Last month I got rear-ended. Bummer.
It was a beautiful day, I had my family in the car with the top down; we had just come from signing the papers on our new house and were euphoric at the idea of building our “forever home.” The euphoria prevailed even as we hurried from the builder’s sales office back toward home to get my #1 son ready for baseball practice. As we were short on time, we decided to run through Chick Fil A to grab him some dinner before practice. As I idled next to oncoming traffic in the strip center, waiting to turn left into Chick Fil A, I saw a big pickup turning out of the grocery store parking area to get in line behind me. The driver of the truck must have taken her eyes off the road for a moment, because BAM! she hit me.
After the initial shock passed, we issued a collective groan at the interruption to our idyllic day. Mr #1 son fretted about whether his Chick Fil A was still on the table; fast food is a rarity in our lives, and that boy has a major soft spot for all junk foods. I handed him some cash and he walked across the parking lot to procure his feast while we exchanged information with the lady in the truck.
Her first reaction upon getting out of her truck was to announce that I didn’t have my turn signal on. I shut her down speedy quick: I most certainly did have my turn signal on (which she would know had she not taken her eyes off the road!), and it makes no matter because the person who hits another car from behind is at fault. Period. She piped down after that assertion and switched gears from combative to contrite.
She produced an insurance card and we copied down the details. As she pulled away from the scene of the crime, we took down her license plate number, just in case. While I certainly like to believe the best in people, even total strangers who ram the back of my car in a parking lot, you never know.
The “you never know” part took a starring role in this suburban drama. When I contacted her insurance company, I received the dreaded news: her policy is no longer valid. She’s uninsured.
It gets better: I of course have uninsured motorists coverage on my policy, but there’s a $250 deductible, and it rubbed me the wrong way, big time, to have to pay money to cover someone else’s damage. Add to that the fact that we just bought a house, I mean literally, and the idea of spending money to cover some irresponsible bad driver just made me mad. My insurance agent, who is a rock star, assured me that we would find her and make this right.
You may have heard this about me — I have a whacked-out sense of justice. It irks me to no end when things don’t work the way they should; add to my list of annoyances: irresponsible people who drive around in a big-ass truck without insurance.
Did I mention that my rock-star insurance agent is named Mike Hammer? For real. In 1994 we chose him out of the phone book, way back when phone books were relevant, because of his name. All these years later, we likely could have found a better deal, maybe from that cute little gecko, but Mike has always given us top-notch service and I believe in loyalty (again, whacked-out sense of justice). I’m so glad we never strayed from Mike Hammer, because he put on his private-eye hat and found the lady who hit my car. With no valid insurance policy, her insurance company couldn’t track her down, and her license plate number didn’t come up in the system either. I’m not going to accuse her of having stolen plates, but in addition to letting her insurance lag, she must have let her car registration lag as well.
He called her up and told her that she must have mistakenly given me the wrong policy, because the information she provided is invalid. She assured him that she does indeed have insurance, and when he told her he’d gladly hold on while she went to get the real insurance card, she said she didn’t have it handy. He said no worries, I’ll hang on while you go out to the garage and get the card out of your glovebox. Cue the radio silence.
No need to hold on, Mike, because there is no valid card in the glovebox. Miss Missy in her big-ass truck has no insurance. Did she knowingly provide me with bogus information at the scene? Again, I’d like to believe the best in people, but she’s making it pretty tough.
She assured Mike Hammer that she would call him back with the correct policy information, and he said good deal, that’s a relief because my client sustained some significant damage and needs to get her car fixed.
I know y’all will be shocked to learn that Miss Missy has yet to call Mike Hammer with that information.
I did a little sleuthing myself and found out where Miss Missy lives. I’m sorely tempted to show up on her doorstep and demand restitution, but considering we do have the right to concealed handguns in the Great State of Texas, I’m going to refrain.
Instead, I will go get an estimate on the damage to my car, call Mike Hammer with the amount, and let him call her again to ask when we can expect the cashier’s check for the damage.
Wouldn’t it just be so much easier if everyone followed the rules — the law, in this case — and carried valid auto insurance?
But apparently the rules — and the law — do not apply to Miss Missy, who has no problem driving around whacking other cars in her big-ass truck. Perhaps that’s a good thing, though: she should have plenty of money to pay for my car repair since she’s not spending one penny on car insurance or registration.
The Belly is going on location. I’m heading to NYC tomorrow with my bestie, the Fabulous Miss Y. She invited me to be her Valentine in the Big City, and we’ll try to refrain from meeting on top of the Empire State Building like they do in those cheesy rom-coms. We’ll see a show, eat some great food, shop, and peep into the store windows. I’ve reserved a spot to tour the 9/11 Memorial, which seems like a great idea and came highly recommended by my sherpa Amy, but as it becomes more of a reality, I’m anxious. While it’s important to never forget and to honor the innocent victims, I’m nervous about confronting the emotions contained within that event. I envision myself gritting my teeth and looking with one eye squeezed shut, then rushing out of there while thinking happy thoughts.
I’m also anxious about the weather. I am not a cold-weather girl. My blood is thinned from living in South Texas, and temps below 50 make me nervous. The weather forecast for NYC this weekend? Cold. Really, really cold. Maybe even some snow. Luckily we dodged the wrath of Nemo. The idea of that much snow gives me the vapors. I’ve got a wool coat, purchased in North Carolina and used maybe once since returning to the great state of Texas. I have a hat that’s cute more than warm: kinda crocheted-looking with decorative gaps in between stitches. I have a pair of hot pink gloves, which I will be shocked if I manage to keep together in a pair all weekend long. I have several scarves, again more decorative than useful. I’ve never fancied spending money on cold-weather gear; there literally are some “winters” in which we need nothing more than a windbreaker. But now I’m being called up to the big leagues, where real weather exists.
I’m also rather uneducated about this. I get the concept of layers. But what I’m not sure of is the logistics. I’ll get all bundled up in layers, maybe even a sweater under my coat, and cover any remaining exposed skin with my flimsy, holey hat, gloves, and scarf, and hit the streets. But what do I do with all that clobber once I arrive at my destination? I don’t envision myself strolling the MOMA all bundled up, but what becomes of the cold-weather gear once I’m toasty warm and out of the elements? Do y’all walk around holding big heaps of protective clothing? Do you carry a small bag in which to stuff your coat? I know the trick of stashing hat & gloves in the coat pockets and shoving the scarf into a coat sleeve, but then what? Shopping while holding a heaping coat stuffed with accessories seems like a drag. And when I sit down in a restaurant, do I fold my coat up and put it on an empty chair? Hanging it on the back of my chair seems gauche and rife with opportunity for a passing waiter to spill something. Keeping up with all that winter gear seems complicated enough; wearing a coat that smells of spilled soup is too much.
I’m a little out of my element here.
When I wrote this blog the other day, there were two children on the victims list of the Sandy Hook massacre for whom photos and personal details had not been released. It bothered me that my list was incomplete. Many people commented that they just couldn’t watch the news or listen to any coverage of this tragedy, and I get that. It’s curious to me that our society seems torn between a perverse curiosity into the intimate details of strangers’ lives (the prevalence of celebrity worship and the relentless paparazzi come to mind), and an instinctive urge to turn a blind eye to the searing pain that comes from seeing — really seeing — the hard-core bad stuff out there. We have an instinctive impulse to protect ourselves from stuff that hurts. We rubberneck as we pass traffic accidents, hoping to glimpse the smashed cars, yet we shrink away from the gory details of what really happened inside Sandy Hook Elementary School as if being uninformed can keep the tragedy at arm’s length. There’s no judgment here, just my perception.
While my first instinct was to avoid the news and shut out any mention of Sandy Hook, it was equally important to me to learn something about each victim. As if my “knowing” them, in snippets and from afar, could connect me to the people suffering the most wrenching loss imaginable. As if learning a couple of facts or insights into who they were would allow me to share in the grief and somehow comfort those affected from 1,700 miles away. It doesn’t make much sense, but there it is. That is why I wanted to feature each victim individually and to uncover a little bit of personal info about them. I didn’t know any of the victims personally, nor do I know anyone in Newtown, CT, but as a parent — as a member of this human race — I felt compelled to showcase each of the victims.
Both photos come from the Facebook page In Loving Memory of Sandy Hook Elementary Victims.
A blogger I greatly admire and whose words always ring true for me wrote this about the tragedy at Sandy Hook:
“The only way for those left behind to survive something like this is when the rawness begins to subside, to adapt rather than crumble – in no way an easy thing to do. The unfortunate reality is that the 27 innocent lives cannot be brought back and the tragedy cannot be erased. As a community, a collective of humans, we need to absorb what happened and adjust our lives around it. To harp on the tragedy and let it define us will do no good. Rather, we need to define what our lives will be in spite of this tragedy. We need to sharpen our focus, reassess our priorities and make an even more concerted effort to love and let ourselves be loved, as that is what makes the world function. Let there be so much kindness that there is no room for hate.”
I love her idea of sharpening our focus. And her proclamation for us to “let there be so much kindness that there is no room for hate” is the best idea I’ve heard in a long time.
My list is now complete.
On September 18, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered the eulogy at the funeral for three little girls — Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, and Cynthia Diane Wesley — who were killed by a bomb as they attended Sunday school at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. The fourth victim, Carole Robertson, was remembered in a separate service.
Robert Chambliss, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, used 122 sticks of dynamite to send a racially motivated message and end the lives of four innocent girls. The bombing became a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement, and the eulogy seems eerily prescient as the first victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre are laid to rest.
While Dr King’s speech addressed racism and segregation, the ideas he expressed in the eulogy apply to the bloodshed at Sandy Hook. As I contemplated the start of many funerals in Newtown, CT, I was compelled to re-read Dr King’s words and am stunned at how much they apply to our current-day tragedy. Yesterday, Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto were buried, and today funerals were held for Jessica Rekos and James Mattioli. As I try to wrap my head around the idea of tiny caskets holding 6-year-old children being lowered into the ground, I imagine Dr King shaking his head at the fact that while great strides have been made in racial equality, innocent children continue to die at the hands of disturbed men with weapons. Nearly 50 years have passed since Dr King spoke these words, and yet here we are again mourning the senseless loss of unoffending, innocent, and beautiful children.
“This afternoon we gather in the quiet of this sanctuary to pay our last tribute of respect to these beautiful children of God. They entered the stage of history just a few years ago, and in the brief years that they were privileged to act on this mortal stage, they played their parts exceedingly well. Now the curtain falls; they move through the exit; the drama of their earthly life comes to a close. They are now committed back to that eternity from which they came.
These children—unoffending, innocent, and beautiful—were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.
And yet they died nobly. They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death.
They have something to say to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing northern Republicans. They say to each of us … that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream.
They didn’t live long lives, but they lived meaningful lives. Their lives were distressingly small in quantity, but glowingly large in quality.”
Twenty precious children and 7 adults gunned down by a man with access to incredibly powerful weaponry defies logic. My brain understands the words involved in this story, but I struggle to process them.
The angel wings hanging from the elementary school sign crush me. The irony of the “Visitors Welcome” addendum to the school sign hurts my heart.
President Obama visited Newtown, Connecticut, last night and spoke to the grieving townspeople. It was his fourth time during his tenure to speak to a town ripped apart by gun violence. He came as our country’s Chief Executive, but also — and perhaps more importantly — as a father. He finished writing his speech on Air Force One as he made his approach into this small, close-knit Connecticut town. One of the things he said in his speech was “I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts.”
True, Mr President, so true.
Mere words are virtually powerless in the face of such an unimaginable tragedy, and yet we try.
Newtown Chief Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver had the unthinkably horrific job of performing autopsies on the shooting victims, the majority of whom were just 6 and 7 years old.
Carver did not mince words about the abject horror of the wounds suffered by the gunman’s victims. He said that all of the victims were hit multiple times, some as many as 11 times; 2 children were shot at “extremely close range.” The victims suffered “devastating” wounds by a weapon that delivers bullets “designed in such a fashion (that) the energy is deposited in the tissue so the bullets stay in.” He added that he knows of no one who hunts with such a weapon because “the bullets are so fast that they break up and spray the targets with bits of lead.” The Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle unleashed on these sweet babies and the school employees is known for its easy handling and deadly accuracy.
Carver, whose wife is an infectious disease doctor, says he’s learned from her to look at issues in an “epidemiological sense.” I’ve spent a fair amount of time with a team of infectious disease doctors, thanks to a nasty post-mastectomy infection, so I completely understand what he means by this. He went on to say this: ”Firearms are like any other pathogen,” he said. “The more bacteria in the water supply the more people get diarrhea. The more weapons in a society the more people get shot.”
Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance said Sunday that the shooter used “multiple” 30-round rifle magazines in the attack. Scott Knight, former chairman of the International Chiefs of Police Firearms Committee, says of the Bushmaster, “The way it looks, the way it handles — it screams assault weapon.” He added that the gun’s practical application is little more than “a combat weapon.” The Bushmaster rifle was also used by the D.C.-area sniper who killed 10 people in 2002.
While I don’t want to lose sight of the tragedy by going off on a gun-control tangent, the issue can hardly be ignored. The issue is rife with complications, but at some point public safety must prevail, regardless of politics. With an estimated 300 million guns in the hands of U.S. citizens, it’s easy to say it’s too late, but the innocent children of Sandy Hook deserve better. While I personally support the wealth of freedoms we in this country enjoy, at some point we need to get real about the freedom to bear arms. I seriously doubt that the framers of the U.S. Constitution could have in their wildest dreams imagined modern-day weaponry and the undeniably mentally unstable people who use those weapons to mow down innocent people at gas stations, in movie theaters, and in schools and universities.
I imagine that our founding fathers would scoff at the people who cling to the Second Amendment as rationale for owning assault weapons. Read the exact text of the Second Amendment and explain to me how it applies to assault weapons. Please. “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Much has been written in the last few days about that “well-regulated Militia,” and people continue to screech about their need to keep guns in order to ensure their personal safety. However, we are hardly at risk of being attacked by indigenous peoples upon whose territory we’ve infringed, nor are we forming a new government or breaking free of Great Britain. The attacks we are vulnerable to nowadays have nothing to do with a militia and everything to do with assault rifles and mental illness.
The way I interpret it, the point of the Second Amendment is to ensure security, not erode it. Allowing guns of all types to fall into the hands of anyone with money to buy them or happenstance of being in the presence of them, as was the case of the Newtown shooter, hardly seems to speak to security. While gun laws vary from state to state, the law in Connecticut prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from buying or carrying a gun. Yet the guy who opened fire on Sandy Hook Elementary School was 20 years old. The guns belonged to his mother, who is also now dead at the hands of this young man, and while her guns were purchased legally and registered, they were used to kill innocent people. How is it that her right to bear arms supersedes 20 children’s right to not be gunned down in school? How is it that the Second Amendment trumps the lives of the principal, school counselor, and teachers who died trying to shield and save their pupils? Why must our lives be marginalized by a “right” to protect oneself from a threat that may never materialize?
Unlike the words spoken by our President last night, my mere words cannot even begin to scratch the surface of what I want to say, and what needs to be said. So I will let the images do the talking.
A wreath containing the names of the victims reminds of us the proximity of this horrific tragedy to Christmas. I imagine presents for those 20 children, perhaps already wrapped and placed under the family’s tree, or perhaps hiding in the truck of Dad’s car or in the cool dark of the attic, waiting to be unveiled after the kids are asleep on Christmas Eve.
A woman grieves under a wall of candles, flowers, and stuffed animals while holiday lights twinkle in the nearby trees. To juxtapose the holiday festivities and the enormous loss of life is almost too much to bear.
Eric Mueller, a high school art teacher, created a memorial made from wooden angels. I wonder if he assigned the different hair colors based on photos of the victims.
Hordes of items placed at a memorial site. The legos in the front are simply heartbreaking.
A man played his violin as people approached the memorial site, his hand-lettered sign reading: “Our tears are on your shoulders, and are hands are in yours.”
Someone lovingly created a teddy-bear memorial, with each bear noting the name and age of the victims, then wrapped in plastic to sustain the wintry weather.
A young boy walks past a line of Christmas trees decorated for the victims.
The sight of brave and burly firefighters kneeling bare-headed and respectfully in front of the school sign is powerful, and one can only imagine what was going through the heads of these first-responders as they grappled with the unspeakable evil that permeated their town — the town they devote their lives to keeping safe.
Across town, firefighters draped a fire truck in black.
Tracy Kirk lit a candle for each victim.
People around the world shared our sorrow. Here, people in Bangalore, India, pay their respects.
A woman lays flowers at a memorial site on Copacabana Beach in Rio.
And the victims.
Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung, 47, was described by ABC News as “a 5-foot-2-inch raging bull lifesaver.” She confronted the gunman head-on in her attempt to stop him.
School psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, also hurled herself at the gunman in an attempt to keep her students safe. She and Hochsprung are believed to be the first victims at the school.
First-grade teacher Victoria Soto, 27, is described as a hero who died shielding her students from the gunman.
Anne Marie Murphy, 52, was a special education teacher at Sandy Hook who is described as artistic, fun-loving, witty, and hardworking.
Rachel D’Avino, 29, was a behavioral therapist who worked with autistic kids. Her fiancée was planning to propose to her on Christmas Eve.
Lauren Rousseau, 30, had just been hired at Sandy Hook last month. She was substituting for a teacher out on maternity leave.
And the children.
Charlotte Bacon, 6, begged her mother to let her wear the new dress and pink boots that were supposed to be for Christmas. Her mother acquiesced, and it was the last outfit her young daughter would ever pick out for herself. Charlotte’s family described her thus: ”She was going to go some places in this world” “This little girl could light up the room for anyone.”
Daniel Barden, 7, was a fireball who had recently lost his two front teeth. The youngest of three children, his family described him as a constant source of laughter and joy.
Olivia Engel, 6, was the teacher’s pet, the line leader. Her uncle said that on Friday she was simply excited to go to school and return home and make a gingerbread house. ”Her only crime,” he said, “is being a wiggly, smiley 6-year-old.”
Josephine Gay, 7, just celebrated her birthday last Tuesday, according to the Hartford Courant. In a Wall Street Journal article, she is said to have loved riding her bike and setting up a lemonade stand in her neighborhood. Her favorite color was purple.
Dylan Hockley, 6, loved video games, jumping on a trampoline, watching movies and eating garlic bread. He had dimples, blue eyes and “the most mischievous little grin,” according to his grandmother. His family moved to Connecticut from England and chose Newtown because its schools has exemplary academic ratings.
Madeleine Hsu, 6. No photo available. A neighbor told the Wall Street Journal that the little girl was known as Maddy and always wore flowery dresses.
Catherine Hubbard, 6, was the daughter of Jennifer and Matthew Hubbard. The family released a statement thanking everyone for their love and prayers.
Chase Kowalski, 7, completed his first triathlon last year. He also loved baseball, Cub Scouts, and the kids’ workshops at Home Depot. His parents said ”We are thankful to the Lord for giving us seven years with our beautiful loving son. It is with heavy hearts that we return him.”
Jesse Lewis, 6, had hot chocolate with his favorite breakfast sandwich — sausage, egg and cheese — at the neighborhood deli before going to school Friday morning, according to the Wall Street Journal. He loved animals and was learning to ride a horse.
Ana Marquez-Green, 6, is described as “beautiful and vibrant.” Her grandmother told the Associated Press that the family moved to Connecticut just two months ago and were drawn to Sandy Hook’s reputation.
James Mattioli, 6, is described by a neighbor as having “a 1,000-watt smile.”
Grace McDonnell, 7, was the ultimate girly-girl who loved playing dress-up, wearing jewelry, and all things pink.
Emilie Parker, 6, was the oldest of 3 girls. Her family also recently moved to Newtown where her dad works as a physician’s assistant. He says his oldest daughter was”kind and sunny-natured, the type of person who could just light up a room.” She was, he said, “an incredible person, and I am so blessed to be her dad.”
Jack Pinto, 6, loved football, loved the NY Giants, and loved Victor Cruz most of all. Cruz spoke to Jack’s family who said they were considering burying their son in a #80 jersey to reflect his love of Cruz. The wide receiver wrote a message to Jack on his cleats.
Noah Pozner, 6, ”had a huge heart and he was so much fun, a little bit rambunctious, lots of spirit,” according to his aunt. ”He was a gorgeous, gorgeous boy and he could really get what he wanted just by batting those long eyelashes and looking at you with those big blue eyes. You really couldn’t say no to him,” she said. Noah leaves behind a twin sister.
Caroline Previdi, 6, was reportedly always smiling and earned the nickname “Silly Caroline.” A neighbor remembers how “Silly Caroline” intervened when her son was nervous about starting kindergarten and sat with him on the bus to help calm his nerves.
Jessica Rekos, 6, loved anything relating to horses. She’d asked Santa for a new cowgirl hat and boots this year, and her parents had promised to get her a horse when she turned 10. Her mom’s words: ”Jessica was our first born. She started our family, and she was our rock,” her family said in a statement. “She had an answer for everything, she didn’t miss a trick, and she outsmarted us every time. We called her our little CEO for the way she carefully thought out and planned everything. We cannot imagine our life without her.”
Avielle Richman, 6, also loved horses, and her riding instructor said she would giggle every time her horse trotted.
Benjamin Wheeler, 6, is described as an “irrepressibly bright and spirited boy whose love of fun and excitement at the wonders of life and the world could rarely be contained.” Ben was a fan of the Beatles. He loved lighthouses and the No. 7 train to Sunnyside, Queens.
Allison Wyatt, 6. No photo, no information available.
Lasting words from Nelson Mandela:
After stressing about the big bill and nearly coming to blows with the patient “advocate” provided by my insurance company, I found this in my mailbox.
Note the statement balance, aka amount I owe.
Thank you to my sweet surgeon for saying “bah humbug” to the out-of-network status my insurance company conferred upon his surgical center. I love that man.
And many thanks to my sweet readers who expressed umbrage on my behalf.
Yes, our little piggie has been hard at work.
My kids’ elementary school has a fundraiser every year, like most schools. Instead of selling wrapping paper or cookie dough, our school puts on a Walk-a-Thon. It’s a big event that raises anywhere from $40K to $50K-plus. Yes, you read that right: many thousands of dollars. Money comes in via pledges gathered by the kids for walking laps inside the school (it’s much more festive than it sounds); a live auction with prizes such as Principal for the Day, in which a kid gets to be the boss of the school for one day, and a silly string war with the counselor; a silent auction with items ranging from a homemade meal delivered to your doorstep to a pair of handmade earrings; food; carnival games; and novelty sales.
Last year our amazing Walk-a-Thon chairlady Amy came up with a brilliant idea for another element for fundraising: Kiss the Pig. At that point, we didn’t yet own our little piggie, so Amy rented a piglet from a petting zoo. That may have turned out be the longest 24 hours of her life: that poor piglet had not yet been weaned from its mama and bawled like the baby it was.
This year, Amy enlisted the help of our sweet Piper, and she rocked the house. One day last week Piper headed up to school to hang out on the stage during each lunch period and get the kids all lathered up about the Walk-a-Thon. The idea was simple: each teacher and office staff member would have a collection jar (with a custom-designed label, of course) and for the week before the fundraiser, kids would drop pocket change into the jar of the teacher they wanted to see kiss Piper at the Walk-a-Thon.
Piper was a good little piggie during the lunch periods (we were there from 10:45 until 1:00). She milled around onstage, stood on a table for better viewing, ate her snacks, and visited with teachers. Some teachers loved, loved, loved her, and others kept a safe distance. Kids being kids, they picked up on which teachers were leery of Piper and promptly filled those jars.
The day of the Walk-a-Thon found me at school to count the money in the jars. I expected to be there for a couple of hours, knowing the task would be made easier by the digital coin counter our thoughtful PTA treasurer provided. Silly, silly me. There was SO much money to count, I was there from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., without a break! One teacher alone brought in more than $60–all in change.
The big winners were announced live, at the fundraiser, and the crowd was whipped into a frenzy. The kids were chanting, “Kiss the pig!” and screaming, parents were straining to catch a glimpse of the pig on the stage, and cameras were flashing. We have a big school — nearly 800 students and close to 70 teachers & staff — so the crowd was Texas-sized. Piper took her rock-star experience in stride, calmly munching on cucumber slices and wasabi peas as the crowd adored her. In keeping with the luau theme of the fundraiser, she sported a hibiscus leash and a lei around her neck.
When it came time for the kissing, the teachers came on stage one at a time and got up close and personal with Piper. Sadly, it went by so fast I didn’t get a picture of each teacher. By the time I got my camera ready, we’d blasted through the kindergarten, first and second grade teachers puckering up with Piper. Here’s the third grade winner giving Piper a big smooch.
The fifth grade teacher was the most freaked out, by far — which is why the kids filled her jar with every coin they could shake from their piggie banks and gather from the couch cushions.
Come on down, Mrs D! You’re the next contestant on Kiss the Pig!
She’s working up the nerve to move in for the kiss…
and Piper’s work was done.
Nice work, Piper.
The Hubs sent me a link to this story about the big news in the breast cancer world — the cancer-sensing bra. The First Warning Systems bra allegedly can detect a tumor in a breast years before said tumor would be found by more conventional screening methods. The “smart bra” is said to accurately screen abnormalities in breast tissue.
I saw my favorite breast surgeon today for my 6-month checkup, and had every intention of asking her what she thinks about this, but we got distracted talking about her puppy and our little piggie, and the possibility of implants for me, and the cruel injustice of the hormonal insanity that plagues a breast cancer warrior, and her upcoming Pretty in Pink event.
The First Warning Systems bra has been in development for the last 20 years, and while it sounds like a great idea, I sure wish they’d come up with a better name. As is, it sounds like a surface-to-air missile or something similarly militaristic and scary.
Of course, breast cancer is militaristic and scary, so touche.
The sports-bra-looking contraption contains sensors that supposedly can detect small changes in the temperature in breast tissue. Cancer-causing cells emit more heat than normal, non-combative cells, and this bra is said to identify the changes in body temperature that may indicate that tumors are growing. The maker of this “smart bra” says that in clinical trials, the bra correctly identified 92 percent of tumors, compared to the 70 percent of tumors found in baseline mammograms, and the bra can identify those tumors as much as 6 years before they’d show up on a mammogram. If all goes according to plan, the bras will be available for sale in Europe next year and the Unites States in 2014 with a retail price of approximately $1,000.00.
The company says that the bra provides women with a better form of breast self-exam when it’s worn for the duration of the testing period (although I’ve not found any references to how long or how often it needs to be worn or if the cost would be covered by insurance). Once the sensors do their sensing, the data is collected and submitted online, presumably by the woman wearing the bra, and then analyzed by “sophisticated algorithms.” I certainly wouldn’t want a naive algorithm to analyze my data.
Why am I not jumping up and down at this news, when it sounds quite promising?
Maybe because it’s Pinktober and I’m exhausted by all things breast-related.
Maybe because even if the First Warning Systems turns out to revolutionize breast cancer screening, it’s too late for me and many of my friends, whose lives have already been turned upside down by the dreaded disease, never to be fully righted again.
Maybe because after years of the “war on cancer” and “fighting for a cure,” progress has been slim to none and I don’t want to get my hopes up.
Maybe because there’s no mention in any of the literature about whether the “smart bra” is smart enough to figure out a way to fill in the divots caused by radiation, to smooth out scars left by mastectomies and reconstruction, to even out an asymmetrical rack, or to camouflage a less-than idea decolletage.
Or maybe because the “smart bra” doesn’t come in pink.
The front-page of The Houston Chronicle today has some very exciting news. The headline reads “$3 billion aimed at tough cancers.”
This got my attention.
The famed MD Anderson right here in my lovely city is going after 8 of the deadliest, most difficult cancers, and has most definitely put its money where its mouth is. By sending $3 bil straight to the front lines, Anderson isn’t playing around. The 8 cancers on Anderson’s radar are lung cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, melanoma, Acute lyeloid leukemia (AML), Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), Myelodysplastic syndrome, and triple-negative breast cancer. The newspaper article has this handy graphic that highlights the most pressing deets about the 8 cancers under seige.
The latter really got my attention, as all BC news does. What is triple-negative breast cancer, you might ask? It’s a particularly wily form of the dreaded disease that displays negative properties for estrogen- and progesteron reception as well as HER2 reception. Read a more detailed definition here,but suffice to say that this type of BC doesn’t respond to hormones, making it harder to treat.
This news is so hopeful in a landscape of cancer. A veritable ray of sunshine, the Moon Shots program has tons of potential and will surely make the kind of inroads to the “war of cancer” that President Nixon declared way back in 1971 and that has yet to come to fruition. The so-called war is almost as old as I am, and yet we see newly diagnosed cases and deaths from cancer in such shockingly high numbers. Bring on the Moon Shots program!
I have a lot more to say about this program, and will return to it after I finish my to-do list left to me by my favorite girl, who has been hard at work planning a first birthday party for her little piggie. Yes, you read that right: a party for a pig.
I’ll leave you with a quote about the Moon Shots program that has me smiling big this morning:
“In almost every disease, we have an example of something that works. Once you have a first step, it’s easier to take the second, the third.” – Gordon Mills, head of systems biology, MD Anderson
Here’s to giant steps being made toward these 8 deadly cancers. Three cheers for MDA!