Posted in Mama, Writer

Back in Time for the Holidays

I have prepared my excuses. There are a lot of reasons why I took a week off from blogging.

Grades were due.

Graduation ate a whole day.

I had fun houseguests.

My son and daughter took turns being sick.

But the whole time I was missing blogs, I didn’t realize it until I was about to drop at the end of the day.

Work, work, work, work, lay down, eyes pop open-

“Didn’t blog today.”

That happened most days.

I’m disappointed to have broken my daily blogging streak. However, this is a great time to come back. I want to share some of my Christmas.

What I write about this holiday, I will probably keep forever. My kids are 6 and 4, and this is a big year for holiday magic.

For example, Husband wrapped the big gifts last night. I’m up early, so I’ll be able to see the kids’ reactions when they come out and see new gifts under the tree (We already had a few under there. They knew exactly how many and who each one was for).

They’re going to freak out.  

Also, this year, we live in a well-established neighborhood. We’ve been able to take afternoon walks and see some mega decorations. People around here get serious about their lights (I suspect a few neighbors are actually dueling).

The kids are enchanted.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. We have plans to make cookies for Santa. I’m trying to figure out what goes in their stockings and what should go under the tree.

We won’t have guests this year. It feels strange that it will just be the four of us. I usually try to make “favorite foods” for Christmas dinner, but with the kids mainly in attendance, I guess that’s… mac and cheese? Festive! Maybe I’ll dye it red and green.

Any minute now, the kids will come blinking out of their rooms to ask me how many days left until Christmas. I’ll tell them just two more to go- then, I’ll watch as they discover (and carefully tally) the new presents under the tree.

It’s already a fun day.

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Posted in Writer

Slapped an Ending on That Thing

I did it! Two weeks later than the goal I had originally set, but I did it!

My rough draft finally has an ending on it.

This book took a long time, and quite a few miracles (one of them is named Dianna), to make happen. I am so excited to FINALLY have a completed draft.

I must have eight incomplete books lying around. I can be such a fickle writer, especially since time became so precious.

It’s hard to believe that I was once a prolific writer. Before kids, I used to write all the time. In fact, my completed books (not my self-publishing story sets) are all from pre-baby time.

Wow. So, this book I just finished is my first beginning, middle, and end completed novel draft in over six years.

Holy.

Crap.

I wanna say, “what was I doing all this time?” but I’m not that far gone. I know what I was doing.

It was all things good, valuable, and loving-

And it deflected writing better than Captain America’s shield could have.

Which is sad, since I probably never had as much to write about as I did when the chaos was reigning.

But the streak is broken! I’m back! I even have a new story started that I intend to tackle with the same regiment of writing that got this last draft completed.

The next step, revision, is time consuming, but it’s the best part. I especially love being able to print and start scratching on paper. It makes everything fresh again, and my energy for the story comes back.

Looking forward to it.

I’m going to go make chocolate milk to toast to my draft. ‘Cause it has an ending! Yes!

   

Posted in Mama, Writer

“Yes, she’s mine. She looks like her daddy.”

I wasn’t familiar with the incredibly problematic term of “passing” until I had my son.

He’s 50% his daddy’s boy, but he has my coloring. When we go out together, I’m sure he is generally expected to be Caucasian, despite having his Korean daddy’s eyes, mouth, ears, stubbornness, etc. My son looks white.

Husband had some discomfort with this “white son of a Korean guy” feeling. He told me he felt like people weren’t sure he was Noah’s father. The fact that Noah calls Husband “Appa,” the Korean word for daddy, didn’t help.

When we met new people, we had to explain that Husband is Noah’s father. It wasn’t always assumed- which could be difficult for Husband and confusing for Noah.

I had it easy, though. Noah looked like my son in all of the stereotypical white kid of a white lady ways.

Then, I had my daughter, Josie.

She was born with a thick head of jet black hair that stood straight up. Her perfect skin is two shades lighter than Husband’s and about four shades darker than mine (my color going all the way past porcelain to “transparent”).  

My daughter has a few of my features, but her lovely coloring meant Husband and I switched places. Now, I’m dealing with the “white mom of the Asian girl” idea.

And, apparently, people just can’t even.

A woman at the grocery store approached in order to ooh and aah over my beautiful baby. Josie sat smiling in the grocery cart while the woman asked if I would mind giving her some details about how I “got” my daughter. Her own daughter was also interested in adopting from Asia, and she wanted some tips.

Yeah.

At Discovery Place Kids, while I struggled to hold on to an ecstatic one-year-old girl who was trying to go for a swim in the water table, a woman approached me and tried to bond over adoption. Apparently, she “also” had adopted a child, though not from Asia.

When I told the woman that Josie wasn’t adopted, she grew flustered, apologized, and pointed at my sister-in-law (also Korean) to ask, “Oh, so she’s hers?”

Is it so hard to believe, people? I mean, I know I’m pale, but come on. We all had to learn about the pea plants and genetics in high school, right?

Ironically, on the same trip, a little boy at the booth next to ours in the cafeteria stood up and labeled my family. Husband and his sister were “the mommy and the daddy,” the kids were “their babies,” and I was “the grandma.”

Lucky he was a minor.

I’ve been very nice, so far, but it’s getting harder. The last couple of times we’ve run into this problem, my kids were present to hear these ignorant assumptions. I do not need anyone asking if my daughter is adopted in front of my daughter.

She will have plenty of confusion about her biracial identity as she grows up in this crazy world (we’re trying to prepare for it). She doesn’t need additional confusion.

Last time, I was in the checkout line, when a man in a Harley Davidson jacket smiled at my daughter beside me. She smiled back, and the man looked at me, bent his head meaningfully in my daughter’s direction, and asked, “China?”

I laughed- and the flood gates opened.

“Nope- Charlotte, North Carolina. Presbyterian Hospital. 6 days late even though I was already 3 centimeters dilated when she was 8 months along. Had her with no anesthesia and minimal tearing, thank God. She was 7 pounds, 15 ounces, 20 inches long. She looks like her daddy- who is not Chinese.”

The poor guy. The line was pretty long, and we had to wait together for a while.

But I’m totally going to do the exact same thing the next time someone asks me.

If they’re going to walk in front of my daughter and hint at her being adopted, I’m going to speak up in front of my daughter about how she did a good job not tearing mama on her way out of my baby-making place.

At least she’ll never have to doubt where she came from. 

Posted in Writer

Only Read the Title? Got Something to Say?

If you read the article, you’re a rare gem. I encourage you, you wonderful readers, to go ahead and leave some sort of comment for the author.

Why?

Because, down below, in the murky waters of the comments section, the non-readers hold court. They spout nonsense and usually comment just because the title made them upset in some way.

Writers deserve comments from readers. We should endeavor to outnumber the non-readers.

Reacting to a title, only, is incredibly problematic. I can think of just a few scenarios where I could maybe have a legitimate reaction to an article based only on its initial title and caption.

Here are a few:

Scenarios where you’re allowed to react after just reading the title of an article-

Article: Another less-known reason not to vote for the pedophile is-

Me: Got it covered, thanks.

Article: Nuclear war could cause-

Me: (stops reading, clicks to open the comment box, writes, “Death.”)

Article: Woman who was sexually assaulted was once convicted of-

Me: Rape culture, ass hats.

Article: Laptops in the classroom-

Me: Results may vary.

Article: Parents should stop-

Me: (wishes we had an eye roll emoji for facebook reactions.)

Article: Late last night, President Trump tweeted-

Me (murmuring): He should really stop doing that.

Article: The benefits of wearing the same thing every day include-

Me: I’m in.

It’s a short list, for me. You might think of something that should be included here. 

And, if you read the article, I’d be happy to see your suggestions in the comments. I love it when that happens.

 

Posted in Professor, Writer

Talking to Myself

I’m on a perpetual loop during final grading. Here’s a good example.

(If you read this and worry that I could be suffering from split personalities-

Us, too.)

Conscience: Maybe we should let them turn in those assignments they didn’t turn in.

Rationality: Why? We didn’t give the other students that kind of leniency.

Conscience: But the other students didn’t have a major crisis and a medical emergency all while grieving for the loss of three loved ones.

Rationality: Yeah… about that- don’t you ever think it’s a little strange that these problems only come to light in the last week of classes?

Conscience: They must have been too scared/down/unwell to tell us.

Rationality: OR.

Conscience: ?

Rationality: OR they’re making it up to get extensions.

Conscience: (gasps) How can you be so cold? You think they would make up major illnesses and a dead grandparent?

Rationality: It happens all the time.

Conscience: I can’t believe we’re related.

Rationality: Just imagine it. They thought we were a big softie, laid on the puppy dog eyes, gave us a sob story, and BOOM- they go from a D to a C.

Conscience: … It really happens?

Rationality: ALL. THE. TIME.

Conscience: Oh… but what if they really were in the hospital and grieving, and we just shrug?

Rationality: Then we just… uh… wait…

Conscience:

Rationality:

Conscience: Maybe we should let them turn in those assignments they didn’t turn in.

Posted in Professor, Writer

Asspresser and Chipmunks: Our Kind of Breakfast

Marrying someone who is not a native speaker of English might seem like a surprising choice for an English teacher.

I’ve gotten the “do you bring your work home with you?” joke before.

First off- rude.

Second, I do what I like. I like English. Therefore, I English it up.

I like teaching. I’m not sure I could stop if I tried.

I lecture in the shower.

And I super-like Husband.

Anyway, there are advantages to loving a language and marrying someone who is in the learning stages of it.

I’ve read the articles about “keeping things fresh” and “using date night to find a common topic and reconnect,” and they all sound swell. In our experience, though, when things are getting repetitive, all we need is a commercial with an unusual word/phrase in it.

He asks me to explain it.

I give definitions and examples.

He brings the clipboard and asks me to write it down.

He diagrams it.

We both end up searching for linguistic explanations for why English is doing this quirky thing it’s doing.

Repeat in a few days when new vocabulary/wording strikes again.

And we do not get tired- over eight years of marriage, now.

What people sometimes forget is that Husband came here willingly. He wanted to be in America and learn English. He studied English in Korea, and one of his visas was a student visa- when we met, in fact. He might still be figuring this English thing out, but we’re both technically English majors.

It’s our kind of fun.

The other advantage is the stories. Sometimes it’s the way the language works that gets tangled, and sometimes it’s just pronunciation, but it is often hilarious.  

Like the time he tried to order an “asspresser” at the coffeeshop, and I thought a barista was going to slap him.

Or the time I was craving donuts- he grabbed his keys, and asked, while standing in the doorway,

Husband: Do you want the hushpuppy kind? 
Me: Hushpuppy? What kind of donut is that?
Husband: The ones from food lion. Creamy crispy.
Me: …. krispy kreme?
Husband: Of course. Do you want glazed from dunkin donuts? Or chipmunks?
Me: …..munchkins?

There was no real danger here- it’s not like I could be dissatisfied with any kind of donut. Or forest animal.

When Husband wanted to take a walk with me:
Husband: We need the… uh… (starts Google translating).
Me: Romance? Quality time? Exercise?
Husband (holds out phone for me to read): “Photosynthesis.”

Google Translate is like our hilarious roommate.

And, sometimes, not knowing the vocabulary makes us extra creative.

Husband trying to warn me when he rolled the giant yoga ball downstairs.
“Honey! INDIANA JONES!”

I have so. many. stories.

We will never run out of things to talk about. English contains infinite quirks.

We make lasting, meaningful memories just from trying to order at a drive through speaker.

I really don’t know how people who speak the same language keep things interesting. They’re at a surprising disadvantage in my book.

 

 

Posted in Mama, Writer

Domestic Days

Saturdays are my overcompensation days.

During the week, I tend to be all business. I only get to be with my family when I’m resting, so I’m not exactly giving them my all.

On Friday, I even make a list of all the work stuff I need to get done over the weekend. There’s a long list of things I should accomplish on Saturday, specifically, which would free up Sunday for class planning.

Then, on Saturday morning- Poof.

 

stepford
(That is not really me- I found this on Pinterest, and it had no publishing info that I could distinguish.) 

I am the wife-mama machine here to represent all things Pinterest while giving cuddles and trying to pay attention to everyone at once.

This weekend, it even started early- Friday night.

After a grading frenzy, I just had to have an extended family-time activity. Unfortunately, with little planning, our impromptu gingerbread house building didn’t have enough time to dry.

I did get a really cool action shot as it was collapsing, though.

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And it still tasted pretty good in pieces.

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Today, Saturday, I was in full-on Pinterest mommy mode.

If someone had said “Ms. T.,” I wouldn’t have looked up.

I am “Mama” on Saturdays.

There was a one-pot mac and cheese recipe with the most enthusiastic helper there is. She wants in on the action so badly that It’s all I can do to keep her from climbing in the pot.

Then, we went to the Christmas Tree Shop, where I was literally in decorative holiday plate paradise.

Favorite:

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After dinner, both kids helped me make cookie dough, 4 colors of royal icing, and (eventually) 3 dozen perfect cookie cutouts.

The super messy decorating finale was one for the history books.

And, the grand cherry on top for my domestic Saturday marathon- I cleaned it all up.

The after shots:

Tomorrow, I will remember all of the things I had scheduled myself to do today, and I will go back into 50/50 teacher/parent mode. The 7 hour football marathon, when Husband has the kids and I can work in relative peace, usually gets enough done.

I’ll keep that work momentum going until the next weekend rolls around- then I’ll probably try to embroider something while singing the ABCs and baking a cake.

 

Posted in Professor, Writer

End of Semester Teacher Thoughts

This is a joke. I embellished. And I laughed.

I wish students knew-

Student: Oh, so you mean it’s like (says something that shows she totally gets it).

Teacher thought: OHMYGOSH this teaching thing works!

Student: I did all the work in the group project. They did NOTHING.

Teacher thought: that’s most likely because you bossed the other group members around and didn’t let them make any decisions.

Student: Would it be okay if I just used the History channel as my source?

Teacher thought: No, but that would’ve been awesome.

Student: I’m really disappointed in the way you graded my paper.

Teacher thought: Really? ‘Cause the memory of that paper’s been keeping me up at night.

Student: I can’t read that because of my beliefs.

Teacher thought: How do you know…?

Student: I did everything you said to do on my rough draft. Why is my grade so low?

Teacher thought: I told you to start over. You changed paragraph 2.

Student: I’m in a tight spot- can I bring my dog to class?

Teacher thought: Against school policy, BUT I HOPE YOU DO IT ANYWAY.

Student (whispering to classmate): We never do anything in here.

Teacher thought (also whispered): Which would make the fact that you’re failing that much more spectacular.

Student: I bet you wish you could give US end of year evaluations like we give you.

Teacher thought: I have a blog.

 

 

 

Posted in Writer

Why I Just Can’t Even Right Now

I was sitting here, feeling sorry for myself, thinking about all of the reasons why I just can’t blog tonight. So, I’m gonna blog those reasons.

Logic.

1.) I am very tired.

2.) I am a cranky person in general after 9 p.m.

3.) There were so many things today, and I now feel scattered and forgetful.

4.) I didn’t make my deadline for something else and am already feeling that tense stomach churning thing.

5.) I turned off all other parts of my brain in order to grade papers, and I would really like to just let my brain run free and frolic for a while.

6.) I could be baking cookies. We have holiday color m&ms. 

7.) Maybe I’ll enjoy this blogging challenge more during a different time, when I can devote a little more attention to what I write. 

8.) Since I’m feeling all these things, I don’t want to blog and make the poor reader fall into my current negativity.

9.) I’ll probably be a brighter human in the morning.

10.) I’ve been thinking too much and psyching myself out.

Thank goodness the blogging community has been so positive. I am so surprised to occasionally feel this way and still be blogging.

The picture is of one of my favorite parts of Peter Elbow’s book Everyone Can Write. Blogging and writing groups have a lot in common- a community that you write alongside, along with feedback/encouragement. We should all get tea and cookies.

Posted in Writer

In Five Years…

Someone asked me where I think I’ll be in 5 years, and I don’t feel too fettered by reality today.

In 5 years, I will be:

-accepting my Master’s Degree in a scientific field (which one? Surprise me)

-publishing my third novel… that year. Boom.

-writing books about teaching scientists to write.

-teaching the bestest stuff at the bestest places.

-in denial that I have a middle schooler.

-on the other side of a lot of nachos.

-10 pounds lighter.

-starting to complain that my house is getting too quiet.

-apparently the owner of a house.

-going to my virtual reality job, making my virtual money.

-using my treadmill for a clothes rack (note- buy a treadmill).

I can’t wait.