Sunday, September 28, 2008

falling into a comma

A couple of months ago I was chatting via keyboard late one night with one of my two favorite red-headed people from Idaho (hint: TOFKAG) and due to a typing slip-up (not uncommon to my inability to speak correctly after approximately 10pm) "coma" became "comma." I was inspired. And two months later I finally turned that slip-up into this:

Falling into a Comma
by Joann Renee

It’s a plight most
frequently found in those
afflicted with the combined
forces of avid reading
and obsessive compulsive
tendencies (I prefer

What happens
you see
the victim idly swishing
a lone tea bag in two
inches of water,
glasses precariously tipped forward,
legs woven intricately,
book cradled knee to hand,
eyes weaving rapidly back
and forth.

Then like a pause
button, our friend
their inner-narrator
has been lulled
to silence by the over-
usage of punctuation:

Does that belong there?
Or should it be after the noun?
No, I think…
Well, perhaps…
Hmm. Tricky…
Maybe if you moved the predicate…

This is why cats are indispensable
for every serious bookworm and scholar.
Were it not for Patches ankle-
rubbing, this comma
could’ve been terminal.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

appetizer for whittaker feast

So I've been seriously lagging on my photo editing, but it's a bit daunting to begin work on 150+ photos from a family day at the Twist lodge in Sandy. In fact, there were three very over worked cameras that day (Beth, with a Canon one step below mine; mine; and the parent's, which is one step up). Beth and I both gasped when we went to load the pictures on our computers at the end of the day to discover 200+ for her and 300+ for me (in my defense, Beth took about 75 on mine and Mama took some more). After deleting the non-essentials, I still ended up with more than 150. What can I say? We are simply a photogenic bunch (or at least snap-happy).

Here are a couple to wet your appetite for the plethora that I will be posting at a later date:

Donny & Kimmie
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Behind me are Heather's knees, Timmy, Andy with Katie (Beth & Matt's second child and my only current niece), Kimmie and Uncle Jeff (my dad's brother)...and the Twist lodge itself
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Helping Jack roast his sausage
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Stay tuned...same bat-time, same bat-channel...
(the header picture on this blog is also from this day, actually)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

for those who asked... Life Map for the MAT program, in the form of an epic poem (don't say I didn't warn's long!)

On the First Day of School
by Joann Renee

On the first day of school, 1988
I proudly donned the dress Mama made
Saddle shoes dancing merrily to education’s door:
Kindergarten was a game I was determined to win.
Within a few months I overheard
Teacher and mother scheming to slow me down
I was too far ahead of my peers
Brightly colored tongue depressors numbering to twelve were deemed the remedy

Don’t slow me down
You can’t stifle this
Joyful nerdiness
Desperate to frolic free

On the first day of school, 1990
I was waiting by the door, hopping foot to foot
The PACE curriculum allowed me to excel
Going through each booklet as quickly as I could
Tongue depressor strategies behind me
“Homework” never actually made it home, being finished
By ending bell, and I was free
To read of Mandy’s adventures till lights out at 8:30

On the first day of school, 1992
I was only slightly trepidatious to be in Daddy’s class
Worried my friends might think I was favored
Or, worse, that my life would be turned into lesson plans
I needn’t have fretted
For the most part, school was
The same as every year prior:
Loving each class and overachieving

Don’t slow me down
You can’t stifle this
Joyful nerdiness
Desperate to frolic free

On the first day of school, 1995
I nervously eyed the junior high classrooms
But three years in Daddy’s class was enough
So I took a deep breath and stepped into seventh grade
The switch had been made completely to A-Beka books
And I mourned the loss of PACE-ing myself
Academic boredom began to set in as “showing your work”
Became the dirge sung to my previously blossoming brain

Don’t slow me down
You can’t stifle this
Joyful nerdiness
Desperate to frolic free

On the first day of school, 1997
High school beckoned and I anticipated
Kimmie’s classes—sister, ten-years my senior, soon
Inspired and exploited my theatrical love
Still academically unchallenged, my little brother,
Tutor Me Timmy, was allowed to jump
Ahead two years in math. My class. He got A’s. I got A plusses.
But Shakespeare kept my mind alive as I performed Hermia

On the first day of school, 2000
UVC was the oyster and I was its pearl
Eleven years plus kindergarten at this school boiled
Down to this: 4-point-oh, ASB vice president and ready
For more fun with my 27 classmates. Blissful
Year made poignant by straight-laced, creatively-challenged
Administration applying retribution for the artistic sins of moved-on Kimmie
To me in increasingly unjust severity

Don’t slow me down
You can’t stifle this
Joyful nerdiness
Desperate to frolic free

On the first day of school, 2001
I opened my eyes and stretched luxuriously
In the vast academic galaxies available for deep exploration
Relishing the new friends and challenges
I barely had time to be angered by assumptions
That I too, like my father, sister, brother, cousins, aunts and uncles
Would teach
After all, that’s the only thing music majors can really do

Stop telling me what to do,
What to do, what
To be, who I am—
Even if you’re right

On the first day of school, 2003
Exhausted of being categorized I expanded
My major to include theatre and writing/literature
It’s not that I didn’t agree
I would make an excellent teacher
I think
But being the fourth of five children,
I needed to define myself

Stop telling me what to do,
What to do, what
To be, who I am—
Let me reach my own conclusions

On the first day of school, 2004
Graduation was tangible and looming
Like a little black rain cloud hovering over
My Impressionistic honey tree, weighted heavily
With drops of reality I wasn’t sure I wanted to taste
Perhaps I should teach battled with No back-up plan!
I blinked and the squabble was exchanged for a mortar
Board and sighs of good-bye

Stop wondering what to do,
What to do, what
To be, who I am—
Even if you’re wrong

On the first day of school, 2005
I was shocked to find myself back in school
Well, an internship program actually
Two years spent eating, breathing, loving, sleeping
Westside Church in the high desert
Two years of high school students laughing, loving,
Failing, hurting, asking, needing, wanting
One by one encouraging, answering, challenging

On the first day of school, 2007
For the first time in 20 years, I wasn’t a student
Jealously watered my eyes
As I watched a young woman grade English papers at my favorite coffee shop
All my life I had classified myself in only three categories:
Single. Christian. Student.
Redefinition was suddenly imperative

Start answering the questions of
What to do, what
To be, who I am—
And be

Late spring, 2008
After a horrible night at the end
Of a twelve-month of horrible
Forging ahead after being left behind
The honey tree reappeared in clarity
Hindsight is 20/20—now I see
The email in my inbox confirmed
My conclusion

Two things I was made
To do or perish:

MAT 005
On the first day of school, 2008
There are the obvious other
Things God intends for me:
To love, to serve, to encourage, etc.
But this is living
Driving home the first night
A perma-smile startled those
In the fast lane

Mirriam-Webster defines
A teacher as one who:
Causes to know
Accustoms to think
Imparts knowledge
Instructs by example or experience
Makes known and accepted
Provides instruction

Using my pilot-approved hindsight
To weigh the good, bad and simply revolting
Moments of my education
Formal and non
I will add to my morphing definition
That a teacher is one who:
Always encourages, and never stifles
Trusts first, unless proven guilty
Allows passion to drive each lesson
Refuses favoritism
Inspires brilliance in those who had given up
Challenges beyond the four walls of the classroom
Provides a broad world view
Thinks outside the box continually
Is willing to see their mistakes and improvise new strategies
Loves each student despite a breaking heart
Fights for idealism no matter how corny it may be

I’ve always been a hopelessly romantic optimist
With an overactive imagination—
Which is probably why when asked
What I wanted to be
When I grew up, I said
Shirley Temple,
Then a rock
Star, then to reach
The stars as an astronaut,
Then, when Jurassic Park came out,
To be a paleontologist dusting dinosaur bones

When I read what Colleen Wilcox said,
Teaching is the greatest
Act of optimism.

I smiled.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

the perfect evening (alternate title: i'm my own gilmore)

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There's something so quaint about watching a movie in the park on an inflatable screen with a bunch of local strangers. I think it feeds, once again, my Stars Hollow craving.

I celebrated the first Friday in September with my first pumpkin spice latte of the season as I wrapped myself in blankets by a big tree to watch Princess Bride. Cult-classics should always be viewed in such settings, I believe. Everyone cheered when the six-fingered man died. They booed at appropriate places. Quoted Miracle Max. Clapped for each actor at the ending titles when it showed their pictures.

The cherry topping my Princess Bride sundae was the company (via text) of Princess Sarah, who resides in Texas. Mmmm...perfection. Well, almost...I had some serious jonesing for some Luke's Diner pie after the movie...


I couldn't resist getting this onesie for Donny.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

an evening with internationals (and nico)

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If you guessed "Sondre Lerche" when you looked at the above picture, you were right. If you draw a complete blank when you read "Sondre Lerche," it's high time you educated yourselves! Sondre wrote the soundtrack for Dan in Real Life (again, if you don't know this movie: shame on you!). That's right. He wrote almost every song used in the movie. He even makes a cameo with Regina Spektor in the final scene (they are the band performing).

I love Sondre for several reasons: I love Dan in Real Life, he's Norwegian, he has a guitarist named Kato (which is the name of one of my Norwegian relatives), he's incredibly quirky, he looks a bit like James McAvoy, he wears lego necklaces, etc.

So I was thrilled out of my little mind when I found out Sondre was going to be at the Doug Fir (a new favorite venue of mine in Portland) shortly after I moved here. I got my friend Nico excited for the concert and we attended.
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His opener was a brilliant singer-songwriter from the UK named Sylvie (Lewis?). Nico and I both loved her (and wished we could shrink her to fit in our pocket). Towards the end of Sondre's set, he had Sylvie come join him on stage (he played a solo show...which I loved...the more acoustic the better, in my opinion) to perform a couple of songs from Dan in Real Life that feature a female singer with him. But he decided to tell a story about, well, Thelma & had to be there...august08 080

We were very happy at the end of the night. Beautiful evening.
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Friday, September 12, 2008

scene study

On Thursday nights, I will be found in Vancouver with the following students (plus my swell sister, Kim, and probably Donny too):
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Scene Study is an advanced acting class that I wrote the curriculum for (based roughly off of some concepts I learned in college). I am so excited for this class! We met last night for the first time and their "Bus Stop" improv had me giggling profusely. Showcase in nine and a half weeks should be a real blast. I'll keep you posted on that as well.

PS- if you scroll down to my post about Westside Story, you'll recognize a few of these fact, I believe four or five of them were at that camp and subsequently in that production.

acting up

On Tuesday nights for the next nine weeks, I'll be out in Gresham with these fantastic students (plus my wonderful TA, Janelle):
acting up 032combo

Acting Up is a beginning acting class for CYT (Christian Youth Theatre). My sister, Kim, actually wrote the curriculum for this class, and she'll be teaching a class (Character Counts) in the room next I'll have help when I want it! I'm excited, but know that I'll be tremendously stretched by these 16 exuberant theatrical teens. I'll keep you posted on Showcase as it nears.

Monday, September 08, 2008

gresham's answer to the eiffel tower

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It's pretty common knowledge that McMenamins and I go way back. We have a solid comraderie by this point. These photos were taken at Edgefield, which is Gresham's McMenamins. Apparently they make all their hard cider here.

I went out there for a 30th birthday party duet for Laura & Rosalind (who I met on arrival to the party...we have many mutual friends, so we'd heard about each other, but never met). Below I'm pictured with Nick (in my sunglasses) and Mike (in Laura's).
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Life update: It's completely unbelievable to me that this is my life. I'm really jealous of myself sometimes. Seriously. I can't count how many really quality people I've met and re-met already. For instance, the people in the post are all part of a community called Imagine that I hang with on Sundays and other special occasssions. I've run into a guy I know through a friend in college, a brilliantly hysterical writer who I know from Roseburg and my ASM (assistant manager) at Starbucks turns out to be a guy that my sister Kim used to babysit and his father took her senior photos! There's also my brilliant cohort in my MAT program - 19 of us (not including professors). All totally unique and lovely. I'm enjoying getting to know them with each class. Then there's CYT (Christian Youth Theatre) where my sister Kim is the artistic director, so I've been meeting her colleagues, as well as students - and I'll be meeting many more this week as I begin to teach two different classes (22 or more students combined). Then there's the ice cream guys, Target cashiers, old men in the park and the vintage store lady. My new Starbucks co-workers whom I really haven't gotten to know yet, but I work tomorrow for 6 hours, so hopefully that'll be changing soon. I'm incredibly busy (as I'm sure is obvious to those who've been keeping up to speed). But incredibly in my element. I'm even glowing (or so a charming stranger told me this weekend). To re-cap: I'm living with gracious family, helping my nephew jabber and walk (jabber-walk...y...hmmm, maybe that's where that came from), working at Starbucks starting tomorrow, in my third week of grad classes, starting teaching CYT classes this week and flirting with strangers who tell me I'm lovely (I guess I'd flirt with anyone who tells me I'm lovely, strangers are just more commonly known to do this). Whew! Sorry for my long-windedness. Kim & Andy are on vacation in Canada this week, so I have no one to blurt my most random thoughts to in the evenings until she returns.

toddling roommate

I took Donny on an adventure a week or so ago.
He was thrilled.
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He doesn't like to be inside whenever he remembers that he can be outside.
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Saturday, September 06, 2008

dani & kevin (part three)

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Here are my final pictures from Dani & Kevin's wedding (August 16, 2008). The bridal (and groomal?) party rejoices...
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Beautifully foreboding skies during the ceremony (there were thunder storms the next day)...
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I love this picture of Dani & her mom...
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Thursday, September 04, 2008

dani & kevin (part two)

As promised, here are more from Dani & Kevin's wedding. I'll be adding more later today or tomorrow...the sunset was so gorgeous, I am having an absurd time trying to pick a reasonable amount of favorites to post. But I'll begin (again) with these two. The first is during the communion part of the ceremony, right after they were announced "man & wife" (yes, I'm getting in the Princess Bride mood...stay tuned if you want to know why). The second is just after the ceremony. I was trying to capture a romantic just-wed-sunset-kiss photo, but it turned out to be brother-of-the-bride-leaps-into-romantic-just-wed-sunset-kiss photo (seconds after this photo, the groom had tackled said brother to the ground).

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