on who owns the power

I went to the Passport Office today, because that’s what you do on the last day of the year. When you’ve read all the “do it now”, and “buy the shoes” posts, and you realize that you really must take action. So. This is where you start.

Today was the day that I found out who has the power in our country.  As I sat there with the last ticket of the day, lucky number 26, I watched the agents turn away people, because it’s a holiday after all, and we’re swamped.  I looked up at the number on the wall.  They were on #2, and it was 11am.  I was in for a long day, and as it turns out, it ended up 3.5 hours long.  There.  But, I was good with it, because I have plans for this salty year, this 2017.  It starts with a Passport.  More on that later.

I looked at the different groups of families, some alone, and some with many children.  And in my gut, way way down deep, I was smug… feeling like it wouldn’t take me any time at all.  I had my documents, I had my paperwork, I had my money.  The agents would ask the children, “Who is your Mommy?  What grade are you in?”  One family forked over $500 for multiple passports.

But here’s the thing.  No one was angry, or irritated.  It wasn’t what you see, say, at the DMV office.  It was quiet, calm, and oddly peaceful.

And.  I was ready when they called my name.

I brought everything.  EVERYTHING.  I have been married twice, and I brought all Social Security cards.  I brought birth certificates.  I had court documents proving I was divorced.  I explained the multiple name trail.  I had been married, went back to my maiden name, was married again.  Only twice, but it was difficult to explain four names. However, I felt secure in that I had prepared for this.

The agents told me I didn’t have enough-that I would have to explain how come I had so many names.  That even though I had my birth certificate, and all my documents, they still needed to see why I still used my current name, though I have had it for 22 years, and it is mine.  I almost cried.  Because for a moment, I started to get frustrated that only the woman has to go through this.  What about the multiple marriages of men?  What about the hoops I have to go through?  THIS is why I’m marching.  This is unfair.

I looked down at my last passport, that time in 1989 that I was going to teach overseas and never did.  I looked down at my only stamp, the honeymoon trip to Tahiti. I looked at my picture-a 29 year old who didn’t understand the import of this document.

And. Suddenly, I wasn’t angry.  Because I noticed these words on the top of my expired Passport.


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That America finds it so important to track down every piece of information to make sure that I am who I am.  That I am the actual person who is going to travel, and to whom they are telling the world,

This citizen is ours.  Give them the pass in and out. Take care of this person.

Who owns the power in America?  I say this unequivocally.  It is us.  It is all of us.  At the end of the day, I am ever so grateful to be here.  To be a citizen of this great nation.  To have read those words at the top of the passport.  To be free and cared for…passing without delay or hindrance.  I am free.  We are free.

I left the office finally, to get ready for tonight.  This is my last blog post of 2016, with New Years Eve waiting for me.  With a Passport application winging its way to San Francisco. Because 2017. You are waiting. And I want to be ready.

Happy New Year’s Eve to all!


keep-on-hoping2016 is coming to an end.  I have spent it dating, and Tindering, and being very non-committal.  I decided in the beginning of this year, that I would never ever give myself over unless I was madly and crazy in love.  Unless I had decided that this was the one.  The final one.  I went about dating with verve, and refused to be intimate unless I was in love.  I reconnected with old loves, but the old could not be shaken.  I was unwilling to fall back into something unless I chose it.

But this year.  I didn’t like it.  I was untethered on purpose.  I thought I was choosing light connections.  I ran when I felt smothered.  I had a hard time committing past a first date.

So. I stayed alone.  I wandered my teeny tiny bungalow, and became familiar with late night TV, old books, my neighborhood.  I met with friends, but I decidedly avoided any whiff of romance for fear of rejection. and perhaps closeness.

Along about June, I panicked.  I couldn’t get close.  I became fearful that it would never change.  I decided that I should just pack it in.  For the first time in many years, I have been eager for New Years to come.  Please come quickly.

And I have goals.

I want someone who is kind and generous. Patience.  Consideration and compromise. I want to know that he chose me, and will continue to do so.  I’m tired of the old story: the affairs, the caustic sarcasm of a mate you just don’t dig.  I’m tired of starting and stopping.  I want someone who understands that the little things matter: which fork to use, opening the door.  I have a goal to not put too much into something that is filled with holes.

I want to be lucky.  And I want him to be too.

From going all the way from nothing, to opening my heart just a tiny crack.  Going from no-way-never, to yes-perhaps and please.

I want to drop the fear.  DROP. DROP. DROP.

and even as I type, my chest aches, as if making this decision to hope will be so stupid.

And i just think i should try.  Just this once.



This Cross Quarter Day.

August has always been special to me, and I never knew why.  It was a time when the pressure of Summer and travel and party and water was over.  It was not yet time for school, but there was always a sign of renewal in my house.  We would start thinking about lunch boxes and notebooks, and even though it was hot, there was this notion of sweaters, and jackets and new school shoes.

Today is what’s called a Cross-Quarter Day.  Halfway between Summer and Fall.  The air isn’t so horrific, and you can open your windows and doors in the morning.  Vacations and vacation clothing is packed away, the pounds gained are dealt with.  Students and Teachers start looking ahead.  A sense of excitement as I head back to school, coupled with a nagging, “What did I miss and what more can I do?”, accompanies my soul.

This season has been filled with hellos and goodbyes.  D. helped me negotiate the dating scene, met me for yogurt at the drop of a hat, pored over “what does this text mean?”, that is common to this two dimensional arena. She helped me weed out the crazy ones, and keep the ones that were promising.  We laughed and beached and ate. A trip to Palm Springs, a surprising anchor tattoo that I kept secret all Summer, time well spent with one of my best friends in Texas.  I ran a race where I placed 6 out of 26 in my age group.  I didn’t announce, as it was a test I wanted to pass in private.  My dear college roommate’s mother died, and a reunion of old pals accidentally happened.  Sweet B got married overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and I was transported to 40 years of memories at my High School reunion.  I am one week away from sending my first born to college in Idaho.

And this thought.

I have protectively guarded my singlehood, stating numerous times that I will never marry again.  That I would never do that.  Again.  That I am “Stands With A Fist”, a movie reference where the little girl was rescued by Kevin Costner’s love.  My therapist kept insisting that I had been hurt, while I bravely shouted, “No! I’m not hurt! I’m FINE!”  And the tighter I held my fist, the more my hand cramped, the more I realized, yeah.  This isn’t working anymore either.

So.  Here it is…this Cross Quarter Day.  It’s as though the days start to shorten ever so slightly to remind you that Fall is on its way, yet the Sun agrees to keep working all through harvest.  I suddenly decide, that yes, I will admit a small quiet desire, one that lives way down deep.  That I am open.  Yes.  I want this. That I will try to love, and I will try not to run away.  I will keep my eyes open, because I will recognize him when I find him.  I will keep my eyes open, and perhaps in time, my heart will follow suit.

It’s a beginning.  It’s something.

on how to say goodbye to my students


Today is the day.  You play board games with your friends, and I am tasked with the challenge of a farewell letter.  At the beginning of the year, when I wrote your names over and over, and tried to practice saying them, I had no idea of the vast landscape we were about to cover.  I knew my curriculum.  I knew what I was going to teach you, but had no idea what I would get in return.

On the first day, you were crying because you were scared, and I came and over to tell you that I was scared too, and would you come help me.  You told me no one was going to read your newspaper, but then everyone wanted to write one.  You barely spoke, and now you don’t stop talking.  There was that day that I discovered your poetry, and raced to the cupboard to get you a special journal. You are going to be a writer.  A doctor.  An artist.  A go-kart racer.  A pilot.  A soccer star. A professor.


I was a magician.  In the beginning, you didn’t know that I peeked at your name tag, but looked at you and said your name, as if I knew.  And I heard you say, “She knows my name!”  You would stand in my way and want a hug, and I couldn’t walk in one direction without you stopping me. Now, when I come on the yard and you ask if you can help me, I’m thrilled, because you’ve become my personal secretary.

I know when I announce it’s time for Daily Five “Old School”, you scream with excitement, because you get to pick what to read, what to write, and what to work on…stories of mystery, drawing cartoons with purpose, writing lyrics.  You have become the textbook.  You blossomed, and you taught me what I needed to know to ignite your spark.  Your Mom came to me crying.  She told me that you have been in trouble every year.  Except this one.

Those times we stopped class.  To talk with a Native American tribe leader to explain what happened to Indian children during the Mission period.  To watch Father Serra get canonized by The Pope. To watch The President talk.  To talk with the man who made our Math Videos.  To chat with our Canadian pen-pals.  To use Google to chat with each other, to learn collaboration in real time.

Your Missions.  Your inventions.  Learning not to use the word “basically”.  To use well instead of good.  To care for each other’s feelings.  Days when you begged, “Can we do SHARING day today?”  You asked so much, that I actually had to set aside a weekly time for it, even though it’s not Common Core, and seemingly not academic.

There were so many good things.

But there were things I missed.  And I’m sorry.  That time when you didn’t have gel in your hair, or it wasn’t combed.  I don’t know what happened that day, but I didn’t ask. I just gave you some extra time to fix your desk. When you wrote, “I don’t know what is life?” in your journal, I answered you by saying, “Sometimes I don’t know either.”  I knew there was something going on in your 9 year old brain, but I didn’t find out.  I just sat next to you.

I wish I had taken more time to sit down with you when you were fighting with your friends, but I knew you all would work it out.  When you forgot your stuff at your Mom’s or Dad’s, I told you it was okay…that my boys had to learn that there’s one extra step when you live in two houses.  I didn’t let you off the hook, but we figured out how to make it work.  I’m sorry that you cried in that Math Lesson.  I cried, too.

I’m sorry about that time around Christmas when our Twitter, Expert Chat, and Google was all shut down, and we had to use the textbooks.  I know.  It was awful.  And thank you for trusting me that Homework wasn’t necessary.  Okay.  Those Spelling Tests I gave to you were to make you feel safe.  You like memorizing.  It’s not rigorous. But you wanted them.  Multiplication Tables.  Grammar.

It was those months that you taught me.  That you still wanted to read and write and sing and play and that even though everything was shut down, we could still learn, and when I didn’t think I could do one more day, you showed up with your smiles and hugs and, can we please read to you today.  It was then that my Grinchy heart grew. That I realized we didn’t need all the exciting bells and whistles.  That we just needed each other, and an open heart.

Okay, so this is getting long.  Here’s what I want you to know.  You must speak properly.  Math matters.  Even though everything is metrics, you have to know inches and feet.  Trust me, you just do. You live in the best state in the nation.  That the California map became alive when you put your family pictures there.  That I wear a dress on Fridays because I want you to keep bringing it all week long, even on Friday.  That your grades are just numbers at this point.  And that even though I act like I know, sometimes I think I haven’t done enough, or that one more lesson would really help.  Know that I’ve eaten my weight in your birthday donuts, but I wouldn’t dream of saying no to you.

It’s hard to say goodbye.  You are sad, and you think you will miss me, but you will not. You will take all these lessons, and bring them with you, and to the world.  And you will understand that love never dies.  It just changes form and grows.  You will love your next teacher, and all your new friends. You will be fine.  I promise.

And someday when you remember this class, I will want you to know this…That you were wanted.  Every single day.

Goodbye to the Class of 2024.  I love you.



i know this is ridiculous

be brave

i was in church today, and a crying baby was being comforted in his mom’s arms in the pew ahead of me.  the baby arched, and a decade or more flashed before my eyes, as i remembered him crying in MY arms all those years ago.

and she.  she came and got him from me.  the she that sat two rows behind our family with her family who appeared like an angel to help me.  to help me with my crying baby. and all the years she helped with them and then when finally realized that she.  well, she had another agenda.

and i sat there looking at this baby, and wanted to help this mom with three other babies, but i was frozen in another time frame.  impotent to help.

and i started to hurt.  the way down in my chest hurt.  the realization that he will be going to college in a mere five months.  he has chosen a western state far away, and i suddenly realized that i’ve been telling him for years that he will find this really cool and interesting life and path, and i was ready to release him to you, the world.  his future.

and then. last night crying that deep down mom cry.   i’m not ready.  every fiber of my being wants to tell him to stay and go to junior college, and that it will be really fun, and every other part of me knows that he.  he has to go.

go far from the ugly divorce that never seems to end.  to the empty college purse that his father spent, and to find and forge his own new way.  he has to go find his truths.  his way.

but there i stood watching that crying baby, and all i wanted to do was hold my own.  feel that small body holding my hair, my earrings, head on my shoulder.

that time i had a private therapy practice in our town, and i rolled into our driveway after a long night, and he …a three year old..said… mom.  you were talking to the people, and i knew you would come back.  you always come back.

and i did and i do.

and now i have to get ready to fling him to you.  it’s a while, yet.  but please.  please take care of my boy.  and boy.  you.  please be brave.

i thought it would be easier.

running still saves me


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when my head is on fire.

when i don’t think i can do it one more time.

running still gives me shelter from the storm.


recently, my brain cracked open in a way it’s never been.  or not in a really long time.

and my head.  as well trained as i thought i had it.  wasn’t.

i wasn’t expecting this particular thing.



i drove and drove to san francisco on a whim, as i am apt to do.

and what appeared innocuous turned like hot nails in my body.

as i came up over a hill and fireworks seeped from the sky

into my chest.

and i could not wish it away. or think it or pray it away.



i bought new shoes. and then i ran.

and i ran.

and my head would not un-squirrel.

until one day on one particular run, everything seemed to shift ever so slightly.

and the answers fell into place, bit by bit.


and it was every marathon i’d ever run.  all those races.

the training.

i know now, what it was for.


because.  today.  running saved me.  again.