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

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

Twenty One

years ago 
I wondered why 
eating dinner
made me queasy

twenty one 
years ago 
we drove around
looked at an empty lot
paid for it and
at each other

did we just purchase
a new home?

twenty one 
years ago 
we found out
there's a baby
on the way to 
help us occupy it

so much expectation
in those
twenty one years


lucky number
three times over
Tuesday, March 21, 2023


Enchanted Rock. It’ll enchant you to want to hop on boulders and flit around like a mountain goat until you realize you’ve gone too far and the only way to a trail, any trail, is down. And it’s steep. If you hike often and lift lots of weights, no problem. We don’t. Sure, side stepping your way down works, unless the descent is too steep. Without rails and nothing to hold on to. Slide down if need be. If you’re wearing weather proof shorts, you’ve got the perfect seat to a fast slide all the way down a massive pink granite rock.

Don’t lose the trail map. On second thought, study the trail map, make a plan, and read about what’s on the other side. Not many people going your direction? That’s a slap in the face, shake you back and forth until your eyes pop out sort of sign that maybe you’re going the wrong way. The hard way. The way meant for experienced hikers twenty years younger. The guy rappelling down the boulders you went around? Yeah, he won’t be able to save you.

Toes slide to the ends of shoes as you have a death grip on the rock trying not to lose your footing. Stay balanced. Focus. One foot in front of the other, lean back a little, bend the knees. Be patient, be patient, be patient. Once you get going it’s hard to stop so if you want to jump step it down, you’d better be ready and balanced for what’s coming.

There’s a trail. No one is on it. This goes to the lake. The car is on the other side. How far to go around because we so are NOT going back up to the other side. Go back. Regroup. Thank goodness for the checkpoint telling us YOU ARE HERE with an arrow marking our spot. Yes, we are, here, but how do we get out?

Take the other trail. But Mom! It looks like we have to go back UP! I can’t do that again!

More people. That’s a good sign. Better than the map. Keep going. It’s a bit rocky, but nothing close to what we just went through. Aha! Here we are. Everything looks familiar. Stop for a snack. Guess who thought of packing them? Take more glugs of water.

Dad! This is the way we came up!

And the way we should’ve come down. Who says adventures are always fun?

Life lessons learned: Together, you’ll get through steep descents and boulders. Sometimes, you’ll slide down on your ass.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Since When

has Friday become a dreaded yet welcome
the end of the week
but an entry to the weekend
where once, after work
hours of happiness
clinking glasses
full of endings
and beginnings
now are more work
than mondays
that make one
want to go
home and 
Friday, March 10, 2023

#myday #in #hashtags

#tuesday #march7 #2023

#morning #doughnutboy #spiderman #actionfigure #coffee #LEGObuild #makerspace #mlacitations #lessons #overduebooks

#lunch #turkeychilli #salad #again #friends #checkin #marcopolo #chat #calendar #evening

#bribes #jollyranchers #readaloud #afterschool #detention #whenteachersskip #kidsgotafreebie

#threemoredays #springbreak #sotired

#highschool #parentmeeting #already #staylittleforever

Alice Almaraz-Garza

25 in teacher years, half a century in human years. Information sleuth and scientist employed as a middle school librarian where she has cosplayed as General (Sweet) Mayhem and Mabel Pines. On superhero days, Alice goes by The Garzinator.

Slow reader. Writer-ish. Former 6th grade ELA teacher. Spanish is his her second language.

Subscribing to a monthly sparkly sticker club, she hoards stickers, especially the sparkly ones, in a large binder. An AFOL, she collects and builds literary themed LEGO sets, but recently built a Vespa 125 and only needed her 20 year old son’s assistance twice via Face Time. She taps into her inner 12 year old daily. Alice breaks technology frequently due to an alien implant in her pinkie toe that she noticed after being temporarily abducted at the age of three. They like to visit at 3:00 a.m. for regular updates.

Writing credits include piles of journals full of the mundane, (sometimes) boring, everyday musings and glimmers of creativity, piles of poems written to her parents starting in third grade, lesson plans, Facebook posts, and blog posts on Nerds Beget Nerds where she occasionally writes to Judy Blume.

When she isn’t writing, Alice enjoys puttering, strong coffee, and wondering why she entered the next room.

She lives in the middle of Texas with her husband, 13 year old, and pure-bred mutt named Reeses, but hails from the Panhandle where she ate dirt on long two-block walks home in horrid dust storms.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Valentine Timeline

Sticky shoeboxes covered with construction paper
long slot cut through the top
where little envelopes drop
one for every classmate
wiggly heart shaped Jell-O
Cindy's mom brought to the class party
shiny gold boxes wrapped in red cellophane 
holding chocolates
the popular girls got 
from their little 

Outgrown class parties
replaced with
little messages delivered between
are any of those for me?
they're all for those girls
a pile of them
I wonder what they say
They sigh as if annoyed,
but we all know
they like attention
"I have so many!"
Oh, shut up
but secretly,
I wish they were mine

First boyfriend
and my first
"real" Valentine's Day gift
a thin gold bracelet
with a heart slipped through the chain
I never wanted to take it off
until that one day
several months later
where it made its way 
to the back of my jewelry box
do I dare wear it again?

Galentine's Day before it became a word
ditch the study sesh
none of us have boyfriends 
so why not go to dinner together?
No tables available at the one 
cafe, of course not, 
couples got first dibs
because people plan for these things
we drive around, 
it's late now,
and we find a little Italian restaurant
where I taste fried calamari 
for the first time
order our entrees
and realize we don't 
mind being single

A rainy weekend
greets the rare Saturday
Valentine's Day
No plans made, 
but we have each other
Where do we go to dinner?
Everything is booked
Let's just go to our regular place
My gift is first
should be perfect,
it's something he enjoys
then I open the card
and he hands me a small box
okay, I say
and there it is,
the ring I had been eyeing
I say yes
he slips it on,
call my mom
and we head out 
to dinner, nothing fancy
but I can't stop staring 
at glittery possibilities
of forever

More valentines
cute pencils with fun erasers,
stickers, snacks, a book for each one
goodie bag assembly line
load my car and brace myself
for my first classroom party
on the other side
every student gets something
it isn't fun being left out
even if it's from the teacher
chocolate candy
and cute little notes pile up
on my desk
sugar comas 
(I'm glad I'm not the parent!)
chocolate fountain and goodies
from PTA in the staff lounge
and bonus points for the one
who brought a small
bottle of Champagne 
flavored jelly beans

Craft stick picture frames
with my little 
cherubs inside them,
trimmed with sparkly hearts
googly eyes, and glitter
whipped cream topped pancake 
with berries and hot cocoa
fluffy stuffed animals
heart covered pajamas
bedtime stories
"I lovey dovey you!"

Gift bags with snacks
because they're always hungry
can't go wrong with candy
lemonade for one,
a root beer for the other
decide against deodorant 
and find a silly squishy plush toy
because they still like getting them
"Oh, by the way, can I get
something for my friends?"
It's 9:30 p.m.
the day before VDay
No, just no.
We should be getting ready for bed
"I'll ask Dad!"
You won't

Wrestle with insomnia
get up and find my seasonal
place them on the table,
one of those shiny gold heart 
shaped boxes wrapped in red cellophane
for hubster
and a green squishy love bug plushie
flanked with a red Ring Pop and a tube
of mini-M&Ms
she skips down the stairs as if on cue
the minute I put everything down
she picks up the love bug 
twirling it in a dance
and sings her happy theme song
"You're going to school with me today!"

At work the office calls
I have a delivery
For me?
a bouquet of flowers
unexpected and appreciated
homemade dinner 
text message exchange with 
my oldest
who stopped by to visit on Sunday
I pour myself a glass of cheap Champagne
fill the sink with dishwater
and toast 
all of the ways people love me

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Excuses, Excuses

I don’t like getting those notices from my kid’s school about her not showing up to class. Must’ve missed the bus. Again. Sometimes it’s a mistake so I have to make a call or send an email to get it cleared up. Not my favorite thing to do.

I got another call yesterday, but it was expected. Well check appointment in the morning to affect first and second period attendance, orthodontist appointment during the last two periods of the day. I took care of the morning and hubster took care of the afternoon.

It was a long appointment. No time for breakfast so I promised to swing by Chick-fil-A on the way to drop her off at school. We got into the car, buckled in and were ready to go. Except for one thing. Despite the other piles of well-check advice sheets, I forgot to request a doctor’s note to submit to the attendance office. I blamed the blood work that was ordered and a death grip on my arm as the distraction.

Back into the office I go. Of course, I had to wait, but it wasn’t as long as I expected. With the proof of skipping school in hand, I exited the building. Taking a deep breath, I realized I could remove my mask again. As I pulled off one side of the mask, a wind gust snapped that paper right out of my hand. It went up and up and up, swirled a bit and kept climbing. I hoped it might get caught on a car’s tire or in a hedge or something.

Nope, it kept flying, like a paper airplane with a jet engine. It got caught high in a tree, flapping wildly like a mean little kid sticking out his tongue, waving his fingers on either side of his head singing “Nanny-nanny-boo-boo, you can’t catch me!”

And I didn’t. Never mind. I know she wasn’t skipping.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023