Stating a Mission

I sometimes think mission statements are just an excuse to mash all the nice words together. Bromides. Platitudes.

Other times I think they are so general as to be meaningless.

When I was asked again to consider mission statements and drafted this, it did seem to fit my life. I’m trying it on. What do you think of mission statements? Do you have one?

13/30 Slice of Life

A Year Ago on Friday the 13th

A Year ago, a ship came down
It pulled me up and up and up and up
Like the movies.  There were nightmares and fever dreams
Sometimes it was trippy

I had visions and euphoria
And depression and loneliness
I was at my fittest and my not fittest, all in the same year, on a spaceship high in the sky

It dropped me off a few weeks ago, though I’m not sure of the date
And everything is different but also the same

Am I still me?  

What. Happened.

And then, my wife laughs, my kids hug, a friend texts, the drain clogs.
And then, the students work and share and the room sparks to life
And I know that this is real and I wonder if maybe the past was the dream?

I wish there never was a spaceship and yet
I’m thankful still for what I know was, is, and will be…real

Thanks to for the opportunity/challenge to write daily for 30 days!

I’m Better Off

I’m better off with coffee
I’m better off with my morning pill
I’m better off with sunshine

I’m better off with a morning walk of 1500 steps or more
I’m better off with weights lifted and heart pumping at least twice a week

I’m better off if I go to the workshop or training,  apply the new skill, and share what I’m learning with others

I’m better off if I listen more
I’m better off if I ask questions
I’m better off if I think twice before hitting send

I’m better off when I write
When I reach out
When I sleep well
When I speak clearly
I’m better off 

–This is Day 11 of of the Slice of Life Challenge. Thanks to for the motivation! #sol21 —

It’s Mine Now and I Don’t Even Need It

Yesterday I wrote about the passing of my Grandmother and the money I found in her garage refrigerator.  I’ve always wondered why it came to be that she had more than $4,000 in her refrigerator.  Here I make an effort at finding her perspective, though not her voice, based on my limited information, to tell the story through her fictional point of view. —

“J’s gone, ” I said to each of my Grandkids over the phone.  3 weeks earlier I’d lost my only son.  Now my daughter was gone too.

I had to do so many things.

The grandkids didn’t want me to be alone, but couldn’t yet come.  They called some extended family and they came.  I didn’t want them here.  I didn’t want any of this.

Family came and went for the funeral, the second that month.  We had just done this.  This. It took my breath away.

Settle the estates, file the paperwork.  It’s what has to be done.

J’s desk was a medicine cabinet of pills and ink pens and nail clippers.  A carton of cigarettes, half empty.  Inside her top drawer were the envelopes, left over from paying bills and reused for saving.  She’d kept money from substitute teaching jobs or the sale of an item at a yard sale or…whatever.  This money had a purpose.  Each envelope had a label “For a gift for mother.” “To buy a new blouse.” “Toys for Tim’s at Christmas.”  $50, $25, $100. “Rebate money from Duracell,” $5.  Four Thousand Eight Hundred Eighteen Dollars.  $4,818.

It’s mine now and I don’t even need it.  Maybe I’ll put it away.  Buy myself a gift.  Buy toys at Christmas for the great grands like J wanted.  Maybe.

I’ll put it in the filing cabinet now.  Move it to a shoe box later.  Pack it away.  When I move into my new house, I’ll bring it separately from the help I have to move.  It’s nobody’s business.  It’s mine now, and I don’t even need it.  I’ll put it in a box in the fridge and forget about it.  I don’t even want it.  It’s a memory of things left undone.

Money in The Fridge

My grandma was 90 years old and living independently in her recently built home for three years. We lived just 2 miles away in the farm house she had taken care of for 60 years prior. My sisters family and my family were her only living descendants.

The call came while I was at work.

“You should come to your grandma’s house.”

“Is she…?”

“She’s gone.”

The day was a blur. No one lives forever but I had started to think that Grandma might. As the sun set, I took the task of securing documents in the house. Then I started sorting the fridge, because…grief. And also, food expires.

I bagged groceries to take home and also threw away groceries that were expired. A few things had expired before she moved into the house. Which was confusing, but hey – Grandma is going to do what Grandma is going to do.

My methods were haphazard. This didn’t need to be done today, but I needed to do something today. I moved along to the second refrigerator. The one in the garage.

As happens when I’m in this head space, I began to focus on very small details.
This should be simple: $1 tub of margarine, maybe half used, throw away.
Now: Tub of margarine, half-used, check the “best by” date, open, check for mold, find out it’s actually left-over green beans, throw away. Or keep?

I began working through the second fridge with this attention to detail. There was a cardboard box full of…random groceries:

Half of a head of lettuce, soggy. Toss.
Expired bologna with mold visible. Toss.
Bag of chocolate chips that expired before Grandma moved into this house. Hesitate. Toss.
Bag of chocolate chips that is not yet expired. Keep.

Gallon sized grocery bag of money.

Fridge clean-out on hold, I returned to the house and started to count the money. $4,818. Various denominations of money. I call my wife. I call my sister. Because. What?

In that moment, I’m mostly thinking “What would have happened if I had just looked at the cardboard box with the rotten lettuce and moldy bologna on top and thrown the whole box in the trash?” Basically, “what would have happened if I was a rational person.” As I looked around the house in that moment I also realized: Sorting things out at this house just got a lot more tedious.

The Weekend

Laughter with old friends

Year of restrictions

Glimpses of the other side and glimpses of the past

Reminiscing, pizza, kids that are now taller, finding joy in their childhood games

These tweens go way back and that. is. special.

These adults have been through highs and lows. also. special.

It occurs to me that some of our best times are with old friends
At any given point in time, I can’t go find more “old friends”
Just the ones I have, whether on purpose or by accident
The older I get, the more I appreciate old friends

I wouldn’t mind making a few new friends
Because in another decade
They will be old friends too

Here’s to old friends!

Finally Found Someone

I’d been alone in the crowd for as long as my memory stretched. I couldn’t seem to find what I was looking for. Mostly, I was just waiting to be found (by someone).

Fluorescent lights filled my days these days. Cash registers beeped in the distance. I just wanted someone to take me home to meet their mother. Was this so wrong? Don’t we all want that connection (with someone)?

I met some remarkable people! The connection was there. It seemed like a spark when we were in the crowd, but once we were alone, I wilted. It seemed like I couldn’t compare. I was resigned. It didn’t work out (with anyone).

“Are my standards too high?” I asked Pete, my manager.

“Could be,” Pete replied, “Could be. But who’s to say? You’ve got a lot going for you!”

I lowered my standards. I made myself available, looking my best. A suitor came along.

We considered one another. I wasn’t sure about this, but I was willing to take a chance. So was my suitor. We went home together and have been together ever since.

I’m glad to not be alone. And he’s a good and fair companion. The time we do have together is great, but I have to admit, we don’t go out as much as I thought we would. Sometimes I feel like a pair of pants, half forgotten in a drawer.

But I’m not. I’m worth something. Our time together may be short, but we make the most of it. I’m not forgotten.

I’m a pair of blue pants (not navy) and I am loved and valued.

——- This post is part of Slice of Life 21. Confused? See yesterday’s post.

The Thing About Blue Pants

I bought a pair of blue pants (not navy). They were on sale at the Gap. I’ve had them for a bit.

I think they are stylish (or were) and I do not mind drawing attention to myself. But they are blue (not navy).

So the thing about blue pants (not navy) is that, so I’m told, you can not wear them with most (any?) blue shirts.

The thing about blue pants (not navy) is that even though you only wore them for part of the day and they are not dirty, you can’t wear them the next day because they are blue (not navy) and well, you just can’t (no one even had to tell me this).

The thing about blue pants (not navy) is that I pause and think, even while I am writing this, about how long I’ve owned them. Is this an “old” color of blue that is making me look more outdated and middle aged than I’d prefer. By the way, I’d prefer not to look outdated, though I think I’m (mostly) fine with looking middle aged.

Khaki does not have these problem.

Day 6, Sol21

Thanks to TwoWriting Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge! #SOL21

Read Aloud Magic

It was my first classroom and I was determined to make reading magical. I hyped it up all the time. Clearly, if you were cool, you were into books. These 8 year olds were all in! My goodwill supplied classroom library was hopping. Determined to make high interest read-alouds an important part of our day, I strayed from the district supplied basal and supplemented with my own limited read-alouds. I didn’t have that many.

I raved about all the books. All the time. When our copy of Jacqueline Woodson’s The Day You Begin arrived, it was an event. One student saw I had received it and exclaimed, “Can we read it right now?!” The students all sat to hear it. They loved it. We loved it together. We had to make a wait list for who could borrow it.

When I purchased another of Woodson’s books, we read of Clover and Annie and their search for friendship in a time of segregation. The students shifted uncomfortably. I couldn’t tell if I was losing them. As I read Woodson’s words “someday” at the end of the book, the whole room held a pregnant pause. When I closed the book, the pause held one more beat. And then. Applause! They all clapped and cheered! The discussion we had was curious, raw and real.

I’ll never forget that first classroom magic. Each year brings its own magic. I’ve tried to recapture old magic but it is never quite the same. This is a dated reference, but stale classroom magic is like Saved by the Bell: The New Class.

Classroom magic is unique to the group of students, the day and time of the year, and the unique person that each teacher is in a given school year.

It’s Friday and I’m tired, but I’m ready to work with some amazing small people to make some magic.

For the month of March, this blog is all Slice of Life #Sol21

Buy the books I mentioned:

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson

Worst. Interview. Ever.

I had been student teaching for 2 weeks. I was called for an interview. This one. I wanted this one. I had substitute taught in the district and just loved the kids there! It had proximity to my home!

I have a knack for bundling my bungled conversations. What I mean is, in public facing roles I’ve had I can have professionally excellent relationships and conversations with 20 people and one of those will be a mess. 19 interactions/relationships: aces. Then there is the one. Lost emails and mistakes in emails. Bungled verbage in a conversation. Calling the person by the wrong name…5 times…in one conversation. Once it starts, it snowballs and is awkward as heck.

This was the interview version of the above awkward bungling. The questions and conversation were stilted. I could not find my footing in my responses. The stone faced interviewer did not put me at ease. Had I said the wrong thing?

“Tell us how you would organize and prepare a novel study.”

“A novel study?”


“Right. What age students ?”

“Any age.”

Laughing awkwardly, “Oh. Good. Huh. Well, I’ve read Charlotte’s web with some students. I mean, I think; If there’s a novel you are studying it, you want the students to be thinking and reading. And reading the novel. And there maybe some activities…[This is where I took an offramp to talk about something else entirely]…So yeah. We would study the book together.” I may have lilted my voice like it was a question. Then I added, “I’m not sure I answered your question.”

Smiling politely, “It’s fine.”

There were a couple more of these. I managed some comprehensible answers. Then the interview began to wrap up.

“To wrap things up, tell us why you think we should hire you.”

I. Was. Not. Prepared. Not for that. I should have been. But I wasn’t. So, I confidently began “Well, I don’t know. I guess…because I’m awesome?”

Yes I did. Great effort on the part of the interviewer to keep it professional. I proceeded to try to make things better with a follow up email that did not make things better. You know how sometimes people are just trying too hard?

I did not get the job.