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The Bee’s Bruised Knees

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Elle and I are a lot more alike than either of us will probably ever readily admit. In the pursuit of being your own person, sometimes the driving factor is to show who you are not.

And yet, I see Ellie’ s banged up shins next to my own bruised legs and can’t help but think, “Yep. That’s my girl.”

Ok, so it's really our shins. Whatever.

We are not particularly careless, but we are not overly cautious either. I’m a mechanic and like a gardener, getting dirty is pretty much part of the job description. By Sunday, my hands are usually not too gray — unless I work on our cars over the weekend — in which case, forget it. However, my legs tend to bear the brunt of my work. On our smaller buses, the Type As (the rest of the world knows them as Short Buses), I remount the tires by resting them on my thighs and then lifting. Don’t judge. It works. So that’s the twin bruises on my thighs.

Then there’s the abrasion on the outside left leg paired with a two-day-old bruise on the inside. Inside is where I banged my shin after a test drive and outside is where I gouged it BEFORE the test drive on some sheet metal.

It’s cool. My tetanus shots are up to date.

Elle on the other appendage, is a complete mystery. I ask her, but I don’t think she always notices when she gets injured. Mr. Pirate and I have encouraged her from the get-go to dust herself off and pick herself back up again. She cries, but almost always follows it up with, “I’m OK.”

Maybe she’s been watching a bit too much “Paw Patrol” and has accepted the accident-prone Dalmatian, Marshall, as her personal hero?

Marshall the firehouse dog

He really is OK. He’s just still growing into his paws.

Regardless of the why, I think I’d rather she learn to be resilient and aware enough of her own body so that she knows when to sit it out and howl, and when to bounce back with a grin and a wave.

So for all of the Moms like mine who had semi annual visits to the hospital, thanks for letting us learn our limits. We’re out there raising up the next batch of cheerfully bruised kiddos, and I think we’re all better for it.

~*La!

 Fashionistas Don’t Fall Far From the Family Tree

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 Fashionistas Don’t Fall Far From the Family Tree

Learning things about your parents is always weird.

I used to think that the pursuit of understanding where you came from was a pursuit that only those who are adopted could truly undertake. That for the rest of us, it’s too easy. Our answers are right there if we only know what questions to ask.

We’ve had the easy path outlined for us in bright flourescent genetic paint. 

But then you stumble across a box of your mother’s old clothes and you find not only skirts she sewed herself, but also the type of shirt you longed for her to let you wear at age 14.

A sweet little baby doll shirt that she loved probably at the same time that I was still little more than an idea. I don’t know. Maybe she had it before then.

I remember being in 9th grade and wanting more than anything else to be allowed to shop in the juniors department. The 70s were only just starting to make a comeback and I wanted my T-shirts to be both tight and tiny. Nevermind that the kindest description for my body type was skinny or waiflike. I just wanted to dress like the others girls.

And maybe this is part of why she resisted. It wasn’t because the shirts were too short in the midriff. It was because the fashions themselves reminded Mom of a time when she was much older than my little teenage self. By the late 70s, Momma was already a college graduate, a mother, and effectively a world traveller. Her teenager in the late 1990s had no business dressing like someone that mature. 

It’s also weird to learn that now her retro blouses would fit me but absolutely not her skirts. I’m 33 and like her I’m a college graduate, a mother, and a sorta world traveller (she’s got at least two more countries on me). Unlike my mother at that same age, my hips are epic. Not massive. Epic. It’s a good thing though. I like my hips.

It just means that if I want to set aside any clothes for Elle, I’d better hope she likes vintage when she’s 14. Otherwise girlfriend is gonna inherit hips and there will be no hope of any of us wearing these skirts ever again.

Helping

“Momma, I want to press letters.”

And so we are. I remember being her age and sitting at my mother’s blue typewriter, tongue sticking out of my mouth as I poked away at the keys. The satisfying click and thunk of the keys striking the paper roll.

This morning she read the white letters on the STOP sign in one of her picture books.

“S-T-O-P. Stop. That’s a stop sign.”

Ellie might not recognize the connection between what she’s saying and what she’s seeing, but that’s OK.

She’ll get there.

“I holded it up and I holded it down and I banged my heart in weightlessness.”

Yep. That’s my girl.

~*La!

Slow burn

There are so many things that make me burn.

Injustice.

Intolerance.

Deliberate callousness.

So when I feel stuck on a low emotional simmer that I can’t explain, then I feel like I’m not doing enough.

Right now, I’ve tried for over an hour to put one word after another to form some coherent account of my brain space.

It’s really busy in there right now and there’s not enough oxygen to set my mind on fire.

The bottom line though is that I hope Ellie will never be called Honey when she is on the job in the someday future where she is an adult.

~*la.

Skeletons in the Backyard

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My parents will soon move from the house where I grew up and I have mixed feelings about the whole endeavor.

It’ll be good because  they’ll leave Virginia and move closer to me, but in doing so, will move farther away from my sister.

They’re having a new house built ultimately so that they can age in place, but I have a hard time visualizing them in their new space.

Back in the spring, my sister and I jotted down a list of all of the nice features of that old house. Skylights in the kitchen — one car-garage (in a neighborhood that does not have garages at all) — well-maintained year-round garden. But there’s other things about that house too that not everyone will love nor any potential buyer will ever know about.

Things like the guinea pig skeleton in the backyard. Scooter, a hand-me-down calico colored guinea pig, died the night before we were going to take her to the exotic animal veterinarian. I remember checking on her periodically throughout the evening and then going in to find that she wasn’t breathing.

We’d had other pets die before, but Scooter was mine. She’d been my responsibility since a neighbor kid couldn’t take care of her anymore and she came to live with us. Her grief was mine to carry and deal with. I emptied out a shoe box and we buried her the next day in the backyard. Every year when my parents go to till up the soil in the garden I think about where she’s buried and wonder how much evidence of her would be left. I wonder if whomever buys their house will ever find her tiny skeleton in tact or just dig up her bones one at a time and know them for what they are — a memory of child-sized grief.

 

Making Friends

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Ellie is having her first ever play-date on Saturday and I envy her ease at making friends.

Granted it’s with Sia, her best friend since they started in the infant room together at day care, but still. She’ll engage with other kiddos at the park and just instantly start playing with them as if they’ve always been friends.

I wonder if it’s the same for dog parents and if secretly, introverts have children or dogs in our lives as a way to force us out of our comfort zone?

Oh, you don’t like talking to other people? Here, teach this little person how to talk and play well with others.

Need to keep your social engagements to a minimum? Puppy needs to go for walks and everyone likes to talk to you when your pup is so dang cute.

This evening we had a picnic dinner at the library park and Mr. Pirate and Ellie were playing on the rock structure when a younger kiddo came up and started playing with her. Without much else to do, Mr. Pirate and I eventually wandered over to where the other girl’s parents were sitting. We talked a little, about the girls and their ages, about the fact that they’ve only recently moved to the area and then about the weather. By then, I was pretty much tapped out for conversation. I just don’t know what to say to people beyond that.

I think I’ve always felt introverted although my mom insists that I’m not. She’ll tell you that I’m out-going, and I can be. But I also reach a point where I’m ready to retreat inside myself and want to be left alone. It’s a balancing act though. One thing I have learned about myself is that there’s only so much social isolation I can handle – four months maternity leave was almost too much. I like people, just in moderation.

Maybe I just need to take a page from Elle’s book and play with people whether they want to be my friend or not.

In other news:

  • Camp NaNoWriMo was a slog this summer. I need to get back to writing in a very large way. My spelling has fallen off and ideas and thoughts don’t come so easily to my soggy and tired brain.
  • SO MANY BUSES! We took delivery in June of 10 new buses. Because they will be assigned to my terminal, I’ve been assigned to checking them in. That’s been an adventure. More on that later.

 

If I Was An English Teacher — lalalalalalaa

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This is one of those times where I really want an evil twin.

OK. Maybe just a clone. Or a stunt double. Basically, someone who can help me be in two places at once.

I want to keep being a mechanic, but sometimes the siren song of my past life as an English major wafts into my head and I want to drop my tools and go teach high school. Middle school would be OK too but the basic gist is that I have ideas for lesson plans to meet students where they are and help them get to the point where literacy is relevant.

I want to teach literary analysis using this post from Into The Garbage Chute, Flyboy:

diabolical-mastermind:

maskedlinguist:

rale:

it’s kinda cool how our generation has created actual tone in the way we write online. like whether we: write properly with perfect grammar, shrthnd everythin, use capitals to emphasise The Point, use extra letters or characters for emotion!!!!!, and much more – it means we can have casual conversations, effectively make jokes using things like sarcasm that’s usually hard to understand without context and much more. this “incorrect English” has really opened avenues of online conversation that isn’t accessible with “correct English” which is pretty interesting

#this is why attempts by the media to portray online communication by “’‘millenials”“ really frustrate me #because there are Rules okay #like see that’s different to saying ’’there are rules” (tags via @soaringsparrows)

My class and I literally taught some of the nuances of this to our english teacher, things such as the difference between “yes” and “yes.” or “..” and “…”. It makes perfect sense linguistically that we would create this complexity to ease communication in a medium without body language and tone, but what my teacher was really floored about was that none of this had ever “learned” it, we’re “native speakers” of a whole new type of english.

That’s how you make Shakespeare and Chaucer relevant to teenagers. You take wooden and difficult dialog that doesn’t work as standalone text and you get students to interpret it into language that they understand.

Give me Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy as a tweet post. Take the relevant bits and distill it down to it’s most important parts. Take Chaucer’s old English and put it into an online exchange…except maybe not the “The Miller’s Tale” because, you know. Innuendo.

My birthday was last month and I’m 10 years removed from the idealistic graduate who had her heart dead-set on being a reporter. Friends asked me why I wasn’t going to graduate school. Why I was picking up and moving to Georgia for a job at a suburban newspaper in a town where I knew nothing of the local landscape.

Being a reporter made sense. It’s what I’d wanted to do since the sixth grade. Georgia just gave me the chance to try that out and learn instead that the integrity and quality of the leaders I work for holds more value to me than a paycheck at my dream job. Tough life lesson, but one I needed.

That, and it seemed as though the only option for me in graduate school would be to teach.

At 22, I wasn’t ready to teach. I didn’t think I’d have anything to say to a room full of teenagers. I still don’t know if I do, but the ideas are percolating for how I’d actually be able to fill nine months of lesson plans.

Lesson Plan Ideas

  • Native speech and text analysis — see above.
  • Resume writing and why spelling counts — Reason one, people just need resumes. Reason two, it would be valuable to have my sister (a biologist who is involved in hiring decisions) or my derby friend Jude E. Boom (an HR professional with gorgeous tattoos) serve as guest speakers to discuss the merits of a well-crafted resume and how their activities and choices in school matter more than students think.
  • Novel soundtrack — This one would be for required reading books but would work with talking about story arcs and plot development too. Give me the playlist of “To Kill A Mockingbird.” What song shows Scout early in the book? How about the courtroom scene?

It’s not much and it’s hardly something I can use to justify pursuing a master’s in education, but it’s a start.