Thursday, March 31, 2016

Gambling man, on the far side of March - 3.31 #sol16 Story Challenge

Fittingly, at the Free Technology for Teachers site yesterday, Richard Byrne shared ways to generate blog topics. One of his thoughts was, "Update old posts," and that led me to reread how I started this month-long Slice of Life Story Challenge.

I'm glad I believed in myself and took the over.

Now, on the 31st, I feel like I just went through the opposite of a cleanse. (Is there a word for that?) I feel, I don't know, disheveled, writing ideas littered all around me. I've noticed I now spend moments during my day asking, "What can I write about?" That's a new sensation, one I'd like to hang onto. What I wonder is: Can I ease off the relentless daily throttle, yet still maintain a semblance of writing routine? Weekly slices, perhaps? Or do I need to go cold writing turkey until March 2017, simply in order to refill my topic tank before next year's challenge? I expect I'll need to write my way to those answers.

For now, warm thank yous to the Two Writing Teachers blog, its supportive slicing community, to all who took time to read and write back, and especially to Kathleen Sokolowski who goaded me into this, then cheered each step I took to work my way out.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Word problem du jour - 3.30 #sol16 Story Challenge

How much time does it take to force-feed a teacher 43 slides containing 24 links that comprise over 106 pages of proctor training materials and a seven-minute video tutorial, all aimed at administering the latest flavor of state-wide standardized tests?

A. One tense 30-minute lunch period
B. Eternity x Infinity, to the power of Purgatory
C. Barely enough to form three new gray hairs
D. All of the above

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Study in bloody noses - 3.29 #sol16 Story Challenge

Little rates as more messily inconvenient than a bloody nose. That was the reminder I took away from the few pre-dawn minutes I spent splayed on the bedroom floor today, a tissue wadded into my right nostril, fingers pinching my crooked bridge.

Lying there, I also had enough time to recall the gusher that plagued me on a powder day a few winters ago: the snow spattered like a crime scene, a friend's favorite bandanna sacrificed to stop the bleeding, literally.

And any time I think of that moment, I can't forget (get this!) the time at the national championship tournament for Ultimate Frisbee, my team playing in the quarterfinals, me grumpily prone on the sideline leaking more nose blood, the game slipping out of reach.

Makes me wonder if my Achilles' heel might actually be a nose.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Another way teaching keeps me young - 3.28 #sol16 Story Challenge

I still carry memories of riding the bus as an elementary-school student. The bus stop was on the edge of a grassy field, so the other kids and I would play spirited games of tag until someone saw a flash of yellow rounding the corner. "Bus!" that someone would yell, leading the rest of us to scramble to our line of waiting backpacks.

Many years later, I still take a bus to school several times per week. While I have traded the quintessential goldenrod cladding for comparatively humdrum public-transit colors, other things in this transportation transaction haven't changed.

For instance, I find myself running to catch the bus about once per month. See, I've got the walk to the stop timed to a fairly reliable eight minutes under optimal conditions -- i.e., dry sidewalks. Despite knowing this immutable timing, I nevertheless walk out the front door, on occasion, with a mere 6-7 minutes to spare. What can I say? My morning routine is tenuous and easily disrupted. Maybe I miscalculate the time needed to bag up the day's lunch; maybe I neglect to put something into or take something out of my school bag, so have to double back to my desk; maybe (like this morning) I get sucked into reading just one more page of magazine over my bowl of cereal.

Whatever the cause, the inelegant effect is: I run -- jog lightly, really -- since walking will no longer do (and the next bus isn't for another 30 minutes). These moments make me recall my younger self, older me grinning inwardly with rueful humor at how far I've come and yet haven't.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Abruptly afloat on a sea of screaming - 3.27 #sol16 Story Challenge

"What am I going to write about today?" I think to myself as I perch at a high table in the library. This month-long challenge may be nearing its finish line, but the needle of my writing tank points perilously close to empty.

Then, my ears fasten onto an unseen voice on the far side of a high partition. "I don't want to leave!" the voice wails plaintively. "I don't want to leave! I don't want to leave!"

I figure the wailer for age five,  a distraught boy. Thanks for the slice, buddy; I know how you feel. It's the last day of my school's spring break. I don't want to leave, either.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Mixing metaphors re: reading - 3.26 #sol16 Story Challenge

Today is a reading day.

My wife is a self-proclaimed book bulimic. She goes long stretches without reading and then spends nearly a full rotation of the planet sequestered with a book. Once it was The Da Vinci Code in a back-country cabin; today it is The Emerald Mile on our living-room couch. Come to think of it, a better metaphor (less fraught) might be: she's a book camel -- a single read sustaining her through extended miles of her journey until she arrives at the next unexpected literacy oasis.

Different analogies describe my reading. I'm usually more of a plodder, the tortoise to her hare. Most days, I read slow and steady: commuting on the bus, before going to bed, to name two predictable examples. Reading for me builds inexorable momentum. It's an accretion of snowflakes, any title holding the potential to release a powerful avalanche that will sweep me almost faster than I want to go to the end.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Clerihew to the rescue, part 2 - 3.25 #sol16 Story Challenge

Off my schedule, scrambling to post under the wire, short writing needed...

I married my wife
nine years ago, to this day, in my life.
That's right: it's our anniversary,
marked by two rhyming couplets that feel somewhat cursory.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Black- & white-outs - 3.24 #sol16 Story Challenge

Note: Drafted this slice as prose, then revised as free verse because 'Why not?'

Heavy, wet snow,
15-plus inches,
slathered Colorado
this fourth day of spring.
Snow sat fatly in tree branches,
bending most, snapping some,
betraying frailty in countless lines.
Each outage proved short-lived,
but I started blaming myself.

Did resetting blinking clocks
or cycling routers and modems
send a sign to the juice utility
to flip off some big switch again,
just for laughs?
I needed a new plan,
a couch and a book.

Before accepting this course
of less resistance,
my friend and I risked
snow-choked roads
to try for our favorite ski hill.
Same flakes that inspired our expedition
blocked us from our goal.

Was the height of whiteness, I wonder,
the wind-whipped world through which we crept
or my friend's pearl knuckles, gripping the wheel?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Not-so-free association - 3.23 #sol16 Story Challenge

As far as my story-challenge slices to date, this one feels the most like the song "Fingertips" by They Might Be Giants.

I recently finished reading I Crawl Through It by A.S. King. In the book, one of the main characters, Stanzi, quotes a favorite moment from the TV show M*A*S*H* when Hawkeye Pierce says, "Without love, what are we worth? Eighty-nine cents. Eighty-nine cents' of chemicals walking around lonely."

That quote and many other moments from King's book made me think of Kurt Vonnegut's writing. In particular, I started thinking about Breakfast of Champions and its pervasive chemicals. From there, I plunged down a research rabbit hole and came up with three more quotes from that book, thanks to Goodreads:
  • People took such awful chances with chemicals and their bodies because they wanted the quality of their lives to improve.
  • So it is a big temptation to me, when I create a character for a novel, to say that he is what he is because of faulty wiring, or because of microscopic amounts of chemicals which he ate or failed to eat on that particular day.
  • The whole city was dangerous—because of chemicals and the uneven distribution of wealth and so on.
How might all these quoted bits come together into a coherent slice? Well, I spent some time with an orthopedist yesterday poking at my knee. (No chemicals yet, but I am hoping for the quality of my life to improve.) Later in the day, I visited a mechanic who repaired faulty wiring in my car. And on that same day, Brussels stood out to me as an example of a particularly dangerous city.

So it goes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Diorama MacGyver? - 3.22 #sol16 Story Challenge

Before the Internet, there were dioramas. (For all I know, there may still be dioramas.) Dioramas, though, have largely ceded territory to new media as this post by Adam Schoenbart reminded me this morning -- thoughts that triggered a memory from elementary school meriting a slice.

My family had scooped me out of school to visit grandparents and, as I recall, the teacher charged me with creating a diorama to capture my understanding of what we would be reading together in class, which I'd be missing. The text under our teenybopper microscopes would be an illustrated, abridged edition of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

I recall my grandma setting me up with a shoe box, plush carpet samples, scissors, glue, and a stack of magazines. After reading, I proceeded to recreate a scene, a sort of 3D collage, in the count's opulent lodging as he plotted against those who had betrayed him. (Caveat: I used the Internet just now to refresh my memory of the novel's plot.) However, since elementary me was operating in the pre-Internet era, I actually had to pack the finished project in my suitcase to carry back to school to share with my teacher and classmates.

Through the haze of years, I remember this whole experience fondly. I enjoyed reading; I had a good time making something; I felt proud of my creation. (I cleverly used cut-up straws stuck into the thick carpet to mount the count and one of his benefactors! I was diorama MacGyver!)

My view now as an English teacher is more muddled. Did the diorama project really do much for my understanding or appreciation of Dumas' text? Was it, rather, a teacher's improvised whack at accountability for a student who was about to duck out from the umbrella of her influence? How does the elephantine presence of the Internet change any of these dynamics nowadays? Is sharing about books via online creations just a diorama analog (one even easier to game thanks to sites like SparkNotes, Schmoop, or YouTube), or does the ability to create, publish, and share on a potentially global scale have a demonstrably different impact?

I wonder what the community of slicers thinks about these questions... I hope you'll share in the comments -- or via diorama, or any other medium you choose.

Monday, March 21, 2016

What I have against baking - 3.21 #sol16 Story Challenge

I would not call myself a precise cook. For me, improvisation trumps precision, and that's why baking and I don't get along. I'd rather eyeball quantities or season to taste than deploy measuring cups and candy thermometers. This slice confirms that.

Just yesterday, friends invited my wife and me over for dinner and asked if we'd bring dessert.

"I think I'll make meringues," declared my wife, who gamely set about separating eggs.

When I heard a mild oath from the kitchen, I asked, ""Got yolk in your whites?"

"Uh huh," she groaned. "I'm going to try to save it."

Among my limited tidbits of baking expertise, I know that whipped egg whites are notoriously sensitive to interloping yolk. These were no exception, getting frothy under the whisk's ministrations, but refusing to hold any peaks.

"I'm going ahead anyway," declared my wife as she poured out one thin, glossy layer of sweetened albumen. "Let's see what happens." She slid the baking sheet into the oven and asked, "You want to use these yolks?"

Not one to waste ingredients, I said, "Sure. Maybe I can make a custard or pudding." I dug out a much-loved copy of How to Cook Everything by Mark Bitman, which seemed like just the tome for the job. I learned that if I mixed the yolks with an appropriate ratio of milk, sugar, and vanilla, I'd have a simple custard sauce in short order. The only catch: I needed to coax the sauce's temperature into a five-degree window that would yield the desired coat-the-back-of-a-spoon consistency, all while (under no circumstances) allowing the liquid to boil. Guess what eventually happened.

My wife and I felt like contestants on a TV cooking show where everything was going wrong, the clock running down. Time to improvise and, to the extent possible, salvage dessert.

I strained the broken custard and left it in the fridge to consider thickening up. My wife chiseled the crispiest bits of meringue off the baking sheet, leaving hunks of chewy, stuck-on mess behind. We chopped up some blackberries and strawberries, tossed them with a few spoonfuls of Cointreau, and left them to macerate.

When it came time to serve dessert, we ladled out chilled vanilla soup, studded with tart berries, topped with meringue crumble. A tasty hit! 

The episode may have reinforced my apparently fixed mindset about baking, but my growth mindset about cooking, in general, remains alive and well.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Communication, exasperation, and inspiration- 3.20 #sol16 Story Challenge

This might be a virtual slice of life, or perhaps a slice of virtual life. At any rate, it comes from the world of Twitter, and it's been the trickiest slice for me to capture so far this month.

Amid the ceaseless flow of a chat this morning, I had my first experience with Twitter's potential for sudden riptides. I observed a group of educators get swept up in a thread's intensifying current. The crux, as paraphrased by yours truly: Can teachers collaborate in a spirit of collegiality (as opposed to zero-sum competition) if they must both strive to fulfill curricular mandates and simultaneously make what they're teaching so engaging that students would still come learn if given the choice? Somewhere in there lie ideals worth striving for, I suspect, but not ones conducive to being hashed out within character constraints and without nonverbal cues. Instead, in today's chat tempest, assumptions were perceived, feelings apparently hurt. Any time a participant attempted to clarify a comment merely served to punch more holes in a floundering vessel. One participant typed about feeling "pummeled" by others' judgments.

My take-away now, a few hours later: No communication medium is without its flaws and pitfalls. Experience is teaching me ways to navigate the rising, tumultuous digital tide on Twitter and signaling when I simply need to get out of the water for a bit. I'll get back in, though, because that's proven my best way to learn how to jigsaw content, intent, and digital tools more effectively. For instance, Twitter is excellent for sharing -- less so for debating and persuading, as today reminded me.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Recipe swap - 3.19 #sol16 Story Challenge

Standardized tests are looming for (and often simultaneously being ignored by) my students. Doing some orientation with released testing items this week, I had the epiphany that writing plans resemble recipes. So, I asked my eighth graders to write and share a recipe for something they know how to make. I didn't specify cooking, but that's the direction most took. Many students didn't get much past lists of ingredients or comically imprecise directions. We turned those into pictures to highlight our confusion. (Sample image: jar of peanut butter squashing loaf of break to capture 'put PB on bread.') Then, I asked students to revise a recipe to clear up the confusion. The commitment to and thoroughness of their revisions nearly knocked me over, particularly coming from a group often reluctant to write. For one student, a humble list like this:

  • 4 potatoes
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Cilantro

Became these cookbook-worthy directions:

  • First, heat up a teflon skillet to full blast and add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Then, cut up 5 russet potatoes into very small square chunks, put them on the skillet when it is to its maximum heat.
  • After, stir until the potatoes are warm. Then add 1 tablespoon of basil and 1 tablespoon of italian seasoning and a literal pinch of salt.
  • After all of that, put the potatoes on a plate then add 1 cup of shredded american cheese.
  • Then after that, serve to the people...

 Might just try that for breakfast one of these weekend mornings.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Un-luck of the un-Irish? - 3.18 #sol16 Story Challenge

March 17, 2016,
the day I started my car
only to be met
by the incriminating wink
of the Check Engine light,
also turned out to be the day
that the the heat at home
stopped working,
which happened to be the day
the weather turned
(temperatures plunging 30 degrees
as 10 inches of snow accumulated),
coincidentally the same day
the neighbor fell
and broke her hip,
requiring the cops come
demolish her door,
which all might've been more manageable
had a power outage
not ditched us in darkness
just after nine at night,
leaving us little choice
but to retreat to bed,
hoping the next day
might not unravel so disastrously,
only to realize
the fireplace's snuffed pilot light
might be just one more troubling sign.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Brain bucket limerick - 3.17 #sol16 Story Challenge

Double thanks: to Robin, for the topic suggestion based on Wednesday's blog; to the land of St. Patrick, for formal inspiration.

"We should probably buy you a helmet
since your brains are as soft as crushed velvet."
Spouse advice that I've heeded
for crash padding I've needed.
I happily have not yet o'erwhelmed it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ski lesson, part 2 - 3.16 #sol16 Story Challenge

Onto the second half of this challenge and, while it's not getting any easier, I'm glad I took the proverbial over. And speaking of getting easier...

After we moved to Colorado, my wife demanded that I learn how to ski. She wisely refused, however, to do the initial teaching because she knew it would be folly to subject our relationship to that needless strain. See, she'd started skiing soon after toddling. So, when the time came (as ultimatum's often necessitate), she parked me in a lesson with three other anxious adults and Jack Cletcher, an instructor who combined the best attributes of grandfathers everywhere and Santa Claus. Jack got me up to speed on the resort's beginner runs and, even better, he helped me safely scrub that speed when things got dicey.

My wife took over from there. The next few times we skied together, she whooshed and shooshed me down intermediate and expert runs, through moguls and trees. She fished me out of tree wells; made comments like, "We should probably buy you a helmet;" and laughed along with me as I picked myself up, brushed myself off, and reassembled the scattered gear that had inexplicably ejected me -- or I, it. "You're in my ski school now," she told me, suggesting that getting all this hard stuff out of the way would make the return to intermediate terrain as smooth as freshly groomed corduroy snow.

And therein lies the lesson I cling to now as I bump over the hump of this year's Slice of Life Story Challenge. When the time comes to blog on a less-than-daily schedule, it's going to feel downright do-able.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Me in the middle - 3.15 #sol16 Story Challenge

Do the ides of March still merit wariness? The midpoint of the month means we're (nearly) halfway through this blogging challenge so, in a word, "Yay!" And those thoughts just jarred my brain into recalling a slice about middles, my cerebral cells cuing up "Stuck in the Middle with You" by Steelers Wheels.

That song triggers a visceral memory from college -- or maybe the memory triggers me hearing the song? (Side note: brains are magical plastic places; a little weird, too.) At any rate, I'm hunkered down in the dive movie theater just off campus, and the newly released Reservoir Dogs is lighting up the screen. As guitars strum a lilting rhythm, actor Tom Sizemore (Brain, why do you remember that name??) prepares to do some slicing of his own. I sit fascinated and horrified by a movie unlike any I've seen before. I leave the theater jittery. The film's blend of banter and brutality between a cast of literally colorful characters has me vibrating like an iron filing in the middle of two magnetic poles.

I wonder: Could that simile be effective enough to end this slice right there, fittingly in the middle? In the eye of the ides?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pi Day replay - 3.14 #sol16 Story Challenge

Fitting for today: a slice of problematic pie.

I'm in my first teaching job, and the home economics teacher (this was a *while* ago) recruits me to help judge an apple-pie baking contest. She gives me the tasting run-down, a ballot for scoring, and then she says cryptically, "One of the pies is not like the others," or words to that effect. I tilt my head and cock an eyebrow, but she's not volunteering more information.

So, I proceed on my appointed rounds. I nibble through all manner of baked apple slices, spice mixtures that skew more or less cinnamon, and crust variations from leaden to lightly flaky. Somewhere along the way, my tasting needle lands on pretzel; no, make that sea water -- if the sampling from the Dead Sea. Turns out one hasty baker mistook the salt for sugar while preparing an otherwise spot-on crust recipe.

Deductions were made by this judge, I'm afraid, because in matters of pie, I predictably know what I want. I'm not irrational.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

I know where the time goes - 3.13 #sol16 Story Challenge

The word 'procrastination' incorporates a Latin root, meaning 'tomorrow,' the idea being that someone engaged in procrastination puts off until the next day a responsibility that deserves sooner attention. Fitting then, that I just gleaned this tidbit from frittering away a moment I could've devoted to more pressing tasks (such as those from the list of things I'm avoiding).

Aside from Internet rabbit holes of etymology, the chief places where I procrastinate are libraries. I live within walking distance of one branch and easy biking distance of three more, making me both lucky and doomed. I regularly head to the library with good intentions for productive work. "I will remove myself from distractions at home and become a grading or lesson-planning machine" -- that's my line of shaky reasoning. What actually happens is I plop myself into a building that effectively was the Internet before the Internet existed, and I proceed to wander shelves laden with books, magazines, movies, and music. "Not all those who wander are lost," wrote J. R. R. Tolkien, but I know I feel most delightfully lost in libraries.

Just yesterday I got lost in library copies of Drowned City by Don Brown and Nimona by Noelle Stevenson before managing some semblance of work. Might a 12-step or some equivalent program help me reliably channel procrastination into productivity? Hmm, I bet I know just the place to explore that question...

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Skeeter theater - 3.12 #sol16 Story Challenge

Today's slice of life was inspired by a Twitter chat this Saturday morning. The question posed during #satchatwc was about what animal exemplar might teach us educators a useful lesson. One outside-the-box response came from @teresagross625 who tweeted, "mosquito: risk-taker every time they land on someone." And that reminds me...

It was my first summer living in the West, and a teaching buddy brought me to the Wind River mountain range in Wyoming for an introduction to backpacking. The first day threw unsettled weather at us with high winds and a burst of afternoon hail. When that tumult eased, the thickest swarm of the largest mosquitoes I've ever seen descended on us. We could just about hike at a pace that they couldn't match, but any stop meant we were immediately under attack by countless kamikazes. Some days, we set up camp early, just to have a hideout from these blood suckers. Setting up camp meant a frantic scramble of simultaneous tent popping and bug swatting. Once safely inside our tent bubble, we watched the frustrated mosquitoes bump against the mesh, still trying to get a piece of us.

In that moment, as the August sun preheated our tent like an oven, I didn't feel like those particular mosquitoes were over-matched risk takers. These creatures, instead, guaranteed I was the one literally outside my comfort zone.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Best meal *I've* ever had - 3.11 #sol16 Story Challenge

Eleven days into the story challenge, and I'm starting to get it: take topic inspiration wherever I can. The latest spark came from readwriteteachmakedinner's slice yesterday, titled "The best meal I've ever had."

It's probably 1999, and I'm on an Italian beach, playing Ultimate Frisbee. A teammate of mine has a buddy on a local team, who offers to take our group out for dinner. We know nothing and have no expectations when we pile into cars later that night. Leaving the Adriatic Sea behind, we drive through dark hilly countryside for an indeterminate amount of time. We park eventually at a big unmarked house. Inside is a raucous fluorescently-lit dining room, crowded tables bedecked with red-and-white-checked cloths. (Yes, stereotypes sometimes ring true.) We pile around the one open table, reserved who-knows-when by our inside man. A feast ensues: course after course of fish and bottle after unlabeled bottle of red wine. Two dishes linger in my memory 17 years later: impossibly big hoops of fried calamari robed in golden batter so light it almost didn't seem to be there at all; grilled fresh sardines, salty, crunchy and addictive in their simplicity. In the background of my brain, then as now, I ponder the improbability of it all, how I enjoyed that meal with those people in that exotic spot all thanks to a game of Frisbee.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Oracles & accidents - 3.10 #sol16 Story Challenge

On Wednesday morning, I had a crystalline moment of clairvoyance. I was the Oracle, and my classroom, the Matrix.

Seven sixth graders and I crowded at a round table to start our day with shared reading. I noticed the student to my left had a plastic cup of milky purplish punch dotted with stray blueberries. The thought suddenly occurred to me: "That cup is getting knocked over before we leave the table."  Sure enough, the student who owned the beverage reached to draw the name of the next reader from a cup of labeled Popsicle sticks and, in the process, sideswiped the drink, spilling the juice and scattering the blueberries. Panic ensued -- nothing that couldn't be assuaged by a quickly procured roll of paper towels plus a carton of wet wipes.

Though I had no doubt that messy circumstance would come to pass, I did nothing to stop it. I didn't tell the student to park the cup elsewhere until later; I didn't demand the student finish breakfast before joining our reading circle; I didn't outright forbid the consumption of punch in class.

In hindsight, I wondered the kind of question that, to quote the Oracle herself, will surely "bake your noodle": Would any of those interventions have taught the student a better lesson than making a mess and cleaning it up? I remain hopeful that time will tell. Meanwhile, I recently finished reading Jessica Lahey's The Gift of Failure, and (another Oracular pronouncement!) I think I know what she'd say.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Ski lesson - 3.9 #sol16 Story Challenge

Henry David Thoreau wrote in his Journals, "Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand."

To that I say, "Maybe, Henry, but if Nature in its 'genius' had a hand in each fluffy flake that fell Monday night making for the exhilarating ski runs I enjoyed in Colorado's back country yesterday morning, then it was also Nature dialing up the sunlight that turned the same ethereal blanket into a thick layer of grabby mush by mid-day."

Nature's fashioning hand both works magic and wreaks havoc -- as evident on personal and global scales, plus everywhere in between.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tiny writing - 3.8 #sol16 Story Challenge

There is no shame in writing short. That's what veterans of previous SOL story challenges have led me to believe, especially if the choice is don't write versus write a little. So, I offer the following clerihew as my blog approximation of a trendy tiny house.

Brian Rozinsky
is not getting stingy,
but eight days writing consecutively
has left his topic generator limping along tentatively.

Monday, March 7, 2016

There and back again - 3.7 #sol16 Story Challenge

Although this is likely grounds for more than one slice, I need to start somewhere: An inordinate amount of my life is spent getting from one place to another, and I take inordinate pleasure in navigating between any two points without a car.

Let me clear up one thing early on: I'm fortunate to own a car. I use it regularly. That said, I really enjoy hopping the bus, letting a professional driver take the wheel, and losing myself in something good to read. A close second when it comes to transports of transportation joy is moving myself under my own power. That might mean pedaling a trusty bicycle or pumping my own pistons as a hiker, trail runner, or back-country skier. I figure the mental effort to identify a preferred route and the subsequent physical effort to traverse it both have benefits. Plus, endorphins aside, I'm a fan of the calm focus that settles over me when I can distill my chief purpose to: "Keep moving forward."

And when the journey goes awry -- in novel ways it usually doesn't when one's own car is the primary mode -- I figure that's good for honing my resourcefulness. It also deepens my reservoir of patience, at least when not intensifying sudden self-loathing while I dwell on another fine transit mess I've gotten myself into.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A baker's dozen I'm avoiding - 3.6 #sol16 Story Challenge

Making an orthopedic appointment to learn the truth about my sore knee. Crunching the numbers on last year's taxes. Folding my laundry. Using up those two shriveled zucchinis in the fridge. Grading the last eight pieces of student writing in my virtual stack. Watching televised political debates. Making the bed. Holding up my end of family phone tag. Emptying both the trash and my inbox. Moving the new grill from the guest bedroom to the patio. Shaving. Getting a car wash.