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Regis Tucci and Sam Kilman. Photo courtesy of GJ Mole.

Photo of Regis Tucci and Sam Kilman courtesy of GJ Mole.

A week ago I heard the sad news that one of my favorite professors, Regis Tucci, had passed away in his home of natural causes. Whenever I hear someone has passed from natural causes, I automatically think it was an elderly person. What death from natural causes actually means is that there are no known answers as to why a person has passed, they just did.
After the initial shock and lack of answers, I began to wonder how to possibly grieve. I’ve survived the deaths of many around me; however, grieving for a person is just as specialized as the individual whom has passed away.
I lit an incense and began to cry; but, then it occurred to me that the best way to grieve is to remember the individual, in this case Professor Tucci, as he was when he was alive rather than how he died. I could almost hear his voice telling me that.

As a communications professor, Tucci taught that one should take a stand in life. If a student couldn’t take a stand on anything and had to ask what to write, the worst suggestion a student could possibly get from Tucci was to write an essay about “what’s more important, the message or the messenger?” Which in my opinion, are both equally important; thus, the cursed paper would turn into a catch-22 if one gave it too much thought.

Tucci would offer his take on a subject as encouragement if one was willing to take a stand, he had the ability to intelligently perceive different angles to try and infuse the students argument; thus, producing strong opinions even among the most unsure of students.

Tucci was a very nice, caring and methodical man. I will never forget the day I ran into him near the library when I was on my way to his Reality TV class. “Let’s walk together,” he said. He noticed I was walking in the grass and stated “we should always walk on the sidewalks.” So, we walked to class together on the sidewalk. That day in class, I was sideswiped when he stated that he believed God intended for mankind to sleep at least until noon. Tucci was the source of many smiles for many years, and I am fortunate enough to claim a few of those smiles for myself, what a gift it is to have known him.

My heartfelt sympathy goes to those he left behind, relatives, and his fiancee whom Tucci was crazy about.

It’s unfortunate I will not make it to his memorial service; however, I do not need to attend to know that the world has lost a great man. I do hope to read more blogs written in his honor.

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ok“How do you see gender?” he asked me (or something similar). At that moment, I felt very much put on the spot with his response to learning I had worked as a dancer for a brief time in my past. I recall thinking to myself, “How in the hell do I end up in these conversations?”
Although I never got the opportunity to answer fully as the topic had switched to my initial baggage which never helped with my view of the opposite sex, I’m not typically one to generalize an entire gender despite my irretrievable missing pieces; therefore, I’m not one who’ll plow through relationships and treat men terribly based upon the actions of a few men.
I feel that in my adult life, I’ve done all that I can to try and embrace myself as a sensual being and I’m all for sexually liberated women; however, I believe there’s more to life than sex. I don’t understand why so many people are obsessively preoccupied with something so common. To me, it’s a little crazy that the sex industry is so successful; yet, humanitarian organizations and the education system hang on by the fingernails.
Although I appreciated the money, men who regularly attend gentleman’s clubs, especially when they have wives waiting for them at home, are of a certain “type”– WHICH IS NOT MY TYPE. Who is? A man with hobbies who can keep busy, a man who has books– a man who is a bit more like myself. When I worked as a dancer, the money was far better than flipping burgers and it was great exercise for a newly widowed mother of two with limited skills. I don’t have to defend myself for buying diapers and making my time away from my children count for more money (besides, I love to dance and I love music). If I could’ve made the same amount of money creating art, gardening, or doing something else I love to do, I would’ve done that as well. In conclusion, it isn’t how I see gender so much as it’s how I see individuals and observe the way they treat others. Are you being nice?

In 1980, it was the worst Thanksgiving ever. My youngest sister, Melissa had been sick and was taken to the hospital due to an uncontrollable fever.
I remember on that day, my other sister, Kara and I were drawing and coloring out Thanksgiving pictures for Melissa with the idea that it was temporary and our little sister would get better.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. For the first time it was okay for Kara and I to go into our grandparent’s room.  Kara and I sat on our grandparent’s bed and our mother closed the door. Our mother just stood there, silently trying to gain her composure. Kara and I just sat, it was awkward. Our mother could barely speak without choking. Then, she gathered us in her arms and quietly broke the news to us; she said, ” Melissa won’t be coming home.” At first, I thought it was that she wouldn’t be having Thanksgiving with us; but, our mother further explained that Melissa had passed away.
Our mother was understandably tearful, Kara and I were in shock.  When we left the room,  the crayons didn’t seem so vibrant anymore. We were seated at the table where the turkey was dead. The potatoes were dead. Everything was dead. And there we were, expected to carry on in life while consuming dead things. Happy Thanksgiving.

The Tom's of Maine Logo

The Tom’s of Maine Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was early in the spring of 1999 when I realized my Tom’s of Maine deodorant wasn’t only expensive; but, it also wasn’t working very well. That was a time in my life when I began to understand the importance of making environmentally friendly decisions as well as have a better consciousnesses of whatever I chose to slather on my body.
In my exploration of better deodorant  products that would last longer as well as have antibacterial properties, I ran across a generic salt crystal in which I paid about $8.
Excited to try my newly acquired product, I rushed home and had a shower. I shaved my underarms as I normally would do, unscrewed the lid to the salt crystal, and proceeded to rub my pit in the same manner as I had done with other products in the past. Of course, I screamed at the dry salt crystal on my tender, raw skin and thought to myself “Is the salt crystal supposed to hurt THIS bad?”

Crystal Stick

Crystal Stick (Photo credit: greggoconnell)

Unfortunately, the packaging for the salt crystal didn’t have any instructions, it just touted how wonderful and responsible it was to use it!
A few days had passed and I was disappointed; however, I’m not one to give up easily. I thought I’d just have to get used to it while I winced at every application. I consulted my best friend and through her snickers and chuckles, she informed me that I was supposed to WET the salt crystal then apply it instead! I felt like such an idiot! Wetting the salt crystal helped a lot. I don’t use the salt crystal anymore; however, I was very relieved when Tom’s of Maine began to market their products with baking soda, it works so much better! Needless to say, I won’t likely buy a salt crystal for my underarms in the future. My point in posting this story is to hopefully encourage others to try using the salt crystal as a deodorant. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

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My sister traveled to Europe for her 40th birthday and brought back several photographs and souvenirs. I truly appreciate the fact that I was on her mind while she was among such a wondrous environment. I’m very grateful to have such a loving, caring sister. She works very hard and deserved every second of that trip! Additionally, the photos were just awesome and I found myself asking how the environment smelled, what the temperature was like, how was the humidity, etc. (you know, questions about all of the other senses that can’t be duplicated).

Venice

Venice (Photo credit: Arian Zwegers)

Some of her photos were mini-videos. We’re so lucky to live in an age when communication is so easily accomplished with the advances of camera phones! My sister played one of the videos; I admired the crystal clear, high resolution motion picture of her riding with her husband at the back of a boat in Venice. Her amazed expressions were childlike as the boat floated along canals dividing intricate buildings connected by bridges which were centuries old. I was reminded of what a foreign exchange student said once in a college class a few years ago when one of my fellow students had inquired about culture shock, she simply stated “One of the biggest adjustments for me is the fact that you don’t have buildings in America as historical as we have in France and all of Europe.”

 As I lay in bed that night, it occurred to me that perhaps America is missing something, and it isn’t even our fault.  We don’t have the intricate, centuries old buildings they have in Europe, or any of the appreciation. What is the importance of these structures? I believe they keep us in touch with our humanity. One can look at a historical structure of Europe as a tangible echo erected by the hands of some civilization who trod the very same ground ages ago. Here in America, we have centuries and an ocean between ourselves and our humanity.

The values between Europe and America differ greatly; for example, Notre Dame Cathedral still stands centuries after its groundbreaking during the year 1163. Here in Ogden, Utah where I live, the distinctive Mormon Temple which was dedicated in 1972 was recently demolished mere decades after it was built due to the structure “being architecturally out of style.” Here in America, it’s out with the old, in with the new and capitalism reigns supreme. If something breaks, we throw it away and buy another.

As my sister continued with her fascinating presentation of photographs, she came upon photos of her nephew being trolleyed away on a gurney after dislocating his knee while exploring Paris. Sadly, the young man had to be sent back home to the United States and his European trip was cut short; however, the entire medical expense was only around 100 American dollars. There was no waiting for ages to be seen by a medical professional and the whole process was very smooth.

It’s pretty sad when one can get injured on foreign soil and be treated far better in that country than if the injury happened while a citizen in the United States. We are a country of misguided consumerists, who push our elderly off into nursing homes and forget about them. We cannot wrap our minds around the thought of actually caring for our family members in their times of need, let alone caring for our fellow citizens; instead, we try our hardest to sidestep any sort of responsibility, from one human to another.

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English: Union Station in Ogden, Utah.

English: Union Station in Ogden, Utah. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, I volunteered at the Ogden Union Station. It was decided that the task which I could best serve the community was to wash the glass. I was grateful I was told to take my time, as it was understood that the contents of the building and cases were of interesting historical value. If you know Ogden’s Union Station,  you know about the museums contained within the building. Of these displays, the one that stood out to me the most was The John M. Browning Firearms Museum.

If you’ve ever walked into this museum, you’d feel as though you were among large, glass dominoes, all alit to reveal the precious, encased firearms within.

As I was obviously putting my most excellent glass washing skills to use, I couldn’t help but realize that such a collection was worth more than a life. I stared down the barrel of an old pistol, wondering who may have owned the weapon, who may have been injured by such an instrument, and who wasn’t so lucky to survive seeing the very same sight.

I began to question how a single man was able to generate so much revenue just by patenting and crafting better killing machines. The name of the game is to outdo the competition; but, where could this possibly lead?

English: John M. Browning's son Lt. Val Browni...

As I took a small breather, the man in the museum told me a love story  about Val Browning and his wife, Ann Chaffin Browning. Apparently, Ann liked to shoot clay pigeons and wanted to have a more ladylike shotgun, so her husband lovingly crafted one for her. Although the sentiment was very sweet, I often wonder why humanity values something such as a gun.

I admire the creative ingenuity to make human life more simple; however, guns are an art form that gives one power to end a life in an instant without even requiring the need to think about it first– just pull the trigger.

In conclusion, I wonder how society can place so much more value on an object such as a gun, yet undervalue artists who work  diligently to get those who participate in their works to face humanity, to value life, to think, and to actually care.

Even though I washed every inch of glass in that room, I’m not sure how clear patrons of The John M. Browning Firearms Museum will be able to view the contents inside.

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It was early September 2007 when I drove to the bank while contemplating my divorce. My intent was  to open my own checking account in order to begin separating the funds so I could start saving money for a new place to live. My home of nine years was no longer my home anymore.

After parking, I exited my car and was ready to start my new life when I heard the most terrified, desperate cry. I looked down to see a skinny, little black kitten, whose pupils were so large that the color of his eyes couldn’t be determined. I bent down to pick him up; however, he was so scared that he ran and hid in a nearby bush. There was a very busy intersection uncomfortably close by,  and my main concern was that this kitten would be killed.

For that moment, my looming life changes meant nothing, even though for months my thoughts were overwhelmingly occupied with how disappointed and bitter I had felt over my failed marriage. Wearing my favorite dress, I got down on my hands and knees, crawled through spiderwebs to the kitten, then I scruffed the little guy. I carried him to my car, sat down, and closed the door. Realizing that I hadn’t accomplished what I had intended to, and utterly puzzled as to what had just happened, I scratched the kitten’s  chin and said to him, “Oh great, what am I going to do with you?”

I then moved through the drive up teller and while I was cashing my check, the kitten perched himself upon my shoulder, rubbed himself on my head  while purring loudly in my ear. I asked the teller,  “Would you like a kitten?”

But, the teller met me with an answer I neither expected nor understood; she simply stated,  “I hate cats.”

I drove the kitten home and have had him ever since. This kitten has grown to be a very important companion for me. I look forward to coming home after my long work days. No matter how my day has been he is always very warm, welcoming, and filled with love.  I must say I’m thankful that he came into my life and rescued me.

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