Six Degrees of Separation

I’ve heard it said somewhere that everyone in the world is connected by six degrees of separation. I don’t know how true it is for every single person, but I’ve definitely experienced it today.

Flashback to our time on the island of St. Kitts, sometime at the end of last summer. A student at Ross posted on Facebook that his relative was in search of people to help collect sea glass for a TAPS (at that time I did not know what that was) event. I didn’t have much else to do and I had lots of sea glass already, so I attended his informational session. He explained the purpose of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which for those who don’t know, was created to help family members of servicemen and women who have died, regardless of the circumstances of the death or the relationship to the deceased. So anyone dealing with this loss can use the program’s services and attend the seminars and workshops.

Anyway, the 2014 national seminar theme was based on sea glass and the idea that something sharp and jagged can be made smooth and beautiful again over time – that crashing against the waves and trials of life can serve a beautiful purpose. So I went with a few groups of other Ross students and VIPs and we filled several gallon-sized bags with sea glass in many colors and sent them back to the United States with the young man. I never thought of it again.

Today, however, I received an article written by one of our English instructors here at UTM for the faculty newsletter – which I coordinate. This woman is one of my favorite teachers from undergrad. In her article, she told of how she and another English professor attended the 2015 TAPS grief seminar over the Memorial Day weekend and presented workshops on how to deal with grief using journaling and other artistic methods. It also happens that this instructor’s daughter plays a key role in the coordination of the events and the management of the program.

I asked this instructor if she had also attended the 2014 event and told the story of the sea glass.

This is what she sent back, courtesy of her daughter.

TAPS seaglass project

It reads “Depths of our Grief with Sea Glass.”

This is what they did with our sea glass. The leadership team, which includes my instructor’s daughter, painted the image and attached the sea glass pieces with museum putty. You can see the green, white and dark and light blue pieces attached within the waves. At the end of the seminar, each military relative in attendance was able to remove a piece to take with them to remind them of the beautiful things they can accomplish after their grief.

That sea glass came from the beaches of St. Kitts and Nevis. It was collected by Ross Veterinary Students. And I helped.

Six degrees of separation.

Resurrection, redemption and a false sense of security

Alright, so no fire alarm yet. It is now Wednesday of the week AFTER fire alarm testing week, and there has been no fire alarm yet. Not the day I was on vacation, not over the weekend, not during my lunch breaks. And yesterday the fire trucks were even parked outside in readiness.

They are toying with me.

Either that or the system just doesn’t work, which is a bad thing so I supposed I’m glad they are working on it.

Anyway, that’s the false sense of security part of this post.

The resurrection part is an old car I somewhat inherited from my great-grandmother. (She’s 103 years old and was still driving until earlier this year. I have longevity in my genes.) It was “dead like Fred” (as the Mister likes to say) earlier in March, after the big snow storms. This poor car has been pampered all its life, driven gently and kept in a warm garage since before I was born. Then it came to be with us, and from January to March it was driven daily, parked outside and left to freeze in more than 10 inches of snow. It was not happy.

So it turned in its ticket in mid-March. Clocked out. Gave up the ghost. Turned itself out to pasture. You get the picture.

The poor old thing refused to stay in gear and would not move unless abused into motion. We gave up on it and let the grass grow around the tires in the parking lot. A new transmission would cost more than the car is worth at this point. So there it sat for more than a month, until last week, when our landlord asked us to move it.

We fully expected to have to push it but, to the surprise of all assembled, it started! And it moved! And it went up and down the driveway a few times! Coughing and spewing smoke the whole time, but hey, IT LIVES!

So we took it to a mechanic last Friday and are hoping to hear back that it’s not a transmission problem and will be easier and cheaper to fix than we had first anticipated. Which would be FANTASTIC, since the Mister and I are currently juggling full-time jobs in opposite directions that start and end at different times. So one or the other of us is always either an hour early to work or has to wait around an hour after work, and everybody has to get up significantly earlier than necessary to make it happen. That’s the resurrection part of this post.

The redemption part is where Meera comes in (and yes, I know these are all out of order). She’s been “grounded” for several weeks now (has to stay in her kennel while we are gone) after chewing up several movies and video games and video game controllers earlier this month. She had an opportunity to redeem herself last week and failed, but yesterday I decided to try again. She had already put herself in her kennel before I left for work, and the door had drifted closed, but I decided not to latch it. I showed her that the door was in fact open and then I left. Later in the afternoon when Matthew got home, she was still in the kennel with the door still partially closed.

So either she climbed back into the kennel and closed the door to fool us, or she just never figured out that it wasn’t locked. Either way, we’re trying again today and if she can make it both morning and afternoon without tearing anything up she might earn a reprieve from her sentence.

I need one of those signs that you see in factories, “X number of days since a workplace accident,” except I need it to say “X number of days since Meera was home alone and ate something she shouldn’t have.”

So far we’re at one.

Any Second Now…

Sunday night I told the Mister, “I just want to warn you now, there is a pretty good chance I’m going to embarrass myself at work this week.”

He, understandably, gave me an odd look and said, “Umm… why?”

It’s the week after commencement. The photos from the award ceremonies and pinnings and pre-commencement meetings are pouring in and I’m trying to get everything sorted out to be written and sent to the proper places. But am I worried about that? Nope. It’s what I do and I’m rolling with it.

So what has me sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting at every moment for a bomb to go off?

It’s the week after commencement. Which also means it’s “let’s test all the fire alarm equipment” week.

So sometime this week…. at any moment… the fire alarms in this building are going to go off. Where is the fire alarm, you ask? Directly over my desk.

I’m staring at it right now. On the wall, less than six feet to my left. Just above my head. If I’m turned toward the main part of my desk, it’s directly in my line of sight.

And at any second… it’s going to go off.

I told the Mister, “When it does go off, I’m probably going to scream, drop whatever I am holding and fall out of my chair. And possibly wet myself.”

I just hope I’m not in mid-sip of my drink. Or stapling something. Because that could end badly.

So here I sit… working on commencement photos… glancing at the innocent little box in front of my desk… waiting. And every minute that passes without an eardrum-splitting scream is another minute closer to that fateful moment.

I’m pretty sure there will be another blog post after the fact, because I doubt my coworkers will let me live my reaction down anytime soon. I might need to bring a change of clothes to work tomorrow and stash them in a filing cabinet… just in case.

It wouldn’t be the worst idea ever.

I’m just really hoping it happens on Friday, because I won’t be here on Friday and my coworkers can enjoy the ordeal by themselves.

I also feel like there is an end-of-time, judgement-day religious analogy in here somewhere…