Learning to Let Go: Year Eleven

6 Oct

Slowly, I realize your pencil is sharpest while my eyes are averted. Your attention is focused on the page, on the numbers, on the words you are meant to memorize when I hold my tongue.

You are every day so much more your own person – conscientious, creative, sharp-witted, smart – and you prefer not to filter yourself through the words or the gaze or the systems designed by your mother. I get it. I was where you are once.

I respect your choices. I respect your desires. I appreciate that good work, good grammar, completion of anything you begin matters to you. This is everything. This is … you becoming you.

As I, again, become me.

I am still your mom. I will always be your mom, wanting you to succeed, offering to put myself, my life, my own choices, desires, preferences on the line for you, even as you silently show me this isn’t what you need. Or want.

But this is my struggle: Being me, just me, knowing I am enough on my own. I am enough when I step back, when I talk about something other than you, when there is space between us. I am enough when I do me.

This is a middle school lesson I must learn – and not only for myself, which is why it may stick.

This stepping back is how I let you do you, too.

Flip Flops - Cabo

Email sent WED at 3:30 p.m.

17 Sep

It’s 3:30. School’s out. Middle school auditions are today, directly after school, and I am sitting at my desk downtown, acutely aware of the time.

I will not text Miss E
I will not text Miss E about her audition
I will not text Miss E
I will not text Miss E
I will not remind Miss E to introduce herself
I will not text Miss E
I will not send Miss E emoticons like kissy faces or thumbs extended upward
I will not text Miss E
I will not text Miss E
I will not text Miss E
I will not text Miss E
I will not tell Miss E to please use excellent diction and speak slowly and don’t overact and enjoy the experience and breathe deeply
I will do none of this because SHE’S GOT THIS

I will not text Miss E
I will not text Miss E

I promise:
I will not text our daughter today.
Unless she texts me first.



19 Aug


A Walk in the City

22 Jul


Underpass II

Underpass II

Wall II






All the Lilypads

8 Jul








Road Trip

4 Jul

I knew my period was coming. I felt it in my paper thin disconnection from the people around me hours before I felt it in my body.

I didn’t know it yet, though, when I drove my car around the bend. I should have. My period has been unpredictable for awhile. I should have known, as I faltered so brilliantly: This was the day it would begin again. But I didn’t.

Not that it would have made much difference.

Half a block from my daughter’s friend’s house, I knew only that the car was packed and we were on our way, forty-five minutes early, all of us eager to begin. The sun was the perfect brightness for mid-morning and I was headed out of town for the holiday in a t-shirt, short pants and sandals. Life. Was. Grand!

When we turned down my daughter’s friend’s street, I was faced with a choice: Drive along the narrow passage to the left of a large, well-marked, gaping hole and risk my wheels tipping into the hole … OR … Drive into the one-inch deep indentation in the road in front of me and risk scraping the bottom of my car.


In retrospect, I should have parked right there at the moment of choice and walked to the end of the block to retrieve our young friend with her overnight bag. But, no.

I drove right into the indentation. Right INTO the indentation. I didn’t understand what was happening when I first began to sink. I didn’t have a sinking sensation. It wasn’t like that. I was stuck. I knew that much. I tried to drive forward. I tried to drive in reverse. I floored the gas pedal. I rocked the wheel back and forth, trying to get a better angle on the bumps leading into and out of the hole, but my car wouldn’t budge. So I put on my hazards and opened the car door to wet cement.


What I love is that when I texted my Honey to let her know I was stuck in wet cement, she called to ask if I was speaking metaphorically. Gotta love being married to a poet, right? I assured her I wasn’t, then got off the phone immediately because people were arriving to push my car out of the hole. More people. Trying again to push my car out of the hole. Trying to help. It still wouldn’t budge.

By then, I’d been talking and trying and scheming and worrying for nearly an hour and my hopes were sinking as the cement dried.

Eventually, two very kind men pulled my car out of the hole backwards across two thin boards, pulling it with a heavy chain up the tilted bed of a flatbed truck. The cement company manager hosed down my tires, removing hubcaps and carefully cleaning the inside of each wheel. He hosed down the under-carriage, too, ensuring my brakes and everything else was free from debris. I was grateful. Embarrassed and grateful.


I mean, even if there isn’t a sign, who doesn’t recognize wet cement?

Still, my car – two hours later and with all four wheels on the road – was much cleaner than when we began. My girl was giggling with a friend in the backseat. And I had the pleasure of knowing we had pulled all the neighbors out of their houses for a mid-morning summer block   party   gaper’s circle   gathering of concerned citizens. Clearly, our village neighbors had my back. Especially the mother of my daughter’s friend, who didn’t leave my side once the whole time.

One gentleman, after telling me all about the trials and tribulations of his niece’s transracial domestic adoption, even asked if he should take up a collection for the tow truck fee.

I love where I live.

And I love that I’m able, now and again, to drive away. Even if I drive into a few unmarked holes and have to wait for a heavy chain and a handful of kind souls to help. I mean, that’s life, right? Metaphorically speaking.


Here’s hoping for a smooth ride home.

With love,


Privilege isn’t something you can give away like a dollar

18 Jun

wpid-img_20150613_122954.jpgI feel like I should contribute something meaningful to the conversation, but I have no words. None. I have nothing useful to say. Nothing that hasn’t already been said. Nothing fresh. No magic to bring us all back together again, to fix the cracks, to rebuild a society that makes sense, that nurtures and supports all its members.

There are people who have plenty to say – plenty that’s useful, that’s healing, that’s strong, calling us back to our best selves. Listen to them.

I’ve got nothing.

I don’t want to claim Rachel Dolezal, and I do not want to claim what’s-his-face who killed nine people in Charleston, South Carolina in cold blood yesterday after praying with them for an hour.

Today, I just want to live in a commune somewhere, to simply skip off the grid and out of society.

But I am a witness now. We are all witnesses now. And we can let this change us, we can step in and change things, or we can turn away.

I know this, and I don’t want to know it. I don’t want to choose. I don’t want to know I’m choosing.

Because of course, I am still very much on the grid – and yes, I choose to stay – in my temperate house on my tree-lined street with my kid in a summer theater camp and my laptop fully charged. What I am is privileged. What I am is white.

What I am is scrolling through my Facebook feed and wondering what to contribute – until slowly and reluctantly, I realize that what I need to ask here is NOT: What do I say? But rather: What do I do?

Do I hold a longer conversation with the guy in the elevator who I’m friendly with every morning, because it’s becoming increasingly clear to all of us – in the building, on the street, on the train, in the neighborhood – that we need each other?

We need to listen to each other.

We need to start over. We need to build from the ground up, from one conversation to the next, speaking even when we don’t have all the words, and listening. We need to do so much more of that.

Privilege isn’t something you can just give away like a dollar, like five dollars, like a meal you can share with someone who needs one. Shedding privilege, balancing power takes time, experience, and intention.

We need to listen to the voices that are hurting, and the voices that heal.

To shift the balance in this country, we – white people – need to listen with intention. But we can’t stop there.

I need to let the actions of these people I don’t want to claim actually teach me to delve into those places where I don’t want to look. To observe my own blind spots. Because what I am witnessing – and we each may witness something different – but what I am witnessing here is where white people go when we spin out of control in the direction we’re headed already.

We need to course-correct, and none of us can do this alone.

We need to see where we’re going.

We need to listen to the voices that are hurting, and the voices that heal.

We need to speak the truth.

And to start shifting the balance in this country, we need to act with intention. Every. Single. Day.


17 Jun

Thirsty - Better Half

Thirsty - Latte

Thirsty - Izze


Last Day

4 Jun

Last kids’ yoga class.
Last night of tutoring.
Last Girl Scout gathering.
Last day with a school-issued iPad.

Last day of elementary school.

With each last, my girl looks me in the eye,
pouts her lip like she did when she was five
and says, “How sad!” But she doesn’t mean it.
She cracks the tiniest smile each time,

leaving me to ask myself if Sad
is the only ending I offered,
if Sad is the only ending I know.

Tomorrow, I drop my daughter off
for the last day of fifth grade.

Tomorrow, I drop my daughter off
for her last day of fifth grade.

And tomorrow night, we dance.

Learning to Type

29 May

pay phoneA few weeks after Kelly and I started dating, on the 45-minute drive between her home and mine, I decided I needed a mobile phone — to stay connected with the people in my life. Before Kelly, I talked with friends every night from my home phone — you know, the one that plugged into the wall. Nearly every lunchtime, I chatted from the office phone, too, or from the pay phone downstairs in the quick-stop market next to a machine that every thirty seconds announced, “Create-a-Card!”

Now, twelve years later, I text. Silently. Briefly.

While I was in high school, my dad spent long hours on the computer at night. It upset my mom, who wanted him around while she ironed and watched her shows. She wanted him to come to bed before she fell asleep. She wanted to see him, talk with him, be with him. Never mind that she was lesbian. That didn’t come to light for a long, long time and by then, I had decided technology was the enemy, keeping people apart, stealing our attentions, lighting up our lives in unnatural ways. I wanted nothing to do with computers. I didn’t even want to learn to type.

I’m not saying this line of reasoning was wrong.

But I remember earlier, a younger me sitting in a room on campus, where I’d go sometimes with my professor dad. I remember drawing or writing or reading or waiting while the computer spit out green and white striped pages, connected and perforated. The computers were enormous and loud. I loved their racket all around me. I loved their rhythms and their beeps and their hums. I loved knowing my dad was nearby, and understood these big brilliant things. No one else I knew had seen a room like this. No one I knew had any inkling what these tall, touch-the-ceiling computers with their dot matrix and binary codes would eventually become. No one I knew had any clue, except my dad.

He was thrilled by them.

Eventually, I learned to type because I wanted to act. My parents required it. You want to act? You’ll learn to type. I hated having a back-up plan. I wanted to succeed on the stage.

I would have, too, if I’d been willing to wander around the country for a long, long while, never settling in one place, never knowing how long a given gig would last. I would have made enough money to scrape by, to sleep under some roof, to eat. I would have. Probably.

I acted for a long time. I supported myself. I dug into Chicago. I built a life. I tried to wait tables and failed. I signed with a temp agency, learned some word processing, formatted documents, changed colors and fonts. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote, and now, to support myself and contribute to the family income, I write mostly for the worldwide web. By typing. At a computer. Every. Single. Day.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 504 other followers

%d bloggers like this: