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Judy Atchinson's A Stubborn Woman
by Judy Atchinson

A Stubborn Woman

A Daily Gazette community blog
QUEST leader's wanderings and musings

How to spoil your kids

“Negativity rooted not in fact but in some strange need to find personal solace in the perceived faults of others." —Joe Piazza

What do you think, does that sound likes me? It was addressed to me on an open site on Facebook for the world to see. Needless to say, I was devastated, I pouted, I sulked, I plotted revenge, and then I got up from my temper tantrum and went on with my day. I let the world take it’s course, and it did, and I said naught, but the revenge of others was sweeter than candy. Yum. Be careful always what you say or write it can turn topsy turvy on you.

Expansion-WOW-Partners with the East Indian Orchestra, chic little dinner, dances for the Guyanese Community, “We are now partners,” says the man in charge and so we are. And what a lovely business commitment. John Mootavern on our board is our liaison, and hopefully we will thrive and prosper as a team.

Latin Jazz and Hip Hop-combo practicing late nights at QUEST, two kinds of music, 2 cultural backgrounds. And me a classic musician since the age of 6, and lets not forget one of our Kings plays violin.

Then a third partnership, a woman from Mohonasen School System got a grant to put on a play. A musical, she has written. She also will be rehearsing at QUEST, and teaching theater arts, and renting space, performance in late September. Broadway-Ta Da!!

We have started a small choral group right after Monday night ballet. Kids really want to sing, and some are learning to improvise with the bucket drummers on Tuesday.

And here I am grinning, simply grinning like the Cheshire Cat, for this is truly like Wonderland to me. We have been talking about Night Owl Classes, but I may have to rethink space perquisites. This old building is really rocking. And I like to think it is a buzz with the sounds of Happy People, doing creative and original things! Working together as teams of creativity and perseverance.

Please come down and visit and help, and construct and learn, and help children to dream. While we're at it, you could do a little dreaming too!

All my life I wanted just this, a place for people to come together and learn the really good things, things that matter. Things that are age old and the “real deal.”

Now that I have the staff, and the basics food, homework help, and space we can be a real community center, based in the oldest synagogue in Schenectady.

And speaking, or writing of synagogues that old falling apart house next door has a big old swastika painted on it. Been there for years. No one is interested in removing it. I believe I was told by Joe, (see above) to remove it myself. Never seeing it or realizing the danger involved, it’s so easy to give advice. I remember the first and last time I saw the police come to 820 State St., there were six cops and the canine unit, and they entered with their guns drawn. And here is the man telling this 72-year-old woman to do it herself. Did he offer to help? Nah, he directs the action,he does not take part in it.

“The highest form of sanctity is to live in hell and not lose hope.This homie clings to his faith and his GED and chooses to march resilient into his future.

What is the delivery system for resilience? In part it’s the loving caring adult who pays attention. It’s the community of unconditional love, representing the very “no matter whatness” of God. They say that an educated inmate will not reoffend. This is not because an education assures that this guy will get hired somewhere. It is because his view is larger and more educated so that he can be rejected at 93 job interviews and still not give up.

He acquired resilience.

Sometime resilience arrives in the moment you discover your own unshakeable goodness. Poet Galway Kinnell writes, “Sometimes its necessary to reteach a thing it’s loveliness.”

And when that happens we begin to foster tenderness for our own human predicament. A spacious and undefended heart finds room for everything you are and carves space for everybody else.”

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos On The Heart

And those of you who call on Mr. Webster and restate that old adage of wrestling a pig in the mud. If you don’t get down in the dirt and grime how are you going to wrestle with your own demons. Cause I can assure you nice manners don't exist when you're fighting for someones soul. All the very best of people know this, that’s why the pope gets on his knees to wash the feet of the poorest and humblest. It is in so doing that we come face to face with our own humanity.

I love this quote from Pablo Casals, the legendary cellist, who was asked why he continued to practice at the age of 90. “Because,” he said, “I think I’m making progress.”

And isn’t that what real life is all about, struggling to be better at whatever it is you do,and whoever you may be. One step at a time up an endless ladder of ones own making.

The New York Times echoed by many papers say that 60 to 70 percent of all violent crimes are being committed by a new front. The action is coming from small gangs of young teenagers with odd and ear catchy names. And we are seeing this in Schenectady. Last week four —yes, four — violent clashes that started at Martin Luther King School and then moved to Jerry Burrell Park- That was number one, on a Friday. On the following Monday same players erupted again in front of Mohawk Ambulance, where all the paramedics and drivers pulled out the folding chairs and sat and watched.

Tuesday night good old Chestnut St., again and then the grand finale — Friday — yes, it is Chestnut St., again, a mob scene fit for Cecil B. DeMille. I called 911 on both days. And one weird comment from an operator was, “When a police car becomes available we will send one over.” “Ma’am, when there are 50 kids fighting in the street I really think you can do a little better. Why not send a spare cop from downtown”? By the time someone finally arrived he had to call for back up. Streets were closed in all directions. Ambulances wailed and the spectacle continued. Same girls, same fight, joined in by one girls sister and her crew out of Brooklyn.

Driving up State St., this week at the corner of Hulett and State we heard one little girl of about 13 say to her three companions, “I’d fight her right now if she came down.”

What is also troubling is the fact that one of these fights started in the halls of King School. Officials knew but there no follow through. And of course there was the fight in the playground. Where does it start? How does it stop? A frightening small story in today’s Gazette spoke of a young girl, who was held down so other girls could beat her up. She was found unconscious later on by a concerned neighbor. Not, however concerned enough to call for help when the pummeling was going on.

Folks, where does this stop, I say it yet again, what can we do, will someone die before we open our eyes and get involved?

Nationwide teen pregnancy rates and abortions are plummeting yet ours are still high. Education is key. Use of condoms and birth control gives kids a handle on what to do. I personally know a 30 year old woman who has had 12 abortions and would not use any prevention. Why? “Birth control pills make you fat,”she says. “Pregnancy makes you fatter,” I responded. “And smoking pot really gives you the munchies.”

Reality check big time. Now she has three children, all of which have behavior issues.

And the one tall lanky girl at QUEST up here with someone she calls mom, came home yesterday to find that her mom had been in a major fist fight with another woman, and had a black eye, and a face full of bruises. Child's dad lives in Manhattan and flat out does not want her. So whats a young girl to do? Freak out, sit in the corner and weep, run out looking for mom, or all of the above. What do I say to her mom when she comes looking for her. “Oh hi, interesting eye you have there. Did you walk into a door?”

On Wednesday I received the James Stamper award, and I quote to you what is on our plaque.

“In recognition of many dedicated years of caring service to provide a safe environment for the physical, mental and social growth of our less fortunate youth.”

Not just standard blah-blah language but personal and caring comments which really make me feel special. I brought two Kings with me, and brother were they nervous, they came decked out in combination of Ghetto Glitz and mainstream business attire, and they looked wonderful. And they are so well spoken and articulate they could have given the speech instead of me. Elegant and always watching over me I feel sometimes too well protected, but it’s OK. I also feel cherished.

And then on Thursday I found out that I had been nominated for a Schenectady County Human Rights Award. Wow, double wow, two in one week. Did anyone ever think that stubborn Judy would get a county award? I never dared to think that I am excited though and like a little kid I am trumpeting the news everywhere.

And before I forget the Kings and Queens of this fair town did the S.I.C.M. crop walk on Sunday, and on the back of their crop walk T-shirts emblazoned in black magic marker was the word QUEST. They represent, they really do.

Don’t forget our June 14 gathering at QUEST. It is still in a progress but it is shaping up, latest addition is Mohawk Ambulance, and D.O.H. a table full of information of all kinds from the latter, and admission to the inner sanctum from the former. We actually have a tattoo artist doing the face painting, now where else could you get that kind of service. And a bounce house. You couldn’t have a party without a bounce house. And kids crafts and art work for sale. Maybe some of your children would like to donate some of their treasures and work the table.

And then there was my Sean Ashby evening in Laura’s living room. Yes, for real-the third annual Laurapalooza, dinner also included. My perks make my job even more outstanding. The company was, intelligent, hungry and rocking! The music was by turns intimate, and rocking the house down. And Laura and Trey-thank-you so much for having me. What board members you are.

I know it’s really Spring when my dog finally eats grass and proceeds to puke, usually on a Turkish rug. It’s always bright yellow with shiny green blades of grass providing color contrast.

Green and yellow, could be the colors of Spring. New tended green shoots of grass and leaves on trees. And the yellow daffodils, so glorious and the ever present dandelions and later on buttercups. I embrace it all.

I celebrated this month, and the month of April. I had not been able to walk my new dog Wilber since we got him. I frankly had not really been able to walk. And I was too stubborn and stupid to get the operation I needed. So my muscles atrophied and even after my surgery I had a long way to gain any kind of mobility. My hip replacement is metal and ceramic so I was always afraid of falling and breaking something. And I was very weak. Well I decided to bite the bullet and at the end of April I walked the dog. I put on his harness and then I put on my earth shoes, I re-found my cane and he and I left through the front door. Slowly, very slowly with Willie dancing at the end of his leash. His joy at having me along was just shimmering, he glowed like a candle. And me, I shivered, I quaked, “fear and trembling.” But it was alright except when he saw the bunny, but I handled it, I brought it off and I brought him home.

And I did it again, and once more, and now I, do it every night. And the sunsets I’ve seen, and the moon floating from behind the clouds, and the clouds themselves, and the stars in vernal glory. And everyday I felt stronger, and I reveled in it and I bragged about it. And the connection between Wilbur and I was the best of the best. The companionship and love between the lame older woman, and the rescued and abused dog, ahhh what I learned about stillness and peace. Maybe one day I’ll write a book.


Ding Dong the house is gone.

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