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, February 23, 2011

“Coffee and Friends Make the Perfect Blend"

   I found the sentiment above in a charming calendar I received in the mail from an organization hoping to lure a monetary donation from me.  The statement caught my attention and made me take notice that so many of my relationships do have a connection with coffee.
Foremost, a first date back in 1997.  We ended up at Starbucks because we couldn’t decide on a movie to see.  So we sat and talked and drank cafe mochas with whip cream.  We talked about our college classes, my hot air balloon ride with my dad, and our families.  Out of self-consciousness, I took out my wallet and showed school photos of my younger sister.  This man I enjoyed coffee with became my husband two years later.
I remember taking the subway downtown to visit an exhibition at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles.  I don’t remember the exhibition, but I do remember spending time with my dad, on one of our “Daddy-Daughter Dates.”  And I remember treating him to his first Coffee Bean coffee.
I miss my Tuesday mornings with MB.  That was our time to lesson plan, strategize, and drink Coffee Bean.  MB and I alternated days to treat.  And when finances were tight, we improvised with microwaved hot chocolate or bottles of Starbucks Frappuccinos brought from home.  Our time had a practical purpose - we got our necessary work done.  But it was the conversations and the laughs that meant the most to me.
Both Starbucks and Coffee Bean remain favorite spots to meet friends and share heartfelt conversations.  Many of these conversations resonate long after our drinks have been consumed.  Maybe it’s the intimacy of the establishment, the small tables and chairs pushed close to each other, that requires two people to focus and really listen to what the other is saying. 
Now, as a mother, wife, and teacher, I cherish my limited “Wendy-time.”  Sometimes, this time finds me in a bookstore cafe, savoring a drink and a chocolate chip cookie.  Other times, I find myself in the neighborhood, slowly sipping, enjoying some time to read a novel and write my blog.
The funny part is - I’m not a coffee drinker.  I don’t like “regular coffee;” I drink apple juice with my breakfast each morning.  For me, these drinks are a chocolately treat.  And getting to share these beverages with someone special makes them so much sweeter!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Footprints on My Heart

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”
      Someone once told me you’re friends with certain people during different periods of your life.  The person you are then finds kinship with someone.  You are friends for that period of time.  Certain friendships, certain relationships, don’t endure.  They don’t, or can’t, last beyond that brief period of time - whether it be middle school, college, or the first year on the job.  Their brevity, however, doesn’t diminish their value.  
In less than a month, I will be turning “35,” and have found myself thinking more and more about some of the people I have had relationships with during the course of my life.  For whatever the reason, these people and I crossed paths.  Their influence lives within me, still.  I remember not just their faces, but the way I felt with them.  Their memory lives on as does the person I was at that time.  They came into my life and somehow or another, played a part in me traveling this road and getting to this point.
There was Rosemary, my friend during junior high.  The girl who would beautify me when she “french-braided” my hair during lunch.  The girl I talked to about shaving our legs; hers before mine.  She was boisterous and fun and confident.  The opposite of my quiet, shy, insecure self.  At the time, I constantly wondered why she’d want to be friends with someone like me (aside from help with her math homework). 
And I wonder what happened to the elderly man who wore the gray “Members Only” jacket?  Saturday and Sunday mornings found me at work in a Beverly Hills flower shop.  When he walked by, we’d smile at each other.  Over time, he began to walk closer to our open shop door, lean inside, and wave.  I never did find out that man’s name.  Never left my morning post to say “Hello” and introduce myself.  I always looked forward to seeing my “man-friend” out on his walk.  His presence gave me a sense of comfort and familiarity, almost like a grandpa walking by and keeping an eye out for me.  When I quit my job, I wondered about my “man-friend.”  Wondered what he would think the next time he walked by and didn’t see me.  I hoped he somehow knew that I was thinking of him.  
Jenny was my best friend during my community college years.  The girl I hung out with at the pizza restaurant across the street, feeding the jukebox quarters so we could hear Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and Roy Orbison’s “Crying.”  We acted like tourists in our own town, spending our spring break exploring popular destinations, using public transportation.  Jenny was the first friend I ever said “I love you” to.  She was the girl I spoke to about dating, and the girl who introduced me to the first man I dated.
And then there is that man, “E.”  The first man I dated, the first man I kissed.  Does he remember me?  My memories of him have dulled considerably over time, but I remember his white pick-up truck, his bad habit of forgetting his wallet when we went out to dinner, our Indian food dinner.  I remember the white jean skirt I wore on the night we first kissed.  And, I remember wondering why this man was spending his time with me?
I remember many classmates and colleagues.  People I worked with and became friendly with.  If not necessarily my friend, they were still familiar faces.  “Green” was the name of the girl who helped train me during my first day of work at the library.  “AW” was the girl I often worked nights with at the flower shop, and after closing up, we’d go to Johnny Rockets for a late hamburger.  I remember another Wendy who sometimes rode the bus with me for part of my commute from CSUN.
For others, I remember faces and incidents and yet, can’t remember the names of the people involved.  I remember the guy from my Speech class who wrote me a note that unsettled me so much I knew I’d never get in a car with him.  I remember a college classmate with long, dark, curly hair and our breakfast at the Farmer’s Market.  I remember her fondly speaking of her family trip to Yosemite.
Whether I’m aware of it or not, these people have crept into my soul, have participated in my past and played a part in my present.  I am reminded of a quote from Under the Tuscan Sun, authored by Frances Mayes:
Any arbitrary turning along the way and I would be elsewhere.  I would be different.”  
That statement gives me hope and reassurance.  My life is unfolding the way it was meant to, and all the people I have spent time with and allowed into my heart have, in some way, shaped the person I am today.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Let's Play

I remember my grandma playing solitaire.  I can still see her hands, marked with age spots and arthritis, shuffling the cards, setting them up, seven across.  When I was young, I couldn’t figure out what she was doing; I didn’t recognize the pattern.  I soon learned.  
Solitaire was a great escape.  It helped me pass the time when I was stuck inside my elementary school classroom on rainy days.  Later, I played solitaire at home, sitting cross-legged on the floor, in front of our coffee table, listening to a cassette on my walkman, and losing myself in the red-black-red-black pattern.  The “King, Queen, Jack pattern” were so much easier to figure out than my trigonometry formulas.
When I got my first laptop, solitaire was there waiting for me.  It was my reward.  I’d make deals with myself.  Write two pages, and I could play a game.  But, solitaire was addicting.  If one game didn’t go well, I’d convince myself I deserved another try.
Later still, my husband purchased a Nintendo DS.  I’m not a video game person, but I was introduced to Sudoku.  Soon, I was the one playing with that DS.  Sudoku was great the summer I had my wisdom teeth removed.  When the pain awakened me from sleep, and I didn’t want to disturb my snoring husband, I’d come downstairs, take my pain pills, and play Sudoku.  The pain was too intense for me to concentrate on reading, and I’m a voracious reader.  But something about Sudoku worked to pass the time.  As an added bonus, I felt like I was doing something much more educational than mindlessly flipping channels, watching commercials for products I was never going to order.
Now, it’s Bejeweled that has me hooked, and on another device -  my husband’s iPhone.  I am, in no way, a high-tech person.  I recognize the value and convenience these items provide us but that doesn’t mean I want one for myself.  Bejeweled is the only thing I do on a regular basis on that iPhone.  There’s something about the pretty colored stones, falling into place.  The question of what level can I get to today?  How can I line up these different colors in the best combinations?
What is it about these games?  Why are they so addictive?  Why do they keep us coming back for more?
For me, I think there’s a certain order they provide.  Everything goes in its place; there are patterns to be found.  And right now, my life feels so out-of-balance, so lacking order, that these games give me some sort of escape.  So many aspects of my life are beyond my control right now.  I feel as if I’m strapped on some roller coaster.  I can’t stop it, can’t see what twist or turn lies ahead.  All I can do is hang on, ride it out, and scream. 
With these games, I have the option of starting again.  I know I can do better.  I just got off to a bad start.  It doesn’t work that way in life.  A bad day at work must be worked through.  A sleepless night with my toddler son ready to party at 3 a.m. must be dealt with, awake.  There are no do-overs.  
Or, maybe it’s because with these games we understand the coveted result.  We know the outcome our attention and strategies are to yield. In life, we progress young to old not always sure what to do, where each decision will lead us, or what the outcome should look like.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Don't Know Why

They say the mind works in mysterious ways.  I agree;  especially when it comes to my mind.  Sometimes I can’t follow my own train-of-thought; how I’ll be cooking spaghetti one minute and then remembering that I soon need to buy stamps.
Recently, an “I” list came to my mind.  “I” referring to countries that begin with the letter “I.”  (And please, no offense or insult is intended in this list.  This is an “In-my-opinion-I-list.”)
Here’s my list:
“I” Countries I Don’t Want to Visit:
“I” Countries I Do Want to Visit:
“I” Country I’m Undecided About Visiting:
Even now, after re-reading my list, I can’t figure out why I’ve written it.  I have no immediate travel plans.  Certainly no international (another “i” word) travel plans.  And yet, for the last week or so, these countries are swirling around in my head until they’re mushed up like a baby’s bananas.  
I wonder why ...