s#SOL20 Day 31
The last day of school with the class you've been with for 9 months
The last day of your favorite vacation
The last day of living in your house before it’s sold
The last day you spent with someone you loved before they passed away.
The last day of 8 chemo treatment
The last day you felt free before the world changed because of a virus
The last day you could walk in public without a mask and gloves
The last day of the slice of life 2020 March challenge
Smack in the middle of the rainy, dreary day yesterday, I heard some noise coming from the basement when I was on my computer developing another online lesson for my students. My daughter's baby was taking a nap so I was surprised it wasn’t quiet. It was the middle of the day, but the four of them ( my two daughters, a son-in-law and a boyfriend who are living with us for now) decided to gather together and meet in the basement, where we have a ping pong table, a Foosball table and some exercise equipment. Music was playing and they were all smiling and laughing and very busy! One was on the treadmill, one was on the Peloton bike and two were dancing to music following some steps from an old game we had hooked up to the television set when the girls were in high school. I stood on the basement step in amazement. They had found a way to enjoy each other and the moment. Even though we’d all been busy most of the day working, we’ve all been feeling stuck and isolated. But these clever kids of mine, they found a way through exercise, music and dance to feel free.
Like the hands of a clock
Life keeps moving forward
We grow older
When life unexpectedly
on the hard
cold steel table
facing the inevitable
your body in position
the tattooed black dots
on the four corners
in the sterile room
over-sized metal disks
rotate and roam
slowly breathing in
hold, hold, hold
as the blue laser lines
marked with scars
from the battle
I use to think I’d have time to write
Now that I’m stuck inside my house
Without a schedule or clock to watch
I use to think I’d have time to read
Now that I’m stuck inside my house
Conquer the pile sitting quietly on my nightstand
I use to think I”d have time for yoga
I’d download great classes
My body would feel better than ever before
I use to think I’d have time to clean up my basement
To go through the years of school material I’ve saved
To toss out the old, making room for the new
I use to think I’d have time to look through my photos
Now that I’m stuck inside my house
To create those Shutterfly albums I never had time to do
I use to think I”d have time
But, I was mistaken as my time is eaten up
Learning technology and how to teach on-line
I use to think life was predictable
But, I’ve learned that you can never predict
What tomorrow will be like
DAILY QUARANTINE QUESTIONS: (Idea borrowed from a fellow slicer)
1. WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR TODAY?
I am grateful that my loved ones and close friends have not yet gotten this virus. I am grateful for the health care providers that are putting themselves in danger and working so hard as many of us are safe at home. I am grateful that two of my three daughters had the ability to leave the city and their small apartments to stay in our spacious house with us, along with a grand baby and boyfriend. I am grateful for their help in forcing me to get my head out of the clouds and be realistic about the days and weeks to come by arranging food deliveries and the purchase of a second freezer so we can be prepared for the worst.
2. WHO AM I CHECKING IN ON OR CONNECTING WITH TODAY?
I have checked in with my sister and close friend, Lisa. I’ve connected with my colleagues at work through a google hangout. I sent text messages to several parents of my students to make sure they are okay. I spent timeless parts of the day with my grandson while my daughter worked, preventing me from doing the stuff I’d normally do, but loving every second.
3.WHAT EXPECTATIONS OF “NORMAL” AM I LETTING GO OF TODAY?
I am letting go of wearing makeup, cleaning up water glasses after everyone constantly (just some of the time because I am compulsive) and worrying about what everyone is going to eat. I am trying, unsuccessfully, to stop worrying about the “What if ... gets this virus?”
4. HOW AM I GETTING OUTSIDE TODAY?
I went outside this wonderfully rainy morning to take out the garbage and somehow never got outside again today. How sad.
5. HOW AM I MOVING MY BODY TODAY?
Today, for the first time this week, I went on the Peloton bike sitting silently in my basement. It felt so good to be out of breath and sweat. My body is so thankful.
6. WHAT BEAUTY AM I CULTIVATING, CREATING OR INVITING IN TODAY?
I am enjoying the unexpected gift of watching the discoveries of a seven-month-old exploring the space around him. As a grandparent I can simply love, love, love while his mommy is pumping to provide his milk, planning his meals and doing all the tedious, hard work.
shining like a flashlight
in a dark room
glowing up the sky
I push the stroller forward
hearing the squeals
of seven-month old Henry
delighted to finally be outside
breathing fresh air
watching his little feet
kicking in the air
big brown round eyes
peeking from under
the rim of his cotton beanie
scanning for puppies being walked
watching cars creep by
smelling the green grass
feeling the heat
finally, the sun
Thank you for the sunshine that flows across the room through my window, calling me to stop spending time on my computer and to get outside and enjoy the beauty of the day.
Thank you for the rain that pounds on my ceiling, creating the feelings of wanting to cuddle up, snug on my cozy sofa and read a good novel for hours.
Thank you for the flowers that I received for my birthday that sit quietly in three vases on my kitchen counter filling the space with various shades of pink, purple, ivory and green, bringing the feeling of spring closer.
Thank you for the cool breeze that brushes my cheek and cools me while enduring a long, grueling rock scramble adventure with my family.
Thank you for the breath I can take in and out with ease, keeping me alive and reminding me that others may not be so lucky at this moment.
Yesterday I took for granted the ability to go to the supermarket and buy whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Today I bought a second freezer to store food for the weeks to come for fear of nothing being left in the supermarket shelves.
Yesterday I watched my seven-month-old grandson grow each day through face time when my daughter had a minute to call me. Today I watched Henry crawl for the first time in my den since he’s living with me now.
Yesterday I came home from teaching and was alone in my big house until my husband came home at dinner time from work. Today my two daughters and grandson are living at our house keeping me laughing all day long.
Yesterday I was worried that my gynecologist daughter would get HIV from a patient she was attending to in the hospital. Today she tells me that she is destine to get the coronavirus and I worry that I won’t be able to help her.
Yesterday I looked forward to going to school to spend time with my delicious students. Today I fear that I am not technologically savvy enough to support their learning.
Yesterday I looked forward to seeing my monthly book club girlfriends next week to discuss our recent book, American Dirt, which has so much controversy leading to amazing conversations. Today I fear that I’ll forget the details of the story when we meet in a few months.
Yesterday I wasn’t worried about the stock market and investments. Today I worry not just for myself and my family, but for the world.
I see the computer screen in front of me waiting for the words to appear.
I see a refrigerator filled with food for the weeks ahead.
I see bibs, tiny spoons, and bottles on the kitchen counter.
I see the dim light in the hallway as Henry sleeps soundly in his crib.
I see my sad looking school bag in the corner.
I hear the sound of the dimming lightbulb above me.
I hear the pounding of my fingers on my keyboard.
I hear the voices from, “The Heart of Dixie,” show my daughter is watching.
I hear my own thoughts, "Don’t get obsessive about writing this slice."
I feel anxious about the technology I will be expected to master.
I feel unsettled about the uncharted path of the next few months.
I feel panicked about the stock market’ downward spiral.
I smell the delicious roasted chicken my daughter baked for dinner.
I smell the red long stem roses that my student gave me for my birthday.
I taste the milk chocolate chips I grabbed guiltily from my freezer.
Teeny, tiny hands that magically manipulate objects small and large, that holds a plastic bottle up high until the last drop is gone, that gingerly grabs your hand as he slowly falls asleep, needing to know that you’re there.
Beefy, muscular legs that wiggle and kick, that propel his little body to turn over, that bend as he begins to crawl, that love to move step by step across a room as someone holds his little arms as he giggles with joy.
Perfectly shaped mouth that explores every object that can fit inside it, that opens wide when a spoon is approaching, that coos and squeals as happiness spreads slowly into a smile that feels like it’s solely for me.
Long arms that spread wide when he wants to be held, that support him when he lays on his tummy and arches his back while his head rises proudly towards the sky, that sweetly grab my neck when he’s in my arms.
Big eyes as round as the moon, exploring the world, examining the pages of books being read aloud, that sparkle when he notices me across the room, that reluctantly, slowly closes their lids as he falls asleep.
“Don’t expect me for Passover. I won’t expose you and our family to the virus.” Julie states with authority.
Julie is an attending gynecologist at a huge, busy urban hospital. She is the one called into the emergency room when a pregnant woman arrives. She is the one patients see at the clinic who have no insurance. She is the doctor on the maternity floor calmly reassuring patients as they are scared and panicked about birthing a new life. She is the doctor who delivers six, seven or more babies during her 24 hour on-call shift when complications keep her working in the hospital into the next day. Too often, she’s the one up at night worrying about her patients.
She’s continually exhausted; mentally and physically.
“Julie, please wear a mask at work,” I pleaded with her yesterday.
“Mom, you don’t get it. I was given one non- reusable respirator mask that was fitted for me. The hospital keeps them under lock and key. They don’t have enough of a supply. I have it in my bag for an emergency,” she tries to reassure me.
I wonder, isn’t every person she comes in contact with at the hospital a potential threat? What is considered an emergency? Once someone is coughing within six feet of her it will be too late for her to grab her mask and shove it on her face. What if her skinny, exhausted body has to fight this virus?
Does the worrying ever end?
As soon as our car traveled up the steep hill through New Paltz, New York, we all took a deep breath of fresh air. Serenity. It’s amazing how your body relaxes as your lungs breath in fresh air. Your shoulders drop down as the smell of the fresh wood burning in the fireplace fills the air. Oh, what it must be like to live in a rural area, surrounded by nature all the time.
Mohonk was built over 150 years ago so it has the feel of long ago. As you walk down the corridors you feel like you're back in time. It’s a feeling of security. My husband and I found this haven when our three girls were really little. They’ve been rock scrambling here all their lives. Now, they bring husbands, a boyfriend, and our new grand baby with us to share our love of this place.
I walked into our room and beautiful flowers were sitting on the fireplace ledge. A surprise from my kids. I walked out onto the tiny balcony, hearing the screech of the wooden screen door and sat in the worn wooden rocker. I looked out over the railing to see the mountain covered with tall pine trees,a meandering river, a wooden gazebo, and stone paths below, just waiting to be explored.
I don’t get it.
From what I’ve been reading on #SOL blogs, seeing on the news and hearing from friends, the toilet paper shelves all over ( supermarkets, CVS, convenience stores...) are empty! Today, my daughter went to the Rite Aide by her apartment in Manhattan and texted a picture of the naked toilet paper aisle shelves! It looked like the picture was out of a horror movie!
What is this frenetic panic that is sweeping our nation about running out of toilet paper?
I’m confused. Do people just buy a few rolls at a time. I stock up… buy a bunch and stack the rolls in the bottom of my closet by our bathroom. Tonight my husband came home from work and was smiling ear to ear. He exclaimed that he found and purchased two large packages of toilet paper when he went to pick up dinner at a local, small supermarket by our suburban home. While I was setting the table, he texted his friends at work that he had gotten the goods! (Note: he’s never in his entire life bought a roll of toilet paper prior to today!)
During dinner Eddie shared with me how today at work, all day long, the conversation was about toilet paper. Each person had shared their toilet paper tale; their frustration and their fear of running out of toilet paper! Everyone that is except David. He had been gloating all day because he had been so clever. You see, he had ordered a “butt load” of it on-line a few days prior. We had a good laugh because David is this even tempered, calm guy who never gets riled up about anything.
Tonight, after my husband realized we had so much toilet paper already stored in our closet that we barely had room for his new purchases, he texted everyone at work offering to share his toilet paper good fortune.
A few minutes later a distraught David texted him. His order was cancelled!
Every year my sister Janet and I try to celebrate our birthdays together on the actual day of our birthday. As my sister and I both work full-time (as teachers in different school districts!) as evening arrives, like most women we know, we are busy with working out, buying groceries, cooking dinner, and the gazillion other activities, responsibilities and obligations. Even though we only live a short distance apart and talk several times each day, the little time we spend together is spent taking care of our elderly mom. But on our birthdays, none of this matters.
When Janet called me yesterday morning and asked how I wanted to spend my birthday evening this year with her, I declared, “Let’s go to the movies!” I LOVE going to the movies - the big screen, the popcorn, the escape…. Sadly, with the ease of streaming movies on ipads and smart televisions at home, my husband and I never make the time to go out to the movies. I selected the new Jane Austin movie, Emma. I knew I’d love the scenery, the costumes, the precise English language and the beautiful way they expressed themselves back then. Janet didn’t appear too thrilled with my movie choice , and even slept a little during the film, but she never complained. It was MY birthday.
After seeing Emma, which I absolutely loved every second of, Janet and I reminisced about the times we’ve celebrated our birthdays together in the past. For one of Janet’s “special birthdays” (I won’t dare divulge ages here!) I arranged a “Georgia O’Keefe” trip to Santa Fe and invited two of her close friends to join us. My sister and I have always been lovers of art museums and Janet is an accomplished water colorist. As she’s always admired Georgia O’Keefe’s work, I thought she'd love visiting the desert that inspired Georgia to create her paintings. We took the “Georgia O'Keefe '' private bus tour that took the four of us to the places that Georgia created art and lived that I had arranged. We ended up having so much fun with the tour guide/ bus driver that we switched our fancy dinner reservations that night to go to the small tapas bar where he had mentioned he was going to be singing, playing his guitar with his dog by his side. I can still visualize that big, burly guy standing by a tall microphone, with his huge white beard, checkered flannel shirt and faithful, golden retriever dog laying at his feet. And Janet laughing and smiling as his music filled the cozy bar.
I’ve been thinking about how selfish I was when I was little as I found Janet’s birthday frustrating because I had to share my older sister’s special day with other people, like my parents and her friends. I created the perfect solution by establishing an annual “Janet’s Day!” I’d randomly select a day to post my hand-drawn posters all over our shared bedroom walls and left packages, poorly wrapped, of a few of my prized possessions on her bed. I’d be her slave for the day and do whatever she’d ask. It was my favorite day of the year.
I sometimes feel disappointed that I haven’t formed friendships with groups of girls from high school or college days like many women share on Facebook . That just wasn’t in the cards for me. But writing this slice has reminded me that having my sister in my life is one of the best gifts I could ever ask for.
The hysteria is getting worse and closer to home. Last I heard there were 142 cases of coronavirus in New York. Many local suburban schools are closed and our proactive district is asking teachers to prepare on-line lessons that can be done at home in case we too need to close.
Monday morning my co-teacher and I began the week by asking our fifth graders to gather around our carpet for our typical weekly class meeting. But this meeting’s goal wasn’t to discuss how we can improve upon active listening or transition skills, but to discuss the information we were asked to share with our students in a recent email from our principal. We talked to our students about washing their hands for 20 seconds, demonstrating how to sneeze into, not above or below, their elbow, why we no longer want to “high five” our friends, and the need to stay home if you feel sick. We answered a lot of questions and concerns from our students as kids are seasoned eavesdroppers and hear everything their parents say and what’s in the news. I pray we allayed anxiety and didn’t create more of it. It’s hard to tell.
This week our custodian placed a new Purell dispenser in our classroom by our door. I don’t know why the old one wasn’t good enough, but this one is getting so much use that a girl in our class asked to go to the nurse because her head was hurting. It appears that she’s allergic to the Purell. It’s all around her all day long as everyone is spritzing their hands with Purell as we walk in and out of the classroom.
One more casualty of the coronavirus war!
Today is my birthday. I will spend the day in school, teaching my fifth graders. I really, really dislike being at school on my birthday. I’m not really sure why, but it’s how I feel. Some years, I was lucky and had the day off if my birthday fell on a Saturday or Sunday. Four years ago, my daughter Chelsey talked me into us both taking a personal day at work and spending it together in New York City. I took the train in after school the night before and we had dinner in her apartment and talked late into the night. We thought about going to the theater, but ended up on this cold, rainy day, walking in the city streets holding umbrellas, going to the movies (La La Land) and Chelsey’s favorite lunch place… a cute little cafe that served a gazillion different kinds of tea. Oh, what a wonderful day that was!
When I was little, March was the best month of the year. My birthday month. I looked forward to that month each year. I’d be the center of attention as my parents made a big deal for each of our birthdays. But, now it’s different. I try to force myself to be positive, to appreciate my luck in life... having a wonderful husband, family and friends. It’s so wonderful when I get birthday phone calls or facebook birthday messages from friends and distant friends that I haven’t spoken to in a long time.
Yet, I still feel melancholy on my birthday. I don’t like to open birthday cards early or think about my birthday prior to the day. I even dislike seeing the expiration date on items at the supermarket with my birth date stamped on the container. What’s the matter with me?
I tell myself that age is just a number and that I look and feel much, much younger than my years state that I am. My father would say, “Getting older sure beats the alternative!” I know that is true, but for me watching the numbers of my age climb, especially when the first digit changes, is scary. Time keeps moving forward and I keep getting older.
SOL20 Day 6: Living by the, “ KISS Principle”
My father had a saying, “Keep it simple, stupid,” and he lived every day of his life by this phrase. He would insist when buying an appliance, such as a dishwasher or washing machine, that we’d buy the simplest one with the least amount of buttons and switches which amounted to less chance of it breaking. He had little possessions: a few pairs of black socks, two or three pairs of the exact same beige pants and his man tailored shirts in long and short sleeves. He simply wore the few pieces of jewelry he owned. He had few friends, but treasured the few he had. His life centered around earning a good living as an engineer to provide for his family, loving his wife and being an active, involved dad to his three kids. His favorite Sunday activity was to go to Jones Beach with a picnic lunch and spend the day riding the waves.
My father was raised by poor immigrant parents who didn’t speak English, yet he stayed focused and never missed a day of school and became a scholar. He graduated high school at 16 and enlisted in the army at 17. He could tell stories about his life as a soldier overseas that were filled with adventure and excitement. Yet, after he married and had a family, he was content living a simple life in the suburbs.
I aim to live by this saying, “Keep it simple, stupid,” but honestly, it’s hard. As a teacher, in my zest I tend to add too much information in my reading and writing lessons, but have learned that the simple ones are usually the most effective. I used to wander through Marshalls looking for bargains to decorate my house with, now I want to simplify and reduce the “things” I own by donating used items to charity instead of storing them. Why keep buying new clothes when I hardly wear the ones I have hanging in my closet?
I’ve noticed that I’m happiest when I’m walking on the beach, listening to the ocean and birds and collecting sea glass and rocks. I’m content to drape a blanket over me on the soft, sofa cushion as I read a novel. I’ve learned that keeping it simple helps me to feel at peace and brings me happiness. My father was a wise man.
SOL20 Day 5: 31 Things About Me (Inspired by slicer, dmshelrif)
1. This is my first year as a slicer.
2. I believe everyone should have 3 careers during their lifetime.
3 I became an Interior Designer straight out of college.
4. My second career as a teacher happened after spending five years earning a
masters in education, while raising three little girls.
5. I’m not sure what my third career will be, but it’s gonna be fun.
6. I enjoy playing pickle ball, a sweaty workout and an intense yoga class.
7. I love learning new things and being in the role of a student.
8. I’ve never been a great speller, so I am grateful for spell check.
9. I professionally challenged myself years ago by achieving National Board
Certified, then did it again ten years later and am ready for a new challenge…
hence, the Slice of Life Story Challenge!
10. I feel fortunate that I spend my days during the week laughing and learning
from curious, funny, innocent, honest, caring children.
11. I have taught 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th grade in the past 21 years.
12. I walk on the beach and collect sea glass every single weekend.
13. I met my husband in a bar over 41 years ago and love him more every day as
life with him is a joyful journey as he begins each day with a smile.
14. My husband and I raised three beautiful young women, who are confident,
self-reliant, compassionate, strong-minded individuals.
15. I became a “Bubbe” this past August when our middle daughter and her
husband had an adorable baby boy, named Henry.
16. Our eldest daughter, recently married, delivers babies and is a surgeon
(gynecologist,) while our youngest daughter is a physics high school teacher,
who teaches earth science, robotics & engineering.
17. I’m in love with our daughter and son-in-law’s bernedoodle doggie, Maple
Mae, who is loyal and loving, and the cutest thing ever.
18. I wish that every young family could include a dog because they giv
unconditional love and are there when you are in need of love.
19. I have had five root canals that are now implants in my mouth.
20. I could have traveled the world with what I spent on my teeth.
21. I was born, raised and have lived on Long Island, New York my whole life…
22. My family loves to play games like boggle and scrabble and we are extremely
competitive. (I like to think that I usually win!)
23. My daughters and I continually have a challenging puzzle that we’re working
on together, that takes us months to complete.
24. Luckily, I have the best sister in the world, who's my biggest fan and always
by my side. ( I don’t know what I’d do without her.)
25. My favorite place, beside the beach, is a bookstore or a library.
26. I am an obsessive person (according to my husband, compulsive too) who
needs to finish what she starts.
27. Sadly, I can’t leave my house with dirty dishes in the sink.
28. I can’t leave my classroom at the end of the day without everything being
ready for the next day.
29. I love to cry at movies and when reading powerful stories.
30. I care about our earth and do my best to help preserve it.
31. My mother used to say, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” I try hard to live by this
saying and instead of getting caught up with the minutiae of life, I STOP to
remind myself that the days, weeks, years of my life are passing by quickly,
so I need to grab hold of each moment and enjoy it. ( I did say, try!)
Sea glass, found on beaches, is naturally worn and smooth by tide and time,. As a mother & teacher, reader & life-long learner, and of course, sea glass collector, I aspire to use writing to help me understand myself and the world around me.