Weekend Coffee Share: “Wick”

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If we were having coffee this morning, we could giggle and chatter about the joys of spring here in Michigan. The crocuses, the daffodils, and the potholes that have bloomed everywhere. The end of my self-imposed winter hibernation. The beginning of my state’s most extended and well-known season: Construction.

For me, the surest sign of spring is the return of the robin, our state bird. When I was a kid, my aunt Marian taught us to “stamp” robins. She would lick her right thumb, press it into her left palm, and then turn her right hand over and pound her fist into her left palm, shouting out a number.

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In theory, she was counting the robins because counting and stamping one hundred robins each spring was supposed to guarantee good luck for the upcoming year. In reality, we all suspected that Marian cheated. We didn’t mind, though, because we all cheated too. It was just too hard to keep accurate running totals in our minds.  After hitting one hundred, most of us kept on stamping a few surplus robins just to make sure we really hit a hundred.

The best part of stamping robins with Aunt Marian was calling her every spring to tell her when we saw our first robin. She’s been gone seven years now, but I still reach for the phone when I see the first one, only to remind myself that she’s in heaven, probably lying to the angels about how many robins she’s stamping at that very moment.

My kids have never gotten into the whole business of stamping and counting, but they’ve caught my enthusiasm for spotting the first robin each year. One morning a few weeks ago, as my boys and I were leaving for school, my youngest started bouncing around in the back seat and squealing “Robin! Robin!”

“Where?” I demanded.

“Never mind. It was a cardinal,” he said sheepishly.

For the record, it was a mourning dove.

What he lacks in in knowledge of birds, he makes up for in enthusiasm. Of course, his older brother now feels the need to tease him by randomly shouting out the names of other birds. “Ostrich!” he’ll bellow.  “Emu! Pelican! Never mind,” he’ll say, pointing at the nearest mourning dove.  “It was a cardinal.”

The robin is more than just part of my family’s weird traditions. He is also a symbol of hope, of new beginnings. A sign of better things to come.  His red breast is thought by some to represent the rising of the sun, the dawning of a new day.

I like that.

In one of my favorite books, The Secret Garden, little Mary befriends a helpful robin who leads her to the garden door and the hidden key that unlocks its secrets. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the book, the garden appears to be cold and abandoned, just like Mary; but a little bit of hope and attention bring both the child and the plants to full, vibrant life.

Dickon, the boy who learns her secrets and guides her along the way, shows her how a seemingly dead plant can still have a little life deep inside. He says they are “wick”– alive, or lively.

Every spring, when I see my first robin, I think of that moment in The Secret Garden, when lonely little Mary follows the robin and finds the key to her own inner springtime. I think of Mary, and I think of Marian, and I know that somewhere, even on the very worst days, there is a part of me that is  “wick.”

Take a moment this week to look for the signs of spring that mean the most to you. Count your robins, pick a daffodil or too, have a picnic. Whatever it takes, get out there and welcome spring with open arms and remember that you, too, are “wick” inside, no matter how dark the winter has been.

And if that fails, you can always try counting one hundred robins for good luck.

garaden

 

Be sure to visit Diana over at Part-Time Monster to link up and see what some other bloggers have had to say with their weekly coffee share.  Thanks to Diana for hosting the #coffeeshare posts!

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Falling For You

Each fall, I remember why I live in Michigan.

At the risk of sounding like a travel brochure, I have to say that Michigan is a beautiful place in all seasons.  Sure, we’ve got some of the worst roads in the nation, and there’s a public perception out there that we’re all a bunch of lumberjacks, hunters, and hillbillies. Our winters are brutal; in fact, the weather is unpredictable and often violent all year ‘round. And the wildlife? I’m not even going to talk about the random bear and cougar sightings around here, or the fact that the mosquito is close to edging out the robin as our state bird.  But not even the mosquito is as annoying or irritating as its friends: the gnats, black flies, deer flies, and that most mysterious of all insects known as the No-see-um.

Wait. Where was I going with this?  Ah, yes. Michigan in the fall.

It’s all about change. Driving down the road one day, I’ll suddenly notice an orange leaf here, a red one there, and somehow, it always manages to surprise me. I know it’s coming every year, but there’s always that one day when I say, “Is it that time already?”

Right about then, the smiling weather reporters on the nightly news shows start talking about “Peak Color.” They point at pretty charts and start running all the facts and figures to tell us all where to be and when to be there in order to see the brightest display of Michigan’s best fall colors.

Folks, we don’t need the weatherman on WWMT to tell us when the colors are pretty. Just look out the damn window or head north.  Red, orange, yellow and brown, in more hues and tones than can ever be recreated in a Crayola box of 64 colors. Bright, vivid, riotous shades that stand out against a clear blue sky, or sometimes against thick gray storm clouds that swirl and poke at each other like teenagers looking for a fight.

The trails around Tahquamenon Falls, already orange from the tannic acid in the water, become almost ethereal in their autumn beauty. The Mighty Mac – the Mackinac Bridge – becomes a road to a land of such indescribable beauty that it must be seen to be believed. And Mackinac Island itself becomes Heaven on Earth, and that’s all there is to it. The Island is pretty darn amazing in the spring when the lilacs are in bloom, but even that doesn’t compete with its October beauty.

Colors always reach their peak earlier in the U.P. Or as you non-Michiganders refer to it, the Upper Peninsula. Here in Lower Michigan, we tend to think of those folks up there as sort of a different tribe, distant relatives of our family. We call them “Yoopers” and they call us “Trolls” because we live under the bridge.

That’s okay, though, because at least we go out at night.

The stereotypical Yooper wears flannel, plays Euchre, and says “eh” at the end of every sentence. They even have their own local celebrities – a very funny, very talented band called Da Yoopers, who have songs like “It’s The Second Week of Deer Camp” and “Da Couch Dat Burps” among other treasures.   Da Yoopers also have their own store and outhouse museum in Ishpeming.  My ex-husband and I went there as part of our honeymoon tour of the U.P., right after a stop at the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point.

In retrospect, I think it says an awful lot about us that our marriage began with a trip to look at shipwrecks and toilets.

Back down here in the Lower Peninsula, fall brings football season and bonfires, and an almost frantic rush to get in as much fun as possible before the snow hits. It’s not quite time for hot cocoa yet; we demand hot cider stirred with a cinnamon stick or sprinkled with tiny red-hots.

We have corn mazes here in Michigan, like many other Midwestern states. I used to take my kids to the one at Crane’s Orchards in Fennville, but it got embarrassing when the owners had to send in a rescue party for my kids and me year after year. The one year my ex-husband joined us, his perfect sense of direction whisked us through the entire maze in ten minutes flat.

Good man to have around in an emergency, not so fun in a corn maze.

After the maze, we hurry over to Crane’s Pie Pantry, where they serve the world’s best homemade apple pie ala mode. Since I don’t really like apple pie, however, I am usually content with the heaping platter of tiny apple cider doughnuts they plunk down on every table. Add a bottomless mug of icy apple cider, and I’m in absolute bliss, especially since Crane’s idea of a “bottomless mug” is a Mason jar.

Just outside the Pie Pantry, there stands a tiny log cabin made out of railroad ties.  It is over a hundred years old; the Crane family bought it and hauled it here from the little town of Dunningville, where my grandfather and his half-brother Jim built it.  Just inside the door, there are two pictures on the wall. One is a picture of Grandpa, Jim, and their dog Bowzer – who, according to family legend, simply lay down and died a few days after Jim died from a ruptured appendix.  The other is a picture of my four aunts in their heyday.

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If the Pie Pantry isn’t too busy the day we visit, I’ll tell the Cranes that I’m Mr. Hyde’s granddaughter, and they’ll let us go inside the old cabin instead of just peering through the windows with everyone else. My sister and I once held hands in the center and easily reached out to touch the walls, marveling that two grown men once shared that tiny space.

I never met my Grandfather, of course. He died when Dad was just a little boy, somewhere in the 1940’s. From everything I’ve heard, he wasn’t a very nice man, and there are many, many stories about him that I probably shouldn’t have been told. But I love to go to his cabin in the fall because it makes me feel connected.

You see, they’re all gone now. Grandpa, Jim, the aunts, even poor old Bowzer. Mom and Dad, who aren’t in any pictures at the log cabin, but still connected in their own way. It’s been too many years since I held hands with my sister in the cabin or anywhere else, for that matter.  Sometimes, even with my kids and my friends and those few family members who are still here . . .sometimes, I am so alone in this world that I don’t know how I’m ever going to manage to draw the next breath.

But each fall, I go to Grandpa’s cabin and I find that connection again. I hear the leaves crunching beneath my feet, and I try to whistle through acorn caps the way Aunt Marian used to do, and I’m not alone any more.

Each fall, I am reminded that everything ends. There is always a sense of wrapping up, of tying off loose ends, of saying farewell. It’s a last burst of color before we’re all buried in snow. In a sense, fall is a preparation for death. But it’s also a promise, because fall’s beauty reminds us that spring is just around the corner and things are going to be bright and colorful again someday.

It’s all about hope.

This is a Finish The Sentence Friday post: “Each fall, I . . . ” hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, Julie Martinka Severson from Carvings on a Desk and Danielle Dion from https://wayoffscript.wordpress.com/. Please take a few minutes to check out what some of the other bloggers did with this sentence!

Perspective

I was thinking the other day about some of the projects I made in seventh grade art class. One was a clay bunny that I painted brown, only to realize that I had created something that looked exactly like a giant turd with ears.

The other was a perspective drawing of a city street, which turned out surprisingly well considering just how badly I draw. I really had fun with that assignment, probably because it involved very little actual skill beyond an ability to draw straight lines with a ruler. It was amazing to me to see how something that appeared to be so complicated was actually quite simple to create.

It was all about breaking it down and looking at it differently.

Perspective.

The teacher didn’t seem to be bothered by my utter lack of any artistic skill whatsoever, but she became annoyed when I wouldn’t give her an answer about whether or not my family would be there for the annual Open House. I hemmed and hawed and stammered and finally mumbled something about my mom being sick. The teacher stared at me for a long, quiet moment before hauling me out in the hall and demanding the truth.

I don’t know what possessed me that day. I opened my mouth and told her details I hadn’t even told my closest friends. Words I barely understood: modified radical mastectomy, radiation, chemotherapy, prognosis. I told her the truth — that my mom was scheduled to begin chemotherapy on the day of the Open House, and we didn’t know if she would be sick that evening or not. I couldn’t give the teacher a definite “yes” or “no” because I didn’t know what to expect.

“I had breast cancer two years ago,” the teacher told me, after another long, quiet stare. “And chemo. You show up if you can, stay home with your mom if she needs you.”

In that moment, I wasn’t alone anymore. My mom was no longer the only person I knew with breast cancer. With those few words, my teacher changed the way I saw my mother’s cancer, and I could breathe again. She made my world that much bigger.

She gave me dose of perspective. A way of looking at things from a different angle.

It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with a lot of issues in recent months. I don’t like to say that I “suffer” from depression, because that sounds too passive. I “struggle” with it, “deal” with it, “fight” it, but I don’t just sit here and suffer. I hate it with a passion.

I am not, however, ashamed of it.

I’m never sure how much to say about my depression. I don’t want to be seen as a whiner, or as someone trolling for sympathy. I don’t want sympathy, and I don’t want people to walk on eggshells around me. Seriously, just because I’m going through a bad time, it doesn’t mean I need people to check up on me all the time. I’m not going to lie; there are days when my greatest accomplishment is simply staying alive until sunset. But I’m not that fragile. I’m just . . . . depressed, and doing my damndest to climb out of a very deep, dark hole.

I want to keep it secret because I don’t want to be treated differently. But I also want to talk about it because I want people to understand why I sometimes withdraw from them and want to spend time alone. Why I cry for no apparent reason. Why I can come unglued so easily. Why my temper sometimes flares up in ways that are not proportionate to the situation.  I’m asking for some patience, but not pity.

It’s all in how you look at it. Perspective.

It’s been a rough summer for me. I worked too many part-time jobs and pushed myself to the point of exhaustion, and it still wasn’t enough. I lost my dream house anyway. I ended up in the subsidized apartment building here in town, where I am surrounded by boxes and bags and piles of everything I own, and I am too overwhelmed to make the next move of actually putting anything away.

I organized my silverware drawer and I move boxes of books from place to place. I’ve unwrapped my Lladros and Dresdens and even managed to cook a real supper for my boys the other night. And I discovered that I own far too much tea, which has worked out pretty well since I haven’t been able to find the filter basket for my coffeemaker. I haven’t had coffee in a week, but I’ve worked my way through some delicious Earl Grey and other treasures for my morning caffeine.

I turned to my pastor for help. She told me this is all God’s way of telling me to go back to my husband. I told her that God must be sending mixed messages, since my ex is currently engaged to someone new and my return at this point might make for an awkward honeymoon.

I don’t care for my pastor’s perspective. She sees my situation as a punishment for my sins. I see her as a total asshole, and I won’t be returning to her church.

That’s my perspective.

Look, I am an author and a blogger. Most of the time, I manage to make people laugh. I have been so fortunate to be able to find my voice and follow my dream and all that. My kids are healthy, I have the support of a lot good people, etc. Lots of good stuff, right? On my good days, I’m able to appreciate how blessed I really am. And on my bad days, I cling to the good stuff like a lifeline, and that lifeline keeps me from going completely under.

Depression sucks. There are those who believe it’s a weakness, or a choice. Who perceive it as wallowing in self-pity or looking for attention. Who are going to read this and shake their heads in disgust.

All I am asking is that you take a second to see the world from a different perspective, and understand that depression is not a choice. It’s an illness. In the United States alone, 16 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2012. That’s 6.9% of the population, guys. It’s real and it hurts.

And I’m choosing to own it. I am not ashamed of it anymore. I’m looking from a new angle, seeing it as something that is not a weakness, not a fault. It’s treatable, and I can do something about it. There is hope.

I am Amy, and I am being treated for depression.

Thanks, Dad

My father didn’t leave me any money.  I didn’t get his height or his broad shoulders or even his pretty blue eyes.  I’m sort of glad I didn’t get his hook nose, although I have to say I’m not really happy with the one I ended up with.   And I breathe a sigh of relief whenever I think about how awful his deep chin-dimple would have looked on the sharp, pointy chin I inherited from my mother’s family.

In short, all I got from Dad – other than the gene for alcoholism – was his sense of humor.

In the immortal words of Robert Frost, “That has made all the difference.”

I get depressed quite often.  Maybe more than the average person.  So sue me – It’s my divorce party and I’ll cry if I want to.  But when I’m done crying, I have to find things to laugh at.  Sometimes, I laugh while I’m still crying, which is sort of messy and tends to make people eye me warily, as though questioning whether or not they should start Googling phone numbers for the nearest distributor of straight-jackets.

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion.  I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

— Kurt Vonnegut

My search for a place to live has been a mess.  It has become something my soon-to-be-ex-husband would refer to as a Goat Rodeo, which is apparently only a step or two removed from being a complete and total Cluster Fuck.  At the rate things are going, I fully expect to enter all-out Cluster Fuck territory any day now.

I made an offer on the perfect house.  And by “perfect” I mean “enough bedrooms, great location, within my price range, needs some work, has a creepy pet cemetery in the back yard.”   I waited . . . and waited . . . and waited.  I then called a different Realtor – a smart woman with whom I graduated – and followed her advice.  I made another offer directly to the Seller’s Agent . . . who hemmed and hawed and made excuses about why the bank wasn’t responding.

Meanwhile, the house went up for auction.

I looked at another house, which was described as having renovations that were “85% complete”.  It had a gorgeous layout, including a built-in greenhouse window in the kitchen and a set of French doors leading from the Master Bedroom out onto a deck.  It also had garbage piled up throughout, holes in the floors and walls, no bathtubs or toilets or kitchen cabinets, and ivy growing on an inside wall.  The big red “Condemmed” notice on the front door was a bit of a surprise, as was the raging river gushing through the basement.

Good thing I majored in English, because my poor math skills make it impossible for me to calculate where the “85% complete” factors into that particular equation.

In short, things are not going as well as I had hoped.

I can’t even find a three-bedroom house to rent.  I’d settle for an apartment, but there are no three-bedroom apartments in a town this size.  And forcing my children to change schools is not an option.  I may end up finding a two-bedroom apartment and sleeping on a couch in the living room until my older children graduate.  Not a pleasant alternative, but possibly my only alternative at this point.

I have cried so much in recent weeks that I just feel sort of . . . done.    I can’t cry any more.  So when I laugh at my housing problems, I am not in denial; I am not avoiding the situation; my amusement is not a sign that I am not taking this seriously.  I am taking it seriously, believe me.

But come on – ivy on an inside wall?!  A raging torrent of water in the basement of condemmed house, and some  moron actually has the chutzpah to ask $20,000 for it?  A Realtor who assured me that she understands that I have bad credit, no job, limited funds – and then sends me details on houses that cost upwards of $70,000?

I have to laugh.  It is simply too preposterous not to laugh.  If this situation isn’t funny, then it has to be tragic, and I just can’t do tragic right now.  You know the old saying about how “someday we’ll all look back on this and laugh”?  I can’t wait for someday.  I have to laugh now.

It’s in my genes.

Not to sound ungrateful, Dad, but you couldn’t have just left me thirty grand instead?

Comedy is tragedy plus time.

— Carol Burnett

Overflow

Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

There are days in my life when the glass is half-full, but there are also days when it is half-empty.  Then again, there are days when that glass is nothing but a pile of shattered glass and melting ice on the floor.

Whenever someone mentions the half-full/half-empty analogy, I am reminded of something that happened when I was fourteen years old.  Mom sat us down at the kitchen table and told us, in a matter-of-fact tone, that the she had breast cancer.  She explained the words chemotherapy, radiation, radical mastectomy.

There was nothing to say.  Mom was nothing if not efficient, and she answered all of our questions before we asked them.

I was really young and stupid.  I thought I could make it better with a dumb gesture.  I went to the sink, half-filled a glass with water, and plunked it on the table in front of her, saying something like, “It’s half-full, Mom.”

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There was, of course, much eye-rolling from my older sisters and deafening  silence from my mother, and I mentally kicked myself for being such a moron.  The incident was never mentioned again until nearly eight years later, when the cancer came back with a vengeance and Mom told me that my gesture had been a source of strength for her the first time around.

Ha.  Score one for my inner optimist.

Life sucks sometimes.  People get hurt and people die, and most of us suffer unbearable losses at one time or another.  But the sun comes up the next day, and we drag our sorry asses out of bed, and we trudge through the next day to face the possibility of more pain, more loss, more heartache.  Some nights, we cry ourselves to sleep and pray that tomorrow never comes, but that damn sun comes back again and again and hope keeps rising with it.

I could cry because I lost my mom at 21, or I can be thankful that I had her for eight bonus years.  I can rage about losing Dad at 31, or I can thank God I had a chance to reconcile with him before his death.  I can whine and wail about everything I lost on June 21, 2011, or I can be grateful for all of the miracles that kept my children and me alive when the tree fell on our van.  Seriously, how many people survive something like that?

To be honest, I still struggle with that one.  It’s one thing to be grateful; it’s another thing entirely to keep my chin up when I’m in too much pain to remember my own name, or when I have a flashback triggered by something stupid like thunder or a car wash or the color blue.

But overall, the glass has to be half-full.

If it isn’t, why are we here?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/daily-prompt-the-glass/

Of Porcupines and Ducks

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My mom used to call them “Prickly Days”.  Those days when one of us was just feeling defensive or particularly put-upon, when our response to everything was a snarl or a snap.  A conversation on one of those days might go as follows:

Mom:  Good Morning!

Me: What’s that supposed to mean?

Mom:  Just . . . good morning. 

Me:  You always loved (insert random sibling) more!  Stop picking on me!

Prickly.  Like an angry little porcupine.  Don’t touch. Don’t speak.  Don’t try to smooth things over.   Just walk away.  Do not pass Go; do not collect $200.

Lately, it seems as though the entire world is having “Prickly Days” and they are using social media to express themselves.  I have to wonder if it doesn’t sometimes take an extreme effort to be so very offended by every tiny, seemingly innocuous comment made by some random celebrity, and then spout off about it online.

For example, look at the reaction to Justin Bieber’s recent comments in the guestbook at the Anne Frank House.  He wrote:  “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” 

Now, that was a really stupid thing to say.  It comes across as a bit of self-promoting fluff that trivializes everything that Anne Frank went through.     But is it bad enough to warrant the hate-filled ranting and raving, the angry demands for a public apology?

Let’s face it; he’s a kid who said a dumb thing.  If people can just calm down for a moment and stop being angry long enough to consider the intent behind his vapid scribble, can anyone really, possibly believe that he truly intended to be so disrespectful?  Or did he just have a stupid moment?

A less notorious–and far less stupid –example of this rush to be offended involves my current celebrity crush.  On February 7, Randolph Mantooth posted the following Tweet:

“I swear! There’s some ignorant, intolerant, crazy ass people in the world 2day & they all seem 2 B on Facebook & Twitter.”

Oh, come on, is anybody really surprised that I follow him on Twitter?

Personally, I think it’s a pretty funny Tweet.  I rather agree with it most days.  I clicked “favorite” and moved on after a good chuckle.

But a few weeks later, he had to address the issue in his blog on his site, Route51, because apparently people were offended by the comment.  It was interpreted as an insult against anyone without a high school education.

Just how hard do you have to squint to see that in his comment?  How much effort does it take to be offended by that?

In a post titled “What I Said” Mantooth defends himself by saying:

“If you read the tweet, you’ll know I never said anything about anyone’s education. . . . Look…. One of the smartest people in my life only made it through the 8th grade. …My father! With only a high school education, my mother successfully raised 4 kids as a waitress… by herself!”

Again, let’s look at the intent behind the words.  Does anyone really believe it was his intent to criticize the educational background of anyone, anywhere?  Or was it more likely the off-the-cuff comment of a man having a frustrating day?

The incident that prompted me to speak up about this outbreak of Let’s-Be-Offended-By-Everything-Syndrome is something that happened yesterday.  In response to the horrific events that took place in  Boston, actor/comedian Patton Oswalt posted some touching words of hope on his Facebook page.  I was never really a fan of his before, but I am now.

In six brief but eloquent paragraphs, Oswalt talks about the bombs and reminds us that the people committing these atrocities are “not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet” and goes on to point out that videos of the carnage show more people running toward the injured than away from the danger.

In the final paragraph, Oswalt says:

“So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.’ “

Now, how in God’s name could anyone possibly find that offensive?  But looking at the comments people have made below his words of wisdom, is enough to shake one’s faith in humanity.

Some criticise him for using profanity.  Okay, so I probably wouldn’t have opened with the f-bomb; but Oswalt’s word choice has the desired effect of grabbing our attention.  And I don’t know about anyone else, but I know I dropped the f-bomb, as well as a lot of other foul words, as I watched the events unfold on TV.  I can’t think of a better way to sum up what happened in Boston than with his words:  “Boston.  Fucking horrible.”

Worst of all are the idiots who blast him for being overly patriotic, for over-simplifying the situation, or for using the situation for political means.

He did none of those things.

He reached out to the rest of us to offer encouragement and reassurance that the world is, after all, not such a terrible place.    He did a good thing; his intent was to offer hope and comfort.  I think he succeeded, but even if others don’t agree, they should at least manage to not be offended.

When I was a kid and I would come home crying because someone had been picking on me yet again, my Aunt Marian would tell me to “toughen up” and “let if roll off, like water off a duck’s back”.  God, how I hated those phrases!  I wanted to feel the hurts and wallow in my anger;  I wanted to go right on being a prickly porcupine and take offense at every little thing.  I didn’t want to be a duck.

Then I grew up.

Folks, it’s time to put on the grown-up undies and stop being so easily offended by every little thing.  It’s fine to get angry.  Be angry that someone set off bombs at the Boston Marathon.  Be offended by acts of terrorism.  Get pissed off because we have to be afraid of another Oklahoma City or 9/11 or Boston.

But don’t waste your time being offended over the tiniest of issues.

Is it worth getting worked up over a thoughtless comment made by some bubblegum  teen idol?  Or because of the irritated tweet made by a man who has spent forty years using his fame to support  and promote EMS workers everywhere?  Is it even humanly possible to take offense at the touching words of hope offered up by a man who stopped being a comedian long enough to reach out to his fellow human beings?

I have one thing left to say.

Quack.