Reboot. Again. Probably not the last time.

I started this blog in 2005 with one goal: watch as many of the American Film Institute’s Greatest Films of All Time as I could find, and write short reviews of them. Then I started sharing reviews of other movies and television shows until I went to grad school.

And then the blog went through several different evolutions and trends and lost all focus. Write about teaching? Sure. Technology in education? Totally. Rants about the effects of late-stage capitalism? Occasionally. Depression? Yep. 

I’ve thought often about just shutting down this space, mostly because what’s the point?

Pink geometric background with the verse from Proverbs 29:18--Where there is no vision, the people perish.
This blog has no vision.

WordPress says I have 94 followers, yet rarely do I get commenters. Twitter says I have 905 followers, yet rarely do I see evidence of engagement. Instagram says I have 337 followers, yet likes on posts range between 5 and 10.

If there’s no engagement, does a writer even have any impact? Is there even a reason to be on social media at all?

Screenshot of an instagram post from Sarajane Case about Enneagram 4s. Relevant text to this blog: A fixed mindset says that we are as talented as we will ever be the first time we try something new. Just another artist in a sea of monotony.
Ah, the existential dread of an Enneagram 4.

That line of questioning is quite the rabbit hole to go down, and it doesn’t lead to any place I want to stay.

I’ve brainstormed dozens of ideas for what to do in this space to keep it consistent, to make it meaningful. I am certain that fear is a primary factor in keeping me from making a choice, because what if I do and it’s not sustainable? What if I do and no one reads what I write? What if I do and people read what I write and it sucks? 

But if I’ve learned anything from my friend Ashley, it’s to just do something. And if it fails, there’s nothing or no one keeping me from starting over. Again.

After posting on Instagram for 100 days, I’ll be slowly ratcheting back my social media presence and consumption, and instead spend time working on this. Right now, I have two plans:  1) publish a weekly popular culture newsletter, with a little bit of education-related content sprinkled in regarding how I teach popular culture in a midwest suburban high school; 2) publish creative nonfiction pieces I have scattered across my digital landscape.

Feel free to smash that subscribe button if you want to see where this all goes. I certainly do.

Writing Through an Existential Crisis.

I had every intention of blogging every day in 2016, every intention of tracking all my media consumption, every intention of writing my second book. Like decent baseball players, I batted .333 last year for those goals (yay, NaNoWriMo!), but now it’s a new year and time to reassess.

I haven’t had much of a focus on my blog ever. It started as a place to review movies on the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Movies of All Time, then morphed into a place to vent during grad school, then shifted into a bit of a diary with some educational pieces thrown in from time to time.

I’m not sure how to rebrand at this point, or if I even want to. As a memoirist, this has been a space to force me to craft snapshots of my life in a way that might engage readers, perhaps even make them think. It’s been a place to rant about everything from religion to politics to feminism to mental health to education. But recently, I’ve been wondering if those snapshots reveal too much. When someone googles me and this is the first hit, what can someone learn about me in mere minutes? I always assume the only people reading are my mom and Stueve, but what if they aren’t the only ones reading? Then again, with the sheer volume of content available online, isn’t my little corner of the sky just mostly static?

I’m not sure what the answer is, if there’s an answer at all. I know I love writing. I know my writing is not a hobby. I know I need to write for the same reasons I need to breathe–it gives me life. I know I’m working on a sustainable schedule for blogging this year, something that might strike more of a balance of sharing those snapshots of my life with a dash of restraint. I know I hope to have that schedule ready to go this weekend.

So as the trite writing advice goes, I’ll just write what I know, and hope from there I can figure out what needs to happen next.

If you have any ideas, I’m all ears.


A Quarter Report

First quarter ends in nine days, and I haven’t blogged once. That is a problem. I’ve blogged over at my personal blog occasionally, but this quarter has me on the ropes. I’m facing challenges I’ve never faced before, and they are testing my abilities.

Consequently, writing falls to the wayside, even though writing is often the best way to process a struggle.

I’ve been taking a photo on Instagram every day, using the hashtag #180DaysofHappy, to document at least one good thing about my school day. It’s helped me find the good in my classrooms–because even on my worst days (or what I think are my worst days), there’s something good to be found.

Some of the good that I’ve found this first quarter?

A couple of new reporters who are killing it on newspaper. Some great discussions in my Pop Culture classes. Watching students figure out how to take better photos. Successful live commentary for our football live-stream. Discovering new writing talent in my journalistic writing class.

Some days, I forget to snap a photo of something that really makes me happy, and I’m scrambling at the end of the day to figure out what might take its place. But I’m trying, and for the most part, succeeding, and it reminds me that there is so much good going on in my classroom, if I just stop long enough to notice it.

Some thoughts on David Carr

My students are blogging today, and because I like to model behavior, I’m taking the time to blog with them.

It’s been too long since I blogged here. I’ve blogged plenty on my personal blog, and maybe I shouldn’t maintain two blogs. But part of me feels split most of the time anyway–I have my teacher life, and my personal life, and though sometimes when writing about my personal life I venture into teacher territory, the converse is never true. But I’m always thinking about teaching, why I do it, and how I can get better.

A week ago, my favorite journalist, David Carr, collapsed in the New York Times offices. He was rushed to the hospital, but he died. An autopsy revealed he had lung cancer and heart disease. He was so young, only 58.

I’m usually unaffected by celebrity deaths, but this one really felt like a gut punch. I followed him on Twitter and looked forward to his Monday media columns. They often gave me discussion fodder for my classes. He was the best part of the documentary “Page One,” which is how I came to know his writing in the first place.

Occasionally, I glance over the fence at the grass on the corporate side of life and wonder if I should give it a try. Then I look back at my classes and my students, and realize I really like what I do. After 15 years, I still can’t imagine doing anything else.

I wonder if David Carr ever thought of doing something other than journalism as a career. With his gregarious personality, I have no doubt he could’ve parlayed his skill set into something more lucrative on cable news. But I get the feeling that journalism was in his bones, and even if he had tried a different career, he would’ve just ended right back at the New York Times.

Just like I ended right back at Bellevue West, that one time I thought I wanted to leave teaching.

My teacher life is pretty good. I need to write more often about it.


It’s Blogging Friday with my journalistic writing class, and if I’m going to make them blog every Friday, then I must as well.

Since it’s Oct. 31, Halloween is on my brain. As I walked into school this morning, bundled in my parka, scarf, and mittens, I thought about all the Halloweens of my youth, especially those spent in Nebraska. I never knew what kind of weather to expect trick-or-treating.

One of my first memorable Halloweens here, I’m pretty sure it snowed. So the flannel tiger costume my mom made for me and my sisters (yes, all three of us matched) actually worked quite nicely. The year it was 70 degrees on Halloween? Those flannel costumes were a bit much.

I haven’t dressed up for Halloween since 2001, when I went to a party dressed as Judy Garland from her film “Summer Stock.” My roommate that year went as Hester Prynne from “The Scarlet Letter.” She was always more creative than me; most people are when it comes to costumes.

I’m ambivalent about celebrating Halloween. I don’t get excited about dressing up or handing out candy, but I do get a little excited about the discounted candy I’ll find tomorrow. And I love fall, and baking with pumpkin, and watching the Disney cartoon “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

That’s the closest I get to celebrating Halloween. It works for me, even if it’s different than how it works for everyone else.