22 June 2008

Your attention please

Would whoever had June 21st in the "First time that Desmond sprays his father with 'buckshot'-the kind that comes from a baby's nether regions and does not clean up with just a mop-at the ungodly hour of five a.m. with absolutely no warning, timed to release just as an old diaper is pulled down to be changed, loud enough to make him jump back three feet, which is not far enough to avoid the 'pellets', and stuns him so much that according to his wife (who was in the bathroom at the time) he yells out 'I've been hit', which he does not remember and assumes is due to a form of 'septic shock', then looks at himself in the mirror and wonders when his torso became covered in 'freckles' while listening to the six-month old baby giggle non-stop, then slips on the floor which needs a major cleaning, not to mention a fumigation, and thanks the Heavens above that he did not happen to be singing to the son at the time, which has been known to happen before, and wonders if it would have killed him, and as he changes his boxers wonders if it is worth it to try to wash the old ones or just throw them away, but isn't sure if he has a hazardous material container anyway, and then shakes his head as he goes back to the bed, where he swears he hears the son snicker softly and say 'did you really think I was never going to get you sucker?'" pool please report to information.

You have won a fabulous prize.

20 June 2008

In which I commit political arson

Usually I try to avoid making generalizing statements, but I am making one now: based on what I have seen and read in the last month, I am completely convinced that if Barack Obama is not elected president in November, it will be for one reason, and one reason only.

Because he is black.  Yep, I went there.

This is not to say that someone who votes for John McCain is racist.  Of course not; millions of Republicans would vote for Bozo the Clown if he were the GOP nominee (in fact, millions did in 2000 and 2004...).  The way I see it, no matter the candidates in any election thirty-five percent will always vote republican, and thirty-five percent will always vote democratic.  It's the undecided thirty percent that determine every election.

Given the attitude of the country, the mismanagement and neglect that the Bush years have left us in, and the way that the rest of the world now looks at the United States, there is no reason that the majority of Americans could think that another Republican president is what the country needs.

We should be looking at a landslide this November for Obama, along the lines of the Reagan victory over Mondale in 1984.  Yet every poll I see has the race very close, and I don't understand why.

Well, yes I do.  As I said, I believe it is because that Obama is black.  And if I am going to make such an inflammatory statement, I better be prepared to back it up. 

First, a lot of people in this country are morons in the sense that they tend to believe the people whoever shout the loudest.  So far, the GOP machine has made the most noise, and has been for a while.  A good example of that is the whole "Obama is a Muslim" drivel that has been out there for the better part of a year.  Don't forget, all Muslims want to kill us and no one shouts "BOO!" louder than the GOP.  But that's not particularly racial now is it?  And since the Muslim smear did not keep Obama from getting the nomination, the GOP had to come up with another way to scare everyone.  In this country, what scares some white folks more than anything?  Black people in power.

That's why Jeremiah Wright was plastered all over the media more than Farrah Fawcett posters on the bedroom of horny teenage boys' walls in the late 70s.  The overkill was meant to scare people, to say "you see what's going to happen if youelect this black man?  His 'people' are going to rise up and get you."

I may be over-reacting, of course, but every report on Wright should have had only one caption: "This black pastor hates America, thus all his black parishioners, including Barack Obama, hate America."

You know, maybe I'm wrong and maybe race doesn't exist on the political sphere anymore.  Maybe this button that was worn by many people at the Texas GOP convention recently was something I just made up.

Or consider the plight of Iowa these last two weeks as they deal with record flood waters.  I found out during my four years at the University of Iowa that people there are pretty tough and it doesn't surprise me that they've dealt well with the incredible amount of flooding that they have had there.  What I didn't know is that, apparently, if you had put the people of Iowa in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina, the city would have bounced back ASAP.

At least that is the point I got after reading the comments at the end of this blog entry.  The people of Iowa?  Gooood!!!  The people of New Orleans?  Baaaaad!!!  Iowans are white, so they know what to do, how to handle adversity.  New Orleanites (I have no idea if that is the right way to describe those that are from the city) are mostly black, and well, you've seen what they've done to that place since Katrina.

Equating the flooding in Iowa (a disaster and tragedy, yes) with Hurricane Katrina is probably the dumbest thing I have ever read this year.  To go further and compare the aftermaths to how people of different race handle crisis is patently offensive.

While you may think that one blog does not reflect the thinking of a great deal of people, Michelle Malkin is one of the more "popular" conservative blogs.  It scares me to think how many people agree with everything that is posted there, both by her and in reader comments.

But perhaps the thing that confuses me the most are the supporters of Hillary Clinton who say that they will vote for McCain instead of Obama in November.  Why? Surely it isn't a gender issue, and it can't be a political party issue.  John McCain has declared that as president he will appoint justices to the Supreme Court comparable to John Roberts and Samuel Alito.  If he has to replace two justices, there will be six conservative justices on the court, and as soon as possible the controversial Roe vs. Wade decision will be overturned.

Senator Clinton is a steadfast supporter of a woman's right to choose.  One would assume that that particular issue means something to those who supported Clinton for the nomination.  But now that she will not be the nominee does it suddenly not matter?  Obama is pro-choice.  McCain is not.  Why would anyone who supported a pro-choice candidate now want to vote for one who is not?

Maybe abortion isn't the central issue to those who supported Senator Clinton.  Fine.  She and McCain differed on almost every issue from health care to tax cuts to energy etc etc etc.  So please, someone tell me why all these Clinton supporters are now vowing to vote for McCain?

It's not female vs. male.  And I can't help thinking that it is white vs. black.  Take a gander at the exit polls from certain states where Mrs. Clinton won the democratic primary.  I believe it was in West Virginia where one out of every five people who voted for her admitted that the race of the candidates matter.  One in five.  And those were the people who had the stones to admit it.  I bet at least twice that many thought that but refused to admit it.

I know that there is a long way to go until Election Day, but I picture myself waking up on the morning after either elated that the country has moved into the 21st Century by electing that best available candidate, or shaking my head in absolute shame that the mindset of fifty, one hundred, two hundred years ago still exists and that we will never truly move on and become one in this country.

I feel required to wrap this up with a bad cliche: it will be as plain as black and white.  I will now dodge your tomatoes.

16 June 2008

Ride my see-saw

I am all over the place lately, taking the good along with the bad.  My first Father's Day was wonderful.  Desmond got me a coffee mug with his mug on it, a great picture of my son smiling.  I love it, and it makes the coffee taste better.

Desmond is going to be six months old Saturday.  Time is starting to pass by quicker, and he's becoming more of a "person" instead of just a baby.  He grabs things now, and loves my ears.  He can't sit up yet but he moves around and we can't leave him on a blanket by himself anymore.  He babbles constantly.  From the moment he wakes up he is non-stop, chattering to himself and anyone who he can see.  He has no teeth yet, but he drools like a fish, if fish actually drooled.  I've never seen a kid that drools like my son.  If I can figure out how to harness it, I might be able to end the drought in the southeast.  Every day is an adventure, and it is so much fun to be a part of it.

I am bummed by two things that happened over the weekend.  The first was the death of Tim Russert last Friday.  I'm not much for watching political television shows, but if I came across Meet the Press on Sunday morning I would watch it until the end.  I also enjoyed watching him appear on cable shows from time to time, and on election nights.  It's completely unfair that he won't be around to see how this year's election plays out.  But what I most admire about Russert is how he honored his father.  I'm a complete sucker for good father-son moments and he did a great job of relaying stories about life with his, "Big Russ."  I never got around to reading his two books about his dad, but they have been added to my list.  Russert seemed like a genuine guy, and it's a shame that guys like him have to go early.

Second, I went to the University of Iowa from 1987-1991 and took full advantage of the beautiful campus, especially the area along the Iowa River, which cuts the university in half.  The Student Union backs up to the river, as does the English-Philosophy Building, which was my salvation for the last year of my time there.  With all of the rain in the Midwest recently, the river has risen to record-high levels, and the campus has suffered some extraordinary damage.  I've seen photos of the damage online, and it's unbelievable.  They'll fix things, of course, but some parts will never be the same again.  It's pretty depressing.  In the irony department, Kristen is a graduate of Kansas State, and their campus was seriously damaged by a tornado last week.

There are other things, of course, but those are prime examples of the up/down see-saw state of life right now.  I ain't complaining.  I'm never bored.

And how 'bout those Cubs?  They are 45-25, the best team in the majors.  I've seen a lot of Cubs teams, thirty-five years worth, and the only one that measures up to this year is the 1984 squad that won 96 games.  They broke my heart of course, losing three straight to San Diego when one more win would have put them in the World Series.  Yeah, I'm still not over that.  Only four other teams in my lifetime have made the playoffs, and they all let me down.  1989, 1998, 2003 (we shall not speak of Game 6 ever again), 2007-all the same result, sucking us in and breaking our hearts.

I'm optimistic about this team, because nothing seems to bother them.  They lose a game and then go out and win three.  They are almost impossible to beat at home.  They pitch, they hit, they defend.  No other team is playing as well as they are.  The season is almost half-over, so I find myself getting more and more sucked in with every passing game.  I know that as a long time Cubs fan it would be idiotic of me to get cocky and think that this will finally be the year-one hundred years of disappointment tells me otherwise-but I also know that this team is beyond the legacy of ineptitude that follows the franchise.

As with many things in my life, my feeling about the Cubs can be summed up by something by The Beatles. 


08 June 2008

An appreciation for blessings overdue

As Paul McCartney would say, "It's just another day."  That sums up my feelings about June 8th.  It hasn't always been that way.

The only thing I struggle with today is the fact that my son never got to meet his grandfather.  I feel like he has been robbed.  I don't think that feeling will ever change.  Desmond is fortunate-his other three grandparents are alive and thriving, and he is lucky to have them, but fate shafted him six years ago today.

Today was a good day.  We lounged until noon and then went to look at a house before ending up at my mother's for dinner.  All the time that we were there, I kept thinking the same thing, something that I've known for quite a while:

My mother is an amazing human being.

Growing up, Mom was the person who kept us to our schedule and made sure our work got done.  We never woke up for school and had to get breakfast for ourselves; she always saw us walk out the door and was there when we came home later that afternoon.

Our parents were concerned with us being good people.  We learned manners and were expected to use them.  We behaved ourselves in public.  We said please and thank you all of the time.  We were polite and respectful in school. 

I had a bit of a rebellious side once I became a teenager; I couldn't keep my mouth shut.  I never agreed with anything my mother said, and I had no problem letting her know.  I never swore or threatened her, but we had some blowout arguments.  It drove my father nuts.  If he said it to me once, he said it a billion times: "Why can't you just shut the hell up?"  I did, finally, around eighteen, I think.  Um, maybe twenty.  To be honest, I can't remember the last time we argued.

My grandmother passed away in July 1995.  For the last ten years or so of her life, she needed a lot of help, and much of that burden fell on my mother.  I know it wasn't easyfor her, as it was the first time I realized how much effort goes into caring for the elderly, and that doesn't even consider the difficulty in watching someone you love age, but she did everything she could to help Gram.  It was a lesson in what a person is supposed to do, one that I have never forgotten.  I know my grandmother spent the last years of her life comfortable in knowing that people loved her and she was not forgotten.

My mother became a grandmother for the first time when she was in her early fifties, and she has four grandchildren now.  I love watching her interact with all of them.  One is 22, another 8, and another almost 18 months (along with my son Desmond, almost 6 months).  She dotes on them but does not overdo it.  All four of her grandkids absolutely adore her.

Nine years ago, when my sister married, my parents found themselves alone.  I moved out in 1994.  There has never been a day when I haven't felt like I couldn't show up there anytime.  My folks made it very clear that even if we didn't live there it was always our home.  We had so many fun and wonderful times there after all three of us were out on our own.

And six years ago, everything changed when my father died.  As devastated as we all were, we were also very concerned with our mother, who had been with my father since 1956.  It seemed like all that ended in the snap of a finger, and I couldn't imagine how that could possibly feel. 

It was amazingly difficult time, and in the week that we were all together, from the night he died until we tried to get back to "normal" life, my mother was what held us all together.  She's deny that and say that it was her three kids that kept her going, but we all know better.  It was because of her that the night of his wake we spent 99% of the time laughing and sharing wonderful stories instead of being sorrowful.  It was because of her that we spent the following week celebrating the life of our father instead of wallowing in the shock and grief of losing him.

She kept us going.  She has been amazing since my father died.  Of course we know that she misses him terribly, as we all do, but soon after his death she decided that she had to keep living.  Every once in  while she'd tell me that she had a dream where my father told my mother that she would be coming to him soon, and shewould always say the same thing:  "I'm not ready to join him.  I still have a lot to live for."

Damn right she does.  She continues to make her house open to us all of the time.  I just turned 41, and I still am able to go to the place that I grew up in with my siblings and our families, and we still have great times, just like we did years ago.  I don't know too many people who can still do that.  My mother gets embarrassed whenever I thank her for everything she does for us at her home, saying that it is not a big deal and that she enjoys it, but it is a big deal.  She could have very easily withdrew from that house and moved somewhere else, but she wanted to keep her life.  And we are so thankful that she did.

My mother is amazing.  I could spend the next couple of days giving examples.  She has grace, style and wit.  She loves her family unconditionally.  She is giving, compassionate and fun to be around.  She has given us many examples to follow throughout our lives, but none greater than what she has done for the last six years-shown us how to go on after suffering a great loss.  We live everyday with the memory of our father glowing inside of us like a white-hot star, burning forever. 

My father was a great man, and I miss him more with each passing day.  He lives on in many ways, and I wonder how that would be if my mother had not shown us the way to keep on living.  Thank God for her. 

I've felt that way for forty-one years, but never stronger than I do now.  And I know a lot of other people that feel the same way.

We love you, Mom.  Always have, always will, and we will never be able to properly show you the appreciation for everything that you have done for us.  You are amazing.