People vs. Things (Long Read)

People tell me things. Stories to be exact. Sometimes even Tall Tales, which have often been the most fun even if the hardest to believe.

But for as long as I can remember, people just start talking to me, and they often end those conversation with, “I don’t know why I told you that!” Or “Thank you so much for listening.” Or just a blanket statement like: “You are such a good listener.”

And I take all these conversations and stories to heart. Because sometimes, even if I never see those folks again, and our paths, as far as I can tell, will never again cross, I know I’ve made a friend.

Mostly because I was there and not only listened to them but HEARD them when they felt they had something to say, and wondered if anyone even cared or if anyone was even listening.

And I do care because I LOVE stories and the people who tell them! I love to know Who Dun It? And did they live Happily Ever After? And is this a To Be Continued or a The End.

So I’m glad the grown up me got a degree in English…not the study of the English Language, mind you, but a Degree in the things human kind has written and told in story form for centuries, eons, from the time of thought incarnate…

And not only have I been told I am a good listener, but I have been told I am a good student. And I suppose I should finally accept what people told me then, because I have a degree on my wall with some sort of Greek wording around my name, and I had to stand for pictures on the day I received my degree, with yellow, blue, and green cords hanging off my shoulders, and pins on my lapel that read Alpha Chai, Alpha Lambd Delta, and other Greek things of that nature.

And in order to earn all those shiny pretty things, and that piece of paper with the funny Greek words, I had to study Hard. I had to not only read stories, but I had to criticize them, tear them apart and put them back together. I had to take on the great Masters in my field and first probe to my professors, the Doctors, that I knew exactly what was being said and what was not being said. And then after I had shown them I could do that, I was told before I could walk across that stage I had to Prove to THEM, and them alone, that I could not only tear something apart, but that I could pit it back together. And not into what it was, but into something new & different, and uniquely My Own Story with supporting evidence from other professionals in my field, and it all had to be precisely documented, and Most Importantly, it had to make sense. It had to be crystal clear, because it would be something that stood alone. Alone to be judged, to be torn apart, to be used as needed for whatever purpose the reader chose.

That is what an English Majors Life is for 4 years. And that is what it culminates in to get out of University with your paper & your debt…we call it our Senior Thesis, and we begin working on it our Junior year (if we are lucky enough to be able to start that early!)

My Thesis was titled

“Beloved Through a Marxist Lens: Increasing the Value of Self.”

That year it won 1st place in the University’s Research Paper Competition, a competition opened to all disciplines and all students. As the prize, winners were given $100 and told their work would be held in perpetuity in the University Library. What a gift that was to hear as an English Major: Paid for my words and assured that folks would be able to read it long after I am gone.

So yes. I am an English Major and I am good at words and stories, or at least that is what I have been told.

And still people tell me things. I don’t announce my background to ever individual I meet, and I have found that, sadly, English Degrees are referred to by some as a “dime a dozen” so to speak, and not thought of in their true light.

And still people tell me things, just like when I was a child.

And somehow they know that I will never use their stories to twist things to my advantage, or talk openly about things that are private between to individuals. Somehow they intuitively know these things when they see me smile at them as we pass along the street, or from across a busy lunch table. And I’m happy because I know I have a new friend just by looking in their eyes.

People Tell Me Things.

I do not share those things for one simple reason: Their stories, and all the minute details, are not my stories to tell.

Thanks for listening.


English Major

SU Class of 2004

Scary stories

When I was a little itty bitty wee one, the scariest things to me where the things invisible to The Dark. You see, I could see in the dark, through The Dark, and The Dark knew this and was more than happy to oblige my every request. What a relief, I often thought. How Lucky I was to have such a Friend when all Other Lights had gone Out.

This little light O’Mine, I sang, I’m gonna Let it SHINE!

Covers moving? Don’t be afraid, I told myself. It’s just The Dark.

Right foot out, left in. Under the covers, oh no, they slipped. No worries, Mates, I thought to myself, I know the schedule: on Tuesdays & Thursdays it’s however you choose, and the other nights? Don’t forget to not Worry! Why Me Worry? I’m safe in my bed, safe sleeping in my head…sweet, sweet, slumber sweetie. Have no fear, your daddy is near.

But the voice, though clear, was NOT that of My Father, or Mother, who sang me to sleep and always wiped away the tears.

Names I attached, a few faces, I could recall. It’s just a dream, they said—change it, change it, if you’re afraid you might fall!


All fall…awful…All Fall…All Fall Down

Awake! Here I’d be once again. But sometimes on the floor, oh no! I rolled off the bed AGAIN! I’m wet?!? I could have sworn I had made it to the bathroom again…so odd, so embarrassing, so odd, so odd, sodd, sodden, nod, nodding, nodded.

The Dreams. Again? Why do we never get where we’re going? Can’t you drive? Read a map? I know I can, just hand me that…that…that…

Rat-A-Tat-Tat…Rat-A-Tat-Tat…Rat, R-A-T…Great Big Rat…Oh Good Grief, Charlie Brown, this story is getting long…long…and boring…boring. Me. 2 Tears.

One Tier for you & One Tear for Me? No, Mr. Dark. You have it confused…yet again…40 times of going around…shining brightly, never making a sound…then something changed…Shhh…I’ll never tell.

If YOU don’t know it by now, then I’m afraid it’s H E Double Hockeye Sticks Pour Vous, Kind Sirssss, Sirs? Sir? Et Tu Madame? I had Know Eye D’ah U wear Hear as well…owell…alls well that ends well.

Well, well, well.

Did you bring your coin?

Time to make that Last Wish!

I’m afraid it doesn’t take certain plastics, you know, & some papers tends to shrivel, melt, or catch flame.

Let me PUT IT TO YOU Beverly Clearly—we don’t offer your kind of change.

So sleep well, and I pray it’s an extremely Deep Dark Sleep. For I Have Promises 2 Keep, you know the rest of that one…surely something hear as Long/Wrong/Song as yo, ahem, U. (I sometimes forget the last part of Y-O-U?)

Perhaps it’s best remembered 4EvahMo’ as U-O-Me.

Parting is such bitter sweet sorrow. C u again, when you close your eyes tomorrow. Promise.

Choosing the Words and Topics

“I give it my all, until there is nothing left to give…and then I just keep going.”

-Diane D. Earhart, 2015

Regarding My Choices and Decision Making Capabilities:

I’m often asked where my ideas come from, and why I choose certain words over others. My answer is simple and always the same:

Inspired by Experience.

Interpreted however anyone chooses.

Always with the consensus of those directly affected.

Always for the betterment of mankind.

I love getting to know the communities I’m a part of, and have always felt that we can achieve more when working together. That is what I desire to convey with my words. If my message isn’t clear enough, you can bet I’ll find the words needed to get through to my intended readers. I have found that employing my skills learned on the high school stages of the theater department as a thespian have given me the confidence to meet my audiences half way…if they need me to sing and dance, well I can do that, too!

“My family, community, and children have all inspired me beyond measure. How can I do any less than give back to them, when they have given me so much?”

Education is paramount when helping people learn to help themselves. As a school and community volunteer, and later as a substitute teacher, I have seen first hand the changes that can occur for anyone who is given a chance. From improving language and reading skills, to learning new concepts in math, science, and technology, our teachers make that possible, regardless of the their locations and subject expertise. This is why I feel it is incredibly important to help our educators by providing them with the tools necessary to help our children, and our communities, excel–but more importantly, to be the best versions of themselves.

Add to that, fellowship and reflection on where we each come from, and where together we want to go, and you have the formula for a dynamite combination. Watching as my, and my friend’s children, have grown and changed continues to humble me each day. Being able to share my love of learning, laughing, and love with folks I run into each and everyday is truly a gift.

A quick pic is a great reminder when you see it, and I use all of these types of encouraging tidbits to see me through until I see the next one.

The Tongue Twister

He talked so fast his tongue did lag.

Fell out of his mouth and on the ground behind him it dragged.

But still he kept blathering, his mouth frothing as he blabbered on…

I began to feel like I was a part of his game, albeit a mere pawn.

As he advanced towards his goal, and with each step he took,

I suddenly realized: I was in the presence of a crook!

But did he stop? No! Not even when

His tongue grew so long it started to curl back towards him again.

All slimy and twirling around his feet it did go.

Stumbling and tripping, but would he stop? No!

And then with a crash! And a boom! (What a farce!)

He kept right on going despite having fallen straight down on his arse.

But then it happened…even he had to regret

When his tongue wound so high, so tight, ’twas now a noose ’round his neck.

With his last lying breath, contorted there on the ground,

I wanted to help, but by his own lies he was now bound.

Once the words had come out he could not get them back in.

His endless verbal spewing had indeed got the best of him.

If only he had paused, took a breath, and just listened.

Considered, and pondered, and thought instead of insisted.

If he could have truly heard what others had to say,

Then maybe the Tongue Twister would not have ended up this way.