Friday, February 16, 2018

Guns and Children

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I could not watch the news last night.  The coverage of the most recent school shootings in Florida chilled me to my core.  I thought of all the normal mornings that happened in the houses of those victims.  The things that parents meant to say and waited till after school. The things kids meant to say but that slipped their minds as they rushed to find homework, permission slips and lunch cash.  Lives that changed in the blink of an eye, never to be the same.  I look at my kids and can't imagine how i would go on if that happened to us.  I know you have to go on.  I don't know how.

I'm filled with anger that a country like ours can not find a way to keep our most treasured resource--human life--safe.  I come from a family of hunters.  My dad hunted every year--deer, rabbit, birds.  I am not a stranger to guns and I don't fear guns per se.  I have shot them.  I have had 16 hours of handgun training as part of my black belt test for my first degree test. 

But guns have a place.  And certain guns don't in my mind, have a place in civilian hands.  Guns like that one used in Florida would be one such.  You don't hunt deer with that.  You hunt people.  We are so afraid that legislation will take away our second amendment rights that we are willing to risk exterminating ourselves.  We blame it on mental health issues instead of the fact that access to these weapons is far, far too easy.  The people who wrote that second amendment had single shot rifles that took a minute to load. They did not envision the advances in weaponry that are available today.

Most people with mental illness are not violent. But we cut services to this population and then stigmatize them further by blaming them for this situation.  Both parts of the tragic equation need to be addressed.  Until we do, I see no way to believe things will improve.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Scare Others

I keep wrestling with the changes I see in our country.  I have a hard time wrapping my head around the incredible unkindness that I see in people's posts.  In the policies they want our elected officials to enact.  In their support of the things that are being done.  This video came through my Facebook feed and I was appalled.  It was a Jimmy Kimmel bit where he brought together Dreamers and people who are totally against DACA. Google it if you haven't seen it.  I couldn't make the link copy properly into my blog and am not sufficiently techie to fool around with it.

Despite meeting a family and seeing their situation (woman who is an employed mother, a nursing student and the fiancee of a military National Guardsman) the vote was overwhelmingly to deport her.  I was stunned, because I think in my heart I always thought if people could put a name and a face to the situation they would think differently. That this would remove the "other-ness" that seems to permit some folks to look at the situation so harshly.  Kind of like when gay marriage was not legal and people would say "those people--but not YOU, YOU are different."  I wasn't different, but I was known.  I was a face that was everyday normal to them and therefore people who knew us well were apparently moved to consider our situation through a different lens.

I'm not sure they would now, because somehow the climate of our country has changed so radically.  I can't even wrap my head around it well to write cogently what I feel in my heart, so bear with me.  The closest thing I can come up with is that we used to operate on the American Dream.  A belief that virtually anything was possible and that it was not harmful to lift up others in their quest for their dream.  We believed  our possibilities, our resources were limitless and available to all and that we could achieve the most by working together for a greater good.

 Now, I best describe our country's mindset as operating from a position of scarcity and "otherness".  Somehow we have become convinced that there are not enough jobs in this country for both immigrants and american citizens to build healthy, meaningful lives.  If we allow immigrants ,we suspect our own jobs will be lost.  If we allow Dreamers a path to citizenship, we foresee negative consequences, a perceived reward being given to a child who had no choice in what happened to them. That perceived leniency is not possible because they are "other."  They are not Americans and therefore their existence is a threat.  I have yet to read an arguement that made sense to me of how and why this was a threat but clearly the perception is that they need to be punished. 

I know some Dreamers in my real life.  They are hard workers and have tried their best to correct a situation that was not of their making.  They want to continue to build their lives here. What truly IS a waste is to send smart, contributing young people away so they can make a living in some other country.  I can't see how that benefits us.

I know some immigrants in my real life.  A lot of them actually because of the work that I do.  They are hard working, contributing members of society.  They do jobs at pays that no one else wants to.  Frankly if they were not there to hire, I am not sure that the jobs would get filled because us real Americans are not all quite as fond of some of those types of jobs. We've got the education and the birth right but not an over whelming desire to pick the fruits in the apple orchards or the lettuce in the fields.  We sure like to eat though so this could become interesting somewhere down the road.

Why don't we think there is enough to go around?  My guess is that our scarcity model is fueled ironically by the excessive consumption that is encouraged by the advertising nowadays.  Ever try to buy a regular sized anything these days?  It's kind of hard because everything is large, supersized,etc.  So we spend more than we need, we want more than we need and we become hard hearted because we are all out to "get ours." 

A sad legacy for our children.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

40 Years of Love

It is time to start decorating for Valentines Day around here.  In addition to the decor that the kids and I have made over the years, I also typically put out my grandmothers ruby glass collection--or at least pieces of it.  Most of it came to her at a large 40th anniversary party that was held for she and my grandfather.

I remember that party so well.  It was at the summer camp where I spent every summer growing up and it seemed like there were so many people.  There probably were--my grandparents were very social.  But I know that memories from way back when I was about 7 or 8 are a likely to be somewhat inaccurate. 

I remember that there seemed to be endless tables of food, and that I got to help my mother make some and set things out on the buffets.  I remember eating meatballs but nothing else about what was actually served. I remember music and pictures and I think some dancing.  It was a joyful magical time and I loved it, even though at the time the idea of 40 years of marriage being special was not very interesting to me.  I didn't know either that the very next year my grandmother would be diagnosed with breast cancer and two years later she would be gone.

Tonight I thought a lot about the 40 years of marriage as I dressed our dining room.  Though my wife and I have only had the joy of a legal marriage since 2004, we have been together since 1978  That makes 40 years for us this May.

So much has happened in those years.  Years of joy, years of sorrow, challenges, triumphs, dreams both realized and deferred.  Through it all, we have had each other.  We are in so many ways such polar opposites, I am chatty and gregarious. She is friendly but reserved and treasures quiet space and times. Yet at our core, we are each others touch stones, and I can not envision life without my soulmate. 

It helps me understand more fully the spiralling despair that my grandfather went through when his wife died.  And it reminds me to treasure every moment, because the gift of true love is not just at Valentines Day and not to be taken lightly.

Monday, January 29, 2018

I love the Grammys but. . .

I love music.  Almost every kind of music there is. There is one genre I don't particularly love but I will not even put out there what it is.  The reason is that to me, music is an important way for us to express the things that our spoken words or innermost thoughts are afraid to say.

I loved the Grammy's this year, though I confess I have DVR'd the last 30 minutes so that I will watch it tonight.  I also was loathe to give up my 30 minutes of reading time so I am having my cake and eating it too with the magic of recording.

Lots of my favorite artists won this year--notably Kendrick Lamar and Bruno Mars.  What was also notable to me was who did not win.  Namely Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.  Despacito was the biggest hit (obviously we are just talking about my opinion here) in 2017  For actual stats, I looked up how many youtude hits it had.  There were something like 4 billion by October of last year.  I did not bother to look up how many sales there were, or downloads of the song, but I am sure there were high numbers there. 

So I ask you, why did they not win?  I believe simply they did not win because it was a latin group singing a latin song and this was a "mainstream" award.  We haven't come all that far people.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A special gift

My wife's birthday is in early February; KC's is in April.  Last week he came in to my work room staring at his phone.  "I'm so upset," he said.  "I just can't believe it."

I asked what was up and he said that Travis Wall and his dance company Shaping Sound were coming to a city near us for one performance only on January 29th.  Travis Wall is an amazing dancer and choreographer.  Our whole family is pretty well enarmored of his work and the amazing ways he thinks of helping to tell a story through dance.

I looked on line and knew that there was no way I could buy tickets for all of us.  The money tree in the back yard is dead, people!  (laughing)  It has been a hard winter financially, capping off a hard YEAR financially. Hey 2018 has to be better right? Please goddess? Anyway, I called my wife and suggested that I pay for she and KC to go together as birthday presents to them both. (the other part of KC's gift is a dinner out with 4 friends)  She was thrilled and they are both looking forward to this so much.

I am glad that I could gift them both with this.  For KC it isn't just about the dance which is his deep and abiding passion, but it is so important for him to see successful male dancers in the styles that he enjoys dancing in.  He adores contemporary and jazz and I know he will see a performance that will inspire him.  If you are curious, here is a Youtube link to a performance from the show.  You know I"ll be youtubing all I can to get a bit of its flavor here at home.  Shaping Sound  And while dance is not everyone's cup of tea--art in some form is so important for our kids; for all of us.  We need ways to express that which is deep within us and sometimes there is no way to release those emotions without dance, or song or another form of art.  I hope we all have ways to shape our sounds, and tell our truths.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Shiny New Year

This year both KC and Lissa were home for New Years Eve. Rob was working so it was me and my wife and the youngers who watched the New Year come in.  We watched a movie, played Apples to Apples and then noshed on the apps Lissa made from her new cookbook and while we watched the events from Times Square.  It was fun.  Low key fun, but made me think back to how much they have all grown.  New Years Eve used to be from a country some where else where it would be midnight there when it was about 6 to 8 p.m. here.  We'd have a feast based on the cuisine of the country we chose, play games jump on bubble wrap and it was literally done by 8 at the latest.

But they have grown so much.  Snuggling on the couch with them to watch the frozen folk in Times Square I am mindful that in a not distant future it will be me and my wife watching the new year come in.  Probably at that stage in life with a nice meal and an early bed. 

We have spent today taking down the tree, ordering a new tree since this one has survived all the kids, a plethora of animals and boy does it show it! We have cleaned and tidied and the house still looks pretty but also has a neatness and order about it that tends to disappear over the holidays.  Life is always busy and when you add in the holidays there is precious time to do much more than roll with the celebrations.  So I long ago decided that this was how I would handle it. I would clean thoroughly before decorating and thoroughly AFTER and the during was what my grandmother affectionately called "a lick and a promise."

I also got great headway on projects that are hard to fit into my regular schedule.  I have scrapbooks well in hand for 2017  On the one hand, since I only have 2 kids that I do this for now, you would think I could keep up better.  On the other hand, they have reached the point where their lives, experiences and interests do not mirror each other exactly so it increases the work in creating pages.  I have printed all the picture pages for both of them for all of 2017  I have organized all the additional memorablia--ticket stubs, receipts, menus and such and placed them in order with the pictures.  I now need to buy the scrapbook pages to insert in my plastic sleeves and then I can attach things permanently.  I always have great and grandiouse plans of keeping this up better.  I am not sure that i really can but am thinking of trying to literally schedule a scrapbooking date with myself at the end of every month.  We shall see.

Tomorrow my vacation is over and I return to work.  I have enjoyed every minute of my time off.  It has been a gift beyond measure but I am also ready to return to my familiar schedule. The week eases in a bit as it is a short week and the kids don't have any committments till Thursday.  Happy New Year all.  May 2018 be a good year to us all!

Friday, December 29, 2017

About that job. . .

A while ago I wrote that my present boss has been promoted and will be leaving our site.  I am an assistant property manager of compliance at our site.  I have worked here since Moses parted the Red Sea.  since 1978.  I have had a number of roles and most of that tenure I was employed by the former owner/agent. In 2011 we were sold to our present owners and I am employed by the managing agent.  Due to the complexity of the many subsidy programs we have, my role was restructured to deal almost exclusively with all the subsidy paperwork.

I do this well and have received awards, congratulatory emails, and excellent reviews.  However it has never been my goal to only do subsidy paperwork.  I have wanted to be a property manager almost ever since I started in this field.  With the first company I worked for I was the "heir apparent" and had been assured of the managership when my then boss retired.  Unfortunately we were sold before that happened so this was not realized.

He did leave under cloudy circumstances early into our time with our new company.  I was encouraged by my regional manager to apply for the position and I did.  I was told that I was not ready for this by the CEO of our management company.  I was devastated at the time but could see truth in what he said.  We had been with our new owners less than a year.  The things that we do in this company and the way they are done are very different.  I had also not had a lot of time to show my new company my strengths and what i could bring to the table.  So although I could understand what was said, I was devastated. It was probably a good couple of months before I shook it off and emotionally moved on with my life.

Six years rolled by and now the position is open again.  Being a glutton for punishment  firm believer that you keep striving, I again threw my hat in the ring.  This time the answer came in mere days and was again a no.  I am disappointed but refuse to let this get me down.  I think honestly that it is easier for the company not to have to train someone to do the job that I do (and there is not someone waiting in the wings who does it, so it would mean a new hire)  I think also that different companies have different cultures and that this company may not ever be able to see me as a manager.  While I am not sure the why of that, I have seen this with friends in other jobs as well. 

So luckily I had a plan B when I applied for the position.  I will spend the next couple of years getting a lot of additional schooling on my companies dime.  Education is never wasted and although I could in most cases just challenge the classes and obtain the management certification, I will take the classes.  Then, when KC and Lissa are a couple years older, I will apply for a managership in a different company.  I have friends in other management company's who have said I can send them my resume at any time.

Most importantly, I have not let this bother me emotionally.  I gave myself a full 24 hours to wallow in my unhappiness.  And wallow I did!  LOL  But I have a lot of great and wonderful things in my life and I can't let one no overshadow all of that.  I also know i really am a very capable person in the field I work in and that although this company does not see that outside of the realm of compliance work, I know it to be true.  With my first company my roles included staff management, budgets, capital needs assessments and more.  So I am moving forward into 2018 with a plan, with energy and with hope!