Thursday, October 3, 2013

Forging A Path With A Reinvented Wheel

Today I was thinking about that phrase "Why reinvent the wheel if it's already been done?" 

I think people who use this phrase are unimaginitive-- not just because they use a cliche phrase that's been passed around more times than the potato in a game of hot potato, but also because they rely on others' paths to follow their own.

My entire life I've prided myself in being unique. Always a quiet outcast, I spent the majority of my life doing my own thing. I've become so self reliant that when a shortcut someone's created presents itself, chances are I won't use it because I'd rather spend the time doing it, myself, in my own way.

I know many people would probably argue against my roundabout way of life. It's time consuming, it's redundant, it's unnecessary, it's foolish, they'd say. And I would respond with an assured yes in that reinventing the wheel and stubbornly refusing a shortcut is time consuming.

But you see-- for me, the goal begins selfishly. When I create, I first do it for me. I want to mess up and get frustrated and then rejoice when I finally make it go my way. If someone were to ask why I would want to go through all that trouble, I'd explain it like this: 

at one point in time, someone just like me sat down with the intent of achieving my goal, and had the privilege of experiencing the creative process in its entirety. So although someone else has already done it, does that mean I should allow myself to be robbed of doing it for myself?
Because, in the long run,

creation is not about the product; creation is about the journey.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I plugged an old external hard drive into my laptop and came across this old poem I wrote:

A Game of Catch

A gray sky explosion
Of pieces of light
Builds a ladder through the clouds.

Windshield wipers will the ladder to break
And splinter into drops

To throw in a game of catch.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Day In The Life of A Non-Married High School English Teacher

6AM: Get up, shower, dress, eat, drive to work

7:45AM: Check emails, get home room cards ready, stand in the hall and greet students

8AM-11AM: Take and report home room attendance, and teach three classes of 25-36+ students the lesson you finished laboring over last night. Watch students, care for students, clarify for students, discipline a student or two, assist students, listen to students, be a role model for students, answer student questions, etc.

12-1PM: Eat lunch and maybe grade some papers if you aren't called to fill in for another teacher who is absent.

1-3:10PM: Follow the same procedure you did from 8-11AM, but do it with more fatigue, with students who are now fully awake and have too much energy, with more enthusiasm, and with much more attention and patience.

3:10-6PM: Stay after school, tired from the long day, and with complete mental fatigue grade class work, prepare for tomorrow, tidy up the room, make phone calls home to parents, check attendance lists to report students who have cut your class, do paperwork for IEP's or for ESL teachers, do paperwork for the principal or main office, consult with colleagues, etc.

6PM: Go to the gym to destress.

8PM: Eat dinner and spend time with family

9PM: Shower

9:30PM: Finish lesson plans for tomorrow, and do any research for materials needed to be taught

10PM (or later): Bed

Repeat this process Monday-Friday with some minor variation.
Imagine if I had a son or daughter I need to care for on top of all of that!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Disillusioned Friendship

Once, there was a time
When I didn't know what friendship was
Or what it meant to be a friend

I believed that people are inherently good
That all treat all with a steadfast permanence of character
Governed by the laws of the golden rule

I believed that being a friend meant
Give all and take nothing;
Let others take and take

I learned, unfortunately, once,
That when people are allowed to take and take,
Eventually the abundant well of my will dries and cracks

Leaving me crawling, dry mouthed and shriveled
To die in someone's greedy hot thirst
That relentlessly takes and takes.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Before I Die I Want To...

I'm a day behind on my writing for Teachers Write! Yesterday's writing prompt was to finish the following statement for myself and my main character: "Before I die I want to..."

Before I Die I Want To

Dig my toes into the pink sands of Bermuda
Travel to Italy and hold a conversation with an Italian using hand gestures only
Tell everybody close "I love you"
Adopt as many animals as possible
Teach at least one person something new every day
Inspire others to treat humanity with humanity
Change a child's life for the better
Go to Germany to find someone related to me
Write many books
Own a lucrative mobile kitchen
Pay a paparrazi to follow me as I Monroe-walk past movie stars' houses dressed to the nines
Meet a movie star
Sing to a crowd of 1,000+
Read as many books as possible
Hold a baby in my arms
Have many stories to tell my grandchildren
Grow up
Get a doctorate degree
Camp on the beach
Say "I do"
Laugh as many times as possible
Become an Internet celebrity
Never waste a moment
Be okay with dying
Feel peace.

My MC:
"What would I want to do before I die? I think what I want to do before I die is reach my highest potential physically, mentally, and professionally. I want Mom to live free from the shackles of vocational servitude. I want to carry that burden for her as she has done for me all these years. Before I die, I want my mom to be so proud of me."


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Today's Quick Write prompt asks me to get personal with a character in the story I'm writing. I have to ask her the following questions:

• What do you look like? (Remember to answer how your character would answer)
• Describe your bedroom. Do you have your own room? Share?
• What is your family like?
• What is your school like? Describe it. What are your classmates like? Describe them.
• What is your favorite thing about yourself? Least favorite?
• What is your biggest pet peeve?
• What are you afraid of?
• What do you want, but can’t have?
• Who is your best friend?
• Who is your worst enemy?
• What do you want people to know about you, but are afraid to share?

Earlier today as I sat in Spring Mountain High School's LGI room tapping my foot on the floor to a tune in my head and listening to my foot taps echoing off the wall, I began to remember how I felt as a teenager in high school. The dread, guilt, pain, happiness, naivety, and vivaciousness you feel all in one moment of time. These were the feelings that flooded through me as I anxiously anticipated Genesis Mirlo's interview. 

After waiting a couple of minutes, I finally heard the metallic clanging of the door bar at the front of the room, and watched as Genesis slowly emerged from the blackened depths of the hallway. What I saw walking toward me was a beautiful, dark haired, seventeen year old Hispanic girl. Her strong, athletic body glided gracefully down the small LGI auditorium aisle until she reached the back of the room to take the empty seat next to mine. This is the conversation that followed:

Genesis, thank you for coming here today to do this interview with me. So I heard from some of your friends that you live on the west side of town. Could you please tell me a little bit about your neighborhood and your house?
Thanks for asking me to do this interview. So, yes, I do live on the west side of the city of Mountain Spring. The neighborhood where my house is isn't too bad, but if you start going a block north or east from where I am, you'll start to notice more shady people, crime, and a lot more police activity going on at those streets. Sometimes I hear gun shots from down the street; they'll wake me up in the middle of the night like at 2 or 3 in the morning. I've had to learn how to get used to them-- I mean, it's not like Mom and I have any other options for places to live. You have to kind of think of them like thunder. The closer they are, the more dangerous they are. The further away they are, the less dangerous they are. We used to call the cops whenever we would hear gunshots, but we have never actually heard any police sirens in the general area until about an hour after we called. Our police are so busy dealing with the crap in our city that it is hard for them to really get anything done. My neighbors are nice, though. Donny and Sena are our neighbors in the house that connects to our right, and old Mrs. Sanchez is our neighbor to the left. They are all good at keeping their problems quiet and to themselves, so Mom and I have never been annoyed by them. 

My actual house is a townhouse on Walnut Street. It's just like all of the other townhomes in the city: it's a three story, early 19th century, monster of a house. Everything inside the house is finished in dark cherry wood, and my room is on the first floor in the way back of the house, down the hall from the kitchen. My room is probably my most favorite place in the house. I have all of the walls decorated with pictures of me and my friends, me and my dad, and me and my mom. 

Genesis, I couldn't help but notice you mention your mom and dad. Can you tell me a little bit about your family?
My family is kind of complicated. See, we used to live out in Carryville when I was really young. It was pretty nice living there. We had a single standing home on a nice sized piece of land, and I went to a cleaner and less crowded school out there. We moved because Dad got sick with cancer and it turned into one of those deals where we had to give up our house because it cost us too much to keep with dad out of work and mom paying his doctor bills. Dad died when I was 12 years old, and we've been living on Walnut street ever since then. Now my mom works as a secretary at Markson's Medical office, so she's barely ever home because she's trying to keep the house. I think she's also trying to stay busy so she doesn't think about Dad too much. She never met anybody after Dad, and she never talks about anyone she is interested in at work or anywhere. Even though Mom works a lot, she and I are still pretty close. We have good talks when she is home, and we leave notes to each other to see whenever we are coming or going from the house and the other person's not there.

I'm sorry to hear about your father, though I am happy to hear that you are close to your mom. So when your mom is at work, and you are at home, what do you do with your free time?

Well, my free time mostly consists of spending time with my two best friends, Marlana and Erica. We do everything together. You name it, we do it. We are always going to the movies to see anything that has just come out; sometimes we go to Erica's boyfriend, Tony's house; we'll hang out on the corner in front of Fernando's shop to see who's walking around the area, and to get out and socialize with some of the other kids from our school who hang out around that area; we'll go to one of our houses to hang out; or we'll walk around up in the woods behind our high school. If I'm not spending time with my friends, I'm at the gym practicing karate, or I'm out on the streets running. When I say running, I mean running. I can run two miles in 11 minutes. I'm really fast. People keep telling me to join the track team, but I can't because it would cut too much into the free time I have with my mom. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Today, Kate Messner had asked us (me) to write a poem about a place that I love. What I see, what I smell, what I hear, what I taste, what I feel, and what I wonder when I am there.

The first obstacle to tackle is my favorite place. Here 'goes:

Grandmom's house
The driver's seat of my old car
At the drive-in
My bed

Ok, now that I've done that, here's my poem:

When I lie in bed, the fan blows its cool breath against my hair,
Using it to tickle my face and scalp,
To raise awareness of parts of me I sometimes forget exist.

To forget part of you exists...
When one is enveloped in the arms of worry,
Sometimes it is easy to forget about being alive.

Breathing in long, perfume laced breaths,
My toes curl beneath cool linen sheets speckled with turquoise and lime green polka dots.
My chest bobbles up and down in a sea of vines that seem to grow along the bedspread with each breath.

Everything I touch in this room is alive.
I turn to my side to kiss a peaceful dreamer, and
I remember what life is all about, and how precious it is.

This summer I have decided to write alongside my fellow colleagues in an online writing summer camp entitled "Teachers Write!" I am thoroughly excited about joining this group for a number of reasons. First, because it appeals to my inner nerd. Second, because I've never been a part of an online writing group and I feel excited to be a part of a program that enables me to write with peers. Lastly, because I am an aspiring writer and feel inspired to persevere with my writing using the prompts professional writers provide for me in this program.

I decided to use MMI as my writing notebook for this summer's session. I've never kept an online blog as a notebook, but I am excited to try this out...

So I guess I should get started. Hi! My name is Dalin Rachael and I am a certified 7th-12th grade English Literature teacher. I work in an inner city school district where I have spent the first four of the past five years teaching 7th graders, and this past year teaching 10th-12th graders. Although the job is stressful, I would not trade the satisfying feeling of connecting intellectually with budding young intellectuals any day! To know that I help shape the lives and minds of our future thinkers gives me a sense of empowerment and fulfillment that I could never receive in any other type of job.

I hope you enjoy reading my summer's writings.