Slice of Life: Sorting Through Things

It’s Tuesday. Time for Slice of Life writing with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you  Tara Anna Dana Stacey,   Betsy  and Beth for providing this space for our writing.  Join us every Tuesday to read or write a slice. You can find more  here. 


“I wouldn’t let my kid live in Isla Vista,” my husband said when I walked in the kitchen Sunday morning.

This statement  weirdly transported me back to my parents’ worries.

My alma mater, UC Santa Barbara, was in the headlines. That’s where I lived I told him. That’s where all students live.

Two of our children are at sister campuses, three weeks out from their finals. They are  living in communities just like Isla Vista, with students just like the ones at UCSB.


Looking for a problem to solve, my husband went off to shop for bookshelves.

Early in the day he had constructed and filled a bookshelf from Target. This worked for the corner of one son’s bedroom, but there were still stacks of books and the thought of more of these white leaning towers wasn’t pleasing. The next thing I know we were traveling to Memorial Day sales.

After a few stops, we wandered into Pottery Barn. It felt like the MoMA gift shop: very modern, clean and gave me the intense urge to buy things I had no use for. The cabinet that opened up to become a bar was fascinating. I loved it. When I showed this wonder to my husband he gave me a you-will-never-use-this look. To which I responded with, “I know. I just thought it was so neat, look at how it folds up!” The fact that he thought I wanted to buy it still makes me smile.

Upstairs we found  two “real” book shelves made of solid wood. While these will help, I know there are still many corners to stack books; where bookshelves will eventually tower.


Organizing our ever expanding book collection is a good problem.  Helping our children find their way in the world is frightening, but something we want to do.  We try to help them figure it out, sort through the confusing parts and make sense of it. We send them off with our fingers crossed.

My heart aches for those families affected by the events at UC Santa Barbara and for all of us who send our beloveds out into the unknown.  When it isn’t ours that are hurt, we breathe a sigh of relief, pull them close, say a prayer and send them out again. And we are thankful for those problems we can solve like bookshelves.


10 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Sorting Through Things

  1. Yes, it is scary sending our kids off into a world where we know it is not all as we would like it to be. I am so grateful my life is ordinary, especially when we hear of these terrible events. It only takes news like this for us to appreciate that simple is so beautifully satisfying and to be treasured.

  2. You certainly captured the fear of parents everywhere as they heard this heartbreaking news. Keeping busy and cleaning is what so many of us do when we are stressed….and worried….and then, like you say, we pull our children close for a moment and then send them out and pray. So true and well said.

  3. It’s a thoughtful post, Julieanne, caring for those we only know from the news, and caring for your ordinary life. That is what we do, one day after another, and we’re hopeful that our lives will remain ordinary.

  4. Great post. Ordinary life continues while tragedy is all around. I am sending my daughter off to college next fall and I am already feeling this strange sense of emotion .. hopefulness for her, yet a tinge of sadness for me. I want her to be able to navigate this unpredictable world.

  5. We think our lives are simple, then complications arise that make us realize the complexities of life. My heart breaks for the families affected by tragedy. Yes, we want to hold our beloveds near, but yet they need to live their life too.

  6. Letting go of our kids, trusting that they will be fine, is not easy, especially when the news keep reminding of the dark side of the world. Your thought sorting touched me.

  7. Loved this slice, Julieanne – the pull between the ordinary and he extraordinary, between going about our lives and pausing to the recognize that life is fragile.

  8. I am so blessed because my daughter chose to attend the university here in our hometown and live at home. We have her for at least one year. She will be a senior next, but we told her she could live home her first year of teaching too…”just to save money!” 🙂 I can’t imagine the worry that goes along with sending out on their own.

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