Will the People Who Took My Country, Please Return it?

I haven’t been on here in a while, but I’m feeling the need to vent, so here goes!   Jane

I have lost my country.  It happened without my knowing it, maybe while I was sleeping.   I didn’t ever imagine it could happen.  But it’s gone.

The country I’m talking about is the United States of my youth.  It seems to me that once there was a country that tried to live by a moral code, seemed to try to treat people decently, cared something about human rights.  That country inspired me in my childhood, when the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were passed, and I got a glimpse of it it again more recently, when we elected Obama.Image result for signing of the civil rights act

Image result for images of Obama being elected

I know it’s never been fully here, at least not the country I imagine in my head.  In my fantasy country, the Statue of Liberty welcomes all immigrants, we openly acknowledge that the foundation of our economy was slavery and we try to make reparations for it, our system offers equal opportunity to everyone to build wealth, every student has access to a free college education, and every person can get quality health care.  I know that country has never existed, but I used to feel comforted by the fact that there were a lot of people out there in positions of power and leadership holding that vision of a country in their heads and working hard every day to try to make it a reality.

I’m not so sure any more.

I’ve been feeling lately like it must have been kidnapped by hooligans.

How else can we explain the new rise in white supremacy groups?

Or our lack of any sensible gun laws?

Or Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court?

Or cuts in funding for Medicaid?

Or a rapist and liar in the White House?

Or, worst of all, those camps full of children on our southern border?

Image result for images of child detention camps

It makes me so sad that I have to turn off the radio and stop listening to the news.  It makes me want to move to a country that has a heart and a head, like Canada or New Zealand.

The fallout from this kidnapping of my country is so much damage to so many people that I don’t see how things will ever turnaround.  The ransom note we will have to pay is too high. So much trauma inflicted on those children.  So much harm to our governmental institutions by a president and his bully boys and girls who could care less about our system of government and just want to make a profit, tell lies, strut their stuff, look tough. So many nuclear bombs being manufactured in Iran.

All I want is to be able to hold my head high again and say proudly, “I’m American,” instead of cringing at the site of the flag waving.  I want a country that isn’t perfect but at least tries to treat people fairly, that doesn’t only reward the rich, that fights to hold down its racist tendencies, that doesn’t cavort with dictators, that joins with other countries to work to prevent climate collapse.

I want America back!

So, I’m begging you:  please, someone out there, find my country and bring it home!

On Hearing Christine Blasey Ford Speak the Whole Truth

Jane and Anita
Jane and Anita

So, it has taken me a while to come back to the blog, but sometimes life just compels you to rant. When I met the amazing and powerful Anita Hill a few years ago after her visit to Asheville sponsored by  “Our Voice” (www.ourvoicenc.org), the wonderful local organization that “serves all individuals in Buncombe County affected by sexual assault and abuse,”  I had a feeling that I could relax a little because things were getting better, that we were actually learning from the past and moving into a brighter future for women in this country

I no longer feel that way.  Especially not this week.  All I feel is sad and angry and frustrated and overwhelmed by the power of persistent white male privilege.  So, forgive me for ranting, but  here is my take on things.  And I really don’t care if it is a poem or not.  I just care that it says what I feel!

Christine and Anita

On Hearing Christine Blasey Ford

Where is the one-piece swimsuit

To shield her today

From his smirking, roaring

Privilege?

I went to Yale!

They promised!

Don’t you cross me, bitch!

 

She sits there,

facing the worst,

acknowledging her own losses,

even smiling at her legislators,

remaining proudly

who she is.

“I’m sorry.  What does exculpatory mean?”

She waits for them

to welcome her

into a civic process.

 

But the rules of this game

were set long before

She picked up the phone

To do the right thing.

For her country,

For these old white men

And sad white women

Who do not deserve her.

 

We do not deserve her.

 

The row of stone faces is immutable,

but inside they cringe

in the face of

one woman’s indivisible

truth;

they shrivel in

Inadequacy.

She wasn’t supposed to be this

believable.

She’s not playing the game.

Somebody get a hook!

 

They pretend to listen,

Until, bursting blood vessels

Of righteous indignation and fear,

They welcome him back

to the chair.

So much better.

So much safer here

Under the warmth of his anger,

His crocodile tears,

The world they know and love,

Brett’s world!

After all, they worked their buns off

(and some other people’s)

To get here!

They can’t let their sons down!

I like beer. We all like beer.

What’s the score?

How many beers?

How many Devil’s Triangles?

How big is your

gavel?

Am I really a Senator?

Wait a minute!

Did you pass out from drinking in college?

I don’t know.  Did you?

 

So, the whole lot of them,

The smug, confident, fading specters,

Decide

To refuse

to remember

that they have daughters.

And where are their wives?

Crying silently at home

Over sappy, romantic movies?

 

The entire reigning party–

Every last one of them,

Including a few scared plantation ladies,

Clutching for dear life to their own

Scratched-out crumbs of power,

Lacks the imagination

To weep for someone else’s daughter,

Or remember Anita Hill.

Not one of them

Has the living, breathing

guts

To move one step away

From this darkening world,

Where Trump is king,

And we have all tumbled

Down the rabbit hole.

 

How much courage would it take

To hear her?

How much

to say “This matters.”

Just one, maybe two people.

That’s all we need

To let a few million women,

Clinging by their fingernails

To the country

they used to believe in,

breathe out.

Instead of, once again,

The boot in the face,

The powerful punch in the gut:

“Frankly, Scarlett,

We don’t give a damn.”

 

 

 

 

In Memory of Gwendie Camp: 1941-2016

Gwendie in the cloudsOops 50 lost a dear friend last week, when Gwendie Camp finally succumbed to the cancer that cast a shadow over her life for nine years.  When first diagnosed, she was told she had very little time left, maybe six months to a year.  Nine years later, she died.  If there was ever a model for how to keep living with grace in the face of certain death, it was our Gwendie.  During those nine years, she lived life to the fullest: damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.  She moved from Asheville to Florida, to be closer to her son, Jonathan, and his family, especially her darling granddaughter, Daisy.  She used her amazing brain to research all her treatment options, and she was willing to try anything to take a chance on getting better.  She worked with Jonathan on a small business out of her apartment in Florida, selling books online.  She even started her own ETSY site to sell the little knickknacks she had accumulated over the years.  She wrote insightful pieces for her own blog and for us. She had several of those pieces published. She celebrated birthdays with enjoyment and food.  She played her grand piano.  She enjoyed her cats. She visited with friends and family.  She laughed with her friends.  She kept her fabulous sense of humor right to the end. In June of 2010, she even took a ride with her friend, Barb, in a hot air balloon and shared the experience with our readers. This picture from that day sums up Gwendie’s approach to life, and it is how we imagine her now, floating somewhere up in the clouds, happy to be experiencing a new adventure, smiling and smiling.  As a last tribute to our dear friend, we are sharing her obituary with our readers, so that you get a full view of this amazing, wonderful woman.

To read some of Gwendie’s wonderful contributions to this blog, just type Gwendie into the Search button!  I especially like the piece from May 7, 2010 about her grandbaby! Jane

The body of Martha Gwendolyn Roberts Duncan Camp, known to all as “Gwendie,”  breathed its last on Thursday, April 7, 2016 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, in the presence of several loved ones. The essence of Gwendie escaped to the unknown and unfathomable, available now to us through memories, photographs,  her writings, and various of her “precious things.”

Gwendie was born on July 3, 1941 in Ft. Pierce, Florida to Minnie Lou Hunter Roberts, a farmer’s daughter, and Joseph Lee Roberts, Jr., a fisherman’s son, and thus was raised with a love of and appreciation for Mother Nature. She was also raised to be honest and true, hard-working and generous, and with a love for reading and music.  Despite the modest amounts of money and opportunity available to her, Gwendie was encouraged and mentored by teachers and others who saw to it that she could go to Florida State University with assistance from the Southern Scholarship Foundation.  Due partly to the era in which Gwendie attended college, and mostly to her egalitarian instincts, she left FSU with a strong commitment to civil rights and to “women’s liberation.”  (She still regrets that the ERA amendment to the Constitution never passed.)  Both of these passions played into the choices she made later in life and into the people she chose as friends.

Serendipity often seemed present in Gwendie’s life, especially in relation to her education (BS, MS, PhD from Florida State University), her professional careers (science educator, medical school administrator, educational ambassador for problem-based learning, to mention several) and her geography (Fort Pierce, Tallahassee, Iowa City, Winston-Salem, Galveston, Asheville, Ft. Lauderdale, to cite the long stays).  In her retirement, the discovery of her ability to tell a story in writing stemmed from her chance reading in the newspaper of a special course on writing for “women of a certain age.”  (See examples at her blog:  www.gwendiesblog.blogspot.com).

Her earlier training and experiences were useful in her last years as she learned to live with metastatic breast cancer and the consequences of its treatment.  Her ability to adapt and adjust was admired by many, and she was willing to accommodate to the disease until she could no longer live comfortably and independently.  That is when she let go and let Mother Nature have her way.

Gwendie is survived by her beloved son, Jonathan Hunter Camp (Irena Kandel), and granddaughter Daisy Leona Camp, of Ft. Lauderdale, FL; her sister Mary Roberts Landgraf (John) of Orlando, FL, her niece Kimberly Landgraf of Boulder, CO, ex-husband Larry Camp of Tallahassee, FL, step-daughter D’Laine Camp of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, step-son David Camp of Barcelona, Spain, an aunt and numerous cousins, most of whom are Florida natives.  She also leaves behind a large number of far-flung friends, including international friends made during her professional career and a special crew of women friends in her favorite spot – Asheville, NC.

Gwendie suggested that, if desired, memorial donations be made to the Southern Scholarship Foundation, 322 Stadium Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32304.

 

I Talked to My Mother This Week

It has been a while since our readers have heard anything from us!  Sorry!  We hope to do better in 2016. First -time grandmotherhood for Jane and a job change for Annice made things a little crazy!I  But, here we go again!  Welcome back to Oops50, which should really be called Oops60 at this point, but we are fond of the original name!  Here’s Jane’s first post for the new year.  And, please, send us your posts!

Jane
Jane

I talked to my mother the other day.  The only reason that is worth mentioning is that my mother is dead. Here is how it happened.  I was driving by myself on a fairly long road trip—the perfect circumstance for me to think too much about things that are worrying me—and I realized that I was feeling overwhelmingly sad.  I just had one of those awful, down-to-your-toes sadnesses, and the first thought that came in my head was “I wish I could talk to Mama right now.”  That thought made me even sadder because one thing I miss more than anything since her death is the ability to pick up the phone and talk to her about things—bad and good—that happen in my life.  But then, I had this thought:  ‘why not just talk to her now?’  And then I entered this very strange place where I imagined myself dialing her number (since most of my conversations with her happened over our land line and not by cell phone!), and then I had a conversation with her.

First, I apologized for not calling in so long, and then I launched right in to telling her about everything that was on my mind. And, the next thing you know, I was crying—just like the old days.  I talked and talked and cried and cried, about every last little thing that was bothering me, and as I talked and cried, I felt the muscles around my heart start to loosen up, and I could feel myself start to breathe a little easier, and I realized how much tension and worry I had been holding in.  And then—and this is the really remarkable thing about it—I felt that tremendous sense of release and relief that I used to feel when Mama would say something as basic as “I hate for you to be feeling this way, darling” or, her standard, “Get some rest, and I know you will feel better.”  It was as if Mama, from across the miles and years and clouds or whatever is between us had said, “Everything is going to be all right,” and, wonder of wonders, I believed her.  And, for the rest of the day—and even now, a few days later, I’m still feeling the effect. 

My family of origin!  Mama's in the middle, with me to her left.
My family of origin! Mama’s in the middle, with me to the left, back row.

I have to say:  I’m glad I was on a road trip when this happened and not driving down a street of my town.  No one could see me or overhear me, so they couldn’t accuse me of losing my mind and hanging out with ghosts.  But I had this urge to share this experience on the blog because I highly recommend it to those of you have a mother who has moved on to her reward:  give her a call sometime!

The Tile: A Wonderful Help to Absent-Minded People!!!

Jane in Africa 2012

Today I am going to write in praise of a wonderful new invention: the Tile. We received several of these for Christmas from my friend Nancy, who looks out for me and likes to make my life better. She figured that our family of ADD-sufferers could use some help in finding things. The Tile is a wonderful invention that you can stick in your wallet or on your keychain or your laptop, and then you can use your I-phone to locate those things when you lose them! We put one Tile in my husband’s wallet and one on my office keys and one on the car keys, and it has helped us through several crises lately. We have avoided yelling and panicking when we were late for a critical meeting and have just calmly gone to Tom’s I-phone and found out the location of the item (it uses GPS technology and a loud beeping sound).
Here is a link: https://www.thetileapp.com/

And here’s a picture, close to the actual size:

the tile1

 

 

 

 

There is only one problem with the Tile: what happens if you lose your I-phone?