Are You There Judy? It’s Me, Ally.

My new copy of Judy Blume’s classic.

Eleven year old me only read it once or twice. It might have been the library’s copy. Maybe it was my then bff’s tattered copy. I read it and I loved it. That’s how I traveled to New York. I went to confession with Margaret for the first time. That’s how I found out about other religions. Seriously. I didn’t know details about Christianity and Judaism, I just knew they were different. I didn’t know people argued about such things, especially the adults. I also had friends who seemed to know a lot more than seemed knowable at the age of eleven.

I organized a small watch party for the movie this past weekend. Adults only, until my thirteen year old invited herself. Okay. This is rare. I bought another ticket.

The movie theater wasn’t full, but it was one of those that reminds you to turn off your phone and remain silent or you risk getting kicked out. When movie Margaret takes a walk in her neighborhood, I yelled out “It’s HER!” as if she was there with me. Judy Blume. Being a sucker for fangirling over authors, I can imagine what I’d do if I met her in person.

Then came “I must, I must, I must increase my bust!” Except now, my chant has changed the word increase to decrease. In true book nerd form, there we were, chanting and doing said exercise along with a bunch of pre-pubescent girls on the big screen, laughing. Go ahead, try kicking out a bunch of hormonal middle-aged women.

Memories of enjoying this book took us back in time. If this movie would’ve been around back then, would I have enjoyed it in the same way? Would I have read the book? Our post-flick discussion had us telling stories of our own initiation into womanhood. Some are funny, some terrifying, but they all tie us together. Just like a good book.

Are you still there Judy?  It's me, Ally.  I know you're there.  I know you would've made sure this movie was made the way you wrote it.  I wouldn't have missed it for anything and I'll gladly watch it infinity times.  Thank you, Judy.  Thanks a ton...
Tuesday, May 2, 2023

I’m Okay

“I’m okay.”

That usually means something else isn’t. It always means something else isn’t okay.

E. called twice on Saturday. S. hollered through the bathroom door, over running water from the shower. “E needs for you to call as soon as you’re done! He already called twice.” We’d been messaging back and forth. He probably wants to pick something up on the way here. Ice cream, or maybe my favorite coffee.

I finished without rushing and returned his call.

“I’m okay.”

“Okay…what happened?”

“Yeah, you know that yield sign where you have to crank your head all the way back and it’s a stupid traffic flow design? The brand-new Mini-Cooper in front of me didn’t go when it was clear. We’re exchanging information now, I’ll be there in a bit.”

He sounded calm. That’s what made me nervous. When he got home, I took a look. License plate was bent. Otherwise, no major damage. Fender bender minus the bent fender. I looked at the pictures of the other car, walked into the house, and discussed the next steps, grateful it wasn’t worse.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Where to now?

Year three. Day thirty-two. (I also posted on Tuesday, February 28th.) I knew I’d hit the inevitable wall, writer’s block is real. It’s ugly. It’s really ugly. But I got past it. So where do I go now?

I’ll take a little break (at least until Tuesday) and go back and read more posts. I remind myself it’s okay to return to past posts and comment. They’re new to me if I haven’t read them. There’s so much good writing out there.

I have some posts saved as mentor texts, suggestions for writing structures, techniques people used, stories that stayed with me. I make a plan, more of a mental note, to stretch myself during National Poetry month. There’s more than just free-verse, but I like to take the easy way out. I found one I’m eager to try and many more I’ve never encountered. It’s time I play a little harder.

Do I join a writer’s group? Create my own? Might as well give it a try. I’m a bit nervous about that since I was a member of a book club years ago, The Book Club With No Name. If that’s any indication of how that turned out, my hesitation is warranted.

Year three, you’ve been good to me. Thank you to everyone here, TWT for creating this amazing space, and to Chris Margocs of Horizon 51, who brought me along for my first ride three years ago.

I stocked my Writing Pantry with mini-bottles of bubbly. They’ve been chilling in the fridge. Summer’s flirting around here, so off I go, a toast to many more Slices!

Friday, March 31, 2023

SOLSC Glossary of Terms

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Blurking: looking for new blogs to follow, often by looking at lists of blogs other people follow, especially when posting comments on a Slice

EMS: early morning Slicer

Mindbloggling: those great writers who use crazy awesome techniques and make you think about deep issues. These posts require several readings.

PMS: post-morning Slicer

Seasoned Slicer: Slicers with more than five years of Slicing experience. They are excellent mentors, lead workshops, suggest new structures, are members of other writing groups, suggest resources, encourage us all, and are great writers

Slicer Butt: numb sensation in the glutes from sitting for long periods of time (especially on weekends and spring break) writing, reading, and commenting every day for a full month

Slicerism: terms Slicers use such as Slice, SOL, and “Oops, I accidentally put two spaces between the period at the end of my teaser and my permalink, my bad!”

Writerly Craftivity: the ability to seamlessly weave artsy projects into writing such as quilting, bird watching, knitting, dancing, music, art, gardening, opening a bottle of vodka…

Writertude: looking on the bright side of choosing random topics for writing such as allergies, pickles, or rats. Often helpful when hitting the wall (or an empty Writing Pantry)

Writing Pantry: where you go in your mind’s eye to pull techniques, tips, structures, words, images, for a new piece of writing

Things I Say

Someone left a yellow mustache on the floor.

Are you chewing on your power cord? And it’s plugged in?! Do you want a permanent Joker-style grin burned into your flesh? Take it out. Now.

Do you still have the book that was due in September?


Where is it?

In my backpack.

Go get it.

I don’t have it.

You just said…

I’m still reading it.

But you’ve had it since September.

It’s lost.

Did I tell you about the student who kept leaning back and forth in his chair and broke his face? Put all four legs of the chair on the floor and leave them there, please.

Yes, you have to pay for the books at the book fair.

No food in here, please, the cockroaches are big and they’ll take your food.

(Lights flicker, or something randomly falls) That’s Wilhelmina, my class ghost. She can do whatever she wants. She follows me to every school.

I have an alien implant in my pinkie toe, I just can’t tell you which one.

(Student pokes around the cart of new, unprocessed books behind the circ. desk.) Put your name on a Post-It note and put it on the book you want. You get first dibs!

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Writing Pantry

I didn’t go shopping. Well, that’s not true, I have something in mind, but I don’t quite have it yet. I pop the door open. Seems the same items are there. Haiku. Six word memoir. Free-verse poetry. I use that one often. I need to add spice. You know what they say about spices, sometimes you need to throw them out and get new bottles. Fresh is best, but dried works too. These are a little too dry, though.

I’ve gone through so many cookbooks, it seems. I recycle some recipes and change them up, add my own flair, but those have also become a little, yawn…is overused the right word?

I’ve gone through phases of phrases, word play, restocked the staples. I mean, how can you ever go wrong writing about experiences? Small moments? Big ones. Hot. Cold. Just right. Even Goldilocks had to take a nap.

I peruse the shelves looking for something new.

Why don’t you try that one?

Well, a lot of people have used it. I know, I know, my version will be different, but…

Work avoidance issues?

Yeah, probably. Sometimes I want to come up with my own thing.

Sometimes you need inspiration to lead you to your own thing.


Looks like you need to restock. Go somewhere different. Watch a show or two. You hardly ever do that. Take nap. Read a book you hold in your hands. Sit outside.

Can’t go outside. Allergies.

Yeah, okay. Do something you haven’t done in a while. Remember some of those Big C activities you started doing three years ago? Paper bead making. ‘Zine writing. Family game night. Writing and sending snail mail.

Oh, yeah, a bunch of those kid crafts I didn’t do as a kid and my own kids didn’t want to do? Yeah, I can do that.

There ya go! Take a break. Do something else. While you’re at it, make me one of those mocktails you concocted using herbal tea and orange infused simple syrup.

Can’t argue with that, but I’m adding a little extra to mine. Off I go the the *writing* cabinet.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Oak, no!

clear blue skies
popping wildflowers
grass awakening 
from winter's slumber
thick and green
twittering birds
gentle breezes
air perfumed with
blooming jasmine

March means
oak trees 
doing what oak trees do
their spiky little 
pollen nuggets
littering the ground
my headspace
tickling my throat
choking me up
making my nose
that evening walk
Monday, March 27, 2023

Non-Road Trip

It was a good day for a road trip. I didn’t take one, but it was a good day for one. Where would I go? Another book shop? A hike. An hour long drive on a hilly, winding road, dotted with bluebonnets to get to Sweet Berry Farms for strawberry picking and homemade ice cream? Around here, summer already flirts with spring and it’s only been a week. Would I go to a new to me barbecue joint, those that make the best-of lists I tend to ignore? Do I go north or south or east or west?

Instead, I stay put because it’s Sunday. I clean out one corner of the garage, emptying out a box of old books I’m finally able to part with, except for a yearbook. I thumb through it. Do I keep it? The clock reminds me it’s time to pick up my teen from our neighborhood pool. “Can you give K a ride home?”

I take the short drive to drop of the friend. Pull into a tidier garage, shut the door behind me, and get on with my Sunday, because there isn’t much of it left. It was a good day for a road trip if Monday didn’t hover nearby.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Bench Warmer

Saturday, March 25, 2023

I figured out I was a bench warmer as a third grader, before I knew there was a term for it. My parents allowed me to join Little Dribblers, our local kid’s basketball organization. All my friends joined, and they were the cool kids. I don’t remember how I ever got to the practices, I probably walked to most of them, but my parents weren’t always in the stands cheering me on. Usually, they dropped me off, picked me up, and that was that. Typical 80’s kid doing her own thing. Their work schedules often conflicted with extracurricular activities and there were two other younger kids at home. Later it would become three.

During practice I tried to keep up, watching the others with envy as their basketballs obeyed and bounced back to their fingertips for another forceful tap. I spent most of my time chasing my basketball. If a coach intercepted it and passed it back to me, I moved out of the way so it wouldn’t hit me in the head. I like to think I have a metal plate in my head that attracts moving objects. It’s still there and it still works. I was never good at catching.

My dad watched some games, but I rarely played. I learned that you have to be good to play, otherwise you sit and wait for the team to win. Or lose. Sometimes I’d go in and it seemed that just as I got warmed up, a buzzer went off or a whistle blew and there was a switcharoo. Back to the bench. Cheer the team from there.

The following year, the sign up form went home again. I looked at it, but I knew better. I wouldn’t bother. We didn’t have a smooth driveway with a basketball goal for me to practice. I didn’t get any better. I wanted to play because my friend played, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as they did. I preferred to spend my time in different ways. After all, if I was going to sit on a bench, I’d rather sit there reading a book, not wishing to dribble basketball.

Allow Me to Introduce You…

Say hi to my Pinkie Toe. We have this thing. It’s attached, of course, but it’s also, electric? Magical? Possessed? Implanted with a microchip put there by an extra-terrestrial being when I was three? It has lots of stories to tell.

Here’s the back story. I have a reputation. Good? Bad? Well, maybe not that kind, but of the kind that breaks things. Specifically, technology type things. Like the Internet. A VCR/DVD combo from back in the day. The school’s network. Electrical wires and power outlets. My laptop. Printers. Cameras. Phones. Important things.

I’m not sure when it started, but I made sure our ITS on campus was on-call any time I planned for my students to use the laptops. He knew he’d earn his keep with popping in throughout the day to troubleshoot. These weren’t ordinary troubleshooting issues, either. A brand new cart of computers? There was always something wrong with them.

Yesterday, we were offline due to a broken server. I didn’t do it. Today, I taught a lesson on paraphrasing. Kids used Pear Deck to practice. For the last class, I scheduled my observation and evaluation lesson with my director. She came in, set up, and the students logged in, entered the correct code, and

a light flickered. My ginormous computer panel board shut down. Completely. I had set the Pear Deck to teacher led because, well, I had to teach stuff. There was no way to continue with the lesson. All of the other lights were fine. The other flat panel, where I had my March Madness Tournament of Books presentation going on loop was fine. My computer at my station was fine. This was the same lesson I had to complete at home last night because our server was down yesterday.

Seems Pinkie Toe needs an update, but I don’t know how to submit a tech support ticket. Perhaps watching E.T. will help.

Thursday, March 23, 2023