Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bubbles and more bubbles

Its the bubbles over your head filled with what you don't need to say. Hiding behind your lying eyes, you smile even larger. The bubble grows exponentially.

My dad was told when he was a young man by an old man that the world was messed up when he came and it will be messed up when he leaves. Can I get an amen.

One consequence of getting older besides getting to live a longer life is you notice more. I read a Facebook dust-up which started innocently enough. One woman's mother had Alzheimers and as most folks know, “It gets uglier and uglier.” It also may be her mother's late life disappointments.

Anyway, I understood what she meant. She had found some letters of her mother's when her mother had a more positive view of the world and it meant a lot. She had posted a beautiful picture of her mom in her twenties. Her mom was beautiful.

Anyway, comments devolved into a few competing in a perverse competition for the meanest mother.

The original poster was stating a fact not a judgment.

Anyway, it just got me to thinking about people and their relationships with their relatives. The only people who are never disappointed really don't have any or know any relatives. My sister had a friend who talked about being descended from some really high class folks. Oddly enough, he had no immediate relatives.

On Facebook, it is ironic that people block friends and family and tell all sorts of personal details to absolute strangers. In complete understanding, blocking may be a good idea at times. Except that bubble still grows in cyberspace, just not over your head any more.

The same woman who made the original post about her mother can write some funny one-liners. One was the post to her real and imaginary friends. I chuckled because I am one of her imaginary friends. However I really like her. I guess that makes me her good imaginary friend.

One thing that affected my grandmother's generation more than today's generation is their forthright honesty. They said how they felt.

Politically, it is expedient to hold it back. Hence that big bubble filling with what you really think. But I wonder if we would all do a little better with a little more frank exchange. How do you improve if no one points out your flaws. Much like a competitive runner runs with a faster runner to increase their speed.

When I started teaching, I held back some of what I felt the parent should know. One year, I felt it was my last year and I started saying what I thought. I would hear other teacher's backing up their chairs. But the parents would agree. They recognized I was not criticizing their child. I was sharing what they needed to do to be more successful. I did have a few parents in later years I let that bubble fill to the bursting point. But most of the time, I just laid it on the line.

One student I had was a troubled soul. Mom had a difficult time handling her children and supporting her family on a waitress income. Long story short, mom was evasive of the child's problems and the assistant principal could not come down hard on the kid. Same story inevitable, the kid's behavior got worse and worse until he burst the bubble two grades later.

I don't blame the mom for disliking me for insisting on action. Its just that the kid was somewhere between being a future high school dropout and college graduate. He became a drop out. In my defense, I was the teacher who had him half the day. He had to have some self control or the other students in the classroom missed out.

Along with being more honest, there was a term called having float my dad would use. Your friend makes you mad. The boss chews you out over nothing. You get over it. Move on with the future.

All in all, the more emotionally attached I am to an idea or habit; the more I will get mad with you for criticizing. I understand parents perfectly well. They love their children. Its this love that would want to mold them to be the best they can be. The waitress mom really did not see a bigger future than the world she lived in which was surviving to make it through another day.

It is good I retired when I did. I was getting really pedantic. A teacher across the hall would brag about her past partying and pot smoking. I told her I would not be bragging about those exploits. She also bragged about being in the gifted program. I had worked at that school at that time she attended (around 1980). Essentially, white children who lived in nice brick homes qualified for gifted. Besides, I had been in a gifted program in high school. What does it really mean to be gifted. Plus my giftedness was being very well behaved.

Back to the bubble, I could have used the bubble a little more. But in a conservative field like education, you do not share how you sowed your wild oats. One paradox in my life is that I have always been attacked for my failings. I have worked with others that have suffered little consequence for doing the same thing. Or at least it looked that way.

Anyway, the world will be messed up when I leave and I hope to still be able to see that. I want to go out with an alert mind and a character with some float and that bubble stuffed tight.

May your bubble not pop.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I read "Under and Alone" by William Queen

Under and Alone is a fascinating account by William Queen of his time spent as an undercover agent with the ATF. William Queen became a full-fledged member of a criminal motorcycle gang which few thugs were up to the challenge of joining.

I am one of those people who have several books open in my house and cars that I read simultaneously. William Queen's book went in my purse. I was not disappointed. Once I began reading, I finished that day.

The interesting part of this hold the book had was that I had heard many of the high points in a talk he made at the Writer's Police Academy. Being a novice writer, I had no business attending the academy with so many professionals present. It was an incredible eye opener to the world and police procedures.

As a retired teacher, I think the book should be read in high schools. I have taught the great unwashed over the years. We have a few bad students, parents and teachers. What so many people don't know is that so many people are really good people. Having an awareness of the criminal element would help many young people from getting entangled with more than they can handle.

I loved the part where people who so many would consider part of the dangerous motorcycle folks would caution William Queen to think hard about his new associates. Even his first contact into the club gave him full warning and a chance to leave before he became a prospect.

I know some students would acquire an attraction for this element. This was an interesting element of William Queen's story. He discusses the reason why men get into this life. He posits an opinion of the women who become the property, girlfriends and wives of these men. Being a feminist, I think hey, you mean they don't enlist women. Second I think, why would these women ever accept their degrading, passive roles.

What I liked about William Queen's narrative is his love for humanity of people. that bonding and acceptance of another person, the willful choice to know what side of the law he served.

He said he would not do it again with the price he had to pay. Going undercover for over two years and the subsequent relocation of his children; he has no relationship with his now adult children. What he did served law enforcement's knowledge of these organisations and brought to justice to some criminals.

I only wish when I listened to him speak that I did not thank him for his service. His energy was so strong. I understand why those outlaw motorcyclist where able to accept him.  I do believe that all our lives have a purpose. I know someone who has to work with some incredible jerks. I told her that sometimes I feel like the purpose of our life is to shine a light in a sea of darkness.

Anyway, if you want a thought provoking, engaging read, look the book up.

Fascinating book

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How I choose a book

I have stacks of books I plan to read. I guess when I die, they will need to stuff as many as they can in my casket. I shudder to think publishers pulp unsold books. It was years before I realized you could throw a book away. Then the custodian looked at me like I was doing something incredulous. He took the books out of the trash. I'm sure his wife appreciates me and those books.

Anyway, it is not a matter of I will read about two books this week. It's which books I will read.

There was a writing challenge for blogs addressed It was fun for me and other bloggers. There are other blogrolls but none have been as fun. One lets you post in their comments. Most are designed to bring traffic to their site which I understand.

What is hard to find is a blogroll that is for fun and others join in. I read most of the trifecta posts. The long challenge was only 333 words.  My favorite was the 33 word challenge. It is amazing what you can say in 33 words. I don't believe in long posts in a blog roll. A novel has 50,000 words. No one has the time to read the equivalent of one novel or novella when visiting a blogroll.

I am bound and determined to write something of merit. Of course the general public will determine that. What I have gotten out of my foray into the world of writing fiction, is an even snootier nose about what I read.

You read that right. I am a serious book critique and snob.

I don't read many of the top listers. Top listers write the bestsellers and are heavily marketed. I just don't like having what I like chosen for me. I know, I know, I am missing out on some good stuff. It's just that you can't read it all.

Where do I find good books?

1. Yard sales often have great esoteric books for a great price. Pre-selected so to speak.

2. Read those blog rolls. They may not be selling a book, but they will tell you about a great book.

3. NPR - Some of their author interviews are about books you cannot relate to. But some are interesting.

4. Writing conferences. I have a fondness for the indie author, Some indie authors are really good. Some break all the rules of writing and have a book in process published. I enjoy most of them or put them on the shelf with their author's signature. Indie authors have truly broadened my scope of what I read.

5. I love the classics.

I nominally do writing challenges. My work in progress is what I work on.

And work I must do. If you are writing and want a challenge, read this article from the Brooklyn Magazine. The excerpts are only a paragraph or a sentence or two. However, they are incredible.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sophisticated name calling

"I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred is one of those songs I disliked but the tune and lyrics shout out of my brain to my consciousness way too easy. I'd provide a link, but I don't want to spread the problem. It became the number one song in the United States in 1991 and number 2 for six weeks in the UK.

It is written from a narcissistic fashion model's point of view.

I say, if you got it, flaunt it. Just be careful to stop flaunting it when you become a time capsule novelty. I remember women lost in the sixties with dark hair, bangs and eyeliner when I was worried about being fat as a teenager in the seventies. We all got to move with the times. Except I would love to weigh 125 pounds again.

Anyway, I got a pair of jeans I wear at least twice a week and they are cool. Now why I would like these dark blue beauties with a denim braid on the hem, I don't know. Today, they stood at attention beside my bed this morning just like the jeans I wore in college.

I went to college in the seventies. Living on as little as possible, I know why everyone was so crazy about jeans. You really had to have money to own the matching sweater and cardigans of the sixties. It was not a hippie thing even though we all dressed the part.

I had a couple of big thoughts yesterday, most of them settled on point of view. I have been contemplating the power of stories. I have concluded that we all need to handle our story choices with care.

We all have family stories, I would love to create a blog roll where people would post their favorite family story. The kind of story that was passed down through the generations. They can be outrageous but they are all a learning curve.

My favorite was a great-grandmother who was roughed up by my great grand-father when he came home after a few drinks. The next day when he was working in the field, she came out with an equalizer and beat him to a pulp. He never drank again. He said he couldn't handle liquor.

What I learned, don't be a victim. There are alternatives today to beating the crap out of your husband. However, you don't have take nonsense.

My grandmother had a quote "When you see dog shit, walk on by, don't stir it up.". Pretty much like "Choose your battles".  I like the literal interpretation of her version.

We all go vote this month. I have strong opinions which I have a hard time not writing up a storm about. I actually pray for the best person to win. There is a certain load of baloney by all political candidates. Quotes and tactics which will call their voters to the polls. Once elected, they follow an agenda that may or may not have to do with what we learn about in the news.

So choose your stories with care. Name calling can be on point or a cheap shot.

Arrrgh, I still want to say Vote For -------. Laugh out loud, Have a good day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Yoga and Me

Yoga looks so peaceful, serene, get in touch with your spirit.

I have a thirty minute yoga video which I have not taken off the shrinkwrap. I know I bought it over two years ago. It was such an urgent purchase, I paid regular price and didn't wait to find one in a bargain bin. The dogs have chewed the edges of the mat I purchased.

Honest to goodness, I'll start next Thursday.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. What I learned is that there are other interpretations. Mine has always been in reference to procrastination. It can also be about Murphy's law or the substitution of good work for faith in your religion. I learned that on Wikipedia.

Bill Clinton wasn't joking when he said, "It depends on how you define, "be"."

I picked up a magazine called Yoga at the doctor's office. Only one female in the pictures looked older than 25. All that good living, I suppose.

Which made me think about my big physical fitness achievements at 58. I can touch my toes, I can tie my shoes, I can get on the floor and back up. I can write a check and sign up for a 5K. Upward and onward I shall go. God willing.

I am in better shape than I was three years ago. The first time I walked a 5K in 2012, I was incredibly sore afterwards. That was hard to swallow in that I had always been a huge walker.

Me and my dog Louise start training this week. I wish I could run, Louise needs more exercise. But, I can walk three miles without suffering later. I plan to walk two miles a day two or three days a week and one day walk four. Just build those muscles.

I have always dieted during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Imagine how big I would be if I had not. We all battle the bulge in my household. We do have family members who are slim. They are not anorexic, but they are light eaters by nature.

My great aunt Faye was a terrific cook and loved to feed everyone. She made the best kraut. She was also a good teacher. With a heart damaged by rhematic fever and three open heart surgeries under her belt, she ate primarily raw vegetables. She did eat some meat, etc

I am following her example. I don't know if it will extend my life; but it will make me feel better. I know when I fed my elderly pets their special food, they lasted longer. Hard to realize that I am getting there. Especially since I have always enjoyed eating.

Take care.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hester Prynne

My dad loved the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. He would sit at the dinner table smiling discussing the book with my older brother and me as the audience. I would dutifully tell him I liked the book. I had read enough to discuss rudiments of the story to please him. My 14 year old self hated the book.

My 22 year old self read the Scarlett Letter and liked it.

Isabella Rossellini stated her mother Ingrid Bergman would never return to the United States because it had a puritanical streak that could turn on you. At the time, I thought that she had led a life that was not above reproach and just did not want to accept the public indignation of the famous having their shameful secrets exposed. I was probably about 25 at that time.

I'm 58 now. I do understand that puritanical streak. The only difference in opinion I have from Ingrid Bergman is that I think it is universal. Each culture has its own gray line or crisp black line in some situations that it measures people. Media can sway where the gray line starts and ends.

What got me on this topic? John Rocker.

I don't personally know John Rocker. I know what got him publically shamed in the news. What got him voted off Survivor is he was honest with people. He could have lied by omission and gone farther in the game. The other players have felt free discussing his public disgrace and calling him a bigot.

I don't agree with the negative comments made by John Rocker that were published in Sports Illustrated. By no means am I saying it was OK what was said. Afterall, I belong to the great unwashed.

What I am saying is John Rocker was saying what others also felt. He did us all a favor in that many learned for the first time that opinion was not liked and offensive.

Prominent African-Americans in Georgia spoke up for John Rocker. John Rocker paid a huge price for his statements.

John Rocker is a modern day Hester Prynne. He has a Scarlet B for Bigot sewn into many people's mindset.

When I first heard about John Rocker's statements in Sports Illustrated, I thought, how stupid for him to share that with a news reporter, Jeff Pearlman. This made Jeff Pearlman's career.

The second thought was some of the news personalities reactions were incredibly outraged for folks that lived in gated or sheltered communities where someone could be pulled over for driving a rickety car or not having the right profile. Places that don't touch subway folks unless they are the help.

It is a shame that some people are deemed more important than others based on socioeconomics. Socioeconomics drives the other factors.

I know my first thought should have been that his statements were terrible. Its just that I know it was a common and pervasive opinion.  To be surprised would be disingenuous of me.

When the former Secretary of State, Andrew Young, the mayor of Atlanta and the mayor of Macon, C. Jack Ellis came to his defense, I saw what made him a target. He talked too much. He is a good looking man with an athletic talent. A Golden boy who did not experience that filter everyone of us knows well, Be careful what comes out of your mouth. That pass for being outrageously popular was biting him in the proverbial ass.

As an American, I root for the underdog. John Rocker is an underdog in that he has been made a pariah. Like Hester Prynne in the novel the Scarlet Letter, he has been branded for a sin. But is that his sum total. Shouldn't he be forgiven.

I watched a Dr. Phil show with the children of Doris Duke's heir. He was an alcoholic, drug abusing, child abuser. His children spoke of how they had a hard time trusting people because they were only after their money. I had the same thought for them as I have for John Rocker.

The only way they can escape the problems of people only liking them for their money is to do good work. In becoming philanthropists, they can have a more meaningful life.

John Rocker is a human being who is still trying to explain himself. He needs to realize this is where talk is cheap. He can never explain it away. He just needs to let his actions do the talking.

I think he is like many people who move up the ladder quickly in their youth. They don't know how high they have gotten and how hard they are going to fall when their ego gets the best of them. God has forgiven me for my sins and I can forgive John Rocker of his.

Below is the link for Jeff Pearlman's follow-up.

It was right to have reported what John Rocker said. It was inevitable that he would have been exposed.

Jeff Pearlman crosses the line when he insinuates that John Rocker is hopeless. I don't think John Rocker is hopeless or a bigot. John Rocker talks too damn much.

Jeff Pearlman was the messenger. He is not responsible for John Rocker's losses. Every year a few athletes, actors and newsmakers find themselves as players of a scandal.

I'm also flawed. Being a Baptist, oh boy, I know I have sinned.

For all have sinned and fell short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

He who is without sin throw the first stone. John 8:7

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I'm still here.

I had 248 views on my writer facebook page. Seeing as I have 12 likes and have posted nothing in almost two years, I couldn't be more curious about why so many visited. I would put something up real quick but that is about like closing the barn door after the cows got out.

You can't hurry love, time or anything else for that matter. When I first wanted to write, everything told me how to sell what I wrote. Then it dawned on me, that was the final step. So, I don't sign up or purchase anything that tells me how to sell my writing. I need to produce something I am proud of first. The facebook page is a reminder that building a platform could have been delayed until I was actually ready.

What can I say, I was overeager about something in my mid-fifties. Being consistent is what I need to be. More than a little frustrated at my slow pace. My book is now a series of morphs. I am in the process of ditching what I have written and starting fresh. The blank page looks enormous. So I find myself blogging.

Politics is sizzling in Georgia. The ads are little slicker this year on television in the senate race. The governorship is a series of he's a dirty rat ads we are used to. How someone cannot vote with all that passion drumming. Of course the devil in all the contenders is in the details. The fine print that no one notices until it explodes in a scandal.

Do I sound like a compromiser? Well I am. I swear I'm not a liberal. It just that in Georgia it doesn't take much to be a liberal. Gay marriage, I knew when they made laws banning it, these lawmakers were "wink, wink" at their gay brothers and sisters saying I'll deliver. Until the laws were on record, the courts had nothing to uphold or ban. I think Gays have a right to marry. I just think some of the conservative religious folks should have known what they were creating.

I vote independent. I like President Obama. I think he has done a good job considering how dirty politics has become.

Sunday night has eight big dramas which I have never watched. I am going to watch a few and tape a few. It will take me a few weeks of this to decide if I have been missing anything. My big television shows are SNL and Big Bang Theory. I record both because I am prone to falling asleep.

Anyway, I wonder if any the Sunday dramas will rival the political ads coming. We are three weeks from the election.


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