Oh, for the love of……

I can NOT wait for November 9th. Partly I will be happy to have the suspense over. I am getting really tired of waking up at 3 Am wondering if Trump is going to blow us all to kingdom come.

It isn’t only the Presidential shit storm that I want to be done with though. It’s also the endless barrage of ads about the state candidates and referendum questions.

I am unlucky enough to live in Massachusetts but on the New Hampshire border. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but every time I try to turn it on to catch the news, or a movie, or a ballgame, I am slammed with conflicting ads.

And they are all pure 100% bullshit. That’s what I really hate.

Turn on the tube two weeks before the election and you will see 8 commercials in a row. I can sum them up here:

“Raising the Charter School Cap will make every child in America a Nobel Prize Winner!”

“Raising the Charter School Cap will end education as we know it!”

“Kelly Ayotte has a halo! She once saved a choking baby and then paid for his college tuition!”

“Kelly Ayotte is the spawn of the devil. She hates babies. She kicks puppies. She eats toads for breakfast.”

“Donald Trump will save us all from eternal damnation and will make America the actual center of the universe!”

“Donald Trump will blow us all up in the first day of his administration, just because he CAN.”

Oh. My. God.

In my fantasy world, I am running for public office. I create my own ads. They go like this.

“Hi. I’m Karen. I am not smarter than my opponent, and I am not a better human being. Neither one of us has a direct line to God or to the Founding Fathers. I think I have a good plan for making things better for us. Here it is…..”

Wouldn’t that be SO refreshing? Wouldn’t we all love it?


We’d all be so relieved to have some positive ads and some actual plans and ideas.

So why can’t we manage to get that point across to the people who are running for office?

I mean, I don’t agree with my friends who want to raise the Charter School Cap. But I don’t think that they are all mass murderers, either.

I don’t agree with most of Kelly Ayotte’s votes. But I don’t think she’s a monster, either. And I don’t think her opponent, Maggie Hassan, is an angel. I just agree with her ideas and her political positions.

Good Lord. Why can’t Democracy be based on some truth for a change?

I plan to drink a whole bottle of champagne on November 9th. And not because I am so thrilled with any of the election outcomes.


Bernie Sanders Made Me Young

Oh, I know. The 2016 election is a giant cesspool of horror.  I get it.  I have followed (with a great deal of nausea) the “tiny hands” comments, the “my wife is hotter than yours” mess and even the “beat the crap out of ’em” moments.

But still. I am having a good time with this election cycle.

I am!

In the first place, after having had to hide my lefty tendencies for so many years, I am finding it incredibly liberating to finally have a candidate who is saying “You aren’t as lefty as I am!” The “who’s more progressive” fight is so. much. fun.

And I am having a great time watching the party of Lincoln devolve into a pack of badly behaved five year old brats. I am thoroughly enjoying the nasty stupidity of that side.

But you know what’s the best part of the whole thing?

Its the never ending chorus from the media: “Bernie supporters are all millennials!” and “Oh, those innocent young people being fooled by Bernie!”

I have heard this story on NPR, on CNN, on ABC, on NBC and on CBS. I have read it and seen it over and over again.  All those Facebook memes about “20 somethings who want free stuff.”

I LOVE it.

Because its so incredibly wrong.

I am 60 years old. I recently went to a Bernie Brainstorming meeting, and 2 out of 25 people were under 35.  Most of us were gray haired and mature. We were not looking for “free stuff”.

So I am loving the misconception.  Yes, I want to say to people I meet, I am very young! I am feeling the Bern!

I sort of wondered about which celebrities are backing Bernie. You know, were they all under 25?

Let’s see:

  1. Susan Sarandon: 69 years old. (I know. She looks fabulous)
  2. Spike Lee: 59 years old.
  3. Tulsi Gabbard: 34 years old.  A youngster, but a veteran. She’s a grownup.
  4. Joan Baez: 75 years old
  5. Mark Ruffalo: 48 years old
  6. Robert Reich: 69 years old

So guess what, mass media?

Even though I am thoroughly enjoying the label of “youngster”, you are completely missing the point on who supports Bernie. I hope you keep missing the point all the way to the Inauguration.

The Roots of the Revolution

I might be biased. I understand that.    First of all, I once joined the Communist Party at my urban college.  I later came to understand the weaknesses in the communist utopian idea, but I didn’t swing too far to the right.

I have voted Socialist in several local and national elections. I have voted Green Party.  I am a card carrying member of the ACLU.


I am a lefty.   A wicked far to the left Lefty.

But that’s not why I am writing tonight.

I am writing tonight because I keep hearing the word “income inequality” as I listen to BOTH parties in this Presidential election.   I have heard many references to the 99% and to the 1%.

I have heard candidates of both parties speaking with passion about universal health care and reducing student debt and limiting the influence of the corporate elite.

And all I can think of when I hear these things is this:

“Wow. Occupy Wall Street really made a difference.”

And, once again, I am biased.

Because, look:


Yep. That’s my son in the background.

Occupy Wall Street October 1st

Yep. That’s my daughter.

And there was another kid who got arrested with Occupy that night on the Brooklyn Bridge.  He just managed not to make it into the New York Times.


Anyone who has followed any part of the Occupy Movement must recognize the themes and the slogans that have been adopted by the Presidential candidates.

I am in equal parts amused and annoyed when I hear the candidates talking about the dangers of income inequality and the need to make higher education more affordable.

I mean, really?

I am amused and excited when I hear these ideas being touted by everyone from Bernie Sanders (a real live lefty who talked about these things way before Occupy happened), to Marco Rubio, who honestly sounded like he wasn’t sure of what he was saying.

I am excited when I realize that maybe for the first time in my life the idea of a corporate oligarchy is carrying some weight in a national election.

And I am hugely, enormously proud when I realize that my three children, as well as my son-in-law, were involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement.  I know that without even casting a vote, these four young people have had a huge impact on this Presidential election.

This activist, lefty Mom is very very proud.

And very very hopeful.   Maybe something will finally change in this country.  Maybe we will finally begin to realize that this is in fact supposed to be “government by the people, for the people”.   You never know.


And one more note about Occupy Wall Street.  My daughter met her future husband when they got arrested together on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Now that’s romance.


It’s not that I’m clumsy exactly….


I know I’m not exactly the athletic type. I mean, sure I’m in shape.  (As long as “round” counts as a shape.)  And I am very active.  You know, cooking, chopping, stirring.


I admit that I am not your typical athlete.  I hate to sweat.   I am not quite coordinated enough to walk and chew gum at the same time without biting my tongue in half.

So maybe my middle name really should be “clumsy”. Still, I don’t see why I have to get hurt in such humiliating ways!

Really.  Do you know another middle aged woman who once fell off a flip-flop and broke her foot?  Yeah, me either.  Every other woman on earth can walk in flip flops all summer long.  But me? I put on a pair ONE time and walked on the wet grass with an arm full of fire wood.  Slipped, turned my foot, broke a bone.

Which I was too embarrassed to take to the doctor.  I walked on it for six weeks before I finally went for an X ray.  My doctor looked at me like I was an idiot.

And then there was the time when I choked on a piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken while trying to answer the phone.  Yup.  Got a bone lodge in my throat so tight that I had to call 911, take an ambulance ride and have it removed under anesthesia.

I am not graceful.  I admit it.

I once tripped while vacuuming the stairs and dropped a giant canister vac on my face.  Got a concussion and ten stitches out of that one.

I’ve dropped firewood on my foot, stubbed my toe on a table and slammed my fingers in various doors.

I can accept ALL of those little boo-boos though.

Its the one I’m suffering from tonight that has me really red faced.

I spend every weekday taking care of my darling, beloved baby granddaughter.  The one who isn’t quite old enough to sit up one her own and therefore just loves to be held.  And I love holding her!   I love it so so much! More than anything on earth.

In fact, I love cuddling my Ellie so much that I hardly ever put her down.  Yesterday I held her in my left arm while I make a home made rustic pizza with my right arm.  And I held her in my left arm while we looked out the window at the birds in the yard.  I wanted to get a little exercise and expose Ellie to some good music at the same time, so after we finished with the pizza and the birds, I held her in my left arm while I played the soundtrack to Les Mis.  She absolutely had the time of her life as we danced around the house and I sang every word to every song! What a blast!

And I held her in my left arm while I put away dishes.  And while I vacuumed the floors.

And then I held her in my arms while she slept.


I apparently put something called my “quadratus muscle” into a complete spasm, which caused me so much pain over night that I was up at 2 AM googling “kidney stone symptoms” and alternating ice, heat and oxycodone.

Today I held Ellie in my right arm as I slowly and carefully walked from the house to the car.


I am not an athlete.

I’ve got the boo boos to prove it.



Sure Signs of Spring

542973_10150758018781101_166114762_nEvery year, without fail, I am amazed, astounded and otherwise thrilled by the inarguable signs of spring.

“What?!” I find myself whispering, “The maple trees are suddenly tipped with red buds?  Really??!!!  Is spring really coming?!”

I am always astonished.  The snow is still there, clinging with its filthy icy fingers to the edges of the drive.  The nights still make me shiver.  How can there be buds on the trees?

A few weeks pass, and the snow finally recedes, the last dirty nuggets of frozen slush disappearing into the dirt. The peepers come out, singing their songs of longing and renewal as dusk falls over the wetlands.

Lilac buds swell, the grass grows green again.  The phlox begin to open, and the lily-of-the-valley unfurl their tender stalks to soak up the light of May.

But none of these signs of spring can convince me that winter has finally gone.  None of them shows me that life is truly re-emerging from its dormant state.


I am a fifth grade teacher.   I am immune to the calling of the Phoebe on her nest.  I do not respond to the lovely colors of the tulips or the tender scent of the hibiscus.

For me, spring only proves her existence when my students return from fifteen minutes of outdoor play, and I am surrounded by the suffocating odor of an NBA locker room.

For me, the sounds of spring are not the trilling songs of the peepers, but rather the whispered sounds of “I like him, but I don’t LIKE him like him!”

Spring in the fifth grade is captured by the poignant dance of “You can’t fire me; I quit!” where the most insecure students suddenly push away their new- found friends.  It is felt in the moments when the children simultaneously push me away and cling to me as if I am the only buoy in a turbulent sea.

Spring: the time of year when life rushes forward, whether we are ready or not.  The peepers call, the buds swell, the children find themselves confused by love and longing.  Time marches forward with a suddenly ominous drum beat.  Every minute takes us closer to the end of our time together.

Spring time in the fifth grade.  A sweetly gentle mix of sadness, excitement, and relief.  A tender mix of looking forward and looking back.

Empty and Full


Empty and Full.  All at once.

I feel so empty and yet so full.

Frustrated, tired, but blessed at the very same time.

How do I write about that?

Why would I write about that?

Let me start with why.  I’ll try to capture it in writing because if I don’t it will eat me from the inside out.  I’ll try because I need to frame my thoughts and my emotions and my fears; if I don’t, they become too big for me.

I’ll write because its the only way that I can have even the illusion of control.

So now to the question of “how”.

I don’t know.

My jumbled thoughts and feelings can’t be easily shaped into one of the accepted “genres” of writing that I am told to teach.  They don’t really lend themselves to a “story arc” or a “main idea” or a “conflict/resolution” paradigm.

My thoughts and feelings this weekend are as looped and whirled as the knitting that I cannot seem to master.  They are interwoven and as contradictory as the weeds that so far are the only life to show itself in my garden.

So how do I write it all down?

I’ll give up any pretext of “story form” and I’ll rely instead on my “stream of consciousness”, a writing style that I loved in my pre-rubric past.

Here I go.  Try to hold on for the ride.

I love my family, and am so incredibly grateful to have them in my life.  I love my children more than I ever thought I could love anyone, and they are as always my greatest pride and my greatest source of strength.   I love my family, including my sisters and brothers and mother and even my now gone Dad, who keeps his hand in every major decision and his loving arms around every worry.  I love my family, even when they are no blood kin of mine.  This weekend I have found the magic and strength in family who are tied to me through the marriage of a sibling.  Tied to me through love of that same sibling and her husband, through our shared love of their children.   I love my family.

I am tired. I need a chance to refill my well, to gather my thoughts, to refresh my strength and my stamina.  I am so, so tired. I wish that a night of sleep could fix it, but I know that it won’t.  I am simply out of gas.

I love my job. In spite of the frustrations, the sadness, the struggles to remain relevant.  The truth is, I love my job, my students, my role in their lives. I love the moments when I laugh out loud with 24 children I love.  I am so grateful for the daily smiles, the hugs, the twinkling eyed humor. I am so lucky to spend my life in the company of children, to whom the world is entirely new and always amazing.

I love my life, but I still don’t know how to be what everybody needs, what everybody wants. I still don’t know how to balance the needs of those I love with my own limitations in strength.    I love my life.

I need a rest. I need a way to get it.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!