Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ya Know What Hacks Me Off?

So the other night I'm driving home from my parents' house. Just me in my van. It's 11 at night, drizzling and cold. I see a teenage girl, early high school or late junior high, walking along the road.

My impulse was to offer her a ride....but if you were a teenage girl walking home and some stranger asked you to get in his van in the middle of the night....I wound up just driving on.

Almost ten years ago, I offered a little old lady help carrying her groceries. As I approached, she literally recoiled in fear. I was unable to calm her down and left so she'd stop being afraid. (Well, at least not afraid of me).

The worst damage all the bad guys do is they teach the good guys to be afraid. My stories can't be unique.

I haven't figured out how we're gonna fix that one.


Thanks for listening.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Short History Lesson

Let’s talk about this weekend

Once upon a time, my Grandfather Eugene Brick joined the Navy and fought in the Pacific during World War II. His destroyer, the USS Drexler (DD-741) was sunk by two kamikaze planes in the Battle for Okinawa. Though it was under water less than 45 seconds after impact, Grampa survived along with about half his shipmates.

Fast forward 40 years…

During the 80s, Grampa started seeking out survivors from the Drexler. Soon, he found enough to hold a reunion. The reunion has met annually since then, each year finding more survivors, family of survivors, family of those who didn’t survive. The Drexler Reunion has been a source of knowledge, solace, healing and closure for decades.

Fast forward 20 years…

One person drawn to the reunion was Risa Morimoto, a documentary producer. She came to interview survivors for her film, Wings of Defeat, about kamikaze. As things worked out, Wings of Defeat became a big deal in Japan. Grandpa and another shipmate were flown out to Tokyo for the premier. They toured Honshu and Kyushu, answered press questions and met with survivors from the Kamikaze.

This past weekend was the US premier of Wings. For the event, Grampa met two kamikaze survivors in San Francisco. I was privileged to go with him and got to see these three men spend time together. Amazing as it may sound, within minutes they were just three old fellas telling stories.

It’s humbling and inspiring. If these men can forgive one another and share a drink, work together….who can’t?

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

If life gives you lemons, buy stock in Minute Maid.

It's been an interesting fortnight. Rough waters. Master McNeil told me to expect 'gut checks' and wow was he right. But we keep on keeping on.

For example.

I caught the plague that's been going around up here. Nasty little two week bug that includes (among other symptoms) a vicious frog in the throat and lost voice.

Perfect time to do my mute day, to the vast entertainment of most of my students. In truth, it was pretty fun. My child students got a big kick out of classes taught entirely through gesture and example. My friends got a laugh out of my killing two birds with one stone. My adult students learned to listen with their eyes on bodies.

I had to cheat twice. I got a phone call that might have been an emergency while nobody else was around to answer. Also, one of my students got very discouraged and I couldn't think of a way to fix him without a brief, kind sentence. Still, I call it a success...those small failures just point out how difficult it must be to truly lack speech. The point was to build empathy, walk a mile in another's moccasins, after all.

As for the rest of it...today, the sun is shining. I'm looking forward to a couple of good weeks.

Thanks for listening.