A Terrifying Unfolding…

I am a fan of nonfiction.

Don’t misunderstand: I love literature also. Where would I be without short stories, novels, plays, and Shakespeare? Life would be a mouthful of sawdust without fine wine and rich literature; nevertheless, nonfiction grips. Nonfiction pierces. Nonfiction soaks into our very bones as we newly view yet another previously unforeseen aspect of the human condition, sometimes down to a cellular level.

Such is the examination of at least one life in A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold.  Yes, Klebold. yes, Columbine. Yes, a shooter’s mom.

There is no profit in this venture for Klebold, as she donates all post-publishing monies to mental (brain) health research and prevention.

In this analytical memoir, Sue Klebold painstakingly unfolds the image she held of her son Dylan in a dire attempt to remake him into the form matching the world’s perception of him since April 20, 1999. As she reworks the image over and again, the indelible marks of images both new and old remain. Crushingly open and honest, Klebold’s narrative attempts to answer the universal question, “How could you not know what your son was going to do?!”

As a reader, you may on occasion find yourself saying aloud to the author, “DO something! That’s a sign! Talk to him about this…” However, it behooves the reader to remember that we have the benefit of hindsight, having already confronted the horrors of the nation’s worst school shooting in our history. In this respect, Mrs.. Klebold was at a certain disadvantage, a fact that haunts us all.

As a visually impaired individual, I chose the Audible version of this memoir, but I highly recommend this same version to signed individuals as it is narrated b the author herself, adding an extra layer of humanity and reality to the experience.

I highly recommend this piece of nonfiction as a reality check for parents, teachers, and anyone who has ever been a teenager who hid anything from a parent.


Link to book’s site: http://amothersreckoning.com

Things I don’t understand…

Stream of Consciousness

The virtue of politics.

People not trying to understand Shakespeare.

Why continuing education beyond high school costs so much in our country.

My extended family’s concept of “privacy” and how it extends even to not sharing in good news because “It’s not our news to tell.”

The self-righteous and judgmental nature of some religious folks.

Why my older sister never asked me how I was doing as I went through a divorce and became a single mom to three children over thirteen years ago..

Why we know what to do to take care of ourselves but continually push our own needs aside for “later.”

The intense pressure of the economics of public education that forces us to adopt questionable practices such as increased class sizes, eliminating beneficial activities, etc.  in order to satisfy the bottom line.

The magic of puppies and horses when they nuzzle you.

Why billing periods appear to elapse more quickly than payroll periods.

Why depression never really goes completely away: it just waits patiently in the wings for its next entrance.

Why we have to grow old.

To be continued…


Trying to Motivate Employees with Money? Think again…

Money is NOT the key motivating factor in driving employee performance. An exceptional read on this topic is a book entitled DRIVE: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink, a relatively easy read packed with research, business models, and anecdotes that illustrate the shift in understanding what truly motivates employee productivity and retention.  Daniel Pink utilizes the available research to delineate strategies for awakening motivation not only in our professional realms but also in our educational and personal lives, including our desire to attain fitness or any other desirable goal.To quote the website: “Most of us believe that the best way to motivate ourselves and others is with external rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, Daniel H. Pink says in, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, his provocative and persuasive new book. The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.  Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of life. He demonstrates that while carrots and sticks worked successfully in the twentieth century, that’s precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today’s challenges. In Drive, he examines the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose—and offers smart and surprising techniques for putting these into action. Along the way, he takes us to companies that are enlisting new approaches to motivation and introduces us to the scientists and entrepreneurs who are pointing a bold way forward.
Drive is bursting with big ideas—the rare book that will change how you think and transform how you live.”Check the book out here: http://www.danpink.com/drive

The BEST Restaurant in Indianapolis? YATS!

Yats Cajun Creole on College Avenue near 54th street is fantastic! Sexy, simple, smart, sumptuous – Yats is the best damn restaurant in Indy! But don’t just take my word for it…Owned and operated by Joe Vuskovich, Yats has won numerous awards in Nuvo’sBest of Indy year after year for Best Restaurant, Best Budget-Minded, and Best Vegetarian/Vegan Options!

Joe’s concept is simple: offer seven to ten dishes a day (including vegetarian options) written in colored chalk on the chalkboard behind the counter, two price levels for portion sizes ($6.25 for a regular and $7.25 for a combo). Then almost before you can get your drink and find your seat, one of his staff emerges from the kitchen bearing a steaming plate of deliciousness and saying your name so you can claim your meal! Chili Cheese Étouffée with Crawfish! Jambalaya! Vegan White Chili! Maque Choux! Drunken Chicken! Red Beans and Sausage! Spinach and Mushroom Étouffée! Gumbo!

The entire experience engages your every sense: the complex yet perfectly balanced spices tease your nose and host a culinary party in your mouth, the feel of the crusty baguette touched with garlic butter and herbs delights your fingers, the incredible jazz playing in the background mixes with business conversation and social banter to a pitch-appropriate level for your ears, the visual array of paintings, lights decked with Mardi Gras beads and giant ornaments, a brass trumpet, a carousel horse, and myriad other artifacts accompany your gustatory adventure! And if you’re really lucky, Joe – himself an eclectic work of art – emerges from the kitchen to say hello and thank you for stopping by!

There are four other locations in and around Indy, but I love the original location on College Avenue the best! Don’t miss it on your next trip to Indy!

Check it out: Yats Cajun Creole (yatscajuncreole.com)
Nuvo Best of Indy 2012 (yatscajuncreole.com)


Experiencing a Time Drought?

Yesterday at Thanksgiving dinner, I was listening to folks – both young and old – comment about the passage of time.  Comments began with the usual, “It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen you!” and moved to observations as we were taking our dinner seats about who now gets to sit at the “kids’ table” in the other room.  My 29-year old niece wonderingly looked at the kids’ table, and, seeing it filled, concluded that she no longer belonged there.  She pumped her fist in the air: she had arrived!

Even I pondered, as I took a place at the largest table in the home, “Should I sit here?  Will I be asked to move, or will others who do belong here look at me askance and wonder why I felt I could intrude on the big people’s table?”  Preoccupied with her solitary musings, the little girl inside me barely noticed the big girl moving forward with Reality:

Get real!  I am less than a month from my 46th birthday!  I damn well earned the right to sit here!  Through graduating college, marriage, the birth of three children, personal dissatisfaction, professional satisfaction, divorce, bankruptcy, personal satisfaction, professional dissatisfaction, starting a new business, new relationships… I EARNED a place at that table!  Hell, I could even drink coffee at it if I wanted to, and no one would question me for a second!

Yet my certainty was fraught with misgivings.

What if others disagreed?  What if what I viewed as growth, they viewed as immaturity?
Worse yet, what if my placement at that table moved SOMEONE ELSE OFF of it?

Surely enough, that is what happened. Anguish. My 81 year old father and his sister in her 70s were seated at a small side table immediately behind me. Damn.  They took the seat I should have taken.

The little girl inside of me fantasizes that if I never were to move away from the kids’ table, my father would never have to move away from the big people’s table.  And he would live forever.  I could, in effect, keep my father alive and here on this earth if only I knew my place.  If only I had done what I was supposed to have done, rather than thinking I was too big for my britches.

The irony of it all?  You know there always has to be some…

After dinner, the kids asked if I wanted to play cards with them – at the kids’ table!   “HA!” I thought.  “I am so versatile, so universal, so adaptable – I actually BELONG at any table I desire!” My son asked me to shuffle the cards while he went to get something to drink.  Happily shuffling away – proud of how well I can still manipulate a card bridge while doing so – I looked up to see my 19 year-old son returning with a hot, steaming cup of…  COFFEE???!!  (When the hell did he start drinking coffee?  Did he ask me if he could?  Did he ask anyone?  What would my father say if he saw this?”) My smugness evaporating, I suddenly became aware of the lack of space at the kids’ table, and how little elbow room there was.  All of a sudden it wasn’t very comfortable, and – what the hell – when did my ass get too big for this stupid folding chair??!

I have been summarily and permanently moved from the kids’ table.  Holiday dominoes, let’s call it.

Looking back over yesterday’s minutiae, I wonder… does my father have the same misgivings I have about time?  Does everyone?  Will my son experience it?  What about my daughters?  Is it just as slippery and sickening for other people?

Here is a poem I wrote in January of 2008 – almost two years ago (wow!) – about the lack of sufficient time I feel.

Time Drought
by Casey A. South
1.16.08 @11:58 pm

Slipping, slinking, seeping away,
Through the cracks of our every day…
Dampening our months,
Drowning our years,
Silencing tongues,
Sharpening fears.

My heart beats faster as I consider my state:
Always – my calendar on the wrong date!
Lessons untaught, opportunities lost…
Being too damn busy, not knowing the cost.
Priorities skewed, resources squandered…
Energy usurped by feud here and yonder.
Events unlived yield memories unconcieved…
I’ll get to it later, I always believed.

Waves of regret creep up from behind,
Their shadows overcome me: pressure unkind…
Infiltrate my skin, my muscles and bones.
Suddenly – I’m soaked.
Chilled and alone.
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Time Drought by Casey A. South is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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Economic Downturn + Military Stress = Duress

First of all, let me say I am not a military wife, nor am I in the military.  But with as stressful as the holidays can be financially and otherwise for civilians, I can only imagine how hard they might be for folks who have a spouse half-way around the globe.  For a couple of years I engineered lights for a country-western band that toured the tri-state area, and during that time, one of the guys asked me to do some song-writing for him.  Here is a sampling of some lyrics I wrote that seemed particularly timely with the economic woes people are facing.
Tireless Wireless
by Casey A. South
2.22.08 @ 10:55 pm
She sees him there…
A continent away.
In the glow of the blue screen,
Same time each day.
How unfair her lover is cold to her touch,
Warmed only by the memory that is fading too much.
“I’ve got this,” she said as he boarded the plane.
How could they foresee the depths of her pain?
Her passion is wireless,
Goes ‘round the globe,
This love is tireless,
But, Lord, bring him home.
She hears the kids crying as she opens the mail.
Bills are a mounting… that never fails.
Too tired to cook and the place is a mess.
It weighs on her greatly, this military stress.
Another paycheck – it comes and it goes,
How they will make it, Lord only knows.
Payments are missing.  Creditors calling.
Into an abyss she knows she is falling.
But same time each day, she puts on a smile.
She wipes her mascara, hits the icon to dial.
He needs no distraction:  it could mean his life.
“For better, for worse,” she alone bears this strife.
“Everything’s great, hon. Couldn’t be better.”
He feels reassured… his girl’s a go-getter!
But ‘Let’s stay connected’ is really a lie.
She shuts down her Mac and has a good cry.
Creative Commons License
Tireless Wireless by Casey A. South is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at pinchingbubblewrap@gmail.com.

An Alone Mood

Incessant chatter.  Endless questions.

When I was a kid, there was a song on one side of a 45 record I used to play over and over.  Entitled “Yakkity, Yak, Blah, Blah, Blah,” this little ditty was about a man who comes home from work feeling tired and his wife just peppers him with questions and demands.  Makes me chuckle today because even though I tried never to do that to my husband when I was still married, I realized that I share the same sentiments as the singer on the record because I feel constantly barraged with questions, complaints, demands, from people at work and the three teenagers in my home!

I seek solitude.  Some solitude each and every day.  This funky little piece I wrote on a day when I was counting down the time until I could get away from everyone who was driving me crazy!

An Alone Mood
by Casey A. South
Caught in a game of poker,
I only want Solitare.
Six pack, but only need a sip.
Seven seats seems silly.
Eight lunch today.
“Want some company?”

Just mine.

Creative Commons License
An Alone Mood by Casey A. South is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at pinchingbubblewrap@gmail.com.