Freedom is a Construct, Not an Absolute

4th of July. The holiday that celebrates the United States as the land of the free. But this year, that idea has caused me pause. It seems that we, as a country, are on very decidedly different pages of what “freedom” means.

Therefore, I’ve been examining what my own idea of freedom is. Because here’s the thing: for something that we stake our identity on, fight wars over, sacrifice lives for…”freedom” is not something tangible. It does not “exist” in reality. It is a construct; something that exists within the mind of each person. Sure, there can be shared social constructs, or mutually agreed upon definitions. But it is also something that can be argued, changed, or altered and technically still be true to the individual or society who chooses to believe in that interpretation. Oh, those slippery slopes. Well, people. We built our entire country on a slippery slope. Continue reading “Freedom is a Construct, Not an Absolute”

The Edges of the Brownie

“Are you a middle-0f-the-brownie person, or an edge-of-the-brownie person?”

I was having breakfast several months ago with some of my ladies, and my friend Kathy decided to turn the conversation to dessert…because sometimes it’s fun to talk about food you’re not eating but want to eat while you’re already eating other food. Though I can be indecisive about most things in my life, I definitely had a stance on this topic.

“Edge. All the way. I’m the reason why they make those special pans where every brownie is a corner piece.” Continue reading “The Edges of the Brownie”

An Elbow to the Face of Hard Work

I was getting ready to throw away a pile of old papers from my desk when I noticed one that was about to be discarded in error. It certainly looked like trash, with its worn, tattered edges and crumpled creases. But this was a special piece of paper. It was my list of “No Elbow Zombie Apocalypse Moves.”

Okay, so let me back up for a second.

My elbows have a history of causing me trouble.

There was that time in grade school when I was goofing around in the hallway and slammed my elbow right into the corner of a door, resulting in such blinding pain that I passed out in front of my entire class. That’s a super fun thing to do, especially when you’re already one of the uncool kids. Continue reading “An Elbow to the Face of Hard Work”

Uncomfortable White Girl at a BLM Protest

I got a text from my friend Megan, asking if I wanted to join her.

Some local students had organized a seven mile Black Lives Matter protest march, and they would be passing near Megan’s house. She was planning to stand along the route and pass out water to protesters in the 90 degree heat.

Yes. Yes, I would like to do that. And I was grateful that Megan had thought of a concrete way to DO something, while I’ve just been over here completely in my head about everything.

So I brought my daughter and two of her friends to join Megan, her husband, her sons, and our friend Kathy and her daughter to set up our little water station alongside the road and wait for the marchers. Continue reading “Uncomfortable White Girl at a BLM Protest”

The Breaking Point

Yesterday was a breaking point.

Literally. I left the shards of porcelain scattered on my basement floor. I didn’t have it in me to clean them up. Probably because I couldn’t easily clean up everything else that shattered yesterday as well.

I heard the crash from upstairs and immediately knew. I didn’t have to look, and I really didn’t want to. My son was downstairs at the desk playing an interactive video game with friends online. He can sometimes get a little excited, banging on or shaking the desk. On the top shelf of that desk is a plate from my wedding, signed by all the guests, which my sister-in-law lovingly decorated and had fired.

Or, I should say, the plateĀ was sitting on top of the desk. Continue reading “The Breaking Point”

To My Former Students: Walt Whitman Was Right

Dear Former Students,

I talked about you today. It’s funny – I actually bring you up quite a bit in conversations. Our time together was a mere five years before I started a family of my own and never returned to the classroom. But clearly, those five years made an impression on me. You made an impression on me.

Some of you I still know. Maybe we grab lunch every now and again. Maybe we keep in contact on social media. Maybe we cross paths in the small world that is our city. Maybe we run into each other at a bar, and I become embarrassed that I am clearly not sober even though I am no longer your teacher and you are no longer my student and we are both within our legal right to over-indulge. But the thing is, you could be seventy-five years old, and I could be eighty-five years old, yet I would still think of you as one of “my girls.” And I would still feel the same responsibility to be a good example, to hold you to high expectations, and to count your head on a bus to make sure I wasn’t leaving anyone behind on a field trip. Continue reading “To My Former Students: Walt Whitman Was Right”

Saving a Bird – And the World – In Three Easy Steps

A bird flew into our window today.

I was sitting at our kitchen counter when I heard a thud. I looked up to see something falling to the ground and a flurry of feathers floating in the air.

Damn. That had to hurt.

I apprehensively opened the sliding glass door and stepped onto the deck, concerned about what I might find. Would it be a dead, disfigured carcass over which I would feel both heartbreak and disgust at the idea of having to dispose of it? Would it be a pissed off fowl ready to come at me as revenge for my ill-placed kitchen window? Thankfully, it was neither. What I found was a brilliantly beautiful bird sitting on my deck almost motionlessly, trying to figure out what the f*ck just happened to him. Continue reading “Saving a Bird – And the World – In Three Easy Steps”

It’s Not About the Blueberries

“And how are you guys doing?”

Our school maintenance guy Keith inquired about my family’s well-being as we played a quick game of catch-up. I was dropping off my son’s textbooks and gathering the artwork and supplies he had left in his locker before departing for Spring Break…and never returning. His 5th grade year came to a close yesterday with a social distancing car parade around the campus as the teachers waved and held up signs of affection and well wishes. Today, parents were invited to come up at assigned times to finish up the business of school before beginning summer a little earlier than we had all planned. Continue reading “It’s Not About the Blueberries”

Everything GenX Knows, We Learned From Weird Sesame Street Videos

The best thing happened yesterday morning. I opened up my Facebook feed to find my friend Emily had randomly posted this old Sesame Street video of how crayons are made. If you grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, you know EXACTLY which video I’m talking about. It was amazing to lay eyes on it again after all these years. And of course, it took me down a rabbit hole of watching other old Sesame Street videos that, despite being dormant for decades, were able to come to the forefront of my memory with a readiness that was both comforting and eerie. As the words to the songs fell easily from my lips, and the images put me right back to being in front of a rabbit-eared television set, I marveled at how so much of my childhood could be encompassed in a few video segments. And how my entire generation was molded by these sights, sounds, and concepts. Continue reading “Everything GenX Knows, We Learned From Weird Sesame Street Videos”

The Unwanted Superpower

You do not see me.

We share pieces of each other.

But you do not see me.

I peek my head through your door multiple times a day.

But you do not see me.

I ask you questions like How are classes going? Can you please set the table? Do you need anything from the store? Would you like to go on a walk with me? Is everything okay?

But you do not see me.

We walk the same floors, wash our hands in the same sink, and both smell the same funk that signals the trash can needs to be emptied. Continue reading “The Unwanted Superpower”