Thanksgiving Beauty

Thanksgiving was beautiful. It was just us and my parents. Dad made turkey because Mom is turkey crazy on Thanksgiving. I don’t really understand because I’m not a fan, but I love that Dad does this for her.

It’s their way.

Dad has psoriatic arthritis. He hurts all the time. But he never complains. Last year Mom was in the hospital with MRSA. She missed Thanksgiving and Christmas at home, and Dad was all out of sorts not making the turkey for her.

It was good to eat turkey and cranberry salad Mom made. Mom made the cranberry salad in spite of tremors that make chopping tough. Actually the salad isn’t easy to make without tremors. She made it anyway. Because Dad made turkey, and cranberry salad is a must if there’s turkey.

So we ate a delicious Thanksgiving lunch that wasn’t about eating but was about spending time with each other, and that was beautiful.

I’d tried to convince them to go out since it was just us. I mean you cook for hours and hours and eat in twenty minutes.

But that’s the point, isn’t it?

It’s giving and sharing and talking and laughing and cleaning up and laughing and then sitting around the table playing dominoes. They taught us how to play Moon. And as we played they laughed and reminded us about Grandma and Grandpa loving that game. They did love to play games, especially domino games and Skip-Bo.

And that’s Thanksgiving too. Memories of loved ones who have passed. Memories in the recipe for cranberry salad and how they loved to eat the turkey skin and how their pie crust was better than store bought and how they ate cornbread soaked in buttermilk for a treat.

Thanksgiving was beautiful. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

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Oh NaNo

Oh NaNo. I had such sweet hopes for our relationship this November. October had other ideas.

Here we are 8 days in to our NaNo fun and I’ve written zero NaNo words.

It’s okay though. October’s work is slowly moving toward conclusion.

Looking forward to you, NaNo.

👩‍💻

Heart broken and so, so tired of writing this post

Another day, another mass shooting. I’m writing this more than a day after a gunman walked in with a Rugar AR-556 rifle and slaughtered almost 30 innocent people as they wrapped up service at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX.

And in hours since I’ve heard “there’s nothing we can do about this except arm ourselves” more times than I can count.

As if more guns is a real answer for anyone other than gun manufacturers making huge profits on the loss of innocent lives.

It’s time for us to talk about real gun regulation in this country. I’m sure we won’t. Instead we’ll talk about thoughts and prayers and armed guards at the doors of our churches and open carry in the coffee shop, and politicians will scream about the “politicization” of a gunman mowing down innocents–as if the politicization of everything from oatmeal to socks wasn’t their stock in trade. And we’ll see a surge in gun sales for these kinds of guns and the magazines that allow this kind of killing and the contraptions that turn these lethal weapons into machine guns all of which will continue to be legal because “the 2nd Amendment, man. The 2nd amendment.”

And I’ll still get messages about why we need to be armed in case our government tries to take over our government. And it’s all Obama’s fault. And guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

And there will still be the dead and dying in a tiny Texas town. Which will be in the news for maybe another day or two. Or maybe a week or two. Or maybe, if we’re really lucky, a month or two. Until the next mass shooting causes the same questions and non-answers and we do it all over again without ever really doing anything about it.

Heart broken and so, so tired of writing this post.

It’s a Choice

We’ve struggled finding a new church.

We thought we’d found one but then the preacher did a whole sermon on how if you’re a Christian you won’t have any problems parenting, and it became clear the man had never parented a day in his life. His wife parented. He golfed and hung out with the menfolk.

We thought we found others but their ministers equated republican with Jesus and that’s the opposite of biblical.

So we quit searching.

There’s the truth of it. It hasn’t been a struggle at all. It’s been a willingness to drop the church part of our lives.

It’s not a good thing. We don’t have our people. We don’t have the mentors and friends to do life with. We don’t have the fellowship and worship community. We don’t have the comfort and knowledge of a church home. And every time we’ve looked for it we’ve found politics and division and fake Jesus.

I don’t think we need a church to have a direct connection to Jesus. But a church gives us a family in Christ, and that we do need. At least I do. Especially in this season that is so hard.

This weekend I swore we were going to check out a new church. One in a denomination that has been outspoken to the fact that the church is meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus not a political mouthpiece for either US political party.

We got up with plenty of time to go, but we paused. We thought. We talked about it and we watched Meet the Press and Face the Nation and then it was too late.

I looked at the church website and saw they had a live feed just like our old church back home. We decided to check it out.

It was different, a little slower than what we’re used to, but the message was exactly what I needed to hear.

I don’t know if this will be my church. There’s a contact form on the website. I kind of want to ask them questions about their thoughts on politics and the church before I go. Today I think I’ll go Sunday. Today it’s easy to think I’ll go Sunday.

We’ll see.

The NoNaNo NaNo

It’s Nov. 1, aka NaNoWriMo kickoff. And I’m not NaNo-ing because I missed my self-imposed draft deadline for book 3 in a romantic suspense trilogy.

I was sick with alien flu. But I still could have finished the draft IF I hadn’t procrastinated.

Soooooo, I’m sprinting with NaNo on the draft. When it’s done, I get to start Sharlene Gallagher book 4, my 2017 NaNo Novel. Until then…ACK! Write like the wind.

*The picture is my so called glamorous author life. Ahahahaha.

I Remember, but I wish I didn’t

I posted this on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

A Writer's Life

I remember 9/11.
I can see it as clearly as if I were standing in the newsroom with my students– on the phone with my husband telling me to turn the channel to MSNBC because something had happened at the Twin Towers. I can relive every moment as my class watched in horror as the second plane crashed intentionally into the second tower. We didn’t stop watching.

When I got home, I kept the TV on. I didn’t turn the TV off for a week. Not for a second. Every night I tried to sleep, but the news was on. Always.
As I prayed and asked God for a miracle.
That someone would be alive.

I didn’t know a single person in New York or D.C. that day, but it felt like every person interviewed was a neighbor. I watched, stunned, as day after day after day people who lost…

View original post 610 more words

Living Out Loud

It’s senior picture day at Chisholm. Not gonna lie, I feel a little weepy. I got here, badged in, opened the black box and got the dressing rooms ready for girls, the theater room open for boys and made sure the bathrooms were easily accessible for kids and GlamourCraft. Our lead custodian was here so she turned on the lights and opened the hall to my room. I sent a Remind out to let the kids know the newsroom is open if they wanted to work or use the computers.

It’s a normal Saturday. And I’m at my school. And I’m so proud to be a Ranger.

Last year at this time I was completely overwhelmed. I badged into the school and had no idea what to do. The Glamour Craft people did and they helped me. I didn’t know where to find the custodians or how to get help. I got lost getting from the black box area to my classroom. And I felt like I’d never call this giant place home. I’m so glad that’s changed.

I mean, I still feel new. And I won’t be here over two decades like I was at Rider, I don’t figure.

But the newsroom, it’s home. And CTHS, that’s the community we cover.

It’s been a long 13 months.

We didn’t know Brian’s dad would be sick when I took this job, didn’t know we’d spend half our time apart, didn’t know we’d be in the apartment for more than a minute. I sure as heck didn’t know when I moved to the Metroplex where so many friends and family members lived that 12 miles is like traveling to a different continent down here if it means going anywhere near the 35 or Alliance.

I didn’t know I’d be feeling somewhat adrift on the ocean of possibilities so I’d go to work, drive straight home and then do it again the next day with a stop at Starbucks and phone calls and FaceTimes with Brian and Katie/Olivia the only thing to break the monotony.

I didn’t dream I’d let intimidation of the roads, new people, new places, the fact that I’m lost when it comes to directions, traffic and the unknown fence me in to such a tiny space in life, where adventures waited for Brian and living out loud was a memory.

I didn’t know, didn’t dream any of that.

But all of that was a Godsend.

Because on the other side is this. This feeling of belonging, this sense of pride, this knowledge that I’m home.

I’ll still be intimidated by the roads here: seriously, EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION! And I think I might need 4-wheel drive to navigate the bumps in the roads caused by giant trucks brought in and out to construct new neighborhoods overnight. I’ll still be intimidated by new faces and places, but comfort zones are made to be pushed.

I’ll still be lost.

But I remember now. Lost is half the fun of living out loud.

Year 24: A new year in a turbulent time

This is one of my favorite times of the year. The blank slate, fresh start, new beginning of a school year.
But the white supremacist march in Charlottesville and the death of a counter protestor and two law enforcement officers eclipsed all my normal joy.
Seeing those angry people holding Nazi flags, Confederate flags and other symbols of hate while they shouted hateful words including Nazi slogans hurt my heart. Seeing so many of those faces and thinking they're not that much older than the children in my classroom hurt even more.
All day I've felt this darkness, this pain, this awful pollution of the soul.
And then as I sat down to write this, something shifted.
I'm a teacher. A public school teacher. The public school is everything that stands against hate. The public school is a place where playing fields are leveled, where cultural differences are embraced, where kids of all races and religions and genders work together constantly. It wasn't always so, but the world changed, thank God.
The angry hate we saw in Virginia this weekend was loud. It was awful. But those people lost a long time ago, and the public school helped make that happen.
So here I am, sad but hopeful, sure beyond doubt that my job, my mission, is more important than ever.

Together Again

A million years ago Sandra Scheller allowed me to observe her journalism classes at Rider High School when I was an MSU student. After four years she let me take over the Rider newspaper after I was hired as an English teacher.when I left Rider last year Sandra took the newspaper back after 22 years. Now we’re at Gloria Shields Workshop together. Life is so awesome. 

Yearbook Day

I want the yearbooks I advise to make kids happy. I hope when they look at the book they see their school and think, wow, my school is so cool! I want people who don’t go to my school to look at the book and think, wow, I wish I went to that school. And I want the book to be pretty. 

When the book comes out, I hope it looks like the process of making it was effortless.  (Hahahahaha.)

And, I’m not gonna lie, I hope people say they love the book.

All of the above is me. The kids on staff want to world to love their hard work. They want kudos too.

Which is why for years, ever since adviser Lori Oglesbee shared her yearbook day letter at a workshop, I’ve done the same.

The letter says something along the lines of: yay yearbook! Then: all the facts about distribution. Then:  to teachers, in the same way you wouldn’t criticize an athlete for a bad play or a theatre kid for a flubbed line, please do not hurt the kids by complaining about the book to them and please come see me if there are real issues that need to be addressed. 

I warn the kids to be ready. Love your work. Be proud. You did an amazing job. You took all these pages that were completely blank and turned them into this beautiful work of art. But there will be mistakes because this is a printed product produced on a deadline and you and I are human. Mistakes are part of the process. And mistakes or complaints will be a constant in your day when we release the book. Love the book anyway. And come up with some great ways to handle the minor complaints: oh man, I am so sorry! Wait. We only have 12 people on staff next year. You should fit yearbook in your schedule and we won’t have that problem! Or oh wow! Yeah. You have 100s in all your classes too, right? No? But it’s the same thing. Our mistakes are just published. Or just a simple I am so sorry meant for real. On the big things I tell the kids to bring the kid with the issue to me. 

We do respond now though. But always in a way that hopefully stays fun. Negativity is a snowball. Little things grow and grow and before you know it one person’s little problem has become an entire group’s avalanche of awful. Add in social media and you’ve got a mess sometimes. 

And all of that is so important for the kids to learn and experience. 

Thick skin is something you have to acquire through trial by fire. Once you’ve got it, it serves you well for life. 

So yesterday was yearbook day 19 for me, and it was beautiful. And it was also tough. But more than anything, it was a huge part of the learning experience. 

Yay yearbook!


The photos are from when the staff saw their book for the first time. They were so happy. That’s the moment that makes advising the best!