Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16th Challenge

Hi, it’s Christina – 

I never explained yesterday why I was watching Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. Every year our school system assigns summer reading projects to the kids. This year the entire high school has to read Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. OK fine, no big deal. I have a B&N gift card with a few bucks left on it. I figure I could use it up to defray the cost a little. So I go into B&N to get the book, thinking I’ll only have to pay about $5 which I’m rather happy about. I ask for the book. They hand me this tiny little hard cover book, and I say thank you. Then I turn the book over and nearly have a heart attack. $21.99! Are they out of their tree? No, there is no paperback version. The electronic version is the same price.

$21.99 + tax for a 4”X5”X1” book. I want to know what the school board was smoking when they assigned such an expensive book. Money is crazy tight for us since I have been unemployed for 16 months, but we are still in much better shape than many families in our area. (Mind you the school board all live in McMansions.) Yes, The Last Lecture is an amazing story, but there are thousands of amazing stories you could get for under $10!

I left B&N without the book and with a head full of steam. There was no way I was paying that type of money for a summer reading book and I was outraged the school board was yet again being so irresponsible (see old FB posts about them unjustly suspending a teacher earlier this year). I was going to call the school. I was going to write a letter to the editor (which I still may do). I told my daughter she did not have to read the book. We’d find cliff notes on line and she could watch the video.

Why didn’t I just get the book from the library you ask? 4 or 5 copies available, 3,500 students assigned to read the book. You do the math. Needless to say, I was pissed, and actually I still am, but I have calmed down. I found a used copy for $4 and the video on youtube for free, but that really isn’t the point. The point is such an expensive book never should have been assigned as mandatory reading in a public school. Do you agree?


Your Last Challenge was:

K.M. Kinsley, another author, tweeted this question and I thought it would make a great writing challenge. Here’s her actual tweet:

“What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail? Take a moment to think about go do it.”

If you could do anything without fear of failing, what would it be?

If I could choose to do something, knowing I would not fail, I would choose trying out for a local production and actually getting through the performance.

Since my freshman year in high school, I have suffered from horrible stage fright. I had decided I was going to try out for the high school play. I had my sheet music selected and I practiced and practiced and practiced. As try-out time neared, I had gotten myself so worked up about it, I ended up in the hospital. Since then, I never tried out for anything again. I have performed in the band and in the choir, but only as one of many, never on my own where all the focus is on me.

A few years ago, I tried to be brave and agreed to do a quartet number at church. OK, there will be four of us singing, no one singing alone, I could handle it. Although, no one sang alone during the song, each voice was more predominant depending on which verse was being sung. When we got to my verse, I opened my mouth and nothing came out. I was fine in practice, but there, during church, with hundreds of eyes staring at me, I froze. It was 9th grade all over again.

The strange part is, although I do get nervous, I can speak in front of large groups of people without issue. Heck, when I was eighteen, I addressed a room of over ten thousand people, not once but twice. My problem comes when I have to sing in front of someone. That’s when my stomach twists into painful knots and I get physically ill.

Your Next Challenge is:


You are doing the “right before the holidays thorough cleaning”, so you are actually dusting off all the movies in your collection, when something very strange happens…


You have 10 minutes (be honest). There is no right or wrong, just write. Spelling and punctuation don’t count and NO ONE is allowed to criticize what someone else has written. Go.