Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday Slice: Celebrate me home

For the past several days, I've been waking up to the same song playing in my head.  
It's a bit annoying, as my mind is breaking the "no Christmas songs until Santa arrives at the end of the Thanksgiving Day Macy's Parade" rule we have in this house. (We also listen to Christmas music until the twelfth day of Christmas, January 6th...but I digress.)

I'm guessing the mental jukebox picked this tune because it's our first empty nesting holiday season, and we'll have both fledglings under our roof come Christmas time--one driving home from college, the other flying in from Japan.  My father and his wife will join us for New Year's Eve--the most family members here since our daughter graduated from high school in 2012.  After my father leaves, we will meet our daughter's Japanese boyfriend as he visits our home for the first time.

There's a homecoming today, too.  I join current and former staff and students as we meet in my neighborhood elementary school to celebrate its fortieth anniversary.  Our daughter and son both attended the school, and because of their age difference, I was an Anderson Mill parent for eleven years before becoming a teacher there for three more.  I have fond memories of the tiny resource room I inhabited, all the while working on my Library Science degree, supported by the principal and mentored by the librarian. I'm hoping to see several of my students this afternoon.

We will be celebrating our loved ones home this holiday season, indeed.  Maybe I'm not so annoyed by the earworm after all.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tuesday Slice: A good day

"I've already planned to take the day off.  Do you want me to go to your appointments with you?" I asked over the phone.

"Are you sure you want to spend your day off going to doctors' offices?  I can think of more fun things to do than that," he replied.

"If you get good news, you'll want to celebrate.  I could take you out to eat--to CHEW--afterwards."

"Yeah, but if I get bad news, you'll have to listen to me rant the rest of the day."

"Either way, you'll need someone to celebrate with or yell at.  I'll go, if you want me to."



Appointment number one: orthodontist.

"So, what did the ortho have to say?"

"He said something about this being maybe the second to the last time I'll have to see him."

"That sounds like we're getting close to the end!"

"Yeah, I guess."

Appointment number two:  oral surgeon.

"He looks good.  See here in the x-ray, the bone is just about healed; can barely tell he's had surgery.  Let's put him on the scale...good weight gain, too!  I'd like to see him in a month."

"But what about chewing?" I ask.

"And playing French horn?" the patient asks.

"Oh, yes, chewing soft foods is okay.  And horn playing."

We are both beaming, walking out of the office, high fives in the parking lot.

"Dad's home!"

"What did the docs say today?"

"Let's head to IHOP, so the boy can CHEW some French toast.  Oh, and his French horn needs fixing again. It's been a good day."

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tuesday Slice: The thin veil

And tomorrow, and
The day after that
I will remember

The saints that guide me
Catherine of Siena
Anthony of Padua
Therese of Lisieux
Hildegard of Bingen
Patrick and
Brigid of Ireland
Their lessons I glean

And tomorrow, and
The day after that
I will remember

The ones who loved me
My mother
My grandparents
My cousins
My aunts and uncles
My family-by-marriage
My friends
Whom I love still

And tomorrow, and
The day after that
I will remember

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tuesday Slice: Cowboy boots

Scuffed, pointed toes peek just a few inches from my bootcut jeans.  "I bought them when I was pregnant with my firstborn," I said. "That makes them twenty-five years old. I thought they would be my last big purchase ever, figured all my money would be spent on my kids after that.  They've been resoled once, at the shoe hospital."

The boots, dark caramel brown and creased from wear, sat unused for months at the bottom of my shoe pile until this past week, when the "Wild West" theme of our fall book fair fundraiser called for an appropriate costume.  I bought Wrangler western style shirts, one red and one blue, with pearl snap buttons.  A bandanna and a sueded plastic cowboy hat from a party supply store completed the look.  It was a hit with the students, who commented daily on my "cowboy clothes".

I've lived in this state for over thirty-six years, and those boots still feel like a costume.  Not a huge fan of country music. Don't really know how to two-step or do a boot-scootin' boogie.  Rarely does a "y'all" slip from my lips.  I'm Texan by residence, not by birth.  Two-thirds of my life spent here, and I can't bring myself to call this place "home", though I find thoughts of leaving our house, our neighbors, the lives we've built for ourselves discomforting. 

This must be the legacy of being a military BRAT: no matter how comfortable you are, or how long you stay, a place is never really home--but the people and the circumstances are the closest things to home we know.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tuesday Slice: A room with a view

The small, wooden back door lies directly in my line of sight from my desk in the study at the front of the house.  I've always thought it practical, but ill-placed, opening as it does into our living room.  An easy access for bugs and windborne leaves when open, and cold winter drafts when closed, the door stays locked most of time, occasionally blocked by a Christmas tree during the holidays.

This weekend I stood at the door, coffee in hand,  transfixed by the swaying of my potted milkweed and the winged creatures visiting the bright orange and yellow flowers.  The winter winds will come soon enough; for now, I'm content with the view. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tuesday Slice: In the company of women

Four-twelve.  I left work earlier than usual last Tuesday, acutely aware of the time.  Driving downtown on a school night is not my usual routine, and I was already nervous.   Almost an afterthought, I got a drive-through dinner, hoping it wouldn't be a lead weight in my stomach but knowing I had to eat before the long night ahead.

No time for a shower, just a change of clothes--jeans with a cute top and lacy cardigan to layer against the air conditioning, comfortable shoes because of the light rain and uncertain parking location.

Traffic flowed quickly until it didn't, slowing down to twenty miles per hour on the freeway, surprising since the gridlock was heading in the opposite direction.  I kept glancing nervously at the clock on the dashboard, regretting the extra ten minutes a stop at an ATM had cost me.  I made it to campus by six, only to wait in a long, slow line entering the parking garage.

At six-twenty, I took my seat among hundreds of women in the concert hall.  The energy was palpable and positive, the air humming with conversation.  I sat in a strange quiet bubble, one of the few lone participants observing groups of friends taking selfies.

The lights dimmed, and the stories began.  

Two lovers took turns describing the day they met, and the days after, making a new version of family, expanding their definition of love.

A slight woman with close-cropped hair in a bright red jacket insisted she was going to be a doctor, until a college class convinced her otherwise and her talents led her in a completely different and successful direction.

A woman with a cool leather hat, side braid, and gold rings on her fingers described the day she defended her mother who was being sexually harassed, becoming a crusade against locker room talk and sexual assault, reaching thousands of college and professional athletes.

A migrant worker in a plain bright top, accompanied by her interpreter, taught us that farm workers are subjected to sexual assault at an alarming rate.  She decided enough was enough, and rallied her female coworkers to bring awareness and an end to their abuse in the fields.

Halfway through our three-hour gathering, a fitness leader had us moving and breathing, opening our hearts and roaring, releasing any darkness weighing us down.

Two women took the stage, both funny in their own right.  One now empowers girls in middle school, the other speaks her truth on YouTube.

A local celebrity continued the theme of speaking truth to power.  She lost followers and suffered financial setbacks at first, but gained peace of mind and an even larger audience.  At her lowest points, she went to her kitchen and cooked for those she loved.

After hearing all of these women talk to each other, bouncing around their definitions of hope, we were treated to a love letter.  Every word rang true in these troubled times.  Every word was light in the darkness.

I didn't get home until after eleven, but I was buzzing from the experience as my alarm went off at five the next morning.  What an amazing night, in the company of women.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tuesday Slice: Bad news on the doorstep

I was blissfully busily unaware of national news yesterday.  Mondays are usually my flex day in the library with only a handful of classes, but we had picture day last Friday, so I flipped schedules. Thirteen classes came and went in a flurry of activity, capped with covering a fifth grade class for the last half hour and attending a team leads meeting for another hour and a half. 

I didn't hear a word about the Vegas shootings until I collapsed at home.  My husband filled me in on the details from his computer screen.  He read the president's inane Twitter response; par for the course, pun intended after 45's empty gesture of a golf trophy for suffering hurricane victims.  Our dinner was peppered with rehashing our shared views on gun control, homegrown terrorism, and the need for a better president.    

The doorbell rang; my neighbor, with copies of medical papers I signed for her.  More bad news from her husband's doctor led to tears and hugs.

Is it any wonder that I tossed and turned last night?

My students were better off with an ignorant librarian yesterday.  I focused on my lessons and the needs of my patrons, as I should. I'm hoping I can do the same today.  Maybe a second cup of coffee will help.  Maybe seeing Glennon Doyle Melton and Jen Hatmaker tonight will help.  Maybe singing "American Pie" at the top of my lungs in the car on the way to work will help....if I can do so without crying.