The Butterfly Effect

It’s so weird how sometimes certain things you do make such an impact on your life and ultimately change the course of events that follow.  Kind of like the Butterfly Effect; you know the theory that a butterfly flapping its wings changes something (or at least the potential to change something) miles away?  Something happens, or you make a decision, that causes a snowball effect, or chain reaction.  It certainly isn’t something that we think about consciously when making decisions;  as humans, everything we tend to do errs on the side of selfish (if even only a little bit).  Rarely, do we make decisions with others in mind; though, we should, because (even if we don’t know it) everything little thing we do makes a difference in someone’s life.  Let me show you what I mean.

One of my best friends in the whole world is Craig. He’s the one person in this entire world who knows everything about me:  the good, the bad, and the ugly.  He knows what I want, what I need, and often, what I will do/say even before I do.  Because of all of this, he usually picks out the best birthday presents; which, brings me to the point.

I was eating lunch in the school cafeteria (somewhere around the beginning of February) when my cell phone buzzed.  I figured it was an email, but I looked anyway.  It was a text message from Craig asking me what I had going on March 17th.  As I mentioned, Craig knows me well, which means he also knows that I almost never plan that far in advance.  So his question could only mean one thing- something big is coming.  It turns out, he wanted to give me an “early birthday” present and asked that I keep my schedule clear for that day.

Now, when I say early birthday, I mean EARLY; my birthday isn’t until November 23rd, which, at that point, was nine months away.  I hate surprises, and he knew this; but, I dropped the conversation after agreeing to keep my schedule clear.  By the time I got home that afternoon, it was grating on my nerves.  I had to know.  Well instead of asking him, like I should have done, I decided to research it myself.

I figured that since he was so specific about the date (and asking so far in advance), it had to be something happening only on that day.  It turns out, that wasn’t the case, but more on that later.  I spent almost 2 hours on Google trying to figure it out.  The only thing I found happening around that time frame was Jersey Boys at the Palace, but it was the following weekend, not the 17th.  Because it was driving me crazy at this point, I sent him a text pleading with him to tell me, which he did with no argument- Curling lessons; he was taking me for curling lesson.  As I said, I should have just asked him right away, because I ended up dropping almost $400 on Jersey Boys tickets for my father and myself.

Remember how I said that the date wasn’t as important as he made it out to be?  Well, that’s because that day was the last Curling lesson of the season.  The season, which would start again in September, in plenty of time for my birthday; but, Craig doesn’t pay attention to the details.  He saw something that would be cool for us to do together and didn’t notice that he could have waited until closer to my birthday.

The curling lesson taught me one thing that will come into play later; I am out of shape!

The week after the Curling lesson, I went to see Jersey Boys with my Dad and fell in love with the show.  The next day, I discovered that it was also a movie; so, I rented it and, once again, fell in love.  Though this time, it wasn’t just the show that I fell in love with.  Something about the guy who played Frankie Valli spoke to me.

The next day, I got an anonymous message on my blog with a link to someone singing my all time favorite song (Unchained Melody). I watched it, and it clicked, that’s the guy!
It was a bizarre feeling; but, I couldn’t get enough.  I had to know who this guy was.

I’ll admit it; I became obsessed.  I watched YouTube video after YouTube video learning everything I could about this guy.  I found one video from that I haven’t been able to stop watching since.  This guy is the male version of me; it’s a bit creepy.  He’s intelligent (an Ivy leaguer), he speaks Spanish, loves Andy Warhol, loves the 50s and 60s crooner pop/rock, has a wry sense of humor, and studies martial arts.  While I’m not an ivy leaguer, I like to consider myself reasonably intelligent; I also speak Spanish (though not fluently as he does- but I’m close). I love Andy Warhol, 50s and 60s crooner pop/rock, have a wry sense of humor, and once studied martial arts.

He talked about all of these things in the interview, along with the catalysts that that drove each.  He was talking about how his manager suggested that he take Kung Fu to “get out of his own head” when it hit me.  That’s what I need to do!  I need to get back into Tang Soo Do.  Not only will it help me get back into shape physically, but it’ll also give me the confidence and soul medicine that I need to take turning forty with a grain of salt.  So, the next day, I marched down the street to the local Dojang and signed up.  I’ve been doing it for several weeks now, and I already feel great.  I’ve lost almost 20 pounds and gained some self-confidence.  In doing that, I decided to push myself even further and recently started doing Yoga so that I could be more flexible in karate class.

The interview also mentioned that he had released a CD of various 50s/60s songs that any fan of Jersey Boys would love.  I bought the CD and haven’t stopped listening to it since.

In watching this interview over and over again (I fell in love with his sense of humor and utterly infectious laugh), I came across an ad that mentioned him returning to NYC for a few shows at Feinstein’s/54 Below.  Yes, I’m spontaneous, so yes, I bought the tickets.


Relaxation Station

“Do you feel more relaxed when you are alone or with a group of people?”

For me, I think this depends a lot on the time of the year it is. I know that sounds weird, but I can explain.

At the beginning of the semester, I am rested and ready to go. Remember the “first day of school” hopefulness that you felt as a kid? It’s something like that; or, like the new beginning, we all look forward to on new years day.

Given that, I love the comfort of family and friends. I relax by cooking dinner for my loved ones and then curling up on the couch to watch TV together.

Towards the end of the semester, when I’m completely burned out, I tend to err on the side of being alone. After 16 grueling weeks of reading and grading students papers, I’m wiped out; and, the only way to relax me is to leave me alone for a bit to decompress.

Overall, though, I love being with my family and friends, it’s how I recharge my batteries.

Expecting the unexpected

Are you living up to the expectations you had for yourself? If not, how are you falling short?

This is a tough one because it’s both yes and no. No, because I’m not where I thought I would be at this point in my life (occupationally speaking); but, yes, because I’m happy about where I am.

Growing up, I wanted to be a teacher (a high school teacher); sadly, I am not. When I graduated from college, it was the height of the most current depression of the U.S. economy. School budgets were getting but left and right, making getting a teaching job very difficult. When districts were highering, they’d often choose the candidate that they could pay the least (meaning not someone with a masters degree as I have). So, try as I may, I couldn’t get in anywhere.

It was with some miracle that I landed at the University where I work now. I’ve been here almost six years, and have loved every minute. So, with that, yes, I am not exactly where I wanted to be, but close enough.

In regards to my personal life, did I think that I’d buy a house with my sister and have my father living with me? Nope, but I did, and I am as happy as a clam. I also never imagined not getting married; but, you guessed it, I’m not, and that’s OK. Will I find “the one?” Who knows?


If you were hypnotized, so you were no longer concerned about what had previously been your biggest fear, how would it change your life?

Boy, do I wish that this were true! My biggest fear is flying and not being so scared would open up my life to the world (literally).  I’ve been told (on several occassions) that, in order to be hypnotized, you have to believe.  Now whether or not I do is another conversation completely.  Honestly, I don’t think I do, I’m not sure.  I just don’t feel like it’s really a possibility to completely alter a person.  But, like I said, I wish is were!

Over the past few years, I’ve gotten a bit better; I’ve actually gotten on a plane without freaking out like 3 or 4 times now. Mind you, I’ve only gone to Florida (which is only a 2 1/2 hour flight), but it’s a start. My goal for next year is to go a bit further. Arizona maybe? Or Vegas?

But, ultimately, I want to get to: Hawaii, Spain, London, Italy, and maybe Germany. I would also love to hit a few islands: Roatan, Belize, St. Croix, and St. Lucia.

Have any of you been to any of these places before? Did you like them?

The United States of Litigations

I live in the U.S. Which, as of late, has become the U.S. of litigations. There are even commercials that encourage us to sue for one thing or another.  I often laugh and about the ones that tell you to call if you’ve been killed by one drug or another.  If I’m dead, how can I call? In my opinion, enough is enough.  How in the world did we all become so entitled? We have got to stop blaming others for things that happen to us.

I can’t even begin to tell you the number of people who recommended that we (meaning my family) sue the Dr who took care of my mother before she got sick.  Is there truth to the fact that she should have had a hysterecotmy years before she did?  Yeah, probably. Is it because she was denied one that she developed cancer?  Maybe.  I’ll never know for certain and no amount of money is going to bring her back; so, why am I going to put my father and the rest of our family through that?  We’d only end up in court rehashing the story over and over until someone decides whose fault it is that she got sick and passed. Then, we might get some money.  Keyword being might.  There’s no guarantee when you sue someone that you’re going to get paid.  Truth is that you’d have to be awarded A LOT of money for it to be worth it.  Millions.

I know some of you are yelling at your computer telling me that it is worth it; that, in bringing attention to the situation might prevent it from happening again, and you’re right.  Except that my mother wasn’t famous and neither am I. The case would likely settle out of court and we’d be awarded some money to keep our mouths shut.  It’s probable that we’d be required to sign a non-disclosure.

Instead, I’d much rather never sign anything and effect the world in the way that I know how to.  With my words.  Right here, right now.  Don’t EVER forget that you know your body better than any Dr or insurance company out there.  If you feel that something is wrong, then something is wrong.  Don’t let them tell you no.  Like I said, there’s no proof that a hysterectomy would have saved her life; but, it sure does suck wondering.

Anyway, I digress. But the point is, I am an adult, and I will handle the things that happen to me without laying the blame on someone else.

Sorry, rant over!

I heart food :)

“How do your basic eating habits today differ from when you were a child? What-if anything-would like to change about these habits?”

I really haven’t changed much since I was a kid (regarding eating habits). I love food (all kinds) and I still do!  There is honestly very little I won’t eat (mainly olives!) yuck!

Growing up, I loved hot dogs. Mom has told me that I would ask for them every day; I still love them today. I wouldn’t eat them every day, but I do love me a good Deutschmacher (with the natural casings).

I’ve never been a fan of eating too late at night, and I’m still not. My friend, Craig, used to call me Mogwai because I wouldn’t eat after a certain time. I think he was convinced that I would turn into a Gremlin if I did. I don’t think that’s true, but I do get sick to my stomach.

One thing about me that has changed is my metabolism (although I’m certain that everyone has this problem). When I was younger, I could eat anything I wanted, and I wouldn’t gain a pound. Now, I so much as look at a cheeseburger, and I gain weight.

I’ve developed allergies in my old age, as well. I’m lactose intolerant, allergic to coconut, and I have a sensitivity to shellfish. All, of which, came on in my 20’s. It’s a bit of a pain, because I love ice cream, and you wouldn’t believe how many things have coconut in them. Then, with the shellfish, I have to keep track of how many times I eat it and when, and how much. I can’t mix them, or eat it more than once on any given day. I can’t even eat it one day and then again on the next.

All of this talk about food has made me hungry.

An act of intent

“Though your 10-year-old has never been told to play ball in the house, one day he does so and breaks a treasured glass vase. Would you punish him? What if, in three months, it happens again?”

It is so strange that this question would come up today! Yesterday, I had an extensive conversation with a co-worker about intent and what it actually means.

Let me give you a little background info: I’m in charge of plagiarism cases at the University at which I work; and, lately, the policy regarding plagiarism has been up in the air. Some feel (including myself) that there should be different consequences for those who plagiarize accidentally versus those who are blatantly cheating. When I say accidentally, I mean that they have a little bit of information from an outside source that is either not cited at all or not cited properly. When I say blatant cheating, I mean those who go on the internet and copy/paste an entire article, website, or paper and hand it in as though they wrote it.

My point, about accidental plagiarism, is that we, as educators, (unfortunately) can’t assume that these students have ever been told that they can’t take pieces of another’s work and simply stick it into their own without properly giving credit. Especially if they are older adults, who did not grow up in the digital age. They really may not know. I do think, though, that it is safe to assume that they know that copying someone else’s entire article isn’t OK. Given that, I’ve proposed that we use the first scenario as a teaching moment and explain plagiarism, the serious offenses that it is, and how to avoid it; then, I’d offer a redo.

Much like my non-existent 10-year-old son in the scenario above, I’d give him a second chance. But, then after having that conversation, he does it again, he’s toast!

In terms of sadness

“If something very sad occurred, would it embarrass you to cry in front of your family? What about in front of your friends or co-workers?”

I am a Sagittarius; and, from what I gather, that means that I feel deeply but will never show it (for fear of appearing weak).  I’m not convinced that it’s for fear of being weak. At least for me, I can tell you with 100% certainty.  I’m also not convinced that it has anything to do with being a Sag. For me, it’s just my thing. I’ve never been overly emotional. I don’t cry at sad movies, or at weddings. Honestly, the last time I REALLY cried was when my mother passed away.

Having said all of that, I do not think that it is so much of a “problem” crying because it’s embarrassing or girly, or for anything else; it’s more that I just don’t cry very often. Those of you who are Big Bang Theory fans will get this. No, I’m not a sociopath, my mother had me tested!