Tag Archives: Dr Seuss

Ladies and Gentlemen, Class of 2014. Sunscreen. Really!

Notes from a Commencement Address to Windward High School’s Class of 2014.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Class of 2014. Sunscreen. Really

What is Rob known for? Not throwing things away? Recycling? So the best way to offer advice? Recycle it. Borrow from the best. So, I’ve got advice from Shakespeare to Suess, Anne Frank to Ani Difranco, Heinlein to Hemingway, Mother Teresa to Twisted Sister, Spider, My Aunt and the Beatles, Tolkein to Rowling, and Socrates to Slater [cough].

Dr. Seuss: Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

RELATIONSHIPS
Ernest Hemingway: The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them

Accept, embrace, seek out diverse ideas, people, experiences.

Ani DiFranco: There is strength in the differences between us. there is comfort where we overlap.

Mary Schmich from Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen. “Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.” or your family’s. If they are, tell them “We’re not gonna take it.”

Don’t try to save anyone who is not already trying to save themselves.

Find at least one friend to tell your secrets to. Be a good shoulder to cry on and find a good shoulder to cry on when you need it.

Follow your instincts! If someone makes you nervous there are reasons, even if you can’t put your finger on them. Don’t be paranoid, but do be careful. Travel with friends. Maya Angelou: Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

Accept chivalrous actions, but don’t be blinded by love, roses and repeated apologies. Be wary of promises. If you ever hear, “You would do this if you love me,” run. Run fast. Run far. If you’re interested in dating, watch how the person treats their parents. Watch how the parents treat each other. This is not infallible, but is a strong predictor.

Spider Robinson: “Shared pain is lessened. Shared joy is increased.”


MONEY

Beatles: “Can’t Buy Me Love.” You won’t have to worry about money problems if you follow these rules.

  1. Pay yourself first – Out of your very first paycheck, [out of your graduation gifts] take 10% for you to spend on yourself right now, put 10% away for long-term [retirement], 10% for emergencies.
  2. Pay bills on time – If you can’t make a due date call them before the date and tell them. Ask them if they can be flexible. Most of the time they can and will with reasonable people.
  3. Don’t run up loans, credit cards, for anything less than your house, your education, or your car. (And not for the car if you can help it.

Socrates: Wisdom begins in wonder. Read, Read, Read!

Don’t be a pirate. If you find a book, a movie, a song that touches you enough that you want to experience it again. Try to pay the person who gifted the world with their art. Share it with friends.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Dance! Sing! Laugh!

Be responsible to yourself. Take chances on new friends, and on new experiences, but not in a car! 6% of Drivers are under the age of 21, but are involved in 11% of accidents.

Learn to say “I’m sorry.” Even if you don’t mean it, it begins a healing process. Nothing else will soothe your soul and other’s souls as quickly.

Forgive quickly and try not to hold grudges. Get angry and let it go.
Be generous with your thanks. As Mother Teresa: “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” Notice all the beauty that is around you and swim in it.

Abraham Lincoln, who suffered from depression, said, “Most people area as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Make your mind up to be happy. Ask for help. Depression is real. Sometimes being unhappy can be cured by a little exercise, especially outside in the fresh air. Get some sun, but not too much. Sunscreen. Remember.

Relax. Learn exercises to help you focus your mind and body like Tae Kwondo, Tai Chi or Yoga. Learn to recognize when your body is tense. Then learn to relax it.

Robert A. Heinlein: “Always listen to the experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.” Make lists of things you want to do today, tomorrow, next year and the rest of your life. Mark each one off when you do it so you will feel accomplishment and progress. You can even add things that you have already done to the lists. Give yourself credit. Give others credit.

You are at the beginning of the most freedom you will have in your life. Choose to enjoy it. Soon enough you will have lots of responsibilities. Let them come in their own time.

Anne Frank: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Improve the world a little at a time by being a good friend, by smiling, by cleaning up after yourself wherever you go. And that recycling thing? No aluminum in the paper and no paper in the bottles and cans or garbage!

Ralph Waldo Emerson: appreciate beauty, find the best in others; leave the world a bit better, whether by a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

Stand out. Weird is not necessarily a bad word. Be outstanding in your field, even if it’s a real field full of muddy pigs! Work hard at something you enjoy. Expect to have to work for everything you want, then when things come easier you will really appreciate them.

Keep a journal to help you remember now, this time, today. You think you’ll never forget, but as you get older things fade. Write in it your lists of things to do. Write the things you want to say to people, but can’t. Someday you’ll be able to. Write a song, a poem. Write when you’re angry. Then burn it. In a safe place and then make sure the fire is out.

In a commencement speech Jim Carrey said that fear will be a player in life, but you get to decide how much. You can spend your life imagining ghosts, worrying about the future, but all you have is this moment. Many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really would love to do seems impossible, out of reach and ridiculous. So we never dare to ask the universe for it. Ask for it. You can fail at something you don’t like, why not try to succeed at something you Love? Love or Fear? Your choice.

And last, for now anyway, but certainly not least: Love! Keep falling in love. With life, the sun, the stars, the rain, a person, a song, a thought, an ideal, a book, a movie, a food, or a flower. Be good to each other. Dream a little. And This above all: to thine own self be true.

[Then I played Get Real. Here are the lyrics. Here’s the song.]

My Path to Indie Publication: Part IX– Party On.

Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Path to Indie PublicationPart IPart IIPart III. Part IV. Part V. Part VIPart VII. Part VIII

Party On.*

One of the ideas I had picked up from Mary Robinett Kowal’s Debut Author lessons, an excellent and concise primer for how to act pro as a newbie author, was that I needed professional author photos. I had been crossing paths for several years with Damian Vines, an acquaintance from my Grays Harbor wannabe rocker years. We played some guitar, exchanged Facebook posts and I marveled at his growing body of fine art photography. When it came time, we agreed that the grounds of the old Northern State mental hospital grounds in Sedro Woolley would be perfect for some apocalyptic shots. The day was cold, but we got some great photos

Then during a chance conversation at Village Books with Paul Hansen, store manager, he suggested I have the Release Party at Village Books. I had been thinking of other venues around town, churches, former churches, even Windward High School where I teach. But what better place to do a release party? I wanted to do it almost immediately, this was the second week of February and I wanted to do it on the 20th of February, but Christina at VB events convinced me to put it out a month so we could get the word out.

Elena, my partner, and Amanda, my editor, gave me advice to improve on the reading I had done at AWP in Seattle. I cut down the one section I had read, leaving it on a cliffhanger and chose another short one that I also hoped would leave the listeners wanting more. I put up a Facebook event, a Google+ event, posted it on my blog, my newsletter, Goodreads and my Amazon author page. I invited 500 of my various followers who might be within driving distance. When the day came, 50 people had RSVP’d they would be there. I created a powerpoint to run before the event started, I rehearsed to songs I’d written that I thought seemed to fit thematically. I ordered pizza and Mountain Dew, food for the Apocalypse, as well as cookies, tea and coffee for those wanting a kinder, gentler end of the world.

I printed up cards for a free giveaway of my short fiction and poetry collection. Each card was numbered so I could not only see how many folks attended, but also do drawings for door-prizes:robslater a copy of Some of the Parts, my CD of original music, and a copy of Blue Deer: Four Generations of Poetry, my mom’s poetry book which includes poems by her father, me and some of my kids. Everything was going well, albeit a little harried. Parking near Village Books was practically non-existent. I parked in a no parking zone to unload boxes of books, guitar and other stuff. And then realized that I only had my school computer which did not have the VGA connector to hook up the presentation. Oops.

I played an extra song while folks were continuing to stream in and then started the show about five minutes late, but with most of the chairs filled. We ended up with at least 75 people as I gave out all 75 cards I had printed. We had a nice break midway through and most of the pizza and all of the cookies disappeared. After each of the readings I fielded questions including my favorite, “How old should you be to read this book?” I suggested that anyone under 15 probably should check it out with parents first. We sold 24 books and had a lovely, lovely evening ending in drinks with friends across the green at the Archer Ale House.

I followed the release party up with a Hometown Reading the first weekend of my spring break. [Immortalized in this Seussian poem] The reading took place at the Hoquiam Timberland Regional Library, a home away from home when I was growing up and the place where some forward thinking librarian got me hooked on Science Fiction. We did essentially the same format as the release party minus the pizza. This time we got the projector up and running the presentation. The crowd was smaller, and many called me, “Robbie,” as they’d known me since childhood. We sold a few more books, had a pleasant weekend of thrift store shopping and ate at two of my favorite restaurant meals: Casa Mia Pizza’s Special and The Canton’s Egg rolls. I brought extra servings of both back home to Bellingham, after doing a reading at Harbor High School in Aberdeen. I also left copies for the other two local high school libraries and fundraisers. Not long after getting home with the food, my high school buddy, Derek Cook, principal of Harbor High contacted me to buy a classroom set of 30!

I realized the price I had quoted, once shipped would be nearly at cost. Thankfully, I managed to send them south with my niece, another former Grays Harborite, saving the shipping cost of 30 pounds of books.

Next Week: Part X—Finding Equilibrium, the agony and the ecstasy of new authorhood. Where our author goes to conventions and finds success and failure.

Write on…

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top

Oh, the Places I went on my Spring Break

A poem by Robert L. Slater, inspired by Theodore Geisel

In the spring of the year of twenty fourteen
There was found a kind author with a penchant for green
He printed his novels on backs of DOOSpaper*
And tried to recycle all of the newspaper

When to his hometown he returned for a read
His welcome surprised him, too true, yes, indeed
Old friends and family called him all Robbie
And they sat and they talked in the library lobby

After the show, many books he did sell
Then off to the pizza place still feeling swell
He met with his editors, partner and friends
And they talked and he bubbled all over again

Then back to the motel, dingy and old
To wait till the sun came to check for the mold
The innkeeper was sorry, but not sorry enough
To give any discount, oh, boy that was tough.

The next day was better, a run on the beach
And a trip to the bookstore not far out of reach
The bookstore was closed on the Sunday and Mon
So back to the drawing board where he’d begun

He found a drugstore that sold books, drugs and gifts
The fact that they knew him gave him quite the lift
They took six new books to sell to more people
Then off Robbie went avoiding the Fleepell**

He went to a high school, to students he read
Though loving of Zombies, none were undead
They paid good attention and asked many queries
Till after an hour the author was weary

He headed north and did battle with Seattle traffic
But good news awaited at home, wait a tick,
The school wanted 30 new books signed right quick

He quoted a price that would fleece his accounts
Then hoped he could send the books south on a bounce
An ex-wife said no, I am already here
But a cousin, a niece said, “I’m going, no fear.”

So the author, our friend, settled in to do flooring
Replacing old fake wood with tile’s not boring
But hard work it was and tired he got
So watched he Star Wars movies with his youngest daught-
er or something like that.

The second Star Wars that was numbered Part Five
Was really refreshing for those still alive
A swim at the YMCA was quite cool
But, boy, was tired when he crawled from the pool

He mowed the high lawn ‘fore rain started to fall
[And yes, I know this bad grammar is all]
The spring break did end with a film that was Bella
And then some more pizza—what a happy fella

When he got back to school he found students galore
Awaiting to tell him ’bout the week gone before
So Kevin and Gabe did not know what to do
So they sat and made fun of Rob’s writing too

* D.O.O.S.paper is Dirty On One Side or the paper formerly known as scratch paper.
** I had to make up at least one proper noun!
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