Category Archives: thoughtful thoughts

A Dream Deferred

One on my favorite poems, by the great Langston Hughes:

A DREAM DEFERRED

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

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Thoughts on the Winston Investigation

To quote Will Rogers, all I know is what I read in the papers. To be more accurate, I don’t know anything about the investigation into allegations that FSU quarterback Jameis Winston committed rape except what ESPN and social media tell me – and neither are particularly reliable sources.

But a lack of knowledge, as y’all know, has never kept me quiet. And here, I do feel that I have some comments to make from several perspectives.

I’m a woman, who had a minor sexual offense (not rape, thank God!) committed upon me back in college, and I cried with a sorority sister the morning after she was raped by the boy she was dating and a few of his frat brothers. We didn’t report it – back then, if you agreed to stay late at a guy’s house, well, heck, you must have wanted to have sex with every guy in the place. The 70s were an strange time.

I am also a lawyer, who has defended and prosecuted those charged with sexual offenses. I’ve seen photos of injuries so bad that the memory brings tears to my eyes these many years later.

But I’m a Seminole, too. Rabidly committed to all things Garnet and Gold ever since I joined the Jr. Seminole Boosters at the ripe old age of 7. I still have a photo of Lane Fenner’s catch – google that if you want to know how long I will hold a grudge when my team is involved.

So, given all that, here’s what I want to say about Jameis and his accuser:

I was offended by the media frenzy surrounding the Jameis Winston investigation, with people who really had no knowledge loudly proclaiming his guilt. But I am even more offended by the comments about the young lady now that State Attorney Willie Meggs (a very distant relative of mine, btw) announced there won’t be charges.

But remember, “unproven” is a result that only works in the Alice-through-the-looking-glass world of the law. In reality, the facts are the facts, whether provable or not.

Look – either A: she was raped, and there wasn’t enough evidence to bring her rapist to justice. That’s bad. Or B: she wasn’t raped, and someone – an attorney with her own agenda, perhaps – used her to make a false claim. That’s bad, too.

As for Winston, either A: he did it, and he is a troubled young man who will not be court- ordered to receive help he desperately needs. That’s bad. Or B: he didn’t do it and he has been drug through the mud and there will be an undeserved cloud on his reputation. That’s bad, too.

So, My Seminole brethren and sistern, let ‘s not gloat or rejoice. This is a sad, sad situation either way. Having been a 19 or 20 year old kid who made bad choices myself a long time ago, I can’t imagine the awfulness of living through what the media and the public have done with this.

And to those of you who still want to joke about the “Criminoles” from “Forced Sex University,” (I’m looking at you, Swamp Things), stop it. Because it’s either A: an unprovable yet horrible crime against a young lady, or B: an intolerable smear on a talented young man. And neither of those is funny.

Random Thoughts, including a Small Suggestion for World Peace

There’s been a lot of stuff happening in the world, and I’ve really wanted to post my comments about most of it. To sum up:

1. Miley and Robin at the VMA’s — seriously, any concept that includes a Beetlejuice suit and lascivious teddy bears should have been rejected out of hand. Aside from the ickiness of the whole twerking mess, it was just bad artistically. I can forgive a lot if the art is good, but this was just in-your-face offensiveness without any artistic vision. (Check Madonna’s early stuff if you want to see offensiveness done for the artistic value. Still offensive, but not gratuitously so.)

And I blame the fully-dressed grown man more than the stupid twenty-one year old. I was a stupid twenty-one year old myself, back in the Jurassic era, and I am now very, very grateful that cell phone cameras had not been invented in my Alpha Xi Delta days.

2. The Anniversary of Dr. King’s Speech — I realize that, being a white Southerner of a certain age, anything I have to say about race relations is suspect. But (and like my own, it is a big but) I do remember the sixties and seventies. I remember separate water fountains. I remember not understanding why my brother wouldn’t let me sit in the balcony at a Disney movie. I remember “Greg” a very good student, who was active in school activities and well-mannered — all the things a parent would like — and me being unable to go public with the fact that we had a bit of a crush on each other because he was the “wrong” race.

This weekend, when Princess #2 invited two guys to join her and her friend at the beach, none of the teenagers even thought about the various shades of epidermis that were represented. I hate that I am still enough a child of the South in the sixties that I did notice, but I am pleased that none of the grownups made the noticing noticeable.

When people say nothing has changed, it makes me angry — and sad. Maybe there hasn’t been enough change, maybe there never will be. But my child will never let a silly thing like melanin determine who she loves.

3. The mess in the Middle East — just one generation ago, my father and uncles were fighting the Axis Powers. We lost family members to the War to Save Democracy. But this weekend, Princess 2 joined several friends for a trip to the water park and an ice cream afterwards.

There they were — two Italian and one German exchange students, a first-generation Peruvian-American, and my little American mixed breed, sitting at Baskin Robbins and having fun. There are few cultural differences that cannot be bridged by ice cream.

Maybe, just maybe, if the world leaders could go down the Rocketing Raft Fun Slide and then share a hot-fudge sundae, they could stop being so angry all the time. Just a suggestion.

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Just Keep Swimming!

I had a rough day yesterday – I got exactly what I asked for, and I whined like a two-year-old when I actually got it.

I’ve finished a book. Well, finished in the sense that I made it all the way from “Chapter One” to “The End”. The writers amongst you will understand that now the real work begins.

I sent my little ms out to my crit partner, aka The Book Midwife. She is one of the most insightful readers I have ever met, and she pointed out exactly what was wrong with my story. Indeed, a lot of her comments were things I knew, but was refusing to acknowledge, hoping that readers wouldn’t notice. (Yeah, right.)

So when my darling DeAnn gave me her thoughts, I thanked her and buckled right down to work, right? Oh, kids, y’all know me better than that!

I pouted. I cried. I stomped around the house swearing that I was done writing. (As if the people in my head would allow that.). I misbehaved badly.

And then a friend – one who knew nothing of my tantrum – posted the quote below. I think it was a sign from God, the universe, the Force, or whatever you conceive the higher power to be.

I’ve apologized to DeAnn, and I’m doing so again now. I’m sorry that you gave me exactly what I asked for and needed and I was too childish and self absorbed to take it graciously. I wish I could promise it will never happen again, but my capacity for childish behavior exceeds all bounds. I can say that I deeply appreciate all the work she did, I value and agree with her comments, and I will TRY to be better in the future.

And as far as my writing, as Dory told Nemo: just keep swimming!

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Something About School

This week’s prompt from my wonderful Super Fly Writing Group (or SFWG to the cognoscenti) is “write something about ‘school.'” Now, one might think that this would be easy to me, as (in the dreaded day job) I am in fact an employee of the local school board. Not only that, my DH is an educator at the college level, and I have two daughters, both of whom are in school. ]

But the sad fact is, that if one thinks that, one would be wrong. Dead wrong. Wrong in a major way. Please note above that I didn’t say I work for the “school district” or the “school system.” I am something of a rara avis in terra (Ooooh wee! Look at Romancemama slinging the foreign phrases here!) Unlike the teachers, the bus drivers, the cafeteria workers and the numerous other dedicated workers who make the schools run, I am actually, legally, an employee directly supervised by the five member School Board. I don’t work for the Superintendent of Schools. I report directly to, and work at the sole pleasure of, a five-member elected board.

Which means, boys and girls, that I don’t like to make public statements about the schools. Anything I say can — and often is — mistakenly laid at the feet of my bosses. As a general rule, I try to let somebody else give sound bites while I take care of business.

So it has been a struggle to come up with something I felt I could say about schools. But, as y’all know, I have been known to have an opinion or two, and I’d like to express one of them. One that I don’t think anyone associated with my day job will disagree with. (Yes, I know! “With which they will disagree.” Thank you, Strunk and White.)

There are a lot of people spouting off about “what’s wrong with our schools” these days. And yeah, there is stuff wrong. So if you — or any of the politicians du jour — think you know what to do to fix ’em, bring it. But one request of you, before you tell me all about your plans to overhaul the whole system.

WORK IN IT.

We here in my local school district are begging for people to help us. We have kids who need mentors, who need tutors, who just need a friendly word from someone. God knows, our teachers are overworked just trying to keep up with the paperwork and teaching the standardized test prep. There are some kids who need a whole lot more individualized attention than any teacher can give.

So tell me all about your charter schools, your standards and policies and rules. I’m all ears. But –and I’m looking at y’all, candidates for public office — spend a few hours in a classroom and then tell me your plans.

We need people who care, not just more plans and policies.

Do It for Ana

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I’m in a piss-poor mood tonight, my darlings. But I hope that telling you the story will actually do some good, and maybe keep other people from having to feel this way in future. If so, at least a tiny bit of good will come out of this crap.

Some of you know that in the day job, I am a lawyer for a local governmental agency. About 5 years ago, I closed my law firm, took the plunge, and became a bureaucrat. And I like it. I deal with a lot of interesting issues. As I look at it, having been born out of my proper place and time (a Duke’s daughter in Regency England) and thus unfortunately having to work for a living, this is as good a gig as I can get.

When I started at my current job, the Twilight thing was at its hottest fever pitch, and one of the ladies in my office found out that I had a soft spot for sparkly vampires. She was a Dark Shadows fanatic, and since I had a picture of Jonathan Frid on my wall as a teenager, we hit it off right away. One of the first fun things I did with anyone from the office was the night Ana and I went to see Twilight together.

After that, we were buddies. Not call each other any time of the day or night type friends, but friends, just the same. I liked her. I thought a lot of her — just a really good, down to earth person. The kind this sad old world could use more of.

If you had come up to me at that midnight showing of Twilight and told me that one of us wouldn’t live to see the last movie in the franchise, I’d have laughed at you. Ana and I were young — Well, we aren’t in our 20’s, we both have grown kids, but we aren’t old. Not by a long shot. If anything, Ana was cute and thin and very healthy, while I have a few extra pounds here and there. But we were BOTH gonna keep going for a long time.

Tonight Ana is in hospice. She has breast cancer. She fought it, but it fought back. And even though she is cute and healthy and very young for her age, she apparently isn’t going to see the big finale where Bella Swan goes vampire on the big screen.

For some reason, it was that realization that brought it home to me today. My friend isn’t going to be here.

I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m confused. Most of all, I’m ready to start preaching. Y’all get your God damned mammograms. This is the second time someone dear to me has lost a fight with BC, and I don’t want to ever do this again.

If you won’t it for yourself, or for me, do it for a lady who loved God and dogs and vampires and life. She would want you to.

Thursday Thought: I May Say It at Any Moment Now

Y’all, this has been a helluva week here at Ro’mama’s palatial estate, Malfunction Junction. I had to go to 3 (yes, 3!) Godawful work meetings this week, got called everything but a child of God by some disgruntled folks at the dayjob, and generally worked my widdle fingers to the bone. I needs some sympathy. Or at least another bottle of wine.

But I found a quote on the internet that is perfect for my week so far. As you know, I’m all about teaching you Yankees, Limeys, Kiwis and so forth all about life Down South here on the Emerald Coast, where thousands live the way millions wish they could … (Sorry. I was channeling the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce.)

Anyway, here is exactly what you need to know when a Southern girl has not gotten the treatment she deserves —-

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Crap! That’s Pensacola Beach on theTV!

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It is never a good thing to wake up to the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore broadcasting from your home town. So first off, my darlings, pray for us. Not just that our home will make it through another storm when the damage from three weeks ago has not yet been fixed, but that DH and I don’t hurt each other.
See, everyone has different ways of dealing with Hurricane Season. I’m an “OMG, it’s coming. There’s a big red X on top of my house, and it is gonna hit right here” kind of girl. Let a storm form off the coast of Africa, and I am in Publix, laying in my store of bottled water, bleach, and white bread. (Why the white bread? Heck if I know. But ask any native Floridian – come a named storm, and the grocery shelves are bare of white bread.)
DH, on the other hand, is more into the “why panic before you have to?” school of hurricane preparation. When DD#1 was a baby, a named storm (Opal, I think) was moving in on us. DH was home, working on his dissertation for his PhD. All day, I called home to let him know the latest from NOAA — who was evacuating, what the latest forecast said. When emergency services told everyone to leave their offices early and go home to prepare, I was shocked to find no bottled water, no bleach, not more than half a loaf of bread on hand.
I asked why, and DH assured me that he’d been waiting for me to get home so we could assess the sitch. I’d assessed it — we were by God evacuating right then! So, over DH’s protests that it wasn’t really necessary, I packed up the baby and the wedding albums and we set off.
Only to discover that the evacuation routes were bumper to bumper. The cop at the foot of the I-10 entrance ramp said it was an estimated 2-hour wait from there til one actually got on the Interstate. So, we turned around, headed home, and hunkered down.
In the hallway, we built a nest out of mattresses and I slept in there with the baby all night, while the wind whipped and the rain cascaded down. In the wee hours of the morning, in total darkness because the power was out, there was a massive noise — and a pine tree came to visit in my bedroom.
I took pictures of the mattress nest and the wrecked bedroom. I figured one day they would be on the Weather Channel as a warning: “All that was ever found of this family was a camera with these heart-breaking photos…”
The next morning, DH came as close as he gets to apologizing. He’d been so caught up in writing that he hadn’t really paid attention to the storm — or to my frantic phone calls. He’d actually been a bit annoyed that I kept calling when he was trying to work!
I swore that from then on, I would be evacuating with my children, with or without their father. But, about ten years later, when Ivan blew through town, I had forgotten how awful Opal had been, and I let DH’s nonchalance convince me to stay. This time it was the den that got the pine tree addition, and it came about 3 feet from the skull of our niece as she slept on the floor of the den.
Never again. If it is a hurricane, I’m out of here. DH can brave the storm; me and my babies will be in a nice motel somewhere in North Georgia or the Carolinas.
As of Noon, Sunday, June 24, 2012, Debby is only a tropical storm. I am a dyed-in-the-wool Florida cracker, and I don’t run from a little rain and wind. But if this b!tch gets upgraded to a hurricane (even Cat 1), color me gone!

A Few Off-topic Thoughts

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Sorry, no pretty photo today. I’ll get back to that eventually. Maybe.

Today I’d like to start something new here chez ro’mama, and I hope you will all stick around for it. Or not. To be perfectly honest, I don’t much care. I’m gonna call my weekly posts “Fat Friday.” Maybe on occasion, I’ll change that to “Fit Friday.”

But the truth is, my dears, that I have had a lifelong problem with weight, fitness, and all those associated self-esteem issues. And since this is, by God, my blog, I figure I can write about the whole mess here. Don’t like it? Don’t read it.

Here’s the deal. Back in high school, I could twirl a baton. Not much of a talent, I know, but it was what I had. The problem was, I weighed 118 lbs, and all the other twirlers were right at or under a hundred pounds. At 16, 18 pounds seems like a ton. I was the fat and ugly one, and you don’t ever really get over that.

Of course, I was 118 lbs of cute, curvy little Southern girl. A few years ago, I went to my class reunion, and they had decorated the room with poster-sized photos from the yearbook. There I was, in my sequined-bathing-suit glory, all 118 lbs of me. I gaped at the photo. My God. I was a freakin goddess of love, and I had no idea.

My friend Sonya said something to the effect of, “nobody could figure out why you were always on a diet .” All I know is, I was completely in shock. So goddam gorgeous, and I never even knew.

But fat, imagined or real, has been a major factor in my life. I am now bigger than I have ever been, than I ever imagined being. Bigger than when I was 9 months pregnant with either daughter.

But I want to do something about that, and I think the first step is to figure out how I got here. So for the foreseeable future, Fridays are gonna be spent talking about fat, fitness, and how I ended up like this.

To quote dear Bette: fasten your seat belts, it’s gonna be a bumpy night. Or two. Or several.

Stick with me. Maybe we’ll all learn something.

I Just Don’t Know …

Ok, y’all. Sometimes I just don’t know how realistic I’m being. I have the fairly prestigious day job. (At work, I frequently quote Bridget Jones: Yes, I’m very busy and important; what do you want?) I have the bulk of the legal responsibility for a corporation with 6000 employees, 41,000 clients, and a sh!tload of family, friends, and interested parties.

I give it my freaking all, all day at work. Then I come home and I try to write stories about interesting people having interesting inter-personal relationships. But, crap. I don’t know if I truly have anything to say, or if anyone really cares to read my little scribbles.

Tonight I am indulging in the time-honored tradition of the overwrought pity-party. Maybe tomorrow I’ll buck up, stiffen my upper lip, and carry on.

Then again, maybe not. And it won’t make much difference either way.