Friday, January 26, 2007

And that got me thinking

Bluffton Today column, January 26, 2007

It had to have been fate. Bluffton Today launched during the first week of April, 2005 – the same week that I made Bluffton home. I picked it up right away and found that I loved the idea of a hometown newspaper. It was a lesson in contradictions for me. Having spent the last few years stopping at Quick Chek in the morning for the Daily Record and the Star Ledger (whose Sunday papers averaged 5 lbs on a light news day) I realized that I did indeed move to a small town.

And, that got me thinking …

Surely there were other recent transplants who needed some help navigating their new hometown - and the New Hometown column was born a few months later.

I’ve been writing New Hometown for almost eighteen months now and living in Bluffton for almost two years, so I figured it was time for a change. (Stop the celebration naysayers, this is not my last column.) Oh, you’ll still get the scoop on everything Bluffton, but I wanted a little extra freedom to tackle any topic. So, a couple weeks ago I asked the readers for new column name suggestions.

Thank you to everyone who sent in some great ideas – Margie Anderson, Susan Heck, Sondra Goldberg, Linda Finch, Jack Osburn, Joanne Hackett and my Southern friend “Boots” whose suggestions, while tongue in cheek, would have gotten me fired in no time.

We (my editors and moi) ended up going with “And That Got Me …” - Some weeks you’ll get me thinking, other weeks you’ll get me hollering, and some weeks you’ll get me wondering. Same content different moniker.

When I put out the call for suggestions I promised a feature story on the winning contributor. And since the winner is me (balloons and confetti are falling around me as you read), here is a closer look at the girl you call “Jersey”.

I’m addicted to Chap Stick and reality television.

I didn’t get my first cavity until I was in college and I am proud to say that since that first discovery I have had no others.

I wear a size 10 shoe (ugh).

If I don’t wear my contacts or glasses I can’t see my hand in front of my face.

My golf swing closely mirrors my field hockey swing, which is why I still have not broken 100.

I celebrated my 5th wedding anniversary this past summer.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in social work and a Master’s degree in Corporate and Public Communication.

I am a millionaire and don’t have to work. I’m kidding - just trying to see if you were still reading.

I have a loud and obnoxious laugh (more like a cackle) and chances you’ve heard me in a restaurants and thought “what the heck is so funny over there.”

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

My cousin Michael is my hero.

I am afraid of heights.

I like to paint, draw, and create.

I hope you continue to read. It only gets better from here.

To the 42 Ohio natives who moved to Bluffton yesterday – welcome, this is wonderful place to live.

Courtney Naughton is a Jersey Shore native who moved to Bluffton. She brings the Jersey attitude to the Lowcountry.

Friday, January 19, 2007

An Eye Opening Experience

January 19, 2007 Bluffton Today column

When I lived “Up Nawth” I taught speech communication as an adjunct professor. I was scared to death the first day I stepped foot in the classroom. Lucky for me I had an 8:00 a.m. class with twenty doe-eyed recent high school graduates who had no idea what to expect. Frankly, I could do not wrong. Because if nothing else, I knew that I knew more than they did and the rest I was able to fake.

One of my favorite students from that first class, Andy, wrote the following in his class evaluation, “Northampton should only hire young, cool professors. Courtney was tough, but fair and even though she admitted at the end that she had never taught before, I never would have guessed.” Andy made me realize that I should take my own advice. And, what I had been preaching to him all semester – “the nerves are in your head, just relax” – was a mantra that I needed to remember.

Then of course I had the dope who actually went to the bathroom in his pants, at his desk, in my classroom. And no, it wasn’t the easy clean-up kind of “go”. The details are more than I need to share here, but that incident really made me reevaluate why the heck I was schlepping myself to a part-time job two or three times a week.

Over the course of three years I had some amazing students who taught me a lot. The difficult students challenged me and made me a better teacher. The straight-A students taught me a thing or two and made me grateful to be a part of their college experience.

The hardest task of all was getting the students to make eye contact with their audience and me when speaking. The nerves would kick in and suddenly the podium, their bracelet or the note cards in their hands became the most interesting items in the room. For three years and over 400 students eye contact was my nemesis.

Until now.

Last week I started teaching a Speech Course for Embry Riddle Aeronautical University at the Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort. Again, I was nervous. I was accustomed to a civilian audience and not quite sure what to expect from 16 Marines (and former Marines) and a one Navy man. Well, I got my answer - eye contact.

What a pleasure it was to see 17 sets of us eyes staring back at me whenever I spoke. Even more impressive was the student’s ability to make eye contact with every person in the room each time they spoke. Now, I know I what I have been missing. I believe the Marines are certainly teaching our guys and gals well.

Once I got past the eye contact phenomenon I wanted to better understand what it was that my students did each day at the Air Station. And suddenly, speech communication lost its luster. Here are 17 men and women who are maintaining, and testing F-18s and all of the paraphernalia that accompanies that great machine. This is important work, especially recognizing the state of the world today.

I feel like I should be thanking my students every time I see them for the work that they are doing and you know what, you should too.

And the rockets red glare ...

January 12, 2007 - Bluffton Today column

So, what is the worst thing that could happen when trying to sell your home? Give up? How about your neighborhood becoming the topic of Vox discussions for seven solid days? (Probably ten days by now).

I live in Pine Ridge and yes, I heard the fireworks on New Years Eve and again last Friday night and yes, I had some choice words for my silly neighbors, but let’s put things in perspective people.

The Vox callers are deducing that every resident in Pine Ridge breaks the law and has a disregard for the community because one resident was setting off fireworks. The concerned neighbors called the police, what more can we do?

Maybe the problem lies with the Police Department – why aren’t they fining the people who are breaking the law? Better yet, if it is illegal to set off fireworks in Beaufort County then maybe we should be complaining about the fact that they are for sale at every point where our borders meet Jasper County.

I am sure we could find fault in every neighborhood in Bluffton - parking, peeing in the community pool, overgrown lawns, teenagers with garage bands, you name it. But, seriously folks get a grip. Don’t chastise an entire neighborhood based on the actions of one idiot.

Now, if you are in the market for a four bedroom, two and half bath home on a quiet, wooded, cul de sac lot with living room, family room, dining room, and study, that has been professionally painted and landscaped, shoot me an email. We’ll work out a deal.

On to bigger and better things … Today is Joe’s 40th birthday. We will be having a fireworks show to celebrate in our backyard tomorrow evening. Just kidding. Let me start again. Today is Joe’s 40th birthday and despite his creaking bones, graying hair, and obvious poor choice in a spouse, I love him dearly and hope that all his wishes come true. In all honesty, he doesn’t look a day over thirty-five and aging with him will indeed be a pleasure.

On to even bigger and better things … it is time to re-vamp my column.

I have been towing the “new girl in town” line for almost 18 months now. I’ve been living in Bluffton for just shy of two years, and I don’t really consider myself a newbie anymore. (Cue moans and groans from the locals). I am comfortable here. I have good friends here. I have discovered restaurants, beaches and stores that I love. I’ve come to appreciate the Lowcountry way of life and I am even warming to the weather patterns.

So, while I intend to continue writing about everything I see and do here in Bluffton and beyond, I need a new name for my column. And, I turn to you for suggestions. Anticipating some of the responses that I may get I started a list:

Does She Think Before She Talks
Go Home Yankee
Northerners Do It Better

Seriously, whether you love me or hate me, I would enjoy your suggestions for a new column name. To sweeten the pot, the reader with the “winning” suggestion will be featured in a future column.

And, that’s all folks.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Might as well face it, I'm addicted ...

They say, “The first step is admitting it”.

So, here goes – I am addicted to my BlackBerry. Wow that felt good.

It didn’t take long, I only received it on Tuesday, but I can’t put it down. It is like a shiny new car or a cute new boyfriend (yes, I am married, bear with me) – I want to go everywhere with it and show it off.

Everyone is in awe. When I brought it to my sister’s house she said, “I’ve never seen one before,” and she oohed and aahed as I showed her what it could do. My friend Huntley remarked, “You know that thing is smarter than you.” Smarter than him too I guess, since he was unsuccessful in helping me change my ring tone. Joe is a BlackBerry veteran, but still harbored some obvious jealousy over my new and improved model.

“Those things will kill you,” they say. They are right. The power that it wields is frightening. You mean at any moment, with the roll of my thumb, I can reach nirvana? Ahem, I mean I can access my emails? Perhaps it is the innate desire to respond to the email “ding” while driving that will kill us.

My, how times have changed. A little technology has come a long way.

In middle school, I had computer class once a week. The room was always kept ice cold; to “keep the computers healthy” our teacher would say. There were only a dozen or so computers in the room, so we had to share. I couldn’t differentiate the DOS from the desk. Thankfully Erika Miscio sat next to me. She was a whiz!

In high school, I took a keyboarding class and I couldn’t resist the desire to look at the keyboard despite the warnings that if I didn’t look at the teacher, I would fail. Memorizing the keyboard was the goal. Lucky for me, I had one of my fingers smashed between two field hockey sticks during a game and I was allowed special privileges on the keyboard. Since one finger was set in this metal contraption with lots of tape, I couldn’t be expected to master keyboarding with only 9 fingers.

In the nineties when I was in college, I was re- introduced to working on a computer and the concept of a computer lab. I embraced the technology of fixing mistakes without using white out and I never looked back.

In graduate school – after being bombarded with email assignments and online discussion boards, I revolted briefly and wrote a paper about the longevity of the greeting card and handwritten communication. Of course, I had to type it to submit it so my battle was uphill all the way.

When I started teaching Speech Communication at the college level I was asked to teach an online version of the course. Yes, you heard correctly – I taught a speech communication course online. And, that is when it hit me. We are all slaves to our computer, will our children be the same?

Oops, I can hear my BlackBerry humming. How did I ever live with out it? Oh, that was when I had a life.

No BlackBerry was injured during the writing of this column. Email Courtney at – an email account not connected to her BlackBerry, so be patient in waiting for a reply.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

Bluffton Today column, December 29, 2006

Ugh, I just read my column from January 1, 2006. In it I joked … “Here we are again, January 1. The day where we all reflect on the past, promise to do better next year and make a list of resolutions, most of which we never achieve. Well, that’s the story on my end at least.”

Ironically, I’ve proved myself right once again. I managed to achieve none – yes, you read correctly, none - of the 10 goals that I set for myself in 2006. My mission was to explore Bluffton and really get to know my new hometown. Interestingly, I feel like I made great strides in that arena, I just approached my task from a direction different than I had originally anticipated.

Despite my good intentions last year, I didn’t …
1. Participate in the Old Town Bluffton Planning
2. Have the opportunity to work with Habitat for Humanity. (Instead, I did devote my time and talent to other non-profit causes.)
3. Fish, crab, shrimp – catch something, anything, and cook it.
4. Break 100 on the golf course.
5. Follow through on my “pizza crawl” in an attempt to find a pizza join with Jersey routes.
6. Convince BT to join me in hosting an event so that Yankees and local Blufftonians can meet.
7. Meet more of my neighbors. (I did however meet a host of Blufftonians, new and old - just none who share a similar street address).
8. Put air in the tires of my bike and use it.
9. Invest energy in the Bluffton Dog Park idea.
10. And, I didn’t have the chance to go mud boggin’ along the May River.

So, rather than set myself up for another year of failure I decided that this year’s list would reflect all of the things that I will not accomplish in 2007. Here goes, I will not:

1. Eat pancakes and complain about the prices. Ah, who am I kidding – if I don’t like something, you’ll know it.
2. Joke (publicly) about Nascar, pecans, grits, or any other traditionally Southern fare or pastime.
3. Stand for another dismal voter turnout. I’m still determining how to make an impact in this area.
4. Pine for New Jersey and snow. (Joe bought me a snow globe for Christmas so, problem solved).
5. Let my bicycle and golf clubs continue to accumulate dust. (I will dust the garage and its contents at least once a month.)
6. Let the “bloggers” and “voxers” get under my skin.
7. Limit my Southern exploration to Bluffton and Hilton Head alone – Charleston and Savannah deserve some attention.
8. Underestimate the passion and good intentions of our local elected officials. (If you don’t believe me, attend a meeting!)
9. Well, I will try not to refer to New Jersey as home. Bluffton is home now.
10. Let another year go by so quickly.

Live it up Bluffton. Happy New Year!