Intercar Communication Tames Rhode Island

According to Time Tech, the federal government is deciding whether new cars can be equipped with transponders which will tell other cars their position. They may do things like alert other drivers or possibly even interact with the breaking systems of fellow drivers causing them to slow or stop to avoid accidents. Experts estimate that these advanced systems may reduce accidents by up to 8%.

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 7.22.53 PMThis may be a good thing for Rhode Islanders, who have long-held the honor of being the worst drivers in the nation. Imagine, every time we swerve toward another car in traffic or cut across two lanes with no spaces, all the other cars could automatically jack up and leave us the room we need.

Also, when another car comes dangerously close, loud alarms would be helpful. I’d learn to obey alarms such as Amber Alerts without spilling my coffee–the only thing Rhode Islanders are permitted to drink and drive–all over the upholstery. I need to be impervious to distraction to hone in on my Rhode Island driving skills because I’m not from these parts. You can tell the true Rhode Islanders because they drink Dunkin Donuts iced coffee even when it’s 20 below. My coffee–you’ll see upon investigation–is always hot, and often homebrew. An outsider. I digress.

This technology can do more. Even more than simple transponders, it could be effective as an advanced intercar communicator. I’d call the upgrade the FU model. This would interface with the dashboard video screens, sending thank you texts to courteous drivers, and have a built-in button for the Rhode Island salute just like Waze has for police and obstructions. I could send Rhode Island’s favorite finger to indicate “You’re an idiot,” to those who park six inches from my driver’s door in a perfectly empty lot, and could compliment the politicians and important people who all keep the really low license plate numbers–just like their offices–for generations at a time.

I’d want an automatic warning for things like “Teen driver,” or “Driver over 80,” or “Driver doing makeup.” You might think Rhode Island doesn’t need car-to-car communication. After all, the state’s not that big–usually opening up a window will do. But I think these things would be helpful. I’m tired of Nader bars and child restraints I can’t buckle without the right combination of swears. Give me something I can use.

I’d be grateful.



On the Subject of Eggs, Pornos, and Tech Not Replacing Teachers

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 6.13.37 AMMy son is walking around talking to eggs. He takes one from the carton and introduces it to me. “This is my son, Steve. I’m finally a dad.” I tell him to put the egg back.

“It’s my son.”

“It’s not your son…” We argue.

“Kids come from eggs.” I don’t want to discuss this now. I want to bake cookies. I tell him to choose between his son and the cookies. I need the egg. After a heart wrenching moment, he chooses cookies.

“Goodbye, dear son. I love you. I’ll miss you.” He caresses the egg, a tear coming to his little eye. He kisses the egg goodbye.

“It is not your son.” I crack the egg.

He waves a sad little wave as the yolk membrane crushes and the egg blends into the batter. “Take care of yourself in there….”

I feel like a real jerk, making the kid kill his son so we can eat cookies…Is this what every mother chicken and cow feels before humans eat dinner?

No. He will not draw me into his insanity. It’s an egg…I wipe his tear. We make cookies. We eat cookies. A person can really question their sanity raising a six-year old. I start to see, talk to, and put plates out for imaginary friends

He takes another “son” while I’m not looking.

“Put that back before it…”


Too late. Eggs are impossible to get off the floor. I’m unhappy. Declan’s devastated. I clean the floor and plan a funeral at the same time–good thing I baked cookies for it.

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 6.12.58 AMOne day, my boiled eggs went missing. “Look, Mom, twins!” I was hungry, but at least boiled eggs don’t splat all over the ground. Turns out, they crumble. “This is Steve’s heart.”

Back to cleaning floors…

I still need to eat so I attempt a frittata . As soon as the carton comes out, there’s Declan, reaching in…

“I’m having another child. I’m a good Dad.” If that were true, Steve wouldn’t be on his fourth life.

“No more children!” I say. “Dinner!” His little lip quivers. He wants to be a dad.

“But eggs are where children come from.” This question’s not new. I’ve answered it–we watched medical videos on YouTube. YouTube is where every parent turns when they don’t want to answer. If I don’t answer, he’ll just ask Siri or Google. He thinks they’re real people. I think they’re jokesters–they sometimes show inappropriate things.

When Declan has something on his mind, he’s all in. He’s focused. He gets the answer. If he’s not interested, there’s nothing I can do to keep him on task. It’s no different in my classroom. We’re so busy standardizing curricula, we don’t see the tree through the forest. Each individual tree is a beautiful thing to behold.

People ask me if technology will replace teachers. No, it won’t. Technology won’t replace teachers because not all teachers have technology that works. Mostly, it’s broken, blocked, and banned. But when it isn’t, kids still need a guide–someone to help process the information. Someone to who will clap, say “great job,” guide them to the next level, and tell them the amazing things they can be.

There are many paths to the top of the mountain. Tech allows kids to meander around looking at the flowers and trees on the way. They’re engaged. They learn. And sometimes parents get a moment of rest.

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 6.13.22 AMDeclan still wants eggs. I try something different. Plastic Easter eggs.

“Here’s your egg.” I pick a shiny blue one.

“Thanks, Mom!” He hugs the egg, “I missed you, Steve.” He turns to me. “I need four more. We’re going to school.” I get them. Soon, the egg-kids are lined up efficiently in school. Steve gets broken. I explain we can’t keep replacing Steve. Good moms and dads take care of their kids. Declan cries. I get him a new Steve.

Steve’s the troublemaker at school. He stays in for recess.  He’s a lot like his “dad.”

“Hey, Mom,” Declan says. “Kids come from eggs. Let’s watch those videos again!” We watch medical videos that speed up nine months of pregnancy. We skip the ones that show how the baby got in there and how it gets out. No pornos here! Nothing to see!

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 5.13.17 AM“Hey Mom,” he says. “Can we watch a video about how the baby gets in? And how it gets out?” Kids don’t miss a thing.

“No. And don’t ask Siri or Google.” I pick another plastic egg out of my pocket and tell him Steve’s friend is here to play.

“Come on, Steve, you can get out of time out. Hondo’s here to play…”

Steve and Hondo play, I eat my frittata sans guilt, and I hide Siri…so she can’t make trouble later on.

I Do Dumb Things. Ban Technology.

A video posted to my Google+ profile. I didn’t notice. It’s gone now, no use looking. It was me staring down my webcam for about 20 seconds. No makeup, terrible hair, stained shirt–frightening. I was playing with settings for a Google Air hangout. Apparently I sent it live…happens to the best of us. Good thing I was behaving, even if I was looking Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 6.55.42 AMpretty ragged.

It reminds me of a time long before Google. I was at work in my first cube-based career. We had a ten-line Simplex system which allowed transferring calls from cube to cube without identifiers. This created a ton of crank calls. Three of us were new. One co-worker always cranked called us in an outrageous foreign accent. I think he thought it was Indian. I thought he needed to take a couple more engineering classes to get it right.

“Hello, I would like to report a claim,” he’d say. We, the new people, would get sucked in every time, and answer fake accent guy. Finally, I learned. I’m good at languages, dialects, and accents. I can spot a fake from four cubes away. My phone rang.

“Hello, I would like to report a claim,” the voice said.

Fool me once, forgivable. Fool me ten times–I just wasted a lot of money on college. “You have to talk to Steve about that,” I said. A couple of people noticed my not usually assertive tone, stopping behind me.

“Okay,” said the voice. I paused, waiting for the usual burst of laughter and the loud slam from across the office.

“Hello?” said the voice on the other end of the phone.  The crowd behind me grew.

“Yes, I’m going to transfer your call.” I smiled. Steve was getting good. Very, very good. Not a single guffaw or snicker. He was really polishing the accent.

Long pause.

“Okay, I am ready for you to transfer my call.” Soon, everyone was behind me, waiting for the end of the joke. Including Steve. I threw the receiver and ran to the bathroom. I never knew what happened to the man on the other end of the call. I hope Steve helped him. I felt guilty. I want to teach this man’s kids so I can make it up to him in the cycle of life.

I was recently asked about digital citizenship. It’s an area of concern for teachers, IT people, and educational leaders, many of whom block, ban, or avoid technology in the classroom because it might not be used appropriately. It’s a problem I’d like to solve.

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 6.56.47 AMHow do we make students responsible citizens so we don’t have cyberbullying, crime, hate, cruelty, bad grammar, pranks, and general negative vibes in the universe?  Tech definitely gets a bad rap on this one. “Bad” occurred before the Internet. It will occur long after something better’s invented. We all make mistakes–case in point that Google Air video. We can be rude with or without the Internet. That phone call is a fine example. Improperly used, technology can detract from classrooms, like devils advocates say. I think back to every teacher I ignored in favor of writing, folding, and passing notes in class when the only technology I had was a pencil.

If I teach kindness and good manners universally, paying attention to what I model, tech should be okay. I teach these lessons to my students. I show them a few profiles of mine on the spot. They’re always hoping for dirt.

“If you’re looking for a picture of me drinking a 40-o wrapped in a paper bag on a street corner singing a-capella, you won’t find it,” I say.

“Why?” asks a kid.

“Because it doesn’t exist.” It’s the punch line of the lesson. “You need to behave, in writing, on the Internet, and in life, like it’s being broadcast. Because one day, it might just be.”  If my life were broadcast, it’d be the cure for insomnia. I should patent it.

I found a picture of Declan piling blocks on me. It self-posted to my Vizify. Then, of course, that video of me staring down the world on Googe+. I look like someone who’s applying for a makeover show, in need of rehab, or a costume designer for a horror set. Hideous, but harmless.

That’s the risk you take, I guess, in the 21st century.

Bottom line is this…we misbehaved before we had tech. Good teachers mitigated misbehavior with motivation. I didn’t pass notes while sitting on the edge of my seat. It’s our responsibility to get students ready for real life. Real life includes technology. If I leave that part out, I’m not doing my job.


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Electricity and First-World Conveniences

$187.74. The electricity bill. That’s pretty high.

“Did you miss a payment?” Rusty asked.

“No. I overpaid.” I pay random amounts and usually end up months ahead. Why? I don’t know. Bill ADHD. I try to get ahead of the months I know will be higher. This is one of those freaky post-recession financial behaviors I still do, even though I’m blessed to be paying my bills and eating food on a regular basis now. Vegetable gardening is the other freaky-post-recession behavior. But that’s kind of fun.

I analyzed the bill. Usually I don’t–it’s sort of like looking at a scale. No one really wants to know the truth. Ever. The truth is better left ignored.

Sure enough, $87 for the electricity itself and $90 for distribution. And some random fees and taxes because the bill wasn’t quite high enough. That makes sense. But fifty percent of the bill seems an awful high fee for “distribution.” I think they hired a drug dealer to do this job and then jacked the fees accordingly.

I thought understanding my Verizon bill was tough. The Verizon bill makes me jump up and down on the phone getting transferred to “sister companies” all over the world who tell me “You need the business department,” or “Sorry, that’s the Internet division.” I jump up and down faster, even though they can’t see this gesture of frustration and say “I just want to pay you!” in four different languages until I finally give up and keep my money just a little bit longer.

But the electric bill is testing the limits of my education. We should use that for the high-stakes graduation requirement. All students who understand it completely graduate. We’d save a lot of standardized testing money and the rainforest trees used for making diploma stock would live to see another day.

I want someone to put a big number on one piece of paper and say, “Listen, moron. Here’s your bill. You’re living in the 21st century. You have lights. Internet. A refrigerator that keeps your food from killing you. Shut up and pay. It costs a lot. Empty your checkbook and resume your regularly scheduled first-world behavior.” I want a bill that can be tweeted to me, “$187.74. Pay or lose your air conditioning.”

electricity billI don’t really need six itemized lines that require me to take classes in nuclear obfuscation. What is a “LIHEAP Enhancement Charge?” or the $11.01 I’m being charged for “Energy Efficiency Programs?” $11 a month to teach someone to turn off a lightbulb? There’s a “transmission charge,” a “transition charge,” and a “distribution charge.” Are they bringing electricity to me three separate times?

According to the paragraph on the side, I have the right to dispute, and there is an “explanation of billing terms available.” But I’m smart. I Googled LIHEAP. The acronym reminded me of “lie a heap,” which sounds like a political term, so I was intrigued. Turns out, it’s “Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.”  I support that. State law, I researched, says that it may not be more than ten dollars per year. Mine is eighty-three cents. It seems they broke down my ten dollars into thoughtful installments, but in the end, I am charged over ten times more more to contribute to training people in the fine art of turning off lightbulbs than I donate to helping people in need. Maybe more people need to learn to turn off lightbulbs.

If I flip the bill over, there’s a helpful graph. It shows how I barely used any electricity before, and in June I used half a power plant. I filed that under “happiness” budget, not “utilities” though, because my husband hates summer. June is when the A/C wars begin. He puts the air conditioning as cold as he can get away with and I change it as soon as he turns around. He tells me to put on a sweater. When I was younger, my dad used to say “Put on a sweater” all winter. I’m traumatized. I’m an adult. I refuse to do that now–especially during the summer. We have an ongoing scientific discussion. Rusty says that because I change the temperature when I’m uncomfortably cold and he’s not home, all the molecules in the house must recool, which ultimately costs more money. Therefore, the bill is $187.74. I’m sure he’s right. But I’m cold. I’ll give an extra few bucks under a line item they should list on the bill “molecule recooling comfort fee.” Or the “marriage preservation tax.” Either of those would be fine by me.

So, I paid the bill. And found the remote control to the stand-up air conditioner and turned it up a few degrees, because my sweater is in the bedroom and everyone’s asleep. I don’t want to wake them. I’m rather enjoying the peace and quiet.

Bills paid, I’m going to go make some more hot coffee while I wait for the room to warm up.



How Technology is Changing the World–No Oxford Comma???

I’m drinking coffee and reviewing social media. I love when there’s an honest to goodness conversation unfolding on Facebook or Twitter. I don’t get those deep conversations in person as much anymore–the “college type” where we sat all night putting off papers some grad assistant from another country would be forced to read while we discussed the deeper meaning of life–talking about things that mattered, building relationships that still remain. The types of conversations I have with my lifelong friend, who suffers from the same “mental chaos” that I have, where seven conversations swirl around at once, no one single thread emerging, all mysteries until each of them resolve like a manuscript of short stories which got tossed on the floor and then reordered.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 5.42.48 AMThis morning’s social media had two excellent conversations. The first one was about grammar. I posted an article by way of apology to my famous sister (she is the Mary Casey of this brief) on the issue of spacing after a period. She has repeatedly reminded me to use only one space typing at the end of a sentence. Am I that big a nerd that I can bring out ten or so of the biggest grammar guns on two coasts to discuss whether we should have one or two spaces after a period, and whether the Oxford comma should still be in use? I believe that I am. Writers, Ivy Leaguers and innovators all discussing a space at the end of the sentence. That’s deep. Cliff Clavin just called to congratulate me.

The second conversation was my friend’s “Should I change my Twitter handle?” I never cared about such things before–I came into the Twittersphere late, but now that I’m here nothing impresses me more than someone whose handle is their initials. Or better yet, one letter.  Wow, you really are a “g.” Or @G to be more precise.  Amazing.

That’s almost like the fight over license plates in the State of Rhode Island. The first time I went to the RI DMV, the person said, “Honey, what initials would you like?” What plate would I like? The one you give me, I guess.  Turns out in Rhode Islanders must have their initials. People pass down low-numbered and initialed plates in their wills. No joke. There were no “DC’s” available. She was waiting for my panic. Because she was the only DMV person who ever cared about my feelings, I gave her an answer. “I’ll take OM.”  Ohm wasn’t in my name, but I figured I’d at least get some good driving karma.

I bet Rhode Islanders would be good on Twitter. It’s a small state; we can fit it in 140 characters or less.

Technology has changed so much of what I do and the process in which I do it.  I can’t even make a phone call anymore. I was needed on a phone call one day. “I’ll put you in his calendar.” I counter-offered. “How about you tell him to call me, and when he calls…I’ll answer.”  Laughter on the other end. Hysterical laughter. Watching Louis CK after a couple of beers laughter.

The world is changing. No Oxford comma? No double space? No simple phone call? I am a history person by trade–Maybe the world of education really is that far behind. I sought out my college friend Heather to investigate. When you’re friends with someone for so long, they’ll tell you the truth. “Oh, Dawn…you are so, not…corporate.  Of course you need to calendar in a phone call.”

But I was “corporate.” I used to call attorneys on a regular basis and negotiate stuff. If I didn’t like the person, I’d wait till I knew they were out and info-bomb their voicemail. That’s what email does for us today–cuts out the pleasantries, I guess.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 5.45.45 AMAnd so, I’ve gone to the Other Side.  I just calendared in a phone call for later today, filed emails in several boxes in accordance with their importance, and am resolving two tasks from my pop-up reminder list. I guess it’s nice that Google and my iPhone combine forces to deal with my “mental chaos” and chime me into a state of obedient productivity.

And it’s definitely good that the world of education is catching up–tomorrow, I’m going to go on a site visit to a really progressive school to get some inspiration. I know this, because my calendar just chimed in to remind me.

But I will not, I repeat, will not–give up my Oxford comma.

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I Was Born in the Ice Age: Conversation While Walking Into the Library

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 4.09.47 PM“Mommy, you forgot your phone. ” I left it plugged in resting on the center console.

“Thank you, Declan.”I said, turning off the streaming Pandora and unplugging it from the cord. “Do you know, when I was your age, they didn’t have phones like this.”

“What did they have?” It was a fair question.

“They had phones that were hung on the wall like pictures. They had chords on them. You had to stand near the wall and talk on the phone. You had to dial numbers in a circle.” I said.

“Oh,” he said, crinkling his face trying to imagine talking on a picture attached to the wall. Maybe it was like an iPod or that fake flat-screen fish tank at the hairdressers.

“And they didn’t have email.” I added

“How did you get your email, Mommy?” he inquired.

“There was no email. We had letters on paper. With stamps. The mailman brought them.” Today, our mailman brings boxes from Sometimes they even contain something cool for him.

“Wo!” he said, stopping in his tracks. I pulled his arm toward the library. You can’t just stand in the middle of the parking lot contemplating cave men.

“But the biggest thing – we didn’t have computers, or DVDs, or video games.”Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 4.14.15 PM

“WHAT?” he said. “Who took your video games?”

“No one. They weren’t invented.” He looked at me like my students do when I tell them the only video gaming system I have ever personally owned is Pong, and in my day we only had one pair of sneakers.

“No! Now I think you’re lying – that’s just crazy!!” he said.

He paused. I never lie. I was telling the truth. “What did you play then, Mommy?”

“Games,” I said. “Board games.”

“You were bored?” he asked.

“No, we played board games. With boards and pieces, like Candy Land.”  We play a lot of Candy Land. I hustle him on a regular basis. I don’t let him win just because he’s five unless I need the game to end sooner than expected.

“Games? Like chess and Sorry?” We started chess about six months ago after he watched Mike the Knight.  I hustle him in chess, too.

“Games. Like chess and Sorry  and checkers.” I didn’t want to leave any out.

“And sometimes, if it was really boring, I had to play with uncle Dan.”

“You played with Uncle Dan?” Uncle Dan’s a hero. I must have been really, really lucky to have been able to play with Uncle Dan on a regular basis. Like having a rock star for your dad.

“I played with Uncle Dan. But I didn’t like to play with Uncle Dan, because he only wanted to play trucks. And he bit me.” Sometimes you have to dispel the hero myth.

“What about Aunt Mary?”

“She wasn’t born yet. And then she was a baby. She couldn’t play. Besides, I only liked to read books.” Babies don’t read books. And they don’t like to hear books without pictures. They rip them.

“Wo!! I don’t think I would like that at all.” Reading books. Phones stuck to walls. Uncle Dan biting. No video games–a nightmare.

“Did you tell me the truth or did you see that in a movie?”

All this is beyond the comprehension of a five-year old much like understanding the inner workings of Stephen Hawking’s mind is beyond mine. I am old.

I may be old, but I’m amazed. I feel young–it seems like yesterday that we saw our first computer. We went to my friend Jen’s house and programmed, “My brother is a moron,” in endless DOS loops that extended from the first line into infinity. Now I complain if it takes a full second for a website to load when the reality is I have the Library of Congress at my fingertips. I’m going to a site visit at a school next week, and while I’m gone I’ve arranged to have a hologram of me teaching my class. Before, I’d have needed to request a real flesh and blood substitute teacher. Technology is a miracle indeed.

It only takes the face of an incredulous five-year old for whom any of this is way beyond comprehension to make me see how miraculous all of this is.


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Glitter, Garbage and Gratitude

Yesterday I made a strategic error in lesson planning.  I wanted some old-school fun that disguised learning. Some “edutainment.”  I needed the quickest of projects that showed mastery of the Bill of Rights, synthesized some research, and didn’t look like it sucked. Since the next item on the agenda is Midterm Review–which isn’t a trip to Disneyland even in Casey’s World–I wanted a lesson guaranteed to make us smile.

I got an idea–I would use glitter.

I haven’t really done any of these old-school crayon, glue, glitter projects lately since I got all tech-drunk. Instead, we do blogs and infographics and tweets and comments.  Certainly technology is productive and fun, but in my day we used glue. I am a history teacher, not to mention a relic thereof, so I decided to take off the tech-gloves and unleash some good old-fashioned old-school paper and glue fun. With glitter.

What a disaster.  First off, I remembered why I love tech in the first place.  You don’t have to say a million times to high-schoolers “Scissor safety! Do NOT pretend to cut her hair.”

This isn’t their fault. Despite my decrees and rules that materials should be used appropriately, kids don’t really get enough art time in schools, so hands on supplies become a novelty. They’re excited. I don’t blame them.

When teaching with technology, you don’t have to say, “You are using the glue on your project. Not making hand gloves.” Secretly, I smile at this one, remembering with nostalgia how many times have I slathered Elmer’s glue on my hand, let it dry, and peeled it off saying, “LOOK, I’m MELTING!”  Maybe that’s a bit of an elementary school thing, but when you break out the glue, we’re all kids at heart.

When using technology in the classroom, you certainly do NOT have to say, “Please don’t waste the paper and supplies. I have to buy these myself and they have to last for eight classes. Use them wisely,” as five thousand confetti pieces of various colors and sizes fly through the air because someone needs red.

But the GLITTER.  That was just a Jeff Foxworthy “Here’s your sign!” teaching moment.  At first, it seemed great. Tons of kids passing around bottles and cups of shiny stuff, gluing words like “Freedom of speech” onto little holiday ornaments, synthesizing their  research into holiday decorations.

But then, the mess crept in.

And I remembered why I don’t use glitter.  Probably half of the educational technology out there was inspired by people who used glitter in class. They said, “I’m gonna make an app for that because I am NOT getting glitter all over my clothes again!” And thus, Silicon Valley ed tech was born.

After about five minutes, the hypnotic spell of the glitter wore off, and a kid got the idea that it would look great in the hair of a girl he probably wanted to date. Guys in the 14 to 16-year-old range aren’t smart enough to realize that chucking stuff in the perfectly arranged hair of a girl they like gets them farther from the end goal of her being impressed with him.  So, I had a couple of cases of “misuse of classroom resources,” to deal with followed up by a student “my bad,” the universally accepted apology.

Behavior corrected, I got the projects I wanted.  Things went well for a couple of classes. Then I got a case of the human  .

“Are you out of your MIND? What possessed you to throw that glitter up in the air?”

“Miss, it’s snowing!” Okay, so it hasn’t snowed here. Truth is, I’m getting worried, though I’m enjoying the pink roses in my front yard. I think the Mayas or Al Gore might be right–this weather is freakish.  I decided to be forgiving. In true Arlo Guthrie style, I made him pick up the garbage and get back to work.  And I managed to get a nice project once again.

By the end of the day, however, the room was destroyed. I had swept, straightened, and arranged all day. My idea of a peaceful holiday-music craft session with kids who never get to do crafts turned into an energetic “constructive chaos” free for all.  Highly productive, tons of fun, but zero of the holiday zen for which I had hoped.

And the glitter.  Glitter, you may not know, is the only inanimate substance capable of reproducing when let out of the container. I bought one container of gold glitter.  It reproduced like a virus until my room was covered three feet thick. It really did look like a snow globe.  I stepped back. I snapped a picture. I froze the moment in my mind and decided if I couldn’t have snow on the ground for December, this would do just fine.

In the end, I was blessed with a senior who came in and took charge of the cleanup. I don’t think she was very happy, because, although she thinks she wants to be a pharmacist, she seems to be headed down the road of becoming a professional organizer.  We have a deal–I help her get into college and look at papers, and she tells me to clean my desk.  She took charge of that cleanup so efficiently that I felt a pang of guilt.  She then issued a proclamation that I will probably obey:

“Mrs. Casey-Rowe,” she said, “There will be no more glitter in this room.” For a moment in time, she held the authority of Commissioner Gist herself. I’m pretty sure I will obey.

But by the time I left school, I was truly overwhelmed, not by the glitter and mess, but by the tragic news feeds from my home state which had been coming in steadily.

I picked up my son from school, and we ran laps around the gazebo, which we do together if he stays “in the green” and has a good day. He did.

“Look, Mommy. It’s your flower.” On the ground, there was a single newly blossomed dandelion. That’s my university’s flower, and Declan knows that. He became a Rochester fan watching the YellowJackets rock “The Singoff.”

He picked the flower and handed it to me. “It’s for you.”

It matched the gold glitter all over my body. At that moment, I knew that my lesson was good. And that life is good, too. I hope that someone went home and told their parents that they got glitter in their hair, or that they got to glue stuff together. I hope it’s one of those lessons that we don’t do often enough but that they never forget.

I’ll clean up the rest on Monday.

This is the single dandelion Declan found.

This is the single dandelion Declan found.