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Showing posts with label memories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label memories. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I'm the Host for This Post! PAST LIVES

If karma is real, I must have done something dreadful in my past life. Perhaps all of us teachers burned multiple villages and our students were the victims of that wrath. They take pleasure in helping us atone for those heinous crimes. Why else would we step into a classroom?

That might have been my first incarnation, but it wasn't my most recent one. To quote Steve Martin, "I was born a poor black child." Seriously, I looked something like Aunt Jemima as I watched the white folks dance with a fiddle around a campfire. I longed to join the fun but looking at my fat, black thighs, I knew no slave could dance with whites.

I saw this image under hypnosis at a college event at the AEPi house. The fraternity hired a hypnotist for an evening's entertainment. As we sat in a circle, we closed our eyes, traveled back to a previous life, and voila––the slave watching the party.

Each fraternity brother and little sister told a unique tale of guarding castle walls or enjoying picnics with a family. My friend frantically recalled a room filled with people screaming as fog entered vents. The hypnotist immediately snapped him out of his trance.

One may argue that a brief vision of myself as a slave does not mean I was one; however, this image makes a lot of sense. Every t-shirt I own has a stretched out neckline from my compulsion to loosen anything tight around my neck. I've never been able to wear turtlenecks and seeing choker necklaces makes me ill to the point that I once got dizzy from looking at one. I always wear my long sleeves rolled because I despise anything tight around my wrists, too. Even my watch dangles loosely from my arm. Did I once endure tight ropes around my wrists while being led to my hanging?

I also find a natural chemistry between African Americans and myself. No doubt about it, I was a slave.

Before I suffered in the fields under the lash, a family friend, who has been helpful to us over the years, claims to have been Queen Isabella of Spain after a visit with a hypnotist. She has since apologized for her cruel actions toward Jews. I guess karma strikes again.

Furthermore, when my daughter was two, she told me she missed her other mother. I said, "I'm the only mother you've ever had." She insisted she remembered another mother with yellow hair who wore a doctor's outfit. Who knows? Maybe Erica really did remember another mother.
I've found a few interesting reads on the topic of reincarnation. Dr. Brian Weiss was skeptical until he met a patient recalling her past life traumas. He went on to write multiple books on the subject, which I absorbed like a sponge. A few years back, I read a fascinating work of fiction by Ann Brashares called My Name is Memory about a man who remembered all of his past lives and worked through multiple lifetimes trying to make the same woman fall in love with him. This book kept me up all night but after three years, I've yet to see the second book of the trilogy.

Now it's your turn. Since I'm the host of this post, link up after midnight. What do you think about past lives?


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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Writer's Post: Ghosts of Halloweens Past

Once upon a Halloween, I was a kid who didn't need parents to escort me from door to door, nor did I wear expensive store-bought costumes. After someone brought me a poncho from Mexico, I was a Mexican Hat Dancer for three years. Of course being a hat dancer meant planning a routine because someone would always ask me for a trick. 

Get it? "Trick or Treat." In the St. Louis of the 1960s that expression meant exactly what it said. Kids rang the doorbell, said "Trick or Treat," and gave the homeowner a choice: Give candy immediately or ask for a trick. As a Mexican Hat Dancer, I did a dance. In other years, I wandered the neighborhood with a joke to tell. 

When I mention this tradition around Memphis, people look at me cross-eyed. That's not the only Halloween culture clash from moving 300 miles south. The first time my husband left to take our son trick-or-treating, he came home and asked, "Did you give out a candy?"
My kids: Halloween 1995


I said, "Sure. I gave out lots of candy. One to this kid, another to that."

He said, "But did you give out a candy?"

I hadn't a clue that he was trying to find out whether or not we had candy left. Go figure. We've yet to give out a candy, except for the year that the neighbors threw a huge party with gazillion kids, but didn't tell anyone they were coming.

Another Halloween memory of mine was Mrs. Zimmerman's Donuts. Every year, David's mom made homemade donuts that she'd give to all the children. I never ate one. 

Kids can be quite literal, and that I was when Mom always said, "Never eat anything unwrapped." So year after year I'd skip those sweet smelling snacks that all the kids would go out of their way for. If I could go back in time, I'd eat one of her donuts on Halloween; but, it's not all bad. The memory of skipping donuts inspired my latest novel. I wonder if this manuscript would even exist if I'd eaten a donut. I also wonder if her son, who grew up to be a chef, bakes these donuts on Halloween. If he does, I just might have to go to St. Louis and ring his bell.



Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Still Have It - A Scap of Toilet Paper

Do you have any worthless possessions? These are the items that have no value but mean something to you. As the title suggests, I have tucked away a plain scrap of toilet paper in one of my books. I'm sure you're asking what any logical person would ask: Why haven't you flushed it? Anyone who went to sleep-away camp as a kid, would understand this oddity.

Back in the days of no gray hair and a skinny life-filled body, I spent my summers at a camp in Zionsville, Indiana. Today they call it Gucci but in my days, it was UCI. This is a Jewish camp with month long sessions filled with fun and sports. We lived in packed cabins with a group of girls that we grew extremely close too. We also got to know the boys quite well when we'd flirt with them during our day activities.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. For me, that was camp. The last night of camp, everyone stayed up all night crying and hugging because we didn't want to go back to our awful and abusive homes. Not really, but one would think that the way we boo hooed. Anyway, that last night of camp, I wailed with everyone else while carrying around my diminishing roll of toilet paper.

One of my friends grabbed my toilet paper and scribbled a message on it: Cheer up. We all love you. Simple, plain, to the point; and yes, I still have it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ms. Kirk & Other Old Teachers #AtoZ

Gum Chewers Beware!
It's amazing and even frightening how little events from my school days have become ingrained in my memories. I'm referring to my middle school librarian who would go on a rampage to seek out those bad boy gum chewers in the library. Yes, they were a naughty crew. Ms. Lizzie Kirk, who stood eye level to us, would make sniffing sounds around the tables before announcing, "Aaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiii smmmmmmell Juicy Fruit!" Some thirty-five years later, I can still laugh at her sing song shout, and be glad I wasn't chomping the sticky substance.

Or perhaps I'm forever taunted by the memory of my fourth grade teacher sliding one penny-loafer-covered foot up and down her leg as she glared at students heading into class. She reminded me of a bull preparing to charge, and attack she did if anyone stepped out of line. I did my best to behave; but still, she hated me. My next door neighbor swore the woman was an antisemitic person. I doubt it. The person part that is. I think I saw her photo on the screen of the Men In Black Headquarters.

Heavy Evie, Miss Bull Charger's girlfriend and my horrid sixth grade teacher, gave me nightmares for years. She'd often rattle the windows of the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classrooms whenever she'd burst into her screaming fits. She yelled at Ruthie and insisted that her name was "Ruth" and put Paul in a refrigerator box. I'd be fired if I did half of what she got away with, but times were different. In my days, people didn't question teachers and kids getting in trouble at school meant more problems for them at home.

Despite the few toads, not all my teacher memories are negative. I thoroughly loved Miss Silberg, my middle school French teacher. She had a fun personality and was always sure to give us a laugh in class. Although she was one of my favorite teachers, I inadvertently gave the poor woman heart failure. Tune in tomorrow, and I'll tell you all about it in my L post.

Skipping ahead, I loved Walter Johnson, who taught Econ 51 at the University of Missouri. He kept us laughing whether it was by throwing chalk at a sleeping student or stripping on stage. Fun and goofy, those are the teachers I loved.

Which brings me to the question of what, if any, life long memories have I given to my students? I'll never forget the eighth grader who told me how she was heartbroken for not getting a sticker one day when she was in the first grade. I couldn't remember what she had done not to earn it and felt horrible in knowing this memory still plagued her. So I gave the teen a sticker and prayed she could move on. I hope my students' memories are good. Maybe I gave them a laugh or made them cry. Like my teachers of the past, I will probably never know what lasting impressions I've left on them. I can only hope they are positive.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mom Taught Me How to Laugh


Honeymoon, 1949
On March 27, 2002, I accompanied my son to Italy for a soccer tournament. In the middle of the night, an odd alarm that we hadn't set woke us up with a single beep. I call it a good bye because early the next morning, our phone rang to tell us that my mother had unexpectedly died late that past night. Although she'd been sick, she was getting better, and no one expected a heart attack to steal my beautiful and witty mother away from this world after only 75 years of life. So, in memory of my mother, I dedicate today's post to her because her sense of humor helped to make me who I am today.

During my grade school years, my mother would often become frazzled by her "friend" Five by Five, as Mom called her. Mrs. Five by Five, five feet tall and five feet wide, had a homely daughter who she swore looked just like me. My mother's mama claws would flare as she'd spit out how I was so much prettier than the daughter of five by five.
Mama Claws

I must not have been too terribly ugly because a few years after that a carload of boys stopped next to us and cat called from my passenger side window. At least I think they were hooting at me, but maybe not. For my mother hoisted her left hand into the air and yelled, "I'm married!"

"Darn it!" The boys promptly said.
  
Florence Paull
 Mom didn't lose her humor with age, nor did she lose her ability to spit out anyone's birthday after hearing it once. In her wheelchair, she sat in the middle of the dance floor at my daughter's Bat Mitzvah party. Goofy neon necklaces covered her head and neck but she didn't bother to remove them like most elderly people would have done. Yeah, that was Mom. She was also the lady who taught my kids how to shoot straws out of paper so they could misbehave in restaurants.

I miss you, Mom, even though I sometimes sense you telling me to be careful not to trip over broken sidewalks or other messages straight from you. Are you still here or was that one bleep of the alarm your final salute? None the less, today is the anniversary of your death, so here's to you. Did you know my mom? If so, what do you remember about her?

Monday, March 21, 2011

RIP: Apple Blossom


I once was the proud owner of a Liddle Kiddle doll named Apple Blossom. Her flower-covered green hair flowed over her two inch body as she populated the stores sometime around 1967--which means I must have been negative fifteen years old when I got my treasure. Not only was Apple the most beautiful doll I ever owned, but also, when locked inside her container, she carried a fresh perfume scent that stuck around well into my adulthood.

So at age -15, I made a decision. Apple Blossom was too special to be just any doll. I kept her perched in her bottle on top of my dresser. Sure, I played with her. She was the captured princess who couldn't escape her cage. Every so often, I'd open her, take a whiff, stroke her soft hair, and wrap her back in plastic. But I was sure to keep her in mint condition because I knew one day I'd have a daughter and I'd give her this special doll.

The years flew by and sure enough I became a mom. My daughter bubbled when I gave her that amazing doll. Then on that very same day, she lost it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Teacher's Unions

When I was a little girl, a teamster broke my uncle's leg and caused him to carry a cane for the rest of his life. Note I said, "Carry a cane," since he rarely leaned on it as he'd race through the family furniture store. See Uncle Melvin was in business with my father, and he made the mistake of crossing a picket line. As a result, I grew up surrounded with tales about how horrible unions were and how much trouble they caused.

As a child hearing about the cursed unions, it never dawned on me to ask, "Why were they picketing?" or "What did they want?" These were adult type issues that weren't discussed with kids. Of course I have no doubt that these men were not "nice" people. After all, the picketer attacked a business owner, but I'd like to hear his side of the story. Today all the players are gone, and I'm suddenly left to wonder what exactly happened. Especially when I find myself in a union that is being unfairly targeted by politicians out for pay back.

Tennessee Education Association (TEA) has consistently funded those who support our concerns, mostly Democrats but not all. Now that Tennessee has been taken over by the Republican party, congressmen are out to destroy teachers with highly punitive measures.

For example:

House Bill 130/Senate Bill 113 would repeal the Education Professional Negotiations Act and make any bargaining by teachers in the state illegal.

House Bill 159/Senate Bill 136
would prohibit payroll dues deduction for public employees thereby making it more difficult for teachers to maintain membership in their chosen professional organization.

Senate Bill 102
would prevent the election of the teacher representatives on the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System Board of Trustees and instead make them political appointments by the Speakers of the House and Senate. I think this bill has already passed. :(

House Bill 160/Senate Bill 139 would make it illegal for the Association's political action committee to make contributions to any candidate, thus prohibiting teachers from helping to elect/re-elect legislators who have worked to improve and protect public education.

This is just a sampling of the bills floating through Nashville; there are more. As someone with an anti-union upbringing, I'm finally seeing the other side of the coin and wondering what caused the Teamsters to picket. I plan to march too.

I promise I'm not going to break a congressman's leg, but I will wear red and head to Nashville come March 5th to rally the capital. We'll be meeting at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and marching at noon. If you are able, please join us. We will be less violent than the Teamsters of the 1960s, but we will not stand quietly.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Challenger Explosion

Twenty-five years ago the world mourned the loss of seven bright explorers who boarded the Challenger. We watched Christa McAliffe prepare to be the first to teach a lesson from space and even envied her for being the one chosen. Folks tuned in to cheer Christa along with her shipmates Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, and Gregory Jarvis as they waved to the cameras and headed toward the shuttle. This moment-we'd all waited for-morphed into the moment we'd all dread when the ship exploded in front of crowds of people and television cameras.

Today's news reporters have asked us to remember what we were doing when we learned of this disaster. It's not tough for anyone who lived through this news story. The memory took root in my mind twenty-five years ago and is still as vivid as ever.

My husband and I were in an airport returning home after a visit to my sister's house. As we stepped off our plane, the airport buzzed with stories from travelers deplaning one gate over. They'd witnessed the Challenger explosion first hand when the pilot came over the intercom and told everyone to look out the window to see the Challenger taking off. The passengers watched in horror as the O ring separated causing the shuttle to burst into flames. The pilot did not speak to his passengers again.