Coronatine, Day Thirty-eight

these organized shelves

ready to be fully stocked

with his last paychecks:

they represent us,

our Coronatine journal,

worry turned to work

work we’re still doing

with tiny pics on small screens

working for our kids

our creative kids

with a cat-house-building night

paw prints, love, and all

“new normal” softens

as we make the best of fate

on day thirty-eight

Coronatine, Day Twelve

let me rephrase this:

my students are scared to death

their families could die

they don’t need English

they don’t need online teaching

they need love from us

i wish they could see

the beauty of this sunset

and find hope in it

but like these cracked streets

they’ve lived nothing but cracked lives

(and now they’re trapped here)

here! land of the free!

opportunities waiting

for someone (not them)

yes, i’m a cynic

cause i know without faces

relationships die

Coronatine sucks

the life from all we’ve worked for

and how will it end?

Coronavirus Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

Four months of news stories and 4,300 worldwide deaths.

Social media memes and accusations.

Schools filled with unimpacted children who put their hands everywhere.

Understaffed schools that can’t keep up with soap consumption.

Homeless and hungry children who find their only two meals a day here.

Immigrant children who come anyway because this is nothing like escaping extreme poverty and war.

Directions:

Preheat hope to 375 degrees. Maybe it will be hot enough to kill something.

Put every worry and frustration into the rolling out of dough. Tough and round, an imperfect circle, wide enough to cover the whole belly of the beloved dish.

Spin and skin the apples until they are nothing but spirals of juicy love, bittersweet and crunchy and soon-to-be-soft, soon-to-be-coalesced inside a cinnamony mix of something sweeter. More hopeful.

Slice slivers into the top crust. Each piece is a taste of our world, cutting out the healthcare most of us don’t have, carving lines into the economic burden, trying to cover up the death toll.

Place the pre-cooked apple concoction into the lower crust belly, its syrup soaking through the floury dough, waiting to be better.

One by one, lay the lattice. Say a prayer, ask for something better, hope to God this will come together perfectly in the end. One by one, lay the lattice. Take your time. Gather your patience. Think of your children. All of your children.

Press the two parts of the world together: the bottom crust which opens its arms to everything that will fit; the top lattice which opens its door for all the cursed steam to escape, to prevent overflowing, to make a perfect pie.

Bake your pie. Bake, bake, bake your pie. Know that, after the timer beeps, after you have scrubbed flour powder into the compost, after you have soaped the dishes, after your pie has rested on its stinging-hot shelf, everything will taste oh. So. Sweet.

Teach your students how to say “crust” before they bite in tomorrow, before you won’t see them for three weeks, before the actual Pi Day.

And hope for many more Pi Days with oh-so-many pies as perfect as this one.

The Story of my Life

I can’t write about all the things I wish to write about, but it has been HELL at work.

It’s not the kids (it is never the kids).

You know the burdens if you have carried them. Weights of national, state, and school district policies that bear down on our daily instruction. Weights of internal decisions that are never made with the voice of a teacher who sits each day with those kids. Weights of parents who sometimes don’t have any idea what it’s like to gather, with full attention, the love of thirty-two strangers. Every. Day.

And here we are, Friday Night Lights, chasing our peaks.

The sun is setting later now, and our ski seasons are coming to an end. I can’t even write the sentence without crying.

Because skiing is a luxury afforded to rich white people, which we have been for exactly four years and nine months.

Because this is our last little weekend getaway for a long time.

Because whenever we open our home, it seems like the world closes its doors.

But check out this sauna:

It comes at the very affordable $94 rate for the singular queen-size bed and free breakfast, just 47 minutes from the closest free parking lot (shuttle to the slopes).

It comes quickly and too hot and it feels amazing on my too-cold skin. My skin that has shivered for a week with news I don’t want to carry.

It is the story of every American. That, even with two raises, even after a teachers’ strike, even after committing seventeen years to a profession, I cannot afford to pay for my house or my bills on a singular salary.

It is the story of my husband who can fix anything you ever asked for with his hands, from laying a hardwood floor to replacing a toilet to connecting fiber optic wires to fully cleaning the impossibly-dirty grout in my parents’ bathroom… But who did not earn a degree, only four years of service to this God Bless America Country that has done nothing other than save us from down payments on properties.

It is the story of health insurance that we will either no longer have or can no longer pay for because I make too much to qualify for Medicaid but shouldn’t I provide shelter for the four children living under my roof?

It is the story of my life.

And we have less than three months to figure out exactly how to win these mountains back.

 

 

 

Seventeen on the Seventeenth

You were born on Presidents’ Day, making me a mother. And now we celebrate seventeen years on the seventeenth, another February Monday that teases us with sun in the city, snow in the mountains, and just one year left of childhood.

Just one year left to relish your youth, be irresponsibly wild while simultaneously mastering physics and calculus.

Just one year left to argue with your mama about screen time limits, driving rules, homework completion.

Just one year left to be the stern at the front of your sisters’ ship, leading the way towards a future none of us can predict.

How can it be seventeen years after this moment in the sun, rocking you in your jaundiced stupor, my baby who would never wake?

Just one year left of your childhood, a childhood filled with formal dresses (of your choosing) every day until age seven; of trips across continents and oceans; of making, keeping, and losing friends; of an ever-tumultuous relationship with school; of dancing and skating and skiing and snowboarding, but never hiking; of a first love, gained and lost; of always wanting more and finding a way to get it.

Just one year left for your mama to be able to call you her girl… Because you are so fast becoming a woman.

A woman who wants her hair braided while completing calculus so that it’s curly for the dance team.

A woman who wants to be an aerospace engineer or an Air Force pilot, a mother, a wife, a keeper of all of beauty’s secrets.

A woman who woke from her jaundiced infancy to fight for everything she wants, whether it be a better part-time job, a new dance partner, a different class set for senior year, or a friendship that has lasted since kindergarten.

As you turn seventeen on the seventeenth, I just wanted you to know that I love you. That you have made me more than a mother. You have taught me how to listen. How to have a stronger voice. How to raise a girl in the twenty-first century (with patience, love, and technology all mixed up into a tumble of confusion and hope).

You have just one year left of childhood, Isabella. Lucky for you, you already know how to fly.

Fly high, my girl. Fly high.

Happy seventeenth.