Friday, January 1, 2016

If You've Made It To This Post, Then It Is The Perfect Opportunity To Be Captivated in 2016. The New Blog

This will be my 9th straight year maintaining a blog on a daily basis. Click above and you'll land on this year's theme.

In 2016, I simply want to be captivated by the world again: observations, discoveries, insights, traditions, memories, experiences, and reflections. If it catches my attention, I'll likely write about it. In the last few years I've moved from happiness to quirkiness, karma to cacophony. I've ventured also through Connecticut, connected with communities, and wondered about creativity. Last year, of course, I simply wanted to 'crack up' and to keep my sense of humor.

But now, it's time to revisit the wonder of my childhood and to to see the world anew through looking for ways to be captivated. In the meantime, I leave you with my video reflection of 2015.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

In Loving Memory of Gisela Gil Egui, Colleague, Friend, Mentor, Neighbor. In Shock, As Are We All

Dear Gisela,

I'm going to write this post as a letter. I'm not sure how else to process the news we received today that you and your husband were killed in an automobile accident in Miami. Father Von Arx sent out an email alert late last night about the tragic car accident and I was working on my yearlong reflection when it came.

I was shocked. I still am. It is difficult for me to process.

Your office was next to CWP-Fairfield's office and for the last four years, I've enjoyed your humor, your companionship, your friendliness and your support. I am remembering the days when you'd stop by to see what Ellen and I were laughing at, wanting to laugh, too. Before that, you always stopped in to check on the tomfoolery of what Lois was up to. In all cases, you loved laughing in the CWP-Fairfield office, and often came by to remind yourself that in the greater picture, laughter and smiles mattered most.

I remember you coming to me asking if I'd help you find a way to use your brilliance in service to a local school. You wanted your communication students to go beyond traditional academia and into service learning that was beneficial to them and the community. We met at Bassick High School and together we walked through the halls where you spoke Spanish to the students and offered your vision to the administrators and teachers. We made a connection, but you wanted even more.

In the hallways of Donnarumma, you and I talked about a summer institute for Spanish-speaking immigrant youth and your desire to teach a two-week program similar to Ubuntu Academy. You were full of energy, in love with life, and an all-around fabulous human being.

Every time I saw you, you'd see me and say, "Thank you for your service." Someone nominated me for the Salary Committee and I took on the responsibility knowing that there was little I could do, but it was a role that someone had to serve. You filled me in on your dreams, your love of teaching, and your non-stop writing initiatives. You constantly stated you wished we could find a way to collaborate. I knew we'd find a way, but in the short-run, I simply wanted your friendship and support. As junior faculty, I needed it.

There are no words to express the impact this news had on me yesterday. The loss of your life, the loss of your mother and brother, and the loss of your husband is tremendous. It is simply incomprehensible. As much as I am grieving, I can only imagine what others are going through - you had a tremendous impact on all who knew you. When I was listing out the first people I wanted to see returning from sabbatical after the new year, you were at the top of the list. You offered me a great "Welcome" to Fairfield and have always checked in with me, asking several questions about CWP. I can't imagine the hallway without you.

You were taken too soon.

You will be hearing from me. I will be looking up to the Great Whatever and asking for your help. In the meantime, I am looking to my colleagues and our friends to see how best to help Fairfield University overcome this unbelievable reality. It brings incredible sadness, but I am feeling your warmth and instantly wanting to do better.

You are loved and I promise to do my best in your memory.

Rest in peace, dear friend. The news is one of those events that alters a life forever.
Thank you for living an incredible, admirable, and beautiful life. You remain an inspiration.

Your colleague (and Donnarumma floor-mate),


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Post Holiday, Pre-New Year...Perhaps the Best Transitional Week on the Whole Calendar

As children, the holiday break means mucho excitement, but also a short period between excessive school and more excessive school. As I got older, the break meant more opportunities to work hours for extra cash. While away at college, it meant coming home for reunions, family, and catching up. For 15 years in Louisville, the break meant respite from teaching, a 12 hour road trip to Syracuse, and a 12 hour road trip back to Louisville (usually 3 books on CD). Time off is synonymous with reflection.

Now, the week off is more of the same...a place to take stock on the present and a location to look towards what is on the road ahead.

I need my reality check tweaked some. This sabbatical kept me busy as always, but for the first time in my life I actually had time to catch a ball game without a laptop in front of me. I walked the dog daily and spent more time with friends. I sipped my morning coffee slowly, and drank my evening wine with pleasure. This, of course, changes quickly as the semester is over and I've seen the exit for some time. It's back to the rat race of meetings, teaching, writing, advising, committees and never having a second to think straight.

It's a decent change and, as we all know, inevitable. I am thinking of big changes: getting a car and job, moving away to college, taking off to Louisville, teaching there, deciding to go overseas, and finally returning to earn a doctorate. Of course, a major change, too, has been taking the job in Connecticut, getting a house, and opening my world to a new family member (and dog). Who'd a thunk any of it?

I remember a student - class of 2000 - repeated often, "It's not he's the marathon." She was wise...the longer race continues and at 43, I hope, I'm not even halfway to understanding what any of it means.

What I do know is that Abu texted last night to say, "I decided to buy the complete collection of Star Wars." He then saw the price and said, "#$#$ that!"

My point exactly. It means what it means and in 2016, I'm sure it will mean even more.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

And The Force Has Been Within Us All Along: #Family2015 @LBility @Cc1airlines @AbuBility

I returned to my home planet for the holidays and to the Mall where I worked all throughout high school. That location funded my college life  (all those hours, all those weekends, all those holidays and all the jobs selling shoes and cleaning bathrooms at Sibley's and Kaufman's). That mall was the foundation from which I leaped and it is sad to see it so dead now. It's almost vacant.

Now, 25 years later, I returned to Great Northern to see The Force Awakens with my CNY posse (a second screening). Missing were mom, dad, and Cynde, but they were their in spirit and heart (I wish they came, too).

Sitting next to Jacob during the film I got a Star Wars joke, "How do Storm Troopers say goodbye to Darth Vader?" I gave up. Later Vader. I also got, "Guess what time it is?" "1:30." "Guess what time it is now?" "1:33." "Guess now." "It's 1:36." He then asked me if Chitunga knew he looks like Finn. I said, "I'm wondering the same thing. Why don't you ask him." He then sees Chewbacca and says, "Which one of us plays him? I bet it's Abu." I couldn't help but laugh.

I was excited to introduce the Star Wars series to the twins, Chitunga, and my nephews. Dylan and Mike weren't impressed, but I think the others are sold. I'm happy to hear Sean wants to watch all the films and that Abu plans to binge watch to catch up. Being a Star Wars nerd allows for better conversations with other nerds. From it, we can address the force, its metaphors, the Republic, and the idea of the Dark Side. I love the films, and enjoyed this one even more in the company of family.

The entire ride back to Connecticut I kept thinking about the movie. It is a really easy concept, actually - the force is love and doing what is right by energy, the universe, and the narratives that comes one way.

Three decades ago when the first Star Wars came, who would have thought that there'd be an opportunity in time to revisit the childhood classic with the entourage I have now. I channeled all toys and the R2D2 lamp my mom made me (and wish I still had them with me today).

And then there's more jokes These are for Jacob Charles to add to his collection:

Why is Yoda such a good gardener?
Because he has a green thumb.

What's a Jedi's favorite toy?
A Yo-yo-da

What side of an Ewok has the most hair?
The outside.

What do you call Storm Troopers playing Monopoly?
Game of Clones.

What do you call potatoes that have turned to the Dark Side?
Vader Tots.

Why does Leia wear buns in hair?
In case she gets hungry waiting for her son to leave the Dark Side.


What do you call Chewbacca when he gets chocolate stuck in his hair?
A chocolate chip Wookie!

We are the Force, especially when united in support and dedication to one another. MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU (and with us....for a very long time).

Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy Birthday To My Big Sister. I Love You and Wish You The Best in 2016. Let the Beauty Continue.

Happy Birthday, Cynderballz!

Well, I'm sad Chitunga and I didn't stay one more day to continue the holiday chaos into the traditional celebration of my older sister's birthday, but I think the greater gift for her was to depart so she wouldn't have deal with the headache of all of us organizing how we'd celebrate her day.

Instead, Chitunga and I stopped by on our way out to Connecticut and dropped off flowers and a small gift. We picked out the perfect card, too, but it was $5.99 (man, how do card businesses stay in business?). Channeling Cynde, I decided to buy a cheaper card and then verbally tell her what the more expensive one said. It was a sentimental card depicting what I really wanted to tell her: how beautiful she is, how much she means to me, how wonderful it has been to age with her, how important the memories with her are, and how enthusiastic I am about what the future has in store for the two of us. 

She's come a long way from feathered hair, hairspray, rolled jeans, thick socks, and Jack Wagner! I love being with her, Mike, Nikki, and Dylan and just relaxing - It always helped, too, when such occasions include a free dinner. I wish FaceTime also allowed us to tip our wine glasses on Friday nights like we used to do, but that has to come in spirit. 

Have a spectacular day, Cynde. You hold the Elmer's glue that keeps all of us together and through you not one of us has murdered the other (and I think Mom and Dad will okay now...I got them toy guns from Santa so they can simulate their frustrations without actually going too far with them. I don't think the foam darts will hurt them too much).

Here's to you, Big Sis, today, tomorrow, and always. You carry the universe on your shoulders and I hope today, at least for a little while. others let you take a break. Thank you for a wonderful week home and for being central to all the love shared by our families throughout the year.

Elephant shoe.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

An Unexpected Divergence For a Saturday in Front of the Television. A Series I Haven't Read

The good thing about getting my run done in the a.m., is I'm wide open for whatever comes my way during the day, without feeling guilty about the need to hit the pavement.

So, I headed to my sister's for the U of L/UK basketball game (CATS deserved it, as they played a better game), and ended up following that with the Divergent movies series and an NFL game between the Eagles and Redskins. Who allows the games to last four hours? They are a killer for fans!

Divergent started out a little too similar to the other sci-fi teen heartthrob stories, but then it picked up with intrigue before ending in complete, "This is absolute ludicrousness."

Still, it was a way to diverge from having a plan-of-action for the day and I almost fell asleep on an actual couch in the middle of the day.

And thanks, Nikki. Chitunga and I cashed in some of the Wegman's card and we got out traditional sub. Nothing beats those!

But now it's Sunday. I believe there's a crew going to the new Star Wars film.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Wow! That Came and Went Somewhat Fast. I Guess It's Time To Start Thinking About 2016

Big day today: U of L/ University of Kentucky game at noon.

And then I have to begin thinking about the layers of work awaiting me in my office, for CWP, at my house, for my classes, and with the professional organizations I belong to.

Perhaps that is what holiday breaks are for: to help us erase all the foolishness of working so we can enjoy the happiness of those we love most and spend time, albeit it short, in the company of family.

Yesterday's tradition extended beyond brunch into a prime rib dinner (um, that might be the first prime rib dinner I've ever had - and Dave rocked the mushrooms. Delicious).

Huge appreciation and shout outs to both my sisters for hosting tremendous food and crowd events in their homes. It's a lot of work and they rocked all the occasions like pros.

And then I think about all the years mom hosted our holidays in her home...makings for pure exhaustion...but she did it.

Our traditions have changed over the years, but they grow stronger and more important. So, here's to the week that just was (there must be a buckeye or magic layer bar left somewhere).

Now, time to warm up for the big game.