Way Behind

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April is always a busy time of year, for me. I seem to always have a number of other writing commitments and personal tasks that crop up during this time of year, and knowing this, I still add my unofficial participation in the A to Z Blog Challenge to my list. (Unofficial, because I know I’ll end up falling behind.) I tried people. I tried! I didn’t even make it half way through the alphabet this year. I’m glad I posted as much as I did, but I’m disappointed that I didn’t do more!😦

What this means is that I need to plan better for 2017. (Yes, I am crazy enough to try this again!) That planning process starts NOW! I’ll get a new A to Z list started, and write some poems and short stories that will be all cleaned up and ready share by this time next year. I  think I might plan to participate in Camp Nano, too. (I know. I just went from “crazy” to stark raving mad!) In the meantime, I’ll continue to drop drips and drabs for the 2016 challenge into the month of May. Stay tuned! A to Z isn’t over for me!!

#AmWriting

 

Today’s Kids

We often lament how different kids are today from the children of 20 and 30 years ago. Youth of the past went outside and played. They caught fireflies, played hopscotch and double dutch, stickball in the street and ran through the sprinklers on hot summer days. Today’s kids are computer and social networking experts. They are gamers and New Age Parental Tech Support. They are practically born with technology in their hands, and have a tendency to miss things happening right in front of them. My generation and the generation before mourns the loss of childhood of our children and grandchildren. We wish they engaged and connected they way we used to when we were their age.
I saw something yesterday morning that gave me some hope. Three kids, got on the bus this morning. They ranged in age from about 8 to 13 years old. They got on the bus quietly, headed to the back, and remained quiet until their stop. I almost forgot that they were on the bus. They got off at their stop, and headed in the direction of their school. The seemed to get off the bus in chronological order, oldest to youngest. I watched as the oldest boy bent down while he was walking and plucked a fluffy white dandelion from the ground. His sister and brother followed his lead and grabbed two more.
I loved catching a glimpse of that moment. It put a smile on my face to witness that kids still found fascination in something and simple as making a wish and blowing those fluffy white seeds off the stem. It was beautiful to see that kids are still kids.
Dandelion

Photo Credit: Steven Depolo

Sometimes I Think About You

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I wonder if you remember my name,
my favorite color, my favorite foods,
my favorite song.
Do you recall the plans we made?
The talks about the house we would buy,
and the porch we would sit upon
on warm summer nights,
watching the fireflies perform
and the scent of honeysuckle
wafting on warm lingering breezes
while we shared a tall glass of lemonade.
I remember.
Do you remember our six month anniversary?
You thought it was silly
but bought me flowers anyway
and pretended to be upset
when you realized I hadn’t bought you any.
Remember how you laughed later that day
when I gave you a homemade anniversary card?
I went back to my kindergarten-artist days
and broke out the construction paper,
crayons, glue and glitter.
I even misspelled a few words
just for poops and giggles.
I remember that you kept that silly thing
tucked into the frame of the mirror on your dresser.
You had a picture of us tucked into that frame, too.
I remember the day you said goodbye.
That’s the story I tell people, anyway.
We ended on quiet, friendly terms.
The truth is, you just went away.
You gave no explanation.
I was left with hundreds of promises
you made to my heart,
that would never be fulfilled.
I wonder if you ever felt guilt or shame about that?
I guess it doesn’t matter.
You left me with only one choice:
To remember the good times,
and to look forward to the future.

Kintsukuroi

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Kintsukuroi – “To repair with gold.” The art of reparing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

 

The Potter formed me in his hands,

Gently pressing and pulling me into shape.

He adorned me beautifully,

And placed me in the fire

To strengthen and finish me.

From plain and without form,

Disorganized and without purpose,

To new and useful,

And designed with a specific purpose in mind.

I was used,

On purpose,

And misused

With intention.

I looked like what I’d been through,

Cracked and broken,

With missing pieces

That never again fit back in place.

I was pushed aside,

Deemed unfit and useless,

Until I was discovered by one

Who saw beyond the broken fragments

And recognized The Potter’s design.

He took the shattered pieces,

And figured out where they belonged.

He saw the gaps and ragged edges,

Mended them with gold,

And covered me with a protective shield.

When he was finished,

He stepped back to examine his work.

Gone were the broken pieces.

His tender touch and ministration

Restored purpose,

And made me beautiful, again.

Walking to Work

I got off the bus one stop early today, because I wanted to treat myself to a cup of coffee. I consider it a luxury, as I am trying to curb unnecessary spending and rebuild my savings. In my world, $2.45 for a tall cup of coffee won’t upset the delicate balance of my universe, but it could make a world of difference to someone else.

Here’s what I saw on my way to work this morning:

  • A mother with two young kids who could not speak english trying to get an all-day pass on the bus, but didn’t have exact change for bus fare. (The driver let her ride anyway.)
  • An old man walking down the mall talking to himself.
  • A young disabled man walking down the mall. (I considered that in spite of his impairment, that he may have been on his way to work. He might even own his own business.)
  • A homeless man stopped, looked into a trash can, pulled out a bag that had a food container in it and started to unwrap the bag to see what might have been left behind.

I’m glad my eyes were open this morning. It made me realized, I have it pretty good.

coffee-cup-sleeve

Image credit: Nirzar

Time Travel

Today I took a trip, via Google Maps, to my hometown of Brooklyn, NY. I visit my old neighborhood often and “walk” the route I used to take to school each morning, the route to the library and the route to my aunt’s house. I try to recall the bus route to the school I went to for 1st through 3rd grades, but I guess a memory will only reach but so far. A lot has changed in 30+ years.

There used to a used car lot next to my house. I remember the guy who owned the place was pretty nasty. His car lot looked more like a junk yard. His cousin owned a small dealership across the street. He sold shiny new Lincolns, and had fancy red,white and blue tinsle strung between the light poles and fence around his lot. I doubt the cousin still owns that lot. The tinsle and Lincolns are gone, and have been replaced by a red, white and blue sign and used luxury vehicle. In place of the trashy used car lot, is a motel with very few windows next to my old house. It looks more like a warehouse than a place to stay while you visit your family in Brooklyn.

At the other end of the street is The L – the elevated train line. The street that the train line covered was dark and dirty looking, simply because sunlight was blocked by the platform and tracks. The steps leading to the platform always smelled like urine and seemed to have extra grunge around the steps. I took the train with my mother a few times when I was a little girl and hated the way the wooden platform shook and rattled as the train rolled in. I was able to look between the slats to the street below. I always afraid of falling through the splintered wood planks, and getting hit by a car before landing on the road below. Travelling by bus was much safer.

The memory that’s stuck in my mind is a trip my father and I took to the deli one afternoon. It sticks out in my mind because when our family moved to Delaware and people mentioned going to the deli to eat,  it confused me. The deli I visited as a kid was a place to buy cold cuts and meat. You didn’t dine in a deli! There were no sandwiches in the deli! If you wanted a hero (a submarine sandwich), and a bag of chips with a coke, you went to the pizza shop. If you wanted sliced ham and a side of brisket, you went to the deli.

The deli that we went to was my dad’s regular place to cheese and lunch meat. The guy behind the counter knew him well and greeted him enthusiastically, “Heeeeeeey there! How ya dooin’?! What can I for ya t’day?” My dad gave him a slightly less energetic, but no less enthusiastic, “Hey, how are ya,” and proceeded to order his lunch meat and cheese. The man behind the counter noticed me standing beside my father and asked me if I would like a piece of cheese. Of course, the answer was, ‘yes!’ I loved cheese!! What six-year-old didn’t? But I had to look to my father to get the nod of approval before whispering, “Yes, please.” He sliced a thick piece of American cheese and handed it to me before slicing my father’s order. As he and my father talked, I noticed the meat in the deli case. Cow’s feet, cow tongue (which had been stamped with blue ink, letting the buyer know the government inspected it and it was safe to eat), pig’s feet, rump roast, cube steak and other cuts of meat. One of the workers came from the refrigerated area in the back. I looked through the door and saw a whole half of a cow. Beef, before it was sectioned and cut up into the pieces that the butcher would wrap in crisp brown wax paper and hand to customers to prepare for their evening meals. It was then than the odor hit me – the cold aroma of death. The combined fragrance of pork and beef blood that dripped on the floor in that back area, the smell of both types of flesh, blended with the sweet smell of cheeses and other exotic meats in the deli case. I’ve never encountered that bouquet again. It didn’t traumatize me. I think my father thought it might have, because he never took me back.

The deli counter in the supermarkets I frequent today don’t feel as real (maybe ‘qualified’ is a better word) to me as that little deli in Brooklyn. They don’t smell like death. They fry chicken and sell potato salad, and cater. They sell pita chips. Maybe, by now, deli’s in New York do all of those things, too. It’s a great way to generate additional income, but it takes away from the charm of a good, old fashioned deli.

My trips via Google Maps feel something like time travelling. It reminds me how different our worlds can be within a two hour distance, as well as how much the world has changed in 30 years.

 

Fall Seven Times

**Trigger alert: If you are a big softy like me, grab some Kleenex. You’ll need something to catch the teardrops!

I saw this video of little Bailey Matthews a few weeks ago and it brought me to tears (happy tears). I saw him let go of his walker and take off running. He didn’t just let go of the walker. The way he released it, almost felt like he was flinging it to one side. His gait was joyful. The expression on his face was full of excitement and happiness. He saw the finish line and he was going for it! Then, he fell. The mother in me gasped. Yes, I reached out toward the screen, because I was sure that his knee hurt and somebody had to tend to it. I noticed that his father lagged behind, pulling the walker and watching his son. He didn’t go to help him up. He knew what his son would do. Bailey pushed himself up, and took off running again. He fell again. At this point, with the cameras behind him, his face can’t be seen in the video. But his body language says it all! He was determined to finish on his own, and he did!

It’s just a little over a minute worth of video, but it speaks volumes. Bailey has Cerebral Palsy, which causes some challenges with coordination and muscle movement. I didn’t see the, “If he can do that in his condition, anybody can,” cliché inspirational message. I saw him fall. I saw him get back up. Whether because of his condition, or a lump in the ground, he fell and decided not to stay down. In Proverbs 24:16 it says, “For a just man falleth seven times, he riseth up again…” A Japanese proverb similarly states, “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” Falling is not always a choice, but getting back up is. What moved me the most about Bailey getting back up, was that he did it with so much joy! He didn’t waste any time crying, whining or analyzing what caused his fall. He got up and kept going and he did it happily!

So, the next time you fall, remember Bailey. Get back up and run to your finish line joyfully!