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AKA Grand Emperor of the Universe

I adopted this moniker from my puppy, Abigail, when she went off to the “Happy Hunting Ground”. In high school, my bestest friend Jill declared that Abby was the Grand Emperor of the Universe. (Yes, I tried to explain that it should have been empreESS, but she didn’t care!) When Abby departed, I feared the universe would descend into chaos without a new leader, so I have succeeded my dog to the position of Grand Emperor of the Universe. Or something like that. Hey, we all need some sort of fantasy life, right?

Who Am I?
I ask myself this question on a regular basis and haven't come up with a concise answer that satisfies me. I am a self-described freak who has dedicated my life to kids and teaching. Friends keep suggesting that I build a separate personal page, now that I have gotten the hang of this html stuff, but I am afraid I wouldn't have enough to put there that is completely separate from my teaching. I am way young, still starting out in the world of teaching. As a single and somewhat single-minded person, I haven't gotten over the initial shock of the all-consuming nature of teaching. This is not to say, of course, that I do not have a personal life. I do. It just doesn't sound very exciting on paper--or the screen.

Oh, I have a number of interests.
  • Writing This is always the passion in my life which springs to mind immediately after teaching. I have been a writer all my life. I used to be a bit of a poet. I wrote and self-published my own books of poetry from my freshman year of high school through my sophmore year in college. That was a lot of fun. I had something of a following in high school. I would do poetry readings all the time and lots of friends and sometimes people I didn't really even know would show up. It was an extremely cool experince. Those experiences are in large part responsible for the person I am today. See, I thought I was a loser when I entered high school. Writing was my ticket to self-confidence and self-esteem. It was the reason I decided to attend the University of Iowa, with its world famous "Writer's Workshop".

    Of course, somewhere along the lines I decided I sucked at poetry, so I gave that up pretty completely. I wandered around the writing planet for a while in search of a genre. I wrote the better part of a novel while I was substitute teaching after college, but I decided that sucked, too. Actually, what I decided was that writing fiction just felt wrong to me. I didn't like it at all. The novel was based on my second year in college, the year my mom died. I realized I wanted to tell the story as it really was, using elegant prose to tell a compelling true story. Eventually my dearest friend Kris turned me on to the idea of creative nonfiction. Creative nonfiction is essentially using the devices of fiction to tell true stories. It is way cool. I think I have found my genre. Now I just gotta do some writing in that there genre. If I write anything cool, maybe I will post it. I am attending a creative nonfiction workshop at Iowa this summer, though, so maybe I will come up with something. Despite my desire to write cool nonfiction, I am also a journalling junkie. I am a compulsive journal writer. I have done a really good job of documenting my life. Might be interesting to read someday. If I should die, check with my friend Kris, as the publishing rights will be passed on to her.

  • Reading I know, big surprise coming from an English teacher. I was always an avid reader as a kid, so it is no surprise that I became an English teacher. I don't get to read nearly as much as I would like during the year, so I try to catch up over the summer.

    My favorite living American author is Kurt Vonnegut, hands down. I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Mr. Vonnegut last year and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I felt deeply enriched. I very highly recommend reading some Vonnegut if you haven't, or haven't for a while. He is definitely worth some rereading if it has been a while.

    A Top 10 List I feel I must. I do not have the energy to rank them in any order, though.
    Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexander Solhenitsyn
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (I'm in love with Atticus and looking for his living embodiment to marry.)
    War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (yes, 1500 pages and a bit thick, but worth the read!)
    Beloved by Toni Morrison
    The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
    Breakfast of Champions By Kurt Vonnegut
    Living Up the Street by Gary Soto
    The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard (Rocked my world--made creative nonfiction a reality for me)
    Sudden Fiction Eds. Robert Shapiro and James Thomas (no story over 4 pages need apply)

    I graduated from the University of Iowa in 1995 with degrees in English and Secondary education. My degrees were conferred with honors from both the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Education. (Boy did I feel cool!!)

    I intend to start graduate school very soon, as soon as I can convince myself I can handle it along with my teaching and coaching of the speech team

    In the state of Illinois, I am licensed and certified to teach English and Speech grades 6-12, though I cannot see myself teaching below grade 9. (A friend recently said I would be great at teaching middle school. I wasn't sure if that was a compliment or an insult.)

    I guess I will finish later, but here is a picture of me to eyeball until you see me in person!

    Tee Hee

    This is what I look like after two years of teaching. Glance below to see what I looked like before that fateful plunge.

    As you can see, teaching has had a noticable impact on my life.
    If you are inclined to print out this picture and doodle on my face, let me save you the trouble.