Her Name is Janet

...Or Smartass, if you were to ever ask my mom. If only she'd had the foresight.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

#2 Pencils,The Adventures of BoBo, and Other 3rd Grade Memories

Thin as a rail and wearing bright orange lipstick, Mrs. Johnson kept me after school each and every day. I clapped so many erasers that year, with such vigor, we probably resembled residents of Chernobyl covered in radioactive fallout.

Staying after was probably intended as punishment--I had quite a mouth on me, right from the start. But I had no where better to be and I loved Mrs. Johnson. She was kind, and a good story teller, and reminded me a little bit of my grandma...minus the whisky smell.

Mrs. Johnson just wanted a clean chalkboard, but I used that half hour to pour out my soul to her, troubles and all, usually in one big long breath. The nature of the troubles is a topic for a different day, but it's enough to say that the transition to a new family and new life was a bewildering and acutely painful one.

So from 3:05 to 3:35 she checked homework while I clapped and cried. She listened to all of it, everyday. She also gave me candy--no wonder I liked her--and her gentle voice assured me, in a vast sea of uncertainty, that everything would be alright.

I knew even then that I was lucky to have her as a teacher. So I would get up in the mornings and happily march myself right into her classroom. There I would sit, at that fliptop wooden desk, absentmindedly kicking the gunmetal legs with my MaryJane's. I'd sit there and smile up at her, hoping to radiate back some of the glow she cast from her from her sweet, soothing presence and bright orange lipstick.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

10 Books I Think You Should Read

Pippi Longstocking -- Astrid Lindgren

James and the Giant Peach -- Ronald Dahl

Jungle Book -- Rudyard Kipling

Madeline -- Ludwig Bemelmans

To Kill a Mockingbird -- Harper Lee

The Essential Calvin and Hobbes -- Bill Watterson

Charlotte's Web -- E.B. White

Curious George -- I forget who wrote George

A Little Princess -- Frances Hodgson Burnett

Yertle the Turtle -- Dr. Suess

These were my favorites...what were yours??

Monday, September 26, 2005

At Least It's Not More Pictures Of My Cat

I'd hoped this website would be a place where I would document my thoughts and hone my writing skills, but instead of insightful reflection on life or the world, I present to you: more pictures. These were taken at the reflecting pool at Cranbrook House though, where I could wade-in to about mid-calf. And that's deep enough.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Operation Shredded Hand, Status: Nearing Completion.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Cat, Interrupted

Here we see Spencer taking a brief pause from playing "Lion and the Doomed Gazelle." Guess which character my hand got to be?

Monday, September 19, 2005

I have a friend. Let’s call her “Chris.”

Everyone agrees that “Chris” is amazing. She is witty and talented and kind and smart. Being with “Chris” feels like home. No matter where your actual home happens to be.

If you’re new to the group, “Chris” is the kind of person who makes you feel as though you’re in on the joke, rather than being the outsider, laughing nervously and hoping to feel included. She has a way of looking at you that beckons and says “Come.” “Come to me. I may not know your name yet, but I love you already.” And the thing is, she really does.

She has four incredible children. She has loved and nurtured them in such a way that they are each uniquely and genuinely down-to-earth, positive and encouraging. And somehow, just being around them seems to give you permission to be the same.

It’s worth mentioning that “Chris” is beautiful. That she has these curls. On her head. They’re a veritable golden corona. I’ve learned not to sit behind her in church because the lure of tousling them is just too, too tempting. Then there’s her dewy complexion, which is more than slightly reminiscent of an alpine maiden. You know the kind, one who traipses around the mountainside, smiling and yodeling and fording crystalline streams to rescue one of her flock.

“Chris” is physically beautiful, but ultimately that’s irrelevant. Like the rest of us, what she looks like will change. She’ll age, and maybe she’ll develop a hunch, or her skin will sag, and that dewy glow will diminish. She may not be able to ford a stream forever.

But when those things happen Chris will still be beautiful. Because her kind of beauty goes beyond the ordinary, earth-bound sense of the word and transcends what can be seen or touched. Hers is the kind that affects other people, grounds them with love and peace, and it is akin to grace.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Friday, September 16, 2005

Does It Matter What Color Your Parachute Is If Your Pack Doesn't Open?

Concerned friends (and ofcourse, my mom) ask every few days about whether I’ve gotten a job. It’s always asked politely, with the kind of false brightness that, in my mind, only marginally masks their real thoughts. “How’s that job hunt going?” translates to

“Exactly how long are you going to lie around the house doing nothing?”

“Aren’t you bored? Don’t you feel useless?”

“Don’t you want to be a productive member of society?”

By all appearances the answer is no.

In truth, when I first lost my job, the free time was a blessing. I needed to decompress, not unlike a deep sea diver coming to the surface but fearing The Bends. But eventually, they were right. I was bored, felt useless, and wanted to be a productive member of society.

Well, sort of.

I suppose this classic ditty would be a good investment, but I’m fearful of tests designed to analyze my strengths and aptitudes, helping me target the “right” career path. After spending hours in thoughtful contemplation and filling out bubble tests, I imagine only one possible result…and it's one I’m not prepared to hear.

After careful analysis of your strengths and aptitudes, we have determined that your inclination for luxury and lack of initiative indicates that you are best suited to the lifestyle of a lazy, aimless aristocrat.

“Unfortunately, you lack the Rockefeller trust fund that would enable the lifestyle to which—we all agree—you should be accustomed to.

“But ‘should’ has never gotten anyone far in life, honey, including you. So pick up that Comet with Bleach and get to work. Somebody’s got to clean the toilets.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Rise and Shine

Jim's morning routine.

My morning routine.

Okay, my morning routine, really.

(No, not really.)

Favorite thing said to me, of all the sweet things a boyfriend ever said.

"You'd have a perfect body, if it weren't for your thighs."

Yup, he's a keeper.

Kept by someone else, obviously.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Orleans

The newspapers, radios, personal conversations, no one discusses anything else.

As soon as the disaster recovery organization calls with the coordination info, I'm on my way down. Once its a little safer.

Stunned into silence? yes. Appalled by the government's inadequate response? most definitely. But more than anything, I am overwhelmed by the thought that if the people left behind weren't the poorest of the poor, or black, they wouldn't have been left behind at all.