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photo by Sheri Dixon

Monday, October 27, 2014

Three Little Words

There are three words that rule the universe, have the power to heal, to mend, to open doors and minds, that empower both the person uttering them as well as those within earshot.

Three little words.

"I was wrong."

"I was wrong" signals both an ending and a beginning. The end of stubbornness, selfishness, ego. The beginning of listening, empathy, growth.

"I was wrong" tells your partner you don't NEED to win every disagreement- you are a partnership and are vested in fairness, equality and love above any petty desire to be 'the one who knows better than'.

"I was wrong- please forgive me."

"I was wrong- lets do it your way."

"I was wrong- I love you."

"I was wrong tells your children that you are, in fact, only human and that they are, in fact truly human.

"I was wrong- please forgive me."

"I was wrong- lets do it your way."

"I was wrong- I love you."

"I was wrong" tells your co-workers or employees or boss that you're not perfect. And yanno what? No one really expects you to be.

"I was wrong- lets do it your way."

"I was wrong- help me figure out a better way to do this."

"I was wrong- and here's how I'm going to fix it."

"I was wrong" is the hardest (for me, anyway) when I'm faced with someone I don't usually agree with, maybe don't like very much, and who pretty much stands for everything I hate ideologically. But no ideology or practitioner of same is infallible. Not all my staunch beliefs can stand up under scrutiny. Because that's life. Things we are 'sure' we know turn upside down all the time.

When my first child was born, I was admonished to put her on her tummy to sleep- if she was on her back and she urped up, she'd drown in her urp and die.

When my second child was born, I was told to put him on his back to sleep- if he was on his tummy and got jammed into excess blankets in his crib he'd suffocate and die.

When my third child was born, I just laid him on his side and told him 'good luck'.

So stuff changes. Absolutes we take for granted turn out to be more opinion than fact. And even though it's safe and warm and fuzzy inside groups who only think like we do...isn't that the same thing we chide the 'other side' for? Staying cloistered and cozy in their own little echo chambers?

So I step out. It's pretty easy because in our immediate family we have wildly varying political viewpoints so 'stepping out' means walking 50 feet to Joe's house and having a cuppa coffee. And that's made a difference- for both of us.

When you're face to face with someone, it's harder to defend your superiority.

When you can see a reaction in their face, their body posture, their eyes, it's harder to spit venom with impunity.

If it's someone you care about and respect in other aspects of your life, it's easier to listen and open that hard little center of bullheaded belief just a bit to let the light of another angle shine in.

The interwebs are a wondrous place- you can find anything to support any viewpoint you want to have, groups who think just like you do no matter what you think, and you can be anyone you want to be and as snarky and ugly as your little heart desires- pretty much without repercussions. Therefore it's really hard to have discussions of much worth that don't quickly degrade into name-calling and catch-phrase wars.

That's not helping anyone, and it's hurting us. It's hurting us to become so callous and petty and small, vicious and cold. With every angry sarcastic remark, we lose just a bit of our humanity and every chance we'd have to actually connect with the other person.

We should never look only for flaws and mistakes on 'the other side' and crow about it.

We should look twice as hard for flaws and mistakes on 'our side' and expose them, confront them, fix them. Because they're there. They're always there.

"I was wrong- lets talk about this."

"I was wrong- I'm sorry I snapped at you."

"I was wrong- lets start over."

"I was wrong..."







Sunday, October 19, 2014

Got That Croatian Feeling Going On

Sometimes thing just stick in my craw.

Sometimes it's one of those little sourdough pretzel bites that I eat on my way to work but then I reach for my coffee and DAMMIT I've forgotten it on the kitchen table...again.

Sometimes it's something like this-

http://www.adriaticavillage.com/Adriatica_Village/Adriatica_Village_-_Home.html

This is a thing. It's a thing that's outside of McKinney TX, so we drive right close to it. There are a few 'communities' in between McKinney and Denton; the most notable (until now) being Savannah (complete with lots of imported palm trees and magnolia trees) and Providence (which is just sort of Stepford-ish).

These are not exactly gated, but they are extremely clannish in that they are fully self-contained subdivisions. You gotcher big schmancy houses- the ones surrounding the fountained pond at the lavish entrance, you gotcher more affordable homes all lining quaint little tiny-tree-lined avenues and all juuuuust different enough to not look totally creepy, you gotcher section just for "Over 55 Active Adults" far enough away from the affordable housing children so they don't have to worry about YOU KIDS WALKING ON MY GRASS!!!, you gotcher elementary school and yer private club and exclusive gym and all that mess. Circling the whole shebang is a single layer of strip malls that offer everything from dry cleaning to burgers to hair stylists to emergency rooms.

Providence alone has a population of over 5,000. That's five times the size of my little town. That's quite a subdivision.

But this...this Adriatica is something else.

First off, just by looking at it, you know there is no 'affordable housing'. It's Schmancypants City from the tippy top of the Bell Tower to the 'quaint cobblestone streets'.

Which is cool. If you have a buttload of money and want to pretend you live in Europe, that's great.

This is the part that is craw-stickingly jarring to me.

"The goal is to create community that in a relatively short period of time replicates villages that have taken centuries to develop. The project involves not only proper architecture and visual design, but also expertise in culture and social interaction. Not just how to build, but how to arrange the pieces of daily life, from where we live and work, to where we shop and play. It all comes together to form a balanced way of life."

Which is utter bullshit.

There are no Croatian fishermen here. No hard winters survived and generations of families and their various love/hate relationships intertwining the fabric of every person's history and future simultaneously, no hunger faced or natural disasters survived.

Be honest. Say "The goal is to create community that in a relatively short period of time replicates villages that have taken centuries to develop. The project involves not only proper architecture and visual design, and can do all this effortlessly because we have a metric fuck-ton of money at our disposal. We've studied the wants and needs of today's urban wealthy, and we know just what to build to enhance your life and fill it with truly comforting social interaction. We've artfully arranged the pieces of daily life so that once you enter these locked gates, your every whim will be fulfilled- food, drink, entertainment, shopping...it all comes together to form a life balanced with you in the center of it; as it should be."

Seriously. This is a single family house. They must catch A LOT of fish.



And what Croatian fisherman family wouldn't require the following stores in their village to make their life complete?

Cavallis Wood-Fired Pizzaria
Starbucks
Keller Williams Real Estate
The Guitar Sanctuary
The Sanctuary Music & Events
Independent Bank
UPS Store
The Bella Donna Chapel
Silk Road Thai Cuisine
Zin Zen Wine Bistro
Fleurs & Events
Harry’s at the Harbor

I'm not jealous and I don't care where people choose to live if it makes them happy. But don't say you're something you're not.

It's not a Croatian fishing village. It's a Disney-ish fancied-up version of a postcard of a Croatian fishing village.

It's a Croatian Norman Rockwell; the Face the real villages put on for tourists.

While it IS "a true community perfectly balancing the needs and wants of its inhabitants", there's no getting around that the inhabitants are extremely wealthy, and that piles of money are the very real dues to get here and stay here.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe when one of the residents loses his high-paying job they'll all rally around and take in him and his family, sharing their home and money and food until he finds another job.

I'd like to see that.

Really.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Toad Lickin' News

You know that thing where you can hear stuff even though you're really sleeping? It's that thing that causes you to have really strange dreams until you wake up and realize you've been watching the infomercial channel all night. Which explains your dreams of women who have successfully lost 258 pounds who are wearing the world's most comfortable bra, cleaning their houses with a Shark while clutching Ginsu knives in their teeth.

At least that's what I tell myself.

So this morning, before I was fully awake, I could hear the news. And the news was all about Ebola, or as it's referred to here in East Texas- Eboli. As in, "I sure hope I don't catch me any of that there Eboli that African feller brought into Dallas! Stuff'll kill ya quick as a possum slidin' off a melted trailer roof in July, it will!"

And that's pretty dang quick.

Back to the news. It sounded serious. "More breaking news about the Ebola patient currently quarantined in a Dallas hospital!" The perky reporter was on the scene, in front of Presby Hospital in Dallas. Her tone was serious, somber, her voice filled with foreboding. I opened one eye and gazed across the room to the TV- yep; she was pretty somber lookin'. Across the bottom of the screen the ticker was retelling the whole history of Ebola's attack on the US of A right here in TEX of AS. She continued...

"All forty five people who have been in contact with this man..." (pause for effect) "...are still symptom-free!"

Now both eyes were open, and I was sitting up. "Oh, for the love of..." But there was more!

"The homeless man who rode in the ambulance right after the patient with Ebola has been found!" (another pause) "And he is not showing any signs of illness!"

It hurts to roll your eyeballs too soon after waking up.

Back in the studio, the anchorman announced, "Yes, as ____________ told us, none of the people who were in direct physical contact with the patient are showing any signs of illness, including his girlfriend- who we have on the phone in an exclusive interview!"

"Hello? Are you there?"

"Ummm...yes I am."

"Great! And how are you feeling?"

"I'm fine, thanks. I'm OK."

"There you have it and you heard it here! Stay tuned to this channel for any other breaking coverage regarding the ongoing threat of the looming Ebola crisis here in Dallas!"

Someone once told me that if you lick a toad first thing in the morning, the rest of the day will be uphill. Far as I can tell, this was just as good. Bad. Whatever.
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