Sunday, October 25, 2015

The one time I got slapped by my mom

The only time my mother ever slapped me, I was 16, we were on the front lawn, and she was holding a Bible. Which was a little weird. She was a preacher's daughter with a sense of humor, but looking back,  I think she thought I was about to become One of Those Wild Girls who smoked, maybe finished high school,  fooled around, got pregnant, and lived a much more restricted life than she wanted for me.
After all, she was a banker's wife, the only one any of us knew who insisted on getting her Master's and continuing to teach school. She loved teaching. All the other bankers' wives we knew played bridge and lunched at nice places. And I am proud of her for that.
There must have been an argument preceding the slap. Probably over my curfew. I wasn't allowed to date until I WAS 16, excellent decision unto today, but my curfew was 10 p.m. No dates during the week. 10 p.m. on Friday, even with a football game, 10 p.m. on Saturday. I had to sing in the choir at 8 a.m.
Dad would loosen it a little, but they were a team. And there were times he was the strict one and she sympathized. They agreed to go together on whoever was more strict. (sigh).
When I was 15, neither of them know I was at a street dance in a new subdivision, streets in, no houses, and several cars of us kids drove up, put the radios up high on the same station, and we danced.  And some of us were Good Girls, and some of us were more daring. So a group of kids dared Ted, a gangly boy with clear skin, glasses, a reputation for scholarship and a smart aleck attitude, to French kiss me. I had no idea what that was, and I had a tiny crush, and all of a sudden, in front of everyone, ewwweew! his tongue was in my mouth and I did what any surprised, sensible girl would do.
"She bit me!" he said with a hand over his mouth that came away covered with blood. Ummm. We never dated later, you understand?
I was paralyzed with fear as the laughter started. Then I relaxed. They were laughing at HIM!

When I was 16, I began dating a boy I liked, and he taught me that this particular kiss could be enjoyable. Given my curfew allowed only 5-10 minutes at the most to experience it, the kiss wasn't particularly dangerous, but my mother thought it was.
So dangerous that for the first time in my life, she pulled out a Bible and told me to swear on it that I would never, ever till I married, French kiss a boy.
She included the information that such kissing had never occurred until the GIs came back from WWII. They learned from Wicked Women overseas, she said. I realized (heavily expurgated understanding) that my parents, who adored each other, might have tried this and she may have found it ....moving.(Cringe. journalistic mind stored deep for much later retrieval.)

So anyway, I not only laughed and refused, I laughed defiantly and disrespectfully. I did. I remember doing it on purpose.
And she slapped me. We looked at each other, and then we both cried. And apologized. And hugged.
It never came up again.
She saw me graduate from college, get the job I loved, marry the man I loved.
It all worked out.

I've wondered whether we always kissed with our tongues in America, or if, indeed, the wars abroad brought new elements into American courting. SHE thought so. She was there at the time. And I find a lot of stuff in history aren't quite the same as personal chronicles.

Kind of a verbal diary referrant.
This would be late 1950s.
God, I'm old.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

We're Native Texans and Proud of It

I am tickled pink that my 8th grade granddaughter is adept in writing and writing logical arguments. She likes it, which is a relief. She can outrun probably most of the kids her age, but while she enjoys it, she hates competition. Asserting her own thought, however, may be different.

Words, reading, thinking, some proclaiming, logical wrestling. These are valued skill sets in my family. I am the big disappointment in computer skills, but most of the family agrees I do try pretty hard, and I don't interrupt my sons TOO often to fix stuff I can tell from subtle eye rolls--they are too respectful for lip curls--when they give in and come over to fix. {I have benefited from their attitudes by trying until I can't think of anything else before I call, and this has driven me to many solutions. They have benefitted (see preceding).}

Fitness, stamina, we admire those too. Cooking from scratch, growing our own, fresh herbs, a world menu. We value those, too.

Every last one of us is a Native Texan. Not a one of us follows sports. Particularly football, basketball or baseball. We can enjoy a game. We don't make plans to watch one. Give any one of us a Cowboys ticket and if we can pander it in a trade for something we want more, we probably will. And we will try hard.

All of us, even the teenagers, read. We love water parks. After all, Texas has Schlitterbahn. We will walk a long way to see a waterfall, the view from a mountaintop, and enjoy the trails in Big Bend.

A couple of us hunt dove, quail and deer on occasion, which is delicious. Others of us know how to cook these really well. I grew up on horses and not only rode, but fed, curried and saddled my own.

Because I like to two-step, I occasionally like country. Head shakes from the rest. Family agrees on some classical, some classic jazz and esoteric music. My daughter-in-law, with a grandmother from Louisiana, not only makes a mean roux and consequent gumbo, she smiles at zydeco. The music has led to marching band and French horn for eldest granddaughter. We suspect she will continue to play.

Everyone but me loves movies, plots, and is knowledgeable on who, what, when before and what comes next. Several of us like live stage.

Art, history, natural science? I don't think most of us have ever met a museum we didn't like. Don't know about the granddaughters, but they have been dragged to them all.

Most of us have at least one college degree.

None of us is making big bucks, but none of us are in big debt, either.

I guess I didn't mention it. We take it for granted but we shouldn't. We all like and love each other, and when we get together, we laugh a lot. Hugs are exchanged. We number well less than 20 on this side of the family. Maybe that's why we can always get along. We do. Different segments of us get together on holidays. Seeing everyone can take planning for two, even three get-togethers. I didn't mention several of us work holidays. We have  been in different professions when this has happened and roll with the ongoing accommodations.  One more thing. We almost always say I love you on phone or in person when we close or leave.  What we have is treasured. By every one of us. Arguments, so to speak, are in the bylaws.

I imagine one of my granddaughters knows by now that her Christmas Eve when she was four was Christmas Night for the rest of the world. And our Christmas Day that year was unique in the neighborhood.

This is my family culture. What's yours like?

Friday, October 16, 2015

For the Future--too often, Waiting for the Rain

If I hate my own species, I have gone rogue, never a good thing.
And I haven't.
Too many people are on the earth, and this is impacting the world as I know it rapidly.
Animals, plant life are dying. We sort of see that.
We are killing the oceans, too. We dump our trash, our cremains, have oil spills, get all  excited about one or two shark attacks and start eradicating, and, huh?
I doubt my great-grandchildren will ever eat much seafood that was ever wild.  Weird, but that means it won't be as healthy, either.
With climate change, wildfires are taking out more homes, businesses, even communities. No way around it.
Time was, Syrian refugees could have been resettled in vacant land somewhere, some continent. Doesn't exist today, so we all have to move over. I don't blame them for leaving. Common sense applies. But we are still surprised and caught offguard when the street people move into our mansions, so to speak. We understand they are desperate, but they make us uncomfortable.

In my lifetime half the wildlife that existed when I was born will become extinct, except in zoos and refuges. Well, through the century they will continue to die.
For Southwesterners, it is so personal. No one my age didn't play with horned toads. Scratch 'em between the eyes, watch their bliss. Texas has a football team, the Horned Frogs.
No one thought they would die. Even my oldest son played with some. But they were gone when my younger son grew up.
I look at the world, at the universe, which my specie has given me an eye to, and it is exciting. I don't know what will happen in the future, even if we don't blow ourselves up.
But as so-called "stewards of the earth", mankind is pretty poor. We have littered for millennium.
The world will survive. Maybe people will, too.
I know in the past, each generation has thought they were making a better world for the next generation. I am so proud of my sons and granddaughters, and I think the world ahead for them, screw the economy, is going to be so much harder.
What I do know is that problems sometimes are easier to see than solutions we never dreamed of.
It got us here. I hope it gets us out.
This is a scary world to live in. It is not unhopeful.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Is Anyone There?

FYI--I do not know if  anyone reads what I have written. The counting mechanism has been deactivated.
I will continue to write.
If you enjoy or take issue enough to comment, please do.

For years I was a journalist, writing for thousands.
Actually, this is pretty hard. Harder would be to stop writing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Are Introverts Sane?

I  think well. but not for computers.
And I wonder what will happen to thinkers like me.
We don't cogitate the same. We don't.
For those of us who grew up on computers, and programming, maybe it is better.
Maybe using computers at a young age aligns our minds to sequential and linear processing.
I have no idea if this is good or bad.
I know my thinking style is global. I will get to the same answer, but it won't be orderly. I really think, if I exist, then thinkers like me are valuable. I am a differential.

I gain weight easily. My metabolism is normal. Probably low normal.
What I know is, that while it would be lovely in an affluent society to be thin and easier if I burned off calories so easily I could eat cheesecake all day and be thin,  I am not like that. I can enjoy a small amount of food and function well. I suspect the difference is one reason homo sapiens has survived.
My descendants will get us through famine. We survive with less.
Someone who needs 5,000 calories a day to stay slender? Toast. But in war, in conflict, invaluable.
The variety of metabolisms, of strengths and weaknesses, mean a big cosmic picture of what mankind is.
I think well. but not for computers.
I don't know what will happen in the future.
There used to be space for dreamers, thinkers, introverts.
Now we wonder if introverts should be a mental aberration in society.
So far, we are safe. The latest copy of the DSM has refused to call us mentally disturbed.
There was discussion.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Pride is Good. Joy is Better

Can we be clear on this?
Joy is bigger, better, more lasting in many ways, and specifically is, joy.
It is NOT pride.

I have mentioned joy in context with a grandchild twice recently. Both times, someone has commented, "Grandma's pride."

One is a woman who never got along with her own children. The second never had children.
I wanted to punch the first in the nose. I explained to the second.

"Grandma's pride" is what I feel when they say "please" and "thank you." Grandma's pride is when they make the honor roll and you already know they are smart, so.

Joy is so much more.

Joy is transcendent. Sometimes, it simply happens. Sometimes, it is your happiness when you, or someone you love, does something they wanted to do and loved to do, and did it. Maybe they, or you, didn't know if they, or you, could. That ramps it. Simply said, it is the joy of:

This is not Grandma's pride.

Well, it can be, I suppose. But pride involves achievement, and joy?

I have to think on that.  Okay. Well, pride sometimes lasts. For generations. It can last.  Maybe it is just me. I have felt pride for my family, myself, for others. Some has lasted. it has. I know it can be visceral.

But pride has different coats, different gravitas.

Joy. It just is. Telling you what it is like if you have never experienced it--and I fear some may not--is like---

Space. Filled with fullness. No fear, and limitless happy. No pain that I notice for this instant. No smell I do not love. No sound I do not welcome. Expectation, spiraling understanding that this is, this:  is joy, and we welcome it, remember it, touch it again in memory.

If it lasts a second, it may be worth a lifetime. But if it goes on, or recurs, it carves itself into who you are, and no matter what comes next, you never again will be without joy, because it has become a part of you.

Some watch their children and grandchildren live, achieve, perform, and maybe they smile, are happy, and feel pride. That is good.

But when I say I have felt pure joy, whether it involves a grandchild, a friend, an institution,whatever. It is not pride. Of any kind, of any generation. Joy is meant to be danced, and sometimes sung, and at least written about as I have.

I have felt joy today, and it isn't frequent.  Happiness is within reach so easily, if we are open to it. Joy is a different level, and I am so glad it is a part of my life.

Joy transcends.

And for a few minutes today, I flew.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Dogs Hurt, Love, Chase Their Tails. But I Don't Think They Ever Ask Why

I love my dogs.
I wish I were a better owner and trained them better.
They would have more exercise, know what I expect, be more fulfilled. That is the nature of a dog.
I know scientific observation of dogs is fairly new.
I have some observations.
Gracie and Brodie are, respectively, full and half-Corgis. A lot has been bred into the breed. Brodie, as half, differs in some ways from Gracie. But both shy from anything in my hand. Neither has ever been threatened or harmed. They shy anyway. That must be a breeding characteristic, and I wonder why it was bred in.
Brodie's half not-Corgi side welcomes a pat on the head and stroke down the back. And he came from a rescue shelter. Gracie, who has been indulged her entire life, dodges a hand to her head. She will accept it after she has ducked under my leg, with her head exposed. Sheltered so, she will also let me run my hand down her back.
She is so sweet. So sweet. But if I am petting her and Brodie approaches, she is a bitch. Literally. Females usually rule, and in this, she does. But when I give them snacks, she always lets him go first. I haven't figured that out.
Dogs are in the present.
I don't think the question"why" is in the breed, whichever.
And that makes it sweeter, and sadder for me.
They have hope, and joy. They have sadness. Despair? probably. But they fight to live, to survive.  I don't think they every ask "Why?"
A year ago, Brodie finally had to have the hernia surgery that had been pending from puppyhood. It was a more serious tear than we thought, and in addition to surgery, he had to wear a cone until the incision healed. It took longer than we thought. Seven weeks.
After all, he couldn't eat, except by hand. He could drink. He was uncomfortable. It lasted weeks. His eyes became so sad. And what killed me was--it might have been better if he had wondered why, if he then could be comforted by petting and attention. He enjoyed it. But it didn't really help. He understood this was what I was putting him through, and he had to go through it. He appreciated the attention, and the fact was, this was life for the present. He never wondered why. He just accepted this was life for now. And he was sad. Somehow for me, it made it worse.
Because I had to do it. His life depended on it. He simply accepted it was life for now.
And I realized why the dog that is kicked and abused crawls back, never understanding why, just understanding what the dog is supposed to do. It is what it is.
I am alpha. He is pack.
I didn't hurt him because I could, but because it was necessary. He will never understand that, but then, for him, no justification is required. He loves me constantly, until this moment.
And I love him.
And I wish I did better by him, and by Gracie. They are great company.
Neither are fat. They get some exercise, but need more. Well, so do I.
I am not a human living alone. I am a social being, with my pack. We are household.
The house was much cleaner before they came. Dogs are perpetual toddlers, in a way. In another way, they are a separate specie with separate expectations, needs and understandings.
Often, they are ignored, or receive little attention, but they are okay with that.
They have been sidekicks to mankind for millennia.
And that is just the way it is.