Archive for writing


// July 30th, 2009 // No Comments » // Flash, Photoshop, Portfolio, archive, interface design, web design

Cintas Health Care

Front-end design and development of HTML, CSS and javascript templates. I incorporated existing and new Flash content including video. I created a master suite of templates, graphics, library elements and menus working across all major browsers. Lead Designer on this project was Courtney Brengard at Cintas.

Cintas Gaming

Food Service Equipment & Supplies

// December 18th, 2008 // No Comments » // Portfolio, interface design, web design, writing

Food Service 411

Front-end design and development of Food Service Equipment & Supplies site, developed with HTML, CSS and javascript. Content for this site was also shared and updated dynamically on several other sites and electronic communications.

Client: Reed Business Systems

The First (Grade) Thanksgiving

// November 9th, 2006 // No Comments » // writing

Ricky and I had been assigned to do a project together in first grade. It was near Thanksgiving and in the spirit of the season, we were partnered up and given some modeling clay. All we had to do was to make some food from the First Thanksgiving. It wasn’t truly difficult; we were in first grade, after all. I had all kinds of ideas about what we could make. I was actually excited about it and was eager to get started. The two of us went to Ricky’s house, since it was closer from school. I had never been over to his house before, but his family was nice and his mom got us all situated with a table to work at, just for the two of us! This never happened at our house. We rarely had a room, let alone a table to ourselves to work on something. Ricky was an only child, so he didnt have to share. It was exhilarating! I spread out, ready to create some art.

Ricky wasn’t used to sharing much, but he was polite enough at first. He just didn’t care to share the responsibility of the project. We were both having fun with the clay, but he wasn’t being serious about it. I was serious for the both of us, my sleeves rolled up

I loved working in the clay, especially art clay. It was different than Play-Doh, which is what I usually had to work with. I loved using Play-Doh, but I hated the smell that lingered on my hands. It would make me gag afterwards and I would scrub it with the most caustic soaps I could find in order to get rid of it. But modelling clay’s smell was wonderful. It was soothing and more earthy. The colors blended better than Play-Doh, which almost glowed with its color, screaming “toy” versus “art”.

I made a pumpkin right away. It was a bit browner than I intended, but you could still see what it was. I quickly made another, smoothing the grooves with my thumbs, a potter with his clay, forming life of the earth… the bountiful food spilling out of the cornucopia (which I could never remember the name of). I glanced over at Ricky to see what he had formed. “Look!” he giggled. “I made a butt!”

I was mortified! “We don’t have much clay, Ricky! You should start with the other vegetables!” He wasn’t listening to me.

“Ha ha! I made some yellow eyes!” He held them up in front of his own, leering at me. He was giddy with laughter and I knew that I couldn’t depend on Ricky any more. He was like the guy on the desert island who ends up spilling all the water. His eyes were crazed as he started work on a foot. A red foot!

“Give me that!” I demanded, grabbing the rest of the yellow and starting on an ear of corn. I knew that I had to think for myself at this point. I tried to make some squash with the leftover yellow. I had to take some of the red, left over from the foot Ricky was making. In the end, I molded the foot he had started into a crude pepper. I smiled. It was looking rather brown.

Ricky had put me in a real mess, all right. I didn’t know how we were getting out of this. I surveyed our horde… not much to speak of. We had two pumpkins, a few squash, an ear of corn. Courtesy of Ricky, we als had two poorly formed butts, a pair of yellow eyes and a foot. I formed the two butts Ricky had made into a another pumpkin, to Ricky’s yells of protest. “Those butts are mine!” he howled. “Listen!” I screamed. “Your butts have to feed the pilgrims through the winter, stupid!” He had the grace to look ashamed and I continued to save our butts, finishing our project.

In the end, we displayed our harvest the next Monday morning at school, among all the other kids’ projects. Dismayed, I saw more than a few questionably shaped fruits and vegetables. I’m sure I saw a car shaped tomato and a banana that looked like a rocket. I realized that the point of this was to think about Thanksgiving and about what we were all thankful for. I smiled as I gave thanks that I didn’t have to survive the winter depending only on my fellow classmates.


// August 2nd, 2006 // No Comments » // writing

My mother made us lunch every day before school and put it in a paper bag for us to take with us. She’d take care to make our favorite sandwiches, cut to perfection better than a deli, piled high with lettuce, tomato and dressing. She’d wrap this up in plastic. Then my Mom would take an apple, peach or pear and place it wrapped in a paper towel. Invariably, we would grab this bag without looking and upend the contents so that by the time lunch came, the sandwich would have an
exact crater made by the fruit. This was our own fault and we knew it.

We’d also get some homemade cookies and a personal note. I’d try to read this note ahead of time and pocket it because a note from your Mom at lunch was good for at least a few hours of good-natured teasing. I got picked on a lot as it was… I didn’t need to give them reasons.

One day, I was in a hurry to get to my ride. Sometimes my grandfather, Pa, picked us up early to get to school. Other times we’d walk to a bus. But invariably, we were late leaving the house, our shirts not tucked in, our ties still not tied. We were trailing homework from our books and had to grab various things on the way, a book, our coats, our shoes. It was almost a reverse circuit of the house that we had made the previous afternoon. Clever detectives could probably deduce how old each child was and often how badly they had to go to the bathroom, because the trail would end there.

In such a hurry, I grabbed the bag on the counter. “Don’t forget your lunch, my Mom called from the front door. She’d hold it open and kiss us all good-bye on the way out. It was a safer way of making sure she’d gotten each child, kissed them good-bye, wished them a good day, blessed them with a sign of the cross on their forehead. My parents gave
communion each Sunday at church and it carried over through the week. She could also quickly administer any first-aid on the way out, because she was the resident doctor of the house, as well.

If anyone sneezed or coughed on the way out, it was also an excuse to lift their heads and check down their throat for redness. My mother would ask us to tilt our heads back and say, “Aaaaaah!” which was almost automatic, because she’d tilt it for us and we’d react in stunned surprise. It was almost as if she wanted to sneak up on the germs and
surprise them out of our bodies. It certainly caught us by surprise. Finding nothing, she’d send us on our way, off to wreak havoc outside of the house.

When I finally got to school, my friend, Kevin was there. He lived down the street from me and his parents and mine were friends. I saw that he had a lunch bag similar to mine. I said, “Did your Mom make your lunch, too?”

He said, “No, Danny, this is your lunch. Your Mom gave it to me to give to you.”

“But I already have my lunch! See?” I held up my bag which had gotten nice and soft at the top, very pliable, the way I liked it. Some people like their lunch bags stiff and unblemished, but I think it’s easier to carry this way. And if you’re a nervous kid, it’s a great thing to grab and crush when something uncertain wakes you up in the morning before
you’re ready.

“Your Mom gave me yours. She said that you took a bag of peaches.”

“I- what?” I opened the bag and started laughing with Kevin. Inside the bag were five peaches… not my lunch, which I’d been expecting.

I thanked Kevin and laughed again as he ran to his locker. Then I stared at the peaches in my hand. I thought about my Mom, not only making lunch, saying goodbye, blessing me and checking my throat… but also somehow getting my lunch to Kevin down the street before he went to school. I thought about the note in my lunch bag, the real one. I wanted
to well up with tears and bawl. There were 5 peaches in this bag and there were 5 of us besides my Mom. She bought peaches for everyone in the house but her. I have to take these home. I’m going to fail the family if I don’t get these peaches home!

When I got home, my Mom and I had a long laugh over my taking the peaches to school with me. Then we laughed even harder when I told her I brought them home again. She said that I was silly that I should have shared them with my friends. She pulled out another paper bag and there were 5 more peaches in the bag. It took a long time to stop laughing
long enough to eat them!

Tivo Power

// July 6th, 2006 // No Comments » // writing

Recently my wife Lisa and I have been indoctrinated into the cult of Tivo. Digital Video Recording is an amazing experience for us and has taken us off of network scheduling. It really is TV at the touch of a button and I’ve felt like George Jetson. We may watch more TV, but the TV that we do watch is on our time. Our life doesn’t revolve around the hour or half-hour any more. If we’re a little late after work and don’t get to the show when it starts, no matter. We can watch it from the beginning while it’s still recording. I feel like I’m in a time machine.

The last time I watched a DVD was weeks ago. I haven’t sullied my hands with a tape or DVD in weeks. Because everything is digital, there’s nothing to unwrap, open, misplace, degrade or scratch. It’s all in the remote. I feel like a Roman emperor seated on a divan pointing a sceptre. Of course, this makes the remote an almost holy thing. It sits on a shrine. Lately I’m wondering if I’m paying enough attention to the remote.

But Tivo has changed our lives in more ways than that. Because of Tivo, we have to redecorate our entire living room. I’m glad that I’m saving money on renting and buying DVDs, because we need this money to buy new furniture. Let me explain.

When the service man came to install the unit, he was quick and knowledgable. I might be a little affected by all of those customer response surveys, but all of the Direct TV people get “five out of five” in satisfaction. Especially with their cleanliness and appearance. Before these surveys came after installations, I never thought to grade them on their appearance. As soon as they’re not looking, though, I start making notes. I always check in the most flattering rating unless the installers actually smell or emit noxious fumes, neither of which has ever happened.

Installation of Tivo went fine, but there was a small problem in fitting the unit into our entertainment center. There was just not enough room in the cabinet to fit everything, so it had to go on top, along with two other units, a receiver and CD player. As much as we enjoy our new appliances, we now need a new entertainment center. We choose and purchase a new piece of furniture and are delighted when it arrives at our door, solid and made with sturdy wood. This is a terrific unit, about as solid a construction of wood that I’ve ever purchased. I feel proud as it comes all together.

There is surprisingly little swearing uttered as we move pieces from the old unit (which has started to sag) into the new piece. In the back of this excitingly solid amoire, there is a solid piece of wood. The existence of this solid piece of wood is captivating to me and I stare at it with a certain sense of awe. Most of this type of furniture in the past had cardboard or particle board backing or it was in two or more pieces. Not our amoire! This is solid wood, securely fastened with 27 small screws around its edges. In the center, looking like an afterthought is a round two-inch hole. This is where we need to thread all the wires, cables and power cords.

A few hours into the operation, I’m covered in sweat, holding a lamp since the flashlight broke. I’m stuffed like a Pillsbury crescent roll into the guts of the unit. I’m reaching towards this two-inch hole like a diver’s last source of air and light. As we attempt to thread all these black cords through the tiny holes, it occurs to me that this has been designed for human brains to assemble, but we are the wrong customers. This furniture can only be put together by monkey people. These are beings who I have surmised are of exceeding brightness and intelligence, but also possessing very long legs and arms to latch onto tiny places in shelves to hold ends of cords.

Neither of us had thought it would take very long, perhaps a half hour. I had taped and labeled all of the cords ahead of time and I knew where they should go. We hadn’t figured on needing the agility of a spider monkey. It was the monkey people joke that kept us laughing instead of yelling at each other. We kept laughing after two hours only reverting to very short, hastily spoken answers sometimes barked. At one point some cords had to be replaced with longer ones, but we managed to fix that with a quick run to the basement.

Moving the TV was the hardest part. This TV has a 29 inch screen. It’s very nice, but not the most expensive or even largest. Even so, there were some apparent handholds in unlikely places. Some of these looked more like places to get your hands stuck rather than actual grips. Some looked like mock handgrips, as if the manufacturers were taunting us, “Yes! Grip it HERE and watch it flip forwards onto its expensive TV screen!” There were no handgrips at the very bottom beneath the heavy and extremely fragile picture tube. Still we managed to lift it up onto the shelf without shattering the TV or any bones. I think that this part of the procedure would have also been easy for the monkey people to accomplish. They might even have laughed. I’m sure that none of them would have made the noises that my wife and I made. I couldn’t decide if I should crush my fingers beneath the TV first, then wait for my wife to get her hand there or wait for her to yell, “Lift! My hand is getting crushed!” before I acted. The good news is that I don’t think that we have to worry about anyone taking this TV. It is not moving from this spot.

As it neared midnight, we were just a few components away, but cords were still disconnected and the TV was sideways. We were both nearing the end of our patience and ability to answer in calm, non-swearing answers. I saw Lisa with a screwdriver in hand behind the amoire. “What are you doing?” I screamed, perhaps louder than I’d intended. I was like the guy who panics in the disaster films, the one who ends up losing all the water. I had to reign myself back.

“I’m going to remove these screws!” she yelled. She sounded like someone in a hostage situation on a TV crime drama. I moved in to talk her down.

“Don’t do it! There’s 27 of them!”

“We can take this entire back piece off!” Lisa moved in with the screwdriver and started to turn the first screw.

I gently grabbed her arms. “Really, we’re almost there. Put the screwdriver down.”

Lisa did put the screwdriver down and we started to place the last components in. “Monkey people,” I cried and we shared an uneasy laugh. We reconnected everything and started moving things back into place, checking all the cords, plugging everything back in. I was filled with an eager confidence. I didn’t have any parts left over and everything was lighting up the right way. I turned on the TV with a flourish and smiled as it flashed the lovely logos that let me know that these were the people I’d be paying to get all of this great stuff to work. I always think it’s funny that you can always tell the poofed up logos from the error messages telling you something’s wrong. So when I see the logos, I know I’m all right.

For about a week or so after installation, as I sat back to enjoy it all, I’d hear unsettling noises from around the house, as Lisa tended to the chain reaction of home decorating that the addition of one piece of furniture can cause. Things would be moving and I’d hear the sound of moving furniture, a pounding hammer… often in the same room that I was in. My wife doesn’t often tell me when things need to be moved. She just does it, often requiring my assistance only halfway through the process when something else is in the way. Sometimes it’s me that’s in the way. Lisa may be the kind of person who can move furniture right away, but I need a little notice. At least enough notice to get out of the way.

After we moved the other furniture back into place and settled in to watch an episode of our favorite show, Lisa realized that we needed a new couch. Tivo, this is all your fault!

The Camper

// July 6th, 2006 // No Comments » // archive

When I was seven or eight years old we had already travelled quite bit around the Chicagoland and Lake Geneva area, camping with a pop-up camper attached to my Dad’s Dodge van. We had such a fun time camping and hiking and have many stories to tell. This is one of the early ones.

It was the end of another happy vacation and we were on our way home. My parents were in front, my Dad driving along the expressway not knowing what I had in store for him. My Mom was sitting next to him in the “co-pilot seat” that we all wanted desperately to claim as the high point of status in our childhood years. The sole higher eschelon of status was to actually sit in our Dad’s lap and steer the vehicle “home”.

We sat in the next two rows of seats, quietly reading comic books or story books. I must have read my Donald Duck comic three or four times over, so I was looking for something exciting to end the trip. And then in the recesses of my prepubescent mind, an idea began to form. I started to chuckle already, thinking that I really had a winner here.

My sister Gina, who was no more than five looked over to see what was so funny. I leaned over and whispered to my co-conspirator. Between giggles, I told her what I was going to do. She giggled with me, however she must have been wiser than I was because she said “Maybe you shouldn’t. You might get in trouble!”

Trouble! What was trouble when the possibility for fun and excitement was at hand? If I pull this off, I’ll get one-up on Dad and maybe even my brother Nick would think it was high comedy. No, I was determined to take hold of the moment and step into the spotlight.

A little nervous, I glanced back to look out of the back windows. Through the double doors of the Dodge van, I could see the pop-up camper trudging behind faithfully as we sped down the highway at 60 miles per hour. The sun glinted off of its fiberglass top. This was the moment. I swallowed carefully and took a deep breath.

I let it out with all the force my body could muster. “DAD! THE CAMPER’S GONE!”

There was a brief moment when all time stopped and I could see my Dad’s terrified grimace as he slowed our van down and pulled over to the side of the road. We were all jostled like astronauts heading for splashdown. I grabbed onto the armrest, my grin plastered to my face, still thinking what a good joke this was. I could hear the squeal of the tires as we came abruptly to a stop.

The whine of the other cars whizzing past us was the only sound we heard for a few moments as my Dad tore his fingers off of the steering wheel. He looked at each one of us to see if we were alright and then he looked at me, still confused but at this moment not realizing the cruel trick I had pulled.

He looked through the windows and saw that the camper was STILL THERE. Astonished, he looked at me and all the panic and fury bore down on me as he asked me and all of the universe “It’s not gone! Why’d you say that, Dan?!”

In that moment, I probably could have said any excuse and made up for it. We were safe, the vehicles were safe and after a short trip home my parents could both change their underwear. I’m sure I could have thought up any number of reasons. The sun was in my eyes. I panicked. I really thought it was gone.

Yet my parents had raised me to tell the truth and that’s just what I did.

“I just wanted to see what you would do.”

My mother saved my life at that point, urging my father not to kill me and instead to get back on the road and start driving home. A soliloquy of swearing followed us home like a demonic soundtrack punctuated by my name at various points. As a harmony, my mother’s soothing voice interjected at times to enable my dad to stay seated and not strap me to the top of the camper for the rest of the journey home.

To be honest, there was so much to do once we got there that all of my father’s anger was directed at unloading the camper and unpacking. By the time he actually got to speaking with me without swearing, telling me how foolish this had been, I had learned the lesson many times over, as well as many other words that I had never heard before.

To this day, I know that curious children are far more dangerous than malicious children, which is why I know that I am doomed. I know that I will not have malicious, cruel children, but rather curious children who will always be wondering “I just wanted to see what you would do.”

The Runaround

// June 25th, 2006 // No Comments » // writing

Each day has been a new Corporate Hoop, which has given me a chance to “bond” with co-workers. Some of the bonding is actual, some of it is the same bonding you might get while you experience a disaster together. Today was one of the “best” and when I say “best”, I mean it’s fun to rant about it later. And in actuality, compared to freelancing and begging for work, this is a piece of cake.

I was finally given an access card to allow me to enter in the building. Prior to this, a co-worker and myself “shared” one. By share, I mean that every time I left the office to get a snack, something to drink, lunch, etc., I had to bother them to borrow the card… or call them from my phone to tell them I was locked out. So today, nearly a week and a half later, I get an access card to allow me to get into the secure areas of the building.

When I went out for some coffee, I tried the card. It didn’t work! Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought clearly and I was now locked out…. and the bathrooms were on the other side of the door. There are bathrooms on the locked side, but they require a secret code.

When I finally buzzed back in the office, my supervisor told me to call an 800 number to have them activate the card. The logic of this had escaped me. Why had I been given a card if it hadn’t been made active? Anyone can give me an inactive card! Heck, I could have made one with some paper, some markers and some scissors (which I proudly had in my desk, behind the secure access door).

I called the access # and listened to the entire menu (because their menu options may have changed) and got a recording from Lisa. This is a different Lisa than my wife. But she wasn’t in and I was told in a very clear and detailed message that if I was an employee to leave my user id and if I was a contractor to leave four digits of my social security number. I fully intended to leave all my pertinent info on the message, even my passport number, if that would help. Except that her message mailbox was, ha-aha. FULL. Yep! It was FULL. Either Lisa is one popular person, she never clears her messages or (I’m betting) a lot of people have this problem. Maybe it’s all three. So I called back, listened to all the messages again (in all that time, the menu very well could have changed) again and this time I got her directly. When I read the # of the card, she said, “It has to be activated.” Shrewdly, I said, “Ah!” So she activated it and said that it would be 24 to 48 hours before it would be active.

In the meantime, I’ve been told by others in this group that a week and 1/2 is a FAST turnaround for a card. Because they still have their old “pre-merger” IDs. “What’s a long time?” I asked. 3-4 weeks is the usual time! I smartly told them that I hoped that my photo ID would still look like me when I got it!

The Bear

// June 14th, 2006 // No Comments » // writing

One summer, we toured the Smoky Mountains in Kentucky. We toured with one of my Dad’s good friends Lou and his family. On his own, my Dad is a lot of fun, but combined with his good friend, the two of them are hysterical together, at times even dangerous.

Despite the amusement of seeing our good friends and their own three children, on long car rides, there isn’t a whole lot to do. We even brought our dog with us, but the novelty of having a schnauzer leap up and down off of the seats of the van grows old after the 47th time, even for the dog. No amount of toys in the back seat, scenery out the windows or 1970s rock tunes can ease the boredom, however comic books are a godsend.

Many a comic took me away to an adventure of my own, whether it was having super powers and battling the enemies of the universe, laughing at the antics of Mickey, Goofy, Donald Duck and his nephews or even the (eventually) forbidden horror comics. These gruesome tales (of which Tales From The Crypt are based on) gave me more nightmares in dark rooms than anything I could dream up, yet I had to read on. They dealt with gruesome subject matter and the cover always showed something lurking in the depths of a basement that had me reading until I finished or the pages shook with terror.

I was either reading a superhero comic or a horror comic when the family van made an unauthorized stop. Lou’s station wagon was not far behind and also stopped. My father and Lou left the safety of the vehicle to see what was going on. Apparently there was some commotion up ahead that had cars stopped in both directions. Dad and Lou decided to check out the situation.

Fearless, curious and headstrong, they walked ahead, their wives staying With The Children. Most of the other drivers stayed in their vehicles, confident that the state troopers had things under control and they could continue driving. Of course, The Men knew that this was only the start of the adventure. Instead of driving to the adventure, the adventure had come to us!

The adventure in this case was a huge monstrous black bear. He was nine feet tall and probably was just as bored as I was. He emerged from the trees to stake out the picnic sites by the side of the road, perhaps lured by the smell from the trash cans. He looked deceptively gentle and sweet, with huge furry paws that could have taken off the side of the van in an accidental brush. His huge teeth gleamed in the July sun, his jowls and moist nose quivering, torn between a free meal and the shiny cars making a continual racket. The ground seemed to shake when he lumbered in our direction and his growl shook the windows as if he were confused at this new audience.

My father decided to capture his photo. With our mothers yelling both for the men to come back and for the kids to stay in the vehicle, they probably were disturbing the bear more than my father. Heedless of the danger, perhaps emboldened by the fact that this was free, they continued on. All the time, the other cars were honking, mothers were screaming and the bear was growling and roaring. I’m sure that this display wasn’t what the bear wanted and eventually he yawned, scratched himself and barreled back into the trees.

This whole process delayed us by no more than thirty or forty minutes, even though it took some time to get everyone back into their vehicles. Eventually the cars ahead of us moved ahead and my father climbed back into the van. Sweating a little from the excitement, he had a huge smile on his face and he handed the camera to my quivering mother. He leaned back to make sure that the whole family was in the vehicle and he glanced over to me.

“How about that bear, Dan?!”

I looked down from my Adventure comic book and blinked at him from behind my glasses. “What bear, Dad?”

I had missed it all! I blame it on my poor hearing, which has never been very good, or perhaps it was my devotion to reading. I have always been able to Tune Out The World when reading. Whatever the reason, in my search for something exciting, I had missed the best adventure of all. To this day, “What bear, Dad?” remains one of the family’s favorite phrases when one of us (usually me) has missed something unique that can never be repeated.

Treebeard Came Over Today

// May 26th, 2006 // No Comments » // writing

Well, actually it wasn’t Treebeard, but it sure could have been.

We had some overgrown trees that were blocking our satellite dish and that’s what started this whole thing. I called the Brookfield Tree Service over to get an estimate to remove these trees, some bushes and do some trimming. All in all, it wasn’t that bad, but he couldn’t actually come out until this morning.

The reception was so bad that I went out earlier this week and performed a small miracle. No the miracle is not that I fixed it (although I did), but rather that I still live. I sawed off the branch at the highest point I could reach (which wasn’t very high). Here’s where the miracle happens.

The tree branch just wobbled a bit to get out of the way of the dish, but it was stuck up there. I couldn’t move it or dislodge it… yet it was obviously separated from the branch. The miracle is that it didn’t fall and break something crucial (like my body).

They called last night to say that they were coming this morning at 7:30. Then they said they’d be here at 8:00. Since this is right when I drive Lisa to the train, I was worried. They’re on a schedule, so he said they couldn’t wait. So I said, “Go ahead and start without me.”

And they did. When I came home, I couldn’t park in the driveway. I asked Peter to look at some other trees I thought should go, as well.

The second after I explained this, two men immediately went over and started dragging this tree out of the way. I discovered quickly that it was important not to point things out unnecessarily. I mean there was barely enough time to stand clear. Maybe they have machetes for hands, like Edward Scissorhands. I wasn’t standing around to find out. In fact, I was lucky that I didn’t point to the wrong tree, or even my leg. They were that quick!

Ten minutes later, they were gone. The trees are gone…. the bush is gone. If Peter didn’t need a check from me, he would also have been gone.

Just to be careful, I’m not going to point at anything haphazardly today!

The Rosaries

// May 25th, 2006 // No Comments » // archive, writing

While I was in Sunday School one day, a someone in class told us about a Catholic belief that if you went to sleep with a rosary under your pillow, you would go straight to heaven if you died. I don’t know if a student told the class or the teacher himself, but no one could refute this, so I believed it with every ounce of my being. The opposite thought, that if you didn’t do this, even if you had led the most saintly life imaginable but had no access to a rosary, of course meant that you were going straight to hell. This didn’t occur to me until much later after I lay in bed with no rosary in sight.

I lay awake staring at the top bunk, the room mostly dark and the sound of my brother’s breathing. I couldn’t sleep with this going through my head. I don’t have rosary under my pillow, so I must be going straight to hell if I die. Over and over, this went, in my 10 year old mind. I don’t want to go to hell, I thought. Plus it’s just a simple thing to do, right? Just put it under your pillow and you’re fine! I knew that I had one in my dresser, so that’s what I did feeling its reassuring presence under my pillow. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, smiling as I started to nod off.

So even if I die in a fire tonight, I’m set, I thought. No problem! I’ll wake up and be in heaven because I haven’t done anything really wrong and I did remember the rosary. Saint Peter would see me at the gates of heaven, look up and see that I had my rosary and I’d waltz right on in there. Plus the rest of my family will be there and –

Oh NO! I gasped! The rest of my family! If they die, I’ll go to heaven, but they’re going to hell! I’ve got to make sure that they do the same thing. I sat up, narrowly missing my head on the top bunk (but safe because I had my rosary under my pillow). I ran downstairs into the den where my parents were.

Without asking them, I started rummaging through the drawers in the living room. I knew we had a bunch of them in one of these drawers, probably near these bibles, no maybe in this drawer… There’s one, that’s fine, there’s another. I counted two extra. I still needed at least 3 more. I knew we had to have more in the house! Plus I needed one for the dog, too! That’s 4 more rosaries! I wonder if Mom and Dad can share?

Now I did peer wildly in the den. My parents were watching television and I tried to explain to them why I needed 3, no 4 rosaries. My Mom said that we probably had enough for everyone, but that she was sure that we didn’t need to search for them all right now. We could think about it in the morning.

I burst into tears, two rosaries in one hand, one in the other (and one under my pillow) and told her that if the whole family was going to Hell, then I was, too and that I didn’t need one under my pillow!

“Who’s going to Hell?” my father asked, distracted by the news. “What’s the matter?”
My mother held me and in between small giggles explained that she was sure we were good people and that we’d wake up fine in the morning and that no one was going anywhere. (”Except to sleep,” my father grunted).

I did go to sleep, after first putting all of the rosaries away, including the one under my pillow. I felt that rosaries were meant to be prayed over anyway and not to be smushed under your head while you snored! I also felt that it was kind of hard to sleep with it under there because it reminded me that I might not wake up — and who can sleep at all like that?!