Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Color of Impetus is Teal Green

Here's a thing you probably don't know about me.

Sometimes I feel exceedingly sorry for myself because I have ugly furniture.

It's 15 years old, and it's teal green. It seemed like a good choice at the time. Now, it's a choice I am grievously sorry to have made. Sometimes I think it was terribly shortsighted to select this teal green monstrosity residing in my living room, but really, how was I to know that it ten years teal green would become the beribboned ceramic ducks of the furniture family?

I desperately want new living room furniture. But we live on one income, and there are other priorities at the moment. Husband and I, after spending five solid years digging ourselves out from under an embarassingly huge mountain of debt, have resolved not to live beyond our means again. So no new furniture for me.

Sometimes, I pity myself a lot because of my furniture situation.

It's a symbol; a glaring testament to all that I don't have, you see. Regular haircuts at a good salon. Just one really good designer bag. Hardwood floors to replace the stained and threadbare carpeting. Filet instead of Ribeye once in a while. A van that doesn't smell like someone else's feet.

Sometimes, a thing happens to really illuminate how much I have allowed myself to be influenced by the perversity of priorities that our society has embraced; how entitlement issues and the need for instant gratification have driven us to become a nation of greedy soulless consumers who settle for superficial perfection rather than striving for spiritual and emotional fulfillment.

Tonight the instrument of my epiphany was a machine that is entirely commonplace in the reality of my greater social sphere, but one that would be considered an almost inconceivable extravagance in many countries.

My DVD player.

We watched the movie, "Pursuit of Happiness".

Jesus.

Now, I live in a huge, sprawling Metropolis. Homelessness is nothing new to me. But sometimes, when you are confronted with a thing every day, the sheer scope of it is lost in the familiarity.

I don't bat an eyelash when there is a panhandler on the freeway or a bag lady collecting change at the local Starbucks. I give them money when I have it. But I don't often stop and think about how they got to where they are.

I don't think I want to.

But this movie forced me to confront a truth that most of us would rather deny, because it saves us from the knowledge that we are only a little bad luck away from that freeway exit.

At one point during the movie, Chris Gardener and his son are forced to seek accomodation for the night at a homeless shelter, after spending the previous night in a subway bathroom. He is told to be there at 5:00 in order to get a room and he races over, propelled by the certainty of a safe haven for his 5 year old son. But when he reaches the shelter, he sees that there are so many people...so many people...

The defeat, oh God, the defeat that man must have felt at that moment.

At this point, Diminutive One interrupted the movie to ask a question.

"Mom...are all those people trying to get a room?"

Both Husband and I were near tears, and it was I who was able to speak first.

"Yes." I croaked.

"How many rooms are there?" he asked worriedly.

"Not enough, honey."

"But how many?" he persisted.

"It doesn't matter how any rooms there are, babe, there will always be people with no place to sleep."

I tried to say this gently, but it didn't feel gentle on my tongue. It felt harsh and heavy and wrong. It felt shameful.

After a very long pause, he said, "That kind of makes me feel like crying."

"Me too." I said.

And it did. I felt as if I could weep for a month and still have tears to shed.

And I found myself thinking about how many children could lay their heads down on my ugly teal green furniture. Three, if they were small. And how many adults could breathe easy for just one night, watching their children dream in my shabby living room with the stained carpet?

As if reading my turbulent thoughts, Diminutive One said,

"We have lots of room Mom."

Yes. We do. And though I will never love my ugly furniture, I am now very aware of that fact that hating it is a luxury with which I have vaccinated myself against the ugliness of need.

Let it be a testament then. A testament to safety and privilege and warmth and full bellies. To Childhood with all the trimmings. To the luxury of "enough".

Enough. Yes, I like that better than empty, pointless longing.

I've been thinking about this for a while. And Jen, over at One Plus Two has been prodding my conscience with her beautiful posts and her giving soul. And this movie...it was profoundly moving and very mobilizing.

Yes, we have lots of room, but what I also have is lots of time and children who have everything they need. I don't do very much that makes a difference in this world. I think it's time. I've decided that when school starts, I am going to volunteer at a local Children's Shelter. They provide day shelter for homeless children, and support for their families in their efforts to become self-sufficient.

I can do that. And though maybe "enough" is still far from being a reality for far too many...it's a beginning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

June 2007 Perfect Post Awards


I'd like to thank P, over at Rocking the Cradle, who is a newish writer to me, but whom I enjoy very, very much, and the incomparable Mom-101, who is a fantastic writer, has the job I always dreamed of, and has sort of been my bloggy mentor, for awarding me the June Perfect Post award for my piece "The Gift".

You can find all the nominated pieces over at MommaK's place. Go give 'em a read. There's some awesome stuff from some awesome writers.

20 Comments:

  • At 5:07 PM, Blogger slouching mom said…

    Oh, BA, this was so incredibly moving.

    And so was "The Pursuit of Happyness."

     
  • At 8:01 PM, Blogger Lotta said…

    What a great post. And a good reminder when I get the gimmes.

     
  • At 8:50 PM, Blogger Simon said…

    Your post says a lot. We tend not to appreciate what we have and how lucky we are in comparison to those who have not.

    I've been a "have not", fortunately, not for long. It is a frightening and desperate state to be in. You don't know if tomorrow will be there, particularly in the cold of winter. Your belly hurts because you have neither food, nor the money to buy it and you can see no way out. You are at the bottom of the pit and there is no ladder.

    I had a rope thrown to me and was able to climb out of that pit. I shall be eternally grateful for that. I wish I could throw that same rope to all the others in this world who are in a similar plight.

     
  • At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Izzy said…

    I think that's an awesome and wonderful thing to do. Before my second was born and my first was still in preschool, I looked into doing something similar with an organization here that does so much good in out city.

    Then my father died and I got pregnant and all my big plans flew out the window. But I always said that once both my kids were in school, that my free time will be used to help others and as soon as my kids are old enough, I want them to come with me and see what life is like for those less fortunate.

    Even living practically paycheck to paycheck, we are luckier than my children will hopefully ever know firsthand.

     
  • At 10:46 PM, Blogger margalit said…

    What an inspiring post. We've been homeless. I think you probably know that. We went for 9 LONG months staying in a friends house. It was hard. It wasn't comfortable. It was embarassing. But we did it because we had to in order to move on. I learned a huge amount about charity, about giving selflessly, and about those that give because they don't really think about the recipients. Those who donate food from their pantries that are so long out of date that nobody would dare eat them. Those that donate the free bottles they got in hotels instead of buying a $.99 bottle of Suave. Those that give broken toys, or dirty stained clothing, thinking that the poor should be grateful to get their castoffs.

    The poor aren't grateful when they know that the castoffs come from very rich people that just don't even bother to go out of their way to make a donation. The poor don't want to eat tainted food. They don't want their kids to wear tattered clothing. They want to be just like you, and now me. They want their kids to be proud of their appearance. They want their families to eat healthy food. They want their kids to have what other kids have. They DO NOT want to be in shelters. They DO NOT want to be pitied. They DO NOT want to be castigated as lazy, spineless, drains on society, etc. They just want a chance. Like Chris Gardner had in that movie. He had a chance to make his life better.

    How many other wall street firms are giving jobs to the homeless? how many other of ANY companies will hire the homeless? Sure, it's easy to yell "get a job" but nobody hands out jobs to people with no address.

    Homeless and poverty are serious things in the US (and in Canada, I found out). But we pretend that it isn't happening, and when confronted with it, we scream, "Those lazy welfare cheats won't work" because that's easier than doing what you plan to do. Get off their complaining asses and DO SOMETHING positive. Make changes by doing something to help. Nope, it's easier to just pretend that poverty is all the fault of the poor. Cause that makes SO much sense.

    Good for you. I do volunteer work too, and it makes a huge difference in how you feel about yourself.

     
  • At 11:43 PM, Blogger jen said…

    tears. in my eyes. oh, friend.

    i've been to the shelter in that movie. Reverend Cecil, he is the Real Deal. And Chris, there are so many Chris'...and yet not with the happy ending, not so much.

    Those kids will love you. You will love those kids. I wish I could go with you.

    thank you, thank you, thank you for this post.

     
  • At 11:54 PM, Blogger Lara said…

    wow, that was amazingly beautiful. i think it's great that you're going to start volunteering. and even greater that you wrote about it so that we could all think of ways to help in our own communities. thanks for that.

     
  • At 2:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    BA, this is a powerful post; one of your best, ever.

     
  • At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Antique Mommy said…

    We were staying at a hotel last fall. Sean had just turned 3 and was enjoying looking out the windows of the room naming all the stuff he could see. Across the street was a park and there were homeless people. Sean asked his daddy why didn't they go home, it was getting dark. AD said, maybe they don't have a home to go to (gulp). Then he asked, why don't they get a hotel room, just like us. Another gulp. AD handled it perfectly explaining how blessed we were. Not sure it sunk in, but you plant the seed of compassion and keep watering. Someday we will have him working in a homeless shelter.

    And here let me say, after 15 years and two boys, you would REALLY have regretted beige furniture.

     
  • At 8:02 AM, Blogger Kirdy said…

    Great post, as usual. I'm glad you have found an outlet.

     
  • At 8:20 AM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    That movie beat me down because you're right, no one wants to think about homelessness. Especially not children who are homeless. We should all help where we can.

     
  • At 10:08 AM, Blogger Jenn said…

    So, so beautiful of you.

    I was in tears reading this...what an amazing example to your children, your neighbors and everyone.

    You rock, dude.

     
  • At 12:20 PM, Blogger Natalie said…

    I think you will just love your volunteer work. I haven't brought myself to watch Pursuit of Happiness because I just don't know if I can. I've seen homelessness up close (not personally though, thank God) and it is incredibly painful.

    As for the couches, there are always slipcovers.

     
  • At 3:23 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    Well, now there are tears in my eyes. I often lie in bed in my humongous bedroom in my large home and think of how many families live in places smaller than my room, if they have a place to live at all. I really admire you taking action to help others.

     
  • At 1:14 PM, Blogger Christine said…

    When my father died, he was homeless. He literally died in a gutter, next to his car.

    I always try to remember that each homeless person I encounter was once a little babe being cradled in their mother's arms. Or maybe a daddy that once lovingly held their little babies in their arms. Or taught their daughter to ride a bike without training wheels.

     
  • At 1:16 PM, Blogger Lucy's Mom said…

    The Pursuit of Happyness was an incredible movie and it surely made me stop and think just how lucky we are. I've been terribly poor and out of work and counting pennies, but I've never not had a place to lay my head down and a roof over my head. I just can't imagine. Your post is inspiring. I've thought of volunteering at a homeless shelter, now I believe I'll go past the thinking stage and do something. Thanks.

    As for the furniture, go to auctions. Incredible deals, cheap prices.

     
  • At 1:38 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    You always seem to hit the nail on the head. Sometimes we need these experiences to remind ourselves of how very rich we actually are.

     
  • At 2:53 PM, Anonymous stella said…

    great post.

    and i figured id introduce myself, because kristen is a friend...and she is moving here...and mentions you as a ATLANTA blogger..and well so am i...so

    hello!

    isn't it HOT AS SHIT?

    s

     
  • At 2:56 PM, Anonymous stella said…

    and one other thing.

    you clearly must have yet to savor this intoxication that is a Dekalb County Farmer's market

    RIB EYE? you will never want for those million dollar filet's ever again.

    i plomise. go get you one! and bring your wallet. they aint cheap. but cheaper than the filet.

     
  • At 9:46 AM, Blogger karla said…

    What a beautiful post. And volunteering really does wonders for your soul. My first born daughter died shortly after being born, and that impacted me in a way that I cannot fully put into words, but one thing I new for certain, was that life was far too short to sweat the small stuff.

    And so, I never returned to work, and instead decided to volunteer. Which, I know I am blessed to have a husband that supported that decision and we could manage financially, but it was so very humbling.

    One of the most impactful nights of my life was spent keeping those left behind by family in an old age home company on Christmas Eve.

    It was a life changing experience.

     

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