The Maestra

Like a demented maestra, she orchestrated the household.  Her dresses, made by her own arthritic hands, were worn at the belly from years of wiping and toiling.  Pockets were weighed down by More cigarettes, tissues, cough drops and bobby pins.  Coughing fits, generated by inhaling toxins and exacerbated by fierce yelling, were commonplace.  Her ashes would grow longer as her cigarette hovered between her lips, saliva keeping it glued on while she scolded us.  As she walked by the squish squish of her square orthopedic shoes made me hold my breath, hoping that I wouldn’t be the next victim.  The air as she she passed smelled of smoke, loss and broken dreams.  Complaints never ceased; she was exhausted, underappreciated and worn out.  After all, holding hostages was no easy task.

She was dogma.

She was enigma.

She was Grandma.

My Boss, even though she doesn’t like me calling her that.

Although I realize I may be fairly alone in this, I just want to say I love my boss.  You may be a person who respects their boss, tolerates their boss or even is sleeping with their boss (ick).  But my boss is truly worthy of admiration, respect, and a certain amount of vexation.  I mean, how the hell does she do it?  I keep asking myself that, and I can never quite come up with an answer.  Except to say that she is a bundle of energy and love so powerful, I swear that if you plugged a lamp in her arm, it would illuminate our whole town.

Sharron has a head full of curly locks that twist in turn in a million different directions, quite like her life.  Her ample freckles reflect a childlike quality that embraces play.  Girlfriend is fit, she is a triathlete and never stops moving.  Despite being athletic and trim, she is the first to tell everyone else how good they look. The kids we work with love Sharron, partly because she is fun and up for anything.  But also because when she looks at them , they are seen.   And when they talk to her, they are heard.  She has the ability to make any kid feel warm and welcome, even when life has made them feel anything but.

With work or anything she wants, Sharron is competitive and relentless.  But her heart is so big, I am surprised she doesn’t have to cart it around alongside her.  Sharron married her high school sweetheart, her opposite in the introvert and extrovert way, but her partner in crime in every other way. Among her many dichotomies are how hard she works in relation to how hard she plays.  Happy hour?  Yes.  Travel to give lectures?  Yes.  Party at the pool?  Yes.  For forty?  Yes.  Working every day plus nights and weekends? Yes.  Volunteering at the school?  Yes. Huge dinner for the family?  Yes.  Is anyone else tired?

Sharron’s soul is fed by being with children.  It sustains her, enlivens her and fuels her already boundless energy.  Her young sons are the center of her universe, and she unabashedly loves on them.  Because she is an adult with a large capacity for smarty-pantedness, she is also a nationally recognized speaker and clinician.  Because you can’t play all the time.

She’s not perfect.  Her handwriting is horrible.  Because she has so much going on, it’s often difficult to get some time with her.  Sometimes she wishes she could slow down.  But that is her beauty and her grace.  Her willingness to ask questions, be curious, take a chance, set a boundary, give a compliment or give a hug.  Sharron is younger than me.  And roughly the same height.

Still, I look up to her.



Unfortunately, I am notorious for never having a proper bag when my dog poops on a walk.  What can I say?  The excited panting, the screechy whines, the wagging tail; they all distract me from grabbing that little sack before I run out the door (anyone who thinks dogs don’t smile hasn’t seen mine before a walk).

Today, in lieu of the absent bag, I reached for a piece of paper blowing by in hopes of scooping the offensive pile into the nearest garbage can.  The paper was thick, but stained wet and dirty from it’s flopping journey through the park.  As I lifted it, I paused.  There was writing, beautifully scripted on the paper.

All it said was, “Beloved, I’m sorry.  I’m on the 9:10 to Tokyo on Friday.  Please don’t let me go.”  It was also signed:  “Lovingly, Keith.”  The paper had been carefully folded and meticulously written.

I pictured Keith, waiting on the, what, train platform, tarmac?  I pictured his beloved, reading the letter, tears in her eyes as she weighed her options.  Their fate seemed entirely in my hands.  The letter was dated Wednesday.  Time was running out.   A sloppy tongue licked my face back into reality.  I stood and began walking, faster and faster, in the direction of an answer.

Free Write: The Bittersweet

It’s easier to do a lot of things than write.

It’s easier to do the laundry and eat dinner.  It’s easier to text with a friend or get lost in a book.  It’s even easier to go for a hot, sweaty run.  My kids are peeking over my shoulder and wondering what I’m doing.  It’s disconcerting that I am not paying attention to them.  It’s easier to pay attention to them.  They tend not to critique.  Even though they are living reflections of my values, my heart and my soul, raising them does not feel as scary as writing.

Maybe I waited too long.

Maybe I’m too old to start this writing thing.  I don’t have a journalism degree.  I’m a marginal speller.  It seems to me that the last thing this world needs is another fucking writer.  There are already plenty of us after all.  We’re everywhere:  in blogs, books, on back porches, in the library late at night.  We suck the honey from the bee.  And we do it everywhere. Maybe we are worried people will tell us to shut up.  But we can’t help it.  It’s in us.  When we don’t do it, we think about it.  When we do write, we obsess about it.  It never seems good enough.  But it has to happen.

When I was pregnant, I had a dream that I wasn’t pregnant anymore.  At first, I felt relieved.  No more nausea!  No more worry that I won’t be a good mom!  No more back pain!  Now I don’t have to go through labor!  And then…panic.  Wait, I want it back.  I need it.   I can do it.  I have no choice.  This is who I am.  This is what I was meant to do.

It’s the same with writing, really.  Sometimes I think, no more.  No more checking my email the day after a post to see if anyone liked it.  No more crossing my arms tightly over my belly as someone reads my work.  I can just do yoga or something.  And then…panic.  Wait, I need it.  I can do it.  I have no choice.  This is who I am.  This is what I was meant to do.