Friday, January 28, 2011

Can I get an Amen?

So far, 2011 has sucked.  I mean really sucked.  I can see the end in sight and I'm encouraged by little indications that things are getting better.  I'm not going to let this get to me either.  Going boldly forward in faith and hope.

January is typically a tough month for me anyway.  I'm the budget coordinator for my division at work and our fiscal years run from July to June.  So January means I have to check where we are for the current year and start projecting for the coming year.  It take a couple of weeks and lots of spreadsheets for me to catch up with everyone, find out what's changed and what's coming down the pike.   The result of my work means that our CTO can make some informed decisions about spending for the current year and make solid predictions of where we need to invest. 

This year, to complicate matters, I came down with a terrible cold.  I'm still coughing a full 4 weeks later.  It's one of those awful coughs that settles right in your chest and you constantly feel like you need to swallow, but you can't because there's nothing there to swallow.  So you start coughing and it feels like your lungs are about to burst out of your body.   Between one thing and another, I missed a few days of work, but mostly I just worked my normal schedule and went home to fall asleep on the couch.  Sleep has been fitful - a few hours at a time with very few full nights of sleep.  I'm looking forward to a real good sleep.

Then there's my car.  I have a 1999 Nissan Sentra XE, black, 5-speed manual transmission.  It has just over 85,000 miles on it and I don't put more than a couple thousand miles on it a year.  I live near my job and walk or use transit most of the time.  On weekends, I run my errands around town.  Occasionally, I'll drive to the coast or out to visit my sister or just go for a drive.  Gas prices have limited my pleasure driving somewhat.  Anyway, my clutch has been making overtures of unhappiness for some time.  I was going to get it looked at as soon as I had gotten my tax refund. But the car had other ideas.  On a rainy Saturday two weeks ago, as I was out doing my errands and grocery shopping, the clutch just gave out.  I managed to baby it home.  I'm fortunate to live across the street from a AAA approved auto shop and I took it to them explaining my financial constraints and concerns.  The new clutch was 600.00.  Just about all the money I had.  The irony is that my registration is due at the end of the month...and I don't have the money to pay it.  So I'll be illegal for a couple of days until my next payday rolls around. 

Today my Facebook account got spammed with a virus.  All day long people have been calling, emailing, texting, letting me know that this has happened and I need to change my passwords right away.  Of course, I've already done that.  What I find frustrating is that anyone would really think the posting is from me.  There's a misspelling in it people!  I may be a little lazy in my grammar from time to time, but spelling??  No way.

But this year is about me taking small, thoughtful steps toward a happier me.  So I'm not letting the universe get me down.  I'm still here.  My friends still love me.  My work is still gratifying.  And my goals are clearer with each passing day. 

I'm going to be healthier, happier, more satisfied spiritually, more creative, more open to love and I'm going back to Paris.  Maybe not this year.  But soon.  And for a real long time.   And you can help me.  One of my goals is to write here at least once a week.  So if you don't hear from me by next Friday, feel free to send me a reminder.  2011, I'm here...and I'm staying. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sticks and Stones

For the past several days, since the tragic shooting in Arizona, that childhood taunt has been running through my mind.  "Sticks and stone may break my bones but names will never hurt me."  Even as I child I knew that wasn't true.  Names do hurt.  Words do have power to harm.  Ask anyone who has heard over and over from a parent, "You'll never amount to anything." "You're just like your (mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, etc.)"
In my home, calling someone stupid or retard was a sin.  My mother had a sister with Down's Syndrome and I had a cousin who was mentally retarded from birth.  Those words were never allowed, not even in anger.  
I once called someone a 'fruit'; I didn't even know what it meant, I had heard it on the playground at school.  The word flew out of my mouth and I was immediately summoned by my mother, "Katherine Cecelia, what did you say?"  She tried to explain to my 11 year old mind why the word might be offensive, but the message was clear.  Words can hurt.
The internet has given people the ability to share words with the speed of light.  You can tweet and IM, email and blog any old idea that you have and someone out there is listening.  Someone is going to take your words to heart and act on them.  As a writer and a reader, as a person who gives thought to her words and agonizes over what she wants to say, I have found the internet to be a marvelous place to share my ideas, my hopes and dreams.  I have met wonderful people who have enriched my life beyond measure. 
But I have also encountered people, ideas and words that strike fear into me.  It has been my practice to ignore those words and ideas, to dismiss them as extreme and not something that rational, thinking people would give any countenance.   Alas, I, along with many thousands of others, have been mistaken.  Words - hateful, angry, dark, incendiary words - have given license to a culture of violence that must be addressed. 
I'm not talking about laying blame or pointing to this or that individual.  I'm saying that the time has come for all of us - most especially those in positions of influence and power - to think before we speak.  To count to ten when we are angry.  To breath deeply and consider what we want our words to do.  If we are encouraging people to act, be very specific about the action we want them to take.  To understand that words are violent and they can kill.