Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Section 16: Shape Shifters (Say That Six Times Fast!)

We are officially a tad more than halfway through our Spilling Ink Challenge!  It has been a roller coaster ride!  I've been down like the guy that got slide tackled in the South Africa vs. Uruguay World Cup game today, and up like the humidity here in Georgia...

Why the corny figurative language, you ask?  Because that's what Section 16 of Spilling Ink is about! (duh.)  Ellen Potter narrows it down to metaphors and similes, actually.  She gives them personalities-- metaphors are the shape shifters, and similes are the metaphors' sassy second cousins.  (She doesn't say come right out and say that, but I think they are most definitely related.)

It works wonders for kids when you personify abstract concepts for them.  It kind of gives them something to hang their hat on... It made me think of  introducing metaphors as kind of  hippy, free spirit kinds of people who say things like, "Your voice is a babbling brook, lulling me to sleep. " Then in comes sassy Simile, who is Valley-girlish.  She may be known to say, "Your voice is like nails on a chalkboard." or "I am having about as much fun as a cat in a bathtub right now."

I thought I would push myself this evening, since I have a few extra minutes, and use some similes and metaphors to further build my characters from the other night, James Dean (a 15 year old girl-- JD for short) and her Grandma, Mae....

Grandma Mae's trailer is an oasis in a desert of lonely. Yes, it is about as big as a postage stamp. Yes, it is filled to the brim with the flotsam of her life-- Better Homes and Gardens magazines dating back to the 1960s live in stacks against the walls in the hallway, and cardboard boxes teeter precariously in the dining room, filled with yard sale treasures. Garbage bags filled with old newspapers have taken up permanent residence in the dining room, and there is a layer of dust that mutes all color and sound.  But in the center of it all, sitting in the sweet spot on the couch, watching her soaps and not talking until the commercial comes on, is my Mae.  I blink my eyes when I see her, sitting like a mirage in the middle of my desert. 

Why do I feel so exhausted every time I finish one of these posts?  I spend entirely too much time on them, about as much time as a 16 year girl spends with her straightening iron!  (Ha-- a snarky simile!)  Maybe this will get easier, and maybe it won't.  Either way, I am green and growing, doing what I ask of students each day.  I'm good with that.

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