Swinging? Like On A Star?

Ok, at last check there have been over 19,000 hits on this little blog o’ mine, and I am beyond amazed that there are more than three people following me on a regular basis (well, seven if you include all the kids..um…eight counting my sister…ok, my sister-in-law and parents-in-law – that’s eleven).  I feel a responsibility to you – to be as honest as I can be and with any luck, be occasionally interesting.  If something tickles your inspirational fancy – all the better – it makes my day.

But there’s something going on in the media which is so blatantly flawed and untrue I feel it only right that I try to set the record straight – at least among my friends. You’re welcome to share this with whomever you choose, or just keep it entre nous – your call.

Every news channel, newspaper, e-magazine, etc is referring to Virginia and Florida as “swing states”.  Friends, I’ve lived in Virginia for twenty odd years now.  There is nothing ‘swinging’ about Virginia.  Nothing.  Nada.  Nil. If anything, we would take umbrage at the intimation.  Forget that whole ad campaign “Virginia Is For Lovers” – we’re as much for love as any other state (except Hawaii which is all about love).   We  have a lot of Civil War battlefields, Jefferson’s home (ok, there may have been some swinging going on there, but who’s here who can provide any specifics on that?), a couple of good amusement parks and some great wineries.  Arguably one could go zip-lining in the Shenandoah and you might swing a little if you choose to do that.  We have big malls, strip shopping centers, a lot of geese (who by the way are monogamous), farms and some gently rolling hills.  The swings in our playgrounds don’t even go very high (or low).   I have some friends who have experimented with ‘swinging both ways’ – but none of them live in Virginia.  They’re in DC and Maryland.  We don’t even do much swing dancing here.  Most of us don’t know how to do it (although my in-laws are quite good at this).

And Florida – really?  Have any of you been to Florida lately?  Of course not, it’s the summer – who goes to Florida in the summer?  And those people who live in Florida through the summer aren’t allowed out of their houses, for they’ll keel over from the heat if they venture forth.  Yes, DisneyWorld is there – and when I visited with the boys twenty-five years ago, some of the rides did swing a bit.  Save for that and the disruptions of hurricane-force winds, there is nothing moving in Florida, let alone swinging.  Wait, I’m wrong – golf clubs – yes, there are golf clubs swinging in Florida.  Is that what we’re talking about here?  And if so, what the heck does that have to do with any reportage about the election?  Does either candidate want to golf?  No one’s asked me, but I wouldn’t think now is a good time.

Sigh…this is but one of the many reasons why I’m a political neophyte.  If I think the terminology is strange and incredibly inaccurate, you can only begin to imagine what I think of the theatrical productions.  This is why I stick with Broadway – things really swing there.

The Summer Isn’t Even Over Yet

 

Ok, I admit – the sun is waking up a bit later these days, and the leaves are beginning to take on a yellowish cast that suggest a certain malaise with the whole summer season.  It’s like they’re waiting for permission to fall – they’ve upheld their end of the bargain for months.  And it’s certainly cooler and quieter in the darkness of the morning, though the stars have been amazingly enthusiastic in appearance.  But last I looked it’s still summer in this part of the world, and dammit, I’m not ready to call it over.

So why are the supermarkets starting to sell Halloween candy?  Why am I seeing store sales for sweaters and jackets when the mere thought of such encumbrances makes me break out in a full-blown glow that requires showering in the middle of the day?  And most importantly, why oh why do I have to hear, read, watch political ads in every possible media forum available?  I’m sorry –  I don’t find any of it fascinating, because I question the veracity of every assertion.  I’m crossing every party line when I write this – for though it would seem that much of the population enjoys the divisiveness, attack ads, accusations and vitriol – perhaps I am a minority of one.  I don’t know what will bring us together when so much time is spent fueling disparity and hostility.  I’ not naive, I know politics isn’t a nice business – it just seems to get uglier to me though.  Perhaps it’s because it is a process that seems never-ending, or maybe it suffers from the absence of the gentler winds of summer.  I tire of verbs like ‘pandering’, adjectives like ‘ineffectual’, comments that suggest that we are so far behind the eight ball there is nothing left for which to be proud and strong.

So, if I could paint the world in my colors, there’d be fewer primary colors right now (pun intended).  There’d be a more effusive use of pastels, with striking, unequivocal hues left for the issues which unite humanity.  Ah, this is a throwback from my love child days I guess.  I want my own crayons thank you very much, and I want to paint a gentler backdrop for our conversations to continue.

This quote from Robert Fulghum comes to mind – “Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon.  A happiness weapon.  A beauty bomb.  And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one.  It would explode high in the air – explode softly – and send thousands, millions , of little parachutes into the air.  Floating down to earth – boxes of Crayola.  And we wouldn’t go cheap, either – not little boxes of eight.  Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in.  With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest.  And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with their imagination.”

Yes it’s naive, even childish – I’ll own it.  But given this flight of fancy on these waning summer days, what would you draw?  What would you give the world that it could cherish and elicit a smile, a laugh?  If we started from a  place of similarity and hope.  As you picked up your Crayola box, with all those brilliant colors all sharp and ready for your imagination to color the world.  It’s your mural – what would you like it to reflect?  Mine would be full of light and wishes and a lousy attempt at drawing fireflies.  It would have children of all shapes and sizes and talents and colors.   I’d color doors that are open.   And I would send a message up to the sky asking for a little more kindness, a bit more humor and a little more time.  It’s your turn – what’s on your easel?

 

 

Hedging My Bets

“Superstition is foolish, childish, primitive and irrational – but how much does it cost you to knock on wood?”  — Judith Viorst

You know by now that I believe that our outlook on life is largely dependent upon what we choose to see.  If we are suspicious by nature, we will find much to be wary about;  if driven by the need to find fault – there’s more than enough out there to satisfy the need; the shallow heart will find no grace, etc.  The converse is also true – if you find this world an intriguing place to be, I promise you moments upon moments of wonder.  And, if you have a tendency to stare life in the face with a smile – there is much to find that will amuse and delight.  Yes, yes I know – once again I am being simplistic, for I am not writing about the horrors that cannot be avoided, the wars that continue without surcease (or even purpose at times), the frightening twists of fate that defy explanation.  So bear with me here, and let’s go back to the original premise, ok?

I spent yesterday afternoon in a hospital waiting room – Andy had to have his knee scoped and a ligament tear repaired.  First and foremost, he’s fine.  He was in the operating room for under thirty minutes, recovery for an hour or so and when I saw him in recovery, he was sucking down Diet Pepsi like it was nectar and tearing open saltines and graham crackers as if they were haute cuisine.  His eyes were bright, his thoughts a little muddled and his awareness of the crumbs falling down onto his blankets as he inhaled whatever the nurses gave him, definitely compromised.  In other words – my boy was back.  And I whispered “thank you”.

But this is about the micro-society known as ‘the waiting room’.  Fascinating place.  Just to caveat this – this is the waiting room for same-day surgeries – everyone gets to go home at the end of the day.  In the back of the room, there was a family of eight – they brought enough food with them to feed a third world country and the smells were overwhelming.  An abundance of mayonnaise, ham and cheese and popcorn really smells. First they thanked God for their food, then conversation began to flow which resembled a meeting of people with ADD or no real interest in engaging each other in conversation..

“When is Buddy gonna stop visiting with her?  I want to go back before they take her”

“Did you hear about Renee’s son?  I don’t want to say anything but he is t-r-o-u-b-l-e.  What?  Oh, believe me I can tell – even before they’re walkin’ I can tell.”

“Sugar, hit me with some of that Pepsi will you?”

“I heard that John was seen messin’ with that girl who just started workin’ at his job.  No, I didn’t see them, but I’ve heard.”

“Anyone seen Buddy?”

You get the picture.  When Buddy came back, he advised that their loved one had gone to the operating room, which did prompt ten seconds of silence (thank you Buddy).  Disjointed talking resumed.  As soon as the doctor came to tell them that all had gone well, there was a chorus of perfectly timed “Thank You Jesus, Mary and Joseph” and a short prayer recited by all giving thanks for everything going well.  Honestly, I was surprised they could say anything in unison – let alone the same thing in unison.

The woman sitting next to me was waiting for her husband to have knee replacement surgery.  She told me all about her own knee injury from years ago, her daughter and son-in-law, (they separated for awhile but now they’re back together, “knock on wood”) and what a crotchety patient her spouse was going to be (“I can say that now that I know he’s going to be just fine,” she said).  The gentleman to my right was on the phone talking about some horrid surgery he had had on his shoulder, with details so graphic I had to get up and get some water.  And I couldn’t help but overhear, “Don’t say that man, no jinxes, ok?”

Miscellaneous information – the volunteers who keep families apprised of patients’ statuses are women over the age of ninety-five.  Very sweet, all three wearing wigs that in one way or another need some adjustment (I swear, one woman had lost her forehead under that hair), all six freckled hands ended each conversation with a pat on the back, the shoulder, etc.  Well, all conversations when they weren’t talking amongst themselves about going to see The King And I at WolfTrap this Friday, their seats, favorite songs, what to wear.  But how can you begrudge anyone that senior who is volunteering their time, when it’s the one item in their pantry in the most limited supply?

I could go on – the waiting room was full.  I learned about procedures, siblings, a teenager who broke his wrist during pre-season football practice (his mom insisting it was because he wasn’t wearing his St. Christopher medal, his dad disagreeing and blaming it on his son being out with his friends the night before practice – we are always looking for explanations aren’t we – even when it’s an accident).  Adult identical twin sisters wearing the exact same outfits – ‘for luck’.

By the time I saw Andy, I was more than ready to leave this hive with its cacophony of buzzes.  But I’m no different – just quieter.  I whispered my prayer to the morning sky, making sure I could spot a star before any words came from my lips.  Last week, when another member of our family was in the hospital, I paced and negotiated and kept looking for signs to assure me all was well.  My friend Suz says that when she sees a dragonfly, she thinks it’s a sign from her dad.  Suz, I’ve seen an abundance of dragonflies lately.  One even stopped and hovered in front of me for a few seconds.  I did say “Hi Sam” – even though he and I never met.  The other morning, with no wind tickling the trees and the sun not yet awake, one tree began to sway with determination –  demanding that I notice.  One of my angels?  A message from the universe that it knew I was there?  I prefer those notions over any explicable scientific phenomena.  Why there are more butterflies hanging around than usual or why the twin fawns rest in our backyard with no intention of fleeing even when they hear the Sirs and I on the deck.

Superstitions?  My mother saying “tu tu tu” (or something pretty close to that) every time someone would say anything that needed to be protected from a negative result,  wishing someone well and hearing them say “from your mouth to God’s ear”…There’s a negative connotation to superstition; a more understandable and accepted perspective when one attributes such actions to faith or tradition.  At the end of the day, we’re hedging our bets when faced with a situation that could end either way.  We’re putting our money on faith and hope.  And we’re betting it all.