25 Random Things About Me

I was tagged with this on Facebook by Amy Hassebrock a few days ago and posted my response on Facebook. today, I received a blog update from Michel Fortin, a famously successful copywriter, and CEO of The Success Doctor, Inc, who was likewise tagged for this, although not by Amy. He changed the rules on this a bit, and posted it to his blog, so I have added it to mine.

Here are the rules from Michel.
Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a post with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose five more people to be tagged. You also have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you. To do this, you simply link to their blogs so that they know you responded to their tag.
(You may include the above rules in your post so that the person being tagged knows them, too. You may also want to tweet your post to notify them on Twitter, too.)

1. I was born in sunny California.
2. All five of the Chadwick siblings were born in different states: Vermont, California, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. I am the second-born.
3. I had scarlet fever when we lived in Caribou, Maine, and my family had to be quarantined for 6 weeks.
4. My first poem was published when I was 15. Professor Malcolm Sedam from Miami University spoke to my Poetry class, read my poems, and took some of them back to the college and published them in an anthology.
5. I worked with Helen Steiner Rice when I was 17. Actually, her office was around the corner from my cubicle at Gibson. She had screaming fits on a regular basis and wore hats every day. Gibson paid for her suite at the Vernon Manor and a limo that brought her to and from work every day.
6. My older sister, Kim, fed me flies she caught in the back window of our car on the drive from CA to Maine. She told me they were raisins.
7. Kim decided one day that a tea party with her little sister—me—would be great. She served antifreeze. Mom rescued us.
8. I’ve had insomnia all my life.
9. I was a vegetarian for 15 years.
10. I won a Spelling Bee in 8th grade.
11. I was on the “It’s Academic” team in high school (Kings High School) and appeared on television. Steven Douglas was the moderator. Have no idea what happened to him.
12. I was also on the Debate Team in high school. We debated, “Resolved: that the United States should significantly change its method of choosing presidential candidates.” We argued for and against the Electoral College.
13. I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was 40. Now it is my favorite beverage.
14. I lived in Hanover, NH the summers after my sophomore and junior years with my grandmother and worked at what is now the Dartmouth Hitchcock Memorial Hospital.
15. My best friend, Rita Lester, died at the end of my junior year in high school. She drowned in the Little Miami River on the day I was elected president of the Student Council for the next school year.
16. I took violin lessons for three years in elementary school and still can’t read music notes.
17. I have been baking bread since I was 16 and am very good at it. I sold my homemade bread for just over a year when my kids were young. It cost $2 a loaf! I also make wonderful donuts and bagels. I love to bake.
18. I love to cook, but am not yet a great cook. I rely on my friends like Amy Hassebrock for great recipes—she is truly a phenomenal “chef.” (She’s too good to refer to as a cook.)
19. I am afraid of clowns and I find mimes irritating. Ironically I was in a drama group at church called The Agape Players and we wore white face like mimes do. Toughest makeup in the world to remove.
20. I used to sing professionally.
21. I have always wanted to be a writer. I got sidetracked a few times, but have always returned to writing and now make my living writing and editing.
22. I haven’t had a vacation since 1998 when Sam, my youngest daughter, and I went to Niagara Falls for three days.
23. I can read faster than anyone I know. It is one of my weird talents. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures.
24. I hate to shop, except when it comes to shopping for appliances or books.
25. I am happier now than I have ever been in my life. Even though there are “difficulties” in my family, I am at peace with God, writing and editing for a living, and close to my parents.

Published in: on January 30, 2009 at 10:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

The End Justifies the Meanness

For the past few weeks I have been dealing with incompetents—people, I confess, for whom I have little—okay, no—patience.

I will also admit that I don’t always know the answer to a question or the solution to a problem, but as a lifelong research enthusiast, I do know where to find the information I need.

I will also confess that I am a bit of a smart-aleck. Borrowing a line from Topher Grace’s character in “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton,” I can slay someone with my “biting rhetoric.”

So my base inclination when I am saddled with an incompetent customer service representative is to vent my spleen—not using profanity—that is the crutch of the ignorant—but with a turn of phrase that lets this incompetent feel their lack, elevates their opinion of my importance to someone they do NOT want to mess with, and makes them do it my way just so they can feel better about themselves.

I have always had this particular talent and, at various times in my life, it has been a positive. It has kept me from having “the crap beat out of” me by school bullies, it has forced a hospital to give my daughter the care she needed, it has enabled me to write and sell some of my funniest humor columns.

But, for the most part, it has been a negative. Yes, I have “motivated” people to “get ‘er done” but at what cost to themselves, and ultimately to me?

In the first century, Phaedrus wrote: A fly bit the bare pate of a bald man, who in endeavouring to crush it gave himself a hard slap. Then said the fly jeeringly, “You wanted to revenge the sting of a tiny insect with death; what will you do to yourself, who have added insult to injury?”

Proverbs 18:21 states, in part, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Earlier in Proverbs, it is written, “The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin” (13:3).

King David, the psalmist, wrote, “LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman” (Psalm 15:1-3, NIV).

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92), England’s best-known preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century, expanded on Psalm 15:3 in his magnum opus, The Treasury of David:

There is a sinful way of backbiting with the heart when we think too hardly of a neighbour, but it is the tongue which does the mischief. Some men’s tongues bite more than their teeth. The tongue is not steel, but it cuts, . . . He who bridles his tongue will not give a licence to his hand. Loving our neighbour as ourselves will make us jealous of his good name, careful not to injure his estate, or by ill example to corrupt his character. Our Lord spake evil of no man, but breathed a prayer for his foes; we must be like him, or we shall never be with him.

Therefore, in the light that is cast upon my particular talent by these and other notable and wise writers, I will have to conclude that there is a high cost, not only to the victim of my “biting rhetoric” but also to me in “unbridling” my tongue.

I have “weighed, measured, and found wanting” too many people over the years, and if I am ever weighed and measured in that same manner, I, too, would be found wanting.

It is a universal truth that “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2, KJV).

The New International Version puts it in plainer speech: “The way that you judge others will be the way that you will be judged, and you will be evaluated by the standard with which you evaluate others.”


I will be taking these warnings to heart, dear readers. God save me from the day when I am evaluated as cruelly as I evaluate others.

Published in: on January 13, 2009 at 4:24 pm  Comments (2)  

Umbilicus Removus

If I had my druthers, this is how a recent conversation with my 20 year-old daughter, Samantha, would have played out:

Sam: Oh, most beautiful mother in the entire world, I have been asked by a friend to take a trip to sunny southern California for a week after Christmas. Have you lost weight? By the way, this friend is paying for the round-trip ticket. May I go?

Me: Is there a ticket for me also?

Sam: Of course! I would never go anywhere without you—you are my best friend. By the way, your hair looks especially lovely today.

Me: Then let’s book the tanning booth and starve ourselves until take off, oh dutiful, obedient, and loving daughter of mine.

Sam is my baby—the youngest of my three daughters. After having my first two children before I reached the age of 22, it was another seven years before I had Sam—nine months to the day before my 30th birthday. The wait was due both to my divorce and to careful planning after I had remarried at age 28.

I don’t know if I was a better mother at 29 than I was at 19, but I was certainly calmer. By that age, and after two other children, it took quite a bit more than projectile vomiting or a bean stuck in the child’s nose to rattle me.

As Sam’s mom—the woman umbilically-bound to her for 40 weeks who labored painfully for 36 hours to bring her into this world, nearly died, and had to have her cut from my poor, exhausted body (not that I am complaining or trying to heap any guilt on you, Sam)—I have to brag on her a bit.

Sam slept through the night at three weeks, weaned herself off the bottle (throwing it against a wall in a fit of pique) at nine months, potty-trained herself (read: pulled off her diaper and ran around naked refusing to let anyone re-diaper her) and learned to walk (hence the running from the diaper-wielding foe) at 11 months, and invented the Internet at 13 months.

Sam has always been incredibly smart and very independent. I was proud of her accomplishments at such an early age, but I was also a wee bit sad, because the more she learned, the less she needed me.

Oh, there were times when she did need me desperately. In 1992, when she was four-years-old, she needed me to give her “big hair like Mommy’s” before she went to church Easter Sunday. She needed me to watch attentively and listen rapturously when she rode her new big girl bike over the speed bumps in the parking lot of our apartment, singing at the top of her lungs “Booty and the Beee-eeeast” (the last word always punctuated by the speed bump maneuver, which cracked her up). She needed me to buy her a “cimmenem” roll at McDonalds in the morning before I dropped her at the sitter’s home. She needed me to sing Achy Breaky Heart with her at the top of our lungs on our long trips from our home in Norwalk, Ohio, to her dad’s house in Independence, Kentucky, every other weekend.

Sam would not need me again until it was time to buy her first homecoming dress. The only reason she needed me at that time was because she and her friends were too young to drive (they were all 14), and they needed to go to Eastgate Mall to shop. Of course, I was not to be seen with them, I was to wait at the food court being terrorized by a mime until she and her friends were ready for me to chauffeur them home.

Later she would need me, briefly, to fill out the mountain of financial forms for her first year of college.

In 2006, the invisible umbilical cord—that tug in my heart every time my daughter left my sight—was stretched even further when Sam left for her first year of college. Helping her unpack in her dorm room at Xavier University, I realized that I would no longer hear her voice every single day, she would no longer be walking in the door at night, throwing down, first her purse, and then herself on my lap (whooomf) so she could tell me all about her day while I scratched her back or brushed her hair. We would no longer have our weekly DAY-DAYDAY of BEAUTY-BEAUTYBEAUTY! (we always imitated the voice-over guy on the monster-truck rally commercials when we said that phrase) on Sunday afternoons when we would do each other’s hair, nails, and makeup—a tradition with us since she was five-years-old (imagine me with every color of the rainbow on my face and a dozen teeny-tiny, sparkly barrettes in my hair and orange Day-Glo® nail polish covering all of my cuticles and halfway to my knuckles). But I consoled myself with the knowledge that she was only about a 30 minute drive away from me.

However, a few weeks ago, the California conversation occurred. This is how it actually went:

Sam: MOM! (Yes, that was uttered in a loud squeal) He called me! He wants me to come and visit him in California! On the Marine base! He told me to book a flight—he is paying for it—and he’s going to show me around California! He asked me what I wanted to see first and I said, “The Hollywood sign!” And he said, “The Hollywood sign?” And I said, “Yeah, you know those big white letters on the side of the hill?” And he laughed. I am so excited, Mom. (deep breath here) Isn’t that exciting?

And over the loud thwap thwap thwap sound of the umbilical cord detaching itself from between my baby daughter and me and winding back into my body, I said:

“Yes, Sam. That is very exciting. You’ll have a wonderful time.”*

* Sam left for California this morning. I have found consolation, not only in the fact that she is responsible and trustworthy and has been friends with this young man since she was 14 when he came home for a visit during his first tour in Iraq, but also in the fact that her dad, with whom she is very close, has been, admirably, nearly apoplectic with worry over this trip, and driving Sam bonkers. That is, after all, what a father is supposed to do with his little girl. It makes up for the fact that I was umbilically-bound to her for 40 weeks, labored painfully for 36 hours to bring her into this world, nearly died, and had to have her cut from my poor, exhausted body (not that I am complaining or trying to heap any guilt on you, Sam).

Published in: on January 1, 2009 at 1:07 am  Comments (1)  
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