SOL Tuesday: Travel With Family

This map-poem is brought to you live from foggy Northern Iceland where our family is touring the island.

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Travel

Tolerance revealed at variably exciting locations

With

While investigating true history

Family

Finding associated memories, internalized longings, yesterday.

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SOL Tuesday: What would you do if you wanted to be helpful?

 

I started a thread on Twitter tonight.

The purpose of the recurring question is to establish ‘helpful’ as fundamental to our functioning as a group. To position ‘helpful’ as necessary. And I believe most children have this inclination. They really want to help others.

Yes, and. They would love to help put equipment away… of course. But the balls are so bouncy, the hula hoops are begging for a few more tries, the tag game can’t really be over *already*…

I’m asking them to be helpful *on my terms*, not theirs, and it shows. That said, I realize that the repetition has enabled me to make ‘helpful’ my default setting. I am deliberate about cooperating and speak up when it’s not possible.

Not sure where I wanted to go with this. Just thinking out loud. The Q: “What would you do if you wanted to be helpful?” Curious how that lands with you. Where might it be of use?

That was my thread. What would you do if you wanted to be helpful?

SOL Tuesday: Dedicated to the last ISST T&F JV Boys Champions

If you could have seen them. If you could have seen me. If you could have seen us, then you would understand.

“ARMS, ARMS, ARMS!” I screamed. “Let’s go, you got this!” I stand around the 250m mark where they will hear me. I am screaming as if my voice might carry them a few steps around that curve. In that moment I am everything but detached. They hear me and know this.

I leave the tournament hoarse and full of wonder. Some of the boys are carrying the glass trophy. They pass it back and forth to each other, admiring it, admiring themselves.

Inside myself a warmth grows: pride mixed with amazement and affection. Look at these boys in their early teens, cocky with each other, humble when life doles out its inevitable “lessons.”  But they’re on the other side now and their collected bests were a little more than enough to be able to call themselves “champions.”

I watch them when their unexpected title is announced. They jump and yell and cheer. We all jump and yell and cheer. This is the first division championship for our school in 30 years of this tournament. I’ve been a coach at the school, in this tournament, for 27 years.

Junior Varsity Boys sounds funny to describe an age group category of athletes whose sizes and presence couldn’t be more varied. Some have so much size and facial hair that the “junior” part seems fully misplaced. Our squad of 8 are credibly around 14 years old – handsome, goofy, and intense – occasionally all three things at once.

As coach, as a woman, as an elder – our specific relationships take time to become real and relevant. They know I know some things but that doesn’t mean they’re always ready to listen. They also know some things. They make guesses and try stuff out. They make beginner mistakes. I watch them make their beginner mistakes and afterwards we can sit down together and talk about it, because then they’re ready to listen.

I don’t know them all equally well for my domain is the sprints. And yet, I see them each blossom before me, one race at a time. I cheer them on as if our lives depended on it. I see them labor and push, dig deep and press on.

The tournament will be reconfigured next year. The Junior Varsity Boys’ Division will cease to exist. Our boys are the last JV ISST Track and Field Champions the world will ever know. When this came up during our hustle through the airport on the way home, our graduating senior said to them: “Then you’ll be the forever champions.” And with that my heart melted away away.

SOL Tuesday: Writing Because

Writing because it’s Tuesday.

Writing because it’s now what I do.

Writing because I feel better afterwards.

Writing because I’m tired of talking out loud.

Writing because I refuse to be silent.

Writing to take a chance on the unexpected.

Writing because I don’t know how it’s likely to turn out.

Writing because I’m curious.

Writing because I can make words do what I want sometimes.

Writing because the world doesn’t do what I want a lot of the time.

Writing because I have time and opportunity.

Writing because someone’s listening.

Writing so I can hear myself think.

Writing because it comes naturally.

Writing because I want to participate.

Writing because I can’t draw very well.

Writing because it’s free.

Writing because I’m free.

Writing because it’s Tuesday.

SOL Tuesday: The Week After

This is the week after

we watched our child become a star

overnight.

In this 5th grade musical production

he taught us

how seriously he intends

to entertain

the world,

given the opportunity.

This is the week after

I attended a conference that named itself

Boring IX.

Called to join my BFF

of too many years to count,

I dashed to London late night

just in time to say cheers and goodnight.

The next day

was spent listening

chuckling, chatting,

being quick-witted middle aged ladies

sitting amused

in our seats.

This is the week after

it dawned on me that this life

may have an end

I hardly expect and yet

life itself

will certainly go

on.

This is the week after.

 

SOL Tuesday: More memoir fragments

Thinking about putting together a memoir has proven to be more fun than I originally imagined. I’ve taken inspiration from a number of sources: Beth Moore’s series of comics has been illuminating and a few ideas have come to me via Twitter. At any rate, I started thinking about graphs, pictograms and other graphic tools to illustrate some of my treasured memories. Today’s slice offers 2 examples: A graph of my social popularity between the ages of 6 and 11, then a flow chart of my distinct PopTart preferences.

These are photos of my sketches, so I hope you can still read them.

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SOL Tuesday: Memoir fragment

“Why,” Mrs. Gibbs asked, “is she crying?” pointing me out to the other girls.

I wanted to disappear

but that’s not what happened.

“She’s crying … because she cares,” Mrs Gibbs continued

answering her own question.

My sniffles temporarily grew louder.

I sat huddled in my shame

as it slowly dawned on me

that whatever wrong I felt guilty of

was not the point of the current lecture.

I was the example, yes,

but not the bad one.

 

My admiration for Mrs. Gibbs was so

all-encompassing.

She was my portal into the world of

classical ballet

where I felt sure I would want to

dwell for the rest of my days

forever and ever, amen.

I wanted to be perfect in her eyes

first and then in mine.

In her rented studio for all colors

of Black girls

we learned her commands

backwards and forward

always in French.

Mrs. Gibbs produced more than one

master dancer.

My favorite was long legged lithe and

light skinned Carla

who danced ‘God Bless The Child’

as if she were Billie Holiday herself.

That song still haunts me

resurfacing my little girl longing

to be as accomplished as Carla,

as independent as Carla,

as prized by Mrs. Gibbs as Carla.

“God bless the child that’s got his own,

that’s got his own…”

 

*Since I recently hinted at writing a memoir in verse, this seems like a great space and time to get started. I’ve been writing episodes and reflections as they come to me, generating as much material as I can. Later I’ll group and prune my harvest. For now the goal is to keep producing, edit later.