Musing

Crying Jag

photo of woman covering her face

I cried today.  That’s nothing new. Every since this pandemic/quarantine started I cry about something every few days. I never know what will set me off.  Sometimes its the lack of something, sometimes it’s the feeling of being trapped, others its the feeling that nothing will ever feel normal or an injustice of some sort. Sometimes it’s sheer frustration over everything, all the million little things combined together that I can’t pick just one.  All I know is that I’m so done I can’t take another piece of bad or frustrating news no matter how big or small.

My latest crying jag comes compliments of a podcast by writer Sean Dietrich.  I was listening to his June 5th (yes I know a month late) entry entitled Essays from a Turbulent World.  The first story he tells just got to me. There I stood washing produce I’d just picked up at the store when big ole fat tears started rolling down my face. This guy is the writer I wish I was. He summed up all that I had been feeling in one little essay.

Here’s a link to the episode I spoke of but I invite you to download it on your platform of choice.
https://seanofthesouthshow.com/2020/06/05/essays-from-a-turbulent-world-sean-of-the-south/

Deitrich is on Facebook. He posts a daily essay there that has become my little ritual. Before I begin my day, I sit there on my couch with my coffee and read his essay before I look at my news app.  About a month ago, I discovered he did a podcast reading his essays among other things. He sounds like a Southern Garrison Keilor. His voice is both gruff and soothing and to me embodies a Southern gentleman.  He often speaks of music, fishing, his dogs, good food, manual labor, love, and family.  He pokes fun at things like Southern Baptists and how hell hath no fury like a woman who didn’t get her Tupperware back from a funeral wake.  In other words, he talks about all the things that make the world go round.  He’s worth a look or a listen.

Photo by Eternal Happiness free from Pexels.com.

 

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Rants

Granny

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I want to talk about my maternal grandmother. I called her Granny.  Today would have been her 95th birthday. Ninety five years – that seems like a long time and it is when you think about a person’s lifespan but when you think about time in general, it’s really not.

My Granny was a change of life baby. The last of 8 living children. In fact, the two oldest children had already left home when Granny was born.  To say she wasn’t welcomed would have been an understatement but then again she was because she was another helper in the fields.  You see my great grandparents were sharecroppers and they needed every pair of hands they had to tend to the fields.  Because my Granny’s older siblings were leaving the farm for city jobs and opportunities, my Granny dropped out of school after the 5th grade. She worked in the fields until she ran off to the nearest town and lied about her age to get a job in the lingerie factory where one of her older sisters worked. Granny laughed about making bras and underpants one minute and making parachutes for WWII the next.

One day a handsome full of himself soldier home from WWII whistled at my Granny walking on the other side of the street. She cussed him out for being “fresh”. They married soon after and had six children. Only four would live to adulthood.  My Granny and Granddaddy worked hard to support their family. My Granddaddy was a mechanic and my Granny a homemaker. When my Granddaddy got injured on the job and couldn’t work, she worked in a drug store that had a soda fountain until he could work again. Today we’d call them the working poor and they’d be eligible for public assistance. I was their first grandchild.  I was brought home from the hospital to their house and would live there until I was almost 7. By the time I came along Granny was pretty grumpy. She complained A LOT about a lot of things but she never really complained about her lot in life.  She was proud of how far she had come despite only having a 5th grade education. She had a house that was paid for and not a sharecropper house owned by some farmer.  She would never suffer the indignity her parents had of being put out of their home when they physically could no longer farm the land.  Her living children all went to elementary, junior high, and high school although not all of them would graduate at least they all went.  A few years later her first grandchild would graduate from high school and college – the first in my family on either side to do so.  When she died at 76 she left behind a pretty good legacy. She didn’t go down in the history books for doing great things but she was important to our family.

I told y’all about my Granny to say this – because of Granny and my other grandparents who share similar origin stories, I will never accept the premise of white privilege. When I hear phrases like “your people kept us down” and “your family owned my family” it makes my blood boil.  My family worked right alongside black families in the field working for the man.  My family scrimped, saved, and worked their asses off to get everything they got. Plenty of people tried to keep my family down but they kept trying to climb. One struggle is not equal to another struggle.

Do some people enjoy certain privileges due to social station, gender and/or race? Absolutely, but to lump everyone of a certain race together and make a blanket statement is completely and wholly false. Isn’t that one of the tenants of our current situation? Don’t make blanket statements? Don’t stereotype? Yet nowadays it’s almost a sin and a crime to be white. Newsflash y’all, no one gets to pick their race. No one gets to pick the social status one is born into. Racism has always been. One cannot change the hearts of people. People must change their own hearts. We must treat people – all people regardless of race, gender, or social station with kindness and respect. Until we all start doing our part nothing will change.

Photo Credit: Probably my mother.  This is a picture of my grandparents. I miss them every day.  That tiny head down at the bottom right is me. I was always looking up to them.  I still do.

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Irony

King George, Transcription and a Bit of Light Reading

king georgeWhat did y’all do this past holiday weekend? No wait, let me guess.  If you weren’t blowing up your paychecks with fireworks you were watching Hamilton on Disney+. Am I right? 

We did both and I have to say I cannot get King George III’s lines out of my head. He stole the show. Be forewarned if you haven’t seen it I’m going to do a little spoiling. I know his lines/lyrics are the brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda and yes I know King George III didn’t actually say any of those things, yet everything stated was actually true and he could have said them if he’d wanted to. However, the thing that struck me the most is how accurate the words were in the late 1700s and in 2015 when the musical debuted and today five years later. I did a little transcription and I’m going to quote it to prove my point. 

In the King’s second act, he says, “Do you know how hard it is to lead. It’s much harder when it’s your call. All Alone. Across the Sea. When people say they hate you don’t come crawling back to me.” Super ironic considering it seems like the whole world hates America including a goodly number of its citizens. Hate is a very strong word so let’s go with highly disenfranchised for the folks that live here and are unhappy.

In the King’s third and final scene he learns George Washington is stepping down as President and John Adams will take his place. Not only does he make fun of Adams for not commanding the same authority and respect but he also says, ” All alone watch them run. They will tear each other to pieces Jesus Christ this will be fun.” He’s not wrong. The Federalist and Anti-Federalist (Democratic-Republicans) were at each others throats pretty much after the last shot was fired in the war for our independence. The Federalists wanted a strong centralized federal government controlled by wealthy, educated property owners. The Democratic-Republicans wanted a smaller government run mostly by the states.  In a mear 87 years, our country really did tear each other apart with a Civil War.  I fear our country is about to tear itself apart again.  I wonder if other nations are laughing as King George III did? 

In all fairness, it’s really not surprising we did tear each other apart and continue to do so. If you’d like a bit of light reading (tongue firmly planted in cheek) about why it’s a freaking miracle we are still the United States, I invite you to read a couple of books both by Colin Woodard.  The first is called American Nations and the second, American Character.  It’s a deep dive into how our nation was formed and settled by different groups all having their own distinct characteristics they brought from their original homeland.  It’s absolutely fascinating to see how different the Quakers varied from the Dutch that varied from the Scottish and so on and so forth.  

Finally, if you haven’t seen Hamilton go immediately and watch it.  It’s wonderful. History has never been so interesting. 

 

Photo Credit: I have no idea. I searched King George the III free photo and this came up about 1,000 times. It’s obviously a painting by whom I have no idea. It is amazing how much the costuming in Hamilton looks like this painting. Excellent detail.

Lyrics: I quoted lyrics that I transcribed from the play Hamilton by Lin- Manuel Miranda.  As always, not copyright infringement is intended. I do this blog for free. I’m not making any money on it. I’m broke. Don’t sue me.

 

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Musing

Daydream

I have a distinct memory of being on my red swing set in my grandmother’s back yard shortly after the last summer vacation I would have until I became an adult. I was five and about to start Kindergarten. I was day dreaming about going to school but instead of heading off to the elementary school a few miles from my house, I was daydreaming about starting school in Florida. I remember this daydream because it was my favorite one.  It’s the one I’d often revisit when I was sad or in winter when I thought the days of cold, gray skies would never end.  I would close my eyes and imagine walking down 30A to go to a bus stop. I could see in my minds eye the white sugar sand at the edge of the blacktop road. I would imagine walking in that sand right next to the grass. If I tried hard enough I could remember the faint smell of Coppertone and Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil. I imagined if I lived there I would get home from school every afternoon and instead of running to my trusty swing set I would instead head to the beach and play in the ocean.

As I have gotten older my daydream has shifted. I dream of a cute but very humble cinderblock shack across the street or maybe one street over from the beach. Something close enough that I can open my bedroom window and be lulled to sleep by the sounds of waves crashing on the beach. I’d have a shitty job at a souvenir shop or maybe CVS, making just enough money to cover the absolute basics expenses. I might or might not have a car – maybe just a moped or bike. When I wasn’t doing the things I had to do like working, eating, and sleeping, I would be on the beach.

I don’t know if this daydream will ever become a reality or if it will just remain a daydream for the rest of my life. I’d like to think one day it will happen but as recent weeks have shown there’s just no way to truly plan as some things are just out of our hands.  Still, it’s nice to have to goal, a dream, a hope. 

Photo Credit: Probably my Mom. This is me on that last trip. 

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Uncategorized

Amusement Park Love

One of my most favorite things in the whole world is amusement rides. It doesn’t matter if they are at a fly by night carnival in the parking lot of a defunct mall or Disneyland, I love them all.  I think my love for these rides began when my mother took me to the now defunct Opryland in Nashville, TN.  That place seemed like a wonderland. I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a city with a major amusement park.  It’s a big and wondrous place as a child, a cool place to hang out when you’re a teen, and a place to relive memories of childhood when you’re an adult.  If you’re lucky you can pass on your own love to of these places with your children.

We currently live within a short drive to a Six Flags park. It’s sort of dirty, several of the rides break down a lot and the people who attend are sometimes pretty sketchy but its better than nothing.

I’ve had the good fortune to have visited many parks over the years.  Opryland, Kings Island, Carowinds, Seaworld, Six Flags over Texas, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Six Flags over Georgia, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure all of them wonderful in their own way. But, I have to admit my heart belongs to Disney Parks. I’d be hard pressed to pick my favorite.

It has pained my soul to go all spring and now into summer without riding at least one roller coaster. Amusement parks are just now starting to open nationwide. All of them with a myriad of rules to enter.  It’s not just enough to have a ticket or season pass. And, don’t even get me started on the mask situation. There’s no way in hell I’m going to wear a mask in 90% humidity outside. I am fine with wearing them inside in the air conditioning but I draw the line outside when I am at least 6 feet away from someone. All that said, I doubt I will go to an amusement park this year. That makes me incredibly sad. I know it’s a petty problem. I can only imagine how some people would scoff at that. I don’t really care.  Some people are sad about sports, I’m not. Some people are sad about other closures. But, to me, the amusement parks are what’s hitting me the hardest. What little luxury are you missing?

Photo Credit: Me.  Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.  I wish I could time travel and stand in that line again. 

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Musing

Bird Watch

black binocular on round deviceI had a realization today. Do y’all remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about being stalked by cardinal birds?  Well, ever since that post went live I have not seen another cardinal on my daily walks. Not. One. Cardinal. I’ve seen blue jays and robins. I’ve seen tiny finches and other birds that I don’t even know their names.  Hell, I even saw a few vultures eating what appeared to be some squirrel roadkill but not one cardinal.  I find that very strange and I’m not sure what to make of it.

Additionally, some of you will remember Phyllis and George the Mallard duck pair. They seemed to have gone away sometime in May.  We finally got the pool clean and ready for swimming and the pump broke, so we fixed it and then it broke again. When it was finally fixed, here comes Phyllis and George. Poor Phyllis, I think she’s a couple of sandwiches shy of a picnic because right around Memorial day she laid her eggs either in the water or on the deck and they rolled into the water.  She left and we thought she was gone for good. It would make sense that they would migrate by now because it’s hot as Satan’s armpit.  Nope, a couple of nights ago they landed gracefully into the pool while we were eating dinner.  I calmly walked out and told them they could hang out in the yard but not in our pool.  They have tried to come a few times but mostly the cycle is they land, we come out and tell them to get out of the pool and they fly off before they can poop in the pool.  We’ll see how much longer this goes on.

Photo credit: Skitterphoto on Pexels

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Recommendations

Book Review

img_1349A few weeks ago, err a month ago, oh let’s be real no one has a concept of time anymore. How about this – not so long ago a fellow blogger recommended a book that I quickly found out was in high demand at my local library.  I wasn’t completely sure what the book was about but I trusted this person’s judgment on books so I put it on hold.  I finally got it a few days ago and I’ve been glued to it ever since. The book I’m talking about, you ask?  Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell.

It’s so weird. I heard Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame mention Malcolm Gladwell’s name in his weekly podcast, The Way I Heard It.  Then this blogger that I follow mentioned this book. I figured I had to check the guy out. One might look at the title and think oh this is like one of those stupid self-help books that teach you how to put yourself out there.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  This book looks at how we perceive strangers, how they perceive us, and how this perception screws us more often than not.  Gladwell offers case after case to illustrate how humans naturally default to the idea that the other person is telling the truth, how if the words and behaviors don’t match we don’t believe a person and how behaviors in different cultures mean different things.

Some of the cases Gladwell uses are Hitler, the Brock Turner rape case at Standford University and the Sandra Bland Police overstep incident right outside of College Station, TX. Those last two cases I plan to have my teenaged kids read.  Both are very gritty but I feel like my kids need to see both sides presented here in this book. We get far more information about the cases including court depositions that the general public was never privy to.  The Brock Turner and Sandra Bland cases especially made my blood boil and heart sink at the same time. In so many cases in this book you think to yourself, that could have been me in that situation if only the other person perceived me a certain way.

Even though this book was published last year, I found several parts of it to be relevant to our current situation of police overstep. A whole section of the book talks about how policing has changed in the last 50 years and how it has gone from keeping the peace to actually looking for crimes. That little piece of information and how it all got started blew me away.

I highly recommend this book for anyone trying to make sense of some of the things going on right now.  It won’t solve any problems but it will give you another perspective which is never a bad thing.

Completely unrelated, I’ve started a new ritual. In the morning, as I drink my coffee and peruse various media outlets, I always hop on over to Facebook to read Sean Dietrich’s daily column.  Sean Dietrich is a southern writer/humorist. He is the writer I wish I could be. The way he describes things makes me long for the rural southern towns my childhood, food made by old ladies and 30A.  I invite you to google him and discover his work as well.

Photo Credit: Screen capture of my phone while I was listening to the book, Talking to Strangers. This is the cover art for both the print and digital edition. No copyright infringement intended.

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Musing

Red bird

orange bird on black metal bar

I am being stalked by Cardinalis cardinalis aka the Northern cardinal. Okay, well maybe stalked is a bit of an exaggeration but not much. For months every time I go on a walk or look out my back window there’s a cardinal looking at me. And, I’m not gonna lie, I’m a bit creeped out/freaked out by it. 

It’s gotten so ridiculous even a girlfriend mentioned it one day when were one of our walks.  She said, “I wonder if that bird is here for me or you.” I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at her.  I couldn’t believe she believed in the legend of cardinals too.

For those who are completely in the weeds, not knowing what I’m talking about, cardinals are believed to be spirit messengers. The word cardinal comes from the Latin word cardo, meaning hinge or axis. Which leads me back to what my friend said, I wonder which one of us that bird trying give a message.

I haven’t asked my friend if she’s being stalked when she goes on her solo runs or if she sees the birds in her back yard too. I ought to ask her.  In the meantime, does anyone know how to speak Cardinal and do you believe in the whole cardinals as messengers thing?

Photo Credit: Josh Fackler on Pexels.com

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Rants

Brain Dump

Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic hit I have vacillated between so much rolling around in my head I can’t settle on anything and not enough complete thoughts to bind together something coherent.  Today is no exception but for a different reason.

I’m sad. I’m angry.  I feel despair. I feel helpless. I’m scared about health issues. I’m concerned about the world my kids continue to grow up in. I’m concerned about our immediate future and the years down the road future.  The one thought that keeps coming back to me is these cries for equality started going down over 50 years ago in the 1960s, why isn’t this shit fixed yet.  And, don’t even get me started on the various pundits and politicians.  Don’t give me your pretty words.  If you really cared you would have done something about it already or when you were in office. Stop worrying about your position or if you will be reelected or if you are snitching on a fellow officer and do the right thing.  Why is it so damn hard for some to just treat others as you would treat yourself or your own loved one.

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Musing

Space Cowboy

architecture dark dawn duskI have a vivid memory of waking up early to sit on my grandmother’s pea soup green Naugahyde couch so I could watch the first shuttle launch in April of 1981. I was six years old. My Grandmother believed if God had intended for man to fly he’d give us wings. I knew better. I knew he’d give us the brains to get there and I wanted to go. When I was 6 years old I still believed I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t yet know I absolutely sucked at math or that I’d fail algebra twice and just get through geometry by the skin of my teeth. I genuinely believed if I wanted it bad enough I could be an astronaut too one day.

A few years later, in January 1986, I happened to be home on a snow day. Of course, I was watching the first teacher in space take off on the ill-fated Challenger. It broke my heart when it exploded a few seconds into its flight. I remember not only feeling sad for the loss of life but fearful the program would be over. When the program did get scrapped in 2011 I was sad but not surprised. The Space program costs a lot of money. And, like most government entities it was full of pork and ridiculousness. My brother in law, an honest to goodness rocket scientist, worked for a Nasa contractor when it all went down. The stories he used to tell of the way Nasa was run, the inflexibility of the program, etc. why it’s no wonder the program ended.  It’s hard to make history and be innovative if you aren’t willing to take risks and think outside the box. 

Today, Space X in collaboration with NASA is launching a manned rocket into space again. It’s groundbreaking because NASA made a deal with weird AF Elon Musk and purchased passage from a private space exploration company instead of building their own rocket. I’ve been watching the preparations off and on since about noon today. In fact, I had live coverage blaring in the background as I was writing this today. And, I just heard the flight is being rescheduled due to weather. It will take place this Saturday, May 30.  I know what I’ll be doing on Saturday. I just wish I could be in Florida to watch.

Photo Credit: Space X free on Pexels. 

 

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