Simply, Jack

Newest Addition

Newest Addition (Photo credit: FrankGuido)

Days go by that seem ordinary, nothing really special seems to happen that you can remember. Maybe, we are just too tied up with our everyday lives to take a breath, and break down our day into moments, seconds, even. I try to do that but more often than not I forget and the days blur together like wet watercolor paintings. Once in a rare while something happens that makes you stop right in your tracks and hits you in the heart and stomach like a wonderful, joyous sucker punch. Yesterday, it was meeting Jack.

Even while I am writing this my eyes tear up and I honestly can’t explain why exactly. Is it that for once something good happened, some miracle answered? That the child I met was so beautiful, angelic, almost ethereal ? I was absolutely honored when I was introduced to her son, Jack. His lovely, pink-cheeked mother, looking exactly as she had years ago, introduced me and Jack held up his hand to shake mine. Something my 19 and 20-year-old children would never think about doing. Was I crying about the miracle of Jack or did it evoke memories of the miracle of my son, a junior in college and daughter, a sophomore in college to me? Each their own miracle and I do not say this lightly.

We had a rough time getting pregnant with our son, two and a half years of infertility treatments, shots, blood tests, ultra-sounds, medication, driving to the hospital at 5:30 am for my blood to be tested, for sonograms, back at night for more blood tests, shots. I did all of this in silence because back in the early nineties, no one talked about infertility. It was a shameful secret. My colleagues, boss, family and friends would make such hurtful comments and jokes all the time about “So, when  are you going to have a baby?” Grandparents were no different but finally we had to tell them; we thought they would be more sensitive but they weren’t. People say remarkably ignorant and cruel things even though that is not their intention. I’ve always watched my words to other people but this cemented it. When we conceived our son it was indeed a miracle. Our daughter, 21 months later, was again, another wonderful miracle. Just as I was about to call the doctor for treatments, I learned I was already pregnant! Now we are blessed with two kind, smart, wonderful young adults, it seems like just a minute ago that they were still young.

Jack’s mom is a kindergarten teacher who worked across the hall from both of my children’s kindergarten’s teacher. When I ran into her yesterday I knew exactly who she was. I am the type of person that never forgets a face. I, of course, thought she had no idea who I was but she stopped me, she remembered me and my name and my children. This time, I was the one who was shocked and incredibly touched. How amazing that she remembered me! How could that be? That was always my role.

Then there was Jack, beautiful, angelic, pale skinned cherub, Jack. I remember he had to fight to live, I think he was premature but I truly can’t remember the details. I just remember there was difficulty and when he was born, even though I didn’t know his mom directly I was euphoric. I was so thrilled that I ran to buy a present for her son to welcome him into the world. It didn’t matter if she knew who I was or not, I didn’t care. As someone known to be sensitive to other people, her joy was mine too.

Seeing her face yesterday was more beautiful than a sculpture, she glowed with happiness and with pride.  I was so touched by her happiness and by young Jack. I thought about it at night and obviously today too. Jack, maybe when you are older your mom will show you this but just know: that as much as everyone loves you know, you were loved by many people before you were even born. It’s like you had your own fan club waiting for you, every single day.  We crossed our fingers, we said our prayers because your mom is such a special and warm person we knew she deserved a boy exactly like you.

Dedicated to JP and Jack.

Photograh: credit to photographer

words and lyrics by John Lennon

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Kellie Elmore: Favorite Ending of Song

Nobody Wants to Play With Me

Nobody Wants to Play With Me (Photo credit: tochis)

“And in the end, the love you take
is equal to the love you make “

“Life is a one big circle, that’s what I thought but at fifteen everything seems convoluted. My brain, practically has wires sticking out of it and one minute I was crying and the next I was mad as hell. I could be sitting on the couch with my mom not wanting any physical contact with her AT ALL and then a sappy commercial would come on and I would start to sob and wish that she would just take me in her arms and hug me like she used to when I was little. She didn’t because I didn’t give any sign of wanting to be hugged and I hadn’t given her any encouragement for the past three years to come anywhere close to me. But still, it hurt.

High School for a girl like me is hell on earth, I wasn’t one of those cheerleaders, one of the popular girls. I hated them. Or maybe I was jealous of them, I’m not sure. But I knew this, I would never be a cheerleader ever. My parents complimented me and said I was “wonderfully different” and “independent” “special” but the kids in school talked straight. They called me “weirdo.” That’s what I was, one big, tall nothing of a weirdo.

Sure,  I loved animals and volunteered at the dog shelter every day after school but that doesn’t make you prom queen or Miss Personality. It’s lonely being different, oh heck, I’ve been alone all my life. Even my over-achieving sports-minded brother didn’t care about me. He was too busy winning trophies and bragging about them. You should see his room it was like a shrine to him except he was still alive. You know, gathering more trophies and medals in college.

I guess I thought my life would be easier once he went away to college but nothing changed, In fact we had less to talk about at the dinner table. Except for my homework assignments. My parents always asked about that: For  English our assignment was: Write about every positive good feature we have. My English teacher was the only teacher I really liked and respected but this was going to be one short assignment. I sighed and rolled my eyes just thinking about it. Why couldn’t I write about someone else? Why me? I’d  rather write about my stupid older brother than myself. I put my pen to paper and started writing without thinking:

Dana: good person, helps others, kind, loves dogs, volunteers at dog shelter every day after school, tutors math to little kids, likes to write (but not about me) loves reading, don’t like myself, like my green eyes, hates nose and everything else, maybe not my hair, hair is ok. pretty good daughter, love my parents, don’t like hurting people’s feelings. love to watch people, hate being watched, or looked at, honest, fair.

I handed it to Ms. Wilson the next morning and quickly walked away.  I forgot about it until she had passed the homework back three days later and gave me mine with a big red SEE ME AFTER CLASS written on it. I thought I was going to throw up. I swear, I almost did.

I waited until everyone left and Ms. Wilson smiled,  ” Dana, she laughed, you are NOT in trouble, I just want to talk to you. I’m not Miss Wilson now, I’m Michelle. I wanted to tell you how much I admire you. Actually, you remind me a lot of me when I was your age. She laughed and said “don’t look so shocked I was YOUR age once!.” I couldn’t speak, I just sputtered. “Dana, you are one of the smartest, kindest  and most gifted students that I have ever known. You have a wonderful way with words AND a career in writing if that’s what you decide to do. I want to make sure YOU know that. I don’t feel you really know how special a person you are.” “But, But,  all the other girls…”she stopped me, “all the other girls? What the silly pom-pom girls with the fake blonde hair and blue contact eyes?” Nonsense, you, my dear are an original. One of my teachers taught me this and I’m passing it down to you because, I swear, it works. All you need to do is play the confidence game, smile even if it is pretend, carry yourself like you are the queen.

Soon enough, others will smile back and it will be natural for you. You are a lovely young woman and you give a lot of love to everything you do, it’s only a matter of time and self-confidence for you to get it all back, and you will, I promise. Do you know the word “karma” she asked me. Yeah, I said sheepishly, my parents are hippies.

“You promise, things will get better? I asked? Pinky swear, she said. So we locked pinkies and I felt better already. Miss. Wilson then  asked me for a hug which I gave her and I tried really hard NOT to cry but when I looked at her she was doing the very same thing. I left with a smile on my face and it was real.

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Sometimes when I’m alone I cry (Carry on Tuesday)

i’m not allowed to talk to people,no one or my daddy,mostlly daddy will slap me down. i not saying nothing cause then i get in trouble and i get punished too much,sometimes so purple an blue i cant go to school with my sister and brother. i like school a lot cuz my teachre is pretty and nice an she smiles alot to all the kidss.not jus to me but to all the kids but a lot to  just me. sometimes she puts h er hand on my arm and aks me to stay and tellsme if i wanna talk she would listen. i know that but my daddy. would not like that or mama either. but i want to sometimes. in my heaert where it burns so bad and my hands turn into balls of  fists like fire.

sometimes i feel like i’m gonna explode and when, my teacher,mrs. martin is super nice to me, i don’t know what to do. i can’t tell her, i can’t tell nobody cause if i do ther will be hell to pay and i dont want any more trouble. i got enuf. my backside still hurts from last time and it wasnt my fault, it was ricky’s my older brothers. but he said i messed with him so he blamed it on me and daddy believed him and ricky stood laughin while i got turned over daddy’s knee and i got whipped good. i was strong but then it hurt so bad, i did cry. i didn cry in front of them but sometimes when i’m alone i cry  but i think the  girl downstaiars saw me. i don’t care cuz it wasn’t daddy.cuz i didn’t want to show them that i waz a baby, no sir. i was big now, in fourth grayd even tho peoplee says im small. that aint so. my sistere Robin, my sister didnt laugh but she didnt say stop neither.cuz if it wasnt me it would be her. that’s how it goess here.

everyybody got to be safe for themselves, i know.but when im old enuf im gonna leave here and be good and g row up to be a man or a solid man like my pretty teachre says. i wanna curl up sometimes an hide   under ms martinns desk or maybee just go say hi again to the nice lady who lives underneaath us, the one ewho saw me cryin and gave me a tissue,in the buiding.in aparrtment 1C. we live in 2C.she looks at me funny sometimes but not bad fynny just weird funny.like she has a question mark on her face all the time, her pointy face.I gotta stay away, cuz she has the look of allmost saying something, like she cares but she can’t do nothing and neither can ms martin, cuz if daddy found out, we would likely just kill us an we don’t need nothing like that.i just want to tell her to just let it be. it wont be for forever. just sometimes you gotta get thru stuff an then u disappear.

Childhelp: Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse

www.childhelp.org/

National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) Crisis Counselors

Life is too short to work so hard. (Carry on Tuesday)

English: Throughput Accounting Chart

English: Throughput Accounting Chart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Oh my God, Mom, Dad, I’m trying, I told you like a hundred times but the only advice you give me is to find something I’m really interested in. I have no idea.  Oprah, every talk show host on television says “Life is too short so love what you do.”  Well, I don’t KNOW what I love to do, not everybody in the world knows, right?  I mean, I can’t be the only one, can I?

Look, you don’t think I’m envious of Jimmy down the street who knew at age nine that he wanted to be a doctor? Sure. But, it was easy for him, his father and mother are both doctors and he just followed them. Besides, there was never any question that he wouldn’t. Jimmy never had a mind of his own. I mean, really. Both his parents are podiatrists, gee, guess what field Jimmy is going to go into? Yup, feet. Dirty, smelly, old feet. Believe me, I’m NOT jealous, geez, why would I be? He’s always been a serious loser. C’mon Mom, you used to say that too, admit it.

Just because I don’t agree with you guys doesn’t mean I am being a “fresh mouth” and I don’t know what TONE you think I am using with you. How about let’s ALL take a deep breath. Okay. Do you think I like living with my parents at age 23? No, I don’t. But, what are you gonna do, are you gonna kick me out? YOU ARE? THAT IS SO MEAN. Oh, not yet but soon. I know the temp jobs I have been working at aren’t stable but like I said, I don’t know what to do and you guys said graduate school is out of the question.

I have said many times that I don’t want to be an accountant like Dad or a substitute teacher like mom. Dad, please listen and don’t get mad, I flunked every math class I ever took and you know I’ve always switched numbers around in my head, like dyslexia but not with words, with numbers. No, it is so true, my teacher told me it was a real condition. Anyway, I know you have been doing it for forty years and it makes a good salary but Dad, you don’t love what you are doing. Right? I mean honestly? I know you have the responsibility of taking care of the family and feeding us and all that and I admire you for that, but do you really want me to have the same life you have? I mean, really? Life is too short to work so hard that you dread going in every single day. Daddy, I thank you for doing this but I don’t want to do the same thing.

Maybe you can help me figure out what to do? Mom? You too. Please? I know I’m 23 but that doesn’t mean I’m all grown-up. It just means that I’m lost and afraid and older and believe me it makes me feel horrible and stupid. I still need you guys. A lot. It’s nice of you to say that I’m very smart and talented but I don’t feel that way at all, I feel insecure and stupid. So, yes, I would appreciate if we could all sit down and talk about options. Oh that? I knew you wouldn’t really kick me out the door. But, thanks for saying it.”

Plinky: Who Was Your Favorite Teacher?

  • Best Teacher
  • Apple For The Teacher
    Timken Roller Bearing Co., calendar, September 1950, teacher at desk Her name was Mrs. Diner and she was a teacher in Kew Gardens, Queens at PS 99. She was my sixth grade teacher and I remember her kindness and her warmth. I remember how she looked based on a very old photograph of us that someone took. I don’t think she did anything extraordinary but being a teacher was important to her; she made her students FEEL important and loved. Mrs. Diner was a teacher to remember, she inspired us all. Thank you, Mrs. Diner.
    P.S. 30 years later my mom met her on an airplane and Mrs. Diner remembered me. I was absolutely thrilled!

Plinky Prompt: When you were five….

  • When you were five, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did it happen? See all answers
  • Fireman? Ballerina?
  • Taranaki St. Free Kindergarten, Wellington

    A Kindergarten teacher.

    I always loved little children, still do and I know I have a great way with kids, especially shy kids. I didn’t become a teacher because my roommates in college were always doing these art projects and I am NOT crafty.
    Needless to say, I think it was a mistake because I would have been a creative and loving teacher.
    Instead, I worked with grown-ups, counseling, hiring and doing negotiations. I should have stuck with the young crowd, they are so much nicer!

Saying Good-Bye To Oprah

Signature of American television personality, ...

Image via Wikipedia

I loved the peachy-pink dress you wore on the last show, Oprah. I didn’t think this last show would be your own last lecture, a love letter, a synopsis from you to your adoring fans but in retrospect, it was what you were all about. Teaching. I admit I wanted to be able to cry, with you, for you and for me and the rest of the world but you saved that, and rightly so, for the last ten minutes.  Your walk from the stage out was like watching a play, with emotion, but not with regret. How wonderful to be you.

I imagined I would get to see an emotional Oprah, one that showed your vulnerability, any slight doubt you had, any separation anxiety. But, I, was the one with the separation anxiety and loss, not you. I was the one who needed an emotional good-bye, you didn’t. Truly amazing. For the last twenty-five years I have grown up with The Oprah Winfrey Show. Today, even though I tape the shows I had to see it live.  “I have to watch Oprah from 4-5pm today” I told my children. They understood and at 16 and 18, they have their own favorite shows, their loyal friends, their own lessons to learn, their own truth to find. We will have to teach them what we learned from you.

Oprah, you have been a friend to me and to people all around the world. “Your life is speaking to you, what is it saying…?” For me, it is saying that I will miss you, that I have learned so much from you, that 4-5pm will feel empty without you. You told us that “when it was the right time to leave, there was no regret, not bittersweet, just sweet.”  I know I couldn’t be like that. Sometimes, I second guess myself but I know how to listen to my gut, to my feelings, to search inside my soul. I always knew that but you validated my feelings; you cheered me on as a woman and especially as a parent, as a stay at home mother.

Oprah is a teacher, an educator, a spiritual and religious woman, that was very clear today.  You were on our own, to thank us, the audience, for making you feel special and loved and validated.  “We too can find our own passion, in whatever way we choose. We can help people, be kind to one another and stave off bad karma by putting forward only good karma.” Yes, we have heard it before but it was good to hear it one last time. To remind us all of what is important, to be kind and give to others.

We will spread the love, we will spread the joy and the passion. You were the love of our lives too, Oprah, as we were yours. After 25 years, I have to say good-bye to a friend who has been on television all of my adult life. I grew up with you and I have learned a lot of lessons from you. I feel sorry for this new generation because they will not have you in their lives to teach them. We will just have to pass down what we have learned from you; as you see, you will be in our hearts forever.

I will say good-bye, because I have to. Thank you for all that you have done for this world. I will truly miss you.

If I Were a Teacher

Each One Teach One (Oneida album)

Image via Wikipedia

Life 101

 

I have always and I mean always, wanted to teach a course called Life 101. Originally I thought it would be good for college age students but now that I am older, I know it could be taught in any and every grade. Imagine a class where you would not be judged and you felt free enough to ask questions that you think about. Imagine having conversations, free of fear and tension. Questions you didn’t know whom to ask….you don’t need a Ph.d to teach this class, just be a loving soul with good intentions, be sensitive to others and intuitive. Keep an open mind and help students help the world and each other. Life experience required. I am submitting my resume…NOW!

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It’s Time To Skip, Again

My 2 children spontaneously hold hands and joy...

Fear: I know your name and how you make me feel. My fingers are deep in the inner pocket of my blue fleece jacket rubbing my thumb and forefinger over the soft texture again and again. It is part of my life and everyone’s life at some point. It takes a long time to get over it but eventually you have to and you do. It is like a lazy turtle hiding in its thick green shell and only slowly, with caution, it sticks it’s leery head out and barely looks left and right. It retreats, yes, we all do but we do come out again. Maybe it’s a little easier the next time.

Life is like that, everyone can be terrified at some point and it took me years to accept that it wasn’t just me. I am still cautious, I still get those annoying, tight anxiety strings that pull and tug until they think they can wear me down. I try to push back but sometimes I fail and that is alright. There are solutions because we cannot handle everything ourselves. We need other people or we need medicine or we need to write down our fears or do a collage to rid ourselves of the scary lion, in our minds, attacking its innocent prey. Sometimes, we need to force ourselves to jump or to take a baby step or to skip like when we were innocent children. Remember the feeling of skipping down the street with your best friend? Pure joy and innocence and no fear whatsoever. Maybe we can still be that person once in a while.

It is alright to make mistakes and to make them all over again. Some lessons are hard to learn but not impossible. I know that I feel that too. Some people hide it better than others, some quake, some sweat, some can’t speak for a moment but eventually you find your OWN path. Don’t think it’s just you because it isn’t. I promise. Think of someone who you think has absolutely no fear and then think again. Everyone feels frightened some time in their life. There are some of us that wear our hearts on our sleeves, like me. You can notice my feelings on my face ten feet away, at least some people can; others, don’t notice a thing.

Sometimes I have to play a game. You can play it too. Plaster a great big fake smile on your face and pretend you are absolutely confident. Once my college teacher called it “the confidence game” and I needed it as much as anyone else. It takes time to master it but give it a chance. You might be happily surprised.

“What if I fail?” asks the nervous me. “What if I made a really big mistake?”  I wept to one of my son’s teachers when he was in first grade, “Stand in line, she said “do you think you’re the first one to make a mistake?”  To me it seemed colossal and I did fret with worry but it made me think. My son is now eighteen and I still think of her words, I can picture the teacher’s red hair and the tears on my face streaming down like a small but steady waterfall. When I finally stopped weeping and gave her a hug, I left feeling a tiny bit better. As years went by I always remembered that and now I give other people the same advice I was given. It is okay to make mistakes, everyone does.

If I had any failures in my life most of them were because I was “scared to try.”  I look back at my life and think it might have been really healthy to have been fired once or twice, or scolded and reprimanded instead of TRYING to be the perfect me. My one badge of pride is that I did not pass on my own fears to my children. For this, and this alone, I have succeeded in a spectacular way. I have also forgiven myself for the mistakes I have made, because the decisions I made at the time seemed right. Now, knowing more and being older if I try really hard, I can make different choices. Not always, but sometimes and that’s perfectly good enough.