Graffiti From the Passenger Side

#SOL18 Day Fourteen


I am rarely a passenger in the car.  I am usually the driver.

Last night I had the opportunity to be a rider.

There was so much to see as we traveled the expressway deep in the heart of Chicago.

What jumped out at me more than anything else was all the graffiti.

Graffiti under the overpass.

Graffiti under every overpass we drove through…for miles.

Defacement of private property, but still it was difficult not to appreciate.

I silently wondered, how and when were these drawings created?

Was it in the middle of the night?  That makes the most sense because I am positive that I have seen new pictures in the morning that were not there the night before.  This just led to more questions.

Wasn’t it dark?  How does one create those perfectly formed, billowy letters, and fill them in with such vivid colors in the dark of night?  If “they” (I’m not sure who “they” are) had any light shining on their work, wouldn’t they get caught?

I continued to ponder.

Could this person, this artist, have made a career out of their craft?  A legit career?  It made me sad to think that all of this talent was going to waste.  I couldn’t help it. The adult came out in me.

I finally stopped with the 20 questions and just took them all in, realizing I would not have this chance again any time soon.  I am always the driver.


What I Am is What I Am

#SOL18 Day Thirteen

slice-of-life_individualI struggled with my writing today so I scrolled through the pieces of my fellow writers.  You can read Katy Collins’ piece here.  I found my inspiration!

I am a daughter, sister, friend, educator

I keep my friends and family very close

I wish I never had to worry about poor health for anyone I love ever again

I love a beautiful sunrise and sunset equally

I sing pretty darned well…..I think

I wonder what our world will look like in 5 years, 10 years, 50 years

I think that I love to sleep late in the mornings, but when I get the chance I rarely do it

I need to stop looking at my phone so often.  I was told once that I handle my phone about every 4 minutes.  Yikes!

I should exercise more.  I come up with many excuses.

I can make people laugh pretty easily.  It’s something I finetuned as a little girl.  My family went through some tough times and it was my job to bring levity to the situation.

I like bread.  Too much.

I feel lucky to wake up every day.  I truly appreciate each day as a gift.

I make it a point to touch base with kids at least once a day at work.  I get mad at myself if I don’t make that happen.

I always say a prayer of thanks, each night before I close my eyes to sleep





Still Frothy After All These Years

#SOL18 Day Twelve


The smell of bacon wafted through the air as I tended to the skillet.  It was Sunday morning.  From behind me, I heard the battery-operated frother spinning.  Round and around it went, whipping the warmed milk into fluffy white peaks.  This used to be a holiday tradition that has now turned into an every-day tradition.  Some things deserve more than just 2 weeks a year.

“I put some more froth in my coffee”, I said.

“Oh was it warm enough?” she asked.

“Not really, but it’s still good.”

“Still frothy after all these years,” she quipped.

We broke into a rendition of “Still Crazy After All These Years” substituting frothy for crazy.

Coffee and singing.  I love Sunday mornings.




Never Broken

#SOL18 Day Eleven

slice-of-life_individual“Hey guys! How have you been? It’s been awhile!” She said, with the coffee pot in her hand.

Awhile…as in over 20 years, I’m thinking.

Twenty years ago we used to meet here every morning around 6:30 on our way to work. It had to be because otherwise, we might go days and days without seeing each other.

Because things were different.

We no longer carpooled to the same school anymore.

We no longer scheduled our 10:00 a.m. sesh with her students so they could share how they had been kind to one another that week.  We knew that kindness was there but it needed to be uncovered.  Our kids were in a cocoon in her classroom- once they left us they went back into a cruel, dangerous world.  We knew that the best way to show them we cared was by being there at their baseball games and knocking on their doors to reassure their parents that they were showing up at school as the responsible and hard-working people they raised them to be.

We no longer met up for lunch to update each other on the rest of the morning’s events where we served up much-needed laughs.  Dessert was punctuated with a dose of “go get ’em” and “show ’em how it’s done” for the afternoon to come.  Sometimes it felt like the two of us against everyone else in that building.  Our kids always came first.

We no longer had our endless after-school conversations lasting sometimes for hours, often in our principal’s office, our friend and mentor.  Unbeknownst to us, this threesome would carry through the next 30 years, and beyond, spanning two additional school districts.  The projects that would bring us together in our lifetime couldn’t have been imagined in that tiny office all those years ago.

We no longer had our “happy hour” at Giovanni’s or Chile’s (some days…both) after school.  This place where we would unwind after stressful, yet very happy days in my first school district.  Days where I was filled in on the ways of parents and how they would do anything for their children, including yelling and screaming at school personnel, if it meant getting their point across.  Days where I sat with other staff members and determined, from their language and behavior, who I identified with and who I did not.  It was in those days that my philosophy and beliefs were developed.  Lead with your heart, not your head.  They say that happens in college.  “They” are wrong.  It happens at happy hour.

I wasn’t sure how I would get through this.  All consumed with the things that we would no longer have.  With how different things would be.  What I didn’t know at that time, as I was quite young and unaccustomed to a relationship this strong, that the bond we forged would never be broken.

It would only grow stronger.



Ignored No More

#SOL18 Day Ten

slice-of-life_individualTheir names were Ruthie and Miss Oliver.

They wheeled themselves out into the hall every day.

Their will to be with others was strong.

I looked forward to seeing them, and I dreaded seeing them.

They were sweet old ladies and they were sad women who lived in a nursing home.

They had very few visitors.  Even on Christmas.

One day I brought a radio.  I found an outlet near the nurse’s station where their chairs sat.  Turning on that music was like turning on a switch in their foggy minds.

“I feel like I could stand up right now and just dance”, Ruthie said wistfully.

Miss Oliver smiled and closed her eyes.

She was already “dancing.”

I close my own eyes now and I see these two women.

Women who matter.  Who seem to be cast aside.

Women who will wheel themselves into your presence so they will be ignored no more.

God Bless you, Ruthie and Miss Oliver.

Someone Threw My Bananas Away

#SOL18 Day Nine

slice-of-life_individualSince my mom has been home from the hospital she has had a few live-in caregivers.  I never thought she would adapt as well as she has to this situation.  I am now realizing that the adjustment for the rest of us has been a surprising challenge.

My mom broke her leg at the end of October and since that time very little has stayed the same.  We went from a routine that was familiar and comfortable to one where every day was unpredictable.  Before the break, I went to work each day and, unless I had something going after work, would come home, change clothes and head down the hall to visit with my mom.  I stayed for 30-45 minutes and then made my way back down the hallway.  She would make her own dinner and take care of all bedtime rituals by herself.  She always called me at 7:50 (to the minute) to say goodnight.

While my mom was in the hospital and rehab I continued to walk down the hall to her place.  I dreaded opening that door as I knew I wouldn’t find her sitting on the couch waiting to greet me.  I tried to avoid looking in the direction of her bedroom – the bed always looking exactly the same as the previous 65 days – untouched.  I quickly did what I had to do there, wash her clothes from the day before, grab clean pants and t-shirts for the new day and outta there.  This was my new routine.  I was very excited for “normalcy” to return.

It turns out that normalcy has taken some time to take hold.

The second and third night my mom was home we had a caregiver who came recommended by a friend.  Kanykei was nice and quite young.  She seemed to have different ideas about many things – religion, eating habits, how much she liked this job….She left after the second day and decided not to return.

The fifth through the seventh days we had another new caregiver.  She was the daughter of our door person in the condo where we live.  Ericka was very kind and soft-spoken, but not trained for this line of work.  She knew she was temporary because I already had a permanent person lined up to start in ten days. Lorrie was currently in Florida but agreed to take the position when she returned from Florida.  Ericka seemed to have different ideas about many things – eating habits, priorities of communication, how much she was paid….She left the job three days early.

The seventh through the twelfth night we had another new caregiver.  It was my older sister.  She lives 25 miles south of our condo, has to take the train to my mom’s and has a few dogs at home.  Melissa dropped everything and committed to the six nights until Lorrie could come live permanently with my mom.  It wasn’t easy being sequestered in a two-bedroom condo for that length of time, taking care of someone who is dependent on you for every need.  Melissa was very happy when Lorrie arrived on the thirteenth day – she went home to her dogs knowing that she was a good daughter.

The thirteenth through day fifty-one, and counting, my mom is on her fourth caregiver.  These thirty-eight days have been as close to “normal” as ever.  I believe that Lorrie genuinely cares for my mom.  The adjustment has mainly been for myself and my sister – having a second person living in my mom’s condo.  Lorrie loves to cook and so she has reorganized the cupboards to meet her needs.  Sometimes it’s a challenge for us to find a measuring cup or raisins for my mom’s oatmeal.  Sometimes her bananas get inadvertently thrown away.  Lorrie loves certain T.V. shows and, as a result, many new things have shown up on my mom’s DVD player.  Sometimes it’s a challenge for us to find our “mom” shows like Seinfeld and Chopped because they’ve been bumped/erased.  Lorrie loves to stay active and so she gets a little stir crazy if she hasn’t been outside enough.  Sometimes she goes for short walks in the building or outside.  Lorrie told me yesterday that in order to maintain her peace of mind she needs the weekends off….

Cue up additional adjustments to be made.  We can all be a little flexible when it comes to the well-being of my mom.

what i believe

#SOL18 – Day Eight

slice-of-life_individualFashioned after Jacque Woodson’s “What i believe” from Brown Girl Dreaming, page 317

I believe that work is as important as play

I believe in my long curly hair and my friend’s cropped cut

I believe in liberal and rules

I believe in children and having none

I believe in being there for my mother and stealing away for alone time

I believe that anger can rise and we can listen

I believe that books are made to be held and my Kindle

I believe that there are good people in the world and others who are hurting

I believe in classical, jazz, pop, folk and rap music

I believe in green and red


I believe that humans can be complex and simple

This is what i believe