Greetings! Merry post-Christmas, pre-New Year! Here’s a bonus episode of Planet Noun to end the year!
It’s an interview I found so interesting and relevant to the holidays, I couldn’t wait! I adore learning new things, and this was definitely newly-interesting!
Question: What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
When my siblings and I were younger, my parents would always pack a brown paper lunch sack with natural treats…. an apple…an orange… unshelled walnuts, pecans and almonds. One of my parents even snapped a photo of me dancing around our green shag-carpeted living room holding one of those bags on Christmas Day in 19-something-ty something.
That’s an example of a received gift. But what about family traditions surrounding gift-giving to others? What about traditions involving family members who are far away—separated not only by land, but oceans?
Well, I learned something new in this interview with Illinois based photographer and artist Jason Reblando. He wrote a piece for CityLab about special boxes that members of the Filipino diaspora send home each year for Christmas. They’re called balikbayan boxes.
That was Illinois-based photographer and artist Jason Reblando. Find more about what he learned about balikbayan boxes in this piece he wrote for CityLab.
Cancer is rude. It doesn’t ask anyone if they want its company, won’t ask you “Hey, can I come on over to your place and hang out for awhile?”
Nope. That would be polite. (As if you would tell it yes if it did ask–I know I sure wouldn’t.) Cancer just raps on your door, taps on your window pane, and then walks or climbs right into your life. Loud and ill-timed. Of course, there never is a good moment for cancer to come on by. Ever. It just shows up, sits on your couch, puts its muddy shoes on your ottoman, eats up all the food, hides the TV remote and then doesn’t even bother to help clean up.
If cancer were polite, it wouldn’t be cancer. It wouldn’t strike fear and apprehension into the hearts and minds of those who must confront it and those who hope it never comes their way.
For Brandi Garrett and her husband, this battle was a family affair. They and their children embarked on this journey when one of their daughters, Madison, received an unwanted diagnosis. Maddy was three years old when they learned she had cancer… Stage IV.
Listen as Brandi recounts Madison’s journey:
Thanks for listening to Episode 2: Cancer has no couth or sense of timing. Here are a couple-more notes to keep in mind:
The Maddy Wagon is active year round. Visit the website to learn more about the organization started in Madison’s name, and to obtain more information about their yearly gift giveaway –Christmas Maddy Wagons of H.O.P.E., which stands for Happiness, Optimism, Peace and Excitement.
The adage “waste not, want not” applies to Extra Tape from initiative-driven interviews for work that are often recorded on my own time. It’s usually only sound-bites and brief quotes usually see the light of day on air and online. Unfortunately, the result is hearing my angel robe-clad, halo-wearing conscience whispering on both shoulders, in my parents’ voices, reminding me not to waste anything. Food. Money. Audio. It’s all the same.
Hence, this podcast.
So let’s get to Episode 1.
If you’ve ever said “I don’t need a man,” here’s an author who agrees with you… With a slight twist.
Thanks for listening to Planet Noun Podcast!
Learn more about author Carmen Hope Thomas, and her book “Why Marry a Man You Don’t Need,” right here.
A reaction to stories I covered for work earlier this week… and a possible solution to a human problem.
(During a Commute Home)—So my workday was going pretty well, for the most part. And then they sent me to cover the investigation after a shooting. So I drove to the Metro station that straddles the D.C./Maryland line where it happened. Now it wasn’t a gory or bloody area that we could see.Of course, the police kept us far enough away from the crime scene, which was on board a train car. My guess is that it was to preserve the integrity of that crime scene so they can pick up whatever bits and pieces of evidence, gun shells and casings and you know, maybe bits of hair or fragments of flesh or whatever else it is that they needed in order to complete the investigation.And they were looking for three suspects. And according to the pictures that I saw, that Metro pushed out, they seem to be pretty young people.A spokesman for the transit agency told reporters the guy who got shot was a teenager. At that time, I didn’t know exactly how old, if he was a young teen like 13 or 14 or if he was an old teen like 19… That all had to come out in the wash.And it did.It still is coming out in an unfortunate wash.
Paper wrangling will change your life. I must be honest, I haven’t seen any extreme life-changing effects yet… only in my mind. I’m feeling that tidying magic. It’s even affected how I organize my purchase products while standing in the Target checkout line.
I usually just plunked my stuff on the conveyer belt. But I find myself organizing the simplest things to appear neat and tidy. For example, my few items just had to be organized in a perfect rectangle. Maybe that’s a symptom of an underlying disorder. Maybe not, because that sure hasn’t totally invaded my paper organization just yet.
Keep swimming like Dory… just don’t forget your goal. Click To Tweet
If you haven’t hired an organization expert and are thumbing your way through this book day by day as your real life revolves around you (laundry, grocery/brocery shopping, dishes, cooking, Game of Thrones, Insecure, kicking yourself for just this year realizing how bomb The Wire and Treme really were) here are some tips to keep moving forward. They’re not necessarily gospel, just based on my victories and foibles.
Make a daily, doable list of what you will accomplish each day. Make each task bite-sized. That way, it won’t be overwhelming for you. If you want to focus on one thing focus on one. I’d recommend no more than three things.
Focus on the list each day. The book recommends doing the discarding “in one go,” but that isn’t always practical for folks whose lives involve many moving parts. If “in one go” doesn’t work for you, break up the KonMari list into mini sections, and tackle those bite-sized items “in one go.” Gobble them like mini-bite muffins.
Try not to get discouraged. I’m still working on getting my pile of papers shredded. My shredder is wack. I’m working with what I have. Here’s what keeps me going, though. It’s not if the pile is done, but when. There are no ifs ands or buts about this. It’s getting done. If I tackle this thing in bite-sized pieces, while keeping control of my incoming papers, I’ll get there.
Schedule periodic days where you dive into the pile to significantly reduce it and propel you toward the goal. Pick a series of weekends to tackle the mountain if the “one bite a day” method won’t work for you. Just keep moving forward. Get. It. Done.
A one person play. Haven’t been to very many of these, and was a tad skeptical after accepting an opening night invitation to a production about the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
How in the world would a one-man play keep my attention for 90 minutes? I doubted it was possible. But I was open to the idea, else I wouldn’t have left home for Olney Theatre Center as the rain fell that evening.
Curiosity is what drove me through that rainfall. I wanted to see if I’d learn a little something-something new about the first black United States Supreme Court Justice. I had never seen a play about Thurgood Marshall. Never read a book about him either. Never have really done much study about him aside from Brown v. Board of education section in history books, and an occasional browsing of the Internet. Outside of that, my knowledge about this legal icon of the civil rights movement was paltry.
Didn’t know his first name was Thoroughgood before he shortened it to Thurgood.
Didn’t know he was married two times. Didn’t know his first wife died of cancer at age 44. Didn’t know they dealt with a few miscarriages.
I did know he went to Howard University because the University of Maryland law school didn’t admit tax-paying black folks because of their blackness. In place, ostensibly, was a separate but (not) equal facility for training black lawyers. Some tried to pass it off as good enough.
But it wasn’t. And Thurgood Marshall became a force of intention to change that by using the law as a weapon to achieve actual equal justice under the law instead of some oppressive, inequitable, pseudo-facsimile. After all, those words “Equal Justice Under Law” were (and still are) engraved into the front of the Supreme Court building.
The theater was cozy and intimate, and the actor who portrayed Marshall, Brian Anthony Wilson, managed to pull in this one-man-play doubter and convince her that even her (my) attention could be held for 90 minutes with one man talking the whole time.
And Justice Marshall’s theatrical mouthpiece reeled me in from start to finish. First he’s as an older gentleman, slightly lumbering and leaning on a cane, then memories spring forth along with a more animated, agile gait in tandem with lively words, Wilson-as-Marshall leads a trip back in time to his younger years.
Childhood in Baltimore.
Rejection by the University of Maryland School of Law.
Howard University Law days.
The footwork required to build what would become Brown v. Board of Education case.
Marriage and sacrifices.
His first wife’s death.
His second marriage and children.
Supreme Court appointment.
That’s a sketch of what the play covers in 90 minutes. However, there are so many events, solemn and defining moments, and slathers of good humor in between those lines. And a reminder, in my mind, that while the law can intentionally be used as a weapon to bring about justice for all, it can also be wielded, depending on the benched interpreter, as a weapon to roll back the march toward justice for all.
I hate to end on that depressing note, so I’ll end with a surprise:
As I left a post-play reception, I opened the doors on my way out of the main theater building. Two people were also opening the doors in the opposite direction.
Well, whaddya know? One of them was “Thurgood!” Or Brian Anthony Wilson. And he consented to a selfie! 🙂
Check it out Thurgood at Only Theatre Center! By: George Stevens, Jr. Directed by: Walter Dallas
July 19-August 20
Tickets: $55-$70. (Prices depend on selected day/time.)
(FROM WHERE I SIT)—Good Lord, the papers have sprouted feet and are taking over because they want to be recycled. This latest rebellion is underway because I’ve been holding things up for way too long. But I persist, because the end results will be worth it.
Gratefully ditching clothes that didn’t bring me joy wasn’t nearly as hard as getting rid of these clingy papers. It’s been a trudge. Kinda-sorta. Deciding what to keep and what to toss wasn’t that difficult. Now, there’s so much stuff to shred. If only the pile could rip itself to pieces. Yesterday. But as it’s taken me years to accumulate all this shite, it’ll take at least a smidgen of time to get this foolishness back under control.
Such a slow roll. But shredder wheels keep on turning, proud Lizzy keep on burning. I’m encouraged to don’t stop, get-it get-it because there’ll be time enough for resting when the shredding’s done.
Part of my KonMarie possessions laxative includes purging through all papers and only keeping the ones that bring joy. Of course, as The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up says there are always very necessary papers that must stay, no matter how much they dull the senses. Necessary is necessary.
Some paper goods I’ve considered for the rubbish pile: Treats from students during my teaching days. Every now and then, parents and students blessed me with holiday gifts: Things like a journal, a tile decorated with a little boy’s artwork, a Christmas card made from construction paper, a sporty skirt and top that I wore for a long while before I gave them away. Of all those kind treasures, I still have the journal and use it to jot down recipes. I also have the decorated tile, homemade card, and a different skirt that I still wear during the fall and winter months.
These things still bring me joy. Even the oversized construction-paper card with first-grader penmanship wishing me a Merry Christmas. I’ll keep them until I can’t keep ’em anymore. Some bring back such wonderful memories. And I’ll treasure them… …. …… …….. .. . always.
Now, back to the other papers. Part of me wants to find a beach bonfire and introduce them to the flames. Another part of me wants to bake them to a crisp inside the stove, crumble them and use them to fertilize some plant. All of me wants them gone.
Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. That’s what keeps me from tossing everything out the window. That, and not wanting to catch a littering charge.
Papers are an itch-bay. They’re all up in everything like sand after a sandstorm. Not like I’ve been in a sandstorm… But I’ve been stormed by paper for many evers. That has to change.
Even though I’ve tidied through other possession categories, which you’ll read about as I stumble through this process, I’m still struggling to ditch the papers because my shredder is broke-down and sorry. No, not broken down… broke down. I rode that thing too hard, and it’s trying to quit on me. Another one I have is too dang loud. I swear if I ran that one too long, it would wake the dead. I’ve been looking for local shredding events, but it seems I missed them earlier this spring. Oh well.
So, according to Marie Kondo, papers should be the first thing to go. I see why. But in my tidying, they’re going to be the first AND last things to go. That has me scared, because according to the KonMarie method, if you don’t follow her ways perfectly, you’re doomed to failure. [NOTE: Kinda felt like being at some churches.] I hope that’s not the case. I know that’s not the case, because this one here (points to self) ain’t going back down that road of clenching and holding on to stuff that doesn’t make her happy or isn’t totally necessary). No, sir. No-sireee-Bob (who’s Bob?) Nawsuh. Nunnnt-uhhh.
According to KonMarie, paper includes books. At first, I thought it only meant the bags and boxes of foolishness I’d been keeping for YEARS with plans to file, but just never got around to it.
Now I have one.
Corny, I know. But no more excuses.
So here’s something else that’s helping me get my paper -ish together. I refused to purchase any more stuff to organize my life. What purpose would it serve to buy more organizers? This one here (points to self) already had all she needed and hadn’t yet put to use.
Trays to organize papers before filing? Yup.
A personal, physical “in” box that took everything in but never put out? Got it.
Adorable Ikea organizers? Got-em! These Skubb organizers are inexpensive, well-loved (by me) and well-used. Not the most fancy-schmancy, but they get the job done. If ever get more organizers it would be these exact ones or something like them. So versatile. And foldable. If I don’t need them, there’s a zipper on the bottom which makes them easy to break down and store without taking up goo-gobs of space.
Since I’m ditching stuff, it doesn’t make one iota of sense to go collecting more organizers before I’m through getting rid what I don’t need. Instead, I’m choosing to release stuff that doesn’t bring joy and will to use organizers I already have to tidy what I still want to keep. And if I have leftover organizers, those may have to say hello to Salvation Army or any good friend who could use them.
Book ‘em Liz-o
Can I tell you how many books I hauled outta here?
Nope, because I didn’t count them. But it was several boxes and plastic containers full. Some were hauled to a local used bookstore where I could exchange for cash or credit. I’m sure some bibliophile somewhere already knows this, but opting for store credit gets you more value than cash. Since I was looking to get rid of stuff, it didn’t make sense to take store credit and welcome more books into my life while choosing to keep ones that I still wanted to read, but hadn’t since I didn’t have a precious Tuit.
For me, it was wiser to take the value cut and keep the cash.
Now, I have a tall bookcase full and one plastic container of books that I haven’t yet put back on my other smaller bookcases. I’m thinking about giving these things another go-through. Some may not make the next cut. My gut tells me the volumes I really need and will use can fit on the one tall case. All others can visit via electronic means, and if I crave the more intimate feel of pages on fingers…there’s always the local library.
Friends, neighbors and supporters of a middle school in Anne Arundel County, Md. showed up with buckets of the sidewalk chalk and their creativity the late afternoon of Mothers Day. They wanted to send a positive message of diversity and inclusion after a noose was discovered hanging from a light fixture on campus a few days earlier. Two suspects were arrested and are facing charges.
Sending a different message
The founder of Crofton Is Kind, an organization dedicated to fostering kindness in children in the Crofton community and beyond, spread the word about Sunday’s event. A mom whose daughter attends the school came to Kristen Caminiti with the idea to chalk the sidewalks in front of the school with positive messages for students to see when they returned to classes.
“And I thought that was amazing. So then I just ran with it and started advertising and getting the word out to say ‘let’s get out there and send a message to all the students at Crofton Middle and to the Crofton community as a whole that hate has no place here and that we are a community of kindness and tolerance and acceptance and that kindness will always be louder than hate,” said Kristen Caminiti.
The goal was to cover the school’s front sidewalk from end to end.
Mission accomplished, and then some. Chalkwork ranged from colorfully written words of affirmation to drawings celebrating diversity and love, and the labor of love stretched around to the walks on one side of the school.
Sometimes stories just “be’s” that way. Fun but serious. And sometimes in that kind, positive fun, it’s a reminder that I really love the volume of kindness… ’Tis music to my ears.