Twenty Nine Years After

Twenty-nine years ago the Loma Prieta earthquake happened at 5:04 and changed my life forever after. The Loma Prieta earthquake and the fifteen seconds I spent cowering under a big oak desk while the ceiling came down in the hundred year old building I was working in changed how I viewed every other second that came after. The Loma Prieta earthquake and the two kind people (one who was someone’s love, one who was someone’s dad) who died on the other side of the wall during those fifteen seconds changed the way I treated every other person I met after….

Stephon Clark Is Our Son

I’ve lost the love of friends and family members because of my stand on racial justice in this country. Black lives matter. How controversial this simple concept seems to be to so many White people. Today is Good Friday. Two days before Easter. As a Catholic woman I am celebrating the most meaningful holiday season in my Liturgical calendar. In the Gospel of John 13:34, Christ gives the toughest order of all time: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Our Brother knew…

I Fear For My Safety

The police who cornered Stephon Clark in his grandparents’ backyard and shot him down say they “feared for their safety.” They thought he had a gun. He had a cell phone. I was at the protest the other day in Sacramento. We circled the park across City Hall. We marched through the streets, climbed onto the freeway and blocked traffic, stormed the arena where we blocked the entrance for people coming to the Kings game. Stephon Clark was a student at Sac High when I taught there. I knew him. Does that matter? I wonder. I wonder about what matters…

After the MLK March, January 2018: Dear White People

I wanted you to march for peace today. If you had the day off, I wish you volunteered for the community today. Our president said something awful today. Yesterday. The day before. Tomorrow. His words cause real damage. People are dying. So many of us voted him into office or at least we voted his enablers into office. So many of us turn a blind eye to what he’s already done, because we have to do our self care right now. You are going to see yourself in this. It’s going to hurt your feelings. You’ll close this post and…

No More Bullets

It’s already another bad summer. If you live in my area and watch the news, you may know the story of two young men shot while driving and riding in a car. You may have seen that the passenger died. You may have seen the dead man’s father, eyes glassy with grief, looking into the camera and saying that no father should have to feel this. No father ever. There was a candlelight vigil the day after the shooting where I stood on the sidewalk in front of the house where the man died. The last thing I said to…

What I Said at the Friendship Prayer Service

It’s funny that the God Squad asked me to give today’s talk about Friendship because it’s my job at this school to teach about argument and debate. I teach my students to anticipate what the opposition is going to say, analyze their weaknesses, and crush them in debates. Not very friendly. But we have a saying in my class and that is in argument, you must first seek to understand, then to be understood. If you release yourself of the responsibility of trying to change someone else’s mind, then you are free to try to understand the other person’s point…

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…

Song List for The Ghost Daughter

My novel The Ghost Daughter released from Coffeetown Press last month. Here’s a little about it: In 1971, a wounded young man runs with his daughter in the woods at night. As he collapses, he tells the little girl to run, and she does. Eighteen years later, in October 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake buries twenty-two-year-old Angel Kelley under a collapsed building. Her adopted mother Judith is diagnosed with cancer while her deepest secrets surface in national news. In nearby Silicon Valley, Reese Camden loses her husband in an accident that kills him and critically injures their five-year-old daughter Madison….

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…

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…