Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spring Rerun

We've been struck by illness, and I'm a single mom playing catchup. Yik! Hats off to you full-time single parents out there.

Almost exactly a year ago, I posted the following. It's new to most of you, but it's a little "About Me" for your weekend enjoyment. I'm behind on my rounds, but I'm on my way.

Until then, have a great weekend. Til Monday~ <3
* * *

I was jogging this morning, and it was so nice. The Bradford pears and Japanese magnolias were blooming and it was 60 degrees outside. Wow.

There were still little bursts of dead leaves that would rain down every so often while I ran, and it made me think of my first boss as an editor at LSU, Susan Rogers. She was a neat lady. 

Susan was Irish. Actually, she was Jewish, but she was born in Ireland and then raised in London. Very multicultural. 

Still, she had this great British accent and she was extremely refined. She had a little teapot, and she liked to observe tea time. She said it was important to pause and reflect at some point every day.

She taught me to write sentences that began with "would you please" and ended with "thank you" in the letters I sent back to professors with their edited manuscripts. 

(Rather than "do this" and "do that" and "explain this" and "you stopped using English here.")

Susan also used fun catch phrases such as "we live in hope" and "keep calm." (Yes, there were times when those catch phrases were needed.)

Our offices were in Prescott Hall right next to the offices for this government program Law Enforcement Online (LEO). I never was quite sure what LEO did--busted hackers? Used satellites to track spies?

I did know we weren't supposed to go through their double-glass doors for security reasons. But the hall bathroom was just on the other side of their little suite of offices, so we ignored that rule. Sorry, federal government.

The lady in charge of LEO was this obnoxious redhead. She liked to stand in the hall and have loud conversations with her underlings who were in their offices. Her yelling typically involved lots of cursing, and it drove Susan nuts. 

The redhead drove me nuts because every day after lunch she would go in the bathroom in her office and spray the crap out of her hair.

The building where we worked had been a dorm in a past life, so the bathroom of this woman's office was connected to my office, but the door had been sealed shut. (I'm sure to keep me from going postal on them.) 

The only problem was it wasn't airtight, so after she finished her grooming, my office was awash in Aquanet. 

I would seriously have to stand at my door and fan out the hairspray. Rex Rose, my first graduate assistant got the brilliant idea of using clear packing tape to seal all the cracks around the door. It actually worked. 

Oh, if only he weren't better at editing the manuscripts I gave him. He was actually pretty terrible. Susan was always calm and rational, but once he provoked her to say "bugger." That was So. Funny.

Susan had a daughter Rosie and an autistic son Seamus. Rosie called the office once and I answered the phone. Our conversation went like this:

Rosie: Is my mom there?
LTM: She's not in the office. Is everything OK?
Rosie: Keep calm.
LTM: Ooo-kaay... What's wrong?
Rosie: There may or may not be peacocks in our yard, and Seamus may or may not be chasing them.
LTM: (Well, which is it?)

That situation worked itself out. Seems their neighbors kept peacocks. Baton Rouge is also a quirky place to live if I haven't already mentioned it.

Seamus didn't talk and he wasn't toilet trained. He was also nine years old, and quite a handful. Some days Susan had to call in sick because he'd been up all night. She was a single mom. Her jerk husband had left her after they found out Seamus was autistic. 

I say "jerk" because she implied that he blamed her for their son's condition. Seems that used to be the school of thought--autism was somehow the mother's fault. Jerks.

But Susan was always so upbeat and positive, and the few conferences we attended together were a blast. She was a lot of fun, and I admired her very much. 

The reason I was thinking of her today was because she taught me to catch leaves. 

Susan had lots of fun Irish folklore, and supposedly if you catch a falling leaf, it's very good luck. I managed to do it once when we worked together. I caught my leaf and then tossed it aside. Susan later informed me I had thrown my luck away. (You're supposed to keep it, silly!)

Catching leaves is hard. If you try it, be sure you've got an open, flat space to practice. Looking up and runing around is a great way to get hurt. 

This morning when I was jogging I caught a leaf. I smiled and thought of Susan. She moved back to a little village in England several years ago. I like to imagine those guys are doing great, having fun, enjoying life, observing tea time. Rosie would be grown now. 

St. Patrick's day is coming. Get outside and catch a leaf!


24 comments:

Anne said...

It sounds like she was a great mentor. I love hearing stories like this! Thanks for sharing. Xoxo

Matthew Rush said...

What happened to JRM? Please say he's just out of town.

Carolyn Abiad said...

I never knew you were supposed to keep the leaf! Darn it! I've been throwing my luck away all these years...I'd better go catch one because I need some luck on my side right now. :)

Ella said...

I enjoyed reading about your friend and your time together. oooh, how I hate Aqua Net. Me,Mum...I swear used 1/2 a can. I use to run...augh~
I love British accents, had to give it a go... lol
When I walk today, I will think of you and try to catch a leave. March wind has been rattling my winds, so maybe I'm in luck ;-D

Angie said...

Hope you're feeling better. This is a lovely post. I can almost smell the aquanet.

Jessica Bell said...

oh no not you too! :o( we can both be snotty together :o) xoxo

Colene Murphy said...

Hahaha the peacocks...She sounds like a neat lady. Sad she moved, though. Good luck in your house if ill repute. Well that means something different but it kinda fits now...I guess with the sickies, your home sort of has a bad reputation though...okay...rambling. Hope everyone feels better soon!

DEZMOND said...

wow, those magnolias are beautiful, and that house is even more beautiful!

Old Kitty said...

Awwww LTM!!! What a lovely lovely lovely post!! Thank you!!!! Susan sounds like a proper beautiful amazonian lady - the strong quiet type who does a million things more and better than shouty loud redhead and is therefore more memorable! She's utterly lovely!!! Thank you!

Off I go to try and catch armful of leaves!! Yay!! take are
x

The Golden Eagle said...

I hope you're all feeling better!

Great post.

Lynda R Young said...

I LOVE magnolias (as long as I don't have to sweep up all the petals -- hehe)

Lydia K said...

I hope people feel better soon at your house. And what a wonderful tribute to a friend. I really enjoyed reading it!

Jemi Fraser said...

What a great story! Thanks for sharing :)

Katie Mills said...

awe, what a cute post! I loved your descriptions of the people you worked with and the fun irish leaf thing. Thanks for (re)sharing this!

Kari Marie said...

What a great story. You wrote about Susan so lovingly I want to meet her. I will always think of this story when I see leaves falling. Next time I catch one, I will keep it for luck. Although, I venture to say that catching a leaf without hurting myself will have used up the luck in the leaf!

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, I loved this little peek! Also the temptation to write 'You stopped speaking English here' on the manuscripts you were editing *snort*

And Rosie sounds too cute! We had peacocks around here at one point--two hens and a cock, actually (had escaped from SOMEWHERE)... they caught the ladies with white bread, but to catch that male, they had to put a mirror in a garage.

I'm serious.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

LOL There are no leaves here. Just lots of snow and never ending freezing weather. :(

Al said...

As I'm coming in to Autumn, it'll be a great time for luck

Also...
I've got an award for you at my blog.
Publish or Perish

Talli Roland said...

AquaNet! Now there's something I havne't thought of for ages!

That would drive me mental. I hate the smell of hairspray!

RosieC said...

Ugh. AquaNet. Thank goodness for packing tape, no?

What a great idea--catching leaves for good luck. If it weren't pouring rain right now, I'd probably go out and try it. Does it count when the cherry blossom tree next door drops all its leaves in, oh, 5 minutes, and you're standing under it? Or is that cheating? :)

Hope you're having a recovery-filled weekend!

Tracy said...

Leigh,
Thank you for sharing such a lovely memory of a great mentor~ A lot to be modeled in there, yes?
I do hope you are feeling better; it tends to 'hang on' I know...I've still got remnants.
Take good care and thinking of you!

Theresa Milstein said...

Hope everyone is better. It must be difficult to be a single parent when illness strikes. Nobody to share the responsibilities.

The magnolias are beautiful. I can't wait for spring to spring here.

Jennie Bailey said...

They used to blame the mother for everything. Isn't that lovely? Our social standing wasn't what it is now and we weren't prone to standing up for ourselves. We live in hope - I love that!

I had a grandma who used the Aquanet. Horrible stuff. The smell will make me nauseous to this day.

I will keep my eyes open for falling leaves. I love that bit of folklore!

JRichard said...

Matthew Rush---He's just out of town!