Daily Archives: June 4, 2018

The lady who mailed back a letter President Trump wrote her. With corrections. A ballboy/player collision at the French Open shows great humanity. And a pretty fantastic graduation speech from Ira Glass on the future of journalism

Good morning, fellow humans (and hi to any bots that might be clicking on my blog and driving up traffic. Thanks, robots!). Your humble blogger is a little pooped today after going upstate for a fantastic wedding Sunday night. Great food, great DJ, great venue… it was all-around fabulous.

And so I’m in a great mood, so even on yet another weekend where the lies and outright abuse of power (and frightening assertions from the Orange Man’s lawyers) continued to pile up outside the White House, I want to start with what I thought was a pretty funny, small story I liked.

A woman named  Yvonne Mason taught English in Greenville, S.C. for 17 years in middle and high schools, and she’s a pretty big stickler for spelling and grammar (as am I, which is maybe why I liked this story so much.)

She writes letters to politicians quite frequently, letting them know her views, and recently she’d written a letter to President Trump after the massacre of children in the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Quite surprisingly, she received a hand-written letter in response, signed by Donald Trump himself.

And just like in his Tweets, there were misspellings, random capitalization, and other odd word choices.

Some people would be thrilled to get a letter from the U.S. President. They might frame or laminate it.

Not Mrs. Mason. She took out her purple pen, circled and corrected all the errors, then sent it back to the White House.

“If I had received this from one of my students,” she told The Washington Post, “I would have handed it back without a grade on it and said, ‘I hope you left the real one at home.’ ”

I have no idea if Trump wrote the letter. But why would a speechwriter or someone else purposely and intentionally misspell things?

God bless you, Yvonne Mason. English teachers are the best.

**Next up today, being a ballboy at a pro tennis tournament can be a tough job. Players barking at you to bring them towels (one day someone will explain to me why today’s players must towel off after EVERY point, when 20 years ago Agassi and Sampras would play 20-shot rallies and then somehow be fine), toss them a certain ball, or other menial task.

But what you don’t expect is to get accidentally clobbered by a player. But this young fellow at the French Open on Friday was trying to catch an errant show when he was clobbered by No. 26 ranked Damir Dzuhmur. Dzuhmur was a real nice guy about it afterwards, look how concerned he is. The kid turned out to be fine.

But ballboys: Be careful out there.

**Finally today, been meaning to write about this for a few days now. Ira Glass, who many of you know as the host of NPR’s wildly awesome and wildly successful show “This American Life,” gave a graduation speech to the class at Columbia Journalism School, and it was fantastic. It was hopeful, it was funny, it was realistic, and in this time of so much doom and gloom about journalism and the news, I found it delightfully refreshing.

I just want to quote two passages here, but I highly, highly recommend reading the whole thing here.

First, Ira’s opening was terrific:

Welcome to the next phase of your life. It’s gonna be amazing. There’s a war in this country over facts and truth – and it’s not clear how it’s gonna play out and congratulations – you’re heading to the front lines.

I know those are words every parent wants to hear.

Second, this part spoke to me, too:

I’m guessing some of you are focused and directed and you know exactly what you want to do. But I bet many of you are like I was all through my 20s, when I really struggled to figure out how to do work that was meaningful to me. The work I do now really came from that long experience of being lost and trying to invent something that made sense to me. And seemed special to me. Something I was actually good at.

So if in the coming months and years … you feel lost and you’re stuck in some job that isn’t what you want … I just wanna say to you and to your parents … that’s normal. You’re not crazy. Happens to lots of us. You just have to get in there and make stuff and try things and push yourself hard and that’s the only way to find your way.

This was great, too:

Don’t wait. Make the stuff you want to make now. No excuses. Don’t wait for the perfect job or whatever. Don’t wait. Don’t wait. Don’t wait. One of the advantages of being a journalist is you don’t need permission. You can go and run down the story now and then find a home for it. Pay someone you respect – pay a friend – a little money to be your editor and the person you talk to about your next steps. Don’t wait. You have everything you need. Don’t wait.

Really great stuff from Glass. Barack Obama used to talk about “the fierce urgency of now,” and I always loved that expression. Kids graduating college today are going to change the world, I just hope they start really soon.

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