getting emotional about emotional IQ

Today I have been researching Emotional IQ/Intelligence and looking at the types of tests and quizzes that are out there.  There are many…everything from five question “fun” tests to the more scientifically based inventories that must be administered.  I took a few free ones.  What can I say, when I was very young my mother used to practice on us when she was training to be a psychometrist.  I like taking tests.

This first one I took can be found here.

It has quite a few questions, and it took me a little while to take it.  So I admit that I was a bit annoyed when all I got was a percentage at the end.  In order to see the breakdown I must buy the results.  however, in light of this exploration, I might just do that.  Oh, and my percentage is 88%, so I have good room for improvement.

Another aspect of this exploration is the link that has been mentioned in some articles between personality type and innate emotional intelligence.  I am of the opinion that emotional intelligence can be learned.  Like other skills, talents, and aptitudes, however, we all may possess differing innate ability/instinct.  As I mentioned in my last post, I was a rather awkward, deep-thinking, poetry writing, non-athletic, little girl.  I had to learn some of those social skills and cues that seemed to come naturally to some of my classmates.  Of course, part of the success came from the fact that I WANTED to learn….but that topic is for another post another day.

This is an online test based somewhat on the Jung and Myers-Briggs personality tests.  it gives you the four-letter breakdown.

To provoke a little thought, take a look at the different types and their descriptions.  Which ones do you think have an easier or more difficult time with emotional intelligence and social cues?  That does NOT mean one type is better than another. I could just as easily ask which type might be more organized….and trust me, it wouldn’t be mine! 🙂


Everyone knows THAT……



I am taking a break from creative writing to explore something that has often fascinated me: social cues and social understanding.

Okay, I admit that being raised a “southern belle,” and having certain life experiences has helped me with this exploration.  But…I remember very well being that awkward, highly intelligent, somewhat introverted girl who didn’t realize that not everyone thought “that way” and who at times had a playground target on her back.  I did all the wrong things at 11 when 3 girls decided not to like me, left notes in my desk, talked about me with whispers and giggles. Instead of shaking the dust from my feet and enjoying other friendships, I asked them all to a sleepover, and, well, I think we all know how that story ended. It wasn’t until I learned the “normal” way of dealing with those things that the target was removed.  Then, in college, when the director of a traveling singing group informed us that we would be responsible for greeting and conversing with everyone who attended out concerts, I froze inside.  Talking to random strangers of my own free will?? However, two weeks into the tour, I was saying friendly hellos, making small talk, and smiling comfortably with the best of them.  There was something innate in me, whether it be from my parents’ rearing, my own choices of observation, or because I made a study of people the way I made a study of math and literature, that understood that success with other humans = knowing how to play the game.  I don’t know how I knew this.  And it wasn’t a matter of putting on a mask or becoming a persona.  It was a matter of understanding that the parameters had been set long ago, and I could either choose to work within them or suffer the consequences of choosing NOT to work within them.  It sounds simple, but it was a process.  And now, when I see people who choose to ignore the same social cues and emotional intelligence markers over and over….I struggle over whether to be sympathetic or to shake my head and think, “How can you not see it?” Much like we feel for the person who is burned by the hot stove the first time.  But after the 4th time they put their hand there knowing what that red glow means……not so much.

The first thing I did was look for articles.  Most articles that pop up when one types “social cues” into Google have to do with Autism and Aspergers. Now, I know that not everyone who embraces their playground target has these disorders, so it was tough to wade through the mass of information to try to find some nuggets for “regular” people (not that people with disorders are not regular, heck, I have a disorder, but I couldn’t think of a better word).  The next deluge of articles, once I typed in “social cues in adults” were articles about adult ADHD.  Still not applicable to everyone, but at least now we are getting somewhere.  I found some helpful information.

Then it occurred to me, a lot of these things that seem “obvious” to me are actually more about social skills and those unwritten social rules that we either learn and embrace, learn and reject, or just don’t seem to learn.  With those terms, I hit the jackpot.  

So what prompted this exploration? Well, over the last several months I have encountered and observed people in a variety of situations who felt mistreated, were mistreated, reacted outside of the parameters to being or perceiving mistreatment, thereby guaranteeing more of the same.  It is a vicious cycle.  As a teacher of children I have seen it over and over.  A child is just…well, different.  And certain children tease them because of it.  At this point in the game it is rather simple.  Said children need to be taught to celebrate differences.  however, then the child who is teased does not understand those social cues or how to turn the situation around into success, and their reaction seems to engender even MORE teasing, which causes even greater reaction, and the cycle continues.  After a time, it is stressful to watch and a teacher is chagrined to know what to do.  While bullies SHOULD be called into account, the child who keeps inviting through their complete disregard for social cues needs to be taught as well.  We do a child no favors by just punishing the bully and never teaching the victim how to socially cope.

And so my exploration begins.  I am not touting dishonesty, fakery, or training someone to be the homecoming queen.  But the rules – unwritten or not – are there.  And we can learn to be authentic within them and reduce anxiety and stress, or we can operate outside the general norms, in which case we should not question when the norms rub up against us in an unpleasant way.

musings of an awkward 11 year old girl

I started this manuscript about 11 years ago.  It was to be called “True Confessions of a Kickball Reject.” It was one of those stories that sounded really good when I was slightly manic but now hurts my head.  It’s supposed to be a kids’ book. Like if Judy Blume and James Joyce had a kid and didn’t give her the Ritalin she needed.Chapter one here:


Good afternoon folks!  It’s the top of the fifth inning, and the blue team is up to the plate.  They’ve gone through their first string, and Livingston is up.  Livingston, a fifteenth round pick, has quite a reputation on the field.  Here comes the ball.  And she appears to be ready.  Here she goes.  Wow! Did you see that folks?!  Not only did she kick the ball backwards, she landed flat on her backside in the dust!  What a play!  No wonder she was picked in the fifteenth round.

I’m not sure about you, but I am very glad that elementary playgrounds do not have sports announcers.  Having Walker Haney’s voice echoing against the brick wall is bad enough.  It’s not like I planned to kick the ball backwards.

What is it with kickball anyway?  Or any sort of ball, for that matter.  It isn’t a fair fight.  If you’re good at throwing, catching, kicking, hitting, and running, you can do anything.  But if you’re only good at playing the piano and using the pottery wheel in the art room, you’re in big trouble.  I should know.  I’m Livingston, the fifteenth round pick.  And that’s just because there were fifteen on a team!

Now, take Kimberly Tate, for instance.  She is good at everything.  She always gets picked first.  In fact, William once threatened to punch Mickey right in the face if Mickey picked Kimberly first.  Not that he could have – Mickey was big.  He just got mad and put William on the top of his beat up list.  I was on Mickey’s beat up list once.  He wanted to wear my glasses, and I wouldn’t let him.  I got scared after I found out I was on the list, though.  I let him wear my glasses, and he said I must have deformed eyes because he couldn’t see a thing.  I thought, duh, why do you think I got glasses.  I wouldn’t tell him that, though.  Especially after he had just removed me from his beat up list.

Oh, sorry, I was talking about Kimberly.  She could run faster than a lot of the boys, and I never once saw her wear a dress.  I guess dresses slow you down when you want to run.  I used to wish I could hit a softball like Kimberly.  Of course, when she drew a horse, it looked more like a whale, but at least she got picked first for kickball.

Now, I want you to understand.  I don’t have anything against P.E. or even kickball.  My Dad taught at the college, and he taught all the future P.E. teachers.  He played football, basketball, tennis, and a bunch of other sports.  Sometimes I wondered if he liked having a daughter who played the piano, wrote poetry, and couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, much less a softball.  But he always got this goofy smile on his face during my piano recitals, so I guess he was okay with it.

Well, after I landed flat on you-know-where that day, I had just about had it with kickball.  And I had just about had it with Walker.  I walked back to the sidelines, and I noticed Walker giving me one of those looks.  I looked him and yelled, “Don’t say a word.”  He looked at me and yelled back, “A Word!”  That’s exactly the kind of thing you would expect from Walker.  My Dad likes telling this story about Walker and me.  We were in kindergarten.  According to my dad, I came home crying and said, “Walker hit me!”  Dad asked me why Walker hit me, and I answered, “Because I spit on him.”    Ha ha.  I think my dad left something out; this cannot be the whole story.  Walker had to have been doing something to me.  I would never spit on a person for no reason.  That’s just gross.

Anyway, I was fed up with balls.  I wanted to climb the monkey bars – to the third rung, of course.  And I wanted to swing and walk on the balance beam.  But the gymnastic equipment was only up once a month, and even that had its down side.  On Gymnastics Day, we had to climb the white metal fence.

The white metal fence looked easy from the ground.  You climb up one side, just like a ladder, throw your leg over, and climb down the other side.  Like I said, it looked easy from the ground.  But when I got up to the top, there was just something about throwing my leg over that did not seen right.  This couldn’t be a safe thing for children to do.  If I didn’t throw my leg far enough, I wouldn’t make it, and I might fall on my head.  If I threw my leg too far, the force of the leg could knock the whole thing over.  Nope, sorry.  There was no way I was throwing that leg over.  That is, until the day my dad came to encourage me.  I figured being crushed by a white metal fence wasn’t that much worse than having your dad yell, “Come on, sis!  You can do it!  You can do it!”  In front of Walker, Kimberly, and twenty other kids I’d have to face every day.

I used to go to my dad’s office and look through all of his students’ notebooks.  They had to make these big P.E. notebooks and fill them with games and sports and exercise stuff.  The writing part was boring, but the pictures were great.  Sometimes the girls would cover their notebooks in puffy fabric and sew characters like Snoopy and Bugs Bunny on the front.  Then, they would decorate the divider parts with more pictures.  One time a girl even cross-stitched a matching picture for my dad to keep.  It had a lamb on it, and it said, “Ewe are special.”  I didn’t know then that baby lambs are called ewes.  I just thought, boy, she can play basketball, but she sure can’t spell.  The boys’ notebook weren’t near as interesting.  They had pictures of famous athletes cut out of magazines and glued on.  One boy took that sticky paper that Mom uses to line her kitchen drawers, and he stuck on his notebook.  It looked gross, but it smelled like flowers.  Anyway, the notebooks were neat.  They had all sorts of games, and even things like dancing or playing with giant parachutes.  My school didn’t have a P.E. teacher, so we just played kickball.  Well, sometimes we played baseball, and occasionally we played battle-ball, which should be against the law for children.

The day I died…..

It was sunny on the day that I died.  There was no water on the road.  In fact, the sky was bluer than I could remember it having been for some time.  So why, as I sped around the curve and prepared to pass one of my favorite restaurants, did my wheels begin to lose contact with the road?  I heard the screeching, and I remember thinking, “at least there will be skid marks.”  Isn’t that strange?  My life didn’t pass before my eyes, I didn’t scream my children’s names.  I was just thankful that there would be skid marks.  And as the car crashed through the guardrail, I remember thinking about how weightless I felt.

And then the car made contact with the ground the first time.  It didn’t hurt really, not after the first second.  The car bounced and rolled until it finally lost momentum.  There was the sound of steam and the sight of smoke, and one rear wheel was turning.  And there was silence.  There isn’t much occasion for someone to look down the embankment, so thank goodness it was a busy afternoon.  Several people stopped and began dialing 911.  They bent over the remaining guardrail carefully, checking for any sign of movement or life.  They didn’t know that I was already gone.  Before long the wailing sounds of sirens could be heard.  It was as if they were mourning for me.  Thank goodness there will be skid marks, it feels so weightless, don’t hurry, I’m already gone.

At the hospital I only remember four faces, and how I wish I could forget them.  The pain on the faces of my husband and three children was more than I could bear.  I wanted to reach out to them, to speak to them.  But it was too late.  Eventually more and more faces appeared, family, colleagues, and friends from church.  But of course by then we were at home.  There’s no need to be gathered at the hospital.  So even with its unmopped corners and unwashed laundry, our house became a meeting place for the grieving and the curious.

My funeral was typical.  There weren’t too many flowers.  I had requested that donations be made to a particular charity, and though many people did not know what it was, they donated.  Thank goodness Joseph didn’t allow anyone to sing that awful “Beulah Land” song.  I had always told him that if he had that song I would come out of the casket and slap whoever was singing.  Someone sang “Where Joy and Sorrow Meet,” and the congregation sang “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place.”  I scanned the church and wasn’t surprised by the faces I saw there.  And I wasn’t surprised by the faces I didn’t see there.  There were tears, and there was soft conversation.  Eventually, everyone spilled into the parking lot.  There would be no graveside service because I had chosen to be cremated.

And so now my children and husband sit alone in our unmopped house.  And though I dreamed of being free of life so many times and in so many ways, this is not how I would have wished it.


written in February of 2010

The Traveling Shoebox – chapter 2

Someone in a comment said they couldn’t wait to read chapter 2, which thrilled me 🙂  So here it is

That night, Josephina had a strange dream.  The leaning waitress had all of Gladys’ sketches from the shoebox in frames.  She was talking to the stocky hostess. “Yes, these belong to my stepdaughter.  Isn’t she sweet?  Her father is such a nice man…Here he is now.”  The leaning waitress sat on the couch next to Josephina’s father and put her head on his shoulder. 

            Josephina sat up in bed.  Her face was wet again.  She walked across the guest room and closed the door.  She took her backpack, went into the guest bathroom, and closed that door as well.  Then she got into the tub and turned on the tub light that was set in the ceiling.  Carefully, Josephina spread her mother’s sketches in rows on the bottom of the tub.  The pagoda came first, then theEiffelTower, then Stonehenge, then theGrand Canyon.  She remembered her mother circling each location on the world map.  After filling the tub with sketches, Josephina place the framed photos along the ledge of the tub.  Cathedrals, bridges, The House of Parliament, and a herd of sheep standing on the side of an Alp.  Then Josephina lay down in the tub.  She fell asleep.

            The next morning, Josephina woke to the sound of knocking.  “Yosie-phina, Yosie-phina,” her grandmother called.  “Are you there?  Are you sick?”

            “I’m in here.  I’m fine.  I’ll be out in a minute.”  Josephina climbed out of the bathtub and packed her shoebox.  She hid it under the towels in the cabinet.  After brushing her teeth and putting on her robe, she walked down the hall and into the kitchen.  There was a large pitcher of juice on the table and a plate of muffins with nuts in them.  Josephina looked at her grandmother in surprise.  “I thought you hated cooking.”

            “Your father is in big trouble for saying that.  I can do muffins.  They came from a box.”  She tapped Josephina on the head and began washing the muffin tin.  “Josephina Marguerite Higginbotham.  That is a lot of name for a small person.  I guess you will grow into it.  Of course, maybe you won’t grow as much as me,” her grandmother laughed.  Her grandmother was tall, almost as tall as her son.  And, though she wasn’t fat at all, she was not thin.  Her hair was short and stylish and almost completely silver.  Apparently, her father did color his hair.  Her grandmother also had the family nose, but her eyes were very dark.  Her hands were long and thin, and she wore a diamond wedding band.  She finished washing the tin, dried her hands, and sat down beside her granddaughter.  “Alright, Josephina Marguerite, what should we do now?”

            “Where’s, I mean, where’s….my father?”  It felt strange to say “my father” out loud.

            “Oh, he had to go to his office this morning.  But he cancelled his afternoon classes, and he has promised to take us to lunch.  Did you unpack last night?”

            “I just put my suitcase on the dresser.”

            “Well, you might as well unpack a few things.  After all, you will be here a week.”

            Josephina was puzzled.  “But I thought my room was already painted.”

            “Painted?  Well, yes, that is part of it.  You room used to be the study in Robert’s apartment, where he did his schoolwork.  He is having the large room divided into a den and a study.  It won’t be finished until next week.”

            He’s building a whole room because of me.  I wonder if he wanted to give up his study.  I wonder how big the large room is, if it can be made into two rooms.  Josephina didn’t feel like finishing her muffin, so she took a sip of juice.  “I think I’ll go unpack then.”  She left the juice and went back to the bedroom.

            It didn’t take long for Josephina to unpack.  She placed her socks and underwear in a top drawer.  She placed her gown and shirts in a middle drawer.  Her jeans and pants went into a bottom drawer.  She tossed the shoes into the closet.  Then she closed the bedroom door and retrieved her shoebox from under the towels.  She wasn’t sure why she was hiding it, but she didn’t want anyone asking about it.  She put it in the middle drawer under her shirts.  Then, she took it back out of the drawer and opened it.  She took out the photograph of her mother.  Gladys was wearing a white shirt and a vest, and she was sitting on a green bench in the park where she and Josephina had seen the Shakespeare play.  She was smiling, and she seemed to be looking at something far away.  It was Josephina’s favorite picture of her mother.  She placed it on the dresser beside her father’s family picture.

            “Yosie-phina,” her grandmother called, “I need to talk with you for a minute.  Could you come to the kitchen?”

            Josephina walked down the hall slowly, thinking that her grandmother spent an awful lot of time in the kitchen for someone who hated to cook.

            “There you are.  I have to walk down the street a bit to help a neighbor.  She is old, and she needs help getting ready for an appointment.  Will you be alright few a little while here by yourself?”  Josephina nodded.  “Good girl.  I won’t be long.  Help yourself to anything in the fridge.  You can also watch the television, although I don’t have cable.  The cable channels are full of garbage.”

            Josephina went back to the bedroom and sat on the bed.  She decided it was time to put on real clothing, and she wanted a bath.  In the top drawer of the bathroom counter, she found a small bottle of lavender bath gel.  She poured some of it into the tub while it filled with water.  It was not exactly like a bubble bath, but it was close enough.  Josephina took off her clothes and sank into the tub.  It was so full, water spilled over the side.  She jumped out, mopped up the water with a big towel, and climbed back in.  She moved her feet back and forth just enough to make small waves as she rested her head against the tile wall.  She didn’t know how long her grandmother would be gone, but she hoped to stay in the tub until her toes and fingers were sufficiently pruned.

            After approximately twenty minutes of soaking, Josephina got out of the tub and dried off with a different towel.  She put on jeans and a flowered sweatshirt.  Her hair, as usual, was all over her head.   She ran her fingers through it a few times and pulled it back with a rubber band.  She was brushing her teeth again when she heard her grandmother close the front door and throw her keys on the end table in the living room.  A few seconds later, there was a soft knock at the guest room door.

            “I just wanted to let you know I am back home.  Do you need anything?”

            “No, I’m okay.  I took a bath.”

            “Good, good.  That should make you feel better.  Let me know if you need anything.”

            Strange as it seemed, Josephina was sleepy, though she had only been awake for a couple of hours.  She lay across the striped bedspread and fell asleep.

            “Josephina, Josephina…Where are you?”

            “I’m here, Mama.  I’m right here.”

            “I can’t get out of bed, Jo.  Please go get me some water.”

            “What’s wrong, Mama?  Do you have a fever?”

            “No, I just can’t get up today.  I feel so tired.  I need some water, and I need to sleep.  Could you close the blinds, please?”

            “What’s wrong?  Are you crying?  You never cry, Mama.”

            “Yes I do.  I cry at movies all the time, Jo.”

            “I mean really cry.  Please tell me what’s wrong.”

            “Jo, I am so tired. Please bring me some water.”

            Josephine was cold.  She climbed under the covers and curled up with her back to the window.

            “Mama, it’s time to go…Mama, wake up.  Mama…Please wake up.  Please wake up, Mama!  What are these?  Did you take these?  Mama, please wake up…”

            “Josephine, are you okay?  You’re so quiet in there.  Your father will be home soon.  Are you dressed yet?”

            Josephine sat on the bed and rubbed the sides of her head.  She was groggy from her nap, and she felt heavy all over.  She went into the bathroom and washed her face.  She had to take her hair down and pull it up again.  Little curls were wet with sweat against the back of her neck, so she rubbed some cold water on her neck.  She smoothed the covers and walked into the living room, where her grandmother was reading.

            “Ah, there you are.  You have been sleeping since you got here.  You must have been tired.  Maybe you can get some good rest before you begin school.”

            Instead of sitting on the couch, Josephine walked into the kitchen and looked at the photos on the wall.  “You have a lot of pictures,” she said.

            Ylenia joined her.  “Yes, I love to have these pictures in the kitchen.  I can look at them all the time.  This one,” she pointed to a black and white photograph, “is your grandfather and I when we were married.”  She reached over to another photograph.  “And this is your father on his first birthday.”

            The photograph was in a brown frame.  A little boy with his hair sticking up was sitting at the head of a picnic table.  He was wearing a pointed hat, and there was a large, round cake in front of him.  His cheeks were puffed out, and his mouth formed a small “o,” as if he was about to blow out the candles.

            “I remember that day so well.  Robert’s sister, Julia, was five years old, and she helped your great aunt make the cake.  Julia died last year.”

            “I’m sorry,” Josephina said softly.  She would like to have met her aunt. 

            Ylenia looked at the picture for a moment.  “Yes, well…I think your father will be here soon.  Where would you like to eat lunch?  McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza?”

            “It doesn’t matter, wherever you like to eat is fine.”

            “How about if we let your father decide?” 

            Josephina nodded and smiled.  She noticed a picture in a new silver frame.  It was blurry, but she could make out two people.  They both looked very familiar, but it was hard to tell because they were so blurred.  “Who are those people?”

            Ylenia looked surprised.  “Why, those are your parents before you were born.”

            Josephina stood and looked closely at the picture.  It was her parents.  Her mother’s hair was very long, and she was wearing a dress with a pattern that was hard to see.  Her father was wearing a dark suit, and his hair was curlier.  She realized as she looked closer that they were standing on the small porch of her grandmother’s house.

            “My mother came here?”

            “Yes, about twelve years ago, for your grandfather’s funeral.  She was a charming girl.  That was about three months before Robert got the teaching job and moved back.  It was about a year before you were born, I guess.”

            Josephina wanted to ask more, but her father came through the front door and asked, “Who’s hungry?”  He jingled his keys.  “I have had a long morning.  I am ready to eat.  How about you two?”

            “We’ve been talking and waiting, “ Ylenia answered.  “In fact, we were just admiring my photo gallery.  Josephina has been asking about the family.”

            Robert walked over and looked at the photos on the wall.  He smiled slightly as he scanned over some of his childhood pictures, shaking his head and pointing to the birthday photograph.  Then the new silver frame caught his eye.  He leaned in closer, squinting to make out the blurry images.  “When did you take this picture?”

            “I took the day of your father’s funeral, remember?”

            “Yes, I remember the trip very well,” he gave his mother a look that Josephina didn’t understand.  “I’m surprised you put up a picture.”

            Ylenia looked at the picture and then looked at Josephina.  “Yes, well, I thought it might be a good addition to the wall now.  I know it’s blurry.”  She turned to Josephina.  “Maybe Josephina has a better picture of her mother that she would like to put in a frame.  How about that?”

            Josephina didn’t know what to say.  It was obvious that the blurred picture had sparked some kind of unhappy memory in her father.  Maybe it was because of his dad’s funeral.  Fortunately, Robert saved Josephina from answering.

            “Well ladies, looking at pictures isn’t filling my stomach.  Let’s go to lunch.”

            They ate at a small restaurant with tablecloths and lots of different salads.  It had been Josephina’s grandmother’s idea.  There was soft music playing, and all the waiters were dressed alike.  Most of the people there had on business clothing, and Josephina felt a little self-conscious in her wild hair and blue jeans.  The waiter came to take their order while she was thinking about this.  Robert ordered a soup and salad, Ylenia ordered a Greek salad, and Josephina finally decided on a bowl of potato soup.  It was a little chilly in the restaurant.

            “Now Robert,” Josephina’s grandmother began.  “Josephina is looking forward to spending time with you.  So here is what I thought.  After lunch, you can take me back to the house, and you and Josephina can go out, maybe to a movie or to the park.  When you get home, we’ll make supper plans.”

            “Actually,” said Josephina’s father, “I have some tentative plans.”  He turned to Josephina.  “How would you both like to go to the art museum after lunch?”

            “That would be really nice,” Josephina replied.  She wondered, however, how her father knew that she liked art.  Of course, he and her mother had obviously talked recently, making arrangements for Josephina to come live with him.  She wondered what else her mother had told him.  She wondered if he liked art museums.

            Art museums had been one of Gladys’ favorite places.  Many of Josephina’s earliest memories were of holding her mother’s hand, hearing names like Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dali.  Her mother would sit, holding Josephina, and stare at the paintings.  Sometimes Josephina would fall asleep on the narrow bench, and her mother would sketch.  As Josephina walked with her father and grandmother, she saw works by many of the same artists she had heard her mother talk about.

            After strolling through the gallery for some time, they came to a painting by Vincent van Gough.  It was a painting of a large wheat field, with dozens of small crows flying up from the tall grassy wheat.  The title underneath said “Wheatfield with Crows.”  Josephina had seen the painting before in one of her mother’s calendars, and she had always wondered about the place in the painting.  In her mind, she pictured an old farmer with a beard and a straw hat, and an old woman with a flowered apron.

            “Your mother liked Van Gough?” Ylenia’s voice interrupted Josephina’s thoughts.

            “She likes paintings.  She loves to draw,” Josephina answered absently, still thinking about the old farmer and his wife.

            “Your mother seemed like a creative, artistic person.  I am so sorry I only met her once.”

            At that remark, Josephina’s father, who had been standing silently, sighed and walked away abruptly.  Josephina had almost forgotten he was there, and his clipped footsteps on the hard floor brought her mind back into focus.  She wondered why he had walked away.

            “He’s angry with me, dear,” Ylenia answered Josephina’s unspoken question.  “And I suppose he has a right to be.”

            “Why is my father angry with you?”

            Ylenia looked toward her son, then at the floor, then at the painting.  “Sometimes mothers are so protective of their children, or maybe so selfish, that they hurt them without meaning to.”

            “My mother has never hurt me,” Josephina said softly.

            Her grandmother looked at her sadly and fiddled with a strand of her curly hair.  “I’m sure she hasn’t, Josephina.”  Ylenia looked at the painting for another moment.  “Let’s go home.  It’s almost time for supper.”


Fanfare for the Common Man


Taken from The Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…..


We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


this is a verse

to say goodbye

to things that never were

this is a verse 

to say farewell

to water never pure

this is a line to bid adieu

to conditions never true

this is where i

must say goodbye

to who i thought

was you

this is the place

i try to reconcile

naive belief

the rhythmic phrases

telling me

that i should feel


for this is the place

i understand

that those who

want to see

will choose to know

and choose to ask

not believe the worst

of me

so this is the place

i lat it down

MY disappointment in

the ease with which’the world believes

that i am not

a friend