Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Short Post

Postcard from PostSecret.com website

One of the things I look forward to each week is the new post from PostSecret.  People mail in their secrets on postcards.  I've used quite a few of them as story prompts quite successfully.

This particular card stood out a few weeks ago.  I thought about how often we give others a pardon while beating ourselves up for past mistakes. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

TV: From Problem to Solution

Last night I watched a program on Adam Lanza, the young man who did the Sandy Hook killings. Adam had numerous mental health problems. His mother had guns. Hi mother taught him to shoot guns. He was disenfranchised, moved from school to school, classroom to classroom. He played violent video games. He had few friends. His parents were divorced and he had cut off ties to his father or older brother. In short, he exhibited every warning sign that we're told to look for as parents and educators.

Adam's problems were deep and complicated. The solutions are too, but we have to start somewhere.

Yesterday this article from the LA Times was in our local paper.  Here are a couple of quotes from the article.

"A study conducted by the University of Otago in New Zealand concluded that every extra hour of television watched by children on a weeknight increased by 30 percent the risk of having a criminal conviction by age 26."

"'Young adults who had spent more time watching television during childhood and adolescence were significantly more likely to have a criminal conviction, a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and more aggressive personality traits compared with those who who viewed less television.'"

The solutions to this problem were simple:

1.  Limit children's television time to two hours or less. (Even this seems excessive to me.)
2.  Limit the programs they watch to educational or non-violent shows.
3.  Make television watching part of the solution (programs that promote positive behavior) rather than the problem.

Maybe these are small early steps that parents can take toward the prevention of violence in at-risk children. It made sense to me.

If you have a child in the home, how do you handle the television?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Most Loved

(I'm posting in-between times this week because I missed last week. I promise to get back on the Wednesday schedule beginning next week.) 

Today I'm sharing the first draft of a piece I wrote today in honor of Valentine's Day.  It's a little longer than my usual post, but I hope you'll stick around to the end. :) 

It's all too easy to think of February 14 as Lovers' Day instead of Day of Love. Maybe my words will inspire you to think of the day when you felt the most loved.

Most Loved

That word circled my mind as I listened to my friend talk about her love affair with a married man.
On a trip they took to the coast, lying in bed in a hotel room overlooking the ocean, he told her he adored her. 
“He adored me,” she said, her face pink with love, a small smile unable to be contained.  “No one has ever told me they adored me.”
I think now, this week of Valentine’s Day, of the time when I felt most adored.
We sit on a flowered sofa, my great grandparents and I. There is cake; it is my first birthday. My great grandmother stares straight into the camera, a forkful of cake on its way to her mouth. Her head is wrapped in a scarf and the ties hang over her ample bosom. Black socks and shoes angle on the floor over her bare calves. Her glasses reflect the flash of the camera.
My great grandfather and I are the stars of this photograph though. I am leaning into my great grandmother, a smile lighting my face, my hands playing with each other in that way that children have when they’re so excited that even their hands get into the action. My feet are in motion too and there’s a tiny circle around one of them—from the flash? Today with my new-agey spirituality I might say it’s an orb, an energy ball, a symbol of angels or spirits.
My great grandfather leans away from us, pipe in hand, plate with a slice of cake in his lap.  Black suit—his Sunday suit?—over a tie-less white shirt, hair thick and silver. He stares down at me with the most delight. He adores me, his first great granddaughter on her first birthday.
Their last name was Brown and that’s the color I associate with them.  The brown sugar cookies she used to make, the first thing we’d smell when we walked in their house.  The brown walls and floors, worn with many footsteps, a few blackened places still remaining from a fire that caught up in a bedroom.  The brown boats my great-grandfather used to make.  The print in their kitchen of the little girl holding a brown hen that they always used to say was me.
Of course I don’t remember that day of my first birthday.  But in my father’s things we found many jewels, including old negatives.  The photographs must have been long sent to relatives or put in albums or cleaned out of drawers because we never found them.  At the time I was taking a darkroom class. My own attempts at black and white photography were mediocre so I took the old negatives into the darkened concrete room of the community center to discover the treasures they held.  When I put this negative in the light and saw the three of us on the flowered couch I knew that this was no ordinary occasion, not just a birthday, but a moment in time when I was truly loved.
I understand now, looking at the photograph on my desk, the reasons that my friend doesn’t want to give up this feeling of being adored. I feel lonely for the moment captured on the couch, a moment that I cannot remember.  I don’t blame her for wanting to hang on to it, this unabashed admiration of her lover. I can’t tell her to let it go.