Tuesday, July 11, 2017

30 years

Dear Mr. Vernon,

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was that we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy for making us write this essay telling you who we think we are, what do you care? You see us as you want to see us… in the simplest terms and most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Correct?  That’s the way we saw each other at seven o’clock this morning. We were brainwashed.

You may recognize this quote from the "Breakfast Club". I graduated High School in 1987, so John Hughes movies are the soundtrack and videography of my life. But...

I didn't actually belong to any of the assigned groups. I knew people in all of the groups. I was friendly to people in all the groups. But my group became the friends of my then boyfriend and now husband. We find our tribes, I guess.

As I said, I (we) graduated in 1987, which, if you are counting, makes this the year of our 30th anniversary. About a month ago I got a notification from a member of the committee planning the reunion asking me to join the reunion group on Facebook. 

I did.

But we didn't go to the reunion. Hubby has no interest in attending. We kind of feel we are still friends with the people we hung out with then, so why do we need to attend?

I knew we weren't going, but I followed the updates. I clicked on people I knew and was curious about just to see their fb page. Curiosity you know...

There were people I went to kindergarten with. There were people from youth group at church. There were people from English class. There were the popular kids. There were the athletes, and the brains, and those who may have gotten into... let's say interesting situations. Many were talking about going or mentioning something from the past. 

And once again I felt that anxiety of wanting to be a part of "the" group. The difference was this time I was choosing to not be. 

I have social anxiety anyway, so going would have been excruciating, but seeing pictures and hearing how much fun those that went had, makes me feel like I missed out. 

Looking at the pictures I find myself zooming in on name tags or being happy when people are "tagged". They look familiar but once I see a name I think, "Duh! They haven't changed." 

Of course they have. Many have extra weight. Some have less hair. All have a few more wrinkles. But the eyes are the same. The smiles are the same. I see the 18 year olds in them that I see in myself when I look in the mirror. Bon Jovi has a song in which he sings, "Not old...Just older..".  That's us. 

We may have classified each other as jocks, or dweebs, or druggies 30 years ago, but now we are ...
husbands, wives, lovers, mothers, fathers, or care givers. We are all strugglers and survivors

Hopefully I can convince our old tribe to go next time. 

After all we are all the La Porte Slicers Class of 1987.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Found Truth

I vividly remember being 6 years old and being on the back porch with my 5'4 mom while she switched the laundry from the washer to the dryer. I remember my 6'4 brother saying something smart alecky to my mom. And I remember my mom telling him, "You're not too big for my to turn over my knee and spank your butt."

That left a huge impression on me. I decided I would be "the good one."

My brother was the oldest.
My oldest sister was funny and happy.
Next sister was the gloomy one.
the Next sister died when she was 5 and became the one we didn't talk about.
Then me.
And last my younger sister who was -- then-- "the baby" and just annoying.

My role would be - to be "good".

And I have been.

The Love Languages talk about how we all have ways we prefer to be affirmed.

Physical Touch-- Camp made me more of a hugger and I tend to offer hugs if I think someone "needs" one, but (maybe it's so many years in K-2 where your body is fair game for poking and prodding) I do not seek to be touched.

Quality Time-- I am an introvert. Time isn't necessary, and in some cases, more stressful.

Gifts and Acts of Service make me feel like I need to reciprocate.

So that lead to Words of Affirmation. I'm the "good one". I do the right thing and I like people to recognize that.

But for the first time last week I realized that I not only want to be recognized for doing the right thing, I seek out doing things that will bring me that recognition.

I bend over backward to do things for others. At work, I never take off, because I don't want to let any one down. We get 2 personal days a year and 6 sick days. My sick "bank" has 63 days in it after 10 years. I volunteer to fill in for those who do take time off. I stay late. I work at home for free because I am an only an Instructional Assistant.

Friday I had a scheduled half day because I had to take my son to a doctor's appointment. There were 3 other assistants who were gone. I stayed through my usual lunch and recess duty because I didn't want to make things difficult-- even though I should have left before lunch duty.
I volunteered to stay through 1st grade to cover. Another assistant told me she could cover first grade. Knowing it would affect her ability to take her own lunch I resisted a bit.

Did I want to be recognized for being a martyr?

Yes. Yes I think I did.

How crazy is that?

I think I feel like I have to go big to be recognized. I think this is  mainly because "Thank you," is used so infrequently. And when it is used, it is a general, "Thank you for all you do." directed to a group of which I happen to  be a part.

That is not enough.

"Thank you for putting so much effort into planning your reading intervention. I know you spent your own money and time in doing that," would mean the world to me, because it would let me know I have been seen.

I realized last week just how invisible I have felt under past leadership. Our new principal is so much better. She gave me some of that affirmation last week before my "martyr Friday." I think that is what allowed me to finally see how desperate I had become.

Now what?

I still want to be the good one so I will still volunteer. However, I will also think before I put myself last.

The lesson to others would be to recognize that there is a difference between genuine, specific recognition and manipulation and those of us who appreciate recognition are keenly aware of the difference.

Monday, April 3, 2017

A day's work

When a group of volunteers come together, it's amazing what can be accomplished in a single day.

Friday, March 31, 2017

I made it!

It is day 31 and I wrote every day. There were so many days I had nothing to say. There were days I barely posted in time. There were days I couldn't begin to say all I wanted to say because there was no way to protect the guilty.
But I did it. 31 days of posting.

Going forward will be the trick. In honoring my OLW: Voice, I need to decide if I post every day or only when I have something pressing to say.

Time will tell.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Shopping- A "short" moment in time

I forgot she was the cashier I want to avoid.

She is the one better suited to "Greeter".
She takes forever to scan.
She talks forever to the people she knows.
She picks and chooses which items she wants to scan, even though I arrange them in categories. Because of this, the belt does not advance and I have to wait to put more items on the belt.

I forgot I didn't like her lane until I had things on the belt.
The conversation with the person in front of me was about selling your house "as is" because you can't get back the money you put into it. And how their kids are doing. And the great grandkids.

When it was finally my turn, she slowly scanned the items. Didn't advance the belt. And she wasn't able to to lift the water bottles, case of Coke, or kitty litter at the end, so she walked around the counter. I usually lift these items to be scanned, but thought this would be faster.
Not so much.

Finally, it was time to pay.
Or I tried as I always have --when swiping was allowed...
I tried while she was scanning.
You see, a new bank card was sent to me because apparently the chip is better.
 I have activated it and used it other places.

 I inserted it. Error. And the second time I got an Error. Swiping didn't work either. I tried my regular credit card with the same result. She came around and tried. Then she said I had to wait until she finished scanning before using it. She continued to pick
 and choose

 and scan.

Finally she was done and I tried again. Same result. Another cashier who was setting up at the next register came and tried with the same no result.
And again.

 She asked my cashier if she had my total up. My lady said she didn't know where she was in the process. She hit a couple of buttons and the total appeared again. The Second cashier tried chip again. And again. And swiped
and Ta Dah!
It worked.

I got my receipt and I left to the torrential downpour that had been falling all morning, and that would continue to fall all day, thinking "if I won the lottery we don't play...

I would so hire a personal shopper!"

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Someone Needs to Write a Book

The Tylonel murders that led to safety packaging happened while I was still of trick or treating age.

Adam Walsh went missing and turned out to have been murdered when I was of babysitting age.

Two students from school went camping at a local campground and were murdered when I was in High School.

My best friend and I were followed to school several days by a man in a truck who told police he "just wanted to look at the pretty girls."

Columbine happened when I was pregnant with our second child. I watched it unfold on TV while our oldest was napping.

The world is not any more or less safe today than it was 40 years ago.

So why, when I drop our 17 year old at the theater, do I worry as though the worst will happen if I just leave him there?

Elizabeth Stone said, "To have a child is to forever have your heart go walking around outside of your body."

There needs to be a What to Expect the Teenage and College Years because this angst was not covered in the baby books.

I've always thought Love You Forever was creepy and my husband says the mom in that book is a stalker. But, I'm starting to understand where the mom is coming from...

But both my guys have nixed my idea of hubby and me buying an RV and splitting time between the homes they will have with their families.

Darn. :-)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


In photography it is important to shift perspective. If you shoot a picture from above you diminish the power of the subject. If you shoot a photo from below you give the subject power. Shooting from an angle gives a subject energy.

Distance in time changes your perspective. I spent the last two days in my home town looking at it from the perspective of a visitor. My youngest and I went to the library. The library was my favorite location in town. It is a Carnegie library, and they just finished a year long renovation, so of course the inside is different. But the steps leading up to it seemed different as well. They looked the same but I remember the climb being taller. Somehow they've shrunk over the years.

We drove around trying to find locations of old relatives gleamed from census records and photos. I was trying to find connections to photos where people are posing outside houses but I don't know for sure where they are. I wanted to connect locations to people and to their place in time. In the process of looking for the houses, we drove the path I used to walk to get to my elementary school.

Back then, I had to cross 3 highways to get there. One had a stop light. One wasn't that busy. And one had a crossing guard. And the streets around the school were manned by 6th grade crossing guards with orange vests. (Those interested took turns).  I swear I didn't use to be able to see all the way to that 3rd highway from the stoplight at the first. And I swear it was a much longer walk than just 6 blocks. The parking lot at the Catholic church along the way had at snow hills at least a mile long in the winter all on it's own, so there is no way I only had a measly 6 block walk.

And driving around I noticed the homes in town are much shabbier and smaller than I remember. My yard growing up was a huge oasis of dandelions and the bees who liked to rest on them while I ran barefoot from the back door to the alley. Why did the new owners move the alley closer to the back door?

Perspective also changes dependent on how close you are to events. I was trying to locate houses and taking pictures -- freaking out youngest because I had off handedly mentioned I hoped I wouldn't get picked up for terrorist activity because I was taking pictures of random buildings. One home was only a block from my house and across the street and down three houses from one belonging to my mom's maiden aunts. I knew about the maiden aunts house, but the other one belonged to my mom's great aunt and her husband. Did mom know about that? It was a house I always liked and it still has charm.

We went to a cemetery to find the graves of distant relatives I've grown attached to. I've looked for them before, but without luck. Today we found them. This family, in early November of 1879 had 10 members including 8 children. At the end of December 1879, 5 of those children had died of diptheria. I can not imagine the pain of losing a child, 5 Is beyond comprehension. Apparently Diptheria is a virus of sorts where your lungs fill with fluid and you essentially drown. There was no antibiotic at that time to cure the disease and the tracheotomy that could have enabled breathing to occur until the symptoms passed, had not yet been tried. Finding them today and seeing that all their names were on the big tombstone was satisfying. Seeing they each had a little headstone with their initials carved on top gave me peace. Two stones had fallen over. Little Anna's had been lying down so long it was starting to sink into the earth. I picked them both up and tried to smooth the dirt around them. I brushed the moss off of the big tombstone where it was starting to eat away the etchings. I imagined a moment how it must have felt to bury your children one by one. Impossible.

We went to the museum, because my mother-in-law knows someone who said they might be able to answer my questions about some of the photos I had. I barely had the words, "I was wondering..." as I started to pull out a photo, before the woman taking my money quickly informed me she had no idea about anything,  because she had only lived there for a couple of years. She then added the other person in the windowed office hadn't lived there long either. AND she further injected that the nearly 90 year old resident historian was in, but that she researched for money. She then walked me back to the research room and asked what files I was interested in. She brought the files out and deposited them on the table. She showed the photos I had of an old school, to the historian who said (from her office) the newer version of the  school had been built on the location of the one in my photos. They asked if they could make a copy. They never asked the name of who was in the photos.

And that is when I started to think of the subject of this post. How can you work in a museum that is all about town history and not know anything about the town? There were 4 (probably volunteer) workers sitting and talking as we left. If you know nothing about the very thing you are representing, wouldn't you use your time to find out? No one checked on us in the research room. No one asked if we needed anything else. And we'd had to pay to get in. Very different from the Museum in Warsaw. They only ask for donations and are very friendly and helpful.

So, my thinking is that perspective is a complex issue.

When photographing, I think about what I want to convey with the image I am composing. Looking at the cliches that "time heals all wounds" and "distance makes the heart grow fonder" I take them to simply mean that opinions and memories are shaped by the significance certain events held in your life. Maybe La Porte was always a teeny, tiny, shabby, little place and I just didn't know it because at the time it was THE big wide world? Maybe it isn't the town that has changed. Maybe I am the one who changed; physically and emotionally

And maybe those people at the museum don't care about the history of La Porte because it was never their world. Maybe the people who care for the cemetery didn't notice Anna's stone had fallen over because she doesn't belong to them. There isn't anyone around she belongs to, or who know she belongs to them.

In the broader scheme of things perspective is everything. We can't truly fight for what we believe until we know what we believe and why. People who fight for one current event or another based on how they think-- the people they think  will be affected--  will actually be affected... Unless you can speak from personal experience --either yourself or someone you actually know-- then you don't know. We shouldn't jump on bandwagons just because we like the conductor or the song being played.

We need to look at issues from all angles. If we look up at issues, they will seem more powerful and problematic than if we stand over them. Looking at issues square stagnates them and freezes us to inaction. Where as looking at issues from all angles can give them movement and energy.

Perspective {changes} everything.