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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Couched in Comfort

We've been in our new house for more than four months now. We started with beds, four bean bag chairs, and some folding tables. In early January we got a dining room table. It was glorious to have a place to eat together. On Sunday we finally purchased a couch for our living room. Now we have a place to sit together all snuggled up.

One little step at a time we make this house more of a home. When we got here, we were just so overwhelmed with gratitude to have a roof that was our own again furniture was an afterthought. Then it became a chore to try and find affordable perfection.

Back in March of 2017, I wrote every day about things that were not mine. It was a healing journey of memory and gratitude for what I had lost but also for what we had gained and held on to.

I still reach for the missing light switches that were once here but are now in different places. I still reach for the laundry chute that is no more. But right now I've got my feet up and feel comfortable as ever.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Train of Thought: Cold to Kramer

It was a cold day today. The kind of cold day that started bearably and then became face freezing suddenly so it somehow felt colder. My room was blowing cold air most of the day so I had this core temperature issue that was difficult to resolve. It reminded me of a Seinfeld episode from my college days when Kramer's core temperature drops after falling asleep in a hot tub after the heater breaks. He goes days unable to get warm.

This is the kind of thing that would only happen to a character like Kramer. This thought led me to a realization that within my realistic fiction unit with students, I could create a believable character while still have unbelievable situations occur for the purpose of humor and tone. I laughed to myself as I thought about creating a Kramer-like character who slides into entries, kicks up his legs in greeting, and wears eight sweaters when he's cold. A quirky yet loveable character. My students are so eager to get creative and step outside the rules of our unit of study we might just need a character like Kramer to help break the mold.

Also, I think I need more sweaters.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Facing Fear

Last year at this time we were living on a channel that led to a small lake. The kids really got into ice skating, and we all got skates. We thought, "What a great idea, this will be a great activity."

It was a great activity, for everyone...but me. I have a slightly irrational fear of falling. Heights can scare me, but typically only on a human-made structure. A trail on the side of a cliff doesn't seem to bother me as much as a suspension bridge. Water scares me. I can swim, but I don't very often, and when I do it is usually in a pool. I really thought ice skating would be something I could work my way into enjoying. I mean it looks so fun!

Last year I put my skates on at least a dozen times. I would sit on the dock. I would sometimes scoot onto the ice for a moment in a totally awkward squatting position and then frantically get back off. We started going to a skating rink, thinking, it was because I was worried about the ice breaking. Nope. No deal. I sat. I would set my skate on the ice and immediately stop myself and then go sit back down.

I watched people on their skates. I watched my children skate with glee all over the rink. I could not figure out why I was so paralyzed and why I could not will myself to just do it. So what if I fall. Why was it such a big deal?

We went to the rink today. I said I would try...again. They knew that meant I might not get on the ice. I moved a "walker" style support close to me so I wouldn't have to walk over and get it once my skates were on.

Was I actually going to try today?

I put my skates on, and my heart started racing.

Someone walked by and took my walker thingy! Oh no!

My son went and got me a new one.

I sat.


Then I stood up, just one foot and gripped that red piece of plastic walker like my life depended on it.

I barely moved at first. It was an inch at a time. Then a little more.
I was halfway around.
My husband said, "Okay, 3 times around and then you can take a break."
WHAT! NO, I have to go back now!
Then I said to myself, "What the heck am I doing? I have had these skates for over a year now, and this is the first time I'm actually using them. I better do three laps."
So I did.
I thought every muscle in my body might burst into flames. Especially the arches in my feet. I could feel all the tension with each move.
Slowly, and for a moment here or there, it felt a little effortless. My hands never left the walker.
I watched many people fall.
I watched moms with their toddlers struggling to make it around.
I watched teens holding hands.
I watched a hot shot hockey player nearly take out five people.
And then I was done.

A total of seven laps with three breaks in between. I was exhausted but elated. I had finally done it, and I lived to tell the story.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Relentless Frenzy

What's this? Wait, this is familiar. It's been a while, but I remember this. I hate this, but I can handle this. I'll just sit for a minute, and it will pass.

Five minutes go by...

It's still here. Hmmm, okay. I'll go hide behind my desk and try to relax, try to will it away.

Ten minutes pass...

People are noticing. I can't hide it, and I see the worry in their eyes. I've done this before. I'll be okay. I can't seem to shake it though.

Thirty minutes pass...

I listen.
"What does he think?"
"We should call someone. This isn't right."

I hear the walkies, the conversation.
"The ambulance is here."
I've lost. I couldn't will it away. I wonder what it could be? Is it really something I can't understand?

Bumpy roads
No lights
No siren

--"Hello Mrs. Hubbard, let's go over your information. Have you had any other symptoms? When did this start?" Etc. Etc. Etc.

Hours pass...

--"Everything came back okay. If you are feeling better, you can go home."


That was my afternoon yesterday. A jarring and startling pain that caught me off guard. A spasm that I've had on many occasions, but it's been so long since I've felt pain like that.
A reminder.
Yet, everything is fine now.
A fluke?
I don't know.
Better safe than sorry but frustrating none the less. A reminder that sometimes we don't know what is happening to us. Sometimes we are reminded of those who care about us, for us.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Dreaming of Questions

I wonder, if beings are capsules, what do they epitomize? I have experienced many bits of life, and many bits of life await.
If our dreams are representations of our experiences, how is it we can experience, in a dream, bits of life which we have not encountered? Chased by a bear. Falling from a height. Flying from a string.
I suppose all such experiences are a culmination of our sensations. I mean really, what is a dream but a representation of just that, sensation.
Intense fear. Immense love. Gusts of joy. Fleets of sadness.
A dream is the encapsulation of all these. Bits of life squeezed into a moment.
Acute ideals swept into our sleep. Realizations of wishes wanted and just out of our grasp.
I wonder, what dreams have I yet to meet? Are we dreaming enough? Have I let my mind wander to the risks outside of my grasp?
We say, "Dream BIG!"
But, a big dream rarely comes to be without little dreams along the way.
Have a sweet little dream. Let it grow.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Noticing the Immeasurable Bits

Such a funny thing,
to watch stories step out
from behind clumps of lines...

Kneeling in the dirt
troweling bulbs,
I gather clustered ideas.

Looking up above,
whisps of white
write across a pink sky.

No burdens over me
of format or rules,
just words from my day.

I watch the letters,
they dance over my fingers
clinking and clicking together.

All just little bits
of immeasured life,
waiting for the curtain.

I breathe in a breath,
eyes shut I exhale, open.
Audiences the same, but I am not.

Poetry has been on my mind lately. I can feel those words piling up in places that have been a bit vacant. I look around at things, at stories, at people, at situations, and the words write and swirl around. Like little tornadoes of poems flying and out of control. I've got to somehow catch them all and close them in a notebook to settle down and sort out later.
Are they poems?
Are they feelings?
Is there a difference?

"Writers must...take care of the sensibility that houses the possibility of poems."
~Mary Oliver 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

For Writing's Sake

I've been working on a short story. It links a trip I took to my Great-Grandmother's hometown in Missouri to a fictional tale of her meeting her best friend Maureen as a young girl. I was spurred by a writing contest in my state that was open to my students and decided to write alongside those interested in joining the fun. I've never entered a short story contest. It is a bit outside of my writing comfort zone if I have one of those. I've struggled and still struggle to find the story. I've written many little scenes and I'm not really sure I'll finish in time to submit the story I hoped would come but either way, I hope I finish it "enough" to send it regardless.

When I began writing slices many years ago, it is what opened me to the idea of how difficult and how simple writing can be. I wrote little pieces of my day. I wrote about experiences in the classroom. I found stories. What I'm finding now is that searching for stories in my daydreams is more challenging. It's a good stretch for me and has reminded me that I need to write small if I am ever going to write big.

Some might say that writing for an educational audience, like the one that comes with being a co-author at Two Writing Teachers, is writing big. It is big. It allows words I've thought, said, and written to be read. However, I have always believed that the best words are often the ones that begin for ourselves. I'm wandering back to those woods. It's chilly there but welcoming, and eventually, I'll be warmed again by the swirl of ideas that come from writing. Writing long and short. Writing for writing's sake.