Yesterday was the last day of the conference and I attended two sessions. The first session I was really excited about. It was called “Children Marked by Death” and was going to discuss several books I had read: Unwind, Graveyard Book, Harry Potter.
I didn’t end up going to that session because, stupid me, I wrote down the wrong room number. If I hadn’t been sitting smack dab in the middle of the room where it would have been disruptive and rude of me to leave, I would have left. I was especially sad because I could hear the applause and laughter in the correct room which was on the other side of a thin wall.
One of the three speeches interested me though. It was about American Girl and how the company’s emphasis on clothes and accessories detracts from the more serious issues in the books. For example, in one of the Samantha books, Samantha goes to the African American part of town in search of her seamstress, Jessie. Samantha is shocked by how different this part of town is: crowded, old, poor. When she returns home, Samantha describes how much comfort she feels in putting on her soft, white, ruffled nightgown and climbing under the covers of her beautiful bed with her doll, Lydia. The speaker argued that the clothing and accessories serve to distract girls from the real issue and are what girls remember instead.
I could see the speaker’s points. But I think the American Girl series and products have so much to offer. I think the values of the series far outweigh many other play/toy options for girls that age. The history, morality, and focus on appreciating girlhood (not rushing into being a teenager, make-up, boys, etc.) make American Girl a refreshing option in today’s society.
They are opening an American Girl Store in Tysons Corner Mall, and there was an article about the American Girl series in the Washington Post. The series is celebrating its 25th Anniversary, and I’m very happy to see that the company is still going strong. Though I don’t agree with their decision to retire the classic dolls. (Samantha, Felicity, Kirsten are all retired.)
The other conference session I attended yesterday was about “Teachers as Writers.” There was a panel of writers who were also teachers. They spoke about the challenges of balancing teaching and writing, how both jobs require a similar kind of creative energy. That is a huge struggle for me. Teaching drains me in every way: physically, mentally, emotionally. Teaching also saps a lot of creative energy. To come up with consistently engaging and unique lessons drains me of creative energy. The panel spoke about how they often feel drained of creativity from their day job teaching and ways they recharge so they have energy for their writing.
I’ve had talks with several people who care about me, and how I need to do a better job of balancing my work (teaching) and my personal life. I give way too much of myself to teaching, and it has to stop. Next year, I already have plans in place so that I take more time for myself. I am going to take an online course with a teacher I love. I am signing up for writing conferences throughout the year, which will also be opportunities to travel and get away. Traveling always helps me to refocus my life and realize there’s more to life than my classroom. Plus, I think when I’m happier, I treat my students better. Not that I’m even a “mean” teacher, but I noticed this year that when I was stressed, I had less patience and was more likely to snap at a kid when I don’t mean to.
And finally, Panera has a vegetarian sandwich!!! They’ve had their Tomato/Mozz panini for awhile, but that’s really their only offering in terms of veggie stuff.
I don’t remember seeing the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich on their menu, and I ate so much Panera last year that I am pretty sure I know their menu offerings by heart. So I’m pretty sure this sandwich is new, and I tried it today. Delicious!
On their yummy tomato basil bread: feta cheese crumbles, cilantro hummus, black pepper, salt, green leaf lettuce, red onions, fresh tomatoes, fresh cucumber, and zesty peppadew piquant peppers. A very hearty vegetarian sandwich with a spicy kick on truly scrumptious bread. I’m a fan.
Now, if Panera would just make a grilled eggplant panini… I would be a happy girl.