Friday, April 11, 2008

Much More Than a Six Word Memoir

I’ve been tagged! This particular version of tag is pretty cool as far as I’m concerned, since it only requires writing six words. Perfect for us slacker types! Catherine tasked me with a six word memoir. Here are the rules:

1) Write your own six word memoir

2) Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want

3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere

4) Tag at least five more blogs with links

5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

So I came up with a bevy of six-word mottos for my life, unable to choose the ‘perfect’ one, until the number six suddenly struck a chord. In my Middle School Language Arts class we are studying poetry, and the students are learning about various forms of poetry by writing their own poems. I’ve been writing my own poems along with them to serve as samples, to become a better teacher by looking at things from the students’ perspective, and to make it more of a group experience. (We can all share thoughts on what challenges we found, what we liked about certain forms, etc.) Anyway, back to the number six.

One of the poems we wrote this week was a sestina. Sestina comes from the Latin for sixth. It is a repetitive form of poetry consisting of seven stanzas. It follows a strict structure where the end words of the first stanza are repeated in each of the following stanzas in a specific pattern. The seventh stanza, the envoy, is three lines with two of the six words in each line. Follow?

So I thought the six words from my sestina would be an appropriate six word memoir:

books, students, face, learn, you, change

I’ll admit, alone they aren’t much of a memoir. So here is the sestina I put them in:

“The Musicians”

Laden with books,
I greet my arriving students.
A scowl clouds her young face.
She has so much to learn.
What can I tell you
about change?

I needed things to change.
My mind heavy with books,
listening to the discord flow through you.
But are students
here to learn?
Tension darkens my face.

Some days are hard to face,
and then things change.
What did I learn?
It’s not about the books,
of course. It’s the students.
I strum along with you.

I’m here because of you,
and that innocent grin on your face.
Me and my students:
grasping at change,
devouring books.
Inevitably, we learn.

There is still much more to learn.
Some days I am desperate to see you,
to talk of books
and the music you’ll face.
The instruments change
in a song written by students.

Each day is awash in students
who learn,
and I enjoy the change.
I have walked with you,
and looked into your face.
Together, we write books.

The melody lingers as we close our books. We are students,
turning to face the challenge, to learn about ourselves.
When I think of you I smile, and that is my favorite change.

I won’t make too many apologies for the excessive schmaltz. (That’s just how I roll!) Just know that this poem was really only written to share with my middle schoolers, not for publication to the world. Oh well.

In other news, Diablo marathon is tomorrow. I am excited because I have been training hard recently, and I rarely go into a race without at least a little rest. I will definitely be doing this one on tired legs, and it will be interesting to see how it feels. I know I frequently say “it’s just a training run, I’m not really racing,” but then I have a hard time not pushing myself when I get there. Well, I’m still gonna say it: It’s just a training run! I have committed myself to the plan that every race before July is just a training run for TRT. So in order to hold myself to this, I put in some decent miles this week. My goals for tomorrow are to have fun, practice nutrition and hydration, socialize with other runners and remain uninjured. Oh, and get a good workout! My plan is to run it like an ultra, meaning walking on most of the up hills and not worrying about my time.

I got obsessive about checking the weather forecast for the area this week. NOAA’s prediction for Saturday at Diablo climbed from a high of 71 on Monday, to 90 by Wednesday. ACK! I’m still running in tights and gloves and a jacket up here. Even in the hottest days of summer it does not get up to 90 degrees in Truckee. Obviously I am not a heat runner. Actually, to say that I am not heat trained right now would be woefully understating the matter. Yesterday the forecast was back down to 86, but I just checked it and now they are saying 90 again. I’d better stop looking, I think I’m jinxing myself.

Given the elevation profile of the course, my tired legs, and the heat predicted for tomorrow, I am predicting my slowest marathon ever, which is just fine with me.

Oh, and tags for the six word memoir: Claire, Dean, Eric, Jessica and Eric. I hope none of you have been tagged already, and of course if you don't feel like playing, that's totally cool. I'm not offended!

Happy Trails everyone!


  1. "Started running; Now I have calves"

    - Dean

  2. Nice one Dean, I love it!

  3. Very nice poem Gretchen. And I'm not even a fan of poetry unless it's Robert Frost!

    Good luck tomorrow. You'll do great. I know what you mean about being competitive tho :) I'm sure you'll have a great time and I look forward to reading about it.

  4. Good luck at the marathon! I am totally aghast that you can run something like that and call it "a training run" and not "a suicide attempt".

    By the way, how would you compare a 50k to a road marathon in difficulty, how hard it is on your legs, mentally, etc. I'm looking at a 50k and wondering if I'm going crazy. (

    I'll try to do the 6-word thing, but it might take me a bit. I'm definitely not a poet like you.

  5. Ya got me with the tag! OK I'll play.

    Ran into a couple of women runners from Truckee at the Peterson Ridge Rumble. All I can remember is one was an office mgr. for a local chiropractor and the other was a statistician.


  6. Schmaltzy is still nice, and I no longer have patience for poems that are too difficult anyways. Plus, you didn't just do 6 words, but 6 stanzas, plus the bonus 7th, while I, slacker still have to respond to Catherine's tag. I'd congratulate you for your Diablo marathon but you still have to write up the report.