Writing 101: Be Brief

Writing 101: Be Brief

You discover a letter on a path that affects you deeply. Today, write about this encounter. And your twist? Be as succinct as possible.

You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.


Quickly, I snuck up the attic stairs while my grandparents were sleeping. The two-family with a dutch flat that my grandparents never finished was eerily quiet in the early morning.  As I reached the top step, the cigar box that contained what remained of my Uncle Romeo’s life came into view.  It is what had me out of my bed so early on a Saturday morning skulking around the attic.

For all my 13 years, Uncle Romeo, my grandmother’s brother, had lived with my great grandparents. First, he was a sad broken figure of a man sitting in a wooden chair peering out a single kitchen window in the kitchen of my great grandmother’s home in a third floor walk up. Day after day he sat and surveyed the people on the busy street below.  He rarely spoke; uttering a soft-spoken word or two here and there and then mostly in Italian while all around him the hustle and bustle of our large and boisterous Italian extended family took place.

Why Uncle Romeo sat in silence was always shrouded in mystery and secrecy. Cloaked in sadness, he appeared to be searching for something through his window.  I asked my mother once why he just sat there.  She said something about the war and being shell shocked and a woman named Graziella but I should never speak of either.

When my great grandparents began to get feeble the three of them moved away from Uncle Romeo’s window to a nursing home. Suddenly the chair by the kitchen window he had silently occupied for several decades was replaced by a blue cushioned chair in a room in a nursing home without a window.

I opened the cigar box and a piece of worn stationery peeked out from underneath Uncle Romeo’s scant belongings; a pocket comb, a worn photograph, a ball of string, a Swiss army knife and an old savings account passbook.

I turned my flashlight toward the paper so I could read the words:

Dear Romeo,

Words escape me. But, I must tell you.

I enjoyed our time together and care about you deeply. But, I am no longer in love with you.

When you left to fight on the European Front your absence was too difficult for me. I felt so alone and miserable.  Pasquale was there to help me.  I am sorry, neither of us meant for this to happen.  As we spent more time together, Pasquale and I fell in love.   We are getting married on the second Sunday in May.

I hope, we both hope you can forgive us,

Graziella

In 100 words she shattered Uncle Romeo’s heart. Convinced Graziella would return to him, he spent a lifetime looking for her to walk up the busy sidewalk outside my great grandmother’s kitchen and return to him.  Until, he moved to a chair without a view.

Working Through The Pain with Chocolate and Chardonnay

Writing 101: Serially Lost

For today’s Writing 101 assignment I am re-blogging my original post from the June session of Writing 101. In June, I did not write the second or third post in the series. Couldn’t figure out a way to make it work; will try again this time around.

from the sticks to the bricks and back again

Sitting in the cold sterile hospital room waiting for my doctor to come speak to me, I remember the night you were conceived.  Your father and I had recently reconciled.

Your grandfather had passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack four months earlier.  The night before Papa’s funeral, your Dad, who has never handled stress or loss very well, announced he was leaving me after the funeral.   The sudden death of his Dad was telling him that there was something wrong with his life and we weren’t meant to be together.

Don’t try to make sense of that.  I lived through it and I don’t  completely understand his thought process.  At this point, four years into our relationship, I knew that when your Dad was upset the best thing I could do was assure him that I was there if he needed me and give him space.  Hovering and…

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Grampy’s Red Sox and cheap Irish skin

To get started, let’s loosen up. Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.

Keep typing (or scribbling, if you prefer to handwrite for this exercise) until your twenty minutes are up. It doesn’t matter if what you write is incomplete, or nonsense, or not worthy of the “Publish” button.

And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.


Generally, I hate timed free writing assignments.  It reminds me of being back in school – not that school was bad.  It’s just I always find that timed writing prompts were painful.  Sometimes I would sit paralyzed – pen frozen in my hand.  Words unable to escape.  My face becoming first pink, then red as I was sure that everyone could see the empty page in front of me or worse yet my incomprehensible scribbling on the page in front of me.

My free writing by hand

My free writing by hand

Even when I free write in the privacy of my home, I feel vulnerable as though my other half can see what I am writing.  The color of my cheeks rises on my cheap Irish skin that I inherited from my grandfather.  Why I lament did I not get the olive toned Italian skin of my grandmother’s side of the family that my sisters are blessed with?  Instead I inherited my grandfather’s cheap Irish skin – prone to rises in color and sunburn.  Why, I didn’t inherit his metabolism – he was always able to eat anything he wanted and never gain any weight.  Unfortunately his metabolism gene skipped a generation or something like that as none of my sisters or I am blessed with his ability to eat cake and ice cream and not gain any weight.

In addition to his cheap Irish skin, I did inherit my grandfather’s deep abiding love for his Red Sox.  As a child, I did not much appreciate Grampy’s Red Sox – which had less to do with the Red Sox and more to do with the fact that when we visited Nana and Grampy’s house, Grampy controlled the TV and there were only three choices – Lawrence Welk, Candlepins for Cash, and the Red Sox. And watching baseball on TV was about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Today, however, I am part of the Fenway Faithful, a card carrying member of Red Sox Nation. Admittedly, I tend to do most of my sports following via the internet – checking on scores periodically throughout a game. As an adult, however, I have developed the ability to watch a full Red Sox game on TV and not complain; unless the Sox are losing then I will be throwing things, cursing and yelling at the TV as though the ump or my beloved Red Sox can hear me. I am not sure where or when I developed this habit of talking to the players, but, it is something I definitely do. I have had more than one conversation from the comfort of my living room with Big Papa as he is up to bat, coaching and cajoling him to hit one out of the park.

 

Antipasto, heavy on the salami, hold the pasta

Writing 101, Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!

Today, be inspired by a favorite childhood meal. For the twist, focus on infusing the post with your unique voice — even if that makes you a little nervous. Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.  Feel free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.  Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.



Growing up in a predominantly Italian American family, every family celebration or holiday meal featured a pasta dish, red gravy, and a stick (a loaf of Italian bread).  Whenever my extended family gathered together there was an abundance of noise, cousins and definitely food.

Each of these celebratory meals started with the antipasto, a selection of olives, cheeses, cured meats, and a variety of vegetables like artichokes and mushrooms marinated in olive oil or vinegar.  The antipasto platter glistened on the holiday table set by my Nana or mother like precious jewels.  My mouth salivated as my eyes set upon the round slices, marbled and reddish in color.  Salami, a cured Italian sausage, was always my favorite.  It didn’t matter to me how I ate it, plain slices with nothing added; slices wrapped around provolone; layered together with lettuce, tomatoes, provolone, olive oil, roasted red peppers sandwiched in a piece of stick with oregano sprinkled on top; or even Americanized on Wonder Bread with mustard and American cheese.  More often than not, I would eat so much salami during the antipasto or first course that I would struggle to eat my main course.  I could eat pasta and red gravy any time but salami and antipasto were extravagant and reserved for holidays and special occasions, too expensive for normal daily consumption.  Salami was a special treat, not the ordinary bologna or imported ham that normally occupied the cold cut drawer in our refrigerator.  And I appreciated its specialness.

I was a finicky eater as a child with more of a sweet tooth than appreciation for spiciness, so salami was not the type of food I would be expected to like.  Meatballs and pasta, yes, cannoli, gelato, any one of the variety of Italian cookies my mother baked definitely.  But in addition to my sweet tooth, I developed an early appreciation for savory goodness of salami.  On more than one occasion, my parents had to remind me not to each too much salami before the main course, but I could not seem to satiate my taste for the savory treat I relished.  Moments after my parents reminded me, my little hands could be seen reaching across the table for one last slice of salami before the antipasto was put away and the pasta course was put on the table.  Although I loved pasta and meatballs, on the special occasions that antipasto was served, I preferred my antipasto to be heavy on the salami, hold the pasta.

As a child, an uncle brought my cousin and me to our first Bruins game and what I remember about that night besides my excitement over seeing Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito was that my uncle took us to an Italian restaurant for dinner before the game.

“Order anything you want,” he said to me.  I looked at the menu and asked for a salami sandwich.

My uncle was baffled.  “I said you can get anything you want, he reminded me.

“That is what I want,” I replied.

“A salami sandwich?” He laughed. “You can have that anytime!”  He tried to convince me to order something else.

I did not change my order.  For me, my first Bruins game was a special occasion and instead of celebrating it by ordering a multicourse meal, I preferred to enjoy my special treat: antipasto, heavy on the salami, hold the pasta

As an adult, I now serve antipasto on my table when my family gathers at our house on holidays such as Christmas Eve.  And although the cold cut drawer in our refrigerator periodically houses salami next to the ordinary bologna or imported ham, I still consider it a special treat.  For me, it can turn an ordinary day into something so much more than ordinary.

Random Letter in 750 Words or Less

Random Letter in 750 Words or Less

Walking in the early morning mist, I pass the houses in my neighborhood.  Their inhabitants, relative strangers to me, are still asleep in their beds.  All is still and quiet on this early, Monday morning.

Usually, I am observing the passing world around me.  The colors of the sky – grey, blue, white; the lilac bushes in full bloom; the bicycles littering the drive way as I turn the corner, abandoned by the McHugh children the prior night when their parents called for them.

But this morning, I am not quite myself as I walk around the neighboring streets.  My gait is slow and I am focusing not on my surroundings but my feet clad in electric green New Balance runners.  I slowly and methodically put one foot in front of another.  The world is a blur of electric green hitting coal black asphalt.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see a pink grosgrain ribbon.  The vibrancy of the pink is in stark contrast to the jet black asphalt.  I stop to take a closer look; any excuse to stop walking.

The pink grosgrain ribbon is tied around a packet of yellowing letters.  Clearly, someone once cared about these letters.  I hesitate.  I can’t leave the letters, sitting discarded on the side of the road.  But, what am I to do?  This is not school – there is no lost and found box.

My curiosity gets the best of me.  I’ll look at just one, I tell myself.  I look at the letter on top.  The envelope is addressed to Mrs. Rose Martineau and postmarked Pearl Harbor, HI, December 5, 1941.  I immediately notice it is dated two days before the day that will live in infamy.

My walk, which I’ve barely begun, comes to an abrupt halt.  I turn towards home with the packet of letters.  Sitting in my study, sipping a cup of Harney & Son’s Cinnamon Sunset Tea, I carefully pour over the letters.

The first letter I read is the one dated, December 5, 1941.   “My dearest Rose,” it begins.  “I know my service in the Navy has been difficult and lonely for you.  But soon it will be over and I can return home to you, my love.”

My mind wanders – how do couples who are so far apart maintain their relationships?  I wonder if Rose had been keeping company with a man who stayed behind.  Or had her husband, the author of the letter, strayed from their marriage vows?

“The difficult days have turned into weeks and months,” the letter continues, “and, now nearly three long years have passed.  I look forward to being discharged next month as I count the hours until I hold you in my arms again, my love.  Soon, very soon I will get to meet our precious son and we can celebrate his third birthday together as a family.”

This letter like all of them is signed, “With all my love, eternally yours, Joseph.”

I sit for hours and read each letter, carefully returning them to their corresponding envelopes.  I feel as if I am violating Rose and Joseph’s privacy.  These letters are their love story, not mine … but I can’t stop reading until I finish the letters.

The very first letter I read was actually the last letter from Joseph to Rose, as she had kept them neatly in order most recent on top.  I need to know whether Joseph survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I find myself mourning the possible loss of a man I had never met, anxious for his young wife.

Was it just coincidence that the letters stopped two days before the attack on Pearl Harbor?  Did Joseph come home to Rose?  If not, did Rose ever remarry? The questions flood my thoughts.

I must find out.  I Google Joseph and Rose Martineau. I take to social media – posting some of the details and pictures of the packet of letters.

I am contacted by a granddaughter of Joseph and Rose.  The letters belong to her father; they were lost in his recent move.  They are all he has of his father.  Joseph did come home from the war, but died in a car accident before her father, Joe, Jr. turned four years old.  Rose never remarried, always saying she had married her one true love for eternity.

I meet their granddaughter to return the letters.  The next morning, as I walk I cry for Joseph and Rose.

Random Letter in 500 Words or Less

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a pink grosgrain ribbon.  Its vibrancy is in stark contrast to the jet black asphalt.  I stop to take a closer look; any excuse to stop walking.

The pink grosgrain ribbon is tied around a packet of yellowing letters.  Clearly, someone once cared about these letters.  I hesitate.  I can’t leave the letters, sitting discarded on the side of the road.  But, what am I to do?  This is not school – there is no lost and found box.

My curiosity gets the best of me.  I’ll look at just one, I tell myself.  I look at the letter on top.  The envelope is addressed to Mrs. Rose Martineau and postmarked Pearl Harbor, HI, December 5, 1941.  I immediately notice it is dated two days before the day that will live in infamy.

The first letter I read is the one dated, December 5, 1941.   “My dearest Rose,” it begins.  “I know my service in the Navy has been difficult and lonely for you.  But soon it will be over and I can return home to you, my love.”

My mind wanders – how do couples who are so far apart maintain their relationships?  I wonder if Rose had been keeping company with a man who stayed behind.  Or had her husband, the author of the letter, strayed from their marriage vows?

“The difficult days have turned into weeks and months,” the letter continues, “and, now nearly three long years have passed.  I look forward to being discharged next month as I count the hours until I hold you in my arms again, my love.  Soon, very soon I will get to meet our precious son and we can celebrate his third birthday together as a family.”

This letter like all of them is signed, “With all my love, eternally yours, Joseph.”

I sit for hours and read each letter, carefully returning them to their corresponding envelopes.  I feel as if I am violating Rose and Joseph’s privacy.  These letters are their love story, not mine … but I can’t stop reading.

The very first letter I read was actually the last letter from Joseph to Rose, as she had kept them neatly in order most recent on top.  I need to know whether Joseph survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I find myself mourning the possible loss of a man I had never met, anxious for his young wife.

I must find out what happened.  I take to social media – posting some of the details and pictures of the packet of letters. I am contacted by a granddaughter of Joseph and Rose.  The letters belong to her father; they were lost in his recent move.  They are all he has of his father.  Joseph did come home from the war, but died in a car accident before her father, Joe, Jr. turned four years old.  Rose never remarried, always saying she had married her one true love for eternity.

Random Letter in 150 Words or Less

I find a packet of yellowing letters tied with a pink grosgrain ribbon.

The letter on top is addressed to Mrs. Rose Martineau and postmarked Pearl Harbor, HI, December 5, 1941.

I was only going to read one.

I feel as if I am violating Rose and Joseph’s privacy.  These letters are their love story, not mine … but I can’t stop reading.

The first letter was the last letter written two days before Pearl Harbor.

I mourn the possible loss of a man I had never met.

I find their granddaughter on the internet.

The letters belong to her father.  They are all he has of his father.

Joseph did come home from the war, but died in a car accident the following year.

Rose never remarried

I cry.

 

 

Working Through The Pain with Chocolate and Chardonnay

Sitting in the cold sterile hospital room waiting for my doctor to come speak to me, I remember the night you were conceived.  Your father and I had recently reconciled.

Your grandfather had passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack four months earlier.  The night before Papa’s funeral, your Dad, who has never handled stress or loss very well, announced he was leaving me after the funeral.   The sudden death of his Dad was telling him that there was something wrong with his life and we weren’t meant to be together.

Don’t try to make sense of that.  I lived through it and I don’t  completely understand his thought process.  At this point, four years into our relationship, I knew that when your Dad was upset the best thing I could do was assure him that I was there if he needed me and give him space.  Hovering and expecting him to talk through it like my girlfriends and I did wasn’t going to help either one of us.  But, even I was surprised by his bombshell announcement.

Several months passed before he returned asking for my forgiveness.  On the night you were conceived, we were still in the honeymoon stage of our reconciliation.  When your father left the room to freshen our drinks, I lay there in the candlelight and conversed with God.  I knew  I was ovulating I told him and as I speak sperm is racing to my unfertilized eggs.  You have what you need to make this happen, but please only let this happen if I’m going to have a happy, healthy baby.  If I’m not going to carry full-term then don’t let this happen, I pleaded with him.  My prayers have long been conversations with God more often than the formal prayers of my Catholic upbringing.  When I missed my period, I knew that my prayers had been answered.  That and the incredible exhaustion.

In the months that followed, your father and I chose your name Kendra Raye after your two grandfathers.  Or Isaiah Ray had you been a boy, Ray being the middle name of your Dad and his Dad before him.  And, we planned your life.  There would be ballet classes and softball, picnics at Pope John Paul Park, summers at the beach, girls’ days at the salon with me, your aunt and cousins, your father would braid your hair,  and I would be in charge of your religious upbringing – Catholic with a healthy dose of Southern Baptist.

In my second trimester, we  started telling people other than family and the closest of our friends our news.  We followed the conventional wisdom of waiting until after that second trimester mark.  Most miscarriages happen during the first trimester.

When I got ready for work and my doctor’s appointment that morning, I was feeling lucky.  The signs of my pregnancy were there – your father lovingly observed how my shape had changed and my stomach hardened.  I felt good, hungry and tired, but good.  I was loving being pregnant.  I was not waddling but walking protectively – my arm always in front of my growing belly as I maneuvered crowded subway platforms or walked down stairs.

So often when bad news is coming, we are unaware that it lurks around the corner.  And that was the case that morning.  I was excited for my day ahead of me while admittedly annoyed , actually downright angry, with your father because he wasn’t going to the doctor’s appointment with me.

The doctor finally comes into the hospital room to talk with me.  His face shows no emotion.  “Lynne, we are sorry, “ he starts, “something went wrong, your baby is no longer moving.  We believe the baby, your pregnancy is no longer viable.”  I am left alone to compose myself.  The room is colder now and I am angry, angry at God, angry at your Dad while at the same time happy that he is not there exploding as each of the doctor’s words cut into my heart.

I call one of my sisters to tell her … I scare her with my unintelligible words.  I can’t breathe, I can’t utter words, all I can do is cry.  She offers to call your father for me – I ask her not to.  I don’t want to go home.  Yet, I can’t stay in the hospital room crying forever.  I must go home.  The doctor asks if I am safe at home fearing that the reason  I don’t want to go home is domestic violence.  I tell him that I am safe.  I don’t want to go home and break the heart of the man I love, I explain.  Telling your Dad what the doctor told me is without a doubt one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do.

I was supposed to return to the hospital the next day so that they could start me on a round of drugs that would induce a miscarriage like the morning after pill.  My sister tells me that I should wait, when she was pregnant with her oldest daughter, the baby stopped moving for several days but she was fine.  Her doctor, who is one of the top OB-Gyns in the country agrees to see me on that Friday.  He advises me not to get my hopes up, but that there is a possibility my doctor is wrong and he is willing to give me a second opinion.

I go to work the day in between trying to act normal.  It is fruitless.  I sit at my desk and cry.  I explain it to my boss and leave early that day after my closest co-workers and I cry in the ladies room.

The morning of the appointment for my second opinion, in the shower as my hand brushes across my stomach I notice it is no longer hard.  I know this means I really don’t need a second opinion.  I go anyway.  As the doctor examines me – the nurse notes that there  is no firmness.  I know this means my fears are true; they send me for an ultrasound.

My body holds on to you, refusing to expel your remains from my uterus. For a week, I fear waking up in blood or starting to miscarry at work.  Nothing happens.  It seems to me that you and I are in denial,  paralyzed by grief we can’t let go of each other.  My new doctor schedules me for a DNC.  The emotional pain is unbearable.

I am not sure how or why your father and I made it through this – each of us handling our grief differently.  He could not look at me – he stayed out as much as possible.  All I wanted was for him to hold me and cry with me.  Instead, I cried alone as I consumed equal amounts of  chardonnay and chocolate (M & M’s from the Nescafe jar full of candy coated chocolates that my Mom sent me home with).  Ironically, I gained more miscarriage weight than I did pregnancy weight.

A decade has since passed and there remains a hole in our lives that you were meant to occupy.

Three Songs

Write about the three most important songs of your life, state the instructions on my computer screen. Immediately, I thought of the Black Eyed Peas’ ‘I Gotta Feeling.’ Three songs, impossible, two yes, but three? I can’t even think of three songs, I tell myself. Then songs started flooding my thoughts: ‘Always’ – Al Green; ‘Let’s Stay Together’ – Al Green; ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman!’ – Shania Twain;  ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?’ – Tina Turner; ‘Manic Mondays’ – The Bangles; ‘Love Shack’ – B-52s.

How could I choose just three? I settled on ‘I Gotta Feeling’ and two pairs of songs that evoke similar feelings: ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman!’ and ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?’ and ‘Always’ and ‘Let’s Stay Together.’ But before I sat to write, I was reminded of ‘Let’s Twist Again’ by Chubby Checker.  Certainly that song, my first song had to make the cut for my short list.

‘Let’s Twist Again’

The lyrics of my first anthem echo in my ear, “Come on let’s twist again, Like we did last summer! Yeaaah, let’s twist again, Like we did last year!”  I picture my toddler self, platinum blonde ringlets framing my certainly cherubic face twisting away. Chubby Checker and his dance songs including ‘Let’s Twist Again’ topped the charts in the 1960s. Every time the song was played or someone pointed a camera in my direction, I would break into the twist.  Or so I’ve been told.

I held onto the twist even during my awkward and painfully shy teen years.  I did by then, however, stop spontaneously busting into dance when a camera was focused my way. When Chubby sang a Twist song, I was on the dance floor. ‘Let’s Twist Again’ was the carefree anthem of my youth that allowed me the freedom to be myself.  I could twist and shout and frankly not care if anyone was watching my gawky teen self.  The song is so definitely my song that at my sister’s wedding one of my aunts dedicated it to the maid of honor – my thirty something self.

Man! I Feel Like A Woman!

So this song is surprising because not a lot of country songs end up on any of my playlists. Truth be told, I think I might be a closet country fan … well just a little bit.

This song and others of Shania belong on my playlist – My Man has Pissed Me Off Yet Again and I need to climb down off the ledge before I hurt someone, probably him.

You know the moments when your other half gets on your last nerve and you know your reaction is not going to be pretty? That is when I pull out Shania to help me through the rusty fork moments, the moments where I can totally understand what Chris Rock meant when he said, “… If you haven’t contemplated murder, you haven’t been in love …”

I play Shania so loud and sing along to ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman!’ until I’ve all but forgotten what upset me in the first place and gotten over my anger.   This song is #1 on My Man has Pissed Me Off Yet Again playlist. The funny thing is although I’ve never asked him, I’m pretty sure that my other half despises this song and a few others on that playlist. He really should be grateful that this Shania song can soothe the anger I feel and has saved us from more than one battle over the years.

I Gotta Feeling

This song is just one of those catchy pop songs you can’t get out of your head once you hear it.  It’s upbeat and energetic.  That in itself is not enough to make it a significant song to me.

Students at My First WOW! with Citizen Schools Teaching Fellow - December 2010

Students at My First WOW! with Citizen Schools Teaching Fellow – December 2010

I volunteer as a Citizen Teacher through the extended learning time program, Citizen Schools. Each semester culminates in a showcase event called a WOW! – think science fair. The night before my first WOW!, I did not sleep. I was so nervous for my students whom I felt needed 2 – 3 more weeks to be ready for this event. My jitters reminded me of how I felt before third grade spelling tests – spelling that week’s words over and over in my head until I fell to sleep. But, I was the teacher now and I couldn’t do anything about it – it was up to my students to teach back to the community what they had learned during the ten weeks of our apprenticeship. “OMG!,” I thought, “I hope I taught them something worth learning.” I was left to toss and turn through the night as I anticipated the WOW! and how my students would fare.

When I left my office the next night, I was filled with dread as I headed to Boston Architectural College for the city-wide event. I stopped at the 7-11 near State Street Station to grab a diet soda and some mints. As I walked in, the sounds of will.i. am and The Black Eyed Peas singing ‘I Gotta Feeling’ echoed from the radio on top of the store’s cooler. Immediately, my mood changed. The dread in the pit of my stomach was replaced by euphoria. The song was a signal that everything was going to be alright. And it was. My students not only amazed me but they rocked it that night impressing my industry colleagues with their knowledge and grasp of commercial real estate.

That night I decided to teach another apprenticeship – five total to date. And, when my students express their own fears about WOW! , I tell them the story of my first WOW! and we listen to ‘I’ve Gotta Feeling,’ the PG Chipmunks & Chipettes version of course, which has become the theme song that rallies my students before WOW!.

And, for the record, I would totally love to hang out with will.i.am for a day; his energy and enthusiasm inspire me. Maybe he can show up for the class before my next WOW! and sing for me and my kids. “Ooooooo hoooo.”