Thursday, May 16, 2013

Love and Video Games

It's that time of year again. Spring is in the air, and sixth graders are turning into seventh graders, and then it is that their thoughts turn to thoughts of love. It also happens to be the time of year when I teach the elements of poetry.

Each year, I force (er, challenge) my sixth graders to participate in a contest wherein they must come up with the most original, never-before-used simile for love. The project begins with moans and groans, but in general the kids are completely immersed in the task within a few minutes, and I've had some truly glorious similes in the past.

My personal favorite remains:

That's a sixth grader for you.

They have to provide ten supporting arguments for how the two things are similar, and I've learned a good deal about love by reading some of their arguments. (It also makes me speculate, sometimes, on the nature of their parents' love lives.)

I always provide my own example, which is video games, because, well, video games are cool and so is love, and I know some kid would choose it if I didn't, and frankly, it's not original because Lana Del Rey's already used it.

So here it is, and it may cause you to speculate on my own love life, but nonetheless:
  1. In both love and video games, there are rules, but you generally have to play to figure out what they are and sometimes you never do.
  2. In either case, you can win even if you don't know the rules, and you can lose even if you know them very well.
  3. Whether playing video games or playing the field, you don't have to follow the rules to play, but if you break the rules too often, you might run out of people to play with.
  4. Some people become so obsessed with video games, it's all they think about. I don't think I need to explain that: stalker.  
  5. If you don't go outside and get a breath of fresh air every once in a while, both can give you a headache.   
  6. Video games have epic wins and epic fails. Love can be pretty epic, too. 
  7. You can buy video games new or used, they come in all kinds of conditions, but you can play them in most any condition (unless they've been used so roughly that they don't work anymore). First love is new, but usually people have other loves that follow that aren't new but still work out anyway. And some people have been hurt so badly that they don't know how to love anymore. 
  8. There's always another challenge in video games (but you keep playing because it's worth it when you win). Ditto, love. 
  9. Video games are built by other people before the player can use them, and those builders were influenced by video games that they've played. Of all the things that have changed about humans throughout our history, love has tended to stay pretty much the same; we've learned it by watching those who've loved before us. 
  10. There are many different types of video games: some are for thinkers, some are for adventurers, some are for fighters, but the best probably have many different facets. The greatest loves, the ones that you come back to over and over, are those that challenge and engage all of the parts of who you are.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Batman at the yard sale.

Last weekend I had a yard sale.

It took over a week to prepare for it. To rummage through all the stuff I've accumulated over the last seven years and decide what's worth taking and what's ok to give up.

Throughout the process, I marveled at my lack of nostalgia. I ruthlessly threw stuff into the reject pile, feeling a sense of liberation from things, which I am, in general, a big fan of.

However, on the day of the yard sale, as people pawed at what was once mine, deciding whether it might have any value to them, I did get a little heartsick.

Not over the dishes that I've served friends and neighbors on for years or over the gaudy jewelry that I've impressed countless third graders with, but over Fain's stupid toys that I've been tripping over and cursing for years. The Batcave with its real moving elevator and garage for the Batmobile. The dozen Batman action figures, cars, villains, weapons, the list goes on.

Fain didn't have any remorse over selling them to the highest bidder. In fact, he told me I could sell everything in his room except for his computer and a few of his baby toys that he wanted to keep for sentimental purposes. (I didn't sell everything, but he did get a big haul that day.)

But as I watched child after child ooh and ahh over the Batcave (and corresponding Joker toy factory/lair), I got a twist in my stomach. I wanted to yank them all back and shove them back in his room where I would, no doubt, spend the last month of our stay in this little house tripping over them and cursing them, just like in the old days.

I don't know what it is. It just got to me.

Then a young woman came and asked about the Batman assembly gathered on the tablecloth under the tree in my front yard. She told me her daughter loves Batman, and her birthday was coming up, and the young mother was practically buzzing with excitement over the find. She asked the price, and after a moment of hesitation, I sold it cheap...cave, toy factory, heroes, villains, the whole lot...because ultimately I liked the idea that there's a little girl who loves Batman. I can relate to that.

And, honestly, she'll probably get a lot more satisfaction playing with it than I'd get cursing it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

This is where I change topics.

So this is where the posts start to shift from my obsessive yammering on about education to an obsessive yammering on about THE MOVE. (I considered referring to this integral time in my life as THE CHANGE, but since that's also an old-fashioned euphemism for menopause, which I'm not undergoing currently, I felt I should stick with the more specific description.) I'm referring to the move from a small town in rural North Carolina to New Orleans. From being a single mother for seven years to being a married lady.

The move is only a month away. The months from Thanksgiving to Spring Break - those were the months between visits with Jack - seemed to drag by. But the months from Spring Break until June 15th are flying - Back-to-the-Future-burning-tire-marks-in-the-road-flying. They're going so fast that I hardly have time to be nervous. So fast that I really don't even have time to think about it anymore. I'm on auto-pilot...

Except for a few moments every now and then. Like watching a BBC detective drama at night in the quiet of the house after I've locked the child and the cats away, when it occurred to me that all the things that have become familiar to little house, my little routines...are about to change drastically. (But then someone else was murdered in Badger's Drift, so my musings were cut short. Thank you, BBC.)

But wow. I mean. Big change, right? So much change that I don't even think my brain can process it.

So I'm going to shift right now into using-composition-to-attempt-to-process-change-mode.