Dear Tony Gwynn

newyorktimes.com

newyorktimes.com

Dear Tony Gwynn,

I have admired you since the day my Father taught me about baseball. Even before I could walk, my parents brought me to Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego to watch the Padres. They’d always sit in Right Field so they could get the best view of you on defense, and possibly even snag a ball over the wall from you on offense. I’d be in the baby carrier, tucked under one of the seats so I wouldn’t burn. My Mom says I was never bothered by all of the cheers. I guess it felt like home even then.

Sometimes, my Father would come get me out of school for an early afternoon game. He’d say, “How ’bout some het-degs” and I’d know we were headed to the stadium. The people in the stands selling hotdogs always said it real funny – like they were talking out of the side of their mouths. “Het-degs. Get yer het-degs, here!”

When I was old enough, my Father and I would play catch in the parking lot. He taught me about the only time the Padres had ever been to the World Series was the year I was born – 1984. He said it was only your 3rd Season, but you led that team like you were born to. He also taught me about what a “Golden Glove” was, and how you got your first of 5 in 1986. I started memorizing your stats before I was even old enough to have homework. I lined the walls of my room with clippings from the San Diego Union Tribune. I spent hours staring at the articles, wondering what I’d say when I finally got to meet you one day.

When I was 10, I went to a game with Randy Jones (he was good friends with my friend’s Dad). I talked the whole time about you and how someday I’d get to shake your hand. At one point in the game, Randy left and said he’d be right back. He came back a little bit later with a ball just for me – signed by both himself and you. I stared at that ball every night as a teen, hoping for your strength and talent to rub off on me.

When I was 14, I got to see you take the Padres to their second ever World Series. It was the greatest year in baseball history to me. That’s the thing about being a Padre fan – we don’t take those years for granted. Some teams might count up World Series appearances like they’re poker chips. But in San Diego, we savor those moments. I can still remember where I was for each of those games. We lost the Series in 4 games to the Yankees, but I didn’t care. I was never more proud to be a Padre.

When I was 17, I attended your final Home game – I had seats just above the dug-out. My face was painted and I had the throw-back mustard yellow jersey on. By that time, your knees and back weren’t doing so well. They brought you in to pinch hit somewhere around the 6th. I don’t remember much about the at-bat other than it was short and it was an out, but right before you ducked back into the dug-out, you took off your helmet and lifted it to the crowd. Many people might claim you looked at them, but I like to think that your eyes were right on me that day.

When I was 19, I was away at school. I was working on a major project with two teammates and my phone rang. It was my Father. I almost didn’t answer, but realized it had been a while since we talked. I had barely picked up when I heard my father say in a rushed voice, “You will never guess who is standing only a few feet from me.” There is only ONE person on this planet for which my Father would say those words…and it is you. My Father had been at the airport at the same time you and the SDSU team were heading out. Somehow my Father convinced you to take the phone because just moments later I heard your voice on the line. It was the greatest 30-second conversation of my life and yet I can barely remember what I said. I hope I didn’t sound too crazy as I explained that I was number 28 in college because that is the number you wore at San Diego State. When I hung up, I remember bursting into tears, my teammates beyond confused. There is no way I could explain what an amazing experience that was for me.

I don’t know what got you to take the phone from my Father that day in the San Diego Airport, but I feel so lucky you did because, as it turns out, that was the closest I’d ever get to shaking your hand.

My Father sent me a text this morning at 8:42 AM PST, telling me you’d passed. My heart jumped into my throat. I feel so connected to you, and yet I never even got to meet you face-to-face. I may just be one in hundreds of thousands of fans, but I hope you can feel the love I have for you….that all of us have for you. You are the Spirit of San Diego, Mr. Padre, and you always will be.

Keep your glove on…not only will I get to shake your hand one day, but I’m having myself a catch, too.

~28

mlb.com

mlb.com

My Religion Was Written By Stephen Trask

I was raised on the teachings of the Christian Bible – I attended Youth Group and went away to Bible Study Camp and memorized scripture – but it has been a long time since I felt like a Christian. It’s not that I’ve disowned the faith, but I consider myself more of a multi-cultural sponge – a tie-dyed shirt soaking up the color. I do teach Culture, after all. I enjoy picking through ancient legends and myths to piece together my perfect Faith. And as a Lesbian, I find myself grasping at any culture or artistic creation that paints me as just a normal member of a working society – not an outcast, sinner, or disease.

And that’s how I found the words that make the most sense to me – The Origin of Love.

Stephen Trask wrote the music and lyrics to a musical entitled “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” in 1998. That show was made into a movie in 2001 by the original writer and star John Cameron Mitchell. Together, these two men made magic. The show is a beautifully designed piece of self-discovery and internal dialogue that seems to speak to my soul. Hedwig, a transgender rock-star from East Berlin, sings a song early in the show called “The Origin of Love” and steals the audience’s heart from that point forward.

When the earth was still flat,
And the clouds made of fire,
And mountains stretched up to the sky
Sometimes higher,
Folks roamed the earth
Like big rolling kegs.
They had two sets of arms.
They had two sets of legs.
They had two faces peering
Out of one giant head,
So they could watch all around them
As they talked, while they read.
And they never knew nothing of Love.
It was before the Origin of Love.
The Origin of Love.

Big Rolling Kegs

And there was three sexes then:
One that looked like two men
Glued up back to back,
They called the Children of the Sun.
And similar in shape and girth
Was the Children of the Earth.
They looked like two girls
Rolled up in one.
And the Children of the Moon
Was like a fork stuck on a spoon.
They was part Sun, part Earth,
Part Daughter, part Son.
The Origin of Love

Zeus Said No

Now the gods grew quite scared
Of our strength and defiance.
And Thor said,
‘I’m gonna kill ’em all
With my hammer,
Like I killed the giants.’
But Zeus said, ‘No.
You better let me
Use my lightening, like scissors,
Like I cut the legs off the whales,
Dinosaurs into lizards.’
And then he grabbed up some bolts
He let out a laugh,
Said, ‘I’ll split them right down the middle,
Gonna cut ’em right up in half.’
And the storm clouds gathered above
Into great balls of fire.

And then fire
Shot down from the sky in bolts,
Like shining blades of a knife.
And it ripped
Right through the flesh
Of the Children of the Sun
And the Moon
And the Earth.

Scatter Us Away

And some Indian god
Sewed the wound up to a hole,
Pulled it around to our belly
To remind us the price we paid.
And Osiris and the gods of the Nile
Gathered up a big storm,
To blow a hurricane.
To scatter us away.
The flood of wind and rain.
The sea of tidal waves.
To wash us all away.
And if we don’t behave,
They’ll cut us down again.
We’ll be hoppin’ round on one foot,
And looking through one eye.

Deny Me and Be Doomed

Last time I saw you,
We’d just split in two.
You was looking at me,
I was looking at you.
You had a way so familiar
I could not recognize,
Cause you had blood on your face,
I had blood in my eyes.
But I could swear by your expression
That the pain down in your soul
Was the same as the one down in mine.

That’s the pain
That cuts a straight line
Down through the heart,
We called it Love.

We wrapped our arms around each other,
Trying to shove ourselves back together.
We was making Love,
Making Love.
It was a cold dark evening
Such a long time ago,
When by the mighty hand of Jove,
It was the sad story
How we became
Lonely two-legged creatures.
It’s the story of
The Origin of Love.

That’s the Origin of Love.

Origin of Love

Hedwig then says, “It is clear that I must find my other half. But is it a he or a she? What would this person look like? And were we really separated forcibly? Or did he just run off with the good stuff?”

Beautiful.

13 Reasons Why Not Fitting in as a Kid Makes You an Awesome Adult

I came across a BuzzFeed article by the same title a few days ago. I was pretty intrigued and quite curious as to what the BuzzFeed cohorts dug up to share with the world. The content of the article, however, was…underwhelming, to say the least. I decided to thieve the title and rewrite the content, attempting to live up to the potential to which it lended itself. I was, after all, one of those misfit kids. Sometimes realizing it all meant something, can really mean something.

1. You learn independence. Being a bit odd often meant hanging out by myself. Sure, I found my niche eventually, but many of my early memories involve eating lunch alone and playing with a jumprope at recess. I learned to rely only on me. And I realize now that a little independence was the healthiest lesson of my childhood.

2. You learn humility. Maybe knowing I wasn’t perfect wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Perhaps a little dose of humble pie is best at a young age, when you still have time to learn and grow.

3. You toughen up. I have plenty of coworkers and acquaintances now as an adult that were clearly the “popular type” and I am constantly witnessing their inability to cope with certain adversity. I am not saying that all Homecoming-Queen-Teens make Cry-Me-A-River-Adults, but it certainly seems to be a “popular” side-effect.

4. You get a sense of humor. It’s not true for everyone, but for many of us misfits, our childhood woes have given us a platform for an actual personality.

5. You get inspired. So many popular artists today tell their stories about being an outcast. Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, Howard Stern, Michael Phelps, and Eva Mendez have all shared stories about overcoming bullying and teasing as kids. Each of them got inspired in their own ways to grow into what the world sees today.

6. You can look back and not feel like such a perfect little douche. I am now pretty proud of my oddities as a kid. Perfect-kid-type-stories stick out like a sore thumb in the adult world. No one wants to hear about a Princess and a Pea. Sorry ’bout it.

7. You learn to observe. Like I said, I spent a lot of time alone. I got to take in the world around me and learn from what I saw.

8. You find an inner voice. Self-reflection is, unfortunately, a practice that is not as common as it should be. Something about being an outcast gave me a dialogue about myself, a way to cope with what was happening around me. That inner voice has followed me throughout my entire life, molding the adult I grew into and allowing me to adapt and grow over time.

9. You learn kindness. Every bullied kid remembers the times that kindness, no matter how infrequently or how minor, was shown to them. Sometimes that shining light is enough to outshine the darkest situations. You learn to appreciate what the smallest acts of kindness can do, and pass it on as you grow older.

10. You realize that the world isn’t always a nice place. As sad as it is, this was another important lesson I learned as a kid. Sometimes the “Movie Theatre Reality” or the “Sitcom Point-of-View” is thrust upon us so blindly as kids that we think it’s all true. My time crying behind the soccer net on the playground as I endured the cruel words from classmates brought me face-to-face with the real world and its ugly side. Upsetting, perhaps – but I’m sure glad I learned that early on. The strength I took away from it got me through the rest of my youth.

11. You write. Or create. Or explore. You do what you need to do to survive. I was a writer. I have kept a journal since I was in 5th Grade. My younger sister (or my Mom, rather) gave me a little lock-and-key diary for my birthday and I went to town on that thing. When that one ran out, I got a new one. And a new one. Now, at 30 years old, I have between 10 and 15 notebooks in a box in one of my closets. Every once in a while I pull one out and read a bit, just to get a sense of my childhood mind, and that inner dialogue with which I had gotten so in touch. I am determined to keep that connection to the kid version of me so that I never forget the toughest times.

12. You gain confidence. It may seem a little oxymoronic, but confidence really is one of the greatest treasures of my childhood. By being left out, picked last, laughed at, ignored and teased I was stripped down to my bare bones. I was forced to steel myself and be confident with what I had – or fail.

That was it.

Let it break me.

Or let is make me.

And so I chose.

 

And finally….

13. You could grow up to become Jinkx Monsoon. Super-Star Comedienne, Confident Beauty, Wise Soul and Winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5. She is everything an awkward kid (boy or girl) could hope to become and she has given us such an amazing mantra: Water off a duck’s back. Because no matter what comes at us, we just need to let it fall off of us like “Water off a duck’s back.”

Jerick Hoffer in Spring Awakening at the Balagan Theatre in Seattle. Jinkx Monsoon serving Marilyn realness.

Jerick Hoffer in Spring Awakening at the Balagan Theatre in Seattle. Jinkx Monsoon serving Marilyn realness.

5 Lies Hollywood Told Us About Snow

I grew up in Southern California and, even though I had seen snow in the mountains when I was a kid, most of what I learned about snow came from movies. When I moved to the Northeast 11 years ago, I was in for a rude awakening. Here are some of the lies spread by the movie-makers…and believed by at least one naïve Californian.

1. Snow is pretty and white. Sure, the first few hours after a snow storm are gorgeous. And if you’re lucky enough to see snow cover rolling hills or a group of pine trees, it’s especially majestic. But in the urban world in which most of us live, snow is dirty. The plows send loads of oil and grime mixed with chunks of white into piles that line the streets and parking lots. After just a day or two, the once white blanket is nothing more than grey mush.

2. Don’t eat the Yellow Snow….Oh no, wait. That one is true.

3. Snow Angels are fun. We have all seen the movie scenes of people smiling as they make snow angels, giggling as they flop around in the pure white puff. It’s totally bogus. My Freshman year of College, after the first snow storm, I was so excited to go outside and play. My team mates and friends all made fun of “the silly California girl” as I wrapped up for some fun. As soon as I found a fresh spot, I threw myself down on my back and started flapping my legs and wings. Within seconds I could feel the cold snow on my back where my jacket had been tugged up by my arms. I felt crystals on my neck, slipping between my hat and scarf. And since I didn’t have proper boots, my shoes were filled with snow by the time I stood up. Not only did my “Angel” look nothing like the one in the movies, but my playtime was cut short by the unexpected frost-bitten sensation coursing through my body.

4. Snow = Snowball Fight! I always thought a good, clean snowball fight was standard practice when it snowed. One thing they never share in movies is that it takes a special kind of snow to make a snowball. Sometimes, snow is too heavy and wet. Sometimes it’s too soft and powdery. Only rarely does one some across perfect snowball snow. Even then, throwing a ball of flakes packed into a make-shift baseball is quite difficult. In my experience, the snowball exploded over my own head mid-throw more often than it found its target.

5. It only Snows at night, when children dream of a White Christmas. I always imagined waking up on Christmas Day and racing to the window to share with the rest of my house, “It SNOWED!” I had this idea in my head that snow was made by magic. Unfortunately, it is much more common to utter the words, “Ugh, it snowed. Can I use your ice scraper?”

My Cinderella Story

When I was 9, my Father signed me up to play on a Softball team that his friend was helping to coach. My Father always took our family to baseball games and I loved them – but I was never really into playing sports. I had danced since the age of 5 – tights, leotards and fringe were all I knew when it came to competition. A new challenge, however, sounded like fun.

I got a Rawlings Ken Griffey, Jr. Signature Series mitt, sliding shorts from the local Big 5 Sporting Goods and a pair of Nike High-Top cleats. I was scared out of my mind when I showed up to the first practice. Everyone else seemed like they knew what they were doing. The Coaches were using words like “grounders”, “shag” and “back-up”. I was lost. Over the next few weeks, I slowly became acquainted with the lingo. I felt myself improving and I was proud of my progress.

The next year, one of the Coaches suggested I learn to pitch. I was always the tallest girl in my age group and I have unusually big hands – two things that can be very helpful to a softball pitcher (I sometimes now look back and laugh at how so much of my Destiny was dictated by such minor physical characteristics). My Father and I began practicing 5 days a week on new pitches. He even found me an amateur Pitching Coach for a short period of time. By the time I was 14, I had dreams of playing in the NCAA. I had the 1996 USA Softball Team posters all over my walls. I even sent away for a VHS tape pitching tutorial taught by Olympic All-Star Michele Smith.

Michele Smith

In 1998, I entered High School and in the Spring of ’99 I tried out for the Softball Team. Tryouts were grueling. We ran a lot. Threw a lot. Hit a lot. The first two days of cuts were massive – 40 girls showed up the first day and by Day 3 there were 25 of us left (it was Southern California, after all – Fastpitch Softball Capital of the World). On Day 3, I was feeling so confident. The 25 of us gathered around the Junior Varsity Coach for the list of the final 15 girls that had made the team. With each name, my heart skipped a beat, waiting for mine to be called. Until finally, all 15 names were announced – and I wasn’t one of them. At first I thought it was a mistake. I actually went up to the Coach after everyone was dismissed to double-check. She confirmed I wasn’t on the team and said, “Keep working hard and come back next year.” And that was it. My dreams were over.

My Father had to work so I sat on a bench to wait for him to come get me. As time passed, I grew more and more disappointed in myself. By the time my Father pulled the car up, rolled down the window and asked with a big smile on his face, “So? How’d it go?”, I was an emotional wreck. All the tears I had held in came pouring out. He slammed the car into park and rushed over to me. He had nothing but comforting words, but I still couldn’t help but feel embarrassed – like I had let him down. I was lying to myself when I told myself I was a good pitcher. The progress I thought I had made was false. I couldn’t even make the JV Team – what was I thinking?

My Father must have sensed I needed some time. He let me stew in my grief for about 2 weeks until he finally came to me and sat me down for a chat. He reminded me of my dreams – of how for so long I spoke of nothing but playing Softball at the Collegiate level. He reminded me of the girls on my walls upstairs and how hard they had to work to get to where they were. He then said, “If you truly want to give up on Softball, then I will support you. But if you still want to play and if you still want to pitch, you have a choice to make. You can be satisfied with the level at which you currently are…..or….we can get you a better Coach and we can work harder.” It was that conversation that saved my dream. It was my Father’s support that kept me focused on my Destiny.

A week later he had set me up with a new Pitching Coach. We drove 35 minutes each way every 2 weeks for lessons. I learned new pitches from a man who had coached the best pitchers in Southern California. My Father and I threw in the backyard at least 3 times a week. I got stronger and faster. Eventually my Father even invested in shin guards, throwing pride aside for the much-needed protection as I consistently started throwing over 60 MPH. When we were on vacation, we found time to throw. When it was rainy (although rare), we pitched anyway. When I took a two-week trip to France with my French Class, I brought a ball to work on spins and grips.

By the time I went back my Sophomore Year to tryout, I was a completely new Pitcher. I still believe to this day, that if I had made the team as a Freshman, I would have been satisfied with my skill level. I never would have been forced to recognize my weaknesses. I might have played for a few more years – and that would have been it. Instead, I excelled as a Pitcher and made in onto one of the best 18 and under travel teams in Southern California. The team traveled all over the country and gave me exposure to real College Coaches! When I got a letter from the Head Coach of a Division I University on the East Coast, I was over the moon. I was offered a full scholarship and in September 2002, my dream of playing at the College level came true.

I can only describe those next four years as pure bliss. I earned the #1 spot as a Freshman and led our team to the Conference Championship. My Sophomore year I broke the Season Strikeout Record and my Junior Year I surpassed the previously set Career Strikeout Record. My Senior Year I even got a phone call from the Olympic Softball Coach of Holland! I still pinch myself when I think of those four years. I wonder, at times, if it even happened. Did I actually get to do all that? Was that really me?

Last week, I received a call from the Athletic Director of my Alma Mater. It was strange to receive a call from him and I wondered if there was something wrong. His words stunned me: “I just wanted to call and let you know that you will be inducted into our Athletics Hall of Fame in June.” I was speechless. Never in my wildest dreams, especially that day on the bench waiting for my Father to pick me up, could I have imagined that the girl that was cut from her High School JV team her Freshman Year, could receive such an Honor nearly 15 years later.

I have so much to thank my Father for in my life. He is my rock and my hero. But that single conversation on a random day in February of ’99 is by far at the top of my list. He saved me. My entire life had been centered around Softball and the ripples that came from playing. I have my Father to thank for saving my Destiny.

Towards Moonlight

From “The Morning After” Episode of The Fosters on ABC Family

Last Tuesday night my mother, Jenna, comes into the house

I’m sitting in the living room with my other mom, Kelly

Jenna asks us if we could take a drive with her

So we all get in the car

And as we drive, silence creeps along like the cracks of a frozen lake

Our hearts begin to thud slowly…off-beat

And I wonder and then I know

And I didn’t imagine it would end like this

I didn’t imagine an ending at all

But if they were going to tell me about the divorce, what a way to do it

I sit in the back seat and think about how lucky we were to have had this family

Their 20 years of marriage

My 15 with them

I remember all of us driving miles out in the high way until I fell asleep in the back seat

I don’t want this life to end

Jenna starts to talk

She tells me that our car is just 13 miles away from reaching 100,000 miles now

I wonder if this is part of the divorce speech or just a distraction

I feel angry

They should just say it

She tells me the reason we took this ride is so that we could all be there to reach 100,000 miles together as the people who matter in our life

Slowly I realize that this isn’t a break up ride or a divorce ride or a separation ride

This is a 100,000 mile ride

We’re in the car and we’re driving on a Tuesday night

And we’re 99,987 miles in

We stop for onion rings and sundaes

Keep driving, 99,993 miles – Stevie Nicks

99,997 miles – Elton John

When we get to 99,999 miles we hold hands, blast Melissa Etheridge and sing Lucky at the top of our lungs

There are too many reasons that my Mamas found love in each other’s presence

There are too many moments when we are unbreakable and this moment we are one family

Constructing road as we go

Burning bridges behind us

Adding mileage like graceful aging

Driving in our car towards moonlight…

Performed by Garrett, a friend of the Foster family. I didn’t really like the character Garrett until this poem. It’s like he captured a “real family” moment. And showed how a “real family” doesn’t have to be defined just one way.

Why the Country Music world broke my heart…

I grew up in California and, despite the grossly mis-informed stereotype the rest of the states seem to have about California, many of us are actually huge Country Music fans. Every summer since I was about 12, my sister and I would try and see every Country artist that came through our city. One summer we saw 12 artists in just 4 months!

When I was 13, I got a job working at the Iowa State Fair where my cousins lived and raised animals. During the weeks of the Fair, dozens of artists (mostly Country) came to play at the Grandstand, a huge outdoor facility that sat over 10,000 people. By the second or third year that I worked at the Fair, I had figured out how to sneak into the Grandstand to see the best artists. I knew it was wrong but what can I say? I was a mischievous teen!

One year, Country music artist Chely Wright came to play the Grandstand and I snuck in to watch her rehearse. I loved her hair and I remember wanting to look just like her. I never could have imagined, all those years ago watching her sing “Shut Up and Drive”, that I’d relate to her so much as an adult. Or that it would be Chely’s struggle in the Country Music world that would tear my heart to pieces.

Chely Wright

On May 3, 2010, Chely became the first commercial Country Music artist to come out as a Lesbian. I remember when she did, and I remember the minor stir it caused, but I guess I was largely naive to the real struggle Chely faced as she made the decision to be honest about her life. I recently came across the documentary “Wish Me Away“, filmed over the course of the 3 years prior to Chely’s coming out. It includes very personal interviews and conversations, as well as video diaries Chely took in the weeks before the announcement.

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As I watched the documentary, my heart broke little by little. It broke as Chely told her story about being afraid to come out to her Father, only to later realize that there was nothing to fear. It broke when Chely recognized that there would always be people in the world that wouldn’t get the choices she made. It broke watching her struggle with what “normal” is and how to just fit in. And, most of all, it broke when she spoke about the real possibility of being cast out in the Country music industry.

In one interview in the documentary, Chely talks about having dinner with a male Country star a few years back. Rumors of Chely’s sexuality had been circling and this unknown artist flat-out asked Chely, “You’re not gay are you?” After Chely denied it, he apparently responded with, “Well, good, because Country Music won’t have it.” One of her producers, Rodney Crowell, expressed his fear of her being “iced out” of Nashville because of the way the Country Music world views homosexuality. Author and Country Music Historian Don Cusic predicted that many fans might consider it “a betrayal”. While being interviewed by a Birmingham radio station, Chely was told by the DJ to just “Shut up and sing.”

For so long, I have adored Country music and the artists that create it. It breaks my heart to know that so many of those singers I’ve loved for all these years, can’t accept their fellow Country artist just because she’s gay. A few weeks after coming out, Chely appeared on Oprah, who asked Chely if any Country stars had reached out in support. Chely replied that only two had so far.

I refuse to accept that Chely’s brave decision is something that will end her career. I have downloaded each one of her songs on iTunes (even ones I already owned on CD’s) and bought her memoir, “Like Me” for my Nook. Maybe you aren’t a Country music fan. And maybe you’ve never heard of Chely Wright. But perhaps you can help spread the word about her courage. And maybe her story is one to inspire others out there to be as brave as she was.

Scene Life, Take Two

An excerpt from Shallow Hal (2001), starring Jack Black and Jason Alexander:

Hal: You’re not serious! You actually think you’re more mature than me?!

Mauricio: You’re right…you’re probably more mature than me – but at least I have a biggerwilly!

[tick]

[tick]

[tick]

Hal: Yeah, bigger than a mouse’s.

Mauricio: What was that?

Hal: I said you’re willy’s bigger –

Mauricio: I know what you said – but, it took you like, 8 seconds. You can’t come back with a comeback after 8 seconds. You got 3 seconds…5tops! That’s why they call it a “QUIP“…not a “sloooow-p“.

Ever have those scenes in your life that didn’t quite play out the way you wanted them to? The kind where you wish you had all the time in the world to think of the perfect response? Or that you could just rewind time and do a scene all over again so you come out sounding like a champ? Well, let me tell you, that desire is HEARD on my end.

Scene 1 Take 1I consider myself a pretty well-spoken person. I am not the kind of arrogant jack-ass type that spits my views all over the place expecting everyone to just nod and agree. But I am also not the silent lamb breed that rolls over and takes it whenever faced with adversity. I pick my battles wisely, and when I feel something needs to be said, I say it.

But there are times, when the words I wanted to say just don’t come at the moment I needed them. I find myself replaying scenes of my life, rewriting my lines to make me the bad-ass champ they write in movies and shows. Olivia Pope meets Erin Brockovich, with a little Idgie Threadgoode thrown in there for good measure. Do I always regret the original words I chose (or didn’t say at all)? No way. But it sure is fun to play director and invent scenes that would have made my character pop on that screen.

Last Thursday was “Back-to-School Night” at my school. It’s when parents and/or guardians come in for a Meet & Greet with the teachers. They visit all the classes in their child’s schedule and learn the gist of what each class (and teacher) is about. As frustrating as it is to come back to work at night after a long day, I usually don’tmind Back-to-School night. I find it fun to explain what I do, why I do it, and the basic day-to-day of my class. I usually leave with a big smile on my face and a pep in my step because I just got to explain my cherished Personal Philosophy of Teaching 6 times to parents that clearly take an interest in the lives of their children (at least enough to show up!).

This year, however, I was not looking forward to the occasion because of one parent in particular. He is the kind of parent that is not at all satisfied with his son, the teachers, the administrators, the world – I mean he has some serious issues. But it seems he has taken a particular disliking in me over the course the last few weeks. He’s made it clear in recent emails and rants that I am “a terrible teacher.” The words hurt – oh how they hurt – but I try and focus on the kids (and his son really is a good kid) and on the positive feedback I get so regularly.

Needless to say, however, I was worried about Thursday night. During the time-slot designated to Period 3 when I have the above-mentioned student, sure enough Mr. MeanGuy shows up. I go through my spiel and end with the following: “Since tonight is not a conference night, I cannot take the time to answer individual questions about your child’s performance, but please feel free to e-mail me with questions, or you can schedule an appointment through our Guidance Department for an after-school conference.” I said this same thing to each class of parents that night, as well as to any parent asking specific questions. The administrators of our school insist that we do not treat Back-to-School night as a time for conferences, and I willingly oblige.

It was following my very clear final statement and dismissal to the next “Period” that Mr. MeanGuy approached me. He is taller than I and thick like a line-backer – altogether pretty intimidating even before opening his mouth. And then he opened his mouth. He began pointing his finger in my face and accusing me of being unfair to his son. His accusations were not only false but very disrespectful – all in front of many other parents in my classroom. I felt like crawling into a hole and disappearing.

In the interest of being respectful and professional, I answered with the same not-a-conference-night statement I had just made. He didn’t accept right away, continuing to berate me right there in the front of the room. I insisted again that he’d have to schedule a conference and he finally left.

I can’t stop replaying the whole scene over and over again, trying to rewrite my part. What would the bad-ass me have said? How might I have laid into him with the searing words of the strongest females on the big and small screens? I’ll never know.

Life isn’t a movie. Things happen and we either work to overcome them or we don’t. Sure, it would be great to be able to write it all out, plan it to the tee and cook up some awesome one-liners in the process. But that would mean we’d know the ending – and what’s the fun in that?

A Hummingbird and a Bee

July 10, 2008

2:43 PM

Dear Diary,

I watched a hummingbird today – I am quite fascinated with them. They have wings that beat up to 4,000 times per minute and yet they do not always move quickly through the air. They pause. They wait. They hover, move backwards and even stop and stare. They are such amazing birds.

Two caught my eye as they flew together, playfully crashing into each other – Twitterpated. As high as they flew, and as far away as they could get, they were always drawn back to each other and to the flowers below.

Green Hummingbird

The one I watched was green, with droplets of blue that looked like he’d flown through a paint-ball fight. He was moving from flower to flower, pausing at each to drink the nectar from within. As I watched him, I listened to the gentle hum of his rapidly flapping wings and wondered what it would be like. What would it be like to soar away from all of this and just escape?

Then something happened. As the hummingbird drank from a tall purple flower, a honey bee flew by. The bee flew right up to that same cluster of flowers and went about its work. The hummingbird stopped drinking from the flower, hovered in mid-air…and watched.

For a moment I thought the hummingbird was upset – that at any second the bird was going to chase the bee away. Yet, how could I be so ridiculous? How human of me to think that such a beautiful creature would have those thoughts. The hummingbird simply went back to drinking the nectar from the flower beside the bee. Perhaps he knew that without the bee pollinating the flowers, there would not be any nectar to drink.

Hummingbird

And so I watched. I watched as a hummingbird and a bee spent time on the same flower. I wish my world could be like that.