Tuesday, November 11th, 2008


My family is Southern. That’s right, a capital S is required. Not only are we Southern, but our roots are the Southern Genteel. You know, the cotillion-having, who-are-your-people-asking, butter-wouldn’t-melt types. If we were white, we’d be rich to boot, but we are Creole and that’s a whole other ballgame.

Anyway, my family is Southern. Which means I was raised with certain tenets:
1. Do not wear out your welcome. (Friends, family or stranger alike – you spend a little quality time and always leave long before they start hinting for you to go. Always think about the fact that they may have other things to do.)

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So what is perfect and why are we all trying so damned hard to achieve it?

Putting all spiritual discussion aside, let’s just have an honest airing of a reality check. Not one of us currently walking this round ball called Earth is perfect. None. Not even that newborn over there, his screaming is bothering someone, hence – imperfect.

So, we tell children to “be themselves” and that it’s ok “if everyone is different”. (Aside: This does not hold true for primary education in America, unfortunately. With the standardized testing ruling the pocketbooks of the education administrators, everyone needs to be the same. Even if they aren’t. Lying is encouraged. Learning, sadly, is not.)

Anyway, we feed our kids these lines then suddenly, about puberty, we start telling them they aren’t good enough. They are doing it all wrong and if they don’t change – they will be failures as adults and human beings. Mind you, two weeks prior we weren’t declaring winners and losers at T-Ball because God forbid our kid be a loser.

Then we become young adults and go to college where we get the startling dose of reality that, Hey we are NOT all winners. You can (and probably are) a loser at something. Sometimes it’s academia (more and more these days) and sometimes it’s sports and sometimes it’s social skills. Regardless, we suddenly think our parents were right and we are doing it all wrong.

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The economy sucks.  It’s not a newsflash, but why it has gotten to this point might be if you’re not paying attention.  I love my country.  My father was in the military for 26 years and I grew up a died-in-the-wool patriot.  That being said, America is nowhere near perfect.  We have some growing up to do as a nation and while we’re ahead in some areas, we’re tragically young in others.

Take for instance the “air of entitlement” most of us have.  Yes, I said us, because I’m as guilty as the next of spending recklessly because God forbid I deny myself something or have to wait for it.  I’m an American, by God, the wealthiest country in the world (really?!) with milk and honey flowing over every valley, couture clothing for all and a free latte from Starbucks for anyone who completed high school.

Well, OK – maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it’s the behavior of a nation in trouble.  The United States of America, a country built on the premise that you could have anything, be anything, go anywhere if you were willing to work for it.  We are quite proud of this heritage, but in the past few decades we’ve tried to drop an important piece – the “willing to work for it” part.

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I hate people who can’t drive. I know you’ve said the very same thing, likely about me, but honestly – I don’t care. I can drive. I’ve had two accidents EVER and both were caused by other people. (Technically one was caused by a spider, but we won’t get into that.)

When driving down the street there seem to be three types of drivers and at one time or another, we’ve all been one of these people. Imagine you’re going down a three lane… err, lane and riding a horse. It’s a nice horse, nothing flashy like those damned Arabians but a sound quarter-horse with good speed in the straightaway. You’re riding along when ahead of you in your lane is someone riding a cow.

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Everyone wants to go backwards or start over. I find this to be a frustrating attitude. It’s like people don’t realize that things happen for a reason. You couldn’t be the person you are today without the experiences that got you there. Good, bad or otherwise benign – all of your past culminates in your present and adds to your future.

Still, everyone seems to want a rewind button. I personally think it’s a lack of faith to even consider it. Does that seem to be a non sequiter? Bear with me. Faith is a foundation and I’m not talking religion here because I don’t care what you believe in so long as you believe in something. Faith is that belief in more than human beings; that there is something or someone more powerful available to help you along the path of life; and that there is a destination for life that goes beyond a 6-foot deep hole and a eulogy.

With faith, the rest of the world has a chance of making sense. All the horrible things we, as humans, do to one another actually have a place in the grand scheme of things. I’m not saying that we necessarily understand that great plan, but the knowledge that it’s there provides hope. With hope, the past becomes a stepping stone to a better place.

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Do you ever find yourself thinking internally thoughts you would never say aloud due to fear of offending someone or saying it wrong or generally making a mistake?

Do you ever slip up and find yourself saying, “Oh, was that my outside voice?”

Me too.

Now, I know a thing or two about guilt. I was raised Catholic for the first seven years of my life and the remaining years by people who were raised Catholic for their entire lives. I should write a book about guilt. I could give training lessons about guilt, but I would need my mother and grandmother as guest speakers. Experts in the field, you know.

Anyway, I have enough Jewish friends to know that supposedly they have the corner on guilt, but honestly I think they go to the same training school. On one side of the hall the teachers dress like penguins and discipline with rulers. This would not be experience talking at all. Thanks Mrs. Walker for looking out for your third graders in Wednesday Mass. Oh yes, a big shout out to my mother and father for signing the permission slip giving those repressed women the right to beat me at will. What were you thinking? I bet that’s why they closed that school. For beating little kids. How do you feel about that?- you were an ENABLER! On the other side of the hall, men with funny accents and hats that give you money for doing things right. I’m not actually sure that’s accurate but that’s what I choose to believe, how else do Jewish people learn to be rich?

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