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     The head of the Toccoa Technical College, home of the Georgia literacy foundation, called me yesterday. They are looking to promote their programs and have decided to put together some articles with success stories of some of their participants who’ve earned their GED and perhaps, gone on to find success.  They are hoping this will encourage more people to come forward to seek basic education. The local paper is enthusiastic to print whatever they send in, but since they are short staffed, they asked the college to send only fully prepared pieces.. Therefore, the college needs someone qualified to write the articles.


   Apparently, I am the first person that came to mind. I am a writer and I have shown a sincere interest in literacy. I’ve also volunteered time. I’m the perfect candidate.


   Of course, I said, “Yes. I’d be happy to help.” In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “Bad idea. You can’t keep up with your homework as it is, Gin,” But I’m just a girl who can’t say no when someone asks for help – especially when it is something I believe will make a difference. So, I’ll squeeze in the time to write a few personal profiles stories – and who knows, I might meet some interesting, inspirational people that way. And when you have a huge list of “should do’s” what’s one more? And if I need to, I can just submit the stories to my non-fiction teacher as assignments. We are working together again next term, and he is very oppen to my trying new things or moving in directions that support my interests. A small jaunt into journalism would be acceptable. I can hit two birds with one writing stone if necessary.  


 


     Speaking of newspaper writing, I ran an ad in the paper offering a reward for my dog. Came out today.  His picture looks so lost and miserable. Ha. If that doesn’t stir up the emotions of any dog-napper, nothing will. I also went to the animal control facility to double check their stock. Sammy needs a haircut, so he doesn’t look like a qualified Schnauzer, and I just wasn’t comfortable taking their word on it that he wasn’t there. This was a BIG mistake. The place is lined with cages filled with sad, lonely dogs, all with the date they will be destroyed hanging over their heads on a small index card. They only keep the animals here 7 days. I looked into those desperate eyes and wanted to die. One dog, a very scraggly mutt in the center of the room, looked at me and I felt an instant bond. I felt I knew this dog. I bent down and pet her. She licked my hand and put up a soft paw to say hi. Boing goes my heartstrings.


  When my friend Jody visited, we were talking dogs and she said she saw a dog in a pet store she knew I would love. It was my “type.” I didn’t know I had a type and I asked her what she meant. She laughed and said, “You know, you always like dogs that are scraggly and bearded with hair sticking out all wrong. Funny looking mutts. You like dogs that look like they were born under a trash can.” Ha. She is right.


    They are going to put down that sweet dog I liked tomorrow – unless I weaken and go save her. The thing is, I just ran the ad for Sammy and I must wait a few days to see if I get a response. I am not willing to give up easily on a family member in trouble. And we can’t handle more than three dogs in our current living situation. But I keep thinking about that dog and how, perhaps, I’m meant to go save her. I would name her Karma – and deep down I’d feel that the fact that I went out of my way to provide a home for a lost dog might mean someone else would do the same. For Sammy. That would make it easier for me to accept his disappearance – this belief that I did all I could, even created good karma, to influence his fate.


 


   I got a letter from the United Christian Children’s Fund the other day. Got all worried. I’ve been corresponding with a child there for about 10 years, sending support and he is getting older. I think he is turning eighteen soon. I’ve been wondering what happens then, if they will bump him out of the system then and assign me a new child. I don’t know what the procedure is when a child in the system turns into an adult, but I hate the idea of just cutting him loose. So, since this letter was unlike others, I opened it with a small ping of anticipation. But it was just a letter of appreciation and a certificate. Apparently, over time, we have sent over $5,000, which means we’ve reached the first level of giving to merit special honor. Actually, when you think of all the time we’ve been sending 40 dollars a month support (and 100 for Christmas and birthday), that is hardly a drop in a bucket. Could anyone in America raise a child for nine years on five grand? Hardly. I felt both good and bad about that letter when I saw the actual number. Something to think about.


 


   I got the rest of my response from my mentor today – she was late with commentary on my annotations, so I’ve been anxious to see what she had to say. It was remarkably positive. She said the work was “excellent, as usual, and a pleasure to read.” She also said, “Your annotations have an overlying tone of authority in them, which is crucial to any kind of critical analysis”. Ha. She thinks I have a slightly pompous educated writer’s attitude. Big surprise. I do know how to inspire confidence in the fleeting subject of art. Made a career of it in dance.


   She added, “You are both a careful and thoughtful reader and writer . . and since I find them superior and enjoy them so well, I’ll focus on two parts that particularly stood out for me.”


    I could go one, but I think that is enough bragging. She even said that the annotations are terrific and should be included as examples for other students in the MFA handbook. O.K. NOW that is enough bragging.


     The point is, she makes me feel smart. It is nice to feel smart, especially when you’re the kind of person who often feels she had the memory of a potato and her constant interest in the world (and the questions that accompany this trait) is more an annoyance to others than evidence of a positive character. 


   For example, yesterday, I washed my keychain. That sounds stupid, but I have this keychain made of laces that I adore. It has particular significance to me because a special student gave it to me.  It is the only keychain I’ve ever had that I can find. I don’t lose my keys as often as normal. Look in my purse – bam, there they are.  If I throw them on the coffee table, later, when I am looking for my keys, they jump out at me as if that white string was a blinking neon sign. I love that keychain – but it is now black with dirt, and I’ve been feeling rather conspicuous carting around this dingy bunch of strings on my keys. A classy chick like me is more the type to carry a fancy gold key ring with handmade charms or something. 


    Yesterday, I decide to wash my keychain. I figure, if it disintegrates, well, that was meant to be. The keychain will live on in my heart, if not in my ignition. So I take it off my keys and try to bleach the thing. It comes out sort of light gray. So, I bleach it again (with a pair of grungy tennis shoes – I said I liked the thing, not that I respect it like some kind of valuable antique – I’m not that quirky). This time it comes out white. Lucky me. But the point is, this morning I get up and prepare to go out, and don’t ya know, I can’t find my keys. I look in my handbag and . . no bam… no keys. I look on my coffee table. .. no neon sign. I am getting annoyed, searching frantically. THEN, I remember they are on my washing machine. Duh.


   So that “feeling smart glow” from my teacher’s response only lasted about 9 hours, seven of which I spent sleeping. So much for keeping my big head big.  But if I read a book about a string keychain and wrote an annotation about it, you can bet it would probably be a good one.

     I have to do some homework. Maybe I’ll finish my book and write my annotation so I can muster up some more nice compliments next month. We can all use a pat on the back occasionally.

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

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