The youngest member of our family will graduate from high school in a few weeks. On Tuesday we wandered the maze-like corridors of the neighborhood school for our very last set of parent-teacher conferences. We said our farewells to beloved faculty members and to the rows of brightly-colored lockers and to the just-a-little-dusty trophy cases and framed and fading photographs of the valedictorians of 1962 and 63 and 64. The cunningly tedious FAFSA financial aid report will put its dagger deep into the heart of our weekend.
Once Upon A Time, when I was fat in the way only a healthy twenty-five-year-old girl can be fat (i.e.: perfect with tiny flaws only she can see with the help of three hand mirrors and a bad romance) I did yoga naked. Well, mostly naked. In the secluded backyard of my friend's house, with two wonderful gal pals, we did (almost) naked yoga one fine summer day. It was glorious: warm sun shining on our nubile bodies, wind rustling our hair. The naughtiness of it was thrilling and dangerous . . . until we heard someone call out!
Two winters ago on the Hawaiian island of Kaua‘i I met a man in his mid-thirties, a Midwestern loner who’d been kicking around on the island for five years. He was from one of those wheat-growing plains states with stubble fields caked in snow to the horizons, and he didn’t talk much, but I kept nudging the conversation along, speaking of the beauty of the island, saying how nice it must be to live there. Dreaming of a life in paradise but clinging to my pessimism, I ventured the supposition that jobs were hard to come by.
It's time. The New Year is in full swing, already a little frayed around the edges. What resolutions were hastily made at the end of December are by now already achieved or have accommodated themselves to reality. The snow, which arrived so unceremoniously at the beginning of the month, has seeped under every door, laying salty waste to carpet and hardwood alike.
Outside, one of our giant inflatable lawn ornaments last week simply gave up and lay down. Ollie the penguin, my trusty glow-in-the-dark companion, is now no more than a few strings connected to a puddle of vinyl.
Here between the major merchandising events of the manufactured sentimentality of Christmas and the massive schmaltz of Valentine’s Day, we in Michiana have an opportunity for a big ol’ wallow in genuine emotion. As you may have heard both from David James’s Michiana Chronicle last week and from the promo spot for this coming Saturday night’s Jazz by the Border, WVPE Program Director, Lee Burdorf, is retiring.
The Alabama civil rights movement: Selma to Montgomery march, halted at the Edmund Pettus bridge (Tuesday, March 9, 1965). Jack Rabin collection on Alabama civil rights and southern activists, 1941-2004. Penn State Special Collections. Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Twenty-fifteen is the fiftieth anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march. A person can get a good idea of the issues and the drama of the events down there back then by viewing the movie Selma, in local theaters this week. I’ve studied a lot of civil rights history.
A few weeks ago, I was one of a half dozen guests invited to speak to a class of teenagers working through a Unitarian Universalist curriculum called “Our Whole Lives.” The cute acronym for this program is OWL and it’s a multi-staged, holistic sexuality course that invites young people to think about their development and relationships in rich and nuanced ways. Don’t worry; nothing I’m about to say is more than G-rated. Our discussion was about the ways people creatively map out their lives in a culture that often seems to offer few alternative pathways.
Who doesn’t remember the cruelty of little children? In my grade school there was a boy with a single discolored front tooth. At our bathroom break, if he got to the water fountain first, none of the other children would drink there. Nobody spoke to him about it, but Sister Paulette must have noticed many of her fourth graders heading back to the study of Saudi Arabia unquenched.
Now that Christmas is over, I’m thinking of some seasonal truths I want to take with me into the new year. There are (of course) some standard old saws about over-indulgence, and children liking the boxes presents came in as much as the gifts, and how to keep Christmas all year long in your heart.
As my wife and I were strolling through the neighborhood this week, we noticed a group of people walking toward us along the street. Most were teenagers, and they all seemed to be carrying sheets of paper. I said, “They must be Christmas carolers.” My wife said, “People don’t do that anymore, do they?” But as they were passing us, one of the adults said, “We’re going caroling. Would you like to join us?” He was obviously the youth minister, and it was clear to us now that they had come from the church at the end of the block.