We Weren’t That Resilient

In response to the bell ringing that kids these days aren’t resilient the way their parents were growing up in the Wild West of the seventies and eighties suburban American neighborhoods and schools: I call bullshit. We weren’t that resilient. Those of us growing up in the seventies and eighties were not tilling Victory gardens and whittling useful things out of sticks that we found on the ground. I know. I was there. I can only speak to my own experience, and trigger warning, I’m not prone to nostalgia. Yes, we played outside with the neighborhood kids until the streetlights came on….

Embrace the Healing Crisis

When I’m about five days into a habit of healthy eating (no sugar whatsoever, little or no wheat products), my skin clears, my clothes loosen, my head aches. My head aches so I can taste metal in the back of my mouth. My head aches so that nothing makes it stop all the way. Even with coffee and analgesics, the headache lurks in the shadow. Its eyes are yellow and they glow in the dark. My energy is low. The dimmer switch is turning lower. Everything is getting on my nerves. My sense of humor is missing. I am taking…

Avoid Complaint

Today, I complained at one point that it was still morning and not lunchtime. I complained about Loretto High School closing while I was still working there. (This was a sad event, and perhaps worthy of complaining about. Seven years ago.) I complained about the requirement of having to stop at a stoplight on the way to my child’s dentist appointment. We had plenty of time. We got there early, in fact. Right now I’m complaining about my complaining. Language makes reality. Complaining does not reflect reality. At the stoplight I was a woman in America with the means to…

Get Up Early

Advice to myself: Get up early. Dumb early. Before five o’clock a.m. early. Avoid the snooze button. Drink a glass of water. Meditate while the coffee water boils. Then journal. Then screen. Then gym, or run and yoga. Start every day this way because when I do I ride a high of positive feeling that lasts through the evening. Start every day this way because I am a healthy person with time for everything and when people ask me how I am able to do all of the things, the answer rests in three numbers: 4:40. As in a.m. Most…

Read Books

At an interview today, a lovely journalist asked me if I read all the time. Answer: I do. I read every day. But reading isn’t a chore. This isn’t a blog for Puritans, despite the writer’s distaste for fun and compliments. When I was a kid, I loved the library. I spent hours there. I came home with piles of books. I read them with great pleasure. I love the library in the same way now, except that I can order books ahead of time and find them waiting for me there with my name tag attached. That’s like Christmas…

Just Say You’re Welcome

If I go through calisthenics to avoid a straight Thank You, you should see what I’ll do when someone tries to thank me for something. Pish. No, it was no trouble. Please don’t thank me. It was my honor. It was nothing. Okay, so the other day my friend Valerie tried to thank me for taking over some driving duties for the writing workshop. I am a grown woman, but this was my response: “Pish,” I said. “Pish, pish.” Pish isn’t even a word for grown-ups. I know this but I said it anyway. Valerie got a look in her eye that…

Just Say Thank You

This was me when Sue, the wonderful organizer of Sacramento Stories on Stage, first asked me to send her my work for consideration: “Oh, no.  Are you sure you really want it? I’m not that good.” My friend Valerie grabbed my arm. “When someone asks to see your work, always just say thank you.” Thanks, friend. I needed that. My first reaction to a compliment, a gift, a favor, or an offer, is some kind of waffle-mouthed “Oh no, surely you don’t mean it, I don’t want to be a bother, I couldn’t possibly accept.” Reader, it’s bullshit. I never…

Be Generous

2016 is going great so far. Amazing great. For example, this month a friend gifted me with a two-day writing workshop with the author of the truly excellent short story collection Refund, National Book Award Finalist Karen E. Bender. I am an enthusiastic fan of Ms. Bender’s work and vision, and I was going to have the chance to work with her in a small group format. In the two-day workshop, we listened to Karen Bender’s wisdom about the craft of writing fiction. All of the participants read one another’s work and came prepared with notes on each story. Everyone got a turn for…

Guest Interview: Have Fun

My twelve-year-old daughter Margaret suggested today’s topic after I read to her the list of things I’ve written about so far. Perhaps she sees a lack in my January program. Perhaps she sees a wisdom void that she is uniquely qualified to fill. Here is our interview. Me: I have a hard time having fun. I don’t really know how.  What do you think is fun? Margaret: Slurpees in the wintertime. Going for walks in the rain. Jumping on trampolines. Me: Since I gave birth to you, trampolines aren’t fun anymore. Margaret: Why? I ruin fun, don’t I? Me: No,…

Stop Saying Sorry

I have a rule in my classroom that you can’t say you’re sorry unless you hit someone with a hammer on purpose or by mistake. Either scenario would warrant an apology. Otherwise, keep your “I’m sorry” to yourself. My high school students will preface a question with “I’m sorry, but–” as if: 1. It isn’t my paid job to help them, and 2. They are somehow hurting me by showing interest in what we’re doing. My students say sorry for passing me in the hallway.  Sorry for having to use the restroom.  Sorry for laughing too hard. So I made…