Things I’ve been contemplating since I pulled back on my blogging here at That’s Church:
1. Is it possible to truly cancel a birthday? I’d like to neuralyze that date out of my entire family’s brains if possible because mine is hereby canceled on account of all I want for my birthday is the opportunity to kick Father Time in his saggy sack of nuts. I’m sick of how fast time is going. I’m sick of notching ever higher on my children’s growth charts. Flattening their hair with gel and a comb and telling them to slouch before measuring just isn’t working anymore. They’re on to me. I’m considering cutting their milk supply. I assume calcium helps kids grow or what were all those “… I’m drinking milk and before you know it I’ll be turning the heads of your friends, and I won’t even acknowledge you’re my brother!” commercials for when we were growing up?
2. If Oreck could harness the power of Nate McLouth’s suck, they could probably invent a vacuum capable of sucking up an entire newspaper.
3. I’d like to punch this Dan guy in the throat. If he’s your professor, punch him in the throat for me. I’ll bail you out.
4. I should probably get therapy for violence. But I’m afraid it will dilute my pigeon hate.
5. What would Mister Rogers do?
I meant it when I told you that watching the Mister Rogers & Me documentary changed how I look at my life. In fact, watching it, learning about who Fred was and what he believed in and the impact he had on people’s lives is one of the things that helped me make the decision to pull back from this site a bit — to take some time to figure out how my time writing could be best spent. Is it on this site picking nits in a shallow way, or is there a more meaningful, deeper story in me?
Not that I don’t love picking nits and that I won’t continue to pick certain nits that deserve to have their nits picked, Dr. Suess. If a nitpick could pick nits, how much nits should a nitpick pick if a nitpick could, is the question though.
It was MTV producer Benjamin Wagner’s look at his friend Fred Rogers that really made me look at myself and I tell you that so if you want to blame someone, you can go find Mister Rogers’ grave and give it a good long what for.
I had the great fortune of interviewing Benjamin Wagner for my Pittsburgh Magazine blog and I wanted to encourage you to take a look at it so that you can learn what you didn’t know about Fred Rogers. That he was once overweight. Bullied. Sad. Different. And how that made him into the Mister Rogers we knew and how it affected how he treated people — every single one the same. Every single one the most important person on the Earth.
And learn how in his seventies he struck up an unlikely friendship with then 30-year-old Benjamin Wagner.
Here are the questions I asked Benjamin:
1. That first time you went to Mister Rogers’ cottage in Nantucket, you brought your guitar with you. Why?
2. As each interview progressed, I noticed that every person said similar things about Mister Rogers. Common themes seemed to come out in each one. Deepness. Simplicity. Bringing the inner person to the outside. Goodness. It’s okay to be who you are. Being present in the moment, etc. As you were conducting the interviews, did you notice that too, and if so, what did that mean to you?
3. I never realized how many deep and absolutely profound things Mister Rogers said in his life. Other than the “deep and simple” quote, what’s your favorite thing Mister Rogers ever said?
4. Did you relate at all to Mister Rogers using music as a child to soothe the hurts of his life? Crying through his fingers, I think is how it was put.
5. While filming this documentary, did you learn anything about Mister Rogers that you didn’t already know?
If you want to watch the documentary, you can buy it on DVD or iTunes or you can win a Benjamin Wagner- signed copy of the DVD right now!
To enter, just leave a comment and so you have something to say, tell me what you remember most about Mister Rogers — a fond memory, a certain episode, meeting Mister McFeely, the terrifying Lady Elaine Fairchilde — anything.
My favorite memory is simply anything he did in his kitchen. I cannot explain the appeal, but the way he comported himself in there whether he was decorating a cake for “YOU!” or showing us different sizes of batteries, it was a comforting place where his soft, slow words taught so much and held so much weight. Contrast that with my kitchen which regularly is a place of confusion, chaos, silent profanity, flour clouds and intervallic screaming smoke alarms.
One comment per valid email address! You have until next Friday, June 1 at noon to enter at which time Random.org will pick the lucky winner and I’ll put that DVD in the mail and maybe I’ll throw another surprise in the envelope for you. I promise no baked goods.