Tag Archives: family
I love people.
A lot. They are my favorite.
This love leads to heartbreak, disappointment, fulfillment, and joy. Parents nurture and cripple. Siblings support and undermine. Friends enhance, detract, come, go; some endure. Enemies. Allies. Strangers. Acquaintances. People are horrible. People are wonderful. People with all of our yin and yang are by far, and I mean this with every bit of bombastic verbosity I can muster, the most important thing in existence.Period!
I believe in this human preeminence, past the point of feeling, over into the realm of knowing. It is at the heart of my narcissistic self-centeredness. Because I am a person I love me, but it also feeds my selflessness, because you are a person too. I am an I, as well as a we. With people lies the power to create, destroy, uplift and oppress. Humans are the creators and curators of art, music, architecture, civilization, and war. It is and will always be above all else, us.
Nature does not grow out of itself and mechanize, then choose to return to itself. People do, have, and will. Animals with all of their anthropomorphic wonder, for better or worse, often consume each other but do not commoditize or domesticate each other. They express and communicate but there is no literature. Wind, fire, water, and earth often destroy mankind, but none of those things consider themselves. Some of us do.
I believe we should consider each other more often and deeper.
I see people over there and sometimes I wonder but more often I move on. But they are still over there and whether or not I want it, they matter. They, you, we, affect each other all the time. Humans do not exist in vacuums metaphorically or in reality. We humans are capable of pretending and often do so when considering ourselves and the roles we play in society when we would be better served to embrace each other.But embracing is risky and hurt is real and regular. We are in fact dangerous.
So is gravity.
Let’s get to know each other. Please? All of us.
Let’s be in each other’s homes, eat together, live, share, and grow. All of us. If we do, some of us may be hurt- in every way possible. That possibility is inherent.
But if we ignore each other that possibility moves on to likely and then becomes inevitable.
I advocate for leading a life of sophistication and collected calm. Anything rowdy or without deeper meaning is to be avoided. As the kids might say, I keep it classy.
For example, I support the attendance of dinner parties where one can commune with thought leaders and sophisticates. Mingling with those who elevate thought and decorum is the best use of one’s evenings.
There may be occasions where physical exertion is appropriate, but dignity should predominate. If an outing is to happen, one need not lower one’s self.
Music is an important part of creating an atmosphere of celebratory sophistication. Many of the great symphonies and orchestras perform the classics during this holiday season as a service toward the elevation of humanity.
When dining one should not overindulge. Moderation takes a back seat only to presentation. Please remember that seating arrangements and plating are what truly makes a dining experience “fine”.
There is at this time of year a tradition of gift giving. I reservedly participate but remind us all that the appropriate response should always be quiet reserve and calm.
I like to think of myself as an example of intellectualism and decorum. The world needs more of this. There is far too much noise and irreverence. I am above such things and would that this were true for us all.
Yes. A paragon of elevation am I. And as such, I bid you all a happy new year.
Growing up I thought racism was dead and gone. I’m not sure anyone taught me that directly, but the civil rights movement was in my history book and things only get in there if they are passed. It was clear in that book that MLK won the fight. Back then Michael Jordan was hands down the biggest star on the Earth , followed closely by Bill Cosby. It wasn’t hard to see that things were great.
But Since those days I have seen some things I was blind to before. I saw most of them by happenstance or by stumbling down a road less traveled, rather than by having gained some superior third eye. No, I’m still the same guy I was then, no smarter or better, I just learned some stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise. Many, I might guess most, of those I grew up with haven’t been down those roads and could easily still see things the same way I did when I was one of them. For the most part, when I write, I have them, and me, in mind.
Racism still exists and has existed all throughout that gap between MLK and now. It has existed and continues to exist all this time in large part because so many white people can’t see it. There are those who won’t see it, but I think it mostly persists not because of those willfully ignorant, but more due to the innocently ignorant. White people, like myself and the ones I grew up with, normally can’t see it because so many of us are white people living around so many other white people. Almost every black person I know can, and has, seen it.
Why the discrepancy?
It is not unusual for my family and I to find ourselves in the car for long periods of time. We live outside of LA and out here any time you get in a car you will likely be in it for a long period of time. Any time you are in a car for a long time it is likely that your children in the back seat will get thirsty and probably throw a tantrum. This is normal, nay, inevitable, for us and we have learned to always have water bottles in the car. On one occasion as kid number two started to melt down in the backseat, my responsible wife responded appropriately by grabbing the water bottle from her cup holder and passing it to the child in the back. Good job.
What my wife did not realize was that when she was passing the metal bottle to the back she unintentionally smacked me in the side of the head. It hurt. I wasn’t injured, but it hurt enough to be really unpleasant and it affected my mood. This has happened more than once. It isn’t always a water bottle, sometimes I am hit in the face with snacks, I have gotten crayon stripes across my shoulder, chocolate on my lapels, all sorts of collateral damage of front seat trying to pacify back seat. None of these small injuries are independently consequential and almost none of them are intentional. In fact most of them would be completely unnoticed by my wife if I didn’t point them out. Better yet, none of these small injuries even happen when I am not in the car.
But that is me and my family in a car. That isn’t really American race relations.
I rarely hear anyone say the N-word or anything negative about us when my wife and I are together in public. I have however heard several people use the n word when my black wife isn’t around. Those who choose to apologize don’t apologize for using the word but rather offer that they would never have said that “if they had known”. As if I should only be offended because of my relationship rather than the idea being inherently offensive.
I have never had the n word spray painted on my door. It doesn’t usually work that way these days. No, it works more like the white lady out trick-or-treating with her little girl who refused to take candy from my wife. She took candy from the door right before us, and candy from the door right after us, but while looking right at my wife she steered her child away. My little daughter was confused by the slight and wanted us to explain. My parents never found themselves in such a situation.
There was that other time when my wife had to stop her car in the middle of the road because some guy was just standing there. It was a four lane throughway and this guy was just standing there looking the other way not going anywhere. After waiting for more than a reasonable amount of time she honked the horn. The guy turned around and yelled “Get outta the car N—er!” He walked over to the passenger door and started kicking it yelling over and over “Get out of the car N—er!” He was obviously angry, probably crazy, potentially drunk. But crazy mad drunk people can use a lot of angry words, yet in this instance, when faced with my wife, he used that word. That is the one he chose. My wife got home angry and crying with dents in the side of the car demanding I do something. She hadn’t waited to ask his name, she didn’t sit there idle waiting for him to get the door open, she got away. And once danger wasn’t immediate she was hurt, scared, and angry and demanded action. We got in the car and went to the location together. She tried to describe what he looked like and where he was and back there in that place we realized there were a lot of people here matching that description and none of them were going to point out the perpetrator or even admit that he existed. There wasn’t anything we could do. Nothing at all. But there were still very real dents in the passenger side door and very real impressions on my wife.
There was that one really hot day where we sat on our stoop eating a box of popsicles. A neighborhood boy was pedaling his bike back and forth and upon seeing us hand a popsicle to some other kid, he stopped and asked for one too. My wife gave him one. He stood straddling his bike eating the popsicle and we talked. My wife said it was hot and he agreed. My wife commented something about it being too hot to be out running around and that perhaps swimming would be a good option. He agreed and said he goes swimming all the time. There was at this time a public pool no more than 100 yards from our home, same as this boy’s home, and my wife asked if this was where he swam. He replied with surprising comfort that his mother wouldn’t let him swim there, because there were too many black people. My wife calmly asked the boy what he thought of this prohibition. He shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t agree with it, then pedaled on down the street eating the black woman’s popsicle.
None of these things are a burning cross or even all that big in the grand scheme of things, but they happened and none of my white peers from youth ever see such things in their day to day lives. They do not see or experience such things and consequentially find it hard to believe that there is a racial component when I also tell of how a police officer pulled over my wife due to a burned out taillight. It was in fact burned out, but when I uncrumpled the ticket that the officer had scrunched up and tossed in the window, I saw we had been cited for two broken taillights not one. A police officer has never thrown a ticket at me. They doubt the racial component of me getting pulled over in the black part of town after picking up my black friend. The cop said I hadn’t stopped at a stop sign (not true) and then launched quickly into a list of questions about me, my destination, my intentions, and my legitimacy. Many of my peers from youth do not see why I would be bothered by this since I wasn’t given a ticket. They think I won.
So many of my white peers, people I love, go about their lives watching the news, interpreting politics, listening to commentators, and form opinions. So many of these people, and sometimes myself, go about forming allegiances, joining parties, and venting frustrations, without realizing that they are hitting people in the head with water bottles. Or more often, they are passing water bottles safely to the back seat not appreciating that they are doing so because the passenger seat is empty. All the while my wife, my children, and so many people like them, are getting smacked in the head every day.
My brother used to be blonde. He also used to be bigger than me. Those things change but he will always be my brother.
He and I are connected, always have been. We are brothers and we cannot change that, nor do I want to. We aren’t all that much alike. Different temperaments, different interests, different life experiences. We disagree on a lot of things, agree on the most important things, and I love him.
He is my brother.
All the other kids in my family play instruments and listen to classical music. I do not. I appreciate those things, just not enough to pursue them personally. We are not the same but I love them.
Over time I have collected in-laws, gained nieces and nephews. I have built relationships and started fires that would normally burn bridges but because it is family, the bridges remain. Because it is family and because I love them.Over time I have also met people who don’t share my parents or who haven’t married my siblings.Most of these people have never pinched me, called me annoying, tattled on me, or tried to burn my bridge. Those things are left to family. Yet we still love our family.
Love is not, nor has it ever been, nor does it need to be, exclusive.Love is not finite. Yes, there are limitations on time, resources, energy, all those things, but there is something about human affection that grows beyond those bounds. It can endure injury, increase in capacity, and stretch across boundaries. Love does not need to be held in reserve. We are capable of more
We can extend the same grace we normally give family, to those who come from much more distant branches on the tree. We can endure mistreatment, give extra chances, and give aid. We can enjoy good times, share food, and endure disagreement.I am and will be, a firm believer in friends and friendships. I will stay your friend. Even if I feel at the moment that I don’t really like you, that your politics are the worst, you owe me money, and you talk trash about my sister, we can get past it. We can endure.
I have described my mother as the most practical woman alive. She has never wasted her time with whining, complaining, or materialistic foolishness.I describe her that way because it is true. But do not get her wrong, despite having married a mountain man, she herself is an artist.
She does not bring up artist’s names or offer nasally critiques using words like philistine or vulgarian. She doesn’t try to critique anything at all really- that would be silly. She is not silly.
What she would do is be the valedictorian of her high school but not attend the graduation.While her husband spent time fly fishing on the Provo River she was volunteering as a docent in a museum.
This amuses me because docent is probably the most high-brow word she has ever used.
Legend has it that the only time she didn’t get an A in college was in pottery. And that was only because the professor refused to give an A to anyone who wasn’t a fine art major. Mom was in education. Because when you start college after having already had six children, going into education is practical.
But inside that practical person, that education major about to become an elementary school teacher, is and was my mom. My mom, the 18 year old who hopped on a ship to Europe so she could marry a soldier working as a linguist in Germany. The young woman who spent her honeymoon touring Europe visiting art museums and castle galleries. The young woman who when she chooses a car, picks a yellow convertible MG Roadster.
The woman, who once retired and living in one of the most rural places imaginable, builds a structure that on the outside looks like a one story Lincoln log wood shop, but on the inside, is a studio fashioned to look like you have stepped inside Mondrian’s “Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow”.
The first major structure on the property was an outhouse. Less than a week from its completion we founds tufts of hair wedged into the outside corners where a bear had used it for a back scratch. Next we built the little red cabin. There was an idea that they would live in it till the real house was finished and then it would be a barn. I was twelve and my job was to help spread the cement for the foundation as it poured out of a giant spinning drum on an equally giant truck.
At 15 my brother and I ran pipe from the well up the hill for running water.
After my parents retired and were living in the little cabin full time, they started on the real house. When most people say they were going to retire and build their own house, they really mean they intend to pay someone else to build a house for them. Not my parents.
As a newlywed I didn’t use any vacation to go on a honeymoon but I did take time off to drive up to Idaho and help my Dad and uncle put in the floor joists. That was 15 years ago and the house still stands.
They finished the house but never stopped building.We always called it the property, it has jokingly been called a ranch, but really it is more of an estate. I say estate because “compound” connotes something different than what they have going on up there. The house, a cabin, a gazebo housing a hot tub, a large free standing garage, a wood shed, and most recently both a pottery studio and a wood shop.
I think they keep building mostly because they cannot stop themselves. Which, in the grander scheme of things is ironic because they key draw of this property in the first place was its lack of development.
Luckily, despite my parent’s industriousness, the wildlife still outnumber the humans. At one time my father and uncle had to have a gentleman’s agreement to not shoot anything from the front porch. This means they passed up elk, turkey, deer…
and grand kids.