A small victory against Anxiety

I teach high school.

I give presentations,

Hold parent teacher conferences,

And battle anxiety, daily.

The worst is going out alone.

Not to the grocery store

Or for an errand.

Those outings are purposeful.

No, it’s the act of going out alone

In an attempt for fun.

It is then when Anxiety

Crushes me

in it’s suffocating embrace.

Yet here I sit

Alone at a table

In a crowded restaurant

Sipping on Jameson and Coke

Swaying gently to live music

Breathing easier.



“She’s not depressed!”

Empathetic and confident,

“She can’t be!”

Words exchanged between

A concerned brother

An unworried father.

“Know how I know?”

I tilt my head, curious,

As he points,

“Cause she has the light of God in her eyes.”

Mutely, guiltily, I ponder,

How even candles


May flicker



Sixteen Candles, MTV, and Brett Kavanaugh: Did I Assault Someone Too? What I Thought Was Masculinity

Stupid Optimism

I have no doubt that in fifty years, the current administration will appear in text books as a defining moment in American history. One that took all of our glaring problems in this country, and laid them out for all to see, bared to the harsh light of day like some stained shirt worn too often that it has become threadbare, but comfortable. Ripped, yet still fits. And in the warm light of nostalgia and comfort and habit we kept wearing that shirt until we saw our reflection while outside in that unforgiving light and we’ve seen what we’ve become. That is perhaps the one saving grace to President Trump and his administration, they’ve laid it all out there and now we have to look at it. The question becomes what do we do about it.

The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh has brought forth some real issues even before this…

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Sometimes, when teaching, the best thing to do to encourage students to complete an assignment is to do it with them. I asked mine to write a personal poem today, and the deal was, if they do it then I would too and share on my WordPress.

Well, a deal is a deal.



I got this music in my head

An undeniable beat

This rhythmic music in my head

It refuses to cease


No matter how often I–write

Words on paper breathe music into life.

No matter how much I–fidget


Restless fingers beat purple into skin


And still this music,

An undying beat

Still this music

Incessantly keeps


No matter how I


The music keeps

No matter how I


The music keeps

No matter how I



Feet pounding down, pounding down,

Pounding on the sidewalk (speeds up)

Pounding down, pounding down, pounding down

Pounding over crosswalk (speeds up)

Pounding down, pounding down, pounding down, pounding down(takes a breath)


In my head,

I got this music,

It keeps

An unreliable


Day 1: The Importance of Hydration and Pronunciation in the Classroom

Today was my first day as a high school English Teacher on the beautifully unreal island of Maui.

As expected, there were some hiccups, both anticipated and unforeseen ones. I started the morning anxious to get into my room to finish putting up a few last minute posters and prep for my classes. What I hadn’t fully realized was how quickly I would start to sweat from the unusually muggy morning. By the time I had opened all the windows, turned on the fans, gathered all the necessary paperwork, etc., little salty droplets dripped from me to form tiny puddles on my desk.

Okay, maybe the puddles are an exaggeration. However, that fact that I was literally dripping sweat is not. Fortunately, I was so distracted with my prep work that I had no time to be nervous, only focused.

Then, I experienced a wonderful thing, an extremely welcoming Po’okela! Po’okela is my homeroom. or advisory class, and in Hawaiian means “excellence.” I could not have asked for a better start to my morning.

Then the real challenge began: pronouncing every student’s name. Some were simple and traditional European or Hispanic names, ones I grew up routinely hearing and speaking. Others were pure Hawaiian, and unfamiliar to my hooked on phonetics mind. Majority of the students were patience and understanding. From the looks on their faces, I could easily tell I was not the first mainland transfer to absolutely butcher their given names. Hopefully, with practice, I will quickly overcome my own limitations and be able to fluently call upon students without stumbling.

To backtrack very quickly, I mentioned earlier how I started the morning like I had just gotten off the treadmill after a good 30 minute run. There is one very important thing I forgot: re-hydration. Perhaps I can blame this one on PA. On how, when I was working as a substitute teacher in PA, I would comfortable sustain myself on a 1.5 liter bottle of water throughout an entire school day. Most days I didn’t even finish the bottle. Turns out this strategy of not drinking water  is a very poor one in Maui.

By the time my fourth period entire, I was ready to drop. I honestly can not recall what happened during those first few minutes of class. There were kids, lot of kids, papers to hand out, and forms to sign… Luckily, my room came equipped with a mini fridge — and inside that mini fridge was sweet, refreshingly cold water.

I learned my lesson. Just because it worked in PA, does not mean it will suffice in Maui. One school day officially down, and another one in just a short twelve hours. I look forward to the next lesson.

Stay hydrated friends!

Some thoughts on the eve of submitting a book proposal

Worth a read to any other writers out there

the love story project

When I was in grad school, I got a small stipend to put together the alumni newsletter. There was a guy who (twice) sent in an update about his life as a real estate agent, noting that, though his career had veered away from writing, he still used his MFA-acquired-skills to edit the community wine newsletter.

As a judgmental and ambitious twenty-four-year old, this distressed me. I was spending thousands of dollars on my degree. I had made what felt like significant sacrifices to join this program and I shuddered to imagine that a day might come where I would be content to use that expensive and coveted degree to edit a wine newsletter. For years the fear of becoming wine-newsletter-guy motivated me to put aside time to start a book, even when there were more immediately-pleasurable ways to spend my days.

As a much more pragmatic thirty-four-year old, I now understand that…

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Learning to breathe


Drives us, motives us

Fills our days, disrupts our nights

Endless motion-


Unclench your jaw,

Unhook your pack,

Straighten and look up.


Breathe deep and

Let go.

The Road I’m Taking: Exchanging the Ordinary for the Extraordinary! 

There is something, my dear reader, you should know about me.

I am not a risk taker.

There! I’ve admitted it. Despite my desire to be viewed as an adventurous, fearless, and cultured modern day heroine, I hardly fit this description. In fact, a more accurate portrayal of me is as a reprisal of a sheltered, 1950s era wallflower. Although I rather like the 1950s sense of style, I dislike this perceived image of myself as weak and inconsequential. I can not even claim any similarities to the famous Donna Reeds due to my lack of a sunny disposition, a screwed on smile, and a successful career built on taking chances. Instead, most of my life has been centered around making practical, low risk decisions and staying close to home. I rarely, if ever, make spur of the moment decisions that will greatly influence the course of my life. I like the simplicity, predictability, and rountine of an uncomplicated life. In other words, safe but dull.

And yet…

There has always been this longing for more.

Ever since I was a little girl, and enthusiastically sang along with Bell, I experienced a desire for “adventure in the great wide somewhere.” In the deepest, and often ignored, recesses of my heart, “something Tookish” continues to yearn for distant lands and the unknown every single time the leaves herald in the seasonal changes. My inner child still longs to soar above Big Ben with the aid of pixie dust and travel across all of time and space. In all honesty, a part of me resents having to grow up into a mild-mannered and responsible adult.


Nope, not adulting today.”

Eh, okay, so sometimes I still do not act like a full fledged adult.

The point is, there was a part of me, even when I was at my lowest point in this past year, that remained hopeful for a better life than the one I’ve been living. Even on those not infrequent days when getting out of bed seemed to be more trouble than it was worth, a part of me stubbornly refused to be defeated. Even when I experienced overwhelming anxiety, like a cornered animal shrinking in on itself, huddling in the fetal position, and willing itself to disappear from any and all potential predators, that small inextinguishable desire stubbornly persisted.

Which, if you think about it, is kind of amazing considering all I have been through since graduation. Plus all the horrifying, and paralyzing, truths I have learned about reality.

Can’t sleep

Despite my imaginary, and realistic, fears, as well as my uncertainty for success, I did something completely different. For once, I decided to indulge my inner, Tookish child and heed adventure’s siren call.
For once, I took a risk. 

The risk began back in winter of 2014, escalated in March 2015, and climaxed only last week. There was a lot of pre-planning involved, many a pro-and-cons list, and plenty of repetitive discussions with friends, family, and complete strangers. All of which did little to help me overcome my insecurities and indecisiveness. Then, on a recent dreary Monday morning, while working as a substitute teacher and enjoying my limited free time away from the students, I was idly browsing the Internet for anything of interest. That is when I found it:

A one way plane ticket to Maui for $460!

It was tempting, it was affordable, and it was a risk.

I booked the flight.

In a matter of hours, I received a phone call from a school that I had interviewed with over two weeks ago. To my everlasting surprise, they offered me a full time teaching position. After weeks, no months, no YEARS of job hunting, (not counting my experiences as a part time substitute teacher, cashier, and sales representative) and no success, I was simply going through the motions of job hunting. Meanwhile, each application and the rejections, or worse the silence, that accompanied them were transforming me into a bitter pessimist – not unlike the cartoon below:

So when I received that fateful phone call, I could hardly believe what I heard:

“So, will you accept?”

When your life is about to change, and change for the better, sometimes things just fall into place. 

Starting August 3rd will be teaching 10th grade American Literature and Expository Writing on the island of Maui, Hawaii.

Some things are simply meant to be.



Photos: Forbidden from riding bikes, fearless Afghan girls are skateboarding around Kabul

Meet the Women Taking the Battle to ISIS


A colorful scarf is all that is left of Cicek Derek, who was 17 when she died a few months ago in the besieged city of Kobani, Syria, where her compatriots were unable to retrieve her body.

Cicek was one of hundreds of young Kurdish female soldiers who have taken up the fight against ISIS. They’re part of the YPJ, or Women’s Protection Unit, an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish nationalist movement that has long fought a war of independence against Turkey.


Now the PKK and other Kurdish groups are at the forefront of the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, a militant group that would severely curtail the rights of women. It’s fitting that ISIS will be facing off against female fighters like 18-year-old Zilan Orkesh, who left her small village on the Turkish-Syrian border to join YPJ in 2011…

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Stupid Optimism

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