Twelfth Day

Another weekend.

The second strike Saturday.

At Sam’s lesson in the morning, in Minneapolis, I am struck by how few people even know.

We scramble into the van and drive to my parents’ because it’s not like we have school on Monday. We see my nephew, visiting on Spring Break.

What now.

Eleventh Day

I’m mad today. My kids need to go to school. My kids’ teachers need to feel valued. My 50 words:

I hear a plane fly overhead. I want to get on it.

We’ve been school-free for eleven days.

Alice says she likes weekends but she likes school more.

I feel like an insect in a bug house inside a zoo. Watching other people get to do shit through compound eyes.

Tenth Day

For a few minutes, I thought it was over.

Thomas texts a Tweet. “MPS is happy to announce…” it reads. I can’t finish it because I’m driving.

If the district is happy about something, it’s got to be a deal. It’s over, I think. Will we get to go back tomorrow? Or Monday?

No. I misread; the strike continues.

Ninth Day

I don’t care that it’s nice out. This is hard. Another account of the day in 50 words.

I think of kids with special needs, needs beyond supervision.

I think of teachers having to work two jobs.

I think of how easy it is for us to go for a walk and I know it’s so hard to have the energy to Do This for days on end.

Eighth Day

Even though we have All Day, we wait until Normal Time to practice. Then I look up and see it’s 8:15 PM and no one is in jams. Then I realize time doesn’t matter.

I remember distance learning kicking us into outer space where we spun – still alive, somehow – untethered.

Seventh Day

I am confident we won’t have school the rest of the week.

Here are 50 words about the day. This one is “No Change.”

The district e-mails. The subject line is, “Negotiations continue; classes canceled Tuesday,” leading me to believe they think we could be back on Wednesday. Which is when I read the e-mail and find that there is no change in the near future. Which means there is no change in mine.

Sixth Day

This one is “Snowmelt.”

Snowmelt flowed down the path at the nature center we visited. What a jerk, moving so freely like that, directly under my feet.

I’m tensing about the week to come.

Bedtimes never matter when we switch to Daylight Saving Time or the Sunday before the second week of a strike.

Fourth Day

I call this one “She Goes Away.”

“What is most exciting about going to Mexico?” I ask.

“The sun,” she replies. “It will be sad.”

And at the airport, I try not to say, “Have fun,” and yet I fail.

Telling her to have fun is imposing on her an agenda.

To lie is always an option.

Third Day: Family in 50

Our teachers are striking. Today is the third day. Reporting is that the sides — the teachers’ union and the school district — remain far apart.

Let’s make things tougher and more satisfying by writing in 50 words exactly a snapshot of how daily life shows up with three little kids in the middle of a pandemic at the end of winter at the beginning of a teachers’ strike.

Teachers strike, parents themselves to kids home now. I brace for uncertain weeks. My three run circles, laughing, which won’t last. They’ll dissolve before screens; I don’t have energy to enrich them. We survive this like everything else. A pandemic with a strike on top, and no way to prepare.

My disclaimer is that I’m writing simply to exercise my brain and distract myself from daily annoyances which are minimal in light of the war, in light of our privilege, in light of the fact that I should be more thankful and grateful and happy and all that. Writing proves to be a necessary and accessible escape.


Flash fiction is, to me, a heart beating in your hands. I’m not talking about holding your hand over your chest and feeling its rhythm. I’m talking about the experience you’ll never have. Cupping your hands, cradling a beating heart. When I think of micro fiction, short short fiction or flash fiction, I think you’re approaching as a writer the heart of whatever it is you’re trying to convey and stealing it from its home, nestled all warm and comfortable, for a few brief moments out in the air to be examined. I’m in Minnesota, so maybe a better metaphor is a fish being caught and released. But this doesn’t resonate with me. I’ve only ever fished while on a field trip in eighth grade, and it didn’t do anything for me.

Photo by Tanya Pro on Unsplash

A heart is essential to life, and it needs to be protected. But it also needs a body to provide for.

I have a number of other projects (I recognize how pretentious I sound). I write on Substack, I have a newsletter out every other week, I write here once a week-ish, and I run a couple of groups for fun as well. I even have other stuff I’m attempting. It’s all experimental (like the cheesy light hearted stuff that I’m trying to use to keep me from being swallowed by this endless pit of winter), and it’s all serving a real purpose for me.

All of these things are my ribs. They provide structure, support, shielding. Space for the organs within.

And the more you write, the better you write. The more you read, the better you write. I hope.

I decided to stop waiting on myself some time in the last year. Jerry is a constant companion now. Every writing project serves as a rib, a protective element. The heart of all of this is the fiction I’m writing.

I was listening to an episode of the podcast The Shit No One Tells You About Writing in which the author Mark Greaney tells about how it took 15 years for him to write his first novel. He explained that over the course of those years, he spent a lot of time away from the manuscript, even writing three separate novellas in the time. From the show notes: “…putting your manuscript aside to work on something different so you can come back to it with fresh eyes; using every project as a learning experience…” In my case, I’m finding all these different ways to write as practice and process.

These ribs move and change and maybe they’ll grow, just like the beating mass inside them.

And everybody knows I love bones.