Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's Day - The Emotional Roller-coaster Ride of Manhood

Go over to the Spin Cycle. Topic is Father's Day.  Enjoy all the great reads.

Father's Day was a hoot.  I know of five arguments that broke out that day. Some serious, some not so serious, but it made for a really weird weekend.  It emphasized how stressed out everyone is, especially the men in the family.

I feel sorry for guys sometimes.  I was brought up in the knight in shining armor era, a fantasy held by many young women. While my man was courting me, I fell in love with him because he was funny, brilliant, and talented.  He did so many things well.  Maybe that's why I thought he could fix anything and everything.  Geez, wasn't he a husband and dad, a man ready to take on all problems and solve them.

Men come home to the news that a pipe busted, the refrigerator stopped working, the car broke down, or the sewer backed up.  Then all eyes look to him to fix it.  What do you mean you don't know what you are doing? You're A Man. And if you don't have the extra cash to pay for large repairs, men will get down and dirty and learn by doing, bitching and swearing all the way.

I feel for them, but at the same time, no way would I slosh through three inches of waste water, not as long as there was a man around to do it for me.

We learn that they are as vulnerable and as fallible as we are. When reality pushed my fantasy aside, I felt gypped. He was supposed to take care of me like my daddy wasn't he?   I soon realized that we were in it together.  Together sounded good, fair and empowering.  How fair was it for me to think he could fix everything that went wrong in my life, just because he was the man in the family.

I realized that most men are really just the boys their mama and daddy raised.  Men need their women just as much as women need their men. In the beginning, we are all just inexperienced grown up kids before we become wise old folks.

Father's Day is usually a very nice day with events celebrating all the dads in our family.  This weekend was an exception. It was a very weird weekend.

My brother in law picked a fight with my sister because, well, it was Father's Day.

My other brother in law picked a fight with my other sister, because, it was Father's Day.

My mother in law and husband exchanged a few heated words. It was about to become a full emotional blow out but luckily cooler heads prevailed when the subject was changed abruptly and they let it go.

I thought I was going to have an argument with my hubby, when I told him he should apologize to his mum.  But he would have nothing to do with it.  He refused to budge on his position and I really couldn't argue with him, because he was basically right.  Argument averted.  Yeah.

My brother in law above decided to pick a fight with the rest of his extended family via email accusing us of not doing enough. We are not taking the bait.

There are things happening in their lives that are bringing the men in my family down.  But they are reverting to boys kicking and screaming because it is becoming too hard to deal with the hardships.  And who could blame them. It's natural to want out.  They are in the denial stage and the anger stage.  Hopefully they will reach the acceptance stage some time soon.

For two of them, this is the first year without their dads.

For three of them, they have mothers with latter stages of depression, Alzheimer's, and lung disease.  They all wished they had sisters or women in their families to dump their mothers on take up the slack and help takeover their mother's care.  They are stuck and want to escape, but can't.

One broke his leg in the middle of working on getting his family in a new home. But I think there is a lot of guilt involved as well, because my sister does EVERYTHING anyways and now he has to sit there and be witness to it.

Two of them have brothers that have embezzled funds from their ailing mothers making one mom practically destitute.

So Father's Day, a day celebrating men, was a day full of problems with the women in their lives. They don't want the title of being patriarch of the family, that belonged to their dear departed fathers.  There is a lot of guilt, stress and melancholy when dealing with their moms.  They have to step in and take over the roles of their fathers, becoming their mothers' advocates, care-giver, financial advisor, and for one, her companion.

Stressed out fathers. Yes.  Feeling like celebrating Father's Day.  No.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Travel Companions

I have found over the years that I love traveling with my husband.  Whether that be running around doing our weekly errands or a weekend road trip.

The two of us tooling down the road ready for high adventure, even if the adventure is just driving to the local fruit market. Always prepared, Queen Maker packs cold water, coffee, and cream for me. On longer excursions there are oranges, apples and sometimes trail mix and jerky.  We love the snacks when we travel.  We bring our own coffee bean and coffee maker just to make sure we have an amble supply of the luscious brew.

The car is a comfortable traveling sanctuary.  We talk and talk.  We listen to great music.  We munch and crunch all the way down the highway.  Rarely does either one of us sleep on long road trips.  We take turns pulling out our notebooks writing down our thoughts and ideas.  We are quiet together too.

A car meant adventure.  We're on the road and who knows what the road will bring. Adventure was possible.  Yes there were flat tires.   I cried when I locked the keys in the car at a Kentucky rest stop.  Almost running out of gas.  Bad hotels and even worse restaurants.

We once found the only restaurant in the Western Hemisphere that could make a breakfast taste awful.   Seriously, breakfast.   Before we went in, I made the mistake of saying, "How can you ruin breakfast? It's just two eggs, potatoes, and toast."  Well, it can be done.

But there were also the unexpected little restaurants with atmosphere and great food.  Lovely evenings in our hotel room.  The crowd that gathered at the rest stop to help sooth me and help retrieve my keys.  The Michigan State Trooper who changed our tire for us. The massive brown eagle we saw on the road.  The surprising rest stop with a path to two gorgeous waterfalls and a small box canyon.

A car meant freedom.  Maybe it's because we were together before either one of us had a driver's license.  When we borrowed our parents' car, we felt freedom for a few hours.  And when we could afford our own, freedom was complete.

A car is a time machine. Only Brother described the car as a time machine and I understood what he meant immediately. Queen Maker and I used to ride our bikes or walk everywhere.  Distance didn't matter much to us, we rode miles and miles.  We rode two hours to the zoo one day, against the wind, then back again.  We walked four miles a day to each other's house.  Make that eight for Queen Maker.  The time machine cut down travel time and allowed us to go farther with the time allotted.

So a rode trip is in our future.  We haven't been on one for a long time.  We were thinking about flying to our destination.  An airplane might be the ultimate time machine but right now, it doesn't sound attractive at all.

So we will pack up our car with all the comforts of home, with the things we love to eat and hear and drink.  We will listen to each other carefully.  We'll marvel at the landscape.  And the coffee will be flowing.  We will enjoy each other's company and hold hands for miles and miles and miles.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Technological Wonder - Will The Wonder Ever Cease?

Technology is the topic over at the Spin Cycle.  Do you love it, hate it?  Could you do without it?  Take the button, this technological wonder, and it will transport you to more Spins on technology.  Wow! It's an actual transporter.  Beam me up, Scottie!

An adventure finding nature's technology - Three of my aunts were walking a narrow path and we were following them.  The path went through beautiful tropical forest and a lush valley until after twenty minutes we finally reached our destination.  Excitement rose because we could hear and smell the water ahead of us, and relief because we were near the end.

The spot was a tropical beauty, picture postcard perfect.  A small water fall fell into a pool about 20 feet below.  Large flat rocks lined the edges of the pool.  The pool shaded on one side by trees, the other in full sunlight. The water was crystal clear and cold.  It was the most inviting place on the planet.

We children were there to take a bath.  We plunged into the icy water, screaming with both shock and delight.  We passed a bar of soap and washed our hair.  Shivering with cold, we laid on the flat rocks to warm ourselves.

When it was time to go, my aunts climbed to the edge of the waterfall and filled the jugs they brought with water.  We were filled with awe and admiration when they placed the tall, heavy jugs on their heads and without using their arms to balance the jugs, walked back the way we came.

To get fresh water, they made this walk everyday.  It was a novelty for us, four children ages 7-12, visiting from a very modern life in Michigan. We experienced a walk back in time.  We were walking a path that our mother had taken many times when she was a child.  It was thrilling.

Until one year, they wrote my mother that they were finally able to dig a well and install a pump.  My aunts were delighted.  But the memory of that day made me realize that when we gain something, we also lose something too.

Technology - the ripples are endless.  Technology begets technology.

It's amazing to me that the invention on the cotton gin allowed a boon to the textile industry and that production of textiles using automated looms, with its punch card technology would be the predecessor to the computer.

Whether good or bad I sometimes think that it will take two generations or so to really determine the ripple effects of certain technologies. An example is television.  When first introduced it was a wonder. Instant information, education, and entertainment. A symbol of prosperity.  I thought it helped to expand the mind.

A few channels are worth viewing but right now,  I see it mostly as a medium that dulls and numbs the mind, a type of addiction or smokescreen. Material messages bombard, minimum standards and the overly dramatic exalted, and is more bizarre entertainment than informational or educational.  The screen is a feast for the eyes, but starving the mind.

Remember this?  We were washing clothes by hand when my mother got this older version of a modern convenience.

When I was seven, I got my arm stuck in one while helping my mother with the laundry.  I impulsively put my hand between the rollers and it took my arm through up to my shoulder.  Traumatized but okay,  I didn't want to go near it.  But Mami said it was either that or wash our clothes by hand.  No way, not fun at all, hand numbing work.  I was so thankful when we got a modern washing machine.

Dishwasher - No.  My mother had four daughters, why would she need a dishwasher.  Since I can't stand the thought of putting even the slightest remnant of food stuck on a plate into anyone's dishwasher, I must wash the plate first.  So it's usually clean when I put the dish in anyways.  So why bother with the redundancy.  My girlfriends and sisters say, you don't have to do that.  Umm.  Yes I do.

Internet - Really fun and information at your fingertips, but addictive and a real time sucker.

Cell phones - At first I was against them.  But I changed my mind when 9/11 happened.  Cell phones allowed loved ones to say I love you and good bye one last time. I discovered they were a lifeline.

Indoor lights and plumbing - good.  Refrigerators, washing machines, and stoves. - good.  Cars vs. Horses - good.  But with every innovation, there had to be something lost.  Maybe those losses will be missed or not. Maybe the losses were unwarranted.  Maybe there were many wonderful things lost. But the next generation will never know of them.

When I look at technology's journey during my grandmother's lifetime, then my mother's lifetime, and now mine, it seems amazing.  If you say land line, dial telephone, television tubes, eight tracks, cassette player, or walkman, kids today will look at you as though you've talking klingon-ese or something.

I am excited to see what the next fifty years will bring.  During my son's lifetime, or his son's after him, what wonders or of technology will be in place.  How much will be gained and how much will be lost and forgotten?  Will technology gains offset the negatives?  Only time will tell.

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