High Temperatures and the Different Hats I Wear as a Writing Teacher

Written yesterday – today’s forecast is for temperatures to reach 94 degrees.

I am sitting with Riley, it’s quick write time.  Frankie is on the couch with Riley, Cordie is lying on the floor at my feet.  The windows are open, two fans are on, it’s 5:52 pm and it is currently 94 degrees, down from 97.  That means hot here in this asphalt jungle, folks.  And it’s humid, which is not something we Angelenos are accustomed to experiencing.  Yes, I know my Texas friends are rolling their eyes and muttering, “Babies,” but I’m telling you here in LA, the high 90s is very hot since we have miles of asphalt and many tall buildings that reflect the heat. I will admit we have the advantage of cool nights as a rule, but that does not diminish the misery of really hot days.   

I remember when we first moved here and the secretary at the elementary school described the 88-degree weather as “brutal.” I had to resist bursting out laughing. After all, I had just moved from a state where it could easily be 110 degrees in the summer with a wind from the west that felt as if someone had left the furnace on. I will consider the possibility that living in a place where 75 degrees is the average temperature might have made me a bit soft.  Okay, I will admit that, BUT we here, as a rule, don’t freeze to death in our air-conditioned homes and offices like some people I know a few miles east of here (or 1400 to be exact). No, we live in homes with only a room or two with window air conditioners since most of the year we don’t need them and they seem like a waste of money. Except on a day like today.

My daughter Rachael’s boyfriend, Ariel, works in Heating and Air Conditioning and this time of year, she barely sees him.  He is busy from dawn until late in the evening and every weekend. I guess that proves that more and more people are accepting they have to have air conditioning to even exist here. Not a good sign, folks.  This is supposed to be a Mediterranean climate, after all, not a hot box.

The timer is ringing. I will stop. That is exactly ten minutes worth of writing.

Written this morning for another ten minutes:

This is Riley, who begins sixth grade on Monday: 


Riley is the younger brother of one of my all-time favorite students, Aaron, who started with me in 7th grade and is now a junior at UCLA. I still help him with an occasional term paper. Riley is a jokester of the first order and has wormed his way into my heart with his wonderful sense of humor. He’s been coming to me since fourth grade.  He and I are buddies.

Just before this photo was taken, Riley had just read his quick write about his 6th-grade orientation where he’d been making lots of jokes. This prompted a short but forthright “talking to” from me on his opportunity to reset his focus since he is entering middle school. “You’re a smart boy,” I said. “Don’t give those new teachers a reason to be upset with you. Teachers love to laugh too but be sure and be respectful.”  He nodded.  “I may need to reconsider some of my friends,” he said.  “I have one who acts out when he feels criticized and I sometimes get in trouble just because I’m with him.”  Hmmm.  “Good insight,” I said. “You’re smart and funny and that’s great, but just be sensitive to what’s happening around you.”  We hugged when he left. I have my fingers crossed for that boy. He’s a wonderful kid.

As you can see, I wear a few different hats with my students – writing teacher/life coach/friend.  I end up becoming very bonded with these kids since many come to me for a long time.  This is one of the sweetest parts of my life, these students. I have developed some deep, longlasting relationships that I treasure. Of course, I have a few adult students who fall into this same category.  One woman, who I helped during her Clinical Psychology Master’s program and with her thesis, came to see me yesterday.  “I miss coming here,” she said.  “I think I need to write a book just so you and I can keep working together.” That is now in the works.

I could never have dreamed up this life.  I am grateful.

Okay, on that note, I’ll say so long.  I’ll be checking back in again tomorrow.  Until then, stay cool.  

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