I've Got Writes!

Teacher, Writer, Proofreader

Writing Prompt Day 3: A Habit I Wish I Didn’t Have

 

I hate that I have Cool Project ADD. Is that a thing?? If not, it is now.

I have experience with students who struggle with ADD/ADHD or whatever the current acronym is for having an attention deficit. My question is, can a person have ADD when it comes to particular parts of their lives? Namely, for me, it’s This-would-be-a-cool-project! ADD or I-can-do-that! ADD or That-shouldn’t-be-too-difficult ADD. Do these exist for you?

I can’t tell you how many crochet projects I’ve begun and been distracted from before that last stitch. There are some successes, even items I’ve made and given as beautiful gifts to friends. Even sold a few. But, the crates of yarn and bags of partly constructed … hats? gloves? sweaters? tank tops? I don’t remember and have no idea what pattern, if any, I was using when I started.

I have tried to turn an old dresser into a new and improved dresser with an additional shelving unit made from the drawers. I started on it last summer, and the shelf is still not finished. Also, it looked much better in my head–thank you, Pinterest images.

This blog is certainly an ADD issue for me as well. Sticking with a daily writing plan or pattern is challenging, but I’m trying again!!

Back to Day 1: Selfie and 15 interesting facts

Back to Day 2: Background on my blog title

 

30 Day Writing Prompts Day 2: The Meaning Behind My Blog Name

After playing with words and trying to close in on a certain niche or area of expertise, I finally decided I would just start with a writing blog that would give me a place to vent, to be creative, and to play with different topics of interest. My hope was that I would eventually cultivate a more specific blog. Ummmm … still cultivating.

I enjoy a good play on words, so I’ve Got Writes conveys my freedom (rights) to express my thoughts through the written word. One of the perks of those pesky English homophones. 🙂

I’m trying to catch up, so this will be posted the same day as Day 1. My apologies if that messes with your OCD.

30 Days of Writing Prompts: Day 1

I’ve been inspired by getadatein2016 who happens to be participating in this writing challenge, so I thought I would follow suit. I’m starting late but at least I’m starting. I frequently come across these challenges on Facebook or Pinterest and promise myself I’ll get into writing gear again. Inevitably, scrolling and pinning keeps me from the actual writing part. Ugh. I’m my own worst nightmare.

Anyway, maybe with the continued reminders in my inbox–thank you, getadatein2016–I’ll stick to it. I need to write several today and tomorrow in order to catch up, so let’s get crackin’!

Prompt #1: Post a recent selfie and list 15 interesting facts about yourself. Hmmmmm, this could take a while.

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  1. I’m not compulsively late, per se, but I live mostly in the “-ish” time frame. So if something starts at 7:00, being there at 7-ish could mean 10 ’til or 15 after.
  2. Which brings me to the fact that I’m NOT a morning person. I’ve been accused of speaking Wookiee in the mornings.
  3. I’ve been to Ecuador 3 times visiting my former exchange student/daughter and her family. (One of the best decisions of my life.)
  4. I live in Oklahoma but desperately want to live near a beautiful beach.
  5. I panic in deep water because my swimming skills are lacking.
  6. I hate winter. I hate when the sun goes down at 5:30 PM. I hate cold. (It was 3 degrees farenheit this morning–another reason to stay in bed.)
  7. I’ve been a middle school English teacher for 11 years. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I need to figure it out because this teacher pay SUCKS!
  8. I’m Dory when it comes to projects. If it’s not something that can be finished quickly, I get bored or frustrated and move on to the next one. The end result always looks better in my head than in reality.
  9. I’m known for my grammar skills. I edit and proofread much better than I write.
  10. I’ve learned to embrace change as I’ve gotten older, though it’s not always easy. Change causes you to grow in ways that you never expected. You get to see what you’re truly made of.
  11. I don’t subscribe to Netflix or dish or cable. Just regular ‘ole tv stations. (Did I mention I’m a teacher?)
  12. My favorite 80s movie is The Princess Bride–“As you wish …”
  13. I’m in my 40s, never been married, and won’t be having any little humans. It’s ok. And, NO, there’s nothing wrong with me. (I would like to find the right man and spend the rest of my life with him.)
  14. I know bits and pieces of Spanish. Wish I were fluent.
  15. I want to travel to Europe, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and any place with beautiful beaches.

Ok, there you have it. Day one writing prompt complete! Score!

A Teacher’s Decade: Suck it up, Buttercup!

Wednesday the 25th marked the official ending of my tenth year of teaching and my second year at Hefner MS. Unfortunately, the infamous Oklahoma budget cuts have forced me and many other teachers to leave our exceptional coworkers and administrators. Apparently, reading classes aren’t important enough to keep as core subjects if your school isn’t already a Title I school. But, whatever.

Experience and college degrees speak volumes in education, right?

Let’s talk a second about tenure and years of experience. The two are not compatible unless you stay in the same district forever. My 10 years of experience doesn’t count. My coworker’s 16 years of experience makes no difference. One of my social studies friends who has taught for ten years and enhances classroom learning with his military and travel expertise is still job hunting after being “let go.” We three have only one or two years each in the district. So, we are in the group that gets cut first.

Additionally, some districts and states won’t accept all of a teacher’s years of experience from another district or state. One of my colleagues has moved to Colorado. She already has a job lined up, but the Colorado district won’t accept all of her years of teaching science.

Is there any other profession that doesn’t really take into account all of your education and experience besides Monster Ed.? If there is, please inform me.

I call our educational system Monster Ed. because students are not a priority, at least not to those who are making the laws and mandates. It’s never really about the kids, and it certainly isn’t about the teachers. It’s about the almighty dollar, of course.

Perspective

However, since April, when my principal reluctantly conveyed that I would be looking for another job, my mind was bombarded by words that I say so often to my students.

In response to their, “That’s not fair!” declarations:

Life’s not fair. If anyone tells you that it is, they are lying to you. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome the obstacle. There’s always hope.

  • [sidebar] This reminds me of a Princess Bride line when Whestley says, “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Then, there’s the less formal bit ‘o wisdom:

Suck it up, Buttercup! Put on your big-girl pants!

  • [another sidebar] Oh, look! Another reminder of The Princess Bride. Happy coincidence!

So, that’s what I’m doing. Just call me Buttercup ’cause I’m suckin’ it up, putting on my big-girl pants, and thanking God that I have a job in place at another school, same district. Change is never easy, but it prompts us to learn and grow. What’s happening in our state’s budget crisis isn’t fair, but I have to go with hope and overcoming the obstacle. If I don’t, then my words to my students are empty–and I don’t like that.

Thanks for reading. I’d like to hear your stories of “suckin’ it up” during this budget fiasco (link to my letter to legislators). Please share! 🙂

My First Letter to Oklahoma Legislators

Instead of joining educators at Oklahoma’s state capitol Thursday, I composed a letter to my local officials, for the first time. It took me much longer than I care to admit, and was sent late last night to my district senator and representative. As I reread it, my editing brain was wishing I would’ve started writing the letter before yesterday to give myself more time to polish it. Ha! Oh, and the next time educators invade the capitol, I plan to be there.

Today, the proposed state budget passed. From what I understand, meeting after the normal session could have produced a less detrimental budget, regardless of the extra money it would have cost taxpayers. But, it is what it is, for now anyway.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that our upcoming presidential election is truly the most ridiculous and infuriating political show I’ve ever seen. I’ve also realized that I need to get my butt in gear and make better efforts to educate myself about my local government and get involved in the process. Maybe, just maybe, I can have a voice in my state.

Here’s the body of what I emailed last night.

My name is Amanda and I just finished my 10th year of teaching middle schoolers. The entire 10 years have been a struggle, but this year has been the one in which we educators have felt enough is enough. 

Due to budget cuts, I had to leave my current position because all core reading classes at my school were eliminated~~reading classes where I taught reading comprehension strategies and skills that students need in order to be successful in EVERY class and EVERY subject.

Additionally, my team of teachers who worked extremely well together has been completely dismantled. When a group of teachers can collaborate successfully together, the students benefit, the teachers benefit, the administration benefits, and the parents benefit~~what happened to “Don’t mess with success“?

 

Below is a snapshot of a letter that one of my sixth graders wrote to our principal last Friday, the last day of school. My principal shared it with me and the other teacher mentioned, and now I’m sharing it with you. I’ll let her words speak for themselves. 

 

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Thankfully, my principal recommended me to another principal in the district, so I do have a job for next year; however, I know great teachers who don’t. And that’s unacceptable.

I don’t know all of the inner workings of the government and politics, but I’m trying to learn and listen to people who know. I can’t tell you how to do your job any more than you can tell me how to do mine. But, your decisions do affect my job, my livelihood, my co-workers, and my students. So, please listen to educators and encourage your colleagues to listen. REALLY listen.

We cannot take any more cuts. Period. I’m in debt because my paycheck only goes so far and things tend to break. Like, hot water heaters, fan motors on the air conditioner, car stuff. I drive an ’02 Honda Civic with an oil leak, a beat-up back end and 207,000 miles on the odometer. I live in a 950-square-foot house built in 1946. I don’t subscribe to cable or Netflix because that’s an unnecessary expense that I can’t afford. I wish my college degree would pay off more than I paid in. 

I’m not trying to lay out a sob story for you, I’m just being honest and trying to do what we teachers teach our students to do: think critically, problem solve, fight for what is just, contribute to society instead of sucking it dry, and be a person of integrity.

 

So, that’s what I’m asking of you. Please use your political power to do what’s right for all of us. Do not pass the budget as it is. Rework it. Use the rainy day funds to calm this storm for our state. Or please explain to me why that wouldn’t be a good idea. I’m teachable!

One other item I’d like to address: We do NOT need standardized testing companies making profits off of our kids. We do NOT need to spend millions of dollars on standardized tests. These tests do NOT facilitate learning, nor do they assess and measure all types of learning. They steal ridiculous amounts of instruction time and cause unnecessary stress. For what? We teachers can’t look at the tests to see where our students had trouble. The students can’t even see what items they missed in order to figure out what they’re not understanding. Don’t you think eliminating standardized tests would make more sense than eliminating teachers?

Thank you for your time and service! Have a blessed day.

I’m sharing this in order to encourage those of you who have been like me for way too long. We are disconnected from those who are making decisions for us. We take for granted that those decisions will be right and will allow us to go about our daily grind as usual. But, I realize I have to take more responsibility for what’s going on in my state. I can’t allow myself to be disengaged any longer with my go-to excuse, “I don’t like politics.” (I really don’t, though.)

I’m tired of sitting on the sideline and just accepting that nobody’s going to listen to me. That the powers that be are going to do what they want and we just have to roll with it, make the best of it, etc.

Though, I do believe these mottos have their places, I’m tired of teachers (and others) cowering and feeling defeated because they’re afraid of losing their jobs if they stir up trouble. Irony glares at us when we teach our students to think critically and to actively spark positive changes in their worlds while teachers walk on eggshells and jump through illogical hoops in order to appease mandates that only hinder the learning process. ARRGGGG!!! It makes me feel like a hypocrite!

But, I’m encouraged.

Educators are running for state offices!

I’ve connected with a group of Oklahomans who are, like me, absolutely fed up and ready to do something about it. Finally!! Check it out if you are so inclined.

Thanks for taking the time to read my “writes”! It’s late and my eyes are crossing. G’nite.

New Guest Posts

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So, in an attempt to make my blog more interesting, I’m adding guest bloggers to the mix! The first sucker, I mean, visiting wordsmith happens to be my cousin, Justin, who will entertain you with his ponderings of generation gaps and adulting. Keep your Webster’s close because you just might learn a new word or two while reading “Ersatz Inspiration”.

Also, if you happened to miss my last post about saying, “So long!” to Tinder and all of its high-classed scammers, check it out here! Enjoy!

 

Ersatz Inspiration

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I had no idea what my niece was saying. I don’t mean I didn’t know the band she was talking about, or what semi-talented celebrity she thought was cute, or what oddball approach to a school subject she was discussing; I mean I honestly had no idea what she was saying. The individual words coming out of her mouth were English, but they were put together in a way that I did not recognize as discernible language. At this point I was genuinely afraid that I was, unequivocally, an adult.

I have had suspicions for some time. I recently realized I was more likely to attempt to sleep all night instead of stay up watching Monty Python films. I had taken to being concerned about my IRA instead of my GPA. (And in a related story, I have an IRA.) I have also caught myself recognizing the songs piped into the grocery store as I look at labels and compare prices instead of just buying something cheap and nacho-flavored.

Responsibility.

Adulthood.

A line from “The Breakfast Club” wafted through my mind: “when you grow up, your heart dies.” I’m not that pessimistic, so I let that one go. But I wondered if I should gear up for a mid-life crisis somewhere around the corner, and what it might look like if it shows up. I’ve already run with the bulls and swum with sharks, so my crisis should be a doozy.

As my contemplative nature kicked into overdrive, I realized every age group is isolated to the point of having almost no ability to generate meaningful dialogue with other age groups. This is likely everyone’s fault. I’m blessed to have grandparents still living; but I have no more real connection to my grandfather’s experience of being strafed by Luftwaffe fighter planes while fighting fascism any more than I have connection to young people’s needs to be precious, fragile, individual snowflakes for whom microaggressions are tantamount to being strafed by Luftwaffe fighter planes. And neither have need or desire, it seems, to foster a connection to my generation. I’m too old to be young, and too young to be middle-aged. This is definitely not a new phenomenon, just new to me.

With my newfound sense of wisdom, responsibility, and general adultiness; I thought it might just be my generation’s duty to try to bridge those seemingly unbridgable gaps between people who feel One Direction is the pinnacle of musical expression, and those who swear the best music stopped when Glenn Miller failed to land. (Well, failed to land in any way that would allow the music to continue.)

I’ve painted myself into quite a corner with this brush of responsibility. I’m not sure I’ve had the proper education or preparation for such an undertaking. It seems like a very difficult bridge to build. Then I remembered that my generation is most known for sitting in coffee shops being professional slackers. I also remembered that buying a shiny, fast car is the time-honored response to being faced with the unwanted epiphany of mortality. I’ve always seen myself as a Mercedes SL kinda guy …

~ Justin Cunningham is an over-educated, under-employed lovable rogue with incurable wanderlust. He lives in Arizona with his lovely wife, but spends an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about that place where the horizon meets the term “saudade”. He is also completely aware of how ridiculous all of this sounds.

Bye, Tinder, I’m Swiped Out!

No more swiping for me, thanks.

Profile deleted. App uninstalled. Done.

Too time-consuming.

Too many scammers, and by the way, I’ve added screen shots of the latest and final encounters for your entertainment. Take a second to read their captivating bios and text messages.

REMEMBER: These photos have been snatched and attached to fake profiles.

 

 

 

 

How do I know that the third profile is a fraud? Well, first, the mileage is showing 6556 miles away. Close to the same mileage I saw on umpteen other fraudulent profiles. When I searched the distance between Oklahoma City and Lagos, Nigeria, it calculated 6541.9 miles. Coincidence?? I don’t think so.

Additionally, when I searched the first sentence,

I want someone who is upfront and honest, and I will do the same,”

I found it verbatim on a totally separate profile on a separate site. Basically, the entire bio is a copy and paste of romance buzzwords. Just pick a phrase and Google it. You’ll see.

After reflecting upon my 6 1/2-month Tinder journey, I’ve composed the following list of pros and cons of said journey:

  • I’ve sharpened my research skills, specifically, how to reverse search an image on Google and tineye. [PRO]
  • I’ve developed painful tendonitis in my right arm, due to incessent swiping. (At least that’s my official Google-searched medical diagnosis; I’ve not yet gone to the actual doctor.) [CON]
  • I’ve increased disdain for low-life assholes who steal photos, lie about who they are, and prey upon decent people. [PRO? CON? You decide.]
  • I’ve accumulated an ass-load of blog-fodder. [PRO]
  • I’ve gone on a few dates with three attractive, considerate guys. [PRO]
  • I’ve experienced a boost of self-confidence as a result of the aforementioned dates. [PRO]
  • I’ve gained one friend–another positive outcome of the aforementioned dates. [PRO]
  • I’ve missed out on sleep, writing time, sleep, time with friends and family, and did I mention, sleep? [CON]

My Tinder Mission is over. I’m ready to move along. If I never meet a real guy to spend the rest of my life with, that’s fine. If I run into my Romeo, Prince Charming, Mr. Right, or Iron Man while selecting my favorite Greek yogurt or waiting my turn at the pharmacy, even better. I know that I gave it my best shot, and I don’t want to waste another minute swiping left, right, up, or down on a dating app. For now, I have laundry to attend to. And possibly a nap.

Feel free to leave your comments! Thanks for reading!  

Tinder Photo Swiping

I’ve lost count of the number of profiles I’ve reported as spam or Nigerian scammers this past week. These are only some of them. If you know the guys in these pics, let them know their photos have been “swiped” (pun intended). See a previous post for another stolen profile pic.

 

Warri is in Nigeria.

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Ado Ekiti is also in Nigeria.

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I want to find out how the blue airplane icon with “swiping in ______” shows up. Anyone know? I’m sure they can fake it somehow. Inquiring minds . . . 

Scammers commonly say this: “I’m here for something serious, not here for games.” (See below profile).

 

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(See profile below). Notice the mileage, where he says he’s from, the recurring schpiel that he’s deployed for “peace keeping”, and the omission of certain words that are indicative of a person whose first language is NOT English.

(See the text messages below). This one immediately asked to switch to another chat app, and he’s also deployed for peace keeping in Africa–SHOCKING, right? 

 

 

I’m not sure how long I can keep up this scammer-reporting mission because it’s certainly time-consuming. Who knows if these photos will even reach the right people, and even then, what can they do about the scum-suckers taking advantage of them and their service to our country? Not to mention those who fall prey to the low-lifes’ schemes. However, maybe something magical can come out of heeding my BS-O-Meter!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to share this info and to add your expertise or thoughts in the comment section. 

Actual Tinder Scammer Profile

So, if anyone recognizes these guys, take a minute to inform them that their photos have been hijacked. This is a perfect example of a “typical” Nigerian scammer Tinder profile. (See my previous post).

 

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