HampoLand

rainbow

Why I’m A LibTard

This morning I went to the polls and asked for a Democratic ticket. Because I live in rural Arkansas a lot of folks are shocked when I’m willing to make that admission. So, I wanted to lay out just a few of the reasons I generally vote as a democrat.

  1. I strongly support feeding kids breakfast and lunch at school and providing free after school programs.  These things are constantly on the chopping block and that frightens me.  I’ve known too many kids who literally don’t have food at home and school meals are just about the only thing they can depend on. The same can be said for Senior Feeding programs.  It is our moral duty to take care of the vulnerable. This administration doesn’t really seem to agree.
  2. I’m a hard core environmental voter, maybe because I have four kids and want to leave them something beautiful here on our precious blue and green planet.  I want to protect the gulf of Mexico, the Arctic, the National Parks, whales, coral reefs, bees and  the Buffalo River. I could go on.  I think coal and fracking are  dangerous and filthy.   I understand this may cost jobs but it’s a sacrifice I am willing to make.  We are smart and I believe can find ways to create jobs without threatening the environment. I’m a big fan of Capitalism but I believe we can do better.
  3. I believe in global Warming and fully support alternative energy like  solar and wind.
  4. God gave us a beautiful planet and I think it’s a sin to abuse and deface it.
  5. I like guns, I own guns. But I don’t think any civilian should own assault style fire arms. No body but the military should be able to kill 20 people in one minute.
  6. “Tough on Crime” sounds wonderful but has put far too many young black men in our prisons for minor offenses. This costs tax payers billions of dollars and is often times not effective. I’ve seen first hand white people get much lighter sentences than black people. I believe the  system is rigged to benefit the wealthy and the white.
  7. I think regulation to protect consumers are good.
  8. Gay people don’t threaten me or my family and I believe they should have equal rights to marry whom ever they like.  And God loves gay folks the same way he loves me, flaws and all.
  9. Cuba, swing those doors open.  Cutting them off hasn’t worked for 50 years.  Also, opening trade with Cuba is great for the Arkansas farmers.
  10. I support DACCA, give them a path to citizenship. Don’t be cruel, they were kids.
  11. Some of my more liberal friends would probably suggest I’m too hawkish because I believe in a strong Military and I like guns. but there you go. We’re all different. I could add to this list but I think I’ve made my point.  One last thing.  conservative talk show hosts like Rush, Glen and Chris constantly state that liberals are “angry, hateful and don’t love America, despise Capitalism, don’t believe in God and want to take ALL YOUR GUNS.”  That’s just not true.

Because I’m A Middle Age White Lady

Last week I competed in a Poetry Slam and out of 15 poets I came in 15th! Dead last! But we had a great time, Sandor decided he likes Slam Poetry at 15 and some folks have contacted me cause they actually liked my poems.
So here you go…

Middle Age White Lady

When my sons are pulled over by the police, late at night, I’ve never been worried
Because I am a middle age white lady … and they are my blue eyed sons.

When I wander aimlessly through the Dollar Store
Suspicious cashiers never follow me
Never wait for me to shove a bag of Funyuns in my pants.
They don’t study my enormous purse as I check out,
Because I am a Middle Age White lady.

My children go to a wonderful redneck public school with soooo much money.
My kids get all kinds of lavish opportunities from their school district
They March on a million dollar AstroTurf football field

Because they are the children of a middle age white lady.

Because I have several bank accounts and credit cards,
a responsible amount of debt
I pay thousands of dollars less for my cars. Thousands!
Because I am a middle age white lady.

300 years ago, when my ancestors came to America
They were searching for freedom and opportunity… Fortune and adventure

It’s easier to be me, much easier, I guess. Because white privlidge does exist.
And those who say it’s not a real thing are morons and in denial.
My family is safer, we have glorious opportunities ….. because I am.
Just because I am.

And here’s the second poem…It’s a true story. I didn’t get to read it at the Poetry Slam because even a 10 year old girl in a unicorn shirt got a better score than I did.  But I think that was just the “cute vote.”

This one is called

Bad First Wife

In front of a food truck on Park Avenue you slap my husband on the back.
“Good to see you Buddy”

Hold up a minute! 30 years ago you slept with my husbands first wife.
In his house….in his bed…and now you two are back slapping buddies?.
Instead of backstabbing acquaintances?

He’s supposed to forget all about what you did to him ….or her…in their bed.
He burned that mattress you know…that’s how pissed he was.

What happened to the cold cone of silence?
Listen, Because you slept with his first wife they got a divorce 29 years ago!

Damn it. You’ve aged well and you’ve still got that ruggedly handsome thing going on.
And you’re actually kind of charming.

But you’re the reason they got divorced.
And then I met him.

Well…we’ve had a pretty good run for almost 25 years.
The mortgage on the house is paid off.
Four spectacular kids… full college scholarships.
We just got a glorious new bathtub installed …it’s pretty fantastic.
And after all these years of marriage we still actually like each other…we have fun.

30 years of silence…30 years…that’s a really long time.

And this is a very small town.

I nudge my husband with my elbow, in front of the food truck on Park Avenue.
And he says…“I’m doing all right. It’s good to see you, man.”

Dear John Prine

This morning, I cried so hard, listening to the new John Prine album, the Tree of Forgiveness,  I ran a red light and had to pull over. Mascara rolled down my face. It’s his first new album in 13 years and it’s a dandy. His songs are still beautiful, silly and heartbreaking,  John Prine is the cheerful and melancholy Dr. Seuss of the music world.

I started listening to John Prine when his first album came out in the 70’s. I was thirteen. My big brother Jack who was a freshman in college was a huge fan. He had a beat up pick-up and we’d roll down the windows and howl along to every song.  Two years latter both my dad and Jack died suddenly, two weeks apart and for several years John Prine’s voice, his messages and emotions,were just about  the only music I could tolerate.  His broken voice and sad, goofy songs some how  duct taped my heart for a little bit,  until it began to heal on it’s own.

In the beginning most of John Prine’s songs were really sad. But every album he has grown more hopeful, his view of life has evolved.  The world, I think, used to hurt his soul, now he seems amused and charmed by this planet and her inhabitants.

Over the years I’ve tried to meet John Prine, but it’s never meant to be and that’s ok.  I talk to him in my head sometimes.  Today, I imagined telling him about the two Mennonite men I saw this morning with long beards, big hats and antique hats and they were vaping.

My son Jack is a songwriter in Nashville, he grew up listening to John Prine and the influence is obvious. Jack is taking me to see Mr. Prine live next weekend in a little venue in Nashville. I don’t need to meet him anymore, but if I did I’d tell him I’m happy he’s happy. He wasn’t always. And I’m so glad we’re both still alive. That’s takes a lot of work sometimes. I’d thank him for Jack’s songs because they bring me joy and make me proud. I’d thank him so staying with me all these years.

I was still listening to Tree of Forgiveness when I got to work. I parked, turned off the car and the music stopped suddenly. And that med me cry all over again.

 

Jack and Eddie too me to see John Prine ten years ago.

 

 

Middle School Mean Girls

Last week I accidentally bought a novel…written for children. I decided to read it anyway. Here’s the plot: a 12 year old girl is going into middle school and suddenly (well over the course of a couple of months), her very best friend in the world turns into a Middle School Mean Girl. She becomes popular with the “popular kids”. It’s a heartbreaking story with an uplifting end.

I knew my friend Amy, who is a DJ on one of the stations I work for, had daughters. So, I gave her the plot synopsis and asked if her girls would enjoy it.

“This must be a God thing,” Amy said. Then told me about her beautiful daughter who is going though almost the exact same situation.

Her story killed me because I remember so well, struggling though middle school with my oldest daughter. She had a few wonderful friends for several years, then they all turned on her. We never figured out why. But my girl spent a couple of years in my pocket and miserable. Her former friends were saying all kinds of stuff, about her. They said she was ugly, fat, gay, stupid, a slut and she wasn’t Christian. One of the reasons we took her out of that school was to get away from her old friends.

Every week in restaurants, at the pool, in Walmart I hear middle school girls talk to their parents in a way that is shockingly mean and hateful. The parents just laugh it off, they don’t think their girls are serious. They tell themselves “it’s just a game, or a phase she’ll grow out of”. But they know, in their hearts, they never spoke to their parents that way.

Boys are gross and annoying, they make fart jokes and fall out of booths at restaurants, but they don’t sigh and roll their eyes at their parents, as though warning them to keep their mouth shut. I swear sometimes it looks like the parents are hostages.

So what’s the deal with so many Middle School mean girls? Why do some turn cruel and ugly? Why do they quite caring about old friends and focus on popularity and good hair?

Boys  might get in a fight with their friend, they might even try to beat him up…but they generally don’t get catty, cruel and start spreading rumors.

I think parents might be part of the problem.
We tell our daughters they are beautiful and can be anything from an astrophysicist to pop star, we tell our daughters they are strong, not to be kept down by anyone. We tell our daughters they can accomplish anything. We put our daughters waaaay up on a pedestal, we buy them the very best “high horse” And they listen. they believe us, the believe they are better than other girls, that they are smarter and prettier. We drill this stuff into their heads CONSTANTLY, and so do tv stations, songs on the radio even public service announcements.

But do we ever tell them to be kind? Do we tell and teach them to empathize? Do we tell them to be sweet and nice. No, because those virtues are seen as weakness. I’m thinking back and I don’t think I ever had conversations like that with my girls. I’m sure I hoped they would see their family being nice to folks and get the idea…but I don’t think that’s enough. The truth is, some of our daughters are turning into bitches, right in front of us.

Moms, I’m putting this on your shoulders. I suspect most of us know when our daughters has turned that corner and become a mean girl. But very few of us are willing to own and correct the bad and hurtful behavior. We are too excited our daughter is “popular”. We can’t forsce them to be friends with another girl but we can absolutely demand and make sure they are kind. We need to tell our kids we disapprove of cruel behavior and then demonstrate kindness , everyday, in front of them.

And consider this, when we are all old and dealing with health issues and trying to stay in our own homes , when we need help with everyday life and desperately want someone to treat you kindly and with dignity, chances are our mean ass daughter will be in charge.

Sweetness, kindness and compassion are not weaknesses. They are virtues that make all of us stronger.

A Beautiful Sad Day,,,,,

Cute fluffy white Havanese dog portrait

There is a beautiful and fluffy little designer dog who trots around my office building all week long. His name is Riley. Typically, he wears a scarf, he’s freshly groomed, has adorable brown eyes and endless lashes, and if you have food….Riley loves you.

I’ve known this little man for years. And he’s my best buddy only when I carry fast food into the radio station. Then he’ll sit up, staring at me lovingly, FOR HOURS, until I toss him a French fry or piece of beef. If I give him lettuce he doesn’t love me. If I don’t have food, Riley doesn’t even bother coming in my office. I bitch about Riley all the time because he’s shallow and not very loyal but he’s beautiful and smart.

Today, I learned this lovely little masterpiece of a dog has cancer and he only has a few weeks to live. Today, he walked around the building all day , but he looked so sad and tired and very thin. We can’t give him snacks now because he just throws up. Everybody in the office is sad. He is part of our family.

Two hours after the bad news about Riley, Renee, who I’ve worked with for years and years answered her cell. Something was wrong. She yelled, “Tell Neil my neighbor died and I’ve gotta go help.” Neal is our boss. Latter I learned an 80 year old neighbor served her 82 year old husband a cup of potato soup. He coughed and she thought he was choking. She found a napkin for her husband of 60 years. But he died right there in the dining room, not from chocking, it was just time.

The wife wouldn’t let go of her husband on the floor and the coroner had arrived. Renee sat on the floor for hours crying with her neighbor.

The truth is, and we all know this, everything that is born…dies. One hundred percent.

I don’t’ know if I told you this but when I was sixteen my Dad died suddenly of a heart attack. He was 52. A couple of weeks latter my brother Jack was killed. He was 24 and in college. At the time he was in love with a girl named Carrie and had three big fluffy dogs.

My mom was so heartbroken she killed herself a couple of years latter. Mom and Dad had been together since 3rd grade. It was just too hard for my mom to be without him.

I was mad at God for a while, sad and upset.  But he’s since given me a family that is unbelievably beautiful and magical.  My four kids really really love each other….all the time.  Nothing is better than that

Everyday things come and go. Dogs, cats, favorite restaurants, video stores, friends and family….they are suddenly gone. Trees get chopped down, houses burn up, books and lovely pieces of jewelry are lost. The guy who argues with you on Facebook but you actually think is clever…he’s gonna go too. So I’m trying to remember to love everything I love, every day. Even cute little dogs that beg too much.

Today take an extra minute to look at your dog, who chew up your patio furniture, the kid down the street who rides his bike in the middle of the street and doesn’t car that he’s in your way, the mean postal lady who gives you the stink eye but makes sure your packages are safe from the dogs.  Sitting through your kids two hour base ball game in the blazing hot sun (and he never gets to play) love those sights and sounds too. These are the things we all love, every day, kind of, love them twice because everything that comes….goes.

Everything that is born, no matter how cute or beautiful….dies. Love it all while you can. And please, remind me to do the same.

I Hate Baseball

I hate baseball. Ok, maybe ‘hate’ is to strong a term. But I don’t really like the game. I can watch completely random football or basketball games on tv or in person and get passionately involved…but baseball? Not so much. It’s boring.

Here’s my problem. My youngest son, Sandor, is in 9th grade and plays baseball for the Ft. Lake Cobras. Purple and white pine stripes all day long. There he is on third base, looking handsome.

I try to be a good mom so we try to make some games, to be supportive. But the games are soooo long, and there are soooo many games. Two or three a week! Typically nobody get’s hurt and it’s hot sitting in the bleachers. Still, we go to games and I yell like a maniac even though I don’t really know the right things to yell. “Take him out!” is one of the wrong things I’ve learned not to yell. Other parents give you stink eye.

Earlier this week Sandor was playing third base and missed a pop fly. Nothing terrible happened because of his bobble but he was really upset with himself.

I really like to fix problems. So, the next day, after work, I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods and bought five baseballs.

I put Sandor in the middle of the yard with his mitt and started hitting balls at him. I was doing ok but I kind of freak out when he throws the balls back to me. The kid throws pretty hard and I catch like a four year old. So, I recruited his dad to catch.

Things were going pretty well until our big dog Aries got involved. Every time I hit a grounder , Sandor had to out maneuver and fight her. If Aries won she trotted back to me with her fluffy tail raised high and gave me the slobber covered ball.

For thirty minutes the four of us played and laughed in the yard until the sun set and it was too dark to see the ball.

Sandor had a game last night and he took care of a grounder easily. He told me all about it at breakfast this morning.

There’s another home game tonight. I’m pretty excited.

It’s All About Choices

Melissa Stringer

I know a young woman, in her early 20s who’s a very serious MMA fighter. She lives to train with her team, and they train hard. They train for hours a day, sometimes two or three times a day. Melissa’s whole world is about taking care of her body, nutrition and fitness.

She’s a pretty girl and typically, when Melissa leaves the gym or says good buy she says, “Make good choices!” in her adorable sing song voice.

I think that might be the smartest thing anyone can tell any of us. Simply “make good choices”. At work and at home. Choose to work a little bit harder, choose to be a better parent, brother or sister. Make good choices when dealing with people, choose to be kind and polite. Choose to be hones and supportive. Those are all good choices.

For teenage boys,I know, this is an hourly battle. Bad ideas explode in their brains like popcorn. And they struggle to learn which bad ideas to latch onto and put into motion and which to ignore because it will no doubt result in a grounding, a ticket or an arrest. They are really smart but they desperately want to pass the slow truck on a curve even though it’s raining. Why not to throw the water balloon at their friend in the living room? Skateboarding down the tile staircase seem like an awesome idea.

Melissa constantly has to make “good choices” or she’ll never be ready for her next fight. It’s all about the decisions she makes.She has to be very, very careful what she eats or she’ll never make weight. When her friends are eating pizza and Oreos she has to go with a protein shake or she’ll never achieve her dream. Like all the fighters she trains with, Melissa has to decide to go to bed early,instead of hanging out with her friends or she can’t train early in the morning.

Adults aren’t above making good and bad choices. I wish I made good choices more often. I wish I’d pay off our car instead of insisting on a vacation. I wish I ate a salad for lunch instead of the giant delicious gnarly brisket burger. I wish I went for a hike with my son and the dog instead of watching The Big Bang rerun for the third time.

But I’ll keep trying. Because there are folks like Melissa out there, reminding me to “make good choices.”

Love Changed My Daughter

My oldest daughter, Mary, was a spectacular kid. But when she was young she was…..well….really really greedy. She laughs about it now, we all do, but when she was six, eight, ten, I was a little concerned.

Mary always wanted more. She idolized, adored her older brother Jack. She literally worshiped him.  Jack was her everything, he even tried to fail first grade so he could be held back a year. He thought he should to stay in Mary’s grad and then he could take care and protect her. Still, Mary would steal Jack’s stuff all day long, even if she didn’t really want it.

Every Easter, for at least seven years, Mary woke up early, studied the baskets the Easter Bunny left, then she put all the good stuff, including chocolate, in her basket. And she filled Jack’s with the cheap candy, do-dads and toys she didn’t want.

She did the same thing with the Christmas stocking. Then she’d shrug and say something like, “I don’t know why Santa likes me better.”

Mary was a beautiful, wonderful, selfish, greedy little kid.

But a few years ago, something changed in Mary’s heart. She met Andy and fell in love…. as she’d never fallen before.

The week after Thanksgiving the texts, emails and facebook messages began. She sent me links to things Andy would love for Christmas. There was a pair of brown Aldo loafers she desperately wanted him to have, but couldn’t afford. A week later she called her dad, to tell him about a saw that would make him so happy.

The “suggestions” went on and on. The girl who stole all the chocolate Easter bunnies’ literally didn’t care what she got for Christmas. She only wanted Andy, the man she loves, to be happy.

Mary told me over and over, “don’t worry about me this year, Andy deserves everything.”

Was this my Mary on the phone? Had some kind of a ”body snatchers” thing happened while she was in the basement?

“Big Love”, the kind of love that makes you forget about yourself, is rare. Lots of folks get married and live together for years and years and years but they never stop thinking about themselves.

Mary has crossed that line and grown into a more beautiful person. She loves Andy so much she places his needs above mine, above the families’, above everything. And she fiercely protective.  Now she chooses Andy, her husband and her love. And that’s the way true love and a marriage are supposed to be. I believe God has given both Mary and Andy a higher job order.  Now, they are supposed to take care of each other. That’s the first requirement and these guys have it right.

I love and admire this new woman she has become. And Andy Stanley is a lucky man.

Four Year Olds, Human or Alien?

I found this story today. I wrote it eleven years ago, before I had a blog.  But it’s still true.

Right now Sandor is racing up and down the house dragging a bull whip, which the cat chasing.  He is laughing hysterically. And I’m pretty sure he’ll run into something soon, hurt himself and cry. He’s been doing this for almost twenty minutes.  He is giddy, rowdy, insane and happy.

In the past hour I put him in time out for jumping off the back of the couch and I fussed at him for being disrespectful.

I read him two books but he kept trying to start a pillow fight. I nearly beg him to hold still, for just a few minutes. but he can’t. I’m so tired from work and frustrated by his energy…I want to cry.

When I try to dress him he scootches and wiggles like a squirrel in a pillow case. At dinner he turns his silverware into drumsticks and action figures.

Sandor is not ADD. He’s four years old. Sometimes four year old are unbelievable annoying and usually that means they are normal.

Some children need medication but most normal children are loud, rowdy, sometimes nearly uncontrollable and frustrating. they seemingly have unreasonable amounts of energy to burn off and simply can’t hold still. It doesn’t seem natural. But it is.

Fifty years ago parents let  kids play outside for hours at a time, even four year old. We had lots of space and parents didn’t have to supervise or watch them all the time. The world was a different place. My parents din’t hear from us until we were hungry, it got dark or we were just too tired to play.

When children came home we were exhausted from riding bikes, jumping out of trees and just running around. When my cousins and I were four, five a six we ran wild for hours on end. We didn’t bug our parents cause we weren’t with them. today, parents and kids spend a lot of time together.

Typically, I pick the kids up from school or pre-school, take them to taekwondo , soccer practice or cheer leading for a couple of hours. I watch them work out and play then we go home and they play while I fix dinner. We eat, I help them take baths, get ready for bed and that’s the day.  We are always together.

There’s good news and bad news. I think my kids and I are a lot closer because we spend more time together.  My folks were rarely around. The downside is my kids wear me out and seem absurdly high strung.  But they are not. Years ago when I was with my cousins, there’s no doubt we were constantly moving, loud, crazy and ridiculous. If any adult had spent hours with us no doubt they would have tried to medicate our entire neighborhood.

Kids have fewer recesses today, then many have structured activities after school, adults are always watching. It’s not wonder kids want to blow off some steam.

So, when Sandor spends two hours hopping like a frog, barking like a dog, yelling new words he’s made up and trying to do somersaults off the couch, I know he’s a normal boy.  That’s what we all did years ago, but our parents weren’t around to tell us to “cut it out”

So, don’t assume your child need medication just because he’s driving your crazy. It’s his job.

 

Author’s note, today Sandor is a awesome 15 year old boy who makes good grades, makes us all proud and still drives us crazy sometimes. Last night we spent a little bit of time with a wonderful 4 year old boy. He did all the stuff Sandor used to do!  All of it! Sandor looked over and said, “I think this kid is my spirit animal.”

 

 

 

Why Girls Don’t Tell

Recently dozens of women across America, have stepped up and admitted to being sexually assaulted, abused or harassed. Most of these women have not said a word for years. And across the country, people are howling “Why didn’t she speak up thirty years ago? Why wait all this time to come forward with sexual misconduct charges?” I know why these women waited and I’m gonna explain it to you.

When I was 12 or 13 years old I went to a pool party with my mother and father, who was an architect. The party was  hosted by a contractor who was building a shopping center my dad designed. They had been working on the project for over a year. There were several other couples there but I was one of only two kids. The other child was a little boy, probably three years old. All the adults sat around the pool with their cocktails while we splashed around in the pool.

At 13, I was skinny and tan with long hair. And on that day I was wearing a purple and gold bikini that I loved. After a while I went inside the contractor’s house to get two glasses of orange juice.

As I opened one of the cabinets for a glass, I felt someone behind me, pushing up against my back and butt. I turned around and it was my dad’s friend, the contractor.

He told me my swimming suit was coming untied and then he started trying to mess with the swim suit strings on the back of my neck. I tried to move away but he blocked me and then started tracing my tan line with his finger tip, from my shoulder down the side of my right breast. When I tried to move away again he  smiled and said, “Don’t you want me to help?”

I ran out of the house and jumped into the sparkling blue pool.

I never told my mom or dad about the incident. I couldn’t understand why a grown-up was acting so weird and gross. And I was afraid if I told anybody I would get in trouble or it would start a fight between my dad and his friend.

I told one girlfriend about the incident, but nobody else. And she didn’t think I should tell anyone either. That’s how important decisions are made when you are 13 years old.

I tried to forget about the incident for the next twenty years. It was nothing, who cared? It was over and nothing really happened. Right?

It wasn’t until I was thirty years old and had a daughter of my own that I thought back and got mad. I got furious! How dare that scum bag put me in that situation. It scared me and made me feel as though I’d done something really bad. If anyone did something like that to my daughter I’d beat the snot out of them.

And if I learned twenty or thrity years later that this creep was running for political office, a position of power, I would spill the story in a heartbeat. I would tell anyone who would listen. But there wouldn’t be any proof and I doubt anyone would believe me, because I was thirteen years old and didn’t knowthe rules. I didn’t know I was supposed to tell when adults did gross, weird stuff, because I was only a child and had no way of understanding adults.