“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” Mark Twain

Friday, August 31, 2012

Lookie What I Did!

Broken Conversations

I'm not a political person. I tried. But since I'm non-confrontational by nature, can listen and analyze and can see value in each side, there seems to be no spot for me.
More us than them, at this point.

What we tend to hear about through the media are the extremes. Conservative and liberal alike. And there's been a lot of hatred spewed the last few months. It's rife on the social networks. If you don't agree with some view, you're branded as anything from intolerant to some variation of the f word.

I listened to Romney's acceptance speech last night. It's easy to give speeches, especially if you have a speech writer. I could give an speech accepting the nomination from my political party to run for president. A bunch of well-turned promises put forth with energy, enthusiasm and charisma. I have enough acting skills for that.

Putting that to work after the elected takes office requires more than acting and a pretty words.

Next week will be Obama's speech. He'll do the same thing. Surrounded by his supporters, he'll spin well-meaning promises into votes. Whether or not enough remains to be seen.

It's a broken system. Maybe because the country is too big. Maybe because we have lost the art of conversation. We no longer sit down and listen. We stand, shake our finger, call a name, and walk away.

You're against abortion? You're a woman hater!

No, I want more women to be born.

You're for gay marriage? You hate families.

Gay people want to have families, too.

I'm not proposing to know the answers. I'm just saying we need to sit down and listen to each other and stop behaving like children whom we try to teach to behave like we don't.

The only minds ever changed by name calling are weak ones. I believe it's unwise to be so single-minded about a cause that you can't even listen to another person's argument against it. Listening doesn't mean you're weak or you have to change your mind. It means you care.

I'm not sure this post is saying what I want it to. But I'm tired of the hateful language and immature stances of leaders and citizens.

This is my call to action: Listen with love. Speak with love.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Memories of a Dork at Sleep-away Camp

I decided to do August Camp NaNoWriMo. I signed up and didn't request specific cabin mates. "Surprise Me!" I'm in with a variety of ages and locations, including a student from Bangalore!

Anyway, it got me thinking about the two times in my life I went to camp for a week. There are only a few things from each I remember. I was a fat girl (still am) and that made me an automatic target for either being ignored or being the center of unpleasant and unwanted attention anywhere I was with other kids (even some adults, for crying out loud.)

The first was Camp Lackawana. That was sprung on me and my brother last minute-like. Somehow, we got a scholarship through something associated with the church-run childcare center my then youngest brother went to. I probably wouldn't have gone if my brother, Chris, wasn't going. He could get himself in and out of everything. I was 12, going into 6th grade. A very young twelve, in some ways. I can't believe, in all the moving I did in the years since, that I still have the few pics I took. Note the subtle Instagram effect, courtesy of AGE.

A few highlights from Camp L:
Haggy Mary--the resident ghost who tormented girls with brown eyes-namely, me. The other girls in my cabin were friends and must have been at that camp before because they knew all about Haggy Mary. They also knew how to spot and torment a victim. I had nightmares all week. One night the counselors planned a sleep-out in the woods with a boys' and girls' cabin. I couldn't do it--I was deathly afraid of Haggy Mary so the counselors arranged for me to sleep in the cooks cabin. I was ashamed and knew it was just a stupid story, but I couldn't help myself.

That counselor I thought was hot.  
The guy counselor of my brother's cabin was hot. I didn't care much for guys in those early days, but him, I noticed. What was I thinking?

I was walking across the buggy field (a literal cloud of gnats) from the mess hall to the cabin area and a bug flew in my ear and got stuck in it. I could feel the thing buzzing and bouncing off the walls of my ear canal. Ugh!

My counselor. I forget her name.
I wondered if they liked each other

The place was rife with Daddy Long- legs. Most insects don't bother me. On the evening of the sleep-out, my brother and I easily collected some and put them in the sleeping bags of the girls who squealed whenever they saw one. The counselors got wind of our vandalism and ordered us to remove them. We did although I doubt we got them all. I never knew what happened with the ones we didn't get because that was the night I spent hiding from Haggy Mary in the cooks cabin.

We watched the first moon walk there.

Then there's this. My first "sexual" experience. I use the term loosely. There was a black kid there from New York City. I imagined he was from the ghetto because as far as I knew all black kids in NYC lived in ghettos. This was 1969 with all the racial riots and stuff and that's what we saw on TV. Anyway, he was in my brother's cabin and like us, he wasn't part of the main crowd and the three of us hung out at times. The day we had art in the art cabin, he and I were the last ones left in there. We were talking and somehow he backed me up against the wall. He started to put his knee between mine to separate my legs. I had an idea what he was trying to do and I got a squishy-afraid feeling in my gut. I forget what he said, but he stopped and we left. And I wondered how a kid that age knew about such things and would actually try something.

Then, it must have been the next year, there was Girl Scout camp. I was pretty into Girl Scouts until high school. My mom was a co leader and a Brownie leader and I helped her with that troop. I don't remember much about it except:

A counselor named Cricket, who scared me. I don't know why. We had to do some kind of secret friend thing. She was the one I had to secretly give gifts and notes to. Awkward.

There was a girl in my tent who was a sister dork. She had the hairiest armpits I had seen up to that point. She thought certain girls were lesbians and were after her. Or was it, other girls said she was a lesbian? I remember being in a canoe with her and listening to her talk about it. I did know what a lesbian was. Pretty much, in the culture of the time and place, if you were a girl who didn't hang out with anyone, you were fair game to be called a lesbian. It happened once to me somewhere else. Another story.

I was happy to go home to my noisy crowded home where my brothers called me "whale on the beach," and I had to change diapers and do the dishes and babysit. But my mom was there and not strangers.

Even though those camp experiences don't come with all-American wonderful memories of friendship and kum-by-ah--I supposed we sang that at least at Girl Scout camp--they tossed me right out of my comfort zone.

And I'm sure that was a good thing.