Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Little Drummer Girl from Bridgeport Connecticut

The Little Drummer Girl A

I spent a couple of hours yesterday reading through a creative writing fellowship application, and came to the following question:

What was the first piece of creative writing you ever produced?

Since I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, I really had to dig deep for the answer.

And since my response is required as part of the fellowship application (should I decide to even apply), I figured I could practice up with this blog entry. You know, write it down and then see if it has any legs.

It was December, and I was in the third grade at Saint Ambrose Catholic School. I will never forget that it was right before Christmas, because our teacher, Sister Regina Mary, placed a small figurine of the baby Jesus in his manger on a table in our classroom and gave us an assignment.

Each one of us was to bring a gift for the baby Jesus on or prior to the last day before the holiday break. It could be a monetary donation for the St. Ambrose School or church, a wrapped gift that would be passed out at a local orphanage on Christmas day, or some canned or jarred goods that would be donated to a food kitchen.

My classmates were beyond excited. Me? Not so much. What kind of gift could I possibly round up for the baby Jesus?

Because we wore school uniforms, there was hardly anything to tip off my fellow classmates to the fact that I was dirt poor.

I say hardly because my shoes were always the giveaway.

While others were shopping at the local department stores, I was supplied with clothes from the Salvation Army. And since my feet were huge, the only footwear appropriate for my age and fit me, were boy’s shoes.

The old adage “You can judge a person by their shoes,” didn’t work so well for me back then.

Anyway, after school that day, I walked home defeated and depressed. Heck, we couldn’t even afford shoes so my thoughts came back to the same dilemma.

How was I supposed to muster up an impressive gift for the baby Jesus?

My grandmother, always the optimist, sat me down at the kitchen table to “put our heads together.” But try as we could, the bottom line? I had no gift to give.

And then it hit me. I had no gift to give!

Neither did the little drummer boy, I told my grandmother. And then we went to work.

Days before the holiday break, the kids were bringing in envelopes of all sizes and colors, beautifully wrapped Christmas gifts, canned soups, hams, jars of jellies and jams, other non-perishable goodies, and decorative tins of that God awful fruit cake.

For several nights before the “deadline” I would sit at the kitchen table with my grandmother. While I vigorously wrote away, she created a masterful drum for me. She meticulously adorned a Quaker Oats container in gold foil wrapping paper saved from the year before. Then she rummaged around in her sewing kit and found some red piping to further enhance the look of the drum.

As she glued, I wrote.

On the last day before the holiday break, I was a nervous wreck and started to regret my whole simpleminded drummer girl story line.

My grandmother lent me two of her wooden crochet hooks for drumsticks, shoved them, the drum, and my hand-written story into a brown paper grocery bag and sent me on my way.

As I dragged myself to school, I rehearsed aloud and prayed that I wouldn’t let my nerves get the best of me and screw up my baby Jesus gift.

As the school bell rang, I squirmed nervously at my desk, with the paper bag carefully resting on my tapping ugly boy shoes.

When Sister Regina Mary asked if anyone had any last minute gifts for the baby Jesus, I warily and shyly raised my hand. She looked at me with disdain.

Another back story I should mention.

Because I was raised in a home with all women (my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother) and no father, the nuns didn’t take too kindly to me. I was from a “broken home,” and as such, a second-hand sinner.

The Sister indifferently asked me to come up to the front of the class.

I took a deep breath, grabbed the paper bag, and walked over to the baby Jesus.

I pulled out my story, silently told myself I could do this, and recited it to the class.

The story was about a poor girl from Bridgeport Connecticut, who was supposed to give a gift to the baby Jesus. But she had no money, and so she had no gift. And then she came up with an idea with her grandmother. A simple gift that she prayed the baby Jesus would like.

The whole class was whispering and asking each other what this stupid girl wearing boy’s shoes was talking about.

Sister Regina Mary stood by the blackboard with her arms crossed waiting for the baby Jesus gift.

I reached into the paper bag, pulled out the contents, and began to sing — Little Drummer Boy style…

Little baby Pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor girl too Pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring Pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give our King Pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum
Shall I play for you? Pa rum pum pum pum
On my drum

Mary nodded Pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time Pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him Pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him Pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum
Then He smiled at me Pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum

Tears filled Sister Regina Mary’s eyes but to be honest, I could care less. Sister Regina Mary was of no importance to me.

What was of import, was that I was proud of myself and mostly relieved the whole stressful ordeal was over.

The bottom line? I had given my all for the baby Jesus.

But most importantly, and what I will never forget for as long as I live…

As I turned around to go back to my seat, I caught a fleeting glimpse of my grandmother slipping quietly away from the classroom door.

The Holiday Blues

The-Holiday-Blues
Joy to the world? Not for everyone.

For many, the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving and ending on New Year’s Day serves as a reminder of lost loved ones and a happier, simpler time.

Me? I need to find me a river and skate away…

Joy to the world, the holidays are here
no joy for me, just sadness and fear.
I try to remember the things that meant so much
like my grandmother’s smile, my mother’s touch.
But year after year I can’t seem to let go
of the saddest moments, I will ever know.
During this season, I wish the pain would go away
so I can enjoy just one lousy peaceful day.
For once I want to feel alive and whole
and not let a few weeks take such a personal toll.
I somehow need to figure out a way
to find the light and keep the darkness at bay.

 

“You Ain’t No Muslim, Bruv.”

Malik & Farook
Two days after a knife attack in a London subway left a 56-year-old man seriously injured, all attention has been on the reaction of a bystander who shouted to the Muslim attacker: “You ain’t no Muslim, bruv.”

Ms. Tashfeen Malik, with a degree in pharmacology, could have taken advantage of the “American Dream.” But that wasn’t why she came here. Malik’s sole purpose for coming to the U.S. was to destroy the American dream.

And Malik took advantage of a relatively easy way into the U.S.

She was granted a K-1 visa, also known as a “90-day-fiance’ visa,” which has long been considered a questionable and often fraudulent way for foreigners to gain entry into the U.S.

Everyone, including the FBI, is investigating the “why.” The answer to the “why” is simple: Radical Islam believes that Muslims are destined to rule the world and that the West must be confronted and dealt with.

“The two killers were radicals for a long time,” the FBI was quoted as saying yesterday.

So you tell me. Their families were unaware that they were radicalized?

Tashfeen Malik’s mother lived with them. She never noticed the arsenal of weapons in the couple’s two-bedroom townhouse?

Where was Malik’s mother when Malik and Farook donned black masks and tactical gear, grabbed tons of weapons, and ran out to kill 14 people and wound 21 others?

According to news reports, Malik’s mother was in the townhouse watching the couple’s 6-month-old daughter.

Now most of what Trump has to say has me shaking my head in wonderment. But I have to agree with him when he says “We are now at war.”

And here is what I have to say to all Muslims living in the United States:

You need to stand up for Americans and the American dream or go to some other country where you like the people and/or their government better.

If Muslims can’t be proactive and do the right thing, you are simply and frankly Un-American.

IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.

The G.O.P. Got Trumped

Trump
I was going to title this blog “Bush Got Trumped,” but let’s be real here, Jeb has pretty much become a bush-league player. Pun intended.

One measly ex-Governor? No—that’s not Trump’s style. In all his trumped up glory, the Donald has taken on the entire Republican Party.

Some say that Trump is running to ensure the presidential win for Hillary. He’s acting as her apprentice so to speak. The theory is it’s a win-win for Trump. He gets the Republican nomination and is a hero. Hillary becomes the first woman President of the United States and the Donald? Well, he’s a hero.

I don’t buy that theory. Because that’s not how Trump rolls. He actually believes he can win this “thing.”

Now, I don’t believe that Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. But I do believe that a Trump nomination could possibly undo many of the gains Republicans have made in the recent State and local elections. And then there goes the Republican majority in the Senate.

According to a Wikipedia page on the 1964 Congressional elections, Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory over Barry Goldwater allowed his Democratic Party to gain a net of 36 seats from the Republican Party, giving them a two-thirds majority in the House. This was the largest House majority held by either party since 1936.

Many of the highest-ranking and wealthiest Republicans want Trump out. But who needs to publicly bicker and scrap with the insult-spewing Donald?

We all know that Trump loves to belittle and berate his critics 24/7. That’s been his game plan since day one, and it seems to be working well for him.

And let’s be honest, it doesn’t look like Trump is getting fired anytime soon.

I wasn’t a fan of Trump’s reality game show The Apprentice, but this is one reality show I’m not going to miss.