Monthly Archives: September 2013

6th Grade Field Trip (or in defense of underachieving)

Mrs. Keene prepared us months in advance. Week after week our 6th grade class studied and took tests about sailors’ lives and terminology. We learned about the different jobs aboard ships in the 1800’s and hoped we’d get put in our first choice group. On the day we were to find out our placement and begin training in earnest for our overnight trip on a real 1800’s ship docked in the San Francisco bay, I wondered, “Will I have to throw those heavy ropes? Will I have to slave away in the kitchen?”

It didn’t occur to me that I might get the highest score on all the tests combined, thereby earning the rank of First Mate. But that is what happened. Kids still go on this field trip 30 years later, and what I have to say to the teachers is this: DO NOT test for First Mate with vocabulary words. Test each child by taking her into the custodian’s closet, telling her she’s a failure, and seeing who will stand up for herself and who will cower behind the mops and cry.

I don’t think I’d ever been to San Francisco before. But do I remember my first lungfull of salty, smog-free air? The happy cry of seagulls? No. Read on.

Part of my First Mate duty was to draw a chart of where the groups would sleep. Below deck, on either side, were wooden bunks built right into the hull. I didn’t see much I could do besides keeping each group together. Each group would have to wake up for a two hour night watch shift. When it came time to end our work for the day and go down below for storytelling and opening mail from our families, the captain pulled me aside. The captain was a man who worked on the boat, hosting schoolkids from all over – a different group each night. I don’t remember his name, but that’s okay. He’d sue me for libel anyway. I’ll just call him Captain Bligh.

He handed me my bunk chart. “Do you see anything wrong with this?” He asked.

The rest of the kids, except for the galley crew making our soup a few feet away in their hot little kitchen, filed downstairs for the festivities. “No,” I said honestly.

“Well,” he said, “Why don’t you sit up here until you figure out what’s wrong with it.” And he left to entertain down in the bunk room.

I sat down and stared at my paper. What more could I do? I had no idea. Cozy, Christmas party-like sounds wafted up to me, and I cried. I cried hard. Angelic Kelly with the flame-red hair came out of the galley to bring me a snack and say “Aww.” (Wherever you are today, Kelly, thank you!)

Finally Captain Bligh returned. “Did you figure out what was wrong?”*

“No.” It’s possible I felt more alone with him than I really was, with the galley crew nearby. But it felt like it was just me and Bligh and the great big sea.

“Is there any little thing you could change?”

“I guess I could leave a little more space between the groups.”

“Yes. Okay, you can go down.” (Seriously? That was it?)

But I didn’t have any fun.

At 2:00 I had to wake for my night watch. I suppose it was an honor that I got to steer with the big steering wheel (you’ll pardon me if I’ve blocked all ship terminology from my memory) but all I could think about was that I had to pee.

“Captain Bligh, may I go to the bathroom?” We weren’t allowed to use the word “bathroom,” and I do remember the correct word, but I’m out from under your thumb, Bligh, and I’ll use the word “bathroom” whenever I darn well please.

“No.” He explained that a real First Mate wouldn’t be able to leave his post.

I stayed. I cried. I wet my pants.

And that is the story of how I came to be an underachiever. I never studied hard enough to get the top marks in my class again.

*These days a strange man would not be alone with an eleven-year-old girl. Nor, I think, would he have the kids sing “What shall we do with the drunken sailor? Tie him to the mast and let the gulls pick his eyes out.”

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To Miss America, And To Those Who Rant About Her

To Miss America, I love you. You are American, and you are beautiful. Even though I’m anti-pageant (envy may or may not be involved in that opinion) I love you. To those who rant about having a Miss America of Indian descent, I love you, too. I only hope that some day you will know the joy of having an American friend who looks different than you. It’s pretty cool.

To families with stick figure representations of themselves on their SUV window, I love you. You are adorable, and I love that you value your kids. To those who rant against the stick figure crowd, I love you, too. You’re trying to be funny, and I love funny! Or maybe you’re sad that you don’t have kids. Well then, I hope you get to have some someday.

To anyone who mixes up “their,” “there,” and “they’re,” I love you. You’re probably an auditory learner, and probably really good at something I’m not good at, like chemistry or dog training. To those who rant about the misuse of “their,” “there,” and “they’re,” I sure love you. We have something in common! I love education and language, too! I secretly edit my friends’ messages, too!

To gun control ranters, on both sides of the issue, I love you. You want a safer community. You want freedom. Me too! Some of you want to keep yourself safe and free by arming yourselves, and some of you want to keep yourselves safe and free by keeping certain guns away from certain people. I have a definite opinion, but I LOVE you both.

To teenagers, I love you. The adults who rant about “kids these days” either don’t know you very well, or they don’t remember their teen years very well. To anyone who rants about teenagers, I love you. I hope you meet some of the fantastic teens who are out there, and/or remember some of the thugs you grew up with and/or were.

To everyone who rants about things that never happened, I love you, but please check Snopes.

To ranters everywhere, I love you. Sometimes you are right, and sometimes you’re hilarious, and sometimes you’re offensive, and sometimes I wish you’d shut up, but even when you’re dead wrong and about as funny as a pile of dirty dishes, I still love you.


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5 Ways To Get Facebook Friends To Read Your Blog

Lots of people have great ideas for getting people to read your blog. Catchy titles, current events, questions, pictures, and bulleted lists are all great ideas, but here are five other observations from my own blogging experience. These numbers only reflect the friends who clicked my Facebook link, not my blog followers or those who clicked through Twitter.

1) Write about the “F” word. Or marijuana. When I wrote How To Reach The ATM Buttons, an entry I considered quite valuable and informative, I had 14 views. Guide To Using the “F” Word? 30 views! And let’s face it. We all knew how to use the “F” word already.

2) Don’t link to FB after midnight. Unless you are college age or younger, your friends are asleep, and they are not likely to scroll down very far on their feed in the morning. Try to post during high Facebook use time.

3) Tag friends on FB who are mentioned or might be interested. You may as well be begging, but a blogger’s got to do what a blogger’s got to do. People I tag generally read and comment. I think I’ll mention a few friends with blogs right now! Maybe they’ll want to read this. Crissi, Chloe, Adam, Angela, and Holly, look! You’re in my blog!

4) Don’t write fiction! My Littlefoot short stories have about 2 views each. I assume they are my sisters. (I think it’s a pretty funny series. You should read it.)

5) Keep blogging, and regularly. My numbers used to hover around 14, but my last post, Love and Hugs, got 36 clicks! I was so proud of my friends, because my husband purposely chose a positive, froofy, non-confrontational title to see if people would read it as much as my “F” word post. And when I posted Love and Hugs a second time (which I don’t normally do since I don’t want people to get sick of my blog) and mentioned that I was proud of my friends because it only had four fewer views than the F-word, fourteen MORE people clicked on it. So don’t stop blogging (I try to post twice a week so people don’t forget me) and don’t be afraid to try a friendly title.


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Love and Hugs

First, ten things I love, in no particular order.

1. Redwood trees
2. Kozy Shack chocolate pudding
3. That perfect novel with action, romance, and depth
4. Something that’s none of your business
5. The smell of lilacs
6. The smell of rain on dirt
7. Cool accents
8. Bach
9. Okay, I have a secret. The real reason I wrote this post was not to talk about love and hugs, but to see how many of my Facebook friends would click the link to a post called Love and Hugs. My husband and I were discussing the fact that my two most-read titles so far are about the ‘F’ word and steroids. He suggested testing out the title Love and Hugs. So, if you are reading this, congratulations! You are either one of my more refined readers or one of my more loyal friends.

(Standing ‘O’ for you.)

I guess I’d better come up with something interesting for those of you who actually clicked the link hoping to hear some wit and/or wisdom about love and hugs. I’ll try to make it funny, since my blog theme is supposed to be humor.

Have you read the book The Five Love Languages? You should. Other than the fact that there’s only about 30 pages worth of useful information and 100 pages of filler about how using the concepts in The Five Love Languages has brought couples back from the brink of divorce, it’s a great book. The gist of it is that if you’re not speaking someone else’s love language, they might not feel loved. You could be scraping the poop off their shoes and telling them they are the wittiest, most attractive person you know, but if their love language is not acts of service or words of affirmation, but gifts, they might not know you love them. Wouldn’t it be nice to know before you scrub someone’s toilet that they’d really rather you bring them some fake tattoos from the quarter machines in front of the grocery store?

I digress. Whether it has anything to do with the book The Five Love Languages and its language of physical touch or not, my pastor has decided that if someone comes up to talk to him at church, “somebody’s gettin’ hugged.” I would like to be more like him, but I keep remembering a certain young man who maybe had some sensory issues. I put my hand on his arm as I said, “Hi!”

And he said, “Don’t touch me.”

He was always very pleasant to me after that, but I still feel weird going around hugging people. It’s not my natural inclination in the first place. (My top love language is words of affirmation.) But if we could have some sort of worldwide signal that we like hugs, I would appreciate it. How about a purple band around our left arm? Or a little wink when we said hello? No, we might feel pressured to wink when someone else winked, and then someone we hadn’t winked at would feel slighted when we winked at the next person due to peer pressure. So maybe it’s back to arm bands.

But there are some creepy guys out there. Sorry, guys, but I can see women frantically trying to rip their arm bands off before a certain guy sees them. Maybe there should be different color bands for same-gender hugs only. Okay, so purple for “Everybody Hug Me,” and green for “Same Gender Hugs.” Just to be safe, I think I’ll wear a green band.*

Well, I hope you’ve liked my ramblings about love and hugs. Be sure to click “like” if you came here from Facebook, so I know who my most refined and loyal readers are.

Love and hugs,

* With a purple band in my purse in case I ever run into Buster Posey. (Google Buster hugs.)


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Jesus Never Had Roid Rage

Three or four months ago I wrote a post about how, because of the Bible verse that says Jesus was tempted in all things like we are, I thought that Jesus must have experienced at least a flash of menopausal hormones. I surmised that it might have been when he cleared the temple and overturned the tables of the moneychangers or when he told Peter to “Get behind me, Satan.”

I wrote this because I had recently, among other things, yelled at the two young men who came to my door with their magazine-selling scam. Much as I detest such interruptions, my behavior was way out of the norm for me. I figured I must be headed for early menopause.

But the other day, I tried to get a sheet of Cling Wrap off the roll, and one side of the wrap wouldn’t unwrap. Again and again I came up with a half sheet of useless, sticky, waste, until finally I turned and hurled the roll (minus its dangerous box) at the staircase wall. It was then that it occurred to me, “Gee, I wonder if nine months of steroid eardrops might be affecting me.”

Of course I went to the experts, my Facebook friends. Nine out of ten Facebook friends agreed: I had Roid Rage. Other than my friend who said that perimenopause caused her to rant at inanimate objects and my friend who thought that Cling Wrap was infuriating and my reaction to it made perfect sense, my friends thought that steroid drops could get through my skin and affect my mood. Could, and did.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think Jesus ever used steroids. So when he faced the Cling Wraps of his day (maybe a broken sandal strap?) he at least did it with only the normal amount of rage. That’s no excuse, though. Now I know what I am facing and can fight the good non-fight. And so, while I stand by my feelings and opinions, I would like to apologize for the severity of my response to the following: Cling Wrap, my daughter’s whining, Facebook friends’ criticism of the Obamas, Facebook friends’ criticism of anti-vacciners, neighboring city’s spraying weed killer by the road during commute time, Starbucks warming my chocolate croissant without asking, and mini corndogs falling on the floor.

The biggest problem with Roid Rage is that my goal is always for people to know that God loves them. If I didn’t have that goal, then why not curse at the truck who cut me off or the friend who spreads scary lies on Facebook? But it is my goal. So friends, just know that when I throw my car keys and yell “Kiss my butt,” what I really mean is “God loves you.”


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