I am a woman. But, what does that mean? What does it even mean to be a woman? I’ve attempted to come up with a nice, concise definition, and yet I have been unable to. This must certainly be because the meaning of my womanhood has constantly changed throughout my forty-two years. Like the beautiful colors reflected in a kaleidoscope, the meaning has changed in a succession of patterns. But for the past sixteen years, one consistent pattern that has remained behind all the other changing patterns is motherhood. Motherhood has been the only positive meaning I have been able to derive from being a woman.

Twist of the kaleidoscope. It was never my plan to become a mother. Not originally. And had I more confidence and less insecurity in my abilities, I might not have become a mother. I once had dreams and ambitions. I thought of becoming a journalist and becoming involved in political activism. Think Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor.” That was the anthem. Burning down every Hooters and taking over the world. I was going to do things. At least that is what my Government professor said as he handed back my graded term paper. He paused, looked me in the eyes and said, “You are going to do things.” Me! Lilly. I was going to do things. I cradled those words close, so very close. But it seemed to me in every endeavor I attempted there was always a man who seemed to do it better than me. Whatever the endeavor was he could do it better. Inevitably the words that meant so much became too heavy to carry and so I laid them down. I laid them down and got married. And then I found the one thing I could be better at than any man. Motherhood. Ha! Not only could a man not do it better, he could not do it at all.

Twist of the kaleidoscope. I loved being pregnant. Feeling my body change and knowing men would not look at me in a sexual way was beyond liberating. I’ve never felt safer than when I was pregnant. I went from a thing to be sexualized to a thing of great importance. I was carrying life! I was carrying a part of the future of our world! I was significant! I was special! And I was doing something no man could ever do. Then I had the baby. Oh, how fast I fell.

Twist of the kaleidoscope. In a few short hours, I went from a glowing, life-carrying woman of importance to an obese, invisible, human buffet with stretched out skin. As I sat on the edge of the hospital bed, two pumps working on two engorged breasts, I imagined this was what it must feel like to be a cow. I was nothing more than a milk factory and I was all but forgotten by my husband and his family as they cooed over my son.

Twist of the kaleidoscope. As the weeks went by, I could feel my dreams slipping away. Not only were my dreams slipping away, but I could feel them morphing into my husband’s and my son’s, whatever they would end up being. I could feel myself being absorbed by the family, being submerged. Then one morning as I dressed my little son in his onesie, I was filled with such intense resentment. I resented my husband for continuing on with his life with an amazing addition but no personal subtraction. I also resented my son, a complete stranger, for demanding so much of me. In fact, all of me. I jerked his arm, feeling the resentment teeter on the verge of hatred, and then I stopped. I was not fully submerged at that point. My nose was still above the tip of the water as I kicked frantically. But I realized, in order to keep the resentment from turning into hatred, I had to allow myself to sink. So, I took a deep breath and allowed myself to sink…into the family.

I held that breath for ten years. I gave it my all to attain domestic perfection. That was the new dream. Much like the contestants in the Mrs. America Contest circa 1955, I cooked, cleaned, laundered clothes, played with the children, taught the children, cared for the children, made sure to exercise so as not to embarrass my husband, entertained his friends, and kept the light on for my husband when he stayed out all night. But like the contestants in the Mrs. America Contest, I found myself walking in a never-ending circle, around and around on display. Only it was the image that was on display which had very little to do with me, the real me, the me that was submerged at the bottom of the water. Yes, I held my breath for ten long years until I finally realized I was drowning. Then I divorced.

Twist of the kaleidoscope. I haven’t been a wife for nearly eight years, and for that I am grateful. I’m still filled with sadness. After all, I failed. I didn’t get the crown, the $15,000 prize, or the title of Mrs. America. The consolation is that I no longer have to walk in a never-ending circle of fake smiles and pleasantries. And though I am no longer a wife, I will always be a mother. I still struggle to find meaning in my own personal identity, in what exactly it means to be a woman. It is such a complex and complicated thing filled with contradictions that can leave one dizzy if they ponder it for too long. And so, as the array of patterns keep changing in this kaleidoscope, as I struggle to make my way out of the water and onto the shore, I will continue to keep my eye on that one pattern that has given my life as a woman a consistent meaning. Motherhood.

There’s a picture of Jesus in my junk drawer.

It’s actually Nanny’s picture of Jesus but Nanny’s been dead for fifteen years now. I inherited it along with her red pocket thesaurus and blue poodle made of pipe cleaners that stood in her china cabinet throughout the entirety of my childhood.

It’s a white Jesus, an angelic Jesus, a Jesus that could be on the cover of GQ magazine. His hair is golden, long and flowing against a soft brown backdrop. It could have been taken in a Sears Department Store. Only Sears is dead now, just like Nanny.

I can’t help but think there’s a possibility I’m going to burn in hell as I stare down at Nanny’s picture of Jesus sticking half way out from under the BJ’s coupon book and an old bill from Walmart.

Then I think how cool it would be if there were collector’s cards, kind of like baseball cards, of all the major players in history. Jesus and Paul. Marx and Nietzsche. Gandhi and Joan. Would they be worth as much as Babe Ruth?

I can’t really say. I don’t really know.

What I do know is that I need to clean out this junk drawer. Only there’s a picture of Jesus in my junk drawer. I can’t throw it out. If I did then the possibility that I might burn in hell would surely turn into the probability that I will burn in hell.

And even though I don’t believe in hell, the thought still keeps me from throwing away the picture of Jesus in my junk drawer.

Why literary theory? Flannery O’Connor sums it up best in her short story, A Good Man is Hard to Find, when she writes, “It’s some that can live their whole life out without asking about it and it’s others has to know why it is, and this boy is one of the latter’s” (42). The world is so vast and contains all of the different, complicated people living in it, with a variety of experiences that define mankind’s very nature. “In order to understand some things clearly we must restrict our focus in a way that highlights certain elements and ignore others…to remind ourselves that multiple viewpoints are important if we are to see the whole picture” (Tyson, 3). Literary theory helps man to dig deeper in order to discover what might not have been discoverable before. A suburban grandmother who has known nothing but watermelon and Sunday Church service might not be able to comprehend a murderer who’s only known strife and pain. But literary theory is a tool, a bridge that spans the distance between strangers with different perspectives and life experience. In order to know ourselves, we must know others. Literary theory makes that possible. In this paper, the Deconstructionist theory and Marxist theory will be utilized in order to dig deeper, to better able understand the text so that perhaps, we can better understand ourselves.

There are multiple ways to experience life as there are multiple ways to experience literature. We each, individually, experience both in our own unique way, with our own ideologies guiding us, and looking through the lenses of our own subjectivity. This is deconstruction; it does not take the meaning away but multiplies it. Lois Tyson so aptly observes, “Change the lens and you change both the view and the viewer. This principal is what makes knowledge at once so frightening and so liberating, so painful and so utterly, utterly joyful” (9). So it is with Flannery O’Connor’s short story, A Good Man is Hard to Find. As O’Connor herself once noted, “There are perhaps other ways than my own in which [“A Good Man Is Hard to Find”] could be read, but none other by which it could have been written.” While the author wrote the story, guided by her own subjectivity and looking through her own lens, she acknowledges that her readers may, and some most definitely will, read it through a different lens. In this paper three tenets of deconstruction will be used to analyze A Good Man is Hard to Find: Derrida’s idea of impossible aporias or internal contradictions, undecidability and the way in which that erodes any sense of concrete binaries, namely good versus evil, and the concept of tout autre or responsibility to the other.

What is a good man? The question is first posed when the family makes a stop during their road trip to Florida at Red Sammy’s, an old dance hall/barbeque shack. Red Sammy bemoans the fact that you just can’t trust people anymore while wiping his forehead on a grey handkerchief. The color grey comes when you mix white and black. These are two binaries with underlying binaries, good and bad. Symbolically speaking the handkerchief represents the mixture of good and bad and how the two are becoming hard to differentiate between. According to deconstruction theory, there is no one good or bad. The binaries do not take their meaning from each other only, but from other traces left behind by other binaries, likened to a long chain and resulting in a chain reaction.

Red Sammy then proceeds to recount a story about two men who stopped to get gas. They seemed like good enough men to Red Sammy and so he let them charge the gas with the expectation that they would return and pay him. This is one example of undecidability in the form of decisions that can be found throughout the story. From a deconstructionist view, every decision is the equivalent of taking a leap of faith because there is no certainty to how the decision will unfold (IEP). For Red Sammy, he made the decision to let the men charge the gas with the faith that they would return to pay for it.

According to Derrida, the idea of hospitality is one such impossible aporia. “His point is relatively simple here; to be hospitable, it is first necessary that one must have the power to host. Hospitality hence makes claims to property ownership and it also partakes in the desire to establish a form of self-identity. Secondly, there is the further point that in order to be hospitable, the host must also have some kind of control over the people who are being hosted. This is because if the guests take over a house through force, then the host is no longer being hospitable towards them precisely because they are no longer in control of the situation” (IEP).

Initially, Red Sammy has the power to host because he is the owner of the gas station. While Red Sammy does have the power to let the men charge the gas, he lacks control over them which is determined when the men do not return to pay for the gas they charged. When the men do not return, Red Sammy’s act of hospitality no longer has a fixed meaning and can in fact be seen as something other than hospitality. “Often to show how those meanings cannot settle into a stable structure, we would seek out internal contradictions or internal differences that frustrate any interpretations of the text as holding a single, stable meaning” (Parker, 93).

They never returned and Red Sammy despairingly asks, “Now why did I do a thing like that?” The grandmother replies emphatically it is because Red Sammy is a good man. Red Sammy says that things are getting terrible and a good man is hard to find. The grandmother had just pronounced Red Sammy a good man because of the kindness or “hospitality” he showed the two men by letting them charge the gas. But Red Sammy is still pronouncing that a good man is hard to find. So what exactly is a good man?

It is interesting to note that the conversation between Red Sammy specifically and the idea of good and bad more generally is a reference to the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan. In the parable a Jewish man is beaten, stripped of clothing, and left in a ditch to die. A priest comes by but crosses the road to bypass him. Then a Levite passes by without helping. The Samaritan, who is the despised enemy of the Jews, comes by and takes him to an inn where he pays for the beaten Jew to be cared for (NIV, Luke 10:29-37). This act of mercy and grace by the perceived enemy is the contradiction that will resurface throughout the story.

The next passage where the idea of “good” is explored is when the family careens off the road into a gulch. The Misfit, who is an escaped and dangerous murderer, comes upon the stranded family with his gang in tow. Upon realizing that the man she is seeing is indeed the Misfit, the grandmother pronounces emphatically that he is a good man. One is left to wonder, if the “hospitality” and kindness Red Sammy showed the men was what determined him to be a good man in the opinion of the grandmother, how she could possibly see goodness in the violence and murder the Misfit takes part in, is but another contradiction. Kindness and evil cannot both denote goodness. Or can it?

The signifier “good” has somehow shifted in its meaning for the grandmother. As Jack Reynolds states, “the meaning of the term changes depending upon the particular context in which it is being employed” (IEP). One explanation of the grandmother’s aporia is explained by Lois Tyson, “Every signifier consists of and produces more signifiers in a never-ending deferral, or postponement, of meaning” (239). The grandmother is relying on other traces of signifiers denoting good such as ethnicity perhaps. In her desperation in the current situation, to rely on the meaning of the signifier “good” as relating strictly to the kindness displayed by Red Sammy would leave her no hope in her current situation that the Misfit might also be good. Therefore she seeks out other meanings of the signifier “good” which she can rely on to convince herself and the Misfit that he is a good man and as such would never shoot her.

In the final scene of the story, we see the grandmother’s tout autre, or responsibility to the other occur. Her entire family has been shot to death one by one and she is now left alone, facing the man responsible for their murders. As the Misfit kneels in front of the grandmother, his face close to hers, she gains a moment of clarity and says, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children.” She then makes a decision without knowing the results of that decision but for once, not even caring to calculate the results. For one moment in her life, the grandmother demonstrates what is so incredibly hard to do in this world. She reaches out to touch the Misfit and by doing that offers him unconditional forgiveness. Forgiveness, according to Derrida is one of those aporias because the notion of absolute forgiveness “…requires a radically singular confrontation between self and other” (IEP). The grandmother, who has acted irresponsibly throughout the story in regards to her manipulation, is finally accepting the responsibility. “For Derrida, the paradox of responsible behaviour means that there is always a question of being responsible before a singular other (eg. A loved one, God, etc.), and yet we are also always referred to our responsibility towards others generally and to what we share with them (IEP). The grandmother, in reaching out, has found the common bond between herself and the other (the Misfit) and in doing so has revealed that to him. In claiming their oneness in her last words and in reaching out in a moment of grace, the grandmother has become the Good Samaritan.

The Misfit shoots the grandmother dead, and as he looks down on her he says, “She would of been a good woman…had it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” And so the final aporia of the story is that perhaps goodness does spring from many different meanings and that it was only through evil that the grandmother was able to become a good woman.

To further understand the text and the multiple meanings it conveys, a Marxist theory will be employed. Written in the Deep South in 1953 and on the eve of desegregation, the socio-economic system is laid bare for all to read. But it’s important to understand, as Lois Tyson states,  “the socio-economic system in which we lives does much more than determine who has the most power. It also determines among other things, how we are educated, and it influences our religious beliefs, which together control to a great degree how we perceive ourselves and our world” (112). Examining the characters, of A Good Man is Hard to Find, allows a clear view into Marxist Theory and as a result into the very nature of ourselves.

As the story begins, the reader is instantly given the image of a middle class All-American family, one that could be said to be living the All American Dream. Contrasted with that image is one of an escaped convict called The Misfit. While it is certainly true people of low socio-economic status are not the only ones to commit crimes worthy of prison, in general status does play a part. Though the family has not crossed paths with The Misfit, the contrast between the two classes are evident. The feeling of superiority, which Marxists argue Capitalism breeds, is seen in John Wesley’s comments, as the family heads off on their road trip, about Tennessee being a “hillbilly dumping ground”.

To further illustrate how disconnected the idea of the All American Dream in the grandmother’s mind is from reality, as they pass a poor Negro child without shoes or pants, the grandmother smiles fondly and says that if she could paint a picture, she would paint that. While the idea of the All American Dream would seem to be noble in that it suggest that America is the land of opportunity for those who work hard enough and long enough, Marxists would hold that idea to be false and misleading because, “a vast number of people have not had and do not have equal opportunity in education, employment, or housing due to such facts as, for example, their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status” (Tyson, 115).

Competition is a major theme of the capitalist society. While the idea is that competition will naturally bring the best and the brightest to the top, creating a strong society, Marxists point out that more often than not, “unrestrained competition is oppressive because it tends to ensure that the most selfish, unethical people will rise to the top as they’re the ones willing to do whatever it takes to win” (Tyson, 115). The unhealthy competition is played out between John Wesley and June Star.  “When there was nothing else to do they played a game by choosing a cloud and making the other two guess what shape it suggested. John Wesley took one the shape of a cow and June Star guessed a cow and John Wesley said, no, an automobile, and June Star said he didn’t play fair, and they began to slap each other over the grandmother.” John Wesley is willing to lie to win, illustrating the selfish and unethical qualities the capitalist society is creating in him.

Commodification is one of the saddest aspects of a capitalist society. “Because capitalism defines everything in terms of its monetary worth, it encourages commodification” (Tyson, 114).  The final seen in which The Misfit murders the family is a perfect illustration of commodification and how inhumane it is. The family is worth no more than a car, Bailey’s yellow shirt, and whatever bit of money he had in his wallet. The Misfit also represents the idea of the rugged individualist. The positive capitalist spin on this is a person who is a loner, taking initiative and seeking out his fortune regardless of the obstacles. Marxists have a different view. As Lois Tyson notes, “the rugged individualist has been romanticized by American folklore, while, in reality, rugged individualism generally requires putting self-interest above the needs of the community and the commitment to the belief that ‘nice guys finish last’” (115). It is obvious that The Misfit, while mannerly, is not a nice guy regardless of the fact that the grandmother insists he’s a good man. And in fact, the grandmother at one point attempts to sell the Misfit the idea of the American Dream, “Think how wonderful it would be to settle down and live a comfortable life” (O’Connor) but the Misfit isn’t buying what she has to sell.

In the end, all of the negative aspects of the great capitalist society emerge to bring about the tragic end to a family. The real tragedy, however, is that the negative aspects did not just emerge in The Misfit, but in the family members as well. The moral, according to a Marxist Theory, is that there is no “good” guy in the end or a good man is hard to find in a capitalist society.

These are just two ways of many that the story can be looked at, and with each new theory employed comes a new and deeper understanding of not only the text, but of humanity itself. Understanding literature through different views offers the reader the possibility to explore the unknown, and what might have seen unfamiliar at the outset will be perhaps a reflection of their inner self they had not known was there. As Lois Tyson so eloquently explains, “For knowledge isn’t something we acquire; it’s something we are or something we hope to be. Knowledge is what constitutes our relationship to ourselves and our world, for it is the lens through which we view ourselves and our world. Change the lens and you change both the view and the viewer. This principal is what makes knowledge at once so frightening and so liberating, so painful and so utterly, utterly joyful” (9).


Works Cited

Parker, Robert. How to Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies. New York: Oxford, 2015. Print.

Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User Friendly Guide. New York:   Routledge, 2015. Print.

Reynolds, Jack. “Jacques Derrida (1930—2004).” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: A Peer-Reviewed Academic Resource, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2016.

Flannery O’Connor, “On Her Own Work,” in her Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, edited by Sally Fitzgerald and Robert Fitzgerald, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969, pp. 107-18.







In Benjamin Percy’s short story, “Refresh, Refresh”, Percy powerfully captures the urgency of a young, fatherless boy searching for his father in the following, “[O]n this bike I could ride and ride and ride, away from here, up and over the Cascades, through the Willamette Valley, until I reached the ocean, where the broad  black backs of whales regularly broke the surface of the water, and even further – farther still – until I caught up with the horizon, where my father would be waiting” (627). His use of alliteration is certainly literary as is the vivid image he creates. The longing is palpable.

Percy’s ability to paint a picture continues throughout the story, “[S]unlight fell through tall pines and birch clusters and lay in puddles along the logging roads that wound past the hillsides packed with huckleberries and on the moraines where coyotes scurried, trying to flee from us and slipping, and causing tiny avalanches of loose rock” (631). The forest becomes a giant whisper. Beautiful. As far as literary fiction goes, I think Percy fits the bill quite well.

However, his use of vulgarity and bad language reeks of genre fiction (Stephen King comes to mind). “To eat my ass with” (631) along with “I say we fuck with them a little” (632), “That cocksucker” (632), and the reference to “Jessica Robert’s big-ass titties”(633) are just some examples that could definitely belong in a super market paper back.

But as Grossman points out, if genre fiction is identified by an escapism aspect, then Benjamin Percy does not fit the bill for genre fiction. His short story is far from an escape and I think Grossman nailed it when he said, “When you read genre fiction, you leave behind the problems of reality — but only to re-encounter those problems in transfigured form, in an unfamiliar guise, one that helps you understand them more completely, and feel them more deeply.” Percy allows the reader to re-encounter those problems like war, being fatherless, the confusion in growing up, the violence we encounter every day, whether it’s a school yard bully or the six-o’clock news. He allows the reader to feel the loneliness of a neglected wife, and recognize the vultures that are waiting around every corner to take advantage in the character of Dave Lightener. But most of all he leaves the reader feeling apathetic towards Gordon and the narrator as the reader watches their innocence erode away enough until they go off to join the Marines.

From their dreaming of their fathers rescuing little Iraqi babies to joking about “killing some crazy-ass Muslims” (631), to the moment Gordon holds his finger on the trigger as he points at Seth, to the moment he leaves Seth’s tent with “a horrible smile on his face”(634), to the moment the narrator is edging Dave closer to the edge of death, Percy allows the horror to remain just beneath the surface. The story is not uneven but unsettled.  And that is what good literary fiction does, leaves the reader unsettled and contemplative.

Works Cited

Percy, Benjamin. “Refresh, Refresh.” Ed. Lorrie Moore. 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories. NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2015. Print.

Grossman, Lev. “Literary Revolution in the Supermarket Aisle: Genre Fiction Is Disruptive Technology.” Time. 2012. Web. 14 Feb. 2016








John McWhorter gives an interesting and engaging Ted Talk about texting and how many bemoan the way in which texting is dumbing us down. Well, not me. I don’t text.

Although, now that I am following those butterflies (my super cute phrase for dating), I have started texting. However, I am a one-fingered texter due to the fact that finances only permit me to have a cheap, disposable phone. And because I still can’t bring myself to embrace the texting culture and its language, I spell every last word out and use correct punctuation.

Now, I’m sure you can imagine how long that takes. And if you can’t? Well, let’s just say I could crank out a well-crafted essay in the time it would take me to text, “Good morning! How was your night? I just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you and can’t wait to see you again.” To be honest, I would like to loosen up in regards to texting, because it would be great to communicate at a rate other than a snail’s pace. 

True story…

Anyhow, John McWhorter makes some excellent points in regards to texting not being the downfall of Western Society.

  1. Texting is meant to communicate how we talk, not how we write. In reality, “we don’t always (even usually) speak in complete, prescriptively grammatical sentences” (Curzan 458). Texting is an informal method of communication used to convey relaxed or casual speech.
  2. Criticism and disdain for the incompetence of youth and their use of language can be traced back thousands of years. We’re not the first.
  3. It’s actually beneficial to be able to use text language as it shows adaptability and versatility.

No, we’re not the first to believe language is being brutally murdered by incompetent youth.  The fact is, language is not being butchered, it is simply changing. The reason I believe this is because time is not stagnant. It is fluid and so is language. Language has to change because times change. And the youth are not incompetent. They’re creating something new, something that works for the times we live in now, not twenty years ago.

With that in mind, processes which shorten words (clipping, alphabetism, acronymy, and backformation) thus allowing for more efficient communication will continue to be utilized.

In contemplation, ofc @TEOTD yolo. It’s all about perspective. We look at life through our own individual lenses but sometimes forget every so often we need to change them.

Adams, Michael, and Anne Curzan. How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction. Pearson, 2012.

I have an aversion to profanity. I do. My fifteen-year-old son would have me subscribe to the attitude that a word is just a word. I will not. I must draw the line somewhere, and profanity is that line.

Imagine my shock when, after being a stay-at-home mom for nearly fifteen years, I walked back into a high school and heard profanity filling the halls, cafeteria, and even my classroom. Shock! Gasp! Horror! Had I been “gone” that long? When I was in school, a kid would not dare curse anywhere near a teacher. Have things changed so much in twenty-five years?

But I suppose it’s not too surprising when profanity has saturated nearly everything, even academic books. In chapter four of How English Works, I was disappointed to find the author chose to use profanity as one example of an expletive infix. Upon further contemplation, I could think of very little expletive infixes that did not use profane words as the inserted word. Luckily, I found a website that reintroduced me to other examples I had forgotten.

Meet Ned Flanders.


He inserts “diddly” into many of his words making them playful in the process. Which is more playful, fantastic or fandiddlytastic? I know which one is more fun to say. Fandiddlytastic! Unlike prefixes, which inserts an affix at the beginning or end of a base word and changes the meaning of the word, infixes are placed within the word and do not change the meaning. They simply add emphasis.

What is interesting is that, “despite their use in slang rather than standard language, linguists have found that these infixes follow systematic phonological rules in the way they may be placed and these rules tell us a lot about prosodic structure and the internal linguistic knowledge of speakers of the language” (Luu). The inserted word, such as “bloody” (absobloodylutely), “ma” (edumacation), along with Ned’s “diddly” are naturally inserted before the stressed syllable of a word.

It is an intuitive thing that English speakers do without giving it much thought and illustrates that even with non-standard English, there are still natural rules that we all are compelled to follow.

Adams, Michael, and Anne Curzan. How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction, 3rd Edition. Pearson, 2012.

Luu, Chi. “Fanf–kingtastic and Edumacational: The Case of English Infixation.” JSTOR Daily: Where News Meets Its Scholarly Match. daily.jstor.org/fanfuckingtastic-and-edumacational-the-case-of-english-infixation/.

I decided eight weeks ago that I would pursue an MA in English for three different reasons. The first is that I am a single mother, and during the weekends when my children are away, I find myself under the covers “binge-racing” series after series. I decided I needed forced structure in the form of discussion boards and due dates.
The second point is that I love literature, I love language, and I love learning. Learning how to fix a sentence that is not translating smoothly is necessary to write well and to teach well. And it’s simply fun!
The third reason is that I will be seeking an English teaching job, preferably with all Honors and AP classes filled with motivated students who want to work. That is if I can ever pass the ultra-relevant-to-teaching-English-at-the-secondary-level math praxis. I figured if by chance the math praxis turns out to be my Moby Dick, I can always teach at the college level. I hear the pay is fantastic!
So in thinking about words, what even makes a word real? An art appreciation professor posed this same question to me years ago. What makes art real? And who is to judge? Is a crumpled piece of paper art if a person claims it to be? Or anything by Jackson Pollock for that matter? Or what about Marcel Duchamp? Is his urinal art when compared to Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith painting?
My initial response was no! But in considering the question, one has to go beyond their tastes and preferences and consider other factors. Cultural context matters. Social factors matter. Just as Gentileschi was influenced by the demands of the religious climate, so Duchamp and the Dadaists were affected by the first global war and the culture that allowed such a travesty to occur. Just as art changes with the times, so does language.

So again, what makes a word real? People make a word real, just as people make art, music, or poetry real. People create words, and people give those words meaning. As Anne Curzan mentions in her Ted Talk, language is a living thing. It changes as we change. Whether or not we want to accept it matters not.

I detest lol, but if I remember that it is shorthand used in informal situations such as texting or on social media, then I am more inclined to acknowledge it. I still don’t like it, but I can accept it. My new favorite word, although my twelve-year-old told me it’s out of fashion now, is “derpy.” Derpy means stupid. It’s a little less harsh than the word stupid which is why I like it. And if I’m honest, it’s a fun word to say.
What are some of your favorite “real” words?

“Make it new!”

That was the rallying cry of Ezra Pound harkened to by young artists of the early twentieth century. This period would later be coined “modern” due to the rapid advancement in industry, technology, science, and women’s liberation among other things. Western civilization was pulsating with electricity. Read More


Window pane.

Window glass.

Window to the outside for my child’s eyes belonging to my little child’s body whose bottom is firmly planted on the hard, metal chair. Forever planted among lectures on the ABC’s of languid language that has been far surpassed by my fresh imagination feeding off The Dark Crystal, The Never Ending Story, the wild pursuits of a mouse in a plane soaring far above the ground, a mouse in the clouds, and a boxcar filled with children and chipped china.

Firmly planted on the hard, metal chair among posters reading, Today is a Good Day to Learn Something New, and I Can Wait My Turn, and Classroom Rules.

Firmly planted among the old and tired equations of 2+2=4, but oh what a world if 2+2= a secret door to a secret world contained in the chalkboard and all that was needed was a piece of chalk to unlock it.

Oh Aslan! Oh Aslan! I hear you roar!

Oh what a world when all that is standing between me and my firmly planted and ever increasingly numb bottom is the teacher clasping the key in her hand.

Rise up young soul! Conquer the beast! A tiny but brave voice shouts from out of the depths between spelling bees and geography where See My Horse Eat Oats is code for Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario hurrah!!

But the hand on the clock is ticking the seconds away, ticking the seconds away to the outside, the sunshine, the air and the birds. To kickball and tag and childish pursuits.

The bell rings, feet shuffle, the window is closing.

Tomorrow then.




A purple beast came from the East

and didn’t care a bit

for what he found all around

the West seemed quite unfit

to lead the world with morals furled

its hilltop light unlit

so the beast did pray and went on his way

in search of the Spirit.