Friday, August 29, 2008

A Kickin' First Week...

Gavie started kindergarten this week. He now possesses two very important pieces of information, guaranteed to help him through pretty much everything in life:

1) You can count to 100 by tens.
2) If you kick hard enough, you win.

Um, yeah. You read that second one right.

Four words: four-boy kicking match. They started it. He finished it. My tall, quiet son apparently has no tolerance for foolishness.

All I can say is thank God we haven't started karate lessons yet...

I Don't Know

Don't ask me what I just did to myself, but I signed up for a three-year Doctor of Science program at Robert Morris University in Moon Township, PA.

After the thumping headache of terror passed Monday morning and we got into the meat of the program, I think I made the right decision. Aw, hell, no. I know I made the right decision.

Now, with seven days under the belt, eleven books to read, and a stack of handouts enough to fell a small forest, I'm counting the days until our next meeting... and hoping I can managed my time enough to get everything done before said meeting...

We are a group, I suspect, of quiet talents. We are understated when we speak of ourselves. Perhaps that is a paradox for a group of alphas, but perhaps not. We shall see, I suppose. There are twenty-two of us in Cohort 10. We are not particularly loud. Yet. We have not put holes in walls. Yet. We haven't gone around the mental bend, either. Yet.

Don't hold your breath on that last one.

We have now discovered several truths and we now live in anticipation of Fred's stories that seem to go with everything and wonder when (if?) we'll become a part of them, we now wonder if we're paying enough attention to the world and if Skovira has shirts that aren't blue, and we now live in horror of accidental plagiarism. (A dubious thank you to my profs for adding to my alpha-personality-induced neurosis.)

We have also discovered that this is a journey that we cannot take alone because, well, to paraphrase the wise philosopher Buffet: we don't know.

(First posted on the RMU Cohort 10 blog.)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Guest Post: Four Fingers Speaks

After reading each posting in the past few days, from the sentimental to the irreverent, allow a rookie’s perspective…

Things I learned on my summer vacation:

  • The term “vacation” is used very broadly and is sadly misunderstood.
  • Weeks are counted as years.
  • Filters – mental, physical and verbal, are left at home for “The One True Week.”
  • Four fingers – I can’t remember, but it was a good night.
  • Polmounter is, in fact, a person -- and I feel personally responsible for her well being (rookie over-achiever though she be).
  • Golf is a lot more interesting than I would have imagined.
  • Much can be said with duck tape plastered on one’s face.
  • Plumbers can leverage ridiculous ads for profit.
  • RONA is not a person – but can be a nightmare for the ill-informed.
  • “Your worst nightmare” can be a teddy bear in disguise (thank you for your reassurance, Kevin).
  • Kids take their roles very seriously.
  • Vincent is wise and committed – or should be.
  • Sleep … um… I forget what that is so don’t count on it!
  • Nicknames are, usually, a compliment or accurate description.
  • Trial by fire is a mixed blessing and rookie is neither age nor gender specific.
  • Not taking oneself too seriously is a blessing – and necessity.
  • “Behind the scenes” means that the sunrise and sunset are possible!
  • Junk can be useful in its final hour.
  • The “real world” is disguised as a simulation.
  • Winning is not the prize it’s cracked up to be – it can be “the kiss of death” predictor of things to come.
  • For week III “The one true week,” one can be whomever they wish to be - and get away with it!

Thanks for the memories, the humor and the education and thanks for letting this “rookie” play.

“Stelle” a.k.a. Four Fingers

Saturday, August 02, 2008

TOTW, explained... sorta

Week III is known for its tendency towards volume, for its creative use of the English language, and for its absolute lack of comportment that makes lesser "weaks" cringe. We are as cohesive as any other "weak," but we have a longevity that surpasses.

We call ourselves "Week III, The One True Week."

We gather every night in the hospitality suite and drink a little and laugh a lot. On Friday night, some of us went to the Cell Block, as dance club two blocks away from the hotel. We danced a bit and drank a few. I officially doubled the number of shots that I've drank in my life. I'm up to four. Total.

Before leaving, two of us opted to have a slice of pizza and to watch the crowd from the third floor. (Let me tell you, after watching the hook-ups, the gyrations, and the preening, I was once again reminded of how glad I was not to be in the chaos of single-hood.)

We ate our pizza (which was rather good) and spent our time analyzing the dancing going on below.. and giving a running commentary of mating habits of the various human beings.

Todd and I were also wondering if we could run fast enough should he drop the "necklace" of neon glow-stix (made from the stix that were in the shots the lot of us downed) on some hapless soul below. It was pretty likely that a game of ring toss would not be appreciated.

It was a good end to a great week.

The e-mails are already flying from computer to computer as we rehash and remember the PFEW 2008's One True Week. We talk about how we really do have trouble articulating it. For that, I offer this public reply...

Dear Fellow Week III'ers:

Actually, gang, we CAN put it all into words... the problem is that it always sounds like a week of debauchery, creative profanity, and behavior which is so far from proper comportment that the Holiday Inn keeps moving us father and father away from the other paying guests.

And yet we keep coming back (and they keep LETTING us come back) for more... must have been the kool-aid.

I can't stop smiling down here. Even as I was greeted by seventeen binders on my desk, a stack of evaluations, and 30 term papers, I couldn't stop smiling. When I was told that I looked happy and relaxed, I said thank you. When asked where I was for the last week, I said econ camp. Man, does that end a conversation quickly! Gets you funny looks, too.

Econ camp and relaxing are not words that one would put together in the same sentence. Somehow, though, we manage it. To that end, we rock. No wonder we're the One True Week.

The One True Week

Well, readers, just spent the last week at Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week. For the last few years, I've been trying to find just the right words to explain just why I give up a week of my life to go volunteer at what is essentially econ camp. If I stop to think about the vacation days, the drive, the money, and the time spent, I can't quite figure it out myself.

But that's logic speaking, and -- frankly -- logic doesn't seem to get me very far sometimes. Particularly when it comes to this week.

I could tell you about the friendships and how these men and women are some of the most amazing people that I've ever met, but it all sounds hollow because it doesn't do any of them justice.

I could tell you about the kids I had this year: seventeen teens that, just seven days ago, I never heard of let alone met. Those seventeen young adults are the best of the best in this state. They are the ones who don't need adults to guide them, not much anyway. These are the ones who just need the examples set and the occasional kick in the right direction. They'll go to college, they'll be successful. What they don't "get" now, more than likely will be "gotten" later as real life kicks in even further. But that sounds too teacher-ish, and "teacher" is certainly not what I'm aiming for.

I could even mention how this week centers me, grounds me, and reminds me of why I'm here. I could talk about how healing it was to return in '06 after I buried Dad. Somewhere, too, I could slip in mention of how Junior Achievement changed my life and that this is how I return the favor. But how might I do that without sounding maudlin or cliched?

Time after time, it's not enough.

You see, it's not about what is done. It's what is experienced. It's about being with people who are exactly what they are, no pretense.

On Wednesday night, we honored those volunteers, a.k.a. company advisers, who had reached their ten- and fifteen-year marks. I sat there and watched the crowd, taking in the old faces as well as the new. As always, I marvelled at everything that this week does for us, perhaps what it does to us.

It's the group, in truth. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but PFEW Week III by any other name simply isn't the same.

So this time, rather than try to sum it all up in quasi-brilliant prose, I'm going for truth: I have, I believe, grown up immeasurably since I first drove to Williamsport, PA, as a twenty-five-year-old first-year teacher fresh from the trenches of a public high school. At dinner this past Wednesday, Witmer joked that the Week III Company Advisers have watched me grow up emotionally. It gained a chuckle from the group and conversation moved on, but he was rather accurate. I think so anyway. For certain, readers, the nervous little girl I was a decade ago is no longer anywhere to be seen.

It was a remark that gave me pause, and I've been mulling it over ever since and turning it about in my head alongside the question of just why I am so illogical when it comes to PFEW Week III.

Then, finally, the so-called illogical reason that I come to PFEW finally hit me: I go to PFEW because I leave PFEW wanting to be a better person. I like the woman I am when I'm there.

It's something that I affectionately blame every single one of my fellow Week III'ers for that.