The preparation always throws us for a loop. The clutter needs to be put away and yet it never seems to have a proper home. Still, the surfaces are clear which makes my heart happy.
The humans put my favorite toys away.
As soon as the door opens at the end of my longest day of the week, the clean hit me in the face. It’s glorious.
All of my smells are wiped away, how will the others know I own it?
There is not a speck of hair on the couch nor in the corners of the stairs. Might only last a couple hours, but still.
She STOLE my fur. How DARE she?!
The food is not scattered all over and sits neatly in a pile inside the bowl.
I LIKE TO EAT OFF THE FLOOR!
The floor feels different, all the beds are made, the bathroom sparkles, and the sink shines.
Yeah, I don’t care bout those. Carry on.
There is always a couple of furry beasts, making peace for a hot second, to greet me at the door.
Thank God you’re home. You’ve been gone FOREVER!! Now open the front door so I can guard the house properly/watch the squirrels.
Cleaning day is the best worst day.
Poemy Monday the Second
A Child Unfinished
Her newborn days,
when she became real
and healed our broken hearts.
Her toddler days,
when her personality grew
and we sprinted to keep up.
Her little kid days,
when she faced too much loss
and taught us how to reach to heaven.
Her big kid days,
when she started to hone in
and began to crack our mirror image.
Her bigger kid days,
when she dabbled in the arts
and blew us away when she soared.
Her preteen days,
when she got some snark as tall as she
and we couldn’t appreciate it more.
She remains a child unfinished.
She’s growing into those long legs and that snark.
She’s traveling on her own road and inviting us along .
Her future is so vast,
and our love always will be too.
That cabinet above the sink, the one my husband swears is just lying in wait to get him, is almost empty again today. I assure him that he is safe until at least Wednesday.
This cabinet is basically a rent free space for the fraction of my mother’s Tupperware collection that sleeps over at our house each week. She’s not happy unless she’s feeding people and I’m not happy if I need to create my own meals. So a match made in heaven has been created since I moved out about 20 years ago.
Every time I go to her house I bring empties whose contents have been devoured. Every time I come home from her house I bring yummies for my tummies. It’s a wonderful system we’ve concocted here.
In between the great container migration though, that cabinet is a bit of harrowing ground in our kitchen. The balancing act is almost always precariously perched. I keep telling him that he’s just gotta live on the edge for a few days before I gather them all to go home.
There’s delicious food at stake here.
16 years equals quite a few nights. Quite a few nights I’ve had a persnickety and touchy Siamese cat on one side of my head as I sleep. She somehow lost some of her persnickety quotient at night and even would snuggle in to my side and occasionally would rest her head on my elbow. There was a time when she would only lay on the side I was facing. There was one night she was locked in the bathroom post surgery. There was another loud and painful night she was locked in the basement to avoid her injuring the other cat at the time. As she’s gotten older and has since chosen my eleven year old as her human, she is more hit or miss when it comes to her nighttime abode.
Which is how I’ve recently been getting a face of nighttime floof. It’s how I’ve been woken by what I thought was snoring and turned out to be a motorcycle motor installed in my cat. The little orange dynamo always sleeps at our feet as the queen feline had decreed. Unless my inability to sleep meets his purring machine and I embarrassingly bang my feet one time too many and he jumps down. He is an enterprising little bugger and without the boss of the house present, he sneaks right up without us knowing and I roll over in the middle of the night to find my face full of fluffy orange tail.
I’ve gotten kind of used to it and we’ve reached an agreement where I can tuck his tail out the way and he agrees to just stay asleep. But queens have a tendency to be a bit difficult. There is not a schedule or agreement in place. So last night a war of epic proportions seemed to be waging whilst I slept. I went to bed alone. I woke to the announcing persnickety walking across my head to get to her spot. Then I woke up later to floof. Then I rolled over to Persnickety. Then floof. At one point I was victim to a claustrophobic stalemate and had one on each side. Ultimately floof won and was curled up between our heads.
Not sure what tonight will bring. As I wake up I am alone, and floof is downstairs begging for an open door. Persnickety is in the office waiting for her human to wake up. Probably oblivious to the chaos she is causing by not staying to a schedule. Or nefariously planning his demise. It’s a delicate balance.
It is ridiculously ostentatious.And I don’t care one bit. It’s extravagant. And I don’t care one bit. Okay, maybe I do a little bit. I still sigh every time I see it in our living room. It’s an oh my goodness kind of sigh. It was a Christmas gift in lieu of a vacation or tickets to any of the non existent events in our pandemic times. It makes my book loving, hermit life craving, comfy cozy seeking heart sing. It was all I ever wished for: A lovesac. If you know, you know. If you don’t, then think of the softest cocoon you can sink into with a blanket that has FOOT POCKETS while resting your feet on the SQUATOMMON. I can’t make this stuff up.
So yeah, it is huge and takes up a lot of space but it’s the best spot to do some reading and some watching of tv and some napping. Especially the napping. But that is not even the best part. The best part of this addition to our house is the chatting. You see, this mecca of comfort not only calls to me, it calls to my mirror image hermit eleven year old practically an adult only child daughter. She comes out of her hole in the office where she lives talking to friends and working on her art and cultivating her island (again, if you know, you know). And when she heads down she doesn’t mind at all coming to hang with me on the softest of soft spots.
Which leads to some of my most favorite moments of this year. I am getting to know my daughter as she navigates this adolescent disaster that is becoming a teenager. This daughter who is so much like me and yet has shattered that mirror image becoming her own amazing person. We talk honestly, we share snarkyness, we talk about friends, we tell stories, we ask questions, we uncover worries. We chat and giggle and sometimes tear up and almost always tease. We build up a respectful repertoire of inside jokes. We kind of drive her dad insane. It is glorious. It is at times ridiculously ostentatious and it grows my heart each and every time it happens.
Death by booger snots. That’s really what started the thoughts for this slice. Something said to me that is not at all mine to discuss and yet all I can think about is slicing it up for day 4 of this challenge. I feel as though I need to have some type of warning system installed in myself. Be it a slot in my arm that shoots out release forms or a sign installed above my head that has one of those ticker tape messages scrolling by: “full disclosure- what you say to me just now may end up in a slice later- you’ve been warned.”
Sometimes lines you hear just stick to you and take root and fester and grow under your skin. They need an outlet, and this month especially that outlet is so quickly through my fingers to my keyboard. It’s really a conundrum. Sometimes the lines are a type of private news that you’re sworn to secrecy about. Sometimes they are something so ridiculous and hilarious you need to share them with the world. Sometimes you just have some genius snark to expand upon it. Sometimes it’s something that crushes you and putting some of that out into the world lightens your crushed to smithereens heart. Sometimes it is just a cool, small, not stop you in your tracks, but makes you pause for a hot second thing that you want to record.
This time the sheer obnoxiousness of the phrase that started this all is hilarious when told to me by a dramatic child with a stuffy nose.
It’s a snarky phrase that very well may have been said to my snarky self one day. Surely I could find my demise brought on by booger snots.
It invokes pure fear and dread when in some insane version of reality, it is a god damn possibility.
Darkly humorous humor makes many extremely uncomfortable. If you ever had dealt with chronic pain, terminal illness, or are Wednesday Adams, that dark humor can get you through. You just have to be careful whose ears are listening to you. That’s the problem with me- it’s said and I can’t help but want to write about it. Macabre humor comes my way and I dreadfully record it for posterity.
So fair warning if my future slice topics revolve around my cat and my kid since no one else will cross my path after reading my full disclosure statement. And maybe say a prayer for all those affected by murderous booger snots.
I’m back in an office this year. The last time I had an office, I at least spent almost all of my time in classrooms, in the middle of groups of kids. This office carries a lot of heavy stuff. This office is close to the biggest kids and farthest from the little kids. Those big kids, I’m still getting used to them. The middle kids, those are my sweet spot. Until this year. This year, those littles, who I travel to the other side of the school for, are the best part of my day.
I get to greet them with smiling eyes and a joyful good morning as they come traipsing up to me to take their temperature. I get to make them laugh when I ask them if their noses are full of boogers. Some of these littles only know of this pandemic school world. Some of these littles are adjusting to this new pandemic school world. Their kindergarten world was full of discovery play and hands on activities at tables with friends. Things look differently now. And yet, I get to witness their sheer excitement and joy of seeing their teachers and heading into their classrooms.
If I happen over to their side of the building throughout the day and happen to catch a group in the hall, I get little waves and small hellos as they are bouncing about on our blue line markers to ensure social distancing. They are physically distant for sure, but I challenge you to tell me they are socially distant. These kids are making connections from six feet apart, have no doubt. Just listen for the chorus of joyful hellos when a classmate enters the room.
When it is time for dismissal of our youngest littles, I get to ask them about their day. It almost always is a great day. There was that one time when someone was “screwed” as he had lost a glove, but that was not even related to his wonderful day. Just a side note he needed to share. I tell you, walk down the hall between a line of kindergarteners at the end of their day, and you will get an energy boost like none other. They love school. They love their friends. They love their teachers. They love going to the library to get a book. They love seeing their at home friends online.
And I love them. They are the best part of my day.
On Facebook: “Ummmm, where is Stewie? We haven’t seen him in a long while!”
In the halls: “Mrs. Koehler, we saw Stewie in community today! How’s he doing?”
My child’s GRANDMOTHER: “Can I come over and see Stewie? I miss him.”
Meeting a neighbor: “Nice to meet you, can I ask you what the name of the orange cat is?”
I’m a pretty cool person I think. I mean, I’m most definitely an introverted, book loving, tv binging nerd at my core. But there’s a niche for that, no? Yet somehow, I have become an assistant to the feline celebrity in my midst. My duties include but are not limited to maintaining his glossy coat, tricking him into letting me brush him and work on his never ending mats, providing his favorite dollop of whipped cream, facilitating his torturing of the other cat, fluffing his favorite towel, and being on hand to open the door so he can greet his neighborhood fans apparently. I am constantly fielding requests and queries as to his well being. I’m forever behind the camera on my phone so as to catch the perfect shot that will appease his throngs of devotees. I swear I could be hobbling down the hall in a cast carrying my newly awarded Nobel Peace Prize and that orange floof would still get center stage in the conversation. Heck, even people who don’t like cats, like him. (you know who you are)
It started on FB because he really is that cute and troublesome. So a few pics turned into a Daily Stew (see what I did there?). This must have a shelf life, I said to myself. How much could people really tolerate my posts about my cat? I had a perfectly good child to post about. Well, it turns out VERY much. If I skipped some days, I might get a message or a post asking where he was. They miss him. Then someone mentions he would be great for our community feelings lessons we have each morning with students across the district. So why not? And that’s how Stewie became a district-wide feline celebrity. I met with a former student virtually the other day. A student I have not seen since last March and 2 minutes into the conversation he asks how the orange beast is doing. Everyone in his class that recognized him when he came across the screen a few months ago felt like a celebrity in their own right when they could excitedly yell, “That’s Stewie!”
So I need to break the news to my principal that I might be leaving one assistant position to take on another full time one. Or break the same news to Stewie? Tough call.
Some of the many faces of my Celebrity Stew. Which Stew are you today?
I can only attribute his success to the isolation of 2020.
That has to be it.
Poemy Monday, the First
A Challenge begun.
Intentions were hopeful,
and clickety clackety went the keys.
Ideas were flowing,
and clickety clack went the keys.
The world’s seams started to come undone,
and clickety clunk went the keys.
The writer was waning,
and click went the keys.
Intentions fell flat,
and the keys went dark.
A challenge left unfinished.
Welcome back to the Slice of Life Writing Challenge, I tell myself. It starts on a Monday so what better muscle flex for the writing soul than back to Poemy Mondays, I tell myself. Supporting each other is important, I tell myself. Doing this for me is important, I tell myself. So many years writing, I tell myself. This year is not last year, I tell myself. A lot has happened, I tell myself. Ideas are all around me, I tell myself. So here we go, I tell myself.
They flit through my head. I can grasp on to one with a tenuous grip and it just slips through. There’s no way to place it to flow through my fingers to the screen.
I can pick up the bound pages and hold them but the synapses in my reading brain do not seem able to connect, no matter how hard I try.
It began at the start of this new normal. It got to the point where I just threw my hands up and said, FINE. I will stop. So I stopped. I successfully tuned out the ideas flitting about and the books in my home made way for a remote learning classroom.
The new normal squashed any possibility for those things. They were replaced with creativity in teaching this new way, creativity in teaching fifth grade math standards I am nowhere near qualified to teach to my own kid, creativity in heartfelt connections to those we have been separated from. Our family of trois is tight and two of the trois are very introverted and happy with our own company.
Except we’re not. Turns out introverting in a time of crisis is like how at home learning is in no way like school. It’s crisis school. So, it’s crisis introverting. Someone recently told me I need to save myself from, well, myself.
So. We’re not okay.
Except there’s the kid that is doing all the Google work on paper and taking a pic to attach because he’s on his phone and it’s tricky.
Except there’s the giggles from Maddie as she video chats with a group of friends.
Except there’s the kid who is doing video responses for assignments because his phone is hard to work on. (Spoiler alert- it’s the same kid.)
Except I teach for a district who understands this unprecedented time calls for compassion and understanding and relationship building. Not workloads to break our back.
Except that I get daytime cat cuddles. Except I can sneak a kiss to the new work at home dad in the basement any time I want. Except I can go outside and take in a deep breath. Except it turns out I can be very silly on video, more so than in person.
So, we are not okay.
But, I know we will be.