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Raw Candor
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Birthday Mathematics

Jill Slaughter on the right with her two sisters.

My birthday was always awful. There are two years between me and my older sister, but our actual birthdays are just a few days apart. Our mom made us share a cake and I hated that. My sister tells me that while I felt anger, she felt invisible. My birthday is first, so the inscription always read Jill AND Susan. Some years my mom would throw in my dad’s name because his birthday is a few days before hers and then she would have to check to see if she still had a pulse.

All Eyes

All Eyes

Jill in the 1st grade in Brooklyn New York at PS 206

Jill in the 1st grade

Having a birthday during the summer deprived me of girly grade school ceremonies. My female classmates got to wear corsages with ribbons (mostly pink) attached to jangling dog biscuits which were pinned to their shirts. They got to hand out candy and have the class sing happy birthday to them. Knowing that I would never have that experience I wasn’t simply envious, I was crushed. I didn’t tell my mother. We weren’t the pink ribbon, jangling dog biscuit, corsage wearing type of family. So from year to year this painful experience repeated.

On the first day of July I would begin my countdown. Only twenty-nine days to my birthday. Never really sure what I wanted or would wish for, it never seemed to matter. The non-Jewish kids in my neighborhood got stereos and albums, fashionable clothes or maybe something they saw in a teen magazine. I got socks. But I still maintained that countdown, always hopeful that I might get that thing, whatever that thing might be. It wasn’t that my parents weren’t generous; they just didn’t pay much attention to our birthdays. I have three siblings.

Jill Slaughter-age 13-Brooklyn New York

Jill – age 13

Days would go by, only twenty-eight days left, twenty-seven, twenty-six… and when it got to the eleventh day I would have to start using my fingers to count. I was terrible at math. So awful in fact I repeated algebra three times and wound up in my younger sister’s class, and fell into the abyss of not knowing how to count in sequence. The days rolled by and finally I was able to pick it up again on the twenty-sixth day. Only four days left to my birthday, three, two, one and then MY birthday, our cake. My birthday was always awful.

And This Is What I Know:– 20 tips for your kids to get along. – Samples come on a tasting plate of three different types. – For corsage that will change your life.

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The Graphics Were Pretty, But I Was Still Hungry

A potato on a stick. Fakebelieve crab sushi, vanilla ice cream with gummi bears and colored sprinkles was the dinner my fifteen year old niece enjoyed as we slowly walked from truck to truck. She washed it all down with a bananna strawberry smoothie and checked out the boys.

I bought a bottle of water and admired the expertly applied graphics. Color and design were each battling to declare their culinary specialty. My sister bought something, but knew I wouldn’t eat anything from a truck.

On the way home we stopped at a 24 hour drug store, I bought brownish, pinkish quick dry nail polish and a small bag of potato chips which I finished before I walked up the four flights of stairs to my apartment.

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Just Do It

The computer help analyst at my job knows my weaknesses and bolsters my strengths. We almost never meet in person, but speak often. She connects remotely to my desktop, and does this often as my valued and trusted troubleshooter. She knows things about me. She knows the way I think, and has come to respect my aesthetic, but still wonders why we discuss aesthetics at all. It’s IT.

We finesse the templates we create for my division simply because I want them to look a very particular way. Her observations about my purposeful way of doing things can seem insulting, but we have formed a relationship that works. I ask about her family, she doesn’t ask me anything. But I tell her things about myself none the less.

I am font specific. She couldn’t care less. The template looked just the way I wanted it to, except the font would default to Times New Roman. She told me that’s our default font. NO,  that won’t work. You know she said “you are probably the only person on the planet that cares about a font.” We both laughed. And then I said “you know when I meet a guy I don’t ask him what he does for a living or where he’s from, I ask him what his favorite font is.” I laughed. Stone cold and glib she said “and that Jill is why you are alone.” We laughed. She doesn’t work on Fridays, and we are both off for the fourth of July on Monday. We each told the other to enjoy the long weekend. She will be cleaning out her garage. I will be working on Raw Candor. We’ll talk again on Tuesday. I love her.

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Faces of the Arts Broward County

Share YOUR story ..of how the arts and culture in Broward has had an impact on your life, or the life of someone you know, and win 4 tickets to an arts event! Faces of the Arts logo
Several months ago I wrote a piece based on the above prompt. I WON. I am now one of the Faces of the Arts Broward County. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts will host an awards ceremony on the evening of July 20th. Tickets are available through the box office, 954.462.0222 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            954.462.0222      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Please support the arts in Broward County. Eight other winners and me, come see us. Read my winning entry below.

Faces of the Arts in Broward County

August will mark the fourteenth anniversary of my divorce. Officially marking the same length of time my former spouse and I were married.  The marriage provided a sanctuary of material comforts. When it ended so to did the luxuries I had grown accustomed to.
Downsizing would not begin to accurately reflect my change in circumstance. No more alphabetically stocked pantry, no color coded linen closet, no household help, no house, and certainly no place to paint anymore.
One year ago after applying, I was awarded a space at Studio 18. Then a newly opened, newly renovated studio and gallery space for emerging and mid-career artists in Pembroke Pines. While my divorce caused me to let go of many cherished possessions what my ex-husband could not take was my talent.
And while I continue to live in a tiny apartment my vision has expanded because of my cherished studio which affords me the space to create work as a painter and belong to a community of like-minded colleagues.

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Mom – In the House

At 8:30 this morning my daughter Jill called and asked if I would write a few words for her blog.

“You were there when I started Mom – your candor is part of me; by the way I need it today”.

My beautiful, bright funny daughter is an artist. She is filled with passion and enthusiasm; will use three long words instead of one short one; will tell you your outfit is great, but, a scarf and different shoes would make it perfect! She’ll tell you that carrots and lettuce are really better for you than the cheese cake and halvah you are buying.

Jill will try to push you to a higher level. Things you thought you could never do you suddenly find yourself trying. At first you’re annoyed at yourself for allowing this persistent person to talk you into something new and different, but as you work on it, you are suddenly smiling, suddenly feeling so much better about what you are accomplishing.

I don’t have Jill’s artistic talent or her vocabulary. Did she get her candor from me? Well, I suppose so, but it’s really for your own good!

My dear daughter, I’m very proud of you and love you very much.


Mom with baby Jill

Mom with teenage Jill

Mom and Jill now

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