Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lord have mercy on my Italian/German/Scottish hips

One of my favorite people in the entire world is getting married in December. She was a student at the college where I work, she became a member of my staff as a student and then again once she saw that being a financial aid administrator was like, totally awesomely cool and so what if that sentence is totally NOT cool. Through the past couple of years we have both been through some big stuff and been there to support each other. She reads this blog and knows I think she rocks. You really do...

So she asked me to be in her wedding. Of course I said yes. She is also a fabulous seamstress, and has made two dresses for me in the past, including the one I wore in my wedding to Bob. She is making all of the dresses for her wedding. Based on the sketches they will be these beautiful 1940s style dresses, in a gorgeous champagne colored silk. She finished assembling the dresses recently, and sent this email message yesterday:


The dresses are all together and hanging in my sewing room...and they are HOT. I have a few statements to make about the nature of these dresses. First I apologize in advance because this fabric is NOT forgiving (blame the shady dude in Phila who wouldn't send me my original fabric which was heavier). If you have bumps or lumps that you don't like you may want to consider some sort of undergarment support. Whatever you do wear must be NUDE and it must be "seamless".

IF I have lumps and bumps? IF??? As I said to her, that is ALL I have. Hellooooo, I am 45 years old, and had a kid after I turned 40. A phrase a person never wants to hear about a dress that they will have to wear for hours, in front of other people, is "not forgiving." And I would like to point out that other than one other woman in the wedding party, they are all under 30 and SKINNY. I am not exaggerating. I have been shopping with the bride, she is officially a size zero. The others are not much larger. Even at only 5'4" feet tall, I am taller than most of the other women, with one exception, and while she is tall, she is super thin.

This means serious work MUST be done in the next 60 days to tighten up and lose a minimum of another 10lbs and acquire some serious spandex. I have never purchased Spanx before, but I suspect it is about to become my new best friend. Nude, seamless supportive, smoothing and reducing best friend. Treadmill, don't fail me now.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

How did you spend your Sunday morning?

Well, we have had a BUSY morning so far, and the day isn't even half over.

We got up and went to breakfast at Mel's this morning. This place is great because they are kid friendly, serve you at the speed of sound and costs almost nothing. Thanks to the proceeds from yesterday's yard sale ($65 in total and I only spent $1!) we decided to splurge on breakfast. Cooper was mostly good, and even ate yogurt that was not peach flavored. He is VERY specific about his yogurt, so it was a gamble. I ate a breakfast burrito, which I have never had before. Really, I never have. But it was DELISH. Egg, sausage, hashbrowns all rolled together on a tortilla and with a little spicy sauce. I might have to try this at home.

Then once home again, we proceeded to do the following: read every book about animals in the house, watch the movie Dinosaurs all the way through, have a marching band parade through the house - Cooper was on the drum, I was on all the other rhythm instruments, have a dance party to the Bee Gees and The Beach Boys and then go to the grocery store for eggs and flour so we could bake some zucchini bread and pumpkin bread.

PHEW. Now Cooper is down for a nap and I may be right behind him. It is a gloriously rainy day, perfect for baking and napping. Bob is off trying to sell a condo no one seems interested in although the location is great and it is in great condition.

This could be because of the change in the weather, since it has decided to be fall here in New England, the leaves are turning and there is a cool crispness in the air, but I have this odd feeling that there is something on the horizon. A change. I have NO IDEA what it is, but it is there, lurking. A good change I hope, if it is really coming.

And is it just me, or is it just WEIRD Tom Delay is on Dancing With the Stars? WEIRD. Dancing to Wild Thing. Lip synching to Wild Thing. It is just wrong.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rather than advertise...

Awhile ago I stopped showing ads on this blog. It was taking up space and not getting me much for the effort. Blogher is great and all, but since no one was clicking through on the ads, I wasn't making any money.

Which is fine. I recently signed up for this other thing though that is kind of cool.

YouData is an interesting site that allows you to get paid to shop. Or browse. You create a user account, fill in a bunch of information and answer questions about yourself, your likes, dislikes, musical tastes, etc, and then they present to you links to participating vendors who match your interests. When you view the vendors' information, you earn money.

It's not a lot of money, you won't be using this to go on that Tahitian vacation you have been dreaming about, but over time it can add up. So far, in the short time I have been doing it, I have earned $3. More than I earned in six months of hosting ads on my blog. Which was $0.

If you click on the link I provided, you can set up your account and wheee I will get a little referral bonus. And then once you are set up, you can refer your friends, and so on and so on.

As more people sign up, and more companies join the fold, there will be more opportunities to get paid for shopping and browsing. Which is win win for everyone.

So go, click on the link and and earn some money for that cup of coffee.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thoroughly Random Thursday

Bleeker and the ChubChubs

The other morning Cooper and I were driving to school as usual, and I decided to sing "Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog" because it is a song that is sung by the main character in one of two very short animated films about the ChubChubs saving Christmas sings this song with his little ChubChub friends. Cooper is slightly obsessed with the ChubChubs. Anywho, I was singing along when Cooper decided he would sing back up. Just the ChubChubs do for Bleeker. And it was COOL.

We are participating again in the gigantic yard sale that my neighborhood has once a year on Saturday. I am hoping to divest our house of more clutter.

We have new neighbors. They have contributed to the male under 2 years old population with the addition of their son, Ezra, who is 9 months old and delicious. He is scrumptious. He is even better because he is NOT MINE. I love the babies, and I love giving them back to their parents. Cooper is trying to decide how he feels about me holding another child, and so far he has been pretty okay with it, but you can see him calculating exactly how much love does he think I am bestowing on Ezra vs. him. There is no competition, but it is hard to resist those cheeks and big brown eyes. He is a very chill baby, much like Cooper was, and he just gazes upon people with wisdom beyond his little not even a year old self. He seems to dig me.

Friends of mine who were laid off over the last year because of the lovely economic situation are beginning to find jobs. Hurray for that. Now would someone please send some of that mojo Bob's way? Thanks.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sandwiches, grinders, hoagies, oh my

Do you have a favorite sandwich? And what do you call your favorite? I was born in Connecticut, and for years grew up calling that sandwich on a long bun a grinder. Then we moved to the midwest, where I learned to call it a sub. If you are from Philly, you might call them hoagies. Or heros. Or if you are from the south, you might prefer a po'boy.

In most variations, there is bread. Often a long, crusty roll, or bun. But the key, for me, is the CRUST. I prefer my subsherohoagiegrinder with a nice crusty outside, and a squishy bread on the inside. Then there are the contents. Of course there are millions of permutations. Cold cuts of all varieties, pulled meats, lettuce, shredded or not, veggies like tomato, onion, green pepper, and of course cheese. The cheese options are endless. Provolone, swiss, cheddar, and of course the dreaded American white or orange cheese food product. And lest we forget, condiments. Mayo, oil and vinegar, BBQ sauce, salt, pepper, Italian spices, pickles, and hots. The combinations are infinite.

And everyone has their own favorite. The one that reminds them of a hot summer day at the beach, or family BBQs or tailgating parties in college. I read a LOT of cooking magazines, on the treadmill at 5:30 am which is a bit counter intuitive and slightly masochistic but there you are, and recently there was a review of the many po'boy options to be had in New Orleans. I didn't like NO when I visited, 7 years ago, pre Katrina, but after reading the descriptions of some of these creations, I would go back, just for a sandwich.

My fondest memory of a really good sub is from college. There was a sandwich shop across the street from the college theater, where I spent copious amounts of my free time. As a result I came to try and fall in love with a Number 2. With tomatoes, hold the onion. It was a traditional Italian sub as far as I was concerned. Gigantic in its proportions, I would split one with my roommate Terri. It had two kinds of lunch meat, Genoa salami, and ham (you could add bologna if you wanted, but I didn't), provolone cheese, shredded lettuce, huge slices of tomato, round slices of pickle and if you wanted, onions. I prefered at the time to skip the onions. They stuck with me too much. Then there was oil, vinegar, and a sprinkling of Italian spices, including, salt, pepper and oregano. It was all served on a fabulously crusty on the outside, squishy on the inside bun. It was sublime.

Fast forward to my life being married to the Bob. Bob is from Maine. In Maine, specifically in Lewiston ME, they serve a sandwich which is ubiquitously referred to as an Italian Sandwich. Aside from the name, there is nothing about this sandwich that resembles what I consider the quintessential Italian sub.

First is the bun. According to legend, these buns are produced in Maine and are SPECIAL. They are long, about 15 inches, but they are about the width and consistency of a hot dog bun. There is no fabulous crust, but they are squishy.

Then there is the meat. You generally have two choices: Ham OR salami. I am not sure what would happen if you asked for both.

Cheese. The cheese is always, without fail, American. Yellow or white, but American cheese. I once asked if it was possible to get it with provolone, and I am pretty sure I just avoided getting run out of town as a heretic.

There is a bit of iceburg lettuce, tomato, green pepper, onion, and the best part, long slices of dill pickle.

The final ingredient is the Oil. Bob's mother, Sylvia, swears it is special oil. We bought a bottle from Sam's, one of the umpteen million places you can get an Italian Sandwich in Lewiston. It is cottonseed and olive oil. Nothing particularly secret about it.

That is it. It is not offensive, it just isn't as special as I expected the first time I had one, given the GIGANTIC build up I had received from Bob. It was not transcending. I didn't not hear angels sing. I could not figure out the draw.

But it is, I think, about history. This is HIS sandwich. It is the one he grew up eating. It is his childhood, and every time we are up there, or if his mother is coming to visit, she gets four or five of these for him. And I eat them with him, because it is the thing to do.

I don't even know if the sandwich shop in Beaver Falls is still there. And if it is, I don't know if the Number 2 is still as good. It is possible that it will never be as good as it was, during college, that first experience with being an adult, living independently and eating out with a best friend after rehearsing a play for hours. And no, there was no alcohol involved. I attended a dry campus, and observed that rule for better or worse. But for me, that is a sandwich that lives on in my mind as THE Italian sandwich. Made by Greeks. You can't have everything.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Conversations on civility

The president at our college has decided that he is making it his mission to have civility as the center to ongoing discussions and activities on campus this year. And I am VERY happy about this. The director of student accounts and I have both been working at the college for 9 years now, and for about 8 years we have been trying to get this to happen.

Our offices are often on the receiving end of a good deal of hostile and uncivil behavior. Granted, whenever you involve money in a discussion, it often elevates the anxiety of the participants and that has a negative impact on the conversation.

But it is more than that. People are increasingly comfortable being rude. They are perfectly willing to tell a person who is ostensibly in a position to help them that they are stupid or incompetent, and to swear colorfully at them.

And why shouldn't they think it is okay to behave this way when we have members of Congress yelling "You lie" at the President of the United States during a speech to Congress. Or we see professional athletes threaten to stuff a tennis ball down the throat of a line judge because she didn't like the call. Or we have musicians interrupting an award ceremony during an acceptance speech to yell that someone else, who wasn't even nominated for that award, should have won. When rude, uncivilized behavior is modeled for us on national television by a variety of individuals, we begin to accept that as normal behavior.

Not that this anything new. We have seen professional athletes behave badly for decades. Plenty of politicians have not been known for being the most upstanding people of integrity through any part of our history. And well, musicians? They have been smashing up hotel rooms and misbehaving in public for as long as I can remember.

But that doesn't mean we should be okay with this. We should expect more of ourselves, our children, friends, neighbors and customers. When a parent is particularly rude on the phone, I have had to explain that we won't accept that kind of abuse, and if the parent cannot be civil, we won't be talking to them.

I am looking forward to having this be a point of focus on campus this year, and I hope that the students buy into it. It won't work if they don't.

In the meantime I am going to try in my own life to find a way, on a daily basis I hope, to actively incorporate civility into my attitude toward other people. I think I am a fairly civil person to begin with, but by making a conscious effort, it should become even more a part of my life, and hopefully Bob's and Cooper's.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Virtually a friend?

Recently a blogger I read regularly posted about his frustration with the lack of interaction he was experiencing in the blogosphere and other social networking sites he uses.

I don't know that I am someone to whom the comments were directed, but I do have thoughts on his comments.

He said something along the lines of he didn't want to hear that people were busy. Everyone is busy, what makes any one persons' busy more busy than anyone elses', he asked.

It is true, most people are busy, and I am certainly no exception. It is that time of year in my line of work where I spend the majority of my brain power on work and the rest goes toward my home life. I don't say that as an excuse though, it is simply my reality. Because my precious mental, emotional and physical resources are being used up by my life, I choose carefully how to use the limited time and energy I have left in my days. And if I choose to not pay attention to a blog here and there, oh well. I will catch up, I will check in, but I won't apologize for making the choices I think are appropriate for me. I also think that much like in face to face, brick and mortar friendships if you will, sometimes there are down times. Times where people go for weeks without interacting or talking because of the demands of life. Hopefully in all of these relationships, ones based on mutual respect and common interests, people understand that these ups and downs take place, and that it does not mean that someone is being rude. Priorities are what what they are. Everyone has to choose them as they see fit. Sometimes people even check in with other people to see if everything is okay and how they are if someone has been missing in action.

He also went on to say that he reads certain blogs even though he is not necessarily interested in pictures and stories of the bloggers' kids etc. I am sorry if someone who reads my blog is bored by pictures and stories of my child, but that is what you get if you participate in my life, even if it is only by reading my blog. I write this blog mostly to keep the uber important people in my life, my family and friends who don't see me on a regular basis, up to date on what is going on with us. And that very much includes pictures and stories about my son. My family does not live locally, and they use this vehicle as a means to see the progress he is making. If that is not interesting to unrelated parties, I really don't care.

He included comments on the quality of writing on most blogs, i.e. they are not terribly witty or pithy or even well written. I personally don't pretend to be a Pulitzer prize winning writer, or even a writer good enough for publication in the Ladies Home Journal. I write like I talk. If someone finds that boring or tiresome, I really don't care. As for advertising, almost no one makes any money from their blogs, and I am not trying to earn any money with this blog. I am no Dooce or Mr. Lady, and I took the ads off of my blog awhile ago since they were bugging me and of no use to me.

These social networking options, blogging, Facebook, etc. are great for connecting with people you would probably never meet in person, or don't get to see regularly. But they come with serious flaws. First it is always important to be aware that how the written word is interpreted is very much in the hands of the reader. No amount of emoticons can stop someone from interpreting an odd comment left on a blog or on FB in an unintended way if that is how they choose to interpret it. The writer has as much responsibility in the communication process as the reader. Maybe moreso. So don't say anything you don't want out there, forever, and being nice is more important than being witty or pithy in my book.

Ultimately it all breaks down to this, and it is true for anyone, virtual or face to face: follow my blog, don't follow. Be a friend, don't be a friend, I will still choose to use my time as I see fit, and hope that the people who know me and care will be supportive and understanding and stick around to see what happens next.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fair is fair in love and birthdays...

Fair is fair. I did a birthday post for my father last week, and today is moms turn.

I have this incredible mom. First of all, she was all of 19 when she married my dad, and 23 when she had me. I cannot even fathom having done that at that age. When I was 19 the men I knew were completely different than either of the men I chose to marry later in my life. I am a very different person than I was then. I think it is an amazing testament to both of them, but especially to my mother that 50 years later they are still married. But that is a post for another time. Check back for that post in November.

Being a first time mom in my 40s was terrifying enough. I don't know how anyone does it when they are young and stupid. Maybe that is the key. You don't know any better, so you plow through and congratulate yourself when everyone is still alive and mostly healthy on the other side. My mother did better than plow through it though. She was for a long time the quintessential stay at home mom. She cooked, cleaned, played with us, educated us and made us feel better when we were sick.

But beyond just doing the basics, mom was a role model. I credit/curse my mother for the problem solving attitude with which I approach life. I cannot be presented with a conundrum without immediately beginning to wonder how it could be resolved. It takes a conscious act of will for me NOT to offer a solution to something when I realize that sometimes a person just wants to vent. Or it is not my fight to fight. But I love that when presented with a problem, my first instinct it to figure it out myself, not to bug someone else. My life is full of people who cannot find their way out of a wet paperbag, and it makes me wonder how they manage to stay alive much less live a productive life. So thank you mom for giving me solid life skills.

I have fun memories from childhood of my mom finding creative things to do with us. There was this homemade playdough that was great, cookies that we made into shapes of animals and iced with pink icing one Christmas that we may have hung on the tree. That part of my memory is fuzzy, but I think we did. We were always going on adventure rides. My mom hates taking the same route to and from home to anywhere, so often we would just take a turn and drive a different route and find new things to see.

We would take walks in the woods and she always managed to point out something new or interesting, like mushrooms that were red, or fiddle heads, or Indian Pipes. It is something that I do now. Just this weekend Cooper and I went on an earthworm hunt in the yard because it had rained heavily on Saturday. He could not have been happier.

I have mentioned in previous posts that I LOVE reference books, that we would often refer to them in my house because of a discussion that we had at the dinner table. I may use Google now more than a book, but I still find great joy in looking something up and learning something new about my world. That is totally due to my mother and her love of learning.

In the end, my mother has been both a great example of how I wanted to live my life, but also the example I used to choose a different path. Not because I think my mother did anything incorrectly, but I could see through the choices and sometimes the struggles she faced that I had options and could make different choices. So while at times we have followed different paths, I give much credit to my mother for the fact that I not only knew I had options, but that I felt confident enough in myself and in who I was to make the choices that were right for me.

She is smart, funny, generous, loving, kind and one of the strongest people I have ever known. Thank you mom for everything you have done, and continue to do for me, and for my family. I love you. Happy Birthday Dee!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

We apologize for the interruption

I have been ridiculously busy at work. Overwhelmingly so. We opened the semester last week, but the month leading up to that was ugly. In this economy we were experiencing a record number of appeals based on changes in financial circumstances, all of them legit. So, in addition to my normal level of stress with this job, which includes a balancing act of being an advocate for the students, making sure they have availed themselves of all possible financial aid resources and being a good steward of the institutional not unlimited resources, I got to hear every single day about how someone's parent lost a job. Which only served to remind me that my own life has been directly impacted by this crazy recession.

Yes, the Bob is still without employment. But, as we speak he is still trying to make it work as a realtor. He is doing an open house for a condo right now. It is in Brighton, which is a really popular neighborhood smack up against Boston, so commuters love it. It is priced well, but has only on street parking, which from May to September is alright, but as soon as all of the college students come back to Boston, and the snow flies, SUCKS. So far no one has shown up at the open house, but he is only 15 minutes into it. KEEP THE FAITH.

Speaking of on street parking, if you are say going out to dinner with a group of friends, and you are going in separate cars, and many of the people that are in the group are completely unfamiliar with not only the restaurant you are going to, but the town in which you are dining, it might behoove all involved if you mention AHEAD OF TIME that when we all arrive at the restaurant, we will be seeking on street parking. Why do I mention this? I spent the afternoon and evening with a lovely group of ladies yesterday in Plymouth MA for a bachelorette gathering for our friend Laura who is marrying the fabulous Sheldon. We were going out for dinner, and since I was going to leave from there to go home, I drove myself. And then managed to not get lost while trying to find on street parking in the pouring rain when we arrived at our destination. It all worked out in the end. But that is good information to have ahead of time.

I have done some house cleaning on the blogroll. Took some off I was getting annoyed by and added some new ones. I have found several funny Canadian bloggers so they are represented.

Back to my work story: when all was said and done, we hit a record enrollment. We have always been a small college. We were the first two year college for women in the country. When I started here in the summer of 2000, our total enrollment was 780 students. All undergrad, but by then we had become a four year coed institution. Now we have just over 1500 undergraduates, and 140 graduate students. My boss has been at this college for almost 22 years, and this is such a huge milestone. It is hard for colleges with less than 1000 students to survive, but we not only survived, we are thriving. But we spent a boatload of money to do, and that is MY stress. I don't own the issue alone, but I am the one reporting the numbers. But things will settle down now, and once I get past all of the surveys and reports I have to do over the next month, I will actually be able to sit down and think about how to do this better next year.

For now I need to vacuum. My real house, not this blogosphere house. Dog hair is EVERYWHERE. Anyone want a crotchety old beagle? Free delivery is available in the 48 contiguous states. There is a fee for delivery to Alaska or Hawiaii.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What I remember

Eight years ago today our college was going through enrollment confirmation before the first day of classes. At that time we did this in one location, in a large auditorium, where representatives from my office, the student accounts office and the registrar were available to meet with students, resolve unpaid balances, missing documents etc. I sent my assistant director and our work study student over to handle that part, and I stayed in the office, to answer questions for people who showed up there. The student accounts office was a one person office at that time, so she was over there with everyone else.

At some point in the morning the assistant registrar came barreling back into the building, all in a tizzy because she had been on or or one of those sites, as she always was, and had seen the report about a plane hitting one of the twin towers. She is a person who, at the time, went from not worried to freaking out in about 30 seconds about almost anything. I tried to get online to see what was going on, but the sites were all being overwhelmed, so I went old school and turned on the radio. That was when they reported the second plane hit and reports were surfacing that the Pentagon had possibly been hit. Of course the assistant registrar began to freak out, declaring that we must be under attack.

A little while later, my assistant director called me from registration. She told me that the student accounts director, we will call her Lola, had just gotten a call from her brother who lived in Manhattan. Turns out her father worked in one of the twin towers. Lola didn't know this, as her father had started this job recently and she was unclear on the details of where he was working. Her brother had been sent home from work and was now on his way to see if he could get closer to the towers and find out where their father was. It was another 5 hours before Lola had any idea whether her father or her brother were alive.

She kept doing her job. She knew there wasn't anything she could do, and it kept her distracted enough that she didn't lose her mind. On the other hand, the assistant registrar was almost incapable of doing her job. She didn't have anyone in jeopardy, although her husband did work in a building in downtown Boston that was evacuated because of the government related businesses that were located in it. But she was convinced that doom was on the horizon.

The difference in how these two women handled this day was striking. The good news was Lola's father got out. He was on the 51st floor of the second tower, and had ignored the instructions of the manager of his office to go back to his office, that everything was fine. He helped a woman down all 51 flights of stairs who was having difficulty, and got out as the building was hit by the second plane. He witnessed people jumping and falling to their deaths. But he survived. Her brother eventually connected with him and they eventually were able to get through to family and let Lola know all was well.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Lola's dad, in my mind, was a hero. He helped someone who might not have gotten out on her own. Lola was a hero for continuing to do her job despite the crisis happening in her life. No one would have questioned if she had chosen to leave. We would have figured out how to cover her responsibilities, but she kept on doing her job.

I can't read stories, see videos or hear about this day in history without tearing up. I am grateful for the people who survived, grateful for those who gave their lives to try to save other people, and for those who rose to the occasion and did what had to be done that day. I am constantly impressed by the strength of my friend Lola, and that day, only a year into our working relationship and friendship, was just the start.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad

My dad, the skinny dude to the right, circa mid 1950's.

My dad more recently.

Today is my father's birthday. In honor of this I would like to review the things I am grateful for or that he taught me. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, since sometimes I am not aware of that which he taught me until I am using that skill.

He played cards with me very early on. I believe that I learned a great deal of my numbers and greater and less than concepts by playing War with him starting around age 2.

He tried to teach me to drive. I am grateful that he followed my lead when I went back in the house and told my mother that SHE was teaching me how to drive. But I do still hear his voice in my head when I am driving along a stretch of jersey barriers and he says "Concrete does not forgive" or when I am in a crazy parking lot and he says "Parking lots are the best place for an accident."

He taught me how to catch a baseball, by watching the ball into the glove.

He taught me how to hit a baseball, by keeping my eye on the ball and following through.

He took me sailing a lot as a kid. I didn't always appreciate the conditions he was willing to go out in, but I did and still do like sailing.

He bought me a canoe when I came home from camp raving about canoeing. However, he did NOT buy me a horse when I came home raving about horseback riding. I am still bitter about that. Oh sure a canoe is less expensive than a horse, what with the feeding and housing etc. of a horse, but WHATEVER.

He took me fishing. I still like fishing even if I have not done it in 453 years.

He shared with me the love of gardening and the satisfaction of growing food. But I am better at it - I weed after I plant, and I clean my vegetables after harvesting. He used to just plant and harvest, the details in between were, well, details.

He let me major in Psychology despite the fact he didn't consider it a real science.

He taught me to ride a bike.

He threw me down snowy hills in one of those metal death traps they called a saucer and terrified me. I still don't like sledding. I don't really think this counts as gratefulness or a skill, but it is part of my psyche none the less.

He taught me the benefits of focusing on a task.

He was strong enough to recognize he had a problem and went into rehab to deal with it lo those many years ago. Thank you.

He did the best damn job he knew how being a father. And that is more than some people do. He continues to be a loving and supportive dad and grandfather and I TRULY appreciate that.

Happy Birthday George. Love you!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

On personal responsibility

Oh today. Today the new students arrived on campus. I don't have Monday off, Labor Day, because, ironically, I will be laboring as the returning students come back to campus.

We survived today pretty well. There were a few encounters of the aggitated kind, as we told people they actually had to PAY THEIR BILL before they could move into their rooms and finalize their registration. But most of the people were very pleasant and excited. It is a momentous time for the students and for many parents, the first time they are sending their child off to be on their own.

Which brings me to my treatise on Personal Responsibility. Two things happened in the last week that were fascinating and puzzling and irritating all at the same time.

First was the streaker. A few days ago, while the mens soccer team was running drills on the field, a young man, not associated with the college, took his clothes off and began running laps back and forth on the field. My boss and three other colleagues were walking back from a meeting and passed the field as this was going on. My boss immediately had someone call campus police. Then she went into the athletic office, and had the director of athletics call as well, in case the other call didn't make it through.

As all of this was going on the dude noticed that he had been noticed and left the field, put his clothes on and began walking off campus and into the neighborhood. Campus police did manage to find him and apprehended him. Turns out he has a record of this kind of behavior.

Point A) not one member of the men's soccer team bothered to do anything. No phone calls were made to campus police, no one confronted the guy, NOTHING.

Point B) the soccer field is directly adjacent to the playground for my son's day care center. The center happens to be closed this week because it is work week for the teachers, but had it been in session, this occured during prime playground play time.

As a result of the individual being over 18 AND the fact he was naked in public within a certain distance of a school, i.e. the day care center, he is now accused of a very serious crime and if convicted, would have to register as a level 1 sex offender. Massachusetts does NOT mess around with this.

I am, as was my boss, LIVID that the soccer team did nothing. There was a NAKED MAN on the soccer field. I get that being naked is not necessarily threatening, but you have no idea what this guys story is. What DOES have to happen before you pick up a phone? Does he have to have a weapon? Does he have to threaten someone? One of those men should have had the sense to pick up a phone and call campus police. And my boss said so to the athletic director. I would go talk to the entire team myself, as a mother of a child at that day care center. I probably won't be encouraged to do that, but I would.

Then later this week, we had a mother send an email to student accounts in which she insisted that she didn't owe the balance they said she did, and even if she did owe it, how could they think she could pay $17000?

Here is the thing: We don't have any opinion about whether she can or cannot pay that amount of money. That is simply the cost of the service she is attempting to purchase. It is up to HER to decide if she can afford it or not. It is not anyone else's responsibility to do that, or pay for it. If you wanted to buy a car, you wouldn't walk into a Mercedes dealership and say "I can't possibly pay that amount for that car, but you should let me drive away in it right now anyway". Maybe she would. But I doubt it.

So personal responsibility - at what point do you take a stand, take action? At what point do you own that something is up to you to do or not do? When do you act like a member of a community and take a stand to protect that community? RIGHT NOW. That is when.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A story about Puppy

A friend on Facebook said today that she is worried that her cat has gone for his last walk in the woods since he has been gone for 5 days now. One of her other friends noted that they had a cat that went on a walkabout for 3 months before resurfacing. Which reminded me of the story of Puppy.

This is not my story. It was told to me by this wonderfully eccentric woman I met at a bridal shower of a friend. The friend doesn't have a functional relationship with her father, or most of her biological family as it turns out. She met Olive (not her real name because I can't remember her real name but I do believe it begins with an O) as a result of desperately needing some credit advice, due to years of trying to fill the gaping emotional chasm left in her life by her less than functional relationships with her family through a little eBay therapy. This is what Olive does, she gets people out of their bad spending habits and on the road to financial wellness. But she looks like that lesbian earthy crunchy eats only organic food she grew herself vegan we all know. Or maybe you don't, but I do. She is extraordinairily thin, wears no make up, has loooooooong gray hair and wears almost exclusively jeans and a faded tshirt and Tevas. She is not a lesbian, but she was going to play the role of father of the bride and give my friend away at her wedding.

At the shower, we got to talking about pets, because most of the women I knew there were from a dog walking group I don't really walk with anymore because of him.

Funny how that kid sucks up all my time on the weekends. Anyway, we were talking about the various dogs in our lives, and Olive told this story about a dog she called Puppy. At the time she lived in a very remote location with neighbors she couldn't even see, and where she often left the first floor window of her house open so her one dog could go in and out as he pleased. One day she came home to find him in the living room with a friend, a dog she didn't know. This dog hung out, seemingly content with being part of their family. Because she didn't know his name, she and her husband decided to call him Puppy.

Every few days Puppy would disappear for a day or two, and then reappear in the living room. He wore a collar, so she assumed he belonged to someone. One day she decided to attach a note to his collar, so if he was going home to someone, that person or family would know that while he was gone from their lives, he was with a family who was caring for him. She also mentioned that they didn't know his name, but had taken to calling him Puppy, but if he had a formal name, just let them know.

As usual, Puppy left for a few days and then reappeared, with a new note attached to his collar. The note read that the dog she was calling Puppy had come to them much the same way he came into Olive's life. One day he just appeared, hung out, became part of the family, but would disappear for a few days and then return. They were happy to know that while he was on his sojourns, he had found another loving home to be part of. They did not know his name, but had been calling him Dog. They thanked Olive for the note.

This went on for a few months, until the disappearances began getting longer, and then one day Puppy never came back. Olive hoped that this means he just moved further on in his wanderings, and had found other homes and families to share time and love with, and not that he had been hit by a car or died of old age.

I LOVE this story. It was one of those moments where I knew I would probably never see Olive again, but felt totally blessed by the moment, by the opportunity to hear this story. Which is why I try to find something in the people I come in contact with to appreciate, even if they are in my office whining about not having money to pay the bill so they can move on campus on Friday despite the fact that they have had a minimum a month, but more like four months, to plan. Everyone has a story to share, a blessing to bestow. Sometimes you just have to look a little harder for it than others.