About Me:

Aloha! I'm Wendy Kennar. I'm the mother of a seven-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 Wednesday, I post a personal essay offering my observations and thoughts.

A few fun facts about me: I've wanted to be a writer since second grade, when my teacher, Mrs. Jones, made me a "book" with a yellow construction paper cover. I have never learned to whistle, have always preferred sunflowers to roses, and have spent my life living within the same zip code.

Through the years, my writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, United Teacher, GreenPrints, L.A. Parent, DivineCaroline.com, RoleReboot.org, XOJane, and Brain, Child Magazine. 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, Breath and Shadow, The Grey Wolfe Storybook, and Sisters Born, Sisters Found.
I am a regular contributor at MomsLA.com, and you can also find me at Goodreads.

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

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Every front door should have a door mat.  
A welcome mat is a sign.  You’re leaving the outside world, about to enter the inside.  Things will be more calm, more peaceful, more clean.  You use the welcome mat to wipe the dirt off your shoes, wipe the grime from your rubber soles, wipe the frustration away.  You are home now.  You have reached your safe haven.
I’m guessing that the welcome mat was a practical solution to a common inconvenience  - “How do you stop mud and dirt from coming into your house?”  You wipe the bottom of your shoes off.  However, if you have gone out shopping for welcome mats, you know they go beyond your basic, bargain-priced welcome mat to luxurious welcome mats that cost more than I spend at the market each week.  
So what does it say about a dwelling if there is no welcome mat?  Do the occupants not care about tracking dirt through the house?  Do the residents immediately take off their shoes and find such a mat useless and thus a waste of money?  Do these residents just not care about details, about the message that a welcome mat sends to those visiting one’s house?
Then there is the flip side.  People who use welcome mats much the way they utilize the frame around their car’s license plate - to get a message across.  There are people who change their doormats to match the seasons and match the holidays.  There are people who use their doormats to advertise their family’s name and number of children.
For whatever the reason, these houses utilize a welcome mat with a message.  While on my neighborhood walks, I have found several welcome mats that caught my attention.  Here’s my list of recently-spotted, noteworthy welcome mats:
  1. Welcome to the jungle.
  2. Wipe your paws.
  3. Buzz off.
  4. Keep it green.
  5. Got dirt?
  6. Nice underwear
The welcome mat - practical, clean, and funny.  You can’t say that about too many things.  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Date With Pinkie

“We’re walking through a tunnel of trees.”
That’s what I heard a father say to his son.  And that’s exactly how I felt as I began the walk from the parking lot into the Huntington Library.
I was first introduced to the Huntington by someone I dated.  And maybe it was the person I was with, but I really didn’t appreciate the place as much as I do now.  For now, when I come to the Huntington, I take a deep breath.  I close my eyes, inhale deeply, and exhale slowly.  Suddenly, I’m in another world.  The high-speed freeway, the big rigs merging dangerously close - none of that is relevant now.  For now there’s quiet and open spaces and greenery.  
Being the people-watcher I am, I find fascination all around me.  Not just in the collections housed here, but in the people who come to the Huntington.  People who choose to visit wearing high heels and mini skirts.  In tennis shoes and big floppy hats.  In ripped jeans and motorcycle boots.  Pushed in strollers and pushed in wheelchairs.
Truthfully, though, I come to see her.  Pinkie.  After navigating the maze through opulent dining rooms and sitting rooms, I find her, waiting for me.  She is floating.  Ready to take off and soar into the clouds.  Her white dress flutters, her pink sash and ribbons dance in the breeze.  Her brown hair escapes from her bonnet.  Her steady gaze never wavers.  Pinkie first captured my attention when I was a young girl.  So much so, that a reproduction of Pinkie hangs in my living room.  I’ve grown accustomed to her there; I forget to pay attention to her, to give her the kind of attention she deserves.  But at the Huntington, in all her grand splendor, I sit and gaze and marvel at my Pinkie.
I stroll through the rose garden and find myself lacking in adjectives to describe their scents and hues.  I smile at their names - “Hot Cocoa” and “Queen Nefertiti.”
I rest under an “umbrella” tree - how else do I describe the far-reaching tree, with the oval-shaped leaves, that shelters me from the warm sun.
Here, there is a suspension of time and place, an opportunity for me to think, imagine, and remember.  I find peace and contentment here.  And I wonder why I don’t return more often.  Because of traffic, and schedules, and “to-do” lists - all the things that make a trip here necessary in the first place.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Minnie and Me

I don’t know exactly how old Minnie is.  I know that we got her before we moved into our current home.  And we’re living in our home for six years.
Did I mention Minnie is a houseplant?
I am a firm believer in naming plants and talking to them.  And I am honest enough to admit that as the years have gone by and my life has become fuller, I name fewer plants and talk to them less frequently.
But Minnie is different.  She’s been with us for a long time.  Before we had two cars.  Before we lived in a home with multiple bathrooms.  Before we became parents.
I can remember my husband working late nights, me alone in our apartment.  As I cleaned, I talked to Minnie about my day.  I shared with her what I had done and what I still had to do.  I complained to her when my husband left his dirty clothes on the floor instead of inside the laundry basket.  Minnie listened to my rants of frustration when I just couldn’t comprehend why another piece of home theater equipment was purchased by my husband.  Minnie was there for me.
I don’t talk to Minnie as much as I used to.  But I smile at her, look at her with fondness, affection, and gratitude.  Minnie has stuck by me all this time.  She’s been there.  She knows my secrets and she’ll keep them for me.  Always.
What would Minnie say if she could talk?  (Maybe I’ve watched too many snippets of Toy Story with my son that I am now imagining my plant thinking and talking).  Does she feel like she’s been a part of our journey?  A witness to a family evolving and growing?  What would she say of the arguments she’s witnessed, the laughter she’s heard, the bouncy balls my son has hurled at her leaves?
In our first apartment, Minnie used to reside in our bedroom.  Although Minnie now has a place of prominence in our dining room, she is still nestled in the same blue plastic pot with the scalloped edges that I bought at the 99 Cent Store, all those years ago.  She is queen of the black, circular side table from Ikea.  She sits beneath a copy of Van Gogh’s Cafe de Nuit;  her leaves stretching up towards Van Gogh’s vibrant yellow and reaching for the light shining through our dining room window.  
Not all plants “make it.”  Benji is one such plant.  Short for “Ficus Benjamina.”  He was about 3 feet tall when we bought him.  And he grew for several years.  But he didn’t like our new house.  Gradually, Benji lost his leaves and his life.  And yet, I still remember Benji’s name and the story behind it.
Minnie is another Ficus Benjamina.  But unlike Benji, she’s still thriving.  And it somehow seems unjust that I can’t remember why she shares her name with a famous mouse.  (We’re not Disneyland enthusiasts.)   
What does it say about Minnie that she’s still with us?  That she’s a “tough chick” as I like to think of myself (sometimes).  That she’s stubborn, persistent, and once she finds a place she likes she’s in no hurry to go anywhere (me, most of the time).  That she’s dedicated and loyal to her family (me, all the time).
Minnie and I - we’re in it for the long haul.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Enough is Enough

        I’m 34 years old, and I give up.  I admit defeat.  I won’t ever look like a mannequin, a Barbie doll, or a Victoria’s Secret model.  I will never be a size 2, have a completely clear complexion, or a flat stomach.
   It’s just not going to happen.  And damn, it’s taken me way too long to finally just say this and be done with it.
   I guess it was my stay in the hospital this summer that scared me.  I had spent so much mental energy worrying about the way I looked, believing that I just didn’t look “good enough.”  I hadn’t worried about my health, my body - never thinking it would suddenly fail me.
   So, now here it is.  Almost two months out of the hospital.  Still certain medical issues unresolved.  But, I’m relatively healthy.  I’m walking.  I’m caring for my son.  
   And it’s time I start celebrating the me I am.  Celebrating by looking in the mirror and saying something nice to myself.  Celebrating by wearing pretty underwear - with soft lace and fun designs.  Celebrating by turning my bathroom into a virtual fruit salad - with the scents of strawberry shampoo, rose-scented lotion, and lavender bubble bath.  Celebrating by polishing my nails in colors like Sugar Plum and Purple Pizzazz.  Celebrating by singing along to the radio while I drive.  Celebrating by smiling.  
   Smiling is a big one.  Because whatever is going on at work that will make me want to bang my head against the wall, I still have a multitude of reasons to smile.  And those reasons are all way more important than any inconveniences or frustrations that would make me frown.  
   Every year I remind my students that they are incredible human beings.  To this day, I am utterly amazed that with the billions of people on this planet, no two will ever be alike.  We are unique.  Individuals.  
   And yet, how stupid we are to take this beautiful gift for granted.  That’s the only way to explain how much time and energy most people spend trying to fit in and be like other people - look like other people, dress like other people.
   I’ve always been happy to be a little different - the person with sterling silver rings on almost every finger, the person who changes her earrings to match her outfits.  But, I’ve never really given myself enough credit for the woman I am.  I’ve always compared myself to women who I thought were prettier, thinner, sexier.  I’m not doing that any more. 
   I’m pretty enough.  Thin enough.  Sexy enough.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Serving My Time

It’s like detention for adults.
That’s how I felt as I sat in the Juror Assembly Room.  There I was, in a room with people who were being held against their will.  (Well, the majority of people feel this way anyway.  No disrespect is intended to people who look upon jury duty with eagerness and enthusiasm.)  
I had been summoned.  The dreaded envelope arrived in the mail, taunting me with its contents.  I understand that being a United States citizen comes with certain rights and certain obligations.  I appreciate that and respect that.  I understand that our justice system is dependent on citizens fulfilling their duties and obligations, which includes serving as a juror.  Jury duty is just one of those things I don’t enjoy.   
And being the somewhat-good-girl I am, I called in to report for jury duty.  (I am much too afraid to pretend that I never received the summons in the mail).  All clear all week, until a Friday morning in August.  And sitting in a room, with a diverse group of people around me is like standing before an all-you-can-eat-buffet the day you’re breaking a fast.  An overload of ideas, observations, thoughts for my writer brain to process.
Unlike high school detention, we didn’t have a specific assignment to complete as we sat in this room.  So, I did something I never do.  I sat.  For hours.  And read.  And wrote.  And worked on my lesson plan book.  And thought.  And waited.  And anyone who knows me, knows that sitting is not something I do on a regular basis.  At least not for hours.  In fact, many people in that room seemed fidgety and ill-at-ease.  Our days are high-speed, in every sense of the word, and these instructions are contrary to the behaviors and actions of most of our days. 
  I was passing the time the old-school way, meaning without any electronic devices.  Other prospective jurors used their iPhones, iPads, and laptops to stay connected to the world beyond the four walls that held us captive.  And how bizarre to think that not too long ago those devices didn’t exist.  At all.  Not too long ago, computers were so large they fit in rooms, and now they’re fitting in the palms of our hands.
Some changed seats to allow a better view of the television suspended in a front corner of the room.  News show in the morning, soap operas in the early afternoon, talk shows in the later afternoon.
Others dozed off, some going so for as to serenade the rest of us with their snoring.  Conversations were initiated between people sitting nearby, exchanging stories about prior jury duty experiences, lives outside the courthouse.  
It didn’t make the situation any more pleasant when one of the clerks announced that Drew Barrymore had not only sat in the same room a few months earlier but had actually served as a juror on a trial.  That’s fine and dandy.  Celebrities are not immune to the random call of jury duty.  After all, Jamie Lee Curtis and Ed Asner had their proud and happy pictures hanging on the walls, proof they had completed their jury duty service.  But I’m not a celebrity.  I’m a mom who was paying a babysitter to spend the day with my son while I sat in a room, waiting.
Unlike high school detention, we, perspective jurors had the benefits of age and wisdom (hopefully).  We knew this uncomfortable, unfortunate situation wouldn’t go on forever.  High school felt like it would.  Felt like it would never end.  Felt like we would never be free.  
We all knew, sitting in that room, that whatever the fates had in store for us, this jury service would end - either later that day or in about a week.
I’ve really tried to be “glass-half-full” about jury duty.  And as such, I could look at it as a brief time-out from my everyday life.  I am given permission to slow down, sit, and read -virtually uninterrupted (until the next batch of names is called and instructed to report to a room on another floor).  When I put it that way, jury duty doesn’t sound like such a terrible thing after all.  
(Then again, in all fairness, I must disclose that I was never selected to be a part of a jury and my service was complete in that day, simply by reading my book).