Tag Archives: school

Five Minutes to Live

The alarms are blaring outside and the TV has the shrill piercing beep and a warning to take cover immediately—that North Korea has launched missiles that will reach the U.S. in less than 5 minutes.

I’m so scared that I am almost in a catatonic state, finding it hard to believe that this is the end for us all. For weeks we have been getting dire predictions that war is imminent but like everyone else I did not really believe it. How could that be? How could any rational person let the rhetoric get so out of hand that here we are. But when you have so many lickspittles in Washington not willing to stand up to this administration, it was inevitable. When you have an unbalanced President who stokes the fires and provokes, and thinks it is macho to use the nuclear weapons at his disposal, it is bound to happen. I go through the motions of grabbing my birds and jumping into my bedroom closet—the safest place. But, as I am doing this I know there is no safety anywhere and I am doomed. Well at least I will die fast.

I close my eyes, think of my children and feel so sad that I will not be able to say goodbye. I harken back to when I was a child and I used to play the game of what if: what if the Russians launched a bomb and we were told it would hit us in 5 minutes? I remember saying that I would hide in the closet with no other thought of what would become of us. I remember hiding underneath the desk at school for our bomb drills and cannot believe that this is it and all that practice was for naught. However, I take solace in the fact that at least I won’t get any older, and that maybe I will see my boy in heaven, all healed and beaming. A feeling of peace and calm comes over me as I pray. Those sweet parrots of mine know something is wrong and instead of squirming and squawking they are quiet and strangely attentive, just sitting with me. I think of all the things I wanted to do and never did. I oddly worry about my computer and laptop, and my beautiful camera equipment. I think that nobody will ever know I existed because all traces of my life will be obliterated with everything else. I wonder if by some chance I do survive the initial impact, how long will it take for the radiation to travel and how us survivors will die a slow and agonizing death. I think back on the movie, “On the Beach” where survivors who lived in Australia waited for the inevitable. I remember the ominously preternatural TV movie, “The Day After” and try to remember how long it took for Jason Robards to die of radiation poisoning. I think of my friend whose entire family moved to Australia during the cold war, only to move back to New York a few years later. I wonder who will succumb first—me or the birds? I think that if only I had taken my phone into the closet I could at least say farewell to my son, but in my haste I left it outside on the counter. I wonder if anybody will be posting on Facebook or the Kardashians will post doomsday selfies, maybe burying them in a time capsule to let the future inhabitants of the world know who the beautiful people were. Will my pictures or paintings survive? How about my IRA—will I have money to live in the new apocalyptic world. Will I lose my hair and where will I get my hair done in the new world if I don’t die, knowing full well all these thoughts are totally ridiculous?

Then during my foray into the dire future or lack thereof, I suddenly become aware that the sirens have stopped and there seems to be some announcement on the TV. I wonder if I am just dead already. I listen carefully and decide to venture out of the closet only to hear the amazing announcement that a miracle of sorts has happened—the U.S. has intercepted the missiles and the strike has been averted. We will live—I will live—my children will live. The announcer is saying that the threat is over and during my rejoicing and relief, a cold and dark shadow appears to pass over me making me shiver and I sigh and say, “For now.”


Wherever I am, when I hear that familiar rattling sound coming from the trees every August the old childhood memory is evoked. I am a girl, living on the main floor in Stuyvesant Town right near the many trees that surround my window. That shaking, rattle snake sound at the end of August signals an end to the carefree days of tops in the playground; getting up early to play all day; running races and being champ; going out after dinner. Although still hot in August, seemingly overnight, the steamy days are replaced with that distinct smell and slight coolness that signals Fall is coming. The days are noticeably shorter and school is on the horizon.

Third Grade

It is a shame that families are so dysfunctional and are so filled with secrets and “justified anger” at really nothing. We waste so much time with our petty disagreements, never really talking it out. Life is so short and it is such a shame that we never see the goodness in our family members until it is too late. When I was a child, I loved my mom so much and I distinctly remember sitting on the couch, holding her hand while I watched TV. I used to wrap Readers Digests up and give them to her as presents and she would act as if it was so wonderful. I don’t know when I started to distance myself from her and the rest of the family. But, I think an incident that happened to me when I was 8 laid the framework for the distant relationship I had with my parents that lasted pretty much until they died. I’m not sure why I never even trusted my parents to share a molestation as an 8 year old which happened on the way home from school during lunch. Looking back I’m sure part of this was due to my dad being hypercritical, telling me I was stupid every day so I guess I assumed he would blame me. I was so ashamed as if this was somehow my fault. I knew better than to go into a building with a strange man, but I did it anyway, because I thought I was being helpful showing him the mailboxes. I thought my parents would be angry so I just stuffed it and let the pain and sickness wash over me until I could push it far enough into my subconscious mind that I could function again. I never told a soul about this and that was a very heavy burden for an 8 year old. But there was a cost in that I suffered from the same nightmare every night. I would dream that I went out to the bathroom but when I looked down the long hallway to the dining room, I would see “something” on the wall and start that loud moaning that marked my nightmares. To make matters worse, I had a shrew of a 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Habatkin, who I was warned about. She literally hated me and made it her mission to harass me and make my life a living hell. Couple this with the molestation and I just simply stopped doing all my homework. Each morning she would come around the room to check our workbook and mine would be blank. She would then put a big X or a 0 on the top of the sheet into which I would then draw faces but never add anything to the actual contents of the homework. This went on day in and day out so that I was eventually referred to the school psychologist named Miss Mack because, at this point, I was in danger of being left back. I was allowed to leave my classroom each day early and go to her office where she would talk to me in her quiet measured tone, while I played with the dolls. She was my savior and I’ll never forget how she would tell me to never mind Mrs. H, which in turn gave me hope. However, I never once divulged my deep, dark, secret to her lest she tell my parents. I think that set me up for lots of depressive and drinking issues later in life. It is a shame that I never felt that I had anybody to confide in and didn’t even give my parents a chance. Whether or not they would have loved me or ridiculed me, I will never know.