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I Can Take a Hint–When It’s Applied with a Sledgehammer

It’s funny how you make up your mind to do something, get sidetracked, and then put it aside until years–or decades–later.  Recently, a life-changing decision I had made early in my adult life, then shelved, has come back to the forefront;  this time I am determined to see it through.  The Good Lord has made it clear that it is high time I follow through and join the Catholic Church.

I’m not posting this to seek acceptance or debate/debunk any tenet of any religion with anyone.  My announcement is probably going to shock people who thought they knew me well because this is something I, like Mary, kept and pondered in my heart.  This is my own personal journey, and I know in my heart of hearts it is the right and proper thing to do for me and my relationship with God.  I’m just here, as with every other (albeit too-rare) blog post, to tell my Tale.  I don’t tell y’all when I have issues with your own churches (if I do); please respect my decision.  If you can’t abide it, just ignore this post.

If you’re still here, either you’re interested to know what motivated me after more decades (and I don’t mean the rosary kind) than I care to admit, or you have a near-morbid case of boredom.  In any event, here’s my story.  As a child, I was raised in the United Methodist church.  I liked going to church–that is, I liked the services.  All the kids my age went to school with me and we couldn’t stand each other, so that was a minus.  But I digress.  As I grew up and became more spiritually aware, I realized that the shift the Methodist church had taken in the 70’s was so unBiblical that I could no longer abide going there.  Of particular affront to me was the appointing of women not only to the pastorate, but to be bishops as well–a direct rejection of Scripture.  Just before I entered the Air Force, I told my parents I wanted to join the Catholic Church–a decision they supported. (There is a branch of my family who is Catholic; I even have an uncle who recently retired as a Monsignor).

Before I could enter RCIA (Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults–the “101” class, as it were) though, I met the man I would eventually marry.  By the time he was a teenager, he had rejected the Catholic upbringing of his childhood, and he sternly forbade me to pursue my interest in Catholicism.  We never could agree on a church; it was one of many bones of contention throughout the 24 interminable years of that failed marriage.

Fast forward to March of this year.  I met and began dating the most amazing man.  Butch calls himself  a “sweet, innocent Catholic boy.”  Half is Gospel truth, half is with tongue firmly in cheek.  You decide which is which.  His faith gave me reason to reassess my own.  It wasn’t until last week, though, that I was prodded to finally quit dilly-dallying and act.

You see, Butch became ill.  As in, too sick to do anything.  He needed medical care, stat, and it was the one thing he wasn’t getting due to the morass of his health care system.  You see, it just wasn’t convenient for his doctor to see him, and the system wouldn’t let him seek other options.  Bastages.  So Butch got sicker.  I was doing everything I could for him, but the one thing that really gets to me is to see people I care about suffering.  At work one day, I went to lunch and received a text that told me just how much Butch was suffering.  I was in tears of frustration at his suffering, my inability to help, and the indifference of his doctor.  With no other action left, I began to pray.  Thinking of Butch’s faith, I prayed the Rosary, which I had learned all those years ago.  I got halfway through when my lunch break ended and I had to return to my desk.

When I got back, there was an email from Butch awaiting.  His doctor had found an opening for him that afternoon!  I took it as a sign that this is what God wanted me to do.  I mentioned it to the lady who occupies the other half of my office and who is also Catholic.  She was surprised to hear my story, she though I was Catholic all along!  Still, she informed me that her parish church (near where I work) announced that RCIA classes would be starting soon.  I’ve got her looking into class times there; I also spoke with the parish near my home.  Depending on several factors, I’ll be attending one of them.

This time, nothing (and no one) is getting in my way.  The Lord is merciful and infinite in patience.  For that, I am thankful.

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Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot

In yesterday’s news was yet another arrest of a teacher for sexual misconduct with a student.  This time, it was the sponsor of the DECA program in a section of Austin known for its affluence and athletics.  Quite frankly, I really don’t care that the student was 18 and technically an adult.  Neither does the state, because until the boy (and I DO mean boy) graduates, it’s still a 2nd degree felony, regardless of age.  If this tryst had happened only 3 1/2 weeks later, after graduation, there’d be no story.  It still would have been reprehensible, but not illegal.

I make no secret of the fact that I used to teach.  I also make no secret that a 6-figure salary wouldn’t get me back in a classroom.  Asinine demands of the academics in the ivory towers and hamstrings from having to teach test-taking instead of rational thought have driven out many of the best and brightest from the teaching profession.  I personally know scores of dedicated, brilliant teachers who want permanent jobs, but can’t get work because of petty politics.

But scumbags like Christina McCann get in and stay in long enough to damage not only individual lives but whole communities.  It is a failure of society as a whole and this entire “end justifies the means” mentality.

When I was very young, I watched my dad hard at work in the little house that used to stand outside gate 2 at Sanford Stadium.  It was Dad’s job during the 2nd half of University of Georgia football games to count the money collected at the ticket windows, secure it, and take it under police escort to the Athletic Department before the game ended and traffic choked for the next several hours.

Ticket sales at that time were a cash-only operation, and the large table in that tiny room was literally covered in tills that overflowed with greenbacks.  Dad quickly but methodically sorted the bills, counted them, and bound them in the appropriate sleeve, and put them in the cloth moneybags provided by the bank.

My little eyes, not even in the double-digits when it came to age, widened in fascination at the sight of more cash than I had ever before seen, and rarely seen since.  In my youthful ignorance, I asked my dad what seemed to me to be a reasonable question.  “Daddy, are you ever tempted by all this money?”

My father stopped counting, put down the stack of bills he was working on, looked me straight in the eye, and said lovingly but very firmly, “The day I’m tempted will be the day I quit.”

When Dad did quit a quarter of a century later, it was the lure of his grandchildren, not money, that pulled him away.

Too bad for the entire teaching profession that Christina McCann and her ilk never got that kind of schooling.

Terra Incognita

For the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, I’m dating again.  I myself cannot believe I’m saying it.  When my marriage ended, I thought for sure it’d be years before I’d even consider letting a man in my life.  The last thing I wanted to do was to give up any of the sweet freedom I had desired, coveted, dreamed of for so long.

Then I met this incredible person.  I really wasn’t looking.  I was bored and web surfing one night when I found him.  We got to talking.  We chatted some more.  And more.  And even more.  We then decided to meet.  I chose the place.  I chose badly.  Once upon a time it had been casual dining, but it had just undergone a major overhaul and become trendy.  A little too foo-foo for a down-to-earth kind of guy.  Still, the chemistry transcended my unfortunate choice of dining establishments.

After years of being put down and trampled upon, this gentleman lifts me up.  Instead of making me feel like dung, he makes me feel like a queen.  He thinks he’s difficult to be close to–he has no idea what I had to put up with for the past half of my life.   Well, that’s not entirely true.  He’s seen me when ugly scenes in movies hit a little too close to home and bring up awful memories. He’s held me as he gently coaxed a cathartic purging of all the pain, doubt, and defeat I hid inside for so long.  That’s the beauty of this guy.  He is the one person in my life around whom I don’t have to be strong, tough, or “one of the guys.”  I adore him for that.

He’s generous beyond measure and sweet.  He can tell me when he needs his space without being petty and condescending.  The last person I lived with couldn’t tell me to pass the salt without being petty and condescending.  As for me, I’m learning how to be close to someone who isn’t needy.  It is a learning process.  He is understanding and encouraging, though, and in the process of teaching me how to enter the life of a self-styled “feral,” he is making me a better person.

My mom and dad have met him and don’t give me grief, so I take that as a good sign.  The kids haven’t met him yet, but that is more because of inability to coordinate hectic schedules than anything else.  It is interesting how the kids react, though.  Joe has already accepted him.  They’ve heard each other via the speakerphone in my car.  Joe was won the minute he found out about the motorcycle that bears a word that is a recurring theme in his favorite theatrical song–the one he’s always longed to perform.  He was also grateful for the assistance and support in starting Joe’s new passion:  a bass guitar.  Tina is quietly happy for me, but in truth I think she is much too busy with her own life to think too terribly much about mine.

Alex, though, is reserved because he hasn’t met this new man in my life.  He is Rottweiler-protective.  I can’t really say I blame him.  He and I have spent his entire life protecting each other.  When I had no one else’s shoulder to cry on about the bad times over the years, I cried on his.  He cried on mine in the days before he towered over me.  We have always been each other’s lifeline and old habits die hard.  He’s still gotta protect his momma.  I love him for that.  It is a gift money can only cheapen and tarnish.

Where will this go?  Who knows.  I dare not even label it for fear of going too far too fast.  I am content to take it one day at a time; sometimes, only one phone call or email at a time.  I do know, though, that hearing from him always makes me smile.  His touch sends me into the stratosphere.  And when I’m with him–whether on the phone, emailing/chatting back and forth, or actually in each other’s presence, there’s no place I’d rather be.  And it’s a wonderful feeling indeed.

I’m B-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-CK!!!

I cannot apologize enough, Sports Fans, for my prolonged absence.  I just looked at my last post–over 8 months ago.  For a self-styled writer, that is unforgivable.  Some of my self-imposed exile was deliberate, some just life getting in the way.  Still, I feel both of my regular readers (OK, all three) deserve an explanation.  Notice I said “explanation.”  There is no excuse.

The deliberate part of my silence was because I was going through a divorce.  Don’t tell me you’re sorry.  I’m not.  It’s the best thing I’ve done in a long time.  It’s not that I didn’t try to make my marriage work; I busted my ass and bent over backwards for 24 years trying to make it work.  I sacrificed everything, including a great deal of my soul.  I had my reasons for staying with the ex long after I knew the marriage had become a sham.  When I finally said “enough is enough,” I came to find out I had almost waited too long to end it.  While the divorce was pending, I decided it was best not to air anything in public.  “Anything you say can and will be used against you…, etc.”

Then when it was all over, I was just freakin’ busy.  Work had accelerated to a breakneck pace.  Mom had a cancer scare.  My son spent two weeks in the UK, having the time of his life and falling in love with the city of London.  Although I wasn’t really looking, I met someone wonderful, and am still trying to figure out where that will go.  My mom and dad moved in, my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter got their own place, and my good friends Instinct and Intuition moved in for a little while they get settled in nice, sane Redlandia.

That’s the Reader’s Digest version of the last 8 months.  I’m off now to help unload I-squared’s truck and hopefully eke out a few hours with someone special.  I promise not to be gone so long again.

It’s Amazing…

…the lengths I’ll take just to tick someone off!

This one’s for you, Mark!  😀

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

All I have to say is:  YGTBSM

America: the view from the Outside

There was a well-hidden article on cnn.com today that, IMHO, is not getting the attention it deserves.  It’s good to get a look at America from the outside every once in a while, and to learn that stereotypes work both ways is an eye-opening thing indeed.  For those who are too engrossed by my erudite opining to click upon the link, the summary is that African immigrants to the US and African-Americans seem to have little in common.  Their perceptions of each other are tainted by stereotypes proliferated by the media and Hollywood.

Even more fascinating to me than the mention of my high school is the revelation that African immigrants said that they identify more with the mores of middle class America than the individuals who have been in this nation for generations, yet claim sub-Saharan Africa as their “homeland.”  Most striking of all was the admonition of Nigerian emigré Vera Ezimora, 24.  Ezimora, on the subject of slavery and racism in America gave the following sage advice:

“We have all been tortured.  Now that we are free, holding on to the sins of white men who have long died and gone to meet their maker is more torture than anything we have suffered.”

It seems to me that she is saying that to hold on to the outrage from the enslavement of one’s ancestors (who were all dead before most people living today were even born) merely perpetuates that enslavement by trapping a large segment of the population in a cycle of hate that gets passed from generation to generation because we don’t look beyond it to what can be if we keep our focus on the inside of a person rather than the outside.

I was fortunate enough to be exposed to all kinds of people from before I can remember.  The town I grew up in was the home of the major university in the state.  The property catty-cornered to ours belonged to a Filipino family (the head of which was also our family doctor) and that to our rear belonged to a black family who had held onto it for a hundred years before suburbia encroached (it had been a gift from the plantation owner who had held all that acreage where our little white-collar subdivision now stands).  One thing my dad is proudest of was the fact that his mother was so far ahead of her time when it came to equal opportunity.  In 1930’s Moultrie, GA, my grandmother, Mattie Lou Hall, ran the kitchens for the Moultrie schools.  She was the one person in town (according to my father) for whom the black denizens wanted to work most.  Their reasons were two-fold:  one, she offered jobs that allowed weekends off and two, she treated everyone equally.

I had the pleasure last night of meeting a middle-aged African-American woman who is the wife of a soon-to-be-retired Marine (as soon as he gets back from Iraq).  Like me, she is in a mixed-race marriage and we shared stories of our experiences in seeing the prejudices committed by our own “kind” toward those we love.  I related my tale of how, when Hubby was teaching Spanish in a tiny rural district that was fairly balanced among whites, blacks, and Hispanics, he had been accused in a 2- to 3-week period of discrimination against all three groups.  My response was to tell him “Congratulations:  you’re now an equal-opportunity racist!”

Her tale revolved around a young black Marine who had made allegations against her husband of bias against his race.  In truth the issue was that the younger Marine was unwilling to perform his duty.  Over her husband’s protests that the proceedings were closed to the public, my new acquaintance received special permission to attend the hearing.  When her husband’s name was called, she stood up with him.  When the judge told her that these were closed-door proceedings and she would have to leave, this brave lady respectfully but firmly stated from whom she had received permission to attend and that she was going to stand by her husband no matter what.  At the revelation that the Marine accused of racism had a spouse of the same race as the accuser, the allegations withered as fast as the confident faces of the accuser–and his counsel.

Semper Fi, sister.


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