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Chattin' with Chapin

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Chattin' with Chapin

Rated: 3.01 / 5 | 1,982 listing views Chattin' with Chapin Blogging Fusion Blog Directory

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  • Andrew Chapin
  • October 13, 2014 07:03:32 PM
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A Little About Us

Chattin' with Chapin is a blog focused on writing and the writing process both from the perspective of an aspiring fiction writer and a teacher who teaches it every day to middle school students. The blog also includes updates on author Andrew Chapin's nonfiction book From Tragedy to Triumph and teasers to the coming-of-age fiction novel Knowing When You're Too Young to Grow Up.

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Gone Away for Now

With the need to focus on the academic close of what’s been a year no one will ever forget in addition to a few specific projects demanding all of my attention, I will be stepping away from the blog for the foreseeable future. A million thanks and a million more for all of your support,...

With the need to focus on the academic close of what’s been a year no one will ever forget in addition to a few specific projects demanding all of my attention, I will be stepping away from the blog for the foreseeable future.

Drawing courtesy of Noah Vicencio, one of my truly best students

A million thanks and a million more for all of your support, even the spam.

Be safe, look out for each other, and never give up your fight.

Bye for now, not forever,

Andrew


Taking the Time To Remember

If this self-isolation has granted us as humans anything, it’s time. Time to remember, time to reflect, time to reconnect – time, the one universal commodity that nobody ever seemed to have enough of. Until now. Now, we have more time than we know what to do with, and with so many fewer activities to...

I recall this shot, which is the beginning of our trek. Photo courtesy of Jim Rapp

If this self-isolation has granted us as humans anything, it’s time. Time to remember, time to reflect, time to reconnect – time, the one universal commodity that nobody ever seemed to have enough of.

Until now.

Now, we have more time than we know what to do with, and with so many fewer activities to actually do.

Gone are the days of commuting.

Gone are the days of brunch at your favorite local spot.

Gone are the days of social obligations (and being able to make up excuses to get out of them).

Yet, all of that has been replaced, time giving way to time, just now consumed in different ways.

Longer phone conversations or FaceTimes.

Longer scheduled Zoom calls with friends and family you’ve never talked to so much.

More and more emails and chats with people you haven’t thought about in years, yet people who at one point in your life were important for whatever reason.

I’ve never been good at keeping in touch or maintaining past relationships. I’ve reasoned over the years that as much as I revel in the memories of times not forgotten – simply filed away for the day when a scent or glimpse or an old name or voice conjures them again – I very much live in the present.

And I think I put the past I had with people out of mind selfishly to avoid the feeling that keeping up with them has become a chore to stave off decay. I like to think about the past in a more positive sense, though, letting the memories age in a dignified, respected way; at least that’s how I always think about – not necessarily concerned with how people are doing; more what we had and how good it was.

I recently took a trip down memory lane with the leader of my Philmont expedition Jim Rapp who reached out to me after nearly 20 years. Philmont, a Boy Scout reservation in Cimarron, New Mexico that spans thousands of miles, remains one of the most formative experiences of my life.

Catching up with Jim, saying the names of guys I had not thought about in well over a decade, recapitulating memories so distant they could’ve been someone else’s reminded me of a much simpler time.

Before jobs.

Before mortgages.

Before families.

Before Covid.

When there was a destination and a goal – hiking over 80 miles miles in 110+ degree heat with a thirty pound pack over the course of 10 days – and that was it.

What a time to be alive that was.

Be better than me. Reach out to someone from the past. You’ll be surprised how much hope it’ll give for the future – for both of you.


Quarantine Weeks 7 & 8 Consumption Recap

The Quarantine Weeks 7 & 8 Consumption Recap continues my push to stay sane chronicling our food and entertainment consumption habits as we embark on Week 9 of self-isolation. What’s really been a game-changer has been the air fryer. How have we lived without it? It’s worth it just for the homemade french fries alone!...

The Quarantine Weeks 7 & 8 Consumption Recap continues my push to stay sane chronicling our food and entertainment consumption habits as we embark on Week 9 of self-isolation.

What’s really been a game-changer has been the air fryer. How have we lived without it? It’s worth it just for the homemade french fries alone!

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights:

Saturday, May 2 Breakfast – Bacon, egg, and cheese on a hard roll & ham, egg, and cheese – eggs over medium, pepper and ketchup, just like at plaza deli, though not as good without that filthy griddle.

Monday, May 4 Lunch – Chicken salad with cranberries – Kirkland canned chicken for the win, with chopped onion and celery, some frozen cranberries, basic seasoning, and a little bit of mayo (you just need get over that it’s chicken in a can and if you eat tuna fish, you’re not above this)

Sunday, May 10 Lunch – Homemade falafel and chicken pita – hit the chicken with heavy garlic, parsley and cumin, which was all I had to work with from a spice standpoint – coriander and sage would’ve been helpful. As for the falafel, they came out like little dry cakes since I tried to roll them in bread crumbs without first rolling them through an egg first – straight foolish, I know better.

Sunday, May 10 Dinner – Air-fried chicken wings – olive oil, rosemary, and garlic and that’s it!

Wednesday, May 13 Dinner – Lemon garlic shrimp with spinach and tomato sauteed in garlic and olive oil over black bean pasta – though I would normally hit this with a splash of white wine, we ran out – whoops! Still, there was enough juice from the water emitted from the tomato and spinach to make a nice, light sauce.

Friday, May 15 Dinner – Chicken parmesan with black bean pasta and side salad – air-fried chicken cutlet, Rao’s sauce, a little parmesan cheese and some cut up mozzarella – can’t possibly screw that up.

Sunday, May 17 Dinner – Side dish highlight: Pinto beans, quinoa and brown rice, and diced peppers and onions – no seasoning, just all the juices working together to make for a tasty side that really didn’t go with the dinner, which was a chicken caesar wrap, otherwise known as the Emilie.

Regular TV Watching:

The Last Dance – finished it last night. There’s a reason why he’s the greatest. This just reminded everyone who might have forgotten or never had the chance witness it while it was happening. And why does it always seem past generations are so much tougher than the generations that come after?

Goldbergs – still crushing it.

Blacklist – still a bore, though thankfully it’s done for the foreseeable future.

Reading:

Still plugging away at The Rules of Civility. I’m getting on a morning reading schedule because I’ve finally given up on actually reading more than two pages before bed. At the rate I was going, I’d be reading that book till September.

Looking forward to getting into The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – hopefully, it doesn’t take me two months to read each of those, or it’ll actually be September!


Teaching Humbled

I’ve certainly been humbled by this pandemic and gained a new respect for anyone who works from home on the regular, engages in video conferences for multiple hours, has to jump from one task to the next, and generally has a hectic schedule every day of their lives. Much respect! Teaching from the other side...

I’ve certainly been humbled by this pandemic and gained a new respect for anyone who works from home on the regular, engages in video conferences for multiple hours, has to jump from one task to the next, and generally has a hectic schedule every day of their lives. Much respect!

Teaching from the other side of a computer screen neither offers the same fulfillment or the same type of progress you see teaching in the classroom – far from it. Yet, it’s given me some useful insights into myself:

I’ve noticed that my eye is SUPER lazy, so even more power to my wife than I gave her previously!

My widow’s peak is also getting deeper and deeper as my hair gets grayer.

My voice and delays and word fumbles, simply put -woof!

And, I already knew this, but it’s further confirmed that I talk far too much.

So many teachers have had to reinvent themselves to connect with their students, learning new educational platforms and applications and making videos like the one above that only a fraction of your students actually can access and teaching LIVE lessons to so many blank screens.

That’s the job, though, right? Figuratively, there are blank screens when we’re in the classroom. You just have to keep trying and trying and trying and every one in a while, another screen turns on.

One stupid, humbling YouTube video at a time.


That New New Normal

Nearly eight weeks since I’ve seen my students in the classroom. Nearly eight weeks since I’ve had a social interaction with someone. Nearly eight weeks and who knows when we will be able to sit down and have dinner with people we love who don’t live with us. Or grab a cocktail anywhere but in...

Nearly eight weeks since I’ve seen my students in the classroom.

Nearly eight weeks since I’ve had a social interaction with someone.

Nearly eight weeks and who knows when we will be able to sit down and have dinner with people we love who don’t live with us.

Or grab a cocktail anywhere but in front of a computer screen.

Or give someone a hug and a kiss (other than my wife, of course).

Or take a subway.

Or go to a movie.

Or not have wipe down our groceries.

Or do anything and feel safe again.

I think that’s the hardest part about the new new normal. What it is, nobody knows yet. Because what’s next, no one’s really sure.

When you think about the Coronavirus and the current lockdown in New York state, you’re consumed by this bleak feeling. Why get out of bed? Why take a shower? Why put pants on? Why push through work? Why do much of anything at all besides curl up on the chase lounge and stare at the television?

And it’s easy to feel that way since there really is nothing to look forward to in the immediate. By that, I mean nearly every social engagement for at least the next six months has been canceled (unless you’re in a state with a governor who does not understand statistics or expert advice or facts). You’re likely not going on a vacation unless it’s in a car and then what? You get there and have to quarantine for two weeks – yeah, sure.

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been fighting with myself over that purposeless, hopeless feeling. It’s been a long time since I felt that way – probably since junior year at Fairfield. And those were dark days.

I started climbing out of that hole when I started talking candidly about how I was feeling, which in truth, isn’t always easy for me. I talked to my wife, my parents, my colleagues, my friends, and even my writing partner, Foday Samateh.

And I think those conversations really grounded me. They put this self-isolation in perspective – not in the sense of others have it much worse than you do, because while that’s true, that doesn’t necessarily give you hope.

No, what those conversations did remind me of was that I can make the most of this. I can set goals for myself, work on projects, do what I can do in this situation instead of dwelling on what I can’t.

You have to get there first, though, struggling with how life was and how it is now before you come to this realization: while Pandora’s Box might be open unleashing all the ugliness, there’s still hope somewhere in that box too.

Keep it alive by making that phone call, writing that letter, sending that text or email, saying hey in person from a social distance, cheering on essential workers, making a donation or helping out a charity – anything to improve someone’s life.

Challenge yourself to be better than you were before even if you might not have a reason to do it.

If anything else, this is an opportunity to improve. You just have to stop fighting for what life used to be – what you still want it to be – so you can start to plan for what life will be whenever you can live it again.


Quarantine Mondays Be Like

Quarantine Mondays be like a bathrobe, a shave that should’ve happened last week, a little Kramer and a whole lot of balding. Happy Monday – hope you make it better looking than this! If you haven’t checked out what we’ve been consuming, check it out here: Week 5&6 Consumption Recap Week 4 Consumption Recap Week 3...

Quarantine Mondays be like a bathrobe, a shave that should’ve happened last week, a little Kramer and a whole lot of balding.

Happy Monday – hope you make it better looking than this!

If you haven’t checked out what we’ve been consuming, check it out here:


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