Posts tagged ‘media’

October 10, 2010

2010 Read-A-Thon

The 24-Hour Read-A-Thon event has completed, my numbers have been posted (and reprinted below), and now I’m heading back to bed. There is a definite hangover that comes with this experience, whether you read for 24 hours or just 12. But it’s a delightful fatigue, and I can’t wait to do it all over again in April! Check out my first-experience stats then click over to phrenetical to read the play-by-play as it was posted throughout the event. Then consider joining up in the spring! It’s truly a wonderful (communal) experience.
3 Hours Sleep Acquired the Night Before
12 Hours Time Elapsed Before I Could Fully Participate
4.65 Hours Spent Napping During The Event
670 Minutes Spent Reading
210 Minutes Spent Blogging
308 Pages Read
1 Book Completed
2 Magazine Issues Completed
3 Books Attempted
5 Snacks/Meals Consumed
12 Coke Reward Points Acquired
88 Ounces Caffeine Consumed
21 Tweets Posted
14 Blog Posts Published
193 Blog Views During The Event
23 Comments Received On My Blog
9 Actual Cheers Posted To My Blog (so fun!)
5 Mini-Challenges Participated In
1 Prize Won in a Mini-Challenge
Favorite Mini-Challenge: Submit a photo of something in your house that represents a character in one of the books you are reading for the readathon. Seriously? How could I resist?
character photo challenge: 'The Yankee Years'
October 9, 2010

I’m reading today!

Today I’ll be participating in the 24-Hour Read-A-Thon! I love this idea for so many reasons, but my personal motivation is quite simple: to rediscover my love for reading. I’ve let it lapse in recent years, choosing other entertainment over books and purposeful reading, and I truly do miss it when that happens. So today will be all about the written word! I also love that “print” now includes text on a screen, so I’ll be mixing up my selections throughout the day to keep interest alive and resist the urge to nap (much). Some of the items I have scheduled for the day include:

  • The Yankee Years
  • Bridge to Terabithia
  • You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried
  • Ford County
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Mud Hens and Mavericks: Illustrated Travel Guide to Minor League Baseball
  • and an assortment of magazines and blog posts that have recently piled up

A big part of the Read-A-Thon includes blogging about the event and about personal progress, as well as participating in hourly challenges designed to keep the mind fresh. Click over to phrenetical :: a state of mind to follow my read-a-thon journey.
24-Hour Read-A-Thon

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September 28, 2010

September Listography | No. Twenty-Four


teachers who made a difference in my life
1. Mrs. Trimble — 1st grade: I barely even remember that year, and I can’t recall her face at all, but I’ve never forgotten her name. I have this sense that she instilled in me the love of learning. And that she encouraged my intelligence and developed my talents for spelling and reading. Maybe I’m just giving her the credit for what other teachers did afterward, or maybe she really is responsible for teaching me to retain sentences in my mind even as my pencil attempted to get them down on paper. Whatever is true, Mrs. Trimble is the only elementary teacher I recall with great fondness. I remember others by name, but she’s the one I recall with affection. With or without a face in mind.
2. Mrs. Rich — English teacher: First, she was my sixth grade Language Arts teacher. And then she moved to seventh grade as my English teacher. When she moved again to eighth grade, she convinced me to take her Reading class as an elective, even though it was designed for remedial students who needed extra instruction and I was already at an honors level. Just for me, she created a sort of individual reading lab where I had a class period every day for personal reading time. I was also able to use a machine that improved my reading speed. Throughout one semester I read more books and increased my skills more than ever before, and I credit my current abilities to that one class. And then Mrs. Rich moved up yet another grade with my class and taught freshman English. She introduced me to Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet, of course) and to Lord of the Flies (which I had to read again during senior year after moving to a new school). Mrs. Rich encouraged me and pushed me to excel in the one area I had loved since my earliest years. Of all the teachers I’ve ever had, she’s the one I consider the best and my favorite.
3. my 8th grade English teacher, whose name I can’t recall: It wasn’t the teacher herself nor her class nor her instruction that makes me place her on this list. Instead, it was what she did at the end of the school year. I don’t remember learning much from her, and she didn’t impress me as a teacher. But she did take a portion of one semester to create a school newspaper, and each of her students was given an assignment for its content. By then, at the ripe old age of 14, I fancied myself an English scholar, so I expected to be assigned a reporter’s task. Instead, I was placed on a team for the crossword puzzle. I was irritated and mortified and pretty much wrote that teacher off as clueless. How could she not see my genius?! I was never so happy for a school year to end so that I could be rid of her class. But then, at the year-end awards ceremony, in front of the entire middle school, my name was called as the outstanding 8th grade English student of the year. Of all her students in all of her classes, she named me as the outstanding one. It didn’t really change my opinion of her instruction, but it did affirm my own abilities. And I had come to doubt myself a bit before that. With that renewed perspective, I also discovered a great love for journalism. Though I’d only been part of a crossword puzzle, I had seen all that goes into creating a newspaper. And during that semester I’d learned a bit about journalism in general. And I loved it. It was because of this nameless English teacher that I went on to take Journalism in my freshman year and that I joined yearbook staff during my sophomore year. It was because of that unexpected joy for writing that I discovered a true talent in myself and set out to major in journalism during college. Despite not following that dream to the end, I still credit that one semester in 8th grade and the teacher’s recognition of my abilities with making me the writer that I am today.
4. Coach Bellinghausen — 7th grade history: Before seventh grade I did not enjoy history. I also didn’t care a single bit for my home state of Texas. It meant nothing to me. But this coach made Texas history come alive like nothing I’d ever seen before. He had a true gift for making history relevant, and he had a gift for making it personal. I truly loved going to his class every day, and I looked forward to what I was going to learn there. And then, when my family took yet another trip to Austin to visit the Capitol and then to San Antonio to visit The Alamo, for the first time I understood the importance. And I could envision the people who had walked there before me. Coach Bellinghausen created in me a love of history that, little by little, increased over time. Thankfully, that love burrowed deep enough to not be crushed during the many years between 9th grade and college courses when one after another professor did their best to strangle any love I might have had for the subject. [Note to teachers: making students learn the names of battleships and exact dates of specific battles in multiple wars will only make their eyes glaze over and their hearts harden into bricks. Teach them the stories and introduce them to the people. That’s what they’ll come to love.] Fortunately, Coach B. was gifted in storytelling. Which made Texas history interesting. As did the educational film relating to the Battle of the Alamo in which actor A Martinez appeared before anyone really knew his name. I never forgot A Martinez, and I never forgot Coach Bellinghausen’s class.   Note: The internet has finally caught up with my years of searching, as I think I just found that film. I wonder if what we saw in class was this 1982 American Playhouse production of Seguin? If so, how in the world could I not remember Edward James Olmos also appearing in the film? Apparently I was distracted by Martinez’s pretty face.
5. Coach Robertson — 8th grade and then 9th grade history: It wasn’t so much that this coach changed my life or made me love history any more than Coach B. Instead, it’s that Coach Robertson made an interesting impression upon me. My first class with him came during the year of the tv series Greatest American Hero. And at the time Coach looked like William Katt as that character. My dad thought it quite humorous that my history teacher was the Greatest American Hero, and he often quipped about how we could never be sure it wasn’t the same guy. We could never be sure that my teacher didn’t have a secret life involving tights and a cape. We look back on that series now and see how terribly cheesy it was, but at the time, when I was 13 years old and suddenly aware of cuteness in boys, I was quite crazy about William Katt as the Greatest American Hero. And so I was crazy about Coach Robertson. He was my first teacher-crush. It was short-lived, though. By freshman year I had come to see him as just another teacher. And 9th grade history was nothing more than the class where I met up with best friends Valerie and Lea for an hour of sharing conversations about the latest music by our favorites Adam Ant, David Bowie, and Duran Duran, respectively. Coach was simply the man at the desk by then. But he remains significant because of his appearance, and sometimes that’s just as good as anything I may have learned.
6. Margie Wilson — 10th grade English: We never called her Mrs. Wilson, except to her face, because there was a second Mrs. Wilson in our school who was also an English teacher. But that second Mrs. Wilson was known as Scary Jo. The beloved Mrs. Wilson was always Margie. It’s no coincidence that my favorite teachers have mostly been English instructors. That was my best subject. It was the subject I loved the most. And Margie Wilson is the one who taught me to love Shakespeare. I’d been introduced to his work the year before, prior to my family’s move from our hometown in Cedar Hill, but Romeo and Juliet didn’t create a true love within me. Instead, it was Julius Caesar that made me see the beauty of Shakespeare’s language and the depth of literature itself. In that class I read Steinbeck for the first time, and Arthur Miller, and To Kill A Mockingbird. And my reading life was changed forever. Margie Wilson taught me the importance of literature and not just reading for reading’s sake. Despite never being introduced to Austen, Brontë, or Great Expectations in my school years, the lessons learned in Margie Wilson’s class remain the greatest educational gift I’ve ever been given.

My Listography was inspired by the site of the same name and list-maker extraordinaire Andrea at hulaseventy.


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September 23, 2010

September Listography | Day Twenty-Three


books I loved as a kid
There’s no way this kind of list could ever be all-inclusive, so these are simply the titles from the top of my head… the books I remember more fondly than the rest. 
The Chronicles of Narnia, first and foremost. It remains the most enduring of all the books I’ve ever read, even moreso than Lord of the Rings, simply because it was my earliest introduction to allegory and symbolism and non-traditional characters. I didn’t read LOTR until adulthood, after seeing the first film, so Narnia has almost thirty years head-start in my heart. And it did burrow its way into my heart, into my spirit. It was just The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for many years, but in my pre-teens I received a book from my parents called Narnia Explored (now titled Unlocking the Wardrobe) that explained the symbolism and themes of each book in the series. Suddenly, the entire Narnian world opened up to me in the grandest way, and I began to consume every successive title in the series. Though many will argue this, Aslan equals Christ, and as my relationship with Jesus grew, so did my understanding of His sacrifice for all mankind simply because I knew the story of Aslan. There is truly no end to my love for this classic work by C.S. Lewis, and there is nothing more profound to me than his beautiful illustration of Christ’s love. 
Nancy Drew Mysteries, which were the books that kicked off my obsession with reading. My grandmother introduced me to Nancy, after first attempting to get me interested in the Little House series (which I rejected fully since pioneer life had no relevance to my very young self and the TV series had not yet made it into my home). Laura Ingalls didn’t interest me but Nancy was the coolest girl I’d ever heard of! She was a teenager with a best girlfriend and a cute boyfriend, and she was smarter than anyone else in her world. Nancy was the perfect role model for an 8-year-old, and I began to consume the books with more and more vigor. I quickly worked my way through all of my grandmother’s titles and then began asking for more more more. I received new titles for every occasion, it seemed, and I may have visited our local library for any others we did not buy. I’d love to say I still have all of those books but, of course, they have disappeared over time. I have only a handful now, some of which I’ve purchased again in adulthood. And though I haven’t read any of them since my pre-teens, I’ve begun thinking it’s time to revisit.  
Judy Blume, who was the successor to Nancy Drew. I can’t recall if my mom introduced me with the book that every 70s-era girl was given, Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, or if I discovered it through a friend, but Blume’s books propelled me from childhood to near-teens. With Margaret I came to understand that books were being written to me and for me, and it wasn’t simply a story to enjoy but life lessons to learn. I didn’t read that many titles, actually, but the ones I read spoke to me on a new level. They spoke to my experiences as an awkward, socially-inept, introverted and self-conscious pre-teen who longed to just be loved without judgment. It was a few years before I found a true best friend of my own choosing, and in the meantime I had Blume’s characters to walk with me. Her younger character of Fudge seemed below my interest level (though my sister read a few), so I started with Margaret and proceeded through Then Again, Maybe I Won’t (my first experience with a male protagonist), Tiger Eyes, and then, naturally, Forever. I was in fifth grade when I read Forever, and I had no idea what I was getting into. None of us did at the time! And our teachers weren’t aware of the content, so I was able to sit in class and read it at my desk during quiet times with no one the wiser about its subject matter. Had anyone looked over my shoulder at certain points I would’ve died from humiliation right then and there! To this day, I credit Judy Blume, and not my parents, with my sex education. And honestly, it was a fantastic way to learn about love and sex and relationships between teenagers. In the years that followed, as boys and girls became more and more interested in each other, I had this very positive reference for all that was going on around me. There has been much controversy surrounding Judy Blume, but in my mind she is treasured because she speaks the truth for the young people who need to be acknowledged. 
Sweet Valley High, where I moved after the world of Blume. Honestly, once you read Forever, you just can’t return to children’s books. And Sweet Valley High was a brand-new series that no one was even aware of yet — in fact, I just stumbled across it on a shelf while browsing in the mall bookstore and was drawn to the blonde girls on the cover. There were only a couple of titles available at that time, and I was instantly enchanted. I read the stories of twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield as if they were my own best friends, and they prepared me for the often harsh moments that come with high school. With one girl being an intellectual and the other being the popular cheerleader, I could find understanding of the difficult emotions I experienced as an outsider in school, but the stories also made me yearn to be included. Thankfully, there was a great moral center in every SVH story, and there was always a comeuppance, so I felt satisfied with the conclusion of every book. And each one made me yearn for more.
Sweet Valley High was my last real series of young adult books, and the years of reading that followed were generally dictated by school assignments. Thankfully, from 6th through 9th grades I had the greatest English/Reading teacher in the history of education (more on her later!) and the books I had to read for class often made me want to read more titles by the authors. I discovered S.E. Hinton that way, and quickly devoured everything she’d written by then, from The Outsiders onward. In my later teens, when I was exploring spirituality for the first time, I discovered Janette Oke, who served to cement my great wanderlust for other places and other cultures. Though many have great affection for the Love Comes Softly series, it’s the Canadian West books that drew me (probably because I was following hockey at the time). I still have my original copies — the first books I made a point to hang onto — and I have the fondest memories for everything in them. Isn’t it odd to be struck by a story of moving to the frontier after rejecting the pioneer life of the Ingalls family? Such is my frenetic mind! (Side Note: It’s interesting now, as I just searched for a link to the Canadian West series for this post, that there are two additional titles that didn’t exist when I was reading this collection. But I have no interest in those two titles as they concern the main characters’ children. It was the the original characters, Wynn and Elizabeth, who engaged me, and without them it’s just not the same series.)
Several other authors and titles grabbed me through the years, including a rebellious tangent into Jackie Collins and one or two Danielle Steele tomes, but there is only one more book that holds a resolute place in my heart and brings intense emotion with every mention. 
Bridge to Terabithia. It was recommended reading by a teacher in elementary school, probably from the Weekly Reader list (remember that?), and when I began to read I had no idea where the story would take me. As a child I was so interested in reading for reading’s sake that I rarely even checked a summary. I just took whatever I could find and dove in. In doing that, Terabithia managed to envelop my soul and crush it in the same brief period of time. It was the first time I remember reading the death of a character, and a primary character at that, and I was truly grief-stricken. I recall this also being the first time a book made me cry. And not just a few tears, either. I sobbed and sobbed during the reading. My heart still twinges at the thought. But that sorrow didn’t make me stop reading; instead, I was thrust forward with more and more desire to reach the conclusion. Perhaps I thought there would be joy at the end, or perhaps the sheer power of emotion compelled me. Whatever it was, I devoured the story. And it has lived with me throughout all of my life. Which is the perfect reasoning for the act of reading itself. I read in order to live: in another place or time, for a brief moment, with people I may never have the pleasure to meet in person but who have much to teach me in print. And in that way, books truly come to life.

The Chronicles of Narnia The Chronicles of Narnia Forever Sweet Valley High Bridge to Terabithia

My Listography was inspired by the site of the same name and list-maker extraordinaire Andrea at hulaseventy


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