Gorillaphant

This is hard. Two rights searching for a way to avoid a wrong, to find the correct solution without breaching strongly held opinions.  Right now the Republican/Democratic primary ads reinforce the conventional wisdom of, “I win at any cost.  You loose.  I am right even if I twist the truth.  You are wrong.”

Surely there are  bits of history and wisdom earned by sorting  decisions  deeply affecting self and others. We need to find that narrow place allowing wiggle room.  It is too painful to believe that every solution must have winner/looser paradigm.

Together, back and forth, we have traded thoughts, being careful to manage the emotion and continue to express nearly opposite opinions. We have acknowledged that there is spillage from other life situations causing some added stress and coloring this disagreement.

But it is there–that gorillaphant in the room. Over? Under? Through? Around? This IS hard.  This is one of those inescapable and annoying life lessons.  Surely, one person does not have to lose so another person can win.

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At The Pool

by Pat Antonopoulos

Monday morning, 8:00 AM, and only four in the pool. We barely made a blip on the usual echo that seems built into the walls of high school swimming pools.

For years, Bob has been the sole male in the group dutifully coming because he knows how much I relish the hour of cool water and self imposed solitude at the deeper end.

We rarely follow the instructor’s shouted routine, instead swimming to whatever tempo fits the morning. When the group is large this is fine, but on Monday, we decided to stay with the instructor, laughing about finally getting the behavior disordered couple to join the group.

M., the lifeguard, climbed down from the tower-chair and pulled a lawn chair close to the pool’s edge where we clustered to start the warm-up. M. is friendly with the uninhibited charm that grumps and smiles with equal intensity.

“So uh… you guys are like fun to watch…uh.. so how long you guys been married?”
Who knew we were even being watched!
Who knew that we would stutter over finding the right answer.

“Not long enough” and “Better ask her” were the first attempts.
M. laughed at our confusion and didn’t let up. “So…how long?”

“Well, we met in high school, lost track of one another and reconnected about 25 years ago…so I think we have been married close to 25 years, give or take.”
We all laughed at my attempt at numbering our time together.

“Nope. It will be 28 years the first of December. Maybe about December 3 or December 6…or close to that date.”
Bob had the years, but not the date, that we should celebrate.

We had a fun morning as the nonsense escalated and the hour ended with my promise that I would check the date and have the answer on Wednesday.

This isn’t a senior moment or a brain fog story. It is just the way we have always been. The exact information is printed on a small card tucked in a drawer, should it ever be important to someone. Of course, we have checked it, made a mental note to remember and promptly forgotten again.

I think this means that the years ahead are more important than the years past— and that the now is most important.

Up The Down

by Pat Antonopoulos

Some years ago, there was a movie or a TV program called “Up The Down Staircase”. Never watched it but loved the title. Something, some force is pushing down yet going up is worth the contradiction. One of the natural world’s ‘up the down staircase’ is the salmon, ready to spawn new life, fighting upstream currents and hungry bears. Don’t see any hungry bears lurking about, but feel the pull of oppositional currents.

It has been so easy to share joyful moments of Four Ordinary Women with you, Gentle Reader. And there have been many—Keeler Women’s Center, Rainy Day Books, Westwood Hills Book Club, Borders on Metcalf, Cedar Roe Library, House of Menuha–times of friendship, connection, gratitude and validation. But not all experiences surrounding the life of a new book have been completely positive. There is interesting work in discovering and handling the currents. Challenges are constant. And, of course, the negative makes the positive more important. Which makes those of you who participated in our author events very appreciated. Thank you.

Menuha

by Pat Antonopoulos

Menuha is Hebrew for rest.
House of Menuha expands the definition to purposeful rest.
Last evening, September 23, Sister Annie welcomed twelve women to share the Menuha time and table. Many ages and life callings were represented as we shared the meal prepared by volunteers.
Within the short two hours, we became connected on a purposeful level of rest and refreshment. Hearts did speak to one another.
Generous women of conviction and caring supported one another in the atmosphere created by this house that purpose built.
It was a privilege to be part of the group.
http://www.menuha.org opens a door to gracious acceptance of our efforts to become authentic women.

Betwixt & Between—More Jelly To The Tree

by Pat Antonopoulos

If you, Gentle Reader, are a regular visitor to our blog, you know I can get mired in something that struggles in the beginning—and completely flounders at the end. That ‘something’ often lurks at the edge of my awareness for weeks as I try to sort the slots.

Communication is the ‘how’ when we want the ‘why’ of relationships. We care about another person and we want the best for that developing relationship. Communication is the ‘how’ of that growth.

Knee-jerk verbal put-downs directed at others and self deprecating whispers used against self have to be first cousins, if not blood.

Cannot imagine any relationship being improved by the quick tongue that blurts the negative. Even if the negative is directed at someone who is not present, the damage is real. We emotionally back away not wanting to be the recipient the next time a harsh remark is thrown. We learn to mistrust.

Where is the source of the belief that negative words should always be spoken? Why are we so quick to find fault?

Maybe (and this is a quarter’s worth of home-spun) we carry that negative with us because it became part of us in an early formative time. Self-criticism gets awfully heavy and shame sours joy. Guilt suffocates and we cannot sustain it without relief so we morph guilt into anger. Trouble is that the anger is often very misdirected.

Betwixt & Between

Conspiracy

by Pat Antonopoulos

“Nana?” Conspiratorial whisper from a five year old.
“Guess what, Nana? Pirates don’t work on Halloween.”

“Oh? Um. Busy on the high seas, are they? Well, what about Robin Hood? Or that Knight with all the tough-to-sew shine? Those guys do Halloween?”

“Nana? This is for real! I need to ask you something. Is it OK to ask you for something? Can you mail my scooter to Greenville. I NEED it so I can drive like Cruella when I wear my new costume.”

Nana’s no fool, right? I get it. Say no more.

Back story.
Back story is now a buzz word for a simple way to fill the blanks.
So a quick replay of July.
Then four years old, Frank was continuously tearing up and down the driveway doing wheelies, near crashes and midair turns while shouting, “Puppies. Where are the puppies?’

Disney created this androgynous creature, Cruella DeVille—flying fur cape, coal black hair with one long white streak and the bony structure of a cloth draped skeleton. Her henchmen drove the Cruella-Mobile with the abandon of the guy who owns the insurance company.

If the sun did come up this morning, then Frank will not only get his new costume, but the Antonopoulos Delivery Mobile will make the 17 hour drive. What good is a costume without the vehicle for wheelies, near crashes and midair turns?
I love being Nana.

Cedar Roe Library

by Pat Antonopoulos

We moved to the area in 1964 and my children grew up a bike ride from Cedar Roe Library. Our “Four Ordinary Women” writing and support group began meeting at the library in 2001. Last evening, September 16, 2009, we were privileged to have an author event in the meeting room at Cedar Roe Library.

1964 to 2009—45 years of connection that shaped our lives.

The book signing was amazing. Library personnel were most gracious and attentive. The chairs were filled with a receptive audience who offered comments and questions.Friends and colleagues from years past came to share our evening.

Today is my 71st birthday and last evening at Cedar Roe was a very special gift.
My sincere thanks to everyone who gave me this once-in-a-lifetime present of time, appreciation and validation. Happy Birthday to me.