If you were to ask me what my favorite genre of music was, I would not give you a straight answer. I don’t really have one. My music tastes are complicated.
I’m a lyrics gal. Words move me, which should come as a surprise to absolutely no one. I suppose I could say I love rock and roll, but not all of it. I don’t care for screaming guitar music. So, riddle me this: How is it that someone who’s a lyrics gal that doesn’t care for screaming guitar music would list as one of her favorite songs of all time Always with Me, Always with You by Joe Satriani? A song with no lyrics and plenty of screaming guitar?
If you were to ask me if there were any genres of music I didn’t like, two would come to mind. The first would be rap music. Then I would tell you that I love LL Cool J, and that I’ve probably logged hundreds of miles on the Stairmaster with his Mama Said Knock You Out CD blasting through my headphones.
I know. I’m a a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.
The other genre would be country music. For me, listening to country music is akin to eating gummy bears. A few are sweet and satisfying, but past a certain point I begin to feel nauseous and regret every having opened the bag. It’s strange, this repulsion I have for country music. Because some of the best stories in the world are penned by writers of country music. Most country songs are simple and honest. I should love country music, but I just don’t. Maybe there’s something lacking in me which makes me turn away from it. I’m not a fan of sappy love songs either, but the lyrics to Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch”–arguably the sappiest of all love songs–may hold the key to my feelings towards country music:
Sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much
And I have to close my eyes and hide
Maybe it’s just a little too honest for me at times. Maybe it stirs a longing in me that I know on some level will never be filled. Music has its own special power, and it affects each of us differently I suppose. The power of country music is that it sometimes makes me sad.
Having said all of that, there are some songs that sum up a sentiment better than our own feeble words ever could, and sometimes those songs are country songs. I heard this song on the radio the other day, not for the first time, but perhaps for the first time, I really heard its message.
This is my wish for you. At Christmas, and always.
The interwebs don’t need yet another blogger telling everyone what they think about what happened in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday. What could I possibly say that someone else hasn’t already said? Truth be told, I’m still struggling to process my emotions; to come to grips with them so I can help my kids process their own. In the end, I decided I had to say something if for no other reason but a selfish one: sometimes I just have to allow my mind and heart to, as Billy Coffey says, bleed onto the page or I find myself drowning in my own thoughts.
As I write this, it’s Tuesday morning December 18, 2012. I’ve purposely avoided the news and the internet since Friday afternoon. Horrible things happens every minute of every day, but this? The news of this absolutely sucker punched me. I don’t know if this will be one of those events where you’ll always remember where you were and what you were doing when you first heard about it, but it feels that way now.
Me? I was in the parking lot of a Best Buy. When I was pulling into a space, I caught “more from Newtown, Connecticut as details become available”. I had no clue what the anchor was talking about, but she sounded ominous. Rather than waiting through the commercial break, I went into the store to do some Christmas shopping. I remember snapping a picture of a DVD thinking I would post it on Twitter along with a snarky remark. I don’t even remember what the DVD or comment was now. I only remember thinking that if something really horrible had happened in Connecticut, maybe sending snarky tweets about B movies was an incredibly insensitive thing to do. Ah, that small, still voice–this time I didn’t ignore it.
Once back in my car, I heard the anchor say, “Twenty-five confirmed dead, eighteen of them children.” I put the car back in park and just sat there in that parking lot for what seemed like a very long time. Long enough for an updated body count. Twenty children confirmed dead. Two had died at a local hospital. As I listened to the news I began to get a sketchy picture of what had happened. A man with a gun had entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and began shooting. The majority of his victims were believed to be kindergartners.
My first thoughts were, “WHO DOES THAT? Who goes on a shooting rampage where his intended victims are SIX-YEAR OLDS? WHY? SWEET JESUS, WHY?
It was just too much. Too horrible to fathom. I wanted to turn it off. Make them stop telling me about it. I hit the “scan” button on my radio. It stopped at MSNBC. That’s when that feeling of anguish and disbelief turned to anger. A reporter was attempting to interview surviving children as they were being lead away from the school.
That’s when I turned off the news and decided to stay off of the Internet.
That evening, we watched television, but only shows which we had previously recorded on the DVR. What happened in Newtown was still constantly on my mind–the town in my prayers–I just couldn’t sit through hours of news coverage, nor was I prepared to answers any questions from my kids.
After a few hours of tossing and turning in my bed Friday night, I grabbed a pillow and a blanket and headed for the couch. This is not an uncommon occurrence, but on this night I elected to forego my usual late night news viewing in favor of yet another pre-recorded show. As misfortune would have it, the television in the den was tuned to a news station. Before I was able to find a recorded show, I saw Geraldo Rivera standing in front of what should have been an abandoned hill in what is normally a sleepy little town. He was rehashing the events of the day. The camera cuts away to a car pulling away from the scene. It zooms in tight on a distraught woman in the passenger seat shielding her eyes from the bright lights of the cameras. My heart sank even deeper. I felt ashamed. It was less like news coverage, much more like voyeurism feeding off the pain of this heartbroken community.
Yesterday, I once again attempted to listen to the news on my radio while running errands. I heard more about the shooter, pro and con arguments for stricter gun laws, opinions about the lack of adequate mental health care in this country–all the predictable discussions that arise from these all too common mass killings.
And then I heard about Vicky Soto. The 27 year old teacher who died while attempting to shield her students from the gunfire. Once again, I was sitting in a parking lot. I broke down. I sat in that parking lot and wept for a long time.
I still can’t watch the news. I know there were many more heroes on that day, and I fully intend on reading their stories. Honoring them and the victims of this senseless act seems like the right thing to do.
But for now–for me–I feel a greater need to simply give the community of Newtown one less prying eye, one less unsolicited opinion. I offer instead the only thing I can give them.
My prayers and my tears.
Of these, there seems to be an endless supply.
If you’ve managed to read through this entire post, thank you indulging my need to get these thoughts down. I saw this posted on Facebook the other day. I thought it was appropriate.
Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting
Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child
Hope that you don’t mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home
Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven’s silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world
Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born
So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world
I’ve posted this twice before, but clearly my message is going unheard and/or unheeded, because you people are still committing horrible crimes against fashion under the guise of holiday spirit. So, since you’re still pulling your ugly sweaters out of storage, I’m pulling this post out as well:
Breaking my Silence
Yesterday, I posted the following tweet:
I’m going to write a post tomorrow that needs to be written. It may offend some people, but I’ve got to take a stand.
About most things, I am willing to speak out, but on this particular subject I felt the damage might be too great; the cost too high. But then I received the following reply from @peacegardenmama:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1929-1968
Thank you, Roxane. Your tweet gave me the courage to finally end my silence; to speak out against what might be the greatest abomination of the Christmas season.
I’m talking about, of course…
The holiday sweater:
First introduced as a form of seasonal birth control in communist China, they soon made their way across the Pacific to Europe and the New World. But this still does not answer the question of why, in a country where its citizens have the freedom to wear anything they choose, people would voluntarily wear one of these things.
At first, the blight of the holiday sweater was only observed in the weakest of our society–those not in a position to make sound, educated decisions about their wardrobe choices. I speak, of course, of the very young:
and the elderly:
So what of the rest of society? I have a theory:
Having worked in the fashion industry for several years (and by “having worked in the fashion industry” I mean “I worked in the Junior Department of a local department store”), I know that home interior trends tend to follow clothing fashion trends. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof:
From the runways and red carpets of one fashion season:
To the trendy, overpriced furniture stores the following season:
I think it’s important to remember that this is a one way street. Clothing fashions can trend to home fashions, but when you try to flip this trend, the results are often disastrous:
As a Christian, I find it disheartening that Christ followers seem particularly vulnerable to the mysterious allure of the holiday sweater.
Attend any Women’s Ministry Christmas Tea, luncheon or cookie exchange, and I dare you to swing a wiffle bat without hitting an attendee NOT wearing a holiday sweater.
I think this particular phenomenon can be traced back to a misinterpretation of scripture. The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you and treating your body as a holy temple. Perhaps in later translations it states, “the Holy Spirit shall come to dwell on your person. Maybe you should provide a comfy chair and a big picture window with a cat sitting in it.”
(Of course, this is pure conjecture on my part as I don’t own a copy of the New Living Translation Bible.)
I know I have focused on women’s holiday sweaters in this post, but in conclusion I want to urge men, women and children alike to think long and hard before the Christmas card photo this year. One hundred years from now, is this how you want to be remembered by future generations?
It seems the Christmas season has snuck up and found me ill-prepared once again. I blame this predicament on my disdain for retailers putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween and trying to rush me into the season. I blame political correctness run amok in a country where people say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” so as not to offend anyone and then look at me when I reply “Merry Christmas” to them as if I’ve just made a disparaging remark about their mother. (Incidentally, if someone were to wish me a Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanzaa, I would not be offended in the least–but that’s another rant for another day.) But first and foremost, I blame my own well-honed proclivity for procrastination and devastating laziness.
I have varying levels of holiday decorating. Level One decorating consists of outside lights adorning the house, wreaths on not only the front door but also wreaths on each window facing the street, a small wooden nativity scene, a large snowman surrounded by three ice skating penguins with blue lights encircling the entire scene to mimic a frozen pond, and a wooden Santa to greet visitors at the front door. On the inside of the house, there’s the fully decorated tree and mantle, a Christmas village spanning six shelves of the built-ins in the family room, a fancy nativity scene atop the piano, personalized miniature trees in each child’s room as well as a snowman themed tree in the kitchen. There are also wreaths on each of the french doors leading into the office off the family room and Christmas plates replacing the plates normally displayed in the dining room. Dispersed throughout the house are Christmas themed candles and various trinkets.
It should be noted that Level One Christmas decorating has not been achieved since I let my prescription for Adderall lapse over four years ago.
Level Two decorating consists of MOST of the above, less the kids’ trees, the snowman tree, the Christmas village and the wreaths on the office doors. For me, this is still a fairly daunting process.
Neither level was achieved this year. I’m at Level Three. Although if one were to rank by output of effort and number of decorations, it would be more accurate to describe it as Level 7, 8 or 27.
Oh, I’ve got the essentials done.
The tree is up and decorated…
Even though there are just as many left off the tree this year than there are on the tree.
The mantle is decorated.
The centerpiece, the reason for the season is prominently displayed. Not only the fancy set on the piano,
but also the small wooden nativity set in the front yard.
Visitors will be greeted by a friendly Santa Claus made by my neighbors a few years ago,
And I will be greeted each morning with incessant barking from Buddy Love the Dog,
who is convinced that there is an intruder on the other side of the sidelight window who just won’t leave no matter how loudly and often he’s barked at.
Do I feel a guilty about my lack of enthusiasm for decorating this year? A little, but not too much. For me, it’s the process of decorating as much as the final results that I enjoy. This year, there’s been lots of out of town business trips and even more after school activities that take all of us away from home, so there’s not been much time for putting up the Christmas decorations.
The stockings are hung by the chimney with care.
The tree is up and even has a few presents under it.
So rather than stress about all that could have been done that wasn’t, I’m simply going to call what we’ve done enough and enjoy what’s left of the Christmas holiday season.
To say you don’t follow politics is tantamount to saying you don’t keep up with the news at all, because in this era of the 24 hour news cycle, everything is politicized.
By now, you’re probably aware that Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins then drove to Arrowhead Stadium where he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, an act witnessed by his coach and the team’s general manager.
You also may have heard various media pundits rushing to make sense of such a senseless act. So far, I’ve heard
the gun culture is to blame
domestic violence is to blame
head injuries sustained by football players are to blame
having children out of wedlock is to blame
drug and/or alcohol abuse is to blame
instantaneous celebrity status and wealth without coping mechanisms are to blame
Everyone can agree what happened last Saturday morning was a horrible tragedy, yet I suppose it’s human nature–this desire to hold someone or something accountable, to assign blame to some tangible entity–someone or something which can be made the object of our wrath. Since Belcher is no longer here, our vitriol must find a new home.
Reactions to these deaths are so sadly predictable. As Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins’s families struggled to grasp the reality that they were dead, within hours people were already lining up their agendas and crafting their arguments to support why more needs to be done about the gun culture, domestic violence, head injuries, having children out of wedlock, drug and alcohol abuse, the price of fame, (insert your cause here). I watched as a news anchor became visibly angry upon hearing Bob Costas “gun culture” commentary, because there was no mention of domestic violence in his editorial. Another talking head was incensed that no one was talking about how football players are four times more likely to suffer from mental illness due to head injuries and that nothing was being done about it. Lots of talk about why this happened, very little time given to mourn the loss of these two young people, who they were when they were alive or who they left behind.
What becomes lost in our attempts to demonize our preferred objects of wrath is this:
A baby girl will grow up without a mother or a father, and will eventually learn why both are gone. She will instead be raised by her grandmother, a woman who may be forever haunted by the memory of witnessing her beloved son murdering the mother of her granddaughter.
Coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Scott Pioli will mostly likely replay a scenario countless times in their minds where, despite their desperate pleas and attempts to prevent it, they stand in helpless horror as one of their own ends his life by putting a bullet into his head.
This story has horrified us, but as with most tragedies we see on the news, it will soon be relegated to the recesses of our minds. We’re not apt to forget it completely, but it won’t be something we struggle with every day for the rest of our lives. Such is not the case for those closest to Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins, all of whom have access to the same media outlets as the rest of us.
In our collective effort to dissect and explain humanity, let’s not lose sight of our own.
Way back in December of 2008, I stumbled across what I now consider to be the best source of never-ending blog fodder gold (besides my inclination to rant incessantly): the Sky Mall catalog. Looking back upon four years of sky mall posts, it occurs to me that I’ve spent a great deal of time making fun of all the ridiculously overpriced items available through this inflight magazine, which honestly, is a little unfair. Not everything in the Sky Mall catalog is ridiculously overpriced, some items are just plain ridiculous.
With this in mind, I bring you this year’s edition of katdish’s Sky Mall holiday gift guide (you’re welcome):
For the Connoisseur: Marley Coffee, 8 oz $29.99
“Bob Marley always said he would return to farming one day. Bob’s son Rohan fulfills that dream.”
Oh, okay. I have no beef with buying this coffee. According to Sky Mall, it’s “sustainably grown, ethically farmed and artisan roasted.” (Whatever that means.) Plus, a portion of every sale supports a worthy children’s charity. I’m just of the opinion that if Bob Marley had lived, he’d be growing something else besides coffee. Something now legally available in Oregon and Colorado.
For the Adventurer:
“We’ve reinvented the wheel! The Solowheel is the world’s first single wheel, battery operated, self-maneuvering vehicle.”
What could possibly go wrong? Well, according to Autoweek’s Mark Vaughn, who reviewed the Solowheel, “The problem is when the Solowheel gets up to speed, it slows you down by leaning the wheel backwards. If you’re not ready for this, you can be pitched forward at top speed–about ten miles per hour.” I give this thing 6 months before we start seeing montages of cringe-worthy face plant videos starring Solowheels and drunken college students.
The Solowheel: Personal injury attorney not included.
For the fashion challenged:
One of a Kind Shirts for One of a Kind Men, $69.99
“A One of a Kind Shirt allows you to show that you’re an individual, that you’re a little different than everyone else and you want them to take notice of who you are. 100% cotton, made from 10 different fabrics.”
Why wear ten ugly shirts ten days in a row when you can save time and wear them all at once?
For absolutely no one. Seriously, don’t buy this:
Stainless Steel Bracelet, $19.95
Do you know someone who is going through a difficult time? Facing what seems like insurmountable odds? What do you say to them? “I’ll pray for you”, is always a good line, but then you should probably actually pray for them. “I’m here for you if you need me”, is another good one, but they might take you up on that insincere offer.
Maybe you just want to acknowledge that you’re aware of their situation without having to personally invest in them. If that’s the case, there’s no more flippant, insincere cliche’ than “It is what it is”. And now thanks to the Sky Mall, you don’t even have to speak to them. Just give them a $20 bracelet and be done with them completely.
Incidentally, if you’re thinking of giving ME this bracelet for Christmas, fair warning. I may have to punch you in the face. And speaking of things that inspire acts of gratuitous violence in me…
For the desperate dreamer:
The Best Advice Ever by Ari Neptunia, $12.99
Self-help books rank fairly high on that list. Don’t get me wrong, I know the authors mean well, I just don’t think their succient, step-by-step advice is very effective because learning from other people’s mistakes is almost never as effective as learning from our own. But wait! The Best Advice Ever, which claims “Mistakes are the most destructive force in our lives” promises to “turn on the power of success, money and happiness with ZERO mistakes…supplies you with sharp advice on how to avoid mistakes in order to become successful, happy, wealthy and healthy.”
Wow. Really? I wonder if the deluxe edition comes hand delivered to you by a leprechaun riding on a unicorn.
The latest edition of the Sky Mall catalog is literally jam packed with delightful products to waste your money on, and I would strongly encourage to visit their website (which I won’t link here, but I’m sure you can Google it). I could review many more items, but I’ll leave you with my personal favorite.
For the casual believer:
The Hanukkah Tree Topper, $19.99