Instead of Living Strong, How about Liiving United?

“The intense need to get to the top and then stay on the top seems very lonely.”

Graffiti Wall in Bisbee Arizona

Blue is not blue, black is not black, yellow no longer lives strong, and Fifty Shades of Grey is a crass and poorly-written novel that somehow found its way at the tippy top of the NY Times Best Seller list. And books like The Secret, well, they have twisted our minds so perversely that now we believe that our secrets will not make us sick, instead the truths we hide away will somehow give us super powers. Shazam! Our well-crafted guise, our posturing, or our little white-rationalized lies, otherwise known as our deceptive convictions, will take us to that very special place, a place where if we click our heels together and say three times out loud, “there is no place like home, there is no place like home, there is no place like home,” or better, if we say three times out loud, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky, I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky, I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky,” our buried secrets, our self-deceptions, our bald-faced lies, small town or big world, will ensure that our kids get straight As, medal in their sport [come on, I had to list this one. I live in an Olympian-Ski town], will always be the other kids’ fault, not get us kicked out of our church, get us invited to the right party, get us invited into the best book club, damn it, and if we dream big, our giant exaggerations will get us on, say, Oprah, land us our very own Reality Television Show, or at the very least, get us on Babbles Top 100 Blog list! Hollah! People, we can win the Tour De France or be President, the President of the United States! We are not liars. We are rephrasers of the truth.

Seriously, shame on anyone who calls us out. If someone ever exposes our truth we will not stop until they disappear. When questioned about an exposed truth, we will bully, deny, scream, and kick very, very hard. We will call the truth exposer crazy, but not fat, never fat. We will tell their friends and our friends they are crazy. We will get all of our friends to call them crazy. We will shame them, make a giant pariah out them, and we will pour a little gasoline all over them. Then we will walk right up to them, look them straight in the eye, because that’s what people who tell the truth do, match lit then tossed, and watch them burn. As they burn we will scream, “See. See how they hurt me! See!” As they burn, we will stand strong, stand high and stand proclaiming our truth! We will do anything to stay on top!

Is this really our world?

When you think about it, this false life our world begs us to play in is actually propelling us back into a creepy and backward-thinking parallel universe, a heavily-draped-and-veneered-1950’s-June-Cleaver-lovely-dinner-on-the-table-at-5-he-does-not-beat-me-if-the-bruises-do-not-show-and-the-photo-I-display-online-is-really-how-I-look fantasy world where things like competitive Facebook status updates, cleverly crafted Instagram shots, and all your Twitter followers only serve to perpetuate. You want us to know that in spite of your low blood sugar (severe clinical depression or bipolar disorder), your three-week-work-related-I-will-not-be-able-to-respond-to-any-calls-texts-or-emails training sessions [nudge nudge wink wink, your secret is safe here (REHAB)], your healthy eating habits, hey, you are even a RAW Foodie (Obsessive exercise, calorie counting & starvation), your Irritable Bowl Syndrome (Cocaine or Bulimia), your super awesome wardrobe (overwhelming debt or maybe a simple shopping addiction), your happy marriage (then why do you always take separate vacations, always), your kids who never do anything wrong (because you are always too drunk to notice), well, that you are much happier, richer, more successful, Christ loves you more, your teeth are whiter, your kids are smarter, and you are just happier than the rest of us, damn it! I do not blame you. It is this crazy world we live in. You are simply attached to the Matrix via that big giant plug shoved into the back of your skull like the rest of us.

Because Oprah talked to Lance the other day, I keep asking, what happened to the Oprah of yesterday, a time where she interviewed us common folk and interviewed us common folk with reckless abandon while we shared our truths; identical twins openly and proudly sleeping with fraternal twins while one was a cross dresser, the other gay, all the while fighting over paternity? And then I ask, “what happened to yesterday altogether, a day where things did not seem so damn competitive, litigation-based or fearful; a time where people were good enough simply because they lived the truth?” Ok, maybe that was an imaginary time, because when I think about my past, I technically know that before now I was young and if you think about it, young people tend to be honest, not jaded and open. My past was not daisy-filled. I just thought it was, and I am glad I did. Then I started to grow up and quickly learned that my what-you-see-is-what-you-get perspective had no place in this world. “You are too honest and too direct,” is what I was told. “Keep your mouth shut!” I always thought it was me.

From where I sit now and it is really from where I lie, because I am tucked away here in my bed, it seems that even Oprah has been affected. James Frey may or may not have been the beginning with his Million Little Pieces SNAFU, and who cares if he lied. James is living the dream, writing bestsellers, making movies, making lots of cash, and in truth, his big lie has been a small price to pay. James Frey, Oprah and up until now, Lance Armstrong, were the types of people we have been taught we should aspire to be.

Call me crazy. Wait. You already have [wink wink], but I want to aspire to the truth. I want to be ok saying how I feel. I want my boys to feel good, even though they are not on the ski team. It is so weird because I know I have been blessed. I know I live in a lovely house, which is located in a lovely town, yet even my boys feel the tug of being less than? “Mom, why isn’t our house as big as so and so’s?” What the what? Why can’t we just be ok? Why can’t being a good cyclist be good enough…starters, just for starters?

Somehow I fear that slowly, but surely our Little-Engine-that-Could-you-can-have-it-all world with all of its lies, cruelty and competition is turning into a Post Apocalyptic Dystopian World I have read about and fear, a more, every-man-for-himself-literally-to-the-death Cormac-McCarthy’s-The-Road kind of world then a Stephanie-Meyers-(The Twilight Lady’s)-latest-incarnation-The-Host world, which really with its sparkles and paranormal teen romance wouldn’t be all bad, would it? I mean, come on, what’s a little sparkly-alien-body-possession really going to do to you…Oh wait! It already has done something to us and that is the point, isn’t it?

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The Blue, REPORT-A-BULLY, Paper Does Not Work . . .

. . . Bullies do not stop! Bullies are not always who we expect them to be.  Who do you blame, because Bullies are often Bullied? Kids who do not Bully or are not Bullied keep their mouths shut. They keep their mouth shut maybe because it is easier to fly under the radar.  Learning Tolerance? I am not sure if I buy it. I hope this new anti-bullying movie, BULLY, makes an impact. I really do! I do think  the movie will let kids at least know that they are not alone and that they have someone who will listen. 

The Blue Bully Sheet

Before I get into things let me throw out this DISCLAIMER. Dave and I are far from perfect, especially as parents. I am very aware that my kids are not perfect either. I also can tell you that my sons have been accused by friends, acquaintances, church folk and family of being unkind and mean. When I come to their aid I have been called a liar, ignorant and my personal favorite said by a random mom, “My son would never lie. I feel it in my gut. He is telling me the truth. He did NOT PUNCH Eli in the face. Eli must have done something to him,” The end! I have also been called out on my bad parenting  (a few times) and have been told my kids are hopeless (another story for another day). Not only are Kyle and Eli not always on their best behavior, they are also big kids. They have a lot of energy and do not always make the best choices. One is often referred to as a know-it-all and the other often has a less-than-appropriate sense of humor. If the second was asked, he would probably admit that his less-than appropriate sense of humor has hurt a feeling or many.  Thankfully I have been told by the teachers of the suspected know-it-all that he really does listen and let others speak. Yay for good teachers!
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Sex, Drugs & Bullies: Middle School is Keeping Me on my Toes

The Boys Shoveling the Driveway


Kyle and Eli were each doing their homework. I was sitting next to them. Somehow our conversation led us here:

Me: “What do you guys think of bullies and bullying?”

Kyle: “Don’t do it. It is mean. And you know you have a good friend if they will stick up for you.”

Me: “What are bullies like?”

Kyle:  “Bullies are liked the little deformed guppy (I have no idea what he means by this). They are always mean to you just because they are.”

Eli: “If you win something that you can share, then all of a sudden the bully will be really nice to  you because they want what you have.”

Eli continued to tell me that bullies are people who are not your friends and that they are only nice to you if you are good at sports. Really and more specifically, they are only nice to you when you are playing the sports you are good at, you can make them look even better by helping them win.

“Son. You have figured out humanity. Really. You have.” I responded and then thought to myself because what I was thinking was way too cynical to fill the head of a ten year old boy, “Make people feel good about themselves. Of course the kid only likes you at sports. Thank God you are good at sports or your life would really suck.  You help him look better because it is all about him winning. Yes and tell him how awesome he is. Then he will always pick you on his team and because he always picks you, the other kids will eventually see that you are cool too. Oh and ignore others who are being hurt by him.  You do want to get into that mess. It will only draw unneeded attention to yourself.  Be a Sycophant! Most importantly, only tell the bully what he wants to hear.”

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