This blogpost is almost 5,300 words long so it may have to be read in segments. That’s okay, because it was crafted in segments. A little over ten weeks ago I set out on a disciplined journey to lose 20 pounds over the two-month summer break I have off from teaching school. I did everything mostly the way you’re supposed to and miraculously, I finished all the way to the end.
This story will not contain methods that everyone, or anyone, would recommend. The purpose of documenting my thoughts as I went through this was to do all the hard work for you, in the event that your weight is something you also constantly obsess about, like I do. Secondly, I need my journals to remind me that I really did try my very best. Read more
I think we can all blame Disney for our hang-ups about our hair. Since our wee years, we are taught that all of the beautiful princesses have long, voluminous tresses. Cascading hair is mythically, historically, and symbolically associated with youth and fertility. Look up any society in history and you’ll see… the themes are the same. Even in Native American societies, warriors wanted the horses with the longest, thickest manes to ride into battle because they looked more menacing and majestic, more desirable. (How impressive it must have been to see a battle horse in the throes of war, or in the heat of a hunt, its long hair flowing out behind it.) Read more
A couple of years ago, I set a goal for myself to start reading the American classics. It made me feel smarter to think I might one day know how to namedrop all of our most famous literary icons with real authority. I wanted to know all about the ones about whom my friends say, “Oh my God! He’s my favorite author!”
I especially wanted to fall in love with Ernest Hemingway. I’d saved myself for him, for after I finished writing my own book and was no longer in the middle of any other novels. I wanted to give him my undivided attention because everything I’d read about him pointed towards adoration. I anticipated a long, sexy summer reading about falling in love during the Spanish American War, bullfights in Spain and cafes in Paris, and salty men repairing fishing nets…all being ideas that made me swoon in romantic anticipation. I bought six of his most famous works and downloaded them all at once. Satisfaction was 100% guaranteed. A perfect collection of beach books, right? I nestled in. Read more
Go five years in reverse from today and you would’ve found me getting adjusted to living all by myself for the first time ever in my life. I was in the middle of a heartbreaking divorce, holed up in a tiny, sterile apartment grieving, wondering how I could ever be happy again without the safety of my marriage and my family…a marriage that, incidentally, provided me with many years of a different kind of grief altogether. Obviously, I was forced to get used to it against my will. Some things are completely beyond our control and divorce is sometimes one of them. In the beginning of my transmutation from couplehood to spinsterhood, I still had a small child at home but since then he has grown into an independent young man with an affection for X-treme sports and his own vehicle. As a result, I’ve stayed home by myself a lot over the last few years. Yes, it gets too quiet sometimes, but I’m thankful for the slow boil of my seclusion over the years in this state. Read more
In 1991, I was forced to enroll in your typical, freshmen-level Economics-101 class. It was utterly coma-inducing to be honest, like you probably think this blog post is going to be after seeing the word Economics in the title, but stay with me for a minute.
Knowing that only a small fraction of the 80 or so students in the class would ever need an in-depth knowledge of supply and demand curves, the professor offered us an alternative assignment: Read “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand and complete a 2000-word essay on what we learned. Anything we learned. However we interpreted it, let it be known that we gleaned something inspiring from the mammoth 1000-page novel. So thinking it was the easier option, I read it as a teenager and predictably wrote my paper on the value of capitalism.
I’ve since traversed through my 44 years never needing to know too terribly much about surpluses and shortages, just as my professor predicted. This past year, I found myself teaching Economics to my 12th graders and believe me, it’s a class that’s still coma-inducing. So I made them the same offer: read Atlas Shrugged and tell me what you get out of it. I also decided to give the book another run-through myself just so I could be prepared to answer their questions.
It was like I was reading an entirely different novel! All the capitalism/socialism stuff remained familiar but there were new ideas in there about sex and the relationships between men and women that I couldn’t have or wouldn’t have appreciated when I was 19 years old. Ayn Rand, a woman whose fame comes entirely from her Objectivism philosophy and her knowledge of the path of the American economy, also incorporated an incredible understanding of the sexual tendencies in men and women. Read more
Opposite patterns that just do not go together. That’s how I describe the relationship I have with this person I know on Facebook. I am allergic to him. Don’t laugh. You’re allergic to people, too. You just didn’t know it until reading this.
Have you ever known someone or known of them from a distance, and on the surface your potential for friendship seemed so promising? Your child’s algebra teacher, who seemed like such a cool chick when you first met at orientation. Your favorite student’s mom, who was so hysterical and real the first time you spoke over the phone. The other parents you were introduced to at the ballpark last week, realizing with amazement how many common friendships you shared with each other. All of the factors for a promising camaraderie were in place. The problem is, you realized there was a rub there and you couldn’t quite explain it or name what it was about her stripes or his plaid that didn’t match one of the polka dot patterns in your personality. Read more
If you have perused the pages of this website with any depth you have gathered by now that image means a lot to me. I fight getting old with a furor. I utilize uncomfortable and inconvenient methods for staying young-ish because I am just not yet ready to throw in the towel and start knitting, canning and wearing Christmas sweaters. It’s vanity at its worst. Still, in spite of my dedication, life often takes a jab at me anyway, just to put me in my place.
It’s my knees. They scream and moan at me every day. If knees had naggy voices, mine would say, “Oh dear God, what were you thinking walking a mile down the beach, woman?” or “Yep, this is gonna be a four-Advil day. I hope you’re happy.”
It’s my hair. It looks every bit as old as I actually am. I grieve for the old days when I whined because it took an eternity to blow dry it. (Sigh) Oh, those days are no more.
And it’s my eyes. They are tired and unfocused, handicapped and aimless without a good pair of reading glasses. READING GLASSES!
Sometimes my students grow up to be my friends. Sometimes, strangely, my students even grow up to be extraordinarily special to me in ways I never would have expected, like when they turn out to be hugely successful and I actually seek them out for help or advice.
Under strange and special circumstances, a student even grows up to be the kind of person I deeply admire and envy. Now, that doesn’t happen as often as you might guess, because age and wisdom usually only flow in a single direction, in the way the influence of mentors is supposed to trickle uniquely downward. It happened here though, with this young scribe I once graded and critiqued. She has grown into a mammoth talent, a lifestyle photographer with crazy skillz-with-a-z behind the lens. She is becoming her own Southern wedding empire with three small children in tow, and her #dearjason tributes to her husband belong in Taylor Swift song lyrics.
But that’s not what draws me to her — it’s her writing. Read more
I took on a challenge a while back, one that has changed me in deep and profound ways as a mother, as a teacher, and as a friend. When my son began high school over three years ago, his circle of friends and their inner-connectivity were all at once right in front of me and I had a front row seat to the dynamics of teenage bonds and how they change and grow over time. I wrote in detail about what I was seeing during those days and that post has generated more chatter amongst my mom-friends than perhaps any other piece I’ve ever written.
It seems that girl friendships remain more complicated, more painful, more intricate and more beautiful than ever.
They cruise the human emotional spectrum almost daily, from giggly, heartwarming elation to often secret, painful exclusion. But oh, those bonds are so, so much deeper now than they were just a few years ago, and yet they still trip us up. How? Why? I decided to give the post a re-visit. Read more