Tag Archives: writing

You Don’t Have to Be Irish to be a Leprechaun

This blog post was crafted for Elfster.com, and featured in the “wish fulfillment” blog.

irishEveryone should be a leprechaun at least once in their life.

Leprechauns are cute. They are clever. And they are, well, let’s face it, rich. Do you know what a pot of gold is worth today? At $900 per ounce, I figure that even a smallish leprechaun who wants a mobile pot of gold that he can carry from rainbow’s end to rainbow’s end would be worth at least $350,000. That would be tax free. Even now, Obama may even be considering a new economic plan called “Operation Lucky Charms.” But, you didn’t find out about it here.

Many famous people have aspired to be leprechauns. If you were anywhere near New York City in the late 1970s to the late 1980s, you may remember the city’s Mayor, Ed Koch who marched in every parade and declared himself to be of the proper heritage that the day called for. He became Puerto Rican, Italian, African-American, Chinese and Irish. I really think his favorite parade was on St. Patrick’s Day. Underneath that Kelly green scarf and fisherman’s sweater was a heart of gold and a pot of green. Or maybe it was the other way around. No matter, the Irish-Jewish brogue brought tears of joy to many eyes, proud we were of our diverse city.

Today in a culture that celebrates ethnic pride, why not take advantage of the great multicultural opportunity and be proud of the traditions that others bring? Even if you aren’t a leprechaun or even Irish, you can celebrate and take ownership of this proud heritage that brought us the gift of gab, Tammany Hall, corned beef and cabbage, and RainDance. Oh, and the color green. Before the Irish came to America, everyone here had to make do with puce.

In truth, positive Irish contributions to American culture include special success and innovation in the fields of journalism, sports and entertainment. The “fighting spirit” of many Irish Americans, as well as their gift with words has contributed tremendously to the greatness of this country. What better way to acknowledge our own American heritage than by celebrating one of the many cultures that helped to shape it? Our first president was Irish (George Washington, in case you forgot). Other famous Irish-Americans include Gene Kelly, Henry Ford, Georgia O’Keeffe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and of course Ed Koch, former Mayor of New York.

So why not dust off that tie with the clover all over it or that pair of green acid washed jeans hanging in the back of your closet. See, it is okay to admit you always wanted to be a leprechaun.

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Joining the Circus

Photo of the old railroad tracks in Long Island City, New York

© Frank Carrado

When I was five, I wanted to join the circus. When I turned seven, I actually did it. Or, at least I tell myself that I did.

Unfortunately, the circus had no use for a small girl-child whose own previous claim to fame was a photo in a New York newspaper, taken at a Santa event at the local post office. Still, no one could pull a present out of a Santa sack as well as I could. I still have the clipping and may show it to you someday. There I am with badly cut homemade bangs, my mouth gaping open seemingly in wonder at the magic gifts in Santa’s sack, when in reality the gifts felt hollow, too light, too soft, to actually have anything inside.

That is okay. There was magic elsewhere.

I grew up in an industrial area of Queens. For $64 a month, you could get an apartment with a million dollar view of the Manhattan skyline. It wasn’t until decades later, when urban development encroached and the corner bodega was turned into artsy six-dollar-a-cup cafe, and the sooty wild weed fields were turned into man-made sandy beaches fronted by high-rise apartments (with view), that I realized that we had lived in the slums. I still can’t wrap my head around that one. It is just something that is assumed. By others. I am not resentful.

One of the benefits of living nowhere anyone wanted to be is that all sorts of outlier things would come into the neighborhood  with hardly any ripple effect to the outside world. Oh sure, that broken-down apartment building that we lived in just might find its way into a bad but popular 70s movie, but for the most part, the neighborhood just didn’t exist unless you really went looking for it.

One of those things that did come looking was the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Baily Circus train. It pulled in to the mostly abandoned railroad tracks, where the city kept mountains of salt so high that they easily dwarfed our fifth floor apartment building. On non-windy days, the kids in the neighborhood would use the giant salt mountain as a slide, burning skin and corroding tears into the bottoms of brown corduroy bell bottoms.

The circus had a gig at Madison Square Garden, but its home base in New York was less than a block away from the building. Years of penny-candy-money saved wouldn’t afford a ticket, but we had something better anyway. The night before the first performance, when dusk turned toward night, the circus people would march themselves, their props and their animals out of the train yard, down the block and right past the building on their way through the Midtown Tunnel. The elephants were bigger than anything  we could have imagined, and Michael Gomez dared me to touch the tiger’s cage.

The next day, I packed a bag and headed down into the train tracks, hoping to stowaway on one of the train cars, maybe the one where the acrobats lived, or maybe the dancers. Not the clowns, though. Never the clowns. But, the cars were all quiet in the middle of the day. Passing over a discarded snake of rope, I made my way around and behind the first car that caught my eye, a blue one. The door was closed, and I turned some metal that was sticking out of the undercarriage into a step-ladder, my head dizzy from looking up at the blue sky and my nostrils picking up a slight scent of rust.

I remember the smell, because it reminded me of scraped knees and the time I cut my head open on that traffic sign at the entrance to the Long Island Expressway. My father had them cut the corner off of the sign. The sign has since been replaced.

I yanked, I kicked and the door never moved. I wandered around the train yard, looking for treasures that might have been dropped, a spangle from a costume, something to take the glamour back to my second floor apartment. All I found was a penny, which I carefully placed on a section of the tracks where the train would pull back out. I would return later, hoping that the train wheels would stretch the copper into something beautiful.

–Mary Ann Carrado Romans

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How to Deal with Your Children’s Fears

This post originally appeared on eFoods Direct

How to Deal with Your Children’s Fears

by Mary Ann Romans

From the state of the economy to the Mayan calendar, from zombies in popular culture to deadly diseases, our children get exposed to a lot of negativity and hysteria. Here is how to quell the fears and leave your children confident and prepared.

Understand the Fears

Children, especially young children, view the world very differently and often with limited understanding. That is why it is so important to take the time to discuss and understand any fears that your children might have.

For example, after hearing about the US heading toward the fiscal cliff, a young child may envision the entire country or world physically falling off an actual cliff. Pretty scary.

For children with limited verbal ability, ask them to draw what they are afraid of. Make sure you are in a well-lit room and you stay by their side as they do this. Not only will a discussion or drawing help you understand the fears, but it can also be cathartic to the child.

Strongly Remind and Reassure Them

Explain to your children that it is your job to take care of them and protect them, and that you will do everything in your power to keep them safe no matter what. Most children need to be reminded of this at least once in a while. Explain that you are taking steps to make sure that their fears never come true. Obviously, this will depend on the particular fears, but a general statement should reassure them now and in the future.

Address fears of the fictitious with sensitivity. Even though you know the walking dead don’t exist, your children may be firmly convinced otherwise.

Empower Them

My youngest son read a book in school about the polar ice caps melting and the polar bears dying. An animal lover practically from birth, this greatly upset him, and he feared that there will be no more polar bears left. In this case, we talked about energy conservation. He now is in charge of shutting off unused lights, reminding his siblings not to leave the water running, and thinking about ways to reduce energy usage in our home.

Other ways to empower a child might be to let them help you with food storage and preparation or other prepping tasks. For an older child, learning a new skill, such as animal husbandry or carpentry may make them feel empowered to tackle anything.

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Bigger Than Twilight

writing a book

My six-year-old child has decided that he wants to write a book called H Words with Henry. Good title.

The future holds a guarantee of prequels and sequels, too. There are the remaining 25 letters of the alphabet, of course, and then after that, there are foreign alphabets as well.

Æ words with Ægir has a ring to it. The kid is a genius.

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