the opposite of trapped

For months, one of my girlfriends has patiently had the same damn conversation with me.

“Okay,” I’ll tell her. “This shit that will never change is pissing me off and now it’s definitely time to bail. That’s it.”

“And will you have learned what you need to learn here, if you just bail?” she’ll ask.

“No,” I’ll grumble. “No, I won’t.”


The Tuesday before last, I was trapped. For hours. Continue reading “the opposite of trapped”


A week ago,
K told me to
grant myself grace
when I make missteps
and mistakes:

“You learn fast, Deborah,
but mistakes are inevitable.
They aren’t a sign you’ve
failed to learn. Just …
that you’re still

“You will
make them.
And it’s okay.”

This evening,
I am grateful for K’s words.

I made many mistakes.

Thanks to K,
I have a chance to see them
not as my catastrophic failure
foreshadowed early,
but rather,
simply, as

None were a sign
that I’ve utterly
failed to learn.
Just …
that I’m

(And it’s OK.)

the code beneath

“It sucks to know there’s this whole arena I may never understand even passably,” I told my best friend a few weeks ago. “It’s so important to me, but I just don’t think I’ll ever get it.”

“I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit,” Nick replied. “You’re good at patterns. Now that you know this arena is important to you, I think you’ll start picking up its patterns in no time. In fact, I think you already understand more than you think you do.”

Nick is usually pretty accurate in both his assessments and his predictions, so I was inclined to trust this one, too– Continue reading “the code beneath”

thirteen minutes

Asking for help has never been a personal strength.

My problem here isn’t typically in the asking, though;

more often, the problem is much more foundational than that.

In order to ask for help, I must first admit I do not have–and maybe cannot alone locate–the answers.

(Nooooooooooo! Not that! Never that!)

At work a couple weeks back, I encountered a small but impactful technical issue I couldn’t resolve. I spent a couple of hours independently consulting search engines in futile search of a workable solution before twin understandings dawned on me:

  1. I am not going to figure this out solo in an acceptable-to-me timeframe.
  2. There is probably someone here who already knows how to do this!

Having experienced this astonishing revelation, I searched for and quickly found just such a person. Said person not only had the answer (“Change it at the destination, not the source, just like this!”), but was also so friendly, my spirits were lifted by the conversation. Continue reading “thirteen minutes”

to become learned

One of the formative experiences of my life—testifying, as a child, feet away from a home-wrecking pedophile—taught me a great many things. The most important thing it taught me was:

You’ll only be believed if you behave, and speak, exactly right.

Four years ago, I realized I could state what I believed, but that I’d never be believed without cold, hard facts.

Maybe, I contemplated, I’d be believable with them?

I started reading. I read more than a hundred books annually to learn not only the cold, hard facts, but also to learn their contexts: the very specific histories in which they were birthed.

Continue reading “to become learned”

keep on asking!

My ten-year-old, Li’l D, and I have many times discussed the difference between “knowing” and “knowing-about.”

As human beings, it can be far too easy to confuse knowing-about with deep knowing, as I first demonstrated to Li’l D—years ago!—with elephants.

While I can’t recall how that conversation started, it began with Li’l D being confident in his elephant expertise. He remained confident until I started asking him nuanced questions about elephants: Continue reading “keep on asking!”