This is how it is.

This is how it is. You walk out one door, pace in the hallway, come back through another door. You are riled and prickly and they better not ask you one more thing but of course they do and you respond appropriately without biting anyone’s head off.

This is how it is. You want to make the tea as a gesture of kindness. You are being thoughtful and caring when you remove the teabag that steeped a moment too long and reach into the fridge only to discover an absence of milk. This cannot be. There was milk. Of course there was milk just yesterday there was milk but now suddenly there is none, there is only the absence of milk. Inwardly you howl and shriek. Outwardly you slam the refrigerator door shut and hear all the bottles rattle in chorus. It’s not their fault there’s no milk. You leave the tea on the counter and huff into the bathroom to brush your teeth, hair and bruised confidence before you leave for work.

This is how it is. You know you are leaving tomorrow. After school. Which means you pack tonight or early tomorrow morning. You better write that sub plan for Friday. And what are you doing now? Writing into the wind again? And the kitchen? How is that supposed to work out? You are a mess and so are your countertops. You cannot leave the house in this state. Of course, you can and you in fact might if your willpower (or is it motivation) stays in the basement until further notice.

Then you read that Tina Turner has died. She was 83.

This is how it is.


SOL Confession

The fact that my heartbeat quickens as I open this page tells me that fear and bravery (or stupidity) are duking it out inside... where? My heart, my head, my soul? Knowing the stories I could tell but consistently choose not to for all the reasons that would not do. The risk is real that truths may slosh out of me, create a spill I may regret and struggle to dab away. No wonder my heartbeat quickens. It's not dumb. It's a built-in alarm system only I can hear.

What happens when you tell people that the price of garnering a few hundred regular readers turned out to be a functional marriage. Even if the calculation is everything but linear, the tradeoff: intellectual legitimacy over physical intimacy, could not be clearer.

How do you tell people that success is so, so relative, it's a curvy line that will never make a circle, that twists and puckers in places you don't want it to; that success can feel like a scam. How do you say, just as ungrateful as you please, that yes, it's nice to be paid to deliver words, spoken, written, or both. It's flattering, ego-boosting and also temporary, fleeting, contingent. How do you tell people that you keep writing either way. That the surplus of words can be a function of displacement as much as arrival. Stretching a canvas of words across a weary, unloved body becomes a habit of course, a ritual like teeth-brushing and bed linen laundry. I no longer miss touch like that. I mourn what could have been and keep writing.

My heartbeat has slowed. The cursor breathes steady.

SOL 23 The End that’s not #31

Think of the ending that wasn’t an ending but just the end of season four.

Think of the meal you ate that left you feeling full but there was still room for dessert.

Think of how you celebrated that milestone of your youngest child’s independence and soon rushed in to help out in a pinch.

Think of that time you graduated and were almost immediately scheming to consider the next degree.

Think of the time you resigned (that’s what you called it, because you’re a professional, dammit!) and swore you would never return. Ok, that time really was the end. Good for you.

Think of the time it rained on your parade but you brought two umbrellas to share, so you had company for the rest of the route.

Think of when you told friends this one’s really the one and it was true until it wasn’t but you adapted and changed and you are fine.

Think of when you wrote every day for a month and weren’t sure you could pull it off again until you did, several years in a row, and you’re still writing.

Yeah, like that, but even better.


Not The END

*Thank you, thank you, thank you, SOL Community, for being here, being kind, being consistent. I have loved every day of this year’s challenge, not because it was easy but because I felt welcomed and supported all the way through!

SOL23 And I am telling you… #30

And I am telling you, I'm not finished
this is my presentation as it is,
there's not going to be another one.
I don't see much else happening
before it's time.

And I am telling you, I'm not too stressed
workshop on avoiding burnout
let's please chill and chill and chill
I've got slides as prompts
to help us through.

We're part of the same fate,
we're part of the same field.
PE teachers overwork like others
let's talk about how to fix that
let's walk and talk as we do.

And I am telling you, we're just getting started
We're in process, incomplete
we keep going and trying
striving and striving

Let's learn how to chill out
rest, recover, and give grace
one workshop won't change the world
But let's pretend it might
for just a day.

*Inspired by this rendition of I Am Telling You by Sarah Ikumu at 15!

SOL 23 Random travel thoughts #29

Why do we say laundry list? When have you ever needed a list to do laundry?

Has anyone done research on the variety of airport bathroom stall door handles? Surely there’s a design sub-specialty for this. There’s such a range and I have yet to encounter one I would designate as “perfect.” Smooth, cylindrical stubs with a surprise indent ain’t it, in any case. A dial type closing that one turns with a clear pointer, on the other hand, is doing good work.

The purchase of cold al dente pasta in an equally cold tomato sauce with 4 lovelessly deposited balls of mozzarella and maybe 5 tiny cherry tomatoes sliced in half, represents an odd lack of discernment on my part; a mistake which will never be repeated.

Ingesting mediocre chocolate on the terrace of my hotel room, received on the plane while disembarking. I feel like a kid eating a treat prematurely.

Viennese German and Frankfurt German are not the same German.

A hotel room is a good place to hide. Grateful my view includes lots of trees and ivy covered homes.

SOL 23 Whew, almost missed a day #28

That’s the slice.

JK. Seriously. It’s past 9pm, I’m tired, I need to pack for my trip tomorrow, I got busy working on my talk and have yet to decide on the workshop format that happens on Thursday. Like goodness, I have too much going on! Plus my sub plans and the teen has a sore throat. Too late to do more laundry and everything I need has to fit in a carry on. I am tactically underprepared for the next five days and I’m going anyway. The talk comes to about 45 minutes and includes about 4 chances for folks to turn and talk. That’s good. I’m sure it will work out differently in practice but it’ll be fine. I need sleep and a hot shower in reverse order. I need calming music and a day of rest which is not forthcoming. Music I should be able to manage. Anyway, finish the sub plan, put some clothes in the bag, rethink those choices in the morning, see how the teen is feeling, drink some water, have the shower, go to bed.

SOL 23 On this day #27

Last year on this date I composed spine poems.

Two years ago I had recently moved and was tired of boxes.

Three years ago we were a couple of weeks into distance learning and I shared some thought on our placeholder curriculum.

Four years ago I wrote a prose poem about being “on.”

Five years ago I was nearing the end of my first SOL Challenge month and I found time to sit and breathe.

Looking back I see that I have walked this road before but never exactly the same way, in the same shoes or at the same pace. I have learned, in any case, to keep walking.

SOL 23 Yellow Car Spring #26

It's spring
my car is yellow 
and freshly washed.

It's yellow
and my spring car
is freshly washed.

It's washed
my spring yellow
car freshly is


Ethical nonsense, blooming responsibility, budding forensics, aloof quesadillas, guarded eggplant, comparable lovebirds, alien misfits, corporal leisure, abominable pantsuit, losing sorry, caterpillar pickles, aggrieved lunchbreak, hosting alpacas, removal assignment, fragmented compost, foreboding aesthetic, ridiculous mirage, senseless compilation, stop.

SOL 23 Disappointing pears #25

Disappointing pears. I almost wrote disappointing pairs which is not what I meant but maybe Freud is here causing me to slip.
Sweet juicy snackable grapes. 
Potato soup with a longer name that includes zucchini, cucumber and mint. Add caramelized onions and why is zucchini so hard to spell?
Goat cheese spread on dark rye bread with cucumber slices and a dash of salt. Looks healthier than I think it actually is.
A tour through today's kitchen exploits
leaves little to the imagination. 
I suppose I just shouldn't expect too much of pears these days.

SOL 23 Parade of Flags #24

Watched my very tall, athletic male colleague usher flag-bearing children into our UN day assembly.

Argentina, Armenia, Austria! Hold it up high, that’s it. Very good! You can go.

Germany, Georgia, Great Britain! Don’t be nervous. I love what you’re wearing! Come on, that’s it, big smile!

Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro! Excellent, you look beautiful! Careful, remember to walk straight out to the middle.

Ukraine, United States, Uruguay! Nice! I love your hat! There you go, now you’re ready. Beautiful!