SOLC Day 27: Uh Oh

March 2022 SOLC–Day 27
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

I noticed my nose was running a little yesterday afternoon, and put it down to the chill lingering in the March air. 

Then last evening, my throat started to hurt. Just a little. You know, like it does when that post-nasal drip is scouring its way down the back of your throat drip by drip.

“I think I’m getting a cold,” I said to my daughter, as we relaxed by the fire. I paused then finished, “I’m a little paranoid it might be Covid.”

She made the appropriate comments (a mix of reassurance and understanding) and we talked about how lots of people are getting colds these days. 

“I guess I’ll take a test tomorrow if I still have symptoms.”

————–

At about 1 am, I woke. 

My throat really hurt. 

“Aw, s&!t” I thought. “I’m going to have to take a test in the morning.”

I lay there, throat feeling raw, contemplating getting up for some Motrin, contemplating what would happen if I did have Covid.

If I’m positive, how many days do I miss? Five? Would that start from yesterday, when I first had “symptoms” or from the test day? 

I honestly can’t keep track of all the changes to the protocols. I’ve given up, figuring I’ll just find out if I ever need to know. Now I wish I knew. My mind kept spinning.

Addie and Ash are supposed to come up on Thursday. If I’m positive, they won’t be able to come. But Addie needs to be here on Friday. Thursday would be the fifth day, right? But if you start counting from yesterday, it would be the sixth? Would that be okay? I’d wear a mask inside. I could hide in my room. What will they do?

Oh, no! Andrea was here yesterday. I’d have to let her know. How would that impact her?

I could move into the spare bedroom…or maybe Kurt could. Which would work better?

Then my thoughts veered back toward school.

If I’m out all next week, or through Thursday, that means I’ll only have four days back at school before I’m out again for three days. Then a few days in again before break. How in the world am I going to have subs teach most of the last bend of the unit and put together conglomerate books? Would I even be allowed to go into school to pull together plans and materials?

Finally, exhausted by my mental vortex, I spun myself back to sleep, then woke again around 5. I quickly did a body scan. My throat still hurt, although maybe not quite as much…or was that wishful thinking?

I went downstairs, drank my orange juice and started the coffee. Then I pulled the Covid tests out from the cupboard where they’d languished (happily to my mind) since December. Within a few minutes, I’d opened a new box, read the materials carefully, swabbed my nose thoroughly, and set a timer for 15 minutes.

I left the test card flat on the counter (as directed), poured myself a cup of coffee and walked out of the room and over to my morning spot. I took a sip of coffee. Its warmth soothed my throat. 

Wait…did I taste that? I took another sip. Faintly. But even if I only have a cold, that influences taste, right? And I just drank OJ. I tasted that, right? Wait. Did I? I think I did. Ugh. I’m just getting paranoid. 

I restrained myself from sticking my head into my husband’s blue cheese container or the fermenting compost bin. Barely. 

I’ll know soon enough.

I started writing in my notebook, skipping haphazardly from one topic to another, unable to remain focused.  

Tick

Tock

Tick

Tock

I wrote a page. 

Then started on another. 

Tick

Tock

Tick

Tock

Halfway down that second page, the alarm sounded stridently.

I stood up and walked slowly toward the kitchen. Toward the test card. I imagined it pulsing red…warning! warning! warning! 

I didn’t want to look. 

I wanted to look. 

Taking a deep breath, I finally looked.

There was a single pink line. 

Oh no. That doesn’t look good. But, wait! What does that even mean? Is that definitely positive? 

I realized that I hadn’t read the part of the instructions about how to interpret results. Quickly I scanned. 

“One positive pink line = negative.”

I heaved a big sigh of relief. Reread it again to make sure. It still said the same thing. I maybe read it once more to triple check. Then, I bundled up the test materials, threw them all into the garbage, and sent up a heartfelt thanks to the universe. 

Phew!

SOLC Day 26: Replete

March 2022 SOLC–Day 26
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Today, as I often do on the weekends, I was out and about early to watch the sunrise. It wasn’t an especially dramatic sunrise, but there was a quiet beauty to the shifting light, the lingering moon, and the silhouetted tree branches.

Along the waterways, the skies were filled with birds. I took picture after picture of geese and ducks and eagles on the move.

After visiting the bay and my go-to local river, I drove a few minutes further up the road to the Abagadasett River. The light was stunning and in the distance a slight mist rose off the water. I pulled over and got out of my car.

Birds were everywhere. Common mergansers swam, dove, took flight. Red-winged blackbirds called from the trees and a sparrow sang its heart out over and over again. I watched three bald eagles fly one after another up the river. Every time I tried to leave, something pulled me back.

You have time. There’s no hurry. Just relax.

So I stayed.

Watched. Listened. Took pictures.

I let the minutes flow by like the river.

You have time. There’s no hurry. Just relax.

Finally, feeling deeply grateful and content, I got back into my car to head home. I pulled off the shoulder and back onto the road. From nowhere, the word “replete” suddenly filled my mind.

Yes, that’s it, I thought

I am replete.

SOLC Day 25: Rise and Shine, Day Two

March 2022 SOLC–Day 25
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Yesterday I had a hard time convincing myself to get out of bed (here). Here’s what happened today:

body: “Psst! I’m up! Let’s get going!”

……

(body stretches, wriggles, kicks the covers around a few times)

body: “Psst! Hey!! I’m awake!”

mind, groggily: “Huh? What?… Why are you up? “

body: “I dunno. But what took you so long? I’m awake. Let’s go!”

mind, confused: “I was having the weirdest dreams…”

body: “But now you’re awake…so c’mon!”

mind, slowly: “What time is it anyway? ….Wait! It’s 3:15 am!”

body: “So what? I’m up! It’s like you always say, ‘Rise and Shine!'”

mind: “But we can’t get up now. It’s too early. If we do, we’ll feel awful later.”

body: “Carpe diem! I’m awake! awake! Awake!! AWAKE!!!”

mind: “Ok, ok. Settle down. How about this? We’ll just lie here for a while and see what happens. If you can’t fall back asleep, we’ll get up. Just give it a try.”

body: “Oh, no. No. No. No. You know how that goes. It won’t be pretty!”

mind: “But we could sleep for another 1 1/2 hours! I need it! It’s been a tough week. Please!”

long pause

body: “Fine, I’ll try.”

body, sullenly, “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

……………

4:47 am…alarm rings

mind: “Oh, good! We got some more sleep!”

body: ….

mind: “Rise and shine!”

body, diving under the covers: “I don’t wanna…”

and so it begins again…

SOLC Day 24: Rise and Shine!

March 2022 SOLC–Day 24
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

It’s 5:15 am and I’ve already been in an argument.

mind: “Rise and Shine, it’s time to get up.”

body, yawning: “… but I’m tired.” 

mind, in full cheerleeding mode: “I know, I know. It’s been a long week, but you can do it.”

body, groggily: “I don’t wanna.”

mind: “Ok, you don’t want to, but still, you really do have to get up.”

body: ………..

mind: “Listen, your alarm went off ten minutes ago. You need to get up. You haven’t even planned properly for the day.”

body, muffled: “ummmmmhmmmm”

mind: “Hey! HEY! I mean it! You have to get up! You’re going to regret it if you don’t!”

body, snuggling deeper into the blankets: “But I’m soooo cozy. And it’s cold out there!”

mind: “Listen. You only have two more days until the weekend. You can do it. And, you have no planning time today. You have to get going!”

body, petulant: “I don’t care.” 

mind, after taking a slow deep breath and counting to 10: “You say that now. But you know how you’ll feel when you’re scrambling to get everything done.”

body: sigh

mind: “GET MOVING!”

body: “Okay, okay. I heard you. I know.”

A long minute passes…

mind: Hey!!!  Hey!!!  What are you doing!?! Take those covers off your head! NOW!”

silence

mind, desperate: “You have to get up! You know you do. In fact, you’re overdue for an observation! You really are. It could easily be today.”

body, bolting up, scrambling to pull back the covers: “Cr*p! Okay, okay! I’m up. What time is it anyway? Geez, you didn’t have to be so mean about it!”

And so the day begins…

SOLC Day 22: Seeking Silence

March 2022 SOLC–Day 22
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Observe the wonders as they occur around you.
Don’t claim them. Feel the artistry moving through, and be silent.

Rumi

The older I get, the more I crave silence. Or maybe the more I hate noise. I’m actually not sure which it is. Either way, I’ve been increasingly drawn to the idea of going on a silent retreat. There’s a spiritual center not too far away from me that offers individual retreats. It’s located on the coast in a huge old building. I’ve been looking into it.

Silence. Ocean. Retreat.

What’s not to like?

Anyway, I mentioned this to someone recently and she suggested that I read the book, “Listening Below the Noise: A Meditation on the Practice of Silence” by Anne D. LeClaire. LeClaire decided to begin practicing silence as an experiment and became devoted to the practice. In her book she writes about how this experience enriched her life. I found it all fascinating.

We need water of stillness with which to nourish our creative selves...

Just as a seed is first nourished in the dark and silent depths of earth, creativity always begins in the void: the empty canvas, the blank page. Springing out of and weaving through this emptiness blossoms art, music, poetry, literature. In the clearing we discover possibilities.”

At the end of the book LeClair makes a few suggestions about how to dip into practicing silence. Her first suggestion is to turn off the car radio. I have about a 25 minute commute to work, and I almost always listen to the radio, or an audiobook, or more recently a podcast. On rare occasions when I’m really overwhelmed, I turn off whatever’s playing, and I always feel better for it. So maybe it was worth turning it off prophylactically, before getting to that totally-overwhelmed place. I decided to try it. To dip into silence by turning off the radio.

Yesterday, I drove to work and home without the radio. In silence.

Today I drove to work and home without the radio. In silence.

My brain, on the other hand, was definitely not silent. It jumped about in true monkey fashion, swinging from one vine to another. It got quite a work out.

But still it felt good. Driving in silence. Letting my mind wander where it willed without adding any new stimulus. I also found myself thinking more about silence during the day. Trying to listen a little more. Maybe talking a little less. Not being so quick to break the silence.

I’m not sure where this journey will take me, but I’m not planning on turning the radio on tomorrow morning.

And I’m pretty sure I’ll be calling that center to make a reservation.

SOLC Day 21: Gathering Calm

March 2022 SOLC–Day 21
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

It’s quiet now. Only the hum of the heater stirs the air. The coffee pot has ceased its productive gurgling, and subsided into its silent warming mode. Every so often it emits a faint tick. The cat, who not long ago was perched on the windowsill, lowly growling at the local prowling tom, has moved on. 

I gather my thoughts. Begin to write. Savor the smooth flow of pen on paper under my hand. 

Outside, the moon, through some trick of light and window screen, forms a brilliant cross in the sky. It pulls my eye, again and again. Turning my attention away from the page. I know it’s something I can’t capture with my camera. Still, I put down my pen, turn off the inside lights and try anyway.

Then I step out the door into the dark, cold morning, stand in the winter-bare garden, and savor the moonglow.

Soon enough, the sun will rise.

Soon enough, the winds of the day will gather and turn.

Soon enough, the silence will vanish.

I linger for just a bit longer. 

Savoring the silence about me.

Gathering my calm before the day begins.

SOLC Day 20: My Day in Pictures

March 2022 SOLC–Day 20
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Some days I process and think through pictures. Just like having a pen in hand, my lens helps me to lean into the moment. To focus on where I am, what I’m doing, what I’m seeing. In both cases, it’s all about being there. Showing up. You have to sit down and pick up the pen. Or get outside and look through the camera. You have to look to see what really is there.

Sometimes my focus is surprising. Shifting unexpectedly. I start writing, thinking I’m going to write a funny story about something that happened at school and suddenly I’m hooked into a long ago memory that still has sharp edges. Or when I’m taking photos, sometimes I head out thinking I’m going to capture clear skies and migrating birds, but fog moves in, and the atmosphere shifts and suddenly all I can see is the trees and the mist and the subtle shifts in light. 

Today we walked through field and forest and along marsh and ocean. It was a moody day and the scenery was dense with atmosphere and fog that lifted, fell, and sometimes almost glowed. I could have stood and watched the show for hours. 

SOLC Day 19: Over it!

March 2022 SOLC–Day 19
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

The kids scramble into the room creating the typical hubbub of morning energy with jostling elbows and bumping backpacks. Greetings and bits and pieces of stories fill the air. I start scanning to see who is there. Who is absent today.

My colleague walks into the room.
“Um, just to let you know.” She gives me a sympathetic glance. “A couple of my students just told me that Arnie is down by the swamp*. Again.”

Ugh. I bite back the words that I want to respond with, and grit my teeth smile. “Ok, thanks.”

Since my classroom is out in a modular, my students have to walk down a path, out of sight of the bus greeters, every morning. Arnie, again and again, has been unable to resist the call of the wild on this journey. It is sadly not unusual for other students to report to me or to other teachers that Arnie is rolling down a snow covered hill. Or has handed someone his backpack to carry in while he’s climbing over the railing. Or whatever.

Now to those of you people who say “Oh, how cute! What a free spirit! He’s investigating nature. Showing his curiosity,” I say “BAH HUMBUG!” Loudly. Defiantly.

I have no desire, no remaining energy, to approach this situation with a lens of curiosity. Or engage in more collaborative problem solving. Or use the power of my words: “I’ve noticed…” or “What might help you…?”

I am 100% over it.

So, after the rest of the kids come in, I go outside and extract Arnie from the swamp with some well-chosen carrying redirecting words. Clearly my reminders and our ongoing conversations about following school rules, safety concerns and initiating work in a timely manner haven’t gotten through to Arnie.

It’s time to call in the big guns: Kelli R., Assistant Principal.

Once kids are settled and working, I pick up the phone, dial, then pull the cord around the door to step outside the classroom. Even though the door is mostly closed, there’s a well placed window in the door, so I can see what’s going on in the room.

The phone rings.

Kelli picks up.

“Hi, Kelli, ” I begin, “I’m wondering if you could talk to Arnie for me.”

In the room, Arnie looks up. The kids seem restless. I step a little further away from the door, lower my voice and continue, explaining the situation to her. As our conversation ends, Kelli agrees that she’ll speak to Arnie and says she has time right now.

I walk back in the room, hang up and cross toward Arnie, preparing to send him off.

“Mrs. Hogan,” several kids chime in. “Your mic was on the whole time.”

I stop in my tracks.

What!?

“Yeah, who’s Kelli?”

Frozen, I quickly retrace the conversation in my head, trying to figure out what they’d overheard.

You need to know that we have a classroom audio system that sends our voice into all corners of the room. So, if I’m writing something on the board and still talking, kids can hear me easily. Also, kids in the back of the room can always hear as well as kids in the front. It’s a great system.

Until it isn’t.

In this instance, while I had been careful to step out of the room and lower my voice, I had neglected to turn off the microphone around my neck. Luckily, I’m pretty sure I kept it professional. I mean, I was talking to the Assistant Principal

So, after quietly apologizing to Arnie for broadcasting his situation through the classroom (he really didn’t seem to care and I’m not even positive he realized he’d been the topic under discussion), I then told him where he was going and why.

“But, they told me to do it!” he exclaimed.

“Well, that’s a really good thing to discuss with Mrs. R.,” I said, while handing him a door pass to get into the building.

Yup. Over it.

*The swamp in question isn’t a full-fledged swamp, it’s more of a cattail-filled retaining pool for draining water and, evidently, for attracting wayward ten-year-olds.

SOLC Day 18: Just a Memory

March 2022 SOLC–Day 18
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

I’ve never been a big one for “fancy” dress. I don’t even recall playing dress-up as a child. Certainly, I admired Cinderella’s ball gown, but I don’t think I ever spent much time envisioning my own. Fashion has never been my thing.

In one of my earliest memories, though, I’m drawing a princess with my neighbor. We’re at her house, I think, though that’s more a feeling than a certainty. I do remember clenching the crayon in my fist, slowly drawing the triangle dress, the circle for the head. Then, after a short pause, I regripping and drawing the definitive triangle to sit firmly on my princess’s head. That simple symbol made a declaration. This was no mere girl. This was a princess!

Now I wonder– when did royalty wear such head gear? Did they ever? How did I even know about it? Had my neighbor friend, older than I and wiser in the ways of the world, taught me?

I suspect even then I knew that my drawing talents weren’t sufficient without some heavy-handed clues to guide the viewer. Those triangles were so simple. So satisfying. A neat little princess label. Nothing fancy. But it worked.