by thea marie
What's on my mind....
|It's just me, Marie, trying it again in 2009|
|Yesterday, I wasn't feeling well, so I messed around and missed making an entry. I hate that. I promised myself that I wouldn't miss a day, but already I have. I took some Alka-Seltzer for my uneasy stomach, and that was all she wrote. When I woke up again, at least to the point that I was coherent enough to realize that I hadn't written, it was after midnight and the day was gone.
Oh well. There's today, and I haven't missed. I don't intend to do that again.
This morning, I'm reading the news- I'm still stuck on the miners in Virginia- and now I'm seeing where some of the men left messages for their families. One man supposedly left an hour-by-hour account of his time down in the shaft. Then I read where the miners may have survived at least ten hours down there before they died.
Do we, the public, need to know any of this? Is it any of our business? Does it change anything?
In my opinion, the whole thing has been sensationalized enough. I think now we need to leave the families of these men to grieve in peace. If messages were left for them, that it to whom they were left. It's a private matter at this point. It's touching to know that they did, but to publish the contents seems a bit intrusive. Maybe the families wanted it known what what was said. If so, if it helps them, then great. But I hope it's not a case of some reporter getting hold of one of the notes and taking the liberty of publishing it for the sake of being first again.
That the men survived for ten hours is speculative in my opinion. The powers that be couldn't get it straight enough to report whether or not the men were found dead or alive. Does it really matter at this point how long they might have been alive down there before being found? The fact remains that twelve did not survive long enough to be found alive.
Regardless of how long they might have been alive after the explosion, twelve men are still being mourned today. If you want to tell me something, tell me how the man is doing that survived. I was happy to read this morning that he seems to be doing better.
I guess my point is that folks should stop trying to sell papers by stretching out the what-ifs for us readers. It only prolongs the anxiety and suffering for the families who lost loved ones.
|There simply aren't enough hours in my day when I'm writing.
Today, I sat down shortly after noon, and began editing a piece upon which I've been working. Then, to tie up some loose ends, I had to go back and read some previous work for the details. I wrote, backspaced, deleted retyped, read, cut, pasted, and revised. I so love the process.
I love how the images take shape, becoming clearer, and clearer until they're just like I think I want them. I move on from that, but when I come back to look at what I've written, I can make it even clearer. Or I can decide that I didn't want to say that at all and take it back without hurting anyone's feelings, unlike when I'm talking.
When I looked around, it was getting dark.
I wish every day could be like this one was. But then, I guess if all my days were like this, I wouldn't appreciate it as much.
Now the fury is on about who was right and who was wrong in the fiasco that resulted from inaccurate reporting regarding the deaths of the miners in Virginia.
I had been loosely following the incident, reading the reports out of Virginia as efforts were made to rescue the workers. Something about people being trapped, in mines, wells, tunnels, etc. has always fascinated me in a macabre sort of way. I guess I'm one of those people who root for the underdog. When those kinds of tragedies occur, I'm right in there, hoping that it turns out favorably for the trapped person or persons.
Years ago, when baby Jessica fell down into that well and it seemed the whole world followed the story, I cried when they finally got her out of there. She was injured, dirty, and scared, but the little girl made it.
It was no different this time. Even though it didn't look good for the workers once the air quality reports came out, I, like I'm sure the loved ones and friends of those Virginia miners also did, clung to the hope that they would make it out alive.
I first read it on the AOL news, that one of the men had been found dead. I'm thinking, this really doesn't look good for the others. But I'm still hoping that maybe the rest had found a pocket of fresh air and were still hanging on to be rescued. Not long after, it came out on AOL and then Yahoo News that the other men had been found, and they were alive.
I was very glad to hear that, in fact, almost jubilant. Even though I didn't know any of them, I was happy for their triumph over adversity. But still, I was a little troubled to further read that those news reports I was reading said that the information they were relating of the men being alive came from the families of the men, not from an official source. I double-checked each article to make sure that what I was reading was correct. They both said the same thing (which they normally do since they seem to get their news from the AP.), the information had come from the families of the trapped men. That, to me, didn't have much of a ring of reliability to it.
Surely enough, I got up the next morning to find the headline had changed to all but one of the men had been found dead. I was devastated, but not entirely surprised. What did me in more than anything was that I had seen the ragged hole in the story and had questioned it at the beginning. It seemed funny to me that the families would be reporting anything before the officials on the scene made an 'official' statement and that the news services would buy into it.
According to the link above, some of the most widely read newspapers in the nation went out to the public that next morning with their headlines blaring the erroneous information that the workers had been found alive. Like middle school kids, in their rush to be the first to blab the story, the reporters had it it all wrong. It seems they relied on hearsay, overheard cell phone transmissions and whatnot, rather than waiting to get the facts.
Then, once the story got out, the people in charge of the mines made the decision to wait and see what was really going on with the men before they addressed it. I can't say I blame them. The 'story' had spread like wildfire. I'm sure they kept silent in the hope that it would turn out to be true. Sadly, three hours after it was reported that the men were alive, the reality ended up being the worst for everyone involved.
I was truly saddened. I cannot imagine the let-down and the heaped-on grief of those who lost husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, and friends down in that mine.
It has been a tragedy on many levels, but the media, in their irresponsiblity certainly played a huge part in making it worse for all of us. Most certainly it was made worse for those families and friends.
This incident has truly etched in stone the adage that you cannot believe everything that you read.
|Yesterday I took with me to the hairdresser my latest copy of the Times magazine. Today, I received the Newsweek, dated January 9. Both magazines carried articles about the late Dr. Martin Luther King.
The articles focused upon the latter years of Dr. King's life, specifically his last days, and how his efforts toward using non-violence to protest against injustice seemed to fail him in the end. The articles painted somewhat disturbing and discouraging images, incongruent with what history would have us to believe about Dr. King. Incongruent and discouraging if I hadn't already come to some conclusions about the man on my own.
I was a child of maybe eight or so when Dr. King died. I can clearly remember being with my mother at the Northland JC Penney in Southfield, MI trying to pick out an Easter dress. A saleswoman came up and whispered to my mother that Dr. King had just been shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee.
My mother suddenly became very fearful and told me that she was ready to go home. She said that she was afraid that people were going to riot. I didn't know what a riot was, but I could tell from her face and by the grip she took of my hand that it was something terrible. We left off dress shopping and returned to the car. My mother never learned to drive, so Daddy had to be her chauffeur. He preferred to stay in the car and snooze than to go into the stores with us to shop. He was there in the lot, waiting for us to come out. She told him what happened, and then, in tense silence, we went straight home.
In my mind at the time, Dr. King was associated with trouble. His name conjured up for me the word "negro", places like Mississippi, Alabama, Selma, and the city where my grandfather lived, Montgomery. I knew that four little girls had been killed by a bomb while at church one Sunday, and that their deaths had something to do with Dr. King. I had seen television coverage of black people getting washed back and away with firehoses wielded by white firemen. I had seen the pictures of black men and women being attacked by dogs controlled by white policemen.
But my parents were gentle, private people. They believed in going to work every day, minding their own business, and keeping to themselves. They didn't talk to us or explain to us about the nature of the struggle. It wasn't something that was discussed at the Catholic school that I attended. Thus it all seemed abstract to me, very much removed from my cozy, insular life. It wasn't until much, much later that I really came to understand what Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement had been all about.
After college, I became an elementary school teacher in the inner city. As February had been designated "Black History Month", we were obligated to step up our efforts toward educating the children about the struggle of black people in America. We trumpeted the feats of those who fought so hard for the rights of ethnic minorities in the United States, particularly the famous blacks who had done so.
Although I in no way wanted to diminish the great sacrifices people made, the hardships they had to endure, and the strides we have made as a nation due to their unrelenting efforts, I grew tired of the same names always being dredged up: Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, etc. For those children who had come so many years later, those names were abstract. And what about the nameless others who were thrown in jail, hosed down, bitten by dogs, humiliated, spat upon and killed whose names didn't make it into the annals of history? What about the people who were with Dr. King, the little people who did the grunt work in the background so that he could become the icon he became?
And had some of those very people, the ones we remember, been in it not only for the struggle, but also for the fame and glory it brought them? In one of the articles I read, Dr. King's angry accusation of that very thing to one of his up and coming lieutenants confirmed that line of thought for me.
I have always felt that black history is American history, and as such, it should be taught as American History should be taught-candidly and exactly like it happened, not as an entity separate from other U.S. history. The events and the people and the pain should blend and fold and flow with all the other events and details that make up the rich tapestry of our American past.
In reading the two articles, I found Dr. King to be very, very human. A man with human frailties, fears, insecurities, and failings. He was a man with vision, an intellectual, a powerful speaker, a definite leader, but when you get right down to it; he was a man. Rosa Parks became a symbol of strength and dignity, but in reality, she was merely a tired black woman who on that day had had enough and would not be moved.
It is my belief that most heroes, those people history tends to deify, are simply people who were doers as opposed to talkers, people who were tired and fed up with a situation, or those who were in the right place at the right time and made the most of the moment. In the end, however, they were people- people like you and like me.
I can remember a few years back when the stories first started leaking out about Dr. King not being faithful to his wife during their marriage and how andgry and disappointed some people were about it. Some didn't want to believe it, claiming it to be vicious, racist propoganda designed to mar his image. It didn't mar his image to me. To my eye, Dr. King, aside from being a preacher, orator, and a leader, was a handsome, sexy, and charismatic individual. In my mind- like all males- preachers, erstwhile heroes, and otherwise; Dr.King was a man. The reality is, some men cheat on their wives, even men dedicated to a noble cause like the Civil Rights Movement.
I'm sure that Rosa Parks wasn't the first black woman who got tired, sat down on the front of the bus, and got arrested for refusing to get up. Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Frederick Douglas weren't the only people who thought that slavery was wrong and decided to do something about it. But I'm sure that if we dig deeply enough into their pasts, we can find some dirt on them, too, that goes against the sterling image that history has bestowed upon them. We get in the most trouble- in church, in history, and in other key places- when we try to make people more than mere people.
To sum up, I don't believe in heroes, never have, but I do trust in the strength of character, the goodness, and the humanity of people.
|I have been a slave to my hair my entire life. It's as if the state of my hair dictates to my moods, my disposition, and sometimes my level of self-esteem. If my hair ain't right, neither am I.
As a little girl, I never learned to swim well because of the effect of water of my hair. I don't perspire very much on any other part of my body, except for my scalp. Not good. Because of that, I have had to make certain physical adjustments to accomodate that reality and its effect on my hair. Couldn't play hard, had to wear a swim cap for a romp under the lawn sprinkler- all kinds of crazy limitations.
My hair has always been thick, curly, and sensitive to moisture, which isn't a convenient thing for a busy, working mother who was meticulous about her daughter's appearance. I learned early in life that being tender-headed was not a luxury afforded to me. Thanks to my hair, I have developed a fairly high threshold for pain.
Fortunately, as an adult, I rarely have bad hair days, but when I do....
While in Texas last weekend for my son's graduation, I was forced to stand outside in the rain. It was a humid, morning-misty kind of rain- the kind that wreaks havoc on porous hair like mine. I had gotten up and styled it so that the short cut I wear was exceptionally cute. I wanted my son to be proud of his mother. We hadn't seen each other in six weeks.
He's familiar with my hair thing, and he's used to seeing me with every hair in place. My hair looked good; therefore, I felt good.
The cloudburst that threatened earlier never materialized. The skies had cleared and the sun had come out. My son and I spent the afternoon together, and then I dropped him back off at the Air Force base where he had just finished his basic training.
Back at my hotel, when I got my first look into the mirror, I was beyond appalled. I found that my hair had dried into something resembling an old bird's nest, and I had been walking around all day like that.
It's bad when you think you're walking around looking good, and you find out that you haven't been.
Despite that, I still had to go home on the plane the next morning. I couldn't wash it because I was due for a permanent, and unless you want your head to burn like you stuck it into the fires of Hell, you can't wash your hair for a few days before a getting perm. I was stuck hot curling my dirty, sticky hair and making the best of it.
That was last Saturday. Aside from being sticky and dirty, the hair smelled. Where could I go like that? How could I present myself to the public in that condition? Consequently, I haven't really been away from home since I pulled into the driveway from the airport. I couldn't. My hair was through and so was I until 5;30 this evening when I went for my appointment.
It's all better now. And so am I.
|When I woke up this morning, it was raining. It had been raining when I went to sleep last night. In this cedar house, the only thing separating its occupants from whatever the sky happens to be depositing, is the roof. No attic, no crawl space over the master bedroom, so the sound of the rain rings pure, genuine, as close to first-hand as you can get without getting wet from it.
It's exquisite for lying in the bed and being lulled to sleep by it or being gently nudged awake.
I love the rain. It's cleansing. As I don't like to be wet from it, I tend to stay put when it's pouring outside. Nothing better than having something interesting to read in front of me and a hot cup of coffee by my side.
I most appreciate the rain when I have time for it, like I do this week: I'm off from work and have no place to go. With it still raining as it is, I have reason to stay in and be productive around here. I am forced to face the things I've been putting off. That's not to say that I'm going to do them, but at least I can see them looking at me and make the choice.
Or I can sit down and let the rhythmic drumming on the roof above my office flow through my fingers, and I can write about it. I can write about whatever I haven't written about in ages.
I am reminded of the young girl I saw in the airport in Dallas last weekend while waiting at the gate for our flight. She has been on my mind ever since I watched her struggling with that baby carrier.
I think I sense a story there....
|I began this blog in February of last year, but found myself unable to continue it. I don't normally make New Year's resolutions, but I have decided to commit, rather than resolve, to writing something every single day this year, even if it is only one line, or even a couple of words.
I have been blocked for two years now, and I'm beginning to believe it is a choice more so than something over which I have no real control. I know that I am avoiding something. Through putting my thoughts out here for public review, I am hoping to reconvince myself that I can be the writer I once hoped to become.
|"The Royal Wedding
Britain's Prince Charles Finally Marries His Longtime Love
If Charles takes the throne, Camilla will be queen, but wishes to be known as Princess Consort. (AP)
Decades of Waiting Over
The prince marries Camilla Parker Bowles in a modest civil ceremony and the Church of England blesses the union, capping a long affair that lasted through Charles' first
marriage to Princess Diana."
Giving full credit to AOL and the Associated Press for the above, hoping they don't take offense to my cutting and pasting this here, I ask, is it just me???
Who gives a damn?
Two adulterers finally get married after breaking up two marriages with their continued, blatant infidelity. What is there to celebrate? What is the big deal?
It's not as if his wife died, she got divorced, and they met again and fell in love and got married. They were in love all along, married others, continued to fool around together while betraying their vows. His wife got killed while trying to find herself, she got divorced after the affair revealed her marriage for the farce it was, and then they got married.
I don't get it. Why the fanfare? Are the rules different when you're royal and rich? It seems tacky and seedy at best to me.
I'm glad they finally found true happiness. I think everyone is entitled to that. I'm glad that they have finally achieved what they obviously wanted all along. I don't deny that it's their right to be married to each other, if that is what they desire. Deep down inside, I'm actually happy for them. But is the world supposed to forget all the pain and embarrassment they caused just because he's Prince Charles? Are we supposed to overlook the fact that they made promises before the assembled and God that they didn't keep?
Diana Spencer and Mr. Bowles got played. Camilla loved Charles, but because he wasn't ready to marry when she was, she married another. Prince Charles needed a virgin to get him an heir, so he married or was talked into marrying Diana, while all the time maintaining his relationship with Camilla.
In the end, Diana even lost her life as an indirect result of this line of deception. She wasn't a saint, and I don't think she was anywhere near as naive as she was portrayed. I believe she might have been manipulative and had issues of her own, but I didn't and don't think she deserved what she got from her husband. She was used like some show horse/ brood mare.
I'm sorry, but I find little to be celebratory about in this, at least not to the point that it's newsworthy. I have gone past every article wondering, "Why?" It's old news, moldy and somewhat tawdry. It certainly isn't worth the fanfare the media, and I imagine The Royals, are trying to give it.
Camilla's a consort alright, but a princess? Not in my book. And he's a prince in name only.
|What kind of world is this becoming that a little girl can't go to bed at night and not worry about someone coming into her room and harming her solely because she's female?
What kind of world is this that a parent can't be sure that the child, tucked in and kissed so tenderly before being told good night, will be there in the morning?
It's a sad state of affairs when grown men pray on babies for sexual gratification or whatever it is they want to say that compels them to commit such atrocities.
|Last week was progress report week. It's that time of the semester where interim reports are sent to alert parents to any problems there might be that need to be corrected before permanent report card grades are issued.
Along with the progress reports, the school system for which I work also gives parents access to the teacher's gradebook for each student via the internet. A parent with internet access at home or at work can log-in and pull up the grades for their child(ren) as the teacher posts them.
Most of the teachers in my building utilize the Homework Hotline system where homework assignments are recorded daily so that parents and students can dial a phone number and hear the homework assignments for the day in the event that students are absent or may have forgotten to write down the assignment in the PTSA free-of-charge-issued agenda provided to each student.
To back those informational tools up, most teachers also maintain an independent website where parents and students can come to check out what is going on in the classroom and look for posted assignments as well.
And still we have large numbers of students who don't do homework, who come to class without what they need for the day, and parents who claim they didn't know their child was failing until it was too late.
I teach Reading, and a couple of years ago, I stopped assigning regular homework outside of independent outside reading or the occasional project. I resorted to that because it became so frustating to assign something that was designed facilitate the progress of the lesson, only to have seven of twenty-five students complete it and thereby have to hold up the lesson I'd planned so that those who hadn't done the work could be caught up.
I now have my students complete most of their work in class where I can see it and where the extaneous reasons for for not having the work turned in are reduced.
One would think.
Still there are kids who have missing grades, lots of missing grades. To give them extra time to turn it in isn't fair to those who did the work when they were supposed to. And even then, in many cases,given more time, those kids with missing work still don't do it.
I'm beyond complaining about it. Complaining and whining only brings me down. I can't give that power to someone else. I control my universe. So, I simply work with those who come to do their work, and when the others deign to join us, they do. I provide the clean, fresh, nuturing water; I can't make the ponies drink it.
Last week, my administrator emailed me that a parent had called her to tell her that my Homework Hotline number wasn't working, and that her son had been out for a week with the flu and thus, he needed his assignment. Since I don't give regular homework, I didn't make a big deal out of the fact that the extension I was given hasn't worked all year, nor did the same extension work last year. It wasn't fixed when I reported it as broken three times last year or the two time this.
But that wasn't what bothered me. What I questioned was why this parent didn't just call me and ask me what her son needed to do instead of calling the administator to try to rat me out? Was that supposed to establish a positive relationship between home and school?
Wouldn't it have been better if she had just come in, seen me, and picked her son's work up, which was what she was going to have to do even if I did have Homework Hotline set up. As it happened, her child is very self-motivated and was ahead of the game before he got sick. Once he returned to class, he got right with me, collected what he needed, and went at it on his own. He's always like that in my class, so I don't know what the agitation on his mother's part was about.
I wonder sometimes if we've made things so easy that they're difficult, especially when it comes to communicating with each other and/or doing things in the way that we know we should be doing them. What in the world did parents do before Homework Hotline, school websites, free agendas, etc., etc. when kids were expected to take responsibility and do the right things on their own?