SOL Tuesday: O Come All Ye Anxious

T’was the Tuesday before Christmas,

And the tree was still bare.

Not an ornament yet hung

Or a single light found there;

In our living room it stood

So green and so great

Smelling so woodsy, I thought, the deco can wait.

Now on my way to celebrate the impeachment trail,

With fellow Dems abroad I’ll drink to a twist in the tale.

I’m tired and cranky, a real holiday damper

Heading out in the afternoon dark seeking seasonal pamper.

The consumerist impulse proves tough to escape,

My model superhero wears an anti capitalist cape.

But I in my tradition, so stalwart and stale

Will follow convention, frequent all points retail.

The season will pass with delight and some stress,

Happy holidays if you celebrate, if not, then bless.

SOL Tuesday: Dear Substitute

Dear substitute,

Thank you for covering my classes today. Whether we’ve met before or not, I want to share a few fundamental principles which I hope will insure a safe and positive experience for everyone involved. Please consider these first before all the details of managing the day!

1. My students are children who are to be treated with care and understanding. Imagine how you would want a loved one to be treated in a class with an unfamiliar instructor.

2. Safety is a priority. Ask my students to tell you what our rules are that will keep everyone safe. (Look around the gym, they are also posted!)

3. If you are nervous, that’s okay. PE can be loud and it may feel like the kids are out of control. That said, you are also responsible for stopping and starting activity; making sure that equipment is being used responsibly and that students are behaving respectfully towards you and each other. Take heart, the kids are prepared for you to give them some direction.

4. If groups need to be made, here are some possible strategies:

  • Students sit back to back with a partner and then separate = 2 teams
  • Give parameters for group-making: all genders (instead of boys and girls), approximate number per group, mix of ability and interest levels. (For more than 2 groups)
  • No picking of teams by you or by students EVER! If getting into groups takes too long, then that’s their learning for the day. We’re a school, we practice. Over and over again if necessary.
  • Ask them: Are these teams that will give everyone a fair game?
  • Play the game, observe. If games are imbalanced, call them back in and ask them how to correct the unfairness.

5. Enlist their help at every stage. My students like PE. They want to be active, have fun, play the game. As my substitute, my request to you is to please help them make those things happen. Please give them the benefit of the doubt.

It’s really in everyone’s interest that you are successful in this role. It’s a difficult one and I am grateful that you’re able to stand in the gap. I know you probably don’t know these kids or have a relationship with them. And yet they are children in your care.

Please try your utmost to keep everyone safe in body and soul. Remember that most kids want to get on with things; honor their concerns, give them space and opportunity to help you. Good luck!


This post was in response to a Twitter thread about an injustice in PE at the hands of a substitute.

SOL Tuesday: Mistakes Were Made

I listened. He was rather emotional and came right out with it: I had hurt him.

“Hurt” was his word and I could see it.

Of course I hadn’t intended to hurt, not by any stretch. And yet I had done precisely that.

I apologized, several times.

From his perspective I could imagine how my actions could be construed as hurtful.

Mistakes were made.

I made some mistakes. I own that.

I will think more carefully in the future. One can only hope.

One of my heroes of community organizing said in an interview:

“The second thing that matters to me as a unit of impact is harm. I want to figure out how to transform harm in every possible context because I have been harmed, and I have harmed other people.” – Mariame Kabe

The idea of transforming harm. How does that happen?

Our conversation continued. We spoke honestly; our defenses put aside. We left the talk knowing each other a little better. That was no mistake.

This is how we begin to transform harm.


SOL Tuesday: A New Thing

I’m not exactly sure how this happened. I read something and it made me think, reflect. I shared my thoughts out loud online. Some people responded with their thoughts which made me think a little more, a little longer. I wrote down some lines, I noticed an idea bubbling up. I find bubbling ideas particularly difficult to resist.

The idea surfaced, announced itself which then prompted me to announce its arrival publicly, as you do in social media land. So now the idea is public. I tell people what I plan to do with said idea. Each announcement is met with spurts of excitement and interest. Enthusiasm in spurts makes me weak and strong at the same time. Before I know it I’m in love with a new impulse and I suddenly have all kinds of creative energy that demand action.

I wrote somewhere “I know that perhaps the last thing I need right now is to launch yet another creative enterprise…”

So here I am: project underway, blog site under construction, contributions building. It may seem like doing for others, but to me it feels like doing for and with us. I’m not doing this on my own. I’m creating a space, then managing the space for others and me to have our say. That’s it.

We’re going to talk about movement and being and remembering. Join us if you’d like.

SOL Tuesday: Unwind

This is my week off from school. I am at a spa hotel with my pre-teen where we have access to all sorts of amenities but we remain remarkably attached to the privacy of our room.

We’re both fairly athletic beings and yet our appetite for the couch-hugging, terrace-lounging sedentary seems boundless in these few days. Call it rest. Call it a retreat. Call it surrender.

It surprises me to register how long it takes to actually relax. Even in favorable surroundings, released from several day-to-day responsibilities, I find it hard to let go. To enjoy without guilt. To indulge without regret. It’s a kind of built-in scarcity thinking almost as a way to counter the reality of abundance.

Instead of fully enjoying, I wonder/worry if I’m enjoying it enough. Instead of celebrating my freedom, I saddle my conscience with concerns of not being outgoing enough.

Tomorrow we pack up and head home, with a few days of vacation to spare. Perhaps I’ll find other means to unwind. To even stop turning the key.

SOL Tuesday: If I told you…

If I told you how tired I really am, you might blanche.

If I told you how much doubt I bury in each shred of correspondence, you might raise your eyebrows.

If I told you the full measure of my concern about the future my kids will face, you might pass out.

If I told you where my anger resides and when it erupts like a volcano, you might never ask me another thing.

If I told you all the things I cannot dare to tell myself, we both might be washed away in a tidal wave of shock and disbelief.

We might not survive hearing all the truth at one time, in one sitting, in one go.

That must be why we don’t do this.

Why I haven’t told you yet.

Why I will likely never tell.

Instead, I keep quiet and my counsel. I can see that we are not fit for the weather of my deep realities.

SOL Tuesday: Sudden Death

His name was Frank. He would have turned 60 in September.

Our origin story was romantic and funny; dating back to the mid ’80s. He was 6 years my senior, worldly and intellectual and handsome and he liked me.

I was smitten and caught up, thrilled to become his steady in the foreign city I had begun to think of in more intimate terms.

Of all things he was a doctoral student, suffering through the ravages of completing his dissertation. We fashioned a long distance romance for the ages. Me in DC, he in Vienna. He was becoming a social science authority, I was becoming an adult. We wrote letters – heartfelt, confessionals. We were both hotheads – passionate and stubborn. We argued but rarely broke up. In retrospect, the commitment was astounding really.

When it was time to reunite on the same continent, in the same city, in the same apartment, we no longer actually fit together. I had grown a will and ambition of my own which came as a surprise and affront to him. I was sure he was the one and then he wasn’t so I married someone else and was just as happy.

We lost track of each other and had almost no mutual acquaintances. He had a child and so did I. We ran into each other once on the street and caught each other up on our new lives in progress. That must have been almost two decades ago. I googled him a few years ago out of curiosity and was pleased to see that he had made a kind of name for himself in his field. He had garnered some recognition and made tenure. Good for him, I thought.

An off tweet from someone mentioning Heidegger prompted me to look him up again. I found his name, the uni where he taught and then the obituary. He died in late July and was buried in Vienna at the beginning of August. I was kind of stunned. I just hadn’t imagined that possibility.

The realization of his death dredges up all kinds of memories. There’s a whole history that I carry still of that 6 year relationship that I haven’t considered in ages. And just like that, the vault is cracked open. The memories bubble up and sting my eyes. I suppose it won’t be too long before I go and find that special box that holds all those letters he sent and I kept, the pictures and newspaper clippings, the published version of his diss.

It seems that life has a need to remind us that we did not begin right here, not yesterday. We hold histories within and histories hold us. The weight of a thousand ‘what ifs’ bears down on me. Not because I miss this person but because this part of my history has an end that I didn’t see coming.

I think of the children I have. My sons of other men. I was lucky to get away, to get out of that early relationship when I did. I am fortunate to have the life and all the comforts that I do. That said, this morning and certainly in the days to come, I will spend time recollecting, trying to uncover the significance of those precious days and months; the lessons learned, the moments I chose wisely.

The term “recollect” – to collect again, to gather again the disparate parts. Frank is a dead man and he remains one of my parts. Middle age seems to have a lot to do with parts and belonging I see.