Don’t Quit(unknown author)
When things go wrong as they sometimes will;
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill;
When the funds are low, and the debts are high;
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh;
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Success is failure turned inside out;
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;
And you can never tell how close you are;
It may be near when it seems afar.
So, stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit -
It’s when things go wrong that you mustn’t quit.
The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can’t help it. Leo Rosten
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.”
(Hebrews 10:25 English Standard Version)
“No dejando de congregarnos,como algunos tienen por costumbre,sino exhortándonos unos a otros y mucho más al ver que el día se al cerca."(Hebreos 10:25 La Biblia del las Américas)
This verse emphasizes for believers in Christ the importance of meeting together regularly. And your local church is typically where this “meeting” will occur. So, for a Christian, choosing a local “church home” should be an important and serious decision. More important even than your choice of a home, or vehicle, or where to send your kids to college. However, we cannot approach our search for a church home without having guidelines by which we are to make our choice.
Do you choose your church just as you would choose what movie to see or what new book you should purchase? Or perhaps, you choose it by a number of factors such as; atmosphere, friendly people, music style, the level you enjoy or regard the staff, and of course, a good service? You know, that sounds disturbingly too much like how we would chose which restaurant we want to frequent. Honestly now, doesn’t it? And doesn’t that sound like how the majority of us have begun to approach this issue?
May I be so bold as to suggest that this “consumerism” type of shopping for a church is in fact –dare I say it- unbiblical? Choosing a church based on how awesome the music , how entertaining the pastor, or how friendly the “fellowship” is –now, get your steel-toed boots on and hang on so I don’t step on anyone toes- it is merely choosing your “entertainment.” May I propose that your church should be chosen with the prayerful forethought: Where and how does God want me to serve in the body?
The “church” is not a building or a place! In addition, just as many have heard before, ‘Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than going to McDonalds make you a hamburger.’
I’d like to take it one step further, however. ‘Sitting in the air conditioned car that’s parked in your garage and listening to some good music or reading a good book, doesn’t make you a driver anymore than attending a church that entertains and makes you feel good, determines that you are an effective member of the body of Christ.’
And, as followers of Christ, that is exactly what we are! In fact, throughout the New Testament, we are told that the “church” is the body of Christ.
""For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free…Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27 ESV)
“Ahora bien, vosotros sois el cuerpo de Cristo, y cada uno individualmente un miembro de él.”
(1 Corintios 12:27 LBLA)
Now that is “church.” The “church” is the body of Christ! Thinking along those lines, ponder that a body is a living organism. And just as our physical bodies are made up of different parts such as; hands, legs, ears, eyes, and little toe. So is the body of Christ made up of different parts; made up of all those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
Therefore, it is muy importante that we do not allow ourselves to be caught up in this world, this society of consumerism in which we are obliged to live in for the moment. I say moment because as believers we know that this is not our “home.”
But our citizenship is in heaven…” (Philippians 3:20 ESV)
“Porque nuestra ciudadanía está en los cielos” ( Filipenses :20 LBLA)
Choosing a church home for the reasons given in the first paragraph is making yourself comfortable and at “home” here. It is basing your choice on what you determine you can get out of it,. This is, at its root, self-centered consumerism at its finest. In light of this, as we seek a church home the foundation for our choice must first and foremost be to fill the place in the body that God has planned for each of before we were even born.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)
“Porque somos hechura suya, creados en Cristo Jesús para hacer buenas obras, las cuales Dios preparó de antemano para que anduviéramos en ellas.” ( Efesios 2:10, LBLA)
This article is not written by a person that believes she has “arrived,” but simply written in love to facilitate and encourage growth for brothers and sisters in Christ ; whom whether they realize it or not, are part of a bigger picture, part of the body of Christ.
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Philippians 3:12 ESV)
“No que ya lo haya alcanzado o que ya haya llegado a ser perfecto, sino que sigo adelante, a fin de poder alcanzar aquello para lo cual también fui alcanzado por Cristo Jesús.” ( Filipenses 3:12 LBLA)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~* Click on the accompanying link for information on what to look for when seeking a church home: http://tinyurl.com/choosingchurch.
This is a book that will not only “crack-you-up” but as the mother of seven children myself, I found myself nodding in agreement in between my Laugh- Out-Loud snorting and giggling. ( Yes, I tend to snort when I laugh. For more on that read my Freelance article for BlueSuitMom Magazine http://www.bluesuitmom.com/family/parenting/slang.html
)Please check out this highly entertaining book by Kathleen Elizabeth at:
http://authonomy.com/books/43903/if-children-are-cheaper-by-the-dozen-can-i-get-a-discount-on-six-/Need a laugh that brings sunshine and chases those storm clouds away? Open the cover of this book and start smiling!
And you thought your family was funny! Try being caught in an elevator with policeman afraid you’re about to deliver, riding in a vehicle with a dog who had rolled to his delight in another dog’s excrement, mistaking hemorrhoids for a baby in the delivery room, blow-drying a half naked toddler’s pants in the Smithsonian. In her quirky, lighthearted memoir, Elizabeth Kathleen shares the mayhem and fun of mothering a busy household. From clothing mishaps to outlandish pets, this family has seen it all. Things as simple as washing a dog turn into a comedy event when there are a dozen extra hands in the mix. Follow the fun-filled account of raising six children born within seven years! Shiloh, Abigail, Josiah, Elijah and twins Isaiah and Loru with their mom, Elizabeth Kathleen and guard dog, Mr. Fuzzy, will keep you entertained with their everday antics and leave you asking, If Children Are Cheaper by the Dozen, Can I Get a Discount on Six?
Review: (This) work could also be called The Perils of Motherhood, Driving a Van and Dog Ownership. I certainly got comedic relef in(the) protagonist’s embarassing moments although I sympathized with her and cheered her through her travails.
(The) prose is straightforward with a conversational style easy to follow and appreciate, (the) dialogue quirky and outlandish. Thank you so much for the entertaining read!~Kenneth Edward Lim, The North Korean
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Please check it out and share your thoughts! Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.Margaret Lee Runbeck
"Ceiling" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
"A Bridge Under Water” by TomBissell
As I was reading “Ceiling” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie I found it thoroughly absorbing and very compelling. The reading propelled me all the way through without stop and then left me pondering its implications. I also found myself comparing and contrasting it with another story I read last semester with a similar bend to it involving the MC’s dissatisfaction with his marriage. In that work however, the MC comes across as self-consumed and egotistical, with no concept of reality. Because of this the reader doesn’t identify with him but mocks him. In contrast, Ceiling finds you in many ways relating with the characters.
The theme of “what-if,” in life and in literature, is not at all new. This is because it is something that almost every person has experienced at one time or another.
"In life, every crossroad, every choice, opens the door to a life shadowed with the thought of “what-if”; and with “what-if” dogging your steps like a tired pack mule, does anyone really get a “what-if-free” happy ending?” (Come What May, Laura A. Diaz, 2009)
And so, throughout the reading I wondered if our MC would get his happy ending or not. Or, are “happy endings” more determined by frame of mind and attitude toward life in general? What would be an ideal closing for this short story (since in short stories we rarely get ‘ideal’ closure)?
A couple of lines that I found most interesting were near the end at the party when the narrator tells us, “But the tentative fear in her eyes silenced him. Her insecurity was so great and so ordinary” (pg.12).
What is at the heart of Obinze’s discontent? Maybe a clue is on pg. 9 when we read in regards to an unsent email, “She was the only person who would understand, yet he was afraid that she would feel contempt for the person he had become.”
With no real closure to this past relationship, she becomes idealized in his mind. A part of who he was. Perhaps, who he truly misses is himself; but since this woman was such an intricate part of that self she is wrapped up in this melancholy reminiscing because she reminds him of that “self” he used to be. Perhaps this is what is causing the tension in his marriage.
“A Bridge Under Water” by Tom Bissell
Our second story, A bridge under water, was equally fascinating for me. And it wasn’t until I read it through that I began pondering the title. Titles, for some odd reason, interest me. The first random thought was that the title reminded me of Paul Simon’s song, “A bridge over trouble water.” In that reference, “troubled water” is symbolic of the troubles that we have in life. “The bridge” represents how we overcome these troubles. So, that said, I found it very interesting that our bridge is under water!
If the bridge is under the water is that foreshadowing that the newlyweds aren’t going to get over their “troubled waters?”
In that sense, you have to ask what exactly those “trouble waters” are then. In this story the narrative gives me the feeling that the two really do not have a healthy mutual respect of one another.
For example, the man has his wife going with him to all these “Christian” buildings and such when he knows she doesn’t like it. Selfish behavior. When she expresses this dislike again (the narrative implies that this subject has been raised before) he says, “Because I think this discomfort of yours is ridiculous” (pg.38). The statement comes off as very rude and uncaring. This is very odd given the fact they are newlyweds. It is also very odd given the fact that he is a professed atheist?! Is he doing it only to punish her? And if that is so, to punish her for what? For getting pregnant so that he felt he needed to marry her?
There seems to be SO much symbolism and detail packed tight into this very short story. For example, the creative way the author reveals to us the differing, at-odds personalities of our characters by giving us a vivid picture of the way they eat! From the fast, messy way he eats, to the slow, precise way the woman eats in the opening scene, “ She has plunged her fork exactly ten times into her strawberry risotto and taken two birdfeeder sips from the glass…”(pg.32)
The ending was more depressing for me that the first story mentioned. And the word choice by the author facilitated just that:
“-and she knew this, this sound, this sound of different hopes collapsing, of separate divinities forming, of exclusion, of closed doors, of one story’s end.”
The wording is fantastic and very symbolic. Of course, I suppose it could be said that “one story’s end” (the end of each of their individual hopes and dreams for life) could be the beginning of a new one. The beginning of their new life as a married couple. In that sense, perhaps there is still hope for them. For me, it is that “unknown” aspect that makes a great short story though; because it is what keeps the story in the readers mind and has them contemplating how it relates to their own life.
The Best of American Short Stories 2011
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Boston. New York 2011
One rare and lazy Saturday afternoon, I parked myself at my local Barnes and Nobles/Starbucks, and happened to hear from a nearby table, “Chill! It’s all good, Ellie!”And then the reply, “You do know that as agrandmother you shouldn’t talk like that?”
The grandmother replied, “I was saying ‘cool’, ‘awesome’, and ‘chill’ before you were even born, girlie.”
Yes, the grandmother! Now if you think the grandmother’s use of slang had me gritting my teeth and calling Grammar Girl, you’d be wrong. Although the grandmother was much older than me (so I’d like to think), I felt a sense of kinship. You see, I have been guilty of peppering my casual conversations with “cool,” “awesome,” and yes, the ever-annoying “dude.”
However, this unintended eavesdropping did mark the beginning of some serious introspection for me. I began to consider that when those first few lines around our eyes begin to appear in the mirror, if our use of the slang from our youth should begin to disappear?
Chances are that even the most hardened ambassadors for the proper use of the English language would find that they unknowingly use slang in their everyday speech. For instance, if you refer to someone as being an “ace” at something, that’s slang! If you say “O.K.,” that’s slang! Okay, so maybe that’s not as bad as “awesome” or “dude,” right?
Not right! Emma Thompson would disagree. The 51-year-old Oscar winner told the Radio Times in September 2010 that people who used slang when they spoke drove her “insane.” She added, "Just don't do it. Because it makes you sound stupid.”
Elena Neitlich, an international etiquette expert who has trained etiquette trainers in over 30 countries and is owner of “Etiquette Moms” by Moms on Edge, says that although she agrees with Thompson to a point, she views the teen use of slang as “harmless.”
However, regarding adult use of slang, Neitlich says, “I believe that by the time we reach adulthood, our days of exploiting the slang lexicon are over. Slang use by adults is ‘ginormously’ sophomoric.”
Is “ginormously” slang? Or “sophomoric”? I’m so confused!
Concerning slang use in general, “Etiquette Moms” list a few simple rules:
Teens agree with Moms on Edge about the adult use of teen slang. In fact, there is a Facebook page, “Adults shouldn’t use teen slang,” dedicated to protesting this heinous crime. The page Officers, listed only as Debra’s Doodle, Vernacular Vigilante, and Jessica Wallace, Jessican of Jargon, say on the page description, “Adults out there get your hands off our vernacular!” They go on to clarify this statement by saying, “Don’t worry if you’re in your early to mid twenties…BUT OLDER ADULTS THERE, we are watching you!”In fact, in 2008, they claimed August 20th as “International Correct an Adult Using Slang Day.” Wow! Sounds harsh, dude! I think I’ll stay home on that day.
- Never use your kids’ slang.
- Kids can use slang with each other but never with an adult.
- Abstain completely from sexual slang; it’s offensive.
Is there anyone out there who thinks adults SHOULD speak slang with their teens? I don’t think so; but there are those who say parents need to know WHAT their teens are saying in order to understand them.
Joining this movement is “Middle Earth,” a non-profit, community-based organization in Somerset, California. Their March 2010 article, “Teen Slang and Acronyms,” provides a list of common teen slang and encourages parents: “Although sometimes it feels easier to live in the dark rather than try to understand teenspeak,” parents shouldn’t give up.
In an article in The Independent, “Teenspeak is not for adults,” Martha Robinson writes that adults should steer clear of teen vernacular. She says, “You don’t need to speak like a teenager to speak to one, but you’d better respect them enough to talk to them like a grown-up.”
I am in agreement with many of the points Robinson and the “Etiquette Moms” make. However, is it really so wrong to occasionally use teen slang from our own era?
I am the mother of three teenage boys, two teenage girls, and a “tween,” 12-year-old girl. Since I have my finger so firmly placed on the pulse of teen angst, I decided to interview the “real” experts.
My sons, unanimously, with all of the enthusiasm a teen of the male persuasion can give, each mumbled a variation of, “I don’t care. You got anything to eat?”
My daughters shed a more illuminating light on this perplexing puzzle, especially my 17-year-old, who told me that she didn’t mind my occasional use of “awesome” or “cool.” She even said that this just made an adult more personable when they occasionally used their own slang. She made this stipulation, however: “If you try to use our slang, like, ‘bomb-diggety, or ‘g’, I tell you this—we’ll just stop listening to you altogether, ’cause it’s fake!”
She then put her arm around me in a motherly gesture and reminded me that I should never go to work and say to my boss, “Dude! This is awesome!” In an echo sounding vaguely like my own voice, she continued, “Because we both know that there is a time and place for casual conversation. Capeesh?”
My 13-year-old chimed in with, “Yeah. What she said. You just gotta’ stop snorting when you laugh. Because that’s WAY more embarrassing!”
So, this is my vow to all those teens up-in-arms with adults who hijack their teenglish: I will never tell you that something is ‘bomb-diggety’ or ‘g.’
However, you will just have to bear with me if I tell you, “Dude! You’re gonna’ hafta’ chill! This is an awesome movie and the light from your cell phone is so NOT cool!”
But about that snorting business when I get to laughing?
Chill, it’s all good!
More and more I am being taught that our lives are not our own. That every part is for a purpose to teach us and to be a living example of God's love for us.
Christian parents, when you find that other children listen to you and respect you more than your own do think on this: the children of Israel did the same to Jesus. And now because of this we are adopted into the family.
Kelly’s Pain & Kelly’s Purpose
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Jeremiah 31:3 “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love;I have drawn you with loving-kindness”
` Do you feel alone? Kelly knew all about loneliness. Have you ever felt unloved and unwanted? To Kelly that feeling was a familiar friend. At six years old, she lost her mom. Her mom did not die, she just up and left one day. Kelly would ask Daddy where Mommy was and his face would twist up. Then, he would take another gulp from the beer can that became an extension of his arm after work, and say “You were so ugly she couldn’t stand to look at you anymore. You made her sick just lookin’ at you so she ran away from you.”
She didn’t leave her two little twin brothers, Jake and Ian. No. Daddy said she’d love them and it’s Kelly’s fault they “got no mama now.” She calls the summer she was seven, the whoopin’ summer. That’s because if she didn’t have her chores done by the time daddy got home from work, or ‘the boys’ weren’t happy, she’d get a whoopin’. So just about everyday that summer she got whooped.
She couldn’t tell you why her stomach and chest hurt everyday. OR why she wants to go to sleep and not wake up. She didn’t have the words to explain why. This was just life as she knew it.
One of the last Saturday mornings before school started again that year she was given the job of washing the windows of the house. She reached the twins room and placed the Windex and paper towels on the lowest bunk. The curtains were closed so she had to open them up to reach the windows. As her little hand gripped the white cord, everything seemed to become still, as every sound in the world had been shut off. The neighbor’s lawn mower stopped. The laughter from the twins playing in the back yard stopped.
What will happen if I wrap this around my neck? If I stop breathing how long will it take before I just go to sleep like my dog Barnie did?
As she was thinking these curious thoughts her hand seemed to have a mind of its own as it wrapped- and wrapped- and wrapped- tighter-and tighter- and tighter…..
She was so focused on her thoughts that she did not hear her father’s footsteps creak up behind her. However, she was snapped out of her trance-like state by his barking laugh. She dropped the end of the cord as if it were lit on fire.
Oh No! He’s gonna’ whoop me now!
What a strange thought.
Daddy leaned against the doorframe, tears of laughter welling up in his eyes.
Then, as if the laughter had been swished away by a windshield wiper, he was dead serious and his blood shot eyes pierced through her.
“You’re so stupid! Ya’know if you’re gonna’ do it, do it right ya’ ignorant shit!” He turned to leave and as he did he barked over his shoulder, “If not get back to work!”
Something inside her grew icy.
If he wanted her dead, if that made him happy, she wasn’t going to make him happy!
In second grade she and her little brothers got scholarships to St. Luke’s Parochial Elementary.
This sad eyed little girl, that didn’t know how to smile also didn’t have a clue how to make friends. But she was hopeful. She’d never had a friend before. Daddy kept her in the house doing chores and taking care of the boys.
The children, of lawyers, and doctors, and dentists, and rich business owners, sensed right away that Kelly was different. IT became a game for them to find new and creative ways to torture her or set her up to get in trouble. So Kelly’s alone-ness became complete.
But at least she was learning new things and finding new books to escape into. Sister Moran also started coming into class every Tuesday to teach religion class. What all of the other children found boring, Kelly was fascinated by.
One day Sister Moran made a lot of little marks all over the chalkboard making everything look very dirty and scribbled. She turned around to face the class, smoothed her rough hands over her black dress and said, “Now class, this is what your soul looks like. You see all of those little marks? That is the sin that you do.”
Kelly raised her hand, “Sister Moran does every body sin?”
The older nun laced her hands together in front of her tightly. This was taking to long. She had afternoon tea waiting for her. “Yes, of course they do. Don’t be stupid, you knew that.”
*Sister Moran cleared her throat and continued, “Now. There cannot be sin in heaven with God, and since we all sin we can’t go to heaven. There is a price to pay. For example, if you break the law, you go to jail for a certain amount of time. There is an old saying that says- if you do the crime you must pay the time. The problem is, where can never be good enough to be able to do this,” she paused for full affect and Kelly was leaned forward in her desk intently.
“BUT- since He loves us so much He sent His one and only son Jesus to take our punishment for us. Jesus died on the cross for our sins not His.” She click-clacked back to the chalkboard. Picking up an eraser she lightly dragged it over the surface of the board. The “sins” were erased a little bit but were still there.
“Now there’s still some left, right? Now it is big enough for us to handle ourselves. Now, when you die, you go to Purgatory to pay for the rest of your sins. You do your time.”
Kelly raised her hand again and Sister Moran nodded with an annoyed look.
“How long do we have to stay in there?” she asked.
“That all depends,” sister Moran answered, drilling holes in Kelly with her laser eyes. “Really naughty little girls have to stay for a very long time.” There was a giggle from one her classmates.
Sister Moran held her hand up to silence the giggler and continued, “However, there is good news! People that love you and care about you can pray for your soul and have masses for you so that you may then get out earlier.”
Kelly raised her hand again.
Sister Moran sighed heavily, “What is it? You keep interrupting. This is not hard to understand, young lady!”
“But what if no one loves you? How do you get out then?” Kelly asked.
Sister Moran looked ready to pop her cork! Her face was red and splotchy. This scholarship child was making her tea get cold!
“When Jesus comes back EVERYBODY gets out! “She snapped.
Kelly raised her hand again.
“No! No more! No more questions!” Sister Moran hissed.
Kelly couldn’t help herself. This was important. She had to make sure she understood what Sister Moran was saying!
“But- But. Okay. Okay. So if nobody prays for me- I mean nobody prays for you, you can still get out when Jesus comes, and He won’t be mad at me that nobody prayed for me?” Kelly spoke quickly, knowing that this may be the last question Sister Moran let her ask.
Sister Moran lost all control as the rest of the class started giggling.
“OUT!” She hollered. “Out of the class! Now! Take your desk with you! In the Hallway! Now! Move it! You think it’s funny to be disruptive and ask stupid questions? Only stupid people ask stupid questions! OUT!”
Well, maybe third grade will be better. It couldn’t get any worse, could it?
In third grade, a new girl, Diane, joined the class. Kelly thought Diane was beautiful. She had beautiful, shiny blonde hair like a baby doll, and baby blue eyes with long lashes. Kelly thought that perhaps, just perhaps, this might be the year she made a friend. However, Diane learned the “game” real quick. In fact, she mastered the “game” and became the queen of not only the “game” but of the class. She had those nuns wrapped around her eight-year-old, manicured, pinkie. All she had to do was shake her baby doll blonde hair, and bat those baby doll eyelashes, and those nuns would scoop up every word, every syllable Diane uttered, as if each were pearls and gold.
Kelly was still hopeful however and so she did not see it coming. One day at recess, Diane smiled at her with those baby blues and said, “Hi! Would you like to play a game with me?” She stuck her bottom lip out as she was just so sad and said,” Nobody else wants to play it with me.”
Kelly felt so bad for Diane. How unfair! “I’ll play with you,” she said.
“Great!” Diane said quickly. “It’s called Houdini. Here sit down. What we do is, I tie your shoelaces together and you have to get out of them like Houdini!”
Kelly thought this sounded odd, “What if I can’t get them undone?”
Diane waved her hand, brushing the thought away, “I’m not gonna really tie them hard, you know!”
So Diane tied them together in an intricate design of multiple knots. “Okay. Now you can try to undo them!”
And so Kelly did. But Kelly couldn’t. After about five seconds of Kelly fumbling with the laces, Diane’s personality did a Jekyll/Hyde, “You’re so stupid! Figure it out. I’m going to go over and talk to Phillip.”
So Diane skipped off to Phillip. As Kelly struggled with her laces, she noticed Diane standing with one hand on her hip talking to Phillip and pointing at Kelly. Then they both broke out laughing hysterically
Just then, Sister Childers blew her whistles for the children to line up so that they could go back inside. Kelly tried. She knew she wasn’t going to be able to get those laces undone. She started half-hopping, half-tiny stepping to the line.
Sister Childers put her hands on her ample hips and said sharply, “ Just what do you think you’re doing, Kelly?”
Kelly flushed, “It was a game. Diane tied them together and then I’m s’posed to…”
Diane sauntered up to stand between Kelly and Sister Childers. Hands on hips she narrowed her eyes at Kelly and said, “How dare you?! You are such a little liar!”
Diane turned to Sister Childers and flashed on her baby-blues, “Sister Childers, I have absolutely no idea why this-this girl would lie and try to get me in trouble. You know I wouldn’t do anything like that, don’t you? I saw her do it herself. And I told her that she shouldn’t do that! Didn’t I, Phillip?”
Phillip grinned, “Yup! Heard it myself. That ugly girl is stupid! She wouldn’t listen at all.”
Sister Childers looked disapproving at Phillip and said curtly, “ Phillip! That is unnecessary!”
Phillip’s smile broadened and he chirped, “You told us we shouldn’t lie Sister Childers. She is ugly and stupid. I cannot lie! You don’t want me to go to hell do you?” He said this while absently digging in his nose with his thumb and wiping his found “treasure” on his brown corduroy pants.
“Phillip, stop! No, don’t lie! But stop picking you’re nose too! If you remember, I also said that even if something is true, there is a nice way to say it.
Sister Childers turned to Kelly. “Take you’re shoes off. You can tell you father yourself why you are barefoot. After the detention you serve this afternoon for lying and trying to get Diane into trouble, that is! Get in line!”
Diane smiled wickedly at Kelly and looked at her as if Kelly were something she’d just wiped off her shoes.
Pretty soon, the after lunch recess became so bad for her on the playground that she would hide around the side of the building where an empty lot of acorn and pine trees settled against the side of the school building. For a while, it was okay. She would lean up against the cool, roughness of the brick wall and look up through the tall trees. She would let her eyes relax and become mesmerized by the sunlight as it glittered through the leaves and made straight rays and shadows. She would listen to birds playing in the tops of the trees and make-up stories about families of birds. She watched in amazement as she observed an ant carrying a leaf more than five times its size on its back.
Kelly was only able to enjoy this reprise for a short couple of days; however, before her classmates got bored playing kickball, and tag, or whatever else they played without her. I mean, really, it was no fun at all to play dodge ball if Kelly wasn’t in the middle! You would get five points if you hit her in the body and a whole ten points if you hit her in the face. If you managed to give her a nosebleed, you were the automatic winner for the day and Diane would by you a slushy from the mini-mart down the street. No Kelly, no slushy.
When they found her they tried coaxing her to the playground but Kelly tucked her knees up to her chest and put her forehead on them as if she didn’t hear them. This only egged them on. Of course she could hear them! How dare she ignore them!
So the children decided to play the game a different way. This time they would use the fallen acorns from around the trees. You got five points if you hit her on the back and ten points if you were able to knock her in the head.
This soon became boring though because, as Billy pointed out, “Acorn’s can’t hurt nobody! That’s not slushy work!” Diane had just stood back and smiled as if the words were her own.
New game! The boys ran and grabbed paper towels from the bathroom and quick snuck a bucket from the janitor’s closet and filled it with water. The children crunched the paper towels into balls, wet them and then would throw them at Kelly. You got five points if you got her in the back and ten if you got her in the head. The person that could get Kelly’s head the wettest was the winner. Kelly, by this time, had curled into a ball as if it were a tornado drill. Her eyes and mouth were closed and squished together tight. So tight, that she could hear her blood pumping in her ears. She started counting her heartbeats.
The children were getting frustrated that Kelly wasn’t reacting the way they wanted her too. Kelly finally does look up, however, but only when she unexpectantly feels the cold milk from the carton Diane was pouring on her head, flood down her neck and spine, and then trickle to the waistband of her green and white plaid, uniform skirt.
“No way!” Billy shouts. “No fair! He picks up the bucket of water and dumps it on Kelly. “There! I win!” He shouts, and then starts giggling and running away with the rest of the lemurs following him.
Diane is clearly upset. She was the queen. No one out did her! She crossed her arms and her foot jabs at Kelly’s leg as she says, “This is your fault!” before stomping away.
The next day, Kelly knew that she needed to find a new hiding spot. But where?
The chapel! Her hand touched the smooth metal of the handle and ever….so….slowly….she opens the door, wincing at each tiny creak of the big wooden chapel door.
She desperately hoped that they would not find her here. If they did, not only would she have to play their game, she might be in trouble if the sisters found out she was in there without permission. She stepped softly, transfixed by the cross at the front of the chapel. She decided to sit in the very back pew. It was so quiet and peaceful here she could only hear the sound of her own whispered breath.
They never did find her.
Here, is where she found that much needed moment of “peace” to get through the rest of each day and night. Sometimes she would bring a paperback book with her to read. Inspired by books such as , “Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret,” and “Mister God, this is Anna,” she began talking to God herself. And although she never heard an audible voice speaking back to her, she never seemed to doubt that He actually heard her and that He answered in His own way.
Did this tiny corner of solace make things better for Kelly? Perhaps.
Year after year, she was pushed through with this same group of rich, spoiled and cruel children, who seemed to never tire of finding new and creative ways to hurt her. However, remember, it wasn’t just school that hurt. Home hurt too.
In fact, there came a morning, when she was in the sixth grade, that this all came to head for Kelly. It didn’t end really, but listen! One day, Kelly had forgotten to iron her father’s work shirt. She had been so busy trying to get the boys to settle down and get dressed for school that it slipped her mind.
He jumped in her face yelling at her. His words were daggers striking deep. Words that told her she was a lazy, no-good, piece of shit! Words that told her, she was as stupid as a wall-No! The wall was smarter! Words’ telling her she was so ugly that her mama must’ve had sex with a dog for her to be born!
His breath reeked of stale cigarettes and last night’s beer. She kept inching backward, fear painted on her features. She inched back until he had cornered her against the glass, patio doors, and she could go no further.
“ Ya’ gonna’ say anythin’?” Shove- her head bangs on the glass door.
He smiles. “It’s ‘cuz yer stoopid! Right?” Shove- her head bangs the glass again.
“Tell me yer stupid, ya’ little piece of crap!” Shove- bang.
“Tell ME!” Shove- bang, bang.
He’s so close now she feels his nasty spit hit her in the face as he yells at her, and his stinking breathe washes over her.
Something snapped inside Kelly then. Her fists balled up at her sides. She clenched them so tight her knuckles were stretched white. Her eyes shot poisonous darts.
And then, she hauled back and banged her own head on the glass as hard as she could!
Then she screamed, “Is…” BANG! “That…” BANG! “All…” BANG! “You GOT?!” BANG- BANG!
The glass door skitters off its rail a bit. Her dad’s eyes grow wide in shock. This freakin’ girl has lost her mind! She’s crazy!
“…YOU’RE GONNA…” BANG!
“…DO IT…” BANG-BANG!
“DO IT…” BANG-BANG!
“RIGHT!!!” BANG! She screams the last word louder than all. Then, continues to stare him dead in his bloodshot eyes as she keeps banging… and banging... and banging her head on the glass.
Her father notices a trickle of red on her neck. Her words, and her stare washed away the shock and he was furious! He balls up his huge fist and punches her in the gut as hard as he could. With the wind knocked out of her Kelly falls to her knees and palms on the cold tile floor. A drop of red hits the tile by her hand. The blood from the back of her head is matting and beginning to trickle down her neck.
He stomps off and hollers in parting, “And ya’ better not get blood on that uniform shirt! I don’t got no money to pay for your stupidity!”
Kelly swallows. Then eases up to a standing position. She methodically cleans herself up and finishes helping the boys get ready for school. The familiar, icy coldness has returned to
numb her mind, and her heart, and any hope in life she might possess.
She has to get to school.
That same day, as she is walking down the hallway she sees Diane walking toward her. Diane’s face lights up in a bright, sunshine smile, as if Kelly was her best friend in all the world.
Poor Kelly allows herself a tiny spark of hope. Hope that today will be different. Hope that today she will have a friend.
That spark of hope is just as quickly snuffed out as Diane, not slowing her stride, punches her hard in the stomach, right where her dad had that morning. For the second time that day, Kelly falls to her hands and knees.
It is then than she sees the black shoes. She looks up into the face of a “Grampa-man” she has never seen before.
But he’s not looking at her. He is staring down Diane. And then, he speaks with an authority in his voice that she had never heard before, or since, and he says, “I know you. Go to class.”
Diane swallows and has turned pale. Kelly has never seen Diane like that.
Who is that guy?
I don’t know. Let’s go.
Did he see anything? You think he’ll tell the sisters?
I don’t know let’s go.
He looks like a kind old, Grampa. His hair is so pure, white and looks so soft, that you can imagine, if you touched it, it would feel like the feathers of a dove. Although he has the soft, pale skin of an old man, his face seems to have been smoothed of any wrinkles. Wrinkles that he should have if he were as old as he appeared to be. His eyes are gentle and as blue as the sky on a sunny day.
The hall is bustling with the children rushing to get to class, but for some reason, Kelly doesn’t feel like she needs to bustle any more.
The old man helps her to her feet with a gentle, guiding hand. He helps her to a small, polished, wooden bench that sits outside one of the classrooms and gestures for her to sit down.
He sits down beside her, and as he does, he sighs. Not a tired sigh. A disappointed sigh. But Kelly didn’t feel it was directed at her. Oddly, Kelly begins to feel something she has never felt before in her life. Safe. Secure. Loved.
Before she can help herself, she ducks her head into the shoulder of his royal blue sweater, pressing her face into its softness. She allows her mind and heart to melt, and years worth of frozen tears begin to flow like a river, soaking the sleeve of his sweater.
His warm, gentle hand rubs and pats her back like a baby. This unfamiliar, loving gesture makes her cry harder.
Finally, she has no more tears left, but unwilling to let go of this rare, and safe cocoon, she keeps her eyes closed and her faced pressed against the downy soft sweater.
In a voice filled with love, kindness, and wisdom, she hears him speak, “I’m sorry, child. I know this is hard”
There is a pause. There is something in his voice that rings of undeniable truth. Kelly has absolutely no doubt that she can trust every single word this man says.
“It will continue to be hard for a little while more. But each trial will make you stronger.” He paused again, as if to make sure that every word is being heard and understood.
“Turn to your Father, in heaven. He hears your prayers everyday. He catches your tears and weeps with you. You will grow strong. Strong in love, in hope, in joy, in peace, and in purpose. Yes, in purpose. You will be a woman after God’s own heart. You are loved and treasured.”
Kelly starts to feel like she is floating. She still hears his kind voice, but now as if he is far away.
“There will be a day. Look for a girl to comfort, just as God Himself has comforted you in your troubles.”
“Miss Kelly Sandoval? What are you doing sitting in the hallway when you need to be in class? The tardy bell will ring in one minute.”
Kelly’s eyes fly open. It’s Sister Moran.
Without a word she gets up quickly and walks to class. There is no more pain. It is not because she is numb again. She is warm now. A warmth that she has never felt before flows through her; and as she walks down the hall her face lights up and does something it has never done before. Kelly smiles.
She never saw that old man again. And nobody but Diane even remembers he was ever there.
Twenty years later, she is in a cab in a different city. She is picking up her daughter, Lily, who had been visiting her Gramma, Kelly’s mother. Her mother’s house is around the corner from a beautiful park. Seeing what a beautiful Spring day it is, she asks the cabbie to drop her off at the park. She’ll walk the rest of the way.
She takes in a deep, satisfying breath of the Spring air scented with new grass, flowers, and budding trees. She begins to walk jauntily through the park and then- stops.
She sees a little girl in a blue and black plaid skirt on her knees and palms. The hard, rough sidewalk must be scraping her bare knees. Her skirt billows around her and her head is down.
A blonde girl, looking like someone Kelly used to know is looking down on the little girl and laughing.
Kelly whispers, “Thank you, Lord. For everything.”
Kelly knows what she needs to do.
*I personally do not believe in Purgatory. I believe that Jesus on the cross was the"Perfect" payment for our sins becasue he is perfect. The bible is clear that we can never, earn,pay or work our way into heaven.
Welcome! Come on in, I’m glad you’ve come! Yes, you!
No. Not you. You can leave.
I’m talking you.
Relax. Take a load off. I’ll only take a bit of your time.
Oh yes! This is worth your time I assure you.
What I’m going to show you is…..well… I guess you could call it sort of a documentary.
What’s it about?
Well, I’m getting there. I’m glad you asked though. It shows you’re interested.
Recently, we have been able to get our hands on some unbelievable technology.
It’s not a cell phone.
Not another I-Pad either.
What we have found is device that allows us to get inside the head of your average teenage girl.
Okay. That’s kind of rude. Why are you laughing?
All right. I see your point. Maybe I did say that in a “comical” way.
Let’s keep going before we run out of time, shall we?
Haven’t you ever wondered what makes a teenage girl make the choices she does? Why, it sometimes seems as if she flies off the handle at odd quirky moments, seemingly for no apparent reason?
With the use of this technology we have been given some amazing insight! What we have discovered is that the average teenage girl hears a multitude of voices in her head. All day, everyday.
Okay. Why are you laughing now?
Okay. Okay, yeah. I suppose that could be considered amusing also.
Listen! You have to pull yourself together!
I didn’t mean to raise my voice. Please sit back down. Please. This is very important. What we have discovered could be considered life changing. And we really don’t have that much time.
What kinds of voices? I was getting to that.
What we have have done is attempted to identify the voices and perhaps assess and classify the positive or negative influence on the girls psyche. Or basically,her “self-identity.
We have identified a mother type voice.
It was hard to classify at first because it sounds nothing like the mother. Almost. We believe that the mother voice is just repeating what has been filed away from actual conversations she has had with her mother. However, the tone, and nasal quality do not match the mother’s and sometimes the words are quite skewed from what the mother actually said.
We think, and understand this is still just conjecture at this moment in time, that this is how and what the daughter perceives the mother to have said. Or it is what she has understood when she heard something her mother said.
But that is not the only voice. No,no.no. We have also heard a father-type voice.
A voice that we can only label a “mean girl” voice. You know what I’m talking about?
No, I have not spoken with a “mean girl” per se’.
Let’s just say the tone and inflection is similar to the girl in that “Mean girl” movie. You know the one?
I can’t go through them all but if you’ll take a look at the portfolio in front of you, you will find a list of what we have been able to identify.
Yes, that’s right. That one we have labeled as “advertisement- voice-over” because that is really and truly what it sounds like.
Does she have a voice?
Excellent question! The simple answer is: so far as we can tell, she has not found her own “voice” yet. We sometimes hear a voice using the first person- but- from what we have assessed so far, it is not her voice. Which is the heart of this research. She has no true “self-identity.” If she does have her own “voice” it is definitely being drowned out by the multitude of other voices.
What? Oh! Yes! I thought I’d covered that.
If you’ll flip to the next page we’ve explained it in detail, but your question asking just what these voices are telling her is right-on-spot! It varies. On that page you’ll find a few phrases that seem to be repeated over, and over, and over, and over.
I’m not trying to be annoying. I’m sorry. When you hear that particular voice you’ll understand. In fact-don’t get me wrong- I’d don’t want to sound unprofessional, but if this particular voice had a body? I think I’d want to slap it.
Mostly, what the voices do is tell her: What to do. What not to do. Where to go. Where not to go. What she can do. What she can’t do. Who she was. Who she is. And who she can be.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT?!
Ye,yes,yes. I’m. sorry. So so sorry. Again, I did not mean to raise my voice. It’s just that…well… when you’ve watched the footage you’ll understand why I’m so passionate about this.
At least I thinkyou will.
I desperately hope you will.
Jimmy? Can you get the lights back there and flip the switch for the voice recovery device?
~ to be continued~
~this short is still in progress~
"As a teenager I clearly remember mornings when I was getting ready for school when
would -just still me- and
I would lean forward and peer very intensely into the eyes of the girl in that mirror.
who is that? I didn't know .
I looked into those eyes as if they had the answer to who I am
or who I could be.
So I would search the depths of those green and blue flecked eyes.
Calmly searching the eyes of this stranger
as if I thought that if I looked deep enough,
or long enough, I would find the answer to why I was even here.
I didn't know what I know now.
That I could only find out my true identity,
who I was
when I stopped
looking into my own eyes
and instead searched in the eyes of Jesus.
Only He could REALLY tell me who I am.
Who I can be. Who I will be..."
— Laura A. Diaz
*I didn't write this poem, but as you know, I'm a voracious reader. I stumbled upon this poem written by a young "Latina." It speaks of the struggle for self-identity that this generation has to face.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Child of the Americas
by Aurora Levins Morales*
I am a child of the Americas,
a light-skinned mestiza of the Caribbean,
a child of many diaspora, born into this continent at a crossroads.
I am a U.S. Puerto Rican Jew,
a product of the ghettos of a New York I have never known.
An immigrant and the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants.
I speak English with passion: it’s the tongue of my consciousness,
a flashing knife blade of crystal, my tool, my craft.
I am Caribeña, island grown. Spanish is in my flesh,
Ripples from my tongue, lodge in my hips:
the language of garlic and mangoes,
the singing of poetry, the flying gestures of my hands.
I am of Latinoamerica, rooted in the history of my continent:
I speak from that body.
I am not African.
Africa is in me, but I cannot return.
I am not taína.
Taíno is in me, but there is no way back.
I am not European.
Europe lives in me, but I have no home there.
I am new. History made me. My first language was spanglish.
I was born at the crossroads
and I am whole.*Aurora Levins Morales writes for those struggling to find their identities and their voices - and speaks on issues pertaining to history and the multicultural experience (Santiago).
Related articles and web sites:
...and many more! Check out the work of this very talented writer.