Archive for April, 2010

When I started this blog, I was determined to follow the advice of countless writers before me: Write something every day.  I was on board.  I had willingly drunk the Kool-Aid and was writing daily.  Then life happened.  One of my favorite sayings is “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”  After the day I had yesterday, he must be ROFLHAO.

It all started very benignly.  I got up and went to work.  Now, some people might view this as a chore, but I work in a place where, at least once a day, I am laughing so hard I have to put effort into not peeing my pants.  Anyway, a situation came up at work and my boss needed someone to cover some additional hours, and I willingly volunteered.  Had a great day, but then, when I got home, I had two hours to try and get done all the things that I had planned to do in the five hours I originally had scheduled.  One downfall to being a perfectionist is that, if one is not sure that EVERYTHING is going to work perfectly, there is a tendency to procrastinate until the stars align and perfection is attainable.  This explains why my house is in a constant, fluctuating state of chaos.    So, rather than trying to achieve what I had originally intended, I put out a few fires and got things ready to go for the next event on the schedule – the spring concert at the school.

I love all my kids, but each has their own particular quirks that can sometimes drive me completely mental.  In order to make sure he arrived in time to prepare for the concert, the performing son wanted to arrive an hour early.  The brooding son wanted nothing to do with the whole affair but was attending under duress, and the toddler cared only that he was getting to ride in the car.  Sitting quietly and waiting for the concert to start was an absolute impossibility for a 3-year-old. He only wanted to RUN!  He could not even be dissuaded by the DS, so I ended up watching him circle the cafeteria at breakneck speed, hoping he wouldn’t splat face first into the tile.  (I was lucky, this time.)  The brooder wandered aimlessly waiting for the concert to start, constantly texting with his friends.  During the concert was another story.  Three trips to the potty, two suckers from Grandma, and fruit snack and dry Cookie Crisp cereal kept the toddler mildly amused.  The rest of the time was devoted to seat dancing!  The brooder, in the meantime, kept excusing himself to also “go to the restroom.”  On our third trip back from the potty, the toddler and I saw him in the lobby of the auditorium, phone in hand and thumbs flying.  Oh, well.

Anyway, by the time we left school, picked up dinner, came home, and ate, it was time to prep the toddler for bed.  As he and I were putting on pajamas and brushing teeth, my husband came into the room.  Now, my husband has also been working on a little writing project of his own, and has been very devout about spending time each day writing.  He mentioned that he had not yet written, but that he was expecting to be able to do so once the boy and I had both gone to bed and the house would be quiet.  I replied that I, also, had not written yet, but that, along with the to-do list still waiting to be completed from the afternoon, my little blog was going to go a day without an entry.  And once again, the perfectionist in me popped up and said, “Self, you could just run out to the laptop and put in ANYTHING, and then you could sleep soundly, knowing that your streak has not ended.”  I told the perfectionist in me to STFU – I was going to bed!  I hope the warmth I am feeling is just summer coming on!

Today I was asked to proofread someone’s recollections about an English 110 professor’s introductory lecture for an evening class.  It was the first night of class, and the professor was trying to put everyone at ease and give them a little window into what the next 16 weeks held for them.  The paper, as given to me, was technically fine.  The mechanics of the paper were good. The only time a “fragment” came into play was when the author was writing in a style approximating the professor’s speech patterns.  As a paper, it was excellent.  But I found myself drifting away from reading it as a proofreader would and reading it as a Reader would.  I found myself recalling my own college English courses and the variety of professors I encountered during my years of writing under direction.  I say that because, when I was in college, I never wrote for pleasure.  I only wrote what I was told to write – research paper, paper to persuade, you get the drift.  No creative writing (despite the fact that I took several “creative writing” courses.  Don’t be fooled – creativity has nothing to do with it).

Anyway, what this particular professor had to say to his students on their first night of this English course that was required for graduation was fascinating. While he was telling his students what to expect in the course, in reality he was telling his students what to expect in life.  How learning how to write properly could make the difference in whether or not they got that next promotion.  The ways we express ourselves in print leave a lasting impression.  I cringe when I am reading something written by someone who really should know better that has glaring grammatical errors or spelling mistakes.  At the very least, it shows technological ignorance, as almost every word processor available has some sort of built-in spelling and grammar checker.  If you send an email to your boss and he or she reads it and the first thing that comes to their mind is a “Hee Haw” sketch, maybe you need to consider revising your writing style.

Recently, I came across a box of papers from college – returned assignments that I had held on to for some reason that seemed important 20 years ago.  In those papers were some of my English writing assignments.  They certainly weren’t stupendous, but they were good, solid writing. Clear, concise, to the point. I was able to convey my message in just a few pages.  Looking at them, I remembered how much of a pain it seemed at the time to have to do this pointless exercise, but my college professors were preparing me for the world.  They were teaching the structure that is considered acceptable for meaningful communication.  I don’t think any of them envisioned a future that included the blog as a form of communication, but they certainly wanted what we students were writing to be welcomed by the larger world.  I only wish that all teachers had the compassion, care and foresight that the teacher I read about today seemed to have for his students.  He really knew how to teach – not teach his subject, but teach his students.

In movies or stories, whenever a struggling writer is looking for guidance, an older, wiser, been-there-done-that mentor says, “Write what you know.”  Writing a blog is sort of taking that advice and putting it under a microscope.  I mean, it is certainly not like I am going to be doing research and writing any big, explosive, world-changing stuff.  I am only going to be writing what I know and my opinions on things.

On my mind today is Spring and the changes that the season brings.  Spring is a time of new beginnings, and this spring a friend of mine announced that she is leaving us to go to the other side of the planet to pursue her dream.  While I am really happy for her, I know I will miss her.  There is also a part of me that is terribly jealous.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and would not change it, but to be able to drop everything and embark on a new adventure sure sounds enticing!  I know that when I was in a position to be able to do stuff like that, I was definitely not mature enough, and would not have lasted even a week.  Now that I am older and wiser, I am no longer in a position to be able to just drop everything and go.
Anyway, back to my friend.  About a year ago, she traveled to Japan on vacation.  Over the course of 10 days, she fell in love with the country, the people and the lifestyle there.  Upon her return, she told everyone that she could envision herself living there one day.  And then real life crept back in, and we didn’t really hear about it again.  Until earlier this month.  One day she posted on Facebook that she was moving to Japan.  And all of a sudden, we found out that she had quietly been pursuing her dream WAY under the radar.  She had taken “vacation” to go to an out-of-town interview for a company that runs English-speaking schools in Japan so that Japanese adults and children can learn English.  And, of course, after seeing how wonderful she is, they just had to hire her!
So, now July seems like it is looming, getting closer by the moment.  And all too soon, we will be waving goodbye until she comes back for a visit, or I win the lottery and can afford to take time off to go see her!  And as I write this, I am listening to “Taking Chances” from the Glee soundtrack.  How appropriate.  Good Luck, K!  I’m pulling for you!

I just got home from attending this year’s Yom HaShoah service at the temple.  I must say that this year’s service seemed a little less heavy than last year’s.  Magda Brown usually speaks to school groups and therefore her presentation was more tempered than others I have heard in the past.  Also, by virtue of living in Hungary during the war, her Holocaust experience was not like those of others who came from Germany or Poland.  Hungary was a German ally for the duration of the war, and as such the Hungarian Jews were not subject to a lot of the tribulations that others were forced to deal with.  She was not evacuated from her home town to a concentration camp until 1944, after the Normandy invasion.

A friend of mine came with me, and brought her son with her.  He is a real WWII buff, but had never had the opportunity to hear the story of a survivor first-hand.  He really seemed to enjoy himself and has already said that he would be interested in attending services next year.  He is the perfect example of why Yom HaShoah is so important.  This year marks the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and the ones who survived that horror are starting to pass away.  It is our responsibility to make sure that the stories of what happened in Europe in the 30’s and 40’s (along with what is happening in Darfur today) are never forgotten.  When there are no survivors left to tell the stories, then the children of the survivors will tell the stories.  And when they, too, are gone, their grandchildren and their children’s grandchildren will tell the stories.

We will not forget.

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away I had a Yahoo email address. And that was all. I would search the web for information and I would check my email. Most of it was spam, but I felt “connected” to those people that actually took the time to email me. A lot of it was informational – when a meeting was, events coming up, etc. Sometimes, it was just to catch up – what have you been doing, this is what I have been doing. And then someone created Google. And imdb. And Facebook. And Twitter. And Shutterfly. And Blogspot. The internet has become a personal black hole, and I am being sucked in. I have a cell phone that I can use to check my email addresses (yes, that is now plural) and I can tweet, post, or blog just by texting. I knew when I got married that I was acquiring a certain amount of geek-by-marriage in my life. I just didn’t know how contagious it was. The geek makes fun of me now. Apparently, I spend too much time checking my email, playing my Facebook games, uploading photos, and tweeting, so of course I have decided to create a blog for the whole world to see!

I really have no idea where this is going to go, but my other blog is just for stuff related to family events and photos, so this will probably be my place to ramble, muse, ponder and vent. And if no one ever reads it, that’s fine, too. I have learned in my life that the process of writing it down helps to clarify thought. And in a world of so much “connectedness”, a little clarity of thought may not be such a bad thing.