Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Going Home

The journey home is more than physical miles logged on a flying tin can with almost enough leg room for  a third grader. Going home is an emotional sojourn where the jaded middle aged me collides with the hopeful awkwardness of my adolescence.

I love where I live. Every single day from the windowed front of my flat, I gaze  in wonder out over the English Channel.  Amphibious behemoths shuttling people and cargo holds of stuff float by under the watchful eye of the Beachy Head lighthouse nestled where the South Downs plunge to the  sea from alabaster cliffs.

I love scones and tea and fish and chips. I love my local pub and ploughman's lunch. I love the majestic pageantry of all things royal.  I love double decker buses and red phone boxes. Wimbledon and Ascot and rowing on the Thames are quintessentially English. And even this jaded sport agnostic enjoys every Pimms and strawberries and cream filled moment.

But home is  equally spectacular. Yes, home is where I  now hang my hat, and have built a life. Home is also the place where I learned how to be me. Where I was loved and nurtured and encouraged and educated. Home is Mister Roger's Neighborhood, and Sesame Street and trips to the Nancy Carson Library. Home is Saturday morning cartoons, and Sunday School and Wednesday night suppers.

Home is gallons of sweet iced tea and warm buttery corn bread and homemade pimento cheese and crunchy  crusted chicken fried steak slathered with decadent white gravy. It is biscuits and fig preserves and Papa bread and black bean soup. Home is hand churned ice cream in peach and strawberry; ripe and cold and decadent.

Home is familiar accents and anecdotes and news about friends from long ago.  Home is y'all and yes ma'am and thank you and please. Home is where at fifty years old and more than my share of gray hair, I am reduced to deferential  young girl in the midst of my elders.

Home is hymn sings and classic rock. It is band camp  and choir retreats. Home is toilet papered trees and yards blanketed in for sale signs. It is add-a-bead necklaces, Izod shirts and all things preppy. Home is white Easter shoes  and stiff inky back to school jeans.

Home is melancholy memories and sentimental retrospection.  Home is where my Dad lived; and where he died. Home is love personified. Home is red sun baked clay and spur dotted sand. It is the heady scent of magnolia and gardenia and camellia.

I ache for the home of my childhood even as the waning sun paints its spectacular swan song over the South Downs. I yearn for my return to the Land of Hope and Glory when basking  in the warmth of a perfect summer day with the boom of thunder heralding a cooling rain shower in the country of my youth.

It is perfect here.

It is perfect there.

Is there really such thing as perfection? Even in paradise there are sand gnats and sun burn.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pouring Gasoline on the Fire

I have a pet peeve. I actually have so many pet peeves,  I am positive if there were an award for pet peevedom  I would win lifetime achievement honours.  My pet peeve du jour is making any given negative situation worse. I would add to that particular peeve and raise it for those who employ spurious techniques for bad situation augmentation. In other words, I abhor, loathe, detest and generally find distasteful those who would lie or embellish to make something look worse.

Bad enough is bad enough. There is no need to make the bad horrible. Or worse. What comes of this sort of behaviour are those sweeping generalities I adore so much. For example, when the German Wings airplane crashed into the Alps apparently at the deliberate hand of the co-pilot, that was plenty bad enough. Horrendous, disgusting, and  abhorrent don't even begin to convey the horrors of that action and its terrible consequences. It wasn't enough for some folks. All of a sudden, mental illness was on trial. Every pilot was questioned hypothetically and judged against some superhuman expectation of perfection. The co-pilot himself was analysed and dissected and dehumanised.

Dehumanised.  When we seek to add the "and his mother dresses him funny" prevalent on my circa 1970s playground, it takes away from the issue at hand so much that we distance ourselves from the humanness of the person we attack.  And in doing so we lose the chance to learn valuable lessons about ourselves.

My other related pet peeves result from a direct contradiction to what my parents taught me as a child.  I was told a quazillion times that two wrongs don't make a right, and if so and so jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge I certainly didn't have to emulate.  Yeah, adults don't take their own advice.

Walter Scott was shot in the back running from a policeman. Horrible. Heart wrenching. And apparently somewhat justified?  Because he had a problem with paying back child support? Even if he were an absolute jerk, did he deserve to be shot? If I follow that logic, I would be without friends or family on any given day. And at least fifteen days out of every thirty, I would need to be on self-imposed house arrest for my own safety. In making the shooting somehow his fault through our anonymous armchair analysis, we dehumanise Mr. Scott.

Dehumanise. By sending me picture after picture of policemen killed in the line of duty, the senders hope to accomplish what? Human beings are human beings. The taking of one life hardly excuses the wanton murder of another. There are known risks when one endeavours to enter the world of law enforcement. Still, any death of an honourable officer of the law while serving and protecting is awful.  It seems now there are known risks for being a black man. But we excuse and justify and sanitise the awfulness.

All bad people are not 100% bad 100% of the time. All good people are not 100% good 100% of the time. And beyond the hideously obvious heinous acts of horrid, who gets to decide what is good or bad? And then there is that pesky interpretation thing getting in the way of logic and reason and general good sense. The Bible is pretty clear on its big ten of thou shalts and nots. The other two of the big three religions have their own commandments and moral code spelling out what is or isn't acceptable. Yet, pundits and professors and priests and politicians have all twisted and manipulated these commandments to suit their purposes.

I have had some push-back from my post about the Walter Scott shooting. It seems that I am against all cops, that I think all cops are bad, and that I think all black men are innocent. Funny, I don't actually think any of those things. I do believe in stating what is wrong, whether popular or not.  I do believe not enough folks are willing to confront those who discriminate, abuse, demean or disavow entire population groups in the guise of being righteous. And I think it stinks that some close to me cannot bring themselves to applaud my success with the publication of my article simply because they disagree with the content. We have become so rabidly, viciously poisonous that opposing views are simply not allowed to enter our collective psyche. How sad.

I was always  encouraged to read and learn as much as I could about any given subject. I was taught that to see the world in black or white or good or bad was shallow and uninformed. The tapestry of human life has become more intricate with time. Exotic colours and patterns we were not exposed to before the advent of globalisation now intertwine with the familiar threads of our own cultures. We can chose to marvel at its beauty instead of sneering at its eccentricity. We can become a  more considerate, civil community of caring commonality. We can remember our humanness.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Do You Know Me?

Do you know me? You know what I am willing to share. You know of me. You know little snippets carefully edited leaving shreds and shards of truth; parade confetti turned litter. You can deduce and decide and interpret based on what I present. I am all of the things you believe, and none of them.

I am strong when my strength is needed to carry another towards victory. I am weak when my demons and fears devour that fortitude. I am joyful and joyous at this exquisite world filled with beauty and light and life. I am immersed in sadness so profound it clings to me like a viscous shroud. I am angered at injustice and unfairness. I am soothed by seemingly insignificant acts of kindness.

I am a child seeing and tasting and experiencing life without the cynicism of advanced age. I am an old crone bitter and jaded. I am an eager teenager yearning for acceptance and love. I am a wise battle-worn adult holding high my mistakes and trials as hard won trophies. I am an infant needing to be swaddled and cuddled. I am a petulant prepubescent craving solitude.

I am fastidiously sloppy. I am acutely dull. I am clearly misunderstood. I am mundanely unique. I am a happy pessimist. I am hopelessly optimistic.  I am tragically amusing. I am a conservative liberal. I am an armchair activist. I am a passionate pacifist.

I am witty and wry. I am corny and silly. I am serious and studious. I am laid back and high maintenance. I am introspective and shallow. I am curious and apathetic. I am flippant and sincere. I am sarcastic and literal. I am empathetic and unfeeling.

I hurt. I ache. I curse. I needle. I sneer. I erupt. I falter. I fail. 

I giggle. I sing. I jump. I dance. I snort. I hug. I soothe. I triumph.  

I heal. I love.

I am human. I am me.