samedi, novembre 24, 2012

The faces of victimhood

If you didn't have so many things going on, said a friend to me today, you'd feel angry instead of helpless.

She may be correct.

Torn between work and family, I've had so many stressful moments this fall that I really haven't figured out when to grow a spine and when to curl up like a snail and hope the rain stops soon.

And I've often felt like a victim of circumstance. 

Given a little time to think this past week, I've been wondering about the many faces of victimhood.

There are events that make victims of other people -- wars, rapes, racial oppression.

Sometimes oppression can try to mold human beings into victims. Apparently Italy has had a recently rash of domestic violence, now chillingly termed "femicide." 

Institutions can victimize people in ways that they don't even recognize at the time --large investment banks were really good at this over the past decade (and may still be). Anyone want to say mortgage-backed security?

And then there is the squishier kind of victimhood.  Letting men you are pretty sure are married chat you up on online dating sites with their endless tales of woe.  Getting involved in a long debate with some other dude about why you don't want to date him.

Apologizing when you don't need to apologize, because, darn it, someone's always wrong, aren't they?

Taken to its illogical extent, this often seems ludicrous.  My son got up to go to the bathroom last night, and when he alerted me to his presence (we share a bathroom) I said " I'm sorry, there's no one in there" a moment of linguistic lunacy that will most likely go down in family history.

Taking more responsibility than you need to own.

Trying to make something come out right when the other person isn't invested in making it work.

Letting people criticize you on the basis of superficial observations -- and then brooding about the slam for days. 

Or feeling like a failure because you are trying to do an impossible parenting job without help.

No question that sometimes I find taking responsibility that isn't always mine easier than actually trying to find a solution that works well for everyone -- or facing the conflict that may occur if I have to claim my own inner adult.

I'm embarrassed to read these words on the screen - coming as they do from the mind of a middle-aged woman, they bespeak timidity.

No wonder some have made that mistake in judging me.

But I'm not, I assure you, always fearful. Principles are precious -- and the blood of the principled eccentrics flows through these Jackson veins.

Sometimes I battle with grace.  Often without. 

But as difficult as this time has been, I still want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and say -- hey girl, you didn't fold under pressure.

After all, I have a choice --  and I choose self-respect.

Let the spine begin.

vendredi, novembre 23, 2012

Thankfulness changes everything

Some of us were born with naturally sunny dispositions.

Other will struggle, due to a predisposition that may be environmental or genetic, with depression, making joy seem like a hurdle too high to jump, except on special occasions.

Then there are the rest of us, the majority.

We are the ones for whom appreciation is a daily decision, a choice to be made each day, each hour, each moment.

Where are you on the gratitude spectrum? In my column for the Lancaster newspapers, I consider how changing our attitude can change US.

dimanche, novembre 18, 2012

In defense of uh, junk food

I start this post with the melancholy knowledge that to some of you, I will be defending the indefensible.

After all,  my friends tend to be well-educated, middle or upper-middle-class men and women.

We know about the evils of preservatives and food coloring.

When we can afford it, we buy organic.

Those of us who can or care to cook, do.  Our idea of indulgence in food is pizza from Trader Joe's.

Some of us have medical reasons not to touch the chips or Hershey's, not to dip into the dip or eat a pint of Cherry Garcia..

But not all.

Lamenting the demise of Hostess Twinkies (as quite a few of my friends have done online) is one thing.

But actually eating one? Quite another.

Fat.  SUGAR.  Cream made out of heaven-knows-what.

A square a day of dark chocolate? That's healthy.

But Little Debbie snacks? Gotta be a bunch of bad mommas buyin' that stuff -- or perhaps dads who don't know better.

Consign me to the ranks of the ignorant -- or worse, the defiant.

My larders brim over with various types of crackers and chips. Not only do I bring milk AND dark chocolate into the house, but I order it from Amazon and Great Britain.  My son's lunch has both Oreos and Lay's Potato Chips, leading him to ask why his dinner looks like it came over with the Puritans and his lunch like a meal fit for decadent Rome.

I have no idea.

All I can say is that into everyone's life a little trash must fall.  Trashy food. Trashy novels. Trashy love affairs.

And if you don't provide a little exposure to food, movies and books that may not be up to your ideals,  kids are going to look for it somewhere else. (Love affairs, they can find on their own).

Personally, I enjoy a handful of chocolate chips in my cereal or a soft-serve ice cream cone on a hot night in Glenmoore.

No paragon of culinary virtue I.

In fact, turning on the stove often seems like the beginning of an amazing race to dinner.

But I'd rather my kids knew how to eat less than perfect food in moderation, rather than see it as forbidden fruit.

Or that's my justification for that huge plastic bin of chocolate candy, anyway.

I had to buy it --because the Halloween candy is long gone.