Month: December 2012

Post-a-day: I thought I’d never come back from that one!

O’Hare Airport, age 16

I was on my way home from school, landing at O’Hare Airport, where my brother was supposed to meet me. Dressed in a striped mini-dress, I was overloaded with an expensive camera hanging on a strap over my shoulder and luggage surrounding me. My sister’s family lives near the airport, and usually family members prefer to pick someone up at O’Hare outside the baggage terminal exit, making for easy pick-up and not having to park the car. But I didn’t see how I could lug all the stuff outside and besides, I noticed a creepy man standing at the door.

I sat down for a minute to think and then realized the creepy man was staring at me with an intense and ominous expression. He looked Hispanic, was somewhat stocky in build and wore dark glasses. At first I thought he was interested in my camera or the money in my purse, and whatever expensive things I might have in my possession, so I pulled my camera, purse and luggage more tightly around me. It soon became clear, however, that he was interested in … me. If I went out that door, I had no doubt he would grab me and then…well, I didn’t want to think about what he’d do with me once he’d kidnapped me.

 

No, going outside to meet my brother was not an option. I looked around me. There were some people around, people picking up their luggage, having their luggage tickets checked as they exited the roped off area. I looked toward the public phone, but it was isolated and dark. I dared not go there. Nervously I looked at my watch – where’s my brother? Most likely circling around the airport, expecting me to emerge. I had to call my family, but how?

 

I moved around to see what he would do – his eyes followed me. I went over to the airport official checking the luggage and told him about the man at the exit. He said he would keep his eye on him, but I could tell he didn’t really think there was any danger.

 

However, because I had talked to the airport employee, the man called over a companion to keep watch on me for awhile. This was a tall black man. I told the official that now a different man was watching me and by that time, I’m sure he thought I was a totally wacko teenager. Probably thought I was “asking for it” due to my mini-dress. However, he did agree to watch my luggage, which I moved inside the roped off area. The only safe place I could go at this point would be upstairs. I had in mind to go up there and couldn’t leave my luggage unattended.

 

Within a couple of minutes, the stocky man with the  dark glasses returned. When he turned to talk to his companion for a minute, I got up and ran to the escalator. People closed around me. I thought of looking for a pay phone but didn’t see anything around there. I sat down in a seat in a corner and felt safe in the throng of people.

 

Suddenly my flesh crawled: the stocky man had come upstairs looking for me! He didn’t see me sitting in the corner, and I saw him looking around in the crowd. Searching for me! I was terrified, but since he didn’t see me, I slipped back to the escalator and went back downstairs. If he’s gone long enough, I thought, I would be able to call my brother from the pay phone there.

 

Suddenly there  he was, coming down the escalator, his penetrating stare fixed on me. He returned to his spot at the door, never taking his eyes off me, and it was clear that I couldn’t leave. Fear overwhelmed me – I was trapped!

 

It had been a long time, or seemed that way. I checked my watch again. 45 minutes had passed since I’d called my brother from the pay phone near the arrival area! Where was he? When was he going to realize I wasn’t going to come outside? I closed my eyes and willed him with all my might to come inside, to find me, rescue me.

 

Then I recognized a booming voice yelling, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?” I had never in my life been so relieved to see my brother.

 

And just as quickly, the creepy man vanished. I ran over to my brother, shaking, and told him what had happened. Of course, since the man had gone, I wasn’t able to really show him the danger I was in. We went over to my luggage, which was still there, but there was no sign of the airport official who had supposedly been guarding it.

 

Safety and relief washed over me. I had imagined all the horrible scenarios that could have happened if the man had kidnapped me. Gagged, blindfolded, thrown into the back seat of a car or maybe even the trunk. Drugged, forced into prostitution. There was no end to my fears. But finally I was ensconced safely in the comfortable passenger seat of my brother’s car, jazz music playing on the radio.

 

In spite of my explanation, I don’t think my brother truly believed me – I’m sure he thought I was exaggerating, that my imagination was running wild. However, to this day, that experience was the scariest I’ve ever had in my life. I can still see that man’s face – I will never forget it. I thought I’d never come back from that one!

DPChallenge: I resolve in 2013…

I don’t usually make resolutions since I tend to either forget about them or decide I don’t want to do them. This year, however, there are a few things that, since I’ve already started them, I am resolved to continue!

  1. I reached my Weight Watchers goal weight last month. If I maintain my weight within 2 lbs. for six weeks, I will become a lifetime member! I am halfway there, even with the holidays, so I am pretty sure I can do it.
  2. Related to the above, I have slacked off on exercise considerably this year (partly due to unforeseen circumstances, such has fracturing my knee cap and having to wear an immobilizer for 6 weeks!). So I need to get back to it. This will be aided by park district classes starting up again! I take Zumba and yoga. One of my former walking buddies had gotten into more heavy duty workouts, but now she’s back to walking again, so that’s another incentive to exercise. This is how we keep up with each other’s lives!
  3. Last, but not least – in fact, maybe this should be on the top of the list – KEEP WRITING! That means here on my blog and also in my writing group. I slacked off on this too when teaching became too hectic and I didn’t have a life. Writing is the one thing that really inspires and fulfills me. It is what I was meant to do, what I like to do and have been doing all of my life.

I was going to resolve some more but this is enough to truly RESOLVE to do. Everything else (take classes, clean my office, etc.) I hope and intend to do, but resolve would be going too far!!

 

Barbie Doll

I don’t often write poetry, but sometimes that’s how the most difficult and painful subjects come out. I didn’t know what this was going to end up until I wrote it, a poem in 4 sections.

BARBIE DOLL

On display

Barbie dolls line the shelf
Different personalities:
Casual with jeans t-shirt ponytail
And high heels
Gala in pink sequined dress
Shiny slinky
Heels in matching pink
With a bow
Ballet with stiff puffy tutu
White satin toe slippers
Exercise in slimming nylon stretch pants
Athletic bra sewn into cropped tank top
Eyes focused forward
Blue brown black
Identical smile on dainty lips

 All in anticipation
Of being the friend of
A joyful young girl
Black Friday crowds
Clamor for first choice
Trucks cars dolls action figures
Video games cell phones
A slim petite woman
In the back
Peers at the line of dolls
Standing on tiptoe behind
Taller moms and dads

 Chosen

I’m in her hands
Hands that reached up to the shelf
Where I waited
I’ve been chosen
As her daughter’s friend
Satisfied smile on her face imagines
Her daughter’s excited expression
When she unwraps and sees
Her new friend
Me
Cell phones ring voices call
Over the superstore intercom
“Mandy, come to register three,
Mandy to register three”
Babel of voices excited frenzied
Register numbers light up
Crowds surge forward
With their purchases

Long lines hectic employees
Scan each item
Credit cards store cards cash
Even checks which cause grumbles
A few seconds longer to wait
I’m smothered under a pile
Of kids’ clothes books action figures
Bought for my new friend and her brother
Finally I’m in a rustling plastic bag
Jammed in with other boxes and packages
That bulge from the sides and
Tear the bags but it doesn’t matter
We’re in the car going
To our new home

I wonder about my little girlfriend
What color her eyes her hair
Long or short is she skinny or tall
Longing to provide her with
Many hours of play
Lost in imagination
Creating stories
With friends other dolls
Exchanging clothes and hairstyles

Under the tree

My box is wrapped in bright red and green
Shiny paper covered with Christmas trees
And ornaments
And presents underneath
Just like where I am placed
After adding the bow and tag on top
Under the tree brushing the bottom branches
With a tinkle of ornaments set in motion
As each colorfully wrapped gift is set
Carefully in piles sorted by family member
Or maybe mixed up for more surprise
Now I need to wait
Encased in this wrapping nothing to see
Hearing voices, running steps
A light scolding when a child grabs a gift
And shakes it to figure out what it could be
They can see our wrappings
We can hear their voices
I hope it won’t be long

Time goes by daily routines
Morning rush of voices activity
Kids getting ready for school
Parents for work
Serving and eating breakfast
Cereal or oatmeal eggs bacon toast
Orange juice coffee milk
Putting on coats hats boots
Grabbing backpacks purses briefcases
Happiness in the chatter
Anticipation of the holiday
Vacation from school
Singing carols eating cookies
Setting out a treat for Santa
And his reindeer
Playing games laughing joking
Sometimes arguing but
Always making up
Happy family

Loss

The nighttime is quiet
Then Friday arrives the last day
Of the school week
Just like any other except
It’s almost Christmas and
The children are exuberant impatient
Longing to see what’s under the tree
Us
Waiting for them

Again the clamor of breakfast getting ready
The footsteps of brother sister mom dad
All going one way or a different way
Finally out the door
There is quiet

This quiet is different
There is sadness in it
There is terror
Phones ring insistently cell phone wall phone
Footsteps slamming doors
Screaming crying
She will never come
She will never see me
I will have no new friend
I remain here
Under the tree
A reminder untouched
Unthinkable despair
Parents weeping
Retelling the story
Over and over
Brother talking through choked back tears
He was there but he didn’t see
The carnage in first grade
Principal and teachers on the floor
Trying to protect the children
Description of gunfire
Blood everywhere
Twenty children
Who will never have Christmas
My little girl who
Will never see me play with me
Agony longing loneliness
I lie here unseeing useless
I will end up discarded

I’ve been picked up
Along with other gifts
For the little girl
We are driven in the car
To the school
A memorial
Toys teddy bears flowers
All piled up in the cold
Dolls and racecars that were cherished
Fluffy stuffed animals
With Christmas collars
Never to be hugged
Unwrapped gifts
Like me
Added to the pile
Unwrapped gifts placed
By parents who
Couldn’t bear to
Open us see us remember
Their excitement anticipating
Watching their children on Christmas morning
Parents who
Leave us for their children
To open, perhaps,
In heaven.

3Kings-antiviolence

I couldn’t even pretend to fathom what parents and families in Newtown have been going through. So I had to write it from a different point of view and as I said, instead of prose, it ended up being a freestyle poem. I don’t mean to minimize the feelings of pain and grief of those close to these children by using a doll’s point of view. But I was thinking about the personal things, the Christmas without them, the already bought presents wrapped under the tree. How have these parents dealt with these objects of holiday tradition? And as a mom, I thought of what I would do. This was the anonymous story of any one of those families that lost a little girl, or little boy, to senseless death.

Post-a-day (12/30) prompt: Childhood

The prompt today is: Write page three of your autobiography.

During the years in which I was between six and twelve years old, I continued developing my nascent creative interests in drawing, writing and using my imagination. Social relationships were extremely important to me, as well as difficult to secure. Most of my friends were the other children who lived in my neighborhood.

My nearsightedness worsened slowly throughout this period and I began to wear glasses all the time in elementary school. Because I was not very coordinated, I did not do well in sports, particularly competitive sports. I therefore did not like sports very much nor being forced to participate in them, which was a source of humiliation. The only sport I was pretty at was swimming, and I took lessons every summer. When I was about seven, I took ballet lessons at a private dance school. In spite of my poor balance and klutziness, I loved dancing and after I had learned some steps, I taught them to my neighborhood friends. There is a home movie taken by my father showing me and my friends giving a “recital” in the front yard. I would demonstrate the dance step over and over across our front lawn, then one by one each little girl would take her turn across the lawn. I was only the expert in ballet because my neighborhood friends did not take ballet lessons! However, I loved being the center of attention and being the leader in other games as well. When we played school, I was always the teacher. It made this girl with low self-esteem feel important.

I did not lack in exercise, in spite of my lack of athleticism. My friends and I played in the woods behind my house, running up and down the hills, climbing trees, playing make believe games. In the winter, we went sledding on a nearby hill and ice-skating at a local park.

By second grade, I continued to enjoy drawing and now began using written language as a creative activity, writing and illustrating story books. I was imaginative and made up stories all the time. When I wasn’t writing them down, I would use my Barbie-sized dolls to act them out – I had a whole “family” of dolls and furniture which I put on my shelves to make rooms in a house for them. As I grew older, my doll stories grew more complex – Barbie had a boyfriend, or she was distraught because he broke up with her or went away for the summer. Good gifts for me were crayons, pencils, pens and paper.

By the age of twelve or thirteen, I was reading books from our family library. The first one that interested me was called Being Born. My friends and I would page through it and look at the pictures. We giggled with embarrassment at the anatomical drawings of female and male reproductive organs and the development of the embryo.

With the backdrop of race riots in cities across America in the mid ‘60s, I began reading about the issues of prejudice, racism and injustice. I loved The Diary of Ann Frank and couldn’t get over the shock of realizing she died in a concentration camp at the age of 16, only because she was Jewish. At school, I devoured certain required books, such as Animal Farm (I read it in one day) and To Kill a Mockingbird (which I read in three days). At my aunt and uncle’s house, I found Manchild in the Promised Land, which I took home to read. These books took place in a world that was totally alien to me in my white small-town universe.

Post-a-day (12/29) prompt: Faith

The prompt is: Tell us about the role that faith plays in your life — or doesn’t.

My faith has gone through several permutations. I’ve gone through periods in which I didn’t attend church nor think much about religion, but I did realize I needed a spiritual outlet. I am constantly evaluating and reexamining my faith in God and that which I have been taught in the non-dogmatic Christian church in which I was raised (First Congregational UCC).

On a scale of 0-10, with 0 being atheist, 1 being non-religious and 10 being super-religious to the point of fanaticism, I rate about a 5. I do not take the Bible literally. The stories it contains are mostly allegories and lessons, whose meaning must be unlocked by the reader, sometimes with the help of a clergy or study group. Sometimes I question what God really is, while other times I observe “God moments” when something happens that is meant to be, or is a small miracle.

Faith is a challenge, one has to find spirituality within oneself and within that lies faith. Faith is something we cannot prove, and therefore, it must be experienced or strongly felt by each individual in order to survive. I do not see a contradiction between science and spirituality or faith, in fact the two complement and inform each other. There is scientific evidence for a variety of spiritual experiences and beliefs. I envy some people their spiritual experiences, because I have never had a transcendental experience.

Therefore, my faith is developing and I seek to explore my inner spirituality more deeply through meditation and by looking at things in a new way. Right now I am comfortable with the church I attend, its tenets and mission, because I have the freedom to looking for God, and spirituality, in a variety of ways.