Last April, my father passed away. That event, for me, was sad-ish, but not tragic or heart breaking. In life as I knew him, my father, Brock Brower, was not an easy person. In fact, he was downright difficult and sometimes scary -- not an easy combination for a child, or a teen, or even a young adult.
Since his death, though, I’ve come to know and remember him differently. My father was a writer, and in the past few months I’ve had the gift of the words he left behind, which have provided a sort of access to his inner world.
While he was alive, my father never overtly encouraged any of his family to read his work, which included several books, short stories, numerous articles and a large collection of poetry written during his last years. He did give us copies of his books from time to time, and would share special poems written for weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. He had a masterful, comprehensive and sometimes impenetrable vocabulary, and we considered ourselves ahead of the game if we understood half of what he read at those events.
One of his dying wishes, however, was that I and my four siblings celebrate his life with a reading of his work. To do this, I had to read it. I was initially dreading the preparations for the memorial event, but once I started I learned something new about my father: Underneath all his bloviating was a really funny guy who could make me laugh out loud, long and loudly.
1. Mean girls lose! A group of students at a North Texas high school told fellow student Lillian Skinner that she'd been nominated prom queen -- except it was a joke and they were just being cruel. “They make fun of my teeth, my hair," Skinner said. "People call me Chucky and buck teeth." Instead of this turning into a Carrie moment, Skinner ended up a winner after all -- after Anahi Alvarez was named queen, she immediately turned the crown over to Skinner, NBC reported. That act of kindness has gone viral, prompting this tweet: Mean girls lose this round...kindness prevails." Alvarez and Skinner have asked all 2,600 students at the school to sign an anti-bullying pledge. To those mean students, we just want to say: grow up.
2. Feminism isn't just for women. Actress Emma Watson, best known for playing Hermione in the Harry Potter movie series, gave a wonderful speech at the UN about feminism and why both men and women need to fight the good fight. "The more I have spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man hating," said Watson, a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. "For the record, feminism by definition is: 'The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities...Men - I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too." You can watch her 10-minute speech here.
3. Banned Books Week -- a great time to read. The American Library Association, which maintains a list of challenged and banned books, says this years' emphasis during Banned Books Week is on comic and graphic books that have been "challenged" by people who don't want them in public libraries or school libraries. No. 1 on the list: the popular children's comic book series Captain Underpants. The books, authored by Dav Pilkey, have topped the list for the past two years. Why do so many want to ban them? Pilkey told NPR he's "baffled by his notoriety." But he says it may be the book's anti-authoritarian tone. "I do think it is important, if you think something is wrong, to question authority -- because, you know, there are villains in real life, and they don't always wear black capes and black hats. Sometimes they're dressed like authority figures. And kids need to know that it's important to question them."
Photo of Emma Watson speaking at the UN courtesy of CNN