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Old 11-12-2015, 02:08 AM View Post #1 (Link) Good Teachers have Wooden Floors
monthlymuser (Offline)
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October 15, 1876

Miss Emswiler is quite possibly the most elegant, charming, and unfortunately employed lady in the world. She is young and vibrant, with all the makings of a New York Broadway girl. If she has never been in a show, it is because she never wanted to be.

No, she wanted to be an ordinary teacher and she is a happy one to boot. Today her joy is that Indium, an element discovered in Germany some years ago, has finally been added to our textbooks. Now, above all else, her priority is to get us these books, she exclaims with an absurd sense of purpose.

I am not so anxious. Frankly, the chemists of today perplex me. They relish in their laboratories and experiments, hoping to discover some new thing: elements, compounds, and what have you. Why? We hardly comprehend all the elements of which we do have knowledge.

For example, we have not yet tamed the element of surprise, which Miss Emswiler is notorious for invoking. Today, she was so taken with the news that she apparently forgot about our lesson.

“Class, this is a wonderful opportunity to talk about Indium!” she declares to a sea of disinterested faces. Our collective, unvoiced response is something to the effect of "oh, the humanity!"

Truly, every student needs a mercy allowance – one time to leave session and not return until the next day. We have no such rule, but what better way to advocate these things than to act them into existence?

Miss Emswiler grabs her chalk and begins writing on the board. Time to move. I slip my papers and writing utensils into my satchel, eyes fixed on her. Gently securing the top flap, I sit still and wait. She turns around.

“Indium is named for its color,” she begins. “Can anyone tell me what that color might be?”

Indigo, of course. We all know the answer. But disinterest breeds silence, as Miss Emswiler is soon made aware.

She quickly turns to the board in frustration, mumbling something about art being a useless subject.

What irony, I think, as I swoop up my bag and quietly dash into the hallway. Is stealth not an art?
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						Last edited by monthlymuser; 11-13-2015 at 07:46 AM.
					
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Old 11-22-2015, 04:57 PM View Post #2 (Link)
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These snippets/interlocking scenes/flash stories are still keeping me interested on their own, but I'm already starting to imagine how they go together. The teenage snarkiness of the speaker in this (I imagine a young man finishing high school) could be the kid on the train in the last one, or someone else in a similar constellation. Hard to tell yet, but I'm sure it will become clear to readers who see the whole collection.

I've got some notes in the text below since my comments are quick:

Originally Posted by monthlymuser View Post
October 15, 1876

Miss Emswiler is quite possibly the most elegant, charming, and unfortunately employed lady in the world. She is young and vibrant, with all the makings of a New York Broadway girl. If she has never been in a show, it is because she never wanted to be. It's this intro paragraph that tells me the narrator is a young man. Actually, without the context of the classroom and the narrator as student, I might have thought the narrator was a slightly older man - not a teenager, but a man just older than Miss Emswiler, attracted to her and looking down on her at the same time. Context tells me more about the narrator ... but since I know he's likely a teenager, makes me think he's got a bit of an attitude from how he describes her.

No, she wanted to be an ordinary teacher and she is a happy one to boot. Today her joy is that Indium, an element discovered in Germany some years ago, has finally been added to our textbooks. Now, above all else, her priority is to get us these books, she exclaims with an absurd sense of purpose. Poor school in some forgotten, barely-joined borough of New York?

I am not so anxious. Frankly, the chemists of today perplex me. They relish in their laboratories and experiments, hoping to discover some new thing: elements, compounds, and what have you. Why? We hardly comprehend all the elements of which we do have knowledge.

For example, we have not yet tamed the element of surprise, which Miss Emswiler is notorious for invoking. Today, she was so taken with the news that she apparently forgot about our lesson. I like this play on "elements", and the comparison/equivalence between physical elements and artist elements, or the way we use elements in figures of speech. It surprised me, but it also works I think. A charming surprise.

“Class, this is a wonderful opportunity to talk about Indium!” she declares to a sea of disinterested faces. Our collective, unvoiced response is something to the effect of "oh, the humanity!"

Truly, every student needs a mercy allowance – one time to leave session and not return until the next day. We have no such rule, but what better way to advocate these things than to act them into existence?

Miss Emswiler grabs her chalk and begins writing on the board. Time to move. I slip my papers and writing utensils into my satchel, eyes fixed on her. Gently securing the top flap, I sit still and wait. She turns around.

“Indium is named for its color,” she begins. “Can anyone tell me what that color might be?”

Indigo, of course. We all know the answer. But disinterest breeds silence, as Miss Emswiler is soon made aware.

She quickly turns to the board in frustration, mumbling something about art being a useless subject. While this felt both relevant and real, and I can jump for the connection here - indium an element and a color super important for 19th century chemistry and art - it took a second. If that's ok, I'd keep it as is. But maybe poll a couple readers and see if they make them jump?

What irony, I think, as I swoop up my bag and quietly dash into the hallway. Is stealth not an art?
My last question is about the title: is the narrator able to run out because of wood floors? Or dirt ones? Or is "wood floor" a below-the-belt pun about Miss Emswiler?
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Old 11-24-2015, 12:18 AM View Post #3 (Link) This post is a reply - don't critique it
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Originally Posted by Isis View Post
My last question is about the title: is the narrator able to run out because of wood floors? Or dirt ones? Or is "wood floor" a below-the-belt pun about Miss Emswiler?
Thanks for the critique and this question specifically. My title was intended to be a satirical oversimplification of the relationship between class engagement and the physical class environment - specifically, the floor. Wooden floors make more noise than carpeted floors. Between unfortunate shoe 'clicks' and creaking, students should generally be discouraged from trying to sneak out the classroom. Of course, effective use of such a title requires that (a) the readers know the classroom floor is not wooden and (b) the readers understand that the wooden floors being referenced are more akin to old-fashioned floating wood floors, not your modern linoleum or laminate or what have you.

The indium piece was included as a small historical reference to solidify my time period. And I agree... I'll have to see if any others grab the connection between art/indigo as well. As you might have figured by now, I tried to incorporate a bit more information than I made time to explain.

In the first and second flash pieces, my setting was rural, but I wanted to try a somewhat more urban setting - though, perhaps not as specific as New York. I'm not 100% sure. I have several threads in mind... We'll see.
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