The Great Divide

point of view

Today a colleague celebrated her birthday.

And I am twice her age.

In fact, I remember when she was a student at the school when I first started teaching.  While she was not my student, I can remember her walking through the hallways with friends, laughing and happy.

So as I munched on bagels with other teachers this morning, wishing her congrats between bites, I pondered about what makes us different, besides our age.

The newer colleagues think differently.  While I felt that earning the salary I do was the reward for years of dedicated service, they feel that I should work harder because I get paid more.  Working nights and weekends is commonplace even though I am nearly twenty-years into my career.  Many of the newer ones walk out at 3:15 without any papers, bags, or chromebooks.  And if I stay late, only we veterans can still be found at the copy machine after 4:00 p.m.  Some younger colleagues are so attached to their cell phones that I watch them play their games as they walk into the bathrooms.  I hide every glance at my muted phone buried within my purse.    During faculty meetings, I look forward to hearing from our union rep.  Others pack up, peck at their phone, or peer behind colleagues at the parking lot.  I struggle with new tech.  I used to struggle with tech period.  Younger colleagues dance circles around me with the latest apps and extensions, and I cling to the old ways: Let’s read aloud together.  What’s wrong with paper?

At first, I was frustrated.  I didn’t understand why people can’t follow the rules.  You know, the rules that have been in perpetuity that govern how we act at work.  Only my work world is now inside out.  The rules are no longer the rules because of  younger populist opinion.  Civility between colleagues is relegated to social media where we behave as is we like each other, alot.  We are supposed to be one unit, one team.  Instead the divide between old and new has become more apparent and wider than ever.

There’s this idiom: if you can’t beat them, join them.  So I decided to listen.  I tried to feel them out.  Look for explanations.  Find common ground.  I kept silent and heard their suggestions, some of which were very good.

And while I may not agree with their all their beliefs, and codes for living, I do feel that I understand why so many of the younger colleagues act the way they do.

And I try not to judge them.

But it’s hard.

And I feel old.

Which is why I run home so many nights with dreams of writing flowing as I grip the car’s steering wheel.




For love of a furry child…


It’s been too long since I’ve posted on this blog, but 2018 has turned out to be quite a roller coaster, much of which has plunged and twisted.  And this was the case this week when our two- year old cat, Hudson went to have a teeth cleaning, and ended up having fourteen teeth removed.

Yes, I said fourteen.

Turns out that Hudson has stomatitis.

We had no idea.

Yeah, he had putrid breath.  But there was no drooling, no crying, and he was still so affectionate that we never thought that something so serious was happening.  And he is two.  Two.  That’s it.

Yes, he is a rescue.  We believe in rescuing cats rather than paying a breeder.  Hudson and Ripley are both rescue cats who spend most of their time inside.  Our last cats were the same and we rarely took them to the vet after the one almost died because of a vaccination.

Last year when I blew out my right knee, money was tight.  We didn’t take the cats for a check-up.  Not when it usually costs about $400.00 for the two of them.  And I wasn’t so sure that it was needed.  So we put it off.

Until now.

I would be lying if I didn’t confess that the thought of a $2000.00 vet bill didn’t make me pause.  Colleagues gasped, “You’re gonna spend that on your cat?”   And yes, for a moment, euthanasia crossed my mind, especially after googling stomatitis.  I don’t want any animal in pain.  For a brief moment I wondered if the Vet would adopt him.

And then I remembered that he is one of our furry children.  We would do anything for our son.  Anything.  I am sure you would too.

When we adopted Hudson, we heard this horrible story about how he and the rest of the litter were locked in a barn so their mother could not feed them.  The Farmer/owner left them to die.  A rescue group was called and they went in to take the litter of kittens.

And when we adopted him, we made a vow to care for him.

Even if that means a ton of money.

Children are expensive.  And when we have them in our lives, in our families, and in our society, we have taken a vow to raise them and care for them the best that we can, furry or not.

Recent events have made me believe that we are living in the Upside Down from STRANGER THINGS.

Are we really taking care of our children when so many don’t have enough food, live in shelters, and are victims of abuse?  Is putting guns in the hands of  teachers who job it is to TEACH them the best answer?  Do our schools need to have every door locked with an armed cop roaming about?  Isn’t that a prison?

As Americans, we’d better figure this out.

The problems our society faces are too complicated for a simplistic answer.  And when we fail our children, we fail as a nation.

“United we stand, divided we fall.”




My heart is broken.  Six weeks into 2018 and there have been so many who have passed on from this world hopefully into the next.

First it was LeGuin, whose Left Hand of Darkness shaped my early college experience.  As a middle-aged adult I remember reading how she stood up for women writers.NPR’s tribute  speaks of her need to be counted as a writer and as a mother.

And then it was Dallas Mayr, AKA Jack Ketchum, a man I had met a few times at Necon, GSHW meetings, and a friend’s birthday.  Dallas was generous and warm, an everyday man who wrote about the darkest side of human nature.  When I heard of his passing, I ran to the basement to rummage through the book shelves for Peaceable Kingdom and its personal inscription, wondering how I had not thought of him often.  Entertainment Weekly heralded his death to the masses, complete with Stephen King’s tribute.  And to think I shared a drink and a meal with Dallas.

I wanted to write this post just after Dallas’ death, but I didn’t have it in me to put any words down.

Then a friend died.  An older woman I had wished to know better, and had intended to visit, but didn’t because of life’s hectic nature.  I remember thinking how I would visit her in her nursing home room. She had liked the cookies I had brought the last time.  Maybe I would ask a friend to come.  Only I didn’t.

And then this week, the unthinkable happened again.  The Parkland School Shooting.  As an educator, I am afraid, afraid of when it will happen in our school.  It has happened so often in America and yet we play out the same response, pray, debate, and drop the subject.  As a mother, I cried and ran home to hug my son.  I pray everyday it won’t happen in his school.  The memory of him recounting the first time he had a lock down drill in kindergarten shook me.  Children should not have to experience such things.

Death is so often casually dealt with.  Some grieve.  Some ignore it.  But one thing is true to me, the Grim Reaper is walking about our purple mountains, our fruitful plains,  from sea to shining sea.

May we transform to become better human beings.




Writing Through Chaos

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So I didn’t write last week.  Except for this blog.

The short story I started two weeks ago is still sitting in a word doc waiting for me.  And I confess that I’m a bit stuck.  For me, writing is a discipline.  Kinda like working out.  Most weeks, I have a plan, but if I deviate, then the plan shatters.

It’s no way to write.

When I was younger, I could commit pages of verbal vomit to a doc.  The words would just flow from beneath my fingers onto the page.  Images would shoot between my eyes, guiding the story.  It wouldn’t matter how much housework had to be done, or papers needed to be graded.  Writing came easier than it does now.

Now I need to plan.  Pantsing a piece hardly happens.  And if it does, then it falls like a poorly constructed Jenga tower.  The problem is that time is tight.  Taking the time to plan my writing in advance of stapling my ass to the chair in front of the desk is like planning my workouts.  Daily life can derail me. I’ve adopted a new mantra “Just Skip It” instead of “Just Do It.”

So I have been thinking about giving up WORD and GOOGLE DOCs to jump into the pond with Scrivner.  I do like to be organized.  And I think that some of the outlining options would help me craft tighter tales.  The problem I have is that I want to be able to move from my Windows desktop to my IPAD.  A friend told me I’d have to buy both Scrivner for Windows and for IOS.  And then I’d have to use Dropbox to move files from one platform to another.

This sounds complicated.

So I’d like to hear from you.  Do you use Scrivner?  Is it worth the money?  How has it helped you?  Or did you try it and find it bothersome?  Please send me some comments! 🙂

Hope to hear from you!


Chaos Theory

Chaos theory word cloud glowing

It’s almost 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday night. Time to watch XFiles.  Be back later.

Bet you weren’t expecting that were you…  I love the Xfiles.  The show grounds me in a simpler time.  DH and I used to watch it as part of our “date night”.  And tonight, I need grounding.

Most of the time things run pretty smoothly, but this week Chaos Theory has reigned.  It began with some bumps in the road of my life last week with a sick grandmother and a frozen water pipe.  But then all hell broke loose.  Microwave died.  DH accidentally sliced off part of his thumb.  Cell phone software was corrupted and required an hour phone call with an Apple tech.  And today, Munchkin, who rarely rides the bus, but needed to because of the delayed opening, banged his head pretty hard when a Mercedes rammed into the back of the bus.

There is nothing like getting a phone call at work telling you that your child is being taken to the hospital.  Nothing.

And being middle-aged, I found myself unnaturally calm.

I had the wherewithal to scribble assignments on the white board in the front of my classroom and label the handouts for the remaining classes.  I even turned off the computer, locked up my laptop, and grabbed a diet coke from my mini-fridge along with some pretzels.

Don’t judge me.  I was starving.  And I know how long emergency room visits can be.

I didn’t even speed on the way home.  Or panic when DH got to the hospital to find out that Munchkin wasn’t there.  I was really good.

Until I saw my Munchkin red-faced and teary-eyed standing next to the other injured child.  And then I felt his fear and his relief in seeing me.  The tears welled up and my hands shook a bit.

And then Mommy mode took over again.  Fill out forms.  Hand over insurance card.  Listen to PA and her instructions.

All the while my poor DH who had just had a very difficult follow-up for the thumb with his doctor sat in disbelief.  How much shit can one week dole out?  “My boss isn’t going to believe me,” he said.

The twenty-something me would have been hysterical.  The thirty-something me mad as hell at the woman driving the Mercedes.  But the late forty-something me has had some experience under her belt.  I’ve been through rough patches before.  And I’ve got a little faith.

Late forty-something me lives by “it is what it is”.  I have been practicing non-judgement and mindfulness.  Meditation is important to me.  And so is surrender.  We can’t control what happens to us.  We can only control our reactions.  The rest we have to let go.

If only I knew that when I was younger.

We live in a world where you hear about nuclear missile drills and false alarms.  We witness Mother Nature’s wrath in her crazy weather patterns.  We have leaders who toss words about like cheap dirty underwear, not caring about the repercussions of their word choices.  Every day we hear about human horrors: abuse, murder, corruption.  We are at the whim of corporations and their greed or politicians and their policies.

And truthfully, we cannot control these things.  We can only control our reactions.  Trying to be calm in the middle of the storm is like sitting in the middle of a merry-go round.  If you slide toward the edges, you will fall off.  If you sit in the middle of your soul, you will still witness and feel the effects of Chaos, but you will be able to control your reactions and give yourself the space to breathe.






spaceHappy New Year!

Today I have been thinking about space: space to write, space to read, literal and metaphorical space.

Yesterday I took some time to clean out my “writing room”, a third bedroom in our suburban ranch that houses books, this computer, a few chairs I’ve inherited, and my Reiki supplies.  It felt good to rustle through the desk drawers and chuck things I haven’t looked at in over a year.  It felt even better to find lost stories in the closet, ones I would like to revisit and possibly revise.  Spending an hour cleaning up the room felt right on New Year’s Eve.  It felt like throwing out the old to make space for the new.

My Reiki training has helped me make cleaning spaces a priority.  If I want something new to show up in my life, I need to make space for it.  Clutter in a room can muddle a mind.  Heavier energies can get trapped in piles of “things” that I may not need.  Letting go of stuff is important.

Space is time.

Tomorrow we return the chaos of everyday life.  Back to work and school, sports, meetings, and more gatherings with friends.  It is a tricky time for me because I give more than I’ve got at work.

One of my resolutions for 2018 is to give myself SPACE.  Space to write.  Space to read.  Space to be ME.

This holiday season has been magical as a middle-aged mom because I felt as if I had space to just BE.  I read when I wanted to.  I ate when I was hungry.  I laughed when something was funny.  I said “No” when I just wanted to stay inside and binge watch TV.  I was spontaneous when my son asked me if we could see The Last Jedi for a second time late one afternoon.

Most importantly, I did not worry.

And this made me happy.

Space is necessary for writing.  It takes more than just duct taping your ass to a chair in front of the writing tool of your choice.  Writing requires giving your muse some space amid the text messages, social media, to do lists, and other “important” things that causes your brain to spin.  Imagination requires time to slow and the mind to wander.  Doubt needs to take a hike.

Reading requires space too.  Taking the time to read aloud to my nine-year old before bed is still a sacred time for us.  Allowing my mind to slip into story and see someone else’s characters interact in their plot is still priceless.  It is in that space that I lose time, but it’s worth it as I come out feeling connected to another writer’s world.

I dare say that giving yourself space, allows you to connect more deeply with others.

Best wishes for giving yourself the SPACE to be you in 2018!






I warned you! If you have not seen THE LAST JEDI yet….wait to read this until you do.



Last chance.




I was seven when my father took me to see STAR WARSA NEW HOPE in a theater on Route 46 in Totowa, NJ.  We stood online for nearly an hour, hoping to get tickets.  Dad was super excited, but I had no idea how much the movie would influence me… for the rest of my life.

My son was seven when The Force Awakens debuted in theaters.  My husband and I sat on either side watching his expression of awe as the curtain lifted and the story unfolded.

And this weekend, we took him to see his first 3D movie, The Last Jedi.  I think it is my favorite of all the Star Wars movies.

And this is why.

The Last Jedi highlights the duality of human/alien nature and sets it on a collision course with the unknown.  Point of view is critical to the movie as we watch Rey listen to Luke’s story about what happened to Ben Solo.  And Luke’s story is different from Kylo Ren’s.  And Rey listens to both, seemingly without judgement.  And then she goes off to figure out the truth for herself, which leads her to understanding that she doesn’t know half of what she thinks she does.

A similar situation is presented between Poe Dameron and Admiral Holdo.  We’ve known Poe before and want to root for him, but it turns out that Leia, who we’ve known longer, who knows more, may be the side to root for, which left me as an audience member conflicted and unsure of how the story line would play out.  As Leia admonished Poe, I felt conflicted too.  What was she doing?  And then the explanation came and I had my “aha” moment.

The dual nature of light and dark is best represented by Luke’s fear of the dark side and Rey’s curiosity towards it.  Luke tells Rey of his desire to destroy the Jedi, believing that the need for balance and acceptance of both light and dark must overcome EGO.  Lesson one.  We are all connected by the same energy.  Being “great” means separation from the whole.  It is a risk that leads to chaos.

Rey dares to go where Skywalker told her not to, seeking to find out the truth about her parents.  And yet, the force does not reveal this truth to her, signaling that where she came from does not matter, but where she goes does.

And the setting for this illustration of duality is that the unexpected happens throughout the movie.  This element waylaid Finn and Rose as they tried desperately to save the last of the resistance.  The unexpected thwarts them their entire journey…yet things turn out okay for them.  Poe learns to control his impulsiveness and trust.  Leia learns to let go.  And Luke…learns to be who he is, not what he wants.

The Last Jedi is about faith and surrender.  No one is purely good, or evil.  And we do not have control over everything.  As Rose said, “We shouldn’t destroy those we hate, but save the ones we love.”  And those we love may embody the duality of light and dark.   We should not discard those who have wandered onto a dark path; yet we cannot control their outcome.  We can only love them.

And then we will be “the spark” that lights hope.

May the Force be with you.