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Here’s a Sincere, Heartfelt Apology…Oh, And Something Else

Finally getting back to one of the real reasons I started this blog – collecting and recapping various random memories.

I received some plays the other day via InterLibrary Loan, and I was reading down the cast list of one of them when I noticed a particular name, an unusual name, a last name. The name of someone I went to elementary school with, and around whom this story revolves.

He transferred to my school when we were in fifth grade. I won’t say his name, so let’s just call him…Levi Dungarees, since despite wearing a spiky silver belt to complement his spiky silver-blond hair, his jeans sagged so low you could see exactly which Looney Tunes character was on his boxer shorts every day (it was usually Taz). Remember, this was the nineties, when such things were in. I’m glad that my mom refused to let me wear jeans that sagged like that, otherwise I’d forever remember what underwear I was wearing that day.

Anyway…

I wasn’t popular at all, and Levi, even though he’d only been in school a month or two, was already one of the most popular kids in the class. And of course, he tormented me pretty much every day, making fun of my hair, my clothes, everything about me. Especially my thick glasses. One day, he was chosen to hand out the hot lunch stickers (in my school, when we went to the cafeteria, if you were getting hot lunch you wore a sticker saying which meal you were signed up to get), and instead of peeling it off and handing it to me or sticking it on my shirt like a normal, kind human being, he peeled it and stuck it on my glasses. Right across the bridge of my nose. Of course, he thought it was funny, but I actually couldn’t see. He tried to then peel it off, and it wouldn’t come off, so I had to spend the next 10 minutes blindly chipping away at the residue of the sticker until my teacher let me go to the bathroom and attempt to soak the rest of it off in the sink.

In October, we Jews celebrate Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, when we’re supposed to ask forgiveness from our fellow man and atone for our sins, among other things. In Hebrew class, our teacher gave us an assignment to write an apology note to someone else in the class. Of all people, who did Levi decide to write to, and hand deliver to?

Me.

He gave me the note to read, and it was actually quite nice. In it, he apologized for putting the sticker on my glasses, and for teasing me in front of all the other boys. I thought it was sweet, and I thanked him and accepted the apology.

But with someone like Levi, you know that something else is up.

After I finished reading the note, he said something like…

“I’m really sorry. But look, I just want to tell you three things about yourself that you need to change, if you want people to be nicer to you…”

I don’t remember what those three things were – it was probably about wearing better clothes or stop using big words or something – but I kept thinking, “so this is what he really had in mind to tell me when he wrote that note.” I nodded along with this impromptu lecture, more or less zoning out, and probably responding with something like, “okay, I understand,” or something sheepish. Because the whole time he was talking (and even now, when I think of it) I’m all…

Image result for what a load of crap rachel

Seriously…if you’re that garbage-y of a person that you see an apology note as an excuse to shit all over them, don’t write the note. As a matter of fact, don’t exist at all.

If I could redo that moment, I would have probably done something differently, maybe said…”here’s three things about you that I don’t like” or maybe….”hold that thought”, and then called over a teacher or someone else – anyone else – to listen to what he was saying, and been like “okay, here’s someone you can complain to, because I don’t care” (even though I was 10 years old so I probably kind of did care).

A non-apology apology is chicken shit, and I have another story about that for another time. But a seemingly sincere apology that’s essentially a non-apology apology, and is a cover for backpedaling caveats and side-complaints, that’s worse. It just defeats the whole purpose of apologizing in the first place. So let that be a lesson. When you apologize, be sincere about it, and if you can’t, then don’t. 

And that’s probably the first time I’ve thought about him in about sixteen years.

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Open, Open Damned Bag

It’s been a long week so far, and I haven’t been too inspired to write…well, much of anything. I don’t really know why. But I need to be writing more, in general, so I thought I’d just let out what’s on my mind today.

I feel like I may have written about this before, so apologies if this sounds familiar.

Both yesterday and today, I bought something that came in one of those Zip-Loc pouches that you have to cut or tear before you can easily pop open. Or, I mean, “easily.” Both times, I cut/tore the plastic, only to not be able to get into the bag. One I eventually pried open with my nails, but for the other one I actually had to go in with scissors and make an incision, which meant I had to eat the whole thing because it didn’t really close all the way. Is there a more annoying sensation than wanting to get into a bag that’s designed to be easy to open, and having to resort to near violence to get at the treats inside? What did we do in a past life to deserve this? I mean, if the bag is designed to be easy to open, actually make it easy to open. Or tell us to cut it open.

Anyway. I ended up getting to enjoy the snacks eventually.

How are you doing?

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Staying In and Getting Real: Current Events Roundup, Part One

It seems like I’m always doing “part ones” of series. But anyway, enough about me, so how are you?

I had a pretty productive day, I guess, but instead of going out tonight (it’s a Monday, so it’s par for the course, but whatevs), I decided to stay in, watch TV, and do laundry.

And of course, what is all over the news is pretty shocking. In case you’ve been off the grid for the past few hours, there was an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in England, with 19 people dead, most likely all teenagers or preteens. It’s shocking and troubling, and all over every news and social media platform out there.

But what a lot of people don’t realize is that this week was a gigantic victory elsewhere in the world that no one seems to be celebrating – 82 of the 200+ girls who were kidnapped while taking exams at their school in Nigeria have been found and returned to their parents. When I heard this news yesterday, I was truly elated. I can’t imagine what those families must have been feeling, and the relief that even though the girls endured much horror, they seemed to be happy and healthy to be back with their parents. I couldn’t stop clicking through YouTube videos of the happy reunions. I’ve always thought that if what had happened in Nigeria happened in the USA or Canada or England, the entire world would be up in arms, and not forget after a few days like they did when it happened 3 years ago. I’ve actually been thinking about it since it happened, I even remember where I was when I first found out about it, getting ready to embark on my first Summer Odyssey back in 2014. It was shocking then, and it’s stayed with me consistently ever since. Although I’m really happy that those 82 are back, in addition to the 50 or so others who’ve escaped/been rescued over the years, there are still around 100 unaccounted for, which is way too many people to just forget about.

And just like the parents of the kids who died, were injured, or are MIA in Manchester right now, the parents of the Nigerian girls haven’t forgotten, despite the world seeming to do so.

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Still Hanging On…

It’s been some time since I’ve posted an update, but I’m still hanging in there. I proctored my final final exam for my Theater 120 students yesterday morning, and got a little sunburned walking around town afterwards. Most of the past 48 hours have been spent catching up on chores and getting some reading done. I finished a book and I’m close to finishing another. The one I finished wasn’t that great, but the ones I’m reading now are definitely review-worthy, so stay tuned.

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Oh, Passover…

About 48 hours to go, and although I haven’t quite hit the signs of “too much Passover” yet, I’m getting there.

Literally, I’m thinking about food 24/7, waking up in the night hungry, and pounding down the matzah just wishing I had some hummus. And I can’t even remember the last time I ate hummus.

Anyway, I should probably go and get some reading done for fun in this brief break between writing deadlines.

Keep the faith, celebrate your freedom, and chag same’ach, y’all

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Undergrads These Days

So, this weekend I’m heading up to Eau Claire for the APO Sectionals conference, where I’m teaching 2 workshops on varying topics to (hopefully) a bunch of undergrads.

What’s really getting to me, though, is just how busy these undergrads are. Or seem to be.

I know that college students are at that age where they don’t yet know the meaning of commitment, or how to balance a cost/benefit ratio in life, but I think that it’s somehow gotten worse. Initially, 33 people from the chapter signed up to go to the conference this weekend, and now I think we’ll be lucky if even 15 make it. And there are some other groups that are not going at all, somewhat due to drivers/cost but mostly because of the all-too-vague “I’m busy.”

I mean, seriously. Too busy to take a weekend to have fun, learn, get a change of scenery, and study if you have a spare moment.

I know that school comes first, but usually, the phrase is followed by “I have an exam this week.” Only, it seems like I hear this from someone every week, for one reason or another. In the course I teach, we have just 2 exams – a midterm and a final – and I don’t think that either of them would require a student to spend 48 hours studying. But it seems like all these undergrads, whether they be in APO or students I teach, are constantly having exams in all their other classes, usually math and hard sciences. I constantly get emails from students who were absent that week saying that they had an exam right before and were tired after, or had an exam right after and studied all day right up until the exam started. One student emailed us saying that he had 3 exams in one day.

What is with all these exams? Why do they need to exist?

At this point, I try to put myself in the shoes of an undergrad, thinking back to my undergrad days, which were almost a decade ago. Granted, I did not have much of a social life, but I don’t ever remember having a constant barrage of exams, or a weekend where all I did was study. In fact, to this day, in my ten years of being a student in higher education, I have never even pulled an all-nighter. I remember doing some homework on weekends, but I usually spent at least 1 weekend a semester out of town, like the time I flew down to Baltimore for a play premiere, or when I drove to New York City and back in 48 hours to go to my aunt’s wedding. I worked a lot, and I worked hard, but I managed to have down time in there, which is why I did get down on myself a lot.

But that’s beside the point.

To this end, I look back even further, to my freshman year. I was leaning towards majoring in theater, but I still took the requisite English and Math courses. At the same time, my sister was a junior, majoring in early childhood education. I still remember talking on the phone with my parents my second semester, and my dad told me that I seemed to be working harder as a freshman than my sister had in her three years thus far. Granted, she didn’t graduate with a 3.5 GPA like I did, and she had this thing where she wanted to see how long she could go without going to the library (turns out that she never even set foot in the campus library, in all four years). Still, she got a job offer in her field, right out of college, and has had it ever since. Even though I only graduated with a 3.5, and granted, I didn’t get my dream job, I still somehow managed to muddle through, get my master’s and into my Ph.D. program. Both of the above outcomes, working world and higher ed, were feasible without constant studying or an all-nighter.

So, I don’t know what today’s college students’ excuses are. Unless my sister and I had the world’s easiest majors (which we probably did not) or were complete slackers, it seems to me that undergrads are working harder, and with the way this economy is going, probably for even less satisfying results.

I’m almost at that age where I say “kids these days…” with a dubious look, but something is definitely going on with today’s college students, whether it’s a lack of study skills or just a generation of vindictive professors.

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On Being Needed

The last 48 hours have been among the most tumultuous in my life. Probably in most people’s lives, unless they lived through World War II or the Cuban Missile Crisis or something. In less time than it takes to get a jacket shipped to you from an online retailer, the United States of America has spun out of control. Mostly in its leadership, but also in its media, who can’t make heads or tails of anything anymore, and its people, who have become more divided than ever before. The last 48 hours have basically been a giant parade of insanity and inhumanity, from many different areas but most importantly from the highest office in the nation, which has now been turned into a colossal joke. I mean, it had to happen sometime. I just didn’t think it would be this soon.

What makes a difference is being needed. All weekend, I was off duty. No work or class, so I was free to mope about, play Pong between bed and couch, hide out at Colectivo or Hubbard Avenue Diner. Days spent on social media, eyes glazed over with saturated images, videos with digitally inserted sound bites, nights awake in fear and regret. Today, I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I had to. I didn’t know how I could teach, but it happened. I barely made it to my first class on time, but once I had put my stuff down, I was ready to get my teach on for 2 sections in 2 hours. Then, riding high, I got a tuna melt and a drink at Espresso Royale, hosted office hours (no students visited, but I got some other work/writing done), and trudged through the snow to APO. I gave Cindy a packet of stuff I’d been holding onto for her for a month, and she was so happy to get it. And the chapter prez and I had a long and fruitful conversation on our walk home.

And I felt…needed.

It was a good feeling.

When you are needed, or when someone else needs you, things change. You become more acutely aware of your surroundings. You are given tasks sometimes, and the tools to complete them. Most of all, you get to make a priority out of someone that is almost unknown but just as deserving of attention as any other human, and that is you.

Just being able to feel needed came me to willpower to get through the day.

Here’s Anne Murray