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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Young Authors Program

I have been a writer for as long as I have known how to form words on paper. I love words, and I always have.

While the formal educational system in this country leaves much to be desired, it cannot be denied that the credit for my early start in writing goes to the Princeton City School District in Southwestern Ohio.

The "Young Authors" program was instrumental in teaching certain basic fundamentals. Every year in elementary school we created a little book. I still have most of mine.

In first grade, I won 1st prize for my entry, a story about a leprechaun.

It was in putting these little books together that I learned my #1 fashion rule: DON'T MIX PATTERNS!!!

When we made the covers for our books we were given the opportunity to choose from various patterns and colors of contact paper for the inside and outside cover. This was when I learned to use a pattern for the outside and a solid color for the inner part of the cover. (Or vice versa) Two plain colors, while boring, were okay - but no plaid with polka dots. Today's fashion designers make me dizzy with their pattern mixing.

High School Young Authors contests were more diverse, with several categories. I entered poetry and won twice, 1st place one year and 2nd place another.

This competition, which sounds so simple, took many hours of school time and the assistance of numerous volunteers to complete. I've looked up my former school district and was delighted to find that they still continue the Young Authors Program to this day:


The English Department sponsors the Young Authors writing contests in an effort to recognize, to reward and to encourage the work of aspiring young writers. The Poetry contest is held in the fall, and The Short Story and Essay Contest is held in the spring. Each student's work is evaluated by the members of the English Department. First, second and third places are recognized with engraved plaques. Honorable mentions are recognized with a certificate of commendation."

(excerpted from this page)

I think more schools should have programs like this - financed by grassroots charitable support rather than waiting for the government to come "do something" which is never going to happen.

Anything that helps to develop confidence along with a healthy love of reading and writing should be considered too valuable to dismiss lightly. We made our books from paper sewed together by volunteers and contact paper which we brought in ourselves, for the most part. Cardboard formed the foundation for our covers, and there is certainly no shortage of second-hand cardboard around.

Be creative! That's the most important part of all. Put a little bit of YOU into it and you'll be surprised at what you get back out of it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I just realized I never posted this

As I suspected and elaborated upon in great length here, I am an Aspie, through and through... Autistic, on the Spectrum, however you want to put it. Don't mourn for me. I finally found what I needed to, and my life grows richer every day. Not that I was looking for anything, but I knew there was something MISSING...

It's hard to describe to you if you're not "one of us," but to grow up with the sensation that you're "from another planet" or "don't belong here" and never seem to know where you DO belong or fit in, and then find out as an adult that there are other people who feel that way too - and they just happen to be a lot like you in more ways than one... well... it's nothing short of astounding. It is certainly an earth-shaking revelation, to say the least.

For me and many others it is like a huge heavy burden has just been lifted from our shoulders and the feeling of kindred I find with other Spectrumites is what I was lacking in my attempts to "fit in" with "normal" people.

Okay, so I often sought out the quirkiest of others during my lifetime: but if they were undiagnosed, as I was, we were likely to hit a clashing point eventually and then recede from friendship in embarrassment.

NO MORE. I am not ashamed of nor sorry for who and what I am. I have done things in my lifetime that I should have probably apologized for, sometimes I knew that and sometimes I truly didn't. Either way: if you are a party whom I have EVER injured in ANY way, I beg your pardon. I've never meant to harm anyone.

The truth is, my memory is VERY selective, so I don't remember much that I don't need to know. I forgive and forget, perhaps because I've prayed to be able to do this. Holding grudges is a poison that I don't wish to allow to consume me, and I would hope that likewise you can forgive and forget whatever I may have done that upset you or hurt your feelings.

If it was physical, I want to hear from you privately - because I would like to make amends to those I can. Like Rhonda Dines from the neighborhood - girl, how's your head?

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Today I had the pleasure of attending my first Toastmasters meeting. It was held at Picadilly Cafeteria in Hollywood, as it is every Saturday morning at 8:30. Here is the link to their web page.

I had been considering Toastmasters for many years, ever since I met someone who was involved with them while I was selling Avon. She was a fellow Avon Representative and told me about the rules and basically how a meeting worked.

Over the years many times I considered it, but while it was a curiosity, it was not really a necessity. Recently that began to change.

I realize I'm going to be called upon to do some public speaking in the near future, and have plans to go into full-time public speaking and performance. It is with this in mind that I knew I must hone those skills to a razor-sharp edge if I hope to make the right kind of impression upon my listeners.

I'm reasonably adept at constructing material that is compelling and thought-provoking, but have not had a lot of success with persuasion. That is where Toastmasters comes in. They teach you to not only be a competent public speaker but to embrace leadership roles as well, guiding you every step of the way. It's a wonderful organization composed of people from every stratum of society.

Upon my arrival I had feared I would find a half-dozen people struggling to make this thing work. Imagine how pleasantly surprised I was then, to find a vibrant group of 25-30 members and a half dozen GUESTS alone! As a matter of fact, if the group continues to grow, they'll have to seek out a larger venue!

I was apprehensive at first, but knew that I must step out of my comfort zone and do this because it is a stepping stone on the path that I've accepted. More to come as this adventure unfolds...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Who's paying? YOU are.

I just heard another case of the State being sued and losing... in this case it's the thousands of people whose citrus trees were cut down during the attempt at controlling the citrus canker disease. Bottom line is... although the average Florida taxpayer had nothing to do with this fiasco, guess who gets to pay for it? Yep. The average Florida taxpayer.

Same thing in the case of a young man who was murdered in a public school bathroom. His parents won a multi million dollar award from the State: again, the average Florida taxpayer. The taxpayers didn't kill that kid, but they have to pay the price...

What can citizens do to prevent being raped like this? Good question. In the case of the murdered young man, volunteers in every public school bathroom MIGHT have prevented it - but would likely lead to allegations of perversion somewhere along the line.

Put cameras everywhere? That would have made no difference in the canker case.
Suggestions, anyone?

Thursday, May 01, 2008