Tuesday, November 25, 2008

heart attack article


Check it out for how to talk to a relative who might be at risk of heart attack.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Writer's Wall

location norfolk, virginia
statistics 1 (baby jesu's leaving here first thing in the morning)
3 (lines of note cards on the wall)
0 (how it feels to get no yes, no no, no nothing from an editor or agent after i query them)
tops (how it feels when they say yes)

For those of you curious what it's like to be a writer trying to make it in the big bad world, here's how I get by:

So... in my room I've devoted a little wall to my ideas. There are four sections: Ideas, In Progress, Ready to Pitch, and Published (just to remind myself I'm not a total schlub). In any case, as I prepare to pack and take down the wall, here's where a semester here at writing school has gotten me. Any thoughts on which Ideas you'd most like to read? Any suggestions on how to tweak them? Any thoughts on where I can pitch the done ones? Any and all words are welcome welcome welcome.

- What children of abusive marriages can do to break the cycle
- It can't just be because they're selfish... What's the real difference between Democrats and Republicans?
- Palin as Eliza Doolittle (obviously out-dated now)
- The culture of complaint
- Recruitment of the PETA army
- How I lived before I was rich and famous
- How to save the newspaper
- Book written for 9th graders explaining, in a fun, entertaining way, why a high school education is essential to happiness and success in life
- Why is there no US Oil?
- Europe on $0 a day
- Origin of the sin tax, and what else should apply
- How to save the marriage: marriage certificates expire every five years
- Profile of a local Hindu monk (who has been declared insane by the government)
- Re-thinking "Rushmore" as a play
- "We Own The Streets," a graphic novel about activist bike riders
- "Citizen," a non-fiction book about how to catalyze American's sense of citizenship, a meditation on what happened to the collective American spirit, and a search for real citizen groups among us
- Re-living and re-writing "Travels With Charley"
- How teachers can get their pay increased
- If I were president (good things we all should do like couch surf, only get dogs from the shelter, eating breakfast in cars is made illegal)
- How to be a citizen journalist (with all these newspaper lay-offs, good citizen journalists will become essentially to a thriving democracy)
- A dreamy, ironic, first person account from a girl, uhm, having group sex with a bunch of men (satire)
- Why is it so easy for politicians to lie?
- Craig of Craigslist: The Man Who Killed The Newspaper
- Who needs music education in schools when we have rock band?
- Why sex without condoms is so dope
- Humerous poem about my dad's funeral
- Poem on my thoughts on pregnant women
- The things I've stolen

In Progress

- Tales of Suburban Deviancy (book with the Masturbation thing, roommate list, poems, etc.)

- Script about Internet dating

- Script about two crack addicts on a road trip

- Organic farming in Ireland

- Please don't sex the crocodiles (and other lessons from a South African home for boys)

- Sailing/mourning in Holland

Ready to Pitch
- "Hey Dumbass, You've Got Chalk On Your Pants; The Stuff They Don't Teach You In Teacher School" (book of advice for new teachers)
- "How The iPhone Will End Cheating"
- "The Basket Pass" (memoir/essay on how my dad assauged his guilt through donating money at church... or faking it when he felt like he was good enough)
- "Learning to 3-step in Louisiana"
- "15 Rules for Happy Hitchhiking"
- Other stuff from this blog such as the poems, Roommate list

- "How To Talk To A Parent Who Is A Heart Attack Risk"
Danbury News-Times
- "Travelling: South Africa" (a travel article)
Mercedes-Benz Travel Guide
- "Is American Free Speech Worth South African Blood? The Affect Of 50 Cent On The Townships of Cape Town"
The Peace Corps Magazine
- "Local Resident Celebrates Birthday Hollywood Style" (profile on local mentally disadvangated woman)
- "Ghent Tailor With A Fine Hand, Big Heart, Will Be Missed" (story on the passing of an Italian immigrant/location institution)

Monday, November 3, 2008

open letter to a past high school student of mine

(this is from the book of advice for new teachers i'm working on with my buddy All-Star.)

Dear Student That I Failed,

This is Mr. Scaccia. You probably don’t remember me. I was your English teacher a few years back. I was the one who dealt with your outbursts in class by docking you one point off your final grade each time. Even though you have A-level intelligence, you ended up with a low-level C in my class.

I want to say that I’m sorry. I failed you. My teaching was mediocre at best, so I failed you in that sense. But that isn’t why I am apologizing. I was a new teacher and I was trying my best. Teaching is a craft that takes years to master, so I don’t blame myself for bad pedagogy.
I failed you in a much worse way than that. Clearly, there was something going on in your life beyond your control. That’s why you would shout in class. It is why you would not turn in assignments and act like you didn’t care. It is why you would tease the slow students. But rather than get to the root of your problems, I addressed the symptoms with my juvenile point system. I chose to deal with the surface of the problem- discipline- and ignore the deeper issues inside you.

I apologize for not calling your parents. I apologize for never setting up an appointment with the guidance counselor. I apologize for never keeping you after class to ask, Hey buddy, what’s up?

I apologize for being afraid of the pain that lay just below the surface of your outbursts. I am sorry that I was too much of a coward to learn if you weren’t getting enough attention at home, or if one of your parents was an alcoholic, or had cancer, or if you were being abused.

The worst part for me, Student That I Failed, is that I went into teaching to help, maybe even save, kids like you. Sure, I believe that teaching my subject matter is important, but I became a teacher to be the one adult who did ask you what the real issues are. To be the one who did bother to intervene. To be the one that changed your life forever.

I could give you a laundry list of excuses, Student That I Failed. I was overwhelmed. You intimidated me. I wasn’t sure what the appropriate boundaries were. Was I allowed into your life? Did you even want me there? Might I have been making things worse by meddling?
Now I know better, Student That I Failed, and I apologize. People talk about the system failing students. But there is no ‘system.’ There is an inter-connected web of people like me- parents, teachers, guidance counselors, coaches- and we make the combined choice to save or fail a student. And sometimes, maybe with you, we all choose to fail.

I know this apology cannot undo what I have done. All I can do is try to do better with the next student who cries out for help.

I promise you, Student That I Failed, I will do all in my power to never have to write one of these letters again.

With love,
Jesse “Mr.” Scaccia