24 July, 2014  |   4 Comments

The Cherry Cordial Revolution

Probably thinking about Grandma Yeager's candy drawer.At 96, my Grandma Clara Yeager (far right) was pissed. A tough Irish broad who raised all 5 of her children during the Depression, she had broken her third hip and could no longer stay at home alone.

Dad and his siblings sent her to live at Woodbridge Nursing Home.

We visited her once a week. My sister and I sat on the end of Grandma’s twin bed watching Star Search while Grandma groused at Dad for putting her there in the first place.

She had a legendary sweet tooth. Fifty years of grandchildren still talk about that candy drawer in her house.

So, when Grandma established a Woodbridge candy drawer, we assumed she had come to terms with staying at the nursing home and the grousing would stop.

One day, a nurse took Dad out of the room for a private chat. My sister wasn’t there that day, and Grandma took the occasion to make a request.

“Listen,” she said, grabbing my hand tightly. “Next time you come, bring me a box of Brach’s Cherry Cordials. Here’s 3 dollars. For some goddamned reason, they won’t let me have them. Put the cherries in my sweater drawer at the bottom, the drawer above my candy drawer.”

Grandma rarely talked to me, much less made a direct request so I didn’t ask why. Soon my dad returned to the room and it was clear this was secret.

A few days later, I bought the cherry cordials at the drugstore across from my middle school.

That night, from the computer, I overheard a conversation between my parents

“…leaving the cherries all over the nursing home.”

“What?”

“She’s sucking the chocolate off the cordial and spitting the cherry out. She leaves them all over the nursing home. The nurse said Mother refuses to comply. The home has offered napkins, containers, special times of day but still, she leaves the sucked on cherries on windowsills, in drawers, in the art room, on the piano, on the table in the cafeteria.”

“So no more chocolate cherries,” said my mom.

Cherry Cordial RevolutionNow I knew Grandma was unhappy with the nursing home, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be complicit in this… sabotage.

NOW it made sense, why she wanted me to put the chocolate covered cherries in her sweater drawer.

Revolt.

Do I help Grandma? Or do I follow the (eavesdropped) rules and refuse to buy Grandma her cherries?

At the time of Woodbridge, I was twelve, I wore thick glasses and headgear. HEADGEAR.

I preferred writing computer programs to interacting with humans and I was growing hair between my eyebrows.

My body was changing and I didn’t like it. I felt trapped. I had no control over the changes happening to me — and I had less control over my living situation.  I felt like I couldn’t make my own decisions. I wanted my own space, I couldn’t have my own space.

I totally got it.
I decided to help.

It wasn’t her fault her body was changing and everyone told her what to do all the time. That was the worst. I knew from experience.

The next Thursday, I snuck the box into the bottom of her sweater drawer. I did this every Thursday for the next 2 months until she died. They never knew where she got the cherries.

Last fall, I toured Woodbridge Nursing Home with my mom. She’s moving into a nursing home this year under far different conditions (willingly! cheerfully!).

I couldn’t help but look in all the corners, on all the windowsills and shelves to see if they missed one – that maybe, just maybe, I’d see one quivering red cherry, sucked free from its chocolate cover.

Cherry cordial, candy of the revolution.

22 July, 2014  |   Comment

Celebrating the Earnest at Y&YY

It was unscheduled, and positive and supportive. I’ve never been to an event like that.

Y&YY was 3 days in Palm Springs at the Ace Hotel and you are already rolling your eyes at this because it sounds so earnest.

It was earnest.
We could use a dash of earnest.

A Palm Springs Sunset

Good people gathered about 300 humans from their community to share what they knew. The sharing was powerful, but not for the “alternative to SXSW” reasons I’d thought.

The sharing was powerful because I discovered my hunger, our hunger for human connection. These lighted boxes are no substitute for hugging, touching, eye-connecting late nights in person. The sharing was powerful because I met people passionate about this internet that has lately reflected the worst in people instead of the best.

Blogging conference evolve, tech conferences evolve and I really hope the spirit of this event affects other educational/networking events.
My roommate was the foxiest. Also the mom-my-est.

Yes, there was a decidedly hippy vibe, supported by their rules for engagement. Yes, I ate up the respect and positivity.

I also ate up a lot of this kale salad.
Earnest kale.
Apparently I’m one step away from shag carpets and encountering sessions.
(Don’t judge.)

I have been on the RVIP since their first year. Apparently, this is something of which I shall now boast.

But if I hadn’t attended that watercoloring mandalas session with Shelia Campbell I wouldn’t have learned about my new favorite way to unwind with my girls.

I am earnest AND I wear a wig. Oh to be 39 in the year 2014.

Put a variety of chill people in a chill place.
Encourage them to share their expertise,
magic will happen.

And even though I didn’t return with a list of action-items, I came back with perspective that people can be great, that events can be rewarding and fun and that there’s hope for this great internet of ours yet.

This internet needs some hope.

7 February, 2014  |   6 Comments

Say an X-word in the bathtub

Personality Party

Man, I have a lot of theories about humans and what we do. These theories totally come from a completely uninformed-informed place of self-reflection with a dose of internet browsing.

One of these theories about humans is that lots of our behavior acts like pipes, with each pipe devoted to keeping a certain emotion or reaction running smoothly. But just like pipes in our house, sometimes these pipes get backed up, or they build up too much pressure, or they run too slowly. We can deal with it for a time, but then we need to clean it out, call Roto Rooter and take care of the buildup.

You might have different labels, but some of my pipes have labels like:
Anger
Caring
Sadness
Confusion
Goodness

It’s that last pipe, my Goodness pipe, that causes me a lot of problems.

Raised in a hearty Midwestern Christianity, I internalized lots of Goodness rules that I assumed would keep the contents of that pipe running smoothly. Goodness rules include: don’t sleep with people before you’re married, give to charity and don’t swear.

But over time, this Goodness pipe built up pressure, I started to reject Goodness. I became obsessed with the idea with sleeping with people, being selfish, and most of all, swearing.

Man, did I start swearing.
All the time, in a way that made me seem pretty base.
F-bombs, A-holes and G-d its all over town.

And swearing provided a kind of release valve, that in a weird way, made it easier to give to charity and take care of people. Eventually I had to “clean” that pipe by taking a closer look at what Goodness meant to me (instead of rules enforced by other humans). After defining Goodness for myself, I could also define what I needed to do to keep it healthy. And I started swearing a lot less.

Now, we don’t have much of a language policy in our house, since we entertain a lot. With lots of grownups around, we make it clear to our children that there are grownup words and kid words and it’s all about context. The kids are privy to the occasional cussword, but we try not to make a big deal of it.

Personality Party

That said, our family has our own swears that roll up to our definition of Goodness.
These two words simply cannot be said, or there are swift penalties.

We don’t say Shut Up and we don’t say Stupid.
If we say either of these, we have to put a dollar in the bunk bed jar.

We call these words X-words – which came from Dottie’s adorable misinterpretation of “S” words.

Our kids are the biggest X-word cops. Unsuspecting friends come over and tell stories about how stupid someone was during their commute – Ha! there’s a dollar for the bunk bed jar. People expressing their disbelief as, “SHUT UP!” yup, they put a dollar in the bunk bed jar.

Like I said above, I don’t mind releasing vice from our pipes in small doses to keep them running smoothly, I think by doing this, we can stay away from bigger, more troubling habits.

So once a week, in the bathtub, the girls get to say an X-word as much as they want. They look forward to it all week, the night they say an X-word in the bath tub.

So what’s blocking up your pipes? Is your anger pipe backed up? Would it benefit from a little healthy release of stuffed animal punching? Is your confusion pipe running too hot? Could it benefit from a week of clear judgement? Do you just need to get off of the Twitter?

Or do you just need to say an X-word in the bath?

Personality Party

8 January, 2014  |   Comment

I will be a witch

This witch uses the computer for enchantments and mild stalking.
She told me
I will be a witch
when I grow up.

Nature or Evil?
I asked.

Both.
She said.
Then I can
Revenge My Enemies and
Protect My Friends and Nature.

Voice activation sorcery,
U MAD enchantment,
finger swipes to share spells
with the universe.

We summon and threaten
in front of lighted boxes,
in the dark.

She told me
Witches have powers we haven’t thought of yet.

So do I.

This cauldron's contents: Geocities. Rotten Tomatoes. Squee. Something using the Impact font.

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