The story or…

…the novel?

I am happy to report that nothing overly exciting has happened in my life since the last post. That’s right, in one full week, I have managed to eat, bathe, read, write, sleep, go to work, and repeat….for seven days straight. Try not to envy this glorious schedule, a few nights, sleep was a bit problematic and school is closed on the weekends. Now if you’re thinking well I can just stop reading this post, please do not stop.

The lovely Katie Clooney over at Preppy Empty Nester recommended a wonderful book to me several weeks ago. I suppose it’s because she knows the Catholic girl in me can’t escape my upbringing which includes 16 years of Catholic indoctrination education. She would be correct…although recent news once again points toward abuse at the hands of priests there is no fleeing my roots. I am fortunate to look back on this time without much negativity, even though I worked in the parish rectory for three years as an evening secretary during my teens in the late 70’s. There are “stories” from the inside of those walls, but not in this post and perhaps maybe never.

It is my time in Catholic schools which probably defines much of who I am and how I react to events in life. If research speaks to explain me then I suppose birth order and my childhood within a large family also play a large role in the person I am today. Quite frankly, research is all I have considered over the last few weeks as my last posts have reflected the fact that reading and writing at the graduate level have consumed any “free-time” I might have in a day.

Not sure what research would say about my kindergarten artistic interpretation of my family…I left out one of my brothers …at least I recognized I was the favorite by placing myself between my mother and father.

But this post is not about “graduate” level writing or reading. It’s about a door I hope to open in the future. The book which has me considering this door is…


I absolutely loved this book…a must-read for anyone who went to Catholic schools.

There are some from my years spent in Catholic schools who do not look back on this time with even a shred of fondness. I would agree with them for, at times, the fear instilled by a nun was not one you would wish on your worst enemy. Even when I was considering sending my own boys to Catholic schools many years ago, I wondered if it would be the right fit for them. Fortunately, when Hubster and I visited our local public school we were happy to find a college classmate was a first-grade teacher and this eased my fears of the unknowns in public schools at the time. Obviously, as a teacher in a public school today, I laugh at my parental misgivings.

I’m not sure my two son-sters would have survived these two. I had the shorter one for math in the 7th grade. She was tough, but I love Math and credit her with this love.

Anyway, back to the door…I am pretty sure sometime during my second year of teaching, my students were to write a narrative story. They were a bright bunch, but with limited life experience, they could not think of ideas on which to base a story. I tried to have them think about experiences they had which could lead to the topic of a good story…for instance, “Write what you know” …well, a few came up with skateboarding, a few more video games (no surprise), but mostly they didn’t have any ideas. I suggested writing about school as all of them have had experience with school.

I decided to model my ideas of school as a young girl. Many were shocked when I explained experiences learning with nuns. They wanted to hear more, but I didn’t go on because the story they were to write was from them, not me. Anyway, the lesson started me thinking about a story of my own. So way back in 2011, I started to write a story…it still has no title, but almost 20 chapters have been written. It takes place in the early to mid-1970’s. As you can probably surmise it features a girl who attends Catholic school, she has yet to break any real rules in life, she is from a large family, she has a keen sense of observation & interpretation, and her anxiety level goes from 0 to 60 mph at the drop of a pin. In the story, she loses a cherished item and her quest to get it back finds her coming to terms with much of the anxiety she creates in her mind.

From my first grade classroom…look at that bulletin board…OBEY, no one was fooling around because the wrath of Sister Marsha Law* would strike you down.

In hopes that the door will peek open just like the quote at the top of the post suggests I am posting the first chapter on a separate page so you can read it or not…I hope you do read it. Hubster keeps telling me to finish it and stop calling it a “story” because at 20 chapters it’s a novel.

Who knows, if enough of you read it, I may post the second chapter.

Take Care,

*Sister Marsha Law…the name of the principal in my story novel.



  1. Kelly L McKenzie says:

    Nina Dunkel is a treasure. She needs airing. Keep plugging away on those chapters! I went to the Convent of the Sacred Heart from grade 9 – 12. My pals who attended from grade 1 were full of wonderful stories similar to the ones I suspect you experienced. However, my time was different. The nuns were beginning to ditch their habits and the rules were relaxed. It was the beginning of the end. The school closed five years after we graduated.

    • Beemie says:

      So glad you enjoyed the first chapter. It is unfortunate that so many schools closed…the tuition went through the roof at most schools after nuns were no longer teaching. The stories are the best part and so many of them are true. Loving your Instagram photos from Iceland.

  2. jmac says:

    Sister Ignatius. I will fear her body and soul for the rest of my life! As my punishment by her, when I didn’t do EXACTLY as she ordered, I’d have to ride my bike to school on Saturday to do the laundry at the convent. No doubt that had been her job that she conveniently unloaded onto me or she would tell my mom of my discrepancies. The jelly side to that would be that I could go back and tell all my friends what the nuns underwear looked like!!
    Oh…..the stories I could tell from catholic school!!!

    Cannot wait to read your first chapter….going now!!!

  3. jmac says:

    Bravo!!! Bravo!!!! I want more…..need more!!!

    Pennies for the Poor…HAHAHAHAHA…do you think that was a prerequisite for teaching in a catholic school?? We had one too!!!!!

    Dying here…….re-living my days in the arms of the black habits of lore!!!!!!

  4. Sue B Leonard says:

    I love your writing! Can’t wait for your novel. Although I did not attend Catholic school – everyone I’ve known that did has alluded to the fact that it left indelible memories. This is a great inside look. Write on…..can’t wait to hear its been published!

    • Beemie says:

      Thanks Sue…currently busy writing a research paper for my graduate class. I hope to post another chapter or two soon

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