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Archive for the tag “school”

Original fic: After Effect

A story written for my fiction class. It had to be under 500 words. I chose to do another “ripped from the headlines” story. This one is based on an accident that happened in the Vancouver area a while back. A teen waiting for the school bus was hit by a woman who then neglected to tell police she thought she hit someone. He broke both of his legs and wasn’t found until an hour later when the tow truck driver showed up. He was lucky to survive.

(c) Mitchell Joyce 2008

(c) Mitchell Joyce 2008

After Effect

When they say that your life flashes before your eyes when you are dying, what they really mean is that your future is played out. It’s like nature laughing in your face. Oh, you’re dying, haha, here’s everything you’ll miss. Loser. When I tried to explain this to my mother after the fact she cried.

“Eli, don’t say such things,” she moaned. Then she fretted over the way my blanket lay across my jacked-up legs.

I never saw the car that hit me. I was late for the bus on a Wednesday. The wind stung like a thousand bees, numbing my exposed skin. I got to the corner, checked my watch, and woke up in the ditch, snow all stuck in my lashes.

“Hmm,” I thought, “this isn’t right.”

I tried to move, but the air was too heavy. I shouted for help, but my voice got lost in the wind. I prayed for the angels to come, but they never did. I don’t remember feeling much pain, just cold. They said I was lucky.

I never saw the car that hit me, or the terrified look on the driver’s face when she neglected to tell the police I existed. While I lay in the ditch, feeling almost no pain, I saw the image of a girl. She had brown hair, sort of curly, and blue eyes. Our future together sped past my eyes in a blur. I tried to tell my mother about it; she tsked me and told me not to be silly.

“Only God knows what is in store for us.”

“Maybe God gave me the vision. To show me what to fight for.”

I got tsked again for that. Then fretted over while she attempted to hide her tears.

I never saw the car that hit me, or the terrified look on the driver’s face, nor remembered the man that found me. He came to tow away the wreck and heard moaning in the trees. I read about it in the paper–how he vomited at the sight of my mangled legs.

They say I may never walk again. That makes my mom cry. Everything makes her cry. I tried to tell her I was okay; I was alive. She can only sees the things I’ve lost because she didn’t see my future flash before her eyes–she didn’t see everything I will gain. Starting with the brown-haired girl visiting the kid in the room next door.

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Original Fiction: The Spirit in Christmas

Written for my fiction workshop class. It’s kind of a tearjerker. I cried as I wrote it, and I cry every time I read it. Then again, I’m an emotional basket case.

(c) Matthew Kenwrick 2012

(c) Matthew Kenwrick 2012

The Spirit in Christmas

Harold eased the car up to the intersection, breaks squealing. He knew they needed replacing, but he’d spent the money on Christmas gifts for the girls. He glanced over at eleven-year-old Amelia. She drummed her fingers against the door, puffing hot breath onto the window.

“So, which way do you think?”

He could hear Claire’s infectious enthusiasm urging him to the left like only his four-year-old princess could. He cranked the wheel, giving the whining engine just a little gas. Read more…

Original fic: A Girl I Used to Know

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(c) ronholpic 2009

A Girl I Used to Know

Eve was a girl I used to know. Blond hair all trussed up in pink bows. She had eyes like emeralds, and a smile that frightened even the devil.
She talked to me once. We were ten, and I found her out in Vernon Woods, near the creek. She was poking at something in the dirt. She told me the raven had fallen from the sky. Dead. She said of a broken heart; I’m pretty sure it was a broken wing.
I helped her bury it under a willow tree. She said I was sweet and kissed me on the cheek. I ran home and never spoke to her again.
I opened the paper today; the headline read, “Bodies Found Under House Near Vernon Woods.” The suspect: a woman with blond curls, emerald eyes, and a devilish smile that sent shivers down my spine. She told the police they’d died of broken hearts. I’m pretty sure she was the one to break them.

Original Fiction: Hallmark Doesn’t Make a Card for That

Written for my fiction workshop class. The focus was dialogue. I don’t know why I changed the names, but I based this off of my “The Story” characters of Tucker and Sarah. It’s funny because I kind of like the new names.

(c) EMILY SKOLOZYNSKI 2010/US Army

(c) EMILY SKOLOZYNSKI 2010/US Army

Hallmark Doesn’t Make a Card for That

The numbers all blurred together. This was the part of Emma’s job she hated the most–the part that involved math. She erased another error. If she hurried she could still make her date with Derek. She glanced around at all of the books needing to be shelved. Really hurried.

The bell above the door tinkled. She hated that bell. “We’re closed,” she said without looking up from her scribblings. Shoes squeaked across the linoleum floor. With a sigh, Emma raised her head. “I’m sorry, but we’re-” Her words trailed off, all thought abandoned at the sight of the man standing in front of her. “Cooper,” she whispered. Read more…

Regrets in Life

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Regrets. Everyone has them. From that time you pushed your little brother and made him cry to the guy you dated way too long to that lemon of a car you bought. I have so many regrets in my life that they’d probably fill an entire room.

My big regret right now is going back to school. Wait, you say, going back to school is a good thing! Education! Better jobs! It all sounds good in theory, but no so much on the practical side.

I decided to return to school during a manic high. People with bipolar are notorious for making bad decisions while manic. We feel on top of the world, like we can do anything, and we don’t think things through. I made the decision, applied for financial aid, and enrolled in school all in a few days without stopping to think of the repercussions of this.

After coming down from the manic high and talking with my husband, we decided I should stay in school. Getting a degree finally would be a good thing, and we’d figure out the money later. So in January 2014, I started classes online at Southern New Hampshire University (the one from the commercials). I’m on track to graduate in May 2015. Only now I regret it all.

My degree will be a BA in English/Creative Writing. This is one of those laughable, worthless degrees that will get you nowhere in life. On top of that, because of my bipolar and anxiety, I don’t see myself ever actually getting a job, definitely not one that would use my degree. I could never handle the stress of the kind of job you get from college degrees. I would crack after a month. So, once I graduate, nothing changes. I’ll still be a stay-at-home mom with no career, but with about $20k of debt.

Now money has become my biggest issue. When I enrolled and started, my husband had been off work for a couple of months with a shoulder injury. We had short term disability through his work and thought he would be back by the spring. Things didn’t work that way. Worker’s Comp kept screwing with him. A year after he first hurt himself they finally agreed to do surgery on his shoulder. Now he has months of physical therapy to go through before he can return to work. If he ever can.

Our income is so low that we had to go on government assistance. I don’t qualify for disability. We struggle to make ends meet every month. The idea that we will have $20k in debt to pay off makes me ill. And for what? A worthless degree? So I can say I graduated from college?

It’s going to destroy us. We son’t be able to make the monthly payments. We’ll have to negotiate to drag out payments beyond the ten year payment window. We’ll be paying off my worthless education for twenty plus years. We will never be able to save for a house or a new car (we only have the one and it’s 13 years old) or afford the things we need. I have ruined us.

I regret it. I regret not canceling my enrollment as soon as I came down from my high. I regret not really thinking things through even once I was down. I regret letting other people talk me into staying in school. I regret the fact that my degree won’t help me get a job even if I thought I could work.

And now I’m stuck. If I quit now, I’ll save us a few thousand dollars from the last four months I have before I graduate. But then the other $15k of debt will have been for nothing. I hate school. One of my classes this term makes no sense and it’s destroying my 4.0 GPA. And I’m really not sure I’ve learned anything. The classes (other than the one this term) have been incredibly easy. I even got a 100% in one of them. The teachers are way too nice and don’t offer any real kind of criticism on my creative writing. I get perfect marks even on assignments I half-ass.

I’m still not sure if I’m going to muddle through this class, wrecking my GPA, and eventually finish, or just quit while I’m ahead. Either way, once it’s over I’m going to regret this decision for the rest of my life.

Assignment Feedback

Abandoned School Classroom
Last week in school I had two papers to turn in, one for each class I’m taking. I got grades back for both of them today.

The first was for my Literary Theory class. We had to use one of the theories we’re learning about to analyze the book Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. I chose to use structuralism, specifically Tzvetan Todorov’s version. I won’t get into what that entails because it’s complicated and confusing. The point is I got my grades today with some comments on the paper. I’ve been waiting for this so I can start writing the full paper which is due June 15.

According the comments, I did a pretty good job. She mentioned some places where I needed to explain my examples better (which doesn’t surprise me because I wrote the main part of the paper then went quote hunting in the book for examples and just threw it all together at like 3am the day it was due). Her comments were somewhat helpful. I got 65/70 on it.

My other paper was for Intro to Sociology. We had to explain how our education affected us sociologically. I just kind of blathered on about what I did in elementary and high school, then went back and added in information explaining concepts from the book. I really didn’t put much effort into it. I got a perfect score on the first paper and had no idea what the heck I was doing.

So I get my grade a few minutes ago and it’s 148/155 (95%). Hmmm, I think, I must have screwed something up. I go to view the comments and this is what I find:

Good work, and thank you for sharing some of your interactions with formal education. The format of your paper was good, and your synthesis strong. I appreciate the resources that you pulled into your narrative, and the impact on your own life that you outline.

Oooookay, but why did I miss seven points? Apparently I did a good job on the paper, but I did something wrong. There’s no freaking explanation. How am I supposed to know what to improve on? ARGH! Now I have to email her for details. Emailing makes my anxiety go crazy and I get sick to my stomach.

But seriously, why not explain where the points were taken from.

These professors this term are driving me nuts. At least the Sociology one participates in the discussion board. My Lit teacher is never around so we’re all just mumbling around, acting like we know what the hell we’re talking about after reading a text that provides very few examples to explain concepts. I’m so glad this term is almost over.

EDITED TO ADD: My sociology teacher just updated our virtual classroom with an announcement about the paper. This part really got me:

 I have attached here the assignment parameters that were available to you in our course information area so that you might be able to decipher where your points were lost (those that were not specifically mentionned in the feedback that I left for each of you.)

Umm… Isn’t that her job? Isn’t she supposed to tell us where we didn’t meet the requirements instead of us “deciphering” it on our own. Also note the spelling and grammar mistakes. WTF?

Tough Parenting Decisions

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Everyone knows parenting is tough. It doesn’t matter if you’re a mom or dad, if you stay home or work, if you’re a grandparent or other relative stepping in, or anyone else in the role of raising a child. It’s hard.

Having a child with behavior problems, whatever they may be, adds another layer of difficulties.

My husband and I have a difficult decision to make at the moment. Our oldest child, who will be fourteen in June, has behavior problems that have affected her schooling. We’ve been working with her for years, and especially this year as she finishes up middle school, to teach her personal responsibility and work ethic. Nothing has taken.

So, with four weeks of school left, we have to decide whether or not to hold her back. It’s been keeping me up at nights going over the pros and cons, worrying about how we’re going to screw things up. Honestly, I don’t see any good options. We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

On one hand, she’s barely done any homework or classwork this year. She told me today that homework is stupid and she doesn’t need to do it as long as she has an okay grade. She also believes that if the homework is too hard she doesn’t have to do it. Or if it interferes with her socializing she doesn’t have to do it. Basically there’s no reason for her to do homework ever.

She completely failed the 2nd trimester this year. She had five Fs and a C. We met with her teachers to discuss options. Legally, they can’t hold her back. They have to pass her whether she shows she knows the stuff or not. Which is the most idiotic thing I’ve every hears. They are also obligated to allow the kids to turn homework in until the very last day so that they can pass. There’s absolutely no accountability for the students. They can do homework whenever they want, if they choose to do it. It’s completely optional in the long run as long as they do good on the tests. I want to point out that the ONLY reason she is failing classes is because she doesn’t turn her assignments in. She is extremely smart and in the highly capable program.

We could debate the pros and cons of homework (I’m against it unless the student is showing signs of struggling in that subject), but the point is that it’s been assigned, therefore it has to be done. But my philosophy and the school’s differ vastly. My child will always side with the school on this.

Her grades are passing this term. Only because her art teacher allowed her to take a “teacher’s aide” class, but instead of helping in the class she is sent to the library to do school work. It’s the only time she does “homework.” It’s been enough to keep her grades at a C average, but she’s still not learning that homework has to also be done at home. In high school there will be no study hall and the classes will be harder. And they can, and will, fail her.

Here’s the problem, though. If we pass her, I don’t believe she will make it through 9th grade. She will fail that year. I don’t believe she is mature enough (her birthday is after the school year ends which means she’s one of the youngest kids in her class). Maturity has never been an issue until the last two years of middle school, especially this year. Based on her attitude about homework and school, I don’t think she can handle the class load and responsibility.

If we hold her back, though, it will cause a war within the house. Her behavior is already difficult to deal with. If she can’t pass on to high school with her friends… Well, she’ll lose it. I know she will purposefully fail a 2nd year in 8th grade because she’s angry. She’ll run away, she’ll start cutting again, she’ll do all the things that got her into trouble this year, but tenfold.

I’m not sure what’s better–holding her back in the hopes she might actually do the work the second time through (I doubt it) or let her pass to 9th grade and flunk the year.

Honestly, neither option solves anything, but it’s a decision we have to make before the year ends.

Literary Theory is kicking my butt

spongebobcries

 

I knew I was going to have a tough time with this class. I just can’t get my brain to delve that deeply into a text. I don’t want to analyze a story to death–that kind of takes the magic out of it. But it’s required for my major so I push on.

This week we’re doing structuralist vs deconstructive criticism. I couldn’t even begin to explain what either of them mean other than they focus on the structure of the novel and not the words. I chose structuralism and spent the last few days in near tears trying to figure it out.

I have always had an interest in linguistics so I understood the basic concepts the book was talking about–how different parts of the novel became the structure that the story was built on. But I could not figure out how to transfer that to analyzing the text. It made no sense to me and everything I looked up online never said more than the text. I need examples people! And not just from my classmates who may or may not know what the hell they are doing (since the teacher has very little contact with us and never tells us if we’re on the right track or not after we make our posts).

I’ve been working on this for the last SIX hours. I was in near tears at one point, rocking and pulling at my hair, before I calmed down. I’m so stressed out. I have to find resources for my final paper this week and make an annotated bibliography, but nothing I can get my hands on can help me understand this crap. My public library has like five books on the topic of literary theory. I put them on hold but who knows when I’ll get them. Everything else is from online journals from the 70s (because no one uses this method any more). And now that I’ve figured something about this out, I’m not sure any of the sources I tagged last week (after 12 hours of searching) will work any more.

Going back to college, bipolar and research papers oh my!

I graduated high school in 1995. Yes, I’m that old. I did the typical college thing right after, but thanks to my mental illness, inability to handle stress, and poverty I quit in 1997. It was either go to work and have a place to live or go to school and live in the library. I chose my apartment.

Fast forward to January 7, 2014–my first day of school (also my 14th wedding anniversary). I’m taking online classes at Southern New Hampshire University to complete my major in Creative Writing. So far I like it, but it hasn’t even been a full week. The fact that you only take two classes every 8 week term helps. So much better than taking five classes a week for 16 weeks like my first go-around.

This term I’m taking English Comp II and Intro to Humanities I.

The classes are split up into modules, one for each week. I’m already done with modules 1 and 2 for Humanities including the quizzes (100% on both). I just need to do next weeks discussion and start thinking about the essay I have to write.

It’s English Comp I want to talk about, though. The entire class is dedicated to writing one research paper. I hate research papers. I hate research. I get all confused with too much info coming at me and my brain shuts down. I just hate it. That’s why I don’t write historical fiction.

Like with Humanities, I’ve already finished all the reading for week one and took the two quizzes (perfect scores on both) and have more than participated in both discussions for the class. But I couldn’t leave it alone. Next week we’re supposed to work on research so we can hand in an annotated bibliography.

First off, I’ve never written an annotated bibliography and barely remember how to write a regular one (what’s MLA style again?). The fact that we have to turn in the bibliography before even starting to write the paper did not sit well with me. That’s not how I was taught to write a research paper, and apparently, it’s not how my brain works when it comes to writing.

I sat down earlier tonight (last night… whatever) to make some notes on some research I bookmarked.  Of course that got my brain into writing mode and when I was done I just had to start writing down paragraphs of ideas. What came out was the crappiest rough draft I’ve ever created. I also found out that all the notes I took were interesting but won’t end up in my paper. Now I have to go back and find the research I slightly remember glancing over that had the ideas that I actually want to use. D’oh.

But that lead me to actually trying to figure out what I was writing. That meant comeing up with my thesis statement, which apparently isn’t covered fully until week 3. Huh? I have to have a bibliography (annotated with reasons why that research should be used) when I won’t know what I’m writing about until week 3. Sorry, doesn’t work for me.

I peeked ahead at later modules to figure out what I was supposed to be doing and came up with a working thesis and a preliminary outline that organized the mess of ideas I had in the rough draft. Then I posted it all to week one’s discussion because I needed input from my prof or I’m going to go nuts.

Actually I’m already nuts. I’m pretty sure I’m at the beginning of a manic episode. It could be the caffeine that has me up at 3:30am feeling completely wired, but I’m not interested in bed and am ready to tackle this paper and get it out of the way. Seriously. If no one stops me I will stay up all night researching and writing.

Part of it is because I want to get it out of the way before my “up” goes away. My crashes are horrible and I know I won’t want to do crap once I’m all depressed again. I have to work when I feel the urge. Plus it leaves me with less things to stress about.

The smart thing to do would be to acknowledge my manic episode, down a sleeping pill and go to bed but… research paper calling me. It’s like when I get in the zone with my fiction… I’m afraid if I stop I won’t be able to start again and my paper will be crap.

(and all this while having random fantasies about the Walking Dead’s Daryl and Carol… thank you AMC for your New Year marathon that I’m still working through.)

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

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I was super cute at 2 1/2

So, it’s only taken me 36 1/2 years to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I used to think I wanted to be a teacher. That’s what I always said as a kid. And when I went to college my major was Early Education. But the more I thought about it the more I realized I could never teach. For one I have severe social anxiety and the thought of being in front of class of kids terrified me, and two, I just don’t have the patience. Which is funny when you consider I have five kids of my own. I can deal with them (mostly) but other people’s kids drive me nuts.

So I changed my major to English with an emphasis in linguistics but ended up quitting school before I started taking any of my classes towards my major. Not long after that I got married and started my family (in the same year). Having three kids in just over two years left me with not a lot of time to do much of anything. By the time we were adding number four I had little interest in school anymore. It was tedious enough helping the kids with their homework. Add in kid number five and I was like, “why would I even want to try to go to school with five kids, a husband and a house to deal with?”

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me at about 8 year old

I think a lot of that was my depression and anxiety coming forward. I liked school when I was in it but the stress got to me. I don’t deal well with stress (part of my anxiety issues). In the last two years I’ve been getting help with my mental illnesses and I’m finally starting to feel better. I feel different. Like a different person. I guess that’s why my ideas for the future have changed. With the depression controlling me I never saw a future for myself. I twas hard enough to just get through one day. Now I have plans, wants for myself.

It’s been a real eye opener. So what do I want to be when I grow up? Besides getting a novel published, I’d like to be an editor. The book kind of editor but not for a publishing company. I’d like to freelance for now. I’d like to help out young and/or new writers with their first works. Teach them what I know about writing and help them shape up their first works. I know I won’t earn much money this way but it’s what I really want to do.

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me (on the left) and my friend Vasso at our high school graduation, 1995

In that regard, I’ve applied to Ashford University online school to finish my BA in English. I was 74 credits in at Truman State when I quit but not sure how many credits will transfer. I talked to the admissions guy last Wednesday and the wait is killing me. I’m totally emailing him after I’m done with this post. I need to know if I’ve been accepted and got all my financial aid in order (which will put is in a ton of debt but oh well, when aren’t we in debt?).

For the first time in over fifteen years I want to go back to school. I want my degree. Not that I think I need it to be a novelist or to help newbies edit their stories/books but it makes me feel more legit. I even looked around to see if they had any graduate online schools in writing (found one that isn’t much more expensive than Ashford). Although I loved the set up at Portland State University (their graduate program is slightly more than what I’d be paying for Ashford) but I’m not sure I want to be in classrooms again. I probably won’t go as far as my MFA but I have thought about it as a way to better my own writing.

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me with a smile because I’m happy to go back to school!

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