Archive for » January, 2011 «


January 24: This afternoon I got to help judge the country finals for Poetry Out Loud. Since I don’t feel like any kind of expert on poetry, I was the accuracy judge. No opinion, no pressure, just follow the poem on a piece of paper and make sure the speaker didn’t miss any words or get them wrong or anything. This was well within my comfort zone.

Until a girl missed three lines.

Now, no one in the audience unfamiliar with the poem would’ve known. Even those familiar with it but who hadn’t memorized it probably wouldn’t even notice it. She didn’t skip a beat!

This girl took this poem and dove into it. It was a long poem, complex, and I was impressed she’d even picked it. And as I was listening, I was thinking, “Damn, this girl’s got the goods.” Then the skip. And right back in with the passion. No change in tone or anything. I checked the scoring sheet. Double-checked, looked for a loop hole, checked with the organizer, but there was no way around it. I had to mark down her accuracy score. Which cost her placing in the top three. Cost her $50.

There was nothing in my accuracy role that allowed me say, “Yeah, she missed those three lines, but the way she handled it was so impressive, she could get extra points.” The other judges could take that sort of thing into account. I couldn’t.

I tried to find her after the judging, just in case she didn’t know she rocked that poem anyway, but she’d already left. I don’t even know if she realized she skipped the lines. I hope she does. Otherwise, she must be thinking that was truly unfair judging.

Next year I want to be one of the other judges.

I said yes to being a judge as one of my nicenesses. But because I wouldn’t step out of my comfort zone, it kinda didn’t work for me. Just a reminder of the importance of getting outside my comfort zone, I suppose. A lesson I keep having to learn again and again.

And to Dezzi, you rocked Solitude. I hope you know that.


January 22: I have a lot of really good friends. Some go back 30 years or more. Some I haven’t even spoken to face-to-face in years. Facebook is a hub for a lot of us. But some it’s enough to know they’re out in the world. I sometimes wonder if some of these friends, especially the ones I’ve known for so long, the ones who might not even like me if we met today, even know how often they are on my mind. I wonder if they know how much I value their acceptance over all the changes in our lives — hell, our very personalities. The fact that I know I can count on so many people — count on them when I need them, count on them when I don’t — just kind of caught me wonderstruck-like today. I told a few friends I was thinking about them via FB and voicemail. But, really, the beauty of these gracious folks, is that I know I don’t need to.


January 21: My favorite parking garage (yes, I’m the kind of person that has a favorite parking garage) is tiny and old. It’s a little rickety and way too narrow for modern vehicles. It is always packed. There are mirrors on the walls so drivers can see who’s coming up and who’s coming down so we don’t all collide as we move into the one-way rows. I like it because when I get the timing right, I’m basically driving in ascending or descending circles. It’s like the world’s most boring roller coaster — on sedatives. Just my speed.

Tonight, I could hear the booming bass of what I was sure was a car full of teenagers roaring around my garage with no regard for sedated rollers like me. I slowed to a stop before their car was even visible in the mirror ahead and inched ahead. The driver of the boom-booming car saw me in the same mirror, and sure enough it was a car full of kids, though they might’ve been in their 20s, not teens. I’m getting to the age where everyone under 30 looks too freaking young to drive.

I looked at the driver, he looked at me. Someone turned their music down. He motioned for me to go first, I motioned to him to go first. We laughed. Three guys in the car all motioned for me to go. Joe yelled, “You first!” The driver laughed and pulled ahead, and I followed. As we came to the first row of parking spaces, brake lights came on in a sweet space right next to the stairs. The boom-booming driver stopped to let that car back out. Then, some guys in the backseat of the boom-booming car looked back at us, and the car moved on and around the bend, leaving the sweet space open.

That was pretty cool.

Joe and I went to see our roommate in Richard III at Bruka Theater here in Reno. The show was great, with a dream sequence that will stick with me for a long time, and Lynn’s final speech was so rousing I had to bite my lip to keep from yelling “Amen!”

Joe is 10. He’s never seen Shakespeare or been to a small theater, so before the play started we went over what the play was about, theater etiquette, and the fact that we could leave at the intermission or stay for a party afterward, but there would be no wandering during the play.

Bruka is a small, intimate theater, so Joe’s whispered questions were louder than he meant. I reminded him to whisper and eventually limited him to questions during scene changes, which worked well. But when he dozed off around 9:30pm, his breathing bordered on snoring. I kept touching his nose and lips so he’d wake a little. He’d ask, “Did I miss Lynn?” or “Who died?” always in a quiet whisper, remembering, even in sleep, to be courteous to other patrons.

He was the only child there. But no one seemed irritated or harumphy or anything. He was welcomed to the party afterward. And allowed to just hang out and watch the party from a tall chair, where he compared the actors to their characters and talked to me about Richard’s deceits and death. Though he hardly talked to anyone, he didn’t want to leave. But by 11, I was tired, and he agreed to go. He chattered all the way home.

That was pretty cool too.


January 20: ┬áToday was seriously busy. I didn’t get home until after 9 pm. Lots of meetings. But there also seemed an unusual amount of little niceties out in the world today. Lots of pleases and thank yous and traffic yielding. I just followed suit. Way to set an example, world!


January 19: ┬áToday was a good day for niceness because I spent the morning at Joe’s school. Those fourth-graders do wonders for my cynical self. I saw a little girls compliment another girls boots. A boy lovingly teased a friend about is long hair. One girl helped another on her book report since they’d both read the same book. A group of boys read together, helping one of their group sound out the harder words. One boy offered to share his snack with me.

The secretary knows every kid by name and helped me get the temperamental laminator going. She is a woman of many skills. A fifth-grader held the door open for me when my hands were full.

Joe’s teacher, Miss D, had me make copies. That may not seem noteworthy except that I was making 10 copies of this, 20 of that 5 of another. Why? Because different kids are learning at different rates, and she tailors her teaching and homework to each and every one of those 25 kids. She borrows materials from a fifth-grade teacher, scours the net and flat makes lessons up.

The class is working on book reports right now, so after copying I checked in with each group to make sure they were getting key points, while she worked with a group at the back of the room that was a little behind. Her patience is endless, and the kids flourish under her attention. When the GT kids came back from GT class, their classmates caught them up.

Today was my day for the co-op kids — a day of controlled chaos that I love. Our co-op is made up of five families, 9 kids, 7 of whom are currently in the co-op (one is too young; one graduated to middle school this year and so takes care of herself, though she came and played today, which was great because I really miss her). We have a schedule for who has the kids each morning and afternoon, so no one needs to pay for before- or after-school care and so the kids help form a real neighborhood and just play.

Co-op day is also a good day for niceness. The older kids waited for the youngest. They played a great game of puppy piranha (I’m not clear on the rules, but scratching one behind the ears means you can get it to do your de-fleshing bidding). They help each other with homework, make sure the littlest can reach the chips.

Jason’s younger brother took him to a pro basketball game tonight — a rare treat. So Joe and I had the evening to ourselves. For once (FOR ONCE, Joe would say), I turned off the computer until just a few minutes ago and we just hung out. We ordered pizza, watched a new show on TV that was pretty awesome and will definitely make into the rotation, played some video games and just talked. I really (REALLY) need to do that more often.

Today, I am hard-pressed to think of anything not nice that I saw. I see no reason to do any such pressing. Instead, I am just going to go to bed, happy to live among all these amazing children who show me how to be without even thinking about it.

Cindie Geddes

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