A Memorable Performance

Life Story Club Contributor

Feb 27, 2020

Okay as a child in the Baptist church, my parents volunteered me constantly. This is the truth though. They are in charge. They would volunteer me to recite poems. Now, why would they know I would remember these poems? I don’t know. All I know whenever there is a special program in the Baptist church, Grace has to recite a poem. So of course I have to repeat it over and over at home because I don’t like to make mistakes, although I’m not perfect. So I think because of that, I never thought of it afterward. But once I got older I realized that that started me not on a journey, but it made me more willing to do, not a play, but a speech. And let me say what it is. So in college there’s a course called, not speech, they called it oral communications.

And the difference is you don’t just speak. They teach you how you’re going to speak on a topic, right. And you may never have to use this, but you may. So what they teach you is when you’re going to read, when you’re going to speak on a topic, you have to do it like a research paper. You have to actually investigate and learn everything about that topic. And there’s a reason I’m saying this is very brief. And so the other thing I learned and remembered was you have to be careful of the way you move your hands, all the movements. So what I did was when I had this oral communications class, I would practice in the mirror because you have to be very direct. You have to look into the audience because if you don’t speak or if you’re not enthusiastic about your topic, the people will fall asleep.

So the first thing is you have to be enthusiastic. You have to be very knowledgeable about your topic because they all going to ask you question. So the reason that was important to me, not that I thought I was going to speak in public because I’m a little shy, but I said just in case. So you have to prepare like if it’s a research paper, you have to know how to organize your speech.

Anyway, this prepared me for this speech on Dr. Martin Luther King because everybody had to choose somebody to be Graded. Everyone had to do a speech in class so that the professor can actually grade you. So I think that early experience with the poems helped a little bit. So now it excited me that I was able to choose whatever. And the reason I’m saying to you that I did Dr. Martin Luther King is because I was totally not in love with him, but his philosophy of equal justice for all. He has my philosophy that everybody is equal, that there’s just one human being that black, white, yellow, and Asian should be able to live together.

I’m not impressed by color either. I think I judge people by the way they treat each other and the way they treat me. So when I did the poem, why I’m saying this to you is I didn’t realize what I was doing. In other words, when I finished with a poem, I felt I was living that moment when he was speaking in Washington D.C. I felt everything he felt. And the reason for this is because I practiced just like I was supposed to. I practiced for days. And so the poem–I wasn’t him–but I could sense the meaning of each word.

So the professor said something to me. That’s why I said I had a lot of nerve. He said, “First of all, I’m surprised you pick that poem because that poem is well known.” I wasn’t thinking. Everyone is used to that poem being spoken in a certain way. So for you to pick that poem, if you didn’t do a good job, it would be a turnoff. But fortunately, he said, “Your version was pretty good.” So I was shocked. I got an A in that class.

Feb 27, 2020 Okay as a child in the Baptist church, my parents volunteered me constantly. This is the truth though. They are in charge. They would volunteer me to recite poems. Now, wh...

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Near Death Experience

Life Story Club Contributor

Feb 3, 2020

I was going to visit a friend in Brooklyn Hospital. Very simple situation right? So the thought came to me, should I cross at the corner or … What is it when you cross in between? Jaywalking. So I’m like, “Oh.” Because I’m always talking to myself, trying to direct myself to different things that I’m doing. Anyway, I chose to jaywalk. How silly. So what happened then, so before I jaywalked, I looked to the left, I looked to the right. I really did. And I honestly didn’t see anything.

The reason I was so careful because I’ve been in one car accident in my early 30s. And it required five years of physical … not five years, two years of physical therapy twice a week. Demanding that my primary care physician, after a year when my right leg was dragging, I demanded that she recommended me to a specialist. I didn’t know which one. So she recommended the orthopedic specialist. He immediately said, “You needed physical therapy from day one.”

And I said to the primary care physician, “The reason you have to give me a specialist, because I work for a living. I don’t depend on boyfriends or whatever, so this leg has to go back.” Anyway, so two years later, twice a week, because I stayed off from work, then I went back to work. So twice a week I was late, two years physical therapy is over. However, that never left me. That memory of being in that car accident, because what you don’t know is for five years the pain was pretty bad, but the reason I didn’t need a cane, because after a year I said to the orthopedic specialist, “I need a cane. I’m tired of this pain.” I mean it was intense. But what he did was, when I went to him after a year of the accident, he recommended elastic support pants, which I use seven days. 365 days a year. However, five years later, the pain left me. If I have to do something, I do it for my health.

I’m saying all that because I never wanted to experience a car accident again. The only reason I did so well because at the end of the two years of physical therapy, I asked the physical therapist what was I do so that this leg would be 100%. Because I demand a lot of my doctors. They don’t always deliver but I ask anyway. So he said, “Your right leg will never be 100%. Maybe 92%.” “Well what do I have to do? Because I have to work for a living.” So the physical therapist said, “You must continuously, you must work out.” Fortunately I was working off for my twenties, so that was cool. I still work out. But anyway.

So now I’m crossing the street, jaywalking. I didn’t see … And by the way, the reason I said I’m so careful, this old body can’t take another car accident. So I’m walking, I don’t see anything. As soon as I hit the middle, don’t ask me why, this SUV, I don’t know where it came from. I’m not being funny. It’s almost going to hit me. So the first thing I say to myself is, “Not again.” Meaning another car accident. I’m now in panic mode. And this is really what happened, man, God strike me down. So I know I have to get to the other side before this thing kills me because it’s close to me. It’s not even a car, it’s a SUV, and it’s black. So I’m walking and I said, “Grace, you’ve got to get out of here.”

Well it turns out, I don’t remember getting to the other side. This thing was like paralyzing me. So I know that I know that I know, that God actually lifted me to the other side. And I’ll tell you why. When I got to the other side, the driver comes over to me. “Did I hit you?” “No.” Notice what he said. “Are you hurt?” But what happened is … So two things end like this. Number one, I heard somebody crying or whatever in the background. So obviously somebody saw something. I certainly didn’t understand where this thing came from, this SUV. But somebody saw something, because I hear like a woman crying or whatever, like she saw something. And then, like I said, when I get to the other side. So my only question because this thing has rattled me for quite a while, because it didn’t make sense. But God has helped me in many ways.

This to me was one of my testimonies of how God has helped me. Anyway, when I got to the other side, my last question to him was, “Did you see me?” he said no. So this thing here, this near death experience, rattled me so much that when I went to visit the person, of course I still visited the person, I told her the story. Now she’s a Christian like me, so she connected. She understood that Christian do have miracles that happen to them. It’s not a story, it’s your experiences. So that’s my near death because this thing was close to me like you are to me. And there’s no way I could get away from this thing because it’s big. And yet, and I didn’t feel my legs going over to the other side. It even tires me when I talk about it, because it took my breath away.

You know what, jaywalking? And I’m glad you said that. I have done it a few times since but not often. But I’ll remember what you say, because it’s stupid to jaywalk. Don’t do it.

Because you don’t want to die before your time. I didn’t want to die before. And another thing about this near death experience is when things like this happen to me, it helps me to appreciate my life more, but it also does something else. It helps me to I understand you’ve got to do more with your life. Meaning, serve God more, serve others more, be more useful. Some people … There are two ways you can take when you go through tragedies or scary moments. For me, instead of me closing in, like some people do. “I’m scared of life. I’m scared of this.” What it does for me is, the reason it opens me up is because it makes me more aware of God’s presence in my life. I can only talk about my experience. So it makes me a little bolder to help people, to obey God. It helps me to be more in touch with, not enough, with God’s purpose for my life. And it helps me to be a better person.

So all these experiences, because at 20 I wasn’t like this. Not only not as wise, I was on fire. Don’t get on my nerves because I’m exploding. But no, I learned to pick my battles, I’m wiser. I wish I knew what I know now when I was 20. Because that was really different. That’s my story.

Feb 3, 2020 I was going to visit a friend in Brooklyn Hospital. Very simple situation right? So the thought came to me, should I cross at the corner or … What is it when you cross in be...

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Work History

Life Story Club Contributor

Jan 30, 2020

In high school, my passion was really teaching. Because like I said before, I like exchanging ideas, because I learn, is edifying for me, and hopefully for the student. Unfortunately, even though that was still my passion, even today, what happened is I discovered that the classrooms were not as organized and orderly as they were when I was going to school. And so, for me, I needed classrooms where children were well behaved, there’s no disruptions. Just like when I went to high school in Prospect Heights High School, in those days it was all girls, and there was no disruptions.

So, because I felt that if I pursued this, I would have to spend half of my time disciplining the children, and the other half teaching, and I won’t finish my curriculum on time. Because that’s… I have very high standards.

So, originally I went to college, and in my sophomore year, okay, I switched it. Initially, I did major in Spanish. Because I wanted to be a Spanish teacher, right? So I took Spanish as a foreign language in high school, and I did study in Spanish in Panama. And I took advanced Spanish in college for two years. But then, I decided to change. I dropped out of college in my sophomore year, because I had some problem at home. So stupidly, I dropped out of college, started working as a keep on keypunch operator for years.

And then a CRT operator, which is a updated version of the keypunch. But one day, and this is how I’m going to end. One day I discovered, I did this so long, I felt like I was part of the machine. And I actually read a book in the library that says that when you work with machines for a long time, you become alienated from yourself, and you begin to feel like a machine, which is a very bad feeling, because now you’re empty. It emptied me. So, I understood what was going on. So, I had the opportunity to go back to college at night, at Hofstra University, and I majored in social work. Now, that was perfect for me. I get paid to help somebody else have a better life. And so, to end with the social work I’ll say, I really loved the job, and the reason, every day is different. Every day is different because the people are different.

But, they were inspirational to me because what it did for me is by interaction, interacting with different types of people, I learned from them, and hopefully they learned from me. And the last thing that social work did for me is, it humbled me, because I met all kinds of people. I met people that were businessmen, lawyers, people from all strata walks of life. And, the way they their lives may have unraveled or not, it humbled me because I was seeing people. Some of them were brilliant, some of them. And different walks of life. And the reason it humbled me, because one of the things you learn as a social worker that helps you to connect with people in a real way, is that one of the things they teach you is that you’re one paycheck away from becoming homeless yourself. Well, not homeless, but at least maybe homeless too, but a client.

Because oftentimes what we don’t realize is, okay, so we’re doing well. And then you get on unemployment. If it runs out, and all your savings are gone, you can end up homeless, too. So, that particular job humbled me, and that’s why I could connect today with people. Look, even the man that is begging on the street, the reason I can connect with him and talk to him like a real human being, because I don’t know his story. And so, that’s what is so enjoyable about social work. You learn about people, their journeys. You may not learn the whole thing, but the point is, that homeless person that you may think is nothing, you don’t know their journey.

They may have been making much more money than you have. I’m just talking in general. So, I just want to end like this. Social work has done more for me, than I did for it because it enriched my life because of the clients that I met. Though some of them were more difficult, but that’s part of the job. But it has made me the person that… Well, it has helped to make me the person I am today.

Because it’s true. It really humbles you because when you think you’re all that and you meet somebody that they have done a lot more than you did, but maybe the investments they made went wrong or whatever. Don’t look down on another person because you may be next.

And so, I love it. It makes you connect with people of all different classes, and even races.

Jan 30, 2020 In high school, my passion was really teaching. Because like I said before, I like exchanging ideas, because I learn, is edifying for me, and hopefully for the student. Unf...

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Young Dreams

Life Story Club Contributor

Jan 23, 2020

I really wanted to be a teacher because growing up… This is a very short story. Growing up I was fascinated by thoughts, by ideas. I was always… For example I would ask my mother things like, “Why is the sky blue?” I was always concerned about how things worked, why they work the way they do. Not that I was preoccupied. So to me teaching was an idea, or it meant that I would be exchanging ideas with the children and vice versa.

And to me that would stimulate my mind, dear minds. And it’s going to be a great thing to do. So when I went to college, I did well in English, one of my favorite courses because the professor said, “No matter what you choose, you have to be… You have to learn to speak well, write well so that you can be successful.” And of course, I believed him. So because I did well in the English class, he gave me the opportunity to be a peer teacher. So what I did was I taught one of his courses, not the grammar the other one. It had to do with something that will… We read something about and then we’re going to learn the messages, what we learned from that story.

So that I find very stimulating because when you’re… Well one of the things I learned that was very interesting is I had to spend the night writing my lesson plan. What questions are you going to ask, what are the questions in that book whatever. And I found that very exciting and then I actually did it, and I found that even more exciting because seeing the way the students responded their ideas, it made me more excited about what I was doing.

However, this is how it ends. So then he had the nerve to say, “Now Grace, would you like to teach the grammar part?” No way. That is more technical and hello I don’t want to make a fool of myself.

So when I found that, that was a really good match for me or however, the reason I didn’t become a teacher, even though many people say I should still should have been one, because I like to process things and analyze things carefully, is because for some reason as time went on to me, the classrooms were filled with children that weren’t as well behaved as when I went to school. It began to bother me because I said, you have a certain time to finish your curriculum, but if you have to correct the children and be their parent to, you’ll never finish. So it bothered because I like precision. I like children to be well behaved, so I have all the time to spend teaching. So I was disappointed that I had to change from teaching to… Well ultimately I became a social worker, which we’ll talk about that another time. But I really wanted to be a teacher.

Jan 23, 2020 I really wanted to be a teacher because growing up… This is a very short story. Growing up I was fascinated by thoughts, by ideas. I was always… For example I would ask my ...

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