Thursday, July 7, 2016


I don't typically get political on the internet.  But it's nearly 1 AM and I can't sleep because there are just so many troubling thoughts running through my head.  And what's bothering me most isn't really political, it's societal.  I think that, as a white woman, I've been afraid to say anything about what's happening between police and, primarily, the African American community.  I don't want to say the wrong thing, to trivialize anyone's point of view, or because of my own privilege (and it is privilege), make matters worse.  But staying silent feels like saying what's happening is okay, and it's not.

This is a heated topic, and one that I don't really have answers to.  But I just know that we have to do better calling this what it is, and working to somehow change it.  We can't keep seeing the body count rise in the name of law enforcement.  We have to ask ourselves what's at the root of this?  Is it fear? Racism?  Something else?  I have heard all the arguments and I can see where both sides are coming from, I suppose, but can't we all agree this isn't what we want?  Surely this isn't what we want.  I just don't know.

But here's what I do know.  When I see another hashtag trending, I don't just mourn for the families who have lost someone.  I start seeing faces of young black men and women I have taught, and I pray that this isn't their story.  I think of my cousin's husband, who I routinely cut up with at family functions, and of their children, specifically their son, a smart, athletic, handsome teen, and pray it's not their story.  Because somehow, this is what it's come to.  I have begun to pray that someone I love isn't going to die because of a broken taillight.  There have been 559 deaths in the US in 2016 during police interactions.  And if it's not your friend, your student, your relative, it's still someone's.  And I just don't believe it has to be.

I'm turning off comments, because I simply won't argue on this one.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

When A Coach Is More Than A Coach

I don't remember the first time I heard the name Pat Summitt.  But I remember when she came to my attention.  My mother, in an effort to get my brother to enjoy reading, subscribed to Sports Illustrated, and one week, there was this woman glaring on the cover.  And I just knew I had to know more about her.  So, I stole the magazine and read the entire article.  (You can read it here.)  And, I kept that magazine in with other special mementos for years afterward.  (I still have it somewhere in the depths of my back room, in fact.)

I don't know what exactly captivated me about Pat Summitt.  I didn't come from a family that followed women's sports.  I certainly never played basketball, routinely losing pick up games to a brother three years my junior.  She did look a lot like my aunt, whose house I spent my formative years traipsing in an out of. But, I'd like to think that there was just something about her I knew was worth paying attention to, worth emulating, even when I was too young to understand how rare the Pat Summits of the world really are.  She set a standard of excellence on the court, in the classroom, and in the world that players weren't just invited to meet, they were expected to.  She simply didn't settle for anything less.  And low and behold, players rose to meet those expectations time and time again.  

I never had the pleasure of meeting Pat Summitt,  I never saw her coach a single game in person.  But when I read the news of her death this morning, I cried in a way I hadn't cried in while.  There is an inherent injustice to early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.  Having lost a beloved childhood teacher to this very disease earlier this year, I've seen first hand how this disease can topple even the strongest of spirits.  Losing a legend at 64 will always leave the world wondering what could have happened if she had just had a few more years pacing the sidelines of the very court Tennessee named after her.  How many more games might she had won?  How many more titles?  

Pat Summitt stepped down after 38 years, having coached 161 players to 1,098 wins (making her the winning-est coach in Division I, man or woman), eight national titles, and proudly boasting a 100% graduation rate (which is almost unheard of in collegiate athletics, sadly).  But, those numbers aren't really her legacy.  I've read articles and stories all day long, praising both her caring hand and her tough discipline.  These stories aren't just those of her players, but of little girls who simply by growing up with her as an example in the world tried to do better.  Her legacy is in people--lives changed, dreams realized, hearts touched.  

And I know that to be true, because my heart was one of them.  I want to be the kind of coach, teacher, and person that Pat Summitt would want me to be.  And rumor has it, that's a pretty high bar.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

We Need To Talk About Fuller House

That's right.  This was serious enough to resurrect the blog, people.  I, in my role as the premiere imaginary entertainment reporter, had to address this situation of national importance.  Fuller House was a big, fat flop.

Let me start by saying that this isn't how I wanted things to go.  My sister and I loved the original, (and love traditional sitcoms, in general).  I watched Full House like everyone in my age group, as part of TGIF when it originally aired.  My sister, being nearly ten years younger, watched it in repeats until she's seen every episode multiple times.  We are not your casual viewers. When we found out about the Netflix revival, we made an unbreakable date to watch. An entire Saturday was blocked off.  Snacks and drinks were acquired.  We were focused.  We were ready.  We lasted two and half episodes before we started watching YouTube videos instead.

The fact that they show was so boring that we gave up really bothered me.  In the name of research, I decided to finish the rest of the episodes on my own today.  And I've arrived at a few thoughts on how this train ran so badly off the tracks.

1) Fuller House is so busy patting itself on the back about how clever it is that it forgets to actually be clever.  The jokes are either cheap or just chances to say catch phrases.  When they aren't doing that, they are throwing shade at the Olsens or just being meta and it might make you smile but it doesn't make you laugh.

2) They forgot to bring the heart.  Full House was a sitcom, but we loved the characters and we felt for them.  We mourned the mother that DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle were robbed of.  We felt their heartbreaks and happiness.  And we just aren't given that in this new show.  DJ has one teary scene about her husband and then it's all about the love triangle.  We are not given a chance to really invest in these characters beyond what we already know about them.  And that was ultimately disappointing.

3) The writing just wasn't good.  My bar for dialogue is not that high.  But it's higher than what was happening here.  It felt like Netflix just got together a few B-string writers and said give us every trope you've got, without context or merit.

4) It relies too much on the history of Full House instead of trying to be its own thing with memories from the old show mixed in.  This is what I think other revival shows, like Girl Meets World (which I happen to love), get right.  Girl Meets World gives us the character drop-ins we want, but within the context of telling a new story.  In the finale, which I liked better than some of the other episodes, Becky and Jesse were renewing their vows, but without their kids or Danny?  This was shoehorned into the plot in such a careless way, it actually makes sense when Jesse and Becky leave without telling anyone.

5) I didn't care who DJ picked in the love triangle. I get that all the true fans were supposed to root for Steve, but he just kind of weirded me out. He was just too much. And I liked Matt, but I feel like we didn't really know him at all.  And trying to go through the whole process in 13 episodes just felt really forced.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.  I wanted to love it, but I just couldn't get there.  If you disagree, I'd love to hear your point of view.  Maybe I just didn't get it.  But it wasn't for lack of trying.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


I've pretty much always been the worst when it comes to journaling.  I have many a notebook filled with good intentions and a dozen scribbled pages dissolving into many blank ones.  This goes all the way back to my pre-teen years.  I want so badly to be one of those women with beautifully scrawled pages, full of thoughts, feelings, prayers, desires.  Every so often, I even believe that this will be the year I'll do better and I'll try again (there's one on my nightstand as I type).  This blog has really been no different.  The manners-loving part of me feels like I need to apologize for this, probably on monogrammed stationery.  The rest of me is indifferent, as it would appear that this is just kind of who I am.

Despite that, I haven't taken this blog down.  I still come by and read what's going on with other people I've loved and followed over the years.  I keep up with my darling internet friends on other forms of social media. I loved the little community blogging created, and I miss it.  Mostly, I miss writing regularly.  Admittedly, most of what I wrote here was unimportant, even to me.  They were the little moments that make up a life, and while sweet, they were fluff.  Every once in a while though, I'd manage to string some words together that really said something resonant, and those are the moments I miss the most.  

I spend a lot of time alone.  A lot.  Honestly, I don't mind it.  I like my little routines and after I've listened to the voices of teens for 7.5 hours on a school day, silence is golden.  But, I have missed sitting down and filling my little corner of the internet with my brand of weirdness.  I have missed the fine art of rambling until things made sense.  I'm still struggling to find places where I fit in, whether in a church community or life in general (you try being the 30-something single girl at social gatherings sometime).  There are big, honking chunks of my life from 10 or so years ago that I still miss daily, especially people.  In some instances, I think I have romanticized the those days as far as their moments go, but I don't think I've done that with the people.  I'm a hard person to win over, and there were people from my former church (which feels almost like a former life, at this point) that I truly loved who are no longer people I see and that's so difficult to face. And it's harder because I just haven't found the kind of fit that I had at that time in my life again. 

At dinner the other night, a friend and I were bemoaning the unique situations we are in socially.  It's hard to be a woman without a family of my own when most people my age have at least started on one.  There just isn't a lot of common ground. When the church you were raised in and the church you spent most of your 20's in are no longer a part of your life (one literally no longer exists), it's hard to know where you belong. 

I'm thankful that I belonged here, even if that has waned through my inability to find the time or find the words.  I'm thankful for the people I "met" and the thoughts and silliness shared in equal measure.  And while I doubt I will ever blog with the frequency I once did, I hope I can at least stop by with a thought or two a little more often, because we need as many places we belong as a we can get.  Even if they are ones you create for yourself.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Because I Can Be Introspective Occasionally

There's this great episode from Season 8 of Grey's Anatomy called "If/Then".  Meredith, in her opening voice-over, ponders what would happen if just a thing or two had gone differently in her life, if she had made different choices somewhere along the way.  The episode goes on to show all of our favorite characters in this alternate dimension, where Mere didn't turn out dark and twisty.  But here's the thing, as you watch, the story unfolds eventually leading all the characters back to the people and choices they had made all along in the real world.  In the closing moments, Mere's right there at Joe's with McDreamy downing tequila shots.  Even though everything was different, nothing was really different.

And I know that you are staring at the computer going, "So you don't write for months and the first thing you come back with is a Grey's Anatomy recap from two years ago?  Seriously?"  (heh, heh...seriously?)  But stay with me.  Who among us hasn't wondered if life would be different if the events of our lives played out in some other way?  What if I'd attended that other college?  Chosen a different career?  What if I had said "yes" instead of "no"?  Would my life have somehow turned out measurably better than the one I'm living?

I've know I've certainly traveled a mile or two down those roads.  It's usually when I find myself angry or stressed out about something from my current life.  C'mon, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Something goes wrong at work and you find yourself mentally counting off the list of other careers you could have had and how you wouldn't have any problems in any of those.  Your friend says something that hurts your feelings, and you start making a list of all the people you should start hanging out with instead of this inconsiderate wretch.  Your mind wonders and because our minds are so good at imagining any manner of things, you picture a world where all the world's a stage and you're the star.  (I can only speak for the extroverts here.  Introverts, I'm assuming yours is more like all the world's a stage and you get to be left alone in the prop room or something.)  You have a brilliant career in which you are universally admired and revered.  You have the picture perfect family, like something right off the Hallmark card.  You go on glamorous vacations, have wonderful friends.  Your life is shiny and bright and not even remotely inside the realm of possibility.

I don't say this to be a Debbie Downer.  I'm not trying to say that you can't have nice things and enjoy them with nice people.  I'm not even saying that you can't dream up something and pursue it.  You can, and maybe you should.  But even if you make those other choices, your life won't be perfect.  Because here's the news flash:  Life is never perfect.  I have a friend who hates the saying, "It is what it is."  But I really think it's true here.  Your life is your life is your life and you can always change the sails, but that doesn't mean your new direction will never be stormy.  It also doesn't mean you won't end up right back where you were supposed be all along.

I chose a simple life for myself.  I live in the same community I was raised in around the same people I've known all my life.  I teach in the very same school district I attended, for goodness sake. (I've chosen to be in middle school indefinitely. Crazy, right?)    My life isn't fancy, but it's mine. (At least whatever parts I'm not still paying for.)  I spend 90% of my time feeling like I don't have any clue how to do pretty much anything, and yet somehow, I've carved out a life.  Sure, there were other paths, and sometimes it's fun to imagine them, but that's all it ever really is.  I just feel like, even if I'd taken one of those other paths, I still would somehow end up here. And here's good.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

In Good Times

I have spent the last few months directing the school musical.  It was crazy and it was hard and it was wonderful.  We had our shows this weekend and I'm so proud of how well things went.  I came home last night with my flowers from the cast and my heart full of compliments from the community and it was glorious. And then, it kind of wasn't.

I've lived on my own for nearly ten years.  Most days, coming home to my quiet little house is a haven from the rest of the world.  I like knowing that, unless my sister has stopped by, things will stay where I put them  (even though my organizational systems are often lacking).  I love not having to consult someone when I want to do something spur-of-the-moment.  I love coming home, putting on my pajamas, and watching Netflix until bed if I so choose.  But sometimes, when something wonderful is happening in my life, and I'm full to brim with happy, I wish that I had someone to come home to, someone to celebrate that feeling with. Being single is rarely something that even crosses my mind anymore, especially when things are as busy as they have been.  But last night, I wished that I had someone to share my good times with more than I had in a long time.

It's funny to me that happy times are when this comes up the most.  I can deal with sad.  I can even deal with most of the everyday things, even taking out the trash, as much as I whine about it.  But last night, I wanted my man (however fictional he may be) to be there to watch the show, to take me out for a late dinner, to read aloud all of the sweet Facebook comments to.  Not having that put a sad tint to all of my happy.  And I really wish that wasn't the case.  I wish I was self-assured enough to just go to bed alone knowing I'd done well.  But apparently, I'm not.  I went Eeyore all over Twitter, instead.  (Much like I'm doing in this post.  Sorry, peeps.)

Maybe it's all just the emotional let-down of a stressful week.  Maybe it's just me going back to the "Will I be alone forever?" well that I thought I'd long abandoned.  I don't know.  Lonely and happy will always be better than lonely as sad, but couldn't I just feel one thing at a time?  I know that's not how it works, but it would be awfully handy.

Anyway, I'm still here.  And I have read every sweet message you left on the last post.  Thanks for being awesome.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

In Ordinary Time

Growing up Catholic, there were many of the rites and rituals that I loved--when the old manger scene was put up at Christmas, the songs we sang on Easter Sunday.  There's something magical about celebrating traditions older than ourselves, about upholding the rituals dating back generation upon generation.  As an adult, I still am fond of those things, but what speaks to my heart most now are the Sundays in Ordinary Time.

Ordinary Time is, simply put,  the Sundays when there aren't feasts or special circumstances to be celebrated, when we celebrate all of who Christ is rather than one or a series of specific acts.  It is ordinary not because it is plain or common, but because that time is counted and put in order (think ordinal numbers).  Though our hearts often cry out for the Child in the manger or the Resurrection of Easter, we live so much of our lives in that ordinary time, the time between.

I think that when we are growing up, we believe that our adult lives are going to be a highlight reel of awesomeness.  We think of all the incredible things we are going to do and say and be, and we gloss over many of the realities of everyday life.  No one grows up thinking how great they are going to be at paying their bills on time every month or how they will dominate a trip to the grocery store.  We dream of our incredible careers which we will always love with passion and intensity, and not how some days you might just want to run screaming from the premises.  We imagine ourselves rock stars of all personal relationships--having warm heart-to-hearts with friends over weekly dinners and giving our significant others and kids all the time and love they deserve.  We don't dream of the grind, of the everyday, of the ordinary.

But of truth of the matter is that even if it feels like nothing extraordinary is happening, every day counts.  There is a great power in the ordinary.  It may not feel like the life we imagined, but it's not until we fully address each day as it is that we can harness its untapped potential.  The Easters and the Christmases, the celebrations of life's milestones, may be the highs that keep us going, but its the average and the mundane that test what we are really made of.  

I realize that we are no longer in Ordinary Time on the Liturgical Calendar.  It's Lent now and historically, I have not been great at observing any real Lenten practices.  (I don't even try to give up chocolate anymore, because not even Jesus wants me, or the people around me, to suffer like that.)  But this year, I'm making an effort to really look each day fully in the face to see what opportunities it might have for me, even if those opportunities look a lot more like work.  I feel like I spend so much of my time just surviving that I forget that my days are numbered, and that there is, most certainly, a finite supply.  I want to find the joy in what appears, at first glance, to be run-of-the-mill.  I am choosing to believe it is there.  And I'm going to mine it for everything it's worth.

Blogger's note:  I know it's been forever since I posted anything.  I don't know if this is the beginning of new blogging streak or what, but I felt compelled to share.  It's likely that I will continue to post, but less often than I once did.  I'm not sure.  But I am forever grateful for the people I have met through this corner of the universe, and I still keep up with your blogs.  I'm also madly in love with Twitter, so you can always find me there @msmiller111.