Tag Archives: Lower Merion High School

Let us celebrate.

16 Dec

FullSizeRender-10

This morning, I woke up to a pleasant surprise. I got an email from an old high school friend–

Well, really, if I am being honest, she is an old high school friend of my husband’s; to me, she was just this incredibly beautiful and cool Senior whom I looked at and admired from afar. Come to think of it, to this day, I don’t know that she knows this; that my Freshman friends and I would look at her Senior yearbook portrait in awe. She is that pretty. But she’s also nice. And fun. And brave. And my husband’s high school friends deserve a post of their own, so look out for that.

She sent me this article, to give, as she said, “a little bit of mojo”, which is amazing.

The article talks about how 2014, for many, was an awful year; for some, their worst yet.

I would raise my hand with those people. I say it all the time. This has been the worst year of my life. But the also the most meaningful, for sure. And that is what this article is all about. The author could have gone into my brain and taken the words right from inside my head. If you know my writing, you will see.

She writes,

“Because 2014 was hard for many, many people.

For you, it might be going down as one of the worst years you can remember.

For you, it may have brought you to your knees more times than you could count.

For you, it may have left you breathless … hopeless … tired and weary.

But before you eagerly slam the door on 2014, I ask you to look down at your hands.

See that dirt under your fingernails?

My friend, that is beautiful. That is remarkable. That is significant.

You could have let go. But you didn’t.

You could have given up. But you didn’t.

You hung on.

You hung on.

And here’s what I believe:

I believe 2014 was not your worst year, but possibly your greatest.

Your Year of Greatest Strength
Your Year of Greatest Faith
Your Year of Greatest Hope
Your Year of Greatest Patience
Your Year of Greatest Risk
Your Year of Greatest Determination
Your Year of Greatest Courage

Just look at that dirt beneath your fingernails.

That is what you are made of.

Isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t it remarkable? Isn’t it significant?

It was your Year of Greatest Survival.

And you lived to tell about it.

Thank you for holding on.

Let us celebrate.

Let us celebrate.”

Just as I wrote last month, this year, all I want to do is to live and to do so fully. My poor friends; You should see how many emails they get from me about Christmas cookies and Secret Santas and our New Year’s Eve menu. How many screenshots I send with inspirational quotes and love notes. But the fact that I can not only feel but feel excitment? I am holding onto that, I am holding on with every ounce of strength I can muster.

And so it was a normal Tuesday morning this morning and we were up early, and we are supposed to be on a tropical island,

but instead, I was cuddled up on the couch and my daughter was across the room, and my son was playing on the floor and my husband called from the kitchen that we were out of coffee. He would make a run to the coffee shop and get us all treats, he said.

And when he left, I called my daughter over to me. “I want you,” I said, as I held out my arms to her and then wrapped them around her, kissed her face, and snuggled her close to me.

“I want you to be happy,” was her reply.

Let us celebrate, indeed.

(This morning’s coffee was sponsored c/o Twin and Go Go)

On writing.

21 Jun

This morning, as I straightened up my kitchen, I found an old picture that I had developed; It was a photo of Ernest Hemingway, aged and bearded, writing with a pen on a legal pad.

***

Recently, I found a journal that I had kept as a child. In it I had proclaimed that I wanted to grow up to be a writer.

I am not sure if I have grown up yet,

but I write every day, so I can feel, at least, half accomplished.

I remember in sixth grade when we were assigned to write a creative piece for English class;

Mine was 65 pages long, as I wrote the story of a murder mystery, as told from 4 different perspectives (the last one being the mansion’s security camera, showing the truth. Of course the murder occurred in a mansion).

Every time we were given the option of doing a report or choosing the “harder” creative writing option, I felt like I had scored; I loved creative writing.

I can remember being in seventh grade and writing, in a paper, “Life is like an ocean, churning day by day. Unfair and unsatisfied, we often turn away.”

I have no idea what that means, but my teacher liked it so much that she wrote it on our chalkboard, where it remained for the rest of the year.

In high school, my life as a writer changed, because I became a good reader. I had been reading since I was three years old, and was always an avid lover of books, but in high school there was a profound shift. My first period of my first day of high school was English with Mr. Segal. It also happened to be his very first period at my high school, as he was a transplant from Chicago. Mr. Segal changed my life. I had him both Freshman and Junior years, and he taught me about motifs and words like “trepidation” and “incredulous”; he taught me about transcendentalism, which led me on my own existential journeys. Mr. Segal introduced me to The Great Gatsby.

When I got to college I had to take an advanced Intro to Writing class my first semester because I was in the honors college. My teacher looked like a miniature Anne Hathaway, but she was good. I don’t know why I say “but”, as her resemblance to Anne Hathaway should have no bearings on her ability. She was probably 23.

In her class I wrote a story called “Slice”, which was all about the situational irony of an affair and an unplanned pregnancy. Heavy stuff, right?

Second semester my life was changed once more. I took a writing class as an elective. My teacher was a grad student, Rebecca Rasmussen, and in her class I found my favorite genre of all literature: the short story. We read Joyce Carol Oates “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” and I felt the feeling of simultaneous intrigue and dread. We read classic short stories, but also obscure pieces, like one called “Mengaerie” about the personification of animals in a pet store. In that class, our culminating project was to write a short story of our own. I still remember so many of the pieces that my classmates shared; The Story set to Bruce Springsteen Music, the beautiful and heartbreaking story with allusions to suicide, and my own, a gritty and raw piece called “Merry Fucking Christmas”.

I fell hard for short stories and became an English major.

After my declaration, I had to take serious English classes, reading Chaucer in Middle English and The Divine Comedy and Shakespeare.

I began reading voraciously, often with my boyfriend at the time. We would take long car rides and read out loud to each other. We would bring heavy anthologies to the beach, and pour through them, our stomachs turning at “The Most Dangerous Game” and “Roman Fever”.

And then, during my Junior year, my life changed once more.

I transferred to a different branch of my college closer to home. Because I was still in the Honors College of my school, my class went from a large group of peers down to 5 of us. We were assigned to take a class with Dr. Linda Patterson Miller, Hemingway Scholar. She wrote about The Lost Generation, the group of expatriates who wrote in the early 20th century and hung out at Gertrude Stein’s salon. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald and his colorful wife, Zelda. John Dos Pasos.

Ernest Hemingway.

Dr. Miller was a Hemingway scholar, and knew the family personally. She exuded knowledge and creativity and art and passion. She knew it all.

She introduced me to my favorite collection of all time, In Our Time. I read and re-read “The End of Something”, my favorite short story ever. I cheered for Marjorie, the heroine in the story whose strength I hoped I could emulate.

When I write about that time in my life I get butterflies in my stomach. It was when my world changed. I fell in love with two men that year: Hem, and my husband.

As part of being in the Honors Program, the five of us were each required to write and publish a Thesis. One of my dear friends, also an English major, decided to analyze “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I think about this a lot, when I think about my Fall and Winter. The other three studied and wrote on subjects within their academic fields. I, once again, chose to opt out of a research based paper, in favor of a creative piece.

I wrote my thesis based on the works of the early 20th century authors and artists I had been studying with Dr. Miller, who became my mentor, and decided to try to write using the artistic technique of cubism. My thesis was called “Just a Little Bit of Dancing: A Cubist Family Portrait Through Writing.”

Since college, I have continued to write. I have written poems, inspired by Pablo Neruda and ee cummings. I have written love letters. I have written song lyrics.

And I have written on here.

This has become my journal, my manuscript.

***

Writing has become a gift to me. The keyboard has held my hand when I’ve needed strength. I have been able to reach others through my words. It has been cathartic and often fun.

Tears come to my eyes as I think about the people who have shaped my love of words. I love words so much that it almost hurts.

So I just wanted to say a public thank you. A thank you to my teachers, my classmates, my readers,

and to the authors who have blazed a trail ahead of me that I am so honored to be tip-toeing through.

***

I write when I’m happy, I write when I am scared, I write when I am bored, I write when I’m lonely,

I write when my heart is bursting, I write when I am grateful, I write when I am proud, I write when I am motivated…

I write because I can.