Friday, March 6, 2009

i wish i could do it more often

Today I wanted to tell a stranger that he smelled really good. I was walking into my building and he was walking on the sidewalk in front of me. I thought it, and I wondered about how often I have thoughts like that and what a different world it would be if I could just say, "Hey, you smell really good! It's nice!" and then skip along my merry way. Don't wait for a response or conversation, just smile and bolt. Let it sizzle.

Had the walk been 30 seconds longer I totally would have. I've done it before. It's just been a while.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A pleasant exchange

I'm not sure what it's like in other cities around the country, but here in Cambridge we have homeless/beggars/pan-handlers/whatever you want to call them, walking around busy intersections of traffic. Many hold signs telling of their woes and circumstances, carry empty Dunkin Donuts cups for their collections, wear heavy coats when it's warm, and trash bags when it's raining. I don't often give them money, I feel like I contribute to their care in other ways, but sometimes I may have some spare change to toss out the window. Often they look sad, unkempt, grumpy and worn.

Today I approached one of these intersections anticipating seeing my window friends. To my delight, one of my friends had a new sign:

If you don't have any change, Just smile.

He walked from car to car, holding the sign up to the windows, waving it back and forth with more energy and vigor than usual, doing a little dance and beaming at the cold hearted, icy Bostonian who couldn't help but smile. It was such a great thing to see. For a second I felt like I was at a Red Sox game. Feeling united somehow with strangers. I smiled at my intersection beggar friend and watched him in my rear view mirror going to the cars behind me. I'm confident he will make more money today.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Several people know sad tales of my childhood educational experiences. Today I was thinking about a few teachers/professors/instructors who challenged my experience that all teachers were just horrible and awful. I could seriously tell you stories, but that's not the purpose of this today. It is, instead, to again compliment the unsuspecting.

Mr Simmers was in high school. Sophomore year. Yes you kicked me out of your classroom once or twice, got after me for talking over you, and the like. You were the first teacher I can remember who helped me with my writing. Yours was the first class I ever read something I was assigned to read, A Separate Peace (and yes I cried at the end). You were the first teacher I remember actually talking to me about my work and my experience in your class. You took me on my first fishing trip. You let me skip my foods class and watch the OJ verdict in your classroom my senior year. You weren't my friend, and for that I am grateful. You were my teacher, one of the best I ever had. You were available but also never overly accessible so as to take away my own sense of responsibility for myself and my grades. You didn't provide me a handicap, but let me deal with the consequences of my choices. Thank you.

Mr Somebody was a professor I had my sophomore year in college. It's funny I can't remember you or the name of your class. The reason I include you is because it was in your class that I realized I was smart. Like really smart! Not overly smart or anything, but that I was intelligent and capable!! We read some of the Bahavagad Gita and portions of the Koran and other deeply thought provoking writings that I don't recall. I do recall loving it, thinking about it, having something to say about it, and writing it down. I also remember doing well! There was something about the way you approached that class that motivated me. I wanted to read; I wanted to impress you. I wanted to continue when the class was over. Thank you.

Ms Tohn -- an instructor in grad school. You are a little nutty but in the best possible way. I was always impressed by your passion and compassion for the work you did and the people you worked with. I loved your approach and how it liberated people, often breaking away from traditional therapy which can, at times, actually keep people stuck. I didn't always agree with everything you said, nor were you one I wanted to vocalize my disagreements with in class, but I found that we could always discuss and share ideas when I spoke with you. You were always very respectful of all people, accepting of different ideas and approaches (although some would disagree with me). You helped me finish out grad school, jumping through the necessary hoops and considering so many more options about what I could really do with this degree. Thank you!