Not bad for a fat girl

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What Do You Say At a Time Like This?

I’ve felt tongue-tied recently. At least online. I want to write, but I’m not exactly sure what to write about. Naturally there are the BIG things. Things like justice, equity, access to healthcare, governmental responsibility, constituent responsibility, the role of media, the role of the courts, the issue of personal responsibility, the issue of public health.

I’ve stayed away from the BIG topics because I feel like a blog isn’t the right place for me to share my thoughts about them. It’s too one-sided. There are my words, then your interpretation of what I mean, then maybe a comment from you and a reply from me and that’s about it. There’s so much room for ambiguity and misunderstanding. There’s so much margin for error. I prefer to discuss these topics in a more two-sided way, with give and take from both parties. We don’t learn from one another by making proclamations, then closing our eyes, ears, and hearts.

So if not the BIG things, then what? There are plenty of things rattling around in my brain, but they seem so trivial at a time like this. In light of the pandemic raging and the U.S. Capitol being overrun, does anyone really want to read about my seemingly never-ending quest for just the right hand cream? Maybe. After all, I’m not the only one washing my hands excessively this winter.

Or maybe you want to hear about my brownie fail? I’ve made this recipe dozens of times, if not more. These brownies are the best. They ALWAYS turn out. Except the other day they didn’t. The closest I can figure is that I either set the oven for the wrong temperature (maybe 325 instead of 375?) or I set the timer for the wrong amount of time (13 minutes instead of 23?). I was distracted. I had more important things on my mind (more about that in a minute), and I rushed. Sure, they looked a little strange when I pulled them out of the oven, but they weren’t jiggly or anything. And no, I didn’t test them, because why would I? After all, I’ve made them dozens of times, if not more, and I was distracted. They’re still pretty tasty, but they are definitely underdone. Like, way underdone. They hold together, but really, they’re not exactly cooked. Oops.

And why was I distracted? Well, because if was just about kickoff time, and my football team is in the playoffs. Yes, the Buffalo Bills are showing up and it’s glorious. This football season has been a welcome distraction from the BIG things. The team has done so well, and they’ve been so much fun to watch. It’s been a long time since the Bills have gone this far, and it’s a ton of fun. Thank you, Buffalo Bills.

Then there are a bunch of “other” things. Things like the stolen credit card number (that my credit card company caught, thank goodness), the glitchy connection to my online students, and the thousands of spam messages to this blog. There’s the job hunt my son has been enduring, and not seeing much of him due to this stupid pandemic. There’s the mountain of work I need to do in order to complete the requirements to be considered for National Board Certification (for teachers), as well as the professional observation I need to schedule. There’s the concern about going out into the community that has kept me from the dentist and the hair salon, making me feel somewhat like a cave-woman. There’s the worry that I feel for my friends and loved ones, as the list of people I know who’ve been diagnosed with this horrible disease grows. There’s the anxiety of watching the news, but the feeling that I have to keep informed. There’s the wrath that my colleagues and I face from some members of the public, in our community and beyond, because our schools are functioning in an online only capacity for the time being. There’s a lot. And here we are, right back to the BIG things. They’re impossible to ignore.

It seems to me that it’s the big things that frame our lives, but it’s the small things that make them worth living. I’ll set up my observation, and continue the quest for the perfect hand cream. I’ll keep working my way through my National Board materials. I’ll keep looking for work-arounds when our Google meet goes wonky. I won’t give up on that brownie recipe, and I won’t give up on my football team. In the middle of all this crazy, you can still hear me shouting, “Go Bills!”


What Does the Ray Rice Situation Have to Do With My Son?

I’m all about having fun. Sweetness and light and creativity and reading and writing and playing all have important places in my life. I like having a good time. Fun is my friend. That’s why I don’t want to write about this topic. At all. But I feel like I have to.

I don’t pretend to have all the facts on this particular incident. I don’t pretend to know what was going on before the now infamous elevator assault. I can’t imagine all that has gone on since. I do know that this NFL player assaulted his then fiancee (now wife) and it was caught on video. stop-domestic-violenceHe knocked her unconscious, then apparently dragged her out of the elevator. I haven’t seen the video for myself, and have no intention of viewing it. I don’t need to see it. I don’t want to see it. I get it without the video evidence.

The really sad thing is that people hurt other people all the time. The people they hurt most tend to be the ones closest to them- their partners, their children, even their parents. Assaults like this take place every day in every state across this country, and I imagine in most other parts of the world. This situation just happens to involve a high profile professional athlete, so we’ve heard about it. Add in the video for major shock value, and now you can’t turn on the tv or radio without catching some commentary on the incident.

This assault, and its handling by the NFL, has become big news. Again, this is but one brutal act among far too many to count, but this one has made headlines. As such, I can’t ignore it. Why? Because I am the mother to a sports loving teenage son.

My son is more interested in stats and information than in actually watching games, which is fine with me, but it means that he knows a lot of facts and figures about most of the players in the league. He knows what these guys can do and have done, at least in regards to the game. He also knows tons of random trivia about them. He can tell you about their college days, their injuries, and their endorsement deals. In some instances he can even tell you about their criminal records. That’s crazy.

Professional athletes get a lot of media exposure, for better or for worse. Their actions influence others, particularly young men who wish to emulate them. Certainly there are many fine role models in the ranks of professional athletes, but they don’t tend to get the same exposure as the players who break the law. Too often if someone is a good player, their other flaws are overlooked. What a horrible message to send to young people. Be as awful a human being as you want, as long as you have a highly sought after marketable skill. Your employer will look the other way, as long as you don’t do anything TOO awful. Of course that’s not reality for most of us, and frankly most of us wouldn’t want it that way. Who would our coworkers be? Would we feel safe at work?

That brings me to another question. Why is this man’s employer the one to decide what happens as a result of his actions? Why has the criminal justice system not taken this situation a bit more seriously? Oh sure, she was at fault too, I’m told. She even said so.

Now I’m not an expert, but isn’t that what often happens in domestic violence situations? Don’t people (usually women) accept responsibility for causing abuse in many instances? Isn’t knocking someone unconscious a problem even if they did make you upset?  In my world, yes, it’s a huge problem.

How does this situation affect my son? Well, it means that he and I will continue our dialogue on what it means to be human and to have relationships with others. We will revisit the territories of respect and boundaries and right and wrong. We’ll postulate reasons why someone might stay with an abuser (an unthinkable situation in his mind), and brainstorm some possible alternatives. And once again we’ll talk about the fact that love and violence should never live in the same house.

I hate that this situation happened, but I’m glad it reopened difficult conversations, both in my house, and outside of it. May all the people who are living in abusive situations find the strength and means to find safety and help, and may those who misuse their power for harm instead of good find a new way of being that shares love and beauty, not fear and anger.