I'm writing this on my NEW laptop, sleek and efficient as a racehorse, outfitted with all these sexy new accoutrements, generously given to me and set up by my friend Robbie Strand. My friend Julia's sermon is chug-chugging out of the printer, I've got a cup of coffee at my elbow, sun is coming in through the window, and the world is looking pretty amazing. I'm in awe at what I've been given, the small and large acts of kindness people in my life do for me. It's humbling.
Last night I took my Little Sister out to get our nails done--her suggestion. She got a pedicure, I got a manicure, and had them put in these French tips which were supposed to look sexy but actually look ridiculous on my scrubby fingers. If I needed confirmation that the suburban Mafia housewife look doesn't really work for me, I've got it.
We went out for soggy pizza afterward. I think it's time to invite her over my house. Her old Big Sister, the woman who died, had had her over her house a bunch of times, and I think she felt it as a loss when I couldn't do that right away. I asked her some questions about her old Big Sister and she told me she missed her, and then that she didn't want to talk about it.
Last Friday was beautiful teaching third grade. Now that I've cut back on my teaching schedule, the actual time I am in the classroom with the kids feels precious. When I was doing it five days and hundreds of kids a week, it began to feel like a poetry factory--zip in, administer lesson, produce poems, zip out. Plus, I kept getting Death Flu all the time.
Now it's really a love-fest. I love third grade because they are such serious little intellectuals at that point, truly excited by ideas and discoveries. I was floored by some of the images that arose in their writing--one girl described a jaguar as having "a streak of permanent sunlight" on his fur; another said the eyes of her animal were "as black as fresh wet Chinese ink."
A little boy from Mongolia had dreamed about a big snake--that image became the driving force for our class-collaboration poem. This is a child who can't yet write English; he dictates his own poems and someone else scribes them. This time he shared not one but two poems: I read them out loud to the class while he stood beside me, his narrow little chest swelling with excitement.
The boy who told me he got called a fag last week smelled like cigarettes when I bent over his desk. It's on his clothes--someone smokes in the car when they drive him to school. He asked me, "Have you ever been shot?"
"No," I said. "Have you?"
He pointed to his head. "With a pellet gun."
"Man, I bet that hurt!"
"Yeah, it really hurt."
The little girl sitting in the next seat said, "You can't be shot in the head and still be alive." She was writing a poem about horses.
The boy said, "With a pellet gun you can." He has a blue shadow under his eye, that could be lack of sleep or a faded bruise. He asked, "Does a poem have to be true, or could it be fiction?"
The thing that is strikes me about the Anna Nicole Smith tragedy is the contents of her refrigerator. Nothing but Slimfast and Trimspa and methadone and some condiments. I think, what if she had had potatoes and onions and eggs and greens, and fruit and, you know, real food, instead of chemicals to eat?
There were years when I lived on Diet Coke and popcorn and "energy bars," God help me. Now I try to eat actual meals. I don't always succeed, but life is 100% better when I do. If I had a child I would feed him or her dinner foods for breakfast. Set them up each morning with a bowl of soup and a baked potato or some grilled cheese or something. How can you have a real life if you eat fake food?