NaNoWriMo – Periodic Updates!

NaNoWriMoI’ve decided that one post with periodic updates makes more sense from here forward in this NaNoWriMo adventure.  It seems as though I might actually complete this thing!

11/21/2017 – Am I Really Going to Do This? (Word Count 40,298)

It looks like I might finish NaNoWriMo! I’ve heard that some people try to complete challenge by November 20. When I learned that, I didn’t feel like such a smarty pants. But, I’m still excited that I have a good chance of being one of the 30,000 (out of 400,000) who are “winners.”

I’m very pleased with the story I’m writing. The characters are changing. They will learn something by the end. The topic is timely, and I believe I’m treating it in a manner that is real and fair.

That being said, I started to get bogged down yesterday. I had been so concerned in the beginning about having too much to say, hitting 50,000 words, and then being only half way through the story. Yesterday, I realized that I’m just about at the end of the novel and wasn’t even at 40,000 words yet. After freaking out, I realized I could write the end of the story and then fill in with details that I had omitted earlier on. Then this morning, I came up with a scene that is going to make my main character have a breakthrough. Ah, yes, a moment of truth. Then, I’ll finish the story and complete the challenge.

People ask me, “Then what? Do people read your story?” I do know that I have to copy and paste the entire novel into a box on the NaNoWriMo site, but I don’t think anything happens with it from there. It’s up to me to revise the first draft, and if I think it’s good enough, try to get an agent to take me on as a client.

I do think it’s good enough.

Only 9,702 words to go! Wish me luck!

11/14/2017 – Getting there! (Word Count 28,163)

Last week was rough. Our poor pup was gravely ill, and I spent three nights sleeping on the floor with her. I managed to write a little most days, but it wasn’t easy. Now that she has passed, I wish I hadn’t taken the time to write at all. Or, maybe the writing actually helped me get through that tough time. There were plenty of words mixed in with tears. I definitely wrote a lot in the past two days. It was very therapeutic.

Tomorrow will be the halfway point of NaNoWriMo, and this would mean that to be on track, a participant should have written 25,000 words. I’ve written 28,163, but Thanksgiving is coming up, and I have several important meetings scheduled. This means I have to stay ahead of the game in order to make sure I have 50,000 words at midnight on November 30.

Wish me luck!

11/8/2017 – I’m Still Here! (Word Count 18,167)

I must admit I became a little bit worried over the weekend, even though I had written more than the target over the first three days, anticipating planned activities. I wrote nothing on Saturday (day 4), but I managed to write a healthy amount in the car on the way to our daughter’s house on Sunday (day 5). This gave me about an hour in the backseat while my husband played the role of Uber driver in the front.

On Monday (day 6), I revised in the car on the way home. And by yesterday, Tuesday (day 7), I was back on schedule. Today is Wednesday (day 8), and my word count is 18,167. The target for day 8, according to NaNoWriMo, is 13,333, so I’m still ahead of the game.

So far, I’ve found that NaNoWriMo keeps me from spending hours researching a minute detail that probably wouldn’t make that much of a difference to the overall plot. It doesn’t give me an excuse to write slop though. Wish me luck!

Ann Silverthorn

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Nora At Rest

IMG_2248On Thursday, November 9, 2017, we said a final goodbye to Nora. She was almost nine years old and died of kidney failure after living with Cushing’s Disease and blindness for more than two years. Even with these health challenges, her quality of life was quite good until she became sick a few weeks ago and declined like a roller-coaster car. We had hoped to let her pass at home, but when it became clear that she was suffering, we took her to the vet and stayed with her while he and the staff helped her peacefully along her way.

It was just over six years ago that Nutmeg and Nora came to live with us. They had been adopted by a husband and wife, and when the wife died, the husband could no longer care for them. He asked their veterinarian to euthanize them, but the vet refused, and a friend suggested that he place them with a rescue organization. We discovered them on Petfinder.com. They had been living in a kennel for two months and had forgotten any training they may have had. Our first few months with them were certainly a challenge.

Nutmeg and Nora (r) Photo Credit: Eric Smyklo

Nutmeg and Nora (r)
Photo Credit: Eric Smyklo

Nutmeg and Nora never stopped being a challenge, but we loved them instantly and will love them forever. We had fallen into a nice rhythm when in the spring of 2015, Nora started acting differently. She was having accidents in the house, was panting, her belly was bloated, and she was restless. It turned out that she had a serious bladder infection, but worse than that, she had Cushing’s Disease.

Cushing’s Disease is caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland or an adrenal gland. The net result is that too many hormones being produced and this makes the dog anxious, while creating many other symptoms. Cushing’s can be managed with medication and requires periodic bloodwork to determine if the medication needs to be adjusted. Dogs can live out their normal lifespan with the disease. That’s what we hoped for our pup.

Then, just a couple of months after her diagnosis, Nora went blind. After doing lots of research, I discovered that blind dogs can manage very well, and that sight is not their most-important sense. They can “see” with their ears and noses.

In the more than two years after Nora lost her sight, she adapted very well. It was amazing how she could zig zag her way through the house, traveling inside and outside, with just a few mishaps here and there. We would direct her with our voices when she headed toward a wall or a piece of furniture. This would usually occur when she had just awoken or was tired.

A month or so ago, Nora’s legs seemed weak. It was subtle. After observing her and trying to determine which leg was giving her trouble, I took her to the vet. It didn’t seem that there was a problem with the legs themselves, so we did some bloodwork and found that many of her values were off. Another batch of blood was analyzed to see if something was going on with her kidneys. We also did an ACTH stim test, to see if her Cushing’s medicine needed to be adjusted.

IMG_2565

The word came back that the Cushing’s wasn’t the issue. Nora was in end-stage kidney failure. Even with a dire prognosis, we had no idea we’d lose her within two weeks’ time. She started getting sick to her stomach and was given something for nausea. She was prescribed something for her kidneys, which wouldn’t cure her disease, but would make her feel better. Unfortunately, that medicine made her more nauseous and had to be stopped. She then started with lower GI symptoms, and we talked with the veterinarian and staff about signs that a decision might need to be made instead of letting her pass at home.

When Nora started with lower GI issues, the poor thing would have to go out every two hours or so. She’d squat over and over with not much happening except the evidence of bleeding. She’d hop back in the door, hesitate a moment, and then go back outside for more. It must have been exhausting for her to repeat this so many times a day. It was heartbreaking for us to watch.

On Monday, November 6, we took her back to the vet. She wasn’t eating or drinking very much. She was given meds for nausea again and an antibiotic for the lower GI symptoms. She had already started refusing her Cushing’s meds, so it was hard to get her to take the nausea medicine. I never did get her to take the antibiotic.

Over the next three days, we were sometimes able to get her to drink water, but she was not hungry. She tried to eat the hamburger/rice mixture the vet recommended, but after one small meal, she refused that, too. She became uncomfortable because she wasn’t taking her Cushing’s meds, and one time, I dissolved one pill in water and squirted it into her mouth with an eye dropper.

I slept on the floor in the living room with her three nights in a row, thinking/hoping each would be her last, so that we could be spared the ultimate decision. I asked Happy, Scout, Tina, and Easy to meet her, but they didn’t come. I asked her previous owner to meet her, but she didn’t come, either. I wanted to let her pass at home, the way my cat had done in my arms when I was a child.

Nora became so weak that it was difficult for her to walk anymore. Her body was tense and she had started to shiver. She refused water as if it were an insult.

On Thursday, November 9, finally called the vet’s office and told them I thought it might be time to let her go. I gave her a warm bath, which I think gave her comfort. She laid on the bathroom floor while I ran the warm blow dryer over her soft fur.

A few hours later at the animal hospital, her veterinarian reviewed Nora’s symptoms and prognosis with my husband and me, and we all agreed that helping her along her way was the best thing to do for her.

I’ve been present for three other pets’ euthanasia. One was a hamster with a huge tumor whom I couldn’t watch suffer anymore. One was a dog who went peacefully, and one dog not so peacefully. I was afraid for Nora, and I had wanted her to die in the night. The vet said everyone hopes that, but it rarely happens.

Nora slipped away so gracefully. Our vet’s procedure involves starting an IV and administering a strong sedative first. This is like when you go under for surgery. All awareness stops. When he was certain that she was completely sedated, he administered the second drug through the IV. Her passing was so subtle that I didn’t even realize it was over until he told us she was gone.

It was so hard letting her go, but to keep her with us would have caused her more suffering.

When we got home, Nutmeg was restless and barking. She and Nora had never been the best of friends and had some pretty nasty conflicts over the years, but they went through a lot together before we got them, and they expected each other to be near. That first night, Nutmeg’s attitude seemed to be one of resentment and she isolated herself from us. I think she realized this wasn’t one of Nora’s absences due to her Cushing’s, and that she was not coming back.

It’s easy to say that we should remember the good times. I’ve said that myself. I think it’s easier to do as time passes. I still have heartache over the previous pets we’ve lost, but I’m better able to remember the good times and not dwell so much on the end.

So, when I see one set of food bowls instead of two, when only four sets of paws follow me down the hall instead of eight, when only one voice howls, I’ll try to remember the good times. Maybe I’ll think of how she loved to play in the snow or how she hiked with us on every one of the trails in the Let’s Move Outside project. I will remember that we still have Nutmeg and she is healthy.

We miss Nora so much, and our hearts are breaking. Jim and I are so honored to have known and cared for her, and we know that we will cross the rainbow bridge together someday.

Summer 2016 Photo Credit: Misty O'Connor

Summer 2016
Photo Credit: Misty O’Connor

“For one hour of keen joy out-does pain.” W.E. Dimorier

Ann Silverthorn

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Posted in Daily Life, Family, Nutmeg and Nora

NaNoWriMo – Day Three!

NaNoWriMoI decided it would probably be better to do these NaNoWriMo updates at the end of the day, rather than the beginning. It’s too easy to get sidetracked before the writing has started.

While these updates may be helpful for someone who’s thinking about doing NaNoWriMo, or informative for anyone who is kind enough to keep good thoughts for me during the month, I hope they will also hold me accountable.

I might not update every day, because there will be some days when nothing happens. For instance, this weekend is busy, hence my furor in word count for the past three days.

On day two, I logged a word count of 2,577, bringing me to 9,306. Today, I logged 2,460 words for a grand total of 11,766. This means I’ve reached more than 20 percent of my 30-day goal in just three days. How do you like that for fancy math from a person who majored in English?

I really like using the NaNoWriMo site, because I can log my words there and it keeps track of the number of words written each day. The dashboard displays how many more words remain until my goal is reached, too.

I also like the word-sprint feature. You enter a period of time, (I chose 60 minutes) and then you see how many words you can add before the timer goes off. It’s encouraging because it counts down the minutes, too. This really keeps me focused.

So far, so good. Everything seems to be making sense in the story, and the characters are filling out.

Thanks for reading this. Comments welcome below!

Word Count: 11,766

Ann Silverthorn

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NaNoWriMo 2017 – Day Two!

NaNoWriMoYesterday marked a great start to NaNoWriMo. I started with 3,874 words and ended with 6,549. That’s a word count for the day of 2,675. My goal was 2,000. It was amazing how easily the words were dripping from my fingers.

This exercise is good for an English major who constantly feels the need to measure up to the great writers she studied. It takes away the constant editing and doubt.

While I don’t want the finished product to be a series of “asdfjkl;” expressions, I don’t feel the need for it to be a masterpiece, or even great. It simply needs to be the best I can do in a 30-day period.

What am I writing? All I can say right now is that the story springboards from a chance encounter in an airport and my fictionalizing what happened afterward! The amazing coincidence of striking up a conversation with a person on the same connecting flight to Philadelphia, with both of us going in different directions afterward, and then reuniting with that person on the return trip is truly stranger than fiction.

Well, I’m off to start day two. Wish me luck!

Word Count: 6,549

Ann Silverthorn

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NaNoWriMo 2017 – Day One!

NaNoWriMoAfter many years of having a profile on the NaNoWriMo site, conditions are finally right for me to participate in the 50,000-word novel challenge during the month of November. NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization that sponsors the challenge in which almost 400,000 people participate and only around 34,000 complete.

I hope that posting this will make me more accountable and help me become one of the “winners.”

Around the world, municipal liaisons coordinate in-person writing events and social activities. There’s a group in my area, and there is already a dinner planned–and many in-person writing events, too. I still haven’t wrapped my head around getting together with a group of people at a library or coffee shop and writing, and I think I’d do better on my own. But, I might be wrong.

I’m unlike many people participating in that I don’t work outside the home, and I don’t have any major projects going on right now, so I will have more time to write than most. I’m not sure how people with full-time jobs do it, but I understand there are many words being written by them when they’re supposed to be sleeping.

I have my plot, my characters, a rough outline, and the first chapter written. This means I have a jumpstart of 3,874 words, so to make it fair, I guess I should try to have 53,874 words, right? I’ll be happy if I make it to 50,000.

Wish me luck!

Word Count: 3,874

Ann Silverthorn

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An Evening in Fredonia With Guitarist Pat Donohue

From Pat Donohue's press page.

I stood in the lobby of the 1891 Fredonia Opera House, in upstate New York, passing the time by looking at my phone while my husband sought out our will-call tickets. We were there to see Pat Donohue, Grammy-winning guitarist.

From Pat Donohue's press page.

From Pat Donohue’s press page.

Pat Donohue is well known for the almost-two decades he spent as a guitarist for the Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band on Minnesota Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. Now he tours the country giving guitar workshops and concerts.

I looked up from my phone to see a man with tousled white hair approach the table I was near. He arranged stacks of Pat Donohue CDs on the tablecloth, and when he finished, he said hello and walked back into the theater. Why did that man look so familiar?

Most people who know me have heard me say that I never forget a face. For instance, I’m convinced my husband and I had a chance meeting on a street corner when we were pre-adolescents.

It turns out that the reason the CD man looked so familiar was because, well, you guessed it already, I’m sure. Yes, it was Pat Donohue himself, and the last time I had seen him was 13 years prior, the last time he played at the Fredonia Opera House.

Immediately, I wished I had been friendlier to him. Said something witty. Made conversation. Asked for an autograph.

Donohue’s time on stage went by much too quickly for my husband and me. It was a show with just one man and his guitar. My husband is a talented guitarist, himself, so we sat in the front row to appreciate Donohue’s fast-flying fingers up and down the fretboard and across the body of his instrument. He had no set list and played whatever came to mind. The effect was as if he had pulled out his guitar at a family gathering. In between the musical numbers, he told witty and amusing stories.

In addition to being an expert fingerpicker, Donohue’s an accomplished song writer and has even written some parodies. Most amusing is Would You Like to Play the Guitar?, which is set to the tune of “Would You Like to Swing on a Star?” It provides a true view of a musician’s less-than-glamorous life.

In the program insert, I read that Donohue also appeared in the 2006 movie version of A Prairie Home Companion, so on the way home, I added the title to the top of my Netflix DVD.com queue. Within a few days, we were watching the movie in our living room. This is what I like about the DVD service. There are many more titles to choose from than you’ll find in streaming Netflix. Whenever I want to check out a movie, I consult the streaming first (instant gratification), and if it’s not there, I’ll usually find it on the DVD service.

The A Prairie Home Companion screenplay was written by Garrison Keillor, and the plot takes us inside the workings of the fictional last broadcast of the famous radio show. It stars Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, and many, many other big names, including a young and sweet Lindsay Lohan, before her “career interruption,” as Wikipedia puts it.

As we were watching the film, we frequently spotted Pat Donohue among the musicians on stage. We saw much more of him in the musical extras that are included on the DVD. In fact, the extra content is quite extensive on this rental, even for one produced before such content became restricted. It features many actor interviews and creative insights.

Pat Donohue’s performance at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House was part of the Folk in Fredonia Music Series, which has been sponsored by the Gilman Family for nearly two decades. We hope to see him again soon.

Ann Silverthorn

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Disclaimer: I partner with Netflix DVD.com, which gives me free access to movies. If you sign up with my referral link, I may receive a referral reward.

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7 Things I Learned After Breaking My Dominant Wrist

Smile: compliments of dilaudid.

The day I broke my wrist. Smile: compliments of dilaudid

A few months ago, I fell while running and broke my dominant wrist. The radius was in many pieces, but it somehow managed to stay intact. My surgeon decided to watch and wait, but four weeks later, even I could see on the X-ray that the bone was splitting lengthwise. It was time for surgery. This meant that four weeks after the injury, the plate and screws installed in my arm set me back to a healing stage of “minus one.”

Now that I’m nearly back to normal and have made it past my “lost summer,” I’ve learned some things from breaking my dominant wrist, and I’d like to share seven of them with you:

  1. Pain meds were necessary AND evil. In the recovery room, I rated my pain at a 10. The nurse said that a 10 would feel like I was having my hand sawed off. Okay, a nine, I said, not knowing that the next day, my wrist would feel like someone was taking a steak knife to it. The doctor increased the dosage and frequency of my oxycodone (I had requested this over Vicodin, which had done little for me after the break). The opiate was necessary and made the pain tolerable, but each time I was coming off a dose, I was thrown into a combination of agitation and hopelessness (my poor husband).

    Two weeks after the break, I paid out-of-pocket for a fiberglass cast, which came off two weeks later for surgery.

    Two weeks after the break, I paid out-of-pocket for a fiberglass cast, which came off two weeks later for surgery.

  2. It took twice as long to get half as much done. I’ve always been the type of person to try to get as much done as possible in the least amount of time. During my recovery, I had to resign myself to the fact that if I was going to try to get anything done (taking a shower or working one-handed on the computer), it was going to take twice as long to make half the progress I’d have made otherwise.

    That's the good view of my wrist. You don't want to see the other one.

    That’s the good view of my wrist. You don’t want to see the other one.

  3. There are plenty of Internet resources for one-handed living. Unlike when I broke the other wrist in 2003, the Internet has many hacks for doing tasks with one hand, including some dedicated to operating when your dominant arm is out of commission. I aggregated what I found in a blog post.IMG_2181
  4. I couldn’t do it alone. Well, maybe YOU could, but I never could have done it alone. My husband, who is my hero, became more so during my recuperation. He cooked, made lunches, fetched ice for my swelling, took care of the dogs, and so much more. He even showed extreme patience when I complained about how he did something, letting me know that he was doing A LOT already. And I had to agree.
  5. It was easy to get depressed. In addition to the opiate side effects, realizing that my body isn’t infallible, and being abruptly taken out of my active routine, messed with my mind. I went through periods of wondering if it was all worthwhile and doubting that I would ever be the same. Refer to #1. Then, I would feel dumb, because a broken wrist is not the worst thing that can happen to a person.
  6. Physical therapy was  worthwhile. My surgeon warned me that my range of motion would never be the same. Things were so bad that a week after surgery, instead of putting me in a cast, he sent me down the hall to physical therapy where I was given a removable splint and exercises for fingers that couldn’t even bend. Over an eight-week period, I not only regained the use of my fingers, but my wrist’s range of motion is nearly back to normal.
I never got a second cast after surgery, because of swelling, and fingers that wouldn't work.

I never got a second cast after surgery, because of swelling, and fingers that wouldn’t work.

  1. In the end, I am more aware. For me, the “taking twice as long to do half as much” has made me appreciate each task when I’m doing it. Now, when I’m throwing a load of laundry in the washer, I’m aware of the look of the washer, the sound it makes when I press the buttons, and the whoosh of the water as it enters the machine. It seems that I have a new appreciation for each moment when I’m in it, rather than living in the one that hasn’t come yet.

So, there you have it. Seven things I learned from breaking my dominant wrist. When I think back over those months of recovery, it almost seems like another person went through the experience. I guess that’s quite accurate, because I certainly didn’t feel like myself at the time.

If you’ve broken a bone, or sustained any other sort of activity-limiting injury, I hope these seven things will help you.

Have you ever had a similar experience? Tell us about it in the comments below.

By the end of summer, we celebrated my birthday, I was almost finished with PT, and just about back to normal. That's a genuine smile.

At the end of summer, we celebrated my birthday, I was almost finished with PT, and just about back to normal. That’s a genuine smile.

Ann Silverthorn

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Comparing Today’s Technology to 2001: A Space Odyssey

Comparing today’s technology with the 1968 movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey, reveals interesting parallels and contrasts. In some ways, almost two decades after the new millennium began, we have surpassed what the film makers imagined, but in others, we have quite a way to go.

2001 DVD

Rent this movie at: http://bit.ly/dvdanns

Our cellular technology strongly contrasts communication methods displayed in the movie. When Heywood Floyd phones home from space, he’s able to see his daughter on a video screen. His wife is out, though, so Floyd says he’ll call back the next day. Obviously, Mrs. Floyd doesn’t carry a cell phone, and it’s doubtful such technology existed in the minds of the story’s creators, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke. After, all, even cordless phones were still years away. In 1968, they imagined video chat, but not mobile communication.

Continuing with video technology, there is one scene in the movie that seemed quite fantastical in 1968. When Floyd travels in a spacecraft for a meeting on the moon, TV screens play movies in the back of the passengers’ headrests. Those video screens are, of course, ubiquitous on commercial aircraft today.

We Have More-Advanced Security, Photography, and Entertainment

High-tech security in the movie included voiceprint recognition to enter a secure area. Today, voice recognition is widely used, as with Google Home, which can recognize the voices of six different users. We’ve also expanded electronic identity verification with the use of fingerprint and facial recognition.

https://goo.gl/images/QBnbm6

https://goo.gl/images/QBnbm6

Handheld photography in Kubrick’s flick is primitive compared to today’s technology, which has been largely integrated with our mobile communication. In the film, the astronaut photographer, responsible for capturing images of the monolith discovered on the moon, used a camera the size of a milk carton, which had to be rotated after every shot. https://goo.gl/images/QBnbm6

In gaming, the computer-generated chess board in the movie resembled two-dimensional version popular in the 1980s. In 1968, the idea of playing a game with a computer was quite novel, but by today’s standards, the film’s depiction was quite rudimentary, compared to contemporary 3-D interactive role-playing gaming.

Computers Today Have Nothing on HAL

Although the technology in everyday use today is ahead of what the movie predicted, the real-life development of a “conscious entity” computer like HAL hasn’t quite become mainstream. Advances are rapidly occurring in artificial intelligence, and computers have demonstrated the ability to learn, but they have miles to go before they can intentionally go off script.

As for long-distance space travel, the movie astronauts could visit locales lightyears away, thanks to suspended animation. Placing today’s space travelers in such a state has not yet been perfected, and we’re only just planning one-way trips to Mars.

In the 1960s, the new millennium seemed light-years away, and in the 40 years before 2001: A Space Odyssey was made, technological advances had been massive, from Kitty-Hawk to the moon landing. Expectations for future advances in space travel were likely exponential.

Instead of using resources to explore space, more dollars and brain power have been poured into developing faster, smaller, and more affordable technology. Perhaps once a plateau has been reached in that realm, more attention will be paid to worlds beyond our own. Fifty years after its making, 2001: A Space Odyssey still entertains us, in addition to making us wonder about just how far technology will go.

Disclaimer: I am a member of Netflix’s DVD.com Director’s program, which gives me free access to movies. If you sign up with my referral link, I may receive a referral reward.

Ann Silverthorn

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A National-Anthem Fable

Once upon a time, there was a country called, “Independence.” The citizens of Independence prided themselves on their patriotism, having an appreciation for the long-ago revolution that had liberated them from oppression. The citizens of Independence enjoyed many freedoms, including where to work, where to live, whom to marry, what to say, etc.

Source: Calisphere  Date of access: September 26, 2017  Permalink: https://calisphere.org/item/84255ac1ece5142f1d928240f16a8bbe/

Source: Calisphere
Date of access: September 26, 2017
Permalink: https://calisphere.org/item/84255ac1ece5142f1d928240f16a8bbe/

Various sporting events often brought the citizens of Independence together, and across the nation, fans packed stadiums and arenas to capacity throughout the year. Every game or match was preceded by the Independence national anthem, which was lively, stirring, and very easy to sing. The men took off their hats, and everyone stood with their hands over their hearts. Well, almost everyone. It was a free country after all.

Realistically, it’s impossible for everyone to be happy about everything, and sometimes, certain citizens of Independence just didn’t feel right putting their hands over their hearts and singing. Now, remember, the national anthem of Independence was rousing and uplifting, so unless a person was gravely unhappy with the country, they’d sing anyhow, even if they couldn’t sing very well. The crowd’s voices were so enthusiastic and thunderous, that even the most tone deaf fit right in.

One day, at a championship game, when everyone got up to sing the national anthem of Independence, one of the players on the field bent down on one knee. Not many people noticed, that is, until an image of the gesture began to appear on the nightly news and on social media. There was an uproar, but many citizens supported the player, because he was protesting an injustice, and he was free to do so.

Within weeks, other players knelt, too. Some were supporting the original matter, but others protested additional issues, such as unfair taxation of the rich, inadequate healthcare, and the electoral college, which had allowed a president to be elected, even though he had not won the popular vote.

Soon, many fans, supporting the players of their favorite teams, tried to kneel, too, but this was difficult in cramped arena seating. So, they began to stand with their backs to the field.

Still other fans, realizing that there were aspects of the government they didn’t like joined in. Some felt strongly about social issues, others wanted more, or less, gun control, and still others did not like the fact that the government allowed corporations to set up headquarters on foreign soil to avoid paying their share of taxes. The list of grievances went on and on.

Soon, rather than almost bringing down the concrete walls of the various venues around the country from the enthusiastic singing of the Independence national anthem, the decibel measurements plunged. Eventually, so many people had opted out, that the ones who still wanted to sing felt self-conscious, and they fell silent, too.

Eventually, at events that had traditionally featured the national anthem, the only person singing was the one whom had been selected for the honor. Then, it became more and more difficult to find vocalists willing to perform to the backs of fans.

A year after the original protest, at the most-popular championship event in the nation, the one that drew the largest crowd, the most television viewers, the most-expensive commercial breaks, and the highest quantity of chicken wings consumed in the living rooms of Independence, something happened—or rather—didn’t.

The crowd cheered wildly as the teams were announced, and the players ran out onto the field.

The coin was tossed.

And play began.

The crowd, which had been poised to turn their backs, was stunned. Where was the singer? Why wasn’t some poor soul performing the national anthem?

The sound of bewildered murmuring substituted the usual cheers and jeers, as the game progressed through its first segment, and each of the teams scored.

But then, sprinkled throughout the thousands of fans in the arena, voices were heard, alone, in pairs, and in small groups. Others joined, and more and more were added, as if someone had started the “wave.” It was the Independence national anthem.

As the song came to an end, someone started it again, and now, even more people joined in. By the third time through, the players on the field had stopped in place, and they were singing, too. On the fourth go-round, it seemed like everyone was singing. Tears flowed down cheeks, hugs were given and received, men slapped each other on the backs, couples kissed, and children jumped up and down.

For days, accounts of the phenomenon played over and over again on the national and global news. Cell phone videos flooded social media. One, which went viral, began with a panoramic view of the crowd and then rested on the face of a young woman, who looked to be of college age, as she belted the last line of the Independence national anthem.

With moist eyes, the young woman looked into the lens and said, “I guess you were right, Ari. The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.”

 

Ann Silverthorn

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Book Review: College Transfer Guide

The Ultimate Guide to College TransferA few years ago, I met Susan Henninger at the Chautauqua Writers’ Festival. Since then, she and I have loosely kept in touch. She helped me with some key research for my writing project, and I connected her with a source for hers. This is one of the many valuable benefits of conferences in any field.

When Susan said she was co-writing a book with education-consultant Lucia Tyler about college transfers, I mentioned that my daughter might be willing to share her experience. My daughter agreed, and I connected them.

The book, The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer: From Surviving to Thriving, came out recently, and I purchased a copy for myself. I wish it had been written years ago. This book is valuable not just for anyone contemplating transferring colleges. It can help families avoid having to go through this in the first place.

Here are seven takeaways from The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer.

  1. When young adults go away to college, parents are often confused about how to act with them. Some are helicopter parents, and some are totally hands off. Finding a balance between both extremes is key. A student shouldn’t feel totally alone.
  2. Once a student goes off to college, her privacy is protected by FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). If she is having a crisis, this prevents the college from informing the parents. I was surprised to learn that there are FERPA waivers, so that parents are not the last to know if the student has a serious problem. Students may view the waiver as invasive, but it could be a literal life saver for them.
  3. Once it becomes clear that a college is not working for a student, he will certainly have to face his parents and friends. The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer provides tips and advice about how to handle both.
  4. There are many moving parts regarding transferring colleges. What happens to financial aid? Scholarships? How many credits will transfer? Using this guide, there isn’t much that could fall through the cracks.
  5. Doing one’s homework before choosing a college is a no brainer, and it’s the same if a transfer becomes necessary. The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer provides tips for college visits and many sample questions to ask admissions counselors. There’s also a comprehensive pro/con list that can be used to evaluate each prospect.
  6. Tyler and Henninger’s guide provides two handy timelines for college transfer based on spring or fall semesters. This is good for managing all the tasks required without becoming too overwhelmed in what might be an already-stressful situation.
  7. At the end of The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer is a section containing resources for college transfer, including academic, transfer credits, community colleges, gap years, and international student considerations.

As I mentioned earlier, I wish The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer had been written years ago. It would have saved my family a lot of worry and unrest. Our daughter is a successful professional now, but when we were going through these changes, I worried about her future. Tyler and Henninger deftly guide both students and parents through the transfer process and provide tools so families can come out on the other side—speaking to each other.

I believe that The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer should be part of the resource collection in every high-school guidance office. It also belongs in the lending libraries of college admission and counseling offices. You’ll probably want a copy of your own, though.

Ann Silverthorn

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