Sunday, October 4

Oh, boy

So this is seventeen.

It's charm and silence and sighs.

It's longer legs and towering above my head.

It's venturing out alone in a car.

It's struggling and succeeding.  

It's struggling and failing.

It's beauty in small moments and watching TV together.

It's independence and complete dependence.

It's being sure and being completely lost.

In many ways, seventeen is nothing new.  

He's still him, and I'm still me.  

In many ways, seventeen is nothing I've ever known.

It's a strange feeling in my heart, in this space that he occupies, in this chamber, in this place.

My own seventeen was a lot more mystery, a lot more self doubt, a lot more fear.

My own seventeen was painful and strange.

And so this new seventeen is scary, too.

It's letting go, even though I'm not ready.

It's holding on for dear life.

So, this is seventeen.

 *Photos by Payneless Photography

Saturday, August 29

Sounds in the black

I'm in the well.  The deep well of what have I done.
Below me echoes the sound of a thousand feet of
blank air.
Above me, light fades to a pinprick.  On all sides
are the slick, slimy bricks
built to hold back the earth,
to keep it from caving in,
to create a passage for bringing water from below.

Once, I looked over into my child's face
and saw myself staring back.  Saw the insecurities
and pride,
the wonder and alarm.  It was strange and yet - satisfying.
I've created immortality, it flows in his veins.  And yet,
he is his own self.  A self I have always known.  He is both new
and old at the same time, a million years of love and change
meeting in the moment of conception.  Lives won and lost,
all leading to the here and now.  Looking over,
I see him as if distantly.

It sounds like nonsense, these words with no form.
These thoughts that pour out like ink on the page.  It sounds like
too much
thinking and not enough sleeping.  It sounds strange.  I'm sorry for that,
mostly because, if I could,
I would let you in.  Or let you pull me up from the silence.
Or, stand up
on my own.  I am not sad,
though it may sound that I am,
only thinking and waiting
here in the depths of the day.

Outside, there are sounds in the black.  Crickets and singing beetles
and dogs.  A glimmer of wind, a shifting of stars, and a thousand years
of nothing,
a million years of everything.
Someday I'll be like that glimmer,
barely a brushing of wind,
I'll be gone,
like wishes
dropped down
the deep

Monday, August 24

Hello? Is it me you're looking for?

You know when you see someone again and it's been, like, forever, and you're not really even sure that you're getting their name right and you wonder WHAT on EARTH they've done to their hair/face/body/children and you can't quite find the right words to fill the gap between time and space?

My second year of teaching is just beginning - and isn't that a wonder?  Last year...let's just say, we all survived.  Last year involved:

- Commuting home (2 hours, one way) almost every weekend
- The kids and I here (in Espanola, where I teach) while Eric stayed in Edgewood
- Putting our (still for sale) house on the market
- Two semesters of Master's classes (what was I thinking??? on the up side, I only have 1 semester left and I am DONE.  D. O. N. E.)
- Saturday's spent in professional development
- My first ever "work trip" to San Diego 

And this year:

- Josh is a Senior (whuuuut!)
- Carly started 5th grade
- We all live here in Espanola (double WHUT?)
- We're 2 weeks into school and I'm already doubting my life choices again.

Look, the truth is, last year was rough.  But, this year is looking up.  And maybe, just maybe, I might have time to update the blog again.  Time will tell.  Unless and until that happens, enjoy this picture of a llama.

Just kidding.  It's a herd of baboons. 

Saturday, August 16

On being away from home and turning sixteen: a letter to my son

Dear Josh,
I missed your sixteenth birthday.  I'm sure you recall - or maybe it wasn't so bad because you spent the whole day with your friend watching movies.  Godzilla and Guardians of the Galaxy, you've said.  It's no surprise to me that Godzilla was your favorite of the two.  That atomic green monster holds a special place in your heart.

It was very difficult for me to be away from you when you crossed this threshold in your life.  I remember turning sixteen, being sixteen, and wondering when I would feel like I was actually sixteen.  When I was sixteen, I went and found my first job, I started driving myself around, and I pretty much felt like I was in the wrong skin.  I'm only now, at 37, beginning to feel in the right skin.  Or at least comfortable with the skin I'm in.  But you - well, you don't seem to have a problem being you.  I can't explain how very happy that makes me feel, how very reassured.  Because it can be really hard not to like yourself.  When I see that you do like yourself, most of the time, I feel like maybe I didn't totally screw this mom thing up, like maybe - somehow - despite all the missed moments, raised voices, frustrations, and mistakes, I did okay (so far).  Like maybe, after all, loving you was enough to make up the difference for what I've done wrong.

Sixteen marks a turning point for me, too.  I can feel the clock ticking now, drawing you ever closer to the edge of my nest.  Your wings are almost too big to keep folded and you're testing them out, stretching them before the big leap over the side.  You're almost through high school and you're planning and waiting to serve your mission.  You're driving sometimes and taking more responsibility for your actions and health.  You're taller than all of us, by far, and still going.  Your voice has gone deeper, your eyes more thoughtful, and you've started planning your first date.  At times it is hard for me to resolve the two pictures of you that I hold in my mind: the you that once fit in the hollow of my arms, and the you that can now hold me in yours.  And it's wonderfully bittersweet.

This week, off on my own taking care of other people's kids, I ached inside for my children.  For your sweet, silly self and your sister.  For the arguments and teasing, for the messes and noise.  A week away from home made me realize just how very blessed I truly am, made me see that all I ever need is right here in this place where I call you son, and you call me mother, and we belong to each other.  The days and weeks and months and years will roll on, without stopping, and though soon (sooner than I'm prepared for) you'll leap from this nest and take flight, I will still keep this place for you.  Here, in the hollow of my heart, where you were born.



Monday, August 4

Dear Carly (on your 9th birthday),

 I can't remember what it is like to turn nine years old.  From watching you turn nine, it must have been difficult because it seems like everything is either really, really greator really, really bad.  Some days I think I might get whiplash from the mood swings (and you're not a teenager yet!).   But overall, I think nine must also be really wonderful.  You seem to be full of joy, even moments after being full of woe.  It's as if the joy just pushes the other stuff out.  It practically oozes from your pores.  More than that, on the days you choose to be happy, the whole world sings with you.  People are infected by it, drawn in to your sweet smile and shining eyes.  Attracted like bugs to a light.  You shine, dear little diva, so brightly sometimes it's blinding.

We just spent three weeks together in California, and I must have complained too much about your behavior because your dad believes we are oil and water right now.  I'd prefer to see us as oil and vinegar - spicy, but delicious when combined correctly.  Yes, sometimes I do believe we slide right off each other and bounce around listlessly, unable to combine.  But, other times I can almost see inside your head to what you're thinking of doing next - in fact, your Aunt Cha Cha and I were able to predict your next actions with a fairly high rate of accuracy some days.  For all that I might have been frustrated or that I might have complained, I was also really proud of you and happy to be with you.  Before we left for California, someone told me that you had the nicest manners and were so polite.  They told me that parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents/etc don't seem to spend enough time teaching their kids how to behave, but you were so "well-spoken."  And, yes, I agree.  Okay, so maybe you forget to say please as often as you might - and thank you - but overall, I think you're a pretty nice girl.  Also a pretty, nice girl.  The distinction is important.  We can have all sorts of things in life - clothes, looks, money, friends - and we can be all sorts of things in life - kind, rich, silly, strange, funny, mean, crazy.  Most of us are some of those things in combination.  But, if you can be kind, if you can be thoughtful, if you can be generous and faithful - those things will mean much more than any of the rest, I think.

As I often do on your birthday, I think back to your entry to this world.  I think about how I didn't know you were here yet, and how I wish I could have known.  I think about holding you the first time, not on this day, but later.  I think about how I missed the moment where you first blinked and looked out into a wide world that now you are exploring, making your own.  Your birthdays are bittersweet, but I am so grateful for each one.  For each day that I can hold you close, push back the hair from your face, look into your eyes and see myself reflected.  If we are oil and water (or oil and vinegar), it is mostly because you are so very much like me.  Stubborn and rash, dramatic and controlling, silly and creative, wishful and sometimes shy.  We share these and more, little things maybe.  Perhaps we cannot, do not, will not, share eye color or the shape of our nose.  Instead, we share the little things that make up the shape of our souls.

Tonight, as you sit next to me playing with a collection of birthday toys, I can only think to say how lucky I am, how grateful I am for all that you were, all that you are, all that you will be.  I am grateful for each hour, day, month, and year we spend.  I am grateful for ties that go beyond blood and the rough road that winds behind and before us.  I am grateful for all this.  I am grateful for you.

All my love,


Wednesday, July 30

Workin' It: A List with Addendums

This summer, instead of blogging (which, let's be honest, I haven't been doing much when it's not summer.  But, I digress), I have been:

- Job hunting (found one!)
- Having repeated teacher nightmares (one last night!)
- Looking for free resources to use in my classroom (need more!)
- Watching too much TV (an accomplishment given that we only have about five channels!)
- Building an addiction to Longmire (hooray for Amazon Prime and Netflix!)
- Not cleaning the house much (who cares!)
- Visiting California (first world problems!)
- Scrapbook shop hopping with my sister (charms ahoy!)
- Wondering where Carly's next mood swing will take me (and she's not even a teenager!)
- Freaking out about how tall Josh suddenly seems to be (holy cow!)
- Questioning so many of my life decisions that they've all started to swim together into one (yikes!)
- Reading too much BuzzFeed (see above!)
- Eating an unusually large quantity of cinnamon gummy bears (I blame my sister!)
- Being glad about the little things like sharing with my sister (see above!)
- Eating too much (Volcano!)
- Doing a really bad job of making lists (like this one!)

And that brings us to today.

You're welcome.

Sunday, June 8

So, you want to be a writer

I am currently looking for a job (you hiring?  No?  too bad...).  It's an interesting experience.  Technically, I have been offered one position so far, but I had to turn it down.  Because, seriously, I can't move my family a few hundred miles south to a place with little to no housing that happens to also smell like over-cooked beans if you are going to pay me a ridiculously low salary to teach kids all day long...Oh wait, I got off track.

So, I keep applying at various places and hoping for a call.  (Funny story, another school down south in the same town that already offered me a job called me for an interview...goodness.)  Otherwise, so far I've had one email saying basically 'thanks and we'll be in touch when we start interviewing' which was better than the non-response from all the others.  It's gotten me to thinking - maybe, just maybe, I don't really want a job and so I keep putting non-job vibes out into the universe.  And instead of picking up on the oh-gosh-my-family-needs-me-to-have-a-job vibes, the universe is picking up the oh-gosh-I-want-to-write-not-teach vibes.

I do really want to write and be paid for it.  I do, I do.

Problem is, I don't, I don't.  Write, that is.  Not as much as I could or should.  I dabble in it, despite my previous commitments to it otherwise.  I'm proud to say my dabbling was twice published this spring, quite flattering.  But, neither paid.  My dabbling has me to about 28,000 words of a YA fantasy novel I've been working on for nine years (I keep count by Carly's age because I started it just before she arrived).  I've also got another novel in the works.  And another young reader fiction book stewing.  And a picture book that needs illustrating by someone talented.  And an idea for another YA novel.  And another young reader novel.  Some of these have been vetted here.  And some haven't.  (Are you interested in being a reader and giving actual feedback because it would really help me to have some outside perspective?  No?  Moving on...)

Thing is, I'm scared.  Ruled by fear.  What if people don't like what I write?  What if I can't finish the story.  What if no publishers think it's worthwhile to sell?  What if I really just don't have it in me to write something beautiful?  Does it have to be beautiful?  What if I never make it?  Is this all wasted time?  Wasted words?

Anything worth doing is worth risking, perhaps.  I'm trying hard not to be afraid.  And I'm trying hard to sit down and write for more than 10 minutes at a time.  I'm thinking about how to make myself a real office space where I go "work" (because the couch doesn't work for "work").  And, despite all the fear, I'm fairly positively sure that I want to be a writer, and perhaps a teacher on the side.

It's the how of making that happen that's tripping me up.

That, and the fear.

Sunday, May 11


People move through our lives in often very small and simple ways.  Sometimes we meet for a moment, an hour, a week, a year, a decade.  We make friends, lose friends, remain friends though distance pulls us apart.  We affect others.  That means act upon, cause, change.  The effect is what comes after.  It's the ripples and waves that follow the storm.  Or the warmth that follows the sun rising.  The chill that follows its setting.
Here I am at the end of another semester.  Closing things up, putting things aside that never got done.  This time, I have an unsettled feeling, everything in limbo.  I'm not sure what's next and it's very hard to sit back and wait for the future to come.  Every hour, every moment rolling closer like a train on it's track during a midnight ride.  I cannot see the horizon, only these tracks right in front of me as I push on forward.
And it's scary.
I'm supposed to wait upon the Lord.  I'm sorry for not warning you I might wax religious.  It's difficult for me to separate my every day from the un-explainable right now because right now, I'm in the dark.  I've gotten used to being in the light, to planning every next step carefully - or at least, having some sort of idea of what lies ahead.  I like order, I like predictability, I like routine (to a certain extent).  And everything is in chaos.  All around me, pieces of everyday things are littered like so much confetti - only I'm not celebrating.  Not yet.
I know this doesn't make much sense, and I'm not really sorry for that.  Sometimes life doesn't make much sense.  Death certainly seems to make less.
My husband and I were talking last night about mortality.
"This better all be worth it," he said, meaning life, this thing we're doing.
And I realized, first, that I think it is all worth it.  And second, that mortality has a very high price.  We pay for this thing called life in ways that seem impossible.  In joy, in sorrow, in pain and fear, in passion and principles, in suffering, in confusion, in prayer.  We drop these things like pennies into the bucket of experience, tallying them up until we've created an experience, until we've lived.  And sometimes, that living doesn't seem like enough.  Like maybe it was cut too short.  Like maybe it was just too hard.
But, that's only because we can't see past the now.  There IS more than this, more than these moments, more than these prices we've paid.  We don't stop here, we keep going.  We follow that sun past it's setting and we see it rise again, illuminating that tracks that lead on and on until we are filled with true life, with glorious expectation, with peace.


For Jake.

A story unfinished
A book half-filled with white pages
Clean sheets
A sentence part written
left incomplete

A story unfinished
Characters in mid-motion
Sounds left unsaid
Music still playing
Answers un-spoken
silence instead

A story unfinished
The mighty warrior still armed
Hope burning bright
His weapon held high
Battle cry in his throat
victory nigh

And yet, it's not over
There are words to be written
Pages to fill
The warrior fights still.
A story unfinished
playing on