Friday, September 07, 2012

Oh My Buns!

The name of the new café at Park Place Mall, “O’My Buns!” stopped me in my tracks this afternoon. When I burst out laughing, my daughter didn’t know the reason for my absolute amusement other than the clever/funny name for a bakery/coffee shop.
“We’ve got to get a photo!” I said. She wasted no time whipping out her phone and snapped the shot. She then texted it to me and I, in turn, sent it to my four siblings. I knew I wouldn’t have to explain it and they, too, would also get a good laugh.
Yes, it’s an inside family joke that I’m about to let out of the oven.

Many, many years ago when a tri-level house in Brookfield, Illinois housed a family of seven—a World War II vet and his war bride, along with their five baby-boomer children—the dining room of this cozy home held family dinners every evening and Sunday afternoon/after church dinners with Grandma joining them. Actually, I don’t remember if the setting for my story was a typical Sunday afternoon or if it was something more formal or festive like a Thanksgiving dinner. I do know my mom had, as usual, taken care of the entire meal preparation.
After filling the hot tray and the Lazy Susan will all of her efforts she was the last to sit at the table. The main course had been placed in front of Daddy, who took care of carving and who set the mood of the meal. He ruled that table. No one, for example, was allowed to leave said table before Dad took his last bite.
Unfortunately for us—a group of antsy kids—he was a very slow eater.
Well into the meal that day, suddenly a look of panic covered our mother’s face. This, by the way, was a very demure woman of few words. She was quite petite and very proper, and always exhibited impeccable table manners. Something was obviously wrong.
I’m not sure if she smelled burning food or if she simply noticed an important omission on the table, but covered in panic, she stood up and shouted, “OH MY BUNS!” Immediately, she ran from the table and into the kitchen.
Shocked, we all looked at one another as if to say, “did that just happen?” In a moment, we all cried in unison: “OH MY BUNS!” And we giggled with laughter through the rest of the meal.  Even Dad thought it was very funny.
The tale of Mom’s burnt buns is one of those family stories we bring up with one another again and again. But we don’t need to go into the detail that I’ve just conveyed.  All any of us has to say to one another is “Oh my buns!” and it’s like our dear sweet mother is right there with us.
That’s exactly how I felt today when I saw the sign for the new café. It was just like a little heavenly hello.

And talk about heaven, of course, I had to buy one of their original coffee buns. It was large, cost about $2.50 and Willow and I split it. The verdict? It was the most delicious bun I’ve ever eaten. Light and flavorful, it was the tastiest treat I’ve had in a long, long time.
Check it out: O’My Buns, Park Place Mall, 5870 Broadway Blvd., Tucson. It’s located next to Claire’s, just inside the North movie theater entrance.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ACL Diary: Scars Can Be Beautiful

Willow sat for senior portraits a couple weeks ago. Since she was born in Wisconsin, spends summers in the woods, and has every intention of going to school in this state after she graduates, the property surrounding our Northwoods home was the ideal setting for her session.

Kudos to Lauren Kerwin of Rose:Life Photography for capturing all the beauty (of both Willow and the woods) with her camera.

Lauren shot hundreds of photos with multiple outfit changes, and provided a USB drive with our choices. Frankly, there are far too many from which to choose. She narrowed it down to her top 25, most of which were on our list too.

Finally, I believe I've found my favorite. Aside from Willow's cute smile, twinkling blue eyes and the wind gently blowing her beautiful blonde tresses, I like that it shows her ACL surgical scar(s) on her right knee.

Willow Gayle Cozzens at Sandy Point
Without question, Willow's ACL injury, surgery and recovery played a huge role in her life thus far. I think it's fair to say she has made a complete recovery; however, the experience definitely changed her. For example, I don't think she defines herself first and foremost as a soccer player any longer.

She still plays, still loves the game, still plans to attend camp at UW Madison next month. Yet when it comes to her future, her main focus is now on academics. And the results of this focus should, God willing, enable her to get into most any school she chooses to attend.

Willow has not let her injury or her scars define her. She has risen above this brief setback and used this episode in her life as a learning experience. I believe it has made her an even stronger and more formidable young woman. She's shown us that not much is going to get in her way.

So, for those of you who are worried or concerned about the scars after ACL replacement surgery, understand that wounds do heal. And I think it's a fair assumption to say that Willow's scars are NOT the first thing anyone notices when looking at her.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pencil Marks On the Wall

It’s an almanac of height, and significant to a very small number of people. It’s called a “height wall,” and I’ll bet you have one in your home.

Height walls where we periodically record the growth of our children from the time they can stand until the time their growth plates close.

Where is your’s?

Our height wall is in our Wisconsin home, the place where our children were born. It’s a vertical four-inch, drywall-covered support beam separating the kitchen—built in the 1980s—from the original part of the home, which was built around 1930.

We return to this lake home from Tucson every spring, and it therefore seems the logical place to mark growth each year. It’s a smudgy, dirty wall that only we appreciate. Pencil hash-marks are in place for not only our daughters, but also for several family members (and close family friends), who regularly visit us. There’s no real system for measurement or marking the heights and it’s only been vandalized once, and that was in July of 2003, when Uncle Todd labeled himself “No. 1, IL DUCE.”

Todd Cozzens continues as our tallest family member, and Cinco, yes, our long-haired pet Chihuahua, our shortest. Our most cherished measurement is of our niece, Stephanie, who in 1998 stood a glorious 5’-11” tall. It may have been her last measurement as she passed away in 2002.

2012 marks the year our elder daughter, Willow, has shown no annual growth in one year. We were informed her growth plates had closed back in April, 2011 when she had x-rays just after tearing the ACL in her right knee. So, she has made her mark on the world at 5’ 9” tall. “Too tall,” if you ask her. But what does she know?

Camille, on the other hand, at 14-going-on-15, managed to add another inch to her height during her freshman year. A volleyball player currently playing middle position, she was the tallest girl on her club team—however, she’ll still need to add a couple more inches to maintain that tall-girl status. She, too, believes she is tall enough.

Neither of my daughters understands what it feels like when at some point in middle age, one no longer reaches the heights of youth. That said, I’m letting my hash-mark stand at 5’-10”.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Feature & Follow Friday: Your Favorite Summer Reading Spot?

Feature and Follow Friday is a blog hop designed to provide exposure to the bloggers participating and to expand their following. Hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read, each features a chosen blog for the week. Click on their links to see this Friday’s features. MEET NEW FRIENDS!

Question of the Week: Summer Break is upon us! What would be the perfect vacation spot for you to catch up on your reading & relax?

My Answer: Easy. I have only ONE CHOICE--actually, ONE OPTION--for a place to go for summer reading:

SANDY POINT RESORT in the NORTHWOODS of WISCONSIN. Day and night, my favorite place on the planet. The icing on this cake is . . . I own the joint.

New Reality Show: The Real Book Reviewers of

Posting book reviews in a public forum as large as is like swimming in an Internet ocean. One never knows what creature lurks behind alias (alien?) corners.

I posted my first book review on Amazon back in 2002 for Diane Dean-Epps’ Maternal Meanderings. Today, like many of the books I have reviewed, it’s available on Amazon for a penny.  It was brief and 2 of 3 readers found it helpful.

Over time my reviews became more in depth—some very helpful to readers, others decidedly not helpful at all. And then there are the reviews that generate controversy—reviews that stir the pot and unleash the trolls.

TROLL: A member of an internet forum who continually harangues and harasses others. Someone with nothing worthwhile to add to a certain conversation, but rather continually "threadjacks" or changes the subject, as well as thinks every member of the forum is talking about them and only them. Trolls often go by multiple names to circumvent getting banned.

Reading troll threadjacks is like watching a bitch fight among the BRAVO TV housewives. In other words, it’s a waste of time, but it also provides a bit of mindless, guilty pleasure. It’s like sipping a cocktail of sweet relief knowing I’m not living in their worlds mixed with a full jigger of schadenfreude.

Earlier this week, one of my reviews attracted a troll, and I couldn’t help but break the DNFTT (Do Not Feed The Troll) rule, and poke back a little bit. After everything I had recently learned about how to successfully handle a bully, let’s just say I was in the mood to expose and fight back.

The book, no coincidence, is by former BRAVO TV housewife, Bethenney Frankel, and it’s her first effort at fiction. From what I’ve seen of her on television over the years, I found her to be funny and refreshingly honest. My opinion of her thinly veiled autobiographical novel, Skinnydipping, reflected these same characteristics, and I expressed this in my review. It’s no great work of literature and isn’t meant to be so. It’s light reading, funny and fun. Four stars.

Well, “my” troll didn’t like that I wrote anything positive about the novel. Using the alias, “Julie,” it not only called me a “moron,” but it also claimed I had “low standards for literature.” Silly as they were, it was easy to laugh off the comments, and I wouldn’t have fed it anything had I not learned that “Julie” posted similar insults on every positive review and issued supportive comments on every negative review.

Clearly, this troll was on a mission to trash the book, the author and any reviewer who even remotely enjoyed reading Skinnydipping. This practice is against Amazon’s standards and needed to be exposed. I mean really! I am many things, but I’m NO moron!

The troll’s final comment on the thread attached to my review was “deleted by Amazon,” before I had the chance to read it. After that, “Julie” crawled back in her hole, defeated. Show over. Moving on. Like I said, it’s like swimming in a vast Internet ocean with trolling creatures around every dark and anonymous corner.

Troll attacks is one risk book reviewers (and authors) take. Most of us understand that in a forum like Amazon, many shoppers don’t actually read the reviews. They look at the stars and jump to conclusions. They base their helpful, non-helpful votes on whether or not THEY liked the book—and in more cases, whether or not they like the author.

Posting reviews on Amazon is done strictly on a volunteer basis. It’s a hobby—perhaps a way to keep track of the books you’ve read—and a practice that shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

I’ve made many friends by reviewing books on Amazon and I’ve also made a few enemies. It’s apparent not only in the comment forums, but also on my own books sold by Several over the years have received anonymous one-star “reviews,” some of which I believe are from trolls with retaliation on their small minds.

Perhaps the trolls are incapable of understanding that alias accounts and transparent tactics emit a powerful stink that gives their “reviews” and their comments no power whatsoever.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Barbed Garbage

We spend a lot of time walking, running and biking around our desert neighborhood. Our adventures are often rewarded with wildlife sightings including coyotes, javelinas, roadrunners, deer, prairie dogs, voles, hawks, bunnies, and lots of lots of quail.

The other day we were delighted by a very rare sighting of a covey of tiny baby quails pecking at what was a loaf of bread tossed on the road the day before. Willow snapped this photo with her phone just before they scurried away and hid behind the creosote bushes.

In addition to the fauna is the beautiful cactus flora, including an endless variety of cactus. And right now, the desert is abloom. The colors are so vivid they will stop you in your tracks—even if you’re running.

Unfortunately, we also spot a lot of trash. In spite of a lifetime of earth days, “don’t be a litterbug” slogans and recycling education efforts, it astounds me that there are still people who feel they have the right to throw their crap out of their car windows instead of saving it for a trash receptacle.

We therefore instigated a family community service project and became regular trash collectors for the neighborhood. And last evening, my girls and I went for our last sunset walk of the season. Community Service hours are due for Student Council, so we figured we’d wrap up the project for the school year.

It’s been a fun way to spend time with the girls—especially because they’re so funny. Camille, for example, loves walking in the middle of the busy street when no cars are present, because I think it gives her a sense of power. And both girls make up stories about some of the items they find: study notes, grocery lists, Slurpy cups, Rock Star cans and the like. “Drinking ‘n driving,” Willow says with a disapproving scoff each time she finds a discarded beer can.

Over the course of our neighborhood scavenger hunts, I’d say the items found most often are plastic grocery bags. They’re EVERYWHERE. And they are particularly treacherous to collect because more often than not they’re stuck to cactus and filled with needles. Straws may run a close second, but aluminum cans and plastic bottles are also shamefully prominent.

The most unusual find of all time has to be the discarded paper containing an acceptance speech for the Mrs. Arizona contest. We kept checking local media to see if one of our neighbors had won the event; however, ultimately made no discovery of crowned royalty in the hood.

Wrapping up the project for the year, we feel our social status may be that of mere trash collectors, but it helped us believe we were doing our part to keep our desert kingdom beautiful.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Feature & Follow Friday

I'm participating in my very first bloghop. Here's how it works:

Hosted  by Parajunkee's View & 

To participate, follow Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. Grab the button, Post and answer this week's question, which appears below. With this hop, the main objective is to follow! You can find great new blogs, visit some of your favorite blogs and see how they all answer the question. 

I prefer you follow me through Network Blogs, via my author Facebook Page or through Linky Followers. Thank you.

Q: This Sunday in the U.S. is Mother’s Day, in celebration, what are some of your favorite books with strong mother/child relationships?

A: Room by Emma Donoghue

This book/story disturbed me far more than it entertained me, but considering the subject matter, I'm sure my opinion is not unique. It is narrated by a five-year old child, conceived by a woman held in captivity, who raises him a tiny "room," the size of a tool shed. Narration by a five-year-old is a tough perspective from which to write, I'm sure, but kudos to Emma Donoghue for pulling it off. This child's precocious nature and vocabulary is ultimately explained and is credited to his VERY close relationship with his mother.

Months after reading this book, I will say the story has stayed with me. Each time I read or hear about an abduction case in the news, I can't help but envision this tiny room, so clearly defined in the story, and contemplate what this type of captivity does to the victims--in this case both the mother and the child.

Considering this week's TIME MAGAZINE cover story on "Attachment Parenting," this novel is a very power illustration of this concept. The big difference, of course, is that this mother (the mother in the story, "Ma") had no choice but to continue breast feeding her child until he was five.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Bullying Saga: A Happy Ending Results in Cautious Optimism

“Mrs. Cozzens,” said the principal, “I’d like you to know that your daughter just left my office [with those who bullied her], and they all appeared to be the best of friends.”

Sweet words to soothe the ears of a worried mother. But even though it feels like a happy ending to a nine-day period of turmoil, I remain cautiously optimistic regarding our daughter’s social experience at Sabino High School.

It was not a smooth nor easy path to get the bullies off her back and their rumors/comments off the Internet, and I’m certain that without our heavy-handed parental involvement, our daughter would still be coming home in tears.

Throughout the process both our daughters begged us to let it go. “You’re making it worse, Mom,” claimed my older daughter. “Please just stop. I want it all to stop,” moaned the younger, who for days seemed a mere fraction of her former self with slumped shoulders, glassy eyes and a furrowed brow.

It took strength and diligence—including four unreturned phone calls to the school and finally the need to re-explain and clarify the facts several times to the administrators so that THEY had the story straight—before we achieved the outcome we desired. We were very clear: we wanted the posts removed from Twitter, for the bullies to acknowledge their actions/violations, an apology to our daughter, and the promise that she would no longer be targeted.

The ultimate lesson we have learned is that it’s essential for parents to get involved in order to truly deal with the issue of bullying. The kids are terrified of not only reporting the offense, but also of sticking up for their bullied friends for fear of becoming targets themselves.

Bullying Policy Poster at Sabino
Meanwhile, administrators talk the talk. They hang posters, provide lectures, and emit the message that bullying won’t be tolerated; however, it was painfully clear to us that they still needed a little work/experience in dealing with bullying situations in order to transform them into positive outcomes.

The bullying policy at Sabino, for example, suggests that victims “keep talking until someone listens.” And “all reports of bullying will be held in the strictest confidence.”  We didn’t know that “keep talking” meant we’d have to repeatedly call the school and finally appeal to a higher-level administrator before we’d reach a satisfactory resolution. Nor did we understand how tricky it is to keep complaints confidential. Rumors spread in high schools as quickly as germs spread in daycare centers.

Know this: If your child is the victim of bullying, you must have PROOF before the administrators can or will fully deal with the situation. They will not verify allegations based on hearsay, rumor or gossip. If he or she is a victim of cyber-bullying, make copies of the Internet posts immediately. (We took screen shots of the Twitter pages). If they receive threatening texts or texts of a bullying nature, again take screen shots of the phone screen or request transcripts from the cell service. If a child is verbally harassed or assaulted on school grounds, secure credible witnesses who are brave enough to “testify” on behalf of your child.

Finally, do not believe the five most dangerous words when it comes to bullying: MAYBE IT WILL GO AWAY. It won’t go away unless you identify the bully, expose the bully with credible proof, and stay on top of the situation until the victim is once again smiling, standing up straight, and cheerful about going to school in the morning.

We believe the outcome of our efforts has helped to teach our children a valuable lesson. They have both—especially the younger of the two girls—grown stronger, and even taller, because of it.

Happy girls on their way to school

Friday, April 27, 2012

Karma is a Beyotch?

Someone got the memo. The problem is HE didn’t understand it.

Ugh! It’s not bad enough I must deal with high school bullies? Do I really also have to deal with a 40-something year-old who hasn’t progressed beyond a Sabino High School mentality?

When I received a message regarding a Facebook post reaction to my blog about bullying, at first I scratched my head and felt my heartbeat race a little.  But that reaction was short-lived once I read his words because it was quite obvious that he had the intention of defending his own children. No one can fault a father for that. But  . . .

The following would have been a poignant, sympathetic story if it had been a true account of what happened some 16 months ago. Instead, it was just a sad and false recollection of what others involved know to be the truth.

Here’s what the misguided father wrote, verbatim, no editing:

I was reading a blog about a girl that was bullied and it made me sad, That should never happen, last year our daughter was bullied by 3 people at school. It was all over a sport, one she now does not want to play partly because of this abuse. She decided not to talk in classes she had with these kids, she changed her whole demeanor because of it, it almost cost her the 4.0+ GPA she had. We actually looked at different schools after she kept coming home in tears. I understand how hard it is for kids being bullied. Her brother tried to help and the parents of the abusers got mad that he stepped in to protect his little sister, I hear this persons older sibling tried to help, just what a sibling will do. It got so bad, I had to convince my daughter to continue on a team she hated, I even spoke to the dads of the bullies and begged for them to not speak to my daughter, though I am positive they tried it did not stop the abuse. I never would want this to occurr to anyone, NEVER, I see the damage it can do, and sometimes when it occurrs to your kids, hopefully you step back and look at your actions to see if you ever perpetuated anything like it. I hope it ends soon for her and I really wish it never had to happen and never has to happen to any person again, but I will close with one thing, Karma is a Beyoch! 

Within seconds of reading this passive aggressive bullshit, I felt like the only thing missing was a hashtag with my name attached. Then I laughed and mused aloud:  was one of 100s of readers of my blog “Bullies BEWARE,” actually motivated to cyber-bully me in return?

Sadly, yes. And I’m certain the irony of this post is a foreign concept to him. I mean really . . . His bottom line after this fake empathy is “Karma is a Beyoch?”

As I type I’m at a loss. How do I respond to this guy’s thinly veiled personal attack and publicly related distortion of history? Is it worth my time? All instincts urge me to ignore him; however, from what I’ve learned from my true friends and intelligent supporters over the past few days, I cannot let bullies get away with their antics.

I decided long ago that this particular person qualified not only as a bully, but also as someone who demonstrated inappropriate behavior toward my daughter and my family. It’s one reason why I deleted him from Facebook. But apparently, it hasn’t stopped him from stalking my blog.

So, just as I called attention to the high school boy who targeted my daughter on Twitter, I reluctantly post this blog with this message:

Listen up: Your Facebook post accuses my daughter (and others) of things they didn’t do. Your daughter clearly had a difficult time dealing with a sport and a coach last year. We were sympathetic and you know it. How dare you insinuate that it was our daughter’s fault?  Nor was it the doing of three people you reference as being bullies and abusers. What really happened is that your daughter, in the midst of her depression and self-imposed alienation, reported to you that three people “publicly humiliated” her one day in a classroom because she asked a question during a study session that had already been asked twice. Nearly EVERY student in the classroom sighed, wanting to move on rather than go over the same material. I verified it with the accused parties, and the teacher, who said there was NO public humiliation in his classroom. She may have felt humiliated for asking this question but no one put those feelings into her head. In spite of this, I was personally attacked while my daughter was accused of being responsible for your daughter’s fragile state-of-mind. It was very clear to us that you were all hurting and we were as supportive as we could possibly be. At your request our daughter left your daughter alone, and when they did have encounters, they were cordial and respectful to one another. Ultimately, later in the school year my daughter offered support and friendship to your daughter when she needed it—for which your daughter AND you were thankful.

Then you have the GALL to further cite an older sibling’s actions in defense of his sister as being admirable, and have the audacity to compare it to what happened with my children? Damn, is that ever skewed.

The truth is, this man’s son actually called my daughter (the so-called abuser) and viciously accused her of making prank phone calls to his sister. He shot first and asked questions later. My daughter did NOT make these calls and ALL parties involved acknowledged this.

I’m fairly certain the kids worked out their differences long ago; however, clearly the father holds onto a different version of the story. That he further chose to publicly mock my children and me by posting his reaction to my blog on Facebook and suggest we “step back and look at your actions to see if you ever perpetuated anything like it,” reeks of hypocrisy and perversion.

End note: I have obviously touched on a subject—bullying—that gets a lot of attention. In the seven years since my first blog post, the post entitled “Bullies BEWARE” has so-far recorded a record number of hits. This is an important issue for parents, kids and school administrators to address. My child continues to be terribly upset and is not happy at all about my involvement. She is a classic victim, who has been further singled out by several kids at school as being “over dramatic” and “making too much of this.” She just wishes it would all go away. We are trying to make that happen—and as the kids continue to suggest we’re making it worse by dealing with it—we can’t make it truly go away until we expose it and make the bullies see that THEY are the ones in the wrong. Not us.

Meanwhile one hundred percent of the comments and calls I’ve personally received have been genuinely supportive, sympathetic, loving and educational. I am especially grateful to the parents who have offered very useful advice and who know that my child’s situation at school has absolutely nothing to do with Karma.

It is my goal in return to be helpful to others who may be experiencing this sad and troubling situation as well. As unpleasant as it is, we have to expose the bullies and see to it that they don’t get away with their actions.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bullies BEWARE

This is BE KIND week at Sabino High School. Given my daughter has come home in tears two days in a row so far this week, I don’t think it’s working. Apparently someone didn’t get the memo.

I’m fairly certain I don’t have the full story, but I’ve heard enough consistent accounts of what happened yesterday (and have seen/read the evidence) to feel confident in alleging that my daughter was a victim of cyber-bullying.

Someone tweeted an incriminating accusation about her, which was retweeted by several kids. Vehemently denying the accusation, she tried to find out why it was written and was met with a barrage of tweets further accusing her of “acting stupid” and/or “playing dumb,” and knowing exactly what it was all about. “Everyone knows the story . . .”

At mid-day her older sister got involved, telling the Tweeter to stop. But the tweets continued: “When people you confront won’t fight their own battles and tell their family.” And going back-and-forth with his minions, “But it’s to the point where all of her friends think she's going overboard and making herself look bad.” To which some snotty chick replied, “hahahaha her “friends.”

When the tweeter finally confronted her face-to-face, she wanted nothing to do with him. She therefore put her head down on her classroom desk and cried. For this she was accused (on Twitter, of course) of being “immature” and a drama queen, and making too much of all of it.

Listen up bully! This young girl simply doesn’t have the tools to face this kind of adversity and know how to handle it. She’s not as strong as you, which is why you have picked her as your victim. Try to understand that when a girl puts her head down and cries, and asks to be left alone, it is NOT your cue to amp up the pressure.

Apparently there was a substitute teacher in the class, who was oblivious to the crying 14 year-old. The sub didn’t intervene. But when MY kid comes home crying, you better trust her mom and dad are getting involved. 

The bully got wind of this and then tweeted: “She told her dad and now I’m straight pissed.” 

Here’s something else you don’t understand, big, bad-bully: Our knowledge of this situation has mortified our daughter. She doesn’t want her parents involved in any way. She isn’t the one that made too much of it. WE DID. And she doesn’t want this incident reported. She doesn’t want to be “that girl.”

But DAMN IT TO HELL this makes me furious! Isn’t this the definition of BULLYING!!!!????? My kid is so broken down and intimidated by the situation that the bully wins. The bully gets away with his actions. He even went in the OPPOSITE direction when asked to stop.

What, I ask, is the consequence of all this beyond my daughter’s humiliation and defeat?

Last week I spoke with a friend whose daughter experienced straight up bullying—apparently girl-on-girl because of jealousy over a boy. It wasn’t the first time she experienced this. The mom attempted to report it in the past, however, the school counselor couldn't do anything about it because he said she didn’t have enough proof. So, OF COURSE it continued to happen.

It’s different with cyber bullying, because one can make copies of the written/published words. And I did. The next step, and this was my daughter’s idea, was for her to deactivate her Twitter account.  And she did.

But then the bully resorted to texting her directly. One of the texts suggested getting her family involved was “not a good idea.”

And, of course, he continued to hammer her on Twitter late into the evening.

I am beyond frustrated and I’m writing this blog not to further embarrass or humiliate my child, but to ask other parents out there to join forces and help me find a way to properly address this situation before it gets any worse.

I feel my child needs to learn to fight her own battles, and we sent her to school today telling her to be strong and hold her head up rather than put it down on her desk. We hope, of course, that this will simmer and go away, and that she will be the stronger for it.

But if it doesn’t go away? If there are tears today (when the school theme is “Peace, Love, and Kindness Day,”) you can bet your bottom line, I’m going to declare war.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Blame Christianity for Friday the 13th

Browsing through the archives of newspaper articles I'd written back when I had a life, I came across one from a San Francisco Bay Area newspaper dated Friday, March 13, 1992. The title, "Just Another Day." 

Front Page Story, LIFE section
I remember the assignment well. For some mysterious reason, the paper's editor thought I was the perfect feature writer to cover the topic of how Friday the 13th became surrounded in superstition. 

Because there was no lack of metaphysical shops filled with occultists, tarot card readers, ritualists, witches and even fairies in the Bay Area, research was an easy and fun--albeit bizarre--experience.

I have retyped the article (1200 words) and included it here. One fascinating tidbit: In the opening paragraphs I note that each calendar year has at least one Friday the 13th and some have as many as three. "... [it] will happen again in 1998, 2009 and 2012."

Hmmmm. 2012. Is it a coincidence I found this article again 20 years later in 2012? 

Or is it just good luck?

Just Another Day—Friday, March 13, 1992
By Michele VanOrt
The Montclarion

To many of the superstitious in the western world, Friday the 13th is regarded as a day of bad luck. Superstition warns against getting married o this day, beginning a new job, starting a voyage or beginning any new undertaking. You shouldn’t turn the mattress on a bed, have your haircut or your nails manicured.

For a criminal, it is bad luck to be sentenced on a Friday the 13th.

While each year has at least one Friday the 13th, some have as many as three, which happened in 1987 and will happen again in 1998, 2009 and 2012. This year, we must face this ominous day twice. And in case you haven’t yet looked at your calendar, today happens to be one of those days.

Don’t panic. According to folklore, some Friday the 13th superstitions prescribe good luck. If, for example, you happen to be a “13th-of-the-months baby” then this should be your best day.

Or if you’re into ancient pagan religion, you’ll also be okay. Friday the 13th was the sacred day of the Norse Goddess Freya, making it a lucky day. And in those times, the number 13 was revered. It was drawn from the 13 months of the lunar years.

“I’ve had some of the best experiences of my life on Friday the 13ths,” said Sitara, who works at the Rockridge metaphysical store The Moon and Star. “I remember when I was 14 years-old and most of my classmates were uneasy about the date, I found a $20 bill.

All Things Good
Sitara also claims she became pregnant with her first son on a Friday the 13th. “It’s an incredible day,” she said. “The attitude that it was bad—all black cats and bad luck—never came into play for me.”

Another school of thought on Friday the 13th lies in the mystical yet scientific world of the occult. Elizabeth Myrddian, self-proclaimed student of the occult who lives in San Francisco, says that everything is broken down into numbers.
“Thirteen is three and one, which makes four,” Myrddian says logically. “The number four in the Tarot stands for leadership, aggression and worldliness. It is represented by the emperor.”

Myrddian, who views Friday the 13th as a “bonus day,” said four is a powerful number because it is a square. The four equal sides represent the four elements—water, earth, fire and air—and the directions north, east, south and west.

The Tarot trump numbered 13 is the death card, represented by a skeleton moving a field of human heads with a scythe. “This is a symbol of death and new life . . . or transformation,” says Myrddian, who adds that it’s up to the individual whether to interpret trump No. 13 as good or bad.

So that takes care of the number 13. What about the Friday part? Myrddian explains that too.

“Friday is the day of Venus,” she said. “Rituals are performed on Fridays to keep rhythm with beauty and art. Venus protects nature’s balance, physical perfection and harmony. It represents fertility of plants, animals, humans and the end of a barren phase.”

According to Myrddian, a ritual performed on Friday the 13th may include an offering to Venus or to Earth. “You can burn green and pink candles and place flowers on an altar as a tribute to the beauty of Venus,” she said. “Or you can take a bath with herbs like rose petals or jasmine, adding certain spices you can find in your own kitchen that represent Venus.”

Myrddian compares the shaping of a ritual to following a recipe for making a cake. “To make a cake you don’t just will it into action,” she said. “You add a variety of ingredients to get the result you want. If you want coconut flavor, you add coconut. The same is true for rituals, be they fertility rituals of a romantic notion or to help you gain money or whatever.”

As far as advice for this Friday the 13th, Myrddian said, “You should try to stabilize things in your life and keep the status quo in balance. It’s a good time to break old habits or dissolve a bad relationship,” she said.

Myrddian cautions against following literature that requires adherence to strict patterns. “There’s so much material available that it’s easy to get lost in the mystical world of the occult. So often people forget that there’s a real world out there and a lot of bad luck is based on mundane communication snags.”

Placing Blame
According to Leana Alba of Albany, known in local spiritual and metaphysical circles as a priestess and ritualist, Friday the 13th got its bad name from the Christian monks. “Throughout history when one religion takes over another, the old gods become the new demons,” said Alba. “Prior to Christianity, most cultures worshipped the Goddess. Therefore (when Christianity emerged), everything associated with pagan female divinity was called unlucky.”

Literature suggests that Alba is right, and that Christianity is most likely responsible for spreading the fear of Friday the 13th. For example, it is generally believed that Christ was crucified on a Friday ad as a result, Fridays became a day of fasting, fish eating and gloom.

Friday also became known as “hangman’s day” in many countries, a day on which criminals were executed.

And the fear of the number 13 is so great, there is actually a word for it: triskaidekaphobia (tris-kai-deka-pho-bia) or “three-and-ten fear.” Again, the common and persistent negative superstition has roots in Christianity.

The Christian church opposed all pagan symbolism including the sanctity for the number 13, which was based on the 13-month lunar menstrual calendar. As a result, 13 became a contemptible number in the Christian world.

From the fear of this number came euphemisms like “baker’s dozen” and “devil’s dozen.” How many sat down to the Last Supper? Thirteen. And the first to leave was Judas who betrayed Christ. Superstition has it hat the first, or perhaps the last to leave any table will die or suffer some misfortune within the year. For this reason, many believe that it is unlucky to sit down at a table of 13.

Reason Upon Reason
Adding fuel to the number 13? The 12 apostles. In early Christian numerology, anything that went beyond the 12 apostles was considered sinful.

Thirteen is also the traditional number of a coven of witches, and some say that 13 was deemed unlucky since human beings first began to count. They added their 10 fingers and two feet and they got 12. What came after 12 was a mystery and amounted to terror of the unknown.

Other accounts credit the Romans for associating 13 with death and misfortune. Their year consisted of 12 months and each of their days was a daytime or nighttime of 12 hours. The Romans considered 12 a number of completeness. Thirteen dangerously exceeded proper limits.

So take your choice. You can choose to ignore Friday the 13th; you can choose to worship it; or, you can stay safely in bed with your head under the covers. In any case, have a nice day.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Prom Production Numbers

Yesterday I watched my child race into a massive headwind at the tail end of a 300 Hurdle race. She and the other racers appeared momentarily frozen in mid-air as they battled over the last three hurdles to the finish. After cheering her to a second place finish, a friend tapped me on the shoulder.

“I really enjoy how much you revel in your children,” she said.

Because of the wind I didn’t hear her properly. I heard the word “children,” and I thought I heard “rebel.”  I braced myself to learn what sort rebellious thing they had done.

She quickly repeated her statement and explained that her comment reflected not only my attendance at sporting events, but also the many Facebook posts and blogs about the girls.

Well, Linda, here’s another one.

Willow was late coming home from soccer practice last night. We expected her for dinner, however, she walked in the door with a big box from Pizza Hut in her hand. I wondered, was that the day’s rebellious act?

In her other hand she held a dozen roses. “Guess who has a prom date? she uttered with a bright smile.

Prom is ten days away. She’s been speaking of it for weeks and helping to plan it in Student Council for months. Two days ago she brought home a pair of teal stilts, er I mean pumps with six-inch heels, and she borrowed a slip of a dress from one of her teammates. Apparently she had everything in order except for her date. That was FAR more complicated.

Well, obviously the “right” guy finally asked her last night. And what I want to know is exactly when did prom invitations become such production numbers? I’ve seen cars decorated, cakes baked and elaborate ransom notes delivered.

Willow’s invitation was not without fanfare, and I’ve gotta hand it to the guy, he clearly tailored it to fit the girl he asked. From what I was told, he showed up at the end of soccer practice with the pizza and the roses. And he also decorated a soccer ball, using colored markers in all the white spaces. Prom? Prom? Prom? Prom?

The ball is really cute, and it will certainly keep a bit longer than a cake.

End note: This morning the icing on the prom cake is that the AYSA posted the State Cup Tournament schedule. We knew the girls had games on both the day of prom and the day after. We, of course, were hoping for an early game on Saturday and a late game on Sunday.

As team manager, I requested prom consideration a few times and I thought the AYSA didn’t listen. “We get this issue every year and we can’t make any guarantees,” said the bored and irreverent administrators each time I phoned.

Like a decent boyfriend, however, the AYSA came through for us. 10:00 a.m. Saturday—plenty of time to get ready, ladies. And 1:45 p.m. on Sunday—plenty of time to recover. Both games are in Tucson (as opposed to Phoenix or Casa Grande). 

We had no choice but to say “yes.”

Saturday, April 07, 2012

A New Form of Finger Painting

My kids won’t play with me anymore—they don’t choose me as a fun partner these days—but their friends will. And so will my friends.

I’ve currently got games going with three high school girls, as well as a friend from my high school days, a friend from my San Francisco publishing days and our trusted financial advisor. What is it? DrawSomething, an OMGPOP game. And I’m getting alarmingly good at it.

This free app is just one more thing to love about my iPhone. The more time I spend with it, the more I figure out what it can do. But I never dreamed it was possible to do what I can do with my fingertip in a 2" x 2" space.

Once my daughter taught me how to take a screenshot, I collected a few favorites from recent games:


Go ahead . . . tell me I've got too much time on my hands. That's what I used to think of people who spent time playing computer games. But for some reason, I never felt this way about people who spent their leisure time reading books. Hmmmmm.

They say Social Media and computer games with handheld devices take away an integral component of human interaction and that our (and our children's) obsession with it may lead to a form of social retardation.

I contend it's merely social evolution. That I've been able to connect with a few favorites of my daughter's friends (who I don't get to see anymore since they don't let "mom helpers" help in high school and I'm no longer a volleyball coach) is a little social bonus for me. And I hope them. We're having fun.

Further, staying in touch with old high school friends and business associates in this manner has been priceless.

So, as I work from home—managing a business, a soccer team and a writing career—I'm happy to take a few minutes each day to make finger paintings for my friends.

I hope my drawings make them smile. And I can assure you, their drawings  keep me from being such a crab.

Except for YOU Rady. You guess mine too quickly!!!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful

Have you heard about the British woman, Samantha Brick, who published an article on the Daily Mail website? She discusses how men often pay her cab fares, give her flowers, and offer her drinks, and why she believes women hate her for no reason other than her “lovely looks.” The article is called, 'There are downsides to looking this pretty: Why women hate me for being beautiful.”

Samantha Brick
The article has gone viral. And while it appears to have opened up the subject of women’s behavior toward other women, it has also, poor Samantha, created a firestorm of commentary and opinion about this woman’s looks. There are some supportive comments, but from what I read, most are really, really mean.

My opinion? She is certainly attractive . . . but . . . well, I don’t think she’d stop me in my tracks if she passed me on the street. I don’t know how I’d feel about the article if the photos showed a face more like what I behold as beautiful. Uh, like my children?

We are all entitled to our opinions on what we see as beauty and if she believes she’s beautiful than good for her. Bragging about it as she has done, however, isn’t exactly a beautiful trait.

All that said, I’d be a hypocrite if I condemned Samantha Brick for writing about her feelings. It’s what I do, right?

I may not take arrogance and delusion to THIS extreme, but I understand that by publishing anything—particularly a potentially controversial topic—I invite comments. I also think she was looking for her 15 minutes and she got it by being provocative. Either that or the entire article was an April Fool’s joke.

Meantime, I have a little story to share. Back when I was in my early 20s, living and working in the city of San Francisco, I believe I was an attractive and stylish young woman. (They called us “yuppies,” in the 1980s). Years removed from my relatively long awkward phase, I had grown into my paws by that point and became accustomed to turning heads on the street.

I perceived the attention to be primarily because of my height and my (very) long hair. I really didn’t think much about it. I was happy and having lots of fun.

California Street, San Francisco
One day, however, I was on California Street, walking to my office from either the BART station or bus station after the morning commute from where I lived in the East Bay. I remember exactly what I was wearing: a black pencil skirt, black, kitten-heel pumps and hose, and a lilac and white double-breasted wool jacket. My hair was long and flowing, and atop my head was a dark purple beret. I loved that beret.

So there I was clicking down the sidewalk, mere steps away from opening the heavy door of the office building. I was thinking about nothing special, minding my own business, when all at once I came face-to-face with a young man. He wore a green army jacket, had moderate facial hair and a look of sheer disgust on his face. He stopped dead in front of me and said, “You are SO ugly!”

Then he brushed past me and continued on his way as I stared after him in utter shock. There were no witnesses—no one to whom I could turn to ask if that really just happened. I was left standing there wondering what I had done to provoke such a nasty verbal attack.

Within seconds, I felt I had no choice but to laugh. I opened that heavy door, rode the elevator to the fourth floor and clacked my way past the smiling receptionist, who greeted me with a warm smile and a hearty “good morning.”

I smiled back, knowing I was okay. I realized this random guy may have thought I was ugly, but deep down, I knew at the very least, my mother thought I was beautiful . . . and it was ultimately just another a beautiful day in the city by the Bay.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

ACL Diary: It Takes a Year

April 2, 2011 was the day it happened. It was the day our daughter’s life changed.

We were told it would be about a year before she would truly “be back” as a soccer player with a torn and replaced ACL. Her surgeon and therapist cleared her to play six months ago and that’s because she was physically strong. But getting back her confidence—not to mention the kind of playing time a top-level player needs—was slower in coming.

Less than a month after her first games back on the field with her club team (Samba), they broke for the high school season. Unfortunately, her high school coach/teammates appeared to treat her more as the injured player she had become rather than the talented player she was. She trained daily with the team and grew stronger and more agile, yet she spent most of the season on the bench. Trust, it didn’t do a thing to redevelop her confidence, and it even threatened to take away her passion for the game.

Willow the "Bruiser"
What we learned during this three-month period is that you can’t always depend on a coach to take a special interest in your kid, nor can you get him or her to believe any other method, style or strategy may be more effective or successful than the one in which he/she believes. So, we just encouraged our child to hang-in there, keep working, and if she wanted to continue playing, her time would come.

I suppose it’s fair to say that as we kicked our way through the grief stages of our daughter’s injury and the near-fatal rip it gave to her soccer career, that this was the acceptance phase. She had a major injury. She needed time to fully recover.

Willow Cozzens, #24, in the air
Thankfully, the school season came to an end, the club season resumed, and Willow took her place back on the field. She was still not in a starting position—but she was given a respectable amount of playing time. And it wasn’t long before we were regularly seeing shades of the old Willow—or “Bruiser”—the nickname she earned last year.

“Did you see that slide, Mom?” she called to me between halves at a recent a game. I assured her that I did indeed see it, (and it didn’t even make me nervous). “That was for you!” she said with a wink.

Her team went undefeated in the AZ Division I State League season, clinching the championship and earning the first place seed for the upcoming State Cup tournament, which begins later this month.

After one full year and a lot of medical and therapy bills paid in full, all we can say now is: Go Samba! Go Willow! We love you; we believe in you. And it’s very rewarding to see how much you believe in yourself.

NOTE: We isolated this very short clip to show her tenacity on the field last weekend against the current state champions, a national team. She's the tall player in red on the left, who makes a tackle, gets tripped, recovers, and then fields the ball to her outside defender. Atta girl.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Volunteer Burnout Once Again Rears Its Rude Head

Wow. She just hung up on me.

My entire family overheard the phone conversation I had with the “mom volunteer” (MV) who answered the high school attendance line, and they witnessed my dropped jaw reaction. I wondered if she always treated callers the way she treated me or if she was simply having a bad morning.

You know, I consider myself an “unapologetic beyotch;” however, I don’t feel that gives me the right to be rude. What I mean by this description is that I don’t apologize for my beliefs—be they political, moral, humorous or intellectual in flavor—and if they disagree with yours, well then, I suggest we agree to disagree. And in general I don’t have a problem when people disagree with me. Unless, of course, they’re RUDE about it.

Seriously, this MV was curt from the start. I didn’t even get to finish my first sentence when requesting to speak to someone about my daughter’s detention. “Hold on,” she said, cutting me off. I waited on hold for two minutes before she came back on the phone and said she couldn’t locate an assistant principal to handle my issue.  “So what’s the problem?” she asked.

Yesterday was a registration day and my elder daughter attended her appointment then left school to come home and pickup her younger sister to bring her back for the 9:35 a.m. start time. I approved this, but I didn’t write a note. And my surrogate chauffeur failed to get a pass to leave campus, thinking the same rules didn’t apply because their start time wasn’t until 9:35. The Detention Ticket, in fact, designates the period of the violation as “before school.”

Keep in mind that this is a kid who currently tends to make a lot of her own rules and she’s faced some pretty severe consequences for doing so. But I felt this was as much my fault as it was hers, and I simply wanted to share the responsibility and talk to someone about it. I only just looked up the bell schedule for the registration process and it CLEARLY reads: STUDENTS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO LEAVE CAMPUS AFTER REGISTERING. So my daughter made a mistake, but I wasn’t a very responsible mother either.

“Well I know what the principal is going to say to you,” said MV. “I’m a mom at this school, too, and your daughter is a junior and should know better by now. She got caught sneaking out and that earned her a detention.”

Whoa! Sneaking out? No one was “sneaking” out. Obviously she had given her name to the parking lot monitor and said what she was doing. He issued the detention because he was following the proper procedure. We understand this. And frankly, she deserved the detention. Again, I just wanted to communicate my role in the violation.

“She wasn’t sneaking anything,” I said. “She had my permiss—”

Interrupting me again, MV said, “I’m writing this all down and someone will call you.”

“Shall I give you my phone number?”

“I have it. BYE.” CLICK!

Repeat: Wow. She just hung up on me.

I called back, she answered again, and I asked for her name. When I conveyed I felt her behavior was both abrupt and inappropriate, she asked why I would think such a thing. “Well for one, you hung up on me!” I said.

“That’s probably because I had 20 phone calls waiting,” she said.

“I understand you’re busy,” I said, “And I appreciate the volunteer work you do; however, I’m just a mom like you and I was simply calling to speak to someone about my daughter’s detention. I didn’t deserve to be treated like that.”

“I’ve already told you I wrote down your concerns and someone will call you.”

“That’s it?” I asked. “No apology?”

“I already apologized to you at the beginning of the conversation.”

Gee, I must have missed it.

It made me think. Bad day? Busy day? Whatever the problem, if you’re suffering from volunteer burnout, by all means do us all a favor and take a day off.

Bottom line? I think I have a new definition for “unapologetic beyotch.”