Author Archives: twilson

About twilson

Teacher, mom, writer

Words

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I lay on my back looking up at the stars and readied my slingshot. At first I thought that I should shoot beautiful words up to those shiny stars, but remembered how much we needed those words here, on Earth. I flung anger up into the sky. I shot ugly right up to the stars, quickly joined by despair, hurt, greed and lonely. I loaded my slingshot again and stood, and as I walked I shot the word love at my neighbor’s house. I flung compassion at an office building. I shot hope at a hospital and warmth at a man on a park bench. I rocketed peace and genuine and connection and growth and joy. But one word I kept close, in my pocket, saved just for me.

 

 

NO

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My eighteen-year-old son went running the other night. As a white mom with a white son, my only concern was that he should wear something reflective so cars could see him. It did not cross my mind for even one second to talk to him about what to do if the police stopped to question him. I would never in a million years think I needed to tell him never to put his hands near his pockets.

 

But this is a conversation black moms are having with their sons every day. And I am so fucking sorry about that. THIS is why we need to stand and say #blacklivesmatter.

 

I support police officers. I truly am thankful that some people have chosen an occupation where they risk their lives to keep people safe.

 

I also believe that whenever people are in a position of power over other people, whether it’s physical, spiritual, financial, political or any other, there is the possibility for that power to be misused. And when that happens it is our job as human beings to stand up and say NO.

 

When SOME priests sexually abuse children we say NO.

When SOME teachers use physical punishment against children with disabilities we say NO.

And when SOME police officers consistently target people of color with the use of excessive force we say NO.

 

Most importantly we stand with the people who are being targeted. We tell them, “We see you and we see what is happening.” We stand together and we say NO. Over and over we say it.

Write…again

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Writing is hard

Bringing characters you love

Into the world and creating their story

And then sending them out into

The world to be judged

And when the feedback is

Tough it feels like

Sadness

And

Giving up

On the characters

And their story

And the kids who you

Pictured reading the story

And

Yourself

And then deciding

If you’re brave enough

To try again

And again

And again

Like your characters do

Like the kids who will read

Your story do

And you decide that you

Are

Brave enough

And begin to write

Again

 

Exit 21

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Her hands held the steering wheel as a ray of sunshine glinted off her silver bracelet, catching her eye. It was a Pandora that her kids had chipped in to buy her for Christmas a couple years ago. She looked at the book charm that her husband had added to the bracelet. There was also an apple from a former student and a little boy and girl representing her grandchildren. On a whim, for her birthday she had bought herself an airplane and suitcase charm. These were her favorite although she would never tell her family that. She realized that she usually didn’t even remember the drive to work anymore. It felt like one of her favorite books, A Wrinkle in Time. She got in her car in the morning stowing her big bag and settling her coffee in the cup holder. Then before she knew it, it would be like the road folded up and she was already pulling into the parking lot at work.

Today seemed different. What if? She thought. What if I just got off at a random exit and had an adventure instead of going into work today. She’d driven this same route for ten years, every single day, driving past all the exits she had never taken. Maybe today I’ll take exit 21, she thought and started making up stories about the cars that took exit 21. She decided that they’re probably going up to the mountains to a little cabin in the woods to sit by the fire in their pajamas, reading and drinking hot chocolate as they watch the snow fall outside. They don’t even care if there’s a storm because they don’t have to get up an hour early to shovel the drive and scrape the ice off the car windows. Or if it’s summer, she pictues those lucky exit 21 people heading to a lake to sit on the dock sipping white wine and snacking on expensive cheese and crackers. I could be those people. Maybe today’s the day. My car will veer off at the last second. To hell with exit 54. Where has exit 54 ever gotten me? Exit 21 became the stuff of dreams.

I’m doing it she decided. Exit 19, 20, 21. She steered her car off the exit, her heart beating fast. She seemed to be the only car on the road. I wonder where this will take me she thought. She followed the winding mountain road until she saw a roadblock ahead. As she got closer she could read the sign, “Road Closed”. She stopped her car, climbed out and started laughing. “Figures, “she said out loud. She plucked her coffee mug out of its holder and leaned on the hood of her car, sipping the coffee and contemplating the sign. After she took her last sip, she got back in her car, turned around and thought, well maybe tomorrow I’ll try exit 38.

To Panic or Not to Panic

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I have been in Texas for almost exactly one year, and I have noticed that Texans do not panic. And as a newcomer, this is quite problematic for me, because in new and unfamiliar situations, I look to those around me in order to know how quickly and to what degree I should be freaking out. Here are a few examples.

I am sitting in a nail salon watching the sky outside darken, and I hear phone alerts going off around me. Ladies are calmly checking their phones for the latest weather advisory as they continue chatting and sipping fancy lemon-water. The phone warnings keep getting louder and more urgent. I look at these women’s faces. Help me out here ladies. I’m new to tornado warnings. Are we supposed to panic? Should I be heading to the basement? Oh crap! There are no basements! I sit with my pretty red toenails under the dryer and continue to look at my fellow pedicurians for the slightest sign of worry. I don’t see it! But as the phones continue to alarm and the rain comes down harder and the wind is whipping the trees around, I decide to be my own woman and panic to the very best of my ability. To hell with my pretty, not-quite-yet-dry nails. The nice salon workers calmly check me out and tell me to have a nice afternoon.

A co-worker tells me that there was once a snake in her office. Um what? Did you say a snake? “Oh-my gosh! What did you do?” I ask horrified, thinking she must have called some special Texas dangerous reptile hotline.
“I caught it in the recycling bucket and took it outside,” she says.
Pardon me? You what?

I overhear another co-worker, a single young lady; telling about a coyote that was near her house and acting abnormally the previous evening. It was getting too close and didn’t seem at all scared of her, or her dogs. She couldn’t get it to go away. Again, I ask, “Oh my gosh! What did you do?”
“I shot it,” she says.
“You shot it?”
“Not to kill it. Just to scare it.”
Oh of course! Just to scare it.

See what I mean? Texans do not panic! I am pretty sure that even if a tornado were actually in sight, headed straight for her house, a Texan would just look calmly at her kids, tell them to climb in the bathtub for a few minutes, and to bring some snacks while they were at it.

Listen. I am from the North and I am not used to venomous creatures, tornadoes or shooting stuff. So be assured that in situations of which I am unsure, I will panic. Just to let you know, if the TV says there is a tornado warning, I will be in my closet with my bike helmet securely fastened.

And co-workers, if I miss work for a few days, you can assume that I have barricaded myself in my house because there is a rattlesnake in my yard and I am waiting for it to leave of it’s own volition.

But I’ll tell you what, if there is ever a zombie apocalypse, I want to be with the Texans. I’ll be running around freaking out yelling, “ZOMBIES!!!”
They’ll be like, “Yup.”
“Don’t panic.”
“Just climb in the bathtub for a few minutes.”
Then they’ll shoot the zombies and stuff ‘em in a recycling bucket.

If I ever do see a Texan panic, I’m throwing in the towel. It will mean the end of the world has truly come. No doubt about it.

Graduation

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When I was pregnant with you
I couldn’t wait for you to be born
Because I was so excited to meet my baby boy

When you were born and I held you
You looked at me with those big eyes
And then peed all over
I smiled and said, “Hey Kid, nice to meet you. I’m your mom.”

Hey Kid, I remember you in your baby seat and our cat Ellie
Doing some silly thing
You looked over at me and we smiled at each other
Sharing our first joke

Hey Kid, we spent many hours exploring the world together
I got to see through your eyes as we fought dragons with sticks
And collected beautiful rocks and looked for crawfish in the pond
Coming home muddy and tired and so happy

Hey Kid, I comforted you when you were sick, or sad, or hurt
A snuggle and a Band-aid
Band-aids were magic
Able to heal any broken heart

Hey Kid, today I watch you walk across the stage, ready to leap into your next adventure
I am so proud of you and excited to see where you will go
But I am the one who today
May need a magic Band-aid and a snuggle