Stopping

for a break is valuable 
but when you stop
what do you do?
does the mind wander too much?
why is it hard to refocus?
start again,
build momentum
why stop?
is it to observe?
try something new?
look for something, or
let something find you?
rather than restarting, 
it's time to 
continue 
this thing that 
sustains and
feeds me,
consider words 
that want to be said,
that need saying
was the stopping meant
for listening?
how do you 
bring everything together?
Tuesday, May 10, 2022

(Not So) Alarming

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

I have always set two alarms. One for 5:30 a.m. and one for 6:15 a.m. I figured out the latest I can get up, fly by the seat of my pants on a jeans and school t-shirt day, is 6:30 a.m. I have to skip my morning pages, although I don’t like doing that, scald my throat glugging my coffee, sweep in whatever food fits into my lunch bag, and get going. I can make it to work on time and look (mostly) normal. This isn’t ideal, but having tried it a few times, it’s acceptable.

Recently, I’ve (sort of) given up my morning alarm clock. Most nights I still toss and turn, but it’s been so much better. What has worked is setting the alarm for that latest possible jump out of bed our you’ll be so late time. My I’ve-hit-the-snooze-button-for-an-entire-hour-it’s-time-to-suck-it-up-and-get-out-of-bed-already time. One alarm. 6:30 a.m. I wake up at 5:00 and sometimes go back to sleep. I wake up at 5:15 and sometimes go back to sleep. I wake up at 5:50 and decide not to go back to sleep. It’s almost like I’m hitting the snooze button without the annoyance of an alarm clock beeping. Except it is annoying. But it isn’t a heart stopping I’m going to rip that thing out of the wall annoying.

If I start tossing and turning in the middle of the night, rather than counting the number of hours of sleep I haven’t had, I tell myself I can “sleep in” until 6:30. All will be well with the world. On most days, I wake up a little past 5:30 and get up without any snooze button calculations. I turn off the alarm so it doesn’t wake my husband while I’m getting ready, even though he has an amazing ability to sleep through it. This is a much calmer process. I’ve finally learned how to wake up without an alarm. Sort of.

Raspberries

tart and sweet
flavor and stain
a round mound 
of crushed ice
packed into
a paper cone
on a 
hot 
summer 
day

macerated,
fill and sweeten
a layer between
white wedding cakes,
the top tier saved for
that first year 
anniversary
shared 
two weeks later
after the honeymoon
because it was 
so 
darn 
good
why save it?

two fresh ones
kerplunk!
into a sink full
of dirty 
dishwater
escaping the 
dysfunctional 
sieve of a 
hand
while another plops
their neighbors
into 
a 
waiting 
mouth
Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Slices

of oranges 
sprinkled with salt
sticky sweet juice 
dribbling
down 
a 
chin

of memories
well lived
some 
uneventful
bursting with simplicity
some saved
for savoring
later
when the mood strikes

of time
held on an analog
clock 
holding still
in good times
or bad
placeholders
for stealing moments
to write
contemplate
create

of stories 
interwoven 
across miles
initiating laughter
provoking 
thoughts 
ideas
resonating with souls
unleashing frustration
distraction
confusion
affirming realities 
and struggles
inspiring hope
and kindness
through shared
Words
Thursday, March 31, 2022

A New Pillow

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

I have a hard time sleeping. My pillow is old. I forget to buy a new one because a new pillow isn’t something I think about adding to my shopping list. I remember around 1:45 a.m., the first of my sleepless fits flopping back and forth between being wide awake and wishful sleeping. I tell my brain that it’s okay to go back to sleep, the alarm is set to do its job. And if I accidentally sleep in, the world. Will. Not. Stop.

This afternoon, I went to Target for some odds and ends. A pillow! I wrote it, (finally) onto my list. I already dislike shopping and I haven’t been in the mood to research pillows. Some were on sale, but the shelves were bare of those. Honestly, I don’t care how much it is, but manage to steer away from a $99 pillow. So much for not caring. I find one that I hope will work. It’s not like you can try it on. If I don’t like it, I’m certain someone else will gladly take it from me.

I also wound up with a pair of jeans. I know Target clothes never fit me well, but I try these on. Surprisingly, I like how they fit. But I may change my mind tomorrow. I’ll sleep on my new pillow tonight. In the morning, I’ll wear my new jeans. If for some reason they don’t fit like they did in the dressing room, at least those can be returned. What in the world possessed me to purchase two of the hardest things to shop for on the same day?

Morning routine

finds us dodging each other
bumping almost shoulder to shoulder
stepping over a wet towel 
or bunched up pajamas
if it's a bad morning,
we'll argue
if it's a good morning,
we'll argue a little less
"clean up the toothpaste worms from the sink"
I remind her 
for the hundredth time
"I KNOW!"
she snatches the brush 
before I can get to it
so I plug in the hair dryer instead
I decide to let the exasperation 
and tone roll off
not. worth. it.
I wear my thick-skinned fur coat
24/7
grit my teeth, 
breathe in, 
breathe out
and carry on 
with my morning
"this eye looks good
 but why is this eye 
just NOT working?!"
a white washcloth smudges off
a crooked layer of eyeliner
along with a few tears
she doesn't want me to see
I lean in, mascara wand
trying to make some magic
happen for my own eyes
I don't have time 
to smudge it off
"how? how can you 
put on mascara
without opening your mouth?"
I continue applying my face
she continues applying hers,
sneaking a glance at my 
expertise
with a mascara wand
"I've been doing this longer 
than you've been alive"
she leans in with her own wand
mouth wide open
satisfied,
she steps back 
I look at our reflection
and try not to think
about the days
I braided her hair
in front of this mirror
and she'd want to help
with my makeup
Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Work Vacations

Monday, March 28, 2022

I’ve had two days of what I like to call “work vacations.” They’re still work, but off campus. Friday, our middle school students competed in our district’s annual reading competition. We have a list of selected middle grade books the students read through the year. We take a team, or two, or three, depending on how many are interested and the sizes of our campuses. In a double elimination tournament style of questions about books, these kids take the competition seriously. Students have a great time meeting peers from other schools and we enjoy watching them show their stuff. And they know those books inside and out.

Today, we had an off-site team meeting. We caught up with colleagues, discussed end of the year procedures, participated in team-building activities, and had time to work on those odds and ends that tend to get left for the last minute. Instead of a rushed thirty minute lunch, we were able to go to a sit-down restaurant to enjoy a meal. Unfortunately, the day ended with a retirement announcement. On the other hand, I’m happy when people step into their next chapters, or even stories, in life. Such is the stuff of an approaching end of the school year.

At the end of April, I’m attending our annual library conference. The last two have been virtual and almost as exhausting. I like to think I have a plan set up for all of the sessions I want to attend and schedule back-up sessions for those that get full. This year, I may just schedule some re-charge time in my hotel room. It’s usually go, go, and go hard for about three days. It’s hard to skip the author lines and rush from one session to another. This is my kind of theme park.

I’m fortunate to have these types of days. A break from work, but still work. Something different that helps me re-charge and continue learning. Having time to eat lunch is also a bonus.

Navigating the Kitchen

Sunday, March 27, 2022

When you get there, go to the right. It’s in the back on the right. Second shelf. Behind the French onion dip, stacked on top of the leftover rice. Blank stare. Right, left, turn around? Top? Bottom? Confusion ensues. It’s in there, it won’t jump out at you. You have to search for it. Even more confusion. If it isn’t in front, why is there such apprehension to move something out of the way? I clean out the fridge every Sunday, so there’s nothing that has grown fuzzy enough to grow teeth and bite.

Okay, let’s try this: Find the milk. Go south. Stop. Too far. Go north a shelf. Now go east. Move that container, bingo! You found the queso!

Is it me or do other people have to help someone navigate the fridge or pantry? Google Fridge Maps should be a thing.

Doorways

Saturday, March 26, 2022

I found a great book, The Art of Making Memories, at a Free Little Library I pass on one of my walking routes. It’s by Meik Wiking, a happiness expert. In one section of the book, he discusses the “doorway effect.” You know, those times you walk into a room and completely forget why you went there in the first place. It’s not that we’re getting older, or are having a dumb moment, it’s our brain doing what our brains do. We often go on autopilot and in doing so, once we enter another room, it interrupts our thinking and switches us over to what we normally do in said rooms.

Wiking says, “the idea is that the act of walking through the doorway makes the brain believe that a new scene has begun and that there is no need for memories from the old scene.” It’s good to know there’s a real name for this and there isn’t anything wrong with me. I’ve relayed this random tidbit of information to several people and they have sighed with relief. “So it’s not me!” No, it’s not you.

Now I’m wondering if the same phenomenon applies online. Surely it does. With a plethora of tabs open in my browser, I go to one and forget what I intended to do or search. Anyone else have that problem? Or I get on my phone to open a certain app, swipe through a page, and forget “where” I’m going. Sigh… Seems to me this also happens with online environments. My brain is just doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s not me.

Field Trip Conversations

Friday, March 25, 2022

“I won’t be able to read this summer. I’m going to India.”

“My dad wants to take me to California. Why California?”

“I’ll read and work on next year’s books. I want to win the competition.”

“I won’t be able to do anything. I’ll be helping with a crying baby all summer.”

“Can you just let us hang out in the library and we can skip the rest of our classes? Please?”

“I didn’t bring my instrument today so I won’t be able to practice, it’s just the last part of 7th period and 8th period, please?”

“Sorry, you got a rule-following librarian. When we come back from a field trip, you have to go back to class. The one time I break a rule, I get in trouble. I have to return the Suburban anyway, so we won’t be able to hang out.”

“Can I call my mom to see if she’ll have time to pick me up in time for her ultrasound?”

“Sure, use my office.”

Sighs all the way around. There’s a class reading in the library with one of my favorite teachers when we enter, ambient music playing in the background. I missed out on a lesson with them today. The girls reluctantly gather their backpacks. I take my time writing their passes.

“Thanks for participating. I’m glad you had fun. See you next Thursday for book club and have a great weekend.”

The others leave and S comes to the circulation desk. “I think they’re already at the ultrasound, no one is picking up. It’s okay though, I didn’t think I’d be able to make it anyway.” Her eyes say otherwise. “Can I get my pass, please?”