IMO: Welcome to My World

There’s a part of me that feels like I’ve cast myself into the tundra, face first into the arctic blast, alone, as I now live inside my head, writing and editing this second novel. On one hand, that’s how much I miss blogging. Denying myself the fun of sharing thoughts about films, culture, books, and camera angles from my side of the world. Who knew your cheery comments and fun conversations would come to mean so much?

The maudlin side of me put aside, like a stashed cigarette secretly smoked, I have secretly read your posts but haven’t commented, but you all seem fine and well.

Das Buch:   Weimar Germany and the depravity of Berlin. The cabarets, the darkness of sin, drugs, and Bessie Smith. Poor George Hero, my anti-hero bordering on an unreliable narrator, has had a rough time of it since WWI.  I’ve been listening to Philip Glass while I write, and I am glad to report this first part of the novel is completed because Philip Glass wears on my nerves and depresses me, but he seems perfect for putting me in the right mood to represent the dark. In contrast, as if emerging from a cave at noon, the next part of the novel takes place in good ‘ole sunny Arizona. Sally is the feisty young copper cutie, a dancer, who dreams of becoming a Ziegfield girl and star on the Hollywood stage.  She will need her chutzpah to survive the invasive force of her mother. She is cast as an extra in a western. She is determined to become indispensable and befriends Zane Grey and Gary Cooper.  She has a needy friendship with Kay the Hopi Indian, who is a chameleon, sometimes seen as female, sometimes as male, sometimes as Apache, and sometimes she hears the whispers of her mother and sisters wanting her to remember the Hopi way. Meanwhile, she is the recipient of the elaborate gold-plated pistol, hollowed and filled, with the means by which she can free herself from her past, present and have a say about any sort of future. To what extreme will George reclaim the pistol from Kay?

As teacher:  After 18 years, I am counting down the final eight so I can retire. I know it’s a sin to wish your life away–just the working part of it. It’s hard not to this time of year. Spring is the time the drama begins. The school year is drawing to a close. State testing has students restless and apathetic.  Juniors are applying to colleges and seniors have emotionally left high school and await graduation. Teachers are tired and resigned what they are trying to sell in the classroom no one is buying. Teachers compete with students’ cell phones, the prom, sport team demands, and being a cast member in the musical. Is it any wonder they don’t care about John F. Kennedy’s involvement in the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and Civil Rights? Gee, if I can’t get them interested in the volatile sixties, this last month of school could be tortuous.

Meanwhile, teachers are grumbling because the new superintendent has shaken things up. The master schedule’s modifications include removing classes with lower sizes to make it equitable across the board. (If one teacher has class sizes of 30 and another only 12, is that fair?)  That means cutting out the advanced and elective classes. Personally, this means all the classes I love teaching have been taken away from me. The gems like AP US History, AP World History, and a big sting, my Holocaust Studies/Recent World History class. Gems because teaching college level courses are the perfect fit for me. I have been struggling with my pride over it. Be a team player. You are a cog in the wheel. Get over yourself. Readjust your attitude. It still hurts, though.

The Vikings and Nationals Baseball: Strangely, I’ve taken a break from watching movies. I’m binging on the television series by the History Channel via Amazon called The Vikings. Man, I love it. When I come home from work, after watering the flowers, one or two episodes with a beer or glass of wine is a great way to relax before starting supper. I’m on series three. I like the monk Athelstan (George Blagden) the best because rarely in films or television do you see the importance of the role of the monk in history, in this case, by preserving the scrolls of Roman England. I’ve been to Ireland and have seen The Book of Kells and love the artistry of the monks’ calligraphy. The character Athelstan straddles the conflict between pagan/Christian religion. Michael Hirst who wrote the series includes Old English and Scandinavian languages when the two worlds collide; it’s delicious to hear the languages spoken.

The culture of the Vikings is complicated. The legends and mythologies have fascinated many for years.

http://www.history.com/shows/vikings/pages/vikings-historians-view

When I’m not watching The Vikings, I am watching the Nationals play baseball. We are off to a great start this year by leading the NL East with 10 wins and 5 losses (.667). My favorite players are Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy. They bat 3, 4 respectively, and the two are hitting powerhouses. Like Lennon and McCartney, their competitiveness inspires the other to do better. Go Nats!

Books: I’m reading Paula McClain’The Paris Wife. It’s about Hadley, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife and their time in Paris during the 1920s. Ernest is trying to become an author and I can’t help but pretend we two are trying to accomplish the same goal. Except he doesn’t have to go and teach teenagers every day. He gets to sit in a Paris cafe and drink all day long while he writes. It didn’t go so well for him in the end, did it? Who knew my students would save me in the end? Ha!

Okay, bye again. Back to the novel.

Love & Friendship,

Cindy

39 thoughts on “IMO: Welcome to My World

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  1. Nice of you to pop up and let us all know how you are doing, Cindy.
    I don’t understand baseball, and have never seen the Amazon series, Vikings, but they both seem to be providing an antidote to the upsetting changes in your school. Looking forward to your next ’roundup’.
    Best wishes as always, Pete. x

    1. Hi Pete, nice to talk to you today. I honestly think you’d like Vikings because it’s not so glamorized and “Hollywood” as ‘Game of Thrones’. I like that the History channel is restricted from exploring gratituitous sex and overboard violence. To me, ‘Vikings’ strikes an even balance. It’s violent, to be sure, but reflective of their culture. (As good as The Last Kingdom) Anyway, I’m having fun watching it.

      1. I am enjoying series 2 of The Last Kingdom. I expect I would like Vikings as well, so it might hopefully be on ‘normal’ TV one day, or I will have to get the DVD set.

  2. I have the utmost respect for teachers. I don’t know how you do it! Thanks for reminding me of “The Vikings”. Love that show and need to get caught up.

  3. Hiya Cindy, glad to see you’re still about, but sorry to hear of your turmoil at school. As to Vikings, it’s a most excellent series and I’m just getting to the end of season 4.

    I can really recommend Giles Kristians Viking novels, 2 series the first being The Raven (trilogy) and the second being The Rise of Sigurd (trilogy). Equally as enthralling as the TV series, (which is nothing to do with the books).

  4. Good to see a word from you. I taped a few TCM films to watch – DEAR HEART, POSSESSION and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (Netflix) are in the queue. Can you believe I have never watched LOA?!!

  5. Hey Cindy! Hope you are well. I’m still reeling from the amazing whirlwind of our two-day shoot. I enjoyed every minute of it, and wish the shoot were longer but of course it being self-funded I couldn’t possibly afford it, ahah. Suffice to say, I haven’t had a chance to watch anything. I think the last thing I saw was last weekend when I saw a collection of short films at MSPIFF in support of my two friends who’re involved in one of them. Now that pre-work and principal photography are done, there’s a ton of work left for post-production, but yeah it’s truly been a dream come true for me.

    Happy writing! Cheers!

    1. Hi Paul. Thanks, my friend. I’m really happy for Ruth. I enjoy vicariously experiencing her dream come true. As for my own, it’s a hobby, and it keeps me grounded and appreciative of life.

  6. I fully understand your need to step away from blogging and concentrate on your book. If you’re going through a Philip Glass phase, I highly recommend The Hours soundtrack he did. Won a BAFTA Award for Best Film Music

    1. Thanks, Allen. I haven’t forgotten the articles you’ve sent. When I blog regularly again, they are waiting in a folder for me to to discuss. They also help me with creating the historical climate. I am going to use the letters about women in the police force in the manuscript. Especially the one from Chicago.

  7. These days we have abandoned cable to pick up all the free videos on YouTube. We have seen a couple of presentations on Vikings over the years and enjoyed those. All the best with your book. I enjoyed teaching and mental gymnastics trying to stay one step ahead of students trying to do as little as possible to get their degree. lol

  8. Thanks for touching base Cindy, we miss you too. I’m sure the book is going well. The cutting of your classes reminds me of a poster that hung up in our social sciences room at high school “No history – no future.” As someone who always enjoyed history in school let me just say I’m sure a lot of your students do or will appreciate how lucky they are to have you as their teacher. Keep punching and keep writing.

    1. Ha Ha. I am over my grumbling. 80 percent of them do exactly what I ask. 10 percent I wish I could adopt as my own for they are inquisitive and generous and obedient. The ruffians make poor choices and are obnoxious. Well, we all are at times, yes? I try not let them get me. Anyway, it is an easier subject to teach than Math or English.

  9. Didn’t take you for a baseball fan Cindy! 🙂

    Good to hear your book is going well. I’m STILL stuck trying to muddle my way through a first draft of my book. Tho it isn’t even a book…. I looked up word-lengths, apparently 60,000 words is almost the minimum for something to be a novel. I’m barely as third of the way there!! =/

    That sucks to hear about losing those classes. That’d be a real privilege to teach stuff like that. Which makes me think; have you seen Denial, w/ Timothy Spall as that crazy holocaust denier? Good stuff, Tom Wilkinson is really good, you really like him if I recall correctly. Or that could be Ruth! :S My memory is so bad

    Good to hear from you, and on forth with the book!! I’d say good luck but I know you don’t need it 🙂

    1. Howdy, my friend. I sure will take well wishes for luck! Maybe your piece is a short story or a novella? Remember all stories have beginning, a middle, and an end. Give yourself a loose outline, and designate a time every day where you are the most “quiet” in the head to write. Keep picking at it.

      1. That is actually exactly what I’ve just done. Goal: build a habit of working on it for AT LEAST 30 minutes every day, even if I only write one paragraph.

        Its all about habits, and I need to build some healthy ones!

  10. I liked the wonderful imaginary connection with Ernest. You probably have much more to offer in terms of originality. 🙂 Also, you won’t have page-long sentences! This sometimes drove me nuts. I wanted to tell H, “Stop rambling, boy!”
    My Mom used to say her AP or “college prep classes,” in those days, really kept her so interested and invested in teaching. She loved that she fought for “Malcolm X” and “Notes of a Native Son” in the late sixties in the Cleveland suburbs. She made parents sign permission to talk about civil rights and bigotry in her advanced courses.
    I bet she would feel both the need for teamwork among her colleagues and the need for excellence in reading choices. It is a tough challenge indeed, Cindy.

    1. Congrats to your mom for her dedication working in the trenches! AP classes are great but in the end, the students have to study. But getting them to talk and think and write about history is a dreamy way to spend the day.

      1. Thanks, Cindy! The computer and cellphone generation is even more challenging than what she dealt with. She was one of those honest and sincere teachers which brought her a good support group. She also had parties (“fiestas”) every Friday.
        Oh, she literally played guess who’s coming to dinner (druggies, wild child and other kinds of interesting young people came to eat dinner with the five of us. (Dad, Mom, two brothers and me) 🙂
        I’m sure you have plenty of motivated students. . .

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