Poem: Vanishing (with back story)

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Wired.com

This is the poem that got me started writing poetry on my own time. In previous classes over the years we had written poems, usually following a form or writing haikus and limericks. Those were good ways of being introduced to poetry, but they didn’t seem to be very personal.

In May 1998, near the end of eighth grade, I was at home in the den/family room. I remember Mom called out asking me to bring her the newspaper or something. So I got up and walked toward the kitchen as requested, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground. I had blacked out or something. They ran tests at the hospital, including an EKG, but no one could find anything to explain what actually happened. I was given a heart monitor to wear for 24 hours.

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I didn’t fully understand the seriousness of what happened that weekend. I just knew I detested having to wear the monitor. But I just wrote down what I felt on paper.

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Eighth grade English: The reality check

Eighth grade English was a small introduction to the real world. Not everyone is eager to learn. Not everyone wants to be in school. Not everyone has respect for teachers or those giving presentations. Kids act up and cause disruptions in class for no reason. Not everyone does the work or makes an effort.

I viewed trying and making an effort, being respectful and paying attention as expected behavior. I wasn’t abnormal for following those protocols, but I viewed others as weird for not doing so.

This year was also a glimpse of the real world because of my teacher. I had known Mrs. Davis for most of my life. Her mother lived two houses down from us. Mrs. Davis had two daughters. Madalyn, the oldest, was my brother’s age, and we’d hang out a lot. I had a deep respect for Mrs. Davis. I knew she taught English, but I never would have guessed she’d end up being my teacher. I was with students who made an effort and then there were several who put up a fight every step of the way and just didn’t care at all.

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The highlights of eighth grade

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Eighth grade meant many more changes. Classes were in a different building on campus. Unlike seventh grade where I was with the same group of students for all of my core classes, this year meant encountering a wide range of students. There were a few individual students who shared classes with me, but for the most part each class had a unique assortment. I really got to see a broader scope in learning abilities and interest in learning. In my English class, that wide range was more pronounced as I was mixed in with several students who spent a lot of time serving in-school suspensions and just didn’t seem to understand or care about the importance of getting an education.

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So much music

 

636243282134517774-314545726_music9Seventh grade was the year of music. I feel like I finally started paying more attention to the radio and what was playing. I’d been around music before, certainly. But the radio was just a tool for offering songs. Songs were enjoyable but not identity-defining. No compulsion to memorize lyrics. I could just passively enjoy it.

My earliest memories of music involve listening to the record player. My parents had plenty of albums by The Beatles. We’d play those or other records (I believe there was a Sesame Street one in our possession, too) and I’d dance with Dad. I think the first attempts at dancing meant my feet placed on top of his. But music was fun; there were no expectations.

Before public school or being this particular age, I listened to music more out of enjoyment. There was no need to know the names of bands and song titles or lyrics. I liked the song and that was enough. But now? Now there seemed to be more emphasis on joining in with the shared knowledge. If you can’t reference a song or band, you can’t join in the conversations. You can’t discuss things. You need to know what people are referencing.

Now I was spending lots of money buying blank cassettes at the Dollar General near my house and spending hours listening to the radio and recording on the tapes, taking diligent notes of what I was recording. The New Years Eve countdown was more about listening to the top songs of the year and recording a copy for myself than actually enjoying the year in review.

New friends meant being introduced to new music. I began listening to country more as well as top 40 radio.

The biggest surprise of the year was the debut of “MMMBop.” Yes, the end of seventh grade meant the arrival of Hanson on the music scene. And man, did I love their sound. It was a band of three young brothers with a lead singer my age. What’s not to like about that? They wrote their own music, played instruments and sang.

You could call me obsessed about the band. I was. Some friends and I grew to really like their music and got involved in the whole fan fiction side of things. No story was really worth the light of day, but it kept us entertained. We were shaping characters after the members of Hanson, later Backstreet Boys and NSync, but it also meant coming up with different scenarios and problems and just plain exercising our abilities to craft fiction. Writing was a good outlet, and it was a nice way of bonding together. Some friends call each other up to talk about what they’re going to wear to school the next day. We discussed potential plot ideas.

Over the years, I’ve come to deepen my respect for Hanson. They were faced with social backlash where it became unpopular and people faced ridicule for liking their music. They didn’t give up. Their label started causing problems for them. They didn’t give up. In fact they launched their own label. Their music didn’t receive much radio play. They didn’t give up. They’ve maintained a loyal following through their own website, fan club and social media.

And that’s a great lesson in itself of not letting obstacles defeat you. As I’ve learned and reflected on my experiences with sensory processing disorder, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been doing just that: overcoming many different obstacles. Of course a lot of it was unknown to me at the time, but that doesn’t diminish the victories.

May 2017 marks 20 years since “MMMBop”, and Hanson came out with a new song “I Was Born.” This new song is full of hope and wonder, and about how there is so much possibility out there. And how we all have the potential to be trailblazers in our own way. So if you haven’t listened to it yet, check it out. Below is the official video which adds another dimension by featuring 11 of the band’s 12 children.

The overflowing book bag

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Heavy school bags (blog post)

Why does each teacher insist on their own 3-ring binder for class? I know it’s to keep things organized and separate. But that’s what dividers are for! I understand not using a 5-subject notebook for multiple classes because the established 70 or 100 pages for the section likely won’t be enough and you run the risk of merging notes. Well, if you were like me and diligently wrote down everything that was discussed in class and had no real way of distinguishing super important information from a useless detail, then the single-subject of space wouldn’t be enough. (Although I did realize later on that I learn best by writing things down, so I guess I can’t fault myself too much on this. I just needed help with knowing what should be worth recording.) If you were more selective about what you wrote down, then maybe the 5-subject notebook would work for you.

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The new girl at school

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Public school. August 1996 meant the beginning of public school.

Farewell to school uniforms, now nearly anything was allowed. I went from a small school of about 300 for K-8 to more than 800 for 6-8. That’s a big difference! It meant taking the bus to school, being around a wide range of students, new hallways to navigate. A school full of students I didn’t know. The first time I needed to wear an ID badge.

And yet, there was hope.

One of my aunts learned of my school change and knew of a girl who would be in my grade. She had Sarah keep an eye out for me.

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6th grade: The year from hell

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MamaMia (teaching daughter not to be a bully)

Note: Not all of what I’m going to share is specifically sensory related. However it all interconnects in showing how being self-conscious about areas where I struggled and felt different impacted my self-confidence. While this is humiliating to recount, it’s necessary in order to show the full picture. So it needs to be shared.

Also, I’m not calling anyone out by name. That’s not the point of writing about it. So anyone reading who happened to go to school with me at this time, don’t try to figure out who I’m referencing. Many people do stupid stuff when they’re this age. Kids are mean. It’s unfortunately universal. … Moving on.

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Spinning Rolodex: The chaos of communication

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Yes, I know what a Rolodex is. I never had to use one, but I have seen them around. For those of you who have grown up with cellphones and computerized address books, I’ll let you in on a fun device. It was a place to alphabetize contacts in what was expected to be within easy reach. You just flip to the appropriate letter and then through the cards available until you get the right one. These were mostly used in offices, so that you could cradle the phone against your shoulder and continue to talk while you searched for a phone number.

Alright, now that we’re clear, I’m moving on.

So, I’m great at listening. I will do my darndest to follow your train of thought until the very end. That’s not to say that’s it’s easy. Sometimes it requires extreme amounts of focus to keep up as people mumble through their sharing or speed through one thought after another like a verbal Nascar race.

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How this writer got her start

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Teachers are sneaky about finding ways to get students familiar with talking in front of the class.

In kindergarten, first grade and maybe even second grade, it’s disguised as show and tell. You’re bringing in an item from home that you love and talking about it. Early on, teachers emphasize the importance of sharing what you love.

That’s public speaking in its purest form. Eye contact isn’t evaluated as much and neither is the smoothness of your delivery. You’re just sharing to the best of your ability.

So those are good building blocks that progress through each grade level.

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All twisted up with learning cursive

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Last year, I had an opportunity to write about my experience with sensory processing disorder. It was an in-depth piece with a broad overview of the symptoms and characteristics that I encountered, as well as areas where I continue to struggle. This is the raw, unedited version of how I began that piece, a snapshot of my classroom experience with learning to write in cursive.

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