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, October 26, 2011

Think Different

   In our house, he was referred to as “Stevie.”  To everyone else, he was Steve Jobs.  But when you’re married to someone who works for Apple, Stevie isn’t always your favorite person.  Stevie is the guy dangling the newest toy in front of the child (or in this case, my husband) and I have to be the strict mom (or in this case, the no-fun wife when I say, “You don’t need that.”)
   Because let’s face it, most of what Stevie introduced to the world we don’t actually need.  His tools are helpful and beneficial, but not absolutely necessary.
   Stevie’s keynotes were a source of excitement and anticipation for my husband (What did Santa bring?) and a source of dread for me (How much will this cost?).  
   Stevie’s premature passing has got me thinking about him in a different sense.  Whether or not you’re an Apple fan, there’s no denying Steve Jobs was internationally influential.  Steve Jobs knew people in all industries, had a multitude of resources available to him, and yet, it still wasn’t enough.
   Because no matter how lightweight a computer becomes, how small an iPod, there are certain things that are still beyond human understanding.  Why do some people get sick and not others?  Why can’t all ailments be cured?  
   I think Stevie didn’t just advertise Apple products, but a way of living.  Be comfortable with who you are.  (He never seemed to stray from his tennis shoes, black shirt, and blue jeans for his keynote addresses).  Live passionately.  (Even I could see his enthusiasm and excitement for his products).  Think different.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

D-I-Y Life Improvement

   If you’re not familiar with Ikea, the short explanation is that Ikea is a furniture store. Ikea, though, has evolved into more than a furniture store.  It now advertises itself as “The Life Improvement Store.”  
   That’s quite a claim to make.
   I think most people are looking for some way(s) to improve their lives.  Whether shorter commutes, a better phone plan, a more efficient way to clean the bathroom - we’re all looking for ways to improve our lives.  Can Ikea really do it, though?
   First off, let’s remember that most products purchased at Ikea require assembly.  They are do-it-yourselfers.  And, isn’t that what life is?  Ultimately, it’s up to each of us to take the step(s) needed to improve our lives - cut down on soda, cut down on time spent in front of the television, cut down on negative thoughts.  So, we can go to Ikea, look for inspiration, look for encouragement, but then ultimately we’ve got to do it ourselves.  
   To be fair, Ikea doesn’t send us home without any guidance.  Each piece of furniture I’ve bought (bookcases, dressers, desk chairs, tables) comes with instructions.  However, most of those instructions utilize drawings rather than written directions, and the instructions are often  ambiguous and not at all easy to understand and execute.  Such as life.  I may know I need to sleep for an hour more each night; however, knowing how to accomplish that isn’t easy.
   Let’s not forget - Ikea is a furniture store.  And, honestly, my home is just one part of my life.  Yes, I crave the sanctuary my home offers - my king-sized bed, my patio swing, my red dining table.  But having a tranquil home isn’t all there is to my life.  Let’s not forget our relationships, our workplaces, our cars (because some people probably spend more time in their cars each day than their homes).
   It’s a wonderful tag line.  I gotta give Ikea credit.  Such a promise, your whole life improved, simply by purchasing Ikea’s products.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Cry for Help

To the Powers That Be:
   I need help.  I’m tired of hurting.  Tired of this “undiagnosed medical condition” ravaging my body.  It’s spreading, and I really don’t know how much longer my body can hold on.  
   First my legs.  Now my arms.  Extending down from my fingers and into my toes.
   And there’s the other kind of hurt.  The hurt in my head, the hurt in my heart.  The hurt that comes from relationships not going well, or not going at all.  Relationships that have fizzled away like the bubbles in a cup of soda.
   The self-inflicted hurt, because I know I’m not being entirely true to myself.  And yet, I’m not doing anything about it.  I’m too scared to make the changes I should make.  And so, I suffer and I hurt. 

   I fear the breaking point.  I fear the point where I’ll be down on the floor, building a puzzle with Ryan, and won’t be able to get back up.  I fear the time when I’ll be driving and be unable to maneuver the steering wheel.  Fear the moment when a student will call my name one time too many, and I’ll crack.  What happens then?  I am the person who holds it all together for so many, while inside, my shell is slowly cracking.
   Please, help me.  If this medical condition is your way of telling me to leave my job, I’ll do it.  Is there something fundamentally wrong with me that causes so many of my relationships to fade away?  What should I be doing differently?  How have things gotten to this point?

   I need help, and I’m asking for it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The A to Z List of Movies that Have Moved Me

For my readers who may not know me well enough - I enjoy what my friends call “Wendy-friendly movies.”  Meaning- no horror films, few action films, and movies that won’t have me covering my eyes at something depicted on the screen.   
A Apollo 13.  I read the book, saw the movie with my dad, own the soundtrack.  I knew this movie.  I understood the acronyms, the significance of Gene Kranz’s white vest, and admired Hollywood’s ability to film segments of a movie in weightlessness.

B Before Sunrise and Before Sunset.  These two movies go hand-in-hand.  I have one negative comment - I didn’t want the movies to end.  I love the idea of two people coming together in these beautiful European cities, having conversations, revealing bits of their souls, and realizing they share a deep connection.

C Cutting EdgeWhen I watch the movie as a thirty-five year old woman, I watch with eyes and a heart that have grown since I first saw the movie in high school.  But, there is a part of me that understands the loneliness and isolation Kate feels.  She asks her father, “Why are we doing this?”  and I understood.  (My endeavors were straight-A’s in high school, but still, I could sympathize.  Many of my classmates didn’t understand me, kept their distance, friendships were few, and dating was non-existent.)  But still, Doug falls in love with her, and I believed there was hope for me too.

D Dirty Dancing.  When I was in elementary school, this was the movie.  Everybody watched it, even when we didn’t understand everything we were seeing.  We liked the music and the dances - that was enough.

E Eat, Pray, Love.  I was a fan of the book, and was not disappointed with the movie adaptation.  Although, for reasons I can’t quite explain, I enjoy the movie more each time I watch my DVD.  I envy the freedom of vacating one’s own life, traveling to exotic locations, and getting back in touch with basic necessities while, in the process, re-discovering the person you once were.  

F Father of the Bride, the version starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton.  My sister and I saw the movie with my dad, and upon leaving the theater, promised him we wouldn’t want swans at our wedding.  And, for whatever reason, Steve Martin’s opening monologue is a permanent part of my memory bank:  “I used to think a wedding was a simple affair.  Boy and girl meet.  They fall in love.  He buys a ring, she buys a dress, they say ‘I do.’  I was wrong.”  

G Grease.  The big skirts, the dances, the songs - Danny and Sandy.  I wanted to attend Rydell High.  I wanted to be a Pink Lady (my sister and I owned pink cardigan sisters, that’s as close as we got).

H How Stella Got Her Groove BackFor my tastes, another successful film adaptation.  A book I’ve read more than once, a movie I own on DVD.  The island of Jamaica, the comedy of Whoopi Goldberg, and a good-looking cast.

I It Could Happen to You.  There’s an expression, “movie magic.”  I think it’s supposed to refer to the tricks of the trade, movie makers convincing audiences of one thing or another.  I think this movie shares a different kind of movie magic.  The idea that random, wonderful things can happen, and do happen, to deserving people.  That karma does exist, and happy endings are possible.

J Julie & Julia.  After we saw that movie, my husband convinced me to start a blog.  Truthfully, I write for me.  I have a deadline to meet - a new essay a week.  I hope, I dream that one day someone will read my work and realize I really should be working for their magazine.  But in the meanwhile, I am writing.  I am acknowledging that I am a writer.  And I have my faithful readers to keep me company.

K The Karate Kid.  I don’t practice karate, but I did learn from the wise Mr. Miyagi - “paint up and paint down,” “wax on, wax off”, and  “the sun is warm the grass is green.”  I consider Mr. Miyagi to be the human equivalent of Yoda.

L Letters to Juliet.  A love story set in Italy.  Need I say more?  But if I must, there’s that idea of two people being meant to be even if things (like the span of fifty years) get in the way.  This idea of what could have been, might have been, can still be.

M The Music Man.  Some movies just make me smile - such is the case with this film.  Who can resist little Ron Howard singing about the approaching Wells Fargo wagon?  Or the Marion-Librarian scene?  

N Notting Hill.  Hugh Grant’s character owns a bookshop.  He’s got an amusing circle of friends.  He’s a nice guy.  He gets the girl.  Recipe for a Wendy-friendly, put-you-in-a-good-mood-movie.  

O Oliver Twist.  I remember very little of the actual movie, except that I watched it with my dad.  And I remember my dad singing to me “I’d Do Anything.”  And I know he would.

P Pretty in Pink.  Andie.  Duckie.  Blane.  I wanted to be Andie.  I wanted to drive a cute pink car, make my own clothes, and not be afraid to dress according to my own fashion sense.

Q Quigley Down Under.  Okay, in all honesty, it’s not a movie that moved me.  But it’s a movie my dad enjoys.  A movie I remember my dad watching from the other room, the music playing, while I read in the living room.  It’s a daddy-movie, and if I wanted to score points, I’d sit down and watch a few minutes with my dad.

R Rudy.  I am not a football player or a fan of the game; however, I loved this game.  I admired the determination and fierceness that our hero works towards his goal.  Most didn’t understand him, most wrote him off, and I wondered if I’d be as strong as Rudy.  He went for it, no matter what happened or what others said.  The score was beautiful and added another dimension to the story-telling.

S Star Wars.  My favorite remains the original, Episode 4.  Star Wars has just become a part of our popular culture - the phrases (“use the Force”), the characters (Han Solo’s good-looking arrogance), and the fashions (Princess Leia’s cinnamon-bun hairstyles).

T Ten Commandments.  When I was a little girl, I watched this movie with my dad.  Our movie was on VHS, and our video player had a remote control that only worked if it was attached to the machine with a long cord.  I didn’t understand the religious significance of the story - I was mesmerized by the dresses and bracelets, the bush on fire, the parting of the Red Sea.

U Under the Tuscan Sun.  This is one example where I enjoyed the movie more than the book.  I think it was the written descriptions of the food that lost me.  But the movie was a joy to watch, and re-watch on my DVD.  Bad things sometimes lead to good things, and sometimes the bad things have to happen otherwise we’d never be brave enough or hurt enough to make the leap.

V Valentine’s Day.  I love the idea that within this crazy city called Los Angeles, all these lives are somehow inter-twined, our lives do touch others, do matter to others.  And, as a former sales clerk in a flower shop, I was intrigued to see a filmmaker’s depiction of a flower shop on one of its busiest days.

W When Harry Met Sally.  For many years, our New Year’s Eve ritual included a viewing of this perennial film.  I never tire of watching Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan navigate the bumpy road of dating and love.  The honesty, the humor, the conversations - and a fake-orgasm scene in the midst of a bustling New York deli.

X The X Files.  Okay, this is certainly not a Wendy-movie.  But, it was the movie for a good friend of mine, so it makes the list.    

Y You’ve Got Mail.  This movie pairs Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and never fails to make me smile.  It’s gentle and kind-spirited.  It features two people you want to get together.  And, to tip the scales at Wendy-friendliness, The movie is set among bookstores.

Z Zookeeper.  I admit it.  I haven’t watched the movie.  But, my students were writing creative stories about what zoo animals would say if they could talk to each other.  Then this movie reached theaters.  And, how in the world did Mrs. Kennar know they’d be making this movie?  Suddenly, my cool factor went up, and the fun factor in my writing assignment went up as well.