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This old dog.

Stop. Just stop.
Stop. Just stop.

Much ado is being made about age these days. Maybe it’s my own resentment of being a digital pioneer, and constantly being reminded I’m in charge of training children for jobs that don’t exist yet (for Pete’s sake, it’s not like I’m asking them to be farriers or corset-stay carvers!) At the NCCE, included in one lecture’s description was “NOT YOUR PARENTS’ TEXTBOOK!” which, yes, using the “o” word — offended me a tad. And not only am I playing a shoddy offense but defense as well. In this political climate my sons’ generation is constantly maligned: labeled entitled, privileged, whiny, and naive. My friend John Spencer gets it. VSauce has a great video about “Juvonoia,” the idea that younger generations are lame.

So I suppose if those younger than I are a bit miffed and allow for casual ageism to creep into the conversations, I must try not to cast my own disapproving glare.


But ageism is actually quite horrifying. We’re all living longer, and creating a world where each generation gets a little smarter (thank you unleaded gasoline!) and a bit more savvy with all these critical thinking skills we’ve been touting. We’re creating awesome smart monsters humans. And while young folks may think of us as “elders” in their capitulating apologies, it has very real consequences.

Yes, young woman, you are contributing quite a bit. But over-40s are not quite “elders” yet.

So why does this get to me? Perhaps because it has an ‘ism’ at the end. “Ism’s” connote binary decision making: yes or no, black or white, up or down. Ageism is permission to assume someone cannot learn something about anything, but usually, especially technology, because they are old. Is it as bad as racism? I can’t make that claim. Its consequences may mean someone doesn’t get hired, so while we elders are trying to pay for our millennials’ college, we also can’t save for retirement. This article feels like a biography. Ageism decreases opportunity and allows for mocking on good days, and discrimination on bad. There’s that binary thinking again.

That moment when you realize someday you too, will be old as....never mind.
That moment when you realize someday you too, will be old as….never mind.

So, tiny examples: if I see something cool, guess what I do? I try to figure out how it was done. One of my little goals right now is to create gif doodles. Believe it or not, I can’t find any good tutorials, and this is making me feel a bit doddy. But they’re so cool! Not as cool as the Silicon Valley holographic mustache, but still…

Is there something you’d like to learn how to do? Can anyone help me with this? I’ve fallen in a gif and can’t get up!


PS I know how to use Snapchat. I just choose not to. My students laugh at me because my husband is my only friend. /sigh You’ll understand when you’re older.

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Status Update.



When I think of it, if I turn on podcasts for my commute I’m usually a happier person than if I listen to the news. This requires a mindful moment when I plug in the Bluetooth and hit the podcasts. It takes about two extra minutes before I peel out of the parking lot. I think I’ll remember to do this more because the other day I horrified myself when I witnessed my disembodied hand subconsciously reaching to turn the volume up to listen to a well-known, polarizing, and certain orange-tinted demagogue.

At least I caught myself just in time.
 Yup, need to take a break from the news.
In such a listening mode, a This American Life episode #573: Status Update caught my attention. Lately, I’ve been thinking about friends and their lives now: some friends I’ve known since I was four years old, and many others since I was 13. These are women who have experienced many big, and little events in life. There is no small sense of melancholy when I confess that when I see pictures in social media of how they still connect (many live in other states) it reminds me of what I don’t have, or missed out on, in my own life. It’s not so much jealousy or envy: those connote a “me too and not them” idea.
It’s just: this time in life I’m coming to terms with where things have landed.
One of the markers in the new-ish evaluation system is an indication of ‘student status.’
Here is one thing that’s not mentioned, but has an impact: students are constantly comparing themselves to one another, and are on the look-out for others’ status in terms of diminishing their own. Even a few weeks ago a student said something to the effect, “Oh {blank} is your favorite and you will do what {blank} thinks is a good idea.” There was some truth to that: “Blank” is incredibly precocious and creative. It’s difficult not to respond to his ideas and momentum. We all look at those with that “it” factor and unfairly compare ourselves.
So how do we elevate the status of each? Not so much a special snowflake disparage, but in terms of how do we recognize that our paths are our own?
One thing that’s disappointed me this year is how many students simply will not share their knowledge or questions. I know there’s lots of tricks and tips to get them to create accountable talk — a term that makes me bristle (and I’m not sure why)–perhaps because it sounds so bean-counter-ish. Perhaps it’s time to have students determine and reflect on their own status and check their personal biases.
Any suggestions or media that would suit this purpose? I’d love to hear from you.




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“The character of me.”

From the episode, Contents Unknown, the last act relates the story of a man who, because he got a horrible illness and some bad medicine, he lost his memory.


Act Three. The Answer To The Riddle Is Me.

On October 13, 2002, David MacLean woke up in India with no memory of who he was or how he got there. He had no choice but to let the people who recognized him—and even strangers—fill in his identity. David co-directs the Poison Pen Reading Series in Houston. He is working on a book about the experience of losing his memory. (20 minutes) 

We are all writing the story of our lives as we live it. We edit memories, revise the past, crop and dodge those areas that are too stark and painful. I look in the mirror now and through my mind’s eyes expect someone different – but there I am. Now.

The holidays are past for this season. Ground-hog’s Day doesn’t count, but oh, is its timing perfect. Collectively, seasonally, we must feel this repeatable urge for diminished shadows and spring…spring…spring…something to jump out, be brave, and stay.

And with groundhogs, and their repeatable patterns, I have this question popping up and finding its shadow:

My current creative burning question is: How do writers write? How do they create narratives that are not them? This omniscient, omnipotent ego must be essential for writers to bravely spring characters and narratives that are independent and separate: break them free from their own internal dialogue, narratives, relationships, etc. Is this what actors and actress do when they are in character? Is this why they sometimes (!) have trouble maintaining personal relationships, or do they feel they always have to be “on?”

It is this: writing independently of one’s own ego takes maturity and responsibility. And more importantly: No Apologies.

Adolescent students are often shocked at the epiphany that most writers are NOT their characters in disguise; this is probably due to the fact that students are in the flux of creating their personas, and  cannot imagine that a writer would not BE the character(s) they are creating.

This is not to say that writers don’t genuinly love the characters they create. They have a relationship with them, and explore this third life. If you ever doubt that there are other dimensions and vortexes out there, spend some time developing a character whose life story is far different from your own experiences. You will fall down a groundhog hole.