Friday, December 14, 2012


            There was an air of somberness today at my daughters’ school. It was as if each of us picking up our children for the day was afraid to even look too closely at one another. Afraid to say that we were the lucky ones with children to take home from school today. I learned early today of the tragedy in Connecticut from a coworker, and it didn’t take long for the rumor mill to start and later for the actual events to unfold to our collective horror.
I am a mother, of course, but I am also a teacher and so this hit me on multiple levels.  As a teacher, I go through preparedness training - where to go and what to do in the unlikely chance that something like this happens. In the event of many different emergencies, I have been trained on whom to call, where to go, when to sit still and just protect my children to the best of my ability. It’s something we talk about at staff meetings and never think will actually happen on our watch. Today it happened on the watch of many elementary school teachers, and my first thoughts were about what that might have been like. I have already heard the myriad opinions on gun control, and I will just say that today (or any day for that matter) I have never, ever thought about being armed myself as a way to protect the children in my care. That’s all I can say about that. What I think about first is what we all do as teachers daily to keep kids safe: free from scraped knees, hurt feelings,  tumbles on the playground. Not protecting them from an insane gunman. I just can’t…
            As a mother, the first thing I wanted to do when I heard this news was run to get my children. My instinct to shelter them and protect them translated into my giving my students lots of extra hugs this afternoon – something I hope my own children’s teachers did for them. The thought of sending my children to school in the morning and not seeing them ever again started to cross my mind and it took me to a place so dark I just couldn’t think about it again.
I had memories of 9/11 this afternoon – of the morning we watched a tragedy unfold and were told from afar that a loved one might have been on that first plane. I had memories of the not knowing – of the thought that someone completely out of our control (someone out of control in general) could come in and take away someone so precious. So many precious someones were taken today and when I see senseless tragedy like this, I am always reminded of what it felt like that on that Tuesday morning in September.  It’s true. Today I was a lucky one. I picked my children up today and I held them close. I told them each how much I love them, as, I’m certain, did many other parents. But my thoughts keep going to those parents who won’t ever have that opportunity again.
A friend of mine reminded me of this Fred Rogers quote, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”  I’m so glad I saw this because it has been what kept me going today. There are helpers out there. I am a helper…and I would guess that you are, too.  We all just need reminders that there are more people who are kind and loving and who want to keep our kids safe than there are crazed lunatics who will harm them.  I know this goes without saying, but I hope you hug your children. Tell them you love them. Then, hug and tell them a second time for all of the parents in Connecticut who won’t ever have that chance again.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

the one where you begin to judge me.

About 10 years ago I was awakened by a phone call from my mother. It was not a particularly pleasant call…it was one in which I was called a variety of names. It was the pinnacle of what I consider the end of my already strained relationship with my mom. I remember thinking as I sat in bed after she hung up on me that mothers aren’t supposed to treat their children in that way, ever. Ever.  Today my mother lives in an assisted living facility. She is 67, which I think we all can agree is too young to be living in a home. She has had a multitude of health issues, including small strokes and some sort of dementia, or so we’ve been told. I tell the story about the phone call because I think it’s important to the end of this story…I have not seen my mother in five years.

No one tells you what it is going to be like to not have a relationship with your mom.  How, when mother’s day comes around (or any holiday for that matter) no one makes a card to fit the situation. No one tells you what it will feel like to hear your friends discuss their own mothers as you all sit together around the dinner table…you won’t know how to participate in that part of the conversation. No one tells you that having your own daughters will only complicate all of these emotions. No one tells you what a tug of war you will continue to play between what you should be feeling and how you really do feel. This is a struggle I have constantly. I hated my mom. I hated her for everything she did, or did not do. I hated her for choices she made when her mental capacity was normal. Now I don’t know how to feel…and I hate that.

I haven’t been writing for myself for a number of reasons.  The first is that I’m just too busy. Between my family and school and work and just trying to keep my head above water there is just no time. And yet, when I don’t write, I lose a bit of myself. I process things through writing, and lately I have had a lot to process without the outlet of putting it down on paper. I battle anxiety. Huge amounts of anxiety. Anxiety that comes like a tsunami and sticks around the pushes its way into the deepest corners of my being. Probably that is in my genes, too.  In the past weeks the anxiety has been nearly too much to bear. It is sparked by stuff I can’t control, and then it just hangs around, weasles its way in, and makes itself comfortable. I hate it and I am working hard to control it.

Tonight as I was talking to my mother in our weekly scheduled phone call (don’t ask) I began share my experience with anxiety with her. It was quiet on the other end and I continued to tell her what I’d been feeling, thinking maybe she might give me some insight into how my genetics play into what I’ve been experiencing. Despite my mother’s dementia diagnosis, she is always very lucid and clear-headed when we talk, sometimes remembering things I can’t, which can be very confusing for me. When I got to the last part about how I’m finally going to talk to a therapist about my anxiety, she said, “huh.” Just like that. Like I had told her that I was wearing a blue coat. Huh. I ate Cheetos today. Huh. Tomorrow it will be sunny. Huh.

I honestly don’t know how to end this. Everything I’ve written, I have erased because I just sound like a giant asshole. Maybe no one tells you how it will feel when you just don’t want to care anymore, either.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Today has run the gamut between really great and really, really terrible - maybe not in that order. I began the day in a heap on the floor. Honestly. After my children left for school I decided to read my cousin Amanda’s blog post about 9/11 which was both wonderful and thoughtful and so very, very hard for me to remember through her writing.  It’s pretty much the same every year – I brace for this day to come and then I relive September 11, 2001 in brief segments throughout the day all the while trying to avoid any TV news.  I generally hate this day, and twice now in the past several years I’ve had Writing Project events held on September 11th.  My Writing Project friends have become like a second family to me, so tonight I was really looking forward to being with them.
Because tonight was a “guest night” for people interested in going through next summer’s summer institute, my friend Melanie presented her inquiry workshop so that people could get a little taste of what we do in the SI. One of the activities she had us do was something called “blackout poetry”.  We were to take a piece of writing and black out (or use a marker to cover) words we didn’t need – making a poem, of sorts. The original piece of writing we used was this Nobel Prize lecture by Elie Wiesel. I came up with a piece that I really liked – here it is:

humanity dominated the universe.
the very laws of nature had evolved.
bear witness to dignity,
listen, believe, and comprehend.
the strength to rebuild is possible.

We all shared our “poems” and we talked a bit about the words we chose. While we were sharing, my friend Scot took my paper, crossed out the original title “Hope, Despair and Memory” and simply wrote, “9/11”.  He handed it back to me and it nearly took my breath away. I wasn’t prepared for it, I guess. He whispered to me, “well, this has obviously been on your mind and I figured you were writing about it.”
I wasn’t. But I kind of love that someone thought these lovely words would come from my angry heart. I mostly thought that Wiesel’s writing was so awful…such a terrible comment on humanity that I had to change or at least make it more positive. I suppose it’s also a comment on today as well.  I hadn’t thought about it like that, but I’m glad someone else did. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

the day before the day

Tomorrow is the first day of school for my girls. Zoe will be starting kindergarten and Lucy will be a second grader. I could do the “where has the time gone?!” rant (which I’m doing internally, of course) or, I could share with you what happened at bedtime tonight. We try to read with the girls every night. Most nights we are pretty good about it, and tonight we read three books.  Three! (it's been a crazy week, three seems pretty astounding)  During A Bargain for Francis, Lucy leaned over and said, “man, that Thelma is rude.” I love that kid – she said exactly what I was thinking, only was way nicer about it. And then we read The Giving Tree.  I’ve read that book a ton of times and yet suddenly tonight I had some sort of epiphany about it. Perhaps I’m late to this party and you’re all like, “really? You’re JUST NOW getting that?” but I realized tonight that the tree is metaphor for parents.

I know.

I got all teary while reading because it occurred to me that this is my job. This letting go.  I raise my children to the point where I have to let someone else educate them as well. I must let them go in order for them to come back. It’s silly really, and I suppose I’m being a little over the top here.  But, as my girls head back for another year of school – the first where they are BOTH in grade school – I can’t help but to know how that tree feels. I’ve given my body to house theirs, my sleep to nurse them, my sanity to mother two children under two years apart. And in turn, they keep coming back for more. I want money. I want a house. I want a boat to go away from you. Someday, I know that they won’t want as much time with me, just like the boy and the tree – that they will have their own friends and need their own space. I see some of that happening already and it nearly takes my breath away. No houses or boats yet, but it’s all the same, really.

Tonight as I watched those two little sweet peas sleeping I could only think about how once I thought I might not make it through long, sleepless nights with them. Tonight I thought about how those little people are heading out into the world tomorrow. I like to think that even at five and seven they are pretty amazing and funny and smart and ready for whatever tomorrow holds. That, or they will teach their fellow students all about zombies and the Lord of the Rings and everyone will like them for that.  Either way, I think they are safe…it’s me I’m worried about. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

sweet feet

This is a piece of writing I did this week while I was working with the Independence School District during their advanced writing institute. We were studying informative and expository writing and the assignment was to write a letter to an inanimate object.

Dear feet,
Most people think you’re gross. You may even stink. Not me. I want to thank you for carrying me. For walking. For running. But mostly for dancing. Your ten toes leapt, step-ball-changed and pirouetted me through my formative years and I just wanted to say thank you. It’s true, along the way you gave me your share of grief: blisters, missing toenails, arches that ached until they had to be iced. Your toes were taped, band-aided and wrapped so that you could fully support my body and I could take the stage. Together we traveled, to Minnesota, Florida, Omaha, St. Louis, New York and to Spain. Your toes danced on many stages in two different countries and on two different continents. I’m no geographer, but I think that’s pretty amazing.

Today your duties have been mostly retired. There are no band-aids, no missing toenails, no wrapped arches to get me through the day. The only dancing you do is with two young girls on the living room rug – a much different stage indeed. But you still support me – you stand firmly and plant my legs on your toes and heels. You are the roots that ground me, and the strength that holds my back, damaged from all those years of dancing, in place. Thank you. Thank you for taking me places I could not have seen as easily without you: school, my job, down the aisle, into the delivery room for both of my girls, to New York and San Francisco, to Minneapolis and Dallas, to weddings and funerals and parties and games and even once to Tijuana...I’m sorry about that one.  

I hope I do you the same service you’ve done me by dressing you in the fanciest shoes (I really do have a problem with that, I’m trying) – by painting those 10 toenails I once had such a time keeping ON you. I hope that I can take care of you the way you have continued to take care of me.  I tried to thank you once before with the tattoo on the left one of you. It’s in my grandfather’s handwriting and reminds me to be as strong as you have been for me. It continues to be a reminder of your strength…of our strength. I think you are amazing and I don’t tell you nearly as often as I should. Thank you for all that you do. I will do my best to see that you continue to hold me up for years and years and years to come.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I went in seeking clarity...

Tonight I went with one of my very best friends to see my first Indigo Girls concert. There were a lot of jokes pre-concert. Should we wear overalls? What about Birkenstocks?  All joking aside? It was amazing. I thought, as I was standing there just a stone’s throw from the stage, about how much those two women have been a part of my life through their music. Big things in my life have always had Emily and Amy as the soundtrack. I first heard them sing when I was in 8th or 9th grade. My friend Nicki gave me the tape (sigh…yes) of their self-titled album – not their first, but the first of many. As they belted out Closer to Fine tonight I looked around and watched the crowd.  Julie and I were laughing about how every single person in the room was singing. Everyone knew every single word.  That song, for whatever reason, connects with so many people on different levels, a bit of a coming of age song, maybe. I remember it as the song my stepbrother David and I bonded over when he came to one of many house parties I had when I lived with the boys. I was probably 23 and he was still in high school. He would come over with his guitar and we would sit on the back porch drinking cheap keg beer and singing. I’m sorry, Dave, I had to.
Before that, when I was an angsty 17-year-old, I took a mix tape to the first boy I loved. I made him listen to the song Ghost because I felt like it was written for us and he was leaving for the Marine Corps (angst…see?). He listened to it. And then he took my virginity. I apologize to whomever that offends, I had to tell that one, too.  It’s just another part of my story. I was most sad that they didn’t play Ghost tonight. Because even after all those years, I still hold fond memories of that song and all that went along with it. Earlier that same summer, the Rites of Passage CD was the soundtrack to my trip to Spain. Whenever I hear the song Joking I'm taken back to boarding the airplane to come back to the states and how saaaaaaad I was to leave that experience behind. 
When I was 25, I lived with Julie and Kathy, two of the most amazing women I know. We often had the Indigo Girls playing in the house. The fireplace in our living room was the stage for many, many impromptu performances throughout our time there. Some days you just need to break out in song – and you need a stage and friends who will laugh and sing right along with you.  They opened the show tonight with Least Complicated and midway through played Power of Two, both of which brought tears to my eyes because of all that came flooding back.  In fact, at one point Julie and I couldn’t even look at each other and later we talked about how many memories those songs held for us at such an important crossroads in our lives.
Music does that to people – it makes us remember. It makes us think. I’m so glad I finally got to see those two women perform – it couldn’t have come at a better time for me. In some ways I feel like I’m at another important crossroads in my life. My kids are getting older. I’m midway through grad school. I need to decide once again what I want to be when I grow up. Hearing these words tonight gave me comfort during a week where my heart really needed it: “we’re okay, we’re fine, baby I’m here to stop your crying. Chase all the ghosts from your head, I’m stronger than the monster beneath your bed; smarter than the tricks played on your heart…” Thanks, Amy and Emily, for once again giving reassurance to this girl through your music.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

school's out for summahhhhh!!

Summer has officially begun at the W house. This weekend has included a new grill and copious amounts of barbeque, bringing out the girls' backyard pool, drinks with friends on the patio and dinner with good friends inside where it was much cooler sitting on our new dining room chairs! I haven't had time to write lately, or at least I've not given myself time. I'm hoping to change that soon. The girls will be in summer "camp", I am taking two classes this summer, and I am only teaching two days a week, which will seem like a huge vacation.  Really, I just wanted to say that I haven't forgotten about this blog and the 5 people who read it. OH! Also? My hairs are growing! See? That is all. Carry on.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

willing to be disturbed

Last night I hung out with some very amazing friends. The conversation is always good with these people, and it ranged from standardized testing to The Beastie Boys to hoarding. Somehow those things are connected, I’m certain. Late in the evening, my friend Katie began to tell us about her elderly next-door neighbor and how she was a hoarder. She has since moved out of the house, and her children come by once in a while, but the home is not being lived in (by humans, anyway).  We all laughed a bit, I imagine we all were thinking about the TV shows we’ve seen, those unbelievably sad and yet totally scary depictions of people who can’t seem to throw things out. Then, my friend asked us if we wanted to see the place – the neighbor didn’t live there after all, and the door was unlocked.  I felt a bit like a 12 year old again, creeping through someone’s yard in the middle of the night, flashlight apps ablaze (well, that part was not like being 12, but you get the picture). And then we got to the side door, which, as predicted, was easy to open.
Never. Never in my entire life have I seen anything like this place. My friend Paul was brave enough to step inside and look around – and when I say step inside, I mean that Paul stepped up on top of the largest pile of papers, wrappers, food cartons and general junk that I’ve ever seen. Tin plates from pot-pies, baby items, newspapers, all things that this person could not bear to part with.  I was reminded of the Shel Silverstein poem "Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout" who would not take the garbage out. We were all clearly stunned by what we saw, and there was a lot of nervous laughter as we got out of there. Afterwards, I came home and thought about it until I fell asleep. And I woke up thinking about it. 
People intrigue me. Human beings are strange, strange creatures. I mean, I do understand that hoarding doesn’t just happen on its own. There are likely a variety of underlying issues that manifest in hoarding, but seeing it with my own eyes really shook me. The reasons that a person behaves a certain way, or doesn’t behave a certain way for that matter, are constantly a topic of conversation at my house. It’s not judging, really. Maybe it is. I just think that when we stop questioning things, or being surprised by things, we lose part of our humanity. Was that what happened to the woman who used to live in that house? What do her children do in there when they come by, as my friend suggests they do?  Was it always like that? These questions kept me awake last night.
Yesterday at a Writing Project gathering, we read an essay by Margaret Wheatley titled “Willing to be Disturbed.” It’s a piece I’ve read several times and each time I revisit it, something strikes me differently. Today I thought about Wheatley’s words while I was processing what I'd witnessed. Wheatley writes, “Lately, I’ve been listening for what surprises me…when I notice what surprises me, I’m able to see my own views more clearly, including my beliefs and assumptions. Noticing what surprises and disturbs me has been a very useful way to see invisible beliefs. If what you say surprises me, I must have been assuming that something else was true…my shock at your position exposes my own position…these moments are great gifts. If I can see my beliefs and assumptions, I can decide whether I still value them.”  My beliefs and assumptions about human nature were challenged last night. Once the laughing and joking were over, I became very aware of how that experience made me feel. And frankly, I’m not certain I like to think so deeply about why people do the things they do. It’s scary stuff.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

oh, hi.

I don’t have any time anymore for ANYTHING. No time to write, no time to spend on anything but family, school, work, laundry, cooking, cleaning (this one is debatable) and stressing over the overwhelmingly full calendar. So…I thought I would give you an update on the past month or so. Here’s roughly what’s happened:
·      I listened to my children fight. A LOT. I heard things like, “you’re not my sister anymore! Get out of this house!” and, “you treat Zoe like she’s 10 and I’m the baby!” Also, the ass-kissing has begun. When one child is in trouble, the other has learned the trick of being sappy sweet to get on our good side. Today, Lucy even asked me if I could get her a snack – but ONLY when I had the time.  HA! 

·      We got a fish. The fish died. This story is only good because the fish was teetering on the edge of death for about a week before he croaked. The week before we went out of town, of course. And so, I left instructions for the girl who was dog-sitting to give me a call if the fish died so I could prepare the girls. We were headed to Colorado (another story) and got to about Lawrence, KS before Courtney called to say the fish was belly up. He’d waited just long enough for her to arrive before he bit it. Thankfully, Courtney is technically a Universal Life minister – thanks to the interwebs – and she was able to give Bubbles Chippie Blue a fitting tribute before flushing him. 

·      Colorado. Where do I begin? Long story short – we were to drive to the mountains outside of Denver to celebrate my nephew’s first birthday with my sister and brother in law and her family. We got to Colorado on Saturday and smooched on each other long enough to pass around a stomach bug. We spent most of the trip in the hotel bathroom in a town with no grocery store or WalMart. Plus, Steve and I were both knocked for a loop (to put it nicely) because of the altitude. Man, I didn’t think it would affect me but it did. Between the barfs and the shits and trying to catch our breath, it pretty much stunk. Literally. Vacation re-do to come…

·       I had an x-ray of my back. Turns out, my discs are just as bad as they were 9 years ago (not sure what that means) but I also have bone spurs on my spine. I was scheduled for an MRI and told to not exercise. Wait. Were you wondering why I’ve gained so much weight? Not anymore! MRI on Monday the 9th.  

·      Lucy has a loose tooth. It looks like an old kernel of corn hanging right in the center of her mouth. It’s awesome. We have bribed ear piercing, doll clothes, books. You name it. Her sister has taken to randomly punching at Lucy’s mouth to try to knock it out. I realize that eventually the tooth will come out on it’s own and that if she’s ok with it I need to let it go. But I can’t. 

·      I’ve decided that I actually DO like white wine. I know, this is news that can’t be exciting to anyone but me. I just figure, if I’m good at anything, it’s drinking, and that I should be an equal opportunity wino. 

·      My hair is still growing. Can you believe it? ELEVEN weeks without a haircut. I’m in that phase where I simultaneously want to rip it out and I’m proud of myself for coming this far…so it stays.
I’m not certain what else I can update on. I just mostly feel overwhelmed about 99% of the time and when I do sit down to write, I find that I’d better spend my time writing for school.  School. Which is done in just three weeks…at least until June. Hooray! I’ll leave you with this – last night a lovely older woman called our house to ask if I would be able to volunteer for the Obama campaign. I told her that while I supported the campaign I wouldn’t even be able to begin to help. I told her I worked full time, was in grad school and had two young children. She asked me, “do you sleep?” and my answer, quite honestly, was no. Nope. I don’t sleep. I lay down around midnight which is about how late I stay up to finish all of the work I can’t get done with kids underfoot, then I spend a chunk of time trying to wind down from the 8 bazillion things that happened that day, sleep about 3 hours and then wake up around 4am to worry about all the things that are to happen the NEXT day. Sleep is for pussies. And, there you have it! The last month of my life in 830 words or less. Ca-ching!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

art show!

Yesterday was one of those days where I reflect on my job and think, “I do some pretty cool stuff with some talented little people.” Yesterday was the first annual art opening for our preschool classes.  Last summer, I read a great blog post from a teacher/blogger whom I follow quite closely.  Tom teaches at a cooperative preschool in the Seattle area, and he is an amazing writer who sums up his work with children so eloquently that I often just shake my head when I read his blog, wishing that I had written those words first.  So, when he wrote about having an art opening for his preschoolers, I knew it was something I wanted to try and something that my students would love.  We are lucky enough to have a family in our school that owns a small coffee shop in the heart of the Waldo neighborhood in Kansas City. One More Cup was a favorite hang out for me even before I knew that the Neffs owned it, and it’s the quintessential local business in my opinion. It is cozy and comfy and a favorite spot to curl up with a latte and a good book (Ha! You would think by reading this that I had actually done that. I’ve not, but I always look with envy on the people in there curled up reading…one day I’ll do it, too).  Yesterday, it was the perfect location to host dozens of family members and many, many little artists – at our first CECC art opening! 
 The idea began, like I said, with an idea from Teacher Tom, but it soon developed into something much more.  We are constantly doing artwork in our classrooms. Daily.  Using different mediums, working on different canvases, working alone or in groups. Artwork in the preschool classroom is something that we did every single day without thinking much of it aside from the esthetic quality…until this year.  This year, my friend and fellow preschool teacher Adriane and I began to dig deeper to find connections between the artwork that they did, and the development of the children. What we began to realize is that we weren’t giving the artwork enough credit for all the things it was teaching the children. Social skills, language and cognitive skills, math and science, measuring and exploring cause and effect, fine and gross motor development. This list could go on and could be much more detailed, but you get the point. The hard part wasn’t getting the children to participate in the artwork, it was making those connections between what we were doing and the importance of what the children were learning. Isn’t that always the hardest part for a teacher? 
 Yesterday was the culmination of a journey we began back in August, and it was so much fun to see how excited the children were to show off their work.  Giving the public the chance to meet the little artists was a success! I’m lucky to have Adriane to work with, as she feels as strongly about teaching as I do.  Teaching parents and the community about what we do in the preschool classroom. Teaching about all of the connections the children are making in their artwork. Teaching that more goes on in a preschool classroom than crayons and markers.  I don’t think Adriane and I ever thought about this journey as something new for the kids: rather that it might be new for the adults in those kids’ lives.  We thought about it in terms of how we might show the outside world how important this experience would be for a four year old. I think it was a success.

The CECC art will be available for viewing and purchase during the month of March at One More Cup (7408 Wornall Road, KCMO) come see it!

Friday, February 24, 2012

hair project, week three

The curls are back. It’s a good thing, really, as growing this dumpy mop of hair will be much easier if I can pass off the messiness as my curls. Also, this week I’ve been looking at old photos both at home and at work.  I’ve seriously had the same haircut for about 11 years now.  The only thing that has changed is the color – and man, there has been a lot of color. I’ve made myself a color appointment for mid-March and I am going to stay blond…it just fits me best, I think. In the meantime I have started a “hair” board on Pinterest. I love that site, and particularly because now all my inspiration for my ‘do is in one place. The only downside is that people keep saying to me, “I love all the short haircuts! We should get our hair cut together like that! Great haircuts!” For me, though, it’s NOT a cut – my hair is so damn short that most of those pictures are MONTHS of growth for me! OH! the best news? I found the stash of barrettes I'd put aside so long ago. Yay! I present, week 3 (which is actually a lie - it's been SIX whole weeks since I've had my hair cut.) Ta-da!
week three

Monday, February 13, 2012


I spent yesterday wondering how or what I could have written differently in my last blog post. It bothered me that I set off such a firestorm of comments and I felt like I hadn’t conveyed my message in the right way. Even though I enjoy making people think and talk, I never intend my words to offend or upset people beyond that. That was yesterday...sleep offered up perspective and today my children are running around in their underwear (inside, of course, they've made a beach in my living room) enjoying the first snow day of the season. I’m done wondering what I could have done differently yesterday because, in the end, it doesn’t really matter.
Today I’ve been thinking about Valentine’s Day and how much emphasis people place upon it.  It’s always been ridiculous to me, even before I married the guy who earns his livelihood in the greeting card business.  I think about Valentine’s Days past, where we would transform shoeboxes into mailboxes with tissue and glitter and stickers, and we would wait for children to place notes inside.  Later, in high school, I remember watching who would have a carnation delivered during 3rd hour. It was always, in both cases, a popularity contest disguised as something different. I’ve never seen the point in using one day a year to profess your love to someone.  At least I’ve never understood being strong-armed into buying flowers or chocolates or even (yep, I’m going to say it) cards – none of which will last very long.
I’m terrible at showing my love for my husband in appropriate ways. I’m certain he will be the first to agree with me on this. I like to laugh and to poke fun and I rarely tell him in so many words how happy he has made me over the years.  A lot has changed since Steve and I met and in the 11 years since.  The past year or so has been particularly challenging for me. I’m not wholly certain why, but I know I’ve not been the best spouse, or even a very good friend at times.  And I continue to assume that he knows how I feel, even though I often do a shitty job of showing it.  It’s not fair to him, really.  I said last week that anyone who professes love over and over again on the internet is probably lying. I’m not going to do that here for a lot of reasons: mostly because I can hardly do it to his face without turning it into a joke of some kind. That’s just how we do things around here. I will say that it’s never, ever been a popularity contest for us. And I thank my stars for that.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

oh, Whitney.

I feel like everyone is dancing around this topic and so I’m going to just come out and say it. Whitney Houston’s passing is sad, to be sure. She was an icon and had a wonderful voice, of course. But she was a drug addict with opportunities that most people would NEVER have to clean herself up, and she couldn’t succeed.  Social media has kept us informed of the situation and has given everyone and his brother a platform to mourn Whitney…which is, I suppose, what social media is for.  But I can’t help to wonder what people would be saying if Whitney had been arrested, again. Or if she had hurt someone else as a result of her addiction?  How would people be responding if this situation was different?
I can think of three good friends who have gotten sober this year. Three. And these are people who decided finally that life would be better without drugs and alcohol. These are all people who don’t have the celebrity and the access to help like Whitney did.  These are people who don’t have the kind of money that Whitney did. People who didn't have Oprah Winfrey as a friend – people who were simply tired of having the proverbial monkey on their backs.  The public needs to hear stories like this – not another celebrity death story again. It’s sad, it truly is – I’m a human being and would never wish harm to people, but I can’t believe that this story is shocking to ANYONE. Whitney Houston has been a parody of herself for a long, long while. Her death is tragic – to the daughter she leaves behind. Not to the people mourning her in their Facebook status.  Tomorrow, they will move on and forget all about Whitney. Next weekend at the bars they’ll sing her hits karaoke style.
It’s just sad to me that the media won't focus on the people who are trying – and succeeding – at getting themselves sober.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

flow it, show it long as God can grow it

I’m so done with school and writing curriculum right now that I just can’t possibly think of anything original to write. BUT. But…I thought I could hold myself accountable by posting something totally trivial and shallow to everyone but myself. A few weeks ago, while visiting my sister in law in San Francisco, we began talking about hair and how she grew hers out in the past few years. I’ve been toying with the thought of growing mine for ages, but after we talked about it, I decided that it was time for a change in my follicles.
Hair. People place such high standards on hair. They write songs about it. There is a musical about it. Believe me, people are judging you for your coiffed ‘do. Or your roots. Or your bad home color job. Or your unwashed, messy bedhead. Trust me, even though I hear the, “I wish I could wear my hair that short!” comment over and over again, what I really hear in my head is, “good lord, your hair is SO short. I can see your wrinkled neck so much better now. You really look like a soccer mom!” And I love that the only people who ever comment on my hair in an absolutely positive way every. single. time. are black women. Probably because they recognize me as the one who got away. I swear I was born to the wrong race.
I digress. My point is that I am growing out this ‘do. Partly because it’s just time for something new, and partly because last night my kids got a set of Polly Pockets and I look vaguely like one of them. The one named Rick. Before too long, I’ll be old and I’ll be expected to have short, old lady hair. Not that I think my hair is old lady-ish now – in fact, I think it’s pretty fun. But, it’s time for a change. It’s time for me to be something other than the girl with the SUPER SHORT hair. And if I don’t have time to write anything for myself these days, at least I can take pictures of my progress. Please hold me to this – tell me I look amazing – even when you see the picture that makes you want to cry out, “CUT IT OFFFFFFFFFFF!!!!”  Anyone who has ever grown out the shortest of short cuts knows, I’m going to need some support. And I’ll take all I can get. 
hair project - week one