10 Things I learned this week

1. Trying to keep the attention of 30+ students when my classroom is 84 degrees is an exercise in futility. By the end of the day, we all feel like we’ve been through a car wash and just want to lie down and softly moan in our heat exhaustion induced hallucinations. Thank you, kids, for playing along as well as you did.

2. Michigan’s way forward might just be with John O’Korn and not Wilton Speight. From one offensive touchdown last week to four this week, Harbaugh has some decisions to make during the bye week. Make the right one, Coach.

3. The word “leader” is just a title. Being a leader involves much more. If you have to scream, intimidate, and belittle those around you, you are not a leader, sir. You are an asshole. And I’m not afraid of you anymore. Bring it.

4. It doesn’t matter what the Lions do, the universe just doesn’t want them to succeed. This time it isn’t the fault of poor drafting, poor coaching or poor management, it’s just that Lion fans are doomed to watch the Super Bowl outside in the bitter cold for all eternity. All. Eternity.

5. I run slow, I walk a lot, I sweat buckets and have a bum back and hip. But I never regret going. Even when my awesome hubby has to pick me up because I just can’t go any farther. 

6. Sigh… Despite the fact that she hasn’t really grown since the fourth grade, my little girl is maturing into a responsible young adult. She is capable, confident and a force to be reckoned with. I’m so proud of her and happy for her, and eager to see who she becomes. But it’s bittersweet. If I start weeping over baby pictures, call someone.

7. I really shouldn’t be allowed in grocery stores. I was using the self-checkout, because, you know– people– and after being told for the sixth time to “place the item in the bagging area,” by that annoying robot voice, I said (maybe loudly), “I DID, bitch!” Apparently, the guy who supervises that area takes his job way too seriously, because he paused while opening the bags for the next customer and gave me the look of death. I think I’m banned now, but I haven’t been back to check.

8. I’ve confirmed that one of my biggest fears is disappointing others. This came back into focus as my students ranked the books they want to read, and I ordered 15 books online so no student had to resort to their third choice. $150 later, it’s all good.

9. When people loot in protest, critics say, “Why can’t they protest peacefully? Violence solves nothing,” but when people protest peacefully, the most hateful, venomous vitriol is spewed toward them for being unamerican. What gives?

10. My mental health has been really good lately. And part of it is because I just stopped giving certain people any power over me. At this point in time, I think I’m a good teacher, mom, wife and friend. And, right now, I’m good for me. It could change tomorrow, but this feeling is unfamiliar enough that I recognize it and am grateful for it. Thank you.

Summer’s sunset

Yesterday was the perfect day. 

I sailed through Meijer without rushing, without a deadline. Every item I needed was in stock and when I went to check out, no one was in line. 

I ran three miles around the neighborhood feeling joy in the fact that I could. 

I walked my dog, I sat outside, I counted the many bikes in the driveway and I listened to my kids and their friends laughing.

I wish it could always be like this. 

But it can’t, because next week I will be back to work again and the kids will be in school. 

And I will have a really hard time with it. 

I don’t like change, even if it’s one that I know is coming. I suddenly start panicking about how we’ll get laundry done. How we’ll fit homework and practice and yard work and housework all into just evenings and weekends. 

And my kids!!!

This was a glorious summer, I have to admit. Hang in there if you’ve got younger ones, and if your kids are older, don’t worry— I am not taking this summer for granted. 

They were old enough to ride around the neighborhood without supervision, and I’m fortunate enough to live in a true village that watches out for everyone’s kids. Some days I had a house full, while other days it was oddly quiet. 

I completed projects, read, took naps, read some more and stalked @dog_rates. 

And all was right with the world. 

But now it’s back to real life. 

To setting the alarm for 5am.

To packing lunches the night before.

To choosing my clothes for the next day.

To carrying loads of papers home to grade during baseball practices and gymnastics meets. 

To talking to my husband more through text than face to face. 

To giving exhausted ‘Good nights’ and brief goodnight kisses.

To seeing my kids for only a few hours each day. 

Every year I whine and ask Bill if I really have to go back to work. And it’s not that I hate what I do, I love it. 

But I also love this:

And this:


And I love it more than I will ever love anything else in my life. 

So if I’m a little out of sorts and weepy for the next couple of weeks, it’s just because I’m not ready to give up the summer. 

Not just yet. 

Anxiety overload

My chest is tight. My brain is in hyperdrive. My thoughts are scattered. I thought I was doing ok, but now I’m not.

That’s how anxiety works. I can be completely fine, then one thing will happen that triggers an attack. And I don’t want to scare my kids or lose myself completely, so it’s all kept inside.

Writing this is my outlet.

And it’s all over something stupid, inane and everyday. 

There have been utility workers parked in front of my house digging holes, marking lines and burying cigarette butts in my yard. All. Week. Long. 

I tried to alleviate it by trying to see the humor in it. So I posted this:


And called it “Fiber Optic Phallus.”

Today I came home to this:


More holes and more strange men. 

I opened the back door to let Ginger out and heard two men discussing the sign our neighbor posted about her dog. She got the idea because I put up a similar sign. See, a short time ago, a dog in my city was shot and killed by a utility worker for barking at the stranger in her yard. Doing what dogs do. So I put up this sign:


It sounded like these guys were making fun of it, so I went outside with Ginger. 

Since then, my neighbor has called the foreman and she called me. I was standing by the window talking to her when one worker spotted me. He said something to his buddy and he then looked at me too.

And now my paranoia and anxiety are peaking. I had wanted to clean the basement, but all my anxiety demons are protesting. “What if someone comes in? You won’t hear them. There’s no escape in the basement.”

I’m afraid to let my kids ride their bikes. Afraid of what these strangers might say or do. I’m afraid to let my dog out on her own. What if they do something to her out of spite because I put up a sign to protect her? What if one of them sees me use the garage code and records it to come back later? If I complain, will one of them take revenge? On me? My kids? My dog?

I’m afraid of talking to them. I’m afraid of not talking to them. I don’t want to seem too friendly or too bitchy. 

It is isolating and confining and terrible and suffocating and frightening to feel this way. 

And it’s not rational or logical or sane to think this way. I KNOW that. But my brain sometimes fights logic and reason with the unknowns of ‘what if?’

Sorry, there’s no real end to this post, because the feelings are there and raw. I’m going to make some tea and check on the kids. And maybe try and find refuge away from my brain.

I fucking hate this, but writing it feels better. Thanks.

Perimenopause can go perifuckitself

Sometimes I catch myself reminiscing about how insecure I was when I was in my twenties and thirties. I was so concerned about meeting someone, trying to be someone people liked, and worrying about impressing people.

And then suddenly I had this confidence. I felt good about myself. I didn’t care what people thought. I did things I wanted to do and put myself before everyone else.

Damn that was a great week.

And then things just kind of started to fall apart. My body decided that this contentment just could not last, so it threw me a curveball that I’ve been trying to hit ever since.

Fuck hormones.

Or come back? Is it that the hormones are leaving me?
So they’re all packing their bags and moving out? FINE. You’re too good for me now? Good luck in the REAL world. Motherfuckers.

Since they’ve abandoned me, my metabolism seems to be doing some kind of Benjamin Button bullshit where it’s peaked and is now in reverse. Eventually I’ll be like that purple little bitch in Willy Wonka and need a crane to lift me, but I think that’s at least a few years off.

I have some jiggle in the middle, top to my muffin and junk in my trunk but I’M WORKING ON IT and BEAUTY’S ON THE INSIDE or some bullshit like that.

But on the inside I’m one hot mess (and not like an “I woke up like this” sexy Instagram mess. Seriously, look in my ear. There’s caution tape) and I feel like Sybil with her 16 different personalities. Except the goal there was to integrate them all into one, and then I heard the entire thing was fake, and I don’t think my selves could all get along anyway because I hate some of those bitches with a passion. Plus, 16 is a lot to keep track of and I can’t even remember what I had for lunch (something completely cage free, organic and free range, of course).

*picks half melted chocolate chip off of shirt and eats it*

But these have become the most prevalent ones, or at least the ones I can describe while my attention lasts.

Crazy cleaning lady

Where the hell did SHE come from? It’s like she’s nesting for the day she gives birth to the old lady within. My housekeeping style is more akin to “recently looted” than “white glove” and she pisses everyone off. Papers are tossed in the garbage along with anything else that might be on the floor (sorry, Spot). She switches a load of laundry and suddenly notices all of the lint and dust everywhere. And she MUST clean it. NOW! She gets overwhelmed because then she sees more dirt and more piles and then gives up and becomes…

Crazy crying lady

She’s not much fun either. Sometimes she’s just mopey, but other times she’s full on waterworks. She cries because she’s fat, cries because she’s sad, cries because the moon is full and it just looks so beautiful. She can’t watch Ice Age because she cries when the wooly mammoth remembers his parents getting killed by the stupid humans. She’s doesn’t accomplish much, and she uses all the tissues. Right now she doesn’t hang around long, but I have a feeling she might try and move in for a more permanent position. Last time she left her copy of The Notebook (blech). 

The Bitch

In all honesty, I kind of like her. She says shit I would never say (ok, I would) but she has no regrets about doing it. She’s crass and confident and sometimes hopes a fight breaks out so she has an excuse to kick some ass. She is my best running partner because she can get the energy out and will tear any motherfucker apart who tries to mess with her.

I have to watch her though because her idea of “perceived threat” is sometimes that the kid taking her order (at the cage free, organic, free range) drive thru who didn’t tell her to have a great day. She’s a little combustible.

Crazy non-sleeping lady and Crazy anxiety lady (The twins)

The twins and I have been acquainted for a long time now, although I’ve known Crazy Anxiety lady longer. I didn’t even know she HAD a twin until she made me meet her in the middle of the night once. They both drive me nuts. They work together to give me intrusive thoughts and spiraling negativity.

Like one weekend, I was on an awesome getaway with two friends. We all went into a store. One friend got a phone call about a sick family member, but was off the line by the time I was finishing my purchase. So I went outside to wait for them. And waited. And waited. 

The vision of my friend breaking down jarred my brain. I could see her being consoled by my other friend, sobbing that she just wanted to go home. Maybe even saying she regretted coming in the first place.

I instantly started calculating what time we could be on the road, what time we would get home, did I have to get gas… but maybe she would want to leave early the next day, so what time should I set the alarm, where would be a good place to drive through for coffee in the morning, factor in traffic, what time would we get home…

And then they walked out laughing.

Turns out they were flirting with the guy inside.

The twins laughed and laughed and laughed at me and I flipped them both off.

Crazy IDGAF lady (the kids’ favorite)

Now she is fun, and I like her in small doses. She wears her pajamas all day, throws her ratty hair into an equally ratty bun and doesn’t shower. She says yes to just about everything because she’s too tired/ stressed/ weak/ indifferent to care. Can we get the Simpsons movie? Sure. Can we have Belgian waffles for lunch? Sure. Can we shave the cat? Knock yourselves out.

She plays lots of iPad games and doesn’t clean anything up. She takes naps wherever she wants because she can. I do have to rein her in sometimes because, you know, “child protective services” and “employment” but she’s totally cool and irresponsible.

Now, WebMD— which I’m not supposed to read anymore per doctor’s instructions— tells me that this glorious phase of life could last two to TEN YEARS. What the fuck? How is that considered an acceptable time frame? Imagine if pregnancy was treated that way.

“When am I due?”

“Could be nine months to nine years.”

*ball punches husband*

See? How is that even acceptable? If this keeps on for YEARS, then I may need those fucking corporate function get to know you name tags. “Hello, my name is ___________” and just fill in the blank every day. Or hour. 

So yes, the “change” is starting, the “golden years” are approaching, and there’s a whole new set of commercials and products dedicated to my “condition.” 

But I hate euphemisisms. 

I prefer, “I’m fucked.”

I am just about over “mental illness”

I am a huge proponent of erasing the stigmas associated with mental illness. Lord knows, I deal with three of them on an almost constant basis— PTSD, GAD and MDD. And I am glad for the strides society has made in being aware of mental illnesses and treating them as seriously as they deserve.

But there’s one thing that’s still pissing me off.

Journalists and other media personnel insist on keeping mental illness as an abstract noun by saying things like, “He suffered from mental illness,” and these abstractions lead to negative stereotypes.

A journal article by John Coverdale, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (2002) revealed the following findings:

After cutting all articles regarding mental health or illness over a four week period, out of 562 articles, 61.3% related mental illness to “danger to others” and 47.3% connected mental illness to “criminality.” Positive associations of mental illness only occurred in 27% of the articles. 

Finally, 47% of the articles used the phrase “mental illness” as a generic term, failing to identify the specific illness.

This generic phrase needs to be eliminated.

You see, if I’m sick and you ask me if I’m feeling ok, I would never think to respond, “Not really. You see, I’m suffering from a physical illness,” and if I did, it would sound dramatic if all I was dealing with was the common cold. 

When you’ve been off work sick for a few days and people ask, “What was wrong?” They don’t want a generic answer. They want to know— was it strep? The flu? Bronchitis? Were you throwing up? How bad was it? And no one feels ashamed to say what, specifically, was wrong.

So why the ambiguous “mental illness”? 

And I’m not real comfortable with the “suffering from” phrase either. To me, that gives the illness power over the individual. Like you’re at the mercy of your illness and thus “suffer” from it. 

Anyone who has a mental illness diagnosis understands that you aren’t always “suffering.” Sometimes you are dealing with it, sometimes you are living with it, sometimes you are suffocated by it, but you’re still here, so you are definitely not a victim of it.

I “have” mental illness sounds off as well. I don’t possess it, but it sometimes feels like it possesses me. It’s not necessarily a descriptor (at least I don’t like to think it is) like I “have” blue eyes. 

So my preferred verb is “deal” in the present progressive tense— “I am dealing with mental illness.” Or, for my post partum depression, the past perfect tense seems most accurate— “I have dealt with PPD.”

Let’s not be scared to actually name what it is people are dealing with. I am dealing with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. If we are really going to embrace mental illness as a real issue, then we ought to be concrete and eliminate the guesswork.

“He suffered from mental illness” reveals nothing, and only evokes extreme images of someone who is out of control and dangerous to those who don’t understand the intricacies.

Call it what it is, so that people may learn more, stigmas may be blurred and those dealing with them may be understood.

People fear what they don’t know or understand. 

So let people know.

INSOMNIA

Ahh, the sounds of 1am. 

And 2am.

And 3am.

Yep, nothing but that toilet that runs every so often.

These nights suck. Not always while they’re happening. I mean they do when I’m working and I count the hours until my alarm is going to go off, but during the summer they don’t suck as much. They will, of course, as the sun finally rises and I finally feel tired enough to sleep.

Sometimes it’s my brain that keeps whirring, and sometimes I have no idea why I can’t sleep. Last night wasn’t completely my fault though because this was happening at 3:30:


This was after a bout of ear scratching and subsequent panting. And then she rolled onto my shoulder, but it was kind of ok because I have these knots that never get worked out and I’m pretty sure my scapula was separated from my body and the stretch felt hurtful, but in a good way.

So I kind of gave up and turned on HGTV to watch a couple that looked like they had just rolled out of bed and spoke like they both dropped out in 6th grade– “Like, I dunno, babe. Which one do you like?”– who apparently have 4 million dollars to spend on a private island off the coast of Florida. And I’m not trying to judge, but I’m kinda cranky with no sleep and really? 4 million dollars? On a vacation home/ island? And then I got pissed off at them because they picked one that didn’t have a causeway so you had to take a 10 minute boat ride to get there and, I mean, who DOES THAT? Like how did they get all their precious knick knacks out there (which I assume consist of gold lions or some other ostentatious shit).

So then I started thinking more about how stupid it was. Like where does it go when you flush? I pictured this giant septic tank under the sand, and then I started rooting against these people hoping a tropical storm– not hurricane because I’m not a total bitch– would erode the sand and break the tank and the island would be covered in rich people shit and shreds of gold leaf toilet paper which I’m sure they use to wipe their asses. Or maybe the butler does that for them.

But then there was an episode of a gal from Chicago who was defying cultural norms and moving to Guam to see the world and be a pharmacist (two things that seem anomalous in my sleep-deprived head, but whatever. Pharmacists just don’t generally seem to be the exploring adventurous type, but maybe it’s because I’m not part of the pharmacist inner circle.)

Anyway, she went with her sister to pick out a house and honestly, after seeing the views, I wanted to move to Guam. And then I got a little weepy because she was part of an Indian family where you really don’t leave home until you’re married, but she wanted to be independent and live her life and that made me think of Sandra Cisneros’s “The Storyteller” where she described the EXACT SAME THING and I was all like, You go girl! And crying for this unknown woman to make it as a pharmacist in paradise and fulfill her dreams.

And I hugged Ginger and scratched Fiona behind the ears (since she determined that my stomach was now the place to curl up and take a nice cat bath) and I realized that I was never, ever going to get any sleep tonight, and that since it was now 5am I could just pretend that I was just getting up and try and trick myself that I actually slept.

But I wrote this, and that’s (kind of?) productive and now Ginger is acting like I kept her up all night because she begrudgingly followed me downstairs and now looks like this:


Poor baby.

I’m SO introverted…

When I first discovered I was more of an introvert and proclaimed this to my friends, they laughed. And I don’t blame them because I have known them for more than half my life and it takes me that long to get comfortable enough to be myself. 

When I only know people for say, 20 years, I don’t know the boundaries. Can I call you my bitch and you won’t be offended? Can I make blow job jokes? Can I say “fuck” in front of you? 

These are the tough questions. And these are also why I tend to avoid people so as to save as many awkward silences as possible. 

True confessions:

1. I sometimes hide upstairs in my bedroom to cuddle cats while my kids have their friends over. 

2. I have turned my classroom light off and locked my door on my prep to avoid socializing. 

3. I have gone to Bikram yoga just to have 90 minutes of silence. 

4. I skipped my kickboxing classes two summers ago and went to Starbucks to read instead. To hide it, I still wore my workout clothes. 

5. I am writing this while in the middle of a splash park with my kids so I look busy and unapproachable. 

6. I have gotten migraines just because I was stressed about going out that night. 

7. I used to travel alone once a year just to recharge and be anonymous. Glorious Saugatuck weekends in the off season. 

8. I only started running so I could have alone time. I am super slow and don’t care. 

9. I have lied about having plans rather than go out. But in my defense, sleeping is a plan. 

10. I always want to drive so I have an escape. And control. 

11. When the doorbell rings, I have crouched down and crawled like a ninja in my own home to avoid detection. 

12. I will put off making phone calls for weeks to avoid talking to strangers. This is partly why I am now 19 months late for my mammogram. 

13. I drink just about every time I finish a post because otherwise I’d never be able to let others read these. Tonight’s delight is a Bloody Mary with a beer chaser. 

I enjoy company and friends, just not all the time. I wish I was the “cool” house where I entertained endlessly and hosted large barbecues and dinner parties, but it’s just not in my DNA. I’d have to sleep for a week after to recharge. 

So maybe in another 22 years, we’ll be good like that. I’ll make dick jokes and you’ll laugh, I’ll call the other team’s coach a douchebag and you’ll nod in agreement, and I’ll make pussy jokes while petting my cat. Until then, I’ll keep it strictly professional. 

I promise. 

Top 10 things I can do now that school’s out

There are all kinds of lists out there for teachers, and some of mine have a lot in common with them. Teaching is a bizarre profession with a lot of misconceptions, so it can be difficult for people to understand the ramifications of making thousands of decisions quickly on a daily basis. 

Summer “off” isn’t really just a two and a half month alcohol binge, although there is plenty of that. We NEED the time off to decompress, recharge and rejuvenate so we can do it all again with enthusiasm next September.

And as I finally emerge from the numbness associated with the end of the school year, this is what I’m looking forward to:

1. Being able to use the restroom whenever I need to.

No joke. This one makes a lot of lists for good reason. Four years of college and a Master’s and I still have to ask permission to go to the restroom during a class period. And before you ask why not go between classes, well, duh. However, kids tend to stick around and ask questions after class, or kids walk in as the bell rings to ask questions before class, or you have that class from hell that you can’t walk away from for a single second. At one point during testing, there was no one to relieve me so I could relieve myself and I was desperately texting for someone to help me out. I’m looking into Depends for next year.

2. No more lunch packing.

I HATE packing lunches. My kids’ as well as my own. The building temperature varies day to day, so I might pack comfort food, but then the heat is blasting and there’s no way last night’s meatloaf is even close to appealing. Or pack a cold sandwich when the wind seeps through the cracks around the windows and all I want is soup. 

3. Eating lunch (and every other meal) whenever I damn well feel like it.

Breakfast? Maybe. Scarfed at 7:15 before first hour. At work my lunch is at 10:15. As in one hour and 45 minutes before noon. Do I really want lunch food at this time? Not really. When school gets out at 2:40 I’m starving. It’s just longtime AARP members and teachers who are clamoring for dinner at 4:30. 

4. Drinking because I want to, not because I… um… have to.

Ok, that makes me sound like I have a problem, and I do. Sometimes these kids and parents and administration drive me up the fucking WALL! So yes, I will plan to have a drink after school. I will look forward to it like a nomad in the desert looks forward to an oasis. Sometimes it’s a “You made it through the week!” celebratory drink, and others times it a “I need to forget this fucking day even happened” drink. 

5. Not having to see THAT class anymore.

There’s always one class, one kid, one parent, whatever, that constantly gives you hives and nightmares. In my case, this year, it was THAT class. Not everyone was bad in that class, but the group of a-holes was big enough the affect what we were doing every single day. I had multiple seating charts, multiple activities, and multiple migraines. And of course, this is the one class that had 36 students and every one of them showed up every fucking day. Some because they were court appointed to do so. It will take me every part of the summer to forget those bastards and regain hope again.

6. No more endless, pointless, meetings.

I realize this is true in most professions. The word “meeting” is synonymous with “time you won’t get back.” In education, they seem to always take the last Professional Development day to go through an insane amount of training about a process you won’t see or think about again for the next several months. This year it was how to use data from ability tests that were given in the FALL. Excellent. I’ll make sure to apply that when next year’s students test, but by then we’ll give a completely different test.

7. Putting on the “face” every morning.

This is hard because I don’t mind putting on the “face” usually, but over the course of the school year it gets absofuckinglutely exhausting. The “face” is one of patience, understanding, empathy, compassion, humor and focus. I know I have to project that on a daily basis in order to do my job well, but there are only so many stories I can take about why your homework isn’t done (again), how cute your kitten is after seeing the 500th picture, what you saw on YouTube last night about 9/11 being a hoax, or listening to you explain your dreams for going to UM when it’s your second time in 10th grade English. By May, IDGAF and I won’t be able to fake that I do. I will pretend again in September.

8. Reading what I want to read, not what I have to read.

Some are classics. I will never tire of Macbeth and all the current references that play offers. Or discussing “Dog Lab” with my AP students. But Romanticism? Blech. Pastoral poetry? Yawn. “I would make you a belt of straw”? No thanks. Have dinner ready when I get home and maybe we’ll talk. And just because I’m an English teacher, it doesn’t mean I have read every single piece of literature out there including every recent book published. Summer is to give my brain a break and read mindless drivel until I regain some sanity. What am I reading right now? The Harry Potter series. For about the tenth time.

9. The alarm. At 5am. 

There is nothing worse than being up late at night, waking in the middle of the night, or just going to bed at a decent time knowing that your alarm will go off in just a few hours. It’s awful. I envy the people who are able to work out before heading to work, and I hate that I NEVER get to see my own kids until after work. Of course, alarms will be set for certain things, but if I’m up too early I can always…

10. NAP!

I love naps. I will choose sleep over food. The freedom of being able to say, “I’m going upstairs to lie down for a while” seriously makes life worth living. Ginger and the cats oblige me and it’s just the three of us falling asleep to Flea Market Flip. Best part? NO ALARM! I might wake in one hour or three. And it will always be glorious!

Sometimes I hate my job, but I absolutely love what I do. The summer is time for me to erase some of the worry lines, re-discover my genuine laughter, let loose and recharge. I cherish every summer with my own kids to slow things down a little. 

And now it’s time for a cocktail. Cheers!

I just want to pee and run in peace. And not necessarily in that order.

This week I was driving home from work when four police cars came flying down the road, lights and sirens going crazy. Moments later three MORE police cars whizzed past.

Earlier that day, I sat with my pre-student teacher and the lone junior left in my anthropology class and the subject turned to the harassment of women by men, as it does when you have more than one female in a room.

One young lady recounted her visits to a donut shop where the manager would joke that she was his child bride. 

He was in his 50s.

She was 12.

He would give her free donuts and make the joke again and again. 

Hilarious! Hard to believe he was selling donuts and not making HBO specials.

The other young lady recounted her tale of being asked to help a man jump start his motorcycle. She sat in her car while he arranged the jumper cables, but she made sure to slide her pepper spray out and have her phone in ready emergency mode.

He didn’t make a pass. In this case he really needed a jump for his motorcycle. It wasn’t a euphemism.

So of course, that opened the very girly conversation about the merits of different pepper sprays. Mist? Gel? Foam? 

Yeah, this is what the ladies discuss. Ways to jack yo man ass up if needed.

After that we painted our nails and talked about The Bachelorette. 

Not really.

On Monday, I took Derek to baseball practice at a local state park and decided to relish  in the peace of the trails. But before, I had to pee.

As all women do, I surveyed the parking lot beforehand and noticed two gents and a young lady with her dog. I noted details of the men, like what they looked like and what they were wearing and what cars they were driving. Because this is what women have to do in order to survive.

As I walked to the restroom, the story was immediately in my head. Of another young woman who dared to pee while on a run.

Seattle jogger Kelly Herron was four miles into her run when she stopped in a public restroom for a break. As she told ABC News, “As I was drying my hands I became aware that something was wrong,” and turned around to see a man who had been hiding in one of the stalls. “He immediately took me down to the ground, hit both my knees and legs, and then it was a fight on the bathroom floor and I just kept screaming, ‘not today motherf****r,’” which she referred to as a sort of “battle cry.”

During the attack, it occurred to her “this doesn’t have to be a fair fight,” which is when her self-defense training kicked into gear. “All those little things that I learned in my life … how to punch and everything came back to me,” she told ABC. “I started to feel like I was going to lose consciousness … but I got another surge of adrenaline and I reached for the door and was able to get out.” In the class she took just three weeks before, “I learned, hit with hard bones to soft fleshy places so I just started hitting the side of his head.”

She is the badass I want to emulate. But I would just say “motherfucker” without all the asterisks.

I’m uncouth like that.

So, I entered the stall, sat, and suddenly heard a door bang.

Was it this restroom or the men’s next door? No clicks of paws. One of the men? Another door shut, this time on the other side of me.

So, like all women, I instantly tensed and prepared for a fight. I peered through the crack in the door while I pulled up my pants. Without turning I reached behind me to flush. I burst through the door looking both ways quickly, and then as normal women and Avengers do, I kept my eyes on the closed stall door while I washed my hands.

Once outside, I, of course, felt ridiculous. 

Ha ha ha… I thought I might get attacked… silly me! So dramatic. So overly sensitive. So a woman who is under constant scrutiny from men who view her as an object to be overpowered…

I did my trail, but kept my eyes and ears open. Watched the shadows. Checked out rustles in the foliage. Made eye contact with everyone who passed. 

And I finished. Relaxed, but not as relaxed as I should have been. 

Oh right. Those police cars with their sirens blaring?

 A 47-year-old man is in custody after a woman was nearly sexually assaulted Tuesday while jogging in the Oakwoods Metropark but fought her attacker off in Huron Township.

Darien Noel Fickling, of Romulus, is charged with kidnapping, robbery, assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct and assault with intent to commit great bodily harm.

According to police, a 26-year-old woman was jogging alone on a bike trail at about 3 p.m. when a man attacked her from behind and hit her in the face multiple times. She was knocked to the ground.

The attacker told he “was going to kill her” and attempted to sexually assault her, police said.

The woman was able to fight the man off and ran away. During the assault, the man stole the woman’s cell phone.

What. The. Fuck.

I just want to run. And pee. In peace. To get some peace. 

Maybe we need penis-free parks. 

Or this is maybe a business opportunity for running bodyguards. But the bodyguards would also have to be penis-free, because that would defeat the whole purpose. 

Or I could market running shirts that say, “SCREAMING CASE OF HERPES. MANY OPEN SORES. STAY AWAY, MOTHERFUCKERS!”

That probably won’t be enough, though.

What pepper spray was that again?

It’s never a weekend off

I just couldn’t stop thinking last night.

And that happens a lot, and to a lot of people. Worries, obligations, to-do lists, revisiting the day– all of these keep us awake from time to time, or even many nights a week.

Last night was different though, because I couldn’t stop thinking about him.

He’s a student in my class, an overachiever, a pleasant kid with a quiet disposition. Many would have good things to say about him– hard working, cooperative, responsible.

But he’s hurting.

A couple of weeks ago he missed a few days. No big deal, but I noticed. And when he returned, my kidding around was met with a harsh edge of abrupt responses.

But things improved and I didn’t think any more about it. Until he missed a couple more days about a week ago.

Yesterday I had a rare opportunity. The seniors were gone so I had two hours at the end of the day to work and get caught up. 

He came to see me about a missing assignment, and since I didn’t have a class, I asked if he wanted to just work on it there so I could answer any questions. 

We both worked, he asked an occasional question, and the mood was calm and serene. During this time, another student came in to turn in a project and she commented on the lone student. 

“Aww, poor you! You’re all by yourself in here!” she said.

“It’s ok. I don’t mind being alone. Some people don’t like it, but I do. Sometimes it’s good to be alone.” 

After working most of the hour, making small talk, he finally said, “Did I tell you why I was gone?” And the way the question was asked, it was clear that he knew he hadn’t. It was clear that this was a question posed as a means to share something important. It was clear that he had been struggling with how to approach this.

“No, what’s up?”

He shared that a good friend had recently passed away. An older friend who had just finished his first year of college. It was sudden. There was no time to say good-bye, no time to say how much the friendship meant, no time to prepare. 

He shared that he always went through a mini-depression this time of year, and he had already been dealing with that, and then this happened.

He shared that he went into a tailspin, and had taken a couple of days off to recuperate. He was looking forward to the end of the year to rest and decompress after a stressful year of hard classes, standardized tests and the general pressures of being a teen. 

I never take it lightly when a student confides in me. Never.

I offered condolences and empathy. I asked how he was doing now. I emphasized self-care and said I’d check in with him after the weekend.

And now I’ve been up all night. Piecing the absences and demeanor together. Developing a timeline of events. Questioning what I said. Wondering what I should have said. Replaying the conversation over and over. Planning conversations for next week. Hoping I didn’t say anything damaging.

It’s a holiday weekend. Three days to relax and hang out and rejuvenate.

And I’ll allow myself to do that.

But he’ll be on my mind.
*Some details have been changed to protect the identity of this individual.