Real Genius

I’m back teaching summer school

and my TA is a T.N.

Total. Nerd.

I don’t mean the cute Joseph Gordon-Levitt type. I  mean the kid who wears a shirt that has a periodic table with the quote “I wear this shirt periodically,” a joseph-gordon-levitt-02mouth full of braces, is as pale as he is skinny, and doesn’t know how to answer a simple question such as “Do you like working with kids,” but can go off on a tangent about the chemical composition of carbon dioxide in an alka-seltzer tab we’re using to make lava.       I am not even sure I know what that last sentence means.

He drives me crazy.

For 3rd and 4th period I teach a Chemistry in the Kitchen class to 1st and 2nd grade children. We basically put together  stuff that comes from the kitchen in hopes of the following:

1) An explosion.

2) An overflow of ingredients.

3) That it is something we can eat.

It’s a SUPER basic class, and because my specialty is reading and language arts I pride myself on having kept it simple for the last 4 years I’ve taught it. Now this kid shows up and does one or more of the following every day:

1) Corrects the terms I use like “pyramid” to “tetrahedron.”

2) Half cleans up when I ask him to clean up stuff. He only seems to focus on the immediate area around him, and not the entire classroom.

3) Spends 1-2 hours coming up with formulas for simple experiments I ask him to set up like making soda with a bit of baking soda, fruit punch powder, and water.

Let me touch on the last one and finally get to my point. Again this kid drives me crazy. He can be hardly helpful at times because he will sit at the back of the classroom writing out formulas or doodling pictures of the experiments he is supposed to actually ya know, be setting up in real life.

However, the day we were supposed to make the fruit punch soda I taught him something, and he taught me. After spending the first two hours of school writing out formulas and doing taste tests to see if there was a perfect scientific calculation formula thingy between the baking soda, water, and fruit punch he told me it was impossible to make the fizz without the drink tasting super bitter.

So asked him,

“Hey…did you just put the two into the water to taste? Like did you NOT calculate anything and just add in what you thought might work?”

“Um…huh? I tested a few samples from my calculations and-“

That’s a nope.

We went into the classroom. I put a teeny bit of baking soda, half a cup of water, and most of the fruit punch packet in the water. Voilà! Fizz, and a horrifyingly too-sweet drink any kid would love. He tasted it, paused, and replied “Uh ya that tastes pretty good.”

What did he learn? Sometimes its NOT about the perfect calculation for the perfect formula for the perfect result.

The real genius in life is understanding that sometimes the perfect result comes from an imperfect process.

Kinda like my life…

What did I learn? Patience. Although he drives me crazy this is a 14 year-old kid still figuring things out. Rather than forcing any ideas into his head I allow him the space to explore his position in our class in his own nerdy way. I also make sure to praise him highly in the occasional occasion his expertise come in handy.

I’m sure one day this kid will turn out to be just as cool as I am.  He will blossom into one of those confident nerds and meet someone who finds his interest in YouTubing Chemistry crash courses fascinating (this is a current hobby of his).


and he’ll be just fine.

Maggie xo


Life on a Napkin

A few days ago I was sitting at a bar alone having a much needed post-work cocktail, and jotting some thoughts down on a napkin when an an idea came up for my next post. At that moment I had realized two things:

 1) I needed to purchase a small journal  napkin-booklet


                              2) I was very comfortable being in my own company.


How do our thoughts on being alone change over the years?

 I asked a few women what their thoughts were on being alone versus feeling lonely. Their answers were enough to breathe the life into this post…

I think having interests or hobbies are a good thing to keep your self growing as an individual. You are less likely to get lonely because you have something that interests you-something other than being with or around others all the time. Maybe also, people don’t like to be alone because they start thinking too much – anxiety, whatever it is, and they don’t like what’s going on upstairs – so they fill that void with people or entourage who are around all the time. I think for myself being comfortable in my own skin and being happy has a lot to do with ok being alone.

When I was younger (junior high and high school), I felt like being alone meant I was a loser, unpopular, unloved. As I got older and gained a stronger, more confident sense of self, I no longer felt that way. I could focus on myself and what I wanted to do, whether in a productive or leisurely way. I think the shift also has to do with knowing that I do have a strong support system, so that being alone feels like a choice.

When you can spend quality time alone with yourself, and come away with a sense of calm, hopefulness, and anticipating the next opportunity already… you internalize that too and begin to understand your worth… the value of being still with oneself…and then you take the time to take inventory of all of the wonderful qualities that add up to make you the unique, desirable creature you are. It’s then you realize that being alone is neither bad or good… it is a contingent choice that one makes. It is also then at that point, that upon retrospective review at some later point in life, you find that loneliness disappeared when confidence and choice took over.

The quotes were taken from my Facebook group, and I appreciate their thoughtful replies.

In person, the women I spoke with gave thoughtful answers as well, and what I found is as they were replying I could see them sorting out their true feelings on what it personally meant for them to be alone. I could hear in their voices the “aha” moment of realizing how being alone has changed for them over the years…in a good way, and the commonality between all the responses:

As age and confidence goes up-so does the comfortableness of being alone. In fact, as we get older we need time alone, for various reasons. One Calla gal said over the years she has known her preference for being alone, and used to wonder what was “wrong” with her, but as her confidence went up she eventually accepted it as a part of her personality. As she finished up her reply-I sensed a feeling of relief.

Putting it “out there” had validated her self-acceptance.

You might wonder what I think. Maybe not. I’ll proceed assuming the first one.

What I think is if I could not be content and even enjoy hanging out with myself then that must mean I feel I am not enough. And I don’t.

Because over the years as I have actualized my wonderful worth, and how precious time is I have come to appreciate these solo moments-such as having a drink alone at a bar, writing about life on a napkin…

Magdelena xo