Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Art of Stooge Labor

Courtesy:  Insomnia Cured Here 2007
Now, before I get started...don't misunderstand the reference.  I am simply stating that, in my case, what I do could be considered such.  With the disclaimer posted, let us proceed.

Good morning BET's!  This morning I got to volunteer at Jefferson Elementary as a floating helper person.  Bren is subbing in the library, so I tagged along as a helper.  For those of you just tuning in, this is the school where I worked as an aide/media person/ you Tommy Boy)

I got to see all of those smiling faces that I have missed for the last seventeen odd months and I got enough hugs to catch me up on my hug deficit to about June '13, so still a ways to go.   I got to open doors for the kids as they got out of their cars in front of the school.  I also got to trouble shoot a few Mac tech issues and shelve a bunch of books that I forgot how much I enjoyed, like Amelia Bedelia and Skippyjon Jones.

About fifteen minutes into opening car doors it hit me like a ton of bricks...THIS is my skill set!  Opening car doors, elementary school small talk, hugs and pushing kids on the swings is where I belong!  I'm really good at it!  As this sank in to my innermost place of happy(sorry for the technical jargon), the beauty of this really became clear.  If you really think about it, these tasks require almost no knowledge or training...which is perfect for me!

Think about it.  Let's go down the list.

1.  Opening a car door requires very little skill other than maybe not having vertigo at the time: Check!

2.  Small talk is mostly, "Hey buddy!", or  "Ready for a great day?".  Motivational speakers have this skill so I know I can do it too!   Check!

3.  Hugs.  Good hugs require one thing:  Hugability.  I was recently tested on the Stanz/Verbode Hugability Scale or SVHS as we call it on the streets, and scored a 10, which I think is good...right?  Okay, so I'm fluffy too, which also applies:  Check!

4.  Pushing kids on the swings.  This requires force which relates directly to my fluffiness(See number 3 above):  BIG Check!

So, while this may not be a way I can make a living, it sure breaks up the day nicely.  I have to go eat lunch now, because I get to go back this afternoon.  I think I'll have Mac and Cheese, a fruit cup and a apple juice box. It's gonna taste like happy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Grandperson's Day Menominee Elementary 2014

Hello again BET's, and a warm welcome from Menominee Elementary Grandperson's Day 2014.  The festivities are ongoing and exciting and the paparazzi is adding to the madness.  Luckily, my wife is one of them, so we are cool.  But the tension is still thick in the air.

Bren and I got the distinct pleasure of being asked by our dearest friends son, to fill in for his Grandpa today, who was in the hospital.  Now, I can't name the dearest friends or their child, not because of any fear of getting their name or photos out there...they just wouldn't sign the release. Admittedly, most of my friends are imaginary, but Brenda was there this time, so I know this was real.

Anywho, what an honor to be asked to do this.  Although obviously, I am not even near old enough to have grandchildren(tongue piercing cheek), I find that I fill this roll pretty well.  I constantly dote over my pretend grandchildren and I put pictures of them up on the fridge.  I have an IPad, but I am way behind the times on what apps are cool and what apps are, "So last season." as my neice has said.  I drive slow in the fast lane and complain when someone is tailing me, and I like to eat at 4pm and be in bed by seven.  I was made for this role!

So, to sum up, I truly covet membership in this distinguished club and look forward to one day being an active and prolific member.  The only issue I have now is that I am only 50.  My life expectancy currently is about 80.  I don't think I can keep up this pace for another 30 years...although I am willing to try!  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Life as an Unpublished Author

Hello out there all you BET's!  So, it has once again be awhile since my last post.  In that time, I have finally finished my first children's book.  I have submitted it to the publishing agent I really want, and now it is all about waiting...and contentment...and counting my blessings...and all of the other stuff I say to myself to keep from thinking about being unpublished.


This book has been a labor of love for over seven years.  Garrett The Wandering Goose(working title) was started about two years before Garrison passed, and then I took a five year hiatus to grieve and blame myself.  Not the best use of a hiatus, but I am finally back in a good place, hence the completion of the book.(I love it when I can find a use for the word 'Hence')

Anyway, for those of you who know me, you know that a seven year timeline on the book is not so outrageous.  After all, it took me eleven years to get my Bachelors degree.  And I think I am the first recipient of the 17 year Masters at IU.  So seven years is nothing in Mark World.  I am just glad I am not a dog or these numbers would be

So, my story is about a goose who is too cool for the gargle or skein, depending on their flight status, and decides to go out and seek his fortune elsewhere.  He has numerous adventures and comes to the conclusion that a gooses life as a loner goes much slower and is much harder, especially in flight.  So he learns to be a good friend and helps himself, and the other geese learn about forgiveness, fortitude, and proper flight.

About six years ago, upon reading the first draft, Brenda said, "You realize this is your own story, right?"  I totally denied it and pointed out that my life doesn't rhyme nearly that much.  But after much reading and shouts from my office of, "No Way!  That is me!", I came to the conclusion that she was right.  I also came to the conclusion that most children's books and fiction books in general, are someones story.  Even the Grinch rings true for many of us.  And don't get me strted on how many of my friends are the Lorax...and Wilford Brimley of course.

There is great freedom in being unpublished.  I know how great my story is and I can just live with the greatness of the text in my head.  No outsiders input to tell me what mistakes I made or that geese don't really behave the way I have depicted them.  So now that the writing is finally out of the way, I can move on.  I am currently starting Garrett's next adventure, just to make sure I don't lose my unpublished writer's touch.  Ahh, freedom.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The School Of Life

Hello BET's everywhere!  It has been a long while since I have posted, I know.  The last six months have been a crazy time for me.  Too much to go into, but always a learning experience.

Today I wanted to share a movie that I just saw for the first time.  Not a new film, and not overly popular to the masses, I'm sure.  But this film touched me in a way that only a handful of films have in my entire life.  The film is called The School Of Life and stars Ryan Reynolds and David Paymer, two of my favorite actors, which is one reason why this was such a treat for me.  I can't believe I had never heard of this before!

Now I won't go into the plot at all, because I really encourage you all to take the time to watch it.  I will warn you that there are parts of the film that you will find campy and simple, but see it through. The one thing I will tell you, is that it speaks to the meaning of why you all do what you do.  You may not approach it the way the characters do, or you very well may.  But I encourage you to look at the real message of the film, which I believe to be this.  We all teach for different reasons and from different perspectives, but regardless, what you give the students is much more than what they will show you through test scores or academic prowess.  What you give is yourselves, and that, will remain with them for their lifetimes.

I hope you enjoy this film as much as I have, and by all means, let me know what you think.  Until next time, keep doing what you do, and offering your students a part of you.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Goodwill and Salvation Army...Why have you forsaken us?

About ten years ago, I really embraced shopping at thrift stores.  At the time, I was covering the city of Chicago for my company and was able to find not only a great variety of Goodwill stores and Salvation Army stores, but independents like, The Find out in La Grange.  These were a sanctuary for me after a busy day of selling.  I would pop in and browse, and more often than not, I would leave with some coveted blazer by Hickey Freeman, or a Brooks Brothers suit, neither of which I would have paid more than a few bucks.  There almost seemed to be a type of chicness to shopping this way.  And as the word spread, I believe, so did the greed.

With the influx of more affluent, or maybe middle class shoppers shopping in these stores, Goodwill and Salvation Army seem to have changed their mission.  They seem to think that if something is worth more new, than it should be worth more used as well.  Now I won't argue that there is some logic in that.  But these are Not For Profit Charitable organizations and these are the same items that five years ago, were considered generic donations and were accepted without question and put on the shelf.  No price checking to see if they could make a few extra bucks. What I question is the motivation behind this change in policy.  Have things changed for the real needy in America?  Have things gotten better to the point that we can all afford to pay more for used and mostly donated clothing items? Or is it an issue from the other side.  Have Goodwill and Salvation Army adopted a policy of paying their workers a better living wage, hence needing to raise prices?  I kind of doubt that one.

Is there a place in the donated or consignment world for higher end clothing to be priced this way?  Absolutely!  It's called Boutique consignment stores, or Plato's Closet.  They exist, and for the people that are looking for that and prefer not to shop at Goodwill or Salvation Army, you have a home.  

If I'm honest, in my case, I can afford to pay more right now.  A year  But what about all of the people that depend on these stores for their clothes and household items exclusively?  I often see people shopping there that I know, really don't have a choice.  Why are we penalizing them for the shopping habits of more affluent people?  Even worse in my opinion, is the fact that I see only two solutions.  The first would be that as a people, we stop shopping at these establishments unless we really can't afford to shop elsewhere.  The second would be for these two NOT FOR PROFIT corporations to get back to doing what they used to do best...Charity.