Thursday, May 9, 2013

No news is good news.

My husband is always amused by my attitude to news.  In that, I generally do my best to avoid it. When I turn my computer on in the morning, I prefer to know what happened, 'today in history' rather than what's actually happening today.
I've pretty much always been that way.
It's a guilty secret of mine.

In the days when there used to be newspapers, I would be reading a book.
When I was a kid and the TV news was on at 6, that would be the time I remembered my homework.
I'm sometimes so completely uninformed, that I have to nod knowingly in conversations. ( In fact, if we're ever in conversation and I nod knowingly at you, be re-assured I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.)

Nowadays though, it's almost impossible to avoid the news entirely, because it's everywhere and 24 hours. So instead, I try my best to be selective.
If there's news of a new invention, I like that. If there's news of a cure for some disease, ooh I like to be informed.
I'm on it for local news: burglaries in the area? lock those doors. Cafe opening down the street? - ooh must remember to try it.
But the lead story, the one everyone's talking about, my position on it is "head-in-the-sand."
I know.
And I apologize.

But in my defense, when May 2013 is history, I'll look back on those girls in Cleveland and how amazing they are. How they managed to endure unimaginable punishment, for an unbelievable amount of time and even raise a beautiful little kid. How it shows the strength of humankind. The force of human spirit.

But right now, it's news. So, instead of considering the magnificence and bravery and extraordinary resilience to be found in three young women,  I seethe every time I turn the tv on,  or when Google news appears on my computer.

I see the squat little face of that pathetic excuse for a nervous system, bowing his head. Ashamed. He really didn't mean it you know. He had a difficult childhood. Life was a struggle. He was poor. Ya-de-ya-de-ya.
Poor thing. he didn't manage to make bail so he'll be incarcerated till his trial. Don't know where to put him? Well, there's a basement in a place in Cleveland that's just become available.

Right now, where I am, the sun is out and my current concerns, re motherhood, are that I have to get cookies ready for the bake sale, and that my kids are due a dental check up. Both remind me of three human beings who didn't get to see the sun, and a six year old who has already seen the unimaginable.

And today, though I should be writing up little pieces about history, when I sit down to write, the same story goes through my mind.

There's a little yellow school bus with a squat, little driver and the only passengers on it are the two Boston bombers and they're driving to the desert. On the way they stop off to pick up Geoffrey Portway,  whose car broke down when he was out shopping for stuff for his torture chamber.
Anyway, as they get further and further into the desert, the road gets rougher and the little yellow bus bumps up and down, so detonating the pressure cooker bombs, those two douchebags were so smug at having made.
And suddenly there's this massive explosion and the four of them and the little school bus suddenly are wiped off the face of the earth.
And all that's left behind is an indistinguishable pile of dust, under a beautiful, clear, blue sky.

Then I realize that's a terrible story.
What an awful waste of a school bus.

I plan to work really hard at avoiding the news over the next couple of weeks, because I teach my kids that hatred is wrong.

And now I'm heading off to make cookies and book dental appointments. And for Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus and Michelle Knight, I wish for them, the normality of getting to do the same.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Nothing to explain.

My 10 year old and I had a conversation at the weekend about naked dancing.

The comedy improv class he goes to is moving venue. I am relieved, because parking outside the current one is a complete bitch. He is relieved he says, because 'there are inappropriate billboards outside class, and hopefully there's won't be outside the new venue."

Whilst driving, I am racking my brains as to what these "inappropriate billboards' can be.
"What do you mean honey?" I ask.

"Like that one!" he points, "That one there. Full nude dancing. Why do people do that?"

He waits for an answer. My Saturday afternoon is taking a turn for the worse.

"Well, sometimes people like to feel powerful and seeing strangers dancing with no clothes on sometimes makes some people feel powerful."

"That's just dumb."


"And why would people do that? Why would someone dance naked?"

"Because they need the money. Because they might think that's the only option open to them....

I try to move this cunningly on to, 'that's why it's a good idea to work hard for your CST's conversation' but he's persistant.

"But do they enjoy it? The people dancing naked. "

Inside my head I've decided that until the class moves venue, his dad is going to be picking him up.

"I dunno honey. I've never danced naked. I'm guessing they don't really think about it that much. I'm guessing they do what they do because they think it's the right thing to do for them and... You know what pal, there are things in the world I can't really explain.  Sometimes it's good to consider why someone who isn't you, might do something you wouldn't do. Because, when you understand the "why" then a lot of the time, you can let it go."

"Well I think that's just wrong."


He is silent for a moment and I am hopeful the conversation is resolved.

"I am never dancing naked"

"Good. Good for you. I'm glad to hear it"

"And I'm never going to be a gentleman if you have to watch someone dancing naked to join a club"

"That's OK too."

Yesterday he came home from school.  He'd been watching about the events in Boston on his phone.

"This is one of those things you can't explain right?"


"Well, I want you to know, I'm not ever going to try to understand the "why". OK?"

"Totally son. Totally. Me neither"

Thursday, April 4, 2013

That time already?

I think I might have reached that age. The age when I'm completely an adult.

I don't feel like an adult. I still react to situations like I'm 16 - get ridiculously smug if I'm asked for my ID when buying alcohol, can't believe that if I don't clear up after me, nobody else will.
But I've noticed, of late, the ratio of blind enjoyment to harsh responsibility has changed and I can see - on some not too distant horizon - a day where I might boast about my age to a complete stranger in the post office (if I can still find a post office).

Today I phoned my sister - 8 years apart.
8 years that seemed a massive age gap when I was 5.
She aged 13, studious, tidy, with the miraculous ability to eat one single Mars bar over the space of three days if she chose.
Me wrestling to make my way to school, wearing with my brothers' oversize hand-me-down duffle-coat.

And then again at 13:
Me, all black eyeliner and jumbo cords (never stylish),  acned,  listening to my Blondie records - She at 21 - all Moody Blues and color co-ordinated and sophisticated.

Then I was 21  and still using black eyeliner. And my head was full of Brecht and cabaret and how to market a comedy double act, and she, at 29, happily married,  unassumingly caring for her young daughter whilst simultaneously striding forth in her career, like some feature on "power women" in Cosmopolitan magazine.

Decades later of similarities, differences, family parties, agreements, disagreements, births, bereavements,  successes, failures...time, I find myself in a place of new worries.  I call her today - tired of pressure, worn with sadness, old in spirit, but in my head, still way way too young.

"Some days I really wish Mum and Dad were here,"  I say.
"Me too," says she.

I am at that time where 8 years feels like nothing. Where differences become the same. Where I am grateful not just for what my parents were, but all they left behind.

I'm at that age.