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05 December 2010 @ 08:50 am
warning: I am still in reflective mode. This, too, shall pass...  
A couple of phrases have been rocketing around in my sleep-deprived brain for a few days. The first one came courtesy of our own Libba Bray who posted a moving blog on World Aids Day. My take away was a phrase about closeting and while it began with Libba, it has morphed into something more.

We all have some portions of our lives that are closeted, I think. As I am trying to erase the hard drive in an old computer before I turn it back to the university (removing all of my personal info since I am not so sure I trust that someone who is an hourly employee might take the care I will to eradicate the data thoroughly), the word "partition" appears in directions. I can elect to save partitions and eliminate others. Back to that closet thing, now. I do have some partitions, some things I keep hidden. Mostly, I do so because I am afraid that revealing some of it will hurt others inadvertently (and for my friends reading this, they will call me out if this is a rationalization, I hope). Let me see if I can give an example.

I dedicated my second book (NAKED READING) to my Dad. It was a simple line (To Dad from The Doc, an affectionate nickname he uses from time to time). My parents divorced before I was 5. It was NOT amicable and I know that I did not always see my father because we were being used. But I did not see him much. I regret that as does he. I love him dearly (and I also loved Larry, my stepdad, too. I think it is possible to love lots of fathers and father figures). So, I thought it would be a nice thing to do. I sent him a copy of the book.

A few days later I received an email from his wife letting me know that I had upset Dad because, while the dedication was lovely, the opening of the book talked about me growing up in a single parent household that did not have much money. The point I was making, BTW, was that my Mom took me to the library regularly as a kid, a fond memory I still have, to make sure I always had books to read. The email indicated that I had instead indicted Dad somehow. I cannot tell you how much I cried that day. I never did respond to the email and I have never mentioned it again to either Dad or his wife.

It's my life and I should be permitted to explore those scary dark closets that are still partitioned. I do that, but I do not post about them for the most part. Some of my family members read my blog, and I would never want to hurt one of them. So, I will keep some of the partitions, I guess, for now. I do write about them in the journal sporadically. I do talk about them with my better half and the resident of the back bedroom as well. But I also worry about those partitions from time to time. Should I erase them or share them or just keep reflecting?

And now, as they saw on MONTY PYTHON for something completely different. The other phrase was a gift yesterday from Donalyn Miller, aka THE BOOK WHISPERER. She did a webinar and kept asking what does reading look like "in the wild"? I sent her a text during the webinar telling her I was SO stealing that phrase. Boy, has it been resonating like crazy (and that is the ONLY good thing about this danged insomnia so far). READING IN THE WILD. Think about that. What does it look like when you read? Do you curl up with a book on the couch or in a chair? Do you read online or use the old-fashioned book thing or can you move between the two seamlessly. Do you annotate as you read, make notes, make noises, react with laughter and tears?

So much of the reading in the classroom does not look like READING IN THE WILD, I think, in places where books have been replaced by passages for test prep. Imagine losing all those WILD READERS. Thanks, Donalyn, for sending me such a gift. I will have more to say as I continue to ruminate.

And I promise, posts about books are coming. Finished one this morning and one at the doctor's office Friday. Just had to get these phrases down on "paper."
Current Location: home
Current Mood: tiredtired
LeeAnnHeyLeeAnn on December 5th, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
I recently found a blog in which teachers share pictures of their desks. It was fun to see the working spaces of different people. Wouldn't if be fun to do the same thing with Reading in the Wild--to collect pictures of people Reading in the Wild and save them all somewhere? I think I might try this in my middle school and create a web page or a bulletin board for it! Thanks for the idea!!
Gwenda Bondbondgwendabond on December 5th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
Gorgeous post. Partitions are a really useful way to think about the things we choose to conceal or be free with.
Christina M. HelselChristinaMaria on December 5th, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)
Teri--I've been following you for about a year (since I heard you at the Middle Mosaic at NCTE last year), and as a beginning teacher, have appreciated your book recommendations, thoughts on censorship, and wisdom on building a classroom of passionate readers. But this post is one that I really needed right now, largely because of my own parents are currently going through a nasty divorce and I am trying my best to support both without being manipulated. Like you, I have had to create partitions--both to manage my sanity and relationships. Your writing was an affirmation that I really needed. Thank you once again for your wisdom :)
A View of My Roomjenny_moss on December 5th, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
Lovely post. It made me teary-eyed.

Re "But I also worry about those partitions from time to time. Should I erase them or share them or just keep reflecting?"

I ponder this as well and don't know the answer - or maybe the answer just changes.
RebelLibrarian: *hugs*rebellibrarian on December 5th, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC)
:-) As you well know, I've been pretty damn open with what I write about... and now I'm definitely selective with what I write but I think it's things like that, things that strip off who we are today and remind us of how important our childhood experiences are that are so very important.

It's also important for the facts to not be confused with blame or agreement...

But the world doesn't always see things that way and we do have to live in the world that is... and that means sometimes choosing to hold back on things because it's not "nice" or it could hurt some feelings... but that doesn't make those things less true... and it's not wrong for them to be shared.

If your mother had more money you might not have had your early connection to libraries... but regardless of why your family used the library, you had a connection to libraries and books and the things you learned because of that has helped to make you the person you are... but let's face it, you're also who you are partly because your parents divorced and the world that created for you.

If a parent isn't aware that his/her actions (or inactions) as well as the actions (and incactions) of the other parent will have an impact on the life their children will have, then they're kinda living with their head in the sand...

It's a balance... and in the online world, the things we may share with some people are harder to keep from the people we'd want to "protect" by not saying...

*hugs* no answers here, just lots of understanding & nods of agreement.
sugroenke on December 6th, 2010 03:18 am (UTC)
hey Teri--I read your post and thought of this Sharon Olds poem "I Go Back to May 1937" that I go back to time and time again when I worry about writing about family. I've copied it below.

"I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges,
I see my father strolling out
under the ochre sandstone arch, the
red tiles glinting like bent
plates of blood behind his head, I
see my mother with a few light books at her hip
standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks with the
wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its
sword-tips black in the May air,
they are about to graduate, they are about to get married,
they are kids, they are dumb, all they know is they are
innocent, they would never hurt anybody.
I want to go up to them and say Stop,
don't do it--she's the wrong woman,
he's the wrong man, you are going to do things
you cannot imagine you would ever do,
you are going to do bad things to children,
you are going to suffer in ways you never heard of,
you are going to want to die. I want to go
up to them there in the late May sunlight and say it,
her hungry pretty blank face turning to me,
her pitiful beautiful untouched body,
his arrogant handsome blind face turning to me,
his pitiful beautiful untouched body,
but I don't do it. I want to live. I
take them up like the male and female
paper dolls and bang them together
at the hips like chips of flint as if to
strike sparks from them, I say
Do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it"
— Sharon Olds
professornanaprofessornana on December 6th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you SO much for the poem. Probably should have worn the waterproof mascara today. This was the perfect thing for me to have. I appreciate it more than you can know.