Friday, April 29, 2011

Wedding Schmedding


One of the effects of Dad's stroke has been the inability to speak.


He can get out the rare "Yup" or "Nope" - not much else.

Don't worry - this isn't going to be a whiny "strokes suck" post. (Although they do. Hard.)

This is going to be an "even under the duress of a massive stroke, Tut rocks" post.

Last night, as I was getting ready to leave the hospital, I said, "I'll be back early tomorrow morning, Dad." He smiled at me with the look of love to which I have become addicted. He seemed to be in good spirits, so I decided to play.

"We can watch the royal wedding."

His smile faded a little bit.

"We can talk about the dresses and the flowers..."

Now he was almost`grimacing...

"...and the hats."

He gripped my hand and said, clear as a bell, "Uh uh!"

So happy to hear his voice, I kissed his face.

"Don't worry. We'll watch the golf channel."

He released his grip, smiled, and closed his eyes, confident that the next day would be more about putters and less about princesses.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Run and Tell That

My mother - like many good church-going folks - relies heavily on prayer chains when faced with a crisis situation. I always looked at them more as gossip chains - a way to get the word passed around under the guise of concern rather than the titillation we associate with the back fence. The end result is the same - one is told; many are informed.

Social media is sort of like that, too.

Blogging, Facebook, Twitter - for someone like me who does not use any of those outlets to promote myself professionally, they can become gossipy as well. And just like the prayer chains - we tend to report 'acceptable' concerns. Cancer? Out of work? High risk pregnancy? Chat away publicly - there will be lots of support. Mentally ill? STD? Unwanted pregnancy? Better confine that to people you know and trust - you don't want that shiz getting out on anyone's chain, prayer or otherwise.

So it's somewhat controlled gossip.

My father had a stroke last week.

I didn't want to post too much about it - though it consumed me, so it leaked out little by little anyway - because I didn't want to present it as fodder for gossip. I also didn't want to use my family's crisis in a manner that might be considered to be exploitative.

But it made it to the prayer chains.

And I can't tell you how happy my mom was when people she hadn't informed came out of the woodwork to offer their support. Had they been informed via gossip? I guess. Sort of. It fits with Webster's definition. But it wasn't malicious, as we tend to believe gossip is. It was well-intended and well-received.


With no intent towards being traditionally gossipy, I will share:

My father had a stroke, and I am afraid.

Since it happened, almost a week ago now, I have wanted to say more words at times - but they've all boiled down to that.

I'm sure I will have more words in the future.

I'm not exactly the type to suffer in silence.

I don't want to be a gossip.

But neither do I want to be afraid alone.

So many people have offered their thoughts and their prayers that I can almost literally feel the support. If you had told me that that would be possible a week ago, I would've accused you of smoking crack. You can't feel good thoughts - 'sending good thoughts' is just something people say when they don't know what else to do, right? I don't know. Maybe. But I swear I can feel the collective good thoughts of relatives and friends and friends of friends...

And it really does help.

So I'm not going to try to be quiet anymore. I'm not going to try to fend off gossip. Because gossip isn't always and necessarily bad.

My father had a stroke, and I am afraid.

Pass it on.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nobody is in the Parking Lot During Halftime

I have a vague recollection of an article in my college newspaper. It spoke to our ability to make a controversy out of anything. It said something to the effect of:

Consider the following sentence, presented in an editorial: The sun was shining brightly through the beautifully colored leaves while two of my frat brothers tossed the Frisbee back and forth in the parking lot during halftime of the football game on Saturday.

That single sentence could - and probably would - elicit at least a few of the following responses:

Frisbee is a registered trademark. You should refer to it as a flying disc or include the trademark symbol. ~ a first year law student

Sun? Where were you? It was cloudy for the whole game. ~Debbie Downer

Don't call your fraternity a frat, bro. Would you call your country a (deleted)? ~ a concerned member of the interfraternity council

There are no trees in the parking lot, dufus. ~ your roommate

This sentence is veering dangerously close to run-on territory. ~ ed.

Nobody is in the parking lot during halftime. ~ a representative of the marching band

They probably did a better job with that than I did, but the gist is right on. Surely you'll forgive me if my feeble brain couldn't come up with a verbatim quote 'leventy 'leven years after graduation.

Or maybe you won't. Or maybe you just don't like my use of the word 'feeble'. Or maybe it offends you that I started the last three sentences with coordinating conjunctions that failed to coordinate anything.

The point is, even the most seemingly benign statements can become controversial. I've been on both sides of that, heaven knows.

My blog post stirred up some respectful controversy yesterday. It caught me off guard, but in a pleasant way, because it encouraged thought towards a dissenting opinion and never became heated and ugly.

The first protest came from the unexpected source of my handsome husband. His issue was semantic - he objected to my use of the term 'lifestyle choice'. Perhaps, in retrospect, the word choice could've been eliminated, however it gave me pause. Why did I use the term 'choice' when I do believe that one's sexual preferences are pre-wired. Born This Way, right Gaga? I used the term quickly and easily and without a moments thought. When I applied retrospection to it, however, I decided to let it stand. I don't believe that we really have a choice as to our sexual preference, but engaging in the lifestyle IS a choice. Please do not misinterpret. I just know more than one person who tried to live a straight lifestyle when that was indeed not their orientation. In every case, they were miserable and in most cases they made the people around them miserable, too. The lifestyle they were born to, in my opinion, is the RIGHT choice, but it is indeed a choice.

I stand uncorrected, but thankful for the opportunity to put the extra thought into it.

The second protest came from a person who thought that I was implying that students who chose not to participate did not believe in the cause. I read and re-read the post trying to find what might have caused that perception, but I came up blank. Everyone expresses themselves in a different way and I am super-cool with that.

I stand uncorrected and a little confused.

The third protest was that when the majority participate in an activity like this, those who do not participate - even if their dissension is expressed by non-compliance rather than outright contrariness - are made to feel uncomfortable and may be pulled along into making a statement that they perhaps had not intended to make. This protest rang true to me. This is concerning. You can't combat bullying with bullying. My husband provided the example of prayer in schools. If the majority hold public prayers in schools, the students who do not participate in these prayers are automatically ostracized - even if they are not protesting, merely not participating. My answer to that was that nobody ever asks for one day of non-school sanctioned prayer - the request is usually for school sanctioned daily prayer. IF we were talking about one non-sanctioned day, there might be a good point here - but as it is, I think we're comparing apples to oranges.


I stand somewhat corrected. While I don't see what these kids did - this silent protest - as bullying as I tend to picture it, there is that inherent issue with being non-compliant and potentially ostracized. From talking to both of my girls, I do not believe that that is how it played out on any level, but it is a very valid concern.

Man oh man, do I love it when a silly little thing I tap out on my keyboard forces others to force me to think things through more clearly. Hopefully I, in return, offer them things to think about as well.

Yay interwebs.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Sound of Silence

My teens are participating in the National Day of Silence today. They have chosen to not speak in an effort to bring attention to anti-LGBT name calling, bullying and harassment in their school. I am proud of them for having made this choice.

My eldest told me that there were a lot of students discussing it earlier in the week to determine whether or not they would participate and if so, what level of participation they planned to engage in. She said that while the vast majority of students - even those who had opted out of participation - were treating it respectfully, there was a handful who announced their intention to "talk extra loud".

Now I get choosing not to participate.

And I get not agreeing with the cause. (Ok, I don't really get that. But I'm trying to be respectful.)

But I do NOT get standing up in support of bullying.

The idea behind this day is not acceptance of LGBT lifestyles (although that would be nice, too...). The idea is to protest the active bullying of people based upon the lifestyle choices that they have made or are perceived as having made. By making a conscious decision to "talk extra loud" on this day, they are making clear their support of bullying - not their objections to a lifestyle choice.

It saddens me - and frightens me - that anyone would stand up for this cause. I try to be tolerant - because it's hard to preach tolerance with intolerance - but sometimes it's difficult. Westboro Baptist makes it difficult. People who actively support bullying make it difficult. How does one find it in one's heart to tolerate that?

I hope my girls, their classmates, and the many students across the nation who are participating in this have a very successful day. I hope they make their point, because what a lovely way to make it - not with hate speech, but with silence.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm OK, You're OK

Think, for a moment, about the happiest, most content person you know. Now, I don't know who you're thinking about, but I bet I can tell you one thing about them: They have accepted the life they were given. I bet this person you're thinking of is not a liar or a social climber. I'd also be willing to bet that they're not the richest, most successful, most beautiful person you know, either. (They MIGHT be one or even two of those things, but I have very strong doubts that they are all three.)


I bet this person isn't perfect.

You might not even envy their life.

But their attitude...

I know quite a few happy, content people. I don't count myself fully among them - yet - but I am working very diligently on it. Because I have noticed that common thread - that secret - and it is not out of the reach of anyone. Not even me. Not even you.

I will confess that in the past, I have looked on people who have less than me - whether that be less money, less status, less - whatever - who are perfectly happy - I mean really perfectly happy - and thought - well, that's just because they don't know how much more is out there.

I inwardly accused them of ignorance.

I have looked on people who have more than me - whether that be more money, more status, more - whatever - who are perfectly unhappy - I mean really perfectly unhappy - and thought - well, they have no idea how much they have.

I inwardly accused them of arrogance.

I was WAY off base on both counts. Off base, unfair, and pretty ridiculously naive.

Because - come on, your momma told you this - happy doesn't come from money or status or success. What your momma may have failed to add - I know mine did - was where it DOES come from. I was told - and believed, on some level - that money doesn't buy happiness. and we've all seen very prominent examples of this. Status and success just fuel the drive for more status and success - and there is ALWAYS more - always further to go - the summit is never reached.

Happy people - content people - know who they are. It's no big secret that I struggle with this - I have been very open about that. I'm figuring it out, slowly but surely. I may be a late bloomer, but bloom I shall, and it will be glorious. So that's step one. Know who you are. Step two appears to be LIKE who you are. More advice from Momma popping up - didn't your momma tell you that no one would love you until you could love yourself? Well, what do you know? She was right. Again.

And when you manage it, you will be happy.

So that sounds pretty easy, right? A two step process. Know yourself. Like yourself.

Ok, it's not all that easy.

But it's doable.

When you get there - really get there - then I don't believe the size of your house or your bank account or even your jeans will matter quite so much. People who have achieved this - knowing themselves and liking themselves - seem to be better equipped to handle whatever life throws at them - to accept their circumstances without letting it effect their course too much. "Oh! This is my new reality? All righty, then!" They don't blame their situation on divine retribution or an unkind twist of fate. They don't wonder how others will view and judge them, they just do what they know in their hearts is the right thing for them to do. They make no apologies for it. That's just the way it is. And the way it is for them may not be the way it is for me or for you, but that's cool. That's ok.

I have not, by the way, come anywhere close to achieving this particular level of Zen-like self acceptance. I'm still working on figuring out who I am, remember? But it's nice to notice it and believe it and articulate it. Putting it into words - for me - makes it more real.

Now for putting it into action...

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me. ~ Stuart Smalley

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bite Me

I have mentioned, from time to time, my implant process. Tooth implant, that is. I don't want to misrepresent and titillate unnecessarily. So to speak.

It began in early September and a few weeks ago I mentioned light at the end of the tunnel. Which has since been squelched. Because in the months since the extraction I've been wearing a silly and uniquely annoying little device to fill the space left open. It serves no real function beyond aesthetics. Apparently, one of the jobs that it didn't do that a real tooth would have is keep the tooth next to it in place.


A lot of money we didn't really have has been invested in this implant process. This was not aesthetic - this was necessary. Beyond the investment of money, there has been the investment of time and pain and social awkwardness. I've put a lot into this stupid tooth.

And now the tooth next to it is twisted.


To make all of this pain and time and money worthwhile, I will need to invest a little pain and time and money into orthodontia.

I am 48 years old.

I do not have the whitest teeth in the world - but they have always been straight. When I first broke the tooth that caused all of this trouble - some 40 odd years ago - I remember the dentist shaking his head and telling my mother with great sadness in his voice, "It's a shame. I've rarely seen such a perfect bite."

And now I'm getting braces.

I went to the orthodontist yesterday for a consultation.

Orthodontist's offices are very - kid friendly.

As I was touring the bright, kid-friendly facility, I had a hot flash. Are you effing kidding me with this? Just keep heaping on those humiliations. I've survived old, fat and toothless - I can take anything. Bring it on.

I don't know what I was hoping he'd say, but I know I WASN'T hoping that he'd add another 3 months (or so - whatever that means...) to the time I'll have to wait for my crown and my smile.

But that's what he did.

That is just what he did.