Sunday, May 29, 2011

Annie's Writing Prompt

Architecture Yokohama, Japan
Korean Word: 학교 (school)
Spanish Word: Embarazada (pregnant - this is a great example of why it's important to know your false cognates before going abroad ^_^)

One of my best friends, Annie, is my pen pal. We both love writing properly, on paper, to other people and so we've added this practice to our desperate bid to single-handedly (double-handedly?) keep the US Postal Service alive! One of my favorite things is when we send writing prompts to each other, which we just did this last round. I liked the one I wrote for her, so I'm posting it here for myself and hopefully the enjoyment of others!

Prompt from Annie Two people, one body, three objects, one setting, at sunset, 10 minutes to write, GO!

Mattie felt as though her brain were expanding with unbearable force against her skull. She pressed her hands to her head, crouching in the corner of the elevator and screaming until her lungs burned.

Minutes, or maybe hours, passed. The pressure eased. Mattie sat, huddled and shaking, in the corner of the elevator. Its mirrors, covering its four walls and ceiling, showed a hundred Matties, pale with bloodshot eyes and white-knuckled hands.

Well, said a boy’s voice in Mattie’s head. That hurt.

Mattie shuddered. “How did you get in here?” she demanded aloud, pressing her fist to her temple.

Don’t be cross, the boy sing-songed. The spell was your idea, Matilda. I was dying, wasn’t I?

Mattie moaned when he pulled up the memory for both of them. Not dying. Shot dead. Men in black suits with guns. “I couldn’t let you die,” Mattie mumbled. “I still hate you, though,” she added hastily.

You do not, he said, amused. I’m in your head, remember? I know what you’re thinking.

“Shut up, James,” Mattie ordered.

We should probably get out of here, Jamie pointed out.

“How do I know I’m not just imagining you?” Mattie demanded, getting unsteadily to her feet.

Look in the mirror, Jamie suggested.

Mattie looked again into reflection wall of the elevator and gasped. She wasn’t seeing her own pale reflective, but Jamie’s. His long nose, bright black eyes, coppery skin …

She did the first thing that occurred to her and grabbed her chest. She saw two hands on a flat chest in the mirror. She felt two gentle swells under the cotton of her own tee shirt.

Jamie snickered inside her head. So did the reflection of him in the mirror.

“Shut up!” Mattie snapped. The reflection rippled and suddenly she was seeing herself again. “You may be in my head but you aren’t me.” She knelt, collecting the cell phone and knife she’d dropped when she’d fled into the elevator. She hit the “resume” button on the keypad and the elevator jolted into smooth descent again. She glanced at her watch. Seven o’clock. Sunset.

“I’m getting out of here,” she told the boy now living in her bead. “Shut up and let me think.”

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Sample of Schoolwork

Iris Tokyo, Japan

Korean Word: 선생님 (teacher)
Spanish: maestro/profe (teacher)

So Simmons College, where I'm attending grad school, has one of the best children's literature programs in the country. I know this partly because it's a provable fact (see heads of department, guests speakers, and famous graduates) and also because I have so much fun in the program!

This semester I took children's book publishing with former Horn Book and Houghton Mifflin editor Anita Silvey (check out her Children's Book Almanac). As a final project, each of us "reinvented" the publishing story of a famous children's book, by pretending that it had never been published before. I worked on "A Wrinkle in Time" and one piece of my project was making my own book trailer. Using all sorts of video and photo clips, I patch-worked a trailer I was pretty pleased with.

Quick disclaimer: other than wording and sequencing, I own none of the content in this video. It was borrowed for a school project and I'm extremely grateful I had it available to me!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reliving the Dream: Flashback to Korea

ChildU School, Yeosu, South Korea
Korean Word of the Day: 한국말 (Korean, the language)

Spanish Word of the Day: Avestruz (ostrich)

I miss Korea terribly. I thought at the end of my two-year teaching stint there that I'd be ready for the next chapter of my life, but it turns out I spend at least one day a week (two or three DURING the semester) wishing I could just move back and enjoy another year there. With that in mind, I'm going to periodically feature little adventures from Korea in the Toybox. This one is about one of me best students, Jenny (aka Yena). This is a Tess and Jenny, the Early Years.

2008-09-01 16:27:00 The Jenny Update

Some time ago, I wrote an entry on my lessons with Jenny (Yena) my boss's daughter.
My frustration with her refusal to speak is something I vividly remember.
However, since that entry she's made leaps and bounds in English. She's a smart one - I should have had more faith.
TESS: Hi, Jenny.
JENNY: *bouncing up and down* Hi, Tess!!
TESS: How are you?
JENNY: I'm fine.
TESS: Good.
JENNY: *in Korean* I'm still fascinated by your shiny, shiny earrings.
TESS: *sigh* Well, you ARE only nine.
JENNY: *in Korean* That's ELEVEN.
TESS: Yeah, and in Korea I'm practically twenty-five.

Jenny now shares her one-on-one class with four other girls; it has become a conversation class. It's fun, though it's had an interesting side effect on Jenny's English:

TESS: Hello, everyone!
EVERYONE: Hello, Tess!
LINA: Where Harrold Turtle?
JULIE: We play Go Fish?
ELISHA: Hello, Tess Teacher!
JENNY: *rounds on Elisha* NO, NOT TESS TEACHER! Just Tess.
TESS: .... chill-ax, there, cowgirl.


TESS: *draws stick figure picture with house, trees, birds, etc (it sucks a lot)* Okay, tell me about this picture.
JULIA: The man's name is Phil.
TESS: Great! What else?
ELISHA: The girl's dress is blue.
TESS: Excellent! What else?
JULIA: The girl is curly hair.
JENNY: NO, NO, NO! The girl HAS curly hair. Sheesh! Idiot!
TESS: .... Jenny, just last month you made the same mistake multiple times.
JENNY: *kindly* Shut up, Tess Teacher.

*even later*

TESS: Okay, girls, quick game of Go Fish before we go home.
JULIA: I love this game. Jenny, are you three?
JENNY: *pulls out tufts of hair* NO NO NO! Do you have any three? GAH!
TESS: ....Jenny, is it time to take a break from Go Fish?
JENNY: *waving her cards dangerously* Just play the game, wayguk!

What Jenny needed all along was someone to teach English to. Sometimes, her methods
amuse me because she corrects incorrectly and gets grouchy with herself.
Other times, I worry that she may be psychologically damaging my other students with
her verbal abuse. I hesitate to stop her, though, since she's speaking so much English
and her classmates often don't realize she's slandering them in English.
My suspicion is that the pressures of having a hagwan owner who is almost
fluent in English as a mother are manifesting in strange ways.


A quick note about Jenny: By the time I left Korea almost two years after writing this, Jenny was the best English speaker at the hagwan. Her listening skills were spooky and I had to be careful when I talked to other teachers in front of her. Her spoken English and accent improved in leaps and bounds. It was inspiring to watch her learn.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Welcome to the toy box!

Puget Sound, Washington State

Korean Phrase of the Day 
사랑해 (I love you)
Spanish Phrase of the Day 
¡Ven acá! (Come here, small child/uncooperative adult with whom I am close!)

I'm a little sad about how potentially dirty the title of this blog sounds. This is a blog about all the stuff kicking around my brain - everything from education to gymnastics, Korean language to jewelry-making. At some point it'll be a blog exclusively devoted to
writing and publishing but for now, it's going to be a spot for anything and everything that occurs to me.

I hope it also becomes a resource for other teachers and people interested in children's lit and children's lit publishing. In the meantime ... who knows! For right now, expect any and all of the following:
  • Photography
  • Writing/publishing - specifically, my writing and my publishing journey
  • Children's lit - reviews, recommendations, exciting stuff coming soon
  • Misadventures in graduate school - there are so many, why not amuse people with them?
  • Travel blog highlights from my retired blog - reliving the old adventures!
  • Education anecdotes, tools, etc.
  • Jewelry (well, pictures of stuff I've made, anyway)
  • Gymnastics .... possibly updates about mishaps as I reintroduce myself to that dangerous-ist of all dangerous sports (at the ripe old age of 25, which, in gymnastics years, is 65)
  • Running: updates on the 5k saga (as I train for it, I mean)
  • Foreign language - there are two I'm familiar with but must practice more than I do (Korean and Spanish). Also, I love two countries which use these languages (Korea, duh, and Chile ... less with the duh).