Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Where Are The Cunninghams?

The good old days.  The days of awesome dresses, cocktails before dinner, matching bedspreads and curtains, everything in order.  I wish I had been an adult in that time.  I caught the very tail of it as a child visiting my aunt.  I remember the gold bedspreads and the gold curtains in the guest room.  I remember never seeing my aunt without her make-up or robe in the morning.  I remember the adult women and men sitting and talking as children found something to occupy themselves.  We were not entertained.  The most interaction we had in that regard was an introduction to a game or book.  Then the adult walked away and we were left to our own devices.


I wish I had thought of this stuff when I decided to have a child.  I don’t know why I thought I could do it on my own, that it would be fine for my child to grow up with a dad that wasn’t married to me.  Maybe all the crap I read in WE magazine really wasn’t true.  I was very progressive at that age.  I had an aunt who was very pro-women’s rights.  She had chosen not to marry and have children.  She had chosen a career.  She was able to support herself and her aging mother.  She could travel with her sister when she felt like it.  She answered to no one, except maybe her publisher or her boss at the school where she taught English.  I always thought she was having a secret affair with her editor.  Now, as I look back, I realize she was probably a lesbian.  Who knew? 

But I digress.   I wish we could turn back time and live life like it was a Happy Days episode.  When Mrs. Cunningham had dinner on the table and Mr. Cunningham could be counted on to lead his family in the right direction.  Where a heart to heart was taken seriously by Richie and Joanie and the morals of the family, while tested at times, were what kept them all on the straight and narrow.  When time wasn’t disposable.  I wish I had thought to give my child that life.  I wish I hadn’t made the choice to be a “modern” woman with a child.  I should have realized that in order to be that woman I should do it without a child.  Once that child was born I should have given it more – more dad, more lessons, more morals, and less - less material, less freedom, less choice.


I thought the more I let her listen to what she wanted to listen to, the more I let her make choices, the more independent and strong she would be.  It didn’t turn out that way.  She turned into a spoiled, potty-mouthed teenager that clung to the wrong guys and married a man almost twice her age.  And now she’s sitting in jail, for a crime I never pictured her committing.

I feel that if America revisits traditional values, the golden rule, common courtesy and the like, that maybe we can start to turn our nation around.  Maybe we wouldn’t be so violent.  Kids would grow up with a male presence in the household.  Moms wouldn’t have to brag that they are both mom and dad (which I can’t stand to hear, although I stated it as well at one point).  Women wouldn’t be looking for help saying “Well I am a single mother!”  I have hated that statement from day one.  I myself never used the phrase and didn’t use it as an excuse either.  I chose to be what I was – I walked away from a relationship that didn’t seem fixable, and since we weren’t married it made it all the easier – on me.  Unless someone is widowed, it should never be used.  So many women walked into my office and said that and I wanted to say that it was their choice, but couldn’t because I would lose my job.  It’s NOT an excuse ladies. 

I wish that we could let women stay home and nurture their children and not make them think that they had to be MORE.  Did yesterday’s women not realize that being with their children, nurturing them, teaching them, was way more important than a career?  Look at our world – how is this better?

Mrs. Cunningham was a respected woman in her home.  She was a loved mother and wife and friend.  Sometimes she had to show Howard what she wanted instead of making him guess and being strong was a character trait of hers.  He also knew the golden rule of “Happy wife, happy life” and he treated her well.  We could all take a lesson. 
Women weren't as mean as we are now too.  We didn't have to be.  There was more emphasis on friendships.  We actually leaned on our friends.  We had time to be with them.  We helped them with their children, problems, recipes.  The closeness we used to have has been filled by work relationships and I have found that once you leave that employment, those friendships are not far behind.

I realize the Cunningham’s weren’t real people, only characters in a sitcom, but I feel they were based on real people and a way of life that was ideal, but real nonetheless.  Perhaps we should explore going back to this time when we were a kinder, gentler population.  Go back to the good old days…



Monday, July 28, 2014

Gimpy Goose

On our way to Jack’s Drive-In the other day, we came upon a group of cars stopped for no apparent reason.  As we sat and looked around we noticed a gaggle of Canadian geese were beginning to cross the road.  Where we live this usually isn’t a problem. In the city, it definitely could become one.
Geese in the city.
We were getting a little upset with the person at the front of the line when a couple geese stopped crossing and they had room and time to go, but I’m so glad they didn’t.  I looked off to the right and there were two geese left, one slightly larger than the other.  The smaller goose was very noticeably limping.  The larger one was waiting for it.  Whether it was mom, dad, or mate it waited for that little injured goose to get across before it followed.  And it was so obvious once the gimpy goose started across what it was doing.  At first it looked like it was just hanging around, picking at the ground with it’s beak, checking out the tall grass around the telephone pole.  Once that goose started crossing it was there, at attention, and following.

This goose was cleaning his wing and waiting for the hurt one.  Just nonchalantly waiting around.

I never knew geese did that.  When I realized what was happening the simple beauty of it struck me and I started crying.  It made me think.  It made me wish that we were all like those geese in that way; watching out for our weak, our hurt, instead of exploiting them and leaving them in our wake.  I know that is not everyone and I still believe most people are good, but we need to be better and the lesson from this goose will stay with me.  We need to put down our phones and tablets, and we need to hold someone’s hand, or listen, or talk to them or whatever – in order to help them to the other side of what is happening to them.

He was so slow, but he made it across to be with his family - I wish I could have gotten the other goose in the shot but that car pulled up and blocked it.

Take a moment and see what you can do to help the gimpy goose in your life.  The results might surprise you, and the surge in your heart will amaze you.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Do you ever look at a white screen and wonder “What relevant words will pour from my fingers today?”?  I am asking myself this at this very moment.  I know I need to write, but what do I want to write about right now?  What do people want to read?  No offense, but I gave up romantic poetry when I was seventeen.  When I realized Romeo and Juliet were right to kill themselves.  Stupidity such as theirs needs to be destroyed.  Star crossed lovers?  More like co-dependent children.  Romance was for fairy tales.   It still is.

I was reading the newspaper earlier and there were stories that made me think that I should write about my opinion but sometimes (meaning most of the time) I wonder if I’m really agreeing or disagreeing with an article or passively aggressively sabotaging myself.  I find myself leaning farther and farther to the right either as I grow older or because I work in a largely republican atmosphere.  I’m not sure which.  Sometimes I hear something pop out of my mouth and I can’t believe I said something that may be construed as racist or non-gay. 

Here was a conversation a couple weeks ago with my boyfriend about facebook and gay marriage.  I’m not even sure how it came about to that but here is the gist:

“I am so tired of hearing about gay marriage!” – me.

“Well, it’s important to them and it’s their right to get married” – him.

“But I have gay friends and it is all I ever see on their facebook posts.  Gay marriage this, gay marriage that.  There’s nothing else” – me.

“Because they should be able to post pictures of their weddings like straight people do.  We post stuff all the time about our life, why is it not ok for them to post theirs?” – him.

“Because that’s all they post!  Not THEIR weddings!  Gay propaganda!  I want to know what my friends are doing on the weekend or what their gardens look like or what crazy thing their pets or kids did in the last twenty four hours!”  - me.

“Oh my God!  It’s not like I hate gay people.  Don’t look at me like that” – me.  I put my face in my hands.

“So you don’t like the political postings” – him.

“YES!”  - me, exclaiming it loudly. 

I HATE political posts on facebook because everyone sounds like they are expert assholes and I don’t want my friends to be assholes.

So no, I’m not homophobic, and I know equal rights for everyone is important, I’m just very tired of the political positioning everyone takes.  I think we should all just try to be nicer to one another.  Everyone, not just regular people. Politicians, criminals, lawyers, police, business owners, crossing guards, etc., etc., etc. 

Well, now.  There we are.  I have actually written something today.  Is it relevant?  Not really sure.  Will it be read?  Probably not.  If it gets read, will anyone comment on it?  I highly doubt it.  But I have reached the goal I wanted to reach today and it has actually made me want to write something else.

Have a great day!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Farmer's Market Friday

It’s Farmer’s Market day.  The last Friday I went over it seemed like a postcard picture day.  The sun was shining, a soft breeze blowing – not too cold or hot.  Our local Farmer’s Market is set in the middle of our little village in a park shaded by old maples with a large fountain set at the center.  The grass is green, and although I have never seen anyone mow it, it is the perfect length and softness that if you wanted to go barefoot it wouldn’t hurt.  The fact that there is no dog poo either is utterly amazing.  The people around here take care of their dog’s business.  It’s a sense of pride in the community, I think, and an all-around niceness of the community.

I say all of this now, in the middle of July, as the sun beats down on the tops of our heads and shoulders, warming my heart and soul and making me feel generous towards my fellow man and woman.  I don’t always feel this way.  In mid-February I could hibernate and never see another soul and I would be just fine.  Yet, in the summer, in this setting, even if I do only get a half hour, it is the best of times.

Sitting on the newly painted park bench (still looks wet, but the bright green is definitely dry), I watch the vendors selling fresh vegetables or baked goods.  Some sell organic meat and I think of what a sweet deal I get every year.  Not organic, but grass-fed and cheap.  Organic may or may not be the greatest thing, I don’t know, but it is way too expensive for me.

There is a man playing guitar and singing folk songs that I recognize from music class when I was a kid.   The music is not overwhelming and I can hear the murmur of people bartering or running into their neighbors or acquaintances. 

I look to my right and there is a group of folks of all different ages, sizes and in a totally different assortment of clothing that are practicing Tai chi.  Sometimes I wish I had an hour for lunch – I could get in on that too.  Watching them, however, is very relaxing and it helps me exhale.

At the fountain is a young woman and her best friend (I’m assuming).  She is a larger girl who seems to have a minor case of Downs Syndrome.  (If there is a better way to describe that, please let me know)  She’s crying over a boy who doesn’t understand.  I want to go up to her and tell her that they never do understand, but that it isn’t important.  What is important is that she understands and learns from it.  I don’t, of course.  No one takes advice from strangers unless they are famous strangers.  Her friend lets her go on to cry it out, like a good friend.  Her tears bring tears to my eyes, but then they walk away and she becomes the past.

I feel like I am in the opening scenes of a Hallmark movie.  The colors are so beautiful although somewhat hazy.  I have not worn my glasses, out of vanity, but also because I want this time.  If I see someone and acknowledge them I will give away this little bit of my own Twilight Zone.  This zone that allows me to be a part of this scene, but just as an observer, unless I choose to take that step and walk into it.  Once in I would have to make the choice to stay there forever or to step out and go back to my office.  Although I’d like to stay, responsibility sends me back to my desk.

Someday I would like to be able to step through that haze, but I will take this day and hold it in my memory and look back on it when it comes to mind on a warm sunny day.  The sights, the smells, the sounds all will remind me of a place where I could belong if I really wanted to.  If I trusted myself to society instead of my loner existence.  Where I would no longer be the anonymous girl taking pictures or buying flowers or eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich under a 200 year old maple.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  I’m not talking Christmas.  It’s the beginning of school supply sales!  I love these times, because I have a fetish for paper and all things that go with it!  Staplers, paint, pencils, crayons – could it get any better?  YES!  Different colored notebooks!  Old marble composition books now in neon colors!  Textured paper, lined paper, college-ruled paper – do you see where I’m going with this?  I LOVE IT! 

Shopping in Wally-world the other night we saw the shelves were starting to be stocked with supplies.  We had originally entered this shopping establishment for two things – boat oil and a sympathy card for a wake that we missed.  However, once the oil was decided upon and we were on our way to the greeting cards we came upon the most amazing sight – school supplies in abundance on July 16th, no less. 

By the way, I do have a problem with the stores rolling out seasons way before we are ready for them.  I think it is disgusting to see Halloween costumes and candy on the shelves at the end of August.  I feel the same way about Christmas stuff on the shelves at the end of October.  I also believe that if a store is going to sell Christmas items they should also play Christmas music.  I don’t know how many times I have walked out of a store because I want to shop for the holiday, but it has pushed me to shop on-line and either watch the holiday specials on TV or listen to Christmas music that I choose myself.  It’s just wrong that it isn’t played in stores anymore.  Is it like this everywhere?

But I digress.  My point is this – I got there before everything had been picked over so I got first dibs!  I tried not to go overboard and I think I did succeed.  I bought two sets of almost everything – notebooks in five different colors, composition books, colored pencils, crayons, markers, pencil bags – and then a couple odds and ends, like the fluorescent orange composition book and the teal one-inch binder.  The folders looked cheap, but weren’t priced as cheap as they looked.  I remembered a few years ago when I got folders for ten to twenty-five cents apiece.  Not the other night.  I walked away.  I couldn’t be persuaded to buy folders that looked like they would rip apart before their first use, let alone stay together for a full school year.  No, I will look elsewhere for my folders.  Glue sticks!  A six pack was 97¢ - not bad for something that goes to school and you never again see.

I could have spent more time browsing, much more time, but we were running late.  Dinner was waiting and we had already missed Jeopardy.  Happy with my purchase, we left the store.  As we drove away, I remembered what I was supposed to pick up – the sympathy card.  Guess I’m headed back to the store.  I wonder if new items have been added to the supplies.  This time I’m buying the card first!




Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Twenty-Seven Years

Twenty-seven years.  Twenty-seven years ago I woke up to the news that you were gone.  I know I’m not the only one who remembers, but I know that I only remember my version.  I know that others heard differently, maybe through a phone call, or a police visit.  I heard about it on the radio and when I yelled no, that it couldn’t be you, my family told me I was dreaming.  If only I had been.  Maybe the memories of you are made sweeter because you left us so young with everything ahead of you.  I know that we would have drifted apart, that we already had started to in some ways.  We were just kids then, as you will always be. 

I wonder who you would be today.  I have a feeling you would have stayed here and not moved on.  I can see you hanging out at the garage with the guys and running into you every once in a while at the river.  Would we even talk?  I know there are others that played, that stayed, and we never talk.  They don’t seem to have grown at all, and that would be my worry.  Would I even like you now had you never died?  Would you still be the jock living your high school glory, over and over and over?  Would you still believe that every girl wanted you?  Because they wouldn’t.  I still remember how I felt about 40-something guys when I was seventeen.  They were gross.  But guys of a certain age don’t think that way.  They still think that they are God’s gift and look at those girls like they are giving them a compliment, not the heebie jeebies. 

I say these things because I don’t want you to be a saint.  I also say them because this is the first time I realized that I might know who you would be and it almost makes me glad you are gone.

You were an alcoholic; you just didn’t realize it yet.  We all had an idea of it, but you were so much fun, up to that point where you wanted to fight.  And it was such a hairpin point too.  You never knew when it would happen but knew immediately when it did and it didn’t seem to bother you that you took everyone along for the ride.  I remember sitting in the backseat wondering if we would survive to see the morning.  Then, one day, you didn’t.

I took the lesson to heart.  For a couple years I refused to ride with anyone drunk, tried to pry keys out of their hands, talked to them about you so they wouldn’t do the same thing.  I didn’t stop partying.  I was just more careful, for a while, anyway. 

Then there were the nights I drove home holding one hand over an eye, trying to see straight.  Seeing shooting stars and believing they were deceased friends and family guiding me home.  Maybe they were – who knows?  I like to think so, because I saw more shooting stars at 2:30 in the morning than I have at any other time in my life.  I took on the attitude that you only live once, “Only the Good Die Young” became my song, I felt a connection to James Dean, and my life became one fast and crazy and sad place to be.  Sleeping with anyone I felt a strong connection to was my way to keep them alive, since I had refused to sleep with you. 

The ghost of you was always there in those years right after you died, influencing my decisions.  I hadn’t realized it until now.  Eventually you have faded from our minds.  We remember you fondly as a good guy, the ladies’ man, the good son, brother, friend.  Your name comes up at your family member’s funerals, maybe at the milestone of a niece or nephew, looking at school pictures, or just sitting around reminiscing.  It’s not awkward anymore, although it is still sad.  When I hear ACDC or George Thorogood I still smile and think that you’re the subject to “Bad to the Bone”.  I will always remember our secret late nights by the river, parked in your car and making out, never going any farther than kisses.  Our dream of a little house with a white picket fence became a reality without you.
Needless to say, I still miss you.