Virtual Education…

A couple of days ago I saw this status update on my Facebook feed:  Just overheard a student say: “I can’t wait until all the classes at FSU are virtual.”

It got the wheels turning and me thinking about all sorts of things.  I could go in various directions with this post.  I could write about how we seem to be drifting out of our real lives and into cyber ones (and I am most definitely included in this as I spend a great deal of time connecting with others through my computer).  I could write about how helpful it would be for us to take time during our days to turn off our phones, close our laptops and just BE Present.  I could also talk about how important I think it is that Universities stick with business as usual as well as offering more options for those who need them.  But what (or who) I’ve decided to write about is Dr. John Hancock.

Dr. Hancock, or John as he insisted we call him, was one of my history professors in college.  In fact, I loved him so much that I took 3 classes with him and would have taken more if they were offered.  He was incredibly passionate about history and politics.  When I sat in his classes, I could feel his energy.  I soaked it up, listened intently, and always left wanting more.  It was because of him that I decided on a concentration in History.  He was larger than life, yet he was one of us.  He wore jeans to class and would often be found indulging in a pre or post-class cigarette.  But when he stood before us talking about slavery or the Vietnam War, he was brilliant.  He put his heart and soul into his work.  I’m not sure if his passion would have been as apparent if I’d taken his class in my own living room, virtually.  I would have missed the way he moved around the room or the way his eyes lit up.

He influenced my life tremendously.  My passion for Civil Rights was ignited in his classroom.  He gave me the words and background for what was in my heart.  He taught me not only history, but compassion for my fellow man.  In essence, he gave me the facts and the figures to explain my bleeding heart.  And it happened because I was THERE with him, because I spent two semesters and a summer session in his presence.

I am grateful that I had the ability and the means to go to college.  There is nothing like the feeling of sitting in the classroom with someone that is on fire about a particular topic.  Sure there were lots of times I was lazy, tired, and barely awake.  If I have any regrets, that is one of them, that I didn’t take advantage of those great minds that graced my presence for my 4+ years in college.  Online degrees are a good option for those with busy lives and no superpowers, but to think that a regular full-time student might wish that all their classes were virtual makes me a little bit sad.

What about you?  Care to tell us about a teacher that influenced your life or share your thoughts on virtual universities….

@WhyisDaddycryin’s Click

I have mentioned @whyisdaddycryin on this blog before.  Like so many of my cyber-friends and “click story” contributors, I stumbled into him on Twitter.  Like Nicole, he is one of those tweeters that makes the extra effort to connect with people.  He is also an incredible writer and I’ve been telling him since the first time I read his blog that he must write a novel.  You can read his blog here and in the following click story you can read how it all started!  You can also now become a fan on Facebook as well!

My “click moment?”

In high school I journaled….mostly about all the hot young ladies who I loved, yet would never give me the time of day. Mostly about how much I wanted a piano to fall from the sky and land on my father. Mostly about how I couldn’t wait to get the hell out and go to college.

In college I majored in journalism and minored in professional writing. Taking tests was like asking me to slam my head in a door for hours on end. Writing pages and pages of fiction and non-fiction was like asking me to take the hottest lady in college on a free trip to Vegas for the weekend. Well….maybe NOT so much like that, but you get my drift.

I wrote…some….in college—enough to get a taste. Enough to get a reaction from professors and other students that were somewhat warm and encouraging.

I graduated…served as an editor for a newspaper….got into marketing and public relations….started a family with the wifey—writing took a backseat. But it was always there…lurking…nagging….and categorized low amongst many other priorities.

This past summer we became friends with @momomatic . A hilarious blogger, amazing jewelry maker, and damn good friend. Our sons went to the same school and the wifey came home one day, “so one of Grayson’s friend’s mom is a blogger and on Twitter, you should check her out.”

So I looked her up, read her tweets, checked out her blog and immediately dug her humor. It’s unfiltered, unadulterated and honest humor about the stuff most people won’t talk about.

A month or so later after we’d met, started hanging out, and talking – she says, “I know you’re saying you wanna blog….you should write something as a guest blog and I’ll post it!”

Within a day I’d knocked out a post about how I’d recently learned my wife loves afternoon sex, but how unbelievably inconvenient that is for our lives with two kids. The feedback I got from that post was unbelievable. It was like being handed my first hit of crack, taking it, and knowing I was hooked.

The proverbial “click” was defining. Humbling. Exciting. Overwhelming. In August I launched www.WhyIsDaddyCrying.com and immediately started ramping up my Twitter relationships by just engaging with those following me. It’s been an experience ever since. But I can say, the relationships, the lessons learned, the support, the feedback….it’s all been an amazing whirlwind.

I can’t thank @momomatic enough for breaking down that wall I’d placed in front of my writing. Her encouragement, friendship and motivating prose have thrown me into the realm of my brain I’d always been hesitant to enter. And, I thank her dearly and promise to never pee in her rose bushes again.

I’ve enjoyed being real, being open, being honest, being true to putting my life out there. I have tons of ideas where it will all go, no clear direction and so I just continue to sway down this crazy road and digging every minute.

Letter to the Boys…

Dear Gavin and Brantley,

It has taken me two months to get around to doing this.  At some level the longer I put it off the less real it would be that your mommy is no longer here in her body, walking around with us.  I miss her so very much and am so sad that you’ll never have the opportunity to be in her physical presence.  I wanted to finally take the time to tell you about her, from my perspective.

I met Amy in high school.  We were on yearbook staff together and in Ms. Brown’s math class.  We were both the teacher’s pet that year, Amy more than me because she could actually excel in Math Concepts, I squeaked by because Ms. Brown remembered how good I was in Geometry.  The day that we really became friends was when we ran into each other with our moms on a tour of UNCC.  As a part of the tour a girl let us check out her dorm room in Moore Hall (the freshman dorm).  In that moment Amy and I looked at each other and said “Let’s room together and live here!”  It was decided.  I called the friend I was supposed to room with and weaseled out of our agreement then filled out the housing paperwork to room with Amy.  We started to hang out a lot together leading up to going to college.  By the time we moved in together in late Summer of 1993, we were already close.

That year was a great one.  We had so much fun and became like sisters.  When we weren’t out hitting the frat parties, or dancing at The Pterodactyl, we would just stay up into the wee hours talking, “roommate gab” we called it.  One thing I learned about Amy that year is that no one could help but fall in love with her.  She had the best personality and was so easy to talk to.  Unlike me, she could be the life of the party without having one single adult beverage.  A lot of guys had crushes on her that year.  And over the course of our friendship at least one guy I was into lost his heart to Amy.  I was pretty upset when that happened, but she went to great lengths to get me to forgive her and of course I did.

Amy was always a good friend.  She was there in the hard times, always.  One thing I remember is that she had such an amazing instinct about things.  She’d warn me about people and I’d never listen.  Back then I thought she was jealous.  Now I realize she was just very aware of people.  Every time she was bothered by a relationship (whether friendship or “love”) I was in, it always turned out badly.  She never said “I told you so” although she could have on several occasions.

There is so much more I could say about her.  She was silly, fun, enjoyed nice things, loved talking to people (was the first person I knew to have a cell phone), never compromised on her standards, and knew how to love and be loved!  One thing that stands out about our freshman year of college is fire drills!  Since we lived in the freshman dorm, someone was always pulling that alarm.  During those drills, we’d go out and sit in Amy’s blue Ford Probe listening to “Vacation” by the Go Go’s.  It would play over and over and we’d sing at the top of our lungs until we saw our dorm mates heading back into the building.

I will say for certain that Heaven has a very special angel now.  Your mother was AMAZING!  She was a gift to so many of us and was so generous that before she left, she gifted us with the two of you!

I love you boys!

“Aunt” Leslee

Midnitemonologues’ Click (2)

My dear friend over at Midnitemonologues is back with another moving click story.

Love and Loss: Redemption

By midnitemonologues

Ok…so…I am pulling a “Star Wars” feature here and I started with my first “Click Story” entitled, Love and Loss which started somewhere in the middle of my life’s saga…and now we will take a step backwards in time, to several years earlier…

Picture this, the glory days of college life; happy, single, making new friends, a totally new chapter in my life of “independence”.  Free to make my own choices, free to do my own thing without my delightful…yet overbearing (or so I thought at the time) parents getting in the way.  For example, I remember my mother, banging on the bathroom door shouting “7 minutes”!!!… repeatedly.  Yes, that was the time allotted in my household in which to take a shower.  So, naturally, what did I do when I went to college?  Oh, I indulged…heck yeah I indulged in 30+ minute, hot, steamy, wonderfully relaxing showers…which I had never been able to enjoy before.  No, I wasn’t the typical college student (I say that with all well meaning and intent) that totally indulged in drinking, perhaps drugs, etc.  No…it was the showers for me…I had absolutely no problem going to a frat party with my can of sprite or coke in hand – and yes – I played the drinking games – with my coke in hand…and was very well respected and received.

Alas…I digress…

One day…minding my own business…walking to class, I see him; those dreamy brown eyes, that thick brown hair…and his football uniform.  Yes…it was love at first sight.  I was hooked…line, sinker and all!  (And…sink I did indeed…no pun intended).  He was my first “real” boyfriend.  He was my first love.  He was the first man I thought I’d be spending the rest of my life with.  We had been together about a year…and had decided to get married.  Over the course of our year of dating, I realized that his mother had a very strange “hold” (for lack of a better word) over him.  She had told him at one point in time that he was her “favorite” son.  He was the middle of 3 boys.  She had also said different things to make him very insecure and in a way “need” or “depend” on her…their relationship reminded me of the strange rumors about Elvis and his mother; and because we were in college together and didn’t see his family often…I pushed this warning sign to the back of my mind.  His family lived in Spartanburg at the time so we were together in college and as I lived in Charlotte…we did the “long-distance” thing over the summer.

Well…the gown had been purchased…the invites had been sent…and then one day, we had a disagreement over the phone (his mother had been the cause of it)…and decided to talk face to face on whether or not to pursue the marriage, I was so distraught.  We decided to meet under the giant “peach” in Gaffney…that was about half way for both of us.  Much to my chagrin, he seemed hell bent on wanting his way…and the issue was so strange involving his mother, that I just could not agree with it and move past it.  As we sat under the starry sky…and the lights of the giant peach…during our conversation, a realization hit me…this man is not the right one for me.  His problems are too deep rooted…and there was nothing that I could do to help him as long as his mother had this “power” over him.  I remember deciding then and there that the marriage should be called off…ugh…the dread of it all.  We parted with tears and wished each other well and went our separate ways.  I made sure to tell him not to call or try to contact me at all…as I knew I was too weak to stand my ground if we spoke again.  He called…but thankfully my grandmother (who I was living with at the time) honored my wishes and would not let him speak to me.

During the ride home from Gaffney, I had an “ah-ha” moment.  I realized that I was only pursuing college because that is what my parents wished for me to do.  I knew that after this (the first extremely emotional, humbling, and difficult time that I’d experienced yet in my short life)…things would never be the same.  I didn’t want to go back to college and face the friends who I’d parted with an engaged woman…but not only that…I just didn’t want to go period.  I wanted to see the world!  So…I went to the airport and picked up flight attendant applications, mailed them off, and told my parents that I was going to chase my dreams.  Boy…was that an interesting conversation…in the end, they wanted my happiness and agreed to send me to a local travel school.  Did I mention what a delight my parents are? (smile)

Making the phone calls to all of the folks we’d invited to the wedding was such a humbling experience.  To have to tell someone that your wedding has been called off ranks high up on my “most embarrassing/humbling moments” list.  I remember with my last phone call to my Great Aunt Joyce, the first thing she said to me was “I am so proud of you for doing the right thing, that takes guts, Kasey.  I love you and let’s go fishing next week.”  After that…I felt so much better…I knew that I was loved…I had a great family and wonderful friends.  Soon after all of the drama died down…I was hired by US Airways and was scheduled to go to Pennsylvania for my training.

As I set foot off of the plane in Pittsburg, I felt a jolt of positive, wild energy run through me.  We rode a bus to our hotel…and I remember stepping off of that bus in February and lo and behold –  big, huge, beautiful snow flakes started to land on my head.  As I looked up into the beautiful gray sky…gazing upon the snowflakes that surrounded me…I felt a sense of release and cleansing.  Thanking God for His Divine Providence in my life…I knew that He had me on the right path…His path…and that I was in store for an incredible journey and many wonderful and exciting adventures.

Thank you for reading my story.

Godspeed –

mm

Talking vs Listening

covers-0437Growing up my biggest role model was a talker.  She could talk and talk and talk about anything and everything.  She had a ton of friends and people were constantly telling me how sweet she was and how much they loved her.  As time went by I equated the two: talking = being loved.  I figured the only way to be popular and have lots of friends who thought you were awesome was to talk a lot.  This was all good and fine except for one thing…I was and am a quiet person.

It plagued me as a teenager.  When I was in a large group, I’d freeze up.  You wouldn’t hear a peep out of me.  In small groups with close friends, I could talk a lot, but with new people it was hard.  With boys, it was even harder.  I used to end up getting crushes on every guy I could actually talk to because that was a rare find.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to make conversation which only made things worse.  The more I tried, the harder it was.  I’d say and do silly things just to break up the silence.  I was terrified of silence.  In high school a group of guys we hung out with called me “Poonch” because in one of those quiet moments I playfully punched the guy I was hanging out with and said that.  Argh, to this day it embarrasses me and makes my tummy do flips thinking about it.  They would all shout that whenever I walked into the room.  It was awful and of course made my quiet complex even worse.

When I got to college I just started drinking in social situations.  When I was drinking, I talked and people thought I was funny and fun (at least that was my interpretation of it).  The problem was when I’d meet party friends while sober, there was nothing to talk about and the magic was gone.  I started and ended a few “friendships” that way. In my desire to be talkative, I have often gotten caught up in gossiping and complaining…because hey, it’s something to talk about.  I never really thought about the negativity involved in either of those acts because at least I wasn’t being quiet.

Over the past year I have reconnected with old friends and a few people have said one thing about me.  “You were always a good listener.”  Most of the time (unless I am really distracted) I AM a good listener.  I have always looked people in the eyes when they talk and almost always  remember what they tell me.  In college I actually trained myself to stop remembering people’s names (I know, crazy) because I felt stupid for ALWAYS knowing the names of people I met at parties when they did not know mine.  It happened so often that I just said “fuck it” (Of course as an adult I’ve had to retrain myself to catch names).

listening-full

I have finally begun to stop judging myself for being a quiet person.  I talk to people I connect with and I talk about things that are important to me.  I don’t try to force myself anymore.  I try very hard not to gossip, although I do still catch myself from time to time.    My greatest desire is to be a good listener and a trustworthy friend.  Those are the attributes that will bring loving relationships into my life.  And I know for certain it is quality not quantity that counts!

The Shower Curtain

Alright, I have been mentioning this story for a few weeks now and like I said the first time I brought it up, it would make Amy laugh.  So here goes….

Sophomore year of college started out just like freshman year…with Amy and I rooming together.  That second year, however, began with me playing the role of 3rd wheel to Amy’s boyfriend KB.  After a couple of weeks, I became intolerant and moved into a single room a few floors up.  It was the first time I had truly lived alone and to celebrate my new found privacy I started sleeping topless.  It soon became a “must” part of my sleeping ritual…well at least until the night of the shower curtain.

In our third year of college Amy and I lived next door to each other in single rooms on our sorority’s floor in Sanford Hall.  Because our hall was made up completely of sisters, we rarely locked our doors.  The catch though, is if the doors were locked, they only locked from the outside.  If you exited your room and wanted it locked or unlocked you had to be sure to check the knob on the outside.

During Spring Break of that third year of college, I stayed in the dorms while most of my friends went home or to the beach.  As always though, I found someone to party with.  I don’t remember exactly who I was out with that night, but upon returning to the dorms I was impaired.  Just like every other night I stripped down to my night time uniform and went to sleep.  But seeing as I’d had a lot to drink I woke up to use the restroom.  Since my room was directly across from the bathroom (and the hall was inhabited by my closest friends) I had made a habit of hopping into the bathroom at night while simply sheilding my chest with my arms.  It had never failed me, until this particular night.  I left my dorm room, heard the door slam behind me, and instantly froze.  OH SHIT!  I knew the door was locked.  The door was locked and as far as I knew EVERYONE was gone!  I was standing in the middle of the bathroom, wearing nothing but my panties and completely panicking.  Eventually I noticed the shower curtain and my only solution to being without clothes.  I took it down from the bar and wrapped it around my body.  Once I was fully covered I proceeded to go door to door (at about 3AM) knocking and praying that someone would answer.  Eventually and luckily, one of my sorority sisters (an older sister who rarely partied) came sleepily to her door.  I think by then I was crying and honestly don’t even remember her reaction.  What I do remember is that her solution to my lack of clothing was to give me a small, satin bathrobe.  I put on the robe, while wishing it was sweatpants and a t-shirt, and Emily escorted me across campus to the other dorm to get a spare key.  Signing out that key while wearing a silk robe that obviously had nothing under it was almost as embarassing as going door to door wearing a shower curtain.  But I did get back into my room that night and put on clothes.

shower_curtain_dress

If only I’d had a good designer handy, I could have looked like this!

To Make Amy Laugh

Hey Amy!  I know you saw all of this, but I’m writing you about it anyway and yes I’m posting it on the blog.  I know you love this kind of acknowledgement…me letting the world (or my world at least) know how much you mean to me.  So before I get to any of the mushy emotional stuff…which will be coming, I wanted to tell you this funny story.

Tuesday we were at your house and Tim gave us your box of pictures to go through.  He emphasized that we could take some of them to use on the posters but since they were very special to you he wanted them ALL back.  As we went through the box we found so many of our pictures from college.  The funniest thing was that it was quite difficult for us to find pictures of me that didn’t have either a beer, a cigarette, or both in them.  It got to the point that we all laughed when we came across yet another shot of me.  So Wednesday night after the funeral we were at your mom and dad’s house.  I was down by the garage and had just opened my first beer.  Tim came around the corner and saw me.  He ran down the driveway yelling “Brad, Brad get her a cigarette and grab the camera!”  So for old time’s sake we took one more “party shot” of me.  I know if you’d been there (well in body that is) you would have been laughing so, so, so hard.

Thank you for letting me feel your presence this week.  When I was making the picture board there was this great shot of you, me and you know who.  I thought for a second about putting it up and then I felt you say “Don’t you dare put that up there, Les.”   YOU did look gorgeous in that picture though, that’s the only reason I considered it.  I also found some pics of you and Keith.  I thought about sneaking off with them. .. didn’t want Tim to feel sad when he looked at them.  But then I realized that all of the frogs you kissed before you met him were a part of you and he wants to know and hold onto to all of it.

I am thinking about you constantly, but you know that.  I am looking for signs and seeing/feeling them.  Just wish I could hear you laugh.  Maybe next week I’ll tell the shower curtain story one more time for you!

Happy Halloween BTW and for their very first one Gavin and Brantley are going as miniature wrinkly little old men…