Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How William was introduced to his wife . . .

Kenneth Bentler: A girl called Jeff "surprisingly graceful."

Jeffrey Bentler:
I was dancing. Gracefully. She was surprised

Jeffrey Bentler:
She might have bias against ppl shaped like spaghetti sculpture. Nobody thought I wouldn't be graceful when I was shorter and more proportional

William Bentler:
Has Gordan told you how he first introduced us--Gordan and me--to your mom? The very first words? "This is Spaghetti, and I'm Meatball." It all began ... with a pasta reference

Jeffrey Bentler:
That is so romantic! 'course I'm not surprised. Is no one more romantical than Gordan

Jeffrey Bentler:
romantical or romancical?

Robert Bentler:
i'm hungry

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday, For Cory's Sake

I like the baby metaphor for "Cory". Publishing put For Cory's Sake out into the world, where he was able to travel to places like California and Michigan and Virginia and Texas, and London, and make the acquaintance of new people, freed from the security and obscurity of my hard drive. He was able to have a life.

The metaphor makes me Cory's "mother." I am not the mother of any human, yet. I do have six younger siblings, and was cognizant of the infancies of the youngest three. I know that babies are life-changing experiences, and in this way as well the metaphor fits like a modern diaper. In the past year, I've had experiences I would've never had had I not decided to publish--experiences for which I am very grateful. Here are the highlights:

I discovered Twitter: I am mentioning this first because it leads into number two. I first heard about Twitter in the past year, from Clark Covington (@ClarkCovington), an internet marketing service provider whose mailing list I had joined. Soon after I got on Twitter, #iranelection broke, and I was hooked. I grew up in a town of 13,000, have never traveled outside the U.S. nor lived east of the Rockies. #iranelection caused the world to open up before me, as never before: bigger, more real and more accessible than I'd ever felt it before; with great and terrible things going on in it every second. #iranelection on Twitter was an eye-opening, life-changing experience. I see and learn about my world differently now than I did before.

I found people who share my interests: more of them than in all of the years previous to publishing For Cory's Sake. I donate all my royalties, from Cory, to orgs that serve abused (or neglected or exploited) children. During the publication process, I had to decide whether or not to go public with this intention. I decided to go public. Now, I was wearing my concern for this issue on my sleeve, for the first time in my life.

And then I joined Twitter. I learned how easy it is to find people who share my interests, on Twitter. I found people who share my interests, all over the world. I found a constant stream of information, and caring, and reports of people doing things about the issue. I found myself inspired on a nearly daily basis.

I also met other writers: more than I'd met in all of the years previous to Cory's publication. Writers are fascinating people: brave, enterprising, supportive, thoughtful, diverse, multi-faceted . . .Smiley. Again, I met people I would've never met had I never published--and it's hard, now, to imagine such a barren reality . . .

I got to practice life-skills "learned" from years of watching ESPN: The-job-that-pays-my-mortgage is in retail. Now, you get criticized in retail, but criticism in retail and many other jobs (I've had many other jobs) never cuts to the core of one's self; never threatens one's actual identity. I have long thought, that the fields in which criticism does cut the deepest, and threatens one's identity are: professional athletics, and the arts. (If you need examples, you could watch Skip Bayless talk about "certain wide receivers" on 1STand10, watch American Idol or similar, or read Twilight's "1-star" reviews.

My television, when it is on, is usually on a forensics/detective/FBI/etc. marathon--or ESPN. And I have long been consciously impressed by athletes who can take public criticism gracefully. From years of watching ESPN, and knowing what field I was getting into, I knew Cory and I would be criticized, and I was determined to be gracious about it. And with the prep I received, I did durn good. Thank you, certain quarterbacks.

I learned my strengths and gained confidence: For Cory's Sake was a pretty ambitious concept, for a first novel. The execution was not as high-level as it could've been (I've heard), but critics and fans alike agree that its story was original, unique, different, imaginative and odd. I'm good with this, as I think execution (like athletic fundamentals) should be easier to refine than imagination (think wingspan) would be to acquire. "Storyteller" is a confirmed and happifying part of my identity, now.

This finishes my reflections on the first year of Cory's life, with all of its experiences and growth. Thanks, my darling babySmiley.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

141 Cranes and a spotlight on Deseret International

Once upon an unspecified time, an unnamed American organization decided to give free medical care to an area in Haiti. As an unfortunate, unintended consequence, the local Haitian doctors were not able to compete with the American MDs, and were forced out of the area. When the American organization later pulled out, the area was left with no system of medical care.

With this cautionary tale in mind, Deseret International executes a different model. Nowadays, developing countries have local surgeons, who received their surgical educations in Boston, London, etc., and then returned to their home countries with a desire to help.

Help is needed, certainly. The local surgeons may know of girls who have dropped out of school because of speech and social difficulties caused by a cleft palate. They may see children suffering from life-threatening hydrocephalus.

But the crossing from desire to action may be stymied by practical obstacles. Let's take one example: the surgeon does not have an adequately equipped operating room. Some needed thing is lacking: from sutures, to an operating room itself.

Deseret International bridges the gap from desire to action, by helping local surgeons get what they need to help their people. They may approach a local hospital, and offer to donate an updated anesthetic machine, if the hospital will reserve an operating room for free surgeries on, say, Friday. They may provide medical supplies to the local surgeon. Now the local surgeon has an operating room on Friday, and needed supplies, and spends Fridays performing surgeries on local people.

And then--I'm being literal here--the blind see, the lame walk, children live and go back to school.

Some of these miracles cost 25 U.S. Dollars. To learn more, visit DesInt's website.

I learned about Deseret International when Doug Jackson came to speak to my club, this morning. It inspires me, how many people are going forth from my town (I googled DesInt's mailing address--it's 3.7 miles north of my home) to do work to advance our world. Doug was recently in Haiti, and shared another story with a memorable lesson, with which I'll conclude.

Jeremy Johnson, from St. George, Utah, wanted to help in Haiti. He didn't know how, at first--he just knew he needed to be there. So he went to Haiti, and brought his personal helicopter. (Do I need to mention that Mr. Johnson is wealthy?) He ended up buying two more helicopters, and used his three helicopters to transport aid (many roads are impassable), and help people like Doug Jackson from DesInt to get around.

Doug's lesson. "Sometimes you have to--just show up, without a plan, without the set-up being absolutely perfect. Just show up, and you'll find ways to help." This lesson, of course, doesn't only apply to Haiti, which trip most of us can't afford.

Nah, I'm sure anybody can find plenty of things to show up to, just a few miles away from their homes--no helicopter needed.