Use Your Gifts. Don’t Be Boring.

Do it. Do it now.  Use your gifts. Don’t be boring.

Mamacita says:   Since my activities have been so severely limited since the wreck, which was a year ago and I’m getting pretty impatient bordering on debilitating fury, I’ve been doing things I’ve never done or thought about doing or wanted to do, two of which are becoming more and more appreciative of silence, and discovering what a genuinely boring person I am.

I am that kind of sad woman in movies and books who dedicates her life to her students and children and neglects her own and then one day she wakes up as from a trance and thinks “Well damn, that went by fast, and who is that hag in the mirror?”

How boring am I?  I don’t drink, or smoke, or do any kind of illegal recreational drugs, or drive over the posted limit, or litter, or get in the 20 items line with 21 items, or park in a handicapped spot without a hangtag. I put my cart in the corral, I don’t use any kind of outside guide or cheat sheets when I play Scrabble or Trivia, and I drive old people around town whenever they call me. I bring my mother three meals a day (plus snacks) and take her to all her appointments. I might sort of bully her into telling her doctors things she wouldn’t tell them otherwise because she hates bothering them. I’m not sure where my iron is, although I’m pretty sure I do own one, and the mop I bought just after Christmas still has the cellophane around it. (I had to buy a new one; the old one still had the same sponge it had when my kids were at home, which means something or other about my supposed housekeeping skills.) I buy more peanut butter and ketchup than most families with teens. I go through a big bottle of cheap yellow mustard every couple of months. The healthy food is for other people. (I don’t want any of it, please, don’t ask me again.)

I don’t think I could actually harm another person unless said person put a violent hand on a loved one thus releasing the Mama Grizzly, but I think spattering the guilty with permanent ink so everyone would have fair warning would not be amiss.

I love to cook and bake but I have no desire to own any kitchen machines other than the major appliances and a really old hand mixer i get out every November for Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. So you see: boring. I rest my case.

P.S. I’m working on the snark and the language, really I am, but I have also come to the conclusion that I enjoy them and am not trying all that hard to do better. One of my degrees is in English; I know lots of words and combinations thereof. Don’t cross me.

(If you know me personally, you will also already know that even my clothes and shoes are boring.) (I’m boring myself with this long drawn-out whiny post.) What happened to me? Where’s the long-haired chick with the bandannas who used to ride around on the backs of motorcycles, march in protests, wear ERA Today shirts to prayer meetings, and pay my sister to antagonize boyfriends when I got tired of them? Eh, she gone. Or is she, entirely? Even at the time, it was like a dream world, too good to last. I’ve always been kind of boring. A better question would probably be, why did it take a major wreck for me to realize the extent of my boring-ness. And maybe to decide it might be time to get a little of the old life back. . . . But wait. That would take energy. Well, pass the Diet Coke. You know, if I had a time machine, I would probably waste the opportunity. Like Dumbledore with the Time-Turners. I need to get back to work. I do not like all this leisure time. Please sign up for my classes, people.  This sort of thing just can’t be allowed to continue.  I’ve started watching TV, for crying out loud.

I know I’ll never get my life back.  The woman who disregarded her stop signs put an end to that part of me.  But something has to be done.  Oh, I have to do it myself; I know that.  Maybe with enough Diet Coke, I’ll be able to do it.

I’m still waiting for the miracle.

. . . anarchy is loosed upon the World. . . .

Oh please, I beseech Thee, not again. Oh never again. . . .

How many times, oh Lord, will I be called upon to repost this piece of writing? Once was too much. Now, the world is engulfed in the kind of horrific chaos no novelist could ever hope to duplicate.

Not again. Oh surely, not again.

And yet, again.

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Mamacita says:  The following article was written back in April of 2007, a few days after the shooting at Virginia Tech.  I never thought it would be relevant again.

A lot of things I think will never happen again, happen again.

Oh, and please don’t think I’m wasting any pity on the gunman.  Any gunman.  Life is full of choices, and a gunman who opens fire on innocent people has made the choice to side with evil.

However, please don’t think I believe the guns acted alone.  Just as a spoon didn’t make me fat all by itself, neither does a gun destroy unless a person chooses to use it for careless or evil purposes.

Let’s try not to put blame on anyone or anything but the one who made that conscious choice to destroy life instead of nurture it.  The only thing that is to blame for this tragedy is the person who did it.

I will also blame those who made access to the murder weapon so easy.

++++++++++++++++++

This was originally written after the Virginia Tech tragedy.  I never dreamed it would be timely again, over and over.  

I think that if we take the time and trouble to look around us, wherever we might be, we will see a number of people who are very much. . . alone. Some people claim that they prefer to be alone. Some people are alone not because they choose to be, but because their caustic personalities, or nasty whining, or vicious gossip, or incessant meddling, or some other personal choice they’ve made somewhere along the line, drives other people away. And some people’s minds have crossed the borderline between sane and insane.

Perhaps some of those overlooked people, those friendless people, those depressed, lonely, ignored, neglected people, can only be that way for a limited time. Maybe, after a certain amount of time has gone by, they either adapt, change, crack, or blow.  However, a person’s mental state is no excuse for murder.

I would like to think that the incident at Virginia Tech and all of the inexcusable incidents thereafter had nothing to do with gun control, no matter how hard some people are trying to make it so, but I am torn.  Firm believer in people deserving all and any of the consequences they earn and therefore deserve, I can’t help feeling that violent mindsets begat violent actions, and these actions are choices, and choices have consequences, and we all deserve the consequences we have chosen to earn.  However, I also believe that these mentally unstable people will find a weapon one way or another, and no amount of legislating or safeguarding or waiting periods will make any difference. This is not a gun control issue. This is a self control issue. And it is people who have no self control who ruin everything for all of us.

People with no self-control take up more than their fair share of an airline seat. People with no self-control eat all the Hostess cupcakes. People with no self-control talk in the movie theater, and they grab for things they want, and they scream and cry when they don’t get their own way. People with no self-control see no reason why they should obey the rules or, when they’re older, the laws. People with no self-control use their cell phones as they drive.  People will no self-control have temper tantrums when they’re grown up.  People with no self-control want what they want when they want it. People with no self-control tend to blame everything and everyone but themselves when things go wrong.  People with no self-control never quite grew up somewhere in the brain.  People with no self control find weapons and use them when things don’t go their way.  People with no self control are selfish.  Selfish to the extreme.  People with no self control are often violent.

And when they’re got it really bad, people with no self-control get hold of guns – or knives or tire irons or rocks or fists or arrows or pipes – and they plot and plan to kill people who seem to have all the things the insane person always wanted and couldn’t seem to get. Sometimes, these people with no self control erupt and whoever is unfortunate enough to be in their path becomes their victim.

People with self-control might think about doing such things, but they never would. All of us think such things at times, but the difference between us and people like this kid is simple self-control. Sane people – people with self control – don’t act on every impulse they feel.

Whether his anger drove out his self-control, or whether his immature lack of self-control caused a lot of the anger, or whatever theory or combination of such, he decided to do it and planned for it well in advance. This wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment deed. He may have had no self-control (a negative trait in any adult) but he was able to delay the self-gratification of it for a little while. He also had, as do many people lacking in self-control (look at me, see me, see me, look at me!) a bit of the ham actor in him, and made sure the world would know his name AND his face.  This description might apply to any of the mass murderers who tresspass into our schools and of their own free will, often planned well in advance, and brilliantly so, turn what is supposed to be the safest place in the neighborhood into blood bath.  There is no excuse.  There might be reasons, none of them viable, but there are no excuses.

People are also saying that if only other students had reached out to this student, maybe he would have found friendship and good company instead of a loaded gun. But students DID try to reach out to him, and he would have none of it. If you’re one of the people who is trying to put some of the blame on this guy’s roommates and classmates, shut up. It’s not their fault. It’s nobody’s fault except this guy himself. It’s not his innocent parents or sister, or anybody else’s fault. He did it himself. It’s HIS fault.

It is always the shooter’s fault.  Nobody made him do it.  He decided to do it and he did it.  Let the consequences fall.  Justice is what is required here.  Absolute justice, not perfect justice.  Look up the difference.

And what kind of hell must his family be going through at this time. . . . a hell just as bad as the hell the families of all the slain students are going through, but quite different.  Facing the fact that a child, flesh of their flesh, blood of their blood, their beloved child, is a monster, has to be the worst feeling in the world.

“He was such a sweet child.”  Well, he’s no longer a child, and the sweetness is gone.

Anything anyone says now is, of course, from the point of view of hindsight, and as we all know, hindsight is 20/20.

In reality, this student went out and bought a gun, and of his own free will, made the choice to take that gun and destroy some 33 of his fellow students, and some teachers. He then turned the gun on himself, thus ensuring forever that no one will ever know the real reasons behind his bid for notoriety. Yes, he mailed a lot of pre-made horrors before he did it, and made sure that his after-the-fact information would freak out the world. If there was anyone on the planet who sympathized with him, that evidence of callous diva-ness should have taken care of that.  Those schoolhouse murderers who left themselves alive will, I hope, face a judge who has children and who will not even think about letting a child-killing beast loose.

Am I callous? I can be, yes. When it comes to the lives of my students, or my children, or my friends, or anyone I love, I can be very callous indeed. If someone threatened any of you, you can bet I would do whatever I could to take that person down. Yes, I could kill him myself, if it would save others. I could take out someone who broke into my house or my car OR MY SCHOOL, if they threatened my kids, or any of you. You will not see me shrink back or say something such as “Oh, I could NEVER harm another human being no matter WHAT!!!” Cry me a river. You wouldn’t lift a finger to defend your kids? Each other? Shame on you.  If an intruder enters my house and becomes agitated or violent, you can bet that I will subdue that bastard with the handy piece of pipe I keep by my bedside for just such purposes.  If the intruder becomes violent, I will shoot him.  Cry me a river.

Ordinarily, I am meek as a lamb and the biggest sissy this side of Planet Saturn. But if someone threatened my kids or any of you, or raised a violent hand to any of you in any way, and I am there and able to reach that person, he or she would remember me for a long, long time.

They would probably gun me down as I charged, but you can bet that I would charge.  At least, I hope I would charge.

All of those beautiful children, blown away by one student’s vicious insanity. Graduation was in two weeks, for some of them.  Bright and hopeful futures were supposed to be in their future.  It makes me think about the Holocaust, where the children were usually incinerated first, right off the train, because, you know, children can’t work and who cared and it was what someone wanted to do. . . even liked to do.  Some of them went home after a busy day murdering other people’s children to their own children, and pretended they were loving, decent fathers.

Every continent on the planet has now been represented in the violence that the lack of self-control will bring.

And the image in my mind’s eye of that lovely man who tried to block the door with his own body to save his students will be with me forever. He survived one Holocaust, but not the second. .And yesterday, yes, again yesterday, the coach and the other teachers who tried to shield their students with their own bodies and lost their lives in the doing.  They are heroes.  Heroes. . .

After 9/11, people everywhere softened a bit towards one another, and tried to reach out, and help, and understand. Then some time passed, and people started to forget. And now, perhaps people will remember again, and this time, maybe they won’t forget, at least, not so soon.  Except, of course, they do, and they have.  All the mass school murders since Virginia Tech. . . the monsters still among us, armed with machines the likes of which our Founding Fathers never dreamed of.  Machines that old fat white guys will throw your baby under a tank to keep legal.

The only thing that separates Virginia Tech, or Columbine, or Sandy Hooke, or that Colorado theater, or yesterday’s Florida school, from any other place is the arm of coincidence. It could just as easily have been our college, or your friend’s college. Or a grocery store. Or a kindergarten classroom. Or a hospital. Or a movie theater.  Or your home. Or WalMart. Or the preschool where your twins are napping.  Monsters don’t really care where they slaughter.

Let us ever strive to be kind. Everyone we meet is struggling. And all of those spams and forwards about how we never know when a simple smile will be the difference between life and death for a stranger? They’re true.

Let’s notice one another. Let’s smile. Don’t behave like a Bob Evans greeter (holy scheisse, those people are annoying!) but just be nice to people. Include people. Ask people to join you. Reach out.  Make eye contact.  Make it plain to someone that you are glad to meet them, and would be happy to join them.

Say a little prayer. Call someone you’ve been avoiding and ask them to meet you for lunch. Phone your mother. Send a card to your sister.

My college held a vigil Thursday afternoon after the Virginia Tech massacre.  The commons was packed, and several students spoke. All of them had the same theme: Love one another.
They plagiarized that, but I’m not going to do anything about it this time.  And threading through my head during this lovely gathering was the thought that such a lovely gather would be the perfect location for a mass shooting that would give yet another psycho some media attention.

Sometimes, when a tragedy this large happens, and we are lucky enough that it is far away and involves people we do not know personally, we tend to not identify with any part of it. This time, it happened on a college campus, where all of you go every day. The location and the victims, this time, were far more personal for all of us. Something else, too. . . .

Sometimes, in the course of the class time, someone’s cell phone rings, and it can be annoying if it happens too much. I have never gotten upset over that, because you are all adult students and you have families who often need to contact you.

Now, if your cell phone rings in class, don’t be surprised if I have to wipe away a tear.
As emergency workers performed the grim task of removing the bullet ridden bodies of the slain from Norris Hall, their sad work was accompanied by the incessant chirps, beeps, voices, songs, birdcalls, and little bits of music from cell phones.

The phones were in the victims’ pockets, purses, backpacks. . . and hands.

Their parents, spouses, children, and friends were calling them to see if they were okay.

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned…
WB Yeats
The Second Coming

===

I don’t ever want to run this essay again.  Let us all ever strive to treat each other with as much kindness as we can.  None among us has a perfect life, and some of us are really struggling.  Kindness costs nothing; therefore, we can all afford to use as much of it as we want.  We can only hope that most people will want to be kind all the time.

And now my students know the real reason I allow them to keep their cell phones on during class.

My sincere condolences to all the Aurora, Colorado, victims and their families and friends. Blessings upon the families of the beautiful students in Florida.

Condolences to the family of the monster.  Nobody expects their beloved child to be a monster.  Realizing that he is, has to be horrible.

I hope none of you is ever on either side of this dreadful fence.

Love each other, my darlings.  Love each other, and behave, and try to make the people in your inner circles behave, too.  And if you notice someone who has no circle, invite him/her into yours.  It might be the difference between life and death.

Valentine’s Day: The Story of Cupid & Psyche

Mamacita says:  I’ve been blogging for almost fifteen years, and every Valentine’s Day, I like to re-tell the story of Cupid and Psyche to the Blogosphere.

Why?  Because it’s one of my favorite myths.  I love this story.  I’d post more pictures about it, but everybody’s nekkid.

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and since many people associate this day with Cupid, let’s talk for a moment about the REAL Cupid. Well, the real mythological Cupid.

Cupid is not a fat naked baby, flying around shooting arrows into people to make them fall in love with the first living thing they see, causing people to have inappropriate relationships with cows and bulls and goats. It was used as an excuse by some people, but we won’t go there.

It’s kind of along the same lines as the alcoholics who tried to rationalize their choices by swearing they were just worshipping Bacchus/Dionysus, and the knocked-up teenagers who swore they were abducted by Zeus. . . .

Ahem.

In some myths, Cupid/Eros IS a perpetual child, but in most of the myths, he is as all the other gods (except Hephaestus) were: indescribably beautiful. Unfortunately, his mother was the goddess Aphrodite/Venus, and even though she was the goddess of love and beauty, she was a BITCH.

Here is the story of what happened when Cupid dared to fall in love and try to have a life of his own. Heh, and some of you think YOU have mother-in-law problems. . . .

==

Once upon a time – was there EVER a better way to begin a story? – there was a King who had three daughters, all beautiful, and the youngest daughter was the most beautiful of all. In fact, and this was dangerous talk in any myth, people said that this young princess was more beautiful even than the goddess of beauty herself. Now, whenever, in a myth, people compare a mortal to a god or goddess, you will know in advance that the poor mortal, even though he/she probably did nothing wrong, is going down. DOWN. Circling the drain down.

This young princess, whose name was Psyche, begged the populace not to say such things, but people were heedless and full of gossip even back in these days, and the talk went on and on. Eventually, of course, Aphrodite heard of it, and she was FURIOUS.

She called her son Cupid to her, and instructed him to fly down to earth and shoot an arrow into Psyche, making sure the first living thing she saw would be a monster that would devour her even as she could not help falling in love with it.

What Aphrodite had not foreseen was this: Cupid took one look at Psyche, was dazzled by her beauty, tripped and fell on one of his own arrows and fell in love with her himself. It was the real thing, too; it would have happened with or without magic love arrows or anything else. He saw her, and he loved her.

He knew, though, that he would have to keep it a secret from everyone, especially his jealous, possessive mother. Therefore, he would have to somehow get Psyche away from her family and sneak her to his palace.

He sent Psyche’s father, the King, a dream that directed him to go to an Oracle – a fortuneteller – who told him that he must take his beloved daughter to the top of the mountain and let a Demon take her to wife.

The King did not dare to disobey, so he and Psyche’s sisters walked with Psyche up the mountain and left her on a jutting rock to await her demonic husband. She did not understand what was happening, and could not think why she should be treated so, but back in the days of the myths, people did what the gods told them to do and chalked it all off to the Fates.

That night, the West Wind swooped down and flew with her to her new husband’s home. She tried to ask Zephyrus what was to become of her, but he would not, or could not, answer. He, too, was following orders.

To Psyche’s surprise, Zephyrus took her to a beautiful palace, even more beautiful than her father’s palace back home. Invisible servants waited on her hand and foot. Delicious food was served to her, three times a day. Lovely clothing appeared in her closet.

Cupid & PsycheShe dreaded the night, because she knew that her new husband would come to her in the marriage bed, but when he came into the room, she knew no fear. She could not see him in the dark, but he told her he loved her and would always love her. He also told her that she must NEVER see him in the light.

He came to her every night after dark, but was gone before the morning light fell upon his face. Psyche knew that she loved him, but she did not even know his name.

Then, she got homesick.

After much crying and begging from his wife, Cupid told her that her two sisters would be allowed to visit her. Psyche was happy to hear this, for living alone in a huge castle with only invisible servants by day and a nameless, faceless husband by night was hard on a girl. Besides, she was pregnant.

Cupid was happy to hear this news, but he warned his wife that as long as she never looked upon her husband’s face, the baby would be immortal, but if she could not resist temptation and saw him in the light, the baby would be mortal and eventually die.

By this time, Psyche loved her husband so much she would have done anything for him. She agreed.

When her sisters arrived, they were impressed with the richness and luxury their sister enjoyed, but their jealousy of her good fortune overcame their love for her. They were amazed that Psyche was pregnant with the child of a husband she had never seen and didn’t even know by name. They told Psyche that he must be a hideous monster, and that she had a right to see her husband’s face. They told her that if he was indeed a monster, she would have to kill him. They told her these things over and over until they convinced her that it would be the only right thing to do. After all, why should a wife not know her husband’s face and name? It was so logical!

That night, after her husband had come to her and then fallen asleep, Psyche fetched an oil lamp and a knife. The lamp would show her his face, and if he was indeed a monster, she would kill him with the knife.

But she trembled, and a drop of hot oil fell on him. He awoke, and turned to look at Psyche awakens Cupidher. She saw, in the light, not a hideous creature from the depths of hell itself, but a beautiful young man with golden wings, looking at her with love and pain and despair. He got out of bed and flew away, and Psyche knew she would never see him again.

Psyche blamed herself for losing her husband. Because of her curiosity and disobedience, she was alone, and pregnant. She prayed desperately to the gods, but they did not answer, and Cupid did not return to her.

She decided to go to Aphrodite, Cupid’s mother, and offer her services as a servant, hoping that Cupid might admire her devotion and return to her.

What naive Psyche didn’t know was that her mother-in-law didn’t merely dislike her; she HATED her, and was eager to do great harm to her to keep her son away from his wife. She was still angry because the townspeople in Psyche’s homeland had remarked that Psyche was more beautiful than Aphrodite, and the fact that this girl was now pregnant with her son’s child made Aphrodite even more furious. Aphrodite was determined to punish Psyche for taking some of her son’s affection from his mother.

Aphrodite set Psyche to work on a series of ridiculous, impossible tasks. She had to sort a roomful of different grains by nightfall; had it not been for the ants, who helped her sort the grains into various piles, she could never have finished. Next, Aphrodite told Psyche she had to shear the wool from a flock of deadly, possessed sheep that were hypnotized, so that they tried to kill all who came near. Fortunately, the reeds along the riverbank advised Psyche that she could get enough wool from the thorny bushes the sheep had passed through, instead of trying to deal with these evil sheep.

Each time Psyche succeeded, Aphrodite became angrier and more determined to break her. The tasks became more and more difficult. She sent Psyche to fetch water from the river Styx, the river of death, but fortunately, Zeus took pity on Psyche and sent one of his mighty eagles to fetch the water for her.

Psyche crosses the StyxFinally, Aphrodite told Psyche to enter the Underworld and fetch her box of cosmetics from Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. No mortal had ever entered the World of the Dead and returned. The night before this task, she lay in her bed and wept.

Suddenly, she heard a voice, telling her how to succeed in this task, and also warning her not to open the box once she got it in her hands. This piqued Psyche’s curiosity.

In a myth, whenever someone is extremely curious about something, there’s going to be trouble.

Psyche entered the Underworld. She crossed the Styx, paying Charon his toll. (This is why, in many cultures even today, the dead are buried with a coin on each eyelid.) cerberus free access fileShe gave food to Cerberus, (now you know where the idea of Hagrid’s “Fluffy” came from!)  to distract him so she could run through the gate of Hades without being devoured. (Meat is placed in the hands of the dead, and when rigor mortis set in, the meat was secure in the fist.) Psyche did as the voice had instructed her throughout her entire visit, and finally, box in hand, she returned to the world of the living.

Once she got back to her palace and was alone with this mysterious box, Psyche’s curiosity got the better of her. What harm could one little peek do? She wasn’t going to TOUCH anything in there, after all. But when she opened the box, she fell into a deep slumber.

By this time, Cupid’s anger had passed, and he longed for his wife and baby. His mother tried her best to dissuade him, but for the first time in his life he defied her openly and, in spite of her magical attempts to hold him, flew out of his childhood home and went back to the castle he had built for his own family.

He found his wife, sound asleep on the floor of her room, and so deep was her sleep that Cupid thought she was dead, and wept as he held her in his arms. He bent to her for one last kiss, and she awakened!

Cupid and Psyche were together at last, in the light, and both liked what they saw.

However, there was still the danger of Aphrodite, who still hated Psyche and who wanted her son Cupid’s full devotion. Cupid finally appealed to Zeus, King of the Gods, and asked him to make his wife immortal, that Aphrodite could no longer harm her, and Zeus agreed.

Cupid and Psyche lived happily ever after, and their daughter Volupta. . . well, that’s a whole other story, isn’t it.

==

I hope you saw the roots of a lot of fairy tales and other stories. The ancient myths are a treasure trove of literary points of origin. I also hope you noticed a lot of root words; the English language is a patchwork quilt of languages: we steal from everybody.

Mythology is one of my thangs. Can you tell?

Happy Valentine’s Day, all.

Somebody else can tell the story of St. Valentine. I like Cupid and Psyche.

This myth is also ONE of the origins of the expression “Opposites attract.”

Because Love is all emotional, see, and the Mind is logical, and. . . . oh, you know. And how ironic is it that the Ancients saw the male as the emotional one and the female as the logical one?

Mythology is so cool.

Love Stays

Mamacita says:  Love stays, you know.  If it’s real, it stays. It takes work, more work than hormones, if truth be told.  Without the work, the love isn’t real and it doesn’t stay, but with work, love stays. In a few days, it will be Valentine’s Day, and even though it’s really a man-made holiday that exploits the guilt feelings of both men and women and forces them to go forth (or fifth) and spend a lot of money on flowers that will die and candy that will be eaten, it’s also just one more excuse for people to tell each other how very much they love and appreciate each other.  These are things we should all be telling each other all year, of course, but we’re a reticent society, for all that we let it all hang out sometimes, and we sort of need a specific day to give us permission to bare our hearts.

During my annual re-reading of Bess Streeter Aldrich’s  A Lantern in Her Hand and its sequel A White Bird Flying (two of my very favorites and I highly recommend them to all of you) I was again struck and reduced to tears by the simple message etched on the stones in the garden path at the home of J. Sterling Morton (who gave Arbor Day to the nation) and his bride:  Hours fly, Flowers die. New days, New ways, Pass by. Love stays.

Love stays.

And in the book, Laura Deal is more touched and moved by the sight of one simple little china dish, a little china hen spreading her china wings, that Mrs. Morton brought to Nebraska with her so she would always have something of her old home in her new home, than by the grandeur of the governor’s eventual home. I am that way, too, for it is the small things that make a home, not any grand exterior or grounds. I love these two books beyond any ability to tell you how much.

Mrs. J. Sterling Morton's china hen

Mrs. J. Sterling Morton’s china hen

Mrs. Morton’s little china dish makes me remember Ma Ingalls and her little china shepherdess.  Most pioneer women had at least one cherished, impractical, often fragile item they brought with
them from their old home in the East, to remind them of that home, and to help them remember that there is more to life than dirt, sweat, and hard work.  Sometimes, we need a reminder, however small, that life also promises great beauty, music, hope, and a better life for our children than we can hope for, for ourselves.

Ma Ingalls' china shepherdess

Ma Ingalls’ china shepherdess

In A Lantern in Her Hand, each wife in each home in the middle of Nebraska nowhere had brought a little bit of a better way of life with her, whether it was Abbie’s pearls, Christine’s blue vase, Martha’s pink quilted bedspread, Sarah’s painting. . . most pioneer women had something to help them remember that there were better times to look forward to, no matter how poor and desperate they might be today.

Molly Ivins was one of my idols, and this motto of hers  is the motto I have adopted for my very own.

“… keep fightin’ for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don’t you forget to have fun doin’ it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin’ ass and celebratin’ the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.”

I have never been much of a fighter, but maybe it’s time to start swinging.

No, not THAT kind of swinging. Scheisse, I love the blogosophere.

I hope everyone’s weekend is full of love and Hershey’s Kisses. They’re called ‘kisses’ because of the sound the machine makes when it lays one down on the belt. How would you like to work there? “Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss. . . .” all day long. By the time those people get home, their hormones must be raw and ready to be salved. If you know what I mean.

“. . . all the oddities that freedom can produce. . . .” Why would we ever want anything else?

I miss you, Molly. But, love stays.

P.S.  Here’s a link to the free ebook version of A Lantern in Her Hand.

My So-Called Super Powers

My so-called super powers

Mamacita says:  I have super powers, but they’re not the super powers I would have chosen.  They’re not the super powers I wanted. If I had been allowed to choose my talents, I would have picked singing, dancing, and astronaut skills.   I don’t even have a green thumb – heck, I can kill a cactus in a couple of weeks just by walking past it.  However, like a talent for sight-reading music containing a lot of sharps, and the ability to perform mathematical calculations involving numbers over a hundred without a calculator, my super powers are real.  They’re just weird.

    1.  I can make the phone and/or doorbell ring by merely thinking about going to the bathroom.
    2. I can turn on the cable and the TV with perfect coordination three times, but the fourth time will involve an expensive house call from the cable guy and, for some reason I for the life of me can’t figure out, the landline phone.
    3. I know nothing about sports and care even less, but every year I put a few dollars on whatever team nobody else wanted, or the team wearing the colors that take my fancy, or the team that hasn’t appeared in the news for rape or drugs or booze, or the team on which nobody has smoked for years or, better still, ever, and every year I win something.  It’s to the point that I have to chase down and play hide and seek with the guy collecting money; people don’t even want me to have a look at the weird forky team matchup thing.  Last year I won sixty dollars, and I just PayPal-ed the guy ten dollars and asked him to put it on any team that was left over.  It’s a gift, but I have no idea what I’m doing.  We generally go out to eat on the winnings.
    4. All I have to do is step into the shower and before I’m even wet, someone will need me to drive them somewhere really important and they have to leave immediately.
    5. I am the only person in this house who understands the mechanism and righteousness of the toilet paper holder.
    6. I know where the light bulbs, batteries, scissors, and tape are “hidden.”
    7. I understand the philosophy and workings of clumping kitty litter.
    8. I can find the Christmas tree topper in under thirty seconds.
    9. I keep a goodly supply of spices and herbs, and I know how to use them.  I even grow them, thanks to my son’s Christmas present.

      Thank you for this awesome Christmas gift, son!

       

    10. The trash truck comes around every Wednesday morning, so on Tuesday night, I gather up all the trash in the house, bag it, put it in the bin, and wheel the bin out to the curb.  This is not rocket science, but apparently I am the only rocket scientist who lives here.
    11. I have mastered the art of “spring forward” and “fall back.”  My only slightly OCD need for a clock on every wall makes this something that takes a little time (TIME. Get it?  I am so witty.) but twice a year, I get it done.  Other people who live here are just confused about whether or not they’re going to be late because the clock in their vehicle is only correct half the year.  I am too Monk to have a clock that isn’t exactly right, but I am also more than a little bit adamant that other people’s things are their concern, not mine.  This is why I always knocked before entering my children’s bedrooms.  Little kids have rights, too.
    12. Due to the necessity of earning a living and feeding/clothing my children, I have become the master of getting up and going to work even with migraines so blinding I have to crawl around the house on my hands and knees, feeling for the walls because, literally, the migraine has blinded me.  I can pack lunches, feed and dress small children, get them and myself to school, teach all day, work a ball game or dance after school, get everybody home again, bathed, and to bed before crashing and weeping on the floor of the shower stall.  My students always knew when I had a migraine because a vein on the side of my face throbbed.  Apparently it was pretty funny to watch.  When I think about this, my first thought is always “Thank goodness there were no camera phones back then.”  Some autotune and a soundtrack would have been hilarious only if it wasn’t me.

These super powers are not glamorous or spotlight-worthy, but they got, and get, me and other people through many a difficult day, which, when you think about it, is what super powers are supposed to do.

Hypocrisy 101

Mamacita says:  Today I wish to discuss hypocrisy.  The hypocrisy of some people’s ancestral pride.

Oh, the hypocrisy of some people’s ancestral pride!

So many people are interested in and curious about their DNA origins, paying out good money to be analyzed and labeled. . .it’s a fad right now. I just saw four commercials about it this afternoon. People are excited to discover their roots. . . and so many people interested in keeping out the people with that same DNA lest they contaminate the nation. This seems more than just a little bit hypocritical, yes?

We are all descended from immigrants. Where would we be if those immigrants had been denied entrance? You. Where would you be? You would be speaking another language, probably one you profess to mock today. You would be wearing different clothes, clothing that might set you apart from the crowd you hang out with today. You might be eating different foods, ETHNIC foods, that you either claim to dislike or that you pay a lot of money to experience. “Hey, let’s go for some Thai/Mexican/Chinese, etc, but let’s not admit that the cooks or servers are on our level.” “Listen to that guy with his broken English trying to check out at Walmart!” says the guy who can’t even manage to speak ONE language properly yet he mocks a guy who speaks two.  High school dropouts mock hardworking guys who stayed in school and are reaping the rewards of it.

Rich people advocate deportation because they fear, oh, I don’t know.  Being outclassed?  Being outsmarted?  Somebody else earning some money?  A nickel coming in and them not there to squeeze it?

Poor people advocate deportation because they fear, oh, I don’t know.  Someone else getting a job?  Someone else getting, well, anything?

It all smacks of people kicking away the ladder after they and theirs climbed up it, and they don’t want to share whatever they found at the top.

The atmosphere in our nation disturbs me greatly.  This atmosphere of intolerance and bigotry and selfishness and being afraid of what we don’t understand.  Hey, a little education might help with that last one.

No one race is better than any other race.  We are all human beings, equal in the sight of whatever God, or no God at all, any person believes, or doesn’t believe, in.  We all share this one planet.  There is room for everyone.  Everyone.  Not just you.

And how would you like it if you were treated as you treat others?

Remember, I taught about the Holocaust for over twenty years. The similarities are frightening. Horrifying.

Then again, if some people’s ancestors had been denied entrance all those years ago, perhaps some of those people would have embraced education anyway, finished school, gone to university, become doctors, surgeons, scientists, educated people and clear strong thinkers. Some would do that, and some would not.  Every day people defy the odds. It’s just easier to do so here.  Some of your ancestors did that, and some did not.  Did you?  Are you an educated person and a strong thinker or do you just follow the crowd?

Are you a person who does what is easy, or what is right?

My doctor is an immigrant. Perhaps yours is, too. Your child’s life may lie in the hands of someone for whom English is not the first language. You. You are not a surgeon. Stand back and let the trained professional work or your child, left in your untrained hands, will die.

Now, march, march, march, and demand that this surgeon be deported because he is not as good as you and does not deserve to live in a nation where his skills just saved your child.

Your ancestors arrived here and were admitted. That you would dare to presume that you or anyone else has the ability, the unmitigated gall,  to say who will go and who will stay is mind-boggling. How dare you draft yourself to be the judge.

How dare you.

I’ve had many foreign students in my classes, and most of the time their English was much better than most of my other students. Their essays were about gratitude, and education, and pride. Not one of them wrote about gettin’ it on with a little filly a’standin’ yonder at the end of the bar, or LOLing at the bowling alley that one time.   You know, like you did.

Choose goodness.  Choose mercy.  Choose honesty.  Choose nobility.  Choose generosity.  Defy all who would encourage you to choose otherwise.  Defy.  All.

I speak too much. I am not on your side. I am on their side. Bring it on.