Sunday, February 22, 2009

Just Saying No

I refuse to watch awards shows. Tonight is the Nirvana/Valhalla/MackDaddy of awards shows. The Oscars. I will not be watching. I didn't watch the Grammies or the Sags or the CMA's. None of them. Nada.

I hate these shows. These shows are not put on for you. They are not put on for me. Its so the glitterati of cinema/music/entertainment can preen over themselves and each other and have another excuse to have their pictures taken. Another reason to wear borrowed jewelry and have their lips plumped, tummies sucked, implants implanted.

My life has more meaning than worrying about what Brangelina are (is?) wearing to the red carpet event.

Hugh Jackson is the only thing worth watching tonight but that is merely because he is a yummy boy toy.

I think there are more important things in the world than watching people who make too much money stand around and give each other awards for making even more money. Go ahead, call me crazy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Last week I lost someone who touched my life deeply. The death was sudden - the doctors are thinking some type of wicked staph infection. I booked a flight and attended the funeral. This is how much this person meant to me.

When I was in ninth grade Mrs. J began teaching at my high school. She taught speech & drama, English and Creative Writing, so I had her every year. She was a flamboyant dresser and kept herself impeccably made up and coiffed. She looked just like Linda Evans on Dallas. Same platinum hair, lots of make up and a penchant for gold lame'.

I remember her first day of school when I thought, "this woman cannot be for real. She is too nice and how do you take someone seriously who wears a 5" wide belt and enough jewelry to outfit a store?" Then she gave out her HOME PHONE NUMBER so if we needed her help we could reach her any time. I shook my head thinking she was going to be prank-called viciously.

It didn't take long to realize that Mrs. J really was that nice. And her style was just that - not a joke but her style and she wore it well. She was a teacher who truly cared about what we thought and our futures. She included everyone in her productions, even those who SWORE they could NOT get up and speak in front of people (me!!).

She talked, cajoled, begged me to be in our production of "You Can't Take It With You" and I finally caved. I played the small part of Reba the maid. I ended up enjoying the surge of adrenalin and the applause.

"Debbie, you need to enter the speech tournament," Was her next BIG idea. I immediately balked, whined, pleaded to no avail. Mrs. J insisted that I would do great and she had the perfect piece for me. It was called a dramatic interpretation, 10 minutes long, completely memorized. I played two different people and could only move from the waist up. I had my doubts the entire time we were "supposed" to be rehearsing. I say "supposed" because my girlfriend and I would pair up and then we would each do our pieces in funny accents. This consistently caused us to dissolve into panty wetting, fits of laughter. I never once did the piece in front of anyone seriously. I did practice at home in front of the mirror. The idea of performing this piece in front of people I did not know, especially ones with the title Judge in front of them, made me bust out in a sweat.

The dreaded day came, as most do. We traveled to the large university on a big yellow school bus. We all dressed in our Sunday best. This was serious stuff. Luckily, only the judges and the other contestants of that category were allowed in to watch. I saw the others go and realized I was in WAY over my head. I got up and performed mine. It felt like I mumbled but I was relieved that I didn't forget any of it, so no gaffes like that. They posted the first cut after an hour or so and I made it to the next round. Obviously, some type of clerical error but I had to perform again.

My competition was really good. It was obvious they had practiced in a normal American accent and hadn't goofed off with their friends. I was sure I knew who got 1st and 2nd when it was time to go into the large auditorium for the awards presentation. When they got to my category, my stomach clenched. Mrs. J looked over at me with her big smile. I shook my head to convey to her to not get her hopes up. There was NO WAY I won anything. They called out 3rd place. Then 2nd place. It was a girl that I knew for sure had won. She was amazing and her performance had been excellent! I frowned and whispered this to my classmate next to me, and that's when I heard my name announced.

Yes, I got the first place trophy. I still have it to this day. It is displayed in my closet but I see it every day. I ended up getting a college degree in communications. I have given countless speeches and presentations professionally. There is no doubt that Mrs. J changed my life profoundly.

Mrs. J's funeral was like a reunion. I graduated with only 67 people so I even knew the people in classes on either side of mine. What occurred to me during the several presentations made by classmates was that I wasn't the only one who felt picked out and special by Mrs. J. She made everyone feel that way. The stories told were touching and funny. It was a wonderful tribute to an incredible lady.

I always thought I would be an English teacher. The only reason I changed majors was due to the pitiful amount they pay teachers. I am rethinking that now. I would like to know that I helped people and touched people's lives. Not sure what avenue I will take or when.

This poem by Robert Frost was in the funeral pamphlet:

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
so dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Someday at my funeral service, I hope people remember me as someone who at least attempted to live her life achieving gold status.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Meaning of Patriotism

I try to stay away from inflammatory posts. I prefer pictures of puppies and kitties and if I could, I would dot my i's with little hearts. (there is probably a font out there....)

But sometimes I must speak up. This week I had enough.

Let's start with that windbag on the radio. Just so I don't get any crazies who google his name constantly, because they don't know what to do or think unless he tells them, I will give him a nickname. Crush Limback. Crush stated that he hoped our new President would fail. So everyone will vote him out in 4 years. I find this disrespectful and dishonorable. I implore the Republican community to turn away from this horrible person. If you want to grow and make your party stronger, it will not be by following this type of rhetoric.

I would hope they understand that Crush Limback is only interested in feathering Crush's own pockets. He says things like this to MAKE MONEY. That's his job - to make people listen. Of course, he is the radio version of a train wreck and people can't help but rubberneck because he is so incredibly obnoxious.

The next thing that happened was during my work day. I was meeting with a client and we were waiting for a co-worker to join us. This old man (he is in his mid-70's) turns to me and states, "so what do you think of our new President?"

I responded, (knowing where he was going because of his snarky tone) "we probably should not have this conversation."

He then says, "I don't care that he's black, I just don't like him being a Muslim."

I bit my tongue. This is my client. I should just shrug or nod and let it go. I bit down again, but to no avail, and I heard myself saying, "You know that's not true."

"Oh yes, it is. He has stated that if he has to choose, he will side with the Muslims!"

Now, I should have walked away. You should not go head to head with crazy people but I tried to explain where that rumor came from and that I did not believe that Pres. Obama had ever said anything to that effect.

Thankfully, we were interrupted. But, once again, I was faced with what I thought was a blatant disrespect and disregard for the office of President of the United States.

These type of people are the first ones to cry from the tallest mountain that they are patriots. Patriotism is devotion and loyalty to one's country. It also means supporting and defending one's country, not spreading rumors and lies about the leader of it.

Now I also believe in freedom of speech. If you don't agree with a person's actions or decisions then argue your point based on fact. I have been amazed in the last few months how "the other side" gets downright hostile if you disagree with them. I do not ask someone to defend their decision to vote for McCain/Palin. I may have asked "what do you like" because I was interested to hear their views. I didn't take it personally that they didn't see eye to eye with me.

What I find is that most of the nastiness aimed at Obama is not based in fact. It's racist, small-mindedness and sour grapes. I know that where I live is not the rest of the world. Believe me, if Texas was the rest of the world, Pres. Obama would have never even gotten close to the office he holds now.

Personally, I am pleased with what Pres. Obama is trying to do. He is inclusive and thoughtful. He is a devoted family man and honestly, just seems like a nice guy who does his homework and hangs around people who elevate him instead of dragging him down. But, what do I really like? He makes decisions based on what is best for the country, NOT based on his own ego. Has he promised us an easy ride? No. Has he promised free $$? No. In fact, he has admonished us to prepare to accept responsibility and to buckle down for a bumpy ride.

Talk about bumpy ride. The oldest has learned where he will be stationed upon graduation from college in May. He will do about 6 months of training in Oklahoma and then he will be in Germany for about 6 months. Then Afghanistan. Imagine the feeling of your stomach dropping out (much like a roller coaster) of your body. Yeah - that's pretty much what happens to me everytime I think about it. He's excited and I put on a good face in front of him. The clock is ticking. I am summoning up every bit of patriotism that I can muster.