretty big in the designing world. I've admired her work when I've seen it but had no idea how prolific she was or that she has worked with Vogue and Martha Stewart, among others. 

with a side of 

Yea, well, I did my best. Of course, there was a fair amount of grafting and I can always see it. IT BUGGED ME. I pulled and smoothed it but didn't wash and block, as the designer asked me to leave blocking to her. It was better but I STILL SAW IT. sigh. It's packaged and sent off and that's that. This designer, by the way, is lovely. I'm sure I was awkward but she was very nice throughout the entire process. I'm hoping this is another fabulous door opened and will lead to more projects.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Whatever happened to....

Peace, love, and understanding?

Friendship should allow for varying opinions, right? Society here in the U.S. is supposed to allow for all kinds of variety whether it's religious, political, or personal. That's what we're supposed to be all about. When I see the "my way or the highway" or us and them kind of outbursts it just breaks my heart. It's bad enough when it's groups I don't know or connect with but I'm suddenly struck with my own naivete when a friend does this. It's worse when that friend decides they can't be friends with you because your opinion doesn't completely fall in line with theirs. Sad, just so freakin' sad.

We finished watching Othello yesterday in class. Of course, we watched the Kenneth Branagh adaptation. He is Mr. Shakespeare and has the best delivery.

I watched my students, which included the one who writes the entertaining reviews, for their reactions. It was surprising to note who connected to the tragedy and who didn't. This is my all boy class. Almost all were affected by the final outcome and one was moved to tears. We talked about how we have all experienced what can happen when people don't communicate effectively and directly, and listen to gossip. I suppose the discussion reminded me of my friend who made assumptions and abandoned me without allowing direct, clear, and tolerant communication.

I love teaching film study probably because I love watching films. It's fun to toss in some production technique between but the challenge and true enjoyment is creating a series of films with specific connections. My first theme was gothic films and I think I might revisit it for next fall's class since all the students who had it have either graduated or moved on. My line up then was Nosferatu, Rebecca, The Others, Jane Eyre, The Innocents, Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit, and the short film, Sandman. Since then, Crimson Peak has been released. I think it has all the classic markers of a gothic story plus Tom Hiddleston's butt. All my students are 17 or older but, as I teach in a public school, I'll need to skip that couple of steamy minutes which will detract from the creepy gothic-ness of the Guillermo del Toro film not one bit! I'd truly love to do a series on just his films but most are R rated and very intense. Maybe some day I'll manage to host a seminar featuring snippets and facts, or conduct post secondary class but until then, the complexities of Guillermo del Toro are just for me. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Ten Things I Hate About You (still thinking)*

I love it when my students write.

I teach English at an alternative high school. We cover a semester every six weeks. REALLY. It was an adjustment for me, let me tell ya. I also teach every level of core English and an elective every six weeks. So, for those of you who are teachers, that's 14 preps including 8 core (each high school year, semester 1 and semester 2) and 6 elective preps per academic year. I stay busy and I love it.

I require writing for each and every class. Each and every student, pretty much, says to me, "Miss, I can't write," or "Marta (we teach young adults and want to form relationships with them, so it's "Marta" not "Ms. Poling"), I hate English." Codswallop! Poppycock! Rubbish! I tell them to use their speech to text feature on their beloved phones or to write as if they were speaking to me. I tell them I'll help fix any of the things they'd see red-lined on their previous work like grammar issues, misspelling, punctuation errors, and the like. I really don't care about all those conventions because I want them to write from here (I place my hand on my head) and here (I place my hand on my heart).

They're afraid. They've been told over and over and over again that their writing is wrong, somehow. It breaks my heart. Then magic happens...they learn to trust me. I tell them, in a well-rehearsed voice, "It's strictly between you and me unless I see something that might lead me to think you might hurt yourself or others. If I did, I would have to let our administrator or counselor read it, there might be some follow up, because I'm an adult in a position of authority and trust." They all get that and somehow still write from their hearts.

It makes me smile when a student writes cleverly and with dry wit. There's a student who never speaks in class and has an intense look to him, but is amazingly funny when he can write only to me. It's his movie review title that I chose for the title of this post. The theme I chose for Film Study in the fall was "Movies about musicians." He managed to tie all of his reviews together with hysterically linked titles. I told him how much I enjoyed his reviews and why, so he's letting me know he'll try again for Film Study II when we analyze Shakespeare adaptations. I.CAN'T.WAIT!

To look at this student, you might think he's a bit tough and maybe a little intimidating. He's not at all. He's smart and funny and I feel a bit protective of him. Once I read his writing, I felt I knew him better and started observing him. Not staring him down or interrupting his activities or anything stalkerish like that, just paying attention. I'd see him sitting in the corner of the lab, hunched over, with almost silent shuddering shoulders. I walked up behind him quietly. He was watching a video on his phone with earbuds in, laughing. LAUGHING! Hiding his laughter the best he could. In our school, before you go all "controlly teachery" on me, if you need a little break, it's okay - watch the video then get back to work.

I hope the day comes when he can laugh out loud. I hope I hear about that and continue to read his writing.

* He turned in his review and it was just as fabulous as I expected. The title he decided on was The Guitar That Solved All Problems. See? Isn't it great?!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Charity, it warms the heart

Here's the story...

I wanted to do more, whatever that might mean. I didn't have a clue what that "more" might be. Knitting is a huge part of my life. It's my zen, my creativity, and my day is a lost one without knitting in it. I spin, too, but it's more of a guilty pleasure. It's the thing I'd like to get better at while knitting is really my thang, my jam, my outlet. When I see people like Mandi Guadian and her family, or Dottie Moyer and her group go to such altruistic lengths to try to help people, I want to help them help others.

It became a more urgent cause when Mandi's mom, Debbie, had a stroke. We all thought she would pull through - she was always so incredibly strong about everything. I started a love blanket in her special colors. However, she passed not too long after her stroke. I asked Mandi if she wanted the blanket or if I should do something else in Debbie's name. She liked the idea of making things for babies out of that yarn. I made a butt-ton of sleep sacks, hats, and added many, many preemie hats from left over yarn. Then I was lost. What do I do with all of this? I called my local hospitals and none of them seemed interested. That really surprised me. Why wouldn't my local NICU want my beautiful things?

There are a lot of reasons why some NICUs might accept all kinds of items and others don't want any. It comes down to this: Do they have time to sort through what you give them? Some will have a very specific list of requirements. I like that and will make sure I only donate what they want. Some say "no" to everything because they're just too busy to manage it. That's okay, too. I'd rather hear "no" than for someone to just take my adorable little things and toss them.

I wound up sending all my things to Greg of the Unraveling Podcast, KnittingDaddy on Ravelry. Here's what he said about preemie donations (and he's SUPER smart about it - go read his story on his do it!):
The best way to support my preemie hat efforts is to donate hats to their local NICUs. Requirements vary by hospital, so everyone will have to do a little research for it.
The second best way to support it is to buy my Scrappy Sock Yarn Preemie Hat pattern. 100% of the pattern sales generated by that pattern are donated to the Family Support Network of Central Carolina, which is the organization that was so helpful for our family when Blueberry was born. (Not-so-)Coincidentally, I have been on the Board since a year after Blueberry was born and currently serve as Board Chair for the organization.
Awesome, right? So, here's the deal - please message me with any great information on charities. It doesn't have to be charities that accept handmade things. I'm going to turn this page into a big bouncing off point to all these great people and organizations. As soon as y'all get some info to me, I'll just make this whole story a link, too. I have a big problem with endless verbage on webpages. Seriously, it gives me a tick.