Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Theme Week # 15 (2)

That’s called, A Charge to Keep, based upon a religious hymn. The hymn talks about serving God. The president’s job is never to promote a religion.”

America stands for liberty, for the pursuit of happiness and for the unalienable right for life. This right to life cannot be granted or denied by government because it does not come from government, it comes from the creator of life.

Faith crosses every border and touches every heart in every nation.

Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.

America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them, and every immigrant, by embracing these ideal, makes our country more, not less, American.

Our nation is somewhat sad, but we’re angry. There’s a certain level of blood lust, but we won’t let it drive our reaction. We’re steady, clear-eyed and patient, but pretty soon we’ll have to start displaying scalps.

Use power to help people. For we are given power not to advance our own purposes nor to make a great show in the world, nor a name. There is but one just use of power and it is to serve the people.

Bring them on.

America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle with a concern for civility. A civil society demands from each of us good will, and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness.

I think you can judge from somebody’s actions a kind of stability and sense of purpose perhaps created by strong religious roots. I mean, there’s certain patience, a certain discipline, I think, that religion helps you achieve.

I am the decider. I decide what is best.

The only way we can win is to leave before the job is done.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Theme Week # 15 (1)

December 10, 2006...

Slept in late...
Forty bodies shot and tortured found across Baghdad

Ate bowl of Fruity Cheerios...
Mortar round kills 2 in Baghdad's Kadhimiya district

Drank two cups of coffee...
Bodies of 2 policeman received at Mosul Hospital with gunshot wounds

Took long, hot shower...
Gunmen attack hairdressers shop in Kirkuk killing the owner

Walked dogs in the snow...
Gunmen attack 2 Shiite homes killing 10 people

Did homework...
Clashes erupt between Sunni and Shiite militants in Baghdad. One Shiite militiaman killed, 6 wounded (5 Sunnis, 1 Shiite)

Finished knitting scarf...
Sunni families march for help saying gunmen from Shiite Militia forced them from their homes at gunpoint

Made supper...
Staff Sgt Henry W. Link, 23 died of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated

Spoke to Grandmother on phone...
Staff Sgt. Kristofer R. Ciraso 26, of Bangor Maine died of injuries when and improvised explosive device detonated

Ate bowl of coffee ice cream...
Bodies of 60 apparent victims of sectarian killings found across Baghdad

Brushed teeth...
Gunmen attacked homes of 2 Shiite families killing 9

Went to bed...
3 iraqui soldiers killed by US friendly fire


Theme Week # 16

“People say a word dies when it is written by the pen, but for me that word’s life is just about to begin.”
Emily Dickinson

My friend has a bumper sticker that reads, “Don’t believe everything you think.” For years I thought I could write. That’s what my family told me. Why would I want to think any different?

I remember the first time John complimented me on an assignment. “Slick”, “Can I use this as an example in my class?” See, my family was right. I do know how to write. The next papers comment; “It just doesn’t do it for me. Nahh…Nope! Not it” Having a type A personality, my first thought was, Shit! I failed. Soon my insecurity kicked in…He just doesn’t like my writing. Finally…Well, if he would just tell me in plain English what the hell I’m doing wrong!

Paper after paper, the anxiety grew. I spent hours sitting with my head back staring at the ceiling. I’d hold my breath with every reader response. “Too many adjectives. Too many adverbs. Not enough detail. Too much detail.” My pen became a prisoner of his instructions. My husband asked more than once, “Why do you care so much what he thinks?” Seemed like a pretty obvious answer.

One evening, my dreads were completely washed away. I was helping my niece with her homework. She became frustrated with me because she didn’t know how to put into words what she was trying to say. “Honey, I’m here to help you. I don’t expect you to know everything. You don’t go to school to get all the answers right. You go to school to learn the answers.” That was my ton of bricks.

I didn’t take this class for a repeated pat on the back. (I came to the wrong place if that was what I was looking for.) I signed up for this class to learn something. In doing so, my brain was kicked, twisted, yanked, and picked completely apart. In other words, it wasn’t just nestled in believing everything tucked inside of it. With every constructive word of criticism, I found another pathway. With every “There are risky topics, risky ways of writing about non-risky topics, and risky ways of writing about risky topics.” I learned a different way to write, a different way to think. Granted, I felt like I circled the barn a few times before I found the door but I really think I found it! Does that mean I’m now a writer? Nope! It just means there’s a way in, and for me "word's life is just about to begin." What more could I have asked for?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Theme Week # 14

A cure for cancer, aids, the common cold, the perfect man, or woman, car keys, the "other" sock, reading glasses, and happy endings; we spend a good majority of our lives looking for things. Much of what we search for is either lost or unattainable.

I'm beginning to think I may never find what I am looking. No, it's not the perfect man. Even I know the improbability of that. I'm just looking for the perfect pair of underwear; a pair that don't bunch, twist, ride, or cut me in half. Yes, I've tried the thong somehow believing that intentionally placing the underwear between my cheeks would take away from the frustration I feel when they creep up there on their own. A few hours of "balancing on that tightrope" was all I could take.

Unlike the three styles men have, there are as many women's styles of underwear as Baskin Robbins has flavors. Yesterday, I broke down and bought six of them. Surely with so many to choose from I would find one I liked.

I put a pair on and went Christmas shopping. By 10am, I was in a bathroom stall at JC Penney's holding a pair of scissors with my underwear pulled down around my thighs trying desperately to remove whatever was poking me in the crotch. I snipped at a piece of elastic and went on my merry way. Before three minutes passed, I was back in the bathroom with more fervor than ever, scissors in hand. Clip, clip, clip...That should do it. By noon, my new panties found their way into the bathroom trashcan. It was at that point, I considered scratching the underwear search altogether. How bad could it be? Yeah, well that question was answered rather quickly as I was leaving the bathroom and passed two giggling girls in the hallway, then I felt the draft. Needless to say, the search continues.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Theme Week # 13

Two feet between them should have been a mile for the distance years of silence created.

She pulled at the lint on her skirt, crossed and uncrossed her legs several times, wiped the scuff on her shoe and sighed at the inconvenience of this day.

He sat with his hands in his lap twisting his wedding band, staring at the tan tiles beneathe his feet holding it all in just as she said he'd done the past twelve years.

"Mr and Mrs. Clough. Right this way."

Theme Week # 12 (2)

He walked on the tip of one toe and dragged the other foot behind. He was born with cerebral palsy which challenged his mind, slowed his thoughts and delayed his words; words he found in spite of. Physically, he couldn't run far or fast, but he ran anyway. He'd fall then get up, and fall again. He was born cross eyed. Even after surgery one eye wondered doctors said he would never walk normal or be like other children.
His biggest challenge wasn't the instability of his gait. His biggest challenge were the children who didn't understand why it took him so long to get on the bus, why he couldn't run the bases faster, why he read slow, or wrote messy. This challenge became his families challenge. The challenge to let him hurt, fall, feel sadness, to let him find his way, and he did.
The doctors gave him a 30% chance to survive. He played baseball, football, accepted his diploma to a standing ovation, got a job, moved into his own apartment, and later married. They were wrong and he knew.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Theme Week #12 (1)

"Today, everything will be done opposite of....
Toothpaste squeezed in the middle. Just the beginning.
Legs not shaven. "Laugh while you rub your cold feet on those."
Thong underwear. Never got that. Thong underwear removed.
Husbands toast crumbs left in place. Slight seizure.
Makes his own lunch. Grown men do cry.
Don't kiss husband goodbye. Don't get kissed.
No coffee. Road rage worse?
Suppress road rage. Need coffee.
Drive slow. Go to class late.
Husband home first. Gives her blank stare.
"What's for dinner?" Blank stare back.
Husband makes own dinner. (already covered)
Skip homework. Large seizure.
Don't kiss husband goodnight. Don't get kissed.
Crumbs still on the counter. ZZZZZ

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Theme Week # 11

Holding it in my hand, I imagine it on his wrist.

The first thing he did when he came into the kitchen was put that cheap watch on. I tried many times over the years to get him to wear a different one but those "attempts" sat in cases on the shelf below his snack bar.

The cracks of the band are dirty with crumbs.

He sat in his recliner, and I on the fold out couch. I can still see his hand buried in the bottom of that cereal box; tossing back Cinnamon Life and only half making it in his mouth. Loud crunching, Andy Rooney in the background, and the pages of my Readers Digest turning were common sounds of our evenings together.

Sliding the watch over my digits and down to my wrist I remember how strange it was to seem him put it on.

"It fell off from sucking it too much." We believed him until we grew up and discovered his thumb was really shot off in the war.

Familiar as his three piece suit, tilted hat, and London Fog jackets; he was never without his Timex.

It was hard to let him go that day. I stared at him, afraid to blink. People walked around me but I didn't care. I knew when I walked away, he would be gone forever. His hands were crossed just above his waist. The way he held them when he walked to the alter to accept communinion. He was wearing his Timex. Apologizing,I took it from his wrist. The same watch I hated to see him wear was all I had left of him.

I kissed the face of the watch, put it back in the box, and placed it on the shelf just below the island in my kitchen.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Theme Week # 10

What would a small town be without the local mart where old biddies catch up on yesterdays gossip, or the meat market where men talk about their last hunt, and of course the potluck suppers benefiting so and so's "father's third cousin"?

Last night I attended a benefit supper for my brother-in-laws sister Laurel. She suffered a brain aneurysm six weeks ago. Laurel's your typical hearty Maine woman. She lacks a manicure, wears nothing but LL Bean clothes, and cooks a mean pot of fish chowder. She's at every family function but rarely says anything. She darts from room to room wiping crumbs, filling plates, and picking up empty beer bottles. If not for her devilish laugh and big smile, she'd live permanently in the background, and with no complaints.

Over two hundred people attended the supper. My sisters and their friends served spaghetti while I kept track of their children. Laurel's mother walked around showing of the newest great grandchild while the grandsons kept the pasta, and meatballs filled. In the far corner of the hall, wearing dickies and a red and black, checkered, wool coat sat Laurel's 79 year old father. Being a quiet man, it wasn't unusual for him to be hidden from the hustle and bustle. I watched as he looked at the serving line grow and the people buying tickets for the raffle. His eyes began to well with tears. Instinct was to run over and give him a big hug but then I thought of Laurel and how that moment was with her.

There's much to be said about small towns but at the end of the night, $8,000 was raised for a quiet woman with a big smile that few of those people really even knew.