Everything in the World, in part | February 2, 2022

It was my birthday last Saturday; I turned 42.  I like being 42.  I wish I had been 42 when I was 32, you know what I mean?  Actually, if I’m wishing for things, I’d prefer my 22-year-old body, my 32-year-old years, and my 42-year-old everything else.

You know who wouldn’t have wanted any of that?  Twelve-year-old me.  When I was twelve, I could have written a book called Everything in the World because I knew all of it – and I knew, for a fact, that I was perfection.

I knew the exact barrette I needed to wear in order to be the most popular girl in the sixth grade: two layered plastic ovals in maroon and grey.  It was obvious that the barrette would increase my coolness quotient because I had previously only worn barrettes with rainbow beads and strands of glitter – to hold up one side of my aggressively-brushed out curly hair, like an off-the-shoulder fuzzy sweater but on my head – and this plain barrette would signal to everyone that I was now much more sophisticated and serious.

I knew exactly who I would marry when I grew up (Brad Pitt), and exactly what I would do for a living (famous author and movie/Broadway actress and owner of Disney World).  I knew how to anticipate the exact length of a commercial break and then use my lightning-fast reflexes to hit Record-Play on the VCR so that my sister and I didn’t have to watch any ads on our bootlegged copy of “Star Wars.”  I knew how to ride my bike one-handed (and no-handed if I was going down a hill), and how to speak like the Micro Machines Man, and the correct opinion a person should have on any subject that ever existed.

This enthusiastic amount of – let’s call it confidence – was encouraged by my parents, grandparents, and my sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Robinson.  While I don’t know as much now as I knew back when I was twelve, I am well-aware that I’m the product of a whole bunch of amazingly great teachers…and Mrs. Robinson was the absolute greatest of the great.  Somehow Mrs. Robinson managed to encourage a loud-mouthed know-it-all without keeling over from all of the eyeball rolling I know I would have done in the same situation.  In fact, there wasn’t any eyeball rolling at all; she was a fantastic at bringing out the best in all of her students.  Behold:

Mrs. Robinson put on a stage play (sans stage) in our classroom.  I was cast in the MOST IMPORTANT part in the play – which, in hindsight, was not the lead.  I knew it was the MOST IMPORTANT part, however, because Mrs. Robinson said to me, “This is the perfect role for you and I know you will really shine.”  I had so much sparkle that my grandma brought flowers to our performance and I gave an encore at home for my sister, who had “missed” the original run.

Later in the year, my classmates and I channeled our newfound drama skills into a living museum in which we each dressed up as our favorite person in history and then read a one-paragraph, first-person biography of said individuals.  Naturally, as a true sophisticate with a non-beaded barrette, I selected noted American author Edith Wharton.  I chose Edith Wharton, not because I was a fan of her work (never read it), but because I knew it was necessary that I wear a long skirt and read my bio in an affected American aristocratic accent.  My mother sewed me a teal satin skirt, and I froze (during my museum exhibition) with a quill pen in hand.  Mrs. Robinson agreed it was the exact right choice.

Having now played Edith Wharton, I put my quill pen to paper and decided to write the Great American Novel.  Called Victoria Tracy (the two most beautiful names in the world), it was 75 pages of pure brilliance.  Naturally, I gave it to Mrs. Robinson – who, God bless her, read it and made notes on every page.  I edited Victoria Tracy and gave it back to Mrs. Robinson before I left for junior high with the confidence that only an established actress/literary maven/Edith Wharton channeler could have.

Now, (ahem) many years later, as much as I liked knowing everything in the world, I’m old enough to appreciate a little mystery in life – and so I’ll keep twelve-year-old me back in 1992.  Maybe, however, I’ll dust of that ol’ sophisticated barrette.  I could use a little extra coolness.

Also, Mrs. Robinson continues to be an awesome person.  I typically don’t use real names on here, but Mrs. Robinson (better known as Laurie Robinson-Sammons) has written a book.  Called One Story: Many Voices, it is a series of first-hand accounts, both harrowing and hopeful, of sexual abuse and exploitation, victimization, survival, and healing.  It is written for educators, counselors, medical personnel, law enforcement, and youth workers to better advocate for and contribute to the healing of children and young adults who have survived abuse.  All proceeds of the book will be donated to organizations whose mission is to eradicate child sex trafficking and exploitation through education, awareness, restoration projects, and justice initiatives.  You can learn more or purchase the book here.  Additionally, here is a video of Mrs. Robinson talking about the book.

The picture above is a screenshot from the newspaper in 1992.  A Winnipeg video artist received a grant to lead our classroom of sixth graders through the movie-making process.  Our movie, which we also wrote, was called New Nerds in the School, and was about treating all people with kindness.  As the person who would obviously know the exact right way to shoot a movie in order to bring out the best in all of the talent and the script, you can guess which kid is me.

This week’s news has snowballs, hot dishes, and birthday cakes.  Read on.

I’m not gonna lie, I was a little disappointed to see that a Snowball Softball Tournament wasn’t played with actual snowballs; however, I was very happy to see that the annual tourney raised $2,000 for Brave the Shave. (KFYR TV)

Congratulations to Richland County’s KrisCinda Erickson, who recently won bronze in the Changmookwan Taekwondo World Championship! (Wahpeton Daily News)

Eighty-two people donated 78 units of blood products in Devils Lake. (Devils Lake Journal)

Last September, a team of North Dakota kids with disabilities got to go hunting in the badlands thanks to the Wish Endowment and Prairie Grit. (KFYR TV)

In North Dakota-adjacent/North Dakota-supported news, a hot dish competition cooked up ten dishes and raised money for Veterans Honor Flight of North Dakota and Minnesota. (KVRR)

In “this is a great idea” news: Litchville’s (or maybe Marion’s) Liz Fick asked for cake donation kits to be donated to food pantries in honor of her birthday. (Valley City Times-Record)

Grand Forks’ Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson will be competing in the NHL All-Star Game competitions this weekend. (Grand Forks Herald)

I recently joined a Facebook group called “Pay It Forward Grand Forks,” which is just people helping people around town.  One of my favorite posts was from Kasha Christianson, who gave me permission to share the following: (Facebook)