Grocery Shopping at 8 and so much more : #3 SOS 4-23-24

Morning All,

I coming to you from a familiar spot. I just took a new shot of a familiar morning view from my porch. Nothing new.  It’s spring and it’s always a thrill to stand on my porch, without a jacket and breathe in the fresh air and listen to the spring birds. And you all know where I’m going with this… we are living  our familiar lives in an unfamiliar way… So right now I’m up and dressed and coffeed up and in 30 minutes, maybe a few less I’ll be out and off in my car (first time since my last shopping spree last Monday) for just groceries… but I am starting to shake and worry that I won’t remember to get everything I need to stay away for as long as I can…

I’ll be back…


Okay, I’m back in just over one hour- everything whipped off and put away.

    I’m naturally exhausted because I have finished a first draft of my new border video and after hours of intense work with Final Cut software tools, reworking my voice over… and then sending off my baby draft to my partner on this piece  Melba Salazar-Lucio, and late last night getting her very specific feedback  back and then planning for an unusual ending with her…set for Saturday morning using  Zoom.

I knew that I could not do anything more last night without messing up what I want to preserve in that draft…


So funny, as a kid I thought revision was a waste of time.  I had an assignment, I did it, handed it in to  a teacher, its only reader, beside maybe my mom, and all I needed to see at the top of the page was a good grade.  Even in college.

In my sophomore English class with Harold  Shapiro, I remember that in our small class one morning he decided to hand back our weekly essays to us and critique each of us publicly…Public humiliation, how destructive, thinking about now, as a teacher myself…

  Anyway, I do remember when he got to me.  I already hated him and well, he wasn’t crazy about me… but we were civil to each other, and mildly respectful. In the spirit of Flower power and activism in the late 60’s on a college campus,I had become the champion for the underdogs in our class. Maybe I was foolhardy but I did not care about what grade he gave me and really that was the ultimate power he had over us.

   I remember he paused before handing my paper back to me, studying the page as if he was just reading it for the first time…

“Hmmm… interesting Miss Kaplan… some clever ideas but I’d suggest that you revise it a bit… I’ve listed some suggestions.  Of course it’s your choice.  You all know I don’t believe in giving students A’s… Who  among you could write an essay worthy of an A?  But Bonnie… if you try this one again… this might be an A-… I know you don’t take your writing seriously but really you should.  It’s a reflection of you and an A is much more impressive than a B.”

I felt like I was at a funeral fighting off the giggles.  . 

  He handed me my paper… we both knew I would not revise for him and a big B from him was as good as an A… Nope I would not waste my time.  It wasn’t for me that I wrote that paper…I knew exactly what I’d do with it as soon as we were free… With immense pleasure I would ball it up and throw it in the first garbage pail.

  Harold Shapiro… I wasn’t writing for myself… I was barely writing for him… just an assignment… that as I think about it, I didn’t really understand..  but here I am at 70, in my isolation and I can’t stop working on  every detail of this story I’m trying to tell because it’s mine… 

Harold Shapiro had nothing to do with my transformation… and thankfully he was an outlier in my education- I had great English teacher before and after him… but that semester was torture…


Wow… I was not planning to write about Harold Shapiro… but I am a lover of revision when it matters..and it took a lot to get where I am now… thank God for the teachers… that got me here…

And now… I am back from the grocery store, the fridge is full… and soon Andrew Cuomo will be on TV at 11:30 AM sharing his daily dose of honest updates about our reality. Glad he’s our governor and I was never a fan of before March 2020.

So friends, I am so happy to be back blogging with you.


21 thoughts

  1. I am so happy to be back blogging with you too! I loved the way this began and the route it took you to reminisce of Shapiro and his feedback. What a jackass! I’ve just read an article from the Harvard Review, The Feedback Fallacy. As you detailed Shapiro’s feedback, I couldn’t help but think of that article. “Focusing people on their shortcomings or gaps doesn’t enable learning. It impairs it.” Who you write (create) for matters. We need to get kids not to just write for the assignment/teacher. Great thinking today!

  2. Revision is actually a good word for our times. Seeing in a different way is woven through your post. Starting with a new way of shopping and altered driving habits. Interesting how your accounting of your current writing project revision led to an unexpected memory.

  3. It’s a major delight to read your words, Bonnie. I am not going to that early morn shopping but miss it very much. My daughter is doing the shopping for me & I miss it. I love that you moved into an old college class. I came into college from a fabulous English teacher, so I did manage some revision, yet I know that after all these years I ‘see’ much more that needs change. Even after I think it’s done, I see (re-see) it again & blip, there’s one more thing that could be better. Yes, I’m glad you have Cuomo, too. I also am pleased with our governor Polis, though he is hitting some negative after yesterday when he laid out the plan for starting to open up. Most neighbors & others I read say it’s too soon. We’ll see who elects to try.

  4. I am writing a blog post on how teachers read their students’ writing, and your story is on reason why I am writing it. I am not always good at reading for the experience the writer wanted me to get from their writing, but I’m working on it.

    “I am a lover of revision when it matters” – these words are really sticking with me. So many kids write for the assignment and not for what matters! I like the path this post took!

  5. It’ amazing to think how our writing lives have changed. When I first began, I did write for the grade. I didn’t know I could write. Now, I’m learning how to weave words and create. Writing is a place to hold the memories. I also view it as encouragement as your words and others bring joy to my soul.

  6. Huh. Lots to ponder here. Your story of revision from how our grocery shopping has been revised to why we write and revise. I guess it all stems from purpose and what we truly value. I always wrote for the grade, not for me … until later in life when I started blogging. Our purpose changes as does determining what we value. Thanks for this journey of reflection today from grocery shopping to so much more, Bonnie!

  7. Hi Bonnie, I was so grateful to read your words and build my empathy for my sixth graders. I know they are only writing for the grade, and that frustrates me. But your words reminded me, I DID THE EXACT SAME THING! So how do I move these students to write for the love of writing, for the love of expression? That’s a big question. Anyway I loved reading this micro-memoir. Thank you for sharing your words.

    • Thank you Anne for your close and thoughtful reading. I am so happy to be back writing on my blog. It’s real writing for me with an audience. It pushes me to write something I can really share- revision!

  8. Ahh, revision. How all students hate it, but now, here we are, constantly revising how we live our lives. Thanks for sharing your morning and your thoughts with us Bonnie!

  9. It was always my challenge once I found my own writing voice to offer that same gift to my students… to care about their writing… I had to experience the feeling of being a writer first- I was turning 40 that summer and life was never the same again.

  10. Love hearing your voice. I’m having a hard time keeping up, but here I am, just a little over a week late. Daughter has been shopping for us. We plan for two weeks at a time. Her furlough at work is ending next week, so we may start doing our own shopping. It’s hard when they are out of things you want. I liked the “in the moment” feel of this piece.

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Tammy L. Breitweiser

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