About Me:

Aloha! I'm Wendy Kennar. I'm the mother of a six-year-old son and a wife living in Los Angeles. I was a public school teacher for twelve years until a chronic medical condition made it necessary to leave my teaching career.

I've always been described as "quiet" - really, I'm just biting my tongue. I've got lots to say, and lots of thoughts to share, I just prefer to write them. That's the purpose of this blog. Each week, I post a personal essay offering my observations and thoughts.

Through the years, my writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, United Teacher, GreenPrints, L.A. Parent, and DivineCaroline.com. Additionally, my personal essays have been included in several anthologies, including: The Barefoot Review, Beyond the Diaper Bag, Lessons From My Parents, Write for Light, Being a Grown-Up: A User's Manual for the Real World, Ka-Pow!, How Writing Can Get You Through Tough Times, and Breath and Shadow. I am also a regular contributor at MomsLA.com.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Feel free to comment and share my blog with others!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Book-a-Week Challenge


   I’m currently enrolled in an eight-week writing course through UCLA Extension.  It’s a course offered by an instructor I really like; the same woman who ran the writing retreat I attended back in May.  (Here’s the link to the blog I wrote about it:  http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2014/05/writing-driving-and-metaphor-for-life.html).  It’s a course I’ve wanted to take for some time, but because it’s offered on Tuesdays from 10 am to 1 pm, teaching had always prohibited my participation.  

   There is something so energizing about being surrounded by other writers.  Generally I write by myself -- either at home or at one of my favorite local haunts.  (And really, I write outside my home just so I’m not distracted by things to do at home.)  Being in a class setting, however, provides an energy and support system that isn’t entirely there when you take an online course (which is what I would periodically do while I was teaching).

   Each week, we’ve got writing assignments to complete and each day, we’re supposed to be writing in a daily journal.  I haven’t kept a daily journal for many years, but dutifully started one after our first class meeting.  And, each week, we’re supposed to read a book (either a collection of essays or a memoir).  

   That last requirement is the most difficult one for me.  I’m not taking this class for a grade or to earn units that can be converted to salary points.  I’m taking this class for personal fulfillment.  And even though I wouldn’t be punished for not completing my homework, I want to be honest and respectful to my instructor, a woman I really like and whose writing insights I value.  So, I’m trudging away, trying to read my one book a week.


Week 1 -- Delia Ephron’s Sister Mother Husband Dog (Etc.)
Week 2 -- Sara Nelson’s So Many Books, So Little Time
Week 3 -- Ann Patchett’s This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage


   I enjoy reading.  I’m constantly reading, often more than one book at a time.  And I don’t just limit myself to books.  I’m also reading magazines and the Sunday Times (Here’s the link to the blog I wrote about reading the Sunday L.A. Times:  http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2014/10/my-sunday-chore.html).  So there’s a lot of reading to do and a short amount of time in which to get it done.

   Furthermore, there’s two different ways to read.  I can read as a reader and get lost in the story that the author is telling me.  I can lose track of time, block out my surroundings, and escape into the book.  And, I can read as a writer.  I can read while examining the story in hopes of understanding the author’s craft and method.  I can notice the way the author introduces her subject, the way the author concludes the essay.  I am reading in hopes of gaining insight and information I can apply to my own writing.

   As an added bonus, this book-a-week-deadline means I should have no problem meeting my Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge.  


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Stressed or Desserts? It's All About Perspective


   A “palindrome” is a number or word that reads the same way frontwards and backwards.  I used to teach my kindergarten students about it when we were counting the days of school and writing our 100 Chart.  We’d circle our palindromes (11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88, 99) with a purple marker, and soon they began to notice that these numbers were forming on a diagonal line across our chart.

   With my upper-grade students it was fun to point out words that were palindromes.  Common examples are “mom,” “dad,” and “wow.”  Longer words like “race car” and “kayak” were clever examples that captured the attention of my ten-year-old students.

   Because I am a writer and constantly thinking about words, I’ve been considering “anadromes” -- words that read differently when read backwards.  “War” is “raw.”  “Lived” is “devil.”  “Evil” is “live.”  “Stressed” is “desserts.”  And I wonder if, for these words, being an anadrome is more than just a coincidence.

   War is raw, after all.  The violence, the savagery, the fight for survival.  It is the epitome of rawness.  In my opinion, to have fully lived, most likely means you have either lived devil-like (in some way) or interacted with someone who has seemed devilish.  Similarly, to witness evil and/or to behave in an evil manner, is to live.  It is a part of life.  And then there is the feeling of being stressed. Most of us tend to crave sweet and decadent desserts during times of great stress.

   I think this coexistence of words is a reminder.  You can’t have, and can’t fully appreciate, good without bad.  Right without wrong.  Happy without sad.  

   It’s easy, though, to get caught up in just one perspective of a situation.  Evil does exist, people do get stressed.  

   The point is to remember that the tides will turn. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Favorite Road Trip

Dear Readers,

What's your favorite road trip?  AAA asked readers of its Westways Magazine that question.  You can read my response (as well as many others) on their website.  Here's the link:

http://ww1.calif.aaa.com/westways/2014/10/Pages/reader-road-trip-memories.aspx

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Grey Wolfe Storybook

Dear Readers:

The holiday season is fast approaching, so let me make a suggestion.  The Grey Wolfe Storybook is a new anthology that celebrates childhood.  I am pleased to say that it includes my "A to Z List of Childhood Memories" is included along with a wide range of other stories and essays.  Additionally, proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit special needs children living in Michigan.

Here's the Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Grey-Wolfe-Storybook-2014/dp/162828045X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413770482&sr=1-1&keywords=grey+wolfe+storybook

As always thank you for reading,
Wendy

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Sunday Chore





               We get the Los Angeles Times delivered once a week, on Sunday.  Back when I was teaching, it was not uncommon for me to take almost a week to read the sections I wanted to read.  Now, without a full-time out-of-the-house job, I can get the paper read within a few days.

   I know I can read the paper online, catch up on the latest news with clicks and swipes.  But I’m old-fashioned in many ways and prefer holding a newspaper in my hand, hearing the rustling and crinkling as I turn to the next page, and getting my fingertips smudged from the black ink.

   We began subscribing to the Sunday Times for one reason -- the coupons.  I wanted, and needed, to browse through the coupons finding ways to shave off 50 cents from the price of toilet paper or toothpaste.  And now, years later, my favorite section of the paper is still the coupons and sale papers (the circulars for stores like Target and Kmart).

   As a young girl, I loved reading the Travel section, saving articles about locales that intrigued me, ripping out ads for flights to Paris.  Now, most of the Travel section seems unrelated to me.  I’m not getting on an airplane any time soon, which rules out quite a few destinations.  And many of the drivable destinations written about include information about hotels and/or restaurants far out of our price range.

   When I retrieve the paper from our front step, I separate it into three piles:  the headed-straight-for-recycling pile (business, real estate, ads for stores we don’t shop at), my husband’s pile (Sports, Comics, the Best Buy ad), and my pile (everything else).

   Lately though, I have come to regard my to-be-read pile as another Sunday chore I need to get through.  So like other chores, I get through the worst of it first.  Meaning I read the main section and the California section.  Most of the articles are about war, destruction, death, poverty.  In other words -- the worst examples of our human race.

   After that I can go on to lighter reads such as the Travel section, the Calendar, and the Arts and Books.  (My husband gets the Calendar and Arts and Books after I’m done with them).  Sometimes I’m tempted to skip most of the paper all together.  There are far too many books I want to read, and while I read every day, I never feel as if I have enough time or energy to read as much as I’d like.  I do still continue to read the Sunday paper though, because in all honesty, I’m not always as up-to-date on current news as maybe I should be.  I don’t begin or end my day with the news, by choice.  Again, I don’t want more information (accompanied with images and sounds) reminding me that humans are the only species that kill themselves. 

   In the meantime, the paper will continue to be delivered once a week.  And since it’s there, I will most likely continue reading it.  And like other chores, I may not enjoy the entire process, I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I’ve done it.


Friday, October 10, 2014

I'm a Finalist!!

Dear Readers,

It makes me very proud to share some news with you.  My personal essay, "Abled," has been selected as a non-fiction finalist for the creative writing contest in the Pen 2 Paper Creative Writing Contest.  Winners will be announced during the week of November 3rd.

Here's the link to the website, where you may read my essay (and the other finalists too).

http://www.txdisabilities.org/news-events/pen-2-paper

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

One Step at a Time




   The trash can next to my desk shows some famous sites of Paris -- the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, the Arc de Triomphe.  My son has asked me about them, and I’ve identified them for him.  I’ve told him how we rode an elevator up to the second level of the Eiffel Tower.  And I told him that his Daddy and I actually walked up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.  

   That was during the spring of 2005.  On one of our overly-filled days, we explored the Louvre, strolled down the Champs-Elysees, and arrived at the Arc de Triomphe.  Truthfully, we didn’t plan on climbing to the top.  We thought there was an elevator that would take us to the top for our panoramic view.  We were wrong.  

                               Before the climb                                

   I found the journal I kept during that trip and re-read what I wrote regarding that particular adventure:

   We stood across the street from the Arc, under it, admiring the details.  Saw flowers and the flame burning for the Unknown Soldier.  We decided we wanted to go to the top.  Little did we know that meant climbing more than 200 stairs up a circular staircase and then those same 200+ stairs back down.  I was huffing and puffing and had to use my inhaler.  

   The view was incredible.

   Re-reading that passage serves as a good reminder to me.  Certain things are just plain difficult, and exhausting, and challenging regardless of my current medical condition.  And certain things are absolutely worth the pain and fatigue that occur afterwards.

                                After the climb

   We were thoroughly exhausted afterwards, but we did it.  And the next time I’m in Paris, I’d do it again.  Opportunities to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe don’t present themselves every day.  And life is all about recognizing those opportunities and seizing them.  

   Although, if there’s an elevator available, you’ll find me on it.  After all, the view at the top will be the same regardless of how I arrived there.