If you could go back in time and meet your 16-year-old self…

what three things would you tell yourself?

Only 3 things?  Wow!

  1. Sweet Briar is a great college and you will have a terrific four years if you go there…but…look around New England a little more.  Can you get into Mt. Holyoke?  Is there a small college nearby that has a great teacher’s program?  And take some classes at Keene State over summers.  And if you do go to SBC?  Room with Candice in Manson your sophomore year.
  2. You have a condition called vulvodynia.  As soon as you graduate from college and Brattleboro Ob/Gyn opens in Brattleboro go see Dr. McBean and get her to fix you.  You will be so glad that you did in 2000.
  3. And that guy, that one that has the funny hair, he is going to have the part of the dad in Bye, Bye Birdie.  And in the future?  You will love him.  No seriously, stop laughing.  Really, you will.  Stop laughing!  You will love him. You will even want to have babies with him.  And they will be soooo cute.  But only if you remember the second thing I told you.

1000 Paper Cranes

Japanese lore suggests that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, your wish will come true. What would your wish be, and what would you be willing to do 1,000 times to get it?

Wishes.  I am one of those people who would wishes for 1000 more wishes.  I don’t like to make mistakes, and so often I am hesitant to put myself out there.  I don’t make phone calls; I don’t take chances; I don’t ask for help.  I am so afraid I will wish for something and then be sorry I didn’t wish for something else.  1000 more wishes would certainly cover that eventuality.  Although I am certain I will still find a way to mess it up.

I would wish to be pain free.  And for that, I would have sex with my husband 1000 times.

I would wish for a daughter.  And for that, I would play trucks with my son 100o times.

I would wish for more confidence.  And for that, I would speak in public 1000 times.

I would wish for a clean clutter free house.  And for that, I would scrub my toilets 1000 times.

I would wish for a marriage as long and great as my parents’.  And for that I would marry my husband 1000 times.

I would wish for tax payers to realize the importance of teachers and education.  And for that I would speak at 1000 town meetings.

I would wish for no more teen pregnancy.  And for that I would hand out 1000 condoms.

I would wish for affordable, plentiful, and wonderful childcare.  And for that, I would stay home 1000 days with my child.

I would wish for 1000 more wishes.  And for that, I would give them away to 1000 people.

If I had a million dollars…

You’ve just been given a million dollars. You are not allowed to keep it or give it to anyone you know personally. What do you do with it and why?

No one I know personally…hmmm…that’s hard.  I would have to give the money to someone I know, but for them to pass it on to a stranger.

I would love to give a bunch of money to my college to help a girl from New England go to college there.  I had such a great time at college, but I think college would be so much better if you didn’t have to worry about money.

I would give money to my Star Island conference to help pay for kids to come out to the youth conference.  I would specify it would be for kids who had never been out to the Island before.  That was another amazing experience of my youth and it costs 3 times as much now, 20 years later.

Lastly, I would give some to the NVA so they can find a cure.  I hate that other women have to go through the pain and stress I went through.   I would love to have had 2 children by now and have a normal marriage, but such was not my luck.  I was so lucky to be diagnosed at my third doctor (the average is 7) and find a man that is understanding and supportive.  I still hope for a pain-free life, but for now I am happy with the life I have.

Do you owe an apology to anyone? Why?

It’s probably not a very good apology if you say, “I am sorry you are so high maintenance and difficult to deal with I can no longer be friends with you.”

How about, “I am sorry your pettiness and immaturity caused me to choose others to be my friends”?

Or maybe, “I am sorry you blame me for your mistakes.”

Nope.  Those probably aren’t good apologies.

I do owe apologies -and thank you notes- to nearly everyone who got me or my baby something last spring and summer when he was born.  I was just so overwhelmed by life I didn’t write most of them and now it feels like it is too late.  I am going to get started on Christmas and birthday and then maybe work my way backwards.

I owe an apology to some of my former students for not doing a good enough job as their teacher to help them improve.  For not knowing enough to teach them better.  For being too embarrassed to ask for help.

I owe an apology to my son for being a crappy housekeeper and limiting the space he can crawl in.  For not moving him into his own bedroom until he was 11 months old.  For still not cleaning out that room.  For the pink rose wallpaper that is still on the walls.

To my friend who has passed away for not being a better friend.

To my friends I have lost touch with for not being better at keeping in touch.

To my body for not taking better care of it.

To my blog readers for being a poor blogger.

What’s your favorite poem?

If I Could Tell You

Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose all the lions get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

W.H. Auden

When I was a senior in high school (1994) I went on a trip to London with my school.  I was in awe pretty much the whole time.  Not that I hadn’t traveled, I was just so in love with London I could hardly believe I was really there.  If I had had a digital camera I would have run out of space on my memory card the first day.  I especially loved riding the Underground.  After all I grew up in a town with a handful of elevators, a crappy bus system, and no escalators.

On the Underground I started to notice poetry in some of the ad spaces.  I didn’t know until way later (enter the advent of the internet) that this was a culture thing.

Poems on the Underground was launched in 1986. The programme was the brainchild of American writer Judith Chernaik, whose aim was to bring poetry to the wide ranging audience of passengers on the Underground.

All I knew was, I was seeing poems I hadn’t read before.  There was one that caught my eye and I wrote it in my journal.  I don’t know what it was that spoke to me in Auden’s words.  Maybe it was the repetition, maybe the odd rhyme scheme, maybe the message, but whatever it was I came home wanting to know more poetry by W.H. Auden.  It was a librarian friend who explained villanelle style poetry to me.  I tried to write poems in the same style, but I am a hopeless writer.  I got a book of his poetry and devoured it.  Four Weddings and a Funeral came out that same summer and featured another Auden poem that just about broke my heart.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.


The connections just keep coming.  The college I went to, Sweet Briar College, actually has an Auden collection in the library.  I don’t actually know what that means, because I was never brave enough to ask about it.

Looking back I wish my senior quote in my high school yearbook had been from another Auden poem, Leap Before You Look.

A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear;
Although I love you, you will have to leap;
Our dream of safety has to disappear.

I would have just quoted the last line, but I put the whole final stanza here to give context.  I was so afraid to leave the safety of my hometown, my friends, the only house I ever really remembered (there had been an apartment until I was 3), my parents and my sister.  Virginia is a long way from Vermont in so many different ways.  And I really had to leap before I looked, or I might not have gone.  I am so glad I did.

I had no idea what I was going to experience in college or how it would shape my life.  I wanted all the answers up front, but they weren’t there for me.  To be trite, I had to let time be the one to tell me so.

If I could tell you, I would let you know

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was 8, if you had asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I would have told you I wanted to be a teacher.  I don’t think I ever thought I would be anything else.  I mean, sometimes I thought about owning a store, or a cafe.  I might have dreamed of being a dancer or an actor.  But for sure the only thing I ever really wanted to be was a teacher.

In October of my senior year of college several of my friends and I went on a trip.  I was sitting at dinner with one of the girls I didn’t know as well and was asking her questions.  I asked what she was going to do after college.  She had no idea.  She chose her major because it was something that she was pretty good at.  Until then it had never occurred to me that anyone was going to graduate from college without knowing what they wanted to do.  I thought that’s what college was, the gateway to what you were going to be when you grew up.  Looking back most of my friends are not working in fields related to their majors, but then, that would have never occurred to me.

When I was a kid if you asked me what my favorite things were I would have said reading and playing on my computer.  This may not be so strange now (the computer part), but I grew up in the 1980s.  I’ve had a computer since I was 2 or 3.  I don’t remember not having a computer.  My memory of my first computer is that it was a CBM, but the screen on that one looks too big.  I also had a Commodore 64 and a Tandy.  I had all sorts of learning games, including the original Math Blaster and something called a Koala Pad.  All the images on my first computer were green on black and created by ASCII text.

Here I am now.  34 years old and wrapping up my 11th year of teaching.  11 years of running a computer lab in an elementary school and 10 years teaching reading, too.  A job that didn’t even exist in my elementary school days, hopefully leading kids to jobs that don’t even exist now.

Looking up

This month’s NaBloPoMo theme is “looking up”. Here are some things that are “looking up” in my life right now.
It is only 2 weeks until my birthday.
It is only 2 weeks until my son’s birthday.
School is nearly over for the year.
The weather is getting better.
I am feeling pretty good.
My son is starting to walk.
My house looks good, on the outside.
I am feeling very confident at work.

I am not even going to list the things that are “looking down”.

Theory Thursday

Partially reposted from 8.28.08:

One of the best things about being a teacher is that you get two new year’s each year.  Two chances to start over; to set goals; to feel refreshed.

In September my goals are usually school related.  Keep my classroom neat, keep up with my lesson plans, be a better teacher.  Sometimes they include eating better, walking more, laying my clothes out the night before.

In January my goals are more personal.  Lose weight, watch less TV, declutter my house, eat better.  I also include school related goals, keep up with the planning, be more creative in the classroom, get stuff done.

I am lucky.  I get to start all over every few months.  It is such a blessing.

Today is my fourth day of school.  It is interesting to see how my goals have changed, just a little.  For example, this January my only resolution was to have a baby.  Okay, so I was already 4 months pregnant at the time, so that was an easy one.

This fall I have similar goals to last year (when I wasn’t pregnant quite yet – only a few days though), keep my classrooms neat (doing okay on that one a week in), keep up with my lesson plans (have not written a plan yet), be a better teacher (I was so tired last year, it will be easy to be better this year.).

This fall I am also going to have to work on picking out my clothes in advance and making my lunch at night.  But I also have to be out of the house on time because now I have to drop my little guy off at school before I head to work.  I have to have clothes for him clean and ready.  I have to have my stuff together.

So this fall I am falling back on an old favorite: “try harder”.

I feel so good starting up this year.  I have already started cleaning out a cabinet in my tech lab and soon will be asking for it to GO AWAY!  I want the room to be cleared of all the crap I have been saving for the last 10 years and never used.  I want to see if I can start fresh.  Have a good new year.