From the Teacher’s Notebook

I just resigned from my job of seven years. Ripped these from my last notebook.

from the teacher's notebook

Doodle from Teacher

teacher time doodle

from the teacher's notebook

In the Garden of Fake Clover

A St. Patrick’s Day inspired throwback post from September 2013.

I have found multiple four-leaf clovers in my backyard, and that is undeniably awesome, whether you’re superstitious or not.  I have them all taped onto index cards with the date I found them.  Hooly has one such card inside her baby book.  My yard is clearly fertile ground for special goodness.

This used to be my story.  Until today.

Today I went into the yard to cut rosemary for dinner, and I scanned the overgrown garden as I am apt to do.

A-ha! I spot one.

And another. And another.  And another…

Crap.  No one is this lucky.

Then I notice new growth of a distinctly different plant in another part of the garden–fluffy patches of what I can best describe as real clover, shamrock clover, that is (all three-leafed of course), and the somber, unlucky realization sets in.

I have been collecting imposter weeds on index cards since 2009.

In the garden of fake clover

Garden of fake clover

A member of the clover family at best, but certainly not a shamrock by any means. Undeniably disappointing, whether you’re superstitious or not.

But here’s the thing. Something good happened after finding every one of my four-leaf fake clovers.  Not immediately after, but within a month or two.  And not just front-row parking spot good.  Big stuff, like getting my first teaching job, falling in love, seeing the first healthy Hooly sonogram.

That’s called a coincidence, someone tells me.

And that’s probably the truth.  It’s not like I’m suggesting that clover alone, in any shape or form, has mystical powers.

But every time I found what I believed to be a four-leaf clover, I started looking for something good to happen.  My outlook shifted.  I became positively expectant.  And there is power somewhere in that.

After all, our lives pivot on perceptions.  We see what we want to see, and that’s what we go looking for.

When I went out to the backyard today, the voice in my head said, Look for a four-leaf clover.  There will be one today, and you could really use it right now.  

And after I had my moment of feeling duped and deflated, that phrase came back into my head.  You could really use it right now.  

And it became clear.  It isn’t the four-leaf clover I need right now, it is the feeling that comes after finding one.  What I need right now is hope.  That’s what’s been missing lately.  That’s what I was really looking to find out there in the garden.

So I guess it doesn’t matter then, that my carefully collected good omen leaves have turned out to be not what I thought they were.  Because, fake or not, they still renewed my hope.  They gave me good intentions to put out into my world.

And I may be confused about most everything, but I’m pretty sure that our best bet in this life is to just keep sending out into the universe that which we hope to get back.

So, for now at least, I will hold on to my index cards.  Not because they’re lucky, but because of how they will remind me.



Remembering Daffodils

I forget about the daffodils every year. I forget that they’re there, buried in the frozen ground.

But every year, sure enough, there they are again. I usually don’t even notice when the shoots emerge, until suddenly it seems, they’re over a foot tall.

I planted the daffodils some nine years ago, just days after a friend of mine hung himself. He was the first person I’d ever known to commit suicide.

Not the last.

The daffodils have rarely bloomed. They don’t get enough sun where I planted them. But the stems still grow, nonetheless, tall and green and persistent, bending toward the light.

Daffodil stems

Spring after spring, they grow again, untended. Spring after spring, still remembering daffodils.


Playa Christmas

Spent Christmas in Playa del Carmen, and it made me mourn my wanderlust.

It all started with our waiter at Christmas dinner.  He told us he was from Mission Viejo, California, but he’d come to Playa a year ago, fell in love with it, and never left. I felt a pang. He is living my vacation.

on the playa

Then on the beach a day or two later, I overheard a young woman telling someone that she was from the United States but currently living in Argentina. Another pang.  What is she doing in Argentina?  Hot Argentinian lover? In how many ways is her life cooler than mine?

Ironic and perhaps self-indulgent, I’ll admit, to have these pangs while spending a week at an ocean-front resort on the Caribbean Sea. I get that. But we all have these things that tug us, that remind us of the people we once were and the people we thought we would be.

Not that I actually want to move to Playa del Carmen or Argentina. It isn’t that specific. But there was a time in my life when I traveled easily and often.  And I thought that time had just begun. I was sure I would fill passports and have several exotic addresses.

But as it goes, one choice after the next, and things shifted. We all mourn for the other side sometimes.

Mourning on la playa

In the shift, I chose to make a family with someone, and simply put, it didn’t turn out as I had hoped.  But I am tethered to it nonetheless, simultaneously bound and free. I have many of the obligations of a family, without the actual family as I thought it would be. It is a new edge to walk, and I’m still finding the borders, though the steps are the same as they often are.  Let go of what never was and create something new, wherever that may take you.

Typical holiday/new year stuff.

–Insert your favorite inspirational meme here– 


An Open Letter to November

Dear November,

I know things haven’t always been great between us, but I think it’s time we make amends.  I forgive you, November, and I can finally admit that I was wrong too.

I’m sorry I bad-mouthed you for so many years, calling you the most depressing month of them all.  That wasn’t cool.  And it wasn’t you, it was me.

I was the girl resigned to feel nameless on the frozen streets of Chicago, believing she belonged to someone else.  The girl who cooked pots of food and then made herself too sick to eat, until the bones were outlined on her chest.  That was all me, and I shouldn’t have dumped it on you.

It was me who dwelled, who stagnated, who saw loneliness in the cracks of love.  I was the one who focused on the pain in my family, instead of the healing.  There was a lot I didn’t understand yet, about family, and I’m still learning, but I no longer blame you for the way those lessons sting sometimes.

But you have to own part of this too. You did bring the death of two of my grandparents.  That can’t be unwritten.  And my heart was broken in you, November.  These things are not easy to get over.

And then there’s the cold of you.  And the early nightfall and the empty branches.  It’s a lot to deal with, ok?  Work with me here.

But, I know, you brought the birthday of a grandparent too.  And many other births and anniversaries and occasions to commemorate.  And you brought me love once too.  I won’t ever forget that.

So, I think it’s time, after all, to squash the beef.  I’m ready to let go of past injury and move on together. We both deserve another chance.  And I’m ready to celebrate the best in you, November.  Your gumbo, your football, your pumpkin pie.  And running through it all, your message of gratitude.

That’s what you’ve been trying to teach me all this time, isn’t it?  I get that now, but we’ve had some dark times together, and it was hard for me to hear you.

So let’s meet each other halfway, November.  Let’s wipe the calendar of memory clean and write a new story for ourselves.  One we can both agree on.

Love, Molly

open letter to November

 nothin’ lasts forever, even cold November rain…