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So, I am back on WordPress.  I have been neglecting my blog and my writing, so my husband bought me a domain name for christmas.  www.booknurd.com.  This is the website, so you probably figured that out.  I want to expand the site to include different areas, but for the time being it will just be a blog.

 

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I am not sure exactly which book it was that I read that made me think, “Holy CRAP, this is something I love to do”.  Ok, I probably didn’t say “crap” because I have been reading since I was 3.  I know that as a child, there were several books that spoke to me even at a young age.  I can remember reading Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and being very moved by the love and loyalty Mike had for Mary Anne.  I know that was a book that spoke to me as a child, but I don’t know that it was “The One”.  I know I loved Dr. Seuss, Peggy Parrish with her Amelia Bedelia stories, Ramona Quinby and her sister Beezus by Beverly Cleary, Bunnicula and a list of others.  I remember as I got older Judy Blume was there to assure me that everything was ok and every other girl or boy my age felt about the same away I did.  I know the same copy of Forever floated around Dreher High School.   I read classics.  At ten, Wuthering Heights was a favorite.  It seemed very romantic to my unexperienced mind.  In 7th grade I think I was the only person who checked out Little Women, and I read it multiple times and enjoyed it each time.    I have had books taken from me at the dinner table.  I have walked to and from school with my nose in a book, oblivious to traffic or others around me.  I have ridden thousands of hours on the city bus reading each mile and, if I was not on a bus with a regular driver, I would often miss my stop.  Books were my babysitter.  They are what kept me out of trouble throughout school.  “Just let her read, and she won’t disturb her classmates” was written about me each year to the new teacher in elementary school.  Thank God for amazing teachers.

In high school I was a total nerd and read ALL TEN selections each summer on my summer reading list.  We had to choose two. That was where I found Ethan From, The Catcher in the Rye, The Sun Also Rises (with one of my favorite literary heroes, Jake Barnes, who I sort of fell in love with that summer) and so many more I can’t even remember.  I actually read books in high school that weren’t assigned.

Reading was, and still is, the only time I felt calm and relaxed.  I can sit and read a book for hours.  I can’t do much else for hours.  I become intrinsically attached to  the characters.  I have cried with and for the crazies in the series Flowers in the Attic.  I sobbed during the last 50 pages of Where the Red Fern Grows and was so thankful my 7th grade Reading teacher told me to stop on page so and so and finish it at home.  I have cried with Harry Potter, Woodrow call, at least one character in every Pat Conroy book, Lennie, Granger and Montag.  I have hated characters (most recently nearly every character in A Game of Thrones series).  I have loved characters.  I have cussed out characters. I have thrown books.  I have read and forgotten more books than many people will ever read or even know about.  I have read amazing books (To Kill A Mockingbird, Lonesome Dove).  I have read shitty books (Twilight all of them, The Notebook  – luckily, I never read anymore past that tripe), but I would read a shitty book over not reading ANY books.

I have met some of my favorite authors.  In first grade Peggy Parrish, who is an SC native, and the author of the Amelia Bedelia books came to my school.  I was STARSTRUCK.  I met Pat Conroy, more than once.  I couldn’t even SPEAK.  Anyone who knows me knows this is a grand feat in itself.  I met Frank McCourt.  I met Robert Olen Bulter and Fred Chappell. These are all authors I hold in high regard. I have met other as well. I volunteer at the SC Book Festival each year, just on the off chance I get to meet someone.

But, no, I can’t tell you the minute or the day or the book that made me a lifelong lover of books and words.  I only know that once I started, there was no stopping me.   Nothing speaks to me, touches my soul, consoles me, entertains me, evokes every emotion on the spectrum nor delights me to no end like reading a book.  I have used books as a way to escape reality and procrastinate dealing with problems, but I have a crazy brain that might be doing one thing, but in the background it’s creating a solution to a problem or dealing with an issue. Reading is just a catharsis that allows my brain to protect itself as it purges the negativity out.  I would sooner lose a limb or my hearing that lose my sight or the ability to read.  Reading is such much a part of me that, as a teacher, it seems like it should just be as natural for everyone. I find it very challenging to teach reading.  It to me should just come naturally for everyone. I don’t remember when I couldn’t read, so my own personal reading history and experience can actually work against me as I try to teach others to read and instil the same love for it that I have always had.   Luckily, I DO have successes. It excites me to no end to find books that my kids love.  I love to see a kid who has always hated reading because no one really took the time to help him choose books that he might actually ENJOY.

If I am lucky, I will die with a book in my hand.

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Growing up, we were pretty poor.  I didn’t really notice it so much because Grandma always made sure we had great Christmases and Birthdays.  I did know we didn’t have a car, but I just chalked it up to “Grandma doesn’t like to drive”.  She was a child of The Depression, a woman of a young marriage and divorce, two unruly, heathen children and as a result had learned to be crafty in her solutions to tricky situations.

When I was a little kid, several factors left me and my little sister unsupervised from about 2:30 to 4:30.  When I was ten, we moved from the Earlwood Park Area to the Melrose Heights area. We continued to go to McCants Elementary School (the best school I ever attended) because I wanted to finish up there.  It went to 6th grade and I was at the end of my 5th grade year.  We would get up before early and take a city bus downtown, transfer and then take another bus to McCants.  After school, we would need to repeat the process.  Mind you, this was in 1979, and the gentrification of the Heights hadn’t begun yet.  We lived on the last block of King Street, right down from many drug dealers and bootleggers.

Grandma didn’t really want us going home alone, and she certainly couldn’t afford someone to watch us. As a result of all these circumstances, Kelli and I took the bus downtown, but instead of transferring to the next bus, we went to Richland County Public LIbrary on the corner of Sumter and Washington streets. That was my day care center.  I knew every inch of that library.  I would wander around the art section on the second floor near the Children’s Room.  When I was tired of that, I would go look through thousands of albums.  I wandered from floor to floor, following Dewey, enjoying the smell and feel of the books.  All of the workers at the library knew us.  We were well-behaved and obviously we appreciated the books.  More importantly, we respected the sanctity of The Library.  Always easily bored, but eager to learn new things, and never shy, I befriended the women who worked in the children’s area.  Eventually, they taught me to check out books using a crazy machine that took a picture of your library card, a white paper card similar to a bi-fold business card with the map of Richland County that was represented in metal sculpture on the wall outside of the library and now resides in the new library on Assembly street, and a picture of the book from the back of the book.  They let me shelve books because I did a good job at it.  It was very important to me that books be in order and in the correct areas. I would help other little kids find books they liked.  I adored every minute of it.  I loved learning how to use the card catalog, which I can still do very well, and taught many classmates over the years how to use.

At a certain time, Kelli and I would go across the street to meet Grandma at the bus stop to go home.  I was safe every day and learned an immense amount of useful knowledge and skills.  My love of books continued to grow. My grandmother barely had a high school education, but she was had  love of books that she passed on to every one of her children and grandchildren.  No matter what our shortcomings, insanities, poor choices and mislead lives, we all had and have a love of reading and books that is nearly an obsession for some of us (me).

We only did that until I started 7th grade and walked to Hand.  I loved that year and a half spent in the stacks on Sumter Street.  It’s one of my favorite memories of being a child.  The only card I have loved as much as my first library card is my first voter’s registration card.

Image

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So, it’s been a while since I have done shown some love (and some unlove)

Things I am loving right now:

**almond bear claws from Publix

**teen lit

**my new teaching ideas

**snapped

**fresh, new razor cartridges

**the promise of fall in the air some mornings

**the reminder of summer in the air most afternoons

**planning my halloween costume

**playing with Matthew

**my new clinique mascara

**walker’s short bread

**my friends

**all of my dog/house/pool sitting jobs

**tammy’s pimento cheese

**thinking about the SC State Fair in a month!!

**reading my students’ journals (my favorite of which was a funny, cute account of trying to get Justin Beiber’s phone number on Twitter)

**our seventh graders this year

**ginger ale

**goat cheese

**sushi

**orbit spearmint gum

**my kitties

**a certain man who can always make me laugh

**movies

**new tv line ups

**project runway

**tim gunn telling off one of the contestants on PR

**Pinnacle whipped cream vodka with orange juice

**Jon Stewart and The Daily Show

**HeelTastic

**new season of The Amazing Race in two weeks!
Stuff I am not loving….

>>fall allergy season (achoooo)

>>car repairs

>>itchiness

>>being too busy to walk (which will be rectified this week!)

>>my  tan is fading

>>extremists who are intolerant

>>the stinkiness of the river

>>lazy students

>>my messy room

>>judgmental people who don’t know what they’re talking about

>>not being a trustfund baby or lottery winner

>>reruns

>>those ankle boot sandals mutations

>>jelly shoes

>>katy perry songs (all of them)

>>my spilling everything

>>my crappy old ass mattress

>>my crappy ankle

>>white chocolate

>>raspberry anything

>>lemon anything

>>the new cherry 7UP formula

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Dear Teachers:

This is to all of the teachers, professors, TA’s and anyone else who tried to teach me as a student in elementary school, middle school, high school, college, paralegal school or grad school.

Now that I teach middle school, I feel your pain, your pride, your disappointments, your fear and your amusement.  I am sorry I talked while you were trying to teach me about genetics or the Enola Gay, or, more likely than not, for reading something other than the assigned materials.  Please forgive me for being unmotivated and underachieving, for just wanting to turn in something that was just “good enough” and not always “my best”.  I know now that you didn’t want perfection, you just wanted my best, whatever that might have been.

To my elementary school teachers, thank you a million times over for your patience and judgment.  If it weren’t for you, I would probably have been pumped full of medications to calm and focus me.  Instead, you allowed me to work at my own pace, even though that meant I finished the day’s work within an hour.  Thank you for having the wisdom to know this was okay, and to just give me an open-ended pass to the library where I was able to sit quietly and calmly and read.  It was your great judgment and experience, Miss Judy Mills, that provided me with this chance to stay out of trouble and delve into a million different worlds each day. Thank you to the Librarian, Miss Ida Williams-now-Thompson, who went to the middle school (which I now work at!) to check out books for me when I had surpassed the topical and reading levels of our own elementary school.  As a teacher, I am not able to spot those kids who are too smart and plain bored in my classroom and I request that they be tested for gifted and talented programs, like Mrs. Dominic did for me in 2nd grade.   I don’t let them off the hook for misbehaving, but I don’t write them off either.   I have made them write sentence such as “I WILL NOT TALK DURING CLASS”, like the many sentences I had to write for Mrs. Childers in 3rd grade.  I also credit her with my vast vocabulary, acquired by writing dictionary pages at lunch time for her, earned by my talking during class time.  I even give lunch detention in the same fashion that Mrs. Dawkins and Mrs. Lorick gave it to me in 4th and 5th grade.

I remember that my students are just children who need to be taught proper behavior by someone, even if it’s me.  I keep in mind that some of my kids come from poorer backgrounds and try not to make them feel small or inferior.  I provide them with coats or shoes, pencils or paper.  I keep in mind that like my grandmother, not all adults have had a positive experience with teachers and school, so I treat them with dignity and respect at all times when dealing with their  children.

Many regards to the middle school teachers who tolerated me and all of my pubescent classmates as we struggled to get through this horrible age.  School was in no way important to me then.  All I cared about was not starting my period in Social Studies class, hanging out at Putt Putt and who was cute and who was going with whom.  Forgive me once again, Mrs. Redmond, for calling you Medusa in a note I was passing to Patrice Murray, that Rhett Bigby got confiscated.  I really didn’t mean and really felt bad. Thank you for accepting my apology then, and know that I learned more from that lesson than I did about science the entire time I was in 8th grade.  I am sorry Mrs. Dicks that I joined in the foolish talk that your husband’s name was “Harry”.  We were stupid and penis jokes were funny.   Thank you Mrs. Smith for telling me to stop reading Where the Red Fern Grows before Old Dan saved Billy from the mountain lion, and even worse, when Little Ann dies of starvation at Old Dan’s grave.  I sobbed like a baby that night and would have been mortified to have had that heaving, snotty nose bawl-fest in front of my classmantes.  (I am tearing up just thinking about those last few pages of that amazing book!) Thank you to the principal I work for now who remembers me as one of his students at this middle school and hired me anyway.

A begrudging thanks to those teachers at Dreher High School who tried to motivate me to stay in the Honors classes, and were disappointed when I moved to College Prep because it was easier and required little to no work on my part.  You were right.  There I said it. I DID need to be in those classes.  I didn’t know how to study in the most effective manner when I started college.  Thank you Mrs. Cauthen and Mrs. Gilmore for putting up with my pretentious reading habits and refusal to read assigned materials that I was uninterested in. Now when my students tell me how stupid or boring some story is, I am getting what I deserve.  While I never would have blatantly said this, I often thought it and just passive aggressively refused to read.  Luckily, most of you summarized so well, that I never had to.  Mrs. Gilmore, thank you for making me read A Separate Peace and The Catcher In the Rye.  However, I can never forgive you for Red Badge of Courage.  Thank you to the teachers who refrained from writing me up on a referral when I talked too much, and instead sent me to guidance, where I was put to work utilizing my office skills I had learned in my after-school job.  Now, when my student will just not shut up, I don’t write them up.  I find an alternative method of redirecting their energies.  Or I do as you did, and send them to someone else.  Thank you to Klein who forced me to show respect and didn’t allow me to call teachers by their first names, even if I knew them on a different level (like at my church). Now, I tell my students, “When you have a college degree, I will be Kim to you. Then we are equals.  Now, and until then, we are not.” I am sorry, Mrs. Masdonati for arguing with you and telling I would never need to know the formula for measuring my headlight on my car because I could just take it to NAPA for the part (even though I was right, and that’s exactly what I do now.) But don’t fret Math teachers, I DID learn some algebra, and more than a little geometry, and I am amazed every time I help a student with their math homework and actually know what I am doing and get the answer correct!

My poor, poor college professors.  I know you cared less about how I did in your classes, but I also know, as an educator, you just can’t help but wish some of us would work a little harder – at least to our potential.  Thank you most of all to Dr. C. C. Hunt for her sarcasm, wit and enormous book collection to all three of which I strive to meet or surpass on a daily basis. I can only blame it on falling in love, working, and really just wanting to have fun.  Thank you to Dr. Anna Katona for being such an inflexible, unyielding bitch, so that I could have an example of now I DIDN’T want to teach or treat students. I don’t really regret it, but I promise, that phase is over, and I am a stellar A student now.

Joe Mallini, I am NOT sorry I argued and debated the issues of law with you on a near-daily basis! It made the classes invigorating and informative for me. I only regret that you aren’t around any more and won’t be able to say I told you so, when I finally go to law school. Phil Mace, I am not sure how I learned a bit in your class, given your flaky, disjointed, absent-minded professor method of teaching, but to this day I think I learned more in Family Law than maybe any class except Wills, Trust and Probate.

As for grad school, thank you Linda Hall for helping me realize that as an educator and female leader, it is my duty to influence practice, procedure, administration and laws surrounding the education of our children.

So, to all of you who had a hand in The Education of Little Me, Thanks.  I haven’t forgotten what a pain in the ass I know I was.  So just know that I am getting my just desserts when my students who are BRILLIANT, but infamously LAZY refuse to work.  Know that I haven’t forgotten the punishments, rewards, equalities and inequalities meted out any of you, and that I use them daily.

Those of you who deal with or interact with children, please remember that they are watching everything you do and say and are absorbing and processing it all to use in their own “tool kit” for survival as adults.  Be firm, be gentle, be amused, be forgiving, be flexible, be fair, be just, be available, be there.

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I have a confession to make.  I hate poetry.  I know many of you write it, and that’s great.  I love creativity.  I will skim over it when you post it, but really I just have never liked it.  I tried writing it for a while and it was just  no fun for me. I wrote some decent poems. Actually took a class to learn to write them better in college.  I like THE RAVEN okay and JABBERWOCKY. I like THE RAVEN because it’s full of alliteration which is my favorite literary device.

I DREADED the poetry unit when I taught school.  I taught it and tried to make it interesting.  Fortunately, most middle school girls are full of angst and sadness and unrequited love so they really enjoyed it.  The boys liked some of it when I compared it to rap. I still hated it.  Not as much as Algebra, but hated it nonetheless.  Now Annie has called me wanting help with her Poetry unit.  ACK!  That is what brought all this to the surface. THE DREADED POETRY UNIT OF MIDDLE SCHOOL!!!

Maybe I am just too pragmatic for poetry to appeal to me.  The epics, odes and ballads did appeal more to me. I love to read, but I like to read stories or history.  I am not much of a romantic sort either, so maybe that’s why I don’t see the appeal of tucking in with a cup of tea and book of sonnets. I am glad there are you budding poets out there to pick up the slack for us anti-poetry types. Keep on rhyming and working that iambic pentameter.  Push those rhyming couplets coming.

And please, don’t comment with I haven’t found the right poet or poetry for me.  I was an English major nearly every English class I took involved poetry in some way.  Thank God for Moby Dick.  fortunately I was able to take Shakespeare’s Comedies and Histories and avoid Drama and Sonnets.

I guess I will stick with the poetic stylings of rappers and Dr. Seuss.

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Shit I have never been embarrassed about:

*my family – even the rednecky, loser ones.

*liking the following bands or artists: styx, journey, matchbox 20, nickleback (just like jesse), justin timberlake, tim mcgraw,  a lot of Top 40

*big hair in the 80s

*wearing black Reeboks in the 80s

*not getting my driver’s license until i was 21 – almost 22

*growing up a ‘hood rat

*painting my toenails

*having 5 cats and 2 dogs

*being a picky eater

*watching a LOT of television

*reading

*cross-stitching.  yes, i cross-stitch. so??

*believing in God, but not caring what people think, and more importantly, not caring or judging those who don’t

*never having been married

*being a liberal

*my friends

*not being a homeowner

*cussing. i cuss a lot.  a lot.

*talking to my animals and answering for them

*Duke’s mayo

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