Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer Reads

If you haven't guessed by now, I love reading. Most English teachers don't, but I'm one of those weird ones...oh wait-I'm kidding. I have quite the stack ready to go, so here's my hopeful list for the summer.

1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
2. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer
3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
4. Chocolat by Joanne Harris
5. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
6. Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson
7. The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg
8. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
9. A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne
10. Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov
11. DriveThe Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
12. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Okay, I've got to go read. Summer's already over isn't it? Oops, I panicked. 

Happy reading!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

School's Out for Summer

I'm done! I don't know what I'll do not going into my classroom each day for a couple of months. All in all, it was a good year. I've learned more than I ever thought I would in one year of teaching. A new environment, new classes, and new students opened my eyes to a world I was not previously a part of. My AP students especially made this year even more special. I have such love for those particular students. Their brains amaze me. They challenged themselves, each other, and me every day. 

Even though it's the beginning of summer, I'm excited for the challenges of next year. I can't wait to meet new colleagues and students. School supplies are already starting to excite me! Weird, right? 

Happy summer 
happy reading
happy relaxation!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Perennial Poesy

Thinking Outside                                                                               

Bring the outside in.
Quite a catchphrase.
Tried with wire-stemmed
plastic blooms, electric outlets
smell like citrus
with rainforest dew,
potted greens wilted
floral prints and gas

Take yourself outside!
Not of the box.
No catchy slogans;
only feet that rustle leaves,
hair that smells like wind
and the surprising coolness
swirled with warmth which
creates chills that bump
more than frost and
ghost stories.

Originally written December 2006

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I'm Thankful For

my mom's Facebook post tonight.

"Walked across the dam tonight with my sweet husband, we saw a baby fox, four turkeys, two osprey, and a couple of baby osprey. God is good, and it was a perfect end to a stressful day!"

I'm thankful for the happiness and peace my parents have. It's special. It's hopeful. It's good.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summer Goals

One of the perks of being a teacher is summer vacation. It's really nice. There's no way around it. We get a sweet deal when it comes to vacation. I'm one week away from that magical time of freedom, and I've been thinking about what I want to do.

                                                                      Source: via Elif on Pinterest

Reading and writing-Summer days as a kid were spent crunchy from the sun and chlorine. Summer nights were spent anywhere else- Victorian England, Scarlett's Tara, New York, Paris, Yoknapatawpha County, or feverishly writing in a journal. I want to revisit those late late nights of stories and storytelling.
                                                                    Source: Uploaded by user via Alyssa on Pinterest

Time with the girls. Considering I've spent the majority of my waking hours in the last 10 months with people under the age of 18, it's time for some time with my favorites.

                                                                 Source: via Erin on Pinterest

Dream-It's a sad thing to say that I've been too tired to dream, but that's how I feel. I want to start dreaming and walking in those dreams. I don't want to wander or meander through unattended.

Monday, May 21, 2012

This Weekend

Source: via Kate on Pinterest

I left the house once this weekend to go to the grocery store. I didn't like it. Sometimes I wish I weren't an introvert. Happy Monday.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Perennial Poesy

"20 Poetry Projects"

They’re more like guidelines really.

Once upon a time

Aerosmith sang about colors
-my favorite- but
for different reasons.
Barbie caused my fascination.
She and Mr. Tyler look alike after
The boy next door, accidentally,
Mowed her with the lawn.

Once upon a time

That’s hot- Paris is worn
Out like an ugly stepsister.
I’m certain her feet
Would not fit- no matter
What Dolce and Gabbana say.

Once upon a time

While Jennifer Anniston, Lopez,
Garner are stalked
 Mercilessly by paparazzi-
I would walk out the back
Wearing borrowed jewels.
You would be glad I did it,
I know, if you were here.

Once upon a time

Kites and tails, elated
Flew in the innocent
Clouds, and ever present
With hugs you swept up my
Hunger with fun.
Hopin ’ and Prayin’
The windy sky tasted
Like fame.

Once upon a time

My eyes ate those bad words
You said,
With your ribbed frown
And blank stare,
But I touched my own
Dreams and told you
Shush! I looked into
The mirror and it smiled
And sprinkled my hopes
With burning desire

Once upon a time.

Originally written November 2005

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Career Gal

I changed my major at least 4 times in college. After one degree, I still didn't know what I wanted to do, so I shuffled around doing a few pretty random jobs. It was during the first of those random jobs that I started saying, "If I ever go back to school, I want to teach high school English." It was about two more years before I took the plunge and went to grad school. 

I did it. I'm teaching. I love it. It makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and rock back and forth. It makes my eyes bulge out bigger than I thought possible. It makes me learn new things every day. It makes me feel proud when my students show up after the biggest test of the year and tell me thank you and that they felt more prepared than they had thought and that all of the hard work was worth it-so proud.

I may not be a 25 year teacher. That's okay with me. I don't want to hand out worksheets and pick my teeth at my desk while the students work. Once I'm done, I want to be done. While I'm in, I want to be in and give it my all. Days like today make all of the eye bulging fetal positions worth it. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

5 Facts

I don't like Nicholas Sparks or Emily Giffin. I just don't. They're not my style. 
I do like Lifetime movies. Ironic, right?
I can say Harry Potter in an excellent Dobby voice. 
I like Twizzlers.
I always wear giant sunglasses.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Perennial Poesy

"Day at the Park"

Stars fade with
aged eyes, unnoticed
by concrete faces
staring downward
at cracks.

Glazed doughnut pupils
trapped freely by
nothing, mesmerized

Balloon sweeps overhead
tantalizingly- unaware –
while a young boy
chases it; bowl shaped
head lunging to reach
-out of grasp- his
trampoline hair-up and down-

Bench sitters on pause
do nothing – pale sight.

Sweat out the Dust of
Pixies and FLY!
FLY up and grab
the trampoline boy’s
refugee balloon!

Soon it will POP!
and its dust will
fall to the ground

Originally written April 2006

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Dear Mama,

Thanks for creating such a wonderful family.




A family full of love and silliness.




You're a true princess.
I love you. 
Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Day 10: Music to My Ears

My house is always filled with music. My husband plays his guitar almost every day. Tonight we were lucky enough to have the company of the other Bagley duo.




The iGuitar? 

It's great to have so much life singing throughout my little house. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Day 9: Fashion for Teachers

Last night my husband and I were watching the American Hipster video series that I posted about yesterday. While watching the first installment from Austin, the interviewee said something to the effect of the way you dress your body every day has a direct effect on the people around you. My sweet husband said, "That's what you do. The way you dress makes your students smile. They love it." (He learned this at the school event I posted about earlier this week.)

Even though I do try to put a lot of thought into what I wear each day, not until I started teaching did I notice the wardrobes of teachers having an effect on students. Last year, I wore the same pair of red Toms every Friday. My students noticed. Each Friday they started to look for those Toms. They loved it. If I slipped up and didn't wear them, they were genuinely disappointed. A couple of my students told my husband this weekend, "We have a conversation about what Mrs. Bagley's outfit will be every day before class."

 While I don't want my style to be any sort of distraction, I do think looking interesting and current can only have a positive effect on students. For some kids teachers are the only role models they have. Sometimes parents really suck. Sometimes they don't have parents. If students don't have a role model in all aspects of life, who are they going to look to? The easily accessible and attractive options (I'm thinking Hollywood here) are frankly frightening. So often teachers fall into a mock-able style category.There are very few professions that accept overall wearing, applique flashing, mismatched wardrobes. Unfortunately, these are stereotypes that are out in the world for a reason. They are far too often true. Why is that acceptable for teachers? I don't think it is. Even though teachers don't make a lot of money, work long hard hours, and deal with problems and paperwork that is unimaginable to many, we shouldn't discount ourselves as human beings. We're not robots that walk into a room to teach teenagers each day. We have personalities, style, and something in the way of intelligence to bring to the table. If we represent ourselves with those same qualities in mind, I think students and teachers will both benefit.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 8: Hipsters

My students have told me a lot of funny things about myself this year. Yesterday, I'm pretty sure I overheard one student asking another student if they thought I did acid. I don't, but I do make some crazy faces. Anyway, one of the most complimentary statements of the year was, "Mrs. Bagley, you're such a hipster." It sure beats the classic, "Mrs. Bagley, you don't match." When I asked for clarification I was told, "Them shoes are green and your shirt is blue." I guess they aren't reading fashion blogs....

After being called a hipster, I serendipitously stumbled upon a YouTube series on American Hipsters. The series presents short video studies over 5 weeks in 10 cities. Since the first city was San Francisco and I had just returned, I was particularly interested.  It's fascinating to see the different elements of success, creativity, zest for life, and style revealed in each video. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Workin' for the Weekend

Actually it was working on the weekend. Friday night my school held a Relay for Life event. The club I sponsor had a little booth to make some money for a good cause. It was a lot of fun, but my "darlings" had me put in JAIL! The prisoners had to beg and plead for donations for "bail." It was a great idea! It was actually pretty exciting to get arrested; there's a first time for everything, right? We managed to make it most of the night, but we all packed up around 3:30 a.m. 

My brother-in-law and his wife were in town from Utah/Argentina. We were so glad to see them! It's a shame that we can't see them more often, but who could keep up?!

If you ever venture down to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, you must try Taco Casa. 

We went to see The Avengers in 3D. Whoa, two hours of eye candy ladies that's all I have to say. Plus, I got to sit next to this handsome fella! You rock those 3D glasses!

I was still just a tad tired from staying up most of the night before, but after the movie we got some Mellow Mushroom pizza. Delicious...


You know, I really like this guy. 


I hope you all had wonderful weekends as well!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Perennial Poesy

Once upon a time I called myself a poet. As an undergraduate student at the University of Alabama I studied creative writing. Short stories and poems were in constant ebb and flow. I miss it. I miss writing poetry.

One of the reasons I started blogging originally was to share stories. Well, once a week I'd like to share some poetry with you. This new series has been dubbed "Perennial Poesy." Maybe it will become a springboard for new poems. I'm also hoping for some reader submissions. Come on, y'all; write some poetry! I can't imagine anything more appropriate for a blog whose title was inspired by a poem.

This first installation is one of my poems from my undergrad days. I hope you enjoy!


Swimming along I think,
(there are dragons underneath)
but forgetfully arms slash
through in forced continuum.

Dragons were real, but never
fell off the flat edge-
much too wise- perceiving
the roundness in the earth, womb.

No one notices the movement,
rolling underground, untouched.
We are too focused on Giant Squids
to notice the tentacles latching
on to our limbs

Originally written March 2006

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Day 5: Wish List

 I wish for new experiences and opportunities.
 I wish for the time to finish a book.
I wish for eagerness and intention.
I wish happiness for my family-present and future.
I wish for as many breaths as it takes.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Day 4: DIYish

I'm obsessed with salsa. I seriously can't get enough of it. The cold, smooth delightfully spicy concoction piled on top of a nice salty chip makes me so freaking happy. However, I have had a bit of an issue finding a good store bought salsa as satisfying as the restaurant masterpiece. Thank the good Lord for Pinterest. The answer always lies among those digital inspirations.

This stuff is so good. It's easy to make, so you can Do It Yourself. You can find the recipe here

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Day 3: It's Nice to Meet You

One of my favorite aspects of blogging is "meeting" new people, hearing stories that are incredibly similar or starkly different than what I'm used to, finding challenges and inspiration, and taking chances. I think I could even call myself a bit of an addict. Almost each time I hop online to browse my favorite blogs or scour Pinterest for new ideas, I find a new blog that I HAVE to follow. Last week I bumped into a little blog written by Hannah J. Holmes. Hannah writes about her love for stories, ballet, and family. I was immediately captured. Considering one of my childhood heroes was Angelina Ballerina (Seriously, I loved that adorable little mouse.), it is not surprising that her ballet posts drew me in. I hope you'll head over and check out her blog. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Tomorrow is Friday! This time of year it's a big deal. We are counting down the days until summer around here!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Day 2: Body and Style

I'm one of those people with a curvy body. I always have been. There have been times (more than I care to admit) that I have been angry, sad, frustrated, and frankly in tears over my body. I'm working on loving it. Anyway more on body image later, let's get to style. I was born in the 80s, grew up in the 90s, survived my teenage years and entered adulthood in the new millennium. (Thank goodness we survived Y2K, y'all.) As a kid my mom had to strip new shoes off of my feet when I fell asleep in them. The early 90s brought folded neon socks paired with lace trimmed bike shorts. My awkward years (don't act like you didn't have those) were filled with braces, the early years of American Eagle and County Seat(remember that store?). During high school, J.Lo was my inspiration. Luckily, I've developed new fashion icons- Audrey Hepburn, Kate Middleton, Rachel Bilson, and more bloggers than I could name inspire my wardrobe choices. (Don't worry I'm still Kate from the block.) My wardrobe is constantly evolving and with my mom and sisters escalating to fashionista status-I've no choice but to keep up. 
My wardrobe has seen some serious moments in fashion. One cannot experience the essence of what the decades of my life have held fashion wise without a few pictures. (Forgive the quality. My sweet sister got down an old scrapbook and took iPad photos of photos because I live several hours away. Thanks, sis!)

Mom did an excellent job with this adorable number. I was pretty cute if I do say so myself.

I've always loved a good birthday celebration. I'm thinking this is around 1992? Love the baby doll and sailor inspired outfit. Still rockin' the pink!

Obviously a little older and more sophisticated in black shorts-still loving the Keds with rolled down socks look. 

On trend with color blocking!

Let the awkward years begin! I'm thinking I was 14ish. Love the sweaty bangs and bow look. 
8th grade 70s themed dance. Be there.

Horizontal striped American Eagle sweater-this was the day I got my braces off. 

J. Lo was my hero.

Looking a little preppy in the cheerleader uniform

Yes, that is the friend I went to see in California. We were so excited to graduate from high school. We had no clue. 

Freshman year of college-The hubs and I had just been dating a little while. I actually still love this dress. It totally wouldn't fit anymore, but I love it. 

My much more recent style: 


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Day 1: Retrospective

I've been blogging on and off since 2009 when I was midway through graduate school and yearning for some glamour. Last year I decided to start Good Fences after reading one of my favorite Robert Frost poems. The poem discusses boundaries, traditions, and relationships-doesn't blogging do the same? It seemed the perfect marriage. Blogging has followed me through finishing grad school, finding a little glamour, substitute teaching, full-time teaching, a little travel, and a lot of fun. Blogging has challenged me to learn new skills (HTML anybody?), form new hobbies (photography), hone my writing skills, and reach out to strangers. Which is a big deal- I'm naturally quite the introvert who proudly quotes Emily Dickinson's "I'm Nobody." As you've probably noticed, I love literature and poetry. They are truly my first loves. I basically picked up a book when I was little and never stopped reading. There is nothing more natural to me than getting lost in the story of another world, time, place, or life. Anybody surprised I like blogging? I'm not. I hope you'll stick around for a bit. There might be something worth reading.