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, July 25, 2012

Jewelry Through the Ages

A few months ago, I received a new jewelry box.  The beautiful gift came with a chore - consolidate my smaller jewelry boxes and sort through my jewelry collection.  For those who don’t know me, I am a jewelry enthusiast.  I own a multitude of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, and I change them daily to coordinate with my outfits.  

Looking at my jewelry was like looking through a time capsule.  Of course there were the “regulars” - items I wear currently and are in constant rotation.  But, I also re-discovered mementos and keepsakes from my childhood.

I found my first “big girl” watch  - the black Timex that my dad purchased for me.  No longer did I wear a watch decorated with a character popular with children; this was the kind of watch big girls wear.  Along with the watch, came a lesson.  My watch was to be worn on my left wrist, even though I was right-handed.  It seemed odd to me, until my dad explained I would then be able to write and check the time simultaneously.

I found my “BF” pendant - the half I wore to declare my best friend status with my sister.  Despite our current tumultuous relationship, I still own it, and plan to always.

I found my “Magic Potion” necklaces - purchased back when I was a middle school student.  The necklace contains nothing more than colored water, but I always found it more fun to tell people it was a capsule filled with magic potion.

I found the bracelet my dad made for me - my dad, a former telephone man, used red and white wires to create a bracelet.  I don’t wear it anymore, but it’s tucked away and brings a smile to my face.

I found the silver bracelet given to me at the conclusion of my second year of teaching - my students’ parents had all contributed to purchase the bracelet for me.  It was a thoughtful gift from an exceptional group of students and parents - something that has never been replicated in the nine years since that event.

And I found my cameos.  There is a cameo with a blue background that my mom gave to me when I was in elementary school.  There are the cameos my grandma gave to me.  One is large and has a pin on the back so that it can be worn as a brooch, and it has a hook at the top enabling it to be worn as a pendant.  There’s a small one, also, that looks more worn, and I don’t know if my grandma wore it often, or who gave it to her.  The cameos are beautiful, but sadly had been hiding away in random jewelry boxes.  I think now that they’re more easily accessible in my new jewelry box, I’ll be wearing them more often.

I know jewelry falls into the category of “things.”  And they are.  But jewelry isn’t like a book, or a pair of shoes, or even a cell phone.  Jewelry isn’t easily replaced.  Most of my jewelry isn’t mass produced and can’t just be pulled off a shelf.  

And all my jewelry has a story behind it; my life’s story.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Letter

To Whom It May Concern:

F--- you!

Maybe that’s not the most “lady-like” way to say it, but that’s how I feel.  For two years now, you and I have been in an unhealthy, one-sided relationship.

You show up whenever it’s convenient for you.  You wake me from sleep, sometimes several times a night, just because you can.  You’re often on top of me first thing in the morning, as I struggle to awake and rise from bed.  You follow me to work.  And then sometimes you hide, and then just as I’m letting my guard down and starting to relax and feel like the old me, you re-appear at the most inopportune times - shortly before a bath, during dinner, while I’m playing with Ryan.  You do it just to let me know you’re still around and you’re still in charge.

I get it.  I know.  I’ve got the bottles of pills to prove it.

I’m so sick of it.  I’m tired of you.

How dare you come here and change my life!  Because that’s what you’ve done.  I go through the motions, try to keep my life the way it was, but it’s impossible.  And you enjoy that, don’t you?  Do you like seeing me bite my lip in pain?  Do you laugh as I try to massage my calf, knowing full well that my meager touch won’t do a thing to assuage the grip you have on my leg?

On top of everything else, you’re expensive.  You require a lot.  The prescriptions, the compression stockings that didn’t help, the acupuncture, the larger pants - because damn you, on top of everything else, these pills have made me put on some weight.

So, again, I say “f--- you!”  

Because you win, I can’t control you.  I can’t wave a magic wand and make you completely disappear nor can I predict when you’ll hit next.  

But don’t get too cocky.  You haven’t scored a complete victory.  I’m too stubborn to let you win that easily.  For all those times when I feel helpless, hopeless, and powerless, there are the other times.  Recently, I have also seen some moments of light.  I have had some good days or parts of days.  Days when I can walk, pain-free.  So I know it’s still possible.  

Still you’re there.  Always there, and maybe always will be there.  Doesn’t mean I have to like you.  Doesn’t mean I won’t keep fighting you.

So, for putting me through this hell, to my pain, all I can say is “F--- you!”


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The A to Z List of Exceptions

One of my high school English teachers once told our class that there were only two guarantees in life - death and taxes.  It does seem that life is full of exceptions, things that don’t quite apply all the time.  Here is my A to Z list of Exceptions.
A Adverbs.  Adverbs are words that describe verbs, they explain how you do something.  You write neatly, drive carefully, jog slowly.  Most adverbs end with “-ly.”  Exceptions to that rule include “friendly, lovely, hourly, leisurely.”

B Breakfast.  We grow up thinking that certain foods are eaten in the morning for breakfast.  Not necessarily.  Especially when restaurants such as IHOP allow you to enjoy pancakes any time of the day or night.

C Chips.  Generally, we hear “chips” we think “potato chips.”  But there are exceptions.  Chips may refer to poker chips, chocolate chips, or banana chips.

D Dress.  Women certainly have more options available to them - skirts and dresses, pants and shorts.  To compensate, sizes vary widely for women’s clothing, though not for men’s, it seems.  A woman, most likely, needs to try on an item of clothing before purchasing.  A size “large” by one manufacturer may fit differently than a size large by another manufacturer.  However, men can shop merely by size - pick up an XL shirt and jeans with a certain waist-size and know that those items will fit.

E Emotional expressions.  Traditionally, we smile when we’re happy and cry when we’re sad.  But, there are the exceptions.  Times we express our profound happiness with “tears of joy” and we laugh because we’re scared or nervous.

F Flight.  We learn that birds have beaks and they fly.  Not necessarily.  Not all birds have been granted the ability to fly.  Those exceptions include penguins, turkeys, and ostriches.

G Grown-Up.  Children anticipate each birthday, waiting for the day they will be a “grown-up.”  When I turned eighteen, I became an adult in some ways and not in others.  I was old enough to join the armed forces and fight for my country.  I could vote.  I could not order a margarita nor could I put a quarter in a slot machine in Las Vegas.

H Hue.  Color isn’t steadfast; there are exceptions.  Leaves aren’t always green.  Gold isn’t always yellow (white gold), and chocolate isn’t always brown (white chocolate).

I Iceland.  It is my understanding that “Iceland” is a misnomer.  From what I’ve read, Iceland has less ice than Greenland.  Names aren’t always descriptive, as in this case.

J Junior.  That moniker only works for males.  Some famous examples include - Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Downey Jr., Harry Connick Jr., and Sammy Davis Jr.  Women don’t have this option available to them. 

K Kilt.  My maiden name is Scottish in origin, but I still can’t envision my dad wearing a kilt.  Although a kilt is the exception to the widely held rule that men don’t wear skirts.  

L Library.  I’m a library girl - volunteered in my high school library during my lonely lunch hours and worked in a public library for a few years during college.  And thankfully, libraries still exist.  Libraries are the exception in our society - a place that is (largely) free, a place that doesn’t pressure you to spend any money, a place that allows you to borrow things without leaving behind your car keys or credit card.  A place that celebrates the written word and the honor system.

M Months.  How do you calculate how long a month is?  4 weeks, usually, with 7 days in each week means 28 days.  But really, the only month that limits itself to 28 days is February.  Most months actually consist of 31 days.

N Names.  It used to be much easier to determine a student’s gender by looking at their first names.  “Jordan” and “Maxwell” may not be boys.  Two different years, two different students answered to the name “London” - one a boy, one a girl.

O Oxen.  Deer, sheep, children, and feet.  These words are “irregular plurals” - exceptions to the rule that plurals have an “s” at the end.  When my students ask me “Why?”  I tell them the truth, “I don’t know.”  I really don’t know who decided we shouldn’t say “sheeps” or “oxes” (We say “foxes” after all).

P Phonemic Awareness.  It has been said that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn.  I think it’s because of all the exceptions.  The letters “gh” often sound like “f” as in “rough” or “tough.”  Yet, you take those same letters, “gh,” and put them in another word, “through” and they sound completely different.  Likewise, the letter “c” doesn’t always sound like the letter “k” as in camera; instead, the letter “c” sometimes sounds more like the letter “s” as in Cinderella.

Q Quitting.  It’s not always a good thing.  We’re taught to not give up, to stick it out.  Except, when we’re quitting smoking or any other bad habit.  Then, quitting is celebrated.

R Renowned individuals.  Famous people change the rules.  They don’t have to use capital letters to write their name (think of the poet e.e. cummings).  They don’t have to use a first and last name (think Madonna and Cher).  

S Spelling.  I tell my students that the English language is challenging because of all the spelling exceptions.  “i before e except after c.”  We usually teach students to “drop the e” before adding “-ing” as with “care, caring.”  Except, “canoe” becomes “canoeing.”  Many suffixes are simply added to words “pain + ful” becomes “painful.”  Except “nine + th” becomes “ninth.”

T Taxes.  Turns out there’s an exception to my English teacher’s philosophy.  Yes, there are taxes, but even within the state of California, different cities have different sales tax rates which means the same product can cost more in one city than another.  

U Umbrellas.  They’re a rainy-day accessory.  Except, when it’s sunny and then some people choose to use them to block the sun.  

V Vermilion, crimson, ruby, red.  Pick your synonym, but it’s a color with many exceptions.  Red is the color associated with fire and danger, love and valentines, ladybugs and strawberries, passion, and feng shui.  

W Weather.  Living in Southern California makes explaining the seasons to my toddler son a bit more challenging.  Usually, winter is described as “cold, snowy, rainy.”  Usually, but not always, as viewers of the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena will attest when they look with envy at our blue skies.

X X-Rays.  Most times a patient only experiences an x-ray because something is wrong and doctors are trying to determine exactly what is wrong or how wrong it really is.  The exception to that rule is dental x-rays.  Dentists perform periodic x-rays not because something has been determined to already be wrong, but just in case something is wrong.

Y Youth.  We are young, itching to be older.  Old enough to stay up late, wear lipstick, do what we want to do.  We want to be grown-ups, have freedom, have fun (isn’t that what children think?).  Then, we become adults, and women especially, want their youth again, want to be young again, try to disguise the laugh lines they have earned.  Any wrinkles I have, I’ve earned.  They mean I’m alive, I’m experiencing life, and I don’t think that’s anything I should be disguising.  I strive to be like wine - getting better with age.

Z Zero.  In most cases, zero means nothing.  I have gone snowboarding zero times.  I own zero motorcycles.  However, in math, a zero isn’t always nothing; it can actually be quite important.  There’s a big difference between $100 and $1000, and all because of that extra zero.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nature is Calling

   Living in Los Angeles, my experiences with nature and wildlife differ from someone living in a more rural environment.  However, outside my door and within my neighborhood, I’ve got my fair share of a wild kingdom.  Here are my top 6 nature observations:
  1. Not all trees are green.  Outside my bedroom window, a large jacaranda tree towers over our home.  The lilac flowers fall and cover the grass with a “purple snow.”
  2. Crows are alive and well and vocal in Los Angeles.  Crows always make me think of scarecrows and farms.  However, these crows seem to be auditioning for a choir.  They sing, croon, and yell at each other.  At times, their vocalizations sound like ducks quacking or owls hooting.
  3. Squirrels are quick.  They run and chase each other, across the lawn and up a tree.  They amble over tree branches like circus performers on a tightrope.  They attempt to catch each other; although I’m not sure if they’re trying to attack each other or mate.
  4. Raccoons live in families, and in my neighborhood.  One year, several years ago, my husband and I were walking around our neighborhood in the early evening hours.  The sun had set and out of some hedges we saw a family of raccoons scamper across to hide away in a storm drain.
  5. Opossums live in my neighborhood.   They’re lurking, and just a few weeks ago, I watched one amble around my neighbor’s back patio.  They’re eerie, creepy, look like an over-grown rat, and frankly, have no business being anywhere near my home.
  6. Birds really do look for twigs to build their nests.  Mama birds really do sit on eggs within these nests.  For the last week, my son and I check each day for our “Mama Birdie,” who sits in her nest perched atop the wall separating my back patio from my neighbor’s.