Was she being racist? Or was I being sensitive?

I work as a substitute teacher.

When I was checking in at may last sub job, an older employee was writing out a tardy slip for a student. She asked the student, “So is that an ‘i’ or a ‘y’ in the middle?” Then she looked over at me and said, “You know, I used to know how to spell until I had to start writing out these student names.” I smiled and didn’t say anything.

Later at night, I was describing this interaction to my kids and I said that I had felt a little offended by the employee’s comment.

My 13 yr-old who sees no need to mince words asked me, “Do you think she was being racist?” I had earlier explained to my children that the employee and the student were different colors.

My son continued to elaborate. “See, Mom, I think the word racism is overused. Abused. I also think people have become too sensitive.But, in this case, I don’t know. I would like to think the employee was just making a comment. Then again, maybe she was being a little biased. Why can’t humans simply get along?”

I, of course, had to ruminate about this. Maybe my son was right. If I had only heard the comment and not seen the employee or the student, would I have assumed it was offensive? Or would I have just taken it at face value?

How do you set aside your own biases and read a human or a situation as it is? Doesn’t it feel like most times we read too much or too little into something?


A feeling


Won’t let me breathe

Constricts me

All I can do is seethe

At what cannot be

All I can feel

All I can experience

Is bleakness


A sense

Of hopelessness

A sense

Of loss

A feeling

Of failure

The heavy weight

In my chest

Tells me

No matter how hard I try

Can never be my best


O despair

So powerful


I beg you

Leave me be

Leave me free


Black Dress, Blue Scarf

Well-dressed woman

Where are you going?

I wonder

Yes, I do wonder

Are you off to work?

To a fancy, high-paying job

Are you off to fly?

To far off exotic lands

Are you off to teach?

The world’s next Nobel Laureate

Are you off to save?

A patient’s precious life?

Are you off to save?

A client’s priceless soul

Are you off to win?

Your next big case

Wherever you are off to

I admire you

Nay, I envy you

Because you see

You have somewhere to go

Something to do

Am I a psychopath?

So, this was the question my 13 year-old asked me yetserday.

Needless to say, I was totally taken aback at first. Then, instead of reassuring him he was not (hey, I never said I was a perfect mom), I decided to find out why he was thinking that.

He said that he felt no emotion, nothing when he lied to me about finishing his homework. He said he felt no remorse or guilt for lying to me and abusing the trust I had placed in him. Now he was worried he had no conscience and that he was becoming a psychopath.

I explained to my son that a psychopath was cold-hearted, had no empathy for others, and could not love or establish meaningful relationships with others.

I asked him to think about himself – his relationship with his friends, with me, with his pet. I told him that just because he did not feel guilt or remorse at that particular time did not make him a bad person or a psychopath.

I told him that as humans we constantly calibrate ourselves. We learn, we experience new things, discover new knowledge, and apply it to ourselves. If we didn’t, then obviously we would be zombies or better yet, we would be dead.

Yes, he did not feel bad when lying to me, but it was one situation. And that was okay. He was not perfect. That’s how he would learn to be a better human being. I told him, “We all make mistakes, all the time. We learn from them. The learning may expand our knowledge and help us evolve into a better person or make us negative and become close-minded. Either way, we have calibrated ourselves. ”

And that is what he would do. He would learn and not lie again. Or he would continue to lie. I told him that there was one other thing , we as humans possessed. HOPE. Hope that things will always improve. Without hope, there would be no life.

I finally reassured my son that he was not a psychopath. This was a learning experience for him. And I had hope that he would calibrate himself to be a better human being.

Was I wrong?


Makes you feel better or worse?

I was at the grocery store when a Dad I know walked up to me and asked “Hey, are you doing okay?” I replied, “I am fine. Why? Do I not look okay ?” I asked him. He said, “Your son told my son (they are classmates) that you guys are splitting up. If you need anything, we are here for you.” I was plunged into a sea of emotions ranging from shock to sadness to embarrassment . I mumbled, “Yes, thank you,” and walked away.

A few days later, a mom (that I had said hello to twice) approached me at my son’s school. “I heard about your marriage. If you need anything, we are here for you,” she said. Now this particular morning had been very difficult for me. The fact that I had no job and pretty much no life had hit me very hard that morning when  I woke up. So, when she said this to me, I broke down – literally. The nice mom gave me a hug. I couldn’t stop crying. The flood gates had been opened. I nodded my head and walked away.

I sat in my car to gather myself. As I tried to compose myself, I realized that all these people did not make me feel better.

I mean- think about it. Would you reach out to an acquaintance for emotional support?

All it does is remind you of the scrappy, miserable situation you are in.

This Moment

As I sit waiting

What do I see?

Two women chatting

An older gentleman sleeping

A young man on his phone

For over an hour now

The old lady next to me

Asks me to save her seat

The overweight gentleman to my right

Trying to find the remote control

And here I am

Waiting for an oil change

Watching, observing, writing

Living and experiencing this moment

This moment

Hear people talking

This moment

Smell the coffee being made

This moment

Feel the cold air rushing in when the door opens

Time won’t move fast

Life won’t stand still

This moment

All I can do is

Engage in this moment

Experience this moment

Because all I have right now is

This moment

Bad Day

As the sky darkens

The day turns to night

I welcome the darkness

The never-ending brightness of light

It tires me so

Reminding me

Of all that could have been

Of all I could be

But no, not today

Maybe another time

I will try, I say

For now, let me be

Let me retire

Let the embers die

Put out the fire

Let the darkness

Seep into my soul

Let the cold gloom

Take its toll