In my work, we talk a lot about the importance of listening. I write about it in grant proposals; we talk about it in team meetings; we hold it up as a core organizational value. We know that the act of listening is essential to the processes of teaching and learning: transformative education isn't possible without it.  
As a parent, I know the importance of listening. Easily 80% of all family arguments are, at their crux, essentially about someone not listening to someone else. Mom gets mad because a kid didn't listen to her instructions and therefore didn't do a chore right for the fifth or fiftieth time in a row (hypothetically speaking); siblings fight with each other because one of them ignores the other's wishes or rights.  The wise observer can see that if these people would stop and truly listen to each other, the tension would ease, hurt feelings would heal, love and kindness would have space to grow.
Right now in our country, listening is more important than ev…

Sign of the Times

Sometimes, simply walking out the front door can be overwhelming.

Say, like, on day #66 of Shelter in Place which also happens to be day #TooMany of a godforsaken migraine that has had me hiding in a darkened room like a gothy troll.

As in: today.  I haven't been outside in two days because sunlight has been so hard to take.  But the love of my life has been pouring himself into our garden these days and I wanted to support him, so I ventured out cautiously to see his handiwork.  I was not prepared for the many ways in which the world would bombard me.

First, it was just too bright out there, and all that glorious light hurt my head and eyes. While I expected the pain, I did not expect the anger -- which I definitely felt, sharp and sudden.  I was instantly furious because I love the outdoors and do not like it causing me pain and discomfort.  So there I was, walking down my front path with a little bit of rage.

Second, Rick has done so much work! Seeing our beautiful garden emerge…

Music Love

Music is a fascinating teacher.

The more I play this fiddle, and the more music I listen to, the more fascinated I become.  Today, as I was listening to music while riding my exercise bike, I felt like I was falling into a little musical portal. I was so captivated by sound, it felt like catching a glimpse of what improvisation or composing might be like, what understanding the language of music must be like.

It amazes me that a musician knows exactly what sound she will hear if she plays a specific note.  And not as in, that right there is B flat, so I will hear a B flat.  As in, she knows the sound, can hear it in her head, before she plays it.  Maybe I'll get there someday.

Also on my mind lately?  The fact that scales are miraculous. A scale is like an autopilot coach for my fingers: do enough of them, and my fingers seem to start doing them perfectly on their own.  I am in love with music.  Playing it, listening to it, thinking about it, having it in the world.

For most of t…

We Left Resentment At the Lake

Yesterday, Tallulah and I went for a walk around Lake Merritt. We left at 8am, which apparently is excruciatingly early for a 13-year old person. The day before, she asked me if we could go for a hike. This being remarkable on many levels – not least of which the fact that she can barely tolerate my presence these days – I decided it had to happen. Then, by the time it did, she was just not that into me anymore. Ah, the difference a few short hours can make in the mother-daughter relationship.

I had to coax her with avocado toast and throw in a stop for hot chocolate just to get her out of bed. And before she would peel back the covers, she wanted to know where we were going. I guess she had to weigh the destination against her comfy pillow and warm blankets.  I had been researching places we could go that I wasn't already tired of and that were still open during SIP -- most of the places I thought of were closed.  Then I thought of Lake Merritt, which I've loved on my walks …

Blowing Stuff Up, Blowing Stuff Open

Driving with my daughter the other day, she said: "I really don't want to become a grown-up."

And in my mind, I answered her: Ahhh, daughter.  I hear you. This pandemic. The tragedy everywhere around us. Trump at his Trumpiest. The appalling behavior of other grown-ups and especially those in power. The shooting in Nova Scotia. The stories you hear on the news and in your parents' discussions about the state of the world.  It's all just too much, isn't it?

My heart clenched when she said those words, as my mind unspooled in a stream of second-guessing.  Maybe we shouldn't watch Rachel every night and bring that daily dose of downer and despair into our home.  And we definitely need to be checking in with the kids more and seeing how they are processing the news about the coronavirus and everything else going wrong around the world.  What kind of support does this child need? What do they all need?  What have I missed, what have I not noticed, while I'…

If We Were Siblings

Based on the news, my Twitter feed, and the depressing New Yorker articles I've been reading lately, I have come to the conclusion that life in the time of corona is marked by fear and mistrust.

Americans do not trust each other, and without that trust, we will not stand.  We will be a house divided.  If we could fight like siblings, we would stand a chance, but we fight instead like strangers who cut each other off in traffic and give each other the finger as we blaze past with furious indignation oozing from the glares we leave behind.

I wish we could fight like siblings.  Sure, we’d probably still flip each other the bird and we would definitely get just as enraged at perceived injustices and stupidity.  But maybe sometimes we would stick around to thrash it out too.


Everywhere I look, I see the ways in which we don't trust each other.  It's in the protestors who want to open the country back up, facing down the health care workers who want us to stay at home.  It…

Say Zoom One More Time

I dare you.  Go ahead.  Whisper it or shout. Weave it into conversation.  See what happens.

I can't be held responsible for the reflexive, bitter stream of vitriol that might come your way.  You have been warned.

Don't get me wrong.  I've zoomed my way through a few delightful happy hours with friends. My office HR department hosted a lovely little virtual water cooler gathering that warmed my heart.  My fiddle teacher's band live-streamed a concert in place of one they had to cancel, and it made me happy.  And there's no question that I am able to work from home productively thanks in no small part to the wonders of teleconferencing.

And yet.  My household participated in at least ten zoom meetings today, and we didn't make it to all of them.  With three "distance learners" and two "distance workers" -- none of whom have nearly enough distance from each other -- the bloom has officially faded from the rose of virtual meetings.  (We also ha…