Monday, June 13, 2011


It was a hot June afternoon. The gnats dove in and around our faces promising to become a part of our very breath. The sun shone down while the small gathering of people closed in to congregate around us.

"Love is patient. Love is kind..." were the words being uttered by our friend, the plumber who was also a rabbi.

As I gazed into my soon-to-be husband's eyes, noticing the glistening of tears fringed on the edge of his lashes, I was caught up in the magnitude of the moment. Sure, we'd been together for nine and half years. It had become a joke to some of our friends and family who liked to predict just when we would get married.


That was the word in my head. And the description used in our invitation.

We quickly repeated our vows, my husband never looking away from me, never suspending his smile.

And it was that smile and the way he gazed at me that locked me into the moment. I don't remember the specific vows and I don't remember who was standing in particular places all around us.

I only remember who was standing before me.

And it was our moment. Finally.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


When I was 14 years old, my mother, sister and I went to spend a couple of weeks in Denver, Colorado with my aunt, uncle and two cousins. We absolutely loved the sights and sounds of the Great Rocky Mountains and enjoyed eating at many of the restaurants the locale had to offer. Eating out probably doesn't seem like a big deal but when you are being raised by a mother and step-father who prided themselves on the spices they used, salt AND pepper, getting to eat in places that served food that had FLAVOR was a huge deal.

The Yum Yum Tree had a name that appealed to mine and my sister's 14 and 13 year-old selves. Plus, we'd seen the commercials about how "every type of cuisine could be found under one roof for the low, low price of..." I don't remember the cost but according the adults, it was expensive. At least by 1980 standards. Still, we wanted to go.

Persistence is something both my sister and I pride ourselves on and we eventually wore down the adults. We were headed to the Yum Yum Tree! When we got there, it was like an amusement park of food. Italian food. Mexican food. Chinese food. Japanese food (which my mother quickly forbade us to go to once she saw the sushi). German food. British food. Basically, you think of the type of food and it was there. I was in gastrointestinal heaven!

As I perused each of the nationalities and their offerings I heard my mother warning me to not do to much. "All that funny stuff will hurt your stomach," she promised.

I ate and I ate and I ate - savoring each morsel of food with flavor. There were delicacies I had never dreamed of and it all went down filling me to the point of uncomfortable. My mother, being ever so cautious, stuck with tried and true offerings proclaiming some of them as not good. "Ew. This spaghetti sauce is so garlicky," she would say as she pushed her plate away.

After we'd eaten more than our fill, we all went into the connecting mall (yeah, it was one of those types of restaurants attracting mall rats) so that we could walk around with our extended guts. It was in the middle of one of those big department stores that my mother loves so much when she suddenly grabbed her stomach and grimaced. Truthfully, I didn't think much of it at the time as my sweet mother was and is rather delicate and was and is often complaining of some ache or pain.

All of a sudden, my mother's face went pale and she mummered with clenched teeth, "We need to find a bathroom now!"

We quickly dashed about the department store finally locating a bathroom in the back corner, near the men's department. But it was too late. She'd already shit her pants.

My mother had shit her pants!

My sister and I, being the good girls we were, fell apart laughing. I realize that a bit of sympathy might have gone a long way but really... my mother shit her pants! It was hilarious!

After we finally were able to calm down and wipe our tears away, my mother handed us her credit card from under the bathroom stall.

"Go buy me some new underwear! Right now!" It was obvious that mom was not amused.

My sister and I walked around the big department store finally locating the women's unmentionable section. After browsing through the choices, we found a pair of panties with meatballs on them. Seriously. Meatballs. And. We. Had. To. Get. Them.

We took the underwear to the clerk who gave us funny looks as we paid for the goods with our mother's credit card. We were falling all over ourselves laughing as we made our way back to the bathroom where my mother was still under lockdown with her shitty britches. When she saw the underwear we chose, she started to laugh.

Funny how playing it safe was the crappy way to go that night.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Teacher's Daughter

Currently, I am participating in a local group of the National Writing Project. We have intense classes that meet for the entire month of June. One of the class requirements was to write a "memoir" about something that happened to you in your life. For whatever reason, this was the story I pulled from my rear. I really would like some honest feedback on what needs to be edited, changed, deleted, etc.

I hope you are all having a great summer!

Being the child of an educator hasn’t always been easy. In fact, at times, it has downright stunk. The opportunity to tell my side of the story was rarely given and once my teacher contacted my mother to tell her of my shortcomings, I was in for some serious punishments. For instance, my mother was not humored when I made my first F in Science, though I had a fabulous plan to make that F so that I could get out of the gifted class and escape the teacher who had no patience with me and my energy level. My mother was not amused and shut me in my room as I desperately tried to get her to see my way of thinking.

Basically, my version of the events never mattered when I got into trouble with a teacher. Except for one time.

When I started the eighth grade at the Junior High as an unconfident and awkward thirteen year old dealing with braces and random acne outbreaks who had recently lost her father to cancer, I didn’t have the skills or emotional maturity yet under my belt to deal with the likes of Mrs. B. Mrs. B was a mammoth of a lady who was quick with a frown and slow to move across the room to help a floundering student. From the moment I walked in the door of her math class, I was suddenly aware of being on her radar, much like a duck in a hunter’s sight. I had heard the stories of poor souls who would wither under her tutelage in that last class on the left at the end of the hall.

Within days, I would learn that I could do nothing right. When called upon, she would interrupt me and tell me that I “had better start paying attention” because she was sick of students like me who didn’t take school seriously. The more these comments were made, the more I retreated and the less my mind focused on what she was teaching. Suddenly, I found myself feeling lost and helpless as to what to do to make the situation better. At the same time, I was falling hopelessly behind in the math material being shoved our way.

Talking to my mother was out of the question. The loss of my father combined with her old-school support of ALL teachers made it a rough emotional time. Add in my teenage angst and it was a recipe for disaster. It probably didn’t help that I had a history of being a bit of a challenge in the classroom.

Then came that fateful Wednesday afternoon. Math was the last class of the day and I dreaded it from the moment I awoke each day. On that particular day, Mrs. B called me to the board to work out a problem that seemed particularly vexing. When I couldn’t do it, she chastised me and had me continue to stand there for the remainder of the period. Fighting tears, I resolved to not cry. I simply faced the board with my hands in fists blinking back the tears that promised to betray me.

As the bell rang, I was told to stay there at the board because she was keeping me after school for detention. She muttered something about talking with my mother about my attitude, work ethic and how I “didn’t need to be smoking ‘mary-jew-anna’.” The panic of the impending consequences from my mother made me feel nauseous as I felt my face turning red. Wanting to say something... anything... but feeling frozen in time, I stood there waiting for something to happen.

Time passed slowly as Mrs. B sat at her table grading papers. Her flabby flesh spilled over the sides of her chair, as I listened to the scratch of pen on the paper as she vehemently attacked student work with a red pen in her paw. I worried what my mother would think when I wasn’t standing in front of the school with my sister for her to pick us up. After what felt like a life time of standing at the board, I heard my mother’s voice and I shrank even further into myself ashamed of the situation I was in. The teacher sent me to the hall so that she could talk to my mother about my issues.

While I couldn’t hear what the teacher had to say to my mother, I could hear my mother. And she was on my team! I don’t know how she knew that I was so beaten down. Maybe it was a mother’s intuition or maybe she’d heard some of the same rumors I’d heard before gracing the doors of Mrs. B’s classroom. She was furious and the mama bear in her came out with a vengeance. “As a teacher, you should know better than to falsely accuse a child” along with “you have no business teaching not only my child but any children” were harshly spat at Mrs. B. My heart raced as this verbal exchange escalated to a stormy frenzy.

Suddenly, the door slung open as my mother grabbed my arm and began marching to the office, feet clomping loudly on the tile floor. Her eyes were blazing as she demanded that I be removed from Mrs. B’s class. The relief that overcame me caused those tears to come flowing out. As I stood there hiccuping back my sobs and listening to my mother tell the principal that he could just un-enroll me from school because I wouldn’t be back, I never loved my mother more than I did at that moment. It would be the instant when I knew my mother would stand up for me when it mattered most. I was, after all, her daughter.