Best. Final. Ever.

So I gave my creative-writing final this week. That class has only three students, so instead of giving a conventional final, I walked in yesterday, handed each kid a Barbie doll, and gave them their choice of three writing prompts involving a sentient Barbie.

Prompt 1: Barbie lives in a Dream House owned by a 9-year-old girl with affluent parents and a bad habit of losing small objects. Barbie has several housemates who may or may not be sentient. She has a crush on one, and another is incredibly annoying. She has access to a Corvette, Jeep, and RV. Despite her luxurious surroundings, Barbie is dissatisfied with her life and has resorted to unhealthy coping mechanisms. She views the 9-year-old as a destructive monster, benevolent deity, or obnoxious landlady (your choice).

Prompt 2: Barbie lives in a crude dollhouse lovingly constructed from a cardboard box by her owner, a precocious 9-year-old girl from a working-class family. Barbie is the girl’s only store-bought toy; everything else is a hand-me-down, yard-sale find, or something homemade. Despite her meager surroundings, Barbie is satisfied with her life. She and the child are each other’s only friend. Barbie wants to help the child, who is being mistreated, but is hampered by the limitations of being a plastic doll.

Prompt 3: Barbie is living rough in a city alley after falling out of a dumpster that was being emptied into a garbage truck. Once a 4-year-old girl’s favorite toy, she was separated from her owner through some tragedy and is now fending for herself. She either desperately misses the child or is grateful to be rid of her. She is in mortal danger from some threat. She has no survival skills and is learning on the fly, acquiring or creating her own shelter and other necessities in whatever way you deem appropriate for a small plastic doll.

I’m not sure this prompt would have worked with another group, but these girls are clever, caustic, and fully capable of turning Barbie’s perfect pink fantasy world into a biting commentary on modern capitalism, a dystopian hellscape, or an existential nightmare.

They’re supposed to be turning in their final drafts tomorrow. I cannot WAIT to read them. I’ve promised the girls that anybody who makes an A on the final gets to keep her Barbie, so they are MOTIVATED.

Emily

Standing porter

What a year.  I’ll have some updates on my goings-on once school is out, but today, I just want to share the most valuable thing I’ve done in a while:

I deleted my Twitter account.

I’ve been considering it for years. There are a few people I really enjoy following on there, but most of the time, reading good content on Twitter is like bobbing for apples in a cesspool: You’re ingesting an awful lot of crap for a pretty unimpressive ROI.

For me, the last straw came when I looked at a thread containing 40 comments and realized at least 35 of them had been posted by what appeared to be fake accounts created for the sole purpose of harassing women and minorities. When I realized I’d blocked and reported 39 suspected fake accounts in the span of 48 hours, with zero response from Twitter, I made a decision: If that number reached 50 before I got a satisfactory response, I was done.

Amusingly, the 49th and 50th accounts I reported were fake accounts with single-digit follower counts that popped up to troll me for calling out fake accounts with single-digit follower counts.

How meta.

I set up my Twitter account in 2008, but I didn’t really use it heavily until I took a job doing social media for a hotel in Tulsa in 2012. I learned some useful things from the people I encountered online, but I find it interesting that in the past seven years, my health has gone to hell in a handbasket.

This might be a coincidence.

I doubt it.

Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously.”

I used to do that. And I used to feel a lot better than I do right now.

Probably not a coincidence.

Emily