I’m done adulting …

Today marks the first day of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  The challenge begins with A on April 1 and continues the alphabet A-Z Challengethroughout the month, except on Sundays. My theme for the month will be this blog’s tagline: life, books, and all things bookish. So you can expect a little bit of this ‘n that. I’m still reading, though, so I’ll add reviews whenever possible. Thirty days of blogging is a huge commitment for me, but I’m looking forward to meeting and greeting new blog friends.


I’m guessing most of us have seen the I-can’t-adult-today-don’t-make-me or adulting-is-hard memes that pop up on Facebook or Instagram. And let’s face it, although they may sound a bit whiny, I sure can relate. I’m tired of my 5 A.M. wakeys and weekends grading papers. Eating healthfully can be boring. (Anyone care for some delicious broccoli quinoa bites?) My house payment sure would buy a whole lot of clothes or a nice vacation.

modified from pdpics.com

It is rather amusing that what millions of sixteen-year-olds long for seems like a terrible idea after ten or twenty (or forty!) years of responsibility.

But flip that adulting idea on its head for a minute. Never mind the complaining. Forget the grumbling.

I’m done with adulting so I can wear sensible Olive Oyl shoes because being comfortable is more important than looking fashionable. I’m done with adulting so I can laugh with my students when they try to explain naughty lyrics to me as gently as possible–because through my eyes they sometimes see a celebrity’s silliness without me saying a word. I am done adulting so I can count a candybar as lunch and not worry because, after all, I’m really saving calories by only eating 260 for my “meal”. I’m done adulting when I bump-and-grind old school at line dancing because a little stompin’ and steppin’ is a whole lot classier than twerkin’ and doing the nae nae. I’m done with adulting when I talk to the geese at the park because, let’s face it–we’re all God’s creatures and on some level, they must understand. Right? I’m done with adulting so I can hit sticks on the sidewalk with my year-and-a-half grandson because … well, what else are sticks for, if not for smacking on the concrete?

So I won’t be adulting today, thank you very much. I’ve got a million things to do.

Pretty soon now …

We’re only a day or two this side of MarchRobin, and the temperature in this cold Great Lake state was pushing the Big 6-0. The sun was bright, the sky blue, the clouds scattered–postcard perfect. I walked a couple miles in Riverside Park and no matter where I was along the trail, at least ten people were both ahead and behind me. (And nearly as many dogs!) Frisbees. Bikes. Strollers. The wind blustered and whipped around, but no one seemed to care. I stepped in puddles because they were … puddles (!), not banks of snow.

And it was one of those days that gave me a case of the pretty soons.

Pretty soon I’ll ditch my down coat and mittens–I’ll shiver my way to work at 6:30 a.m. without a coat (maybe a sweater if I’m feeling cautious) and sashay out the door at 3:30 as comfy as can be. Pretty soon it will be grilled ‘burgs on Sunday afternoon instead of pot roast. Pretty soon we’ll hear the Orioles calling “We’re home, we’re home!”, always a few days before we actually see them dipping into the grape jelly at the feeder.  Pretty soon the weekend soundtrack will be the voices of Jim Price and Dan Dickerson calling the Tigers game. Pretty soon we’ll grumble about cutting the grass.

We still have a few snow storms to weather, I’m sure. Ice-cold mornings mean I’ll keep sweaters and wool socks in rotation. I won’t put the Ice Melt away just yet. But the geese were flying low along the riverbank looking for a place to nest, I spied two robins in the park, and the sun still shines after dinner.

Pretty soon now, pretty soon.

Taking the plunge

It was the first week of January, that time of new beginnings and fresh starts, when each year I look at the blank pages of a crisp new planner and think of all that I could fill it with: travels to far away places, appointments to beautify the winter-drab, trips to the gym to sculpt and tone. Except that I knew none of that would really fill my days.

Laura Ritchie@Flickr.com
Laura Ritchie@Flickr.com

So instead, I decided to slough off a few habits that no longer served me. Get out of the same-old same-old rut. Stretch myself a bit. An online class by Brene Brown. More time in meditation. Line dancing (I know, right?!) And sign up for a writing workshop. Mind you, it sounded great on the website. Sit around the table. Listen to others’ writing. Practice the craft. Share what I’ve written. (Actually, the first three sound just dandy, but the last, not so much.)

It would be intimidating, I knew, for the me who would rather snuggle on the sofa with a book, browse this week’s New Yorker, watch some YouTube videos, nest at home on these cold February evenings. But I felt the fear and did it anyway. (Thanks, Susan Jeffers!)

Now I’d done this once before, and thought I knew the drill: write a new piece each week or so, bring enough copies for the entire workshop, listen to the critique–it’s excruciating, intimidating, sometimes beneficial, but definitely not for the faint of heart.

This workshop follows the Amherst Writers and Artists Method, which was a different approach altogether. The AWA is an affirming and non-threatening practice in which anyone who writes is a writer and where it’s a given that everyone is born to create. All writing is treated as fiction, even though we’re invited to write “from memory or imagination.” Workshop writers offer only positive comments: what resonates with you? what will you remember? We write in 10, 15, 20 minutes chunks, always after given some prompt: “it was the first time; blue; what matters … ”

It helps, too, that the studio space and the workshop facilitator are a delight. Stuffed easy chairs, ottomans, sofas. Lamplight and bookshelves. Not a conference table or florescent light bulb in sight. And our workshop leader, Emily? She is a sweet young woman, willow-like and graceful, with what I suspect is a wise, old soul. She is gentle and encouraging. But above all, she’s a confident and skillful writer who knows her stuff.

If you want to grow as a writer, or even if you’ve only ever considered writing, this workshop just might bring you the same satisfaction it has brought me.

(Psssst … I’ve already signed up for April.)


Happy birthday to me!

It finally happened. I am almost old. Almost …

Melissa Doroquez@Flickr
Melissa Doroquez@Flickr

My mom, who just celebrated the big Eight-O this fall, tells me, “You’re finally catching up to me!”
And I say (patiently, mind you), “No, Mom–I’ll never catch up to you. You will always be twenty-two years older than me …”
“Well,” she says, “It just makes me feel good to think you’re almost sixty–that’s pretty close to 80!”

I’ve still got a couple years ’til I get there–and I’m not afraid to use them. Who knows what will actually happen (I am learning to live and love One Day At A Time), but here’s how I see those two years unfolding:

1. I’m getting ready to retire after 24 years of teaching. It’s hard to believe that at the end of my career I’ll have had about 3,000 teenagers sit in the seats of my classroom. Un-frickin’-believable. It will be difficult to say goodbye, but I think I’m ready. In that time “my” kids have watched me remarry, lose a parent, and become a grandma. Together we watched 9-11 unfold. I’ve had a blind student and students with hearing loss in my classroom. A student who was battling brain cancer, and a student who had cystic fibrosis. Students with Asperger’s. I’ve watched teens lose a parent to cancer, a brother to suicide. More than a few have run away or found themselves homeless. I’ve helped build homecoming floats, hosted Swirl and Prom and piled 50 fifteen-year-olds onto a Greyhound to travel to Mackinaw Island. I’ll never be the same because those 3000 sixteen-year-olds touched my life. And changed me profoundly.

2. I’ll welcome at least one new grand into the family–right now the total is at 2 1/2. Never in my life did I think I would turn into “one of those” grandmas. But it happened. This week while babysitting, Jonas took a kiwi and spinach food pouch out of his diaper bag and tried to twist the top. What did Grammy do? Why she uncapped it for him, of course, and let him have a snack! He wanted to carry around my bracelet. Why not, little fella? Oh, you want to take off your shoe? Go for it! I had no idea that on this end of the parenting spectrum I’d throw discipline to the wind and give my little babes whatever their hearts desire. It’s a heady thing, this grandma love, and I’m looking forward to whatever new additions come my way–and much more babysitting.

3. Hubby and I have weathered our share of life’s storms and I am oh-so-ready to head towards calmer waters. I’ve learned I’m learning my way is not the only way and he’s learning … well, that’s his story, not mine. Between us we’ve lost a parent, a step-parent, and three grandparents. We’ve sat watch in the hospital room of a critically ill parent more times than we’d like to admit. We’ve said goodbye to our beloved lab, Trixie, who was the same age as our marriage. We’ve lost a lot. We’ve gained … maybe more? Time will surely tell. I hope in the next few years we can tick off a few items on my bucket list. Like Italy. The Canterbury Trail. Lewis and Clark’s route. But even if none of that pans out, I can still say my life has been sweet, in part because of a man who is bold and courageous and darn good lookin’. So, if nothing else, we’ll pack up that camper and head to the Lake. The U.P. Out west. Because there is nothing so sweet in life as sitting beside the campfire, saying nothing at all. And maybe that’s enough.

One more assignment

In high school’s everywhere (but especially in mine right now) the last week or two of the semester vibrates with a kind of frenetic energy.papers to grade

It’s almost like the beginning of the school year when everything was new and fresh and possible. Kids–especially those with their eye on the scholarship prize or a dream school–hustle to make up, rewrite, turn in, retake, and otherwise pull out all stops to nudge their class grade up a few points. The semester grade counts. For credit. For GPA. For class standing. And so we teachers keep long lists on our desks of who’s coming when to make up what. When Academic Advising period starts, we shuffle papers like the best of any Blackjack dealer.


We wheedle and cajole and exhort a kid who is close (so close!) to turn in even one missed assignment–or two or three. These are the kids who have thrown their hands up. (Or put their heads down on their desks.) Not necessarily because of the school or the work or the teacher. But her mom had a heart attack. The booze or pills or whatever are back in Dad’s closet. Big brother went to jail. They lost the house. He sleeps in a garage. The baby was up all night. *Shoulder shrug* Why bother? Please–get that credit, graduate. It’s possible, I swear. One. more. assignment.

And then the Scantron machine works overtime zap, zap, zapping those  bubble sheets. The last Powerpoint slide on the last presentation transitions into the grade book. My own head aches, eyes blur from scoring over two hundred essays in the past week and a half.

And it is what it is for all of us … before it starts all over again on Monday.