Thursday, October 24, 2013

the empty studio

A few weekends ago we went to Open Studios Lowell to look around the artist studios and see what was happening. It’s such a vibrant community in the Western Avenue Studios where artists both live and work. I spent the hour imagining what it would be like to live and work everyday in creativity. And then we walked to a part of the mill with empty studios. For rent.

In my imagination, this studio has an overstuffed couch with lots of pillows, a cushion on the window ledge, our old wooden farmer’s table, and a wireless router. The wall is a story map, a timeline, a portrait gallery of characters.

I see myself sitting at the table, writing about my grandfather and my students. I see Thea, sketching a new character, using her bent knees as a desk. Anya is banging on her laptop up on the window seat.

I wanted to run home and create a studio there. I wanted to walk over to the office and rent this one. I wanted to sit right down and write.

Since leaving the studio that day I have barely written outside of course assignments and schoolwork. But I don’t feel sad when I look at this empty studio. I don’t lament or complain or even pine for it. I smile. Creativity lives wherever we bring it to life. Today, that’s my kitchen table, the middle school auditorium, the family computer, and Thea’s bedroom.
Someday it might be a studio like this one. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

a bouquet on the table

This weekend my family is gathering for what we are calling a “Celebration of Good Memories.” We wanted to do something to mark the year that has passed since Mom died. That anniversary was August 9. We did mark that day – five us went out to eat at her favorite restaurant (Good Thymes). But one sister said she would rather remember Mom on happy days, like her anniversary. She was very proud of having a long and loving marriage and my Dad died just shy of their 59th anniversary.

So, we planned a gathering of family right around their wedding anniversary (it would have been 62 years this month) with the goal of laughing and crying together as we told stories and remembered our parents. We sent invitations to our few remaining aunts and uncles, and to all of our cousins. Mom liked to get everyone together.

My sisters and I, and my daughter, have been making origami flowers for the tables (my Dad was allergic to flowers, so we’re sort of used to not putting real blooms on tables). So today, as I sit to do some homework for a class I’m taking, I have this bouquet beside me, making my load a little lighter. 

I'm looking forward to Saturday night.

Join the storytelling at TwoWriting Teachers Slice of Life

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Anya was home sick on Monday, having spent all of Sunday coughing. Her nose was stuffed, her ears were blocked, her cough provided no helpful relief of either, just more pain in her throat. I went to work, she went to her grandmothers'.

Tuesday, Greg left for a business trip to Seattle. I ironed for him the Monday night and he left before I opened my eyes in the morning. 

Wednesday Thea stayed home - it was her turn with the cold. I had to work late to attend the monthly staff meeting. We had a great conversation about student goals and how we might work together to reach them, but I was exhausted at the end. I rushed home as soon as I could to take care of my girl.

Thursday, both girls went to school, though neither was 100%. Me? I was nearly knocked down by a wave of nausea and left school 2 hours early. Anya felt it, too. We all went to bed early.

Friday, Thea had to skip band because her cold set off her asthma, despite the increased medication to get it under control. We both fell asleep on the couch.

Today is Saturday. Thea had to skip the Band Day she's been waiting for so she could easily access her nebulizer. I sat down for a long day of homework and schoolwork and now my wrist is screaming for ice and rest. Before jumping into my next project, I opened my email to find a call to link to Ruth Ayers Celebrate the week page and I thought, seriously? Celebrate this week? But then I thought, yeah, celebrate this week; this hectic, stressful, painful, chaotic week. Celebrate a job that challenges me. Celebrate the gift of children I love deeply. Celebrate a loving husband who reaches across the country to buoy me up.

I'm getting ready to snuggle on the couch with my girls and ice cream to watch a show or a movie. In a few hours, Greg will be home. So yeah, time to celebrate.

There's a lot to celebrate. Want to join Ruth and the others?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

parenting the cough

The seal cough woke me up. You know the one, that cough that sounds like a young seal pup is barking in your child’s room. Only, there is no seal. The barking I hear is my own little girl who has an “unproductive” cough that she just can’t stop though she wants to stop because each unproductive cough produces pain in her throat. Her chest is tight and her breathing somewhat labored (though not the labor we saw last week in her asthmatic sister, thank goodness). She is sad and miserable.

I broke out the medicine that usually works, ran to the store for orange juice (which we ran out of yesterday because we all have colds) and hot chocolate (which makes her happy, even if it has no medicinal purpose). The cough lessened, though it has not disappeared, and my little girl (who really is not little at all and is anticipating her 13th birthday next month) is wrapped up in a blanket reading in a chair near her sister.

I hate the seal cough and the asthma attacks and the bellyaches and the congestion and all the other things that make my girls miserable. I hate them because I can do so little to stop them. The worst part of parenting is the ineffectiveness, the helplessness.

And it doesn’t get better just because your girls grow into teenagers.