Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Confronting my own hypocrisy

I was deeply disappointed in the members of my County Bar Association yesterday.  Yesterday was our monthly meeting and the speaker was one of the Justices from our state Supreme Court.  When the Justice was introduced and walked to the podium I stood while I applauded.  I was the only one.  Others at my table ribbed me: "Do you have something pending in the Supreme Court??  Ha! Ha!"  Well as a matter of fact, yes, I do.  But that is not surprising since I handle appeals.  I pretty much always have a case or two pending in the Supreme Court (actually usually the Court of Appeals).  But that is not why I stood.  I stood out of respect for the office held by the man.

Since I do handle appeals, I can promise you that there have been many occasions on which I was not happy with the opinions out of the Supreme Court.  And I might have opinions, that I will not share, about particular Justices.  But that is not the point.  The point is that the man was one of the handful of the highest jurists in our state judicial system and as such, he was deserving of respect regardless of how I might feel about him as a Justice or about the decisions that come out of the court.

I was ranting about this today to a partner of mine when I suddenly remembered the occasion many years ago when a certain President of the United States visited the little town of Enid.  (We have an Air Force base here).  The President walked, with his entourage, around the little square of our downtown.  Being the senior-ranking person at my office at the time, I authorized shutting down the office long enough for everyone to walk over to the square to see the President.  But... I stood in the crowd of onlookers and when the President walked by I thrust out my fist with my thumb extended and pointing to the ground.  What a stupid, childish and disrespectful gesture on my part.  Even if I could not respect the man, I should have respected the office. 

So, Mr. President (do you still call them that when they are no longer in office?) I humbly apologize. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Little Mary Sunshine

I find watching myself age to be fascinating
New lines seem to appear on my face every day
And there is something indefinable there that reflects age

I try to remind myself of how, when I was young
I often admired the lovely beauty in the faces of older women
I didn't even see their wrinkles
Or if I did, they didn't detract from their beauty

But I look back in the mirror at my own face
And see only tired lines and flaws and drooping flesh.

But I do like the precious metal that is multiplying in my hair!
The streaks of gleaming silver against the dull brown.
But then the voice in my head that I call "Little Mary Sunshine"
Says: "You know they are that color because the hair follicle is dead.
Dead.  Dead.  Dead.  All of you is dying, a little at a time.
You'll never be young again!  You had one chance at life.
And you screwed it up!"

Then I say: "Shut up, bitch."
And I walk away from the mirror.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Social Networking

A lonely, quiet soul finds the Internet
and suddenly her world is THE World!
There are friends everywhere!
Everyone is lovely and loving and kind and wonderful!
She romps through the Internet like a puppy in the snow!

Then someone throws a rock.
The puppy yelps and cries: "what did I do?"
Then someone else throws a rock.
The puppy cowers and backs away...
looking about fearfully.

Then another rock flies through the air, and another
until the puppy simply runs away.
Just the lonely soul is there again
And her world is small again.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"The Oklahoma Family Farm" Project

So... lately here I've been trying to think of things to do to get myself out of the deep blue funk that has been getting deeper and bluer for some time now. 

One idea is to see if I can get a TNR program started in Enid.  TNR stands for "trap, neuter and return (or release ~ I've heard it both ways)."  We have a fairly large feral cat population in our little downtown.  I'm not sure how to go about starting up such a program.  I guess talking to the local S.P.C.A., our only no-kill shelter might be a starting point.

Another idea was to get together with a pianist friend and work up some pieces to perform at the "Cabaret Night" at our local community theatre.  But I'm kind of chickening out on that one because even though the pianist friend kindly agreed, she did admit that she gets asked all the time.  And I don't want to take advantage of her.  And secondly she told me that the songs I had in mind (maybe some Janis Ian or Carly Simon) were not like anything that had been done for past Cabaret Nights.  Well that comment gave me visions of certain folks laughing behind their hands that I was trying to change Cabaret Night into Karaoke Night.  I'm feeling too fragile to expose myself to ridicule that way.

The last idea is "The Oklahoma Family Farm" project.  I'd like to travel around the state and take photos of some of the beautiful old falling down farmhouses that litter our countryside.  I mentioned this idea to Phill and even he is enthusiastic ~ he took the camera with him over to Stillwater today so that he could take pictures of a couple that he had in mind that he thought I might want to go back and photograph.  But who am I kidding?  I'm no photographer.  Hell, I can't even hold the camera steady half the time when I'm trying to take a picture.  I'll take ten pictures of a subject and maybe get one that is decent.  Plus, these houses are scattered everywhere across the state.  It would be hours of driving.  And if I were going to do it right, I might want to try to get some at a sunset or a sunrise or just before or after a thunderstorm.  But I can see these photos in my mind.  There are a handful of houses I already know I want to photograph.  I've seen them many times on commutes I've had to make to work or school.  And they are falling down.  One day they won't be there any more at all.  So someone should photograph them.  Why not me?

I need to do something. 

"Thanks Alot"

I don't
know if
you've heard...

BUT

"alot"
is not
a word.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dear Grandchildren, Why I will not be getting you all cars...

In the first place, there are nine of you.  I can't afford to buy nine cars.  Even taking into consideration that I would have quite a few years to save up for those last two.

Secondly, to the best of our recollection, your grandpa and I bought five cars between the two of them for your mothers when they were teenagers.  So it's their turn to buy yours.

Better yet!  Buy your own!  I bought my own first car.  Granted, it was a piece of crap and fell apart pretty quickly.  But I still bought it with my own, hard-earned money.  (And minimum wage was a lot less then).  And please don't tell me that you can't get a job without a car.  Last time I checked there were 18 legs between you and they all work!  Well maybe baby Alex's aren't good for walking yet, but give him time.

Yes, I know, oldest grandson, that I impulsively promised to give you my Nissan Altima when you turned 16 (which you did last year).  But fortunately I was saved from having to keep that promise by having that car totaled by a hit and run driver who smacked into me and your grandpa at 75 mph on the turnpike and caused us to roll the car.  I'm very sorry.  More sorry about my car being totaled, me and grandpa having the crap scared out of us and some physical discomfort and having to buy a new car (that I will not have fully paid for until you are 21) and take on the new car payment.  But sorry too that I couldn't keep my promise.

Sorry too that I didn't let you drive that new car that won't be paid for until you are 21 years old for your driver's test.  Fortunately you have an aunt who is a much nicer person than I am, who drove over from Tulsa (twice) even though she was sick, to let you drive her car.  Although why you couldn't have driven your mom's car, I still don't understand.

I am reminded of a joke I heard a comedian tell on the comedy channel yesterday:  "So my 15 year old son walks up to me while I'm in my recliner and says: 'I think I'm old enough to buy my own clothes.'  I said: 'I do too!'  We stared at each other for a full minute before he said: 'Well??'  And I said: 'Well??'  And he said: 'I'm going to need some money!'  I said: 'Ohhhhh!  I misunderstood you!  I thought you wanted to buy your own clothes!  Not pick them out!"

I LOL'd.

Friday, January 14, 2011

"I'm all right. Don't Nobody Worry 'Bout Me."

Title courtesy of Kenny Loggins.

Back in the Fall of 1983 I married a guy named Sam.  We had met at college and dated for a year.  Sam was a year older than I was and was a brilliant guy and very cute.  He was so smart that he was the kind who made straight A's even though he partied all night long and passed out on his buddy's couch.  Sam was working on his masters degree when we got married.

Unfortunately, Sam never stopped partying.  He became an alcoholic and a drug abuser and he was an abusive husband.  He never hit me until after we were married.  But that first punch blackened both my eyes and shattered my old-style hard contact lens in my eye.  I had to go to the hospital to have the fragments removed, which was difficult since my eye was rapidly swelling shut.  Sam cried and begged forgiveness.  And I forgave him.  I have a tiny scar under my right eye as a remembrance of that incident.

Over the course of the two year marriage, he choked me several times, hit me in the head with a guitar, causing another black eye and an interesting bump on my temple that never went away, broke all my drinking glasses and the china plates from the set mom had given me (only those I had unpacked, thank goodness), chased me around the house with a hammer, and pointed a loaded shotgun at me.  It was the night he chased me with the hammer that he broke all my dishes.  I had run out of the house and taken "his" truck, our only vehicle, to a nearby gas station where I parked it and sat and cried for a while, waiting for him to calm down.  While I was gone, he broke my dishes to punish me for taking the truck.  He told me he broke one every ten minutes in the kitchen sink to teach me a lesson.  (I guess the lesson was "stay here when I'm chasing you with a hammer?").  The day he pointed the loaded shotgun at me was the day I left him.

I was a poor college student.  That is not a cliche... I  was poor.  I had no money for a lawyer.  So I went to the attorney who volunteered at the campus to give legal advice to students and asked what to do.  He told me where the law form books were in the college library.  I found the forms for a Petition for Divorce and a Waiver for Sam to sign to not contest it.  I typed them up on my old cast-iron Royal type-writer and filed them and paid the filing fee of $74.  I don't remember where I got the money to do that; I certainly didn't have that kind of cash on hand.

During the course of that brief unhappy marriage, I tried an experiment one night when Sam came home stinking drunk again.  (He came home stinking drunk many, many times and I cleaned up his vomit and put him to bed).  This one time, I spoke to him in a soft and soothing voice and lo and behold!  There was no fight!  He stayed calm.  I didn't get hit.  So, clearly, the experiment showed that the abuse was my fault.  Sort of anyway.  If I could be a different person, meek, subservient, soft-spoken, then maybe he would not be abusive. 

But there was nothing wrong with the person that I was.  I was not a fishwife.  But I was, and am, a strong, opinionated, outspoken person.  I was not going to change for Sam and shouldn't have had to.

A year ago or so I got onto Facebook.  I really enjoy it.  I really enjoy the friendships I've made there and reading about the lives and thoughts and feelings of my friends.  And I really enjoy writing about my life and thoughts and feelings.  Some people don't like how I write on Facebook.  Some seem to think I share too much of my life.  Some, I suspect, think I am insincere or a hypocrite.  Some clearly think (and one has told me) that I am a "drama queen" and that they "hate" drama queens and that I need to "take a valium."  Some have unfriended me.  At least two have blocked me.

Those things hurt.  Kinda of like getting punched in the face or choked hurt, little different, but similar.  And just as was the case with Sam, it's pretty obvious that it is my fault.  If I changed who I am and how I interact on Facebook, then people like those I mention who have been nasty to me, probably wouldn't have metaphorically "hit" me.

But there is nothing wrong with me.  I am a good person, who tries to be a loving, caring and supportive friend.  I am not going to change for those people any more than I would for Sam. 

One person who has a problem with me on Facebook made a point of sending me in an email one of the posts I had made on my profile, accompanied by her critque of: "gag me."  This seemed particularly cruel.  Kind of like the dishes breaking thing.  And by doing so she clearly showed that even though she had already unfriended me either she was still reading the posts on my page or some other "friend" had sent it to her.

I mentioned to a real friend my concern about whether I had "friends" who were just masquerading as my friends so that they could make fun of or be spiteful about my posts.  Indeed, I suggested there might be a secret, "People Who Hate Julia" group on Facebook.  (Which idea kind of tickles me because it would feed into my narcissitic personality). 

My real friend pointed out that my security setting on my page were such that "friends of friends" or possibly "everyone" could see my page.  Well when she sent me that message I resolved to fix that just as soon as I got home.  But wait... sometimes a friend of a friend follows a friend over to my page and comments on a photo or a post and sometimes I strike up a new friendship with a new and interesting person when that happens!  Why just the other morning I saw that a friend of a friend had posted on my photo of my window treatments, inquiring where I had gotten them.  And I was happy to be able to give her the link to the website of the manufacturer.  If I changed my security settings to protect myself from mean and petty people then I would deny myself those little pleasures.  So, once again, I'm not changing.  There is nothing wrong with my letting anyone and everyone see my page.  There is only something wrong with the people who are mean and petty.

So perhaps the title of this entry should have been: "I wont go changing, to try to please you."  As an angst filled teen I wrote the poem:

I am who I am
And I don't give a damn
If you can't understand
Who I am or give a damn.

It's not true though.  I do give a damn.  It hurts and makes me sad when people don't like me.  Nonetheless, I think I'm all right so don't nobody worry 'bout me.