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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Being a Crunchy Weirdo....

I don't know how it began.   The start of 'weirdness', I mean.

The honeymoon baby of very young parents who listened to.. the Beatles, Janis Joplin, Black Sabbath, Queen... the list goes on.  I wonder... did that have an influence on me as a small child?  Who knows.  My folks may have loved cool music, but they were not hippie or "crunchy".  Yes, I did wear cloth diapers, but that was all they had then. LOL  That was the extent of "crunchiness" in our house.  

Like most moms, my mom bought us raisins as a nutritious snack.  But when we went to the store, I begged for dried figs.  No one I knew ate them.  My mom always said, "Ewww!  How can you EAT those?"  But I loved them!   I don't know how I even knew they existed.  I can only assume that I saw them one day and thought they sounded good.  NO ONE ate dried figs.  So when mom bought them for me, I didn't have to share them with a blessed soul. 

When I was very little, someone bought me a bead kit for a gift.  I started stringing beads.  I vividly remember sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor, marveling over the pink and purple hues of the plastic beads.  I loved making bead necklaces.. and I never outgrew it.  To this day, I can tell you where all the bead stores are.  I can easily spend a small fortune on beads, and not think twice about it.

We moved to a rural area when I was 12.  I soon discovered the joys of picking wild blackberries, and the fun of 'helping' my mother make homemade blackberry jam.  I felt like Laura Ingalls.   I wove strips I had pulled from palmettos, and was forever on the lookout for the 'perfect' walking stick.  I picked up thousands of pinecones (literally) for Daddy to burn, and I loved the bonfires we would have.  Momma and Daddy had a big garden.  I would sneak out and pick tomatoes, and eat them, unwashed, and still warm from the sun. A hint for any other garden munchers: Fresh picked green beans are delicious too.  The smallest ones are the most tender.  :) 

In my early teens, I discovered sunflower seeds.  I drove my mom 'nuts', (she says), with the shells. (my eldest now drives ME nuts with the shells!)   I would walk around with a cheek full of them.  Loved the darn things.   I still love them, but now prefer pumpkin seeds.  I don't know if it was the salt, the crunchy seed inside, the oral fixation of constantly putting something in my mouth, or all three.  But it started a lifetime love of seeds. 

Around that same time (about age 15) I was riding my friends horses.  I didn't have a horse of my own, but I made it my business to befriend every girl in the area who owned a horse.   Most days found me either on horseback or on foot, exploring the woods, paths, and wading McGirts Creek (which is part of Camp Milton from the War of Yankee Aggression... aka, the Civil War), near our house.  Shoes was a hindrance.. better was wading down that ice cold creek, digging our toes into the sand and finding clams.  We fished for brim, and picked and chewed wild onions and mint we found growing.  Looking back, I wonder about some of the odd pieces of rusted metal we sometimes found..  from the old war camp perhaps?  Or possibly from McGirts old mill that used to be there along side that very creek a looong time ago?  After all, the McGirts family was the first family in that area.. back in the 1700's!  *insert history nerd*  But I digress...

As I became an adult, I learned from others about other things I'd never heard of before.  I had a friend who believed in crystals.  I listened politely, but as a born & raised Southern Baptist, I couldn't understand why she'd not be more impressed with the One who had made those crystals instead!  But I also learned about other things.. such as how some people used and hurt the weakest.. animals. (I think this was my first steps to becoming Pro-Life.)  The things I learned came into my kitchen... I learned to make and eat cous cous, and with that came the joys of tofu crumbles in my spaghetti sauce.  This wasn't high school, and I was free to explore, and learn, and not worry about what others thought.  As I did when I was a teenager, I read all I could.  But my genre had seriously changed.

In high school I read for escapism.  In books I explored other lives, other lands, and even other worlds.  But now I was in 'this' world, and learning different ideas.  I felt like my eyes were opening.  I didn't have a car, so I rode the bus.  There was a used bookstore near one of the bus stops I sometimes used, and I started collecting and trading books.  It was the late 80's, and Earth bags had just came out, and though most people didn't use them, (and generally snickered at those who did), I purchased two, and I carried them everywhere.  As a bus rider, they were sturdy enough to hold whatever I carried, even groceries.  Unlike the 'green bags' that are popular now, these were heavy duty, and completely washable.  Matter of fact, I still have them and use them to this day.  (I have probably 30 of them now, though!)

When you are walking, you see so much more on foot as you do zipping by in a car.  And it's true... you literally miss stopping to smell flowers.  On my walks I discovered a health food store nearby, as well as a organic produce store.  I walked, shopped, and read.   I wondered about things, such as the 'why' of vegetarianism, and about animals, and of all kinds of things I had never thought of before.   When I pictured Jesus in my mind, I saw Him holding a lamb.  Not eating a lamb chop.  That was the beginning of my realization that God's world was precious, and that we should be good stewards of what He has blessed us with.  I decided I was not helping the world the way I was, and so for the next five years I was an ovo lacto vegetarian.  Which means that I consumed dairy and eggs, but not meat.  Also, I quickly learned to keep things to myself.  I was already getting weird looks... and I didn't want to make it any worse.  Some considered these changes a 'phase'.  I didn't.  I still don't to this day.  Some things were part of a learning curve.  Some were things that became part of me, and kept for life.

Near my job, I found an independently owned and operated record store.  Weekly I scoured store, striking up a mild friendship with the owner, and looking for old vinyl albums I enjoyed, even though they were no longer popular.  I LOVED music, (still do!), and I was the proud owner of an old turn table record player and a "boom box".  I bought records, tapes, and  a few dibs and dabs when I had a few bucks.

 I walked down a block to the thrift store for a battered women and children's shelter.  And there, I found a gold mine.  I adored this thrift store, and soon I was a regular shopper.  Even if all I spent was a quarter, I was there every week, looking at the new items that had come in, and picking up little things here and there.  I loved it.  That thrift store is unfortunately no longer there, but all these years later I am still an avid thrift store junkie. 

Time was funny then, between high school, and then just eight years later when I gave birth to my first child.  In that eight years a lot of people moved in and out of my life.  Some were friends, some co-workers, some boyfriends, some were nice... some were just looking to use someone like me.  I was a vegetarian for five of those eight years. In that eight years I was married and divorced, I worked different jobs.. mostly at answering services.  I learned, I laughed, and I loved.  I grew.  I started listening to more "earthy" type music.  I smoked grass.  I made love bead necklaces and listened to my old vinyl records... and I even played Dungeons and Dragons for about six months once.  I danced, drank, and star gazed.   

And, I converted to Roman Catholic.

In all craziness, I guess God can find us anywhere.  He found me... lonely, listening to "Paul Simon in Central Park" on cable.... with my windows open because I couldn't afford to run the window unit ac, and eating beans and brown rice.

On my great voyage to weirdness, God loved me, and drew me to Him anyway.  God loves weirdos too.  :)

Now, years past.  Remarried to a good man and two children later... my grass smoking days behind me...  and no, I'm not a vegetarian any more.  I *could* be, and might *would* be if left to my own devices.   So when did I start eating meat again?  Ha! ..when I first became pregnant.  :)    Being a veggie, honestly, I could and would do it again.  Not for the 'sake' of doing it, but because it's something that I think is 'true'.  That makes a difference, even in a small way.  Cooking for our meat-loving family, of course, there's no way.  I do love to eat meat.. and I do still try to make a difference, in my own small way.  I am the recycling Nazi!  And I still use my green bags for everything.  Still trying to be organic...  small things.  Here and there.  No one can do Every Thing.  But, we can ALL do something.. no matter how small.. and it honestly does make a difference.  This is NOT being a lefty liberal.  This is about being a good steward of what God has blessed us with.  Isn't it our job to love?  

So, do 'I' think I'm weird?  Nah.  I mean, what's the definition of weird?  Who's the judge of who's weird and who is not?  

I still am an animal lover... but now that I'm older I realize the sacredness of ALL life, making me Very Pro-Life...  Very Catholic and old fashioned in many ways... God and family being most important to me... and yes I still love tie dye and my beads and I still absent-mindedly braid my hair when I'm bored.  I still star gaze, and think, dream, and pray....  But you know...  we can't all be the same.  We all have our own ways of being unique and different.  I guess for me... the biggest difference now, besides being a lot older (and supposedly wiser), and no more grass smoking, (haha) is that now, with my daughters, I am in good company... my girls!! They are not like me, or each other, but together... we share a lot.  And for this, I am very grateful, and blessed.  +

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Year Anniversary of September 11th, 2001

Today is the ten year anniversary of September 11, 2001.  I've been sitting here watching all that footage on YouTube from that HORRIBLE day...  and sobbing, watching it all.   It feels like it just happened yesterday.  I know none of us will ever forget it.  My 18 yr old daughter was in school when it happened... and she was 8.  She just sat down here and watched the footage with me...  neither of us even spoke..  what can you say?  All we can do is remember, and pray.  Pray for those who died that day.  For the family and friends left behind, and for the families torn apart... all because of hate. 

That day is, in a way, a personal matter for everyone... we all saw the same news footage, felt the shock... it wasn't a Hollywood movie.  It was real.  A real life nightmare.  And everyone in the world who owned a television had a front row seat.

The morning of Sept 11, 2001, my eldest daughter was 8 years old, and still enrolled in public school.  I'd driven her to school, and came home to make a bottle and play with my one year old baby.  I made the bottle while my husband was on our bed playing with her.  I came in, flopped down beside him, with the baby between us.  She had her bottle while we talked... I remember she'd finished her bottle, and we were playing with her.. and the television was on... and then suddenly it was on.  

The first tower was hit... we were watching... trying to fathom how the heck an airplane hits a building.. especially one THAT big that you can't miss.  Then, when the second plane.. and yes we were watching live as it happened... it hit the South Tower... that sickening realization came over us that it was intentional.  Deliberate.  We were truly under attack.  The fire... the smoke... the horror of watching bodies falling from the towers..  The slow-motion collapse of the towers... my eyes were seeing, but I couldn't believe it... the shock.. disbelief... and the horror. I will NEVER forget that.  Ever.  It's forever burned into my mind.. in living color.  It was a nightmare... one that none of us could awaken from.  Couldn't wrap my head around it.  Then we found out about the plane hitting the Pentagon... and Flight 93 crashing in Shanksville, PA.  Sweet Jesus... 

I told my now 18 year old daughter, that things like this stick with you.  She was in my belly when I watched live on tv the Waco Siege of 1993, when the Branch Davidians were attacked and a total of 87 people were killed.  And some were just kids. 

She was twenty months old when the Oklahoma City Bombing happened.  168 people... including 19 little kids.  I remember the babies the most, I suppose, since I was a relatively new mother myself.  I couldn't imagine anyone blowing up a building and killing so many people... and these poor small children... innocent.  What a waste of precious life. 

Most of us remember when Reagan was shot.  I remember seeing James Brady lying on the sidewalk in a pool of blood...  and the fear I felt.   Kennedy happened before I was born... so this was a shock for a kid like me to see.   I 'knew' about JFK... but reading about it in school and seeing it live on tv is completely different.  

Of course, I remember when John Lennon was shot and killed by a deranged fan.  I clearly remember when Elvis died.  But September 11.... none of those others can compare to it.  (No disrespect meant) All of these horrible in their own right... not taking anything in the world away from senseless violence and the loss of those lives.... But September 11, 2001 was by far the worst in 'my' lifetime.  I don't say that with any pleasure.  I pray to God my children don't witness worse in their lifetimes. 

Sept 11 was an attack on us all.  No, I didn't know a blessed soul in those towers.  But the shock and the horror affected us all... everyone.   But despite that... it was not a day of "fear"... it was actually, a day of true courage.  Americans came together more than they had in decades.  The passengers of Flight 93.  The First Responders.   And the heroism continued....those who donated blood.  People who responded and sent help from everywhere.

It was this generations Pearl Harbor.  This despicable evil.. right here on American our midst..  and all those poor people did was go to work that day. 

For months afterwards I stayed suspicious...  I wondered privately to myself *what* would get bombed next.   We live in city with military bases... and it dawned on me we could be a potential target.  It wasn't fear... it is/was an awareness.  The suspiciousness is gone now.. but the awareness stays with me.  With all of us.  

I think 9/11 knocked off our rose-colored glasses.  I used to believe, (I bet most of us thought this), that we were/are "safe".  Umm.. yeah.. NO we're not.   We know that now.  I also think for a while there afterwards, that we were actually stronger as a nation... because we basically locked arms and there was a rekindled sense of love for our nation.  We were ready to fight for our freedom.  Fight against those who want to destroy us.. the terrorists did NOT kill our spirit!!

Never again will I believe in my heart that we are "safe".  I know, with every ounce of my being, that there are extremists out there, who hate us.  They awakened a sleeping giant.  

My 'baby' is now 11 years old.. and has no memory of that day.  It's up to her father and I to teach her the lessons of that day.  I don't think I'll ever reach a point where I can talk about it without getting a huge lump in my throat and crying.  I don't want to teach my daughter fear.  I want to teach her to be aware.. the history of what happened. 

Life goes on.  Hope is alive. 

God Bless the United States of America.  God bless those souls lost on Sept 11.  God Bless those who died heroes.   God bless the families and friends who suffered loss.  You all remain in my prayers.  And forever in my mind and in my heart.