Respect: Have it. Use it.

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I haven’t written in weeks, perhaps months. I fear if I take my time and really think this through, my life will pull me away from the post, and it will remain (like so many others) in draft form. So I am sharing a stream of conscious with you. While I will try to write correctly and coherently, I am not trying to win any grammar awards or accolades with this post. In advance, I extend my apologies to the grammar police.

My name is Lenore, and I watch Big Brother. That fact is tough to admit, because my husband despises reality television – and when he finds me watching Big Brother (or Survivor), he expresses his displeasure with my choice of shows to watch, over and over again.

I’m not here to defend the time I waste spend watching Big Brother, instead I am here to applaud the producers/editors of Big Brother for showing what appears to be more complete conversations between the houseguests vs. the typical sound bites shared in the show. Plus, I am here to share my thoughts regarding racism and general lack of respect.

Surely you are in the know, right? Surely you are aware of the fact that there is at least one houseguest within the Big Brother house unafraid to share her feelings about the people around her. Specifically, this houseguest will openly disrespect her black and gay co-houseguests.

(Side note: Am I the only person to find sick irony/coincidence with the fact that this houseguest’s name is Aaryn? Her name is so very close to “Aryan”, as in the Aryan Nation.)

My friends will tell you – my black friends, Indian friends, Armenian friends, Jewish friends, white friends, etc. – I like to be of the opinion that racism does not exist. I like to be of the opinion that we all get along far better than the media implies. Alas, Aaryn’s behavior has made it difficult for me to “unsee” the truth that exists.

So, in addition to admitting I watch Big Brother, I will also admit that racism exists. HOWEVER, the bigger issue, in my humble opinion, is a lack of respect. Regardless of your race, religion, creed, nationality, stature, weight, hair color, etc., individuals seem to spew disrespect towards anyone that is different and/or disagrees with whatever is being said or done. Outward differences seem more easily overlooked when folks are in agreement with one another.

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Ducking to avoid all that will be tossed my way, I ask: Isn’t calling someone a dumb blonde similar to stereotyping a redneck or black person?  Easy. Easy. Yes, I understand – the history that exists between whites, blacks, slavery, and segregation makes the disrespect deeply personal and more hurtful. I get it, and I agree completely.

But…

At one point, Aaryn dismissed her lack of respect by saying her housemates call her a dumb blonde and judge her by her looks all the time.

Okaaay. So that makes it right? Heck no. HECK no.

But…

When we peel away the layers, isn’t it within our nature to pick on those different from us? Isn’t it within our nature to pull from stereotypes?

I realize the above statement may sound like I am defending Aaryn. I am not defending her. I am suggesting we are becoming desensitized to the lack of respect that is spreading like a bad rash.

The line between being funny and being hurtful is blurred and growing wider until – BAM – we are hit in the face with something that seemingly caught us off guard.

We are becoming more and more disrespectful as the years go by.  And, as my friends probably expect me to say- I blame part of this on social media and the no-filter and knee-jerk responses that fill Facebook and Twitter.

I won’t discuss the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman story, except to say that Trayvon’s friend who testified at the trial made me cringe when she used the word “cracker”. That word disgusts me, because it reminds me of the horrific treatment of the slaves. I am not a “cracker”, but because I am white and living in the South – it is a word someone could call me if they were mad or looking to hurt me. Dare I say, for those whites born after slavery, the word is as hurtful to us as the “n” word is to blacks. Both words conjure up an awful piece of history. Both words should be buried once and for all. As long as both words exist and are used in hate or in play (between people of the same race), an ongoing division will continue as a side-effect.

Can we get rid of “bitch”, too? I cannot stand how freely that word is used.

Folks, we lack respect for history, respect for elders, respect for families, respect for people, etc. We lack respect. Period.

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To the producers/editors of Big Brother I say “Thank you.” Thank you for bringing the reality of racism and disrespect into the homes of millions of viewers. May we walk away from this with a greater awareness of the need for respect, and may we provide the respect all people deserve.

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This morning during breakfast, my 8yr old asked me a question. Unfortunately, I don’t remember his question, but I do remember the dialogue that it sparked.

“You know, Joe. There was a time when blacks and whites
were forced to – “

“I know. I know. Blacks couldn’t do the same things whites could. I know this already.”
“Okay. Well, sadly there are some people that still have those ideas.
And –“

“Stop, Mom. You’re embarrassing me. I know all this.”
“Just promise me you will never treat someone differently because they look one way or another.”
“Mom! You know I won’t.”

I’ll make sure to continue to embarrass Joe (and Charlie) as they get older. Their embarrassment with my reminders is a small price to pay to know they will not judge a person’s outer-appearance. After all, they always show me respect, and I wear socks with sandals and flip-flops.

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Cursive handwriting – the new hieroglyphics

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The family gathered in the living room waiting for our nephew to start opening his birthday cards and presents. He opened his first card and read it aloud. When he got to the handwritten sentiment, he had to pass it to someone else to read. “I can’t read cursive.” He said.

What?! What did my 14yr old nephew say? He can’t read cursive? What?!

Seeing my shock, my sister-in-law said, “They don’t teach cursive in school anymore.” Continue reading

Help Yourself

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How many self-help books do you own? Need a minute to go count the collection you’ve created over the years? Or, have you passed your books along to others?

Lately, I seem drawn to book after book, promising me a better life. Please, don’t misunderstand me, I love my life. Still, with so many books within reach touting a better life – well, color me interested.

I think I am still coming off the “Eat, Pray, Love” thing. I never read the book. (Why does admitting to not having read the book take me back to my high school days and Cliff Notes?) I did – you knew this was coming – see the movie. And, though the movie wasn’t great, I find myself thinking about the messages portrayed in the movie. I have been accessing my library’s website daily, to see if a copy of the book is available. Hang on, I’ll check now . . . ARGH! Still unavailable.

Self-help books are destroying me. My over-analytical ways are only encouraged by the countless books out there claiming to help me. Who says I need help, anyway? Hush. I heard that.

“I’ll have to try that.” I hear myself say that statement time and time again, during conversations with friends and family. We are always offering our advice about this or that; assuming how we were helped will fit nicely and neatly in another person’s life. Though really, we’re all different.

Though written words and another person’s experience may inspire, I find more insight and inspiration by doing the most simple tasks. For example, when I am making and packing my son’s lunch for school, I find a peace making his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Sometimes, I get lost in the spreading of jelly across the peanut butter, attempting to cover the peanut butter perfectly, while creating an artful spread of jelly.

I find self-help in the calming (and yummy) scent of freshly made cinnamon toast. I find self-help in looking out my living room window and catching a glimpse of a deer running through the yard. I find self-help in sitting down with Joe, mesmerized while he reads to me from the books he brings home from school. To me, self-help is easily attainable when you grab hold of the good moments in life. And, when the bad moments hit, well – perhaps that is when the books are helpful. The books give us something to read through, escaping our momentary feeling of madness, until the dust settles and we see the good again. Perhaps we’re not looking for answers in the book, as much as we are looking for a diversion.

I’m not in a state of madness at the moment. Although, if you know me, you know this could change at any second. Still, as I continue to wait for a copy of “Eat, Pray, Love”, I find myself becoming obsessed with the countless self-help books being released daily. With so much help available, I may need to find a self-help book on how to learn to need more help. And, to make non-significant matters worse, next week begins the last season of Oprah. ACK! Oprah’s last season!

I wonder how many books will be released helping folks deal with Oprah’s final show: “Oprah: How to Live After the Show Ends”. Hmm . . .  Anyway, I’ll continue to check the status of “Eat, Pray, Love’ at my the library; and, in the meantime, I’m willing to bet I could find a self-help book to help me deal with my obsession of self-help books.

How often do you argue with each other?

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Recently, Rob and I had words. ‘Had words’. That phrase cracks me up. Some people have a problem with the words ‘argue’ or ‘fight’, so they try to lessen the negativity (I suppose) by saying they ‘had words’. Call it whatever you’d like, Rob and I had an argument. We fought.

The fact that we fought was a bit of a buzz kill, as we had a fantastic morning and early afternoon. And, I suppose one might say (accurately) the reason for the fighting was because we were both tired, due to the fun but long day. Regardless of the why, Rob and I butted heads and got upset. Though we came to a truce before we went to bed, it was clear this morning that some negative energy still existed between us.

When we were done with breakfast, the boys went outside to play, and Rob and I stayed at the table and started talking about the argument. Rob said, “I am shocked by how much we fight.” Because I am accustomed to the arguing, I joked, “Well, how long will it take for you to stop being shocked?”

I believe we argue as much and no more than the average married couple, and Rob believes we argue more than the average married couple. My views come, in part, because my parents fought and argued. And Robs views come, in part, because his parents did not fight and argue. Hence, our squabbles seem abnormal to Rob and normal to me.

Unless you are new to my blog, you (the reader) know my marriage has struggled for the past several years. I started the blog in hopes of finding an outlet for myself, so I wouldn’t look to Rob as having sole responsibility for keeping me happy. And, the blog has helped me a great deal. I also believe the blog has helped my marriage, because it gives Rob a greater insight to the mania that exists inside of me.

If you read this blog and you are married (or in a long-term relationship), I hope you’ll take a moment to leave a comment and let me know how often you argue and fight with your partner. And, tell me, do you believe you can deeply love someone with whom you fight? One may not always like his/her partner, but are there times when one doesn’t ‘love’ his/her partner? And, is the love/hate directly related to arguments?

Different and Opinionated

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Today is an active weather day, here in the Southern US. Days like today fill me with excitement, curiosity and wonder. It is a dream of mine to become a storm chaser, if only for a day. Weather has always fascinated me, and I suspect it will continue to fascinate me until my dying day.

As I keep tabs on the radar, my weather radio and the skies, I am also aware of the fact that we are all different, and we all have our own passions. Weather is one of many passions for me. It’s a safe passion, in the sense that talking about weather rarely ignites heated debates or controversy. But, I have other passions. And, my other passions do ignite heated debates, controversy and even annoyance. (Then again, perhaps I am annoying – period.)

One day I’d like to write a book. There are many authors out there who make a living writing humorous books about their opinion of this, that and the other. Folks who agree with the authors may find the books entertaining and worth reading. Folks who do not agree with the author may find the books annoying and idiotic. Actually, folks who do not agree with the author may avoid the books entirely.

By blogging, I hope to humorously spark something within the readers. Even those who read just one of my entries and never come back, mean something to me; because, what I wrote either sent them away (perhaps for good) or tweaked their interest to read more posts. Though I’d like to tweak everyone’s interest, I know I have the power to annoy, and I’m OK with that power. (I do wish I could find a nifty costume to go with the power of annoyance.)

I watch the stats tied to my blog. I’m certainly not the most read blog in the blogosphere, but I do get hits; and, I think that counts for something, though for what I’m not sure. And, I find blogging has similarities with Facebook, as Facebook users often use their status to express a random thought or opinion. Plus, one may post an article they found interesting on his/her Wall. I find it interesting to see which posts receive the greatest responses. In addition, I find it interesting to see which posts are ignored.

A couple of days ago, I posted an article on Facebook about a South Park episode that triggered a response from a radical Muslim group in New York City. If you are interested in the New York Times article, click here. Not surprisingly, many people didn’t respond to the post. And, those who did respond ended up debating the abortion issue, which was off the mark, topic-wise. Still, this South Park thing concerns me greatly. I was pleased to come across Jon Stewart’s take on it, and I encourage you to take a look, too. [Jon Stewart Show, South Park]

I don’t have a problem with being different or opinionated. Quite the contrary, I believe differences lead to enlightenment and being opinionated leads to dedication. (Leads to dedication? Dedication to stubbornness? Anyway . . .) Thank goodness for the men and women of our country who are opinionated enough to fight for this country. And, maybe I contradict myself when I mention folks fighting for our country, while mentioning I am bothered by radical groups fighting in the name of their religion. Still, being threatened because of a cartoon makes no sense to me.

I have my own strong religious beliefs, but I am not going to kill someone for depicting symbols of my faith in a comical and perhaps disrespectful manner. Nor am I going to remain silent when I have a strong opinion about something. But, as I tell my boys, I will use words (very loudly) not hands. And, as trite as it may sound, hands are for helping not for hurting. (However, if you are going to take some of my ice cream, please don’t be shocked if I pop your hand. We all have our limits, eh?)

I believe the reaction by one radical group over a South Park episode is cause for alarm. In part, because it was over a CARTOON and the threatening undertone came from folks on our soil. As Jon Stewart noted, the warning came under the shadows of the World Trade Towers – rather, where the shadows of the, now collapsed, Towers once covered. America is a melting pot, and Americans share in the freedom of religion and the freedom to be free of religion. We are all able to speak our mind on views that matter to us, and we have used our voices non-violently for centuries.

Though my fear probably would have resulted in the same action, I’m sorry Comedy Central decided to censor the original South Park episode. Moreover, it makes me mad the radical group threatened Matt and Trey. Why not call for a boycott or peaceful picketing? It makes me sick how extremists, regardless of the faith or cause they represent, ruin it for those of us who like to play together nicely in the sandbox, even when we disagree. Now, please excuse me. I have to get back to the weather, because there is a storm front approaching and I want to go chase it.