I learned about sex in the library. But not by making out in the stacks. My mother, who could only spell out S-E-X in a whisper, knew Judy Blume was bad and forbid me from reading her books. I snuck them chapter by chapter at a friend’s house. In a pre-social media world, Krantz, V.C. Andrews and Jean Auel were not on her censor list. I stretched the truth with tales of florists, dinosaurs and pirate adventures.
My own puberty was one of mattress-sized pads and a no questions asked policy. Now that I have a teenage daughter, I vowed to not approach things with her in the same way. Even though the idea made me cringe, I wanted to have more open, informative talks with her than I ever had.
Thanks in part to the period positivity movement, it’s normal (and welcome!) for people to talk about their menstrual health like experts. But unfortunately, the same can’t be said for menopause and perimenopause. At age 49, I have certainly experienced my fair share of perimenopausal symptoms.
I held her in my hand, a childhood Stuckey’s souvenir that began life nestled next to tooth-destroying sweet divinity and pecan logs and shot glasses with state names on them. Each thing chosen to be found during a spontaneous safari hunt through sweets and cheap trinkets. She was sculpted to attract kids stopping for a clean cross country bathroom. She attracted me.
“Father, there are no palm branches.”
“How did you let that happen? Never mind, bring me the ashes.”
The deacon dutifully brought the marble jar before scurrying away to hide behind the altar’s red velvet throne. Father Orson pulled off the heavy lid to survey the contents before tucking the jar under his arm like a slaughter hog.
All our money smelled like Folgers. While I hated paying with coffee can money, I loved sticking my head into the can to inhale the bitter bean scent. It was a better smell than the usual combination of sour baby spit-up, on-the-edge of rotten food out of the unmarked cans at Food Mart and no-showers-since-Sunday.
He stole our stairs.
Plank by plank. His angry fist clutching each Popsicle stick riser for just a moment, snapping it into splinters. Nail by nail, shrapnel bits flying cartoonishly out into the cul-de-sac. A row of school pictures with bad haircuts and 70s double knit blouses tossed around like used Kleenex.
There was no romantic kiss at the station. The sky stood a uniform grey, sentinel the day he left. His suitcase held the dress blue shirts and pants I pressed. Crowded by the bottle he wouldn’t let go of even to board the train, even to follow regulations. The bottle that sloshed with each bump of a train station stop. The bottle he emptied before the last stop. I stood by the iron waiting for his return, a burn on my forearm in the departure rush.
I am a late-to-the-party Marvelous Mrs. Maisel binge watcher and honestly don’t see what the fuss is about. It seems more than a little contrived. There is one Maisel scene that does ring true sixty-plus years later: Midge arrives in desperate need of deli items to feed the rabbi. Instead of patiently waiting (because Mrs. Maisel waits for nothing — not even a viable comedy career), she prances ahead of everyone announcing her supreme need for meat.
Students may view volunteer work as just another honor society or college application requirement. Volunteering doesn’t have to be a chore or a box to check off. Thinking about the “why” behind volunteering can turn volunteering into a passion. Do you enjoy playing a musical instrument or helping your grandmother with technology? Volunteering in high school can go beyond just a resume listing. Tailored to a student’s passions, it can relate to potential career paths, life interests and the community.
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She received her B.A. Degree in Creative Writing Major from the University of California,
Riverside. She spends most of her time writing fiction and poetry. She is currently pursuing her
M.A. Degree in...