It’s a good thing to have set up a writing community, especially on a digital platform.
Tonight, as I sat down to write my last Slice of Life post for the month of March, I heard a “ding.” My phone called out to let me know someone has written. Email? Text? No, it was a notice that one of my students had published a piece of writing. I guess technically, this student is no longer my student. He moved away back in December and returned to Argentina. It had only been a few weeks of learning to blog, during those small chunks of time available for it in the classroom. It didn’t seem to be enough time, but I guess it was.
For the past four months, this student has been writing to us from Argentina. He writes about his adventures, his frustrations, the good stuff, and the not so good stuff. The best part of his writing is that he always seems to end on a positive note, no matter the story. What a wonderful way to look at the world.
When he writes, he often reminds the class that he misses them. They miss him too. Together, they share what they like about their writing and it’s like he’s back in our classroom. He is not. And now, neither are his old classmates. The rest of the class had just a few more weeks of school. Now that they are all home, they are all missing each other. All of them.
The writing they now do has a raw feel to it, like it something they all must do. It's like they are now fighting for it.
Tenacious. Tenacious is the word I would use to describe my Argentinian student. Tonight, he published, “Things that you didn’t know about me.” As he writes about the unique qualities that make him who he is, his words challenge others―daring others to write deeper and stronger, from somewhere deep inside. It’s what happens in a writing community.
As I write this now, he has shared two more pieces of writing. There is something special about the way he writes. He blows in and out of languages like it holds little power over his ability to share a story. He doesn’t care if he conjugates well or not, and spelling, well, he does what he knows and trucks on. The heart and meaning in his stories tend to punch you in the gut as you read. Powerful. Colorful and filled with life. It’s beautiful. His writing flows like a waterfall. There’s no stopping it from coming.
He is brave when he writes. His bravery inspires his old writing community to write. Our community writes now more than before. They write from their own spaces, from their own little corners of the world, and from the heart. Then, they meet in one place. Our tiny digital writing community.
“Did you know…?” he writes. We didn’t know, so he tells us. There is so much we need to know and so, they write. Not all of them, but most of them. They write as if it’s all they have, at least it seems that way. It doesn’t matter if they are far or near, the writing seems to bring us close again. It connects us. It connects us from as far as Argentina to our now sheltered town in Texas. And what a perfect time for us all to come together.
Tonight, I am grateful to writing.
I love listening to words, especially when the words come from the mouths of the people who put them together just so. Sometimes, they unexpectedly come from the people you love. Some people make meaning from words in such ways when they speak. Words don’t carry much value when they come without heart. I think about the voices I’ve heard in my life, especially those that have made spaces nestled deep in my heart and mind. My mother, my father, my sister back home, there are voices that sit there until I call on them one at a time to come sit for a visit. Today, my sister Sandra sent me a text, just a message with the need to have words spoken out loud. I called to hear her voice tonight.
The words that she spoke were happy at first. She is so far away and I am here close,
so it’s nice to hear her voice every once in a while. Sometimes the voices you hear fill you with warmth and you don’t have to see the smile that is there.
As she talked, her voice became quiet and the rhythm slowed down, it kept moving down, down to a whisper. Sometimes the voices you hear can pull you close into silence and you don’t have to be told to shhhh…
As she threw me the sounds of her voice in the air, up high and above and over the airwaves, she waited for me to respond. Sometimes the voices you hear are like bright plastic beach balls that are thrown in the air to be caught and thrown back.
As she talked further, her voice came to a sudden surprise and she couldn’t believe what she couldn’t believe. Sometimes the voices you hear can be shocked in surprise and then seem to climb up and up 'til they stop.
As she shared her surprise, her voice came down low once again. It was low and climbed down, until there was nothing but quiet. Sometimes the voices you hear climb down low and sit quiet. Quiet is needed and it needs to be shared.
As she waited in silence, in quiet, just quiet, there suddenly seemed to be sounds with no words. Sometimes the voices you hear do not share any words, they make soft gentle sounds. And then all you can say is “it will be okay.”
After yesterday’s slice, I noticed that my writing goes in and out of the reality of living through this pandemic and the beautiful things that I am grateful to have in my life. Maybe it’s an automatic defense to write about something else. Or, maybe I just need a break from this pandemic every once in a while. I’m sure when this is all over and time has spaced out our lives now from what our lives will be in the future, it will be easier to understand why. Until then, I will give myself grace and freedom to move in and out of pandemic writing.
Last night, my family and I sat and watched our local KBTX news. We watched in silence as our city's mayor shared that he declared a state of emergency for our city. With a stern face, he proceeded to tell us that it has been clear that many people are not following the “shelter in place” guidelines, then went on to explain the seriousness of this time in our city. “This is serious…” he reminded us like he has done many times before in the last few days.
“We will begin enforcing… there will be a penalty of $1,000...” he finally announced. Today, The Washington Post reported, “ federal guidance urging social distancing will stay in place through April 30… Earlier in the day Anthony S. Fauci said the United States could record 100,000 to 200,000 deaths and millions of infections, according to current but rapidly evolving projections.”
I turned off the television, and walked out into my back yard.
In moments like these, I am grateful to have a backyard to escape to for a little while. If I need an escape or if I have had enough of my indoor environment, I walk outside. Outside, my mind can be distracted for a short while to repot a plant or two, pick up some leaves, or listen to the birds carry on with life as they have always known it. There is lots of healing one can do around the sounds of nature. Then there are trees―great big trees that are much too big to wrap your arms around. There is much healing that happens when your hands are deep in soil, gloveless. The animals… where did they all come from? There are hawks out hunting, dragonflies zooming by, squirrels that challenge you to a staring competition from a far, and caterpillars are everywhere this time of year. I finished off my time picking up a few caterpillars to move them away from walking areas, so they have a chance to live.
Tomorrow, I will seek another news update. This afternoon, I enjoyed the time outside breathing fresh air and soaking in the warmth of sunlight.
Tonight I plan to bake. It’s late I know, but it’s Saturday and it’s been a while since I've put on my baker's hat.
These last couple years, my time in the kitchen has not been my top priority. My children are grown, my husband’s a great cook, and my teaching responsibilities just keep growing.
At 1:00 PM today, I meet with my class... most of my class. Today was my first time leading a Zoom session. There was just so much to set up, I didn't think about how it would all make me feel.
In yesterday's #SOL20 post, I narrowed my focus down to two questions. When I shared them
The list grew and grew, as I sat at my dining room table and jotted down all of the things I thought I needed to let my students know when we met online. One single video meeting took more prep work than I expected, much more that I really needed. It was going to be our first video meeting and I had no idea how many of my students would show up.
Yesterday, our community was placed on “shelter in place” orders, and we went out to make one important visit.
“Stop!” I held my hand up like a stop sign. “You have to stay away… We have to keep our distance,” I clarified. I felt the lump in my throat grow and I swallowed. I carried the blue canvas bag towards the grass, slid it off my left shoulder, and gently placed it on the grass. He stood there the whole time—watching, waiting, and clutching his hands together. It was an uncommon event. We don’t usually greet this way. He was so excited to see me when I stepped out of my car. He ran towards me and I had to stop him. I could see that he probably wanted to hug me.
The other day, I looked outside my kitchen window into my back yard and noticed my tiny crate mertle standing lifeless.
"They're just playing, mom," my son assured me. I disagreed. Birds do not play fight. So, I decided to separate my sweet little birds.
I've had parakeets most of my life. There are a few things I know about them. I know that parakeets enjoy making noise. It would be a better description to say that when they are really happy, they like to scream. They like to talk, when they hear us talk, argue when we argue, and eat, when they see us eat. They're just funny that way. Lately, I noticed the screaming and hollering were a bit different. In these past few weeks, I found myself checking on them during the day, especially when they are outside.