Whose Jersey I Was Wearing

A couple of days ago, a line of Varsity football players barreled into my classroom. I’ve been known to offer encouraging journal writing times before big game days. Friday was a huge game day. The league championship was at stake against a higher ranked team. I thought they might have been there to ask to write with me. They weren’t there to write. They were uncharacteristically quiet, this group of boys. Shuffling their enormous feet. Smiling funny. “Guess what,” one of the guys finally said. “We get to pick one teacher to be with us on the field for Friday’s game…

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 I lived…

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…

What I Was Thinking When I Wrote The Ghost Daughter

A few years ago I stood in the check out line at the grocery story, Casey Anthony staring at me from the cover of the People magazine. I don’t follow crime stories usually, but this one followed me. I couldn’t help it. I was fascinated.  A young woman claimed her little kid went missing a full month after anyone had seen her. The authorities found the thoroughly decomposed body of the child months later in a pile of duct tape. The prosecution was inadequate to the task of conviction and the judge let her go. Everyone thinks she did it. But…

What I Said at the Prayer Service Today

In the beginning of the first Toy Story Buzz LightYear was excited about all of his power. He had the power of lasers, and flight, and the power of a star command ship that he talked to through his monitors. He had lots of gadgets and stuff and a mission. The problem was, it wasn’t real. It was all fake. But when he dropped his mask and breathed the real air, he grew to realize that it was only in cooperation with his friends that he had real powers and a true mission, and he was more powerful and capable…

What We Put Up With

When I was in fifth grade a boy I’d been sitting next to all year suddenly turned on me. He wore heavy boots to school and he began to make a sport of kicking me vigorously in the legs while I sat in my desk. His penis looked like a football helmet, he told me. He was going to ram me with it. The third time I stood to wait in line at the teacher’s desk to tell on the boy for hurting me, the teacher told me to please sit down. I needed to handle my own problems. Eventually the boy lost interest…

What Resilience Looks Like

Some of my favorite lines of poetry come from DH Lawrence’s “Self Pity:” I never saw a wild thing  sorry for itself.  A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself. My students have stories that I sometimes never hear. We are busy people in the classroom. We don’t have a lot of time to sit around and talk about our feelings and cry. Sometimes, though, I get a chance to know the true resilience of the rising generation. Their stories evoke the tenacious bird of the poem, its gnarly little feet curled around…

Call Me Helicopter Parent One More Time

My husband and I make our daughters’ education a high priority, and we have always insisted they do their best. We get to know the parents of our daughters’ friends and drive them to their play dates. (Do you hear the whirring of the blades yet?) When my kids have been right, I’ve taken their sides, even against adults. When one elementary school wasn’t working for my youngest, we found another that was a better fit. I prepare separate meals according to my children’s taste preferences and cut off the crusts of the sandwiches I make for lunches. (I know you want to call me Helicopter…

I Am Not Proud of You

Eighteen years ago, I had a colleague named Bertha at a pretty rough public elementary school where I taught fourth grade. This woman taught first grade with the masterful calm of a Jedi. Her room was an oasis of peace and productivity. I tried to learn as much as I could about teaching from Bertha. She was a goddess of a human being, which she would laugh at me for saying but it’s still true. One day Bertha was telling me about her grown son who had just started his dream job as a forest ranger. I said, “You must be…

Here

Catch the cool Q and A I did with the wonderful Catherine Warmerdam in the month’s issue of Sacramento Magazine. It was a fun conversation over tea on a blustery January day outside Tupelo in East Sacramento. Ever since I first moved to Sacramento, I’ve perused the pages of Sacramento Magazine looking for mention of people I knew. I usually know at least one person per issue in the society pages or within the features. I’ve always considered knowing people in Sacramento Magazine a good sign that I was connected to my community. Here’s the thing with Sacramento and me. This…