Here’s to Momma

Here’s to Momma,

Who said no,

To letting a man who didn’t love,

her anymore stay in her bed.

Here’s to the Momma,

Who said no to moving,

going back home,

And kept her kids in their house,

worked two jobs to do it.

Here’s to the Momma,

Who came home when her daughter,

scared herself silly.

Here’s to the Momma,

Who gave up the house,

When to the streets to give her son,

a chance to play some ball,

He went college and forged a life for himself.

Here’s to Momma,

Who flew a thousand miles

When her little girl’s heart and mind

broke.

A mother’s love picked up the pieces

But, couldn’t put her back together,

again.

She knew her child would have to do that

and she did.

Here’s to Momma,

Who keeps on going,

Through heartbreak and cancer,

beating both down more than once.

Here’s to Momma,

Who keeps on loving,

and being herself.

Tired, But Still in the Game.

I am tired. Tired to the bone with all the words that are thrown against me like I’m the wall in a racquetball court and its my job to take it. My life my destiny to take society’s beatings and be fine with it.

The mental wear and tear of this life is too much at times and I want to give up.  Sometimes I do.

Then the morning comes and I am out the door with Luke pounding the pavement before heading off to school or my second job.  I am joyful when I see myself in the mirror. I look beautiful, professional, ready to handle life in the court again.

Walking out the door, I see the empty space where my pink bike used to reside and my heart sinks.  Someone stole the worn down bike that helped me continue my physical therapy.  They skipped over five or six nicer bikes in the neighborhood to take mine; making the thief seem personal.

My now stolen bike
My now stolen bike

There is a dent in my new car where in a rush I backed out and hit a red land yacht illegally parked and trash in the floor boards which I have been too tired at night to clean up.  Physically, I am fine.  I walk more than a mile everyday, but mentally I wonder what is the point.

My students fight my efforts to help them, parents dodge my calls and when payday comes my efforts are not enough to pay the bills. I work and work and there is nothing at the end of the day to save or stash away. 

But, I get up and do it again and again.  I plot and scheme to break free of  an existence as a wall and find something everyday to smile about it.  Like waking up in the middle of the night to find myself surrounded my beloved furry children; unable to move due to their sleeping bodies.  My best friend making me watch Sex in the City and promising that after each episode it is going to get better.  (It did) Or a message from an old friend asking if I was free to see him over the weekend. 

Dennis Lehand - author and Bostonion
Dennis Lehand – author and Bostonion

It is listening to NPR and hearing an interview with Dennis Lehane about his op-ed piece in the New York Times entitled “Messing with the Wrong City“. It was a reminder that we are more than the negative things that happen to us. A reminder that there is good left in America. We are not a nation dying as Rush Limbaugh proclaimed on his show on Friday, we are a nation that is surviving and thriving.

Love  not Hate or Blame
Love not Hate or Blame

Bostonians showed us the way as did the marathon runners who ran towards danger to help others or ran to the hospitals to give blood.  They didn’t look to blame someone. They took care of the injured and waited to find out who was responsible.

As a city, they have decided not to let this event change them.  Not to let someone else’s hate and madness keep them from being themselves.  Marathons around the country have seen a surge of runners signing up as well as volunteers offering to help. 

I am I still tired, yes, but my spirit has been renewed.  Thanks to the words and actions of my fellow Americans such as George Takei in his blog.  I have to believe that there is hope and a better way to live for all of us. One that doesn’t involve hate or discrimination. One that moves forward.

George Takei - Actor, Screenwriter and Inspiration
George Takei – Actor, Screenwriter and Inspiration

When I started this post, I was dwelling on all of things weighing me down.  All of the things I forgot for a moment to look around me with gratitude and love.  I had taken on the idea that I needed to be perfect.  I don’t and neither does my country.

Folk

I come from mountain Folks

Hillbilly trash you might say

Who bore winters colder than your stare

Built lives on mountain sides

In cracks and crevices worked the land

Bringing life from stone

Whose bodies may have broken

But their spirits never died

So they got up again

And again

Three times grandma’s back broke

And thrice up she got and walked

Right out the door

Back to the mountain

Her mountain,

Where she sleeps next to her children

In Mother Mary’s Grotto

Until Judgment Day or man forgets

I am her blood

And she is mine

I will not break

Least not for long.

And when my time has come,

There on the mountain I will sleep

Until judgment day or man forgets

*Folks is the last name of my Great-grandmother.

Flying Free

They thought your trips and stumbles were the sign,

the end was near, and whispered as you walked

that the angel of Death had given you a fright.

No one saw how the angels held your arm and let you stand,

Walking straight and true with dignity and grace.

Or how they whisper that everyone would be ok,

Your strength and courage a final and forever gift,

Your little angel now grown can fly on her own,

No need to tend the nest, others will do that now,

Just be at peace.

You are among the ancestors, now.

Book Review: All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome

all-cats-have-asperger-syndromeBook: All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome

Author: Kathy Hoopmann

Available: Barnes & Noble, Amazon ($10.95 – $14.95)

Rarely do I venture into bookstore or any major retail store during the holidays unless it Target, but this year I went in search a present for a very special two month old girl.  Truthfully, I had spotted it weeks ago, but I wanted my Momma’s opinion on it.  We were attempting to make our way out of the store when we spot Kathy Hoopmann’s book, “All Cats have Asperger Syndrome”.  We both stopped in our tracks.Love

All Cats have Asperger Syndrome is a beautiful book that elegantly illustrates aspects of Asperger Syndrome that are often hard for adults to define. For families trying to explain what Asperger Syndrome is to others including their children while still working to understand it themselves this book is heaven sent.  Each page of the book has a brief insight into what an Aspie is experiencing and feeling.  It does not attempt to explain the causes or go into detail about the effects of the syndrome.

Sure, he may need a little help following fashionable trends, but don’t forget, everyone is different in his own way and there is a little bit of Asperger is us all.

This book to me is beauty in simplicity.

allcats1Australian born Hoopmann lives in Dubi with her family where she continues to write.  Learn more about this author on her website.

Big Bird

The Bird is the Word

Big Bird
Big Bird Speaks Out!!

I stand with Big Bird.. Don’t use my name in your political game.   Seriously, don’t.

As funny as the memes are that poke funny at Romney’s debate graft in which he said that he was going to cut funding to PBS, I think it is wrong for either campaign to use Sesame Street characters in attack ads.(Romney did it as well, folks.)

There is also no need for the campaigns to spend the money on creating ads including these characters when the internet is full of meme generators.  Spend your money elsewhere and don’t politicize a beloved icon of childhood.

I think if Big Bird were to speak out he would tell both sides that they need to work on getting along and telling the truth. The only way to really fix the country is for everyone to work together and find solutions that work for everyone.  Not just a select few.

He would also probably say that there are some things in life that are priceless and help everyone like public parks and educational shows. Yes, they cost money, but they do so much good and are an essential part of who were are as Americans.

I am a child who grew up watching Reading Rainbow, Mister Rogers, Captain Kangaroo and Sesame Street.  Three of those shows I watched on my local PBS stations.  They helped instill a love of reading, fairness and curiosity in my young mind.  They taught me values that other children’s program could or would not. No offense G.I. Joe or Thundercats.

Yes, our country is in trouble but we shouldn’t thought Big Bird out with the nest of excess government spending.  Somethings are worth preserving.  PBS and NPR are among them.  Just my humble, Big Bird loving opinion.

Sincerely,

Lu

P.S.  Floridians, today is the last day to register to vote. You still have time to do it online.  Just click this link.

Taking a Bite Out of History

Review of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Sure, they know the old Honest Abe myth, however, this new incarnation of the Lincoln myth let’s them see deeper into the real man. Knowing more about and getting to know the real man, one gains a better appreciation for his achievements, both personal and political; makes him relevant.

The author does take some liberties with history (beyond the addition of vampires)  which are completely forgivable.  For the curious, I suggest reading a little more about Mrs. Lincoln’s behavior while in the White House. Or watching some the documentaries available on Netflix.

The desire to give this book to my students is overwhelming. And before you ask, yes, I am serious. There is already a waiting list for Grahame-Smith’s other book: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Place this book in front of students and they will eat it up, literally.  The student who is currently reading PP&Z pulls the book out anytime she perceives a lull in class.  (Please not the word perceives in the last sentence.)This book like Grahame-Smith’s other books takes the traditional and transforms it for a new generations.  Lincoln’s life which has always appealed to lovers of history now catches the eye of supernatural enthusiasts.

In case, you didn’t know Lincoln, like all of us had issues, big ones and still made his life something great. He didn’t hold a continuous pity party for himself given the losses he suffered. There is a lesson in there about not making your issues into excuses.

Furthermore, the multidimensional geek inside of me was tickled purple while reading.  Historical fiction can get a little caught up in details to the detriment of good story telling, but an alternative history like this takes the past and makes it a little naughty.

It is that naughtiness (of the wholesome vampire hunting variety) draws the readers in and keeps them engaged through the novel.  It is presented as a serious history drawn from Lincoln’s own diaries. The combination of narrative, historical fact and primary sources (in the form of the diary) makes the whole book plausible as well as that key word in education, engaging.

This story wraps itself around the reader and presents both fact and fiction in a way that invites the reader to drink up both with an insatiable appetite. I picked my copy up at a used bookstore, but you can find it on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle incarnations. Course, there is nothing wrong with searching a few used bookstores for it.  You never know what you might find.

Day Four of Gratitude: Books

Heaven for me at times is being surrounded by books.  The knowledge contained in them is not power, but empowerment.

In school, I was never popular; always too shy to be out there making friends and memories. The most daring thing I did in those days was go into D.C. one night.  There was a group and I felt lucky to be included. Some that know me to day, might think I was actually the ringleader. No, I was the weird, but kind of cute girl in high school. You probably remember me.. I sat at the back of the class writing or drawing.  Answering the teacher’s questions without much of a problem. Or so it seemed to you.

It was the books.. the books did it. It was how I knew things that they didn’t, well that and I actually listen to what the teachers were saying.

Growing up, many people would say that I had more than my fair share of bull hockey to deal with and maybe they are right, but early in life I found a place where I was safe; as cliche it sounds I found my haven in the pages of books. In elementary school, they had a readathon. I read every book I could on our families bookcase. My mother took my word on every book until the fourth book in one night; then the questioning began.  Proudly, the answers came and an avid reader was born.

It was my first bit of academic success and another way I took after my mother.  She has always had a book in her hand and within a couple years I would, too.

Books have been my comfort food since my mother and I lost our home in 1991; that was the year that I went to live with my father and step-mother. I don’t remember how  many books I read in those years, but I remember reading constantly.  My father doesn’t read anything longer than a newspaper article and was desperate at times to get me to look else where; to no avail.  I always asked for books or gift certificates to book stories. I didn’t want him to take me clothes shopping just to the bookstore.

When my father decided to take me out of school for a family skiing trip, I dreamed of sitting in the lodge drinking hot coco by the fire with book.  My father decided instead that I needed to get out and learn to ski.  I spent one day in ski lessons.  I learned to walk up the slope and to ski down by going from tree to tree.  I was quite proud of that last bit.  Dad was not.  The ski lessons ended that day. Dad’s attempts to dissuade my bibliophile tendencies all failed.

Surrounding myself with books always brought me peace.  Books were never disappointed in me. I could always find one that would take me away from the world, even if only for a few hours.  It is no wonder that my first job in college was in the library on campus.  Six floors and over a million books.

It was my love of books that led me to England and my one and only archeology dig.  Books with their infinite worlds and knowledge led to where I am today.  An English teacher and writer.

I am grateful for all those who have taken the time to bring words to life.

Dear Momma

Dear Momma,

It may seem strange to write a  blog post to you, but I think that after everything we have been through it is time to say some things in a more public way.  You are mother, but more than that you are my friend. You encourage me and show me what it is like to be courageous.

You sacrificed when I was a child so that I wouldn’t think badly of my father.  A man who lied and left his family with barely enough to survive.  Never did I hear you say a negative about him. You kept your silence and let me make my own decisions.

Friday, you sat down in front of twelve of my journalism students to answer questions about your cancer treatments.  Some of your answers surprised me and then I realized that even through I was there through much of your treatments; we never stopped to talk out it.  You thanked me again and again for being there for you, but I never thanked you f0r letting me be there.  You could have shut me out to protect me, but you knew what that felt like when someone made the decision for you. Decided what you could handle and could not handle.

Thank you for letting me there while you fought for your life and for our family.  I remember so many things about those days, but hearing you speak I realize how much of your battle you shielded me from.  As a  mother, I am sure it was natural.  But more than that, you didn’t give up when the cancer came back. You fought.

And you taught me that being a women is more powerful than I ever imagined. Our strength is not always silent, but it is always shown though our actions.

Love,

Lucinda