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Facing Stress Without An Eraser

I have had a trying couple of weeks. That is, I am going through a rough patch. Nothing evil or insurmountable. But annoying. Stressful. I’m going through a rough patch that might cause a person to end the day with a well-deserved adult beverage. Or a sleeve of Donettes from the 7-Eleven down the street, chased with a wild cherry Slurpee. Or at least a Diet Coke and some pretzels. These things would erase my stress for a while. For me, avoiding alcohol and drugs is a habit that can certainly be tried, if not exactly tested by the sort of scrape…

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Were You Scared?

A few days ago, a beloved former student of mine (a black man) from the charter school where I used to teach tagged me on Facebook with the following meme:(It’s probably good to note here that I’m one of those teachers that is better in retrospect than I am in the present moment. I’m kind of like childbirth that way. When my class is over, you’re glad you went through it and tend to forget the pain.) Perhaps it is this amnesia effect that caused my beloved former student to forget that I ruin jokes. And I ruined this one big time….

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Guest Post: A Moroccan Summer

In response to one of my posts earlier this month about my health and fitness, my former student Anna reached out to share her recent experience as an exchange student in Morocco. I was fascinated to read her story about the lack of freedom she experienced in day-to-day life as a woman in another country. I invited her to write a guest post to share her story with you. A Moroccan Summer For two months of summer 2016, I lived in Morocco. I was granted the opportunity to study abroad through the organization Project GO, a DOD scholarship program for ROTC…

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The Ghost Daughter Wants To Come To Your Book Club

In an hour or so I’m attending my first book club for The Ghost Daughter. I love attending book clubs as an author. How To Be Manly got me invited to a couple. It remains amazing that I write words and people read them. Someday I’ll get over myself and understand that people reading my books is what happens when I write them and find cool editors and publishers. Someday I’ll be used to it. Today is not that day. Other invitations to appear at book clubs to answer questions about The Ghost Daughter are already rolling in. It’s all…

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The Time I Fell Down In Dance Class

I fancied myself a dancer when I was a kid. Flashdance was important. I watched a lot of the television show Fame. I listened relentlessly to my Flashdance and Fame records every single day, filled with longing. I made my friends call me Alex for a while. My perms were tight as screws. I wore leg warmers long after they were stylish. I mean, long after. Even in the summer. I badgered my dad to take the car out of the garage so I could practice tap dancing on the smooth concrete. I made up my own dances, dancing for hours, practicing…

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Rad Romance: 5 Things That Happen Because I Have The Same Boyfriend at 46 That I Did At 17.

In high school, I was friends with a boy who was handsome, kind, strong, and the most intelligent person I ever knew.     Reader, I married him. There are some interesting truths about having the same boyfriend since the eighties. 1. There is a written record of our relationship. On paper. Our romance began in 1987 before cell phones and texting were invented. In fact, though we went to the same high school, Jim lived far enough away that our calls were billed as long distance. There were a few years there when he lived in the mountains and…

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Rerun: To You Who Are Doing Rejection Wrong

I was reminded today in an email about happy I am being a writer, working with other writers and publishing professionals who care deeply about excellence in literature.  As a reader, some of the most rewarding and amazing books I’ve read have been published in the past five years. As a teacher, I am especially grateful to the gatekeepers and writers of the YA world.  Today’s September Back-To-School Issue challenge is a rerun of a post I wrote a couple of months ago in response to an incident of online abuse hurled at a literary agent by a disgruntled writer. I was angry when…

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Mansplaining and Me

Let’s get this off the table right now: Not all men and not all explanations from men. Some of my best friends are men; men with information, men whose explanations are helpful, entertaining, and wise. But this is a post about mansplaining nonetheless. My twelve-year-old daughter and I had a long talk today in the car about old men explaining things to us. She and I share an extremely low tolerance for mansplaining behavior, yet we love talking about it. It’s like passing a terrible roadkill. It’s awful. But damn. Too awful not to look. A few examples of times I…

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Why Do You Pray That Way?

I pray with my students at the beginning of every single class. When I worked in public schools, I called it Breathe. Always the same words: Sit up nice and straight and tall, feet flat, rear ends to the backs of your chairs, shoulders back, eyes closed or looking down at your desk. Take a nice deep breath in and out. And another nice deep breath in and out. You are a person of great dignity and worth. The world got better on the day of your birth. There is nobody better than you. And one last deep breath in and…

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Wheat Face

I finally went to the doctor six years ago for the painful breakouts I had been getting on my face. I requested to see a dermatologist. I never had serious acne on my face as a kid, but entering my mid-thirties meant almost daily inflamed skin. My doctor told me to put petroleum jelly on my pimples. I asked if I could please have that referral to a dermatologist. She went into the hall and came back a minute later with another doctor. This is a dermatologist, she said. He happened to be passing through. He looked at my face and told…