A Stalled Move, Homeschooling, and Eternity in the Heart of Man

Our moving date just got pushed back half a week, much to my dismay, which means the week and a half I’d planned on taking off school is turning into twoish weeks and getting us a little behind. On one hand, homeschooling in the midst of boxes and chaos, shifting states and shifting belongings, probably tips the scale from Bold to Crazy, but nevertheless, I plan on getting a week done between the tail-end  of this week and the beginning of another.

For one, homeschool lends structure to our rather shapeless days. All our goodbye playdates and lunches have been had. We’ve said goodbye and cried and hugged and to go through it again and again is hard on the heart. So though I’d love more time with all our friends and loved ones, I’d like less goodbyes. If you see us, you see us, these last few days. And if we are doing school, we are doing something. Something check-markable, something moving us forward while everything else is stalled.

In my favor: we are doing kindergarten and second grade, not rocket science. Also our curriculum (Playful Pioneers) is super fun and all about adventurous pioneers moving from place to place. I’ll confess I nearly cried when reading a story about Daniel Boone, when Mr. Boone said “We Boones never stay in one place for long.” That is just like us, I told the girls.

But I hope this time that we will. There’s this longing for FOREVER. When we bought our current home, I thought (and said), “this is our Forever house”. I painted each wall thinking “forever, forever, forever.” We hung up the swings thinking “bbqs, parties, grandkids”. And that wasn’t the case. We’ve been here six months and here we are again, labeling and boxing up everything we own.

I don’t think we are fools to wish for Forever. We are made for Forever, goodbyes are unnatural. At the same time, I know often God calls his people to wander–he has work for us in more than one city, in more than a handful of lives. I do not doubt that this move is bringing us to another sphere we are meant to influence.

It is in those relationships and friendships where we can find Forever–souls are the only eternal things we interact with in this entire wide world. Not a hometown. Not a physical church, or a favorite restaurant, or frequented park. Hevel, hevel, hevel, right?

This is why Ecclesiastes is my favorite book of the bible, and I’m convinced that though there are a good many Christians called to live lives in a twenty mile residence, there are also a number of us that God made a little adventurous, a little willing to take a chance and start over, because isn’t starting over truly a Grace, a God-given Grace, no matter how nice a place you come from?

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Comp Paper Revamp

I adjunct online for various universities and have taught many a freshman comp class and read many a freshman comp paper. These are the topics I see too often:

  • gun control (pro/con)
  • health (exercise / diet)
  • abortion (pro / con)
  • paying student athletes
  • legalization of marijuana

Why not shake things up a bit and do some of your own actual research? Here are some paper topics I would actually be interested in reading:

  • conspiracy theories (pretty much any conspiracy theory would make an interesting research paper to me)
  • poetry (obviously)
  • publishing (again, see above)
  • political predictions
  • anything about stuff going on OUTSIDE THE USA
  • cats

so freshmen, let’s go out and surprise your comp teacher this year!

Poets: How famous do you need to be?

I’m not an “emerging” or “young” poet anymore–I’ve got two books out and I’m over 30 (but not by that much, so!). I publish pretty regularly, but never in Poetry or The New Yorker. I only adjunct online, not full-time on-campus for a big university, and I don’t live in a major literary city. I’d say I’m a moderately successful poet, at best.

 

A question I’ve asked myself in the past few years, as my desire to be More of a Poet consistently clashed with my desire for a family (and to do family a certain way). I know I’m not the first one to say it, but you really can’t have it all, not if you want to do it well.

So I had to face up to it: how famous do I need to be as a poet? Because that is the real struggle–having a four kids in six years and Homeschooling them certainly cuts into my time to write, but I still wrote two books in that time (and I’m working on two more), so it isn’t like I’m not writing.

No, what it cuts back on is the “po-biz”–all that stuff that helps you get a little bit ahead as a poet. I knew it was hurting my chances of being a big deal when I quit my tenure-track professor job to stay home with my kids, had less time / ability/ money to travel for readings or do readings at all, less time to work for literary magazines, to review other poets, basically to be a literary citizen at all. I love literary citizens, I would love to do more of that, and sometimes I try it out but quickly find that it doesn’t work with my season in life. There are too many obligations tugging on my shirt asking for a sippy cup of juice. When it comes down to am I going to write another poem or review a book, I’m going to write the poem, every time. And sometimes just read the book.

Anyway, I’m not saying that I’m even good enough to be a big deal, but I think as a writer it is important to know what your goals are. Do you NEED to be the next Mary Oliver? Then goodness you need to get AT IT with social media, contest winning, all the things! Are you cool with being a professor and having a handful of solid publications a year? Then you don’t have to worry about gathering up that global audience so much. Are you a work from home online adjunct professor with four kids who homeschools? Then your goal might just be survival.

Ultimately, I decided that as much as I would love to be a literary magazine editor, poet laureate, and/or tenured professor, my gotta-have-it level of fame is that I would like Some people to have Read my Poems. Not everyone–I’m not shooting for “household name” level of fame (no, impossible for poets– “creative writing student can remember your name” level of fame?), just some people to really have read my poems and maybe liked them.

So knowing that goal is important–it lets me know it is ok for me to quit all the side hustling things that are great but that aren’t important to my ultimate goal of Some People Reading My Poems–for me this means pretty much anything that isn’t just reading poems, writing poems, and occasionally on social media linking to poems I’ve written and poems I’ve liked that others have written. So literary magazine involvement to a minimum, social media at a minimum, readings at a once-a-year.

And it, probably most importantly, lets me know what to do with my current work! I don’t need to be Mary Oliver, so a big contest isn’t really worth my money–I need to buy diapers, y’all, I’m not wasting my hard-earned diaper money on contest fees! (contest fees, which weed out poets who don’t have the funds to be famous? maybe that’s another blogpost…)

And I want a press that will do the side-hustly social media junk mostly for me? I know that presses don’t really completely do that ever anymore especially for poetry books, but if I’m going to choose making art over selling art, I need a press that will do a lot of the Getting the Book Into Readers Hands for me. That is the number one thing I am looking for in a press right now.

so that is about how famous I want to be. What about you?