Tag Archives: Life

Silent No More

“In practice, the standard for what constitutes rape is set not at the level of a women’s experience of violation but just above the level of coercion acceptable to men.”
                                                                     Judith Lewis Herman

It seems I can’t listen to a news broadcast or read a newspaper the last couple of months with seeing another article or story relating to a powerful non-female harassing or abusing women. (Sorry, but I refuse to use the word man when referring to these individuals). Almost everyday there is another woman, or group of women, describing, in detail, the degradation they endured while working or attempting to find employment in the field where these sub humans wielded the power to destroy a career or make their lives so miserable they would suffer humiliation and fear rather than speak up. Children were also part of this disgusting behavior, as evidenced by the more than 100 children, (now women), who were abused during their gymnastics careers by a renowned team physician. Producers, actors, doctors, clergy, journalists, politicians, CEO’s, studio heads; the list of those individuals abusing power for their own satisfaction is endless.

In many cases years have gone by since these incidents took place and yet I don’t question a woman’s reasons for not coming forward sooner. Unless any one of us is in that position, how can we ever try to understand their thought process. Fear and intimidation are powerful weapons being used by powerful people. Circumstance is not ours to judge, especially in a society that continues to view women differently than non-females. A society that has failed to mature and grow up to the standards each of us deserves.

In these cases, the more powerful the abuser is, the greater his ability to define and arrange his arguments. Power is always wielded against the most vulnerable amongst us.

What angers me as much as the abusers are all those who knew about the actions of these individuals and did nothing about it. They share equal responsibility. They swept the complaints under the carpet, created non disclosure agreements, ignored the repeated problems that continued to be voiced and generally maintained the good old boys club be kept intact. They turned away. All these powerful and outwardly respectable sub humans didn’t think the voices that were raised were worth the words that were spoken.

How sad is that?

My guess is we’re in the infancy stage of this story, though I do question whether the press will ever reveal the true extent. Too many friends in high places, too much money to be lost by revealing the truth. But we’ll see,
Equally important is what happens now. How we move forward from this. There are more layers to this problem than what’s been revealed. While where we’ve been should never be forgotten, where were go from here is a question each of us must answer in his or her own way.

The responsibility is ours.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” 
                                                                                              Abraham LIncoln

Double Edged Laughter

Interesting headline, don’t you think? So what was the first thought that came into your head when you read it? Come on, be honest. How about the second thought?

The real story behind this sports headline from several years ago was that Alex Rodriquez (A-Rod) hit a homer, (goes deep) and the Yankees pitcher, Chien-Ming Wang, (Wang) was injured running the bases in the same game. Did the newspaper intentionally print a suggestive double entendre headline? I’m sure they did. Did they accurately report the facts? Absolutely.

But here’s the thing. There were people who read that headline, like me, and laughed at the creativity and fun you can have with language, while others rolled their eyes, found it distasteful and hid it from the kids. I sometimes wonder what leads us to our individual reactions.

Personally, I can trace mine back to my mother. She wasn’t exactly June Cleaver. (Sorry, some of you may not remember this all American mother from the 50’s). She was different, someone who wasn’t afraid to say what she was thinking, even if those thoughts made some people blush. My mother didn’t really swear. She’d occasionally use the word hell or ass in a funny way but not in general language and nothing beyond that. Instead, she preferred using the double meaning of words in a humorous way. Sort of like the headline above.
She was funny. She loved to laugh and she loved seeing others laugh, which is why there were always people around her at a party. She loved hearing a good joke as much as telling one and if it was a bit racy, that was fine with her. She taught me about the power of humor early on, how it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself, how it can bring people together, the broad scope of it and how to play with the language in a fun and sometimes irreverent way. She had few boundaries and didn’t worry about who might be in the room. If someone was offended, she’d laugh and say they had “delicate ears.”

I was young when we started sharing jokes. If I heard a good one, I couldn’t wait to come home and tell her. I would watch as she made people laugh by twisting words into different meanings. My mother was Italian but father’s side of the family was very English and more conservative.  I can still see my very conservative Aunt Lydia blush at a story my mother was telling and laugh so hard her face turned red and her eyes watered. I can see my Aunt Sadie, whose lips never came near a curse word in her life, laugh so hard she couldn’t catch her breath, which in turn made me laugh just as hard. It was suggestive,  harmless fun.

Would all these relatives and friends be better people/christians/parents/spouses/aunts/uncles/cousins,  if they turned away from her suggestive humor and questioned her parenting abilities? Would my brother and I be better human beings if we never heard those jokes? Would we have been kicked out of Catholic school, the church and  not allowed to be altar boys for as long as we were if , God forbid, the priest and nuns knew of this “sinful” humor? Seems to me we grew up pretty well, married great ladies and raised terrific children. I don’t think anyone was scarred by her brand of humor and the jokes we heard or she told us.

As far as I know, laughter that wasn’t mean or hurtful never scarred anyone.

I just know that when I think of her, I smile. When I remember the irreverence of her stories and language, I laugh. Humor had few boundaries for her. She was a good person who enjoyed laughter and loved  sharing that laughter with others.

I would say that’s a life pretty well lived.

 

 

 

 

 

Carter

It was the end of the school day and the second grade class I was a substitute for that day was packed up and waiting to be called for their individual buses. Some were talking, some were playing games and some were showing off a bit, as second graders sometimes do.

When I looked over at Carter, he had a piece of construction paper out and was drawing what looked to be a card. Curious, I walked over and asked him what he was making. He told me it was a card for his mom. I asked him if it was for a special occasion, her birthday or something else but he just shook his head, smiled a little and said, “I just want to make her a card, but I don’t know what to write.”

I kneeled down next to him and asked him what he wanted to say. He looked at me and said, “I want to thank her for what she does for me.” I told him that was nice of him and maybe he can think of two or three things to write that stand out the most. He turned away from me, stared out the window and said, “She does everything for me. I don’t know how to write that.”

Before I could answer him or suggest some words, his bus was called and he had to leave. As I was driving home behind a school bus, I was wondering how his card would turn out and what he might write. Then the school bus stopped and I saw Carter step off, run over to a young woman, wrap his arms around her waist and press his head against her.

Maybe he finished the card that night, maybe the next day. Maybe he found the words he needed or maybe he’s still working on it. I’m not sure. But I smiled when I saw him hug his mom, not because he wanted to write that card or how his words made me feel. I smiled because…

Carter was home.

 

Three Quotes And A Photo

We took a two-week road trip recently through Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, (another blog), and I came across three quotes or phrases that I thought were fun, along with one very interesting photo.

The phrases first…

What is a bookshelf other than a treasure chest for a curious mind.
(I like this for all the obvious reasons)

Say what you will about the south but no one retires and moves north.
(I never thought about this before but there is some truth to the words)

Intoxicated people, children and leggings, never lie.
(Well now, we can go on forever about this line)

As for the photo, I was stopped at a light in Lexington, Kentucky and saw this window advertisement for the attached business.


Now, I’m not really sure what kind of establishment this is. Is it a bait and tackle shop? A bar and grill? I was thinking maybe both but the fine print right next to her lips and below the anchor says…you’re sure to catch something.

That altered my mindset just a bit. While I was tempted to investigate, I thought better of it and left when the light turned green. Not that I wasn’t curious but you know what they say about curiosity.

Besides, I just wasn’t in the mood to catch anything from a place called Ole Hookers.

Not Today

I love Christmas. It’s one of my favorite holidays even though I think it’s been commercialized beyond what any sane person would consider reasonable. It makes rational people do irrational things.

So when I walked into a store the other day and the temperature was 82 degrees outside and the calendar still read summer and there were inflatable Christmas decorations playing Jingle Bells I felt it was time to draw the line.

So I took a quick look around and decided to pull the plug on Christmas. The inflated quickly deflated, the bells no longer jingled, and I walked away smiling.

It’s not time yet, people. It’s still summer and I refuse to allow anyone to cut a short season even shorter by pushing something onto me before I’m ready.  So this is a warning to all retailers. I’ll be watching. If I visit your store and you decide to be obnoxious about when you present your Christmas displays, then be prepared to re-inflate. If, of course, you can find the extension cord  I hid.

What? You thought I’d make it easy for you?

P.S. You see, this is why I shop at Amazon. I don’t have to deal with Jingle Bells before it’s time.

 

A Princess And Her Prince

A few weeks ago we were blessed to welcome our sixth grandchild, Taylor, into our family. She recently turned a month old and, like her sister at the same age, enjoyed a little photo shoot with her favorite pillow rest, Bailey.

Her birth reminded me of one of my favorite poems by the French poet, Yves Bonnefoy. I thought I’d share part of it with you…

The All, The Nothing

Its the last snow of the season,
The spring snow-the most skilled
At mending the rips in the dead wood
Before it’s brought inside and burnt.

It’s the first snow of your life,
Since yesterday there were only dots
Of color, brief pleasures, fears, chagrins-
Without substance for lack of words.

And I can see joy overtaking the fear
In your eyes which amazement opened
In one great, bright leap; this cry, this laughter
That I love, and that I ponder….

May the big snow be for you, the all, the nothing,
Child trying out your first uncertain steps in the grass,
Your eyes still full of the origin,
Hands grabbing at nothing but the light.

May the gleaming branches be the words
You’ll have to listen to, not understanding
The meaning of their silhouette against the sky-
Otherwise you’d only name them at the price of losing.

May these two values, one sparkling, be enough for you,
Of the hill glimpsed through the opening between the trees,
Bee of life, when in your dreams of the world,
The world itself grows quiet.

And may the water that wells up in the shadow
Show you that joy can survive in dream,
Even when a breeze from who knows where
Is already scattering almond blossoms-and yet the other snow.

Enjoy a blessed life, Taylor