Charles W. Eliot
My love affair with books began many years ago. Probably when I was about this age:
My mother often told me how I would raid the bookshelves in my father’s den, choosing books from flowers to medicine to mystery and carry them around babbling as if I was reading every word. I often used crayons to add my own illustrations. And from the moment I could read, she would take me to the library where I would emerge with stacks of books. I never lost that book stacking idea!
Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of picking up a book, settling into a cozy chair, or under a tree, and traveling to faraway places, discovering new people and lands, experiencing high adventure, or learning some new language.
A recent event precipitated the purchase of new carpeting for the den. Before the day of installation, our job was to “move the small things” out of the way! Although the two large bookcases do not fall into the “teeny” category, we had to box up the books and temporarily move them to another location. This of course led to the age old question: do we really need all of these books?
The quick answer was no, of course not. After all, we had just spent hours boxing them up and hauling them into another room. Their daunting heaviness gave pause. And yet, when it was time to move them back in, pick each one up, and carefully consider its value, it was as complicated as the plot in Hamlet.
After all, in this household we are educators and authors.
And there are bookcases in every room of the house, save the bathrooms. Books stacked on table tops, desktops, floors.
So, we sat down with each one, weighed the criteria and considered its fate.
Some books had to stay because they were old classics.
Some had to stay because they were new.
Some because they were meaningful. Some were just plain sentimental. Some were too significant to be tossed aside. Some evoked a special memory.
Some had been autographed by a favorite author.
Some had been gifts from mom or dad or other important people.
We began to question our decision. After all, can one really have too many friends? But we looked around at the stacks of boxes and the sea of opened books and carried on.
Admittedly, because I have a Kindle and an iPad and read primarily on those, I buy fewer books now. I often wonder what I had been thinking buying so many books. I have traveled cross country – east to west, north to south, with boxes and boxes of them. Leaving behind furniture – but never my friends! Yes, I am a book hoarder! So parting is, as they say, such sweet sorrow!
And so, it turns out that book friends should be shared with other friends!
I have been collecting books for decades. So this purging is just a beginning. Just remember, you do not have to do it all overnight. One page at a time!
To help you decide what to do with your old friends, er, books:
Here are some resources to assist you in the painful separation:Read More
“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Writing is my powerful passion, my prevailing purpose, my prominent path. It gives my life meaning. It brings me fantastical joy. My creative veins pulse every time I see a fascinating figure, a shivering shadow, an unexplored universe.
I write because I have to. There are worlds of players inside my head, exploding with dreams, desires, and daring adventures. They are storming the stockade, entering the empire, and announcing their arrival. They are waiting to tell their story.
I write for many of the same reasons for which I read. Communication. Connection. Camaraderie.
Books shaped my life. From the moment that I could hold a book with both hands, I read. Oh, I might not have understood the words exactly – but my imagination painted a picture of the things that my mind did not comprehend.
I fell in love with story. And characters. And plot. I hungered for adventure and excitement and experience.
Why do you write? Are there characters dancing around in your head waiting to tell their stories? I would love to hear from you.
Helen S. writes: “I write to know myself. I write because I can. I write to record truths, to imagine worlds, to persuade people, to make them think. I write because it’s an art form. Even as a child, writing played an important role. I set up an office in my closet, pulled in a small chair, desk, and lamp and graced the desktop with a typewriter. The blank paper intimidated me, but I pecked away at the keys and recorded a few thoughts. It was a tableau I’d create again and again…”
I have always been a writer. I have always loved books. When I was three years old, my idea of writing a book was picking a bound book from the library at my house, opening it up and adding some illustrations, via crayons or a number 2 pencil. From there, I ventured into poetry, short stories, articles for school papers, and the senior class song and play.
My first piece of fiction was (is) an adult novel. I had never taken a novel writing course – so I was intimidated! My thought: I will start writing a children’s book! That will be easier! Ha! Was I mistaken! I stumbled into the vast wonderland of Children’s Books.
As a teacher of Language Arts and Social Studies, I was familiar with children’s books. Good books! Great books! Charlotte’s Web, The Wind in the Willows, Goodnight, Moon, Bridge to Terabitha, Little Women, Tuck Everlasting, to name a few. But talking about them after they are written is way different than writing one from scratch! I had a lot to learn about the field of Children’s Publishing!
As I said, I was a teacher for many years. Then I became a school psychologist. And although I had retired from my job as a school psychologist for the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice, I still wanted to work with children. I had been mentoring students at Logan Elementary in Columbia for several years. One of the students was enrolled in the FBI Junior Special Agent Program. A program for the fifth graders at Logan. As I closely watched his participation in the program, I was intrigued. The idea for Sean began to dance around in my writer head! I told the Special Agent in charge of the program about some ideas I had with Sean’s character development. He invited me to FBI Headquarters in Columbia.
I interviewed special agents at the FBI Columbia Field Office about their Junior Special Agent Program, which led to negotiations with the FBI Office of Public Affairs (OPA) in Washington DC about my story and an endorsement with them to collaborate on a series of at least 4 or 5 more books based on my protagonist.
I was then nominated to become a member of the FBI Citizens Academyand received training in all areas of the FBI, including terrorism, counter-terrorism, gangs, and hate crimes, kidnapping and cyber-crime. This has given me personal insight into the inner workings of the organization and a great trove of stories for the potential series! Storylines I wish to develop include bullying and hate crimes; chat room lures and cyber-stalking; kidnapping; witness protection; and violent gang and organized crime.
About the FBI Citizens Academies
Want to find out first hand how the FBI works? Hear how the Bureau tracks down spies and terrorists? Learn how to collect and preserve evidence? See what it is like to fire a weapon and put yourself in the shoes of a Special Agent making a split-second, life-or-death decision?
If you are a leader in your community, you just might be able to do that and more––through an FBI Citizens’ Academy, open for business in all 56 of our field offices.
Who attends? Business, civic, and religious leaders. You must be at least 18 years old (with no prior felony convictions) and must live and work in the area covered by the field office sponsoring the academy.
Who teaches? Special Agents in Charge of a field office, their senior managers, and senior agent experts.
For how long? Classes generally meet 10 times (eight on weeknights and two on Saturday) for three hours each session. Each session has around 20-30 students.
The curriculum? Fascinating!
- Practical problems involving evidence collection and preservation.
- FBI jurisdiction and congressional oversight.
- Structure and operation of FBI field offices and resident agencies.
- Fingerprint, forensic, technology, training, and other services
- Policies and issues: ethics, discipline, communications, civil rights, and criminal trends.
- Firearms training.
To find out more about Citizens’ Academies, contact your local field office.
Kids killing kids
Columbine High School
Some people hate remembering terrible events. Anniversary dates should be for birthdays, weddings, happy times.
Is this atrocious act worth acknowledging? Remembering? Reliving? More than half of all fatalities in schools are attributed to shooters. This was the worst single act of murder at a school in U.S. history.
Why would anyone want to recall this horror?
I think it might be worth appreciating some of lessons we have learned. First of all, we hopefully have learned not to jump to conclusions. In the early days after the massacre, rumors of retribution for bullying, gay and gothic affiliation, and hatred of all Christians, jocks, and African-Americans, flooded the newswires. However, lead investigator Kate Battan classified Harris and Klebold’s behavior as indiscriminate and random. “Sticking a gun underneath a table and firing — they didn’t even know who was under that table.” Investigators have concluded that this was an unmitigated and purely arbitrary act of hatred. Yet, no investigative reports address the real issue of “Why”. Random hatred comes from somewhere. Random murder has a reason. Some have justified this act by saying that Harris was homicidal and Klebold was suicidal – they wanted to “terrorize the entire nation” and be remembered for the “greatest mass murders in history.”
Secondly, this fortuitous act of violence has given us a heightened awareness of these types of attacks. Oregon, Red Lake, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Virginia Tech, Oikos University, and Chardon to name a few. We have examined and investigated and implemented policies for safer school environments. We have placed law enforcement inside schools, put bars on doors, and implemented lock down procedures. We have put into action systems of crisis management.
And yet, some things have not changed. Bullying, hazing, and hatred are just as prevalent, if not more so. We cannot change and/or legislate the way people feel, or control the things that they say and do – the Facebook threats, the cruel bathroom horseplay, the hateful texting messages.
When does this
And for others, the lessons learned were those of violence. Almost every time since that carnage that there has been an incidence of school shooting, there is a reference to Columbine. Earlier this year, a 16-year-old Utah boy showed up at Columbine High School and told the principal that he was doing a story for his school newspaper about Harris and Klebold. A month later, he was arrested on suspicion of planning to blow up their suburban Salt Lake City high school, steal a small plane and fly to safety.
One of the most recent, T.J. Lane, Chardon High School Shooting Suspect, allegedly shot randomly into a group of students, killing 3 students and injuring 3 others. Almost all early reports mentioned the similarities between Chardon and Columbine – demographics, student population.
And then there are those who “celebrate” the anniversary in other ways. At around 12:30 p.m Monday, April 16, 2012, Columbine High School was on a lockout – students were not allowed to leave the school and parents could not pick up their children for 3 hours. Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies were sent to “sweep” the school grounds in response to a bomb threat. According to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jacki Kelley, they get bomb threats and death threats ever year during the Columbine anniversary week.
Why do we recall these days of unprecedented, unexplained, and horrible violence against the youngest of innocents – our children?
The 13 who were killed 13 years ago
For me, I remember, lest I forget.
The Colorado State Flower
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