Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

  • God My Father

    Date: 2013.04.17 | Category: LOVE IMAGINED | Response: 0

    Thanks for all your comments, keep them coming and please share  blog with others; and, educators-my books have been used in college classrooms, perhaps you would like to require them for a class you will be teaching in the fall!

     

    GOD THE FATHER

    My fifties childhood wasn’t unusual.  Yes, there were only three of us in my grade school whose parents were divorced, but that made us special, not weird, that made us friends.  Yes, I had experienced unforgettable but minor childhood trauma.  Not wanting to go to kindergarten.  Scared of the teachers.  Afraid to tell the teacher or the librarian I had to pee and instead peeing on my wee self in shame.  But, I didn’t know I wasn’t white, not even sure if I knew I was poor, but not being white or poor didn’t ostracize me, didn’t keep the neighborhood children  from playing with me, even though I discovered only recently that they knew what I didn’t!

     

    Kids liked coming to our home-it was lived in.  We were allowed to play hard. The carpet was worn, the furniture second hand. Plastic didn’t cover our used davenport.  Mom’s sewing machine was always in the dining room and pins and needles and patterns on the dining room Duncan Phyfe table.  We had a television and a hi-fi.  The neighbor lady whose husband worked for Wonder Bread supplied us with Hostess Cupcakes and Twinkies.  On summer afternoons we set up a card table in the living room and shuffled maj jong tiles (you could hear the shuffling of tiles a block away) or played Canasta or Sorry or Monopoloy.  We had a second hand upright piano on our front porch that we all took turns pounding on, “Here we go up a row to a birthday party.”  We played with our dolls.  We dressed my baby brother in our baby girl doll clothes.  In the winter we had a skating rink in our back yard, in the summer we had a sandbox that covered one-fourth of the back yard, an enclosed playhouse that took up another fourth.  We had a stone fireplace to roast hot dogs and marshmallows.  In the front yard we played Captain May I and Red Rover Red Rover.  We played baseball in the street, only to be kept in when they, once-a-year tarred our street.  Being caught ever so often with oily tar on our tennis shoes, shoes we didn’t usually have to take off when entering our home.

     

    In second grade my writer’s voice appeared from nowhere.  As children, we were taught to be charitable, even though nobody probably knew we were the receivers of charity, of turkeys at Thanksgiving and blonde blue-eyed dolls from the Salvation Army at Christmas.  I wrote my first poem in second grade:  save your nickels and dimes, Channel 2 needs you, bring your money to school!  My teacher paraded me in front of each elementary school class where I recited my lines and solicited money for a cause.  Later, in high school, when the Church solicited money from our neighbors, asking to help the poor family who needed a new roof on their house, or was it to pay the mortgage, the good Christians gave generously, but that money was never given to my mother, and shame burdened my mother until the day she died.  Shame isn’t an isolated incident, shame sneaks up on you, says you’re not worth shit, says it over and over and over again-even if you’re not listening.  Even if it takes a lifetime to  recognize it, to name it.

     

    My sister eagerly quit confirmation, but I needed the Church.  I needed God, my only father.  I needed unconditional love and forgiveness, but was love and forgiveness truly abiding in the Church?  I stayed a devoted member of the Church, a member of the choir, and later editor of the church’s newsletter.  Once, I even got married in the Church. At first the minister wouldn’t marry us because we were living together, supposedly that’s a sin.  We lied, said we would separate until the wedding, and had a shot gun wedding.

     

    Eventually, I ran from religion because of what I believed to be sexist, and racist practices/doctrines of the Church.  I no longer folded my hands to “here is the church here is the steeple, open it up and see all the people.”  However my belief, my faith in God and prayer and miracles –in love imagined-remains strong.

     

    In fifth grade I was a participating member of a poetry club.  I was sheepishly proud to see my words on blue-lined paper, mimeographed so all the fifth graders could read: “pitter patter, pitter patter/ the rain does splatter.”   I belonged to a community! By sixth grade, however, my pride falleth.  Emotional puberty threw me a curve ball.  Although popular enough to be elected student council class representative, I still ache each time I remember having been called to attention by my teacher.  Shame.

     

    She reprimanded me for hovering in the doorway of Standish school, at recess, instead of playing on the playground with all the other kids.  How could she not have known what I knew-that no other kids would play with me.  That each budding bra wearing sixth grade girl had a guy she was pining for, and a girlfriend to whisper it too.  I was pining to be a nun.  I wanted to be Catholic.  Catholic girls, although not necessarily any more popular than me, they were smart, and they had been confirmed in fourth grade.

     

    In fourth grade, I expanded my Christian practices by holding a girls’ club, once a week, at our red formica table, in our yellow kitchen with the red cupboards where we hid the ginseng (today I wonder if it was really ginseng or just plain ol’ ginger).  Our club was based on Unity’s Wee Wisdom magazine.  I can’t remember, but only can imagine us, nine year old girls, praying together and drinking kool-aid.  But, I do remember that my mother, a firm believer by then in the Unity church-that if you sent the church money, they would pray for you.  That belief, along with our belief in the Ouija Board, brought our family the answers to many prayers.  Unity also taught me to make “treasure maps”-visual prayers, an added assurance that our needs would be met.  That’s probably what my Wee Wisdom Club did, cut and pasted our dreams in the pages of sample books of beautiful, sometimes flocked, wallpaper.  It’s what I still do today.

     

    In fourth grade, my Sunday school teacher asked our class if we thought a Black family should be allowed to become members of our Church.  I could only subconsciously have known that I was Black, yet I wondered aren’t I already a member?  Shame. The family was not allowed to join, but years later, when a new minister arrived, he and his wife arrived with several adopted black children.  If I was truly white, if I truly blended in as a child, why are my memories so vivid of knowing what I didn’t know, and didn’t think others knew even though they did?

     

    Today, the Church I had a love/hate relationship with has been transferred to Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church.  “The Oromo (uh-ROH-moh) people are the largest ethnic group in East Africa. Facing persecution by the Ethiopian government, thousands of Oromos have fled to the United States since the 1970s. About 12,000 Oromos live in the Twin Cities area. There are five Oromo churches in Minneapolis-St. Paul; Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Standish Neighborhood is the largest, with 700 plus members.” http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2007/11/27/welcome-oromo-evangelical-lutheran-church-farewell-our-redeemer-lutheran-church

     

    When I first learned of this beautiful congregation I cried.  Tears of joy and forgiveness.  And the music (forward through the video to the music) http://oromochurchmn.org/index.php/videos/video/march-3-2013 reminds me of my choir days, and even though I couldn’t hold a tune, I loved the music-and my heart sang, and contines to sing!

    http://oromochurchmn.org/

    http://metrolutheran.org/2007/12/our-redeemer-merges-deeding-building-to-oromo-evangelical-lutheran/

  • LOVE IMAGINED

    Date: 2012.11.12 | Category: Imagining Love, LOVE IMAGINED | Response: 2

    WHAT AM I WORTH?

    What am I worth?  Recently a Facebook friend posted a quote by Rocky Balboa:

    “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it…

    You’ve gotta hit as hard as life. It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much can you take and keep moving forward? That’s how winning is done.

    If you know what you’re worth, Go out and Get What Your Worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him or her or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that.”–Rocky Balboa

    There is self-worth and economic worth.  I don’t believe economic worth determines self-worth-it doesn’t, but it does make life more challenging.  Economic challenges can detour what we may think is our road to success.  But what is success?

    I think it is important to be aware of how much we try to control our lives in order to realize control can keep us from living, from moving forward, and from being in tune to the blessings the universe wants us to have.

    I digress.  Didn’t mean to become so philosophical.  The nitty gritty is I’ve lost balance.  I’ve always been able to multi-task in order to survive and I continue to do that, but having endured a lay-off last year I’m more tipsy than standing tall on two feet.  How do I make up for an economic imbalance?

    What are my priorities, how have they changed?  Am I using my financial situation as an excuse or a blessing?  As a blessing, I have time to spend with my grandson who is autistic (I am his respite worker, which pays a minimal amount each month (16 hours worth, but through this experience I spend more and more time with him each and every week.  I have learned unconditional love from this child, more than I have learned in any relationship-giving it and receiving it).

    Also, as a blessing, I have broken the box that defined work-40 hours a week, healthcare, and a paycheck.  Growing up poor, my family shopped rummage sales before garage sales and thrift stores were popular, thus giving me an eye to bargains that gave me a flair for fashion-shoes and clothes and purses-that I can now use to resell what has become my fashion personality-I have been emptying my closet (there’s a metaphor here).  Can I find a way to actually make a living as a fashionista selling retail?  Is this where my worth lies?

    Or, do I take a minimum wage job, if anyone will actually hire me for one, and dummy down to this is what I am worth-my worth being that I will do whatever it takes to pay my bills-even if it won’t?

    And, so, what about my book, my memoir.  I promised myself it would be finished by August past.  It isn’t.  How important is telling my story?  Why is it always on the back burner?  I have been teaching creative writing at a local college this semester (unfortunately, I don’t have a class for next semester).  I am aware my passion for writing has dissipated, though never my passion for teaching writing.  But the two, for me, are important for balance.  Although, never just the teaching and the writing, but also the living-the children, the grandchildren, the friends, the lovers.

    Speaking of friends, how did I let them slip away?  Why do I find excuses for real connection?  Facebook has been my solace, but a poor excuse for not pushing myself out the door and into the lives of people I care about, who hopefully still care about me.

    Many of my friends are writers.  Committed to writing and promoting their books.  I admire their stamina.  But, I don’t envy them.  I don’t want to be them.  I think that is partly why I am not writing.  Writing demands more than the writing.  Am I scared to give more, scared I am not worth more?  Am I just lazy?

    Earning my MFA in Creative Writing was an epiphany for me.  It made me feel like I had self-worth.  Look at me, I earned a degree.  Look at me, I’m a teacher.  I’m a published writer.  But why creative writing?  Because I didn’t think I could be successful as anything else-not math, not science, not anything-and because I had stories to tell.

    I didn’t choose creative writing, it chose me.  It said here is something that can make you feel good about yourself, though it will be hard, harder than you know-and it was.  Yet, it has been but one story in my life that was about winning:  “it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much can you take and keep moving forward? That’s how winning is done.”

    There was a time, not too long ago, when my life was entirely wrapped up in writing-my writing, writing communities, writer friends, teaching writing, mentoring writers, and a full-time job where my writing experience was respected.  I felt my life was in balance.  I felt worthy.

    Today I am challenged with having been hit hard and needing to move forward, but I feel like I am standing still.  I feel like there are too many options and no options.  I feel like any choice I make is not a freedom, not a winning situation, but a need to control what seems uncontrollable.

    My story is important.  But, I may or may not get back to writing it.  In two months I will be 65 years old.  I continue to believe I have no regrets.  I will continue to move forward by looking back to remind myself how far I have come, knowing I don’t have to continue to prove to myself that I am worthy.  I am.  Knowing that I just have to keep living-living a passionate, thoughtful life-mindful of others and striving to love and know that I too am loved.  Imagination the process to acceptance.

     

    Sherry Lee

    November 12, 2012

  • A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY, INDEED

    Date: 2012.08.15 | Category: LOVE IMAGINED, The Art of Writing | Response: 1

    Don’t Have to Imagine Love

    What can I say?

    I have been trying hard to post at least once a week, but recently I’ve been sidetracked or just lazy, lol!  Today, though, for whatever reason, I feel like writing.  I feel like an aha moment has hit me in the head.  Just now I realized I don’t have to imagine love.  Love is everywhere.  I love myself, I love my friends, I love my Family-I love acquaintances, I love people I don’t even know, okay some of them.  People love me (yup, even ex’s for better or worse).  Despite a world of tumult and chaos, and, yes, hate-historical and current, love abounds.

    That said, I may never finish my book, Love Imagined, but it will always nudge me to come back to it, keep adding to it-keep writing towards understanding of who I am; and, yes, I will keep posting to  my blog, Love Imagined.

    I have always known I needed a balance between living and writing, but what does that mean?  For now, it means living.  For now, it means only write when the muse overwhelms me.  For now, it means take a step back to ruminate, take a step forward to live life to the fullest.

    For now, right now, I am just thankful and appreciative of who I am and of all the wonderful, smart, sensitive, supportive, absolutely beautiful people-many who have a great sense of humor-I know whether we’ve crossed paths for a moment or a lifetime, whether you’ve come and gone come and gone.

    Friends like Annie whom I’ve known since kindergarten.  Annie has seen me through more relationships than anyone I know, who has sheltered me, fed me, held the reception for my second wedding in her home and more recently joined me on a boat in Vegas to take videos of my son’s wedding.  Annie who has dragged me to class reunions-where I’ve reconnected with other friends-like Patty.

    Friends who have entered my life at various stages of my life.  Friends who have mentored me. Friends whom I have mentored. Friends who have cried with me. Friends who have laughed with me. Friends who don’t care if I know whether I use “who” or “whom” correctly.   Friends who don’t judge me; and friends who do judge me, lol.  Friends who I can call in the middle of the night.  Friends who know what I mean when I say “I can’t afford to.”  Friends who also can’t “afford to.”  Friends who may not know they are friends. My publisher; Victor.  People who have read my books and found something meaningful in my words and those who have given me critical feedback.  My cousin Jay and his wife Shirley-love you!  My dislocated worker counselor.  Friends who know me as “Buttercup.”  My neighbor Alice.

    I could drop a lot of names (never use the words “a lot” be specific, ha! Okay, noted for another post, list of names) but you know who you are and what I’m really trying to get at (never try to force a triggering subject) is although I, like many, have lived/live through racism, sexism, ageism-all those isms-and have tried our best to create awareness and change we still have to find that balance, find what works for us to do what we can and still be happy, still have a life.

    The last ten years I have had an amazing life.  I have had two books published, I have edited several books, I have taught and co-taught (with Laurie Young-Williams) writing workshops from Moorhead to Mankato (and in September 2012 Maidenrock, Wisconsin at   Running Dog Ranch.  I had an almost ten years of working with incredible writers from across the country with the incredible Split Rock Arts Program.  And, I now have four wonderful grandchildren. And, and, and…..

    I have also had challenges or as I’d rather call them “inspirations.”  Ethan, my grandson, is four and non-verbal autistic (I have met amazing bloggers as I search to know more about autism)  I was laid off of my job, then due to a fluke I lost my unemployment three months before it would be up anyways, and soon I will lose my health insurance and life insurance (until I turn a marvelous 65 in January when depending on the political situation should be able to be somewhat covered by Medicare).  I applied for jobs on line only to be rejected a few minutes after submitting an application (but “friends” have helped me through to soon be working again).  I have maxed credit cards and borrowed from one to pay another (but I have A-1 credit and so far have never paid a bill late, and my sister has been extremely generous/and not judgmental).  I’ve cried a few times, but mostly I’ve kept a positive attitude, a smile on my face, and always made sure I found ways to entertain myself AND keep my gray roots from showing-friend Jackie!

    As a writing teacher I believe in the the triggering subject, but right now it seems like the triggering subject is taking me a long time to get where it’s going, so bear with me.  Or better, yet. I will just stop here (no one likes long blog posts anyways, save something to keep ‘em comin’ back as the saying goes).

    One more thing, as Whitney said, “It’s all about love.”

    Sherry Lee

    August 15, 2012

Artist Statement

Sherry Quan Lee approaches writing as a community resource and as culturally based art of an ordinary everyday practical aesthetic. Lee is a Community Instructor at Metropolitan State University (Intro to Creative Writing, Advanced Creative Writing), and has taught at Intermedia Arts, and the Loft Literary Center. She is the author of A Little Mixed Up, Guild Press, 1982 (second printing), Chinese Blackbird, a memoir in verse, published 2002 by the Asian American Renaissance, republished 2008 by Loving Healing Press, and How to Write a Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life, Loving Healing Press, 2008.

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SHERRY QUAN LEE

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HOW DARE WE! WRITE

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