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 31, 2013

It's Not Funny

   At my bi-yearly dental appointment, the hygienist began with the usual arsenal of questions:  Any pain or sensitivity?  Any problems?  She then asked me to update my medical history form, where the list of my medications is so long it doesn’t fit on the lines provided.  Once the paperwork was completed, she reminded me that I was behind schedule for my x-rays.  I reminded her that because of the numerous CT scans and MRIs I had experienced, I had intentionally postponed my dental x-rays.  Then she nonchalantly asked what was happening with my legs.  I told her, as succinctly as possible, that it’s a chronic medical condition that I just have to learn to live with.

   And that’s when her mis-use of language, her faulty word choice, caused me to flinch.  “Autoimmune diseases are funny.”  Funny.  That’s what she said.  Billy Crystal is funny.  Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Cosby are funny.  Autoimmune diseases?  Not so much.  

   I had to ask, “How so?”

   “Well, they just show up.  People just get sick.”  I told my dental hygienist that’s the way it is with many diseases.  Who knows why one person gets cancer and another doesn’t?  There’s no logical explanations.  That’s life.  And life isn’t always funny.

   Granted, she meant no harm or insult with her offhand remark.  But as a writer, someone who is always browsing through a thesaurus looking for the optimal word to convey a certain meaning, and as someone who is still coming to terms with living with an autoimmune disease, I was disappointed with her word choice.

   I know it helps to find humor in life’s challenging situations.  However, it’s been three years now, and I still can’t find the humor in my medical condition.  I admit that I can see some positives.  I am no longer working and am spending more time with my son.  I’m writing more.  I’m trying to take better care of myself.    

   To me, autoimmune diseases are mysterious, curious, perplexing, and puzzling.

   I just can’t see the “funny” part yet.  Maybe, years later, I will.  But not now.    

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Buying Books

   I love books, and I appreciate a good bargain.  Those two facets of my personality mean I buy books where they are most affordable.  Many times, I have found that books are cheaper in places other than a bookstore -- whether it be Target, Costco, or online at Amazon.  But that doesn’t stop me from spending time, and money, in my neighborhood big-chain bookstore.  

   In all fairness, I think shopping in a brick and mortar store has just as much value as shopping online.  So, let’s review the pros of each one, and what I mean when I say “value.”

   Online:  Most times, I can find a better price online.  If I add enough books to my virtual shopping cart, my purchase qualifies for free shipping.  I could theoretically shop for, and receive my books, in my pajamas.  Because I am trying to qualify for the free shipping, I am more inclined to buy more, to search around for another book that intrigues me.  

   When the package does arrive, I still feel a little rush and a jolt of surprise, even though I know full well what I have ordered.  It’s like Christmas morning, when you’ve asked for a specific gift, you see a wrapped package that looks exactly like the shape of the gift you want, but you’re still surprised and delighted to unwrap it and find it is the coveted present.

   Bookstore:  I have purchased plenty of books that I didn’t even realize I wanted until I discovered them while browsing through a bookstore.  Covers entice me from their perches on a bookshelf, I read the summary and the first page, and I’m hooked.  

   I continue to write and am working towards the day my own book is published.  Being in a bookstore, surrounded by all these published books, is an affirmation.  These authors did it; I can do it too.  And, as I am increasing the number of publications to my credit, there is a thrill, a shiver of pride, that surges through me when I walk by a shelf, pick up a certain book, and find my essay inside.

   So, when the time comes, the plan is to make my own books available for purchase in a variety of settings -- traditional bookstores, within general buy-everything-stores, and online.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013



           I have a mild case of withdrawals:  fidgeting, uncomfortable sensations, slight anxiety.

   Since retiring from my teaching career a few months ago, my mail carrier recently delivered a teacher supply catalog.  

   Summer would normally be the time I would be attempting to rest and recharge and gear up for a new school year.  Summer was always traditionally a big shopping time for me as well.  Stocking up on lined notebook paper, pencils, and spiral notebooks when office supply stores would hold their annual back-to-school sales.

   Catalogs offer different types of enticements.  They are full of glossy pictures, showing pristinely decorated classrooms.  Classrooms alive with color and organizational bins.  Ideas would spring to mind with each page I turned.  Should I attempt to arrange the books in my library corner by subject?  Biographies in one bin?  Travel destinations in another?  Fiction chapter books in yet another?  

   I prided myself on transforming a barren classroom into a welcoming, inviting, engaging classroom -- for both my students and myself.  My kids would be spending six hours a day, five days a week within those four walls.  My hours would be a lot longer than that.  I was personally invested in wanting our four-walled enclosure to be one I liked looking at.  Hence, the bamboo plant, the stuffed toy caterpillar along the out-dated radiator, and the pillows in the library corner.

   Each summer, I would come back to school on my own time, not being paid to spend days transforming a musty classroom into a catalog-worthy classroom.  Once I had my music on, I got to work and used some serious elbow grease that left me dirty and sore at the end of the day.  It was the ultimate before and after make-over.  Teal paper hung on bulletin boards.  Student desks set up with pencil boxes, folders, notebooks, and textbooks.  Seasonal decorations hung near the class calendar.

   And this year, I won’t be creating a learning environment.  This year, I’m hoping all my past efforts and good intentions serve as good karma.  My son will be starting kindergarten, and I hope that my twelve years as a public school teacher will carry him through twelve productive, engaging, safe years of education as well.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Write for Light

One of my personal essays has just been published in an anthology titled Write for Light.  All of the proceeds from each book are going to an organization called Light for Children which helps children in Ghana.  Here's the link so you can learn more about the book.  It's available now on Amazon.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The A to Z List of Waiting

Waiting really depends on what you’re waiting for.  Waiting for a chocolate souffle is a different experience than waiting to hear if you need to report for jury duty on Monday morning.  There is no one conclusive way to define waiting.  But, I can alphabetically organize aspects of waiting.  Here is my A to Z List of Waiting.

A Acceptance.  You resign yourself that whatever is going to happen will happen, all you can do is wait and see.  The outcome is now out of your hands.  You have scored well on the SATs, maintained a high GPA for four years, received several letters of recommendation, and have been active in your community.  It is out of your hands and all you can do is wait for your college acceptance letters to arrive.  

B Boredom.  You are sitting in a meeting after school, waiting for it to be over.  You can’t grade the stack of social studies quizzes sitting on your desk, you can’t call a parent about a student’s missing book report, you can’t do anything but feign interest in the latest data and wait for the meeting to be over.  

C Confusion.  You are waiting to see if you have arrived at your destination.  Directions were vague, and you’re not quite sure if you should have turned left instead of right.  All you can do is wait in a state of confusion, hope you’re traveling along the correct route, until you can read the addresses on the office buildings you are approaching.   

D Displeasure.  You have back-to-back parent conferences scheduled, and you are waiting for a parent to arrive.  A parent who arrives ten minutes tardy, with no apology, and is becoming belligerent when you say her time is up because my next appointment is waiting outside.

E Expectation.  Waiting on a massage table, undressed, under the sheet and eagerly awaiting an hour of pampering.  You take deep breaths, blissful in knowing that soon your tired muscles will be soothed.

F Frustration.  Waiting in line at a public venue for the women’s restroom.  You wonder why architects don’t design larger restrooms, with more stalls, knowing that women generally take longer to visit the restroom, and are many times accompanied by small children, making restroom visits even longer. 

G Guilt.  You rushed your child out the door, yelled at one point for them to stop playing their imaginary game, because you had to go to the dentist.  Then, you arrive at the dentist to be informed that it will be at least a twenty-minute wait because she is running behind schedule.  And then you feel guilty for rushing.

H Hopelessness.  Everyone tells you to be patient, eventually the braces come off, you become old enough for contacts, and the acne will clear up.  It’s a matter of waiting to be older, waiting for your body to change, and waiting for your life to change.  And there’s really nothing you can do to speed up the process.

I Impatience.  You are instructed to arrive fifteen minutes before a doctor’s appointment only to find the doctor is running over an hour behind schedule.  You have lost an hour’s pay, and now are waiting in an unflattering hospital gown, sitting on the exam table, flipping through a magazine that is four months old.

J Joy.  You are pregnant, happily and healthily, and joyfully awaiting the birth of your child.   You know how lucky you are.  

K Keeping your fingers crossed.  It is your child’s first day of school, and you’re hoping it has all gone well.  You are hoping that he felt comfortable and secure and wants to return because it will make tomorrow morning so much easier.

L Love and pride.  You are waiting, love and pride swelling through your veins, because soon it will be your chid’s turn.  Your child’s name will be called, your child will walk across the stage, shake hands, and accept his diploma.

M Multi-tasking.  You are on hold, waiting to talk to a representative from your cable company.  Meanwhile, you are waiting for the water to boil for tonight’s spaghetti dinner and are making your son’s lunch for the next day.

N Nagging feeling.  You are waiting to return home while meanwhile there is a nagging feeling that perhaps you forgot to do something.  Maybe you forgot to turn off the light in the bedroom, unplug the coffee pot, or close the bathroom window.  All you can do is wait because you won’t know until you return home.

O Observing.  You are waiting for your child to be done playing with the children who live next door.  You have told him that he has fifteen minutes left before you need to go in for dinner, but you’re hoping he wants to go in sooner.  In the meanwhile, you’re observing, watching how your child interacts with others.

P Pleasure.  Waiting in traffic or a red light can be pleasurable, depending on where you’re going and how much flexibility you have in your schedule.  The extra wait time provides you with the opportunity to continue listening to a favorite song or podcast.

Q Quietly.  Tiptoeing down the hall, whispering, and waiting for your son to be soundly asleep before you and your spouse can have some adult time.  A chance to chat and cuddle.

R Restlessness.  You have treated yourself to a manicure, something you haven’t done in at least six months.  You have been able to zone out for the last half hour or so and your nails are polished a coral color that makes you think of summer beach days.  But now you’re restless as you sit and wait for your nails to dry so you can get up and go about the rest of your day.

S Suspense.   You are anxiously waiting to see what will happen next in the movie you’ve rented, what will happen in the next chapter of the novel you’re reading, or what will happen when the television series resumes in the fall.  

T Take effect.  You are waiting for the pain medication to take effect.  You know that pill is supposed to provide some relief, help ease the throbbing you feel in your mouth since the dentist extracted your infected wisdom teeth, but as you wait, you groan in agony. 

U Unease.  Your doctor ran a battery of tests and all you can do now is wait for the results.  Wait to see if the condition that causes daily pain is something life-threatening, wait to see how drastically your life is about to change. 

V Veer off task.  You are at home, waiting for your new stove to be delivered.  You have decided to use this time to tackle one of those tasks you’re always meaning to do, but somehow never manage to find the time to do.  You start to empty your refrigerator, shelf by shelf, wiping it down, discarding anything that is beyond its expiration date or looking questionable.  But that reminds you to check the date on the package of gravy mix that has been sitting in the pantry for quite some time.  While in the pantry, you realize those shelves also need to be wiped down, and while you start emptying the shelf, you realize you left your salad dressings out on the kitchen counter because you weren’t done cleaning out the refrigerator. 

W Wait it out.  You are dealing with something temporary but uncomfortable; a stomach ache, an upset stomach, a cold sore.  You know it won’t last, that there could be worse things afflicting you, and it will soon pass. 

X X-ray your argument.  You are waiting for things to simmer down between you and your partner and meanwhile are replaying the argument in your head.  You are wondering if what you said really warranted that loud outburst from your partner.  And you’re wondering if you came across as too judgmental, as you have been accused of before.  You’re wondering how it could have been handled differently, and you’re waiting to feel some love and affection again.

Y Yearning.  You are waiting with yearning, for a kiss or a hug  from a loved one, a dear friend, someone you haven’t seen in a while.  You are waiting for that ache to disappear as soon as this person reappears in your life. 

Z Zero energy.  You are waiting for the end of the day, when you can crawl into bed, make yourself a warm cocoon, and finally rest.  You don’t want to talk to anyone, don’t want to get anyone anything, you have done all you can for those around you, and all you are waiting for now is a sweet slumber to restore your energy level and your soul.  

Friday, July 5, 2013

MomsLA Weekly Post Wrap Up June 28, 2013

Check out this video!  The ladies behind MomsLA.com mentioned my personal essay, "Which Box?"  If you haven't already read it, you can find it at MomsLA.com.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Eyes

   In what can be said is a stereotypical sign of aging, I am again wearing glasses.  I first wore glasses back in junior high, and stopped sometime during my undergraduate years.  I think.  It seems so long ago, I don’t even remember when my eyes mysteriously decided to see clearly all by themselves.

   My eyesight was never horrendous.  Unlike my parents, I could always read without my glasses; it’s just that the glasses helped make reading a little easier.  And since there are already so many difficulties in life, why not take advantage of something that would make one body part work a little less.

   I never detested my glasses.  And once I didn’t need them anymore, I never missed my glasses.  It was just one of those things I dealt with.

   Lately, I felt like I was having trouble seeing the letters on my computer screen as I typed my weekly blog, and words in the novel I was reading were a bit out of focus.  The optometrist confirmed it; I again needed reading glasses.  Again, not a super-strong prescription, and if worse comes to worse, I can still read without them.  But the optometrist wanted to let me know that this time, I probably wouldn’t outgrow my glasses.  They’re most likely here to stay, and if anything, may require a stronger prescription as I age.

   I told him it was the least of my worries.

   Two years ago, I spent part of my son’s third birthday in an ophthalmologist’s office.  Before my autoimmune disease was diagnosed, I was bounced around like a ball in an arcade game from one specialist to another.  After the muscle biopsy that was performed on my calf, the rheumatologist who ordered the surgery wanted my results reviewed by a geneticist.  The geneticist then wanted my eyes examined by an ophthalmologist.  At the time, I didn’t understand why my eyes were being checked when the pain was in my legs and arms.  (I would later learn that certain types of cancers reveal themselves in the eyes, and that is why I was sent to have my eyes dilated.)  

   I was pleased to discover that I’m actually helping our planet while typing away, wearing my new glasses.  My eyeglasses are manufactured by a company named “eco,” which creates glasses that are made with 95% recycled materials.  And, as an extra earth-bonus, for every frame that is sold, the company plants a tree.

   After learning those facts, I’m even more okay with my declining eyesight.