My daughter is pulling away – and that’s OK

My eldest is 11. She is really an awesome kid. In less than a month she starts middle school. She’s excited. I am a little scared because I remember middle school. It’s when kids who were close for the past six years or longer start to pull away from each other. Hormones take over what little logic there is in the kids’ brains and there will be arguing, tears, and overall days where I will want to put my kid in a box, leave her outside of K-Mart with a sign that says “Free to a good home.”

Right now, I am enjoying the fact that she needs me to tuck her in at night. That she tells me everything that is going on with her physically and emotionally. That she tells me about crushes without me asking. That she loves the same music as me. That she looks up to me.

But I feel some of that slipping away. And it’s OK.

During vacation there were days when she would just go off from everyone and watch videos on her tablet. I would go to see her and ask if she was OK. She said she was OK. She just wanted to be alone. She laid in bed for a day just daydreaming. Once again, she was OK, but she asked to be alone. She asked me to shut the door after I left at bedtime. After getting home, she went to a week-long camp for middle through high schoolers. I stopped by last night because I forgot to give her sunscreen. She was playing a game with some older kids. She explained the game to me, but went on playing.

However, I know that when she comes home from camp, she will want me to snuggle with her. She will still want me to pick a stuffed animal out for her at bedtime. She will still tell me of any crushes. She and I will still sing the same songs. But one day these things will be no more too.

And it’s OK.

Because in order for her to survive in this world, she needs to pull away and be her own person. She needs to do that sooner so she can have a clue when she goes away to college and to become a responsible adult.

As long as she knows that I will still be here for her, to gossip, sing, talk, and snuggle.

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Sporting the Community

“…pervasive emphasis on performance over mere fun and exercise has driven many children to focus exclusively on one sport from an early age, making it harder for all sports to attract casual participants. But the decline of baseball as a community sport has been especially precipitous.”

I had this conversation not too long ago with another parent. She has explained to me whylacrosse baseball is lacking in our area, and she pretty much said what is in this article. There is one person in particular she blamed on the lack of baseball. This coach was so competitive and elitist that other teams floundered. There was a good-sized baseball league in town a couple of years ago, but apparently he ran the league out of town.

Other sports in our area are seeing more of an increase in participation, (lacrosse, football, soccer), because baseball and softball are all travel and competition. I was surprised to see no slow-pitch softball at all for girls. Baseball teams are scarce.

In addition, there is a bit of an economic gap as well. I know with our local lacrosse league – you can rent equipment cheap from the league. And with the girls’ leagues at least, there are a lot of parents willing to carpool and help get kids to the games. These are community teams!

I understand if your kid has the talent that you want them to step it up. I know several parents with really talented kids who will go far. It’s not fair for a kid who wants to compete and has the skills to stay in a regular league. Not fair to the other players too. I think DD is good at lacrosse and a little raw in basketball, and we are willing to step up to a more competitive league if SHE wants to. But I am not relying on her to become the next big star, Olympian, or get a full athletic scholarship, (although I joke about that).


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All the Heroes

Yes, it’s that yearly post about April 16, 2007.

Today I want to talk about the heroes of that day.

L_librescuLiviu Librescu – Born in 1930 in Romania, he was a survivor of the Holocaust, refused allegiance to the Communist Party, fled to Israel, and then was killed on April 16, 2007 at Virginia Tech. This brave man was killed as the thing tried to come into his classroom. Librescu held the door to his classroom closed and 22 of his 23 students managed to escape.


L_porteMatthew La Porte – A 20 year old from Dumont, New Jersey was a political science major and a member of the Corps of Cadets. He was in room 211 of Norris Hall that day. When the shooting started, his professor said to move to the back of the class. La Porte instead went to the front of the room to put a heavy desk in front of the door. When the thing came in the classroom, La Porte charged at the thing. He slowed down the thing and saved several lives in the process, giving others time to save their own lives. He was awarded the the Airman’s Medal by the Air Force. The Airman’s Medal is the most distinguished honor that the Air Force confers for heroism outside of combat, typically involving the voluntary and selfless risk of life.
There were others, Trey Perkins, Derek O’Dell, and Katelyn Carney were in their German class when the thing came in and began shooting. The thing left only to come back. These students had nothing with which to block the door, so they put their feet against the door to keep the thing from coming in again.


Then there are the heroes I personally know – Blacksburg police officers, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputies, and the Blacksburg Rescue Squad members. These are people I work with, hang out with, and joke with on a regular basis. They did not hesitate to go in and do what needed to be done. These are the people Mister Rogers talked about when he said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

l-runningl-rescue l-hugging

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You are not a bad parent

mugWhen my daughter was born, I felt this need to be a stay at home mom. That was the best for the child, right? So I stayed at home and was miserable. But if I worked, my child would be in daycare! She would be taken care of by a STRANGER! After all the best caregiver is her mom. Instead of working, for two years I fought off bouts of depression because I didn’t get a shower in or the house looked like I had six kids instead of one.

I saw working moms all dressed well, hair perfect, makeup on talking about things that didn’t involve poop, diapers, spit up, and nap times. Hell, they were showered before noon! I was insanely jealous! I compared my life to theirs, and knew I had to change.

So I started working part time which led to full time and I was much happier. I felt guilty for not feeling guilty about leaving her with someone else. But you know, I should feel guilty because I should stay at home and sacrifice my life for my daughter. But instead, I was going to show my daughter how women can have it ALL! I was going to exercise, eat great, spend quality time with her, and come home in my dress clothes and be that powerful example.

Except, I ate like crap, didn’t dress up more than I needed to, and makeup? Pffft. I kept comparing myself to others and it was wrong. Everyone’s circumstances are different. I was starting to accept this fact.

Then came social media, and the site from the devil himself, Pinterest.

Every week on Twitter or Facebook there is a story about how to be a better parent. Here are ten things to do to make sure your child does not end up a serial killer, (oh that would make a great blog post). STEM classes your daughter MUST take to get a head start. Why your child needs constant reassurance. What words you should NEVER say in front of your child. Activities your child should be doing. How not to over-schedule your child. Why YouTube is bad for your children. Why your child’s favorite video game that they eat, breathe and sleep is good for them. Why you should co-sleep. Why you shouldn’t co-sleep. Why your kids shouldn’t eat fast food. Why you should grow all your own food and make the kids eat a pound of kale a day.

Then there is Pinterest.

I wish I could find the person who started Pinterest, pin him to my freshly-decorated-painted-with-paint-I-made-myself-from-the-tears-of-a-unicorn wall, and insert into his nether regions long pointy needles I bought for sale while extreme couponing. Then I would bake the perfect gluten-free birthday cake from all natural ingredients I grew myself, and smash it in his perfect face – all while wearing a lovely homemade dress from the cat fur my cat sheds so that poor children in Bangladesh don’t have to die in sweatshops making clothing for overweight Americans.

I tried reading all those parenting articles. I signed up for Pinterest. Then I got freakishly stressed out.

See what they don’t tell you in these articles is that children are not perfect little snowflakes. They scream, they holler, they don’t want to do homework, they hate your cooking, and if you confuse Elsa with Ana on that perfect Pinterest cake it’s World War III.

It is absolutely maddening.

But here is the thing. I started thinking about all my parents did for my siblings and me. There are things I didn’t like. I didn’t like not going to PTA meetings, I wanted them at ALL my events, I wanted them to volunteer at school… which now I understand why they didn’t. But I don’t remember the birthday cakes, the food my mom cooked, what they did or did not say to me that nowadays would be considered a fatal parenting flaw. I remember love. I remember a home where my friends loved to hang out because my dad was funny. I remember them being there when I needed them most.

Our kids see that we are not perfect. Our house looks like it should be on Hoarders. Sometimes we yell, get angry, and eat food that is bad for us. There are days, (OK, I admit, everyday), when I want to nap and let the kids play video games or watch YouTube Minecraft videos all day. There are days when we give in to the kids and let them get their way. There are days we come home from work and are grouchy and it affects how we treat our kids. We are not superheroes or super-parents. There are days we just don’t want to be a parent.

But our family talks, communicates, and hugs. Our kids know that they can tell us anything. And if they grow up to be good people, I will be happy.

And nothing compares to that.


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Not Good Enough

A few months ago I went to a luncheon where you learn how to brand yourself. We had to team up with another participant and since I had no partner, I ended up with the leader. We had to take three minutes to talk about ourselves. Then the listener had to write down what they heard and the speaker had to write down what they thought.

When I was finished, I filled out my part. Yeah, I talked too much about myself. That is what I thought. The speaker said, “You have a great sense of humor, but you think you are not good enough.”

Feather – knock me over.

It is so true. One of the things I said was that no matter how hard I try to climb up the career ladder, I will make it to the top three finalists and never make number one. Never. It has been three years and I am still here, doing what I love, but for less pay and no chance at moving up in the organization. I also no longer get to write. There are other reasons I want to move on, but that is a start.

But I never seem to be able to get to number one. And try as I may to hide that I think I am not good enough, I struggle when each day goes by and the phone doesn’t ring. I obsessively check my mailbox to see if there is a rejection letter. I check the website for the organization to see if the position has been filled. And for the past three years, I have always been proven right – that I am just not good enough.

I take every rejection personally. I take every non-phone call personally. I even said I would be on a local softball team as a pitcher since they needed one and never got a call back.

It is not that I am insanely competitive. It is not that I need to be the best of the best. But what I want relies on others and on their timeline and it is the lack of control that is killing me.

Because in their minds, I am just not good enough.

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Trip of a Lifetime – Japan!

I have been back in the States for three weeks and have yet to blog about my trip to Japan!

A little background
My brother-in-law is in the Navy and he and my sister-in-law have lived all over the world. When they lived in cool places like Sicily or Hawaii, I had young children and really couldn’t go there. And we were getting out of debt.

About two years ago, they moved to Japan. DH and I talked about going, but when we found out they were leaving Japan in winter of 2015, we figured it was now or never. We scraped up the money, had a generous donation, and our awesome families said “yes” to watching the kids. So off we went.

As we planned to travel, we chose July because of the kids’ school schedule. It is the beginning of the rainy season and it is hot and humid in Japan at that time, but it was better than never going. And yes, it was overcast most of the time, but the only thing that affected was our view of Mt. Fuji, (we barely saw it through binoculars).

We took three planes over. I won’t bore you with the delays and sprint outside LAX to the international terminal, (I HATE LAX), but here are some things to know. If you are obese like me or over six feet tall, pay for the premium economy seat. Yes, it’s more, but you will be MUCH more comfortable on the 11 hour flight. I needed the lap belt extender and DH had his legs cramped. We had more leg room on the puddle jumper from Dulles to Norfolk!

When we got to Japan and met up with SIL, we hit the ground running. It was the best way to go!

We stayed in the Kanagawa Prefecture. Closest large city is Yokohama and Tokyo is not far at all. Most of the time we traveled by train, but we walked a lot, took the car a few places, and caught the bus a couple of times. There is one card you purchase and add yen as need be and that works on the buses and trains. Also in some vending machines.

Taya Cavern
Our first trip was with some other Americans to Taya Cavern. I wish I could show you the sculptures. They are breathtaking, but no cameras were allowed in the caverns. It’s an extensive cave carved into a hillside on the outskirts of Kamakura by Shingon Buddhist monks from 1192 until 1720. We got up close to antique carvings of Buddhas, Buddhist saints, fantastic creatures, and Mantras carved in kanji and Sanskrit.

There is a flame in memoriam of those killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and stones from ground zero.

Goddess of Mercy 
A visit to the Goddess of Mercy in Ōfuna Kannon. Construction of the Temple began in 1929 by the Sōtō (Zen) Buddhist sect. The outline of the statue was complete by 1934 but work was suspended at the outbreak of the Pacific War. The Ofuna Kannon Society continued construction work in 1954 and the Temple was finally completed in 1960. The statue construction is that of sections of poured concrete and was performed entirely by hand. No concrete pump trucks were used. The surface of the statue is oft painted white. The statue itself contains a small museum and shrine and both are open for viewing.

Next day we caught the bus to Kamakura. There is a touristy shopping area there with a Miyazaki store with Totoro, Kiki, Ponyo and more!


At the end of shopping area is Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. It is a beautiful area with shrines and gardens. This shrine was originally built in 1063 and was moved it to its present location in 1191. The lotus wasn’t quite in bloom, but we did get to see one.

There was a large wooden structure with barrels of sake, known as sakedaru. The decoration of barrels known as kazaridaru signifies a spiritual connection and relationship between brewers and shrines for prosperity. Most brewers donate these sake barrels to shrines for Shinto ceremonies, rituals and festivals. Japanese believe that sake acts as a symbolic unification of Gods and people. (

On our last day, we headed back to Kamakura and visited the Big BuddhaHe weighsabout 93 short tons and has survived 800 years. Even the great Kanto earthquake in 1923, but it did move him two feet! 

Hiratsuka and the Tanabata Festival
On a rainy day, we went to the Tanabata Festival in Hirstsuka. Many towns had such a celebration, but this was while we were there. It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively). According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar.

The festival was crowded, even though it was raining. It’s like many American festivals, there were balloons, vendors, games, and businesses selling their wares on the sidewalk. Over the streets were displays from local businesses. Some were even animated. And here, like all other places in Japan, the obsession with Disney, especially the movie Frozen, was displayed.

The seaside town is so gorgeous. There is a small park with monkeys and birds where you have a lovely view of the beach. On a clear day you can see Mt. Fuji. We squinted through binoculars and saw the outline of it. Too overcast. :(

Yokohama’s Chinatown
Yokohama is a beautiful port town. It reminds me of my hometown area, only clean. Chinatown is the largest in Asia and one of the largest in the world.

If you EVER go to Yokohama, get the dead skin sucked off your feet by the Kiss Fish! These fish suck the dead skin off of your feet. My husband is extremely ticklish and the fish seemed to love him the most!

Home to a U.S. naval base, many of the vendors here speak English. It was here DH and I had food at a sushi-go-round. Most pieces were under 100 yen ($1).

But I saw something I wanted to do badly that was not a typical touristy thing. We hit the Municipal Disaster Prevention Center. It took a while to find since we did not have internet access and the only thing I found said it was behind city hall. It is geared towards Japanese kids, but we had a blast! The people there do NOT speak English which makes things difficult, (like then they found out that DH was a firefighter and introduced the firefighter who worked to him. It was fun trying to communicate about firefighting). When you come in, there is Japanese firefighting gear. It’s not much different from that we use in the U.S., but they have more repelling gear and no hood. Then we walked over to where you could experience an emergency! First you watch a very animated man on a video explain what to do. Then you sit in a fake kitchen. Suddenly a 8.0 earthquake hits! What to do! We go under the kitchen table. Once it is over we had to go to the stove to turn off the gas. BUT WAIT! There is now a fire in the living room. Scream Kasai (fire)! Grab an extinguisher and put out the fire. Then leave the house down the hallway, but there is smoke everywhere! So crawl your way out. When you are done, you get to watch a video!

As with many large cities, there are several areas of the city. The first day we spent there, we went to Shibuya. When leaving Shibuya station, one of the first things you see is a statue of Hachiko. In 1924, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo, took in Hachikō, a golden brown Akita, as a pet. During his owner’s life, Hachikō greeted him at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925, when Professor Ueno did not return. The professor had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to the train station where Hachikō was waiting. Each day for the next nine years Hachikō awaited Ueno’s return, appearing precisely when the train was due at the station.

Shibuya Station leads to the famous Shibuya crossing. It is one of the, if not the busiest crossings in the world. Of course, when we first got there it wasn’t busy at all. But later that night, we got a spot at the Starbucks overlooking the crossing and got a better idea of the insanity.

We also went to Don Quijote. It’s like Walmart and Spencer’s. On one floor is household items, turn the corner and there are penis-shaped water guns. Then on another floor are kids’ toys and bikes. One floor had a special area just for adults. It was wild!

In the middle of Shibuya is the Meiji Jingu Temple. At many of the temples, people buy ribbons or wooden plaques and leave wishes. Many were for things like health, peace, happiness, but my favorite written by an elementary-aged student said, “I wish that next year I have Mrs Jinks for a techer.”

Takeshita Street is where the young people hang out and where you can see interesting fashion. Not too many were out that evening, but we did see some BDSM-type clothing on display in a store. OK, maybe not that bad, but pretty close.

A trip to Tokyo is not complete without a trip up the Tokyo Skytree! The tallest tower in the world and the second tallest structure. The height of 634 m (2,080 ft) was selected to be easily remembered. The figures 6 (mu), 3 (sa), 4 (shi) stand for “Musashi”, an old name of the region where the Tokyo Skytree stands. On a lower level is a glass bottom where you can stand and look down at the tiny figures below.

From where we headed over to  Sensō-ji, a Buddhist temple dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon with a large lantern. 11.7 meters tall, 11.4 meters wide and covers and area of 69.3 meters.

We went to see the Imperial Palace. Well, the gates to the palace anyway. You cannot see the castle at all for security reasons. There was a really neat bridge there, Meganebashi (Eyeglass Bridge). The bridge reflects in the water and looks like eyeglasses. What was interesting, besides the palace guards taking a nap, were the men on the grounds who raked the gravel and were pulling out grass from the area by hand!

But the most fun, for me, was in Akihabara. It’s the electronics district and there are video game stores everywhere and a photographer’s Mecca, Yodobashi-Akiba. Cameras everywhere! We hit the Gundam Cafe and then walked the streets of Akihabara. What a treat! We saw maids promoting the Maid Cafe. we saw this really cute girl walking back and forth down the street with an average-looking guy. Due to the way they were walking and interacting, we think maybe she was hired to be seen with him. Later, SIL and I got our picture taken while putting our heads in one of the many photo displays there when a woman and man came out of a building. She walked in one direction counting her yen while he walked in another direction. Not sure what that was all about for real, but I can take a guess. We also saw a boy band singing on the street.

OMG! Everything was YUMMY! Japanese curry! Indian curry! Pizza! Sushi! Kabobs! Pepper Lunch!

Japan Love
As someone with slight OCD, except when it comes to housework, I loved Japan.

The trains run on time, and if you miss one, another is on the way! When you are on the train, people mind their own business. They rarely talk, unless they are with a friend or family member. And cell phone use (for calls) is NOT allowed.

On trains, they nap! Any country where naps are not frowned upon is fine by me!

There are few trash cans in public places because they recycle or burn all their trash.

When at a crosswalk, the Japanese will cross only when the walk sign is green.

There is no tipping in restaurants. They seat you and you call them over when you are ready to order.

Kids are allowed to be kids. They are super well-behaved, but you rarely see them being scolded in public.

If you don’t speak Japanese, no worry. The menus at most restaurants have pictures!

My SIL’s shower was in an entire room! It rocked!

People often asked us what our favorite part of the trip was. I could only say “people watching.” Seriously. I loved all of Japan, with a few exceptions.

Grumpy Gaijin
Squatty potties. I love my western toilets, but some places only had squatty potties. They are supposed to be better for you, but I took my chances with the western toilets, (which are much better than toilets here – bidet, air dryer, and a button that makes a flushing sound so people can’t hear you toot).

No soap. For a country that is so clean, they do not have soap in many bathrooms. We had hand sanitizer everywhere we went.

Men’s bathrooms. Some men’s bathrooms had little privacy – from the outside!

Humidity. I grew up in a very humid area, but my GOD it has nothing on Japan! People carry little washcloths with them everywhere they go so they can wipe their faces.

Little handicapped-accessibility. SIL lived at the top of a hill. To get there and to the train and bus station required a lot of steep steps. In the major cities things were more accessible. Buses and trains are, but getting there can be an issue. Some train stations required escalators or stairs. Some had elevators. Many may have, but I didn’t see one most times.

No benches. There are few places to sit except in train stations. Be ready to stand a lot.

Now I loved Japan, but you may not want to go if you are claustrophobic or agoraphobic. The public transit system is crowded and some places are small.

If you decide to go to Japan:

  • Months before your visit, make sure any medication you have is allowed in the country. Many are, but under a month’s worth – including contacts. You may have to fill out a form, snail mail it to Japan, and have it snail mailed back to you. 
  • Check into your wireless carrier’s international plan options. We did not get a plan for the trip since we had a guide and internet access at SIL’s home, BUT it would have been helpful in some cases.
  • Let your bank know your plans, otherwise your debit card (sorry we don’t do credit) may be rejected. We did and they forgot about my card, but DH’s worked fine.
  • Learn Japanese everyday customs. For example, when paying at a business, you put the card or yen on a small tray. They will return your change or card there.
  • Go for more than a week (not including travel time).
  • Airports may not have the best exchange rates. Check in advance.
  • Credit cards are fine in most places. However, if you have yen, you will never go thirsty. There are drink machines everywhere.
  • Do not go during the rainy season, but at the same time, beware of very busy times, like when the Cherry Blossoms bloom.
  • Plan where you want to go and map it out ahead of time. You need to know the train schedules, stops, and how to get where you want to go.
  • On the international part of the flight, upgrade to at least Economy Plus for the leg room – and slippers!
  • Get a guide if possible for part of the trip. We were fortunate to have SIL. We didn’t need her all the time, but she planned many of our outings and helped us from looking like a stupid Gaijin.
  • Bring a washcloth for the summer heat and to wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
  • Bring hand sanitizer everywhere.
  • If you go to rural areas, bring toilet paper or potty wipes.
  • Bring comfortable shoes.
  • If someone comes up to you voluntarily and speaks in English, chances are they are practicing their English. I say this because a woman started speaking to me and SIL and she asked where we were from. I got all chatty. She smiled a lot. Later I realized she was practicing her English. I should have kept it simple.
  • If they speak English fluently, don’t be an ass and act like they barely speak it when speaking to them. DH saw an English woman do that to a barista at Starbucks.
  • Don’t be loud or obnoxious. Be respectful and understand you are a visitor.
  • There are many places where you cannot take pictures. Looks for the signs with the red line through a camera.
  • Be adventurous with the food. It’s great! But keep in mind beef that is not expensive may be something like beef tongue.
  • Bow. To thank people, bow. Even if you cannot speak any Japanese, by bowing you show your thanks.
  • Japanese is a difficult language to learn. Download or buy a translation app for  help.
  • People will greet you when you come into a store or will try to give you things on the street. You don’t have to accept. Just bow and politely wave your hand in a “no” gesture.
  • Do not tip in restaurants.
  • There are no refills on drinks except water in restaurants.
  • And drink a lot of water. Japanese tap water is just fine. Bring a water bottle.
  • Do stuff off the beaten path.
  • Always look up and look down alleys. Stores and restaurants are not always on the main street or on the first floor.
  • And have FUN!
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Never saw it coming

One of my favorite skits from “Saturday Night Live” when it was good was the “Who Shot Buckwheat” skit. What made it so funny at the time was when people who knew the killer, John David Stutts, were asked “Do you believe he [Stutts] killed Buckwheat, they all said, “Sure! That’s all he ever talked about.” It was a great play on the old interviews about serial killers and assassins where neighbors would say that they killer was such a good kid.

Funny then. But now?

There was another killing spree this weekend. The killer* used a knife and a gun to kill people because he was pissed off at life. Timeline to ‘Retribution': Isla Vista attacks planned over years He starting spiraling out of control three years ago. Yet, very little was done. Everything was passed on and passed on and passed on.

Does this sound familiar?

September 16, 2013 – Washington Navy Yard 

December 14, 2012 – Newtown, CT

July 20, 2012 – Aurora, CO

April 12, 2012 – Oakland, CA

January 8, 2011 – Casas Adobes, AZ

April 16, 2007 – Blacksburg, VA

February 23, 2001 – Isla Vista

There are those who want to blame the guns/politicians. There are those who want to blame video games. No matter what the weapon of choice, it will get in the hands of the person who wants to do harm. If not, another approach will be taken. But that is a post for another day.

Pure and simple, I blame these selfish assholes who think that killing those they perceive have dissed them for everything.


However, that being said, has our mental health system failed? Just 50-60 years ago, people would have been put in a mental institution for epilepsy. Now it seems that those, like myself, who realize they need help are gladly getting the help they need, while those who need the help the most are just sliding by. Maybe even playing the system.

I hate this expression, but it is a slippery slope. Do we want to institutionalize someone who rants one day about how much their life sucks and how they wish people would just go away forever? Or do we continue to rely on the police to go by an unstable person’s home and have that person play off as being just fine?

But let’s see what we can do to prevent the next mass killing by opening our eyes and hearts to help those who will not help themselves.

*Note: I refuse to name the killers.


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Rotten Salad Days

Twenty years ago, I graduated from university. Seeing so many people post on social media about their graduation, a child’s graduation, or that of their students, made me burn the wax that’s supposed to be poetic about my years as an undergrad.

Basically, my college years sucked.

Sure, I made friends, dated a couple of guys, and was really involved in a student organization that, had it not been for that, I think I never would have survived.

A lot of it was me. Well, most of it was me. I had no study skills to speak of, high school was easy for me. And what I found later to be depression/anxiety, accelerated my pride to a point where I made my academic life a lot harder than it needed to be.

I came to university to study film in the Department of Communication Studies. Film was like the redheaded stepchild of Comm. Not a lot of classes and options. But I digress.

As a liberal arts person, I had certain core classes I had to take, math, science, and other crap I knew I would never use. My adviser was new and taught PR of all things and wasn’t much of a help. Instead of taking rocks for jocks, I decided I would take Chemistry. I would learn a programming language like FORTRAN. I would take the harder courses because I was proud and because I did not want to take the easy way.

What the hell was wrong with me?

Of course, my core curriculum grades sucked. I failed FORTRAN, partially because I had no idea what I was doing and partially because I dealt with two deaths that spring semester. The great news was that I could use the Freshman Rule and have the grade and course dropped.

But, you know, pride.

So my GPA suffered. The girl with the 3.8 in high school, now had a 2.5 or something stupid like that.

I remember having stomach pains all the time like I was going to throw up. The only thing that made me feel better was being around people I loved and sleeping. I went to the WONDERFUL socialized health center where I was asked if I was pregnant (no), was I rushing a sorority (no), and here is some Sudafed and vitamin C. Take this to feel better. Misdiagnosis #1.

Later I enjoyed the free healthcare of the military since my dad was retired Marine Corps Reserve. That was a blast. I went to them with the symptoms and in return, was given my first pap smear without being told what was going on. Nice! Misdiagnosis #2.

Truth be told, I don’t know if having a correct diagnosis would have helped anything. It would have explained a lot. Perhaps I would have been easier on myself and would have thought more clearly instead of flailing around with no idea what I was going to do after college. I couldn’t get into graduate school with my poor grades and the only internship I had involved me addressing thank you notes for a news producer at a TV station.

When graduation day came, I threw up. I remember sitting in the Communications ceremony feeling like I was going to pass out. Anxiety. I had no idea.

I envy those who know what they want to do after graduation and go for it. I wish I could go back and do it all again. I think that is why I want to get my Masters and why I want to work in academia. It is a way to make up for my years of stupidity and to help those who are flailing through the process called “college.”

Because I had no diagnosis.

Because I had no idea.

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Update: Justine Elizabeth Swartz Abshire

Justine Swartz Abshire
Justine Swartz Abshire

I have been very behind on my posts and I apologize.

In the early morning hours of November 3, 2006, 27-year-old Justine Abshire called her husband Eric at 1:19 a.m. to say that her car broke down on Taylorsville Road in Barboursville, VA near the Greene County line. He hopped on his motorcycle to get her. When he got to her, she was dead. Forgetting he had his cell phone, he ran to nearby homes looking for someone to call 911. The call was placed at 1:57 a.m. When authorities arrived, they declared her dead at the scene. The victim of multiple trauma from being struck by a vehicle.

On October 25, 2011, her husband Eric was charged with her murder.

Life behind bars: Eric Abshire defiant at sentencing


Here is an email I received:
Hi …
I wanted to post a comment on your page regarding the Justine Abshire
murder. I followed the instructions and gave the requested information, but when I tried to post it denied my doing so because of some nonsense about proxy servers… Here is my comment, and I would appreciate it being posted.
Thank you,
Richard Louis Newman

It is tragic that this young woman lost her life. My heart goes out to her friends and family. But with fierce conviction, I must also say, I do not believe, based on the evidence I have been able to find, that Eric Ashmore should have been found guilty of murdering his wife. The jury that convicted him, went well beyond “reasonable doubt” to pull this conviction out of their hats. They completely failed in their duty. And the judge who allowed this should be thrown off the bench.

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