Thursday, October 8, 2009

life goes on

I had an email from an important person who was "Angry in H." It seems she was fed up with the mounds of work at the office, endless meetings, and no end in site. She sends me a youtube video of a classic Beatles song Help! (Watch the video while you read the rest of this.) Now I don't know what you see when you watch this video; I see four smiling faces. I feel young again in a far happier time. I hear an upbeat song that sends out a message of hope. "Open up the door."

We are not alone, it only seems that way. Everyone struggles with work, family, and the meaning of life. All you have to do is take a note, pun intended, from others - look for the silver linings in those gray clouds. Follow the Help! video with the Beatles Obla Di Obla Da video. Life goes on. Ya.

Now if you don't think we all struggle with demons, read Madhatter's comment to the video.

... When I bought "Anthology 3" back in Oct. of 1996 (day it came out), I was BLOWN AWAY by how good the outtake version was of this song. I was like, "What the heck was wrong with this one?" If you've ever read "The Beatles' Complete Recording Sessions" you might know that Paul just about drove everyone insane with trying to get this song the way he wanted it. He wasn't even satisfied with THIS version and attempted a THIRD remake of it.

By the way, my teeth look like Paul's.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why anything?

Lady Gaga shows off her newest body art. The curling script on her left arm comes from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke.

"In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?"


Did I ever tell the story of being overwhelmed at sea.

The story is not terribly dramatic. The family, Robin and I with Hannah and Will, were vacationing in Cinque Terre, Italy. We were staying in Monterosso. The coast line is rocky and rugged, and aside from a few vineyards on the steep hills, the main industry is catering to the thousands of tourists who flock to the coast to get away from the heat of the interior and the crowded cities.

The area is called Cinque Terre because of the five villages spaced at intervals of a few miles along the coastline. Today, the villages are connected by a railroad carved through the mountains, but once it wa just a steep and winding path along the coast. Still, there is no road to connect the towns. One either walks the path, takes the train, or goes by boat.

I decided to swim from Monterossa to Vernazza, the next village, maybe a distance of a mile or so. I wasn't rested - we had arrived just the day before - still, I was off on a swim down the coast line. A third of the way there, I was out of the harbor and away form any houses or help. The path on the hillside had wound its way up the hill so that I was on my own. Never before have I had a leg cramp while swimming. But, all of the sudden my left calf cramped. The feeling is awful. There is an intense pain that grabs you, like a shark grabbing a hold of your leg. I stop swimming and try to massage the calf muscle with my arms. I am kept afloat with my remaining right leg. All of the sudden the right calf muscle chooses to cramp and there I am at sea 250 feet from the shore and overwhelmed with pain.

What do you do when you are overwhelmed? What do you do when the situation is something you can't handle? In somewhat of a surreal sensation, I had a fleeting thought that this was it and said my goodbyes to my family - kind of hard to do when you are flailing about in pain. Next, I assessed the situation, realized that I could not massage two legs at the same time and hope to remain afloat. So, I thought back to those life saving classes my parents made me take when I was twelve. Turn over, arch your back, and try to remain calm. Eventually, the cramps subsided and I was able, by the slow movement of my arms and without my legs, to make my way to shore.

Maybe, I am over dramatizing the sense of being overwhelmed at sea. The point is that sometimes we can't physically overcome an obstacle. Instead, it takes a calm appreciation of the situation. Time and patience will present a clearer picture of the challenges we face. And then, and only then, can we make our way to a safe harbor.

Photo Rolf Hickerson photography.


My sister and I are learning how to blog. Here is her list of excuses as to why she doesn't keep up.

Sorry.....I really have been swamped!!!!!!

Here is my list of bad excuses:
1. Leave house at 7:30.
2. Get home at 7:00.
3. Continue to work on lessons until I get a bite to eat.
4. Try to spend some quality time with my husband.
5. Just overwhelmed ...!!!!!

Tips for dealing with excuses.

My sister is a teacher of middle school English. English is a critical skill. In fact it is the single most important skill that a student needs to learn to become a functioning and successful adult. And middle school students, I recognize, are the hardest students to teach, being caught in that strange transition from compliant youths into a rebellious, hormone-filled young adults. Sports, dating, and the internet are higher on a students' list of preferred activities than learning rules of grammar and the art of composition. So, God bless her, my sister who tackles the challenge of educating today's youth for tomorrow's challenges.

Lately, she has felt overwhelmed. I know the feeling well, don't we all. Daily, we are confronted with life's burdens - multiple projects to get done and not enough time; or, managing kids and work; or, trying to console a spouse who is his or herself troubled at the office, while you have your own set of worries. Don't we all just want to say, "Enough, time out!"

I know that I have been accused of being insensitive. I should understand that it is hard to learn a new skill set, that it is hard to take on thirty new students, create a lesson plan, and continue to be super mom and wife at home. Okay already. I apologize for being a hard taskmaster. But, the taskmasters of the world get the tasks done. And, after all, isn't that what teachers do - cajole, plead, ask, and bully, in order to get the very best out of their students? Get the job done.

As Popeye famously said, "I am who I y'am."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Jon and Kate

Is there anyone else out there who suspects that the recent Jon and Kate break-up is an elaborate publicity hoax to keep up ratings and extract more money from a gullible public?

Pick a random couple with kids out of the entire U.S. population and make a show about their difficulties in raising their children. Sounds dull to me, but most of America can't get enough of Jon and Kate Gosselin. Google "Jon and Kate" and you get "Results 1 - 10 of about 36,600,000 for jon and kate".

Since their break-up, they are now news.

News results for jon and kate

New York Daily News
Kate Gosselin: Jon took $230K from account‎ - 19 minutes ago
Jon Gosselin virtually cleaned out the account that Kate said contains all their liquid assets last week after TLC announced that it would continue filming ... - 177 related articles »
Kate Set Up Jon!‎ - E! Online - 1078 related articles »

If Jon is as concerned as he says he is about publicity, why doesn't he just resume a normal life and quit "cold turkey" the daily and nightly appearances on the talk show circuit? America, wake up and let's move on to the next reality wonder.