I could write about how stretched to the limit I am.  Like…

How a day of benchmark testing students is never an easy day, regardless of my suppositions.

How my timing is off once again, requiring students to turn in a critical piece of writing just days before quarterly grades are due.

How I’ve over-committed myself AGAIN to activities both work and home related.

How I’ve just heard some of my favorite people are moving to a new school in the fall.

How I really want to eat a pound or two of chocolate but it’s spring and since my fat clothes are getting tight, I imagine what it’s going to be like getting into shorts.  Yuck.

How the rest of the world isn’t cooperating with my plans.  And even though I’ve learned in the past not to pin my hopes on the actions of others, it seems like I’ll never learn, will I?

How sending a package to my son at college will bring me joy instead of a headache due to all the minutia of packing up: the box not being the right size, the crappy tape, the smell of a sharpee, finding stuffing and finally having to stop at the post office before finally making it home to lie on the couch for a few minutes before someone needs me.

How I feel like I disappointed my spouse because I asked him to delay his birthday for a day because I was exhausted from the weekend with houseguests, and then ended up being really crabby the next day anyway (maybe more so?).  And I forgot my credit card and he ended up paying for his own birthday dinner (even though the money all comes from the same place).

How I had to find a lifeguarding recertification class IN NEW YORK instead of Virginia for my 19 year old because he starts his summer job the day after he comes home from college.

How looking for stencils and borders for some ugly white cabinets as an alternative to new ones will be exciting and creative, instead finding WAY too many choices and becoming  too overwhelmed to even care.

How much time I’ve wasted looking for things I don’t need instead of taking care of the time-sensitive things that need to be done (for example, grades).

How every time that damn loudspeaker comes on I jump out of my chair and want to scream and commit hari-kari.

How soon I will own three houses and have no business owning three houses.  And how I’ll be in debt up to my eyeballs.

How my knees and hands hurt.  Aging sucks.

How exhausting it is to have houseguests, even if they’re family and you love them more than anything.  It’s just that there’ll be someone in my space who wants to talk after work and all I want to do is stare at a blank wall for a while.

How I seem to be the glue in most areas of my life: home, classroom, family.  What happened to my devil-may-care life?

But I won’t write about those things today.





Too loud?

We are the loud family.
Relentlessly noisy.
Music.  Voices.
Crashing.  Clinking.
Clashing.  Sniping.
Barking.  Yelling.
Chatter.  Sarcasm.
And above all, laughter.
Our family heals when laughing.

You know you are adult
when you can laugh
about your childhood.
The dysfunction.
The greatest generation.
Their cocktails.
Their approach to child “rearing”
and manners.
Much of it was too much.
And some of it is not enough today.

All of this going on
around me makes
my head spin.
It’s exhausting.
And I wouldn’t want it
any other way.

Too loud?

Reality Break

Every once in a while, I find myself in a situation where I pretend I’m in a scene of a movie.  It’s unpredictable when this will occur and it happens in bits and pieces.  Today this happened.  It goes something like this…

I’m sitting in a library waiting for someone.  I have my headphones on and a very dramatic lone piano is playing a melancholy tune. There are expansive windows in front of me with tinted glass, making twilight even more pronounced—the blues bluer and the yellows yellower.  I look around and the patrons are in their own little world. There’s a sad little man who is making the rounds with a surplus of bags hanging off his arms and shoulders, passing me again.   Everything slows done and I begin to perspire.  I gaze out the window a bit more.  What am I thinking about? Am I pleased with my life or depressed that I haven’t become what I had hoped? I forlornly stare into the distance, pensive.

Scene break.  My husband draws me back into reality with a hand on my shoulder and it’s time to go home, walk the dogs, figure out dinner and catch up on the Walking Dead.  Back to my extraordinary ordinary life.  How I love these strange, unexpected brain vacations.

Reality Break



IMG_1344 (6).jpg

On my beach I find

smooth petrified bone

fragments of shells in perfect color schemes

perfectly white marbled pebbles

skate jaw pieces (at least that’s what I heard)

gold stones whose pallor changes when dry

occasional sea glass not quite ripe yet

flotsam and jetsam that masquerades as something else

all while looking for shark teeth

not so big but just big enough for today.






My coffee pot is gurgling

I’m killing time

(what an awful, perfect expression)

before that glorious first sip

of liquid heaven

I look out the window

the neighborhood fox

is on patrol

bouncing down the lane

stealthily observing

skittishly avoiding

but I see you

I want to approach

you stunning creature

but I’ll never get close


you’ll never let me.




Emotional Eating

I’m in an eating mood today.  I’m in a cheesy soup, warm biscuit mood. I’m in an eat the whole row of Oreos mood.

The better part of my day was spent in five minutes conferences heaping praise on uber-involved parents of children who are geniuses due to their parent’s amazing rearing practices.  It’s like speed dating.  Please move on and I’ll keep smiling.

Unfortunately the parents I really need to see don’t show up for conferences.

I also have lots on my personal plate. Mostly good stuff, but stressful nonetheless. And I’m always afraid things won’t go my way.

It’s cold and wet-snowing. I love snow in the winter months, but I find snow inhospitable in March. As a result, my cold feet are inconsolable.

And I keep hitting the wrong keys on my keyboard.

Is it time for bed yet?  What else is there to eat around here?!?!?





Emotional Eating

Ticket Madness

Milk cream dog food spinach lemon juice yogurt soup cornbread chicken veggies bananas apples clementines sour cream Windex rice beans

I dictated the above items to my iPhone while begrudgingly heading to Safeway after school today. I have grown to hate grocery shopping.  I hate having to handle each item 5 times before I actually get to use it: I put it in the basket, I take it out of the basket, I put it in the car, I take it out of the car, I put it away; it’s maddening.

But the more maddening thing occurred when the sweet young clerk who checked me out handed me a pile of Monopoly tickets, the latest game at the grocery store. I usually blow off these things, thinking I haven’t got the time or the wherewithal, but I accepted them gracefully, shoved them in my coat packet and went on my way to handle my purchases at least three more times.

As I do most weeknights, I had to pick up my husband from the metro.  As usual, I have few minutes to spare so I figured I’d spend the time on my phone checking messages, surfing the internet or scanning Facebook.  I put my hand into my pocket to find my phone and came upon those damn Monopoly tickets.  I decided to see what the fuss was all about and started folding the perforated edges, ripping off the sides and unfolding the little slips of shiny blue paper.  I was only able to open a small portion of the pile before my husband opened the door and we headed home.

Most people would move on and find something far more interesting or productive to do, but I arrived home with my curiosity peaked. I found the two other piles of the game pieces I’d stashed in a basket of crap in the kitchen and set to obsessively tear through the rest of them, determined to finish before dinner.  My husband took the dogs out for their long evening walk and returned to goad me, asking, “You still at it?” (He thinks what I’m doing is ridiculous.)  I attempted to defend my actions but ultimately stopped to have dinner and watch Jeopardy.

So now here I sit in my living room with the alleged Monopoly board out in front of me on the coffee table splitting these tickets open while my fingers turn blue.  I sure hope the glossy blue dye they use isn’t toxic.  I’ve seen medical dramas about that this kind of thing.

IMG_1305 (2)                 IMG_1315

Although I haven’t found the magic big winner piece (yet),  I did win a free doughnut and some canned vegetables and more Monopoly game tickets [heavy sigh] and coupons for things like Pirate Booty and Mountain Dew (no thanks) and Snapple (maybe) and tissue and Atkins snack bars (yuck).  I haven’t even gotten to the teeny weenie little numbered pieces that I have to match on the game board in order to win $1 million or $10 in grocery cards or a $200 family picnic (that’s a lot of potato salad).

I’m aware that it’s likely after all of this effort I will not win.  In fact, I won’t even use the coupons because coupons irritate me.  But maybe I will win the big one; someone has to, right?  I’ll let you know.  Or maybe I’ll be in Tahiti.

Ticket Madness

Oh Alex

You have a place in our homes
And in our hearts.
Regardless of what goes on in our days
Or on the dreadful evening news
At 7:30 we change the channel
And there you are
Like a pleasant, predictable beacon
A fixture
Smiling welcoming engaging
Teasing and testing us
Calling us to compete
And we oblige.
When the kids were babies
The bright blue squares on the screen
Would hold their attention
And we’d have a little peace
In an otherwise chaotic evening.
As they grew older
You became Uncle Alex
And would bookmark our evenings.
Now as you hold court on our screen
And uncover the categories
We each claim our best topics
Hoping we can run the category
And gain your admiration.
We become irritated with the one
Who shouts out the answers
Before anyone else gets the chance
To even think.
You know who you are.
And when the final jeopardy category
Flashes on the screen
We place our bets
All or nothing.
When the final question is unveiled
There’s an unspoken rule
To be quiet
Until each person present
Gets the chance to come up with their answer.
God help you if you shout it out.
Sometimes we get it
Sometimes we don’t.
It doesn’t matter.
That’s not the point.
There’s no one like you, Alex Trebek.
You are family
A dear uncle.
You’re are a part of our nightly ritual.
After you
The night slows down
Dinner is done
And everyone retreats
To their separate corners
Of the house.
But for a short time
You bring us together
Even when tensions are high
Or the mood low
For a 30 minute hiatus
From our angst.
Please don’t go away too soon.
We need you.

Oh Alex

One of Those Days

What are we doing today, Mrs. Brown?

At this point, my snarky comeback usually has to do with getting the warm-up started, which is ALWAYS posted, followed by waving my arms in an overexaggerated manner at the agenda on the board, which is also ALWAYS posted.

It goes something like this: I introduce said student to the board and vice versa (“Johnny, the board.  Board, meet Johnny.”)  Rarely do I achieve the laugh I am going for.

If I’m feeling convivial, I won’t buy into my frustration and simply say, “Please get out the __fill in the blank here___” or “pick up the _____  sheet as you enter the room and read it” or “get ready to turn in the _____” or something to that effect.  Clearly the more adult thing to do.

Regardless of how I present, these are the noises I frequently hear:  Aaaooh. Meh. Noooh. <This is whining—I can’t seem to find the right alphabet letters to make the particular sound a sixth grader makes when they are not pleased. >

This is a chronic occurrence, so much so that I posted this sign above my whiteboard in the front of my classroom:

There's No Whining in English Class - NEW Funny Classroom Poster

It hasn’t worked.  I will also channel Tom Hanks’ character from A League of Their Own and lament, “THERE’S NO WHINING IN MIDDLE SCHOOL!”   That hasn’t worked either.

Oh well.  Good thing I was gifted with a sense of humor–a vital quality for a teacher who chose to teach middle school English, as far as I’m concerned.  That peppered with a little bit of sarcasm at this age pays dividends for all concerned.

One of Those Days

Satisfying Sounds

The crinkle of the wrapper on a new pack of gum
The swift, successful carving of a stack of papers on a papercutter
Shrieking, excited kids outside my window after the last bell of the day
The whooshing sound my iPhone makes when a message is sent
Likewise, the double vibrate when I receive a message
Rhythmic stapling of hundreds of handouts while I wait (no paper jam)
The silence in my classroom when all are deep in thought, answering an open-ended
question about the latest novel they are reading–you can almost hear them thinking
Likewise, ANY time students are discussing literature
Reid playing guitar and singing in the office with confidence and conviction–it also
means he’s home
A shrill whistle that starts a race
The squirting of a Windex bottle on a dirty window, then rubbing the window with a
paper towel until it squeaks
The tinkling and cracking sound bamboo makes when the wind is really blowing
Ice dropping into a glass followed by the fizz of bubbly seltzer
Izzy softly snoring in her hidey-hole bed (she demands attention even while she sleeps)
The low hum of air escaping a vent, the dishwasher at night, the refrigerator during the day when I’m home alone–all these sounds are strangely comforting
The soft knock of someone who doesn’t want to startle you
The last sound a door makes as it’s quietly closed
Tapping of rain on a metal roof while I read
When the one I’m looking for finally answers the phone









Satisfying Sounds