Fifth grade composition

March 20, 2007

This posting describes what I did over Spring Break. Before I start, however, I don’t know what makes me think of my topic as something for fifth grade. It sounds like the kind of thing about which younger kids would be eager to write, though the appeal might start to wear around that time. As for my own fifth grade experience (along with third grade), I remember it as the most “undistinguished” of all my years in school. Of course, that was before I even considered the prospect of college. Fortunately, to make me more “motivated,” my parents concocted a way to make sixth grade more successful: I would get one dollar for every “A” received on my report card, which came out every six weeks. The stakes got higher in seventh grade, where I would get a flat $100 if I got on the honor roll. (Anything less earned me a measly $50, as happened just one quarter.)

Some people believe that education should have more intrinsic value, and that waving money in front of kids to motivate them is wrong. Although I ultimately developed a “love of learning” over the years that transformed me into a sort of Renaissance man (which also partially accounts for me entering librarianship), I also believe that you should earn something for doing what you’re supposed to do. After all, that’s how the real world is supposed to work. Many kids see school as their job, so it seems logical that they would expect some tangible reward for their efforts. In fact, during a class in fifth grade, I asked my teacher why students didn’t get paid to go to school. I think he said something about taxes already paying for us to go to school. Even after he gave an explanation that might have been good, it still didn’t make sense to me. I saw school as my job, and I had other things that I could have been doing with my time besides sitting in some boring classroom.

Anyway, back to my topic, which describes what I did over Spring Break. As you may know, my library closed for renovations, so I had plenty of time to relax and work on non-library stuff. Of course, time off never seems generous enough, as I have plenty of projects large and small that I hope to complete outside of work. Of course, I never got around to resuming my novel, five years in the making and around 40 pages completed. I have a skeletal outline in my head, and an even more nebulous sequel that surfaces in my thoughts occasionally. But then, who among us does not have an idea for a novel? My own concept doesn’t seem terribly original, which probably accounts for some of my hesitation. (I’m sure that YA librarians could tell me about the oversaturation of books about teenage vampires, saddled with the appropriate symbolism.) I have a few twists in mind to give the novel some semblance of originality, but I certainly have no plans to get experimental.

Well, that’s enough about what I didn’t do. As for things I did, I worked on a posting to commemorate the second anniversary of my mother’s passing. I also graded two short weekly papers and one large assignment for the class I’m teaching online. On Tuesday afternoon, I came to the library where I work to help guard the door as workers came by to install carpet. They finished all the offices that day, so I got a good start on returning my office back to normal. However, I will need to move things out again to accommodate new office furniture, due to arrive within the next month or two.

Around the house, I managed to do some heavy-duty cleaning. Diane and I also decided to organize the office. Over time, our office had become increasingly disorderly. To help alleviate this problem, we bought an “assemble-by-number” bookcase last Sunday, which I finished in about an hour. (Nailing the backside of the bookcase took a bit longer). The bookcase helped substantially with getting things organized, and various carrying bags ended up in the coat closet, making the office seem more spacious. While Diane was at work (her Spring Break is this week), I did some shopping to catch up on necessities, and to find good deals on summer clothing. I got two Izod polo shirts for 40% off, which seemed like too good of a deal to pass up. At Target, I bought some household necessities, as well as a copy of Casino Royale. I rarely buy new releases, but that movie was so bloody good that I had to get it. After all, the makers of the Bond films have spent roughly the past 40 years trying to find a replacement for Sean Connery. Subsequent Bonds seemed okay, but Daniel Craig’s Bond brought back that Connery vibe… and then some. (Yes, I also had my doubts about Craig at first, but his performance as Bond more than exceeded my expectations.) We had hoped to have more “movie nights,” but that did not happen. Fortunately, we did manage to watch The Third Man and Reds on both Saturday nights.

Overall, probably a less exciting break than that had by others. But then, my Spring Breaks have tended more towards relaxation and regrouping, rather than Dionysian revelry (or a debased form thereof). However, over the next few months, I plan on taking a few trips; one for professional business, and another for pure relaxation. At least for the professional trip, the relevant posting(s) should have a bit more substance than “what I did over Spring Break.”


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