Friday, October 28, 2011

Sometimes No One Can Hear You Scream

Halloween; it’s a time for shivers and chills, ghosts and ghouls, and stories of things that go bump in the night. When I wrote “Someone to Watch Over Me,” it brought back fun memories and questioned what one believes about the unknown. Funny thing, life is full of the unknown and things that make you want to scream.

Imagine, if you will, that your Alma Mater, where you made friends, grew into an adult and realized your life’s ambition, was altered into something unknown. Imagine that the name of your school has been changed and no longer exists on paper, but only in memory. Imagine that seven out of the 17 possible majors that once existed were cut completely, including the one that gave you purpose. Imagine that almost all of the full time teaching staff were offered buyouts, some were fired, and others, forced into retirement. What would the outcome be to students because of this?

What would you do if you were told that lack of money was the cause for these changes while an outrageous salary was paid to the new president? Imagine that the school also had a 40 million dollar endowment with increasing enrollment every year. What if you are a parent of a child at this college and your child’s major is no more? What if you are paying for your child to attend other schools to complete the major while still paying tuition to the one? How would you like it if you were told about only some of the changes by way of a press conference? In other words, news at 11, hope you catch the broadcast.

In the court of public opinion and of the media, protests at Peace College in Raleigh, North Carolina, have been portrayed as anger by the Alumnae for letting boys into a once all girl school. How simple, how neat. So many facts were left out of the media that it is almost shameful. Ironically, one of the members on the board of trustees is a news director at a prominent radio station and a correspondent for the local paper. Funny how the media failed to report that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools had found Peace non-compliant on 26 standards of the schools review due to not notifying the SACS of the impending changes. Things that make you go hmmmmmmm. The media has helped to fuel the story that “it’s about the guys,” but the reality is: it’s about the lies. (A slogan I take from a very creative Peace woman.)

Because of the manipulation of the facts by the media and those in charge at Peace, many have accused the Alumnae of Peace as being bitter, reverse chauvinistic, angry Southern belles. Well shut my mouth. Judging without facts and believing one source without looking into a situation is all too easy. When something means a great deal to you, you delve into the issue to find out all you can. It’s what responsible individuals normally do, isn’t it? Go ahead; imagine this happened at your school. Makes you want to scream, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Television is Harmful to Your Ummm.....

In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit I am in the throes of second hand television as I write this blog. So if my interest is umm, distracted then maybe it's because....oh, wait, the weather is back...wait, need to write the blog, where was I?? 

There's an article out now that researchers have determined that secondhand television is harmful to a child's development. Secondhand Television - Aren't We Just Awful Parents? - my title, not the paper's, discusses how even the television on in the background is distracting and can harm a child's language development. Get a freakin' grip people. I readily admit that I nursed my infants to the lovely tunes of college football for the one, and college basketball for the other. Yet I don't feel like their exposure to our television interests, while being fed in a warm, clean (and I might add well decorated if I say so myself, and I'm the only one who has to like it) home hurt my little dickens. Certainly based on their vocabulary (one told me he had never felt hate for me as most teenagers do, he has felt "disdain") I don't feel like they've suffered.

We are one of those households that tends towards the television on rather than off, especially during sports seasons - which are all of 'em. We also read books (The Help - we discussed what it was like for me growing up and the bigotry that existed then and now) and share music (Red Hot Chili Peppers - love 'em). We talk about what we are watching and much to the dismay of my 13 year old, he doesn't get to watch "Breaking Bad". I watched it - not appropriate for him - don't really care what others are getting to do. The teen sons and I do watch the "Walking Dead" together - love us some zombies. 

What hurts kids is not being interested in them and their interests (good grief, I've heard enough about Master Chief - he's a Halo video game character - to write my own treatise on the guy). That's what hurts language development not to mention CHARACTER development.

What hurts kids is going hungry, being bullied, getting hit by the ones who "love" them (see Dawn's essay, The Painful Truth - it will break your heart). 

Can we please focus on more important issues with kids? Now, I've gotta run, the traffic is coming up next...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Buttus Interruptus

Has it ever taken you a half an hour to peel a potato? Some days (no matter how well you plan the schedule), are just teeming with interruptions. Thursday was one of those days. I could have been in the middle of brain surgery and it wouldn’t have phased a soul. Either the phone rang or the cry of “MOM!” screeched in my ears. The first couple of times it happens I generally try to go with the flow and keep my cool. “Why yes this is the Carman household and no, I don’t have need for cremation information at this time.” Telemarketers, don’t ya just love them? Then the catastrophe of the mechanical pencil had to be dealt with. Upon suggesting that a regular pencil be sharpened instead of going to the store to buy more lead for the mechanical one, I was greeted with the obligatory teen-aged rolling of the eyes. So when Evelyn wrote “Buzzer Butt Meets the Universe,” in our October issue of, I felt the comfort one feels when realizing they are not alone.

The interruptions don’t have to be when I am planning to sit down (although instead of “Buzzer Butt” I’ve come to lovingly refer to those moments as Buttus Interruptus); they can come in the middle of those projects that need your undivided attention. Anyone can relate to this. You’re at work in the middle of the monthly report and the crazy wig three cubicles down has to sit and tell you about her newest cat’s hair ball, that just happened to be the size of Cincinnati. Oh yes, I’ve had that happen. Projects involving glue guns also require concentration. I was using the hot glue gun to try to fix a toy soldier when the dog grabbed child number two’s sock. Child number one and two were yelling for Mom, while the dog decided that the best place to hide was under Mom’s legs. Let’s just say that the toy soldier really looked good stuck to the window and my “buttus” landed on the dog, dislodging the sock. Even in moments of interruption, things tend to work out.

I look at it this way, sure the potatoes needed to be peeled for the Irish stew I was making for dinner last night, but schedules don’t recognize when people need you. (Even if you think they don’t.) I can forgo the telemarketers and the eye rolling, but there are times when the phone needs to be answered because a friend needs you, or your child really, really does need a hug. The dog? I don’t worry about her so much now. She tends to go in any direction other than the one I’m in!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Random, Random, Random

So I got up at 5:00 this morning to write my blog. All excited, I already knew what I was gonna write about (which does not always happen). What is that saying about "best laid plans"? Yep, the one by Robert Burns about going astray. First, I couldn't remember the password to the blog. Not unusual, I mean there's only 50 million passwords anymore, but sadly apparently my cheat sheet was wrong, too. Then I couldn't get the email to show up allowing me back in (and yes, I kept checking my spam filter.) The day was going downhill fast and normally it's sorta nice if the sun rises first before that happens. To add insult to injury it's not like I could turn into the sound and fury when nobody else was awake yet except the cat. So finally I finesse my way in (oh, ok, I hit a back button and the sonofa...err, pc filled in a correct password which incidentally, I STILL don't know what it really is), and I start writing.

That's when I realize that I have an essay and not a blog on my hands. The good is that I needed something for November's issue of The bad is - now I need a topic for the freakin' blog.

So with that said - here's a blog on nothing but random observations that I hope will make you smile or laugh. Please feel free to add to the list!

Colin Firth - yummmm

Mocha coffees - almost as yummy as Colin, more necessary and available in the morning.

Sense of humor - completely necessary when dealing with technology, conference realignment or car pool.

Conference realignment - led by men, and they say women are indecisive???

Politicians - the ultimate comedians.

Teenagers - so much smarter than me, I'll never be able to catch up.

Fall - beautiful until you realize how many deciduous trees are in your yard.

Grounding a teenager - necessary when those trees start losing their leaves. Somebody's gotta clean 'em up, and you can always find something a teenager shouldn't have done.

Twitter - full of twits and some really funny people. But I don't follow you back if you tweet in a foreign language. I can barely translate my teens.

Pink Floyd - new only to my teens.

Reality TV - what?? Don't y'all have your own families to look at? If not, then just go to Wal Mart - multitasking, ya know.

Mother's Little Helper - now I understand.

Y'all got anymore??

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys, If You Let Them

By Sheilah

The latest dirt bike is powerful, faster than a speeding bullet. My little 9-year-old Superman flew by me in practice, and I said it was scary, because it was. But my husband told me to be careful what words I choose--as if I could implant scary in Dylan’s brain. He’s the one driving it for God’s sake. Come on, I gave into the whole dirt bike racing thing, as if I’d ever had a say. I allow my only son to race a speeding vehicle through the woods, dodging trees and other kids, and even cheer him on. A sport where you have to don helmet, goggles, chest protector, knee-high boots, gloves, special shirts and pants. There are no seatbelts. I have to watch this, but I can’t say it’s scary?

I beg to differ. I submitted because, gasp, I know that I don’t always know what’s best, for you or for me. Yes, life has taught me that. Mother does not always know best. I am not a boy, and do not have the childhood experiences to know what boys need. I didn’t even know what girls need. There’s only one in our household who literally wears the cup, and it’s not me.

Dylan has been taught to defend himself because his Daddy was the small child beaten up on. He has been taught to read because I love reading. He has been taught to play baseball because I believe in being a part of the team. He has been taught to do his homework diligently because both parents believe in having a brain. He has been taught to mind his manners, to be nice, to be a responsible member of society. He has been taught to not lie, steal or cheat. He has been taught love. He has been taught to be careful, because we are fragile.

And he has been taught to ride like the wind, because he is free.

Sometimes father knows best, but you didn’t hear it from me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

You’re Just Gonna Win Sometimes, Get Over It

 By Sheilah

My morning meditation said this: "Can you accept anger, joy, hardship, love, success and failure as part of our common lot?" Yes, I think I eventually accept them all. But come on, success, really? Don’t we all accept that well? What’s so hard about that? So success is just part of our common lot as garden variety human beings? What a concept. We are destined to succeed? Huh. No more thinking we are something special, that by pulling up our bootstraps we will have the world by the tail, we will win fame and fortune and whip this world into place, ourselves at the center. No, it’s just part of the plan. Sometimes you succeed. Get used to it. Get over it.

If you’re old enough, you know that often we fail. That one gets easier to accept as you age. No more I’ll be a millionaire by the time I’m 30. No, you probably won’t. Even if you practice Steve Jobs’ seven secrets (no longer secret since last week’s “20/20”), you’re no Steve Jobs. So we naturally adjust our expectations of the world, and of ourselves. No more of the too harsh judgments on life, others or ourselves. Give everyone and ourselves a break, because we’ve aged long enough to know life breaks in your hands.

And what about when you meet with success? Do you think you deserved it, earned it, captured it by force of will? Did God destine you alone for it? Are you special? Hmmm. My reading suggests that we are destined for success (define as you will). I do believe in being positive, in going for what you want so long as you do no harm, in perseverance, and I especially believe in what I learn in the doing. I suspect the glory and wonder of reaching for a goal is the human spirit's capacity to hope, to defy all contrariness. 

Success--it’s just part of the plan, man. That’s a delicious idea to me, an infusion for a dreary gray Monday morning when a grande nonfat mocha won't do a thing for my restlessness. Yes, I'll take that challenge and try to believe that success is just another piece of the humanity berry pie. Sometimes there’s a cherry on top, sometimes it’s day old, sometimes it’s crow, sometimes humble pie. Sometimes success is just what's left. The roulette wheel of fortune can leave you spinning. Just don’t read too much into it. I don’t want to steal your thunder, but sometimes you’re just gonna win, no matter how hard you try.  

Then you spin again.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Three Apples

On Wednesday, October 5, 2011, every news organization was reporting of the death of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple and the mastermind behind the iPod, iTunes, iPad and iPhones. The President of the United States even commented on his death saying “The world has lost a visionary, and there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.”  My own husband told me about Steve Jobs passing away after he read it on his iPhone.

I’m one of those people that I consider “technically challenged.” I don’t care much for a lot of what modern technology has brought us. I don’t like to talk on the phone while I drive, while I’m shopping or while I’m trying on clothes in a store. There have been several times when I’ve said “Pardon me?” to the lady in the next dressing room because I thought she was speaking to me, when she was on her cell phone. Some of the technology leaves me feeling intruded upon. There are nonsensical text messages that for some reason, others expect me to answer immediately, regardless of the fact that I’m elbow deep in dish detergent. That said, I’d still be lost without these modern conveniences.

My iPod is my therapy, my juke box, and my entire collection of what soothes or moves me. I have the iPod Classic and it has 160 GB, that means that I have room for up to 40,000 songs, 200 videos or 25,000 photos. Hmmm, maybe I’m learning about all this technology anyway. At night, when I head to bed, I grab our iPad and either read myself to sleep, or watch something on Netflix. When I had surgery to remove a tumor last year, the iPad saved me from the never ending mundane of the hospital bed. I think I watched around 25 episodes of “The Tudors” and found myself lost in a world of magnificent costumes and bloody Henry the Eight’s lust. With that iPad, I wasn’t in an institutional grey-white room with alarms and 5am interns barging in on the little sleep I got. The iPad saved my sanity during that period of time.

I didn’t know Mr. Jobs. There are many reports that, where he excelled as an innovator and visionary in technology, he had short comings in dealing with the people around him. In spite of that, he did more for many, making the information hiway hand held, giving us music on the go that could fit in a small pocket, phones that help one navigate through life, and showed us that a dream could become a vision for the masses. No, I didn’t know Mr. Jobs, but I can walk into a room and tell you who is benefiting from his vision. I saw a quote on Facebook the other day (on the iPad, of course), that said “There have been three apples that have changed the world. Eve’s, Newton’s, and Steve Jobs’.” With that, Goodnight Mr. Jobs, and I thank you.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Travelling, Gaby Style.

Two years ago I invited three of my best friends to come with me and celebrate my 50th birthday. While they were (and yeah, still are) very dear to me, they had never met each other. I was a little worried as to whether or not they would get along, but with mature (of the mind) ladies, I should have left my concerns at the curb. Who would have thought that two years later the four of us would be celebrating our one year anniversary of  The journey from that day forward has been nothing short of wondrous.

We weathered each other through death, illness, insecurities, child-rearing guilt, and gut-wrenching worry. We’ve reached goals we never would have dreamed, held each other’s hands and lifted each other up, all without expecting anything in return. Friendship, golden and solid was the gift we gave each other, unexpected. On a moment’s notice we can pick up the phone and call each other with anything from questions on graphics to begging for sanity. We’ve Skyped and griped, discovering that at our tender age technology can be our friend, even when we’ve (okay, mostly me) been dragged, kicking and virtually screaming into Twitter, Facebook, and now Google +.  There is no age limit on learning or supporting one another. As we head down the road on the double-decker bus for our second year, I can’t help but wonder what will be next. We’re growing, learning, and understanding what a sisterhood can be, all the while bringing to the table our own uniqueness.   

Thank you all for letting us share with you, for allowing us into your homes and offices, and for helping us to grow. Your support is our success. What more could four women ask for? Well, you know me, I can always think of something!