The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

A Tale of Two Cities

This time reminds me of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities. Specifically, the beginning. In America, too often, it's the haves and the have-nots.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”

The best of it? People are peacefully protesting the horror of what happened to George Floyd. Mayors and police chiefs are uniting and marching with their community members. The worst of it? George Floyd is one name in a string of names. Some people are choosing to loot and destroy. An age of wisdom? Newark and Flint--poorer communities--have had no looting. The police officers did not come out in riot gear and shields. They left their batons in their building. An age of foolishness? Our president has said, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” He’s got a horribly heavy hand. I could go on. And on...

image by Pixabay

We need to do some serious evaluation of what goes on in America. We need to do some amputation, some surgery. We need to undergo some honest rehabilitation… because America is not well. What is going on is sick. It’s horrible.

Before George Floyd was murdered, I wrote a post about the health of a writer for WOW. I’ve been reflecting on the mental and physical health of people who write.

Now, I’m worried more about the health of our country.

I saw Keegan-Michael Key, usually a hilarious guy, speak about this time. He explained, in a very simple way, why I (a white person) should never counter “Black lives matter,” with “All lives matter.” He likened it to thinking the fire department should spray down all the houses in the neighborhood, even if only one house is on fire. Yes, it’s important if your house is on fire. But right now, your house is not on fire.

Right now, it’s not a white person who just got kneeled on by a police officer (an officer who was so casual, he had his hands in his pockets) until he was choked to death.

Think about what we can do--what you can do--to make our country better… for all people.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Good-Byes... and Future Hellos

Yesterday I was part of a 12-person, 8-car caravan. We were on the road from 1-7, delivering yard signs and t-shirts for the 8th graders at my soon-to-be-former school. Like everyone else, these teens have had to settle for less as they settle into a different life. No graduation party for them. No mystery trip. No flurry of picture-taking and last-chance jokes before they head off to different high schools.

All the teachers signed each of the 26 signs with personal messages about how fun high school was going to be, what a pleasure they were to get to know--things like that. And a surprise: they had gotten a sign made for me and had covered the back with sweet notes written in Sharpies. When we stuck the signs in the yards, had the students put on the t-shirt and took pictures, we honked our horns and said silly things in a bull horn.

As I’m looking for a new school--a new professional home--I’m already missing my old work “home.” This is a supportive, funny, strong, bawdy and honest group of educators. There were times during this school year (more times that I’d like to admit) where I cried. Sometimes during school hours, and I’d have to open my eyes extra wide to keep the tears from brimming over as I turned with my back to the class. Sometimes after dismissal, where I’d hide in my room as the hot flood flowed down my cheeks… and each time, one (or more) of those teachers would hunt me down and give me a hug as they talked some reason into my head. Or they’d give me a card the next day with a lottery ticket or a candy bar attached. They were there for me during a rough patch… and for that I’m eternally grateful.

Radar looks way better naked than I do in sweat pants...

As I’ve learned (so many times) how hard it is to say good-bye, I’m learning things about myself and writing during this quarantine. Wouldn’t you like to know what Sioux is wearing these days? (Possibly not.) Would you like to know how she’s occupying her time? (Definitely not.) However, if you’re brave enough, check out her post yesterday on The Muffin.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

These Crazy Days

These days, I’ m worried about what everybody’s worried about. No, not a lack of toilet paper (we have enough of that). But, along with the more serious concerns, there are some minor ones.

Like my hair. In the last 6 months, I found a shorter hairstyle that I like. Every month, I was getting it trimmed.

No more. I can trim my bangs, and probably do a passable job, but the back? The sides? I’m afraid I’m going to be rocking a mullet soon, and nobody wants to see Sioux in a mullet.

The corona 15. People (me included) are eating more than usual. We’re stuck with books, our television and our refrigerator. There are jokes that we’ll all gain 15 pounds before this is over. Stress eating or boredom eating? You be the judge.

My yarn supply. One of the things I’ve been occupying myself with (along with avoiding writing and the distance teaching I’m doing) is knitting. I’ve knit a baby blanket for my soon-to-be-born grandson (due in June). I’ve knit a baby/family blanket for a French great-niece or nephew (due in September). I’ve knit one scarf for our dog rescue’s silent auction. Now I’m knitting a scarf for myself with some left-over yarn, and I’m afraid I won’t have enough.

These days, we’re losing loved ones. My son, a doctor, is still okay. Everyone I know and love is uninfected and healthy--except for a couple of friends who are battling cancer. This week, the coronavirus claimed two legendary singers--Bill Withers and John Prine. Everybody’s familiar with Bill Withers, but John Prine flew under the radar when it came to some. Musicians from all different backgrounds loved him, and commonfolk like me adored his humor, his poignancy and his humbleness.

If you'd like to read what scares me when it comes to writing, read my post on The Muffin. And, if you'd like to hear John Prine (in his earlier years), listen to "Angel From Montgomery."

If you'd like to see how subtle (and how funny) John Prine could be, listen to "The Other Side of Town" which is about a husband's selective hearing...

... because these days, we need reasons to laugh and to embrace the joy when we find it.

Monday, March 16, 2020

What is a "Shay"?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a time of indifference, it was a time of toilet paper hoarding...

I'm on spring break this week. Then, for the next two weeks (a minimum of two weeks), I'll be teaching via the internet.

The times, they are a' changin'. (Dickens and Dylan in the same post?)

I'm looking forward to getting some things done around the house, getting caught up on my "five a day" queries, and maybe even getting some gen-u-ine writing done. I submitted a Chicken Soup for the Soul story yesterday and earlier in the week I submitted a narrative poem to them (probably pointless).

image by Pixabay

At the end of the month I'll be facilitating a writing retreat. Facilitating is a loose term. I arranged for our accomodations. I sent a variety of irritating and mailbox-clogging emails. I'll arrange the group into small response groups. This time I will use bleach wipes several times a day to clean the door knobs and the light switches, and I'll wipe down the tables before we begin on Saturday morning. I'll close down our meeting hall on Sunday evening... and that's it.

On my most recent post at The Muffin, I mentioned some writing colleagues--writing folks who had helped me out. If you're curious about what (or who) a "Shay" is, or you're interested in who has helped me in my writing so you can slash their tires and make them promise to never ever help Sioux again, check out my post on the power of a word.

Stay safe and healthy. But don't be goin' crazy...

Monday, March 2, 2020

A Three-Legged Sioux

Yes, you got that right. Along with things gone droopy and things getting wrinkly and things rapidly going gray, I've grown a third leg... or so it seems.

It appears I'm waiting for one particular thing to happen to one shoe.

photo by Pixabay

Oh, don't let this photo fool you. I haven't cast away my ugly-but-comfortable shoes and developed a love of high heels. In fact, I was at an out-of-town teacher conference this weekend and after packing what I thought were all my things, I noticed my navy blue Crocs partially hidden under the bed.

A catastrophe narrowly missed! Those trusty shoes have been hosed off so many times and yet still they're reliable. Attractive, no. Comfy, yes.

(My daughter and her family would have been over-the-moon if those BUS (butt-ugly shoes) had been left behind. Too bad for them, great for me.)

What is your favorite pair of shoes, and why?

And Sioux with three legs? You can read my post on The Muffin if you'd like to know why I apparently grew a third leg.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Handling Tension

Okay, to be completely honest, I used to deal with pressure with the "Seefood" diet. You know, see food (brownies, rolls, mashed potatoes), and eat them. These days, I'm trying to mend my ways.

But writers have to deal with tension. If there's no tension, there's nothing interesting happening. If there's no tension, there's nothing to compel the reader to keep reading. So, even though tension is not good for my waistline nonexistent waistline, it is necessary for stories.

In my most recent post at The Muffin, I share one of my favorite David Bowie songs. No, it's not Young American, but that one is a contender.

If you'd like to see David Bowie with huge shoulder pads as he wails out Young American, check this video out.

And if you'd like to find out the book I just finished and am recommending to every person I meet on the street--strangers as well as friends--read my Muffin post.

(It's a whole class on how to handle tension in a novel.)