Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Say it ain't so, Raych

I got home around 5:30 today; I'd already missed the first Rachael Ray episode. Tim was grilling, so I sat down with a cup of coffee to watch the second one. (I'd planned to get in a good walk, but on the way home something came over me and I felt awful; this is happening a lot lately.) Anway, I thought the coffee and Rachael would give me a second wind. Three minutes into the episode, she picked up a vegetable peeler and started peeling potatoes with it. Well, I'm sorry, but it was like the fall of an idol or something. She might just as well have opened a box of instant mashed potatoes or hamburger helper as far as I'm concerned. Do real cooks use vegetable peelers. No, they do not. Real cooks use paring knives for peeling. Vegetable peelers are for people who use cake mix and minute rice. I could forgive her for having an extra vowel in her name, but not this.

Life of Pi is getting better and better; the only problem is I am so swamped with work I don't have time to finish it. By the time I finish everything at night and open it, I'm falling asleep. I love the section toward the beginning about his conversion to Christianity and then to Islam the next day (in addition to being a Hindu already). It's good stuff.

Anthony Burger will be buried tomorrow, I think. The e-mail I got last Thursday morning about his death just took something out of me. I couldn't shake the heavy feeling all day. I can't say that I like Southern gospel music, because I really don't. Not the lyrics (most of them anyway) and not the sound. And yet, because it was such a part of my growing-up years, I still keep up with all the artists. My aunt and uncle used to follow them around and one of my uncles sang and played guitar in a gospel quartet. We'd go to hear the Speer family or the Hemphills, and we knew all their songs. Angela and Pat and I would sit right on front and sing so loud they'd call us up to do numbers by ourselves. They'd put us up on a piano bench so everyone could see us, and we'd get after it, singing rounds and parts. We did sound good. Now, when I'm feeling nostalgic, I'll put in a Gaither Homecoming video and listen and sing along. The girls will walk through the room, and I'll say "See that woman? That's Candy Christmas. I sang for her once. She told me I was a good little singer. See that man? That's Ben Speer. I sang for him several times. He picked me up and put me on a piano stool. I sang a song about Joshua and the walls of Jericho tumbling down. He played the piano for me." The girls will say, "Mama, you've told us that a million times."

I'll bet Candy Christmas and those Speer women use paring knives to peel potatoes.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Note to Maja

Maja, our district superintendent called a faculty meeting yesterday to tell us about a new computer program the district has purchased that will "instantly assess student writing" with a four-point rubric. I held my tongue because I've come to understand that the name of the game (and game it is) is the standards-driven quick fix and I've learned to quietly keep the faith and fight the fight in other ways. When I got home, I started supper, turned on the computer, and found the e-mail notification of your response to my rubric blog. I was thinking to myself, "Maja Wilson, Maja Wilson. The name rings a bell." But, I couldn't place it. I went back to the kitchen to slice onions and mushrooms, and that's when it hit me. You're the author of Rethinking Rubrics. I don't know how you found my blog, but let me tell you this: the first thing I thought was, "Shoot! I hope she doesn't read yesterday's entry and tell Alfie Kohn about my star chart!" The reason I ordered your book from Heinemann is that Alfie Kohn wrote the foreword. Or, at least, that's what caught my eye initially. I probably would've ordered it anyway after reading the description, because this is the time of year I am supposed to introduce the state writing rubric to my first graders so they'll have a jump start on it for second grade, when their writing will be assessed by it. And, consequently, this is the time of year I struggle with my deep conviction that they do not need the cursed thing because they are just becoming fairly adept at the conversational tools that yield deeper and fuller results than the state rubric, which somehow has a dehumanizing effect. Perhaps because it is not, after all, human?

I begin writing instruction in August using "organic vocabulary", or "key vocabulary", as Sylvia Ashton-Warner dubbed it in her New Zealand classroom in the 1960's. I won't go into all of it, but the stories grow from these organic words (hopes, fears, love, sex) and the conversation surrounding them. All of the narrative writing we do stems from these inner thoughts, feelings, and images. "Success" is in how it affected us (laughter, tears, anger, snorts, "wonderings", intense personal connections). Enter the rubric-an intruder, without blood or breath, lacking the ability to laugh/cry/wonder/connect- and suddenly the success of a piece is to be measured against this list? Grade level vocabulary? Their word choice is well beyond grade level vocabulary; it is the vocabulary of their very lives. On topic? Why wouldn't it be? And it is so very easy to get a 4 on this rubric, and so then, even though I absolutely do not indicate to the children in any way that a 4 is what we're shooting for and we should be satisfied with it, suddenly these children with whom I have worked so hard to root out that need for extrinsic motivation that far too many of them have as a result of being alive for six years in our society, are satisfied with less than they should be, because they "topped out" on the rubric.

Recently, I was gathering materials and planning an outline for a study group I am leading on reading like a writer with the six traits in mind, and I took a quick break to check out some discussion forums I frequent. A member of one of the forums, a dyslexic man, had written this:

"I want to write but some one might read it but I want to writemaybe I can write in a code but know no code and some one might break the code and read But I want to write but some one might read it maybe I can write very small but some may enlarge it and then some one might read it I want to write but I can not spell good which would make it hard to read but some one might be able to read it anyway O how fears hold us back from doing what we want to do Now I wrote for fun and games but we all must work to over come our fears"

A powerful piece, and yet it would not score at all well on the six point rubric I'd just been looking over.

I need to get out of here and pick up my daughter from cheerleader practice, but I did want to get a quick response to you. I just remembered that when I went to Heinemann to place an order that day, I was looking for books for our local writing project teacher consultants to discuss on our discussion board. I'm wondering if you would consider facilitating a discussion of Rethinking Rubrics on our board.

And yet, last night I was reading the portfolio entries of two National Board candidates, and I had the rubric beside me the whole time, dissecting the entry for evidence of the key components.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I just watched Rachel Ray make baked ziti and spinach/artichoke salad. I've started watching Rachel every night from five 'til six, two back-to-back 30 Minute Meals episodes. I can't watch unless I'm cooking, too. All of her meals involve a lot of chopping, and I find that very therapeutic. So while Rachel is pulling all of her ingredients out of the fridge and pantry, I do the same, pretty much deciding what we'll have as I go. Tonight, I quartered some of every vegetable in the house--two kinds of potatoes, squash, onions, carrots--put it all in a pan drizzled with olive oil. It's roasting right now and smells great. When Tim and the girls get home from the gym, we'll have those with some pork chops, peas, and rice.

This weekend, I read two novels. One by S. E. Hinton, who wrote The Outsiders. Strange, strange novel, this new adult one she's written. I would never have picked it up if I'd known it was a vampire story, but nothing on the jacket indicated that it was. The other is about a woman who coddled her son from the moment he was born--never let him suffer any consequences for his actions, had him switched around to another class if a teacher crossed him in any way, made phone calls if a coach wouldn't play him, etc. Sick. The novel was a sort of retrospective piece; she was looking back on his life the night before he was sentenced for murder in a drug deal gone bad. Now I've started The Life of Pi.

I'm doing a lot of reading these days and I'm beginning to have problems with my eyes. My arm is not quite long enough anymore. I just sat here and read through several course outlines from MIT's online courses. I was talking with Vernon earlier today, just for a second or two, and he gave me the link. Some of those courses look great. The readings and handouts are all there. It looks like a gold mine to me. Of course, you don't get any credit but I have never cared about that. Speaking of that, please don't anyone tell Alfie Kohn this, but I actually made a--are you ready for this?-- star chart Friday. I know. It's terrible. I felt cheap and ridiculous. But that's just how big a problem I'm having this year with parents bringing their children late and checking them out early. So I started a star chart for attendance and --you will not believe this--there will be rewards attached. I almost could not even type that. It's a long story and those of you who know how I feel about these things need to just trust me when I say it was necessary.

I guess we all have our quirks. One of mine is that I cannot be without earrings. I just don't feel right without them. The other morning, I went to the bathroom when I got to work, and noticed I only had one earring in. I didn't know if I'd lost the other one or what. One of my favorite pairs, too. I knew I didn't have any in my purse, but I searched through it anyway. So I just picked up the phone and called the florist when they opened at eight. Do you have some earrings, silver-tone, medium-sized, around ten or fifteen dollars? Let me check, ma'am. Be right back. (Pause.) Ma'am? We have some nice ovals with a dangling gemstone in the center for thirty. Is that all? Well, there are some small sterling silver hoops for ten, and some medium-sized ones for fourteen. Okay, I'll just take the ten dollar ones. I have an account there, and I need them delivered to the elementary school, room 104. What do you want me to put on the card? No card. No card? Do you want me to say they're from you or is it a surprise? No surprise. I lost an earring and I need a pair to wear today. (Pause.) Okay. You know there's a delivery charge? Sure, that's fine. Just bring them as soon as you can.

She brought them, and declined the tip I offered for hush money. She said my secret was safe with her. But. When we went out to the buses that afternoon, several people asked me about it, laughed, thought it was funny. Small towns are like that.

There's a slush machine in the cafeteria now. I cannot understand their thinking at all. About three weeks ago, all soft drinks were removed from the coke machines and replaced with "fruit drinks" that, according to the Coke man, have several more grams of sugar than any of the soft drinks he took out. The reason we were given is that there were some concerns about the health of the children, childhood obesity, etc. Fine. Okay. However, a typical lunch in the cafeteria is corn dog/cheeseburger/nachos, fries/tater tots, a vegetable that the children are not required to pick up, a dessert, a freezer full of ice cream sandwiches, chocolate dipped cones, etc. that they can purchase for fifty cents extra. Now a slush machine. WHAT????? Well, as if lunch were not already stressful enough for first grade teachers--we already serve all the food, clean up spills, open milk and ketchup and ice cream and plastic-wrapped plastic forks-- now we have to handle the slush money and remind them to take it to the cafeteria, etc. Shontelle says the only way we can survive is to laugh. She says we absolutely, positively must laugh. It is imperative that we laugh. Imperative. So we crack ourselves up by exaggerating the whole slush thing when the children leave to go to P.E. A typical conversation, with her words in italics, mine in bold: Slush machines are vile instruments from the pits of hell. Yes, straight from the bowels of Hades. Slush machines were invented by male Nazis. Yes, the plans were drawn up in a bunker in Berlin, perfected in the council halls of Mordor, constructed in Calormen. Well, there's one good thing, at least. They took those wicked Sprites and Mr. Pibbs out of here. At least.

I'm listening to a tape series by Robert Oden on Comparative Religion. It's really good; better than I expected. There are twelve lessons, I think, and I've only heard four.

I'd better go check the food. In the middle of this, I put on a pot of pasta and threw in every kind of cheese we have in the refrigerator. That's what Rachel does.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It Ain't Easy Having Principles

1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Another Valentine's Day ruined by those dadgum florist deliveries. Every February 14, I spend the school day trying to teach the children about friendship and love. Not that I don't do it every day, through class meetings and implicit interactions, of course. But on Valentine's Day, it's sort of our theme. This morning, we exchanged valentines, read books about friendship, read 1 Corinthians 13, made homemade cards for family members and talked about how yeah sure, you could go to the store and buy something, but a handmade gift contains something of the giver in a way that a purchased gift does not. This afternoon, the children did all of their learning activities in pairs and small groups, working together toward answers, celebrating the putting of heads and hearts together to complete projects. Then we had our party and listened to the soundtrack from The Preacher's Wife, a class favorite, and the Eagles' Love will Keep us Alive and Dobie Gray's Drift Away, both teacher favorites. So it should have been a good day, right? But no, because around 2:00 those stinkin' florist deliveries started up, and eleven of the children got crap from their parents, Mommies and Daddies who "love them" and want to do it publicly. I knew it was coming, but there was not a thing in the world I could do to stop it. Suddenly, we are not a community working together, we are "us" and "them". The tears started up, the downcast faces where smiles had been moments before. A rotten ending to what should be a day of love and friendship. All because some parents are hellbent on "vaunting", "puffing up", and "seeking their own". You tell me what other reason there could be for sending a gift to the school rather than giving it in a family setting when they get home? There is no other reason. There's just not. I watch it every year. I put half of them on the buses crying and upset because they don't understand why they didn't get a balloon or a teddy bear or a pail full of candy, and the ones who did get something are suddenly looking down on the have nots. And then I walk back to the crowd of teachers and give my yearly speech about the evils of elitism and greed, and loudly proclaim how much I despise the weak administrators who will not stand up to the florist and say we don't give a rip how much money you lose, we only care about the best interests of the children, and we will no longer accept deliveries on Valentine's Day. Then I add, because I can't help myself, I just can not, that the worst of all evils is a teacher who sends something to her own children at school. Because those people who work in town don't see all the crying have nots, but teachers do and should therefore know better. Lizzie was one of the ones in tears today, asking why all her friends got balloons and she didn't. Before I could say anything, Hannah said, "Give it up, Lizzie. Your mother has to make a statement."

I know people look down their noses at me and my causes, and I just don't care. Well, sometimes I do, but today I don't. I do pray for forgiveness for despising the weak, though. I do. I mean, I know for a fact that some of those teachers, even though they see the wrong as much as I do, and they have to comfort the have nots, too, send balloons to their own children so that they will not be among the crying. All I've got to say about that is that rather than saying, when they're grown, "What I remember about Mama is that she always sent me something from the florist on Valentine's Day", I want them to say, "What I remember about Mama is that she had principles and always championed the cause of the have nots."

Valentine's Day at the Atwoods was very nice, though. Very nice. It always is, and I am filled with gratitude that I am so blessed. Tim is very good to us. I had planned to sit down tonight and write about my birthday and my special birthday supper that he went all over Hattiesburg to get. All my favorites from different places, from the crab- stuffed mushrooms to the white chocolate bread pudding with raspberry sauce. But I had no idea it had gotten so late, and I need to get to bed.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Four Tens and a One

The children and I have been doing lots of explorations with place value lately, grouping straws with rubber bands, snapping unifix cubes, and then today I threw out some dimes and pennies since we'll be starting money in a few weeks. I've had about all I can take of missing addends--three of them still can't get it in spite of my very best efforts and the help of their classmates--so the money was a welcome change. Funny how the children who struggle with literacy can sometimes pick right up on difficult math concepts. It was that way with missing addends. Alexis is class champ at filling in those missing numbers, yet has the lowest reading level.

I am having a good year. Really, I am. One of the best in a long time. But. . . Some of these children are flat out lazy. That's the only word for it. It is hard, as a teacher, to admit failure to motivate. Very hard. And yet I have failed with a handful this year. They are disorganized, irresponsible. J____ leaves his reading book at home two or three days a week, every week. When the district reading specialist leveled my class last week, he read a level below the minimum level for January. When I saw his score, I was so very irritated with him, I just let him have it. He reads a level above minimum for me, and it is because I absolutely make him do it. He knows when he reads to me he'd better darn sure use every strategy I've taught him because he knows I know he can do it. But the reading specialist said he'd come to an unknown word and just look at her to supply it. After she'd told him a word or two, he thought he'd found a free ride, and he just let her pretty much tell him everything rather than analyze for structure or attend to meaning. So I've doubled up on his reading time this week, and he has such poor habits because he flat out doesn't care. This afternoon, while the children were having snacks, I called him back to the computer to watch me type a letter to his dad about a home reading plan I want them to follow. Then I took him to the book boxes and let him choose two level 12 books to take home in addition to an anthology he's been working on. I put the letter in his folder, and told him to pack his books in his backpack. About 10 minutes later, when I lined them up for the buses, I happened to glance over at his table and I'll be dadgum if those books, all three of them, weren't sitting there in the basket where he'd put them instead of packing them. I will not even say what I said to that child. I am just so very, very weary of being the only one who cares. I need more than a little cooperation from him.

Lizzie was invited to another sorority party today. What am I going to do about this? I thought those were all over, but I see that I was wrong. Friday afternoon, no less. Why in heaven's name don't those mothers want to go home on a Friday afternoon? Why would they choose to do Valentine's Day arts and crafts?

I don't feel at all well. Around noon today, I started getting a really bad headache and it hasn't let up. I think I'm running fever, too. I stopped by the grocery store to buy food, and I didn't even enjoy the produce section, which is usually one of life's greatest pleasures for me. Especially since the produce manager showed me how to open those plastic produce bags. I'm pretty sure I wrote about that here; I recently sat down and did some calculations and found that I'd spent about nine and a half years of my life fighting with those produce bags whereas now, thanks to the produce manager, I simply wet my fingertips on some fruit and those bags open right up for me. I did find some gorgeous pears today, and some nice hearts of Romaine. I bought a bag of shredded cabbage, too, because I've started eating a handful of it on my daily lunch salad. Now that I'm almost four tens and a one, and especially since the cancer scare, I am trying to get nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. It takes some creativity, let me tell you.

I've been thinking a lot about communication lately. And also miscommunication. You just never know how someone is going to take what you say. Only God, and others who love you, see the intent of the heart. I think sometimes people just decide not to look on the heart. They make the conscious decision to see and hear the worst. That's what I think.

Now if I could talk about hairdressers for a minute or two. Talk about miscommunication. Why do hairdressers never hear what you say? If you say "just a little trim" you could walk out of there not recognizing yourself. I went last week to my hairdresser, and I do love Danita, and told her to take a little more than usual off the length. About an inch and a half. THE LENGTH, I said. THE LENGTH. So why'd she take off an inch and a half all over? I'm putting a photo here, taken today by one of my students, and you can see that the top layers are pretty short. That makes it hard to deal with. I like the layers to be long, because short hair is too high maintenance. When you're four tens and a one (almost) you don't need high maintenance hair.

I am almost finished with a tape series by Luke Johnson on the letters of Paul. Good stuff. I especially like the part about the faith of Jesus.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Strokes for Folks

SMWP functions never fail to impress me. Last night, at our Continuity Meeting at Cane Creek, Jen led us through a poetry writing experience that brought me to some harsh realizations about my life. I guess it's really the power of writing that never fails to make an impression on me, or is it the power of good writing instruction? At any rate, some changes are in order for me, and all because of that writing experience. Thanks, Jen.

Speaking of writing, I ran across a piece at Dane Conrad's blog that brought a smile to my face: http://www.wethreeconrads.com/index.php?module=announce&ANN_user_op=view&ANN_id=3. That little Reed is quite a cutie, and I will pray that Dane and Darcie help her find the lamppost.

Uplifting experiences are everywhere for me these days, it seems. After being totally burned out the last three or four years with National Board mentoring, I met two fantastic teachers from Petal last Saturday. Dr. Foxworth e-mailed me late last week to ask if I could work with "two crackerjack teachers" the next day. When I read the e-mail, I sat here thinking "I'd rather be shot at sunrise, walk across glass, have my teeth pulled out with pliers". But, it was Marilyn making the request, and Marilyn is all about giving and she inspires me to give, so I went. She was right. Leigh Cliburn and Tessa Trim are crackerjacks. It was refreshing to read their work. Makes me want to move back to Petal so Lizzie can be in their classes.

I got a laptop computer last week, and I've hardly had time to turn the thing on. I don't know why I bought it; purely impulse. It was the daily special on HSN, and I watched the presentation three or four times, thinking I didn't need it, but then somehow before the end of the day I'd placed the order. Just to show how much I do not need it, I'd forgotten about it completely when the UPS man knocked on the door last Wednesday. "Got your Gateway here." I almost told him we didn't order a Gateway, but then I remembered that I had. My question: How do you print from a laptop?

Yesterday I was playing Whitney Houston's "You Are Loved" while the children were working some math problems. (Yes, I know you're not supposed to play songs with lyrics while children are working, but the teacher needed it.) Katie Bug stopped working, stood, looked around for a few minutes, said "I just have to dance" and started leaping and pirouetting around the room. The other children watched for a while, then went back to work. When the song was over, Katie Bug sat down and finished her work too. It would seem that the environment is safe.

Jaydn is excited that he may get to "ride in a limbo". His mother got married in Las Vegas over the weekend, and he might get to go there soon and take a ride.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Looking On

The Halifax Explosion has been very much on my mind lately. I have even entertained the notion of perhaps going there, looking at the harbor, trying to imagine what is must have been like on that tragic day when all those people, ordinary people like me, were drawn to their windows to watch those burning ships and were killed, maimed, or blinded as a result of their onlooking. What is it about catastrophic events that draws us to look on?

My principal was fired this week. I have been an onlooker of this catastrophic event, watching and knowing that the handwriting was on the wall for quite some time. I watched, saying what I could when I could, knowing that it was futile. Onlookers are sometimes killed, sometimes maimed, sometimes blinded, sometimes escape unharmed, but seldom walk away unaffected.

If January was any indication of our activity level for the rest of 2006, I will be worn to a frazzle by December. There was the Visioning Retreat, Study Group meeting, mentoring session at USM, coffeehouse session with live music and poetry reading (which I skipped because by Friday night I could no longer put one foot in front of the other). Tomorrow night, we have a Continuity meeting at Cane Creek and I should be looking through my books right now, selecting titles to take to the book swap we're having, but it's really difficult for me to let go of a book. Right now, I'm reading six--five about writing and one about labor unions in the twenties( it is impossible for me to think in terms of abject poverty, of waking each day and having one's primary objective being to survive until day's end). One of the books I'm reading is entitled "Rethinking Rubrics". I've been rethinking rubrics for quite some time, and I don't know why I didn't write that book myself. I do, however, believe that rubrics are effective for a lot of projects, just maybe not for a piece of writing. I've seen them really bring down the level of writing among my first graders when I introduce them toward the end of the year. Suddenly, and for the first time, there are boundaries and definitions from without whereas, before, it was all organic and grew from within with no artificial additives, just well-prepared soil, air and light. Artificiality brings a kind of contamination of the previous purity and makes the writing less palatable.

This was an exceptionally hard week for me for a lot of reasons. I had to finally put my foot down about parental interruptions. Two of my parents were dropping in so often--sometimes twice each every day, which makes four interruptions from them alone, not counting the parents of the other 20 students who drop in only occasionally and when there is a good reason to do so. This is in addition to the phone calls these two make to my home every week, about three each, and then there are the e-mails. I was talking to these women sometimes eight times each week(sixteen conversations, count 'em). I have contact with most of the other parents two or three times a month, but these two would be waiting for me in the mornings at 7:15 (when I am trying to get ready for the day, and in spite of the fact that no one except staff is to be on campus before 7:30), show up every day during my planning time (which is for PLANNING, and which I already have too little of), and come early in the afternoons to check out their children (a crucial time when I am trying to bring closure to the day). A couple of weeks ago, I started trying to tactfully put a stop to the excessive visits, but they didn't get it so I had to be very firm. The funny thing is (well, not really funny to me at all) they thought this was so out of character for me they began to think something was "wrong with me", which made them increase their visits to "check on me" and their phone calls at night to "see if my day went alright". They even had gifts and balloons delivered from the florist to "pick me up" because I "wasn't myself". That kind of thing turns my stomach. I am not having bad days; I am trying to enforce the visitation rules in order to ensure uninterrupted learning time for my children. That's all I want: I don't want candles and balloons and toiletry items, no matter how nice they smell. I asked the principal to send a letter home reminding parents of the visitation and checkout policies, and he did. We'll see what happens.

Yesterday we made the three hour drive to Lake Tiak O'Khata to celebrate Cleve and Georgia's sixtieth wedding anniversary. I sure didn't like spending six hours in a car on a Saturday when my to-do list was (and still is) several pages long, but we did see a lot of old friends and had a good time of fellowship.

Hannah is getting funnier and funnier. The other night we went to Cracker Barrel to eat and I stayed at the table while Tim and the girls went to play checkers because the frazzled (aren't they all) waitress had not yet brought our ticket. While I was waiting, Hannah came and brought some tip money and told me Tim had said he paid when we came in. I knew that wasn't right, so I told her to go ask him again what he said. When she came back, she said, "Look, I just don't have a short term memory", and I said, "What'd he say, Dorie?" Without missing a beat, she said, "He said, 'Swim toward the throat'." There I was, thinking I'd been quick with the Dorie thing, but I can't get anything past her at all.

I had a cancer scare a couple of weeks ago, but the biopsy was normal and the symptoms that led me to the doctor in the first place seem to have disappeared for now. I wrote a long piece about it, but it all kind of runs together and doesn't make a lot of sense in its current form. I wrote it in two voices, a "living voice" and a "dying voice" and I think I could polish it and make something out of it except for the fact that I'm not dying anymore and when I wrote it I really thought I was. It would probably not be possible to recapture that mood.

I love to smell the crown of someone's head. Each crown has its own unique smell. This morning, Tim and Lizzie were sitting at the table counting money for a deposit. I smelled and kissed Lizzie's crown, then smelled and kissed Tim's. Totally different, and it has nothing to do with shampoo or styling products, either. I wonder what the crown of my head smells like. I'll never know.