Lists


sols_6My students are in the middle of writing a This I Believe essay. One of the writing prompts I give them to get their thinking going is Things I’ve Learned from _____(name your own cartoon). It’s usually one of the more popular writing assignments, and,usually, results in good writing.

One of my favorite cartoons growing up was the Looney Tunes — so, here is the list I share with my students:

 

13 Things I’ve Learned from Bugs Bunny bugs bunny

1. A little make-up brings a whole new perspective.
2. Missing that left turn at Albuquerque might make life interesting.
3. Music/singing can explain anything.
4. Hot tempers never win (think Yosemite Sam here).
5. Even a rabbit (shy person) can be a leader.
6. Brains before bullets (guns).
7. Seeking revenge on someone usually backfires.
8. You need friends to get through life.
9. Watch out for strange carrots (people!).
10. Aliens are really coming to get us — and they want an “Earth-shattering, kaboom!”
11. Humor diffuses a host of problems.
12. Just because you’re in charge doesn’t mean you know everything.
13. Be a hopeless romantic, and others can’t help but love you!

What’s on your list???

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I went to the writing marathon today with my Writing Project peeps. My friend Sally texted yesterday and told me to come. I said yes, just because I think I need to get out more. We started off at Amelie’s restaurant, and from there, the participants left for other cafes, restaurants and stores (I think IKEA was a big hit!). I wrote two pieces during the day — that I revised once I got home. Of course they both have to do with the blasted CANCER crap — because what in my life right now DOESN’T involve that??

First up: a poem….

Ode To My Ponytail (You know…because I don’t have one anymore!! By the way, odes are HARD! Iambic pentameter & rhyme scheme — this was almost too much for my brain….)

Free-flowing, swinging, rhythms in mid-air

Connected to my head through magic bands;

My youth held, a fragile glass, in stylish flair.

Breezes breath across my face dark-brown strands

Awakening my thoughts to your presence.

Seven months gone become seven too long–

Winter lengthens into summer’s shade tree.

Stiffened joints, age spots, and wrinkled creases

Will probably unfold before you’re strong

Again. How, I wonder, can this truth be?

**Man, I SERIOUSLY miss my flipping ponytail!! (no pun intended! haha)

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Next, a list for my friend Lil, who’s in the midst of her own journey:

13 Tips for Lil (aka — What I Wish I’d Known)

1. Get regular mani/pedis — You deserve to be pampered.

2. Carry a pillow

3. Feel sorry for yourself exactly 10 minutes a day then let it go  — 15 minutes if you’re in the middle of a good cry

4. Read other women’s journeys when you’re ready —

5. DON’T let those women scare you (every one has her own road through treatment)

6. Eat watermelon — LOTS (and lime jello!)

7. Lifesavers (they aren’t JUST a candy)           

8 . When people say to let them know what they can do to help, tell them one thing — even if it’s just to get you a glass of water (it makes them feel less helpless)

9. When people notice your baldness, wig, or scarf, and say, “Oh, you’re going through cancer treatment?” say back, “Nope. My new lover is an alien and shaving your hair is the first step to true love.”

10. You’re going to miss your boobs, no matter your age. Wear pretty undershirts and lacy (but not underwire) brassieres to make it a little easier.

11. Make your sister (or best friend) be at your beck and call; You can seriously get back at her for torturing you throughout your childhood!

12. There’s nothing wrong with afternoon naps. Have your oncologist write you a prescription if you need it.

13. Watch funny movies starring your favorite comedians. A few suggestions: Arsenic & Old Lace (Cary Grant); Elf, Stepbrothers, & Anchorman (Will Ferrell); Dumb & Dumber (Jim Carey); Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder)

————

An almost productive day!

The movie producer/writer, Nora Ephron, died last week. It was all over the news and Twitter, and everyone it seemed had good things to say about her. She did do several movies I liked: Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, and whatever that Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan movie was where they meet at the Empire State Building.

Anyway, one tweet I read took me to a website that reprinted a list that Ephron had ended one of her books with (I Remember Nothing). Here is the link to the site and her writing: Nora Ephron’s Lists. I don’t know the context of the lists because I haven’t read the book, but I immediately felt I had a topic for my own set of lists: my journey dealing with breast cancer and having a genetic component attached to that diagnosis. Maybe my lists will help me put some things behind me, so I can move on to the wellness part of my life.

Things I Won’t Miss

Being bald

IVs

Sympathetic stares from people who don’t know me

The emergency room

Locking the bathroom door

The long drive to Winston Salem

Shaving

Being out of work

Feeling helpless in the face of the unknown

People who tell me how great my hair cut/color is — IT’S A WIG!!

Bras

Cold ears

Scars: inside and out

Things I Will Miss

The doctors and nurses for being gentle and concerned with my healthcare

Time alone with Kevin on a regular basis (even though it was stressful)

Being normal — not a mutation

Cuddling with LilyBelle like before I lost my breasts

Feeling like a girl (woman)

Bras

Napping whenever the mood strikes me

Threatening to show Jake and LilyBelle my baldness if they didn’t stop arguing/aggravating each other

My sister being at my beck and call

Estrogen

Law & Order SVU marathons all day Tuesdays

All-day read-athons

Coconut cake on chemo day

I have to say that writing the second list was harder — I had to dig deep to find some value to this experience that is part of who I am now. It’s difficult to accept changes, especially one like this. I’m grateful, though, for what I found.

What sort of topic would you use to write you’re own lists?

So, I’m checking my email this morning after the Kevman took the LilyBelle to school. I see the daily Diigo Education Group update, and one of the links is to help teachers have a good day. I think, “Okay…let’s see if this link is going to help me have a good day.” I think it might be silly things that kids say, or something sarcastic about “The Educational Establishment” — but I get SOOOOOOO much more! I get a Slice! haha…

13 Ways to Make Today a Good Day

1. Drink a cup of coffee or tea — heaped with all the good things you like in it (or keep it naked, however you like it!)

2. Read the first page  of your favorite books — remember what made you love them (Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, here I come!)

3. Talk to a little kid about school (LilyBelle told me this morning that she doesn’t do science or “studies” — she just does work! haha)

4. Text your teenager and wait (4-5 days) for him/her to acknowledge your presence. Remember ways you ignored your own parents periodically and shake your head, smiling with how much your kid is like you.

5. Tweet something nice about one of your UN-favorite students — maybe make a wish for him/her (don’t necessarily have to name names, though!).

6. Go to a wig store and try on a new hairstyle or color.

7. Give your significant other at least one “long, slow, deep, soft, wet kiss” (Sorry…I’m a Bull Durham fan –the kiss doesn’t have to be wet! haha).

8. Read the comics from your newspaper. Cut one out to reread through the day. (The best ones help you get a Slice! haha…)

9. Pet your dog(s) because they always look at you with that pet-me-love-me-really-it’s-okay sort of look! (Uh…they just did it to me, just right then!)

10. Go rollerblading— or, at least close your eyes and imagine you’re the kind of person who rollerblades! (Or paddle boarding, whichever!)

11. Shake your head at the weirdness of the politics in America today — and then go eat some ice cream.

12. Drive to Target/Walmart/the mall with all the windows open (reschedule this if it’s raining).

13. Smile — even if no one’s in the room; maybe even have your own private belly laugh!

**Bonus: Blog and post a Slice of Life! 🙂

Okay….which one do you want to do today? What would you add to my list?

Does being almost mid-40s make you automatically think about the road less traveled? I read a writing prompt on Twitter today to choose a career you’ve always wanted and write about a character who’s actually working in that field. Well, it’s late, and I didn’t sleep last night, and as long as I have the computer on, the LilyBelle won’t go to sleep, and I’ll be in here forever….so, I’m just going to write about my dream jobs…

I’m not sure it’s a secret that teaching wasn’t my first career choice. Well, let me think…in high school, I was accepted to UNC-Greensboro in the Teaching Fellows program. I wanted to work with kids who had behavior-emotional problems (I knew I could fix them, you see!). Life happened, and I didn’t go — Oh, stupidity…why do you affect the young so?? Anyway, working with kids seemed to be the best fit for me, so I ended up studying psychology; flirted with chucking it my junior year and getting a teaching degree, but that would require an additional year of school, and at the time, I wasn’t willing to do that.

So…here are some dream jobs I’ve had since I was little — in sort of chronological order as I recall them:

Steph’s 13 Dream Jobs

1) astronaut — life dream since 3rd grade at least. I used to love looking at the sky and wondering about the clouds and what was above them and what space travel was like…and, you get to pee your pants and no one says ANYTHING!!! But about sixth or seventh grade, I figured out that math was involved, and, well, math and me…we’ve never gotten along.

2) lawyer — this may have been like a middle school ideal. I like to argue, but not listen, so I figured out quickly that I would suck at lawyering. (Umm…this could have been because I was way into a tv show at the time called the “Paper Chase” — wasn’t that about law students at Harvard? But I also wanted to right the wrongs of the world (probably for selfish childhood reasons).

3) CIA agent — I still haven’t given this one up. It was definitely high school when this idea came to me. I was into reading about the government and gathering intelligence and being undercover. I seriously want to be Kinsey Bly on NCIS Las Angeles! She is so freaking tough!

4) travel writer/photographer — because every day would be an adventure. I especially wanted to travel to Italy and Greece and follow Odysseus’s trail — I loved mythology.

5) radio announcer — because I was in love with the son of a local radio station owner, and he’d call to flirt with me and put me on the air and make me do stupid voices and then he’d show up unexpectedly at my high school job to do “remote” broadcasts…I figured if I wasn’t shy on the radio, he’d overlook our seven year age difference. Apparently, he was more worried about how it would look for a 23 y/o dude to be “dating” a 16 y/o girl than I was! haha…

6) cemetery historian — I came up with this one a few years ago in a graduate English class when the professor had this as a creepy outside hobby. I haven’t given it up, but I think she’d get pissed if I stole her idea. But it’s sooooo me!!!

7) archeologist — well, this one sort of combines with an underwater treasure hunter because I’d love to be able follow clues and unlock mysteries of different ancient cultures. Or go diving and find some cool undiscovered pirate ship. This one has been a dream job since I was probably twelvish, but got worse when I lived in Vegas and attended a training on The Jason Project. I learned about the age of the mountains out west and that if the earth plates had moved like a quarter inch, Vegas would have been a rainforest rather than a desert. Cool, huh?

8) Greyhound bus researcher — I just found this one out….I saw an interview with a dude a few months back who had literally ridden the bus cross-country several times, interviewed fellow passengers to find out their stories, wrote them down, published it, and now he’s a gazillionaire. Why can’t I think of something stupid like that??

9) Heiress — I just want to learn that my long lost great-grandmama, who had been searching for me since the tragic death of my real parents, had finally found me. The shock was so great that she keeled over dead with a heart attack, but not before leaving me her gazillions and English title of Duchess!! (I’m not giving this one up either; it could happen!)

10) traveling fair/circus performer — Have you read Water for Elephants??? If so, you’d understand; if not, get thee to a bookstore immediately!

11) independent bookstore owner — I tried to get the Kevman to start a bookstore/coffee shop for me a few years back, but he’s not brave enough. He likes that I have a steady paycheck. “YOU’RE HOLDING ME BACK, SUCKA!”

12) Senate aide — I know government jobs probably aren’t very popular, but I’ve always thought that Washington would be a glamourous place to work. And the way the Representatives and Senators are, there could be “perks” — haha….(geez, I’m glad no one’s going to read this post tonight!! haha)

13) investigative reporter — Can I bring down the bad guy? I think this goes back to my wanting to be a CIA agent…I need a world of good guys and bad guys. Who am I supposed to believe? Who’s lying? And, most importantly, WHY???

I like collecting dream jobs…you never know when you might get the opportunity to do something different, so you have to be ready. But now that I’m finished with my list, I think I might really want to write about a character with one of these jobs….I can wonder what it would be like to live that life rather than the one I have. Wonder if I’d miss this one??

What dream jobs do you have?

p.s….I left off Krispy Kreme employee…but that’s probably for the best!

p.s.s Thought, if you’re still reading, you’d like to hear the poem my post reminds me of…

 

I found a tumor in my left breast on Halloween. It turned out to be cancer — THE diagnosis that every woman fears (well, I guess cancer is a scary for whoever it is and where ever it is–didn’t mean to be insensitive). I had two treatment opinions — made the right choice of a mastectomy with a low chance of having chemotherapy; however, I also had to be screened for the genetic mutation for breast cancer. Surgery was scheduled for December (during school’s break) for the left side where the tumor sat, making fun of me and the life I’ve made for myself. The day of the surgery, though, my doctor called me over to a quiet hallway to tell me that the mutation came back positive — I’d need both breasts removed, and need to have my ovaries removed sometime soon as well (which is really weird because I’m not a girly-girl too much — you’d think I’d have known if I had too much estrogen! 😉   >

So, it’s been almost a month since surgery. I’m still recuperating, trying to get my range of motion back in my arms, and learn how to use my upper body again (you never know all the things that your boobies do for you until you don’t have them —that might be a later post). At the time of the surgery, I was also seen by a plastic surgeon who prepped me for reconstructive surgery, so along with some remaining numbness where lymph nodes were removed, now I feel like I have extra petite rubber bands pulling my chest together. On Friday, I get my first fill of saline into the expanders, and am supposed to be able to return to work the next Monday. I’m wondering though.

My slice isn’t about my diagnosis or treatment or recuperation, though. I needed to write about the things I’m thankful for these last few weeks — So here’s my love-letter:

A Love Letter in 13 Stanzas

1) Dear Kevin: Thank you for not crying and leaving me. Thank you for emptying the drains. Thank you for worrying about the insurance. Thank you for understanding my “safe word” – turtle — meant I couldn’t get up. Thank you for giving me the marriage that my uncle gave my aunt — the Forever kind.

2) Dear Paula: Thank you for not panicking. Thank you for going with me to the doctor and asking questions that I didn’t think about. Thank you for entertaining Lily and consoling Jake. Thank you for scrambled eggs, and coffee with whipped creme (did you just say “whipped creme” like Stewie on Family Guy?? haha). Thank you for washing clothes, and making me laugh, and taking care of me even when you weren’t physically here. And thanks for the advice on my new boobage size, but “B” is too small –haha….

3) Dear Jake: Thank you for holding me when I told you I about this diagnosis. Thank you for texting and calling every 15 minutes when I was in the doctor’s office. Thank you for coming home with me rather than stay at college by yourself for 5 days before your last exam. Thank you for entertaining Lily, and letting the dogs out, and trying to get me to read the Steve Jobs’ biography (I promise I’ll get to it). Thank you for your hugs and periodic only-because-you’re-my-mom kisses.  Thank you for just being here (oh, and the Blu-Ray Star Wars marathon!).

4) Dear Lily: Thanks for hugging my arm when I had to tell you about my surgery. Thanks for letting Jake console you for a few minutes, but then bringing a pillow to me and crawling up in my lap. Thanks for saying “I love you even with no boobies, Mommy.” Thanks for drawing pictures and writing stories and sitting with me on the couch. Thanks for telling me it’s time to walk around the yard.

5) Dear Mama: Thanks for making sure to get Lily from school each day and asking if there’s anything I need.

6) Dear Donna: Thanks for being my secret-keeper for so long — and NOT getting me a creepy sympathy card! haha…Also, thanks for saving me from Somer’s pregnancy crying spell that almost drove me crazy!! 😉

7) Dear Somer: Thanks for your letter the day before my surgery. It’s in my daybook (writer’s notebook) so I can keep it forever. Thanks for finally quitting that crappy crying when I said to!

8 ) Dear Lindsey: Thanks for coming to sit with me for while and just chat. Thanks for the book (that I haven’ read yet, but started last night). Thanks for sending me sarcastic-I-can’t-believe-we-work-with-morons texts!

9) Dear T-Bone: Thanks for letting me have my sister for a while. I know ya’ll have a “thang” but she has to love me more — I mean, you stole my Nook, for crying out loud! haha…Thanks for not making it easy to feel too sorry for myself.

10) Dear Staff of WLHS: Thanks for your support, but more importantly for respecting my privacy. I didn’t tell many people (see 4!), but I know a lot of people were worried about my absences. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers and just being the best people on earth (And especially Emily for the food and taking care of  my pay check!).

11) Dear Jackie: Thank you for being the BEST substitute in the ENTIRE world. Thanks for being able to decipher what I “really” want the kids to do and what is fluff. Thank you for making it easier to recuperate — I know you can handle things with the students. Thank you for your support and for laughing with me about trivial things (like my missing boobages!).

12) Dear Staff of Wake Forest Baptist Hospital: Thank you for your focus on my health. Thank you for checking on me and knowing the best course of action and delivering news as gently as possible. Thank you for answering all my questions. Thank you for letting me cry when I called and not making fun of me. Thank you for knowing I wasn’t ready to come home after one day, but insisting that I stay and let you take care of me a little longer. Thank you for getting all the cancer out of my breast.

13) Last, but NOT least, Dear Tammy: Without you, I’m not sure what my life would be like right now. Thank you for your advice to get a second opinion. Thank you for talking to me, but not in a gossipy way. Thank you for sharing your experience, even though it must have been so hard to relive that time in your life. Thank you for telling me to take charge of my treatment, and remember that doctors are just people, not Gods. Thank you for letting me cry when I needed to and be logical when that was what I needed to do. Thanks for telling me what to expect during and after surgery. Thanks for checking on me. Thanks for being my friend. (Oh, thanks for letting me check out so many library books…I hope I can find them all!)

Love,

Stephanie

I’m stuck at home for another summer. The economy stinks, Jake’s tuition has depleted any “extra” money we may have, and we’re still reeling from saving the dog’s life last year. Added to this, I’m going to start another year with no raise at work, but increased insurance rates and no other money for supplies. I am more than a little miffed when I think of this.

To make matters worse I happen upon this girl’s website who claims to be a “Bookaholic” (I really should have TM-ed that term a long time ago! haha)…she’s a teacher (of course) who “reads” and “travels” and has 750 people “following” her….Then, I read on Twitter about all these really cool teacher workshops that people are going to that I can’t attend. At first, I just kept getting mad and let my jealousy bug get the best of me. Then, I decided to make a video

Here it is:

13 Places I’d Love to See (some, again)….

1–sailing

2–Bahamas

3 — Savannah

4 — hiking in perfection

5 — RVing to: Colorado

6 — Big Sur

7 — Mount Rushmore

8 —  Grand Canyon

9 — Plane to: Key West

10 —  Belize

11 –Venice, Italy

12 –Rome, Italy

13 –Charleston

I hope you enjoyed my movie…I feel much better now!

😉

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