Wednesday, February 2, 2022

#ParkTV As I See Things (Nine) Groundhog's Day

February 2nd, marks my favorite day of the entire year. Seriously, it is. I love Groundhog's Day and have gone twice to the town of Punxsutawney to celebrate with the G'hog in person. 

Do you know or care what Punxsutawney Phil predicted today? Here is the information about this morning's findings: OH NO! Six more weeks of winter. Living in Vermont, I expected that. If you live in Vermont, you expected it too. That's why we all order more wood than imaginable.

Why on earth would anyone claim that G'hog's Day is their favorite holiday? 

Well, if you don't already know, February 2nd marks the halfway point through winter: halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. That is why I love it now. As an Outdoor Educator in Vermont, I am thrilled to think I am halfway to the time when the earth warms, things melt, things sprout, and soon flip-flops won't cause frostbite.

In the past, I fell in love with G'hog day because of the movie. I don't really like watching movies, TV, or enjoy spending much time in front of a screen (because of being raised without such things) but there were some scenes in that G'hog film that caused me to belly laugh. Laugh out loud funny. For me, this is rare. 

Here's my favorite scene from the film: "He's gotta be stopped. And I have to stop him."

Here's my second favorite scene from the film: Ned Ryerson punch scene If I had to wake up every day and experience the same thing over and over such as Ned coming up to me and getting in my space, I would want the freedom to punch him in the face, too. I lived vicariously through Bill Murray in that moment.

I could go on and on about my favorite scenes in this movie. I just love so much about this movie, but I digress. 

I mentioned earlier that I have gone to the real site of the big event, when the G'hog gets pulled out of his warm space in the public library in Punxsutawney: once in my twenties and once in my fifties. The first time I went, I had to see if the town in the real world was as charming as the town in the movie world. It wasn't. In the movie, they make it look like the G'hog event takes place in the village proper on the town park. In real life, it is held outside of town in the woods. Thirty plus years ago when I went, it was crowded. Three years ago went I went (pre-pandemic and it feels like a decade ago), it had become out of control crowded. I took my teenagers the second time. They hated the experience. Full on hated the cold. The highlight of the event was the fireworks display in sub-zero temperatures. In hindsight, I should have bought everyone hand and feet warmers.

Last night, my dear friend Marcus sent me a text with a link to this: Groundhog Dies Before His Big Day Marcus and I (and several other friends) had driven across the state of PA, rented a hotel room, and woke up before the sun to take a tour bus to Gobbler's Knob. The thought of the G'hog dying before his big day after a few years of this pandemic was pretty much the worse thing I had heard in awhile. I actually got tears in my eyes. 

So I clicked on the article and read it. Phew. It was not Phil, the PA G'hog. It was poor NJ G'hog Milltown Mel. I felt much better. I mean I'm sad that the NJ G'hog is a goner, and I am sad that Milltown couldn't find a replacement on such short notice, but I felt true relief that it wasn't Phil. 

When Marcus and I (and the others) went to the big event all those years ago, we were not thinking about getting older. We were not thinking about anything other than the massive party with thousands of people we would never see again. We were certainly not thinking that there would be a Covid19 pandemic someday. None of us knows what the future holds, of course. This goes without saying. 

But here is what the older version of me knows today: 2/2/22. I know that I finally found my way to a town that is ten times more charming than the town in the G'hog movie. I know when I look out my front window, I see a scene very much like the bandstand of the movie. I know now that I got to spend most of my teaching career working with some of the most supportive and incredible families in this town. I know now that I will REALLY come to appreciate this special holiday more than ever before because I will be in the elements most of the time. In Vermont.

Yesterday, one of my first grade students asked me, "Hey. Do you get cold out here sometimes?" 

My answer? "Yes."

But, I don't care. In fact, I am about to head outside to light a fire in my fire pit. I am going to enjoy the evening because I have the chance to do so. I am feeling well (I had a headache earlier) and so I am going to celebrate my health by lighting a flame for Milltown Mel, may he Rest In Peace.

Happy Groundhog's Day everyone from my sweet little hometown to yours!

Tuesday, March 30, 2021


My Resolution

Watch this video to get a sense of how it feels to be teaching full time and in person during a pandemic.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

#ParkTV As I See Things (Eight) Back to Back Pandemic Birthdays

Yesterday, April 8, would have been my mother’s 82nd birthday. I tried to use her old sewing machine to sew a face mask so I can comply with the CDC when next I venture out.

Designing the mask was fun. I took an old bra and cut it in half, found a soft fleece zebra print, cut it, and pinned it. Then I turned Mom’s machine on and tried to sew.

It didn’t go so well. Just as quickly as I started sewing, I needed a new bobbin. I grabbed another one and tried to set it up so I could keep working but the bobbin wouldn’t thread right and the needle got stuck. My throat suddenly tightened and I welled up. I fought tears, left the room, bent over with my head in my hands and sobbed.

I cried because the now empty bobbin was a direct connection to Mom. The thread on a bobbin she had wound when alive was used up. Gone. I cried because I couldn’t call her to ask for help. I cried because I had to make a mask in the first place. I cried for every person who has died in this pandemic. Every person suffering with loss. I cried for New York City. For Italy and Spain. For China. For Seattle. For every place affected and every person struggling to breathe. Every person working on the front lines. I cried for my children. The world I had brought them into. I cried for having guilt for wanting to have children in the first place. With my hands covering my eyes, I cried. 

Finally I finished crying. I washed my face and I found the sewing machine directions so I could figure out how to thread it. I tried to set everything up again.. and again, I failed. 

Again, I thought of Mom and how she had been in the middle of using that other bobbin before it ran out and a wave of fear rushed over me and I took a deep breath to calm myself. 

Why am I scared? I wondered. It’s just a sewing machine, I reminded myself.

I tried to label my fear.

I used to think it was floods. Hurricanes or tropical storms like Irene

Now I know I am actually not afraid of storms or raging water, but rather the possibility of drowning.  

I am really trying to say I fear being left alone to drown.

It really means I fear death. Not being here with my family anymore. Not being able to hear birds sing or see snowflakes fall or touching velvet or smelling garlic sautéing in a pan or tasting a meal made with said garlic.

But the real truth is, I’m scared of how this virus has blown apart the world and changed all the rules. Making us distance ourselves socially and making us hide behind masks and use screens to connect, which has made us more alone than ever before.

All while I’m waiting for an invisible wave to come so it can crash over me or I can ride it out so I can take another breath.

I got the mask stuck in the machine. Sensing my frustration and overall mood, my husband showed up just in time to cut the fabric free and our beautiful daughter (who turns 15 today) took the mask. She knew I couldn’t complete it on my own so she took it into her bedroom and used my old machine to finish it. In fact, she scrapped my design and made a better one with a notch for my nose. 

I guess I don’t have to feel alone with this pain. 

#ParkTV As I See Things (Seven) A Pandemic and a Pause Button

The world we knew just a few weeks ago, a week ago, a few days ago, even last night, will never be the same. None of us will ever be the same after Covid19.

The last full week in February, I went on a writing retreat at Wellspring House in Ashfield, MA. While there I took walks, napped, meditated, read, and FINALLY finished writing my novel. I have been working on the damn thing in one form or another for twenty-five years, so needless to say, that felt quite good. I spent a ton of time alone during that week and missed my family quite a bit. 

My alone time at Wellspring House was like a dress rehearsal for this, the world during a pandemic, our new normal. 

My sister texted me while I was still in MA: “Virus has escalated. Buy food as soon as you can. At some point everybody will. Best to be ahead of the game.”

I texted back, “Thank you.”

She texted, “Also any medications. Over the counter or prescription.”


I pushed back from my writing desk. I had seen the crisis coming, but wanted to pretend it wasn’t true. 

So, here we are. At long last. We’re here.

This is “The Zombie Apocalypse” I have been warning my children about. It’s finally arrived. And maybe, just maybe, that’s not such a bad thing. 

I’m not saying it is good that people are suffering or dying or that it’s good that the economy has tanked. Stress is at an all-time high for so many and that isn’t great, but it’s like the world has paused. That’s the good part. We’ve hit the pause button.

After I processed what my sister had communicated, I had to clear my head. I went downstairs for a cup of tea. She’s smart. Very bright. Knows way more than I do about most things. I tried to forget what she said for the time being. I was on a writing retreat. I wanted to feel peace. 

John, the Wellspring House writer-in-residence, stood near the stove. “Have you been keeping up with the news while you’ve been here?”

“Sort of.”

“By news I don’t mean politics. I mean the Coronavirus.”

“Oh,” I waved my right hand through the air as I poured water into my cup with my left. “I don’t usually pay attention to hysteria surrounding this sort of thing.”

“Oh, that’s where you’re wrong. I trust my resources. This is the real deal.”

So… I couldn’t ignore it. I had to allow it in. Had to give it more thought. 

I took my tea back to my room and settled into the chair at the desk. The woodsy view from the window had become familiar during my time there. There was still a dusting of snow. A squirrel climbed out onto a nearby branch; it skittered along and stopped close to me. Our eyes met through the glass.

Squirrels are always in fight or flight mode. They always look scared. They’re surviving. Little did I know then, in the coming weeks I would become more like that squirrel than I ever thought possible.

I didn’t store up massive amounts of food or toilet paper, but I picked up extra canned food here and there during the following week. When my husband stopped at the grocery store on his way home, I asked him to grab whatever he thought might be good to have on hand. He came home with tissues, paper towels, Chef Boyardee (yuck.) 

I’m not a foodie, but I cook every meal from scratch. Canned food is not my typical go to, but it doesn’t go bad and can be stored for a long time. 

I worked that whole week with the threat of the Coronavirus on my mind and with my sister texting me articles and my boss establishing new protocols which included social distancing and extra hand washing. I called my doctor to get backup prescriptions for my two asthmatic children. I made larger amounts of food every night and stored more than the usual amount of leftovers in the freezer.

The next two weeks were a blur in my classroom. A blur at home. My family thought I had gone crazy when I would try to talk about Covid-19. I had a wild look in my eyes as I described the pandemic which was inevitable.

I lost patience with my teenagers once during the weeks leading up to the schools closing and the local businesses adjusting to the Governor’s mandates. I had asked my kids to move our recycling bins from the side of the driveway into the garage while my husband and I went vegetable shopping. Five hours had passed while we were gone and when we returned with the groceries, the bins were still in the exact same spot. 

Filled with rage, I entered the house to find my teens. I needed to make them understand how lazy they had been. How inconsiderate. I didn’t take a deep breath to remain calm. I didn’t become Zen before I spoke with them. Each teenager, glued to a different screen, sat in a different room and hardly noticed I had returned. 

“I thought I asked to have those bins moved!” I shouted as I went from room to room disturbing their peace. Each teen looked up, bleary-eyed and confused about why I would rant and rave like a lunatic. Who is this woman and what is she saying?

I called them to the table for “Family Meeting,” a concept we’ve used for years to remind ourselves of rules and expectations. 

I am not proud of how the meeting went or the things I said. 

I told them I had failed them as a parent. I had raised such lazy children. Selfish children. Technology had stolen them from me. They ALWAYS stared at screens when they should be living in the real world. They feared actual telephone calls with actual humans and they avoided talking to one another all the time! How would they ever get the needed skills to function in the real world if they couldn't do a simple thing like move the bins I had asked them to move? I even said that my life would be easier if I didn’t have to do EVERYTHING around the house!

I don’t do everything… But I had lost my mind. Not my finest parenting moment. 

With the stress of this virus and feeling as if we were all at risk every time we left our home to go out into the world, the bins not being moved was my breaking point. Hey, I’m human. 

They said they were sorry. They would try harder to help out. They didn’t mean to be so selfish. I apologized for flipping my lid.

And I felt guilty. So functional, right? Our dysfunction is out. 

We’re being asked by this virus to stop living the way we have lived for so long. Almost the entire world has hit the pause button. And it is okay. It’s more than okay. It’s what my family needed. A pause. A much needed one.

Here it is. This is where we are. We have all stopped and taken an emotional inventory. We are following a schedule so we can all share the space without wanting to kill each other and we’re holding daily family meetings, we’re working together to cook meals, we’ve taken many walks together. We do our chores. All of us... 

They’ve stopped sneaking peeks at screens and are homeschooling fairly well as far as I can tell. 

A microscopic life formcame to our rescue and I am getting “quality time” with my family. It’s like a bonus: extra time with my teenagers before they move away. And they are paying attention to the world now because it has become real. My resentment has melted away as well.

We just took a walk with our neighbor and as we said goodbye to him, the five o’clock church bell rang out. We didn’t hug him like we normally would. 

Vermont is officially on “lockdown.” And so it begins...

Thursday, January 16, 2020

#ParkTV As I See Things (Six) Snow Makes Me Like I have Synesthesia November 2018:
Based on the smell in the air last night, I knew snow would sneak in while I slept.
An incoming storm smells damp and cold and shiny and assertive. Like silver.

But on a day like this, when it arrives and piles upon itself and becomes more than just a few flakes, it isn’t silver after all. It is an entity soon to become a memory, and will blend with all others to become a “Snow Day” already over before it has truly begun.

I hear the silence of it before I open my eyes. I hear no leaves dancing, I hear no dogs barking, I hear no cars commuting up the mountain road. I hear none of my neighbors stirring.

Then, out of the darkness of my head, the plow scrapes by. I taste the coffee still on the breath of the man pushing powder and ice out of the road. This wakes me. I open my eyes and push the blind aside to see that everything on the park seems dusted with pale blue. A watered down periwinkle. 

The phone rings and I feel it in my chest as a robot-like voice says something about “inclement weather” and “school is closed.” A gratitude for extra time in my home makes my toes wiggle.
Fresh sun shares its light only with early risers and the slightness of it is surprising and joyful. Outside another window my daughter pauses while shoveling to scoop snow into her mouth. She wants to shovel and I don’t argue. I am hungry and guilty watching her work. How can I embody both at once?

Breakfast. Tea.

I feel a chill as my teeth hurt. I process thoughts about how millions of frigid water droplets have formed to make a day for us to escape the real world. Snow tastes like all demands are cancelled. A pause button on the day.

But there will be a make-up day for this “Snow Day.” And it will be added on at the end of the school year after dandelions have pushed through green grass and gone to seed.
Sweat forms beneath a scarf I’m not wearing. It’s what I will feel in June long after the
scarf has been packed away in the attic.

Snow days sound like comfort: A tea kettle whistling, furnace kicking on, plow trucks
scraping by every hour on the hour. I swallow a pleasant gratitude for their efforts.

Between these I am wrapped in silence as deep as this storm itself.

It could be months before it melts. I scrape up every aspect and slip it into my soul’s pocket.

My toes love how a warm blanket tastes when it rests on my feet and my feet rest on the chair. I hear complete gratitude (it is the silence of snowflakes) and I crawl inside my writing.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

#ParkTV As I see Things (Five) Glug, glug, glug

Pictured below are #Atticfinds (soap)

Inline image

What makes me a submerging writer? 

 I will use the metaphor of my upstairs bathroom to explain how I am a submerging writer because my writing brings me joy and stress and so does that amazing yet ridiculous room. Since we bought our Victorian home, I have wanted install an antique cast iron tub because I felt like the house would be perfect with it. I pictured myself resting my neck against the rim while staring at a candle across the room, the bubbles and warm water soothing my tired muscles.

About seven years ago, I purchased a claw foot for $50, but had to bring it to my classroom where it could be used by kindergartners as a reading nook because there was no room for it in our bathroom. 

Yes, I purchase things on a whim sometimes… don’t we all? It was a good deal.

The tub went directly to my classroom until two years ago when I insisted we remodel the upstairs bathroom and install the tub. I asked a handyman to break through the wall, enlarge the room, tile a larger shower stall, and hook up my claw foot tub.

He said that the tub was the “heaviest fucking thing that's ever gone up a flight of stairs.”  It took two strong men, long planks of wood and a pulley system to make it happen. 

My husband said, “We’re running out of money for the project!” about three days after the project began.

And it's all my fault. I own it. I insisted on the remodel. I thought I was helping the situation, but perhaps you know how old houses can be. Once you begin on a project, there is no turning back; often the problems become bigger than ever imagined when we try to run new pipes and attach them to previous ones.

I will admit that we never should have remodeled the bathroom because to this day, two years later, the bathroom is still not quite finished. It simply became too expensive. 

To think the entire thing began because of a desire to take a particular bath only seen in movies. 

And there was a drippy faucet and a slow leak into the dining room below, which is how I convinced my husband that we should rip the old bathroom apart to begin with.

Here is a list of what could STILL be done:
Knotty pine paneling added to one section of the wall.
The “temporary” door removed and the real door frame and door built and hung.
The floor finished.
The tub faucet fixed (the tub faucet purchased on EBAY drips and only runs hot!)
New tiling by the toilet.
Oh, I could go on but I won't.

We went through a phase this past summer, when drain water from the toilet splashed through a massive cast iron pipe (that was so old it needed to be replaced) to the kitchen downstairs -—I know, gross— and the shower drain clogged often caused water to drip into the lathe and plaster of the dining room ceiling. All these problems, which were not caused by the remodel, have been addressed and solved, thankfully.

Stressful? Absolutely. Time consuming? Yep. Expensive. Uh-huh. Worth it? 


The water is scalding hot when it pours from the faucet into the tub, but I fill it anyway and retreat to my writing desk to write for an hour while the water cools. When I finally climb in and submerge myself and the water is the perfect temperature, I close my eyes (so I don’t have to look at the aspects of the bathroom that aren’t done) and think about my characters and the crazy things they will do next.

My unfinished bathroom helps me. I think about finishing all my writing projects while I bathe in an unfinished bathroom. Writing is stressful and time consuming and taking a bath in a claw foot helps alleviate that stress. At least I have my tub!

Writing is worth it. The "remodel" was worth it. 

I both love and hate the way both my bathroom and my writing make me feel. What else can I say? I'm a restless writer who needs a claw foot tub so I can go beneath the surface to block out the world and come back refreshed enough to face it.  

I'm not always submerged in water or deluged with a desire to write, but pretty darn close.

I am proud to call myself a submerging writer.

Monday, July 31, 2017

#ParkTV As I See Things (Four)

#ParkTV Four
As I See Things

A few years ago, I had a conversation with a child psychologist about “Orchid Children VS Dandelion Children.” I had never heard the theory before so I left his office and read up on it. You can read the link I have provided to “dig deeper” (ha) but I’ll sum it up for you: some kids thrive in any circumstances (dandelions) and some need special treatment to bloom (orchids,) Of course, as with anything, all the pressure and responsibility and reward depends on parenting and education.

No pressure.

Plants. Roots. Heritage. Where we grow. Our environment.

I just finished reading a book:

August 15, 1901

This book can’t be bought in any bookstore. It wasn’t published by a major house. It bears no ISBN number. I found it in my attic. Yes. The infamous attic. Over the 3 ½ years we have lived in this house, I have unearthed and sold/kept many an item, including but not limited to:

  1. A 48 star flag
  2. Pink China from the 1930’s, new in the box
  3. A stack of Vermont Life magazines from as early as the 1950’s
  4. A Kewpie doll
  5. An original Maxfield Parrish print
  6. Ice skates that fit
  7. Dresses that fit
  8. A photo of Lt. Cobb from the Civil War (I still don’t know who he is, but he is displayed)
  9. And so on (you get the idea)

This book was written by a man named Albert Clarke and it seems to have been prepared as a speech to be read at a celebration of “Old Home Week” on the “Common” (park) in Rochester. In other words, I found a script from an old episode of #ParkTV back before there were TVs or any way to blog about #ParkTV. Here is an excerpt:


“O, grand old hills, who saw these scenes and helped to make these people what they are, I never see or think of them without feeling that they are
                        ‘A part
Of me and of my soul, as I of them.’

and I envy those who are privileged to live here the delight of climbing them and taking in the sweetest air which they give forth and thinking the lofty thoughts which they inspire. What the 20th century may have in store for Rochester, I know not. Changes will come, of course, but while the influence of these hills remain, I cannot think the future will be less glorious than the past and I commend to every new inhabitant the heritage of the high example of the residents who have had their day and gone, a study and development of the natural resources of the region, contentment to remain here coupled with ambition to do the best and utmost for themselves and town, and, greater than all the rest, a ceaseless and reverent contemplation of the glories of Nature, which are revealed here in their perfection and which enable and exalt the soul.”

So much of what Clarke shared was fantastic and profound, but I am going to pick just one aspect to focus on: being “content” to remain here.

Last week, I spent a sunny afternoon contemplating the glories of Nature by ripping weeds out of my vegetable garden. It has been raining a lot this summer, which is great for lettuce, squash, tomatoes and corn, but also supportive of unwelcome invasives. I donned my pink rubber gloves and plopped myself at a corner next to my collection bucket. I grabbed the first weed by the stalk and yanked; it broke away leaving many tendrils behind. I went to the workshop for my hand trowel, dug around the remaining root ball and pulled again. This time I removed every last piece.

Ah. Gone for the moment, but they'd be back. Like dandelions.

Pulling at those weeds not only gave my garden the chance to thrive, I fell into a rhythm of digging, tearing, dumping as I allowed my thoughts to drift with the sounds.

The school board has announced that any of the students in grades 9-12 at Rochester High School can attend the school for the 2017-18 school year but they will be offered only online classes. If this is not a desired option for families, students can choose to attend any school on a generated list and tuition will be paid. Needless to say, our family has to make a decision about our two oldest for this year —which will begin in about a month— rather than next year. Aside from shopping around and making lists of pros and cons, I am clueless about how to facilitate making a final choice about the future of my children’s education.

I thought about the two “nearby” schools we visited a few days before, what other families have chosen to do, how small the high school had become and how while one son was part of a class of a dozen kids, my other son’s class had dwindled to only four. With the cost of education due to all the mandates, it is impossible to sustain.

“Be careful what you ask for because you just may get it,” I thought. I wanted a choice and now there is one. We HAVE to choose.

I wasn’t pro-Model One (Study Committee One Stop Shop) because my decision for school options were removed and my thinking was done for me and with this model, there was only one choice. Declining enrollment and Act 46 caused of the destruction of our school. It is terribly sad that things have come to this.

Clarke didn’t see this coming. In his book, he spoke of education: “In 1790, two years after the town was organized, a tax of 20 pounds was voted for the schooling of children, and 10 pounds for all other town expenses. This showed the importance attached to education and ever since then Rochester has been known as a town of culture.” Clarke goes on to describe the various school districts and how there grew to be 522 students and 16 school “districts” in Rochester. But now, obviously, the population has decreased.

Yes. Those of us who have chosen to live here in this place owe it to those who lived here in the past to be happy about being here and do what’s best for ourselves and for the town all while revering nature. That’s why I’m still here watching #ParkTV.

The hard part now is that I have to rip my children up by their roots and rely on another place to give them exactly what they need. 

Maybe they’re dandelions rather than orchids.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

#ParkTV As I See Things (Three)

“May you live all the days of your life.”
Jonathan Swift

Living life is the only way to live life, right? For if you’re not alive you’re obviously not living. I wonder if Swift meant “live it up” or maybe he meant to be aware of every moment. Perhaps his words slipped out or someone misquoted him.

Anything’s possible. We obviously can’t ask him what he meant since he died hundreds of years ago. We can’t question the dead. Finality is the hard part about death.

My late father John Braun (his obituary) was terrible at small talk. Once he asked someone, “When you walk to work, do you walk to work?” It was one of his most quoted quotes. He had a few good ones.

After he died, memories of him tended to wash over me almost constantly. I thought of his many funny stories and his advice a lot and now that he’s gone, I have to figure things out without him, rely upon myself and find my true voice.

My courage to stand up against the establishment came from my father. He often said, “Remember, you’re Amy Goddamn Braun. Never let them tell you otherwise.” In other words… be yourself and follow only what you know to be true.

Even though I have little control over the outcome, it’s been important to express my feelings about local politics. As verbal and unfiltered as I can be at times —like my father— no one doubts where I stand. He would be proud.

Although the town of Rochester voted “NO” to the Model One Merger in late June (read here for more information), the Study Committee (706 B) for the Supervisory Union still had to free us.

We have been under 706 B’s control (forced to be a reality because of Act 46) from the beginning and they had to VOTE to relinquish this control! If you’re not confused, that’s because you haven’t attend enough meetings.

There have been SO MANY meetings and either my husband or I have attended as many as possible to stay ahead of the curve. 706 B was formed to make decisions for the children of our town, the majority of these meetings were not held in our town and public comments were taken at the END of every meeting. 706 B members from other towns said things like: “I know this is bad for Rochester but…” or “I’m aware the travel for Rochester will be more and the hours longer for the kids but…” And then 706 B voted to make Model One our only choice.

Okay… okay… that’s in the past and I should let it go, but we still had another hurdle: Article 13 (which was later added to this document ). If you are from Rochester, please read the chart entitled Attachment C on page 31 and notice that the Bingo Property (DEEDED TO THE CHILDREN OF ROCHESTER) was to be transferred at no cost. Hmmm. Also note this language on page 18: “Note: This table is for illustration purposes only. These models are estimates and projections. Actual tax rates will vary depending on state policy decisions, actual changes in equalized pupils, and spending decisions of boards. Note also that these tax estimates do not include possible excess penalties, particularly for Rochester in the "No Mergers" scenario.”

In other words: “Resistance is futile.” We are the BORG!" Give up. We know what you need. Infuriating.

Okay. I’ll stop. It’s in the past. Or is it? Why was fear used? I am still bitter about this and at times I wonder what’s next. Seems like it is best that we maintain local control, no? Or at least make sure that the entity in control is not on the other side of a mountain.

At length on July 6th, 706 B and the public discussed what to do next. At one point a person from Bethel sitting next to me whispered, “I don’t understand what’s going on. I thought Rochester voted no. Doesn’t that mean you’re done with the merger? What is this meeting about anyway?”

I said, “They have to vote to release us and they have to vote to reject Plan B.”

She asked, “Do you know what Plan B is in the medical world?” She’s a nurse.

After I shook my head no, she told me Plan B is a code name for the abortion pill. Then she said, “Abort. Abort. Abort the mission.”

I laughed. What else was there to do but laugh? This whole thing has been exhausting and confusing. It was designed that way. Here’s another good quote I’ve been thinking about lately: “If you are not confused, you don’t know what’s going on.” Jack Welch.

Uh-huh. That about sums things up.

Before voting, 706 B summarized:
  1. An affirmative vote is negative to Article 13 so that means we are not moving forward with the plan if we affirm it.
  2. Dissolving Plan B dissolves the plan to merge with Bethel which would have been temporary anyway and is not the best solution.
  3. We will all have to go back to the drawing board.
  4. We are running out of time.

Of course there was a lot of discussion. The woman next to me raised her hand and declared, “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what’s happening. What’s next?”

The head of 706 B patiently explained the situation in different terms, after which I felt even more confused. Affirmative is negative. Not moving. Voting. Dissolving. Affirmative. Ok. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

And alas, one of the members of 706 B from Bethel said, “I came here tonight with a different opinion but now I changed my mind. I don’t want Rochester to have to be attached to us anymore. I don’t want to hold anyone hostage. Rochester should be free to go off and do whatever it is that they want to do next.”

Yes! I was so relieved that she was willing to let Rochester go. But now 706 B has more work to do as they have to find another solution for Bethel and South Royalton. I am sorry 706 B members. It is not your fault. It was created this way. Designed to enmesh us. To scare us.

But letting Rochester go was the right thing to do. We have been released. I fought tears of relief. Tears of gratitude.

Lately my tears are so close to the surface because I’m also grieving the loss of my father. Time will help. Rituals help too. Help me to let go. To release him.

Just a few weeks ago, when my cousin held a memorial for my father in Georgia we had several rituals: two Marine’s folded a flag in his honor and presented it to my oldest brother, Chris. They also gave a small flag to my father’s widow. We told stories and watched a slideshow of his life. Then by the pond we set off fireworks and lit five Japanese lanterns and released them. As the glowing orbs drifted up, I thought: Bye dad. I’ll miss you. I’ll miss hearing your laugh.

But I won’t forget the things you taught me:
You taught me to question things.
You taught me to stand up for myself and others.
You taught me the value of working hard.

After the orbs disappeared from sight I noticed that a swarm of red ants had crawled from the warm Georgia soil and onto my feet. I swiped at them as they nibbled.

Yes. I’m still here. Living. Feeling pain at his loss.

Time to let go. To move on.

And yes dad, when I walk to work, I’ll walk to work. I’ll think of you sometimes and I’ll smile.

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