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!

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.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Reasons to Celebrate


   My son just turned 6 1/2 years old.  Remember when that “half” was of the utmost importance?  Remember grimacing with displeasure when a parent had the audacity to describe you as six when you were really six-and-a-half?  That half made a big difference.  

   There are some people who think that only the “big” birthdays and anniversaries deserve big celebrations.  And by “big,” I mean “milestone” occasions that end with a five (twenty-fifth wedding anniversary) or a zero (thirtieth birthday).  I’m not one of those people.  For the first few years of Ryan’s life, we took his picture each month on the 30th (he was born on March 30th).  In that early period of his life, it seemed that he was always growing, always changing, and I wanted to document those monthly changes.  And personally, I don’t think turning thirty-eight was any less special than turning thirty.  If anything, I have even more appreciation for my many blessings and more reasons to celebrate. 

   Likewise, I don’t think wedding anniversaries don’t need to be celebrated only once a year.  My husband and I have a tradition of exchanging a card each month on the 14th (we were wed on February 14th).  

   These last few years have shown me first-hand how unpredictable life is.  In hindsight, I think I spent too much time taking my life for granted.  I was busy planning, checking things off my to-do lists, taking care of everyone around me (but me).  So now I think it’s time to celebrate each day in some way, and certainly my son’s half-year birthday is one of those days.

   No, we didn’t have a cake and a multitude of presents that will certainly accompany my son’s seventh birthday.  But, there was a special note in my son’s lunch box and a surprise present waiting for him after school.  After all, celebrations don’t need to be extravagant and lavish.  They just need to be sincere.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm Thinking Of ...




   My son, husband, and I often play a guessing game.  It’s a great way to pass the time when we’re out at a restaurant waiting for our food.  It requires no batteries, no extra parts; just the three of us, thinking and talking.  

   We give each other riddles.  I’m thinking of an animal that can swim in the water and hop around on land.  When it’s younger it has a tail.  It has a long tongue.  (A frog).

   Recently, I adapted the game so it became a biography version.  I’m thinking of a man who has a very important job.  He is also a husband and a daddy to two daughters.  He’s lived in many places including Hawaii and Indonesia, but now he lives in Washington D.C.  (President Obama)

   The biographies version was new which meant that my son wanted to keep playing it.  Over and over.  The longer we played, the more I had to really think about who I could translate into clues.  I thought of people my son has learned about in school (Andy Warhol, Rosa Parks), and people he’s learned about at home (van Gogh, Monet, Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Michael Jordan).  And I noticed that almost all my clues began with “I’m thinking of a man.”  

   Because I’ve taught for twelve years, I had plenty of women I could have described; after all, I used to make my upper-grade students complete a Women’s History Month Project each March.  But my son is in first grade, and school hasn’t exposed him to many  influential women.  (Yet).

   And that’s when I felt like I had shortchanged my son.  Have I somehow dropped the ball by not exposing my son to more women?  Is it my fault or am I being too hard on myself (something I am apt to do)?  I thought about what we’ve introduced him to, what’s in our home.  There are the Baby Monet and Baby van Gogh DVDs from the Little Einstein Company that first got my son interested in the work of those great artists.  And truthfully certain figures, such as Dr. Seuss and Michael Jordan, are incomparable.

   On the other hand, I never did go through our home and count the number of male artists that are represented by the pieces hanging on our walls, and I’ve never tallied up how many female authors have written the books that are on my son’s bookcases.  So while there’s a part of me that doesn’t feel it’s overly important (he is only six after all), I do want my son to understand that men and women, of all different backgrounds, are capable of, and have produced, some fantastic work. 

   And someday, he’ll be one of them!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Monica-esque Ways




   Friends went off the air ten years ago.  (Gasp - has it been that long already?)  Yet I still refer to it, often.  And it occurs to me that I have my own peculiar “Monica Geller-like” qualities.

   Remember Monica?  She was the “neat freak,” the “compulsive cleaner,” the one who categorized her towels.  And while I don’t think I’m compulsive, I do think I’ve got my own unique set of cleaning quirks.  And I really don’t know if they make me any neater, or our house any cleaner.  I do know that while I am a fan of short-cuts and tricks that make life easier, I can’t seem to let go of these unusual habits of mine.  I know they make more work for me, and yet I am compelled to continue doing them.

   Here it is -- I need to rotate things.  Things as in -- Shirts.  Underwear.  Plates.  Dishtowels.  Linen napkins.  Bed sheets.  Flatware.

   Let me explain.  Freshly laundered shirts and underwear are folded but not automatically placed in my son’s dresser.  Instead, they are each placed at the bottom of their respective piles -- underneath the shirts and underwear that have yet to be worn.

   Dishes and flatware out of the dishwasher are not just put back in the kitchen cabinet and drawer.  Instead, the clean plates come out, the freshly washed plates are placed in the cabinet, and the as-yet-unused plates are now at the top of the pile and will be first used during our next meal.

   And on it goes.  Same steps, same process for the towels, sheets, and napkins.

   On the one hand, I think my rotations make sense.  Rotating items means I’m not over-using any one item.  But because I’m a thinker, I wonder if there’s some sort of deeper psychological motive behind my need to rotate objects.

   I am a middle-child after all, a fact that can be “blamed” for my need to please, to be diplomatic, and easy-going.

   Maybe it’s because I was a public school teacher for twelve years and spent considerable effort making sure all my students were treated fairly and were given the same opportunities to read aloud, come to the board, and be an office helper.

   Whatever the underlying reason, it’s “how” I do things.  Maybe the “why” isn’t important.  After all, Monica didn’t run around that expansive apartment of hers justifying all her cleaning habits.