Monday, December 17, 2012
So now come the requisite "special reports" by the networks, and the required visit of consolation my the President (his fourth in his presidency), the calls for prayers, the vigils, the tears, the one liners on Facebook, the finger pointing, the...on and on and on. And in the end, at least up to this point, nothing changes. We move on, we forget, we tire of the pain and tears, we want to celebrate Christmas with a clear conscience. So life goes on. And this horrific tragedy that is now our American life gets relegated to two words--Sandy Hook. It reminds me of how we refer to hurricanes. Remember Hugo, Katrina, Irene, Sandy, Camille? You may not remember the devastation they wrought if you didn't live there, so all you remember after a while is the name. Just like Columbine. We can't change the weather. We haven't learned to tame hurricanes, we can only prepare better for them. Will we learn anything from the memories of 26 people? Will we change anything? Time will tell. I'm betting I'll be writing another post in the not-too-distant-future about another mass shooting.
It's the guns, people. The guns.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Thursday, June 7, 2012
But it didn't end. And the moving on didn't end either. And we never saw the Stone Avenue kids again. I don't recall any of us acknowledging it, but I know we all carried a deep and lasting pain of missing our friends, and our way of life there. And later we would all acknowledge that we always wondered "Did we mean as much to them as they meant to us? Did we MATTER?"
Through the "miracle" of Facebook, we began to reconnect with old names, old friends. We "friended" some of our old buddies, but it felt superficial, a bit contrived. I never found my best friend, Peggy, online and no one seemed to know where she was, other than "California". But then, after much networking by my tenacious sister, Kerry, it all came together.
This year, on the weekend of the LaGrange Pet Parade, most of us reunited. And the last to arrive was Peggy. She didn't know me at first (because she had no expectation that I would be there), but when she realized who I was, she looked stunned, amazed, and very moved. We embraced warmly and she exclaimed proudly "You were my BEST friend." I replied, "You were my best friend!"
Thursday, February 16, 2012
And then I waited with nervous anticipation. Man against the elements. I live for this stuff!!
Truth is we did have two snows, one being about 6 inches. My luck? I was out of town for it and it was virtually gone by the end of a long weekend away. The other snow was just enough for me fire up the snowblower and discover how hard it is to run a straight line when you can't see the driveway lines! I spent the next 40 minutes making it all look like I knew what I was doing. I looked forward to the next snow where I could show my power machine prowess. But alas, it was not to be.
None of us knows, of course, if this is a sign of things to come. I suspect it is. I fear we will all be blindsided by climate events we never anticipated because everyone has been telling us that this change is years away. When they tell you the ocean waters are rising an inch every 5-10 years, you don't exactly lose sleep, ya know? But I don't think anyone anticipated tornadoes in New Hampshire or frigid cold in Europe or floods and droughts in the same year. The lake levels are falling in the Northwoods. Animals aren't migrating anymore. For years we feared that we would kill our planet with nuclear bombs. One big terrible apocalyptic rage that would leave the earth scourged and dead.
It could still happen, no doubt. But it might also be that man will not lose the battle against man, but against Nature. Perhaps she will have the last laugh. Nature always reclaims what is hers. And someday she will tell us it's time to pay.
Monday, February 6, 2012
I know they are a long way from being "real art", but they tell me that I have an ability to transform something I see into something pleasing on paper. But mostly, I am learning to see things differently, to identify values, shading, composition, and proportion. How cool is that? Woof!!
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Yes, we can all argue that we know what Mitt really meant--he really meant that he wants to return the American middle class to its place of prominance in our society, the bedrock on which American productivity and manufacturing are built, the quintessential American dream. But that's not what he said. He said--he emphasized--I am not concerned about the very poor.
If he isn't concerned about them now, when are they deserving of his concern? What does a poor person have to do to garner attention from the would-be President? Does one have to fight and claw and become a part of the shrinking middle class in order to be a blip on his radar?
A government of the people, by the people, for the people. Do we really need to add "ALL of the people"?
Monday, January 30, 2012
It made me think about how I used to color. Most kids either press hard and get bright colors between the lines, or scribble indiscriminately in the general vicinity of the space they're trying to color. But not me. I was not one of those kids. I was the kid who meticulously placed a hard, dark outline around the area to be colored, and then finished with a perfectly light shade of pastel inside the lines. It was all so perfect, so nearly invisible, so understated. So timid.
I realize that I have been living much of my life this way. I was shy and quiet in grade school (earning the end of the year, tongue in cheek award of "biggest talker"), shy and reserved in social situations in college, and as an adult, always willing to go along with whatever my best friend or partner wanted to do. The only time I have felt authentically me is when I have been in the woods or on my bike, or outside somewhere in nature. That is the only time I feel completely free, willing to grab life and embrace it fully.
Today, while I was working on shading one of my still lifes in art class, I took the charcoal pencil and made a bold stroke to show shade. The effect was quite dramatic! Not only did the picture look more realistic, but I felt more confident, more alive, more like an artist. It wasn't exactly transformative, but it felt like the beginning of something.
So think about how you're living your life. Are you a spectator? Someone who makes commentary but never fully commits to the act of living? Timid, fearful, looking for a contented life versus a full life? Or are you one of those who lives by the command Carpe Diem? Perhaps it is recognizing that there are fewer days ahead than there are behind me that has caused me to stop and assess. Maybe I'm just finally recognizing that there is no negative consequence to being true to myself. I for one am grateful to the impatient art instructor who made such an astute, albeit blunt, observation. Here's to the end of timidity!Here's to a life fully lived!
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Such was a conversation I had a few years back with my oldest, best friend from high school, Pat Walters. She had moved to Alabama, then Georgia. I had moved all over the Chicagoland area. Somehow we found each other again, and exchanged several letters and one phone call. She still had her joyful country twang and told me all about her new life and her daughter. I remember being so excited and nervous talking to her after all the years, that I think I didn't express sufficient happiness for her life, especially her daughter. It all registered later, after I had time to digest what had just happened. We ended the call with promises to speak again, for me to take a road trip to Alabama to see her and her parents. It all sounded so good, so possible. It sounded as promising as every dream we ever expressed to each other when we were 16 and our whole lives stood ahead of us.
Of course, you know what happened--years slipped by, as they are wont to do, when left unattended. We didn't write or call or stay in touch. And then Facebook came along and I found her again. Her profile picture showed her much as I remembered her, but her daughter was older, quickly leaving toddlerhood. I sent her a "friend request", which seemed an odd thing to have to do, but did it nonetheless. And then I waited. And waited. She didn't accept it and didn't respond. I began to wonder if I had somehow offended her in our phone call. Did I say or do something wrong? I waited several months, and finally withdrew the request. I felt sad, hurt, maybe even a little angry at the apparent rejection. And then one day, I decided to look on FB again and couldn't find her listed. I assumed she was never very active, and had cancelled her account, as some will do.
Months passed. My life went into a huge upheaval that claimed all of my waking hours attention for months. When things finally settled down, I started looking for her again, with no luck. And then finally, recently, I stumbled upon a blog post that had her married name in it: Pat Walters McCuiston. And there it was--the words I couldn't even imagine being associated with her name. She had died. She had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and died 5 weeks after her diagnosis. The following picture was attached to the post:
I cannot express adequately in words how deeply I grieve the loss of my friend. She was the epitome of hope and joy and she housed so many of my hopes and dreams for so many special years. To imagine that we will never sit on a porch somewhere on a warm Alabama summer day and reminisce about our youth is inconceivable to me. It was always going to be that way. We were always going to be there for each other even if we didn't talk for years. And yet, in the end, I feel I failed her. I was not there for her and I cannot undo that. How do you say good-bye to someone who is already gone? What do you do with all the memories shared, the secrets never told, the private moments known only by two?
"Time it was and what a time it was. It was a time of innocence, a time of confidences. Long ago it must be, I have a photograph. Preserve your memories. They're all that's left you."
Monday, January 23, 2012
I went to be with them because we had a chance to all be together, but I also went there because I needed a reminder that I am loved and valued by others. And they did that. They always do. I had started to doubt recently that I was of much value to the person I had allowed to be close to me, after she had started to take me for granted. It is a sad thing to open your heart to someone else, only to find that you are nothing so special to that person after all.
So it was off to North Carolina for some cold beer and some healing. It amazes me still that we Joyner girls can see each other only a few times a year and pick up conversations as if we had just gotten interrupted a moment before. That is the mark of true friends.