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When I'm not here, you may find me wandering the pages below. (If I'm a regular visitor to your site and I've left your link off or mislinked to you, please let me know! And likewise, if you've blogrolled me, please check that my link is updated: thisroamanticlife.blogspot.com. The extra (a) makes all the difference!)

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For posts sorted by date or label, see the links below.

For posts on frequently referenced topics, click the buttons to the right.

To search this blog, type in the field at the top left of the page and hit enter.

Body: in sickness and in health

I won't lie; this body and I have had our issues with each other for many years. Body image -- sure. Physical and mental overextension -- comes with being a Type A kind of girl. I still struggle with these things, so they show up from time to time in my writing.

More recently, illness, pure but not simple, has added itself to the mix in a multi-system sort of way. And the challenges in figuring out exactly what's gone wrong are many. As problems have revealed themselves in the last few years, beginning with reactive hypoglycemia in late 2008, I've documented them here, partly to gain a little clarity on managing complex conditions but mostly to give voice to vulnerabilities I feel but don't normally share with anyone face to face. Better out than in, they say, right? (Oh yes, humor is one way I deal.)

The links below cover the different angles I've examined (and from which I've been examined) within that experience.

Travel: neither here nor there

When the person you're married to lives two time zones away, you log a fair number of frequent flier miles. And if you blog about commuter relationships, you log quite a few posts en route too.

Since we're no longer in separate places, I blog less often from airports. But we do travel -- together now! -- which is much more fun to write about. So in addition to thoughts on our years of commuting, the links below cover the places we've been as a pair and, in some cases, the adventures that have happened on the way.

Writing: the long and short of it

Why do I do it? Good question. Maybe it's not so much that I like to write but that I have to write, even when the words refuse to stick to the page. Believe me, I've tried doing other things like majoring in biochemistry (freshman fall, many semesters ago). Within a year, I'd switched to English with a concentration in creative writing and wasn't looking back.

After graduating, I taught English for a few years and then worked as an editor, which I still do freelance. In 2007, I applied and got into an MFA program at a place I like to call Little U. on the Prairie. I finished my degree in 2011 and have been balancing tutoring and writing on my own ever since.

The following links cover the writing I've done about writing: process, content, obstacles, you name it. It's not always pretty. But some part of me loves it, even when it's hard. And this is the result.

Heart: family and friends

I'd have a hard time explaining who I am without being able to talk about the family I grew up in as well as the people I've met beyond its bounds. But even with such context, it's not easy! In the simplest terms, I'm a first-generation Asian-American who has spent most of this life caught between cultures. That, of course, doesn't even begin to describe what I mean to, but there's my first stab at the heart of it all.

That's what this group of posts is reserved for -- heart. The essential parts of my life whose influences I carry with me, for better or worse. The links below cover what I've written as I've learned how these forces work within me, for me, against me, in spite of me. They anchor me even as they change me, and they keep life interesting.

Recommended reading

What do I do when there's too much on my mind and my words won't stick to the page? I escape into someone else's thoughts. Below is a collection of books and articles that have been sources of information, inspiration, and occasional insight for my own work.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Learning the hard way

C. Troubadour: "February, where have you gone?"

Feb: "To the hardware store."

Yes, after recovering from our first job repainting and installing trim in one of our guest bedrooms, we decided it was time to tackle bedroom No. 2, our would-be nursery. There's no imminent need for it yet, but we figured I'd be more help working on the room now rather than later, when paint fume exposure will be a larger concern ...

I made D promise that we would establish a schedule for this project so that it wouldn't drag itself out over 19 months as the first did -- nearly as long as it took me to write my thesis -- and I'd say we're actually sticking to our plan. Perhaps it's because we've learned some useful lessons from our (many) mistakes in the previous round -- among them, don't leave your painting tape in place until after the paint has dried and don't use the same tape for multiple coats. (The tape becomes very difficult to remove and can peel your carefully applied paint away with it!) Perhaps, too, things are moving along because we now know our tolerance for such work and are pacing ourselves better to avoid burnout. Whatever the case, the topcoat on the walls is done, and beautiful lengths of crown molding are now laid out in our garage, waiting to be cut to size with a special saw we borrowed from one of D's coworkers. Color me amazed! (And thank goodness we won't be using our earlier method for the cutting.) If we can get this room finished by April, I will be ecstatic.

I am, however, much less delighted with the progress I've been making with one of the students I tutor each week. (Oh, right -- remember that job I took a few weeks before Halloween? That's the other thing occupying my time these days.) The student in question has been my charge since my boss handed him off to me in mid-October -- she'd been working with him before that point -- and, per the curriculum she's set up, I comment on grammar and content in weekly reading summaries she assigns him to write on books of his own choosing (in this case, mostly sci-fi/fantasy). I have my own opinion about the merits of making a kid parrot back what he's read without asking him to do more with it, so I'd asked him in recent weeks to answer some additional analysis questions. And I started to notice that the writing style he employed for that extra portion was distinctly different from that of his "reports."

Teachers, I think you know where this is going.

Yesterday, hoping against hope that I'd find nothing, I checked each and every one of the assignments the kid had sent me from October onward and discovered they'd been drawn, word for word, from Wikipedia, which offers handy little synopses on every single book he's read.

What, I ask you, is the point of paying a tutor to help you improve your writing when you don't present your real work for her to critique?

Logic puzzles aside, I'm now unsure what to do for this boy. I reported the problem to my boss, of course, who confronted the student's parents. A thorough apology from their son was in my inbox within the hour. But in terms of my next steps with him, I'm wondering what position is best to take.

I want, above all, to be effective in guiding him out of this mess. Believe it or not, he is the one who sought out a tutor for himself (yes, he -- not his parents), and he has his heart set on getting into an Ivy League school. Clearly, something complicated is going on in his I-want-it-and-I-don't behavior toward getting extra help -- but how do I get him to understand (and tell me) what that is? I haven't a clue yet. All I do know (from my own experience teaching in Iowa and in other places) is that plagiarism is rarely the result of laziness; it's more often an act of desperation. Whatever is making this kid anxious enough to seek out a tutor but balk at having her give him real assistance is at once intriguing, disturbing and, above all, saddening.

Thankfully, I have a little extra time to think about options for addressing all this as we won't be meeting for two weeks while this kid is traveling with his family. So teachers, parents, anyone who sees this as a gigantic teachable moment -- what suggestions do you have?

2 comments:

TKW said...

Oh, what a shame. ((you))

Sherlock said...

I wish I could get a project started! We have a basement apartment that needs new flooring - has needed for three years. Can't seem to get going on it.

About the student - perhaps working with him on how to use sources? For example, he can use wikipedia to learn information and find reliable sources (that's all wikipedia's good for really). I tell my students to do this:
1. read, read, read again. Learn the information in your source (whatever it is).
2. put away the source and sit and free write everything you can remember
3. review and organize your notes
4. refer to the source. Add some paraphrases and/or quotes to give support to your comments
5.add citations for paraphrases and quotes
6. this is still the notes/draft step so at this point, rewrite and organize into proper paragraphs
7. proofread

Maybe that will help if he knows he can use sources but just needs to learn how to use them effectively and not plagiarize. More times than we realize, students are anxious because they feel pressured to write when they really can't for whatever reason (could be writer's block or just not in the mood.)

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Learning the hard way

C. Troubadour: "February, where have you gone?"

Feb: "To the hardware store."

Yes, after recovering from our first job repainting and installing trim in one of our guest bedrooms, we decided it was time to tackle bedroom No. 2, our would-be nursery. There's no imminent need for it yet, but we figured I'd be more help working on the room now rather than later, when paint fume exposure will be a larger concern ...

I made D promise that we would establish a schedule for this project so that it wouldn't drag itself out over 19 months as the first did -- nearly as long as it took me to write my thesis -- and I'd say we're actually sticking to our plan. Perhaps it's because we've learned some useful lessons from our (many) mistakes in the previous round -- among them, don't leave your painting tape in place until after the paint has dried and don't use the same tape for multiple coats. (The tape becomes very difficult to remove and can peel your carefully applied paint away with it!) Perhaps, too, things are moving along because we now know our tolerance for such work and are pacing ourselves better to avoid burnout. Whatever the case, the topcoat on the walls is done, and beautiful lengths of crown molding are now laid out in our garage, waiting to be cut to size with a special saw we borrowed from one of D's coworkers. Color me amazed! (And thank goodness we won't be using our earlier method for the cutting.) If we can get this room finished by April, I will be ecstatic.

I am, however, much less delighted with the progress I've been making with one of the students I tutor each week. (Oh, right -- remember that job I took a few weeks before Halloween? That's the other thing occupying my time these days.) The student in question has been my charge since my boss handed him off to me in mid-October -- she'd been working with him before that point -- and, per the curriculum she's set up, I comment on grammar and content in weekly reading summaries she assigns him to write on books of his own choosing (in this case, mostly sci-fi/fantasy). I have my own opinion about the merits of making a kid parrot back what he's read without asking him to do more with it, so I'd asked him in recent weeks to answer some additional analysis questions. And I started to notice that the writing style he employed for that extra portion was distinctly different from that of his "reports."

Teachers, I think you know where this is going.

Yesterday, hoping against hope that I'd find nothing, I checked each and every one of the assignments the kid had sent me from October onward and discovered they'd been drawn, word for word, from Wikipedia, which offers handy little synopses on every single book he's read.

What, I ask you, is the point of paying a tutor to help you improve your writing when you don't present your real work for her to critique?

Logic puzzles aside, I'm now unsure what to do for this boy. I reported the problem to my boss, of course, who confronted the student's parents. A thorough apology from their son was in my inbox within the hour. But in terms of my next steps with him, I'm wondering what position is best to take.

I want, above all, to be effective in guiding him out of this mess. Believe it or not, he is the one who sought out a tutor for himself (yes, he -- not his parents), and he has his heart set on getting into an Ivy League school. Clearly, something complicated is going on in his I-want-it-and-I-don't behavior toward getting extra help -- but how do I get him to understand (and tell me) what that is? I haven't a clue yet. All I do know (from my own experience teaching in Iowa and in other places) is that plagiarism is rarely the result of laziness; it's more often an act of desperation. Whatever is making this kid anxious enough to seek out a tutor but balk at having her give him real assistance is at once intriguing, disturbing and, above all, saddening.

Thankfully, I have a little extra time to think about options for addressing all this as we won't be meeting for two weeks while this kid is traveling with his family. So teachers, parents, anyone who sees this as a gigantic teachable moment -- what suggestions do you have?

2 comments:

TKW said...

Oh, what a shame. ((you))

Sherlock said...

I wish I could get a project started! We have a basement apartment that needs new flooring - has needed for three years. Can't seem to get going on it.

About the student - perhaps working with him on how to use sources? For example, he can use wikipedia to learn information and find reliable sources (that's all wikipedia's good for really). I tell my students to do this:
1. read, read, read again. Learn the information in your source (whatever it is).
2. put away the source and sit and free write everything you can remember
3. review and organize your notes
4. refer to the source. Add some paraphrases and/or quotes to give support to your comments
5.add citations for paraphrases and quotes
6. this is still the notes/draft step so at this point, rewrite and organize into proper paragraphs
7. proofread

Maybe that will help if he knows he can use sources but just needs to learn how to use them effectively and not plagiarize. More times than we realize, students are anxious because they feel pressured to write when they really can't for whatever reason (could be writer's block or just not in the mood.)