Third grade

February 24, 2012

I was up at 4:30 this morning. That’s a little earlier than usual, but I do like to wake up before dawn. I need an hour of unscheduled time in the mornings before I do anything else. Usually I spend that hour drinking coffee outside in the darkness, looking at the moon and the stars, talking myself down from my various disasters and anxieties. Once I put my thoughts in all their right places, I am ready to wake up the children and start our day.

Some morning sessions are stressful. Sometimes they start in bed, and I spend most of the morning talking myself out of bed.

This morning was a particularly helpful morning, though. As the twenty threads of thought wound themselves around each other, I caught a passing thought and brought it into focus. It was a thought that surprised me, and I had to spend some time examining it more closely.

“At least she’s almost safe, we’re almost there,” I had thought to myself.


“She” is my youngest daughter, who will turn nine years old this coming summer. And pretty soon, she will be safe from the Horrendous Things that happen to little girls.

Her age is important to this thought process. She is in third grade. She is 8. Horrendous Things happened to me when I was in third grade, things so Horrendous that I have spent decades erasing the memories.

And that might explain some of my responses to the life stressors from the last few years in my life.

2009 was a big year. It started with a job loss that ended my career as a librarian. My health was seriously compromised in a dramatic fashion. And also my father died. That was three years ago. I’d like to say that I’m picking up the pieces now, but in actuality the pieces are still falling. I have developed an arsenal of skills to cope and have found love and peace in delightful places with extraordinary people. But I have also been isolating my daughters and myself from the world that can and will harm us.

Significantly, my oldest daughter entered third grade in 2009.

I have spent the last three years fiercely protecting myself and my children. I didn’t need to do it like that. But that’s ok. I have hope for the future.

La Vaquita 2/7/2012

February 17, 2012

Getting lost in Durham, looking for La Vaquita, which turns out to be a drive-up roadside taco place. We order through a window and eat on benches. There are still payphones on the edges of parking lots, in the corners where weeds grow and cigarette butts and bottlecaps collect.