Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reflection: Pulling Your Own Red Wagon

In 2002 I helped to organize a theater company. The theater was running smoothly (everyone had come together to make a successful venture) but soon people’s egos took center stage. The jealousy and manipulation infected the theater like cancer. These individuals let their insecurities turn them into malicious, bitter people in need of a scapegoat. Unfortunately, the scapegoat of choice was me.

My plight was an accusation of trying to “take over” the theater by the producer. He thought this because of a few suggestions I made on how to improve the company. Eventually, other members of the theater sided with him and I was railroaded. The producer and the other members of the theater didn’t want to see that I was trying to help. I had substantial experience in the professional theater world and was sharing my knowledge (but they saw this as me “one-uping” them). I soon relinquished some of my duties in the theater so I would not have direct contact with these individuals. I felt very angry because I was being judged wrongly. I spoke to an associate of mine about what had happened. Her advice to me was to place people into categories and respond to them in a way that they can relate: either by adapting to their behavior or to kill them with kindness. This is how she handles certain situations. As for me, I cannot easily place people into categories and act accordingly. I would rather disassociate myself. Some people might think that I’m taken flight (like so many do when conflict arise) but I know myself, I know my own behavior, and I am taking responsibility for it. If I continue to be associated with negativity: my behavior and my outlook on life will become negative. My mother always told me everyone has their own red wagon to pull and it’s up to you on how much baggage you can haul.
If you find yourself exhibiting displaced anger, you need to ask yourself the question, “Am I taking responsibility for my behavior?” or “Am I letting someone else pull my red wagon?” It is very easy to shift our responsibilities by spinning the story and pointing our crooked finger towards some one else. But, instead of looking for a scapegoat when jealousy and insecurity show their ugly heads, we need to take ownership of our behavior and find ways to change our dispositions. We need to pull our own red wagons no matter how heavy the load is.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Reflection: Rockaway Memories

My family lived in Rockaway for a brief time in the late sixties before moving to Jamaica, Queens for nine years. At the time, I was too young to remember Rockaway. My sister, Alberta, told me stories about living on Hillmeyer Road and Beach 69th Street. She said that our block was so safe that you could walk around the neighborhood at two or three o’clock in the morning without being harassed by anyone.

My family returned to Rockaway in 1978. I was eleven years old. The day after we moved into the Arverne Houses on Beach 56th Street (now it’s called Ocean Bay Houses), there was a snowstorm. The trains and buses were not running due to the inclement weather so we were snowbound. I remembered the snow was so deep that I couldn’t walk through it. The snow reached my waist! After calling a friend from my old neighborhood and talking for a couple of minutes, I soon drew bored and just stared out of my bedroom window taking in my new neighborhood.

As the months moved on and summer arrived, I found solace on the jetties. I used to love walking on the jetties and looking at the waves crash into the rocks. I also loved walking on the boardwalk to Playland with my mother, sister and brother on the 4th of July and seeing the fireworks over the water. We used to walk to the arcades and my favorite game was Skee-Ball. My sister and brother used to tease me because I used to throw the ball not seeming to aim at anything (there is always a method to the madness). With my obscure aim, I used to always get the ball into the 50 spot and have enough tickets to get a prize.

At the end of 2006, I moved from Rockaway to Long Island. I have bittersweet memories of “The Rock” (losing various loved ones throughout the years, my first pregnancy, losing friendships and gaining new ones). But as I raise my family on Long Island: Rockaway will always be considered home.

About Me

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Sandra Proto debut poem at the age of twelve was entitled, The Late Great April, giving homage to the first time it snowed in April. She wrote Late Great April as an English class assignment and her teacher was so impressed by the poem that he tried to get it published. After this experience, Sandra became a "Bedroom Poet" who composed Blackberry Beauty,Light, Compositions, and many others. Blackberry Beauty (her signature poem) was featured in SaSi's Production of Identity @ Space at 24 in 2000. Sandra has performed with the funky, folky, reggae rock band Hudson’s Hope. Her poetry is featured on VAMPIRE LESBIANS and ALL I CAN SEE IS HER EYES tracks of their demo CD. Sandra is also, a fiction writer, playwright, and an essayist.

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