Hello Ms. Pagoda,
It was nice seeing you the other day outside your classroom. Thanks for droppping the charges against my son Andrew. After all 4th grade boys will be 4th grade boys.
Hello Ms. Pagoda,
It was nice seeing you the other day outside your classroom. Thanks for droppping the charges against my son Andrew. After all 4th grade boys will be 4th grade boys.
Those of you who know me can attest to the fact that I’m not a very sensitive, emotional, touchy-feely kind of person. I often substitute sarcasm in situations more tailored for tears and a hug.
Having said all that, I have to say (through tears) that I’ve been tremendously affected by Diana Hummell, a woman I’ve never met…and now never will.
As Christians we all hear our share of prayer requests each week. Someone’s cousin lost his job. Someone’s father needs a heart transplant. Someone’s having a rough time in their marriage. Praying for these people, both friends and strangers at night has offered tremendous spiritual gifts, not only for me, but for my husband and our sons.
Nearly a year ago, my friend Janece from California posted a prayer request for Diana Hummell. Diana, who like me, was thirty-something a loving wife and the mom of two little boys, had just been diagnosed with stage-4 Cancer. I couldn’t imagine.
The day I read her prayer request, I was cursing my dishwasher for not properly doing its job, whining about not having enough money for a weekend away and fervently trying to hide a dozen new gray hairs that’d popped up seemingly overnight. When I realized my similarities to Diana, and the battle she was facing, my life seemed so cushy, my concerns, so petty.
I clicked on Diana’s CaringBridge.com journal link. If you aren’t familliar with Caring Bridge, it’s an online network that allows cancer patients to create their own websites with photos and an online journal of their progress.
Like most of us running on the hamster wheel of life, I don’t have much time. But, I made time to read Diana’s journal updates because I’d never encountered a woman with such grace, who handled a terminal diagnosis with such reliance on her god, a BIG HUGE GOD, who loved her more than she could imagine. Every entry was filled with hope, gratitude and a lesson she’d learned through her struggles. She reminded me so much of the Apostle Paul, who I’m quite a fan of. With every journal post I read, I just knew she was going to get better, that her cancer would be in remission in just a few months.
That brings me to yesterday, an incredibly busy day, running hither and yon, pulling everything together for a senior education seminar. It was the biggest seminar I’d ever facilitated and my nerves were frazzled. The attendees sat munching and listening to speakers. Things so far had come off without a hitch. Finally, I could relax. Sitting in the back out of view, I popped open my phone for a quick email check. “Ah, a journal update from Diana. Let’s see how she’s doing!” It’d been a few weeks since she’d posted.
Shock and shortness of breath took over as I read the words “This is Cameron, Diana’s husband. Diana went to walk with Jesus this morning at 6:15 am while she was sleeping, a slight smile on her face.”
An unexpected sense of mourning overtook me for a woman that I never even got to meet, didn’t even know where she lived. Sitting in the back of the conference room, listening to an expert discuss the benefits of staying active well into your 80’s, I wiped away tears for a young mother who would never even see her 40’s, yet she taught her journal readers so much about being grateful for every minute of every day. She wasn’t a published author with a flashy evangelistic message for the masses. She was an ordinary young woman doing life, who stopped to record her thoughts along the way.
I could go on and on about this unexpected hero, but it’s better to let you read for yourself. I’ve pasted one of Diana’s posts below.
March 3, 2010
It’s with raw emotion that I write today. Last night was rough, to say the least. I don’t like even writing those words and don’t mean them to sound as if I’m complaining, because I have it so much easier then so many.
Just walking through the store today it hit me that life can and very much is, so fragile. I was convicted as I wandered the isles with Zach, that looking on the outside of most people, you assume they are healthy individuals pacing the isles just as you are, focused on what items they may need. Then I passed a fish tank full of fish (Zach’s fav place to stop and watch) and looked back at the reflection to see a “healthy” person looking back at me. It was me, and on the outside everything appears to be “normal”.
No one would guess that the night before I was gasping for air as my liver shot out the most horrific pain. That I still struggle even now as the tears flow to take a full breath of air. No one would know I have cancer.
So, where am I going with this? I guess I say all that to say that for the first time I finally realized that the person in our way, or one taking a little longer in the line that is supposed to be “fast”, the one that isn’t sure where they parked their car, or the person that simply doesn’t respond how we think they should or in some cases the most healthiest looking person passing me down an isle…may have had his/her worst night last night. I think of the many times I allowed myself to get upset over silly little nothings like those I mentioned…oh how perspectives can change in a moment!
I also write today, because this week we are in need of much prayer. My health of course being one of them and the other is for wisdom…God’s wisdom as we weigh and balance areas of our lives. We want what God has for us and are completely dependent on the road He wants us to take. Life is a journey, we’re wanting to do our best to follow in the many directions He’ll lead us through. We just need His wisdom!
Thank you for your countless thoughts and prayers you have already so sweetly spoken. We cling to those daily, thank you for helping bare our burdens and may God continue to bless you in ways you never thought possible.
(the below post reflects the opinions of two certain narrow-minded people, not my own opinions)
Hi Everyone, My name is Angela and I’m an alco….Giants Fan. A hush comes over the audience as they digest the shocking admission I’ve just made. Well, at least that’s how I picture it if there were a 12 step program for being a fan of the wrong team.
I’m a turn coat, a dissenter, a traitor. And I admit it. My family and I are lone San Francisco Giants fans in the heart of Atlanta Braves territory. Worse yet, we’re flaunting it, unwisely begging to be executed in drive by fashion.
Currently my husband, kids and I are on five different prayer lists. We’ve been contacted by two reliable exorcists and my parents (lifelong Braves fans) have stopped going out of the house. “It’s not you, Angela. Really. These days we just prefer staying indoors with the curtains closed, the doors bolted, and our vehicles hidden from sight,” says my mom, who’s looking particularly pale.
The other day as I sat eating breakfast at Nana’s kitchen, I overheard Mr. Ira Miller say to his wife Ida. “That’s the Hall girl. It was bad enough her running off to Berkeley, California to cavort with all those left coast, liberal nut jobs. Then she had the nerve to marry one of them, have a couple of hippie liberal youngin’s, and bring ‘em back home to God’s Country with her. And if that wasn’t enough, now they’ve turned against the Braves and are pullin’ for the Giants…during the PLAYOFFS.”
Miss Ida began fanning her face, about to have one of her “spells.” “She might as well have become a homosexual Nazi Muslim Jewish black tofu eating Harry Reid supporter, as to be pullin’ for the Giants on Braves soil,” exclaimed Miss Ida.
First of all, my husband and I are NOT liberals. Second of all, well there’s no second of all. We’re just simply Giants fans.
Growing up I loved the Braves. Heck I was a Braves fan when being a Braves fan wasn’t cool. I went to their games when ticket agents would try to crowd the entire audience behind home plate to make TV viewers think more people were there.
I did the tomahawk chop. I wrote fan letters to John Smoltz, even made Will Smith, my high school boyfriend name his black lab Smoltz. Poor Smoltz ran away after his namesake had a particularly bad outing on the mound. I thought I saw him weeks later in another neighborhood answering to the name of Glavine.
I never questioned my Braves loyalty. Even after moving to San Francisco, I’d go to Giants games wearing my Braves jersey. Slowly, however, after marrying into a family of die hard Giants fans, I began to identify with them more and more. At first it was little things, wearing orange and black outside of October, checking the Giants score before the Braves score on ESPN, and so on. Finally, one day I woke up and just knew, undeniably, that I was a Giants fan. Living in San Francisco it wasn’t difficult. People would understand, accept me and celebrate my loyalty.
Moving back to Georgia was a whole new ballgame. (pun intended). Since the Giants are NL West and Braves NL East, they rarely play each other. I was able to hide my Giants loyalty for nearly three years. But then, last Sunday, the Braves clinched the wild card slot and the Giants won the NL West division, meaning they’d be facing each other in four short days and I’d be officially out of the closet as a Giants fan. It was time I came out of the closet and admitted the truth.
So far, it’s been hard, but we’re weathering the storm. My step-daughter Jenna flew in yesterday to offer her support at today’s game.
Right now, on 10-10-10 (Giants right fielder Pat Burrell’s birthday) we’re waiting for 2 pm when my family of Giants fans can head to Turner Field, clad in black and orange to cheer for our team.
Grab a torch and pitchfork and form a mob if you must. But I promise, after this series is over, I’ll be back among the everyday people…if they’ll accept me.
Yes, of course the names and locations have been changed. I think I’ll start a new business “Poison Pen Custom Complaint Letters”
Dear President of Sporatic Trust Savings,
I’ve been a customer for nearly a year. After moving to Phommisboro, my husband and I realized the need to bank locally with trusted, reputable community members. We visited every financial institution in town considering the features and benefits of each. Ultimately we were proud to choose Sporatic Trust Savings.
For the most part we’ve been pleased with your service, rates and lobby décor. But words simply can’t express the frustration I feel when leaving town for a weekend getaway, driving up to your ATM only to find, once again, that it’s OUT. OF. ORDER.. This has happened to me at least three times and my husband, twice. All I can ask is W-T-H-!??!?!?!?!?
I have no idea what excuses you’re making for your ATM’s malfunction, what lame, pathetic reasons you offer customers for holding their money hostage on weekends when they just may be in a life or death situation and need cash fast. Perhaps they’re being blackmailed, have an angry dealer on their hands, or need to put down a deposit on a new liver.
It’s amazing the lengths that Home Depot, Stanley tools and Benjamin Moore will go to make home improvement projects appear to be the ultimate in husband-wife bonding activities. According to glossy photos in their full-color advertising materials, laying tile, installing a bathroom fan and weatherproofing a deck together can do more for your marriage than a Mermaid Erotic Cruise. Last week’s newspaper circular featured models (who’d probably never met before) gazing happily into each other’s eyes as the wife seductively teased her man with a loaded spackling knife.
A Glidden paint color brochure I recently picked up, showed a husband bear-hugging his wife from behind while they painted the master bedroom, his hand clasped over hers around the roller as he guided her strokes. Her lips were parted as if releasing a slow moan. His face, of course, was turned inward perhaps kissing her earlobe as his solar plexus thrust forward in a way that made me look away bashfully, aware that I’d been staring at the page a little too long. My face was flushed. “Do couples really paint like that? Maybe I’m just old-fashioned and naive…and missing out,” I thought.
The paint mixer guy gave me a knowing look, as if to say, “I keep my own copy of that brochure behind the counter.
I’ve officially declared Friday as my writing day. Ain’t no laundry pile high enough. Ain’t no sink of dishes wide enough, Ain’t no PR campaign urgent enough to lure my fingers from the laptop. I challenge a team of wild horses to just try and drag me away.
I’m sitting at Blackbird in my usual Brady Bunch era wicker bucket chair with the rust-colored cushion. The back and sides are the same height, making a perfect “U.” There is no way to comfortably use the sides as arm-rests, unless you have arms the length of Shaquille O’Neil’s. But, I’m not here to rest my arms. I’m here to write, darnit!
I can’t help but eavesdrop on an intimidatingly pretty mom sitting near me, chatting on her phone. She keeps saying “that’s AWFUL!” louder and louder, upgrading her tone and body language to higher alarm with each delivery. I’m afraid if the conversation continues; she’ll begin shrieking and have a seizure. I wonder if what she’s talking about is really so “AWFUL.” Is she discussing a relative’s late stage colon cancer (which really would be awful) or simply evaluating the style of another mom in her circle whose shoe selection isn’t up to Vogue Magazine standards.
I know this mom well enough to say “hi.” She’s very nice, but we’ve never become more than cordial acquaintances, mainly because of the intimidation factor. I’ve been told that she spends more on a haircut than most parents spend putting their children through private universities. Okay, I’m exaggerating. If we were friends, I’d feel like she was always judging me, my unkempt hair, my bitten nails, my Wal-Mart flip-flops. Clearly my neurosis is getting the best of me. I’m glad I have enough girl friends with their own cosmetic maladies.
At another table sit a Hispanic man and woman. He’s very handsome with a Rod Blagojevich hairstyle that seems to work better for him than for Rod. The woman is sniffling, blowing her nose and coughing a hacky sort of cough that sounds like she’s trying to crank a car with a dead battery. She apologizes, saying “I have a cold.” The man comes back with a pat and predictable response.
“Well, ya know something’s been going around.”
I’ve always been fascinated by the compulsion to say “something’s been going around” when a person tells you they’re sick, as if they need that justification. I’ve caught myself saying it, even when I didn’t know of “something going around.” Are we subconsciously afraid that if we don’t say “something’s going around” the other person will feel like an outcast or would lose sleep at night, wandering around aimlessly, pondering how the Hell they came down with the sniffles?
My mom is the type who needs an explanation for every illness, mannerism, speech pattern, hair color, character defect, mole or personal problem one might be having. She literally is the type to pace the floor thin trying to figure out where in our lineage my large facial pores or the birthmark on Rob’s foot or Pamela’s tendency to slam doors in anger came from. EVERYTHING is genetic.
If I were to get a speeding ticket, it’s because back in the 1800’s, Uncle Beauregard Jackson was locked up for reckless horse and buggy driving and I clearly got the renegade gene from him.
Last week over dinner at our house my dad began complaining about the weather. I’ll point out that it was 103 degrees, 100-percent humidity, and had been that way for two months. Satan himself was wearing an ice pack and sitting next to the AC. Anyway, my dad says “I don’t think I can take another day of this heat.” My mom turns away from him and in a hushed voice explains, “You know the Halls were always complainers. He gets it honestly.”
Maybe more people than I realize are like my mom and need that sense of relativity. Maybe people suffering from colds or the flu are comforted to hear “it’s been going around.”
Still, though, the next time someone tells me they have a cold, just for fun, I might try saying “Well, I guess that makes you a freak, because I don’t know a soul who’s been sick in a long time. Now, keep your germs away from me, you Pariah!”
My husband and I now both have Droids. No, not British, homosexual robot servants like C3PO in Star Wars. Motorola Droids. I would call them phones, but that would be like labeling Pope Benedict XXXIJWKL as a Catholic guy.
The Droid, developed to rival Apple’s iPhone, boasts a higher number of uses than the Earth has mosquitoes. In addition to calling, texting, web surfing, picture taking, video shooting, navigating my way around snarled Cleveland rush hour traffic (if I were to ever visit Cleveland) scanning bar codes for comparison shopping, identifying that Duran Duran song on the radio from 1983, and allowing me to pitch computerized wads of paper into a cartoon waste basket, my Droid also functions as a human liver….assuming your liver has a USB port. It also acts as a superb paper weight when I decide to fill out home refinance applications in a wind tunnel.
Being notably low tech kind of people, it still surprises me that James and I now carry around these gadgets, that seem to have replaced a beating heart at the top of the “Things I Can’t Live Without” list. Before our Droids, James and I didn’t realize that we were stuck in the Dark Ages, while civilization advancement zoomed right past us. I mean just a couple of weeks ago, we used to actually converse with each other……. using our mouths and voices. Sometimes, we’d even make eye contact. I know that to many, verbal conversation is akin to churning one’s own butter. So, we’re a little slow to get to the party. Now, conveniently, we never have to look up from our 3 x 2-inch screens.
James and I used to rely a lot on nonverbal communication….smiles, winks, a hurled flower vase at the other’s head. Now, with the Droid’s myriad of emoticons, I can simply press a touch screen selection and a little monster face will appear on James’ phone telling him whether I’m happy, indifferent, unmediated, or in the throes of PMS. With an unlimited texting plan, we’ll have completely forgotten what the other looks like a couple of weeks from now. But, thanks to our Droids’ 5 mega pixel cameras, we can take photos of ourselves and send them to each other.
I survived another week at Camp Lair… a feat deserving of a medal. Those of you who know me are aware that every year, same month, same week, the Weight family, complete with aunts, uncles, cousins, ex-wife, ex-in-laws, ex-cons, ex-cetera, travel to a remote region of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to a seven day family recreation camp run by the University of California Berkeley Alumni Association. Camp Lair is something I grin and bear every year…..like a pap smear. But everyone else loves it. Hence the grinning and bearing part.
The entire camp is situated precariously at a 90 degree angle on the side of a mountain, sort of like a flea circus on the hind leg of a Great Dane. The area is covered in pine trees that reach up to Heaven. It’s prime territory for Smoky the Bear and the Unibomber (if he were in the market for a new residence). We sleep in tent cabins, reminiscent of adventure-loving pioneers, or refugees. The bath houses are up hill from every cabin. When you’re finished in the bathroom, the cabins become uphill. Come to think of it, everything is uphill. By the end of the week, my legs look like Lou Ferrigno’s.
Camp Lair attracts the same visitors each year. Berkeley alumni looking to reminisce about the good old days of fighting for liberal causes, chaining themselves to trees, roaming naked around campus, and chanting Cal football fight songs. I’ve made a few friends along the way, Denise, Megan and Sharon, who are always good for drinks, laughs and ample commiserations. They’re Jewish…and laugh at my jokes about the Holocaust being a History Channel publicity stunt. (I don’t really believe that for those of you about to phone my mother.)
We all have that one friend who’s perpetually in crisis, always on the verge of a breakdown and has access to every high-rise building ledge in their town. Gina, a beautiful former Miss Arkansas, bank executive and nine time ex-wife is Camp Lair’s representative Week Eight train wreck. Occasionally she’ll wander up from her cabin to have a drink with us. Or three drinks, or ten, or enough to improve her position on the national liver transplant waiting list. When Gina drinks, she cries. She gurgles, spills, spits and recounts all of life’s injustices….namely men. Through Patron fueled tears, Gina weaves tales of one night stands, broken promises, unmet expectations and cosmetic surgeries paid for by Cal, the idiot, Reid the pedophile, and a guy affectionately referred to as Fuck Face Fowler. Then she stumbles back down the hill and passes out. Unbelievably, she ALWAYS makes it to 8 am breakfast each morning.
As I hiked over to Sharon’s cabin Wednesday night after the camp talent show, I could already hear Gina in high gear, cursing someone named Kyle. Upon my arrival, Denise and Sharon appeared shell shocked as if Gina had just dropped a soap opera bombshell that might cause them to never be able to look her in the eye again. Something to do with her fourth husband and a wood chipper, or maybe her seventh husband’s teenage lover, paint thinner and a lighter, but I’m just speculating. I didn’t want to know. Different day….different bull*&^% drama. Same insane chick.
As Gina wept and attempted to rock back and forth in her camp chair, Megan began to sing “hush little baby, don’t say a word, Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird…(I’d have probably chosen a different tune, perhaps, Girl, don’t’ go away mad, Just go away, by Motley Crue.)
I tried to think of something poignant and wise to say, something sort of funny that might salvage the night’s mood. As Megan sang, I pondered. Not about relationships, or marriages or middle aged Cougar jokes but “what kind of mom bribes her kid to stop crying by purchasing a loud, squawking, pooping, lice ridden bird?” Forget the pacifier, the blankie, the bottle, the rocking chair. Let’s buy the kid something that will loudly mimic his cries all night long for the whole neighborhood to hear. I mean, there are probably appropriate recipients of a pet mockingbird, but a colicky baby wouldn’t top the list. Perhaps, the Bird Man of Alcatraz, Alfred Hitchcock, or Michael Jackson….were they still alive, would cherish an avian friend. But I seriously doubt that Dr. Spock or even Dr. Kevorkian would recommend one to settle a baby to sleep. However, I know how hard it can be to shop for certain people. Why a mockingbird? Why not a falcon, a bald eagle? That would surely impress. Or a $1,000 white cockatiel?
The song continued….if that mockingbird don’t sing, Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring. It’s always a good idea to keep receipts just in case the product doesn’t live up to expectations. But why would you buy a diamond ring instead of simply replacing the mockingbird with one more willing to participate in sing alongs?
Which brings me to the next point. What would a crying baby want with a diamond ring? Again, lets refer back to the list of crying baby supplies: pacifier, blankie, bottle, rocking chair, lullabies, Benadry, Bourbon (for mom, of course). No one ever recommends buying highly expensive jewels for babies. Not even Marilyn Monroe or Tom Shane, everyone’s friend in the diamond business. They could be quite the choking or swallowing hazard. And I, for one, don’t want to have to go searching through a used diaper for a digested ring.
Now crying women are a different story. Husbands, if you should be faced with a blubbering wife who’s just been snooping through your cell phone records, then skip the mockingbird step and go straight for the diamond ring. The bigger, the better. Your phone’s delete button is also quite handy.
The song continues. At this point Sharon and Denise begin arguing about whether the words are “if that diamond ring don’t shine” or “if that diamond ring turns brass.” My own mother used to prefer the “don’t shine” version and then she’d follow it up with “mama’s gonna buy you some turpentine.” Yeah, I know. That just might be what’s been wrong with me all these years. Turpentine poisoning. I can see her now saying “Well we got her a mockingbird and that didn’t make her stop crying. So we bought her a diamond ring and that turned out to be a cubic zirconium and she wailed even louder. Hell, Robert, let’s just poison the kid and then maybe we’ll get some sleep.” Perhaps she could’ve gotten me a porcupine. It makes as much sense as a mockingbird, really. Or maybe a vat of red wine. Now we’re talking.
According to Google, the correct version is “if that diamond ring turns brass, mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass.” A looking glass. Is that a mirror?” Forget the diamond and bird, Kid. Just stare at yourself with this.” Why not a kick in the ass, a large-mouthed bass, some bermuda grass. I seriously hope the songwriter, found another career after penning this little ditty. Even Carly Simon and James Taylor couldn’t make sense of it. Perhaps it was the downfall of their marriage. Just a thought.