F*ck Resistance!

Books are dangerous. The best ones should be labeled: ‘This could change your life!'” Helen Exley, author of several little books about wisdom, is credited to have penned that statement. However, I could have written it from my own experience. 
Most recently, I’ve had my life completely wrecked by a book. I warn you now, dear reader, should you decide to read any further, you may find your life irrevocably changed as well. 
The book is Steven Pressfield’s, War of Art, and although a friend of mine has already written a great newspaper column praising Pressfield’s ideas, I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject too–especially as I’m the one who told him to read it in the first place. 
The War of Art is designed to help you, “break through your creative barriers.” I should mention that by, “break through creative barriers,” Pressfield really means, “Give you that Incredible Hulk punch in the face you know you deserve.” I’m not going to lie, it’s an agonizingly painful read. If Pressfield’s book were a Sunday sermon, everyone would heed the altar call and promise to tithe faithfully.  Have you decided to read it yet? I shall try to persuade you further.
 Pressfield’s book is aimed at writers, artists, and the like, but I’m certain that anyone who reads it will come away a changed person. The idea he conveys is that we are all driven to do something creative and important; something that could potentially change someone’s life, if not the world we live in.  If we don’t accomplish this, we cheat all of humanity from the beauty we were born to give the world. Sounds light and encouraging, right? Wrong. Pressfield also states that there is a malevolent force at work keeping us from our destiny. He calls this force, Resistance–with a capital R–and I promise you, not only are you already intimate with this enemy, it is most likely kicking your tail. That’s why reading this book hurts so much, you realize that you’ve been letting Resistance win, and you haven’t even fought back! Listen to Pressfield here:

Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.”

If you’ve ever made a resolution, decided to get in shape, chosen to open that cupcake store, start that novel, finish that degree, learn to knit, trace the genealogy of your family, or any number of self-bettering goals, I promise you, you have felt the icy force of Resistance fighting your chosen venture. Resistance, according to Pressfield, takes all shapes and forms; from procrastination and laziness to other’s negative comments disguised as unsolicited advice, but take heart; Resistance can be fought and used against itself. Pressfield suggests using Resistance like a compass of sorts. 

“The more Resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art/project/enterprise is to you –the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.”

It was that statement that wrecked me. 

You see, three years ago I wrote a piece detailing how I planned to pursue the long-shelved dream of getting my master’s degree in library science and become a librarian. At the time, I still had not yet finished my bachelor’s degree. I’m proud to say that less than a year later, I had not only achieved my bachelor’s, but was working as the Children’s Librarian at Lannom Library. 
All seemed right in my world, that is until I read this blankety-blank book.

During my stint as Children’s Librarian, I would often have misty thoughts about continuing my education and finally acquiring my master’s degree, but I always had a convenient excuse. My excuses were valid, of course, but that’s how Resistance works! Resistance is a sneaky little devil!

 You’re already working in a library, why do you need the master’s degree?
Getting your bachelor’s was enough. Be happy with that. 
There’s no way you can keep working full-time, be the mom and wife you need to be, and get your master’s.
You can’t afford it. 
There’s no way you’ll do well on the GRE.

There it was. Resistance manifested in my biggest fear, the GRE. 
When I read Pressfield’s words about completing the thing you feel Resistance fighting the most, I knew what I had known for three years but coldly chose to ignore.  I had to continue my journey. 

Tuesday, February 24 was my last day as Children’s Librarian at Lannom. While I was teary-eyed and understandably sad to leave my co-workers and storytime kids, I can’t help but be filled with bouncy excitement about starting my master’s program this August. I’m scheduled to take the blood curdling GRE in April and plan on knocking it out of of the park. Exterior Resistance has already manifested by others offering advice; saying things like, “Shouldn’t you have waited until you took the test/ got accepted into the program before leaving your job?” What they don’t realize is, I’ve given myself no other option but to follow through on this gut-tugging calling. Having eliminated Resistance’s excuses and armed with a super-supportive spouse,  I’m moving toward my goal. 

I know my enemy won’t be vanquished long and will rear its foul head in boredom, procrastination, fatigue, distractions, fear, and those dreaded naysayers. I’m planning, however, to fight Resistance daily with all that I have, because as Pressfield says, 
This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny.”

Who’s ready to start fighting?
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Dear Florence,

Estate sales always bring up mental Polaroids of costume jewelry to me. I’m not sure why these two terms are synonymous in my wild brain, but they are. Every “estate sale” yard sign conjures sepia toned pictures of tarnished silver prongs loosely holding yellowing rhinestones, ancient brooches that more than likely squeak in agony when opened, rows of fake cameos, and pearl necklaces galore–all of them nestled in a display on a black velvet material (which tries its best to class them up.)

I own my fair share of old 1950’s- 1960’s era costume jewelry. There’s something about old things that I adore. I can’t help but wonder at their original owner. Was the piece a gift? Was it purchased for a specific event? Did she wear it to a formal, luncheon, wedding reception, women’s club meeting, the Kentucky Derby, or an anniversary date with her husband? Did she wear little white gloves and a pillbox hat or a little black A-line dress? Did she have a fur stole the brooch was pinned on?

There’s a Woody Allen film I love called “Midnight in Paris” where the protagonist, a romantic writer, dreams to one day own a nostalgia shoppe. People close to him in the film think he’s crazy, but I get him 100%. I’ve always had an affinity for antiques, but more important to me, the human stories the antiques tell. I love being able to recognize myself and my own emotions, motivations, and concerns in the things of the past. I think we all do.

We can all relate to the mom on a rusty tin sign advertising the use of a “New and Improved” biscuit powder. She’s busy, but she wants the best for her family the same as we do.
We can study the faces on the old photographs for sale in antique malls and see the same sparkle in the lovers’ eyes that we share when we lock eyes with our soul-mates.
We can thumb through old record albums and tell which songs were the most loved by how worn they are. How many times do we listen to our favorite song on our iPod?

A few months back I went on a road trip with some girlfriends and we ended up in an antique store. (We’re wild and crazy like that.)
I, like I usually do, immediately start looking through postcards and letters. As a self proclaimed letter writer, I can’t tell you the joy I get from reading old correspondence from the past. One letter gripped me in spite of, or because of, its incompleteness. Only a third of it existed in tact, front and back. It began like this:

November 10, 1929
Florence,
Tonight is Sunday, and I had a strong desire to be with you, but as things are not as…”

I know!!!

There was more on the back.

“Tonight I went to a tea dance in Jefferson Hall. I saw Mary Ella and she told me that she had just heard from you. That made me want to hear too, so please answer more promptly than I am want to do.”

The signature was missing. I scoured the entire antique store looking for the rest of it to no avail.
I don’t think we’ll ever know who Florence’s friend was–or if she wore a rhinestone brooch to that tea dance.

Romanticizing objects, particularly clothing, is one way my brain stays entertained. I can recall outfits I wore to functions, on dates, to shows, and on various shenanigans. When I put on a certain dress or shirt I am prone to say to myself, “This is what I wore when…”

I wonder if other people do that.

I also can’t help but wonder if, in the far future, there will be a lady wondering who wore my (now new) red dress? To what function? With whom did she attend it? Was it a happy occasion or a sad one?
Maybe this futuristic lady will even poke around to see if there’s anything written about my red dress.
Well, look at that–now there is.

Panty Problems

​I have panty problems. How’s that for an opening line? I bought new panties today. Not the slinky and sexy lacy thongs on tiny individual hangers, but those big ole’ cotton ones that come three to a pack–rolled up, taped, and shrunk wrapped for bulk sale. It’s been a long time since I bought any underwear of the granny panty variety, and while I was standing in the undie aisle of the dollar market studying the different types of panties, it suddenly dawned on me how unfair it all was.

​These days, when you log into any social network or go to any news site you’ll be inundated with article after article about the continued fight for women’s equality and what #feminism looks like in 2014. There have been memes where men have proudly proclaimed their feminist beliefs with graffiti covered cardboard signs, charts and graphs depicting the pay scale difference still existing between the sexes, and hastags like the most recent #yesallwomen to bring even more awareness to society’s continued unequal treatment between the sexes even in our enlightened age. As most articles deal with serious issues like rape, abuse, and birth control, it seems like the online discussion has hit all the ways how the modern American can improve their perspective on the sexes—all the ways except one—sizing.

​“Hey babe, pick me up some work khakis while you’re out today, would ya?” the hot-as-hell hubby asks.
​“Sure thing.” I answer and kiss him goodbye.

​Such has been a regular occurrence for nearly 15 years. Most of the clothes, socks, and underwear he owns was purchased by me WITHOUT his presence. I’ve taken this for granted, as I assume most other wives and moms do, but let’s think about it for a second. Exactly how many husbands routinely buy pants for their wives WITHOUT THEIR WIVES TRYING THEM ON? That concept is so foreign to my brain, that I can’t even seriously consider it, and yet while my husband never darkens the store, let alone the fitting room, every pair of pants I buy him magically fit every time.

​36”x 34”
​Boom.
​Done.
​The measurements fit, and the pants fit.
​Underwear? No problem! IT’S THE SAME MEASUEMENT IN THE WAIST!
​I wonder if men are even aware that when we women buy clothes and underwear, it’s an ENTIRELY different experience.

​Let’s say I need new pants. I wear a size 14, and I’m tall for a gal. Just go buy a size 14 tall, right? WRONG! (but thanks for playing, here’s your parting gift—dry shampoo!)
​Pants can be low-waist, hi-waist, mid-rise, classic fit, stretch, hidden control panel, skinny, boot-cut, flare, and capri just to name a few. A size 14 in one type of pant does not equal a size 14 in another type of pant—even by the same manufacture! Trying them on is the only way to ensure a good fit—and even then you may get it wrong. I have a pair of navy ankle-length-skinny-pants that I fell madly in love with in the dressing room. I wore them the next day to work, only to find out the fit that I adored only lasted for about 3 hours. They got bigger and bigger as the day wore on thanks to the stretch fabric they were made of. I very nearly lost them during a particularly active dance number with the kiddos during story-time, and spend 90% of my work day hiking them up over my hips. Nope, a belt wouldn’t work, don’t even suggest it. (They are only faux belt loops. I have no idea why.)
​It seems to me that women have somehow gotten the sour end of the sizing deal. Why can’t we rely on measurements of waists and inseams like our male counterparts? Why do our size numbers seem so arbitrary? It’s almost like they don’t even matter at all!
​“Grab a 12, 14, and 16—I’ll try them all.”
​You men sigh and slink back to a chair to wait in quiet frustration as we head to dressing rooms with our arms full of jeans and pants. Bless your little heats. Well, I guaran-damn-tee you that we’re hell of a lot more frustrated than you as we slough off pair after pair of pants that don’t fit.
​But it’s not just pants—oh no!
​Let’s get back to my panties! I mean, let’s get back to panties!
​I wear a size 8.
​Wait, WHAT??
​A size 8?? To cover the same part of my body that is a size 14?
​Da fuq?
​Follow the blue hairs to the panty aisle next time you’re in Walmart or Target. I know, it’s daunting, but look through all the briefs, boy shorts, thongs, G strings, hi-cut, low-cut, French-cut, bikinis, full coverage, hi-waisted, and low-rise panties. Grab a 3 pack of bikini briefs and flip it over. There you will find a size chart. It’s not just S,M,L,XL like the men’s underwear—because that would just be ridiculously simple! No, we women have to have size charts that read like wall street stock sales graphs! There are boxes shaded in different measurements under all sorts of size numbers.
​“So, according to this chart, I wear a 7, but this chart has me wearing a 9? But…I wear a size 14 pant, and a size Medium tee-shirt….shit, I don’t know, I’ll just grab these.”
​You want to know what really sucks for women? The same rule that applies to pants also applies to panties—there’s no way to be sure until you try them on—and you CAN’T try on panties. Ergo, we’re never-ever sure if the panties we buy will fit us, despite the scientific looking mathematical scales, numbers, and graphs on the packages.
​ I could go back to Disney world on all the money I’ve spent on panties that, according to the size chart, should have fit but didn’t. Damn them.
​While you’re in the ladies’ underwear section looking about, mosey over to the panty hose and tights aisle. There you’ll find A,B,C,D,and Q—among other sizes. Yeah, I know…COMPLETELY different. Flip over a package and read those size charts. As far as I know, this is the only place where the inseam will factor into the size, except they don’t actually list the inseam measurement—just your height in ranges.
​“So, do I go with the 5’6” – 5’9” or 5’10” – 6′ ? D or Q? Hell, just grab one of both.”
​The charts on the back of panty-hose also have weight on them. You’ve gotta match your height AND your weight to find your size. Is there ANY male equivalent to this? Do men have to find how much they weigh on a chart in order to buy underwear? It’s humiliating! I will buy tanning cream to slather on my legs before buying panty hose just for this reason!
​Are you understanding the kind of problem I’m talking about, now?
​I wear a size 14. I also wear a size 8, Q, D, M, L and XL.
​Unless I don’t.
​The panties I just bought? They’re inching there way down my hips as I sit and type this. #yesallwomen #equalpayandequalsizes #pantyproblems #keeponhikingthemup

Interstate and iTunes: A Memory Resurfaces

 

I made the switch from Droid to iPhone with my last contract upgrade, and have been an overly enthusiastic johnny-come-lately to the world of itunes. Ok, who am I kidding? I’m overly enthusiastic about most things. This itunes thing, though. WHOA! How cool is THIS? I can download song after song, and share it on all my apple devices! My favorite feature, by far, is the iTunes radio—specifically the Disney radio channel. Those who know me (or have read me) know that I have a love for Disney musicals that is rivaled only slightly by my love for Christmas music. Wow. That sentence just up the ante on my nerd value. Despite the increased nerd wattage, I’ve been listening to the Disney Radio Station with my kids (and maybe without them.) We’ve rocked car dance parties and after school sing-a-longs to some of my favorite childhood memories and new Disney soundtrack favorites. “Supercalifragilisticegspealidocious,” “Bear Necessities,” “Whistle While you Work,” “You Ain’t Never had a Friend Like Me,” “Be Our Guest,” “Hakuna Matata,” “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” and countless others. We love them all.

OK, so not all of them. I skip all the High School Musical/Camp Rock/Phineas and Ferb nonsense. Just give me the Disney movie musicals, please and thank you.

Today, while I was Nashville bound on I-24 with my little boy in tow, a funny thing happened to me . He and I had just finished a rousing dance party number “When Can I See You Again?” from Wreck it Ralph, when the next song brought to surface for me a memory I had all but forgotten.

Many years earlier, I was traveling down the same stretch of interstate on a big, yellow school bus. We were on a field trip to see the Sam Davis Home, and I was feeling a self-imposed loneliness and artistic melancholy—think Aly Sheedy’s Breakfast club character, only in 4th grade. I remember feeling the cool glass of the rectangle shaped window on my forehead as I lay pitifully against it. I was a total drama queen before being a drama queen was cool. Lost in my own thoughts, I began singing a low, mournful song. “So this is Love” from Cinderella. I know, I know, not exactly a dark, emotionally cutting tune, true—but it has these swooping “Mmmmmm’s” all through it that I was really feeling, you know? I sang it through maybe twice before another fourth grade body plopped itself down beside me.

“What’cha singing?”

Hello? Didn’t you hear me?

“So this is love”

“Don’t know it.”

Yeah, I wouldn’t expect you to. It’s from a musical!

“It’s from Cinderella.

“The band?”

“Band? What band? No…it’s… a movie.”

“Oh! Cinderella! HA! HA! Like the cartoon?”

I was red-faced with embarrassment and anger. Not only had I been called out for watching cartoons, but my favorite one had just been disparaged by a little girl in a Guns-N-Roses tee-shirt!

“You sing pretty, though.”

Well, at least her musical ear wasn’t that bad.

“Thanks.”

“You know any other songs?”

To this day, I can’t tell you why I said what I said next. Although, I’m sure something about my own superiority feeling threatened by a little girl wearing Axle Rose’s face on her chest had a thing or two to do with it.

“I write my own songs too.”

What? Why did I say that?

She lit up. “You do?! Sing me one!”

Crap.

Judging her (in more ways than one) by her shirt, I assessed quickly that she had zero knowledge of Tiffany’s album. You remember Tiffany, don’t you? The red-headed-mall-singer? “I think we’re alone now…” Yeah, her. I had the entire cassette tape memorized, so I began singing a bit of one of the deep tracks on it—one I was certain she had never heard.

“...and what do I do now with all this time?” I crooned “That’s all I’ve got so far.” I lied.

“That’s really good! Have you written any more?”

Again, I have no idea why I felt so against the commandment about bearing false witness, but another lying fit seized me before I could stop it. “I’ve actually been thinking about a few lines earlier. Man!” I lamented, “I wish I had a pencil and paper.”

She stood up abruptly and asked everyone on the bus, “ANYONE GOT A PENCIL AND PAPER? SHARON’S GONNA WRITE US A SONG!”

Oh, Jesus! Crap, that’s two commandments in one day. Here’s hoping I don’t see my neighbor’s ass.

She procured a pencil and a few torn pages of paper ripped, no doubt, from a unicorn covered Lisa Frank spiral notebook; then handed both to me while smiling widely. “Here ya go! Now, write!”

I took them and told her seriously and with adult-like weight, “I’ll need a minute.”

She went back to her original seat, and left me to my creative devices. The trouble was, I didn’t have any creative devices! I quickly thought of all the songs that I knew that she certainly didn’t—and not just her, she was telling the entire 4th grade that I was a songwriter! I quickly pieced together some Karen Carpenter, Mama’s and Papas, 40’s big band, and southern gospel lyrics in a cross-genre Frankenstein of a song. I even included some of those “Mmmmmms” I loved so much in the Cinderella tune.

“We’re almost back at school, you got it wrote yet?”

“Some of it.”

“Good. I asked the teachers if you could sing it for us when we get back in the classroom! Yay!”

Kill me. Kill me now.

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea. I mean I’m really private about my music.” God help me, I think I may have even flipped my hair over my shoulder when I said this.

“Oh..ok..that’s cool. Well, Just sing it to me then?”

I cleared my throat and picked another Tiffany tune to stick the patch-worked lyrics to and sold it as best as I could with many closed-eyed-head-sways to the music.

“You’re gonna grow up and be famous, you know that?” She brightened. “Hey, can I have this? You could sign it, and I’ll keep it—someday it’ll be worth something.”

I happily obliged and signed my very first autograph. (three more followed in my illustrious vocal career.)

I had a good laugh at myself today when that memory came flooding back to me—in technicolor–with Disney music playing on top of my interstate view. I can’t believe I was ever that sophomoric and high and mighty. I feel bad about this, but I can’t help but wonder how long she kept that craptastic song I “wrote.” I wish I could see it again—hell, I could even record it and sell it on itunes. I just wonder what genre channel it would go on.

 

 

I Have Great Taste, Dammit!

“Everyone thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor, but we can’t all possibly have good taste!” –Nora Ephron

Nora wrote gems like that. Some were used in movies while others were part of her column or books that she penned later in life. She was an absolute truth-teller. At her own expense and even when we didn’t want to hear the truth, she entertained us all with her words. I adore her and cried when I heard of her passing.

But I don’t want to talk about that, I bring her up to tell you that I am one of those people who thinks they have great taste AND a sense of humor. No. I don’t think it. I know it to be a certainty.  I have great taste in decorating, fashion, friends, food, and music to name a few. I take great pride in it, especially my taste in music. Hell, I even majored in Music in college! From classical to bluegrass and everything in between, why I can bore you with details about it all. I can play “name that composer” on NPR with shocking accuracy. I also do my best to stay current with local Nashville area bands and folk and indie artists of today. Like all hipsters who denounce being classified as a hipster, I elevate myself among others whose taste in music is “beneath” my own. This time of year, however, I morph into a crappy music lover.

I blame Christmas in all its fucking glory! Christmas has me “fa la la la la’ing” through the house like an elf on home-cooked meth! If the song has bells, a celesta, a slap stick, and Richard Carpenter’s vocals dubbed over 12 times, I’ll be singing right along—loudly.  Please do not judge me when you see me wiping away a tear through that last verse of “Christmas Shoes.” (You just judged me, didn’t you?) Don’t get all high and mighty in your skinny jeans and infinity scarf should you see me dancing in my car to “Feliz Navidad.”  One of my many guilty pleasures is a local station that plays all Christmas music this time of year. Their primary goal inevitably must be to pick out and play the crappiest and cheesiest of Christmas songs.  Case in point, they’re currently giving away tickets to see John Tesh in concert.

Yes. I know. I should be embarrassed, and I used to be!

I used to hide that I listen to this particular station—quickly changing the dial to the “cool music station” whenever someone got in the car. I used to blush when I began to pop in the Carpenter’s Christmas Portrait and sing. (the entire thing, top to bottom, I have memorized. I can sing all of Karen and Richard’s voice parts.) I used to feel that my love for all things Christmas music related couldn’t possibly coexist with the great taste in music that I take elitist pride in. I mean, in what brain is there a mutual respect for John Lennon and The Chipmunks?

I’d still like my hula-hoop, dammit.

I’ve since reconciled my bi-polar musical taste by doing what most parents do, blaming it on my children.  I listen to the craptasic tunes to make their Christmas a “Holly-Jolly” one—by gosh, by golly. I’m leading Christmas sing-a-longs in the car in an effort to boost Christmas cheer!

“Take it away, Russ!”

“…………….”

“Fa la la la la la la la la!”

I’m the picture of Christmas Spirit for my kids. I’m a good parent! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it; even though it’s completely laughable.  After all, I have great taste AND a sense of humor.

Return of the Jedi

Well hello there, all of you!

I certainly have been amazed, blown away, speechless, taken aback, and any other synonym for jaw-dropped-in-shock that’s in the Thesaurus, by the response from the last blog. What I intended as a thank you letter to a gentleman who went out of his way to help me has become a living entity on the interwebs–taking on a life of its own and reaching thousands with a “message” of tolerance, grace, and gratitude. I didn’t intend for it to become a rallying point for Autism Awareness, but somehow it has. I would like to state for the public record here and now that I am, by no means, an expert or authority on Autism. I am however an expert on our son, Josiah. That being said, I will now field all the Autism questions to advocacy and awareness groups.

I admit it, I have been dreading this act; sitting and staring at the white blog post square and blinking cursor. Ever since the site views began to climb higher than my record number (a whopping 172), I have wondered, “How do I follow that?” 

If you have read any of my other blogs, you’ve seen that I’m oftentimes irreverent, foul-mouthed, snarky, and sassy. The blog post that went viral was not an accurate representation of what I typically write, although I should probably take a hint from all the “likes” and “shares” that the thank you letter got and begin writing sweet Chicken Soup for the Soul type of things.

Nah.

I couldn’t if I tried. It was just a fluke, I suppose.

I told the now-famous Jedi, David Piggott, of my anxiety about my next blog.

“I have an idea.” he wrote. “You should post my reply, since hardly anyone saw it.”

“YES! That’s fantastic!” I quipped back.

So, I’ll continue to procrastinate penning my next blog, and let the master himself take care of this’un.

 

Hi Sharon, this is your friend the Jedi master. I just wanted to let you know that I got your beautiful thank you message. I’ve read it quite a few times and I am so moved by who you are and how you have shared this with the world.

I vividly remember you and Josiah and your daughter, and on behalf of everyone at the Jedi training academy, thank you for your sincere and heart-felt appreciation.

This story has literally gone viral like you wouldn’t believe, even to the Jedi order on the west coast and around the world!

You need to see what people have written, it’s beautiful, full of love and warms my heart. Add me on Facebook, it will surprise you!

I am most moved by who you are. A loving mother who will do anything to make sure her son experiences everything that life has to offer. Your commitment and sacrifice every single day is what makes the real difference.

You have opened people’s eyes to what it is like to have a child with autism and that even the smallest gesture can completely alter somone’s experience of life.

The ripple effect of love and compassion that you have caused is unmeasurable and just sharing this has altered people’s days, made them smile, made them cry and reminded them what it’s like to be a loving human being.

Thank you Sharon, inspired, moved and humbled…

David Piggott

P.s. If Josiah wants a rematch with Darth Vader, we would be more than glad to accommodate that! Please let me know.

  

 

The Most Beautiful Ruined Moment

image

Dear Master Jedi,
       
       This is an open letter of deep appreciation to you. I hope that somehow it finds its way to your computer screen.

     You are an actor, and a damn funny one to boot. You’re really skilled at working with the unpredictably of kids and turning it into entertainment. I really hope that when you auditioned for and won this gig, that you’ve been as pleased with your job as your audiences have been with your performance. I also hope that this leads to bigger and better things, if that’s what you choose. You’re a supremely decent man and I’m ever in your debt for how you helped me out Tuesday, June 4th at the end of the last show of the day.

You see, during the months of planning for our Disneyworld trip, I found out about the Jedi Training Academy in Hollywood Studios and knew that my little boy would LOVE participating in it. He has been diagnosed with autism, and is typically oblivious to what goes on around him–except for Star Wars. I found an online clip of the Jedi Academy that some parent uploaded and showed him. He was so excited!

“I want to do that! I want to fight Darth Vader!”

He so very seldom really communicates with us that when he does, I move heaven and earth to keep that connection going. He wanted to fight Darth Vader, huh? Then by God, he would.

When we arrived at Hollywood Studios at the ribbon drop, I high-tailed it to sign up for the Jedi Training. There was already a huge line, and I was a little worried that all the spots would fill up before we reached the front of it. I was also concerned because the workers at the front were asking the KIDS questions to ascertain if they can follow instructions. I squatted down and had a little pep talk with my boy.

“Josiah, look at me, please. Look at me. Good. Listen to me. Are your ears on? Good. That lady is going to ask you how old you are. Do you know how old you are? Eight! That’s right! Now, you HAVE  talk to her, OK? I mean it, sweetie. When she talks to you, you talk back, or she won’t let you fight Darth Vader.” He never gave any sign of recognition, but I hoped that he understood. We’ve been working on appropriate conversation skills for months now, and I was counting on that therapy to kick in high gear for him in this moment.

It’s our turn! Here we go.

“Hello and good morning!” Said a bright and cheery Disney cast member to Josiah. (They are ALL bright and cheery.) “Are you ready to battle the Dark Side?”

“Yes.” Josiah mumbled.

Oh my God! He talked to her!

“Good! We need brave Jedis like you. How old are you?”

Josiah hesitated. She asked him again. I was about to answer for him when he said, “I eight.”

Yes!

“Eight. That’s great! Now, can you follow directions?”

Josiah blinked at her.

“If I told you to raise your hands, what would you…Good!”

Josiah had risen his hands up high before she finished her question.

Because of this miracle of a “conversation” we were able to secure two spots for both of our kids in the 8:00 show. (our daughter decided she wanted to be a Jedi too) Perfect! This is going to be something they’ll remember their entire life!

After signing up, we went about our sight-seeing of the park–riding Star Tours 3 times in the process. Before and after each ride or attraction, my son asked, “Am I going to fight Darth Vader now?”
“No.” I’d reply. “After supper. Have you eaten supper yet?”
“Oh. That’s right.” He’d sigh. Then we’d have the same conversation again in about twenty minutes.

The day went on, and a storm blew through. I was glad that our Jedi training was after the big storm. Yay for us, right?

Accordingly, after we ate supper at Hollywood and Vine, I took both of my Padawans by the hand, and led them to the Jedi training to suit up in their robes.

“Now? Is it time to fight Darth Vader now?” He anxiously asked.

“Almost, sweetie. Almost.”

They led the kids to the stage and there we saw you, Mr. Jedi-man. You were funny, entertaining, and great with the kids.

Then, Darth Vader made a wonderfully dramatic entrance!

Omg. Here we go!

I looked at Josiah’s face which was plastered with the biggest grin I’d ever seen.

My face was too.

The assisting Jedi sent kid after kid to center stage to battle the Sith Lord. My daughter, Esther was so cute! She stood so far away from him to “fight.” I laughed and enjoyed watching her.

This is so cute!

Five left…Now four. It began to sprinkle rain.

Three left. Now two. Now….

“We’re sorry ladies and gentlemen. Due to the rain, the Jedi academy is closed.”

Josiah stood there onstage; lightsaber at the ready. He turned and locked his eyes on mine. Then he screwed his face up and cried.

“No! Nooooo! I didn’t get to!”

He ran to me and I held him while he cried.

I’m sure most people would, on observing this, assume he is spoiled. I assure you he isn’t.

This is Autism. He was fixated on something, then didn’t get to do it. The vacation would be ruined for him–and we were only in day two of it. Nothing we do can ever get him back on track once he derails. I began to cry despite myself. This would be all he would remember of his Disney trip.

I locked eyes with you. Do you remember? I was crying like a blubbering dummy.

I motioned for you to come to me. You stood there and looked around for a second. I motioned again. You took a hesitant step my way…then another. We stood face to face in the pouring rain.

“He’s autistic.” I choked out. “This is all he’s talked about all day. Is there anything you can do?”

“Meet me around the side there.” You nobly said. Kudos to staying in character the entire time, by the way.

We made our way around to the side of the stage, amid a sea of parents, kids, and cheery cast members.

There you were, waiting all Jedi-like in an alcove. Waiting for Josiah.

You then made a “Grand presentation” to him and gave him Darth Vader’s lightsaber–autographed by the Dark Lord himself!

Say what!?

Josiah was in awe. You gave him the moon, Mr. Jedi Master. You fixed his day…his entire vacation! You got him back on track.

I couldn’t help but cry, and I’m crying now remembering your generosity of spirit for my little boy. You easily could have thrown your hands up when I motioned for you. You could have pointed to your character handler and shrugged a fake “I’m sorry.” You could have simply ignored me and turned your back.

But you didn’t.

You may not even remember this moment, it was so small for you. I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t fully explain how you…YOU, Jedi Master made a ruined moment beautiful. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart.

We spent the rest of the night jumping in puddles, riding rides, enjoying the nearly empty streets of Hollywood Studios, and watching Fantasmic.

Thank you, again. You will never know how you helped us out. To say that you made our vacation is not an exaggeration.

Most Sincerely and Appreciatively,
Sharon Kay Edwards

How I Remember Those Days

The entirety of her possessions consisted of small closet full of clothes, some toiletries, a CD/radio, and a used mattress she had acquired from a church’s storage shed. She inserted her favorite CD, poured herself two fingers of cheap whiskey, and looked around satisfactorily at her freshly painted apartment. She was alone for the first time in her young life.

“It’s perfect!” She wrote to her husband. “$385.00 a month–and that includes utilities! It’s within walking distance to school, and so romantic. Old houses are romantic, anyway. This one was built in 1909 and we’ve got the apartment on the second floor overlooking the porch. One bedroom, a living room/ kitchen combo, and a bathroom. The bathroom is the best part. We have the original clawfoot tub! It’s huge! I can’t wait until you see it when you get back.”

She felt a small pang of guilt for moving the two of them out of her parents’ house while he was away at boot camp, but knew that without this cattle-prodding, he’d happily stay with her family for good. He had never grown up in a happy home where the parents were still together and everyone got along. She, however, was more than ready to flee the nest and begin her own adventures.

She had to borrow money from her dad for the deposit and first month’s rent, but within 24 hours after seeing the place, she was happily moved in. Her new girlfriends from the university helped her tote the boxes of clothes, CD’s, hair products, and the flowered mattress up the 100 year old staircase.

It didn’t take them long to put everything in its new place. The mattress was just flopped onto the bedroom floor under two big windows. The girls flopped the same way on top of it. The evening previous to this one had been spent at a local bar’s open mic night. They had all sang to a rousing group of toasty folks. It was a grand time, but they were feeling the lack of sleep and still had homework to do for music theory.

“We need some coffee.” the blonde suggested.

“Oh my God! I don’t have a coffee pot!”

After a quick trip to the local Walmart, the ladies enjoyed their coffees out of brand new coffee mugs.

“I bet we can climb onto that roof and sit.” One friend said with raised eyebrows.

“I dunno.” She wavered and took a swig of coffee. “It’s really old.”

“Naw! It’s fine!” Said her high-spirited friend. “C’mon!”

Before she knew it, all three of her friends had shimmied through the open window and into the autumn dusk.

“Grab the guitar!” said a disembodied voice through the open pane.

She sat her coffee cup down, took hold of the Gibson, and climbed awkwardly out of the large-framed window onto the shingles of the porch roof.

“This is awesome!”

“Yeah, this is so cool. I’m really jealous of you. Living in the dorms suck.”

“You sure this’ll hold us up?”

“Sure it will!” Her friend said as she strummed a G chord in a 6/8, swinging time. “Let’s sing.”

And so they sang on top of the porch roof. Sipping coffee and singing made-up-lyrics that made them laugh as the languid, velvet dusk turned to a crystal evening around them.