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…

A Girl at Eleven

The age of eleven was rough. I was small for my age and younger than my seventh grade classmates.  After gym class, I hastily dressed my child-like body next to a girl whose body was actually making a child. When I caught her round, naked belly jumping with life, she smiled at me with a mix of trepidation and pride. I didn’t know what to think. At eleven, I craved the company of groups of indifferent girls and boys. I was dismissive and even cruel to kids who were less popular, though they were kinder. School created such anxiety that I developed debilitating stomach aches. I wore…