I have officially held a chipmunk…

And it only took going to Colorado to do it!

Hi everyone! Been too long since I updated. I figured I’d do it because I’m supposed to be working on edits for Meeting Chance. No better time than the present, eh?

So over Memorial Day Weekend I was in Estes Park, Colorado for a wedding. I fell in love with the place. Just a few days there and I can’t wait to go back. I’m seriously considering moving out there someday in the future. Maybe if everything works out and the stars align…

Anyway, I wanted to share a post I made on Facebook, in case there are any YA authors, or authors with YA appropriate books, who read this and are interested in participating.

ATTENTION YA AUTHORS! I had this great idea. My coworker has a board in her classroom that features teachers and students each month, their picture, and their favorite books. I would LOVE to do a featured author board in my classroom. I have giant boards and currently don’t really use them.
Would any of you like to be on my feature author board? ­čśÇ I would post your picture, a copy of your book, your top five favorite books appropriate for teens (or adult books that teens can read with no inappropriate content) and a few short questions for you to answer for the kids to learn more about you.
I really want to expose them to as many authors as possible. If you know someone who would be interested, please share this with them as well. If I don’t already have your YA book for my classroom, I will by it and add it to the collection.
I would likely start this next year as the school year is almost over, but I would love to get a head start so I can start preparing.

The Next Seven Days…

This week I feel like I’ve been terribly forgetful. In fact, I KNOW I have been. There’s just been so much on┬ámy mind that it’s hard to focus on any one thing, and as a result, a lot goes out of my mind!

Yesterday was the final tryout for my Odyssey of the Mind teams and after much deliberation and careful consideration, I was able to narrow down the 18 to my final 14 students. It was hard. All the kids that tried out were great and could bring different things to the program, but I can only have up to 7 students per team, and I’m already insane to take on two teams by myself.

Today we had field day. It was a BLAST. I cannot tell you how much fun I had. At my old school, field day was for some students, while the others and teachers just lounged around and watched. Not so here. At OCS, students are put into buddy groups from grades 5-8. There were 11 stations at a park we went to, and the students got about 10 minutes playing each of the games. I was in charge of the Capture the Flag field. CRAZY! Our section of the field was soaked by yesterdays rain and near the trees. Students from every team slipped in the slick grass and fell into it, but they had so much fun. I laughed so hard and got great pictures for the yearbook. I also nearly lost my voice from yelling and cheering so hard the entire time we were there. Oh, and don’t worry, I got soaked too. The water went up my jeans before I realized what was happening. But the fun was worth it!

My book was chosen as the October read for the YA LGBT Books group on Goodreads.

This weekend I’ll be working at the consignment shop and since it’s a sidewalk sale, my boss is setting me up to sell my books. Exciting! That’s this Saturday and Sunday. Monday we have off and I promised my students I’d go to the Book Barn to get more traditional fantasy books. I agree – not enough.

Tuesday I have a book talk at CCSU after school from 4:30 until 6.

And then Friday I’ll be heading to P-Town for Women’s Week!

So much coming up, it’s really no wonder I’m losing my thoughts!

End of the year blues…

It’s almost the end of the school year. There are only two more full days left and three half days. Last year at this time I would be thrilled to have a few months off to recoup, read, and plan for next year. This year, it’s bittersweet.

Yes, I look forward to a few months of downtime and a lot of reading (and writing. Camp Nano August here I come!) but there are some negatives about it.

First and foremost, because of cuts in the English department, I will not be returning to the Bristol school system next year. It’s devastating to me because I love it so much. I love my coworkers and my students, and I truly do feel that we are all one big family. The last three years at Memorial Boulevard has been an amazing experience and I cherish each moment. I thought I found a home there, and I did. I’ll miss everyone.

Second, not only will I not be in Bristol, but the school I love so much is closing. Memorial┬á Boulevard is over 90 years old, and the city decided to build two new buildings instead. Yes, I agree that is a bit outdated and needs some work, and yes there is mold in many rooms, but it’s a beautiful piece of architecture and has so much history! My grandmother attended the school when it was a high school in the 1940s. My classroom looks onto a field and is shaded by a beautiful tree that has the most interesting purple/green leaves. I love the pigeons that land on my windowsills and threaten to come into the room if the window is open. I love the squirrels that hang out on the brances and watch the students.

Despite all these things, I know I will find a new home somewhere. I’ve been applying for jobs and the right one will come to me, as everyone says.

It’s just sad to see such a wonderful time come to an end.

A Week of Sorrow

This week has been the most difficult week of my teaching career. I know I have been teaching only three years and have many more years to go before I can retire, but I know this will remain one of the most difficult times of my career.

I thought it was difficult to find out that I will be losing my job at the end of the school year due to cuts in the school system. It hurt, because I love my job. My school is also closing because they built two new schools in town, so all of the teachers I work with will be split up and spread amongst the new and the old that are kept open. Such a great staff will not be together for much longer.

But it was this week that the staff suffered a tragedy that no one should have to face. It is hard enough when a school loses a student due to an accident or illness. But it is another thing all together when the student commits suicide.

This student, who shall remain nameless because of his tender age of fourteen, was in my homeroom and book club. He was on my team, and I saw him daily. Every morning he would walk through my room with his headphones blasting so loudly I have no idea how he had any hearing left. I could be at my computer desk and know the instant he was ABOUT to enter the room from the opposite doorway. It was that loud.

I got the call Tuesday night and I was devastated. I never expected something like this to happen. He was not bullied. He was a well loved student who many looked up to or were friends with. Teachers loved him as well. He was bright. He loved poetry. He was an advanced reader who enjoyed Dante’s Inferno and could discuss the translator’s style with me. He was gothic in the true, original sense of the word, and loved all the literature that accompanied the style.

Wednesday morning I had to read a short announcement to my homeroom about the loss. I broke down crying. My homeroom, of course, already knew. They were all friends with him. I have never known a silence to be that pervasive. My homeroom is never quiet, but they were for the entire Flex period. I almost wanted to beg them to say something, make some sort of noise to shatter that silence, but they didn’t. They could barely even look at his seat.

The school did so well with handling the students and staff. A crisis team was called in to offer support for students, and each of the teachers of my team had a sub in the room with them in case they needed to step out and grieve. It was wonderful to have another adult in the room with me. Even though I was okay for most of the day, just knowing someone else was ready to take over if I needed it was help enough.

Friday evening was his wake. The teachers on my team went together as support for each other, the family, and our students. I stayed the entire three hours with two of my fellow team members. The right shoulder of my shirt was soaked by the time it was finished. Students I never thought I would see cry broke down and hugged me tightly. Other students came up and hugged me, told me it was okay for me to cry, that they understood I was being strong for them and that they were there for me, too. That made me tear up. It’s wonderful to know how much the kids care.

I have had a hard time processing everything. I wanted to write about the experience, but I just couldn’t find the right words. When I finally did, I wrote a poem. It’s five pages long in my poetry journal. It felt good to get the words out onto the page, and perhaps I’ll share it later. But for now, I’ll keep it close until the time is right.

Suicide is never the answer. So many people are left behind hurt and confused. Maybe it’s selfish of us to want the person to stay when they are in so much pain, but that pain will not last. It will get better. It DOES get better.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, PLEASE get help. There is always someone out there to talk to. Someone will listen. Tell a trusted adult. Call a hotline.

If you are in Connecticut, you can call the United Way of Connecticut Crisis Hotline by simply dialing 211.

There is also the National Hopeline: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

Or The National Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

Please. Get help. It Gets Better, no matter who you are.

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

I thought I would do a little reflection post on what 2011 was like for me, and what I hope 2012 will be. There are a lot of things both good and bad, and I’ll try not to focus on the bad. ­čÖé

(None of this is in order because all things are relative to the situation and that point in time.)

Goodbye 2011

  • Andy Squared was picked up for publication by Bold Strokes Books after multiple agent rejections.
  • I was in an amazing relationship for almost half a year, but after that time he decided I was not the one for him, even though I felt he was the one for me. It’s like that Adam Lambert song, “Sleepwalker.”
  • I started teaching seventh grade along with my eighth grade students. Fun times!
  • I picked up the new, fun hobby of letterboxing. It’s been a while since I’ve gone out, but hey! It’s colder.
  • I read 105 books!
  • I lost my job at Borders when they closed ): but I worked there for a wonderful 6 years.
  • I made some new friends, lost some old ones, but in the end I’d say it’s fairly balanced.

Hello 2012

  • Andy Squared will be published by Bold Strokes Books under their Soliloquy YA line!
  • I get to work with an amazing editor and talk to awesome authors.
  • I will be moving to a new school at the end of the year because my school is closing. Where I’ll be going, though, I have no idea.
  • I hope to move out of my parents house and find my own home, be it an apartment, condo, or house.
  • Did I mention Andy Squared will be published?

What are you looking forward to in 2012? What are you happy to say goodbye to from 2011? Let’s all stay safe, happy and healthy this new year! I’m starting it off cleaning out my old junk and organizing myself.