Thursday, June 28, 2007

Supreme Court Ruling

Okay, now I'm REALLY upset. Am I the only old person that remembers Brown vs. the Board of Education? I was a kid when the Supreme Court ordered schools integrated and it was NOT to "create diversity!" I don't think that was even discussed at the time. The truth was that the segregated schools were terrible. African American kids got horribly crappy education. In my town, the black kids went to a one room school and the teacher didn't even have an 8th grade education. When those kids came to our school due to the Supreme Court decision, they were so far behind it was totally pitiful.

Even as recently as when my kids were in school, the schools where the black kids went were falling down around their ears, they had fewer school books, etc. Of course, the kids weren't segregated by law then, they were segregated by residential patterns. But the schools were still lousy for the black kids. So, now the Supreme Court says race can't be the major factor in assigning kids to schools so the magnet schools are ended and the other desegregation efforts are ended. Well, we'll see how long it takes for the schools that are predominantly black to descend into crappy. I'm going to guess not very long based on how my city spends money to repair streets. The more black people there are in a neighborhood, the crappier the streets. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Rebecca and I went to the zoo when it was raining off and on. A lot of the animals were asleep. A couple of male chimps were standing in the rain with their lower jaws jutting out, letting it rain in their mouths. I've done that myself when I was a kid.

The rhinos were awake too. They were cuddling. We'd never seen cuddling rhinos before. They lay side by side and rubbed their chins on each other. Then one got up, turned around, lay down again, pushed his butt firmly against the other one and heaved a big sigh of contentment.

The meerkats were up and looking curiously at us. They seem to have actual facial expression. All the birds were awake too.

I think other than the ones I've described that were awake, all the rest were asleep. A rainy afternoon looking at snoozing animals made me want to take a nap too so I had to do it as soon as I got home.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Some things I really miss:

Having somebody I love incredibly much around every day to hug and kiss. I kissed Ron on the top of his head every time I passed by him when he was sitting down. Now I just have to kiss the cat twice as much and he really likes it. Wherever Ron is, I think he knows half the cat's kisses are his.

Having somebody around every day that I know thinks I'm just about perfect. Not totally but almost. That feels really, really good - especially if it's somebody you love and whose opinion you respect! And especially if it's someone who knows you snore and cuss and are lazy and sometimes even mean and still thinks you're almost perfect.

Being a Woman

The best thing about being a woman is the built-in desire to love and nurture. I love that in myself and other women. Even though I'm basically kind of self-centered, I still have the instinct to nurture. I see that in some men, and it's lovable in them too. Most women seem to have it unless they are severely damaged psychologically.

The worst thing about being a woman is always being judged by my looks. I really don't have the words to describe how I hate it. I've noticed that when describing a woman, men always mention how she looks first. It's undoubtedly biological, and they can't help it, but it's sad anyway. I can't make up my mind whether - if I had known this was how it worked when I was 20 - I would have tried to really work on how I looked. For most of my life I assumed I was only decent looking and that nothing could be done about that, so I made no effort to improve how I looked. Now that I know, I wonder what would have happened if.....

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Losing a loving partner is a bunch of losses - not just one. My dear friend Joanie told me after her husband died that when she was missing him terribly, she would just mentally list the things she hated about him and was glad to be rid of and was cured instantly of missing him. So some of the losses are of things I didn't like - hate is too strong a word - and remembering them does help a little, but I'm not instantly cured.

One of the losses that makes me feel better -

Worry - I don't worry about what the crisis is going to be next. Ron was a crisis junkie and had one every one or two weeks. Being severely co-dependent, I thought I should solve every one of them and just drove myself completely crazy. He lost things all the time - keys to things - I got a lot of calls from him when I was out of town asking me to come and give him the key to his office or his car or the house. He also lost expensive watches, fishing equipment and worst of all, his false teeth. There are still many, many sunglasses and reading glasses in the house and the garage because he lost them so many times he finally just bought 20 at a time.

The other kind of crises were the medical crises which were fairly constant the last 10 years of our marriage. He never wanted to go to the doctor, let alone the hospital or the emergency room. So, I spend a lot of co-dependent hours thinking up ways to get him to the doctor, the hospital or the emergency room. Once I called an ambulance and they made him go. Those were the worst because there was always a really good chance he was going to die.

Now that the worst has happened I don't have to be braced all the time. Of course, when I finally went to Alanon and got a sponsor and actually tried to free myself (and him) from my obsessive rescuing, things got a lot better. He never met my Alanon sponsor but he referred people to her. He said she was responsible for greatly improving his quality of life.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


I guess it must just be terribly impractical or someone would have done it by now. But I would like to see someone try. Or at least talk about it.

We're getting too much rain in the middle part of the country and there are wild fires on both coasts from drought. If we can move oil by pipeline.... I guess there must not be any money in it - gathering excess rain and moving it to where it's needed. But if I knew how to build a pipeline and could get some other crazy people to go in with me...

Friday, June 15, 2007


I am so confused. It's one of those times when the true motives of the decision-makers in government are out of my realm of thinking. Here's the way I'm thinking about illegal immigration from Mexico and it doesn't fit with what I hear on CNN:

Lots of people are coming to this country from Mexico. Some of them are drug runners, but that's another story. Most of them, though, are just poor people trying to get away from a hopeless situation. Here they get lousy pay, backbreaking work and live in substandard housing. But it's so much better than Mexico that they're willing to risk their lives and even their children's lives to come here.

For a long time now, businesses - large and small - have hired them because they work so cheap which increases the businesses' profits. It seems to me that's why people say they need these workers to take jobs Americans won't take. Well, of course we won't. None of us would want to live the way these folks have to live because we have other choices. We might very well do the jobs if they paid a living wage.

Now there's this big outcry about illegal immigration, and I can't really follow what the complaint is. Yes, it's illegal, but so are a lot of other things that no one cares about because they benefit people with power. Ostensibly it's because we might be letting terrorists in over the border but really.... I haven't heard one thing about Mexicans being terrorists. No one believes that.

Or it's because they aren't paying income taxes and their children are coming to school and using other services, etc. etc. Oh come on, there are thousands of wealthy people who aren't paying taxes, but if they were, our government could probably get out of debt. If all the illegals from Mexico paid taxes it would be a drop in the bucket against the national debt.

So, I don't get it. If we don't want these folks why don't we just help Mexico develop an economy that would employ them and give them the same substandard (by our standards) lives they could build here? Then they wouldn't come, right? It worries me that maybe all this hoo hah about illegal immigration is just so that we'll think something is being done and businesses can continue to hire them and maximize their profits.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I used to be equally afraid of physical pain and emotional pain. Both scared me to an extreme. I learned - I think from reading about natural childbirth - that a lot of the pain is caused by resisting it. Over time I learned to lean into physical pain; to focus on it; to really notice what kind of pain it was; whether it was hot or cold, sharp or dull, etc. And it seemed to diminish as I focused on it, or at least it became bearable. That skill has really come in handy in recovering from the injuries I got in the wreck. Now, there's a level of pain where I just scream and cry. Focusing on it is way, way beyond me. But below that level, I can accept it and just go on. I haven't had to take a lot of pain medication as a result, which I think has helped my healing.

But I'm still scared of emotional pain. That's one of the reasons I love the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Working them has relieved me of a tremendous amount of emotional pain. Some emotional pain is just inevitable though. Loss - especially of people we love - no way to escape hurting about that. But for some reason I continue to try to escape it all I can. Leaning into it, focusing on it - no way. I experience it when I just have to but otherwise... So, I think the escaping and resisting is partly what is making me so tired these days. Maybe I'll think about using the solution for physical pain on emotional pain. But... probably not right now. Later would be good....

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I had a really tough civics teacher. Her name was Mrs. Hisaw and she was incredibly mean. Every kid in her classes was terrorized including me. I heard somewhere that fear causes your memory to really go to work so that you can avoid the same situation in the future. So, of course, I vividly remember most of what I learned in 7th and 8th grade civics, thanks to terror and Mrs. Hisaw. Which in turn means that I have a deep understanding of the three branches of government, the difference between federal government and state government and how they work together, etc. etc.

Then a lot of years later when I became a foster parent of two babies with extremely severe disabilities, I got a nasty surprise. I decided to try to help them because I had the naive belief that there would be help - that there would be someone to tell me how to help them. It turns out there wasn't. In the end I got most of my help from other parents of kids with disabilities, and together we tried to create what our kids needed. We soon found out that our own resources were not enough, and we couldn't even raise enough money to create, for example, a school program for them. So, we turned to government because that's where other kids' schooling comes from. We had quite a fight over a number of years because no one thought our kids could benefit from school, but eventually we won. In that process, I learned a lot about democracy. It's supposed to respond to the needs of its citizens, and we eventually made enough of a ruckus that it did.

So, I'm really quite passionate about our system of government. It's slow; it's subject to corruption; it has many other flaws too. But because I've seen it work and really make a difference in people's lives, I'm deeply disturbed by what I see happening. I'm old enough to have watched a long process take place which began with the Vietnam war. Well, maybe it began farther back than that, but that's when I started paying attention. A large number of people thought our government had made a terrible mistake and fought to stop the war. Our government came after them. The FBI watched them, arrested them and harrassed them in many ways and what they were doing wasn't illegal. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. Then we had Nixon and Watergate, and it turns out he actually was a crook.

I think somewhere along the way the majority of people just decided our government was such a mess it wasn't worth bothering with. In later efforts to help parents of adults with disabilities find ways to meet their sons and daughters needs, I found that most of them did not want to bother talking to their government representatives. They had absolutely no faith that they would be heard. In recent years I've had similar experiences with trying to persuade people to communicate with government officials. I tell them - that's how democracy works. You elect people to represent you but they can't represent you if you don't tell them what you want. Falls on deaf ears.

This year I wrote my Congressman. I asked for something very straightforward. I asked him to tell me what his position was. He could have said he didn't agree with my request and explained why if that were the case. But he just didn't answer. I only received a reply after months of calls and faxes. He is an acquaintance of mine, and I think he's a good person. But he didn't respond until he was harrassed!

I'm beginning to think our government isn't a democracy any more - that it just runs to serve itself and the interests of campaign contributors. If that's true, it makes it even more important for me to stay on my soapbox and keep trying to persuade people to get involved in their democracy. I refuse to give up!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I just finished reading "Stumbling on Happiness" by Daniel Gilbert, which is a serious study of what makes people happy. It seems there has been a lot of research into this topic. Unfortunately, none of us seem to be paying attention. What was delightful about this book was how funny it was - it was the first time I've read psychological research and laughed all through it. Here's a little excerpt from the part where he is explaining how our brains work and how poorly they help us predict how we will feel in the future:

" In the late 1960s, a Harvard psychology professor took LSD, resigned his appointment (with some encouragement from the administration), went to India, met a guru, and returned to write a popular book called BE HERE NOW, whose central message was succinctly captured by the injuction of its title. Now, why would anyone go all the way to India and spend his time, money, and brain cells just to learn how not to think about the future? Because, as anyone who has ever tried to learn meditation knows, not thinking about the future is much more challenging than being a psychology professor. Not to think about the future requires that we convince our frontal lobe not to do what it was designed to do... and it naturally resists this suggestion."

Gilbert says that we treat ourselves like our future children - guessing what will make us happy in the future and then trying to create that for ourselves. But we're doing a terrible job of guessing judging by the number of divorces, moves and job changes. It seems that in spite of our heroic efforts, we have no idea what will make us happy and our future selves suffer as a result.

As examples are the fairly well-known studies that show that more money only makes us happy up to about $50,000 a year. When people make less than that, extra money really improves their quality of life. But over $50,000 it doesn't really make any difference. In fact, in some cases people are more unhappy. But have you noticed that this fact doesn't keep people from striving and making enormous sacrifices to make more and more money and buy more and more stuff? His explanation is that we are programmed by society to do this because people who are focused on money and stuff don't run around making trouble - the lifestyle contributes to a stable society and good reproduction rates. He doesn't think there's any kind of a conspiracy - it just happens because it works.

Hmmm. I guess that means if we decide to opt out of the rat race and run around making trouble instead, we should keep it quiet. Oh wait, I've already been doing that for years.

So, Gilbert says the solution is to ask somebody who is currently experiencing what you're thinking about doing in the future what the experience is like. He points out that no one does this much. If you ask people whether they would rather use their imagination to decide what to do in the future or ask some one, they almost 100% say they would use their imaginations - because everyone thinks he/she is unique. But we aren't. But it's an ego thing. Now he strongly emphasizes that you shouldn't ask somebody who HAS experienced something in the past. He goes into great detail explaining that peoples' memories are very unreliable and they may tell you that law school was wonderful when they actually thought they were in hell at the time. So you should ask a current student.

A thought - there would be a lot of things you just couldn't find out about that way. I'm not sure whether someone would tell you whether a face lift was worth it right after they had the surgery. Also, I guess you wouldn't be able to find out whether someone was good in bed unless you asked right afterward and if he/she was already involved...well that just wouldn't work although I'm sure it's something most people would really want to know ahead of time.

Anyway, I loved this book. It's another "if we can put a man on the moon, why can't we...." thing. Looks like solid information about how to be happy would be a priority. But it doesn't appear to be and even the information we have is pretty much ignored.

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