Monday, April 22, 2013

The Massa'

I guess enough time has passed, because it’s back again. On my mind, creeping into late night thoughts, presenting itself in my first visions when waking. Sometimes it returns because of something I saw on television; other times, a book I’m reading. If I watch a movie, like “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, it can take several weeks to shut down my brain.

I don’t know why I’ve always felt this connection to the Holocaust. As I get older, I don’t think about it as much. I no longer imagine the gas chambers when first entering a shower like I did when younger. I’ve read so much by now, seen so many photos, explored the history of Germany’s culpability….how and why her people were able to not only turn a blind eye to genocide but in most cases actively help perpetuate it…..that I only return to it every so often. When “it” happens, I feel a cloud, guilt, and a deep depression that the evil which occurred is still within some humans; the propensity to hate and to discard humanity still out there, in full view.

It could’ve begun within me, in the womb. One of the people who knows me best, my best friend from college, jokes that I must’ve been a Polish Jew in a past life. Another teases me, although the teasing leaves a sour taste, saying I obsess over the Holocaust because maybe I was actually a Nazi. I think it’s more simple than this. I think it began with my DNA, something unique to my person, and with the White City Library when I was in the 3rd grade.

We would walk together as a class the four blocks to our small town’s library. I loved this building, made of large stone squares. It was my favorite structure in town. The steep stone steps seemed huge and I felt like a Very Important Person each time I entered. The smell was familiar, as well as the quiet, the old-school card catalog and the stamp Frankie the Librarian used. These were things I would wrap myself in, a special place right in the middle of our small village. I thought it must be glamorous to work there and couldn’t imagine always having so many books surrounding me every day.

It was here, while the other kids were in the basement picking through age appropriate books, that I found myself alone in the small non-fiction section on the main floor every single visit. The book was always there, easy to spot if you knew what to look for; hard back, thin, no sleeve, old and rough. I’ve wracked my brain, but cannot remember the exact title. It was something like “We Must Never Forget” and it was filled with photos. Black and white stills of the Holocaust, photos that to this day sear my memory as they did back in 1979. I never checked out the book, was afraid I’d be told “no”, as if the book was something racy I could get into trouble for reading. Only there really were few words. This was a photographic record of the horrors.

The one page I cannot forget is a series of four photos. A man, probably middle-aged but who looks as if he is seventy, sits in a glass box. He was an experiment. The test involved high pressure, to see how much pressure a pilot could take before….well, before. The man has no expression through the first two photos. By the fourth, I thought I could feel the pain in his head; I could physically see it in his face, his eyes. I never shared this book with anyone else. It wasn’t a macabre “Oh you’ve got to see this!” type of book in my young opinion. It was as if I knew I needed to know about this secret because I could never be fully enlightened in life if I ignored it. The fact that it was a book, in a library, seemed too poignant and ironic, since the Third Reich began burning books in order to darken the veil.

It wasn’t long after I found this book that I began reading Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place”. It fit perfectly with my spiritual mindset at the time and with my newfound curiosity about the Holocaust. It was my first introduction to Ravensbruck and the violence of the camps. Around that time, a film adaptation was made and long after I’d gone to bed after watching it, I found myself silently crying, unable to erase the vision of an old woman in the film whose hands were crushed for smuggling food to camp Jews.

I was probably too young. But, then, I think maybe not. Sometimes, when reading book reviews of novels that deal with this topic, I see someone write something like “the Holocaust theme has been done before and is tiring to a reader” or “frustrated with a topic that has been told so many times before”. I think to myself, maybe these people should’ve been impacted from an early age with exposure to the horror. How can something so awful, so indescribable, be spoken of too many times?

Regardless, it did impact me. It began with showers. I would imagine closing my eyes and feeling not water, but an acrid smell burning my nostrils, throat, eyes and lungs. I’ve cried most tears over the Holocaust in the shower. It doesn’t happen as often anymore and I’ve learned to shut down the thoughts as quickly as they begin; unless, as stated earlier, I’ve had recent exposure via print or video.

I’ve always saved small things, like sugar packets. Not because I can’t go to the store and buy more sugar and not because I was raised by Depression era grandparents, but because the small amount within those tiny little packets would’ve been worth its weight in gold in Lodz or Warsaw. We carelessly discard something so trivial, so infinitesimal, something that could’ve been traded for a piece of bread from a starving person. I’m the same with socks that have holes, knit gloves that are unthreading….and whenever I leave the house just to drop off one of our children, I briefly consider the shoes I’m wearing and whether or not they would protect my feet if I had to walk a long distance unexpectedly.

Living in Kansas, there is always the threat of tornadoes. Have you ever thought about what you would grab first if you had to rush to the basement? I’ve thought about what I’d grab first if armed men came to the door and made us leave, allowing us only a small bag. You see, in my heart, my deepest and most vulnerable heart, I know it could happen. It didn’t just happen in Germany or Poland. It has happened in Somalia. In Croatia. In Iran. It is still happening today.

Before you roll your eyes, I understand that I’m not normal and that I might sound cliché to some. You see, though, I don’t care because there has got to be a reason I carry this. This is what it is like for me: I see the murdered men, women, and children as if they were at the end of a zoom lens. Imagine a massively powerful telescope in space, looking down on earth. The earth is like that number we all know: six million (and more). As the lens zooms in, we see 1 million, then 1 thousand, then 1 hundred…..until, at the very end of that lens, there is a baby and her mother lying in a pit, awash with blood, while the mother sings to the baby before a bullet ends the song. The mother and the baby each had names. They were each loved. Each of them had a story, a community, a family, hopes, dreams, fears, and souls.

Each of these individuals is why I find myself overcome when I think of the horror of that time. It’s why I look around my neighborhood and wonder who would be willing to help and who would quietly look the other way, including myself. Some, I’m certain, would be whistlers. As a child, I looked at my grandparents and knew that if they had been Jewish in 1940, they would’ve been turned left after leaving the train because they were old. My cousin Rachael, with a disease that has ravaged her body, also would’ve been turned left. My Uncle David and his two daughters would’ve worn the yellow star, simply because they carried Jewish blood while my Aunt Steph, a convert and devout Jew but not Jewish by birth or blood, would’ve been spared the star.

I don’t know what to do with this and I can’t pretend to understand why I cannot shed it, even after almost forty years . I’ve never known what to do with it. Family and friends think it’s cute and odd and they look at me with affection when I bring up the subject but they cannot really know that it isn’t cute when I move into those dark moments where, after dwelling in my mind, I can’t breathe. I didn’t even go through it. No one in my family went through it. I’m not even Jewish. I’ve never been starved or beaten. I only feel what I feel because someone took the time to write about it. So tell me, reader, what do I do with this?

I guess, in a small way, it is important for people who are affected more deeply by these things to share what we feel, to remind others that they must think about what happened every so often. That they must make the connection between what happened then and what continues to happen in other places; what could even happen again in their own country if we are not careful…..if we do not take the time to zoom in and remember each and every face, our own humanity.

I didn’t plan to write this today, but for some reason cannot stop. Today was my Uncle David’s birthday. His grandmother was a Russian Jew, his children and grandchildren Jewish. My cousin’s son Simon became a Bar Mitzvah two years ago and he has embraced his culture and religion with sincerity and devotion. I love this young boy and know that his grandfather would be so proud, so touched, that he understands the thread he sustains and immortalizes willingly. He is evidence that good grows, even in the face of evil.

Simon is preparing now for his confirmation, which is the decision of young adults to embrace Jewish study in their lives and reaffirm their commitment to the Covenant. Simon will represent "the first fruits of each year's harvest” and the hope and promise of tomorrow. More than this, he represents an entire race that not only survived, but has thrived and grown in the face of man’s most base sin.

I began this trying to find a way out the darkness that sometimes rears its ugly head. After all, that is why I write, if only to get it out and try to move on. In doing so, I find that I’ve come full circle. Today, I will replace the visions of death with memories of a special uncle and his birthday. ……..and of a young boy’s light that burns brightly. A light that represents every Jewish spirit that was extinguished. A light that represents growth, continuity, history, life, and hope.

I love you Simon, and I miss your grandfather. He would be proud.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Bogeyman

I thought I met the Bogeyman once. That feeling you have when there is instant panic, like when a car pulls out in front of you, is something which most of us can relate to. The night I met the Bogeyman I felt that panic, only it didn’t leave in an instant; instead, it lingered over what seemed an eternity but was probably only a matter of ten to fifteen minutes.

I was in 6th or 7th grade, the same age roughly as our daughter Marah. My Grandparents had gone to Wednesday evening church services and for some reason I was allowed to stay home that night. Most likely I was either not feeling well or had homework. It was rare for them to leave me alone, but church only lasted one hour. What could happen in the span of an hour?

My mother was married to a raging alcoholic at the time. I often say that her “picker was broken”. They must’ve been fighting that night, but I was insulated from most of it and had never seen any of the awful drama face to face.

My grandparents didn’t drink; ever. The only way I really knew when my step-father John had been drinking was because his eyes were watery, he smiled goofily, he was loud, and he smelled like liquor. It was rare for me to be in a car with him and even more unusual for me to spend the night with them. I didn’t question it the time, although I now know that my grandparents, ever the faithful and persistent guardians, once again had my back. Was there no end to their love and protection?

It began with a phone call. I stood in the kitchen, listening to Uncle Bob tell me to stay calm. He said that John had just left their house around the corner and was “on his way”.

I said “on his way where?” Uncle Bob said “to you”.

He went on to give me very clear directions: pull all of the drapes, make sure all of the doors are locked and stay away from the windows. He made me promise I wouldn’t answer the door, no matter what, and then reassured me that “everything would be all right”.

I frantically ran through the house, pulling the living room curtains closed, locking the front door and then locking the very back door that would provide entrance a few summers later to another late night Bogeyman.

I made my way into my grandparent’s bedroom and picked up the phone in their room to call Uncle Bob back. Panting, I said “I did it, everything is locked up. What is going on?” He said that John was drunk as a skunk and livid. Furious, he was trying to find my mother and he was sure as hell she was at our house. He told me that John could get violent but that I’d be fine as long as I stayed out of sight and the doors were locked.

By now, I was starting to become terrified. I was alone in the house. It was just me and no one else. Then I saw lights flash on the living room wall as he pulled into the driveway. I saw his shadow outlined on the curtains as he came up the walk and then I heard him……banging on the front door. Hard, then harder. Then he started to pound, over and over and over. He was screaming, cursing.

But then, as quickly as it had started, it stopped. I thought maybe he had left, so I walked into the kitchen to call Uncle Bob.

It was at that moment my heart stopped, stuck in my throat, and I felt that I’d never take another breath. I could hear him again. In a distance, not screaming, but calling my name….”Marlys”…..”Marlys”……”Marlys”…..over and over. I didn’t know where it was coming from. He wasn’t in the front anymore.

Oh God, it hit me like a ton of bricks. He’s coming around the back yard of the house. I was in the kitchen and every blind on the back porch was open. He could SEE me standing there. More panic hit, in waves. I didn’t lock the doors from the porch onto the deck. He could actually come INTO the house!

Maybe, I thought, he was actually inside! In fact, I could hear my name better now and it was coming from the bedroom area of the house. He was saying my name over and over and it was coming from the area of my grandparent’s bedroom. I was crying by now, unsure of what would happen but knowing that I was alone with this crazy man who was drunk and angry. Sweat, racing heart, wet palms, lungs gasping….I was a walking textbook for panic, me in my little twelve year old body.

At that moment, I heard the garage door open. John didn’t have a garage door opener….it had to be someone else. As I tore open the door to the garage I was met in a bear hug. It was Uncle Bob, all 6’4/300 pounds of him. I sobbed and he told me it was fine, that John was gone.

I told him I thought John was in the house and as we walked back into my grandparent’s room, we discovered I had left the phone off the hook and it had been my Uncle’s voice I had heard on the phone calling my name. When he realized that I’d left the phone off the hook, he had raced the few blocks to our house to check on me.

To this day, I remember that night as being one of the most terrifying in my life. I never found out the details of their argument, nor did I find out what happened later that night. Once Uncle Bob got there, I went back to being insulated.

What I do carry with me is guilt. You see, that was my brief introduction to what life in John and my mother’s home could be like; the home that my older brother and infant sister were living in. They didn’t have protectors.

Millions of kids don’t have protectors. Those few moments of terror I felt and that I remember in such vivid detail even to this day, are just a small taste of what it must be like for so many young children who live in violent homes. I’ve been asked many times why I chose to work with struggling youth and I know some of it goes back to that night. It was out of gratitude….and hope that maybe, just maybe, I could be Uncle Bob to another Marlys.

Uncle Bob died three years ago and at his funeral some of us shared fond and funny stories about him. THIS is the story I really wanted to tell. The story of the night Uncle Bob saved me from the Bogeyman.

I thank you…..and haven’t forgotten.

Uncle Bob and his youngest daughter, my cousin Jessica

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The City of Eenwahs & Her Radical Insurgents

This is the story of a thriving suburb on the outskirts of Kansas City, Kansas. It is, of course, fiction. It is a tale of politics, ignorance, and power. It is a tale of a community that fell asleep and quit paying attention.

The City of Eenwahs, whose name derives from the ancient Indian tribe of “Eenwah”, is nestled along the Kansas River. It is surrounded by lush trees, beautiful walking paths, and prides itself on being a family oriented community that values education and religion. Eenwahs ranks second nationally in the number of churches per-capita, with Salt Lake City being first.

Income is high, housing prices are low, and SUV’s common. Every major intersection boasts of at least one church and one bank; business is booming for both. Road rage is rare, bikers common, and the schools are among the highest scoring in the state.

Eenways is conservative, even by Midwest suburban standards. Local residents enjoy their community and spend most of their free time pursuing family and socially related amusements. Most avoid political exploration and prefer, safely, to vote “business as usual” when elections roll around. They have, in many instances, fallen asleep at the wheel.

Kansas has traditionally been considered a Democracy, along with the rest of the nation. This is all about to change, which is where our story begins. Eenwahs citizens are in danger of losing their simple, safe, & carefree community due to an infestation of a new breed of leaders they elected. These political imposters are part of an ultra-religious party, secretly called the Sessadumbs but who publicly go by the name "Republican". Traditional Republicans are mortified, but have been weak and slow to wrest back their party from these infiltrators.

Leading the charge this year is the valiant and hyper-vigilant Mimi Kooc. Mimi is a devout Catholic who believes the female body should answer to the Pope and only the Pope. She cruises major subdivisions during election years in fetching sweatsuits which sport an impressive “MPK” on the back and it makes her blood boil when she spots any form of opposition intruding into her territory. Mimi has been known to verbally assault innocent campaigners, leaving them mouthing the words “WTF just happened”?

Mimi has earned a fourth degree black belt in the art of training canvassers to steal, lie, and character-assassinate anyone who tries to get in the way of her own campaign or those of other Sessadumbs. If you spot random walkers removing opposition literature from your neighbor’s door, just look away lest she find you and punish you. You see, Mimi has a list. All of the Sessaddumbs do. You don’t want to be on it, particularly if you are one of those "traditional" Republicans. Mimi becomes uncontrollable when coming face to face with someone deemed "moderate".

Mimi’s most ardent fan is another Sessadumb named Terb Darbadihl. Terb is socially awkward & struggles when forced to speak in public, but is a fierce and radical believer in Sessadumb causes. He knows very little of the female body or of child rearing/public education, having never been married or even dated. Terb doesn’t need silly things such as experience, though, feeling that life in his small (politically paid for) apartment along with his fancy hot-rod are enough to present himself as an up and coming Gubernetorial candidate of the highest class. He took the secret blood oath several years ago, promising to propose legislation and vote yeah or nea as directed by handlers. Terb’s recruiters have been nothing short of amazed at how easily he acquiesces to requests and their original plan for him to do exactly as told without asking questions has proven to be a home run.

Mimi and Terb are focused, primed, driven, and have a personal mandate from God. Eenwahs, they feel, will be a better place once they have passed legislation that eliminates public education and funnels tax payer funding towards Catholic and Christ-based schools. They know, in their hearts, that the founding fathers really didn’t intend for there to be a separation of church and state and in secret talks, they plan to bring in the Phelps family to help finalize later legislation as they create a theocratic midwest. A few insiders, who are becoming concerned, revealed early plans involving stake burnings and drownings for union members, homosexuals, non-christians, welfare mothers, Democrats, public school teachers, orphans, and any woman who has ever had an abortion or even considered one. As you can imagine, even members of the radical Sessadumb party realize that they need to keep these secret plans under wrap lest they instigate a mass exodus before their plans are fully realized.

Other items on the agenda, according to insiders, include an elimination of minimum wage and publicly funded police and fire departments. State welfare organizations are already moving forward quickly and Sessadumbs are said to be ecstatic with the transfer of Child Support Enforcement to the private sector. There have been multiple happy hours spent mocking Kansas employees who are about to lose their jobs and, in turn, their hard earned retirement. Mimi and Terb were observed during one such gathering to blow diet coke out of their noses while discussing Kansas immigrants being shot from helicopters. Apparently, the visual was so funny that a peer had to perform CPR on Terb, giving him brief insight into what an actual relationship might be like.

Sessadumbs master plans are moving along nicely and as citizens of Eenwahs start to see their taxes go up, their schools disappear, their public services diminish, their laws become Sharia-like, their union based businesses migrate to other states with lightening speed, and their university funded hospitals become the laughing stock of the medical community, we can hope, faintly, that maybe there will be a revolt of epic proportions in order to take back what was once a sensible, pragmatic, supportive, and tolerant community and state.

As long as Eenwahs and Kansas citizens fail to research their candidates, it could be a long time before that revolt happens.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Life in Five Words II - Be a Super Hero Snail

I began my run today in an angry, unhappy mood. It seems that as I move closer to my mid 40’s, this happens more and more. I don’t doubt the inevitability of menopause or drastic mood swings, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Nor does it mean I will necessarily glide through with grace or poise. In fact, I’m pretty certain I’m going to have moments where I’m the exact person I wrote about in my last “blog” (if you can call two sentences blasting the human race a “blog posting”).

I made a major discover today regarding the future: I want to be a Hero Snail.

It rained last night; a heavy, windy, violent rain that woke me from a dead sleep. As I looked outside, I imagined every single deck cushion flying into the woods. So many things happen in nature after a heavy rain like this. As humans, we simply don’t have the time or imagination to explore it. Running on a cement path the morning after just such a rain gives a person ample opportunity to see nature in all her majesty and me, in particular, a reason to get off my pre-middle aged angry pot.

The first one I noticed seemed to be a small clot of dirt. The next few I thought were small berry-like things. Then I noticed slight movement….and then a thin wet trail. They were snails, hundreds of them. They weren’t in a pack, although I never really thought about whether or not snails were “pack” animals (would you even classify them as animals? Really?). Each snail was heading across the cement, on his own path. None of the paths were absolutely clear although you could tell by the wet trail the direction the snails were moving. There were places where it appeared they would stop and then veer a certain way, then stop….you get the idea.

They were slow too. So slow that at one point, feeling bad for a rather large one, I found myself turning back so I could pick him up and move him to the edge. He just continued his slow slide as I ran on down the path.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: I’m a snail. I think we probably all are. As we slowly move along the path of our lives, it is impossible to see very far ahead. These snails have no idea what is at the end of the pavement. They also have no idea what the path they’ve left behind them looks like or who might run over the wet ribbon. What we’ve done, where we’ve gone, it’s all like that trail behind the snail. Humans can never have full knowledge of what we’ve left in our wake, whether it is something we randomly said to someone or some act we’ve committed. And here’s the thing. The snail doesn’t mean for its path to BE what it is. The snail is simply moving forward because it must. Sometimes we do or say things with no awareness or intent for who or what might be impacted or how.

There is a difference, though. Humans have the capacity to understand that there really are some things we do that can and will affect others. We can’t carry the burden of always making the right choices. By the same token, we should carry the burden of trying our best to treat people and things with respect so that our trail isn’t littered with regret.

So there I was, running along while psychoanalyzing the snails and feeling like a light bulb had gone off in my brain when I had to make a decision. At the end of the path, I could go into the end of a cul-de-sac and make a loop or I could cheat and turn around immediately. I chose the loop.

Because of this one choice, I became the benefactress of a young child’s “snail trail”. At the end of a driveway, a 3-4 year old boy was in his own absolutely beautiful and magical world. He was wearing a t-shirt and sweats but tied around his neck was a magnificent silver cape. He was fighting fiercely, as only a Superman or Batman could, and driving the villains off his drive.

The little boy did not see me at first and I was blessed to watch him, uninterrupted, as he slashed back and forth, ducked and dodged his opponents. I swear, in those moments, I could SEE the Joker battling him. My little Super Hero would not be deterred, though, and in a final driving push the Joker was defeated and left in a crumpled pile at the foot of the driveway.

It was then that the Hero noticed a strange old woman with a dog on a leash staring at him with a massive smile on her face and he turned quickly, running into the house, to the safety of his mother or father. Yes, I’m pretty certain a 4 year old boy would consider a 43 year old woman “old”!

It all came together in that moment. The snail’s plodding journey….our own, however life leads….a child’s imagination…..and the joy it gave me, having stumbled upon the thread of this Super Hero’s battle. He will never know how much happiness he gave a stranger in those few moments and I will never know his name. We impact each other, whether we like it or not. How we impact each other, however, is the true lesson in all this.

I was angry this morning and almost didn’t run. By choosing nature and activity, I was reminded that we have no choice but to move through life, one way or another. The path we leave is something that will impact our fellow humans whether we want it to or not. My message today, for myself, is to try to treat people with more respect and kindness and to always remember that somebody, somewhere, is watching.

What kind of trail do you want to leave?

Life in five words

People can be real assholes. That's all I've got today.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dear WSU Shockers Fans from a Jayhawk

Dear Wichita State Fans,

You’ve been on my mind quite a bit lately. I’ve been where you are and because of this, I’m going to share some valuable insight and advice, free of charge. I hope that at least one of you listens.

In 1988, KU won an NCAA National Championship. They were a Cinderella team, weighing in as a lofty six seed. It had been 36 years since their previous NCAA title, and although they made the Final Four in 1986, it had been over a decade since they had been there. We played the most powerful team in the country ….and beat them, in spite of the prognosticators and the odds.

Be ready, Shockers, because your special team this year could win it all as well. This is why I happily and freely offer this advice and why it is so darn impossible to avoid catching the Shocker fever and hopping onto the bandwagon.

It is HARD to make it to the Final Four. Just ask Coach K, Coach Williams, Coach Knight, Coach Izzo, Coach Pitino & Coach Self. Notice I’m not including Coach Calipari….he doesn’t have a hard time getting there (unless you include this year’s NIT single game “run”…no, I couldn’t resist), just a hard time keeping the banners. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you have the best team. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you have the best player. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you have the best coach. Coach V's NC State run showed it the best: you have to “survive and advance”. (and, by the way, if you haven't seen ESPN's documentary on Coach Valvano's team then watch it....THIS WEEK!!!). One weaker game, one outstanding opponent on just THAT one night, one insane three point shooter, one injury, one off night, one poor play, one missed shot, one made shot, one bad call, one foul, one missed free throw, one made free throw……any single one of these things can mean the difference between a team going home and a team advancing; regardless of whether or not you are North Carolina or Butler. It’s like running a gauntlet and dodging bullets.

Shockers, you’ve run the gauntlet and dodged the bullets. Here’s the thing, though. You haven’t been lucky. You aren’t a mid-major that just happened to have one insane night of shooting to knock off a better team only to get your butts kicked in the next game (yes, gulp, as a Jayhawk fan I’ve experienced this on more than one occasion). You are winning your games, against much higher seeds, decidedly.

So here’s my advice as a self-proclaimed expert on following a Final Four team. Get your butts off the couch and to Atlanta. I’m serious. These things are not a guarantee, they are rare and they are special. Do you want to be the fan who listens with envy when someone, ten years from now, talks about what it was like to see the Shockers cut down the nets in an epic National Championship upset???? Do you want to always wonder what it would be like to attend a Final Four…..when YOUR team is in it??? Final Fours are awesome and even more so when your team is the story, when your team is the underdog, and when your team hasn’t been there in 48 years. Drive, it’s easy. Go on Craigslist to find a hotel room (there are Ohio State fans dumping them, I’m sure, along with tickets to the semi-finals) or call an old friend/family member and crash on their couch. When you win on Saturday, Louisville fans will be practically giving away their tickets to the Championship. This is hot folks and it’s now or never.

Can’t make it to Atlanta? Okay, sometimes these things aren’t possible. Here’s some other advice: plan where you are going to be watching the games now. Not on Saturday morning, when you won’t be able to find a seat anywhere in town. Send someone to the bar to hold your table all day (send them with money, by the way). If you want to watch at home with friends, plan it now. These things can’t wait until the last minute, because this excitement and this fervor will be fleeting. This is the week folks. This is the one week where you get to bask in your team, bask in their run, and immerse yourself in this magic. Watch this game surrounded by other Shocker fans. You will high five, scream, curse, jump up and down, hug, cry…..all in the arms of fellow fans who understand you. It is exhilarating and you will feel alive.

Buy the Sports Illustrated edition with the Shockers gracing the cover. Buy several for those friends who don’t fully appreciate how cool this issue will be. Get the team’s autograph on it as soon as an opportunity presents itself along with Coach Marshall’s. Then, my Shocker friends, frame it and hang it proudly on your wall.

There will be at least one book published at some time on this amazing run. Watch for it and buy it. You will read back through it years from now and smile as you recall the rush of the 2013 March Madness. Buy the t-shirts. Smack talk KU and KSU fans because, after all, they were supposed to go further and for once in a very long time, you don’t have to hear about the Jayhawks this week. The national media and the Kansas media are talking about your beloved Shockers.

Keep the front page of the sports section and tuck it away. Go online and purchase the official Final Four poster from Atlanta so that you can frame it. If the Shockers bow out before winning a Championship, you’ll want the evidence of this monumental achievement. If they win it all, buy the National Championship poster and frame it along with your newspaper clippings. Oh, and get ready to buy another Sports Illustrated because your amazing Shockers will be gracing the cover again.

Above all, believe in them this week. Your team plays defense. They shut down Aaron-Freaking Craft!!! They have a sixth and seventh man who can hit clutch shots when it matters. And the Shockers, playing loose, believe they can win.

I don’t know what will happen this weekend. None of us does. That’s the crazy thing about the tournament. What I do know, is this: when it comes to my own beloved Jayhawks, I always plan for the best and on those rare occasions when the stars align and it all comes together in one beautiful blend, I’m always happy that I’ve made the absolute most of the experience by either being there or creating the most memorable environment possible.

They have given you this gift, now go out there and preserve it. After all, WSU may just have a few more shocks left in them.