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The sky is blue and the rolling hillside is just a few parkways and minutes over from the coast. The sun is shining but not too hot. Temperate. The sliding screen door to the backyard is –like me–around 50. The backyard is both green and lush and controlled. The gardener will be by later today. I don’t know his name. He will sculpt whatever is natural into suburban submission. Neighbors on social media will identify an errant flora or fauna and post a photo and ask the important questions–is it harmful? Should it be allowed to stay?
The other day someone online in my neighborhood was concerned over ladybugs.
It’s been voted one of the safest cities in the state. Like the pristine landscape, one gets the feeling that consciousness has been Roundedup here. Eradicated like a country’s heart on a dry deadland border full of desperation and depravity.
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When you’ve taught at the same community college for 11 years you often wonder after your students graduate, did I make a difference?
I mean it’s one thing to meet the student learning outcomes, but it’s quite another to instill the idea of life long learning and it’s also difficult but so necessary at the community college level to explain to students—especially those moms who’ve been in the workforce awhile and are going to college for the first time in their 30s–that they can do it.
Such was the case of Dawn who I had as a student somewhere around 2011. We surprised each other the other day as I had to come in to the health department for a routine TB test for work and she was the one reading my test. She had her own office even.
Beaming with pride. Both of us.
We both cried.
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There are only two things you can do when someone misrepresents/defames you. You can either go inward and try and ignore it and hope one day that truth wins out and that all slanderers tongues go silent as if cursed and all listeners of such things become keenly aware that they’ve been had–or you confront the lies and misrepresentations of your character head on.
That’s where I’m at. I’m too scared to throw chanclas these days; I fear they will boomerang back and hit me in the face.
On the micro level, I’m one day away from my divorce being final. I will be unmarried and 49 with two children who I thought I was doing a great job raising because of course I would because I gave it my all and all would be perfect.
I’m just as clueless as the next parent.
Sometimes I feel like…
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is my newest personal essay up on Rabble Lit. I love this journal and the work they publish. It continually makes me feel like my perspective–my own working class background now has a voice and I appreciate that. I’m glad they wanted a piece on teaching in prison.
If you never have anything
you don’t know what there was to lose…
my children know, though
they do as they most surely knew
love and warm dinners and cracked smiles
and laughter as long as the days grown wild
these things have gone missing
in their wholes still there in their parts
my parts, their father’s.
It wasn’t supposed to get this bitter,
or this intense. To slip silently out
of someone’s life once you realize
they never had any intention of
fully being in yours. These decades length strangers.
They’re not old enough for real explanations
the narrative is cheap, incomplete and flimsy and
out of my hands.
The Daughter Land Map
It shows everything and nothing
the terrain steep–so much to climb through
in hardly enough space to breathe
there are rocks and cliffs
and a river somewhere on
a distant valley floor.
Did I bring the wrong map?
forget where north is?
I would today gladly find
that village here in DaughterLand
high above the tree tops
where we sat together
and laughed and waited happily
for her father to get home
for her brother to wake from a nap
for the two of us
so much alike, so much different
to be in that one location
We meet in my office alone
not too long, just long enough
there are children to discuss
and the taxi-ing of children
to various places to various things
i do not hate him
if i can look at him, his face
and not remember any of the nights
i felt lonely when he was a few inches
away from me on the other side of a
king side bed with an ocean of differences
in between–back and forth–back and forth
lulled for a decade or so.
I promised when we met I wouldn’t write about him
and for the most part I’ve kept that promise.
he has his narrative
i have mine
they are not anywhere near each other
each still on the other end of a too large bed
one kid estranged from him
one estranged from me
we held on so very long before sinking
tomorrow we will be divorced.
I want to keep her off
the northern californian crutch
as long as possible
I keep thinking it’s a green leafy battle
but she’s thinking it something else
I’m already losing the argument
and we haven’t even started.
We tell each other the
deepest dark in the dark hours
before dawn. We say what we know
has been hushed and stiffled
screaming like a vein against
the skin–it’s what love and only
love can do.
April 14 More from the Daughterland
She watches her father and I
sit on his front porch
share a brief laugh
holding fast to whatever it is
we still have in common
as we navigate away from each other
It pisses her off.
That we could get along and smile
while she’s playing the misery record
of divorced children
If you laugh, she says, you are leading him on
If you don’t laugh, I think, you wind up inhumane
I can’t tell her she’ll understand
when she’s older
I can’t tell her the reasons we
can’t be together
they are not 13 year old reasons
they are hard fought dragged out years reasons
We cancel our plans for the day
they don’t fit into her rage
and I drive off without her.