Category Archives: Slice of Life

The Tone?

Part of Slice of Life Writing at Two Writing Teachers


I wake up, have coffee, get ready, wake up the boys, take the dog out, pack my bag and then finally focus my brain for school on the drive to our first day In Service.

“I need a song that will set the tone for the year,” I think
or maybe I say
to myself as I press shuffle.
“Whatever song comes on, that’s going to be it! .”

I laugh when This Year starts to play.
The Mountain Goats were recommended by John and Hank Green on Dear Hank and John and they mentioned this very song because of this very chorus.

I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me
I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me

It’s not quite the mood I was looking for to start off the 2022-2023 school year, so I skip to the next song.

Lizzo sings

That’s exactly how I feel
That’s exactly how I feel
That’s
exactly
how
I
feel

I skip again, and again, and again.
All great music, from Allman Brothers’ Soulshine to Baby Tate’s I am. But I start to wonder if maybe this year deserves it’s own morning playlist. Or, should I just keep listening to Hidden Bodies on Audible?

Pool Time

Part of Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers

2:30
Clouds
Sun
It’s hot
Clouds
Sun
It’s hot
Let’s go to granny’s pool

3:30
Hot Sun
Cold Ice pops
Boys!
Please stop wrestling in the pool
Feel that sun?
Soak up that Vitamin D!

4:00
Boogie boards, destined for the beach
are tables in the pool for
A cut throat game of
Waterproof cards
Draw 4
The color is Blue
Uno

5:00
Suddenly the clouds disappear
It’s just sun and blue sky
The water is the perfect temperature
It’s time to go
But I’m just going to float for a little longer
Soaking up the warmth
Like Frederick


The Social Order

Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers! Thanks for stopping by.

This summer, I’m living in a nature documentary, waiting to hear Morgan Freeman or Sir David Attenborough narrate our life with our new kitten, Clyde.

Please do your best to read this slice of documentary narration in Morgan Freeman’s or Sir David Attenborough’s voice.

Hey! It’s a choose your own narrator slice! How might you narrate a part of your summer?

“Upstairs in his private den, the new baby practices his hunting skills. Watch as he perseveres against all odds.”

“As Clyde rests in his den, the cats and dog go about their daily routines, perhaps sensing a shift in the wind.”

“Soon it is time to introduce the animals to each other. In the wilds of the first floor, the cats and dog work to create their own social order.”

“The young kitten is brave. Maybe braver than he should be.”

“While wary of the newcomer, the fluffiest member of the family instinctively watches out for the baby. He even puts himself between the dog and the kitten when necessary. His sister is not so quick to protect. She wants to live her own life and starts lowly growling if Clyde comes too close.

The older cats will share their food, but, so that nobody is confused, they will still guard their sleeping habitat with all their heart.”

“The cats are working it out, but over here you see this 55 pound dog who is trying hard, but still unsure of what to do. He knows he isn’t supposed to fixate on the new kitten, but he’s curious. He wants to play, but he’s also afraid. Only time will tell. Will they will become friends, or simply creatures that cohabitate?”

“Listen for the sounds of the social order being created: The low growl of warning from a cat high up in their tree; the warning hiss from one cat to the another; the frightened hiss of a young tailless kitten; the whine of confused dog; the wagging of a tail; the crunching of food shared among the felines.”

“These sounds tell the real tale of this non-traditional animal family. We can only be but silent observers of the majestic dance of these household pets.”

Landline

Part of Slice of Life with Two Writing Teachers. Thanks for stopping by!

I need to tell you about calling the cable company.

Why would I call the cable company? That’s a level of adulting I don’t usually stoop to. But, I live in a neighborhood cut out of a forest. My Wi-Fi and cell service are terrible. It’s somewhat of a joke, a terrible nuisance, and the cause of a bit of anxiety…The dropped calls, the “Can you hear me how’s” are getting old. So I finally agreed to call and set up a landline, for emergencies.

I’ll spare you the details of the automated voice answering, the way I had to press buttons and answer a kind robot’s questions and be on hold for awhile before finally getting to a real person.

I was curious and confused, and I also just needed a landline added. But the pricing system didn’t make any sense, and it seemed like you almost had to get TV channels.

“So Internet plus a landline plus TV is only a little more than what I’m paying now?” I asked

“Sure ma’am. I’ll set you up for the Triple Play Package, Ma’am. I’ll get you all set up, ma’am, and then I can send you an estimate.” There was a lot of waiting and clicking.

I double checked about the landline, feelings stupid as I asked questions like, “So this is for like a real landline that connects to my phone jack, right?” And “This has nothing to do with my Wi-Fi right? Because the whole point is to have a back-up landline.”

She was patient with me. “Oh yes, ma’am. A real landline. Not the Wi-Fi. I understand your situation.”

There was more waiting and clicking.

“And who is this Mr. Thought?” She asked.

“Oh.” I said with a deep breath. “That’s my ex-husband. We were actually on the phone for hours and hours months ago trying to get his name off of the account.”

“Yes, ma’am. I am sorry, ma’am. I can take care of that ma’am.”

There was more clicking, more waiting.

“Sorry ma’am. I can get this contract estimate to you soon. What happened?”

“What?” I asked, confused again. She couldn’t possibly be asking about what happened with my divorce.

“You said your ex-husband,” she explained, “what happened there? With your ex?”

The customer service woman at the cable company is wondering about the downfall of my marriage. Okay…

“Well, it was terrible,” I explained. “And then, like I said, I had to stay on the phone for hours with him trying to get his name off of my account.”

“Oh, ma’am. I’m so sorry that happened.”

She finally sent the estimate – which by the way, with added fees was more than $50 more than it says it will be.

“I’m a single mom now.” I told her. “I really need to keep the cost low here. Can I just get internet and a landline?”

“Oh ma’am. I understand your situation. Yes I do. You don’t worry. I will get your cost down. We will give you just the landline.”

At the end of the call, with the promise of an activated landline over the weekend, she had parting words for me.

“Ma’am, I don’t want you to ever be negative about the world.”

I thanked her, and she continued.

“There are so many people out there. So many people who love you. And thank you for doing your business with us.”

I hung up, smiling, with hope in my heart that the bill she quoted me would indeed be true.

Epilogue

When the weekend came and no landline was activated, I was annoyed.
So, today I called again.
Turns out, it’s a Wi-Fi landline.
Turns out, my modem doesn’t support it.
Turns out, it would be an extra $40 a month.
I’m really trying, MA’AM, not to be negative!
I mean, I did get my internet speed tripled today, for $20 cheaper. . .

An interruption

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers Thanks for stopping by!

One minute, a room full of adults was at rapt attention.

The next minute, one of the presenters interrupted the other.

“There’s a bear!”

And the room full of adults got up out of their chairs, rushed to the windows for a better look at the baby bear.

I turned back to grab my phone, and soon realized that I was not going to get a good picture of this bear.

It’s times like these that I remember that I’m short.

But, I have 3 children who will need proof of bear! So I looked around and noticed a couple of employees at an open sliding door away from everyone else. I sidled up and asked, “Do you have a good view over here?”

“We do, but we have to close this door,” they said. I wasn’t sure if this baby bear was still young enough to have a mama bear nearby, but I was happy to not take any chances.

I asked if I could please just take one picture, and then stuck my head (and phone) out the door.

Soon the baby walked off, and we all settled in again, apologizing to the presenter.

“Oh, believe me, I love getting interrupted by a bear,” she told us.

And I agree, it was the perfect interruption.

However, tonight when I walked back to my room in the dark, I made sure to walk with a friend. . . because there are some times when a bear interruption is not exactly what I’m hoping for.

He’s just a baby! But, I don’t want to tuck him in for bed.

Nordstrom Rack Angel

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

I’m looking at gold earrings at Nordstrom Rack, wondering if my daughter will want a big statement piece to go with the black dress she just tried on. Actually, I’m wondering where my daughter went – distracted by the crop tops and hoodies, no doubt.

“Oh no!” I hear from behind a jewelry rack. “This ring is stuck on my finger.” A woman walks toward an employee, explaining that she tried a ring on, and it fit, but now it won’t come off.

“The tag is trapping it on my finger!”

She keeps trying to get the ring off, and I can’t ignore her. So I warn her not to tug too much, and I tell her that cold water might help.

“Or Windex,” the employee says and they walk away. I hear the woman tell him that I told her not to tug too much.

My daughter shows up and we look at some earrings together – she does not want big statement earrings but picks a perfect pair of sparkly gold dangles. These earrings will go with whichever dress she ends up wearing next Friday.

The woman walks back into the jewelry section and I have to ask her if she got the ring off and if her finger is okay. I can’t help but be curious. She says her finger is fine.

“I had to make sure you didn’t keep tugging,” I find myself saying to this stranger, “On my honeymoon, my husband tugged so much on his wedding ring that his finger swelled up this much!” I hold my fingers around my now empty ring finger, remembering his ring finger impossibly ballooned, remembering him tugging and tugging on it and lathering it in the bathroom of the Calistoga cottage we were staying at.

“I mean, we are divorced now,” I add quietly because it feels odd to be talking about my honeymoon even to this stranger.

She doesn’t hear me. “Oh my God!” she says. “I mean, wow! Did that like raise any red flags for you?”

I laugh and nod my head. “Nope. It probably should have though!”

“You’re still married, right?” She asks.

“Actually we just divorced this year.” I explain.

“Oh, what happened? Were there signs along the way that it was a mistake?”

I look and notice my daughter still standing behind the earring rack and I snigger.

“Alright!” I say and nod and laugh once again. “You just want to jump right into it!”

I give some sort of explanation that includes how it was of course not a mistake, because how can decades be a mistake and I have my three beautiful children. She talks about her boyfriend who she is set to move in with soon, and become a blended family.

” I love him,” she says, “of course I love him. I just also really love my own space, the bed all to myself, quiet mornings with my coffee…”

“Set up some boundaries right from the start,” I advise like some sort of relationship coach, “plan times that you know you will get to yourself so it doesn’t become an issue later.”

It’s her turn to nod. “That’s a good idea!”

At some point, I introduce my daughter, and explain how she is trying to decide if she should buy this fancy dress, or wear the simple one she already has.

“Oh! Buy it. Definitely buy it. You can always return it later,” is the advice we get, and then, “You know, I’m a spiritual person, religious maybe, you could say, and I really think everything happens for a reason. There’s a plan. Just be patient during this time.”

I assure her I know – when one door opens another one opens and all that (although it’s an awfully long hallway…) and we say goodbye.

My daughter and I walk to the checkout smiling and shaking our heads.

“We’ll most likely never see her again, and we don’t even know her name,” we laugh, “She was like the Nordstrom Rack Angel!”

Currently I am

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

Currently, I am

Watching Marvel movies with the boys
and Ozark by myself
hoping they aren’t overhearing the dialogue

Listening to music whenever I can
Music to study by while I work and write
my goodbye 2020 playlist in the car
blues or classic rock when I am doing chores
Brené Brown on dog walks
I tell Alexa to play spa or meditation music at bedtime

Reading Good Morning Monster
more slowly than I usually read
worried that I’ve had it too long
Needing to give it back to my friend

Napping when I can
on the couch, or better yet the deck
in the sun
with the dog nearby

Wondering which leads to
Worrying – all part of my
Overthinking

Trying to practice my
Listening



Prius

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

it’s been raining, and it’s about to rain again
but even dogs who don’t like rain, need walks
so Finn and I walk
down, around, through the park, back up and around
he sniffs the rain-green grass, I sniff the air
the smell of the wood burning stove
from the house on the corner
is my favorite

we cross the quiet street
on a diagonal
avoid a Prius silently coming closer
finn loves the sound of a Prius
it’s the sound of someone coming home
he stops at the corner, head turned
wags his tail
sits at perfect attention
won’t budge when I ask him to
I don’t have the heart
to force him, show him I’m boss

the Prius parks
the man stares at us
Finn’s tail keeps wagging expectantly
I want to explain to the man
my dog thinks you’re his dad
he doesn’t understand that our Prius doesn’t come home anymore
that is why we are standing on the corner
staring at you
and the rain-green grass




Gertrude

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

Gertrude

I used to bring Gertrude to my sixth-grade classroom to help kick off our “Muppet” project. In between the yearly projects, she lived with my parents.

It’s been 5 years since I’ve taught sixth grade. (That’s crazy!) So the other day my parents asked me if I still wanted Gertrude. I guess they were tired of her freeloading.

Suddenly, I ached for my sixth-graders and our Muppet projects. I thought about it for a minute and realized it might be fun to ask kids in my schools what Gertrude’s story might be.

“I wonder if I can get a teacher or two to let me do this with them,” I thought.

It took me a few days, but I finally remembered that I co-run a Writers’ Club. What luck! Kids! Ready for a writing invitation!

Gertrude traveled with me to school today, and I took her down to meet some classes. The first class was working on PSSA practice, and as much as Gertrude wanted to interrupt that (she’s not a fan of standardized tests) I moved on to a second-grade classroom around the corner. Then onto first grade . . . By the end of the day, Gertrude had met every class.

It’s very hard to get a picture of a marionette while you are holding it. . .

I told the kids that Gertrude didn’t know her story. She needed a story!

“Gertrude was lonely at my parents’ house. She wanted to come to school for Writer’s Club. But, she wanted to meet kids before she went to Writers’ Club, so she wouldn’t be too nervous,” I explained.

“Why is she even here when we aren’t even allowed to go to Writers’ Club?” a kindergartner said. I told her what I told every class K-2: “Maybe when you get to be in third grade, you’ll join Writer’s Club!”

Wow,” I thought as kids crowded around us, trying to be quiet since they understood Gertrude was still pretty shy. “This is a pretty good advertisement for Writers’ Club!

Of course, kids of all ages wanted to know what Gertrude was.

“Is she a dog?”
“Is she a bird?”

“She’s a gertrude.”

You might have to meet Gertrude to understand her magic. The way she walks is peaceful, almost mesmerizing. You can’t help but stare at her. She’s quiet and shy but brings out the best smiles. As I walked down the hall with her, kids of all ages said, “Hi Gertrude!” and asked me more questions about her.

I have a feeling that if I don’t take her with me next time I’m walking down the hall, the kids won’t talk to me anymore…

I didn’t know what would happen at Writers’ Club, but the magic of Gertrude plus the magic of the young writers did not disappoint. I invited the kids to write about Gertrude, for Gertrude, and to make bird puppets that could be in a story with her.

“But what is a gertrude?” one boy asked, “I don’t find her when I google!”

I told him that someone would have to make her a google entry. “What would her wikipedia page say?”

And friends, when the two girls came up to read me their nonfiction article all about Gertrude, it was a dream come true. They had a description of gertrudes, and talked about how loud noises scare them. They described a gertrude habitat and diet, and ended with a story of a gertrude named Gertrude. They printed their story and put it on our Gertrude story wall.

The bird puppet makers wanted to make sure I brought Gertrude next week so they could write their stories down, and as they started to clean up, a writer came up to me and said, “I know what Gertrude’s favorite food is. Avacado.”

So, needless to say, we added a fast fact section just for Gertrude.

(Not so) Sneaky Stick Figures (2)

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

It was the after-school Writers’ Club again today. As kids were filtering in, and my co-teacher was taking attendance, I was chatting with kids.

“I wish Writers’ Club was on Mondays,” one said, “because then we’d have something to really look forward to about Mondays.”

At the table next to him, a girl popped her head up from her snack to add “Writers’ Club is the highlight of my Tuesday.” Her friend sitting across from her took the perfect pause before saying, “Writers’ Club is the only thing I have on Tuesdays, so . . . ”

Earlier, we had decided to invite more kids to make some stick figure cut-out stories like we did last time..

As I made a quick direction chart before the end of the school day, I wondered if making the chart would make it less enticing than the sneaky spur-of-the-moment style from last time.

But, somehow, as kids went off to write, several came up for index cards, sharpies, and scissors. As each writer, or partnership came to the supply cart, I asked them what they were going to write, and cheered inside when they said “I want to try cut-out stories!”

My co-writer from last time was trying to get our pieces back in order, and two girls walked up to join our story. Next to us a few kids were creating their own stick figure stories, and at 2 tables at the end of the cafeteria, I could see more stick figure story work happening.

Our new co-writers fit right in. Soon all four of us were drawing, cutting, writing, and making.

One of the girls didn’t talk much and her friend said, “She doesn’t really talk.”

I said, “But she can draw! Look at that!” and we both looked over at the cat being sketched on an index card.

“And really that’s all that matters,” my co-writer told me.

I have to confess – it was super fun. I asked the kids if they thought that maybe I could have a job where all I did was make cut-out stick figure stories with kids all day.

They thought it was doable, for sure. One girl looked at me very seriously and said, “You are going to need a lot of index cards.”

Soon, we were done. So we got some construction paper, and the kids glued the story down. They aren’t sure if they want to staple it now, or maybe put it up like a comic strip.

“Can you believe this story started with just one little stick figure?” I asked my original co-writer. He just shook his head with wonder. And then, before he left to go home, he stopped me at the supply cart to ask me a question.

“Can I take some index cards home so I can write another story?”