Final Slice Pressure Slice Day 31

There’s always a bit of pressure on the final “Slide of Life” day. Like, shouldn’t I be writing something profound? Shouldn’t I be contemplating something learned over the last month? I’ve been trying to piece something together that sounds sincere and learned, but I’ve come up with nothing.

Instead, I’ve listened to the sad sound of my neighbors’ dumpster being filled all day. The neighbors are moving, and we will miss them. The sound is just a constant auditory reminder of our loss, of a happy chapter of our lives that will soon be ending.

And maybe that’s it. Maybe each year the “Slice of Life” is also a chapter of our lives. Each year, we write this one chapter, and the importance of what we’ve done–of what we’ve learned–won’t occur to us until later. This year in particular, I’ve enjoyed reading some slices from previous years. I was a different person the first year I wrote this blog, and it’s fun to see who I was and reflect on how I’ve changed, on what I’ve learned.

In the future, I will reread this year’s posts. I wonder who future me will be.

Unfulfilled Slice day 30

I have spent the last year as locked down as I have been able. Had it been my choice, I would have been locked down completely. But that whole job thing got in the way. Still, I have severely limited my contact with the public, so that when I had to go to the store, I went very early in the morning or very late in the evening when I knew the store would be nearly empty.

Because of my concern for safety, I have not been in Marshalls or TJ Maxx in just over a year. It was hard to admit, but shopping at these stores was not essential. A sad truth.

Today, I am more than two weeks post my second vaccine, and I am also desperately needing some wardrobe additions in anticipation of going back to teaching all of my students in person all of the time. I decided it was time. Today, I would go to Marshalls.

I made a list: new shoes, a new purse, a few pairs of pants, two or three shirts, and two or three sweaters. Knowing how hit or miss things can be at Marshalls, I knew that I would probably not be able to get all the things on my list, but I was still excited. It felt like I was visiting an old friend.

Because I accidentally spent almost $400 at Target, I remind myself to be mindful of what I am spending. I would need to keep a running count of prices as I add each item to my cart.

And then, suddenly, I am through the door and inside of Marshalls.

I go first to the Easter decor section. I know that I had none of these items—wreaths, napkins, stuffed animals, bunny pillows–on my list, but who can resist cute Easter stuff? Finding nothing of great interest, I turn toward the first stop on my planned trip through the store–the shoe section. I try on a few pairs, eye a few more, but I find nothing. That happens a lot, though, because the shoe section at Marshalls can be really hit or miss, so I move on to my second destination: purses. After moving through the purse section twice, I have found nothing. I go through one more time because I’m sure I have missed the perfect purse. But, no. I don’t even find a “good enough” purse. Still purchaseless, I move to the clothing racks. Again after again, I am disappointed. There is not one pair or pants, or one sweater, or even a freaking shirt in this entire store than appeals to me.

And then it occurs to me—I may very well be leaving this store without buying anything. That has never happened before, so I quickly peruse the the clothing section again. Still, I find nothing.

And so, for the first time in my entire life, I walked out of Marshalls without buying anything. I did not even know that was possible.

Memories Slice day 29

I spent the first part of my childhood growing up in a small town. You know, the kind of place where everybody knows everybody and so you can’t get away with anything without your mom being immediately called. It was a big relief when we moved to a big, anonymous, suburb.

Anyway, because small town Kansas was such a large part of my childhood, I stay connected with it through a Facebook page for people who grew up there. No one would be surprised to know that none of my friends actually stayed in that small town. Instead, they moved to giant cities–places where they actually have a McDonald’s.

In spite of the fact that I rather loathed small town life, there are several small and happy memories that I still carry with me from that era. One of the happiest is the memory of a pair of halter tops I had when I was four years old. My teenage babysitter had made for me, and, you guys, those halter tops were AMAZING! One was light blue (that was my favorite of the two) and the other was white. They both had small Disney character patterns. They tied around the back at a level just above my skinny four year old waist, and–here’s the best part–around the neck with a piece of rope.

I’m totally underselling these halter tops. I guess I should explain that it was not a tie up your hostage type of robe, but the kind that are fashioned on tote bags that your well-meaning grandma might purchase for you thinking they’d make a great beach tote.

Anyway, today the former teen babysitter (She’s now a grandmother, but no word on whether or not she has purchased one of those bags for a grandchild) made a comment on a post on the Facebook page, and I realized it was her. I had discovered the maker of the world’s most amazing halter top(s)!

I quickly tagged her in a comment, asking if she was, truly, the tank top creator. And, you guys, it hurts me to say this but….but… she said she doesn’t remember! I will quote her, “I sewed a lot, so it might have been me.” That’s it? She doesn’t remember? It doesn’t seem possible.

I took a look at her picture again, and I wondered if she’s now at an age where her memories have started slipping. That must be it. It’s the only thing that could possibly explain how she’s not sure if she made those amazing tops.

I was so devastated, that I lamented my story to my 17 year old daughter. “Wow, I’d like one of those tops,” she said. “Does she still sew?”

I’d ask her, but in her obviously altered mental state, it’s probably best to just let things be.


Painful Truth Slice day 28

Sometimes it’s hard to accept the truth, to admit to it, to state what is truly happening. Even when that truth is clearly what it is. Even if when that truth is staring you in the face.

But sometimes the truth is not what you want it to be. Sometimes you hoped that this truth would not happen. Sometimes what you want to be true is the opposite of what the truth really is.

Sometimes life really is this hard.

But today I am finally going to state it—the real truth—what is really happening. And here it is… Michigan basketball is an excellent team, the best in the Big Ten, and stands a good chance at winning the tournament.

There, I said it. And I’m just as sad as I was before I admitted this truth.

Important Plans Slice day 27

Today is my first day of spring break! I finished and finalized my grades this morning, and then the rest of the day was mine to do whatever I wanted!

I have spent the entire day watching Netflix. It has been a real learning experience. There are two important lessons that I’m glad to have learned over the past several hours.

One is that I really need to buy a new purse.

The second lesson is a super important one. I learned it from watching the highly intelligent but somewhat misguided folks on several Netflix series. It is this—find a good bar. You know, a neighborhood place where you can go at any time and hang out with all sorts charming, erudite, and downright hospitable folks. All the answers to life’s biggest questions can, apparently, be discovered while drinking an alcoholic drink and having casual conversations with your fellow bar folk.

And if you’re facing an incredible life decision, then you should know that every bartender is pretty much a spirit guide.

As soon as I feel safe (covid wise) to do so, I’m finding myself a good bar. Until then, I guess I’ll settle for a nice purse.

No good deed Slice day 26

Last Sunday, we took our dogs to the arboretum for a morning hike. It was perfect, and lovely, and we all left happy and agreeing that a walk in the woods was preferable to our urban sidewalks, and that we’d go again as soon as we were able.

As an added bonus, our 11 year old lab, Molly, and our lab puppy, Ruby slept the whole way home and most of the rest of the day.

Tonight, 5 days later, my husband found a tick on Molly. Through the glory of information found on the internet, we were able to quickly and deftly remove the offending insect. Now, also through the glory of information found on the internet, we will be obsessed with watching our dog for signs of Lyme disease.

And our puppy, Ruby? She’s upset because of all the attention the other dog is getting.

Maybe we’ll stick to the sidewalk from now on.

Questioning… Slice Day 25

Each day during hybrid and remote learning, I have started my classes with a daily question as a way of taking attendance. It was something I overheard one of my daughter’s teachers doing one day, and I thought it seemed like a lot more fun that a simple roll call. Besides, it seemed like a good way to get to know the kids. It has turned out to be a great way to not only get to know our kids, but for our kids to get to know one another.

At first, it was easy to come up with questions.

What’s your favorite animal? What do you like to eat for dessert? Where do you like to go on vacations? How many pets do you have? What did you have for breakfast today?

Eventually, I began asking more obscure questions.

What’s a word that describes you that starts with the same letter as your name? If you could have any type of car, what would it be? Would you rather live in a mansion or live in a tiny home with an unlimited amount of money to spend on travel? If you were to go to McDonlald’s right now, what would you order?

Sometimes, I got desperate and asked boring questions.

Do you prefer to write with a pen or a pencil? What’s your favorite color? I even asked what the kids’ favorite type of pie was—twice.

Eventually, I felt like it was about time to get rid of the daily question. I told my co-teacher that we’d retire the idea of asking daily questions once we were back 100% face to face. “Oh, you can’t do that,” she told me. “I tried to skip in the other day when you were absent and the kids were very upset about it.”

Still, I was stumped for ideas. The daily question’s days were definitely numbered.

And then this week, I told my students in my first period class that I couldn’t come up with a question for the day. “I think I’m giving up,” I said.

Without missing a beat, a nearby student suggested a question. “Ask what everyone’s brand is,” he said.

I wasn’t sure if I exactly understood, but I asked the students, anyway. And, guess what, the students all knew what it meant. It turned out to be one of the more popular questions I’ve asked this year–the students were all eager to answer, and it was fun to hear what they had to say.

The next day , I asked the students if anyone had a question I could use. “What hybrid animal would everyone make?” a student enthusiastically suggested. So, I used that question. It went even better than the previous day’s question had gone.

So, the daily questions will continue. And now, everyone is happy. Especially me.

In the Spotlight Slice day 24

Every week, our dean puts together a newsletter for our students. Each week, a teacher is spotlighted. He has almost run out of teachers to spotlight. That became obvious this week when he sent me an email asking if I’d be the spotlight teacher of the week.

I told him that I didn’t think I could really do it, since there’s nothing about me that the kids don’t already know. (I talk a lot) He reassured me that it would be okay if I made something up. So, I did.

Presenting…this week’s spotlight teacher:

And now my dean is reminded of why he waited so long before name me spotlight teacher.

P.S. The cat had a great day.

Where I’m from Slice day 23

This is my college roommate. She now does sessions were she communicates with your pets, and helps you to understand their needs. People hire her to solve problems with their pets. I wonder if she’ll give me a discount, because my puppy is a terror.

Megan was one of my roommates at Colorado State, and most of my memories from that time are happy ones. Now, I am saddened and angered and, frankly, terrified by the events that took place near our rival school in Boulder yesterday. Even more so because the man who walked into a grocery store and murdered ten people, terrorizing many more, graduated from my own high school.

I remember a Colorado of happiness, of caring people, of a laid back, carefree existence. When I speak to old friends from Colorado, or when I see pictures of the places I remember, or BBC when I hear mention of Colorado, I warmly remember the place I am from.

But I can’t pretend not to notice the change. I can’t pretend that the horrible acts of violence that took place in a high school, and a movie theater, and now a grocery store haven’t happened. That these nightmare events haven’t changed the culture of Colorado in my mind. That safe and perfect place of my memories has been destroyed.

I’m afraid that where I’m from doesn’t exist anymore.

Perfect afternoon Slice day 22

The sun is casting its bright warm beam across the living room. My cat is happily perched in the window, his attention fully focused on some birds in my neighbor’s tree. My dozing dogs take up separate spaces on the floor.

My daughter, having spent a rare in-person day at school, contentedly wanders across the entryway floor. “Are we taking the dogs for a walk later?” She asks, and she nods her approval when I tell her we will be.

I a few minutes I will have to start thinking about what we will eat for dinner. Later tonight I will need to get my things ready for tomorrow. And I really should be doing some laundry. But those are all worries for later.

Because, for just this moment, I am going to relax and enjoy this perfect afternoon.