Tag Archives: Author Paul Keene

Age is in the mind: Do you know where your keys are?

IMG_5198DMFAnyone blowing out 49 candles on a cake knows that age is in the mind…and back, hips, and down there, too.

The “age is in your mind" and similar nonsense comes from a category of higher education. The awarded degrees, although somewhat different, begin with the B.S. (Bull Shit), followed by the M.S. (More Shit) and Piled Higher and Deeper, Ph.D.

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Before we know it, we exchange scotch for green tea, red beef for tofu, coffee for stool softeners, and dirty magazines for cross-word puzzles. Forgive the clichés, but youth really is wasted on the young. The kid using the blower to clear the lawn of autumn leaves, and smacking his hands to turn off the lamp makes me cry. Sits and plays video games when he could’ve been chasing girls–me oh my!

Old age strikes out of nowhere isn’t true. It begins the minute we’re born and creeps up while we’re having too much fun to notice the warning signs.

Help is available. Same as a Big Box hardware store has everything needed to renew the appearance of a weathered house there are shops on every corner loaded with tonics, lotions, and treatments that disguise the wear and tear of old age.

It’s the lie that rubs me the wrong way and gets under my skin (please note the above cliché apology).

Before you send nasty comments, let me say that I support both positive thinking and higher education. Having said this, I avoid stepping in my degrees.

I’m a bit confused where I was going with this, but today is Bingo day at the Senior Center, and I have to find my keys.            

Writing, kids, and ADHD

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Sit at the desk. Don’t wiggle, don’t bounce, or turn upside down. Stay.

Ha ha.

If a prankster posted a Keep Out sign on the school’s front gate, a number of kids would conclude the sign meant them.

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As teacher and principal before ADD/HD became common teacher jargon, the kids struggling with moderate/severe ADD/HD symptoms were often placed in emotionally disturbed (ED) special education classrooms.

When I retired from teaching, I put two novels on hold that were in various stages of outline, draft, and research and wrote Running Nowhere, a coming of age trilogy. The three books tell the story of Conor Kelman—a boy with ADD/HD during a time before the disorder was recognized.

I wrote the trilogy in hopes that those familiar with ADHD would find solace, and a weird comfort in recognizing the hardship and struggle children-parents-students-teachers face coping with ADHD.

The books are fiction, written for entertainment. Nothing clinical inside the pages, but those familiar with ADHD will recognize the symptoms and the addictive, obsessive, impulsive behaviors. Yes, behaviors that many kids coming of age have. However, the ADD/HD group will recognize the struggle and inward pain of being different.

Today, the ADD/HD acronym is everywhere. Yet, kids suffer. Frustrated with teacher conferences one after another that produce no change, parents panic when ringtones announce a call from the school.

Sadly, ADD/HD is the butt of jokes. To many, it’s a non-existent cop-out, not a disorder but an excuse for poor parenting and run-away behaviors.

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What do you think? Real or excuse? Over-diagnosed? Meds or natural treatment? What are your thoughts and experiences with ADD/HD and school? Your input will benefit others.

Making It

zThumb_playing-guitar-(2)  He received the invite. Nashville’s Grand Ole’ Opry. Now, it was real. Satisfaction cut through the engraved stress marks on his face that belied his young years. He had earned it. Rough schedules, racking up miles across the country, opening shows with a mixture of envy and admiration for those who had paid their dues.

Billed as the new Hank Williams those close to him shuddered at the commonality.

Blinding lights, applause, screams, hands reaching to touch him played in his head as he splashed water against his face and patted down his hair. The paraphernalia used earlier set on the counter beside the sink. One more time to pull him through. Good that he forgot to put it away, he told himself ignoring the real reason. The effect didn’t last that long, just enough to get him on stage.

“Twenty minutes,” the chauffeur said through the phone.

Muscles tightened. His stomach quivered. He washed white pills down with bourbon to calm the nerves, but his thoughts were on the bathroom counter. One last time his mind reasoned. Before the show, before walking onto that famous auditorium with pieces of wood from the Ryman auditorium.

The wood Hank Williams stood.

The stretcher disappeared out the door. That close to making it his chauffeur thought with a tear in his eye.

Your Comments and Shares are appreciated. Thank you, Paul.

Stale donuts from the bakery

file661267495258She loaded the children into the shiny Lincoln and drove down the tree studded drive to the highway. Every Saturday, the mother watched from the window as her aunt took brother and sister to the bakery. The donut run, as the mother called it, never failed to bring joy to her children.

When they returned, the eccentric aunt  set the bag filled with soft, warm donuts on the counter next to last Saturday’s bag. It was a simple rule. You eat the old donuts before getting into the new bag.

Knowing that they would never experience the taste of the fresh donuts, how many Saturdays before the children’s joy faded? It had been seven months since the spinster aunt invited them to move in and the children were as enthused as the first time.

“What is so great going to get donuts knowing they will be hard as a rock before you eat them?”

“It’s not eating the donut, it’s imagining how it tastes,” said one. “It’s like going to the dog pound even though you can’t bring one home,” said another.

“They are beautiful. Covered in frosting–pink, white, chocolate, sprinkles, dusted in powdered sugar, filled with jelly–different shapes and sizes.”

“It’s hard to choose.”

“So Auntie let’s us take all the time we want.”

“But,” the mother said, “you always bring back a dozen plain cake donuts.”

“That’s what Auntie orders. We eat ours at the donut shop.”

A smile spread across the mother’s dampened cheeks.

What lessons, if any, have you learned from children?  Please share comments below in Leave Reply.

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Cowboy

file2251249256861cowboySome said he was born on a saddle. Others said he was one hell of a man. Didn’t matter what you believed, he was an authentic cowboy and wore the title well.

One night he cleaned off the dust, slipped into his best shirt, new Levis, and drove to a dance in the valley. A fiery redhead caught his eye, and his mind entertained thoughts other than lonely nights in the bunk house.

Having learned responsibility at a tender age, he secured a regular job. One that allowed him to take an active part in family life.

This didn’t take the cowboy out of him. He never missed saddling up for a round-up, branding, or any event to help a local rancher. He signed on to a ranch after retirement. His wife, known for her biscuits, pies, and any dish that cowboys had a likening, went with him.

Life of a cowboy isn’t an easy one. You take the lumps with the good, he used to say. He didn’t regret one bit, and lived life to the fullest.

Those who knew him never doubted he was a believer. His God lived in the outdoors–the plains, sagebrush, painted desert. Mountains, green pastures, and the beauty of horses working cattle. He never spent much time inside a church other than attending a wedding, or funeral. It made sense that his funeral was held in the local community lodge.

The minister stepped away from the podium and strapped on a guitar. There wasn’t a dry eye as he sang the cowboy’s favorite song.

Now, his wife lives in the house by herself, but few doubt that she’s alone.

Is there an unforgettable character in your life? Your comments are welcome and appreciated. Please comment below.

The Cross-over Man

file1861303932819 He hated doing it, but the nursing home smelled clean, and the noises in the background spoke of friendliness and care. Blind except for shadows and a sense of dark and light, he relied on hearing and intuition.

She asked him to stay, and he did. From 8:00 in the morning the two shared memories, walked the halls, and drank coffee on the patio until the taxi arrived at 8:00 in the evening to take him home. As years passed, the staff seemed to forget to call for his cab and it came later each evening.

One morning, the cab driver carried a large suitcase with him as the two walked inside. No cab would be called to take him home.

The couple had rooms next to each other, but often woke up together. When his wife became ill and demanded care around the clock, he slept in the big cushioned chair next to her bed. He stayed by her side when the time came. He held her hand in his, talked to her about things others didn’t understand. His arms were wrapped around her when she drew her last breath.

Word traveled through the home, and one afternoon the nurse approached him. “The lady in room 6-B has no one and won’t last through the night. She asked for you.  She will understand if you don’t go. We all will.”

It was difficult, but he saw no choice.

From then on, folks called him the cross-over man. He was called often, and it never got easier. Whether they had no one near, or no one to care, it was left for him. He was near, and he cared. He knew them by their first names. He greeted new residents the day they entered. He spent his days going in and out of each room carrying his smile and a funny story.

He knew more about them than they thought. No, he didn’t know the color of their hair or eyes. Being blind, he was compelled to look further. Deep inside, where the real person lived, where beauty and love existed.

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How important is it to have someone present during the final minutes of death? Would you do this for a person who wasn’t a close friend or family member? Your comments are appreciated.

Angel in the Basement

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On his way to teach mixed choir, the college professor turned the corner and observed a spellbound man blocking the stairway.

“What’s that sound?” The man asked.

The professor cocked his ear. “Oh yes, that’s the new student warming up.”

“I would have sworn it was an angel.” The man waited until the sound ceased and went on his way.

During her public school years, the girl brewed a pot of trouble and may have been viewed as a devil. She rebelled in second grade from the assigned corner of the special education room. The meaningless worksheet and the broken red crayon flew across the room.

Determined, she fought to join the reading group and sit with the rest of the class.

The girl, her mother, and the assigned ADA attorney became a common sight around school district conference tables. The shiny blue cover of the thick ADA manual faded. Notes filled the margins of pages. Clips, yellow stickies, and dog-ears marked heavily used sections.

Change didn’t happen overnight.  The girl mainstreamed in fourth grade and became fully included in sixth grade.

She faces new issues of inclusion. Rosa Parks, one of her role models, comes to mind when she enters shops that don’t allow space for a wheel chair to navigate. She would love to select her own clothing from the racks; or, find the perfect gift.

Hearing of others who followed the trail she blazed brings joy that lights her face. Perhaps she is an angel.

Last Stand

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Satisfaction cut through the engraved stress marks on his face that belied his young years when he received the invite to Nashville. He had earned it. Rough schedules, racking up miles across the country, opening shows with a mixture of envy and admiration for those who had paid their dues.

Billed as the new Hank Williams Senior those close to him shuddered at the commonality.

Blinding lights, applause, screams, hands reaching to touch him played in his head.  He splashed water onto his face and patted down his hair. The paraphernalia used earlier set on the counter beside the sink. He forgot to put it away in the guitar case, he told himself.  He wouldn’t acknowledge that he left it out to use. The effect didn’t last that long and he needed it just before he walked on stage.

“Fifteen minutes,” the chauffeur said through the phone. Muscles tightened. His stomach quivered with nausea. He washed white pills down with beer and gulped  bourbon from the bottle before going into the bathroom one last time. Before the show, before walking onto that famous auditorium rebuilt with pieces of the original wood.

The wood Hank Williams stood.

Bright lights dimmed. Garbled voices came from distorted faces. “Can you hear me? What’s your name?”

Author Vivienne Gardner Edwards says drug addiction affects more than the person using the drugs.  What do you think? Your COMMENTS are appreciated. If you enjoyed this post, please SHARE below.