MARCH MADNESS

It’s always fun to fill the brackets and see who picks the winners. It’s inspirational to see the young people work together as a team. Many of them are hoping for the dream of big money and fame in the NBA. The truth is they have more chance of being hit by a meteor than playing pro. The average time of a player in that league used to be 3 years. I don’t know what it is now, but it’s not a lifetime.

Along the way I hope they have attended class and earned a degree. I hope they have learned how to live. I hope they have learned self respect, enough to carry them so they don’t feel like a failure if college is the ultimate game. I hope they don’t recreate the last great game for the rest of their lives, at 40, 50, 60. Thinking that was the last time they were alive or important.

I hope they didn’t learn how to cheat from an unscrupulous coach. I hope they didn’t have fake classes like North Carolina lined up for its’ players. I hope they don’t rate themselves by wins and losses.

These athletes are promised and education. Instead the college sports scene and even high school have become places of modern day slavery. If a player is hurt or doesn’t bring the coach his wins he is finished. Coaches who provide women and liquor to these young men are abusers. They are teaching them to disrespect women and disrespect themselves. The higher the level the more pressure to win at all costs. University coaches make an obscene amount of money. Why? To entertain with kids they use like trash.

I know coaches from high school, community college, university and the NBA.       I listened to two coaches one evening lament the death of a young man who attended school and when he was hurt, essentially dumped. No more scholarship, no possibility of an education. He died in a drug deal.

One of those coaches I listened to was a former assistant to a prominent coach who left every school on probation. He cheated until he was caught, then moved on, hired by another school…He told my friend, “Andy, you will never be a big time coach because you won’t cheat.”  He was right. Andy loved the kids and his first goal was to get them an education. When the other coach, retired, 40 of his former players came back to say “Thank you.” None were playing in the NBA, all are upright men. They got an education and knew they had been given the greatest kind of coaching, good example.

Blessings, Bubbles

 

I miss Winston Churchill

We watched “The Darkest Hour,” the other evening. What a breath of fresh air compared to all the f word movies.  In England the Germans were threatening invasion. Most of the parliament was against another war, many wanted peace talks. Churchill was nearly alone in wanting to stand and fight. The last line in the film is wonderful. Lord Halifax, after listening to Churchill”s speech says. “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”  It was so moving to hear the speeches Churchill gave. Even his daily speech was eloquent.

Churchill was intelligent and well educated. He could quote Homer, Augustine and the newer poets. He didn’t need to repeat the same words over and over.He knew the power of words, their beauty and meaning.  He had his faults, drank too much, was difficult. He suffered from depression, which he called the “black dog” when it hit him.  He also knew the power of good example and led the British with optimism  and class. “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill said and he was an optimist. Even in the darkest hours and days, he knew the wisdom of keeping the nation united. He was humble, often doubting himself. He died in 1965 before the present leaders could watch and listen to a person who knew what words to use. Would that we had someone like him now.

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/winston_churchill

Blessings, Bubbles

 

And the Rain Came Down

I love the rain. I made a big pot of chicken-noodle soup Friday to go with the rain. Rain gives us time to “hole up” and have some quiet time indoors. It seems that in So. California we are on the go too much. The weather is part of it. The Mediterranean climate too temperate. Nature too benign.

The rain has stopped. The air is soft now and smells so fresh.  The green of the trees and bushes are etched against the blue sky. Runners, bikers, walkers, swimmers all out and moving. I know that’s good for us, but so is some time to reflect, time to organize a closet, time to read and think. I would like it to rain every Monday or Tuesday just to start the week on a clean slate. After the rain the sun is lovely. It is no wonder the ancient people worshiped the sun. It’s not so special if we get too much of it. We need the life giving water, the cleansing, the sound of the rain.

Blessings, Bubbles

 

Who and Why

“We must be concerned about not merely who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.”  If Martin Luther King, Jr. was  alive today, he could say this every other week. Guns, mental illness, bad parenting, one or all of these things surely contribute to the violence in our country.  Each of us must look in mirror. We are the producers.

Divisive language, mean put downs, an inability for rational discussions, name calling, lying, blaming others, violence in the films and on television are contributors. The attitude of “it’s my right, to hell with you.” is killing our children. There is a lack of understanding of the common good. We are all part of it.

Where is respect for the other persons view point? We each must be right, totally right with no attempt to understand another side. Why are we so afraid? Why is it that everything seems to be at the extremes with no room for compromise in the middle.

Congress votes totally on party lines. My sister says before anyone goes to Washington they should be made to watch the old Jimmy Stewart movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Perhaps they would begin to get an inkling of the principles and ethics of our Constitution. Perhaps they would remember whom they are working for.

I would like to send the lot of them a back brace, since they are for the most part spineless. They need to stop with the thoughts and prayers and pass some laws that protect our children and our country.  We need to demand it.

Until then, we are the murderers.

THE HARDEST THING YOU’LL EVER DO

The Hardest thing you’ll ever do…When she was 75 years old my Aunt Alma, a real Auntie Mame type, told me that the most difficult thing I would ever do is grow old gracefully.  I instantly recognized that this was true. I wasn’t young gracefully, so to be gracefully old would be really heroic.

A young man who had just completed his PHD in counseling was working with incarcerated felons.  When questioned about how could he relate to his patients, particularly the violent ones.  He replied that it is  kind of fun to work with people who think you are an asshole.  I told him I understood completely because I raised five children. Not real graceful there either, but we all survived.

In another country, Ireland, in the same era, 1950’s, I would have been in Magdalene House, a reform type school for girls that MIGHT get into trouble. I wasn’t delinquent, my teachers, the nuns, but especially, the priests, didn’t like my attitude…what they objected to mostly  was the look on my face and my levity.  The trouble with the look on my face was and is, my utter failure of  being able to separate the expression on my face and my opinion of the person to whom I am listening. I always laughed. Not good.

I always felt like the kid at the Emperor’s New Clothes Parade. I wanted to believe people. I thought that people were good, but often body language gives them away. I had/have a hard time with the way many women erase themselves for others. I visualize them laying down like Sir Walter’s cape in the mud to show their self sacrificing value. But these women have been trained from birth to take a slap and take another, for their kids, their parents, their jobs.

And the women that put up with the Hollywood boys, Darlin’,there are other jobs where you don’t have to look at Harvey nude or watch a weirdo ruin a plant. This is not an image I want to sustain in my mind. I wish these imbeciles would have run into my late friend, Carol. We were walking in downtown Los Angeles, when a man exposed himself to us. I was speechless, but Carol looked, and without a beat, said, “Looks like a penis. Only smaller.”

Men who do and say these things, look like men. Only they are very very small.

Whew! Blessings, Bubbles

 

Why Is the Child Crying?

Years ago I read a book that asked this question. The character in the book said that if you ask this question, you will find out what is wrong with the village, the State, The Country. Our children are crying because they are afraid and lonely.

They do not feel safe at school, or walking on the streets. Too many are not safe in their own homes. Parents are too busy to listen, our President shows how to bully and name call.  Kindness is seen as weak and differences are settled on TV and in the movies and too often in life by violence.

When I was in 8th grade we had a teacher who mobilized the so called “leaders” of the class. She had us read portions of the Bible, (this was a Catholic School) we were to read, observe how Christ acted, and discuss how we could put this into action in our small lives. One action was to sit and eat with a child that seemed alone. The result was magic. The quiet, sometimes bullied child turned out to be fun and interesting. The class became close and those of us “doing a good thing” received much more in return. We came to understand that it rewarded us ten fold to get to know someone we would have ignored.

Twenty years ago, a group in this area began “Project Self-Esteem.” I was one of the teachers. Self-Esteem class didn’t teach the kids that they were better than others and could do no wrong. The idea is that every one is different and that’s O.K.  It taught the kids to respect each other and talk about differences, to actually enjoy those differences. The teachers could see the effect on the kids behavior. They were kinder to each other and there wasn’t so much dissension on the playground.

Some parents thought we were brain washing the kids. Some complained that we took time from academics. The program was scuttled. Now people see what happens when differences isolate children, when they don’t learn that we are all different in some way and that may be a good thing.

The young people who kill may be academically genius’, they are different and isolated, and often bullied. They are crying. We do not ask why.

On Language and Society

When we write, or paint we need to think sometimes of all creative people; young people, people of color, people of different gender preferences, even pale older women like me. We need to come to the point where there is no “other,” no “them” or “they.” For you know we are all really the same soul. The creative soul.

We bequeath our culture to the world, handing down family traditions, or creating our own celebrations and rituals. In TS Eliot’s “Notes Towards the Definition of Culture,” he saw the prospect of “centuries of barbarism,” related to the coming dominance of technology. A degraded society.

Eliot sees the core of the problem in the corruption of language, the basis of thought, which is in turn the basis of integrity. His target was those who use words for base purposes, for their emotional effect upon themselves, or on an audience which suffers passions, but does not think. Therefore, our own ability, not merely to express, but even to feel any but the crudest emotions will soon degenerate.

Eliot said that the poet and writer is the bastion against this abuse. Without the preservation and renovation of the language, civilization will decline. I believe this is true and that it is happening.

I am not asking for censorship, or to limit us in how to tell our story. AN EXAMPLE: I was told by a publisher not to use the word malevolent in a poem because it is too hard to pronounce. Well, I like to roll that one around, Mal ev o lent. If you read Virginia Woolf, it pays to keep a dictionary close by. Isn’t it great to find a new word tha will express exactly the thing you want to say?

As I view film and read novels, poems, etc., it seems language is being reduced to the level of recess in the 3rd grade. One syllable, four letters. Who are these writers? Where is the creativity? So when we are tempted to speak or write like they do in prisons, films, politics, or 150 Shades of Puce, I challenge all of us to remember that when language in schools, business and the home degrades, so do we all.

But, I’m told, that is real life. MAYBE. As film critic, Rex Reed said, So is diarrhea, but who wants to watch it for 3 hours?

Be careful with your words, they are powerful. Keep in mind the vision of an embracing, creative world, step up, reach out you hand to me and invite me in. I will do the same for another person, and she for another.

Together we can use language to be a truly, creative force.

Blessings, Bubbles

I Am Living

At the Amherst Writers Retreat on a Greek Island, the prompt was: I am living…this is what I continued..

I am living the dream. The dream answers Freud’s question-“What do women want?” Hey Siggy, simple, a woman wants sovereignty over her own life-you dummkoph- I know that’s not a polite Germanic term, but it’s a lot better than some English descriptions I can think of.

When a woman has control over her own life, she gives her best. In a marriage, partnership is the operative word. I have been married over 50 years to a gentle man. Never the less, I have had to train him as I matured. As in, “Yes, I know you wouldn’t do that, but big news, I am not you.” It’s a terrible shock. By now he’s getting used to it. Still a bit confused at times, but not totally bewildered.

I missed my oldest grandson’s college graduation to go to Greece and the Amherst Writing Retreat. His mother isn’t happy with me. I understand. He, the wiser, said, “Ah Bubbles, go to Greece. I would.” I’m sorry I missed his graduation, but choices are sometimes not easy. The problem is I have more past than future. I have pretty much given that past to my family and what they needed, but the future is before me as they say. Little by little I am making decisions for me. If not now, when?

I think pursuing my dreams will reverberate through my family. My grand children will see that I continue to grow and I am the sovereign of my life. I am taking the scepter a bit late, but then, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Blessings, Bubbles

Maintenance

A fine woman is like a fine car, she requires maintenance. The more classic she becomes, the more attention she needs. I get some help from the basic fixers, My internist, Dr. Knox, my dentist, Dr. Swancutt, David for my hair and Roberta, my yogi, who keeps me moving. I need some polishing from outside attendants. I am finding the basic people are becoming the most important. It won’t help if my skin in unlined and my hair is still blond, if my teeth are falling out, my knees ache and I need help chewing my food and getting down the stairs.

Right now, I don’t want to look like my daughter, I just want to get out of the car like she does. Actually, I want to do both, but I’ll settle for getting out of the car.

Blessings, Bubbles

The Short and the Long View

When our children were teens, I was on the front line of discipline. Their father was busy trying to support us and make enough money for the looming college days.

I was immediate, wild eyed and alert to problems. They called me “the Detective.” From his business office, he was looking at the long run. The strategy of the war is easier when you are not in the trenches.

When I was tired and short tempered, which was too much of the time, he would ask, “He’s sixteen. What do you want him to be at thirty?” “Out of my house.” Was usually my answer. Actually at thirty, it would have been fine to have any of them here. Someone had civilized them in the meantime.

The long run is the best view. I am happy and grateful that he had it. Isn’t that what we are to do as parents? We need to look forward to the responsible, loving adults that evolve from responsible, loving, occasionally wild-eyed parents.  I dealt with what I call “Heading Them Off at the Pass.” Gary dealt with where they would be when they got to the other side. They made it, perhaps in spite of us.

Blessings, Bubbles

Sitting in the Bleachers

Here we are on our 50th anniversary. Yes, the first 50 years are definitely the hardest. They told us as part of the ceremony on our wedding day that “the future will all of its’ joys and its’ sorrows is hidden before your eyes.” Good thing because no way could we have handled what was to come. We see the young bride and groom saying for BETTER and for worse, sickness and in HEALTH, RICHER and poorer…well you get the idea. Do we ever think those negatives will happen. If so, we’d all be single and still not avoid them.

Now that Gary and I are grand parents eleven times over, we have experienced sorrows, and hard times but so many joys. Each new life is an affirmation of love and joy. Each sorrow is something we can endure with the help of each other, family and friends. So we sit in the Grandstand and view the new generation, acknowledging the trials and the love and the joy. We pray that they will find the smoothest path that leads each of them to contentment and peace.

Blessings, Bubbles

Watching the Game

Let me tell you, there isn’t enough time in any mother’s life to loose the extra eyes that develop when your first child is born. As a child grows, all of a mothers’ senses multiply, turn on red alert. You not only watch, you can physically feel the pain when the kid at school teases, repeating the clever put downs seen on “comedy” shows on TV. Those “funny” things really meant to hurt, that turns a bubbling child mute, sucking the enthusiasm from her soul.

A child will cry out in the First Grade, “I can sing. I can dance. Yes, I can do that.” The same child becomes one who is afraid to even try for fear of peer ridicule. Ask, “Who can sing? Who can dance?” again in the fifth grade and instead of many hands waving , there may be one or two brave ones who face the disdain of their classmates.

A mothers’ hearing becomes highly acute with the first teeth click you hear from your child’s precious rosebud  lips. This, accompanied with rolling of the eyes, will begin to burn your soul. As they grow in wisdom and age, if not in grace, the look directed at you like a cold laser when you try to protect them from unchaperoned parties, hotels with drugs and alcohol on prom night and feckless friends with no curfew, shrinks your heart a little smaller.

When they lie about where they are going and tell their friends what a witch, no make that bitch, their mother is, an angina pain constricting your chest and choking your breath off nearly floors you. The Bible story of Mary’s reaction when her twelve year old son was lost for three days resonates through time. Christ was found preaching in the temple, apparently with not a thought to his parents anguish. This God-child figuratively tells His parents to mind their own business. The next line is, “…and Mary kept these things in her heart.” I will attest to you that there is very little room left for storage in a mother’s heart by the time a child reaches eighteen.

But still we watch. We watch as they are hurt, knowing that we cannot protect them from the world and its’ influences. This is the part that sears your heart. To be a good parent you must let them hurt and suffer and take the consequences of their own actions, and you experience every hurt and every suffering.

In their  twenties, your children, they are still your children, begin to catalog all the grievous wrongs of their upbringing.  They begin to treat you as if you are already a bit senile. They laugh over your head at inside jokes, thinking you don’t notice. You sit and listen, knowing that their lessons will be learned, some the hard way, but you still want to protect them.

You wish you could do it all again, make the corrections they would like. But mostly, you long for one more clamoring dinner with the faces of your vanished children around the table.

Then, like a miracle, they begin to bring home your grandchildren, and hope is carried in the door wrapped in a flannel blanket. Delight toddles around the living room. Your heart swells, restored. You see your children become loving parents and you remember joy and why you had children in the first place.

Blessings, Bubbles