Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mid-Summer Rant

I don't often use this blog for my feelings on political issues.  I have enough personal issues, typically, to fill it up, and I've pretty much come to accept that most people's minds can not be changed about things that they believe in, however misinformed and misguided those things may be.  But as I read through the news and my various social media accounts this morning, while my son watches a movie from the comfort of his own living room over a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, I have some things on my mind.  Read on from here at the risk of being offended.

Local news has not been good here in this small town the last few days.  A young local boy, just a few months older than my own son, died tragically when a large toolbox being used as a dresser tipped over on him.  A graduate of my alma mater, a young mother of small children, was murdered by her husband.  A local "kid" is headed back to prison after trying to run over a cop--he's engaged to a former student of mine and will leave a young daughter behind (maybe to her benefit) when he's convicted. My Facebook newsfeed is awash with people decrying the plight of all of the children involved in these incidents, and rightly so.  

So how is it that some of these very same people, or even groups of people (at the risk of making generalizations) who are so terribly concerned for the tragedies in these children's lives can be so heartless and unsympathetic to the fate of other children, namely the thousands of immigrant children in the national news?  In case you're unaware, thousands of children from Central American countries are fleeing their homelands and ending up here, in the good ol' U. S. of A.  Many of these children travel alone and endure more than you and I could tolerate on their journeys here, which should tell you a LOT about what they're leaving behind.  And they're KIDS.  I won't let my own son cross a street without holding my hand, much to his macho chagrin, and these kids are hanging on to the tops of trains over thousands of miles to make it here--the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Oh yeah, and apparently, the land of the concerned-only-about-our-own.  

I'll be the first to agree that there are immigration issues that need to be faced, readdressed, fixed, what-have-you.  I don't have those answers, and I confess to mixed emotions on that topic.  As the grandchild of an immigrant, and as a human being...hell, maybe even as a woman, I fall prey to my sympathies.  They're looking for something better, the American dream, a life for their children.  Unfortunately, maybe some of them are looking for handouts and "entitlements," because God knows enough of our own people are trying to milk that system.  But those are the adults, and how we handle that issue is different from this one.  Or it should be, because these are KIDS.  If they fled on their own, or were sent on their own, you can bet your ass they're leaving things that we would leave too, as we sit here fat, dumb, and happy and bitch and moan about how terrible the fireworks were this year.  If they were brought here by a parent or guardian, they had no choice in the matter.  It all amounts to the same thing, though.  They.  Are.  Children.  And we should take care of them.  Period.  

I'm not big on organized religion.  I don't go to church, I don't read the Bible, and I don't post scripture on my Facebook.  That doesn't mean that I don't believe in some of the tenets of the church and the teachings of Jesus, or for that matter, Muhammad, who said, "Do not turn away a poor man...even if all you can give is half a date..." (Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376). However, I do love the current Pope, and I embrace many of the statements he has made during his brief tenure. He's exactly right on this count when he says, "This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected..." (The Huffington Post).

I don't have the solution. If I did, I wouldn't be sitting here in my living room with my laptop. But what I do have is a heart, and I'm sorry--if the words "Send them back!" have occurred to you, you do not, and you have no business posting scripture or bragging about your mission trips or pretending to be good church-going folks. To the towns refusing to give these babies shelter while a solution is found--shame on you. To those bitching about diseases these children might carry, let's treat and vaccinate them instead of panicking--because you know your kids have had the chickenpox vaccine and have access to medical care. To those afraid--ask yourselves what you're afraid of, really. And really, with apologies for the trite saying and the theft of the slogan, it comes down to "What would Jesus do?"

Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday Mournings

I wish I could write every day, or at least on some sort of a schedule.  But the inspiration's gotta hit, so I wait for it.  I silently acknowledged my grandmother's birthday last week (she would have been 108!) and Mother's Day yesterday, so maybe that's where this comes from.  Maybe it's just from sitting still and quiet for a few minutes, which I don't do often enough.  Regardless, here's some Monday night poetry.

"Monday Mournings"

In the room where my grandmother died,
the quiet and the still
are much like they were that morning
as I waited with her for them.
Tonight the piano keys were just silenced,
the ivories ringing true with
"Petite Minuet" and "Yankee Doodle;"
And I sit on the sofa remembering,
as in the other rooms, the water runs,
the toy guns fire, the TV blares.
Outside, the birds and the highway--
that part remains here still.
This is my room, my quiet, as the sun begins to set.
Shadows of days gone past appear,
but I smile, knowing I hear the same
things she heard as she took her final breaths.
And for that reason, she is with me still.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Friday Night Soccer Lights

It's Saturday morning, I have a BOWL full of coffee, and the boy is watching iCarly.  It's a perfect time to write, so that I can at least say that I accomplished ONE thing today.  Gee, that sounds familiar.

I'm going to eat crow here a little, so I'll just get it over with.  I'm not a soccer fan--never have been.  I think that goes way back to elementary and middle school when I was forced to play it in PE.  I didn't like running around on the bumpy field because I twisted my ankles a lot.  I didn't like to engage with other players, because I hated getting kicked in the shins. And finally, I'm not a fan of balls being kicked at my face.  No, I lied.  That wasn't the final reason.  Let's face it, I'm not a team player.  I can't take the pressure of other people relying on my non-existent athletic prowess, I'm not all that competitive (wait, did I say that?), and I would sometimes rather die than be in the middle of a field with a bunch of people looking at me.  Uggh.  I digress.

I've tried to watch soccer in the past, mainly because people I like dig it, (a couple of them are actually fairly smart people, too) but it's never really stuck.  It's always seemed like just a lot of running back and forth with no satisfaction, and NOT "The Beautiful Game" they all claim it to be.  (I'll skip over the many reasons that basketball is clearly more beautiful.)  Anyway, I watched just to have some knowledge of what they were constantly babbling about, but it wasn't fun for me, other than relishing in the colloquialisms of British soccer announcers.  Now that is beautiful!

But last night, I was convinced to attend the season home opener for the high school varsity teams.  There were a lot of good reasons to go:  support the coach of the girls' team (one of those fanatic friends I mentioned), support the very talented PA announcer (another fanatic, but the one that I live with) in his first game of the season, and because a good friend sweet-talked me into it.  I started off distracted--it was chilly, it was breezy, I thought it might rain.  That announcer I spoke of--He is fantastic, but I sometimes can't listen to him because it embarrasses me how good he is and how big his voice is in the stadium.  It's silly, I know, but I get the heebie jeebies sitting there in the middle of parents from school and members of the community who all know that it's my hubby up there with the big, booming, ultra-enthusiastic voice that should be doing bigger and better things.  But that's neither here nor there.

I really didn't expect to stay the entire time.  Not only was it a soccer game, it was a DOUBLE HEADER on cold metal bleachers with my bad hip.  But, I snuggled under a blanket with my friends, enjoying watching and letting the boy make friends with other kids that were there and run around having a blast, and I Actually.  Enjoyed. The games.  Yes, I said it.  The girls lost their game, but they played very well, and did some great things--especially the goalie, whom I have mad respect for.  Talk about the pressure!   I hope it's a sign of a good season to come.  The boys' game was a different story altogether, though.  (I'm going to make an unpopular statement here and say that I'm rarely a fan of watching women play anything.  I know, I know.)  But the boys were more aggressive, more athletic, and faster-paced.  There were yellow cards.  There was showboating.  And there was scoring--they stuck it to their opponents with a 4-2 victory.  All of those things are good for keeping my attention, and I'm going to be bold here and say that it was a more exciting game than most of the professional soccer games I've watched.  (Go ahead, soccer people--tell me I liked it for all the WRONG reasons!)

I don't know that I'll be a regular spectator.  There are too many other factors at play convincing me NOT to go.  But I enjoyed it, and I see the appeal.  I also see the danger!  One other thing I left the games with last night was a healthy fear of The Dangerous Game.  I inhaled sharply on one too many occasions when heads banged against each other, elbows flew in faces, and kids went tumbling ass over tea kettle on the turf.  I know how much falls hurt at my turtle's pace, and can't imagine that those kids hop right back up and keep playing without crying.  So, when the boy said he wanted to play (American) football last night, I almost went for it, because there are at least helmets, pads, and full-length pants.  No way is he playing soccer, beautiful or not.

(Note:  This started as a Saturday Six-Pack, but turns out, I had a lot to say about soccer.  Who knew?)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dear Mr. Vernon,

By now, you've all been bombarded with the Facebook memes about the 30th Anniversary of The Breakfast Club...not of the movie itself, but of the actual day our favorite miscreants spent in the best day of detention, ever.  It speaks volumes to me about the movie that so many of us stopped to recognize and acknowledge the date.  It's a combination of the genius of John Hughes, the brilliant casting, and the ensemble of characters that made us all feel like we were included, whether we were a brain, an athlete, a basket-case, a princess, or a criminal.  You know, all of those "most convenient definitions."

Thirty years later, we are the jerk parents putting pressure on our kids to compete harder or get better grades.  We are the asshole assistant principal.  Maybe some of us are lucky enough to be the janitor, lucky enough to be able to see things the way they are.  But most likely not.  What I do know is that it doesn't really matter who was what back then.  Not much of it stuck--the labels faded away, and we grew up.

So why is it that I still relate more to Claire (the princess) and Allison (the basket-case) than to Brian's mom or Andrew's (hah, completely unintended) dad?  It shouldn't be that way--my pressures these days are those of the parents, not of the kids.  And why is it that when I took one of those stupid quizzes that I can't resist (you know the ones, the "Which character in Wuthering Heights are you?" quizzes---wait, where IS that one? I want to take it!) the other day, I held my breath hoping NOT to be the basket-case?  The one who said that, "When you get old, your heart dies."

Because it doesn't.  Not at all.  We just get distracted by the day-to-day, run down by our jobs, driven by our desire to provide the best for our kids (that new group of troublemakers) and keep things functional to focus on our own hearts much.  We do, it turns out, become our parents.  The basket-case was right when she said THAT was inevitable.

And maybe as parents, we remember what it was like as the brain, the athlete, the basket-case, the princess, or the criminal...or as the kid who struggled with math, the kid without running water, the kid whose parents fought violently...and we just try to help our kids avoid having to go through what we did while dealing with our own crap at the same time.

It's midnight, and I'm at a loss for a profound conclusion here.  So, in the words of the eternal bad boy, John Bender (who TOTALLY got more than an earring in that closet, I'm just SAYING!), "Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place."