Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I am the sunflower

After an unseasonably long winter followed by a cool summer, I'm beginning to wilt.

Bundled in a long-sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, and jeans, I went to the Indiana State Fair and saw this sad sight:

And I thought, that's a little like me, right now.

Summers of Indiana Past, I remember you.

Hot, 95 degree days. Humidity so thick you can drink it. Feeling the heat burn through your shirt and lighting a fire on your skin. Reading a book in the full afternoon sun while sipping iced tea.

I don't think I've ever complained about the heat. Even when our summer was so hot, our neighborhood pool felt like a hot tub, I didn't complain. I love the heat.

And without it, I'm starting to wither a little bit inside.

Shallow? Maybe.

And yet there are people rejoicing. My husband says this is the best Indiana summer EVER.

I roll my eyes.

And contemplate moving even further south.

Or buying a heat lamp.

You get the idea.

There are plants that thrive in the coolness of the summer. But like tomatoes. And roses. And that poor sunflower. I miss the heat.

Here's a haiku poem about it:

Indy in Summer
Remember 90 degrees
How I long for you

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Magic Ring: 20 Minute Free-Writing

20 Minute Free-Writing
Topic: A girls find a diamond ring on the bus


Bump. Bump. Bump. Screech. Our yellow bus began to slow near my stop.

Carefully peeling my legs off of the hot, plastic bench, I scooted to the aisle. Flinging my backpack over my shoulder, I stood, just as the bus made a final jerk, lunging me down to the ground. I wish I were wearing jeans, I thought, examining the small stones that had planted themselves in my knees.

Tucking my long bangs behind my ear, I went to stand up, but then I caught a glimpse of a shiny object under the seat. Bravely, I pushed through the years of dirt and took hold of a small, hard object. Brushing it off, I could tell it was a ring, but I didn’t have time to examine it.

“Are you getting off or not?” the boy behind me asked rudely. In my mind, I replied powerfully, putting him in his place. But in reality, I simply kept my tongue quiet, forced the ring into the tight front pocket of my shorts, and sauntered forward.

I was only a block from my house. I kept the ring hidden, not wanting to share my treasure with any of the kids at my stop. I passed a row of perfectly manicured homes before I saw my own – a mess of weeds and overgrown bushes. My mom always said that dandelions deserved a chance to grow, but I wasn’t so sure. I was already different. I wished our home didn’t have to be different too.

Flipping up the shabby welcome mat that had seen better days, I grabbed the key and pushed the door in with my shoulder, letting the screen door slam. Mom would hate that, but she wasn’t home to hear it.

I dumped my bag in the middle of the hallway, poured a glass of milk, and sat down at the table where the afternoon sun was magnifying its scratched surface. The ring was hard and round, with a hint of shimmer mixed with lint. I rubbed it vigorously onto my t-shirt to remove some of the grime. As the dirt was rubbed away, the ring began to glow. A smile spread across my face for the first time that day. Maybe that week.

Without hesitating, I slipped it easily onto my finger. And in that moment, everything disappeared.  


While teaching the girls creative writing this year, I'm going to be writing myself. We're using Gail Carson Levine's book Writing Magic as our inspiration, and we're taking creative liberties from there.

So far, it's been fun! I'm amazed at what the girls come up with. For this topic, A13 wrote a story around the Harry Potter series, and K11 started a mystery.

As Levine advises, "The way to becoming a better writer is to write more."