How the New Year Goes

Here it is, the start of the second week of a new year, and I’m nursing a sprained ankle. Fortunately, it’s not the worst I’ve twisted the delicate joint, but it’s still a pain to deal with when there are stairs in the house and multiple children to keep up with. And I’ve used my down time these past twenty-four hours to do extra reading as well as scanning old photos to upload into my computer. So, it hasn’t been all swelling and tears.
The past month has been busy with family and church and friends. Just in the past week I’ve settled back into the typical routine with the kids, including homeschooling the oldest. The middle child is back at preschool three days a week and the youngest is obsessed with Pinkalicious. We read it several times a day.

As for my own reading, I’m caught up with all the issues of Children’s Writer newsletter and nearly up-to-date on my other subscriptions. I read the second book in The Luxe series, Rumors. (Yes, I was sucked into it after the first and now I need to find the third and fourth books to complete reading the story.) And I also read Edgesa debut novel by Lena Roy. She does have one of those fancy slash lines over the “e” in her name, but I’ve yet to figure out how to apply that on the computer.

Edges is one of those novels that is little on the outside but big on the inside. The characters are deep and complicated. They deal with both family and personal issues, including grief, alcoholism, and recovery. The whole story unfolds like a camelia blossom. By the time the center is exposed, you are wishing to cup the bloom in the palm of your hands to protect it from blowing apart in the winter winds because even though the ending is positive, you know the road is a difficult one for Luke, Eva, and their families.
Update on my writing projects:
Finished and submitted my nonfiction article, which will run in the NARB section of the March issue of Souvenirs, Gifts & Novelty magazine. My article on Autism friendly products has already been accepted and received praise from NARB board members. I’ll post a l ink to it when it is available.
As for the status of Corroded—it’s a few pages longer than it was at the time of my last blog post. Enough said.
I did open a poll after my last entry asking if those readers out there wanted me to post my first professionally published piece and the votes were all in the affirmative.
The following is my personal essay as it appeared in the July/August 2005 issue of TALL magazine.
Teen Totem
Your shoe catches on the door as you’re leaving Geometry. Able to steady yourself, you save the shame of falling into the hallway and exchange it for a few giggles from the girls behind you.
On the way to your locker a freshman jumps out of your path, evidently terrified of the giant headed his way.
“How’s the weather up there?” an immature senior calls out. His only response is the laughing of his friends. As if you haven’t heard that one before!
All this and it’s not even lunchtime yet!
If things like this happen to you, welcome to life with the most ghastly genetic disease among girls: tallness! Height can attract unsolicited stares and comments, which have the power to create emotional storms. It’s like being doomed to carry an orange umbrella, rain or shine. You’re bound to feel hideously awkward at some times, if not all of the time, as you stand out above the crowd. You receive so much attention when you’d rather shrink into the student body. Instead, you’re the totem pole in the school village.
Facing school every morning was a stomach-churning experience for me ever since elementary school. Several times I was in combination classrooms and lining up for class pictures was a nightmare each year. As a first grader I was the freak standing in the top row with the second grade boys. As a fourth and fifth grader I was in a fourth through sixth grade class. No matter what type of hunch I contorted into my observant teacher lead me towards the front of the line. Dear Miss Sawyer… she thought I should be proud of my height. How could she know the troubles when she was only five feet three? Because she’d been the young girl looking up at her tall friends wishing she would grow a few more inches.
The classic “I can’t see around her” can be an issue through the years. During school it may cause you to slouch in your chair or walk with your shoulders hunched. You prefer poor posture to “Teacher, she’s too tall! I can’t see the board.” I know I did! Life was much easier when I was bent over my paper or sitting in the back row. But outside of school the extra height proved invaluable. It’s easier to spot your car in a busy parking lot, and at entertainment events you always have a good view. Attending concerts was one of the most comfortable experiences of my early years. I was thankful for my height and actually felt sorry for the shorter people behind me.
Have you ever been embarrassed by your shoe size? I was mortified because I wore a size ten shoe and my feet were still growing. Most of the time I’d wear men’s athletic footwear, trying to convince myself my feet were only an eight and a half. Attending church and rare social events presented the problem of finding shoes in my size that didn’t add more than half an inch to my height or look like something my grandmother would wear. Feet can cause more emotional rain to pour. If your shoes were any bigger they’d be used as boats to navigate the floodwaters. But next time you see a picture of a supermodel on the runway look down at her feet. More than likely she’s working double digits in those heels.
Physical Education was the lowest point during the school day. When you’re tall people assume you play a sport and play it well. My lack of athletic capabilities lowered my G.P.A. each semester. One time when our class was dividing into volleyball teams I heard a girl say “She’s tall, pick her for our team.” But it was followed by a quick “No, she can’t play.” That day I was the last person standing in the middle of the court. The teacher had to assign me to a team and the other members groaned in protest. I think there’s a stain where I melted into the wood floor: another rain puddle. Everyone can’t be gifted in sports, though. I managed to make honor roll each semester even with my C’s in P.E. Where are your strong points?
Some psychologists say the use of any nicknames is demeaning, such as calling a child “pumpkin” can leave the young mind questioning her mother’s reason in referring to her as a fruit. Other people report that nicknames, not name calling, show others they are loved. I personally like inventing nicknames for other people… but don’t usually appreciate the names chosen for me! Having names like “Jolly Blond Giant”, “Tall One” or “Carrie is so very… tall!” shouted at me between classes was humiliating. What burned even more was that the friends calling me such titles had dainty names like “Tinker Bell” for themselves. I later learned that sometimes the trait people tease us about is often the thing they admire the most.
In the decade since high school I’ve been able to dump most of the baggage from my traumatized youth. Standing six feet tall has gotten easier thanks to a change of heart and environment- physical differences don’t mean so much as people mature. The most difficult thing has been relearning appropriate posture. I still have to remind myself to stand up straight and sit correctly. Today, I’m not ashamed to say I have size eleven wide shoes, though it’s still difficult to find shoes I like and I do revert to men’s shoes sometimes. Thankfully the nickname that stuck through the years is “Care Bear”, not one of the gangly terms. And more importantly, I have the knowledge of what it’s like to grow-up different. All these experiences will help during my current challenge of raising a special needs child. We all carry an orange umbrella; some of ours are just a little higher than others. At least up here it’s easier to spot the silver linings!

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