The 33rd Victim

dankimWhen we talk about what happened on April 16, 2007, we talk about the 32 victims. 32 people who were killed when a guy with mental issues who slipped through the mental health system, whose parents ignored doctors’ warnings to send him to a smaller college, who managed to blame everyone else for his problems, decided it was time to shoot up his school.

But many forget the 33rd victim, Daniel Kim.

Daniel was Korean American, just like the murderer. After April 16, Daniel’s parents asked him to come home for a visit. Daniel went to get his hair cut and after told his father that he looked just like the shooter. He also lived in the same dorm where the first two victims were killed. He stayed in his dorm for two weeks. When he did go out he was hit and insulted by another student.

Daniel never reached out for help, but his friends did. They tried the university. They tried local police. Although he was a student, he lived off campus in the fall of 2007. When local police arrived, Daniel said he did not know the people who were concerned for his safety and that he was fine. What could the school or local police do? He was an adult and did not want help. (Source: Fisher, Marc,  ”At Va. Tech, Near Silence For a Student’s Anguished Cry,” Washington Post, January 13, 2008.)

On December 9, 2007, Daniel killed himself in his car in the Target parking lot in Christiansburg.

The 33rd victim.

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NeVer ForgeT


About April 2, 2007, I met Jarrett Lane through a friend, Tammie. I was having lunch with Tammie and another woman who said she was Jarret’s second mom. There were hugs and laughter and Jarrett told us about his plans to go to the University of Florida for graduate school. I said it was nice to meet him and off he went.

Two weeks later, Jarrett was killed.

Rest in Peace Jarrett.

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The Umble Par-ah-dig-um

I admit, I have never had a fabulous vocabulary. I love to read. I love grammar. I love word play. I hate vocabulary.

So when people use big words to sound important, I get pissy because I don’t know what they are trying to say and it makes me feel stupid.

The word that irks me to no end is “paradigm.”

It started years ago in a former job when a grad student working with us would use that word over and over. I thought she was trying to impress our male boss and sound all smart and stuff while dressing well and looking hot. (Turns out I got that very wrong. He was convicted of sexual harassment of her and others a few years later. And when I say “convicted,” this was academia, so he was moved to another department). But from that experience and others, I have learned to hate the word “paradigm.” Just say “example” or “concept.” Imagine my horror, I mean, HORROR when my musical idol, the man whose voice melodically carries me to a world where I can get away from it all, used THAT WORD in concert. I forgave him since he loves language, (he uses phrases like “phantasmagoric splendor” in his songs).

Then there are folks who try to sound sophisticated, but really just sound goofy. Which leads to my mispronunciation pet peeve – “‘umble.” I know it is something done in the south mostly, but we are not British subjects anymore. Say the H in HUMBLE. I feel like Professor Henry Higgins, but you are not Audrey Hepburn. I know someone who says “umble” and it drives me up the freaking wall.

So tell me, what are your vocabulary and/or pronunciation pet peeves?

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Missing Person: Jamisha Monique Gilbert

Jamisha Monique Gilbert, missing since November 29, 2013 from Lynchburg, VA
Jamisha Monique Gilbert, missing since November 29, 2013 from Lynchburg, VA

UPDATE DECEMBER 4, 2013 – The body of a black woman has been found near the area where Jamisha disappeared. It is the body of Jamisha. 

This is starting to become too familiar in our area. Another young woman is reported missing.

Jamisha Monique Gilbert is 18 and was last seen the morning of Friday, November 29 by friends. Her car was found wrecked and abandoned on Concord Turnpike.

Jamisha is NOT considered a runaway. She had plans to attend the University of Maryland to study law. She was staying with and caring for a sick relative.

Jamisha is a black woman of medium complexion, 5 feet 5 inches and weighing about 140 pounds. She has brown eyes and black hair and was last seen wearing a white shirt, black jacket and brown boots.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Lynchburg Police Department at 434-455-6054.

There is no indication at this time that Jamisha’s disappearance is in any way associated with the disappearance of Alexis Murphy.

“Lynchburg police search for teen missing since Friday,” Steve Hardy, The Roanoke Times, December 3, 2013.

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Live Like You Were Dying

At some point in our lives, we find ourselves attending more funerals than weddings or baby showers. At age 41, I would expect this. At age nine, no so much.

In the past year, my daughter has had three friends whose parents have died. She only went to one memorial service, to be there for her friend. After all that she has dealt with after my father’s death, I have kept her away from funerals. Today, I attended one for the father of a boy she was friends with in preschool. I haven’t told her about it yet since she doesn’t see this friend that often, but man, what a year.

When I was young, I remember a friend of mine’s mom passed away when I was maybe six or so. Another friend’s father died when we were in high school. But nothing like what has happened in the past year.

And, yes, some of these folks had health issues. But they were still young and everything was sudden.

Last year, a classmate of DD’s mother died. Before that Kat had survived breast cancer. Kicked it in the teeth. But after giving birth to her fourth child, she died at age 37 from a blood clot.

In July, a ten year old friend of the family’s father, Greg, passed away. He was sick, but when he went to the hospital, they didn’t think he was THAT bad. He was 48.

Then Sunday, while spending time outside with his son, the one who had the crush on DD, Craig died. He was only 51.

The amazing thing about these three parents is the love and compassion they had for others. They came from different backgrounds, experiences, economics – yet all their services were filled, some were standing room only, with people whom they touched and loved. I didn’t know the mom who passed away, but I knew the dads. They were amazing people who loved, loved, loved their families.

I guess I should end this saying everyone should live their lives like they are dying. I know since I heard about Craig’s death, I have tried harder. The truth is, reality sets in. We will be who we are when we forget who we want to be. And that is OK when who we are is someone who loves others.

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Missing Person: Dashad “Sage” Smith

Dashad "Sage" Smith - missing since November 20, 2012
Dashad “Sage” Smith – missing since November 20, 2012

Missing Since: 11/20/12
Missing From: Charlottesville, Virginia
Classification: Endangered Missing
Age at Disappearance:19
Race: Black Male
Height: 5’11
Weight: 130
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black ( Long)
Clothing: Black jacket,dark grey sweatpants,black scarf, and grey boots.
Full name: Dashad Laquinn Smith
Nickname: Sage, Sagey, Unique

Erik Tyquan McFadden wanted for questioning in the disappearance of Sage Smith.
Erik Tyquan McFadden wanted for questioning in the disappearance of Sage Smith.

It’s been almost a year since Sage has been missing from Charlottesville, Virginia. Sage was 19 at the time of her disappearance and is a transgender. She dresses as a man and a woman. She was to meet a man for a date that evening, but has not been seen since. That man, 22-year-old Erik McFadden, is wanted for questioning by Charlottesville police.

McFadden spoke with Sage several times the day of Sage’s disappearance. Whereas he is not a suspect, neither Sage or McFadden have been seen since.

Sage’s case has received some national attention, but her family is frustrated with the community’s lack of support in finding a gay, transgender, African-American.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Sage or McFadden, call the Charlottesville Police Department at 434-977-9041 or Crimestoppers at 434-977-4000.

Dashad ‘Sage’ Smith Missing: Virginia Police Searching For Transgender Teen – David Lohr, Huffington Post, 11/28/2012
Erik McFadden Wanted For Questioning In Disappearance Of Dashad ‘Sage’ Smith – David Lohr, Huffington Post, 11/29/2012
Families of missing struggle onward – Barrett Mohrmann, Roanoke Times, 10/13/2013

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An Emotional Midsummer’s Night with the Monkees

This past weekend, I took my nine year old daughter to DC to meet up with one of my sisters to go see the Monkees in concert.

I am overcome with emotion. As I compose this post, I am crying.

You may think I am crazier than I already am because I am crying over a Monkees concert For Pete’s Sake (that’s a Monkee joke… look it up). But please read me out as I try to explain my feelings in words I know that will never be adequate.

When I was growing up, I watched the first syndication of The Monkees on TV. This was the 70s, so about ten years after the show was on the air. Ten years later, I became a nutso fan, fueled by my sister (mentioned above). We saw them in concert several times and went to conventions. We even saw Mike join them in LA. It was a fun time and a part of my childhood I will not forget. Although I seemed to forgot that I joined Micky on stage to sing Rio Rio Chiu. I also remember a couple of things about this time in my life… I remember being sick to my stomach before going to a convention in Chicago. I remember being ill in the hotel room. Looking back I realize that it was the beginning of the signs of the depression and anxiety I now live with.

Once I went away from college, I moved away from the music that had meant so much to me. About ten years ago, I started listening again to Papa Nez’s solo stuff, but kind of gave up on the group as a whole.

Most people have music that brings back incredible memories. The Monkees are my memories. Many true lovers of the 1960s music scene look upon them as bubblegum trying to imitate the Beatles. Sure, I admit that is how they started. But once they demanded they write and they perform, the quality of the music changed so much for the better.

So why am I so emotional about seeing them last night? I wish I had a straight answer, but I don’t. The best I can come up with I will write in the form of a note to each member.

To Davy Jones,
I will admit to you right here and now that you were my least favorite of the guys. Part of it was because everyone seemed to have you as their favorite and I wanted to be different. I guess I also felt that you seemed to always live off your Monkees glory days and not move on like the others. I remember seeing you perform in the show The Real Live Brady Bunch at Virginia Tech in the early 90s. You were hysterical and it was nice meeting you after the show. You were so nice, but I admit I was disgusted when I saw someone with you bring up two girls to you after the show. I made an assumption about why they were brought to you, and I there is a chance I am wrong, but somehow I doubt it.

I would like to take this time to apologize. I realize now that it’s not that you lived off the heyday, but that you really loved it. You enjoyed what you did and how you affected people. I read arrogance in what was humor. When you died, a part of my childhood died too. Two months and one day later, my father passed away. So hearing your voice and the tribute the guys did this year really hit me harder than I thought. You really impacted so many in your life and you are greatly missed.

To Micky Dolenz,
I still think you have one of the best voices in rock and roll. Your energy onstage brings out the best in everyone around you. I really admire your talents, but also that you take the time to speak with fans. The way you speak about your children and include your family in all that you do is amazing and something to be admired and imitated.

To Peter Tork, 
This will be the hardest one to write. I love watching you perform on stage. Your talents as a musician are to be envied. What instrument CAN’T you play? But I am going to tell a story on you that few people know. One that has touched me so much and makes me cry whenever I think about it.

It was April 17th or 18th, 2007. Our little community in Blacksburg, VA had just been shaken after a lunatic decided he didn’t want to live anymore and took the lives of 32 students, faculty, and staff at Virginia Tech. When people could not get through to VT, they would call our office in Blacksburg and we were tired, overwhelmed, and in mourning. The phone rang in the office and I answered. A lady called and said she was a representative for Peter Tork and that Peter wanted to come to our community and play a concert as a benefit and who should she speak with to make it happen. I think I sent her to the local theatre in downtown. Unfortunately you did not get to come. More “popular” performers came to VT and played for free in the stadium. But I will never forget your generosity. I am so glad I took that call that day. Peter, if you ever see this, on behalf of the Hokies, I thank you.

Dear Michael Nesmith,
I guess I could say you are my favorite of the guys. Your storytelling ability is the best I have heard. Sometimes it seems that your songs were written about me. The Crippled Lion is my favorite song because I know “my path is planned, but not rehearsed.” When I was pregnant with my first child, I was told to get a focus point for labor and I chose your music. In all honesty, you didn’t help the labor move along, but it did calm me down. Either it was your music or the pain meds, I don’t know. But you have helped me in times of emotional blackness. Your love for words, music, and your odd humor make you such a musical blessing. For someone whose talents mean so much to me, I am totally at a loss to say anything to you other than “Thank You” for bringing so much joy to my heart.

So I guess that is it. Once again, a poor choice of words for something so emotional.

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Teaching Kids to Be Responsible About Money


It is hard to believe, but my darling daughter is almost 9! We have fun planning her birthday parties. Here is what we have done so far:

Age 1 – Just family
Age 2 – Burger King playground?
Age 3 – Sleepover theme – kids came in PJs, we sent them home after the party
Age 4 - Princess party & dance at the house
Age 5 – Aquatic center
Age 6 - Gymnastics party
Age 7 – Paint your own pottery
Age 8 – Party at a local park

Last year was great. It was cheap $25 for the park rental, but weather in April can be an issue. Note that last few years have been parties at another location. We have a great finished basement in our house, but I don’t clean. And that is a lot of kids to have in one place.

This year I asked my daughter what she wanted to do for her party? We went over the options in the area. Then she said about one option, “but that is too expensive.”


We have been working hard on teaching our children about saving money and spending wisely. They earn money by doing chores. They have to put some into savings, some into giving, and some into just spending. DH and I still have a say in where they spend their money. It’s interesting to see how that toy they really wanted is not that important anymore when THEY have to pay for it.

Back to the birthday party.

One of the things I have been very careful about is not making it seem like we do not have money or are super cheap. So imagine my surprise at her comment. I reassured her this was not a problem, but she wanted to do something at home. It will just be cake and some snacks outside if the weather is nice or inside if it is not. She can invite ten friends. No gifts.

I am proud of her though. She made a decision with the family in mind.

She is growing up and sometimes makes responsible choices better than people three times her age.

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The Ethics of Work

Hey remember me? Yeah, that whole grad school, mom, working thing has really ruined my blog life. Some of my buddies on Twitter have reminded me about the fun and therapy of blogging. Changed my blog look too. Also, no more paid posts. I don’t have time to commit to it anyway and it’s more fun just blogging for me. 

I think I have a pretty darn good work ethic. There are some days I may slack off, but never when something large is due or when people rely on me to get things to them. Not everyone can be one their game all eight plus hours a day. Right?

But there are some people out there in the working world where I wonder what sort of dirt they have on their boss, because there is no way they should still be working at that company. There are several people I see in the workforce (at my job and elsewhere) who:

  • come to work between 9-10 am instead of their required 8 am
  • claim to be in the office in an email when they are actually at home
  • set meetings with people, but come in 15 minutes or more late – the higher up you are, the worse this is
  • claim to have done something when in reality they forgot and try to make up for it by doing it after the nth reminder
  • when asked why something wasn’t done, blame someone else
  • claim to be out in the field doing a project from lunchtime until about 15 minutes before quitting time
  • not call in when running late
  • earbuds constantly in the ears during work time
  • go running to management when they are called out on something
  • call in sick and then go out in public later that day (sicky-sick was seen at the movie theater by a coworker)

This leads me into how to interview for a job. Here is my advice to fresh-faced college students. And yes, this is from experience.

First, dress well. Wearing a tank top with your ample assets about to spill out is not the way to apply for a job – at least when I am hiring. Same with wearing shorts and/or flip flops. I know not everyone owns a suit, but make the effort! And skip the perfume.

Second, I get this may be your first real job, but don’t answer the questions like the career websites tell you. Answer on your own. When we ask for a weakness, don’t turn it into a strength.

Third, shake hands with people.

Fourth, I DO ask the receptionist how you treated her. Oh yeah. Some of you people are snots.

Fifth, if the job is part time, chances are it will remain so. Do not apply for a job hoping it will go full time.

Sixth, this is a small town. I know people. I know professors. If you put someone down as a reference, you better be sure you asked them in person to be a reference. We will check them.

Seventh, don’t cry in an interview. If was ask you about your passion, make it a work passion, not something that will make you cry – like starving children in Africa.

Eighth, sometimes we get someone with more experience than you. However, do not let your lack of experience deter you. Do not make yourself out to be more than you are, but there are times when personality wins over portfolio.

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Weighty Issues

VIDEO: WKBT Anchor Jennifer Livingston’s On-Air Response to Viewer Complaint About Her Weight

I am so sick and tired of the body image our national “news” stations place on women (and to some extent, men). I see story after story about how girls’ have horrible body images, how women in Hollywood are too thin and on the same webpages of these stations I will see stories about how so and so lost all her baby weight in a month or how “fat” some stars look now (Christina Aguilera for example). Fox News had a thing where they showed stars who have not aged well. Really? They compare pictures from 20-30 years ago and joke at their looks. Are you freaking kidding me? A couple of weeks later they will wonder if a celebrity had plastic surgery.

Of course some stars look anorexic to you. Perhaps they are and perhaps it is because you freaking go off on them when they gain five pounds.

It is so hard being a mom to a little girl. I want her to have a positive body image without being obese. Even though I am a fatty, I try not to talk about dieting in front of her. I don’t want her to think that will always be a part of her life.

Oh, and a special thanks to the outrageous BMI guidelines that doctors use. It’s nice to know that a man who is 6’0″ tall needs to weigh 140 lbs – 177 lbs. Take Logan Thomas, he is 6’6″ and 262 lbs. According to BMI, he is obese.

Insurance companies love BMI. They can charge Logan out the wazoo for life insurance since he is so obese. Meanwhile a crack addict, unless he has to do a blood or urine test, can get cheap life insurance.

I think doctors need to come up with a healthy standard to follow that takes in muscle, fat, bone structure, etc to come up with a healthy weight range and stick to it. I am tired of this crap.

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