Lesson Plans

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On urine-stained keys.

Published July 13, 2012 by mandileighbean

Despite Murphy’s Law almost taking effect, I think the second interview today went well.  This morning, I was printing out 16 pictures for my mock lesson – two copies each of eight pictures dealing with The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in some aspect.  Although I love my printer and think it’s completely awesome that is has the ability to print photo-quality pictures, the process is incredibly time consuming.  I only had time to print twelve and my lesson plan before I rushed out the door.

I stopped at Dunkin Donuts before I hit the parkway for an iced French Vanilla coffee, but it was disgusting so I didn’t finish it.  I have no one to blame but myself; I still don’t know how to properly order coffee.  I’d much rather just make it myself.  Because it was iced and because it was hot outside and because my car does not have air conditioning, the plastic cup condensated severely, to the point where it left a puddle in the cup holder.  It was a very small puddle, but still a force to be reckoned with apparently, because I set my iPod in the cup holder during my mock lesson and it now has water damage.  It’s stuck in the “locked” position and won’t stop playing.  I hope it’ll dry out and right itself.

I was about 30 minutes into my drive when I realized I still had Jimmy’s carseat in the back of my truck from yesterday.  Spank me hard; Mom totally needed it to take Jimmy to the store with her today because she needed to buy supplies for Mikey since he is going to Boy Scout Summer Camp. I wasn’t going to get home until the afternoon, so she went anyway, strapping Jimmy into the seatbelt and praying she didn’t get a ticket.  Thankfully, everything turned out just fine.

Before I got to the high school, I stopped at a Walgreen’s nearby to use the restroom.  I wasn’t buying anything, so the only item I brought in with me was my car key, which is a single key.  It used to be on a little key chain, but I took it off and I cannot remember why.  Anyway, I didn’t have any pockets in my dress and didn’t have my purse with me, so while I was gathering toilet paper, I put the key in my mouth for safe keeping.  I didn’t swallow it or anything, but left it dangling precariously between my lips so that it fell into the toilet.  I’m not proud of the fact that I retrieved my one and only car key from a public toilet, but it needed to be done.

When I got to the interview, everything went surprisingly well.  The woman said my lesson went very, very well.  She wanted me to meet with the principal but he was in Trenton, so I’m journeying back tomorrow.  To make it even more worthwhile, I’m going to meet Raina for lunch.

She also asked for a writing sample.  I had two choices: a prompt from the AP test, or writing about a time I dealt with a difficult and/or challenging student.  I haven’t (knock on wood) had a truly difficult and/or challenging student, so I went to with the prompt from the AP test.  You had to pick a novel from the list and discuss and analyze how symbolism is used in the novel.  You also had to come up with a catchy title.  I saw Invisible Man and thought of Ralph Ellison’s novel.  I also remembered the light bulbs in his basement apartment.  I thought they symbolized his desire to be noticed and in the spotlight, his desire to be separate from his race and seen as a human being rather than be negelected for being a black man, and that fact that the electricity was stolen showed his bitterness and anger turned into a form of rebellion.  Wikipedia says the symbolism is that the light is the truth.  Ooops.  It has also dawned on me that the novel could have been The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells.  Damnit.

And it isn’t even Friday the 13th. Wow.

The prompt for today has three parts to it, so I’m going to break it down and make it last over three days. Enjoy!

PROMPT: “You accidentally overhear a conversation between two people you’ve never met. The topic of the conversation shocks and dismays you. Write about these conversations and describe how you respond to the content:

  • 1. A conversation between two stockbrokers
  • 2. A conversation between a priest and a member of his parish
  • 3. A conversation between a woman and the man with whom she’s been cheating on her husband

PIECE (#1): I was sitting at the local Starbucks minding my own business, just trying to fit in and be trendy – reading a copy of The New York Times and sipping on an iced coffee.  I was perusing the Arts and Literature section, hoping some beautiful and brilliant stranger would notice and comment, and then whisk me off my feet with wonderful conversation.  As that had yet to happen, I was susceptible to distractions and more often than not, the word “rape” serves as a ginormous distraction.  The word had been uttered in a painful-sounding whisper emitted from a pale and trembling young man.  He was sweaty and shaky, but wearing a suit.  The contradiction was intriguing, and as discreetly as possible, I began to listen to the unfolding discussion.

“I don’t know, Pete,” the shaky man gulped.  “I think we should tell someone about it.  I saw her, man.  She looked rough; like she’d been in the ring for ten rounds.  That’s not right.”  At the end of his speaking, he looked down at his trembling hands.

“Are you seriously thinking about going to the cops?” Pete asked, clearly shocked and appalled at the mere idea of involving the proper authorities in whatever mess they were talking about.  “What will happen to us, Tom?  What about our careers?  What about our futures?  If we blow the whistle, every accounting firm in the city will blacklist us as squealers and tattletales.  We didn’t rape anyone, so why should we be punished?”

My eyes were wide behind my paper.  There had been a rape?  These two knew about it, and hadn’t done anything about it?

Tom looked up with a pained expression, moving closer to Pete and dropping his voice even lower.  “What about her, Pete?  What about the girl?”

“What about her?” Pete shot back.  “She can go to the authorities.  It’s not our affair to be involved in.  All we did was attend a party, all right?”

Tears welled in Tom’s eyes.  “What if she comes to us for help?  What if she needs us to be witnesses and to speak up?  What would you say, Pete?”  Despite the fact that Tom was clearly depressed and unsure of himself, his question was more challenging than it was rhetorical.

It was now Pete’s turn to drop his gaze.  He leaned back in his chair, and his cheeks reddened with shame.  He spoke through gritted teeth with a hand almost covering his mouth.  “I’m not going to say anything, Tom.  You won’t either, if you know what’s good for you.”

I had heard enough.  Slowly, I stood.  I folded my paper neatly and placed it on the tabletop, beside my unfinished coffee.  I turned to my left and walked just a few paces until I was standing in front of Pete.  I pulled my hand back and slapped the bastard as hard as I could across the face.  Tom jumped to his feet, surprised but not knowing what to do.  I leaned forward, nearly spitting in Pete’s face and said, “You’re a monster.”

On being thankful.

Published May 11, 2012 by mandileighbean

Today was long day. I taught, stayed after, and did three hours of home instruction. I am definitely exhausted, and am most certainly looking forward to crashing and burning.

I was a little upset I wasn’t able to go for a walk today, but congratulated myself for not overeating. I treated myself to a tablespoon of chocolate syrup in my coffee – an activity which is highly recommended.

🙂

I cannot stop listening to Phillip Phillips. He’s a contestant on American Idol. I think he’s devastatingly handsome and his voice is incredibly alluring and sexy. It makes me long for a romantic relationship moreso than I already do. In working on today’s prompt, I soon realized that absolutely everything I write essentially boils down to that one desire. I do not necessarily think there’s anything wrong in doing so, but I do hope to live a life filled with varied experiences so my writing can vary accordingly. I don’t want to become a broken record, and as much as I enjoy being restless, I do not want to remain unfulfilled in any regard.

PROMPT: Thankful I’m a Writer
  Finish this sentence: I’m thankful I’m a writer because …

I’m thankful I’m a writer because I relish the fact that it is both a blessing and a curse. I love duality and contradiction because I believe that power and universality lies within the abstract. Being a writer allows me to search for such power in my own life, and thereby allows me to feel things more poignantly because I subscribe specific meaning to every blessed detail of my life. If that makes me pretentious or self-righteous, then so be it. Being a writer simultaneously scorches and soothes – every set back is a catastrophe and every joy is a major triumph. I used to worry that such exhilarating highs and devastating lows were evidence of manic behavior and it’s a definite possibility that I am crazy, but so what? Being a writer has freed me; I am unashamed. We are only here once. If we lose a day, we never ever get it back.

I believe that being a writer has completely informed and shaped my philosophy on life – I have been heavily influenced by practically everything I’ve read and thereby firmly believe that my life has a plot and accompanying themes, that I am the protagonist and that my friends, relations, loved ones, acquaintances, and enemies are characters. It all has an important meaning, so I think and think and think. I am constantly analyzing while that may also mean I am constantly anxious and stressed, it also just goes to show that I care, and that I care deeply about everyone who comes into my life. I highly value connections – how can that possibly be a bad thing? Life has a special inherent value that is meant to be indulged and shared. My belief system, which stems from being a writer, allows me to detect, analyze, and ascertain life in an extremely vivid and engaging way. As a writer, it’s almost as if I’m more involved in life; like I have a greater emotional investment because everything matters. Everything means something, and I communicate that through the written word. I report back and hopefully inspire – I offer up my dreams, my heartaches, and my desires so that others may live theirs, even if it is vicariously. Writing is a community – we all share our wildest dreams, worst fears, and grandest desires and from that we dream bigger and learn that everything has value, that symbolism could be lurking anywhere and that we have something worth sharing.

Somebody save me.

On delivering pizzas.

Published April 20, 2012 by mandileighbean

My little brother made his Confirmation today. It was a very nice ceremony, and I was happy to see so many students with their families. Afterwards, we had a nice pasta dinner.

I finished lesson plans, and plan to get my gradebook up and functioning this weekend.

I wish I had an update about the publishing of my manuscript, but alas; I am empty-handed. I sent in my unformatted manuscript so the editing process could begin and while that is underway, I am beginning to fill out the media forms. I am to provide the publishers with contact information for local media sources so the publishers can send out a press kit. It’s exciting but if I’m being honest, I’d rather be writing – just simply writing.

That being said, enjoy tonight’s prompt.

🙂

PROMPT: “Pizza Delivery Driver”
You’re a pizza delivery driver and it’s your last stop of the night. The house is on an unlit, unfamiliar street. As you ring the doorbell, you’re greeted by an unusual character who invites you in while he gets cash- and abruptly knocks you out cold. When you wake up, you’re tied to a chair. What happens next?

PIECE:

My eyes blinked slowly and out of sync. My left eyelid rose higher and just a moment before my right eyelid, so that it took a few blinks before the room surrounding me came into focus. At first, it was only two halves that my sluggish mind was having a hell of a time connecting. I went to bring my hands to my face to rub my palms up and down my cheeks in an effort to wake myself up, but my hands were tied securely behind me. The fear and implications of the realization were enough to jolt me to reality, and revitalize my lethargic senses. The room came into a startlingly specific kind of focus; the walls that were not quite white with the cobwebs hanging in the corners; the scratched, wooden floors that had probably been a point of pride some time long ago; the chair across from me; the emptiness of it all. I could find no identifying detail that would be used later to apprehend the individual who lived here, and who had clearly tied me to a chair.
I tried to recall what had happened. I was working at the local pizzeria, delivering pies for lackluster tips. My 1995 Ford Explorer was wheezing away from the pizzeria – and unknowingly away from the safe harbor there – towards an address I had never delivered to before. The rain had just let up and as I neared the destination, I let my foot off of the gas pedal so I was just rolling along, the rubber tires crunching against the damp pavement in the still night air. It was late, true, but it was eerily quiet. No one stirred, and there were no lights – not even lamps besides televisions that could just barely be seen through curtained living room windows. When I stopped outside 85 Potter Lane, the house was just as dark as the street and I debated on whether or not I should even get out of the truck, let alone walk up the driveway and knock. But I knew there was money to be made, cash to be in hand, so I willed the hair on my arms and neck to relax and headed for the front door. I knocked, and it sounded casual and sure.
That confidence with which I knocked quickly fed when the door opened and revealed a stooped, older man with delicate, fragile-looking hands that were clasped together and resting against his thin, frail chest. His hands were the first thing I noticed and from there, my eyes observed his dark blue velvet sweater, and loose jeans that had never been and never would be in style. He had no shoes to cover his wrinkled, nauseating feet and he was bald. I wonder if I observed everything I possibly could before meeting his eyes because in some unexplainable way, I knew it would be creepy. The lines were muted so that though he was older, his face did not show it. His eyes were nearly blank and unremarkable, as was his small and twitchy mouth. He smiled wide and it did nothing to disarm me. “Oh, pizza’s here,” he breathed. I could smell tuna and an abundance of patchouli – a combination that offended the nostrils and turned the stomach. “I just have to get some cash from my dresser. Won’t you come in?” He was still smiling.
I stepped in, smiling and holding the pizza box as if it ensured a barrier between the two of us. He shut the door behind me, and I silently prayed he would be quick in retrieving the money. I also scolded myself for my unwarranted feelings of distrust and hostility to this stranger who had so far been awkward and nothing more. Turning to look at a picture hanging on the nearest wall, the world fell to black.

I awoke tied to a chair, with only an empty chair before me to keep me company.

“You’re awake,” he breathed from somewhere close behind me. I couldn’t help it; I screamed and struggled against the ropes binding me.

“All the cash is in the car, and you can have all of it! Just let me go, please! Please don’t hurt me!” I screamed.

“I don’t want money,” he argued, sounding offended. “It’s not about what I want at all. It’s about what you want.”

“I don’t understand,” I readily admitted. Ignorance could translate to innocence.

“I saw you, looking around my home. You were looking to rob me, to take from my home!”

Clearly, this man was psychotic. “Sir, I was just looking around because there was nothing else to do! I swear, I had no intention of robbing you!”

“They sent you to spy on me, then.” He walked around the chair to stand before me, and his blank eyes were no wild. His hands were at his sides and his fists were clenched tightly. There was a palpable energy exuding from him, one of rage and paranoia. I swallowed hard.

“Sir,” I gasped, trying to relax and be rational, “I’m just a delivery guy. You ordered a pizza, so I brought it to your house. If you keep me here like this, you’re going to be in trouble.”

“Let them come,” he said. He seated himself in the empty chair opposite me. He leaned over to his left and pulled a knife that had been resting on the floor. Delicately, he placed it on his thigh and looked to me. “I’m not afraid anymore.”

My jaw dropped open and I screamed. What else could I do?
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On getting back up.

Published April 19, 2012 by mandileighbean

Okay – I know I promised myself that I would run while on vacation, and watch what I ate, and write every day. I also know that I did nothing of the sort. I am angry with myself, and I readily acknowledge that I am weak. But I simultaneously acknowledge that being weak is acceptable as long as I am not defined by my weakness. So here I am, trying again and for that, I am allowing myself a proverbial pat on the back.

Vacation was wonderful. I love my family and the time we spend together. I visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with my younger brother and was enamored with the theme park. My younger brother was a trooper, taking pictures and following me around as I flitted from attraction to attraction. He allowed me to be a nerdy, immature young woman and I love him for it. Clearly, the day we spent together was my favorite part of the entire vacation.

I saw Bruce Springsteen in concert at Madison Square Garden on Monday, April 9th. It was exhilarating, and most likely the closest I’ll ever come to having a religious experience. It inspired me to start work on a story involving an older musician coming to terms with his mortality despite the protests of his young lover and indifference of his numbed wife. What do you think? The inspiration is obvious, but I’m still working with the characters and themes, trying to twist them into something new, original and thrilling.

I was the candidate chosen for the maternity leave at the high school. I’m teaching senior English, and one section of creative writing. It is amazing, and I am incredibly excited. It hasn’t truly sunk in yet, and I need to be more disciplined in my lesson planning and classroom management. I’ve been so busy and tired that I’ve been letting things slide; for example, my first day in the classroom was yesterday, and immediately after school I had a final interview with the superintendent at the Board of Education office, then home instruction and then Confirmation practice with my younger brother. I did not get home until 8:00PM. Today, I taught, attended the faculty meeting, home instructed and now here I am, ready to write.

🙂

I hope you enjoy it.

PROMPT: “Inspiring Books.”
As writers, we all love to read good books for inspiration. What book inspired you as a writer and why?

PIECE:
I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the tenth grade, when I was fifteen-years-old. I had never experienced love that was reciprocated, but it was the only thing I wanted and something that I still yearn for. I would do anything, be anyone and commit any crime to have a hand reach for mine out of desire. I thought I had that my sophomore year, but it all came crashing down around me the way things seem to do in high school. The boy didn’t like me; he just liked the attention that I freely gave. When I read Fitzgerald’s classic, I totally empathized with Jay Gatsby and intrinsically believed that novel was written specifically for me. It was that universality – though it is a dangerous term to use – that helped me to realize that I was not crazy or melodramatic, but human and that is a story worth telling. I gained so much confidence and comfort in Gatsby’s desperation and heartbreak and demise, and fell in love with the craft because of its possibilities as presented in The Great Gatsby. It truly is the great American novel.

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