This is how my Monday has been shaping up.
How about yours?
“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.
An assignment from Jane. (As if you need another thing on your plate.)
But trust me on this one – this will be fun AND it will put a smile on someone’s face. And you get to pick which face.
I have an assignment for you. (Once a teacher, always a teacher.)
Sometime today, or in the next few days, I want you to sit down and send someone, anyone, a piece of snail mail. It can be a thank you note long overdue, a funny card, a newspaper clipping (does anyone read the hard copy of a newspaper anymore?), or just a quick note.
We have email in-boxes filled to the gills. It’s such a convenient and easy way to stay in touch. But think about how nice it is to open your mailbox — the real one, outside your front door — and see amongst the bills and junk mail, a handwritten envelope addressed to you. You scan the return address, you smile when you see who sent it. You race inside and toss the other junk aside. You feel the card in your hands and quickly open it. You giggle at the sentiment inside. You feel warm inside, knowing that someone took the time (all of 5 minutes but it feels like 30) to single you out and send you some sunshine.
It does a heart good.
(No snails were harmed in the crafting of this post and the author has no financial ties to the United States Postal Service.)
I was walking out of a local department store that had a double set of doors. An older woman, who been behind me in the checkout line, was following me out. We had exchanged pleasantries while in line – just things about the weather – light, typical stranger conversation. Just as I was opening the first set of doors I noticed her behind me. Of course, I held the door for her. And because they were a bit heavy, I jumped ahead of her to open the second set.
She said, “May you be very blessed, love.”
I smiled. I thanked her. And I noticed I felt all warm and fuzzy inside.
Repeating that line in my head as I walked to the car, I remembered another time someone had used the term blessed. A time that didn’t feel so very warm and fuzzy.
We were at my son’s classroom having a potluck holiday lunch. Parents and children sat around makeshift dining tables eating macaroni and cheese, broccoli salad and nibbling on cookies with sprinkles. Conversation was light and happy.
Until one parent turned to another parent and said, “We drove by your subdivision the other day. The damage is just shocking! Was your house spared? We were so worried about you!”
Weeks before, tornadoes ripped through our county. No deaths were reported but there was massive property damage.
The other parent began to relay her story. About homes torn down to the foundation. Cars lifted. Trees overturned. But her house? Not a scratch. In fact, the toys her children had left in the yard were in exactly the same place they had left them. As if the storm hadn’t even come so close to their home.
“We were very blessed,” she said with a satisfied smile. And the look on her face seemed to me of smug satisfaction.
My jaw dropped. My eyes widened. And then, I know, my expression revealed cynicism and a critical glare. (I have no poker face. A fatal character flaw.)
Quickly, I tried to recover. I didn’t say a word and then quietly excused myself to search for another cookie, another cup of tea, another conversation.
We were very blessed?
And what? The other families were cursed? What did they do to deserve such punishment? Why are you so special to remain unscathed?
How can one word fill me with the warm fuzzies one minute and disgust the next?
I suppose I’m more of a The-Lord-Works-In-Mysterious Ways kind of girl. I prefer to focus on the lessons learned and the kindness received in any tragic event. But to explain away why some are spared and some are not? Not in my job description. I’ll leave that to the big guy upstairs.
Or, to the smug and self-satisfied.
Are you confused? Well, now you know how I feel.
Seriously. I’m a nice kid. I try always to play nicely. I try to be fair. I try to be kind, even when I disagree with you. But there are some comments on my blog that I just don’t get and I’m not sure how to handle.
WordPress has a nifty little feature where if you haven’t commented on my blog before I get to approve of your first comment. You don’t know how many times I struggle with “approving” someone or not. First of all, as judgemental as I try not to be (Quit rolling your eyes – I said I try not to be. I didn’t say I never judge.), approving someone’s comment feels….well…..judgemental.
What to do? What to do?
a) There are the comments that obviously, obviously, so very, very, obviously come from someone who barely skimmed my post. They read the title, assumed what it was about and left a vague, not even helpful comment. You know what they say about ass-u-me?
b) There are the comments by people who obviously read what I wrote but write such a flaming, almost nasty retort I’m afraid they might hunt me down and kill me in my sleep if I don’t press “approve.”
c) There are the comments that feel like spam, read like spam, walk and talk like spam. But when I visit the blog they came from? Not spam. Real live blogs, written by real live people that…well, write like spam.
So, I’m curious. How do you handle questionable comments?
(Oops. There I go again. Asking questions that (hopefully? fingers crossed?) invite lots and lots of comments.
That’s what I am.
And proud of it!)
(Many of you have asked me how it is I attract so many comments. Seriously? How long have you been reading my blog? I garner about half the comments most of you do. So, before you read the below tip sheet, I have to qualify. This post is tongue-in-cheek. It truly is. I know that many of you employ some of these tips with sincerity and passion. (How do you think I came up with this tip sheet?) And I’m jealous of you. Honestly, I am. This post is merely poking fun at myself and my own lack of passion/energy/discipline at honoring the comments that do come my way. For all of you who have been slighted by me in that regard, please know I am deeply sorry and acutely aware of my inadequacies. Now, on to the post….)
How To Increase Your Comments – Jane Style
10. Write all the comments yourself. As many as you like. Until your fingers bleed.
9. Comment after everyone else’s comment. Even if all they say is, “Great post!”
8. Let the spam through. After all, the spam was nice enough to spam you in the first place.
7. Beg and plead for comments. Ask oodles and oodles of questions for your readers to respond to. Even if the questions have absolutely nothing to do with your post.
6. Pray that God and all the angels will bring more comments to your blog.
5. Scream at the lurkers and guilt them into acknowledging their presence.
4. Promise prizes for comments.
3. Become a comment whore and indiscriminately leave comments on any blog you can find. Even if all the time you can spare is to say, “Great post!”
2. Make it easy for your readers to comment. Skip log-ins, CAPTCHA codes, registration forms and the required first-born son.
And the number one way to increase your comments?
Sorry. I couldn’t come up with the number one answer. Yes. I am THAT comment-challenged.
Can you help? (Hey! I just employed tip #7! See? I’m learning!)
(All “Great post!” comments will not be deleted. So if that’s all you have to say? By all means, I’ll take it!)
I’ve been snowed in. Trapped in my own home. We’ve baked. We’ve cleaned. We’ve played xBox and board games. The boys have comandeered the computer. There’s a half-finished 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle on the kitchen table. Laundry has been washed twice.
What to do….what to do?
Has anyone seen Toddlers and Tiaras? Another train wreck of a television show. I got involved and couldn’t look away. I can’t say I’ll ever watch it again. This episode had me catching flies. My boys came downstairs and saw my facial expression and said, “Mommy?!? What’s wrong?”
“Go!” I said firmly, “This show isn’t appropriate for……..well, anyone.”
Prancing around little girls. Waxing a 7 year-olds eyebrows while she screams and cries for them to stop. Spray tanning, mascara, lip gloss and debating fake nails for a 15 month old. Yes, you read right. 15 months old.
I burst out laughing when little Sami Jo’s mother said, with a serious-as-a-heart-attack-expression on her face, “I just don’t know HOW she’s going to react if she doesn’t win her division!”
How she’s going to react? Are you kidding me? She’s 15 months old. Your daughter “uses three words regularly, walks backwards, scribbles with a crayon and has adopted “no” as her favorite word.” She can’t spell the word pageant, let alone say it. She doesn’t know she’s in a pageant. She doesn’t know what a pageant is. And she certainly doesn’t know what it means to win or lose a pageant.
Your daughter? Adorable.
Toddlers & Tiaras? Crazy.
The moms that put their daughters through the pageant paces?
(I’ve already been smacked down by Monday’s post. You’re welcome to fill in this blank.)
I live in the south. The southern United States. Georgia, to be exact.
I grew up in the north. North midwest. That would be in Michigan.
I grew up with snow. We put on snow tires every year. My parents taught me how to drive in icy and snowy conditions. I was used to it.
Way back then.
We people of the south are not used to driving in ice and snow. When I first moved here 26 years ago the entire state had only 3 snow removal trucks. We (and I mean we in every sense of the word) aren’t comfortable driving in ice and snow. So, when we hear of The-Storm-of-the-Century-of-the-Week we hunker down. Stay in. But not without first running to the grocery store.
Honest. This is a photo (which explains the quality) I took with my cell phone. (But luddite that I am, my daughter had to help me get it from my phone to you all.) You’d think the meteorologists were predicting the apocalypse and not an ice/snow storm.
Another thing I don’t get?
Crazies. In Arizona. Shooting government officials because their words don’t make sense. Some nut (who doesn’t deserve the notoriety so I’m not mentioning his name) asked Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, “What is government if words have no meaning?” She had no response.
So, he shot her.
And 20 other people.
Now six people are dead and 14 are wounded.
Even more than that, I don’t understand the parents of the 9-year-old who was killed. (This is about to get judgemental, so I’m apologizing in advance)
I’m going to chalk up their decision to speak with a reporter from Dateline, less than 48 hours from when their child died, as a poor lapse of judgement due to shock. They were speaking so calmly, so candidly, I thought they were speaking of an event that happened a year ago. But then Brian Williams kept saying “The events from yesterday” or “Yesterday’s shooting” and I was confused.
I admit, I was only watching because I was following the school closings ticker at the bottom of the screen. I hadn’t seen the news because I didn’t sign on to the computer or turn on the television once this whole weekend. (Did I mention I’m a bit of a luddite?) I couldn’t believe the parents of the murdered child were on television instead of grieving or comforting their son or (horror of all horrors for any parent) planning a funeral for their child. I just got the icky feeling (from the mom, anyway) that this was a bit of “15 minutes of fame” and it creeped me out. In a big way.
Some days, human nature has me stymied.
And this is one of those days.