My Real Life

October 17, 2015


It’s hard for me to fathom, but it is time for my 25th class reunion.

I know, I know…

How is it possible that I have been out of high school for 25 years?

However, it’s true.

Reunions fill me with a feeling of glee.

Not because I’ll get to see my high school BFF’s, because Kim, Erin, Michaela and I talk on a fairly regular basis to begin with.

And, none of them are coming to this one.


But, because a reunion is my high school yearbook come to life.


Our high school had all the cliques that were rampant in the movies I loved to watch in the ’80’s.

There were jocks and geeks and prom queens and druggies and every other type of kid you can imagine.

My high school was incredibly diverse and so, for the most part, there was a small group for everyone.


I loved high school.

I really did.

But, not because I was in the middle of it all, soaking in every second of experience that high school had to offer.

Truth be told…

I was a background kid.

My friends had large groups of friends, but my group was small.

I was friendly to people, and people were friendly to me, but I wasn’t getting invited to any parties, and no one was thinking of nominating me for anything when yearbook superlative time came around.

And that was fine with me.

I had my girls and other than that, I preferred to just watch it all unfold around me.


I don’t love a reunion to reconnect with people I haven’t heard from in years.

The truth is, I probably know what most of the people who will show up had for dinner last night, thanks to Facebook.

Actually, when you think about it, Facebook makes the whole idea of the reunion a bit outdated to begin with.

The people who want to stay in touch do, and the people who don’t? Well, they generally aren’t on social media sites and probably won’t show up at the reunion.

If they even know about the reunion, since they aren’t on Facebook.

See how that works?

And, if the last reunion was any indication, most of the people there won’t know who I am anyway.

I can’t tell you the number of people Real Man had to introduce me to.

“Hey…aren’t you going to introduce me to your wife?”

“Um, it’s Amy. Amy Lawrence? She graduated with us.”

“Oh, sorry…I can’t place you.”

And, while I have aged, I don’t look different enough that I’m unrecognizable.

But, you gotta be in it to win it, and I was definitely not in it.

Background person.

No, I go to the reunions because for a people watcher like me, it’s exactly like the days when I would sit on a bench in the atrium and watch the crowd go by.

They may not know me, but I know them, because while they were busy talking and laughing and fighting and posing, I was taking it all in.


This is not to say that I’ll be sitting in a corner, speaking to no one.

As an adult, living in the town in which I grew up, I have become friends with many of the people that I didn’t know well in high school, and some of them will be there.

Others, I didn’t know at all, but we’ve through Facebook, and I am looking forward to seeing them in person after only really getting to know them across fiber optic cables and miles and miles of land.

Because, as an adult, the nonsense of high school slips away, and the person who you thought was so much better than you and that you would never be able to be friends with, turns out to be facing the same struggles, and is every bit as human and fragile as you.


So, yeah, I’m going to the reunion, and while people may not remember who I was, I’m excited for them to meet who I’ve become.

October 14, 2015

On Call

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

Real Man and I went to the movies, the other day.

While we were there, right before the previews, I realized I had to run to the ladies room.

While I was in there, I happened to overhear the woman in the stall next to me conducting a business meeting.

In the bathroom.

Sitting down.

We both emerged from our stalls at the same time, and as I washed my hands, she finished her call.

She hung up, moved forward to the sink, looked at me and shrugged her shoulders and held up her phone.

“Always on call, these days. Right?”

I smiled and nodded, and felt the weight of my own phone, in my back pocket, but I couldn’t help but wonder…

Does the amazing technology we have, today, mean that we can never, truly leave work?


One of the things I tell my students, and their parents, is to email me their questions any time.

I always have my phone on me, and I’ll get back to them very soon.

I do this, because if they are working on something at home, and they encounter an issue, I want to help them get it resolved, and answer their question, rather than have them stop the work and not have it done.

I don’t have it with me during dinner.

I don’t bring it with me when I’m playing outside with the kids.

It’s not out when we are doing something as a family.

However, I check it soon thereafter, and do respond as soon as I get the questions.

In some ways, it feels no different than how I often spend the weekend grading papers.

In other ways, it’s invasive.

But, for me, it’s a choice.

I don’t have to respond after hours or on the weekend.

I want to.

But, for so many people, that phone…

It’s not a lifeline.

It’s a tether.

A leash.

A way for a boss to assign just one more case for you to work on and have ready for Monday morning.

A way to make sure that even when you are home, your mind is on work and the things that you have to complete.

My neck feels tense just thinking about it.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I’ve been rewatching Sex in the City.

In the show, Miranda is a lawyer.

In the later seasons of the show, she is very conflicted about the amount of time that she spends at the office, and then the amount of work she has to bring home.

Every time I see her struggle, I think, “Thank goodness she didn’t live in the time of smart phones!”

You know, because she’s a real person.

I think about all the people that I see, nose in phone, everywhere I go, and I know that all those people aren’t on Facebook or Instagram all the time.

A lot of them are working.

And then I wonder…what are the jobs that don’t require you to be in contact like that?

Do sanitation workers have to respond to emails about the new trucks that they are using to pick up the trash on Monday morning?

Does my mailman have to respond to a group email that he receives on a Saturday afternoon about a meeting that they are having before running their routes on Monday morning?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that the blending of work and home time isn’t a healthy piece of progress in society, and we need to be careful that we don’t wind up working all the time.

October 9, 2015

It’s Not a Tumor

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

A few weeks ago, I woke up and found a strange lump on my clavicle.

Well, not on my clavicle, but above my clavicle, at the base of my neck, a bit to the side.

And, it wasn’t just a little lump.

It was a big one.

I apologize for the visual, but the best way I can describe it is that it was like someone put a breast implant on top of my shoulders.

Weird, right?

It didn’t hurt, but it was unnerving.

And embarrassing.

It wasn’t yet sweater weather, but I started wearing a sweater to work to cover it up.

And then, after two days, I went to the school nurse.

She was stumped, and called the FastER in town, and put me on the phone with the doctor there.

He, too, was stumped and wanted me to come in for a closer look.

So, I went.

He poked and prodded, brought in another doctor to check it out, and in the end, put his hand on my shoulder and said “Well, you are just strange!”

I could have told him that without the $10 copay.

He was no closer to knowing what was up, so he ordered bloodwork and told me, if it hadn’t cleared up in two days, to call the local imaging center for a CT scan.

Two days later, not only hadn’t it cleared up, it had gotten bigger, so I called and scheduled the CT scan.

The next day, I got a call that the bloodwork came back and was clean.

So, hurdle one, cleared.


The next week, I went for the scan.

It was a CT scan with contrast.

They hadn’t been sure that they were going to do the contrast because of my shellfish allergy.

They had me bring my inhaler, take Benadryl, and were prepared for disaster.

That really set me at ease.

The woman warned me, beforehand, exactly what it was going to feel like when the IV fluid was going in.

She said it was going to be hot, and then I’d feel flushed and hot from the chin to “the groin” and I’d feel like I had peed in my pants.

“The dye can’t actually make you urinate, but you will definitely think you did.”

Sounded lovely.

“The most important thing,” she told me, “Is that you don’t move. Not even a fraction of an inch.”


I lay back in the machine and closed my eyes, and the table began to move me through slowly.

From the other room, she pushed the button that began the IV.

I felt it creeping up my arm, but it was freezing, and not even a little warm, like she had said.

I figured this was it.

The end.

I was having a reaction to the contrast, and that was why I was feeling it as cold instead of hot.

That my body was beginning to shut down.

To paralyze.

I was turning to stone.

And then…I began to flush.

My face felt hot and sweaty, and it traveled down my body until…

Oh no.

She was wrong.

I was the exception to the rule, and the dye had made me pee.

All over the table.

I was mortified.

I lay there in a pool of my own urine, and tried to figure out how to extricate myself from the situation with grace and just a little bit of dignity.

But, I never moved.

Finally, the table slid back out of the machine, and she came in.

“All done!”

I sat up, ready to explain what had happened, when I realized, I was dry.

And all the weird sensations were gone.

“How was it?” she asked.

“Great,” I responded. “I barely noticed a thing.”


Fast forward a few days, and I get a call from the doctor.

“So, the results are in,” he says. “Everything is clear. There doesn’t appear to be anything there.”

“Wow! That’s great!” I say. “So, um, what the heck is going on?”

“I honestly don’t know,” he said.

“Hey!” I said. “I have an idea… maybe it’s bunched muscles or something? I recently started working out with kettle bells, and it works different muscles than usual, and it’s possible, right?”

There was silence on the other end of the phone.

“Right?” I asked, again, a little more desperately this time.

He hesitated, and I couldn’t help but wonder what it could possibly be.

Not cancer…the bloodwork was clear.

Not a cyst…the CT was clear.

So, what was it that he was so terrified to tell me?

What could it be that had him, a trained doctor, trying to find the words to say?


He cleared his throat and spoke softly.

“Actually…I think it’s just…fat.”

Now it was my turn to be silent.

Finally, I mustered an “Excuse me?”

“I think it might be a new pocket of fat.”

I thanked him and hung up and sat there, at my desk, incredulous.

Grateful, believe me.

Very grateful that it wasn’t cancer or anything dangerous or anything that would require surgery.


I was dumbfounded.


On top of my freaking shoulders?

I no longer have to just worry about my butt, my thighs, and my belly.

Now, I need to worry about collecting fat on top of my shoulders?

And so, if you need me, I’ll be doing bench presses in the basement so I don’t wind up having to wear a turtleneck bathing suit next summer.

But, hey, maybe if it’s migrating from other parts of my body,  I’ll fit into skinny jeans sooner than I’d hoped!

October 5, 2015

Tall Drink of Water

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

Monkey Girl has always been tall.

In nursery school, she was always the tallest kid in her class.

In elementary school, she towered over the boys.

By middle school, some of the girls had caught up, and by the end of 8th grade, the boys had generally caught up, and her friend group included some supermodel tall young ladies, and she was no longer walking around, hunched over, trying to appear as though she wasn’t the Big Bird to the Bert and Ernie’s of her peer group.

But, I will never forget those early years.

Because she was tall, everyone expected her to behave like an older child.

In stores, if she was acting two, when she actually was two, people would look and shake their heads, because they would assume she was four.

When I would pick her up from nursery school, they would say “Well, she was sucking her thumb again. We talked to her again and are trying to figure out a reward system to help her stop.”

I’d say “I’m fine with her sucking her thumb. She’s three.”

And they’d smile at me and say “She has to grow up sometime, Amy.”

I’d smile back and say “Yes. Some day. But not when she’s three.”

And when she was five and she was ready…

She stopped.


Well, now I’ve got another tall one.

And he’s only gonna get taller.

But, right now, he’s only 11, (and he’d kill me if he ever heard me say this), 11 is little.

I’ll say it again…when you are 11, you are a little kid.

Granted, 11 today is different than 11 when we were kids, but at the end of the day, they are still pretty new to life and need to be treated as such.

And that’s hard to remember when you are eye to eye with the person you are trying to teach a life lesson to.

I curb the impulse to say “Knock it off and act your age” because he usually is acting his age.

He just looks like a 15 year old behaving like an 11 year old.

Age is not a license to act like an idiot, but it definitely is a reason why silly can sometimes be okay.


I dropped him off at a 6th grade social tonight.

He walked in among the other kid; head and shoulders above them all.

I whispered in his ear, before he ran ahead of me “Make good choices,” and I think he probably will.

But he looked so grown up with his hair gel and size one million sneakers, and in my head, I finished my thought “…and if you don’t…let the adults remember that even though you look big, you are just a little kid.”


So, if I was going to wrap up this post in a neat, little bow, I guess I’d do it by reminding you not to judge a little, tiny book by it’s great, big cover.


Being a teacher and a parent, the one thing I always make sure to remember is that all of my students are someone’s babies.

Even the ones that I have to physically look up to.

October 1, 2015

The Faithful

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
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So, Francis came to town earlier this week.

Pope Francis, that is.

And, everywhere he went, he was surrounded by “the faithful.”

Throngs of people, hoping for a glimpse, a wave, a touch.

I watched the crowds on tv and couldn’t help but wonder to myself…

Are they all really faithful?


I’ve been very up front about my relationship with organized religion.

To say it is conflicted would be an understatement.

But, as I said, I am up front about it.

I certainly don’t pretend to be one thing while secretly believing something else.

Or believing nothing at all.

I have no idea what I believe, and I’m the first to admit it.

Faith is not something that comes easy to me.

Circumstances throughout my life have taught me some hard lessons, and one of those lessons is, you gotta see it to believe it, and, unfortunately, even then, it’s best not to trust it completely.

So, I’m a hard sell.

I don’t buy the argument that you have to be religious in order to be a good person.

You know the one. It says: if you aren’t working toward an eternal reward, or following an ancient set of rules of behavior, you must not be a good person, because why else would you want to do unto others?

I call B.S. on that one, because I want to be a good person because I think we’ve only got one shot at this thing, and being as kind as you can, as often as you can is the best way to make sure you leave this world a better place than it was when you got here.

But, I digress…


So, I was looking at the crowd, and I was wondering about other crowds.

Crowds in the synagogue on Saturday night or the church on Sunday morning.

How many people who go to church are true believers?


My father’s mother was a believer.

You wanna talk faith?

That woman had it oozing out of her pores.

My father’s father?

I think he might have just been along for the ride.

He dutifully went to church with her, every Sunday.

Heck, he even became the church sexton, and cleaned that place from top to bottom.

But, I’m not sure that he really believed.

I think he was kinda going through the motions…

Doing what he had been told was the right thing to do since he was a child.

And I know he’s not the only one.


I go to church.

I go on Sunday and I sing in the choir and I play the handbells and I enjoy it.

I like the community of church.

I like the sameness of it.

I’m a church traditionalist, I guess you could say.

For a non-maybe-I-don’t-really-know-believer, I was ridiculously upset when they updated our hymnal to make the songs more modern and pc.

I am one of the bloodiest of the bleeding heart liberals, and feminism is my middle name, but I am more than A-OK with singing “Good Christian Men, Rejoice” and just won’t sing it as “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice.”

If I’m honest, though, I don’t feel like I’m necessarily hearing “the Word.”

The message is great, and often stays with me throughout the week, but I have been blessed (or just lucky?) to go to a church that has had many, many years of great writers and speakers from the pulpit.

But, it can’t just be me, right?

There have to be other people out there who are there, but aren’t really “there.”

People who drank the Kool Aid, but are thinking it tastes more like Hi-C?


Someone said to me, once, it’s really brave of you to just be so out there with your doubts.

I disagree.

I kinda feel like my not-knowing is the coward’s way out.

Because the real courage?

The real going out on a limb and hanging by your fingertips?

That’s faith.

Believing in something…really believing in something…way down deep in your soul…that you can’t prove is real.

I just can’t help but wonder if there are way fewer of the brave out there than we all guess, and how many people are just putting on a good show.

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