(Farewell) ode to my beloved iPhone 4S

In 2010, when I was an employee of the NRA, I set not one but TWO records related to cell phone usage: First, I won a lunchroom contest, earning the unauthorized, unofficial title of NRA Employee Who Can Type The Fastest On His or Her Blackberry. I’m that fast, y’all.

The second record, in hindsight, is somewhat related to the first: in my tenure at NRA (just under 3 years), I worked my way through FOUR smart phones. Specifically… Blackberries. On two of them, I managed to overuse the darn pseudo-mouse tracker ball, which is a dumb feature anyway.

NRA blackberries

This picture was snapped in 2010, shortly after I convinced the very patient folks who run the NRA’s IT Services Division that I needed an Android rather than a Blackberry.

Shortly after that, I decided to upgrade my personal cell phone to a smart phone – it was 2010, after all.

I purchased an iPhone 3, and for one full year I carried both a clunky droid and a sleek iPhone. The year after that, I purchased the iPhone 3S, which was replaced not once but twice – it was dropped in a puddle and then in the dog’s water dish. In March 2012, finally eligible for an upgrade,  I happily transitioned to the new (!) 4S. I know, y’all find this fascinating, right?

Anyway. Two full years later, AT&T has reminded me that it’s time to trade in my trusty, dated model for something sexier.

This marks the conclusion of my longest-ever iPhone relationship. Sure, the current iPhone has a small chip in the upper left-hand corner, and the blasted phone is so out of date that my apps have long refused to properly sync. It doesn’t hold a charge for more than 90 minutes, meaning I rely heavily on those cases that have a special charge feature (thanks, Michelle!).

But, despite these ridiculous traits, I’ve been dragging my feet to turn my iPhone 4S in for a shiny 5S model. [And if you’re in the same boat and ready for your next upgrade, y’all, this is the week to do it! Target is rocking a sweet promotion this week, on top of its usual Electronics Trade In Program.]

This iPhone 4S and I have been through a lot together. The past two years contain some intensely meaningful developments, most of which I can tie back to this  iPhone 4S.  Namely, this piece of plastic is my connection to my family, 800 miles away. Sure, I’m constantly plugged into my work email, and I’ve been accused of Instagramming when I should be paying attention to whatever the heck it is people are saying. But at the end of the day, most days, my father has emailed me at least once; every Sunday, I speak with my mother; and many Wednesday nights I call home to participate, virtually, in the weekly family meal.

Here, in somewhat chronological order, I present some of the highlights of the last two years, as witnessed, recorded, and shared via this small yet life-changing piece of technology:

I answered this phone on Sunday, January 20, 2013 – at 3 am, no less – to learn that my sister had given birth to perfect baby Addilyn.

I negotiated my current job on this phone.

I first talked to my beloved Josh.

I’ve summoned an Uber in 4 different cities, and frantically summoned Siri in countless others.

I snapped the first-ever pic of JD.

I’ve sent an average of 1,000 texts per month. 

I photographed and video-recorded Addilyn’s first Christmas.

I’ve posted hundreds of Facebook updates to the DCA Honor Flight Volunteers Facebook page on this phone.

It’s been real, 4S. I trust you will live on in spirit, either recycled or sent to some other world, and I pray I will have equally long-lived relationships with the fabulously hyped and hopelessly crucial iPhones that follow in your footsteps.

Happy birthday, Phil Schreier

2111In January 2007, I answered the phone at my desk at the CPAC office and heard the voice of Phil Schreier, who was working to help a handful of Wounded Warriors attend the conference.

My life has never been the same. Everyone who knows Phil knows he’s a game changer.

I see him for regular dates at Chick-fil-A; most folks see him regularly on the Military Channel or American Rifleman TV.

Sure, Phil’s a military historian and author. But he’s one of the few people I know who cannot be done justice on any resume or biography. Still, for those who aren’t blessed to know Phil, two quick jewels from his crown of accomplishments: In 2003, he went to Iraq as an embedded journalist; in 2009, he served as a war correspondent in Afghanistan with the 1st MEB.

Between those missions, he’s opened his home and his heart to countless friends. Phil was one of two major players who helped me get my job at NRA HQ, and leaving that job was bittersweet for many reasons, with one of the top reasons being the fact that I’d no longer be in close (daily) proximity to Phil.

4pups

In 2009, I threw a surprise party to commemorate his 20th anniversary at the NRA. In 2012, I helped his mother throw a birthday brunch to celebrate a certain milestone.

Both of these resulted in what his friends know as “Phil Fits” because Phil, it turns out, doesn’t much like to be celebrated.

Regardless.

Happy birthday, Phil, and thanks for sharing your family, friends, shotgun(s), hounds, and humor with me over the past six years. I love you forever. XO

A citizen is “concerned” with my father’s right to free speech

family-tree.jpg

First, a little context: I grew up in southwestern Illinois, in St Clair Township, where my parents still live on 10 rural-ish acres. Pictured here, my parents and sisters and I are in front of the homestead atop the stump of a giant Oak tree, which was felled in a severe storm  fell shortly before my dad’s 60th birthday in November 2012.

Dad.Sturgis.Controversial.NRA.shirtMy father, Keith Sturgis, is a family man, a proud USMC Veteran, and a patriot, who worked hard to instill a fierce appreciation for our country and its freedoms in his three daughters  – and anyone else who would listen.

My father isn’t a politician. In 1971, on his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. After that, he went to the coal mines, working over 20 years underground. Then and now, he serves as the recording secretary for United Mine Workers of America’s Local 1820 – but he’s no politician.

But, as of a few months ago, he is an Elected Official in the St Clair Township. In 2012, he entered his first-ever campaign, joining the Common Sense Team as a candidate for St Clair Township Trustee. He won, though most of his team didn’t, though their platform of reduced spending and increased accountability was popular with voters.If you’re still with me, hang on, because here’s where it gets interesting:My father attended his inaugural St Clair Township board meeting in late June 2013. On July 3, I received an interesting email from my dad. (Subject Line: You’ll Get A Kick Out Of This One.)

“The St Clair Township Supervisor just called to say a person was concerned that I was wearing an NRA shirt to the Township Board Meeting.

… So I told him to have that person address me to my face, and we’ll see how that goes.”

Seriously?

In America?

In my lovely, borderline-po-dunk hometown in Illinois?

A citizen feels threatened by three letters on a garment worn by an unpaid township trustee.

Who happens to be my father.

And those three letters happen to mean more to my father – and to me – than they might to, say, your average resident of St Clair Township.

Dad had the audacity to wear the orange shirt that he’s pictured in above. This shirt is a discontinued style…  I’m 95% certain I purchased it at one of the sales hosted at NRA HQ, where I worked as a Senior Media Specialist until 2010, but I can’t be sure.

Shortly after I was hired at the NRA, my father called to request that I send him a few business cards because, as it turns out, he wanted to hand them out to pretty much everyone he knew.

It’s the only time I can remember my father asking me for anything.

Dad.OliverNorth.KBRThere’s another picture of my father  wearing his offensive shirt: this  one, which I posted on Facebook in May of 2008. I posted it in the middle of the chaotic festival of freedom known as the NRA’s Annual Meeting (in 2008, it was held in Louisville, KY) and I wrote the following caption: “three marines, three personal heroes: Dad, Lt Col Oliver North, KBR.”

My father took time off work to serve as an unpaid volunteer during the NRA Annual Meeting – in 2008, and in 2009, and in 2010 – and also at several CPACs. He worked a booth for 3 days talking to folks about the NRA’s flagship blog, NRAblog, which I happened to help create.

In Louisville, when I saw Lt Col Oliver North talking to past NRA President Kayne Robinson, I took the opportunity to locate my father and arrange the three Marines for this photo. And today, especially, I’m awfully grateful I did.

My father doesn’t question anyone’s right to free speech – but you’d damned well better not question his.

Dad.Sturgis.FB.NRA.