Scissors, Tape, and the twisted path to having a great day.
Scissors was the black one and Tape was the brown one. Both were fuzzy baby gerbils that came home with us in a cardboard box from a strip mall Petco on a frozen Sunday in January.
My daughter, who was five, had saved up eighty-six grubby dollar bills in a jar on her dresser, which was just enough to bring home two gerbils and an accessory-filled cage. …
While also eating a sandwich.
To be fair, nobody told me I had to pump breast milk in the men’s bathroom.
Originally, the principal of my school (a man, of course) suggested that I use the nurse’s office as my pumping station when I came back to work after my daughter was born.
On my first day back, that’s what I did. I locked the door, got out my little black bag, and connected the tubes and hoses. …
The first time I saw a placenta, I was about three years old. It was on the ground in a field and a cow was eating it. It was a red, gelatinous mass and the cow was lapping at it like a kid licks frosting off a birthday cake.
When you grow up on a farm, you experience the big life events, like birth, sex, and death differently than other people. I used to go to the slaughterhouse with my mom and color on the butcher paper with crayons while she wrapped our steaks and roasts. …
Even the toughest helmet can’t protect you from everything.
If cities are made of blocks, suburbs are made of loops. The house I live in with my husband and our kids is at the end of a cul-de-sac that connects to a half-mile loop of pavement. In the decade we’ve lived here, we’ve covered the loop thousands of times.
At first, it was just with our dog for daily walks. Then our daughter was born we graduated to a stroller and then a red Radio Flyer wagon. …
What’s the worst smell you can think of? Skunk? Brussels sprouts? Sour milk?
For me, it was a mixture of Coca-Cola, coffee, Gatorade, and rotting bones. The smell was so pungent it clung to my hair and clothes for hours after the air had cleared. I was a student teacher in a regional high school in Vermont, and I had asked my students to do an experiment on bone density. They each chose a liquid to soak a chicken bone in for a week.
I knew the acidic liquids would leach the calcium out of the bones and make them…
My failed social experiment taught me not to dabble in social experiments anymore.
When I was younger and braver, I left my job teaching at a regular public school to join forces with a few other rogue teachers and open a charter high school. We wanted to create a community-based school where students were valued for their individuality and creativity.
It is very easy to plan a perfect school. All you have to do is figure out what you want your school to be like, type it on a google doc, and you’re ready to go.
It is very hard…
Today was my thirtieth first day of school. My high school students, still only on their tenth or eleventh first day of school, arrived with a mixture of excitement, fear, uncertainty, and hormones. Some wore ripped jeans, retro band t-shirts, and combat boots. Some had new monogrammed backpacks, loafers, and high, tight haircuts. They wore dresses, sweatpants, and a wild array of hair colors.
Oh — and they all wore facemasks.
It’s 2021, and returning to school this year feels different. It feels like a triumph, a farce, a political token. It feels like a relief, but one that may…
It’s common, but it’s not inevitable.
I’ve been texting with my friend over a breakup this week (yes, this friend).
It’s sad because at first, he was crazy about this woman and certain they’d be together forever — or at least long enough to buy matching holiday sweaters. But they started arguing about something stupid and that led to fighting and then they were circling the drain. He ended things to avoid months of drama he was sure would ensue if they stayed together.
We texted about whether it’s healthy for a couple to start fighting in the first few…
No, he didn’t try it. He just learned that it existed.
My parents are both healthy and alive, but they’re also old enough that a phone call at a strange time quickens my pulse.
My dad called me during the middle of the day last week. He works at a college and I work at a high school, so neither one of us is usually free to make personal calls. But when his number popped up, I had a few free minutes. I gulped and answered.
No greeting, he just got right into it: “Yeah, Em, have you ever heard…
A glimpse inside the strange world of obscure college classes.
First, sorry to disappoint you right off the bat, but I don’t actually have a writing career. Aside from some damn fine letters asking for my parking tickets to be forgiven and the writing I do here, I’m almost 40 and I haven’t written anything of note. No novels, no blogs, no self-published Amazon bestsellers.
Maybe one day, though, that will change. Is it possible I’ll wake up with the next great American novel bursting from my fingertips? Probably not.