People say that our memory indelibly marks certain events within us, filing them right beside where we were and what we were doing at those very moments. For instance, JFK's assassination and his last moments riding in the infamous blue convertible prompted my recollection of the secure warmth of embryonic fluid enveloping me, as the bun in the oven that I was split into two. It was the moment nature deemed I become an identical twin. The date was November 22, 1963. Nine months later, I was born, 3 minutes following my mirror image. Memory is an episodic wonder second only to imagination.
On March 30th, 1981, I was reading a Tiger Beat magazine, fawning over Sean Cassidy while also watching my afternoon "stories". BREAKING NEWS flashed across the screen.
My soap opera was replaced by a confusing skirmish. I don't remember hearing a sound, but saw a handsome older man's knees buckle simultaneously as he was caught in a riptide of g-men who surrounded and swept him into an inlet of grabbing arms no one could escape. A current of black suits swirled him into a vehicle, Moments of mayhem lagged where Ronald Reagan once stood. I watched the footage in curious horror. It was a train wreck, an assassination attempt that occurred in front of a wall of grayness. At least that's what I remember. November 1963 and March 1981, what's that saying about history?
If you have an inquiring mind and want to learn more about ancient technology, www.youtube.com/watch?v=eF8XjnU0TMQ will take care of that need. It just goes to show how far we have come, until we circle back.
I was 44 years old when the first black man was elected president, and I was working at a teaching hospital where many of the support staff were African American. Tears of elation graced their faces. The US was evolving. Did my colleagues dare hope of a future that would prove different for their children? In 7 seconds, one knee to a neck, and the words "I can't breathe", those tears of elation morphed into tears of grief. The emotion is palpable. History was spinning faster than a revolving door controlled by an 8-year-old boy without a parent in sight. Do we shout at the boy or the one who gave him free rein? It seems the answer relies upon whom you ask.
Time flies when you are having fun (and even when you are not). At 58, I'm glued to the TV watching Russia invade Ukraine with an overwhelming sense of dread and sadness, wondering If I would have the resolve or if I could be as brave as the Ukrainians are if thrust into the same circumstances. Though brave, there is fear. Is the anxiety I feel mine or theirs? Our collective consciousness is crying out. A madman is threatening a sovereign nation and the consequences are dire. Putin, Hitler, Putin, Hitler-Can we really be this stupid? Why can't we stop this revolution? Wait, what? The door or the war?
For now, I am lucky enough to have a respite because, at age 58 plus one day, I am content to be In the air, soaring through the clouds as I sit next to a new mother who is flying with her 5-month-old cherub of a boy for the first time. We met managing airport security. I was examined closely because of a forgotten metal tin of chapstick in my pocket, and she because of her diaper bag full of baby must haves. As I helped her with her bags, I silently hoped she and tiny he would be seated next to me on the flight (not your typical wish, I know). As I boarded the plane and found my seat, there they were, right across the aisle! My heart melts as he flirts with me, fusses and then goes to sleep only to wake and repeat. For a moment, I forget about the world we are creating for him. For now, I just see dimples, a new mom, a new journey and what could be for all of us if we just used the rejuvenating warmth of a baby's peek-a-boo smile to navigate the complications of adulthood and to stick a foot in the path of history's revolving door. Imagine the memories we could share. We could still have them, you know. Maybe there would just be fewer attached to tragic world events.
Think about it. Where were you the day history stopped repeating itself? Now that is a memory I would treasure.
Revolving door, meet history.
I love comments-be the first to start a dialogue!
Hopefully, now you feel the way I do - more centered and grounded. I actually have thoughts that pertain to writing as well!
I think a story-line has been staring my paralyzed typing fingers right in the cuticles! If you will be so kind as to give me a minute (or a few hours)...
Welcome to A Dramatic Grammatic, my soft light shed upon managing writer's block and a look at how I keep my D-E-Fs following my A-B-Cs.
Are you in school endlessly boing, boing, boinging your pink, #2 pencil's eraser on a desk? Or, are you an author/blogger needing to dazzle an audience with words but your typing fingers are paralyzed? We all need to find a way to land on a topic, to find letters to string together to form words that will tell our story. What is the best way to decide on a topic? How can we become inspired? How do we keep the words flowing?
I don't think our inspiration has to be complicated. Though they may, our muses (or sources of inspiration) need not arise from an earth-shattering, life-changing event.
When we have a muse, it becomes much easier to find our story. While writing poetry, one specific event, feeling, person, or even thought can serve as inspiration (like the tears or the nursery rhyme characters). When all else fails, I just begin writing, even if I am not sold on my A, B, Cs at first. As I write, l let my words settle a bit. I come back to the words and as I do, a storyline almost always takes shape. The delete and backspace keys become my best friends and while the result rarely resembles my initial idea, what takes shape is better! The re-writes almost certainly contain the inspiration that my first draft lacked. It is a process, for sure. Patience and persistence are imperative. Rushing the process ends in scrambled letters.
Now let's look at another poem. In this blog's journey, these poems were written first and the blog post followed. See if you can identify the muse managing to set my A,B,Cs in motion.
Introducing "A DRAMATIC GRAMMATIC"
I or thee? This punctuation signals quandary.
Can the future truly depend upon me?
Now and then, adverbs prove time and again.
The future is indeed hampered by when.
“This way or that way” our phrase of the day.
Leaves the future in the midst of a fray.
A smile upside down can be a noun,
and Future’s adverb when feeling down.
I or thee, when a single pronoun is key,
might the future need it to be "we”?
I have to be honest, my brain hurt as I was writing this poem. As I set out, I was thinking about moral dilemmas. But, I also had a hidden agenda. I needed another "mission" for Mission Poetry. Mission Poetry is the page on this website devoted to introducing children to poetry. It includes lesson plans for parents and teachers that can be used to supplement those in a school's curriculum. I am a huge fan of using one lesson to reinforce another. Therein lay my inspiration; I wanted to write a poem that was thought-provoking but also reinforced another English lesson, in this case, grammar. Since the grammar concepts and how they are presented suit a higher grade level and thought process, I also wanted to write the same poem in a more basic form. By focusing on the moral concepts alone (no grammar lesson), the poem can be enjoyed by much younger children, thus encompassing a broader audience.
Me or you, think about who
Both are important in what you do
Now or then think about when
It really matters time and again
My way or your way
The words that you say
Can turn smiles into frowns
As they flip upside down
Me or you? Is that the choice?
It's time to listen to another voice.
It says: leave out all the lonely "I"s
For doing so is very, very wise!
And just as one plus one equals two
Try adding this: add "me" to "you".
The answer will forever be
Not me or you, but "W"-"E"
THE BIG TAKE AWAY:
Answer: What wins the prize for most ill thought out
game show question.
Welcome readers, I am your guest host. Buzzers ready, good luck.
The Category is OPPOSITES
The Category is SYNDROMES
Yes, that is the appropriate answer, but sadly, it is also factually incorrect and insensitive. Go to jail. Oh, wait, sorry - wrong game. But, hey, this is my blog and my rules. The jail is quite crowded because it is where the Jeopardy writers landed after their original Grinch clue. They will remain there until they apologize to those suffering from this debilitating condition and promise to demonstrate a higher emotional IQ when writing Jeopardy clues in the future. The Eeyore clue was written solely to provide a comparison to the Grinch clue, in hopes of helping some see the insensitivity as it is applied to another debilitating medical condition. Honestly, it was written to drive my point home.
This Jeopardy kerfuffle illuminated the current polarization within our society. Taking Jeopardy out of the picture, let's look at the reactions of the public to the gaff itself. Let me just emphasize that it was a gaff. The clue contained admittedly incorrect information that was corrected by Jeopardy.
There seemed to be two schools of thought surrounding the hurly-burly (a cool synonym of kerfuffle). Basically, they are: the outraged and the get over it, the insulted and the get over it, the left wing PC hounds and the I don't give a flying left wing and neither should you, the informed and the ill-informed, and finally, the I'm a little bit country, and I'm a little bit rock and roll. I think you get my drift.
I was fascinated by a comment thread I found on the subject. It mirrored the two schools of thought. Here is a small sample of the thread. Note to you: if you click on the date, it is a link to the thread in its entirety. It is worth the read.
June 23, 2021 at 5:57 AM
its was not a major blunder.
human make mistakes.
get over it.
for a show to get near perfect research. is impressive record.
(I'm not certain I can take John seriously, due to the simple fact he is a pot calling the kettle black in the category of blunders. His blunder category falls under grammar. If, however, I were to take john seriously, the tone of his comment, and his inability to understand why someone might be hurt by such a description of a disabling condition reduced to a Dr. Seuss character's attribution would be reason for him to "go to jail")
The second school of thought is that those thinking POTS should be renamed Grinch Syndrome are insensitive clods who have never lived a day in a handicapped person's mobility scooter - therefore they need to just shut their pie-holes (and go to jail).
Responding to AIS, Bea says:
June 22, 2021 at 9:43 PM
I suspect without knowing it you proved what patients having POTs find so irksome. As a population, we often see more than a few cardiologists to obtain a proper diagnosis-we are also often treated inappropriately, dismissed and lead to the door with the recommendation that we lose weight (even if we are not overweight) and exercise (even though it was those heart muscle building exercises that triggered the need to pass out in the first place). Call me a Grinch, but maybe those were the docs that put such an inept description in a medical journal. There are some things that are just legit offensive; incorrect information touted as correct, the assumption that it is ok to label a disability in a derogatory fashion or worse, to be judged by a mind two sizes too small. It is the complex nature of POTS that leaves us all a bit starved for an accurate depiction. The last thing I need is another person lashing out at me because I parked in the handicapped spot they think I don’t deserve- after all, you can’t see a tiny Grinch heart, even if that nonsense were true.
Although this is a well-spoken thought, Bea goes to jail for the degree of snark disguised as humor.
Bea also says:
June 23, 2021 at 6:09 AM
I applaud Jeopardy for their apology. People make mistakes, and those with character make amends. The amends set the show apart from those who say “just get over it”. Thank you, Jeopardy.
(Full disclosure, Bea is actually yours truly. POTS runs in our family and I am well versed in the syndrome as well as its devastating and handicapping symptoms, which BTW, are largely invisible.)
What was so fascinating about the thread was the tone of the persons chiming in. There was disgust, vehemence, judgement , occasional kind tones with sprinkles of empathy. It was as if some people writing truly had hearts two sizes to small and enjoyed the chance to skewer others using their word-sword.
Jeopardy made a mistake which offended some of its viewers and was also factually incorrect. However, they wasted no time listening to those they offended, and made amends, showing a heart-warming strength of character. They apologized as fans were doubling down in judgement of those upset by the "cluelessness" of the clue. Would this have been you? If it is, maybe it is time to see a cardiologist to diagnose whether your heart is two sizes too small. For goodness’ sake, just not the ones who wrote that study mentioned above-I don't like their methods.
The moral of this blog...
Honestly, as a group, we just need to be thought of as a parking passes in need of one thing - validation. Having a disorder that affects collagen, we lack the proper glue to hold our bodies together. Life with faulty collagen is exhausting. All your muscles are constantly engaged in hopes of helping out their slacking friend, collagen. We are known to be Cirque Du Soleil flexible and then as a result, riddled with arthritis later in life. It is not a stretch (pun intended) to think that the medical community would recognize this disorder for what it is - complicated and real. They have the complicated correct, but seem to struggle with the "real" component. Too often the medical community stitches the holes in their knowledge using patient shaming sutures. We become so beaten down by the hail rained down upon us during our medical journey, it leaves us bruised and sometimes hesitant to stand up for ourselves being fearful of having to face yet another medical humiliation. Solace is the cave called home that we return to and hide. I once had an experience with a primary care physician who believed I had Lyme Disease. I remember the after hours calls and the kindness that permeated her voice as she lay out a treatment plan for me. The Lyme diagnosis was incorrect, with its treatment wreaking havoc on the underlying and yet to be diagnosed EDS which is frequently misdiagnosed for years. I often think of my dear friend who overcame cancer. Her journey was quite different. As horrific as it was, she was never demeaned by being told the cancer was "in her head", or that if "she just lost weight her cancer would go away", she didn't need to find her own specialists only to find that they did not participate in insurance because reimbursement was too poor for her type of cancer. Her friends and family didn't judge her when she had to cancel plans because she felt poorly or have them decide the issue was really hypochondria. BTW, I met my high deductible insurance plan's in and out of network deductible in 3 months this year. The judgement award goes to a stranger who chastised me in a parking lot for not returning my shopping cart to the bin (too many steps away on a hot day my body would not tolerate) When I calmly said I'm not well today, she responded with you don't look sick. I'll take that validation now please.
Like so many other people having these genes in their pockets, it took over 10 years for me to receive an official diagnosis. Why? EDS symptoms are weird, inconsistent, pile up and while known to be genetically based, the specific gene has not been identified in all of the EDS subtypes. Also, in the eyes of some doctors (and when I was younger, many), I am just another woman who suffers from hysteria, needs bloodletting and then psychiatric care. I am joking (kinda), but seriously folks, what illness takes 10 years to diagnose?? In the age of rarely earning more than a ten minute appointment with a doctor, unless they are concierge, it is very difficult for a doctor to assess a complicated medical history, consider the a diagnosis then and then determine a course of action. To give you a picture of just how hard it is to be appropriately cared for, here is a list of my various misdiagnoses, how long it took to obtain the correct one and the doctors I saw on my diagnostic journey. This is not a "poor me" story, it is included to provide awareness of the inner workings of EDS. Here goes:
The interesting thing about this list is that all of these issues are classically related to EDS and are documented in medical literature. Imagine going to your doctor and having them ask you why you are there. In response you say: Well doctor, my head hurts, I'm throwing up, I keep getting random rashes and asthma attacks, my knees feel 80 years old, my fingers keep locking up, I want to pass out if I stand up too fast, I'm losing my hearing in my left ear, I have this ringing in my ears and I think I might be depressed. I give credence to the difficulty in our diagnostic process, but feel like my intimate relationship with the medical community is often abusive. My years of searching has finally paid off. My doctor hunting has resulted in my team of 5ish doctors that trust my judgement, but I still feel very vulnerable when I have to consult a new physician.
Lastly, in keeping with EDS awareness month, I would like to leave you with a TicTok. Who doesn't love a TicTok! Even better, I'll top it with a blooper reel. In true EDS form, I want to let you know that 2 zebras were harmed in the making of this TicTok. Mom zebra subluxed 2 ribs, needing ice, rest and a physical therapist's touch. Daughter zebra promptly passed out after our little project was complete (thank you dysautonomia and POTS). This is not a rare occurrence as many EDSers suffer from Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia, better know as POTS and dsyautonomia. Dysautonomia is the body's inability to regulate what should happen automatically (blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, etc.) These disorders have received more attention of late given their odd occurrences in people who have had COVID. Enjoy; The TikTok not POTS and dysautonomia (should you have them - no fun at all)!
There is nothing like a good crisis to bring people together. Except if that crisis is a world pandemic where you are discouraged from being less than 6 feet from another person and to boot, commiserating with a fleet of friends, over nachos and pigs in a blanket, during the recent Superbowl was likely to become ground zero of a super spreader event. My goodness, America is just getting over our last stint with large gatherings and pumpkin pie. But hey, maybe we have evolved... like the virus. Now, you scientists out there are going to have to give me some poetic license. I do understand the virus has most likely evolved precisely because we have not. Virus' cannot mutate if they are not replicated, they replicate by spreading and luckily for COVID and its mutations, the world wants a big Thanksgiving and a house full of Superbowl Sunday.
There is also nothing like a contracting COVID to force a hard look into the mortality mirror. I suspect that roughly 108 million people out there can relate. That is the number of diagnosed COCVID cases since the onset of the pandemic. My diagnosis makes 108 million people plus one. I have joined the He-man-COVID-haters-club (if you are not snickering, google The Little Rascals He-Man Woman Haters Club, and you will catch my reference and a subsequent snicker) In any case, since COVID, I kind of feel like that unfiltered octogenarian who says "hey, it's not dementia, I'm old, I can say whatever I want". Now that I have had COVID, I have earned the right to be taken in an a-political fashion and at face value. I can say "hey, I've had COVID, it really stinks, wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and avoid it like the plague it is" and not worry about offending any one political persuasion. COVID doesn't care what party you cater to, and neither do I, I just don't want you to feel as miserable as I do. COVID misery does not deserve company.
People behave badly when they are scared. Have you noticed? Children just tend to shriek, cry or if really terrified, shriek and cry at the same time. Adults are a bit more complicated, they parade an array of potentially inappropriate behaviors all driven by fear itself. Do any of these fears based behaviors sound familiar?
While we all act differently when fear creeps into our lives, but we do have one commonality. We all sense fear, for whatever reason - like a terrible year long pandemic. Recently, I wrote a poem that taught the senses to children as well as gently pointing out that that We All Sense Fear (the title of said poem). It seems that the poem is particularly poignant now, during a time when we are ever more divided as our fear based behaviors erupt.
Everyone Senses Fear is a children's poem, but like most children's stories, it can be enjoyed by all. I thought it also might be helpful to add a part 2 to this particular blog. Remember above, I noted that the poem was originally used to teach the senses to children? It has another purpose. Once children learn their senses, they can then learn how to use them in a mindful way. Doing so can help us reduce our responses to stress, anxiety and fear. Mindfulness is a great tool for all of us to keep near the top of our emotional toolboxes. So check back or sign up below so you can read part 2 of Everyone Senses Fear. Learn how to use your senses and mindfulness to manage fear. Enjoy the poem. I will also be adding it to this site's A Peek into Poetry" page. If you aren't familiar with that page, it is a child friendly video blog page. Have a look-see!
Finger box - page turn
White button on page - narration
Happy New Year! Wait, what..., is it really?
No, I'm not sure that it actually is. We are nine days into 2021 and:
Blogger's note: I do want to stress that your interpretation of this poem is not a confirmation of my motivation for writing it. This poem will take on personal meaning to you and you alone and I dare not influence how you interpret my words. The one thought I will cop to is that these words are a reminder to contemplate listening to your conscience. What your conscience is telling you goes from your heart tor your own ears.
I wish you all a happy and healthy 2021 and look forward to memes that celebrate a successful and peaceful transition from last year's poop show and our current cluckduckery to a "Breaking News" free, mundane, boring, day to day, week to week and month to month 2021. Oh wait, February begins another impeachment trial. Let me clarify: I wish you all a happy and healthy 2021 and look forward to... yada-yada-yada...month to month 2021, beginning in March, 2021.
Yay for boring!
Have you ever heard the saying "the eyes are the window into the soul"? That is exactly what came to mind when I came across this photo within a recent Facebook post, written by my husband of 30 years. He rarely posts, but when he does, it is important. He tagged me in the post and upon seeing it, I realized there was much more to the picture than meets the eye (definite pun intended). For me, this picture holds two hidden meanings. Bear with me while I elaborate, I think you will find it worth your next 3 minutes!
On one our family outings, my daughter decided to take and an extreme close up "eye selfie". Not only did she wind up with an awesome picture, she captured the essence of our family who can clearly be seen in her eye's reflection. Now, humor me by putting your finger on the picture. Move it from Hubby (8 o'clock) to Sarah's hand (to the right of the pupil) then to me (directly to the left of her pupil, and then to my son (1 o'clock). Your tracing is a jagged line within the unbroken circle that is her iris. Once again, bring your finger back to the picture and this time move it from Hubby, to Sarah's hand, to my son, to me and then back to Hubby. This time you have created a circle within a circle. I believe the tracings depict how we are forever connected within an unbroken circle. It doesn't matter whether the line is jagged or circular, it simply matters that the circle keeps the line safely within its boundaries.
NOW PRESS PLAY
The stem is meant to represent the growth of a family over time. It starts at the base and moves up, leading directly to the beautiful bloom. Few families are able to boast of avoiding an occasional thorn. It is more likely that most families are better represented by a pattern of growth that moves straight up at times, but then takes an hard turn, represented by the jaggedness of thorns. My belief is that because we are able to hold each other within our personal souls, at the very same time we are in the midst of plucking a thorn out of our family finger, the soul of our family is able to survive.
I set out to write a book that would tend to a family's garden, one that would fertilize the family and individual soul so that the family's growth line could trend towards the bloom. To do this, I had to create a literary environment that would enable an older generation to be in the same room as its younger counterpart, while also creating a means for them to engage in meaningful conversation, conversation that moves beyond "how was your day", followed by "fine" (end of conversation). I did it! The challenge I face now is bringing my novel idea to the masses, particularly when the masses are unable to come within six feet of another. There is hope, though. I only need to bring my novel solution (a weak pun, since a book of poetry is not a novel by definition) to one person at a time with one condition! That person needs to share the book with a younger person. The rest is a snap! Then, Grow with Me Poetry will facilitate the pair reading together and learning about each other. The actual content of the poetry taps into what faces our youth within the bubble of their world, while also encouraging them to discuss what their counterpart has already experienced. "If you aren't part of the solution you are part of the problem"; an adage I took to heart.
If I may...
The specific format of Grow with Me Poetry offers an adult a means to communicate with today's youth through the use of guided activities tailored to the poem that precedes them. Those activities include prompt questions as well as mini art activities. No need to seek out a journal or a canvas because each are supplied within the book. Since the poems' content mirrors the maturation of a child, the book becomes a timeline of their growth and more importantly, a reflection of the souls that read it.
If I may (twice)...
I used the picture of Sarah's eye as a muse for the following poem so that I could demonstrate the format of the book; a peek inside, if you will.
It was that last contemplation that had my train conductor blowing his whistle, compelling my emotion locomotion into high speed. You see, my children's stop motion video's plot is all about a plague in the times of kings and queens, more specifically, how the kingdom survives. I think you all know where this is going. In short, it is about face masks. Since I write poetry specifically for children, I wrote a Haiku story and then made it into a video poem. It was only afterwards that my thoughts flew off of the rails. What if people think I am writing a political piece, a statement of condemnation of those not wearing masks? What if people think I am stepping on their personal freedoms by even suggesting that masks "saved a nation". What if people think I hate our democracy and don't love my country? What if I offend 40% (give or take) of my readers??????
!These thoughts must STOP!
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can stop these thoughts!
Finally, I screeched my emotion locomotion to a halt. I wrote my Haiku story for a reason. Much of the nation (and the world for that matter) is trying to acclimate to a new normal and that normal includes wearing masks in certain situations. Whether or not we agree with the mandates/strong suggestions or practice is beside the point. My worry is that children are caught in their own Thomas the Train emotion locomotion. If a simple video poem can help stop or slow down their runaway train, then I pray the gamble is worth the risk of stirring up some adult emotion locomotion! However, If you think I might, then I am going to try to redirect your locomotion. Watch the video poem first; come at it with the mindset of a child who is trying to process what they are seeing in this new and strange COVID world. If you see fit, be a Sir Topem Hat, the Thomas the Train conductor, and direct yourselves to "A Peek into Poetry" so that you and your child might enjoy the video, along with the ensuing activities.
My goal for our childrens' emotion locomotion...
THE QUEEN SAVES THE DAY!
How long has it been since you cranked the handle of a jack- in-the-box, maybe 40 plus years? Maybe you are a child at heart and last cranked the handle only a few years ago. I suspect it depends on how you define a Jack-in-the-box. For the sake of this blog, let's work with a metaphor and define the "Jack" who lives in-the-box as any concept that by our/your action, causes something to happen; either concrete or conceptual. In that case, it could have been just yesterday!
Hatfield/McCoy style (oppositions),
racism/unbiased treatment of others
I am talking in absolutes here; sheer black and white - no gray zones for the time being. That being said, how can anything but racism, injustice, inequality and divisiveness be the first to have the top forced down on them with an added padlock for secure keeping.
There is one question that is bellowed out by many of you and within that bellow lies the gray zone:
Mind you, these are all rhetorical questions. I have my own opinions, but for the moment, I'm not going to let them out of the bag. As it pertains to children, your answers become critically important, particularly since children are sponges soaking up whatever their parents spill out. Initially, they have no capacity to determine if those opinions are valid or fair. They simply soak in the opinion and when squeezed, spew it right back out.
Time for introspection:
There are only two actions when it comes to a Jack-in-the-box; cranking the handle or sealing the top. If cranking the handle is about perpetuating racism, injustice, inequality and divisiveness then sealing the top conversely is creating a space for the equal treatment of others, justice, equality and unity. So knowing the parameters, think about where you fall in terms of passing along views/opinions/behaviors which are likely to have unintended consequences; mainly oppressive.
Creating a space for positive change is about your willingness to close the top of the Jack-in-the-box. That being said it's time to ask yourself: Are you cranking the handle or are you sealing the top.
In keeping with my poetic nature, I hope "The Jack-in-the=box" will compliment my musings.
As always, I welcome comments and shares.