Friday, September 28, 2012

Fear is the Mindkiller

The sun is nowhere to be seen. My own son is equally not present, having spent the week with his dad on a trip to Disneyland and then AZ to visit relatives. The sunflowers are still blooming, waiting for them both to show their faces once more.

It's been an odd week. On Monday, I was sure I was depressed because I had no energy and all I wanted to do was go to bed. The MD told me, while I might also be depressed, what I had in my nose was in fact, a raging sinus infection.

He sent me home with antibiotics and Flonase, which if you have never tried it- smells and tastes just like Grandma Betty's perfume. So that happened. I also decided this was a sign from the heavens. A sign that this time did not yet include the big C, that I should go ahead and quit smoking. 

Instead of just stopping like I did last year, I bought patches this time. I am on my third patch and I know how it is when you tell people you're quitting something. It's like, oh awesome, good job! The proof is in the pudding as it were. Basically, smoking is gross and I have always hated it.

I started smoking so many years ago. I quit when I found out I was pregnant and then only started again when I was neck-deep in my divorce. It started with one and then... well. It's been 2 years. I initially tried to hide it from my son. As of three months ago, he told me some important words. "I wish you would stop cigaretting, Mom." Yes, my heart in a million pieces and yet I did not, could not stop. 

So it is what it is. Just for today, I am not smoking and just for today I am refusing to let a little fear and addiction get in the way of the life I want to lead. I intend on living for a long time so I can be around to watch my son grow, so I can become the Social Worker that lives what she practices in all respects, not just most of them save smoking.

Am I afraid I will fail? Yes. Am I going to keep stopping even if I slip? Yes. But I don't want to slip. I want to stay quit, for my own sake, for my son's sake and for the sake of those cigarette companies who get rich while people who smoke die.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

47% of us are Common People

By now you have heard all about it. The 47% secret video given by Mitt Romney. However, this is a great response to it brought to you by none other than Stephen Colbert.(Click this link for the video.)

I am not saying anything about party lines or who you should vote for. Today I was hopefully inspired to read a blog post by Moby about what viewing the secret video was like for him. (Click this link to his blog.)
At the end of his blog post, he quotes the following Pulp song that was huge for a moment in the 90's and though not earth-shattering, it's catchy and reflects the rhetoric of Us and Them that's so evident in the secret video:

The Colbert Report's rehash of Mitt's secret video might have been funny and disturbing but like lots of great art, it accentuates lines and color that were in the original secret video. The reason the Colbert Report makes me laugh is because inverse to the X-Files, the truth is In there.

Moby has great things to say in his blog post and I include it because it touched me. His mom was on welfare and he went on to do many things, employ many people, pay beaucoup income taxes. 

This myth of the lifting oneself up from one's own bootstraps has to be smashed. Sure, the structure of welfare needs changing. I am down with that, however I am not down with marginalization of a whole 47% of the human personhood while corporate personhood gets welfare all the livelong day.

I realize I am simplifying things. I know only a little about this but I am going to keep talking about it because we have to talk about this stuff, share our stories and work together to change policies and perspectives. Conversations change the world, so let's have one.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

16 Tons and a Prophet

I have had this song in my head because this week I will be
another year older and deeper in debt. I am not in debt because I am a slave to Company Store so much as Sallie Mae. This was a choice, and sometimes I even try to frame it as a privilege but other times I know that no matter how awesome my education might be and whatever it might give me later on, I will be paying for it for a very long time.

I (have to) believe that my education is worth it. I know it is a privilege to sit here with a pile of books and write academic papers and that one day I will have some more letters after my name that might somehow qualify me as someone who knows stuff. I believe what I believe because of habit and because I was raised this way and only recently have I started to even fathom that some of my largest and most hard-line beliefs are not even my own. My life has bent me in all kinds of ways and I like to think it was because I am well informed or engaged in the political process, but I am beginning to see holes in this logic. Last night as I read my son a few chapters of The Alchemist before bed, I am realizing it's about time I start tuning in to what really makes sense to my own heart, or my own personal legend.

I am not in the desert with a teacher trying to help me manifest my personal legend as the protagonist in the story is. I am just another mom in graduate school, working at a nonprofit trying to do what I can to live the best life I can and sometimes I say I want to help others maximize their potential too but I think most of the time I just try not to be a jerk. Sometimes I fail but I am going to keep trying.

What I am coming to believe these days is that I have to have the awkward talk with whomever it is. I have to accept my debt as a lesson in patience and reciprocity. I have to listen to my own truth even when the loud voices around me are clamoring. It's election season and all I can think of is this:

A prophet once came to a city to convert its inhabitants.  
At first the people listened to his sermons, but they gradually drifted away until there was not a single soul to hear the prophet when he spoke.  
One day a traveler said to him,  “Why do you go on preaching?” 
Said the prophet, 
“In the beginning I hoped to change these people.  
If I still shout, it is only to prevent them from changing me.”

— Anthony De Mello in The Song of the Bird.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fevered Human Rights

This week I have been blazing through boxes of Kleenex with a red, rubbed-raw nose and an intermittent fever while I read about the evolution of social work and our engagement or not in the political process. 

"Politics ought to be a part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." 
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1954)

I write about my politics a lot and when I say that, I mean I don't KNOW a lot about politics, I merely write about it a lot. Politics seem to have threads in every part of my day from where my t-shirt is made to the kind of car I drive to what food is available to me at the grocery store... I will stop but you see where I am going here.

I have a friend who's shy about politics, thinking because their own politics are different than mine we can't have dialogue. This makes me a bit sad because I want to hear other people's opinions because I only have mine because this is all I know so far. The more I talk about it, the more I learn about it, the better equipped I am to make a better informed decision.

I think a lot about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as brought to us by the United Nations. Specifically I think how amazing it is that I think of myself as someone who knows about some stuff, not a ton but some and I had never heard of this until last January when I came to Humboldt State and one of the professors presented it to us. 

What would the United States of America look like if these were taken into account? That is all my fevered head can hold for one day. Thanks for dropping by.