Chickens

The agriculture department has baby chicks and baby bunnies. Is there anything more Easter than that?

I am a native Chicagoan, and when I first moved out here, one family from my homeroom would invite me to their farm once a week for dinner. They had horses we rode, a pack of dogs, some barn cats, and chickens.

My old dog Emily was about the chillest dog around. She was so laid back that my friends and family called her the Buddha dog. But there was something about chickens that really appealed to her. She would chase them for about ten minutes and then lay down and pant. She’d get up again and repeat. She sure loved going out to the farm, and she would sleep like a rock after we had been there.

I remember trying to help with chores once. I tried to help collect eggs, and I have to admit, I had no idea what to do or how to do it. After several minutes of laughing at me as I tried to approach the chickens, saying, “Hey, chicas! Is it okay if I come in here and snake your eggs from ya? I’m cool, girls,” my friend decided that perhaps she would get the eggs herself, and I could just carry the bucket. To give you an idea of how much of a city girl I was back then, I was wearing flip flops.

Those eggs were the best. The shells were a gorgeous, oaky, tan-brown color. And the yolks were a rich mustardy gold. And they tasted different. Fresh.

I see these chicks now and wonder, if I kept one as a pet, in Freeport, would she give me some fine eggs? I’m pretty sure it’s against our city ordinances, but a girl can dream.

Gratitude II

1. Taking time off to see my brother in the hospital and getting notes via Remind from my students asking me if both I and he are okay

2. Coming back to a note from the substitute telling me that she had an awesome day

3. Accidentally sleeping through my alarm this morning (let’s blame Daylight Saving Time) and having a boss who laughs when I call in “late”

4. My sick dog grabbing a toy, ready to play again

5. Remembering that THIS is the week we start reading Beowulf

6. Being able to introduce my older brother to a band that is new to him

7. Having lunch with my parents

8. Getting an email from a student wishing me a happy International Woman’s Day

9. Remembering that this weekend is the 2nd Annual Pours-for-Paws wine tasting fundraiser at the shelter where I volunteer

10. David Bowie

Cactus Panda Mule

For my birthday this year, my sister took me to a Plant Nite. It’s like Paint Nite, where a facilitator walks everyone through creating a painting but with a terrarium instead of a canvas.

Amazingly, I have kept two of the three little cacti dudes alive. This is a story about the panda that lives in the glass bowl with the two plants.

It was an ordinary Tuesday. The man brought the things to the box on the house, and even though he does this a lot, fur friend jumped on the window, leaving smudgie nose and paw prints on it as she arfed.

Then she lay on the chair’s arm and yawned. “What’s up, little dude?” she thought to herself as she looked at me through the glass. I actually have no way of knowing these were her thoughts since she can’t talk, but I’m guessing it was something like that because she looked at me and smiled, her tiny nub tail wagging.

I smiled at her through the glass. This is what we do. It’s not a bad life, honestly.

Today, though, after fur friend lolled herself into a morning nap. I began to think about China and the cool mountain air. I pictured myself ambling through the damp forest, stopping occasionally for a bamboo snack.

Okay, friends. I don’t know where I’m going with this. I’ve been visiting my brother and have not been keeping up with my writing, so I am trying to get back on the horse. However, this piece of writing is a mule. It’s a hybrid and lacks fecundity. But here’s a picture of the plant that acted as inspiration.

I think I want to explore this idea some more. I was thinking about what it might be like to be living as an object in my house or anybody’s house. And then I wondered if it’s so different than our own experiences. And then I considered what my life might look like from the perspective of the plastic panda in my terrarium.

Writing is such a strange endeavor.

Millennials

After seeing yet another negative meme on Facebook, I think we teachers need to start a movement. We work the most closely with this new generation, and as such, we need to set the record straight on Millennials. I’m so tired of the Millennial-bashing memes, news stories, and just snide remarks.

When I tell people that I am a teacher, they often look at me conspiratorially and ask, “So is it just our imagination, or are kids today really different?” And when they say “different,” they mean “worse.”

I have so many responses to this. My first is that everything they say about these kids is exactly what the principal in the Breakfast Club said about those kids. In 1985, we WERE those kids, so perhaps what’s different is not this generation. Perhaps it is us, and we have forgotten what it was to be young.

But that’s kind of an easy answer, and I don’t think it’s entirely true. In reality, these kids ARE different because the world is different. Sociologists rightfully suggest that our culture is going through a paradigm shift that is as radical as the paradigm shift from oral to print culture. When the masses began to read, it led to an increase in linear thought, which led indirectly to the scientific revolution and the age of reasoning.

We have no idea what this shift to digital learning and living will do, but I see no reason to assume it will be devastation.

We have given this generation a bum deal in terms of the economy, healthcare, the environment, and other institutions. Their response has been a little bit whiny. But honestly, we were whiny at that age, too. That is part of being a teenager. Becoming an adult is no fun.

My observation, however, is that after a day or two of whining, these kids tend to actually try to DO something. I give them props for that.

The other comment I hear from older adults is that this generation is so “entitled.” That is ludicrous. They have no more of a sense of entitlement than any other middle-class teenager has ever had.

The working-class kids have always understood that life is work. Middle class kids, however, have lived a pretty easy life usually, and it’s hard to accept that someone else was making it easy. I remember when I started doing my own laundry at college, and I realized how many towels we four teenagers had left for my mom to launder every week back when I was home. I felt like a jerk.

These kids have the same realizations. The difference is they have social media, so they complain about “adulting.” Then the Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers roll their ideas, saying, “Welcome to the REAL world.” Do you really think our parents didn’t roll their eyes at us? The only difference was in privacy. We were able to make mistakes in private. These kids do not have that luxury.

And speaking of media, I would like to address phone usage. People love to bash millennials because they’re always on their phones. Here is what I have noticed. Every time a student’s phone accidentally rings or beeps in my class, it is because a parent is calling his or her child during school. The parents are the ones who make their children check their phones between each class. I’m not saying kids are not on their phones, but they certainly aren’t alone! Our whole culture is glued to a screen.

I began this rant– and I apologize because it has become a rant– saying that we as teachers need to set the record straight. Let’s post what amazing things we see this generation do. Instead of complaining when they act like the children they are, let’s praise them and laud their efforts publicly when they act like the adults they are becoming.

I like these kids. They have the potential to change the world, and they might just do it.

Vocabulary

I’m endeavoring to accumulate new words into my vernacular, and it’s problematic because I’m an English pedagogue. I read voraciously and always have. I utilize my didactic skills to guide students as they expand their lexicon with those hundred-dollar, SAT words.

And yet….

Occasionally a word like “anfractuous” will cross my path–my winding, curving, anfractuous path.

Today, I learned the word “puissance,” and already, I do not like it. It’s difficult to pronounce, and I cannot get a grip on it. It’s slippery. It doesn’t sound like what it means.

Moxie. Now THERE’S a word. I would much rather have moxie than puissance.

But enough of these ambling, rambling, frolicking, meandering thoughts. (Frolicking is a neat word. It takes on a “k” in its progressive form like a boss. Frolicking is a word that has moxie.)

I love words, and while adding new diction might be a challenge at this stage in my life, it’s fun. Any new words are likely to be uncommon and interesting. These words have stories, and I want to hear them.