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My maternal grandmother’s birthday is today.

For her memorial service, I wrote a eulogy.

Through the fragile archiving of technology, I lost the Word file. All I had was the paper it was typed on, and I couldn’t locate it for years.

I found it today, in a photo album, while searching for a decent photograph of myself. In my pursuit of vanity, I found her, one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen.

Here is what I wrote, and read with tears:


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Why is his skin so soggy?

I can’t speak another language. (Sometimes I wonder at my adroitness with English.)

Currently, I have a two students who are my teaching assistants during my planning time. Though this is not a full pretense, there is a subtext of who’s assisting whom. And once again, I am the benefactor.

The one student was sharing with me that she loves movies. I challenged her to find movies that were off the beaten path, movies that may have been foreign language award winners, or musicals, etc., from the past.  Long winding road – she discovered the trailer, all on her own, for Pan’s Labryinth. (No, she did not watch this, just the trailer; the movie is rated R).

Now, during our conversation, she tells me my Spanish is not so bad. (Is she joking? No, she’s being kind.) She had to coach me for five minutes on pronouncing La Llorana correctly; however, my self-consciousness is debilitating.

As she’s looking at the trailer, and becoming completely enchanted in the potentiality of the story, she asks, “Why is his skin so soggy?”


Soggy? What a great word.

My recommendation to her: ask her mother if it’s okay to rent it, watch it together, and enjoy the scary, sad magic. In any language.

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Get Smart: CIA, FBI, ATF, USAF, and me


By 10 AM this morning, my eyes were stinging on the car ride in, had a (hostile? thorny? confused?) audience regarding some reading instruction information, fielded students’ questions on ‘health’ (let’s just leave it at that), and the kicker:

“How do I join the army?”

(NO! I don’t want you to join the army! I want you to be safe, happy, healthy, never know war, fire, flames, or fatigues.)

Well, when you are 18, you can visit a recruiting office, and talk to them there…

“How do I join the CIA?”

Well, you need good grades for that, and a line of training…how about just join my secret ninja squad and we’ll fight zombies?

“What other things are there?”

Well, there’s the FBI, and the ATF, (explaining the acronyms), all kinds of local police, sheriff, etc. divisions, and Secret Service.

“What does ‘mercenary’ mean?”  (explanation given – soldier for hire, etc.)

(Student gets ready to leave, but needed to give some context to the discussion and to the work at hand…)

But…(student), do you know why you should do this assignment? Do you know how much analyzing of characters goes into FBI/CIA work? They are constantly analyzing human motivations, profiles, and personalities. This work is directly related to what you’re interested in…that’s right… LANGUAGE ARTS RULES!

Again, I am reminded it’s not up to me to dissuade or persuade per se, but to help them make the connections. If this student is on this path, I do know I want the best and brightest out there protecting us.

But I’m still holding out for zombie-fighting ninjas.

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Writers’ Wednesday: Wish I had written that…

Because heaven knows I need more challenges, every Wednesday I plan on posting a passage, quote, etc., that causes me writer’s admiration/jealousy. Trying to think of an acronym, but I’m out of ideas right now. WEAK? Writer’s Envy/Admiration Kills? WIHWT – Wish I Had Written That, or IWNBAGW (Winnabego?) I Will Never Be  a Great Writer, or INGOKMHWLM? (If Neil Gaiman only knew me he would love me?) but my favorite: WWJID? (What would John Irving Do?)

Okay: Sorry.

My WIHWT for today, from Holly Black’s Ironside:

“…an ice-covered lake stretching out from a bank just beyond the lip of the road. Mist shrouded the center of the lake from view. Dead trees rose from the water, as though there had once been a forest where the lake now stood. A forest of drowned trees. The fading light turned the trunks to gold.”