Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Turtle king

January 15, 2010

It’s a dark afternoon.  It’s freezing outside, and I can’t seem to sell anything.  Times like this, my mind goes back to sunnier days, when I was the turtle-catching king of the world.

At age 12, Robroy was incredibly lucky.  We had our own private pond in the back yard, and it was stocked with turtles.  My younger brother Jim and I used to chase them on hot summer days in our canoe.  As we came close, they slipped off the log and vanished into the murky gold, but that never stopped us.  The trick was to scoop about 3 feet ahead of where you thought they were going.  By the time you got your net under water, they would swim right into it.  If your timing was right.  If your aim was true.

One summer day after church, rather than go inside with the rest of the family, my dad and I walked around back to take a look at the pond, as we often did.  Now, my dad was a salesman — still is — and he could talk.  So I’m standing on the bank, listening to him explain an idea he was wrestling with, gazing at the water, when all of a sudden I see a shadow rise from below.  It was about 4 feet off shore.  A turtle pierced the surface with his snout.

Without a moment’s hesitation, I leaped.  He turned and angled for the bottom.  But my timing was perfect.  My aim was true.  I crashed onto the water with my hands clutching down onto him.

Too easy!  Skimming along the muck with him swimming in my hands, I was laughing inside.  I decided to stay down as long as I could, just to make a bigger impression on my dad.  When I could hold my breath no longer, I burst to the surface, raising the turtle in both hands.  Dad’s eyes were round as two robin’s eggs.

“You nut!” he shouted.  “I don’t believe it!”

“He put up a — hulluva — fight!” I gasped.

Dad grabbed my elbow and helped me out of the water and up the bank, laughing and clapping me on the back.  “Wait till your mother and brother see this!” he said.  “Cynthia!  Jim!  Get out here!”

As he dragged me squishing in my church clothes toward the house with the turtle swimming in my hands, I felt wet and muddy and very, very satisfied.

♥  ♥  ♥

Back then, I knew the value of training.  Anticipating.  Recognizing the opportunity.  Of diving in, giving it your all and landing the deal.  And most importantly, I knew the value of communicating, sharing success and being joyful.

And that means I can do it.  Of course I can do it!  It’s really just a matter of doing it again.

I reach out and grab the phone.

Wait til Dad hears about this one.

(read more posts below)


Thanksgiving blues

November 25, 2009

This Thanksgiving, Robroy (f/k/a Campus Scout) is especially thankful for my wonderful readers from the University of Illinois who are still with me after all these years.  To show my appreciation, I thought you might enjoy a flashback to the emotional experience of being a freshman and going home for the holidays for the first time.

Here’s an excerpt from Campus Scout’s “Thanksgiving Blues,” courtesy of the Daily Illini newspaper, November 25, 1987:

Do Scout a favor this weekend when you go home.  Try this experiment.

After sitting and chatting with the family, excuse yourself to go take a shower.  Halfway into the shower, pick up a bottle of shampoo and drop it at your feet.


Listen.  Within seconds, someone will come running to see if you broke open your crazy head.

Someone still cares about you, even now that you’re a grown up, mature college kid.

So have a good Thanksgiving, paleface.

Beautiful Franny

April 26, 2009

My grandmother, Frances Rockwell Vining, who made it to 100, died on Wednesday. My mom and dad were with her. Though she suffered from Alzheimer’s for the last 10 years and didn’t recognize us, Grandma was at peace with her decline, warmly smiling and saying, “Thank you, sweet heart,” to the very end.

“Thank you, sweet heart” was Grandma’s calling card. She always went out of her way to make everyone else feel special.  That’s how I felt when I visited them in Western Mass, a few weeks after college graduation. I remember, she brought out some old photos I’d never seen. One nearly made my heart stop.

It was a girl – maybe 18. She was small and fair-haired and breath-takingly beautiful. Even in black-and-white you could see she had pale blue eyes that brimmed over high cheekbones and a laughing red mouth.  She was all dimples and creases, strawberries and cream. I’ve noticed that most people are attracted to faces opposite theirs. For me, it had always been girls with dark hair and dark eyes that turned my head and stole my heart. The girl in the picture looked nothing like that. Strange as it is to admit, she looked almost like … me.

“Who is this?” I demanded.

“That’s me,” Grandmother said, startled, gripping the shoebox on her lap.

“That was you?”

“That is me!”

I know I looked stunned. I had to look stunned. The face in the picture was excruciatingly cute. Looking at her now, it was as if age wore a rubber mask. Yet I could still see the bright eyes behind the cheekbones curving up, a flash of the joyful smile.  I blurted, “Grandma! You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen!”

She took the picture and slipped it back under the shoebox lid, blushing to the roots of her silver curls. “Thank you, sweet heart,” she said softly, shaking her head as if to deny the obvious truth.

Thank you, Grandma.

Why I un-friended Anderson Cooper

March 21, 2009

Talented, articulate, relentless, Anderson Cooper seems to have his heart in the right place.  But his face is in the wrong place.  As the front man of CNN, he is the king of the old media, the grand-daddy of all fear-mongers.  And so I decided to leave him.

Because that’s what old media channels do.  Generate fear.  Think of the City of Los Angeles – what comes to mind?  Smoke pouring out of shattered storefronts.  People rioting in the streets.  Old media channels give us the memory of despair and the expectation of pain.

Versus new media (FB, Twitter, MySpace, etc.), which are beautiful and positive.  At least, you can make them that way.  This doesn’t mean stick your head in the sand and ignore outrages against mankind.  Rather, it means we get to make the news media our own hub of communications.  We get to use the medium itself to come together quickly, to create change and broadcast the response.  We dictate what is news.  You do and I do.

For example, here’s a Twitter perspective on life in Los Angeles today.  If you tweet (pardon the expression if you don’t), you may have seen the recent article by Terry Parris Jr. about how people are using Twitter.

Here’s a part I liked: A company in LA sells hot, portable Korean barbeque in a taco shell.  They have no stores.  They deliver out of trucks.  The fascinating part is this: To connect with mobile customers, the company relies exclusively on Twitter.  They simply tweet their destinations.  According to the article, it’s a cult sensation.  Up to 800 people line up when the trucks arrive at various points throughout the city.

You can follow Kogi on Twitter.  Robroy does, even though we are 3,000 miles apart.  Why?  Because instead of a conventional bombardment of layoffs, bankruptcies and bailouts from CNN, you get upbeat posts about people coming together to make their city a better place:

“Hey, Bruins, migrate over to our new spot at Veteran and Ophir. Let’s make peace with the haters and feed them our tacos… of love!  10:36 PM Mar 17th

So I guess this is goodbye.  Please don’t take it personally, Anderson.  It’s not you – it’s me.