Oops, My Grammer

I’m always goofing up my spelling and grammar online. I make mistakes especially with blog posts. A friend from my Writers’ Guild shared with me this video this morning and it made me laugh. Weird Al Yankovic is so funny! I truly love his videos.

The Firefly’s Secret: A Story for Children

By J. Speer

The firefly was once merely a little bug who loved the sun with all his heart. Every day he flew through the valley. He greeted his friends in the sunshine. Wally the water buffalo would say, “Hi!” Then, he would continue munching lovely green grass. There was also Greg the Giraffe who tottered high and tall near the trees. The little bug would fly past the lion, the cheetahs, and even the hyenas. He would skim across the waters of the river and visit the hippos, the crocodiles, and fly over the rhinos. The little bug loved his valley. He loved the river, the trees, the rocks. In fact, his home was a big rock on the biggest hill to the side of the valley. It was a perfect place where he could see all, including the sun which he loved most of all.

Every day, the sun rose with beautiful light. The sun burst light everywhere onto every inch of the land. It glowed. It radiated. The sun was brilliant. The little bug admired the sun. When the sun was around, the fly was happy.

But every evening, the sun had to go. The little fly did not understand why. He wanted to play in the light of the sun. The sun would lower toward the horizon and the little bug would look at it sadly. It was time for the sun to go.

The little bug would fly back to the big rock where he could look over the valley. His friends all went to their places to sleep too. The little bug sat on the rock and sighed. He was very sad. Night after night, the little bug would sit on the rock and wait for the sun to return. One night,in the glow of the moonlight above him, the little bug began to cry.

The moon watched the little bug, sad and alone on the rock. The moon lowered in the sky to glow a soft light onto the big rock. The little bug looked up at the moon and sadly smiled.

“Why do you cry, little bug?” Asked the moon.

“I’m sad. I want the sun to come back,” said the little bug.

The moon looked at the little bug with compassion. She lowered closer to the big rock and glowed a beautiful night light.

“I have a secret to tell you. It is the secret of the sun and the secret of the moon and now it will be the secret of you…if you are ready,” said the moon.

“I am ready,” said the little bug.

“One time, a long, long time ago, the sun was all alone in the dark. He sat in the darkness and he was very sad just like you. He longed for a friend. He wanted someone to help him. He was very sad. Then, one day, he grew tired of being sad. He started to focus inside himself. He created light, a tiny spark made of self-love in his heart. He focused on that tiny spark and it grew to be a bigger spark. He kept fanning the flames of the spark within until it became bigger and bigger. Now he shines with the most brilliant of lights. His light of love shines everywhere and makes everyone happy around him. That is his secret. He had to create it within before he could shine it outside.”

She continued, “Shining the light within can be exhausting though even for the sun. So he must leave to rest and recover so he can continue to shine it the next day. The sun doesn’t want to leave you, little bug, he has to leave to rest.”

The moon looked fondly at the little bug. If she could hug her little friend, she would.

“I was once like you. You remind me of myself. I too missed the sun at night. We all did, the stars and I. One day, the sun told us the secret of his ability to shine. The stars and I tried very hard to find the spark within, the light of self-love, and slowly one by one we began to light up the midnight sky. I glow for me. I love my glow. It is soft and dreamy. I have a beautiful light within…and you will too now that you know the secret of how to shine for yourself and thereby, for the world.”

She smiled, “Goodbye, little bug. I wish you the best. Shine on.”

The little bug sat on the rock alone in the dark and thinking of the moon’s words. He sat on that rock for many, many days as he tried to find a spark of love inside his heart too. He finally found it and the spark grew and grew and grew until he glowed all over with a soft, pretty light.

“Wow,” he said. He flew over the valley shining his beautiful little glow everywhere for himself and thereby, for his friends who admired it.

He passed down the secret to his children who passed it down to their descendants.

Today, as the sun starts to sink into the horizon, the fireflies come out over all the valley to glow soft little lights. They light up the valley. They are so beautiful.

Now, also the fireflies are all over the world too. Little children love and admire them. They chase after the gentle, glowing bugs. They laugh when a little firefly lets them catch them. They open their hands in wonder to stare in awe at the glow of the little firefly.

How do they glow? The children ask themselves this question.

What is their secret?

Now you, little one, little child…you know the secret of the sun, the moon, the stars, and the fireflies. The secret is within you. The secret to shining for all is self-love.

Now, how will you shine your little light inside. Focus on it. Find it. Help it to grow and you too will soon learn how to glow. And when you glow, the whole world will be a happier place.

Britney Online

I began following Britney Spears on Instagram about a year ago. I don’t remember why. I think she was suggested. Her Instagram is full of light-hearted quotes, sunshiny videos with her looking pretty and offering words of positive advice, and then there’s videos of her dancing. The dance moves are energetic and talented. She looks amazingly in shape. Her house in the background looks posh. She doesn’t post negative stuff ever.

At first, I hearted a lot of her stuff. When I would see a post, I’d generally like it. But as a year went by, I started to skip over some videos. I didn’t do this in a mean spirit. I didn’t grow to dislike her at all. I think I just figured she had enough adoring fans. She didn’t need my like. And I started to dismiss her.

Dismissed. What does this action mean? I wish I had a better brain to fully analyze the psychology of dismission.

What I do know is being dismissed hurts.

Have you ever been in a job where you were dismissed? Have you ever been in a family and dismissed? What about a friend circle? Imagine it for a moment on a larger scale like celebrity.

Is dismission mean-hearted? Yes and no. I think the intention for dismission is not inherently evil. I think it is merely indifference. But it is mean. The absence of love is not hate but often indifference.

What does it mean to dismiss? Are you outright clearly disrespectful or choosing to obviously ignore? Yes and no again. Yes, you are disrespectful and ignoring another but no, your intention again is not mean-hearted and villainous.

I think dismission is even more insidious than outright dissing someone or hate. There is no clear and visible distinction so it is very difficult for the victim of dismissal to actually articulate their feelings of loneliness and isolation. They are denied their right to fight back.

I, too, know what it feels like to be dismissed. I think we all have experienced it at some point and it is not fun. I think people dismiss Britney and they have dismissed her feelings for more than a decade. How else can you explain what happened to her and what was condoned to happen with the conservatorship? The woman could run a billion dollar music empire but aparently needed others to manage her checkbook or schedule appointments for her.

I call bull.

What happened to Britney was wrong. I find it really interesting too that the majority of her Free Britney fan base has been young gay men who probably recognized in her this dismissal, someone pushed into a closet in the dark and not permitted to shine. And shine she does. Despite all that has happened to her, her posts are positive. She is a marvel to me.

I know what it feels like to feel dismissed, on the fence between outright hated or liked. It’s not fun. I have 550 posts on my Instagram with only a small group of friends and 1 or 2 likes per post. There is no return on investment of energy. And I think that is the problem with Britney. She pours out a massive amount of positivity and energy only to be met by poor return of investment. It’s hard to keep going on any endeavor when you get poor returns in the long term. Imagine if you had ten dollars and you invested it and got three dollars back again and again. Eventually there is no point in continuing. And yet Britney has and that is commendable. Think of all she went through.

So let her dance if it makes her happy. Mind your own business if you got something negative to say out of jealousy or envy. And like her posts every now and then. The woman deserves it. She’s a survivor of an unclear, passive aggressive form of abuse. I know I will be dismissed for speaking that truth but I don’t care.

https://www.regain.us/advice/psychology/what-is-psychological-invalidation-how-it-happens-and-its-effects/

Coincidence

In his book, Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey talks about love. He compares it to archery. He says, “The arrow doesn’t seek the target. The target draws the arrow.” He was probably talking about romantic love.

Many of us spend much of our lives chasing romantic love like Wiley Coyote and the Roadrunner. It evades us when we force it. But if we go with the flow enjoying life and the present moment, if we stop to “smell the roses” so to speak….that love will come sit down right beside us and we don’t even have to try…much like the Roadrunner going “beep beep” to get Wiley’s attention.

Bottomline, as I get older I don’t chase love as much. For one, my knees are bad. Chasing is exhausting and makes you want to drop an anvil on someone’s head with frustration when you fail. For another reason, there’s no point in it. Policing a man or woman gets you nowhere. Love will come to us when love is ready.

Beep, beep….

But tonight, I talk of a different kind of love…the love from pets. There have been only a few times in my life that I have been drawn to something or someone like a strong magnet. One of those times is the day I first encountered my second dog.

When I saw him, I knew in my heart I wanted that dog. I didn’t go to Petsmart to get a dog. That was the last thing on my mind. I was there to get fish food. I had brought my son and one of his friend’s along to the downtown shopping district. We were just enjoying the day.

Do you believe in random occurrences or are our steps ordered in some way as if predestined? Why do I say such gibberish? I will tell you why in a moment.

This is my second dog. I took him home from the pet store that day as a spur of the moment decision. I said I’d take him the moment the volunteer said his name.

Slushy.

Such an odd name for a reddish brown border collie like this:

Slushy was his name.

Why would that name make me instantly buy him?

This picture right here:

A 1982 Slushy doll on sale.

In 1982, my grandma bought me an Avon toy called Slushy the dog. I carried Slushy everywhere. I slept beside Slushy. I ate beside Slushy. Slushy never left my side….for years. He was my favorite toy comparable to a favorite blanket. I loved Slushy with all my little girl heart.

Slushy.

How is it possible that years later I would encounter the real life look-alike to my favorite childhood toy friend? Coincidence? Random fate? Or something more…

Today, I type this by the fireplace as Slushy sits beside me napping. The fire is warm and toasty. He is resting. His eyes are closed but I know if I shift just a little, he will open them to peer at me curiously….my toy brought to life in later years, just when I would need him most. I would need his friendship once again.

I sleep beside Slushy curled up near me sometimes. I eat beside Slushy. Once again, we are inseparable. And we will probably be inseparable to the end of the road for one of us, whomever that might be.

The Unconditional Love of Dogs

Man’s best friend.

On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate romance. But what of the other types of love, including the love for our pets?

I have two dogs. One is a mix of different breeds, probably Italian Greyhound and Jack Russell. That’s what my vet said. To me, he’s just a little white dog I got at the pound.

I tore my ACL in my knee and was limping around. In a few weeks, I planned to have surgery to repair it. It was a Saturday afternoon when the kids and I drove out to the Humane Society.

I did not pick the little white dog at first. In fact, no one seemed interested in him.

He sat in a steel cage alone in the small dog room. He looked miserable. He didn’t seem excited by my arrival like some other more bouncy dogs. He didn’t bark nor make a noise. He lay with his back facing me. I bypassed him and went to a cuddly little black furball dog and a few other cute and energetic ones.

We played with the others and were set on the black furball pup. Then one of the volunteers brought the little white dog out of his cage to clean the cage.

That’s when I realized exactly why everyone bypassed him…..he limped around on three legs. There was something wrong with him. I looked down at my own busted knee.

“What happened to his leg?” I asked the volunteer curiously.

“He needs a minor surgery on the ligament. Sometimes some breeds of dogs like Chihuahuas and such can be born with a leg problem.” She said sympathetically.

His leg was messed up. So was mine. We seemed fated to be together I suppose. We took the quiet, little white dog home that day. We named him Gizmo.

He had surgery for about $170 at the vet clinic. My knee surgery cost much more in the thousands. I shoulda had the vet fix my knee.

We walked together a lot in the weeks that followed. I hobbled along behind him grimacing in pain every now and then while he still hopped around on three legs. My knee got stronger every day with his help. Eventually he figured out too that he could step down on that fourth leg and it would work. I remember watching him that moment. He gingerly placed the leg down as if afraid of the pain but soon found there to be none. Now he bounces around the house. He runs and plays and wrestles with our other dog.

Nothing makes me smile bigger after a long day of work than to be greeted by the dogs at the door. I do believe all dogs go to heaven. They seem to bring out our better nature. Over the years, these dogs have greeted many visitors to our home with equal measure of love. Young and old. Pretty or not so much. Thin and thick. It doesn’t matter to them. And I think that’s what I like about dogs best. How unconditional their love and support can be. They treat every person like a good friend.

Yes, cats are softer and fluffier and easier to take care of. But a dog will lay beside you when you’re feeling blue. So this Valentine’s Day, remember not just the romantic love but also the love of companionship, an unconditional love mastered by dogs.

Little Pawn

My whole life, I admired the King and Queen.

Serene, graceful, and applauded.

Powerful and strong….aggressive.

Yet hiding behind the defenses of the lesser pieces.

As I became older, I pondered the knight or the bishop,

how they could think outside the box and level the playing field.

But, in my older years, I admire the pawn.

The one to first enter the fray with honest courage.

Who risks much although so little…..

One by one, swiped from the board unceremoniously and yet…

Relentless, undeterred, defiant against odds so stacked heavily against.

Yes, some days even the little pawn sees glory

when faced with such intimidating adversaries.

Maj General Nathanael Greene

One time while I was visiting my grandma at her farmhouse in Kansas, she showed me a bookcase full of old books. First she gave me a book she liked when she was little. It was called The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. I looked it up recently and saw online that this was turned into a movie at some point….I think with Henry Fonda. I read the book and liked it. Afterwards, she took me to the bookcase again. She told me that she had a special book. She pulled it off the shelf and gave it to me to keep. She told me it was about my ancestor.

I looked at the book. It was an old yellow book with yellow pages. The first pages were a map of Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It appeared to be a map about the Revolutionary War and showed images of Loyalists and Revolutionaries.

The book was called The Sound of Chariots. It was written by Helen Topping Miller. I still have this book to this day. I keep it in my own bookcase and showed it to my own children recently. My grandmother passed away sadly 5 years ago in Topeka, Kansas.

Her name was Ruth Margaret Green. She was married to Otis Patterson, a retiree of the U.S. Postal Service and WW2 vet. He was a crew chief for bomber mechanics at Wendling AFB in England. Basically, the planes flew in from bombing Europe and it was his job and his men’s jobs to repair the planes overnight and then they would fly out again in the morning for other bombing raids. He only flew over Europe once at the end of the war to see what Dresden looked like.

Grandma said we were related, though not directly, to a guy in this book called Nathanael Greene. For years, I truly did not understand much about this guy. He is considered to be one of the least known generals of the Revolutionary War, probably because he passed away just years afterwards in Georgia. He was a Maj General who led several battles in the south. He is considered a strategic leader of the war and a close personal friend of George Washington. From what I could read, he would attack and retreat over and over again against Lord Cornwallis forcing him up north to Yorktown where George Washington and his Army swooped in and defeated the British, forcing a surrender and final end to the war. Supposedly, Greene was a very smart guy. Nathanael Greene is also connected with the trial of Benedict Arnold and with the establishment of Westpoint Military Academy.

Grandma belonged to the Order of the Eastern Star and Grandpa was a Freemason. She also worked with Job’s Daughters. Grandma researched our background and said she tried to join Daughters of the Revolution but could not prove direct lineage.

This is what I know from Grandma. Her father’s name was Jesse Dale Green. Her grandfather’s name was Ira Weston Green. He lived during the late 1800s. That’s as far back as I can trace on this side.

From Nathanael Greene on Ancestry.com and other online websites, I traced down to his grandson, Nathanael S. Greene who lived from 1809 to 1899 in Bristol County, Rhode Island. On his tombstone reads the names of two wives and perhaps he had a total of three wives. The first wife listed on the tombstone is Sarah A. Munro from 1808 to 1832. The second wife listed on the tombstone is Lydia T. Cory from 1812-1880. From there the trail grows cold but there is one website online, a registry from St. Michael’s Church in Bristol County, R.I. The registry shows marriages, births, and deaths of parishioners. Under deaths, Sarah Munro is listed in 1832 as well as a son of Nathan Greene in 1843 in January and another unlisted child in 1843 in March. For births, it shows two entries for May 24, 1837. Apparently, these were twin boys named George William Greene and Francis Stanley Greene. It is not clear which woman is the mother of these two listed.

So from about 1837 to the late 1800s, there is an unexplained gap. I can’t seem to find out what happened to George William Greene or Francis Stanley Greene…..although I did find some records related to the Civil War military registry for a George William Greene but it is not clear if this is the same person.

Bottom line, I can’t find a definitive connection. I want to believe what my Grandma told me long ago but there’s a 60 year gap in the information provided. If we are related at all, it is probably either very, very indirectly or perhaps, illegitimately. It is hard to tell. Also, it is not clear what happened to all the children of the other wives listed on the tombstone for Nathanael S. Greene, the grandson of Nathanael Greene.

Some day, I hope to visit the birthplace of Nathanael Greene and find out more information possibly. Maybe I’ll bring that old book with me too. To this day, there are many counties in the United States that are named Greene or Green County and supposedly this traces back to the Maj General. For example, in Missouri across the border from here, is a Greene County where Springfield is located.

I looked online recently and saw that there are not a lot of statues of Nathanael Greene but one was involved with some controversy back in June or July of this year. I can understand why. From what I read, he may have had a plantation shortly after the war but then died soon afterwards. The Founding Fathers were definitely far from perfect role models for generations going forward. Yet, without the bravery, courage, fortitude, resilience, and brilliant military maneuverings of these men and women……we could still be a colony with restricted freedoms, rights, and privileges. Some, nowadays, may shy away from being affiliated with a person like this. I am happy to think that possibly somehow we could be related to this man they call “the strategist of the Revolutionary War.”

Maybe we are related. I hope. Some day, I ‘ll visit Rhode Island and maybe I can learn more.

Noel a Paris

They decided on the trip together. Usually they always spent Christmas with family but this year they wanted to try something different. Christmas was usually spent listening to Aunt Gabby’s cat stories or watching the family open presents one by one slowly. Mom usually made a big buffet and Dad usually always got a hunting gift. The grandkids would run around the house and someone would setup Christmas music on the TV. There would be hugs and family photos with ugly Christmas sweaters or Grinch pajamas sets. Generally, there would be some games…board games, card games, gingerbread house competitions and such. It was always great fun but also a little awkward at times with the big family reunion. There were lulls in conversation or points where one had to be tactful and polite, particularly in regards to political topics. And, hectic…it could be hectic too as the family packed up all the presents in the car. She’d fuss over everything especially the smashed bows on the presents or whether the tree lights should be left on while they were away. She’d always be the last to the car. The kids would be crowded together and arguing, nit-picking each other. He’d get frustrated and beep the horn.

Yeah.

Christmas with family…..

This year would be different. They talked about this months ago when she had received a great price deal on roundtrip tickets. She had stared at her monitor at her sales cubicle. She studied the advertisement photo of a beautiful lit-up Eiffel Tower on a starry night. Come spend Noel a Paris, the breath-taking City of Lights…that’s what the picture caption read. Usually she skipped these promo ads but this one for some reason had caught her eye.

It had taken some convincing for him. A couple of dinners together at night. She approached the subject each time after their kids had excused themselves from dinner. She talked to him while cleaning up dinner plates and putting food back in the fridge. Eventually, with some reluctance, he was on board too. It was probably the cheap airfare price that did it as he was an accountant by profession and nature, preferring to limit extravagant spending.

The day they left the kids at Grandma’s, it snowed a heck of a lot. The kids wished them a great trip. They hugged each one and told them to be good. He struggled to get the car through the growing snowdrifts and she watched the kids with her parents through her rear view side mirror on the passenger side until they were too far away in the distance.

The ride to the airport was blustery and cold. He had to keep the wipers and heat going on high mode. In comparison, the climate in Paris outside the terminal after their excruciatingly long flight was sunny and much less calamitous.

They managed to get to the hotel through the kindness of Parisian pedestrians and a taxi driver that pointed the way in English. Their understanding of the local language was beginner level at best but they did manage “merci” and “bonjour” from time to time.

They stayed at a four story hotel off the Champs Elysee and close to the St. Antoine de Exupery street where she’d read the couture shops were located. They ate French croissants for breakfast and wandered the streets of Paris for a day or two. They visited art museums and strolled past trendy boutiques for fashion. They went up the Eiffel Tower together and took many beautiful pictures of all of gorgeous Paris, the statues, the buildings, the homes, and the people.

It was super fantastic until Christmas eve around five o’clock. Suddenly the bustling streets and walkways of Paris were very quiet and empty. Everything had shut down…the shops, the restaurants, and all the other businesses. They walked together in the growing darkness on the still streets. They passed many brightly lit homes. There were people greeting each other happily on front steps with packages. Inside some cheery and warm homes, they could see people happily gathered in comraderie. They began to feel homesick and that feeling grew as they ate cheeseburgers at Planet Hollywood, the only place in Paris still open. They wandered back thoughtfully to their hotel room. They each got their small gift for one another. They sat on the bed and exchanged them. It was nice but the moment ended quickly and they looked around the room wandering what to do next. They ended up watching TV together and went to bed early. As they changed into pajamas, he looked at her and said, “ I kinda miss Aunt Gabby’s cat stories..”.

She smiled, relieved he felt the same way she did in that moment. She laughed, “Yeah, I miss them all too…especially the kids. I miss them so much tonight. Christmas isn’t the same without them….without family.”

They smiled and sat on the bed together. They called back home to Grandma’s and were happy when one of the cousin’s picked up the line. They spent a good while wishing the bustling and noisy household at Grandma’s a very Merry Christmas.

And that was the last time they skipped out on family time at Christmas.

The Christmas Gift

In college back in the late 90s, I worked at a large call center near the downtown shopping district and river. The call center was a large grey building with many small cubicles and monitors. There must have been around 200 telemarketers working there. The walls were covered with motivational posters and there were dry erase boards at the end of every aisle gauging sales performance of each worker group.

The entry level employees were hired at Christmas time for the holiday season of October, November, and December. Basically, if you performed well and made it through the holiday season, you would be hired on from the temp agency to work full-time at the higher levels of the call center. The second level was a phone repair line and the tiers above that were various cold calling projects.

The first level was an easy and fun job. Back then, we didn’t have a lot of online businesses and their websites. So, people would call us to place their Christmas orders in various catalogues that were sent to them in the mail. So the job went like this. A person would call in. You greet them and check their personal info as well as what catalogue they wanted to order from. Then together you flip through the catalogue and help them shop. Fun, right?! Who doesn’t like to shop??

Once they decided what they wanted, you placed the order on a computer (data entry stuff). Then you take their payment and process it. In the end, you wish them Happy Holidays and they hang up happy that their Christmas shopping is done.

A lot of times, you could also talk to the customers about their day or their job or home. Some were from NYC, some from California, some from Florida, etc. etc. You were also expected and encouraged to try to pitch a sale or two to the customer, recommending other items they might be interested in.

Around late October, all the telemarketers for this department were called together for a staff meeting to discuss ways to improve sales for the company. A large table was brought out displaying prizes you could receive for getting top sales.

I was in my second or third year of college and dating a ROTC cadet. On the prize table was a DVD set of military movies including Saving Private Ryan, a popular movie my boyfriend really liked.

I worked extra hard that Christmas season trying to get that DVD set. I took on more shifts and tried to do a couple of sales on each call. I really wanted to be a top performer just to get that DVD set and I told a couple of people including my supervisor that I intended to win that item from the table to give my boyfriend who was joining the Army.

Weeks and weeks of hard work and college went by. One day two days before Christmas, I walked into work and the prize table was gone. We were called together for a staff meeting. It was announced that the winners received their items they won from the table due to top sales performance. They thanked us for our hard work and wished us a Merry Christmas. The meeting was over and we got back to work.

I felt pretty down about it. I asked a couple of coworkers if they won and they said no too. We worked a long eight hour shift that day. I clocked out and bundled up in my coat and scarf to trudge out in the snow in the parking lot to my car.

It was dark outside and cold. I could see the steam from my breath as I walked out to my old Nissan Altima. There was someone standing by the back of my car. I recognized who it was. My supervisor was standing there. He was an older guy, good-looking and about 28 years old. He was from the coast, maybe Jersey or something like that cause he had an accent.

Anyway, I walked up to him and smiled but shivered some in the cold. I was curious why he was there.

He said, “ You’re a good kid. I know you worked hard this season and wanted this. Tell your boyfriend thank you for his service and Merry Christmas.”

He handed me a bag and started walking away in the snow. I looked in the bag and it was the DVD set. I looked up at him walking away. I said, “ I didn’t really win this, did I?”

He turned and looked at the building and he said, “ Nobody ever wins. They set that table out every year just to drive up sales.”

With that, he turned and kept walking. I hollered, “Thanks and Merry Christmas.” I had realized with a smile that somehow he had snuck the item off the table without others seeing. He lifted his hand to say goodbye and I got in my car and drove to my boyfriend’s apartment. He was pretty happy about the gift and I remember that we had a good Christmas that year.