Monday, December 23, 2013

The rundown of an academic calendar is always a sight to behold. Students are exhausted, Professors are exhausted and both want to be done with each other - at least temporarily - yet there is always one more assignment, one more narrative to complete.

Without fail, my colleagues and I ask ourselves "Why do we require this assignment?" when faced with stacks of grading, of reading and responding to portfolio's, of editing and revision.

I've staggered over the finish line of this term, particularly exhausted, having felt all term as if I am three steps behind myself. My organization has been mediocre, at best, and I have struggled in finding my groove in any of my classes.

Last week was the end of exams. I pulled the exam times on Saturday (!) and at 7:45 a.m. on Tuesday.
Terrance was heading to NYC for his week of meetings and this left me with surly teen, crazed feline and very baleful rabbits.

After dropping Terrance off at the airport at 9:30a.m. on Monday, I drove home and hopped into the shower. After performing my ablutions, I stepped out to find the phones of the house blowing up. Texts! Ringing! Beeping!

I grab my phone to find 4 texts from Terrance. I'd been in the shower for 12 minutes. He was frantic:

"Where are you?"
"I've left my computer!"
"My plane boards in 15 minutes"
"Where are you!!!!"

I begin throwing clothes back onto my moist self. I text: "I'm on my way. I was in the shower."

I get dressed and out of the house in under 2 minutes with his computer and charger in hand. I hand it off to Terrance and race back home. Did I mention it is 8 degrees outside?

Later that day, I get the mail and find in it a letter that agitates me mightily.

I am upset. I get in the house where Emily is agitating for me to take her out to dinner. Um, No. You'll eat these hamburgers that you need to watch. It is the simplest of cooking tasks - Watch this and make sure they don't burn.

I go upstairs to call Terrance because I am losing my shit.  Just as the call connects us, the fire alarm goes off.

We don't have a normal fire alarm in this house. We have one that yells in an annoying humanesque female voice "FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!" while blaring an incredibly annoying siren.  They go off in a zone formation meaning that they only get louder.

Terrance is yelling on the phone, Emily is screaming downstairs and I am trying to coordinate both of the humans to whom I am legally bound to both calm them down AND get the fvcking siren to turn OFF.

I finally hang up the phone and wave enough towels in the direction of the fire alarms to silence them. Rabbits are now thumping loudly, angered by the noise. Emily is eating her hamburgers and I walk back into the bedroom to calm the rabbits and look something up on the internet.

It was at this moment that Emily barrels up the stairs shrieking "SOMETHING IS HITTING THE BACK DOOR, SOMETHING BIG, AND IT IS FREAKING ME OUT!"

I look, incredulously, at the flapping child before me. At 15, she is almost as tall as me. The idea that some thump has sent her screaming in my direction is unbelievable. I yell, unkindly, that she needs to get some god d@mn ovarian fortitude and get down there and figure it OUT.

She continues to flap and scream. I go down ( she is my shadow behind me) and walk toward the sliding glass door when the THUMP happens. Emily shrieks "THATS THE NOISE!!"

I walk over and grab the blinds and pull them back to find the cat. The never been outdoors before cat who is now Throwing himself, repeatedly at the glass. He is in 3 inches of snow. He looks terrified.  THUMP! He hits again while I scrabble to get the security stick out of place and get the door open.

He tumbles inside looking traumatized. I realize he must have snuck out behind me when I walked over to the mailboxes to get the mail.

When everyone is finally in bed and Micha, the cat, is now attached to the hip of every human he sees I ponder my "No drinking during the week" stance.

Considering I have an exam to give at 7:45 the following morning, I mentally tick on off in the "Owe you one" column and try to go to sleep.

The Dawn Show

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Every little thing

Monday, November 18, 2013

On Friday the 8th, I was walking to the third TedX rehearsal when I finally picked up my voicemail.

Now, I am lousy with phones. I don't love them and will ignore mine for ages. I don't stare at it with intention nor play games on it. It is a phone. It lives in my purse.

The whole week had been a clusterfvck. On Monday, instead of taking my antidepressant in the morning I took my sleeping pill.  This found me falling asleep at my desk minutes before I was supposed to be in class. I clumsily made apologies in a pitiful, spacey way and absconded back to my bed to sleep for six hours.

On Thursday, I had my yearly physical including mammogram. I got flu shots, blood drawn, and every orifice examined.

It was a long day. On Tuesday's and Thursday's I teach until 6 p.m. With the night coming earlier, it can feel as if I'd been awake for a million years by the time I get home and prep for the following day.

Friday was faculty meeting day and rehearsal 3 of 4.

The phone rang during the faculty meeting. I apologized, startled at the unexpected disruption. I forgot about the call entirely until I was walking across campus to the building in which the rehearsal was being held.

I retrieved my voicemail. It was the hospital calling because they'd seen something on the mammogram and wanted me back in to do a second scan.

It was a strange sensation. I simultaneously felt a wave of panic and fear, coupled with my rational brain shhh'ing the fear.  I knew the stats about callbacks for mammograms. I don't have a familial history of breast cancer.  I'd never had nightmares about having cancer. Of all my fears - and they are many - this was not one that had rented space in my brain.

My breasts and I have had a 30 year love affair. They have always been a part of my body that I have adored. I've never wished them smaller or larger. I fed a human from them for close onto two years.  I have shared them with lovers. They have never been my enemy.

The fleeting idea that my body had betrayed me was the panic. I live so frequently in my brain that the realization that body has much say in most day to day functions can startle me. This is silly, I know, and I work at staying connected and in balance.

Yet, the niggling small voice remained. The voice of "Ah. You knew it would happen eventually. You just didn't expect this" curled around my brainstem.

As in all of life, I find that my instinct to shield Emily from my internal tumult snaps me out of my hazy monologue. She must sense no disturbance, at least not prematurely. There is no place for that worry in her life and my role - as her adult anchor - is to clear all of that shit from her shores. Being 15 is more than enough on her plate, thank you very much Life.

I stand outside of the building on campus and make the call. I am given an appt. for the first thing on Tuesday. I fight the screamy voice in my head that wants to shriek "GET IT OUT OF ME! WHAT EVER YOU SAW, GET IT OUT."

I tell Terrance, who is a hypochondriac on the very best of days. Now I manage his panic and fear while maintaining my umbrella over Emily.

Yet and Still, there is a Ted event to get through Tuesday evening. There are rehearsals and I am not yet pleased with my story. I do what I always do. I focus, with laser intensity, and push the callback from my brain. "Not yet", I whisper to it, "Not yet."

On Tuesday morning, they show me the scans where the solid looking lump is circled in several scans.

"Oh", I murmur. "I can see why you wanted me to come back. I would have been concerned about that too."

The radiology tech is a truly lovely woman. She explains that she is going to try to flatten the hell out of the spot and see if she can't get the lump to disappear in the new scans. If she can't, then I go to ultrasound.

We work as a team. I hold still and tolerate as much as I can while the machine makes my ample bosom as thin as possible.  For all my internal fears and blockades, physical pain is something that I can bear like a workhorse.  I stay silent, smiling, and tell the tech to do whatever she needs to do to get good pictures.

Your mind goes to odd places in moments like this. I command any lump to flatten. Not for me, but for Emily. It's too soon for her to lose a mother. She needs my base for a couple more years before she will be ready to fly off on her own.

I don't fear death, but I will not abandon my child. Abandonment is my fear. The breasts that fed her will not take me from her. I will not allow it.

The kind tech smiles at me. "I don't see anything, Dawn. I think it was tissue that we flattened out, but I am going to have the doctor look too. He may want more pictures or the ultrasound, but let me go and speak with him."

When the doctor gives me the "all clear", I dress and head back out to the waiting room where men flutter like fall leaves, aimless and uncertain.

Later that night, after my Ted talk, I tell Emily what has happened. I reassure her that I am perfectly fine and she has nothing to fear. Her brow wrinkles as her comprehension touches on the edge of the void which I have concealed from her.

I kiss her forehead. 


Tuesday, November 05, 2013

It must be the time of year.

The wind.

The early twilight.

I see three years ago peeping at me from corners and turn on more lights to drive the shadows from my space.

I read my old Constantine comics, reveling in glorious pointlessness until something looms up and smacks me back to earth.

I am robbed of pleasure while I move to keep one step ahead of my ghosts.

That is my primary task these days, staying one step ahead of the memories waiting to pull me back to them.

I want to ask my therapist "When will I stop being haunted?" but I am sure she would think me crazier then we both know I am.

I consider building a bonfire and throwing scraps of reminiscence into the flames.  I will chant secret words and rebuild walls of protection.

The winter will be long and I have no extra anima to spare.

Whorish Ravens redux

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Whorish Ravens is up again.

For your viewing pleasure.

Halloween Horror

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Circa October 2007 from Gimlet Eye

I must be honest, I occasionally love the questions of the week here at ClubMom. They give me something to chew on...something to think about in relation to my own child, my own family.

This is this weeks question:

What is a great Halloween idea you want to share with other moms?

Well. To understand my answer, you must understand something about my kid.

Masks terrify her. Moving things ( like automated statues) scare the holy bejesus out of her. Anything that moves suddenly or unexpectedly can send her into a shrieking puddle of child who is scaling up my leg in order to get to the top of my head.

We finally talked her into the "Rainforest Cafe"...last year, and even then, we requested a spot where she could observe from a safe distance. Those toys that talk when you walk by them? Emily RUNS down toy aisles to get away from them. Tickle me Elmo wasn't so cute to my kid. To her, he represented an obvious threat to her well being and should be avoided at all costs.

So, Halloween? It's a hard celebration for her.  In New Hampshire, we would walk by each house and Emily would observe it for several minutes before deciding whether or not to approach the door. Anything too overtly scary, houses with sound effects, or other "fake people" on porches are resolutely passed over. For her, it is not the amount of candy she gets, but the "approachability" factor.

Last year, she consented to go to one house which had passed the initial "roadside scan". I walked up with her and stood to the side as she knocked and sweetly sang, "Trick or Treat!" The resident offered her the bowl from which to choose her candy. She reached out to choose......and the bowl apparently had some kind of hand which popped out of the bowl when it sensed movement.

My kid leaped back about 20 feet, scrambling backward in an attempt to get off the porch and over to me. I glared at the homeowner. Did he not realize how hard I have worked to get her to even walk up onto porches by herself? And now, he springs the "Scary hand popping out of the candy bowl"  bullshit on her?  Dear Lord, dude.  You just set me back two years.

The homeowner was puzzled. I am sure that 99% of kids laughed and thought that this was funny, and scary. Here was now before him a Little Kim Possible, sobbing on her mothers leg. He held out the candy to me... "Take some for her. I'm really sorry." He was lucky I didn't punch him in the face.

Now, I know some families go all out for Halloween. They love the play between the real and unreal. The pageantry of dressing up and being scared, while knowing that you are safe.

But for my kid? Don't leap out at her. Don't offer her candy in bowls that grab her hand. Don't wear a scary mask to the door. Whatever makes up her hard wiring has made her really sensitive to these things. Call it a Jungian collective unconscious issue, a sensory integration issue, or my weird parenting. 

So my advice/idea? Know that what is fun for one child is not fun for another. The line between fun and scary can be painfully close for younger children. That just because YOU know it isn't real, doesn't mean that the child will see it that was as well.

Oh, and here is a tidbit of extra from my years of working in Early Childhood. Keep a second bowl of candy (not mixed with the other stuff that you want to eat...Like the Reese's peanut butter cups...not that I know anything about this) that is nut free. This way you can ask if kids have allergies when they come to the door. Parents will appreciate the effort, and the kids will allergies won't have to throw away all of their candy.

Beans and Applesauce

Thursday, October 03, 2013

When Emily was small and would pester me about what was for dinner, I would eventually tell her "Beans and Applesauce" to get her to stop asking for her preferred meal choices

So, this happened

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I've been invited to be a TEDx speaker on November 12th.

Yep, the Dawn show live and in person.

No word yet on the shoes that will be worn, although I promise they will be stunning.

Ill Gotten Goods

Sunday, September 08, 2013

I can't say that being spoken to by the police was shocking, or even unexpected.

In the construct of my inner picture of myself, I am perpetually edgy. Just this side of the law. I speak out, speak up and try to match my actions with my words.

This is how I found myself talking to a city policeman at 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.

I teach Creative Experiences for Young Children and while we do traditional "Art, Music, Movement and Drama", I've also infused the course with the aesthetics and sensibility of Reggio Emilia. This started last winter when I began to transform my teaching lab into my space, or at least a space which reflected my values for children and students. I wanted a lab where they could see what I spoke about, where they would feel inspired and provoked to wonder about the importance of environment as the third teacher.

We do our best work when we are comfortable. We do our best work when we see beautiful things thoughtfully arranged. We do our best work when we are given time to think in-between exploration, letting the connections knit themselves together inside our brains.

It is these things that I teach in Creative Experiences, asking students to shake off the socialization of their classrooms and come as willing participants to this dangerous world of trusting the learner.

I needed some things for the classroom. Nothing you can buy from a catalog, for that was not part of the discussion. I needed things - early fallen leaves, last blooms of the Rosa Rugosa bushes with the rosehip berries to dissect on a mirror. I found tiny feathers under pine trees with half eaten nuts to one side. I gathered different types of pine branches and curious sticks to add to the building area.

I spotted some ornamental grass at the building across from mine and decided to wander over to take some clippings. It was waving, golden and overripe, in the hot afternoon sun. We would not have many  more of these hot late summer days. The late hatching cicadas were buzzing. I walked over to the grass and snipped a handful - no more than ten - and placed them in my bag. I wandered over to an elm tree and collected some time elm leaves that had begun to turn brown.

I walked over to the ornamental grass which was the reason I'd come over to this building in the first place, and selected seven or eight of the seed laden stems. I cut each one thinking about how I planned to arrange them in a vase. I was going to talk about taking advantage of the resources around you. You didn't need fake silk flowers when you had these gorgeous grasses at hand!

I was leaning over to snip rosehips when I saw the police vehicle. I knew he was coming for me and , as such, I didn't change my rhythm at all. I leaned over, smiling, and snipped a fragrant bloom. These were not hybrid cultivated roses but rather the tough old super fragrant varieties that still produced seeds in the rose hips and smell divine.

The police car drove up onto the sidewalk, pulling as close as he could get to me. He began to lean over into the passenger seat and chide me, but I continued to smile and snip the rosehips. Clearly, I was crazy.

He gets out of the vehicle and with a bluster present in most authority figures said:

 "Um, Hey. You can't be cutting things here. Cause if you do it, then everybody will do it and then there will be nothing!"

I smile at him. I am in a sundress, my magnificent cleavage discretely on display. My hair is down and in ringlets due to the heat and humidity. I pause an extra beat and say:

"I'm a Professor here."

Friends, you could have knocked this man down with the ornamental grass I was holding. He was beyond befuddled and stammered, shifting his feet. I pointed to my building:

"My office is right there."

He attempts to recover but the hammer has dropped. He doesn't know exactly how to reprimand me, but feels he should somehow. After all, someone has called the City police on me - not the campus, but the City police.

"Um, what do you teach? Do you have ID?"

I explain that my ID is in my office, but the Admin Asst. knows I am out here. If he'd like to walk over, I can get my ID. He shakes his head no.

I then tell him what I teach, taking small pleasure in realizing that he has no idea about which I speak - my fluid explanation of Reggio and the aesthetics of space. This gives him time to bring out his tiny notebook and ask me for my information.

He writes some things down. I continue to hold the ornamental grass in my hand. He asks what I plan to do with my illegally obtained flora. I try to add on to the explanation, but we both know he is just trying to save face here.

I consider turning to the surrounding buildings and waving with bemused smile at whomever surely has called him to question me.

He knows not what to do. "Um, well, I'm not going to make you dump your things out but um, you should call the grounds people and tell them you are out here next time."

I smile at him some more. We both know that there is no way in hell I am doing that.

He wishes me a good day and I walk towards my office, pointedly stopping to clip a few more things before I get to the door.

I stand next to my building. The Asst. Dean of the school walks out and I greet her. I am staring at an ornamental bush which I consider thoughtfully. I say: "Have you come out to talk to me?"

She laughs: "Nah - just don't climb the building" and walks off towards the administrative building.

Rabble Rouser

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Stay tuned for a story about my narrow escape from the law.


Friday, August 09, 2013

Most mornings I wake with feathers in my hair.

When it began at the beginning of the summer, I found it disconcerting. Where were these feathers coming from? Why was I waking every morning with feathers tangled in my curls?

I checked the duvet. No holes. I looked at the pillows. No obvious rifts.

As I vacuumed under the bed, there were more feathers.

The answer becomes clear.

I am a shape shifter.

Once I am asleep, I become some kind of bird. An owl, I hope. I glide into the summer night and perch along the Mississippi river. I watch the river. I listen to the squeaking of the mice. I turn my head slowly, taking in the whole of the landscape. My talons grip the wood of the tree.

When the other birds wake, I fly back to my house. I must be there when the sun rises, to glide back into my human body. The only trace of my alter ego is the feathers that I leave behind.

I should be glad, I suppose, that we do not live closer to the sea for I would surely put my seal skin on and never be seen again.

Ding an sich

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I've been a bad blogger and I would apologize if I felt more guilt...but I don't. I'm too busy; teaching a summer class, trying to reorganize my syllabi, hooking a rug and keeping up with the vegetables from the CSA.  Did I mention the cleaning? Six months worth of cleaning and unpacking things still in storage boxes from our move last year.

I have some stories, but they aren't ready to be told. I have to wait until they are ready, but they rattle around...I promise.

Emily is off to camp again - 2 weeks away, two days home, 2 weeks away again. This allowed me to purge the unholy entity that had become her room. This photo doesn't even represent the room at it's worst - This was day TWO into cleaning - Quelle Horreur:

My first year of professoring has been pretty great. My student evals were nearly perfect; unheard of for a first year faculty. I like my colleagues and I see great growth potential here. I am encouraged and allowed to be Dawn - with all her Dawn-ness. This is a tremendous gift and one I do not take lightly. 

Emily has had a good year, making friends and settling in nicely. She is exotic and worldly in our new home. She looks forward through high school and tells me she wants to study history in university someday. Seeing as I had a full on anxiety attack when she was five and first received the brain damage and ADHD diagnosis, envisioning her living in my basement until she was 40 as I had clearly ruined her life - these words from my child bring hope and a tiny easement of guilt. 

In June, she asked if she could try medication for her ADHD again. She'd been on medication when she was 6 through age 7 when Terrance made the executive decision to take her off of them. At 15, she was asking for the opportunity to try them again. Terrance objected, then said maybe, then objected again. 

While I understand his concern, I also know that 15 year olds with ADHD will turn to other things to self medicate. I didn't want that for her. If she was asking, I felt like we needed to support her. We needed to allow her to say if it helped or not, to be in charge of her own feedback system. We started out slow at the end of the school year, a low stakes time to try a medication. This allows us the summer for her to fully understand what being on the medication did and what it didn't do. It doesn't, for instance, suddenly make her a math whiz. It does slow down her speech and help her organizational skills.

Adderall, for those of you not in the know, is a highly controlled medication. As in they practically frisk you and do a retina scan when you get the script. You get your 30 day supply and you don't refill until Day 29. You hand carry original scripts on special paper to the pharmacy. There is no "calling in a refill" to the pharmacy.  I half expect to be robbed by tweekers everytime we pick this shit up.

In my uber-parent camp planning glory, I had secured authentic refill scripts in late June. I knew that the refills would fall right between her camp days and I had believed I was good to go. We'd pick Emily up on Friday afternoon, refill her meds on Saturday and she'd be off to camp 2 on Sunday at 9 a.m.  My shit was tight. 

This found me, at noon last Saturday, standing in my pharmacy waiting for her refill. Except, it wasn't ready. Because they weren't allowed to refill it until July 22nd. A full day after she traveled 5 hours north. The pharmacist was apologetic. They weren't allowed to refill early unless a doctor authorized it. However, it was Saturday and there were no doctors in the office. I sighed, deeply. Surely there must be a way to make this work. 

The pharmacist explains that there is a nurse advisor who can perhaps get the doctor on call to authorize the day early refill. I sigh again. I mentally put on my armor and call the nurse advisor.

Now, I've been around medical people for a long time. I know what they are going to ask and how to explain exactly what you need. This nurse advisor was not following the script. First, she told me it was impossible. The doctor on call wasn't going to call in the refill. Then she asked if there was any way I could wait and get the refill on Monday. 

No. I couldn't. Emily would be 5 hours away. 

Could I send the script with Emily and have someone fill it where she was going to be?

Um, Hell No. I wasn't sending an Adderall script with my child and charging a camp counselor with wandering to a pharmacy and picking up a refill. 

Could she just not take her medication? Kids didn't need it in the summer, after all.

And here, my friends, is where the Kracken was unleashed. Get's coming.

No, I patiently responded. Emily takes her medication every day. She really does not want to go without it, particularly as she is going to be riding horses for 2 weeks.

to which the nurse replied:

"Well, she could just drink a mountain dew and eat a cookie."

~ Can you smell the brimstone? The sulphur? The sound of my leathery demon wings unfurling? My eyes narrow to reptilian slits as the gates of hell open  ~

I pause for a half a second then say: "What did you just say?"

My tone was all it took for Emily to look up at me. The pharmacist, who had been standing at the counter, grew wide eyed and looked at Emily who just shook her head. 

"Did you just suggest that instead of taking her medication, my child should drink a mountain dew and eat a cookie?"

The nurse repeated herself. I exhaled and said "That was incredibly inappropriate. We are talking about the matter of a refill ONE DAY early. Her doctor has already given us the scripts, which are on file. I'm not asking for something she isn't taking and your suggestion that I tell her camp to treat a neurochemical medical condition with soda and a cookie is beyond inappropriate."

The pharmacist is just staring at me from behind her counter. I no longer see Emily and have no perception of the people around me. My crosshairs are firmly fixed and I am moving in for the kill.

The doctor on call approved the early refill within ten minutes. 

As the pharmacist-supervisor handed me the bottle he leaned it and said: "Did she tell you to treat ADHD with mountain dew and a cookie?"

I exhaled hard through my nose, pushing my demon bullish breath out of my body. "Yeah", I said. My nostrils flare, slightly.

He shakes his head and chuckles softly, handing me the bottle of pills. 

A letter to Paul from Sarah

Thursday, July 04, 2013

My dear Paul.

Yes, I see you a few rows over there with a fancy grave marker. People dressed in the attire of our "day" wander in and out of this graveyard all day, pointing you out. Some people leave you flowers. Nearly all of them point small devices at your grave, stopping for a few extra moments.

And where am I? Your beloved wife. Woman who bore you 8 children? Yes, count them. 8.
Nearly four rows over...buried next to your father. Who, forgive me for saying so, is a miserable grave companion.

On this day of days Paul, let me remind you of just who did the work of revolution in this fair city. Was it you and your friends? Oh, perhaps as recorded in the poems and histories of the events. But we both know who it was. The wives. The wives who spun and sewed the clothing. The wives who cooked and served meals and drink for children, friends and co-conspirators until late into the night. While your friend Sam Adams gets a huge statue down the road, we know who the real brewers were, right? Women.

We gardened, we harvested, we preserved and slaughtered the animals. We made soap, washed, quilted, stuffed beds with straw. When you came home at all hours of the night, I made sure you had food to eat, and a warm home in which to enter. I nursed and cared for 8 babies...until I died not long after our youngest was born.

Who stitched wounds, bandaged cuts, and wrapped the dead after the massacre and battles? Women. Who brewed that tea that you all eventually went crazy over for being too expensive? Who then served it to you in the silver mugs that you crafted? Yes. Me and the other wives.

Paul,my love, I am not saying that you and the other "founding patriots" of the day don't deserve recognition for your commitment to an idea that a society could be different. I am merely suggesting that the visitors to this grave yard do as Abigail Adams later exhorted her husband John - to "remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors."

Yes Paul. I watch you from over here. I watch the stream of people wander by you, struck silent by you - the midnight rider ( by the by, I thought that poem was pure hilarity - I know I was dead when it all occurred, and I felt for your second wife, Rachel...You galloping off into the night, with ten children at home. The poor woman was sure that you would be hanged before the sun came up.)

This woman stops at my grave. She peers at the name engraved on the stone. She brushes mud off the letters, as the damp spring ground sucks at her boots. She walks back over the sign near your grave and reads. She comes back, kneels close and points one of those devices at my stone. She stays awhile. She leans close, and in that terrible accent the people here have acquired, she whispers "Thank you, Sarah".

Yes Paul. She thanked me. She thanked me for weaving the fabric of the country with my body and my work. She thanked me for feeding and cooking and bearing new citizens. She whispered that it is not an act of heroics, or lofty speeches that make a patriot, but the unending toil that is life.

Indeed, Paul. That is what patriotism is - it is stoicism in the face of endless work. It is doing what is needed, not for acclaim, but because without that labor, life as we know it would halt. It is seeing your giant grave over there, and living with the knowledge that without me, without all of the wives, the American Revolution would have gone nowhere.

Happy Independence Day Paul Revere.

Your Consort,


Sunday, June 09, 2013

But I must.

You must not look back.

You told me this as you walked away. I must not look back.

How was it ever so easy for you to abandon everything we built?

Do not look back, you said.

I hesitate. Images of promises, of comfort built by love between us, by stolen moments giggling in bed while the street cleaner moves past the open window.....

I consider what my life will be if I leave as you demand.

You told me once that you could close your mind, walk away and cast out those with whom you are done. I never believed that would include me. Yet, this is what your dictate means.

Leave. Do not look back. You will be punished if you look back. 

Punishment. What more could there be? You are asking me, a person who trusts so rarely to turn my back on the trust I gave to you. To leave. To walk away from everything, as if nothing mattered, as if none of the words were real.

It is over. Walk away. Do not look back. For your own sake, don't look back.

I walk on. I shield my eyes, placing my hands up to cover them. A physical reminder to not. look. back.   It becomes a mantra: Do not look back, do not look back, there is nothing there for you, do not look back.

Yet...we both know I must. It is  my nature.

My feet stop. I pivot on my right heel and turn my body first, my body in slow motion as my eyes finally behold the destruction. The disintegration of everything. The ruin I sensed, but could not see. The undoing that I had to witness to understand.

I am frozen. I do not mind the wind as it disassembles me, carrying bits of my flesh to parts unknown. My dismantling brings relief as I untangle from the confusion of promises I never expected to be broken. A rabbit licks my ankle, attracted to the salty taste.

You said to not look back. We both know that I couldn't do that.


Monday, June 03, 2013

Further proof that I was born in the wrong era.

I would have made a most excellent courtesan.


Monday, May 27, 2013

I have been on an inquisition for a new perfume.

I am a funny creature,  for smells and what people smell like are intimately important to me.  I imprint to smell.

My own perfume choices are carefully considered. I have had phases through my life in which I use perfume to become something or someone.  I know, instantly, if a scent is not going to work for me. I lean in towards people and try to smell them without seeming creepy or cannibalistic.

One of the ways Terrance snared me was his exquisite scent the night we meet. Not overwhelming like most of the boys in 1990, smelling of Polo or Drakkar...but close, sophisticated. Something different. He smelled.....right.

This choosing is taking time. I have to sample a number of scents before I can decide. I have to consider what season I will be wearing them, and what they remind me of when they linger on my skin.

I try a new fragrance and ask Terrance to smell them. He hates this. He refuses to place his nose to my proffered forearm. Emily, however, is always willing to engage in this exercise with me. She, too, is a creature for whom smells are part of how we engage with the world. In fact she still, daily, wraps her arms around me and inhales my scent. I am mother to her. I am strength and security and unconditional love.  Whatever my faults and misgivings, I am her olfactory rock of Gibraltar.

My decants arrive and I place them in the bathroom to be sampled. I choose one each day and test it on my skin. Some fade quickly, others spark something in my memory causing me to reject them. This happens with jasmine heavy fragrances  I don't care for those, although I can't tell you exactly why. I find them cloying and overpowering.

Some require second and third wearings before I can get a sense of who these perfumes are and of what they speak. Lutens Filles des Berlin is one of these. I like it, but do I want to commit to it? Do I want this scent to wrap it's tendrils around a specific part of my being?

Some are instantly obvious. Commes des Garcons Red Carnation intertwined itself around me from the moment I opened the decant. I walked into the hallway and Emily said "THAT IS AWESOME!" She recognized it as a smell that belonged on me immediately. Peppery, with bright carnation overlayed with a musky rose and cloves...Oh, the cloves.

Others, like Creed's White Flowers or Spring Flowers are lovely but are too delicate for me. I am not delicate. I have never been, nor will ever be delicate.

With others I have high hopes that are never realized after wearing the scent for the day. Lutens  Daim Blonde, Tubereuse Criminelle, Vitriol D'Oeillet and  A La Nuit all get the "meh, not for me" and are relegated to the sample box.

Others, like Lutens Silver Iris Mist make me stop and wonder. What is this on my skin? Why do I like this despite not knowing how I feel about it?

I wanted to love Etat Libre d'Orange's Putain des Palaces. I mean the name alone made me want to love this scent. Alas. It did not wear well on me and gave me a headache. Like this, Tilda Swinton however gave me the same sense of not knowing how I felt about it. I ordered a larger sample so as to wear it in a variety of settings, getting a sense for how the scent lives on my skin.

I am like a feral child, sniffing and circling on the scents I like. Discarding some, moving others to a second wearing I keep circling back, sniffing, snuffling, inhaling all the smells.  I exhale, hard, through my nose - clearing it of memories.

In my continual becoming, I seek that which belongs to me while not yet knowing.

Happy Fluevog Day!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It's true.

I still have fabulous fvcking ankles.

43, bitches!!

My Closet

Saturday, May 11, 2013

It is the end of the academic semester and I have survived a full year as a Professor. I have also very recently had a birthday, turning 43 years of age.

In the final weeks of school with the stresses of teaching, getting students ready for their presentations, grading papers, seeing student teachers and meeting with their cooperative teachers some things have been placed waaaaayyyyy to the side.

One of those things? My closet.

By Friday it was so bad that I took what I needed and fled, slamming the door behind me in an effort to unsee the horror that had manifested.

I fell to sleep last night at 8:30 p.m., sleeping through until 11:00 a.m.. As Terrance asked me what my plans for today included I said:

"Clean the rabbit litter. Straighten my bathroom. Put away the massive stack of clean clothes and all the things on the floor. Maybe grade some things. But not the closet. The closet is too much for me to bear, at the moment."

As I worked through my Saturday list, the closet began to make its presence known. It was going to be impossible to put away the clothes and clean up the shoes on the floor unless I entered the closet. I had 12 pairs of shoes that needed to be put... inside the closet. There were skirts and shirts and dresses that all the closet.

Damn it. I was going to have to address the closet.

See that pile on the floor? Um, Yeah. That is a pile of shoes.
A giant pile of shoes.
Also, some hats that have fallen, a multitude of discarded scarves and some bags that held summer clothes that I raided when we had a two warm days last week.

See the shoes? I should feel shame, but I can't. Aren't they lovely? Even all jumbled up in that hot mess?

Left side of closet is dresses. Right is skirts and blouses.
As is clear, the system has gone to hell. Shirts are mixing in with dresses, sweaters are flung all about and next years Christmas cards have been haphazardly shoved in a sweater space.

My careful attention to shoe boxes is no longer in evidence.
Things have reached crisis stage.

About an hour later, we have some movement. Most of the shoes have been returned ( lovingly) to their appropriate boxes.
I am crooning soft songs, promising to never treat them that way again.

"Shhh, shoes. Mama will never treat you like that again...until next end of semester."

Coco comes in to investigate. She approves of my progress.
I move to quickly pick up the purses she will begin to chew.

After nearly four solid hours, Order is restored.

Hats are back on the wall where they belong. Shoes have been returned ( except for the brown crocodile ones that are in the car) and all garments have been re-organized with their peers.

I step back and gaze over my kingdom. I turn to Emily and say: "Your mother has a hell of a lot of clothes. And Hats. And Purses."

Emily looks up from her Kindle, nods and returns to her reading.

"The thing about that squirrel is..."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I had a meeting at the coffee shop across from the University this week to discuss a collaboration on a grant.

I arrived early, so I was marking some papers while sipping my cup of coffee.

The other other people in the coffee shop were four elderly gentlemen. They could not have been younger than 75. They were having their coffee and conversation.

I settled in to read papers, the final leg of the journey of marking the research papers of my largest class.

The oldest gentleman was talking the loudest, but it was soothing talk. They were discussing what birds they had seen at their feeders when Elder says this:

"The thing about that squirrel is....(he pauses). He had a really fat ass!"

Now, I burst out in full laugh. I mean, truly. I couldn't hold it in.

I've not encountered swearing in the artful way to which I had grown accustomed. I, it shocks none of you, am a potty mouth. I swear constantly. A lively and descriptive swear can really bring a thought home.

People here in Wisconsin? Not so much with the swearing.

I look up, laughing. The elderly man see me and begins to apologize. I tell him that it is not a worry, it wasn't the swear but the noun that surprised me.  A fat assed squirrel.

They gentlemen quiet down for a moment. I return to marking. The gentleman begin to rustle as they gather their coats.

It was at this moment, just as the Eldest was getting up to leave that he makes the most extraordinary statement I have yet to hear in La Crosse Wisconsin:

"I'll tell you what...I was over at that Java Vino the other night and there was more puss than you could shake a stick at! I mean every woman in La Crosse was in that place drinking wine with her girlfriends! Wall to wall women!"

And with that, he bid his comrades adieu.

It was all I could do to keep from hugging him as he left while expressing my adoration of his salty language.

Fat assed squirrels. And Puss. They make the rockin' world go round.

Kegel Ninja

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Emily: What is up with those commercials?

Me: The transvaginal mesh commercials? Yeah, they are kind of terrifying. (I am reading student papers)

Emily: Why on earth would you get something like that?

Me: My guess is that is has to do with issues once you have a baby and your pelvic floor goes to hell.

Emily: WHAT?

Me: (Putting aside papers) Well, yeah. Once you have a baby you really need to be doing your Kegels to make sure that everything stays in place...and your bladder and uterus don't need to be meshed into place.

Emily: Kegels?

Me: You know what Kegels are...right?

Emily: No, Mom. I don't.

Me: Well, they are kind of like....pushups for your vagina.

Emily: You're kidding me.....right?

Me: No. I am serious.

Emily: (laughing) How do you do them?

Me: Well - you know when you are peeing and you can squeeze  to stop your urine? That's how you do a Kegel. You don't know when other people are doing them, you just do them whenever.

Emily: Do YOU do these?

Me: Oh yeah, honey. I do them all the time. I'm doing them right now and you have no idea. There is no way I am having my bladder and vagina fall out as I am walking down the street.

Emily: This is horrifying. Stop it.

Me: What? Doing Kegels? No. I just did ten more.  You'll never know. I'll be driving you home and doing Kegels.  Pushups for my vagina!

Emily: You are scarring me for life.

Me: That's my job!

Am I doing Kegels? You'll never know......

Rabbits Disapprove of Giving Rabbits for Easter

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We are a family who has House Rabbits. 

I'll give you a moment to compose yourself as you laugh and wipe away tears. 

Yes. House Rabbits. Free Roam, litter trained, spayed and neutered House Rabbits. Kind of like Cats, with longer ears and the whole vegetarian vibe going for them.

I never planned on being a House Rabbit parent.  No sir. I was fine with La Chatte, a neighborhood cat who adopted us upon our moving into HER home. I mean, it wasn't as if we were going anywhere, and she seemed nice enough. I was however, a little shocked. People just move away and LEAVE their pets? Really!?

I later came to find that in Montreal, it is a huge problem - especially on the July 1 - Moving Day. Shelters around the city begin to be flooded with animals of all sorts whose owners decided that , Meh - just not worth the trouble to move the animal. 

Now, there is a pet store in our local Mall, which shall remain nameless. Every time we are in the mall, Emily Begs to go and see the animals. Lizards, Birds, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Rats, Ferrets...all the way up through $1200 purebred dogs. And I hate it. I hate the whole thing.  I watch children beg and plead for the cute animals...and sometimes they go home with them. 

But what happens after that?  Let me tell you what happens after that Twelve dollar baby bunny is no longer "cute" or "convenient" or "fun".

Jackson is our male gray chinchilla rabbit, with lovely long silky ears. He was most likely adopted as a baby bunny around Easter last year. He was, no doubt, very sweet and cute and fuzzy. He was also, most likely, well behaved and easy to manage.

When they found Jackson ( and another male rabbit) they figured that the two boys had been in the now empty, locked apartment for 2 weeks. They were both undernourished, but managed to stay alive. Maybe the previous owner had left the rest of the bag of pellets out for them. In fact, that is the only way I can figure they were able to not starve to death. Jackson was taken to the SPCA where he was examined, and when he was healthy enough, put up for adoption. His path and ours intersected as we were looking for a guy to bond with our female rabbit. 

We were interviewed, and gave our Exotics Vet name and number as a reference. We got a call, came back and met Jackson and agreed to foster him for a couple of months, to see if he and Coco bonded as well as free up a space in the shelter for another rabbit in Jackson's situation. His neuter was scheduled for the coming Friday and we planned to pick him up after the procedure. 

Of course, Jackson's experience with humans had not been stellar up to this point. It took him some time to relax and heal. It took longer for him to get used to eating a proper rabbit diet of mostly greens instead of pellets designed for Meat Rabbits. He did, however, fall in love with Coco ( who had been rescued after living in a dark basement in a small cage for 2 years). By October, we had gone back to the SPCA and made the fostering into an official adoption. He had a forever family.

Loki, our current Feline Family member is also an SPCA abandon. Never Neutered. Never immunized. When we adopted him he was already infected with Feline Rhino, a viral infection which stays with the cat for life if infected. His already damaged nose ( kicked in the face? His front teeth were also broken) is now forever really messed up. He can't smell most things due to the after effects of the virus.

What do all these stories have in common? Abandoned Animals. Discarded when the novelty wore off. Animals who became teenagers after being cute puppies or bunnies or kitties and their humans just couldn't be bothered.  

For we in the House Rabbit family, Easter is a terrifying time. I know that people will buy bunnies from pet stores, only to turn them "loose" by summer when their hormones kick in and they become rebellious, sexually frustrated teen Buns - like a smaller, furry motorcycle gang with the ability to rapidly reproduce.

What happens to those rabbits? Well, what would happen to you if we stripped you naked and set you in the middle of the Amazon?  A majority become dinner for larger prey. A few ( very,very few) make it until the cold, or people or cars kill them. Some go on Craigslist where some people may "adopt " them, not knowing anything about the intensive care and feeding that rabbits require, only to be given away again, or set "free". Some become food for peoples pet snakes.

So, do me a favor. Research. Consider. Think. If you choose to bring ANY pet home, are you willing and able to provide care, medical attention, nutrition, and social interaction/exercise that this Pet deserves? 

Just because a pet is small, doesn't mean it doesn't need to be seen by a Vet who is knowledgeable about their species. In the case of Coco and Jackson, they see an Exotics vet for yearly checkups and the occasional in between visit for possible ear infections/teeth/sore hocks issues.  When Coco was so ill with Bloat this winter, it was 500 bucks for a 4 day illness. When Jackson was seen a month ago for Stasis - a condition which can worsen and kill a rabbit - it was 170 dollars for a visit AND all of the medication, special food and fluids. Not to mention I had the supreme honor of having to force feed a rabbit with a syringe.

Yes, they were both spayed and neutered, and it wasn't cheap. Yes, they eat a very small amount of pellets, but the majority of their diet is fresh greens - about 8 cups a day for the two of them. And the Hay I buy in bulk from a local farm. They eat a 4 pound bag a week. Oh - and you can't just "leave them alone" when you go on vacation - Rabbits need to be boarded or otherwise cared for in your absence. More $$.

Rabbits need a minimum of 3 uncaged hours per day - more if they can, and in the case of Coco and Jackson, free roam, 24/7. Less leads to muscle issues , as well as gut immobility. They are grazers and built to be moving. Being confined in a tiny cage does not serve their body well.

Which leads me to rabbit proofing - thick plastic cables to encase the cords, small gates to keep them from the bigger things and hundreds of dollars of replaced cables when we forget.

In the words of my vet, who examined Jackson after we had adopted him and after hearing the story of how he had been found in the locked apartment:

"There is a special place in hell for assholes like that."

I sure hope so.

Don't be one of those people.

Want to research more on the care of House Rabbits?

House Rabbit Society is an excellent place to start.

A personal favorite: Binky Bunny Forum. This is my "rabbit" home and these folks have kindly taught me nearly everything I know. Jackson and Coco stories are on there, including their bonding story. I also  LOVE the store and my rabbits adore the Maze HavenTunnel and every other product!

Sacre Bleck!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

This morning Emily was discussing a post she saw on Facebook referencing Easter.

As you know, we are not a religious sort of family. Now what you may not know is that both Terrance and I were raised as Catholics. I took a detour into the Anglican church during high school, but still considered myself raised as a Catholic. Our choice to not immerse our offspring in Catholicism and religion in general was quite intentional.

Terrance: Was she talking about Good Friday?

Emily: I don't know!

Dawn: It could be she meant Good Friday...

Terrance: All I remember was that we couldn't go outside between noon and 4 because that was when
Jesus died...

Dawn: What?!? How on earth does anyone know the precise time Jesus died?  What would have happened if you had gone outside?

Terrance: Oh, and those stations!

Emily: Stations?

Dawn: Oh, yeah, the Stations of the cross. I hated those.

Terrance: Yeah, they freaked me out. I once came across an outdoor version in college. Scared the shit out of me. What were they? Reclamations?

Dawn: Acts of Reparation, Terrance. What would you be reclaiming?

Terrance: What was that time of day called? When Jesus was dying?

Dawn: The passion.

(Emily listening, horrified and amazed)

Emily: So, you had to do something?

Dawn: Yes. You have to go to each station and pray.

Terrance: Now you have to look it up. Go look it up and tell us what you find out.

(This is the price to be paid when both parents are PhD's.  Look it up! Look it up!)

Emily (Later): I looked them up....

Dawn: And?

Emily: They were horrifying. Like stop action animation.......but FAR WORSE and creepier!

Dawn: That is an excellent analogy. Hey Terrance, you could take her to services this week while she is on Spring break.

Terrance: Yeah, I suppose I could. There is Good Friday.

Dawn: And Maundy Thursday.

Emily: WHAT?!?! What is so Good about dying on a Friday? Why is that Good?

Dawn: Of course that only comes after Headache Monday.

Emily:  (silence)

Dawn: Then there is Groin Pull Tuesday

Emily: (silence with smile)

Dawn: Then comes Stomach-ache Wednesday. Jesus had a terrible week.

Emily begins to full on belly laugh.

I love my kid.

ETA: Later, we were walking to the movie theatre and Emily leans is to say:
"It sounds like Jesus had the type of week that Daddy has every week..."

That's my girl.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

I write stories in my head as I fall to sleep. I do not know if others do this, but this soothes me. Helping me make sense of the day and ordering the toys I have not put away, I add pieces and bits to the stories until I finally blink out for the evening.

It may be my need for some kind of order, some kind of understanding of why things happen or why people act and react in the manner that they do that drives this habit. Perhaps it is borne of my years of observing children, puzzling through the how and why of their actions to catch fleeting glimpses of the wonder inside their heads. Perhaps I am just a storyteller.


I do not think I am beautiful. I do not say this to elicit responses of "On NO, Dawn, you ARE", but to simply frame my understanding of myself. My attractiveness is rarely considered by me. I will dress in a manner that pleases me,  for I am attracted to a certain look, a certain feminine sureness. I like high heels. I like dresses. I like jewelry and I (finally) love makeup. Yet, I am oblivious of how I appear to others.

My appearance is never something that I consider static. I dress for a part and those parts are divided by where I am. I can be "Professional Dawn", which has morphed into "Professor Dawn".  I can be "Not at work" Dawn. Those people are not the same and don't really look the same. "Not at work" Dawn wears her quirky tshirts and funky flat shoes. She wears about the same amount of eyeshadow.

(I had a couple of nights of work time in my Creative Arts class. I arrived in my yoga pants, a Red Riding Hood wearing a wolfskin tshirt and my black sneakers with rainbow skulls. One of my students was startled. She told me she almost didn't recognize me.)

I am not married to man who makes much comment or notice of my appearance. He does not tell me I am beautiful, or attractive. I do know that he wishes, frequently, that I would tone down certain parts of myself. That's not happening any time soon, so I continue to wear patterned fishnet stockings and bright eye shadow. If a person flirts with me, I rarely understand it is happening at the moment. It is only in the reconstruction of my day before I fall to sleep that a glimmer of "ohhhhh" may take place.

I often wonder what it would be like to be with a partner who "gets" me in the way that Terrance does not. Terrance does not think I am funny, nor finds the things I find funny to be humorous. Terrance is not impressed by my outfits. Terrance thinks my newfound love of eyeshadow is ridiculous. He quietly seethes at my shoe collection. He does not like my music nor the shows that I like to watch.

My plan to choose a partner and not a friend as a spouse has exceeded my expectations.


While cleaning the bathroom, I note how much hair I seem to shed. It is quite obviously mine; long and brown. As I clean, I find more and more.  

I begin to wonder how I can lose that much hair and still remain with the ridiculously thick and unruly amount on my head. 


The rabbits are noticing spring. Jackson makes humming noises as he hops around. This usually means that he feels romantic, despite his neutered state. He has decided to reconstruct his cardboard house and spends hours ripping and shredding cardboard. 

Coco is more taciturn, preferring to figure out how to knock the barrier down and make her escape down the hall. She is showing her age a bit more, but rejoices when she makes her break. 

I hear squeaky bunny snores as I drift off, weaving the stories of my day in my head.

Acceptance II

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Yes. There was a post that was here with a similar title.

While I rarely take posts down, that one felt too close to my bone. Perhaps it is because I am getting older, or perhaps it is because that inevitable ending belongs to another person as much as it belongs to me.

Within all of my writing here I have always tried to assert that this is my version of the story. I am never blameless.

Acceptance of the way things are is a difficult concept. My nature is not to accept anything, but to push forward, onward. It is that nature which has fueled my survival.

Being in this emotional place, this in between - Not happy and not entirely unhappy - is like being on a raft in a lake of no consequence. I neither win nor lose. I simply am.

Yet there remains some small voice that emerges saying "There is more. There is different than this." It is that voice which I instinctively heed. Other times, such as now, I stifle it. The discontent it breeds does not serve me well.

I must learn to sit on my raft and be content for now. My stasis is not unhealthy to the position which benefits the majority of my family.

I must accept that.

This is what happens when you live with a teacher/geek

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Conversation #1

Terrance (on phone): Um, there is a strange charge on our house acct...

Dawn (in her office): Hmmm?

Terrance: Yeah. It is for 199.99 and is National Geographic?

Dawn: Yeah. That's me. I ordered one of those Genealogy kits for myself. You know, the one I asked for in 2007 as a birthday present? I went ahead and bought it for myself with some of my tax refund money.

Terrance: (pause) Oh. Ok.

Several Days Later

Terrance (on phone): HEY! There is a crazy charge on our acct?!?!?! It is some children's store in NYC and it is for nearly 500 dollars?!?!?

Dawn (in her office): Oh, yeah. That is me. Shit. I thought I put that on my checking card. I must have used the house card by mistake. I'll transfer the money over in a second.

Terrance: Are you sure that this is yours? Someone could have cloned my card when I was in the city last week!!! It's a place called Kaaaa-miiissshhh??

Dawn: No, it's me.  It's Kamishibai. Remember those cards I have for storytelling? The ones from Japan? I ordered the stage and some more story cards for my class. I want them to do some Japanese style storytelling.

Terrance: I don't know what you are talking about.

Dawn: Never mind. I will move the money over right now.

Terrance: It was 500 dollars!!!

Dawn: Yes. I am buying it out of my refund cheque. 

Terrance: But it was you, right?

Dawn: Yes. It was me. The money has been transferred now. 

Terrance: Because I was going to start canceling the bank cards...

Dawn: No need. Everything is fine.

Gorey Love

Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy Birthday to a person who brings me much baleful joy.

HVD 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Nothing says Valentine's Day like Bright pink lipstick.

And a upcycled cat beret.

The thing that can not be mentioned

Monday, February 04, 2013

The thing that can not be mentioned lives just outside my eye line. I can almost see it, if I turn my head quickly.

However, like all things that can not be mentioned, it flees if looked at directly.

There are times in which I realize that I have almost forgotten about the thing that can not be mentioned.

It emerges from shadows before I drift off to sleep, sidling up to my bedside and whispering to me.  I lift from my descent into sleep just long enough to recognize this old friend, this love long departed, before I close my eyes and try to return to sleep.

It never quite works, of course. The thing that can not be mentioned has settled in next to me. I struggle to find a comfortable spot in my bed, while the thing that can not be mentioned shifts and moves with my contortions.  I sleep, sweaty and restless. I wake with my head where my feet should be and my sheets twisted around my body.

I go to work. I laugh. I take pleasure in my work.  I come home and indulge the rabbits, giggle with my daughter.

Later, the thing that can not be mentioned will return. Emerging from the gloaming; slinking, skulking, stealing up in to my bed to curl around me once again.

I sigh.

My lips part and I exhale.

"I miss you."

I close my eyes to the thing that can not be mentioned, rolling over to gather my pillows in my arms. I pretend it is not there and seek my peace where I can find it.

Second First Day

Sunday, January 27, 2013

My second semester begins tomorrow and I am nervous.

I wonder about these new groups of students I will share space with, wondering about their personalities and if they will like me...or rather if they will trust me enough to listen to whatever it is I am going to share with them.

I fidget as I work on syllabuses. Striking some things, writing others, struggling between too much rigidity on the syllabus and too much wide open space. They need structure, but I need flexibility to observe them and work on some parts while skimming over others.

I've not yet decided in what costume I will adorn myself. That is, after all, part of the role I play.

I have created my stage in my classroom. I hope they are soothed and inspired by the environment, as it soothes and inspires me.

At the end of term last year I found a card in my box.

"Dear Professor Rouse,

Your class was never dreadful because you are a splendid instructor."

This is the mantra I will use as I face my next group of students.

Teaching Lab

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A few days after Christmas, I began a transformation of my teaching space. I enlisted Emily into a sort of captive teen servitude as I began to deconstruct the teaching lab.

It was not a simple cleaning. Twenty years worth of materials needed to be sorted and cleaned. Any person who has walked into the classroom of another knows exactly of what I speak. Cabinets had to be excavated. Paints washed and combined. Items labeled and placed in the correct places.

The custodians were kind, but clearly wondered why the new professor was spending her break in the school, working 2-7 hours a day cleaning materials.  They patiently hauled bucket after bucket of trash away.

Some tasks were easy, but mundane. Pulling out all the broken bits of crayons, peeling off papers on what can be used to melt and recreate, discarding others I suspect are toxic.

I test markers, I open glue sticks to make sure they are usable  I wash and refill glue bottles.

I have been collecting baskets and bowls since September when I knew that I was going to begin this transformation. I visit the local Salvation Army and Goodwill frequently, looking for treasures. I want no plastic containers; choosing old wooden bowls, small glass containers and sturdy natural baskets to be my medium.

It takes nearly three weeks of cleaning and arranging before I am content.  On Tuesday, I tell my colleagues that I am satisfied.

A somewhat cluttered teaching lab is now something more; a place for students to see what we are talking about when we discuss aesthetics and functionality.

This re-imagined space pleases me. I will be adding a light table and beautiful new instruments in the coming weeks (hurrah for grants). I am creating lists of materials that we need in the Resource Library ( A whole OTHER photo essay as I purge that particular room) and still looking for lamps and other ways to soften and change the lighting. I am not a fan of fluorescent light and don't like for children or adults to be surrounded by it.

This is where I teach.

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