OMG Moments

Have you ever had an OMG, it’s a small world moment? Or several. Don’t you wonder why these events occur?
Last night, while perusing Facebook, along the side, on my “suggested friends” list was Mary Jane, the sister I’d met at my friend’s destination wedding in Cancun, Mexico a year or so ago. It said she had 3 friends in common w/ me. Eileen (said friend & Mary Jane’s sister), of course, — the bride and her husband, Rob & my husband’s cousin, Elisa. Elisa? I was taken aback. How does Mary Jane know Elisa? So I did some investigating & it turns out she was Elisa’s college roommate. The surprising thing is that Eileen & Mary Jane are from Pennsylvania– not really close to Connecticut. Furthermore, they attended college in D.C. So I IM’d Eileen & her response is “Shut Up”… “I’ve known Elisa for a very long time.” In all actuality, Mary Jane was probably in attendance at Elisa’s wedding, if not IN it, and I probably met Mary Jane long before I’d met Eileen (my now friend, colleague & neighbor).
A few months ago, I was updating my status on FB during hurricane Irene– recollecting the last hurricane, Gloria, in the 80’s when I was attending college & doing my homework by candlelight for a week w/o power. When a current friend of mine, Joey (the photographer whom I met through work/school– he photographs the kids for their senior pictures and all of the events at the school), writes… “WAIT, Are you the Donna Carbone who lived at Fitch Warner at S.C.S.U.? Your roommate was Patty?” I looked shockingly at the screen, feeling a little… stalked. To this I reply, “Yes, and how would you know this?” He said he’d lived in the apartment upstairs from me & he named his roommates; it was then, that the dots began connecting. The funny thing is when I met Joey (about 10 years ago)– there seemed to be an instant connection in the sense that I’d felt like I’d known him for a long time from the start. Joey also admitted feeling a sense of familiarity when we RE-met, but didn’t say anything because his wife always gets on him about saying that he thinks he knows everyone. So this conversation started me to thinking– I probably have photographs of young Joey– the upstairs neighbor, at parties either at my apartment or his.
These are only two such moments in my life that have occurred just this year, and there have been many more before it. They make me wonder about the cosmic connections we encounter every day. I don’t believe any meeting is a chance meeting. In fact, I think even complete strangers who pass us, and that we acknowledge in some way, are at that same place as we are for a reason. And the re-meeting of a person is as if someone out there is saying — “We put this person in your life for a purpose. Explore it.” Sometimes we do. Sometimes we don’t. It”s like that movie Sliding Doors w/ Gweneth Paltrow… when if she takes one door on the subway, her life events turn out one way, BUT if she takes the other door, they turn out a different way– just by that one slight, seemingly insignificant choice. Now, I’m not saying Mary Jane or Joey are meant to be significant people in my life, but it makes me wonder… if they are & I just chose another door.

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Inspiration- Paying it Forward

We have all been inspired at one time or another, and, in my opinion, the best thing we can do is pay it forward. I suppose that’s at the heart of WHY I teach and what motivates me everyday.
Yesterday, I received an email from the assistant superintendent of schools, the person who oversees all of the curriculum for our town. It read, “Just watched this video and thought of the work that you did with your students in creating web pages for use by other students,” and attached was a link (which I will attach below, if you’re interested).
For four years now, a social studies colleague, Brian and I have been collaborating w/ our classes (his AP Euro and my British Lit). Throughout the year, our students work on common assignments and one culminating project at the end of the year. In the past, they planned and implemented a Renaissance Fair for the whole school to enjoy, they’ve written and performed such plays as The Trial of King Henry VIII & the Reduced Canterbury Tales, this year they will be bringing a novel alive in various ways (w/ skits, living histories, models…) in their production of London (a novel by Edward Rutherfurd) ALIVE, and last year (what the email was referring to) they researched information and designed instructional websites on different periods of British History (including major works of literature).
Like Alan Ted, Brian & I find kids work harder when we allow them to steer their own education. We set up the premise of a project which relates to our studies, and we allow them to use their creativity and resourcefulness to implement it. It is imperative to “shift the ownership” of education in order to make knowledge meaningful to students. I believe this is the ONLY way they will become life-long learners.
I’m not sure which of my teachers instilled this theory in me or lit the spark– there were many… too many to mention. But it humbles me that our A.S. recognizes the goal (the motivating drive) in mine & Brian’s work.
Alan Ted’s presentation reaffirmed for me what I already believed and inspired me to create more opportunities to allows students to be the drivers of their own education.

THE Link:

10 years ago today…

I awakened to the phone ringing at 4 a.m. Anthony took the call. I can hear the horror & disbelief in his voice… I sat up, and suddenly THAT call which wakes you from a sleep was happening. He handed me the phone. Andrea’s voice– defeated, breathless, lost. Jamie Lynn, my friend’s daughter and Andrea’s niece had died in a fire. She was 9 years old.
Jamie was the third child we lost– Kimberly and Stephanie before her. Evan and Matthew to follow. Too many children dying, too young. Too many parents having to figure out a way to move on.
I have questioned my beliefs each time– questioned all that I know. And the only answer I’ve found is that I know far too many parents who have lost their children.
These are poems I’ve written for three of them…
Children Falling

I know what it means
To want to be the catcher
I’m standing
Just a step ahead
Of you
Holding out the net

Waiting

The rye fields
Stretch out
Far
Beyond the horizon
Daisies
Are blooming
And I pluck the petals
One at a time
Living in the moment
Never anticipating

Phoebe is falling
I become suspended
Between breathe
And the inability
To breathe

Kimberly is falling
Stephanie is falling
Jamie is falling
Evan is falling
Matthew is falling

The last petal
Soft
And lovely
Between my fingers
I’m holding on.

All the petals
At my feet
Disappear through the rye
Swept away with the wind
They’ve become shadows
But I hear their laughter
Echoing
Softer and softer
Until they disappear

All the pretty petals

I know what it means
To want to be the catcher
Walking backwards,
I’m just a step ahead
Of you
Holding out the net
Waiting
Fearing the moment
I cannot breathe.

In memory of Matthew Kenney and those who we lost before him
4/28/07

Jamie Dancing In Our Lives

She comes in
Like a whirlwind,
Forcing us to freeze.
Statues in her midst.
Then, dancing on toes among us,
She teases,
Daring us to come alive.
Caressing a cheek,
Pushing back a stray hair,
A tickle, a wink.
And, then,
She disappears.

A ball of fire,
Our core,
The sun.
She sparkles,
Campfire tap dancing in the dark of night.
She is the light.

She comes in
Like a storm.
Hearts racing,
Adrenaline surging.
We are moved to move and not ask why.
Because of her,
We feel alive.

Then,
She takes her last bow.
Flies through wind,
Above the sun,
Beyond the night.
Dancing on clouds, she throws kisses.
A twinkle, still, in her eye.
In Memory of Jamie Lynn
27 December, 2001

When Winter Comes

I gave you my heart
on a cold winter’s day. And
just as the daisies bloomed in the fields,
we learned God would be taking you away.
We walk this path alone in the starlight:
Being part of you—
you being part of me.
For only the moments we have, we keep
like the shadows that protect us.
Someone out there must know
what I know.
Your eyes glisten
and I pray you will be part of a miracle.
For you are not a sacrifice,
you are Love.
You gave me your heart,
placed your life
in the palm of my hands.
And tenderly I help you to live —
daring not to miss a smile or a sparkle.

And winter always comes
but a moment too soon.
Though I will walk the barren fields alone,
remembering the daisies—
just how they used to be:
glistening in the sunlight.
I will know at night to look to the stars
because you will be among them,
helping me to live.
And forever, I will hear you heart
beating against mine.

In memory of Kimberly, the first angel 11/23/99

God bless all the little children we’ve lost. Forever in our hearts and our memories… our own little angels in heaven ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Happiness is…

My Most Memorable Moments of 2011… not in any particular order

For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.
– Andy Rooney
I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling? And I remember thinking to myself: So, this is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts. And of course there will always be more. It never occurred to me it wasn’t the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment. Right then.
– Michael Cunningham, The Hours

standing in Westminster Abby amidst the ghosts of writers I’ve revered for a very long time in awe of their presence– walking the rooms in Bronte’s parsonage, reading each and every word available to us studying the artifacts that, once, they touched — I could not absorb enough from this day

the moment I realized Andrea wouldn’t be returning to work and all of its implications — standing beside her bed as she recited words from a play I assume which I’m not familiar w/, but the way she embodied the character in accent and inflection– being at her memorial service– listening to the words, the stories of love that wholly encompassed her– details that I often overlooked or simply didn’t know

pacing outside the glass, beside the net in our zone, a net which Tyler guarded, feeling extreme confidence in him and fear at the same time– the state championship (he’d waited so long to get to this place & the moment had arrived for him and the game was in the palm of his hands)

laying on the massage table, next to Alexa, her smile, her apprehension– then the reaction of utter relaxation & her desire to want to do it all over again

at 5 a.m., glued to the television, me and Alexa watching the next King of England betroth his soon-to-be princess, explaining to Alexa why I was teary-eyed, and being reminded of many years ago when I shared the wedding of Charles and Diana w/ my girlfriends

reacting to Ryan revealing his desire and passion to become a chef. While this path for him had come as a surprise to me, I replied, “Well get to work, find a school, follow your dream…”

hearing the sound of Ryan’s voice w/ each phone call home, excited about what he was learning & being a student, knowing he made the right choice because he was suddenly himself again

returning home from England, the gesture made by my friends which enveloped me w/ warmth because they made me feel missed — in addition to all of those other smiling, silly, sarcastic LOL Tinkerbell moments

waiting, as Tyler pulled up his S.A.T scores on the computer, him calling Ryan over to reaffirm them, then me. I looked and looked again in utter dismay at his brilliance. I swatted his head, called him a “dumb ass” for not performing in school to his potential, knowing he’d had that potential all along

the fear, the pit in my stomach when Marina said Olivia had not returned to her room the night before– all I could think was Natalie Hollaway all over again. The sense of relief I felt when I saw Olivia walking out of the elevator. And the moments in between seemed like an eternity. I hugged her tight before I yelled at her for putting herself in danger & giving us a fright.

Alexa, in the car ride to school, quality time, savoring the moments w/ her– in my room, when she looked at me and said “Look into my eyes… I’m mind-hugging you”

my husband steering his boat, his toy, his pride an joy– just me & him– out on the vast ocean, the sunshine, hot, radiating on our skin– headed somewhere and nowhere in particular

entertaining our friends w/ alcohol and appetizers on the TARRA Moe– a vessel filled w/ laughter against the setting sun

the warmth and belonging I felt as Dawn delivered her speech to Megumi in my living room– her TOY celebration– feeling so fortunate to be amidst such cherished friends and colleagues

the laughter that follows the Mojito/ Casino story — I’m Hot, Are you Hot?, It’s Hot

receiving my mother’s annual Christmas letter– laughing at its corniness, crying because it becomes suddenly apparent to me that the day will come when I long for that corniness

pure excitement at the anticipation of bringing Sadie home. I couldn’t wait to meet her, and when I did, I fell in love immediately w/ her sweetness, her love-ability, her gentleness…

on the beach of Cape Cod, with my whole family, flying kites and taking a family Warhol photograph w/ my new Ipad– I can hear the laughter and silliness as the cousins posed, serious and goofy

HAPPINESS IS… these seemingly insignificant (happy, funny, serious, fearful and sad) moments that thread themselves together and linger in our memories

Top Pix 2011

Donna’s Top PIX 2011

~books~
One Day, David Nicholls
Before Woman Had Wings, Connie May Fowler
London, Edward Rutherfurd
Charlotte & Emily, Jude Morgan
Ghostwalk, Rebecca Scott
Cape Cod, Richard Russo

~films~
Black Swan
127 Hours
The Help
No Strings Attached
The Fighter
Hugo
The Adjustment Bureau
Love and Other Drugs
Anonymous
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Something Borrowed

~television~
American Horror Story
Revenge

~music~
Someone Like You & One and Only,
Adele
Every Teardrop is a Waterfall & Hurts like Heaven,
Coldplay
F**kin Perfect, Pink
Jar of Hearts, Christina Perri
Wish You Were Here, Avril Lavigne
Love it All, Kooks
Stereo Hearts, Gym Class Heroes (w. Adam Levine)

~old faves… on replay~
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

Slumdog Millionaire
Across the Universe
Forrest Gump

Big Brother
The Bachelor/ette

Soul Sister & Brick by Brick, Train
Yellow, Coldplay
Animal, Neon Trees
Breath, Anna Nalick
The Story, Brandi Carlisle

You and Me, Dave Matthews

Merry Christmas

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other” ~Burton Hillis

Christmas is

Listening, eyes shut tight, while laying in bed, for the sounds of Santa

Sitting in Grandpop’s lap while he reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas”–

the snow gently falling outside

Debbie, Michael and I, waking at 3 a.m. to share opening our stocking gifts together
long before the morning light

Mom listening the whole year through for what we really wanted for Christmas,

all the things we’d long forgotten,

when we didn’t even realize she was listening

Creeping downstairs to sneak a peak at the gifts before our parents awoke

Anticipating an engagement ring wrapped in a tiny, red box

Anthony & I opening gifts on Christmas Eve because we couldn’t wait for
morning

Ryan’s second Christmas, awakening after his nap to discover the whole family,
gasping, “Everyone I wuv”

After opening presents, Tyler declaring, “We must have been really, really good
this year”

Alexa taking great care to leave just the right cookies & hot chocolate for Santa,
never forgetting carrots for the reindeer

Morning letters from Santa, recapping the year past

Reaching out of the windows in the kids’ rooms

to implant the tracks of the elves footprints, so when they awakened,

they’d know Santa had sent the elves to be sure

Ryan, Tyler and Alexa were fast asleep

Lazy monkey bread Christmas mornings investigating the gifts we’d gotten from
under the tree

Christmas Eve food extravaganza of shrimp, lobster, clams, crabs, tuna, mussels,
cod… cheesecake, mulled cider, cookies & candy aplenty

The piles of gifts for each child across the family room because our family had
grown, grown, grown

Untangling the Christmas lights, fighting over where to put them on the tree

Building and assembling the Dicken’s village, then standing back to watch it aglow

Picking up the fallen tree and broken ornaments, realizing that, while sentimental,

they didn’t really define Christmas

Lighting candles to remember those we lost

Tracking Santa as he moved across the world, anticipating what time to go to sleep

Looking around to see each and every face of those we love so much

Being together, putting all differences aside, to simply be
family.

BUZZ, BUZZ, BUZZ

That’s how many times I pressed the snooze on my alarm clock this morning.
Each night before I go to bed and most often the last words I speak at the end of the day are “ahhhh…. I LOVE my bed.” I’ve never before had such a love affair w/ my bed (it helps that it’s a Comfortpedic, which I highly recommend!) It feels as if I’ve landed on a cloud that hugs me.
And the first word each morning, is “DAMMIT!” The alarm sounds. I press the snooze, & press the snooze again, but it doesn’t go away. I lay there, in denial, until I drag myself up. Today, my first thought, after audibly saying “DAMMIT” was just one more alarm until vacation. In fact, after my shower, which admittedly, I sleep through the first half of on most days, I actually had a bit of a temper tantrum at my alarm & shouted, ” I HATE YOU”… my husband rolled over, snickering (he gets to sleep an hour longer than I).
6 a.m.– the din of darkness looming outside my window. I hate alarms, I hate clocks and watches and time. In fact, I always have. I don’t wear a watch, and, after 10 years at my job, I still haven’t memorized at what time the classes begin & end. Why?? Because I don’t want to know!
I want to live in the moment and be guided by my body clock. I want to go to bed at night when I’m tired (instead of when I should) and wake when I’m rested (instead of when the mother fucking alarm clock sounds). Is that so wrong? I want to know in what culture(s) are people allowed to listen to their inner clocks?
On delayed opening days, I feel HUMAN coming to school 90 minutes later. I don’t dislike my job; I dislike the unGODLY hour it forces me to wake up in the morning & begin my day. I don’t even want to sleep the day away. In fact, on vacation & in the summer, I actually awaken by 8:00, but I feel refreshed because the sun is shining & I feel rested.

So, this week, when I’m on winter break… I will listen to my inside voice, honoring the lack of schedule I so worship. I will sleep when I want to sleep, and for as long as I want to sleep, so, when I awaken, I’m ready to embrace my day with energy and vigor to live it to the fullest.

Am I qualified to write this blog?

According to the 23 questions for perspective bloggers, I am certifiably qualified to write this page!

Do I enjoy writing? Duh, it’s my life line. I’ve been writing since I was 8 years old. My first story was called “Blinky” and it was composed while people watching at a New Haven train station w/ my grandmother awaiting my parents arrival from vacation.
What’s my message? Hmm… don’t know, yet. I write to discover. Even when I start a book, I have a sketchy outline– who my characters are, definitely, and where the story will go, but the rest I allow to blossom as my characters grow. They tell me how the story goes.
Do I enjoy reading? Of course, I do. Any good English teacher shouldn’t answer that any other way. But I don’t read because I SHOULD, I read because I want to. I love getting lost in a good book. I love appreciating different writing styles. I love diving into the lives of the characters. I even enjoy reading theory– expanding my horizons and sometimes just solidifying my own thinking!
Am I creative? I like to think of myself as creative… in fact, creativity fuels my passion for life. I write, I decorate, I make crafty things like doll clothes, wreathes flower arrangements and bird houses. I paint creatively in my home– rag painting, stenciling & such. I have been scrap booking long before Creative Memories was an inception. And I think… dammit, I could have made a fortune if I turned that into a business venture. Oh well!!
Am I honest and transparent? Yes, sometimes painfully for you and me. You’ll see!
Am I a social person? Well, YES!!! I’ll leave it at that. I’m a people person.
The areas where I may have difficulty?
Self discipline is NOT my strong suit, I usually have no trouble beginning…it’s sustaining that I have difficulty with… being consistent. I like to be spontaneous; I’m motivated by inspiration and desire. Procrastination is my friend, but I always get the job done. I am conscientious, after all.
The other drawback? Being thick skinned. I’m not so much, but perhaps this will help me become thicker skinned– to handle the rejections of my novel I’ve been getting as of late. Not fun to be rejected. However, I do believe God doesn’t give us what we cannot handle and there is a purpose for everything. So, if I need to toughen up, so be it. Bring it on. Because I’m not a quitter, either!! If I want something bad enough, I go after it.

And ultimately, you, my audience will be my judge. Have at it 😛

To BEgin a blog or not to BEgin a blog…

...that is the question I’ve been pondering. Inspired to just DO IT, I owe a thanks to a mentor & friend whose blog I visited yesterday and was inspired.
This is a blank page for me. As a lover of blank pages, I stare at them, sometimes, just perusing the possibilities. The ideas are endless, vast, multifaceted. To write a word is to commit to a thought, create an idea, witness the fluidity of one word’s effect on another.
The second commitment (the first being the decision to create this blog) today was it’s title. I talk about titles all the time to my students. First and foremost: it should be enticing/ creative. Second: it should contain both a topic and a comment.
To find the perfect, most precise title that would not be limiting, as I see this blog as a blank page to become filled w/ ideas, evidence, affirmations, questions… growth, I traced the stream of consciousness flowing through my mind. My first thought: Chameleon– the title of my first collection of poetry, which would cohesively express the many hats I wear daily. Too limiting, I thought. Kismit and serendipity were considerations, as they are my favorite words to say, not to mention I believe wholeheartedly in the idea of them. This led me to the word believe. BELIEVE. A word that represents the core of my existence and thought (but too trite). Pandora’s box, I pondered next because it would give me the platform to reveal the unexpected, both the surprising and the shocking. But is that what I want this platform to be? I asked myself. Perhaps, in part, but not the whole of it. Instead, I want this to be a mirror that I look upon– for truth, for discovery because everyday I live and experience, I am changing myself in some way– shaping and altering my future. The muses… there are many who/that inspire me. I am inspired by life… in awe of it, really. So, thank you, in advance for allowing me this platform. And if my musings inspire you to look in the mirror… then, I’m paying it forward just like my mentor & friend.