I love languages, I have since I was in 6th Grade where I had my first brush with Spanish. Took a little German in college, and over the years have learned salutations in over a dozen languages. The Filipina caregivers are very impressed with my ten words of Tagalog as was my Egyptian coworker when I wrote my name in Arabic.

Unfortunately, my children are monolingual, and I’m not too sure its English they speak. The words are English, the grammar and syntax appear to be English, but, for the life of me, there are times I’m not fully understanding them, or they’re pulling the wool over my eyes. I texted my Author Talk flyer to all the kids, I got a few responses: cool, do I have to go? and finally, it’s gonna be lit! Huh? I know I’ve heard these phrases somewhere before, and then I had an epiphany. During one of our many “drive-bys” by the ocean, I heard their language, it’s their music, the lyrics from the songs they play…over and over and over again. They speak lyric-ese, some kind of new slang.

Since most attempts at conversation with my young people result in “huh?”, this is how I imagine they’d go if they did respond:

”Eva, what  time you gonna be home? And don’t get in a car with a driver whose  been drinking AND don’t take a drink from anyone.”

…Like why you so obsessed with me.  What’s that suppose to mean? I’m your mother.

”Ellie, where are my clothes? Weren’t you gonna put them away?”

To the left, to the left, everything you own in the box to the left. Don’t sass me!

“Eloisa, what do you think you’ll do after you get out of school?”

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadow, if I fail, if I succeed, at least I’ll live as I believe. That’s, uhm, good. Relax, a little, we’re just talking about 8th grade.

‘’’Beasto, you’re so quiet, what are you thinking about?”

I got money on my mind, and my mind on my money. Good.

Espi, you’re almost done with school. How exciting! How does that make you feel?

Young, dumb, broke high school kid. Okaaay.

”Hey, quiet it down in there.”

Let’s get it started…hah! Let’s get it started in here. (They are bad kids.)

Well, two (or eleven) can play at that game. When I’m done raising these kids, I’m gonna take this job and shove it because I’ll be ready to take a chance again. I’ve looked at life from both sides now from win and lose and still somehow it’s life’s illusions I recall I really don’t know life at all, so if you miss the train I’m on, you will know that I am gone, you will hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.

I may never pass this way again so don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy, lighten up while you still can, don’t even try to understand, just find a place to make your stand, and take it easy. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu, adieu, to you and you and you (+ 7). I’m glad to go I cannot tell a lie, I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly. And kiss today goodbye.

If You Want to Read This….Thank a Writer!

snoopy-writing1Ok, wait, before any one gets upset,  I know the common maxim is “If you a can read this, thank a teacher!”, and I want to give credit to those folks that taught us how to read and those who teach our children. I work for a school district, and I am so impressed with their organization, patience and mission to educate and nurture the next generation. Believe me, they do not do this for the pay. But, at the same time, I’d like to extend my gratitude to the wonderful writers who have helped shape our personalities, slipped into our childhoods and left lasting memories and images through the written word, and even as adults continue to challenge, illumine and comfort us in our earthly journeys.

A writer is not only an author, but could be a playwright, lyricist or poet. Whatever medium from which they come, their words can change and definitely enrich our lives, and without their wonderful words, lyrics and sentences, what would we read?? The ingredients to the shampoo bottle, the toilet cleanser or soap box.  Here are a few words that have knit themselves into the fiber of my being.

Robert Bolt wrote the play, “A Man For All Seasons”, the story of Sir Thomas More and his confrontation with Henry VIII. Written in the early ‘60’s, it still feels like Bolt was recording actual conversations from the early 1500’s.  Paul Scofield brought Sir Thomas More alive on the stage and the screen and whose voice was the perfect vehicle for Bolt’s lovely lines. Faced with imprisonment and possible death, More’s daughter urged her father to sign the Act of Supremacy to save his life, but More  beautifully states:

“Listen, Meg, God made the angels to show Him splendor, as He made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity. But Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind. If He suffers us to come to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and, yes, Meg, then we can clamor like champions, if we have the spittle for it. But it’s God’s part, not our own, to bring ourselves to such a pass. Our natural business lies in escaping. If I can take the oath, I will.”

I tell my kids that they love poetry. “Huh?” The songs they listen to are filled with all different kinds of poetry. We all have song lyrics that beat within our own hearts. What could be more wonderful than beautiful words set to lovely music? I can’t list all the song lyrics I love….there are so many. What parent is not brought to tears by the poignant lyrics of Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game”? Or whose heart doesn’t swell with pride when anyone sings “America the Beautiful”? Even Tupac’s “Dear Mama” brings me to tears, probably because one of the kids said they were gonna play it at my funeral. And Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s hauntingly beautiful love song “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” must be the most romantic of all the love songs – “that in your eyes I may not see forever….forever…” Ahhh, truly sublime.

Who doesn’t have a favorite poem? I have many, some have changed my life. My old boss was posting some poems on Facebook not too long ago, and he posted this one:

someone's poem edit

That poem was a revelation to me, it was like God took one of those little flashlights you get at Walgreen’s, pointed it to my soul, and said, “See, I know you.” That’s what poetry does, that’s what good writing does. It helps us discover ourselves.

You see, reading is more than just filling out a job application or doing your taxes. Reading for some of us is as essential as eating or breathing. I read all the time much to the annoyance of my children, I can’t help myself. I do thank my teachers for teaching  me to read, but I thank these writers and others for fueling the desire to read.