Monday, November 5, 2012

baby name update #3

It's about that time of the year again- I mean, it's always that time of the year on my newsfeed. My social network friends have been reproducing yet again, and I always love to share their creative, quirky, classic, or trendy tastes in baby names.

I fact, I discuss baby names so frequently that I'm in a three-way negotiation in a fantasy football league for naming rights for my first child in exchange for Doug Martin. Sorry, Doug Martin. Those rights are too valuable.

It is hard for me to withhold my opinions on baby names. I've said before that I favor names with history, meaning, symbolism, culture, quirk, etc... and I always prefer REAL SPELLINGS. I am, needless to say, an English teacher. People always ask me to reveal my favorites from the list, but I covet my top picks too much to share them. I can share, however, that some of these names I really quite like.

Others, not so much.

I continue to see popular X and Z sounds, a few vintage classics, girls ending in "a" and "y" sounds, boys ending in "n" sounds, and a few of the made-up, kre8tive names and spellings. However, even the names that seem a little off-beat follow current trends of long "a" sounds and "son/ton/don" endings. You can probably spot the regional trends in this bunch as well; some locales follow a vintage-chic style while others take more liberty with sound/syllable combinations and and flirt with the boundaries of correct spellings.

Fine. I'm not very good at hiding my bias, but there are some surprises who have defied both stereotypes.

I'll let you decide. Without further ado, the names of the babes of my very fertile friends. How do you think they did? What are your favorites of the bunch? Can you guess my first place and last place picks?



Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Yesterday, my freshmen were working on adding imagery to their narrative essays. I asked them to use words to show me what the setting looked like, sounded like, felt like, etc... I gave them an example of autumn that included rich descriptions of crunchy leaves, chunky scarves, vibrant reds and oranges, and frosty, biting air.

I thought it was pretty great.

One thing that I've learned in my short career as a teacher is that most of my "pretty great" lessons, jokes, or anecdotes actually suck.

Student: Miss, what time of year were you just describing?
Me: Fall.
Student: That's the same as autumn?
Me: Yes.
Student: What part of the year does that happen?
Me: Well (struggling), it's right now.
Student: It's hot right now. It doesn't look like your imagery at all.

Los Angeles.

Three doe-eyed freshmen stared at me for 3 minutes (the longest they've every paid attention) while I narrated with imagery the four seasons that take place in other parts of the country.

Student: Like in movies, Miss?
Me: Yes. Like in movies.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Teaching is a reflective practice, or so they told me in grad school. Little did I know the extent. Spending my day with sixteen-year-olds compels me to pay frequent visits to my sixteen-year-old self to see if she was equally as naive, ambitious, whimsical, obnoxious, romantic (insert adjective here) as the ones I attend every day. I like to ask my students to ponder where they'll be 10 years from now, both because I want them to begin to plan for their futures and because their answers are entertaining. 

"Married with babies."
"A doctor."
"Done with college."

Ah, yes. A simpler age. I remember when my English teacher asked me where I would be in 10 years- 10 years ago. In my essay response I was a journalist living in San Francisco on an expansive vineyard with my husband, the man who had cured cancer. Baby on the way, I wrote a column in a San Francisco newspaper called "Hashbrowns" in which a reminisced about my quaint, country childhood in an Idaho potato town.

I never lacked ambition.

And I could go on and on about how our society does not provide students with an accurate narrative of what a person's twenties are supposed to look like. We let them innocently assume that life will follow the pattern of high school, college, success, sheepishly omitting the years of due-paying, debt-ridden self-discovery and mistake-making.

But this blog is not about the awkwardness or the failures or the disappointments we experience in our twenties.

It's about the people who help us laugh through them.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

alter ego

Yesterday, as a celebratory induction to their late twenties, a teacher, a marketer, a financial planner, a production coordinator, an event facilitator, a lawyer, and other such professionals shed their mundane identities to become, instead, a myriad of costumed celebrities. 

For one afternoon, they blissfully reverted back to the days of their early twenties- of themed college parties, day drinking, and pub crawling. They marched the Venice boardwalk as weirdos instead of judgers, while homeless people who sat on the ground and played with their dogs' faces actually looked at them and in complete role-reversal said, "What the hell?"

And it was a reminder to all people who are navigating the confusion of their mid to late twenties that sometimes it can be appropriate to engage the alter egos of slightly younger counterparts. 

And it was a reminder to me, the teacher, that on Saturdays, I have a new profession. On Saturdays, I am Selena Gomez, girlfriend of Justin Bieber, friend of the wig-donning, chain wearing freak shows from the Venice boardwalk. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

a lost year found

Grading is what I should be doing. Grading again. I should be rating students' grasp of using topic sentences and concrete evidence. I should be allotting them participation points.

For more than a year, there has always been something that I should be doing. I have never been the type of person who was able to fully immerse myself in a moment or in a task; I am always planning, strategizing, and thinking of what is next- so much so that I lose track of time, living from one obligation to the next, only allowing myself brief intermissions of enjoyment. Guilty enjoyment.

I forgot that I enjoy blogging, and therefore lost a year of documentation of my life. A year in which I always had something I should have been doing instead of blogging- like student teaching, or writing a thesis, or getting a master's degree, or getting a teaching position, or teaching.

Or grading.

Sometimes, it seems like a lost year; so much accomplished, so little documented. So few intermissions.

But not all was lost. 


Monday, August 20, 2012

tommy and marie

I got to spend last weekend in Wisconsin as a bridesmaid in my brother Tommy and his wife Marie's homegrown wedding. It was one year and five days after our own wedding last year, and it was so wonderful to be again surrounded by family and friends- old and new. 

It was such a sweet affair- full of whimsy, love, and homespun details. I couldn't be more happy for the couple who were made for one another. Here are a few of my candid shots from the day. 
Happy honeymoon! 

Happily ever after to the happy couple!
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