Category Archives: People

I Can’t Help It. I Just Have To Ask.

I told myself I wouldn’t give this subject any more airplay than it’s already received.

But I can’t help myself.

I’m confused about three things.

1. How could the jury find Casey Anthony guilty of lying to the police about the circumstances surrounding her missing child but NOT find her guilty of neglect? (On the count of neglect they found her not guilty. My jaw dropped. Wide open. I even caught a few flies.)

2. How could one juror say that they were just sick about not being able to find her guilty of murder but another (alternate) juror say he believes that Casey Anthony was a good mother?

3. How one look at that smug face of Casey Anthony at many times throughout the trial doesn’t convince anyone that she’s a nut case?

I couldn’t help it. I just had to ask.

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Filed under Because I'm Curious, Moms, Motherhood, Observations, People

Jane Goes Undercover. It’s Going To Be An Interesting Summer.

 

A little background, if I may: I began swimming competitively when I was about 9 years old. Apparently, I had a little talent in the sport. I made it to national meets by the time I was 13. I loved swimming. I was one of the weird ones who didn’t mind getting up at 5am to swim before school. I enjoyed being the first one to practice. I was one of those year-round crazies that swam 2-4 hours a day, 10,000 yards a practice, 50 weeks out of the year.

In college, I received a music scholarship and had to choose between swimming and music. It was a Big Ten University with a stellar swimming program. I made the team but not with any financial help. Since music was paying for some of my schooling, music won. But I had been coaching summer league swimming since I was 17 and found a part-time job as an assistant coach in a year round age group program in college. I could enjoy both of my loves. I was set. I coached for 12 years.

When my children came along I always steered them toward another sport. I knew how pushy/obnoxious/ignorant swimming parents could be. (Little did I know, they’d be the same way in every other sport) I didn’t want to become one of those parents. My youngest son wasn’t buying it. He begged and pleaded and practically went on strike until we’d let him swim. He started his first team experience a week ago.

Parents are required to volunteer at three meets per season. Because we started late, there weren’t many volunteer slots left to choose from. Except for Stroke and Turn Judge, which requires a training class. I attended the training class yesterday afternoon.

What an experience.

Background information #2: I’ve decided not to advertise my background in the sport. Many parents involved in swimming, if they haven’t competed themselves, think that because they’ve watched the Olympics a few times and can pick out Michael Phelps in a line up, they are experts at swimming. I’m a people watcher – a people observer. In short, I’m looking forward to seeing some of these “experts” in action.

“For those of us who arrived 4 minutes early, what did we miss?” asks a woman from the back, obviously annoyed that the instructor has started on time. Yes. He started on time. I know, because I’m a stickler for punctuality when it involves missing time from my family. I secretly shake my head and decide that those who choose any kind of officiating role must be control freaks.

The instructor is trying to find out what kind of experience we have in the sport.

“Raise your hand if you’ve officiated before and this is just a refresher course,” he asks.

Of course, my hand is down.

“Raise your hand if this is your first time taking the course.”

I raise my hand.

Because he thinks he knows the answer, he grins and says, “Keep your hand up if this is your child’s first season swimming.”

I’m the only one with my hand up.

He looks at me with wide eyes. “Your child has never swam before?”

“No sir,” I reply.

He shakes his head. “Then sharpen your pencil. You’ve got a lot to take in.”

I certainly do, I think, smiling inside.

About half way into the session, a woman asks, “Is this going to run much longer? My daughter has her last soccer game today.” We’ve only covered two strokes. We still have two more and relays and IMs to cover.

“You’ll need to sign up for another course,” the instructor replies, “You can’t be certified if you only complete half.”

“But my dad was an official at the Pam Am games,” she answers.

“Is he going to come with you to every meet?” asks the instructor.

She pouts and stays to finish the class.

We work in groups, analyzing different infractions. One of my group-mates boasts that he swam in high school and was never DQ’d (disqualified) so this is going to be a piece of cake for him.  And I think, yeah. That’s because you swam four months out of every year and probably only swam the freestyle. If you haven’t been DQ’d, you haven’t been swimming very long.

As we turned in our tests and they were graded in front of us, the instructor – obviously impressed with my score – said, “You must have been an excellent student in school.”

I smiled and nodded, afraid to open my mouth and betray my true experience.

Ahhhh, yes.

This is going to be an interesting season.

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Filed under All In A Day's Work, Observations, People

Imagine A History Teacher Making History

“Imagine a history teacher making history.” — Christa McAuliffe

January 28th marks a day when I can remember exactly where I was in 1986.

I was a college student, studying to be a teacher. I was at my apartment, between classes, warming up leftovers for lunch. I was standing in front of the television with a bowl and fork in my hand. I was watching history.

Today’s historic event had special meaning for me. I was studying to be a teacher and a teacher, Christa McAuliffe, the first ever ordinary citizen, would accompany astronauts into space. I also knew one of the finalists. My former government and American History teacher had vied for her very spot. My parents sent me newspaper clippings of his interviews. It was big news in our hometown.

I was in awe of Christa McAuliffe. I knew she was doing something I would never be brave enough to do. Scary. Reckless. Inspiring. Whatever you want to call it, I am grateful for the people who are not as chicken as I am. People who dare to explore and expand horizons and conquer the unknown.

I remember leaving church in the middle of mass when I was a young girl. My mother was crying and my father ushered us out quickly. Later, my mom explained that she was very upset about how the priest was criticizing the US government spending on the space program. It was a popular hot topic in the press. We’d already been to the moon. What was the point with continuing?

But it was new technology in the space program and discoveries in space that trickled down to the medical community. My mom’s father, my grandfather, had a rare nervous disorder. When my mother was a teenager, doctors gave my grandfather only months to live. He defied the odds thanks to modern medical technology. Science from the space program, developed for astronauts, had kept my grandfather alive so that his granddaughter was able to meet him, know him and develop a relationship with him. He, with the combined help of space technology and modern medicine, lived 21 years past his 6 month death sentence.

Today, I will be taking a moment of silence to honor those braver than I.

To honor the pioneers, the explorers, the inventors.

To honor those willing to take great risks so that others may gain greater understanding and knowledge.

To honor history teachers making history.

The Challenger Crew - January 28, 1986

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Filed under Observations, People

Dear Lady At Kohl’s

Dear Lady-at-Kohl’s-with-your-19-items-one-of-which-needed-a-price-check,

You can’t say you didn’t see me coming. We made eye contact. Just after I said to my boys, “Come on boys. Let’s get going.”

You see, they’re little boys. And they dawdle. And daydream. But we had to get going. This was an unscheduled stop in our on-the-way-home-from-school routine. #1son’s shoes ripped at the seams during school and needed to be replaced. We came in for a pair of shoes. We ended up with two pairs, one for each boy. They wanted to hold the boxes themselves. Apparently, walking and holding a box was slowing them down.

You had been browsing in the women’s section. When you heard me, our eyes locked. And then you looked at the registers and noticed there was no line. So you shoved your cart out into the aisle and elbowed (yes, elbowed) my son, my seven-year-old son, out of your way. And then you proceeded to race us to the cashier.

You won. With your nineteen items and my two. I glared at you, trying to stare a hole in the back of your head. Wishing evil things. Things I can’t share here because my readers think I am oh-so-kind. But I’m not. Not when an almost elderly woman, with a wedding band, who has surely had children, nearly mows down my child and pushes past me in order to beat us to the line.

So we waited behind you, quite patiently. And then it happened. Item number 12 needed a price check. “I’ll wait,” you said oh-so-sweetly. So we all waited. Me. My boys. And the 4 people now behind us.

Finally, another cashier opened. She said a few times, “I’ll take the next in line.” Which was me. But with 4 more people behind us, I knew someone else would jump ahead of me. But the lady insisted. And so did the lady directly behind me. So we, me and my boys, step out of line and who should appear? Another (insert expletive) jerk who was in more of a hurry than I was, apparently.

The kind, sweet soul who was behind us in the first line graciously called me over to my original spot. She shook her head and commiserated with me. You see, she noticed not only Mr. Jerk, but you, too. I said, “Some days are like this.” “But they shouldn’t be,” was her reply.

You left. Finally. And we paid for our measly two items. And walked out of the store. Me and my dawdling two boys. You were parked right next to me. You were preparing to drive away. But you saw us coming. Protectively, I put out my hands to stop my boys from walking. If your driving was anything like your shopping cart maneuvers, we were in trouble.

But you waved us ahead. I stood firm. You kept waving. Finally, I allowed us to cautiously, so very cautiously, step in front of your car. And safely pass in front of you to our own vehicle.

After all.

It was the least you could do.

(Ok. I feel better now.)

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Filed under All In A Day's Work, Observations, People

To All The Karma Chameleons In Our Lives: May You Stay Far, Far Away

“Is there loving in your eyes all the way.
If I listened to your lies would you say” –  You know the type. They say one thing. Do another. I’ve had people in my life – friends, family, acquaintances – who seem so sincere. And I believe them. And then my heart is stomped.

“Didn’t hear your wicked words every day
and you used to be so sweet” – The lesson that is so, so difficult to learn is how to recognize these karma chameleons, these psychic vampires, and stay far, far away. I am horrible at this. I don’t recognize them. I give them every benefit of the doubt. Everyone else seems to see through them but me.

“You string along, you string along” – There’s that saying “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I get fooled twice, thrice and….well, four times quite a bit. And then some. It’s frustrating. It’s maddening. But it’s all on me. It’s a part of me I love – seeing the good and not the bad. Giving the second and third chances. Starting anew with someone that’s just a little misunderstood. But it’s a part of me I hate. Getting my heart trounced on. Being made the fool over and over again.

“Every day is like survival” – That was my childhood. Finding ways to survive. Finding ways to cope and thrive in a dysfunctional relationship with my mother. What thrills me is that I escaped, relatively unscathed. What frustrates me is that there are people in my life that remind me I haven’t quite learned the lesson.

“Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon,
you come and go, you come and go.” – I’m not a vengeful person but I do hope that karma bites these chameleons in the butt some time. Hoping they learn the lesson they’re supposed to learn.

“Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon,
you come and go, you come and go.
Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dreams,
red gold and green, red gold and green.” – I will still give people the benefit of the doubt. I will still be fooled. I’m working on noticing it sooner. And I’m trying to find the balance between recognizing the chameleons but maintaining my sunny, optimistic view.  I don’t want to be hardened. I don’t want to be cynical. I am teetering between the two sides, desperately not wanting to fall.

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Filed under How We Roll, Music, People

Please Say That Tyler’s Story Will Change Just One Heart

Yesterday, I posted the faces of Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei in my anger. Angry at them for their callous disregard of our right to privacy. I wanted everyone to see who pushed Tyler Clementi over the edge. I want their faces to be known so that they can’t “just move” to avoid recognition.

Yesterday, I was angry.

Today, I am sad. So very, very sad that a beautiful human being has left this earth. A violinist. A student. A friend. A son.

I want to tell his parents how very, very sorry I am that they lost their son so tragically. I want to tell them I can’t imagine the pain and loss they are suffering. I want to tell them to “just breathe.”

Maybe it’s because of the losses I have endured these past few weeks. Maybe it’s because I lost a dear high school friend to suicide during our first month of college. Maybe I am hoping upon hope that Tyler’s death will be a wake-up call to every amateur videographer out there.

Just maybe.

“Yes, I understand that every life must end, aw-huh,..
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go” – But this was much too soon. And I ache knowing that Tyler felt so desperate, so alone, that he felt his only choice was suicide. And I can only imagine the pain and heartache those close to him (most of all, his parents) are feeling. Such guilt for not helping. Unneccessary guilt, unfounded guilt. But guilt, nonetheless.

“Oh I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands
the ones I love,..
Some folks just have one,
yeah, others, they’ve got none” – I am so blessed to have an amazing support system. And Tyler’s death reminds me of those out there who have precious few in their lives to turn to. I wish my arms were long enough to reach them all.

“Let’s just breathe” – We can only do what we can do. We can love our children with all our might. We can remember those in times of need. We can cling to our spouses, lovers or friends. But some days it’s all we can do to just breathe.

I chose to write about this again today because many of you commented that you were unaware of Tyler’s story. Tyler Clementi deserves more press, more than Ravi and Wei, that is. His is the spirit that was shattered. His is the life that was ended.

Nothing can bring Tyler back. But maybe his story will reach through the internet and touch hearts. Maybe it will turn hearts and change just one soul out there, encouraging kindness, compassion and most of all, privacy.

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Filed under Be-Causes, Music, People, Relating

Pay It Forward, Random Act of Kindness – Whatever You Call It, Let’s Do IT!

(We’re taking a last minute hurrah before our summer ends. Yes, our children go back to school on August 10th! I will be without a computer for 5 whole days. For the next few posts, I’ll share with you some of my favorites. The post below is a great reminder and was originally posted on December 18. I will miss you all! See you when I get back!)

By now I’m sure you’ve heard of the Philly couple that bought a stranger’s meal at a diner and for 5 hours customers continued to pay it forward. It reminded me that I hadn’t bought someone’s coffee in a while now.

About once every two months or so (I wish it were more often but quite honestly I don’t always think of it) I pay for the order of the person behind me in the drive-through or pay the toll for the car behind me when we go to “the big city” (as my daughter likes to call it.) Suddenly, this morning I remembered that it had been awhile so when I got my coffee this morning I paid for the car behind me, as well. Her bill was only $3.18. Hmmmm, I gave the cashier a $20. I looked in my rear view mirror and there were no more cars to pay for. So, $3.18 for my good deed of the day felt a little lack luster. I suppose I was expecting a little more grand gesture – not that I’m made of money, mind you, but I’m a few months behind in my good deeds. I was atoning for my neglect.

When I make these gestures I rarely look back to see the reaction. I hope to make a quick get-away, quite frankly. But this time? No such luck. I was stopped by two traffic lights in a row and she caught up with me by the second light. She rolled down her window. She searched my face for some recognition. She found none. “Thank you for this,” she said, “You don’t know what this means to me. I’m on my way to an interview. I lost my job a month ago and I HAVE to find work. I’d given these up,” and she raised her cup, “but I decided to splurge today for a little boost of confidence. Your kindness has done so much more.”

I could see that her eyes were brimming and she was fighting back tears. I was stunned into silence. I never said a word to her, just listened. The light turned green and she smiled and drove away. $3.18. Here I was feeling guilty I had only payed it forward with 3 dollars and 18 cents. But that $3.18 provided a much-needed boost for a woman in a desperate situation – looking for work just before Christmas. It meant more to her than I ever imagined it would.

So this weekend I want you to do me a favor. Pay it forward with someone else. Whatever you can afford. If it’s a meal, a cup of coffee, a bus token…for a stranger. Someone you never expect to see again. Then come back here to this post and comment about what you’ve done. Or post about it on your blog- but be sure to come back here to link to it so we can all read about what you’ve done.

Random acts of kindness spread joy like wildfire. I think they have more power than negativity. Together we can make the world a little happier this weekend with our small gestures. (Borrowing from Bender in The Breakfast Club) If he does it, then we’ll all do it and it’ll be anarchy! Let’s start our own little version of anarchy! Are you with me?

 

Don’t forget! Write your post about blogging to help me celebrate my one year in Blog World. We’ll all meet back here in 7 days (August 13) to link, learn and maybe have a few laughs!

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Filed under All In A Day's Work, Be-Causes, People, RAOK