Friday, May 7, 2010

The Million Dollar Park

It is funny how a single object could bring back such vivid memories. I was driving home from work today and I passed "The Million Dollar Park" which is sort of like an inside joke to my family. The park is actually named Nicholas Lia Memorial Park and is located in Staten Island, NY (one of NYC's boroughs).

My brother, Gilbert Orlando Gadson II, has always been in trouble. At the age of two, he drank my hair dye. Yes, I said hair dye. At the age of five, he stole donuts from his kindergarten teacher. That is another post altogether. At the age of 14, he had been suspended from school so many times, we thought he was going to be home-schooled. Gilbert was the sort of kid that got into trouble but you just couldn't help but love him. He had such a kind heart. If anyone in the family needed him, he was there.

But I digress . . . Gilbert was about 13 or 14 years old when I lived in my aunt's house. I lived in the upstairs rooms (two bedrooms and a bathroom) and my aunt had the downstairs rooms (three bedrooms, bathroom, living room and kitchen). One week, my aunt noticed that she had twenty dollars missing. The following week, my uncle noticed that he had money missing. The third week, I was missing money. We knew that there was a thief in the house but we just didn't know who it could possibly be.

One day, shortly after I was missing money, my cousin tells my aunt that he saw Gilbert with money. My cousin asked Gilbert, "Where did you get the money?" Gilbert replied,"In the park. It was on the sidewalk near the grass." My cousin, being curious, followed Gilbert. He said that Gilbert dug up the soil near the bushes in the park and "found" several twenty dollar bills. My cousin then proceeded in telling my aunt and myself. We confronted Gilbert and with an Academy Award nomination, he cried tears and professed that he did not take our money. He adamantly stated that he found the money. This was our reply, " So what now you're finding money in million dollar parks. Where is this park? I need some money right now." Hence, the park's name.

Now that I reflect on that gut-wrenching scene, I realize that I would rather have my brother here and stealing from me than gone resting in an urn in my sister's home.

I love you, hermanito.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Just When You Thought You Knew Somebody

Sometimes we think we know our kids. We raise them, live with them and talk to them frequently. However, sometimes your kid will make a comment that really gets you thinking, "Well maybe I don't know them so well."

Now let me put this into context for you. I am sitting at the kitchen table with my friend discussing my three children and their various achievements. We begin talking about my 13 year old being in the Junior ARISTA society, prom, graduation and her good grades. I was under the impression that I treated all of my children equally. However, my 15 year old son made a comment that surprised me. "Oh yeah, talk about the starchild." He gets up, with his head hanging down, and leaves the room.

I was shocked. These words nearly broke my heart. As a mother, you don't want your children feeling like the ugly duckling. It occurred to me that perhaps, I don't give him enough attention or the praise he deserves. Its not that I think he is a "trouble maker" (as he views himself). I just feel that he has made some bad choices in the past and is now paying the consequences of those actions. But that is beside the point. I now see that perhaps my son feels that the girls take up all of my attention.

Similarly, I noticed that in my writing, sometimes a character may not receive the attention to detail that they deserve. Peripheral characters truly support and provide a background for our main characters. During revision, I plan to polish some of these characters so that they not only provide a backbone for the main character but also coherently solidify the potholes in the storyline.

Course of action- give my son more one on one attention where just he and I are conversing about anything he chooses. No, this will not happen every single day but I have set aside some quality time. Let's see how it works.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Routines. This is a concept I have tried to drill into my students. Often, every morning in study hall, you will hear this conversation:

"Okay, take out your homework from yesterday so we can go over it."

The random groan will be heard from those who have not one assignment done. From those wh
o completed "something" you may hear a shuffling of papers.

"Ms. P., I didn't do my homework."

"Why didn't you do your homework?"

A number of excuses will be used, such as "I didn't have a pen," or my personal favorite, "I had my friends over and we played some games on the PS3." I am just happy none of them have used the "I wa
s with my girl/boyfriend." That would probably send me over the top.

I respond, "Do any of you go home and do homework as soon as you enter your house? No. You probably went home. Threw your bookbag on the couch, or the corner in your room or hung it up in the closet. You then did not look at your bookbag until this morning when you left
for school. Am I correct?"

This is where the students giggle, look to the side or say, "Yup."

Of course this would follow: "You guys have got to set up a routine at home that incorporates homework. When you get home, take 30 minutes to do whatever you need to do. Use the bathroom, eat a snack, bother your sister or brother. But once that half hour is done, you need to hit the books. Get homework and all studying out of the way. Then you can do whatever it is you choose to do- video games, TV, chores and anything else under the sun."

Did they listen? I can only hope. We'll see tomorrow.

I am one of those individual who needs structure and routine in all areas of my life including my writing. I found that I haven't been "walking the walk," so to speak. I've been running around and not really making "To Do Lists" or creating a routine that is easily followed. I haven't broken down my life into manageable chunks. I also haven't applied this to my writing. Yes, I have been more active with my writer's group but the activity is for review of their work, not my own. So, I am creating a schedule/ routine that will hopefully be more manageable and productive to my writing- starting with this blog. Let's see how it works.